Patrones 317 (June 2012)

June’s Patrones is all about holidays! Yay,  lot’s of cute shorts, floaty tops and dresses, except that I am not on holiday 😦 hehe

It’s also still winter here for another month. But anyway, these pink shorts below are my favourite, maybe a bit too short short but I can fix that. I like the nice wide waistband, cuffs and little pleats.

I quite like this top and skirt but the photo is terrible! What is going on? They’ve also managed to make the skirt look like a pair of shorts. A cute dress in a cute print is next.

I scanned these pages mostly for my second favourite pair of shorts but the dress is nice too. I am seeing a bit of a psychedelic animal print theme. Ohh and the shoes!

I can’t decide if I like these pants or not, the detail is kind of funky on the left leg, could I pull it off? A funky zip up vest is next. 

I‘m not really taken by any of the dresses in the glamour section, I’m not really in a frou frou mood today and I think I am too busy dreaming about making shorts in Summer 😉

The plus section this month is huge and very nice (although I’m not quite sure how this model is considered “plus”):

I included this cover-up because it reminded me that an ex-colleague of mine had a very similar top and was always trying to convince me to make her a few more just like it.

These linen pants look super comfy and would be worth grading down or actually I guess I could just make myself some pants in linen! 😉

Next month is the “extra” issue which is always really good.

“A dress for every occasion, perfect party, long and short, all year”, “always sexy mini dresses (?!)” and more interestingly “Vintage Ideas” and “A Tribute to the 50s”, nice!


Super Magazine Post: Manequin 632 & Patrones 310 & 311

Apologies that I have been a bit slow with my scanning lately. The good news is that my scanner and my computer are now vaguely grumbling at each other, which is better than the straight out ignoring that was happening before 😉

I’ve had a really busy two weeks and last weekend I tagged along with Nerdy Hubby to help out with some field work in the upper North Island. We drove about 920 kilometres in two days which is a lot when you consider the North Island is only about 1100kms in total from top to tail. So hence my brain is a little bit fried and when I tried to write some intelligent things to accompany my scanned images I failed. I found I was just writing “I like this (insert item of clothing here), it’s pretty” over and over.

So here are a few less words than I originally intended and some pretty pictures to inspire you 🙂

Patrones 310 (Winter Special) starts with a pretty sparkly number to kick off the festive season. The dress itself is quite simple, but that can be a good thing when sewing sequins.

I like this cute little shrug/bolero too, would look great over the sparkles.

The next section is a little bit pirate but the book series I have just finished reading has a sexy pirate side-kick siren in it and this is exactly how I imagine her so excuse my indulgence.

A nice bustier pattern that could be easily embellished and the rest might come in handy next Halloween.

I am quite disturbed by the trousers #20, I have no idea what is going on in the crotch area and clearly, judging by the models pose, Patrones don’t want you to know either.

Classic strapless dresses feature in the central section, I like #34 but #36 and #37 are my favourites, super elegant.

From the plus section we have this nicely detailed layered dress in emerald-green, Patrones always do a great job of their “Grandes” patterns.

Patrones 311 (Spring advance) begins with some sweet dresses. I like the neck line and pleats of the blue dress and it looks great with the blazer. The green dress I am not 100% sure of, I like the look on the model but…

You all know I am a bit vest obsessed right now and this issue has a vest for everyone, you name the style, from military to glitzy, and there’s one here for you.

There are some super cute baby patterns in this issue too. Don’t get any ideas but I think that apron/wrap is just great and the little boys outfit is very smart.

Next month is the Spring Special, I tried translating the blurb with Google. It usually does a pretty good job but this time, not so much. Something along the lines of “positive air” spring fashion, comfortable designs that feel good, happy tendencies, flirtatious woman’s clothing including light blouses, shorts and dresses.

Actually Jacqui has already received her issue so pop over here to check out her review 🙂

January Manequim starts with some trend ideas, I think this is quite a sweet way to embellish a simple top, except that I’d probably be constantly knocking them off and have to re-sew them back on.

This white dress in the celebrity style section is really interesting, it looks a bit Grecian in white but I think would look even better in a strong solid colour or large-scale print.

There is a short plus section in this issue too, the model is gorgeous. This skirt and top are really nice, the skirt is panelled and I think it might even have pockets. I wish they’d left the metal zipper in the front of the top but that wouldn’t be hard to insert if you agree.

Lots of short flirty skirts and nice tops in the central section. The wrap around top #103 looks really interesting, I’ve included the layout for you to see and the fabric is gorgeous too.

I think this tunic dress pattern would be great for using up those beautiful remnants from other projects or that amazing <1m piece you dug out of the remnant bin at the fabric shop (I have my fair share of those!). Love the pleat detail on the skirt of the blue dress, I’ve seen it on quite a few dresses in the shops recently.

The designer section this month is Céline. My favourites are this gold 60s inspired sheath dress, it’s simple in shape but the pink and black band really makes it pop (sized in a 44, perfect!). The black and white top I also fabulous, very versatile and I’m thinking about tracing it out this weekend.

I think we’ve seen a similar pattern to this vest before, perhaps with a bit of extra embellishment, but it’s a vest, so two thumbs up from me.

Manequim were due for another WTF moment, it’s been a while, so here is this month’s – The new office trend: bare midriff over pencil skirt, perfect for a day at the office…

Summer is quickly disappearing here, and I’ve been contemplating a cropped or short sleeve blazer of some sort. This blue one is nice, my other options are this jacket which I fell in love with instantly from Manequim (already traced) and I also own this Butterick pattern (view C or D maybe).

I’ve never been a big fan of one-shouldered dresses but this yellow number has swayed me and even the white inspiration image is pretty hot.

Red dress = pretty…words.running.out…

And here’s next months preview, colourful and yummy at the same item, just the way I like it 😉 Melissa’s already received her issue before me so you should pop over and take a look for yourself.

Constructing, failing and saving the NSFW Dress (#12 Patrones 289)

I regret to report that not a lot of sewing has been happening lately. I have arranged and rearranged my sewing room three times but I think I am now happy with it. After a week of not feeling very well I am getting my sewing mojo back and hoping to get through a few UFOs this week so my brain can move on with new projects. So for now I thought I’d finally post the construction of my “maxi”dress.

Suspiciously absent rear image? Does this make you nervous? You should be…

I called this dress the NSFW dress, because there is far too much boob action and I cannot wear a bra with it. It’s not meant for work anyway, it’s meant for summer and the beach, two things that are several months away here in Wellington. Also, it’s NSFW because there was a lot of swearing involved in the process…let’s talk about that shall we? 🙂

I’d wanted a maxi style dress for a while, something to run around the house on a hot day in, nip down to the beach or to the shops and feel pretty. It was meant to be a bit of fun sewing, a quick project to get my sewing mojo back on track but the facts are that it almost killed me. The reward is that by the end of it I realized that if I stick with a project, through all its (many) problems, nut out the solutions and then get it done without moving on to something else I get an amazing feeling of satisfaction, who would have thought?

The truth is the only thing that kept this dress alive was the fact that I am completely in love with the fabric, I just couldn’t let it beat me. And I do admit, that while thinking through solutions to the fitting problems that reared their head I did cut out a new project, but I didn’t officially start anything new until I sorted this one out.

So, on to how I made this dress:

Want a sneak peek of me preparing my pattern pieces? Here’s me laid out on the dining room floor, piecing together parts of each piece, the skirt was so large it was 3 pieces for the front and 3 for the back…I didn’t copy enough sheets so I had to supplement with tracing paper (the yellow stuff).

Constructing the pattern

Here is the pattern layout (sorry it’s a photo, not a scan, I haven’t got that set up yet):

Dress #12 from Patrones 289

This dress is fairly basic in terms of pattern pieces. Two triangles make up the bodice with long rectangles for the neck ties. There is a front skirt piece and a back skirt piece, both cut on the fold and an extra rectangle that makes up the shirred rear panel.

Because my cotton fabric was very light weight and therefore see-through I chose to underline the entire dress. I cut all pieces from my printed fabrics and then again (except for the shirred panel rectangle and neck ties) from a plain white cotton of similar weight.

Laying out

I was super excited about my first project involving shirring so I tackled that first. Following what I read in a couple of my sewing books and online I hand-wound the elastic thread onto my bobbin while putting a little tension on the elastic. It was quite fiddly and I dropped the bobbin several times undoing my hard work but eventually I got into a kind of rhythm. I put the elastic thread on one of my machines spools to give me both hands free to fill the bobbin. I filled it all the way since I had no idea how quickly I’d go through it and then I threaded it up. Your bobbin goes in the normal place (obviously) but thread your needle with your usual thread choice, I am using a white Gutterman 100% polyester thread.

I always do a test when I try something new or reset my machines settings. Use a scrap of the actual fabric you are using, in this instance I folded it double since I’ll be sewing through two layers when I do my real shirring. Here is my first practice attempt:

Because this fabric is quite thin, I upped my tension to 5 and just had a go. It seemed to be the right choice so I moved straight on to the real fabric piece.

Fold the rectangle in half, wrong sides together and mark your line spacing, the pattern instructions suggest 1cm intervals and when marked out this left a perfect 1.5cm seam allowance at the bottom edge. I used a chalk marker but you could use a quilting foot with adjustable guide if you want.

Place the rectangle under your machine and start your shirring. Leave a decent thread tail when you start and at the end of your first line leave another. Pull your top thread to the back and knot it off with the elastic thread.

When you sew your second line and so on stretch your fabric flat again as you sew.

All the lines stitched…

I wasn’t really sure how to go about underlining this dress as it was the first time I have tried it so the first thing I did was stitch the side seams on both skirt pieces skirt.

Ahh, after the wedding dress I’m happy to admit that I am a little over white thread and loooong straight seams and my sewing machines will only go so fast no matter how hard I push on the pedal 🙂 Amongst my other nerdy talents I’m also a bit of a car girl but I only lead-foot it in my sewing room, hehe

Then I slipped the lining skirt inside the outer skirt, pinned and basted the front pleats.


It’s always fun to try things on Scarlett even when they are nowhere near finished yet. I was concerned at this point that the skirt was HUGE and would swallow me whole. This is not just a case of picking the wrong pattern size, I think it is more the pleats, we just don’t get along. I had the same problem when I attempted this BurdaStyle pattern. I ended up looking like a pregnant elephant and the entire thing got thrown in the corner until I rescued it into a Jenny skirt.

This is how the shirred panel will sit once it’s attached to the top of the back skirt piece. The sides join onto the bodice, which I made up next.

The bodice is quite quick to assemble. I did it wrong, well not wrong, but I thought of a better order of construction about half-way through. What I did was place the lining and fabric pieces together, right sides facing, stitch the inner edge and outer curved edge then turn and press. Pin and baste the pleats in each cup.

Fold the neck tie rectangles in half and stitch the long open edge and upper short edge, turn and press.

Then I turn in the top of the bodice and slip the neck tie piece inside and top-stitch it closed.

What would have been better would be to only stitch one edge of the bodice triangles closed, open it out and then attach the neck tie to the to edge, fold right sides together, stitch and turn.

But too late for unpicking now, it’s time to add the shirred panel.

Like so: Again I turned in the raw edge of the bodice and slid the shirred panel raw edge inside and top-stitched closed. I guess you could apply the same method as before, open everything out and stitch it more cleanly then shirr (is that the singular of shirring?) this panel afterwards but the instructions definitely suggest shirring the panel first.







And here is how it looked on Scarlett:

Nice! I was pleased.

Next the bodice gets attached to the skirt. The cup pleats line up with the front skirt pleats, side seams line up also, pin and stitch.

I was quite excited to be almost finished, just the hem to do, but that warm fuzzy feeling didn’t last much longer. I was halfway unpicking the skirt from the top when I realized I hadn’t taken a photo of it. I was unpicking it because after I tried it on it was, as I suspected, super gigantic.

The skirt has waaaaay too much extra body in it and the shirring was not tight enough across my back so the weight of the back skirt drags it down below my bra strap, I end up with a pool of fabric on my shelf-bum, not good.

So I put the top part on myself pinned the cups together at the centre front and re-pined the side seams so that I had some stretch to get it on and off but felt tight enough across my back.

Next I disassembled both skirts, pleats and all. I mentioned my concern for the pleats earlier and I was close to getting rid of them entirely but for some reason convinced myself to first try reducing the number of pleats and adjust their positioning.

This sewing lesson bought to you by “ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR BRAIN”.

So I played with the front skirt piece in front of the mirror and decided on two pleats at 32cm apart (16cm either side of center). I re-pinned these then pinned the whole front to Scarlett.

Is this that thing called draping? I’ve never done that before but I guess that’s sort of what I am doing. I wanted to redesign the skirt from scratch. I wanted the least amount of bulkiness but still have a flowing long skirt.

So 7.5cm came off the sideseams, most of that was due to removing the large center front pleat and the two outer pleats.

I did the same for the back skirt, I stretched the shirred panel and pinned the back skirt on and from this piece I discarded 15cm off each side seam. That’s a lot I know but my butt just didn’t need the extra bulk and fabric!

This got me thinking about what would have happened if I’d cut a smaller or even the smallest size. Well the cups of the top would be too small for my breasts so I made the right decision there, I guess I could have cut just the skirt from the smaller size but then I can see problems with lining everything up. The skirt is just bulky and maybe it would work with a silky fabric as it’s made in the magazine but my cotton is super thin and flowy so…ah well, on with the modifications…

Next I considered leaving out the lining to drop some of the weight but the fabric is just too light-weight and see though, so I marked all my measurements with chalk and transferred them to the lining as well, then I repeated my construction as per the original skirt.

Ugh! Better, but still not a winner, the pleats have to go, completely, so I unpicked the skirt again.

I was starting to get desperate but at this point there was no way I was going to biff the wreck of fabric into the corner no matter how much I wanted to.

So for my next attempt I basted the skirt to the bodice with no pleats at all and got in front of the mirror with my pins. I needed darts and badly. So I roughly pinned darts front and back (sometimes Scarlett just doesn’t cut it and you got to get flexible!)  and new side seams too. I have marked my pins in green below:

Do you like my peach laundry tiles?

After a few photos I realized I had completely pinned myself into the dress and I couldn’t get out of it. Husband came over for a laugh but wasn’t much more help than that.

I managed to wriggle my way out of it and as I sat in my sewing chair recovering and looking down at the pin scratches on my ribs I had a realisation: The shirred panel, that I was so proud of, had to go. Plainly it was in the pattern to make it possible to wear the dress without adding a closure but MY dress was quickly becoming too fitted for it to fulfill that ideal.

It wasn’t easy but I had to swallow my pride and un-pick it. I would replace it with a plain rectangle panel of fabric and insert an invisible zipper in the side seam.

Then as I was unpicking the skirt for the third time that day I had a second revelation. I simply didn’t like the dresses length. Despite my desire to want a maxi-dress I have never been a long skirt or dress kind of girl, it’s just not me. So I decided to also shorten the whole thing.

Decision made I set to work

I had to start my darts markings from scratch since working with a border print means I couldn’t just lop the bottom of the skirt off. My back darts ended up being longer and wider that my original pinning effort and it took several try ons to get them right. I have what is known as a ‘shelf-bum’ but I believe the technical term is ‘sway back’ although I’ve never been formally diagnosed. I assume I have one through observation of fit. Generally, in RTW clothing, fabric pools on top of my bottom, on my shelf-bum, just where it starts to curve out from my back and is fixed by reducing the amount of fabric there either by altering the pattern early on or chucking in a couple of vertical darts (my preferred method).

Another problem I needed to address was gapage at the front, I fixed this by reducing the gap between the cups, giving them a slight overlap and pulling them down slightly. Then, at Sandra’s suggestion. I curved the lower seam where they meet the top of the skirt but kept the skirt seam straight, this gives your breast somewhere sit because the pleat simply wasn’t enough.

Unfortunately I do not have any more photos of the process because my level of frustration is inversely proportional to my desire to take photos. All I wanted to do was finish the stupid dress but in the end I finished with a dress I actually really love in fabric that is a cherished souvenir. It was more than a small challenge but when all the un-picking was over I really enjoyed the challenge.

Sewing a Foreign Language: Patrones Blouse #9

Remember this blouse? It’s from Patrones 290, #9, I promised a how-to and here it is.









The first thing I always do when working without instructions is get my head around the pattern pieces. Here they are nicely laid out and labeled.

Because this blouse has princess seams both front and back we have two front pieces and two back pieces (with the center back cut on the fold). The center front is self-faced and there is also a back neck facing, the pattern piece for this was traced from the center back pattern piece (see the blue curve at the top). Then we have two different rectangles, one for the ruffles and the other is to become self bias-binding for the armholes, these pieces are given as dimensions in the instructions.

Preparing the pieces: There’s not a lot to be done to these pieces, there are no darts or pleats or gathers, just the front self-facing and the back neck facing. For the front I folded the facing to the outside, right sides facing and pinned the neck edge then stitched along the curved edge only, neaten and turn.


Here is a close up of the neck edge, after turning I decided to topstitch it to keep it in place but after the next step I realized I needed to attach to the neck facing first so I had to unpick it. You’ll see what I mean in a bit.



Place the neck facing onto the center back piece, right sides facing, lining up with the curve of the neck. Pin, stitch along the neck curve, neaten and turn.





This is the step that caused me to undo my top stitching. I realised that when I sew my shoulder seams I can also sew my facings together at the same time.

It’s hard to see in the photo but you fold out the front facings on the front pieces and fold up the neck facing on the back piece. Now you can pin the front and back pieces together at the shoulders and across where the facings meet as well.

I hope that makes sense, in the photo you can see the seams are pinned and then I have opened the whole thing out, I have tried to label each piece.

Turn the facings back to the inside and now if you want you can either under stitch or topstitch them. I chose to do this since my silk is slippery and I want to keep the facings in place.

Now for the ruffles: I neatened all edges of the ruffle rectangles then created a narrow hew along one long side and both short ends then along the other long edge I ran two lines of gathering stitch (longest stitch length 4.0 on a low tension)…and here is where I discovered a problem with the pattern.


What you can see in the photo above are the blouse pieces lying open at the shoulder seam and the finished ruffle rectangle lying beside it. You can see the two orange headed pins in the blouse body, they mark where the ruffle is to be attached and even un-gathered the rectangle is barely long enough to span between them.

Frustrated I checked my measurements and no problems there so it must be a typo in the magazine. I was loath to re-cut them since I have plans for the tiny bit of left over silk that remains so I re-cut two more rectangles and joined them together at the short edge. This extra seam will be in-line with the shoulder seam and since it is gathered I’m sure it will be almost invisible so I stopped stressing and got on with it.

Here you can see one newly lengthened and gathered ruffle pined in place beside an un-gathered one. Doubling the length was perfect and I am wondering if the instruction/diagram was meant to show it cut on the fold. Gather each ruffle to match the length between the pins/markings, pin in place right sides together and stitch.

Attaching the ruffles

Here is the blouse, with ruffles attached laid out. Excuse the lazy Photoshop stitch attempt – I couldn’t get high enough in my room to snap the entire blouse:

Side seams are stitched next, and then I hemmed the bottom of the blouse. You can turn the self facings out as you hem to make really neat, sharp corners at the bottom.

Scarlett models the almost finished blouse

Mark the buttons holes next. I have always had a problem with gaping at the bust on my blouses so I have started ignoring the button hole markings on the patterns and instead I mark one button hole at the largest part of my bust and then space my buttons evenly around this hole, usually one above and then the rest below.

I use this Simflex Expanding Gauge to mark even spaces, it’s a great tool that I use all the time and you can use it for pleats as well.

To reinforce the silk I used some rectangles of interfacing behind the button-holes, under the facing and again behind the buttons.





I’m always a bit nervous sewing buttons holes, they feel so final and permanent.

My machine has a 1-step button hole, I set the dial and stitch length to suit the fabric and use this special foot, which expands to take one of the buttons an sets the overall button hole length. A pull down guide catches some thinga-ma-jig near the back and makes the machine return at the end of each hole.

Always make a test button hole on a scrap piece of fabric and fold it over on itself to mimic the final thickness of fabric you’ll be sewing your real button holes on. Adjust your tension and stitch length until you are happy with your practice hole.

The most common problem I have with button holes is forgetting to reset the machine after each one is complete.

The most important switch

And there you are: one button hole. I prefer to pull the threads to the back and knot them off rather than cutting them at the front.






Now for buttons: I bought this foot when I first bought my machine, it’s amazing! I never sew buttons on by hand (well flat buttons anyway). You could probably use a satin stitch foot for this but the rubber tip and back edge of the foot helps keep the button in place.

To use this foot you need to be able to adjust your machines zig-zag width. For extra slippery button/fabric combinations I quickly hand tack each button in place before slipping it under the machines foot. Set your machine to a wide zig-zag and stitch length to zero. Hand-turn the wheel and adjust the zig-zag width so that the needle clears each button hole then put your foot down for a few stitches and move onto the next button. I always hand-wheel the first stitch for each button first to test position otherwise you risk snapping a needle and damaging the button. I have been told you can just snip the threads off flush with the button but I prefer to pull them both to the back and knot them off.

I was a bit unsure of how to finish the armholes. I think you are supposed make self bias-binding from one of the rectangles given in the instructions and encase the raw edge but this can only be done to the lower half otherwise you end up catching part of the ruffle so I turned in the ends and worked the bias around the lover half of the hole then just overlocked the upper half as you can see. I don’t think this is entirely correct but it works.






And that’s it. I really love the silk that I use, I bought it from the Joveeba closing down sale about a year ago, both the colour and pattern of it and how it feels to wear. I’ve never owned a silk item before (lame huh?) and even though I have to hand wash it I can see many more silk items in my future.


Patrones 299 & 301 Mash-Up

Patrones 299:

Patrones 301:

Burda, Patrones and Manequim, oh my!

Oh my indeed!

Heading back to work after a 2 month break can be pretty depressing…but there’s nothing like finding a whole pile of sewing magazines awaiting you to cheer you up!

Check out these babies:

Ok, so there’s no Patrones, it’s late this month but that doesn’t matter because I had been dying to get my hands on the first magazine of my Manequim subscription for months so of course the first one turned up just after I left the country.

That’s ok Manequim, all is forgiven, because now I have 4 of you!

Just wait until you get a sneak peak inside at all the scrummy sewing goodness.

More to come soon!

Patrones 298 Mash-Up

Patrones 298