My day out at Love Sewing Magazine wearing Butterick 5488

A couple of months ago Amy, the editor of Love Sewing Magazine, got in touch to see if I’d like to review one of the upcoming free patterns.  I was happy to give it a go as I’d been in the sewing doldrums and hoped a bit of a challenge would bring me out of it.  I was a little concerned about getting a half decent picture when Amy asked if I would like to go and do a proper photo shoot; hair, make up and everything!  They wanted to showcase readers makes but also show them on real bodies.  I must admit to being a little apprehensive, it’s one thing taking a few photos in the back garden to put on a blog but being in a national magazine (the UK’s No 1 sewing mag) took it to another level.  But my family encouraged me to do it, saying I’d never done anything like it before and may never get the chance to do it again!

So one bright morning in February I ventured across the Derbyshire Peaks to their studio in Stockport.  Amy was first up modelling her Vogue eve appeal dress which looked stunning.  Meanwhile, Nina did my hair and makeup. I’d worn black tights and taken my blue wedding shoes to wear but Denise the shoot director persuaded me that blue tights and blue suede heels would look better in the pictures (I was worried I’d look like a Smurf but looking at the photos she was so right, I could really do with her restyling me every morning before I leave the house!) Then it was my turn in front of Renata’s camera.

Who knew modelling could be so difficult? I quickly exhausted my blog photo poses (hands by side, hand on hip, I couldn’t do the usual hands in pockets as I didn’t have any!) I was at a bit of a loss what to do so went to my default setting of giggling and messing around.  The problem was I screwed my eyes up when I laughed so I had to try and master smiling with my eyes open.  I was a bit worried they wouldn’t get a single shot of me with a straight face but after taking umpty nine photos (along with some of me and Amy giggling) they were satisfied with what they had.  (Renata also took a couple of head shots which now grace all my online profiles, I only wish I could use it for my driving license!)    

Anyway, here’s the review and loads of photos.  (I’ll post the full text of the review afterwards in case the snapshot is unreadable) 



I’d just like to say a big thanks to Amy, Nina, Denise and Renata for making me feel so comfortable and making it a day I’ll never forget!    

Here’s the review:

I think it’s sometimes easy to be put off a pattern due to the way it’s been styled on the front of the envelope.  Bearing this in mind I wouldn’t have initially been drawn to this pattern but going by the line drawing I could see that it had potential.

The fabric I used was a midnight blue animal print Crepe de Chine from the Fabric Godmother. Very lightweight and floaty with a lovely drape to it.  After a test sew I decided to use a size 70 needle and a slightly shorter stitch length to minimise the risk of puckering, which is one of the pitfalls of sewing with fine fabrics.

Although my measurements (42-34-42) put me at size 20 I know from experience that Butterick patterns come up large on me so decided to size down to an 18.

I made a quick muslin before cutting into the good stuff and although the fit was fine around the yoke and bust there was a lot of ease in the dress and it came up very large.  There’s no shaping to the dress so it’s straight up and down.  The pleats at the back also produced a lot of volume which is a place where it isn’t necessarily needed.  I decided to tweak it a little and add a bit of shaping. I graded right down to a 12 at the waist and then graded out to a 26 towards the hem to give it a bit of flare around the bottom.

As the fabric was very lightweight I used Vilene superfine interfacing on both the yoke and yoke facing which gave it an extra bit of stability.  I used French seams throughout and it came together very quickly.  The most time-consuming part was sewing the yoke.

The grading between sizes seems to have worked quite well and I am much happier with how the dress falls now.  It has also pulled in the back a little across the waist but there is still a lot of volume above.  I think pinching out a couple of the pleats at the back might help reduce this.

Advantages: quick and easy to make, no fastenings so easy to throw on.

Disadvantages: a lot of extra ease and unnecessary volume at the back (but these can be fixed with a bit of tweaking).

It’s quite a difficult dress to fit as you go along, it’s impossible to try it on until the yoke is attached (by which time the dress is essentially finished)  One option would be to only sew the top few inches of the side and back seams and then add the yoke.  This gives the opportunity to tweak the fit of the dress before finishing the seams.

It’s an ideal dress for summer, the loose fit is perfect for hot days when you don’t want to be restricted by anything fitted.  There’s also the option to shorten the dress into a top, which is what I plan to do with the muslin I made.  I think fabric choice is key to making this pattern work, it really needs to be fairly lightweight with plenty of drape, anything with a bit of body could have the potential to look bulky. I would add in seam pockets next time, one of the best things about sewing your own clothes is the opportunity to add pockets to everything!

My Named Talvikki Sweater

Sewing dresses is all well and good but I’m in desperate need of some basics.  It’s been a while since I made any tops, and the T-shirts and sweatshirts in my wardrobe are looking a little well worn.  Bearing this in mind, and needing something warm and cosy to layer up, I embarked on making a Named Talvikki Sweater.  It was seeing Shauni’s at the last SewBrum meet up that led me to add it to my ‘to sew’ list. Here’s the blurb:

·       Oversized and cuddly sweater

·       Turtleneck with darts on the neckline

·       Dropped shoulder and extra long sleeves

·       Deep vents at the sides, and an uneven hemline

·       Pick a medium-weight to heavy stretch fabric with at least 30 % stretch. For example sweatshirt jersey, cable knit, knit fleece or a boiled wool.

My fabric is a heather Ponte from the Fabworks Mill shop which I bought at the Sew Down Dewsbury meet up.  As with other Named patterns there’s a good size range, from a UK 4 (30-23-33) up to a 22 (46-39-48) I cut a size 16/18 but shortened the body and sleeves by two inches.   

It was impossible to use chalk or frixion to mark the darts so I used tailors tacks instead.  It’s critical to sew the darts perfectly to form the structure of the turtleneck.  I sewed the shoulder seams and attached the sleeves with my overlocker, then finished the sleeve and side seams by overlocking down each side before using my normal machine to stitch them together.  I reduced the length of the back hem by an inch just to get it in proportion to my height, and used a slightly long straight stitch to finish the hem and sleeves.  The neckline is finished with a facing which is easily kept in place by tacking it to each dart and shoulder seam.

Looking at the pictures I really should have given it a press beforehand but I was a bit eager to wear it (the hem ripples have straightened with a good press since).  I was a little worried that it was too ‘oversized’ but after putting it on realised that the ‘cuddly’ description was very true and the fabric lends itself perfectly to the pattern.  There’s a lot of volume in the sleeves which I was initially not sure about, but after wearing it a couple of times it doesn’t seem to be an issue.    


 I intended to only buy knit fabric at the Dewsbury meet up.  I did very well but a couple of woven pieces sneaked in, a navy version of the floral I used to make my Bruyere and I couldn’t resist the bees. 

I’m going to try and focus on practical sewing for the time being, Spring is here and I really need some more T-shirts. I’m thinking of trying something different from my TNT Plantain, Hemlock and Kirsten (all free to download, all excellent patterns) I’ve just got one more dress to finish off before I can get started! 

My Named Tuuli dress

My first project of the new year was the Named Tuuli V-neck jersey dress.  I love knit dresses, I can simultaneously look fairly pulled together whilst feeling happily comfortable (like wearing secret pyjamas) I’ve made a few knit dresses over the past few years but the V-neck and pleated skirt offered something new and appealing.  As with a number of Named patterns it includes a second pattern which with the Tuuli is a bodysuit.

The fabric is Liberty Dufour Viscose jersey I bought from ebay.  I’ve done a bit of sleuthing into this and found that it’s probably over stock from a ‘special edition liberty’ ready to wear dress.  From experience, Liberty jersey is worth paying that bit extra.  It washes and wears incredibly well and is a delight to work with.  The Dufour is a viscose knit which has a fair bit of weight to it and lots of drape.  I’ve also used the Clarendon, a cotton knit which has a bit more body about it.   

The fabric requirements for the dress give 260cm but with a bit of careful cutting (and shortening the sleeves by 5 inches and the hem by 3 inches) I managed to fit it all on.  One thing to note is that due to the skirt width it really needs a wide fabric, at least 130 cm.

I received a copy of the paper pattern for Christmas.  The bodice and sleeves were easy to trace, the skirt piece however looked a bit daunting.  The pattern piece is overlapped but also off set so you need to trace the first half, rejig your paper and join on the second half.  There’s a lot of markings for the pleats, which are different for each size so it looks a bit like a particularly involved Burda magazine pattern.  Instead of marking all the pleat lines on the fabric I took a gamble and did small snips and bigger snips.  I just had to remember that the small snip needed to be folded to meet a big snip (not sure if that makes sense) One really important thing to remember is that each front and back skirt piece needs cutting separately and not on two layers, if It is cut with folded fabric the pleats won’t work properly (they need to go in the same direction all the way around)

I cut a size 46 which was nearest to my measurements.  There’s quite a good size range going from a 32 (30-24-33) to a 50 (46-40-49).  There’s a bit of negative ease in the pattern, around four inches over the bust and a couple of inches at the waist.

There’s a good reason for the skirt pattern piece needing to be overlapped, it is HUGE, there’s 2.5 metres of fabric in the skirt which all needs to be pleated.

The front of the bodice is cut in two pieces which are joined at the centre front below the neckline.  The neckline is finished with a facing which extends down to the waist.  The facing is then secured by topstitching which adds quite a neat design detail, this would be much more noticeable if sewn in a plain fabric, as mine is so busy you can’t really see it.  The instructions call for using knit interfacing on the facing.  As I didn’t have any and my local haberdashery didn’t know where I could get some I experimented with what I had.  I found that when cut on the bias Vilene Superlight interfacing had a bit of stretch so I went with that.  As it is there’s not really that much stress around the neckline to worry too much about this.  The opening is big enough to get your head through without stretching it out and as the facing is stitched down there isn’t going to be much stretching there. 

I was a little apprehensive about all the pleating but after taking my time, and using lots of pins, it all lined up perfectly without the need to do any fudging.  I basted the pleats in place but also kept them pinned below to make it easier to work with.  I added in seam pockets to the skirt, which wasn’t in the instructions but I have a mission to put pockets in everything.  This time however I don’t think it worked out.  The pockets are hidden in the pleats but the bulk of them affects the fall of the pleats.  They also don’t fall on the sides, one is a few inches towards the front and the other a few inches towards the back so they are quite difficult to find when you are wearing it!   

There was a lot of weight in the skirt and I doubted the bodices ability to hold it up so I stabalised the waist with some clear elastic.  I stretched out a length three quarters the size of my waist. This made a world of difference as it sits well without any pulling.   Attaching the bodice was straightforward, I finished the waist seam with my overlocker but because of the pleats it was a little bulky (there’s four layers of fabric in there) I don’t think there’s a way to overcome this though.  Finally, I finished the hem and sleeves with a twin needle. 

I am incredibly pleased with the finished dress.  The fabric works perfectly, the weight really makes the pleats hang lovely (although in the pictures I’d been wearing it all day so there is a bit of crumpling going on)  I enjoyed making it, the pattern is incredibly well drafted and everything fits together perfectly.  I’ve come to realise this is a very important criteria when choosing patterns, sewing time is so precious that I really don’t need the hassle and headache of fudging a pattern which doesn’t quite meet up as it should. 

The only change I will make next time is cutting a larger size for my bust, I think four inches of negative ease is too much for me and it does seem to pull a little from the armscye.  Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s great to have another TNT knit dress pattern to add to my collection.  I really need to make more knits as on reflection they are the things that get the most wear.  I have consequently banned myself from buying any more woven fabric, I can only really justify jersey as there is surprisingly little in my stash.  (I’ve just given myself an excuse to go fabric shopping!)