Monday, 27 February 2012


At age 12 I attempted, and failed, to turn a basic rag doll shape the right way out.  I assumed, back then (in the eighties) that toy making was clearly not for me....

However, after experimenting with Martha Stewart's bunnies


from her Encyclopedia of Sewing Crafts (well worth buying for the sheer number of projects alone) I thought 'maybe it's time to try making another  doll.

So I picked up Jan Horrox's book on cloth doll making and used it as a loose guide to see whether or not it was something I would enjoy, before buying all the extra notions and equipment.

And here she is:

If she's looking a little mean spirited, it's because my husband gave her angry eyebrows when he drew her face...
Not bad for a first attempt, I thought...

Creating her was a challenging, frustrating, and very rewarding experience, so I think investing in the little extras, will definitely be worth it.  

Can't wait to start on the next one!  (I think I will be brave enough to do the hands, next time....)

Friday, 24 February 2012

Shift it!

This is a tutorial for a really easy, and super cute, 60's style shift dress.

The pattern has been cut for my shape and size (which is roughly a UK size 12) but it will need some adjusting for each individual, so be sure to make a toile before cutting the pieces from your main fabric.

First thing to do is print out the pattern provided in this link and you're ready to begin!

I used half an inch seam allowance, with exception of the back seam, where a full inch was used to accommodate the zip.

Cut the front pattern piece on the fold of the fabric.

That's just a regular dumb bell weight...
Cut one back piece, from the wrong side of the fabric, with the armhole facing your right; then cut a second piece by turning the pattern piece over so that the armhole faces to your left.

Pin and sew the back pieces to the front piece, making sure that the shoulders are aligned.  

You should end up with something looking rather like this:

Now is the time to add the darts or pleats.  You will want to start from just under the bust and go down to your natural waist.

I chose to use use pleats as the material I used was, essentially, upholstery fabric and wasn't going to drape well without some help.  The darts or pleats in the back are down to your discretion - the material I used had so little 'give' in the weft that I couldn't make it too fitted.... 

You can find a 'how to' for darts in this previous tutorial.

Now you need to measure and mark where your zip will sit along the back seam. (If you have quite heavy material, I would suggest that the zip reaches the bottom of your rib cage, at least.)

(For those of you who have trouble with zips, here's a brilliant video tutorial from Threadbanger) plus more detailed instructions in my pencil skirt tutorial.

Sew the back seam, making sure to use a basting stitch where the zip is due to sit.
Open up the seam and press.

Pin the zip into place and make sure you switch to the zipper foot before sewing.

Once the zip has been sewn into place, cut open the basting stitches with a seam ripper or embroidery scissors.

That's probably the most difficult part over!

(Including the hemline that I forgot to take a picture of!)

And you finish with something that looks rather like this: