Lace Shirt

Romance really seems to be in the air at this time of year. At my local church down the road, there is either a wedding or a child’s christening every other day this month. So with the sunshine in the blue sky and love in the air I thought I would try to capture the romantic flavour of some of the light and easy bohemian styles around this season with my romantic lace shirt.

I adore lace and this pale peach coloured lace has been in the fabric stash for a while now. I realised that I only had just over a yard of it and have taken it out and played around with different ideas for garments several times recently. To make this shirt I had to experiment with the layout of the pattern pieces to be able to squeeze enough fabric to make it. The lace does not have any stretch to it, unlike the jersey lace I used for the Lillia T-shirt. It drapes quite nicely and has enough body to create a defined shape, especially at the cuff where the sleeve is gathered. In fact it is a similar cuff to the alteration I made on my Rosie Shirt recently. I like a three quarter length sleeve for everyday wear.

For this shirt I wanted to see if I could sew it together using just my serger/overlocker! I am fortunate enough to have a machine which converts to have a cover-stitch function. I had only ever used this for hemming before and felt that I needed to come to grips with it as a proper sewing method.

Lace Shirt Front image
Lace Shirt Front
Lace Shirt Shoulder seam inage
Lace Shirt Shoulder seam


The raglan sleeve in this shirt pattern seemed very suitable to being assembled using the cover-stitch, which leaves a decorative, visible detail on the outside of the fabric.

Lace Shirt Sewing image
Lace Shirt Sewing


The underarm and side seams are stitched together with the regular four thread serging technique and in the end I only had to get my sewing machine out to topstitch around the neckband. So I am very pleased with having made a whole garment which is not stretch jersey, exclusively with my serger machine. This had given me new confidence using this machine.

A word of caution though, if you are new to making clothing with your serger, If you are assembling your garment by serging the seams closed and so cutting off your seam allowance you must make sure that it will fit you and not need alterations as these will not be possible. There are two methods I use to get around this problem.

1, serger /overlock around the raw edges of the fabric pieces before sewing any of the pieces together. This way all of the edges are serged and can not fray while you sew the garment and you still preserve your seam allowance for any alterations. I do not serge on neck edges which will have a facing attached as I find this becomes too bulky.

2, The second method I use is to sew the basic body of the garment together for the fitting. Then I make any alterations within the seam allowance and sew the seam back together with my conventional sewing machine. When I am happy with the fit I will serge the seam allowance off, being careful not to cut or stitch into the seam line. This way I encase both fabric pieces together into the serging creating a neat and tidy finish. This can also be used as a neat finish on the sleeve/armhole seam which can sometimes be a bit thick.

When I took the pictures for this blog I had great fun with the costume jewellery, my little homage to one of the greats (Coco Chanel, of course).

Lace Shirt Front image
Lace Shirt Front
Lace Shirt Back image
Lace Shirt Back

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Happy Sewing

Polkadot Dress

One of my all time favourite fabrics has to be the polkadot.

It’s always in fashion, either on shirts and blouses or dresses and scarfs. I have chosen this gorgeous blue spot today, which I suppose is a little bit corporate. I like smart though and I think it works well in this style of dress with the half sleeves.

Polkadot Dress Fitting image
Polkadot Dress Fitting
Polkadot Dress Layout image
Polkadot Dress Layout

Although this is a pattern which I have used before and it is in my go to dress pattern pile on the shelf, it came out a bit snug when I did my fitting and I had to let the seams out about half an inch on each side, as much as I could reasonably squeeze out of the seam allowance. I must have put a bit of weight on recently!

Polkadot Dress Front
Polkadot Dress Front

The dress is not lined, as the weather is warming up, and I have simply finished off the neck edge with a facing which is under stitched and secured at the shoulders.

Polkadot Dress back fitting image
Polkadot Dress back fitting
Polkadot Dress front image
Polkadot Dress front

Vanity sizing

I get quite a few emails asking for advice about which pattern size to use. Few of us fit the average dress size or even the size on the pattern packet.

I’ve done some digging around on the internet and discovered that pattern sizing, along with ready to wear clothes sizing has changed a lot over the years and continues to change. It is often referred to as vanity sizing and reflects the growing size of the general population. Example, in 1931 the smallest standard size for women was a size 10 US, which had a bust measurement of 28 inches, by 1971, forty years later, the smallest available size was a 6, however a size 10 now fit a bust of 33 ½ inches. Now another forty or so years on a US size 10 is made for a bust of 36 inches and we have seen the creation of size zero and negative sizes to accommodate people who have a small frame. With all this standard size changing as well as variation in sizing between the pattern manufactures its hardly surprising we get in such a mess when it comes to choosing which one to use to achieve the best fit.

First of all you need to know your own body measurements. Don’t guess at this, it is well worth being honest with the tape measure and making a note of what you are in both inches and centemeters. Some European patterns like Burda and Ottobre are in cm. Take more measurements than you think you need for the pattern to make any alterations possible. For instance under the bust, around the upper arm (arm girth), around the thigh and the full hip, where the waist is larger than the hip.

If you are fitting for a dress it is best to use your bust measurement as the lead measurement. This will give you the best chance of the right fit around the shoulders and back as well as the armholes. Make your pattern alterations as you work down the body from the correct bust. For the waist, if you need to increase, divide the increase by four and add it to each side seam, if my waist measures 34 inches and the pattern is for a waist of 30 inches then I divide the extra four inches and add one inch to each side seam at the waist line. Draw a smooth line down from the armpit to the new waist. Repeat this for the hip measurement as well. If you need to decrease the waist, then you are lucky, simply adjust the pattern by decreasing at the side seams.

Working in this way will mean that the sleeves will still fit in the arm holes and any darts will be in the same place. Of course there are many different advanced fitting alterations you can do to get the perfect fit but this is just intended to be a guide to choosing which size pattern to use as a starting point.

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Happy Sewing