Monthly Archives: December 2017

New pattern: Cassandra, a dress for all occasions AND Cassandra extension pack!

Break out the champagne, our newest pattern is here just in time for Christmas!

Cassandra is a dress that will take you anywhere, with two neckline options, two hemline options and two sleeve lengths. Depending on your fabric choices, you can make Cassandra a casual dress, a work wardrobe staple, or a stunning party dress. AND we’re also releasing an extension pack that gives you the additional pattern pieces to turn it into a top or a cardigan! I’m going to talk you through all the options here, and then give you our launch week discount code! Shall we start with the party dress?

Bring on the cocktails!

Cassandra has an elegant and easy-to-wear shape that lets your fabric do the talking. It’s fitted through the bust, and then flares gently at the waist and hips before swirling out into a swing skirt. You can choose between a fashionable high-low hem (shown in the picture on the left) or a classic just-above-the-knee normal hem (shown in the picture on the right). There are two neckline options: a round neck or a dramatic plunge neck, and two sleeve lengths (long or elbow length). As you can see in these photos, if you make Cassandra in occasionwear fabric, she’s the perfect little party dress: the fabric on the left is a deep navy metallic jersey with lurex (so it’s sparkly in real life, though the sparkles don’t show up well on the photo!) and on the right is a silver pleated velvet jersey.

But Cassandra can take you anywhere. Look at these “day dress” versions (yeah I know, I’ve still got my “party” hair in the photos. Should’ve combed it out for the “daytime” look, but I don’t get to have bouncy curls very often so I was milking them!):

The dress on the left combines the plunge neck, long sleeves and high-low hem, and is made in a viscose slub jersey. It looks good with heels, flats or boots for cool season style. The dress on the right is the round neck, short sleeves, normal hem combination and is perfect for workwear or for layering with a cardigan.

Did somebody say cardigan?

If you read my post about the MAGAM sewalong “original October” theme, you’ll already know the origin story of our first extension pack! Enter Cassandra as a top or a cardigan:

The Cassandra extension pack allows you to use the Cassandra dress pattern to build a wardrobe of wearable garments. It gives you the additional pieces you need to make both a top and a cardigan with two neckline options, two hemline options and two sleeve lengths for each. The top and cardigan are fitted at the bust and then gently flared to skim over the tummy and hit at the mid-hip for the high-low hem (the picture on the left) and low hip for the normal hem (the picture on the right). You can make it as a t-shirt, a lightweight sweater, or a cardigan. As with the dress, you can mix and match your pattern pieces to create a different Cassandra each time – in fact with the dress and extension pack together, there are 24 possible variations! Both of these samples are made in cotton jacquard, and they make lovely lightweight layering pieces. Because we’re entering a cooler season here, I’ve made both of these in warm fabric with long sleeves and round necks, but here are a few more styling possibilities:

I’ve made it as (left to right) a long-sleeved t-shirt in cotton jersey, a high-low hem cardigan in cotton jacquard, and a short-sleeved plunge-neck top in sweater knit (that’s the only one of my Cassandras I don’t like! The fabric is quite scratchy, so I’ll be re-making this style in a better fabric – in fact I’ve already cut it out of this flamingo cotton jersey, so you can expect to see that soon!) Both of the cardigans photographed here are made with the round neck as it suits my personal taste better, but you can see how it looks with the plunge neckline as shown in this post. I think with the plunge neckline it would look really cute over a button-down shirt.

And the final bit of exciting news is that we’ve added a new size to our range: Cassandra is available in sizes XXS-XXL (see our updated sizing chart for further information).

Did I say that was the final exciting thing? Where’s my head?! Here’s the discount code!

Cassandra is part of our normal pattern range, and is £6 full price. The extension pack is £4 as a separate purchase if you decide to just buy the dress but come back for the extension pack at a later date, OR you can buy both in a bundle at a reduced price of £9. And for this first launch week, we are offering 20% off ANY Cassandra purchase! Use the code CASSANDRA20 this week for 20% off at checkout.

We hope you’ll love Cassandra and make her over and over again. For now I’ll leave you with some different angle shots so that you can get a sense of the side, back, and swing of the different variations. Happy sewing!

 

The Ballerina top by Jenny Hellström (aka my favourite t-shirt)

I’m just going to come right out and say it: this pattern is pretty close to t-shirt perfection. With practically every t-shirt pattern I’ve tried before, there’s always been something that I end up wanting to alter. The perfect t-shirt is something of a holy grail, and since I like different kinds of t-shirts for different outfits and occasions, I need more than one perfect pattern. Today I want to talk about the close-fitting kind with negative ease. You may recall that I’m not entirely comfortable with close-fitting clothes – I talked about it with my Simplicity summer challenge make and in my post on “The Power of Sewing” – so to feel good, really REALLY good, in a close-fitting top is no mean feat.

Enter the Ballerina top by Jenny Hellström. If you don’t already know of this Swedish designer, I highly recommend you visit her site: I love her designs, and although they are on the pricey side, they are a thing of beauty and also make perfect gifts (I was gifted this pattern and the Doctor’s Orders cardigan last Christmas). I love the cardigan too and perhaps I’ll get to talk about that another day, but today I want to focus on this top.

Photo from http://www.jennyhellstrom.se/

If you like multiple options in your patterns, then perhaps this isn’t the one for you – there is one design for the top, though there is a bodycon dress option too (I did try a toile of that but I refer you to my earlier statement about not feeling comfortable in very form-fitting clothes!) However, if you are a confident sewist, you could easily use this as a basis to alter sleeve length, neckline etc (though I think that neckline is pretty perfect as it is!)

I mean… let’s face it, the chances of me ever feeling like a ballerina are fairly slim. But this neckline is about as close as I get.

Neckline perfection

The construction of the top is exactly as you would expect: sew the shoulder seams, sew the neckband, attach the neckband, sew the sleeves, sew the side seams, hem. The instructions are written only, no illustrations, so absolute beginners may be put off but if you’ve ever made a t-shirt then you wouldn’t really need illustrations as there are no surprises. The only thing I added was to topstitch the neckband in place with my coverstitch machine, so that the seam didn’t flip upwards after washing.

As you might expect since I design patterns myself, I have a critical eye when it comes to the drafting of others. I prefer not to say when I find something to be badly drafted, but I will shout it from the rooftops if something is beautifully drafted. Get me a ladder and a megaphone, because THIS IS. I know how hard it is to get a simple design exactly right, and it irritates me when simple isn’t done well. You can’t say that of Jenny Hellström – this pattern is perfect. It clings without ruching up anywhere, the neckline is sublime, and the contours and shaping are spot-on. Plus the hem has a gentle curve – am I alone in disliking a straight line for a hem? – so the shaping is very flattering.

OK OK, it ruches up a tiny bit if you do twisty poses.

I love this top with jeans (in all these photos I’m wearing my denim jersey Eleonore jeans); I think it would also look lovely with a navy skirt or even a grey one, and am thinking of making a navy ponte Margarita to dress it up a little.

The only thing that might put you off Jenny’s patterns is the Burda magazine-style pattern sheet. Pattern pieces overlap and so you have to be careful when tracing, and seam allowances aren’t included so you have to add those. I won’t pretend that either of these things are desirable activities for me, but this top is SO worth it.

Running out of ways to photograph this. So let’s find a different spot to stand in while attempting to look natural.

Shall we talk about the fabric? This is one of the “Club Knits” from Utah-based retailer Raspberry Creek Fabrics, and is 95% cotton and 5% spandex. It’s from a collection they released a year ago so they don’t have this design any more, but it seems to be kind of a signature style of the company so there are variations on it still available. I haven’t been able to purchase frequently from this store as it’s in the US and so I can only order small amounts because of customs and taxes, but I’ve been really happy with the ones I have received. The jersey is lovely and stable – it may not have the buttery softness of, say, the Art Gallery Fabrics cotton jersey, but it has a weightier feel to it and it is a dream to sew as its slightly heavier composition means that it doesn’t curl at all at the edges. It’s a perfect fabric to use if you’re new to knits, or if you need to cleanse your palate after working with tricky fabrics for a few projects! There is a French terry option too, and I have also used that, but I prefer the cotton jersey (this is just personal taste).

To conclude: well, when you’ve exhausted words, say it in Emoji. This garment is 100% “heart eyes heart eyes love hearts smiley face” 😉

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