My Cut21 Jacket Toile

I still have quite a bit of fabric left from the Cut21 Jacket so I’m going to make myself one. I might do a few hacks to the design like a two-way zip and a hood for when I’m on my bike, but we’ll see…

Anyway, the multi-sized patterns I make to sell are drafted to standard sizes and a b-cup, and I am rubbish at fitting so I confess to you that I draft my personal patterns according to my blocks. I graded my dress block (which took months of fitting) up to a jacket block and got something quite good, though not without a few concerns. This is what I got:



It could perhaps be a little closer-fitting on the front waist, but if I take it in as much as I like, it will nearly be a dress block again. 🙂


The back armscyes also fill out a bit when I have a light sweater on:


There is still some “excess” fabric, but I don’t think I could cycle comfortably if that weren’t there.DSC06297


This is a ‘style cut’ pattern as Aldrich calls it, so it’s meant for softer fabrics. I suppose that means medium weight things with a medium drape. If I made something in 14oz canvas it would stand out from my body a lot more than if I made it from jersey. Calico shows every unpleasant crease and line; I hope that the jacket will look better in the medium weight linen I have.


Being satisfied with the block after sorting out the back neck, I drafted the Cut21 jacket over the block. It’s a simple style, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t puzzling. It helped me to draft manually before replicating the process on Adobe Illustrator. The front seam was the most confusing part, and as usual, it turned out to be ridiculously simple once I was doing it with paper! I suppose my brain just works differently with paper than with graphics. I also used the one-piece sleeve block and adapted it to make a two-piece sleeve. I always have to work out how to do this all over again. The other day, I found in Aldrich’s jacket book that she gives instructions for doing it. I will try them next time.

This is the toile for my Cut21 Jacket:

DSC06311I like it. It looks smart without being boring. I’ve already taken to wearing it out on my bike (yes, a toile made of calico, worn outside the house). It’s passed the test, but a fastening would help on windy days, preferably a two-way zip.

DSC06313 DSC06314 DSC06318
DSC06334So that is the toile. I haven’t got round to making the real jacket yet because I made some jeans for a job interview at a bike shop. 🙂 They are going to take some breaking in, because they are real denim and I am used to stretch denim and skirts. (I have a whole new sympathy for male cyclists now!)

In other news, York College today officiated my place! And I’m sorting out my accommodation (it’s lovely!), and (fingers tightly crossed) a job! I’m super excited! (As if all these exclamation marks didn’t tell you that.)


I will be making this pattern available in my Craftsy and Easy stores as soon as it’s ready, but of course I have to make the real one first!




Cut21 — Part 5 — The Shirt

The shirt was the most difficult thing to make, mainly because of the plackets.

DSC05927 DSC05928

It is fitted at the front and dartless at the back (although the CB seam is shaped) to give an asymmetric modern, relaxed silhouette. The sleeves are three-quarter length so that you don’t constantly have to roll them up, and you can see your watch.DSC05929Of course, the Cut21 shirt is neither going to be a weird, avant-garde shirt, nor a boring ordinary one. It is fairly subtle in style, but has a few unique features. In more detail:


The shadow pockets. Basically in-seam pockets, but sewn with a felled seam, a bound seam, and a French seam. Excessive? Perhaps, but definitely worth it because it looks so much nicer inside, and will withstand more washing.


Bias-faced neckline. Because I used a partial, asymmetric collar and did not want to use a traditional facing, I faced the neckline with bias binding. The trickiest part was at the front because of the placket bulk. With a fair bit of force and pressing, it turned out acceptable.


You can just see the hand-stitched label here on the inside of the yoke, and part of the collar. Also, notice the customised coat hanger! 😀 I carved the logo out with my craft knife. I’m pretty pleased with it, especially as I have not exactly got a lot of experience with woodwork.


La pièce de résistance! My hand-stitched buttonhole! It took me at least 4 months to learn how to stitch this neatly, and then it took me about 45 mins to sew it (Savile Row tailors take 7 mins for some perspective). I used the straight-stitch buttonhole on my Bernina 380 to make the guide, and that made it easier to get the sides the same width all the way down, and I suppose it strengthened the buttonhole too.


The placket. Now, admittedly, this is not as neat as I wanted it to be. This is partly because the fabric is quite springy. And it is a pretty tricky thing to sew in a fabric that frays like this. I had to recut a sleeve and start it again after a few goes at unpicking. That’s how tricky it is. Would I do it again? Absolutely! You don’t think I’ll be beaten by fabric, do you? Anyway, I’m sure all it needs is practice. And pressing jigs, which I used (genius idea I got from Fashion Incubator). And hand-stitching. I admit, I had to hand-fell these down in some places (one mostly, and then machine top-stitched) just to be sure of catching the underside. I expect it would be easier in a shirting cotton like Oxford. It might also have helped if I had fused the placket pieces, and not stitched the placket on the bulky felled French seam. I very seldom make things easy for myself.

Also, the buttonholes were passable here. Passable. Not great, but not failures, exactly.

DSC05925The curved hem. This hem is specially designed, not just for looks, but so that you can sink your hands into your pockets without messing up the hang of your shirt. The hem allowance is not equal all the way around. This developed because the front needed extra turn-up for the bulk of the placket, and the concave curves at the side seams demanded a smaller turn up. As long as it’s neat.

The back is longer than the front for asymmetry, and also it covers you when you’re on your bike. No one wants builder’s bum.


The hand-stitching on the yoke. I used the burrito technique to sew the yoke. Lovely clean finished insides! And to set it off, the hand-stitching. It’s not much, but it makes a big difference.


The hidden-button placket. (toile shown with sewing error) This fits with the minimalism/modernism part of the concept. You can only see the top button and buttonhole. The hidden buttons are machine-stitched (as if I have time to hand-stitch — what was it? — 10 buttonholes!) There is a straight-stitch bar-tack at the waist level to keep the placket from gaping open and showing the buttons.


A pressing jig. As this is one of the most interesting parts of the project, in my eyes, I had to take a photograph and show you. It’s basically two rectangles of card. The outer one has a space that is 2cm wide (BTW, a quick unpick makes an excellent scorer), while the inner one is just about 1.8cm wide to account for the thickness of the cloth and the folding of the card. If it were 2cm wide, you’d never get the outer one to close properly. The jig is made from a file divider.

The jig for the gauntlet is a separate one to the jig for the placket binding because they are different widths. It’s a good idea to label the jigs and keep the pairs together.

I used different shaped jigs for the hems too. It’s a habit I got into at Wayside Flower. We use it for pockets to make sure they are symmetrical and neat. (Neatness is our watchword).

The armscye seam is French seamed! I know! It’s so rare that fabric will let you do that, but one nice thing I can say about this fabric (whatever it is — bought it in Paris) is that it lets you French seam curves, even the very curvy armscyes and sleeve-heads I use. I am just so pleased with this! I didn’t take a photo, but I don’t really need to because you probably already know what a French seam looks like. 🙂

Another thing is that to get the nice point on the collar I used the shirtmaker’s technique from Off the Cuff (it’s farther down that page). This is a great technique — it’s almost like magic for getting nice corners!

Well, I think that will do for the shirt. I’m going to make a longer version with a simpler hem as my graduation dress, and in case the fabric is a little too see-through I’ve made some shorts (in 2 1/2 hours!) to wear underneath. If it is too see-through I’ll make a camisole too.

Currently I am working on preparing the jacket pattern to add to my Craftsy store. Of course, I’ll let you know when it’s available. I’m thinking of doing two versions: on with seam allowances, and one without for more advanced stitchers who want to learn how to prepare seam allowances for proper production sewing on a simple machine (i.e. not on machines with all kinds of handy feet that do things automatically). They’ll be the same price because it takes the same amount of work to make both — one needs working out of seam allowances and their shapes, and one needs instructions.

Till next time,


Cut21 — Part 4 — The Jeans

The second part of the outfit is the jeans. I knew I wanted to make some for my FMP, and to begin with, the designs were fairly mainstream, though better-fitting. As it goes with designing, the more I sketch, the sooner I come to a good idea. I came to these (note: these are my sketchbook pages, not my scruffy-book pages):

17 18Some features I chose to include in the jeans were: a slightly lower front waist so it doesn’t dig into you; a gusset between the legs to avoid the “slicer seam” problem; and purposes, a contoured waist-facing instead of a traditional straight-cut waistband, giving a better fit and less bulk, as well as cleaner lines for the aesthetic. I wanted slim-fit legs, turn-ups, and, eventually, a back yoke shaped like a traditional shirt hem, just because.

Now, had I been able to make them in my size, I would have had more freedom to finesse the fit. As it was, I was required to make them in a tall size 12 (probably a shop size 10), and had no one the right size and height to test them on. I tried the toile on myself and had to pin a considerable amount out a the waist and turn the hems up a lot more. (Images here to save data).

These are the jeans I finished with.

Cut21 Jeans - Front
Notice the high back and low front, for comfort and security while riding.

Cut21 Jeans - backGranted, they would look better on a person. 🙂

Here are some detail shots:

The pockets feature the soft selvedge of this non-selvedge 11oz denim.
Inside the back pocket
Crutch gusset to make cycling more comfortable.

The gusset was quite tricky to sew. I had to clip into the corners to be able to get past the crutch point. I would have used a curved gusset like Kathleen Fasenella, but I couldn’t get the curved edges to be the same length as where they had to go on the jeans, so I used a diamond gusset instead. She does on her jeans anyway so it must be acceptable.

Hand-topstitching using waxed embroidery floss.

Even though I used hand-topstitching, there is a lot of machine top-stitching on these jeans too. It’s virtually invisible as I used the right colour Gutermann Sew-all thread (I can’t remember the number for sure, but I think it was 512). I tested a couple of thread colours and put the sample and notes in my pattern file. That must get some points. 🙂

No waistband — just a waist facing with its lower edge bound. There is a hook and bar at the top too, instead of a button and buttonhole.

If/when I make another pair, I will sort out this zip issue. I will have to stop lower down (would be easier to get the right length to begin with now I’ve time) because this comes close to showing when the jeans are fastened.

The other issue here was that the facings are not level inside. I don’t know why, because the toile seemed okay, and the pattern, I think, was correct (must check). I want to find out what caused this because it annoys me to have that fairly noticeable (when you are getting dressed) fault. >:|

And, yes. That wobbly navy stitching on the binding on the zip guard does bother me.


All the garments in my collection feature hand-embroidered labels. Including labels is sure to get me a few marks! 🙂
The yoke line, which you can only see by the Sashiko-inspired stitching, is meant to resemble a shirt hem. The lines of the pockets echo this. I used extra long belt-loops for looks. They are backed with yellow bias because I refuse to use an overlocker on Cut21 stuff.

The back pockets were cut on the cross (not the bias, the cross, in case you use the wrong term) to take advantage of the selvedge, so when they are worn there is a shading differences, annoyingly. You can see in the photo that the grain doesn’t match.

So much binding!
Side seams are bound to suggest the look of selvedge jeans. I tried opening the seams and binding separately, but it looked too sporty so I chose this option.

One thing I learned when doing all this binding is that it is much easier to sew on in one go if you press it in half first, perhaps with a little bit extra showing on the underside, just to make sure it gets caught in the stitching. If you have a really good binder attachment then maybe you won’t need to do this, but I don’t have one.

So these are the Cut21 Jeans. I would give them about an 8 out of 10, taking design into consideration, and the neatness inside. Plus the fabric is really nice! 🙂

Next week, you will see the shirt in more detail.


P.S. Sorry for posting late this week, I was doing a trial but I’m evidently too slow to work in an alterations shop.


Cut21 — Part 3 — The Jacket

Okay, now I’ll get onto the jacket. It’s an open jacket so it has not fastening. It’s meant to be simple in style, which is why there is no closing. That’s a feature I might change if I ever made it again.

A sketchbook page featuring the jacket
A sketchbook page featuring the jacket

Just because it’s a simple style and has no closing, it doesn’t mean to say that it was easy as pie to make. It’s unlined (a lining would have made it easier in some ways) but as I refused to use a zigzag stitch or overlocker on this project, all of the seams had to be felled or bound, but the main two challenges were the pockets and facings. Cut21 Jacket Pocket ToileAs you can see, this was very fiddly to bind. This was an issue that had to be amended. I did this by introducing a full-length Princess seam at the front and sewing the front edge of the pocket into that. I also changed the shape of the other side of the pocket so that it had a much less acute angle to bind, a curve. Inside the jacketIn this photo you can see the side seam, the side of the pocket, and the back peplum seam. The hardest part was going over the bulky cross seams. You have to use some finger skills here, and a humper-jumper helps. The hem was originally going to be a simple double-turn hem, but that didn’t work with the steep curve at the back. So I decided to use a bias facing.

There was the conundrum of what to do about the part where the hem goes into the facing seam — how to sew it neatly by machine? The solution was to leave the facing topstitching undone at the bottom at first, tuck the bias into it, then TS it down, being careful to match up the TS lines as discreetly as possible.


So this is the final jacket (I must sort out a nice backdrop for photography):

Cut21 Jacket Front Cut21 Jacket Back

The back swoops down to cover you while you’re riding a bike.

And a couple of detail shots:Cut21 Jacket Stitching Detail Cut21 Jacket Pocket Detail

Cut21 Jacket Armscye binding

The armscyes are bound. The stitching at the top of this one is not perfect and now it’s really bothering me. I won’t be letting that happen again.

Binding, facing, felled seams and front TS -- all in one shot :)
Binding, facing, felled seams and front TS — all in one shot 🙂

I hope you like it! It was actually the easiest part of the collection to make and took about two days, if memory serves. After I had made a few, I expect one day would suffice, especially as I wouldn’t be taking photos during the process.


Cut21 — Part 2 — Concept and Consumer

I know I said I’d do the jacket post first, but then I remembered that I have a some work to show you first.


Those among you who are fashion students or professionals will know that we have to have a consumer pinpointed. If no one wants to wear our product then there’s no point in making it. We make a consumer board and profile.

Consumer Board
Consumer Board

Consumer Profile

If I have done it right, you should be able to get a good idea of who my consumer is and what she likes by looking at the board above. Now, I am aware that I ought not to have labeled it “consumer board”; I did it because I wanted it to be quite clear that it is not a mood board, and that is hard to tell with your own work because you see it differently.

Name: Lily James (I just realised that they are Harry Potter’s parent’s names)

Age: 27

Profession: Minimalist Photographer

Lives in: London, but travels

My consumer is a minimalist who lives in the City so she gets around by bicycle. This has been taken into consideration with the features of the designs.

If I tell you any more than that it might affect my originality rating on my submitted work, so I’ll leave it there until I get my grades. 🙂

Fabrics and Colours

making close-up

Fabrics Board (Please forgive the blurry image; it was taken on my phone on the last day of college.)
Fabrics Board (Please forgive the blurry image; it was taken on my phone on the last day of college.)

Above is my fabrics board. I think it’s my best yet. It’s definitely different from the others. Somehow the hand-writing doesn’t have the effect I wanted it to (hand-work against neatness); it just looks a bit unprofessional. The fabrics are stitched on. Thankfully excessive neatness was not required for my concept. 🙂

As you may see, all the fabrics have texture to them, and some are hand-loom. Those that aren’t are from France.

We went to Paris to get our fabrics

It is the best place to get fabrics and notions! They had a whole section of a wall just for buckles and buttons! In England I am lucky to find three different buckles in a shop. I think we have the edge on customer service though. Maybe it’s a cultural difference and I’m just not use to the French ways, but I found some of the sales assistants unhelpful and rude. Only some of them though. There were, of course, some very nice ones. The waiters in the restaurants and cafés are delightfully cheerful there. 🙂

The fabric shopping is incredible! You can find almost anything! It was so good that some of us were talking of relocating after college! 🙂

Charlie got her black denim there. She had tried and tried to get it in England to no avail and was so excited to get her lovely black denim. She also got some burnt orange linen for her shirt.

Alice found “the button” that inspired her collection’s final designs, and fabrics to go with it. (Imagine how excited she was when we found an exhibition will over 900 different buttons!)

I got my shirting, linen, and bias binding. If I remember correctly, it totted up to about €75. The shirting is unfortunately polyester, but it was the closest thing I could find to what I wanted. I had planned to use Khadi Cotton but it was too similar to the linen I got for the jacket. I wanted a heavier weight for the jacket, nothing affordable was quite right. So I worked with what I could get. (I said you could find almost anything.)

The denim I got was 11oz Indigo denim from Merchant and Mills. It’s so nice to work with! It’s soft, it eases round curves for felled seams, and it’s a good weight for jeans. It’s just so nice! Especially after working with calico.

Next we’ll get onto the jacket. 🙂


My Final Collection — Cut21 — Part 1

When I began my degree in Fashion Design, I often despaired at the lack of examples of Degree-level Fashion work shown online. I soon found out why there is so little to see: it’s a lot of work to do and students don’t have time to write about it all! That’s one reason. The other is secrecy and plagiarism. No one wants their work stolen, and even if that were not an issue, when you upload your written work to the college’s/university’s database, it checks the Internet for similar work to make sure you haven’t plagiarised it so if you blog it, it will think you’ve copied what is actually your own work. These are why I haven’t posted about my final collection. Yes, it has been two years since I began my degree at Bishop Burton College. Yesterday was my last day a Bishop Burton College. I shed more than a few tears once I got home and read the cards that my friends gave me. I won’t focus on that or I’ll start up again.

Onto my final collection…

It is called Cut21. The concept is a contrast/harmony of modernism and industrialism. It’s partly inspired by CC41 (which is also the inspiration for the name). I wrote a 3500 proposition on the concept and I won’t bore you with it here. To sum it up, these are clothes for days when you want to kick off the world and do what you want. It’s quiet rebellion in clothes, a way of saying “stuff this, I’m doing things my way“.

Mood board
Mood Board

Collection Board
Collection Board

 The outfit I made:

final design board
Final Design Board

hand-stitched buttonhole
Hand-stitched buttonhole — look how neat it is! 😀 It took me about 45mins to do and at least 4 months to learn!

It consists of an open jacket, a pair of jeans, and a shirt. The jacket is the simplest thing in design and construction. The jeans are more complex and even in the final garment there are issues I would like to perfect. The shirt was, I suppose, the most complex thing to make, and quite fiddly because the fabric was quite springy and I was using 1cm seam allowances or smaller. One premise of Cut21 is that I refuse point-blank to use a stitch other than straight stitch or buttonhole and button-sewing. I did hand-stitch the top buttonhole on the shirt (and I am so pleased with it!). Also, nothing is lined. This means that all seams must be clean finished, either felled, bound or French (that reminds me, we went to Paris to get our fabric — more on that later!).

How it all began…

In the interests of getting everything done on time, I began my work well before the module began. I began collecting images in December when I was in London. It started with Architecture as Libby (first work placement boss) was telling me about the buildings in London as we ran errands in her car. I was thinking of combining inspiration from old buildings and new ones. This evolved over the following months to being modernism combined and contrasted with industrialism. My boss at my second work placement told me about how concepts are worked with in real life. You take two things that sort of fit together, and sort of contrast, like plumbers and cowboys (both working men, but totally different work).

When I was about 7 or 8 years old I had a pencil tin with a drawing of a modernist chair on it. For my FMP I had been doodling very clean designs with swooping lines and had that chair mind. I couldn’t find that chair on Pinterest, but I did find a lot of other interiors images. I wanted my collection to be based on minimalist modernism, but I knew that that wasn’t really a concept.

At Wayside Flower, part of the inspiration, as I see it, is workwear. My boss introduced me to CC41 and I researched that. It was very practical, which suited me. But I am rather fed up with vintage as it is in the media (so over-hyped now). So I ended up combining the two influences and got modernism combined and contrasted industrialism. I called it Cut21 because the cut is so important. That had to be perfect. The 21 is a play on CC41 as well, but refers to the 21st Century. One of the logos is C21, which means 21st Century as well, if you are a lexicologist at OED.

I built quite a large Pinterest board with upward of 330 images on it. They vary from furniture and modern art to consumer images and toiles and beyond. Now, the images I picked were mostly what I call ‘mood images’, i.e. there is not a lot in them that one can design from. The way I worked in this module was to build up the idea in my head, to get me in the mindset of that aesthetic, draw a lot, and the designs would come out like that. No one had ever heard of that happening, but it worked for me. Of course I had to show some link between the images and my designs for my sketchbook, so I had to make some linking sketches. You just have to play by the rules if you want the grades. 🙂

This is how I worked this time:

1. Develop concept

2. Collect images that reinforce the feeling of its aesthetic

3. Get frustrated with supposed expectation to design something avant garde when that simply isn’t me and I can’t do it.

4. Go in a mood and design whatever I jolly well want.

3. Sketch in that mood

4. Develop silhouette based that fits that mood

5. Draw style lines that fit that mood

6. Have them be unusual

7. Show tutor and get surprising approval (sigh of relief)

8. Continue designing until you have three outfits and have run out of time.

When you are designing a collection you need a line plan. What garments do you want in your collection? I needed to design 2-3 complete outfits of 2-3 garments each. Once you know what you need to design and made, it’s much easier because you have direction, a sort of to-do list (or “snag list” as people seem to call them round here). If you are going to make all the things, it is advisable to have a few base patterns that you tweak for several designs. E.g.:

line plan

Tailored jacket block → basic C21 coat → C21 jackets and coat (princess line, no collar, two-piece sleeve)

Close fitting dress block → C21 Shirts and Utility dress (princess line, back yoke, back-seam sleeve)

Jeans block → C21 jeans and shorts (curved yoke, lowered front waist, pockets, gusset)

The designs have features in common. This is working horizontally and vertically. You have the x-axis of the pieces you want (coat, jacket, shirts, dress, jeans, shorts) and the y-axis (design variations in design book). This way you get the pieces you need, and you work into the designs. It gives depth to your work.

You can see some of my sketchbook pages on my ArtsThread Portfolio here. (It’s interesting to see how my work has changed over the last two years.)

On the following posts, I’ll show you what I made and we’ll start with the jacket because that’s what I made first. 🙂