The Shire: Tee 1 Toile

Following on from the Viking Dress toile, I made some changes to the pattern and commenced toile 4 (of the collection):

  • widened sleeves a bit (though evidently not enough)
  • took it in at the body
  • shortened to make it tee-length
  • added lace inserts


Looking at my illustrations, I can see that I forgot to add the asymmetrical hem. -_- Never mind; I needed practice with the coverstitch machine anyway (still do).

Also, I accidentally made it a size too small. This is because the size chart in Metric Pattern Cutting (which I Googled for quickness) does not agree with the dress forms at college. A size 10 dress form fits size 12 in the book, so when I made a size 10 according to the book, it was a size 8 according to the dress forms. Confusing? It can be. -_- So now it’s a nice fit on me, and a close fit on the dress form.


Lace Inserts
Free-motion lace
Free-motion lace and cutwork (like the cobwebs of Mirkwood)

Seeing this now, I notice I forgot the top inner bar of the Celtic Knot. It could be neater and I regret marking the circle with a Sharpie (lol),  but everyone seems to be impressed with it (and I’m my own worst critic).

Neck facing
Neck facing

I was looking at my store-bought t-shirts (I acquire them via uniforms) and the back necklines are faced or bound (not sure what to call it) to cover up the overlocking. I’m trying to figure out the best way to do this. So far, I cut a shape like this, press up 0.5cm on the lower edge and short ends, sew it on after the ribbing, and then edgestitch it down. It’s not perfect, but I’m getting there.

Lay plan


This was my first lay plan (not exactly zero-waste, but I cut the fabric too short, and this is a work in progress. I’m sure there’s a better way.


Realised I could cut the ribbing on the fold, so I could rearrange things to waste less fabric. I’m beginning to think kimono sleeves are not very economical.

The Whole Tee

The Shire tee 1 front view

The neckline ribbing actually sits nice and flat when I don’t have my shoulders raised. 🙂

The Shire tee 1 Back view

(The colours in the first photo are truer to life). I like it. But, of course…

Changes to make

  • lower sleeves underseam by about 2-3cm
  • make the correct size
  • widen shoulder lace by 1-2cm
  • widen front lace to match shoulder lace
  • move back sleeve seam closer to CB
  • make asymmetrical hem

I’ll make these changes and toile again. The next top is slightly different. The lace is differently placed and there is different embroidery. It will have the wrong hem on the toile, but the actual one for the next tee is very simple so I don’t need to practise it. 🙂

I’m quite pleased with myself. I’d never made a t-shirt till this term, and almost never used an overlocker, but I think the quality on this is pretty good!

This is how the new pattern is looking so far:

The Shire tee 1 pattern


I have a to-do list that is a spreadsheet. I might miss college. :/


Viking Dress in Jersey

As the Hobbit and LOTR are largely inspired by Nordic legends, I thought I’d put a Viking dress into my final collection. It’s pretty much zero-waste too.



I recently got an overlocker on eBay (Toyota SLR4D) and finally have it working properly! And learning to work with jersey is one of my goals for my FMP, so I’m making this dress from either jersey or ponte knit (which I have to test sew because I haven’t used it before and it’s different).

This dress took me about 4 hours to make including cutting. I’m reasonably pleased with it and I will be wearing it, even though it’s a size 10 and I’m a 6.

Now, you may have noticed that the sleeves are a little snug in comparison to the dress form. This is one of the reasons we toile. 🙂 I have made them bigger on the pattern.

The pockets were going to be sleeve segments, but I thought pockets would be better (because who doesn’t love pockets?!)

New skills used in this dress: ribbing, overlock seams, overstitching, using clear elastic as a stabiliser on knits, and marking jersey (use a marker pen). I haven’t perfected the neckline though (and it bothers me).

I got the fabric yesterday at The Shuttle in Leeds. I went on a fabric sourcing trip with the class, which was fruitful, though I still have a few more things to get, like sweatshirting and gold-coloured denim. I estimated my final collection will cost up to £300 in supplies. Not bad really, considering in London it’s not unusual to pay £7,000 (but that includes paying people to make it for you, which we don’t because we learn technical skills 😛 ).

I have updated the pattern to work with the changes in the sleeves, and will try it next in a t-shirt, perhaps with the lace at the shoulders too. 🙂


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Twisted Seams in Jeans

I know I haven’t mentioned it on here yet, but I’m onto my final collection of my BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Production at York College. It’s called The Shire and is based largely on The Hobbit and LOTR (follow my Instagram for better updates). I’ve more or less got my final designs and two of the garments are jeans (oh yeah, I now work at Levi’s in York City Centre as a stylist and tailor). There will be a pair of Mom Jeans and a pair of skinny jeans. First I’m working with the Mom Jeans.

At Levi’s we have some jeans like this. They’re a slim, relaxed fit in the leg, with a good fit in the bottom, and a fairly straight waist. The latter is something I will not be incorporating because I like my jeans to stay up without a belt, but the legs are good and I want to use that look. So I compared the cut with those from Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear and found that they are wildly different, but both look good. The latter didn’t look Mom-jeanish though when I toiled them.

This is what the Metric Pattern Cutting Jeans look like if you widen the legs to  make them Mom-jeanish
This is what the Metric Pattern Cutting Jeans look like if you widen the legs to make them Mom-jeanish


This is the shape of Levi's jeans like the 501s, Wedgie-fit, and 501CT (from memory)
This is the shape of Levi’s jeans like the 501s, Wedgie-fit, and 501CT (from memory)

Now, bear in mind that the first ones are size 12, and the latter ones are my size (approximately 8) so mine are narrower. The legs on the Levi’s jeans are much straighter at the outseam than the Metric Pattern Cutting ones. The alignment is also a lot closer to the side seam; you could very nearly make selvedge jeans with that pattern!

So I printed it out in my size and toiled it. All going to plan, but I made the pattern too long and shortened it on paper. This is where things began to go awry. When truing the side seam I forgot to take account of the yoke on the back, so the front pattern ended up 3cm too short, and of course I didn’t realise at the time.

I noticed something was wrong when I was sewing the inseam and the back was not only not shorter than the front (it should be) but it was too long by a fair bit. I just cut it off the crutch with the overlocker (bad move). Now the inseams matched. So I sewed the side seams, and realised that it wasn’t just the inseams that wouldn’t have matched. I carried on sewing and tried the toile on afterwards.

Now, the first problem was the bum-nose. I do not wish to appear as if I have a tail tucked in there. I assumed that this was probably due to the issue with the crutch seam, so I moved on.

Another issue came to my attention when I looked down. The legs had twisted symmetrically. I could not fathom why. Levi’s jeans didn’t. And my toile wasn’t even in twill so that couldn’t be it. Surely it must be the fit?

I cut up one leg and examined the new shape. It was… odd.

Front leg of toile


Rear leg of toile

Now, I assumed, based on half-remembered facts about twisted seams, that I must adjust the pattern to make the jeans hang right when I wear them. So I spent a good few hours playing with the pattern on Illustrator, in vain, because I couldn’t get the seams to be corresponding measurements. After said good few hours it occurred to me to get the toile out and examine it again. I thought, What would happen if I lay the legs as they would have, had they been the same length to begin with and I hadn’t chopped that bit off?

And this is what happened…


The back leg’s inseam was 3cm lower than the from leg, but sewn to match it, so the grainlines were not level. This meant the leg was trying to level itself out. As it couldn’t do that magically, it twisted round like a spiral staircase. It sort of makes sense and evidently is what happened, as you can see in the above photo. Accidental Pattern Magic. As proof, if I lay the front leg properly across (as it should have been) all it well. I wore it pinned for a while correctly and it didn’t twist. I didn’t take any pictures of this (but I’m going to retoile to eliminate this issue and check the fit otherwise).

So there we have it: the (or a) cause of twisted legs in jeans is when either the front or the back isn’t level (maybe because the seamstress/seamster stretched one of them and cut it off to match). I think this happens more if the problem extends below the knee.

I’m glad I learned that little tidbit, especially as I want to be a Master Tailor at Levi’s. 🙂

I love free-motion work!

As part of my most recent module at college, I started doing more free-motion work. I’d done some before, without a free-motion foot, but not very much. I think I decided to do it more here because the concept seemed to suggest embroidery and I was NOT going to do it by hand (too time-consuming for college). So I got a Bernina foot #24 and watched some videos on YouTube.

I found out that not only can you do absolutely beautiful embroidery by free-motion, but you can make lace! It took a few goes to get anything really good, but I soon picked it up.

Free-motion lace
Free-motion lace
Free-motion embroidered Celtic Knot design

Helpful sources on YouTube include:



There were some others too, but I can’t find them anymore.

There is also this fascinating ebook I found (please note I do not have the rights to this ebook, but I don’t know where I found it).


There are more of my samples on the Pinterest board for this module. Free-motion is my new favourite thing! 😀


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. 🙂