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Jane's Lace Skirt

Monday, 9 March 2015 10:51:34 Europe/London

We're pleased to share another fantastic lace make with you, this time from our lovely guest blogger Jane of Handmade Jane. Take a look at her lace skirt below - we love the contrasting lining!

  GBSB Lace Challenge


Just as the Great British Sewing Bee seems to have evolved as a TV series (more challenging tasks, contestants working with a variety of different fabrics and techniques etc), so too does the accompanying book. I reviewed the book for the first series here and was mostly positive about it, my main criticism being the lack of patterns included. I was recently asked to review the book for the current series -Fashion with Fabric - and wow, what a difference a couple of years makes!

The focus this time is on the fabrics used, which makes for a surprisingly interesting read. The book is split into four main chapters based on the most widely used and popular fabrics: cotton, wool and other animal fabrics, stretch fabrics and luxury fabrics. Of the patterns themselves, there are several that I'll probably try out at some point......

I've been keeping one pattern up my sleeve  - the lace pencil skirt - as it's one I've already made!


I kept coming back to it in the book and in the end just decided to give it a try with some leftover lace from my lace top. For the underskirt I used a sea-green lining fabric previously used to line the sleeves of my boiled wool coat, so all in all, a good stash busting exercise! The skirt is a simple, elegant shape with no front darts, an invisible zip and a facing. I only ever intended it to be a practice run to test out the pattern, but I think the finished version is totally wearable. I also made it before this week's episode of the GBSB and let me tell you, I could NEVER have finished it in 3 hours or however long they were given. Hats off to the semi finalists!

Using the finished measurements as a guide, I made a size 10 with no adjustments, and the fit is spot on. The two skirt layers are made up separately, but attached around the zip as a single layer. They're then treated as two separate fabrics below the zip. It's a brilliant technique which I'll definitely use again. I also used hairline seams for the first time, where the seam is stitched, narrowly zigzagged and then trimmed. A hairline seam is a good choice for sheer fabrics and it worked well for my lace overskirt, creating a very light finish.

I'm amazed by the number of excellent tips and techniques I've picked up from reading this book - I learnt two new ones just from making a simple skirt! I'll keep you updated with anything else I make from it, but so far, it's shaping up to be one of my favourite sewing books to date.

'Fashion for Fabric' was given to me free of charge for review by Quadrille Publishing. All views my own.

Jane's Fabric fear challenge: LACE

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 15:34:02 Europe/London

It must be time for a new blog post! We've had some fantastic projects turned into us recently, so this is the first of many wonderful makes and even better, it's from one of our fantastic guest bloggers Jane of Handmade Jane. We absolutely love this one and we're so pleased to share it with you. Over to Jane!

Handmade Jane

What's the scariest thing you can think of? For me it's clowns, dolls coming to life and ventriloquists dummies.... I also can't stand anything round my neck, or thinking I can't breath…. or one particular scene in The Woman in Black (the old BBC version, not the Daniel Radcliffe film). If you've seen it, you'll know exactly which bit I'm talking about - TERRIFYING.  I'm a bit of a wuss generally and news of this must have made its way across the ocean, as I was asked to be a participant in this year's Fear Fabric Challenge, hosted by Beth at 110 Creations.  WOOOOOOOOO!!

For the challenge I had to choose a scary fabric and conquer my fear of it by sewing something fabulous. Now there isn't actually a fabric that scares the bejesus out of me in the same way as a talking doll or The Woman in Black would, but there are a few I've managed to avoid like the plague. One of them is silk, which I'm still giving a wide berth, the other one is lace. Ah lace, lace, lacey, lacey, lace, so pretty, but with such a dreadful reputation, all those holes! It was only after seeing a Joseph dress worn by my lovely friend Rose that I was truly inspired to give lace a go myself.

I thought a whole dress would be a bit much to tackle on my first attempt, but liked the idea of a smart top that could be worn with fitted trousers. A bit like the Luxurious Lace Top from Boden. For fabric I used some All Over Flower Lace in navy from White Tree Fabrics. I recently joined their blogging team as an occasional guest blogger, so the lace, satin lining fabric and bias binding for finishing was kindly sent to me free of charge - thank you White Tree Fabrics! There was an almost overwhelmingly large selection of lace to choose from, so I ordered a few samples first. I'd highly recommend doing this as the samples are generously cut and you can drape them over your arm to see what they look like as sleeves.  I didn't want to go with a very expensive lace, just in case I totally bodged it, and although the lace I used was fine, with hindsight I should have taken the risk and gone for a higher quality fabric. I think it would have given the top more of a fancy finish.

Handmade Jane

The pattern I used was the Colette Laurel. What appealed to me about the pattern was the lack of zips or buttons - the top version can just be pulled over your head. Shaping is created with bust darts and back contour darts, which I was hoping would be enough. I actually made a muslin beforehand (gasp!) and cut a size 8 with a ½" FBA (full bust adjustment). Although it fitted well across the bust, it was still a little boxy for my liking, so I added contour darts to the front, checking I could still get it over my head before sewing them! I also took in the side seams a smidgen too. The only other change to the pattern was to extend the length of the sleeves from elbow length to wrist length (about six inches).

Handmade Jane


Lace is very 'on trend' (as Gok would say), which was handy as there were plenty of examples in the shops for me to inspect at close quarters. I was initially thinking of underlining the lace, but my secret lurking revealed that the majority were made with a full lining. So a full lining it was. I used a solid navy satin lining, which was actually far more of a pain in the arse to work with than the lace. It was slippery to cut out and frayed like nobody's business as soon as you even looked in its general direction. I used the shiniest side against the skin so that the top could slide on and off easily, with the duller side against the lace to give less of a bling effect. By comparison, the lace was as good as gold: it washed and dried like a dream, didn't fray and behaved itself perfectly when I was cutting it out.  Nothing scary about this fabric at all.
Working with it is time consuming though - it's almost impossible to mark lace pattern pieces in the usual way, so I used tailors tacks to mark out all the darts and notches (thank you Louise at Thread Carefully for showing me the light on that one!) Marking up the pattern pieces took ages, but it was good discipline. As the bodice is fully lined, most seams are hidden from view, for the ones that are on view (such as the sleeve seams), I used French seams. I also used this brilliant tutorial - inserting un-lined sleeves in a lined bodice - to achieve a lovely clean finish around the sleeves and armholes.

handmade Jane

I didn't actually refer to the instructions much as I fully lined my top, which meant a lot of them were redundant (along with the bias binding). There's a lot more you can do with this pattern though: as well as the top, there are three dress options included in the pattern itself and the option to download an E-Booklet with a further nine variations.

So what's the verdict? Well, my verdict on working with lace is a pleasant surprise. Yes, it's time consuming to work with, but the fact that it's relatively easy to prepare and sew more than makes up for this. I'm still not convinced the shape of the Laurel pattern is that flattering for my shape - I made this before taking my pattern cutting course, so if I made it again, I would tweak it accordingly. I also think my decision to fully line it has made it a bit bulkier than I'd prefer. It's perfect for wearing with jeans and heels to the pub though, and in that respect, it's a super useful addition to my wardrobe. I would like to work with lace again, but I think next time I'll choose a different colour.

handmade jane

We think this is a stunning blouse, perfect for any occasion but it would work especially for the upcoming party season. Fancy having a go at this yourself? Here's your shopping list:

Get the lace ► here. 11 colours to choose from.
Lining fabric is ► here. 39 colours to choose from.
Find the perfect sewing pattern for your shape and figure ► here


Comments | Posted in WhiteTree Blog Team By Lisa Washington

Guest Bloggers

Wednesday, 10 September 2014 17:07:47 Europe/London

The WhiteTree blogging family currently consists of 25 very talented ladies from all over the UK as well as having one blogger in the USA and one in Belgium! Some of our bloggers have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share, whilst some of our bloggers are new to sewing and are able to share their progress and sewing journey. Although our team is full to bursting with amazing ladies, we do have a few guest bloggers on board. We are working on very special projects with these lovely we thought we'd introduce them to you!

Guest Bloggers

   Jane                                                  Hannah                                             Maria

Jane blogs over at Handmade Jane. She's been sewing since 2009. She has a passion for all things Vintage, Gingham and Polka dots, as well as red blue and retro floral prints. With around 100 amazing makes on her website, I think it's safe to say that Jane will be bringing a wealth of experience with her and we can't wait to see how her project for WhiteTree turns out!

Hannah blogs over at Made with hugs and kisses. With around 40 makes under her belt, Hannah certainly knows how to turn out gorgeous dresses, lovely tops and pretty skirts. Her makes have a vintage feel to some of them; all are feminine and beautifully cut and made. Hannah is helping up with a truly special project and we know it's going to be a great blog post! Stay tuned.

Maria blogs over at How good is that? Maria's blog is well established and well loved and was recently nominated for a Burda style blog award....that's how good it is! Maria hails from Sydney, Australia. She can turn her hand to making any garment; tops, trousers, coats, skirts, dresses.....and we've got something special in the bag for her project with us! We can't wait to share it with you all.

Keep your eyes peeled for these projects coming up and we hope you'll join us in giving our lovely guest bloggers a warm welcome.

What is a guest blogger?
Rather than being a regular, monthly contributer, we will work with certain bloggers on special projects a few times a year. Interested? Contact Lisa to discuss this option further. We aren't currently taking on any more regular bloggers because the response was so overwhelmingly wonderful that we managed to fill our places in around a month!

Comments | Posted in WhiteTree Blog Team By Lisa Washington
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