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Louise's Cosy Skirt

Tuesday, 18 October 2016 15:09:36 Europe/London

You'd be forgiven for thinking that skirts are just for Spring and Summer. However, when it comes to denim, these skirts can be worn all year round! Just add some warm tights and you're good to go. Take a look at Louise's latest make for the WhiteTree blog team.


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0 Comments | Posted in WhiteTree Blog Team Bloggers Creations By Lisa Washington

Louise's Christmas Stocking

Wednesday, 23 December 2015 10:53:37 Europe/London

We have the perfect blog post to end a year of spectacular WhiteTree blog team makes! What better for this time of year than a wonderful, personalised Christmas stocking? Over to Louise....

Twenty-eight and a half hours

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Comments | Posted in WhiteTree Blog Team Bloggers Creations By Lisa Washington

Louise's Floral Anna Dress

Wednesday, 7 October 2015 16:06:00 Europe/London

We know the days of making cool cotton summer dresses are over, but this project is too lovely to not share! Also, teamed with a cardy and some tights, it's still wearable for Autumn. Have a look at Louise's lovely dress....

By Hand London Anna dress

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1 Comments | Posted in WhiteTree Blog Team Bloggers Creations By Lisa Washington

Tilly & Tilda - by Louise

Tuesday, 19 May 2015 15:35:52 Europe/London

What do you get when you cross a Tilly and the Buttons pattern with some Tilda fabric? A pretty awesome dress, actually.

Over to Louise....

My third White Tree Fabrics Make – The Tilly and the Buttons Francoise Dress

Hi there!  I am extremely happy and relieved to be able to show you my final version of the Tilly & the Buttons Francoise dress, made for the White Tree Fabrics blog team.  I have already shown you two previous versions, both essentially acting as toiles for this project. The first one was too small for my liking (even though it perhaps didn’t look small to anyone else) and the second one had something fishy going on at the back…something I thought might be improved by making a sway-back adjustment to the pattern.

For my third toile, I made a sway-back alteration of 1″, re-positioned the lower part of the back darts to line up better, reduced the centre back seam allowance at the very top by 1″, adjusted the facings to match and lengthened the dress by 2″.  It was not good.  The problem at the back seemed to have worsened, so I concluded that the sway back alteration needed increasing.  I made a fourth toile, this time increasing the sway back to 1.5″, and reducing the centre back seam only by 1/2″, and increasing the length of the dress by a further 2″.  It was AWFUL.  I threw away both the third and fourth toiles without taking photos.

I was feeling pretty depressed by this point.  I’ve been trying hard to find the motivation to sew as I mentioned in a previous blog post, and I felt like I had wasted effort and time (not to mention fabric!) trying to get this dress to work.  It enraged me.  This is a simple dress!  How simple could it get?  Why is it I can make a coat or a shirt but I can’t get a shift dress right?!

I decided to give it one last go, but this time I planned on keeping it simple.  I’ve been sewing for five years and I’ve never needed a sway-back alteration before, and it didn’t seem to be working now, so to hell with it.  I retraced the pattern, lengthened the dress by 4″ and took out 1/2″ at the centre back tapering to nothing.  And that’s all.  If there was going to be a bit of wrinkling over my bum then so be it, I was past caring!!!

Back when I first started planning this dress I wanted it to be a special Francoise.  I wanted it to be just that bit different.  I wanted it fully lined and I wanted the collar to also feature some lace.  I chose the Tilda fabric ‘Olivia Red for the main fabric, which I think is more pink in real life.  I chose to make the collar with contrasting plain cream cotton and an ivory lace overlay.  I chose a lovely premium’ viscose lining which feels far superior to the polyester linings I have used in the past – much softer and smoother.

I made the dress with the 3/4 length sleeves, but for the lining I followed the directions for the sleeveless version.  The lining is attached at the neckline (like the facing would have been) and it is sewn into the zip but otherwise it hangs free.  The armholes of the lining are finished with bias strips.

The lining - sewn into the CB zip
The lining – sewn into the CB zip

For the lace collar, I cut two layers of collar pieces, a layer of interfacing and a layer of lace and basted the lace onto the upper (outer?) collar before sewing.  I think it works quite well although maybe a heavier lace would have stood out more – I don’t know whether understated is better or worse in this case!

Lace collar
Lace collar

Making this dress has made me realise I’m not a fan of raglan sleeves.  They make my shoulders seem too rounded, I prefer the definition of the seam on a regular armscye.  I want to see where my shoulder stops and my arms begin because otherwise it feels as though my shoulders are slopping halfway down my arm.  I also think regular sleeves are easier to fit, even though they are (slightly) harder to sew.  The raglan seams wrinkle a bit on this dress and it’s probably down to my apparent lack of ability to sew well but whatever, I JUST DON’T LIKE THEM OKAY?!

The Francoise Dress - front view
The Francoise Dress – front view

Fit-wise, this dress is thankfully better than its four precedents: loose enough fit to be comfortable, and a better length.  The full lining is lovely, and means I’ll be able to wear it all year round over tights etc.  The back still needs work, but I’m not a complete glutton for punishment – Francoise and I are done!  One thing I noticed when I looked at a lot of other Francoise dresses with collars was that the collar pieces at the centre back seemed to be very far apart.  I bore this in mind when altering the dress so although I took out 1/2″ per side of the centre back neckline, I kept the original length of the collar pieces, hoping they would meet closer together at the back.  In hindsight, obviously I should have actually measured it, because there is still a pretty large gap between collar ends.  What is that about?!

Back view
The Francoise Dress – back view – with creases from when I had been sitting down!

Luckily the main fit issues and the gap in the collar are both at the back, and I can’t see the back when I’m wearing the dress so I’m not too fussed.  I like the dress from the front and I know I’m being about 1000% more critical than most other people would be anyway..…so this dress is going to get worn.  All that effort has to be worth something, right?!  Besides, I love the fabric!

The Francoise Dress
The Francoise Dress

Thank you to White Tree Fabrics who sent me the pattern, the Tilda fabric, the lining, the lace and the cotton – all beautifully packaged :-)

Last one!

Comments | Posted in WhiteTree Blog Team Bloggers Creations By Lisa Washington

Louise's Cosy Coco

Tuesday, 2 December 2014 16:46:52 Europe/London

Louise from Thread Carefully has created one of the most cosy looking dresses we've seen in a long time. Combining our ever popular warm jersey with the Tilly and the Buttons Coco pattern, Louise has created something that whilst being a simple and easy make, delivers fantastic results.

Coco Jersey

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Jersey Dress

Remember I said I was desiring simple sewing projects?  Well you could not get more simple than Tilly’s Coco dress! White Tree Fabrics kindly sent me the pattern and 2 metres of their ‘warm jersey‘ for this project.

Now, I hope you are prepared to be really jealous of where I live – the tropical, glamorous beaches of the East Riding of Yorkshire were the perfect location to shoot these photos…..

Coco Jersey 2
My feet aren't touching the floor in this photo!

The pattern is great.  Simple, but great.  I was on the fence about this pattern for so long, because of its simplicity.  I felt like after having been on three pattern cutting courses, I could draft it myself… but this is probably me being overly confident and, well, wrong.  Maybe.  We will never know, because when White Tree Fabrics started stocking Tilly’s patterns I hesitated not a moment longer and ordered it!

Coco Jersey 3
My feet aren't touching the floor in this photo, either!

Boy, am I glad to own this pattern!  I traced it one evening, and I’m not kidding, the next lunchtime I made my first Coco in UNDER ONE HOUR.  And I even liked it, which was itself a surprise because I wasn’t sure if it would be flattering on me (even though it looks great on everyone else).

Coco Jersey 4
Running towards the North sea. Totally tropical, don't you know!

My White Tree Fabrics Coco is one of the plainest things I have ever made.  You know me: prints, prints, and more prints!  But it’s getting cold, and I wanted cosy, and after ordering some samples I just couldn’t resist the ‘warm jersey’.  This fabric is actually like a woolly fine knitted fabric, like they use to make cardigans etc.  It is super soft and really warm and cosy.

Neckline Close up

I made the most basic Coco dress – plain neckline, no cuffs, no pockets.  I added 2″ to the length which still leaves it above the knee but not too short.  I was very careful not to stretch the fabric as I sewed, because the fabric recommendations call for a stable jersey and the fabric I chose was a bit too stretchy, really.  I stabilised the shoulder seams with elastic (pictured below), and I also used the same elastic to stabilise the neckline before turning it under and topstitching it, too.

Coco Jersey 5
Elastic to stabilise the shoulder seams

I used Bondaweb to stabilise the hemline before sewing it.  The stretch recovery of the fabric is great, so its stretchiness is no problem now that the dress has been sewn together.  Oh, and it washes nicely too, on a machine wool cycle.

A mid-application shot of the Bondaweb, which I ironed in to stabilise the hem before sewing it with a zig zag stitch

I really love this dress, but it does feel weird to be blogging about such a simple sewing project!  However, the dress is already getting worn a lot because it’s so snuggly and practical.  It feels easy to wear, and stylish in an understated way.  I’m on the lookout for some sort of bonkers jersey print for a future Coco, but for now I’m very happy with this one!

Thanks to White Tree Fabrics, and my photographer and co-blogger, Aileen.

Shopping list:
Tilly and the Buttons Coco Sewing Pattern, click here.
Warm Jersey fabric (available in 9 fantastic colours! Click here.

Comments | Posted in WhiteTree Blog Team Bloggers Creations By Lisa Washington

Louise's Red Lace Dress

Friday, 12 September 2014 13:02:21 Europe/London

This next blogger project was truly a labour of love for Louise. She decided to select a project that involved sewing with lace. As she isn't used to working with this type of fabric, the project took her a little longer than usual but the results were spectacular. We are in awe of this beautiful dress, which has been made to wear to a wedding! Anyway, over to Louise.....

Red Lace Dress

I am pleased to finally be showing you my first project made for the White Tree Fabrics blogger network.  I say ‘finally’ because this dress has taken a very long time to plan and make.  I first ordered the samples mid-June!  The actual sewing spanned three weeks, which is extremely long by my standards.

White Tree Fabrics have an amazing range of ‘fancy fabrics’ – particularly lace.  I knew that I wanted to make a lace dress – in fact, I’ve been wanting to make one for about four years!  As I have limited experience of working with lace, I ordered a large selection of samples of the different types of lace so that I could see how they differ in appearance and feel.  I also ordered samples of duchess satin, lightweight satin and organdie to see how well they might complement the lace.  All of these samples I ordered in red, my favourite colour.

I chose a combination which I was pretty sure I liked (heavy corded laceduchess satin andlightweight satin), but I had a last-minute change of heart and thought it might be better for me to make a green lace dress instead.  So I asked for more samples to be sent out, this time in green, but when they arrived I couldn’t get the right combination of greens so it was back to plan A, and I was finally ready to order!

I knew from the start that I was going to use Simplicity Amazing Fit 1606 for my pattern.  I have adored wearing my blue and white halter neck version, and the pattern includes a variation specifically designed for a dress with a lace overlay.  However, I wanted to use the scallop edge of the lace for the hem of the skirt, which meant I wouldn’t be able to use the skirt pattern for this dress – instead I needed something with a straight hem.  Looking through my patterns I came across New Look 6143, which also includes a variation for a lace overlay dress and the skirt is pleated rather than circular.  The hemline wasn’t 100% straight, but I could just about get away with it as the curve was very slight.

I set about cutting into my lace fabric, which I’ll admit I was too terrified to prewash in case I ruined it, so this dress will have to be dry clean only!  I had to cut it all on the crosswise grain, so that my hemline could be the scalloped edge of the lace.  If you ever want to cut through corded lace, you will need really sharp and sturdy shears.  I had a brand new pair (with red handles, yay!), and I was glad of them but it was still tough-going.  Perhaps a rotary cutter with a cutting board would be a better option for corded lace?

My next challenge was – how on earth do I transfer the pattern markings to the lace?  Notches weren’t going to show and I couldn’t draw on it… it had to be tailor tacks.  Gah I hate tailor tacks.  They take forever and they feel messy and fussy.  Still, it seemed like the only way to mark the darts properly.

Now, call me a fool because it was only at this point, after having cut the lace, that I gave consideration to seam finishes.  I guess I had just presumed I’d do French seams where possible, but when I practised with some scraps it didn’t look great.  Because the lace has such an open weave you could see the seam from the outside, and the French seam was particularly noticeable because of the number of layers of fabric in the seam.

I searched the internet for advice on how to seam lace, and came across a technique called ‘applique seams’.  Oh my word!  Basically applique seams are where you match up the lace motifs and overlap them exactly, and stitch one on top of the other with a zigzag stitch and then carefully trim around the motifs to create an invisible seam.  This discovery threw me into a total panic because I had already cut my lace out with the standard seam allowance, rather than a whole load of extra for matching-up and overlapping exactly.  However, I started to calm down when I realised that the lace I was working with didn’t have a series of isolated motifs, instead it was a continuous pattern with continuous cording, and therefore applique seams would not be ‘applicable’ (haha) in this case.  Phew!

I still had to decide on a seam finish, though.  After trying a few different options, I settled for simply pressing apart and trimming and leaving it at that.  The lace doesn’t fray, and any other seam finish was too visible.  This is a special occasion dress, so I knew I didn’t need to worry about the seam finishes being super-robust for everyday wear and repeated washing.

The next tricky part was the actual sewing.  Sewing over the cords meant that the line of stitching wasn’t 100% straight; where the needle hit the corded bits it went a little wonky (demonstrated below with white stitching on a scrap).  I adjusted the stitch length to a slightly longer stitch and decided to just wing it… after all it was only irregular in extreme close-up and it wasn’t going to affect the bigger picture.

Red Lace Dress

Top left: Fabrics which arrived beautifully packaged.
Top right: Sample line of stitching over the cords.
Centre: Chevron effect of the lace (double layer)
Bottom left: Marking darts with tailor tacks and glass headed pins
Bottom right: Princess seams of the bodice overlay.

Once I’d gotten over these initial hurdles, sewing the dress was straightforward for a little while.  I got my lace bodice overlay sewn up easily, and then made the strapless bodice underneath with the duchess satin, lined with lightweight satin and boned with black rigilene boning from Boyes.  I then started on the skirt, which has 8 box pleats.  The New Look pattern didn’t advise to sew the pleats in the overlay and the skirt together as one, but instead to do each separately.  I followed the instructions but I should have trusted my instincts and sewn them together so that the overlay and skirt hung together perfectly.  When I had made the skirt and the overlay, I attached them to the dress…and hated it.

Red Lace Dress

Left: Strapless, boned satin bodice
Right: Satin pleated skirt with lace pleated overlay

It wasn’t hanging correctly at all due to the pleats in the overlay sitting on top of the pleats in the satin.  In addition to this, the satin is so thick and ‘springy’ that it didn’t respond well to being pleated, and stuck out in a rather unflattering manner.  I was crestfallen and wasn’t sure what to do.  My options were to:

a) stick with it but be unhappy – but I couldn’t go with this option.  This dress is supposed to be a testament to my sewing and something very special that I feel proud to wear.  How could I wear it if I was unhappy with it?
b) scrap the skirt and make a new one with extra fabric – the thrifty part of my brain wouldn’t allow me to do this.  Wasting that amount of lace and satin would be a sin.
c) unpick the pleats in both skirts and try sewing them together as one or
d) unpick the pleats in both skirts and gather them instead

So it was either C or D, and let me tell you I’d had enough of pleats after sewing 16 of them, so I opted for gathering, and if it wasn’t going to work out then I’d have to fall back on option B – eek!

Unpicking the waist seam and then the pleats in the lace took FOREVER.  The thread was the exact same colour, I thought I might go blind trying to see every stitch and distinguish it from the lace.  The weave of the lace was so open that I had to unpick each individual stitch.  I couldn’t rip out a few at a time or I risked tearing the lace.  Eventually I managed it and miraculously I managed to retain my sight and not tear the lace.  Whoop!

The next stage was to gather the waistline – straightforward, right?  Erm NO.  I sewed my two gathering lines and realised that the second one had accidentally crossed over the first in a careless mid-sewing swerve, so before I could even begin I had to unpick that line of stitches and redo it.  Once I had done that I set about pulling the threads to gather them only to find that the stitches weren’t long enough and the threads snapped!  I’d used a stitch length of 4 but it wasn’t enough!  So I had to start AGAIN.  This time I used a stitch length of 5 and thankfully it worked.

I used bias binding to bind the skirt and bodice seams together to make the waistline nice and neat on the inside.  I had used French seams for the side seams of the satin skirt and when I hemmed it, I used a bias binding facing hand sewn into place.  Both the overlay and the satin skirt are sewn together at the centre back zip because of the zip.  Here’s a close-up photo of some of the insides.

Red Lace Dress

 Left: French seamed satin skirt
Top right: Bias bound waistline
Bottom right: Bias bound hem on the satin skirt

I had quite a bit of bother with the zip.  I ordered a ‘transparent’ concealed zip – the only type of zip available from White Tree Fabrics – designed to be ‘transparent’ so that you can use it with any fabric ( Note from WhiteTree - larger zip selection coming soon!).  You’ll note the quotation marks I have employed because the zip is not so much ‘transparent’ as just…white.  As you sewists will know, it’s always tricky inserting an invisible zip especially if you have a bulky waistband to get past, and with the lace overlay added into the equation it did not go well!  The zip was showing and it was showing white.  To make matters worse, when I then tried on the garment, the zip pull got stuck at the bulky bit (despite me having snipped the corners to try to eliminate the bulk) and it wouldn’t move.  I had to unpick it and go and buy a standard dress red dress zip for the job!  I did a centred zip in the end, and the bulkiness of the seams means it stands out a bit, but I can live with it.  Especially when the alternative is to unpick it AGAIN and re-insert!

Red Lace Dress

The Red Lace Dress – inside – front and back

I haven’t worn the dress yet as I am saving it for a dear friend’s wedding in October.  Obviously I had to try it on for a few quick photos though, to give you an idea of what it looks like on! I’m pleased with how it looks from the front, and from the side.

Red Lace Dress

Red Lace Dress

The back has a few issues – a bit of gaping in the upper back of the lace overlay.  On the dressmaker’s dummy if the top of the neckline sits high, it reduces the gape, but it doesn’t want to sit high when I’m actually wearing it.  What I’m going to do is to trim the neckline down a little lower to get rid of the excess from the top, and then re-finish the edges, and make a new button loop.  But that can wait until nearer to the wedding!

Red Lace Dress

Talking of button loops, this was my first ever go at it and I was pleased with how it turned out and relieved it was easy to do.  I had to consult my 1972 Singer Sewing Book for instructions on how to do it!  Here’s a photo of the loop and also the blind hem I hand-sewed on the satin.  You guys know how much I hate hand-sewing so this deserves another photo!

If you’re still reading, congratulations on making it through such a long post and please accept my apologies: this dress took such a long time to get right and a lot of effort went into it so I like to give a full report!

I’m looking forward to wearing this to my friend’s wedding (once I’ve sorted the back gape).  Thanks to White Tree Fabrics for providing the fabric!  My next project with them is going to be super simple!

If you fancy tackling a project like this and having a go at making your own red lace dress, here's what you'll need:

The Red lace can be found ► here.

Find our duchess satin ► here.

Liquid lightweight satin is ► here.

Try this sewing pattern ► V8020.

Sew All Threads ► here.

Comments | Posted in Bloggers Creations By Lisa Washington

Meet our Bloggers - Louise

Monday, 2 June 2014 10:53:06 Europe/London

WhiteTree fabrics are delighted to welcome Louise, aka Tabatha Tweedie to the WhiteTree Blogging Team.

blogger thread carefully

Tabatha has been sewing since 2009 and she's made hundreds of garments since then and a few home wares as well.  She's originally from Manchester, but has lived in Perpignan, Sevilla, Sheffield, Coventry and currently lives in Hull, East Yorkshire.  Tabatha is a stay-at-home Mum to two pre-school children, so generally she sew during their naptimes and in the evenings.

Tabatha loves sewing dresses most of all, as a dress is what you would find her wearing on an average day.  She often work with fun and colourful prints, florals and polka dots, and is a sucker for nautical styles.  She prefers working with cotton best of all, because it is so well behaved, but over the past year or so Tabatha has gained more experience working with knits and silks.  She regularly attends a pattern cutting course which is giving her more confidence to alter patterns and even drafther own.  Tabatha is a qualified teacher and has just started teaching basic sewing skills on a one-to-one basis, and is really enjoying that!

Sewing is her main squeeze but she also likes to have a bit of crochet on the go - something extremely simple - and she's done a bit of knitting too.  Tabatha also loves baking, and has recently started to get into cake-decorating too.  She runs 2-3 times a week so that she can eat cakes and drink cocktails without feeling too guilty!

We're so delighted to have Tabatha on the Blog Team. You can follor her on Twitter @tabatha_tweedie and on Facebook as Thread Carefully, and of course you can follow all her sewing adventure on her blog.

thread carefully

Comments | Posted By Lisa Washington
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