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The Perfect Summer Dress

Monday, 3 August 2015 11:55:51 Europe/London

When Louise of Sew Simple said she wanted to make a Summer Dress for her next blog project, we had no idea she'd create literally the perfect Summer dress. Stylish, chic, timeless, crisp, bright and fresh, this dress is an absolute triumph!

McCalls M6696

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Comments | Posted in WhiteTree Blog Team By Lisa Washington

Louise's Lace Skirt

Monday, 9 March 2015 10:06:14 Europe/London

Hot on the heels of 'Lace Week' on the Great British Sewing Bee, we have this lovely make from our blogger, Louise. What could me more elegant and classy than a black lace skirt? Take a look at how Louise's make went!

  GBSB Lace Challenge


Lace Skirt


Hi there – as we just had ‘difficult fabrics’ week on the Great British Sewing Bee, there has been a lot of lace about. It is (honestly) completely a coincidence that I have made a lace skirt!

I started looking at lace skirts last year and I really liked the way lace was being layered over solid colours. I like the contrast of different textures and patterns and the element of transparency. But I had never sewed with lace so I wasn’t sure how to proceed.

I pinned a few examples for inspiration:

White Tree Fabrics have a huge selection of lace and they supplied all the lace for the Sewing Bee pencil skirt challenge this week. I got a selection of samples and I chose this corded lace. I liked the texture of the corded flowers – for the colour I didn’t think twice, I am with Neil – if it’s lace it has to be black!

The lace I chose has a lot of body and I found that pleating it created too much volume at my waist – for an alternative with more drape that could be pleated or gathered I really like this lace.

For the inner skirt I wanted something quite slinky and I chose this crepe backed satin.

So I was looking for a simple shape without pleats or darts – similar to the black and white skirt above. I went back to my TNT skirt pattern – New Look 6843, which I have now made many times – see here and here. I went for View D which is a flared skirt with no darts.


I cut the skirt twice – in lace and again in crepe backed satin and sewed them as two separate skirts joined at the waistband. The satin had a tendency to fray so I serged around all the edges before sewing it together. The lace is actually quite sturdy and surprisingly solid when you cut it. I went for the very easy option and simply used the overlocker for all the seams – you will see the seams on the right side whatever you do but I think a french seam would have added too much bulk. The serged seam is narrow and holds everything together neatly. I had to adjust the tension slightly but apart from that I had no problems sewing the lace. I sewed a centred zipper into the satin underskirt and then secured the lace overskirt around the zip with handstitching.

For the outer hem I just cut the scalloped border from the edges of the lace and sewed it to the bottom of the overskirt using a narrow zigzag. This was a surprisingly easy solution though I doubt it would win any prizes on the sewing bee. The satin skirt was serged along the edge first and then turned up and machine stitched.


Overall I was surpised how easy this was to sew! I think that the heavier flowers really helped as it gives the stitches plenty to hold onto – much easier than trying to sew onto a more open lace pattern. It’s good to know that lace doesn’t always have to be tricky!

Other White Tree bloggers have also been working with lace recently – I really like Amy’s teal dress and Sam’s pyjamas and t-shirt.

I received the fabric free of charge from White Tree Fabrics as part of their blog network. I provided pattern and notions and my own opinions.

So – who else has sewn with lace and how did you find it?

Bruyère Liberty Shirt

Thursday, 20 November 2014 13:02:34 Europe/London

WhiteTree are proud stockists of Liberty Cotton Lawn fabrics. When we added them to our collection, our bloggers were keen to work with the fabrics. Louise got there first and chose Eliza's D print to work with. She teamed it with a shirt pattern from French company Deer & Doe and the results are fabulous. Take a look and see what you think!

Liberty Shirt

I finally finished my first project for the White Tree Fabrics blog.

A little while ago White Tree began to stock a range of Liberty Tana lawn fabrics and so (of course!) I jumped at the chance to try some out. I chose the Eliza print - there are a ridiculous number of beautiful prints but this one appealed to me because it isn’t a typical floral print. The colours are quite wintery and look hand-drawn – an almost inky blue against grey/brown and white. I hadn’t sewn with Liberty lawn before and it really is lovely to work with. It is lightweight but completely opaque, the colours are incredibly rich and it presses like a dream.

So – what to make? Initially I was planning a Cambie, but autumn crept up really quickly and I wasn’t sure how much I would get to wear a cotton lawn dress before next summer. I wanted something I could wear through autumn and winter  and I decided to try the Deer and Doe Bruyere shirt. There have been a few examples recently that I really liked – Anna at Paunnet sewed up a version in chambray and Katie at the Creative Counselor used double gauze.

Liberty Shirt

Since I was using such lovely fabric I made a muslin first to test the fit. I cut a 40 bodice, grading out to 42 at the waist. This was the same size I used when I made the Belladone dress and matched my size according to the body measurements on the packet. It would have been useful to see finished garment measurements to get an idea of the intended ease, but none are included in the pattern as far as I can see.

My first muslin came up tight at the front of the arm-scye almost cutting into my armpit. When I added the sleeves I found they were tight across the back of my shoulder and I couldn’t reach forward or raise my arms fully.

I spent a long time looking at Fit for Real People and I made a forward shoulder adjustment. It makes sense to me that I would need one as I spend all day hunched over a computer, but I have never found it necessary to try one before. It is possible I haven’t been looking closely enough at the shoulders on previous things I have made though as I know one or two dresses are a little tight at the front of the arm. The forward shoulder adjustment reduced the pressure on my arm at the front but I still couldn’t raise my arms fully or reach forward.

After considering rounded back, broad (and narrow!) shoulders and various other depressing sounding adjustments I simply recut the whole top of the bodice in a 44, grading back to 42 at the waist as before. This worked much better – so clearly its just a surprisingly big shoulders adjustment? I re-did the forward shoulder adjustment and added a small SBA for good measure! I think I could have taken a bit more out on the SBA – Deer and Doe draft for a C cup and I am an A so there is still a little bit of excess fabric at the chest but as it isn’t a fitted top I think it is OK. I also have a bit of gaping at the back of the armscye, below the shoulder. None of these are disastrous though so I was finally ready to cut into the Liberty fabric (not at all stressful!).

Liberty shirt

I really enjoyed this project – there is lots of detail you can get into. I used french seams everywhere except those seams which would be enclosed by the facings – check out my french-seamed sleeve insertion!

Liberty Shirt Liberty Shirt

I was super careful about matching up my darts and pleats and other seamlines. There is a lot of scope for pieces to end up slightly mis-matched as you sew the waistband in three sections onto the bodice then join it all together. Only a very small amount of unpicking was required. This shirt looks as neat on the inside as it does on the outside which was really satisfying.

Liberty Shirt

I did change the pattern piece for the plackets on the sleeve (inspired by Carolyn at Allspice Abounds and her many lovely Archers) – I used the placket pattern from Colette Hawthorn which is a single piece and produces a pointy placket after a lot of magical folding which looked very complicated but was actually not too bad! This was my first attempt at proper plackets – apart from a quick practice run – they are slightly wonky but the print hides this so overall I am pleased I put the effort in and I think it will be more hard wearing.

Overall I am so pleased with how this came out, I love the print enough to overcome my reluctance to wear floral patterns on tops (see my Belcarra!) and although I have been wearing this with jeans I think it will also work with casual skirts as well.

Liberty Shirt

I totally recommend Liberty fabrics – if you like the prints (and I know not everyone does) the fabric is lovely to sew with and it really does look and feel amazing. I am looking forward to choosing another print for a Cambie when Spring comes again!

I received the fabric free of charge from White Tree Fabrics as part of their blog network. I provided pattern and notions and my own opinions. So – anyone else with surprisingly big shoulders and clues on how to fit for them? The more I sew the more I realise I still have to learn….

We think this make is absolutely fabulous and the perfect shirt for colder Autumn days. Louise did a fantastic job on this! If you fancy attempting it yourself, here are some links.

Choose from our selection of Liberty fabrics, some are on offer at £18 per metre. Click here to browse.

You can purchase the sewing pattern here, or choose from our online selections here.

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

Meet our Bloggers - Louise

Tuesday, 12 August 2014 11:35:00 Europe/London

WhiteTree fabrics are delighted to welcome Louise to the WhiteTree blogging team!


Louise is originally from the North of England but has lived in London, Brighton, San Francisco and now Liverpool. She works full time and has two children so sewing is squeezed in around the edges!

Louise learned to sew with her mum who used to make a lot of clothes for Louise and her brother and later, Louise took needlework at school - she has a grade C 'O' level!

When Louise was a student, she used to make a lot of her own clothes but after she started work, she had more money to buy clothes and gradually stopped sewing.

Many years later she came across the world of sewing blogs when Karen of Didyoumakethat was writing for the Guardian. Louise bought a second hand sewing machine, a pattern for a skirt and some fabric and got started. She's learned a lot over the last year and is aiming to make a wardrobe of handmade clothes that she loves!

Louise says; "When I started a year ago I didnt imagine anyone would  actually read my blog so I am really excited to be joining the White Tree blog team!"

You can follow Louise's sewing adventures over at her blog.

Not so Simple

Comments | Posted in WhiteTree Blog Team By Lisa Washington
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