Monday, 22 August 2016

Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt & Charcoal Renfrew Tee

This little outfit has been another favourite in my wardrobe this summer. But frustratingly one of those that it is incredibly difficult to get decent pictures of that reflect how much you love it in reality. Ah well. You'll just have to take my word for some of it! One of my favourite pieces of fabric I brought home from my trip to the West Coast of the US last year was this amazing piece of mustard rayon from The Fabric Store. I've gushed about my love for this shop previously as I was so delighted with the carefully curated selection of dressmaking fabrics on offer. I really was spoilt for choice. I love wearing garments made with rayon and there were some beautiful prints so my instant draw to this solid mustard took me by surprise. It was such a great vivid shade with a touch of lime to it and top quality rayon too.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt and Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

It's taken me nigh on a year to get around to turning it into something wearable. Purely because it is one of those pieces that I knew I'd never get my hands on again and I didn't want to waste it on the wrong thing. I'd bought 1.5 yards as I had a feeling I wouldn't want to make a full dress out of it as it can be a tricky colour to wear, particularly next to the face with my colouring. Separates were the way to go. The solution hit my slap in the face when I spotted a girl walking down a road near my flat  looking absolutely amazing in a floaty pair of midi length mustard culottes. Rayon is made for summer wear and that was the perfect way to wear mustard in summer. I didn't have enough fabric to go with a super wide pair of culottes so opted to imitate the look with a simple skirt instead.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt and Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

As it was such a simple shape I decided to get creative and draft it myself. I wanted the skirt full enough for the fabric to billow in the breeze but not so full that it became impractical to handle. I opted to go with a rectangle for the front and a rectangle for the back with the fullness coming from pleats into the waistband. I'm not a fan of gathers around my waist and liked the idea of how wide pleats would look.

To establish the width of each rectangular piece I measured my waist, divided that by two and added on 3cm for seam allowance (1.5cm at each side). Then I worked out how many pleats I wanted and how deep they should be and added twice the depth of each pleat times the number of pleats. You need to add twice the depth as the fabric folds back on itself within each pleat. A really easy way to do it without too much maths is to slash and spread your skirt pattern piece at each pleat position by twice the depth of the pleat. I cut the length of the skirt as long as my yardage would allow and adjusted the length to suit once it was sewn up.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt

I inserted an invisible zip into the side seam to keep the look sleek. Finding a zip to match this unique shape proved an impossible task! I quite like the little touch of neon but maybe I should try the trick of colouring my zip pull with nail varnish! I'm a fan of a fairly narrow waistband and used the By Hand London Holly Trousers pattern piece as a guideline for the size as I really like how that one sits. As the rayon is really delicate and prone to distortion I interfaced the waistband with a fairly sturdy fusible.

Rayon is notoriously shifty and this was one of the trickiest I have tried to cut. Getting nice crisp rectangles was a challenge. It does press amazingly well though so those pleats really hold their crease despite being a little tricky to iron in evenly. It comes out of the washing machine looking like a totally different fabric to after a good press! I wash my rayons on a 30 degree delicate cycle in the machine by the way. The only unfortunate thing about the fabric is that it does wrinkle quite badly and quickly. By the time I've done the morning commute it's looking pretty rumpled. It does look quite lovely like that in the way that linen does but sometimes I do wish it could look as chic and put together as it does when I put it on first thing in the morning.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt and Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

I wasn't a fan of the midi length when it first came on trend and really didn't think I could pull it off with my petite proportions but now I can't stop wearing it! I think it's all about getting the hem length to hit at just the right point, getting the volume of the skirt right for your fabric choice. I'm so glad I went with a simple garment. I think when working with a special piece of fabric I sometimes have the tendency to overthink a project and try and make something spectacular, particularly when it's a solid colour. Really there's no need. A simple design lets the fabric speak for itself and that's certainly what this does. It really shows off the beautiful drape and flow of this rayon to it's full potential.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt and Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

I had a couple of tops in my wardrobe to work with the skirt but decided I really needed a classic slim fitting tee to wear with it. Something which my wardrobe could still do with a few more of. I turned to the trusty Sewaholic Renfrew Top pattern as I've had great success with it in the past. It was really satisfying to return to a pattern I used quite a long time ago as it really showed me how much my sewing has come on. I had this one whipped up in a matter of a couple of hours and I think my finishing is the best yet!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt and Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

I had just (and when I say just I mean JUST!) about enough fabric left over from my Turtleneck Top to squeeze this t-shirt out. It's a Heather Grey Cotton Spandex from Girl Charlee and is the perfect match for this pattern. I'm definitely going to be making more t-shirts out of this type of knit. It's a great weight with good recovery and has been washing up a dream. The high cotton content means it presses beautifully so getting that neckband eased in and sitting flat was super easy.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

I opted for the round neck and used a slightly larger seam allowance than instructed on the neckband as I like it to be really skinny. I then twin needled around to help everything sit flat. All the seams were sewn with a narrow zig zag on my machine then finished on the overlocker as usual for me. I made sure to stabilise the shoulder seams with twill tape. This takes no time at all and will make a big difference to the longevity of the garment. I omitted the hem and cuff bands as I prefer the simple clean look of a simply turned and twin needled them. I also think this makes the t-shirt a better length for me. I'm pretty petite so don't need the extra length the bands give.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt and Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

I basically decided to make the top when I saw how great the shade of grey marl looked against the mustard. It was a real whim and I wasn't sure how it would turn out but it's been worn so much already! This is definitely down to the fit. It feels snug but doesn't cling to the body at all. I'm still getting to grips with the effect different knits can have on a pattern and making up more of these tees might be a great way to experiment. The fabric choice makes such a difference when comparing this to my other favourite Renfrew (the navy and white striped version from this post) which is a much more slinky jersey with a bit of viscose in it. It doesn't hug the body in the same way despite being exactly the same size and finished in exactly the same way.

Overall two hugely successful additions to my wardrobe. Let the sunshine continue please!
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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Navy Sallie Romper (and giveaway winner!)

The garment I'm sharing with you today is probably the most successful of this summer's handmade wardrobe despite me having various doubts about how much wear I'd get out of it the whole way through making it. In what appears to be quite a common occurrence for me at the moment I've had the Sallie Jumpsuit pattern from Closet Case Files for quite some time; I think possibly since it's release! Shortly after the release Heather Lou posted a fantastic hack for turning the jumpsuit variation into a shorter romper style and I was hooked. I loved how it looked but had concerns about how much wear this would see in London. Even during our couple of weeks of proper summer heat I was worried about how exposed I might feel trotting around the city. My recent trip to the South of France was just the push I needed to finally make it and I'm very happy to report that the amount of wear it has seen has proved all doubts unfounded!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Files Sallie Romper in John Kaldor Ritual Jersey from Sew Essential

The other thing which pushed me into finally getting around to making this was the lovely team at Sew Essential getting in touch to see if I'd like to try out one of their fabrics just as I was weighing up whether my summer wardrobe needed a romper. Their site has an absolutely huge range of all things sewing right from all your bits and pieces of haberdashery through to sewing machines themselves! The selection of dressmaking fabrics covers all bases. I wanted my choice to be chic and simple but didn't necessarily want black for such a playful type of garment. Instead I went a little nautical with a classic navy. It seemed a shame to pick something so plain when there's such a lovely variety of prints but I knew if I was stepping outside of my style comfort zone going bold with a print was going to be a step too far!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Files Sallie Romper in John Kaldor Ritual Jersey from Sew Essential

I'm no knit expert and while I knew in my head the qualities I wanted in the fabric for this garment, relating that to the descriptions of the different knit weights on a website I find hard. Luckily the descriptions on Sew Essential are thorough, including fabric content, direction of stretch, weight and care instructions so I was able to whittle my choice down. The majority of knits on the site are John Kaldor so I had no doubt as to the quality but was still concerned about ending up with something too lightweight or sheer when stretched. I was torn between the Roanne viscose jersey and Ritual soft jersey and turned to the team for some advice. Lucy was really helpful and offered to send me some samples, also to help me make up my mind about the colour! I was really pleased when the samples arrived as they were nice and big so I could properly test the stretch and drape. I surprised myself by going for the Ritual as I had thought the thicker the better but I couldn't resist the silky smooth finish of Ritual which has proven so lovely to wear. I was keen to get something that wasn't too fine; partly because I wanted it to be completely opaque but also because I wanted the romper to have a nice shape and not look too limp or clingy. The bodice is self lined so that does give a bit of body and support but I'm glad I didn't go any thinner for the sake of those shorts. I could not be happier with my choice.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Kaldor Jerseys from Sew Essential

I had 1.75m of the fabric and pretty much used the whole lot cutting the size 8, including using my fashion fabric for lining the bodice pieces. Even if you want to use a print for your jumpsuit I'd highly recommend using the Ritual jersey for the bodice lining as it holds such great shape and feels so nice against the skin! I think the sizing is spot on with just the right amount of ease/negative ease. I feel really great in it; it's not hiding my figure in an unflattering 'I'm just wearing my pyjamas out' kind of way but it's not clinging or exposing too much flesh either. I love the neckline with the deep v at the front and back. It's subtly sexy. I did think that pulling those skinny little ties through to the right side would be a bit of a painstaking task but it was actually fine. I simply tied a knot in each end to finish them off.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Files Sallie Romper in John Kaldor Ritual Jersey from Sew Essential

The hack is super straightforward and requires just a few adjustments the the trouser pattern pieces; namely cutting them off to short length, adding width at the new hem and lowering the crotch curve a little as you don't have the weight of the trouser pulling it down. All super speedy and well explained in the tutorial. I cut my shorts to the length of Heather Lou's version (4.5" below the start of the crotch curve). This is just about spot on for me but I'm pretty short and would want any shorter. My favourite thing about it is that the limited changes mean you can still include the pockets! It might just be the ultimate no nonsense practical outfit in one.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Files Sallie Romper in John Kaldor Ritual Jersey from Sew Essential

It was amazing in France for throwing on over swimwear to head to the beach, then felt pulled together enough to head straight out for lunch and still comfortable enough to explore the town in in 35 degree heat. The following week I spent some time at Center Parcs with my family (a holiday park in the forest with all kinds of activities for those of you not in the UK) and it proved itself to be an invaluable part of my wardrobe yet again. I wore it to be comfortable during the car journey there, to play badminton in and to wear over swimwear to the pool and spa. It held up beautifully no matter what I needed. All of that says as much for the quality of the fabric as it does for the design of the pattern itself. It's washed up so well and the recovery is fantastic. It held it's shape despite being filled with sand, thrown on over a wet bikini and run around in and not once did I feel sloppy or underdressed in it.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Files Sallie Romper in John Kaldor Ritual Jersey from Sew Essential

I employed my usual methods for knits; sewing all the seams with a narrow zig zag stitch on my machine and finishing everything on my overlocker for a professional look. It's worthwhile mentioning at this point that the instructions that come with the pattern are packed with tips for making a well finished and long lasting garment and so when instructed to use a straight stitch or wide zig zag stitch I most certainly did so! The neckline and pocket openings are reinforced with clear elastic and under-stitched. I cannot emphasise enough how important this is if you want your jumpsuit to keep it's shape. No droopy necklines and saggy pockets around here!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Files Sallie Romper in John Kaldor Ritual Jersey from Sew Essential

The construction process wasn't without it's issues. There were many moments of confusion and the quick unpick was in use a fair few times. But I do have to hold my hands up and admit that this was all to do with my still fairly limited experience working with knits and simply trying out a new construction process for the first time and not being familiar with the most effective techniques to achieve a beautiful finish. I'm a bit of a perfectionist with my sewing nowadays and this is probably the most complex knit garment I have made to date.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Files Sallie Romper in John Kaldor Ritual Jersey from Sew Essential

One thing to bear in mind is that you should make a careful thread choice as there is a row of stitching above the waistline which shows on the right side. It's the top line of stitching of the channel for your waist elastic. my thread was slightly paler than the dark navy fabric and it bugs me a little bit because I know it doesn't quite match but you can't notice it at all when on! While we're on the subject I really like the recommended thickness of elastic used around the waist. I'm not normally a fan of an elasticated waist as they never seem to sit right on me but this nice thick bit of elastic holds nicely.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Files Sallie Romper in John Kaldor Ritual Jersey from Sew Essential

I think the fact that I don't have any wider leg trousers in my wardrobe and was therefore unsure of how the style would look on me is what held me back from making it sooner. It's safe to say that making this little beauty has alleviated all my fears about trying the full length style, plus the maxi dress and other bodice variation too! I am so delighted with the fit and design of this portion that I can't wait to get sewing. If I had endless pots of cash and a lifestyle which required daily glamour I'd definitely be making a full length jumpsuit in black silk jersey. Can you IMAGINE.


And rounding up this post with some good news for one of you, I've got the winner of my giveaway for a copy of the Rosie Dress pattern from Sew Over It. Picked by random number generator out of a whopping 85 entries the winning comment is number 75 and the lucky recipient is Rhonna Jerauld! Thank you for reading Rhonna and I hope you enjoy the chance to try out boning with this dress. I'll send you an email shortly to get your postal details and the pattern will be on its way soon.
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Monday, 8 August 2016

Pattern Testing: The Rosie Dress from Sew Over It (and a giveaway!)

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tropical Palm Print Sew Over It Rosie Dress

Summer always has me wanting to sew dresses in their hundreds but my wardrobe is well stocked with them so I've been trying to focus my sewing on separates and more practical items this year. However, a little while ago Sew Over It got in touch to see if I'd like to test their recently released Rosie Dress and I cracked! The main reason for this being that the pattern is based on a 1950s style dress they used to run a class for. It was a good few years ago when this class launched but I remember being so smitten with the design that I wrote to Lisa to ask if there was any chance the dress would be released as a pattern in it's own right. The answer then was possibly in the future and now that time has rolled around I could hardly say no could I?!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tropical Palm Print Sew Over It Rosie Dress

The dress has some really lovely features and options. There are three variations; one skirt and two dresses with wide or skinny straps and an optional collar. As my fabric choice was quite busy I kept it simple with the skinny straps and no collar. I've tested for Sew Over It a number of times and made up a couple of other patterns too. Their testing process is really through and they are always very responsive to any comments their testers have, I've seen a number of changes based on my feedback which is why I'm happy to test for them again.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tropical Palm Print Sew Over It Rosie Dress

I've previously got on really well with their drafting and this one is no exception. The shape of the princess seamed bodice is to die for. I really love the shape of that neckline and where it sits, there is something distinctively 1950s about it. I cut the size 10 following my their measurement chart and the fit is bang on sewn straight up, even the bodice length. I'm pretty lucky with their patterns! As I'm 5ft 3" the skirt is longer than intended on me. Usually I'm not one for a midi length and I'll cut a good bit off but for some reason I absolutely love it in this style. I thought I would feel kind of overwhelmed with fabric with such a full long skirt but it's the opposite! That skirt is a bit of a fabric eater but I tend to wing it a bit with cutting layouts and got mine out of 2.5m of 150cm wide fabric.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tropical Palm Print Sew Over It Rosie Dress

Sew Over It supplied me with my choice of fabric from their online store and I chose this tropical palm tree print cotton which is unfortunately no longer available. I liked that whilst it was a summery print the colours were quite muted so it wasn't too bold. I was, I will admit, a bit disappointed with the fabric when it first arrived. Whilst it's a good weight it's got a kind of coated feel to it which wasn't highlighted in the listing and whilst a wash softened it a little it was still pretty crisp with an unusual hand. As it was a test I ploughed ahead anyway and I'm delighted that I did as that stiff hand has a taffeta like quality to it which gives the skirt beautiful volume and shape. I'm usually a bit wary of a gathered skirt as I find adding bulk around my waist isn't the most flattering look for me. This skirt has a clever inverted box pleat at the centre front though so it keeps it flat across the troublesome tummy area. I'm also not really a fan of the process of gathering but I'm really pleased with how evenly I managed to get my gathers distributed around the waist. I adore how full this skirt is. A nice deep 2cm hem is recommended which is what I used, giving it even more body.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tropical Palm Print Sew Over It Rosie Dress

The shape of the bodice is aided by lightweight plastic boning. The method for inserting this is really straightforward and secure but differs to how I've been taught to insert boning before so it was a really interesting process for me. You cut small squares of your fabric and fold them over the ends of your boning pieces. Then you sew through the fabric and the boning itself to attach the boning along the seam lines of your lining. I was a bit apprehensive about the boning only being attached at either end rather then being secured in a channel but it works really well. I found it easiest to press my little scraps in half before folding them over the boning and then sewed along both the top and bottom edge to keep it secure. The recommended fabrics for the pattern are cottons and linens which should be nice and sturdy for covering the ends of your boning but if you veer away from that and use something more delicate as your fashion fabric the sharp end of the boning might tear through. You could use a tougher fabric or alternatively melt the ends the boning just a little to give it a softer edge.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tropical Palm Print Sew Over It Rosie Dress

As it was a test and I had plenty of fabric I opted to self line the bodice. The slightly strange fabric actually feels quite nice against the skin. You get a lovely clean finish with under stitching the top edge of the bodice and a bit of hand sewing. It was one of those super straightforward sews where everything matches up like it's supposed to. I did have a little list of feedback but it was really minor stuff and illustrations and wording of instructions have since been changed to clarify any confusing parts.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tropical Palm Print Sew Over It Rosie Dress

I adore the super skinny straps, there's something really elegant about them but they did take some time to turn through You definitely need to aggressively trim those seam allowances and use a loop turner! The strap position is marked on the pattern based on tester feedback but obviously everyone is a slightly different shape and if you want the wider straps to cover a bra strap you  definitely need to baste and try these out before you attach your lining. I positioned mine between the notches for the wide straps where they were marked on the test version.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tropical Palm Print Sew Over It Rosie Dress

And now on to the good news for you guys! In return for testing I received the fabric for my dress and a copy of the finished pattern...and the ladies at Sew Over It have ever so generously supplied me with a second copy to give away to my lovely readers. All you need to do to enter is follow my blog (by any method you prefer, Bloglovin'Feedly, email subscription in the sidebar) and leave a comment below. I'd love to know your initial thoughts on fabric choices if you were the lucky winner but that's not essential, juts me being nosey! Please make sure your email address is clearly visible in your profile or comment as I will contact the winner that way to get your address. The giveaway is open internationally and will close on Sunday 14th August at midnight GMT. Good luck!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Tropical Palm Print Sew Over It Rosie Dress

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Rayon Deep V Tunic from No Patterns Needed

I'm super excited to show you something a little bit different and out of my comfort zone today. I'm not usually one for joining in with a book tour but when Laurence King Publishing got in touch a couple of weeks ago I'd already had my eye on No Patterns Needed (the new book from Rosie at DIY Couture) so said yes please! I love the concept of making clothing out of simple shapes without a traditional pattern and thought it was a great way to encourage both newbies to try making their own clothes and also experienced seamstresses to try and different method. I can see this book exciting a lot of my as yet non-sewing friends to try as it's a bit more free and creative and probably less daunting than using a pattern for the first time. Although it was a little daunting for me who is used to the comfort of starting with a pattern!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Deep V Tunic from No Patterns Needed in Squiggle Rayon from The Fabric Store

After some introductory info the book dives straight into the designs divided into three sections; rectangles, circles and triangles. The garments in the rectangle and circle sections are all made from those shapes but the triangle section plays around with the concept a little more using triangular pieces but also other shapes to create triangular negative space. The Deep V Tunic jumped out at me as the one I wanted to make and is one of the negative space projects as it is constructed from rectangles of various sizes. 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Deep V Tunic from No Patterns Needed in Squiggle Rayon from The Fabric Store

I was a little apprehensive of how much I'd enjoy such a different method as I actually really like the accuracy and control of working with a pattern and wondered if it would feel a little slap dash. However I found the whole process fantastically freeing and was delighted with how well it fit just by using the simple maths calculations at the start of the project to determine the size of my shapes. This is just the right amount of 'relaxed' I like in my fit! I'm really keen now to try the next project in the book, the Triple Triangle Dress. It's much more fitted and I'm intrigued to see how easy it is to get a good fit using the maths.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Deep V Tunic from No Patterns Needed in Squiggle Rayon from The Fabric Store

There are good number of pages of instructions for each design (this one had eight) packed with very clear illustrations. There's no skimping on page space. I think that's what I really loved about it; the instructions are thorough and full of construction tips so you feel that you are making something really well with a neat and professional finish, yet because you just have shapes in front of you you feel liberated to experiment and 'personalise' the garment. There is so much room for making it your own within this design in particular. The placket width you decide on yourself as well as the size of the sleeve caps which I actually opted to leave off entirely when I tried the garment on. There are two other samples photographed on different models at the end of each project which really show you how different you can make the garment look with some simple changes and different fabric choices. That's a great touch.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Deep V Tunic from No Patterns Needed in Squiggle Rayon from The Fabric Store

My fabric is from a selection that The Fabric Store ever so kindly sent me when they launched their international shipping a few months back. This is the first piece I've used as I've had a major attack of 'it's all so beautiful I don't want to waste it on the wrong pattern!'  They've got some seriously gorgeous stuff and my eyes lit up when I spotted their post about shipping to the UK as I was blown away by their stock when I visited their LA store last year. They are one of a very few places to stock an AMAZING range of merino wools along with Liberty Prints, and other on trend prints on cottons, silks and rayons. I'll go into more detail about them on another post when I haven't got quite so much to say about the construction process but all you need to know for now is that there's currently a 20% off store wide sale using the code 20%SALETFS until Sunday! Shipping is $40 unless you spend over $150 when it's free.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Deep V Tunic from No Patterns Needed in Squiggle Rayon from The Fabric Store

I've got a bit of a rayon addiction so of course I picked a couple of their rayon prints. This one was love at first sight and it's a beauty to wear against the skin. It's washed up beautifully, presses like a dream and sewed up smoothly with a microtex needle. The only tricky thing about it is how shifty it is to cut. When you're cutting rectangles you can really see if something has slid off grain as that straight edge will be mighty misshapen! As you are drawing your shapes directly onto the fabric I probably wouldn't recommend such a delicate, slippery fabric for your first attempt at this method but I was dead set on this print being the perfect match for the design. I almost chickened out and opted to draw my shapes onto paper first but it was worth the patience in the end as I am so happy with the finished top. I'm going to wear it to death.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Deep V Tunic from No Patterns Needed in Squiggle Rayon from The Fabric Store

The only thing I would say is that it's really hard to work out in advance how much fabric you are going to need as you are drawing those shapes straight onto the fabric and working out the size of them as you go. You don't need any special tools or equipment to make up these garments but I would recommend having a selection of decent marking tools as there is a lot of drawing sewing and cutting lines directly onto the fabric. I didn't have a metre rule and managed just fine but it would be handy.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Deep V Tunic from No Patterns Needed in Squiggle Rayon from The Fabric Store

I'm not quite sure what I'm doing here...I think attempting to show you the shape and volume of it but it's amusing anyway.

Part of the fit comes from looking at garments you already own and love to assess sizes. I used my favourite Sutton Blouse to check the width of the waist and hips, my Alder Shirtdress to mark the depth of the armhole and a Zara top I love to decide on the size of the neckline. I would recommend trying assembled parts on the body whenever possible throughout the process as your fabric choice will really affect how things sit. My rayon is lightweight with a beautiful drape but if I was using something with more body I'd want less ease around the waist. I would also recommend cutting your shapes bigger if you are unsure as it's easy to cut away areas during the process. I wanted a blouse length rather than a tunic and was concerned about quantity of fabric but I do slightly wish I'd left a bit more length on those body pieces.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Deep V Tunic from No Patterns Needed in Squiggle Rayon from The Fabric Store

Trying on parts throughout was what made me realise I'd made one stupid error which was entirely my own fault. I was too keen and ploughed right on in there thinking I knew how to take my own body measurements and then when I put my placket pieces over my shoulders to check the size I realised they were way too long and that deep v was looking pretty deep! Looking back at the book I saw that there was a lovely clear section at the start about how to take all the body measurements you need. The nape to belly button measurement that determines the length of your placket is actually taken from the base of the neck where your shoulder seam would hit rather than the top of your spine. In my costume life the nape is always at the back of the neck where that bone slightly protrudes at the top of your spine so I had measured from there, over the shoulder and down to the belly button. Giving me a measurement a few inches too long. Luckily the beauty of this flexible construction process meant I could just play around and close the v a bit keeping the length to make a long bib feature which I liked. I did find I needed to put a stitch in at the point of the v to keep it closed.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Deep V Tunic from No Patterns Needed in Squiggle Rayon from The Fabric Store

As for the book itself I love the styling, graphics and lay out of it. It's not your usual sewing book at all. The design of both the book and garments themselves are really fresh and modern; I can really see Rosie's personality in it. It's really clear throughout with each project starting with a page of all the important information; line drawing, pieces to cut, materials needed, tips on fabric choice and how that will affect the design and best of all a space to do your maths using your body measurements to work out the size of your shapes. 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Deep V Tunic from No Patterns Needed in Squiggle Rayon from The Fabric Store

Flicking through the book it's truly amazing that you can make up such interesting styles from just basic shapes. My favourite part is that it's so easy to tweak once you've got your pieces cut. It really encourages playing with fabric. Mine is more of a top than a tunic and has less of a deep v than intended but it's definitely 100% me!

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