A First Try at Bags

My goodness, it has been over a year since I last blogged a make. I have been sewing in that time, but have taken a break from all forms of blogging. however, this latest project has found me itching to share the ups and downs of trying something new.

I love making dresses but living here in the Highlands there are really only so many dresses a girl can wear so I decided to try something new. Enter the Summit bag, a pattern by Cloudsplitter over on Craftsy.


After purchasing, downloading printing and assembling the pattern it was time to start getting fabric sorted. And my goodness, there was a lot to sort and keep organised. I made the rookie error of labelling everything using one of my pattern marking pens only to discover that it was an air drying pen and all my careful labelling had disappeared overnight.


Once the pieces (I think there’s 31 of them) were cut out it was time to start interfacing, with some pieces requiring two layers. Several evenings were spent with a tepid iron and a chalk pencil. There was also the matter of some foam to attach. This wasn’t a problem in itself, but the foam had a very particular aroma that put me in mind of cat wee and left an unpleasant odour in the house.

Eventually, construction could begin. I had read a couple of the brief Craftsy reviews and they were clear about following the instructions carefully which I dutifully did. It was good advice as I didn’t really have any idea about how the bag was coming together but, piece by piece, it began to resemble the picture on the front of the pattern.



I was amazed that all the pieces fitted together perfectly, despite having to trim a bit here and there to get the perfect fit. Towards the end it was the sewing itself that was difficult just because of the sheer thickness of the layers of fabric and interfacing. I think I misunderstood which pieces needed to two layers of interfacing because of my lack of experience as a bag maker. I’m keen to try the pattern again but with less interfacing in some areas. Hopefully this will make the construction more enjoyable and less painful (I managed to sew three of my fingers in the machine!). I also thing that using my walking foot could be beneficial.


I am really pleased with the result and love using the bag already. Not only that, but I am excited about using the pattern again and developing my skills now that I better understand the construction. I have to congratulate Sydney at Cloudsplitter on her clear and precise instructions – I definitely couldn’t have done it without them.



The Finished Dress


At last it’s finished!

And what a pleasure and a learning experience this dress has been to make. For those new to this blog, this is a Vogue 8648 pattern and I have been making it alongside the teaching video ‘The Couture Dress’ with Susan Khalje on Craftsy.com.

And I’m sooo pleased with it. I got a bit panicky that it either wouldn’t fit or that it was the wrong shape for me, but its an absolute pleasure to put on. In fact I keep nipping upstairs to try it! The fact that it it made to fit ME means that, although I’m not your off the shelf fit, I feel like a million dollars in it. Even though its a fitted dress I feel as though it is flattering in a way that some other dresses made to hide the lump and bumps aren’t


What I learnt during this project:

  • Using the stitching line to mark fabric is a more precise method of sizing.
  • How to use carbon paper and a pattern marking wheel.
  • What some of the lines on a paper pattern mean
  • That creating a muslin is not a waste of time, but an integral part of the process if you want the dress to fit
  • That fabric can be very forgiving as you work with it
  • Hand sewing and finishing is better than machine stitches for a quality finish
  • There’s nothing as nice to wear as a lined dress
  • to be patient in order to get the result you want
  • To pattern match in fabrics


Things to improve next time:

  • Baste, baste, baste
  • Be even more careful when pattern matching (there’s a couple of places where the pattern is not exactly matched. Although I don’t think its particularly noticeable, I know its there)
  • Take more care during the muslin fitting (I had to make some adjustments to the finished dress then transfer those changes onto the muslin in retrospect)

It’s my father-in-law’s 80th birthday next weekend. I think I’ve got just the frock for the occasion!



Learning Lining

After three evenings of sewing, the lining in my dress is almost complete. I’ve never lined a dress before and thought it was beyond me, but with Susan’s advice in the Craftsy Couture Dress Class, it went like a breeze!

Having not quite followed the class to the latter with regards to the interlining (I haven’t got one) I made more of an effort here. I made my lining the three separate parts and completed each so that I could enjoy seeing the finished dress come to life as I worked.

I discovered a new love of and stitching as a pick stitched the edges and basted my skirt and top linings into place. I managed not to do my usual and rush it through, with great results. I particularly love the neck and arm edges now – in fact I think I am a convert from facing.

I’ve also tried the dress on ready for hemming. I was worried it might not fit as I have gained a few holiday pounds, but it looks lovely (and will look even better when the pounds are shed!)
Next to complete the hemming then I’ll share my finished Couture dress with you.

Construction begins

Over the past few days I have been constructing my Vogue 8648 dress. I was a little bit renegade and rushed ahead of the Craftsy lesson as I was eager to have a go at pattern matching. I sewed the dress together in one evening and was pretty pleased with the results.

This was my first try at matching a pattern across seams and, although it’s not perfect, I was very impressed by my first attempt. The hints and tips in the Craftsy lesson certainly helped.
I then couldn’t help myself – I sewed in the zip. Again, I’m pretty pleased with the way the fabric lined up but I was disappointed that it wasn’t perfect.

I then left the dress for a couple of days unsure of where to go. I picked it up again this afternoon determined to improve the fit. It looks great on the dress form, but there was some bagging around the back on me. I had thought of ignoring it, bit the whole purpose of this dress is to learn new skills and practise them, so I took the bull by the horns as they say. I wondered if I needed to reduce the size of the midriff (I am quite short) but this didn’t seem to be the problem. I decided to take some from the back side sections. In true couture learning style, this time I pinned it and tried it on before re pinning, being sure that I was happy with my alteration before committing to the sewing machine.
And it worked. I now have the makings of a beautiful dress.


I’m away for the next couple of weeks, but will spend time pondering the sleeves ready to tackle them on my return.

Weekend Workshop

It’s been a fairly busy weekend. Mum came over for a potter around town yesterday and today we went to visit the new puppy we are getting, but in between those times I have been working on my Vogue dress.

Following the instructions from the Craftsy tutorial, this weekend I cut out my calico, marked it with my pattern and stitched the seam lines. I have dipped my toe into the water of joining the pieces, but the rest of that will have to wait.

This is the first time I have made a muslin in the traditional sense and I have to say I’m loving it. I thought I was too impatient for all the faff of making a muslin but I am really enjoying the freedom that comes from cutting the fabric roughly, the quick marking of the pattern lines and the sense that I’m moving towards something on a whole new level of perfection.

Very enjoyable.


Decadent Pinning

I was limited to time today as sorting out driving insurance for my newly passed son was top of my list. However, I did manage to pin my marked pattern pieces to my calico to make my muslin. I took heed from the Craftsy class and measured from the grain line to ensure that the pieces were correctly placed. I have also allowed plenty of allowances around the edge. Despite being a size 20 in this Vogue pattern (!!!!) the pieces still look a bit on the small side now that I’ve marked the seam lines.
I can’t wait to get cutting and transferring the pattern makings onto the fabric. I am really enjoying this process.



Craftsy Couture

There’s been a bit of a lull on the sewing front of late. This is primarily due to trying to fit an awful lot of work into the last few weeks of term. But do not be fooled! Although the sewing machine has remained quiet I have been developing my skills in other ways.

A few months or weeks ago, I can’t actually remember, I bought my first Craftsy lesson. It wasn’t the first Craftsy lesson I had subscribed to, but it was the first one I had actually parted with money for. I bought it on a whim while it was in a sale and, as it came with an actual real-life pattern, it was similar in cost to nipping to the shop. The lesson I bought was The Couture Dress with Susan Khalje. The link here will take you to the classes page, but if I try to find the actual class, it takes me to my own page and resumes the lessons where I left off.

Sure enough, not too long after a Vogue 8648 pattern found its way through the letter box. I marked as the Craftsy pattern and there it stayed, until today!

About a week ago I started watching the said lesson. What a revelation. I was hooked from the start. Susan Khalje, who teaches the lesson is incredibly engaging and a vast wealth of knowledge when it comes to making bespoke, made to measure garments. Her asides are fascinating in themselves, but the actual content is brilliant to watch.

So last week I found myself behaving like an addict – sneaking upstairs to see the next useful snippet. Over the week I watched closely as Susan cut and marked her pattern, transferred that onto the muslin, stitched the garment together then made adjustments on her model. Feeling inspired I rushed out and bought some calico and, back in the sewing room tonight, took my first steps towards couture sewing.

But don’t expect to hear the buzz of a sewing machine anytime soon. Today I cut out the pattern pieces and marked them ready. The dining room table is now covered in small red marks where my permanent marker made it through the pattern paper, but I don’t care! My next step will be to prepare my muslin fabric, but that can wait. I don’t want to rich and make silly mistakes. Wish me luck!



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