Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


#1year1outfit – The Hacking Jacket Part 5 (aka The Final Post)

There are only so many progress posts that any one garment can justifiably warrant and this is my final progress report on the “Hacking Jacket” for my #1year1outfit.


The original jacket pattern (New Look 6035) was an unlined garment, but since I’ve been following Steffani Lincecum’s excellent Craftsy course on tailoring I decided to add a lining made from shibori-dyed silk (see my previous post). I followed Steffani’s instructions much more for these final stages in the construction as I was very much moving away from the original pattern at this point.

To cut my lining pieces, I basically discarded the Back facing from the original pattern and cut the Side back and Side Front pieces as they are in the pattern. I used the Front facing, as it is, cut in the hemp, rather than the lining fabric. I realise that quite often in a lined jacket, that the front facing might be smaller than in an unlined jacket, but I didn’t feel like drafting an extra lining piece and stuck with the front facing as it is. For the Back piece I added an extra 3 cm at the centre back. The reason for this is to add extra ease in the lining. It sounds counter-intuitive to have a lining that is actually larger than the jacket, but Steffani explains that this is really essential. The outer jacket has a different “hand” with a slight stretch whereas the lining, which is a woven silk, has no give at all. To make sure that there is no distortion and the jacket hangs well with no pulling, it is necessary to make the lining bigger.

After cutting the lining out, this was sewn together. I used Steffani’s hand-stitching technique at the facing. This keeps the lining from shifting around too much at the facing and it looks beautiful. I do like these extra technique’s that Steffani puts in the course. They make the garment look extra special.


Once, I’d attached the lining to the jacket, the jacket was then turned the right way round. This is definitely the moment when you start the see what the finished jacket will look like.  To ensure that there is the correct “turn of the cloth”, Steffani recommends tacking the lapels and collar to hold them in place before you press the jacket. When pressed, the seam line should not be visible from the front of the jacket. This means that on the collar and lapels the seam line is underneath, but as you travel down the edge of the lapel and get to the button area, the seam line should then tuck around to the other side so that it isn’t visible from the front of the jacket. I had never considered this when making a jacket and it makes it look so professional.


There was one step where I really went my own way with the construction. For the back of the button-hole, I felt that my hemp fabric was too prone to fraying to be able to use the technique in the Craftsy video. The video suggests that a button-hole size hole is made and the fabric just rolled under and slip-stitched in place. I decided to sew an extra piece of fabric, as you would for the button-hole in the front of the jacket and then fold this to the inside through the hole and secure it in place with hand-stitching. This made me feel happier about the robustness of my button-hole. I found that this technique is more or less described in this tutorial on the Colette website.


Just a few more jobs to complete my jacket, finishing the jacket hem, sewing in the sleeve linings and adding the button and hey presto, finally my jacket is complete!


I’m a little unsure about the placing of the button on the garment. I checked the pattern and I have placed it correctly. Looking at the front of the pattern envelope I can see that the button is placed at approximately waist height.


I think I would have preferred the button a little higher, or maybe even two buttons on the jacket? It would have made the finished jacket more cosy and less open. I suppose though that the original jacket is supposed to be a more summery garment, so I can’t really blame the pattern for this.


Overall, I’m proud that I sewed this. It has taken me a long time to complete and I’ve learned many new techniques and taken my sewing to a whole new level with this jacket.



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Silk skirt hem

I did think that this would be a dull post, but I mentioned the hem on my silk skirt earlier, so for completeness I thought I’d let you know how I overcame the problem I had with the hem.

When I’d finished my “bronze” skirt, I was happy with it, apart from an unsightly puckered hem. Fortunately, the web has the answer to everything! It seems that my puckered hem is the result of some discrepancy between the “give” in the fabric and that of the thread or stitch in the hem.

I decided to try hemming using a catch stitch. It has a little more stretch. I also knotted the thread every few stitches without pulling it tight, so there was still some slack. This is such a good idea for a hem anyway. There is nothing worse that catching the hem of a skirt with your heel and the whole thing comes down.

Skirt hem (inside)

It was rather time-consuming, but in the end it was worth it and the puckering is no more! I can’t even see evidence of a hem from the right side. I couldn’t believe such a simple change in technique could make such a difference.

Skirt hem (outside)

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February Quick Make – Fabric covered belt

I decided to make a belt for my silk skirt as a finishing touch. I did look at a few tutorials online for making fabric belts. These suggested using “belting”. I looked in all my usual craft shops and then hunted on the web and found nothing for sale in the UK. In the end, the lady who kindly served me in Fabric Land suggested that I try using Petersham’s tape. It has just the right thickness and flexibility.

Belt - finished

You will need:

Petersham’s tape
Fabric that matches your dress or skirt
Paper for making belt pattern
Measuring tape
Loop turner

  1. Wearing your skirt or dress you wish to match the belt for, measure your waist (in my case, 85 cm) or the place where the belt will be worn.
  2. Add several extra centimetres to allow for the belt to pass through the buckle and be held in place by the belt loops. I allowed an extra 20 cms for this in my design.
  3. Cut a length of the Petersham’s tape to the length calculated in the previous step.
  4. Measure the width of the Petershams tape. (Mine was 2.5 cm)
  5. To create the pattern for the belt, draw the length of the belt and add 3 centimetres to that. Total length for pattern =108 cm. For the width, double the width of the Petershams tape (5.0 cm) and add a seam allowance (4 cm). Total width for pattern= 9 cm
  6. Cut out the fabric using the pattern piece created above.
  7. Fold the fabric in half and sew down the length of it, making sure that the seam is made to accommodate the width of tape (i.e. 2.5 cm)Belt close up
  8. Trim and press the seam allowance flat. Make sure the seam is in the middle of the belt.
  9. Sew a straight line along one edge. Trim the seam allowance.
  10. Pull to the right side using the loop turner
  11. Insert the tape. Make sure the seam is centre on the back of the belt. This takes a while!
  12. Sew up the end of the belt so it’s tidy.
  13. Iron the belting, making sure the seam is in the middle.
  14. Next, it’s time to add the buckle. Fold the end of the belt through the buckle and sew in place.

Belt buckle close-up


I’m sewing a skirt – Part 3

Well, this is my skirt. I think in the past I’ve tended to feel a bit self-conscious in skirts as they don’t tend to fit me well. But this one seems just right, thanks to Deby’s instructions! I even used the toile that I made from cotton sheeting as the lining (waste not want not). It does mean that it too has darts rather than pleats in it, but I think that is fine.

I did make a few additions to the basic pattern; I like to give myself a challenge. I added a waistband and belt loops. The reason for this is that I feel more comfortable with the ability to hold the skirt at the waist.

For the waistband this Youtube video from Professor Pincushion helped me out.

I thought just to finish things off to make a matching covered belt. I think this makes the skirt extra smart. I’m hoping to use this for work.
I’ll post something extra for the belt, I think it deserves special attention!

All in all, this was a very satisfying project, with no real upsets or calamities. It certainly has increased my confidence. I felt particularly proud of the fit and my off piste additions!

Finished Skirt

Woman with no waist wearing a me-made skirt

There is one thing that I’m not completely satisfied with. The hem is a little puckered and I think I’ll give it a tidy up when I have a space hour in front of the telly.

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I’m sewing a skirt – Part 2

Before I started this project I did a search online to find out whether I dared to sew in silk. I found this excellent Youtube video on the web by Professor Pincushion (great name!) which helped enormously.

Here are the suggestions I used:

Use tissue paper
I actually laid the fabric on top of a sheet of tissue and cut the fabric out as a sandwich. This helped to stop it sliding around and helped stabilise the fabric. Also it meant that the tissue paper was in place and I could sew the fabric and the tissue paper together. This worked a treat. I tried, for a giggle, to sew without it and found that the two silk layers just slipped past each other all the time and it was impossible to sew a straight-looking line. Sandwiching the silk between tissue paper meant that the layers stayed put and it was possible to sew

Use sewing needle on the machine
The video recommends a 70/09 needle. I think this is a normal recommendation for sewing with silk.

Use thinner pins
There are silk and pleating pins, 0.5 mm in diameter. However, I didn’t manage to find any of these in the local shops. Having said that it didn’t seem to be a problem with the fabric, but it might have been necessary with a thinner, more refined looking silk.

Use silk thread
This was recommended by the Youtube video, but I found conflicting information about this on the web. Silk thread can cut through the fabric so I decided to stick with normal thread (polyester in my case, 100% cotton can also be used).

Cut out with pinking shears
Another top tip was to cut out pattern pieces using pinking shears. I didn’t do this, but actually I regret this as I found that the fabric frayed very easily.

I just used standard interfacing as I could use the iron on my fabric, but the Youtube video did suggest that sew-in interfacing or with a very sheer silk, organza could be used.

Other sewing tips
Starting away from the edge of the fabric and taping up the hole in the plate so that fabric isn’t pulled down into the hole, should make sure that the fabric isn’t sucked into the machine. There’s nothing worse than mangling your fabric in the sewing machine, so I took this advice/

Holding the fabric tight, but without forcing it through can also help stop it puckering. I think this may be necessary with thinner fabric as I didn’t find this particularly necessary.

Silk skirt close up

I’m nearly finished on the skirt as you can see. Next post, the finished product!


I’m sewing a skirt – Part 1

For my next project I have decided to sew a simple skirt. I’m keen to make a skirt that fits well and found that Deby at So Sew Easy has written a wonderful tutorial on this very subject.

I started out by drafting my custom fit pattern. This was relatively easy to do, but I did find I have so little in the way of waist that I had to adapt even these custom-fit instructions. I ended up making my front darts 1 cm smaller to accommodate my large tum. Next, I created my toile. I had bought, very cheaply, in a local fabric shop, some brown sheeting. I decided that not only would I use it to create my test piece, but if all was well it could double-up as the lining for my skirt. It seems usually that skirt linings seem to be made of horrible synthetic polyester or acetate, but why not make a cotton lining? After all, there aren’t any rules about this surely?

The toile worked out fine, I was so surprised that it actually fitted! I am so used to skirts, either being too tight in the waist, or fitting at the waist and having bagginess around the hips.

I decided that just to make life a little more interesting I would make my skirt from silk; I just can’t help giving myself a challenge! I found this lovely silk dupion in brown . It has a lovely shimmer to it…..actually I’m going to call it bronze, makes it sound so much nicer!

SIlk Dupion