Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tailor's Tacks for Dalloway...

Tailor's tacks are a super little way to transfer pattern markings onto your fashion fabric.

Because they are essentially a loop of thread, they stay in place where you need them to (and don't rub off!) and you can remove them easily, without leaving a trace.

When I talk about using tailor's tacks for marking the horizontal pleat lines on the Dalloway skirt, I'm not talking about the little teeny ones you might use on a bodice (though the technique is exactly the same). Nope, I'm talking about heavy duty tailor's tacks here guys.

They should be at least 2cm (3/4inch) long or bigger to be of any use to you when assembling and pressing in your pleat folds. So, how do you make a tailor's tack for the Dalloway skirt horizontal pleats?


  • Dalloway skirt paper pattern (both the skirt and underlining pieces)
  • Fashion fabric
  • Needle
  • Contrasting thread (using a contrasting thread makes it so much easier to see your tacks!). You can use silk if this if your preferred thread for pattern marking, but I use regular ol' polyester thread.

1. I talk about using 3-4 tailor's tacks per 'line' to mark your Dalloway skirt horizontal pleats. The important thing is that they all sit horizontally, directly on top of a marked pattern line. They do not need to be neat and all matching up to each other between the different lines though.

These markings are there for you to be able to fold and stitch your pleats in accurately and will be taken out eventually, so there is no need for neatness (except along each individual line).

The red lines on top of the skirt underlining pattern above mark out where you might choose to place your heavy duty tailor's tacks. As you can see, while they don't have match up between each line, they are all placed accurately along each line.

You are also more than welcome to use more or less, depending on how confident you are feeling. I have found that 3 is perfect for me, but when I was first testing Dalloway, I think I used 5 or 6 per line!

2. Take your needle and thread it with one long piece of your contrasting thread (you will need to re-thread as you go, so how long you make it is up to you!). Don't knot the end.

Generally you'd double thread your needle for small tailor's tacks, but because you'll be doing so many, I tend to use a single thread.

3. Take your needle, line it up with one of the skirt pattern lines and thread through all layers of paper pattern and fabric (since the skirt is cut on the fold, that will be three layers total). Leave a long tail.

4. Since we're making big tacks, move along the line 2cm or so and come back up, making sure you are coming through the marked line on the pattern. Don't pull too tightly, you'll want a little loop at the back.

5. Go back through the first stitch you made, and then come back up the second - again, don't pull too tightly. Then, leaving a long tail, cut your needle loose.

You've now made a tailor's tack! Repeat these steps for as many tacks as you need before proceeding.

6. Cut the top loops of your tacks and gently remove the paper pattern sitting on top.

7. Gently pull your two layers of fabric apart, being careful not to pull your thread all the way past the top layer (this is why you should leave long tails), and cut to divide your tack.

Now you'll have a bunch of nice little neat rows of tailor's tacks spanning across your entire skirt ready for you to press in your pleats!


Friday, September 12, 2014

The Dalloway Pattern - Grading the Hips

As I mentioned when I released Dalloway last week, grading the hips is one of the trickier things that you might need to do to the pattern. This is because the skirt is one length of fabric, with no side seams.

But that's what makes it interesting right?

When I was making the pattern, I deliberately left a lot of ease in the hips to hopefully accommodate a large portion of people making Dalloway, but with that said, I still completely understand that some people may need more room, while others need less room. So hopefully, this little tutorial will help those of you that need to do some adjusting around that area, and you'll see that it's not too complicated and that actually, the method I'm about to show you means that you can play around with the proportions to get the perfect fit for you.

So, what's the trick to adding (or removing) hip ease in the Dalloway skirt?  Basically, you want to adjust the depth in the pleats along the skirt that shape the waist.

What you don't want to do is move the legs of the pleats along the skirt with the intent of adding ease in between the individual pleats, especially when making the dress, as the pleats match up with certain parts of the bodice. With the skirt version, it probably doesn't matter as much since you're just adding a plain waist band, but moving the pleat legs accurately would be the harder way to adjust the hips in my opinion.

Onward to the tutorial...

  • Dalloway pattern (either the skirt or the underlining pattern piece - it doesn't matter)
  • Muslin or scrap fabric to make up a test skirt
  • Scissors
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Cello tape
  • Extra paper if you are adding ease

1. Make up a muslin of the skirt piece using pattern piece D (this is the skirt underlining piece and matches up with the skirt piece exactly once the horizontal pleats have been sewn into the skirt).

2. Work out how much ease you need. Take note of where the skirt is pulling (or bagging if you need to reduce ease). The great thing about adding ease to the skirt my way is that you actually get to choose where you add in your ease. Is it pulling at the back? Or at the front? Add your extra ease here only. Or if it's too tight in general, you can divide your extra ease up and add it all over. 

For the sake of this tutorial, I'm going to say I need to add a total of 2.5cm extra (or 1inch) to the back pleats.

3. Once you've got how much extra you need to add, it's time to divide that number up equally across all the affected pleats.

Since I'm just going to be adding ease to the back pleats only, and there are a total of 6 of them (I've included one side of the side box pleat that sits to the back - though it's totally up to you if you include that pleat, or the entire side box pleat or none of it!!) - which works out to be about 4mm for each pleat (aka slightly bigger than 1/8inch - sorry guys, I'm a metric lady and have no idea how to write that in inches!!).

2.5cm/6 = 0.41cm (I've rounded to 4mm)

4. Now I need to divide that 4mm by 2 because I'm only working with half a pattern and I wanted to add 2.5cm total to my skirt.

4mm / 2 = 2mm

So all up, I'm only going to be adding 2mm to the depth of each pleat (slightly less that 1/8inch). And while it might not sound like a huge amount, as we all know with sewing, the tiniest changes in fitting all add up.

5. Now the fun part! Cut off the top strip of the skirt that has all the pleat markings on it.

6. Cut all the affected pleats in half and pull apart by the required amount.

7. Place paper underneath each section to fill in the gaps and tape up.

8. Tape your adjusted strip back onto your skirt and fill in the extra length added to the end with spare paper.

9. Draw in the new ends of your skirt pattern Sew Lines (including the end notches) then transfer the new markings/adjustments to your other skirt pattern piece.

TA DA! A nicely adjusted skirt pattern. This tutorial works exactly the same for taking away ease, you just want to do the opposite.

See, totally not as scary as you thought right?

Any questions? Please feel free to pop them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them :)


Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Dalloway Tutorial Series

Howdy Folks!

First off, thank you so much for all o' your kind comments on the release of The Dalloway Dress & Skirt Pattern. I'm so happy you like it AND it made me even more happy that you like that it's different to what's out there at the moment and that it's aimed at intermediate to advanced seamstresses. I have more beginner patterns coming, but it's always nice to sink your teeth into a little something pretty that's a bit more complicated.

As I mentioned when I released the pattern, I'm not going to be running a sew a long (unless there's a big push for it!) but I am going to be running a series of tutorials for the pattern. The dates for the tutorials are below - starting tomorrow with the Hip Grading tute. I kind of figured that those of you who already have the pattern probably know about tailors tacks and are itching to get sewing, but might need to fiddle with the hips a little first and aren't quite so sure how to tackle them (it's not as complicated as it might seem - promise!). And just in case you don't have your Dalloway pattern yet, you can purchase it here and download it instantly to your computer.

Dates for your diary...

Friday 12th September 
Dalloway - Grading the Hips

Tuesday 16th September
Easy Tailor's Tacks for Dalloway

Tuesday 23rd September
Dalloway - Pressing in your Horizontal Skirt Pleats

Friday 26th September 
Dalloway - Stitching in your Horizontal Skirt Pleats

If there is something specific you'd like to see that isn't listed, please let me know, it is by no means a comprehensive list of things you might struggle with, it's mostly the things I think you might want to know about, so I'm more than happy to add more to the list.

And just because I could, I made a wee button for you should you wish to display it proudly somewhere :)

Grab button for The Dalloway Pattern Tutorial Series by Jennifer Lauren
<div class="Jennifer-lauren-vintage-dalloway-button" style="width: 200px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="http://www.jenniferlaurenvintage.com/2014/09/the-dalloway-tutorial-series.html" rel="nofollow"> <img src="http://i1289.photobucket.com/albums/b516/Jenniferlaurenv/Dalloway-button_smallweb_zpsfddf3989.jpg" alt="Jennifer Lauren Vintage" width="200" height="200" /> </a> </div>

So, onwards to some hip easing action Ladies (and Gents, if you're out there) - see you tomorrow,


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Introducing Pattern No.3 - The Dalloway Dress & Skirt

Here it is folks - The Dalloway Dress & Skirt pattern
available for purchase and instant download right here!

With the Dalloway Dress & Skirt in your wardrobe, you’ll be ready to host your own party at a moment’s notice. But which view will you choose to make first? At least in this story, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Five horizontal pleats run the length of the skirt creating the illusion of a tiered peplum while adding body and detail. Small soft pleats then gently shape the skirt around the waist and hips, giving the impression of a fitted pencil skirt with all the comfort of being able to eat your way around the buffet table. 

The Dalloway Dress is constructed with a fully lined and enclosed bodice to hide away raw edges. The skirt underlining can also act as a lining, leaving you free to wear it without a slip when the cold weather strikes and both versions are finished with a lapped zip. For extra shaping, the bodice is designed with 2 waist darts on either side.

Dalloway is aimed at intermediate to advanced sewers, but if you are a beginner, taking your time may be all you need. What makes Dalloway a tad challenging are the horizontal pleats that run around the entire circumference of the skirt. They are attached invisibly to a skirt underlining and can be a bit fiddly to sew in.

Another thing that makes Dalloway a bit harder is the fact that the skirt is one length of fabric - there are no side seams. This can make grading the hips a teensy bit harder than your traditional skirt, and while I have allowed for plenty of ease in that area, you can still grade up or down if you need too and I will be posting a tutorial on just how to do that right here.

While I do instruct you to use a lapped zip for the pattern, you are more than welcome to substitute it for an invisible zip if that is your preferred technique. You can also easily opt to leave the horizontal skirt pleats out completely by using the underlining pattern for your skirt.

I'm not going to be running a sew-a-long persey for Dalloway, but I will be posting a series of tutorials on specific aspects of the construction of Dalloway. These will include -

  • Grading the hips on Dalloway
  • Easy Tailor's Tacks for Dalloway
  • Pressing in your horizontal skirt pleats
  • Stitching in your horizontal skirt pleats


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pattern Testers Wanted!

Since the release of my first pattern, I've had a few people email me offering to test any future patterns I may have, which has been absolutely amazing. I've always taken them up on the offer, because, why on earth wouldn't you? I'm now at the stage where creating a small database of those lovely people who want to do some pattern testing for me would be extremely useful, so, would you like to do some future pattern testing for me? Because, I'd really love it if you would (and would be forever grateful!).

I've written up a little FAQ about testing to hopefully answer some of your questions -

1) Do I get paid to pattern test?
Unfortunately not, but you do get a (hopefully) cute pattern! Once all feedback is collated and any changes are made, I'll also send you a final copy of the updated pattern as a thank you.

2) Do I need to blog about it once the pattern is released?
Absolutely not! In fact, I have testers who don't even have blogs or an internet presence. What I need from testers is honest feedback about the pattern, and then should you wish, you are more than welcome to blog about your experience with the pattern (good or bad) once released, but there is no small print stating that you have to blog about it (though obviously, I'd welcome it!).

3) Do I need a blog or web presence to test?
Again, absolutely not, see above answer.

4) How do you pick who get's to test?
Once I have the next pattern ready, I'll email the entire database to let you know. From there, testers will be chosen on a 'first in' email basis. BUT, if the first 10 people signing up are all a size 14, obviously I need a range of sizes to test for me, and sending the pattern to a large group who are all sewing up the same size isn't going to give me a good idea of how the pattern works across all sizes. So in that instance, the first few in the group will get to test.

5) What do I have to do?
Once you've received my email with a description of what the next pattern is, if you want to test it, all you have to do is let me know. If I receive your email before the testing group is full, I'll email you the pattern with a list of questions I'd like to know about. After you've made the pattern, you'll need to email me back with the answers to my questions and any other comments you think might be useful for me to put into the pattern (whether it's fit, typos, missing information, instructions that are hard to understand etc). This usually needs to happen with a 2-3 week turn around.

6) What if I'm too busy to test a pattern with a 2 week turn around?
I'll always let you know what you're in for before you commit to testing a pattern. If you think there's no way you'll be able to provide feed back in that time (sometimes sooner!) then I'd appreciate it if you'd pass on testing this time and let someone else do it.

Don't worry, just because you pass this time, doesn't mean you get a black mark next to your name for next time :)

7) Is the pattern going to be in pdf? Do I need a printer? I hate pdf's by the way...
Yes, at this stage all my patterns are in a digital pdf format. I am looking into paper patterns depending on demand, but that is realistically not going to happen until at least the end of the year/beginning of next.

So, yes, you'll need a printer. My patterns work for both A4 and US Letter sized paper.

I think 'hate' is a rather strong word, but I understand the difficulties of working with pdf patterns. However, if you're yet to try one of my PDF patterns, I hope I'll curb some of that dislike. My pdf's are laid out in a way that you don't end up needing to rearrange your entire living room to tape together one big blob of paper. You get to print out only the version you want to make, and you'll save a bunch of paper and time doing it my way :)

8) What if I don't like the style of the pattern on me?
I'll hopefully describe the pattern to you as best I can without actually showing everyone what the pattern looks like (cause that'd be giving it away!). Based on that information, you'll need to decide if you think it's something you'd like to make, and then fingers crossed you like it. If you end up hating it, obviously I'd still love your feedback and I guess you'll just need to look at the pattern objectively (rather than emotionally) so you can let me know any issues with it.

9) What if I'm a beginner seamstress?
Great! I will be releasing patterns that suit different levels of sewing experience. If I've stated in an email that a pattern is intermediate or advanced but it sounds like something you'd like to have a go at making, then please feel free to sign up. You never know, while I think it's an advanced pattern, you might think it's super easy, which would then mean I'd need to re-think my classification of the pattern anyway.

10) If I sign up and give you my email address, will you use it for other spammy 
purposes, or give it to spammy people who will send me spam?
No way! Your email address will specifically go onto my testers database, and you'll only ever get an email from me if it's about pattern testing (unless you'd like other emails of course! Email penpals anyone??). And I'll never give your email address to spammy people either, don't you worry (damn them and their promises of enlarged bodily bits that I don't even have!).

If you have any further questions, feel free to leave them in the comments (just in case others have the same question) or email me directly at jenniferlauren.is@gmail.com

The size chart for my patterns is here - scroll down to the bottom of the page.


PS) Apologies for being mean in my last post, hehe :) Here is more of a hint - the next pattern is for wovens and is a skirt/dress combo :) Is that better?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sneaky Peeks...

I've been neglecting this poor wee blog of late, mostly due to this...

O hai new pattern!

This is not the original third pattern I was intending to release. Nope, we had a slight falling out so decided it was best we move on and see other patterns, because time (and distance) makes the heart grow fonder and all that. I think we're making up again though, because as soon as this one is out, we're going to work on our relationship, take it one day at a time and then hopefully show the world what a beautiful and versatile couple we (and you!) make. #howmanytimescanapatternbedescribedasversatile ?

In the mean time, other pattern and I are working out the last few bits before it hits the inboxes of testers (who will politely rip it to shreds in the very best kind of way) and we'll then be able to deliver a new pattern to you at the end of August to hopefully add to your ever expanding list of 'Patterns to make'.

I'll give you a hint, intermediate and advanced seamstresses, this is your pattern. Keen beginners, time and patience may be all you need.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Your Bronte Tops...

Today I wanted to showcase a few of the amazing Bronte Tops I've seen popping up lately. It's so exciting every time I see a new one out in the world!

Sue from Fadanista kind of blew my mind with her first Bronte top, in which she put the front overlap on top of the back overlap (it's designed to go the other way...) and wow, how cool does it look! Can I just say that doing it this way had honestly never crossed my mind, but now...

She also made a cute green spotty short sleeved version for fabric shopping in during her travels (me, jealous? Nope, not me...*cough*).

Heather over at Handmade by Heather B has made a gorgeous blue spotty version with some bonus fitting info for hollow chests and forward shoulders!

Tanya from Mrs. Hughes has made two versions, a gorgeous green and black stripe and a nautical stripe...

This Bronte dress from Gillian has me dreaming of a Bronte-Skater dress, what do you think?

I've fallen in love with the polka dot binding Tialys used on her Bronte...

Kirsten from Fifty Two Fancies made up both versions of Bronte - loving the gingham buttons!

Nicole from Sartorial Sewing has made a sleeveless Bronte! And she's hopefully going to post a tutorial on just how she went about it - can't wait!

Ela has made a Bronte from some absolutely gorgeous fabric, and the buttons she used for the neckline were found in an old shed in the Ukraine - I just love little details like that.

There are heaps more out there and you can either peruse the pinterest board for inspiration or add your own Bronte top to the Flickr group here.