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My Winter Sewing Progress at Dress Fabrics HQ

My Winter Sewing Progress

Winter Sewing Progress

There’s been a moderately productive few months of sewing recently. I went back to Grafton Academy for a day a week between Halloween and Christmas and had a few projects earmarked for that. I also made a few other basics that were needed in my wardrobe.

The main project I embarked on at the Grafton Academy was a Jacket for my husband (Laurens). He hasn’t been able to find a good fitting jacket since I met him – the sleeves are always too short or its too tight across his back. I have yet to get some decent pictures of him in the jacket so I will write a separate post about that.


High Neck Top

During the jacket saga I drafted a pattern for a top with raglan sleeves and princess seams.


I drafted it for a woven fabric but of course I had to use a ponte – I really liked the colour of this Royal Blue. This resulted in me having to take in all the seams by 1 cm.






I put a zip in the right shoulder seam. I luckily had an invisible zip in the exact colour.  I’m not too gone on polo necks or high necks on me – I like them in theory but I think they make look odd. Anyway – I think it looks like a running top and it might get relegated to my walking/ workout clothing drawer but it was a good exercise in learning how to draft the raglan sleeve and the high neck.


Cashmerette Ames Jeans

When the Cashmerette Ames Jeans Pattern came out last year – I was impressed, I’ve made a few pairs of Ginger Jeans and I’m a big fan but in the interests of research I thought I should give the Ames a whirl. They start at size 12 and go up to 12 to 28, with interchangeable pelvis (apple or pear fit) and leg (skinny or straight) pieces. Putting my Ginger pattern on top of the Ames to see what size would be best (and based on my measurements) I decided to make the smallest size (never happens for me).  Now to put it in perspective I would be a 14 in the Gingers and a standard UK size 16 in the trousers dept. Then I added 3 cm to the centre back height and dropped the centre front by about 1.5 cm ( typical adjustments for me).  I made a short pair to try out the top in some left over denim from a previous pair of jeans (I went with the pear pelvis and skinny leg). I didn’t make any more changes and just went for it using this Super stretchy denim from our shop.

The result – I’m very happy with these – I made them as they were, with only my initial adjustments and they are very comfortable especially in the legs compared to other jeans. There’s something about my calves that the fabric usually catches  but not a problem with the Ames Jeans.






I highly recommend this Jeans Pattern and the option for the different body types is inspired.


Winter Coat.

Image from Toast Website

Over the Autumn I went through my ‘winter’ coats and decided it was time to retire them to the charity shop. Some had been rarely worn and the rest were worn to death. It was time to use my skills and draft a new coat since I had a lovely collection of boiled wools just arrived in store and a few nice pieces in my old stash.  I had a vague idea of a coat in my head earlier in the autumn and after scrolling through pinterest for ideas I found this one from Toast. I like the tidy collar, the A-line shape and the single button but I wanted welt pockets and for it to be more fitted than the original Toast one and I’m not a big fan of wide sleeves – too cold.

When I was drafting this I used the sleeve pattern piece from my blazer I made last summer, I should have added a bit of width towards the wrist as its quite narrow but I haven’t worn any big jumpers under it yet to see if its too tight.


I interlined the coat completely with Stay Flex interfacing – the good stuff I purchased in the Grafton Academy (hopefully a roll of it will coming to the website very soon).  Canvas interfacing was used on the facing and the upper back and collar.  You can see all this in the ‘guts’ of the first two photos.

Innards – Interfacing and shoulder pads
Practise Welt Pocket


After practicing the welt pocket on some scraps first and realised I really needed to keep a clear head while trying to pattern match (middle pic above). This was probably the most time consuming part of the construction – but worth it in the end!

Welt Pockets!

I lined the coat with the silky satin fabric from our ex designer section – it’s a nice heavy weight fabric – perfect for lining coats for an extra bit of insulation, I liked how the colours work well together. (The finished outdoor photos below show the real colour of the fabric)


The rest of the coat went together as normal. I had fully intended making bound buttonholes for this coat but I left it to the end. After reading a tutorial I realised it was too late – I should have done this part earlier in the construction. Instead of trying to finding enough suitable buttons and make buttonholes I had these big snaps in the shop and decided to use them and the one button at the top for decoration.

The collar is a bit bulky and it won’t sit down – my fabric is probably a bit thick for a narrow collar. I still love it though, it’s really cosy and warm and very easy to wear. Its only been finished a week and it’s already got lots of use.

Sewing plans :

Next up is the Lisa Comfort Cocoon Coat which I am hoping to finish today. Its the one from the magazine she recently launched. Its a well drafted pattern and comes together very quickly.

After that it might be time for a few easy wardrobe staples – t shirts, leggings, pj’s etc. Then it’s back to the drawing board for another go at Laurens Jacket Mark II…

Have a good week!



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Summer 2017 at Dress fabrics

Summer 2017 at Dress fabrics

First of all – a Big thank you to all who supported our summer sale.

We understand it’s not the perfect time of year to be stockpiling fabrics as theres so many other distractions and expenses with kids off school and holidays so a big thanks.

Royal Canal, Westmeath – Longford Border.

We have had a few short camping trips and days away and are planning on another camping trip (weather permitting) before the boys are back in school and the Autumn begins. The boys have had their best summer ever  – they’ve got to do a few summer camps that they really enjoyed and other day trips and workshops that were right up their street. Its means that I have had little time or energy for sewing – I had a bit of a list but I have barely made a dent in it. Anyway in a few years time – they will be older teenagers and won’t need me so much!!

My Self Drafted Linen Coat – Nearly there!!

I’ve made significant progress on my linen coat – I decided I would try waterproofing it to make it more useful in an Irish Autumn so that put a delay on it. I googled it and decided to try a few waterproof sprays I had for shoes (they say they are suitable for fabric too). The Punch one seems to be fine and after performing rigorous tests it does make it a bit ‘showerproof’? So I now don’t know whether to spray it before I put in the lining or to wait til if finish it completely and then spray? More procrastination!!


Another big project I wanted to start this summer in preparation for a return to the Grafton Academy this winter is a Jacket for Laurens. I’ve made the initial block and it fits ok apart from the shoulders/ sleeves which is to be expected. That’s parked now until I can find the energy needed to puzzle it out – more procrastination..

Back to business –

We have some new fabrics in stock that arrived earlier in the summer and dare I mention the ‘C’ word???
We have new christmas fabrics online if you want to make a start on your xmas decorations etc..

We also have a selection of Halloween fabrics if that more your thing!

We have a few new prints that just arrived this week along with a restock of some regular fabrics.

Find all our NEW Fabrics here..

Ponte De Roma - Black Floral Design
Ponte De Roma in a Black Floral Design
Black Floral Print Poly Crepe
Black Floral Print Poly Crepe


[box]Don’t forget there’s still free shipping when you spend over €50!![/box]


Payment Details Update:

We have expanded the number of ways you can pay for your orders online and by phone. We have added Stripe as a method of credit card payment. Simply choose the option to pay by Stripe and it will prompt you for your card number and usual details. Its a secure way to pay without having a Paypal account.

I would ask you all to consider switching to Stripe – it’s as secure or more so than Paypal, it was started by an Irish person and the fees are substantially lower than paypal, so I can save an average of €1 every transaction. This in turn  means I can keep costs down – not increasing the shipping costs for example and maintaining the fabric prices as they are.

Previously customers who phoned in an order – had to send a cheque or postal order to pay for their fabrics. However, now thanks to Sum Up we can take credit card details over the phone and securely process the payment so your order can be sent to you straight away.



[box]Sewing Classes:

We will be starting our sewing classes for adults again in mid September. There will be 2 hour sessions on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and evenings. If you would like to be added to our waiting list please get in touch – or 0874395792.  I will text all of our existing students and those on the waiting list in a few weeks with all details for the first term.[/box]


Kids Workshop – Applique Cushion

[box]Kids Workshops: Our children’s workshops are proving popular so we are going to start holding monthly sessions on a Saturday afternoon. We will have the first one towards the end of September to allow everyone to settle back into the old routines. If you have a small person (age 9+ / teenager) who would like to learn to sew – get in touch. Our workshops are generally 2.5 hours and include all materials, a machine is not necessary but if you have one – bring it so they can get used to it.[/box]

[box]Open Day:

We will be announcing our Autumn OPEN DAY next month. It will be sometime at the end of September or beginning of October. Keep an eye on our blog posts or newsletters and the usual social media outlets 😉 [/box]


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My Grafton Academy experience. Drafting dress and coat blocks and putting it into practise.

Grafton Academy

Pattern Drafting Experience at the Grafton Academy, Dublin.

Back in November I took a notion and rang the Grafton Academy to find out how their evening / part time classes worked. I always had a dream of attending to learn the secrets of pattern design and to get some professional sewing classes. I was either broke (when I was a young student) or no time (ever since!!). After speaking to the lovely people at the Grafton Academy and getting help with the kids school pick ups and  drop offs I signed up for a course of 12 classes. I decided to do two classes on a wednesday to save on travelling time etc.

My tutor was Anne and I really enjoyed every class. I have also met other budding designers and dressmakers and learned loads. It was quite intensive and to get the most from it I felt I had to do a fair bit of homework.

I already had made the skirt, dress and trouser block last summer with Tiina so I had an idea how that worked. We started by drafting a new bodice/dress block and I was stunned to find that it was almost  a perfect fit on the first attempt.


I started this dress over the christmas break – it’s a princess seam dress in a linen/viscose mix fabric and lined with a gorgeous taupe satin. I made the pattern from my dress block however it’s still a work in progress because I have been distracted by lots of other things but it may be time to get it finished and wear it.


The second week, Anne decided to challenge me by drafting a jacket block and collar. We drafted the main body of the jacket from my bodice block with a few adjustments and then Anne performed a few magic tricks to make the collar and facing. I was totally perplexed. I went home and had a few weeks off as the college was closed for Christmas and worked on making a calico of the jacket.

First muslin – I didn’t like the big collar for this jacket – maybe in a nice wool for next winter!

It turned out much too big and I didn’t like the collar much. When I returned in January we redrafted the jacket block and got it to fit perfectly. Then we had another go at drafting a new collar and facing and luckily I could follow the process a lot better the second time around.

I went home after the third day with a pattern for my jacket, so now came the tough decision of which fabrics to pick. As you all know I have a large fabric supply aka Dress Fabrics shop!! I hummed and hawed and eventually settled on this Khaki Cotton Twill.

Khaki Twill Fabric

I ordered it in a few months ago when I was making my Kelly Anorak. I had great plans to make a few Kelly jackets in different colours. Those plans are on hold – I’m still thinking I’d like a navy hooded one using this Navy twill.

I wanted to use a lining that would be a bit warmer than regular poly lining so there was only one that fit the bill and was a perfect colour match.

Green and Red tartan - brushed cotton
Green and Red tartan – brushed cotton

This is a lovely soft and warm brushed cotton. It added a good layer of warmth to the jacket. I used this normal lining in the sleeves for ease of use.

Lining up the jacket pieces.

I started to assemble the jacket, first up was to interface strategic areas as instructed by Anne.

Grafton Academy
Used two different types of interfacing for this jacket.

I used two different interfacings – neither are your bog standard iron on vilene! I discovered hair canvas – which is a stiff fusible interfacing and I used that in the collar. The other is a woven interfacing used for coats, jackets – it has lines on it. I purchased both in the school but I now have a roll of the woven interfacing in the shop since I hope to make lots more coats and jackets in the future.

I interfaced the collar, the princess seams, most of the front of the jacket and along the hem turns. Here is a good tutorial on coat construction if you want to read up on this technique a bit more.

Sewing up the coat and attaching the lining was simple enough – just follow any pattern instruction on that but the collar was where I had most issues. I had to give it a few attempts and the ripper was used. I got there in the end with Anne’s help but it’s still not 100% even – not even 90%.

I top stitched around the edge of the collar and down along the front edges. I was told then I could have finished my seams a little better ie rolled the seams behind. Next one will be better!! I also topstitched along the princess seams to give it a bit of definition – one of the other students suggested that and I’m glad I took her advice.

Here I am wearing it with buttons and all. Anne gave me a great tip – to make the button holes with two spools of thread – like if you were using a twin needle but thread both strands through the single needle. This was a eureka moment for me – I have since used it to top stitch a pair of jeans and love how it turns out. Much better than faffing about with topstitch thread and tension etc.

I love how this jacket fits me in the back – this is the reason I sew and I am learning about pattern drafting. It has a centre back seam and princess seam. We have concluded that a centre back seam is the best option for me in most garments due to my shape and I am ok with that. In the front the design lines follow a princess seam from the armhole to the top of the pocket and then go at a slight slant to the side seam. There was a bit of engineering to get the corner of the pocket to lie flat but it’s all a learning curve. It was worth it to have those big pockets to stick my hands into and still big enough to fit phones, wallet and hankies!

I love my jacket – I’ve worn it a lot. Its a good weight for our climate – just warm enough for most of our mild winter and cool spring.

I have signed up to do another block of classes in May – June in the Grafton Academy. I cannot wait, I’d like to do a bit more work on my jacket block, draft a few different collar options and maybe a shirt.

Its taken me 3 months to finish this blog post hopefully the next one won’t take so long!!

Enjoy the rest of the Easter break,