Dressmaking, Featured

This week I decided to give the Hemlock Tee a go from Grainline . I wanted something easy, comfortable and wearable to get me through January. And this one meant I could switch the colour of my threads out on my over locker (excited by the small things).

I already had a striped knit set to the side that worked brilliantly. I whizzed through the pattern like a breeze – only complication was that I have octopus arms and the sleeves were a weird length on me. So I kinda created 2 cuffs and overlocked those to the end of the sleeves – almost perfect :)

Hemlock tee

I did find with this knit that it had a lot of give in it and became huge around the waist, so after these pictures I ran it through the overlocker again taking off 4-5cm from the sides. It now sits really nicely on the hips while staying loose and slouchy around the neck.

Hemlock tee

Hemlock tee

It took 2 evenings to prepare the pattern and throw it together – so quick that I’ve got my sister making one too. Before hand she said she was scared of sewing machines….few hours later she’s flown through it! :)

If she’ll let me, pictures will be shared when finished.

Dressmaking, Featured

Archer shirt

I’ve seen the pattern all over the web and thought it was time to have a go. I’ve never done a sew along before (I’ve always done my own thing) but decided to join in with the step by step walk though. And loved it :)

I didn’t realise it when I bought it at Christmas – but December was also Archer appreciation month! Good timing eh.

The fabric that I bought from Morocco seemed perfect. Maybe a bit soft but I bought it with a blouse/shirt in mind and there were no fabric shops open on boxing day to be distracted by!

Its been a while since I’ve sewn anything like this so I started with a toile first just to get familiar and gage the size as I could see myself making more than one of these shirts. It was good job because even after measuring the inside arm before hand, the sleeves ended being a good couple of inches too short.

Archer shirt - cutting table

The thickness of the muslin meant it was really easy to throw the shirt together. The edges met nicely, corners turned perfectly, and the pressure was non existent as this was a practise run.

For the second attempt I added an inch to the length of the body and 3 inches to the length of my arms. I have freaky arms.

Archer shirt - Rotary cutter

The cotton was a slightly different story. Just getting the grain nice and straight was the first problem as it distorted really easily. The next issue was pulling the grain when using scissors, so I had to give up on that tramadol idea and got out the rotary cutter.

Top tip : stick a bit of masking tape to the wrong sides of your pieces

Archer shirt - wrong side

My right sides had a slight sheen but it wasn’t always easy to identify. I stuck some washi tape to all my wrong sides and that saved loads of time – just remember to remove it before you trap it inside your yolk!

The cotton was very fragile so I had to be careful applying heat/steam. Where possible I used a second off cut of the fabric as a barrier for the heat but the iron allowed me to mould my pieces really nicely for a clean finish.

Had a couple of issues with the collar which I’ll avoid next time but was very pleased with my sleeve plankets this time. Jen eased the nerves in the sew-along.

Archer shirt - sleeve planket

The pockets where the last additions. In the Archer walk through, Jen put the pockets on at the start, but I decided to see what the shirt looked like without first. Hmm plain….

So I decided these needed so be featured up a bit. I’ve really enjoyed the top stitching on this project so I went for couple more diagonal lines on the pockets  - just ’cause I could.

Archer shirt Archer shirt Archer shirt

So that’s it – my first Archer. I’m sure there will be more. Very little amendment needed, really clear instructions and nice looking result. You can buy the download from the Grainline shop.

Now I’m off to look at everyone else’s on flickr….

Nicole @ beaufrog


Dressmaking, Featured, Update

This week I attended a sewing class in aid of #WatchYouWasteWeek hosted by the guys at Stitched Up. It was all about raising awareness of recycling and sustainability in fashion.

It’s the first time I’ve given one of these workshops a go and wasn’t sure what to expect. Everyone had a bag of old clothes with them and had ideas on what they wanted to achieve. Me – I didn’t have a clue what to do with my old rags, I’d just thrown a bag together without a thought the night before.

After toying around with the idea of turning a shirt into a skirt or a baggy blouse into a fitted tank, I decided to keep it simple and rescue a skirt out of a badly arthritis fitting dress. We only had 2 hours so I got started on ripping the seams.

The skirt already had a row of buttons down the front and two pockets, I just rescued a tie that goes around the waist and created a hem. With time left I turned the top half into a crop top but that turned out a bit dodge, won’t be seeing daylight anytime soon!

In all it was a lot of fun – if not just to mix with other cotton lovers like me. And of course, I have a fab new skirt in my wardrobe that didn’t cost a penny!

Nicole @ beaufrog

Dressmaking, Featured, How To

How To : Make Perfect Pleats with a Pleating Board

After working on a few pleating projects (including the pleated Kate dress) I started to wonder how I could make the pleating process easier. Measuring those pleats, pinning them down and ironing them just to find they weren’t quite right was getting to be really frustrating. So it was around that time the light bulb above my head switched on and I had my Dragons Den moment (or not quite because this isn’t an original idea – boo) – I needed a template to run the pleats through! Bingo.

After a couple of attempts, I got quite a good at churning these things out and heres how you can do it too -



Strong spray adhesive = £4.99 Long ruler
Lining paper = £1.19 Pen
Scrap material = free Scissors
Iron and ironing board
Big table

materials needed

  • Cut a length of lining paper to your desired length.

I cut mine at 1 metre but you could go longer or shorter depending on what you’re making.

  • Mark the pleat folds along the sides of your lining paper.

Now you’ll need to make a decision on what size you want your pleats to be when finished. In these pictures I’ve used 35mm:20mm as my measurements. This means the pleat will look like a nice medium sized pleat – think gym skirt.

Allow for approx 2mm difference as your pleats won’t be the exact same lengths as your board.

marking the pleats

  • Lightly score a line along every fold.

This means, join up your marks and run a pair of scissors across just to make life that little bit easier when you come to fold the pleats. Scissors are perfect as they are not too sharp – just watch your pinkies!

scoring the pleats

scored pleats

  • Fold the scored lines in opposite directions to make the zig zag pleat formation.

Now this is the tricky bit. I used the edge of a table to find the score line and make sure the fold was completely in line. It’s easy to fold the paper in the wrong place or fold it in the wrong direction so be patience – it’s anti inflammatories worth spending extra time on this part.

pleated paper

  • Gather your paper pleats and iron the folds down.

Sounds easy enough right? No! Those pleats will not want to be gathered! Take your time, then when you’ve got them all in your hand get ‘em ironed in to place on the hottest steamiest setting you have.

pleated paper

  • Glue one side of your gathered pleats to a sheet of material.

I’d advise using a strong carpet glue for this bit. You could use PVA but this would wet the paper and take a long to dry – with you pressing down…far too time consuming. I used a heavy duty spray adhesive (cost £4.99 from haberdashery shop) that’s made for upholstery – does the job perfectly! It’s not wet, really easy to spray on both the paper and the material, no chance of the two surface becoming unstuck and it does not react to heat.

I’ve used some material that I’ve had folded up for years and will never find a project for, but it’s nice to use something interesting to give your pleating board some personality. When it’s glued, cut away the excess material. Then iron the life out of it until you are happy the the pleats are nice and sharp.

Apologies for lack of photography on this section (was far to involved to remember to take pictures!). You can view this section in the video below at 4:10 s.

strong adhesive spray

  • Tuck the material you wish to pleat into the paper folds and iron once in place.

Use a ruler or credit card to make sure the fabric is tightly tucked into the pleating board.

creating pleats

ironing pleats

  • Bend the pleating board to release the pleats and enjoy!
Voila! How easy was that? Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

pleated fabric

end of the pleating board

reverse of the pleating board

While your at it, why not make a few more pleating boards with varying sizes of pleats – it’ll be worth it the next time you want to make tiny tiny pleats for that urgent dress! Good luck!

multiple boards for different sizes of pleats

Nicole @ beaufrog


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