Category Archives: Sewing Patterns by Wendy

Spoonflower Fabric Printing

Woohoo!!! I designed and made a dress AND the fabric!

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that at the end of last year I took a short screen printing course at the fabulous Inkspot Press in Hove.

 

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It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years as; a) it felt like the next logical step after creating my own clothes and b) I’m so incredibly fussy when it comes to printed fabric and find it difficult to find prints that I love. I’m very clear about what I do and don’t like in a fabric print, I love: bold, simple, graphic, abstract, oversized; and I have a definite aversion to: pastels, cutesy, florals (unless they’re very painterly or abstract)!

So, when the European arm of US fabric printing giant Spoonflower got in touch I was just a tad excited. Disclaimer time: I need to point out that Spoonflower offered to print me a length of the fabric of my choice for free in return for being interviewed for their website. I also decided to write this blog post independently to share my experience with you lovely lot who might be interested in having a go yourselves and so this review is completely unbiased, honest and my own opinion – I haven’t been paid to write it.

For those of you who have never heard of Spoonflower, it’s a kind of “print on demand” online fabric printing service. You choose a base fabric, you find a print from their huge collections of print designs from independent textile designers from around the world, or (and this is what appealed to me) design your own print and voila, your very own unique fabric plops through your letterbox.

So, as I’d already been playing around with print designs it made sense to have a go at creating my own Spoonflower fabric print!

Once you’ve set up an account it’s really easy to upload your artwork to create your own design. You can either upload artwork that you’ve already put into repeat, or upload an image and use Spoonflower’s basic repeat tools.

I’ll hold my hands up here to being far from an expert when it comes to print design. I’ve done one course, a bit of my own research and played around with a few ideas. If you’re going to create your own design on Spoonflower, I think you’ll get far better results if you have at least a basic understanding of print design and how repeats work, consequently that will enable you to create a far more professional and seamless print (that said there are lots of tutorials on the site). Personally I hate print designs where the repeat is blindingly obvious and that for me is the sign of a poor quality design and someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing. With this in mind I kept mine super simple, as you can see! 

Once you’ve finalised your design (decided on the repeat and scale), you need to select a base fabric that you want to print your design onto. This is where I started to feel a little limited. I think Spoonflower is great for buying fat quarters for craft sewing (such as patchwork) but once you start to order fabrics by the metre (or yard as is listed on the site) they start to get a little pricey and I found the range of fabric bases a little limiting for dressmaking. However, having said that there is crepe de chine, poplin and a few different knits which was more than I was expecting! Price-wise, you’ll be paying (and watch those dollars and yards UK shoppers) $23 (approx. £17+) per yard for polyester crepe de chine, $26.75 (approx. £20+) for cotton/spandex single jersey and $17.50 (approx. £13+) is the cheapest fabric called “basic cotton ultra”. I’ve no idea what that is.

I plumped for cotton poplin ultra at $20 (approx. £15+) per yard as I knew I wanted a nice crisp fabric to make a gathered skirt version of my Fulwood dress. I needed 3 yards as it’s only 42″ / 106cm wide (pretty narrow for a dressmaking fabric) and this would have cost me $54 & $6 shipping (over £45). For a special one-off fabric, I don’t think this is outrageous. I’m not one to skimp on fabric and would rather pay more for quality and reliable provenance so I probably would have paid that myself to try out Spoonflower.

Now, this all took place in April and from what I remember I’m pretty sure delivery was pretty speedy (European orders are sent from Germany) and my fabric arrived within approximately a week.

Here’s how it looked when it arrived, complete with washing instructions. (How many fabric companies do that?!)

On first unwrapping my parcel I was a bit like a kid at Christmas, it seemed like magic to see my design on fabric, but then I noticed I’d made a mahoosive boo-boo with my design…..

See that gap right across the middle of the white scissors?……. Argh, told you I wasn’t a print design expert, but I really should’ve checked and spotted that one and Spoonflower won’t check for you (understandably!) I was in such a rush to order the fabric, that I skipped the stage of ordering a test swatch (8″ x 8″ for $5). Lesson number 1 learned.

The next surprise was the stiffness of the fabric. I ordered poplin, it’s meant to be crispy, but this really felt almost starched. I hoped it would soften up once I washed it.

I washed my fabric on a gentle 30 degree wash using colour safe washing liquid. Sadly the stiffness didn’t improve much, but the colour faded noticeably and you can see in the picture above that the colour faded more where the fabric had creased in the wash. With the benefit of hindsight I wonder if I should’ve gone for a design with less solid black coverage. Lesson number 2 learned…..

The fabric also shrank in the wash, which to be fair, I would expect with a natural fibre fabric. My piece measured 2.76m long and 114cm wide before washing and 2.66m long and 111cm wide after washing. That’s 3% lengthwise shrinkage and 2% across the width. Probably more or less what would be expected of cotton poplin, but still significant enough to be aware of if you have a tight lay plan and / or a large or directional print design.

As expected, the fabric sewed up like a dream (it was cotton poplin after all) but, that black print did leave a residue on my iron (which was easy to remove). The print was also very easily marked by needle holes. I managed to get an unwanted tuck in the fabric when machining the waist seam and this is what was left behind once I’d corrected it….

I haven’t washed the finished dress yet, so maybe (hopefully) they’ll come out in the wash.

Here’s my finished frock though, of which I am still most proud, despite it’s flaws! It’s super comfy and cool to wear.

So, in conclusion, what did I think of the whole experience?

  • price – at over £45 for 2.75m (3 yards) it’s towards the top end of what I spend on fabric, but certainly not outrageous,
  • quality – this is what I was most disappointed with, but I can’t say if it was my choice of print design (with so much black ink coverage), I need to try a different print on the same base to do a fair comparison,
  • choice of fabrics – OK, the basics are covered, but it’s definitely all about the print!

I’d definitely order again to make a special garment and / or to try out new print designs, but next time I would get a test swatch to check the accuracy of the repeat of my design and the quality and handle of the fabric once printed and take my advice – definitely order the fabric sample pack! It’s only $3 (approx. £2.30) and shipping is free.

I’m going to post a step-by-step guide on how to sew the gathered skirt on the Fulwood dress as inspired by Kath’s winning MIY Maker dress. Honestly, I still can’t believe I’ve never done this before, I absolutely love how it looks.

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A Review of the Roehampton Culottes from Beginner’s Guide to Skirts

Aimee (aka Wrong Doll on her blog and Instagram) is a prolific stitcher, I don’t know how she manages it alongside a full-time job!

She recently made the Roehampton Culottes from my book “A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts” and I instantly wanted to steal them!  They’re so my style; Aimee’s chosen the kind of fabric I’d have gone for and wears them pretty much how I would choose to.

Her review of the culottes project and the whole book makes heart warming reading for me but here are some choice words:

“Wendy’s book is split in two – the individual projects, followed by a techniques section at the end. This format empowers you to get into the driving seat and customise each pattern according to your whim.”

“Thanks to the mode of presentation and clarity of instruction, these Roehampton culottes are by far my most well made make to date.”

It’s so satisfying to know that I’ve played a small part in improving someone’s sewing skills like this. That’s what it’s all about folks.

Read Aimee’s full review here and get a signed copy of my book here.

A Review of the Longley Cardigan Pattern

Looking for that perfect in-between-seasons project?  My Longley cardigan pattern might just be for you and Fiona of Diary of a Chainstitcher blog has just made a gorgeous version which she’s blogged about along with a review of the pattern.

Spoiler: I think she loved it! Here are some of the lovely things Fiona says about the pattern.

“When the construction is as well thought out as this getting professional looking results is very satisfying.”

“The finishing of the Longley is a real selling point for me and I highly recommend it as a cracking pattern to try if you are looking for a similar style.”

Read her full review here. You can also read more reviews of the Longley pattern here and get your copy of the pattern here.

New Class!!! Make a Wrap Skirt

skirt making classAll images taken from “A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts and © Cico books / Julian Ward Photography.

Join me for a day of dressmaking this summer. You will make the easy Granville wrap skirt from my latest book “A Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts”.

This class is ideal for beginners and there are lots of different ways to make the wrap skirt; with ties or buttons, with pockets and even a reversible version so you can really make it to suit your own style. It’s quick, easy and a gorgeous flattering skirt that’s perfect for summer.

You’ll learn how to sew accurate seams, my favourite method for neat hems, how to sew darts, how to attach a facing or lining and how to make and attach a pocket (if you choose that option!).

By the end of the day you’ll feel confident using a sewing machine and leave with a unique-to-you handmade skirt, ready for wearing all summer.

Some materials will be provided, a full list of materials needed will be sent when you book your place.

  • Suitable for absolute beginners.                                                                                            
  • Class size limited to just 5 people.
  • £95

To book your place email Wendy on miyworkshop@gmail.com or ring 01273 693451

No Pattern T-Shirt & Dress Project

free dressmaking project

When Julie from the Sewing Directory got in touch to ask if I’d create a dressmaking project for their site that could use an overlocker and didn’t require a pattern I immediately said yes. I like a challenge!

Armed with some gorgeous knitted fabrics that were kindly provided by Girl Charlee here’s what I created…..

free dressmaking project

….a tapered hem dress,

free sewing project

and a loose drapey t-shirt (those dogs, always trying to get their little hairy faces in…..!!)

The project works in woven fabric as well as knits and you can find it here.

Don’t forget to share your makes on social media and tag me (I’m @thatwendyward on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest or you can post a photo on the MIY Collection Facebook page). I love seeing what you make with my patterns and projects!

A Free MIY Collection PDF Pattern

Free PDF sewing pattern

Remember me promising something special for you as part of MIY March? A free pattern that you can use to enter the MIY March MIY Maker sewing challenge?

Here it is; the Pomona Shrug. It’s a pattern I designed 3 years ago, initially for a Love Sewing magazine project that has since been languishing unused. As lots of my students at MIY Workshop seem to love the samples that are in the workshop I thought it was time to give it a 2nd wind!

free pdf sewing pattern

free pdf sewing pattern

Those of you that know me, know that “free” is not a word I use very often. Attach the word free to anything and I feel it’s valued far less by people, so enjoy this while you can. As the Pomona Shrug is a free pattern it’s in one size only, but the shrug is a relaxed, loose fitting garment which can comfortably accommodate bust sizes from 80cm to 101cm (31.5″ to 40″).

free pdf sewing pattern

free pdf sewing pattern

This pattern is suitable for woven and knitted fabrics (although the neckband and optional cuffs must be made from knitted fabric). My samples are made from silk satin and viscose single jersey.

You can download the pattern for free from the MIY Collection website. You will be asked for your email and postal addresses, but these will not be used to contact you unless you sign-up to receive my newsletter. A link to download the files will be emailed to you automatically once you’ve completed your free order. There is a full step-by-step instruction booklet, a full size copy of the pattern which can be printed at professional copy shops (sized to A0 paper width), the tiled pattern sized so that it fits on both A4 and US letter sized paper and a set of instructions to help with printing your tiled pattern.

You don’t have to use this pattern to enter the MIY March MIY Makers challenge (full details on how to enter here) but if you’d like to, I can’t wait to see what you make!

I can’t guarantee how long I’ll have this pattern available for free so get it while you can!

The MIY Collection Fulwood Dress Sewing Pattern

This gorgeous Fulwood dress popped up on my Instagram feed at the start of this week:

miy collection dress

It was made by Kath Webber who bought one of my Fulwood denim kits just over a week earlier, she’s obviously a fast mover!

It got me thinking how popular this pattern is so I decided to gather together a little gallery of some of the most recent makes shared by the online sewing community.

MIY Collection fulwood sewing pattern

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but this pattern is just so versatile and everyone that makes it seems to reinvent it all over again.

It’s a pull-on style without any openings making it easy and comfortable to wear and layer and quick and easy to make. It works in almost any fabric from heavier weight denims through to lightweight single jersey knitted fabric, it works as a top as well as a dress, has optional collar, pleats and pockets and I’m working on a step-by-step tutorial to show you how to add a lining to it.

Here are just a few that I’ve made for myself that get regular wears:

miy collection fulwood sewing pattern

If you’re feeling inspired the Fulwood pattern is available in print, as a PDF download and as a complete makers’ kit in a choice of 2 denim washes.

I look forward to seeing your version!