Clover sewalong

For the eagle eyed among you, you will have noticed a new button on the right of the homepage screen. I am taking part in my first sewalong!

I decided to take part in this before I decided to set myself the Pillowcase Dress Challenge, so I am already massively behind in the sewalong. Think I’m just going to have to do it at my own pace.

The sewalong is done by Colette Patterns (can you tell how much I like their patterns yet?!), and talks you through in detail how to make their Clover trousers. So far I have managed to get the pattern and some fabric. The sewalong is already at fitting stages so I have a bit of catching up to do!

The fabric for these trousers needs to have some stretch in it to be comfortable when the knees bends and for general movement. It should have 1 – 3% lycra / spandex in it – this is what gives it it’s stretch. You don’t want more than 5% lycra otherwise the trousers will look like leggings!

The drape of the fabric should also be slightly stiff. Drape is the way fabric hangs. In my research to try and explain to you what drape is, I found it done much better on the Colette Patterns blog.

There is also a handy diagram about different types of fabric and their drapeyness (pretty sure I just made that word up) – I’m putting this in for my benefit more than anything!

I bought the fabric below to make the trial ones where you work out any alterations to make to the pattern. It is cotton drill, made from 97% cotton and 3% spandex. The cotton was quite expensive though, so am wondering whether to make the real things out of this – what do you think? Too bright for trousers?!


Can you tell what it is yet?!

Although I am yet to sew a proper stitch on it, the skirt from my Clothes Making class is starting to take shape!

In my last blog about the skirt, I explained how to lay the pattern out on the fabric correctly. The next stage is the cutting out.

Pattern ready to be cut out

I can honestly say I never knew a sewing class could get so stressful… and that’s not just a typical Alison over-reaction (well, maybe a bit)!

You could feel the tension in the air as we took out our scissors and approached the fabric. Beads of sweat were forming on our brows (although that was also due to the unseasonal warmth and the fact the windows don’t really open). What if we went wrong we asked, what if we accidentally picked up the fabric from the table when we had specifically been told not to??!!


Taking a deep breath, I made my first incision. Relief poured through me as I realised it was going to be OK. I could do this! Keeping as close to the edge of the pattern as humanly possible, I cut my pattern out.


A slight problem arose when it came to cutting out the accent colour for the belt.

Pattern pieces should be placed with the grainline parallel to to selvedge edge. (There is a handy diagram in my last skirt post if you’re not sure what a grainline or a selvedge is). I couldn’t do this as the pattern piece was too long for the correctly folded fabric.


So, using a set square or Pattern Master you can create a new grainline at 90 degrees to the original one. This then allowed me to turn the pattern piece round so that it fitted. PHEW!

With all my pieces now cut out, and me feeling much calmer, all that was left to do was transfer the tailors marks from the pattern on to the fabric. These are called balance marks and enable you to match the individual pieces together when constructing the garment.

The first is a small circle. To mark these precisley we used a needle and thread.

First you stitch through to the back and then back to the front.

You then repeat this, but don’t pull the thread all the way through so that a loop remains.

Removing the pattern, you pull the two layers of fabric apart so that the loop you have created is taught between the two pieces. By cutting the thread you are then left with marks on both pieces of fabric.

I really need to sort my finger nails out now that I am a hand model!

The second balance marks to transfer are these triangles.

These are simply marked by snipping in to the fabric at the right point.

After removing all the pattern pieces, you need to mark each piece of fabric so that you know what number it is, and which is the right side. All this information is taken from the pattern piece itself.

The white cross made with tailors chalk tells you which is the right side.

Ready to go!

So, with all my pieces cut out and carefully marked, I am now ready to make my skirt. Tune in next Monday to find out what happens next in this exciting tale!

Boggled brain!

Each week, it becomes clearer and clearer why my past creations have never been quite right! There are so many little things to think about when making a garment that I would never have known about if someone hadn’t taught me. Guess thats the point of going back to school!

Last Monday I told you about the skirt I’m making in my Clothes Making class, and then went to the class itself. After a stifling journey to college on the Victoria line, I was awfully drowsy and not nessessarily ready for the level of concentration required!

Apologies if this gets a bit technical, but its really good for me to write out what I’ve learnt as I’m far more likely to remember it that way! Peggy is waiting to say hello at the bottom if you just want to skip the ‘science bit’.

Having altered the pattern to fit me and chosen my fabric the previous week, the next task was to place the pattern on the fabric in the correct way. Simple I thought. I was wrong.

Having washed my fabric at home to see if it was likely to shrink, it then needed pressing and laying out on the table.

Here it was important to understand the construction of the fabric in a bit more depth, so here is a little diagram that will hopefully explain better than words:

These are the main steps we then followed to getting the fabric ready for the pattern:

1) Decide on the right and wrong side. This can be done either by looking at the selvedge, or of there are pin marks along the selvedge the right side is more likely to be the smooth side of these holes. It can obviously also be done by eye if the fabric has a pattern.

2) Fold the fabric selvedge to selvedge across the width of the fabric, never the length. This is a good habit to get in to as it ensures your fabric matches up if you are using patterned fabric. The selvedges need to meet perfectly.

3) Check for marks or damage to the fabric, mark these with a pin (mine had a couple – I bought my fabric from Walthamstow Market, so it might have been a faulty roll bought by the stall holder at a discounted price!).

These marks caused me a few problems as I couldn’t follow the guide layout given in my instructions. Instead I had to get creative and work around them.

I couldn’t follow this because of the mark on the fabric

4) This mark means you put the pattern on the foldline.

5) All patterns also have a straight line with an arrow head at one or both ends. This is the grainline, and when laying out patterns the grainline must always be parallel to the selvedge. These need to be accurate, which can be done by ensuring the distance between each end of the arrow to the selvedge is the same.

5) Pin the pattern to the fabric, keeping it smooth and flat.

6) Cut it out!

With all this to consider, it is no longer a mystery as to why things have never quite worked in the past!

Peggy really getting in to her modelling