Friday, 13 March 2020

TWO Tutorials - Couture Rolled Hem + Hand Pick Stitch AND a Silk Slip Dress

julia bobbin
julia bobbin

Hi sewing friends!

Today I have two mini hand sewing tutorials to share with you, and a fresh new silk slip dress!

The Dress

Made with the most divine, 22mm silk satin from Tessuti Fabrics, this self drafted cowl neck dress features:
  • fully lined in a beautiful chocolate silk satin from The Cloth Shop
  • French seams
  • Bias cut silk
  • pick stitched underlining
  • bias cut spaghetti straps
  • hand rolled hem
I love taking a simple dress and making it 'extra' by adding couture techniques, such as a hand pick stitched lining instead of a machine under stitching.

Hand Sewing Is Your Friend!

Typically, when we think about hand sewing we associate it with 'hard work', but friends, I am here to tell you that hand sewing is misunderstood!

I used to do everything I could to avoid hand sewing, associating it with the chore part of making a garment; necessary but not enjoyable.
Looking back I realised that the reason I felt that way is because I never really understood HOW to do it, and didn't appreciate how transformative and useful it was to a garment.

Once you realise the benefits of hand sewing and learn how to do it (it's actually easier than using a machine!) the dread is taken away. In fact in my experience I now actually enjoy it! Now I look at patterns to see where I can actually substitute machine sewing for hand sewing.

So what are the benefits of hand sewing?
  • AESTHETICALLY PLEASING - there is nothing quite like hand finished details on a garment. It signifies couture and indicates the amount of effort and love put into a garment. The slight variations in stitches that are typical of a hand stitch, are in stark contrast to the uniform flat stitches of a machine.
  • THE CONTROL - Hand sewing allows you to be exact. You can manipulate the fabric in front of you and place it exactly where it needs to go. 
  • KINDER TO YOUR GARMENT - When you sew on the machine, you're forcing your whole garment under one small space, the needle. With hand sewing, you can sew with the garment on your lap, on a dress from, standing and sitting. You work on just the relevant area and don't add stress to the rest of the garment.
  • DELICATE FABRICS -When sewing with fabrics such as silk, hand stitching allows you to use less thread, and control the amount of layers you want the stitch to go through. On a machine the thread is continuous and goes through all of the layers, which can distort the fabric. Ever tried sewing a machine stitched narrow hem on bias cut silk chiffon? It's almost inevitable to end up with a hem that is twisted in some spots. This is basically non existent on a hand rolled hem.

The Hand Rolled Hem

SWIPE for left and right-handed views.

I am currently having a love affair with hand rolled hems. It just seems to be one of those things that once you've tried it, nothing else compares.

Not only is a hand rolled hem visually pleasing with it's tube like plump finish, it is also mesmerising how it works! Making those stitches and then pulling the thread and watching them roll, is some sort of sewing magic. WATCH the first video above to see it in action!

As with anything, there are many ways to roll a hem, but the above is how I do it.
There are two types of finishes for a hand rolled hem: The Italian and The French finish.

THE FRENCH rolled hem has the roll turned to the 'wrong' side of the fabric, which is typical for dress and skirt hems.

Above is an example of a French rolled hem, where the roll is on the 'wrong' side of the fabric.
This silk/wool blend pocket square is from Gentelman's Gazette.
THE ITALIAN rolled hem, and my personal favourite, is where the roll is turned to the right side of fabric. 
This is a typical finish on couture pocket squares (my other current obsession) and scarves and a favourite for couture houses such as Hermes (which is French; the irony!).

An Italian rolled hem, the roll is visible on the 'right' side of the fabric. The above silk twill pocket squares are from Rampley & Co
The Hand Pick Stitch

SWIPE for left and right-handed views.

A pick, or prick stitch refers to small, subtle back stitches that can be used to under-stitch a facing or lining (as I've done in the above video for my slip dress), or as decorative top stitch on garments such as lapels and pockets.

A hand pick stitched lapel on a suit is a strong indicator of a bespoke, high quality suit. Because of this, many 'ready-to-wear' brands use pick stitching on their garments to make it look high-end, but when you look up close, the uniformity of the stitch is a clear give away that it was done by machine.

A hand pick-stitch has slight irregularities and is usually done with a silk thread. Once you see the difference it's quite easy to spot.
A subtle, hand pick-stitched lapel from bespoke tailors Burdi Clothing
Final Thoughts

The more I go down the rabbit hole of couture sewing, the more I fall in love with it and want to learn more! 

What excites me the most, is that these techniques, though they may take a bit more time than a machine, are not complicated or reserved for the experienced and highly skilled. They are repetitive, easy enough stitches that home sewers can achieve whether beginner or advanced.

The end result is something beautiful, well engineered and a push back on fast fashion where everything is mass produced and not built to last. Hand sewing for the win!

julia bobbin

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Me-Mades in 2019 - A Year In Review


2019 in the year of sewing has been an absolute joy.

I've had more time in front of my machine then I have had in over six years.

I celebrated my ten year sewing anniversary, and I fell head over heals in love with hand sewing and tailoring. I made my first (and second!) hand sewn, tailored jacket and I'm making good strides on my first three piece SUIT.

Click above to see more progress shots

I've had the extreme pleasure of being interviewed for 'Sew Organised Style' Podcast, been featured in 'Sewn Magazine', participated in two 'Celebrity Copy Cat Challenges' with my friend Faith, and got to indulge in the #sewfrosting delight that is Melbourne Frocktails!

Clockwise from top left: 1. Podcast episode with 'Sew Organised Style'  2. Sewn Magazine Feature 3. Olivia Palermo copy-cat challenge 4. Rihanna copy-cat challenge

This year I have made the total of 25 new garments (three not yet blogged), which include:












Judging by the above data (Oh my God how good is a pie chart, though?!!) in 2019 you were likely to see me make a dress using silk with a solid colour.

On Reflection

There's nothing like the closing of a year to make you stop and reflect back.

I know new years resolutions can seem like a set up, but I love the energy and hope that surrounds the early weeks of a new year, where anything and everything is possible and people seem more engaged and optimistic.

In 2020 I hope to see more hand-sewn, couture additions to my wardrobe and I am excited and grateful for the new year ahead.

THANK YOU to my readers for all your love and support you've shown me and my makes this year; it means more than you know <3

Scroll below to see all my makes for 2019 - CLICK ON THE IMAGES to be directed to the blog post :)


Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Christy Slip Dress + Kate Bias top HACK - Just Patterns


Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns
Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns
Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns

The Pattern
To make this dress I used the Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns, with the front neckline of the Kate Bias Top also by Just Patterns.

I've made the bias top THREE TIMES, and it's just a balanced, well engineered design, so it knew it would translate well into a dress.


I'm wearing the dress with my me-made leather jacket, which you can read about here.

Pattern Hack
Because these two patterns are from the same company, this was a super easy hack.

I lay the Kate Bias top over the pattern for the Christy Slip, which both have the same width and shape from the side notch, which is conveniently positioned in the same spot.

I then simply traced the Kate Bias Top neckline onto the Christy Slip Dress pattern and cut out the modified pattern.

Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns

The Fabric
A glorious silk satin from Tessuti Fabrics.
It has a 22mm weight, and is the colour 'almond'.
Tessuti always stock the most beautiful silk satins, and I'm yet to find better quality elsewhere.

The fabric is cut on the bias, interfaced at the necklines with silk organza and fully lined with a poly georgette.

Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns
Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns
Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns

The Details
This is a classic, straightforward dress, and I love adding extra details that make a dress more wearable and more precious.

I FULLY LINED the dress, and FRENCHED my seams.

Instead of under-stitching the neckline with a machine, I PICK-STITCHED the neckline on the inside of the garment. This gave me so much more control, and allowed me to reach spots on the neckline that you normally can't get to with a machine.

Narrow bias cut SPAGHETTI STRAPS hold the dress up at the shoulders.

I finished the dress with a delicate NARROW HEM that looks so polished on bias cut fabric.

Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns
Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns

Neckline Tip
To stabilise the neckline, I forewent the iron-on stay tape and used the pattern pieces to cut out a facing of silk organza (about 8cm in length).

Silk satin cut on the bias is a tricky textile to deal with, and iron on interfacing, even stay tape, can distort the lovely drape of the bias fabric and the stiffness can show through to the outside of the garment.

Using silk organza, which is about 6momme (mm) in weight, gives the neckline structure, support and strength, without adding bulk and is invisible from the right side.

Just like regular interfacing, you attach it to the individual pattern pieces on the wrong side. I hand basted my organza facings along the necklines and side seams, and pinked the organza edges.

The finished result is a smooth, sharp neckline that doesn't pucker, pull, flip out or bulge. It's well worth the extra 15 minutes it might take to cut out and attach.

Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns
Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns


The Changes
I cut the pattern in a size 42 as the pattern was drafted with negative ease, and I wanted to make sure I allowed enough room for my lower body.

Aside from hacking the neckline from the Kate Top, there were no fit changes.

I added 18cm to the length at the hem, as I love silk in a midi length and the original hem sits just below the knee.

Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns
Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns
Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns

Final Thoughts
I love the proportions of this bias cut dress and I love how it can transition from a day look to a night time look, depending on the shoes or the accessories.

It's super comfortable, straight forward to make and surprisingly flattering to wear on this curvy frame.

I think I just found my new favourite pattern for summer!

Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns
Julia Bobbin - Christy Slip Dress by Just Patterns