About Me

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Denman Island, British Columbia, Canada
Jean Cockburn retired from her professional career as an academic librarian in 2008 to become a textile artist living on Denman Island, British Columbia. She draws, quilts, embroiders, knits and crochets, makes wearable art, weaves baskets, dyes fabric, and paints watercolours. Her work has been exhibited locally in juried and group shows on Denman Island, in Courtenay, Comox, and Duncan on Vancouver Island, in West Vancouver, and across Canada with the Surface Design Association.

Clothes Sewing

June 2017.
Mystery rayon from Fabricland. Very sheer and a bear to sew, but I love the light floaty result. Will wear this one for sure.

Wonderful Japanese chambray from Blackbird Fabrics. Loved sewing this fabric and love the result. Fits great, size 12 from the book, around the neck and shoulderes.

May 10. Made Eléonore slacks by Jalie from black cotton and rayon stretch denim from Blackbird Fabrics. I basted all the seams first to check fit. Raised the waist by 2 inches, incorporated the front and back yokes into the pattern, removed 1 1/2 in ch wedge from centre back seam, cut back elastic 2 inches shorter than waistband. The fit is very wearable. Next time I make these slacks, I will cut the front elastic 2 inches shorter than the waistband, and do a full bum alteration to raise the back waistline.
May 9. Used the leftover black cotton interlock knit to make a cropped version of Jalie Dolman top, with a black poly knit for the neck and hem bands. Comfy.

May 7, 2015. Another V8952 / New Look 6532 hack. This time sleeveless, with fold over elastic along the neckline and armholes. It was too heavy and too tight, so I cut it off and used a lighter foe. This made the neckline larger and more comfortable. The armholes still need to be narrower, so I just folded the elastic edge inside, and used a stretch stitch along the inside edge. Perfect! Then I went to press it, and the cotton setting immediately started to melt the foe. Luckily I had started on the back left edge of the neckline, so it does not show from the front - out of sight, out of mind. I think this will a comfy summer dress. Made from black cotton interlock t-shirt knit from Thread Theory.

May 5, 2017. I made a fantastic dress. It is V8952 to the waistline, and New Look 6532 for the skirt. It looks better on, than in the photos below. I used Vogue 8952 view B again, this time without the cowl collar. I cut 11/2" wide cross strip, ironed in half, and applied it with lots of stretch, sewing flat (one shoulder seam only stitched) to the neckline, then sewed the other shoulder seam, and edge stitched, with a triple stretch stitch, around the neckline. Boom, best yet. I used the Bernina honeycomb stitch, which looks like a cover stitch, for the sleeve and bottom hems. This is all really working well now that I have stopped using the serger and using only the Bernina stretch stitches for my knit projects.
Note that V8952 is such a great pattern because the armholes are very high and this ensures an excellent fit around the arms, bust and shoulders.  It is now my TNT for a knit top. New Look 6532 has a great skirt with just enough room to skim the wobbly bits, but not too much fabric to swamp my small frame. The dress is made from 1.5 metres of Bamboo and Cotton Jersey Knit with 6% spandex from Blackbird Fabrics. I had just enough fabric to make elbow length sleeves, which are perfect.

April 20, 2017. More sewing projects completed.

Hemlock Tee in a woven fabric, raw silk in colour denim blue from Blackbird Fabrics. Cut the sleeves on the bias, a hint that I found online for using woven fabric with this pattern designed for knits, but oversize so hopefully okay. Made a split hem. This fits okay, but definitely better in a knit.
Postscript: too tight around the shoulders - I won't make this pattern in a woven again.

Jalie 3676 Vanessa fluid pants. Navy rayon challis, origin unknown, really nice and drapey.
April 11, 2016.  Completed Jalie 2805 v-neck tee shirt, long sleeve. Using grey sweater knit from Blackbird Fabrics.
Love this, fits well, comfortable, really nice fabric. The v neckline finish worked very well.

April 6, 2017.  Finished tunic Vogue 8952 View B, with the cowl cut half size. Made in a lovely light grey french terry jersey. Bamboo & Cotton French Terry II - Medium Grey Mix from Blackbird Fabrics. Best fabric ever!
Used the same fabric to make pants Vogue 8909. Made them too short, but they make great pajama bottoms. Had just enough scraps to make a crop top version of Jalie 3352 to complete the pajamas.
November 19, 2016
See below, info about Japanese pattern book "Sewing Talk". I made shirt "n", in size 13, with a full hop alteration, see link here, that worked really well. It kept the nice shaped line at the waist, which I have lost in the past if I just widened the side seam lines. I also added a box pleat to the back which gave some more ease. Those were my only intentional alterations. I traced out the pattern carefully and added seam allowances. The drafting is really beautiful, with nice details on hems and seam edges, very classy. However, once I had made the collar and collar stand, there was just no way that it would fit the neckline, which was much too large. I unpicked the entire yoke (yes, double yoke, sewn burrito style, and already trimmed) but that was not the answer, so I sewed it all back together again. This was only do-able because I had not top stitched the yoke, which I never do because I do not like the look. I measured and measured, but could not find the error on any of the pieces. I ended up finishing the neck with bias, which I actually like very much. Another problem was that the cuffs were too large by about an inch, and the plackets ended up on the fronts of the sleeves, not the backs. That was probably me, but I don't know how. I will have to be very careful when tracing off more patterns from this book.
But all in all, this is a great success. The fit around the neck, shoulders, bust, waist and hips is the best yet. The sleeves are too long by about 3/4 of an inch. Because this shirt is shorter, I know that I will wear it more than Burda 6908. I and sewed the buttons on this one (did them by machine on the Burda shirt) and the hand sewn look much nice. And again, the Liberty lawn is a dream to sew and wear.

Nov. 7 Burda 6908 in Liberty lawn complete. Wow! what a wonderful project! I used double fabric for interfacing and it gave the perfect structure and feel. I would never use a fusible interfacing with this fabric.I started sewing with my Singer 201 machine, but went back to my Bernina 1530 as I liked the stitch better on the fine fabric (I used the same Bernina 130/705 H needle with both machines). I had planned to fell the seams, but decided to serge them as that was fast and effective. The hems and buttonholes, etc. all worked like a dream. My sizing is perfect. I have a beautifully made garment in a dreamy fabric. Love it! Do I like it better than the New Look pattern? Yes, I do. Next up will be the Japanese Sewing Talk pattern "n".

Nov. 4. Sewing the Burda shirt in Liberty lawn. This fabric is a dream to sew with! I just finished the two front bands, and I basted with silk thread so that there would not be any shifting. So far, so good!

Nov. 2. I decided to cut into another piece of Liberty fabric, and sew them both at the same time. I bought new Microtex needles size 130 and Mettler thread silk finish cotton 60 at Huckleberry's Fabrics in Comox, and will use my classic Singer 210K sewing machine, so it made sense two work on two similar projects sequentially.
I have made garments from this wonderful book before, and the size 13 fits me very well. The patterns are exquisitely drafted and the instructions, even if all in Japanese, are very schematically clear and precise.

This is the shirt pattern that I will make, "n" in the book.

I traced the pattern from the enclosed pattern sheet, and here are the instructions, on this and following pages.

Seam allowances need to be added as indicated. 1.2 cm converts to 5/8 inch.

I made card templates for the collar and collar stand and cuff, for ease of cutting out.

Oct. 31. Cut out Burda 6908 in size 8 neck, shoulders and bust, and size 12 hip. Hope it fits!
Am using some of my Sharkut cotton lawn, Liberty fabric. I decided to use the least expensive, as a start. What lovely fine cotton, so smooth and stable to cut out. As it is 44" wide, I cut out the shirt and still have about a metre left for another project. Maybe I will use it in a quilt.

October 30. Made a shirt New Look 6266 view A, from cotton flannel from Fabricland, machine washed and dried twice for maximum shrinkage before cutting out. I made size 12 shoulders and neck (fits great), shortened the sleebves 2 inches, size 16 bust (too big, will size down to 14), and size 16 hips in front and 18 hips in back, which are are nice and roomy. The oversize garment that resulted is very cosy and wearable. I really appreciated the attachments on my Bernina 1530, the narrow hemming foot, the overcast foot, the buttonholes and button sewing, that made it all go fast. But I think that I will use my classic Singer 201K for my next shirt, as I think that it has a felling foot that I would like to try for the side seams, and everything in a shirt is straight stitch unless you need to overcast seams that you do not fell. Up next, some of my lovely L

October 12, 2016. Made Jalie 3355 sweatpants and sweatshirt from blue sweatshirt fleece from Fabricland. Shortened the pants by 3 inches, otherwise made from pattern, and they fit great. Will make again in other fabrics, and will look for a better quality sweatpants fabric online. The top is too big around the shoulders, and I did not have stretch ribbing so the neckline and sleeves are just okay. Still wearable and cozy, but needs tweaking to make it perfect. Oh coziness as it gets frosty at this time of year!

Sunday, July 21. Okay, more blue! This lovely fabric is Tiny Striped Linen that I ordered online from Blackbird Fabrics in Vancouver. I have to say that I just cannot get the quality of fabric that I need from my local Fabricland store. I love the staff there, but when I sew I do not get the results that meet my efforts unless I use good quality fabric. I made a Japanese book pattern - view B: Straight Cut Tunic Dress from Happy Homemade Sew Chic by Yoshiko Tsukiori. It is quite full, and if I make it again I will reduce the width of the skirt panels. I preshrunk the fabric, then after sewing, back into the washer and dryer. Embracing the wrinkles of linen!

Monday, June 27. Another blue dress - what can I say, I love blue! This is the same rayon woven that I used for the first iteration of the Gardenia Dress, see below. When I was at Fabricland, I inadvertently bought more of this. I guess it means that I like the fabric, and I do. It is drapey and cool in warm weather. However, it does wrinkle, and shows shine from the iron, although that may disappear when it is washed. I have enough left over for a skirt, then I am not allowed to buy any more. I am not sure that it is very good quality, and I fear that after several wearings and washings it will probably pill.
This dress is the sewing challenge for my Comox sewing group which is meeting on July 11. We are all making Koos design pattern Vogue 1401. The recommended fabric is linen, but I knew that if I used a fabric with that weight and body, then this dress would be wearing me instead of the other way around. At 5 feet 3 inches in height, I have to be careful of lagenlook styles that swamp me.
I cut a size 10 when my measurements indicated 14, and even then I took inch off the bodice and upper sleeve lengths, another 1 1/2 inch off each side seam (hence 6 inches total off  the garment width from bust to hem), then shortened the lower edge by 2 inches.
The review by Ann Smith on PatternReview.com was very helpful to me in planning adjustments.
It is still very roomy, but fits on the neck and shoulders where it is essential. And thanks to the very drapey fabric, it does not look like I am wearing my own tent.
I replaced the front and back neck facings with a narrow bias binding, left off the lower sleeve bands and ties, swapped the front inset pockets for side seam pockets, and most importantly, did not do the two layers of appliqué on the front. My dress ends up being quite simple and not the work of art that Koos designed, but as a result it is a dress that I will actually wear.

Saturday, June 25, 2016. I am in love with blue and white. Amongst the fabrics that I ordered from Fabric.com is a stretch poplin double border print. I cut out Dress A from the book Sewing Talk by Machiko Kayaki which I made in black linen/rayon blend last summer. I will sew that up tomorrow.
I had enough left over to make a top, so just as I did with the ITY fabric discussed below, I cut out a top and sewed it up first to get a feel for the fabric. The top is style S Sleeveless Blouse from Happy Homemade Sew Chic by Yoshiko Tsukiori.  I cut a size 12 at the neck, shoulders and bust, then graded to a size 16 at the hip. I cut the bias binding at 1 1/2 inches wide instead of 1 1/4 inches and it worked excellently. The top, see below, it too big all over, but wearable. I have since altered the master pattern to size 10 at the neck and shoulders, raised the bodice and armscye by 1 inch, and leaving the bust at size 12 graded to size 14 at the hip. The 12 bust may still be larger than needed, but I like my clothes to be comfy. The stretch of the fabric is delightful for wearability.

Thursday, June 23. I had ordered some ITY knit fabric from fabric.com, as when I asked for ITY at Fabricland in Courtenay, they did not carry it and had not heard of it. I have seen ITY at DressSew in Vancouver, but I won't be back there until September. Hence my online ordering from the USA, which entailed many calls and emails from UPS and the paying of $9 in customs duties, so I probably won't do that again. However, the fabric is indeed as lovely as the blogosphere says - soft, drapy, non-wrinkling. But a bit of a challenge to sew. The three fabrics that I ordered are all sold out, so no chance to link here. I decided to cut out another Gardenia dress from an ikat type blue and white print. This entailed some pattern centering, which did work out. From the large leftover pieces, I cut out a Jalie Dolman top 3352, and sewed it up first to get a feel for the fabric. The neckline binding on the dolman does not bear close scrutiny, but that experience means that the dress neckline is much better. So, a pretty good result. The only problem is that the print is too large and busy for my small frame (5 feet 3 inches tall), so I rather look like I am swallowed up in a carpet. But I know that I will wear both garments nonetheless.

Monday, June 19. Here I am wearing the stretch cotton version of the Gardenia dress, on a beautiful sunny day for our quilting guild potluck lunch in Barbara's garden.

June 17 - 19, 2016.  I have made two versions of the Gardenia Dress by Cali Faye. I bought this pattern last year, but by the time that I printed out the pdf, taped all the pieces together, and made the alterations on the pattern, I was burned out by it and did not make up the dress. I sewed it up this year in a size large, with an inch of length take out of the front and back bodice pieces. The first version is a wearable muslin in blue rayon woven fabric from Fabricland. It was a pain to cut out and sew, slippery and writhing as it was, and then I made some errors that I had to unpick, and that was hard on the fabric. As you can see from the photo, it wrinkles, but it is so nice and floaty to wear, and looks rather dressy, so I am happy and will wear it. It fits beautifully, even though the pattern specifies knit fabric with 20% stretch.

For the second version, I used some good quality fabric from Blackbird Fabrics, a stretch cotton shirting fabric. It was a dream to sew with, and although the directions on the webpage say not to tumble dry, I did so when pre-washing my fabric and it came out quite unwrinkled. At 1 and 1/2 metres of fabric, I needed to make short sleeves instead of long, but I like this version anyway. I took 1/4 inch off the sleeve cap, and still I had to put in easing threads to insert the set-in sleeves, I think because of the crisp nature of the fabric. I followed the advice in Coco's Loft blog, and for the second version I removed the sweetheart feature on the bodice (too fiddly to seam) and lowered the front waistline so it does not look like a maternity dress. This one is a keeper as well!

May 15 - 20, 2016. Made a few Jalie patterns. Two versions of leggings 2910 - they fit very snugly so I will size up next time. Five versions of the Raglan Tee 3245, after the first version I shortened the armhole by 1 inch front and back, which raised the neckline and the armscye and really improved the fit, also added 1/2 inch on each back side seam to increase the hip width by 1 inch, around the back. Love this pattern and will make more for sure! Two versions of Dolman Top 3352, without long sleeves. Love this as well and will make more. Made the sports bra (made two versions and binned one) and the bralette, forget pattern number. Jalie rules!!

January 7, 2016. Made the Oslo Cardigan from Seamwork Magazine from Colette Patterns.  This version in a lightweight knit, with some sideways stretch and no vertical stretch, dark blue/black - probably a wool/acrylic mix from Fabricland, but I cannot recall. Very comfortable and I already have plans to make this again in grey velour. I may add buttons to this - but I will wear it first and then decide.

January 6, 2016. Made the camisole version of Jalie 3131. Very comfortable to wear under loose clothing, but not very supportive when shape matters.
January 2016. Jalie bra, fits great. Will make a few more of these.

September, 2015
Self drafted leggings, wow! They fit. Made 3 pairs. Also a pair from a Burda pattern that did not fit as well, and a pair of Marcy Tilton pants that fit so so. Another Alabama Chanin top, this time the basic tee shirt top with long sleeves, in blue cotton jersey. It kind of catches on my hips .  . . but maybe it will be okay if I wear it with my sleek lycra leggings.
August 20, 2015. Sorbetto, sewn from two sided Japanese cotton. French seams and self bias facings on neck and arms.

August 19, 2015. Two more Scout Tees. One in plaid double gauze and one in blue cotton eyelet.

Made two pencil cases for the grand kids, using purchased pattern from Creative Maker Supply Cases from Sew Sweetness. Sewed an apron from double sided Japanese cotton.
August 2015. No pics, but finished a bra and underpants from Jalie patterns. Great! They are comfortable and don't ride up. I will make more of these.
July 22, 2015. Finished another Scout Tee, in a piece of cotton voile that I had in my stash. There was just enough to make the tee and to eke out a neck binding. It does not look like much on the hanger, but it fits beautifully and the fabric has a lovely feel. French seams, except armholes stitched and serged. Sleeve and bottom hems turned twice and stitched. It looks and fits like an expensive piece of clothing.

July 15, Alabama Chanin. I love the "slow sewing" the hand work of Alabama Chanin designs. I made this first project, the A-line top, out of cotton interlock, instead of the cotton jersey that is recommended. Easier to use because the fabric is stable and does not curl along the edges, but heavier and hard to stitch through.
Piecing together the pattern with the help of my light box to match the edges.

The neck binding.

Then I used the rest of the grey cotton interlock to make a knit version of the Scout Tee. Hmm, it is rather large and all the edges stretched when I used the twin needle. I had to take a pleat in the sleeve edge, and it is still very big. I left the bottom edge raw as I could not imagine how to hem it, and it will not fray.

July 12, another cool linen dress. Now it just has to get hot again, not complaining, we needed the rain!

The fabric is Lightweight Linen Chambray in grey from Blackbird Fabrics, an online fabric shop. The fabric cost $20 a metre, and I used 2 metres to make the dress. The only other materials were some grey Aurifil thread, some grey serger thread, and grey embroidery floss that I used to hand topstitch around the edges of the yoke. 

July 9, my greatest success so far! Black linen (bought at Fabricland last month - a mix of some kind, it is a different texture from most linen, does not crease, is a wee bit scratchy, and seems slightly stretchy . . .) made into Dress A from the book Sewing Talk by Machiko Kayaki.
This does not look impressive on the hanger, but looks very elegant when worn. And see how uncreased, after wearing it for 11 hours (!!) in the car on a very hot and sweaty day.

I have had the book "Sewing Talk" for years, and love the designs, but what discouraged from attempting any of the projects because the sizing all appeared to be too small for me. Then I read online that Japanese sewing book patterns have lots of ease because the style for wee Japanese women is to be swimming in their clothes. So I looked carefully at the largest of the three sizes offered, size 13, saw that it was designed for 5'4", my height, and traced out the pattern. By carefully measuring I saw that it should fit, and amazingly enough, the dart point was in the right place and did not have to be lowered. It sewed together beautifully, and fits like a dream. The style and finishing details, although simple, are of very high quality. I feel like I am wearing a $300 dress, and in terms of fabric and make, I probably am. I am now very encouraged to continue on with more Japanese style dresses. I have ordered and received two more sewing books: Happy Homemade by Yoshiko Tsukiori and Basic Black by Sako Watanabe  and some lovely grey linen and chambray fabrics from Blackbird which will work well with the Japanese style aesthetic.

July 2, made Cali Faye Basic Tank in light weight linen. Made smaller underarms, and nipped in the waist. Then too small! So took out side seams, now ok, but still a bit tight under arms. Still wearable.
June 25, 2015. Made the Cali Faye Basic Tank in a heavy weight linen. Cut small shoulder and neck, and large bust and waist and hip, according to pattern measurements. Shortened by 2 inches. Was too big underarms, gaping, and ended up taking in 1 inch under each arm. Still kind of frumpy and next time I need to shape the waist. And still really long, especially in the back. Kind of covers my butt, which might be okay. The pre-washed heavy linen was a dream to sew with.
Update: have worn this with black leggings and it looks good. Call it a success.

Used very fine rayon spandex jersey from Fabricland to make two modified Moneta dresses, nice and loose for a boho look. Really cook and comfy to wear. One dark grey, one dark blue. Then used the same fabric to make two loose elastic waist skirts. The skirts are frumpy but comfortable.

Friday, June 12. Skirt. Used more of the black batiste to make a simple gathered skirt with a wide elastic waistband, Burda Gathered Full Skirt on Elastic Waistband, 02/2011 #105 . Wide elastic waistband 2" wide, cut 2 inches shorter than waist, then 1/2" seam, so worked out to 3 inches less (actual 31 inches), very comfortable.  Made a deep hem, 3 inches doubled, which works really well with the light floaty fabric. This one a success. Made twice the width of the fabric (2 x 52 inches) so very full gathered, but fabric so light that it worked. For heavier fabric would go much narrower width.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Made Scout Tee. Fine black cotton batiste from Fabricland, washed and dried twice first. Size 8 at neck and shoulders, graded to 14 at hips. Fits large, will make smaller next time. French seams throughout, even sleeves. Worked! One inch bias binding was not wide enough for neckline, need to cut 1 1/4 or 1 1 1/2 next time for neckline and sleeves and hem. Next iteration will be smaller, shape slightly at waist, shorter in over all length, gather neckline around centre front slightly, and put binding on outside of garment. Maybe shaped hem, or side spit hem.

Made Butterick See and Sew B5170, the short pull on trousers. Made size L, but cut crotch depth for XL. Fits well, but 1 1/4 allowed for waistband casing too narrow for 1 inch elastic. Next time cut it 1 3/4 inches wide. Need black elastic but the white worked okay. French seams everywhere, even crotch. Worked very well. Black cotton batiste. Added hem facing of 1 1/2 inches to get length desired. Fit well.

July 1, 2015
Made the Sorbetto tank top without the centre pleat, in a crisp fine navy silk that had been pre-washed and machine dried. Hips are too narrow, so I make side slits. Neck and shoulders fit well, so will make this again with wider hip measurement.
Made the Cali Faye tank again in a finer weight linen. Took in the under arms and shaped the waist, then it was too tight, so let out the side seams. Next time will revert back to the first pattern above, with a bit of waist shaping. The lighter linen does not hand as nicely as the heavier weight.

July 2, 2015
Made the Scout Tee again in a heavy cream silk twill, pre-washed and dried. I used the serger for finishing edges before seaming, made turned bias band neck and used the Bernina edge stitch foot for a fantastic finish. Set the sleeves in flat without any easing stitching. It worked beautifully because of the 1/4" seam allowance. Really pleased with the fit and the look - my best make so far.

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