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NEW! Introducing Capital Chic Outfit Designer January 16 2017

I'm very excited to be unveiling a new feature on our website today: Capital Chic Outfit Designer!

The idea behind Outfit Designer is to help you plan your sewing projects using Capital Chic patterns - you can select any dress, shirt or skirt (or any combination of the separates) from either of our collections and choose a colour or upload a photo of some fabric from your stash to create an illustration of how it will look. Click here to try it out.

Capital Chic Outfit Designer

 

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NEW PATTERNS ALERT! Winter 2016 Collection launches today November 18 2016

It's pattern launch day! I'm so excited to show you what I've been working on for the Winter 2016 collection. I know it's been a while coming, so thanks for sticking with me for this long!

Anyway, there are four new patterns in this collection...

Firstly there is a shirt/shirt dress I have named Cuba Libre. This one came about because I wanted a classic blousy silk shirt and couldn't find a pattern I liked. Most shirt patterns I found were very slim fitting and I wanted something much looser to balance out the very fitted high waisted pencil skirts that I think work well on my figure. So here's the result - Cuba Libre is super-loose with pockets and pocket flaps on the front, a nice big collar with a collar stand and proper cuffs with tower plackets.

Capital Chic Cuba Libre

 

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Simple Dressing Gown July 07 2016

Of course, I wanted a matching dressing gown for my Carolyn night shirt. I decided on something that was easily made without a pattern as I wanted to get it finished as quickly as possible. This Kimono-style dressing gown is therefore made from rectangles and L-shapes sewn together.

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Carolyn Pyjamas – as a Night Shirt July 02 2016

Hi everyone! I made some nightwear/loungewear recently and wanted to share it with you. I have been coveting the Carolyn Pyjama pattern from Closet Case Files for quite a while and finally got around to doing something about it.

Carolyn comes as a pyjama top with long or short sleeves, plus pyjama trousers or shorts. I chose to extend the top into a night shirt (because that’s just how I roll), and it worked out beautifully.

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SALE: 25% off patterns with discount code this holiday season November 27 2015

It's that time of year again - and if you're like me, that means a flurry of last minute sewing to fit in just one more party dress in time for that last party of the year.

As a thank you for your custom, take 25% off any pattern purchases from now until New Year's Eve with the discount code: HAPPYHOLS15

The discount code is valid for any Capital Chic Patterns purchased between now and 31st December 2015 (add the pattern(s) to your basket. Apply the code after pressing the checkout button, on the same screen as you enter your billing address - before you get to payment method).

Browse Patterns HERE!

Thanks for your support in 2015 - and happy sewing!

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Cosmo Sewalong: Rouleau Loops October 31 2015

Rouleau loops have a reputation for being really difficult, and yes they are a little bit fiddly, but as long as you have some patience, you should be able to do it without too much stress.

I use the old-school needle and thread version to turn mine, but if you have a fancy loop turner thing, go ahead and use that. I'm demonstrating the old school version here because I don't believe a loop turner is an absolute necessity.

The first thing to do is fold your bias strips in half lengthways and sew a seam down the middle. When you come to the edge, turn your strip so the seam goes off the edge (the cut edges, not the folded edge). This makes a funnel shape which makes for easier turning, I've found.

Important: leave really long thread tails. Like, the whole length of the strip, long. You need them for the next step.

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Cosmo Sewalong: The Zip October 28 2015

Hola! Today I'm going to be covering sewing in the zip and finishing the bodice edge at the top of the zip.

I'm not going to go through inserting an invisible zip in detail, but it's the same as for any other project. The zip is inserted in the side seam, and then sew the side seam below the zip as you would normally. My favourite method involves stabilising the zip edge with fusible interfacing, but you'll have to make that call based on your fabric. You'll want to insert the zip so the top tooth is about 3mm below where the lace joins the bodice.

Once the zip is in, you'll be attaching the lining at the zip edge by machine. To do this, first pin the top edge of the dress (the lace edge) to the dress to keep it out of the way. I've actually folded/rolled it up a bit to keep it away from the zip and out of the way.

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Cosmo sewalong: The leg slit variation October 26 2015

OK, I'm going back to step 2 of the instructions, which is about attaching lace trim to the skirt hem edge.

It's fairly straightforward in the instructions, featuring a split at the centre back so you can walk. For my red version, I made a walking slit on the front left above the left knee, and I'm going to cover how to do that in this post.

First, decide on the position of your walking slit and how deep it's going to be. I placed mine right above my left knee and a little longer than the slit that's marked at centre back. I actually measured it out with a tape measure on my body to make sure I would be comfortable with the length, as a lot of leg will be visible ;-)

I began by trying to make the shape of the leg split with the lace trim, scallop edge facing down. I tried to use the shape of the scallops to make the curve as far as possible.

Once I was happy with the position, I cut into my trim, around the flowers, leaving overlapping edges where the pieces joined each other.

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Cosmo Sewalong: Applying the lace trim October 23 2015

Welcome back, sewalongers. Today we are going to be attaching our lace trim that we made to our bodice.

Pin the trim onto the bodice, matching the top edge of the lace with the top edge of the fabric/lining.

Note that it's important to start and finish sewing the trim on, 3cm from the end. This is to allow for the zip insertion (which will be covered in another post).

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Cosmo Sewalong: Making and shaping your lace trim October 20 2015

Welcome to the first in this sewalong series for the Cosmopolitan dress.

Since this is a mini-sewalong, I'm only going through the more tricky parts of construction here on the blog. I'm going to assume you've had no trouble selecting your fabric, identifying your size, cutting your pieces out and assembling the fabric parts of the dress and the lining as far as the end of step 1 in the instructions.

To best explain the lace techniques I'll be using, I'll be tackling the next few steps out of order, specifically I'll be leaving step 2 until later, so go ahead and skip to step 3, which is to baste the lining to the dress along the top edge.

I'm going to focus on step 4 in this post which involves making the lace trim for the bodice. The instructions call for 4m of 6 to 9cm lace trim. If, like me, you can't find a lace trim to match your fabric, you can use lace fabric to make your trim instead, which is what I'm going to show below. If you've got lace trim (lucky you) it's the exact same process after cutting the strips.

First, study your lace fabric and work out how the pattern repeats. You'll have to decide where to cut based on cutting strips between roughly 6 and 9 cm wide. Here's what I did with mine:

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The Little Red Dress: Announcing the Cosmopolitan Mini-Sewalong October 15 2015

I hadn't realised the power of the Little Red Dress (LRD) until I made this: this is the Capital Chic Cosmopolitan in pillar box red crepe.

I made this last year in advance of the By Hand London Christmas party and it's been my go-to dress all year long for events, parties and nights out.

It has a slight modification from the published pattern - I made a raised section over the left knee in place of the centre back slit for walking.

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Swan Shirt: Bellini collar adaptation October 05 2015

It's been a little while since I spotted this swan collar by RED Valentino. (It's unclear to me whether Diane Kruger is wearing hers with a trench over, or whether they made a swan trench at some point, because I couldn't find any evidence of one online).

Here's a picture of the dress I think she's wearing, but I can't be sure.

 

Anyway, I thought the swan collar looked like a lot of fun, so of course I decided to try making my own version using my own Capital Chic Bellini shirt pattern, which already has several collar options which are ideal for embellishment. 

Based on the scallop shaped collar, I drew a swan head shape. (If you already have the Bellini pattern - you can download my swan collar pattern here if you want to try it).

It was a tricky shape to cut with a rotary cutter but I managed!

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It's All Going Swimmingly: Maison Fleur 8101 July 22 2015

Greetings, sewists! I bring you another chapter in my saga of sewing sportswear - this time it's the brand new Maison Fleur 8101 halter neck swimsuit.

I bought this pattern on the day it was released as I had been looking for the right pattern to expand my collection of one pieces. I love them, but they are generally too short in the body for me (a common problem), making them a bit uncomfortable. I figured a properly fitting one piece would be a great asset on my recent trip to Portugal, so I got started straight away.

I used leftovers from the Bombshell suit I made a couple of years ago for my trip to Kenya - read all about it here.

This fabric I think is intended for dancewear, so it's perhaps a bit too thick for a proper swimsuit. Certainly with my Bombshell (above), with its multiple layers, it was too thick to go into the water and was restricted to sunbathing/posing only...

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Ski White Russian! April 16 2015

I'm a bit late posting this as the pictures are from a few weeks ago, but here it is anyway... I made a ski White Russian!

I confess that I decided to do this after seeing a superb snowboarding White Russian by Aimee at Guild of Goods. When I saw her pictures I was like, why didn't I think of that? Such a great idea! I'm a keen skier and WR is so obviously suitable for sportswear as well as pure fashion. Aimee made a really fun applique based on the motif of her home town of Rochester, NY. For mine, I decided on a snowflake (cause I'm such a special snowflake) as a geometric, not too girly motif that suited snow wear. I started by drawing out the shape of a snowflake on the computer - that meant I could tweak it as much as I wanted, and easily copy and paste it another seven times to make a completely symmetrical snowflake.

I printed it and traced it onto tracing paper.

You can see it didn't quite fit onto two pages, so I had to copy/paste one corner which I added to the other page... haha!

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Sewing Sportswear March 19 2015

It's not often you see me in sportswear, but I do make an exception for one week a year. For last month's ski trip, I wanted to raise my game a bit in terms of ski style and purchased an entirely new outfit in my new colours of navy and fuchsia.

Here's me out showshoeing in my new togs.

I did feel a bit disappointed when checking out the opportunities for matching base layers; of course, the most obvious choice for me would be to make something. But where to start? I wasn't aware of a huge amount of sportswear patterns or fabric out there, but it turns out, there are several options. I settled on the Fehr Trade Surf to Summit top for my base layer as it's designed specifically for sports base layers, running tops and that sort of thing. I have seen several versions pop up in the blogosphere, but it was Winnie's white version that really sold it to me.

Anyway, after consulting Melissa for some fabric advice, I ordered some samples of breathable jerseys, and decided on this fuchsia Tactel from Tia Knight. It's nothing like the colour shown on the website, the colour is much nicer in real life, and was a decent, if not perfect, match for my new salopettes. It's really stretchy too.

Taping and cutting the pattern was absolutely no problem and I finished it easily during an episode of 'House'. I cut the XS based on the size chart, lengthening the torso 3cm above the waist (totally standard for my figure) and I added about 5cm to the hem to be on the safe side. Having a long torso means tops that are too short are a particular pet hate of mine.

Next came a decision about the stitching. I wanted to try 'flatlocking', like you see on RTW sportswear, and I had heard it could be achieved with only a regular overlocker (not coverstitch). Half an hour of googling later and I had a pretty good idea about what to do; in the end it took an hour fiddling with the overlocker and some samples to produce a passable flatlock.

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Pinstripe Pattern Puzzle February 03 2015

Are you guys reading Studio Faro’s blog, Well Suited?

These days you can find it at www.studiofaro.com/well-suited, but it’s just moved there from http://studiofaro-wellsuited.blogspot.com.au/ where you can still see a full archive. A ‘Pattern Puzzle’ is posted on their facebook page every weekend, in which readers try to guess what the garment looks like just by looking at the pattern pieces, and the solution follows on the blog. They are often fiendishly difficult puzzles, though the solutions are often surprisingly straightforward. I love it! Recommended reading for anyone interested in how patterns work.

Anyway, once I found this blog a few months back I had a good read as far back through the archives as I could. My favourite pattern puzzle was this one from May 2014.

I believe the original inspiration for this skirt was Donna Karan, but it’s been lost in the mists of time. But, HOW good would this look made up in pinstripes? I decided to draft up my own version to find out.

I split up my skirt block as per the diagrams and ended up with the following pattern pieces (note the grainlines):

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Champagne Hack: Go mad with trims! January 22 2015

Here's another quick and easy idea for hacking the Champagne skirt into something different: trims!

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Champagne Hack: Sporty Scuba Skirt! January 16 2015

Happy new year, sewists! I'm back after a short pause with a quick idea for hacking the Champagne skirt into something a bit sportier.

All I did was to shorten the skirt front and back pieces. This changes the proportions of the skirt significantly.

I actually shortened mine all the way to where the lengthen/shorten line is marked on the pattern pieces. That made it pretty short! I would say this is about as short as you'd want to go (for the sake of decency!), but who am I to dictate? Go as short as you dare!

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Bellini Sewalong: Finished Projects and Linky Party! October 09 2014

We made it! Well done to everyone who sewed along and I hope you found the detailed instructions useful.

Here is how my blouse turned out. I'm rather pleased with it!

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Bellini Sewalong: Buttons and Buttonholes October 01 2014

We’re almost finished! Just the buttons and buttonholes to go!

The first thing to do is to mark the position of your buttonholes on your blouse front. But how do you decide where to place them?

Here’s an overly complicated diagram to show you how I do it. This is in mm (not inches sorry!).

a = the diameter of the button

b = the spacing between the holes in the button

c = the size of the buttonhole

d = length of the centre front of the blouse from collar to hem.

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Bellini Sewalong: The Machine Rolled Hem September 29 2014

Today I’m going to show you how to make a machine rolled hem or ‘pin hem’. This will make a really narrow hem finish for your blouse. I will be demonstrating this without a rolled hem foot, but of course, if you have one, go ahead and use it.

So, let’s get started. The first step is to sew a row of basting stitches 11mm (1/2”) from the bottom edge of the blouse. Set up your machine to sew 11mm (1/2”) from the edge with the longest stitch setting and sew all the way from facing to facing.

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Bellini Sewalong: Finishing the facings September 26 2014

Finishing the facings is really optional, but mine were starting to fray already, so I decided to finish them. I chose overlocking, but there are several different ways of finishing this raw edge that you could choose, including pinking or zig-zag stitch.

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Bellini Sewalong: Side Seams September 22 2014

Today we’ll be sewing our side seams using the French seam technique we learned when we made the shoulder seams. Since I already covered French seams, I’ll be skipping through this quite quickly. If you want a refresher on this technique, it’s here.

First, place your blouse the right way out and line up the side seams, WRONG sides together.

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Bellini Sewalong: Binding the armholes September 22 2014

Today we’ll be working with our bias strips that we made earlier. You should have two strips, 3cm by 40-45cm, cut on the bias grain. If you haven’t got these, you should cut them now, referring to this step of the sewalong which tells you how to do it.

First thing to do is to press your bias strips in half lengthways, without stretching them.

Yes, of course, I made a video to show you how to do it. Here it is. Hope you are finding these useful.

 

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