Sparrow sewalong: setting the straps

Setting the straps and finishing touches

We're just about ready to, ahem, wrap up this sewalong! Last time we went over making our waist ties, and today we're going to set the straps before adding the finishing touches.



Turn your bodice inside out. From the inside, slip the straps into the gaps in the apexes of the bodice. Be careful not to twist the straps!


Everyone's measurements are different, so before you stitch the straps in place, it's a good idea to pin them in place and try on the dress. The strap length is generous, so don't be afraid to snip off what you don't need. 


Stitch in place from the inside before turning right-side-out.



Press the seam allowances at the waist attachment seam up onto the inside of the bodice. Fold the remaining seam allowance on the lining to the inside. Pin in place all the way along, with the lining slightly, and evenly, overlapping the seam.


From the right side of the garment, 'stitch in the ditch' from the edge of one front bodice, across the back bodice, and over to the edge of the other front bodice. By sewing directly into the waist attachment seam, you will secure the lining that you just overlapped on the inside.


A neat finish on the inside requires some pretty accurate pinning and careful sewing. Once you're done, check to make sure you have neatly caught all the lining. Personally, I find this method takes some time to master – in fact I still don't think I've got it down. My inside finish is still a little wiggly! If I have a bit of time, I actually prefer to slipstitch the lining closed by hand, but the net effect is all the same, really.


Finally, top stitch around the gap that you left in the side seam to keep it stable. 



You did it! I did it! We made our Sparrow wraps! Here's a quick snap of mine on the back of the studio door. 


I can't wait to take this dress out for drinks! The velvet is so soft and luxurious, and the drape of the dress still works really well despite the choice of fabric. I will definitely do another post with more pictures of this Sparrow in action. 

I hope you have enjoyed sewing together and I can't wait to see all your wonderful creations.

If you have any comments, feedback, or just want to say hi, just drop me a line, I so enjoy hearing from you. And as always, please share with me on InstagramTwitter or Facebook with the hashtags #sparrowwrap #sewingsparrow #sparrowsewalong and #afternoonpatterns 

Sparrow sewalong: making the waist ties

Sewing and attaching the waist ties

It's time to put the waist ties on our Sparrow wrap dresses! If you want to catch up on the last post, you can have a look at how we attached the bodice to the skirt.



Fold your waist tie piece in half lengthwise and pin together. Sew up one short side and down the open long side. Leave the end open and turn right way round. I like to use a smaller seam allowance on the waist tie (about 5 mm) so that it fits more snugly on the bodice edge. 




With the right side of the bodice facing up towards you, flip the lining out towards the top. 


Place the raw edge of the waist tie in line with the edge of the bodice. The width of the waist tie should fit snugly and comfortably within this space.


Fold the lining over, sandwiching the waist tie between the bodice and lining. Pin in place. 


Sew the seam from top to bottom, being careful to stop at the waist seam. In other words, the seam allowance of the lining will overlap the waist seam by 15 mm (5/8"). 




Once the waist tie is attached, you will find that the seam allowance on the skirt front edges curls naturally toward the inside. Press in place and pin. If you are using a light dress fabric for your Sparrow, top stitching this edge will do quite nicely. I opted to finish my dress with slip stitch because I didn't want the velvet to form a bulky edge. 


I also finished my slits by hand from the inside. Once again, this is really not necessary unless you are also making the dress out of a heavy fabric that will benefit from the relative invisibility of a slip stitch.




We're almost there! See you next time for a few finishing touches.

Share your pictures on InstagramTwitter or Facebook with the hashtags #sparrowwrap #sewingsparrow #sparrowsewalong and #afternoonpatterns

Sparrow sewalong: joining the bodice and skirt

Attaching the bodice to the skirt

In the last installment of the Sparrow sewalong, we put the lining into the bodice. Today I'm doing a super-quick post to show you how to attach the bodice to the skirt.



Finish the side seam edges of both your front skirt, and back skirt pieces. I usually favour a quick overlock for the convenience, but a regular zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine does the job just as well.

If you go for a zig-zag overcast on the edge, set the stitch length quite small and the width quite wide. Then play around on a few scraps until you get just the right effect. I actually opted not to finish my edges as the velveteen I'm using doesn't fray at all! Yay!

Place the skirt back right side up in front of you, then match the skirt front pieces all the way along the side seams. Pin in place and sew, stopping at the slit markings. 


Press the seam allowances open. The seams are slightly curved around the hip area so it can be helpful to spread the seam allowances open on a tailor's ham to get a better press. 

Press the seam allowances open at the slits, too. We will get to securing these later. 




Place the bodice self in front of you with the right side facing up. Match the skirt piece to the bodice along the waist edge, with right sides together. 

Check that the side seams line up neatly. Pin the darts so that they fold towards the sides of the garment, and make sure the seam allowances lay flat and open. 

Keeping the lining well out of the way, pin in place and sew the waist attachment seam. 


Press the seam allowances up toward the inside of the bodice. Trim and grade the seam allowances all the way along the waist attachment to reduce bulk, just as we did when we lined the bodice.




That's all for today! Share your pictures on InstagramTwitter or Facebook with the hashtags #sparrowwrap #sewingsparrow #sparrowsewalong and #afternoonpatterns

Sparrow sewalong: lining the bodice

How to line the bodice

Our dress is starting to take shape, and today we are putting in the lining! If you missed the last post, have a look at how we put the bodices together.



Before we get to the lining, let's prepare the straps.

Fold the strap piece in half lengthwise with right sides facing. Then, using the crease as a guide, fold the edges in towards the middle. This part is a bit like making bias binding!

Finally, fold the strap in half entirely so that the raw edges are enclosed. Pin in place and stitch close to the edge. 

My strap ends up quite chunky because of the nature of the velvet, but a light rayon or georgette makes for a very light and dainty strap!



Place the bodice self in front of you with the right side facing up. Lay the straps onto the bodice, flush with the upper edge at the placement marks. Pin in place to keep secure while you work on the next step. 


Match your lining to the bodice self with right sides facing each other. I find it helpful to offset the lining by a few millimetres. Once it's sewn, this helps it to roll toward the inside of the garment.


Sew along the upper edge of the front and back bodice, skipping over the tops of the shoulders where the straps will go in later. 


Grade your seam allowances (essentially, trim them to different lengths to reduce bulk in the seam), and clip into the curved edges so that the edges of the bodice turn out smoothly. 

I usually find that a gentle press is enough to keep my lining on the inside of the garment, as below. 


However, the weight of the velvet makes for a slightly more bulky neckline, so in this instance I am going to understitch. Understitching is essentially sewing very close to the seam line, attaching the lining to the seam allowances as you go. Make sure that the seam allowances are pressed towards the lining on the inside. 


From the right side, stitch through the lining and the seam allowances, close to the attachment seam. Nice and tidy!




Now our Sparrow is really starting to look properly three dimensional!


I hope you're enjoying the process! I'd love to see how you're getting on – you can share on InstagramTwitter or Facebook with the hashtags #sparrowwrap #sewingsparrow #sparrowsewalong and #afternoonpatterns

Sparrow sewalong: sewing the bodice

Getting started and sewing your bodice

We've done a lot of prep work so far, and sometimes it can feel like sewing is mostly just puzzling over bits of paper. But now we're finally getting some time at the machine! Let's get going on the bodice. 



Create the darts by matching the markings and folding the fabric right sides together. Start at the lower edge of the bodice and gradually taper your stitches to the marked apex of the dart for a neat finish. 

Gently press your darts towards the side seams. When working with velvet, I try to apply steam only as pressing the pile can result in little shiny patches on the outside of the garment. 


Trim the dart level with the lower edge of the bodice piece. 



Bring the first notch down to meet the second and pin in place to create your first pleat. Make another fold by bringing the third notch down to meet the last. 

Baste in place using large stitches. Usually this is done so that it's easy to remove the basting later, but I find that if I baste well within the 15 mm (5/8") seam allowance, I can just leave it there. 


Create the darts and pleats for both of your front bodice self pieces. 



Lay one of your bodice pieces right side up in front of you. With right sides together, match the side seam of the back bodice with the side seam of the front bodice. 


Remember, we are leaving an opening on the left side seam! Pictured above is the right side seam, so sew this seam in its entirety and gently press the seam allowances open. 

Once the seam allowances are pressed open, there will be a little bit that you need to trim in order to get a nice even curve between the front and back bodice pieces. 


Sew the left hand side seam and leave open between the markings. Backstitch a little at the opening points to keep the thread from unravelling. 



Now we repeat the whole process for the lining! Sew the darts, create the pleats, and attach the back bodice to the two front bodice pieces. 


You'll end up with two bodices; one in the self fabric, and one in the lining. Next time, we'll go over how to put the two together.




Let us know how you're getting along on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #sparrowsewalong #sparrowwrap #sewingsparrow and #afternoonpatterns

If you want to catch up on what we covered last time, have a look at our previous post

Sparrow sewalong: cutting out

Laying out and cutting out your pattern

In this installment of the Sparrow sewalong, we're going to be putting scissors to fabric. Last time, we went over the fabric requirements and chatted a bit about sizing. Let's keep going!



First up, we're going to match the selvedge edges of our fabric edges and fold in half, with the right sides facing towards each other. The selvedges of the fabric are the edges that look like tightly woven bands running down the sides. The grainline runs parallel to the selvedge on woven fabrics. 

Lay out your pieces on your fabric according to the pattern layout for the size you have chosen and the width of your fabric. The pattern layout in the booklet is a one directional layout – the pattern pieces all face the same direction.


The one directional layout is great for my fabric, because I'm working with this pink velveteen which has a nap. The nap is the direction of the pile; you can feel it when you stroke the surface, one way feels smooth and the other feels bristly. The colour of a napped fabric can also be quite different in each direction. Usually the colour is more lustrous when the pile is smoothed flat, but much deeper and richer when the pile is brushed and standing up. 

Pay particular attention to the pattern layout if you're working with a nap, as the direction of the nap needs to be the same on each piece. The same goes for a fabric with a strong pattern – you don't want some flowers pointing up and others right side down!



Once you're happy with how you've pinned your pieces, you can go ahead and cut your fabric! The Sparrow dress pattern includes seam allowances of 15 mm (5/8"), so you can cut right along the edge of the paper pattern.

Bear in mind that the pattern layout images in the book don't include the layout of your pattern on your lining! So don't forget to cut out those pieces too. 




I got my fabric on sale and bought what was left on the roll. Which means I got a bargain (only R80 for 1.5 metres!) but I also inherited a pattern layout puzzle. Essentially, my fabric was not long enough to lay each skirt piece end to end, and not wide enough to lay them side by side. Here's how I solved it.

First off, I laid out my fabric flat, and created a small fold parallel to the grainline – just big enough to fit the back skirt piece. 


Once that was cut out, I was able to fold the remaining piece in half and fit in all the other pieces! Please excuse my well-worn paper pattern in the picture, this one has already been used a number of times!


I was lucky that I wasn't relying on my velveteen self fabric doubling as my lining, otherwise it would have never worked! So if you're also cutting a size A, and using different self and lining fabrics, you might also be able to get away with less fabric. I always err on the side of caution when giving fabric requirements – there is little more disheartening than not having enough fabric.



That being said, just as I was patting myself on the back for a puzzle well-solved, I had a rather nasty run-in with my own carelessness. I merrily cut out all my pattern pieces only to discover that I had cut two of the same bodice piece, instead of reflecting it before cutting. You will notice above that the bodice piece had to be cut twice using my method of laying out. This fate will not befall you because you are likely more switched on than I, and hopefully following the instruction booklet and cutting both pieces out from a double layer of fabric. Do what I say, not what I do!

Anyway, after a brief period of madness and despair wondering how I could rectify the situation (I felt it was irretrievably bad), I decided to soldier on and patch together the second bodice piece. I am hoping that given the wrap-over nature of the dress, most of the sinful patchwork will be hidden. It does mean that my bodice will have to wrap right over left (opposite to how the dress is designed) but more on that later. 

I was horrified at my mistake and very tempted to try to gloss over it, but in the interests of full disclosure, there you have it. We all make boo-boos from time to time.



Lastly, using tailor's chalk or a dressmaker's pen, take note of the pattern markings on the paper and transfer them to your fabric pieces. This includes all dart markings, pleat lines and notches. I'm old fashioned and like to do this with chalk. It dusts off nice and easily when you don't need the markings any longer.




Right! I hope your pattern cutting was much happier and less eventful than mine! Next time we will start stitching our Sparrow.

Show me how you're getting along on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #sparrowsewalong #sparrowwrap #sewingsparrow and #afternoonpatterns

New here? Have a look at the first Sparrow sewalong session.

Sparrow sewalong: welcome!

Welcome and introduction to the basics

Hello and welcome to the Sparrow sewalong! Join me as we dive into the details of making Afternoon's latest pattern: the Sparrow wrap dress. It's a lovely, easy-breezy make for summer, featuring a full wrap-over bodice and skirt, side slits, and a low back. 

I'll be posting more detailed pictures and explanations of the sewing process, so I hope that this sewalong will guide you and inspire you to sew with confidence. 



To start, let's go over the basics to make sure you have everything on hand before we get started in earnest:

  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric scissors
  • Dressmaking pins
  • Tailor's chalk or fabric marker
  • Sewing thread (make sure it matches the fabric you've chosen!)
  • Measuring tape
  • A big table for laying out your pattern and cutting (a clean floor is just fine if you're short on a good table)

I love this pattern because it honestly only needs the good ol' fashioned basics. The dress is designed to close using ties that feed through a slit in the side seam. No buttons, no zips, no fuss.



Here's what you'll need for your dress:

Self, either:

  • 2,5 m (2 2/3 yds) of 1,5 m (60") wide fabric, for all sizes, or
  • 2,4 m (2 2/3 yds) of 1,15 m (45") wide fabric, for sizes A–C, or
  • 3,4 m (3 3/4 yds) of 1,15m (45") wide fabric, for sizes D–F

Lining, either: 

  • 0,5 m (2/3 yd) of 1,5 m (60") wide fabric, for all sizes, or
  • 0,5 m (2/3 yd) of 1,15 (45") wide fabric, for sizes A–C, or 
  • 0,9 m (1 yd) of 1,15 (45") wide fabric, for sizes D–F

Lightweight dress fabrics like rayon challis, silk or crepe work best for the Sparrow wrap. The softness really shows off the draped neckline to its full effect. Choose a fun, printed rayon for something beach-ready, or go for a beautiful silk for an elegant evening look. I really like layering the Sparrow wrap over a t-shirt or polo neck for a chillier day, so have a look in your wardrobe to see if you can make it work over a number of combinations. 

For this sewalong, I'm going to try to make a more wintery Sparrow dress using this luxe-looking velveteen. It's a little left-field, as the fabric is slightly fuller than I would recommend for a floaty wrap dress. But I'm keen to see how it turns out! 

I wouldn't usually opt to line velveteen dress as the fabric is pretty thick and opaque. However, this is a sewalong, so it's important for the process. And I also have this great Liberty cotton which matches so beautifully and will be light and comfortable against the skin.


Once you've found a fabric you love, it's always best prewash it. Most natural fibres shrink in the first wash, and there's little more devastating than only getting one wear out of a new dress! 



Afternoon uses an alphabetised sizing chart. I think it's easy to become fixated on a preconceived idea of your body size, when the only really important thing is that your clothes fit you... and you feel great in them!

Most people will fall across sizes, so it is usually best to choose your size based on your largest measurement. The logic here is that you can always tailor it in a little bit, but once you've cut your fabric, there's no sizing up!



Now for the slightly laborious task of collating the pattern. For added convenience, the Sparrow wrap comes with the option to print on A0 paper, as well as the usual A4 and Letter sizes. So if you can get down to the copy shop to print out, I highly recommend it!

As always, please remember to select "actual size" when you print (or remind the assistant at the print shop to do so) so that the pattern prints at the correct size. Measure the test square to double check the accuracy of the print before you start cutting your fabric!

If you're using the print at home A4 or Letter size pattern, snip along the frames and assemble the pieces row by row, matching A1 to A1, A2 to A2 and so on, keeping in mind that A is the top row, B is the second, etc. Once they're all in order, tape the pieces together, cut your size out and you're ready to start stitching!



We've laid some solid ground work for the next step in our Sparrow sewalong.

In the meantime, show me your fabric selections! You can share on InstagramTwitter or Facebook with the hashtags #sparrowwrap #sewingsparrow #sparrowsewalong and #afternoonpatterns



It's not too late to join! Head over to the online shop here or on Etsy and pick one up. 

Cosmos bralette workshop with Create.Hobby


Afternoon has partnered up with the lovely Create.Hobby in to bring you a fun, approachable bra-making experience. The Cosmos bralette is the perfect sewing pattern for beginners looking to make their own underwear. It features gently shaped cups, a soft underbust elastic and adjustable straps – perfect for soft, everyday support. 

If you've ever wanted to learn how to make your own bra, this is the workshop for you!

Join Create.Hobby for a morning of creativity at their charming studio in Observatory. Their awesome facilitators will take you through each step of making the Cosmos bralette, and will also show you how to make a pair of knickers to match!


Date: Saturday, 26 May 2018
Time: 9:00–13:30
Venue: Create.Hobby studio, 142 Lower Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town
Cost: The workshop costs R550. For an additional R360, you get a printed Cosmos bralette pattern by Afternoon, and all the materials you need. (Alternatively, Create.Hobby will send you a fabric list and you can bring your own.)


Please email to secure your spot! Check out their Facebook event for more details.

Sewing and Self-Love


One of the beautiful things that sewing can do is help you fall in love with you. This month, as we celebrate love in its many forms, here are 5 reasons to fall in love with sewing... and then yourself. 

1. You're okay

No, really, you are. Learning to sew gives you the strength and perspective to know that you're okay the way you are. You make the rules. Fabric and thread will bend to your will. Space for bum! Room for thighs! It's pretty empowering stuff.

Sewing your own clothes means that you don't need to fit anyone else's idea of size or beauty because you determine that for yourself.

2. You can do it

Sewing awakens you to your own capabilities. Trying something you find intimidating (like making your very first dress!) makes you that little bit braver. It gives you the guts to just go for it. Sure, you might make mistakes but we can learn from those. There really is nothing to fear about failure. 

3. Perfect is over-rated

Sewing teaches you to embrace imperfection. Sometimes I make something doesn't fit well, or looks shit on the inside, or seems less accomplished than a shop-bought dress. But I know that it will be better next time. Believe me, we are all our worst critics. Don't be too hard on yourself.

4. You do you, boo

Sewing celebrates our diversity. It gives you the tools and confidence to build your own, totally one-of-a-kind wardrobe that fully represents who you are. And there is nothing quite like being able to say Damn straight, I made it myself!

5. Show you care

Right now, clothing is made for a throw-away culture. The love and effort that goes into making your own clothes sensitises you to the process of creation. It truly makes you appreciate what you wear everyday, and the people that sat at the machine to make it. I really think that there is little more valuable than seeing your place in the world, and realising that you really can make a difference, no matter how small.




Fern sewalong: sewing the cuffs

Finishing touches

You're almost there! Our Fern shorts just need a little finessing before we can show them off! Today we're going through how to hand stitch the waistband and finish the hems with a lovely cuff. We'll end off by whipping up a quick belt for the waist.


Handstitching the waistband

Fold the waistband in half lengthwise, toward the inside of the shorts. Fold the seam allowance to the inside along the zip edges. Pin in place to keep your fold stable while you work. 


Now you have pinned a neat and tidy zip edge, but we still need to attend to the raw edge of the waistband all along the inside of the shorts. Fold the raw edge up towards the inside of the waistband, so that it's hidden inside the top of the shorts. Pin in place. 

Attach the waistband to the shorts using slip stitch. To slip stitch, catch the fabric of the waistband with a tiny, tiny stitch, then catch the fabric of the shorts repeatedly until secure. Be careful that your stitches don't show through on the right side!

Now for the cuffs!

Turn your shorts inside out. Fold your hem to the inside along the marked cuff fold line. Note that you make the fold on this line. In other words, don't just bring the edge of your hem up to meet the line. Sew in place. 


Turn your shorts right way around. Now, cuff the hem up by 3cm. Ta-da! 


Stitch in the ditch at the side seams. This should be enough to hold the cuffs in place for most crisp trouser fabrics. If you're working with something a little softer, you may want to sew all the away around the edge to make sure the cuffs stay up. 


Making the belt

Join the belt pieces on the short end.

Now fold the belt piece in half lengthwise, pinning it together. 


Sew close to the edge of the fabric to maximise the width of your belt. Leave a gap in your stitching in the middle of the belt before you continue to the end. 


Turn each side of the belt right side out. I like to use the head of a knitting needle for this bit, as it prevents the risk of poking a hole in your work!


Close the gap in the belt with a few slip stitches. 


Before you can use your belt, you just need to attach the remaining end of the belt loops. Double fold them on the top to hide the raw edges and run a line of stitches across the top to attach.



You made it! I hope you had a wonderful time making your Fern shorts. Please show us what you've made on InstagramTwitter or Facebook using the hashtags #fernsewalong, #fernshorts, #sewingfern and #afternoonpatterns