Lately I’ve been very interested in zero and low waste patterns. One designer that I’ve been really wanting to make is Liz Haywood. She has come up with some really ingenious ideas over the years and I just made my first one! It is The Smith Pinafore Dress; a low waste pattern.
Here in the states (Liz is Australian) this is what we would call a jumper, a collarless and sleeveless dress that one would wear a top underneath.
When I first bought this pattern it was for curiosity because I just didn’t think I would like or half-way look good wearing this type of garment. In all my long years, I’ve never owned or worn anything that closely resembled an overall. When I finally decided to make this piece, I told my oldest daughter, Michelle, that she would probably get this because it seemed so much more her style than mine.
Wow, was I surprised. I love this piece! I can simply change a top under it and throw on a different pair of Keds for changing up the look! Needless to say, Michelle is going to have to make her own (don’t worry, she has the pattern too).
Describing the Pinafore/Jumper
Liz’s description of this piece is perfect and I couldn’t do a better job, so here’s what you will read when you go to her ETSY shop, The Craft of Clothes.
“The Smith Pinafore dress is a low waste pattern; the pattern pieces form rectangles which can be cut to leave convenient-sized pieces for other projects.
The pattern comes in 12 sizes, from an 87cm/34″ bust/chest to a 142cm/56″, and can be made in bigger sizes if needed. It can be made any length.
It’s designed for traditional heavy-weight non-stretch (rigid) denim. It could also be made in canvas or heavy cotton drill. The fabric can be any width.
The clean, utilitarian lines hide excellent pockets in the front seams, which are also the pinafore’s closure. The centre front and back feature a slot seam.
The fit is roomy enough to wear a jumper/sweater underneath and can be made slimmer by simply running in the side seams.”
The Front View
This jumper is a fairly simple A-Line shape although I think it has a small flair to it. It has been very comfortable to wear in our hot and humid Mid-West summer weather. I matched it with a very old Chico 3/4 sleeve V-neck 3/4 length tee that has a green/brown shade to it and a new pair of organtic cotton slip-on KEDS.
The Side View
The side view-The side panels are made up of two pieces for a total of eight pieces to create the pinafore. Liz does mention, that you could cut the front and back on the fold. But, that would mean that there would not be any slot seams (more about that later).
And Finally, the Back View
The back view, is a duplicate of the front. I did do something different with my pattern in regards to this. As I have full bust, I always draft darts into my clothing, if the pattern does not have them. With this pattern, that was not possible. However, I made the center front 1 1/2 inches longer that the center back, curving the front hem up to the side panel. This helped somewhat-I still think the front is a tad shorter than the back. I don’t think it is too noticeable.
Making The Pattern
OK, you don’t really need the tape, but my Hedge Hog tape dispenser was just too cut not to include.
When you order The Smith Pinafore from Liz Heywood’s Craft of Clothes shop, you will receive a link to download a thirteen page instruction booklet. This does not include a pattern that you have to print and tape together. Rather, it gives you very clear instructions on how to draft your own pattern. This is such an easy pattern to draft! It needs just a few measurement and a few lines; all if them straight.
My Fabric and Notions
My fabric is a twill weight made up of 50% recycled plastic bottles and 50% organic cotton. When I saw this yardage on ETSY from Libby’s Fabric. I’m grabbed the last four yards but there are some other colors left. There is especially a mustard yellow I love.
The overall hardware is from Amazon because they were the only place I could find the right width of buckle. They came without instructions and small nails that made no sense to me. Fortunately, I was able to sew them on, That part was very frustrating.
Making a Slot Seam
I learned something new with this project because I had never heard of a slot seam, let alone make one. Simply, a slot seam is a seam with a decorative slit formed by bringing two folds together and stitching them onto an underlying piece.
Never having done this before, I took extra precautions. First, I sewed the slot seams up normally but with a longer stitch (like a gathering stitch) that could be easily removed. Next, I basted the backing securely in place and finally, I did the top-stitching. After my pinafore was finished, I carefully removed the long machine stitches. This probably sounds like over-kill but better safe then sorry.
A very boring picture, but this is what the back of a slot seam looks like with the extra strip of fabric. This also shows that, like the pattern instructed, I serged all seams (with one exception). This is the first time that I serged a woven garment completely. But with as thick as this fabric was, it probably was the best method.
If you do not like top-stitching, this is not a project for you. However, my feeling is that It’s what makes this garment look really sharp. Double rows of top stitching is used throughout. There’s not much thread on one a spool of top-stitching thread (30 meters). I was on my second spool of Gütterman’s 520, which they call “Wheat.”
This was the first time I used top-stitching thread, which is much thicker than normal sewing thread and specialty top stitching needles. Neither of my machines liked the thread. They did sew it, but I was never completely happy with my tension. But, I guess no one is going to get up close with a magnifying lens to check, so it will do.
There’s not much thread on one of these spools (30 meters). I was on my second spool of Gütterman’s 520, which they call “Wheat” by the time I was finished.
The last thing I want to talk about are the pocket closures. I really thought this was a snazzy idea. They are easy to execute and I love it when a garment has pockets and that they are used for the closure is just very smart.
Snaps are used for the fasteners but my snaps are too small. Probably if I hadn’t covered them, they would have been OK. But, I didn’t want shiny silver and I usually do cover my larger snaps. But, the first chance I get, I will get larger ones (update-I have ordered some pretty cool ones from Italy and am waiting for my Mood fabric order to come with them).
The pocket lining itself is some white cotton that I had in my stash and I dyed it with tea to get a tan color to try and come close to the contrasting thread.
I also like adding little secret things just for me in my sewing. I edged the top pockets with some brown gingham ribbon I had one hand-rather like it.
I couldn’t make myself serge the pockets. Instead I did a faux French seam. I just pressed the seams to the inside the pockets and then stitched around them twice.
Besides the horrible hardware that I bought from Amazon, everything went perfectly with this project.
As I mentioned in my opening, this style was a happy surprise. I wasn’t sure how comfortable I would feel wearing this piece. I know I’m going to have some fun changing it up for different looks and this green has to be one of my favorite tones of green (I have a few). I especially love wearing this on shopping days.
I’ve already been coming up with ideas on other ways to wear my Smith Pinafore. Here’s just a couple. I find that I’m happy with just changing a top and trainers.
I just had gotten home from a lunch planning meeting with my retired teacher unit’s president (I’m education chair) and wore my jumper. I paired a black T-shirt and my triple wall plaid Keds.
When it gets a little cooler, I will team it up with longer sleeves and my natural wool Keds. I’m even thinking about pairing it with a wool sweater, legging and boots for late fall.
And in Conclusion…
I would rate this pattern for an intermediate sewest. My reasoning for this is the initial pattern drafting and the extensive top-stitching that is needed for the style. The instructions were clear and concise and easy to follow.
This was a fun garment to sew. I think zero/low waste garments is one of the ways to practice sustainable fashion because this is (as it says) zero or hardly no waste to the fabric. These kind of patterns take a lot of creativity extra effort to design and I know I will be sewing more in the future.
I have quite a few more of Liz’s patterns and hope to make a few more in the very near future…stay tuned.
That’s it for now.
Take care, sew on and stay creative.