Monday, 16 April 2018

Transitional sewing

I’m back with my second blog post in as many weeks, I might almost be getting back into the swing of this making and blogging lark.  Today’s make is yet another Sew Over It pattern, my fan girl status hasn’t diminished in my months away from sewing.  This is the Alex shirt from the city breaks e-book, I’ve made this as both a dress and shirt before although the only sightings of them on the blog are in last years me-made-may photos.

The first time I made this, as a shirt, I made a size 14 and it swamped me and eventually I donated it to charity as I never felt comfortable wearing it.  The dress that I made in a size 12 gets worn a fair amount though. So having got the sizing nailed, I decided to make this version in a gorgeous cotton voile I bought from Sea Salt Cornwall.  I didn’t even know they did fabric until Marie from a stitching odyssey posted on Instagram about her purchases during their last big sale.   Thanks Marie, my stash is 15m up thanks to that piece of knowledge!

The fabric felt beautiful to work with and the pattern came together more easily than the previous viscose versions that I had made.  This feels like a real seasonal transition piece, both because of the item but also the fabric, the coloured leaves are quite autumnal but the colours are so bright it’s like spring (which is going to show up in these parts some time soon right?)  I started this shirt shortly after receiving the fabric back in January/February and got about two thirds of completed and then reached the button stage and realized that I had no idea which box my buttons were living in (I think the house will be in moving chaos forever).  However, luckily by the time I had unearthed my buttons and finished the shirt, it’s still seasonally appropriate which is not what usually happens with my UFOs!

 I’m spending a lot of time considering my style and wardrobe at the moment and I’m happy to say that this shirt and outfit feels like a ‘me’ look!  The only thing I’m pondering is if I maybe need to slim down the sleeves a little as they feel quite baggy at the top-maybe an alteration to put on the list for my Me-Made-May challenge (more on this coming soon). 

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Getting my sewjo back

Hi anyone who is still reading these pages, its been a long time since I had anything to say here.  I’ve had a fairly insane 6 months or so, I finished my doctorate, went travelling (to Japan, I may blog about this later because I bought a lot of fabric), started a new job and moved house!!! It was all pretty intense and all my sewing stuff was in boxes for all of these months.  When I was away, this bothered me a lot less but when I got back I realised how much sewing had been part of my everyday life and there was a big hole there! It's felt so great these last few weeks to be able to do some actual sewing rather than just imagining I'm sewing which is all I've been doing for the last few months.  I found that really stressful as I was creating all these projects in my head and couldn't achieve any of them!

However, some stuff has come out of boxes and I have been able to put together some bits and pieces over the last month and I thought I’d relaunch my blogging with my latest Sewcrafty design team project.  When the lovely Sewcrafty ladies reached out at the beginning of the year to see if I still wanted to be part of the team this year, I obviously said yes, despite the fact that at this point my sewing machine was still in a box!  Clearly the practical part of my brain shuts down around any sewing related decisions-obviously this is what happens any time I see a new pattern or go fabric shopping as well!

Anyway as Sewcrafty had this gorgeous poly-viscose mustard crepe in stock I decided this was what I was going to use for my first project.  This is a bit of a departure from my usual fabric choice, I usually pick natural fibres and lean towards ALL THE PATTERNS.  However, I really liked the colour and I think my wardrobe would benefit from a few items in a solid colour.  I did not regret my fabric choice, this fabric was such a dream to work with, quite stable but lovely and spongy so stitches, even my awful hand stitches, just sunk in.
I used Butterick 5478 top pattern, from the 1970s, as my base because I had made it before and thought it would work well lengthened into a dress.  I also keep seeing dresses with big belt details around and have been wanting to make one for a while.  A lot of dresses in Japan were like this, I guess inspired by the Obis worn with Kimonos which were really beautiful.  I made mine by doubling the width and length of the pattern belt and I interfaced the whole thing as I wanted it to have quite a bit of body and dramatic folds. 

The construction of the dress was all fine except for the collar/neckline which I somehow managed to completely fluff, twice!  I think I may be a bit jinxed with this pattern as last time I made it (in a cotton and silk blend) I managed to melt it by getting bleach on it, literally seconds after I had finished making it! Anyway after I had failed to make a functional collar twice and had a series of major swearing sessions, I decided to make a change and make some bias binding to finish the neckline and create some tie closures.
In the end, I'm really pleased with this dress and I love the fact that I feel like I'm returning to sewing and blogging with such a 'me' dress.  Even if there are no patterns in sight, the 1970s style means I'm at least sticking true to form!  Also having worn this dress a few times, I don't find it's as sweaty as other poly fabrics so maybe there's just the right amount of viscose in there to allow it to breathe.  Perhaps I shouldn't be quite so prejudiced against all poly fabrics!  Actually Sew Crafty also have this fabric in a wine red as well and I'm quite tempted to get some of that too!
A big thanks to my lovely friend Dominika for taking the photos!  I'd forgotten how annoying I find getting blog photos and she was so good at ensuring she had taken some decent shots, in good lighting and that I didn't have my eyes shut in all of them!
Thanks for reading.

*The fabric was supplied to me free of charge by Sew Crafty, all opinions are my own.

Friday, 29 September 2017

And it's a wrap!

And with that incredibly unoriginal title, today I have a Sew Over It ultimate wrap dress to show you.  I was given this pattern, along with the vintage shirt dress for Christmas 2015 and I really don't know why it took me so long to get round to making it!
This is actually my second version of this dress. I made my first version back in May. Any of you who follow me on Instagram may have spotted it in my me-made-may photos. However I just didn't love this version, the neckline was too wide, leaving my bra straps on show and making it seriously boob-y. I also felt the fabric made me look a bit like Minnie Mouse! In my recent moving house clear out, it got donated to the charity shop. I always kind of hope that I'll spot someone in my local area wearing one of my me-mades that I've donated. Anyone had this experience? 

On my previous version I'd lengthened the bodice but on this one I brought the neckline in by about an inch and a half on each side and then gradually tapered it down to the waist. I also obviously added a lot of length as I've been dreaming of creating a wrap maxi dress all summer. 

I used a light weight cotton jersey from Girl Charlee. Although it's quite thin, it didn't do that irritating curling at the edges thing that some thin jerseys do. I also love this print. Construction was pretty straightforward. I used my overlocker for a lot of it and the rest on my sewing machine. This is one of the first garments I've made since getting my new walking foot for my sewing machine and it's made such a difference. I'm really pleased with how all the stitching has turned out. 

I've got the boob coverage sorted but I think if I was going to make another maxi version, I'd probably widen the skirt pieces at the bottom as I flash my legs all the time.  Flashing my calves to the world is not exactly a problem but I think it would sit a bit better with slightly wider skirt panels. Ideally I would have made it a little longer too, however, I did not have enough fabric to make any of these changes on this version , there were only minuscule pieces left once I had cut it out.  Anyway, while it's far from perfect but I'm really pleased with it. 

I wore it on a super geeky trip to Friends-Fest recently and it turns out its perfect for jumping in and there were no flashing issues-perfect!

Friday, 1 September 2017

The year of the sleeve

I love the funky sleeves that are everywhere this year and finally hopped on the bandwagon.  I used the Sew over it Ultimate shift dress pattern as a base.  This pattern is a great base for hacking and adding flares to as its such a simple design.

I used a cotton/viscose crepe that I'd picked up in Misen fabrics on Goldhawk road.  I love the colours and drape of this but it is a total bastard to work with.  Because there's a serious crinkled texture to the fabric it has a lot of excess built in and as a result this top has ended up fairly large on me.  I have about 5m of this fabric left and think it would make a really gorgeous robe but I'm not sure I can face working with it again for a while.

I cut the top version of this pattern out as normal except that I cut the sleeves off at the elbow and made it up instructed.  To create the flared sleeves I simply cut panels the width of the fabric and eased them in to the sleeves.  This has created a lovely swishy sleeve that I am enjoying flapping around in.

Having finally made some jeans that fit, I am enjoying the whole 'jeans and a fancy top' look for a night out.  Get prepared to see some more tops in these parts!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Being a fangirl

Sometimes I feel like this blog is basically becoming the place where I express my love for Sew Over It patterns.  Some days I feel like I should mix it up but, I warn you, today is not going to be one of those days!
I've had the silk cami pattern pretty much since it came out.  I even got round to printing at the time and then it sat in a my pattern drawer for ever, not being made up.  When I caught the end of the Liberty sale and picked up a couple of single metre offcuts, I knew it was time to break out this pattern. I cut out a size 14 overall even though at the bust the sizing showed that I would be a 12. However, I have had problems with the arm scye on a number of patterns so I decided to make the 14 overall. Turns out this was a mistake. At the top there's too much fabric. I love this top but need to decide if I can be bothered to remake the top, taking it in a bit so there's not quite so much excess fabric. 
Last month was the monthly stitch's fourth birthday and as I'm a sporadic contributor, I thought I'd like to enter something.  As the theme was 'four' so my cami with it's four pattern pieces seemed like it fit the bill perfectly.  However, in my current late to the party style, I missed the deadline so I'll have to post it as an amnesty make at some point.
I made my first pair of Mia jeans  back in April and while I love them and have been wearing them pretty consistently, there are some fitting changes I wanted to make for the next version.  There's lots of chat in the sewing world about how sewing helps with body confidence and while I love being able to make clothes that fit me properly and suit my shape, I would argue that actually sewing has made me more aware of how my body differs from others.  For example, i now know that while I have a long torso, it's the length from my neck to my waist that's longer, whereas the length from my waist to my crotch is actually proportionally short!  Hence the first alteration that I made to the jeans, which was to remove some of the length from crotch to waist.  The other alteration that I made was to make the trouser legs considerably longer as my last pair came up seriously short on me.
While I'm pleased with the alterations that I made, I did make some errors which I will need to rectify on the next version. I forgot to move the marking for the zip end so I have one very short opening to my jeans which means that they require more shimmying than is elegant to get them on and off. I forgot that my sizeable rear end needs quite a bit of fabric to cover it so I think I took a bit much out of the pattern at the back when adjusting. Also I think maybe the pocket placement could do with being moved down a smidge. 
These items have pretty much been on me or in the laundry since I made them. These photos were taken on a trip to the Isle of Wight and stood me in good stead and I'm heading off to Japan in October and I think these are going to be the base of my holiday wardrobe!

Monday, 31 July 2017

Another shirt dress. Testing the Mayberry.

In my seriously sporadic blog posting I'm back, to bring you another shirtdress!  Shirtdresses have been EVERYWHERE in the sewing world this summer. I guess it's partly been fuelled by #Sewtogetherforsummer but anyway it's a craze I am happy to jump on bandwagon with. So when Jen of Jennifer Lauren handmade put out a call for testers for a shirtdress, I speedily signed up!

The pattern calls for a floaty fabric, however I had this awesome, not so floaty stretch cotton, which came from fabric godmother which I wanted to use so I went with that. I reckon that if, like me, you've got a cotton in your stash that you think this dress would look awesome in, I'd say go for it.  It actually helps the feature, off-centred front to stand out I think.  However, the bodice will stand out slightly from your body, I guess that's your own judgement call. 

This was my first experience of testing for Jen and I was really impressed by the standard of the pattern and instructions at this stage. I think most people had a similar experience with the tester version so there haven't been many changes made from the tester version.  This is one of Jen's first patterns with multiple cup sizes and I found this to work really well.  I cut a size 12 and C cup for the bodice and graded between a 12 and 14 for the skirt.  For this version I also added 4cm to the bodice, this is fairly standard for me as I have a long torso but I didn't take any length out of the skirt to compensate and the dress falls to above my knees.  I'm 172cm/5'7" so this is just something to be aware of if you're fairly tall.  A change I didn't make on this version was to lengthen the bust darts, personally I find them a little short, its really not a big deal, I only realised they were bugging me after I'd been wearing the dress for a while but I think I'd lengthen them on a future version.

The off centre neck/overlap is such a nice feature and was really easy to achieve. The buttons I used are some which I'd recycled from a moth-eaten, vintage cardigan that I'd gotten rid of a while ago. I think they work really well with the fabric, and somehow can get lost and look a bit fancy at the same time. I used a navy ribbon for the waist fastening.  I should probably mention that the dress has pockets which I totally failed to get a picture of but they're definitely there.  To be honest, I know everyone raves about pockets in dresses but I really am not a massive fan.  On the rare occasion when I remember I have them and actually put something in them, the dress gets all lumpy and lopsided.  I might rebel next time and not include them!

I really like this dress, I think it's super practical and fun too.  While I took these photos ages ago, I've been wearing this exact outfit all day (except with a cardigan over it as the UK hasn't decided to fix on a season at the moment!)  I definitely think I'll make another slightly more wintery version with longer sleeves.  I love Jen's versions in solid fabrics, which allow the off-centre front to stand out.  So, you never know, I may break the habit of a lifetime and opt for a plain fabric for next version!

Friday, 28 July 2017

A long time in the making!

Today I have two projects to share that have been a really long time in the making.  The first up is a Sew Over it Vintage Shirt dress which is my latest Sew Crafty Design team project.  However, I ordered the fabric for this months ago and have only just got round to making it.  It's been a super busy few months and I'm happy I can now celebrate the end of them with a new dress.

This is made in a dashwood quilting cotton from the altitude collection at Sew Crafty.  This is a really gorgeous range of cottons which are perfect for a dress like this.  For years I mainly bought cottons like these as they are so easy to work with and come in amazing patterns and colours.  Then I moved away from them to other fabrics as I expanded the range of what I could sew and my stash was surprisingly low in this kind of fabric.  I really must rectify this as I do really enjoy working with them.

This is my fourth version of this dress (I really love this pattern) so I have the fit changes sorted by now, although I did have a few other changes that I made. I hadn't ordered quite enough fabric so I made a couple of adjustments; I made the shirt a smidge narrower and made the sleeves short rather than 3/4 length with a cuff.

I then ventured out into the rain to take some photos which was much rougher on my photographer than on me, so thanks Nini.

The Julia cardigan was circling the blogosphere a few years ago and when I checked my harddrive, I've had it stored for 2 years without ever getting round to printing the pattern and making it.  Part of the reason for my lack of action was the difficulty in finding the right fabric.  I really didn't want a polyester cardigan which ruled out a ponte or something similar.  Also as I really feel the cold, I wanted something with a wool content rather than just cotton.  Anyway, a few weeks ago I found the perfect black wool jersey in my local fabric shop and as my trusty RTW black cardigan has started sprouting holes, it felt like fate!

Cardigans and jumpers are still the items that I've made very few of and don't see all that many patterns for, but I'm so excited I finally found the right combo!  This is such an easy pattern to put together and so speedy, I cut it out one evening and by lunchtime the next day, I had a new cardigan.  The only thing I don't like about the instructions is that is isn't clear that so much extra fabric is needed for the doubled over cardigan and I did not have enough fabric to do this.  It's not a big deal in this black fabric as very little is visible but in another fabric I think I'd prefer to have the doubled over collar.

So although the weather in the UK is grim at the moment, its still too warm for this cardigan really, which is perfect as it means the wool is doing its job.  Winter Alexa will thank me.

These items are my entry for one of the monthly stitch indie pattern month challenges  and I'm so pleased with my outfit.