The pile of shame aka the fickle sewer

I, like many other sewers have work in progress projects (WIP). Sometimes projects get shelved and they end up in my WIP pile. Often they are shelved because I’m avoiding a tricky sewing technique or more likely I’ve gotten distracted or worse I just can’t be bothered to change the thread in the overlocker! Yes I am a terribly fickle sewer. When a project gets shelved it either ends up on a pile or it gets shoved under the table my sewing machines are on with the thought that ‘I’ll get back to it soon!’.

Getting set up for my first sewing of 2017 I noticed to my horror that the pile is now so big it’s difficult to sew as bits keep falling on top of the foot peddle and I can’t get my legs under the table! Alright I’m probably exaggerating but it’s definitely gotten out of hand (a bit like my fabric stash!).

I decided it was time to have a sort out and delved into the pile. I discovered a few things I didn’t even realise I’d started and it was at this point I realised that I need to start working on my WIP stash.

So here’s what I finished this month …

I think the pattern was the BHL Charlotte skirt made up in a grey pinstripe wool that was gifted from my Mum’s stash.

The skirt needed a bit of hand sewing which was very therapeutic. I find it a good task whilst watching tv like pinning seams or taping together PDF patterns.

If I’m honest I don’t remember much of the construction although the darts are at weird angles which I think was an adjustment for fit at the time. 

Having finished and worn it the skirt is a little on the snug side for me these day but it looks smart and it’s a great addition to my work wardrobe. If I can find the pattern I might make another with a tad more ease around the bum!

Now the confession is over I’m hoping I can keep up finishing items to get the pile back down to a more sensible level! I’ll keep you posted!

SOI Silk Cami – #2017makenine

I was lucky enough to snap this up in the Black Friday sale last year as I’ve fancied it for a while. Although it’s fairly basic I think it will be perfect for working towards my capsule wardrobe resolution for 2017 so that I have more full outfits that are me made instead of parts of outfits.

Having made a few SOI garments I know their block is based on a much taller person than my 5 ft 2 in so I took 2 inches out of the length of the body in 2 x 1 inch sections. I then just graded the side seams into a smooth curve.

I cut it out in some left over viscose from a Walthamstow visit. It has beautiful fluidity and I knew it would allow me to test it before making it up in all the beautiful fabrics I got for Christmas from my family.

The final look is fairly loose but I think that’s the style. I love it tucked into skirts and on reflection I think the neck line suits me better than my normal higher style. It’s something I’ll look at in future makes.

The construction is easy, although it has an interesting method for sewing on the facings in an all in one method. I confess I left out the French seams on the side seams but they would be a nice finish in future versions.

A few options for my next one …

That’s two big hits from my #2017makenine. I hope I can keep it up and make a few more items soon.

Sew House Seven Toaster 2 – #2017makenine and #sewmystyle

Given I’m pretty rubbish at sticking to challenges I’ve been pretty ambitious this year and signed up to 2! I’m hoping that now the wedding and honeymoon are over I should have more free time where we’re not planning and coordinating that can be spent sewing. Both of these challenges as I’ve spoken about before are helping to work towards a fuller wardrobe of clothing that is me made and this pattern is no exception. Eventually I’d like to have an almost wholly me made closet!

Jumpers are definitely a huge hole in my existing wardrobe. I’d never heard of Sew House Seven patterns until signing up to #sewmystyle but I bought the versions 1 and 2 combo pack for the toaster as I think both will be great! Plus this winter the weather has me dreaming of nice snuggly jumpers!

I have some beautiful wool Jersey which I bought in Japan and is destined to become a toaster sweater but in the meantime I wanted to test it in something from my stash. I have very few stable jersey knits which is what this pattern calls for so ended up opting for this lighter weight jumper style fabric. I’m afraid I’m pretty rubbish with the different names for knit fabrics. The fabric looks like it is knitted together rather than a solid jersey fabric and it’s something that’s been in my stash for well over 10 years. I’m not sure where it came from or what it was intended for but it’s been sat in my stash a little forlorn as I couldn’t see any possible use for it.

I went for size small and didn’t make any alterations however I noticed after I had cut out that the knit fabric had been stretched out on the carpet and subsequently shrunk when unpinned. I think I lost an inch in length on the body and the sleeves. I normally cut out on a wooden floor so this is something I’ll watch for in the future when cutting out on carpet! Given it was a test garment I ploughed on regardless.

The construction is nice and easy. It’s the first time I’ve done a split hem and the instructions make it so straightforward and neat. I love the mitring on the corners! I ended up sewing the hem by hand as I think the fabric calls for an invisible hem but regardless this jumper can definitely be made in a day and is suitable for a relatively new sewer given its for stable knits. It also only has 3 pattern pieces which makes for quick cutting out!

The final fit is good and although initially unsure I really like the look of it. I am currently happily snuggled up in it as I type and am looking forward to adding a few more to my wardrobe! Given I like the current length of this version I will have to measure up against the pattern and decide if any length needs to come out of the pattern before making up my next version.

I absolutely love this pattern and if I don’t end up liking any of the other #sewmystyle makes I don’t mind because this jumper was worth it! Now to find some more fabric to try out option 1…….

SOI Molly Tops extravaganza

Yes that is me with a big grin because I have bicycles on my top!

When SOI announced their City Break e-book I was initially sceptical. I wasn’t immediately drawn to any one pattern although the Lola coat did tempt me. But the more I thought about it the more I got hooked! The idea of a capsule wardrobe is not something I’d really thought about as I generally like to just make whatever I feel like but like so many sewers before me I’ve started to notice my random collection of things I’ve made just don’t go together. The drive to prepare for our honeymoon to Japan in November gave me a real incentive to start thinking about capsule wardrobes and so I bought the e-book and haven’t looked back. So far I’ve made 2 of the projects and have another 2 part made which now we’re over the excitement of Christmas I’m hoping to get back to some serious sewing.

My first successful make from the collection was the Molly top. Having now made 7 in total I find it a versatile staple. Depending on the weight of the jersey it can be a jumper weight or T-shirt weight and can be tucked in to skirts or worn over jeans.

The style is more relaxed than I normally go for but as a result it’s exceedingly comfortable and there are no real fit issues.

The detailing of the sleeves adds an a extra twist and is great fun made in stripes. The only real problem I’ve had on any of the seven was the hem on my bycicles top as you can see!Sadly the French terry weight fabric has distorted whilst sewing the hem but it hasn’t stopped me wearing it as it can just be tucked in and hidden away.As you can see I love this pattern and I’m planning on making a few more. Most of these were made using fabric from Fabworks. Although it can be tricky buying fabric over the internet the quality and range of jersey fabric at Fabworks is great and the prices are pretty amazing too. I’m still hoping to be able to catch one of their Tuesday bundle one of these days!

The links to the fabrics I can still find on their website are:

Floral, lemon and white stripe, the pale lilac marl and the nude marl. The lilac marl is a beautiful weight and comes in a range of colours, I’ve also got the avacado and the blue ones lined up for future projects! Sadly there is none of the stripe left but they have a range of other great stripes if your interested in a Breton style top.

I very much hope SOI will release a similar style ebook in the future as this was a real winner for me and has opened a whole new way of thinking about sewing.

The pattern itself is straightforward and a great starter for any new sewers wanting to get into sewing with jersey.

I’m also wondering about making a few more as pyjama tops in the future. Thanks Lisa and the Sew Over It team for another great pattern! Hold tight for my review of the Lola pattern which is an even bigger winner in my books!

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Little Bee skirts

In my mad rush to make a new wardrobe for my honeymoon in Japan back in November I turned to a skirt I’ve made a few years ago. The Little Bee skirt is a straightforward and free pattern. Great for people wanting to get into sewing. It has simple fit and includes an invisible zip and darts which are great basic skills for a new dressmaker. 

Apologise for the terrible photo, I’d worn the skirt all day so it looks a little crumpled. Overall it’s a great wardrobe staple, it’s not my sexiest piece but it’s practical. My only mistake was using silky acetate lining which means the skirts swivel as I wear them. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to stop this?

Finally here’s a photo of me sporting my green spotty version about to go on our first bullet train. They are amazing, if only UK trains were so quick, efficient and tidy!

Sew Over it Trouser course – Carrie

I bought this course the first weekend it came out because I desperately wanted help on fitting trousers. Excitingly it was the day before my wedding back in June! Sadly once getting it I then continued to put it off due to sewing fear.

I finally took the plunge having seen the beautiful versions my Mum had made and  cut out a basic black pair. 

I sewed them half together and then got frustrated that the fabric creases just by looking at it… Not ideal for trousers! Finally I stopped stalling and plucked up the courage to finish them ready for our honeymoon in Japan in November. Then having finished them I ended up loving them so much I made a second pair. Excitingly I had some perfect fabric from a Walthamstow market trip which reminded me of autumn leaves, perfect for the Japanese Maples. They are literally secret pyjamas!

There isn’t much to say about construction as the pattern is fairly straightforward however sewing in the elastic looked less neat than I expected in both my versions. I think I need to try this again with my next pair.

The online class was great and I highly recommend it. The videos are very clear and there are lots of handy tips. I especially think the videos on the waistband are useful. Having made them I think they’re super quick and straightforward so will probably use the videos only for troubleshooting in the future.

The only thing I’m not sure on is how to style them. I think I need a tucked in top but need to find a few other options. I think I can see a few more of these in my sewing future.

New Years Resolutions and #2017makenine

I’m pretty rubbish at making New Year’s resolutions and generally don’t bother but this year I wanted to make some pledges for my sewing. I’ve been pretty rubbish over the last few months at blogging. We went on our honeymoon to Japan back in November and so I went on a sewing rampage trying to make a new wardrobe of clothing to take with me and then since we’ve been back its been manic with Christmas prep, working late and thank you cards! 

So for 2017 I’d like to start thinking more carefully about the things I make. I noticed huge gaps in my wardrobe during Me Made May 2016 and loved working on a wardrobe collection for my honeymoon so would like to carry that on and work on a more cohesive wardrobe collection where I can mix and match. I will hopefully catch up on blogging all my honeymoon creations soon!

I’ve pledged to join Project Sew My Style in order to work towards this as the aim is to sew a set pattern every month until you have a full collection by the end of the year. I love this because it’s supporting indie pattern makers and also works towards my resolution. It’s also helped highlight a few new pattern companies I’ve never heard of! I might not make all of them as some patterns don’t look to be a silhouette which suits me but I’m going to try and make most of them.

Finally here are my #2017makenine which are a collection of patterns either part of the sew my style or they are Christmas presents or patterns I’ve had for a while and just not got round to yet!

The patterns:

1) Sew Over it Silk Cami

2) Sew Over it Ultimate Trousers

3) Sew House 7 Toaster 2 Jumper

4) Megan Neilsen Virginnia Leggings

5) Closet Case Files Nettie bodysuit

6) Simple Sew trench coat

7) Sew Over It Grace dress

8) Grainline Portside bag set

9) Colette Zinnia skirt
Hope your all looking forward to an exciting 2017!

Fabric choice Part 1

I often repeat use patterns and play around with different fabric choices. The choice of fabric can have a dramatic impact on the finished garment and I thought it might be worth me documenting this in here as a means of critically assessing my choices and helping inform future makes. I also thought other people might find my experiences helpful if they are also considering fabric choices.

I thought I’d start this with the Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress which I have now made 3 times in 3 very different fabrics.

Make 1:

Fabric type- soft cotton lawn in dark green

This was my first version of this dress and whilst it is lovely and comfortable to wear it creases very easily which means lots of ironing but also creasing during the day as you wear it. Therefore whilst a good option for making it wouldn’t be my first recommendation. It has nice drape for the top half of the dress but with a bit of weird bagging.

Make 2:

Fabric type- relatively firm blue chambray with white dots

Being relatively firm this hold a nice shape during the day. It doesn’t crease as badly during wear but it does require a good press dbefore wearing after washing. Due to its weight the dress has a nice smooth shape and you get less weird bagging in the top half. It’s also a good weight for transitioning in not such warm weather like Spring or Autumn. I’ll definitely try and make another one of these for my Autumn wardrobe if I can source some similar fabric.

Make 3:

Fabric type – a silky rayon in navy with abstract polka dots

This is by far my favourite choice, both for wear and shaping. It doesn’t require any pressing after washing and doesn’t crease during the day which is a huge plus for me. It’s also lovely and light for hot weather and super comfy as it just slips on. It has a lovely drape so the top half hangs nicely with little bagging.

All 3 have been successful but my favourite is make 3 which doesn’t require ironing and is lovely and soft and light to wear, especially in hot weather. I will likely make more versions in the same fabrics as make 2 and 3 in the future if I can source similar fabrics.

Kielo wrap dress

There is a new love in my life and her name is Kielo!! I saw this pattern by Named ages ago and if I’m honest was completely put off by the picture on pattern sleeve however I kept falling in love with people’s versions and finally plucked up the courage.

The pattern can be used for a woven or jersey but I decided to opt for the jersey to start with as it is generally more forgiving on fit which is ideal for testing a new pattern. On a recent visit to Walthamstow market with the lovely Lucy from Perle Designs. I bought a light weight tropical print which leapt into my hands when searching through the stash and luckily it has been one of those perfect moments of right pattern and right fabric!

The Named patterns are drafted for 5’8 height which is significantly taller than my 5’1 so I knew some adjustment would be in order. I am also a different size on top to my bottom so was going to look at merging sizes but read a helpful blog which explained you only need the bust to fit and then it’s so loose with the wrap that you won’t have any problems. Phew! One less thing to worry about!

For the length, this is one of the few patterns I have seen with a line for bust, waist and hips. I decided as I am lazy to do a quick adjustment on this first draft which I could then refine later. So I measured roughly from my shoulders to each point (I.e bust, waist and hips) and then compared it to the pattern. The bust looked spot on but I needed to take an inch out of the length to the waist and the rest out of the skirt. I did the most basic adjustments by drawing a line across perpendicular to the grain, cutting and moving the pattern pieces so they overlapped. For the skirt part I did a series of them 6 inches apart for each one. I then redrew the side seam line using a ruler to link up the arm hole to the hem.
The dress is easy to sew with few pieces and could definitely be a good beginner dressmaking pattern. The only stumbling block I had was that my jersey fabric was very lightweight and is not a type of jersey I have worked with before, normally I prefer more stable knits like Scuba or Ponte. Being so light it was prone to curling under but heavy pinning and slow and steady sewing meant there was only one unpicking incident.
Having tried it on I decided that due to the style of knit and the level of drape that I would take the level of the armhole up but this literally involved me sewing in the same line as the original stitching just for an extra inch beyond the pattern markings. I also don’t own any knit bias tape and opted to just go for a turn and sew approach (jersey is literally so flexible for decisions like that unlike a firm woven).

Otherwise I made the pattern as is in the instructions. Honestly I am now addicted as the dress looks pretty stylish but feels like secret pj’s and has the flexibility of adjusting after a nice tasty big meal. I have never made a Named pattern before as they are styled for tall skinny women but in this case I would say if your interested…. Go for it! I’m so excited about this pattern and am hoping to make at least one more before heading abroad later in the summer and also want to try a shortened woven version. Now to decide on fabric choice!