Friday, 22 January 2016

Happy New Year!.. and a brief/not so brief round-up.

Happy New Year to everyone! Plans for taking part in Gillian's Top Five posts have fallen by the wayside, although I have really enjoyed reading everyone else's lists.  I couldn't resist a quick round-up though so here goes.

2015 was a more productive sewing year than I expected really.  There was a lot of children's clothing sewn this year, for Harris and for others. Not all of this made it to the blog, something I'd like to remedy this year as it's a good way to keep a record of what I've made, especially now my memory seems to be worse than ever! My most used patterns were definitely the See Kate Sew Recess Raglan,  made here, here and here, and the Oliver + S sunny day shorts, made here.

So, what about the adult sewing? Well there were only a few unsuccessful makes, and an unexpected hit. Without a doubt my most used, and well-loved pattern is the Plantain tee from Deer & Doe. I've made 5 versions so far and have no plans of stopping anytime soon. My first three definitely got me hooked.  The red dress version, which I thought was such a hit, turned out to be a bit sheer for my comfort levels so has now been shortened to a top.  The tester dress, in a cheap turquoise fabric, has turned out to be a real hit. I wear this at least once a week. It just goes so well with tights and boots, is really comfy, and doesn't need ironing - what more could you want in a winter dress!

I've made 3 out of 6 of the items on my Autumn/winter sewing plans which I think is a pretty good success rate! So first up, let's talk about the 2 knit items I've made so far - Plantains #4 and #5.

At the Science Musem, wearing my Plantain dress, and unintentional colour co-ordinating with my son!

Has anyone else had the problem of twin-needle hems on knitted garments snapping? I have had quite a few things where the stitches have come loose or snapped and it's a bit frustrating.  Instagram is brilliant for asking for help though and Portia came to my rescue, suggesting using wooly nylon thread in the bobbin to help the stitches stretch.  When my wooly nylon thread arrived I got started on my lovely John Kaldor print jersey dress (fabric from The Man Outside Sainsbury's). I sewed this up the same as my previous two plantain dressed, though now I wish I'd made the sleeves slightly longer (after seeing Beth's gorgeous Mesa dresses). The fabric was so nice to sew with and the neckband looks really neat as a result.  I know this isn't a great photo to see the dress and I do aim to try and improve my blog photos this year! And the wooly nylon thread? Well I'm pleased to say it worked a treat. I wear this dress at least once a week, sometime more if I can get away with it, and the hem stitches are all still in place.

Deep pink plantain neckline detail

Deer & Doe plantain t-shirt

I made another pink t-shirt as my first one (my first make of 2015) had to be consigned to the textile recycling bin due to bobbly fabric and a hole. Nothing much to say about this, I used the wooly nylon thread in the bobbin again for hemming, it only has 3/4 length sleeves as that's all the fabric I had, and this will get lots of wear too - now that I finally got matching thread to sew the hem.  Walthamstow may be great for fabric but there's nowhere to buy  good quality thread - until that is, I discovered the Hobbycraft nearby.  No more procrastination because I don't have the right coloured thread!

I've got a bright pink Brumby skirt all finished up and ready to wear. There was a LOT of unpicking with this make but it's all been worth it as it looks great. I'll get some photos soon.  Next up? The navy Maya top from my A/W sewing plans and a second Brumby skirt.

Wow, well that wasn't exactly the quick post I planned! I hope I haven't bored you all. What are you planning for 2016? Or do you prefer not to have a sewing plan? I'd love to take part in the Vintage Pledge in 2016 and Me Made May but first up, Kids Clothes Week next month - yay!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Autumn/winter sewing plans

Ah back to the lists again! When I posted my summer sewing plans I kind of thought they were quite ambitious and yet, here I am, doing the same again. What can I say, I like lists! The summer list had 10 items on it and I got 3 finished. Those 3 items have already had a lot of wear though so I'm happy with that. I made my Marilla Walker sailor top, Dress 'D' from the Stylish Dress book, and the geometric Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank. I also made other items not on the list - two VERY quick jersey pencil skirts and a Victoria Blazer which had been a work-in-progress for about 2 years - all of which have quickly become favourites.

Woven fabric sewing plans

So, onto my Autumn/Winter sewing list.

Woven fabric  - clockwise from top right: Navy geometric fabric (from my summer sewing plans) now destined to be a Marilla Walker Maya top; the blue/beige & brown/orange prints were both lining options for the bottom left - a gorgeous terracotta/brick coloured wool or wool blend that is going to be a full length, long-sleeved, Victoria blazer. I've decided to go with the orange/brown print fabric as it matches so perfectly (so now I need a project for the lovely pale blue/brown fabric which I think is a voile). Last but by no means least top left is a lovely pink twill to be made into a Brumby skirt.

Jersey fabric sewing plans

Jersey fabric - clockwise from top right: The navy and burnt orange jersey are going to be combined to be a Jalie drop pocket cardigan. The purple and purple printed jersey are going to be Plantains. I just can't decide whether to make the printed fabric into a plantain dress or just a top, I need to have another feel of thickness of the fabric to decide if it's suitable for a dress.

And that's it, ha! If I even get two of these things done I'll be happy so we'll see how it goes. What are your autumn/winter sewing plans, or spring/summer if you're in the Southern Hemisphere?

Monday, 12 October 2015

Dress 'D' - Stylish Dress book



This Japanese pattern book was a lovely spontaneous present from my husband, just because he thought I would like it.  He was right and I've looked and dreamed of making up the pattern since he gave it to me about 2 years ago. When I was pregnant there were a few smock top and tunic styles I thought would be good but of course I never got round to them.  However a trip to Merchant and Mills in Rye on a weekend away with pals a few months ago led to me coming home with 2 metres of dark blue chambray, perfect for a version of the dress shown on the cover. I am so pleased with the finished dress, I've already worn it 3 times since I finished it last week which is a sure sign of success!

First wear, a trip to the local park

My Dress 'D', Stylish Dress Book

Sleeve close-up of my Dress 'D', Stylish Dress Book

I love the style of this, and have seen so many great versions, particularly on Instagram (if you search for #stylishdressbook lots of versions of Dress D come up). I also admired Louise's versions and these versions - it seems to be a pattern people love to make multiple versions of!  What do you think of this style? It is very loose-fitting and billowy, a style I don't usually wear, but it's so comfy and I think it looks pretty stylish too. Have you sewn with any Japanese patterns?


Pattern used: Dress D from Stylish Dress Book

Size cut: S

Fabric: Dark blue chambray at £7 a metre from Merchant & Mills, bought 2 metres. I still have enough left for some toddler clothes too, yay!

Issues/changes I'd make:

  • As you can see in the image above, the instructions are pretty sparse! Now when, like me, you're used to the detailed instructions, photos & sewalongs most indie sewing pattern companies treat us too, this can be a bit intimidating at first. However I did find that the diagrams provided helped a lot and there were only a few moments of head scratching.
  • Next time I would go down to an XS to make it less billowy & lower the neckline as it's already a bit higher at the neck than I'd like.  
  • Both my front & back facing pieces were too short. I couldn't work out why as I checked and I'd definitely traced the right size & added seam allowance. Luckily it wasn't much of a gap so unstitching the facings and using a smaller seam allowance gave me enough room.
  • Add length if I make this again. There's a nice deep hem on this which I wouldn't want to sacrifice but I would like a bit extra length so I'd need to add this on.
  • The pocket placement seemed a bit off to me. They seem to be placed really far to the sides and I wasn't sure about the look of this. However I've realised maybe that is the style as I've seen a few high-street tunic style dresses with side patch pockets recently.
Cost: The pattern was a present and the thread was left-over so the total was £14 for the fabric.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Victoria, Victoria


My first jacket! I may not look too happy about it here but I really love it! This is the Victoria blazer by By Hand London. I cut the fabric out almost 2 years ago so this blazer has been a long time coming!

In order to finally get this made I took a day's annual leave from work and spent the whole day sewing - and it was bliss! The fit on this is great, I've got room under the arms (something I often struggle with when sewing up tops and sleeved dresses) and I like the width of it.  However when I finished this I really wasn't too sure how much wear I'd get out a cropped blazer. I'm pleased to say I've surprised myself by how often I've worn this. I think it goes with jeans & skirts & I chucked it on yesterday as an extra layer in case the sun disappeared so it's going to be quite handy for autumn.

The outer fabric is from The Shop on Cheshire street, London - a brilliant shop full of vintage fabric. I'm not sure what the fabric is but it pressed beautifully & is very soft, though it frayed terribly! The lining is Liberty, the print is called Dr Tulloch, and I picked up a metre of it in the remnants bin during a Liberty sale. This was my first time working with Liberty lawn and my goodness I can see the appeal, it was really easy to press & sew. I do wish I'd made this full-length now rather than cropped but that'll be my next one.


I'd written up a whole load of notes about this - problems I had, things to do differently next time etc, however I managed to drop my phone in the swimming pool on holiday and there went my notes. Of course now I'm wearing my blazer I can't remember any of the problems I had - does anyone else find that? I really need to start writing a blog post, or write my notes on paper, to have a record of the sewing process.

Has anyone else sewed this up? Did it start you on an outwear mission? I already have plans for the Republique du Chiffon Gerard coat and a vintage jacket pattern I have but first up, another Victoria. I have the fabric already, a gorgeous wine coloured wool blend, and just need to get my lining fabric. I'm going to extend the sleeves to full length and line them. I'd also make the outer fabric slightly longer than the lining as on this one you can see the lining peeking out at the bottom sometimes. In these fabrics I've not had a problem with the lining peeking out on the lapels as a lot of people seem to, probably because both fabrics pressed so well. My next fabric is a wool blend so as it'll be thicker I think I'll play it safe and understitch the lapels. I can't wait to get started on my next one! Thanks By Hand London for such a lovely pattern!

A few close-up shots