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

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Jersey pencil skirts

In the past few years - read, since having a baby and losing all time to iron clothes/select outfits/look in the mirror before leaving the house - I've grown to love jersey pencil skirts. They make me feel put together and slightly dressed up without having to think about it.  I just pick out a nice t-shirt or tank top and that's me sorted. In the winter they'll work with tights and a sweater as well so they're pretty much a win-win in my book.

B/w skirt, worn with tank top (top of maxi-dress)
Worn here with my new Tiny Pocket Tank

These two were both re-fashions, though not exactly taxing ones. The black and white one was a short-sleeved dress from H&M that was too short and kept riding up. I just cut it off under the arms and then added elastic. Easy peasy! Now it's longer and doesn't ride up, plus it was a double layered fabric so no transparency issues to deal with.  The pink/purple jersey was once a tiny pocket tank maxi-dress. I wore it loads when I was pregnant but the fabric was just too heavy really and I kept having to re-hem it as it stretched. Plus as it was heavy it meant it was also pretty warm, too warm really, so I haven't worn it much this year. I decided it would get more wear as a pencil skirt. This was a quick and dirty re-fashion - I simply laid the b/w skirt on top, drew round it with a coloured pencil, remembering to include a seam allowance, cut it out, turned it right sides together and stitched, then added an elastic waist. I even re-used the original hem so this was another quick make.  Not wanting to waste the top half of the dress I took a bit off the length then re-hemmed it - new tank top, ta da!

Quick refashion in progress
There's not much else to say about elastic waist tube jersey skirts. Except, except that is that this tutorial from Lladybird totally changed the way I looked at elastic waistbands. As Lauren says herself there's loads of tutorials and instructions out there for doing this but I hadn't seen them before so I was really grateful for this quick and clear tutorial. It looks nice and neat on the outside, and best of all no twisting!

Does anyone have any other quick makes that they find really satisfying?

Friday, 4 September 2015

Third time lucky? Tiny Pocket Tank

Ah the perfect tank top [skirt/shirt insert your own favourite garment type here] pattern, have you found yours? When I saw the Cali Faye basics dress I could imagine it as a tank, my perfect tank.  I was all set to hit purchase when I remembered just how many patterns I have that haven't been used and realised I couldn't justify buying another at the moment, especially when I have the Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank. The things I love about the Cali Faye dress are the scooped out lower armholes and the lower back so I set about trying to adapt the tiny pocket tank pattern.

I've made the tiny pocket tank before - my Lush Life tank, and an unblogged Betty Jackson striped pink one but the pink one is too big and the Lush Life one is now too tight under the arms. And I couldn't find either traced pattern so I had no idea which sizes they were - arrgh!! Time to start from scratch then!

The black and white fabric is from the Man outside Sainsbury's ages ago - I bought 3 metres, planning an Anna maxidress but then realised I'd need to line it and gave that idea up as I'm too lazy/have never lined a skirt before. It's lovely and soft which is why I bought it as usually I wouldn't go for anything with black in it, and it was only £2 a metre - perfect for experimenting with.

I cut out a size 8 but then added length to the straps. I held the traced pattern up and approximated a 1.5cm increase would make it a bit more roomy under the arms. However I then added 1.5cm to both front and back pieces which of course made it far too long. I also forgot to raise the darts, raise the neckline or lengthen the strips of bias binding - a true catalogue of errors. Of course I didn't realise any of this till I'd sewn it up, with french seams, so by then it was too late for major alterations. I decided I could live with the low neckline, just. I used the Colettte tutorial for piecing bias binding and attached it using the Sorbetto instructions (links to PDF) where you cut the binding to size once you've pinned it to the garment.  However the straps were still too long and it was hanging ridiculously low under the arms. So, I just cut the straps down a bit and resewed them! Definitely not the most sophisticated way to deal with the problem but it still looks neat, and best of all it fits great under the arm.  I also sewed the under stitching too close to the seam line so when I folded it under for top-stitching it didn't sit right and there's a few spots where the binding isn't caught all the way under.  Luckily not moving the bust darts doesn't seem to have been a problem - obviously gravity is helping me out there now, boohoo!  I bought the PDF of the pattern and have managed to lose the instructions somewhere along the way. I'm sure if I'd emailed Grainline with my receipt they would have sent me the instructions but to be honest, using Jen's tutorial meant I didn't need them.

Putting aside all these mistakes I absolutely love this top and have already had lots of wear out of it, it's so nice and soft and looks great on.  On holiday (in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, France where these photos were taken) I wore it with this skirt and it also looks great with jeans. I will make it again, to try and perfect it.  I plan to get the length of the straps sorted, raise the front neckline a bit, lower the back neckline (like this gorgeous Eucalypt tank by Charlie), and slim it down a bit at the sides. Here's a question though - if I slim it down at the sides will this make the armholes tighter?

Sorry for the lengthy post on a relatively easy garment but I thought it would be useful to document the changes I've made.  Do you try to alter existing patterns if you see a new style you like, or would you buy the new pattern?