Saturday, 27 June 2015

Planning a sewcation

What do you do when you find yourself with a lot of annual leave left and three months to take it? Book a sewcation, of course! The first week of July sees me staying at home, trying to work through as much of my self made holiday/summer wardrobe as possible. Why do I always seem to be short of summer clothes? 

I've spent the last couple of weeks planning and preparing. The preparation hasn't gone as well as I would have liked - I've been distracted by a gorgeous white eyelet.  All together now, "Mmm, eyelet". However, a number of projects are cut out and a few toiles have been made or are ready to be stitched. I've probably lined up too many projects but as a number of them are repeat patterns, I like to think I'll get them all completed before August. So what's on the list?

Sewcation 1

Vintage Shirt Dress, white eyelet underlined in blue cotton
Moss Skirt, emerald twill
Gabriola skirts, in paisley viscose (to be stitched assembly line style to save time) 

Sewcation 2

Sleeveless Granville, in Art Factory cotton
Georgia dress, in duckegg cotton viscose
Kim dress, in liberty silk 
Belcarra, in liberty lawn 

I'm rather excited about the prospect of getting all of these projects completed although I'm sure the reality will bite when at least one project doesn't behave itself. The Vintage Shirt Dress is already in progress and I'm hoping I can clear through my household chores quickly today to get back to it. I'll be posting my progress on Instagram of all of these projects if you fancy following along. What's currently on your sewing table or what projects are you lining up?

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Scrap busting: Jewellery roll

Today's make is a small scrap buster and a symptom of the fact that I cannot believe I have wait another six weeks before I can escape to a different climate. I don't often wish time away but I would be very happy if August arrived tomorrow. 

Planning what jewellery to take away with me is always a difficult task, mainly because I don't have something suitable to pack it in and know the pieces will survive travelling. Why I didn't buy a jewellery roll before now is beyond me but that doesn't matter anymore because I made one! I had some reasonably large scraps left over from my Betty Dress that were perfect for the job. It feels good to have used them rather than send them to the local textile recycling bin. 

IMG_7128

I loosely based my version on this tutorial by Haberdashery Fun. As I wasn't using vinyl, I wanted to cover my zip edges. I realised after I stitched one side of each zip that the roll would be too small if I repeated this action on the other side. Luckily I had a few short ends of bias tape in my stash that matched the fabric and I made a design feature from the zips. Well, I use design feature loosely - I was mainly playing around having fun and not really worrying about how it turned out. I think it has come out ok, I like how the colours all work together. 

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The tutorial calls for two layers of batting and I would agree with this if you have a thinner option than mine. This roll is pretty thick, too thick for my personal preference - one layer would have been enough but at least I can rest assured that some of my most loved and sentimental pieces will travel safely. Because of the thickness, I chose not to add bias binding to the edges. The tie is a long piece of white ribbon I have no idea how I got. Do you find that with ribbon? I have loads of it but I'm not sure how as I don't buy it. The end is finished with a piece of silver bias binding to prevent fraying. 

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There's not much more to say about this piece except it is a great stash buster and a very quick make. I went from cutting to completion in about 2 hours at a leisurely pace while working out the design details. So there you are, a happy little piece of tiny travel luggage. How do you use your scraps?

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Remember Me Granville

When you stand in front of your wardrobe is there a thought that goes through your mind often? When I reach for a pair of trousers or a skirt, I am always thinking "I really must make more separates". I just don't seem to have many tops that I like and those I do are on constant repeat and therefore beginning to look a little old. Recently I have been trying to resolve this regular morning conundrum. Let's say it is an interesting experience - more on that in future posts. 

Remember Me Granville 1

After my fairly successful first attempt at a shirt, I thought making another Granville would be a perfect place to start. This time I wanted a more casual version. Something I could wear with my jeans, skirts or shorts in the summer. Sleeveless sprung to mind. Cotton lawn too. A plan was being formed. I had picked up 1.5m of Atelier Brunette's Remember Me in the M is for Make sale. I highly recommend this cambric - it is bliss to work with. It's a little different to what I normally wear but I just couldn't resist the stars. Thankfully, the light taupe works perfectly with my separates. 

Remember Me Granville 2

I didn't make any changes to the fit except to raise the arm holes a little. I forgot to change to the top and as a result the shoulders come a little too far. The most annoying thing is the arm holes stretched slightly in the making and I can feel the excess when I'm wearing the top. I should really take it in a little but I'm rather proud of my flat felled seams and I don't want to unpick them. Talk about lazy!

Remember Me Granville 3

Can you spot something out of my comfort zone? I added pockets! I wanted a little more interest to the shirt and pockets seemed like the right thing. They sit very well and don't bother me now. I say now because it took me a full day of wearing this top to like it. The arm holes really bothered me as did the pockets - they made me feel rather self conscious but that disappeared as the hours went on.

Remember Me Granville 4

I'm very pleased with how this turned out. My edge stitching is so much better on this version. This is mainly because the cotton is more stable than the silk, and I was stitching at a reasonable hour of the day. I finished the arm holes with bias binding and stitched it in place to continue the flat felled look. All in all, a nice little make to see me through the summer. 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Another go at Simplicity 2442

The last couple of months have been defined by repeating patterns. I have been known to repeat but not as frequently as I currently am. Given my lack of time and energy, I've been turning to patterns that are easy to make and only need a few tweaks. Today I have my second version of Simplicity 2442 to share. 

Simplicity 2442

I love my first version but sadly it isn't suitable for the office. As I'm still struggling for clothes I can wear in a warm office during the summer, I decided to make another version. To make this suitable, I raised the neckline by 1.5cm. The fit is good, it less revealing and I'm much more comfortable wearing it without a slip or cami underneath the bodice. I think I need to raise it a smidge more for me to be fully comfortable and this is something I'll bear in mind if I make a third. 

Simplicity 2442

Style wise, I left out the gathers at the waist. This is mainly because I squeezed the dress out of 2m. I also felt it would be more flattering in black. The fabric is a viscose from The Cheap Shop in Essex. It was easy to sew with although it frayed a lot. The bodice is lined in a black poly lining from my stash. I didn't have enough to line the skirt so I'm relying on a half slip to maintain my dignity - the viscose is a little sheer. I chose a lapped zip rather than an invisible one. Lapped zips are quickly becoming my favourite zip insertion - they look so clean and neat. 

Simplicity 2442

I've worn this dress twice since completion, and both on warm days. The dress is surprisingly cool, very comfortable and feels flattering even after a 14 hour work day. Win! I'm sure that with tights and a cardi, I will be able to wear this dress all year round. Double win! I think this pattern may just become a TNT and it is a great feeling that I'm developing a shortlist of trusted patterns. 

Simplicity 2442

The repeats continue as I'll be sharing another soon from a different pattern I've recently finished stitching. Do you find repeat makes boring or inspiring? 

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sew Over It Betty Dress

How are you all? I hope you're all enjoying your weekend. May has been an impossibly long and busy month for me with many evenings curled on the sofa trying to regain some energy for the next day. This culminated in a big event a few days ago that also left me on the sofa, almost unable to walk as I strained my ankles running around so much. Needless to say I'm very, very pleased to see what back of this month! I did, however, have the energy to make a dress. 

This is a dress that started with the fabric. I've long adored the Betty dress by Sew Over It and finally scooped it up a couple of months ago when my By Hand London fabric arrived. I had ordered an extra metre from the girls to make sure I could fit a Betty out of this gorgeous design. The fabric is Sweet Female Attitude in pale grey and pink and I just love how they work together. 

Betty dress front

Before launching into the construction details, can I start with what makes me sad about this dress please? I was so excited when the fabric arrived. It was beautifully presented with my other goodies (I've not been parted with my mug while sewing since it entered the house). It washed and pressed very well, and has a good hand, like a lot of high quality cottons I've used in the past. I had high hopes for it but they were dashed a little. You see, this cotton is a little unforgiving. Pins left marks and I have permanent lines where I ripped out poorly sewn lines or removed basting stitches. These permanent lines are now white and glare at me constantly. No one else seems to notice it though. Despite these issues, I'm still very pleased that I paired this fabric to this pattern and I hope you will agree. 

Betty dress side

I was first drawn to Betty by her feminine style and back neckline shaping and she hasn't disappointed. We did have a little argument though over the bodice. I had to make a series of alterations: lowered the armholes by 1.5cm, hollow chest adjustment of 2cm, moved the back darts closer to my centre, and pinched out about 2cm from the back neckline. My second toile fitted perfectly so I merrily cut out and during a sewing day with VG, stitched until the bodice was attached to the skirt. I got home, delighted with my progress, only to find that she didn't fit. The centre back seam didn't meet. Fabric was thrown and a few tears were shed. I'm still not fully certain what happened but I suspect I took too much out the paper pattern when I altered the pieces from my toile. Thankfully I had enough left over fabric to recut the entire bodice at the original size and just pinched out the excess at the back before inserting the zip. 


Betty dress skirt

The skirt isn't as full as I had originally envisaged. I struggled to get the full skirt width out of the fabric so removed about 10cm of width from each piece. I also shortened it by 3.5cm to ensure the white borders of the fabric were hidden. I rather like the effect. The cotton hangs beautifully and I love how it flows over my hips. It seems that there is the right amount of fulness for this fabric. Construction was easy. I love that the facings are all in one even if I got a little confused on how to finish the shoulder seams cleanly. Turns out it very easy in practice, not so easy to describe in words! 

Betty dress back

Despite our rocky start, Betty and I have made it up completely. She is a very welcome addition to my wardrobe and I love how versatile she is. I can wear her as a summer day dress or dress her up for smarter events and thankfully I have enough accessories to match her subtle colours. Except shoes, I need to buy shoes - now that's a hardship isn't it? How about you, do have an item that you fell out with at the beginning but wouldn't be without now? 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

A Robson Summer Jacket

Are you full steam ahead in your current seasonal sewing? I'm certainly am! This make is in anticipation of cool mornings and evenings in spring and summer that the UK is so prone to. It also fills a gaping hole in my wardrobe: a lightweight summer jacket.

Summer Robson 3

It's no secret that I absolutely adore my Sewaholic Robson Trench Coat. It is one of my most worn items due to the shape, fit and fabric so it was pretty clear which pattern I would use for this jacket.

Summer Robson 2

I made a number of changes this time. The most obvious is changing the length so it finishes around my hips. The second is stripping away a lot of the features: the front storm flaps, epaulettes and sleeve tabs were all discarded. I took out 2cm from the back - regular exercise is definitely changing my shape! I decided to keep the back storm flap as I really like this part of a classic trench. Instead of cutting two and securing them with a button, I used one and top stitched the turned seam allowance. Shortening the length meant the pockets needed to move upwards. They are as high up as I could make them while maintaining comfort and practicality. 

Summer Robson

As you would expect, there is a lot of top stitching in this jacket. Every seam on the main part of the jacket is top stitched either side and including the sleeves. The stitching is even throughout and this makes me smile a lot. The stitching that lets the side down though is the bar tacks. I definitely need more practice to neaten them but at least each belt loop is very secure. Forgive the collar in the next photo - I should have straightened it out.  

Summer Robson 4

The fabric is a cotton drill from Plush Addict and a Christmas present from Adam's Grandpa. It is of great quality even if it crumples as soon as you touch it. It was fun and forgiving to work with. I managed to squeeze the jacket out of 2.5m - not bad when you want a fabric hungry belt. Shall we talk about the bright pink lining? Yes, that's right, I was far too lazy to want to deal with all the bias binding that I created a lining. Somehow cutting additional pieces, stitching and overlooking the seams seemed much a more attractive use of time than lining up and stitching perfect binding. More practically, the drill would stick to my clothes making it hard to pull the jacket on. I debated for a while on how to finish the lining ( a cotton silk I bought on Goldhawk Road) and in the end chose to bag it. I would recommend top stitching the outer shell before you bag as it is very easy to catch the lining in the stitches. 

Summer Robson insides

This has already become a staple of my wardrobe as it has had a lot of wear since completion. I just love it. The top stitching, fit and the happy colour are the major reasons for this. Although I love the purple, I'm tempted to make another in a more muted colour so I have all occasions covered but I'm not sure I yet justify another version. Do you have a pattern that you want to make over and over? 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

When is a handmade piece worth more of your time?

See that small pile of clothes below? That's the pile of handmade items I can't decide what to do with. They are all currently hanging in my wardrobe waiting patiently to know whether they will ever be worn again or if their fate lies somewhere else.

Pile of clothes

I'm pretty good at clearing out items that I no longer like and wear and this includes my handmade clothes. Yet it is different for these pieces. Sadly they do not see the light of day. They are all too big and look ridiculous when I put them on.

There are many reasons why they have not been added to the charity bag: I thoroughly enjoyed making them, I loved the feeling I got from wearing them, and the fabrics are just gorgeous that I can't bear to let them all go. A small but influential part of me thinks they should be unpicked and resized. Why haven't I? Time - they would all take so long to complete. Somehow it is easier to start over than alter. But isn't that just laziness? 

I'm really not sure what to do with them. What do you think? Should I just take the plunge and invest the time or should I say a fond farewell? To all? To some? I would love to know how you decide whether a piece is worth more of your time. In case you want to judge the individual pieces they are: Peacock dress, Anna, Mae blouse, Cressida skirt and Ceylon

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