Monday, 25 January 2021

Sewing for others: Ribbed Jersey Shirt

My latest sewing project is another make for my mum. I love sewing clothes for her and she (generally!) enjoys having clothes made by me. In the brief spell between lockdowns, we enjoyed a trip to Higgs & Higgs together and each bought some fabric to for me to sew up into a garment. I bought a cream needlecord fabric which I used to make a pair of Lander Pants and my mum bought some grey rib to make a shirt.

I've made quite a few different items of clothing for my mum over the years. I'd say the most successful have been her Linden jumpers of which I've made her four (a navy one, a blue one, an orange one and a grey one) although I think it might be time to make another as she's worn a couple of them pretty much to death. The Frou-Frou blouse that I made a few years ago as well as this checked one more recently have also received a lot of wear.
For this project I was asked to make something a bit different. Mum chose a lovely grey rib fabric from Higgs & Higgs to be made into a shirt. We both really like the idea of making items of clothing out of fabrics that they wouldn't traditionally be made from and I've made both a grey jersey shirt and a white one in the past for myself so I thought it would be a fun project. 

In order to get the proportions right I copied a RTW shirt that my mum already owns. Its most interesting feature is the neckline which curves slowly out to open at the neck. I added a collar to this top but I think that the design would also look nice without a collar too.
The only thing I changed from the design of the shirt that I copied was to have the buttons running all the way down rather than have a button placket which ended about halfway down the front. The RTW top also had a stretchy panel inserted at the side seams that ran along the sleeves which I chose to exclude as I used a rib for the whole thing anyway. Even though it's a copy of a top the two look very differnt due to the different fabric types.
The fit turned out really well, but it wasn't the easiest of projects! When my mum first tried it on the shoulder was really wide making the sleeve stick out strangely. After a lot of pinning and basting we managed to fix the fit. I ended up taking quite a lot out of the shoulder where the sleeve was attached and also some at the armpit. I wonder if using a stretchy fabric was the reason the fit didn't quite work out despite copying a top. I'm glad I was able to fix the problem as I really like the style and fabric. 

I can't take any credit when it comes to the fabric choice as it was all my mum's idea, but I love the collar so much! I've used cuffing like this one before on the cuffs of this jumper but hadn't thought of using it on a collar. Because we bought the cuffing and ribbing fabric together the colours match exactly which is really nice. It adds such a lovely detail to what might otherwise be a fairly plain top. 
I wasn't sure about how to go about using the cuffing as a collar as the collar would usually have a lining with the raw edges enclosed. All I did was to curve off the edge with scissors to make it round. It doesn't seem to be fraying, but I am slightly worried that it might fray after being washed.

As with many sewing projects there was a bit of stalling with this one when it came to finding buttons. The first issue was waiting for lockdown to end so that we could go into shops, but once it did we struggled to find the right buttons. The initial plan was to have dark grey buttons to match the dark grey in the collar but those apparently don't exist in the size we needed! In the end my mum bought some pearly grey buttons which I sewed on with dark grey thread. They're intended to just make the top wearable until she finds some dark grey ones, but I wonder if we'll ever change them!

Thursday, 21 January 2021

DIY Ruched V-Neck Top

One of my favourite things about making your own clothes is the ability to transfer different design features onto any kind of garment. This can be anything from an exposed zip to gathers, all of which help the final outcome feel a bit more interesting. The idea of a ruched neckline is a detail that I've wanted to try for a while. I've enjoyed making several ruched tops before (a grey one and a multicoloured one) but with the gathering going the entire way down the top and, having noticed this done several different ways on ready to wear clothes, I chose to reuse the same technique but to achieve a different look.

Ruching the fabric was actually fairly easy to do. I used a piece of 1/4" wide elastic which I held stretched out on the wrong side of the fabric and sewed down the middle of. When you let go, the elastic goes back to its original length creating this gathering effect. It's quite fun to do and surprisingly simple to achieve. Because the elastic that I used was narrow I can't really feel it either which is good. 

Whilst achieving the gathers was fairly easy, planning the shape of the neckline was less so. Before adding the elastic I cut the neckline of my top into a v shape. I then hemmed the neckline to create a neat finish which would be tricky to do once the elastic had been added. The main thing I struggled with was knowing how long to make the elastic. It's meant to be a neckline detail so I didn't want it coming down too low, but at the same time it stretches a surprising amount so doesn't need to be cut very long. In the end I think I actually cut it a little bit too short and an extra inch of gathers might have looked better, but it's a small mistake. 
My only other regret with this top is that the neckline has ended up feeling a little narrow. Once again, in order to avoid it coming down too low or being too wide I actually went in the opposite direction and made it too high and narrow. It's hard to judge what will happen to the size of the neckline once the elastic has been added, so bare in mind that the shape will change due to the gathers. 

I used a cotton jersey from Craft Cotton Co to make this top, which is a fabric I'd definitely recommend for adding details like ruching. Cotton jersey isn't too heavy weight so it gathers nicely, but is also stable to sew with so inserting the elastic remained nice and simple. I think this would work really well on a cotton fabric too and would probably be even easier to sew as the fabric would be more stable. I think adding in the gathered neckline gives a nice balance between adding detail to an otherwise basic t-shirt shape but also leaving plenty of room for a printed fabric like this one. 

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Tilly and the Buttons: Stretch - Freya Turtleneck

I've finally got round to making myself a black turtleneck top, the kind of simple top that I wear a lot. This top has been at the back of my mind for what feels like ages, but seemed to always get overtaken by more spur of the moment projects. After making a pair of cream Lander Pants I needed a top to pair with them, and my black turtleneck plans found themselves at the top of my sewing queue once again

I used, as usual, the Tilly and the Buttons Freya top to make this. It's definitely my most used pattern although I've only used it to make a turtleneck a few times before. The bodice is a really good base pattern to hack but sometimes it's nice to make the pattern as intended! I've previously made a grey stripy Freya top, a blue and white stripy one, a mustard one and more recently a red one with a zip-neck hack. I really like the depth of the turtleneck, though it could easily be made shorter or longer depending on preference. 

Whilst my Lander Pants are what initially convinced me to make a black turtleneck, it's the kind of wardrobe basic that can be worn with so many different trousers. I also have a habit of making short sleeved t-shirts rather than warmer tops that I'm more likely to wear so hopefully this will fill a wardrobe gap too. 
I really wanted to use a cotton jersey to make this top for a couple of reasons, the first being that they tend to be better quality jerseys which don't feel synthetic and are also fully opaque - obviously ideal when using a plain fabric. Cotton jersey is also slightly heavier weight than a lot of other stretch fabrics which work for t-shirts, perfect for making sure a turtleneck holds its shape. I used this plain black jersey fabric from Fabrics For All. I'm so tempted to make some more plain turtlenecks now, I try to push myself to use prints from time to time but the truth is I just prefer wearing plain fabrics! Maybe a bit boring, but when paired with more interesting trousers I think plain tops are perfect.

I spent a while trying to decide what length to make this top. My initial plan was to make it long and wear it tucked in, but after trying on my Landers with a tucked in t-shirt I just didn't like how it looked. I went for the middle-path in the end, making it long enough to cover the top of the waistband of trousers without it being so long that it looks like it needs tucking in. I've just realised that it's actually the same length as my red Freya top, not a conscious decision but clearly it's a length that I like!

[This fabric was given to me by Fabrics for All but all thoughts are my own]

Monday, 4 January 2021

Cream Corduroy True Bias Lander Pants

I've made another pair of Lander Pants - woop! This was definitely the pattern of 2020 for me, not necessarily because I made lots of pairs but because I discovered how much I like it. I actually bought this pattern ages ago (I think it might have been on sale somewhere at some point?) but didn't get round to making it until last January, when I made a black denim pair. I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed wearing them and went on to make a gingham pair in the summer which I also love.

I knew that I wanted to make another pair, this time a pair which was long unlike the other two which are slightly cropped. I hadn't yet decided what kind of fabric to make them out of but my mum and I enjoyed a trip to Higgs & Higgs just before the second lockdown. It's such a nice fabric shop as it's essentially their warehouse which is open to the public, making it amazing to look round. I last went in 2018 (you can see what I bought here) and have wanted to go back since. I didn't buy as much this time, leaving with a grey rib to make my mum a top and cream corduroy to make myself a pair of Lander Pants.

I hadn't planned to make a pair of corduroy Landers but I had been toying with the idea of making some cream trousers. The fabric that I found was so lovely and made my plan fall into place, specifically to make a pair of long Lander Pants. Higgs & Higgs have quite a large selection of corduroy fabrics but there was very little of the colour I liked left on the roll. I've had a look on their website and can't find the fabric that I used, it looks a lot like this one but the two shades of cream in the shop were slightly different. There was only 1.3m left on the roll and they wouldn't be getting any more in as it was ex-designer. I really wasn't convinced I'd be able to get a pair of Lander Pants out of 1.3m if they were long and included the pockets, but after hesitating over the other shade of cream and also a tan colour I decided to try and make it fit. If there wasn't enough fabric, I'd make a pair of shorts instead.

But there was enough fabric! It was very, very just but I managed to squeeze all the pattern pieces on and even got pockets cut out too. There wasn't quite enough to make them full length so for the hem I literally pieced the scraps together to make a 2" deep strip that I then sewed around the bottom and turned up. I'm so pleased I went with the fabric I wanted as the colour is just right.

One of the things I really like about the shade of cream is how well it goes with the brass buttons. These are the same buttons that I used on my black Lander Pants, they're hammer in jeans buttons that I think complete the trousers perfectly. I considered using a tan coloured topstitch thread to match the buttons, but went for a matching cream in the end. I'm not displeased with the matching topstitching but I think a subtle contrast could have looked nice.

I was expecting to have to leave off the back pockets due to fabric shortage but just had enough fabric to add them in the end. I purposely chose to leave off the back pockets on my black and gingham Landers as I just didn't like the square look, but somehow felt like they were needed on the cream corduroy. I'm not sure why I felt like that, but I think they look nice!

In the interest of adding extra details, my favourite thing to do on makes, I added a leather patch to the waistband. I'm so pleased with it and definitely want to buy some more to add to future jeans. I got a pack of 3 when I went to Stoff & Still, used one on my mum's bag and one on these Landers leaving me the last one to add to my next pair of jeans. It's a lovely way of making them feel more professional too. 

The main reason that I love the True Bias Lander Pants is because the pattern fits me so well. I still stand by that but this pair sadly doesn't fit quite as well as my other two pairs. The issue this time is that they're just a bit big around the waist causing them to fall down slightly which I find really annoying. I made the same adjustments of taking them in at the side seams as I always do, so I think that the problem with these is that the fabric has stretched out slightly. The gingham Landers fit me perfectly thanks to the fact that they're made from a lightweight fabric with absolutely no stretch. Whilst the corduroy isn't really very stretchy, it does have a bit of stretch in it which is why they've turned out a little big. It's not a massive problem but it's a bit of a shame.

I really love the details on this pattern, especially the front pockets which I was really keen to add so luckily there was enough fabric. What I like about these pockets is that fact that they're different to most jeans pockets making the finished make more interesting.

I haven't been able to wear these out yet but I'm hoping to do so soon as I really like them and need to get used to wearing what is a slightly different style for me. When I first made the Lander Pants I really didn't want a pair of long wide-legged trousers. That was less than a year ago so it just goes to show how much taste changes!

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Top 5 Favourite Makes of 2020

With all the strange events that this year has brought, a positive has come in the form of more sewing time. Whilst I can't say that spending six months stuck at home is something that I'd like to repeat, it did give me a lot of sewing time! Some of the projects that I've made this year are things that I know I'll love and wear for years to come. Here are 5 favourite makes, although narrowing it down was a challenge!

I'm kind of cheating to start with because this is technically two makes, but I couldn't choose between my Lander Pants! Having had this pattern for a while, I finally made a pair at the start of 2020 and it's my new favourite pattern, definitely the best-fitting trouser pattern that I've ever used. The gingham Lander Pants pictured above turned out so well and I really love them.

I wanted to include my black Landers too because I've worn them so much this year. They're not quite as exciting as the gingham ones but I love the classic look of them and really enjoy wearing them. I haven't been able to wear my gingham ones quite as much as I made them towards the end of summer but I'm looking forward to wearing those next year.

This zip-neck top is special as it's made from one of my fabrics from Tokyo. I'm proud of how well this top turned out, the zip especially. It also feels very me, and alongside this jumper I'm pleased to have conquered zip-necks!

I wanted to include this top too as, like the red one, it feels very me. This top is a copy of a navy one that I made last year and I love how it turned out. The fabric is also really lovely and makes the top what it is.

I'm not much of a dress person but I really wanted to make myself a summer dress to wear this year. After watching the Sewing Bee I decided to make this black floral Shelby Dress. I'm so happy with how it looks and loved wearing it during the summer.

Finally, I had to include my black joggers because that's what I've really been wearing in 2020! Lockdown made me realise that I needed another pair of joggers and I enjoy wearing these so much. I especially like the cuff which I'd like to add onto another pair too.

I love all of these makes and also a lot of the others that I haven't added to this list. Next year I'd like to make even more pairs of trousers, definitely some more joggers and maybe even more Landers! If you're interested, here were my top 5 favourite makes in 2019, 2018 and 2017.
As always thank you for following along with my sewing this year, see you in 2021!

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

2020 Sew Down

Another year of sewing, another round-up of makes! This year more than ever sewing has provided a wonderful escape in light of current events and times of stress. I've enjoyed every project and have managed to make some clothes that I really love.

Proudest make: I've only ever included dressmaking projects in this category so far but this year my favourite make has been my English Paper Piecing quilt. I'm so proud of it and I love both the process of making it and also how it looks. It's not finished yet, but you can find my most recent update here and previous updates here, here and here.

Proudest make: In terms of dressmaking, my proudest make this year is probably my sherpa jacket. Because I made it right at the start of the year I'd forgotten that it was a 2020 make, I've worn it so much this year and I really love it. It looks so professional, I'm so proud of the lining and details like the zip.

Most worn make: It's hard to know which make from this year I've actually worn the most but my black joggers are definitely one of them. Despite making them towards the end of the year I have worn them so much.

Least worn make: I realised when choosing a make for this category that I've actually been really good at sewing items of clothing that I've worn a lot this year. I haven't really worn this top though, purely because the fabric isn't very 'me'. 

Most unexpected make: This has got to be making scrubs! Never did I expect to sew a pair of scrubs, but covid had other ideas. My mum joked the other day that this is by far her most worn item of clothing that I've ever made her! I did also make her another scrub top out of a lovely chambray fabric once we were able to go out and buy fabric again, although I haven't blogged that one.

Last year's favourite: Definitely my gingham Anima Pants, I love these so much and have worn them loads. Other makes from the past that I've worn lots this year include my grey joggers, this linden and this t-shirt.

Favourite make for others: I finally made my auntie an item of clothing this year and I'm so proud of it.   I really focused on the details of this blouse and I think she really likes it too. 

Most used pattern: I've made 3 pairs of Lander Pants this year - my black denim ones, gingham ones and a cream needlecord pair that I'm currently making. It's definitely been my favourite pattern of 2020 and I'm looking forward to using it again next year.

Favourite fabric shop: This is obviously a tricky category to answer this year as I haven't been able to visit a lot of fabric shops! I wanted to include an online fabric shop instead that I've enjoyed working with this year - my viscose skirt and black hoodie made with fabrics from Fabrics For All are some of my favourite makes this year.

Favourite fabric: I've loved making things from viscose fabric this year, especially my Shelby Dress. This black floral viscose fabric was exactly what I had in mind and I love how it looks.

Most exciting sewing event: This year I started selling hand-decorated sewing boxes on Etsy! It's been such a fun venture and I have loved making these and sending them off. You can find them here.

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Pink Zip-neck Jumper

I'm very excited to write about this make because I love it so, so much! It's basically the jumper that I've had on my mind for at least two years now, and I've finally managed to make a version that's just right. 

If this jumper looks familiar, it's because it kind of is. Back at the start of this year I made myself this jumper out of the same pink fabric. I liked the style of the jumper but I just didn't really like the end result, the main reason being that the zip insertion looked a bit strange. I tried wearing that top a few times but I just wasn't really happy with it, so it stayed in my wardrobe. A few weeks ago, I decided that as I wasn't wearing the top at all I might as well pick it apart and try and remake it. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it any better, but I thought it was worth a try.

I'm so happy I gave it another go because this version turned out so well! Luckily I had a bit of fabric leftover which, combined with the pieces I got from unpicking the old jumper, was just enough to remake it. Because I had less fabric to work with I had to change the style a bit, so this jumper isn't as loose as the other one but I definitely prefer this look. The main thing that I knew had to change was the neck because that's what was bothering me about the first jumper. So for this one, the zip is inserted into a turtleneck style top which worked so much better than the collar of the other one. I thought this would be a better technique after the success of my zip-neck Freya top, and it is definitely lying more flat.

After the neck, I didn't really have enough fabric to make any major changes. In changing from a normal shoulder to a raglan sleeve top I ended up using a lot of fabric on the sleeves and was slightly worried there wouldn't be enough. To get around this I added in a seam halfway down the sleeve. I then chose to replicate the added seam effect by putting in another seam down the centre of the lower half of the sleeve - I cannot emphasise enough how much I love this detail! The gathered sleeves on the first top were a really nice feature so I'm glad I didn't have to lose the statement sleeves. Topstitched seams also show up so well with this fabric.

My main focus on this top was the neckline, and I'm very pleased with how smoothly the zip went it. I tend to wear this top with the zip partially undone but it looks really nice done up too for a cosier feel. This fabric so soft and cosy, like the fabric for this jumper it's a fleece-backed sweatshirt which is perfect for this time of year. 

I'm so happy with this make, I feel like it's a style I've been wanting to create for ages and now that I've finally cracked it I can make lots more. I'd definitely like to make a plain black version with a contrast zip. To finish off this jumper I added a hem band, I had just enough fabric left and I think it's the perfect finish. Once again I was able to add topstitching to tie it all together.