Monday, 18 June 2018

Hadley Top

During the post-Christmas John Lewis fabric sale my Mum spotted this gorgous nani-iro double gauze fabric with metallic spots on it (it's no longer in stock at John Lewis so I've linked it to Guthrie & Ghani). Full price, it's quite an expesive fabric but in the sale it was massively reduced and so my Mum asked me to make her a top out of it. As I've said before, I love sewing things for my Mum so was perfectly happy to make something for her, especially out of such a stunning fabric.

My Mum chose the Hadley Top pattern to have made for her, not a pattern that I've used before but one that I've coveted for a while. It was such a lovely sew! The instructions are fabulous and Grainline Studio have incredibly well-drafted patterns which hang beautifully. The Hadley is no  exeption. The varitations can be mixed and matched to create a varitey of differnt views. My Mum always decides the details when I sew something for her (all I do is sew it!) and chose to have an inverted pleat at the back, a round neckline and for the top to be sleevless. 

This fabric is a double gauze, and while it has a lovely drape to it I would also like to try sewing the pleat with an even drapier fabric at some point as I'm sure it would hang beautifully. The top has a key hole opening at the back fasted with a hook and eye which means that it can be taken on and off without trouble and without disrupting the pleat. I am defintitely going to be sewing myself a Hadley at some point and would also like to try the view with a seam down the centre back rather than a pleat, although I do like this version too, so there may be several more Hadleys to come!

I think that the reason I loved sewing this top so much is that everything is finished so cleanly. I sewed every seam on my overlocker to finish it (more on that soon!) and I really feel that the inside looks as nice as the outside. The armholes are finished with facings, there are neck facings and hem facings too so everything is beautiful inside. The hem facing also meant that I could finish  the top with a wide hem, a detail that I love.
The style lines of Grainline Studio should be commended, I think my favourite detail of this top is the centre front seam. This seems like a strange favourtie detail to choose, but I love the topstitching so much! I think that this top could look great with contrast topstitching too, yet another thing to add to the list of Hadleys...

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The Superpower of Sewing

I wasn't joking last week when I said that I'd been sewing lots of basic tops! This is another top that I love and has quickly become a staple, depite being such a simple idea and design. I have been wanting a simple grey top for a while and was originally going to buy one. However, the shop in question didn't have my size in stock, and as I found myself wandering through the John Lewis fabric department I realised: why don't I just make it?
Don't get me wrong, I rarely decide to buy an item of clothing that I could make, but for some reason I had decided that it would be best to buy this grey top so that the length, fit and style was right. But I realised that the length, fit and style is never perfect unless you make it so that those categories can be ticked off exactly how you want them to be. This top pretty much sums up one of the many reasons that I love sewing: you can make it exactly right when you make it yourself.

Quite often, I find that it is much cheaper to buy an item of clothing rather than make it. But with this top it was actually the other way around. As I mentioned, I wasn't planning on making this top until I found the perfect fabric in John Lewis. I only needed to buy 0.75m so I ended up with a lovely shade of grey, good quality fabric and a top which I could design to match exactly what I wanted in the first place. Can you tell by now that I'm delighted that I made it?!

Moving onto my favourite part of this top: the Eiffel Tower patch! I bought this patch ages ago, when I visited Frou-Frou. For such a long time I've been unsure on what to use it on, but I'm really glad that I waited as I think that this is the perfect project for it. It's quite a subtle badge but has a nod to giving this top a more personalised touch. It also carries the happy memory of my trip to Paris with it. 
The other main feature of this top is the hem. I decided to experiment a bit on the hem by sewing a lettuce hem. It's not something that I've ever done before and I wasn't entriely sure about how it would look, but I really enjoyed learning a new skill and I actually really like the look of it too! Again, it's quite a subtle feature but adds a nice extra interest to the top.

This top was sewn with the same self-drafted pattern as my black top, yet they look really quite different! I've already worn this one a lot too, and especially love it with my wide-legged trousers.
By no means is this top perfect. Sewing something yourself will never be as precise as something sewn in a facotry. But I was able to make something that I love, that is exactly to my taste and style because I designed it. Something that has a personalised touch, that carries memories, that I know will last a long time because it is made out of a good qualtiy fabric. And for those reasons, sewing is a superpower.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Black and White

I've been sewing quite a few basic t-shirts at the moment and this is the first of several that I have to write about. Sewing basics can seem like quite a dull task, however I really enjoy sewing things such as t-shirts that I know will get a lot of wear. They're so quick to sew too!  I've also experimented with adding extra details onto what would otherwise be standard garments, and I love that a simple addition can really make a garment unique.
This is another make from the fabric that I bought when I visited Higgs and Higgs, and like all of their jerseys this black one was wonderful to sew with. It's actually a ribbing, something that doesn't show up in the photos but is apparent when you see the top in person. I love the extra texture the ribbing gives, and it makes the top super stretchy and therefore really comfortable (always a bonus!). The ribbing also allowed the neckband to go in really smoothly and easily.

The fairly obvious part of this top that makes it into something, is the contrast white 'pleated trim picot edging' that I bought as a slightly spur of the moment addition. I was initially worried it would look too crazy but to be honest I could probably have been able to get away with adding more (not that I want to add more). I absolutely LOVE it! I think it's such a great addition, and as I said turns the top into something more than just a basic black t-shirt. My Mum is entrirely to thank for this, she was the one who noticed it in the shop and pursuaded me to buy it so thank you, Mum! 
To attatch the trim I simply topstitched it onto the sleeve at the bottom. I left the hem of the sleeve raw as the fabric doesn't fray and decided to sew it on top of the sleeve as an applique rather than underneath the black. Again, I'm glad I did this as it creates a nice texture and I don't think that it needed to be hidden underneath the black.

The pattern is self drafted and has immediately become a go-to pattern for me for a basic top. The only thing to remember is that this fabric is very stretchy and so needed to be sewn with a larger seam allowance on my overlocker than another t-shirt made out of a less stretchy jersey. I wasn't sure how long I wanted the top but I knew that I wanted it cropped to wear with high-waisted trouseres and skirts, and when I tried it on I found that it was the perfect length so I'm pleased about that too.
Overall, I don't think that such a basic garment has ever made me so happy! This is definitely one of those makes that makes me smile when I put it on, and it's all thanks to taking a risk with a slightly strange white trim.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

A Second Stella Hoodie

It turns out that Higgs and Higgs textured knit fabrics are destined for Stella Hoodies! My Mum asked me to make her a Stella Hoodie out of the fabric that she bought when we went to Higgs and Higgs after seeing and liking mine. I love how quickly this pattern comes together so was perfectly happy to make her one. I wear my Stella constantly and I hope that it'll be a garment that my Mum gets a lot of wear out of too. As the weather has been warmer recently it probably isn't the most seasonally appropirate make, but knowing the current weather situation it could easily be hoodie weather tomorrow!

I joked here about how I had used the same fabric for all of my hood linings up until that point. Little did I know that I would be using the same fabric again next time I sewed a hood! This is fabric that I had left over from my Kelly Anorak lining (coincidentally also from Higgs and Higgs!) and luckily it matched the other fabric perfectly. I think that the only technical part of the Stella Hoodie is sewing the button holes onto stretch fabric. This fabric isn't that stretchy relative to many other jerseys but I still found that the fabric needed to be guided through my sewing machine in order to sew the button hole.

Like I said at the start, it was a really quick make. I was able to use my overlocker for the first time on a knit garment too, which made it even faster to sew - I loved it! The only downside to this fabric is that the inside of it is quite an opaque white which means that the sleeves can't be rolled up. Also, the fabric is quite stiff/scratchy inside rather than soft which is a shame as a soft cosy hoodie would be nicer to put on when it's cold. This definitely isn't a something that prohibits the wear of this fabric though, and it is wonderful fabric in every other sense.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Honeycomb Shirt

Very excitingly, I was a pattern tester for the new Coco Wawa Crafts sewing pattern: the Honeycomb shirt and shirtdress which launched a few weeks ago. The pattern has several variations but I decided to sew the shirt version which features a peplum and a mandarin collar. To be honest, I wasn't sure about the style of this shirt at first. It's not something that I usually would wear, so I'm really glad to have had the opportunity to test out a pattern that I otherwise probably wouldn't have sewn.
The only change I made to the pattern was to omit the bow ties which feature just above the peplum. I did this due to personal preference only, but it does mean that the waist is slightly boxier and less cinched in than it would be if there were ties. I quite like the loose boxy look, but it is something to bear in mind if you're making your own.

I sewed this shirt out of a purple linen fabric that I bought quite a while ago - in fact, I bought it at the same time as the fabric for this jacket! I love it when a pattern comes along that just matches a fabric that you already own, and this was definitely the case for me with the Honeycomb. Although it can be made from a variety of woven fabrics I'd say that it is destined to be paired with linen. It's actually the first time that I've ever sewn with linen, partly due to the cost of the fabric. It does feel wonderful to sew with though (despite being prone to both fraying and wrinkling!). I know that the wrinkling of linen is something that puts a lot of people off of sewing with it, but I actually really like the character that the wrinkles give to the fabric and in turn the garment as a whole. I haven't washed this top yet, but I did pre-wash the fabric which is a must with linen. I'm hoping it won't shrink too much when I do wash it...
What I absolutely love about this pattern are the gorgeous princess seams that run down the front bodice. I love the look that they give, the style lines are really lovely. I'd also like to experiment with hacking this pattern by using the top but not the peplum, as the bodice fits me really well. As a bonus, the princess seams mean that the top is really simple to fit too.

As I mentioned at the start, this shirt is a slight departure to my usual style, and I think that this is mainly due to the mandarin collar. It's still growing on me, but I really enjoyed testing out a new skill. Sewing a mandarin collar is so much easier than sewing a normal collar and the instructions were great, so don't let that put you off! I did sew mine using a slightly different method which is something I usually do with collar stands. Rather than sewing the outer collar stand to the neck and then topstitching form the right side hoping to catch the inner collar, I sewed the inner collar stand to the neckline right sides together and then sewed the outer collar down by topstitching around it. I hope that makes sense! I did this in order to make sure that the inner collar stand was definitely properly sewed down, as I often find that if you sew from the right side it's often hard to catch the part underneath in you stitching.
I think that the buttons are one of my favourite aspects of this top. Again, I had them already and was delighted to see that they match the purple linen so well! I took my time sewing the button stand, collar stand and buttonholes and I love this photo of the close-up details.

This top was definitely a bit of an experiment for me, both with the colour and the style. I do really like it though, and as I said it's nice to sometimes be pushed to sew things that one wouldn't usually sew. I'd love to make more of these tops, a blakc viscose one is definitely on my list of things to make. On my next version I think I might size down too, or at least sew with a slightly larger seam allowance, but then again a drapier fabric would probably make it look less boxy anyway.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

New Pyjamas

Pyjamas are currently my favourite thing to sew for others. Although I enjoy making clothes for other people, it's always quite stressful especially when they're hoping to wear it. The good thing about sewing pyjamas is that the person who receives/person who makes them them doesn't have to worry about weather or not they're perfect because no-one will see them! I've made my sister in particular quite a few pairs of pyjamas over the past few years. For this summer she asked for another pair of pyjama shorts. I made her a pair of pyjama shorts last year which have received a lot of wear, although they may be too small soon. Hopefully these will be able to last her a few more years! I used the Tilly and the Buttons Margot Pyjamas pattern to make these which I shortened to make a pair of shorts (the same pattern that I used for these pyjamas, which I happen to still love!).

The fabric for these was actually bought at the end of last summer. I do have a good excuse for taking so long to actually sew these though, in that it has been the complete opposite of pyjama shorts weather for the past however many months. As soon as the weather warmed up these were top of my sewing list, and were a really quick and easy make. You may recognise the fabric from here, it was bought from Stoff and Stil which has the most incredible range of knit fabrics. This one is such good quality, so I'm very pleased to have enough left to make a top for myself! I'm currently thinking of the Frankie T-Shirt from Stretch!, but I haven't quite decided yet...
Because the fabric is such good quality and because it was a make for someone else, I took my time with the small details on these. I often think that pyjamas are something that can easily be rushed due to the thought 'oh no-one will see them' but because I made them for my sister I felt the need to be more careful, and I'm so pleased I was because it means that they'll last longer and hopefully she will love them that bit more! Some of the extra touches include a double row of topstitching around the waistband and carefully measured double hem.

There isn't really much else to say about these pyjama shorts, other than they have already be worn and washed several times, which I would class as a success! I'm sure I'll be making more pairs of pyjamas for my sister in the future as we know that this pattern fits her well and that she likes the style. I really enjoy making quick and easy projects from time to time, and as I mentioned at the start pyjamas are a great not too stressful thing to make for someone else. Of course, the bad part of sewing for other people is having to give it away at the end, I am quite jealous as I really love these!

Monday, 14 May 2018

Overlocker Unlocked - An Introduction

So... an introduction. I don't know about you, but an overlocker has always been one of those things that I've dreamed of owning (dreamed, not thought, being the key word in this sentence). Ever since I started sewing, to me an overlocker meant buisness; it meant being professional and it meant knowing exactly what you're doing. But here's the thing: it doesn't have to. For a long time I always thought of an overlocker as being something that it would be  ridiculous to invest in if I hadn't achieved a certain level of sewing. And while this is true in a way, skill level is definitely not the only way to measure wether or not it's time to get an overlocker.

I'll touch upon this more later but in my opinion, the investment of an overlocker is more to do with how much you love sewing than anything else. While overlockers really are quite an investment, I cannot emphasize enough how much you can get out of of one if you love to sew.

Still though, overlockers remain to most people a confusing and technical piece of equiptment at the very least (I certainly had no clue what I was doing when I first took it out the box!) and so I've decided to start a series all about how to get the most out of an overlocker. In other words, I'm hoping to unlock the confusion surrounding them and enable you to know wether or not investing in an overlocker is a good step forward in your sewing journey.

Some of the things that I'm hoping to cover in the next few months include:
  • Getting started
  • Threading the machine
  • Overlocking woven/stretch fabrics
  • Tips and tricks for using an overlocker
  • And hopefully lots more!

I hope that you find this useful, let me know if there is anything in particular that you would like me to cover in this series. More than anything it will be a way to document my journey learning how to use an overlocker. At the beginning, I'll start off having never sewn with an overlocker before and I'm hoping that by the end even changing the threads will come naturally... we will have to wait and see!