Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Re-fashioned Raindrop Top

As you might have noticed I really enjoy refashioning items of clothing. These are often clothes which I or other people in my family used to wear but no longer fit, or occasionally items I've found in a charity shop. However, as I've made more garments over the years I've started to get a better idea of what actually gets worn and which handmade clothes just aren't getting any wear. I find refashioning handmade clothes a tricky concept to balance I'm only just starting to come across having to get rid of handmade items as I haven't been sewing for all that long. Ultimately, I think it's best to refashion or give away something that isn't being worn, but I'm definitely keen to keep clothes that I made at the start of my sewing journey which are more special even if they aren't being worn any more.

Having a blog to document makes definitely helps when getting rid of them as it's really nice to have a record of something if I don't have it anymore. When it came to refashioning this top it was a fairly easy decision: I'm not as attached to it as some of my other makes and the fabric seemed too nice to waste. The original top that I made with this fabric was one that I liked a lot at the time but it was one of my very first ventures into pattern hacking and the final design could have been better. I'm happy to have made and enjoyed the original but as I was no longer wearing it I decided to hack it into a very simple t-shirt. I wanted to make something very basic so that the print didn't look too childish and a short sleeved t-shirt is always an appreciated addition to my wardrobe and so easy to sew.

I'm really pleased with how it turned out. It's such an easy make but what I love most about this top is how it shows how much my sewing has improved. The original had slightly wonky topstitching, was sewn without an overlocker and of course the shape didn't sit quite right. This one fits really well, is finished neatly on an overlocker and is a much easier style to wear.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Sewing for others: Chambray Skirt

My last minute holiday sewing didn't just stop at a dress for me, I also made my mum a skirt. Much like the dress this was quite a last minute decision once we realised how hot it was going to be and that lightweight clothes were needed. Sewing really comes into its own at this point as I was able to whip up exactly what my mum wanted without her having to spend time searching for a skirt which would inevitably be too expensive, not the right cut or made from the wrong fabric if found in a ready to wear shop. 

I've become pretty quick at creating patterns from existing items of clothing. Finding an item of clothing with exactly the right fit can be really difficult so I think that copying a ready to wear garment that you already own is one of the best uses of sewing. I managed to create the pattern for this skirt and sew it up in less than a day - I had a lovely sewing spree before going on holiday that included this skirt as well as my dress and this top, so I created a lot of patterns too! The great thing with this pattern is that I can now reuse it to make the same skirt again but in a different fabric if my mum wants another one. It's a really simple design with darts at the back to add shaping and an invisible zip in the side.

This skirt is a very simple design but has a some really lovely details. I added a double row of topstitching down the centre front as well as a row at the pockets and even though it's done in a matching colour I really like the texture that the topstitch weight thread adds. My favourite part of this skirt is defintiely the bias-binding. It was my mum's idea to bind the skirt in a contrast colour and I think it looks lovely, a secret detail as you can't see it when she wears it. It also gives the skirt a really neat, clean finish. 

Because the chambray is fairly lightweight I decided to line the skirt. However, as the whole reason for making it was to survive a heatwave, the lining only comes down partway so it wasn't too warm to wear. It worked really well, once again a detail which is practical but aso has the benefit of giving the skirt a nice finish. 
This skirt turned out to be a huge success, my mum has worn it so much over the summer and I'm really pleased to have a pattern so that I can make more if she would like another. 

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Navy Cardigan Top

When it comes to sewing plans, mine are a complete mix. Some projects I have planned for months and others are completely spur of the moment. I always find it refreshing to make something quick and easy after a more in depth project and it's nice to be able to make something that wasn't planned so that there's is no expectation about how it's going to turn out. I also really like being able to grab some fabric I have lying around and make something completely different when I don't have a sewing project on the go. 

This top was definitely a spontaneous make. I've seen a few cardigan style tops recently and wanted to have a go at drafting and sewing one. For most of this project I had absolutely no idea about how it was going to turn out and this was made possible through the fabric, a jersey that I bought for 2€ a metre from a market in Bordeaux! I bought a couple of others including the white one for this top at the same time and they are perfect for exactly this kind of project. The fabric actually feels really nice and I thought it would be absolutely perfect to use for wearable toiles when I'm drafting a design. Having the cheap fabric means I'm free to experiment as it doens't matter if the final garment actually works out.

This top is a pretty similar concept to my jersey shirt. I really like the look of buttons with jersey and although I love the design of the shirt I wanted to give a slightly different design a go. I used my much loved technique of sewing the buttons through both layers of fabric to avoid buttons holes on jersey which is such a great solution when sewing with stretchy fabric that can easily slip over your head. For the button band I actually used this tutorial on binding a neckband. I don't think I'd ever use this technique to bind a neckband but it was perfect for this top. I cut a long 3"strip and then followed the instructions to attatch it along the whole of the front of the top and the neckline. It worksd perfectly, the thickness makes the button band nice and stable and it's a really neat finish on the inside as well as the outside. The top is finished with a lettuce hem which is currently my favourite way of hemming jersey tops.

I  think these projects are my favourite kind: choosing inspiration from ready to wear and then trying to replicate it. It definitely helps to use a cheap fabric in case it all goes wrong but I've found that actually most things can be salvaged (to some extent!). Like my jersey shirts, I think that this will be a design that I make again in lots of different colours.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Chambray Summer Ruffle Dress

Despite posting this on a very rainy day at the end of September there was a time this year that I was actually able to wear this dress! Dresses seem to be one of the most popular items of clothing to make but they have never been something that I have made regularly. This is mainly due to the fact that dresses aren't a part of my everyday wardrobe and so I haven't ever had much need to make one, exept for a specific occasion such as my prom dress. However, this year I was determined to make myself a summer dress. My only aim was for it to be light and not too fitted to be perfect for hot weather.

I drafted a very simple cami-style bodice with thin straps and then attatched two layers of gathers to create the skirt. I don't think I could have created an easier design! It's exactly what I had in mind though, perfect for heatwaves. I really love the ruffles that the skirt creates but I was careful not to over-gather the fabric and I'm pleased with the volume of the final skirt. The bodice is probably a bit too big despite wanting a loose fit but seeing as it's a dress to be worn on holiday it doesn't really bother me enough to go back and change it.

I actually made this dress about three days before leaving to go on holiday, when I finally came to the conclusion that going on a summer holiday without a summer dress was on the route to ruining my carefully curated handmade holiday wardrobe! The lack of time meant that I wouldn't be able to buy any more fabric or purchase a pattern. I know I could have bought a PDF, but I much prefer printed patterns and I prefer drafting my own patterns even more. So the lack of pattern didn't really pose a problem but the lack of fabric initially did.

I don't really have any suitable fabrics for a dress stashed away as I tend to buy fabrics with stretch and try not to keep farbics in my stash for too long. The idea of having enough fabric leftover from another project seemed far-fetched, but I had a look through some of my fabric leftovers and managed to find the perfect thing! I rarely buy or ask for more fabric than I need for a project but sewing plans have a tendency of changing, meaning that sometimes fabric is leftover or more needs to be purchased at the last minute. In the case of my chambray top the situation was the former and I ended up using less fabric than I had initially intended as my plans changed. This meant that I just (and I mean just!) about had enough of this lovely chambray farbic leftover from my top to squeeze out this dress.

Luckily, I didn't want the ruffles to be overly volumous as I didn't have enough fabric to gather them any more even if I had wanted more gathers. I really used every last scrap of fabric (which is a really satisfying I always find!). The lack of fabric did mean that there is a seam in the centre back of one of the ruffles where I had to sew two pieces of fabric together but it really doesn't bother me that much - especially as I can't actually see that when I'm wearing the dress!

Monday, 9 September 2019

The Perfect Grey Linden Jumper

This September marks the start of my first year without wearing a uniform, which of course means that there are lots of clothes waiting to be sewn! When it comes to making more everyday clothes I've found that what I really need to sew at the moment are long sleeved tops. I spend most of winter freezing, so making tops that can be worn either alone or on top of t-shirts (i.e. as jumpers) is exactly what I have in mind. This also means that I want to make something out of pretty much all the knit fabrics I see!

My latest make ticks all the boxes which is no surprise as the Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt has never disappointed yet! This is in fact the tenth one I've made - TEN!! Not all for me, as my Mum also loves this pattern. Each version I make seems to turn out completely differently due to fabric weight, cuff/hemband addition and also length. I don't wear all of my Lindens as the ones sewn a couple of years ago no longer fit or aren't what I want to wear at the moment, but the majority are still worn regularly. I can immediately see this one becomming my new favourite as it's already filled a gap by being the perfect length and colour to pair with brighter trousers.

When a make is this simple I really like to spend time on the details to make sure it's finished to the best possible level. I really love wide hems, I think they add a much more professional finish and they're also much nicer than small hems on jersey fabric. I was keen to make this jumper the perfect cropped length. I think the length is just right and the proportions are definitely aided by the wide hem. It might be hard to tell from the pictures but I've added two rows of topstitching to secure the hem in place which is another really small detail that I love. I also decided to add cuffs which finish offnthe top nicely.

The only slight hiccup in the making of this top was the neckband. The rib fabric I used is super stretchy, meaning that I had to unpick the neckband (which I had overlocked in place!) and cut it almost in half before re-attatching it as it just wasn't being stretched enough to bring in the neckline. It was annoying but defintiely worth it and the fabric is perfect in every other way. It means that I have a better idea of what to do next time I use such a stretchy fabric on a Linden as the majority of the ones I've made in the past were using sweatshirt knits not ribs. In fact, the next one is hopefully coming very soon as I absolutely love this top and I'm already convinced it would be perfect in a variety of other colours!

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Ochre Linden Sweatshirt

Despite having made more versions than I can recall off the top of my head, the Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt remains a pattern that I always have in my mind at the start of a sewing project. I'm currently on the lookout for sweatshirt knit fabrics to provide the perfect fabric for making a cropped jumper and I decided that the Linden Sweatshirt would be the perfect pairing with that type of fabric in order to achieve the garment that I had in mind.

What I love about this pattern is that simply using a different weight fabric or changing the hemline can give the jumper an entirely different look. As I mentioned I wanted to make a cropped sweatshirt as the long-sleeved Lindens that I already own are all long and the cropped ones have short sleeves. I used this quilted jersey farbic to make the sweatshirt and although I was slightly dissapointed with the colour when it first arrived the weight is perfect to make a jumper and I love the quilted motif.

If you're interested in reading more about this jumper feel free to head over to Minerva Crafts to do so.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Purple Stripes Boxy T-Shirt

I'm a firm believer that the most basic makes are often the best. Whilst I love planning and executing bigger projects, t-shirts remain one of my favourite things to make. Not only can they be made from less than a metre of fabric, they're also perfect for showcasing more interesting prints and designs. T-shirts are also really quick to make and it's nice to make something and know that it's destined to receive a lot of wear. I really love jersey fabrics and often find myself levitating towards them in fabric shops - probably why I seem to be constantly making t-shirts!

When a garment is really simple I find that the shape of it becomes much more important and the proportions have to be just right. In this case I wanted to make myself a cropped boxy top which is a style I really love. After a bit of back and forth I think I may have finally got the proportions of the pattern just right! I used a ready to wear top to determine the width and length of the bodice something that I find often really helps to make the top look professional and not handmade if I'm not using a pattern. Having now drafted a pattern for this top I'm hoping to replicate again and again!

Another one of my favourite things about basic makes are statement details. As evidenced here and here, I'm a big fan of basic tops with a twist. I've noticed quite a few tops with contrast neckbands cropping up and I mentally added it to the list of details I wanted to try out. This make proved the perfect opportunity and I added a contrast neckband with the charcoal rib I had leftover from this dress. The fabric I used definitely has a touch of grey in it (although in real life it's primarily lilac) so I think it goes nicely with the grey neckband.
The jersey I used on this top is gorgeous, it's medium weight so holds it's shape really nicely and feels lovely to wear. I love stripes but it can sometimes be hard to find them in colours other than blue/black and white so I was really pleased to find this purple one with narrower stripes. I bought this fabric when I went to the Knitting & Stitching Show at Olympia so it's nice to have a reminder of that day everytime I wear this top!

I'm really pleased to have another basic but very wearable top to wear and I think this one is one of my absolute favourites! For something so simple it's really nice for details to work so effectively. The t-shirts are unlikely to stop here and I'm looking forward to making a couple more using this pattern.