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.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Sewing for others: Floral Blouse

I've always enjoyed making things for other people and as my sewing has improved this has expanded to sewing for others outside of my family, something that I'm always happy to do. One of the main issues around sewing for a hobby is that I have ended up with quite a lot of clothes! On top of this, buying fabric isn't cheap. Sewing for other people is the perfect way to continue to sew without ending up with too many clothes or having to spend even more money on fabric. It also allows me to try sewing different styles of clothing that I might not make for myself. 

One of my mum's friends gave me a top of hers which she wanted to be replicated along with some fabric to do so. It was a fairly standard blouse which was easy enough to copy and I always enjoy the process of copying a RTW garment into a handmade one. It's actualy extremely similar to this top that I made my mum a couple of years ago (which she still loves!) so I was familiar with transferring the darts onto a pattern, which was probably the hardest part of the pattern drafting process. The original top did have a button placket down the back but I omitted this as it wasn't actually needed to put the top on and off. To make up for the lack of detail on the back I added a centre back seam that I topstitched either side of, although in hindsight the fabric is busy enough not to need it.

I tend to almost always sew facings on woven garments as I prefer the cleaner finish. However, with the interest of copying the top that I had been given I made some bias binding for this blouse to do a bias-neckline and I'm surprised at how much I like it! I think that my adversion to bias is when the neckline is bias bound as it often results in an uneven and somewhat bumpy neckline. In this case the binding is sewn right-sides together and then turned under and topstitched so that you can't see any of it on the right side of the garment which I like a lot more that sandwiching the neckline between the bias binding. I'm really pleased with how neat it looks too, especially on the inside!

I'm very happy with how this top has turned out and hopefully the recipient will be pleased too! One of the main differences in my sewing when it comes to others is spending a bit longer focusing on smaller details such as ensuring that the topstitching is completely straight. The pressure of sewing for someone else often leads to a slightly cleaner finish which is something I always try to incorporate into my own sewing too even though it's tempting to cut corners if no-one else knows!

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

An update on The Soothing Quilt EPP

A couple of months ago I introduced my latest English paper piecing project which I've named The Soothing Quilt. I wanted to give a quick update on it's progress mainly so that I have a backlog of photos and thoughts taken along the way which I think will be nice to look back through once the quilt is finished. Since June I've made quite a bit of progress on the quilt and the main thing I can't believe is how much the colour scheme is already changing! As I mentioned, the intention is for there to be a diagonal colour gradient, beginning and ending with purples while progressing through blues, greens, yellows, reds and pinks. 

I really love how the fabric collection draws the colours together with the three consistent designs. I feel genuinely excited when a new colour is introduced to the quilt! My aim is for the colour change to be gradual meaning that there are spots of green in the blue area and vice-versa. It's one of those patterns where my eyes are continually drawn to a new block with a fabric combination that I hadn't realised I'd added and choosing a favourite block is particulary difficult!

Unlike dressmaking where much of the project involves planning, drafting and cutting, the majority of EPP is spent actually sewing. While the glueing of paper to fabric can get a bit tedious, cutting out the fabrics for the next row is something that I really enjoy doing. I'm expanding it as a square to make sure that it can still be turned into a quilt even if I run out of fabric so cutting fabric is a batch process that increases as the quilt gets bigger and more blocks are needed. Having just cut out the fabric for the next row (where red will be introduced for the first time!) I have quite a bit of glueing ahead of me but I'm looking forward to sewing together some new blocks and seeing what the quilt looks like as it continues to change.

Friday, 26 July 2019

My Handmade Prom Dress!

For pretty much as long as I can remember, I've wanted to make my own prom dress. And I did! After months and months of planning and preparation and a few weeks of actual sewing my dream dress was completed in time for prom. This is definitely one of my all time favourite and proudest makes and to have a handmade dress to wear felt wonderful.

Like many bigger projects the planning of this dress took a lot longer than the actual sewing. Whilst I've had a vague vision of what I wanted for years, the more specific details were much hazier. I always knew that I wanted a fitted skirt with a side split but the style of neckline took me longer to decide upon. I think that the whole thing kind of slotted into place with the decision to make a halterneck dress, deciding on this detail allowed the process of fabric and pattern buying to begin as I now had the design for the dress in my head.

The pattern took a long time to decide on! Although a halterneck dress may seem like a fairly generic design I really struggled finding the right shape for the halterneck while making sure that the pattern was designed to be slightly more formal. I ended up hacking the pattern that I used a fair amount, something that I knew would be needed from the start, so rather than looking for an exact match I tried to look for a pattern that had the right bodice for what I wanted. I found the perfect bodice with the Simplicity 5330 pattern, the back and skirt design weren't what I wanted but the princess seams in particular were exactly what I was looking for. 

I made a couple of changes to the design of the pattern, the most obvious one being the back. There are two variations possible when using the simplicity pattern, neither of which were what I wanted. Instead, I drew a line across the back bodice pieces so that they aligned across the back under the armpits and then sewed them like this to create a semi-backless bodice. I'm so pleased this worked as I love the more elegant design as opossed to the filled in back of the original pattern. I'm delighted with the invisible zip too! They're definitely my favourite type of closure and although sewing this one proved slightly difficult as the dress had to align perfectly both at the top of the zip and at the waist it's another feature that I'm really glad to have spent time on.

The bodice took a lot of fitting and I actually made a toile (for the first time!). It was really quick and easy to do but I wanted to familiarise myself with the construction of the bodice as I couldn't use the pattern instructions due to the altered back. I also ended up having to take in a lot of fabric at the side seams as well as some gaping at the princess seams so thanks to the toile I didn't have to find that out when cutting into my actual fabric. The bodice of the dress is fully lined which makes it look beautiful inside too and it also feels very luxurious to wear.

The other main adjustment that I made to the pattern was to change the position of the slit. The pattern does have a slit included but it's in the side seam making the skirt looking quite shapeless and rectuangular in my opinion. I was worried about changing the position of the slit incase lining it up with the princess seam made it too central, but the positioning has worked perfectly and I'm so glad I changed it to make the dress a bit more modern and the skirt more flattering. What I effectively did was to make the princess seams appear to extend all the way down the skirt which I think makes the dress look slightly more cohesive. I had no idea whether or not my hacked pattern would actually work as I had to add the slit to be in line with the centre of what would have been a dart while also adding seam allowances. I changed the front skirt into three separate pattern pieces as opposed to one, much like the design of the front bodice. Luckily it worked exactly as I had hoped. 

I was surprised to find myself with time to spare before having to wear the dress after it's completion, although I did leave the dress for a week without a hem! I would have hated to have rushed such an important project though so I'm glad to have completed the dress earlier than necessary. What I hadn't thought about was a clutch bag so I ended up having to make one a few days before actually using it. Luckily, it was a very simple project. I designed a really simple bag to be made from the fabric leftovers with an envelope like design and box corners. To stabilise it I actually inserted card inside it which worked really well although it did make sewing the lining slightly more difficult. I used an eyelet as the closure with the intention of adding some sort of ribbon but found that I actually preferred it with just the eyelet which was heavy enough to weigh down the flap so I didn't need a tie to secure it. It's a very simple clutch bag but I think it works well with the dress and was exactly what I needed.

Compared to the design, choosing the fabric was easy. I started thinking about the type of fabric that I wanted in January (bearing in mind that my prom wasn't until late June!) and decided that I wanted to use a crepe. Atelier Brunette have a stunning range of viscose crepe fabrics which made my decision on which fabric to use very simple as I knew as soon as I saw their range that their fabrics would be perfect. In order to choose the colour I ordered swatches from Minerva Crafts - the first time I've ever ordered a fabric swatch! I chose swatches of green, navy and black and while I was initially tentative to settle on navy it felt like the colour most suited to me and the navy crepe was gorgeous, not at all dull.

I spent hours focusing on the tiny details of this dress such as which button to use for the closure and handsewing the hem and slit seam allowance. It is without a doubt my dream dress and a project that I've wanted to sew for ages and finally had the opportunity to do so. I really loved making this prom dress and it's a garment that I'll treasure forever. Wearing any garment that you've made is wonderful but wearing this dress in particular knowing that I'd made it felt really special.

Monday, 15 July 2019

White Twist Top

I've always been a big fan of basic tops with a slight twist, such as adding a patch or a ruffle. For this twist, I literally added a twist to an otherwise very basic white t-shirt, a feature I've been meaning to try and recreate for a while. Although I wasn't entirely sure where I was heading with it for most of the project, I'm realy pleased to have tried out a new technique whilst creating a very versatile garment.

The twist that I ended up with isn't quite as prominent as what I had in mind. Originally, I hoped it would be bigger and also looser. However, having to make this up as I went along meant that I had to go with what I had and to be honest I'm not displeased with the result. While I'd like to try and make another top with a bigger twist in the future the small one on this top has allowed it to be worn more often and I do quite like the subtleness of the feature.

A white t-shirt is pretty much as basic as an item of clothing can get yet I've been amazed at how much I've worn this top. It's filled apparent wardrobe gaps that I had no idea previously existed. Even though there was a high chance this top would be a complete failure I was able to experiment thanks to the fabric - white jersey bought for €2 from a market in Bordeaux! Using cheap fabric is a brilliant way to experiment with made up designs and in this case the fabric actually feels pretty good quality considering the price.

Other than the addition of the twist this top is pretty much as basic as it can get. I based the design to be the same as that of my stripy top which has been worn all the time since I've made it. Such a simple design meant that once I mastered the twist the top came together in no time at all and it's often quick projects like these which end up being the most enjoyable to make as well as the most worn garments.