Sunday, 30 December 2018

Top 5 Favourite Makes of 2018

Looking back on a year of sewing is one of my favourite things to do. It's lovely to have an overview of the things I've made too. Choosing one favourite make of the year is just too difficult so I've chosen my top 5.

I'm sure you saw this one coming! I also mentioned on my last post that it was my proudest make of the year. I love it so much, I can't wait to wear it again in the spring.

I've worn my Stella hoodie so much since I made it and I continue to love it every bit as much. The texture of the fabric is perfect and I love the contrast hood lining in the pink and grey stripes. I've since added cuffs to the end of the sleeves which have made me love it even more and it's super comfy for winter.

I haven't actually worn these trousers for a while as it's just been too cold but during spring I wore them constantly. There are so comfortabel and I love how they look. These are another item that I can't wait to be able to wear again in the warmer weather.

It feels so strange looking at this skirt as it is currently completely the wrong season for it but during the heat wave that we had in July it was absolutely perfect to wear. I love the detail of the ribbon on this skirt, it elevates a basic denim skirt into something more special.

Finally, I had to include these as they make me so happy! I've actually found that I'm able to wear them much more in the colder weather and they cheer up a gloomy day without being too over the top. 

Even narrowing it down to 5 proved difficult, I think that this year I've managed to make more things that I can actually wear everyday. I love being able to wear handmade clothes. Thank you so, so much for reading my blog this year!

Sunday, 23 December 2018

2018 Sew Down

I still can't quite believe that it's almost the end of 2018! I really feel as though I've managed to improve my sewing skills this year and curate a handmade closet that I love and where lots. I'm looking forward to seeing what ends up under each category for my sew down this year! I really enjoyed doing this last year, it's quite surprising looking back at that post and seeing how much my taste has changed since last year.

Proudest make: Without a doubt, this has to be my Kelly Anorak! I love it so so much and I am so proud of so many different aspects of it. Wearing it is the best feeling. This time last year it was something on my to-sew list but I never really believed that I'd be able to make it so I'm so pleased I did! I'm also really proud to have finally made a pair of jeans.

Most worn make: As I mentioned this year I've managed to make a lot more items of clothing that I love to wear and that I do wear on a regular basis. Although I was tempted to choose my Linden jumper or my Stella hoodie for this, realistically I think that my Ginger Jeans have probably received the most wear overall.

Least worn make: I always feel slightly disappointed thinking about those makes that don't get as much/any wear but although I don't wear my Honeycomb top I'm still really glad I made it as I enjoyed learning new techniques. It's a great pattern but the combination of the colour and style means that it just isn't one that I wear.

Most unexpected make: If you'd asked me a year ago whether I would consider wearing a pair of gingham trousers, the answer would have certainly been no. Flash forward to a summer full of brightly coloured trousers and chances are I'll be wearing these! This was a project where I was completely inspired by a fashion trend and I couldn't be happier with the outcome.

Last year's favourite: More gingham! I actually think that my gingham top might be one of my most worn makes of all time. I love it so much, it's one of those items of clothing that instantly makes me feel happy when I put it on.

Favourite make for others: Sewing for others is always nerve-wracking and sewing for others outside your family even more so, but my friend for whom I made this top was so lovely about receiving it that I loved giving it to her. Also, it was a difficult project that I wasn't sure I'd be able to achieve so I'm proud of this top too.

Most used pattern: My most used pattern of this year was the Tilly and the Buttons Freya top. I made three versions using an un-altered version of the pattern: this one (my favourite) a mustard one and another stripy version. However, I also used the bodice as a base for several more projects. It's a really great block to use to help draft a t-shirt.

Favourite fabric shop: Visiting and discovering fabric shops is one of my absolute favourite things to do. I absolutely loved going to the Higgs & Higgs warehouse shop, there fabric is gorgeous.

Favourite fabric: This is a fabric I used on one of my latest makes - I've coveted the gorgeous French Terry Atelier Brunette collection for ages and I was so happy to finally sew something out of one of the fabrics! It feels and looks as lovely in real life as it does on the screen.

Most exciting sewing event: One of the most exciting sewing related things for me this year has been having the chance to use an overlocker, I love using it so much and I love how it's improved my sewing. The insides of my garments are now as beautiful as the outside!

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Papercut Patterns Anima Pants

I've wanted to make a pair of jogging trousers for a while. Something comfortable to throw on when it's cold seems like the perfect garment in winter. I also wanted to find the perfect pattern and fabric so this make has taken longer than anticipated although I'm so pleased that I spent time planning before sewing. The main concept that I had in my head was a pair of jogging trousers that I could wear not to run in but just to wear, so I wanted something a bit smarter than an activewear fabric and also a pattern that had a few more interesting details.

One of the key things that I wanted pattern wise was for there to be a faux-fly, a detail that I really like as it makes the trousers smarter but you don't actually have to sew in a zip. Finding a trouser pattern that ticked all the boxes was quite difficult: any without fastenings were designed for stretchy fabrics and therefore didn't have a faux-fly, and any designed for non-stretch fabrics had the opposite problem of having zips and buttonholes. I did find the perfect pattern in the end: the Papercut Patterns Anima Pants.

The only change I made was to omit the cuffs as I knew that I wanted to roll the trousers up at the ends. It was the first time I've used a Papercut Patterns pattern although I can't think why as their collections are all stunning. The pattern cutting was impeccable, the only thing I found slightly frustrating was that there was no instruction booklet. Instead, the instructions were laid out on the same sheet as the pattern pieces. Rather than have to leave out a huge sheet of paper I photographed each step of the instructions which worked fine, but I definitely prefer having a palpable copy of the instructions on hand. This was the only default I found with the pattern though, and it's a minor default at that.
I just love this pattern so much! I actually asked for it for my birthday alongside this gorgeous loopback jersey as I initially planned to sew the trousers in that fabric. The current season does mean that a lightweight fabric just wouldn't get as much wear though so I decided to save the blue jersey for spring (I'm already excited about making a second pair!) and make a grey pair in a thicker jersey for the time being.

The problem now was, of course, choosing the fabric. I've mentioned several times that I much prefer buying fabric in person rather than online and I think that with knit fabrics in particular it's hard to know what to expect until they arrive. Because the weight and amount of stretch is so important when sewing with knits I rarely buy them online unless it's a manufacturer that I've used before. Having said this, buying fabric online can be a perfect alternative it's just that with these trousers in particular I wanted the fabric to be exactly right.
I ended up pretty much stumbling into the perfect fabric! Upon a recent trip to Cambridge I had to, of course, visit Backstitch which is a gorgeous fabric shop. At the time I wasn't really sure whether or not I still wanted to make a pair of grey joggers but when I saw this fabric it was just perfect for what I had in mind. My Mum always selects great quality fabrics so I knew I wouldn't regret buying this one when she persuaded me to get it. It honestly is the perfect fabric for what I envisioned! It's a lovely shade of grey and fairly heavy weight. The inside is so soft and snuggly too making the joggers even more comfortable. The fabric was an absolute joy to sew with, partly because it has little stretch.

As you've probably guessed by now I love these trousers so, so much. I have already worn them lots and I'm sure that I will continue to wear them throughout the rest of winter and well into spring. I'm looking forward to making a second pair already and I'm also hoping to use the pattern with other fabrics too, with a few adaptations it should work well for lots of different fabrics.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Atelier Brunette Linden Sweatshirt

Sometimes, a fabric and a pattern come together perfectly; this was one of those times. Atelier Brunette are one of my absolute favourite fabrics designers. I love looking at their new designs as soon as they release a collection and I have about a hundred garments in my head that are made up in their fabrics! Unfortunately, beautiful fabrics do tend to cost more which is one of the reasons I don't sew with Atelier Brunette fabrics as often as I'd like to. However, I have sewn with them a few times in the past and each time I've been delighted at the quality of the fabric as well as their gorgeous designs. I find that good quality knit fabrics in particular are hard to find so it's good to know which manufacturers/ designers produce good quality fabrics, especially when ordering online.

I've admired the french terry fabric collection for a while now. There are a variety of prints and colour ways available. I love the glittery/metallic effect as it adds interest to the fabric but at the same time isn't over the top in the slightest. I wasn't sure initially which colour way to go for but in the end I opted for navy - a very repetitive and slightly boring choice considering most of the things I make are blue but at least it means that I know I'll love and wear the outcome! When it comes to seasonal clothing I prefer more subtle things too so I really like how the gold dashes gives a very small nod to Christmas while being perfectly fine to wear all year round too.

I've made so many Linden sweatshirts now that I know the construction off by heart! This was such a quick and easy make especially as I sewed it up on my overlocker. I've discovered that I really enjoy top-stitching neckbands too, I find there's something really satisfying about finishing touches. I decided not to topstitch the cuffs and hem band on this jumper to allow for a softer more comfortable finish. It did get on my nerves slightly that they weren't topstitched down the first few times I wore the it, but in the end I decided not to go back and topstitch them as I like the slightly less rigid finish.

For me, this is just the perfect jumper. I love the fabric, I love the pattern. When it comes to Autumn and Winter I wear these kinds of jumpers constantly so I'm delighted to have this one in my wardrobe. The fit of the Linden jumper is just perfect, ever so slightly oversized meaning it's really comfortable and warm. The sleeves actually ended up a little too long but I really like the extra length as it makes the jumper even more comfy. The fabric is really soft on the inside too, making it the perfect thing to throw on when it's cold.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Mrs Potts Costume

I have a slightly different project to share today, not the kind of thing I've ever made before! I tend to sew almost exclusively every day clothing but was recently asked to make a costume for a pantomime. The play in question is Beauty and the Beast and I was asked to make the outfit for Mrs Potts. I was given both the fabric and pattern and pattern view and set to work. The pattern is a simplicity pattern (I'm afraid I can't remember the exact one though) which was actually a design for princess costumes but it's quite a classic fairytale dress.

Because I wasn't able to fit the dress onto the person and because it's for a performance I omitted the closure down the centre back and simply turned the seam allowance under and stitched it. I've handed it over now but I expect that either velcro or ties will be attached so that it can easily be put on on and off. It also means that the dress can be used in the future too as it isn't a definitive size. 
I hadn't used a simplicity pattern for a couple of years before making this dress and I was more that just slightly confused by the instructions in places! Because I've grown accustomed to the wonderfully clear instructions of Indie patterns I did find the layout quite frustrating. In reality the dress isn't very complex though and I was able to pretty much make up the construction process as I went along. I don't anticipate using another simplicity pattern anytime soon though...

Because dresses don't tend to be the kind of thing I wear I rarely make them, so it was nice to have a project that wasn't another jumper/t-shirt! I particularly like the detail of the peter pan collar.
This was a really fun project to take part in, and not the kind that I've done before. As mentioned I've handed the dress over to someone else now, who I believe is going to add some more 'teapot-esque' features whatever those may be (presumably a spout!) as the dress doesn't currently even vaguely ressemble a teapot! I'm looking forward to seeing the finished outfit though, It's quite nice being part of a project where different people will be adding different things. I'm looking forward to seeing the play too and to being able to spot my dress on the stage.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Blue and White Freya Top

The Tilly and the Buttons Freya top from Stretch! was a pattern that I knew I'd be making a lot of as soon as I saw it. It's a style that I really like, especially the mock neck. I find that high neck tops are perfect for the winter and it's nice to have a pattern that I can go back to time and again. This was a top that I didn't necessarily need in my wardrobe, but when I saw the fabric I thought it would make a perfect Freya, and as I couldn't get that idea out of my head I decided to make the idea a reality! I found the fabric in a really small shop with fabric stacked from floor to ceiling (the kind of shop that you have to search through a lot of stuff before finding what you want!). The fabric is really a very lightweight jersey but the stretch is what makes it so perfect for this pattern - I think it might be one of the stretchiest fabrics I've ever sewn with. 

I love stripy tops and it's always nice to find a slight variation on a classic stripe. The variation is one of the reasons I like this fabric so much. I sewed this top entirely on my overlocker and as you can imagine it was finished in no time! I was slightly worried about how difficult the stripes would be to match, but in the end I think the stripe matching came out quite well. The fabric did move a lot while sewing it though so I would recommend sewing the side seam with a long machine stitch first and then overlocking once you've checked that the stripes are matching nicely. Other than that there really were no difficulties with sewing this top. The stretchiness of the fabric is probably the main reason that the neckband went in so smoothly and sits so nicely. In my first Freya top the fabric is thicker and much less stretchy meaning that the neckband was both harder to install and doesn't sit quite as nicely. 

Overall I'm really pleased to be able to add another simple but useful top to my winter wardrobe. I think that the Freya top is a really great pattern, and I expect I will be sewing even more in the future! For both this version and my first one I left the top quite long to be able to tuck it in and kept the sleeves long too, whereas with my mustard Freya the bodice and sleeves are both shorter. The versatility is one of the things I really like about this pattern, not to mention how easy it is to hack it into a different garment altogether.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Wide Legged Jeans

I used to be strangely scared at the idea of making jeans. Then I made a pair, and I realised that there really is nothing to fear. Now, I really enjoy making jeans! I have just finished making my second pair of jeans and I know that even more pairs will follow. I've wanted to make a pair of wide-legged jeans for a while, pretty much ever since the Megan Nielsen Ash Jeans pattern came out with that variation. However, I try to avoid buying a new pattern whenever I can, so I decided to try and hack the Closet Case Ginger Jeans pattern that I already own. This heavy weight denim from Minerva Crafts seemed like the perfect opportunity to give the jeans a go; I still can't believe that what I had in my mind actually succeeded!

Somehow, jeans have become one of my favourite things to sew. Although I still hate the fitting (and I did have several fitting issues with these that I will touch upon later!) I love longer more involved makes. There's something so satisfying in the way jeans come together. My favourite step has to be installing the fly, the Closet Case instructions are flawless and I love the method they use. For me, after the fly is installed the fabric transforms from nothing to an almost complete and wearable item of clothing. I love how professional jeans look when finished with topstitching and hardware too.

Onto the fitting issues... There were definitely several parts of the process where I began to wonder if I'd ever be able to actually wear these jeans. As you can probably see from the photos, the jeans are way too tight on the hips. This was absolutely my fault rather than the fault of the pattern for several reasons, the first being the fabric. I used a non-stretch denim, and while you can absolutely make non-stretch jeans, you absolutely have to size up if you do! The Ginger jeans are designed for stretch fabrics so it's no surprise that they don't fit. I just about got away with using the smallest seam allowance I possibly could, but it's still a struggle to wear them. However, I had a similar problem at the start with my other jeans and they have stretched a lot with wear and are now very comfy, so I'm really hoping that these will stretch over time and wear too. I am really annoyed that this happened again especially as I had the same problem initially with my other pair, but because those now fit I didn't think to make adjustments at the time of cutting the fabric. I have noted the problem in very big letters on my pattern pieces now though, so fingers crossed the mistake won't be happening a third time!

The main adjustment that I made is the same one I made on my previous pair, and one that I have to make on any non-elasticated bottoms. I find reading other peoples tips/reviews on patterns really helpful and one of the most helpful Ginger Jeans reviews that I found was this one by Guthrie and Ghani. Lauren mentioned that she took a wedge out of the back yoke and I guessed that I would need to do the same thing due to having a sway back. I actually still had quite a large gape at the waistband even after this adjustment, so I also took out a triangular wedge from the waistband and waistband facing. I did exactly the same thing on my first pair of jeans so I knew it was the right adjustment to make. To be honest I could have done with taking even more fabric out of the back yoke on this pair but I just wasn't able to with the limited room over my hips, so again that's something I'll bear in mind for next time.

Enough talk about the challenges and annoyances - let's talk topstitching! Every time I go into my local haberdashery to choose thread I always admire the silver topstitching thread and have joked about using it for several projects, on which it would have looked very over the top. Well, I finally topstitched something in silver and I think I found the perfect project! Topstitching is a classic feature on jeans but I wanted to add a bit of a twist to it. On my last pair of jeans I played it safe with colour-coordinating topstitching but I love topstitching and I really wanted to use that silver thread. Using such a contrasting colour was nerve-wracking but I just took my time and I love it SO MUCH! I really feel as though the topstitching as elevated these jeans into something really special. What I like about the design of the Gingers is that they're high waisted which means I can really show off the topstitching too (because what's the point of spending hours agonising over stitching if no-ones ever going to see it?!).

I still can't believe how well these jeans turned out. Despite a few fitting issues I think they're very wearable. The topstitching has to be my favourite aspect but I also really like the wide legs, I'm hoping to make another pair of wide legged jeans in the spring too. The rivets are a finishing touch that I think really add to these jeans too, I love the professional look that hardware gives.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Sewing for my Sister

I know, I know, this is probably the most seasonally inappropriate garment I could possibly talk about right now! I do promise that when I made this top the sun was shining and it was hot, although it is hard to imagine that kind of weather right now. Despite having made this top way back in July/August (I can't even remember exactly it was so long ago!) for some reason it turned into one of those things that I just never got round to writing about. I did consider waiting until next summer before talking about this top but I decided that my that point I will probably have forgotten absolutely everything about it!

If you think you're seeing double - you're not. At least, not quite! You might recognised this top from this one that I made. I made that top for my friend for her birthday and when my sister saw it on my dressform she asked if I would make her one too. I had some fabric left over and I actually made this top almost immediately after the first one. There are a few differences between the two tops though. My sister had a few changes in mind that she asked me to add. After the success of the cushion I made her last year I really wanted to sew her something else so I was really happy with the request - usually I'm the one asking her if she wants me to sew her something! I talked about how I drafted the pattern in much more depth in this post but because I'd already made the first top the second one took no time at all. The main change in this design is the omission of the tie and of course that made the whole process a lot easier!
Other than the obvious change with the tie-front there aren't many other changes. It's smaller that the first top, and the other difference is the length. Unfortunately my sister found it too short when she tried it on, but this was easily resolved with the addition of a band of fabric around the hem. To be honest it's hardly noticeable becuase of the busy print so I'm glad that that hurdle didn't cause much of a problem. 

That's about it for this top! If you're interested in finding out more about the construction head over to this blog post as the drafting of the two tops was pretty similar. I'm always nervous about sewing for others (especially my sister!) but I think she likes this top. Obviously it isn't currently getting any wear but hopefully next summer it will. One of the things that I like about the design is the panelling, the front and back bodice have a combined number of six panels and really like the look they give. They also make fitting much easier! I'm also pleased with how smoothly the I was able to adapt the top of the bodice, both the tie and the simple v-neck design sit really nicely.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Gingham Trousers

Where to start with these trousers?! I have been dreaming of making a pair of gingham trousers for such a long time and I finally made a pair! Ever since I made my gingham top last year I've been obsessed with gingham. My top has been one of my most worn me-made items ever and I wore my gingham shorts all through summer so it was only natural that a pair of trousers would be on their way! These are also perfect for autumn and apparently for taking photos in front of red post boxes too.

It took me a while to find the right pattern for these trousers. I had quite a strong idea in my mind of what I wanted and although the pattern I chose doesn't have exactly the same features, the trousers have turned out perfectly. I've seen quite a few pairs of gingham trousers available in shops on the high street, and was particularly inspired by those in Zara for the cigarette-style trouser leg (although I didn't want a belt). The pattern is the Cinnamon Trousers by CocoWawa Crafts, which has the added bonus of coming with a really clear sew-along video too. It features an elasticated waist at the back which makes fitting much easier as well as an invisible zip at the side. I'm really pleased with this pattern and I expect I'll be making another pair at some point!

A feature of the pattern that I knew I wanted to keep was the pleats at the pockets. I did worry slightly that the trousers would be too out-there with the pleats and the gingham but actually I feel as though the pleats add a nice bit of interest while still being subtle enough to not be over-the-top. The pattern does come with an option for ruffles/pleats at the hem of the trousers too, but I think that would have been a step too far!
As for the fabric, it's perfect for the trousers I had in mind. If you recognise it it's because it's actually exactly the same fabric that I used for my gingham top last year. I wear the top all the time and the gingham is exactly the right combination of size and colour so I knew I wanted to make the trousers out of the same fabric. The lovely people at Craft Cotton Co very kindly sent me some more of the gingham in order to make my trouser dreams come true, thank you so much!

As you've probably guessed by now, I love these trousers! I thought about making them for so long and I'm so glad I finally did. It's definitely Autumn now and so I expect that these trousers will be getting a lot of wear over the next few months. I expect I  have more gingham items of clothing than the average person now, although I make no promises that there won't be more in the future!

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Overlocker Unlocked - Insides

Other than the speed at which garments (mainly jersey ones) can be sewn on an overlocker, by far the best thing about overlocking for me is how beautifully finished the insides are. I love being able to put on a garment and admire the seams, somehow it just makes getting dressed in the morning that bit better (or at least to me it does)! In a lot of my un-overlocked garments the seams are fraying or the stitching is less secure and is starting to break. Even finishing edges with a zigzag stitch doesn't prevent fraying completely so it feels like such a treat to have beautifully overlocked seams without a fraying edge in sight. Today I thought I'd go through some photos of the insides of some of the overlocked garments I've made.
Personally, I enjoy spending time on projects to make them look beautiful on the inside as well as outside but it's tempting to just get the sewing finished without having to bother making the wrong side of a garment look nice too - after all, no one will see it. Overlocking is a great way to get a lovely finish on the inside but without spending too much time on this step.

Let's begin with some jersey makes. Although knit fabrics don't benefit from overlocking to counter fraying in the same way that woven fabrics do, it's still a really good idea to overlock them if you're able to. Not only does it speed up the process and allow for neat insides, the stitching has the massive benefit of being stretchy. I would also add that it's worth taking the extra time to change the overlocking thread to a matching colour, even it it's just from white to black. Although you can't see the stitching on the right side, if your fabric has a really big contrast (for example if the fabric is black and the thread is white) there is always a slight chance that the stitches will show through. I've written a tutorial here on a really quick way to change the threads of an overlocker if that's something you're interested in.

I've found that on jersey fabrics in particular overlocking has really helped to improve my neckbands. I have to say though, overlocking neckbands is a mixed blessing; I believe it was on this t-shirt that I had to unpick the neckband after I sewed it on the wrong way. It took a long time! However, I still think that the promise of a beautifully neat neckband outweighs the threat of unpicking and after that incident I always check multiple times before beginning to sew a neckband. I actually really enjoy sewing neckbands now. Despite their annoying tendency to gather, I've found that with lots of pins and stretching the neckband as I sew has solved this problem and I love the finish that an overlocked and topstitched neckband gives.

The inside of this t-shirt in particular is a classic example as to why putting on overlocked clothes makes me so happy! It just looks so neat and professional...

Moving onto some pictures of woven tops. I explained in this post the approach I like to take when overlocking woven fabrics and I really love the above picture. Sewing with denim is probably my main exception to my match the thread with the fabric rule, because I love the contrast between the white overlocking and the dark denim. So long as the thread tension is high enough the stitching shouldn't show through at the seams and I've also found that the thread tends to show less with woven fabrics than with knit fabrics. Even though it's only me who sees the inside it still makes me happy! 

In the case of fraying seams you really cannot beat an overlocker. I actually find the pattern of overlocking stitches quite nice too and on a pressed seam it gives a similar affect to a hong-kong finish which is quite nice. I don't have any photos of the tops I made before I knew that woven seams had to be finished but take my word for it, once you see something fray quite that badly you won't make the same mistake twice!
I hope you enjoyed looking at a few photos, this was somewhat different to what I usually write about but I really love being able to reflect on previous garments and I also love a bit of overlocking!

If you'd like to read any other posts in the series, you can do so here.