Thursday, 29 March 2018

My top tips for sewing the Kelly Anorak

Last week, I talked all about my Kelly Anorak, and just how much I am in love with it! As I mentioned, it was one of my biggest projects yet, and is definitely one of my favourite/proudest makes. It was definitely a step up in my sewing game, and I learnt quite a few new sewing skills. I thought that I would share some of my top tips for sewing a (lined) Kelly Anorak as a nice recap, both for me to remember and for anyone considering making one.

Use Closet Case Pattern's Sew-along

I don't think I would have had much clue what was going on if I had just used the pattern instructions.  While they aren't bad, I do think that such an in-depth make requires (for me, anyway!) much more detailed instructions. Luckily, a new sew-along was launched on the Closet Case blog at the start of the year, which was perfect timing for when I started making my anorak.

Sew with a  walking foot

A walking foot is definitely not compulsory for sewing an anorak, but I would really recommend one. While they are fairly expensive, I use mine all the time. I mainly use my walking foot for sewing knit fabrics, but found that it was really helpful for sewing with the thicker fabric that I used for my anorak. I also used a jersey lining, so my walking foot was very helpful for that too.

Take your time top-stitching

I often think that top-stitching is one of those things that will either make or break a garment. I do usually use topstitch thread when topstitching, which is thicker than normal thread, but for my Anorak I just stuck to the colour matching thread for a couple of reasons. Topstitching thread is not available in that many colours compared to normal thread, and while the colours are usually quite good for denims, I could find nothing that was even remotely close to the light blue that I used for my anorak, whereas there are lots of shades for the normal threads. The other problem with topstitching thread is that it can clump quite easily. While I don't find this a problem when sewing on more stable fabrics, I didn't want to risk it with my anorak fabric.
Another helpful (but not necessary) piece of equipment is a jeans needle. As aforementioned, thicker fabrics (canvas, denim, gabardine, twill) that you might use for an anorak can be tricky to sew and as the Kelly anorak require quite a bit of topstitching it's nice to use something that will give you a bit more accuracy.

Choose your hardware wisely

Ahh... the hardware. My Kelly Anorak was the first time that I have properly used hardware that isn't just jeans buttons. The anorak requires grommets and snaps, both things that I hadn't ever used before. There is a kit available from Closet Case, which in hindsight could have been helpful, but I decided not to buy it due to the over-seas shipping price and because I had my heart set on a silver finish. I gathered my hardware in bits from different shops, which was quite aggravating but worked out fine in the end. The only thing that I would say is that the Hemline snaps are not good, and I will try to find some others next time (maybe from Prym?). I'll also add that if you're not about to start making anoraks on a regular basis, then try to purchase snaps which can be installed using a hammer rather than a proper tool. You can of course purchase this if you think it would be greatly beneficial to you, but I don't tend to use snaps very often on my garments.

Have another pair of hands at the ready

There are a lot of steps in making an anorak, and found that another opinion can be really helpful. I found pinning and sewing the waistband casing to be really annoying and difficult, and my Mums help in lining it up and triple checking that it was straight was invaluable! I also borrowed her to install the snaps and grommets, not something that I would dare to do! On a more selfish note, it's also really nice to have someone to show off your anorak to at each stage!

You don't have to press

Although this might not be relevant for all anoraks, the fabric that I used would not (and I mean not!) iron. This really irked me at first, especially as quite a few steps seemed to involve ironing, but I found that in the end I could get away with some finger pressing. I also flattened the placket by placing weights (e.g. heavy books and tins) along the edge and leaving them there for a couple of days. Even this didn't make a huge different, but it definitely helped. I've also had to accept that the pockets aren't ever going to lay completely flat, which although is something that annoys me I can definitely deal with it!

Have a breather project in between

Sewing an anorak is intense. There are what feels like hundreds of steps and pieces. It's easy to feel overwhelmed, so I would really recommend taking a break from sewing just one thing for a prolonged period of time. I made my marigold trousers in between anorak sewing, and the quickly finished project really helped to keep going. Make sure it's a nice and easy make though, like a pattern you've made lots of times before, there is no point stopping mid-project to start sewing another difficult garment!

I hope that these tips are helpful if you do decide to make a Kelly Anorak (or any anorak for that matter). I really enjoyed making my Kelly, I would highly recommend making one as a way to push and test your sewing skills. My final tip is to take your time, but most importantly to enjoy it!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

My Finished Kelly Anorak

I feel as though I've been working on this for ever, so I'm so excited to be able to finally wear it! It is, of course, my Kelly Anorak. Last year, I decided that I wanted to try and make something that would really push my sewing skills, and so I chose to make the Closet Case Patterns Kelly Anorak. The plan to make an anorak has actually been with me for a while, although it didn't fully form until quite recently. Before I even got onto the sewing, there were so many different things to do to prepare, and so I did everything bit by bit. First, I bought the fabric when I visited Stoff and Stil. It is an absolutely stunning duck egg blue fabric. I also decided to make the lined version of the anorak, so I purchased this gorgeous jersey from Higgs and Higgs which is incredibly soft. Following this, I slowly assembled all the pieces: the rivets, the zip, the snaps etc.

Making this anorak was... a test of my patience to say the least! There were a lot of pattern pieces, especially as I made the lined version. This is definitely the longest I have ever spent on a project but it was absolutely worth it. The fabric is one of my favourite parts, I absolutely love the colour, and I also really like the lining. I made the sleeves out of one of those slippery fabrics, which is something that a lot of ready to wear coats use as their lining. It really helps to get the coat on and off, and it meant that I was able to get all of the necessary pattern pieces out of the fabric that I had.

There were definitely some parts of making this that were exasperating, so I would recommend having a big project like this as something going on in the background - at the same time I made a couple of breather sewing projects which helped to make the whole thing less intense. The lining comes as an expansion to the original pattern, but not all of the original pattern pieces are required when using the lining pieces. For example, there is a new sleeve pattern piece which you need to cut both the main fabric and the lining fabric out of. I did find this slightly confusing at first as it wasn't perfectly explained on the pattern, but after some persevering I did manage to make sense of it. I would also recommend using the sew-along for this anorak. I pretty much relied solely on this and hardly glanced at the instruction booklet.

There are so many parts of this anorak that I love, it's impossible to choose my favourite aspect! I am so pleased that I decided to line it though, I think that it looks really nicely finished. The lining also adds a bit of extra warmth which is necessary during spring here! One of my favourite parts is the Liberty hanging loop. I love splashes of colour so much, and this is one of my favourite Liberty prints, so it feels just right to have it inside.

I also love the hardware, I think it gives it such a professional finish! While hammering in snaps and rivets is slightly terrifying, it is definitely worth it: I love the end look. I had a bit of difficulty finding the right cord, and while a lighter grey would have been my first choice I'm actually really pleased with the dark grey. The cord locks are also from Stoff and Stil. I haven't bought any cord stoppers yet, but a bit of sellotape on the ends of the cord is definitely not going to put me off wearing this coat!

I really can't say how pleased I am with this. I just love it! I think it might be one of my favourite things I've ever sewn, and it's definitely one of my proudest makes. It's also finished in perfect time for spring, so I hope that I'm going to be getting lots of wear out of it soon.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

5 Handmade Clothes perfect for Autumn and Winter

At the end of the summer holidays I did a roundup of my favourite makes that I wore. Now that we are (almost!) approaching spring, I thought it could be a good idea to write about my favourite handmade clothes that I wore during autumn and winter. It's interesting to look back over the past few months and see which makes have been worn again and again! I think that the switch between summer and autumn is one of the biggest, so these clothes are all very different to the ones I wore last season.

Button-Down Skirt

I've worn this skirt a lot since making it. To say I love wearing it is an understatement! The contrast fabric strip brightens it up a bit but is still very wearable. I love the professional look of the brass buttons, and it makes me smile to think that it used to be a pair of jeans.

Burnt Orange Cleo

I have worn this dress so much this autumn, particularly over my stripy turtleneck. I really love the colour of it, and it works well in all seasons depending on which layers you wear under it. I love the colour of the fabric so much. My turtleneck has also been worn a lot, it's the perfect style for this time of year.

Rosa Shirt

I've worn both my Rosa shirts quite a bit so far this year. The blue chambray one in particular always makes me smile - I really love the Liberty facing! I think that it's the perfect way to differentiate between wearing jumpers every day too, which is very tempting at this time of year! This were especially good for autumn, but worked nicely in the winter too.

Coco Dress

I can't say how much I love this dress, it is everything there is to ask for in a handmade dress. The fabric is amazing, the stripes are just perfect. I love how stripes can look either summery or more wintry depending on their colour, size etc. This dress is so comfortable too.  It's a great one to put layers on top of during the colder months.

Linden Sweatshirt

Although I'd like to be able to wear dresses and shirts most days, the reality is that it is just too cold! My Linden sweatshirt is so lovely and warm. The fabric is really nice and it is lovely and snuggly. The Linden is definitely my go-to pattern for a jumper.

Friday, 2 March 2018

A Coco to defeat the Cold

I have yet another Coco jumper to share today, and yet another handmade gift! Every time I make this pattern I'm amazed at how different it can look with different details and fabrics. It really is a great pattern, I don't think that you'd be able to guess that this jumper, my pineapple top and my stripy top are all from the same pattern. I made this Coco for my lovely friend's Mum, who I have known for a very long time, and who kindly gave me a bag of fabric scraps given to her by her sister who works in costume. At the bottom of the bag, there was a lovely fleecy fabric which she asked me to make here a Coco out of, after having seen my wear one of my Cocos.

The pattern works with a mulitude of fabrics, and this fleece is definitely on the thicker, less stretchy end of the spectrum. To make up for the thickness of the fabric, I made the neckband wider by a couple of inches. I did that after reading this from Tilly and the Buttons, and it worked perfectly. The funnel neck isn't too bulky as I had originally feared. It's sometimes nice to go back to a familiar pattern and sew it up almost mindlessly (I have made a lot of Cocos!).

As I said, I've made so many Coco tops by now that they really are a breeze to sew, and this one was no different. It has long sleeves, cuffs and a funnel neck which really makes it a super cosy jumper; the side splits also add a nice extra detail. I was actually able to give it to the recipient on a snow-day, so it felt perfect and snuggly for the weather! I think that this make was a success, and I hope that it will be well worn! I am slightly jealous as the fabric is so soft and soft, warm jumpers are exactly what is called for at the moment.