Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Black and White Stripy Top

Whenever I see a stripy fabric the design for a stripy top immediately materialises in my head - I really do love stripes! This does, of course, mean that I have a fair few stripy tops but one of the things that I was lacking was a stripy top that could be worn as a jumper. In other words, a top for winter that could be worn with a t-shirt underneath. The criteria that I had in my mind meant that the fabric would also have to be of a heavier weight, meaning that this stripe ponte roma fabric was absolutely perfect.

I wanted to create a top which was cropped and boxy, in my opinion the perfect style for a cozy but nice top. One of the things I love about this design with this particular fabric are the dropped shoulders; the stripes mean that at the top of the sleeves the stripes appear to be vertical at the top and horizontal at the bottom. The dropped shoulder also means that the sleeves are quite roomy giving the top the boxy look and allowing for a t-shirt to easily be worn underneath. I drafted this top using a jumper borrowed from my friend and was amazed to see how similar the Tilly and the Buttons Nora top was to this top when it was released a couple of weeks later. It's a pattern that I probably would have bought had I not already drafted a similar one myself as I really like the style of it. I used the same self-drafted pattern for this top and the one that I made a few of months ago and I'm always surprised at how different the same pattern can look made in two different fabrics, in this case a heavier weighted ponte roma compared to a lightweight jersey.

I did make a couple of very small changes to the design of this top compared to the other although they are pretty much the same. The first change is the rather minute detail of creating a split-hem of even length at the front and back rather than a high-low hem. To be honest the main reason I did this was because I was worried that the front would be too short it I turned it up but any more and I'm glad I didn't as I like the length as it is. A split-hem is one of my favourite details and I think that it's particularly good on a boxy top as it creates a bit of definition.
The other change I made was to lengthen the sleeves. Although the sleeves on my previous top are by no means short I like to wear a long sleeve top underneath and didn't want it to show. Also, having extra long sleeves make the top really cosy. One of the nice things about making a pattern more than once (especially if it's a self-drafted one) is being able to adapt and tweak the pattern after appreciating the previous mistakes.

I really wasn't thrilled with the neck of this top once I finished it but it's something that has grown on me the more I've worn it. I love turtlenecks in winter but for some reason didn't like this one. I don't know if it's do do with the stiffness of the fabric or the shape of it but I was very close to unpicking it and sewing on a neckband. However, I decided to keep it on and wear it for a bit and as I said it's definitely grown on me. I still don't love the neck but I do love the top as a whole so I think I'm going to keep it this way.

Thursday, 17 January 2019


Photo credit: Backstitch
I've been somewhat falling behind in sharing the wonderful fabric shops that I've been able to visit so what better way to pick up than to talk about Backstitch! I visited this shop on a trip to Cambridge in November and it is every bit as lovely as it seems. The fabric shop is also surrounded by lots of other lovely independent shops so it's a great place to visit even with people who are reluctant to traipse around yet more fabric shops - in my case I often drag my sister along with me much to her annoyance! Although many independent fabric shops all stock fabrics by popular designers such as Atelier Brunette etc I love discovering fabrics that I haven't seen elsewhere and every shop has something unique. I'm always on the hunt for jersey fabrics in particular as good quality jersey is hard to find.

I only actually bought one fabric while I was in the shop despite being tempted by many others! I actually almost didn't buy this one either but was persuaded to do so by my Mum and I'm so glad I bought it. I bought this absolutely gorgeous grey knit fabric with a pair of jogging trousers in mind. As you can see from the finished trousers the fabric was perfect. It's a lovely colour and is really soft inside.

I actually then ordered another fabric from Backstitch online to make my Mum a Linden top for Christmas. We had both admired this fabric when we visited the shop so it was nice to have an excuse to go back and buy it! It's a ponte roma which is showing up quite red in the photo but it's true colour is a gorgeous burnt orange. Backstitch stock this ponte roma fabric in quite a few different colours so I expect that I'll be sewing with it again in the future...

Friday, 11 January 2019

A Grey Linden for my Mum

The Grainline Studio Linden sweatshirt has to be one of the easiest and speediest garments to sew; and, judging by the sheer number of Lindens that I've made, one of the most enjoyable garments to make too. There's nothing better than an instantly successful make and the Linden is just that. It's turned into a go-to pattern not just for me but also for my Mum.

It's good to have an idea of how much fabric you need when in a fabric shop and I now know how much I need to be able to make a Linden for my Mum meaning that when she spotted this lovely grey jersey fabric in Sew Over It the decision to make a Linden from it was practically already made!  The fabric is a lovely quality and perfect for the top although in hindsight my Mum did say that she finds it slightly dull. Ironically, although our trip to Sew Over It was at my request it was actually my Mum who came away with some fabric. I love sewing clothes for her so was perfectly happy to make another Linden.

At the time of purchase on a swelteringly hot day in late July the idea of wearing a heavy jersey fabric seemed unimaginable and as you can imagine the fabric was stashed away for several months. Of course, the weather for the fabric soon arrived though and so I set to work making it. I love looking at the contrast between the first Linden that I made my Mum and this one. Although the most obvious difference is that this one has been overlocked there are also differences in terms of equal neckband width and topstitching straightness and its nice to see how my sewing has improved. There isn't much else to say about this top and while it may not be the most exciting of projects it's a wardrobe staple that already has and hopefully will continue to receive a lot of wear.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Activewear Top

I recently had the opportunity to sew with activewear jersey, something I've never done before and a fabric that I was excited to try out! The fabric in question is this one from Minerva Crafts. I wasn't sure what to expect when the fabric arrived but it was perfect! I chose the blue colour way and it's such lovely colour. For my first venture into sewing activewear I decided to stick to a simple pattern as I wasn't sure what the fabric would be like to sew with. I also wanted to make something for my Dad and use the opportunity to get a head start on some Christmas sewing! 

The pattern I used really could not have been easier and I would highly recommend it for both a first jersey/activewear project and also a good pattern to use if you're sewing for someone else. It's the Oliver + S men's metro t-shirt which I've made once before but as a jumper. Whenever I use the same pattern several times I'm always amazed at how different each version looks, it's amazing how a different fabric or sleeve length can change the look of a garment completely! The other benefit to re-using this pattern is that I know it fits my Dad well, I find that when sewing for others especially it's best to find a couple of patterns that they like and that fit them well. This means that you can sew them multifple times without having to worry about fitting issues each time.

Despite being initially nervous about sewing with activewear jersey I was surprised and also pleased at how easy it was to sew, certainly no different to sewing regular jersey and much easier than sewing with a really stretchy jersey. I'm sure stretchier activewear fabrics exist but I found that this one was the perfect balance between being stretchy enough to work for activewear but not so stretchy that it was difficult to sew. The main difference is the feel of this fabric and it did feel quite strange to sew with at first as it isn't a texture I'm used to sewing with. The only difficulty was cutting the fabric as it tended to be quite slippy but again this wasn't really something that bothered me or something that couldn't be solved with a vast number of pins! 

I'm so pleased with this make. It was really fun to be able to experiment with a completely different type of fabric. My Dad was really pleased and hopefully he will get lots of wear out of it. Seeing as he has worn the jumper I made him last year quite a bit I'm sure this make will get quite a bit of wear too. I loved sewing this up on my overlocker (it was so fast!) and I also really like the contrast of the overlocking stitches on the inside. The only change I made to the pattern to switch it to activewear was to leave the neckline un-topsitched. I usually topsitch all of my neckbands but seeing as this top will be moved in more than normal tops I decided to leave the neckline unstitched as I expect the stitching would break. One of the joys of overlocking is how stretchy the stitching is, perfect for activewear!

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.