Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Perpetual Spring English Paper Piecing

I've found that I tend to share mainly dressmaking projects for a couple of reasons. The first being that dressmaking is definitely my favourite creative outlet and the second being that it's so much quicker than a lot of other types of sewing. However, there is one other type of sewing that I also love: English Paper Piecing. Because EPP projects are finished so much more rarely than dressmaking projects (perhaps two finished items a year as opposed to two a month) I never really got into the habit of writing about them. I considered not writing about this one at all due to the fact that it has been finished since 2016. 2016! For 2.5 years it has been completely finished yet I only just got round to actually taking photos of it. So writing about it now seemed slightly pointless. However, it's not only one of my favourite things but also one of my proudest things I have ever made so I decided that it warranted a blog post nevertheless.

I started EPP in December 2015 having aboslutely no clue how to do it but finding that it quickly became the perfect evening passtime for me. As with much of my sewing I was inspired by Florence whose English paper piecing projects are incredible. Shortly after my first couple of projects I decided to launch into a long term project (which in hindsight was far too ambitious!) as it was around this time that Florence released her Perpetual Spring EPP pattern and immediately wanted to make it. As you can see I not only made her pattern but I also copied her colour scheme - her version just looked so lovely and the pattern reminds me of daffodils.

I started this project in March of 2016 with the aim of giving it to my Mum for Christmas. I'm quite impressed with myself for managing to make it in 9 months! I also managed to keep it a secret from her for that duration, I believe she knew about the colour scheme and the fact that it was English paper pieced but had no idea what the final outcome would look like. I loved being able to give it to her after all that work! I left the framing down to my Mum who I think framed it perfectly. Despite being unframed for quite some time as an addition to all the months it took to make the finished piece is now up in our living room. While yellow isn't maybe the most obvious colour choice I really love it and although I technically made it for my Mum, the fact that it's in the living room means that I get to enjoy it too!

In making this I discovered that I really love having a big EPP project on the go. Since finishing this I've only really made small EPP projects but I found that I missed having a large project too much and started another a couple of months ago which is perhaps even more ambitious than this one was - I'm hoping to write a bit more about that soon. I can't believe how long it took me to write a blog post about this but I'm glad that I have now, as I said it's one of my favourite and proudest makes ever and that still stands 2.5 years on.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

White Tie Top

My latest sewing is a top for a friend of mine, requested for her birthday. I've made quite a few things for others now and while it's definitely is more stressful sewing for someone else I do enjoy it. One of the nice things about sewing for my friends is testing myself to try and copy a ready to wear design. Most patterns created aren't aimed with my age group in mind and while there are a lot of lovely trouser patterns that I love, I find that patterns for simple tops with a slight twist are much harder to come by. This means that they have to be self-drafted - definitely easier said than done!

You may remember that I also made a top for a another friend last year. With both of these tops I asked them to choose a ready to wear top or style for me to copy. This time I used this top as my inspiration, the detail requested being the tie at the front. As you can see the tops look pretty different, I like to think of this one as a slightly more wearable version of the ready to wear one! I left the ties untied in the photos but in reality they will probably be tied together when worn. I did initially plan to have the bodice hold together simply using the ties like in the photo, but issues of decency prevented this from working out! To solve the problem I kind of pleated the ties to gather them in the centre and then and sewed them together. I also hand sewed the left and right side together up about 1" just above where the ties meet. The final result actually worked really well. The ties provide enough coverage for the top to be worn comfortably and the desgin feature is still kept if they're tied together.

Drafting the front bodice was not easy! For most of the time I had absolutely no idea if the end result would actually look OK. The ties on this top and this one aren't dissimilar so I had a vague idea of the pattern shape that I needed, just scaled up in size. The hardest part was probably figuring out the depth that the bodice needed to be in order to have a smooth curve to join the front onto the back. Once again my mannequin was priceless when I was designing this top, especially because I couldn't fit it to me as I was sewing for someone else.

I still can't quite believe that the top actually worked - it looked amazing on my friend when she tried it on! During the drafting process I was very much tempted to throw it out of the window but I just about managed to ignore the impulse and carry on. I also now have a pattern piece for the bodice meaning that if I make another one I will never have to go through that same drafting process again!

Friday, 26 April 2019

Denim Flint Culottes

Not much can beat a garment that turns out perfectly. These denim culottes ended up exactly how I envisioned them and I am so happy with how they turned out! It was a project that was a joy the whole way through, from cutting the fabric to the very few fitting adjustments needed. 

A pair of denim culottes seems to me to be the perfect trouser for spring - now that I've made a pair I'm just left with having to wait for spring to actually come! I've wanted to make the Megan Nielsen Flint Pants ever since the pattern came out. Although my mind was brimming with ideas for a variety of variations a denim pair seemed like the perfect first pair. The wide legs meant that I wanted a fabric that was structured enough to hold it's shape but still lightweight enough to hang nicely. It's not often that the perfect fabric comes along but in this case it did: a cotton denim from Craft Cotton Co. For such a basic fabric the perfect denim isn't easy to find but this one honestly was just that. The perfect shade, the perfect weight and it was such a lovley fabric to work with. Using a stable cotton fabric is always a dream after sewing with unstable fabrics especially having a fabric that doesn't move when being cut out.

The main design feature of this pattern is actually really simple but completely ingenious. A tie closure and hidden buttonhole allow the trousers to be put on without the need for a zip and adds a lovely detail too. I like the pleats a lot too, they add a nice interest to waistband. One of the things that I like about using such a plain fabric is that these details show up really well.

I've never made a pair of trousers quite this wide before although I do like the look of them. It meant that I spent quite a long time at the hemming stage testing different legths before I found the right length, I think leaving them too long would have left me swamped in fabric.
The fit on these is great. The only adjustment I made was to lower the waistband by 2cm and on my next pair I'll adjust the crotch length on the pattern first to avoid having to do this. They came up really high waisted at first but this completely solved the problem and although they remain a little loose around the waist they're very comfortable and fit well in general. 

These trousers are pretty much my idea of a perfect pair of culottes. I loved sewing them and I'm sure that I will love wearing them too.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Two Stripy Tops

Sometimes the most simple makes are the most successful. To me, this ribbed jersey screamed out to be made into a t-shirt. Not a particularly complex t-shirt, just a classic everyday top. I wanted to create a top that wasn't too fitted but wasn't boxy and that was cropped just the right amount. In other words, the perfect everyday t-shirt. 

While a lot of people may find sewing t-shirts boring, I actually really enjoy. Not only are they really satisfyingly quick to make, they also tend to be the clothes that get the most wear. I made a few basic t-shirts last year and realised just how much they get worn throughout spring and summer. I've never felt the need to purchase a t-shirt pattern as alterations to existing patterns are just so easy to do. 

I ended up with quite a bit of fabric left over as a simple top like this doesn't require much fabric at all. So - I made another one! I asked my sister whether she'd like a top too and she said yes so I whipped up an identical top. I just love that we have matching tops and while I know that we will almost certainly never wear them at the same time it's nice knowing that we could! 

Feel free to head over to Minerva Crafts to read the full blog post.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Indian Fabric Marigold Trousers

Despite two previous attempts, the patterned trousers that I've made myself have never turned out quite right. It was a garment that I knew I wanted to try again, partly because it's such a comfortable thing to own. When my friend visited India last year she bought me this beautiful fabric from a market - a feat made even kinder due to the fact that she has aboslutely no knowledge of sewing or fabric buying. The farbic is gorgeous, a lovely coppery red colour with a print that isn't too bold. Of course, it had to be made into a pair of baggy trousers. 

The main issue that I have with the Tilly and the Buttons Marigold Trousers is just how high-waisted they are. My last pair turned out to be pretty much unwearable because of this. Since then, I've hacked the pattern for several different projects included my wide-legged trousers which I love. The only adjustment that needed to be made was to lower the crotch seam by 1" which is what I did on this pair too. They are still pretty high-waisted but I think that that's the style and the elasticated waist makes them very comfortable.

I used up pretty much all of the fabric I had making these. I think it was about 1m in width, meaning that I had to be fairly careful with pattern placements. One of the details that I really liked was the border which was a different print. I used this contrast print on the waistband and the cuffs and I think that it adds a lovely detail. I added the cuffs at the last minute and I'm glad that I did, I think that the finnish suits this style well and I like the contrast of the border print at the bottom.

These are such easy trousers to make and the simple design makes it perfect for a printed fabric. I like the details of the pleats and pockets at the front too, making them slightly more sophisticated. I'm really pleased with the end result mainly due to how much I like the fabric. It feels beautiful too! It's soft and drapey but maintains the structure of the garment and is easy to sew. The trousers definitely fit much better than my previous pair as well as the self-drafted pair I made 2 years ago which are sadly too small as I love that fabric too!

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Black Cami Top

This wasn't a top that was ever technically supposed to be worn on its own but I discovered in taking these photos that I actually really like it. I think it's best described as a bonus make! I actually created this top to be worn underneath this one. The sheerness of the fabric meant that a plain black top needed to be worn underneath and I decided to make one rather than buy one. Because it was designed to be an undergarment the design is very simple but that's actually what I like about it.

At the time of making I wasn't, as I mentioned, anticipating wearing this top much and because of that the entire process was very quick and very inexpensive. I had a look through the crepe fabrics at fabric land and settled on this one. I'm not entirely sure of it's content but I believe it's actually a poly-viscose meaning that it was cheap but also feels fairly luxurious. I often draft patterns myself rather than using commercial ones, the only issue being that I then spend slightly longer cutting the fabric than I usually would because the pattern isn't exact and I don't want to waste any fabric. However, what was liberating about this project was that the cheapness of the fabric meant that it didn't actually matter whether or not it was cut completely wrong. On top of that, I knew this wasn't going to be a well worn staple which meant that I sped through the sewing process.
I don't think that speeding up on these two aspects made the top any less good; I still took my time on necessary details, I just wasn't as worried to do them quickly.

The only thing I would say is that the top was way too tight the first time I dried it on. To solve this, I pinned it to my mannequin and then measured dimentions of a trapezium. It worked beautifully and completely solved the fit issue, and I actually really like the addition of a side piece in the side seams as it adds a nice feature to a very simple design. The entire top is lined, which was really easy: I just made sure I cut two of everything. The lining is sewn in place along the top and I then cut it slightly shorter and hemmed it at that shorter length so that it wouldn't show.

Because the design is so simple the v-neck really stands out. I added this design to both the front and the back, the v at the back being deeper which I love. The shape also stands out really nicely when being worn with this top. The final addition was the straps which are really fine and delicate, the perfect finish.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Needlecord Top

I find that each time I make a garment it's something else that inspires it. Sometimes it's a trend I want to copy or the fabric jumps out to be made into something in particular. For this make it was all about the details. I started out with this gorgeous pink cuffing that I knew I wanted to use. I started with only a vague idea of wanting to use the cuffing and adding the detail of an elasticated hem and ended up with a top.

The cuffing is the main feature of this top and my favourite part. When I went to the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace back in October, the stand that I was most excited about was Stoff and Still. I was fortunate to be able to visit one of their many shops in Denmark around almost two years ago (you can see some of the things that I bought there in this post) and it is possibly my absolute favourite shop ever - and I've been to quite a few! The quality and range of their fabric is amazing, it's just a shame that the shops are a plane journey away... 
I believe it was their first time at a sewing show and rather than bringing fabric on the bolt they brought with them pre-cut pieces of a few different fabric collections. While I didn't buy any of their fabric I did buy a few pieces of accessories, one of which was this gorgeous cuffing. I love the idea of adding details to homemade garments to make them seem more proffesional and cuffing is perfect for that.

This top hasn't actually photographed particularly well possibly due the the dark fabric and to me it feels a bit more special in real life. I wanted the cuffing to stand out so knew that pairing it with a black fabric was the way forward. Amazingly, upon rumaging though my fabric leftovers I discovered enough black needlecord left over from this dress to make a top! It did involve some careful pattern placements and there were litterally threads left by the end but I was so pleased to have been able to get another garment out of the fabric, usually pieces I have left over are too small to be made into anything else.

The other detail that I added to this top that I also love is this elasticated hem. It's a detail that I've seem on quite a few ready to wear tops lately and again I think it just adds a nice professional touch. I was really pleased to find the adjustors in my local craft shop they are such a lovely finishing detail. This top was really fun to plan out and see come to life, rather than the fabric or pattern it's the finishing touches that make the top and I like that about it.