Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Pink and Grey Linden

My mustard Linden sweatshirt is one of my favourite makes. I knew as soon as I finished it that another one would be imminent, and to be honest I'm surprised that it has taken me this long to make another! I love the bright mustard colour but decided to make one which was slightly easier to wear with a wider variety of things this time, and I thought of the Linden almost immediately when I saw this fabric in Higgs and Higgs.

As I said, I wanted to make a Linden which was slightly more versatile than my previous one. However, I didn't want it to be boring, especially as recently I've been trying to sew more basics which have a slight twist in them. If you read about my plan for this fabric when I bought it you'll remember that I chose a pale pink ribbing to contrast the light grey. Well, that's exactly what I did, and I love it! It was such an easy addition with a contrast neckband and an additional band at the sleeve hem but I think it really transforms the top.
The fabric itself is also really lovely and special in that it has a really interesting texture. I love finding knits that are more interesting than typical and Higgs and Higgs has got some great textured knits. This fabric is actually the same as the one that I made my Mum's Stella hoodie out of, only the pattern is slightly different. Although the fabrics are different I'm sure we won't be wearing our tops at the same time! I think the fact that we both picked this fabric goes to show how gorgeous it is.

It's no secret that I love the Linden sweatshirt. I've made so many, both for me (here, here) and for my Mum (here, here). I love how they all look completely different depending on the variation and fabric used. View B, which is the view I used for my mustard linden and for this one, is my favourite though. I think that the style lines show particularly well in a heavier weight fabric and I love the curved hem which is higher at the front than the back. The proportions are just right too: I very rarely use the original pattern length for hems but the suggested length and sleeve length is just perfect for me on this view of the Linden.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Black Needlecord Cleo Dungaree Dress

Despite already owning two Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dungaree dresses I knew that I had to make a third when I saw this gorgeous midnight black needle cord from Minerva Crafts. I love needle cord fabric, and was not disappointed with this one when it arrived: not only is the colour a lovely deep black, but it also feels wonderful and the cord is lovely and fine. As aforementioned I made a Cleo dungaree dress with this fabric, and I could not be more happy with the result! I actually already own a needle cord Cleo, (and a denim one) but I think that this one is different enough for them to both be worn often. 

I’ve sewn using needle cord before and although it is fairly easy to sew with I would stress that the fabric does become squished if it is ironed. Because of this, I ironed my fabric with a tea-towel over it to protect it at the start, and then tried not to press it too much as I sewed. Luckily, I’ve found that the creases drop out of the fabric when it is hung up.  I really enjoyed sewing this for several reasons. The first is that the pattern is just so simple! By now I have the pattern traced out and I know exactly how to sew it which made it an even speedier process. This fabric was also really nice to work with. What I like about sewing something with a pattern that I have used before is the knowledge that I will get a lot of wear out of it, as there is nothing worse than spending lots of time sewing something only to never wear it! It was a really relaxing and satisfying sew. It’s also the perfect pattern for beginners and great to sew out of  a needle cord fabric such as this one. I mentioned some of my favourite patterns to sew out of needle cord in this post, and as you can see the Cleo dress was one of them.

A special detail that I love is this tiny snippet of cactus ribbon that I enclosed in the side seam. It’s really small so doesn’t disrupt the dress of make it hard to wear but its so cute and makes me smile every time I see it.Another thing that I like about this particular dress is the dungaree clips. I’ve only ever found silver ones before but my Mum managed to find the lovely brass ones that I decided to use on this dress. I absolutely love the copper colour with the black!

I really love the versatility of the Cleo dungaree dress. I wear mine all the time, and I’m sure that this one will be getting a lot of wear too! I’m sure it’ll be great throughout all seasons too as it can be worn with/without tights, jumpers, t-shirts etc. Although black could seam like a fairly dull colour, I would argue that it’s perfect for a layering piece. I like that it means that I can wear most tops underneath it, I currently love wearing a white top underneath – the contrast between the colours looks really nice. I don’t own any really bright tops but they would look great paired with this dungaree dress too. Another thing to add to the sewing list perhaps?! I also really like this shade of black: it has a lot more depth in it than some grey/black fabrics do.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Stripy Trousers

Sometimes, fabric is just too good to be left behind. And when I spotted this very cool viscose/georgette/poly-mix fabric at Fabric Land I decided to risk it and buy a metre. I wanted to make a pair of trousers as soon as I saw the fabric but becasue it's quite bright I wasn't sure that I would wear them. However, because the fabric was so cheap I bought some anyway. I wanted to have a go at drafting a pattern and decided that if the worst came to the worst they would be a good experiment, but as it is it was a risk that absoluteley paid off because I love these trousers!

There was no question about it: the trousers had to be cropped, and they had to be wide. I decided on the cropped length for several reasons. The first being that I love cropped trousers at the moment, and the second was because I know that I would never wear a pair of long wide legged trousers. Also, the stripe pattern would have probably been too much had they been full length as it is quite a full on pattern. As for the width, wide legged trousers/ culottes are another design that I currently love (see here) and beacuse the fabric drapes so nicely it was ideal for this design.
I sewed the trousers entirely with french seams, which is probably my favourite way of finishing seams. Despite the fact that the fabric doesn't feel the nicest as it's a blend, the french seams make the trousers feel more luxurious and also stop the seams form fraying. The fabric was quite difficult to photograph but hopefully you can see it fine, it's a black with pale pink and white stripes on it and I really like the pattern.

I love these trousers so much and so much more than I thought I would too. Although the fabric is a bit out of my comfort zone I think they're really wearable (much more so than my marigold trousers) and I especially like them with my black top. For the pattern, I decided to hack the Margot pyjamas from Love at First Stitch. It was really easy to do, I simply widened and shortened the legs. I also used the Margot as a base when I made these trousers, which goes to show how different two variations of the same pattern (albeit with quite a bit of pattern hacking) can look.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Frankie T-Shirt

I very rarely make things that are green. In fact, I don't think that I've ever made something green before, and it's not a colour that I have in my ready to wear wardrobe either. But for some reason I found myself buying some green jersey when I went to Stoff and Stil last summer. Stoff and Stil have the most incredible selection of jersey fabrics I have ever seen (if you're interested in seeing what else I bought from them you can have a read of that here) and this fabric is the same. It's a medium/heavy weight knit, possibly even a ponte di roma, which means that it has a lovely structure but isn't so rigid that it doesn't hang nicely. It's also a wonderful quality fabric.

I've never been put off sewing plain t-shirts as such in the past, but they're not exactly the sort of project that I'm drawn to. However, when I re-discovered this fabric (which had been somewhat neglected at the back of the cupboard during winter) I quickly found myself levitating towards sewing a Frankie t-shirt. This is the first time I've sewn the Frankie but not the first time that I've used Tilly and the Buttons book Stretch! so I knew to expect perfect instructions and a good fit. I did want to make a couple of adjustments to the pattern though. In the end the main thing that I changed was to take quite a lot off of the hem. The actual t-shirt length is quite long and I knew that I wanted to make it cropped. Also, this fabric isn't the light weight drapey jersey that the pattern calls for, so I thought that it would hang better if it was shorter and I didn't fancy being swamped in a mass of dark green fabric. 

As I've been sewing quite a few t-shirts recently I've found that I've been sewing more and more neckbands. Surprisingly, I'm actually really starting to enjoy sewing them! I now know the right techniques so that the neckband is evenly placed along the neckline and I love how satisfying it is to sew a neckband and topstitch around it. Also, sewing it on an overlocker makes it so quick! That being said, I did recently have to unpick a neckband that I sewed on the overlocker because I placed it the wrong way round...
By now I've made quite a few a few differnt t-shirts and I'm really pleased that this one will be a good pattern to add to the list. The Frankie t-shirt isn't dissimilar to the Linden, but I find that the neckline is much smaller which I prefer. Also, the Linden is more of a jumper wheras this is definitely a t-shirt. Hopefully it will be a really useful top to just throw on but with the benefit of it being handmade to make it more special.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Overlocker Unlocked - Getting Started

Welcome to the first part of Overlocker Unlocked! If you're interested in reading an introduction to the series and finding out what it's all about, you can find that all here.

So: you've bought/borrowed/been given an overlocker. Now what? The first thing to do is get it out of the box. This might seem like a pretty obvious step, but so many people seem lost at where to even start with an overlocker and getting it out of the box is a pretty good first step. The sheer number of threads is definitely what scares me the most with my overlocker, and its something that is quite different to regular sewing machines.

Congratulations! You got the machine out of the box. The first thing I did after this was to give it a go. Before you can start sewing you'll need to make sure that the machine is threaded. My overlocker came fully threaded and I think that a lot do, so I'm not going to cover threading the overlocker unitl my next post. However, there are quite a few videos that you can find online which might be beneficial if you do need to thread you overlocker upon receiving it. 
As I said, my overlocker was already threaded so I was able to give it a go immediately. An incredibly exciting few minutes then passed as I tested overlocking for the first time. I would reccomend using a fabric scrap to test it out at first. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was once I started. I think that the main difference is that you can't back-tack with the machine and have to pull the fabric you're sewing away from the overlocker while still pushing the pedal once you've finished that particular seam. The overlocker will, in effect, continue overlocking but not on the fabric, just to connect all of the threads together.

Setting the tension is probably going to be the next thing that you'll need to do. It took me quite a while to get this right but for me I found that quite a high tension (6/7) was necessary when sewing jersey seams together while a medium tension (4/5) works well for finishing seams on woven fabrics. Take your time testing out the differnt tensions with different types of fabric as each machine will require the tension to be set differently.

Finally, a word of caution: that blade is real! It also really confused me at first as I couldn't work out which part of the mechanism was actually doing the cutting. The blade is in front of the the needle (rather than beside it) which is something to remember. You can see in this photo that it's the part just in front of the foot. As I said, it's very sharp!

Monday, 18 June 2018

Hadley Top

During the post-Christmas John Lewis fabric sale my Mum spotted this gorgous nani-iro double gauze fabric with metallic spots on it (it's no longer in stock at John Lewis so I've linked it to Guthrie & Ghani). Full price, it's quite an expesive fabric but in the sale it was massively reduced and so my Mum asked me to make her a top out of it. As I've said before, I love sewing things for my Mum so was perfectly happy to make something for her, especially out of such a stunning fabric.

My Mum chose the Hadley Top pattern to have made for her, not a pattern that I've used before but one that I've coveted for a while. It was such a lovely sew! The instructions are fabulous and Grainline Studio have incredibly well-drafted patterns which hang beautifully. The Hadley is no  exeption. The varitations can be mixed and matched to create a varitey of differnt views. My Mum always decides the details when I sew something for her (all I do is sew it!) and chose to have an inverted pleat at the back, a round neckline and for the top to be sleevless. 

This fabric is a double gauze, and while it has a lovely drape to it I would also like to try sewing the pleat with an even drapier fabric at some point as I'm sure it would hang beautifully. The top has a key hole opening at the back fasted with a hook and eye which means that it can be taken on and off without trouble and without disrupting the pleat. I am defintitely going to be sewing myself a Hadley at some point and would also like to try the view with a seam down the centre back rather than a pleat, although I do like this version too, so there may be several more Hadleys to come!

I think that the reason I loved sewing this top so much is that everything is finished so cleanly. I sewed every seam on my overlocker to finish it (more on that soon!) and I really feel that the inside looks as nice as the outside. The armholes are finished with facings, there are neck facings and hem facings too so everything is beautiful inside. The hem facing also meant that I could finish  the top with a wide hem, a detail that I love.
The style lines of Grainline Studio should be commended, I think my favourite detail of this top is the centre front seam. This seems like a strange favourtie detail to choose, but I love the topstitching so much! I think that this top could look great with contrast topstitching too, yet another thing to add to the list of Hadleys...

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The Superpower of Sewing

I wasn't joking last week when I said that I'd been sewing lots of basic tops! This is another top that I love and has quickly become a staple, depite being such a simple idea and design. I have been wanting a simple grey top for a while and was originally going to buy one. However, the shop in question didn't have my size in stock, and as I found myself wandering through the John Lewis fabric department I realised: why don't I just make it?
Don't get me wrong, I rarely decide to buy an item of clothing that I could make, but for some reason I had decided that it would be best to buy this grey top so that the length, fit and style was right. But I realised that the length, fit and style is never perfect unless you make it so that those categories can be ticked off exactly how you want them to be. This top pretty much sums up one of the many reasons that I love sewing: you can make it exactly right when you make it yourself.

Quite often, I find that it is much cheaper to buy an item of clothing rather than make it. But with this top it was actually the other way around. As I mentioned, I wasn't planning on making this top until I found the perfect fabric in John Lewis. I only needed to buy 0.75m so I ended up with a lovely shade of grey, good quality fabric and a top which I could design to match exactly what I wanted in the first place. Can you tell by now that I'm delighted that I made it?!

Moving onto my favourite part of this top: the Eiffel Tower patch! I bought this patch ages ago, when I visited Frou-Frou. For such a long time I've been unsure on what to use it on, but I'm really glad that I waited as I think that this is the perfect project for it. It's quite a subtle badge but has a nod to giving this top a more personalised touch. It also carries the happy memory of my trip to Paris with it. 
The other main feature of this top is the hem. I decided to experiment a bit on the hem by sewing a lettuce hem. It's not something that I've ever done before and I wasn't entriely sure about how it would look, but I really enjoyed learning a new skill and I actually really like the look of it too! Again, it's quite a subtle feature but adds a nice extra interest to the top.

This top was sewn with the same self-drafted pattern as my black top, yet they look really quite different! I've already worn this one a lot too, and especially love it with my wide-legged trousers.
By no means is this top perfect. Sewing something yourself will never be as precise as something sewn in a facotry. But I was able to make something that I love, that is exactly to my taste and style because I designed it. Something that has a personalised touch, that carries memories, that I know will last a long time because it is made out of a good qualtiy fabric. And for those reasons, sewing is a superpower.