Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Me-Made-May 2014

So today is the last day of April, therefore tomorrow is the first day of May and the start of me-made-may14.  Last year was the first time I took part and I really enjoyed it and as a relative newcomer to sewing it was great to see so many lovely hand made garments being worn and all of the great style ideas.  As it is a worldwide thing, I also enjoyed seeing other countries and snippets of other peoples lives.

Whenever I started sewing I thought I would maybe if I was lucky be able to make a couple of tunic-type dresses, that's all I was after. The first item I made was the Wiksten tova tunic dress (pre blog so no photos - might show up in MMM) and when I look at it now it's not really that well sewn but I wore it a lot and loved it.  Next up I discovered the MerchantandMills dress shirt pattern and promptly made two of them, one in chambray and the other in Japanese flannel and the rest, as they say, is history... I had got the bug.  Now I am in a place where most of my clothes are handmade and that's what I mostly wear.  That was never really my plan, but now I just don't see the point in shopping for clothes very much now.  It's great!

Merchant and Mills shirt dress.

So this year I have been trying to slow down in the sewing and wear what I already have. I was also meant to be buying much less fabric and less patterns but am finding that rather tricky and also have a 10-15 item capsule wardrobe, as per Jennifer L Scott at The Daily Connoisseur. So what am I hoping to get out of MeMadeMay 14?

1.       Wear at least one handmade item every day (sewn or knitted)

2.       I have two abandoned unfinished items (a pair of trousers and a jacket) - I should resurrect them             and get them sorted.

3.       May is a busy month for me in the garden.  We aim to grow a lot of our own vegetables (some               years are more successful than others - we are 'fighting' off a rapidly growing population of       rabbits at the moment), - but some of my clothes might be a bit random on these days.  Will try not to look too shabby - note to self - think Alys Fowler, Sarah Raven, Rachel de Thame, they manage to look stylish in the garden! I will aim to have a photo every day (not sure if my sons will be as willing this year) as I think it gives you a gentle 'kick up the behind' to make an effort.

4.        My main aim is that by the end of the month I will have decided on my summer 10 - 15 item wardrobe. These are core items of skirts, blouses, trousers, dresses and sweaters (with extras of tees, cardigans, jacket and coats, that is allowed.) Weather will, of course, determine a lot of this.  There might be the last wearings of some winter-type things at the beginning of the month so there is a bit of a transition.  Yea it's that easy.


Will leave you with some gardening.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Simplicity 1806 in Peaceful Cooing.

I have returned to a Simplicity pattern that I made ages ago.  I have quite a few Simplicity patterns but somehow get distracted with all the lovely Indie patterns that are around and feel I haven't maybe done justice to the more traditional patterns companies.

The pattern is Simplicity 1806 and as I had already made version C and liked it, I thought I would try version D which has a cowl-type neckline, a tie front and a pleat on the back - so actually quite different.

I had bought my first Japanese double gauze fabric last summer with a view to making something nice and light for my summer holidays to France, but ran out of time.  These double gauzes are lovely to sew and a great weight for hot sunny weather, but very often are perhaps a bit of a challenge in that there are usually two types of pattern going on in the one fabric.  The one I used here is a Nani Iro fabric by Naomi Ito for Kokka Japan and it is the white-blue fabric called Peaceful Cooing.  As one of 'my' main colours for summer this year is cobalt blue I thought I would get using it.  The pattern was ideal as the blouse has panels so I could include the different patterns in each panel.

So I used the white background with small blue dots on the front panel and the white with bigger blue floral type shapes on the side panels and sleeves. I think it turned out fine as regards the fabric placement.  I used a really fine interfacing for the facing (Vilene) and it made such a difference in getting it to sit nicely inside and press nicely, ideal for such fine fabric.  Strangely the pointed hem was one of the tricky bits to get nice and neat, I had to do some folding but can't see how you would do it any other way.  The ties give the blouse a bit of shape too.

The back pleat detail is also a bit different, don't think I have anything in my wardrobe like it.  The only thing I wasn't too keen on my first version of this pattern (pre blog so sorry no photos) was the sleeves which I found a bit wide, so I took these sleeves in and straightened and shortened them to a plain sleeve which I prefer.

The cowl neckline is pretty wide all round especially at the shoulders.  Overall the fit feels quite big even though I made the same size as my original version.  I think I like the finished result, but the proof will be in the wearing as to whether it will be a comfortable style to wear.  I have the feeling I might be constantly fixing the collar but I shall let you know.  I think it would be lovely with a close fitting skirt such as the Mabel skirt by Colettepatterns or a woven pencil skirt. (neither of which were on my spring sewing plan - have to keep focused!).  The fabric is lovely to wear - it is light weight but somehow it has a soft, cosy feeling when you are wearing it.  Now I know why these fabrics are so popular.  I also have another one which I bought last year - blue waltz, so I will have to decide on a pattern for it.

Friday, 18 April 2014

An Easter Emery for sewdollyclackett.

New dress, an excuse for new shoes.

So I have finally finished my fitted dress, which was one of my Stitchy New Year Resolutions.  I had purchased the Christine Haynes Emery dress sewing pattern ages ago with a view to making a winter version but hadn't gotten around to it.  So when I saw the sewdollyclackett contest for Roisin's wedding which was organised by rhinestonesandtelephones I thought I would go for it.  I have been following the dollyclackett blog for a while now.  Her dresses are amazing and what a lovely way for us remote sewers to wish her all the best for her wedding to Nic in May. (especially as she hails from Northern Ireland, like mysef)

Now Roisin's fabric choices are, well.... a little bit 'off the wall' (I'm sure she won't mind be saying) and she carries the look off so very well.  I, on the other hand, although I wanted to get something a bit mad had awful trouble picking my fabric.  I do want to be able to wear it and it has to suit me.  So in the end I went for a floral cotton twill with a tiny bit of stretch in it.

The fabric was great to work with and the colours very appropriate for spring.  With it being a light twill I wasn't sure gathers would be the right thing for the skirt, so I decided to opt for inverted pleats.  Nothing like making life easy for yourself.  There was lots of head scratching and sum jottings but eventually I got it sorted.  It makes the skirt of the dress sit nice and flat.

I took the process of making it nice and slowly (another of my sewing resolutions, don't go for the quick-sew.... always).  The pattern instructions were excellent every step of the way and I even made a muslin to try and get a good fit. Aren't I a good girl? I ended up with the size 16 (must be those broad shoulders!) and I am delighted with how it fits, there are no other adjustments.

This was my first concealed zip on a dress and I couldn't believe it went in beautifully first go.

Stitching the lining up to the side of the zip.

I used a light chambray for the lining (a very pale blue) which seems to have worked ok.  Overall I really like the pattern.  I am much more experienced at dart sewing now and the little tip of decreasing your stitch length as you get towards the point of the dart works really well.  The darts do, of course, give it a great shape especially if you are more 'shapely' in certain areas.  I am now not so 'scared' to make more shapely garments, so that's good progress.  Sewing wise, fabric wise and style wise this dress is way out of my normal comfort zone but I actually really like it and am glad I tried it.  I think next winter I will definitely be making a winter version.  I did omit the bow... think that would have been a step too far, haha.

Understitching the lining.


Saturday, 5 April 2014

Unsure about Top 64.

I deliberated over whether to do a post on this top or not as, well... for me, I don't think it works.  However, having learnt an awful lot from other people's blogs in my first year or so at sewing, I thought it only right to tell about the not so successfuls too.

The thing is I had such high hopes for this as a go-to everyday top with it's pockety glory. I bought it ages ago but was inspired to get moving on it by Amber and Jaime's beautiful versions.  So it is the Top 64 pattern by Merchant and Mills and I have made quite a few of their patterns, all in size 14 which is usually ample.  This, however, has turned out tight in the chest/shoulder region.

I used blue and chirpy green organic crossweave cottons which I really like, have used these organic fabrics a lot now and really like them.  They are easy to sew with, have a bit of interest to them although do crease a bit, but I don't mind that.

The style comes together very easily, the sleeve being a raglan style in two parts and the pockets are very straightforward.  Now it is overall definitely too small for me as you can see, so probably all I need to do is go up a size.  But even aside from that I suppose I should have realised that the style of it would only accentuate my broad shoulders.  That's those genes again!  I think really to carry off this style you probably need to have a narrower frame.

It is also finished by rows of top stitching on all the seams which definitely finishes off the look of it.

I suppose looking at the photos it's not too bad on me, maybe I will give it another go in a bigger size. We will see.  Certainly the pattern itself is great and with the separate pattern pieces for top and bottom you could go to town on different fabric combinations, just not sure it's for me.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Colour block Ensis Tee and some knitting.

Yes, I have just gone and made another knit top.  Yes, I know I wasn't meant to be doing as much of that this year, but they are just so quick and, of course, wearable, especially when you want to keep warm sowing seeds in a polytunnel in County Antrim.  Have I justified it yet?

Papercut Ensis Tee

So yes, it is the Ensis tee by Papercut which I thought by using my merino fabrics it would be more like a sweater and it is an ideal weight for spring.  I was able to use the royal blue leftovers from my Coco top and the bottom half is a lovely smooth feel red merino jersey (a bit like a ponte knit) so light weight but still cosy.

It is, however, more of a tee really but I think I could get away with wearing it over a tee shirt.  The pattern itself is very straightforward and actually very similar to that other well-loved jersey tee pattern, the Renfrew top from Sewaholic which I have made loads of.  This has the different pattern pieces for the colour blocking obviously which I suppose I could have easily done from the Renfrew, but heh. It also has another version with a slightly cropped sleeve and a curved hemline which would be lovely in a linen knit for summer.

As red and bright blue are two of the colours I will be wearing mostly this spring/summer, I reckon it will get a good bit of wear.

On the dress front, I have actually started making a muslin for a fitted type dress, so it might happen!

Start of a muslin for Emery dress.

I am attempting the Emery dress sewing pattern which is definitely a bit out of my comfort zone, but I am drawn to it, so fingers crossed.  It gets a bit confusing when you have broad shoulders, do you make a bigger size, do I adjust for shoulder width or do I need to do a full bust adjustment.  Eek, maybe it will fit first time.  Wouldn't that be great!

On the knitting side of things, I have finally got my sprig sweater started and I have done the yoke.  As this is only my second time knitting a garment on the round that is quite an achievement in itself.  I had meant to have it as a spring sweater, but heh, that's life.

Better get back to some seed sowing now.