After the relative success of my raindrop-print Bettine, I was excited to cut another. I picked up this remnant of striped jersey from Sew Over It a few weeks ago. I thought £7.50 was very reasonable for two metres, and when I was looking for more information online, I discovered that it’s still available for £13/m. I love a bargain. I’ve never worked with a knit fabric before, and getting this fabric so cheaply helped me to push myself.
I made a few further changes to the pattern
- Reduced neckline by 1cm on each side to prevent gaping (tutorial here)
- Reduced length of bodice by one inch
- Curved front skirt waistline to match back
- Removed 4cm (2cm each side) from neckband. In future, remove 5 or 6cm
- Stabilised areas with wonder tape before twin needle stitching to reduce tunnelling
- Finished pocket edgings with the same technique as the neckline. Used 23cm strip of fabric
- Single layer pockets
- Reduced curve in the hip by 1.5cm
Tilly provides some very handy tips for making a jersey Bettine, including the dimensions for the neckband.
Cutting the jersey was more difficult than cutting a woven fabric. I’d already invested in a rotary cutter, mat and pattern weights (partly because I find cutting with scissors super annoying). I must add that I made the job more difficult for myself by using stripes, which I tried my utmost to keep horizontal.
For the sewing, I also purchased some ballpoint needles and made use of my walking foot for the first time on my new machine. I just bought a cheap generic one as part of a set of feet.
The first step was constructing the neckline, which was a real baptism of fire. I wasn’t sure I would be able to manage the stretch fabric without pulling the neck out of shape. I carefully pinned the fabric first, using ballpoint pins.
Heartbreakingly, I had to unpick my first attempt as the neckband was too long. I wasn’t surprised as I had adjusted the bodice neckline to reduce gape, but it was still annoying. I also hadn’t really understood the instruction to baste in place first, meaning I used a stretch stitch, which was a pain to remove.
Here is the finished neckline.
I’m really thrilled with it! Loads of firsts here- first stretch, first neckband, first use of a twin needle. I probably could have reduced the neckband by another centimetre or two, but I think this is good enough.
I even used the same technique to finish the pocket edges. I thought it might be cute to carry the design element from the neck. Lots of people seem to think the pockets as written aren’t a great idea in jersey, so I created single layer pockets. I stitched the pocket bags onto the skirt front using my twin needle, again trying to keep the details consistent in this garment. It felt a little strange to go my own way with no instructions to follow, but it seemed to work.
So far I’m cautiously optimistic about this project. I’ve found myself taking a lot of time to get things right- I pulled those pocket edgings out so many times to try and get them to lie flat! However I haven’t begrudged the time. I’m just hoping it’s going to pay off in the form of a lovely dress.
Pattern: Bettine by Tilly and the Buttons
Fabric: 2m (140cm wide) cotton jersey from Sew Over It
As I’ve mentioned numerous times, my obsessive passion for knitting has taken a nosedive over the past few months. I think that this is partly due to becoming a highly competent knitter. I don’t feel particularly challenged by prospective knitting projects. Another part is dissatisfaction with some of the garments I have created. Since you are creating shaped fabric as you knit, once an item is finished, it’s finished. If there’s something you don’t like about it, often that’s a case of tough luck.
There’s also a limit to the number of knitted garments that a wardrobe can take. Realistically, I don’t wear knitted jumpers that often. They are a bit casual for workwear, and if I’m looking for comfort, I usually reach for a RTW sweatshirt or hoodie rather than one of my creations.
I think this is why sewing has started to interest me so much more. You can create a much wider variety of clothing, and home-sewn items are less radically different to shop-bought than handknit to machine knit.
However, the experiences of knitting and sewing are vastly different. For me, sewing is highly immersive and addictive. I fly through the steps, desperate to discover the result of my fevered work in front of the machine. I scarcely breathe. This is partly my personality- being outcome- rather than process-oriented (something I try to work on). It’s also a side-effect of my being a relative novice. When I first started knitting, I would occasionally stay up all night working on a project. However, I also think it’s partly due to inherent differences in the two activities.
This is a very long-winded way of saying that I miss knitting. As an attentionally impoverished millennial, I am basically incapable of sitting still. I’ve noticed that I’ve started playing stupid games on my phone while I’m watching TV. This used to be knitting time.
I haven’t forced myself to do any knitting during my fallow period. But recently my interest in yarn has started to pick up. After reading a very interesting blog post by Tom of Holland, I picked up a copy of Indigo Knits, a wonderful book about working with denim yarn.
I also bought Inspired by Islay, Kate Davies’ most recent publication.
This jumper is everything to me. I’m holding off on starting because I need to consider whether there is a gap in my wardrobe for her. I would like a cropped sweater to wear over skirts and dresses, but I’m not sure whether this is the right candidate.
I also bought some of Kate’s Buachaille wool. I’ve been wanting to try it ever since it was released. So far I’ve just made a swatch.
So, some stirrings of wanting to knit, and a small project to work on are positive signs. I think that even holding off on starting Port Charlotte represents progress. A mistake I’ve made over and over is starting projects without sufficient thought and research. Knitting a garment is slow, labour-intensive and expensive. I owe it to myself as a craftsperson to put in the legwork to have the best chance of ending up with something I love.
I finally finished sewing the Sew Over It pencil skirt that I started over two years ago. I feel that my tastes have evolved even in the past couple of years, so I’m not sure how much wear this garment will get. I suppose this is why most people don’t leave things on the WiP pile for several years! Maybe it will just have a token appearance during Me Made May.
I was highly apprehensive about making the size 12 as the measurement chart indicated I should cut a 14. However, I have found the sizing and charts off for pretty much every SOI garment I have made, so I went with my gut instinct and I think the 12 is the correct size for me.
It’s good to know how this pattern looks in the flesh, so to speak. I think it’s a good standard pencil skirt. I would only make this pattern again using quite a structured fabric, as I think anything drapey would cause the skirt to hug my lumps and bumps.
I’m already considering my second pencil skirt, for which I’m eyeing the lovely piece of thick, textured fabric I snapped up in the Sew Over It remnant sale. Aside from being irritated with myself for apparently losing the front and back skirt pieces that I so painstakingly taped together, I am aware that I already own a pencil skirt that is perfect.
It’s this beautifully tailored navy skirt that I picked up in a charity shop a few years ago.
It’s a bit difficult to see the skirt as I was actually photographing the shirt, but there’s definitely a reason that I’ve worn this skirt almost to death. It hugs my waist without being tight or constricting in any way. It skims over my hips in exactly the way that I like. It’s fantastically comfortable in pretty much all seasons. When I got it, it had already been loved by the previous owner and now the fabric is getting shiny, there is a flaw in the zip, and the kick pleat flaps around sadly.
I wonder if I have the skill to adapt the ultimate pencil skirt to become my ultimate pencil skirt? Have any readers had any experience of making significant adaptations to patterns as a relatively novice sewist?
Pattern: Ultimate pencil skirt by Sew Over It
Fabric: I think it was called Joseph Rainbow Boucle, from SOI. Pretty sure I used around a metre.
I’ve had quite a tough start to 2017, so I didn’t have much time to think about my goals for the year. Here are some thoughts, that I think will be more of a jumping-off point than a static list of things I want to achieve.
2017 craft goals
- Sew nine beautiful garments in 2017 (#2017makenine)
- Wear handmade as much as possible in May
- Make a terrarium that I’m proud of
- Plant a bee-friendly garden
I feel like my goals are somewhat lacking in ambition. I think part of the issue is the ongoing crushing sense of ambivalence in my life. I’m really struggling to find a good balance between my job and my passions in life.
2017 make nine
Some people seem to have planned all nine of their makes in January, but that doesn’t fit with the way I make. I like to be inspired by fabric or patterns and make up a garment quite quickly, rather than planning too much in advance. This is something I’ve learnt over time. When I first started sewing, I had a bad habit of cutting out patterns, then leaving the pieces lying around for ages, unsewn. Example. To be fair, this was partly because I hadn’t yet bought a sewing machine, so cutting out was one of the few sewing-related activities I could do at home.
Anyway, my point is that I will update this post as I go on, and decide what my makes will actually be.
- Mushroom print Cleo
- Liberty print Ultimate Shirt
- Midnight velvet Tulip Skirt
- Raindrop print Bettine
- Textured navy Pencil Skirt
- Turquoise striped top/dress
- Floral Macaron
- Blue Liberty print Macaron
- Denim Ultimate Shorts
I think it’s promising that I feel like I’m challenging myself on this Make Nine. I have made some tentative steps away from working with basic cottons and I will learn a lot by starting to sew with more challenging fabrics.