A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: sewing

I fell in love at the London Knitting and Stitching Show around a year ago. The second I saw Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani’s Kelly anorak, I was gone. I immediately bought the pattern, zip and some of the beautiful waxed cotton they had in stock.

I had this Liberty tana lawn in mind for the lining from early on in the process. I think it’s a cute print but since buying I’ve felt that it’s a bit twee for a dress (even for me). However, I think the cotton lawn below goes better with the main fabric so I will use that instead.

I felt a bit weird asking to have photos taken in someone else’s coat, but also necessary.

Lauren made the 6 and I initially thought that I would do the same even though my measurements are closer to the 12. I am going to compromise and go with the 10.

I can see that the fit of the 6 across the shoulders is good, which means that what I probably ought to do is a full bust adjustment (FBA). I was reading someone else’s blog post in which she mentioned not liking making FBAs. I thought that was silly until I realised that I am exactly the same. When I first bought my sewing machine, I was quite keen on the old FBA and made one on my Bettine dress pattern. Since then… nothing. I think part of it is the fact that none of my RTW clothes have FBAs and yet they fit fine. Although, realistically, whenever I buy a shirt I have a choice to get a size that fits in the shoulders but risks gaping at the bust, or is slightly large in the shoulders with less risk.

For me personally I think it relates to my perception of my body. I was quite a bit larger when I was in my late teens and early twenties. My bust was absolutely enormous- I wore G cup bras. Since losing weight a few years ago, my bust has reduced a lot in both back and cup size. This has been such a relief and a big part of the reason I feel so much happier and more comfortable in my body. So, to me, I don’t have an especially full bust anymore. At the same time, most clothing and pattern companies draft to a B or C cup, so an E cup certainly is still an outlier.

When I wiggled around in the jacket a bit more, it was clear that I would need a bit more room. You can see in the side photo especially that the fit isn’t quite right. I’m so glad I risked social awkwardness to get the pics! I will also need to lengthen the sleeves and shorten the body. I really like the length of my purple SuperDry raincoat, which is shorter than the Kelly.

I’m hoping that I can try to enjoy the process of making this jacket. I’ve commented before that this has been something I have always found difficult- I am very outcome-oriented. However, this jacket will require a lot of patience from me. I will need to do extra things that are not in the pattern booklet. I will probably need to learn from mistakes.

Lauren’s blog post contains a lot of helpful information. I had a few dilemmas about this project, like whether to line or underline, how much to shorten the body. I paid £10 for a 26″ zip but really I want this jacket to be around 24″ long. I’m reluctant to spoil the lovely zip by shortening it.

Eventually I decided against buying the lining expansion pack. The main reason I would have bought it would be to tidy up the guts of the jacket.

I was also a little heartbroken to see that Guthrie&Ghani are now stocking the waxed cotton in yellow. Owning a yellow rain jacket is a small dream of mine. It’s definitely in the back of my mind that I may make a second version… Perhaps with a simple cotton lining for warmer days.

After doing some prep in early January, including buying the technical fabric to quilt my lining, I hit a roadblock. I didn’t have any thread in the correct colour. My work finally took me near the Goldhawk Road and I was disappointed to see that the shop where I normally buy my notions was closed.

I remembered that some stalls in the market sell bits and pieces and I managed to find some thread that matched my lining fabric. I didn’t feel comfortable using this random non-branded thread for sewing the shell of the coat, so I will probably wait until I am in the Oxford Street area to visit John Lewis or Liberty. But at least I can now make a start on the lining.

It has just hit me- have I become a thread snob???

I popped to Liberty but forgot that they have gutted their haberdashery section. I will have to make a trip somewhere else before I can start sewing the main fabric.

I found some time to quilt my lining recently. I followed the directions in Lauren’s blog post (linked above). I will say that it was quite tricky to get the lining to sit flat on the insulation. I found it helpful to roll the fabric up as you can see in the timelapse below. It’s also important to press your fabric before putting it on the insulation.

As Lauren says, the quilting is a time-consuming process. It took me several hours. But I enjoyed it- it’s quite meditative.

I am now ready to cut out!

Costs

  • 2.3m waxed cotton from G&G £65.55
  • Liberty tana lawn £22.50 (I have a feeling I actually paid less since I bought 1.5m of this fabric, but I have no idea what I did with the receipt)
  • Pattern £16
  • Zip £10
  • Extra insulating material and snaps £30.60
  • Thread £3

Total £147.65

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I bought this fabric just over a year ago, planning to make a third Day Dress (previous version 1, 2). I saw someone else using it at my disastrous silk cami workshop (Sew Over It were stocking it at the time) and fell in love. Although I like the Day Dress, my pink Macaron is probably the most flattering dress I have for day wear. I decided to have a go at making a version without the contrast bodice, which no one else seems to have previously attempted. I certainly could not find any blog posts about doing this even after extensive searching.

This post contains detailed notes about how I created a solid Macaron by combining the yoke and bodice pattern pieces. I will also describe how I lined this dress- I don’t think I did the best job, it’s more a case of notes for future learning.

I overlapped the bodice and yoke pattern pieces by 3cm and traced. On the front I also increased one of the darts by 5mm since some length seems to be taken out at the seam between the pieces. I probably should have done this on the waist dart but I took it out of the side dart- I don’t imagine this will make much difference. I just did the back straight and did not alter the shaping- I’m fairly confident this will work for my figure.

I also decided to make my life difficult by lining the dress. The neckline facing on my first Macaron is a travesty (partly my error, partly the pattern). At present I have only planned lining the bodice. I’ll see how I feel when I get to the skirt.

I easily got this dress out of 2m of fabric by book folding it. I nearly always do this and it saves loads of material. Pattern companies tend to massively overestimate the fabric requirements, as well as not having cutting diagrams that are as efficient as possible. It’s really wasteful and annoying. Bear mind that I also cut out two bodices.

I cut a size 10 with adjustments as described previously. I interfaced the waistband for extra stability. Since I had plenty of fabric, I decided to self-line the bodice so I don’t have to worry if the lining ever peeks out at the neck seam. I pinned and machine basted the darts as pleats in the lining pieces, trying to have the excess fabric fall in the opposite direction to the darts in the shell.

I made up the bodice as directed, following the same instructions for the lining. I joined the two pieces RS together at the neck. Note: do not finish the neckline edges before stitching.

I machined the bottom hem of the lining to the seam allowance between the bodice and waistband pieces at the front and back separately.

This is how the bodice looked just before I attached the sleeves. I’m very happy that I decided to line the bodice since the fabric is so delicate. It makes the dress feel much more classy and professional.

I attached the sleeves as in the pattern, to both layers of bodice and lining. I then finished the seam as one piece. I haven’t yet removed my hand-basting because I think it looks really cute.

I decided it would be silly to line the bodice but not the skirt. I cut out additional skirt pieces using the leftover lining from my coat. I shortened the pieces by about 3 inches and incorporated the selvedges at the bottom to save hemming (lazy sewing for the win!) I made up the skirt lining as directed, ironing the pleats in the opposite direction to those in the shell.

I had planned to attach the skirt and lining within the waistband seam allowance before I sewed the skirt to the bodice. However I wasn’t sure about having additional weight of the lining pulling down on the waistband piece. The fabric really is very delicate. Thank goodness I decided to interface it!

In the end I couldn’t think of another solution. Weirdly I had an issue with having a lot of extra length in my bodice compared to the skirt, but only at the front. I was able to ease it, but it took three attempts. When I tried the dress on, it looked weird. I tested the pockets and… they were on the back of the dress. I had seamed the wrong side of the skirt 🤦🏽‍♀️

My inability to tell left from right bites me again. I spent ages undoing the incorrect stitching and sewing the skirt together on the correct side. I then re-did the waist seam and it went together much more smoothly.

I tried on the dress and I’m really happy with the fit. I love the way this dress makes my figure look.

The last step was to insert the zip. That part was relatively pain-free. I hand-tacked the dress to the zip before stitching to ensure the waistband seams would line up- this definitely helped. I probably should have used a 1cm seam allowance rather than 1.5cm because the dress is a teeny bit tight at the waist. My makes normally give slightly with wear, so I don’t think it’s worth the bother of reinstalling. Now just the hem and a bit of finishing and this dress will be ready!

Cost breakdown

Fabric: 2m of viscose costing £18 (I paid £2.95 p&p for this and the fabric for my cloud tee). I also used less than a metre of viscose lining (a scrap so I will not cost this)

Pattern: £18 (second use)

Notions: All bought ages ago so no idea. Let’s provisionally say £5

Total: About £33


I’ve been meaning to sew myself a pair of trousers for winter and thought that corduroy would be perfect. I normally can’t resist bold patterns so the texture of the corduroy was a nice balance; a more mature solid garment that still has some interest to it. I love to wear navy as a neutral colour so I’m excited to add these to my wardrobe for the upcoming seasons.

This is my third pair of cigarette pants! I think they make a great addition to my blue pants and zebra shorts. I wrote a post for Minerva Crafts about these trousers so check out the full post over on their site for more details.

Just to note for next time, watch the grain line placement when positioning the pattern pieces to cut out as this affects fabric usage quite a lot. I possibly could have used less fabric if I had been more mindful of this.

These trousers are breathing new life into my autumnal wardrobe. I’m loving wearing them with a tucked-in shirt. It makes me feel all androgynous and cool.

Costs:

Fabric 2m of 21 wale cotton corduroy provided for free by Minerva crafts. For the facings I used the leftover Liberty tana lawn from my first pair of Carrie trousers. All other notions came from stash.

Pattern Paid £120 for workshop and pattern was included. This is my third use.


One of my favourite purchases from Wilderness was this vintage jacket. I had been very tempted by a mass-produced capelet covered in holographic sequins. Relatively cheap at £25 or so, they were extremely popular at the festival. I held off, aware that such an item would only be useful for fancy dress and very much against my pledge to buy more mindfully this year. When browsing other stalls, I spotted this beaded jacket in one of the vintage tents.

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Although it’s not my usual style at all, it really caught my eye. I tried it on and it fit perfectly. It had a lovely drape and weight to it. Another tempting factor was this.

The jacket has no labels in it and I have absolutely no clue about how much vintage beaded items normally cost. Still, the fact that it was reduced piqued the interest of my inner miser. The label also indicated that the jacket had been sent by Goldsmith Vintage (which funnily enough is quite near my work). The little shops around the Portobello area normally have good-quality items.

Anyway, I couldn’t resist and bought the jacket. Out in the Oxfordshire countryside the evenings were much cooler than they have been during the heatwave in London. I wore the jacket every night and it was surprisingly warm.

On my return to London, I had a bit more time to inspect the jacket properly. Being a maker helps one to appreciate fantastic workmanship (or, more likely, workwomanship). The jacket really is exquisitely made and finished. I’m sure the beading must have been done by hand, which would have been an incredible amount of labour. There were quite a few broken threads and I have a feeling that I lost some beads over the course of the weekend.

I looked up a few articles on repairing vintage beading. I couldn’t find much, though this blog post was quite helpful. Since I don’t have any beading stuff, I decided that I would just do what I could to prevent any more beads from getting lost. I inspected the jacket for broken threads. When I found them, I treated them like ends that need to be woven in on a piece of knitting. I knotted the threads underneath sequins and then hid the ends between the jacket and lining.

Of course, I don’t really know if this was exactly the right thing to do but I hope my instinct will help to keep this jacket wearable for a bit longer.

It was a learning process to figure out how to remove the threads without losing more beads, so I had a few sparkly casualties. I’m going to hang onto these beads and sequins since I might try and fill in some of the bare areas at a later time. Reading the article I linked really did get me interested in vintage beading and it might be something I start looking out for when I’m in secondhand shops.

I just love the subtle beading on the back. It reminds me of the night sky.

I spend a good few hours working on the jacket and it’s interesting to have a ‘project’ where the end is almost indistinguishable from the beginning. If it can give this beautiful item a good second life with me, I will consider the time very well-spent indeed.


The latest step in my quest to reduce my reliance on single-use plastics has been to make some cloth bags to carry with me. I mainly intend to take them when I shop at the Source, but I also think they will be very useful just to keep in my various bags for incidental purchases. I always try to keep a clean empty container with me, but I still get caught out quite often.

I used this tutorial as a jumping-off point. I accidentally got given an extra length of the cotton I bought to make a summer blouse, meaning that I had a little over half a metre left over. Since I have learnt to my cost that white is a terrible colour for facings, I decided to put it to use here.

I cut the fabric to various sizes. My only criteria were to have the print the correct way up, have bags that seemed of a sensible size (given that I don’t use them yet, so I don’t really have a sense of which sizes will be most useful) and waste as little fabric as possible.

I experimented a little with the construction because I wanted to use French seams on the inside of the bags. I found a way but I imagine there’s a better method so I won’t bother posting pics of how I did it. This is how the inside ended up.

Love me a French seam.

You can see that the top right corner looks a bit weird due to the way I botched constructed the drawstring opening. They lie flat when right-sides out so I’m not bothered by that.

A fun aspect of this project was that I felt very free to make mistakes. On the second bag I sewed the seams on the top incorrectly, so that the channel for the drawstring was on the right side rather than the wrong side. I considered unpicking the overcast stitches before realising that it really didn’t matter which side the channel is on.

I used shoelaces as the closures. I took part in a colour run nearly four years ago and took a load of the laces they were giving out. I’m quite relieved to have finally found a use for them!

I have a rough colour-coded system to differentiate the sizes.

Blue = big

Pink = petite

Y = yeah, I couldn’t think of one for that colour

I am now aware of just how white this fabric is. I am planning to make a second set of produce bags so that one can go in the white wash and the other in the coloured wash. Being in your thirties is so boring and domestic at times.


I finished my latest summer top in short order after my last post, which meant that I met my target to wear it in Florence.

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Fortunately the tight armholes are not too much of a problem.

However, I definitely need a full bust adjustment and possibly a back adjustment too. I see people talking about swayback adjustment quite a bit so maybe that?

For a top made in the wrong type of fabric, I’m fairly satisfied with it. I find the mandarin collar a little constricting around my throat, but I can’t really see myself wearing this buttoned all the way up so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

This picture was taken on the way to my first commentary spot at the 2018 quidditch world cup. Calling and analysing the matches was a lot of fun, and it was nice to realise how much my understanding of the game has increased in the past two years.

Details

Pattern: Threadcount 1617 view B size 10

Fabric: 1.5m cotton lawn from Sew Over It

Fabric: £19.50

Notions: Around £8

Pattern: £3.22 (second use)

Total cost: Around £27.50


Since we’re over halfway though the year, I thought I would review where I am with my sewing for the year. I have completed five items so far.

It’s interesting for me to note that, just like last year, my plans have changed hugely in the six short months since I made them. Here’s what I thought I might make:

  • Cloud Lark
  • Stripy Lark
  • Ultimate shirt in Liberty fabric
  • Third day dress in viscose
  • Wearable toile- copy of the perfect pencil skirt I have
  • Threadcount 1617– I think I will start out with a toile using a viscose remnant I have.
  • I also have my eye on some beautiful viscose with a monstera (my favourite leaf) print for a second version. I won a £20 voucher from Sew Over It’s #SOIshowoff competition, which would buy 1.5m
  • Teal anorak
  • Dotty Linden

Now I’m thinking that I’m more likely to end up with this:

I’ve written a little about this before, but I would still like to get better at making pre-planned projects. Lots of the items on the first list are things that I would like to make and would be useful but somehow they don’t grab me. The shirt in particular has been on there for 18 months and remains no closer to being cut out. In contrast, my wink blouse went from twinkle in the eye to wearable item in five days. At the same time as wanting to plan, I don’t want to (and perhaps can’t) put reins on my creativity. I’m realising that sudden inspiration and feverish spurts of making are part of my process.

I’ve been thinking in therapy about how I find it difficult to know what I want in life. Often I see myself as a plastic bag blowing around in the breeze, Making is one of the few spaces I have where I know precisely what I want and then make time to work tirelessly until I have it.