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I’m so pleased with how my Threadcount 1617 shirt turned out! When I look at it, I can hardly believe I was capable of making it myself. This project is a surprise win. I wouldn’t have chosen this fabric if it hadn’t been on sale, but it’s fun to experiment with a colour and pattern slightly outside my comfort zone.

There are a lot of lovely finishing details in this shirt. Plenty of slip-stitching of facings to hide seams. Overall I am very happy with the finish even though I made quite a few mistakes. I tried not to be too perfectionistic about tiny details, but rather treat the process as a learning experience for my next make.

I have mostly used indie patterns up until now. There is a lot of hand-holding and the techniques have been quite simple. It was nice to take on a more complex pattern. The sparse instructions gave me a sense of being trusted to know how to interpret them. Making the collar was the part I found the most challenging. You have to press the curved seam allowance, which is incredibly fiddly. I then managed to sew the collar on backwards!

I was glad to have done the Ultimate Shirt class at Sew Over It because I was a bit more familiar with the couture techniques that were just casually mentioned in the instructions. I had to think quite hard at times to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. I found the process very engaging and twice looked at the clock to realise I had been sewing for several hours without noticing the passage of time.

I harvested these buttons from a RTW shirt that was worn out. Something so nice about making clothes is personalising to your unique body. The old shirt had such narrow cuffs that it was impossible for me to get them over my hands with the buttons done up. This made me feel like a huge-handed freak. I tested that the cuffs fit over my hands comfortably before placing the buttonholes and buttons.

I LOVE the button tab detail. So worth the extra effort.

I can’t wait to make my summery version of this shirt, though I think that will have to wait until after I have moved house. Something I will definitely need to consider is how to finish the seams. Even though I have become quite a fan of French seams , they weren’t suitable in many places. I didn’t realise until too late due to my bad habit of not reading through all of the instructions before starting out. It will probably make most sense to keep it simple and either use an overlocker or overcasting foot.

I think I will stick with the Size 12 next time. The fit is decent in the shoulders and I like the roominess for a breezy summer shirt. It’s also SO NICE to have a blouse that is the correct length and doesn’t pool around my hips.

Firsts

  • making a two-piece sleeve. The fit is great!
  • making a curved hem that looks ok. I found this tutorial helpful. The secret seems to be just pressing it to death.

Changes not mentioned in last post

  • shortened by 6cm
  • added four press studs to fasten

Pattern: Threadcount 1617 View C size 12

Fabric: 169cm viscose remnant (140cm wide)

I think 1.5m of fabric would be sufficient for this size and view

Costs

Fabric: £10.89 (including delivery)

Pattern: £3.22

Notions: Around £5

Total: About £19

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I’ve been working on sewing my first version of the Threadcount 1617 shirt. I bought the olive fabric on a whim from a Cotton Reel Studio remnant sale at least a year ago, knowing it would probably be used for a wearable toile. Once I got it, I had the idea that it would make a cute garment with a mandarin collar. When I spotted someone’s version of Threadcount 1617 on Insta, I saved it and then promptly forgot the whole thing for several months.

While going through my saved images recently, I remembered the shirt. A cursory google revealed that someone was selling it on eBay and it arrived as a birthday present to myself.

I have a gap in my wardrobe for smart-casual tops. I basically have striped long-sleeved t-shirts, denim shirts and fancy collared blouses. Nothing that would look smart-ish with jeans for work. As my body and tastes change with time, I increasingly like the way I look in tops that fit in the shoulders and bust but are relaxed around the midsection.

I love the fit of this shirt. It would have looked frumpy on me as a chubby twenty-something (which I still am in my head) but it looks chic on my more mature, slimmer frame.

My space print top measures around 41″ in the bust. I decided to cut a size 12 in the hope that any extra ease would prevent the buttons from gaping. Since this is a relaxed fit shirt in a drapey fabric, I don’t think a little extra room will matter too much.

This pattern has a really good layout for cutting (a lot less wasteful than other patterns I have used), which was a little bit of a concern since my fabric was 140cm wide rather than 150cm. However, I had plenty of fabric. The pattern has LOADS of markings to transfer, which I found extremely tiresome. However, it is worth doing.

There were also quite a few pieces to cut out of interfacing. As you can probably tell, I initially intended to trace this pattern but there were way too many fiddly pieces so I gave up.

The construction of the shirt is a little more tricky than any other written patterns I have attempted independently. Making the front opening was a head-scratcher for me! I think it looks okay overall, even though the bottom edge is a bit wonky and I think it is likely that holes will form in the corners.

Notes:

  • Carefully check tension for sewing a single layer of drapey fabric (reinforcing the neckline)
  • Be very careful when reinforcing- mark before doing. This will have a significant effect on the final look
  • Use fray check in corners
  • Because the fabric frays so much, I used French seams on the side and sleeve seams. DO NOT use a French seam on the first sleeve seam above the opening. Also be mindful of this issue on the bottom hem
  • My machine seems to handle viscose better with a regular foot than a walking foot
  • If making view C again, shorten by 4″

Overall I am pleased that I decided to make a wearable toile of this top. It has a lot of details I was doing for the first time. It would have been stressful to make using fabric I cared about more. I already have the supplies to make a second version. I quite enjoyed the trickier construction and am surprised to find myself looking forward to doing it all again.

Pattern: Threadcount 1617 View C size 12

Fabric: 169cm viscose remnant (140cm wide)

Costs

Fabric: £10.89 (including delivery)

Pattern: £3.22

Notions: Around £5

Total: About £19


I couldn’t resist this striped viscose when I saw it in the Fabric Godmother newsletter. I may have to unsubscribe- it tempts me too much. I knew that I wanted to make it into a simple long-sleeved top.

I considered lengthening the sleeves but in the end couldn’t be bothered because I wasn’t sure how long they need to be. I can easily make this change on future long-sleeved Larks.

I bought 2m of the jersey and have 85cm plus some large scraps remaining- more than enough for a second long-sleeved top. Because of the way I laid out the pattern pieces, it’s interesting to note that I would need 1.5m for one Lark but only 2m for two. It’s something I will think about with future fabric purchases since I’m trying to be less wasteful as a maker.

Once I got around to tracing the sleeve piece and cutting out the pattern, it only took a couple of hours to put this top together. I decided at the pattern cutting stage that I wouldn’t worry about stripe matching and I’m glad I didn’t.

If using such a light jersey again, I would shorten the neckband by at least 1cm. The band borders on being too long in more stable fabrics, and it was definitely too long here. I tried to redo it, but after spending about twenty minutes unpicking I had only managed to undo about 2cm and made a hole in the fabric. This fabric is so light and drapey that the scoop neck looks slightly droopy anyway, so I will probably keep this top mostly as an underlayer. I also had issues with the hems, so they don’t look great either.

I think I will make a second Lark in the same fabric, but using an overlocker. I will also try out the crew neckline. I feel quite comfortable with the construction of this pattern now, so would be a good first overlocker project. I would also like to see whether there are any differences in the finish.

Notes:

  • baste neckband to check fit before overlocking
  • use a press cloth with this fabric
  • lengthen sleeves by 2″
  • be careful buying jersey online

Costs

Fabric: £20.50

Pattern: Free (and this is my third use)


I already wrote about the substantive making of my Port Charlotte jumper, but I added a few elements to make it ‘more Christmassy.’ Even though I knit this sweater specifically for Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas, I was very clear that if I was going to invest so much time (and money) in a project, it had to be something I would love in its own right.

The words on the front are simply some chain-stitch embroidery. A top tip that really helped with this (thanks Jane) was to baste on the design with cotton first, to give myself a guideline. The only time I had to do it was on the train from London to Dorset, hence the uneven appearance. I’m definitely going to remove the embroidery once Xmas is over and done with.

I wore my jumper out and about on lovely day out in Bristol with my friend Jane to get some pictures. Here we are being geeks on the open-topped bus tour.

The yoke looks just as beautiful from the back.

I think this jumper fulfils its purpose of looking good with waisted skirts and dresses.

I STILL cannot pose for pictures.

Something that I wish I’d had some more time to work on was the light-up element of this jumper. I’ve been interested in incorporating lights into my knits for a few years now- this was my reason for backing a project on Kickstarter about making light-up cards.

The card kit didn’t really translate into wearable tech, but I backed another TehnoChic project that came with a load of cool LEDs, which were perfect for this. If I’d had more time, I would probably have knitted little pockets behind the sweater to hold the batteries. In the end, I just slapped them on using Velcro! I’ve been too lazy to get the LEDs out again since the filming, so they’re not pictured in this post.

If you want to see more about this sweater and see how I got on in the Christmas jumper knitting competition, you can see my second small screen appearance of the year at 5pm on Thursday 14th December on Channel 4. I imagine it will be available on demand after that (I hope so because I won’t actually be home when it’s on).

Pattern: Port Charlotte by Kate Davies. I made size 4 and my gauge was pretty much spot on.

Yarn: Titus by Baa Ram Ewe. Around 2 skeins White Rose, Gobstopper mini skeins and some Jamieson&Smith jumper weight from my stash

Ravelry project page


I can finally reveal the sweater that took up every minute of time I had available in late September. It’s Port Charlotte by Kate Davies, and I made it for a secret reason that I hope I will be able to talk about soon.

img_2429

I had three weeks and two days to knit a whole jumper. Including getting hold of the wool.

Port Charlotte is a pattern I coveted from the moment I saw Kate Davies post about it on Instagram. I have always been obsessed with rainbows, and I thought the design looked so clean.

I used a tubular cast-on throughout. I just love how it looks even though it’s a massive pain to do. I used Ysolda’s method, since I couldn’t figure out how many stitches I needed to cast on using the Brooklyn Tweed method.

Note for future me: do not use a smaller needle for the Ysolda tubular CO. After knitting the cuff, I realised that the cast-on was way too tight, so I decided to knit on a bit and use the sleeve as a swatch-in-the-round. It’s just as well I did- the gauge on the sleeve was quite different to the gauge square I knitted (back and forth) on the same size needles for my League sweater. The difference is so substantial that I need to knit a different size (4 rather than 3). So this was definitely one of those mistakes that turned out to be important.

Made some errors due to the lack of planning time I had for this project. I forgot to take into account that this pattern has bracelet-length sleeves, which is not a design choice I would normally make. However, the sleeves are made to fit that way so I just decided to follow the pattern.

I also cast on the body (the tubular CO took FOREVER) without thinking, and forgot that I am making this a cropped jumper. This means that I really cast on too many stitches. Rather than re-doing the CO, which would have destroyed my soul and taken too long, I decided to make the waist decreases in the ribbing. I’d never seen this done in a pattern so  worried it would look bad, but I have so little time for this project that I just have to plough on and hope for the best.

I did most of the knitting on a yoga retreat I happened to be going on during this time. I managed to finish the first sleeve in London, then cast on the rest of the pieces before setting off. I knew there wouldn’t be any wifi on Silver Island, so I didn’t want to risk drama with the tubular CO. This is what the sweater looked like when I was in Athens, the evening before I got the bus to the retreat.

For the week of the retreat, if I wasn’t doing yoga or eating, I was knitting.

Fortunately I had nice surroundings while I knit yard after yard of plain white stocking stitch.

The yoga helped stave off the RSI I’d started to feel in my wrist after a few days of intensive knitting. Having a digital detox was also a big help as I seem to use exactly the same muscles and tendons for knitting and swiping.

I did my cast off on the plane back to London.

Used Ysolda’s tubular BO. It was a stressful experience because I didn’t put in a lifeline, so couldn’t afford any mistakes. Fortunately it turned out fine.

I added some extra decoration to the sweater to make it more Christmassy. I’ll reveal all in a Friday post once I know when the episode is going to be aired.

Pattern: Port Charlotte by Kate Davies. I made size 4 and my gauge was pretty much spot on.

Yarn: Titus by Baa Ram Ewe. Around 2 skeins White Rose, Gobstopper mini skeins and some Jamieson&Smith jumper weight from my stash

Ravelry project page


After a stressful few months, I decided that I would finally treat myself to a sewing machine. I’ve been getting more and more into sewing over the past couple of years, so it just makes sense. For anyone considering buying a machine, I really recommend getting advice from John Lewis. I found it much more helpful then trying to get my head around online reviews.

Anyway, here is my first make.

Overall, I’m somewhat happy with it. The fit is quite good, but there are armhole issues- you can see my bra. I had heard that double gauze is more drapey than ordinary cotton, which is true, but it’s probably still a bit too structured for this style of top.

I think the fit is okay. I prefer my clothing a little more fitted than this, but I think the fit is fine for this style of top. It might be the sort of top that is useful for travelling. I also think it would be cute tucked into something.

I shortened the front piece by over two inches after trying on. I have a short body. I also shortened the back over an inch- thought it would be nice to have an asymmetrical hemline. I botched the hem a bit by (I think) stretching the fabric while I was sewing. Curved hems are hard, and I don’t really know what I’m doing. I can’t be bothered to fix it now, but I might one day. I had hoped that ironing would sort it out, but it didn’t.

Going to test drive this a bit more, but I have a feeling it will be my last Silk Cami. I have a bit of a gap in my wardrobe for vests, but I think I will be looking for a different pattern to plug that gap.

Pattern: Silk Cami by Sew Over It

Fabric: 1.25m of double gauze


I bought this cool patterned shirt in a vintage shop in St Albans a while ago. I initially planned to wear it oversized, but that’s not really my style so it’s only been out of the wardrobe a few times.

turquoise-shirt-and-cowl

Not ideal that the only pic I have of this shirt is Anna’s Instagram photo of my semi-ironic hipster posing, but that reveals how seldom I have worn this garment despite falling in love with the pattern.

I decided to try putting my new shirt-making skills into effect by transforming this oversized shirt into a fitted shirt.


Since the shirt is fastened by studs, I was a little limited on what I could do without way more effort than I was prepared to expend. This meant no attempts at pattern matching. The pattern is very odd and the diamonds seem to be in a fairly random pattern, so matching would have been difficult anyway (I tell myself).

I vaguely hoped I could just modify the shirt by running some new lines of stitching down the side seams and sleeves, but that would have resulted in something very amateur looking. This meant I had to cut out new back, fronts and sleeves from the existing fabric.


I was lucky in that the collar and cuffs are pretty close to the size in the Ultimate Shirt, which cut out a hell of a lot of labour. Weird to think that these little details are what makes creating a shirt such a challenge.


So far I am very happy with the result I have achieved. This modification took me around six hours, and helped to solidify my understanding of how to make a shirt. I feel confident that the Ultimate Shirt would work and look cute in a heavier fabric.

Once I finish the hem, I will see how often I wear this shirt. Though I like the fit, I think that the oddness of the diamond pattern is more obvious now that the shirt is smaller. Might not be as much of an issue if I wear this tucked into a high-waisted skirt. Dyeing could also be an option. I’m going to take this shirt to class tomorrow as I would consider making a smaller size in future.

I have a feeling I will still wear it as long-sleeved work shirts that don’t gape at the bust are a massive hole in my wardrobe. Now I need to tackle the SOI Pencil Skirt pattern…

Pattern: Ultimate Shirt by Sew Over It (size 14 grading down to 12 at the waist)

Fabric: Salvaged from an oversized vintage Wrangler shirt