Lockdown makes

Inspired by Tilly’s post about her lockdown makes I thought I’d go through everything I made in the last 4 months. Honestly I think sewing kept me sane, I don’t think I would’ve made it through lockdown without developing some serious mental health issues without it. My partner was working from home throughout, he’s always had the ability to do so and therefore had no grace period or time to adjust he just carried on.

Meanwhile I was looking after a 5 month old and a 4 year old mostly on my own. He would help out as often as he could and we did a lot of FaceTime with grandma but wow, it was tough. When I felt my mental health decline I started doing some bits for sewing during the day when Alfie was napping and Emily occupied with the tv. I’d cut patterns or cut fabric or even do some sewing when Gary was taking a break from work. One morning I even got up at 5am to sew the zadie I was that desperate for some alone time.

It’s funny looking back at these makes, they all have so many memories attached. The Kalle is not well sewn as it’s the first thing I did and was just all over the place. I remember Gary taking the kids out in the car so I could sew the solee dress.

My first Kalle shirt!
Continue reading “Lockdown makes”

2020 update

Well let’s not talk about the clusterfuck that 2020 has been and instead talk about my sewing…

I’m still averaging around 3/4 items a month which is fine by me. I’m carefully considering makes and deciding whether they’ll get worn much. I’ve pretty much figured out my colours (navy, black, grey, floral lol) and so most of my wardrobe mixes and matches. It’s also been a lot more successful than last year. The items I’ve made have immediately been worn and reworn consistently. I feel like I’ve reached a place where I know what I want to wear.

Shelby/sagebrush mashup
Willamette shirt

As predicted 2020 was the year of the pants (3 about to become 4 pairs), it was also the year of “rust” which I’m obsessed with. Speaking of rust my Thayer jacket has been a massive hit. I wasn’t sure when making, it was a total whim and not carefully thought out like most of my queue/stash. It goes with 90% of my wardrobe and has been the perfect weight for our typically chilly summer.

Zadie jumpsuit

I’m still obsessed with broderie anglais and my camera roll is full of screenshots of different garments for inspiration. For the first time in the 8 years I’ve been sewing I’m not sticking to one project. I’m sewing whatever I want, rather than trying to rush and finish whatever I’m making. I’m currently about to abandon some work trousers to carry on with some dawn jeans I abandoned when the hot weather came back. Hopefully this won’t result in more UFOs but it’s definitely more freeing.

Me made may 2020

I wasn’t going to do MMM20 at first, I was in a rut of wearing pyjamas all the time and the thought of it was just too much. And then I got FOMO. I love it for myself to try and branch out on the same 20 items I love and wear constantly and I love it for others because I can see what patterns I’m missing out on. Already I’ve bought Friday Pattern Company’s Adrienne and Sagebrush, the ubiquitous Zadie jumpsuit and CCP’s Pietra pants just from seeing everyone’s memade posts.

I’ve been sharing on my Instagram stories so please forgive me for reposting. I’m looking after a 7mo and a 4 yo all day and feeling more than a little drained and over parenting.

I very quickly identified a major gap in my wardrobe (apart from loungewear which I don’t really care to fill with me mades) which is summer clothes. I have a couple of pairs of lander shorts and about 2 short sleeve T-shirts. I made a couple of Union st tees, another pair of shorts and a dress but we’ve had unprecedented weather for this time of year. Normally what I have would be enough as our weather is so unpredictable one day you’re wearing a summer dress and the next you’re back in a winter coat. A lot of my dresses aren’t breastfeeding friendly either so that’s my next step. The yellow dress below was originally supposed to be a fringe top but easy summer dresses are lacking in my wardrobe so I quickly rejigged my queue around and raided my fabric stash which is currently sat in storage.

Named Inari with unseen Lander shorts

As you can see I skipped a few days. The only rtw I wear these days is underwear and pyjamas/loungewear and I don’t really care to make those.

Grainline Thayer jacket

I think it was Minimalist Machinist who first put the idea of workwear style jacket in my head but this Thayer is also inspired by Gary’s traditional Levi jean jacket. Convinced it wasn’t my style I searched Pinterest for how to style and found this Madewell jacket:

The Paola workwear/chore jacket from The Fabric Store was the original inspiration (and it’s free) but I couldn’t download on my phone and it isn’t lined. Some stalking of Instagram later and I found HelloYellowClub’s Thayer and boom an idea formed. I had thought about trying to line the Paola but honestly like most things in life I’m all about the path of least resistance and editing the Thayer seemed a lot easier.

Some stalking of EVERY fabric shop and I found a lovely rust shade from Merchant and Mills (still shipping intermittently) and the sheepskin lining from Fabric Godmother who I also bought the pattern from. I decided not to go with a traditional jean type jacket as I wear a lot of blue (including jeans) and with my Kelly which is navy often feel like I’m wearing too much blue.

To make the Thayer similar in style to the Paola I shortened it 2 inches to come to my high hip instead and went down a size to a 6. The Thayer is oversized and I envisaged wearing it as a spring jacket rather than with loads of layers. I also had to interface all my outer fabric pieces as the linen was too lightweight for a jacket really. I removed the top pockets and reduced the main pockets by half an inch all the way around to accommodate the smaller size of the jacket.

For the sleeves I decided to quilt the lining to some wadding as I get cold really easily. A surprisingly fun part of the jacket (although the pattern of the lining helped!).

The outer shell of the jacket came together so quickly. One evening session and a bit whilst the kids were occupied here and there and it was done. I didn’t go with contrast topstitching because it put me off the Thayer originally – it just looks like overkill especially around the top pockets.

The method has you insert the sleeves flat (so you can topstitch the sleeve seam -whyyy????) and I like this method so much more than in the round although it felt a bit weird.

The jacket is so well drafted, everything lined up perfectly and came together so quickly. It was an absolute joy to sew. I decided not to ruin my well sewn jacket by attempting buttonholes as my machine ALWAYS ruins them (and I plan on mostly wearing this open). I bought some sport and camping snaps instead.

6 years dressmaking

I made my first dress 6 years ago.

I had no idea when I finished that first dress how much it would mean to me. Sewing is relaxing, it helps me escape, it helps me be creative and it helps me feel like me. From the first dress I’ve made bras, coats, jeans (?!) and far surpassed my expectations of how far I’d take it. All my other hobbies I’ve never stuck to but something about dressmaking really struck a chord with me. I absolutely love it!

Jeans comparison

I figured seeing as I’ve made the most popular indie pants patterns I’d write an honest comparison.

Philippa pants

I love my Philippa pants but wow that Cone Mills denim stretched out badly. Luckily they were super tight and now fit lovely but jeez. I like that they’re jeans like but without the pockets which add onto sewing time. These come up to my natural waist.

Persephone pants

A step out of my comfort zone but I love them and the wide legged style. Again the fabric stretched out so make them tight. When I make them again I’ll lower the rise as these again sit on my natural waist which I find uncomfortable.

Ginger jeans

A tough comparison as they’re made from stretch denim as opposed to non stretch (which I prefer) but the rise is the lowest for me, hitting below my belly button so I still get that annoying crack gap when kneeling down. My least favourite for sure. They also shrank in the wash so they’re a bit short.

Dawn jeans

I mean the caption says it all really. The Dawns are my favourite by far. They hit at my belly button which is the most comfortable for me, they’ve stretched out a bit but not excessively and they go with everything. Any pants/jeans I make I’ll adjust to this rise however I’ll use the back crotch curve of the Philippa/Persephones because BAM that’s a good butt.

Megan Nielsen Dawn jeans

Making these jeans was a JOURNEY. Wow. I bought the fabric, pattern and zip from the Village Haberdashery back in January 2019 when we visited some friends in London. A week later I found out I was pregnant and almost immediately stopped wearing high waisted jeans so scrapped the idea of making these any time soon.

Fast forward to the end of my pregnancy, I’ve nested, cleaned the house, made some post partum pyjamas and I’m sat waiting. I decided to get started on my post partum sewing list and I love nothing more than a good meaty project to get stuck into. Jeans are the PERFECT project for this. Except you know I can’t fit or try them on. Not that this stopped me! I decided to do as much as I could which included everything except adding the waistband and hemming. I figured by the time I was able to wear them it wouldn’t be too hard for me to add these on (even with a newborn). I found the fly instructions the easiest to follow (except I accidentally sewed the fly shut – keep the extension out of the way people).

Fast forward to February 2020 and I’ve just finished my Philippa and Persephone pants which I’m obsessed with. I now fit into my old ginger jeans and pulled out the Dawns to finish. Annoyingly I had topstitched the fly closed so I unpicked and redid it; only to realise I’d bloody done it again. Third time lucky and honestly at this point done is better than perfect. I can say that a lot about these jeans. You know when you’re really trying and I mean really trying to get everything neat and perfect and everything goes wrong? Yeah that. I’m not going to ever notice when wearing them but damn is it annoying. Just goes to show no matter how long you’ve been sewing or how many jeans you’ve made, we all make mistakes.

The fit of these is impressive. They’re the best fitting jeans I’ve made straight out of the packet.

After I pulled them out and tried them on and reduced the seam allowance to 3/8″ and then back again to 5/8″. I never know how tight to sew jeans but judging by how much my Philippa and Persephones have stretched out (luckily!) I decided to err on the side of caution and sew them super tight. The denim seems really stretchy considering it’s non-stretch. I left the legs at 3/8″ because I wanted them to be slightly straighter and not as skinny.

The leg on the right (my left) was let out whereas the other leg was the standard seam allowance.

A lot of blog posts I’ve read about the Dawns inevitably compares them to other well known jeans patterns. Personally I prefer Dawn, I find the fit out of the packet much better (in the gingers I removed 3 inches out of the back yoke, in Dawn it was 1/2″) and the legs fit much better too. Perhaps this is just the non-stretch denim though. Which incidentally I also prefer wearing, I find it far more comfortable than stretch denim. I also think after wearing skinny jeans for the last 15 years I might be going off them! 😱

A big fat failure – Burda 6463

As I always do I started writing this blog post before finishing the item in question. I forget a lot of the troubles I have whilst making so often write the post as I’m going along. I wish this was a tale of a happy ending with a warm snuggly coat at the end.

It took me a loooooong time to find this coat pattern. I trawled through the foldline’s database to recreate this outfit/coat:

I wanted something slightly oversized which I could fit a jumper underneath (something I can’t do with my current Rumana coat). I finally settled on burda #6463:

I started cutting it out before Christmas but lost my mojo. With a looming trip to centre parcs I decided to pull it out again. My red Cascade coat is the only warm coat I have but it’s not really my style at the moment. The gorgeous pink mohair fabric is from fabric godmother and is really thick. Unfortunately the coat style and fabric choice do not work together. The burda pattern is far too intricate for such a thick fabric. This fabric would be much better suited for a very very simple pattern like a coatigan.

I constructed the outer of the coat (please excuse the mess) and started to have some doubts. The packets too large, the coat very oversized and it was pink and fluffy. I’m not pink and fluffy. A pink coat is way outside my comfort zone but the fluff. Nope. Nada. No way.

At this point you might be thinking well why the hell did you buy pink mohair fabric?! Well for a start I didn’t think the fabric nap would be so obvious, I thought it would lend a slight texture to the coat. Even when it arrived I was more focused on the colour and that it would be thick enough than how fluffy it was. It really wasn’t until I started making it that I realised what it looked like.

I carried on. Determined to have a new warm coat to wear. I fuddled through the instructions which were terrible. I didn’t realise but burda label all the seams with a number which means you’re supposed to refer back to the pattern pieces when assembling the coat!? Ridiculous. I managed to assemble the facing to the coat, grade seams, turn and press. It looked terrible. Not to mention it’s just not me so I’m giving up. For the first time I’m not finishing a project (even it never got worn I always finish it) but my sewing time is just too precious and limited to make something I’ll never wear.

Philippa pants

After the success of the Persephone pants especially in terms of the fit around the bum 🍑 I decided to try the Philippa pants. Postpartum I don’t have a lot of jeans that fit and I don’t want to keep measuring my body and trying my old jeans on only to be disappointed that they don’t fit. The Persephones are too tight and uncomfortable to wear but the fit is fire 🔥 I don’t want to hate my body, I don’t want to feel like I need to lose weight. I feel good about my body, it’s birthed two amazing humans and right now I need those extra calories and extra weight to feed my baby.

Anyway I decided to make the Philippa pants in denim in my current size with the idea that they’re easy to adjust IF I need to. Whereas jeans are trickier to adjust once finished. The denim is a cone mills remnant from Blackbird fabrics and I actually thought it was black when I ordered it when it’s actually a dark indigo.

The philippa pants aren’t a jeans pattern but Anna does suggest you can use selvedge denim as a fabric choice. They don’t have any front pockets or a yoke. Instead they have darts (which makes the fit perfect) and also sew up ridiculously quickly. Jeans take AGES to make but these can be knocked up in a few evenings (even with a newborn baby!).

I took the waist in by half an inch which was probably a mistake as the waist is uncomfortable when I sit down. The denim is starting to stretch out as I couldn’t sit down at all when I first finished them! I’m absolutely obsessed with these jeans and already contemplating another pair. They fit so much better out of the packet than either of my Ginger or Morgan jeans did. The only adjustment other than the waist was taking in the knee slightly as they’re a bit baggy. I’m contemplating going down a size in the leg next time or a knock knee adjustment but I’m not entirely sure how to go about doing that.

EDIT: after wearing them all day the denim stretched out and they’re super comfy now!

Top hits/misses of 2019

I’ve said this before but I LOVE reading these and I love writing and reflecting on my sewing year. Although I was little sad to see how the makes of 2019 have been a bit meh with a few exceptions. Here’s last years and the roundup.

This year was a funny one for sewing. Getting pregnant in January meant I was making things with pregnancy/maternity in mind rather than planning a cohesive wardrobe. Having looked at my list it’s only been the garments that I made recently that have been massive hits.

These Mandy boat tee/Nikko tips have been worn to death.

This tessuti bias cut leopard skirt has also been a real winner. Despite being totally out of my style/comfort zone I LOVE it and am impatiently waiting for it to be washed.

These Yanta overalls however as I removed the elasticated sides the side seams are now too small and I need to insert a zip to get in/out of them.

Annoyingly a lot that I’ve made this year have had fit issues (due to pregnancy/postpartum) so very little stands out as hits.

The misses that stand out the most are;

This hacked cleo. I hate how it accentuates my hips and the first and only time I wore it half the snaps broke.

This Hinterland dress which is too tight in the arms and really really short.

Everything else I’ve made has been in the middle. Wearable garments but nothing I really love/hate.

2019 sewing roundup

In 2019 I made a total of 29 garments which is a lot less than my usual output. 14 dresses, 5 tops, 1 skirt, 3 items for other people, 3 items of loungewear, 1 pair of pants and 1 pair of overalls.

Tessuti and True Bias (again!) are my pattern winners this year. I made the Mandy 3 times and the Nikko twice as well as the Shelby dress. Chalk and Notch was another favourite with 2 Fringe dresses and an Orchid midi.

As for 2020? I think that will be the year of the pants!

Make 9 2019

As a reminder this was 2019 make nine. I’ve done this the last few years and it’s really good for focusing your makes.

I managed 6/9 of my make 9. Being pregnant/postpartum made finishing it difficult but that’s fine – it’s not about sewing for the sake of it.

From top left to right – Suzon blouse, Fiona sundress, Penny dress, Roscoe/myosotis mashup, ready to sew Jamie (I swapped out the Burda) and another Myosotis dress.

Make 9 2020

This year I think my main focus will be on pants and kids clothes. I really want to use up the scraps I have and Emily’s gotten to the age where she appreciates mummy made clothes.

Top row (L to R):

Dawn jeans – I have two pairs planned and the fabric for. One pair just needs a waistband attaching.

Phillipa pants – I just finished the Persephone pants and Anna Allen knows a how to make your butt look GOOD. I have some nice dark indigo cone mills for these.

Burda 6463 – all the pattern pieces are cut I just need to psych myself up for a big project/cutting out all those pieces (my least favourite part)

Middle row:

Boxy top – I have so many large scraps I want to use and this will be perfect

Ogden cami hack – both the Ogden cami and roscoe are part of my capsule wardrobe to go with my rust persephones

Roscoe blouse

Bottom row:

Kalle shirt – another item from my capsule wardrobe but I might swap this out for the McCalls shirt I already have cut out.

McCalls M8008 shirt NOT those awful dungarees

Fringe top hack

Joe Ready To Sew

Buckle up folks this is gonna be a loooong post.

I love a long project, in some ways I prefer them to the quick-knock-it-out-in-an-hour project. I tend to rush the quick projects and really take my time on the longer ones like coats and jeans. Plus the small steps means it’s easy to stop and take breaks. I also find it really addictive because all those small steps make you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot in a small space of time.

As usual I was inspired by Instagram, I’d seen a few long line blazers/coatigans which I knew would fill a gap in my work wardrobe. I only have one blazer for work which we’re required to wear and it’s blue which doesn’t go with everything in my wardrobe! I also figured it would fill the gap of – it’s not cold enough for a coat but you definitely need a jacket and your Kelly anorak isn’t smart enough.

Sizing

Going through the Joe Ready To Sew tag I saw it comes up quite oversized. As usual I fit into 3 different sizes -34/36/38 but instead of grading up to a 38 at the hips I kept it to a 36 as I wanted it to fit but not feel like I was swimming in it/wearing my dads borrowed jacket.

The collar comes in two sizes – tiny or huge so I went for something in between for a more normal collar size. I can’t wait to see what it looks like post partum!

Annoyingly the sleeves come up too short on me, I know I know I should’ve done a muslin womp womp. The shell sleeves are fine but the lining is shorter therefore pulling up the sleeve and leaving a nice facing. I was drawn to way the model wears the jacket with the sleeve slightly rolled up however I either have really long arms or she has really short arms cause if I did that they’d be 3/4 length! I have this problem with all my coats (except the Cascade duffle) and really need to start adding length to the sleeve.

Tips

One quick tip when making a project like this – label your pattern pieces or keep them attached to the paper piece as it’s easy to lose track. Also I had to refer back to the diagram in the instructions as my poor pregnancy brain mixed up a couple of lining/outer pattern pieces. Also if you hate cutting like me you can cut your outer pieces, sew those together and then cut out the lining and save your back.

I’d also recommend using tailors tacks to mark notches especially for the collar/welt pockets. I’m terrible for using notches and just put pins in the appropriate places but I’d make my life a whole lot easier if I just put a bit of extra time into prepping before sewing.

Oh and I’d recommend a steam clapper if you’re sewing a jacket/coat, they’re not expensive and make a massive difference to your seams. Especially wool as it can be quite bouncy, the clapper helps the seam to lie flat.

When setting the sleeves in you can quarter the fabric and ease it in rather than gathering the sleeve head. I also managed to match the princess seams up front and back – it was pretty hairy at times and I’m really surprised I didn’t get any puckers! Sewing over pins (which I don’t usually do) really helps because it keeps the fabric from shifting around.

Fabric

The outer fabric came from Fabworks and definitely has some wool in it as it stinks when ironed! I was aiming for more of a mid grey but having visited fabworks specifically for some fabric I didn’t want to leave empty handed so it’s a little darker than I would have liked. I’m hoping it makes it more versatile in my wardrobe. The lining was from New Craft House which is no longer available. I know this because when cutting out I’d mistaken a piece for lining instead of outer and thought I didn’t have enough – luckily I managed to eek it out of what was left of the outer and the only piece I couldn’t fit on the lining was the pockets. Make sure you buy the fabric requirements guys! I never do and I had 2m of the wool and 1m of lining. I had actual fumes of fabric left at the end.

Construction

The jacket came together really easily. Considering I’d never sewn welt pockets before I had no issue following the instructions and at no point felt lost or had to consult the internet for help. Welt pockets get a bad rap in the sewing community but I didn’t find them difficult although they’re not as precise as I would like I’m pleased with my first attempts.

The collar has an interesting construction, you sew the outer collar to the facing and inner collar to the outer coat and then sew them together. Not how I was expecting to put it together! It works well and it’s less bulky to sew though so trust in the instructions.

Speaking of the instructions there’s also little buttons in the PDF file you can press that take you to a link which gives you more help (should you need it, which I didn’t because I found the instructions really clear and straight forward). Fancy!

I added sleeve head roll and shoulder pads to my sleeves too. I find it easier to hand stitch them in rather than machine and so I catch stitched them to the outer fabric. I don’t find I always need a shoulder pad but the sleeve head roll makes a massive difference to how the sleeve sits! Indie patterns never tell you to do it but I’ve put them in every coat I’ve made (bar Kelly) and I love the slight lift it gives to the sleeve. However it does take some of the ease out of the sleeve and so I removed the shoulder pads. I can cope with slightly too short sleeves but not feeling like I can’t move my arms!

For the lining I overlocked the seams even though as it’s all enclosed it’s not necessary, as other blazers I’ve had have been washed and worn so much that the lining tore.

Overall

I’m really impressed with the drafting and finish of the Joe jacket, it’s made me look closer at Ready to Sew as a company and want to sew more of their patterns. It took me a week to construct (with a couple of childfree days) and I really really enjoyed making it. I love getting so involved in a project that it’s all you can think of and can’t wait to carry on sewing.

Plus I already know I’ll get a lot of wear out of this jacket as every time I went out I wanted to wear it! Winner winner.