Thursday, 19 February 2015

Navy Blue Polka Dot Top

What's this? Two posts in two days? Why, yes it is!!

I've been on a proper sewing binge this week. I'm not fast at sewing and I don't have a dedicated space, so it's not feasible to fit in any sewing during evenings. This means that I have to wait until weekends or school breaks to sew. Every school break, I plan for a few days uninterrupted sewing. This half term I have completed 3 tops, hence two posts in one day!

The navy blue polka dot top in question is the New Look 6483.  I made version C, which has a high scoop neck. This was the first garment I ever made. I made it in a tan polka dot fabric and whilst the construction is not the best, I wear it loads. It's great to wear to work with a chunky necklace and a cardi, so I've decided to make another stash-busting version.    

The fabric I used was some left over navy blue polka dot cotton from Calico Laine. There was just enough fabric and I used some navy blue cotton for the interfacing.  The pattern details say that it can be made in an hour but it took me much longer! Mostly because I didn't read the instructions correctly and followed the instructions for the wrong version. I ended up constructing it in the wrong order and had to unpick all the side and shoulder seams! D'oh! 

However, I did finish it!! What I like about this top is the ease of construction. It's a simple design, with only two darts and four piece to cut. The fit is good- it's not too fitted which makes it comfortable to wear. It's slightly large around the armcycles. I think if I make another I will cut arms slightly higher to avoid gaping. 

So not a very exciting garment but a great stash buster and wardrobe staple. I've got another make to show you all - I've had a productive week - so watch this space!! 

Chambray lace collar blouse

Ta da!! I did some sewing!

Hello, everyone. I'm back into the swing of things and have finally completed a garment this year. This blouse has taken forever! I started making the blouse in January, but due to work constraints didn't manage to get very far. I spent one Saturday afternoon cutting out and interfacing, another constructing the collar and then finally finished it this week.

So here is my first make of 2015, slightly delayed though it is!

The pattern is the Alma Blouse by Sewaholic. I have made this blouse previously, see this post.  For my first attempt I made the cap sleeve version, but had horrible fitting issues. They turned out majorly puffy and not at all the pretty sleeves I had imagined. I still like my first Alma blouse and wear it none the less, but planned to change the sleeves on my next version. So this time I made the sleeves in the elbow length.

The fabric is a lovely soft Cotton Denim Chambray from Calico Laine. I initially ordered a slightly thicker/darker Chambray to make a Clemence Skirt for the summer, but it wasn't in stock and I was able to exchange my order for this chambray instead.

When it arrived I knew it wouldn't be suitable for a skirt and started envisioning the perfect chambray blouse. I was inspired when I saw this Tutorial by Handmade Jane for adding a lace collar. I have totally stolen the design for her blouse. Jane's tutorial was brilliant- really easy to follow, with clear instructions and photos.

Pinning the lace around the collar. 

I had started with some pretty cream crochet lace but it turns out I didn't have enough to go around the whole collar. So instead I used some lace that I bought when on holiday in Brugues, last October. Anyone else always manage to drag whoever they are on holiday with to the nearest haberdashery?

Overall, I'm pleased with my blouse. The construction was easier the second time around, particularly the collar. I think it's been finished really well - no wonky seams  or topstitching (!) and I used my overlocker foot to finish the internal seams neatly. The invisible zip is also virtually invisible (sorry, no pics) and definitely the best I've ever inserted. This is due one of my christmas pressies - an invisible zip foot, which definitely made the whole process easier.

My only concern comes not from a construction point of view but from a stylistic point of view. The collar is BIG. I was worried it was too much of a statement, but in the end I decided to own it and wore it out for dinner last night. I need not have worried as I received a compliment and an astonished 'wow, really!?' when I told them I had made it myself.

Sewing wise - a successful start to 2015!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Half Term Sewing planning

Before I get into my sewing plans for next week - OMG the great British sewing bee!

Alex, the latest sewer to leave the Great British Sewing Bee.
Another great episode. I loved the idea of making a children's waistcoat and it was great to see so many variations on the pattern. I never think to make children's clothes, although I have a nephew and two nieces who would be willing recipients. I think they all did really well. I was especially impressed with Ryan's waistcoat and Lorna's bird outfit. Can't wait to see what challenges that have next week.

Anyways. It's half term. Few! When you work in a school (Yes, I'm a teacher), every term becomes a countdown until the next break. I don't have time to sew during the week and rarely manage to fit in time to sew at the weekends. Since January I have been working on a blouse but it's still not finished. So I inevitably end up planning and dreaming about what I'm going to make during my dedicated 'sewing days'.

My husband has put me on a ban from buying any more fabric since the box in which I keep my stash no longer closes. So, I'm on a stash busting mission.

Here's what I've got planned:

1. Green poppy print Megan dress with a collar

I got some great teal-green coloured polyester with a black poppy print from Fabricland in Brighton. I'm planning to make another Megan dress, since my first one fits so beautifully and I wear it all the time. For this one, I have envisioned a black peter pan collar. I've made collars before so in theory I know how to construct one. But have never drafted one before, so I'm not sure how to go about it. The dress has a facing at the neckline, so I'm hoping I can use this to maybe trace a collar? I think this is going to need some googling!

Green Poppy Print Fabric from Fabricland.

2. Navy blue polka dot top

I have around a metre left of some navy blue polka dot fabric and also some plain navy cotton which I used as lining. I was planning to make another New Look 6483 top with this, but have been deliberating in my mind if this is the best use for this fabric. I think it would be a useful wardrobe item, with Spring coming up and can see  that I will get a lot of wear from it.

3. Collette Sorbetto

I downloaded the free Sorbetto pattern from the Collette website online. I have a couple of pieces of voile which I'm hoping will be suitable for this pattern, one in turquoise and another white printed piece. Although I am concerned about the fact that anything I make might be see through.

I am so excited to get back behind my sewing machine again. Can't wait! What do you do with left over fabric? Any great stash-busting tips or patterns?

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Sew Far

I've been dressmaking since May of last year. In that time, I have developed my dressmaking skills and techniques. What I love about sewing my own clothes is the freedom to create garments that suit who I am. I love being able to create clothes that reflect my image and that fit me and my lifestyle. I'm not massively body confident, but being able to make clothes that actually fit has really given me a self esteem boost. I love choosing my outfit for the day, now that I have so many handmade clothes.

Rather than go over and re-post every item that I have made in this time, I thought I would go over my top five makes. These are my favourites, the ones I have worn again and again. So here goes!

1. Black and White Polka Dot Clemence Skirt

I made this skirt to wear on my honeymoon in July last year. It's the Clemence Skirt from Love at First Stitch, by Tilly Walnes aka Tilly and the Buttons. It's a self drafted skirt pattern, so you fit it to your waist measurements and the skirt is gathered around the waistband. This means that the fit is perfect and it's so comfortable to wear.

I love the boldness of the fabric and it fits in brilliantly with the rest of my wardrobe. The skirt can be dressed up with a nice blouse or just a vest. It's perfect with tights and boots for the winter or sandals for the summer. 

2. Carmel Polka Dot Top

This was the very first garment I ever made. It's the New Look 6483 pattern. It was a simple make and whilst the fit isn't perfect, I wear it all the time. It's great for work paired with a chunky necklace and is so comfy too. It took me a while to realise how much I like wearing this top, so I am planning to make it in another fabric. I'm hoping this will be a good stash buster! 

3. Denim Hollyburn Skirt

I planned this skirt for ages before I could find the time to make it. In the end I finished it just in time for Christmas. It's the Hollyburn Skirt by Sewaholic. It was the second Hollyburn skirt I made, the first one being a lovely maroon corduroy. This denim one tops the corduroy one. It's a more accurate make and the first time I had ever sewn with denim. I love the topstitching on this and the fact that it goes with everything. I wear it every weekend without fail.  

4. Blue Daisy Print Megan Dress

Another make from Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes. The fabric was raided from my Mum's stash of fabric. I'm pretty sure it's cotton as it's so soft, in a lovely rich blue. This was the first dress I made. I made a muslin first, to check the fit, out of an old bedsheet! I'm so glad I did, because the fit of this dress is spot on. It's perfect for work with a chunky necklace and a bright cardigan.   

5. Red Pansy Alma Blouse

My pansy blouse is from the Alma pattern by Sewaholic. I dreamt and planned this make for ages, having bought the fabric cheaply online when buying bunting fabric from a craft website. I didn't have much time to make this blouse and ran into some problems with the cap sleeves - they were huge. I managed to fudge them and reduce them slightly but I'm still not that happy with them. I only wear this with a cardi over it, but I adore the print and colour so I still wear it lots.

So there they are. My five favourite makes so far. May there be many more! 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Blue Bobble Hat

So... I guess I'm posting my first make! And it's a knitting project. Since I have rediscovered knitting, I have completed a number of smaller projects from one of the two knitting books I have been learning from, Knitty Gritty by Aneeta Patel. However, these will remain largely unposted, as I doubt anyone is interested in baby booties or scarves! Up until now I've been knitting on straight needles, so not only is this my first make ever posted, it was also the first project I have knitted using circular needles. A double whammy!

So, the hat pattern comes from my second knitting book, Learn to Knit, Love to Knit by Anna Wilkinson. I was drawn to thee pattern when I first bought the book, but wasn't sure if I would be able to knit it as it looked so complicated. 

Bobble hat by Anna Wilkinson
After having developed my knitting over the last couple of months, when my husband asked me to knit him a hat I decided I was ready to give it a go. So, ... here it is!

The pattern calls for a bulky yarn, but checking the tension required a super bulky yarn seemed my appropriate. I used Wendy Pampas Mega Chunky in Nightsky for the main and Toffee for the contrast section. It was really soft and easy to work with and since this was made with such bulky yarn it knitted up really quickly. It literally only took me a few evenings, so this was a nice quick project. It was also the first time had knitted using the 2x2 rib stitch, which I found strangely satisfying to watch it grow. So another first for this project too!

I brought a set of Knit Pro Symphonie interchangeable needles, which were brilliant to knit with. For my first attempt at knitting in the round, I managed to figure it out pretty easily and wondered why I was so worried about it. I'm glad I got the interchangeable needles as I am predicting some more circular knitting in the very near future.

The only real issue I had was near the end of the knit, as I was reducing for the top of the hat, it was quite hard to knit with so few stitches on a circular needle. Not impossible, but it didn't feel all that comfortable at points.

Overall, I'm dead chuffed with this hat. I'm even thinking of knitting one for my Dad for his birthday in March. My husband was pleased and has even worn it out of the house on several occasions, so I guess that gives it the real seal of approval.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Great British Sewing Bee 2015

It's back! I spent this week in a state of excitement, in anticipation of the start of the latest series of The Great British Sewing Bee. I haven't watched it before, except for the Comic Relief celebrity episodes which I greatly enjoyed, even though at times it seemed like car-crash sewing!

The format of the program is the same as the Comic Relief specials, with contestants facing three challenges - a 'blind' technical challenge, an item refashion and then a signature challenge. I watched it 'live' on Thursday evening but managed to catch it by accident on repeat this afternoon.

I think the contestants coped really well with this episodes technical challenge - a simple pattern for cotton trousers. Having never made trousers, this would scare me silly but they made it look so easy. I'm tempted to have a go at making some trousers myself, even though I don't really wear trousers!

My favourites so far are Deborah and Lorna, whose styles I love and Neil- his pink polka dot cut out dress was amazing. It will be interesting to see how the contest ends develop their skills over the series.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how the series enfolds- can't wait for Thursday!