Sunday, 29 October 2017

Style Arc Nina Cardigan; #cosycardigan challenge

I've had this ribbed-knit in my stash for some time, bought by the kilo at Abakhan in Preston.  The cosy cardigan gave me the nudge to get it sewn.  I wanted a pattern which had a bit of shaping to it, so chose the StyleArc Nina cardigan.
Image result for stylearc nina cardigan

It has a fitted waist and then the square peplum makes a waterfall front.  I cut a size
10, because although this is for a size 36.5" and I'm 37.5" I thought the shoulders and waist would be a better fit and there is plenty of room.  I didn't want to have overlocked exposed edges and didn't think the rib-knit would hem effectively, so I have left the front edges and hems raw.  I usually hate raw edges but this seemed like the only solution.  It looks OK, but I don't suppose it will stand up well to washing.  I managed to squeeze it from 1.5m of fabric.

StyleArc patterns are stylish and this is no different, however, as I have mentioned before the very brief instructions make them difficult for beginners.


You can wear the style with or without a belt.

The sleeves were too long and I took them up by 1 1/4" and also narrowed them by 3/8".  I twin needled the sleeve hem.

The back is fairly plain but fits quite nicely at the waist.  Overall, I like it (especially the colour) and might make it again with the right fabric.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Vogue 9075; gingham fun

I do like to be aware of the trends, and sometimes follow them, but this summer there were two things I said I wouldn't take up; gingham (too like my school uniform) and jumpsuits (memories of a particular appalling incident in my twenties involving my new pink jumpsuit and a public toilet floor!).  So what on earth is going on here ...... well I'm afraid it's out and out copying.  I enjoy watching SewHappy's vlog, and Alex looked fantastic in her version, so I was inspired to make my own.  This is definitely my last warm weather garment, and it is already to cold to wear it in Cumbria.

The pattern is Very Easy Vogue 9075; "Dress or jumpsuit has close-fitting, lined bodice with princess seams, side pockets, stitched hem and back zipper. B: wide-legged, pleated pants."  I lined the bodice with a flesh coloured lining, so there was not shadowing through the fabric. 


This is obviously a culotte-style jumpsuit, which I think is much easier to fit, except if you don't get the crotch length right it makes problems when you raise your arms.  I read other people's blogs and they remarked on the crotch length being short and being high-waisted I usually have to add length to the crotch, so I added  1 1/2" and actually another half inch wouldn't go amiss, especially when you wear a belt.

I cut a size 14 and there was quite a lot of ease in the pattern (I'm 37.5 C cup, 28" waist, 37" hip).  I actually had to take 1 1/4 from the width of the shoulders, which did distorted the shape a little.  I also thought  I might need a little extra width in the sleeve at the bottom, which I didn't need and which actually has made a bit of gape at the hem.  I followed the petite line which took the waist up by 1".  I really don't like necklines high at my neck, so I dropped the neckline following the one from the Papercut Adrift dress, which is the perfect neckline for me.

I found the pattern very long.  I'm only 5'4" but I ended up taking 5" from the length, and it still isn't short.

I French seamed everywhere I could, and pinked elsewhere.  This will probably shock you, but I also didn't bother with the pockets.  I just felt that there was enough fabric in the skirt without adding any more bulk.

So in summary, I like this and enjoyed wearing it.  It was an enjoyable make (with some reasonable pattern matching!).  The fabric is a gorgeous gingham from Croft Mill, which Gary (my sewing buddy) bought when we visited and then I stole if from him!  Thanks Gary.  I can't see it on the website.

Are any of you going to SewBrum (Manju I saw your name on the list so will finally get to meet you). I've booked my ticket and started saving.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Sew Over It Eve Dress

Well I've definitely been slow to blog over the last few weeks, I was enjoying my time with Dan too much, and I do have plenty to blog!  First up the Sew Over It Eve dress

This is a pdf pattern (still hate those) but I think worth all the printing and sticking.  I cut a size 12 (sized as bust 37, waist 30 and hips 40), I'm bust 37.5, waist 28 and hips 37.5, so this gave plenty of room, but more about that later.  Please ignore the hanging thread here!  I really must get my act together and work on my photos!  I think the fit is really flattering.

I used a black and white viscose which has a crepey feel to it from Croft Mill.  I do love the fabric, the feel and the drape .... but ...... it seemed to stretch a lot e,g, when sewing seams.  When I did a final fitting I found that  I couldn't wrap the underside through the gap and get a good fit, and so I had to take 2 inches from the left-hand edge.  I don't know whether that was because the dress was just to big or the fabric had stretched.  (Here's that thread again!)

I think the fit is really flattering for all sizes.  I love the dipped hem and flutter sleeves (which are really easy to insert).  This wasn't  too difficult to sew.  You are told to put stay tape at the neckline and this is crucial, I also stay-stitched my neckline as it is some time before you add the tape and you could already have stretching.  I did not like the rather scratchy stay-tape I used something softer would have been nicer, perhaps a thin ribbon.

I love the pattern, it went together fine (except for the issue above).   It isn't too difficult, turning the ties is a little time consuming but with  turning tool it is much easier.

I've also made a couple of dresses for Gemma.  This is a copy of a Lana Del Ray dress she wore to a concert (sorry about the headless version).  And I made another I hoping to get a photo of.

We've also celebrated Dan's 26th birthday with a lovely local walk

Going up!

At the top  .... we have great views in Cumbria.

Lovely walk, but suffice to say my knees had turned to jelly by the time I got down.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Pattern testing the Chai dress

This is the Chai dress from Itch to stitch and I love it.  It certainly helps that it is in my favourite ever liberty tana lawn  bought as seconds for only £9 a metre. 

This is my first time ever as a pattern tester.  I was very pleasantly surprised to be picked and just a little nervous.  The process was to sew the dress in about 5 days, which was fine as I was on holiday.  The were around 30 testers and the  process was incredibly thorough with 3 versions of the pattern produced.  It was great to see everyone's finished garments and how different they looked.  Originally I thought this might not be a dress to suit all figures, but actually it did!  The pattern is a PDF and although I will never really love PDFs you are able to just print the size you want.   What I really liked is that the pattern has different cup sizes and I had the most amazing fit straight away.

I cut a size 6 bust graded to a 4 at the waist.  The only adjustments I made was to raise the waistline by 1/2", as I usually have raise waistlines by 1" this may make it a little high for some of you.  I also added 2" to the length.  But that was it.  This is probably the best fit I've ever had, it is pretty snug, but actually comfortable.  I had intended to make the version with the sleeve, but it has a gathered sleeve and I'm not that keen on gathered sleeves.  I usually avoid sleeveless makes, because I don't really like showing the tops of my arms, but I really preferred  the sleeveless look and I've decided just to go with it. 

Jo at my sewing class just showed me a tip to sew a collar the other way round if you know you aren't going to button up, that is machining the collar to the inside and then doing your slip stitching on the right side, and I love this technique.  It means the part of the collar that shows is really neat.

The other thing I loved is that you can make the insides really neat.  I used French seams throughout.  The only thing I would really do differently is to interface the waist band.

A definite winner, and I would genuinely recommend this pattern.  The blouse version is lovely too and I will be making it again.
I've also been to Cambridge for the Sewing Weekender with sewing friend Gary and we had a great time.

There are many descriptions around about what happened, but basically 60 sewers talked ... sewed .... swapped stuff .... talked some more  and had a very wonderful time.  We stayed at the College for 2 nights and I would definitely go again, if we can get the tickets.  It was surreal meeting lots of the people I watch on vlogs and admire their makes on blogs and I was just a touch starstruck. 

Here I am with Harriet and her mum, both such lovely people (and wearing my GBSB colour blocked dress, which got loads of complements).  It was particularly lovely to meet Rachel and Kate from the Fold Line and Charlotte from An English Girl at Home who organized the weekend and Fiona from Dairy of a Chainstitcher, one of my favourite blogs.  The only thing that went wrong was my sewing!  I was making a Seamwork Sonia and the fit was so awful that is has ended in the bin!

I would recommend you go to the Weekender if you can, but as tickets are so limited that they sold out in 20 minutes and I want to go again next year .... I won't!  And just to prove that I do wear what I me, here I am in my Chai dress outside the College at Cambridge.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Colette Laurel No 2

I think I'm still recovering from Ofsted, hence the lack of posting, though I have been sewing.  After loving my first Colette Laurel I have whipped up another.

I love this one too!  This time in a lighter viscose from Sew Over It (no longer available), which is a fabulous rich teal colour (not really showing in my gloomy light!).

I think this one is a bit of a mix between a 10 and an 8, and I think I pretty much have the fit as I like it.  I made the same changes as my first; narrowed the shoulders by 5/8" each, added a neck facing instead of the bias finish, cut the lowest neckline and just slightly (only about 3mm) lowered the darts.

I'm pretty pleased with pattern matching at the back!  Once again I didn't put a zip in as I can pull the dress on over my head.  Unfortunately I forgot that I could then cut the back on the fold hence lots of time spent pattern matching.

I probably like it better with a belt, but would wear it without.

The main difference I made this this time is with the shoulder placing.  In my last version the shoulder seams are too far back on my shoulder and this pulls the neck up.  This is the first time I've had this issue so I'm really not sure why this is.  So this time I added 1cm to the back shoulder and took 1cm from the front and this seems much better though I think another 1/2cm would be even better.  Again I've made my own version of the sleeve frill by gathering a 7" x 23" oblong of fabric for a fuller look.

Meanwhile in the rest of my life Dan is home for quite a few weeks and I'm loving it!  I've been on some great fabric buying trips with Gary (I must start to document these) and we have booked for the sewing weekender (are any of you going?) in Cambridge.  So there will be lots of sewing news to report. 

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Style Arc Stella Coat No 2

Sewing has taken a bit of a back seat because my College has had Ofsted  in, and for those of you in the UK you will know how traumatic that is.  9 days of stress!   On-top of  the terrible events in Manchester and London, and the results of the election it has been quite a month.

I finished my second style arc Stella Coat a few weeks ago, but have just got behind on my blogging.

After a very sensible camel cashmere version in January, I wanted to make a summery linen version.  Is this too crazy?  It definitely is a bit of sunshine and the linen fabric is quite a good choice.  This is a viscose linen, so all of the look, without all of the crumple.  I don't think it is still available.

I cut a size 12, reducing the shoulders by 5/8" and raising the waist by 1".  I wanted a jacket rather than a coat so I took around18" from the length.  This gave me a little problem with the pocket bags which dropped below the hem length.  I ended up solving this by chain tacking the bags up.


I just interfaced the collar lapels, and perhaps used a slightly too firm an interfacing in contrast to the rest of the jacket.  I probably would give the whole jacket a lighter interfacing if I was to make it again.

All the seams are top-stitched, though it doesn't show up much on this busy fabric.

I really like the little stand up collar and it is quite easy to achieve, so long as you get it level.  I added a couple of shoulder cigarettes (2 rolled up oblongs 9" x 7") to add a bit more structure without the more substantial structure you get from shoulder pads.

I like this pattern a lot, but this instructions are extremely minimal (even worse than Burda) so definitely not good for beginners.   The jacket is fully lined, this time in a champagne lining.

Just a heads up, this is the last time you will see long hair having a bad day for a while.  I have had it all chopped off.  The funny thing is that now I have short hair, I am completely rethinking my wardrobe.  The 50s fitted vibe seems less appropriate and actually the dress I was wearing when I had my hair cut which is Vogue Rachel Comey seems much more apt!  Anyway  the time I save on washing and drying my hair will mean more time for sewing!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Colette Laurel

I love this dress, one of my favourites, I just wish the photos did it justice!  This is my first time making the Colette Laurel.  I've been wanting to make a well fitting shift dress and I think I'm almost there!    This is a perfect transition dress, here worn with tights and boots, but also cool enough for shoes and sandals.

I cut a size  10 at the bust grading to an 8 at the waist  but had to take in about an inch at the back.     I made some of my usual changes, narrowing the neckline and the shoulders (I'm only 15 1/2 inches across) and cutting the lowest possible neckline.  I thought a dress like this really needed a neck facing rather than just a bias, so I drafted and interfaced neck facings, which I think work well.    Because others had commented on the need to lower the darts I lowered them about 1/2".  That has ended up a touch too much and I would lower by around 3/5" next time.

Laurel does have a slightly gathered sleeve, but I thought this wasn't quite enough and I drafted my own which are 7" x 23" oblongs gathered and hemmed with a narrow hem.  What makes me really love the dress is the fabric .... it is fabulous.  I love black florals and this reminds me a bit of D olce and Gabana last season (it was advertised as Italian designer so who knows).  It is Clara Viscose crepe from the Fabric Godmother, unfortunately now sold out and no wonder.  It wasn't cheap at £16.00 per metre, but for me worth every penny.    If it so soft and comfortable whilst retaining some body,  perfect.  If you find any anywhere let me know .... I would have some more.    I think the dress also looks good with a belt.

The back has two darts that give some nice shaping and prevent too much bagginess.   Another major change was to leave out the zip, it just wasn't needed as the dress easily goes on over the head.  It might, then, be better to cut the back in one piece.    The only change I think I still need to make is to move the shoulder seam forward a little.  I haven't done this before but the seams seem to want to slip back a little, which then also raises the neckline.  I will make this dress again, though doubt I will find such perfect material. 

 Isn't it great when you make something you are really happy with ..... and love wearing?  I've worn it twice this week already and it is still comfortable at the end of the day ... and just to prove it, this is in the evening after the third day of wear.