Friday, 2 June 2017

Me Made May 17: Last bits

Hello, hello. Just thought I'd check back in to talk about the last bits of Me Made May this year. As I type, our kitchen is being installed. It sounds like the builders are about to come through the wall, but they are loudly and badly singing along to Absolute 80's - you should have heard their rendition of Tiffany's I Think We're Alone Now, even the kids were killing themselves laughing - so I'm assuming it's going OK.

So, where did we get to. Oh yes, on to day 24.

Day 24: Hacked Kelly skirt (Megan Nielsen) in chambray, plus black Lark tee

Day 25: Hacked Grainline Archer shirt dress in viscose

Day 26: Megan Nielsen Eucalypt Tank in viscose with chambray True Bias Emerson pants.

Day 27: Double gauze Emmeline Tee

Day 28: Lark tee with "refashioned" (i.e. too long hem chopped off) jeans.

Day 29: Stockholm blouse

Day 30: Scout tee in Atelier Brunette cotton, with Linden sweatshirt. Double Grainline.

Day 31: Eucalypt tank in viscose, with Named Alexandria pants in polyester.

And that's a wrap.

Thoughts: lots and lots of repeats, which got a bit boring, but on the whole I was happy with the month. I know that I wear what I sew, but it's always nice to get confirmation. I don't aim to sew everything, so I'm always cautious to identify holes in my me-made wardrobe, for the sake of one month a year, when those holes are happily filled with RTW the other 11 months, but it would be nice to have more handmade outfits. So, more bottoms, especially trousers and jeans. I think I also need a few more short sleeved tees, handmade or bought, as I don't seem to have many of those at all. What did I wear last summer?

In terms of MMM inspiration, I am left wondering why I have never made any Inari tees, when I've made the dress twice. I am also a bit obsessed with the Ogden cami, which I previously had zero inclination towards. The power of instagram!

Anyway, with the kitchen nearly done, I have my next few projects lined up. I have just muslined a dress for a wedding at the start of July, and I also am hoping to have time to make a pair of Emerson shorts, and possibly an Ogden or 2 before we go (the wedding and our holiday are in Turkey)... Unlikely, but we will see.

Did you take part in Me Made May this year? How did you find it?


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Me Made May Pt 2

It feels a bit trite posting about clothes, given what happened in Manchester last night, but if life doesn't go on, they win. We have to carry on. I'm not sure what else to say on the matter really, other than my heart goes out to everyone in Manchester, directly impacted or not.

And so onto the trite clothes. *Weak smile*.

Day 10: Atelier Scammit Stockholm blouse again with chambray True Bias Emerson pants.

Day 11: Katy & Laney Geometry top in Cotton + Steel rayon

Day 12: Grainline Lark tee, hacked to have a stepped hem. Also Small Boy wore his Oliver & S shorts in Made by Rae baby cord, plus his Book Day shark hoodie (refashioned from a RTW hoodie).

Day 13: Named Sloane sweatshirt in Atelier Brunette sweatshirting fabric.

Day 14: Megan Nielsen Eucalypt tank in C+S rayon

Day 15: Tessutti Brigitte tee

Day 16: Little Tailoress Emmeline tee in double gauze, plus Grainline Moss mini

Day 17: Grainline Lark tee

Day 18: Grainline Scout tee in Atelier Brunette cotton

Day 19: Stockholm blouse again

Day 20: another Grainline Lark tee, plus in the evening I wore my I Am Patterns Aphrodite dress to a wedding reception

Day 21: Emerson pants again.

Day 22: Schnittchen Tanja dress in ponte

Day 23: Another Emmeline tee, this time in Liberty Tana crepe

Thoughts: I wrote on Instagram on Saturday that I feel this has been a rather dull Me Made May for me. I feel like I'm wearing the same things over and over, and there isn't much in the way of excitement, or fashion directionality. But I recognise in myself a need to get comfy and cosy and to be invisible (sartorially) from time to time. Usually when I am stressed, anxious, mega busy or all 3. And I've been all 3 with regularity this month due to everything else that's been going on. There are loads of handmade garments I haven't worn this month, because I haven't felt like it. And that's OK. What I will say though is that I have enjoyed what I have worn, and it's nice to know that I am making the things I want to wear, regardless of situation or mood. That's a win.


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Me Made May


Gosh. I've forgotten how to go about writing the opening for a blog post!! Well, we have a fair amount of stuff going on at the moment. We are extending and replacing our kitchen, and are 8 weeks into a 10 week build. We have kitchen stuff piled up all over the house and every surface is covered in dust. Last week we had no hot water, no central heating and no washing machine for 5 days. It's exhausting and I am getting really fed up now, but the builders will finish in the next couple of weeks. I have no idea when the new kitchen will be installed, but at present it might not be until the end of June. Sad face. Oh! And Baby Boy has chicken pox, and he turned 3. And he left the interior light on in my car, meaning I had to get a new car battery...

So, anyway: Me Made May! Yes I am doing it. I never wrote my pledge at the start of the month, but I am joining in. Given all of the above, I am keeping it simple: I am wearing a me made item every day, and proving it with a selfie. That's it, nothing more. You'll have noticed I'm also not doing my usual weekly round ups on here. Again time and inclination, however I thought I'd try to do a couple of roundups through the month, so here is the first.

Day 1
Colette Laurel Blouse in Liberty Tana Lawn, plus Grainline Moss Mini skirt in cotton from Ikea.

Day 2
Atelier Scammit Stockholm Blouse in cotton gingham

Day 3
Named Inari Dress in denim

Day 4
Grainline Linden sweat in self-quilted sweatshirting, over a stepped hem long sleeve stripy Grainline Lark tee, which you can't see.

Day 5
Grainline Linden sweat, stencilled with an ampersand, over a plain black short sleeve Grainline Lark tee.

Day 6
Little Tailoress Emmeline Tee in double gauze, plus another me made; Baby Boy, who celebrated his third birthday today.

Day 7
Grainline Scout tee in viscose with hacked pleat front.

Day 8
Grainline Scout tee in cotton voile, with hacked ruffle bum

Day 9
Named Inari dress in Cotton + Steel rayon

It seems I have some favourite patterns, and favourite pattern designers! These are all worn with regularity normally. So far, so good this month!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Completed: Gingham Stockholm Blouse

Contrary to my post at the start of the year, I did actually have a bit of a think about some goals for 2017. One of these was to “just bloody use it”. I have so many lengths of fabric in my stash that I don’t end up using because they somehow become precious, and I get too scared to waste or ruin them. Or maybe they aren’t precious particularly, but I still don’t use because I need to muslin first and I don’t have similar weight muslining fabric, so I end up not using the fabric at all. I’ve spent too long thinking and talking and writing about various methods to reduce my stash, so a change of mindset might be a better approach. Fabric is just fabric at the end of the day. I might not be able to buy that exact substrate/print combination again, but I can pretty much guarantee I’ll find something that’s just as good!

Anyway, this top is one of those instances where I got over myself and “just bloody used it”. I was given this fabric by Danielle of One Small Stitch nearly 4 years ago!!! 2013 was a fairly shitty year for us – my husband was sacked, then reinstated under different (rubbish) Ts&Cs, I had my second miscarriage after trying to get pregnant for 10 months, and my job was outsourced and I was under threat of redundancy. Danielle sent me the fabric to cheer me up, which was the most lovely thing ever! I think I had been looking for a 1 inch black and white gingham in 100% cotton, although I can’t for the life of me remember what I wanted it for. She found some and sent it to me. Of course, it them immediately became precious! I mean, she’d paid good money not only to buy the fabric, but to ship it halfway across the world too! I couldn’t ruin it!!!! The pressure!!!
Note matching gingham husband.

But this is the year that I got over the fear. There is a fair bit of gingham in the shops right now, which reminded me that I owned this fabric. I then saw bell sleeves on something which reminded me that I owned this pattern, and I thought the two would be pretty perfect together. As it turned out, I didn't own the pattern, but I do now. This is the Stockholm blouse by Atelier Scammit. It’s a raglan sleeved, boxy blouse with bust darts and 2 versions – I made the first with ¾ sleeves with a flounce or bell sleeve. The second version is long sleeves with a gathered peplum. I discovered it via Jolie Bobbins and it was free for a while last year. I am 99.9% sure that I downloaded it at the time, but I now cannot find it anywhere, so I paid the 8 euros for the PDF.

The instructions are only in French. I used a combination of 2nd year at Uni level French plus Google Translate and the Liesl & Co sewing translator app (which I didn’t find to be that great, actually), to decipher the instructions, and then ignored them. I found the construction order odd, and overly complicated. They have you sew the front and back together at the sides, make the sleeves and then set the sleeves in. In a raglan? Why? That sounds like a nightmare to do. In case you are interested in making this, but can’t be bothered to translate the instructions, here’s what I did. If you've made the Linden, you can make this:
  • [Edited to add] Firstly, if you are making the PDF version, you will need to stick them together. DON'T cut off the borders. You are meant to stick the pages edge to edge, as they are, and then draw in the bit of the pattern that is missing. 
  • Stay stitch the neckline on all 4 pieces (front back and the top of each sleeve).
  • Pleat the sleeve flounce with inverted box pleats and then attached this to the bottom of the sleeve.
  • Sew the sleeves to the front and back bodice pieces at the raglan. There are no markings to denote the front or the back of the sleeve, but I figured out that the side with the more pronounced L shape at the bottom of the raglan was the front. This is on the right if the pattern piece is face up (see photo below).
  • Sew the sleeve seam and the side seam as one, from cuff to hem.
  • Face the neck with bias. I used the Grainline Scout tee instructions to do this, using 1 inch wide bias tape, but I think I might have messed up the SA that was meant to be used at the neck. As a result the neckline only *just* gets over my head. After reviewing the pattern, it suggests a 1cm SA at the neck, whereas I probably only took about half that.
  • Hem the sleeves and bottom. The pattern suggests turning 6mm twice, but I actually turned ¼ inch, then ¾ inches. I felt that the sleeves were a bit long as drafted and I also felt that the top needed a chunkier hem in my opinion.
  • From what I could figure out, the pattern suggests using French seams (ironically not called that – they weren’t called anything, they were just described). I did French seam the cuff onto the sleeve but the rest I just sewed at a 12mm SA and overlocked the raw edges.

The pattern comes with high and low bust darts, so you can choose which works for you, which is great, but it didn’t say how to determine which to choose. I did it by holding the pattern piece against me and ignoring my ego, went for the lower of the 2, which is actually bang on perfect for me. In fact, the fit all over is pretty spot on. I think the sleeves could be a little shorter – they are somewhere between ¾ sleeve and full length – but that’s personal preference rather than fit. My measurements put me in between a 36 and a 38 for my bust, just over the 38 for my waist and bang on the 38 for my hips, so I made the 38, and I'm pretty happy with the fit. It's maybe a bit looser fitting than I had imagined, but it's very comfortable, and I honestly think I'd struggle to get a smaller size on as there are no fastenings.

The fabric is lovely and perfect with the pattern. It has quite an open weave, so frays a lot, but it’s lovely to wear. As you can see my pattern matching attempts went a bit awry. Its fine at the side seams but I seriously went off at the raglan seam. Not sure what happened there, but I’m over it. Due to the pleats I couldn’t match the pattern on the cuffs to the sleeves, but I did try to think about pattern placement and to continue the line of boxes that went down the middle of the sleeve.II'm actually pretty proud of myself for even thinking of that. I used plain white bias binding, made from an old shirt of Paul’s for the neckline, as I thought the gingham might show through. I also handstitched the bias binding down to give a clean finish.

I feel like I've been quite critical of this pattern, but actually it's well drafted and very easy to make. My preference for how to construct it was different to what they described but that's not to say their method wouldn't have worked. I would absolutely recommend this pattern as I think there is a lot of scope with it. They suggest an optional button and loop opening at the back neck, and also provide brief instructions on how to hack the neckline to different shapes and also how to hack the pattern into a dress, which would be lovely. So yeah, I definitely see a future for Stockholm and I. I just need to check what other suitable fabrics I can "just bloody use"! :)

Monday, 20 February 2017

Completed: Sloane Sweatshirt

Hello, hello, back again! Here we have the Named Sloan Sweatshirt in Atelier Brunette sweatshirt fabric, which I bought from Faberwood (now sold out but is available in a number of other places too). It's been very popular and with good reason. The fabric is beautifully soft and cosy, with a fuzzy loop back, but it's quite lightweight and drapey for a sweatshirt fabric. And it's so pretty! In short, it's beautiful and very cosy to wear. Buy some.

I have been fancying another sweatshirt pattern for a while. I had a vision of a black "sports luxe" inspired sweatshirt to wear to work with skirts, and I wanted it to have normal set in sleeves, rather than the raglan of the Linden. I love the Linden, but it is altogether more relaxed. I had looked at a number of different patterns, including the Sloane, but always discounted it due to the darts. I didn't really "get" darts in a sweatshirt. But something made me go back and look and I ended up buying the pattern in their Valentine's Day sale. I'm glad I did. It's exactly what I was looking for.

I'm still not sure I understand the need for darts, but they are fairly inconspicuous and inoffensive and I guess if nothing else, they add a point of difference. As with my previous experience of Named, the pattern is well drafted and the instructions concise but thorough. It went together easily with the exception of the cuff and waistbands. The bands are quite a bit smaller than the sleeves/bodice to give that slouchy bloused look, but I found them difficult to set in. Bands are never my favourite thing to do anyway, but these were tricky. I ended up actually gathering the sleeves into the wrist bands, and still ended up with a couple of puckers, which I am doing my best to ignore.

The fabric had a tendency to curl at the cut edges, which also made the bands difficult to attach. I always think you need at least one more pair of hands when setting in bands, since you need to hold the fabric in several places. To counter that, I did a few things. Firstly, I basted the cut/open edges of the band together so they wouldn't shift. Secondly, I basted the bands in before finally sewing with a lightening stitch. I haven't actually removed any of the basting stitches, but I will do, if come to feel feel it's necessary.
Not a great photo, but you can see the darts nicely here.

I cut the size 38, based on my measurements. I did consider sizing down, and the finished garment measurements indicate that I could probably have got away with it. I did baste the bodice together to try for size before committing to the zigzag stitch. I am late to the baste-fitting game, but for some stuff, it works well.

Construction-wise, I read through the instructions once, then ignored them. It's pretty straightfoward. They suggested using clear elastic in the shoulder seams, but I didn' have any so used black grosgrain ribbon instead. It's a little bulky but it will do the job.

Shock horror! I accidentally sewed some of this with a straight stitch, at 2.5 length no less! I didn't realise that I had forgotten to switch to lightening bolt - well, I had switched, but then I switched back and forgot I'd done that. Luckily, it's only the shoulder, side and sleeve seams, which don't need to be able to stretch much. I noticed before I got to the bands.

Some of this has raw edges because I am lazy, but then perfectionism won over laziness when it came to the neckband and so I dug out the overlocker, changed the threads to (mostly) matching ones and overlocked all the seams of the bands. It does look much better when I don't have it on, which, of course is always an important consideration!

I'm not sure there is much more to say on this. I love it, it's comfy and wearable and snuggly and cool. This is not the sweatshirt for work though - our office is way too hot for this fabric - but it's perfect worn casually, with jeans, or like here with my Moss skirt (with star print Lark underneath for good measure!).

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Completed: Stepped Hem Lark Tee

I'm back again with another RTW inspired garment. I'll soon be known as the plagiarism Queen!

I stumbled on this jumper on the Whistles website recently and was intrigued by the description of Stepped Hem Knit. The pictures aren't that clear, but with a bit of zooming in, I was able to make out the stepped hem detail at the side.

I happened to have a similar stripe knit in the stash that I had already planned to make into another Lark Tee, so I decided to have a go at copying the hem. It's hard to see in the photo but if you can zoom in a bit, you'll see that there is actually a triangular shaped insert where the side seam should be, which is another detail I wanted to replicate.

Here is my version!

It wasn't too hard to hack the Lark to do this. Here's roughly what I did:

  • Straightened out the side seams, to remove the waist shaping.
  • Removed seam allowance from the side seams.
  • Butted the front and back pattern pieces up against each other at the side seam.
  • Drew a triangle, which I then traced.
  • Decided what length I wanted to make the front and back and also the stepped bit (i.e. the triangle).
  • Added seam allowance back on.
  • Cut the front and back pattern pieces to the new shape (minus the triangle shape)
To sew it together, I had to change the order of construction slightly:
  • I hemmed the triangular inserts first
  • I then stitched them to the front
  • Sewed shoulders
  • Sewed triangular inserts to back
  • Set the sleeves in as per a woven (this is because my underarm sleeve seam no longer matches either of my side seams, so I couldn't insert them flat
  • Hemmed neckline, front and back and sleeves
It came together pretty much as planned. I noticed a couple of "drafting" errors as I sewed it up, such as I forgot to take the SA off the armscye, so I don't have a nice point to my triangular insert underneath the arm. Hack and learn. 

Here is a photo which makes me look like a tube with no limbs, but shows the insert quite well. 
I raised the neckline by 1/2" after finding it too low last time. I like this and might even raise it by a further 1/4" next time, as I really like how it sat before I sewed the neckline. I accidentally sewed the whole thing using a 1/2" SA, instead of the given 3/8", but it hasn't had any negative impact. The sleeves are a little tighter than I was expecting, but I've managed to get away with it. The fabric stretches out a little with wear, so it's perfectly comfortable.

There is still something going on with the armscye on this pattern. I think it's too long/low for me. It looked fine on my star print version, but with this and my first (unblogged) version, it doesn't look right. I might play around with reducing this slightly in my next Lark, as it's stopping this from being my perfect tee pattern. 

It was all sewn on my sewing machine with a lightening bolt stitch, although I did baste all 4 side seams first to help with the stripe matching. It's not perfect, but it's liveable with. My sleeve stripes are slightly misaligned (i.e. the sleeves are not perfectly symmetrical), but I'm coping. I didn't finish the raw edges and hems and neckline are done with a triple stitch. I like the look of the twin needle, but I find that the threads quite often break. The triple stitch seems to be sturdier, albeit less pretty.

The fabric is from The Village Haberdashery and is the Interlock Stripe by C. Pauli in India Ink and Cloud Blue. It's currently out of stock, but they have lots of other colours in both stripes and solids. It's 100% organic cotton, so doesn't have any recovery but it's lovely and soft, nice to both wear and sew. I have used it previously for this t-shirt

I am almightily pleased with this. It worked as I had envisioned. The stepped hem isn't too dramatic, and it might be nice to do a more exaggerated version at some point, but it's a nice detail. I also really like the idea of a sweatshirt version and in a brighter colour (either in tee or sweatshirt format), the step hem would be more obvious.

True story - I sewed the bulk of this at Amy's house the other night, and I couldn't believe it when she said she didn't own a stripey t-shirt!!! Still, it maybe makes up for the fact that she can't believe I don't want a pet! :)

To prove that I really do like this, here is a photo where I am actually smiling, albeit very goofily!


Friday, 27 January 2017

Grainline Week

This week I suddenly discovered my sewjo and went all out and completed 2 items within 5 days! It's all about extremes.
Let's start with the skirt. Long time readers/followers might recognise this. I have basically made a replica of a Moss Mini that I made a couple of years ago, minus the fit issues. It had occurred to me that a casual mini skirt wouldn't go amiss in my wardrobe, and idly doubted that it would be possible that Ikea would still sell the same fabric. Then, on Sunday, we were forced into an impromptu Ikea visit, and I came home with 1.5m of exactly the same fabric; a very dark grey, heavy weight, ribbed-style cotton. 

I had some fitting and technical issues with my first version, which you can read about here (how long was my hair?!) This time it went much more smoothly. I sized down to a 2, based on the finished garment measurements as last time the waist was too large. This is 2 sizes down from last time, but I was about 5 months postpartum at the time. Actually reading that old post made me kind of sad - nostalgic for that year of Mat leave when I had lots of time to sew, and didn't have to go to work! Still, at least these days I get to sleep.

I made the skirt pretty much as per the instructions, with the following changes:

  • Cut the size 2, but cut the biggest size length. I figured I could always take it up, but actually, I've left it as is.
  • The waistband facing is lining, rather than self fabric to reduce bulk.
  • Added back patch pockets.
  • I cut both the pocket facing and the pocket lining from lining fabric, again to reduce bulk.
  • I didn't interface anything. The fabric doesn't need it.
  • The smaller size meant it was a little snug over the hips, so I used the given 1/2" SA from waist to the bottom of the pocket opening, then reduced to 1/4" SA from there down. It just gives a teeny bit more wiggle room. 
  • Top stitched all the seams.
As per last time, the lining fabric is Liberty Tana Lawn, this time the Wiltshire pattern, left over from a Laurel blouse I made 100 years ago (and still have, so I can totally do the secret matchy thing at some point). 

I'm really happy with the fit this time. I basted the whole thing together, in case of any issues, but other than the aforementioned hip snugness, it was pretty bang on. I also found the fly zip so much easier this time. It was still tricky with some head scratching moments, but it made sense. Last time I was just blindly following instructions, but this time I got what it was I was meant to be doing. I hadn't done another since the last Moss, so is that improved sewing skills, or just improved concentration through actually having had some sleep? The button is recycled from the original skirt.

I had a day off work on Monday and the previous week was a hellish one, work-wise, so I treated myself to a full day of sewing, which meant I got most of this finished then. It took a couple more evenings to finish it off (basting means quite a bit of unpicking!). I felt victorious when it was finished! It was exactly what I wanted and the fit was just right. Do you get that feeling of "I can conquer the world, I can sew all the things", ever? That was me. 

So I was straight onto the t-shirt. This started life as a Hemlock that I started a couple of weeks ago. I have been planning on making the Hemlock for ages, and love the pattern on everyone I've seen it on, but it was just a disaster on me. It was huge. It's a one size pattern, and it's obviously meant to be oversized (which I love), but on me, it was just so wrong. I was resigned to chucking it in the bin, but the peoples of IG persuaded me that the fabric was worth saving, so the night after I finished Moss, I cut the Hemlock apart and cut a Lark from the pieces. (See? Grainline Week). I had ideally wanted a long or 3/4 sleeve tee, but the Hemlock sleeve pieces are pretty narrow, so I ended up cutting the cap sleeve from a small scrap of remaining fabric.

This isn't actually my first Lark. I made it once about a year ago in a black drapey fabric. I don't have a photo, but you can picture a black t-shirt. I didn't love the pattern, athough I did like it and it had been my intention to tinker with the fit a bit to make me love it a bit more. And then I didn't. So, I just cut this version exactly as per the pattern, and it actually fits a bit better. The black one fits well over the bust and I like the looseness over the stomach and hips, but the sleeves and arm scye feel too long/low in the black version. But I'm happy with them in this version. I did use a slightly bigger SA (3/8" rather than 1/4"), but I guess the fabric also makes a difference. 
I would also like to alter the neckline. It's fine, but I wouldn't describe it as boat neck. It's certainly not my preferred boatneck - too low and wide - so next time I think I'll add maybe 1/2" to it, keeping the shape. I do love the fact that there is no neckband on the boatneck though. 

Finally, I removed a whopping 3.5" off the length! Seriously, why is this pattern so long?! I removed the length from the pattern piece, but I just removed it from the bottom. It worked on the black version, so I just did the same again. Actually I ended up removing a further 3/4" from the length because I clearly did not cut the bottom straight. 

The fabric for the tee was from Sweet Mercerie, and I've had it for over a year. Cora tells me it's a cotton mix and its navy with stars and moons on it. Very pretty but terrible to sew. It was very difficult to maintain an accurate SA as the fabric kept wanting to list to the left. No idea why, but my topstitching on the neckline and hems are pretty awful as a result. I also noticed a hole in the fabric once I was finished, but it's near the hem, so it's not noticeable.  

I finished the Lark in one night, but there's not much to sewing a t-shirt and it's only 3 pattern pieces. I think the longest part was pressing and sewing the neckline and hems.

In the end, despite the faults, I do like the tee and it's infinitely more wearable in it's current state. It's just a pity that it'll be covered up by jumpers and sweatshirts for the next few months!

Ref the photos - I just realised that I can use my phone as a remote for my camera. What a difference. although it takes some getting used to! I should also probably acknowledge my little "helper" during this photo session! ;)
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