Saturday, 12 August 2017

Prepping for School: McCall's 6951


Pattern: McCalls 6951
Views made: B (shirt) and D (shorts)
Fabric used: Chambray for the shirt and twill for the shorts
Size made: 10.5 for both.

Patterns I am always on the hunt for are ones that would pass for school uniform. This McCall's pattern caught my eye as it has 3 pieces that could easily be sewn up in our school grey and white. My daughter pulled her face at the front tie option (which I actually really like - I probably had one when I was younger!) so I promised not to make that view.


This is a size 10.5. The pattern does come in regular whole sizes as well, but the halves fit my girl better. I didn't make any alterations on this one and from assessing it on her, the only thing I will have to do is add length. School shirts have to be tucked in so it would need another 1.5 - 2" to keep it snug in her waistband.


The cap sleeves are finished on the inside with bias binding and sewn down to secure them around the sleeve opening. I sewed one of them down (the left side in the photos) but didn't like how it looked on the right side. It may well be this chambray because it is a looser weave than the shirt fabric will be. As a result I hand stitched the other side and the outcome is much neater. I will go back and take out the stitches on the left side and hand sew those too.


The hemline dips at the back, which looks lovely on her. I want to add as little length as possible really to avoid lots of pooling of fabric at the back when it is tucked in. I will be reluctant to loose that nice curve.


The shorts are view D from the pattern and have sewn up really nicely too. I did insert some elastic in the back waistband for her because it was gaping a little. The elastic serves to keep it snug and she prefers the feel of it.


I used some Mother of Pearl buttons from my never-ending Ebay supply (thank you husband...) and sewed them on by hand seeing as they are varying thicknesses and I thought they might smash under my presser foot.

We both like this pattern a lot as school wear. I have yet to try the trousers and skirt but have the fabric washed and ready to cut. How many weeks is it until September? I'm sure I have plenty of time!


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Deer and Doe Datura Blouse


I nearly left July off my blogging list! Always a busy month for our family, this year has been no exception. Now that the school term has drawn to a close I feel like I can finally relax and share my recent sewing projects.


I sewed up this Datura Blouse at the end of June and used the last piece of my Liberty lawn that I bought in London a few years back when I took Boo to the National History Museum.


In timely fashion, this post from Deer & Doe popped up in my blog feed this morning, detailing the beauty and versatility of the Datura Blouse pattern. 

I have made this pattern once before and love the cut of the neckline. 
I have made a few tops/dresses recently where the neckline has been too wide on me and have had to make adjustments. 
I always seem to have an excess of fabric at the center front
Then I remembered how perfectly this top went together and pulled the pattern out. 


I wanted to try the triangle cut-out neckline this time. I rather like it, although I don't think it is going to be the top I pick out all the time. It feel a bit fancy for everyday. I also went up a size from my first version. Which in hindsight I didn't need to do. It feels a bit loose.


The lawn does feel lovely though. What do you expect, it is Liberty!

No matter which version of this blouse you make, the details are beautiful. The instructions however, are little bit brief. Even having made it before, I still found it useful to refer to the sew along hosted by The Drapery. If you find yourself baffled by those yoke instructions, this is the place to go!


This is a fantastic pattern for a summer vest top with a twist. 
The triangle version takes a little more time to put together than the others but is totally worth it!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Melilot Shirt by Deer & Doe


Pattern: Melilot by Deer and Doe
Fabric used: Lightweight Chambray Shirting from Minerva Crafts 
and some Liberty of London trims.
Size Made: 46

For a very long time now I have been putting this pattern in my basket and taking it out again all with the thought that I didn't need it. Well Me Made May practically killed all my resolve and I eventually bought it! 

The one thing about making an effort to wear all your handmade wardrobe is that all the gaps suddenly jump out at you. I really did need a short sleeved shirt. Something casual yet with nice tailored lines. This fit the bill.


It has a dropped shoulder, so no seams around that area, making it extra comfortable to wear. The cuffs add a polished touch and because of the curve of the underarm, they tuck in nicely to the side seams. I noticed that my Deer and Doe Arum dress has this same short underarm curve and I like it.


The darts hit at just the right place for me, no adjustments necessary. I went for the larger bust size of 41" rather than the 39.5" that I could have traced off, purely because I didn't want it to be too tight. A couple of my bras have foam cups and thinking about that I decided to go for the extra ease.


The pockets are lined! I know, it took me by surprise too! And while they are finished beautifully inside, I wasn't careful enough to avoid a little peek of it showing as you look at it side on. But I did use some Liberty Lawn so all's well that ends well. 


I used my Liberty fabric on the collar stand facing and the under collar too. My daughter chose the buttons seeing as I have a terrible crisis every time I come to choose buttons for a shirt. She chose these smokey grey coloured ones which I love the look of. Good girl!


A few years ago, I really didn't like collared shirts. I used to go for the mandarin collars every time because I think the full collars reminded me of school/work uniform. However, since then I have had a change of heart and now enjoy wearing them. This collar went on smoothly. I seem to be getting better at wearing them and sewing them!

This pattern turned out to be very economical. I ordered a meter of fabric alongside my pattern. It was a 58" wide piece and so I hoped that I could squeeze the whole thing onto my meter. (The pattern specs recommend 1.20m for a 60" wide fabric) I knew my facings were to be cut out of something else. Keeping my fingers crossed paid off...


Phew! Bear in mind that this is the largest size as well. It only just fit! The only other bits I needed to cut were the pocket linings, collar stand facing and under collar. All which came out of my Liberty piece. 

The construction went very smoothly. All the seams are French seams and the bottom hems are completed before you stitch the side seams. The curve is quite sharp at the side edges and a narrow 1/4" hem is required. Bearing this in mind, I overlocked my raw edges first.


This gave me a nice flexible line for turning up the narrow hem. You fold it up twice and stitch it down. I found that overlocking it first meant that it was less fiddly and I didn't burn my fingers with the steam from the iron!


I adore this shirt. I just want to make more of them. The lines of the pattern are beautiful and my husband said it was a great cut on me. So that means it is a winner!





Thursday, 1 June 2017

Me Made May 2017

So, this year I joined the selfie frenzy that is Me Made May. This is a challenge to wear something handmade every day for the duration of May. More details can be found here on the So, Zo blog.

My initial thoughts were that I would struggle to fill an entire month with items from my wardrobe that were crafted my me. I mean, for my children, that would be no biggie. They nearly always wear something mummy-made. I have only made a scattering of clothes for me over the years. But I was determined to join in!

Here is how I got on, in a handy little collage....


Seeing everything I wore over a month in one place is like some fascinating social experiment for me! Some things are immediately obvious. I like wearing blue, for example. Lets be honest, if I ever browse the colourways of a selection of fabrics, I will nearly always go for the blues, greens, greys and whites. It's just my thing.

I made some discoveries along the way, which are going to be really useful in my future sewing plans. There are items I don't have. Items I wish were handmade. 

I drew up a list:
  • Jeans
  • Cardigans
  • Leggings
  • Basic Tanks in solid colours
  • Joggers
  • Everyday pants, capri length or ankle length

If I concentrate on the above list, I would stretch my handmade wardrobe further and enjoy wearing it. I found I got frustrated at the lack of something to wear over my dresses. Or not having something nicer to put on other than my crappy old jeans (which don't fit nicely anyway).

A lot of my clothes are from Grainline Studio, Liesl & Co, Lisette, Colette Patterns. There is a scattering of the big 4 and some Jalie and Ottobre Design in the mix too. I have a lot of patterns in my stash that I have never used and ones that get made repeatedly.

I discovered new Instagram accounts, people who make the most beautiful things. Thank you to everyone who used the #mmmay17 tag and who filled my feed with the most inspirational creations. Thank you to all those who liked or commented on my photos. Apologies for the awkward selfies. One thing I didn't enjoy about the challenge!

To reflect, I am so glad I joined in. I have watched from the sidelines for a couple of years, but actually pushing myself to join in has been very rewarding.

Now today I turn my attention to my non handmades and rebel today by kitting myself out in things made in a factory! Just because...




Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Grainline Archer in White


Pattern: Grainline Studio 'Archer'
Fabric: White spotted French Cotton Pique from Higgs & Higgs
Size made: 14


With summer approaching I felt the need for a casual white shirt. So with fabric intended for a dress (which I bottled out of making because I suddenly realized I would probably never wear a white dress), I grabbed my tried and tested Archer pattern.


This fabric has a subtle sprinkling of pink dots over it and is very very soft. I think it will soften with repeated washing, making it one of those items I will choose over everything else. It smartens up a pair of jeans without making me feel as if I am trying too hard.


This is my third Archer and so I confidently sailed through the construction with no real issues. There is a great sew-a-long on the Grainline blog if you need it. It gives some clarity to attaching the collar if you can't get your head around it.

The one area of my other shirts that always start to wear after a while is the sleeve placket. So where I made the slit for the placket I reinforced it with a small strip of interfacing before stitching and cutting. Hopefully this will make it a bit stronger.


I chose plain white buttons over any of the other possiblites. I played around with some pink and red buttons but really I wanted to keep it nice and simple.

This view has the box pleat at the back, which I really love. 


I do always tend to wear my shirts with the sleeves rolled up. Everything stays cleaner that way! I like how roomy the sleeve is once it is rolled back, not tight and constricting around my elbow. You do miss out on seeing those lovely pleats around the cuff though. (I forgot a photo - sorry!)


Saturday, 29 April 2017

Denim Shirtdress (New Look 6487)


One of the patterns I purchased in the tween range from New Look was this shirtdress. It is pattern 6487


It has 4 different views varying between sleeveless with tie belt, dipped hem, short or long sleeved and straight cut or with a waist seam.

Boo really liked the look of view D. She described the dress she wanted; denim, tabs on the sleeve, shirt collar. It just so happened that I had the perfect fabric to hand thanks to Nicole (thank you so much!). 


I found the instructions nice and clear, which is reassuring because I think she may want more of these in the future. I can't seem to launder it fast enough! 
I didn't make any alterations and it all worked out fine. The chambray is a good weight for gathering without any issues and I like seeing the wrong side of the fabric when the sleeves are turned up.


She does like wearing a dress and leggings much more than wearing jeans so it is a relief to be building a pattern collection which can accommodate that. I have got some new patterns to make for her which I can't wait to crack open. I will have to invest in some new fabric once I have worked everything out, but that is the easy part. Factoring in sewing time however, is another matter entirely! She needs quite a few new things....




Friday, 14 April 2017

Oliver + S Rollerskate Pattern



I didn't mean to leave it so long to put up another blog post. I have been making a few things and my projects feel rather scattered at the moment. So I have tried to tie up a few loose ends, photograph the clothes I have made for the girls and tackle a few outstanding projects in my wip basket.

The pattern here is the Rollerskate dress/top from Oliver and S. I haven't used it an awful lot since buying it, mainly because Boo was at the top end of the sizing scale for the pattern and L wasn't there yet. Now that I can sew up a size 6 I remembered about this one.



I made a straight size 6 in the top and while it fit her well, I felt that the elastic casing was a bit too high on her chest. When she raises her arms, the elastic stays stuck and makes the fabric bunch. So for the dress I lowered it about an inch and it sits much better.


The top is make from a quilting cotton, lined with some plain white poplin. The fact that it is fully lined means that all those itchy seams are hidden away, perfect for this girl who won't wear anything uncomfortable.


I just love the dress version on her. The style of the bodice suits her and it is easy for her to get on and off. I only altered the position of the casing, everything else, length etc, was perfect.


L chose the robot fabric herself out of my stash. It is a pinwale corduroy that was earmarked for some cargo pants but works really well with this pattern. She loves her robot dress!


Leaving off the ribbon feature wasn't done by design but after it was worn hot off my machine I never got around to sewing the ribbon on. 
I think it should be left as it is, not too girly.


Isn't the print cute though? The robots are really fun to look at!


I think there will be a few more of these dresses and tops in her future!


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Elephant Boy for a gift


Pattern: Boy Elephant by Little Cotton Rabbits
Yarn used: Sirdar Cotton DK and 4ply & Rowan 4ply



I do love these knitted animal patterns from Little Cotton Rabbits, they make such great presents and are very fun to make to boot! This will be my fourth one, previously having made a bunny, an elephant and a monkey. (One cat is still in progess in my wip basket).

This little elephant is for my friends little boy who is approaching his first birthday. I picked colours to match his room because that sort of coordination makes me happy! 


The pattern instructions are excellent and make the whole construction process really easy to understand. I have mine printed out and put in a folder, with each page in a separate plastic wallet so it is quick to flick through them. Occasionally I found I wanted to get back to the top to check on a stitch instruction or compare the finished sample photos. Julies details include what the toy looks like in different yarns so it is easy to make the choice that is right for you. 
I wanted this little guy to be made entirely of cotton yarn so he was soft and easy to spot clean.


I have a soft spot for his ears, the moss stitch is really floppy and you can turn his ears inside out. 
I ended up doing his eyes twice, french knots are something I haven't yet mastered in wool and they didn't give him the right look the first time around. At least you get the chance to play around and make it look perfect. It is easy to redo as you go and if you are like me and something just doesn't look right, it has to be fixed there and then. I was much happier with his face once I had started the eyes again.


The jumper turned out really well, I was thrilled with it! It is based on a Cornish Gansey  and the pattern is beautiful. I like it in the cotton yarn because the stitch definition is perfect.


Add on a pair of shorts and my boy was fully dressed and ready to go to his new home.
The jumper and shorts are both included in the pattern.




Saturday, 14 January 2017

Cozy Winter Hood & Mittens

We have seen some snow this week, not much by some standards but enough to warrant the typical melt down of national transport routes overnight and the frantic search for winter woolies from storage. 


This prompted me to make L a pair of mittens from the Oliver + S book 'Little Things to Sew'. I made some for her when she was a baby and they were a quick and simple project.


Using some red fleece fabric from an upcycled Ikea throw I made up a pair of mittens. Then seeing as they didn't take me very long (plus I had the book out anyway) I cut out the Cozy Winter Hood as well. I think the original blanket cost me under £2 so this is nearly a freebie project!


The hood is such an adorable make. It keeps her ears nice and toasty and thanks to the ribbon ties, it doesn't fall off. I made the medium for both hood and mittens. The mittens are a bit big on her, but the hood is perfect.


I used quilting cotton for the lining, it was a recent Christmas fabric from Makower which goes really nicely with the red fleece.

I think I managed to make an error when sewing it together and I need to get it down on here so that I don't make the same mistake again. (I do refer back to my blog notes when I am making a pattern again just in case I had any issues).

The fleece had no obvious right or wrong side so I must have sewn it to the center panel the wrong way up because when it came to sewing the inner and outer shells together, the edges were fractionally too long one side of the ribbon tie and too short the other side. I have made this before, here, and didn't have this issue, but that fabric was obviously one way up. So I had to wiggle and contort the edges a bit as I went along. I don't think it lies as smoothly as a result of my mistake. But it still works.


She is looking very mummy-made today with her Oliver + S School Days Coat on too. I think there may be a home sewn tee on under all those layer too!


How fabulous is the light?! Shooting outdoors in the snow has to be one of my favourite settings to take photographs. 
As you see, just a light scattering of snow but at least she is snuggly warm!

Patterns: Cozy Winter Hood & Mittens both taken from the LTTS book