Saturday, 25 May 2019

Alexandria Peg Track Shorts

Fabric: Medium-weight Chambray
Size: 12

Shorts season is officially upon us again and this girl needs a whole new wardrobe. 
I had forgotten about this pattern. Forgotten that I owned it. The perils of buying PDF's and not browsing your files for a long time!

My original plans were heading me towards the City Gym Shorts and I may make those up still, but I am very glad I tried this pattern along the way. I love them!
The shorts have an elasticated waist, drawstring casing, and front pleats with side pockets. The hem is dipped at the back (described as a dolphin hem on the pattern) and finished with facings for a clean hemline.

I wasn't sure Boo would go for the dipped hem, but upon wearing them, she is smitten and has asked for another pair. She says they are extremely comfortable and when she sits down the extra coverage at the back gives her some ease. 
It is a good fit for those of us with a rounder bottom!

The facings fit cleanly around the side vents and when flipped to the inside, create a lovely smooth join with no overlapped and bulky bindings to stitch down. I finished the inner edges with my overlocker and used the edge of the overlocked threads as a guide for the topstitching. The instructions say to topstitch from the right side, but didn't want to have to sew a basting guideline and then flip it over just to make sure I followed the curve properly. I topstitched from the wrong side and it worked just fine.

The fabric recommendations for this pattern are light to medium weight wovens and also knit fabric like sweatshirting. This chambray creases easily (as you can see) but is durable. These are the pair that will go with everything. The core wardrobe shorts! I am very tempted with a knit version though, they might fall into secret pyjama territory!

This is the first time I have sewn with Named Patterns and I am impressed by them. The PDF printed out nicely and it didn't take me too long to piece it together. The instructions are detailed and we love the shorts. I want to try the trousers too once I source some fabric.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Butterick B6339 Waistcoat

Pattern: Butterick 6339
Size Made: XXL (for a 49" chest)
Fabric: Herringbone Tweed (main) Brown Taffeta (lining and back)
Alterations made: quite a few!

This was one request that took me by surprise. I suggested a couple of shirts, he came back with 'waistcoat'! Once I worked out that he was deadly serious (and by this time, the pattern had been ordered and the fabric was on its way), I panicked! That sounds a bit like tailoring!

But my good man had faith in me and so I took on the challenge.

I did a couple of muslin trials before cutting into the good stuff. The original design (and for reference we chose view B) had 2 front darts and that caused the front of the waistcoat to swing away from the center when I was fitting it to him. I took out the dart nearest to the center front and it made a dramatic difference. I am glad I didn't have to take out the second dart because I wanted to keep some shaping at the sides.

I took out the upper welt pockets as per Jays' request and placed an internal patch pocket on the inner left hand side that was measured to accommodate his glasses.

Jay wanted an additional strap on the back. There was much debate over this detail. I didn't see it in my mind but he was adamant that it was a feature that he wanted. (Thank you to Nicole for being my sounding board on this matter! Double-back-strap-gate!)

He also wanted the straps to be in wool not lining fabric. I understood this to being because he dislikes the way that a buckle can weigh the flimsy strap down on the back of a waistcoat and it is something that has always bothered him. 

I added 1" of length to the front and back pattern pieces and while fitting the shoulders I decided to reduce the seam allowance from 5/8" to 1/2" to get a better fit. Jay has wide shoulders and a broad chest so any tweaks needed to be made in those areas. I think I got the fit right in the end. One thing I have noticed on the finished garment is that he needs a small pinch taking out either side of the neckline, the back neck gapes just a little bit so I have noted that down for next time.

I did mess up one of the welt pockets the first time around. It would have bothered me too much on the finished garment so I re-cut and started again. We had ordered more fabric than we needed so luckily, this wasn't an issue. 

I must also note (more for myself than anything) that the upper and under collar pieces are hard to distinguish between when they are both in the same fabric. I really should have marked the under collar better when sewing them together as on the left hand side, I can see the bottom peeking out. I obviously got them mixed up. 

Overall, I am happy with it. I could cast a critical eye over it all day long, but for a first attempt with an unknown pattern, I am satisfied. Jay is very happy and it feels great to have made something that he has had a say in and that fits him. I just hope it gets worn! 

I think he looks very smart!

To summarize, my alterations were as follows:
  • Front and Back pieces lengthened by 1"
  • Internal patch pocket to fit glasses put on the inner left hand side
  • Dart nearest center front eliminated
  • Additional strap added to the back
  • Shoulder seam allowance changed to 1/2"
  • Upper welt pockets removed

I would recommend this pattern if you are looking for a waistcoat, it was straightforward and as long as you mark all the pieces properly as you go along, there shouldn't be any issues. There are plenty of options with the pattern too as there are 6 different views to make. Good value for money!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

O + S Garden Party Dress for Spring

Pattern: Garden Party Dress from Oliver and S
Size made: 7
Fabric: Cotton Poplin kindly given to me by a friend

Last years dress was getting a bit too short. I have only made this pattern twice and both times were for L's birthday dress. Also both versions have been blue and white. What can I say, she knows what she likes!

Originally she wanted another floral print but it was an off-cut and I wasn't going to fit the length of the skirt on the piece that I had. We were both happy to go with the blue sunflowers in the end.

It may have been a year, but I used the same size. The bottom half of this dress is roomy and while she has shot up in height, her chest and waist have barely changed. I didn't want it to be slipping off her shoulders, and her measurements were bang on the O+S chart. If she has a growth spurt then I suppose I will just make her another one in the next size. It is a dress she loves so nothing is lost there!

The last dress must have shrunk a bit because when I compared the pattern piece to it, the length was about 3" off. As a result I didn't add any length to this one and it has worked out fine.

The perfect button! One alteration I was going to make was to change the thread chain to a loop. I find that after a few washes the chain can become twisted. But I used an embroidery thread instead to create the chain because I wanted to see how that stood the test of time (last time I had used regular sewing thread). I will be keeping an eye on this one to see if it lasts any longer.

L and I both agreed that this mini pom pom trim was going to look beautiful and I am happy to report that it really does! It took a bit of time to sew on because the seam allowance was quite narrow on the trim and I had to take care not to miss it when sewing it on. I basted it on first and then went back over it to secure it down. I used white thread and a zipper foot to get a close topstitching line.

She is very pleased with this dress and I couldn't be happier that I got to use this pattern again, it is a beauty!


Friday, 26 April 2019

Closet Case Patterns Kelly Anorak

Pattern: Closet Case Patterns -  Kelly Anorak
Fabric: Primrose Yellow Ripstop from the fabric bin at Abakhan Fabrics
Size made: 16
Modifications: used the lining expansion pack

I badly needed to replace my raincoat. I made myself a parka style raincoat from an issue of Ottobre Design about 5 years ago and while my stitching has held firm (hurrah!), my zip broke about 8 months ago and a pen leaked in the pocket leaving a stain. Fair to say, it needed to go!

As you will gather from my original post, I had a hell of a time sewing it. Ottobre aren't known for their in-depth, crystal clear instructions and while the designs are good, the execution can be stressful. I love the style of the Kelly Anorak and having recently sewn up the Clare Coat, I knew there would be much better hand-holding along the way.

I chose to line this coat. One thing I wished I had done on my last one was line the sleeves because Spring sunshine can be pretty weak over here and I always felt a little bit chilly.
The lining expansion pack is purchased separately and comes with a fresh set of instructions for making the coat with lining. Not all the pieces from original list are required so you have to use the new list for the whole coat.

I made sure that I was fully prepped for sewing this up. I used my pressing cloth because I didn't want the ripstop fabric to melt. I also spent a morning making my own tailors ham and tailors sausage so that I would be able to press those seams out properly. (To be fair, I should have done this several projects ago, I found myself with enough time to do it for this one!)

I found the free patterns for the tailors ham/sausage on the Tilly and the Buttons website. Here if you are interested. They didn't take long to make up. Instructions state to stuff with sawdust but I used a huge bag of scrap baby yarn that my mum had given me and packed it in really tightly.

The pockets are really big and roomy thanks to the bellow style gusseted pocket. The flap is entirely for decoration but adds a nice touch. I spent way too long trying to fit those snaps on. They are good quality Prym snaps but I butchered a handful in my attempts to bang them in. I got the pocket ones in, also the two on the hood facing, but one of those won't snap. I didn't want to go to the effort of making a new coat only to ruin it by botching my fastenings. So I ordered some brass looking plastic ones from the KAM UK website because I have one of their snap setting tools and it has always worked in the past.

So the ones you see running down the front of the coat are the plastic ones. They all went on in a matter of minutes and saved my sanity. (I had to wait until I came back off holiday to apply those so in some photos, they are missing)

I wanted a navy lining to the coat as I see a lot of yellow and navy coats around at the moment and love the colour combo. I wasn't sure I would pull off yellow, but I have ended up really loving it. There is no missing me in a crowd now!

The sleeves are long enough to roll back the cuffs and I find that I like the look of the lining showing at the wrist so have been wearing it like that.

I added a hanging loop using grosgrain ribbon.

Overall it is a good length and the hood is roomy. The pleated seam on the back is a nice detail and looks good with the drawstring casing. I like that the back view wasn't forgotten and has some interesting details to balance nicely with the front.

Apart from the initial tracing out of a zillion pieces, I have grown to love making coats. There is something very satisfying about the finished article. Also, every coat I have ever sewn has been worn to death. Whether it was for myself or the girls, they have always been worth making.

To summarize, I would definitely make this coat again. I would like to have the other view (minus the hood) in a kahki green twill with a bit more thermal lining for cooler days. Consider it on my sewing list!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 8 April 2019

Liesl & Co Neighbourhood Sweatshirt and Hoodie

Views Made: Both! Sweatshirt and Hoodie versions
Size Made: Small
Fabric: (View A) Pale Blue fleece backed jersey (View B) Cat print fleece backed jersey and black boucle jersey (reversed) 

Sweatshirt fabrics from Higgs and Higgs.

I made the hoodie version first because my daughter was keenest on a new hooded top. I let her choose both fabrics when we went to a craft show and she selected some lovely soft sweatshirt fabric for the hoodie, and a fun cat print for the other. I was a bit surprised at her colour choice. She doesn't like anything in the pink spectrum, but this apparently is purple. I wasn't going to argue!

I loved sewing both of these up. The sweatshirt was understandably a much quicker sew. The patterned fabric actually gave me a slight moment of worry because I didn't have anything to pair it up with. Boo fancied a black contrast shoulder and sorting through my stash, I found that I didn't have any plain black of the same weight as the sweatshirting.

What I did have however was this grey stretch left over from my Grainline Moss Jacket. If I used it with the wrong side out, I had my black. So that is what I did. 

The contrast panel on the shoulder looks really good. It makes the top stand out to me. When the pattern was released I really liked the look of the sleeve. It took me a while to add this project to my list but I am glad I did. Boo is now fitting nicely into women's sized patterns, which means I really get my money's worth out of them. I shall make one for me soon I think!

I used the small size to fit her at the chest, the hip size didn't match her measurements, but I didn't think that would matter much. It saves me having to re-stitch a popped out hem when she decides to tuck it over her knees as she sits on the sofa. So a little extra wiggle room is a good thing.

Isn't the curve of the hem lovely?

On to View A, a hooded zip up top with kangaroo pockets. 

I'm trying to remember if I have made a zip up hoodie before. I can't for the life of me think of one from the girls wardrobes that was home sewn. 
I have made over-the-head hoodies with a kangaroo pocket before though. Those pockets take a lot of wear in children's clothes. My girls think they are indestructible, and that pockets have no sense of gravity when filled with stones, pine cones, leaves and other treasures. 

So imagine my delight to find that this pocket has all the edges incorporated into the panels. There is no patch style pocket to pull off (no matter how well stitched down). Also the pocket bags are nice and full. 

And there's that lovely sweeping hem again...

The length is perfect on her. Long enough to cover her bottom, but not TOO long.

I lined the hood with some regular cotton jersey leftover from a t-shirt project. The hood is nice and deep. It stays up and feels snuggly.

Thanks to well written instructions, my zip went in perfectly. I didn't have to unpick anything!

Lastly, it occurred to me that the tee she had on underneath everything was one that I made for her in September. It is also a Liesl and Co pattern, this time the Metro Tee. I have altered it slightly as suits her shape. Close fitting and straight styles don't look as good on Boo as a flared hem. 

I cut the pattern piece from the hem to the middle of the shoulder (to create a hinge) and swung it apart by about 1"-1.5" at the hem. It creates a more fluid shape as you can see in the second photo.

I used my Van Ikke transfer to jazz up the front. These iron on transfers are brilliant. Such good quality and so far this has washed really well. I just avoid putting it in the tumble dryer because I don't want it to crack or fade.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Grainline Cascade Duffle Coat

Fabric: Grey Melton (main), quilting cotton (lining), sateen (sleeve lining)
Size made: 14

I have wanted a duffle coat for a long time so was really excited to finally try out this pattern. When my old everyday winter coat started looking a bit shabby I decided to replace it with something handmade.  Lucky for me I had about 3m of this grey melton fabric stashed away. Unlucky for my husband, it will now never become a Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat. You snooze you lose!

This is view B, the longer thigh length version. I wanted the extra warmth that comes with a longer coat. I think the shorter version would be good for Spring time around these parts and it would really smarten up an outfit. But for now, I wanted to be snuggly.

The wool is perhaps a lighter weight than I would deem perfect, but it certainly is warm. Also water just pills up on the surface and can be shaken off so it doesn't get too saturated. I dislike how it creases easily and a heavier weight fabric would definitely look better after sitting down in it for a while.

Grainline always has well written patterns and for the majority of their range, there is a sewalong to accompany them. The Cascade sewalong is excellent, and I followed it while I made this. I found having a visual aid along the way helped to clear up any niggles. I found it useful when attaching the hood. There was an excess of fabric that was puzzling me, but in the sewalong, it showed you to fold it over near the edge. 

I chose to use the contrast lining for the zipper bands. I wish I hadn't. I don't like how the contrast peeks out from under the center front bands. So, note to self, don't do that next time!

I had a go at making the toggles, and they don't look too bad! A while back, I picked up a bag of leather scraps and matched the dark brown to some buttons I had in my drawer. I was a bit worried about them not holding together, but with the aid of some Gorilla Glue, I don't think the straps are going anywhere. They are pretty stuck down!

The hood is just lovely. It is very deep and roomy and I like how the lining fabric has a chance to be on display.

The construction of the coat went very smoothly. That moment when you are bagging the lining and turning it out never fails to scare me but I needn't have worried, it all sits so nicely. 

I used the quilting cotton for the sleeves too but at the tops I lined the upper half of the sleeve lining with black sateen. This just helps the coat to slip on and off easily. I wanted the sleeves to keep me warm without being cumbersome. It worked out well.

 I would definitely make this again. It is a slow and steady type of project, and requires a lot of cutting out but the sizing is spot on for me and I am getting lots of wear out of it already.

Thanks for reading!