Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Home & Away: Lesley Sweater

Pattern: The Lesley Sweater by Hannah Fettig of Knitbot
(find pattern on Ravelry here)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Shade 8011 (Aspen Heather)

I finished this sweater a few weeks ago, just in time for all the sunshine!
 As you can see the sun hampered our efforts to take a decent photo, between sunspots and me squinting, we got there eventually. 

You can choose between knitting this sweater in one piece seamlessly or knit it as a pieced work. 
The fact that you could choose either method was one of the main reasons for me buying this pattern book. It is a beautiful collection of patterns, and the photography is gorgeous. I have the PDF version, but if you can splash out on the actual book, do it!

I cannot describe how warm this sweater is. The wool I used is 100% Peruvian Highland Wool and is incredibly soft. It knitted up beautifully and after washing, it has settled evenly and the stitches look good.

The collection of patterns in this book are all tempting to knit, but I wanted a really good basic sweater, in a neutral colour. I almost chose the Flax by Tin Can Knits because I have made that before successfully. I am glad I tried something different though. Both patterns are similar in style and simple to knit. 

I like to knit all the parts separately, I keep my project bag in the car for snatching knitting time between work and school pick up. Well, normally. Of course there hasn't been that commute recently. Nevertheless, this was a lovely pattern to follow and it is just the fit I wanted. The sleeves are slim and go underneath a coat nicely. The length is a good length for jeans and the neckline is a good shape.

I will try the seamless method with my next one. I would like to know which I prefer.

For now this will be packed away for Autumn/Winter time. 
I haven't decided on my next knitting project yet. I like to tackle something a bit smaller after a big adult knit so I will keep you posted.

Thanks for reading! 

Friday, 24 April 2020

Grainline Archer

Pattern: Grainline Archer View B
Size Made: 14
Fabric: Checked shirting

This pattern for me is one of those reliable ones.
 I have made it about 4 times now and given an unlimited supply of fabric,
 I would happily make up a batch of these. 

The first time I made this version (with the ruffle back) I caught it on a door handle and ripped the back. I was most annoyed.

 Please keep your fingers crossed that the same same doesn't happen to this one.

I didn't add the pockets. I made them initially and put them on. However, the check pattern wouldn't sit anywhere over my chest that didn't look like 'x marks the spot'. I made an executive decision  to leave them off.

This is a loose fitting style shirt that layers well and has some pretty details, like the double pleats on the cuff.

My favourite part of this shirt is undoubtedly the bottom covering ruffle. It makes a change from the usual shirt back and with a bit of extra length (for me) will be perfect. I think I might have either grown taller or cut it shorter by mistake because it looks like an extra inch and a half might be beneficial.

I hope you are all doing ok. I have been doing more gardening that sewing during lockdown. A bit of knitting thrown in here and there too, just to give me something to do while I enjoy sitting in my tidy garden! Stay safe everyone, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Closet Case Kelly Coat in Green

Hello! Its been a while since I've posted on this little space of mine! Almost a year, that really is shameful. I'm still here, still making. I guess at this moment, like so many, I find myself with the blessed gift of time.

I was lucky to get some photographs of this new coat on the weekend before we went into isolation. Little did we know that would be the case. 

On to the sewing!

Pattern: Kelly Coat from Closet Case Patterns
Size Made: 16
Fabric: Green Twill (outer) Floral stretch mystery fabric (lining) dress lining (sleeves)

This is my second go at the Kelly Coat, my first being in a yellow ripstop fabric. I still wear that version a lot and always promised myself that I would make another. Specifically in a green twill and lined in something warm. Spring can be cruel over here. You think it is a lovely sunny day until you step into the shade and then it might as well be winter. 

Ironically, I don't need a coat at the moment and would have been better investing my time into making pyjamas or trackies to wear around the house. 

Making this coat for the second time, even with a years gap, I didn't have any major problems. The amount of pattern pieces  is overwhelming and you have to be really organised to make sure everything is cut out and cut out correctly (some pieces are right side up only.) I have of course used the add on lining expansion pack, so lots of extra pieces.

I referred to the written instructions and the online sewalong because some steps I needed to actually see. It is a lovely pattern to sew up. As long as you take your time over each step and get that topstitching on straight it isn't stressful at all.

The snaps are plastic KAM snaps applied using one of their proper pliers. I struggled to get the metal snaps on last time and the plastic ones were much better. However, this time, and it may be because of the weight of the twill, but I don't think all the plastic snaps are going to hold firm. The one in the center of the drawstring casing won't stay put. I can always try the metal ones if I have any major issues.

I got quite excited about the bartacks. My old sewing machine hated bartacks and would use it as an opportunity to create great knotted tangles and chew up my fabric. This was made on my newer machine and I am thrilled to find it completed the procedure with no issues.

Roomy pockets and a nice deep hood. The drawstring waist keeps everything tidy and snug. 

I didn't realise when I bought the lining fabric, that it had quite a bit of stretch. The requirements are for a non-stretch so I kept my fingers crossed that it would work. It has created a cozy layer against my body and the fact that it has that little bit of give meant that the hood lining went in smoothly. I didn't have to snip into the seam allowance to make it fit. 

I chose to use a shifty lining fabric for the sleeves. This enables the coat to go on easily.

 I added a hanging loop along the neckline, which I forgot to photograph. 

I hope you are all keeping well. Take care and stay safe!

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!