Sunday, 16 April 2017

Nautical print Granville shirt

My lightweight #2017makenine pledge is actually going rather well (lightweight in the sense that mine is actually #2017makesix...). I've made the Capital Chic Sangria dress and two versions of the Sew Over It Heather dress. My latest finished garment takes the tally up to three, although it's a slight deviation from the original idea. I'd planned to make a Deer and Doe Melilot Shirt using some nautical viscose twill from my stash. Well, the stash fabric got used, but I decided to use an old favourite rather than starting from scratch with a new-to-me pattern. The pattern I used was the Sewaholic Granville shirt which I've sewn three times before (here, here and here). It was already adjusted to fit, so my plan was to just cut out the fabric and start sewing. It didn't quite work out that way though...

I have no qualms with the pattern: I love using it and always get good results. No, the baddie in this particular saga happened to be the fabric - it was an absolute nightmare. The culprit was a viscose twill with a lovely drape and slight sheen from Fabric Godmother (no longer in stock). The problem was it had so much drape it was barely usable. The first sign that all was not well was when I tried to iron it after pre-washing - it wouldn't stay on the ironing board and kept sliding off. I then sprayed it to within an inch of its life with spray starch. This stiffened the fabric sufficiently for me to cut the pattern pieces out, but it was still slippery as hell. The texture was horrible to work with too, a bit like having an entire garment made from grosgrain ribbon. I put the finished shirt through a rinse cycle in the washing machine, but I'm not entirely convinced all the starch has been removed as the texture is still a bit weird. Hopefully it will settle down after another wash.

Spot the sailor boys...
The reason I'd fallen for the fabric in the first place was the design: from afar it looks like a ditsy floral, but it's actually a nautical theme. Anchors, yachts, flags and, wait for it... sailor boys! Adorable as those sailor boys are, they're not cute enough to make me want to work with this fabric ever again. I was actually quite resentful of it by the time I'd finished, which was a shame as I loved it when I first bought it and it certainly wasn't cheap (£17 a metre).

On a brighter note, having made it several times before, construction was a breeze. The only time I ventured away from the instructions was to construct the collar - I used the Four Square Walls method which I prefer. If I were to make this shirt again (highly likely), the one thing I'd change would be to increase the size of the full bust adjustment as it's a tiny bit snug across the bust.

After grappling with the fabric for what felt like months, I knew any kind of buttonhole mishap would nudge me over the edge, so I got the buttonholes made at D M Buttons in Soho. I added a couple more (well why not, if somebody else is making them?!) which was a sensible move. All my other versions have had to have secret buttons added to the inside to prevent gaping but this one seems to be fine so far. I personally don't think there are enough buttons specified in the pattern, so if you're thinking of making it I'd recommend adding a couple more. The buttons are lovely metal ones from the button shop in Berlin - I like how they pop against all the red, white and blue.

The shirt has already had its first full day's outing: a meeting with sewing pals to welcome Tasha and partner Mel to London last weekend.

Outside Sew Over It

With beautiful Roisin
Looking slightly crazed with a cocktail
It was the perfect choice for walking around visiting fabric shops and sitting in the pub, but still felt just about dressy enough for cocktails later. I almost forgave the fabric for being such a bitch to work with. Almost. Happy Sunday! x

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The perfect denim skirt (probably)

Who doesn't love a denim skirt? I've made plenty over the years (here, here, here and here) and I'm still not bored of them. When I was at the Knitting & Stitching Show recently I fell for some lovely bright blue seventies style denim from Guthrie & Ghani and immediately knew I wanted to make another one with it. The question was, what style of denim skirt to make?

My current favourite pairing: plain jumper, big necklace and clogs

If you type 'denim skirt' into Pinterest, 99% of the resulting pins are either A-line button up styles, denim minis or a combination of the two. I already own a RTW denim mini which I hardly ever wear, and it seemed a bit pointless to make another one just for the sake of it. I wanted to use my denim to make a skirt that would be worn a lot, so I scrutinised my handmade wardrobe for inspiration. The two skirts that I wear the most are my barkcloth skirt made from a vintage pattern and my chambray Simplicity 2451. Both of them have just the right amount of ease to be comfortable, but are still a great shape. Having made the one seam skirt twice already, I decided to give the Simplicity pattern another go.

Casual with a striped T-shirt
Simplicity 2451 is quite an old pattern and tragically now appears to be out of print (oh no!) - I must get into the habit of sewing patterns when they're current rather than years later. If you can get your hands on a copy though I'd highly recommend it - it's relatively simple and very satisfying to sew. As per last time, I cut a size 12 of view C, with no changes and the fit is just right. The denim has a slight stretch, which always helps. Because I was using a thicker fabric this time, I used a precious fat quarter of vintage feedsack for the inside waist facing and the pocket linings.

I love the contrast and the fact that the blue in the feedsack design is almost an exact colour match for the denim. 
Paired with a pretty vintage blouse 
I'm so glad I went with a pattern that suits my style. Yes, it's not the most hip pattern on the block but as you can see from the photos it works for me and my wardrobe! In fact, I can't think of any of my tops that this skirt wouldn't work with - I have tons of styling ideas. I may have to try that out as an experiment: one skirt, styled seven different ways!  x

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Sew Over It Molly Top

This here is the Molly Top, one of the patterns included in the My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break eBook by Sew Over It.

I've only just got round to sewing anything from it and the Molly pattern was the perfect place to start. 

There are lots of gorgeous, inspirational photos of the pattern in the eBook, which was great for styling ideas. I decided to cut my neckband on the cross grain (as seen above) to make the stripes contrast. The pattern is drafted with short kimono sleeves with additional long sleeve cuffs to add some interest. I really like this feature, especially when sewn with stripes, but with spring nodding its head at me, I decided to leave off the long sleeves for my first attempt.

I cut a straight size 10 and brought the waist in slightly for a bit more shaping. This works well with the top, but I won't make this change for the dress version as I'll need the extra room around the middle. I also shortened the pattern by an inch and could probably do with shortening it a bit more for any future versions. It's quite long on me, which is great for wearing loose with jeans, but a bit too bulky if I want to wear it tucked into anything.

Could probably go a bit shorter... 
Because of the kimono sleeves, this top was soooo easy to sew. Just attach the front and back pieces at the shoulders and side seams, add the neckband and hem and boom, you're done. It would probably take a little bit longer to add the sleeve cuffs, but not much longer as they're hardly difficult. I didn't actually follow the instructions, just skimmed them to check there wasn't anything untoward, then whipped the top up on my overlocker. And don't worry if you don't have an overlocker, the instructions are geared towards sewing it on a regular machine with a narrow zigzag stitch. 

Recommended fabrics are lightweight cotton or viscose jerseys for the top version, or heavier weight ponte knits for the dress. I used a red and white small striped jersey from Fabrics Galore which is a cotton/elastane mix and is probably weighty enough for the dress version too. Patterns with kimono sleeves are notorious fabric eaters, but because I didn't add sleeves and the fabric was wide, the 1.5 metres I'd bought was plenty. The quality of the fabric is just so lovely - it washes well and has great recovery - I'll definitely be buying more in different colourways.

The finished top has been worn a lot, it's so simple and comfortable to throw on and I love the contrast neckband. To be honest, I doubt whether I'll make any of the other four patterns included in the eBook (find them here) as they're either not to my taste, or too similar to patterns I already own. I'm delighted to have found this little gem though - look out for a dress version with sleeves later in the year!

A copy of the My Capsule Wardrobe eBook was given to me free of charge for review. All views my own.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Another Heather Dress

It was only a matter of time before I caved in and made another Heather dress.

My navy version has been a runaway success this winter, so much so that I needed to dilute it to stop it being worn to death. This second version was made using a luxury ponte knit in aqua, sent to me to try out by The Sewcial Studio. It's not quite as weighty as the ponte I used for my first version, which made me think it would be better suited to a short sleeved spring version. I was right, it's a lovely quality jersey and the perfect weight for a spring dress. Personally I wouldn't want to use anything lighter than a ponte for this pattern as the princess seams and pockets require a bit of structure.

I sewed the same size as last time (size 10, grading to size 12 at the bust), with a couple of additional changes:
  • Shortened the neckband. It wasn't quite snug enough on my first Heather dress and it does bag a bit, which is annoying.
  • Shaved the top curve off the sleeve heads. For some reason the sleeves jut out at the shoulder on me, a bit like a low key Krystle Carrington. I didn't change them on my first version but it was far more noticeable this time round (probably because of the lighter coloured fabric), so out came the scissors.
  • Added another 1.5cms to the front side seams at the bust for a better fit.

That's it, nothing major, and like last time, it was a quick, easy sew. Everything on the inside was sewn on my overlocker and the hems were finished with a twin needle. I think I've been lucky with the fit on this pattern - it's comfortable but still figure skimming on me. I like the short sleeves for the warmer weather too. I'm wearing the dress with tights in these photos to spare you the sight of my blue/white winter pallor, but as soon as the false tan kicks in I'll be baring my legs and wearing it with clogs!  x

Fabric was given to me free of charge by The Sewcial Studio for review. All views my own.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Knitting & Stitching Show 2017

First up, I'd like to say an enormous THANK YOU to everybody who commented or sent me messages of support following my last post. I appreciated each and every one of them and they really did make me feel better. I'm not quite sewing and blogging on full steam yet, but I've been back at the sewing machine (and the computer), so it's a start. In the meantime, what better way to cheer yourself up and forget about the stresses of everyday life than to visit a stitching show?! 

A few weeks ago I hot footed it over to Olympia with sewing pal Winnie to the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show. This year, I did what I always forget to do and booked myself into a workshop - Altering Patterns for a Fuller Bust - rock and roll! Whilst I was immersed in full bust adjustments (details below), Winnie somehow managed to make a leather clutch bag in an hour! After our workshop delights, the rest of the day was spent visiting stands and stuffing our faces with cake. Sadly there were too many cheap market stalls selling tat or blatantly non-crafty items for my liking. I counted no fewer than three separate stands for the Cats Protection League??? What's that all about?! Despite this we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and still managed to walk around for hours until our feet nearly dropped off. Here's a mini round up based on the abysmal number of random photos I remembered to take....

For my workshop, tutor Clare Tyler showed us everything we needed to know about adjusting patterns for busty types. This included moving darts and adjusting patterns for a no dart bodice, side dart bodice and princess seamed bodice. I'd done most of the alterations before, but it was still really interesting and the 1.5 hours positively flew by. After demonstrating each step we were let loose with paper and sellotape.

Chatting with Lauren from Guthrie Ghani. Lauren was wearing a Tilly and the Buttons Zadie dress in the most beautiful textured jersey fabric (Winnie bought some).

Vintage lovelies from Simply Vintage Designs

Liberty fabric heaven at Sewbox. I was on the lookout for some smaller pieces for my quilt and found a perfect little pack for £5. I've already managed to squeeze out 20 patchwork squares from the pieces, bargain!

This year I bought just three pieces of fabric, all destined for simple garments. 

From the top:
Teal striped T-shirt jersey from Girl Charlee

Small striped jersey from Fabrics Galore. I'd never paid much attention to their jerseys before, but having examined them up close, I have to say the quality is amazing. This will become a short sleeved Molly Top from Sew Over It.

Lovely, bright blue denim (much brighter in real life than the photo) from Guthrie Ghani. I'll probably make some kind of seventies-style skirt with it. 

The combination of fabric purchases, meeting sewing pals (old and new) and spending the day with Winnie was the perfect tonic for my frazzled nerves - I'm glad I visited! Next up, some actual sewing... x

Monday, 20 February 2017

Blog break

This is just a short post to let you know I'll be taking a break from the blog for the next few weeks. As you may know, my younger son has special needs and is currently going through a very difficult time. I'm just about keeping my head above water at the moment and there isn't a great deal of sewing being done. I thought it would be easier to take a complete break from sewing and blogging and hopefully come back to it with renewed sparkle once things are more settled at home. 

Thanks so much for your understanding.
Jane x

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Liberty fabric suppliers

Last summer I talked about making a new quilt using some Liberty remnants I've been hoarding for the past few years. But when I went through my stash, I realised there were only three I actually wanted to use and that I'd need to buy a few more Liberty fabrics (such a hardship!) My first port of call was the Liberty shop itself as there's currently 50% off online on selected prints, but annoyingly there was nothing in the sale that was quite right. Full price Liberty fabric is pricey (£22.50 a metre for Tana lawn), so I decided to do a bit of online research to see if I could find cheaper options....  

I spent an entire afternoon overdosing on Liberty prints and could quite easily have been at it for days on end if I didn't had children to look after. I did however, manage to find quite a few cheaper alternatives, so if you love Liberty prints but don't love their usual hefty price tags, read on! I've included a mixture of bricks and mortar shops and online stores, but obviously it's nowhere near a comprehensive list. I should also point out that I've used some, but not all of these suppliers, so can't vouch for them all personally. Hopefully one of them may lead you to a bargain though!

This friendly online store offers a mix of classic and contemporary prints at reduced prices, often in unusual colourways. The majority of fabrics are Tana lawn and Lifestyle cottons, with some jersey and cord prints also stocked.

THE place to go for discounted Liberty fabrics if you're in London. They stock absolutely everything, with a far broader range than the Liberty store itself, including all the classic floral prints and lots of seasonal collections. If you're desperate to track down a discontinued or limited edition print, give them a try, they probably have it in stock. The firework print fabric I got for Christmas was found at  Shaukat after it had sold out at Liberty. 

Visit the shop in South Kensington or buy online here.  

Goldhawk Road, London W12
Classic Textiles stocks some lovely Tana lawns and silks. Last time I was there I think Tana lawn was about £17 a metre and silk amazingly was about £12 a metre. I used Liberty silk from this shop to line my boiled wool coat.

Misan West on Goldhawk Road is a relatively new fabric shop and also stocks Liberty fabrics. Definitely worth paying a visit if you're in the area.

Fabrics Galore has been around for 25 years and offers a good selection of classic and seasonal Tana lawns at very good prices (around £15.00 a metre). 

They have a shop in Battersea, you can buy online here or they regularly exhibit at sewing shows throughout the year.

As well as stocking classic Tana lawns at full price, Abakhan also has a separate clearance sections where you can snap up past collections of Tana lawn for £12.95 a metre and Lifestyle cottons for £9.95 a metre).

Clothkits are more commonly known for their ready made clothing kits, but did you know they also have a small but perfectly formed Liberty section on their website?! Check out their Tana lawn clearance section where you can find an interesting selection for £16.00 a metre. They also sell Liberty bias binding and fabric covered buttons!

I found this eBay seller via What Kate Sews a couple of years ago when she listed her favourite eBay fabric shops. In Katie's words, "A good source for Liberty Tana Lawns in largeish pre-cut lots. At roughly £30 for a 3 metre cut it's a good deal."  I''d agree with that! You can also get good deals on smaller pieces - I snapped up a metre of hard-to-find Carline print for £15 last year.

If you have a favourite place for sourcing discounting Liberty fabric, please let me know in the comments. And whilst I'm at it, what's your favourite Liberty print? My favourite is Carline, which I've just noticed seems to be in stock again at Liberty. Sadly not in the sale though. Have a good week! x


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