Sashiko Mending Archer

This is my first ever Grainline Archer.  I have since shared a few more recent versions, but this first one has always been a favourite.  I meticulously pattern matched the plaid across the front, learned how to attach a collar and install plackets, and even inserted my first snaps.

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Favorite, that is until a hole appeared right where the button placket meets the front piece.

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I deliberated for ages about what to do.  I didn’t want to just throw away something that represented a lot of hard work and some fairly major achievements, but I also didn’t know how to mend it in such a way that I would be happy with the end result.  And I really didn’t want to have to do loads of unpicking to sort it out!

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I have come across Sashiko a few times before, often as a piece of decorative art, or sometimes as a means of mending the knees of worn jeans, but only recently did it occur to me that this might be the way to salvage my much loved shirt!  I did still have some of the fabric from the original shirt left, so this felt like a logical place to begin my mending journey.  I took a large rectangle, overlocked all the edges and pinned it in place behind the hole.

Next I chose a complimentary embroidery thread.  I wanted something that toned in with the colours in the shirt, but I also wanted to embrace the fact that this mending was going to be visible, and I could be proud of that!  This seemed like a good compromise.

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Because the shirt already has such a strong geometric pattern, I decided that there was no need for complex embroidery shapes.  Sticking with the grid of the plaid would help keep my stitches even and straight anyway so no need for guide lines.

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Sashiko mending is designed to reinforce the fabric, anchoring it to a solid base, but I think I may still have to be a little careful when using the poppers that I don’t put unnecessary strain on the fabric.  I think it looks pretty cool, and now I can wear my Archer shirt again with pride, knowing that it is even more unique and special than before.  Embrace the uniqueness and the mending.

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Georgette Pussy Bow Blouse

When I graduated, far too long ago, I wore a similar blouse to this, and it still is in fairly regular rotation in my wardrobe.  I was given this Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse pattern quite a while ago, and I decided this autumn that it was high time that I put it together and tried it out.  The pattern has two options, a keyhole neckline like my graduation blouse, and a V-neck which I decided to make this time around.

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I made this blouse from a polyester chiffon georgette from The Textile Centre on Ebay, which was very reasonably priced.  Polyester does have a rather poor reputation in some sewing circles, and I’ll admit, there are some potential pitfalls.  It can be very resistant to pressing which can make getting sharp seam lines tricky, and it is not terribly breathable to wear.  It is, however often a relatively cheap option, which can make it a great fabric for a wearable toile, when you aren’t sure that a pattern is going to fit or suit as you would like, and the resistance to pressing also means that you can pack or crumple your garment as much as you like and it won’t hold the creases!  This got packed to holiday in the Lake District which is absolutely beautiful, if was slightly unobliging weather-wise for the photos!

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I was very pleased with the quality of the fabric. it is soft and fluid making it perfect for a lightweight blouse, though it does have a tendency to fray.  If I had had more time, I think French seaming the insides would have been the way to go, but overlocking is just so much quicker, and does seem to have kept the fraying in check.

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As several people have observed, this Sew Over It pattern is not the easiest to get a neat finish at the point where the centre front seam and the bow meet.  I did hand sew the inside of the neckline which helped, but it was still pretty fiddly getting everything to meet up properly.  Once the bow it tied though, and imperfections will be hidden anyway, so perhaps it isn’t worth worrying about too much!

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Unlike most top patterns, the front is cut in two pieces, while the back is cut on the fold.  This centre front seam is there to help to get the bow attached, but I think with some careful sewing, you might be able to get away with taking out the centre seam and cut this on the fold too.  The pattern on my blouse is pretty busy and so I don’t mind the seam breaking up the pattern too much, but if you have a more special fabric, you might prefer to eliminate this seam and avoid any pattern matching issues.

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One thing to bear in mind are the cuffs.  I have pretty small wrists, but even I don’t have much space here.  If you have a larger bone structure, you might want to cut the cuff peace a little longer to make it more comfortable to wear, and just reduce the amount of gathering into the cuff.  I can’t get the cuff over my hand without undoing the buttons which is quite unusual for me! The buttons are very simple and are from my button stash.  Next time I will sew them on with a bit more of a thread shank, or use a thinner ribbon instead of the rouleau button loop because they are a bit fiddly to do up and undo.

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The hem is slightly curved and shaped at the side seam too, which does look nice untucked with jeans and trousers.  All in all, this has turned into a very versatile blouse.  All ready for autumn.

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Winter is Coming- Time for Agnes!

I love a good remnant!  Even with less than a metre there is usually enough for a top, like in this viscose blend jersey remnant from Fabric Godmother.  I scored 80cm for 2.99 and it was perfect for cutting out a Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Top with just a couple of scraps left over.

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These are not my first Agnes tops, and I am still wearing the ones that I made up last winter.  This is just the basic long sleeved Agnes pattern with no adaptations.  The fabric does all the work.  It doesn’t need anything fancy, but I do think this is a very cute autumn look.

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The same is true of this oversized t-shirt that I found in the charity shop for £1.  I did have to cut pretty creatively for this one, and even then couldn’t quite get full length sleeves, but I love the sparkle!  I even had to cut the neckband in two pieces which is why there is a join at the centre front, but I decided to use the ruched neckline to try and make it look deliberate.

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Tops like this are staples in my winter wardrobe and are so quick to make up.  Less than 2 hours from cutting to wearing makes these a real bargain, and very satisfying make.  Especially with an overlocker to finish and sew the seams at the same time- I do love my Janome 6234XL.

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There will surely be more of these in the months and years to come.

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Another wedding outfit- Ogden and pleats

I spotted this leaf print viscose challis at Minerva Crafts a while ago, and thought it was a bargain at £2.99 a metre. There are a few colour options to choose from, but I really liked the muted colours of the tan colourway, and when it arrived I wasn’t disappointed.  The fabric is so soft and fluid, but surprisingly easy to work with too.  I thought that I would make a lovely wedding outfit given that I had a few more to attend this year and I wasn’t wrong!

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One problem with sewing for weddings is that I rarely need to get dressed up like that in everyday life, and it does seem a waste to make something beautiful only to wear it for special occasions.  With that in mind, I decided to make a coordinating skirt and top so that I would have more opportunities to wear them apart as well as together.  This might have been partially inspired by other bloggers, and in particular Becca from Red W Sews who also used the ogden cami to make a ‘fake dress’.  It was actually this that convinced me to buy the pattern, and I’m glad I did because it is so simple and elegant.

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So with the top decided, I just needed to work out a skirt.  I fancied something midi length, which isn’t a length that I usually go for, but I thought for a wedding and with heels it should look a bit more classy.  The skirt didn’t need to be anything complicated so I decided to draft one myself  (not entirely successfully) from basic measurements.  I did find a couple of blogs that helped me out, most notably sewVeraVenus for drafting the skirt and Andrea at The Butchers Block for working out how I could have both a side seam zip and pockets!

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Somehow, once I had sewn the zip in and tried the skirt on, it was just far too big.  Being the lazy sewist that I am, I didn’t really want to reset the zip, so I decided to take out a full pleat from the opposite side seam.  I just unpicked a little bit of the waistband facing, took the side seam in, and sewed the facing back down.  Amazingly, despite taking a full 10cm out of the waist, it is still a little big so I don’t think much of my maths.  Either that, or the fabric stretched out a lot more than expected while sewing in the pleats.

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Because these box pleats use a lot of fabric (3 times the waist measurement) this is a lovely full and swooshy skirt.  There is enough weight to it for it to flow nicely, and because it is just a big rectangle , I had plenty of fabric to give it a deep hem.  Sadly, though the wedding venue had beautiful grounds it rained all afternoon, so we had to sneak out and find a little shelter to take these photos.

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Having tested it out together at the wedding, it seemed only right to give the top an outing by itself on the way home.  We stopped off at Croome on the way home, a National Trust property with a really interesting mixed history.  It has a massive grounds and parkland, but was also a ‘secret’ RAF base during the 2nd world war and was instrumental in developing RADAR.

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It was a lovely spot for a walk around and a break from motorway driving.  And my Ogden cami was comfortable and stylish for a Sunday afternoon stroll.  I can see it getting plenty of use for a semi-dressed up look this autumn.

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My first Jeans, and another test for Minerva Crafts

It sometimes seems like you are the only person in the blogosphere that hasn’t made a particular pattern, and I did feel a little like that before embarking on these Ginger Jeans.  These have been on my plans list since Closet Case Patterns launched a ‘Sew you dream jeans’ video workshop in February, so it’s been a while coming.  Sometimes though, you just need a little nudge to get started, and when Minerva Crafts gave me the opportunity to try out some of their stretch denim, I knew it was time to get started!

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I am so in love with these Jeans! They look and feel like the real thing, and are probably the best fitting pair that I have ever owned.  I sewed a size 6 with a few adjustments- I shortened them by 2″ because I am a bit shorter than the drafted for 5’6″. I shortened the crotch length by 3/8th” after my baste fit, and recut my waistband with more of a curve at the back to allow for a slight swayback.  Next time I will take a tiny bit more out of the crotch, but I think that is all the changes that I will make.

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The fabric was fantastic to work with- stretch, good recovery, and firm but not too thick.  You can see my full review and more pictures over on the Minerva crafts blog.  I think I might just have to make another pair.

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The perfect elegant top- Ogden Cami

I think that I might be the last person in the sewing world to make one of these Ogden Cami’s this summer! This is a pattern by True Bias, and has been cropping up all over blogs and Instagram over the summer.  I can definitely see why though.  The pattern is so simple, but just beautifully drafted so it fits in a very elegant way.

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This is actually my second of these tops.  I am hopefully wearing the first one as you read this to a wedding, and I will be revealing my full wedding outfit next weekend (hopefully).  This one does have a couple of issues, but I think they are of my own making!

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The fabric is a remnant of premier crepe from Fabric Godmother in the colour beige. I would probably call it something more elegant like blush, but it is a really lovely neutral colour.  The remnant was only 60cm, which meant that I didn’t have quite enough to cut the facings too, so I cut them from a cream acetate lining fabric.

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I think the may be where my small fitting issue came in.  The crepe is drapey and has a lot of movement. The lining is a little stiffer and more rigid, though also lightweight. I think it is the lining which is causing the slight pulling across my bust and underarms.  I don’t seem to have this problem in the other one, and I think this is because the facing moves with the main fabric better.

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The pattern advises that you do something to differentiate the front from the back, so I hand stitched this little button onto the back lining to help me out when getting dressed!

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This is a straight size 4 and I love it.  Being fitted at the bust means that I don’t feel swamped in fabric by the time it flares out over the stomach and hips.  I do have a little bit of a tummy, and this conceals it without looking like I am trying to!  This crepe does have a good bit of drape, and I have so many more plans for these in all the remnants I can get my hands on.  It is certainly economical for fabric and can definitely be got out of 1m.

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