Velvet maternity skirt and top

I’ve been busy again reviewing some fabric for Minerva Craft- this time a pleated velvet jersey.  I had only planned to make a skirt, but my skirt ended up being an experiment in how to create a maternity waistband, and I ended up with some fabric left over for a little top too.

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See the rest of the pictures and details of the construction here on the Minerva crafts blog.  Something that I forgot to mention on the blog post was that this fabric doesn’t fray at all, which is awesome, because I decided not to hem anything!  I wasn’t really sure how to hem this without loosing the pleats, so not hemming was an easier solution.

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Christmas Present Reveal!

I do enjoy making people Christmas presents, but it is too much of a risk to blog about them before the day because who knows if they will see!  I have made a couple of special things thought this year which I wanted to be able to share.

First, for my brother, a memory pillow.  A couple of months ago, James handed me a load of this old military t-shirts.  He didn’t need them anymore and wasn’t sure what to do with them, but they do have interesting logos and memories attached.  I took them home, not quite sure what they were going to become, but I’m pleased with the outcome.  There were only 5 shirts, but one had James’ army nickname on the arm too which I wanted to save.  I carefully cut 15cm squares around the logo’s and put them together on my overlocker.

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The back uses the backs of some of the t-shirts.  I did think I might be able to use the hems already there, but they were pretty wavy with constant washing and use so I just cut rectangles and hemmed them myself.  The back of one of the t-shirts had James’ job role printed on it too, so that also got saved and included.  It wouldn’t mean much to anyone else, but to James I hope it serves as a way to save some good memories for a little while longer.

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For Matt, I have been experimenting with some knitting, which is a bit of a departure from my usual crafting.  So far, I only have the patience to knit small things, such as baby booties and this hat.  Perhaps my patience will improve, but I do also like the more rapid results that I see when sewing.

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This hat is really simple.  It is a very old free pattern from a magazine (Let’s knit, October 2013). It is supposed to be knit in 2×2 rib all the way through, but at some point I must have not been paying enough attention and I switched the rib direction.  Fortunately it looks sufficiently intentional as an edging pattern.

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It was a pretty easy project in the end (apart from trying to find time to knit when Matt wasn’t around) and I actually found doing the ribbing quite therapeutic.  The yarn is a cotton/acrylic/wool blend with some muted colour variation (Sirdar Crofter DK, Fair Isle).  I quite like that the stripes are not particularly regular or uniform, and Matt also seems happy enough wearing it!

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Finally, my Grandma has a very old and special bear which she has had and loved since the age of 4.  Big Ted is now 84, and apparently had a need for some PJ’s.  Since it was a special request, I had to see what I could do.  Big Ted is a slightly unusual shape, and I didn’t have him with me to work from, just a handful of measurements so I’m not sure these fit quite as well as I would like, but they seem to have been popular.

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I adapted a pattern from Bear Wear Patterns.  The pattern was for hospital wear, which opened at the back so I modified the pattern pieces so that it was the front which opened, and drafted my own collar to make some fairly traditional PJ’s.

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Just in case big teddy was lounging around though, I thought he could do with a dressing gown.  This one is based on a pattern from It’s Always Autumn, but I didn’t have it printed out so I just copied the shapes and sizes approximately to put mine together.  It seems to have come together pretty nicely, and Grandma and teddy were both very pleased!

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It’s all pretty different from my usual sewing and blogging which is a bit of fun.  Usual service will be resumed in the new year though, when I will be back with my plans and a giveaway.

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Top 5 Hits and Misses of 2017

It’s always good at the turning of the year to review, so I thought I’d go through my makes from this year with the benefit of hindsight and see which had been ultimate successes, and which hadn’t got as much use as I had hoped.  Reviewing makes like this does help to gain an overview of what sorts of projects did or didn’t work in my lifestyle, so I’ll be using that to start making my plans for next year too!

Top 5 Hits

Ginger Jeans

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I think my first attempt at jeans definitely was a highlight this year. They fitted great, the fabric choice was spot on and I felt justifiably proud with the result.  Sadly, because they are fitted and fairly high-waisted, they don’t fit over the bump any more, so I will have to wait a while before I can wear them again, but I have plans to make jeans again in the future and will just have to wait and see if I end up the same shape post baby or need to make some other fit adjustments to the next pair!

Archer Shirts

Maybe this is a cheat, because I actually made two archers, and mended another with some sashiko mending, but I love them all and they have been in regular wardrobe rotation all year.  I think I love most that they are so versatile.  The relaxed fit is spot on, and there is something so satisfying about the precision involved in shirt making.

Kwik Sew Coat

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The slightly oversized fit of this coat has been an unexpected bonus- I think I will fit into it for most of the winter, even as I grow!  That aside, I would change a few things next time I make a coat, but you have to start somewhere, and this project has given me the courage to try some other trickier and more involved sewing projects again in the future.

Flint Shorts

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No longer a weather appropriate option, but these flint shorts were all I wanted to wear on holiday this summer.  I felt put together in the cities, sufficiently cool to belong in Italy and they were comfortable and practical too.  The fabric might be one of my favorite parts of these, and was a lucky charity shop find.  One to make again next summer.

Men’s Metro Tees

Another multi garment pick, but these t-shirts have been a big success.  I don’t make much for anyone other than me, but these were worth the effort because Matt wears them all the time.

Top 5 Misses

Valley Blouse

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This top is one of those projects that just doesn’t quite materialise as you envisioned it.  I quite like all the components- fabric, buttons etc., but the pattern wasn’t the right choice for me.  There is more volume in the sleeves than is really my preference (it makes it really hard to wear with a cardigan), but maybe I can modify them at some point to slim them down and make this more ‘me’.

Pocket Skirt

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My first problem with this skirt is that the sizing from the pattern chart seemed to be a little off, so this skirt was much to big at the waist.  I was able to bring it is with the elastic at the back waistband, but I’m still not really sure about the fit or the length.  It doesn’t really get worn, and I don’t think I will be using the pattern again because there are other patterns which were simpler to construct and more successful for me.

Alex Shirtdress

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I think the problem with this Alex dress is the fabric/pattern combination.  The cotton is a little too stiff, and doesn’t drape well enough for me to feel comfortable in this dress.  It is all just a little too oversized, and the fabric emphasised that.  This one it savable thought I think, when I eventually get around t putting some darts in the back to take out some of the extra volume.

Saunio Cardigan

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There is nothing ‘wrong’ with this Saunio Cardigan exactly, except that it never makes it off the coat rack and out of the door.  I think it is the fact that it just doesn’t quite fit my lifestyle.  3/4 sleeves on a jacket aren’t sufficiently practical on Dartmoor.  If I want or need a coat or jacket, it needs to have full sleeves!

Virginia Leggings

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Not actually a disaster of pattern, or of lifestyle, but unfortunately this lycra couldn’t really stand up to running in these Virginia leggings and so some of the seams have started to split.  I have some other fabric in mind to give this another go at some point though, so definitely not a wasted pattern.

 

Tiny heads and hands

As you may now know, we are preparing for a new addition to our household, and this has prompted some slightly different sewing.  The great news for me though is that sewing for babies is a great use for little scraps, like the bits left over from my recent toaster sweater.  I had just enough to make some tiny mittens and a matching hat!

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The hat is a self drafted template, with a simple cuff at the bottom.  There are loads of tutorials out there for baby hats, but none of them were going to fit into the tiny scraps that I had left so I had to create my own.  The cuff piece was 8cm high and a little smaller than twice the width of the hat template.

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All I had to do was cut two ‘hats’ and a cuff.  Sew the ‘hats’ together, right sight together.  Sew the short ends of the cuff together, right sides together and press it in half wrong sides together.  Then just match the raw edges of the hat and cuff together and sew round.  Done in just a few minutes!  Let me know if you would like a more detailed tutorial with pictures and I can definitely get one together.

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To make the mittens was also pretty simple.  I found this tutorial for drafting the pieces and just followed it through.

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I used a little bit of grey ribbing for the cuffs this time because it was a bit stretcher than my jersey.  I cut the lining from some soft grey t-shirt jersey (left over from these t-shirts) because there was literally nothing left of my French terry by this point!  They are all soft and cosy on the inside because all the seams are enclosed.

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Don’t they look cute just waiting for baby to pop them on.  I’m sure this is just the first of perhaps many baby related posts, but when things are so quick and take so little fabric, why wouldn’t you sew them something!

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Blossom Dress

Today I bring you another fabric test for Minerva Crafts.  If you have been reading my blog for the past couple of months you may have seen this fabric before in my hacked Anna top.  Well this is the main project that I used it for, a Sew Over It Blossom Dress.

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The full write up is over at here on the Minerva crafts blog, but I thought I would share some personal news with this post because the sewing social media followers among you might be thinking “but isn’t that a maternity pattern”.  Well it turns out we are expecting a new addition to our family sometime at the end of May next year. It has altered my sewing queue quite a bit to include some of the new maternity pattern releases from Sew Over It and Tilly and the Buttons, and a couple of hacks of other patterns which might be adapted for a growing belly.

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These pictures were taken a few weeks back when I was only just starting to get a bump, so the exaggerated dipped front hem is quite a bit long still.  I didn’t want to alter it though, because I’m hoping that this will be something I can wear right through until May, and perhaps alter it then to be less pronounced.

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Sparkly Sequinned Ogden!

I have never to my knowledge owned an entirely sequinned item of clothing, and I’ve always wondered!  A while ago I was offered the chance to test some sequin fabric, and while I didn’t in the end (you will get to see what I did test tomorrow), it planted the seed of an idea- a really simple top, but in sequins.

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With that in mind, I’ve been looking out for some suitable fabric and found some at fabricland.  I really liked the colour ‘cappuchino’ in their sequin blitz fabric, which is an all over random placement, rather than lines of sequins, which I thought might actually be easier to cut.  They actually had quite a good selection and it was pretty affordable, especially as I only needed 7ocm.

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There is lots of advice about cutting and sewing with sequinned fabrics online.  I found Lauren at Guthrie and Ghani’s blog post particularly helpful.  There are some really good top tips at the bottom of the page.  I decided to cut my fabric using my rotary cutter (and accept that I will need a new blade afterwards), and I did all the sewing with a size 80 sharps needle.  It seemed to work. I didn’t bother to strip the sequins out of the seam line, and the needle coped just fine.

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This top is an adaptation of the True Bias Ogden Cami which I have made a couple of times before (here and here).   I really like the elegant style of the Ogden, but one of my versions was a little tight across the bust, and as I was planning to use the same lining fabric as before which has no give to it, I decided to effectively grade up a size.  I could have just reprinted the pattern, but I thought it would be good practice.  I actually only added width to the front bodice anyway, and not a huge amount at that.  The biggest changes were lengthening the whole pattern, dipping the front hem a little, and slashing and spreading the front bodice to make a little extra space.  All of these changes do seem to have done the trick pretty well.  The top is definitely a little more roomy, but doesn’t seem ridiculously oversized. I’m pretty sure it will get me through the festive season no problem with plenty of room for the traditional big dinners!

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I did fully line this version because the back of the sequin fabric is a little scratchy.  I just cut an exact replica of the main pieces in lining fabric and constructed as per the instructions.  The straps I also cut from both the sequin fabric and the lining, and instead of folding each in half and stitching down one side, I just placed a sequin and a lining fabric together and stitched down both.  This means that even the straps are a little kinder to skin!

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I think these are some of the biggest changes I have ever made to a pattern without following a tutorial of some form, and I am really pleased with the way it has turned out.  It has kept the character of the Ogden, but adapted it for my body and needs.  I’m definitely going to start having to get more adventurous with the pattern hacking in future!

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Toaster Sweater number 2

Back in January I made my first Toaster Sweater for Project Sewmystyle.  We’ll I wasn’t really sure about any of the pattern options available from Named for December’s option, so I decided to go back to the beginning.  This time I have used the other version of the pattern which has a split hem instead of a hem band, and a slightly lower neckline.

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This Origami Cranes fabric has been waiting in my stash for a little while, so I cant remember where it is from.  It seems to be a cotton French terry or loopback jersey with maybe a little lycra in it because it does have a good stretch.  I only had 1m of fabric which required some slightly creative cutting, especially as I lengthened the body of the jumper by 10cm.  I had read in quite a few reviews that it comes up fairly short, and I wanted plenty of length to keep me warm.

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Due to my fabric restrictions, I had to cut the sleeve in three sections!  These were fairly arbitrarily decided to make the most of my fabric, though they are at least symmetrical!  There was no way I could attempt to pattern match with my limited fabric, so I just accepted the random nature of it all.  You can’t even really see the seam lines in these photos.

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This jumper comes together pretty simply, and the instructions and illustrations are really clear.  I particularly like the mitered corners on the hem.  They just look so smart! And with some careful twin needling, I was able to get around all the corners, even without being able to leave the needle down to turn.  Lauren at Guthrie and Ghani has some good tips for this if you are struggling.  I would love a version in Atelier Brunette French Terry like hers if I could justify the cost!

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The only place where I had a slight issue was the neckline facing.  It was flapping around a bit and I found it irritating, so I hand stitched it to the little loops in the back of the fabric to stop it moving around.  The stitching is still invisible from the outside, but it seems to have done the job nicely.  I also sewed in some ribbon to make identifying the front and back a little easier too.

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I’m sure it won’t be the last time that I use this pattern.  My jumper is so snuggly and soft.  Just perfect for throwing on with jeans at the weekend.

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