Rachel’s Archer

While I was at home of Christmas, my sister decided that it wasn’t fair that she hadn’t been to model on my blog yet, so we had to take some photos of her Christmas present from last year- one of my favourite patterns, and a real TNT for me, the Grainline Archer.

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I have made quite a few of these for myself now (3 of the regular version, and a popover), and still have fabric waiting to become another one.  I just love the fit- a bit oversized, but not too much.  You can wear it over t-shirts, but still fit it under a jumper.

Rachel is actually pretty similar to me in size.  She is may be a little smaller than me, but generally prefers her clothes a little less fitted, so I was pretty sure that making this to the same size that I wear for myself was probably going to fit and be on to a winner.  Does anyone else have that dilemma- you want to make something for someone, but want it to be a surprise and don’t know how to get hold of their measurements?  This year I think I’m going to have to take some sets of standard measurements for all the people in my life that I would like to surprise with handmade!

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I asked Rachel for her view on what it was like to receive something handmade.  I think as makers and sewists we are often too hard on ourselves, seeing all the flaws and pointing out all the tiny mistakes.  I wanted to know if that was how things were received too.  It turns out that we are almost certainly not appreciating ourselves, and the things we make as much as we should.

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Rachel said: “I  loved receiving my very own personal shirt made lovingly by my sister.  I’ve had several people comment on how much they like the shirt, and all astounded that it is homemade and was once not a shirt, but simply a piece of material!  (In fact it has started conversations about my sister’s sewing and has lead friends to be avid readers of the blog, always intrigued as to what the next item could be…)  I love the detail in the shirt, especially the pattern matching, and the pleat in the back.  Also it is a great material, chunky but not too thick, and doesn’t need ironing which is brilliant.  (Especially as a student with no ironing board!)”

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Perhaps we should just relax, enjoy, and realise that sewists and dressmakers are just pretty awesome!

 

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Seamwork Oslo test run

I have been planning a few basics lately that will serve me well both pregnant and afterwards with no alterations.  One of the patterns which caught my eye was the Seamwork Oslo, my first make from my make 9 list!  I really wanted to make a cosy version to layer up in and bought some jersey from Sew Over It with my birthday money, but then I panicked a little. The fabric was more expensive than I choose to spend, and I wanted it to be right, so I decided to make a trial run with something a little less precious.

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I chose this Navy and White striped jacquard from Minerva crafts to make a lighter and less expensive wearable toile.  The fabric is definitely not as weighty as my Sew Over It jersey, but at least I could give the pattern and the fit a test run without loosing too much sleep over it.  This is the result.

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Open, it feels a little bit too big everywhere.  I made a Small based on my measurements, and wanting to have space to grow, but I think I would be better off with the XS.  Even with the cuffs rolled back the sleeves are pretty long, though that does make it cosy for pulling over my hands!  It is a bit of a departure from my usual style so it is taking a bit of getting used to.  Most of my other cardigans are a bit more fitted, especially in the sleeves, so I think that I could make a few changes, slimming down the sleeves would make it work even better for me.

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I’m pretty pleased with my stripe matching, both at the side seams and at the collar.  Lots of pins are your friend when trying to get long sections of stripes to stay in place!

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I decided not to add the buttons because this knit is a bit too light to support them, but I did add a little hook and eye just under the bust line to give it a bit more shape, and I like it much better like that.  I have also been wearing it with a little broach to close it too.

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It also works really well with a belt for when I want it to stay properly closed and keep me cosy, so I think I will be wearing it like that a lot while the weather is cold!

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I’m still undecided whether to use this pattern to make my cardigan from my Sew Over It fabric.  I have another cardigan pattern to test from Wendy Wards new book “A beginners guide to sewing with knitted fabrics” so I might see if that pattern suits what I am looking for better before deciding.  Meanwhile, I am sat in this Oslo cardigan feeling warm and cosy, so it can’t be too bad!

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A final, and very important, thing for me to do today is announce my giveaway winner.  Congratulations to…

IMG_20180120_170059744Thanks to everyone who commented.  I’ve really been enjoying finding out what people would like to see here in the next year.

Maternity Agnes Tops

I am a massive fan of the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top (see some of my versions here and here)- it really is one of my wardrobe staples, so the recent release of a maternity version seemed perfect!  I still get to have all my lovely layering and basic tees, but with some extra space for a growing bump.

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There are a couple of variations included in the pattern, including a dress which I may make at some point soon.  To start with though I thought I would give the top versions a go.  They are a bit longer than the standard Agnes tee, and the sizing chart is different, so do double check which size to cut.  I am a size 3 in the regular Agnes, but a size 2 in this maternity version.  Some of the extra length is gathered at the side seams to create the fullness required for a bump.

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I made two versions, both with fabrics which have been waiting in my stash far too long for the right project to come around.  First up, I made a 3/4 sleeve top with side ties from a lovely Girl Charlee cotton jersey called Coral Peach Floral.  It doesn’t have the hugest amount of stretch, so I should perhaps have enlarged the sleeve width a little, but other than that I really like it.

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The little side ties are a slightly labour and time intensive addition because they are a nightmare to turn through, but there is definitely some extra belly room, and more than I need at the moment at 4 months so still room to grow.

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Next up, I used a cotton interlock from ebay in a wine colour.  For this one, I just wanted a really basic layering tee, so I left off the side ties and went for full length sleeves.  This one was super quick to put together, and I can see I am going to want more of these.  The interlock jersey is lovely too. A good amount of stretch, and super soft and snuggly.

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I think this pattern is going to be a staple in the next couple of months.  it is so quick to put together if you leave the ties off, and with the dress variation to try out as well, I think i’m going to have another TNT pattern to replace the regular Agnes.

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New year, new plans and a giveaway!

Last year, I began my blog with some new years plans. It’s been interesting to look back on them and my brand-new-never-read blog of last January! Last year I made two resolutions, firstly to try to follow project #sewmysyle, and secondly to blog weekly/fortnightly over the next year. So how did they go? Read on to the end for a one year on giveaway too.

Project #sewmystyle

I made 10 of the 12 projects over the year, and did finish all of them just about in time for the end of month reveal. The two I missed were the Hampshire trousers when I was really busy in October, and December’s Named clothing selection. Neither of these patterns seemed very pregnancy friendly which was part of what put me off, and life sometimes gets in the way! Some of the patterns have been huge successes, (I love both of my toaster sweaters and have just received some Atelier Brunette Dazzle for another one) and I did enjoy having new patterns and designers to try out. However, not all of the patterns worked for me, and 4 of the sewing projects that I made for project #sewmystyle ended up in my fails for the year. I think that some of the patterns just didn’t fit into my lifestyle, and I wasn’t always feeling brave enough to hack them so that they did. One of the more recent ones, the Anna dress I did hack though, and I love how it has turned out, so perhaps there is a lesson in that too.

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Blogging

This was such a venture into the unknown when I made this resolution. I had no idea how often I would want to take project photos, what I would write about or how it would work with the other commitments in my life. I have to say, I think it’s been a massive success! I have posted at least one blog post every week, and I’ve kept up with my self imposed Sunday posting schedule throughout deadlines, holidays and just busy life! I did manage a couple of mini series of midweek posts too, but found these harder to keep up with because they required a lot more planning in the writing and photography, and sadly some of the posts I had planned never got published.

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I have to say, a lot of it is down to having a very obliging photographer/husband, who has always been willing to go out for a quick walk at the weekend to get a few pictures, so big thanks to him! But I have also just enjoyed the creative process of writing, editing and sharing what I have been up to. The blog has grown in ways that I could never have predicted at the start of the year- I’ve written guest blogs for Minerva Crafts, tested patterns for Itch to Stitch and amazingly people have both followed and seem to enjoy what I have been up to! At the time of writing, the blog has had more than 2000 visitors this year, and nearly 5000 page views, so thank you everyone that has made me feel supported and part of this amazing sewing community! I appreciate every read, like and comment.

Resolutions 2018

Again life in the next year is going through a period of transition, and it’s hard to know how much time I will have to dedicate to sewing and blogging. My PGCE course is due to be completed in May almost completely coinciding with the due date of the bump. Who know how motherhood and baby will influence my sewing time, but I suspect it might need even better planning in the future. That said, I am setting myself some plans and targets for the year because then I can try to be ambitious in meeting them!

Sewing

Much as I enjoyed being part of project #sewmystyle last year, I’m not sure that it is the right direction for me this year. I think the projects might feel a little too constricting, especially if they aren’t going to fit me very well while I’m pregnant. I have signed up to the notification list though, so if something jumps out at me, I’m sure it will be added to my sewing queue. Instead, I’m going to be planning my projects a month or two in advance with a bit of wiggle room for extras to sneak in using notecards pinned to my sewing room pin board. Its a system which has worked well for me this year and I like the mixture of structure and freedom that it gives me. I’m going to be focussing on things which are practical and fit in with my lifestyle, and I’m sure a few baby projects will creep in too.

I am going to try to cut down on impulse fabric and pattern shopping by planning ahead. I know a lot of people used the ‘make 9’ to good effect last year so I think I might do something similar. I have a few patterns that I have chosen for the next couple of months which gives me 5 patterns that I have committed to, with 4 wildcards for buying new patterns this year. I’m going to try to keep it at that, with the only exceptions being if I buy a magazine with a pattern, undertake a pattern test or use some of my existing Seamwork credits on Seamwork or Colette Patterns.

The patterns I have chosen so far are:

Make 9

Rebecca Page Taylor Trench coat (inspired by Emma and her Machine), Sew Over It Lily Top, Seamwork Oslo Cardigan, a Paxton Sweater or two for Matt, and a Megan Nielson Amber top/dress.
Since drafting this post, I have used up one of my wildcards to buy two patterns for the baby. They are so small I am counting it as just one pattern, but I’m hopefully going to be making some cute Brindle and Twig Cuff Leggings and Raglan Tee’s!

I’m still going to be involved in guest blogging for Minerva Crafts (the next one is an exciting test of a new pre-publication copy of Wendy Ward’s latest book Sewing with knitted fabrics) and I hope to join in with other events and sewing community collaborations as they come along.

Blogging

I am going to keep to the same blogging schedule next year, committing to a post every Sunday, and occasional extras or other series during the week. I’m excited to keep seeing the blog grow so I would love you to keep sharing it with anyone you think might be interested in my ramblings, or feel free to follow me on Instagram and Facebook too.

My 1 year giveaway

It is just over 1 year since I published my first ever blog post and I wanted to celebrate with a giveaway! I have 2m of a lovely Girl Charlee Haccai Knit to give away. It is the same knit that I used recently in my Elmira cardigan and is a beautiful cream with little flecks of colour in it. I also have a few surprise extra goodies to give away including a couple of patterns (blame those lovely post Christmas sales)! All you have to do to be in with a chance to win is to comment with something you would like to see on the blog in the next year. It could be a type of garment post, a change of style, how to, or anything else you can think of. New year is all about new inspiration. I will announce the winner on Sunday 21st Feb, so the deadline is 8pm Friday 19th GMT. All entries have a chance to win, and I will do a random draw to decide the winner.

Good luck, and have a brilliant sewing year!