Taylor Trench- still a bit further to go!

I was hoping that by now my coat would be finished and ready to share, but I think it is good to be realistic and honest about how life and sewing don’t always neatly combine! If you looked at the blogs and Instagram accounts, you could be forgiven for thinking that everyone manages to make something new each week and for every special occasion, birthday present and new baby that they encounter. I know however, that that is not the reality, certainly not in my experience, so I think it is good to share the slower sewing, lack of progress, process orientated thinking too.

So what have I been up to in the last couple of weeks? My sewing time has taken a bit of a back seat for the last two weeks as I have been juggling going back to work with my life as a mum. It takes a lot more planning and organisation to get myself out ready for work, and Toby to nursery or to his Grans, so my evenings have consisted of a lot more packing lunches, bags of spare clothes and less sewing! By the time it is all done I don’t always have the energy for sewing.

I have managed to make some progress though, and it is still so satisfying seeing this coat come together. Each stage feels like a milestone and sitting down to sew even for a short time is so relaxing, especially when time to myself and for my hobbies has been in much shorter supply.

The outer shell of the coat is pretty much complete. It still needs buttons and buttonholes once the lining is in, but I can get a good feel for how it is going to look now. The hood also needs constructing separately, but that might be the last job I do because the hood is detachable so I can wear my coat without it until it is finished!

The lining is well underway now too. It does take quite a while sewing and preparing the quilted sections because they can’t really be pressed very well (the insulation melts), and I have been carefully clipping the insulation away from the seam allowances too to reduce bulk. I still need to sew and set in the sleeves, but once that is done, I will be ready to join the outer and the lining.

Hopefully this gives a better insight into the realities of sewing progress. It’s not always plain sailing and finished projects, but I will be all the more proud of my coat when it is complete for the time, energy and perseverance that it took.

Advertisements

Taylor Trench progress report 3- halfway there?

It feels so good to have made progress with a more complex project! I have made a lot of pretty easy knit garments in the last year or so and very few woven ones. I even found the cutting out each piece on a single layer strangely satisfying, when usually cutting out is something to be avoided.

I’ve made some good progress on the construction now. My first welt pockets since making Matt a waistcoat about two years ago are looking pretty good.

Some of the standalone pieces are complete too like the belt. This still needs some extra eyelets installing to give me the holes to tighten through, but I want to check where they need to go before I commit.

I have been taking my time with this. It’s actually quite easy to press and very well behaved to sew. I’m using a new needle, but otherwise no other special preparations. I’ve ended up with a double row of top stitching on my shoulder and sleeve tabs which I’m calling a ‘design choice’ because I got the seam allowance muddled and didn’t want to unpick as this fabric does leave holes where is was stitched. I decided instead to just stitch a second row instead.

I decided to baste the darts into the lining before stitching them. My lining is pretty bulky with the thinsulate. They still haven’t stitched perfectly, but I’m hoping that it is good enough.

I’ve reached about the halfway point I think now. The outer of my coat is pretty much complete and looking good. Now its all about the lining and finishing touches. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

Memory Blanket

Do you have clothes that you keep, not because you intend to wear them but because they have memories attached? Last Christmas I turned some of my brother’s military t-shirts into a cushion for him so that he could enjoy them without having a stack of unworn things to drag around. This year, my sister asked for something similar for her birthday, and presented me with a while stack of her event t-shirts to create something from!

I have to admit, the scariest part of this whole project was starting the cutting out! Unlike most dressmaking projects, if I made a mistake, the fabric could not be recut or replaced with something else because each t-shirt had it’s own sentimental reason for being included. For that reason, I did spend a while procrastinating and sketching out a couple of options for laying out the blanket top. It was quite dependant on the dimensions of the various logos and I definitely measured and re-measured them several times before I made any final decisions.

Once the cutting was committed to, this actually went together fairly quickly. I enjoyed arranging the pieces to make a pleasing arrangement of colours across the spread, then set about attaching them together in rows on the overlocker.

Once all the rows were constricted and attached together, I backed them all with a fleece blanket to make it all snuggly. It definitely helps with the weight and drape of the whole thing too as the t-shirts were all different weights and some were quite light. I decided that it was easiest to attach the two wrong sides together, then turn the whole thing through a hole. I then hand stitched the hole closed and topstitched all around the edge to help it sit properly.

I didn’t want to worry about actually quilting the two layers together and I’m fairly sure that the blanket will wash and soften naturally over time anyway. It is definitely more fun to look at than the stack of t-shirts!

Taylor Trench progress report 2- the toile

I think one of the reasons that I didn’t get any further than choosing and preparing my fabric for my Taylor Trench last year, is that I was a bit scared about cutting into my fabric. Some of that fear came from worries about the actual sewing, but I think more of it came from choosing the ‘wrong’ size and not ending up happy with the finished fit.

This time though I was determined not to have any reasons for putting this coat off, so I decided that the solution was to sew a quick toile of the outer coat from some cheaper fabric. In my stash I do keep things like old bedsheets and duvet covers just for this purpose, so I had no excuse not to give it a try.

When sewing my toile I went for a size L because I want to be able to fit jumpers underneath, and my quilted lining will also take up a bit of extra room. It did mean that even with my toile I needed to use a bit of judgement about how the actual coat will fit because it is going to feel a bit snugger. I’m happy with my decision though and now there is no more procrastinating allowed!

In fact, to make sure that I didn’t let the fear get to me again, I have cut out the fabric for my actual coat now. There is a sew-along starting tomorrow and I’m hoping to use it to give me some extra confidence and purpose, even if I don’t manage to stick completely to the schedule.

At last, an Oslo!

This cardigan has been at least a year in the making! When I made my trial run in January last year, I already had bought this fabric with a second in mind. Now it has finally made it to the top of my sewing queue.

This fabric was from Sew Over It, but it has long since sold out. It’s a little unusual because it appears to be a lightweight knit bonded to a mesh backing. It was a bit of a pain to cut out, so I wasn’t sure that I would manage to pattern match properly across the seam between the neckband and the front of the cardigan so I decided to remove the worry and cut the neckband and the cuffs on the cross-grain instead. I like the contrast of changing the pattern direction, and it works in this pattern because it is fairly loose fitting so it doesn’t matter that I have slightly changed the stretch characteristics.

When I cut the cuffs, I also made them half as tall as in the pattern. I always wear them folded back on my other Oslo because they are very long. I decided this time it would be simpler if I just shortened them to save me from having to keep adjusting them. Though it’s not perfect, the pattern matching at the side seams is pretty acceptable.

One of the great things about Seamwork patterns is they are generally quite straightforward and quick to sew, but the downside of this is that they sometimes don’t have the neatest of finishes. The Oslo instructions have you hem the main body of the cardigan, then attach the front band, which makes it tricky to get it all aligned neatly at the hems. This time I borrowed a technique from my Kinder cardigan, which has the band sandwiched into the hem, and the hem stitched last. It does look really neat now on the inside.

I like to be able to close my cardigans, but I wasn’t sure about putting a buttonhole in this knit without it stretching out. Instead, I sewed a decorative button over the top of a metal popper. There is another small popper at the other side of the neckband, and I really like the way that the collar folds into the closure.

I don’t think this will be my last Oslo cardigan. When I made it before, I wasn’t sure about the loose fit, but a year on I’ve become much more used to that silhouette and it doesn’t bother me any more. Even in this snow I was lovely and cosy with this Oslo cardigan all closed up.

I do have another loose woven knit which might make a lovely summery version if it ever makes it to the top of the list! As it is, I’m happy with another project from my make 9 completed, and another stash fabric fulfilling its purpose.

Basics- boring or beautiful?

I know some people who love to sew, but hate to make basics. They are always constructing something complicated or special occasion. Most of my sewing isn’t like that at all. In the last year I think I have made more plain knit t-shirts for myself or Matt than anything else. Why? Because I love being able to wear the things I make everyday, so that means I need to make everyday things.

My first make of this new year is from my make 9 planning. I have made two pairs of Virginia leggings. These are not my first pairs of Virginia leggings, but they are my first which were sewn to be worn everyday. Last time I made a straight size XS, but this time I graded out at the waist to a size S.

I think my fabric choices this time have been much more successful. These are both jerseys from Girl Charlee. This black is another colour of my favorite solid cotton spandex. It has plenty of stretch and is opaque enough that it works beautifully. This pair have the 1″ elastic as instructed, and I also stitched through the elastic to stop it from moving or twisting.

The second pair are sewn in the softest double brushed polyester spandex. It is just so lovely to stroke! I also really like the space dyed texture. It’s a bit less harsh than a solid colour so I think it will be really practical to wear.

I also used 1.5″ elastic in the waistband by reducing the seam allowance. It’s a bit of a tighter fit into the waistband, so I don’t think it is going to need the topstitching to stop it twisting, but I can always add it later.

I’m so glad that I get to wear things that I have made for myself everyday. It just makes getting dressed a joy.

Ultimate Trousers- not quite for me

I’ve decided to go back in time for a post today because I am working on a big project which I can’t share at the moment. These Ultimate Trousers were my very first pair of more structured and fitted trousers. Like my Carrie Trousers they were made supported by the Sew Over It online course ‘Ultimate guide to sewing and fitting trousers‘.

These are a bit of a style departure for me, but were a great confidence building exercise. I think I needed to make a pair to help me realise that trousers are just a series of seams and instructions like any other pattern, and nothing to be afraid of. It did definitely help though having the course to hold my hand through the process of sewing and fitting them though. I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to get started on my own!

The fabric is a khaki stretch twill from myfabrics.co.uk which I think is quite similar to this one which they have in lots of colours. With the spandex content it does recover very well, but it was still very easy to work with.

Unfortunately, while these were only really intended to be a wearable toile, they don’t actually get much wear. Not only is the colour not really one that I have in my wardrobe, the style feels a bit odd on me too. I’m not used to wearing trousers with a side zip, and tend to prefer a front fly. They are also a slightly cropped ankle length, which is also not usually my style.

Looking at them more objectively, I do actually like the way that they look so perhaps I should be giving them a second chance. They do have a fairly deep double fold hem, so I am wondering if I can let them down enough to be full length and a bit more wearable. If nothing else, they served the purpose of giving me the confidence to tackle other trouser projects afterwards such as the Ginger Jeans, so I’m not too sad that these weren’t perfect for me.

Organising my fabric and patterns- digital edition!

Some time ago I wrote about how I organise and store my patterns and I thought it was time for an update. My physical storage of patterns hasn’t changed much. They still tend to be kept in plastic wallets, but I sometimes find that I am tempted by buying new patterns before really looking thought what I already have to see if there is something similar. I’m hoping that my new organisation will help put that tendency behind me!

Over the last few weeks I have been cataloguing my patterns digitally using Trello. Trello is a free app, and one of it’s big advantages is that is syncs between phone and computer. It has been a pretty mammoth effort to get most of my patterns on there, but it is nearly done, and I already love it!

That means I can input my patterns onto the computer using the bigger screen, but have all the information with me when I’m out and about. It also lets you add attachments, details and links to each entry so I even have all the correct information with me if I happen so stumble across fabric or notions for a project.

I am also aiming to sew from my stash fabrics as much as possible again this year, so I also decided to catalogue my fabrics in Trello. Now I can search through my fabric for things of a suitable weight, length or colour family without having to pull each piece of fabric out or unfold it to check I have enough. I’m hoping that it will make it easier to check if I have something suitable, before I resort to buying something new. I still have quite a bit further to go with this part, but I’ve resolved to catalogue one of my fabric boxes each week until it is done, and I recently had a clear out too of fabrics that I no longer love so my stash is definitely getting more focussed.

If you would like some more practical advice on actually setting something like this up, I used a tutorial by Helen of Helen’s Closet to get me started. It was really useful for deciding how to group fabric and patterns, and practically to start to see the scope of what is possible. I love that I can attach the cards for fabric to the pattern that I intend to use it for. No more buying fabric then having no idea why!

It was quite a commitment of data entry to get all my fabric and patterns listed, but it should be much easier now to look through and find what I want. I can check the fabric requirements for a pattern while I am out and about, or check to see if there is already a similar pattern or fabric before I buy something new.

Now it is started, it will be much easier to maintain as I go along too. I can archive fabrics as they are used, or change the dimensions that remain in my stash. There is something so satisfying about organisation for a new year!

Winter Moss

Isn’t this just a stunning view? We recently went for a walk around some local reservoirs and all the way around the walk the scenery was beautiful. It seemed like a great opportunity to take some pictures of what was actually my Christmas morning skirt and the culmination of quite a bit of planning.

This is the Grainline moss skirt. I’m so happy with the skirt because it is the final part of an outfit that I’ve had in mind most of the Autumn.  I saw this stunning floral corduroy on Fabric Godmother, and immediately thought that it would pair beautifully with one of my nursing hack Agnes tops and my creamy Archer Shirt.

I made a Moss before a couple of years ago which I still wear all the time so I felt pretty confident that I would be able to follow the construction again.  This time I lengthened the skirt by combining the front and back pattern pieces with the piece for the hem band. It meant that I could enjoy the longer length without breaking up the pattern in the fabric.

I tried it on before hemming, and decided to take a deeper hem, which I think looks good on this kind of skirt anyway. It now sits just above the knee which is a good length for wearing with tights or leggings. I did compare the length to my previous one and I think it is about 3.5 inches longer than the standard shorter length.

I was a little surprised how much I had forgotten about installing a front fly zip, but I did figure it out and I’m pleased with the result. I am planning on making another pair of jeans later this year so I’m counting it as good practice.

I do love the deep pockets in this pattern, and its fun seeing the little bit of contrast lining when I pop my hands in them. This skirt feels a bit bigger than my previous one because the corduroy has quite a bit of stretch. Hopefully it won’t feel too big as time passes.

New year, new plans

I love the new year for having a chance to reflect on where you have come from, and where you hope to get to. Last year I set myself some sewing and blogging related goals so I thought I would see how I measured up.

Sewing

I created myself a make 9 list last January, though it actually started with just 5 patterns on it and room for some wildcard pattern additions. This did really work for me because it gave me room to review during the year and adapt my planning as I went along. By the end of the year, I did have 9 patterns on my list and I completed 8 of them.

The only one which went unfinished was my Taylor Trench (top left) which was definitely the most ambitious project, and while I did lots of the prep work sourcing fabric and notions, I knew long before the end of the year that it wasn’t going to get finished (or even cut out)! I am planning on adding it to my plans for this year, and I think Rebecca Page will be hosting a sew-along so hopefully that will help me to get going on it.

The other patterns were all pretty successful. Continuing clockwise we have- Brindle and Twig baby clothes, Sew Over It Lily, Poppy and Jazz Dandelion Dungarees, Megan Nielson Amber, Grainline Archer, Seamwork Paxton, Sew Over It Penny and a Seamwork Oslo. I like that they represent a range of pattern companies and levels of complexity so I’m aiming for a similar balance again this year.

I also made plans to reduce my sewing consumption. I think it is very tempting to buy more fabric and patterns than are likely to get made, especially as my sewing time has reduced over the last year. I think I did manage to keep both in check, though I definitely bought more in the second part of the year than the first. I think in total I only bought 6 patterns, most of which were for baby clothes and the Penny dress. I think it proves that they were more carefully selected patterns because 4 have already been made up, and I am definitely planning on using the others shortly.

Blogging

My aim was to keep to a similar blogging schedule, posting every Sunday with occasional extras in between. This was pretty successful too, though there was a month or so when Toby was very tiny that I had a break. I have the same asperation this year, and already have a few blog posts in the bank part written so hopefully I will get a bit ahead! Thank you to all my lovely readers who have made it such a fun and worthwhile year.

2019 Plans- Make 9

I have a new make 9 planned out, though there might be a bit of change throughout the year again. Provisionally it looks like this….

First up is that Taylor Trench. I want to get is cut out asap so that I don’t have any more excuses to procrastinate.

Next is the Grainline Alder. I’ve made lots or Archers, and wanted to branch out so I had the Alder printed by Sprout patterns before they stopped trading. It seemed like a great way to save myself some time in the cutting out phase, and I’m hoping to be able to wear it with leggings and a t-shirt underneath, and on it’s own in the summer.

It only seems fair to make Matt something. I’ve made him lots of Metro tees in the last few years so I want to try out something new. This is the Eugene Henley from Seamwork and should be a fun quicker project to break up the more complex ones.

This first Seamwork Oslo was always intended to be a wearable muslin, but I never got to making any more. I want at least one more in my wardrobe and have some grey and black jersey ready to go.

A couple of years ago I made some Virginia Leggings, but they weren’t too successful. I have some grey and black jerseys ready to make some basic everyday pairs.

I made some Ginger jeans a couple of years ago, but they don’t fit my post baby body. I have some red stretch corduroy to make a new wearable muslin, and if it works out well I would like to make some in blue denim too.

I was given this gorgeous book– the fox the bear and the bunny for Christmas. It has some lovely playful clothes inside and I would like to make Toby a coat- possibly the bunny one before he is too old to object!

One of the patterns I bought last year was the Honeydew Hoodie. I haven’t got to make it yet, so I’m making it a priority this year. It should be another quicker make, and is super cute.

Finally, I’ve left myself a wildcard again to let me choose something during the year that takes my fancy. I’m sure there will be other projects too. I would really like to wear some jersey dresses again so it might have to be another amber dress if it’s while I’m still breastfeeding. I have suitable fabrics in my stash for lots of these, so I’m hoping to use those first before buying anything new.