Taylor Trench Progress Report 1

As part of my sewing plans for the year I have divided up some of the steps involved in sewing up my Taylor Trench.  In the last post I included all my materials and planning.  I have everything that I need ready now, and have started some of the pre-prep work for the coat.  I have spread the tasks for this coat across the next few months.  I don’t want to overload myself, or end up rushing it so I’m planning to have all the final touches complete in time for autumn.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t fit my planned size very well at the moment anyway!

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The first steps have been relatively simple, but also a little time consuming.  I have pre-washed and shrunk my lining fabric, and as I explained before I wanted to make this coat a little warmer by quilting the lining to some thinsulate, much like Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani did with her Kelly anorak.   I don’t need all the pieces of lining to be insulated, so I tried to work out how much quilting I needed to do by laying out the pattern pieces that I did need on the fabric and measuring along.

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Quilting the two fabrics together is a very slow process!  I decided on a 1.5 inch diamond grid pattern, and used a walking foot and guide to try to keep it even.  I found that the layers ‘stick together’ pretty well by themselves because the backing of the thinsulate is almost like cotton wool.  I did use some extra pins and safety pins to keep them from moving about during sewing, though I didn’t need loads.  It was pretty tricky manipulating such a large piece of fabric on my domestic machine and sewing table.  I think next time I would be tempted to send it in to my local quilting shop and get them to do it for me.

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I looked at a few different thread colour options for the quilting, but in the end I settled on simple white.  Pragmatically, I already have a massive reel of white cotton, so I was ready to go, but I also didn’t want the quilting to detract from the print in the fabric.

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It took absolutely ages to get the fabric all quilted and prepped.  I was expecting it to be slow, but I do think it will be totally worth it in the end.  The quilting is definitely not perfect, but I doubt anyone would ever notice.  I did invest in a better walking foot partway through which helped enormously.  I had been using a cheap unbranded one, but the actual Brother foot and guide was just so much better at drawing the fabric through evenly.

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Next steps are to cut all the pieces from both my lining and my outer fabric, which will be another time consuming part because there are quite a few pieces.  I’m really looking forward to actually getting to the sewing though now!

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Wendy Ward book review and the Kinder Cardigan

This weeks blog post comes to you a day early as it is part of a collaboration.  I was given the chance to review and make something from Wendy Ward’s new book in coordination with Minerva Crafts.  As part of their book tour, lots of lucky sewing fans were given a chance to test out the patterns in the book with some of their fabrics.  I chose to make the Kinder cardigan in some great quality ponte in a muted ‘Denim Blue’.

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The book has loads of options for modifying the included patterns, and lots of good advice and technique.  I particularly liked how well drafted the patterns are, and how the construction process is really thought through to give a neat and professional finish.

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My full review is on the Minerva Crafts blog here, so check it out, and the reviews and makes by some of the other very talented bloggers.

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These Photos were taken quite a while ago, and I have got quite a bit bigger since then, but this cardigan is still going strong in my maternity wardrobe.  Versatility is always a winner.

 

 

 

Baby pattern hacking

A little while ago I shared a couple of Brindle and Twig patterns that I had been making up multiples of- the cuff leggings and raglan tee. This time I’ve been using a free release from Brindle and Twig- the ringer tee, but I had a few thoughts on making it more practical for dressing wiggly babies!

The basic ringer tee is already a great pattern. Some pattern companies release free patterns so that you can get to look at their instructions and drafting and decide if you like them enough to work with in their paid patterns. This is a well drafted basic tee in lots of sizes (it goes from 0-3m to 6 years) so another pattern that I should get lots of use out of. With that in mind, I had the pattern printed in colour to make it easier to see the different sizing lines, and just traced off the size that I needed.

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I went with the 0-3m size again, but one of my concerns before with the raglan tee’s was whether the neckbands would be easy to get over baby’s head. I’ve heard that babies sometimes don’t like things being put on over their head and I wondered if I could hack the pattern to make it easier. I have seen quite a few baby t-shirts and jumpers with snaps at the shoulder to make the neckline bigger while putting them on and off and it looked like a simple fix.

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This hack was actually really easy to do. I just extended the neckband, and the front and back shoulder on one side so that I had a bit extra for folding over. It makes putting the neckband in particularly easy because you only sew up one shoulder seam, then put the neckband in flat. Press the excess over on the open shoulder, and pin together at the right position while the sleeve is inserted, then just add snaps. If people are interested I can put together a proper photo tutorial of how to modify the pattern pieces and sewing process.

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I used my vario pliers and some prym colour snaps to co-ordinate with the jersey. I’m not sure how robust these will be as I don’t know if I interfaced the snap section enough to stop the jersey from stretching out and releasing the snaps. I think on the next version I will use jersey snaps instead which should be more robust. I’m pleased with this as a test run though. It looks super cute, and extra practicality. Now I just need the baby to arrive to test it out!

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The joy of Tried and True

Sometimes sewing is about the flashy new patterns or beautiful fabric. Sometime thought it is just about basics that you feel comfortable and yourself in. That is what this post is- filling the gaps in my current wardrobe (which seems to stop fitting me every couple of weeks at the moment) with things that I need.

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Both of these patterns have appeared on the blog before several times. I do love sewing up those tried and true patterns though, that you can cut in batches, knowing that the sizing will be right, and can sew with barely a glance at the instructions.

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These particular TNT’s are the Tilly and the Buttons Maternity Agnes (which I made a couple of t-shirts of at around Christmas, and a dress version more recently), and the Megan Nielson Amber which has featured recently as both a top and a dress too (worn here with my Oslo cardigan).

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Both of these are made in my favorite t-shirt wright jersey too- Girl Charlee’s solid cotton spandex. It has great recovery, sews up beautifully, washes well and comes in loads of colours. I don’t think I will go back to using anything else for my plain t-shirts.

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So I think this really is the perfect recipe- patterns which I know the fit and the drafting, and fabric which behaves just as you expect. Perhaps not the most exciting or revelatory discovery, but I have found lately with my self imposed fabric and pattern buying ban that I am having to return to and rediscover things which before I might have overlooked in favour of the new and sparkly. Sometimes what you really need has been sat there in front of you all along!

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Acacia Undies

Another scrapbusting project this week- underwear! This is the free Acacia underwear pattern from Megan Nielson which you can get if you subscribe to their newsletter. I spent a few days rummaging through all my jersey fabric scraps to see what I could come up with to make a couple of pairs, then set up a production line to start sewing!

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The pattern is particularly planned for people trying to cut these out from scraps by having all the pattern pieces cut on the flat rather than on the fold, which does make it easier to see what you can squeeze in to your funny shaped fabric pieces. I decided to go for the size M because its been a bit tricky working out which size to cut when your waist is clearly not in proportion with your hips. I was hoping that it would give me enough space to be comfortable, but with the option of sewing the elastic a little tighter if they ended up too big.

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I bought a few different types of elastic on eBay because the instructions give instructions for fold-over elastic, flat elastic and decorative picot elastic. I just chose a couple of colours which I liked and thought would co-ordinate with some of the fabrics in my stash.  Deciding how to mix and match has been fun!

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This green pair is the first one that I made up, and I added the elastic on the sewing machine.  It looks ok, but for some of the other pairs I did the first pass with the elastic on the overlocker so that I didn’t end up with raw fabric edges.  Jersey doesn’t fray, but I just thought that it looked neater.

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The pattern does come together very easily. If you have ever used the ‘burrito method’ to enclose the seams on a shirt yoke, the method used to attach the internal and external gusset hiding the seams on the inside is very similar. It is all very clearly explained though, so even if you haven’t come across it before you shouldn’t have any issues.  And if you prefer photographs to the illustrations in the pattern booklet, there is even a full set of instructions on the Megan Nielson Blog.

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I did use all the different elastic finishes, and I think the fold-over elastic is quickest because it is applied in one pass, rather than two.  I do really like the look of the picot edge though.  I definitely got better at applying the elastic as I went on.  It is just a bit fiddly at first stretching the elastic to fit the seam as you sew.

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I’m not going to be modelling these for you, because that seems a little weird, but good news is that they are comfortable, fit pretty well and are effectively totally free underwear if you use scraps that would be too small for any other sewing!

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Best part is, they are also really quick to cut and sew, so when you are lacking a little in inspiration, and just need to sew something, this is a good pattern to pull out of the bag.  Everyone always needs pretty underwear!

Part year review

I figured that we are a good chunk through the year now, and it would be a useful exercise to see how I was getting on with my resolutions for the year, while I still have time to get back on track if it was all going awry. Amazingly, sewing-wise it seems to be going pretty well so far and I’m feeling fairly on track to achieve the things I was hoping to, despite feeling like a whale at the moment and waiting for baby to arrive! This is what my make nine plans looked like at the start of the year:

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Since then I have decided on, a couple of my wildcard patterns, and have also made up quite a few of these patterns too, some of them several times.

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So far I have completed my Lily Top, Oslo Cardigan, a Paxton Sweater for Matt, two Amber Tops and a Dress version, Brindle and Twig baby clothes, and have begun the planning and sewing for my Taylor Trench Coat. I’ve also chosen the Sew Over It Penny Dress to hack into a nursing dress with another of my wildcards. I’m thinking of buying the Thread Theory Jedediah Pants pattern for Matt to make some shorts this summer.

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Another of my plans was to be less impulsive with buying new fabric and patterns, and to use more of what is already in my stash. So far it has been a roaring success! I’ve not bought any new fabric so far this year except for my Trench Coat project, despite being very tempted at a couple of moments by various sales! It means that all the projects that I have been working on so far this year have come from stash fabrics, some of which I had forgotten even existed. I will need to buy some fabric soon for the Penny dress because I don’t have anything suitable stashed away, but I think I’ve done amazingly well to come so far without a single impulse fabric purchase.

Pattern-wise, my only purchases have been the Penny Dress, the Brindle and Twig Patterns, and I did get Tilly and the Button’s new book Stretch when I recently subscribed to Love Sewing again. Again, pretty restrained so far! Turns out I have quite a few patterns in my stash which can be hacked or modified to make some lovely and enjoyable sewing.

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So in terms of what I still have to do this year, it seems to be going ok! 5 of 9 of my make nine completed, one in progress, and another at the planning stage. Still two choices to make, but I’m starting to narrow down what they will be. Fabric and pattern buying under control, and I’m thinking I should do some more sorting out of my stash to give away some of the things which will never see the light of day otherwise. There are definitely some pieces which just don’t inspire me anymore, but might be just the thing for someone else. I would like to narrow down my stash so that it contains just fabric that I can’t wait to sew.

Mini mix-and match!

Early in the year I was inspired by Tilly from Tilly and the buttons and the cute little outfits that she had made for her new baby boy.  It inspired me enough to buy the Raglan Tee and Cuff Leggings from Brindle and Twig, so that I could have a go at making something for my bump to wear when they arrived too!  Given my self imposed pattern buying limit of 4 for the year, it did seem very selfless to be using it for someone other than myself (though I did decide that these patterns were so small that they counted as one outfit, instead of two separate patterns), and this is another of my make nine successfully completed.

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One of the things that drew me to these two patterns was that they both have amazing sizing scales.  Both go from newborn up to 6 years, so these are patterns that I will be able to use for years to come.  With that in mind, I had them printed in colour to make seeing all the different size lines easier, and then traced off the size 0-3m separately.  I generally use pattern paper from Amazon (like this), but I was pretty much out, so these got squeezed onto whatever I had lying around.

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It was really fun rummaging through my knit fabric scraps for different colour and pattern combinations, and seeing what I could squeeze out of various pieces of fabric.  The short sleeve piece, and the legging cuff are both great for little scraps too small to do anything else productive with.  I’ve used a few Girl Charlee cotton spandex plains to co-ordinate, though some of those pieces were scraps too.

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I still don’t know if we are expecting a boy or a girl, so I wanted to keep most things pretty gender neutral, and I really liked the idea of clothing that is able to mix and match so that when some of the outfit inevitably needs changing, I can just stick on any of the other pieces and it won’t look odd.

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I figured that by sticking to a fairly simple colour palate for each size range that I sew up then I should be ok there, so in the 0-3m I’m going for navy, blue and white.  I was inspired by Skirtfixation and the amazing co-ordinated child capsule wardrobes that she has put together using scraps too.

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That said, I did have a couple of more girly fabric pieces which were just big enough for these patterns, so I thought I would run with it anyway.  I have a couple of friends that are expecting in the next couple of months too, so perhaps this set will make a good gift when one of their little ones arrives.

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Sewing-wise, these patterns are brilliantly simple, especially when they can be whizzed together on the overlocker.  Some parts, like putting the cuffs on the leggings are a little fiddly, but that is only because they are so tiny!

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I do like playing with mixing and matching all the different combinations.  They look very cute!

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My only slight concern is that the neckband might be a little bit tight or small, but if that does prove to be a problem then I can just cut the current one off and install a slightly longer one.

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I haven’t been able to test any of these out yet for practicality in the real world, with an actual wiggling baby, but they are super cute so I’m hoping that they will get lots of use one little one arrives.

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Amber Dress

When I made my previous Amber Top for my holidays, I knew that I was going to want to make the dress version too at some point.  This dress was definitely also what I had I’m mind when I added this pattern to my make 9 list in January, so it feels good to have the plans coming together.

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This fabric was always intended to be a dress, though it has sadly sat in my stash for about two years waiting for something to happen!  I bought it with a Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Dress Hack in mind and I was also clearly inspired by Tilly in the fabric choice too.  Like hers, my fabric is from MyFabrics, and I have always liked how they send fabrics out labelled with a sticker which has all the fabric details on, including length, composition and washing instructions.  They don’t have this fabric any more, but they do have some other similar nautical designs which are really fun.

 

So back to the dress that I did actually make.  I found it much easier to put all the pleats and pieces together than when I made the t-shirt version, and I made sure to baste together some of the key seams with lots to line up so that nothing could get unintentionally caught in the overlocker this time!  The modesty panel is just plain navy cotton spandex from Girl Charlee because I thought it might be a bit much to have the print there as well, and now it just looks like a little vest top underneath.  I think it would be really cute sometime to make a dress or top with a little lace trim along the top edge of that panel too.

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One of my only issues with this dress is that the front waistband does get stretched quite a bit at the moment, now that the bump is getting bigger, and sometimes that does cause the white backing of the printed fabric to show through.  Probably most people wouldn’t notice, but it does annoy me enough to have to rearrange it slightly when I notice it!

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The only change I made from the pattern was to shorten the dress 10cm at the hem once it was finished.  I very rarely wear any dress length other than above the knee so I just knew I was going to be more comfortable with it a bit shorter.

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This dress is going to get lots of wear in the next couple of months I’m sure.  It looks great now with leggings and boots, and I know I’ll be able to wear is as the weather (hopefully) warms up too.  It should be a practical and comfortable post-bump option too.  I’m not sure how the front of the dress will hang without the bump, and I guess I might have to re-hem if the length isn’t quite right any more, but that is easy enough to do.

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It’s not often that Matt and I manage to get a picture of us together, so I thought I’d leave you with one just for fun.  A picture of our ‘growing’ family before it all changes in May!

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Bodycon Agnes Dress

I’ve usually been a bit more of a fit and flare girl, but I have been craving some clothes that I can just throw on, and it is already an outfit ready to go.  My maternity Agnes tops have been pretty successful over the last couple of months (especially the long sleeved layering one in all this cold weather) so I thought I would give the dress version of the pattern a go.

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This is another fabric which had been in my stash for around a year.  It is a Ponte Roma which I bought from The Textile Centre on EBay.  It was a very reasonable £3.99/m, but I think when I bought it I expected the scale of the abstract print to be a little smaller, and wasn’t sure how to use it when it arrived.  It has found a good home in this dress though, because there are so few pattern pieces to break up the print, and I have made zero attempt to pattern match at the side seams.

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It might not be immediately obvious from these pictures, but I went for short sleeves for this version, but I’m wearing another long sleeve underneath for warmth,  Is anyone else finding that the snow is wreaking havoc with photo taking opportunities?  These were taken in the recently opened café 360 in Bovey Tracey, who don’t mind you turning up in all your waterproofs and wellies after a stomp through the snow!

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While this might be a slight style departure for me, I am enjoying it while I’m pregnant.  I’m not sure that it is going to be a look that I stick with afterwards, but for now it’s quite nice to wear something comfortable but form fitting, so that it is obvious that I have a baby bump, and haven’t just put on lots of weight!  I did sew this with a smaller seam allowance than usual for the side seams because there is a bit less stretch in this Ponte than in some of the jerseys I have use before, and I didn’t want it to feel too restrictive, especially as I still have some more growing to do.

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The only other modification that I made was to remove 15cm from the hem to bring it for below the knee to mid thigh.  Its now a great length for wearing with tights or leggings and boots, which might be why I don’t want to take it off!

Maternity Modifications 2!

While I have managed to sort out a few options for everyday maternity wear, it turns out maternity work wear is far more complicated to find!  I am an outdoor education instructor, and while I’m not planning on hanging around at the top of the climbing tower much anymore, I don’t want to totally give up on being busy outdoors.  Unfortunately, the only UK supplier I have found of maternity walking trousers is fairly limited (and I had to take the elastic of the waistband in about 3 inches even for the smallest size).

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Fortunately, I have a few things which I don’t wear often or don’t fit well to modify.  First up is a pair of walking trousers.  I could have just removed the waistband in the same way as my jeans, but these trousers had a nifty side adjustment already which gave me an idea about modifying them at the side seam instead.  I unpicked the side seam about 20cm on each side and then tried them back on to see how much extra room I needed to create.

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I had a bit of navy lycra in my stash, so cut out some triangles of about the right size, and hemmed the top edge.  Then I went about inserting them into the side seams where they had been unpicked.  I decided to make them a little bigger than I needed them right now to give me a bit of space to keep growing.

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Once they were in, I tidied up the waistband edge, and stitched it all down.  The next problem is that the original side adjusters were obviously going to be way too short.  I thought about taking them off and replacing them with a new longer set, but thought they might be more versatile if I added to them instead.  They currently close with Velcro, so I bought a couple of rectangular sliders which the current strap can slide through and fasten the Velcro behind.  Then I sewed these into the end of a strap extension.  It sounds complicated, but it is actually really simple to look at.

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I’ve also been a bit short of jumpers and layers which fit properly to do up, so I adapted an old softshell in a similar way.  This time the sides are opened from the bottom hem upwards about 25cm and I added similar triangular inserts.

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The insert is essentially a godet, so if you are thinking of doing something similar and want a bit of sewing advice Liz has a tutorial, as does By Hand London.

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This jacket had a drawstring at the bottom originally, and the side seam coincided with some eyelets which helped adjust the elastic.  I decided that it would be worth keeping the drawstring feature, so sewed the lycra into the side seams before hemming so that I could keep the channel clear.  I had to add some new eyelets and elastic, but it works really well, stopping the jacket from riding up and keeping the draughts out!

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I love that these things fit me now, but have enough adjustment (hopefully) to keep me comfortable for the next couple of months too.  Now I’m all ready for more adventures!

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P.S. Apologies for the low quality pictures.  My normal cameraperson/husband has been away a lot recently, so these got taken on my phone using the timer and the contrast/exposure/quality is just not so great!