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!

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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!

Seamwork Paxton

It is a little unusual for me to be sewing for someone other than myself, but I spotted this teal dogtooth quilted jersey on Minerva Crafts which I thought would be perfect for Matt. The Seamwork Paxton sweater was one of my make nine plans for this year, and so I’ve sewed one up.

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It feels good to be making progress on some of my sewing plans! This is the third of my patterns ticked off my make nine list. I’ve already written about my Seamwork Oslo, and Megan Nielson Amber. Three from nine at this point in the year is looking good!

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The full review of my Paxton sweater and this fabric is up on the Minerva Crafts blog, so check it out here. Matt seems happy to be the recipient of some sewing goodies for a change, so that feels good too!

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My first adventures into bag making

One of my aims for this year is to sew from my stash fabrics.  Well I have had a really cool ‘technical fabric’ remnant from Fabric Godmother sitting around for perhaps a year, and I thought it was high time that I gave sewing with it a go.  This fabric is slightly waterproof, but still moves and feels like fabric rather than plastic, so I thought that a fairly practical tote bag would be a good option.

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I have had a Seamwork subscription for a while, and so had a couple of credits to use.  The Madrid bag seemed to be a pretty straightforward option for my first attempt at making a bag since making a drawstring one in year 9 textiles!  All the pattern pieces are basically rectangles, so it really is a beginner friendly option.

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The Seamwork Madrid pattern is designed to be sewn with a couple of contrasting outer fabrics, and a lining.  I didn’t have two different waterproof fabrics, but I did have some cotton twill left over from Matt’s waistcoat last year which co-ordinated well.  I chose two basic polycottons for the lining, so that I could make the pocket out of a contrast colour too.

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This all went together very smoothly.  I couldn’t find any bag handles that I liked online as suggested in the instructions, so I just made my own from some d-rings and a length of wedding.  This way you can choose exactly how long you would like the straps to be too.

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This tote bag is not quite an empty shell like some are, and I thought that it would be nice to be able to take it without a handbag sometimes.  I hate it when my keys and phone get lost in the bottom of a bag though, so I divided the internal pocket to be ‘phone-sized’ and added a little hook to clip onto a key.  The finished bag looks pretty good.  Not all of my topstitching is a neat as I would like, but I don’t think most people will be looking that closely.

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It is a bit floppy, so if I make some more in similar fabrics I think I will need to add some interfacing to the outer bag pieces to make them seem a bit more robust.  It might not be helping that the cotton twill at the top is slightly heavier weight than the floral fabric at the bottom of the bag, but I didn’t want to put them the other way up because I thought you are more likely to put a bag down on a slightly damp surface than brush up against one at the top of the bag.  I can see more of these bags in my future.

 

Maternity Modifications

In the last couple of weeks it suddenly feels like none of my clothes fit, and trousers especially are all really uncomfortable. I didn’t want to spend loads on a whole new maternity wardrobe to wear just for a short while, so I have been keeping my eye on the local charity shops to find some things that I could alter. Well I came up with two pairs of skinny jeans and a skirt, and I think I spent £6.50 in total on them, so not a bad start!

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There are quite a few tutorials online about modifying clothes for pregnancy. Two that I found particularly helpful were Rachel from Bobbins on my Mind, and DIY maternity, a project by Megan Nielson. Both suggested altering things by removing the original waistband and substituting a stretchy band instead. So, armed with my chalk and a pair of scissors, I set to work!

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I drew on approximately where I wanted the stretch band to start by putting the trousers on and seeing where my bump began. Then I just curved this line up towards the original waistband. I didn’t bother trying to unpick anything except the belt loops, and just cut the lot off! Then you need to carefully trim out the metal parts of the zip, so that you don’t catch them when you are sewing. The stretch panel I just cut from some ribbing from Guthrie and Ghani for this first pair, and used similar dimensions to the end result of my pleated maternity skirt. The tutorials above talk you through sewing it all together, but it is very intuitive, and I am really pleased with the end result.

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This red pair were my first attempt, and I did find that topstitching was a bit of a pain. My machine didn’t really like all the layers, and did skip some stitches. I doubt anyone is going to be looking that closely though and they are so much more comfortable to wear.

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With one success under my belt (literally) I cut into the other trousers and the skirt. For these I had a rummage through my fabric stash to find some suitable jersey (this is cotton spandex from Girl Charlee) and I think all of them are going to get plenty of wear in the next couple of months.

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I’m particularly pleased with the topstitching on the skirt.  It matches really well with the existing stitching.  The skirt initially was below the knee, and made me feel a bit frumpy, so I cut off 4.5″ and sewed a new hem.  It feels much more wearable now.

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There is definitely a bit of space for more growing, but they fit well enough now to be comfortable.

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I am loving that these are so much more cost effective, and sustainable than buying new in the shops.  It really surprised me how much it affected my sense of self wearing my one pair of maternity jeans, which weren’t quite my style.  In these ones I feel like myself again, and it feels good!

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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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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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Colour blocked Coco’s

Coco was my first foray into sewing with knit fabrics, and I would say that it was a perfect introduction for a new sewist.  Tilly’s instructions are fantastically clear, and the pattern is sewn with a Ponte Roma or stable jersey, and so is much more friendly and easy to work with than some of the alternatives.

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These two colour blocked coco’s are not my first attempts at this pattern, though that version is still in use, but these are the first ones where I started to modify patterns to suit my own preferences.  For these versions I slimmed down the sleeve piece from below the armscye to the wrist, and also added my own cutting lines for the colour blocking.

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Another advantage for novice sewists is that this one pattern covers a range of options.  There is a dress or a top, a variety of sleeve lengths and a funnel or boatneck neckline. This makes it even easier to get both value for money from a pattern, and to end up with the garment you were dreaming of!  For both of my versions I went for the straightforward boat neckline, which is just turned under and stitched.  My top tip for getting it to stay in place is 1cm fusible hemming tape.  It will stay right were you have pressed it, and also gives the neckline a little bit of structure.

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For the dress version I added patch pockets and decided to finish the hem with a zigzag stitch in contrasting white thread.  I actually preferred the appearance of the stitch from the bobbin side so I stitched it from the wrong side.

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Both this top and dress have been going strong for about 3 years now and they are still comfy and cosy with just a bit of bobbling now.  I think I will still be wearing them for a while yet.IMG_0965

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My first dress- meet Megan

My first ever handmade dress was this Megan dress, and I have always considered it a lucky dress because the first time I wore it at a wedding it proved a very successful topic of conversation with my neighbour at the table.  Well, it recently had another wedding outing, and I thought that it was high tile that it got its own photos and write up on the blog.

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This Megan dress pattern comes from the Tilly and the Buttons book, Love at first Stitch which was my introduction to sewing for myself.  I worked through the patterns in the book in sequence (see here for my Delphine Skirt and Clemence Skirt), learning the required techniques as I went along.  I still sometimes come back to this book to look something up when I need a reminder.  Each technique is explained and photographed in detail which was a lifeline when I was starting out.

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This dress for me does represent the proud moment of sewing up a bodice and sleeves and it being a wearable dress.  Yes the invisible zip is definitely not invisible and I’m sure there are lots of places where the finishing could be improved, but that hasn’t stopped me from wearing it.

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The fabric is just a very affordable polycotton and I have no idea anymore where it came from!  Looking back on it today, I’m glad that my new to sewing self didn’t try to over fit this dress.  There is definitely a good bit of ease, and that is what has made it comfortable to wear all day to a wedding.  The bodice is possibly a little too long looking back at these pictures and I think that is what is causing the creasing, but nothing major would need to be done to a remake of this pattern.

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Being such a long time ago, the construction details are a little hazy.  I think I made a straight size 3 (Tilly has her own numeric sizing system), though if I went back to the pattern I could probably work it out for certain because I definitely traced the pattern pieces off the large pattern sheets which come with the book.  It is such a simple shape that I think I may have to revisit this dress again.  The style actually lends itself pretty well to both summer dresses and to layering in winter.  I will be wearing this one for the next few months with long sleeved t-shirts and tights.

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Winslow Culottes

I have been desiring culottes for a while, especially as I have been cycling a bit more, and they are just much more practical than a skirt on a bike!  The best ones look pretty and feminine like a skirt, just a lot less likely to accidentally show off your underwear! Having looked at a few options, I settled on the Winslow Culottes by Helens Closet who is another new to me pattern designer.

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I wanted these culottes to sit a little below my natural waist and to be loose and comfortable for summer so I sized up a little and used the size 8 pieces. I figured that if it was a little larger than I planned, with those big pleats it would be easy to just shorten the waistband and take a little more fabric into the pleat.

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The fabric is a little special.  The only souvenir that I brought home from Italy was this 1.3m remnant of fabric.  The shop that we visited was very close to Milan city centre and was understandably mostly out of my price range.  There were some stunning silks and velvets, but I could only really justify looking though their remnants.

This smallish piece of cotton was my prize though.  It is just lovely to touch. Soft and drapey, and made in Italy, so a very appropriate holiday souvenir.  The yardage was pretty much perfect for these shorter culottes (view B).

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These have been a very quick and efficient sew.  I prewashed the fabric in the morning, then ironed and cut before lunch and spent the afternoon sewing them up.  I would say that this was a pretty beginner friendly pattern.  The trickiest part is probably inserting the invisible zip, but the instructions and illustrations are excellent.

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In terms of fit, I am fairly happy.  The waistband fits a little strangely, because it sits at a slightly strange in-between height. I can live with that though, but next time I will need to contour the waistband slightly so that it sits against my body a little better.  It is just a narrow straight band, so there isn’t any shaping included in the pattern.

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When I hemmed these culottes, I did take quite a bit of length off.  They are designed with a narrow 1/2″ hem, but I ended up with a deep 3 1/2″ hem instead to bring the length up above my knee a little.  That might be partially because the waistband is sitting a little lower than my natural waist.

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The fabric makes these so special for me.  There are a couple of hidden features, like including the selvedge into the pockets as a special holiday reminder.  It was beautiful to work with, and is a great weight, draping really nicely in the finished skirt.  The deep pleats are very flattering, so I think I will be making this pattern up agin next summer.

These pictures do remind me that sadly summer is drawing to a close.  The culottes did perform really well on our ride, along with my Rowan bodysuit, but we did get soaked in a rain shower on the way home!

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