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!

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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.

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.

Top 5- Hits and Misses 2018

Last year I found it really helpful to think about which of my makes hit the mark, and which were less successful with my hits and misses, so I thought I would have another go this year too.  I think most of my sewing has been fairly successful this year, though I have just done a wardrobe clear out, and a few handmade clothes did get the axe, so its certainly not perfect yet.

So here we go:

Top 5 Hits

Amber tops and Dress

I practically lived in my Amber tops during the last part of my pregnancy when it was hot and my bump was huge.  Even since then, I must wear one at least 2-3 times a week because they are one of my most practical options for feeding in too.  I particularly love my Amber dress because I think it looks fairly stylish and is so easy to just throw on, and my Amber hack layering tee also gets a lot of wear under shirts at the moment.  I think the reason they have been so successful is because they suit my lifestyle as it is right now, not how I might wish it was.  They are also made in good quality cotton jersey, so they have survived lots of washing and grabbing straight back out of the laundry pile!

Oslo Cardigan

This is another item of clothing that regularly gets taken straight from the clean washing pile to be put back on.  When I first made it I wasn’t sure about the style on me and this was really intended as a wearable toile.   However, the oversized nature of it has definitely been growing on me, and I love how easy it is to throw on.  I would love to make another (possibly multiples) as again it fits my lifestyle right now really well.

Modified Toaster Sweater

I made this Toaster sweater right at the start of the year with some very special Atelier Brunette fabric.  I’m pleased that I used this very special fabric in something which is comfortable and practical.  I love that it fits over my Archer shirts, and the crew neck is more practical with a collar.  I’m even really pleased with my decision to go for contrasting gold topstitching.

Ultimate Wrap Dress

This dress is another make that I love because I tweaked the pattern to create what I actually wanted. I hacked the sleeve into a little flutter sleeve, modified the cross-over to be a little higher and added an empire line seam to make it fit over the bump. I have worn it a bit since the arrival of baby too, though I think it might now need re-hemming to take out some of the extra length that I added to the front. I’m looking forward to being able to wear it again next summer.

Ringer Tee

I have made a mountain of these tops for Toby and as gifts, and I’m sure there will be more. I particularly like hacking them to have poppers at the neckline while he is small, but the pattern goes up to ages 5-6, so I’m sure I will make more as he grows. It’s a free pattern too, so what’s not to love!

Hits Conclusion

There were a couple of other patterns that I would have included, but I thought it might be cheating to include patterns that made it onto last year’s successes like the Mens Metro Tee and Grainline Archer because I knew before I got started that I would love them! I also thought that perhaps I couldn’t include the skirt that I am currently sewing, even though I’m pretty sure it will be a hit because I haven’t actually worn it yet! Another that came close was the Dandelion Dungarees because they have seen a lot of wear in the last few months and the popper hack definitely worked there too. I think the things that I have included demonstrate that I’m getting more confident at hacking patterns to get what I actually want from them, not just putting up with the parts that don’t work for me.

Top 5 Misses

Kinder Cardigan

Considering how much I love my Oslo cardigan, it seems a little strange that I’m not such a big fan of the Kinder Cardigan which is pretty similar. I think it is down to a couple of issues, one being that the pattern is possibly even a little more oversized than Oslo. The other being that the Ponte I made it in is definitely more structured so it ‘feels’ bigger. I did like some of the construction methods, and the pockets though, so I’m tempted to adopt some of these for my next Oslo cardigan attempt.

Blossom Dress

Technically this was made in 2017, but I was never really going to wear it until this year. I’m not sure if it is just because it is such a large expanse of single colour, but I didn’t really hit it off with this Blossom dress. I love the fabric, and the Anna Top that I squeezed out of the offcuts, but the dress hardly got worn. It probably doesn’t help that it looked a bit strange before I had a big enough bump, and by the time my bump was bigger the weather was warming up. This hasn’t survived a recent wardrobe clear out because it looks ridiculous again without a baby bump. Perhaps it would have been better as a top.

Lucia Top

A more recent make was this Lucia Top. It was a great way to kickstart sewing again being really simple, but I’m not a massive fan of the fabric. It’s a bit too shiny and ‘polyester’y. It has survive the wardrobe clear out, but only to see if I will wear it during the festive season when red and shiny seems more acceptable. If it doesn’t get worn it might have to go too.

Lily Top

There is nothing actually ‘wrong’ with this Lily Top, it just doesn’t get worn as often as I thought it might. I did wear it while I was pregnant, and I do sometimes wear it now to feed, but I wasn’t 100% pleased with the finishing techniques and there are some areas that I don’t think are going to be all that robust. It’s not a total fail, though I don’t think I would make the pattern again.

Miette Skirt

Again, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with this skirt, but I think it suffers from not suiting my changing body and style. I have been wearing a lot less that sits actually at my waist because I don’t find it that flattering at the moment. Perhaps that will change in the future and I will feel better wearing this skirt though. With hindsight, though the pockets are really useful, they just draw more attention to an area that I feel less confident in at the moment!

Misses Conclusion

I think several of these projects have suffered from the difficulties of guessing what sorts of things I was going to want to wear as my lifestyle and body have changed. Hopefully now that thigs are starting to settle down I can make more informed choices for next year and get more of them right!

Batch sewing shirts

How do you like to pick our next sewing project?  Do you sew multiples of the same garment or dive straight in to something new?  Do you like to stick to the same colours or fabrics (or same thread in you sewing machine/overlocker) or do you flit about with different colours textures and patterns to keep things exciting?  I tend to do a bit of both.  Sometimes I’m tempted immediately by the lure of the next new thing, or other shiny fabrics, but sometimes I’m a little more pragmatic and choose to sew several things in the same fabric to save changing threads and needles, or make repeats of a pattern so I only need to figure out the instructions once.

 This is one of the times where I’ve decided to let pragmatism and planning win out. I’ve been planning this speckled cream Archer Shirt for over a year, but it fits in beautifully with an outfit I have in my head for Autumn/Winter so it finally made it to the top of the sewing queue.  I’ve made several Archer’s before, so I know what to expect from the fit, and also from the complexity of shirt making, and decided that it would actually be almost as quick to sew two shirts together.  (See my post on sewing with limited time).

Especially once I rediscovered this other brushed cotton in my stash which would work with the same needles and same white thread  It’s actually the same fabric that I used to make my sister an Archer for Christmas last year, but I figured she won’t mind me copying a good idea!

The shirts are actually just the same as all the ones I’ve made before (here and here)- a straight size 4.  I love them to bits though.  The brushed cottons are just perfect for this time of year.  They feel so cosy.

I remembered to sew in my ribbon tags into the back yoke of the shirts which makes me smile every time that I put them on.  I French-seamed the side seams too.

The checked shirt has several details cut on the bias to save on pattern matching, and to add a bit of interest.  I did (mostly) pattern match the side seams and front, though it isn’t perfect.  I decided that I can definitely live with it, and didn’t have the patience for meticulous cutting out!

On the speckled shirt I decided to hem it with bias tape.  It’s not a technique I use very often, so I could probably do with more practice, but I like the neat finish.  It’s not always easy to press up a neat narrow hem when there is a big curve like on the side seam of the Archer.  Its worth spending the extra time on garments which are going to get lots of wear!

I think I probably have enough of these shirts to keep me going for quite a while, so I probably don’t need to make any more for a bit.  Next time I need a shirt though, I can be pretty sure which pattern I’m going to be going straight to.

What I made 2018

I do have plans to think through the successes and failures of my last year of sewing (much like last year’s hits and misses), but I thought that first it would be interesting to see what did I make.  So I made some pretty graphs to help me understand the bigger picture!

First up, is patterns.  I used patterns from a wide variety of patternmakers this year, but almost entirely independent pattern companies.  The largest proportion was of Brindle and Twig patterns, and that is likely because every time I have made their baby leggings or top patterns I have cut and sewn in bulk!  Megan Nielson also features heavily because I have made multiples of the Acacia Underwear and Amber top/dress patterns.

When I look at which patterns specifically I used, quite a few of them were either made multiple times this year (like the above mentioned baby and Megan Nielson patterns), or are remakes of patterns that I have had a while and have made before such as the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes, Grainline Moss and Archer (the new ones haven’t been blogged yet!), Sew House 7 Toaster and Oliver and S Mens Metro Tee.  I’m glad to see that my sewing is not all about sewing the newest releases and following trends, but that I am developing my own style and am able to use and adapt patterns to be made multiples of times.  Its much more cost effective for me, but also seems more sustainable.  I can be pretty sure that when I make these patterns they will be worn again and again. 

Next I thought I would like to see what sorts of things I was making.  Unsurprisingly, the majority of my sewing was clothing for myself, followed by the novelty of scrap busting with baby clothes!  Newer for me though was the addition of refashioning clothes from the charity shops or my wardrobe to make them more pregnancy friendly.  There have also been a few more practical projects such as bags and baby wipes which make up the ‘other category’.

One of my aims this year was to sew more from stash, and to buy less fabric.  I didn’t buy fabric at all for the first 6 months except where it was given to me in exchange for writing a post.  After that point, I did buy some fabric, but it has been a bit more restrained and this year has mostly been sewing from my stash.  It feels good, though I feel like there is still a bit further to go.  In the next few months I want to sort through properly and give away or sell the fabric that is no longer my style, or for projects that I don’t think I will ever get to.

So a pretty productive year I feel.  There are still a few projects and presents in the works, but it feels like even in a year with big changes in lifestyle, free time and priorities I’m getting better and better at knowing my style and sewing things that will really get well used.

Darling Dungarees

This is my latest baby pattern attempt, the dandelion dungarees by Poppy and Jazz which is an offshoot of Sew Over It.  I thought the promotional photos were all super cute, and I love dressing Toby in dungarees so this seemed like a great pattern choice.

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The pattern is reversible so you get two looks in one which is lovely.  I really like cuffing the ankles so that you can see the contrast fabric from the inside.

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The instructions were really clear, and I think this would be quite a good first knit sewing project because the seams don’t actually need to stretch and get sewn with an ordinary straight stitch.  The only tricky part is ‘bagging out’ the legs, but the instructions do explain pretty well.

 

I did make things rather trickier by hacking these dungarees to have poppers between the legs.  It does make it much easier to change nappies, but I can see why they didn’t include it in the instructions because it did make construction considerably more awkward.  I’m really pleased with them though, and even chose a few different colours of snaps to close them with.

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The straps also have two sets of snaps so that I can change the length as he grows.

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I’m definitely going to have to make some more of these dungarees.  I’ve been eyeing up all the cute printed jerseys in my stash and working out colour combinations.  Even with all the snap setting they were a pretty quick sew.  Plus, they were another of my ‘wildcard’ entry make 9 patterns so I’m really onto a win there!

More nursing layers

I am enjoying my previous Agnes and Amber pattern mash-up, but I wanted to try another method of getting breastfeeding access with a t-shirt. My previous hack works great, but variety is always nice, and I fancied a long sleeve tee with a neckband because my upper chest/neck keeps getting cold!

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This is based on the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Top and is a much simpler pattern hack than the previous one because it involves modifying fewer pieces. I would detail the changes, but Zoe from SoZo what do you know already has a great tutorial and I didn’t really do anything different.  I think the overlap would be less obvious if I had found a better thread colour match for the topstitching, but I found this fabric difficult to match and it will probably be hidden under my layers anyway.

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This option is quicker to construct and does give a sleeker silhouette for layering, though I think my other hack is easier to use. I will definitely be using both options, and will probably make some more too. I have some lovely peacock blue cotton spandex which would look great.

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One of the best things about this top is the way it has helped me to reconsider and start wearing a few clothes that had been slightly forgotten. Here it is layered under my Bridgetown Backless Dress as a tunic, and worn with the crossover at the front.

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Slightly different styling from wearing it to the wedding I made it for.

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I also made Matt another Metro tee to match! It doesn’t really deserve its own post as I’m pretty sure I’ve already said all there is to say about making up that pattern. It’s probably one of the best value patterns I own though for the number of times that it has been used (closely followed by the Agnes and Amber patterns too!)

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