Blossom Dress

Today I bring you another fabric test for Minerva Crafts.  If you have been reading my blog for the past couple of months you may have seen this fabric before in my hacked Anna top.  Well this is the main project that I used it for, a Sew Over It Blossom Dress.

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The full write up is over at here on the Minerva crafts blog, but I thought I would share some personal news with this post because the sewing social media followers among you might be thinking “but isn’t that a maternity pattern”.  Well it turns out we are expecting a new addition to our family sometime at the end of May next year. It has altered my sewing queue quite a bit to include some of the new maternity pattern releases from Sew Over It and Tilly and the Buttons, and a couple of hacks of other patterns which might be adapted for a growing belly.

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These pictures were taken a few weeks back when I was only just starting to get a bump, so the exaggerated dipped front hem is quite a bit long still.  I didn’t want to alter it though, because I’m hoping that this will be something I can wear right through until May, and perhaps alter it then to be less pronounced.

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Sparkly Sequinned Ogden!

I have never to my knowledge owned an entirely sequinned item of clothing, and I’ve always wondered!  A while ago I was offered the chance to test some sequin fabric, and while I didn’t in the end (you will get to see what I did test tomorrow), it planted the seed of an idea- a really simple top, but in sequins.

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With that in mind, I’ve been looking out for some suitable fabric and found some at fabricland.  I really liked the colour ‘cappuchino’ in their sequin blitz fabric, which is an all over random placement, rather than lines of sequins, which I thought might actually be easier to cut.  They actually had quite a good selection and it was pretty affordable, especially as I only needed 7ocm.

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There is lots of advice about cutting and sewing with sequinned fabrics online.  I found Lauren at Guthrie and Ghani’s blog post particularly helpful.  There are some really good top tips at the bottom of the page.  I decided to cut my fabric using my rotary cutter (and accept that I will need a new blade afterwards), and I did all the sewing with a size 80 sharps needle.  It seemed to work. I didn’t bother to strip the sequins out of the seam line, and the needle coped just fine.

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This top is an adaptation of the True Bias Ogden Cami which I have made a couple of times before (here and here).   I really like the elegant style of the Ogden, but one of my versions was a little tight across the bust, and as I was planning to use the same lining fabric as before which has no give to it, I decided to effectively grade up a size.  I could have just reprinted the pattern, but I thought it would be good practice.  I actually only added width to the front bodice anyway, and not a huge amount at that.  The biggest changes were lengthening the whole pattern, dipping the front hem a little, and slashing and spreading the front bodice to make a little extra space.  All of these changes do seem to have done the trick pretty well.  The top is definitely a little more roomy, but doesn’t seem ridiculously oversized. I’m pretty sure it will get me through the festive season no problem with plenty of room for the traditional big dinners!

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I did fully line this version because the back of the sequin fabric is a little scratchy.  I just cut an exact replica of the main pieces in lining fabric and constructed as per the instructions.  The straps I also cut from both the sequin fabric and the lining, and instead of folding each in half and stitching down one side, I just placed a sequin and a lining fabric together and stitched down both.  This means that even the straps are a little kinder to skin!

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I think these are some of the biggest changes I have ever made to a pattern without following a tutorial of some form, and I am really pleased with the way it has turned out.  It has kept the character of the Ogden, but adapted it for my body and needs.  I’m definitely going to start having to get more adventurous with the pattern hacking in future!

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Toaster Sweater number 2

Back in January I made my first Toaster Sweater for Project Sewmystyle.  We’ll I wasn’t really sure about any of the pattern options available from Named for December’s option, so I decided to go back to the beginning.  This time I have used the other version of the pattern which has a split hem instead of a hem band, and a slightly lower neckline.

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This Origami Cranes fabric has been waiting in my stash for a little while, so I cant remember where it is from.  It seems to be a cotton French terry or loopback jersey with maybe a little lycra in it because it does have a good stretch.  I only had 1m of fabric which required some slightly creative cutting, especially as I lengthened the body of the jumper by 10cm.  I had read in quite a few reviews that it comes up fairly short, and I wanted plenty of length to keep me warm.

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Due to my fabric restrictions, I had to cut the sleeve in three sections!  These were fairly arbitrarily decided to make the most of my fabric, though they are at least symmetrical!  There was no way I could attempt to pattern match with my limited fabric, so I just accepted the random nature of it all.  You can’t even really see the seam lines in these photos.

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This jumper comes together pretty simply, and the instructions and illustrations are really clear.  I particularly like the mitered corners on the hem.  They just look so smart! And with some careful twin needling, I was able to get around all the corners, even without being able to leave the needle down to turn.  Lauren at Guthrie and Ghani has some good tips for this if you are struggling.  I would love a version in Atelier Brunette French Terry like hers if I could justify the cost!

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The only place where I had a slight issue was the neckline facing.  It was flapping around a bit and I found it irritating, so I hand stitched it to the little loops in the back of the fabric to stop it moving around.  The stitching is still invisible from the outside, but it seems to have done the job nicely.  I also sewed in some ribbon to make identifying the front and back a little easier too.

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I’m sure it won’t be the last time that I use this pattern.  My jumper is so snuggly and soft.  Just perfect for throwing on with jeans at the weekend.

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Hacked Anna Top

I missed last month’s project SewMyStyle– the Hampshire Trouser.  I do plan to make them at some point, and I have some cotton twill prewashed and ready, but October ended up being a very busy month!  November though is a little less crazy, and I’ve managed to be a bit more organised.  The project for November is the Anna dress by By Hand London.  I don’t really have a need for a more dressy dress this month though, so I did a bit of research about how else I could use the pattern.  This is what I came up with- I found a really lovely pattern hack for a top.IMG_1353The pattern hack involves shortening the bodice a little so that it is empire line, and then adding a circle skirt.  The circle skirt calculator is really handy here to work out exactly what to cut.  I went with a half circle skirt, but kept the length a bit longer than I expected to need, because I wasn’t sure what length I was going to want it.  I ended up keeping all the length though, because this is really lovely at almost-tunic-length!IMG_1403The fabric is a beautiful self lined polyester crepe in a colour called aubergine.  I was given it to test by Minerva Crafts, and I managed to get this top out of the remnants of that project.  You should be able to see the end result of my main project in a couple of weeks.IMG_1364In the meantime, I will say that the fabric is lovely.  The colour is rich, it drapes and it seems quite resistant to creasing, which is a little irritating when pressing up small hem allowances, but is actually very handy in wear.IMG_1381This top is for me a great reminder to look beyond the styling, and the functionality of a pattern and look at what really matters- the cut and the lines.  I think I will have to look through my pattern stack with new eyes looking at what else I can hack to serve a new purpose.IMG_1341I have reached the point in the year where no matter what, I’m not going to be temped to take photos of short sleeved garments outside- hence the layering t-shirt, but I actually like it like this too.  It makes a put-together, slightly glam top more everyday wearable.IMG_1386

 

 

 

 

 

Time to cosy up in a cardi!

Sometimes I have projects that just take ages to come into reality.  I’m sure you know the feeling- you come across a new fabric or pattern and immediately make plans.  Somehow though, those plans keep getting pushed back until sometimes you can’t even remember what they were!  Eventually though, a rummage through your fabric stash or patterns brings it back to the front of the queue and it gets to see the light of day.  This is one of those makes!

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I recently had a rummage through my fabric boxes, pulling things out for the winter and a couple of upcoming ideas.  While I was there, I rediscovered this speckled cream Hacci knit from Girl Charlee.  I had a couple of metres, and it has been waiting patiently for at least a year.  Unsurprisingly, they don’t seem to sell it any more, but they do have lots of other styles.  Hacci knits are quite loosely woven, they look more like loose knitting than a t-shirt fabric and so this fabric was always destined to become a lightweight cardigan.

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I also have had the Elmira cardigan by Seamwork in my pattern collection for ages, and they seemed like a good match.  I made a couple of small changes- lengthening the sleeves by 5cm so that they would be full length, and also cutting two of the back pieces.  All the front cardigan pieces are double thickness, so I thought I would do the same at the back, especially as I wasn’t sure how well this fabric would take to being turned and hemmed.

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Seamwork patterns are designed to be quick and easy to construct, but that does sometimes mean that the finishing is a little less thought through than other patternmakers.  I didn’t really have any problems with the construction order of this though, and I’m happy with how it has turned out.

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The cardigan closes with a couple of little internal buttons and an external tie.  The buttons have little hand sewn thread chains instead of buttonholes which are really delicate and lovely.  I actually enjoyed sewing them, despite usually avoiding hand sewing wherever possible.

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This is a slightly different style for me, but I have been enjoying wearing it with higher-waisted dresses and tops.  I think it will be nice over the winter when you often want something to just cover your arms, but don’t need anything too heavy because the central heating is on.  The only changes I would make next time would be to lengthen the sleeves a fraction more, and maybe reduce the width of the inner wrap piece so that the neckline pulls more smoothly.  Other than that though, I’m happy to be using a fabric and pattern that have been waiting around for far too long!

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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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Sashiko Mending Archer

This is my first ever Grainline Archer.  I have since shared a few more recent versions, but this first one has always been a favourite.  I meticulously pattern matched the plaid across the front, learned how to attach a collar and install plackets, and even inserted my first snaps.

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Favorite, that is until a hole appeared right where the button placket meets the front piece.

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I deliberated for ages about what to do.  I didn’t want to just throw away something that represented a lot of hard work and some fairly major achievements, but I also didn’t know how to mend it in such a way that I would be happy with the end result.  And I really didn’t want to have to do loads of unpicking to sort it out!

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I have come across Sashiko a few times before, often as a piece of decorative art, or sometimes as a means of mending the knees of worn jeans, but only recently did it occur to me that this might be the way to salvage my much loved shirt!  I did still have some of the fabric from the original shirt left, so this felt like a logical place to begin my mending journey.  I took a large rectangle, overlocked all the edges and pinned it in place behind the hole.

Next I chose a complimentary embroidery thread.  I wanted something that toned in with the colours in the shirt, but I also wanted to embrace the fact that this mending was going to be visible, and I could be proud of that!  This seemed like a good compromise.

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Because the shirt already has such a strong geometric pattern, I decided that there was no need for complex embroidery shapes.  Sticking with the grid of the plaid would help keep my stitches even and straight anyway so no need for guide lines.

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Sashiko mending is designed to reinforce the fabric, anchoring it to a solid base, but I think I may still have to be a little careful when using the poppers that I don’t put unnecessary strain on the fabric.  I think it looks pretty cool, and now I can wear my Archer shirt again with pride, knowing that it is even more unique and special than before.  Embrace the uniqueness and the mending.

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Georgette Pussy Bow Blouse

When I graduated, far too long ago, I wore a similar blouse to this, and it still is in fairly regular rotation in my wardrobe.  I was given this Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse pattern quite a while ago, and I decided this autumn that it was high time that I put it together and tried it out.  The pattern has two options, a keyhole neckline like my graduation blouse, and a V-neck which I decided to make this time around.

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I made this blouse from a polyester chiffon georgette from The Textile Centre on Ebay, which was very reasonably priced.  Polyester does have a rather poor reputation in some sewing circles, and I’ll admit, there are some potential pitfalls.  It can be very resistant to pressing which can make getting sharp seam lines tricky, and it is not terribly breathable to wear.  It is, however often a relatively cheap option, which can make it a great fabric for a wearable toile, when you aren’t sure that a pattern is going to fit or suit as you would like, and the resistance to pressing also means that you can pack or crumple your garment as much as you like and it won’t hold the creases!  This got packed to holiday in the Lake District which is absolutely beautiful, if was slightly unobliging weather-wise for the photos!

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I was very pleased with the quality of the fabric. it is soft and fluid making it perfect for a lightweight blouse, though it does have a tendency to fray.  If I had had more time, I think French seaming the insides would have been the way to go, but overlocking is just so much quicker, and does seem to have kept the fraying in check.

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As several people have observed, this Sew Over It pattern is not the easiest to get a neat finish at the point where the centre front seam and the bow meet.  I did hand sew the inside of the neckline which helped, but it was still pretty fiddly getting everything to meet up properly.  Once the bow it tied though, and imperfections will be hidden anyway, so perhaps it isn’t worth worrying about too much!

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Unlike most top patterns, the front is cut in two pieces, while the back is cut on the fold.  This centre front seam is there to help to get the bow attached, but I think with some careful sewing, you might be able to get away with taking out the centre seam and cut this on the fold too.  The pattern on my blouse is pretty busy and so I don’t mind the seam breaking up the pattern too much, but if you have a more special fabric, you might prefer to eliminate this seam and avoid any pattern matching issues.

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One thing to bear in mind are the cuffs.  I have pretty small wrists, but even I don’t have much space here.  If you have a larger bone structure, you might want to cut the cuff peace a little longer to make it more comfortable to wear, and just reduce the amount of gathering into the cuff.  I can’t get the cuff over my hand without undoing the buttons which is quite unusual for me! The buttons are very simple and are from my button stash.  Next time I will sew them on with a bit more of a thread shank, or use a thinner ribbon instead of the rouleau button loop because they are a bit fiddly to do up and undo.

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The hem is slightly curved and shaped at the side seam too, which does look nice untucked with jeans and trousers.  All in all, this has turned into a very versatile blouse.  All ready for autumn.

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Winter is Coming- Time for Agnes!

I love a good remnant!  Even with less than a metre there is usually enough for a top, like in this viscose blend jersey remnant from Fabric Godmother.  I scored 80cm for 2.99 and it was perfect for cutting out a Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Top with just a couple of scraps left over.

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These are not my first Agnes tops, and I am still wearing the ones that I made up last winter.  This is just the basic long sleeved Agnes pattern with no adaptations.  The fabric does all the work.  It doesn’t need anything fancy, but I do think this is a very cute autumn look.

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The same is true of this oversized t-shirt that I found in the charity shop for £1.  I did have to cut pretty creatively for this one, and even then couldn’t quite get full length sleeves, but I love the sparkle!  I even had to cut the neckband in two pieces which is why there is a join at the centre front, but I decided to use the ruched neckline to try and make it look deliberate.

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Tops like this are staples in my winter wardrobe and are so quick to make up.  Less than 2 hours from cutting to wearing makes these a real bargain, and very satisfying make.  Especially with an overlocker to finish and sew the seams at the same time- I do love my Janome 6234XL.

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There will surely be more of these in the months and years to come.

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