Givre Top

It’s been a little while since I’ve done a collaboration post with Minerva Crafts, but I had the chance to use some fun floral fabric to make this Deer and Doe Givre Top recently.

This was actually sewn and photographed in February, and it a pretty simple t-shirt pattern. I could have taken my trusty Tilly and the Buttons Agnes t-shirt and hacked it to colour block myself, but it was quite nice to let someone else do the work for a change, and was a good chance to try out a new to me pattern company. The instructions from Deer and Doe looked really good and clear, thought I didn’t really use them except to check the seam allowances!

There are more photos, and some of my top tips up on the Minerva Crafts blog here. Enjoy!


Family Christening Gown

I thought I would write about something a little different this week. I have had the privilege of having a close look at a handmade garment which has been passed down several generations babies in my husband’s family. I believe it was originally made for my father in law by his mother- it’s his christening gown.

As far as I can tell, the whole of the gown has been sewn by hand. It must have been a real labour of love, because the stitches involved are tiny and beautiful!

There are actually two parts to the gown, an outer of white broderie anglaise, and a pale blue lining. I guess the blue lining must have been a little prone to fraying because all the raw edges have been enclosed. The side seams are felled seams and there is a double turned hem.

The neckline and armhole edges have been enclosed in a narrow self fabric binding, which it is hard to tell, but I think is cut on the bias.

There are little metal snaps sewn into the shoulders for ease of getting it on over a babies head too.

On the outer dress, the side seams have been left raw, but most of the other seams have been enclosed in a white cotton bias binding. The two back bodice pieces have been carefully cut to use the selvedge edge to help stabilise the opening in the neckline.

The seams attaching the bodice to the gathered skirt have been carefully topstitched, I think to help the gathers and seam allowance to sit flat.

At the back there is a pair of tiny thread loops to close the back neckline. They are just so neat and dainty!

Having a close look at such a special garment has been a lot of fun. I can see the hours of careful sewing that must have gone into creating it and it is a real family heirloom as a result. It makes me consider my own sewing, and while I am improving my finishing and hand sewing all the time, I don’t think I have ever sewn something with quite the same level of care and attention as there is in this little gown. Definitely something to think about for the future. Which of my makes would I want to become family heirlooms to be handed down through the generations.

Alder Shirtdress

Before Christmas I made a bit of a special purchase for myself. I had always wanted to use Spoonflower to make a shirt for myself because it seemed like a great way to simplify the time consuming cutting out part of the process. With Spoonflower about to shut down the pre-printed pattern part of their business, it gave me the nudge that I needed to commit, and I went for the Alder Shirtdress by Grainline. I’ve already made their Archer Shirt about 5 times before, so I felt fairly confident that I could order the Alder in a size 4 and it would probably fit pretty well.

It did take me a long time to decide on the fabric print. In the end I went for these mountains. I really liked the muted colours, but I didn’t want anything too pale in case it was a bit see through in bright sunlight! Its printed cotton lawn, and while you can still get fabric printed with spoonflower in this pattern (called ‘call of the mountains’ by
), they don’t seem to use the cotton lawn as a substrate option anymore. It’s a nice weight for this dress though, it is crisp and pressed beautifully, but not so heavy that it doesn’t drape at all.

The season for wearing a sleeveless summer dress, even with a cardigan is pretty short in the UK, so I wanted to be able to wear this more like a tunic to extend it’s useful and wearable season. It was about perfect with a t-shirt and my Virginia leggings underneath on a slightly breezy April morning.

The completely loose silhouette is a slightly new one for me, though I actually quite liked it. It’s nice that I can change it up a bit with a belt too though if I want a bit more of a waist.

Construction wise, it went together very easily. I didn’t really need the instructions because it is much the same as the Archer. Like the Archer, I enclosed the yoke seams using the burrito method which has a video tutorial on the grainline website. I did have a bit of a battle getting the collar on without any little tucks, and its still not perfect, but after about 3 attempts I decided it was good enough!

Because the Alder is sleeveless, there is a bias facing to finish of the sleeve edge. I’m not the biggest fan of bias binding, so I opted to machine sew the first pass, and the under stitching, then hand stitched the binding to the inside. I like that it has given a really clean finish to the armhole, and my hand stitches are almost invisible which is satisfying!

The one disadvantage of using spoonflower is that the notches are already transferred and it is a bit trickier to make fitting alterations. I did pin out the darts and hold the front panels up to me, but the darts have actually ended up a little low. Next time I make an Alder I’m going to need to raise them slightly. The fit is still pretty good though, so it’s nothing that will stop me from wearing this version.

Honeydew Hoodie

The last few months I have been off to a flying start with my make 9 plans, so I decided to keep that going by sewing up this Honeydew Hoodie for Toby. He is growing so fast at the moment and has already grown out of the Dandelion Dungarees I made him before Christmas so it seemed like a good time to make him something new.

Like the dungarees, this is designed to be a reversible pattern so I needed to choose two co-ordinating fabrics in a similar weight. It seemed like a good time to use up the remnants from my Oslo cardigan, and I chose this grey, black and red camper van print for the contrast. Both have the same grey and black colourway so I thought that they would look cute peaking out from the cuffs and hood.

I decided to go for the 12-18 month size to give some growing room. Toby often seems to have shorter arms than things are designed for, but because the cuffs are designed to be turned back to show the reverse I thought that he could just grow into them when he is ready.

In the midst of the creation of my Taylor Trench, I fancied a quick win, which is why I paused it to work on this for a few days. It was very quick and easy. Just 4 pattern pieces so both quick to cut and simple to sew.

I’m still not certain that my snap setting is perfect. They sometimes feel a bit delicate, so I think I need to reinforce the jersey a little more in future. These star snaps are pretty cool though. They just have plain circles on the reverse to go with the printed fabric side.

Doesn’t he look cute. He is growing so fast, and moving quickly too which did make our photo shoot a bit tricky!

This gets me to between a third and halfway through my make 9, so pretty good for the first 4 months of the year. See my Oslo Cardigan and Virginia Leggings for my other completed projects, and I’m part way through sewing up another at the moment.

Lil Dreamer Cardigan

This may be of less interest to those of you who only follow my blog for the sewing, but I have something that I’m very proud of to share! This is by far the largest and most complex knitting project that I have undertaken. It might not look like much, but I knit pretty slowly, and had to learn quite a few new techniques in the process of making this little cardigan.

The pattern for this cardigan comes from a West Yorkshire Spinners pattern book called Bo Peep Storybook. It is a really cute book of baby and child patterns, designed to be knitted with their Bo Peep luxury baby wool. I chose the ‘under-the-sea’ colourway from my local knitting shop, which I figured was a good gender neutral colour, without sticking to the traditional white or yellow!

This jumper has taken me almost 18 months to knit to completion. I think it might have taken longer if I didn’t realise that it needed finishing now, or it would be too small by the time I did! It has taught me a whole bunch of new skills, from different ways to make stitches, picking up stitches on an edge, and has improved my sewing up of knitting no end.

Putting Toby in it today to take some photos, I did feel really proud. A project that takes so long has you really invested in the process as much as the final result. Every time I finished a piece or section of the instructions I got another new boost of motivation to work my way through the next part. It actually has made me consider knitting something else, possibly even a jumper for myself, though I know that will be an even bigger process to complete.

The button band is not quite as per the instructions. I got a little confused over the counting of stitches as I cast off the buttonholes. I now know how it should have been done, but I’ve made it work and I’m happy. The buttons weren’t chosen until right at the very end, and I wanted something bright and jolly. The great thing with buttons though is that I can change them out for something different in the future if I want something a little more neutral. Toby seems to like fiddling with them, so I’m taking that as approval.

I did quite a bit of research about the best way to get the buttons attached, and decided on using small backing buttons on the inside. I’m hoping that is will help to distribute the load of doing up and undoing, and will help to protect the knitting itself.

I think the make of a good project is one which motivates you to learn something new, and to then to use the skills you have been developing on the next project. This one definitely did that, and Toby looks so cute wearing it too!

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!

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 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.