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!

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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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Breastfeeding Friendly Layering

In the autumn and winter, I usually layer up long sleeved t-shirts, shirts and cardigans, but this year my clothing needs to be feeding friendly.  Currently none of my long sleeved t-shirts really facilitate that, so I’ve needed to come up with a pattern hack solution.  This top is my first attempt at creating a slim fitting layering t-shirt which I can feed in.

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I’ve hacked together the Megan Nielson Amber, with my usual layering top- the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes.  Both of these are tried and true patterns for me, with multiple iterations (For Amber see here and here, Agnes here and here).  I’m using the front bodice piece of the Amber, and the modesty panel, but I’ve raised the centre front on this panel about 5cm to keep me warmer.  Then I’ve attached it to part of the front bodice of the Agnes.

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For the back, I’ve mostly used the Agnes bodice, but tweaked the armscye to fit the Amber sleeve.   The sleeve has been slimmed down a bit too to make it fit under layers more easily.  This is how I’m most likely to we wearing it on an everyday basis- worn with jeans and an Archer Shirt.

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I’m pretty pleased with this as a first try.  I do have another hack in mind to try so hopefully I will be able to show you that one too soon.  Like Matt’s recent Metro tee, this is made with the Girl Charlee solid cotton spandex in Sage Green.

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I’ll be wearing this all winter I’m sure.  I’m really glad to be able to keep warm and cosy in my layers again!

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Bra Modification

This is another quick and practical project. I have made my own lingerie before (such as an unblogged Watson Bra and these Acacia Undies), but I didn’t really have the time or inclination this time around! Instead I bought this bra recently, though to be useful for everyday it needs to be nursing friendly so I decided to make the modifications myself.

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You can buy kits like this one to convert your bra, but I decided to just buy the clips and elastic that I needed separately.  First job is to measure the width of the current strap elastic to buy the right clip size, and unpick the elastic from the top of the cup.

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Once it’s been taken apart, the clips can be put into position and sewn up.

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Next job is to attach elastic from the strap clip to the bottom of the cup.  This stops you from losing your strap back over your shoulder when it is unclipped.

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In all, a pretty useful little modification.  It always feels good to do some sewing that will really get lots of use.  Now I really must get on with that graduation dress!

Double-duty Dressmaking

This post comes slightly out of sequence because it has just gone live today on the Minerva Crafts blog. When I was offered some of their John Kaldor jersey to test I thought that this floral pattern was just beautiful and the drape of the fabric is great. At the time of sewing, my sewing time was a little limited because I had assignments to finish so I decided to combine a couple of different plans to make maximum use of my limited time.

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This pattern is the maternity hack of the Sew Over It ultimate wrap dress, a pattern which was one of the first to make it onto this blog. Sew Over It provide instructions to hack the standard pattern pieces into an empire line so that is can be fitted around a bump. I also sized up to a 12, rather than the 8 I made before, as I’m hoping to be able to use this dress for nursing, and I’ve changed size at the bust too. The flutter sleeves are another hack, so look back to my post from Sunday to see what I did, and the tutorials that I found helpful.

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This dress is also my entry for this years #sewtogetherforsummer community challenge, which involves making any wrap dress. I participated last year with my Alex shirtdress, and I’ve enjoyed seeing all the different patterns, inspiration and lovely dresses that have been made.

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Anyway, to see the full blog post with all the construction details and final photo’s head over to the Minerva Crafts blog. I’m hoping to keep getting plenty of use out of this dress once baby arrives- hopefully it will be practical for throwing on when I don’t have time or energy to work out what to wear!

Sneaky early preview!

This week’s post will be arriving slightly later than normal because it is another collaboration with Minerva Crafts and is only due to publish on their website on Wednesday.  I’ve been so exited to share this make though because I really am loving wearing it in this more summery weather, and I feel very sophisticated in it!  Full details on the blog later this week, but for  now I’ll show you the bit of pattern hacking that I did to create these lovely flutter sleeves.

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This pattern started out as the Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress, one of the first patterns that I blogged about.  The dress has full length fitted sleeves- not very summery so I decided to make a few changes! Firstly, I worked out approximately how long I waned the sleeve to end up by holding it up against me, and I just traced off that much of the pattern.  There are some great tutorials online, and I followed this one on craftsy, and also found this one on sewing pattern review helpful.  You can see how the finished pattern piece looks very different to the initial one, but because none of the sleeve allowances or seam lengths have changed inserting it works exactly the same as before.

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I wanted to keep the sleeve looking light and airy so I didn’t want a heavy hem weighing it down.  It made it a great reason to use my overlocker’s rolled hem function which is much more dainty, and a very quick easy way of finishing a curve.  I think I will be using this sleeve hack again over the summer- the sleeves are just so lovely.  They aren’t restrictive or hot, but keep your shoulders covered when out in the sunshine!  Pop back on Wednesday to see the other changes that I made to this pattern.

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The joy of Tried and True

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

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

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

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

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

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Amber Dress

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Bodycon Agnes Dress

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

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

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

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

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

Maternity Modifications 2!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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