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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Dazzling Toaster Two!

So many people have made things with this gorgeous Dazzle French Terry from Atelier Brunette. It’s the sort of fabric that until now, I haven’t dared to buy or sew with because along with being the most gloriously soft fabric, it is also the most expensive fabric I have ever cut into. I bought it with some Christmas money though, in the sale at Guthrie and Ghani, and it felt a bit more manageable.

IMG_2381Because the fabric is so special, I wanted to keep my pattern choice to something I knew I would love. My last Toaster Sweater was great. I used the #2 version which has a split hem and I love the extra length that I added, and the slightly swingy shape. This time though I decided to modify the neckline to more of a crew neck. I like wearing jumpers over shirts, and this neckline is a bit more comfortable and practical when wearing it like this.

IMG_2303The pattern modifications were super simple.  I based the shape on an existing ready to wear jumper, and traced the shape onto my pattern pieces.  I had to draft a new neckband, but that is just the same as doing it for any jersey t-shirt or dress.  Construction wise, these mods actually made it simpler, with just the mitred hem requiring a bit of extra care.

IMG_2324Everything else I keep as my last sweater. It is the fabric which makes this, not overcomplicating it with design.

IMG_2332.JPGThere is one detail that I’m pleased I spent a little extra time on. I went for gold coloured thread for my topstitching. It meant that my stitching needed to be extra beautiful and precise, but I think it does elevate this make and I’m glad I didn’t play it safe with navy thread.

IMG_2389This is the sort of fabric that you feel like saving every scrap.  I do have a small piece left over, though I think it is too small to make anything for me.  I might have to make a matching jumper for the baby instead!

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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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Sewing for special occasions – Bridgetown Backless Dress

This month I have loads of weddings to attend so my April project Sew My Style needed to be suitable for special occasions, and ideally something that I can wear afterwards too.

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This Sew House Seven pattern is a pretty good match for my sewing plan, and also happens to be the sew my style project for April- perfect timing!  It is the Bridgetown Backless Dress.  I like that from the front it looks quite modest, and all the excitement is in the back.  This is only the second Sew House Seven pattern that I have used- the first being my Toaster Sweater from January, but I found the instructions and pattern drafting spot on.

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The fabric is a viscose challis called freesia from Fabric Godmother. I spotted this fabric on Instagram and loved it right away. I have never used challis before, but I love the weight and drape.  I wasn’t sure if it was ok to wear black to a wedding, but I think the spring flowers on this make sure that it doesn’t look too sombre.

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It is the shiftiest thing that I have sewed so far!  I cut most pieces on a single layer which helped, and had a new blade for my rotary cutter.  The skirt pieces were cut on the fold and have ended up slightly off grain, but not so much you would notice!  I sewed up a size 4 in this pattern.  There is quite a bit of ease designed into the pattern to help it drape properly at the back.  The waist is brought in with elastic so it can fit perfectly.

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For the sewing, I used a new size 60 needle to help it pierce the fabric, but otherwise it behaved fairly well.  This fabric does catch and cause little runs, so I had to watch my pins carefully!  Like Emily from Self Assembly Required, I found the facing pieces to be too long, but it was very easy to trim them down to size.  I finished all the seams that needed it with a three thread overlock to keep things neat and tidy.

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The sizing has turned out well- the back drapes beautifully but without being too low cut. (I can still wear my usual bra). I do love being all dressed up for spring weddings!  This one was held in these fantastic gardens and by a lake, so it was too difficult to decide which pictures to include and which to leave out… I just couldn’t resist including a whole heap!

Toasty Toaster Sweater

Well here it is- my first contribution to the Sew My Style Project- the toaster sweater no.1.  Now I know that officially I was supposed to make version 2 (and I’m sure I will at some point), but work and college have been a little crazy this month, and I wanted yo be able to whip this up on the overlocker as fast as possible!

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Fabric-wise, both of these come from Fabric Godmother.  The patterned sleeve fabric was a remnant that I thought should be big enough for some colour-blocking.  They do have cut lengths back in stock now too.  The body, neck band and cuffs are this Ponte also from Fabric Godmother.

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In terms of the pattern, I wanted to keep things a simple as possible.  I wasn’t really sure about the high neck band and also didn’t plan my cutting out all that well so it ended up a little shorter.  I really like it though!  When up, the neck is super cosy, and I can also roll it down and wear it with a shirt.

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The fabrics were both lovely to work with.  The trickiest part was working out how to best use my 40cm remnant of the patterned jersey.  To make the most use of it I had to have the stretch running the wrong way on the sleeve, but it doesn’t seem to have affected the pattern much.  The sleeves are loose enough to be comfy and the stretch is the right way around on the cuffs anyway!

This was such a quick make.  Maybe 2 hours including cutting out.  I would love to make an even snugglier version with something a bit thicker.  I think next time I will lengthen the body about 2 inches too.  It’s not too short, just a little shorter than I usually would choose and I keep trying to pull it down.  Had lots of compliments when I wore it out today though.  I might also try switching the high neck for a neck band and having it more like a crew neck sweater.