Lovely Lucia

This is actually the first thing that I managed to  sew after the arrival of little Toby, but it’s been waiting for the collaboration post on Minerva crafts to go live.  I decided to start off with something simple to ease into sewing in small doses- the Sew Over It Lucia.  This was made with some soft touch jersey from Minerva Crafts, so you can see the full blog post over here.

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I’m glad I chose something with so few pattern pieces.  This has just 3- a front/back, the sleeve and the frill.  Cutting out is my least favorite part of sewing so having just a couple of pieces let me get on with the sewing, rather than spending lots of time on the parts I don’t enjoy so much.  I think the finished top will serve me well into the autumn and winter too.

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It’s also great to be fitting some of my other clothes again! I’ve been wearing this top with my Moss skirt which will also be a good year long combo with tights and boots.

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Coming soon…

No new post today I’m afraid, but I do have a sneaky preview of a collaboration post coming on Tuesday.  This is actually the first bit of sewing that I did after Toby was born, so I’m glad that I chose something really simple.

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I do have some thoughts on sewing in a more limited time frame, so hopefully that will be a blog post on it’s way soon.  I have to say though, it is so lovely to have some time to just be me, rather than ‘mum’.

Perfect Penny

If you saw my previous ‘in progress’ post, you will already know a bit about my planning and design process for this dress. Now I’m ready to show off the finished outfit, all ready for graduation!

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I found the sewing up pretty easy having made my toile. You do have to be aware of the seam allowances though because there are a variety of different ones used in different areas. I’m glad that I added in a seam in the skirt to allow pockets in both side seams. I used the roomy pocket piece from the Helen’s Closet Winslow Culottes and they meant that I didn’t need to carry a bag.

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I made the executive decision to have the button plackets the wrong way around. The colours and patterns on the facings just seemed to flow more logically across the front of the bodice than when I put them the right way around.  I was also getting a little short of time when it came to putting in the buttons and buttonholes, and I didn’t really want to rush them so I went with snaps instead. These pretty pearly ones look quite like buttons anyway, and are nice and quick to undo to feed!

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Even though I didn’t have loads of time to put this together, I did take some time over the finishing. I french seamed the bodice seams to keep all the layers of fabric neatly enclosed.  I needed help to level the hem properly too because the waistline seems to be rising up slightly at the front.  I think it could be partly because my bust is a bit bigger than in the past and could do with a bit more room. I had to remove about 2″ at the centre back skirt before it hung level all the way around.

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Wearing this with my underskirt did work perfectly, and I will be able to wear the dress without it too next summer.

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I’m hoping this will be a dress which will get lots of wear, both dressed up for a wedding or two, and for everyday. It’s probably getting too cold for many more outings this year though.

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What circle skirt post could be complete without a bit of twirling.  This skirt did feel great to wear.  I would make another I think, though with my sewing time a bit limited it probably wont make it to the top of my sewing queue for a while.

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Speedy underskirt sewing

Hopefully by the time you are reading this, my penny dress will be finished and have been worn, but I thought I would share with you a quick sew that I put together to wear with it.  I decided not to line the skirt of my penny dress, and it is just about opaque enough to wear as it is, but the weather has turned cooler, and for graduation I will be wearing tights so I didn’t want the cotton skirt sticking to them.  My simple solution (which should also help me to stay warm) was to add a little slip or underskirt which will both add to the opacity and reduce the cling.  This skirt came together in less than one evening.  It helped that I had a couple of little tricks in mind to speed up the process.  It is constructed almost entirely on the overlocker so the seams are sewn and finished at the same time.  In fact the only time I needed to use my sewing machine was to sew the elastic waistband into a circle.

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This skirt is a basic 1/4 circle skirt.  I sized it large enough so that the waist would pull up past my hips which meant that I wouldn’t need any form of zip or closure.  I used the classic ‘pencil on a string’ trick to draw it onto my fabric, meaning no pattern to draft or trace out, and with a bit of basic maths a skirt is born!  (If you want to skip the maths, the By Hand London circle skirt calculator is great. Just make sure that you enter you hip measurement rather than your waist if you want to do it without a closure.)

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I also tried out a new finishing trick for hemming.  My Janome 6234XL can do a 2 two thread overlock which is great for adding a lace trim and tidying up the seamline.  It was the first time I had actually used it for a project (the only other time was at an get to ‘know your overlocker’ class at the Exeter Sewing Machine Company which I would highly recommend).  I was slightly surprised that my notes were sufficient to remind me what to do and how to get set up, but it turned out to be a very speedy way to achieve a hem (and we all know how huge a circle skirt hem can be!), which has the added bonus of being very attractive and decorative.

The waistband is just wide waistband elastic sewn into a circle, and then stretched to the same dimensions as the waist while it was sewn on.  I did it straight on the overlocker again which seems far quicker than using the sewing machine.  I think the whole thing probably took around an hour from cutting out to finishing, though it was done in a few small doses around baby feeds and dinner.  Definitely one of my speediest conceived and executed projects!

Penny in Progress

It feels like might just be the last person to try sewing a Sew Over It Penny dress, but it’s the pattern that I have picked out to make my dress to wear to graduation.  I have been planning this dress a while, and it is one of my make 9 plans so it feels good to be underway!  I chose to make it in this beautiful floral cotton lawn from Minerva Crafts.  They have a great selection, and I spent a long while narrowing it down and choosing.

It is slightly translucent, so I spent a long time deciding what to do about it.  I’m still not 100% decided on what to do with the skirt (I’m going to wait and see if it is opaque enough by itself, but I chose to underline the bodice with white cotton lawn.  I could have tried to do a proper lining, but with the construction of the Penny button placket (which is a bit unusual) I wasn’t quite sure how, and underlining doesn’t change any of the construction steps.  I just had to hand sew the lining and the outer fabrics together before beginning the pattern construction steps.  (It’s pretty similar to what I did to my wrap dress here.)

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To make sure that the dress was going to fit properly I did make a toile first from a couple of old bedsheets.  I didn’t bother with cutting and sewing the whole length of the skirt, so I just cut a shortened version.  It did help me to work out the construction process before I start sewing the real thing which was really useful as I did get a bit confused for a while with the collar and facings.  The method in the instructions does work, but did just baffle me for a while!  It also meant that I could make a few fitting tweaks for my actual dress.

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Because I’m still not back to my pre-baby shape and size, I thought it might be most flattering to have the waist seam and the elastic at my smallest point, which is still just below the bust, making my dress empire line.  to do that, I’m removing 2.5cm from the bodice length.  I’ve also decided to add in pockets to the skirt, so I cut the skirt as two pieces and added a seam allowance where it should be placed on the fold.  If you are going to make your own clothes, you might as well have everything that you want!

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That’s about as far as I have got so far.  I’ve finished stitching the underlining to the main fabric, and I’m hoping the construction will go together smoothly, having ironed out the confusion with my toile.  I have just over a week to get it put together so hopefully it will be enough!  I want to do it properly though, and pay attention to the quality of construction.  I don’t make many pretty dresses any more, so the ones I do need to be make to last.

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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Part year review

I figured that we are a good chunk through the year now, and it would be a useful exercise to see how I was getting on with my resolutions for the year, while I still have time to get back on track if it was all going awry. Amazingly, sewing-wise it seems to be going pretty well so far and I’m feeling fairly on track to achieve the things I was hoping to, despite feeling like a whale at the moment and waiting for baby to arrive! This is what my make nine plans looked like at the start of the year:

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Since then I have decided on, a couple of my wildcard patterns, and have also made up quite a few of these patterns too, some of them several times.

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So far I have completed my Lily Top, Oslo Cardigan, a Paxton Sweater for Matt, two Amber Tops and a Dress version, Brindle and Twig baby clothes, and have begun the planning and sewing for my Taylor Trench Coat. I’ve also chosen the Sew Over It Penny Dress to hack into a nursing dress with another of my wildcards. I’m thinking of buying the Thread Theory Jedediah Pants pattern for Matt to make some shorts this summer.

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Another of my plans was to be less impulsive with buying new fabric and patterns, and to use more of what is already in my stash. So far it has been a roaring success! I’ve not bought any new fabric so far this year except for my Trench Coat project, despite being very tempted at a couple of moments by various sales! It means that all the projects that I have been working on so far this year have come from stash fabrics, some of which I had forgotten even existed. I will need to buy some fabric soon for the Penny dress because I don’t have anything suitable stashed away, but I think I’ve done amazingly well to come so far without a single impulse fabric purchase.

Pattern-wise, my only purchases have been the Penny Dress, the Brindle and Twig Patterns, and I did get Tilly and the Button’s new book Stretch when I recently subscribed to Love Sewing again. Again, pretty restrained so far! Turns out I have quite a few patterns in my stash which can be hacked or modified to make some lovely and enjoyable sewing.

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So in terms of what I still have to do this year, it seems to be going ok! 5 of 9 of my make nine completed, one in progress, and another at the planning stage. Still two choices to make, but I’m starting to narrow down what they will be. Fabric and pattern buying under control, and I’m thinking I should do some more sorting out of my stash to give away some of the things which will never see the light of day otherwise. There are definitely some pieces which just don’t inspire me anymore, but might be just the thing for someone else. I would like to narrow down my stash so that it contains just fabric that I can’t wait to sew.

Lovely Lily

This is make number 4 from my make 9 plans- I really am rocketing along! It is a Sew Over It Lily Top, from Lisa’s new-ish maternity patterns. Surprisingly, there don’t seem to be that many of them made, because this is a versatile pattern for maternity and nursing, but it does look pretty cute just as non maternity wear too.

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This fabric is from my stash and has been there a while! I have no idea where it came from, or what the composition is, though I think there is some viscose in there. Whatever it is, it drapes beautifully, and feels really soft. The cream and blue pattern doesn’t need any attempt at pattern matching, and it a lot less harsh than a white background too.  I don’t always show the insides of my makes, but I decided to French seam as much as I could, and it does look much neater.

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I decided to lengthen the sleeve about 15cm to full length, and add a little cuff following a similar method to my pussy bow blouse. I want to be able to wear this now, while it is still a bit chilly, and I’m also aware that British spring/summer is quite often cooler than I always wish it would be! Full length sleeves mean that I can wear this now with a cardigan, but will hopefully wear it all summer too with just a vest top underneath.

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I am really pleased with how the cuffs turned out. I did interface them because I knew I was planning on putting in a proper buttonhole, rather than the rouleau loops used in the pussy bow blouse pattern.  When I was sewing it up, I deliberately left the cuffs long so that I could decide near the end exactly what size I wanted them to be.  I think the little keyhole is a nice feature, and I wanted the cuff to be long enough to (just) go over my wrist without needing to undo the buttons every time.

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These buttons are also from stash, and look pretty cute.  It doesn’t really photograph very well, but they have a lovely blueish sheen.

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I was a bit surprised that the instructions didn’t quite live up to the usually very high standard of Sew Over It. It felt like they hadn’t had a last proof read and had been rushed out. There were a couple of places where the sleeve variation instructions told you to jump to another number, but the number hadn’t actually been included, it had been left as stars. The instructions for the 3/4 sleeves never actually tell you to hem them, or what the hem allowance should be. Usually Sew Over It patterns are very professionally checked and tested so this did seem like an odd blip.  It didn’t bother me too much because I was changing up the pattern anyway, but a new sewer might find it very confusing.

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This top does look great.  It is a bit of a departure from my usually more fitted style, but I like the practicality of it and can see it getting lots of wear in the next year.  It does feel slightly tent-like, but I’m glad that he slim fitting sleeves help to balance that out.

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Top 5 Hits and Misses of 2017

It’s always good at the turning of the year to review, so I thought I’d go through my makes from this year with the benefit of hindsight and see which had been ultimate successes, and which hadn’t got as much use as I had hoped.  Reviewing makes like this does help to gain an overview of what sorts of projects did or didn’t work in my lifestyle, so I’ll be using that to start making my plans for next year too!

Top 5 Hits

Ginger Jeans

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I think my first attempt at jeans definitely was a highlight this year. They fitted great, the fabric choice was spot on and I felt justifiably proud with the result.  Sadly, because they are fitted and fairly high-waisted, they don’t fit over the bump any more, so I will have to wait a while before I can wear them again, but I have plans to make jeans again in the future and will just have to wait and see if I end up the same shape post baby or need to make some other fit adjustments to the next pair!

Archer Shirts

Maybe this is a cheat, because I actually made two archers, and mended another with some sashiko mending, but I love them all and they have been in regular wardrobe rotation all year.  I think I love most that they are so versatile.  The relaxed fit is spot on, and there is something so satisfying about the precision involved in shirt making.

Kwik Sew Coat

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The slightly oversized fit of this coat has been an unexpected bonus- I think I will fit into it for most of the winter, even as I grow!  That aside, I would change a few things next time I make a coat, but you have to start somewhere, and this project has given me the courage to try some other trickier and more involved sewing projects again in the future.

Flint Shorts

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No longer a weather appropriate option, but these flint shorts were all I wanted to wear on holiday this summer.  I felt put together in the cities, sufficiently cool to belong in Italy and they were comfortable and practical too.  The fabric might be one of my favorite parts of these, and was a lucky charity shop find.  One to make again next summer.

Men’s Metro Tees

Another multi garment pick, but these t-shirts have been a big success.  I don’t make much for anyone other than me, but these were worth the effort because Matt wears them all the time.

Top 5 Misses

Valley Blouse

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This top is one of those projects that just doesn’t quite materialise as you envisioned it.  I quite like all the components- fabric, buttons etc., but the pattern wasn’t the right choice for me.  There is more volume in the sleeves than is really my preference (it makes it really hard to wear with a cardigan), but maybe I can modify them at some point to slim them down and make this more ‘me’.

Pocket Skirt

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My first problem with this skirt is that the sizing from the pattern chart seemed to be a little off, so this skirt was much to big at the waist.  I was able to bring it is with the elastic at the back waistband, but I’m still not really sure about the fit or the length.  It doesn’t really get worn, and I don’t think I will be using the pattern again because there are other patterns which were simpler to construct and more successful for me.

Alex Shirtdress

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I think the problem with this Alex dress is the fabric/pattern combination.  The cotton is a little too stiff, and doesn’t drape well enough for me to feel comfortable in this dress.  It is all just a little too oversized, and the fabric emphasised that.  This one it savable thought I think, when I eventually get around t putting some darts in the back to take out some of the extra volume.

Saunio Cardigan

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There is nothing ‘wrong’ with this Saunio Cardigan exactly, except that it never makes it off the coat rack and out of the door.  I think it is the fact that it just doesn’t quite fit my lifestyle.  3/4 sleeves on a jacket aren’t sufficiently practical on Dartmoor.  If I want or need a coat or jacket, it needs to have full sleeves!

Virginia Leggings

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Not actually a disaster of pattern, or of lifestyle, but unfortunately this lycra couldn’t really stand up to running in these Virginia leggings and so some of the seams have started to split.  I have some other fabric in mind to give this another go at some point though, so definitely not a wasted pattern.