I made a coat!

This has to be my procrastination project.  I started this time last year, but was too scared to cut out my outer fabric so never really got started.  When the September Sewmystyle project came around I realised that this was the prefect moment to deviate slightly from the schedule and complete this coat rather than the Named Yona Coat.

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The pattern is Kwik Sew K4015.  The pattern envelope illustrations are perhaps not that inspiring, but I looked past this to see if I could create a relatively simple lined jacket.

I made very few changes to the pattern.  My coat is a straight size small, view B and was inspired by one made by Rosa of Sewn quite a while ago!  This is a size up from my measurements, but I wanted plenty of space to fit winter jumpers underneath.

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I added side seam pockets and a back stay for functionality and longevity.  The back stay should stop the fabric from stretching out at the shoulders and upper back over time, and mine is copied from Gertie’s in a firm cotton and was just machine basted onto the back piece before I began construction.

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The main fabric was bought online from Abakhan and is a wool acrylic. I didn’t want to splurge too much on a first coat when I wasn’t sure whether my skills were up to it, or if I would like it when I was done!  They seem to be out of the Navy colourway now, but still have the same fabric in black, pink or brown if you are interested.  It is quite loosely woven, so I did overlock all my pieces because I was scared that it would slowly unravel and fall apart behind the lining.  The lining/contrast fabric is a Rose and Hubble printed cotton with scissors on from Trago.  I didn’t have quite enough of this fabric for the inseam pockets (didn’t realise when shopping that this was quite a narrow bolt) so I just used some plain cotton calico for these.IMG_0429

The instructions were generally pretty good.  The only place I came unstuck was attaching the sleeve lining to the sleeve.  With hindsight I should have anticipated this problem, but the pattern appears to tell you to just sew the cuff seam while the coat is still inside out, before turning through the hole in the lining.  This resulted in a Mobius strip sleeve which was comical and impossible to wear!  Once I have unpicked my stitching, I turned the coat the right way out and matched the sleeve seam allowances up, before reaching through the hole in the lining to attach them in a more practical way!

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Before I stitched the lining closed I decided to add thread chains between the underarm of the lining and the coat, just to help keep these in place with a little room for movement.

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I was a little scared of putting buttonholes into this coat, especially with the fraying fabric so I decided to go for snaps.  These are Prym Anorak snaps and they have a slightly longer shaft than some of the lighter snaps I have used before.  This meant that they actually went through all the fairly bulky layers and seam allowances without any trouble, and my Vario Pliers were amazingly easy to set them in with.  Now they match the little eyelets for the hood draw cord too which seems fitting.

Once I stopped procrastinating, this was actually a very easy project, and I was so happy with how it came together.  The hood drawstring is functional, though I don’t think I will often need to bring it in.

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I like the contrast fabric on show in the patch pockets and hood.  It makes it feel personal and unique to me.  The sizing seems good.  I had plenty of room with a lighter weight jumper, and I think there will still be space for something thicker later on in the winter. And even in a heavy rain shower I stayed dry which was a definite bonus!

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I will be tempted to make this again. Probably not this winter, but perhaps in a year or so in a thick cotton twill or even waxed cotton or oilcloth.  I think if I did, I would add a channel and some elastic to give a bit more waist definition like Rosa did, but for now I am very happy with my first coat!

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Darling Ranges in Dawlish

I’ve had some fun this Bank Holiday Weekend, getting out and down to the seaside in my latest project Sew My Style pattern, the Darling Ranges dress by Megan Nielson.  This was perfect for a sunny Saturday because it is such an easy-breezy dress. I felt cool and comfortable even though it actually got pretty warm for a change!

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I sewed my version up in some viscose from my stash which has been there for about a year.  It is very lightweight and drapey which did make some of the cutting and sewing a challenge as it really wanted to shift around.  I have managed to mostly subdue it, though I can’t be certain that my hem is actually all the same length!

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I was also a little unsure while I was sewing that the viscose was going to be opaque enough, but having worn it for the day I am feeling sufficiently happy that the whole world can’t see my underwear!

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I sewed version 1, in a size XS and made no alterations.  I wasn’t sure how the fit was going to turn out, but it is actually pretty good.  The bust darts could do with shifting slightly on the next version, and the bodice side seam does pull forward sightly because I need a little more bust room, but nothing to make this unwearable. The placket does gape slightly between the first two buttons, which I fixed temporarily with a safety pin, but I am going to go back and insert a hidden button to keep it closed.

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The buttons are little flowers from my button stash too so I felt very smug sewing this without having to buy any fabric or notions.  I have no idea how I chose things like buttons before Instagram and the sewing community were around to help me out though.

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The dress does have options for ties at the back, which I have so far left off.  I quite like this looser silhouette, but it can be brought in a little with a belt too.  I think the loose shape it a bit more casual, but with a belt this could probably be dressed up, and may still make an appearance at a wedding at the end of September.

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The next project sew my style pattern is the Yona Coat, but I already have a part completed coat from last year which I am going to substitute in instead.  Seems a little mad in this last burst of summer weather to be thinking of working with wool and coats but that’s how it needs to be to be ready for the changing weather.  For now, I’m just happy to be in the sun for a little while longer.

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Valley Blouse

If you haven’t begun your Sew My Style project for July yet, learn from some of my difficulties and read this before you cut out the Valley Blouse!  Mine has come together ok, but not without some wrestling.  In particular, the keyhole section of the instructions could do with some further explanation.IMG_3140.JPG

There is a tutorial on the Califaye website to help with the sewing the keyhole, but I think that even before you get to that section, there is a potential pitfall, which you could avoid.  The cutting layouts show the ‘keyhole liner’ piece being cut on grain, but I would recommend cutting it on the bias. It is near impossible to get a piece of cotton with no stretch to conform neatly to a curve.  If it were cut on the bias, this would be much easier.  I ended up with a couple of small pleats at the middle of the liner when I tried to get all the edges enclosed.

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After my experience with the Basics Pocket Skirt, which was a little large, I decided to follow my instinct and cut the size small this time, even though my measurements put me in the medium.  This was definitely the right choice, because the fit is pretty much spot on.  There is enough ease to make it flowy, but without drowning me in fabric!

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This fabric is a cotton Swiss-dot, and is possibly slightly heavier weight than the pattern is intended for, because the gathers don’t drape as well as they could.  That said, it is very comfortable and perfect for summer.  The fabric is from Fabworks and is a lovely blue and grey combination, and at just £4/m it is another bargain!

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I used little hexagon shell buttons from my stash and made actual buttonholes.  I think that they are just great for setting of the simple pattern.

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In the pattern, it suggests that you use French seams for the sides and the back yoke which I did.  Just bear in mind, that with 1cm seam allowances, this does make your French seams very small and a little fiddly.

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I’m not sure about how full the sleeves are.  I might take the cuffs off, slim the sleeves down and then put the cuffs back on.  I do quite like them rolled up like this though.

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I followed the instructions fully this time and there are a couple of neat tricks for things like enclosing the front yoke seams.  This shouldn’t be too new to you if you have made a yoked shirt before, but take you time if not.  This is probably the most complex pattern from project sew my style so far, but it is still very manageable if you take it slow.

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More t-shirts! Briar and Molly

I have included two different patterns in this post today because I think they are quite similar and the pattern comparison might be interesting. (A full rundown on the two is coming shortly).  The Megan Nielson Briar is June’s project sew my style pattern and I just felt like I needed another Molly after making it! (See my previous versions here)

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Lets look at the Briar first.  This pattern has a cropped and full length version, and various sleeve lengths.  It also provides pattern pieces for both a neckline binding and a neck band.  I chose the longer length, short sleeves and decided to try out a neck binding for the first time.  The pattern is designed to be loose and swingy so I went with the smallest size.

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It all came together pretty well.  The pattern is well drafted and the instructions are very clear.  There are notches in the right place that all match up as they should.  My fabric did not make this the easiest of makes- it is a Girl Charlee cotton-rayon blend so it is drapey and light.  The stripes are actually wavy, not straight, so I decided not to worry too much about pattern matching.  Interestingly, despite the stripes having a wave, on one side seam they match almost perfectly.  They do also match at a couple of points on the other side, but not so well.  My only pattern placement decision was to put the cream stripe low down, rather than over my bra so that it wouldn’t be so see through!

Now that it is all sewn up, I like the length at the front, but I wonder if it is a bit too long at the back.  This pattern has quite an exaggerated high-low hemline.  I’m sure this will get worn quite a bit if the weather ever warms up again though!

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I had planned on making a white Briar to go with my Califaye Pocket Skirt, but I was not quite so sure about the long dipped hem tucked into a skirt.  I do like the optional pockets that come with the Briar top though and decided to use them on a tried and tested favourite t-shirt pattern- the Sew Over It Molly Top.  I thought the more subtle dipped front and back hem might be more versatile.  It is also really quick to sew, with only three pieces if you go for short sleeves.

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This fabric is also a Girl Charlee blend, this time cotton, rayon and modal, and it is heavenly to touch!  It cut and sewed beautifully and I am so glad I bought a couple of metres because I want all my t-shirts to feel this soft!

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I was feeling a little lazy when it came to hemming this t-shirt, and so I experimented with using my overlocker’s narrow rolled hem on jersey.  It isn’t perfect, but seems to have turned out fine, and if at some point in the future I get fed up of it, I can always turn it up later.

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I’m happy with how this has come out, and there is not really much more to say about a top that I have made many times before!  I’m sure there will be more…

 

 

Califaye Pocket Skirt

This simple skirt is my May offering for Project Sew My Style, and is from another new-to-me designer.  It is based on the Pocket Skirt by Califaye, but I have made quite a few tweaks along the way!

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First off, I used this tutorial by Mali to swap the patch pockets for slash front pockets.  Because I have made quite a few simple skirts before I didn’t really use the instructions provided with the pattern other than to skim through, and so I did change the construction order slightly.  Unlike some indie patterns, the instructions here don’t seem to be the simplest to follow, and there are only a few illustrations which might make this a bit tricky for a new dressmaker, even though a simple skirt should be very manageable.

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I used some linen from Fabric Godmother for my skirt which I bought at the same time as the challis from my Bridgetown Dress.  Unfortunately it is now out of stock, but I love that the random pattern means no need to match seams!  The linen was a little thick to gather smoothly especially where there were several layers of fabric around the pocket.  I think really I might have been better off with something a bit thinner, but the linen is beautiful and will be fantastic as the weather warms up.

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For such a simple garment this was not trouble free.  I cut a size M based on my measurements, but think I should have stuck with my instinct and cut a small.  I had to use the elastic in the back waistband to cinch it in to fit.  That has made the back of the skirt a bit more gathered than it should be and I’m not sure how flattering it is.  Perhaps after a few washings the linen will soften up.

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I was also not very sure about the length! I have used the 5cm hem as directed in the pattern, but I think it might be making the skirt a little too short.  I ended up wearing it just below my natural waist to take these pictures to get the length that I felt comfortable in, but I’m not sure that that flatters my figure either. Maybe I just need to lower the hem a bit!

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I decided to add a contrast exposed zip to jazz the skirt up a little as it is such a simple shape.  I think I might use the next Sew My Style project (the Briar top by Megan Nielson) to make a simple white t-shirt to wear with this.  I already have some modal cotton jersey from Girl Charlee which should be really soft and lovely for this.  Definitely looking forward to the summer sewing!

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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!

Virginia Leggings

Here is the March installment of Project Sew My Style; some Virginia Leggings by Megan Nielson.  I wasn’t quite sure which size to cut as I have sometimes found in the past that their patterns come up a little small, but I cut a size S  in the petite length, and hoped that my fabric would be stretchy enough to overcome any slight fitting issues!

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The fabric that I used was a remnant from Fabric Godmother, which is now out of stock, but they do appear to have something similar here.  It is a crazy orange snakeskin textured spandex!  It is printed on a white background, and is a tiny bit thinner than I had hoped, but my leggings are going to be the most exciting running-ware in town!

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Having just two pattern pieces, these sewed up extremely quickly, and the instructions were simple to follow.  I should have adjusted my overlocker tension a little or used a more similar thread colour, because you can see the white thread on the seams that are slightly under tension.  I did succeed in getting my hems to match though, using the most exciting two coloured twin-needling I think I have ever done!

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The pattern suggests using 1″ elastic, but I only had 1.5″ and it just fit the channel.  This has resulted in a lovely firm waistband which feels very secure.  If I made these for running again I would widen the waistband some more to match the styling on some of my ready to wear pairs, but for everyday leggings the fit is probably perfect as it is.

As they are not designed as running leggings, I have found them to be a little restrictive around my lower legs when running, but nothing too troubling.  It does try to pull them down a little though! I think perhaps sizing up a little might have solved this problem too.

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Overall, I am really pleased with these! They are so different to the colours and patterns that I usually wear, but I do enjoy a more vibrant print in my workout clothes- if they are exciting to look at I am more likely to put them on!

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Sadly, my fears about the fabric were well founded, while it was stretchy enough, at the seams it is so thin that it has started to tear.  I don’t think that these will last very long, but they have at least shown me that it is possible to make my own, and I am going to be looking for some more suitable fabric sometime soon.  If anyone has any recommendations, please let me know.

Saunio Cardigan, spring jacket

The Saunio Cardigan from Named Clothing  is pattern two from project sew my style, and is one of the patterns that I was less sure about, so didn’t want to invest too much time or money into something I wasn’t sure I would wear. It has turned out ok though, and while it isn’t quite my usual style I an see myself wearing this during spring as a lightweight jacket.

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The size range of each size is quite big. I made up the smallest size and found it a bit bulky so I pinched out 1.5 inches at each side seam and re-sewed them.  I do tend to prefer close fitting to oversized clothing though. An alternative would be to add a belt and belt loops like Jess at Little Miss Lorraine.

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The fabric that I used was from eBay. It does feel pretty synthetic and polyester, but it seemed like a good option for something I wasn’t sure how much I would wear. It is a slightly quilted jersey and it is both warm and stretchy.

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The sewing of this pattern was generally pretty simple. Like the Toaster Sweater it is very quick to put together.  The only point I got a little confused was attaching the facing to the jacket, but the illustrations were good and it is a very clever, neat finish.

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I did have a couple of problems with my fabric. Because it was quilted it was made up of several layers and they did shift and stretch a little when topstitching.  When added to not grading my seams enough at the bottom of the facing I have ended up with quite a bit of bulk here.

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I did a second row of topstitching to try to flatten it down a little which has partially worked, but I think I should have just used my walking foot to avoid the problem completely! I have made the executive decision to have the jacket cross over the wrong way too conceal the bulk!

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The instructions for the Saunio Cardigan don’t include fastenings. My quilted fabric is a little bulky to drape properly at the front, and I like to be able to do up my cardigans, so I have added a couple of snaps and a hook and eye to give me some options for wearing it closed.

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All in all, it is not a pattern that I would have chosen for myself, but I did enjoy using a pattern from a new designer. The instructions from Named Clothing were really good and well thought through, and I think I will enjoy wearing this as the weather begins to warm up instead of a proper coat.

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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.

New Year Sewing Plans

New Year is a great time or making plans.  This year I have a couple of sewing related resolutions to share!

1. Project Sew My Style

Project Sew My Style - What is it?

This is a first for me, signing up to a sewing community collective project, but I am really looking forward to it.  The concept is simple- 12 sewing patterns have been selected, one or each month.  Everyone sews them up and shares their makes via Instagram.  Find out more here.

Not all of the projects are things I would usually be drawn to, but I’m going to give them a try.  I am looking forward to this month’s make the Sew House 7 Toaster Sweater.  Both versions look so cozy.  And I love Megan Nielson Patterns so the Virginia Leggings and Darling Ranges Dress both look like fun.

The Toaster Sweaters (PDF or Paper)

To see the rest of the pattern selections and the timeline head over to bluebird fabrics here.

2. Blogging weekly/fortnightly

Still not sure how this will work out with college and work going on in the background, but I do have a couple of things made and photographed ready to blog.  Still learning my way around WordPress though!  I do have the best of intentions and I am excited about sharing my makes with the world.  Here is a sneak peek of the next blog post to come along…

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2017 is looking like a good year already!