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.)

IMG_20180922_120302496

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.

IMG_20180922_120629770

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!

IMG_20180922_120455721

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.

Advertisements

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:

Make 9

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.

Make 9 (2)

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.

Parkland_Menswear_Pattern_Collection-19_7608de3c-c2ec-4936-a453-9dded55e6c4d_1024x[1]

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.

71dMxHXi9IL[1]

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.

Taylor Trench- Planning and Materials

This is the first of several posts about my journey into sewing the Taylor Trench by Rebecca Page.  This is one of the plans from my make nine, so it feels good to be getting the materials ready for this more involved project.  So how do I approach a project like this? Here is how I have been getting started.

Pattern

While I love the instant nature and lack of tracing involved in PDF patterns, I don’t have the patience to stick together the millions of pages in more complex patterns!  I have been using netprinter to order my patterns printed on A0 with saves all the tedious cutting and sticking and means that I can get straight to the cutting out.  The pdf files for the Taylor Trench are layered, so you can save the pdf’s again with just the sizes you need visible and make life as simple as possible when it comes to the pattern preparations.

The Taylor trench has quite a few options with the pattern.  I will be making the shorted coat length and will definitely be adding the removable hood.  I will probably also use the back yoke piece, welt pockets, shoulder and sleeve tabs, but will omit the front yokes.  I am planning to add a buckle to my belt, rather than just tying it up.

line-drawing-2-1024x619[1]

Fabrics

I want this coat to be a real investment piece for me.  Something which will last for years, so I have been taking my time to choose some quality fabrics.  In rainy Devon, waterproof is a must, so I have selected some waxed cotton for my outer fabric.  This should give a balance of being pretty classy, and also practical on damp days out.  I managed to get some of last seasons colours of some British Millerian cotton in a beautiful vibrant red which should give me a high quality and long lasting finish.

I wanted this coat to be relatively warm too, so I’ve decided to quilt the lining with thinsulate, a bit like Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani’s Kelly Anorack.  I have ordered 2m of the thinsulate from Point North which should be plenty to have the hood and main body of the coat quilted with it as it is a full 1.5m wide.  I haven’t decided yet whether to quilt the sleeve lining or not.  I don’t want them to get too bulky, but I do want this coat to serve me all winter.  I will use un-quilted linings for the pockets and other odds and ends though.

For my lining I have chosen some lovely Liberty Tana Lawn from Abakhan.  I’m so glad that I did because it feels gorgeous and silky, but has the ease of working with cotton.  I managed to buy mine during their Christmas sale, so got 15% off the already fantastic £10/m so I snapped up Estella and Annabelle for just £8.50/m which is an absolute bargain!  I also got to use my birthday gift voucher from my parents on it, so it felt like even more of a treat, and I like that it picks up the red of the outer too.  I have the blue colourway, which they have now sold out of, but abakhan do have it still in green.

Notions

With a coat there are quite a few notions to be collected.  I have decided to go for silver fixings, because that should be easier to match, even when I am getting things from multiple sources.  I have ordered a few things, and have more in the planning.  So far I have:

Cord ends for the hood draw cord from eBay

Some drawstring cord, probably a neutral cream

A belt buckle, probably something like this

I am going to go for press fasteners everywhere, rather than buttons I think and will probably use Prym Anorak Snaps, because I already have a set of Vario Pliers for setting them

Small eyelets for the holes in the belt

I haven’t decided on thread yet, but will probably go with Gutermann threads in white and red because I know that they are great quality.

It seems to all be coming together pretty well.  I am planning to prewash the cotton lawn just to sort out any shrinkage and to keep it nice and soft, but I think I will leave the other fabrics unlaundered.  A coat is unlikely to be put through the washing machine once it is complete anyway.  I think that is as far as I have got, and I’m not quite sure when I am going to get to the cutting out stage because I have a few other projects to finish first but it is lovely to be planning away!

 

New year, new plans and a giveaway!

Last year, I began my blog with some new years plans. It’s been interesting to look back on them and my brand-new-never-read blog of last January! Last year I made two resolutions, firstly to try to follow project #sewmysyle, and secondly to blog weekly/fortnightly over the next year. So how did they go? Read on to the end for a one year on giveaway too.

Project #sewmystyle

I made 10 of the 12 projects over the year, and did finish all of them just about in time for the end of month reveal. The two I missed were the Hampshire trousers when I was really busy in October, and December’s Named clothing selection. Neither of these patterns seemed very pregnancy friendly which was part of what put me off, and life sometimes gets in the way! Some of the patterns have been huge successes, (I love both of my toaster sweaters and have just received some Atelier Brunette Dazzle for another one) and I did enjoy having new patterns and designers to try out. However, not all of the patterns worked for me, and 4 of the sewing projects that I made for project #sewmystyle ended up in my fails for the year. I think that some of the patterns just didn’t fit into my lifestyle, and I wasn’t always feeling brave enough to hack them so that they did. One of the more recent ones, the Anna dress I did hack though, and I love how it has turned out, so perhaps there is a lesson in that too.

IMG_1386

Blogging

This was such a venture into the unknown when I made this resolution. I had no idea how often I would want to take project photos, what I would write about or how it would work with the other commitments in my life. I have to say, I think it’s been a massive success! I have posted at least one blog post every week, and I’ve kept up with my self imposed Sunday posting schedule throughout deadlines, holidays and just busy life! I did manage a couple of mini series of midweek posts too, but found these harder to keep up with because they required a lot more planning in the writing and photography, and sadly some of the posts I had planned never got published.

IMG_1423

I have to say, a lot of it is down to having a very obliging photographer/husband, who has always been willing to go out for a quick walk at the weekend to get a few pictures, so big thanks to him! But I have also just enjoyed the creative process of writing, editing and sharing what I have been up to. The blog has grown in ways that I could never have predicted at the start of the year- I’ve written guest blogs for Minerva Crafts, tested patterns for Itch to Stitch and amazingly people have both followed and seem to enjoy what I have been up to! At the time of writing, the blog has had more than 2000 visitors this year, and nearly 5000 page views, so thank you everyone that has made me feel supported and part of this amazing sewing community! I appreciate every read, like and comment.

Resolutions 2018

Again life in the next year is going through a period of transition, and it’s hard to know how much time I will have to dedicate to sewing and blogging. My PGCE course is due to be completed in May almost completely coinciding with the due date of the bump. Who know how motherhood and baby will influence my sewing time, but I suspect it might need even better planning in the future. That said, I am setting myself some plans and targets for the year because then I can try to be ambitious in meeting them!

Sewing

Much as I enjoyed being part of project #sewmystyle last year, I’m not sure that it is the right direction for me this year. I think the projects might feel a little too constricting, especially if they aren’t going to fit me very well while I’m pregnant. I have signed up to the notification list though, so if something jumps out at me, I’m sure it will be added to my sewing queue. Instead, I’m going to be planning my projects a month or two in advance with a bit of wiggle room for extras to sneak in using notecards pinned to my sewing room pin board. Its a system which has worked well for me this year and I like the mixture of structure and freedom that it gives me. I’m going to be focussing on things which are practical and fit in with my lifestyle, and I’m sure a few baby projects will creep in too.

I am going to try to cut down on impulse fabric and pattern shopping by planning ahead. I know a lot of people used the ‘make 9’ to good effect last year so I think I might do something similar. I have a few patterns that I have chosen for the next couple of months which gives me 5 patterns that I have committed to, with 4 wildcards for buying new patterns this year. I’m going to try to keep it at that, with the only exceptions being if I buy a magazine with a pattern, undertake a pattern test or use some of my existing Seamwork credits on Seamwork or Colette Patterns.

The patterns I have chosen so far are:

Make 9

Rebecca Page Taylor Trench coat (inspired by Emma and her Machine), Sew Over It Lily Top, Seamwork Oslo Cardigan, a Paxton Sweater or two for Matt, and a Megan Nielson Amber top/dress.
Since drafting this post, I have used up one of my wildcards to buy two patterns for the baby. They are so small I am counting it as just one pattern, but I’m hopefully going to be making some cute Brindle and Twig Cuff Leggings and Raglan Tee’s!

I’m still going to be involved in guest blogging for Minerva Crafts (the next one is an exciting test of a new pre-publication copy of Wendy Ward’s latest book Sewing with knitted fabrics) and I hope to join in with other events and sewing community collaborations as they come along.

Blogging

I am going to keep to the same blogging schedule next year, committing to a post every Sunday, and occasional extras or other series during the week. I’m excited to keep seeing the blog grow so I would love you to keep sharing it with anyone you think might be interested in my ramblings, or feel free to follow me on Instagram and Facebook too.

My 1 year giveaway

It is just over 1 year since I published my first ever blog post and I wanted to celebrate with a giveaway! I have 2m of a lovely Girl Charlee Haccai Knit to give away. It is the same knit that I used recently in my Elmira cardigan and is a beautiful cream with little flecks of colour in it. I also have a few surprise extra goodies to give away including a couple of patterns (blame those lovely post Christmas sales)! All you have to do to be in with a chance to win is to comment with something you would like to see on the blog in the next year. It could be a type of garment post, a change of style, how to, or anything else you can think of. New year is all about new inspiration. I will announce the winner on Sunday 21st Feb, so the deadline is 8pm Friday 19th GMT. All entries have a chance to win, and I will do a random draw to decide the winner.

Good luck, and have a brilliant sewing year!

How do I store my patterns?

Today is a slightly different type of post.  Life is busy and it can be tricky to make and photograph things every week.  This week I thought I would share my pattern storage and a couple that I am looking forward to making up in the near future.

IMG_1923

I have collected quite a range of patterns over the last couple of years, including books, magazines and paper or pdf patterns.  I still refer back to Love at First Stitch which was my first introduction to dressmaking, but I have also gathered a few other books as inspiration including From Stitch to Style and Gerties Ultimate Dress Book.

IMG_1921

These folders contain most of my patterns.  They are just A4 popper wallets in various colours.  As my pattern collection has grown, I have definitely needed to get more organised to make it easy to find what I want.  The colour coding is the first part of that.  Different types of clothing are in different coloured wallets and then they are divided up even further into box files.

IMG_1922

The box files were just plain brown cardboard files, but I have used decoupage in pretty coloured papers to make them unique and more attractive.  The labels are just letter stickers.

IMG_1976.JPG

Each envelope just has an ordinary address label stuck on so that I can see which is which without pulling them all out.  Inside is usually the pattern illustration, sizing chart and the pattern pieces themselves.  I don’t usually print the instructions.  They are just kept in a folder on my computer and I use the digital copy as needed to save paper.

IMG_1972

The great thing about the folders is that I can also use them to start collecting notions for a project in, such as zips, buttons or threads.  For smaller patterns like tops, I can even put the cut out fabric in the envelope with the pattern until I am ready to sew with it.

IMG_1971

I do have a couple of other places that patterns get stored.  A few smaller patterns or templates like baby booties, bibs and an eye mask are kept in this ring binder in ordinary plastic wallets.  The patterns in here are mostly single pieces or so small that they don’t need a whole popper wallet to themselves!

Finally, these wicker hampers contain most of my printed patterns, particularly any that come free with magazines.  I think this is one place that I do need to do a bit of a sort out soon, because I think I have some patterns here that I have no intention of using.  Maybe I can find a pattern swap so that they can be of use to someone else.

IMG_1929

I hope you enjoyed that glimpse into my sewing room and perhaps some of the things that are on my to sew list!  Let me know in the comments if you would like more posts about things like this.  How do you store your patterns?

 

A night out with Archer

Some slightly different pictures today from a lovely evening out at an amazing little cinema in Swansea called Cinema and Co.  If you are in the area, it is definitely worth checking it out.  There was something very special being able to sit in a cinema on a sofa, eating pizza and drinking a glass of wine!

IMG_2534

And now on to my shirt!  This was my second Archer Shirt.  My first was a classic Archer and unfortunately is wearing out.  This one is the Grainline Popover variation, and is sized down for a slightly closer fit.  This one is a size 0, although my measurements would direct me to cut a size 4.

IMG_2551

I made a couple of tweaks to keep this very simple shirt unique.  The main shirt is a polycotton from Trago, but I used a contrasting floral cotton in a couple of places including the inner yoke collar stand and the cuffs.  I also used this tutorial from Grainline to change the pocket construction and make them a subtle feature too.

Archer (1)

Shirt making does seem quite a undertaking.  There are a lot of pattern pieces, buttonholes and processes, but it is well worth the effort.  Each stage is actually not difficult in itself, but I would advise taking it slowly.  There is also an excellent sewalong for the archer shirt on the Grainline website which is very helpful.

IMG_2557

I would say that there are a couple of fiddly parts to this shirt, simply because they need to fit together properly, and there is also quite a bit of accurate topstitching required.  In particular, the collar and plackets are sections to take your time over.

IMG_2581

If you are considering it, I would say that this was certainly not something to attempt as your first project, but if you are comfortable following pattern instructions, sewing straight and (fairly) accurate topstitching and have a few projects completed, then there is no reason that you couldn’t complete this pattern.  The instructions and drafting really are that good.

IMG_2589

I do love this shirt, though it is perhaps a little small over the bust.  I have plans for a couple more of the basic Archer shirts and I think I will size back up to the 4 for some extra wearing ease.

IMG_2586

 

MeMadeMay 2017- My Pledge

It’s a new year and new pledge for me.  Just in case you haven’t heard of Me Made May, it is the brainchild of Zoe at So Zo, what do you know, and involves dressmakers, knitters, and refashioners pledging to wear more of their handmade and altered clothing.  Everyone gets to set their own challenge for the month of May and if you like, you can share your progress on social media.  I’m hoping that quite a few of these beauties will be making an appearance.

I did participate in Me Made May for the first time last year and enjoyed it, but found it hard work getting pictures of what I had been up to.  This year I am going to be a bit more practical and pragmatic.  I wear a uniform to work, so it isn’t always practical to wear me-mades there (except perhaps some un-blogged underwear), so this is my pledge…

‘I, Naomi of Naomi Sews and @naomisewsnews, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item, at least two evenings a week and on weekends/bank holidays for the duration of May 2017.  I will also attempt to log my journey though may on Instagram.’

This month is also my submission date for my next unit from my PGCE so things may get a bit wonky mid-month, but I’m going to give it my best shot!  It might well be fun to have something else to think about and work on when I’m stressed and tired of reading academic papers!

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…

wp_20161229_11_13_56_pro

2017 is looking like a good year already!

Hello World

Well hello there! I’m Naomi and I’m looking forward to creating content for this blog. I hope that it will be a journey of sewing and discovery. I have been sewing a lot of my own clothes for about two years, and I wanted to start sharing what I had made and all that I am learning… Hence this blog. I’m not sure yet how often I will be posting, but I would like to aim for posting something new each week. That might be a new completed project, work in progress or just some style inspiration. Wish me luck!