Sashiko Mending Archer

This is my first ever Grainline Archer.  I have since shared a few more recent versions, but this first one has always been a favourite.  I meticulously pattern matched the plaid across the front, learned how to attach a collar and install plackets, and even inserted my first snaps.

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Favorite, that is until a hole appeared right where the button placket meets the front piece.

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I deliberated for ages about what to do.  I didn’t want to just throw away something that represented a lot of hard work and some fairly major achievements, but I also didn’t know how to mend it in such a way that I would be happy with the end result.  And I really didn’t want to have to do loads of unpicking to sort it out!

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I have come across Sashiko a few times before, often as a piece of decorative art, or sometimes as a means of mending the knees of worn jeans, but only recently did it occur to me that this might be the way to salvage my much loved shirt!  I did still have some of the fabric from the original shirt left, so this felt like a logical place to begin my mending journey.  I took a large rectangle, overlocked all the edges and pinned it in place behind the hole.

Next I chose a complimentary embroidery thread.  I wanted something that toned in with the colours in the shirt, but I also wanted to embrace the fact that this mending was going to be visible, and I could be proud of that!  This seemed like a good compromise.

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Because the shirt already has such a strong geometric pattern, I decided that there was no need for complex embroidery shapes.  Sticking with the grid of the plaid would help keep my stitches even and straight anyway so no need for guide lines.

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Sashiko mending is designed to reinforce the fabric, anchoring it to a solid base, but I think I may still have to be a little careful when using the poppers that I don’t put unnecessary strain on the fabric.  I think it looks pretty cool, and now I can wear my Archer shirt again with pride, knowing that it is even more unique and special than before.  Embrace the uniqueness and the mending.

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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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More Metro tees and Rooftop Milan

Perhaps not the most exciting post because these are more of the Men’s Metro Tee by Liesl and Co. (See my previous versions here), but you can tell a pattern is a good one when you just keep making more!

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All these fabrics are from Girl Charlee, who are just the most brilliant online shop for jerseys.  I bought a whole load when they last had a discount, so there are other jersey projects in the pipeline!  The ones I chose for Matt were a heather grey cotton spandex, motorcycles on grey cotton and a monochrome triangle cotton jersey.  I also got some darker charcoal grey baby rib for contrast.

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For one of these t-shirts, I kept it very simple with the heather grey jersey, but didn’t want it to bee too boring!  I used the charcoal grey rib for the neckband and found it very stretchy so I did remove a little extra length.

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Then to co-ordinate, I drafted a very simple band for the sleeve hem.  This does make hemming the sleeve very simple, and the sleeves in this version are slightly longer too.

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The motorbike version and the triangles are just exactly as drafted in the pattern.  Sometimes the simple ones are the best!

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So this post is also a great opportunity to show of some lovely views.  Standing on the roof of the Duomo in Milan (as in the picture above) was a pretty surreal moment.

My Sewing Room Tour!

When this post is published, I will still be in Italy, hopefully enjoying the sunshine and the mountains.  This is something a little different so that you don’t get sad and miss me… a tour of my sewing room!

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My sewing room is quite a small space, and does get quite dark so lighting is really important.  I have a great spotlight and diffuse light combo to help brighten up my desk, and I have tried to keep the colours fairly light and bright.  It is also filled with things to inspire me and so that I just enjoy being in the space.

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I have tried to keep the room as practical and user friendly as possible.  All the things that I am most likely to need as I sew I can reach from my chair.  In particular the shelf above my sewing machine contains useful odds and ends.  And don’t those button jars just look lovely!

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The beautiful wooden box is one that my grandma picked up for me in a charity shop, filled with sewing supplies and embroidery thread skeins.  Now I use it to keep all my elastics and fusible tapes neat and tidy.  This tray contains all my most essential tools and is perfectly within arms reach.

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The desk does have to be kept fairly tidy because it is also my cutting out space.  I have a couple of big cutting mats, and I usually use a rotary cutter to make pattern prep as easy as possible.  I keep my most essential reference books on the desk easy to grab, including my instruction manuals and Overlocker Technique Manual.  One of my favorite books though is the Maker’s Workbook, which does contain details of the fabrics, pattern alterations and my verdicts of all the projects that I have sewn this year.

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I am very fortunate to have enough space to keep my ironing board set up full time.  Makes pressing seams easy and convenient to do as I go along.  The unit in the corner contains a whole range of other craft items including knitting an wool, paper-craft and general stationary.

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My fabric lives in these cubes/drawers which are from Ikea and the unit also serves as my pattern and reference book library.  You can see more about how I store my patterns in my post from a couple of weeks back.

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You have to love color co-ordination and beautiful threads!

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I used to do quite a bit of cross stitch, and these birds still make me smile.

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I’ve even been trying to be more intentional about my plans, and having them there on the wall for me to see the whole time is really useful.

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What do you think of my sewing space?  It is definitely my happy place, and exactly where I love to me!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

 

Button Back Blouse, It’s winning me around!

 

Although I was going to label this a sewing fail, I am being won over!  I made this Tilly and the Buttons button back blouse from an issue of love sewing over a year ago.  It is well finished with French seams, but I never wore it when it was newly finished.  Lets have a look at the details to find out why!

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I believe this is quite similar to the TATB Mathilde Blouse, just without the pin tucks if you want to be able to recreate it. It has a yoke seam, which I very carefully added piping into.

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So why have I not been wearing it?  I think it comes down to two things- personal style and fit.  Those puffed sleeves are cute, but don’t fit with my usual style because I can’t wear a cardigan.  In terms of fit, the key problem is at the back.

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I think I have a quite narrow upper back.  I often have to take in quite a bit at the centre back and by the time I realised there was a problem in this top the button placket was finished and it seemed too fiddly.  It also feels like the shoulder seam is slightly in the wrong place.  This may also be because I need a full bust adjustment, and this is pulling the back and shoulder seam out of place.

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So why, when I wore it out for these pictures did I start reconsidering my plans to take it to the charity shop.  I think it is a combination of the style being perfect for the current weather, and a great combination of fabric and pattern!  Some of the things that I didn’t like about the pattern, are actually what is making it so perfect.  The longer sleeves keep it breezy and cool, but mean that I don’t need a cardigan, even into the evening.  The fabric (sadly no longer available at Minerva Crafts) is a lovely cotton chambray and just a fantastic weight and drape.  The contrast piping and buttons lighten it up and the splash of coral is great for spring.

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Perhaps I will have to give this a second chance!

Simple skirt in the sunshine! Meet Clemence.

I love wearing skirts in the summer, so this simple gathered cotton skirt seemed perfect for visiting the bluebells for an evening picnic.  The skirt is another from Tilly and the Buttons’ first book, Love at first Stitch and is a very beginner friendly gathered rectangle skirt called Clemence.  The book guides you though drafting this basic pattern for yourself, which is a good place to start with pattern drafting and alterations, because Tilly’s instructions are as always excellent.

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This is actually the second of these skirts that I made, and is actually another early make.  For this second skirt I got a little more ambitious and drafted an un-gathered lining, made from an old sheet because the main fabric is a little transparent!

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As always, I also needed pockets.  The book talks you through making changes to the all the patterns, like including pockets in the or restyling the patterns to get a couple of different looks.

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I also decided to experiment with some of the decorative stitches on my machine to create an attractive pattern at the hem.

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It even has an concealed zip.  I keep returning to Tilly’s instructions for reassurance when I need to insert one still!  This one is actually pretty invisible and well matched.

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While this skirt has been in my wardrobe for over two years now, and my skills have undoubtedly improved, I still enjoy wearing these earlier makes.  I enjoy seeing how much I have learned and developed, but also it is satisfying to know that I am contributing to a clothing ethic that doesn’t view an item of clothing as something to wear once and discard.  For every year that I keep wearing these simple early makes I can sit happy knowing that I am reducing my impact on the planet and the disposable fast fashion culture.

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As a little bonus, I did also manage to find a picture of my first Clemence skirt from Me Made May Last year!  It is made in a mint green chambray from Calico Laine I think.  This one did have a couple of issues including being a bit big at the waist.  Fortunately/unfortunately the zip broke pretty quickly, so when I replaced it, I also sorted out the waist sizing, so this one is also in spring/summer wardrobe rotation.

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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!

Matt’s Waistcoat

My husband has a real fascination with maps. We have some really cool ones displayed on out walls at home, and a whole box of Ordinance Survey maps of various wild parts of the UK for walking with.  When we were invited to a wedding and one of his friends suggested wearing fancy waistcoats, Matt naturally wanted his to be lined with map fabric.

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We chose the fabrics together, opting for cotton twill from Trago for the outside and some map print cotton for the inside.  This was the first time I had sewn anything for Matt and I didn’t want to disappoint, so I was a little nervous, but this came together beautifully.

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The pattern is Kwik Sew K3662 and I ordered the findings (buttons and a waistcoat buckle) from Calico Laine.  The buttons are metal self covered buttons to perfectly match the outer fabric.

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One of the scary things about this waistcoat was that the first steps involved sewing my first ever welt pockets.  I did sew a single practice pocket to check that I understood the instructions and then dived right in.  I don’t know why I was so worried- it was no-where near as difficult as I had imagined. I think I was just the thought of having to cut into my carefully cut pattern pieces that made it a bit nerve-wracking.

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This pattern is a bit mind boggling in the way that it all comes together. I did just have to trust the instructions, and it worked absolutely fine.  It is a bit worrying though when you have to turn most of the project though the shoulder seam!

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It was definitely fun to be on the camera end of the photos for a change- Matt has been channelling his best model poses for you though!  I think we might just have to get him in again sometime.

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English Tea Dress

This week I have another ‘back in time’ post to show you the first ever dress that I lined, the English Tea Dress, by Simple Sew.   I made this dress about a year ago to wear to a spring wedding, and it has found another wedding outing now!  This pattern was free with a magazine, which is something I still enjoy indulging in.  You can get so much inspiration in fabric, style and patterns all in one place.

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I am very proud of this dress. It is not perfect, but not in any way that you would really notice without me pointing it out.  I had to do quite a lot of research and working out to finish the construction, because although there were pattern pieces included for this cap sleeve, there were no instructions about how to insert and finish it, and at the time I had only ever constructed sleeves that were completely set into the armscye.  I found a tutorial online from After Dark Sewing which was really helpful and used it to finish the sleeves with bias binding.

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I am pretty pleased with this invisible zip.  Not quite invisible, but I did manage to get it neatly concealed between the fabric and the lining.  There weren’t separate pattern pieces for the lining included, but my lawn was a bit too thin to just use alone, so I created my own pattern piece for the bodice lining.  I think I used Tilly’s tutorial on how to line a skirt to help work out the construction process.

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This dress is definitely ‘before overlocker’ so the seams are just pressed open and zig-zagged and the hem is a narrow turned hem.  This dress is made in a lovely soft cotton lawn which I think was from Calico Laine, though it is so long ago it is no longer in stock, and lined in a basic polyester lining fabric from Trago.  The fabric is a little busy to show off the unusual shaped bodice, which comes to a ‘v’ at the centre front.

As you can see, this dress is still wedding ready, and I had a lovely time dancing the night away in it!  I’m hoping that it will continue to have wedding outings for some time to come (and in the meantime, I would like the sun to come back so that I can wear it for everyday).

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