Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Winslow culottes & Gable top

How's 2018 going for you so far? It's not been too shabby for me, and I've got a couple of projects finished and ready to share with you today. I decided to kick off this year's sewing with a couple of tried and tested patterns to get things off to a guaranteed good start. So here are my latest versions of the Jennifer Lauren Gable top and the Helen's Closet Winslow culottes...

I've really enjoyed wearing Gable tops and dresses this autumn/winter, which in part was prompted by spending a week wearing them for OWOP at the end of last year, and I knew that another one would definitely fit in well to my wardrobe. This one is made using some lovely Cotton and Steel jersey that I bought from Sew Me Sunshine. It's on the pricey side for my fabric buying budget, but sometimes it's worth splashing out for something that you know you're going to love sewing and wearing. 

Gable top worn with my Freja dress and a Pink Coat Club Seamstress pin

I haven't made any changes since I sewed my first Gable top, so all the details in that blog post still apply (I've just noticed that I said in that post that I might slim down the sleeves - I haven't subsequently felt any need to do that!).

Now onto the Winslow culottes (and I'm sorry, I had to cover the Gable top up with my purple cardigan - it was just too chilly without it!). My original cord Winslow culottes were a bit of an experiment, but happily that experiment had a very successful outcome and I wear them fairly frequently in autumn/winter. One of the main benefits being that culottes are much less prone to (although not always immune from!) blowing up in the wind than all my full skirts!

This version is sewn using some beautiful aqua babycord from SewLoco (a fairly new UK-based online fabric shop - check out the lovely fabrics that Lucy has available if you haven't already!).

I made a slight change to the pattern for this version of the Winslow culottes. After the problems I had with the invisible zip on my first cord Winslows, this time I decided to split the waistband piece into two (in the pattern, the waistband is folded over on itself to create the facing). I then cut the waistband itself in the babycord and cut the second waistband piece in some Tana lawn (left over from making my Vogue 9239 dress last summer) to use as the facing. 

Doing this reduced the bulk at the waistband seam, and meant that using an invisible zip was no problem. While there's nothing wrong with the regular zip I used in my navy culottes to get round the waistband bulk problem, I do prefer the look of the invisible zip that I've used here.

So all in all, I think I can safely say that this year's sewing has started successfully. I know that both my Gable top and my Winslow culottes will be worn a lot, and it's an added bonus that they look pretty good together! How's your sewing been going lately?

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

The Last Sewing of 2017 & Plans for 2018

Happy New Year! I hope that 2018 is off to a good start for you, and that you had a lovely festive period before that if you were celebrating. Before Christmas becomes too much of a distant memory, I thought I'd pop by to share some of the presents that I sewed for my family, and also talk about some of my crafty plans for the next 12 months.

First up we have a couple of dresses for my little niece. I used patterns from Puperita for both of these. The one on the left is the Duckie dress, but without the front pocket and shortened so that it's more of a long top/tunic length for wearing with leggings. On the right is a pinafore dress, which is reversible (the other side is some aqua blue needlecord). I shortened this dress as well - it's still pretty much knee length on my niece (who's 1 and average height), but I cut it at the 3 month length instead of 12 months so you might want to check the length if you're using this pattern - it would have been really long if I'd used the 12 month length. Other than that, these patterns were both really nice to sew and I'm sure I'll be using them again in the future.

For my nephew, I made a pair of pyjamas. He loves vehicles of any kind, so this jersey from Fabrics Galore went down well with him! The pattern I used is New Look 6237. I've made both the trousers/shorts and t-shirt separately for my nephew before so I was familiar with the pattern and could stitch it up fairly quickly - always good when there are lots of presents to make!

Continuing on the pyjama theme, I made a pair of pyjama trousers for my sister-in-law using some spotty jersey from Maud's Fabric Finds. I used Simplicity 2116, the same pattern as when I made a whole stack of pyjama trousers last Christmas. These trousers came in handy for my sister-in-law to change into after we got drenched in pouring rain on a Christmas afternoon walk!

For my sister, I whipped up a New Look 6217 top. This one really looks a lot better when worn than when on the hanger, but I didn't get a chance to get a photo of my sister modelling it. If you want to get an idea of what it looks like on, I made three different versions of this back in 2016 - the blog post is here. The viscose I used this time was from Sew Over It, but it doesn't seem to be in stock anymore unfortunately.

Lastly, I made a Tilly & the Buttons Françoise dress for my mum. Helpfully, my mum is a similar size to me so she she could try on my stripey Françoise dress, which meant that I didn't have to worry that it wouldn't fit. The fabric for this one is a dogtooth ponte roma from Sew Essential - it's really nice quality and perfect for this pattern. I really love the Françoise made in ponte roma; it means that the dress is super comfy, but it can also look quite smart at the same time.

Now that we've got last year's sewing out of the way, let's talk a little bit about some of my plans for 2018 - here's my #2018makenine list:

1. Closet Case Carolyn Pyjamas - these were on my Make Nine list last year, but I didn't quite get time to make them. Hopefully I'll be able to put that right this year!

2. Finish my scrappy hexagon quilt - another project carried over from 2017! I made good progress last year, so hopefully I will actually be able to finish it this year.

3. Vogue 8577 - another one that's been in my stash for a while and needs to be used!

4. Cloth Habit Watson Bra - I've got a bra making kit waiting to be used and plenty of knit scraps, so there's no excuse not to give this a try.

5. Butterick 6446 - I've got a wedding to go to later in the year, and I think a maxi version of this could be fun to make for that.

6. Knickers! This is the free Megan Nielsen Acacia pattern. See previous comment about knit scraps!

7. Lovely cardigan by Kim Hargreaves - way more cables than I've knit in one project before, so this could be a challenge.

8. Wainthropp cardigan by Andi Satterlund - I struggled with the only other cardigan I've knit seamlessly because it seemed to make my wrists hurt, but I love pretty much all of Andi Satterlund's designs and I've altered how I knit in the past year (I used to knit in a particularly awkward self-developed manner!) so I'm going to give it another try and hope it goes better this time.

9. Colourwork yoke sweater from Simply Crochet magazine issue 66 - I've never done any crochet colourwork before so this might be a bit ambitious, but you don't know if you don't try!

So there we go! I may have bitten off more than I can chew (with number 9 in particular), but at the moment I'm excited to give them all a go. Have you got any exciting plans for 2018?

Saturday, 2 December 2017

OWOP 2017: The Jennifer Lauren Gable Top/Dress

If you're part of the sewing community on Instagram, then you're probably well aware that One Week One Pattern, or OWOP, has been happening over the last week, this time hosted by Sheona of Sewisfaction.

Day 1 - Anchor print dress with a knitted cardi (blogged here)
For the uninitiated, it's a fairly simple challenge - you just pick a pattern and wear a version of it every day for a week. It could be all different versions or the same garment styled differently for 7 days (if you're better at not spilling things on yourself than I am!).

Day 2 - Gable top in Art Gallery jersey with my corduroy Winslow culottes, and my Turin cardigan
I had fun taking part in the OWOP a couple of years ago (when my hair was much shorter!), so I decided to sign up again. The obvious pattern for me to pick would have been the Emery dress; even discounting very summery versions, I've got enough that I could have worn a different one every day so the challenge would have been fairly easy. However, I decided that it would be more interesting to pick something different so I went with the Jennifer Lauren Gable top and dress.

Blue ponte Gable dress with beads, brooch and very red tights!
I really love the Gable top/dress at this time of year - as it's a knit pattern it's super comfy to wear, and, while I know some people aren't fans of the fairly high slash neckline, I find that it helps to make me feel cosier than patterns with lower necks. Plus it also gave me the benefit of having both tops and dresses to play with over the week.

Pink Gable top, with a denim Veronika skirt and teal cardigan
Gable is also a simple pattern to sew, which meant that I had time to squeeze in a new version (the navy anchor print dress I wore on days 1 and 6) to add to my collection before OWOP started. If you're interested in more of my thoughts on the pattern itself, I blogged about my first Gable top here, and my blue ponte Gable dress here.

Gable top with my Freja dress
I had four Gables at my disposal - 2 dresses and 2 tops - and I found it really easy to wear one of them every day for the week. That's definitely helped by the fact that 3 of them are shades of blue, which is pretty much a neutral colour in my wardrobe so there were plenty of options for me when it came to putting an outfit together every morning.

Anchor print dress with my Toaster sweater
As it's been on the chilly side (by the standards of southern England anyway!) this week, so I was glad to be wearing knit garments (they just always seem warmer to me), and to be able to combine them with my knitted cardigans, or my crochet shawl on the last day.

Blue ponte Gable dress with my crochet flowers shawl
I really enjoyed participating in OWOP again this year. Putting on one of my Gables every morning didn't feel like too much of a constraint, and it didn't get boring - in some ways it actually make getting dressed easier because I couldn't be indecisive! I definitely don't think these four versions of the Gable are the last ones you'll see from me either - there's room for more of both the top and dress versions in my wardrobe. It's also been really interesting to take part in the challenge on Instagram and to see how other people have styled the various patterns that they chose. Thanks to all the sponsors, and of course an even bigger thank you to Sheona of Sewisfaction for hosting OWOP this year.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Knitting: Cable Edge Garter Stitch Shawl

I mentioned in my last post that knitting had been keeping me calm and fulfilling my need to create while I was moving house. Well, today's project is the result of all that knitting. I'd cast it on a couple of months ago, then it got a bit overlooked for a while in favour of the excitement of my first socks, but I picked it back up again when I needed something simple and relaxing to work on.

This little shawl is the cable edge garter stitch shawl from the February 2017 issue of Knitting Magazine. It's a really simple pattern; as the name would suggest, it's mainly garter stitch with a very simple cable down one edge, an eyelet row down the other and an optional cable bind off. Once I'd worked the first few rows and had got the pattern established, this was a nice easy project - good TV knitting!

While the pattern is simple, there is something a bit odd about the instructions. The stitches are gradually increased, and you're meant to end up with 170 stitches. I'd come to the end of the wool called for by the pattern by the time I'd got to 132 stitches and, with the way the stitches are increased, that's a massive number of rows away from reaching 170 (I'm not the only one who's had this problem). I had some of the same wool left from knitting a hat for my sister last year, so I used a bit of that to make my shawl a bit longer. I only knit a few inches extra and cast off when I was at 142 stitches but, after blocking, the dimensions of my shawl are roughly the same as the ones in the pattern.

I used the optional cable bind off but, if I were knitting this again (I'm not ruling that out), I probably wouldn't bother and just use a simple bind off instead. I'm not sure whether I did something wrong (always possible), but the cables just don't really stand out as well on the bind off as they do on the edge of the shawl and just look a bit "blah" (you can kind of see this in the photo below if you look at the difference between the edge that runs across my back and left arm, and the one across my right arm).

For once, I used the exact yarn recommended by the pattern - right down to the colour even! It's Stylecraft Head Over Heels in the Eiger colourway. This pattern is knit at a fairly loose gauge on 4mm needles, which makes the yarn feel quite different from when I've used it at the recommended gauge for other projects, and the finished shawl drapes really nicely.

In spite of the slight oddities about the stitch count/yarn amount and me being not too enthused about the cable bind off, I'm happy with the finished shawl. It's the first shawl I've made of this size, and it feels like it'll be very wearable - hopefully it'll do a good job of keeping my neck cosy over the next few months!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Vogue 9239 for a wedding

Hello! How are you all? Things have been a bit quiet around here recently in terms of blogging and sewing, but life itself has been hectic because I've just moved house. As it always the way, it's been a bit chaotic and sometimes stressful (knitting has been keeping me calm while the sewing stuff has been packed away!), but I'm starting to feel just a little bit sorted at last so I thought I'd pop by and show you the last project that I sewed in my old flat.

This is a dress that I made to wear to a friend's wedding a couple of weeks ago, but the dress you see here isn't at all what I intended to make. The original plan was to make a Sew Over It Betty dress using a large-scale floral cotton sateen that has been in my stash for a while. Sadly, that wasn't meant to be!

When I toiled the Betty, I had some issues with the fit of the shoulders - they were just too big on me (proportionately, my shoulders are small-ish so that's not too surprising) and just kept slipping off. I made some adjustments to sort that out, but the bodice still just didn't feel quite right on me. For some reason the V-neck back made me feel bizarrely exposed, but I told myself that I was just being weird because the dress isn't exactly revealing at all. So I went to cut into my fabric and found that it was much narrower than I'd thought and wouldn't fit the Betty skirt pieces. I'd have had enough fabric to cut the skirt on the cross grain, but the flowers would have looked a bit distorted if I'd done that.

So it was back to the drawing board! At this point, I didn't have much time left (and probably should have been packing instead of faffing about sewing a pretty dress!), so I knew I needed to sew a pattern that I'd already got to fit me. I've really enjoyed wearing the Vogue 9239 (view D) dress that I made earlier this year, so I decided to go with that. Only I thought the large scale floral would be spoiled by interrupting the print over all the panels in the 9239, and I didn't have any other suitable fabric in my stash so I was "forced" to do some emergency online fabric shopping - life's tough sometimes! 😉

Thankfully I found some lovely stretch cotton from Sewisfaction, which had enough colours in it that I knew I'd be able to find some suitable accessories to complement it in my wardrobe. I wasn't disappointed when it arrived - it's lovely quality and happily it looked good with the shoes that I'd originally been planning to wear with the ill-fated Betty dress (they're the perfect shoes for wearing to a wedding as far as I'm concerned because the look fancy but are surprisingly comfortable!).

I set aside the whole of the Sunday before the wedding to sew the dress and thankfully it was one of those sewing days where everything just goes to plan. The fabric behaved well, was lovely to sew and pressed nicely and because I'd sewn Vogue 9239 relatively recently, there were no nasty surprises during the process. At the end of the day, I had a dress that was finished apart from hemming so I just left it to hang and then hemmed it with bias binding a couple of days later.

If you're interested in details on sizing and the adjustments I made (there were a few!) - they're all exactly the same as for my first version so check out the blog post on that one.

The dress was lovely to wear at the wedding and great for dancing (by which I mean twirling!). I actually don't think I'd have liked the dress I was originally intending to make as much, so it turns out that it was probably good  that things didn't initially go to plan. Anyway, that's about all I have to say about this one so I'll leave you in peace! I hope you're having a lovely Sunday - I'm off to unpack all my sewing paraphernalia!