Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Sew Over It Molly Top

When I started sewing I didn't intend that I would make all my clothes but, aside from underwear and the odd cardigan/jumper here and there, it's been ages since I bought clothes from a shop. I'd just rather spend the money on fabric. That's all well and good, but my love of pretty prints and twirly dresses means that the basics in my wardrobe have become somewhat neglected. I'm sure I'm not the only one with that problem, am I? Top spot on the list of things that could do with replacing for me definitely goes to plain t-shirts, which is what led me to make this version of the Sew Over It Molly top.

When Sew Over It released the City Break capsule wardrobe e-book, I liked the look of the Molly top but wasn't really interested in the rest of the patterns (I've seen many other people making lovely versions, but they're just not my style), so I wasn't keen on buying the whole e-book for one t-shirt. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to find that the Molly top/dress pattern is one of the projects included in this year's Mollie Makes Comic Relief Crafternoon magazine (I ordered my copy online from here, but it currently says it's sold out unfortunately).

Serendipitously, I happened to have a t-shirt sized length of lovely jersey from a recent trip to Sewn in Bristol which was originally intended to be another Gable top, but was swiftly reassigned to become a Molly top.

The Molly top is a good staple t-shirt with some nice details (batwing sleeves, curved hem and a flattering neckline finished with a band), which keep it from being boring whilst still not making it overly fussy.

I made a straight size 14, which is the size that matches my measurements. The fit is more relaxed than some t-shirt patterns and there's definitely positive ease around the waist in particular, but it's still fitted enough around the shoulders and bust to keep it from just being baggy. If you like your t-shirts skin-tight though, then Molly probably isn't the one for you.

The pattern was simple to sew thanks to nicely detailed, clear instructions. I had no problems during construction, and for this version I just stuck to the directions in the pattern, apart from using a twin needle instead of a zigzag stitch for topstitching the neckband down and for the hems.

For my next version, I'd make a couple of slight changes. firstly I'd lengthen the sleeves just a touch - probably an inch I think. The sleeves on this one don't look stupidly short, but they are noticeably shorter than my other long-sleeved t-shirts.

I'd also probably remove the curve on the hem and just have a straight bottom edge instead. While the curved hem is a nice feature, I know I'll always wear the top tucked in (it's untucked in some of these photos purely for show-and-tell purposes) so it'll never be seen, making it a bit pointless for me personally.

The jersey I used really is a delight - easy to work with and beautifully comfy to wear. It's Robert Kaufman Laguna jersey, and Sewn currently have it on sale if you're interested in treating yourself. In fact, I like it so much that I've already got my hands on the same fabric in blue. It may also become a Molly top, we'll see!

So there we go! I think you'll have guessed by now that I really like this Molly top, and I can definitely see myself making more in the future. I think this was a good start along the way to rejuvenating some of the previously neglected wardrobe basics. Where do you stand on sewing/buying wardrobe staples?

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Knitting: 'Gorgeous' Hat and Scarf

When I wrote the post about my Lottie coat a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was knitting a new scarf to wear with it. Today, I'm back to show you that scarf (with another appearance from the Lottie coat), as well as a bonus extra project.

I'll admit, I had been hankering after some of this yarn since it was released last year, so the whole "I need a new scarf to go with my new coat" thing was a bit of an excuse for finally buying some rather than an actual necessity, but it does look great with the coat so it's all good.

Anyway, the yarn in question is Sirdar Gorgeous. It's an ultra super chunky wool and acrylic blend that knits up on 20mm needles. It's available in six colours - three neutrals and three "trendy brights", and predictably I picked possibly the brightest of the brights (it's called Love Bug).

When I bought the yarn I also bought this pattern leaflet which includes two different scarves, a snood and a hat. I chose to knit the purse stitch scarf; I think a yarn this chunky probably needs a relatively simple stitch pattern, which this one is but it's still a little bit more interesting than plain stocking stitch.

Unsurprisingly, given the size of the yarn and the needles, this was a really quick project. Considering the fact that I've mainly been knitting with 4 ply yarn on 3.25mm needles for the past few months, it felt quite comically large to start with and my Dad commented when he saw my needles that I could have just used some of his old cricket stumps instead! I soon got used to it though, and I knit the scarf within a day (and I wasn't knitting constantly for the whole day or anything!).

The pattern tells you just to carry on knitting the scarf until you've worked your way through two balls, but I thought that would end up being too long so I just stopped knitting when the scarf was long enough for my liking. That left me with over half a ball left, so I decided to start knitting the hat from the pattern leaflet to see if I had enough yarn left for that.

Thankfully there was plenty left and I had the hat finished in little more than an hour. I tend to prefer more beret type hats, but I think this is quite fun for a change, although I probably wouldn't wear the hat and the scarf together because the combination of the two of them is a bit overwhelming!

Both the hat and scarf are fun to wear - they're super soft and squishy, so feel lovely and snuggly. I did get a bit of fluff coming off the scarf when I wore it, but nothing too major.

As for the coat that prompted the scarf making, I've now added the extra snap fasteners to it which has definitely made it much better to wear. I'm still getting used to the style of the coat but I am growing to like it more. I really like the scarf with it though, so I'm glad I used it as an excuse to treat myself to some of the yarn!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Stripey Françoise Dress

I haven't mentioned any 2017 sewing resolutions on my blog, mainly because I like to have a bit of a plan in my head but nothing too set in stone so that I can change things around as inspiration hits. I did make a #2017makenine list on Instagram, but I'm treating that as a reminder of the patterns I'd like to make this year as things stand at the moment and I'm not going to worry too much if my plans change along the way.

There is one thing that I am willing to commit to in black and white though, and that's to make more knit dresses this year. While I love my pretty cotton dresses, and I'm definitely not going to turn my back on them, this winter in particular I've been craving the comfort that only knits can give. So more knit dresses are definitely needed, starting with the project I have to share with you today.

This is a Tilly and the Buttons Françoise dress. I made one just after the pattern was released a couple of years ago, and it's one of the unsung heroes of my handmade wardrobe. While I always think of all the fun prints when it comes to picking my favourite dress, my colour-blocked Françoise is one of those dresses that just always feels good when you put it on, with the added benefit of being super comfy. A second Françoise therefore seemed like an obvious place to start my knit dress quest.

The Françoise dress is a sixties inspired mini dress (although mine's not-so-mini due to personal taste) with raglan sleeves, and flattering shaping provided by French darts. It isn't designed specifically for knits, more for medium weight woven fabrics with a bit of stretch, but double knit is also one of the recommended fabrics.

As my first version worked out so well, I used the same size with the same adjustments -  size 5 at the bust and waist, grading out to a 6 at the hips, and with 1.5 inches added above the waist and 4 inches added in the skirt section.

Obviously this second version is slightly different because I omitted the colour-blocked sections, but I made a couple of other small alterations too based on what I can (vaguely!) remember of the sewing process the first time around.

Firstly, I omitted the centre back seam/invisible zip which the pattern uses. They would probably be needed if you were using a stretch woven fabric, but aren't necessary with a stable knit for me at least, and I have a fairly big head so if I can get this on over my had with no zip, then I think most other people should be able to as well. Omitting the centre back seam also meant there was no need to spend any effort on stripe matching in that area - hurrah!

I also chose not to use the neck facings - I remember that last time the facings seemed really bulky and I had a bit of a battle trying to get them to turn nicely to the inside (if I can still remember that after more than 2 years, it can't have been fun!). Instead, I simply turned the neckline under and top-stitched it down. I know that's a finish that some people really don't like, but I think it has worked well in this case.

The fabric I used is some lovely navy and white striped ponte from Sewn in Bristol, although I scooped up the last of it (lucky me!) so I'm pretty sure it won't be in stock any more unfortunately. It was great to work with and it's really nice to wear as well.

The dress came together really quickly and easily - a speedy and successful process! I love the result as well; like my first version it feels great to wear and has just enough shaping to be flattering whilst still being very much in the "secret pyjama" category. All in all, the perfect way to kick off my "more knit dresses" plan. Do you have any sewing plans/resolutions for the year? Are you sticking to them so far?

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Love Sewing Magazine Lottie Coat

I'm going to start this post by being honest and saying that I'm in two minds about this project; part of me likes it, part of me really isn't sure. It's not quite my usual style so that perhaps isn't too surprising, but when I saw the Lottie coat in issue 33 of Love Sewing magazine I thought it looked interesting so I'd give it a try.

The Lottie coat is a collarless unlined shell coat, with side seam pockets and three-quarter sleeves. Coats do have a reputation for being a bit tricky to sew, and properly tailored ones do definitely require some skill, but this coat is very simple and would be fine for relative beginners I think.

I didn't make a toile for this project because I decided that the fit was relaxed enough that I'd be able to make any little adjustments that might be needed along the way. I think that worked out fine - the fit on me is pretty much the same as on the models in the magazine anyway.

I did make a few changes to the coat to suit my personal tastes. As I mentioned, the pattern is unlined but I wanted to have some kind of lining, both for a bit of extra warmth and to make the coat easier to put on and take off. Instead of drafting a separate lining, I opted to underline the main pieces with lining fabric. As this would leave the raw edges visible on the inside, I made them a bit prettier and used a Hong Kong finish with bright pink satin bias binding. I think the little flash of pink that this gives on the inside of the coat is probably one of my favourite things about this project!

I did originally use the in-seam pockets from the pattern, but once I'd put them in they made the coat hang really strangely and gaped open in a not particularly attractive fashion. I unpicked them and closed up the side seams, but I think that a coat really needs pockets - I'm sure I'm not alone there am I? Patch pockets seemed like the easiest option to me, particularly being as I have a coat that I love which has patch pockets that I could use as a guide. I think they turned out quite nicely, even if I do say so myself.

The coat is meant to close with a single button at the neckline, but I decided to use a snap fastener instead. I'm pretty sure that I won't ever wear this coat without a scarf, so a pretty button would always be hidden, and using a snap fastener eliminated the worry about whether my machine would handle sewing a buttonhole on this fabric.

Having worn the coat, I'm going to go back and add a couple of extra snap fasteners down the front to help it stay closed a bit better.

I also lengthened the sleeves slightly. I originally lengthened them quite a bit because I thought that I might wear the coat more with full length sleeves, but with the width of the sleeves that just didn't look right. I tried a couple of different options - basting one sleeve so that it was long still but much narrower, and basting the other at three-quarter length - and the shorter, wider sleeve looked much better. In the end, I think my sleeves are 2 inches longer than in the pattern.

My main fabric is a lovely dogtooth coating from Clothspot, and the underlining is an acetate lining fabric that I picked up when it was super cheap in the sale at The Village Haberdashery. I really like both fabrics and how they work together. You can't really see all the colours in the dogtooth in these photos, but they're really pretty and I love how the pink seam binding I used picks out the pink in the fabric.

Overall I'm happy with how the coat turned out as a project, but I'm not completely sold with how it looks on me. I like it much better once I've got a scarf on with it (hence the scarf in most of these photos!), and I'm using that as an excuse to knit myself a bright pink chunky scarf to wear with it. I definitely don't hate the coat, so I think it might just take a bit of time to get used to wearing this different shape. After all, it's good to try new things every now and then, isn't it?

Friday, 20 January 2017

Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book Corduroy Dress

For my first sewing project of the new year, I decided to finally make something from Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book. The book's been sitting waiting on my shelves pretty much since it was released (I was never going to resist a book full of pretty dresses for long!), so I'm not quite sure how it took me so long to get around to making one of the projects, but thankfully I got there in the end.

For those of you that aren't familiar with the book, it features 23 different dress projects with the added bonus that all the bodices, skirts etc. are interchangeable so you can mix and match to suit your taste. My dress is heavily based on the Cherry Corduroy Dress from the book, which uses the princess seam bodice, basic 3/4 sleeve and all-around pleated skirt, but for my version I switched that skirt for the side-pleated skirt. The dress in the book also has a grosgrain ribbon and bow sewn around the waistline, which I omitted. It's the kind of detail that I love on paper and on other people, but always feel slightly self-conscious about wearing myself for some reason.

The process of sewing this dress had a bit of a frustrating start. I made a toile of the bodice based on my measurements and the size chart, but it turned out so small that I couldn't even do it up - in no small part because the sleeves were so constricting that I couldn't reach the zip properly. I went up a size and made another toile, which technically just about fit but only if I didn't really want to move. Not very practical! So I went up another size and finally had a nicely fitting bodice. I've since looked online and I'm definitely not the only one who's had this problem, but I've also seen people saying they got a really good fit with no adjustments - maybe it depends on what size you are or something? Anyway, I'd definitely make a toile if you're sewing a dress from this book.

Once I had my overall size sorted, I made a couple of length adjustments. I added a 1.5 inches to the bodice, which is fairly standard for me, and I also added an inch to the sleeve. Unsurprisingly, I didn't bother hemming the sleeve on my toile and without a hem it was just the length I wanted the sleeve to be, so I added extra for a hem.

I had the opposite problem with the skirt - it came out really long! I chopped 2 inches off the bottom and then also did a 2 inch hem, and it now sits at knee length. Considering that I'm somewhere around 5 ft 8", that's not normal for me - I think the only time when I've had to shorten a skirt before was when I was using a vintage pattern.

Having sorted out the sizing, actually sewing the dress was nice and simple. The instructions accompanying each individual project are fairly brief, with references back to the basic sewing instructions sections at the start of the book for further details. I'm fairly familiar with sewing dresses by now, so the only detailed instructions I looked at were the ones for the lapped zip just as a refresher (it's been ages since I sewed one!).

The instructions both for the individual dress and the general sewing guidelines were clear and easy to understand as far as I could see, although I did notice a couple of typos. Generally nothing too serious, but worth keeping an eye out for (e.g. at one point 1/2" was converted into metric as 6mm, which could cause problems if you were using just the metric measurements).

The fabric I used is a lovely needlecord from My Fabrics. I love the turquoise colour - perfect for brightening up grey January days. And who doesn't love a spotty dress (there are spots there I promise, they're just so small they're difficult to see in these photos).

I'm glad I persevered with getting the bodice to fit because I'm really pleased with how my dress turned out. And the bonus of the book format is that now I've got the bodice right, I can combine it with all the different sleeves and skirts to make a whole range of dresses. Do you have Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book too? Have you made anything from it yet?