Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Seeing stars - Enid sweater

How's your week going? To be honest, mine could've been better so far, but thankfully the thing that's made everything less than ideal (a particularly annoying work project) is now all done and dusted so I've spent tonight destressing by catching up on some blog reading and now I have my latest project to share with you - it's my second version of the Jennifer Lauren Enid sweater...

When I posted my first Enid, I mentioned that I'd seen some sweatshirt fabric that I really liked - this is it! I loved this starry sweatshirting as soon as I saw it on My Fabrics, and it didn't disappoint when it arrived. It feels lovely and the colour is gorgeous, plus I love stars so I was always going to be a fan of this one. I'm also glad I got it when I did because it seems to be sold out now, but they have lots of other sweatshirt material if you're after some. The ribbing is also from My Fabrics - they have lots of different colours of ribbing and both this black one and the pink I used for Enid number one were really nice quality.

As I mentioned when I was talking about my wearable muslin, this time I lengthened the bodice by an inch and that's made it just the right length for a cropped sweater. My first version is pretty much fine, but it's just a teeny bit on the short side and I feel like I end up pulling it down as soon as I move. The extra inch on this version makes all the difference and means that the sweater is still a nice cropped length but doesn't leave me at risk of skin being exposed around my waist! Lengthening bodices is a standard adjustment for me and I probably should have just done it first time around. Never mind, it's all sorted now.

Apart from that, I didn't change anything from my first version (other than succeeding in using my iron properly and not leaving marks on the fabric!) and there's not much else to say. I love the shape of the Enid sweater and it looks great worn with full skirts. The instructions are really thorough and clear, especially for the more complicated steps such as attaching the ribbing round the neckline, so I think most people would be able to sew up an Enid fairly happily, even if you don't have masses of experience sewing knits - I'm still a relative knit newbie and I didn't have any problems.

So this is another great top to add to my wardrobe, and I plan to follow it with the square necked version of Enid at some point, but maybe not till next autumn/winter. At the moment I'm starting to feel like I've made lots of good wardrobe staple/basic/sensible things since the start of the year, which is all well and good and I'm happy with how they've all turned out and integrated into my daily wardrobe, but I'm starting to feel an itch to make a pretty and slightly frivolous dress. Does anyone else get that when you've been focussing on basics for a while? I'm feeling an Emery coming on...

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Sewaholic Granville Shirt

At the start of the year, I got the urge to sew a shirt. I'm not quite sure where this urge emerged from as I don't wear a massive number of shirts, but emerge it did! It's entirely possible that I was just swayed by the massive number of Grainline Archers that are all over the sewing blogging world. So why didn't I just take the cue from my inspiration and sew an Archer? I was almost ready to do just that, but I had a niggling feeling that actually it might not be the one for me and that I'd prefer a slightly more fitted style. As if by magic, the precise style I was thinking of suddenly appeared when the Sewaholic Granville shirt was launched - Tasia must have read my mind!

I knew I had a weekend on the horizon with no major plans, and that to me always equals a sewing weekend, and I thought that it would be a good opportunity to get my teeth stuck into a slightly more involved sewing project so I snapped up the pattern and got planning!

For the fabric, I chose a white Swiss dot cotton lawn from Fabric Godmother. After all, what could be more classic than a crisp white shirt? Plus because it's a Swiss dot, it's plain and simple but with an added touch of subtle prettiness. The fabric is really soft and feels great to wear, and was a joy to work with. As you can probably tell from the fact that you can sort of see my skirt through the shirt in these photos, it is pretty sheer but wearing a nude-coloured camisole underneath keeps things decent.

When I got down to sewing, almost everything went really smoothly. While you do need to be accurate with any kind of sewing, I think shirtmaking requires an even greater level of precision if you want a nice end result, but other than that there's nothing that's scarily complicated about it. As you'd expect with a Sewaholic pattern, the instructions were clear and easy to follow. As it's an intermediate pattern, they do assume a certain level of knowledge and don't hold your hand and walk you through everything in baby steps, but they have just the right level of detail.

The only bit I found a bit fiddly was the sleeve placket, and that wasn't because the instructions weren't clear but just because you have to press quite small bits of material in a quite exact manner (which I found a little tricky to do without burning my fingers) - but I got there in the end! I'd never sewn a tower placket before so I'm pleased that they turned out neatly.

Another new technique I tried out for the first time here was flat felled seams, which I used for all of the seams on my Granville. I don't know why, but I'd been expecting there to be something really complicated about flat felled seams, but there really isn't! Yes, it does take a bit of extra time but I think it's definitely worth it for the lovely inside finish that you get (I tried to get a photo, but it's really hard to see with the white fabric so you'll just have to take my word for it!). I'm particularly glad that the insides of this shirt look nice, because I think it could make a great cover-up in warm weather worn open over a summer dress with the sleeves rolled up. I'll definitely be testing that theory later in the year anyway. For now, it'll mainly be worn more like this...

The slimmer fit of the Granville means that it's nice for layering without adding too much bulk, which is good because one of my main reasons for making a shirt like this was to be able to wear it under little knitted tank tops (another reason why I don't mind the fabric being slightly sheer). Thankfully for me it looks just like I hoped it would, so mission accomplished!

In terms of size, I made a straight size 14 and it fits well straight out of the packet (part of the reason why I love Sewaholic patterns - they always seem to fit me nicely!). The only thing I might change next time would be the sleeve length. They're pretty much fine as they are, especially when I move my arms, but if I'm just standing with my arms down they do seem a touch long. I suspect this was probably more of an issue for taking blog photos than it will be in daily life so it's all good! I thought it was worth mentioning though because I'm about 5 ft 9, and I don't think I have disproportionately short arms, so some people may need to shorten them.

All in all, I'm really happy with how my Granville turned out, in terms of how it looks but even more so in terms of the finish. I'm so glad I took the time to do the flat felled seams - I was cursing myself for making that decision in the middle of the project when things seemed to be taking ages, but it was definitely worth the extra time and I'd do the same for any possible future Granvilles (although I also want to try out Sewaholic's other new pattern, the Oakridge, so that will probably take precedence over more Granvilles at the moment). If you're thinking of sewing a shirt, I'd definitely recommend the Granville - it's a lovely pattern with great instructions. Give it a go!

Monday, 2 February 2015

Upcycling a jumper into a skirt

For my birthday just before Christmas, a group of lovely friends, who know me and my crafty ways very well, clubbed together and got me a subscription to Mollie Makes. The first issue that they got me (issue 48) included lots of pretty projects, but one thing that really caught my eye was an upcycling project from Rethink Remake Relove to refashion a jumper into a skirt. I was feeling in need of a simple project and the skirt looked great so I had to give it a go!

All you needed was basic sewing supplies, 5cm elastic (which I had left over from making belts) and an old jumper. Now, I quite like all of my jumpers and I wasn't sure that many women's jumpers would give me a skirt with enough room for my hips, so I hit the men's jumper sections of the local charity shops and, after a bit of hunting, found this...

I liked the colour, I thought the cables would provide an interesting detail, it definitely gave me enough material to work with, it looked like it had never been worn and it was only £3.50 - decision made!

The project was really simple - you just remove the jumper arms, cut out your skirt shape from the front and back body pieces, sew the side seams and attach the elastic at the waist, and the ribbing round the bottom of the jumper means there's no need for hemming. I did deviate slightly from the instructions in the magazine by folding the top of the skirt over to make a casing for the elastic instead of just stitching it on. Even with the extra time it took to thread the elastic through the casing it was still a really quick project - the longest part of the process was probably the time I took dithering about precisely how long I wanted the skirt! If you want more details and don't have a copy of Mollie Makes, there are plenty of tutorials online for similar skirts (such as this one from My Poppet and this one from Pearls & Scissors).

I really love how the skirt turned out. Having a more fitted skirt is a bit of a departure from my usual style, but it's good to be different every now and then, and this has to be one of the comfiest skirts ever! It's the kind of thing that feels like you're wearing pyjamas it's that comfy. Plus as it's made from a jumper it's obviously nice and warm for the colder weather.

I'm not sure whether it'll be my most hard-wearing creation (unlike my Malu jacket which I'm wearing here - I've worn it so much this winter!) because I think the ribbing around the hem might stretch out a bit with the amount of walking I tend to do, but hopefully I'll be proved wrong. Even if it doesn't last that long, I'd still definitely use this idea again and I'll be keeping an eye out for more jumpers as possible skirt candidates.

Are you inspired to cut up your old jumpers now? Personally, I'm on the look out for creative uses for the arms that I cut off the jumper - any suggestions?