Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Me Made May 2018

Well, it's here again, already! Can you believe it?

I'm just dropping in to say that I am participating in Me Made May again this year. I've pledged to wear as many handmade garments as possible each day. Realistically this will probably only be a maximum of 2, but there might be the odd day when I can manage a third.

I'd also like to take the opportunity to assess some of my makes and figure out why I don't wear them, if there is anything I can do to change that, or if not, what I'll do with them. I also want to figure out handmade wardrobe gaps. Finally, I need to do some mending, and I'd like to make a pair of jeans or another pair of trousers, but we'll see on that last one.

I'll try to do periodic round up posts, but you can see all my goings on on Instagram (@grosgraingreen).

Are you joining in this year? What's your pledge?
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Thursday, 12 April 2018

Trouser Inspo

It won't have escaped your notice that I've been sewing trousers recently (here and here), and I have just finished another pair of Emerson/Alexandria mash ups which have yet to be posted. I've talked and thought a lot about sewing trousers in the past, but never really managed to actually do the sewing. Suddenly I can't get enough!

I think there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, I'm just wearing trousers more. Generally casually, I live in skinny jeans and at work wear more dresses and skirts, but this winter I've definitely been wearing my RTW black skinnies to death. I'm not sure what's prompted this change and I suspect that come summer (IF summer ever cometh) that my skirts my come back out to play, but for now I want to wear trouser.

Secondly, I tried on quite a few RTW trousers and didn't like them. The fit was OK, but not good enough, and I figured I could at least attempt to do better myself.

Thirdly, the more you make trousers, the less scary they seem. Actually trousers are not difficult at all to make. Just hard to fit.

Lastly, there seems to have been an explosion of Indie trouser patterns in the past few years, which makes the whole thing easier still, albeit with some limitations (see below).

What I will say though, is that I am fussy about the shapes and styles that I wear, and none more so than trousers. I can't always put my finger on what I don't like about things, I just know they aren't right for me, and sadly from the sewing point of view, often I can't identify this until I've actually tried them on. Case in point the Alexandria pants and more recently the Calyers, which I muslined and then rejected (same problem with fabric volume as the Alexandria). This quickly becomes an expensive hobby (the Calyer pdf cost £10), so I am trying to come up with some ways to identify whether a pattern is likely to be a winner or not, BEFORE I make the purchase. This still needs some work, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share some lovely trouser inspiration with you. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it's some of the patterns I have my eye on currently, in that "my eyes are bigger than my sewing ability" way we all know.

Wide Legs

I love the cropped wide leg look, and am keen to recreate a pair I tried on in Jigsaw a couple of months ago but didn't buy because they were dry-clean only and itchy wool. This is a selection of patterns I've been considering. I have previously made and do like the True Bias Emerson pants (not pictured), but would like to move away from an elasticated waistband. I think I like the Anna Allen Persephone and RDC Gaston's best, due to the covered fly and the slightly wider leg, but the others, the True Bias Lander Pants and the Papercut Nagoya Pants are strong contenders. I prefer that the Lander has back pockets, but they are easy things to add to a different pattern. I'd like to make a black pair for work (fabric tbc, but maybe a canvas?) and also a pair in denim. I LOVE Novita's version of the Persephones. So gorgeous.

Aside: I mentioned above about elastic waists. I actually never thought I'd write this, but I have nothing against elastic waists per se, however there are a lot of Indie trouser patterns out there with elastic waists, whether full or back only, and I'm wondering why. They are definitely easier to sew, so perhaps easier to tempt trouser-making newbies in (plus since elastic waists go with baggier trousers, less potential fitting to be scared of?), but given it's more than likely that most people will make skirts or dresses before they make the jump to trousers, they will have sewn darts and a zip or 2, making trousers with a side zip not insurmountable. Personally, with well written and illustrated instructions to follow, I don't find a fly that difficult either. Do pattern designers themselves dislike fly front or side/back zip trousers and assume their customers feel the same? Or do they actually want to avoid writing the instructions, which I can imagine are probably difficult to describe for a fly zip, and while there are some very good tutorials out there, you can't really produce a pattern and then direct your customer to someone else's tutorial. Or, actually, is it just that elastic waists are trendier/have become more socially acceptable in recent years? I have no idea, and I have no strong feelings about it. It's just something that I've been thinking about since I've been looking for some patterns without an elastic waist.

Peg Legs and Pleats

Obviously I've made a few peg leg and pleated trousers with some mixed results. I REALLY love teh look of them, but I struggle with the wearing of them. My successes have all been with the pleats of the Emerson, which are pretty shallow and short. This combination doesn't seem to give me the excess at the front crotch and thigh area, which I find problematic. This is why I think the Orangeuse Patterns Bruges Trousers might work for me. I'm not convinced by the side stripe on the legs, but that's optional, and I really like the rest of the pattern. No back pockets again, but I'm sure I could add welt pockets (she said, never having sewn welt pockets in her life). The RDC Claude Trousers interest me, but they look quite different depending on the version you see. I do like the versions that Christine has made here and here. I even dreamed about them (true story)! Finally the Papercut Patterns Guise Pants. I really wish these weren't elasticated at the back, but I suspect the pleats are probably going to be a problem anyway, so it's highly unlikely I'd make these. But they look nice, don't they?

Skinnies and Jeans

Dead easy to wear, there will be room in my wardrobe for skinnies for a while yet. I've been meaning to make the Closet Case Ginger jeans for a while, I have the pattern and one of my RTW pairs has just gone through at the knee, so it's inevitable they wiill happen. If I like them, I might also try the Sashas which are made from the same block. I chucked the Papercut Patterns Starboard jeans on there too as it has some interesting details.

Finally

I've been a bit obsessed with the Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants for a while. They have an elasticated waist, so I might not actually like them on me, but I love the drafting. No side seam with a capacious scoop shape pocket and a tapered leg. I even like this weird khaki colour. Unfortunately they are RTW, sold in the US and out of my price range. I recently came across the Sew Liberated Arenite Pants on Instagram and while I wouldn't wear this slouchy, relaxed shape, it has a lot in common with the Clyde pants. So much so, that I am considering buying the pattern to hack. I'm not sure how easy it would be to do with no side seams, but if I could reduce the ease enough, it could work. It's not a priority, but it would be an interesting experiment.

So, there you go. That's the round up of what's going on in my head at the moment. I wonder what, if any I will actually make?! :)
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Monday, 2 April 2018

Competed: RTW T-Shirt Copy

Doing a rub off of a RTW garment is something I've been meaning to have a go at for a while, but never quite got round to. As I said previously, my recent makes have all been pretty practical, and this is no different. I just need all the long sleeved things right now, preferably to layer on top of each other and wear all at once.



I have a bit of an obsession with Boden's long sleeve Breton tees, and currently own 3. It's the stripes but also the shape I love, particularly the neckline and if Boden did this shape in solid colourways, I'd buy even more, but they don't. No problemo. I can make one.

I kind of used a hybrid of tutorials, mixed with intuition to come up with a method. Using my ironing board as a base, I lay out the top, put paper on top, then used a pin to trace the edges by punching holes in the paper. Using a pencil, I then joined up the pin holes to get the outline, truing up the pattern pieces as I went.



It more or less worked, although in hindsight I'd change a few things. The SA on the original garment, which I stuck with, was pretty small at about 1/2cm. I found this difficult to sew - my machine has a tendency to chew up small seams - so would increase the SA next time. I suspect I should have used the pins to trace the seam line and then add the whatever SA I needed. I also didn't true up the pattern edges as well as I should have, which became apparent when putting the pieces together, but I just trimmed the pieces to fit and it doesn't appear to have caused any problems.

The fit seems a bit snugger than the original, but that might be down to the SA issue, plus possibly the fabric. The original tee is 100% cotton, so it probably stretches out slightly with wear. The fabric I used is a mystery content knit in black neon slubs. I bought it a couple of years ago from The Sweet Mercerie. I suspect it's a cotton/polyester mix, with some elastane.





Construction was straightforward. Originally I was going to just fold the neckline under, but I opted to take inspiration from the original, which has an internally bound neckline. I did this first, then sewed shoulder seams, armscye and lastly the sleeve and side seams in a oner. The original tee has a little bound split side seam at the bottom, but I didn't bother with that.

I'm not sure there is much more to say. I'm really happy with how this worked out and the top is getting plenty of wear (under jumpers). I will tweak the pattern a bit, increase the SA and then will definitely make more. I'll still buy the Boden striped versions, because I like them, but it's always nice to have options!

Have you ever done a RTW "rub off"? I'm keen to find out other people's experiences and to know if you have any tips.
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Monday, 26 March 2018

Completed: Emerson/Alexandria Mash Up

I made another pair of trousers. I seem to be on a roll with trousers at the moment, so I'm going with it, although black basics really don't make for the most exciting blog posts.

This is a mash up of the True Bias Emersons (top part) with the Named Alexandria Peg Pants (legs). The Emersandria? I can't fully take credit for this combo. Someone, can't remember who, or when, made a tapered leg Emersons ages ago on Instagram which obviously planted a seed. I bought a pair of Uniqlo trousers recently which were nice, but didn't fit that well and I thought "I could make something similar" which made me put both patterns together. I kept the Uniqlo merino jumper, which I am wearing in these photos £15!).

Anyway, the patterns went together well. I traced the Emersons down as far as the shorts line, then blended into the Alexandria legs. I also scooped a little out of the front crotch curve because I felt like the shorts I made last summer needed it.





The fabric is a poly/viscose gaberdine with quite a lot of stretch. I bought it from Splendid Stitch a while back with plans to another pattern that never really worked out. It has a lovely drape which makes it perfect for this style, although the poly makes it a little hard to press - it's quite bouncy. It's also thick, noticeable when sewing over multiple layers like at the pocket at the side seams, but it behaves nicely and isn't staticky like other polys. Unfortunately Splendid Stitch appear to have sold out of it. I bought a remnant in grey because I liked it so much, although the grey does remind me of Euan's school trousers.







There's not a lot to say about this make. I like the Emerson shape at the top. I love the pleats and the fact that for some reason they don't add volume at the crotch like other pleated trouser patterns I've tried. I also like the leg shape of the Alexandria, so the combo is pretty perfect for me. Oh, I added a bit of width to the back pattern piece at the calf. Something that I apparently need for all trousers.



I love these trousers. I seem to have to have my hands in the pockets all the time for some reason, but that's OK. They are extremely comfortable with drape and stretch of the fabric, plus the elasticated back waist band. I love them so much that I'm making a second pair with that grey remnant. Personally, I don't really like them with ankle boots, so they are better for the brighter days with flats and (gasp) bare ankles. Fingers crossed we have more brighter days soon.

I'd like to continue my trouser making journey a bit more. I definitely plan to make Ginger jeans, and I'm exploring other trouser pattern options that have proper fastenings. I'm not opposed to elastic waists (certainly not with a flat waistband at the front), and they are quick to make, but I'd like to try something else and have a bit of variety.


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Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Completed: Astoria Sweatshirt (Hacked)

This is the Seamwork Astoria sweater. It's the first Seamwork pattern i've made, despite having had a subscription for the first year it launched. I'll be honest, I'm not that fussed about most of the patterns. There have been a few I've quite liked, but never quite enough to actually prioritise the sewing of them, but I always did quite like the Astoria.



There were a few things that slightly put me off making it previously. It's both very fitted and very cropped and I just am not overly comfortable with things being very tight over my stomach or bust. I did like the neckline though, and as I was recently in the market for a slightly more smart/dressy top for work, and I wanted a sweatshirt, I thought the Astoria would be a good starting point.

I sized up. My bust size put me at an XS, but I went with the finished measurements, opting to make a S instead. I had a quick chat with Christine who has made a few of these before, and, at her suggestion, took out the waist shaping, straightening the pattern from bust down to hip. This widened the hip, so I checked by how much, and added that onto the width of the waistband, also taking the shaping out of that. I also added 6cm to the length at the lengthen/shorten lines.




As a last hack, to make it a bit dressier still, I added a ruffle cuff to the sleeve, a little detail I'd spotted on a RTW jumper.

I'm fairly happy with how this worked out and I like the resultant shape. It's fitted, but not tight over the bust, and then more relaxed over my waist. It's still fairly short for a sweatshirt, but perfect for me over high waisted bottoms. I do find the sleeves to be very tight below the elbow, particularly when bearing in mind that I sized up. If I made this again, I'd add a bit of width to the bottom half of the sleeve, but really my fabric probably didn't have quite as much stretch as the pattern asks for. Initially, I made the sleeves too long. I removed the inch hem allowance and took a further 3/8 inch SA to attach the ruffle cuff, but they are still too long, so I went back and removed the first ruffle cuff, cut more length off (can't remember how much, sorry), and cut and sewed another ruffle cuff. Unfortunately, I cut the second cuff the same width, but clearly the sleeve is wider since sleeves narrow to the wrist, so now the ruffle is less pronounced, and I think looks a bit daft. Not sure I can be bothered to do it again though. I topstitched the SA on the ruffle cuff to the sleeve as the first iteration has a tendency to flip out, and this has helped.

I think the shoulders are a little big, probably a result of sizing up. It doesn't bother me, but if I do make this again, I think I'll shave a little off the armscye.








Finally, let's talk about the neckband. So, I always baste my neckbands (and collar and sleeve bands for that matter). I really struggle with stretching to fit, plus working round pins, plus curling knit fabric edges, so I tend to baste, check and remove puckers etc, then sew in place. This time I decided not to. And I sewed the neckband on with raw edges to the outside. Gah! I spent a good few hours unpicking it (black thread, black fabric, teeny tiny lightening bolt stitch), making at least one hole in the process... only to then sew it on the wrong way round the second time! So, the neckband joining seam is at the front. I wasn't unpicking it again. I'd already made one hole (I sewed the neckband on the second time with a bigger SA to compensate), and I wasn't about to try that again. And actually it doesn't bother me in the slightest. I don't think you really see it when it's on, and if anyone asks, it's a design detail!

The fabric is the black loop back terry from Splendid Stitch, which is currently out of stock unfortunately. It's a really nice fabric actually. Cotton with elastane, which a lot of french terry doesn't have. The loops are not very obvious on the wrong side, and the right side has a lovely smooth face. It's a decent weight and the elastane means it has good recovery, so it would be good for some joggers or something similar. I wish she had it in lots more colours!

True fact - I have only just realised that I appear to have cut this out on the cross grain. The rib of the fabric in these photos very clearly runs horizontally. D'oh!

Final verdict - this isn't my favourite sweatshirt pattern, but I do like it. I think it'll work well in a work context with midi skirts and boots, and you can never go amiss with a black top. I wore it a few times over the Christmas period, with my silver pleated velvet midi skirt and also black jeans. It dresses up nicely with some jewellery or down with jeans and trainers. Very versatile, so I should get lots of wear out of it.
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Saturday, 17 February 2018

Completed: Silver pleated velvet skirt!

There really isn't too much to say about this skirt, other than isn't it fabulous?!
My phone is my camera remote, and it kept disconnecting, which is why I am constantly looking at my phone in these photos!






I really wasn't going to make a Christmas party outfit this year, but I kind of fell in love with the pleated velvet from the Fabric Godmother. I loved the olive colour, but it sold out pretty quickly. Luckily Josie then got the silver in stock (now sold out, but the taupe is in the sale!).

Because my brain was not engaged, I thought one metre wouldn't be enough, so ordered 2. I knew I wanted at least 1.5m width in the skirt and as I was making this on the cross grain, I thought 1m wouldn't work, but I completely forgot that I could have cut the fabric down the length to make 2 widths, and this never even clicked until I cut the fabric out! Ah well. Doing it this way meant I only had one side seam to sew. The waistband is wide black elastic attached to the selvedge, so that the elastic is exposed, and the skirt is unhemmed. It took less than an hour from start to finish.









It's really too long in it's current state. I have worn it a few times as is, but I think I'll get more wear if it's a bit shorter, although I still plan to keep it well below knee length. The elastic is also slightly on the tight side. I generally seem to make skirt waistbands too large, even when elasticated, so I slightly overcompensated with this one. I might cut it off and sew a longer length on, which also might resolve the length issue and is why I haven't done anything about it yet... We will see. In the meantime, I have a lovely slightly sparkly, swishy, tactile skirt that goes with pretty much everything! Hurrah!

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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Completed: Chat Chocolat Linden


I decided a wee while back that I really wanted a dark green sweatshirt for this winter. I’ve been meaning to make the Linden again for a while – my ampersand version is literally my most worn piece of clothing, handmade or shop bought – but I’m a bit picky about fabrics and colours for sweatshirts, plus I was worried that a solid coloured version might be a bit dull. I can’t remember how I got onto them, but somehow I came across Chat Chocolat’s website and signed up to their newsletter, thinking they sold fabric directly to the public in the manner of Atelier Brunette. When they emailed their newsletter featuring their new collection, We're All Stars, I immediately fell for the forest green version. As it turns out, they only sell wholesale, but they have one UK supplier in the form of Faberwood, which of course, I had known all the time because I’ve seen their fabric on Fiona’s website before. So… being a bit cheeky, I DM’d Fiona to ask if she was considering stocking it. She wasn’t even aware of it, but because she is so lovely and has such fabulous taste, she very quickly got in touch when them and within a matter of weeks, had it on the website, alongside the solid green, should crosses not be your thing.


I am going to rave about this fabric, because, well it’s fabulous and also because I would feel guilty in the unlikely event that Fiona doesn’t shift the rest (she did and has since restocked it!). It’s a very stable sweatshirting with a lovely, cosy, fleecy back. It doesn’t have a lot of stretch, something I didn’t really consider, and is less drapey than say, the Atelier Brunette sweatshirting, although isn’t much thicker. The colour is a glorious forest green, deeply saturated and gorgeous.

I made a Linden, as originally planned, but with a couple of changes. I sewed the size 4, but used a ½” seam allowance everywhere, except the sleeves due to the lack of stretch in the fabric – initially I sewed them at ½” too, but they felt too tight, and I want to be able to layer other things under this. For info, the given SA is ¼” which is what I ultimately sewed the sleeve seams with. I added darts in the shoulders to fix the gaping there – this is a feature I quite like in my ampersand version, but with the smaller SA, it’s made the neckline smaller and the darts don’t sit that well unfortunately. I think I used slightly more than a ½” SA to attach the neck binding, because I wanted it narrower. All this has meant the sweatshirt is approx. one size smaller than the cut size, which was my goal. A lazy version of sizing down. It is tighter than my others, but it’s very comfortable.
It was all sewn on my sewing machine with the lightening bolt stitch and the edges were left raw although they were trimmed slightly to reduce bulk.




And that was it! I’d forgotten how quick sweatshirts are to make, but I’d also forgotten how much I hate attaching neck/hemband and cuffs. Man, I detest attaching those things. I always feel like I need at least one extra pair of hands, and as always basted before sewing them properly. Kudos to anyone to can attach them directly with their overlockers. I have no idea how anyone could do that!

Having now worn this a few times there are a few things I want to go back and fix. The darts bug me, so need altering and actually I'm not happy with the narrower neckband at all. I think it was fine until I washed it, and the raw edges have since curled, which means the neckband just doesn't sit right. I think I will go back and cut off the neckband and attach a new one with the correct SA. None of this has stopped me wearing it non-stop though. It's cosier than my ampersand version, so better suited to the winter weather, plus I just love the colour!
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