Sunday, 13 August 2017

Completed: Sointu Kimono Tee

This was one of those fabrics that you fall in love with, think about all day every day, then cave in and buy. Only once it arrives you realise you have absolutely no idea what to make with it. It's a viscose, but not a challis, more of a medium weight, which would make it suitable for a dress, but it's still a little transparent and I'm not a light coloured dress person. So into the stash it went.
I had a few ideas - there is a whole "window pane check" period in my Sewing Inspiration Pinterest board, and came across this Madewell top, which I really love, but then I discovered the Named Sointu tee and a plan was born. This was all some time ago, and it wasn't until more recently that I realised the pattern was designed for stable knits, not drapey wovens!

However, kimonos are made in drapey wovens, and the pattern has lots of ease, and if you Google Image (that's a verb, right?) the pattern, you will see that loads of people have made it in wovens, so all good. 

I whipped this top up in a couple of nights. It would have taken less time if I hadn't had to pattern match and cut flat. After the first night, when I had sewn the front and back together and added the belt loops, I HATED it! Even taking into account that it was meant to be belted, it just looked awful. Massive, too baggy, shapeless and dull. Even though I'd had this pattern and fabric matched in my head for a while, I'd had a last minute wobble about whether the pairing would work, and at this stage I started to think I should have listened to my gut. However, after a night off, I went back to it. I ignored the given construction order and made the belt first, thinking that I'd try it with that before investing any more time in finishing it off. I tried it on with the belt and it just worked! It still wasn't perfect though - cutting off the belt loops helped with that. I found them to be clunky and too low and they just looked wrong. I figured that I could go back and make thread chain loops if I needed them (like I did for my Sway dress), but having worn the top once I don't find I need them. 


I think other than the fabric and the belt loops, I made the rest as per the instructions. Oh no, there were a couple of other things. I took a slightly longer hem, so I could do a double turn - the instructions have you overlock the raw edge and turn once. Fine for a knit, but not great on a woven, IMO. So, my version is about 1cm shorter than drafted. And I cut the sleeve bands on the bias, because it was going to be impossible to pattern match them. The sleeve band has no shoulder seam, so it was never going to match up at both front and back. I like it with the bias detail, and kind of wish I'd made the belt on the bias too now. I think it's a nice contrast. 

But otherwise, as per instructions. ;)

I think this is a fabulous pattern, and it's deceptively simple. I wore it to meet a friend for dinner and Festival shows last night, and she commented that it must have been quite challenging to make - and she sews (albeit not clothes). But it's such a simple shape under that very long belt (designed to be worn wrapped around twice). The rounded v neck is a little tricky to get neat, as it's finished with bias binding, but perseverance gets there. I would suggest stay stitching the neckline though, if you do use a woven in this pattern. The instructions don't suggest it, but it's worth doing.

But the sign of a good pattern is how many more versions you immediately start planning, isn't it? I think this would be absolutely perfect in silk and lengthened to dress version. I'd also like to try it in a knit. I think it could be a great basic in a solid colour, but could be amazing in a really bold print - imagine a large scale floral on a dark background, or a watercolour type print? It's a bit of distinctive shape to be a true basic, and there is a lot of volume going on, so you need to think about what to balance that out with (it's far better with skinny jeans, than the straight leg ones I am wearing in these photos, for instance) but I think there is definitely room for another version or 3 in my stash!

Also: I had my hair cut! Not sure I love it, but time will tell. 
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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Completed: Broderie Anglais Kalle Shirt

Usually for me, I start with the pattern. I find a pattern and then I am pretty quick to visualise the fabric that I want. Doesn't mean I always find it of course. This time, however it was the fabric that drew me in. I spotted this geometric broderie anglais on Fabric Godmother's IG feed (seems to be out of stock, sorry!), and instantly knew it needed to be a blouse. A boxy, short sleeved blouse. I perused patterns, and initially fancied the Deer & Doe Melilot blouse, but it was a bit too fitted for my liking. I had initially dismissed the Closet Case Files Kalle as being too cropped, but someone else lengthened it and the penny dropped! I am not always the smartest cookie!

This was my first Closet Case Files pattern and I really enjoyed making it. Having said that, it wasn't a breeze. I found the instructions to be inconsistent. In general they were good. The instructions for both the collar and the yoke were excellent, but there were others, such as the hidden placket and the sleeve cuffs that I found lacking and somewhat confusing. There is a sewalong, which I used for the cuffs and which was very clear, so all good in the end. I bought the Ginger jeans pattern at the same time, so we'll see how we get on with them. Feedback is that the instructions for them are excellent.
I really like the pattern, which I think is well drafted and goes together very well. As I said, I found the instructions for both collar and yoke to be really comprehensive and clear. The collar uses the universally exhalted "Andrea's method" and the yoke is burritoed, which is possibly one of my favourite sewing methods. Since they are the scary bits of shirt making, that really helped. 
As mentioned, as drafted I thought the cropped version of the shirt was a little too short for comfort, so I added 5cm to the length. If you do this, remember to also lengthen the button band/placket. This gives me a nice length that sits at high hip - short enough to look deliberately cropped, but I am in no danger of flashing my tummy. I chose the "proper" collar as I'm not a fan of band collars, and the hidden placket. I had planned to also use the hem facing, which I really like, but it didn't seem right for this fabric. Due to the exaggerated curves of the hem, I faced it with bias binding - not the given pattern piece for the shirt dress, instead I just made bias binding as usual. I then encountered a couple of problems - the SA was less than the drafted 5/8" which didn't work at the side seams, and the bias binding was just too bulky, affecting the way the shirt hang. In the end I fixed it, by not double folding the bias when I turned it under. I'm really not explaining myself well but there is a raw edge on the inside, as I chose not to turn it under. With regards to the side seams, I just fudged it. The finish works well. In theory the binding shouldn't fray as it's cut on the bias. We will see.
Bias facing


Hidden placket

Oh yes, and I actually chose the inverted pleat, but ended up sewing my front pieces on back to front and only realised after I'd burritoed the yoke thus after the point of no return. Due to the button band positioning, it made sense to keep the front right way out and make the back the wrong side. There really isn't much difference from the point of view of the fabric, but it's annoying because I had thought about the placement of the embroidery and holes when cutting and had deliberately offset the underside of the yoke so the holes would not align, so now the embroidery is not centred on the yoke. No one normal will notice, but still. 

Other changes? As I couldn't use iron on interfacing (the glue would have shown through the "holes" in the fabric), I interfaced with white poly/cotton from my stash, which I basted on. I also used this for the bias binding. And the shirt only has 4 buttons. With multiple layers, and also the embroidery adding bulk, I just could not get the collar stand under my button hole foot. I know it's trendy but i doubt I'd do up the top button anyway, so have gone without. The white buttons were in my button jar and are recycled from something else. And I accidentally did horizontal buttonholes, which I didn't realise were wrong until I tried to button it up! 
Modelling support. Also: this is my new kitchen. Still not finished.




I made a good portion of this at a mini Blogger meet up organised by Franca. It was only the pair of us, plus Jen and Kerry, but Roisin was in Edinburgh for the weekend and popped in to say hello. It was lovely to meet her. She even got to witness my parallel parking skillz!
So, yes, delighted with this. I really, really love it. I'm not normally someone who wears white, and I did consider dying the fabric, but I think the white looks really fresh, as long as I have no spillages. So far so good on that front. By keeping the broderie unlined I have the option to wear different coloured camis underneath, which changes it up a biit, or possibly to wear just a bra if I'm feeling brave (and warm) enough? Ha ha!


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Monday, 17 July 2017

Handmade Holiday Part 4

The last part! You can find parts 1, 2 and 3 by clicking on the numbers.

I am not a maxi dress person. I think they look lovely, but I never really got them. I had no need for one. But, then I came across this Burdastyle pattern, in Melissa's May Burda review here, and I found myself coming up with all sorts of reasons why I needed a maxi dress for my holiday: if we wanted to visit the Blue Mosque in Istanbul I'd need my legs covered (my head glossed over the fact that I'd also need my head and arms covered too); what if people dressed up for dinner in the all-inclusive resort - wouldn't a maxi beautifully bridge that divide between casual and dressy? Plus, if I hated it, I could always cut it to midi or shorter.



I managed to shoe-horn it in, but only after all the other items were finished and only on the proviso that I finished it BEFORE the week before we went. I started and finished it on the Monday. We left on Friday morning.

So, although the pattern is in the magazine it's also online. Not sure I would have bought it on the strength of the line drawings, but for once Burda's styling made my heart leap! My experience in making this dress reminded me why I avoid Burdastyle. I'm not going to go on a rant, because we've all made Burda patterns and all know their flaws. At least I didn't have to trace it.

The fabric is bamboo jersey, from Edinburgh Fabrics, which I thought would nice and light and breathable. Actually the dress uses so much fabric it weighs a ton, and was only suited to the cooler evenings. The pattern as drafted actually has an outer dress with an inner layer much like a tank. I'm not clear why, other than to support the outer layer maybe, but I skipped it anyway. I also skipped the neck and armhole bands, because it was quicker and easier to just turn once and stitch. The fabric requirements given by the pattern are woefully inadequate. I mean seriously inadequate. I bought the recommended length of 2.2m, and - bearing in mind I didn't cut the bands or the inner tank thingy - I had to seam the front piece because there was absolutely no way I was going to get those pattern pieces on the fabric otherwise. I don't actually mind the seam at all, so no biggie, but still!

The dress itself is a straightforward tank shape from the front, with a slightly cocoon shaped skirt but the back has all the drama with a sort of cape-like drapey bit hanging off the shoulders (excellent description, Helen). The instructions were clear as mud, so the construction was a bit of a head-fuck, but I got there in the end.
You can see how the back neck sags under the weight of the fabric here

Not sure if it was a drafting error, or if I stretched out the armholes when sewing, but the armscyes were ridiculously large. It's possibly a bit of both. I think I ended up removing about 20cm from each (yes, really!), tapering it down the side seams. Because the side seams actually sit to the front, this has resulted in an angled shape to the armhole, which I rather like.
You can sort of see the angled armscye here

I think I added length, just in case, which I cut off again, but I left the bottom unhemmed - partly laziness, partly time, partly because I doubted I'd keep this as a maxi, so what was the point? So far it's still a maxi dress!

The result? Yeah, I kind of love it. I wore it twice on holiday. Not sure how much wear it'll get outside Turkey or a similar hot location, but you never know. I love the kind of Grecian vibe it has. It's nice unbelted but Paul vetoed that, so I wore it belted. It works well, but it is the kind of dress you fiddle with quite a lot. But I like the swishy nature and I really love the shape of the skirt. I think I will have to find another excuse to wear it at home!
Grecian Goddess pose, obvs.

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Friday, 14 July 2017

Handmade Holiday Part 3

You can find parts 1 and 2 here.
While I was procrastinating on my dress, I made a pair of shorts. We have only been abroad once since we had the kids, and I hadn't done a beach style holiday in about 20 years so I was majorly stressing about what to pack. I only owned one pair of short which I have had for over 10 years so I thought a second pair wouldn't go amiss. There are a few shorts patterns I fancied trying but with the limitations of time, I decided to stick with something I knew would work - the Emerson by True Bias. Since I had made the cropped pants last year I knew they would work perfectly. 

I used a Robert Kaufman railroad denim that I've had in the stash for a number of years, so it was good to finally find a use for it. Its a lightweight denim, so not too thick or heavy for hot weather. 
The shorts came together with no issues whatsoever. It's a great pattern and a quick sew. At this point my overlocker was still working so the insides are overlocked in red, and I bound the inside waistband with Liberty bias binding. Because I can.
My only regrets with these shorts are that I used cheap elastic which isn't very stretchy, which makes them a bit difficult to get over my hips (especially on top of a wet swimsuit!) and which also makes the waistband a bit tighter than my others. In general they are slightly less comfortable than my cropped pants. I think I need to fiddle with the crotch curve a bit if I make another pair - I suspect the chambray of the cropped pants relaxes more than the denim and so is a bit more forgiving. They aren't in the pattern, but I also could have done with patch pockets on the back on these. However, they are still a great little workhorse of a pair of shorts. I wore them numerous times on holiday. They are comfy (just not as comfy as the others), and they go with pretty much everything. The length as drafted is perfect for me - not too long, not too short. I can imagine they will last me the next 10 years!



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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Handmade Holiday Part 2

My dress for my brother's wedding! :) (I posted part 1 here).
Me with my mum and my sister
From the start I wasn't overly committed to making my dress, but if I'm honest, I couldn't be bothered shopping. I kind of hate shopping these days. Anyway, I decided that if I did see a RTW dress I loved, that I would buy it, but in the meantime I'd have a look around for patterns and fabric. I wasn't hung up on a particular style of dress, but it needed to be easy to fit and to sew and comfortable to wear in the anticipated heat of Istanbul. I had seen the Sway dress by Papercut Patterns before, but it had never really stood out for me, but for some reason, this time it appealed. It fit the bill on all counts. If you don't know it, it's essentially a tent dress with a self made belt. No darts, no waistline. Very little fitting required.

I made a toile anyway, in poly crepe because I'd read that the armscye was low - it was - and I wanted to check the length. In the end I reduced the size of the armscye by a couple of cm, I think, and I also added to the length by about 10cm just for personal preference. I had to sew the toile at my parent's house because that was the week they ripped out the kitchen and we had a makeshift set up in our living room, with basically no room to swing an unpicker.




I may go back and finish this toile properly as I really love the colour.

For fabric, I initially fancied silk, but couldn't find anything I really loved. I then went to the Knitting and Stitching show in Edinburgh and found the perfect Atelier Brunette viscose crepe in a gorgeous burgundy colour on the Guthrie & Ghani stand. It's a lovely fabric in a gorgeous weight and it has a slight sheen to it, making it look very rich. It frayed pretty badly, but otherwise was nice to sew. I think the crepe made it much less prone to slipping than other viscoses/rayons I have used in the past. I would definitely recommend this fabric and would love to buy more. It comes in a range of colours.

I then procrastinated a lot. I have no idea why. I think I was nervous of cutting out the viscose for some reason, so when I forced myself down to it, it was only a couple of weeks before the wedding. Luckily it comes together quickly and is a very easy sew. I had a minor setback in that my overlocker broke halfway through making this, and I ended up having to finish the raw edges with my overlock stitch on my sewing machine. It works fairly well, but it's SLOW and obviously it doesn't trim the edges, so the insides of this are not as pretty as I would have liked.






The dress was made as per the instructions, other than I messed up the pockets and sewed them with raw edges showing on the outside, so I unpicked them and did without. They were also too low anyway, probably something to do with where I decided to lengthen the dress. I didn't make the belt loops, preferring to add chain stitch loops for a more subtle look. This pattern is reversible, but it's designed that the V neck is at the front. I far preferred the low V to the back, and thought the curved neck at the front was very flattering.
Thread chain belt loop. Also this gives a good indication of the sheen on the fabric.

I love the resultant dress. It's not the dressiest dress for a wedding - Feyza's family and friends were all far more glamourously dressed - but it was comfortable, and I jazzed it up with jewellery and heels. The wedding took place at 6pm, but it was still absolutely boiling at that point. The whole thing was outside, on the Asian side of Istanbul, right on the Bosphorus. It was absolutely stunning, but I was glad of a loose fitting, breathable dress (and that I'd thought to take extra deodorant with me), as it was almost unbearable for us fair skinned Scots. The heat did lessen though, as the sun went down and it became the most perfect balmy evening. It was such a fantastic wedding.















Congrats to my baby brother Ian and his beautiful wife Feyza.
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Monday, 10 July 2017

Handmade Holiday Part 1

Our lives have been dominated by 2 things over the past few months: our kitchen extension and my brother's wedding in Turkey. The extension is still rumbling on, and I think I will blog about that once it's finished, but the Turkey trip is now just some lovely memories.

Our trip to Turkey was a 2 parter. 4 days with family in Istanbul for the wedding, then a further 4 days, just the 4 of us in a resort in Oludeniz on the West coast. Two very different experiences, but both fantastic in their own way. 

I did think I would post about my handmade holiday. I took a fair number of self made items with me, but I didn't take photos of my outfits because I was either too busy doing stuff or too busy doing nothing. Of course I made my dress for the wedding, and also my niece's dress who was one of the flower girls. I also made a couple of other garments specifically for the holiday, and I will blog about each in turn, starting today with my niece's dress. I didn't think to take lots of photos, though, so apologies. I also now can't remember many of the details, so this'll be a short post!

I didn't intend to make my Annie's dress initially, and my sister didn't ask. I kept telling myself to keep my mouth shut - I had enough to be getting on with - but clearly didn't listen to myself. I came across the Made by Rae Geranium dress on Instagram and it was pretty much what my sister had described as having in mind. I sent her the photo and before I knew it, I had offered to make the dress. 
It was very straightforward to make. There are quite a few options (there is now an expansion pack with even more options available!), but we went for the plain round neck, the flounce sleeve and the gathered skirt. I suggested we use broderie anglais as it's pretty and quite dressy, but still cool enough for the Turkish heat and not so dressy she won't wear it again. My sister chose a circle broderie anglais from John Lewis. I told her to get cotton lawn or voile to line it but the fabric the woman sold her was more like muslin - very thin and it frayed like mad.


I did a quick and simple toile in an old sheet to check for size. The pattern comes in 2 age ranges. Annie was between the different size ranges, but it made sense to buy the larger range, so we could use it again in the future. It was a little big for her, so I just took some width out at the sides. I can't remember how much.
Strike a pose
Due to the transparency, I decided to use 2 layers of lining fabric to line the bodice. As I went along, it occurred to me that I could underline and line the bodice, which meant no visible seam allowances in the "holes" in the broderie. This actually worked really well. The bodice is very satifying to make, with all raw edges enclosed. The broderie anglais didn't fray, so I left the edges of the flutter sleeve unfinished. 





I did plan to double line the skirt, but I felt there might be too much bulk with the gathers, so just underlined it instead. The length was ideal as was, so I overlocked the hem and finished it with some lace trim from Hobbycraft. Finally, I handstitched on some peach coloured ribbon at the empire line (waist) to tie in with my sister in law's flowers. The buttons are flower shaped, again from John Lewis.

And that's it. With a flower crown, her outfit was complete! She looked absolutely gorgeous and did a fabulous job as a flower girl, along with her partner Betul (I have definitely spelt that wrong), my sister in law's cousin.
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