Friday, 27 January 2017

Grainline Week

This week I suddenly discovered my sewjo and went all out and completed 2 items within 5 days! It's all about extremes.
Let's start with the skirt. Long time readers/followers might recognise this. I have basically made a replica of a Moss Mini that I made a couple of years ago, minus the fit issues. It had occurred to me that a casual mini skirt wouldn't go amiss in my wardrobe, and idly doubted that it would be possible that Ikea would still sell the same fabric. Then, on Sunday, we were forced into an impromptu Ikea visit, and I came home with 1.5m of exactly the same fabric; a very dark grey, heavy weight, ribbed-style cotton. 

I had some fitting and technical issues with my first version, which you can read about here (how long was my hair?!) This time it went much more smoothly. I sized down to a 2, based on the finished garment measurements as last time the waist was too large. This is 2 sizes down from last time, but I was about 5 months postpartum at the time. Actually reading that old post made me kind of sad - nostalgic for that year of Mat leave when I had lots of time to sew, and didn't have to go to work! Still, at least these days I get to sleep.

I made the skirt pretty much as per the instructions, with the following changes:

  • Cut the size 2, but cut the biggest size length. I figured I could always take it up, but actually, I've left it as is.
  • The waistband facing is lining, rather than self fabric to reduce bulk.
  • Added back patch pockets.
  • I cut both the pocket facing and the pocket lining from lining fabric, again to reduce bulk.
  • I didn't interface anything. The fabric doesn't need it.
  • The smaller size meant it was a little snug over the hips, so I used the given 1/2" SA from waist to the bottom of the pocket opening, then reduced to 1/4" SA from there down. It just gives a teeny bit more wiggle room. 
  • Top stitched all the seams.
As per last time, the lining fabric is Liberty Tana Lawn, this time the Wiltshire pattern, left over from a Laurel blouse I made 100 years ago (and still have, so I can totally do the secret matchy thing at some point). 

I'm really happy with the fit this time. I basted the whole thing together, in case of any issues, but other than the aforementioned hip snugness, it was pretty bang on. I also found the fly zip so much easier this time. It was still tricky with some head scratching moments, but it made sense. Last time I was just blindly following instructions, but this time I got what it was I was meant to be doing. I hadn't done another since the last Moss, so is that improved sewing skills, or just improved concentration through actually having had some sleep? The button is recycled from the original skirt.

I had a day off work on Monday and the previous week was a hellish one, work-wise, so I treated myself to a full day of sewing, which meant I got most of this finished then. It took a couple more evenings to finish it off (basting means quite a bit of unpicking!). I felt victorious when it was finished! It was exactly what I wanted and the fit was just right. Do you get that feeling of "I can conquer the world, I can sew all the things", ever? That was me. 

So I was straight onto the t-shirt. This started life as a Hemlock that I started a couple of weeks ago. I have been planning on making the Hemlock for ages, and love the pattern on everyone I've seen it on, but it was just a disaster on me. It was huge. It's a one size pattern, and it's obviously meant to be oversized (which I love), but on me, it was just so wrong. I was resigned to chucking it in the bin, but the peoples of IG persuaded me that the fabric was worth saving, so the night after I finished Moss, I cut the Hemlock apart and cut a Lark from the pieces. (See? Grainline Week). I had ideally wanted a long or 3/4 sleeve tee, but the Hemlock sleeve pieces are pretty narrow, so I ended up cutting the cap sleeve from a small scrap of remaining fabric.

This isn't actually my first Lark. I made it once about a year ago in a black drapey fabric. I don't have a photo, but you can picture a black t-shirt. I didn't love the pattern, athough I did like it and it had been my intention to tinker with the fit a bit to make me love it a bit more. And then I didn't. So, I just cut this version exactly as per the pattern, and it actually fits a bit better. The black one fits well over the bust and I like the looseness over the stomach and hips, but the sleeves and arm scye feel too long/low in the black version. But I'm happy with them in this version. I did use a slightly bigger SA (3/8" rather than 1/4"), but I guess the fabric also makes a difference. 
I would also like to alter the neckline. It's fine, but I wouldn't describe it as boat neck. It's certainly not my preferred boatneck - too low and wide - so next time I think I'll add maybe 1/2" to it, keeping the shape. I do love the fact that there is no neckband on the boatneck though. 

Finally, I removed a whopping 3.5" off the length! Seriously, why is this pattern so long?! I removed the length from the pattern piece, but I just removed it from the bottom. It worked on the black version, so I just did the same again. Actually I ended up removing a further 3/4" from the length because I clearly did not cut the bottom straight. 

The fabric for the tee was from Sweet Mercerie, and I've had it for over a year. Cora tells me it's a cotton mix and its navy with stars and moons on it. Very pretty but terrible to sew. It was very difficult to maintain an accurate SA as the fabric kept wanting to list to the left. No idea why, but my topstitching on the neckline and hems are pretty awful as a result. I also noticed a hole in the fabric once I was finished, but it's near the hem, so it's not noticeable.  

I finished the Lark in one night, but there's not much to sewing a t-shirt and it's only 3 pattern pieces. I think the longest part was pressing and sewing the neckline and hems.

In the end, despite the faults, I do like the tee and it's infinitely more wearable in it's current state. It's just a pity that it'll be covered up by jumpers and sweatshirts for the next few months!

Ref the photos - I just realised that I can use my phone as a remote for my camera. What a difference. although it takes some getting used to! I should also probably acknowledge my little "helper" during this photo session! ;)

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Completed: Brocade Christmas Skirt

Hello! This is the last make of 2016, finally making it onto the blog.

I wasn't planning on making anything for our Christmas night out, but Jen put brocade in my head, I found the below picture in a magazine (when ostensibly looking for inspiration for her) and I was sold! Plus I always like the challenge of being able to "make it cheaper than that!".
You'll notice that the finished skirt isn't the same as the inspiration picture. I actually started out trying to hack the Megan Nielsen Kelly skirt, but it wasn't as simple as I expected and it really just wasn't working out. I'm not sure why, but the while the front looked great, the back just looked terrible. I tried a few things, but after 2 muslins, I was kind of losing interest. Luckily, I then came across a beautiful skirt posted on IG by Elisalex. A quick chat with her told me all I needed to know to get one of my own!!!

There is no pattern for this. I just took my waist measurement, added an inch for ease (I wanted to be able to eat in this skirt), and then multiplied that by 3. That turned out to be pretty much exactly twice the width of my fabric, which kept things simple and avoided seams in odd places. I then box pleated the skirt to fit my waist measurement (plus the inch). I created 4 pleats: front, back, and each side. I added a waistband, plus an invisible zip and Bob's your Uncle!! I used the selvedge, because the fabric was a nightmare for fraying - I even found gold thread in my lunch at work one day! The rest of the raw edges are overlocked and the hem is hand sewn, something I haven't done in ages.

The fabric is a poly brocade from ebay, and it was interesting to work with. The best way to describe it is bouncy. It has zero drape, but it does press pretty well. I used a pressing cloth the whole way through. In fact I made the pressing cloth especially, from a rectangle of silk organza, overlocked on all sides. Simple and so, so effective.

Due to the lack of drape, when I first pleated the skirt and tried it on, it was HUGE. Paul actually asked if I was going to the party as someone from the 17th Century. It took a lot of trial and error pressing to get it looking as I wanted, but in the end, I pressed the full length of the underside of the pleats (i.e. the bits inside the pleat), and just the top of the outside of the pleats. This gave a nice A line shape to the skirt which works really well.

At first I was unsure, but I now love this skirt. It's different to anything else I own, but that's good. I felt great wearing it, and I got loads of compliments on our night out. By now, my colleagues know me well enough to ask "so, did you make your outfit?", but they are still impressed when I reply "yes". It's interesting, because I think that the wow thing about this skirt is the fabric, not the sewing. Not that there is anything wrong with the sewing, but its just a simple pleated skirt at the end of the day. There then followed a long and alcohol induced conversation with one of my team, who is also studying graphic design, about creativity, it's meaning, inspiration and influence.

I decided early on that I was not going to make a top to go with this, time constraints what they are these days. Instead I bought this velvet off the shoulder top from Finery. It looks fab with the skirt, but dancing in long sleeve velvet top gets pretty sweaty pretty quickly, so not sure I'd wear the two together to a similar "do" in future. Both were perfect though for dinner with friends and also for Christmas day. We get dressed up for Christmas dinner at my parent's house. I was glad of the extra waistband ease then, for sure!

Yay for sewing and yay for being able to save around £250 on a skirt!

Friday, 6 January 2017


Happy New Year!

My blog feed is full of 2016 reflections and 2017 resolutions, goals and #makenine plans. I'm really loving reading these, but I just haven't felt like writing one myself (although I do appear to be doing just that, right now). I dunno. I've been feeling a bit ambivalent towards sewing lately. Life in December was mega busy. Work is OK, but very busy and quite stressful and December itself just brings lots with it. Honestly, nearly every evening, P was asking me what that evening's jobs were, and there were always several. That didn't stop me from finishing my brother's cushions, or from making a party skirt (yet to be blogged), but if I'm honest, they felt more like a chore than fun.

These past couple of weeks (Christmas aside) I've just felt exhausted, irritable and lacking in any energy, creative or otherwise. No patterns or blog posts are inspiring me, I have had no interest in fabric sales - just as well, as I am well and truly skint. It goes without saying that no sewing has been done.

I should say, before this all gets too depressing, that I am fine, and that we did have a very lovely Christmas and New Year. I spent time with friends who live at the other ends of the country, I had quite a few nights out, I introduced the boys to Mary Poppins, the kids performed Christmas songs for us, we built lego, scooted on new scooters, listened to endless Roald Dahl audiobooks and decorated a dazzle ship and joined in family ceilidh at the National Museum of Scotland's "Sprogmanay".

So, there will be no resolutions for me, not right now anyway. My plans, such as they are, are to sew things that make me happy and that I will wear, and to reduce my fabric stash (either by sewing it, or getting rid of it). I'm not setting objectives or goals, but I will continue to track my spending, because that was insightful and worthwhile. I would like to work through some of my queue, because some of those ideas still stand, and I'd like to do more block printing and stencilling where possible.

That's me. What about you?

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