Friday, 2 February 2018

Kinder Cardigan Review from The Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics by Wendy Ward



Ever since getting wind of a new book in the pipeline from Wendy I’ve been excited about its release.

My husband very kindly bought me a signed copy for Christmas and it arrived at my house on publication day. I already had decided I would make the Kinder Cardigan first, as it’s a classic wardrobe staple that I’ve been missing. I was so eagerly anticipating the arrival of the book that my fabric had been pre washed and ironed in readiness.






I have all 3 of Wendy’s dressmaking books now, as well as some of her sewing patterns. I really like her succinct written instructions and hand drawn diagrams. Everything is explained logically and the construction of all the garments is as simple as possible.

I don’t have a huge amount of time at the moment, so I had to split the making of this cardi into 3 separate stages to make it manageable.

Stage 1 was reading through the instructions, checking what size to make and tracing off the pattern in the right size. I have to say, the tracing was really easy! It was much more confusing in Wendy’s other books, where there were more patterns overlapping each other. The patterns do overlap, but are really clear to see and are colour coded. This stage took me about an hour.

Stage 2 was cutting out my fabric. I had been saving this lovely, drapey, striped loopback jersey for over a year - just waiting for the perfect project. It was from Girl Charlee UK and is long sold out, but they have just got a new range of cosy jerseys in that look lovely. As I was stripe matching, this stage took me about an hour too.

Stage 3 was sewing. I have my sewing machine and overlocker in an Ikea bureau, which means they are out of sight and reach but already plugged in and ready to go. This really speeds up my sewing time and allows me to start and stop much more easily. I actually managed to get a rare evening where my daughter fell asleep before 9, so I was able to sew the entire cardigan in a single session, it took me 1 hour and 40 minutes in total. I took my time because I wanted to match my stripes well and it was my first time sewing this pattern. I think if I made this again without any pattern matching it would be under 1 and a half hours.

The reason I’ve included all my timings is because I find it really useful, before I embark on a new project, to know how involved and time consuming it might be. As I don’t have much time to myself, I like to plan it quite carefully to make the most of it.





I’m very pleased with the finished cardigan. The length is perfect for me and those big pockets are lovely! The fabric I used is probably a little too loose and drapey for this pattern. It doesn’t look as structured as Wendy’s samples and the pockets gape open. I might add a little button or press stud at the top of the pockets for when my hands aren’t in them!


I’m looking forward to trying more patterns from the book and will definitely be making more of these cardigans!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

My 2018 Make Nine Plans

I’ve already posted my 2018 Make Nine on Instagram, but thought I would go into more detail here, including my fabric choices for each project and my approximate timeline.

I thought really hard about each of the makes I’m proposing and tried to get a good mix of projects, from a range of designers. There are some simple projects and some more complicated, time consuming ones. 8 out of 9 are patterns I have never tried before.

I will go through them in the order I plan to make them in.

1 - Juniper Cardigan by Jennifer Lauren Handmade




I’ve had my eye on this pattern for a while. I love both versions, but am planning to make the cropped version with long sleeves. My brother bought me some gorgeously soft sweatshirt jersey for Christmas in mustard and navy, and I’m planning to completely copy one of Jennifer’s samples and make a colour blocked version. The jerseys are bolt End remnants so I may have to get creative to get everything to fit!

I’m aiming to get this sewn up this month, as I am in desperate need of a fitted cardi in my wardrobe and my fabric choice is perfect for the cold weather we are having in the UK.

2 - Ilsley Skirt by Marilla Walker.





This is the 1 pattern I have made before, for the Refashioners challenge in 2015. I made it out of an old shirt. For this version I want to make it a little longer, about knee length.

I have some gorgeous Robert Kaufman chambray in my stash that would be perfect for this. Chambray is probably my all time favourite fabric, so lovely to work with and really versatile.

I thought this would pair really well with the Juniper Cardigan, so it’s up next!

3 - Camera Bag





On Instagram I posted a photo of a camera bag from the latest Mollie Makes issue, but after a bit more thought I’ve decided to draft my own pattern to better fit my camera and my needs.

I’m going to use some heavyweight fabric from my stash (to be confirmed once I’ve had a rummage) and I want proper fastenings and an adjustable shoulder strap. I’m going to add in more pockets for my phone, memory cards and lens cap and make a matching lens pouch for my additional lens.

I’m really excited about this. I’ve drafted patterns for bags before and I love thinking through all the details and construction.

4 - Simple Sew Sophia Top and Skirt





I really like the Sophia outfit and have plans for quite a dressy top and then a skirt that can either be smart or casual - to increase its wearability.

For the top I have some bright pink stretch cotton velveteen. I very rarely ware pink, but thought I’d give it a try as it’s quite a small amount of it. I like the simple, cropped shape of the top and have seen some lovely versions of it. 

For the skirt I was planning black cupro that I have in my stash. I may need to line it, I’ll decide when I start sewing it up.

I’m hoping to get started on these around May time. I’m not actually sure when I will get chance to wear these, as I’m not going out at all (due to a little breastfeeder) but I don’t have any smart separates in my wardrobe and think these will be versatile and useful.

5 - Sew Over It Doris Dress





I’m planning to make the Doris Dress for a wedding in July. I need something that can open at the front for breastfeeding, though my daughter will be 10 months old by then so will probably be feeding less frequently. I’ll make the longer length and have some dusky blue cupro in my stash that will be perfect for July. I have bought some yellow shoes already to go with this!

6 - True Bias Lander Pants

I want to make these to coincide with the #sewmystyle challenge on Instagram, so will be sewing these in July. I’ve made a pair of Sew Over It ultimate trousers once before, a couple of years ago, but never made a fly fronted pair of trousers. I thought these would be a good introduction to jeans making as they require less fitting than skinny jeans. I love the high waist and they just look like they will be flattering and easy to wear. I have two fabric options for these, some black twill and some khaki green twill. I might end up making both!

7 - Wrap Dress from Simple Modern Sewing





I love wrap dresses and one of my favourite makes from last year was the Seamwork Magazine Reggie dress. I made it towards the end of my pregnancy and the empire line style worked really well with my bump. As I’m pear shaped I tend to avoid empire waist lines, so was looking for a wrap dress that ties around the natural waistline. There are lots of clean, simple designs in the Simple Modern Sewing book. I plan to make the wrap dress first, but would also like to try the loose fit trousers and some of the tops. I want to make this in time to go back to work at the end of summer. 

8 - Colette Patterns Beignet Skirt





I’ve liked this skirt for as long as I’ve been following Tilly’s blog, which is a long time! I have so so many fabrics in my stash that would work for this, but will probably use a Robert Kaufman teal herringbone flannel that I picked up from the Cool Crafting stand at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show.

This fabric is absolutely beautiful. I stupidly only bought one metre, so I’m hoping that I can squeeze the Beignet out of this if I make the facings from a different fabric.

If that fails, I've got some teal needlecord that would also be a good match for this pattern. This is the perfect autumn skirt, as it’s fully lined I can wear it with tights and it will be useful for work too.

9 - Waffle Patterns Yuzu Coat





This is by far the biggest and most complicated project I have planned for this year. I’m saving it till last as I need as much brainpower and time as I can get! My approach is to take it slowly and make it over a couple of months. I’m planning to start in September and hopefully finish by Bonfire Night!

I have some teal wool boucle fabric, which has a good amount of body and should work well. I need to find the perfect buttons and lining still!


I didn’t end up making all of my Make Nine last year, but when I decided on the patterns I didn’t realise I would become pregnant in January! So that meant most of my pattern choices were no longer suitable. This year I’ve focused on a wide range of patterns that I know are missing from my wardrobe and are easy to fit in to my daily life. There would be no point including lots of dresses as whilst I’m still breastfeeding I can’t wear them! I’m hoping this more considered approach will give me more success this year.

My sewing time is pretty limited at the moment so I’m not putting pressure on myself to achieve a lot of new projects every month. I hope to take part in lots of Instagram challenges and competitions as I really enjoy them. I’m also hoping to blog more regularly - I’m just awful at getting my makes photographed! Does anyone else have that problem? Every year I tell myself I will start vlogging, but I still haven’t filmed a single vlog. I’m pretty nervous about it to be honest. I hate the sound of my own voice and I think I’ll be really awkward. I really enjoy watching other sewing youtubers though so I hope I can conquer my fear and get started!

Friday, 29 December 2017

Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry Dress Review

I have had my eye on the Mayberry Dress from Jennifer Lauren Handmade since it was released, but as I was pregnant at the time I waited until I had had my baby before tackling it!



The instructions were amazing, I was very impressed with how thorough they were and how clear the diagrams were. Even though there are some slightly more advanced techniques in the pattern, the instructions are so clear that I think a beginner could tackle them. These are the best set in sleeves I've ever done!

The instructions clearly explain which PDF pages need printing for each cup size option and sleeve length, meaning that you don’t waste paper printing pattern pieces that aren’t needed.

I particularly love the different cup size options. The pattern comes with 4 different bodice front pieces for each side, which minimises the need to do any bust adjustments and means you are more likely to get a better fit straight out of the pack. This is actually the first time I’ve used an independent pattern company that provides different cup sizes and I’m very impressed with the fit.





The fabric I used wasn't ideal, it was a quilting weight cotton and it's actually a bit stiff for this project. The tie waist feature and gathered sleeve cuff would work better in something a little more fluid. I've got some lovely, fine chambray that I'm going to use for my next one. It’s also a fabric design that I loved when I ordered it, but don’t actually think the colour suits me. I love the dress so much I’ve still been wearing it loads though!

I didn't make any alterations to this pattern. The cup sizes mean the fit was pretty close without making any adjustments. The tie waist also allows some adjustments once you are wearing it. The only thing I will change next time is to lengthen the skirt a couple of inches, it's just a personal preference but I would be more comfortable if it sat at my knees. I'm 5'8 for reference, so lengthening things is a common adjustment for me.






I am planning a lot more of these. It's a great dress for the winter with long sleeves, as I don't have many. I also think the style is perfect for anything smart-casual. I could wear this to work easily as well as at the weekends, it's so easy and comfortable.





The other element of this dress that I wanted to review is its suitability for nursing and post-partum mums. Even when I was pregnant I thought it would be a great post-baby dress. I was right! The drawstring waist means it can be adjusted as your tummy shrinks down and is really flattering. I was desperate to get out of maternity clothes and wear something with a waist, but didn't want to sew anything with a fixed waistband whilst my figure was still changing. The other great thing is the button front, which allows access for breastfeeding. As it's asymmetrical, one side is easier than the other but it still works well. For easier and quicker access you could replace the buttons for snaps.





Overall I love this dress pattern and would recommend it to everyone! I'm looking forward to making a lot more, at least one for each season!

Monday, 30 October 2017

The Refashioners 2017

When Portia announced this year's Refashioners challenge was to transform a suit I was slightly flummoxed. Suits aren't a part of my wardrobe, my dress code at work is pretty casual so I have no occasion to wear a suit.
 
As I didn't have any laying around I searched for a second hand suit in my local charity shops and then stumbled upon this vintage burgundy velvet skirt suit on eBay. It was part of an old lady's house clearance. The suit is vintage size 14, which is equivalent to a 10 today. This partly determined what I could do with it as I didn't have a lot of fabric to play with.
 
 
 
 
I had a baby 6 weeks ago, which determined a further two aspects of this refashion:
1 - time
2 - fit
I decided I needed a relaxed garment that would still work once I've lost my baby weight. I'm not very comfortable with my current post baby body so I didn't want to make anything tight or skimpy. I'm also not getting much sleep and have very limited free time so needed this make to be speedy. I ended up completing it over about 3 sewing sessions with my baby attached to me in the sling. Luckily my sewing machine is pretty quiet!
 
With the deadline less than a week away I got started and due to the time pressure I was quite gutsy and started chopping in to the jacket. I've listed my steps below:
1 - remove lining, shoulder pads, bulk and structure
2 - cut collar off
3 - cut cuffs off
4 - trim hem straight and trim front edges straight
5 - cut bottom hem shape for ribbing, leaving hem longer where it meets the zip at the front
6 - attach ribbing
7 - insert zip
To attach the ribbing I just eye-balled the depth of the cuffs and hem and attached them as you would to any jersey garment. I gathered the sleeves into the cuffs so that they had the typical bomber jacket shape. I cut a straight strip for the collar and then tapered it in at the front edges as I pinned it on.
 


The original button holes are still visible but this is the only thing on the jacket that hints at its former use and I actually like that.
 
I'm so pleased with the finished result! This is such a wearable jacket and was really quick to make, much quicker than making a bomber jacket from scratch! It was also a lot cheaper and reused an unwanted velvet suit! I think this is a really versatile garment, perfect for feeling a little more dressed up but still comfy! I've got my eyes peeled for jackets when I go into charity shops now, I'd really love a tweed bomber jacket.

The best thing about this refashion is it has taken a jacket in my usual size, that wasn't the right style, and turned it into something I will wear a lot with just the addition of some ribbing and a zip. It was very simple and quick and didn't require a pattern or any difficult fabric-wrangling. It takes me back to my teenage years, where I had to adapt things to fit or suit my style and it shows that a simple approach can be successful!

 

Monday, 4 September 2017

Seamwork Reggie Dress - Pattern Review

I never opt to make or buy empire line dresses because I am quite pear shaped so they don't do much for me.

 

However, when I saw the Reggie Dress from Seamwork Magazine I completely loved it. The pattern description said it was maternity friendly, and as I was well into my 3rd trimester and running out of clothes I thought I'd give it a try!

 

I got the PDF pattern printed at A0 from Hobbs Reprographics for a few pounds, it was well worth it to avoid all the cutting and sticking!

 

I cut a straight size 8 based on a combination of my pre-pregnancy measurements and the built-in ease within the pattern. I wanted the option to wear this dress post-pregnancy so didn't want it to swamp me afterwards. It has turned out a little small in places, but it's still really comfy, I think I've put on more weight all over in the last couple of weeks than I was anticipating. I was very pleasantly surprised that I didn't have to make any adjustments, it's so easy to fit with the relaxed shape.

 

I found the instructions really clear like all the Seamwork patterns I've done. The only part I had to re-read and think about was the cuffs, but it results in a really neat finish inside and out so it's worth taking some time over.

 

I used a pale blue cotton / linen mix from my stash. It's lovely to sew and wear but takes forever to iron and still looks creased afterwards! I really fancy a gingham version, but we are at the end of summer now so might save that for next year!

 

I was hoping the wrap front of the dress would make this nursing friendly, but I'm not sure access will be easy enough. I'll give it a go still though! I think the relaxed shape will be quite flattering on my post-baby body and I'll be trying to avoid clingy clothes for a while!

 

I would really recommend this pattern, these pictures are taken at 38 weeks pregnant so it's one that could easily see you through a whole pregnancy.

 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Simple Sew Lapwing Trousers - Tutorial

The Lapwing Trousers from Simple Sew are relaxed, drawstring waist, casual trousers. I made them from this lovely, soft Tilda cotton from White Tree Fabrics.

 

 

 

After laundering and cutting out your fabric, lay the front trouser pieces on top of the back and align the pockets, right sides together. This allows you to understand how the trouser pieces all come together.

 

 

 

Lay a pocket piece on top of a trouser leg, right sides together. Sew between the notches using a 1cm seam allowance. Repeat for all pocket and trouser pieces. Make sure the fabric is right sides together and the pockets are facing the right way (pointing downwards)

 

 

 

Place the trouser front on top of the trouser back, right sides together, with pockets aligned and sticking out.

 

Sew around the pockets and finish the seam. You can overlock, zig zag stitch or just pink the seams if the fabric is stable.

 

 

 

Sew the trouser front to the back down the side seams using a 1.5cm seam allowance. Sew down to the first pocket notch, then start again after the second pocket notch. The line of sewing should be stepped in slightly from the line of sewing of the pocket. Finish the seam and press open.

 

 

 

Next, fold the trousers, right sides together, so that the back crotch seams are aligned. Sew the crotch seam with a 1.5cm seam allowance. Finish the seam and press open. Repeat for the front crotch seam.

 

 

 

Fold the trousers so the front is on top of the back. Align the front crotch and back crotch seam and pin. Pin down each in-seam to the hem. Sew the in-seam, finish the seam and press open.

 

 

 

To sew the buttonholes for the drawstring opening, I used a small button in my automatic buttonhole foot. Sew along the markings shown on the paper pattern.

 

 

 

Open the buttonholes using a stitch ripper with a pin across the top of the buttonhole. This stops you from ripping right through the stitches.

 

 

 

Fold up and press 1cm wrong sides together around the waistband. Fold the waistband in half and top stitch down from the right side to create the drawstring channel.

Fix a safety pin to the end of the drawstring and thread through the channel.

 

 

 

Try the trousers on to determine how much they need to be hemmed. I pressed up 1cm, then turned up the hem again by 2cm and top stitched in place.

 

 

 

You're finished! Easy, comfy trousers that are enjoyable to make and wear!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you have fun making these, please get in touch if you have any questions, I'd love to see your trousers!

Jenny

 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Simple Sew Patterns - Chelsea Collection Blouse and Skirt

 

I've just finished my Simple Sew Patterns Chelsea Blouse and Skirt and I love them!

 

The Chelsea Collection was a free pattern with Issue 29 of Love Sewing Magazine. It comes with blouse, trouser and skirt patterns. I tried the blouse and skirt patterns because I loved the look of both of them. Also, what I love about the patterns that come with magazines is that there are tips on technique right where you need them, relating specifically to the pattern.

 

This was the first time I had tried several techniques:

- shirring elastic

- flat fell seams

- neck facing

- key hole neckline

Whilst this is not a perfect execution of all of these, I have to say I'm very pleased with the result! My facing rolls to the front slightly, my keyhole is a bit big and I had no top stitching thread, but I still like how it's turned out. I'm just feeling very positive about it.

 

I really like the style of both pieces and have plans for loads more. I want to do a white blouse for work, a silk blouse for 'best' and a lighter denim skirt with metal buttons.