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.

 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Our First Trip to Centerparcs!

We have just returned from out first stay at Centerparcs Sherwood Forest and we had a great time! When we booked, about 6 months ago, I struggled to find any up to date reviews, so I thought I would write one!

 

About Us:

My husband and I wanted a long weekend away with our just-turned-1 year old to celebrate our first year as parents and his recent graduation. We enjoy reasonably active holidays, we were never ones to spend a week on the beach - even before children. We had heard excellent things about Centerparcs and its family-friendly vibe, so thought it would be perfect for us.

 

Accommodation:

The Sherwood Forest site is just over an hour away from us, so as Little S hates the car we opted for the closest park! We booked a one bedroom executive apartment. This wasn't the cheapest option, there are studio-style apartments available, but we wanted a door on the bedroom so that we had the option of an evening once the baby was asleep. Our apartment was located adjacent to the car park, which we thought was great when we turned up. We got our own allocated parking space and unloading the car was easy. We had 2 private terraces, one from the living room with a barbecue and one from the bedroom. Large sliding doors and roof lights ensured the spaces were bright and connected to the forest. I was very impressed with how well designed and spacious the apartment was.

 

 

 

However, the apartment was looking a little tired and dated. Some things were broken or missing and it was shabby in places. I know that the site is currently being refurbished, so I'm guessing these apartments will be upgraded in the near future. The other downside turned out to be the location. Whilst the proximity to the car park was great initially, there was no footpath from the apartment into the centre of the complex, meaning we had to walk through the car park. This means that the charm of staying 'in the forest' was completely lost. After walking around the park, there are only a handful of apartments like ours that are accessed through the car park, so we just were unlucky.

 

Staff and Facilities

As we expected, the staff at Centerparcs were very good, keen to help and friendly. The facilities are also excellent and families with children are very well catered for. When we arrived we went for lunch at The Pancake House and it was great! There was a little soft play area to keep Little S amused whilst we waited, there were an abundance of high chairs available, the food came quickly and I thought the prices were really reasonable. I had heard that eating out at Centerparcs was very expensive, but I thought it was on a par with any other tourist destination.

 

 

 

Lots of the play areas and activities are only suitable for older children. Ours isn't quite walking confidently yet, so struggled with the bark chipping in the play areas. The extra activities are mainly from 18 months+, which I understand, there isn't much that can be done with a baby.

 

Subtropical Paradise

The swimming pool is the main event really, it sits at the heart of the park under an impressive ETFE dome. Indoor and outdoor pools merge, Rapids and flumes weave through the space, trees and plants cascade down to the water, it looks pretty amazing. Even though it was busy, there were plenty of chairs free and space in all the pools. We didn't test out the flumes as it wasn't possible with the babe and we didn't fancy queuing solo. There were a couple of warm shallow pools with little slides that were perfect for a 1 year old. Little S got a bit cold and fed up after about 45 mins so we kept our swimming time quite short.

 

 

The changing facilities are well designed, though a few more showers would be a welcome addition. I would personally have liked to see some more slides that were adult and child friendly, ie that parents can go down with younger children. There were only the big flumes and slides for children, with no cross-over slides for everyone.

 

 

Cycling

We were expecting a rabbit-warren of cycling routes in and around the park, as cycling seems to be a focus of the stay. However, there was only one trail around the perimeter of the park, it seems everyone just uses their bikes to get to and from their accommodation. We asked about cycling at the adjacent Sherwood Pines Forest Park and you can cycle from Centerparcs into Sherwood Pines. This is not clear at all and the lady we asked seemed almost reluctant to tell us. We went off cycling to Sherwood Pines and it was fantastic. I feel like the proximity of this to Centerparcs is a real bonus and it's strange that they don't make more of it. For anyone looking to do more cycling on their break, Sherwood Pines have so many different trails, catering to different levels of fitness and ability, it's really good.

 

 

 

Outside Space

A little beach has been created by the boating lake, which got really busy on the sunny days. Apart from this though we couldn't find anywhere to sit down on the ground outside. We kept looking for some grass for Little S to be able to crawl round on, but there isn't any. There are play areas, but the floor covering is bark chippings - not baby friendly. Around our apartment there was the option of grass, but there were nettles everywhere so that ruled out crawling. There is a big driving range on site with lots of grass so it's obviously possible. I just think it's a shame that there is nowhere for kids to properly play outside. I guess the aim is to get everyone doing the paid activities rather than encouraging free games of rounders.

 

 

Summary

Overall we really enjoyed our stay and would definitely like to return. However, I think I will wait until we can go with another family or our son is old enough to do a bit more. We felt like we couldn't make the most of it as a couple with a baby.

 

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse Tutorial

Welcome to the tutorial for the Simple Sew Peter Pan Blouse. This cute blouse features a collar, grown on sleeves and a button back.


1 - First things first, work out what size you need to make by taking your measurements and using the size chart on the pattern envelope to find the best fit. Buy all your supplies and pre-wash your fabric. I always iron my paper pattern pieces before cutting them and I cut them out roughly then go back and cut around the correct size. Some people like to trace their paper patterns so that they have all the sizes intact, but I feel like life is too short!

One thing to point out that you need to keep in mind throughout sewing this blouse is seam allowances are 1cm. This is smaller than the standard 1.5cm, so make sure you stick to it or the blouse will be ill fitting and the pieces won’t line up!

Cut out all the fabric pieces according to the instructions and lay plans.



2 - Iron interfacing onto one set of collar pieces.




3 - Then pin two collars right sides together and sew around the outer curve. Take it slowly around the curve so that it is nice and rounded. 



4 - Trim down the seam allowance or notch the curve. This is so that when it is turned through to the right side there is minimal bulk and the curve is smooth. I like to use pinking shears to get really close to the line of stitching - it works a little like a cross between trimming the seam allowance and notching. Repeat for the other collar.



5 - Turn the collars round so that they are right sides out. Roll the edges between your fingers to get the seams to sit flat.



6 - Give them a good press.



7 - Moving onto the main part of the blouse, pin the shoulder seams together, with right sides of the fabric together and sew. Pin the side seams together, with right sides of the fabric together, and sew. Finish the seams and press open. On a fabric that does not fray too much, I just pink the seams. Other options are to use a zig-zag stitch or an overlocker.



8 - Fold the centre back seams over by 5mm, right sides together, press and sew.



9 - Place the collar on top of the blouse, so that the right side of the blouse and the right side of the collar are both facing up. Pin into place.



10 - Sew the collar to the blouse



11 - Pin the bias binding to the collar edge. The right side of the binding should be face down, against the right side of the collar. The fold line of the binding should sit just a little further out from the line of stitching you have just sewn (or directly on top of it if you are very neat!)



12 - Sew along the fold line of the binding, all the way around the collar.



13 - This is what it should look like so far, with the binding flipped up.



14 - Trim the collar and blouse seam down so that it is in line with the binding. Press the binding up away from the collar, towards the wrong side of the blouse.



15 - Making sure the collar is out of the way, sew the binding down to the blouse. You will be sewing from the wrong side at the edge of the binding. Make sure the collar is pulled away so that you don’t sew through it. Press the neckline well.



16 - This is what it looks like from the right side with the collar lifted up - a line of stitching all the way around the neck.



17 - And this is it from the wrong side. The bias binding should only be visible on the inside.



18 - With the collar folded back down into place, the binding is not visible and the finish is really neat.



19 - Now to finish the arm holes. With the right side of the fabric facing up, pin bias binding around the armhole, right sides together, starting at the underarm seam. Leave a little extra at the beginning and the end to overlap. Start sewing a couple of centimetres after the underarm seam and stop a little before it.



20 - Pin the binding together at the arm hole seam and sew along this line.



21 - Trim the ends of the bias binding, press open and continue sewing to the arm hole edge. This produces a nice flat, continuous line of binding that perfectly fits the armhole.



22 - Fold the binding to the inside of the blouse and press. Sew from the wrong side at the edge of the binding.



23 - Give the arm hole a thorough press using lots of steam. It can be a little tricky to get the binding to stretch around the curves of the arm hole, so take your time. This is how it should look, with the binding only visible on the inside.



24 - Turn up the hem by 5mm and press. Turn up again by another 5mm and press. Pin in place and sew the hem.



25 - Ensure that you follow the curve of the hem to maintain the shape of the blouse.



26 - Using the notches on the centre back as a guide, turn the centre back seams in and press. This creates the button placket. Sew along the edge of the placket. At the top, the bias binding from the collar should now be enclosed within the button placket.



27 - Mark out the position that you would like the buttons down the back. Refer to the pattern piece for guidance or use your own placement.



28 - I have a one step buttonhole function on my machine, so it is nice and easy to sew multiple buttonholes.



29 - When ripping open the button holes, put a pin at the top. This will prevent you from ripping past the buttonhole opening.




30 - Pin the centre backs together at the top and bottom, then use the buttonholes to mark the position of the buttons on the other side.






31 - Sew the buttons on and give the blouse a final press. You are finished!




I hope this tutorial has been helpful! Please get in touch if you have any questions, and I would love to see your finished blouses!