Thursday, 29 January 2015

Completed: A Vintage Casual Two-Piece for Josephine



Hello hello!

It's a bit nippy at the moment, right? London hasn't been hit by snow yet (at least not where I live) but it's cold enough for numb feet and red noses.  Brr!

Anyway, here is my first make of 2015, modelled by (and made for) the beautiful Josephine. It's from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual and is the Sweetheart Top- modified as per her angora sweater to not have the sweetheart and to have slightly puffed sleeves (although I did keep the neck band as I thought it would look better in this fabric). It's also the Easy Knit Pencil Skirt, also from Gertie's book.  


This was a slightly late birthday present; things were going really well for delivering on schedule but then my twin needle started being a real pest so I had to unpick my first go at the collar binding and recut a new one. I decided to do a narrow zigzag (or 'wobble stitch' as Gertie calls it) on my second attempt at the collar binding, but grit my teeth and twin-needled the hem on sleeves and across the bottom of the top. The thread in the right side of the needle kept snapping, not sure if it was getting twisted somehow or if I used the wrong type of thread for the job? I was using an old thread that was a perfect colour match from my stash but as it was cotton and probably at least 30 years old this may have been the culprit as parts of it were a little fuzzy so liable to catch. I did at least learn from my first twin needle nightmare and have a stretch twin needle now, but it has had a fair bit of use so maybe is just blunt?


Anyway other than that this was a simple enough make! Enough so that the top didn't feel quite enough of a gift on its own, so I decided to add the Easy Knit Pencil Skirt. It really was easy! I have lots of plans to make myself several versions. I had to make this once a couple of inches shorter as I didn't have *quite* enough fabric leftover, but I got the skirt and the top from a mere metre of sweatshirting bought from the ever-fabulous Simply Fabrics in Brixton. 

I love the colour on Josephine- although I have to confess it reminds me a bit of our old school uniform, but as Jo and I met at that school it doesn't bother me too much. Some of the poses are inspired by the fact that I've made yet another outfit that looks a little bit like it might be an Air Hostess uniform!


Only slight issue is that the top is a little tight on Jo- she had a bit of a squeeze getting it on (although I can tell from the photo above she's wearing a tank underneath, so hopefully the top by itself will be a little more roomy). I had to guess her measurements for the sizing, but I think maybe this sweatshirting has less stretch than required. It does have a fleecy backing which does give it some stability. Hopefully it will loosen up! Anyway you can see from the photo below that it allows a full range of movement, so still wearable! This was going to be an outtake as my camera's button is a bit sticky so Jo's face is a bit out-of-focus and the moment had almost past, but I love the pose so much that it's staying in (hope you don't mind Jo!). 


I can't wait to make more from Gertie's book, but am already cracking on with my first project for me of 2015- a Delphine Skirt from Tilly's Love at First Stitch. It's coming together really quickly too so hopefully I'll have something new to share soon! Tempted to get cracking on some cosy PJs from the book soon to help me through this cold snap.

What have you been making? Any twin-needle tips?

NorseOtter xxx



Sunday, 18 January 2015

Grand Sewing Plans for 2015 and my Vintage Pattern Pledge

Hello hello!

My, I haven't been as productive as I would like lately- getting back into the swing of work after my first proper Christmas break in about 5 years has been, well, exhausting! And cycling for a couple of hours a day when I'd got comfortably used to lazing around, grazing, and not really having to shift my carcass very far has been a killer. Thus I've been running a bit late on my sewing plans for a friend's birthday, and not got anywhere on all the lovely things I'm dying to sew for myself!

I have just about had enough time to think about it all, even if I haven't quite had the energy to do it. So, here's a bit of a list of plans for 2015's sewing. I'm sure there will be other temptations along the way, but these are all pretty sensible garments that I can't wait to own so hopefully I won't stray too far! On last count I had around 36 in the pipeline, and I only made 17 things last year, so I'll need to double my productivity if I really want to achieve it all!

So, here goes:

I want a really fun, practical, vintage-esque workday wardrobe. I don't need to dress formally where I work but I do cycle in so there are some styles that aren't really going to cut it (sadly pencil skirts are out the window except for the rare 'bus day').

In light of this I want to continue working through Tilly's 'Love at First Stitch' and make all the garments I haven't got round to yet, and maybe a replacement Megan. I love the instructions from this book so I think prioritising finishing the patterns from here first will set me in good stead for all my other sewing plans this year.


First off a Delphine Skirt I think will be a fun quick fix and a good all-rounder that hopefully will be modest enough to wear on a bike. I have some good stash fabric for this- debating whether to go wild with the metallic side or keep it modest with the matte? A Clemence skirt in black crepe should follow quick on its heels- I reckon lengthened to just below the knee, and with pockets. I really want to get into shirt-making too so I plan to make a pyjama version of the Mimi (so if I muck up my newbie attempt it doens't matter so much) to pair with some Margot PJ bottoms (which will also start to ease me into trouser-making, so two birds with one stone!) in some fluffy winceyette if I can get it. I haven't yet made the Lilou, which is lovely, but I have so many dress patterns battling for my attention and at the moment I'm really keen on sleeves, so Lilou can wait a little...




I really love so many of the designs from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual too. On my 'must-sew' list for this year are:

- The Sweetheart knit top (pictured above) in all its variations, and the Pin-Up Sweater in all its variations (especially the cardigan- so useful!) I'm also tempted to hack the Sweetheart into a bodice to create a mash-up with the Lady Skater for more fun throw-on dresses!

- The easy knit pencil skirt. I know I said no pencil skirts but you can kind of cycle with knit ones, all long as you don't mind rucking it up to show a bit of leg... I think it would be fun to a create matching Sweetheart top and pencil skirt set.

I know that sounds a little limited as there are so many tempting patterns in this book (10, all with multiple variations) but I can see these being real wardrobe workhorses so I want to make sure I prioritise these before challenging myself with playsuits or bomber jackets...

I also got the Colette Sewing Handbook for Christmas and I've already read all the theory in pretty much one sitting - it's a real pleasure to read.


I'd like to make sure I get the Meringue skirt done this year (maybe in chambray?) and try the Pastille dress (the cap sleeved one) in one of the vintage fabrics I got from my ma's stash. The Truffle dress (the one with the draped skirt panel) is gorgeous too- I'd love to make it but as it's a bit more 'occasion wear' I might put it on the back-burner. The Licorice Dress (with the gathered sleeves) is a bit more challenging- maybe too much for me at this stage- but I feel in the right fabric it would be a lovely day dress so is a little higher on my to-sew list.

The good old Great British Sewing Bee book still holds a lot more delights for me too, and this year I hope to make up the Full Skirted Dress, the Shift Dress, and maybe the Wrap Dress. I'd love to make the 1930s blouse too but worry it might be a bit tricky still (maybe next year...). I also want to make another box-pleat skirt, but this time I may vary the pattern to have more pleats like an RTW skirt that I own and have worn to death.

Then there are some of my plans from last year to still get through!

I got the DIY Couture book for my birthday last January and confess I still haven't made anything from it! I think it's because there aren't patterns- you work out the measurements and shape using existing garments as a template, and I haven't yet taken the leap, even though the whole collection is really visually appealing. I'd like to make up the Skater skirt, Slouch top and Grecian dress at least this year!

DIY Couture's Grecian Dress. Each garment has a different variation to form part of a collection. Can't decide which collection is my favourite!

Trousers. Let's get trousers done! I need to revisit my Ultimate Trousers and plan to make two pairs before I dare tackle my Gingers. I have some very cheap checked woven fabric to toile up a pair which will hopefully be wearable, and then have my navy 'posh print' fabric to make up a pair which will hopefully fit properly!

Sew Over It's Ultimate Trousers. They look so chic and neat here, but my figure's not quite so trim!
Similarly for the Gingers I have some black stretch corduroy to toile up a pair, then I'll probably move on to some similar-weight stretch denim. I do have the famed s-gene denim from the kit- but I don't want to cut into this until I'm sure I know exactly what I'm doing!

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans. Working my way up to these!
I still want to make up another Anna with some lovely Autumnal coloured fabric I bought in my first fabric spree a year ago, and an Elisalex with short sleeves and a shorter skirt in the wax print I was gifted in the work Secret Santa. I have gingham for a  Sew La Di Da French Gypsy dress that NEEDS to be made by this summer!


Then I have the Vintage Pattern Pledge. I had a lot of fun going through my vintage pattern stash again trying to narrow down styles that I would definitely wear that I thought my skills would be able to stretch to. All those lovely designer collaborations I unearthed previously when planning my first Vintage Pattern Pledge (which only resulted in one make) will probably have to wait another year!
So, I have no fewer than 13 patterns that I shortlisted. Knowing me, I think I'll pledge to make 3. That's still quite a lot considering all the other plans I have!


I definitely want to make Simplicity 3257, as I've already made this (albeit in a totally inappropriate fabric that go scrapped) and so have a feel for how it comes together. It's a smart, flattering design that wasn't hard to fit when I didn't know what I was doing so will hopefully be a winner when made in a suitable fabric! I know I know, another pencil skirt, after what I said...it might just about have enough ease to ruck up over the knees....The trousers are cute in this pattern too, but I think I have enough trouser plans (although Gertie's cigarette pants and 1940s jeans are calling to me too!).




I have two patterns from my ma's old super-skinny collection. The knit dress that I love and would definitely wear if I owned, and these cute t-shirts. Both patterns need to be sized up 3 sizes so I don't know how realistic it is to include these, but I'd love to make them up!


This reversible wrap skirt looks really sweet and neat in the pattern artwork. Realistically I'm not sure how much I'd need it considering all my other skirt plans from the sewing books, which I want to make as much for the instructions as for the results. But if I get a go at it I'd like to as I can see it being a neat partner for some of the Gertie knit tops I have planned.


This '70s Butterick 3505 (view b) knit dress is cute and will be a fun variation on all the lady skater esque dresses I'll be making.

This Vogue 8339 view A might be a bit tricky but I'd love to do it, it looks so prim yet sassy.


If I get the hang of shirts I'd like to try my hand at one of these Super Saver blouses. View 1 or 2 tempt me, and the sleeveless. Would be so cute with jeans or tucked into a flowy hippy skirt (I don't need to sew any of these, I inherited about a billion from my ma's attic clearout last summer).


Just to mix things up here's a real 'Joan' dress. It's not practical but it is lovely. So lovely. It's Style Print 1286, view B. I'm hoping if I can work through the Pastille I will be able to handle getting a good fit on a similarly constructed dress.


I'm not sure if I'll make this Burda 8419 (view b) dress or not as I hear bad things about Burda instructions and from the technical drawings it may be a little too unstructured for me, but I love the collar and fold-up sleeves.

So, the 3 most likely contenders are: Simplicity 3257 pencil skirt, Butterick 3505 (view b) knit dress, and one other to be decided...maybe the t-shirts because they would be a real wardrobe staple but the upsizing is offputting even if the construction will be 'very easy' once I've done it...Will keep you posted!

Phew, quite ambitious plans! And this is pre-birthday when I think I may be receiving another sewing book to tempt me!

What are you tackling in 2015? Is anyone else doing Vintage Pattern Pledge this year?

NorseOtter xxx