Sunday, 26 March 2017

Hemlock and Cigarettes

Hi everyone!



Sounds like a toxic combination, doesn't it? I've got a double-whammy for you today, but I have to say that I'm not sure these pieces go together that well. First up is a Hemlock Tee, the free one-size boxy top PDF pattern from Grainline that I made up a little while ago when I needed a nice quick and easy project but haven't had the chance to photograph until now.


The Hemlock is made with some old jersey that my mum donated to me (along with the stuff I made my beige Plantain from), it's probably from the 1980s. It doesn't have very much stretch to it, and similarly to the Plantain I had to make the sleeves a bit shorter to fit it onto the narrow fabric. I really like the colour of this top, although the weird sheen that sometimes appears isn't my favourite feature. I'm not sure about this style on me though, I don't know if I really look effortlessly stylish in these kinds of tops like others do, or just a bit slovenly. Anyway, it was a very easy make, the only thing I managed to mess up a little bit was the back of my neckband where it's a bit puckered, and I have to confess it's a little weak under the arms as I haven't quite mastered turning neat corners with my overlocker yet!



I've worn this a few times as I made it back in January, and I took it away with me to Madrid, where I wore it with the same trousers but was feeling and looking too ill to get many snaps then, even though it was a beautiful day in the Parque del Buen Retiro (doesn't it just suck when you're ill on holiday?). I also paired it with my shortened Elisalex – one of the first dresses I ever made and still going strong, especially now I've lost some of the length to make it more wearable and easier to walk in - perfect for exploring the city and checking out Templo Debod!



The trousers are Sew Over It Cigarette Pants, which I made in February in their Cigarette Pants class. I'm pretty pleased with these but they're not quite as slimline as I wanted them to be – but I learnt a lot from the class that I hope to apply to the next pair. If I'm brutally honest, if I had left these as drafted without fitting them they would have looked dreadful on me – luckily with the help of the tutor, we made quite a few adjustments to get the look and fit that I wanted, and I'm so pleased about this as it would have taken a lot of trial and error on my own. I think that's the main benefit of the course really, as by this point in my sewing I've tackled trouser construction a few times and it's really fit that concerns me as being the trickiest part to get right.


For this pair, we added 3/4” inch more room at the fullest part of the rear, made a 1/4” swayback adjustment at centre back and at the waistband, and took out some room at the back of the thigh. This fit pretty well when I had the trousers constructed, but I didn't entirely like the look of the pants on me as they didn't have that Audrey Hepburn-esque look I was going for – they looked much more like a uniform at that stage being straight cut but not slim enough in the legs. The teacher helped me pin in until I was happy with the fit and I shave a bit off the side seams both inner and outer til I was happy with the look, and I transferred all the changes as best I could to the paper pattern (which was very beat-up by this stage!).


I enjoyed the class experience and would say it's set me up well for handling trouser-making with more confidence. Big pros are obviously the fitting supervision, and as we had a small class this time around – just three of us plus the tutor - so we really got a lot of one-on-one time to tweak personal fitting as well as enjoying one anothers' company. 


A small drawback was that we did a few time-consuming things in class that didn't need supervision – like cutting out our patterns (I would have much rather traced mine so I could work with the other fabrics and sizes in future or have a basis for design changes) and cutting out our fabric, which actually I probably would have done more carefully at home! That said, we did get to try on pre-made muslins in class which helped us pick our size before cutting, so this is obviously a huge help and time-saving step that offsets my mild gripe.


My trousers are made up in crepe rio from the Sew Over It shop – this is one of the recommended fabrics for the trousers and is lovely and comfortable to wear and thankfully didn't shrink in the wash, as the fabric went straight from the shop floor to the cutting table without the usual pre-washing. It does however tend to grow while wearing it, which is why these trousers (which have been worn a few times now) look quite loose in the pictures. I think they've relaxed in the waistband and are sitting lower on the hip, as well as having grown a little in the leg. To counter-act this I wear them with the hems rolled to give that '80s cuffed look (which sadly hides my hems which were finished lovingly as instructed by overlocking then turning up and invisibly catch-stitching into place by hand). I have another pair of Cigarette Pants in the works that are cut in a more stable tartan fabric, and I hope these will keep their shape a little more. I also really hope they fit, as I was working with the adjusted pattern piece for the crepe pair so I hope it still works for a fabric with tighter weave!



I'm really excited to sew my next pair of trousers, even more so now that I picked up a couple of issues of Patrones when in Spain, which is basically a pattern catalogue with all the pattern sheets over-printed as they are with Burda Magazine. The issue I picked up is all about separates, so there are several lovely pairs of trousers I'd be keen to apply the adjustments I learnt in class to! (And several lovely shirts to wear them with...)

Happy Spring making everyone!

NorseOtter xx




Saturday, 11 March 2017

Sew Over It Alex Shirt



Hi everyone! 

It's been a while, and I have to confess I've given into slacking off blogging again while the light and weather has been too bad to get decent photos. I have a little stack of things I've been making to share with you as photo opportunities arise however!

I got my brother to buy me the Sew Over It City Break Capsule Wardrobe collection for my birthday back in January, and the first thing I've made out of it is the Alex Shirt. I plan to make the shirtdress version at some point too, but didn't quite have enough of my intended fabric this time.


I've used some drapey cotton that I bought in Istanbul. I do like it, but I'm not sure if it's the quality or if maybe I washed it on a rougher-than-intended setting in the machine, but there are a few weak spots in the fabric that I've noticed as I was sewing this up. To be honest, I only really bought this fabric as I'd decided to have a nosey in one of the shops in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and ended up waking up the very elderly gentleman who was looking after the shop. After that I couldn't leave empty-handed, so grabbed a couple of metres of this. It wasn't very expensive, but not a crazy bargain either. I'm sure I could have done better with more of a rummage around the open market areas (see photo of me posing with textile merchant statue below) but I was a bit overwhelmed by choice! I'm glad I'm making what I did get up finally after a year and a half in the stash, and I think paired with this pattern looks a bit '70s bohemian art teacher.


It's come together pretty well but could have been better cut, I was a bit distracted by other less than fun things happening in my life so I wasn't as in the zone as much as I should have been. The pattern matching isn't really happening everywhere (and I had to rip out and re-stitch in place one of the pockets as it was a bit lopsided) but is decent enough across the front.



I like this pattern. It's simple, flowy and easy-wear. Perfect in fact for a weekend getaway. It actually feels quite pyjama-y (in a nice way) in this fabric so I'm tempted to make another without the sleeve tabs and maybe experimenting with a bit of piping around the collar, bottom of sleeves and top of pocket as an actual pyjama top. It's quite a simple make with stripped back details like an easy convertible collar, roll-up sleeves with tab, a nice box pleat for more room beneath the yoke in the back, and simple folded back button bands. I like the more relaxed look, and of course this means it's a simple enough make to whip up in time for your chosen getaway! In these shots I've already had a previous full day's wear, but it's casual enough to look OK with a bit of rumpling – again, good for holidays!


All of the patterns in this collection have this simplified aesthetic and quick turnaround potential, which of course you can embellish if you have the time and expertise. I actually quite like the idea of the curated collection in itself and while I may not end up making all of the patterns offered in the booklet, I can easily see where I could swap out other patterns in my collection to make a more 'me' version of the capsule wardrobe. The Erin skirt is definitely on my make list though, and the Molly top and dress are tempting in their simplicity. I don't really need to make the Mia jeans as I have the Safrans (which I've paired the shirt with here) that are similar but have cute front pocket detailing, but if I find some interesting stretch denim colours I may make a pair of Mias up to try the fit. The Lola coat looks elegant but I worry the waterfall style may make me look a bit frumpy with my bust. I really like the Alex shirt and shirtdress in itself but I can see mash-up potential with my beloved Melilot shirt pattern too.


I cut the size 12 straight out. Technically I should have sized up at the bust, but in such a loose-fitting style I couldn't be bothered to do an FBA and didn't want to grade between sizes as I wanted the shoulders to be small enough. It looks fine, but a fitting stickler would probably notice my side seams are pulling forward a little. I think I might try and adjust this somehow for the next version, but want to avoid darts to keep the lines simple.


I made this up as instructed except that I decided on my own button placement so have 7 instead of 5 buttons to ensure there was no bust gaping. I also decided to do french seams instead of overlocking as I thought this fabric needed the added strength and would look nicer (plus this only involved setting up one machine, although of course requires a lot more pressing!). I also made sure to stay stitch the neckline and arm holes, which the instructions don't tell you to do- but I would definitely recommend it as there is a fair bit of manipulation around the curved areas, especially when the instructions have you twist the yokes to achieve a neatly encased finish. I also decided to stitch in the ditch to secure my collar as my handstitching was looking a bit shoddy and I realised too late that I'd attached the machine-stitched side with a basting stitch by mistake so wanted to make sure it was secure. I did my first ever sleeve tabs for this shirt - I quite like them! For future versions I think I could mash up with the Melilot sleeve to get the tower placket for more variation though, although I'd keep the just-off the shoulder sleeve heads of the Alex rather than the properly dropped sleeves of the Melilot, as I think it's more flattering on my slightly thick upper arms. 


I'm looking forward to taking this away to Madrid with me, and am planning to make many more, especially now Spring seems to be in the air! I'll leave with this snap of me enjoying a post-photoshoot patty. 


What are you making for Spring?

NorseOtter xx