Monday, 31 July 2017

Essential Erin


How did I live before I had this skirt? What did I wear?




One of the best things about this skirt (other than the fact that I love it and that it’s an absolute staple) is that it was basically free; the denim was left over from my Safran jeans, pockets lined with my skeleton dress fabric, and the buttons are from a massive stash that I inherited from my partner’s gran. This is the Erin skirt (the shorter version) from Sew Over It's My Capsule Wardrobe City Break e-book (also free to me, as it was a gift!). I'm quite pleased that I've made up two things from an e-book that I received this year (first make was the Alex shirt), as usually it takes me years to get around to making stuff, even if I love it!


It has however has taken ages for me to get photos of this skirt because it’s basically never clean, I’m always wearing it and it’s always creased! I’ve now worn this to Bristol (when it was fairly new), Edinburgh (where it stood up well to my first ceilidh experience) and Ibiza. The buttonholes are showing a little bit of wear so if I made it again I would probably make sure I stabilised this area with some interfacing.


Otherwise I made this up as instructed other than to to use cotton for the side of the pocket bags that wouldn’t be seen to reduce bulk, and to work out my own button placement (probably more or less the same as marked, but aiming to ensure no unnecessary side flashes of knicker). I also used the method taught me in my Sew Over It cigarette pant class to add a bit more room over the rear. I’m not sure if this affected the dart placement (as I didn’t add any room at the waistline) but I think next time I’d bring these into the centre a fraction as they look a bit wide set. I’m not sure, but I could perhaps do with a tiny swayback adjustment too as there is a tiny crease at the small of my back.



I’m pretty pleased with this though, it’s fun, a cute length, incredibly easy to wear and pair with things and quite a quick make. I also got a unsolicited compliment on it from a little girl on my walk back from taking photos of it, so that can’t be a bad thing (“from the mouths of babes” my partner/ photographer commented). I’m keen to make another in the longer length, and in more colours. I reckon adding belt loops and back pockets for future versions would be worthwhile too. While I like the slant pockets and they seem to be behaving themselves in this denim with plenty of stretch, I imagine in future versions in stiffer fabric they might benefit from curving out a little.

I'll leave you with a typically goofy outtake. Have you made any surprise staples lately?

NorseOtter xx



Sunday, 23 July 2017

Moody Melilot


Hi everyone,

So I have an obsession with the Melilot pattern and need to quit and work on something else soon before people get bored of seeing me wear it. Trouble is, I can see mandarin collar versions, cropped versions, more shirtdress versions...This is my fourth, and it’s becoming a TNT (see 1, 2, 3).


I made this version up in some lightweight denim I bought last year when I was in LA and decided to see what Mood had in store (one reason why this post is titled ‘moody’). I loved this fabric straight away, and apparently it had been selling out because of its similarity to the wallpaper in the Beverly Hills Hotel. I can’t verify this, but I wanted it regardless. So it came home with me, alongside some Ralph Lauren denim I haven’t dared cut into yet, and some merino jersey from the Fabric Store that I haven’t dared set shears to either.

Trouble is, I cut this when in a bad mood (that’s the second reason for the title). After waiting a year to work with it and feeling a bit of “now or never” pressure as the weather warmed up, I decided to just go for it one day after having made my toile de jouy shirtdress to make the palm tree Melilot of my dreams.


I knew I wanted to make a Melilot when I bought the fabric, but the loveliness on both sides made this difficult to pin down what I wanted designwise. In the end I used the reverse side, even though I preferred the deeper green of the right side, as I thought it would be easier to wear with jeans without going on the wrong side of double denim. Tempted though I was, I decided not to incorporate any contrast elements.

Deep curve of the hem, showing the inside (and 'right side') of the fabric, although the photo doesn't really show the depth of colour

Trouble is, the front print is misaligned, which bugs me more than it would anyone else. To have saved it up so long, only to butcher it because of an off day! So annoying. And the palm trees are running upside down along the centre fronts too. Gah. At least the back is properly positioned and symmetrical.

I also made this up in the same size, no adjustments, as my previous Melilots, which was cheating a bit in that I just traced between sizes, with a size larger from the waist up to accommodate my bust. However I think this made the shoulders too big, so there’s a bit of a crease which is a bit more evident in this stiff fabric. I also wonder if actually I needed a larger size over the hips anyway, as it has a tendency to hitch up over the bum.




 As this was hot off the heels of the shirtdress I went on autopilot a bit and made a couple of other minor but frustrating mistakes when putting this together. Not hugely noticeable, but I forgot to topstitch the pocket fold down. I also managed to sew the collar on underside up, which means it has a tendency to curl upwards a little, and you can kind of see the seam where I had attempted to roll it out of sight.



Despite all the minor flaws, I do still really like this shirt and wear it a lot. Its first outing was to Edinburgh Film Festival, and its been on permanent rotation since. I think it looks best tucked into things, here shown with my rather worn out looking Safran jeans. It barely needs ironing which means it’s easy to reach for when dressing in a rush, and because I used the reverse of the denim it can work with different shades of blue jeans.



I’m keen to make sure I get on with some more summer sewing before it’s too late - I can’t believe we’re over halfway through the year already!

How are your seasonal plans coming along?

NorseOtter xx

Sunday, 9 July 2017

She. she. she. She's a bombshell (oh yeah)!


Hi folks,

I was on a coach to Bristol recently, amusing myself reading sewing blogs and thinking about my upcoming holiday to Ibiza to while away the journey when I remembered that, way back in the beginning of my sewing days I had purchased a couple of Perfect Pattern Parcels - one of which included the Bombshell Swimsuit. With this idea starting to form, and the coach conveniently stopping right outside Fabricland - which had come in a spontaneous internet search as a supplier of swimsuit lining - my goal to sew swimwear was set.


Despite these plans having been made at least a month in advance of my trip, with all supplies sourced upfront, I ended up having only got the pieces cut and the back panels gathered up until the day before I was due to fly out (as is so often the way with holiday sewing - I had to abandon a test version I was going to make, as well as a plan for denim sailor-style shorts to take away).


Luckily for me, making a swimsuit actually isn’t really very arduous a task if you have a bit of experience sewing activewear- in fact, the gathering was perhaps the most time consuming bit (I think next time I will use straight stitches to make it faster -  I did long zigzags because I was sewing with lycra, but obviously you don’t need zigzags for gathering stitches which are to be properly secured later, whoops). I have an overlocker which I used to neaten off the seams, but actually the majority of this was made up on my sewing machine.


I had a few issues attaching the swimsuit rubber elastic, and unfortunately it’s a bit visibly loopy on the bobbin side along the top edge, which also doesn't want to sit totally flat. I didn’t have time to re-do it but perhaps I might now that I’m back as it was visible to me at least when glancing down at my cleavage (which might also mean I need to make the elastic a little tighter for more stability along the top edge, as it does have a tendency to roll). 


As my sewing machine is a Bernina Record from the ‘70s it’s a brilliant workhorse for so many things, but it did skip a few stitches attaching the elastic, and its widest zigzag is a little more slender than ideal for that purpose. Luckily most of the skipped stitches got covered up when folding over and topstitching, but there are even a few skips in the topstitching too, despite using a stretch needle. Hopefully next time with slower sewing (and better quality thread, as though mine was a perfect colour match it was prone to snap) I’ll make a more professional-looking suit.


Having said all this, I still managed to take a lovely-looking swimsuit away with me on holiday that held up to hours of swimming in the sea, sunbathing and even diving off the side of boats without mishap. This is View A, the maillot, and I did feel quite chic strolling along and lolling about in it, although the only downside of the design is that because of the extra layers on the front it does take a little longer to dry so if you’re swimming all day and it may not dry out completely overnight (an excuse to make two?). The lower front faux-skirt also makes it a little trickier to tuck into shorts - but I just about made it work as you can see here!


I made the size 12 which I think is a good fit, although I think I made mine a tiny bit tighter as I found it quite difficult to keep to the ¼” seam allowances and probably strayed into ⅜” on most of my seams, especially as there are so many processes to fit into that tiny space - two rows of gathering stitches (which as mentioned earlier I accidentally made wider than necessary by using zigzag instead of straight stitches), basting stitches, and the final seams. I have a habit of using bobbins with thread left over from previous projects for gathering and basting stitches so that I can free the bobbins up for the next thing, but this can backfire when those stitches end up being caught in the final seams and visible from the outside, which unfortunately was the case here - I did have a few floating red and yellow threads which I still need to trim off!




I'm pretty pleased with my first DIY swimsuit and plan to make the halter strap view B version next - if only I had another beach break coming up to wear it for! I'm also rather tempted to try the Sophie Swimsuit pattern as actually I prefer it, I just happened to have this in the stash, but how many swimsuits does a landlocked city girl really need?

I'll leave you with a couple more shots of the suit in action - I'm being surrounded by a swirl of circling fish in the shot below, see if you can spot them in the second pic.

How's your holiday (or otherwise) sewing coming along?

NorseOtter xx