#2018make9

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do #2018make9 this year as I din’t think there was much out there that I really wanted to make at the moment. Oh, how wrong I was! When I started to look at the patterns on my foldline wishlist and those that I have downloaded for instant gratification, it became clear that I was going to have trouble restricting it to 9!

I bought the knot front top from Maker’s Atelier when I was at the Knitting and Stitching show in November. Frances told me that it was designed originally for a friend of hers with a bigger bust and I tried on the sample and it was perfect. It’s deceptively simple and I am just looking for the right jersey for it.

The Burnside Bibs have been on my list for quite some time as I’ve loved a good dungaree since I was in my teens. As I said in my last blog post, I really want to nail trouser fitting in 2018 so I have chosen Seamwork’s Melody trouser and Tessa jeans. I’ve been really impressed with the Seamwork patterns in the last few months – lots I could see in my wardrobe.

I am still living mostly in skirts though. I bought some fabulous green tweed from M.Rosenberg at the Kitting and Stitching Show and that is destined for the Orageuse Berlin skirt – love the pockets on that. And I really liked likesewamazing’s Zinnia skirt last year so that has found its way on to my list too!

The quest for good basics goes on hence the Grainline Linden sweatshirt that have seen a lot of in social media and the Itch to Stitch Lisbon cardigan. And finally, in basics, Megan Nielsen released a fantastic pattern (Acacia) for knickers over Christmas, free for subscribers so I am going to have to start making my own pants!

I’ll keep you posted!

Review of 2017’s sewing (and #2017makenine)

I’ve never sewn as much as I have this year. It has been an extraordinary year. I set out with the intention of not buying a single item of clothing and I have pretty well succeeded. I have bought some pants, some socks and 2 jumpers on ebay. Other than that, everything else has been me-made.

I have made 11 tops,  1 shirt, 5 skirts, 3 pairs of trousers, 1 pair of culottes, 8 dresses and a sleeveless coat. I’ve made a skirt for my daughter, one for my mother, 3 sequinned t-shirts for my stepdaughter Caroline’s bridesmaids (her sisters) and a stunning dressing gown for my husband.                                                     It’s a pretty staggering output considering that I work full time, and in summer, have an allotment to tend too.

Some things have been really quick and satisfying things to make like the Toaster sweater, while others took so long (the Matilda shirtdress) that I almost gave up all hope! I’ve been helped enormously by a new sewing machine – I was bought a Janome CXL301 in April for my birthday and it has transformed my sewing. It has been noticed that I can no longer be heard cursing at the machine!

Sewing this much has transformed my relationship with my body and how I feel about fit. Last year I finally learnt how to make a full bust adjustment, so now, when I wear a RTW blouse, I can feel the uncomfortable straining of something that doesn’t really fit me. A lot of things have gone to charity shops, including items that I made last year when I was just getting started again with sewing. I’ve learnt better what suits me, and if it hasn’t worked, I am trying to feel less guilt about getting rid of it. I have struggled with fitting trousers though. 2 out of the three pairs I have made this year don’t fit well, so next year, I am going to take a trouser fitting class so that I can get that nailed.

The #2017makenine was a really good starting point for constructing a memade wardrobe that I would actually wear – no more party dresses! I have made seven of them. The Tilly and the Button Agnes top and the Vanessa Pouzet Wanted top are great staples and I have another Agnes cut out ready to go. The Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater is a joy and I wish I had made it earlier. The Mildred Pinafore dress had to be completely reworked but became my favourite item of clothing for about a month as did the Erin skirt – still go to it when I am unsure what to wear. Again a pattern crying out for another version! The Gertie wrap top is a bit short and the Sew Over Wrap Dress could fit better. I still want to make the Thread Theory Lazo trousers but I can’t see when I would wear the  Maker’s Atelier Sport-Luxe Bomber Jacket that I was lusting after last year, so that idea is being abandoned.

Which is not a reflection on Maker’s Atelier. The book, published in the Spring has provided me with inspiration all year – I have made 3 versions of the stretch pencil skirt, the trousers and the drape front top. I am just about to cut out the tie neck blouse too.

My favourite make is probably the Butterick B6178 culottes, that I made in a bright jungle print cotton – cheerful, comfy and smart enough to go anywhere, they always attract compliments. It’s hard to pick a favourite pattern, but I think the Grainline Scout tee might be it. 2 for me (again in bold prints) and sequinned versions for my daughters have certainly made it the most used pattern of the year! Plus, I must mention Sew Over It. From the dresses to the City Break ebook, the clothes that Lisa Comfort designs continue to inspire me.

I’m going to carry on sewing next year, but maybe not to quite the same extent. It has sometimes felt like an additional pressure in my life and I can get quite obsessional about it. Also, I sometimes see clothes in shops that I really, really like and would like to buy – so I am going to let myself occasionally. My sewing goals include continuing to improve fit, getting a bit more finicky with the finishing and making some children’s clothes for my lovely granddaughter.

Happy New Year!

 

My jersey top collection

I used to think that sewing with jersey was really difficult and not something that you could tackle on a domestic sewing machine. And I think that this was one of the reasons I stopped sewing. Over the years, I started wearing more and more jersey tops, knitted dresses, jeggings – you name it and I thought I couldn’t sew them.

But when I started following other sewing bloggers, it became clear that there were a lot of people successfully sewing jersey and companies selling really lovely jersey fabrics. I decided that my first entry point into sewing jersey would be Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top. Every time I saw it, it looked fantastic and all the reviews said that the instructions were really good. Plus, I knew that there was an online class from Tilly if I got stuck.

Tilly and the Button Agnes Top

So far, I have made one of them and I absolutely love it! I got a really interesting jersey remnant to make this with. I made a size 5, but I think next time, I will grade down to a 4 at the hips, as my hips are small compared to the rest of me! I also would make the neckband 3cm shorter as it is just puckering slightly, but not enough for me to want to try and redo it!

So the next jersey top was the Wanted top from Vanessa Pouzet. Talk about wanted, I had to have it! I saw it on The Foldline and downloaded it straight away. It’s got a really unusual square neck with a bit of a sailor vibe (and instructions in French!) But fortunately, just as I was about to start it, I came across this tutorial from Stitch My Style which explained it so carefully that I never even looked at the original instructions. I bought cheap jersey to make a wearable toile but have ended up really loving it.

My latest jersey top felt the easiest, maybe because I now know some of the tips and tricks. it is the Molly Top from Sew Over It and is looser than the other two. With its dropped shoulders, it is more like a sweatshirt but is really comfy and fun to wear with jeans. I show it here with my Erin Skirt,  just as Lisa paired it. I picked up the fabric for this from the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate last November and it has been in my stash ever since. this only took me an hour and a half to sew, using a narrow zigzag stich on my ancient Brother machine. Talking of which, my brothers have clubbed together to buy me a new sewing machine, so I am on the lookout for a more up to date Brother!

So I am now a convinced jersey seamstress and it has helped me make more of the clothes that I actually wear – I kept making dresses before but I spend most of my days in skirts, trousers and tops. I’m definitely going to make another Agnes. I’ve got some navy and white jersey from Fabworks earmarked for another Wanted, but what I would really like is a boat neck jersey top but I haven’t seen the right pattern yet. I might have to do a hack!

 

My Porto city break #memade wardrobe

I have done virtually no sewing for about 3 weeks now as work has been so manic but it has been entirely worthwhile as I knew I had a holiday booked! We are in Porto in Portugal and it is sunny and really relaxing. We arrived last night and immediately found a great restaurant for a fishy dinner. Today, we have been exploring the neighbourhood, and have been to the mercado do Bolhao to buy delicious things for lunch.

It’s a really interesting city – lots of the buildings are beautifully tiled and there are amazing looking churches and gardens. Lots more to see yet.

I started planning what I was going to wear weeks ago and decided that the perfect place to start was the @sewoverit City Break capsule wardrobe. I made the Erin skirt a few weeks ago from some lovely Japanese selvedge denim from @FabricGodmother. It is one of the nicest and most useful skirts I have ever owned and I have worn it loads already. Even makes me feel like I’ve got a figure! I’m wearing it today with my @vanessapouzet Wanted top. I made this as a wearable toile with some really cheap yellow and white jersey from ebay, but it came out much better than I anticipated so it’s become a wardrobe staple.

I spent Saturday (the day before we travelled) sewing like a maniac! I had cut out the @sewoverit Heather dress a few weeks ago from some anchor print jersey form @MinervaFabrics and I just about finished it in time to travel in it. I didn’t get a chance to hem it but it is a really robust jersey with body so I’ve got away with it, I think. I’ll finish it properly when I get home. I made it 6″ longer than the pattern to cover my white legs! It’s the perfect dress for planes – as comfortable as wearing a nightie and it has pockets! It was a quick and easy make too with brilliant and clear instructions.

I also packed a really pretty cotton lawn floral blouse that I made from a vintage pattern and fabric from @sewoverit and a white drape neck top from @MakersAtelier book. Altogether, a really great capsule wardrobe, I think! One of the photos shows me in a fabric shop – there are quite few here but I haven’t seen anything I must have yet.

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    Book review – ‘The Maker’s Atelier: The Essential Collection’ by Frances Tobin

    I have a confession – I put ‘The Maker’s Atelier: The Essential Collection’ on pre-order on Amazon as I was so desperate to get this book! I absolutely love Frances’ patterns, so the thought of getting 8 patterns for under £30 was compelling.

     

    The book is beautifully presented, with the printed patterns in a string bound wallet at the back of the book. The photography and styling is simple and clear and very aspirational. I want to look like that! All the items are in a co-ordinated palette of neutrals and very elegant. The Maker’s Atelier exhibited at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate last November and they had a rail of samples which you could try on which I so enjoyed! I wanted all of the patterns, but at over £20 each, I settled for one.

    The patterns in this book are simpler than the main collection, so initially, I wasn’t sure I really liked them. But I already had a couple of pieces of fabric, so decided to quickly have a go at making two of them. And that is the thing – they are very speedy makes.

    I made the stretch pencil skirt and the drape neck top and I am so happy with them.

    The stretch pencil skirt, I made out of some printed scuba and it feels so comfy I’m going to get a lot of wear out of this skirt. I took about 3cm off the hips in total as I don’t have much of a behind, and I am really happy with the fit. It could have been tighter, but I don’t think it would be so comfortable. As the scuba didn’t need hemming, it took me about an hour to make.

    I wasn’t sure the drape neck top was going to suit me as it is rather oversized which is not always a good look when you have a large bust. But I made it from white Milano jersey from the Fabric Godmother and it is surprisingly good on me. Again, an easy make, but watch out if you are making it in jersey – the front pattern piece is different for jersey and woven fabrics and the jersey one is on a different pattern sheet. it took me a bit of rummaging through all the printed sheets to find it.

    I am so delighted with how these have come out that I have already cut out the cigarette pants and am planning to make the wrap skirt too. There is information in the book about different fabrics and how that will alter the look of the garments and how to wear them too. I think this is a book I will come back to time and time again.

    Full Bust Adjustment on Wrap Top (Butterick B6285 by Gertie)

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    When you have a largish bust, wrap tops and dresses can be very flattering, but not if they are gaping!

    I do like a nice wrap dress, but have really struggled over the years (with safety pins!) to make them cover me up.

    I recently made the Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress as one of my #2017makenine. I used a fabulous bottle green jersey from Euro fabrics via ebay. And, I must admit, I did think about trying to do a FBA on it. But as there was no waist seam, I thought it might be too complicated, so I risked it. I absolutely love it, but I do wish now that I had found a way as I feel more comfortable in it with a vest top underneath.

    So the next wrap item on my #2017makenine was the Wrap top, Butterick B6285, by Gertie. It looked so flattering, but I knew it would be a better fit with a FBA. I bought some lovely navy Milano jersey from Fabric Godmother for it.

    So this is what I did:

    There is a bust point marked on the pattern piece, but I knew my bust point was to the south and west of this (like most of my body parts over the years, there has been some drift!). I drew a line directly up from the hem to my new bust point, then another line from the notches on the side seam and a final line from the shoulder to the bust point. I guessed this point as half way between the back and front hems and about half way between the neck edge and the short sleeve cutting line.

    I then cut up the line from the front hem to the bust point, then up again to the shoulder. I also cut from the bust point to the side seam notches, but left a little bit to pivot. I then spread the pattern pieces apart – about 4 cm at the front hem edge and a couple of centimetres from the bust point to the side seam. I tapered the opening up to the shoulder. I then filled in the gaps with tracing paper and taped the pattern pieces to the tracing paper. I redrew the front hem line.

    I placed the pattern piece on my fabric. It is a very counter-intuitive pattern piece. The front, back and sleeve are all in one that you cut out 4 times (twice on the fold). There are back darts and a back side seam and once you have those sewn, you can see how it is all going to work. There are also ties to attach to the front edges. It is a quick sew once you have sussed out the pattern pieces, as it is fully lined and you can easily use a normal sewing machine with a zigzag stitch.

    I am really pleased with it. The fabric has a beautiful drape and it fits really well across the bust. But it is a little short and needs a high waisted skirt or trousers below it if you don’t want to show any muffin top! I would definitely make this again.

    My first stoff and stil order

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    Oh my goodness! My first Stoff and Stil #fabric order arrived today and I am thrilled!

     

    I ordered four fabrics – quite restrained, I thought, and they are some of the most beautiful colours and quality that I have seen.

    I first heard about the company from The Fold Line, as Rachel and Kate were invited to go and meet them in Denmark. I could see that it was an amazing experience, so despite my best intentions to not buy any more fabric, I couldn’t resist a quick look at the website (particularly as the Fold Line were offering a discount voucher)

    The have a great Moodboard feature which is why the fabrics that I bought are more curated and less random than usual.

    I bought some lovely quality pale blue spotted cotton that I intend to make a little wrap skirt for Spring/Summer, the Granville Skirt designed by Wendy Ward, free with Simply Sewing magazine in January.

    And there is some yellow fine check seersucker for a little Spring blouse. Ever since I saw ‘Swallows and Amazons’ last year, I have been obsessing with the little vintage blouses that the girls wore. I know they really suit me, so I’m going to make quite a few this year. I have a vintage pattern that I have done a FBA on which now fits like a dream.

    Also some lovely navy stretch twill for some sensible trousers. I was thinking of the Sew Over it ultimate trousers, but I would like something a bit looser. Any thoughts?

    Then the finest of fine baby needlecord in a gorgeous pale lime green. This is for an A-line skirt, but cut on the bias from an old edition of Burda magazine. I’ve made it already in red and it is one of the most worn things in my wardrobe.

    My main challenge now is not going back on the site and buying lots more!

     

    #2017makenine

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    It has taken me over a month to really make up my mind about my #2017makenine. The first 6 came really quickly – I’ve been thinking about them for ages.  I’ve had the pattern and the bottle green jersey fabric since January 2016 for the Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress and it will be the very next thing I’m going to make!

    While on the subject of wraps, I am also planning to make Butterick B6285 which is a wrap top (and skirt) designed by Gertie.

    Tilly and the Buttons’ Agnes Top is a staple of many people’s wardrobes> Having made one,  I am going to make more of them this year as I move towards not buying anything ready made, including T-shirts.

     

    I want to make more everyday clothes. When I started sewing again, I had a tendency to be drawn to beautiful tea dresses and the like. But I don’t often wear them. I usually wear trousers, skirts, long sleeved t-shirts, pinafore dresses, jumpers and cardigans. When I saw Sew House Seven’s Toaster Sweater, I knew it was perfect. I have ordered some duck egg sweatshirting from Fabworks to make it with.

     

    The Sew Over It Erin Skirt and the Mildred Pinafore Dress from Sew Magazine are part of that ‘sensible’ sewing.

     

    The last 3 things are a little more out there. I tried on a sample of the Makers Atelier Sport Luxe Bomber Jacket at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate in November. It felt completely gorgeous! So I promptly thought – I don’t need a bomber jacket so I didn’t buy the pattern. Trouble is, I’ve been thinking about it ever since! So I am going to make it, probably out of navy scuba.

    The Thread Theory Lazo Trousers and the Vanessa Pouzet Wanted Top just leapt out at me from the Fold Line blogs in January and completed my list of 9. Do keep looking to see how I progress!

    Deborah

     

    Why I started sewing again

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    I have always sewn – from my teens onwards, I learnt how to make my own clothes. My mother taught me the basics (as she had always made some of her own clothes) and I became quite ambitious. I wish I had photos of some of the clothes I have made over the years – I made a reversible satin parka once!

    But over the last couple of decades, I have made less and less – I still don’t really understand why. Then a few years ago, came the Great British Sewing Bee – I never missed an episode. At some point in 2015, I really started to look properly at fabrics in shops again and became inspired to start buying a few pieces of fabric.

    I realised that there were very good reasons to start sewing my own clothes again. Firstly, that like many people, I felt slightly guilty about overconsuming. I hardly needed any of the clothes that I was buying. I wanted to have a closer relationship with what I was wearing – to feel that I had ‘earned’ them in some way and that they belonged to me. And as my shape has become less and less standard as I have got older, most of the clothes that I bought didn’t really fit me well.

    I am fairly short (5’3″), with a big bust. My waist has also got larger in middle age, but my hips and bottom are resolutely small! I also have really skinny legs, so I am a triangle shape. Trousers that fit me around the waist are too big on the bum, and blouses always pull across the bust. Making my own clothes has meant that I can address all these issues and make things that actually fit.

    I started buying vintage patterns on ebay as they often were a better shape for my figure than contemporary patterns.

    Then I found that there were new independent designers offering a totally different look and experience. Around the New Year of 2016, I discovered Sew Over It, ordered a few patterns and I became hooked! (Although I do have to do a full bust adjustment on them).

    So 2016 was the year that I started to obsess about sewing. From Sew Over It, I discovered Lisa Comfort’s vlog, then other vloggers such as Rosa from Sewn. Then Seamwork and The Foldline and that was it – there was no going back!

    I now won’t buy any item of clothing that I can make. Since the Spring, I have bought shoes, underwear and cardigans – everything else I have made. Sometimes, finding time to actually make all the things in my head is almost impossible – I probably manage to make 1-2 things a month. I wanted to start blogging about my experiences because, though I have been inspired by other bloggers, they do all seem very young to me! I thought there might be room for someone who still cares about what she wears in her 50s and wants it to be the best that she can possibly make.