Holidays, looked forward to with such excitement, they’re always over too quickly! I thought I’d share with you another knit top I made just before my holiday. I decided to give the Tessuti Mandy Boat Neck Tee a try after seeing a couple of versions on Instagram. As a free pattern I figured it couldn’t hurt. I downloaded and printed the copy shop version not fancying taping paper together again. I had only one concern – the one size fits all. After my attempt to make a boxy tee with both the Japanese book, She Wears The Pants and the Hot Patterns massive tee, I was a little cautious. But not that cautious.
I’d bought a couple of metres of a lovely viscose stripe jersey from John Lewis in Solihull earlier in the year, it’s one of those narrow stripes that gives you a strobing headache if you look at the stripes too closely for too long! I had thought to make another Thread Theory Camas blouse with it, but the fabric was making eyes at my newly printed Mandy pattern, so I went for it!
I really like the finished result. I have only two things to alter for next time, and there will be a next time! I need the sleeves to be a tad wider. I checked the measurements before I cut the pattern and thought there’d be enough give in the fabric, but there wasn’t. Then there’s the tendency for these sorts of tops to want to strangle me. I have two similar items I bought from H&M before Christmas that aren’t as bad because their necklines are rounder, but they do still slip backwards & I frequently have to tug them forward again. So I need to recut the front neckline a little lower/rounder.
I think next time I’ll use a contrasting fabric for the sleeves, I like the look of it on the model on the front of the pattern. There is enough of this stripe for another top, and I could use the navy viscose jersey from the Camas Blouse I made earlier in the year. If I want another top that strobes like this!
I’ve worn it quite a lot now, the colours fit into my summer wardrobe perfectly and I rather like wearing it with the trouser form the previous post, the narrower upper leg looks less chunky than the trousers I’m wearing in these photos. We had a late afternoon walk on the beach at Carbis Bay after wandering around St Ives, finishing with sundowners (except there was no sun) in the Beach Bar. They served a killer gin & tonic, just wish I could remember what it was!!
I still need to show you guys the prom dress, I did take some photos on the night with my phone, but Daughter No 2 was rather nervous with her date around and didn’t want to pose for me! Since coming aback from holiday we’ve done a lot of clearing and cleaning out. When you’re in a holiday let that’s all clean and clutter free and lovely, and you come home to a much more full house with much more “stuff”, it’s really tempting to chuck it all out! Of course, we don’t live in a holiday flat, and I certainly don’t sew there!! 🙂
But I have had a tidy and managed to clear a huge backlog of mending this week. We also bought a very cool mid-century sideboard that will be going in my room for taking all the sewing stuff that exploded out of my cupboard and litters the sewing and cutting table. And under the sewing and cutting tables…
I really do need a dedicated, close the door and leave it all out space in which to sew. One day.
What is it about navy and white stripes that gets us thinking all summer and seaside? I’ve been hankering after a blue and white, or white and blue stripey tee-shirt for months now, but never found the right one in the shops. I’d steered clear of sewing my own until I had a decent knit block to work from, and that was taking time to get right too. Then, by chance, I popped into one of the ladies shops in my local town and found a navy and white stripe jersey maxi dress, in my size, and that fitted rather well!! On sale it was a snip at £34, so I bought it, with the idea of lopping off the bottom half so I’d have two tees!!
I should have taken a photo of the maxi dress before it got chopped up, but there you go, I was in far too much of a hurry! It was/is from Scottish company Marble Clothing and can be seen here. The first tee was made pretty easily, I simply put the dress on and marked with a couple of pins where I’d like the finished edge to be. On taking the dress off, I measured down 2cm, then went a bit further down to get a stripe and cut along that line. I used a twin needle to stitch the new hem and ta-daa…
I love it!!!! The neckline is really good for me, the scoop is perfect, just the right depth and width and it doesn’t stretch out while wearing, unlike my Plantain tees.
I have taken the side seams in a bit since seeing these photos, and I wish I’d cut it a stripe or two longer, but of course, if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to make another tee!
The bottom half was saved for another tee, but this time it wouldn’t be as easy or quick! I’d made a start on a knit block earlier in the year and had to do loads of fiddling, only to make a tee that was too small. So I decided to revisit the block and fiddle a little more. I haven’t documented the process, I just kept changing and tweaking with each toile. I’ve used a lot of jersey in toiles!!! Eventually I managed to come up with a shape that worked and fitted, but course, I’m aware that with every different type of jersey it’s going to be very different, which is what’s annoying about knits…
I decided I’d like a v-neck tee with short sleeves – the sleeves ended up being shorter than I’d wanted, but lack of fabric dictated what I could have in the end.
I started by cutting up the side seams of the skirt and then pinned the stripes together. The front and back were placed to use the existing hem which helped with lining up the stripes on the side too! The sleeves had to be cut separately, one on each skirt half and they had to be squeezed in so there’d be space for the neckband. I had to piece the neckband, there just wasn’t enough length in the fabric to get it out in one shot.
Making up was dead easy and really quick, the only issue was the neckband, getting that point right in the front meant I decided to sew it on with the sewing machine first, after a little fiddling I got it perfect, then went back over it with the overlocker and messed it all up!! grrrrrr I couldn’t do too much with it because – overlocker…. Damn. The rest went together swimmingly, and I got those stripes on the side seams matching like a dream.
I love my new tee shirts!! The fit is fabulous, the jersey itself is amazing. The content is cotton with lycra and it’s lovely and soft.
The only thing I’m not happy with in the second one, is the sleeves. The hems tend to roll up to the outside, I think it’s because they’re quite short and the hem is just 1cm. I might try adding a band to the bottom, I have some white cotton jersey in the stash that may help.
Now for the trousers.. I wanted a pair of trousers with flare/wide bootcut as a nod to the 70s trend this year. There is a great pair in the July issue of BurdaStyle, but it wanted stretch fabrics and the fabric I had in mind was a beige linen – no stretch fibres built in. So I reverted to another TNT pattern, 118 from April 2009. I just love the shape of these trousers, but I do have to shorten them drastically!! 6cm has been folded out of the leg length of this pattern in order for it to fit my short Scottish pins. The pattern goes up to a 44, so I did a little extra grading and made a 46 from hip up. I just don’t go in enough for the 44 to fit comfortably!! I think actually that I can get rid of a bit of this extra though, and take in a little down the thigh. After putting on a bit of weight while I was out of sewing action and very, very bored, I have been able to get rid of the extra flab. This means that I don’t actually need some of that extra ease I built in to the making of these pants! So I’ll run a new line of stitching from the knee to hip and get a better shape for the flare from the knee down. ( Update – I have actually taken the side seams in from the waistband to knee, making for a much better fit and look overall.)
I picked the perfect thread to sew with, you can’t really see any of it in the topstitching. These little front patch pockets and just right, they try to discourage me from having my hands in my pockets too much, but are just the right size for my phone or a little change. I am addicted to pockets, I never really know where to put my hands if I don’t have any! I used seam tape for the hem, another occasion of just managing to fit the pattern pieces on the fabric.
I love how these trousers look with the stripey tee shirts, they’re going to be the first thing I pack in my suitcase for my week in Cornwall!
In other sewing news, the prom dress was finished in time and looked fabulous! I have a couple of photos on my phone, but have yet to persuade daughter no2 to get dressed up again so I can take decent ones for you all to see. We need details! I also downloaded the Mandy Boat Neck Tee from Tessuti Patterns after spotting a few online and seeing Thornberry’s latest versions. I’m obviously not over my quest for a square tee. I made it quickly a couple of weekends ago, mid prom dress, and I’m dead chuffed! So that’s another post waiting for photos.
Perhaps, if the weather’s not all it’s cracked up to be next week, I’ll be writing blog posts from our holiday apartment instead of exploring the Cornish countryside with the family. I won’t be taking any sewing stuff with me this time not even patterns to trace! I need desperately to crochet loads and loads of granny squares for daughter no2’s granny square afgan for University, I can’t believe there’s only one month today until she goes! Time flies people…
*UPDATE* I thought I’d posted this particular post before setting off on holiday, then wondered why things were so quiet… Turns out I’m a bit of a numpty and did nothing of the sort. So I have been on my Cornish break, altered the trousers and next week will be adding a band to the sleeve hem of the self drafted tee! I have also made loads of granny squares, and as I add this postscript, have just 12 more to do! Then I need to block them all and start putting it all together. It’s going to take time & Daughter No2 leaves on the 8th of August…..
More stuff to show you all! I’ve made another pair of linen trousers – no, you cannot have too many, they’re like shoes and handbags, didn’t you know?? This time I used a khaki linen from Fred Winter’s in Stratford on Avon and cut another TNT Burda pattern, 102 from July 2008 magazine. This pattern needs no adjustments other than to shorten it by 4 cm, perfect!!
The linen is great, a soft, medium weight that won’t get all crunchy and crisp after it’s washed. As the overlocker was still out from the last pair I zoomed round all the pieces leaving everything nice and neat. It’s a really quick pattern for me, they were done and dusted in a day. They have a straight cut leg and angular pocket, just simple trousers really!
Apologies for the creases, I decided to wear them before photographing could take place, and we all know linen loves to wrinkle. I must learn not to “wear” my makes before showing them off!
To go with them I thought I had to make another of the Burda tees I made in the blue Ikat jersey. I had 1 metre of “shatta” jersey from Fabric Godmother which, although it’s all madly patterned and in a lot of colours I don’t wear, I liked it. It looks great with these trousers and I’ve tried it with darker ones too, with positive results!
I took no chances with the stretch though, ironing Vilene bias tape to every single neckline and sleeve opening edge. This jersey drapes beautifully, is soft and light and was not going to be allowed to get away with being naughty. The stabilisation worked a treat, although I may have overdone it a bit, the stock of bias tape has been much depleted.
I like it so much I’m tempted to order a metre of the blue version in the same jersey!
I have at least 2 more pairs of trousers to make up, in linen of course, but I need to get cracking with Daughter No2’s prom dress first! If you follow me on Instagram you’d have seen my toile progress so far, and I think it’s looking good! So watch this space, sometime before the 3rd July there’ll be a (hopefully) gorgeous dress to show you all.
Cracking on with sewing for me, I’ve been on a real binge! I cut out two pieces of linen for trousers, one a khaki linen from Fred Winter’s in Stratford on Avon, and the other the most beautiful blue and white slubby herringbone from Fabric Godmother. I couldn’t avoid buying the herringbone, the minute I spotted it online I just had to have it, and I knew exactly what I wanted it for!
Bringing out my tried and tested Burda trouser patterns, it had to be my favourite wide swooshy style, 116 from Burdastyle magazine 3/2004. I made a bit of a boob though, and I hang my head in shame… You can only buy whole metres from Fabric Godmother, and this pattern calls for 2.2m You need that extra length because of the width of the trouser pieces, especially in the larger sizes. There is no way to get them pieces next to each other. So knowing I had 20cm less, you’d have thought I’d be really careful in cutting out.
Well, I put the fabric on my cutting table, which is shorter than 2m, so I carefully folded the piece that would otherwise have draped off the end, and proceeded to place the back, pocket pieces, facings, yoke & zip underlap in the space next to that piece. Then I happily cut it all out. Then I moved the folded fabric to the centre of the table and unfolded it. You can guess what happened next, can’t you… There wasn’t enough length left to cut the front. I think my cries of anguish could have been heard in the fields surrounding our little town. Then came the sound of me trying really hard to kick myself in the butt. Man I was cross, what a TWIT! A cup of tea and lots of deep breathing later I decided to wing it. I couldn’t buy another 2 metres just because I was so unrelentingly dumb that day!
I decided I’d have to piece the front, with the join as low down on the leg as possible to minimise anyone noticing. I hoped that the vertical pattern in the weave of the fabric would make it less obvious that there was a horizontal line where you didn’t expect to see one. I marked a 1cm seamline and on the paper marked the position of a dominant “stripe” in the weave to line up with. Once the main piece was cut I moved the paper over and cut the remaining 25cm, lining up those markers. Then it was just a question of pinning really carefully to ensure the patterns and stripes lined up as perfectly as possible.
For the construction I overlocked around everything pretty quickly as the fabric was rather prone to fraying. Because the weave is loose and the fibres slubby, this cotton and linen blend frayed more and quicker than a “normal” linen. I took my time lining up the pattern on the lower leg, and I think it’s worked out pretty well, I have to look for the horizontal line, so I don’t think anyone else will notice it when I’m out and about!
I do love this pattern, the way the yoke fits in the hollow of the back is perfect and this is the one pair that doesn’t pull down in the back, unlike all my other trousers. One thing I’ve noticed after wearing them for a day, as the fabric is a little on the heavier side, I could probably take the width of the legs in a bit.
They’re also pretty long. I have already shortened the pattern in the leg by 6cm but I think I need to take the hem up another 1.5 to 2cm. Which would be a bit of a pain, because I decided to support the inside of the hem against being rubbed by shoes and the ground by stitching in a piece of seam tape to the inside of the hem. So before taking it up more I’d have to unpick the tape.
But I luuuurve them! What I will need now is a white tee or two, I have plenty of blue ones! Tia Dia posted 3 tees she’s made recently, I’m quite tempted to use some of the patterns she’s tried as they look so good!
Remember that sew slowing from March? Yeah, I might be rethinking that now! There are so many things I need to make, patterns to try and fabric to convert into pretty clothes that that idea might have to wait a while. I still don’t want to race ahead with the self drafted trousers, they need to be right. In the meantime though I have stuff to make and time to catch up on.
While I was not sewing I was re-stocking my pattern and fabric stash. One of the pieces of fabric was a gorgeous blue and beige Ikat type print I bought on Etsy from Heather from Handmade By Heather B. The fabric is gorgeous, I love the print and the colour blue is perfect. The jersey itself is soft, has a fabulous handle and drapes beautifully. I thought I’d pair it with a new pattern purchase, the Shirt Tail Tee from HotPatterns.
The pattern was a PDF purchase, no copy shop version, so I was in for a bit of cutting and taping. Once printed, I noticed there were no borders on the pages, I thought initially that the sizing was incorrect. It turned out the printing went right to the edges of the paper, I just needed to line the pages up right next to each other. There are two versions of the front of the tee, a solid front or a front made of 3 pieces all cut on different grainlines. I went with the solid. Falling between the 18 & 20 I opted for the smaller size because I figured there would be plenty of ease.
Instructions are pretty simple, sew shoulder seams, fold neckband in half lengthways, attach to neckline, sew centre back seam, hem shirt, sew side seams, sew sleevebands, insert sleeves. The toile was quick, I used a lightweight jersey from the stash for the job. I was fairly happy with the result, it was baggier than I really wanted, and definitely too long, I decided to shorten it by 5cm but left the rest, I thought as the blue jersey was drapy-er that it would flow better around the body. So I went ahead and cut & sewed.
But this is where it all went wrong. The instructions do not call for stabilisation of any seams. I should have listened to my questioning self and added some, but I didn’t. The jersey I used was so soft and drapey that it stretched while I was working with it, not noticably but enough. Suffice to say that once I’d finished everything and put the tee on, it was a good 3-4 sizes bigger than the toile!! AARRGGHH
It’s horrible! A huge tent/sack that’s so unflattering it’s just not even funny. The neckline is massive, the little sleeves hang far too low. I hate it! So I took to Instagram to see if anyone had ideas for me to rescue the thing and there were some good responses. But I was too despondent, I’d just wasted all that lovely fabric!!! I put it aside to sort the next day, but on getting into my PJ’s that night had a bit of an epihany. My PJs are handmade, remember Karen’s Pyjama Party? I made a couple of pairs then that have been in rotation, and I realised the top I’d made is the perfect style of tee for me. It has a scooped neck, it’s floppy, not fitted, has a cap sleeve…. Eureka! So the next morning I cut what was left of Heather’s fabric and made a new tee. Using style 113 from Burdastyle magazine 12/2008 this is what I have now! Tah-dah…
The colours are perfect for me, I tend to have a rather monochrome wardrobe, greys and blacks in the winter, blues and creams/beiges in the summer.
The pattern itself is quick and easy to sew, it consists of the front and back, raglan sleeves in two pieces and a neckband. I lengthened the tee by 2cm, just because I could! To combat this fabric’s desire to stretch I stabilsed everything!! Using Vilene bias tape I fused the neckline on all pieces, the raglan seams and the centre sleeve seams. The only seams that don’t have a liberal application of bias tape are the side seams. And it’s worked! The fabric drapes and flows beautifully, and I don’t have to worry that the neckline is going to end up below my boobs 🙂 I’ve decided I may need to make another, there’s a new piece of jersey on my cutting table that I got from Fabric Godmother in my latest splurge and I think it’ll look fab in this pattern.
Soooo much better!! It drapes, it swooshes and I love it! 🙂 What to do with the tent? Maybe that’ll be a pj top. But for now I’ve put it aside, I will have a think, it will either be recut or used to sleep in on the hot summer nights. If we get any…
Round 2 of The Monthly Stitch Indie Pattern Month competition is in full swing, this week it’s separates. I had considered all sorts of things for this one, but as I’d started cutting a Gabriola for Daughter No1 before my operation (and got no further) I decided I’d finish that and whip up a suitable top. She loves the Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top and as her sister appropriated the other grey jersey version I made, it made perfect sense to sew up another.
This is the first Gabriola I’ve made for Daughter No1, I got her to try on Daughter No2’s Winter Gabriola for size, and it nearly fell straight off! Ok – size 0 with adjustments then… I made the smallest size and then took in an extra 3cm from the waist, grading down to just past the hips. The Sewaholic patterns are drafted with more hip ease, but it was not needed here. Other adjustments were to shorten the waistband – naturally, but I think that next time I’ll make it narrower too. You’ll see in the collage that although I made the waist considerably smaller, the skirt still sits below her natural waist, causing drag marks at the back. I might even draft a shaped waistband, it may fit better. I also needed to shorten the skirt. I took out 12cm in the length and I think it’s perfect, long enough to be a proper maxi, but not so long that it’ll drag in the dirt.
The fabric she’d chosen is cotton lawn with a “hippy” print, a muted colourway with paisleys and half moon shapes. It was bought from Stitch Fabrics at the NEC earlier this year, with the specific intention of making a Gabriola. I love the colours and print, it’s going to look great with a number of tops from her wardrobe and has that washed out, faded summer look. It’ll also soften with washing and I think it’s going to be well worn this season!
As far as the Drape Top goes, I just cut the pattern exactly as I’d done before as I’ve made a fair few versions of this pattern now. The fabric is a dark grey jersey from my stash – never ending jersey! I never use the elastic on the armholes, it just doesn’t work with my sewing machine! As it is, the application around the neck is about as much as the poor old thing can handle. Now I thought I’d try an FBA this time around, but on checking the instructions for doing on on the website the measurements weren’t different enough. But when I look at the garment I’m sure it needs one. Daughter No 1 is happy with it though, the drag lines don’t bother her at all.
So there you have it, a bit of a stashbust and a quick sew, that’s my entry for the Separates category.
Up next is a bit of fun with a super stretchy viscose jersey, it took all my patience!!
I made a very naughty, large order of fabric from Fabric Godmother this week and it arrived yesterday. It was so worth it!!! I immediately sorted it and popped it into the washing machine. By the evening it was all dry, ironed and ready to be used! I didn’t want to waste any time. In preparation for the fabric arriving, I had traced out a few patterns that I’d been buying during my enforced no-sew time.
I decided to start with a quick, simple one. Using the grey marl jersey from Fabric Godmother I wanted to make the Slouchy Cardigan from the Great British Sewing Bee book, Fashion with Fabric. Now this isn’t normally the sort of book I’d buy, but just before my operation I spotted it in Tesco for £5. £5! So I bought it, thinking it may come in handy in a class and possibly it would be something to read while I convalesced.
I liked the look of the cardigan, it’s one of those garments that’s just handy to have, like my Granny used to say, “You need a light covering dear.” And that is what this is. Tracing the pieces was a doddle. There are loads of sheets in the separate pouch, which means lots of space to lay out the patterns. It’s most definitely easier than squinting through the maze on a Burda pattern sheet. The cardi consists of two pieces, a back cut on the fold, and the front.
I had ordered 2m of jersey for the cardi, which is just as well as I noticed a nice hole in the fabric! Luckily there was enough space to manoeuvre the front piece to avoid the problem area, but if I’d not washed and ironed the fabric I may not have noticed the hole until it was way too late. The first time I realised there may be a problem with the pattern drafting was when I noticed there was a lack of notches on the back piece. The front has two notches on the upper arm seam and two more on the underarm/side seam. The back only has them on the upper arm seam.
The instructions have you pinning the pleats/tucks on the front, stitching then pressing away from the front and topstitching with a twin needle. All well and good right? Nope. For starters, the pattern is drafted with the pleats/tucks being folded towards the front, you can see that in the photograph, see the ears, they’re the evidence that the tucks/pleats are going the wrong way (but the right way, according to the instructions).
The second pleat is not marked correctly. There is no physical way you can line up the start and stop markings of that pleat and have the fabric lie flat. It is supposed to be parallel with the first pleat, but it’s marked out completely incorrectly. So mine is not parallel, but the fabric lies flat! When things look wonky like that on the fabric, first thing I do is double check the pattern.. Did I trace the right lines? Leave something out? If the answer is no, I pin the paper to see what’s going on. That’s when the truth comes out…
If you force the top edges and the bottom points of that second pleat together, you get a twisted mess, the lines aren’t the right length and the fold doesn’t lie straight, here’s my paper pinned version.
So having fiddled the pleats/tucks, the sewing of the underarm was fine, but there was a snag with the upper arm seam. The front is about 4cm shorter than the back!! NO WAY!! Back to the pattern, did I trace the Kimono line instead?? Nope. That’s when I pinned the front to back along that seam and there you have it, the pieces don’t match! See the bottom two photos in the first collage, you’ll see the difference in the two pieces.
I folded the back in half and pinned the neck edge together, smoothing out the now attached fronts to get a good curve and drew on a new back neckline. I didn’t want to drop the centre back too far so only went down 2cm. I got a good new line into the edge of the front and cut it all away. Then the bias tape had to be reapplied to the back neck to stop it stretching out and the sleeve and outer hems done.
I am happy now it’s done, I like the look and the jersey is amazing! It’s so soft and light, perfect for a little cover-up in the summer. I wore it to the Broadway Classic and Vintage Car show this afternoon, the weather was ok, but there is a chilly breeze which isn’t all that pleasant when the sun disappears behind the clouds, and I wasn’t cold at all! I do like the shape, but Mr W doesn’t. He says it’s too round, too floppy and unflattering. I know what he’s thinking, he thinks it makes me look fat. Tough!! When I’m bored I eat, and I’ve had 6 weeks of being bored. Now I need to get un-bored, fast!!
Anyhow, overall I am pleased with the finished result, but I am not impressed that a much vaulted book has been sent out into the world with issues like this on what is effectively the simplest pattern in it. Here’s a thought, instead of sending the patterns to bloggers to test, send them to the local college teaching City & Guilds and ask a pattern cutting teacher to check them. They’ll sort it out!