Here we go with the first of the “proper” post of 2016! I really like waterfall cardigans, floaty, drapey and mostly in jersey or fine knit fabrics. So when Wendy Ward released the Longley Cardi I was keen to make one up. I wanted the right fabric though. This entailed online fabric searches, fabric store rummaging and general procrastination. Then I found something… A fine silvery sweater knit at Croft Mill Fabrics. At just £4.50 a metre it wasn’t going to be a train smash if it didn’t work! I loved the fabric when it came, silver & sparkly & drapey!
I traced the largest size (honestly my measurements were a tad bigger) and thought I’d just wing it… The cardi is really quick to make, once the pieces are cut out and pinned together (making sure the neckline and shoulders are reinforced with Vilene bias tape) the overlocker makes short work of it. Making took me 2 hours flat. The instructions are simple, easy to follow and pretty obvious really. The “booklet” is a ribbon bound couple of pages that keeps everything short and sweet, unlike some indies who think you need 4 pages of fabric layouts….
Originally I was making the cardi just as it comes, there are long cuffs to add to the end of the sleeves, but once it was done and I’d put it on I realised they had to go! In a different, sturdier, fabric they’d probably be fine, but the sleeve is the perfect length for me without the deep cuff. In the fine sweater knit they just drooped and slip off over my hand. I hadn’t worn jumpers in that way (pulled over my hand) since high school!! 🙂 So I cut them off and tapering the sleeve towards the end slightly, just turned up a 1.5cm hem and used the twin needle to stitch it in place. Works perfectly!
I’ve worn this cardi loads!! It works brilliantly to dress up jeans & with pretty much every top in my wardrobe, it’s silver, the perfect colour!! Now I am on the look out for a good ponte to make another – for me. Because I’ve already made another for Daughter no2.
There were admiring glances cast in the direction of my silver cardi on one of her weekends home from uni, so I offered to make her one of her own (before mine disappeared) in another fine knit I had in the stash. I’d got it from FabricLand in Reading back in August and had used a bit of it, but having bought 3m still had plenty left.
Again, an easy and very quick make, and again, I omitted the cuffs. Then I wrapped it up and popped it into ther Christmas present pile! Since getting it I think she’s worn it constantly! I made the smallest size for her and no alterations at all. Now I just need to make one for daughter no1…
So if you’re thinking of a drapey cardi that you can throw on over – or under, anything, this one is great! Really quick to make, easy to put together and looks pretty darned good to boot!
One of the items in my huge pile of goodies to make this season was an idea to use up some of the smaller, left over pieces of jersey from my original Birgitte and the Tessuti Mandy top. I had in mind a sort of double layer tee, with bits of the under layer peeking out from the upper, but an investigation of the remaining bits of fabric showed there wasn’t enough for my plan. So I thought of something with a “yoke” instead.
I was really happy with the fit of the Maria Denmark Birgitte, so decided to use that as a basis for my fiddling. I went with the scoop neck nee this time, lifting the neckline by 5cm in order to create the yoke area. I had to keep in mind there wasn’t much of the ivory jersey left, so couldn’t go too deep. I ran the line across the sleeves and back, keeping it all straight. It does mean that actually, when worn, the line on the sleeves angles upwards, but I’m good with that. I paired the ivory jersey with the remaining stripe – I obviously forgot what that tiny stripe does to my eyes!! It has a lovely drape so I thought I’d use that in this tee. I flared the tee out at the sides by 5cm at the hem, creating a slight Plantain silhouette.
For the sleeves, I used the long sleeve from the Birgitte, but then shortened it to the 3/4 length. The reason why I ddn’t just use the 3/4 sleeve is the shape – the given pattern has a slight trumpet shape which I didn’t want this time. Just straight sleeves for this version.
I’m pretty happy with the result. I think I’ll take the sides of the scoop in more next time, possibly raise the back neckline by a couple of centimetres too, but these are not earth shattering alterations. I’ve worn this tee loads already and it’s really fitted in well with my current wardrobe. I have quite a few other tops to show off, somehow the sewing has completely taken over the reporting of the sewing! There are some tops I made back in September in a rush, fearing I wouldn’t be able to touch a sewing machine for ages after my wrist operation, like the last time. Thankfully a different surgeon has meant a totally different experience and I was back to sewing within a week!! Miracle! So stay tuned, there are more tops coming this way…
With my sewing plans all laid out for easy viewing, I decided pretty quickly on what I wanted to start with. It will come as a surprise to you that it is neither a Burda pattern, nor a self-drafted one! In fact, what I wanted to start with wasn’t even a piece of fabric that had made it onto the pile this year, nevermind the season. So much for not getting distracted!!
I’d given in to purchasing the Merchant & Mills workbook after seeing a couple of items online that I liked (and a couple I wasn’t entirely sure of). I checked images and some blog posts, looking at some of the reviews of the book itself, not just individual patterns. The one thing I couldn’t see was the sizes the book catered for. They state the patterns go to size 18 and I managed to find some published photos of some sort of measurements, but they were never clear enough to see exactly what they were. I thought I’d take a gamble & get it anyway, figuring if it wasn’t going to work for me I could always sell it.
I rather liked the wrap top, called Heron. Wrap tops don’t always work terribly well on fuller busted figures. I’d seen this post while conducting my research and figured if it worked on this lady, it wouldn’t look too terrible on me! I also decided on a linen to make it in. Deep in the fabric cupboard, in the linens box, languished a beautiful, light weight, warm grey linen. This is one of those pieces that has a slight sheen to it, no slubs and the most perfect smooth texture. It’s been hanging around for about 8 years, too gorgeous to make just any old thing from, but perfect for the Heron top.
The book arrived and was immediately devoured. There are patterns I will make, others that I shudder at. The overall asthetic is a bit arty teacher who doesn’t own an iron, but each to his/her own! I did spot a problem though. On each pattern page there is a helpful table of finished measurements, diagrams of pattern pieces, fabric requirements etc. Nowhere could I find a size table. Nowhere. Please tell me what the point is of providing finished measurements when you have no starting point??
I checked the Merchant and Mills website, perhaps it was there on the patterns you buy individually.. Nope, only finished measurements. In frustration I googled “size table for merchant & mills patterns” which lead me to a PDF I could download and lo and behold, sizes!! Am I going on too much about this? Perhaps, but it annoyed me that it wasn’t in the book.
Apart from that, this isn’t going to be a review of the whole book, I have only made one pattern so far!! From the size table and finished measurements of the Heron I chose the 18 & made a toile in a lightweight calico. I wasn’t worried too much about the fit in this exercise, but the look. Sometimes wrap tops feel too enveloping and claustrophobic. It seemed ok but I needed to make the ties longer, much longer!
The patterns are easy to trace, nothing like the Burda mazes. Markings are shown with little rectangles and seam allowances are shown as notches. Most are the standard 1.5cm but on this pattern the side seams are 2cm to allow the armhole openings to appear neater when topstitched. It’s a really easy pattern to make, not taking long at all. I used Gill Arnold’s fine sheer polyester interfacing on the front facing and shawl collar piece, this gave the fabric just enough body. The ties were short for me, I lengthened the short, left piece by 10cm and added that length to the right piece.
I had it finished just in time to wear to Daughter No1’s graduation ceremony in Birmingham at the beginning of September. I wore it with a plain white Marks & Spencer tee underneath and my pale linen trousers made just before I went on holiday. After lots and lots of sitting during the day, here it is just before lunch…
I had thought it would look pretty good with a longer sleeved tee underneath, I think black, grey or white would work pretty well, so the next item to be made from the table of goodies was an off white viscose jersey. I chose the Maria Denmark Brigitte tee, bought with a birthday discount. A standard tee, nothing fancy, I chose the 3/4 slightly trumpet shaped sleeves and v-neckline. It needed an FBA to fit across the bust but otherwise was just fine. This is the first time I’ve made a Maria Denmark pattern for myself, & I’m hoping to use the sleeves from this pattern for the Day to Night Drape top.
Putting the Heron & Brigitte together works fabulously well, and even better with my wide legged black linen Burda trousers!
Ok, I know it could be longer, especially in the front, and Kimono sleeves always look funny on the fuller busted, so I don’t think I’d get it too much better than this. But I’ve worn this top a few times now and can’t really complain about anything. It also irons really well, & with linen that’s a massive bonus!
That’s the Brigitte tee sticking out, I like these sleeves very much, and may only change the length of the body of the tee. For me I feel it’s just a wee bit too long, around 5cm or so could easily be lost from the length. I do want to make anther tee to wear with this top, one with long, tighter fitting sleeves, probably in black. I might also make another Heron top! I found, buried deep in the ironing basket, a piece of dark grey wool with a fine mustard/gold pinstripe that would look fabulous in this pattern! (Heaven knows where – or when – I got that fabric!)
Two out of 21 there, my next project was already chosen! Here’s a glimpse…
More wrapping, we’ll see whether it works on my frame or not!
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!