Sewing in Different Circles

Phew, it has been a while hasn’t it?!  It’s been a crazy couple of months, and so, so much has changed, some things forever.  The last time I popped in, I was sewing for the Great Module Sewalong.  That all came to a grinding halt when I got the news that my Dad had passed away suddenly at the end of the first week in March.  I got on the next available plane home to South Africa with my girls as support to do what I could for my Mum, all thoughts of sewing left behind.

Then the world went mad.  Luckily the girls were able to get home just in time before the barriers came down and the walls went up.  I had had no plans to sew much, my thoughts were of paperwork, loose ends (of which there are still many) and support for mum.  Naturally I missed my favourite activity, as well as my allotment, which I had to leave just as seeds were germinating – along with millions of weeds.

I had planned on fabric shoping however.  But in the crazy first two weeks out here, there was no time for that second favourite activity.  Then the government announced a nationwide lockdown, all but essential services allowed to operate, and fabric shopping went completely out of the window.  Now we’re into May and a relaxing of the rules, fabric shops are allowed to be open to sell fabric to make masks and winter clothing.  Yes, May in the Southern Hemisphere is winter, although with temperatures this week in the mid to high 20s, it’s not anything like a UK winter.  Or summer!  😀  Thankfully winter means no humidity, just nice warm sunshine.

Anyway, back to the shopping!!  A typical South African cloth is produced here in East London in the Eastern Cape, Shweshwe.  I wrote about it a couple of years ago, if you want to know more.  The Da Gama factory isn’t open, but the factory shop in town is, so, under the guise of requiring lots of cotton to make face masks, Mum and I went shopping.  As it’s “winter”, I decided I needed another couple of pairs of longer than cropped length trousers.  I got two lots of  2m of Shweshwe for some Style Arc Kew Pants, I’d bought the pattern in their Easter Sale with the Como Top and the Teddy Top, to go with the Teddy Pants.

But – I’d completely forgotten that Shweshwe is only 90cm wide…  2m will make one trouser leg, not a pair of trousers!  Of course, that meant we had to go back!  This time I had better plans, get another 2m of one of the fabrics to actually make the pants, and 1.5 to make an Ogden Cami to go under a thin jumper I’d brought with me.  But then I spotted a waxed cotton fabric while waiting for the assistant to cut the Shweshwe, and fell in love!  So I bought 4.5m of the best bold, but neutral print wax cotton they had.  And 7m of Shweshwe with a cream ground with brown and orange print for daughter No1.  I hope it all fits into the suitcase…  Daughter No 2 has yet to put in her order.

So, lots of shopping, but what about the sewing??  Well, I think we’ve finally reached that part of the lockdown when we’re done with most of the big jobs, and now I feel that I can take a bit of time to myself and make something.  Once I’d realised I’d made a boob with the fabric amounts, I thought I’d make a top with one of the pieced I’d bought originally.  The fabric has body even after the wax has been washed off, so nothing drapy.  Immediately the LB Pullover from Paper Theory sprung to mind.  Thank heavens I brought my laptop with me on this trip, so I had immediate access to all my pdf patterns.  I just needed to print it off.  Now here’s where mum came in useful – she and dad own a stationery shop, complete with everyting I need to trace a pattern, and to print it too!  The only downside was having to print on A4, but an evening with the scissors, tape and a couple of glasses of wine made short work of that tedious job.

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I made the 16, no adjustments.  The 2m was literally just enough to squeeze the pieces onto, and I had to piece the bias cut collar together.  There were only the smallest scraps of fabric leftover.  It was the perfect choice of pattern for the fabric, and print and I love it!  It’s going to fit into my wardrobe at home perfectly, as well as add colour and shape to the small amount I’ve brought with me.  It’s very tempting to make another, but I need to keep an eye on the amount of weight of that suitcase, especially if I’m going to be stuck here for another few months…

 

Simplicity

 

As promised – the woven version of the Paper Theory LB Pullover.  But not just one – two!  For once, the amazing top I saw in my head has actually lived up to expectations!  I cut the same size in this as I did for the striped ponte version, but I’ve added length to the front along the bust line.  This should result in a dart – which I did not want, so I rotated it to the hemline and removed the dart width from the side.  So now I have length, and no dart!  Yippee.  But I’m thinking I could have added another centimetre or two and it wouldn’t have hurt.

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LB Pullover from Paper Theory in herringbone wool and silk blend

The pattern is otherwise the same as the last one, with the exception of the collar/neckband.  This time it’s cut on the bias, which looks pretty nice with the herringbone.  The fabric, to remind you, is a silk and wool herringbone in sage green and ecru that I found in a local charity shop.  It’s really lovely to wear, soft, with great drape and warm too.  What’s better, I pop it in the washing machine with no problems!  I love wearing this top with my Birkin Flares, and it’s just as good with my Peppermint Wide Leg Pants.  It’s simple, clean and minimal.  Perfect.

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The length in the front is better, but could be adjusted again

 

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Version two is a fabric that’s been lurking in the stash since about 2006…  I’d been patting this particular fabric in my local fabric shop everytime I went in, but not buying it because it was expensive, and what was I going to make with a silk fabric that looked like a chunky wool weave?  Then it was down to the last metre and a bit and I had to make a decision, grab it or lose it forever.  Naturally I grabbed it.  But what to make?  That’s why it’s been sitting for so long, but this pattern got me thinking and I decided to use it up.  No, it’s not the most practical fabric in the world, but can I just say, it’s warm and snuggly and I love it!  And most people think it’s a knit, or wool!

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LB Pullover with narrow collar in woven chunky silk

There wasn’t enough fabric to ut that nice big floppy collar on the bias, so I opted for the narrower band, which gives a finish more like a wide crew neck on a tee.  I cut it on  the straight first, because, unlike the taller collar, there is no mention of needing to change the grainline for a woven.  It didn’t fit…  So I cut strips of bias the required width, stitched them together until it was loong enough for the pattern piece and started again.  It was still too short!!  AAAAHHHHH  I wasn’t going to add more bits of bias, you’d seen it and it would look messy.  And I couldn’t cut more, there wasn’t enough fabric!  So I stretched the bias.  It was on the back that I had the problem, so I ignored the shoulder markings and stole a bit of the front band for the back.  It works ok and looking at it, you can’t see a problem.  I checked the pattern pieces against each other, and there it is, the narorw band is shorter than the wider one.  I even double checked on the printed pattern, just in case I’d traced the wrong size, but nope.  So be careful if you’re making the narrow band top, your fabric might not have the give that mine did!

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I will be making more of these, but with a little more length added in the front.  It’s not that I notice it when wearing, only when I look in the mirror or see these photos.  The front definitely needs a bit more depth!  I’m looking forward to making some woven versions in summer fabrics and shorter sleeves – linen and cotton tops would be lovely to wear in the warmer weather.

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I had hoped to be running up a blue fleece version this week, but the remnant I have is just too short, so I’ll have to make something else with it.  The downside of getting fabric you didn’t specifically order/buy!  I guess it will have to be a kid thing.

A Cautionary Tale

I was hoping to be showing off more Japanese sewing projects this month, but I was left slightly dejected after the poor turnout of the last project.  I had had such high hopes for it – and that top looked amazing in my head.  So I was really unsure of what direction to take next, and ended up just cutting out a stack of fabric instead.  That’s why Wednesday’s post was full of kid’s clothes, that’s what I concentrated on this week.

Once the kid’s clothes were done, I was going to reach for the next pile, which included 3 Ogden Camis and 3 new tops for my Mum, using her favourite Burda pattern.  However…  I got slightly distracted with all the hoo-haa on Instagram regarding Indie pattern designers “ignoring” a large part of the market by not catering to people with larger measurements.  I watched loads of stories, read blog posts and IG posts and generally got lost down a deep rabbit hole!

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LB Pullover by Paper Theory

Now I’ve been following Paper Theory for a while, I liked the Kabuki Tee when it came out, but thought it might be too roomy for me, and look tent-like, so I left it.  Since then, Tara has added a pullover and shirt pattern to her offerings.  Hers was one of the stories I watched on IG, and it made me want to do something.  She’s a one-person band with seriously limited resources, but wanting to do better.  This is where my compulsive desire to “help” popped into the picture.  I decided I’d like to help, but what could I do?  I’m not exactly rolling in excess funds, I have no experience in drafting properly for “plus size”, cannot use a computer drafting program and am not in London.  However, I can buy her patterns.  I can offer to be a pattern tester for the current upper range of her patterns.  I can do what I can.

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So I bought the Kabuki Tee and the LB Pullover as PDF patterns, and instantly sent the copyshop version off to the other half to print at the office on the plotter!  Cheeky, but if he’s going to insist on spending 12-13 hours of his day there, I need to get some advantage!!  According to the measurement chart, I’m the size 18 for tops.  I always go with bust measurement for tops etc, and hip measurement for bottoms.  The waist I can take care of afterwards!  I also checked the finished measurement chart.  For the LB Pullover, the size 18 has a finished bust measurement of 128cm, that’s 20cm of extra.  Now normally I’m comfortable with 120-125cm finished width on tops, so this wasn’t too much more.  Maybe for a knit I’d be happy going down a size…  The size 16 is 123cm, so also falls easily within my comfort zone.  I traced both sizes & went with the 18 for my first time.

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I have in the stash two pieces of grey and black striped ponte.  The one piece used to be 2m and is now the leftovers after cutting a Named Saunio Cardigan.  I then bought another 1m bit so I could make something else, because I really liked the colour and the stripe.  This is what I was going to make my pullover with.  It’s a fairly sturdy ponte, not thick or chunky, but not overly stretchy either – which means I couldn’t use it for the Sew House Seven Tabor Tee.  I cut the sleeves, back and neckband from the leftover piece, and the front from the new piece – no problem!

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Instructions are simple and to the point, no waffling for pages and pages!  It was quick to cut and, if I wasn’t using stripes, would have been quick to sew too!  But I wanted to make sure those suckers lined up!  Yeah – that.  I pinned the sleeve seams first (I always start with the sleeves, weird)  and then couldn’t figure out why the sides were so wrong, the stripes wouldn’t line up.  I had to stretch the one side to get the stripes to line up, but I’d made 100% sure I’d cut it all properly, so what the *%*£??  Then it dawned on me,  The stripes were marginally wider on the 1m piece than they were on the original fabric.  Oh crap!  I hadn’t even considered for a miniscule portion of a nonosecond that they’d be different!  I’d even bought it from the same shop!  I should have cut front and back from the same piece, I could have got away with the sleeves being different!

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Those pesky unmatched stripes…

So what did I do?  I just pinned and sewed!!  I’m considering adding a stripe up the seam to break the join, then it won’t be noticed that the stripes don’t line up!  😀  A sort of vertical “go faster” stripe.  Like you find on posh pants/trousers.  Maybe.  So let that be a warning, people – if you buy two pieces of “the same fabric” check that it is in fact, the same fabric!!

In the meantime, I put the top on the minute I was finished with it, and I like it!  the stripe is not as “in my face” as that gingham was, even though it’s still an all-over pattern.  The length is perfect (btw, I did not do an FBA), both in the body and the sleeves.  I also love the neckband.  It was the one thing I wasn’t sure of, I don’t like fabric up againsy my neck – or double chin.  I’ve inherited my Dad’s family’s chin, and it makes raised necklines a bit annoying for me.  It’s one of the things I don’t like about the fleece Toaster I made last year.  I keep pulling the front down to keep it away from my neck/chin, and it’s the same with the Talvikki.  On this pattern, the scoop of the neckline is lower (and it’s a sewn-on, rather than grown-on neckband) and the fabric is softer, has more flop.

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I wore the top for the remainder of the day, & again the next day!  I now have plans for another, but in a woven this time…  I was lucky enough to find 3m of silk and wool fabric at a local charity shop.  I swear I wasn’t looking for fabric, I only wanted a good book to read!  But there it was, sage green & ecru herringbone, lightweight and lovely – and only £12!!  I couldn’t leave it there.  After washing and ironing it, I think it’s a wool and silk blend.  Now, I have hatched a plan in my head to make another LB Pullover in this fabric!  Again – in my head it looks amazing.  Fingers crossed!