Friday, 26 September 2014

Fancier Pants

See all that beautiful cotton undies elastic pictured above? Well it's mine, ALL MINE! Hahahaha!!! 

Forgive me, I got a bit excited. I have acquired this lovely stash is because I was asked to make some undies samples using some of it. Maggie, the owner of Textile Garden, who is a sponsor of my blog and officially the nicest lady in haberdashery, recently got a new range of elastic and wanted some samples for her stall when she goes to knitting and stitching type events.  

I made a couple of pairs of pants using some luxurious organic cotton knit (sent to me by Offset Warehouse) and a vest using some stretchy lace fabric lurking in my stash. Unsurprisingly, I used my free undies/pants and vest patterns for these. 

I adapted my usual undie-making methods to suit these delicate cotton elastics by applying them with tiny zigzag stitches rather than a chunkier three-step zigzag stitch. It was really enjoyable to sew with a product that I normally wouldn't get my hands on. And I love the results, even if there's no red, navy, leopard print or anchors involved!

I think my favourites are the duck-egg and lilac/pink scalloped elastic (pictured above) and the cream lace elastic (pictured below). They also sell the lace elastic in white, and seeing as it's cotton I'm assuming that you could dye it any colour you pleased. 

My undies drawer is looking a bit shabby these days (in case you were wondering) so when I get some time I'm going to update it using some of these lovely elastics. I'm sure there are lots of other uses aside from undies that you could make though. What would you make with pretty cotton elastic like this?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Introducing The Dolores Batwing Pattern! PLUS: Review Copies Giveaway


I am flipping out with excitement to finally be able to reveal to you lovely people my new garment pattern! It has been in the pipeline on and off for over two years, and she's finally ready for you to see. The Dolores batwing pattern be on sale in downloadable PDF form on 3rd October. But in the meantime, let me show you some pics and tell you a bit more...

This is a pattern designed for light to medium weight knit fabrics, and looks and feels particularly good in those with a drapey, slinky quality. It's a super-simple PDF pattern that prints off in just 11 pages and consists of four patterns pieces. You'll only need to use three of those pattern pieces per style variation. 

Speaking of style variations, there are two sleeve options and three length options, giving you a combination of six different looks in total (and that's before you put your own spin on things, should you wish to!). These photos here show three of the style variations you could make, check out the line illustrations to see all six. 

Multi-sized for sizes 8 - 16, this pattern is suitable for knit beginners and more experienced types alike. Not only is it simple in design and construction, but the instructions include lots of tips for choosing, prepping, cutting and sewing knit fabrics, whether you own an overlocker or just a regular sewing machine. The Dolores batwing pattern will be on sale from 3rd October, but of course I'll be reminding you!

So on to the giveaway... I will be sending some 'copies' (umm, files) of this pattern to sewing bloggers around the globe to help get the word out about its existence. If you'd like a free copy of the pattern and instructions, then please leave a comment below this post. The only criteria for entering this giveaway is that you have a blog and promise to write an honest review about the Dolores batwing pattern on it. I don't care how many people read your blog, BTW: whether it gets a squillion hits a day or only your mum checks in now and again, please enter the giveaway if you wish to!

Leave your comment by midnight GMT Wednesday 24th September, and I'll choose twenty bloggers the following day by random number generator to receive this pattern ahead of it going on sale. If I can't easily find your email address by clicking through to your blog or blogger profile etc, then please leave it in your comment.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank my awesome pattern and instruction testers Claire, Jane, Jenna, Karen, Kathryn, Laura, Marie and Winnie. They have all been so generous with their time and assistance, and I literally couldn't have got this into the real world without them.

Friday, 12 September 2014

One Week One Pattern '14: Complete!

It's a wrap! Today was the final day of this year's OWOP challenge as hosted by Handmade Jane (thanks, Jane!), and a thoroughly fun challenge it was too. If you recall, I decided I was going to take part using the Playful Kitty baby leggings pattern from Ottobre magazine. Signing up to the challenge was a great push to bash out a few more pairs of this excellent and super quick pattern.

After making the original pair (on the left of the picture above) I revisited the pattern and made a few changes. I, umm, *coughs*, added the seam allowance that I should have added before, as well as lowering the waistline at the front by 2 cm. 

The second from left pair are made from some weird vintage cream and navy printed knit fabric. It's really thin and synthetic-y feeling but I'm also strangely drawn to it! I have a ton of it and will therefore probably make many garments for Dolores from it in the future, so I may as well start now! 

The stripy pair are made from some amazing organic interlock that is available here from The Village Haberdashery. These were made using scraps left over from the Moneta sample I made for VH's owner Annie in advance of the class I taught there a few times.   

The fourth pair are made from the same ribbed synthetic knit that I used last year to make a pair of pregnancy leggings from. You can see them in action here. By the end of my pregnancy, they were the only things I could fit on my lower half! I really like that she now has a version of the same leggings I wore whilst growing her!

So on the documentation of the challenge, because I'm sure that's what you really came here to see!

Saturday (Day 1):
Blue version 

Sunday (Day 2):
Cream and navy version

Monday (Day 3):
Cartoon print brown version

Tuesday (Day 4):
Cream and navy version

Wednesday (Day 5):
Stripy version rolled up in a natty manner

Thursday (Day 6):
Blue version (she was not feeling well today)

Friday (Day 7):
Started with cartoon print brown version, but due to a leaky nappy an outfit change was required before photography could commence. So, stripy version!


I love this challenge! As I said before, I love it for many of the same reasons I love Me-Made-May. It's a great opportunity to enjoy and celebrate the things we've made that we actually want to wear in our day-to-day lives. Plus it's wonderful to see how people interpret different patterns, and it's great to hoover up ideas for future creating.

Regarding the leggings themselves, they are also a great success. The lowered front works well and I was surprised by how many not-too-bizarre-looking outfit combo's I could rustle up including this quartet. The addition of seam allowance on the pattern obvs makes them come up a fair bit bigger, and at the moment the pair without seam allowance currently fit her best. However, it's great to know that the others will last for months and months, especially because I created quite a large overlap on the waist elastic with an eye to letting them out further down the line, just like the pregnancy pair I made myself actually! In fact I'm sitting here typing this wearing the black pair of pregnancy leggings I made, with the elastic made a lot shorter again!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Holly Playsuit

Oh hai peops! Here's a little something that I made a whole bunch of weeks ago. It's my version of the new By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit pattern. Those crazy cats asked me, along with a great pile of other awesome sewers, if I'd like to test the pattern to help them with its development. Seeing as I have yet to act on my playsuit/jumpsuit dreams I, umm, jumped at the chance (sorry, I couldn't avoid that). Please note that this is NOT a review of this pattern, as a tester I was obviously sent the pre-tweaked beta version of the pattern, so what you get if you buy it now will be a bit different. 


I greatly admire the By Hand London girls, their attitude and their business. But usually I find the style of their patterns to be too contemporary for my personal taste so I haven't sewn any of theirs before. However, I could see the retro potential in the sleeved and shorts version of the Holly (pictured above, image from the By Hand London website). To start with I made a few of the standard pattern alterations that I always make to give myself a fighting chance of a well fitting garment. I made the size 12 but graded out to the 14 at the waist. This probably wasn't necessary but I HATE feeling restricted round my belly. Secondly, I extended the back rise by 1.5 cm to accommodate my junk, as usual. And thirdly, I reduced the length of the bodice by about 1.5 cm due to my short-waistedness. 

After a mid-way fitting sesh, I noticed that the waistline was coming up VERY high, so clawed back as much of my bodice-shortening adjustment as I could by making the seam allowance as small as possible. If I were to make this again, I'd probably actually add a little bit to the length of the bodice. I also found the bust darts to be VERY high. Like, at least 6 cm too high. I know I have slightly saggy mum-breast-feeding boobs now and the application of a decent fitting bra will probably do wonders, but I feel that all but the most pert among us would have found these darts pointing north of your bust points to some degree. I'm not sure if the final version of the Holly pattern addressed these two issues, but I'd keep an eye out for them. 

The final issue I found was that the shoulder/neck area is very wide and quite 'gapey', making my bra straps visible a lot of the time. I think you can see the gapiness a bit in the picture at the top of this post. I haven't done it yet, but I intend to move the top few buttons over a touch to see if that closes up the neckline and reduces the gaping effect. If I make this garment again, I'd be tempted to 'fill in' the neckline on the pattern a little around the shoulder/neck area. 

One change I do know that By Hand London made since the testing process of this pattern, extra room was added to the butt area. I didn't find any issues with that on my version, but then maybe my additional 1.5 cm to the rise negated the tightness that other testers must have found. 

But that's the negatives out the way. There is a lot I love about this pattern. You can't see too well in the pictures of my version because of the busy print, but it has a delicate row of tiny buttons down the front. Those buttons are functional as well as decorative: you need them along with the side zip to get in and out of the thing. I also love the proportions of the little turn ups on the sleeves. In general wearing this garment feels fun and a bit cheeky! But it's not great for quick visits to the loo, just sayin'. 


So that we testers didn't need to delve into our fabric stashes to make the Holly pattern, we were very helpfully paired up a fabric purveyor who supplied us with fabric to sew our versions in. I was paired with the UK based Fabric Godmother. I got to hunt through their stock and had my choice to make my playsuit in. Oh. My. Goodness. That was a fun process. As I've mentioned in previous posts, in normal circumstances I try to sew exclusively from my fabric stash or by sourcing second-hand textiles, often from unwanted clothing. But when I do get offered free new fabric, I'm not mental, I say thank you very much. 

My first choice was out of stock so I went with this Tui Bird & Pohutakawa print cotton (close up below, image from the Fabric Godmother website). Seeing as this was free fabric, I wanted to go with something outstanding! The lovely lady at the Fabric Godmother got in touch with me a little while later and offered me a length of my first choice of fabric for free when she received a new delivery, as long as I mentioned where it came from when I blogged about my creation, which I promise I will. 

Although the fabric I used for my playsuit was my second choice, it has more body than the Aloha fabric and therefore worked better for this project which I feel needs a bit of structure. The buttons I used for my playsuit were some little fabric covered ones I'd had in my stash for a squillion years. Their turquoise colour is the same as the main part of the little birds in the print. So this project only required me to buy a zip. Hurrah! 

Thanks both to By Hand London and the Fabric Godmother for helping my finally get round to making a wearable playsuit!  

Friday, 29 August 2014

Teaching Workshops at Tilly HQ, London

This blog post is pretty pointless for two reasons but I'm going to write it anyway because I hate not doing something that I planned to. It's meant to be a post announcing the exciting news that I'm going to be teaching two of Tilly and the Buttons's new workshops. However this post is pointless because it is unlikely that there's anyone who reads this blog who wouldn't have already read about the workshops over at Tilly's when she announced them on Tuesday (aside from my folks, hi Mum and Dad!).

Tilly has a whole host of wonderful workshops that will take place in her EPIC new studio space in London. Most of the classes will be taught by herself, plus there's also a Zips and Buttonholes class that will be taught by Lauren from Lladybird when she's in town! I'm tempted to take that one myself just to hang out with her... Does that sound creepy?!

My involvement will be teaching the Copy Your Clothes! and Sewing Knits: Make a Coco workshops. If you were counting and wondered what the second reason why that this blog post is pointless is, it's because both of them have sold out already. However, it is very likely that they will be rescheduled at some point in the future, so if you are interested in taking them you can get on the waiting list by contacting Tilly.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Baby Leggings and OWOP 2014

You know how it is. After a project FAIL that used up a whole load of time and sewing mojo, like my would-be denim sweet shorts, you often need a quick pick-me-up project. Something so quick and easy that it restores your faith in sewing. For me that invariably means making something from knit fabric. And what's even quicker than a project made from knit fabric? Something made from knit fabric that has JUST ONE PATTERN PIECE. 


I already have about five editions of the kids version of Ottobre design magazine from my subscription which ended last year. However, a couple of weeks ago I found the latest edition on sale in my local WHSmiths, and seeing as I have never seen them on sale IRL before, I was tempted to add another to the stack. At first I was reluctant to fork out £10, but when I saw that it had a baby/younger toddler version of the Tiny Path toddler leggings that I made my niece for Christmas, I decided it would be an investment. If this pair worked out well, I envisioned making a stack of these over the next however-long-Dolores-fits-into-the-sizes-of-this-pattern.  

Dolores is about to turn 11 months old, and is about 70 cms high last time I measured her. I traced the 74 size because that was probably couple of months ago now! I also added an extra 1 cm to the hem allowance because she tends to grow out of clothes length-ways long before she grows out of them width-ways. 

The thing to remember about Ottobre patterns is that they have hem allowances, facings and waistband turnings included, but not seam allowances. I didn't. I prepped this pattern, this whole one piece of pattern, whilst chatting to Pat and keeping an eye on Dolores, and totally forgot to add the seam allowances. DUHHHHH. I only remembered about the seam allowance after I finished sewing them. Anyway, the fit of this pair actually turned out ok, but I retraced the pattern piece, the one pattern piece, and added the seam allowance for future versions which will therefore hopefully last a bit longer than this one will.  


How good is this jersey fabric?! Not only is the print super cute, but it is also amazing quality. As you probably know if you read this blog often, I tend to either use stash fabric or harvest fabric from unwanted garments for my sewing projects. I do because fabric production and treating is very environmentally damaging, and I try to lower the impact my sewing habit has on the planet a little bit where I can. But this fabric was bought by a friend of mine brand new (as I wrote about here) and I must admit that it felt like a treat to work with and now have in Dolores's wardrobe. She bought it from and although they don't seem to have the same print anymore, there are a lot of other very cute children's print jersey if that's your bag. 


Naturally, as soon as I made these I uncovered an enormous pile of hand-me-down trousers and leggings that I'd stashed away in Dolores's current size. But none as fun as these of course. I'm going to continue to make a load more of these leggings though in the next size up because she is growing at such an alarming rate, she'll probably need them next week. You'll have to wait for a modelled shot of these leggings, however you won't have to wait long because I've decided to use this pattern to take part in this year's OWOP challenge....

I was so pleased to hear that the OWOP is going ahead again! Originally hosted by its creator in 2012, Tilly challenged sewers with a fetish for a particular sewing pattern to wear the garments we'd made from that pattern every day for a week. I took part with Simplicity 2451 skirt pattern and found it a fascinating and fun challenge. It was great to be pushed to find new outfit combinations that incorporated my three versions, but also to see the many versions of others popular patterns that sewers around the globe had made and worn. It's a bit like a mini Me-Made-May, if you will!

This year it is hosted by the super lovely Handmade Jane and will take place from 6th to 12th September. I emailed Jane to check that it was cool to take part with a pattern that wouldn't be worn by myself, and she replied very swiftly to say that she insisted that I took part with this pattern! I can't wait to see what everyone else chooses as their OWOP pattern and to see how they wear them. 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Would-be Denim Sweet Shorts

Here's a project that I've been plugging away at for weeks here and there. It's been a crazy summer, with Pat working mon-fri (and therefore me on mumming-duty), and then me teaching sewing classes most weekend days. Not much time for personal sewing, save for scraps of opportunity when Dolores is taking a nap, when I should probably be taking a nap too! 

Anyways, it's been a really warm summer down here on the South Coast, and I've found that I've worn my navy Ruby shorts heaps, almost continuously some weeks. But seeing as I made those back in 2009 (what?!) and the fabric wasn't amazing quality to begin with, they are starting to look a bit shabby. I felt it would be sewing time well spent to make another pair of shorts that looked good enough to be worn outside the house. 


I've been eyeing up quite a few shorts patterns recently, but finally plumbed for the Sweet shorts pattern by Pattern Runway (pictured above). I've loved every version I've seen and I like that the waistband is curved, rather than made from a straight rectangular pattern piece which I always find uncomfortable after an hour or so of wear. The scalloped hem detail adds a wee bit of interest, the front and back pockets break up an expanse of fabric and the side zip eliminates the need to spend precious time on a fly-front.

I cut the Medium, as per my measurements. The waist should have been half an inch too tight, and seeing as I HATE things to be tight round my waist, I added a tiny bit extra width at the top of the front waistband piece only. I added 1.5 cm to the back rise, which I do as standard before I make any trouser or shorts pattern to accommodate my junk. I also decided to fold out about 2.5 cm (1") from the length as well. And finally, I decided to replace the back welt pockets for simple patch pockets. As much as I like a welt pocket, I couldn't be arsed to make them on this version and felt that a patch pocket would suit my choice of fabric better anyhow. 

Pattern Runway claim that their construction techniques are closer to those used in the garment manufacturing industry, rather than home sewing. I did like using a 1 cm (3/8") seam allowance rather than 1.5 cm (5/8"), which is what I used when I learned to sew at university and therefore feels more natural to me. However, if these shorts came out too small, there'd be very little seam allowance from which to excavate extra width. 

However, these shorts DID NOT come out too small. They came wayyyyyy too big! Which is why I've photographed them on the floor rather than on my own (sweet) ass. My fabric does have a bit of stretch in it, but that does not account for how these have come out at least one size too big. I've checked and I printed out the PDF correctly (not on the 'fit to page' setting). There are only three reviews for this pattern on Pattern, and non of them say anything about this pattern coming up large so it's a mystery. 


The pattern calls for light weight suiting, linen and finer fabrics like that, but I went for some medium weight denim that has been lurking in my stash for I-have-no-idea-how-long. I went with this denim because A) it's in my stash and therefore 'free', B) I love denim shorts because they go with everything, and C) this denim has a little bit of stretch in it and I made a pact with myself to only make trousers and shorts for me with some stretch content for comfort and movement, a pact I may well break for my next version of these shorts. As I say, I don't think the stretch-ability can account for why these came out too big, because when I put them on they are too big before the stretch is even 'engaged', if you see what I mean. That issue aside, the denim may have been a leeeetle bit too stiff for this design, as the legs do stick out a bit, but I was kind of hoping that the shorts would soften after wearing and washing a few times. 

I'm particularly pleased with the interior of this garment. I used some printed organic cotton by Cloud9 Fabrics (you can get more of their fabulous prints via the Village Haberdashery, which are one of my blog sponsors) for the pocket bags and waistband facings. As you know, I rarely (i.e. haven't for years) buy new fabric, but I had scraps of this left over from sampling the Schoolhouse Tunic pattern for Annie, owner of the Village Haberdashery as I am teaching a class to make this in London on 7th September


Hmm, what to do... I discovered that these were too big way after it would have been possible for me to do anything about it without MAJOR unpicking and reworking. Plus I don't think it would have been very successful to refit them because the scallop would have ended up towards the side seams instead of in the centre, plus the side pockets would have all but disappeared. After I realised, I just finished them up and have decided to keep them for when I inevitably put on weight after I stop breast feeding! I'm seeing it as a 'currently-unwearable-toile', but in general I still love this pattern and I'm sure I'll revisit it at some point when the sadness of this outcome has waned. 
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