Made by Me!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit Sew-Along

It seems there are loads of wonderful sew-alongs happening at the moment and when one of my favourite pattern makers, By Hand London, said they were starting one this week I had to jump on board and have a go! I had already bought the pattern whilst having a difficult day at always makes me feel better to do some retail therapy in times of stress....and I have a LOT of patterns and pieces of fabric making piles in my front room as a consequence! Time to reduce the stash! Are you going to get involved too? Click on the image below and it will take you straight there. Best thing is it starts tomorrow!!

Holly Sew-Along

I have two fabrics in mind. The first is a batik fabric I found whilst browsing the web on the way to work. It is a quilters weight cotton and it features a leaf design and is in lovely autumnal colours; burnt oranges, reds and browns. I cant quite decide if it will be a little overwhelming as a jumpsuit...but every time I look at it I think its rather lovely. Its a fabric from Moda by Laundry Basket Quilts and it's a jelly bean batik fabric - moss fruity... so I guess its not actually a leaf then! 

The next one I love too, maybe mostly because its called 'Gnome Pants'! How cute is that!!? It's a cotton lawn from a collection by Rashida Coleman-Hale. I can see it being a little more versatile colour wise in the winter than the batik one but I also have been mulling over using it on the wrap dress from Gertie's book 'Gertie Sews Vintage Casual'. Plus maybe it will be too thin for purpose....Its sooo hard to make decisions! Which one would you go for??

It would be great to know if anyone else has made up the Holly yet? Did you find it a pleasure to sew? What variation did you go for and what fabric? I have seen some versions from the pattern testers in denim from the Closet Case Files and a punchy lip print from Rachel at House of Pinheiro which are both beautiful. In fact I was thinking of doing the variation Rachel has done as I want sleeves not a cowl neck. Would be great to get some inspiration from you too!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual - my new sewing purchase!

Very excited to receive my new sewing purchase from Amazon yesterday, 'Gertie Sews Vintage Casual'. I had pre-ordered it a month ago and totally forgot about it so it was a lovely surprise to break up a boring work day. And as I was working from home no-one saw me taking an extended break to browse through its pages and pick out a few pattern favourites. I always get so excited about buying things like this...even if I don't actually make much from these books buying them is a bit of an addiction and I have to admit to getting a little high from it!

I loved her last book although I have to admit I didn't make up loads of items from it. I love the idea of being able to mix elements of vintage style into my everyday wardrobe and this book is probably more accessible for me than her last one just because it showcases more relaxed clothing that I can imagine wearing on a daily basis. More of the items in her last book were a little too clingy and formal or dressy for me to want to make as I know I won't wear them, and sadly probably won't have a suitable occasion to wear them to. I remember when I was younger my friends and I would dress up every Friday and Saturday night, we would make almost a ritual out of it, but now I pull on a pair of jeans or a casual dress and don't make the uber effort of coaxing and preening myself. Plus I actually cant stand wearing tight clothes now, I realise this after making some of the items on this blog. Whilst I like the look of them and imagine how glamorous and girly I may feel wearing them they inevitably feel constrictive and uncomfortable and I look stiff and awkward in them. With this in mind I anticipated that I would find much more in this book that would suit my everyday mood.

I split the book between the items I love and the ones I really don't! I don't know know whether anyone else has this book yet but it would be interesting to know what you think of the patterns in here.

Firstly this is probably my favourite pattern - its a trouser suit made from combining the top of a wrap dress and a pair of wide leg trousers both of which I show below. Its really pretty, very simple and there is something quite elegant about it. I am really into my pant suits right now and this may well make it into the wardrobe sometime soon.

This is the wrap dress the top of this pant suit comes from. I couldn't decide if it was frumpy or cute but I think after deliberation I really like it and if made in wintry hues would work well with tights and boots.

These are the wide leg trousers. Now I have realised I rather like a high waisted trouser and I can see myself making these beauties. They look simple and elegant and possibly a good thing for an evening out or the office. Definitely up for trying these out sometime soon.

I really like this shift dress although I really don't think I would ever wear it, even if I lengthened it a little it still comes under the too clingy for me category.

The variation swing top made from the original design is cute though and I would love to have a go at it.

I am a little disappointed with the amount of items I really don't like in the book. I think there is a lot in here which isn't that special or particularly interesting. There is a  flared skirt we've all seen before from one company or another and a full skirt variation (shown below) that is nice but the only real difference is its made with quilted fabric. It feels like a filler and is the kind of skirt you can get a pattern for free off the Internet or just make your own.

There are also some ghastly fabric choices and really frumpy looking things in here. Both the patterns below come under this category for me. I think the jacket would have been so much nicer in something else other than this horrible  black and white check fabric. And the shirt is too boxy and I think something a much older lady would wear. It certainly doesn't do Gertie any justice.

Some of the facial expressions Gertie pulls in the images make her look as though she really isn't sure about whats she's wearing, which just makes the frumpy ones stand out a little more. This is possibly the outfit I dislike the most, flared shorts with the checked shirt above. And honestly I don't think Gertie looks too happy with it either...the expression on her face is a little pained...!

Overall there is more to like than dislike in this book but there isn't any wow factor to it really, well not from my point of view anyway. There are some nice knits and a few nice variations on main patterns. I do like that she takes the time to show you how to develop and adapt something from the original design but it would be nice to see something a little more challenging. The plus points are that it has a large reference section which is also really useful, covering everything from simple stitches to getting the fit right, I love the layout and I like the ring bound work book feel to this pattern book. It just feels a bit lack lustre to me unfortunately. What do you think?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

My Myrtle...well almost...

So its well over a week past the deadline for the sew-a-long but here she is.... my stripey nautical Myrtle. Before I go off into the experience of taking part in my first sew-a-long and through the lessons learnt from my first proper foray into the world of jersey I have to ask....can you see my blatant error ladies and gentleman?!!

Oh my gosh my heart sank when I pulled the dress on to realise my mistake...the skirt is so blatantly back to blooming front!! Now I could have unpicked the lot but I had already serged the seams and inserted the elastic and frankly I couldn't be bothered! Now I have to say I am a firm believer in embracing your mistakes otherwise it will get you down. And I was ill when I made it so I didn't have the energy to weep - however I really should learn just to down tools when I am ill because it makes me knackered and unfocused. However, I tried it on and asked my boyfriend what he thought of it and his response was 'ooh I really like that on you'. The moral of the story being I guess it looks wonderful anyway (he is a boy though so not sure if it counts - he probably wouldn't notice if it was inside out!!). And anyway unless you sew how you gonna know it wasn't a design idea!! Haha!

So on to the actual pattern. If you can forget the huge mistake that is the skirt, this was such a learning curve for me as I am really not used to using jersey at all. It was a relatively quick dress to make and now I feel more confident with jersey I could probably make it up in a day but I think it was the cutting out that took the longest. I think I had a good plan for this part of the process, cutting out the pieces and trying to align the stripes with careful pattern placement, it paid off for the majority and I am happy that most of my stripes match. Alas it wasn't the case all the way through the garment making process. Let me introduce my 'yay' and 'boo' side!

One is perfect and the other falls so short! Actually the 'boo' side was the first side I sewed up and I did try to match the stripes but the fabric was a slippery devil. Its at this point I realised its easier to sew the fabric in place just inside the seam allowance all pinned together then you can serge it easily afterwards. On that first side I got kind of jittery with the serger and lost my nerve I think. The solution seems obvious I know but it made all the difference to the rest of the garment which I think looks pretty good.

I liked using the twin needle, it looks great on hems and I think the inside of the garment with serged edges and twin hemmed facings makes it look really professional. I also love the way the armholes on this dress look when you sew the bodice and turn it out. The only thing I would change about this pattern is the back width. I assumed wrongly that the loops would pull it in slightly when done up but it's not the case. It doesn't gape badly but it could have been better.

I would probably make the longer version next time and I will have a go at it again next summer. It is really the wrong time to have made this dress here as its not so sunny anymore. Well it rained for two weeks and now I am in autumn mode and I find it hard to switch back once I have started wearing more wintry clothes!

The sew-a-long experience was an interesting way of doing it. It was nice to see how the project was put together. The bodice was a little tricksy to understand and the pictures helped enormously. I am much better at understanding things when I can see them rather than trying to figure it out through words and sometimes patterns make little sense! There was some confusing multi-layered fabric shenanigans in the bodice area which with my ill brain was all a little too much...Got there in the end though and it really want too difficult. The only thing the instructor did which I thought was harder than it needed to be was the insertion of the elastic. She sewed the elastic together and then sewed the flap down to contain it. But that was a fiddle and didn't compute in my mind so I sewed the elastic casing and then inserted the elastic. It seems other people found this to be the easier option too. Why make things harder for yourself than necessary!

I liked the ability to ask questions and to see feedback from the instructor. It was also a great way to pace yourself instead of feeling you had to do it that night, staying up bleary eyed to get it many times have we all done that? It was lovely seeing everyone's finished Myrtles all in one go as well and although I didn't finish in time and I doubt I will add my version to the Myrtle gallery (it's a version now not a mistake!) I am very happy I made it.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Finally... the unveiling of the Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 1371 trousers

Since my last post I had been planning to photograph and put up the finished Cynthia Rowley Simplicity trousers 1371, but as you can see I have failed abysmally. I was making my way out a couple of Saturday's ago to my friends lovely engagement drinks and I had the outfit ready to go and I decided I would take photos before leaving the house - thereby making myself look better than most pictures of me on this site because I would have somehow looked more presentable. I was feeling quite proud, I had made myself something nice to wear and its first outing would coincide with a special occasion. I had only tried the trousers on with my chosen top the day before but come Saturday night, just as I was all calm and quite unusually ready for once with time to spare, the zip decided it wouldn't budge. I wrestled with it for a good twenty minutes. You know the way...if you wiggle it in a certain fashion or think that if you take it unawares it may just suddenly come unstuck. Well even after unpicking part of the waistband, peering at it from all different directions and then thinking some thread must be jammed in the zip (which is wasn't) I had to concede defeat and wear something altogether not as exciting. When it came down to it the whole evening was a bit of a disaster. As I ran out the door well over an hour late I got to the station to realise that no trains were running, waited an hour at the bus stop where two rail replacement buses sailed past me too full to stop and then I went home feeling frustrated and annoyed having to let my friend down. I should have listened to the zip on my trousers and not attempted to leave home in the first place!

The most frustrating thing was unpicking the zip from that fabric. What a nightmare!! Double gauze is full of loosely bound threads. If you try and unpick one stitch its really, really easy to nick one of the fibres in the fabric and put a hole in it. I didn't attempt the unpicking process on that Saturday, I did it when I didn't want to be angry at the trousers anymore. Nothing like frustration to make something much worse than it needs to be. When I did do it they then laid zip-less on my floor until I had a moment to get to the sewing shop to get another zip to replace it. I tried opening and closing the replacement several times to be sure....and it seemed to be ok. So far so good anyway.Then I came down with the dreaded tonsillitis and I have been laid up all week feeling rubbish. But more of that in another post, one where I detail how not to sew when you are exhausted and ill!!!

So after a long introduction here they are. I really love them! And a note about the shoes, they don't really go but I needed height... I think maybe a chunkier heel... Have to go shopping I guess...!!

Now I had to make some alterations. I took a lot off the bottom of the leg. I am short in the leg but I did take off about 6 inches in the end. I think these were made for model giants, or maybe normal people have long legs. I also found the leg width too big so took it in from the hip down, again taking an inch or so off each leg. I like to have my trousers grazing my ankle and they looked too flappy as they were before I took them in. I do have very skinny legs, not hips, just the legs so they can look like match sticks poking out the end of the trouser leg if I'm not careful.

I finished the inside with a french seam, I thought about serging the whole thing but I wanted something that looked a little classier and I am glad I did it. The only thing I ended up serging were the pockets as I really haven't worked out how to do a good french seam on a pocket. Must look up tutorials on that one soon. Anyone else have a clue how to do it?! The hems are hand sewn and  pressed. The only other thing I changed was moving the zip to the back to avoid it going wrinkly on the side seam.

The first thing you notice when making these trousers is that the crotch level looks really, really low. It looks low when you hold it up in front of you and I did think on several occasions that I must have cut out the wrong size. But as it turns out the trousers are just very high waisted. When you have them on they transform into something else entirely but I did have my reservations about them. I think they would look really cute with a crop top - or the one that comes with the pattern but I don't do crop tops anymore.

I really like the fabric as its soft and comfortable to wear and in general quite easy to work with. The cutting out was a pain as it does move around but if you take your time you can get good results. I hope you like them. Anyone else tried to make these trousers? Love to see other versions.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Coming back from my sewing wasteland

Its been a bit of a sewing wasteland for me over these last few weeks as work and illness have got in the way. I finally feel like I have some head space to get back into it which is fabulous. Its been frustrating not having the energy to start a new project with any gusto.

I have finished my simplicity trousers and will post these up very soon - they do look rather lovely I think - but I have been woefully late in trying to get the Myrtle dress finished in time for the sew a long finale. I have managed to cut out my fabric - which took an enormous amount of time as doing it in a small flat on the carpet is not ideal. Jersey sticks to carpet and pulls it slightly which isn't ideal. I also chose stripey jersey as my fabric and I am pretty sure I have made some mistakes in the placement of those pattern pieces but only time will tell. I plan that my Sunday this weekend is going to be all about sewing that Myrtle up. I have read through all the sew a long blog posts and it doesn't look too daunting. Its my first foray into jersey sewing for a very long time so it will definitely be a test. I really should have chosen a lovely plain fabric!!

Whilst I haven't had time to actually sew it hasn't meant I haven't had time to dream up my next run of sewing projects. It is getting a little colder here in London and I have realised my winter wardrobe is most definitely lacking. I need new everything from jumpers, trousers, shoes and most importantly a winter coat. I don't imagine I will have the time to sew everything up for myself but I wanted to have a go at the key pieces this year. There are a couple of patterns I have got excited about and they will be my next challenge.

The first is this lovely looking coat pattern by Gertie for Butterick. Its exactly the type of coat I am looking for as a staple coat for the season and I think its a really cute shape. I love her vintage inspired patterns and think you can do a lot with this one. The checked version on the front is pretty abysmal but the purple one is divine. It looks super classy.

I am slightly nervous about making a coat for the first time but this one is labelled as easy so it shouldn't be too difficult and as there are no closures it makes it much less daunting! I just need to chose the fabric and cannot quite decide the colour scheme. I am thinking of either a double grey with lighter grey on the main coat and darker grey on the collar and tie or a bright full on colour like teal or pink - pink seems very in right now although I am not sure yet whether it will clash completely with my hair! I think I want a boucle fabric as well but I want to invest in something that will keep me warm and not fall apart instantly so I have to go on a fabric hunt for that one in town. I am not sure if a heavier weight fabric would be good for this but I was also thinking about a wool or tweed. The one thing that may sway my fabric colour chose is that I did manage to buy a couple of lovely scarves from Zara which are beautiful, feature lovely autumnal colours and are HUGE!! I really want to be able to wear them with something other than my leather jacket so I must try and colour co-ordinate.

The other pattern I have bought is for a jumper made out of fleece backed or looped back jersey. Its from a new company - well new to me anyway - called Capital Chic Patterns. She has named all her items after cocktails which I just love and the jumper I want to sew up is a White Russian. It's a very simple raglan design but has templates to do some quilting on the front which are super cute. I have downloaded the pdf file, ordered the fabric and now am deciding between the lion or the fox motifs...Which one is the cutest in your opinion?

I like the fact its pretty versatile and you can do a lot with it. I hope mine turns out as nicely as hers.

She has a few other lovely patterns on her site but my other favourite by far is the Martini - she describes it as a cocktail dress with a twist. I have yet to buy it but I have a wedding coming up on New Years Eve and I might just have to give a go for that. It is in the very fashionable shape of a crop top and high waisted skirt but without the need to flash your belly. Wonderful!

Finally I have been spending my time ogling a new sewing magazine called 'Love Sewing'. 

A lot of these sewing magazines are full of really fuddy duddy old fashioned stuff or articles on items to sew up that are a little dull to me but this has a nice mixture and a focus on the types of sewing patterns I would sew up and is good for total beginners to advanced. And as a bonus they give freebies out every month. Whats not to love!!

Right must get on with finally photographing my trousers so I can post those up tomorrow. Happy sewing everyone!