Saturday, 30 May 2015

Aster and sutton blouse

2 blouses to blog about, one of which is brand new and the other I made towards the end of last year.

This first one is the new Colette Aster blouse. I really liked this as soon as it popped into my inbox. I really appreciate the different sleeve options and also the semi fitted shape and collarless neck. In many ways it reminds me of the T&B Mimi blouse from 'Love at first stitch' and I have made and really like the fit of that pattern too, but this is a touch more minimal and less fussy I guess with the elimination of the front gathers. Both patterns are very flattering and easy to wear, so I wouldn't say I prefer one over the other in that respect, but I do prefer minimal fuss so, for me, the Aster will be more of a go to pattern.

I made up the flutter sleeve, but in a not so flowy fabric. I new that the fabric wouldn't have the correct drape before embarking, but like the idea of the wide silhouette on the sleeve.

Fit wise, this is pretty spot on! I made a straight US 8 with no alterations and I'm pretty happy. Bust darts are in the right place, no gaping top edge, good space at the hips...need I go on? I could probably do some kind of sway back adjustment, but truthfully those wrinkles at the base of my spine never really bother me that much!

The fabric I used is a vintage cotton sheet, dyed a very, very, very subtle (look very closely) pink. I saved some avocado pits to dye it naturally, but don't think I did everything 100% percent correct, so ended up with paler tan I wanted, but pretty pink. For some super duper natural dye inspiration, visit Nicki's blog. She's producing some amazing colours with the materials she's foraged for.

I also printed my grassy design on some of the fabric I dyed in this limey green colour. All the inks are solvent free and environmentally friendly adding to the green credentials of this garment.

Top tip if you hate sewing button holes is that this top slips on with non-functioning buttons. I (the super lazy) sewed buttons on to close the placket, but omitted the holes.

I faced the inside neck edge with a pretty velvet ribbon instead of the suggested binding. I constructed the yoke so that all seams are enclosed and the front neck edge is straight, so could take a rigid ribbon edge without distorting it.

So, the verdict is that I am pretty pleased to have added this pattern to my collection. I can see it being made up in all sorts of fabrics and I am thinking I shall probably extend it to a dress for my next version. It's got a touch of the darling ranges or the Alder about it when you think of adding length. I also want patch pockets on it at some point, so much potential it's making my head whir a little.

Just one little gripe about Colette patterns (apart from the amount of pages to print for their PDF patterns) is the absence of a centre front marking. Not really a big deal on this pattern, but it's also missing from the Albion coat pattern (the only other Colette pattern I've used) and it annoys me much more than is healthy. Please add them into future patterns!

Finally, here's a picture of my new shirt/blouse hanging in the window, because it looks so pretty!

Not quite finished actually, sorry!
The True Bias Sutton blouse was another pattern I bought not long after release (I like to take advantage of introductory discounts) and I made it up not long after. I rather confidently cut three at once, but only finished this one and got distracted by other things. I have tried wearing it several times, but have never been sure about it on me.
One of the great things about being May and more importantly me-made-May, is that you try out the things that previously didn't quite work and I'm questioning myself entirely with this top. I was wearing it tucked into my turquoise Evan skirt this morning and then put it on with these jeans after taking photos of the Aster blouse and have had a complete change of heart. The neckline is maybe not the best on me (I feel a bit blocky looking on the shoulders)and I should probably have gone a size bigger on the hips, but it's actually quite nice! Do you ever change your mind about the things you've made after giving yourself some distance?

Printing obsessed! I printed little arrows from a self-made stamp when I made this back in November or December time.

If I made this again there are tweaks I would make to the construction. For this version I cut two yolk pieces to finish the back neckline nicely and enclose the shoulder seams and back seam joining the yoke. I would definitely do this again, as to me this is much more logical. It does mean finishing the front neck edge first and sewing up the centre front seam, but eliminates the need for bias binding on the neckline. I'm not a big fan of bias bound neck edges, but a lot of people seem to prefer them!
I am definitely adding this top into my wardrobe and will probably wear it quite a lot now, which is brilliant (new top, woohoo), but am unsure if I will make it again. You win some you lose some I guess and sometimes a style just doesn't suit your body shape!
Bye for now and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

making bras

Yep, this is one of those current sewing crazes that seems to be gripping the sewing world and I have fallen into the abyss that is bra making.

My reasons are simple. I have not been feeling quite myself since having children. I'm almost there, but something wasn't quite right. Oh yeah, it's because I've been wearing the same nursing bras for(what seems like)ever!!! It's just far too easy for me to wear the same comfy bras day in and day out, but I've recently come to realise that they are not helping me feel good about myself, nor do they even fit very well any more. It was a slow realisation, but I have only had two choices for what to put on each day, light comfy or dark comfy. Not very confidence boosting. I have made a few bras in the last week or so using different patterns, which I thought I would share with you for comparison.

Madalynne released a free pattern recently, which I suppose was the catalyst for this journey. It is a very simple shape and is really only suitable for small busts, but it is a great introduction to the process of bra making. Now, I did not follow the pattern exactly as the idea of the back straps, although attractive, did not seem easy to get in and out of. I know that's probably not the case, but I want easy and fast for getting dressed in the mornings. I simply made an upper back pattern piece and reduced the height of the back bottom band so that it was level with the front bottom band. I have worn this around and it offers me enough support and is comfy for everyday wear. It was also easy to put together and looks pretty, hence I will be making several more of these babies!

I think for my next one I will leave off the bottom band and just make it up as a bralet thingy (this is just tucked up to give you an idea).

Next I turned to a book I bought earlier in the year 'the secrets of sewing lingerie'. I have been lucky enough to meet and become friendly with one of the authors of the book, Laura and knowing her vast experience in the lingerie design industry had every confidence in the patterns provided. There are so many patterns that I want to try out in this book, but started with the 'sugar darlin' sweetheart' bra. It is a shape similar to what I am used to wearing and is really interesting to put together.

Believe me when I say that this is a wearable muslin. I've used pretty scraps, as I wanted to enjoy making it and wanted to go through the whole process from start to finish with the correct elastics and trimmings, but I have plans for more of these and have gathered knowledge on how I can improve my technique from this project.

The book (if you haven't seen it) is full of beautifully photographed garments on fine fabrics and lace, but I wondered if that may seem a bit intimidating for a beginner, so I'm here to tell you not to panic. I do not enjoy sewing fine fabrics too much, so have used a liberty lawn instead and the back wings, which are trimmed with lace in the book are simply bound with fold over elastic on mine. You can make the garments as fine or as basic as you like, it's just a case of how you interpret the projects.

I was using a very small scrap of fabric here, so didn't have enough to finish the back wings and had to improvise a bit by adding in some extensions. Not brilliant, but functional!

I have worn this around for the day and it is perfect. The fit is spot on and I really want to make a complete set with matching knickers. That will need to be a whole new fabric, as I completely ran out of this. Although only a toile, it's the prettiest bra I've worn for years!!! I don't feel I can talk about this pattern or the book in enough detail in this post, so I am going to talk about it some more at a later date!

Next up, I referred back to a pattern I drafted for myself a couple of years ago. It is not too dissimilar to the long line bra in 'the secrets of sewing lingerie' if you wanted to source something similar!
I made a few mods to the upper cup, as the first one I made is a bit vintage boulder holder and sits too close to my underarm for comfort. I lowered the underarm area, but also the centre front neckline a touch. I am going to lower it more again for the next one for a slightly more feminine look, but this pattern is a personal one and can be ever evolving.

Fabric/trim wise this is my favourite combination. Because I know this pattern really well, I knew I was always going to be happy with the outcome, so used my favourite scrunch dyed blue silk and some yellow elastic. I was concerned the shantung silk may be a bit too stiff and scratchy, but it's completely the opposite and so luxurious.


I struggled with sourcing a yellow clasp, so used this pretty lilac one instead which adds a nice contrast. This is the most 'me' on terms of colours and fabrics and feels quite modern and fresh, so I might try some of these tones and textures on the above sugar darin' bra next.

Look at the lovely blue cotton lawn lining!!! I didn't have any yellow bottom band elastic, so encased the elastic I did have and trimmed the top edge with my yellow picot edge elastic.

This process has been so much fun and I feel like I've already learnt so much. I have loads more to learn and may run through one from start to finish to show you the steps and the where all the different elastics go. I have found the idea of bras a bit daunting and getting all the right components, but actually once you get down to it you can improvise in the same way that you can with any sewing. It's just about building your confidence and exploring techniques.
Although saying that, this is not my fiiiirst foray into making undergarments. I did make this little number in uni. It is my mock up version of the 'Jean Paul Gaultier/Madonna' corset. I tried to keep as true to the original as possible, but the cups are a little flat!!!! (please excuses the strange marks, it has been packed away for years and seems to have gotten a bit grubby).

FYI - I was asked if I was going to turn my bra into a pattern and the simple answer is no. There is so much to know in terms of fit and technical information regarding the correct amount of support for different cup sizes that I am not even going to attempt it. It is a specialised area that I do not know much about and there are some great patterns already out there anyway.

Monday, 25 May 2015

hand printed 'named' bly overalls

Hello there! Long time no write, but I have not had much to write about lately having been parted from my sewing machine for one reason or another. I'm back with a bang though and have just made something that I can't wait to tell you about!

I was contacted by 'my fabrics' a while ago and after some deliberation took them up on their offer of free fabric. I went for this linen with the intention of printing on it and making something to wear over the summer. I screen printed it with a grassy design and was fully geared up to try out some Turia dungarees, but changed my mind at the last minute when I was reminded of the Bly overalls by 'Named'. I have bought both patterns and hope to make the Turias at some point, but for now the Bly overalls just seem much more me. I can't pinpoint it exactly, but this pattern excites me so much.

The details are so cute! I love the button front placket (even though I messed up my button hole placement a bit) and the straps are really flattering the way they come round close together at the front and are tapered to be wider at this point.

The back is equally flattering with the low trouser waistband and long straps. Something that bothers me about the Turias how much the back straps cover the back. I like the curves of my back to be on show in a garment that could otherwise look quite frumpy on my shape.


The front pockets are super sleek too and so easy to construct without any topstitching.

As far as fit goes, these are totally spot on! I have made the Named Wyome jeans with a lot less success in the sizing department, so decided to size up to a UK16 for these. I measured the largest part of my thighs and went with this for my hip measurement. My thighs are a good couple of inches bigger than my hips.

I have mentioned this time and again before, but I do not follow instructions. I just can't do it! I much prefer to look at the puzzle before me and work out how I'm going to put it all together and these did go together really well.

Let me tell you about some of my favourite bits that make me smile.

These buttons are a recent find. I don't normally buy new buttons for projects, preferring to raid my vintage stash, but when I happened upon Textile Garden recently I went of piste and ordered a few sets of buttons these being one of the sets. I had just enough for these overalls (one less than stated in the pattern) and they are a perfect match.

I also had a play at hand painting some of the scraps of fabric which I then used for the bib lining pieces and waistband facing.

Love this bit!

A dinosaur for my sons benefit!

Back to the fabric. The linen fabric is probably what I would call a medium weight and perfect for this kind of thing or a jacket, but maybe too heavy for a summer dress. It printed really well and evenly and was a dream to sew. It obviously creases easily, as any linen does, but I kind of like that for a relaxed feel.

The sewing pattern I used is amazing and I hope to make at least one more pair in a light denim. I'm just really surprised that this has not already caught the attention of the blogosphere, as it's adorable!!! I haven't been able to find any images of these made up anywhere else other than on raystitch's Instagram feed.

Next up is to make this top from the 'casual sweet clothes book' in some black silk jersey from the Cloth House mega sale recently. I made it last year in a linen fabric, but am dying to make it in a more drapey fabric. I think the fluttery sleeves would look spectacular with the overalls.

Anyway, that's me out of my mega sewing rut. Who else is going to try this pattern out???
P.S. I do still love the Turia's and will make them up soon, but maybe with a low waistband at the back and long straps like these ;-)