Sunday, 25 February 2018

Simple Sew, Lottie Blouse

2014 feels like a very long time ago. It was a time of change, I'd started sewing in the summer and my first hospital job in the Autumn. 2015 arrived, my job was in full swing, I'd split up with my long-term boyfriend and I'd made my first ever Lottie Blouse. It was an exciting time in life, before I knew it I had a plethora of Lotties in my wardrobe.

Obviously new challenges took hold, in life and in sewing and Simple Sew's Lottie blouse slipped off my to-sew list. In November I was lucky (? jury's still out...) enough to bag myself a new role at the Hospital. When it came round to Simple Sew bloggers next pattern picks I knew that it was about time I made myself a new Lottie to go with my new job. I was excited to see how my skills had evolved since those early sewing days.

First up, I got my hands on the most up to date version of the pattern. I wasn't sure if there'd been any changes since it originally came free with Love Sewing Magazine (issue 2?). I cut a size 10 which was the same as my previous Lotties as they fit very well. The first thing I noticed about the pattern is that the pattern pieces say 1.5cm seam allowance, but the instructions say 1cm seam allowance for the blouse. I went for the 1.5cm as I assumed that was what I had done last time and the fit was fine. To be honest it's a pretty loose fit anyway so you shouldn't mess it up too bad with an extra cm or two.

The neck binding is a little bit fiddly. The patten piece doesn't actually tell you to cut it on the bias, so a few new to sewing peeps might want to look out for that. Inside the instructions there is a little section on binding where it reminds you to cut the neckband on the bias. It's quite a narrow one, I think for my earlier blouses I made myself a wider band just to make life a little easier. You gotta be careful around the corners and bends of the neckline, but patience pays dividends as it so often does. I love my little keyhole neckline.

She sleeves are designed to be gathered into the armhole, with cute little gathers on the sleeve head. I say cute, they are 100% cute on most people, but I've felt really really conscious of mine on my previous blouses. I decided to take out the gathers, which was going to be a bit of a gamble. I remember my drafting teacher telling me sleeves are usually about 2cm bigger than the arm hole. Well I think she said 2cm? I measured my armhole which was 44.5cm then the sleeve pattern piece. There was an additional 7 cm of fabric in the sleeve, so I needed to take out 5cm. I measured 2.5cm either way from the center then folded these points in to meet in the middle. I then gradually eased out the fold and smushed it down flat. I tentatively cut out one sleeve with my new pattern piece and pinned it to the arm hole. Sleeves generally need the most ease in the back, so I made sure my centre point of my sleeve was a little further back than my shoulder seam, I stitched in and it seemed to go well! No gathers!! I did the same with the second which was also successful. The blouse was a tiny tiny bit tight over my shoulders, but I put this down to choosing the 1.5cm seam allowance instead of 1cm. I could have lived with is but decided to re-sew the sleeve caps at 1cm grading out to my 1.5, then unpick the original stitching at the top. Loads better!

The necktie used to cause me all kinds of problems. The piece is quite long, I think in the past I've gone a little off grain which has resulted in a twisty tie. I was super careful cutting out this time. The chiffony fabric I used has a tendency to shift around a bit, but I did my best to keep it all flat and straight. The problem comes with the instructions telling us to sew from A-C, but there being no A or C marked on the pattern. I kind of guessed that the tie should join the blouse at the curvy bit of the keyhole (even though this would hide so much of my beautiful binding!!), so I measured how much neck I would need to leave open and then stitched my tie right sides together from here. Once you've done this, the pattern implies you just stick this onto your neckline and then hey-presto! You're going to have some raw edges on show though that could be avoided, so I opted to sew one side to the blouse then fold over and hand stitch the other, folding in 1cm to hide raw edges. What do you think? How did anyone else attach their Lottie neck tie?

I did a really lazy narrow hem on both the bottom and sleeves by overlocking then turning under once, but that's okay right?


Location: Lynwood Gardens Sheffield
Currently listening to: End Of The World With You, Calexico

Sunday, 18 February 2018

New Look K6230, Raglan Jumper

It's a go-to pattern. I love this New Look 6230 Raglan jumper pattern. I've made a few variations now, but each time that wide neckline has got on my nerves a bit. I thought I would give it a miss this time, when it's this cold you don't need both yer shoulders out!

This lovely sparkly green fabric was yet more fabric from my leaving prezzie. I found it in Abakhan in their sparkly festive bins downstairs. It's soft to touch, quite thin but is fleecy on the underside.

I wanted to make something casual, and also warm. I know I've made a few New Look raglans before but this time I wanted it to be perfect. No more massive neckline!!

The first thing I did was work out just how much of the neck I wanted to take out. I tried on my first lovely orange raglan and pinched out about 5cms. I then transferred this to my pattern piece, making sure it was only the neckline that I was altering, not the rest of the fit. I took this out of the front piece, and I have always omitted the seam out of the centre back (just why would it need to be there?!).

From there on, it's a pretty easy top to make. I overlocked all seams without stitching on the normal machine first. The fiddliest bit was making a neckband to fit. I think it ended up being about 5cms shorter than the neckline to avoid it gaping or puckering. I kept pinning it on then trying it on until it stretched round perfectly.

I added cuffs. I've done this before, I definitely wanted them on here to avoid it looking too pyjama top-ish. They too were about 5cm shorter than the sleeve circumference. Dead happy with how all my seams lined up! It can be a bit fiddly because the cuff it so small and you have to really get in there and stretch it out to fit.

I had decided from the moment I touched this fabric that I didn't want a hem on it. I wanted it to be really casual to contrast the sparkles, so I wanted to let the bottom just naturally roll where I cut it. The jumper is a little cropped from the original pattern, but still quite modest for me! Hey!

This jumper is super comfy and still love how the pattern lends itself to little tweaks making it different each time. Love the fabric too, muted tone with sparkles. What more could you ask for?


Location: Brown Lane/Charles Street, Sheffield Hallam area
Currently listening to: Alone Together, Nabihah Iqbal

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Self-Drafted Sports Top

I started boxing in May last year when I was sick to death of feeling so angry all the time. 8 months later I'm still at it having only missed a handful of sessions. I'm still angry, but I'm also a little tougher, so I guess that's something. #Sassy, #spooky and #sexy were last year's buzzwords, so maybe for 2018 I'll throw #Sporty and #Safe into the mix as I try and continue to learn how to look after myself.

Self-made gym gear is something I've been seeing a lot of on Insta recently. I didn't want to miss out so I tried my hand at my first gym top.

If self-drafted is code for rip off then we'll go with that. This top was an example of having a ready to wear garment that you love so much you just gotta have another. I found this light stretchy houndstooth fabric downstairs in Abakhan. To touch it reminded me very much of my Adidas vest that I wear boxing. Obviously as it was houndstooth I couldn't say no. The plan was to trace my Adidas top and make another.

Drawing round the top was easy. It's a very loose fit vest with no darts or shaping. In fact even the side seams are just straight lines. The back is longer than the front by a couple of cms and there are slits in the side, about 10cm up from the bottom. The head hole is close around the neck and the arm holes are just bound. After drawing round the top I added 1.5cm for any seam allowances and folded the shoulders of the pattern paper round to make sure the seams would match up.

The only real difference between the front and back pieces were the back being longer and the neckline being a little higher. I scooped a little more out of the back armholes too because it felt like a good idea.

Instead of turning in binding on the arm holes like the ready to wear version I cut some strips of fabric to add as bands. The hardest part was getting these the right length so then didn't either pucker or sag. After playing about for a bit I worked out they needed to be about 5cm shorter than the armhole. The fabric is very stretchy, if it had less stretch they would maybe only have needed to be a couple of cms shorter.

The neckband was put on in a similar fashion, then overlocked round, matching up the mid-points on neckline and neckband by stretching out the neckband a little to fit.

The hem was overlocked then turned up 1.5cm and stitched down with twin needle.

The top is exactly what I wanted, light and loose and perfect for sports. Hope Adidas don't come and sue!


Location: Mount Pleasant Ball Courts*, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Faces, The Wands

*Ps, Great paint job on the ballcourts by the Brick Gallery crew!

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Velvet Self-Drafted Gemma Skirt

Next from my Abakhan haul is this velvet version of my Gemma Skirt .

I was drawn to the sparkly box in Abakhan full of left-over festive bits. I dug out a few bits I had no idea what I was going to do with, but also this plain black velvet that I knew would make a sweet circle skirt without too much effort.

I made the skirt in a few hours. The four panels are all equal, and the waistband is one piece folded over some elastic of the same length.

This was my first project I'd used a walking foot on... Wow! I've been making life difficult for myself without one! No fabric stretching or anything. Love it.

Mmmm! Lovely velvet!

Knowing this skirt would be a quick make, I think I was guilty of rushing it a little. I initially cut the elastic a smidge too short and it just felt a little too tight around me. I made a little makeshift elastic panel to make it a tiny bit longer. It worked but could have done without the faff. If anything it could be a tiny bit too long now, though that's just preference, I don't think anyone would notice. I also couldn't remember if last time my elastic was exactly the same length as the waistband material. Turns out yes, it should be!! My elastic was a little shorter this time, which doesn't make a difference to fit or anything really as both are stretchy, but does leave a bit too much room for the elastic to do what it wants. When pulling the skirt on it does have a tendency to flip round inside the velvet. I think this is partly because the back of the velvet is so slippy and also my overlocking of band to skirt could have been a little closer to the elastic.

I cut about an inch off the bottom compared to my Autumn version... Spring will be on the way soon.


Location: Devonshire Quarter, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Feel Alright, L.A. Witch

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Butterick B6423, Lisette Coat

I get cold. Colder than I ever used to, so when I spotted Love Sewing's recent cover pattern was this Lisette coat I really wanted to have a go. The lovely folk on Day Case at the hospital chipped in for my leaving prezzie and I spent my dollar in Abakhan. This speckley wool blend was in the shash bins downstairs, for about £16 I bought three meters (I'll show you what I spenT the rest on in posts to come!!). Just what I needed now I don't have those lovely folk so close at hand to keep my heart warm. Thanks guys.

The only other things you'll need are some lining and some interfacing and a big button for the front. I discovered Hillsborough Fabrics big stash of satin for the lining. I was tempted to go for a light pink or perhaps a gold, but after much thought I went for a more understated charcoal. Hey it's one step more exciting than black.

I followed the cutting lay out, but with a bit of re-jigging I freed up quite a bit of fabric and have an off-cut definitely suitable for something else, maybe an office skirt for my new job? There's lining left too so doesn't seem like a bad shout.

The fun thing about this coat pattern is the multiple panels give you chance to play around with some different fabrics. I did buy some black wool with the intention of having a go but was worried it would mess with the hang of the fabric if it wasn't quite weighted right. I'd like to have a play with some fur or sheepskin for a collar sometime this year.

I'd urge you not to skip interfacing, as that collar really benefits from added structure. In fact if I made another I would be tempted to interface the whole front panel too. I would advise adding interfacing to the pocket seams (top and bottom) to keep them in shape, and also maybe the cuffs and bottom hem just for strength (though guilty, I didn't interface these).

Sewing up is fun!! Loved watching the pockets come to life with those princess seams. The trickiest bit is probably faffing about with that collar. It can be a bit hard to get those angles right where the collar joins at the neck, though it looks fab when it goes from fabric to lining when you nailed it!!

Don't underestimate the importance of all the dots and notches, though I lost some of my notches as my fabric started to fray, aghh! I overlocked a few bits as I went along to try and prevent disintegration, but as the coat is fully lined you can get away without an overlocker if you don't play too rough ;)

A lot of online reviews have mentioned that the sleeves are too long. I can't disagree, I cut 2 inches off of the length and think I turned them in a little more than I should have too. Not sure whose arms are quite that long! But it was really easy to save, just make sure you do the same to the lining fabric and it's no drama.

The other thing that keeps cropping up online about this pattern... 'WTF is step 36?' Ha! I've no idea! No one knows, apparently even Lisette doesn't know! It's something to do with hemming and the pleat, then there's this cryptic image. Anyone seen similar? I skipped it and my coat hasn't fallen apart, would still love to know though.

The pleat and hems are all hand stitched, I was surprisingly pleased with my efforts. The satin lining looks so swish!! It doesn't suggest it in the instructions but I would recommend stitching the centre backs of the collar together by stitching in the seam ditch. This will stop the under collar from rolling out when you've got it on.

I ummed and ahhed about how to fasten the front. The lovely House of Pinheiro had used some funky bag clasps to fasten hers, but I struck lucky when I rifled through my Gran's old button bag and found these chunky buttons. I went for two because one looked a little lonely. So glad I can have a piece of her on on coat, I hope it would make her proud.

The pattern is super fun to make, it's very exciting when it all starts to take shape. I would prefer maybe a little less fabric in the top sleeves, but will be great for layering up. And lots of layering up there will be, I have SO much on my to-sew list this year!!

Can't wait to get cracking with more fabric from my last Abakhan haul!


Location: Victoria Quays, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Dead In The Water, Calexico