Sunday, 28 November 2021

Simplicity 1370, Suede Mini Skirt

10 different outfits for the 10 different house viewings I attended before I finally fell in love with the house that became mine. 
It started simple, wear a different me-made shirt for each viewing to ascertain which shirt was indeed my ‘lucky’ shirt, and once that became clear, said lucky shirt would accompany me on all tasks and trips that required me to have a little extra swish and a little extra clip in my heels.

After about viewing number 7 I realised I was going to have to bring out the big guns. In the process of finding my lucky shirt and my dream home, what I actually seemed to discover was a load of unlucky shirts; some damp bathrooms, some spooky neighbours, some suspect rendering and a spider with legs longer than mine. I needed more than just a lucky shirt, so that’s when the suede skirt came into action.

I’d bought the suede on a gloriously sunny day of freedom, on a solo trip to Matlock. It must have been the hottest day of the year – fond memories of honeycomb flavoured ice cream, suncream and sunglasses- the tan line across my midriff from my crop top that day still faintly shows now, despite the autumn leaves turning to mush on the ground. I took a deep breath that day and felt summer fill my body.

What didn’t scream summer to me though was the burgundy suede I found at the Identity Store leather sale. Imagining the sweat dripping down the small of my back where my leather waistband would meet my skin made me feel a bit anxious, so it was no surprise I waited a month or so before unrolling the suede on the studio floor and having a look just how mini the mini skirt would have to be.

The pattern I used (Simplicity 1370) was a safe bet really. I had used it to make my skort so I could already anticipate the depth of the waistband and where exactly I was going to have to take the pattern in. I did make a toile as I had no intention of slicing through my Matlock booty without a tester. I found the zip could do with being about 1 inch longer to accommodate my er... booty, but when it came to it the shop didn’t have a burgundy invisible zipper in the length I needed so I opted for the length the pattern suggested, and vowed to cut down on the honeycomb ice cream.

I thought I was going to have to use a different fabric for the waistband lining but with some clever manoeuvring of my pattern pieces I just about managed to get the skirt to fit my fabric. I found a perfect match lining fabric at Hillsborough with a slight iridescence to it. There are no instructions in the pattern for adding a lining, but I did it in the simplest way possible – cutting the same skirt piece, making the darts into pleats or little ‘tucks’ at the raw edge to allow for a bit more wiggle room, attaching to the waistband facing and then it came to the zipper, turning wrongside out then stitching close to the zip teeth with a zip foot attachment.

As the suede was so thick, I did not add any stitch in the ditch around the waistband and the lining just seems to sit sweetly where it needs to. I thought the bulk was going to cause a few problems at the intersecting seams by the zipper.. It didn’t seem so happy the first few runs and I thought for longer than a moment that I was either going to a) break the zipper or b) toss it in the ‘never to be looked at again’ pile. It did seem to ease up though, so fingers crossed no zippy breakages are on the horizon for me.

The main issue sewing with suede is darts. I like to use a layer of pattern paper or tissue paper between the fabric and foot to allow the machine to glide more smoothly over the surface and not drag. It can be really hard to see your stitching line when you have another layer blocking your makings… just as I reach the dart point it ALWAYS seems to drag and stretch just a little! So frustrating! But it has spurred me on to make this skirt again in a woven to get those dart points perfected haha.

Instead of hemming I did a long straight stitch around the bottom as a kind of finish/stay stitch just to neaten things up a bit.

On completion of the skirt I teamed it with this McCalls 7472 Raglan shirt and went to buy a house. Happy dais.


Location: Loxley Valley
Currently listening to: Misery Loves Company, Mystic Braves

Sunday, 17 October 2021

McCalls M8001, Shirt

I made this shirt using an Abakhan fabric that I liked but wasn't head over heels with. Perfect for testing this pattern and making a wearable toile.

A quick Google search suggested this pattern was quite oversized and cutting an XS would be ample big enuough. The nature of the all-in-one kimono-style sleeves means the shirt is quite loose in the bust area (my smallest proportioned area), so XS seemed like a good idea to me.

The shirt features a bottom band and sleeve bands - I would love to use a stripey fabric next time and mix and match which piees I cut on the grain and the crossgrain. There is also an option to add pockets with pocket flaps so loads more options to play around with the direction of fabric.

Two yokes are cut and sandwich the ack and front inside the seam allowances. Unlike other shirts I have made with yokes, the yoke-facing is not interfaced - I guess as the shirt is so loose fit it doesn't need this extra stability across the shoulders as there is minimal strain, also you don't really need any extra thickness in the kimono sleeves that could create bulk in the arm creases and look a bit odd!!

The shirt is a really fun relaxed fit - with some bright fruity fabric I can imagine this being a total-beach hit! Collar, band and front band were all standard to assemble, the button band is quite wide so I chose these flat, round and failt simple buttons - I thought the pear effect would help to compliment the white in the fabric print. 

The shirt doesn't feel like a groundbreaking accomplishment, I think the pattern is a great stash-buster abd a nice 'quick-win' pattern in between bigger projects. The result is wearable for casual weekends and the pattern a good example of how to change up a traditional shirt pattern.

I am in a total shirt-making spree right now! I have such a stash of short friendly fabric and patterns to work through! What's your recommended shirt pattern? Do you have a go-to? Do you like flounce and frill or do you like to keep it simple?


Location: Nr Hecla Works, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones, The Hives

Saturday, 18 September 2021

McCalls M7472, Dog Shirt

I'm a firm believer that every woman entering their 30s needs a statement shirt. I shirt that says SELL YOUR HOUSE TO ME, a shirt that says I STAND OUT FROM THE OTHER CANDIDATES IN THIS JOB INTERVIEW, a shirt that will distract you from the very faint lines appearing on my face, a shirt that says I'm mature enough to be uneffected by your opinioin on the print, and confident enough to pull it off in public (pull off the print I mean, not the actual shirt... ah ha). A shirt that is as unique and memorable as I am. The dog shirt is my statement shirt. The I feel like I'm turning heads in the street shirt, the my mom doesn't like it but I think she secretly does shirt. And I LOVE it.

The fabric is another beautiful find from Minerva. I'm going to get a bit soppy here, but since joining their ambassador team I have had the chance to get my paws (groan) on some absolutely fabulous material, and beyond that have really felt like my makes and my blogs and my photos have really been valued by a company that I am totally smitten with. 
This fabric is a cotton poplin that I must admit, if you're not so comfortable wearing the print, would also suit a duvet and pillowcase combo. There are a number of different pooches featured on this print, Dalmation? Chihuahua? Alsatian? Husky? Bull dog? Spaniel? We got it! Oh and yeah, they are all wearing jewellery as well okay? Cause why not?? I feel like the gold of their accessories and the green and purple of their gems really takes this to the next level. Monochrome, I'd have liked it. Monochrome with pops of glammy colour? Love it! 

With a bold print, abstract in areas and strikingly graphic in others, it was so so important to get the pattern placement right. I played around for ages to make sure I'd got my favourite hounds where I wanted them, and that there wasn't too much dog-repeat across the body and sleeves etc. I wanted to capture some of the random abstraction but not lose the dogs in seams or under the collar. I opted for the most official looking dog - a pointy eared pincher I think??? to feature most prominently on the centre back, with a doofy greyhound similar to mine peering in from the side seams. The bulldog/alsatian combo on the front was thoughouly planned - hoping they would compliment each other but not come across as some kind of weird dog bra.

I also wanted to subtley use the gold of the dog jewellery in the cuffs. To do this I had to cut them on the crossgrain to get as much gold across them as possible, but they are well stabalised with interfacing so I'm pretty certian this posed no detriment. For the collar, again I wanted to capture a bit of colour on the points to help the structure POP and add a bit more of an obvious, deliberate shape amongst the dog abstraction. 

I was careful not to get any random, obvious bits of dog facial features in the button band, I wanted the placket to act as kind of border to the chaos of the print!

I chose to use the McCalls 7472 pattern again, as I thought the length and the raglan sleeves provided more opportunity for dog-coverage. The wackiness of the print also teamed nicely with the art-school kinda vibes that the pattern boasts.
I knew I wanted to find some buttons that were big and gold and OTT to compliment the dog-jewellery. I was over the moon when I dicovered these buttons on the habberdashery market stall in Sheffield. Not only are they gold and blingy as planned, the two colours they had on sale matched the purple and green of the fabric perfectly! It was a sign!! Not wanting to miss out on the colour co opporutnity, I chose to use 2 purple buttons for the sleeves and green down the front. 

I'm so pleased with how this turned out! A shirt like no other! I thought the fabric would be a bit of a nightmare in terms of creasing but so far I havent caught sight of myself in shop windows and though DAMN this needed ironing agian. In and ideal world, I would have liked the fabric to have a little bit more weight to save the sleeves getting a bit billowy but what it lacks in weight it definitely makes up for in bucket loads of character. 
Here's to my 'I'm old enough to dress myself' shirt, hopefully these prosperous pooches will bring me all the luck I need to finally buy my house, and then who knows... take on the world?


Location: Sheffield Council Stray Kennels
Currently listening to: You Owe Me Some Kinda Love, Chris Isaak

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Burda 7136, Blouse

All the members of my girlband agreed, Italy absoluely SLAYED this year at Eurovision. A quick looky through Instagram soon showed that Maneskin, their entry, had already acquired quite a following in Europe, with the kind of giddy fanbase I haven't really seen since the 1990s. Amongst the reposts and the hashtags I found this pic of Victoria De Angelis and fell for her outfit!
Sunday morning, post- Eurovij Italy victory, I'm asking my Instagram followers if they've ever seen a shirt pattern like this anywhere? There were a few good answers but the patterns that came my way were mainly out of print and difficult to track down. The suggestions did help me narrow my search down to 'shirt with bib' patterns and I finally came up trumps with the Burda 7136. 

The pattern is very formal, with a pin-tuck panel in the breast and sharp collar and cuffs. After the bib area, the second most important feature for my Maneskin blouse was the floaty, flouncy sleeves. I knew I was going to have to do a bit of a hack to transform the dress shirt into something more 70s inspired. I recalled the lovely floaty bell-sleeves of the Mia blouse, which came free with an issue of Simply Sewing magazine a couple of years ago and thought these would be perect to combine with the tux-bodice. I took the top half of the Burda sleeve and then tapered the width to the same width as the Mia sleeve at the elbow point where the first flounce sits. The Mia blouse has the option for a double flounce. Although this wasn't necissarily in the initial plan I thought it could make that shirt just that little bit extra.
An instagram poll voted a big fat YES to the double flounce when I put my toile out to the critics. I'll admit I was little bit worried about the shirt looking a bit too 'costume', but an extra sleeve flounce wasn't a difficult addition to incorporate should I decide I agreed with the poll at the final hour.......... Ha, turns out you guys were right.
I was on the hunt for a drapey but not strechy lace for the main body of the blouse. I found some nice laces but they were all quite open weave and crochetty and didn't quite embody the sexy vibes I was looking for. This soft white satin was an instant WIN-  It had the perfect drape to it and not too much sheen for a satin fabric. I settled for a plain black polycotton as at this point I had been round alll the local shops and casually browsed online and couldn't find a lace that was on point. I bougt both of these fabrics from Direct Sewing and Knitting Supplies in Attercliffe. I don't get out that way very often but they do always have a great selection- particularly good range of knits too if you're on the search for some fun tshirt fabrics.
My buttons were in my stash already, just cute plain black stem buttons from Hillsborough Fine Fabrics.
If you've made a shirt before, the basic construction of this guy is nothing too taxing, though must admit the sleeves and cuffs of the actual origial pattern look look to have a few more steps than cuffs I've made before! I thought the hardest part of the shirt was making the bib. A piece of fabric is pin-tucked and then the bib shape is cut out of this once the tucks are all sewn. You have to be really reaaally mindful that you are making each tuck the same width! So I definitely recommend using a ruler and a tape measure and notches for each line of stitching. The stitch lines are all really visible on the front of the blouse and the fabric would definitely show up any unpicking so had to get these right first time! You'd be surprised how long it takes just to stich a series of straight lines!! I pressed the fabric after each one to ensure my measurements for the next line were as accurate as possible.
Confession time?! I'm hoping I'm writing this far enough down the blog post that most of you will have stopped reading now, so I'll reveal my big secret(...) I pressed all of my pintucks in the wrong direction. If you look at ANY pintuck fronted tuxedo online you'll see they are pressed out, towards the sideseams. Mine are pressed in. Why. Why!? I don't know why I did it, but I do know once I'd pressed and cut them both into their bib shapes there was no way I could just press them back the other way. I feared the worst, but I don't think the end result was a major disaster. The main trouble was trying not to catch the inner-most pintuck in the button band seam. But would you have known though? If you'd not read this would you have picked up on my error? Just say no, lets move on.

This was my first hidden-button button band! I think I was really lucky again with my fabric choice - I think some fabrics would have sprung open and not hidden the buttons at all! It also pressed really well on the collar. Construction of the collar is very similar to just adding a collar band, the actual turned out collar being part if this same piece then pressed- so actually simpler than adding another pattern piece. I love the simplicity of the shape but also how crisp and elegant the little triangles look.
The trickiest part of the sleeve is probably hemming them. The edges are very curved!! So you have to realllllllllly ease in the hem allowance. I pressed up 1.5cm and then turned in the hem allowance to meet the crease. I used about 10000 pins and stitched it from the wrong side so I could make sure I was catching the hem. I should probably have checked my machine tension as the stitching on the outside of the sleeve is a tiny bit loose - but it's doing its job and I think only the perfectionist in me can see that.
I'm really really proud of the outcome of this shirt. It has definitely inspired me to plan a project and work toward a particular design vision again- I think makes like this are really rewarding. I've not really experimented too much with combining features of multiple patterns to make something totally new before, I was surprised how easy it was in this instance.
I am intrigued to try the Burda pattern again with a less formal fabric and colour choice. I think the bib could be cut without the pintucks with no detriment to the fit or shape of the blouse, so would be a good opportunity to incorporate multiple fabrics with less faff haha! I've seen some cute bib-blouses online with a ruffle around the edge too, which I think would be easy enough to have a go at by tweaking this pattern again. 

After a recent trip to Abakhan and buying ALLL the cute viscose shirt fabrics I have a few more blouses lined up to make! 
Has anyone else combined shirt patterns to get a frankenshirt? Or maybe you've tried the cuffs on the original Burda pattern and you could tell me if they were tricky!

Location: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield / Fitzalen Square, Sheffield
Currently listening to: 911, Lady Gaga