Friday, 28 February 2014

Outfit of my (day)dreams

Hello lovelies!  Well it's all rather quiet where I am today, and much as one might welcome some work downtime every now and again, I actually hate it. I could be at home sewing, darn it! But, instead I'm in the office, and just made the foolish mistake of distracting myself for 10 minutes on the internet.

Now I really really REALLY want to make these:

Source/available here

Like, I want to make them SO MUCH I am having a very hard time restraining my Paypal finger. My only line of defence is the idea that I should go and try on some RTW boyfriend jeans first to see if I like them as much as I know think I will.  But, there's a further complication: my browsing of the Fabric Godmother's website did not stop there.

I also found these:

Those are a) striped Prada and b) designer bird print viscose jersey.  Can you hear my brain going into overdrive? Stripes! Birds! VISCOSE!! I love viscose knits, they're so soft and gorgeous to both sew and wear. So it took about 0.0003 seconds to mash the jeans pattern with the jersey and think - HEY! Boyfriend jeans, slouchy tees - I could just buy all this stuff and sew it and be wearing the coolest of cool handmade outfits all summer!!!

A bit like this, thank you Pinterest:

Pinned here and here.

Sadly, I think we all know what happens to projects planned like this. Or at least, I know what happens in my case. They go on the end of a long list of projects conceived in a very similar manner that have yet to be executed but, crucially, ARE ALREADY IN MY STASH. Plaid flannel Archer? Up next, I promise! Zinnia skirt in oversized gingham? Yes yes - and another in mustard-coloured linen! Leggings, batwings, Renfrews - I'll have them all done before summer hits (somewhere in late May, no?), just in time for the sloppy jeans and tees!


So yeah, I'm holding back for the moment. I just had to tell someone who would understand :-)

Now, back to work...

here's a tumbleweed, enjoy


Sunday, 23 February 2014

In hiding: Undercover Hood

A word to the wise: don't take blog photos of yourself when you're hungover.  Or if you really have to, make sure you're modelling a garment in which you can get away with not showing your face much.

Such as, for example, a hoodie.  

A hoodie made from a pattern which even suggests hiding yourself in it. Yes, dear people - this is me, hungover, lurking inside the Papercut Patterns Undercover hood.

And no, these pictures are not glamorous. They're neither modishly styled nor even particularly flattering. But you know what? I think that's all for the better. Because one doesn't tend to wear hoodies in order to look glamorous or modish - in fact, it hardly matters whether or not they're flattering, does it? Not in my case, anyway.

I mostly wear hoodies for recovery purposes after a particularly excellent night out. 

No, actually, that's a misrepresentation. I mostly wear them all the time, for everything. The other reason I'm going with the dressed-down, rough-faced photos is because in reality this outfit is about the closest I get to a signature style. Slouchy, comfy, easy to pair with some jeans and knock about with the kids all weekend.

OK, husband comment! He asked: "Why? Did you need a new hoodie?"  Which got me thinking (after I stopped thinking "dude, no! I don't need to need it to want to make it!").  Of course technically I probably didn't need a new hoodie. And actually, what is the point of sewing your own clothes if they're just going to look they came from H&M?  Couldn't my signature style be just a little more flamboyant, so I can claim that as my creative raison d'√™tre?

But of course, those things aren't really anything to do with it. It just feels BETTER to be wearing a comfy, slouchy hoodie when you made it yourself. Take that, shopping!

Plus, in my opinion, the Undercover Hood is superior. It's just a really good shape. It's sized for sloppiness - if you like your hoodies fitted, you'll need to size down at least once, maybe more - and it's LONG. To me, this is genius - I want to be able to cosy up my hands in my sleeves, and wear the hemline below my bum. Shops don't make that, but, hell, me and Papercut do! I read a couple of reviews that said this pattern was too long, but I measured the pieces, compared the length with my favourite RTW top, and added 5 cm at the hem. Loooong roomy hoodie.

I made the size S, based on my full bust measurement, with no changes for fit apart from the aforementioned lengthening. Interestingly, even though it's slouchy, I do think I could do with a no-dart FBA in future. It doesn't sit as sloppy as I'd like across the front, and I'm blaming the girls.  Actually, would anyone be interested in a quick no-dart FBA tutorial? It's my go-to bust adjustment - I just don't like darts, and it allows you to fit more casual patterns (like this, and Grainline's scout tee for example) that don't have them. Yell in the comments if you're interested :-)

Anyway, the actual sewing was great, too - straightforward, nothing complicated at all. I did the whole thing on the overlocker, apart from topstitching down the pocket. I also topstiched the hood seam down around the neckline, which wasn't mentioned in the pattern instructions but helped the whole thing to sit much better. In fact my only comment about my first Papercut experience is that the instructions are clear, but on the minimal side. I found their brevity quite nice, but while this pattern is definitely beginner-level, I wonder if some might feel more reassured with greater hand-holding.

As for the design, the raglan sleeves, waistband and sleeve cuffs (long ones!) obviously have excellent mix'n'match potential. For a first go at it I wanted to keep things low key, so just made it in solid blue with white hood lining to brighten it up a bit. A bit boring, maybe, but also a brilliant, comfortable, under-the-radar wardrobe basic.

All of which helps.

Y'know, on those days you need your clothes to camouflage things a bit.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

It makes your boobs look noticeable. But in a good way.

You really can't beat a good husband comment on homemade clothes, can you? I'm going to take a leaf out of Heather's book and start including them in all my pattern reviews.  The pattern in this case being (again) the Lady Skater, most other comments of substance are already out there in the blogosphere somewhere, anyway.

It makes my boobs look noticeable. But in a good way!

Begging the myriad questions: what do they normally look like? Not noticeable? (Given their proportions, this would amaze me). Noticeable, in a bad way?? Would that be better or worse than the not-noticeable option?

In the interests of science, here's a side-on display. OF THE DRESS. You don't have to notice my boobs (or do you?? Is that what he meant?)

So anyway, I cut two of these dresses out at once, and then took my time sewing them up whenever I had a moment - it was quite nice to have a couple of easy projects on the go, just ready to pick up here and there.  It was also an interesting process as the fabrics are very different from each other - which resulted in two very different sewing experiences, and two very different dresses. They're clearly the same pattern, but the style and the fit varies considerably between the two.

On the left, we have some fleece-backed sweatshirting, very stable with minimal 2-way stretch.  On the right is a 4-way-stretch printed viscose with a rather beautiful drape and lovely soft feel.

Now obviously, I was expecting a lot swishier dress with the viscose, and that's what I got. What I didn't expect so much - though perhaps I should have, if I'd thought about it - was how the weight of the fabrics affected the bodice fit. The viscose hangs heavier and stretches vertically too; this not only produces the apparently noticeable and definitely flattering bosom-skimming effect, but also means the waistline sits lower. The sweatshirt fabric, however, is pretty light and doesn't stretch downwards at all. And although the second dress looks fine, I actually find the waistline sits ever so slightly too high for comfort.

Which is ever so slightly annoying, because comfort was precisely the point of making a fleece-lined, throw-it-on-and-go sweatshirt dress. But I nonetheless wear it a lot, because it is 100% lifestyle perfect.

Now let's talk about the finishings on this one, because I like them, and let's face it, garment finishing details are the money shots of sewing blogs really, aren't they? (And let's see what that sentence and all this discussion of noticeable boobs does to my traffic stats).  Here's the neckline:

I had unthinkingly pressed the seam allowance up instead of down before topstitching it with a twin needle - and almost immediately regretted that I had done this on the inside, not the outside of the neckline. That thin peek of the neckband from behind the overlocked seam would look great on the other side of the dress, don't you think? In this case I definitely prefer it to the look of the plain neckband the dress ended up with. It'd need suitably coloured serger thread, but I think I'll be doing this deliberately on t-shirts sometime soon.

At the opposite end of things, here's the hem:

This was a miraculous confluence of gadgets that produced a PERFECT hem finish - and I can confirm that it pretty much always works wonderfully, as it's become my default knit hem technique.  I use a twin needle, which of course means that you have to sew on the right side of the garment and thus can't see the raw edge of your folded-up hem. So, I use a magnetic seam gauge and line up the fabric's folded edge against it so that when you sew, the left hand one of the twin needles falls very slightly over (i.e. to the left of) the hem's raw edge. On the left of the photo you can see what the finished hem will look like on the inside. All round gorgeous!

Then finally, of course, we have sleeve cuffs. I love sleeve cuffs :-)

So, there you have it: two Lady Skater dresses that are each a marvellous addition to my everyday wardrobe!  I feel like I'm having a winning run of wearable clothes at the moment - how long can it last, I wonder?? At any rate, I hope it holds until I get my Papercut hoodie done - all cut out and ready, I hope to be wearing it this weekend. And if I'm really lucky, after that perhaps I'll get a successful Archer shirt made before my streak of sewing success runs out...

What are you working on right now?  And do you have any favourite knit hem tips & techniques to share?

Happy sewing, friends!


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Call a doctor - it's raglan fever!

You guys, I have TWO skater dresses to show you but ZERO photo time! It was sleeve cuff sewing galore last week, and sleeve cuff happy wearing joy this week :-)

But, for now let's talk about RAGLAN SLEEVES! Yep, I'm super excited to get going on my next projects, almost entirely because of the sleeve shape - I don't care how much of a sleeve geek that makes me!


Is it just me, or are raglan patterns having a MASSIVE moment right now?  The above three patterns  are displayed randomly because they happen to be the ones I own (so far...) From left to right:

This month there seem to have been epidemic proportions of Lola dresses cropping up, in addition to the many beautiful versions that were already out there. I couldn't pick favourites, but these are some inspiring me most for my own attempt:

Clockwise from top left: Fancy Tiger Crafts, Ginger Makes, Kathy Sews, The Perfect Nose, What Katie Sews, Lladybird.

What's really great about the Lola pattern is the interesting seam lines, which is probably why most of my favourite versions are in solid colours, despite the fabulous potential this dress has for colour blocking. Though I really like how Katie used a print for the middle sections so I'm very tempted to copycat that.

The Lane Raglan is a newly-released pattern by Adrianna of Crafterhours, and there aren't (m)any versions of it made up in the wild yet. I snapped it up because I've been looking out for a basic but versatile women's raglan tee for a long time, and it just didn't exist. Now though, it seems we might be spoilt for choice - Kitschycoo's Amanda has also been tantalising instagram fans with these pictures, and dropping future-pattern hints along with them:

If/when that does come out, I'm pretty sure I will last about 4 seconds before buying it. Kitschycoo + raglan + slouch = about the best laid back sweater I can imagine. 

Amanda is definitely releasing it! Woohoo!  And how could I have forgotten to mention here Dixie DIY's Hot Cocoa sweater??! Than you Louize for reminding me :-) Slightly slouchy with a hi-lo hem, it's single-sized but that's because it's FREE! Plenty of stylish versions of this are out there in blogland too.
OK, as you were...

Speaking of slouch - first up in my to-make plans is the Papercut Undercover Hoodie. This has been on my wish list for so long, I finally caved when it was on sale in January. In my real life I more or less live in hoodies, and it's time to remedy the fact that I've never sewn myself one! I haven't seen that many versions of this blogged yet, so I'll be interested to see how it turns out. I've got some medium-weight blue jersey which I hope will make a comfy, light-ish top that'll layer well and have me covered for summer evenings. If I like it (surely I will??), I expect there will be about a gazillion of these to follow and I'll single-handedly fill the internet's Papercut hoodie gap.

Seeing as I had raglan patterns on the brain, I also did a little searching to see what else is out there. There wasn't much from the Big Four that caught my eye (surprise, surprise) but Style Arc also have a couple of interesting tops (the pictures link to the patterns):

This line drawing doesn't do much for me, but I like the sloppy tee styling on the left, and the back yoke is interesting.  Then this pattern looks like another good basic, much like the Lane Raglan, but with what looks like a more vertically-angled shoulder seam maybe? :

Also, Style Arc's pattern doesn't have cuffs.  We know how I feel about cuffs, although you may feel differently :-)

Finally, any defences I may have been tempted to put up against all this raglanspiration has been shot down recently by an H&M jumper (or sweater, as you like).  It was red and easy and exactly my kind of thing, so I squished my home-sewist's guilt and bought it (we are still allowed to buy clothes every now and again, aren't we?) In style it's overwhelmingly similar to, but underwhelmingly LESS GOOD than, the Lola pattern. And every single time I wear it, someone asks me if I made it myself. It kills me. Yes, universe, I'm listening, and I shall get on it forthwith! All the raglan things are coming to a blog near you, soon!

Are you a fan of raglan sleeves? With their easy-to-sew, flattering shape, I can hardly imagine you wouldn't be - but what do YOU think? Any other, alternatively-shaped sleeve geeks out there??


Sunday, 9 February 2014

When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad

What would Maria Von Trapp think, I wonder?  Raindrops on roses, warm woollen mittens and... sewing sleeve cuffs. It really is one of my Favourite Things.

Do you have any oddly favourite little sewing things, too?


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Kids Clothes Week wrap: a reversible hoodie

Wait, what? Kids Clothes Week Winter has been and gone? Where did it go??  Oh hang on, I know. That was those seven days in a row I spent wrestling with a reversible hoodie.  

If you follow me on instagram, you've seen this plenty already, but I wanted to blog it anyway as it was quite an achievement. To begin with, contrary to appearances above, he adores it (the face up there is just a photoshoot special). He adores it so much that if I let him he would wear it until it had to be peeled off. It's a massive, enormous, boy-sewing win.

It was also a total labour of love. Actually that's not true - it was a labour of swearing.  The problem is not with the pattern as such, it's just the nature of the beast: reversible = multiple layers of fabric.  Multiple layers and much precision.

And in using fleece for both the inside and out, I did not help myself.  Oh no. Especially not when I also added fleece pockets (on the outside only, thank God). For the first time EVER I actually resorted to hand basting the zip - because at the centre front/pocket intersection, when you add up all the seam allowances, I was dealing with this:

It took sewing determination I didn't know I had. I even made a special trip to the shop for a separating zipper (because doh obviously. Why did I not buy a separating zip the first time??) Reversible zips were nowhere to be found, so this is in fact a non-reversible reversible hoodie, a fact in the end I was supremely grateful for: it sat so thick and unwieldy around the neck, I ended up topstitching down that blue band at the hood seam, to keep everything sitting more or less neatly. It works, but there's clearly a right side and a wrong one.

The new, shiny, separating but non-reversible zip handily came with no pull attached, which clearly is great for four year olds. Good thing I happened to have bought tons of funky coordinating ribbon the other day. (Available in Veritas in lots of yummy colour/print combos, Belgian readers!)

And that's that. Despite being a surprising amount of work, in a week where I was inexplicably exhausted to begin with, this hoodie is one of my favourite things I've ever made. The fleece was half-metre remnants, the 2 colours of ribbing were all the scraps I had left from earlier projects - all in all it was cheap and stash-busting and it came out SO COOL!

This morning, wearing it of course, and cuddling me manipulatively, he asked me to make him another one exactly the same.  Which I will, as soon as I find some NOT-F*CKING-FLEECE to make it with.

I am not sewing with fleece again for as long as freaking possible.