Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Evan skirt

A broken collar bone. Six stitches, two stitches, and three stitches caused by an IKEA escalator, a slippery bathtub and the swimming pool, respectively. Emergency stomach surgery. And the infamous near-hospitalisation for extreme constipation (yes, really) avoided only by some spectacular eleventh-hour shooting poo. In their short lives so far, my children have between them put together a remarkable portfolio of medical disasters - or so it seems to me, who has never broken a bone or been hospitalised for anything other than childbirth.

Last night was the most recent of these episodes, the swimming pool tumble and chin stitches thing. We handled it rather well, I thought, especially when the doctor brought out the gas and air and,  "Yay!" they chorused, "that stuff is fun!!" Cue raised eyebrows from the medical professionals: do your children do this a lot, Madame? (Rather like the time a kitchen cupboard fell off the wall on to my head, and the kindly, concerned doctor gently asked: has this happened before? It took some confused explaining before he was convinced that 'kitchen cupboard' really wasn't a euphemism for 'wife-beating husband').

Anyway, this latest in a long string of hospital visits was also just the latest in a long string of little life events that cumulatively have prevented me from blogging this skirt before. (How's that for a tenuously-relevant intro!)  Which is a shame, because I've been dying to tell you about it since I made it, what feels like AGES ago. It's Marilla Walker's Evan skirt pattern, which I was lucky enough to test before its release, and it's absolutely chock full of lovely details. Here, let me show you!

Front and centre, here's that split from closer up. Such nice pointy corners and pleasing topstitched detail...

THOSE PINTUCKS. I could not love a back pocket more than I love this one.

Topstitching, (pink!!) topstitching everywhere!  And oh how nicely that centre back seam and belt loop match up - my inner detail-freak did a little happy dance for joy!

And there's (optionally) more of those pintucks on the front pockets too! My only reservation here is that this part is really not easy to do tidily on thicker fabrics: my (purple!!) denim was not the ideal fabric for this level of detail, although it's hardly that bad unless you're looking closely.

Finally, I have to show you my pocket lining, just because otherwise no-one will ever know it's there. I used some scraps left over from my Eva dress - the colours were so harmonious, it makes me happy every time I put my hands in them.  Which is often, because let me tell you, these pockets are perfectly sized, placed and angled. Also, that there is the back of my first ever zip fly, painlessly and perfectly done thanks to the nice and clear instructions.

As for the sizing and fit, I found it pretty spot on.  My waist falls between two sizes, so to be on the safe side I went with the larger one and then graded down a couple of sizes at the hip, in line with my measurements there. By the way, this involved re-tracing the side seam curve on the front, back yoke, pocket facing and pocket lining pieces - a slight fiddle but not exactly difficult. Anyway, I can tell that my choice of waist size means my skirt sits slightly lower than it's designed to: the waistband is nicely curved to sit on the natural waist, and doesn't sit quite right below mine. But that's a minor niggle and one that can easily be fixed by making the smaller waist size next time. It's still supremely comfy and very, very wearable. I wear it a lot :-)

So all in all, you can probably tell that it's a total thumbs up for this pattern from me! A skirt like this is always a classic, and the pattern has less detailed and longer versions so you can get tons of variety out of it. I have an idea for a corduroy Evan in the autumn, and in the meantime would LOVE to find the time to put this skirt and its details together with the top half of the Turia dungarees, for what I'm convinced will be the best pinafore dress EVER.

And now a quick word about the top. Quilted knit Linden awesomeness! Me and the family were in Maastricht around Easter and stumbled on the fabric market just as it was closing up. 10 frenzied minutes later, I escaped with 1.5 m of this at a total cost of 3.75 euros. Self restraint guys!! It could have been SO much worse :-)

Anyway, this fabric didn't have enough stretch for a normal knit neckband finish, so I drafted a facing instead (Hanne's quick tips explain how). I quite like the wider neckline for a change.

So there you have it!  What do you think - are you tempted by the Evan skirt? Have you tried any other of Marilla's patterns? She's a relatively new indie pattern designer and I love her aesthetic - absolutely everything she pins is just so cool, and she's super stylish and sociable on instagram. This skirt is the first of hers I've tried but it's so good I'm eager to try the others - I've got my eyes on the Freemantle coat for when autumn rolls round.  Total fangirl moment!!!!

OK. Final outfit pic.

And with that I'm outta here before anyone else does themselves an injury.


Friday, 8 May 2015

Drape Drape dare

Hello my lovelies! Here's a question: where do you stand on Japanese patterns?

Unconsciously, I've always mentally divided the sewing world into those who sew from Japanese pattern books, and those who don't.  Part aesthetics, part practice - perhaps it's the styles, the construction, the sparse instructions and nested pattern sheets that turn you on or off - but wouldn't you agree, maybe, that we sewists tend to be on one side or the other?

Or maybe not. In any case: I had put myself in the camp of Those Who Don't.

And then Gillian dared me.

Sew something from a Japanese pattern book, she said. So I got myself down the library, got myself all the Japanese pattern books they had, and I did.

You know the punchline, right? Yes of course: I swapped sides.  Jumped right over that fence into the camp of Those Who Do.  Because look at that tunic there - it's clever, it's comfy and it's SO FREAKIN STYLISH I hardly recognise myself.

As it was my first go at this Japanese sewing lark, I went for the very easiest pattern in all the four books I borrowed.  It's the one-piece boatneck tunic from Drape Drape 3. I had seen it before on Jen, whose version is infinitely more exciting in aqua/turquoise lace - and when I turned the page and recognised those butterfly-ish batwing sleeves I knew this was the one to start with.  But it was only when I got down to it that I realised just how cool it is that this is all in one piece.

Seriously - ONE piece. When you think about it, it's actually a little but mindblowing as well as being seriously, utterly simple.  This is the full extent of the description and instructions:

After all, why waste your words? (Truly , I have crossed over completely - the more I think/write about this, the more I love it).  The book says you'll need 1m60 fabric, and you do - I had exactly 1m60 of this grey (probably poly) sweater knit, and this is how I cut it:

And look, below, it's just like the diagram! (The label in the back is slightly off-centre, because just think how easy it is to be precise about the centre back of a neckline with no seams, especially once you've picked it up and moved it a couple of times). 

The book says to simply wrap some binding over the neckline, but a) I didn't have enough fabric to cut it from the same stuff, and b) I wanted my binding to stretch around the neckline to draw it in slightly and hold it on my shoulders. I used a 1" strip of thin black viscose knit, 15% shorter than the neckline circumference, turned to the inside and topstitched. Two seams and three hems later - done!

Not only do I love this because it was quick, easy, successful and NEW (monkey brain!), I love it especially because this fabric is both lightweight and warm and the sleeves are exactly the right length for spring and I have therefore added the absolutely IDEAL tunic to my wardrobe for Me Made May. Which I'm doing properly for the first time and documenting on instagram, should you care to follow. I might do a round up here at the end.

So, what do you think? Are you already a fan of Japanese patterns, and if not, do you feel in any way tempted or won over?  I must admit that this has all been more fun than I expected, and I've earmarked 3-4 more things to make while I have those books out of the library. Yay for pushing the boundaries!

And while I'm at it, let's take a moment to say YAY for libraries too.  If you're lucky enough to be near one that stocks or will order sewing books, this is a brilliant way to try out new things or simply get your hands on patterns you wouldn't have been able to access otherwise.  And, well, ok... I have a confession.  This isn't actually the first time a library has lured me into experimenting with different sewing styles...

The above is what happened when I got bored and started browsing one time with the children. Before I knew it, I'd borrowed the book, traced it out and made two mini-humans. The kids named them Elizabeth and Sebastian, after their own middle names.

Sadly, an accident befell Sebastian shortly thereafter:

I literally had to dig him out for this photo from under the mending pile. Hereby naming and shaming myself into fixing his amputated limb sometime soon.

Have a wonderful weekend, dearests!