Last week saw the end of a very good but busy work project, so what do I do when faced with a bit more time and mental energy than usual? Why, I sew of course!*
Liberty, but not as we know it
I received some lovely Liberty gift coins for my birthday, and because Previous Me knows Future Me so well, I had stashed some extra birthday cash along with it in the suede pouch, knowing I’d forget all about it and be pleasantly surprised. Which is precisely what happened!
So now armed with £60 to play with in Liberty, I decided to take advantage of a rainy day and go shopping. Now, I know loads of you go weak at the knees for anything Liberty, but I don’t. I find most of the traditional Liberty prints to be painfully twee and nothing I’d ever, ever wear. So I was thinking I’d see what was on offer in their jerseys, but first I got waylaid by the remnants table, where I scooped up a vaguely-African print silk twill (1m for £25, seen lower left).
The jersey selection was really small and mostly ditzy print (gag), but I kept being drawn to a dreamy, blurry, triangular print that came in a few shades, but only in Tana Lawn. I finally decided that if I kept coming back to this print then I should buy it and figure out a project later. So 1.5m of the palest colourway came home with me (seen upper left above) and brought my grand total to £58. Now that’s budgeting!
Refashioned suede wristlets
A friend had recently given me two skirts which no longer fit her, a suede one and a silk one, and mentioned that I might want them for the fabric. Of course! So I chopped up the suede one on Sunday, making two of the free Cake mini wristlets.read more >>
Wow, thank you all so so much for all your hearty congratulations on my double gold medals at the British Transplant Games! It was definitely a confidence boost winning the first one, enough that I had the courage to wear my rather-more-revealing-than-I’m-used-to new running shorts & bra set for the second days’ track races.
I used the Jalie 2563 pattern for both the sports bra with racer back (View A) and the shorts with thigh insert (View C), and there’s also another bra view included in this pattern, too, so it’s great value to get three usable views in one!
I’d made this set after completing the swirl sheath dress, but before the super simple skirt, so I’m glad we waited for a photoshoot to be able to use Sheffield’s amazing Don Valley Stadium as the backdrop, even though it’s scheduled to be demolished next month for lack of maintenance funds (so, so sad!).
Even though I’m wearing these as a set on their own here, I think for regular runs I’m more likely to wear them as separates – a great sports bra to wear under a low-cut vest to let a pop of colour peep through, and a great pair of running (or cycling!) shorts I can pair with a longer top.
Jalie actually call this a “crop top” and not a “sports bra”, but I found it really easy to turn it into a compression-style sports bra that’s actually supportive enough to run in! If you’ve got a larger bust, your mileage may vary, but for me, this is the perfect mix of support, style and comfort.
My first change was to line both the front and back in power mesh. However, when I tried it on (before adding the elastic edges), it didn’t pass my “bounce test”. So I consulted with a sewing/running industry friend, who recommended I try adding a second layer of power mesh lining, with the stretch running in the opposite direction to the first layer (power mesh is stretchy in one direction, but rigid in the other).read more >>
I’ve found myself at the end of yet another extraordinarily busy week, one where we’ve been out pretty much every single night, and we’ve had a friend over from the States, too. However, I have managed to make progress, albeit slow, on my swirl sheath dress in a series of 10 minute segments snatched here and there.
Since I bought my silver stretch lining fabric on Goldhawk Road last Saturday, I’ve managed to sew and press all the darts (the lining uses the original base pattern so no swirls inside), attach it to the facings, sew the side seam, and attach it to the invisible zipper.
Here’s the back of the dress hanging flat in my sewing cave:
I did the lining hem by machine, but the coral fabric hem needs doing by hand, possibly in the car this weekend. The right side strap also needs a little bra keeper snap strap to keep it in place as it’s a pinch too long. Otherwise it’s done!
It doesn’t quite fit as well as the muslin did when I made it last summer though, but that’s down to me rather than the pattern – I’ve got a big track race next weekend in Sheffield for the British Transplant Games and my trainer has put me on a training diet to shed as much excess weight as possible before the race, as this translate directly into seconds on the track.
She and I were both taken aback by how successful this has been – I’ve lost 4cm (1.5 inches) off my waist and hips and 4.5kg (10lb) in four weeks! If it wasn’t for the hours of running up hills I’d suggest she sell it as a diet plan (the running would reduce its popularity somewhat!). And really, don’t be concerned, as I’ve been stuffing my face with fruit and veggies and lean meats pretty much continuously all month, so I’m not on some idiotic juice cleanse starvation diet or something.
The downside of this is that all my trousers and skirts are hanging off me (my poor Beignet skirt has a cinched paper bag waist now!) and I’m in desperate need of new bottoms. I was planning on sewing up a few pieces for our upcoming Mexico trip next month(!!) but now it’s clear I need to sew as many bottoms as possibly and just pack tops I’ve got already.
I’m still mentally putting together a nice travel wardrobe plan (which I shall reveal in good time), but my immediate sewing plans are thus:read more >>
As some of you may have guessed from my FW2012 shortlist I posted yesterday, I’ve made the Wiksten tank, using the pattern and geometric Mood jersey Kollabora gifted me and also another pair of Jalie jeans! I wasn’t actually planning that they’d go together, but they were a perfect pairing for a relaxed Sunday roast at a cosy pub near the moorings.
Let’s start with the jeans – as I said earlier, my NY-Lon jeans are easily my most-worn item of clothing ever since I made them last year, but they’re starting to fade and I want to have a replacement pair ready before they totally die. The denim I used there was from Mood in NYC, but I’d found some great stretch denim at the Tissues Dreyfus coupon shop in Paris in March, and only €10 for a 3m length, too. I wouldn’t normally buy that much of the same fabric if given a choice, but it means that I’ve got enough left over to easily make another pair. I find it really difficult to find good stretch denim in shops, but this has good stretch and recovery without being too flimsy, so I snapped it up when I saw it.
I constructed these exactly the same as my NY-Lon jeans – again, my main deviations from the Jalie pattern were to use a Burda curved waistband (instead of their rectangular, bias-cut waistband that was just awful in my muslin pair), and extended the pocket linings to the centre front for a non-stretch “gut slimming” panel, as before.read more >>
A lot of sewers like to “Sew with a Plan” (SWAP), but I prefer to call this a “Shortlist” rather than a “Plan”, so I’m free to still change my mind and add/remove items as I go along! My main goal here isn’t so much to create a capsule wardrobe that can be worn together, but more to use up fabrics and/or that have been in my stash for a while that I’d really like to just wear.
From the top down, in no particular order:
- KnipMode 12-2005 #10 – I’ve got some non-stretch denim aging in my stash from a few years ago, and I love KnipMode’s style lines for these. My wardrobe is in desperate need of more jeans, hence why there are two pairs in this Shortlist!
- Altered Burda 06-2012 #129 – Now that my stretch satin from Gorgeous Fabrics is in hand, I can finally make the final version of this dress after completing the drafting and muslins back in July. read more >>
I did indeed finish my peplum top in time to wear it to Karen’s V&A Ballgowns meetup on Friday, even though it meant sewing the hem over breakfast on Friday morning! You can see a sneak peek of it in the top photo on her site, though the peplum itself is hidden by my knees! Fingers crossed I can get a photoshoot done one evening this week, because my weekend was full of other activities…
As I shared with you last week, part of my preparation/reward for my marathon training was to run the Bacchus half marathon this weekend. It’s a half-trail, half-road, fancy dress (costumed) race through a vineyard in Surrey with wine tasting every 2 miles, plus a free glass of wine and hog roast at the end. See why I signed up??
You’ve probably spotted it already, but the skirt is another Jalie running skirt – this is my third, and this is definitely my go-to for warm weather running bottoms (for cooler weather, you can’t beat the Ooh La Leggings!)
The top/vest/singlet is self drafted from my tweaked knit sloper, plus an added kerchief that I drafted from the sloper’s neckline. The kerchief is double layered, and attached to the neckline by overlocker, with the seam showing on the “right” side, which in this case is hidden under the kerchief. I tacked it down at the shoulders and that was enough to keep the seam hidden. Rather than physically tie a knot on the front ties, I instead made a loop to make it look a bit neater, and the “grabbiness” of the supplex was enough that it didn’t slip at all.read more >>
This is definitely turning into The Year of Lycra for me, and it’s barely halfway finished, so I hope you’re not too bored yet (wonderfully, I’ve even inspired some of you to start running Running has been a part of my life for about 8 or 9 years now, but training for a marathon is now really upping my enthusiasm to sew cute clothes for the approx 5 hours every week I’m actively running (wow that’s a lot!).
I’ve had the Jalie multisports skirt (2796) pattern in my stash for several years now, but English summers are never particularly hot anyway, and I usually run in the early mornings, meaning it’s rarely too warm for running tights. But I’ve got some mid-day races coming up, and sometimes it’s warm in the evenings for Run dem Crew, so while I was ill in the latest bout of hot weather, I made up what will be the first of many running skirts!
There’s lots of mix & match options in this pattern- briefs or compression shorts on their own (with either wide or narrow waistband), or you can have the skirt with either briefs or shorts underneath (again with either a wide or narrow waistband). I do not run in shorts normally (or wear them outside the boat, to be honest) but I went for the shorts under the skirt, with the wide waistband.
I’ve loved every single Jalie pattern I’ve ever sewn, and this is no exception. They’re fantastic to sew, but what keeps me coming back is that these are equally fantastic to wear – Jalie totally “get” exercise gear.
The pattern itself is great – tons of sizes, great instructions (I love that they’re available as pdfs so you can view them on your computer or tablet, though I used Jalie’s excellent iPhone app to read them this time around). They’ve really thought about how they’ll be worn when moving, too – the constructions steps mean that seams that might chafe are concealed as much as possible.read more >>
(hmm, why are they covering the waistband in their only magazine photo?)
I also thought I was due a “quick knit top” so I pulled out Jalie 2806 (a gift from LynnRowe on PR!) so I could try out those fantastic tulip sleeves, with the thought of maybe using them on the spring/summer version of my Burda September cover dress…
I had just enough of Ditto‘s wonderfully soft and supple plum bamboo/lycra jersey leftover from my plum and green lace top for this, so it was clearly meant to be! For the trousers I used the same Fabric.com stretch twill as in my navy riding trousers, though in different lights this goes from looking pale grey (nice!) to baby blue (not so nice!). But the combo of pale trousers and dark top feels very Spring-like to me.read more >>
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was first laying out my initial plans for this mini wardrobe, but now I’ve had some time to step back and have a look over what I managed to accomplish last month. I made this wardrobe mostly for myself, to use some luscious fabrics from my stash in combination with patterns that really appealed to me, but I also kept one eye on the contest requirements running over at PaternReview.com to make sure I remained within their rules, too. Here’s my entry into their contest, or you can just read on below…
I started with a blue viscose, draped knit top that I’d bought from ASOS and really liked, but I wanted to wear with both casual and dressy bottoms.
To coordinate, I sewed:
1. Jalie jeans – I’d made a muslin but the waistband was horrible so I had my work cut out for me on this pair using great quality stretch denim from Mood in NYC, plus some London streetsign fabric for the waistband facings and pockets. I used my vintage hand crank Singer machine for all the topstitching, plus I got to use my vintage buttonholer attachment and high quality rivets for the first time! I fixed all the waistband issues in this pair and these are now my favourite jeans. Read more…read more >>
Why “NY-Lon” jeans? Well, it’s certainly not because they’re made of nylon fabric!! (ewww) I’m calling these that because I bought this denim at Mood in NYC on our honeymoon, and the lining pieces are London streetsigns fabric, bought as an eco reusable wrapping paper! So they’re New York and London together!
So I made two small but significant improvements to these, and I am SUPER happy with the result!
- I ditched Jalie’s awful straight, bias, uninterfaced waistband and used the curved waistband from my favourite Burda August 2006 trousers/jeans, which I also interfaced. I used the London street sign cotton as the inner waistband (as well as the fly underlap and the pocket linings).
- I extended my pocket linings to the centre front so they got caught in the fly front stitching and reinforced the front over my gut (you do NOT want stretch denim stretching out there when you sit – it’s not pretty!)
You wouldn’t know it from the lack of sewing photos, but I’ve actually been fairly productive over the past two weeks.
I was a terrible auntie this year and failed to make anything nice for my niece and nephew this Christmas, and my sister-in-law said I should just send them something when I get around to it, seeing as how they’re both so overwhelmed at Christmas anyhow. So before I got started on my March Mini Wardrobe stuff, I took an afternoon to make these, which are currently in transit:
I made a fluffy pink zebra minkee bolero for my 7 year old niece, and an adapted (ie: no hood) monsters and red jersey tee for my 8 year old nephew. You’ll see more about these when they try them on, with any luck…
And while I was clearing the sewing guilt decks, I finally also made the silver silk jersey dress I’d promised (and muslined) for James’s sister over a year ago!read more >>
I’ve finished my post-coat winter sewing plans apart from the La Mia Boutique draped skirt which I’m feeling now is better suited for spring or summer, so I thought I’d dip my toes into the Pattern Review Mini Wardrobe contest that’s running throughout the month of March.
This is a pared-down version of their usual, sprawling wardrobe/SWAP contest, so this time around you need to create a five piece wardrobe in four weeks, using one item you already own (sewn or RTW) and be able to create at least six different outfits from this. I’m actually going one better and aiming to sew five pieces rather than four, but that may fall by the wayside depending on how the month goes.
Here’s what I’ve got in mind:read more >>
The ladies at the Walthamstow meetup got a sneak peek of my new jeans on Saturday, but now everyone can have a look at my (mentally counts…) sixth pair of jeans!
I wanted to try out the Jalie 2908 jeans pattern in cheap fabric before I broke out my good stuff, so I made these using some cheap stretch denim from Goldhawk Road, bought for £3/m. It’s papery and stiff and smells kinda like petrochemicals when you iron it, but it was taking up room in my stash and was good enough to try out the pattern (and good enough for wearing round the boat, too!).
I made the regular rise version (as opposed to the low-rise) and I knew these were bootcut, but wow, this has a VERY flared leg! But the fashion mags can’t stop going on about how flares are big for SS11, so I suppose I’m ahead of the pack with these. I think the rise here is good and comfortable, and the crotch curve, bottom, and thigh fit my “white girl pancake butt” really well. The leg length on these was almost perfect for me, too – I only needed to add 1-2 cm past their hem line (I usually have to add more for Burda trousers, and nothing at all for Knip’s).read more >>
Now that I’ve got my big winter coat sewing out of the way, I can turn my attentions to filling in a few gaps in my winter wardrobe. Sewing these things now means I can get another good 3-4 months of wear out of them before moving on to short sleeves and lighter jackets (no really, for the past few years we’ve had flurries and hard frosts in April or May).
So I’ve gathered together the patterns I’d most like to sew along with fabrics I’ve got in my stash that would help fill my wardrobe voids…
Starting at the top of this collage, we’ve got:read more >>
As soon as I received the sheep fabric given to me by Brian and Sharon in the post, I knew I’d be making some comfy pyjamas from it in the form of Jalie 2686, which, you’ll remember, I’ve already made in purple silk for my friend Pip.
They’re not quite as luxurious as the silk, but they’ve still got a silky sheen to them, they’re super soft, and the one big advantage over silk is that I can throw these in the washing machine without fear.read more >>
I’m continuing to toil away making Christmas gifts, but due to the fact that my family and friends read this site, I can’t really get away with spoiling the surprise by posting many photos here! But my friend (and will-be bridesmaid!) Pip is a lady who knows what she wants, and who knows to get her gift requests in early, so hers isn’t a surprise at all!
She had a pair of RTW pyjamas that she really liked, except that they were made in polyester satin and she’d much rather they were made of silk for comfort’s sake. So I took her specifications and found that Jalie 2686 was almost identical to her other pair of pyjamas. On top of the fabric difference, Pip also wanted to leave off the chest pocket and turn the half-elastic, half-drawstring waist into an entirely drawstring one, both of which were easy changes with this pattern.read more >>