I’ve been a subscriber of Seamwork magazine since issue one back in December, and can I just say that they are killing it with the digital format, pattern bundling, and freemium vs add-on price point? Seriously, this is the future of not just sewing magazines, but magazines. I’m proud to be both a subscriber and a contributor (look out for more of my writing in the June issue!), to be honest! When I saw the cropped “Astoria” sweater in the April 2015 issue, I just knew I was going to sew it! The nice thing about Seamwork (which is made by the Colette Patterns team) is that subscribers get both patterns on the 1st of the month, but if you’re dawdling and don’t notice a great pattern until someone like me sews it up a month or two later, you can still go back and buy the pdf pattern on its own (and they include Copy Shop versions, too).
All the Seamwork patterns are designed to be sewn in an hour, and, just like the Oslo cardigan I made back in January, this one came together in a single evening. Also, I appear to only make Seamwork patterns in wool jerseys, ha!
I couldn’t believe my luck when this pattern appeared, as I’d just bought some gorgeously soft green merino wool jersey at Mood in NYC mere days before! I’d only bought 2 yards (which I’d regretted once I got home!) for $18/yd, but happily there was enough there to cut the long-sleeved version of this plus still have enough leftover for a winter running buff.
I made size Large since my waist and hips corresponded best to that size, though my bust is a Medium on their chart. At first I made size Large with no alterations, but I wasn’t 100% sold on the fit. It took a whole day of me wearing it to decide that it’d be better with the sides taken in by 2cm (an inch) on each side. In hindsight, I could’ve gone with the Medium, I think.
So I cut off the hem band, took in the sides from the armpits down (taking off the same 2cm from each of the hem band seams, too!), and overlocked the hem band back on, this time with only the minimum seam allowance to avoid shortening the hem any more than necessary. And the fit is waaaaaaaay more to my liking now!read more >>
I don’t often click buy immediately when I see a pattern release, but when StyleArc announced this “Elita designer top” pattern, I had to buy it immediately! Though I’m not entirely sure what makes it designer? I’m especially glad that they released it simultaneously as a printed pattern or a pdf, because I vastly prefer the latter, and it meant I didn’t have to wait for it to ship from Australia before I could get started.
The pattern is essentially a cross-over wrap top, with a shawl collar that extends in front and joins itself to create a really long loop, which the pattern calls a “trunk”. This nomenclature amused me way more than it should! Anyway, you’re supposed to double the loop back over your head to get a sort of double-cowl effect.
I love this design – the first time I wore it I had two friends pleading with me to make versions for themselves! My only gripe on the download is that StyleArc don’t print their symmetrical pieces on the fold, so the entire Back piece had to the pieced together here, when it could’ve saved a significant amount of paper to just have half the piece. It’s also kinda annoying to only have one size per pdf, even though you get three sizes (as separate pdfs) when you order. I’m generally only one size, but this could be a bummer if you usually mix sizes. Their paper patterns are the same, though, so it’s not like the pdfs are any worse.
I had to shorten the “trunk” by 8cm to fit it all into the 2m of mustard yellow wool/viscose jersey I’d bought from Guthrie & Ghani (now sold out in this colourway). Some other reviewers found that the trunk creates a weird, triangular fold at the neck and recomended changing the angle of the trunk piece, but I cut mine as is and I don’t have that fold – perhaps because mine were shortened to begin with? In any case, there’s still plenty of length left to create a nice cowl shape, so I would recommend it if you’re a tad short on fabric, too.read more >>
Last Friday I talked about the new digital magazine, Seamwork and my article on activewear fabrics in the latest issue. Each issue comes with two quick-and-easy pdf patterns, which you can get on subsciption for $6 USD an issue (so they’re $3 each).
I’m a little behind, but on my last day of the Christmas holidays, I decided to sew up the Oslo Cardigan from the first (December) Seamwork magazine. Since this is from a former issue, I’m not sure whether you can actually purchase this pattern anymore (if you subscribe now, you’ll get the January patterns – a very nice bias cami and cuffed leggings).
My measurements fit pretty neatly into their size Medium but all the Seamwork patterns go up to 3XL, which is brilliant for plus-sized sewists! I was really happy with the fit on this cardigan – it’s nice and slim without being either baggy or tight, and the sleeves are the perfect length for me (a little over the wrist). The hem comes down just over my bum.
All the Seamwork patterns claim to be able to be sewn in 2 hours or less. After piecing together the pdf pattern (it also comes with a copy shop version) and cutting out my fabric, it only took 55min for me to sew together!read more >>
Wow, thank you all so so much for your enthusiasm on the launch of my latest patterns! More than one person went and bought all seven of my patterns in one go, too, which is just crazy wonderful! Can you imagine the fun weekends of sewing them all up?? I’ve been totally bowled over by your comments, encouragement, and enthusiasm, and I haven’t even shown you all the great versions I’ve been busily sewing over the past few months yet, either.
I’m going to start with one of the more basic versions, but one that should particularly appeal to those of you experiencing a North American winter right now, as it’s perfect for winter base layers. I sewed this one up in a freaking fantastic merino jersey which has a wicking backing fused onto it. It came from Mill Yardage in America, and I also bought the mustard colourway, too, which I actually love even more than the teal! I highly recommend grabbing 2yds of this if you’d like your own version (I have no affiliation whatsoever!).
Let me first take a minute to introduce Emily, my athlete-model for the ladies’ version of the pattern. Emily runs with me every week at Run Dem Crew, but we also ran the Copenhagen marathon together a few years ago, too. But Emily is a truly talented, multisport athlete – she’s not just a runner, but an avid Cornish surfer, snowboarder, and skateboarder, too. She also cycles just about everywhere in London, so she was the perfect choice to show the versatility of the Surf to Summit Top pattern!read more >>
Sewing a coat is always a big accomplishment, but this coat in particular has been a long time in the making. I first told James I’d finally make him a coat like Benedict Cumberbatch wears in BBC’s “Sherlock” for his birthday back in early December. I drafted up a pattern using the details provided in this livejournal post, then made a muslin for him later that month. With only a few tweaks needed for fit and style (I made the lapels too big, for starters!), I then moved on to purchasing the wool coating, cotton flannel underlining, and black acetate lining.
But this is also where the first delay came in, as he wanted a black wool coating with faint blue and brown checks from Crescent Trading, who turned out to be closed over the full Christmas period, when I was hoping to get a lot of the work done. All of the above are detailed more
in this “progress report” post from January.
I then had more hurdles involving the hem bubbling (which meant I had to baste it in place, flip it back wrong-side out, handstitch, re-press, etc), waiting for some woman on Etsy to make more replica buttons (which we finally gave up on and just made our own with gold enamel paint), and getting the right upholstery thread to do all the buttonholes.
But it’s finished, it looks fantastic on James, and the proportions are really flattering on him, too! So the lengthy making process shall soon fade away in the light of the finished coat. He definitely prefers it open (as dos Sherlock himself), but it can be buttoned up in the coldest of days, too:
It’s a very warm coat, having underlined the body and sleeves in flannel, a trick I picked up in previous coats to stop the wind.
I can’t take the credit for these, as James was having fun with photoshoot ideas!read more >>
I mentioned briefly back in December that, for James’s birthday, I gave him the promise of a custom-made coat in the style of the one Benedict Cumberbatch wears in Sherlock. Or as it will henceforth be known, “the Sherlock coat”.
A few others online have made this coat (including a few FehrTrade readers, hello!!), but I found the most helpful resource to be this livejournal entry from a lady who sketched and measured a lot of the details after analysing screen grabs. This was a big help in taking James’s TNT short jacket pattern and adapting it to look more like the coat on screen!
I first made an approximation on his paper pattern and sewed up a muslin. From this the only real fitting problems were that the upper back was too tight, and the Centre Front needed to be shifted by about an inch, but it was otherwise fine. I guessed a bit wrong on the collar and lapel shape though, but it was fairly easy to just draw a nicer shape onto the muslin itself and transfer it to the pattern.
Once the muslin was settled, I then bought the wool coating (delayed a bit as Crescent Trading were closed over the holidays) – not the exact black and grey small houndstooth used in the original (simply because I couldn’t find any locally), but instead a black/grey/brown check which still had the same feel. I also bought the black acetate lining at the same time, but the black cotton flannel for underlining came from Minerva.
I then settled in for the mammoth task of cutting out all the pieces in wool, underlining, interfacing, and lining, then fusing the crap out of everything that needed interfacing. With two patch pockets (and flaps), plus two welt pockets, two back belt pieces, sleeve cuffs, and a collar, (not to mention facings!), there was a good day taken up just by fusing alone!read more >>
It’s June, I hear you cry – why is she sewing a wool cardigan in June??!? Well, I selected this cardigan in my Spring 2013 Sewing Ideas because I’m a realist, and I recognise that I need a lightweight cardigan for 80% of the British summer! I’m grateful to not have the disgustingly hot & humid East Coast summers I grew up with (nor the swarms of mosquitoes everywhere!) but it does mean some wardrobe concessions must be made.
This cardigan appeared in the March 2013 Burda magazine (or it’s available for purchase as a pdf here) and I thought it was one of the nicest, prettiest, and most versatile cardigan patterns I’d seen in a long, long time.
This is a basic, slim-fit cardigan with shaped, faced bands, front gathers, and button closure. I love the slim fit, the beautifully drafted, curved bands, and the delicate and pretty gathering. I get annoyed when patterns have skimpy gathering, but there’s a nice amount here, which is a great detail and offers bust shaping.
THIS PATTERN RUNS VERY SMALL! One reason I sew so much Burda is because they’re always so consistent, so I’m very, very glad I read the other reviews first.
When I compared the front and back to my self-drafted knit sloper, which has 10% negative ease (perfect for tight-fitting running tops, which is my usual usage), this cardigan pattern was even smaller still! If you can – go up a size, but if you’re the largest size already, like me, I recommend cutting larger seam allowances throughout the waist and hips at the very least. I personally tapered to about 1” allowances on the waist and hips in the side seams, then sewed ~3/8” (1cm) from the edge.read more >>
I’m not actually doing the Burda Challenge again this year, but I keep seeing so many great patterns in each issue that I want to sew – like this quick, gathered raglan merino wool sweater from the February BurdaStyle magazine (or to purchase as a pdf download here). And I am powerless to resist.
I bought this plum merino wool jersey on etsy along with some brown as well – the purple is sold out but there’s some brown merino wool jersey left and it’s luscious and so soft – nice and thing for layering but so warm, too. Amazing stuff! So cheap, too – 5m for £30 is an absolutely steal. I often see Antipodean sewists going on about how lovely merino wool is to sew, but it’s something I’ve never, ever seen for sale in Europe so I jumped on this when I saw it!
(Worn in these photos with the jeans I made in November)
I’ve been meaning to sew both of these pieces for a few months now, but it didn’t occur to me exactly how well they work together until I went to do the photoshoot and realised, hey – these make for a great transitional weather casual outfit!
The wool sweatshirt
I mentioned it in my Burda Challenge roundup but I abolutely adore my turquoise chic sweatshirt from the September 2012 Burda magazine (or you can purchase the download pattern here), and I wear it so much I’ve been plotting another ever since. I’ve had this wool blend fabric in my stash since our honeymoon in 2010, when I bought it at Elliott Berman in NYC. I’m not sure if it’s a jersey or a woven, and it’s got a bit of loft and stretch, but it’s not as spongey as your typical loden. And for a wool, it’s super soft and not scratchy in the slightest.
So I made another “chic sweatshirt” out of this wool – does this make this one my “luxe sweatshirt” or something?
As before, you’ve really got to baste those curved front darts carefully so they’re accurate when you sew them. I always do my hand basting with silk thread (hot pink so it stands out against pretty much everything I sew) because it pulls out so much easier than polyester or cotton thread when you’re done.
I really like the detail of the curved, darted sleeve head, which makes the construction of this more like a raglan sleeve than a set in one.read more >>
A month on, and I’m still ravaged by the shingles attack that hit me in mid-January. Absolutely everyone who saw my torso said it was the worst case they’ve ever seen (doctors included), and lucky, lucky me, the little bugger caused nerve damage, which means the pain in my side could continue on for months or possibly a year (again, lucky, lucky me). I’m on four different prescription painkillers until the neural-specific one hopefully starts working soon, so I’ve been stuck at home Resting (I hate resting.). The good news is that the doctor says I can now go do the odd half day at work and very easy run here and there as it’s driving me crazy not to, but I’m not to overdo things. But even that’s better than being chained to a couch!
Anyway, I’ve done as much resting as it’s humanly possible for Melissa to do, which means I’ve been lying flat on my back and sleeping for most of the days, but I managed to squeeze in some sewing, almost entirely in 5 minute segments, followed by 20 minutes of rest. Rinse & repeat… These will have photoshoots and proper posts coming hopefully next week!
The amazingly simple-to-sew Style Arc Marita dress:
A grey wool “chic sweatshirt”:
A quick, gathered raglan merino wool sweater from the February BurdaStyle magazine:
This coat originally appeared on my Fall 2011 sewing plans, so it feels good to finally finish it just as the weather’s starting to defrost (I hope anyway!). I’ve been wearing my muted turquoise coat for most of the winter, but I’m hoping to wear this to transition into Spring!
I’ve used “coat” in the title, but is it really a coat? Is it a jacket? Where’s the line drawn, anyway? It’s short like a jacket, but wool and warm like a coat, so I’m not quite sure what to call this.
This pattern appeared in the Winter 2011 MyImage magazine (along with that awesome cowl top!) and it’s still available to buy if you fancy it (and holy crap, it’s on sale right now for €1.95/US$2.63, too)!.
You can see some in-progress photos of this coat here and here. The nice thing about working on a project for a while is that you get to see a lot of the “guts” as I work! The downside, of course, is that I have the attention span of a gnat and I get bored when projects stretch over the fortnight mark…
The first thing you notice about this coat is that Big! Collar!! It’s a “whole lotta look”, but I totally dig it. Your mileage may vary! I’ve worn it out twice over the weekend already and the collar is great – it’s substational enough and close enough to the neck that I don’t need a scarf!read more >>
Yesterday I mentioned that I’ve started sewing the asymmetric, collared coat from the Winter 2011 MyImage magazine, and after a prep period that felt like forever (probably exasperated by the fact that my ironing station is hovering around 0C/30F), I’ve now got some progress to show you!
I’m sewing this up in a wonderful purple basketweave/boucle coating, which was another gift from Claire (she’s so good to me!) at the end of last winter. I always like to underline my coats when I can to just add that little bit of extra warmth, but it made even more sense here as it will help to stabilise the coating fabric and prevent any bagging out that might otherwise occur with looser-weave fabrics. The alternative is to block-fuse the coating with a lightweight interfacing, like I did with my Patrones duffle coat.
For this coat, all the facings were interfaced (the usual front and back facings, plus the front and back hip band facings), and pretty much everything else was underlined in black cotton flannel. This meant there was a lot of prep – everything but like 3 pieces needed underlining or interfacing! I love sewing, but prepping is dull dull dull work!
I machine-basted the flannel underlining to the coat pieces here, because frankly, the prep work was tedious enough as it was. I normally hand baste my underlinings, but in this case, the coating and the flannel “grabbed” each other quite nicely, so this, plus the walking foot, plus a long basting stitch meant it felt okay to do it by machine. I still made sure to never turn any corners though (when basting underlinings, you always stitch to the edge, cut the threads, reposition, and stitch the adjacent side so that you don’t create puckers at the corner)!read more >>
There came a point about midway through the construction of this where it suddenly dawned on me that I was creating my second draped collar sweater with pieced sleeves of the month. Clearly the sweater knits in my stash were calling out to me, and I’m naturally drawn to drapey styles. Though I really must remember when I’m in fabric stores that 2m really isn’t enough for long sleeves and a big collar!
This the Michael Kors-inspired, collared sweater from the June 2011 Manequim magazine. Last week I showed you details on the construction of the various pieces and altering the size “Small” pattern to my basic knit tee pattern.
The only problem was, when I was laying out the pattern pieces onto my awesome, ex-Versace sweater knit from Ditto in Brighton I realised that yet again, I didn’t have enough fabric to lay out the sleeves without piecing them, argh! I didn’t want to back down since I’d tried to use this fabric for something else last winter, but 2m of a really narrow fabric really limits your possibilities. So I carried on, introducing two seams in the lower arms. Frankly, sleeves tend to bunch up so much around the sleeves that I find the seams kinda get lost visually around that area anyway.
In the end, I was forced to cut the collar on the bias simply because the fabric was too narrow to place it on the cross grain!read more >>
Paco Peralta is a Spanish couturier who has recently started making some of his designs available to buy as patterns. Late last year I purchased his “Draped Collar Tunic” pattern when he was having a special offer, and I’m so glad I found time to sew it already!
It’s an oversized, hip-length tunic with dropped shoulder and large, draping collar. All his patterns are hand-traced by him, with Spanish and English markings on the pattern tissue, but no included instructions – he’s got good photo instructions for this pattern on his blog though. I made size Medium here according to my measurements, though I could’ve easily gone done to a Small, as there’s a lot of ease in this style.
Bonus – All Paco’s patterns are 10% off right now with the coupon code here!
I had a 80% wool / 20% polyester purple sweater knit I bought at Ditto in Brighton last winter that was SO lush and soft and I just had to use it for this! Funny that Tany also chose to make this in a sweater knit, though she lengthened hers into a dress!read more >>
If you recall, I used this maternity coat from the August 2008 issue of Burda, but after the first muslin we made some design changes (namely, eliminating the band and gathered sleeve caps) and an added dart as a consequence of an FBA (full bust adjustment) so it’s not quite the same as you see in the original tech drawing below…
Apologies for the slight blurriness and busy background – this is why I try not to do photoshoots after dark, but it couldn’t be helped this time around! At least you can see how it fits her, even if the photo quality isn’t great.read more >>
As you recall, last week I underlined Holly’s maternity coat and created all five bound buttonholes, but I had the day off work on Friday so I was able to make loads of progress over my long weekend! In fact, her coat is now 95% finished and ready to hand over, so I thought I’d give you a rundown of what I got up to…
I’m making this maternity coat from the August 2008 issue of Burda, but after the first muslin we made some design changes (namely, eliminating the band and gathered sleeve caps) so it won’t look exactly like this tech drawing:
As I constructed the shell of the coat, I took the extra step here to catch-stitch all the thick wool seam allowances to the flannel underlining. I started off just doing this on the sleeve seams as I feel the bumps are most noticeable during wear there (and therefore most likely to get annoying quickly!), but I carried on and just catchstitched everywhere.
I wanted this coat to be as nice for her as one I would make myself, so why not? I also noted that Gertie was asking last week how to make the seam allowances lie flat on her coat – well, the answer is catch stitching!read more >>
If you recall from last week, my next project is this maternity coat from the August 2008 issue of Burda, which I promised a very good friend:
After we sorted out the fitting and design alterations (including a second, quick muslin fitting of just the upper bodice in the pub toilets on Saturday night!), my first step was to cut out all the pieces in the green wool and then again in the black cotton flannel I’d bought to underline the spongey wool coating and give it a bit more structure. The coating is wonderful, but I’m a bit concerned about it bagging out in places, and I wanted to give it some added stability as well as a bit of extra warmth (though if warmth were my primary concern, I’d call it “interlining” and attach it a bit differently!).
Here’s all the pieces hanging on the line in my tiny sewing room:
I then hand basted all the layers together around the edges of the pieces, plus through the darts, and then also marked out the placement lines for the five bound buttonholes:read more >>
If you recall, it’s a two-part suit, with a draped, collar-less jacket and a pleated pencil skirt:
I’ve been sewing both of the pieces in parallel, so I’ve finished them at the same time. I like a lot of aspects of this suit, but to be perfectly honest, I’m not totally in love with the overall resulting look.
The jacket and skirt together!
Things I really like:
- The lapel-less shawl collar construction
- The asymmetric drape
- The three part, bell shaped sleeve
- The two-tone, piped lining
- The folded and seamed facing on the draped side
- Pretty much everything about the skirt
- Construct and attach the sleeve linings to the rest of the lining
- Interface the jacket hem
- Attach the lining to the jacket around the front facings and neck edge
- Construct the skirt lining and baste to the skirt at the top edge
- Attach the waistband
- Machine-hem the skirt lining
- Machine-stitch some grey lace tape to the bottom skirt edge
- Anchor the lining to the seam allowances at the underarm
- Baste and hand stitch the jacket hem
- Hand stitch the lining hem to the jacket hem
- Hand stitch the sleeve lining hem to the sleeve facing
- Baste and hand stitch the skirt hem
- Mauve bamboo lycra jersey (2m at £9.99/m) – this coordinates nicely with my dark green stretch lace from Paris so I’m thinking I might use these for that Patrones pleated turtleneck…
- Dark grape lace (1m as a gift) – I’m feeling this is crying out to be a luxe skirt, but I need to find a good, beefy knit to underline it or it’d be very chilly indeed!
- Deep purple ex-Prada wool/poly sweater knit (2m at £8.99/m) – I’m thinking I’ll use this to make the cowl tunic from the Winter MyImage magazine after seeing GlobalMom’s version on PR.
- Grey ex-Versace wool/viscose rib knit (2m at £8.99/m) – James picked this out for some winter pyjama bottoms so he has some to wear that aren’t covered in Christmas Homer Simpson (poor man!)
- Cherry red bamboo lycra jersey (2m as a gift) – so many options for this, so the jury is still out.
- May 2008 – The original proposition
- June 2008 – Choosing an interlining
- June 2008 – Muslin fit and alterations
- July 2008 – Tailoring supplies shopping
- January 2009 – Making the bound buttonholes and attaching the microfleece interlining
The drape makes for a rather elegant side view, too:
Things I don’t like:read more >>
I’m beginning to feel like my draped suit (Burda September 2011 #126 and 127) is dragging on forever, so it’s good that I am making progress in the few snatched snippets of time available to me over the past few weeks. I hope you’re not getting too bored yet!
We were out of town this past weekend, up in Sheffield visiting two very good friends of ours in their new place (a house with his’n‘hers sewing machines! We slept in a room with a vintage Bernina!). It’s about a 3.5 hour drive from London, so there was ample time in the car for handstitching, but it did require some planning ahead to get the suit in a state ready for it.
Going back to my earlier To-Do list from last week, I was able to finish the following on Friday night before we left:
I also prepped about 5 lengths of grey and pink thread with beeswax before leaving so that I wouldn’t get horrible tangles while doing all the handstitching. I never used to bother with beeswax, but it seriously does help cut down on the excess tangling, so the time spent waxing and pressing the thread in advance really does save you time and frustration in the long run.
Then, in the in the car ride up to Sheffield and back (and, err, also in the KwikFit waiting room while we had new tires put on) I was able to:
I just love how that hot pink satin piping turned out! You can also see my lace hem tape on the skirt here. This was a pack of lace tape I’d bought at the Amish dry-goods store in Perry County last year, paying 50 cents for it, and with a 1986 copyright on the package!read more >>
I posted about my Fall sewing pattern plans weeks ago, but I never quite got around to showing off my lovely Fall fabrics at the same time, and then I went and bought a little more since I sewed through enough of my stash over the past year to make space for more.
Indeed, the first two fabrics were bought long enough ago from the superlative Ditto Fabrics that I’ve actually already used them!
Well, the day after I bought the above from Ditto’s website, we determined I’d actually be going down to Brighton later that week, so I stopped into their store on the Saturday morning and picked up two more fabrics (along with a good gossip with Ditto’s lovely owner, Gil!).read more >>
There’s been only slow and steady progress on my draped suit (Burda September 2011 #126 and 127) this week as there’s been little time to sew, but I did get a few hours of “me time” in on Sunday evening after my insulation work was done for the day.
Those few hours were enough for me to finish the entire shell of the jacket and skirt, but I needed a clear surface to cut out the lining fabric, so that was delayed until last evening (since my running group was cancelled). Since the wool suiting has stretch, I didn’t want to negate the benefits of that with a non-stretch lining, so I pulled out one of the few stretch wovens in my stash – a blisteringly hot pink stretch satin I’d bought from Fabric.com last year (and came across in my mom’s suitcase before the wedding). Despite it being polyester, it actually feels wonderful and it was worth the price to be such a high quality lining.read more >>
Last weekend I cut out all the pieces for my upcoming draped suit, Burda September 2011 #126 and 127, in the beautiful grey stretch wool suiting I’d bought specifically for it.
Since then, though, progress has been slow. I’ve got an evening class for work every Monday night, I’ve found a wonderful, brilliant amazing running club I go to on Tuesdays, and our weekends are still chock full of boat DIY work as we scramble to get the last outside work done AND the insulation up before the weather turns. Which leaves exactly three evenings left for all of our social activities, and any sewing left to squeeze in. This week I’ve got something on all three of those evenings, too.
So this really leaves progress to be made in very small segments. I’m very good at finding spare ten minute pieces of time here and there, but lately even these have been thin on the ground. Over the past week, I only managed to work on this jacket twice – on Wednesday night I fused all the necessary pieces with Pam’s weft-insertion interfacing and vilene bias tape, and then Sunday afternoon I actually managed to get a few hours of sewing done once I’d done 3 hours of insulation work and the dust settled enough in the hold for me to get out my ironing board.
Beyond that, while we were working on the construction part of the boat, something happened to the 24v cabling and so the lights in the bedroom, sewing room, and one other area no longer work. So my sewing room is very dark now, even when it’s light outside! Please accept my double apologies for the quality of these photos – I had to light the area with a headtorch while taking these on my (soon to be upgraded, yayyy!) old iPhone 3G camera.read more >>
Let me start by saying that I hate drop-crotch trousers! Hate.
These are not drop-crotch trousers.
I chose these because the crotch is where it should be – they are in no way “Hammer pants”, let’s be clear about that! But there’s a large pleat that runs from the right knee up to the mid-left waistband that creates the drapey folded roominess instead.
I was instantly drawn to KnipMode 01/2011 #5 when I saw it, but since I made these I realise that the idea must’ve been stewing in my subconscious for quite some time, as carottesauvage made an awesome similar pair last year, Burda magazine actually had something similar in the Plus section back in August, and KnipMode had a less severe draped version all the way back in September 2009(!) that I found going back through my archives.
So even though these feel absolutely bleedin’ cutting edge, the idea has been floating around for a while now. I made these with a gorgeously soft made in 80% wool / 20% acrylic flannel (bought from Fabric.com in Dec 2008 for $14/yard) that tends to look either pale green, slate blue, or even brownish depending on the light. In order to shield my skin from the wool and prevent the knees from bagging out, I entirely underlined these in black silk/cotton voile. I had to hand baste these two layers together to keep them nicely aligned and not bubbling, and this took a couple of evenings.read more >>
The next garments in my post-coat sewing plans are two pairs of KnipMode trousers to fill a quite serious hole in my wardrobe as a bunch of my trousers and jeans all seem to be wearing out at once!
One pair is KnipMode 01/2011 #5 made in wool/acrylic flannel (bought from Fabric.com ages ago) and entirely underlined in black silk/cotton voile with a sort of satin weave to it.
The other is KnipMode 08/2010 #13 made in steel corduroy which I bought at Goldhawk Road yonks ago!read more >>
After sewing through my two Ditto fabrics I received at Christmas in record time, I’ve gone and ended up with five new fabrics from them! A few Saturdays ago we drove down to Brighton (via Lewes) with friends so I had to stop in at their shop in the North Laines, and then last weekend Pip gave me two more fabrics for my Christmas pressie! Yay!
Here they are:
From L to R above:
Hooray, my winter coat is finally finished! As you may have seen with all the coat sewing activity going on around the internet lately, making your own coat is no mean feat! While you’re perfectly able to take some shortcuts, it’s still a several week time investment no matter how you look at it. It’s for this reason that lots of us chose to sew them over the holidays, as it doesn’t feel like quite such a long ordeal if you’ve got several full days to devote to it at one stretch.
If you remember, I used Patrones 285 #29, but with the collar from #28 and major changes to the pockets so that I can easily put my hands inside while I walk to work (which I did today wearing it! yay!). After a muslin, the main changes I made were to lower the waist seam to match my natural waist, shorten and widen the front darts, add walking ease to the lower centre front, and change the pocket design.
I’ve already made a lengthy post about the coat construction and hair canvas interfacing, plus tons of HAWT handstitching action, so if you’re interested in the couture techniques I used or some interior shots of the coat shell, please click through before reading on…read more >>
About a year ago I bought some gorgeous, ex-Burberry wool coating fabric from Ditto with plans to eventually make another winter coat. The muted turquoise wool has a patterned herringbone weave on one side but it’s also very thick and un-drapey but has the advantage of not fraying at all (almost like a boiled wool or Melton).
The fabric is so thick that I knew had to choose my pattern wisely, leaving out coats with lots of pleats or gathers that would’ve meant lots of bulk here.
As soon as I saw the Armani knockoff coat in the September Burda issue, I thought I’d found the match for my fabric, but as you recall, that pattern was just downright awful. So I started looking through my coat patterns again for something suitable, and Claire (Seemane) suggested I combine Patrones 285 #29 with some elements of the other coats in that issue, which is more or less what I ended up doing (though I need to change my tech drawing here to show the applied welt pockets I finally decided on rather than buttoned welts).read more >>
(Dutch readers – who is Odette Simons, anyway? Dutch celebrity? Fashion designer? Stylist? She’s appearing in most issues these days and it’s bugging me…)
I just loved the shape of the yoke and pockets on skirt #7 from the January 2010 KnipMode. Essentially they’ve just drawn a bunch of lines onto an A-line skirt pattern which you then cut apart to be the wide yoke, the main skirt body, the pocket backing, and the pocket facing. All that pattern piece reusing means you actually only end up tracing 3 pattern pieces (front, back, and pocket) because you cut up the pieces as you go along. So the top of the skirt back pattern gets cut off for the facing, the skirt front gets cut apart for the yoke, the pocket back, and the facing, etc.read more >>
You saw the jacket as part of a classy suit, but how does it work with jeans?, I hear you ask.
As it turns out, even better!
I actually prefer this jacket hanging open instead of buttoned up (which is why I left off the button loop at the very top of the collar stand and the small button hidden under the collar that the pattern suggested).read more >>
Last week I finished the first half of my second Planned Partnership, so I think that makes me exactly one half finished (right, Sharon, resident maths professor?). Though I suppose if you’re counting individual garments, I’d be slightly over halfway finished…
But I digress. You remember the silver tweed fabric and my plans to make a cropped jacket that I could wear with either a matching skirt or with a nude sheath dress (yet to come)?
Well, I’m so delighted with the way both the jacket and skirt turned out that I couldn’t wait to show you! So in the tradition of that other tweed suit, you get a sneak preview!read more >>
With the first Planned Partnership done & dusted in the form of my techno skirt and sequin top, it’s been time to start concentrating on another pairing – the pale silver tweed to go with the nude stretch suiting…
I decided to go with the bottom jacket seen above, so I traced all the pieces of it and the skirt pattern, playing it very carefully and was able to fit BOTH the cropped jacket and the skirt out of the 1.5m of tweed I’d bought! Woohoo! It was by no means certain, but my powers of fabric Tetris prevailed and I’m rather proud.read more >>
Ahhh I finally get my designer fix! Patrones may have stopped attributing designer names to their patterns, but it hasn’t stopped me from adding my own glamour to the mix… This short sleeved top with an interesting gathered and buttoned triangular collar is no1 from the latest issue of Patrones magazine, #285:
So where does the Prada come in? Well, the fabric is a gorgeous ex-Prada olive wool interlock from Ditto Fabrics in Brighton. I’ve only ever sewn wool jersey once before, and after the struggle I had to keep that from rolling onto itself in both directions, plus having to use double layers to keep it from being see-though, I wasn’t overly keen to sew with it again.
But oh my god, the difference between these two fabrics is like night and day! This wool interlock is just beautiful – it washed up a dream, behaves beautifully in the overlocker and sewing machine, presses and molds the way you want it to, and is just SO soft you’d never guess it was wool at all. Honestly, this stuff is just amazing to touch.
If you remember, I had some difficulty visualising how the pattern pieces fit together in this top, partially down to my not speaking Spanish, but also due to the 2D nature of the technical drawings and the one limited magazine photo. So I made a paper model to help figure out that the collar actually is detached from the neckline in front (the neckline being bound by a bias strip) and the sleeves have pleats on the upper arm where they meet the sleeve band. If you’re interested in the construction of this pattern, I recommend you open the earlier post in another tab now to refer back to while you look at the perty photos!read more >>
(I fear I’m a few days too late for a “Trick or Tweed” post title!)
I’m starting to get into the Fall/Winter sewing mindset now (having almost entirely missed this summer, it’s a bit of a stretch), so what better says cold weather than a nice tweed skirt? After browsing through my pattern magazine archive, I finally decided on the rather recent Skirt 110 from the September 09 Burda magazine.
I chose this skirt because I really liked the big front pleat that conceals the two single welt pockets, and having that large pleat means there’s plenty of walking ease. I tend to walk really fast and with a large stride, so I always need a walking slit or pleat in my skirts. The fabric is a great wool (with a bit of synthetic thrown in, according to my burn test) tartan with lots of earth colours and even a thread of blue running through it, which is great for classic Fall and Winter looks. I mentioned before that this fabric was also a gift from my neighbour Helen, who had kept it from her fashion school days and thought I’d make better use of it than her spare room storage!
I already wrote about creating the single welt pockets, which took as much time to sew as the rest of the skirt combined, but here’s the end result!read more >>
I’ve sewn as far as I can now on the KnipMode Weekend Bag without the extra laminate – I’ve finished the lining, the three exterior pockets, and joined the two main pieces, but the next step is to attach the zipper to the long strips adjacent to it, and those are the bits I ran out of laminate for (oh, I decided to be lazy/cheap and forego the piping, btw).
So rather than twiddle my thumbs while I wait for the postal strike to run its course, I thumbed through my fabric stash instead to get some inspiration for some “me sewing”, after making so many christmas presents (which I can’t show you til December since the recipents visit here, sorry). Funny, but the two fabrics that jumped out at me the most were two I didn’t buy at all – a browny tweed tartan wool and a royal blue tartan sheer silk. Both are remnants, and both were gifted to me by my neighbour Helen.
My next step was to go through my pile of pattern magazines and find suitable patterns for them both, and I ended up with:read more >>
By now, you should be fully familiar with Patrones #261-17, the spring duffle coat I’m making in turqouise basketweave wool…
After all, first it won the public vote, then you heard about how I bulk fused the tricky wool, then you saw all about my muslin and the resulting fit alterations, then you saw how I dealt with the tricky hood seam allowances and finally, last week you got a chance to see the bound buttonholes and the finished shell.
I’ve been concentrating on assembling the lining (and the lining pocket) all weekend, and finally finished all the handsewing at Monday night’s moorings crafty club!read more >>
Are you thoroughly sick of the sight of the Patrones spring coat yet? Well, too bad, because it’s taking me forever!
The good news is, I sailed smoothly over the speed bump that caused me so many headaches and delays in making my winter coat – the bound buttonholes. I’d already decided that with such a thick, loosely woven fabric that’s so prone to unravelling, that I’d use the satin bias tape I’d bought for binding the hood seam allowances to also make the bound buttonholes.
So I pressed the satin bias tape flat, cut it down to 1/2 inch wide strips, then folded these in half (right sides out) to make the buttonhole “lips”. After basting my ladder stitches on all the coat tabs, I did the usual technique of sewing these lips to the right side and cutting open the buttonholes.
But here’s where I deviated a bit – since my wool unravels so much, I knew that trying to stitch those tiny triangles at the ends would just be an exercise in futility, so I pulled out some lightweight knit interfacing and cut out a tiny strip. I then pulled the triangles to the back and fused the interfacing over top to keep them out of the way:read more >>
Since I’m not entirely confident of how Patrones patterns fit me, and I’m equally not confident that I am a size 44 anymore (well, I was when I traced it 18 months ago, argh), I decided to play it safe and make a bedsheet muslin for my Patrones spring coat before cutting into the basketweave wool. If you remember, this is the coat:
And this is how the muslin looks straight off the pattern sheets:read more >>
Now that I’ve finished all my other spring projects (the Colette dress is coming, sorry for the delay!), I can now devote all my available energy toward making my spring coat, Patrones #261-17, as voted on by all of lovely you!
Also sewing along with me are Zoe (whom I borrowed and traced the pattern from originally!) and Houkje, who’s also tracing and joining in a bit later on, creating our own London-Patrones micro-Sewalong!
First off, Zoe says:
I took a quick photo this morning of the fabric I’m using for the coat.
The wool on the left is a remnant from the cloth house and not enough
for the whole coat. The velvet on the right is for the hood, button
tabs and possibly the collar if I don’t have enough of the wool for
that. I bought some great brass toggles on Walthamstow market (couldn’t
find them a 6am without waking the family up), but forgot about the tabs
on the sleeves so I need to get back soon to get some more. I’m looking
for a two tone lining in beige and turquoise to match the stripes in the
wool, but no joy so far. Need to find time to get over to Shepherd’s
bush I think.
Whereas for my coat, I’ll be using that great, soft teal basketweave wool, bulk fusing it with lightweight interfacing, before cutting, then overlocking all the cut edges to prevent fraying and unravelling.
I’ve got 4 yards of the wool, but only ordered 3 metres of the Vilene H180 lightweight interfacing. Only I forget it was super narrow, so by the time I laid it side by side on the wool, I only had about 1.5m of the wool covered. So I’m waiting to see if I can lay out all the pattern pieces that wouldn’t normally be interfaced onto the bulk fused section, and the pieces like the collar, facings and button tabs onto a section that I’ll cover with heavier interfacing to avoid having to buy more. Confused? Don’t worry, this plan might fail anyway…read more >>
I’ve got lots of turquoise basket weave wool coating that I bought from Fabric.com on a deep discount the same time I bought that gorgeous faux fur, and I’m envisioning it as a great spring coat (believe me when I say it’s the perfect weight for London springtime, okay?). But I’m torn between three different coat patterns, so maybe you all can help me decide?
1. Patrones #261-17 – Pros: It has a hood, and big pockets, and it’s already traced, since it from an issue I borrowed from Zoe ages ago! Cons: I’m not as confident on Patrones’s sizing so a muslin is a must, and it’s not got any pockets (Wtf?) so I’d have to add on some patch pockets.read more >>
I bought some beautiful cream wool jersey from A-Z Fabrics on Goldhawk Road last time I was there, and I figured it’d be the perfect all-season fabric for layering or for wearing alone. By the time I bought it, though, my funds were a bit depleted, so I only grabbed a meter and a half as it was quite pricey at £10 a meter. I was instantly imagining it as a turtleneck but without any fully formed details in my mind. Then I was reminded of BWOF 08/08 #118 (an issue I’d previously overlooked) and saw that this was definitely what I had in mind, albeit shortened to a top.read more >>
I was planning on sending my mom some flowers since she’s so full of worry for me right now. I even went as far as getting the number for their local florist and looking at bouquets online, but they just seemed so impersonal… But then, when I was on Goldhawk Road, I saw this dusty rose wool sweater knit in a shop and I instantly thought of my mom. For years, whenever anyone asked what her favourite colour was, she’d always reply with “dusty rose”.
So I had a look through my pattern archives and saw this fantastic cowl neck sweater in the very first KnipMode I ever bought (actually in a supermarket in Steenwijk, on one of the trips when we were buying our boat)!
I think I must’ve got my love of interesting necklines from my mom, so I knew this was the pattern for her! And it just so happened to be plus sized, so I could combine a few sizes easily to get a cowl-necked sweater that was perfectly her!
It was a complete surprise and my dad helped to keep it that way until it arrived, and she said it made her day. So mission accomplished. :) And here’s some more shots of it on my dressform, so you can see the neck shape and how it drapes nicely into place…read more >>
I joined The Great Coat Sew Along all the way back in May because I’d never made a coat before and it seemed like a great opportunity to gather together with like-minded people and learn an awful lot, too! Even though I (and others) really fell behind on the timeline, I’m really proud to have finally finished my coat while it’s still cold out and to have learned a huge amount of techniques that I never would’ve on my own! So I owe this coat to Marji, really, for setting up and organising the Sew Along, and I’m already planning my next coat…
But for this coat, the pattern was BWOF 09/2005 #102:
I made a huge amount of alterations on the pattern: raised the waist by 1”, lengthened the arms by 1.5”, added a wedge to the lower centre front for walking ease, widened the top sleeve (and shoulder seam) by 1”, and increased all the vertical seams below the chest by about 1/2”. And then on top of all that I changed the pockets and added the interlining, too! It’s probably more alterations than I’ve done on all my other 2008 patterns combined! But as much as BWOF usually fits me straight off the sheet, this pattern didn’t really have enough wearing ease to fit big sweaters underneath…
Previous posts about this coat
Ok, ok, enough with the backstory, here’s the photos!read more >>
Cast your mind back to the heady days of May, when I decided to join hands with the internet and start in on The Great Coat Sew Along, with this beautiful long coat pattern from BWOF 09/2005 #102:
(There are two similar views – mine’s using the exposed buttons and sleeve tabs of 102, but the in-seam pockets of 101.) Anyway, I got as far as the material gathering, muslin fit and alterations, and even sewed together the body pieces of the coat before I lost momentum in August. The half-finished coat has hung in my sewing room ever since, taking up valuable space and making me feel bad every time I glanced at it, but the abnormally freezing cold temperatures we’ve had in London have made me jump back in with both feet to get this finished, because I could really use this on my daily walking commute to work. I’ve got a RTW long wool coat, but with the wind and extreme cold we’ve had, I can feel the cold through what I’ve got now (the papers are gleefully reporting that, at -10C, London is colder than Antarctica right now, and I’ve lost count of the number of Russian-style fur hats I’ve seen out and about).read more >>
I’m only a hem away from finishing a pair of high waisted, wool trousers from the fabulous Patrones 272:
I’ll leave the fine details for the final photoshoot and review, but I’m just so proud of my very first welt pockets. Progress on my wool coat has been stalled for the last few months because the thought of doing the bound buttonholes has just intimidated and overwhelmed me, so I thought I’d make my first attempts at welt pockets first since they’re essentially the same thing, but on a less tiny (and fiddly) scale.
There are tons of instructions on the internet for welt pockets, but I used the supplemental instructions from the Aug 2008 BWOF since I could just have it lying open on my ironing board as I worked. The diagrams were particularly useful, and I think my first attempts turned out great!read more >>
It’s definitely the chilly season here again, and since I’ve had the pattern and material for a few weeks and I hit a lull in my Christmas sewing (I’d finished everything I could and I’m waiting on patterns and fabric for the last gift!) it seemed the perfect time to make Burda 7724. I used the purple and black flecked wool sweater knit I bought for £7.50 from A to Z Fabrics on Goldhawk Road here in London (and I’ve got a little left for mittens and a hat!). It’s just so warm and comfortable that I (shh!) wore it three days straight after I made it!read more >>
And now, the finale in my tweed and satin three piece suit, the flirty kick skirt, BWOF 08/2006 #103! Yes, it’s all business in the front, and sex appeal in the back with those curvy seams and slim pencil stylings…
The back view is where the fun starts!read more >>
Almost a year ago I saw and instantly fell in love with this Trina Turk capelet:
Around the same time, the lovely ladies at Go Patterns sent me their new capelet pattern, #2002 after I was so impressed with their little black dress pattern. Really, how nice of them!
Looking at the two together, I instantly saw the possibilities, but didn’t quite get around to finding the right fabric or the time last winter, but this year it all came together to form this sweet little capelet…read more >>
My tweed and satin three piece suit is finally finished! One day for the construction, and a week to get around to do the hand sewing! Here’s a taste…
More on the individual components this week…
Read more about…
As part of my project to sew my winter coat, I’m finding it tricky to source suitable interlining and lining fabrics here in the UK without resorting to expensive overseas shipping prices.
Following Kay Y’s experience with the 150gsm Thinsulate, I rang up Pennine Outdoor who stock it here in the UK and got their advice on suitable warm interlining fabrics. They stock a huge range of outdoor and sport fabrics, so I spoke to a lovely lady on the phone who helped me through my choices. She ultimately recommended microfleece as the best warm, lightweight, and draping choice for me, but conceded that it wasn’t windproof (but that using a silk twill lining would probably help the wind anyway). The only windproof fabric they stock is very bulky and doesn’t drape nicely, and when I enquired about Meraklon, she said that it was tubular and stretchy and also had a bad drape and that it was more suitable for linings of close-fitting garments.read more >>
I’ve been planning on sewing myself a new winter coat for a while now, and I’ve been lurking on Marji’s Great Coat Sew Along site (currently members-only) for a bit, but after I saw her timeline, I finally realised I can jump right in and sew this alongside all my other summer sewing! So the month of May is where we’ll be gathering supplies, then doing muslin fitting in June, and finally starting the coat construction in July in order to hopefully finish in September.
The more I thought about it, the more I felt confident I could stick to that schedule, and now our renovation plans are looking likely to include the demolition of my temporary sewing room in the fall (to make way for our bedrooms and our lounge) so I may not have a place to sew my coat if I wait any longer!
As you know, I’ve already bought my exterior fabric – some gorgeous charcoal grey, 100% wool coating fabric from Rosenberg’s.read more >>
I had the day off yesterday, but I did not sew a single stitch. Yes, I am feeling okay, but I was looking a bit green yesterday…
This week I’ve been mostly busying myself with gathering materials for future projects. I ordered some gorgeous charcoal grey, 100% wool coating fabric from Rosenberg’s (they’ve got lots more fabric than what’s listed on the site!) which will be made into a new, long overcoat for next winter (I doubt I’ll be ready in time for Marji’s coat sew along, sadly!):read more >>
If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that my grandmother visited the Pendleton woollen mill in the 1960s and bought two 2 yard remnants of 100% wool navy blue suiting fabric for $6 each (so $12 total). In August, she gave these to me, saying she’d never got around to sewing up anything with them and she thought I’d make better use of it.
The trousers were far more straightforward than the jacket, however, so they didn’t take nearly as much time or seam ripping to complete! I wanted to tie together the satin accents of the two pieces so I opted to add a thin stripe of navy blue satin ribbon to the outside seams of each trouser leg, which I think gives a subtle sheen as I move. The integral belt/waistband of this pattern really evokes a sort of cummerbund, too, and raises this design above just a normal trouser suit.read more >>
I’ve been working on the jacket portion of my tuxedo-inspired suit (the show piece from my F/W 07 Collection) for the better part of January now, and I finally finished it this week. I cut out the pieces for the trousers at the same time to ensure I had enough fabric for both (I do, with about a half yard left over!), but sewing both at once would’ve really just resulted in missing pieces!read more >>
I’m making good progress on my tuxedo-y suit using my grandmother’s vintage Pendleton wool. I’ve done the single welt pockets (a first time for me!) and the construction of the jacket body, and I’m now working on the many collars and lapels. The placement of the welt pockets (which are hidden under a front flap) is way too high, though, and the pockets are too narrow to be useful, though – this is the second time I’ve had BWOF jacket pockets be waaaay too narrow for my hands to fit through, so I must remember that for next time.read more >>
Due to popular demand, the latest addition to my FW/07 Collection is the Go Patterns little black dress, 4001. This dress is not one to be taken lightly, as you’ll remember from my fitting session – it’s much more of an exercise in couture techniques than a quick dress you can whip up in an evening. At several points I got a bit frustrated with my glacial progress and the amount of hand sewing, but the end result is just… breathtaking.read more >>
As part of my FW/07 Collection, I decided to embrace the menswear trend and create a pinstripe suit, borrowing from classic tailoring, but updating it all with feminine elements.read more >>
I ponied up the $1.50 (76p) for BurdaStyle’s Alexis 7945 skirt on Monday. On Tuesday, I printed out all the sheets, taped them together, then trimmed them down to size 42. On Saturday I got out some offcuts of grey summer wool leftover from my Mouret Galaxy dress and some assorted bits of lining, and sewed it up right then and there.
And then on Sunday we dropped a fridge on my foot. Oww. So pardon the fact that I’m barefoot, but at least the X Rays say it’s not broken.read more >>
After seeing celeb after celeb wearing Roland Mouret’s fantastic Galaxy dress and spouting the true wonders of its inner spandex core, I was very excited to see that Vogue produced its own version of the Galaxy dress, Vogue 8280, and I bought it immediately.
Fast forward several months and I finally had the time (and the small waist!) to make this dress using the gorgeous grey tartan wool I’d bought especially for it alongside the pattern. It took me two days of sewing after quite a bit of prep work, but I thoroughly enjoyed making this dress and I absolutely love the end result! It may not have the magical spandex core, but it does have a fully lined bodice and a neat skinny belt I made to further acentuate the nipped-in waist.read more >>
I downloaded this jacket pattern by designer Yohji Yamamoto a few years ago, but I never really got any further than that until I discovered a late-open Kinkos in central London that could large-format print the free pdf for me (because, frankly, I have better things to do with my time than print and tape together 54 sheets of A4 paper!). With the pattern in hand, it was only a matter of days before this jacket was keeping me warm.
This jacket is such an interesting design – it only has two pattern pieces, and can be worn two different ways. I’m actually not sure which way I prefer it, so I’ll let you all decide (leave a comment telling me which view you prefer!).read more >>
I was already making a jacket and skirt out of some gorgeous wool suiting fabric (photos of the jacket & skirt HERE!), so I made this bag out of scraps of fabric leftover from the suit (and the lining of the bag is scraps from the lining of the jacket!). I freehanded the pieces to make it match the magazine photo, but spruced it up with some wide white lace, hot pink stitched flower, and some sparkly beads.read more >>