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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Morgan Boyfriend Jeans

Over the last year or so I've had a few goes at making jeans and while I've been able to successfully construct some lovely, well made jeans none of them have been quite right on the fit front.  A few months ago I had been working on Burda 6798, I loved the style but the waist was coming out enormous while the calf area was alarmingly tight.  I'd made a few adjustments and they still weren't right and I, unfortunately have very little patience for making muslins, so I decided to risk starting at the beginning again and ordered the Closet Case Patterns Morgan Jeans. The style is similar and I figured that if it worked out then I could add the back pockets from the Burda jeans in the future, which were really the main selling point for me.
Well, you could knock me down with a feather because I made a quick muslin for the Morgan jeans and they pretty much fit me exactly out of the envelope. The only issue I had, again, was tight calves and the non issue of the cropped size fitting me as full length pants!  I had measured my calf before choosing a size, the pattern very helpfully includes finished measurements for a number of points on the body and I knew it would be close but thought I'd just squeeze in there.  Upon re-measuring both legs it turns out that my right calf is half an inch bigger than the left one and that had caused the problem.  I'm now wondering if I need to bulk up leftie to match!  Anyway, I figured that sewing the seams below the knee with a slightly smaller seam allowance would give gigantocalf enough room to move and I went ahead and cut out my denim.

My denim came from Doughty's Online and I'm really happy with it so far.  It came out of the wash with a really lovely texture and is a nice medium weight which should be good through to the end of Autumn.

The construction of these jeans was mostly straightforward.  This was my first time sewing a button fly and the directions were very clear and it came out looking neat and professional.  I will however be getting my old machine back out of retirement for the next time I make jeans with proper topstitching thread because it was a mega pain in the arse to keep changing the thread and the tension and the stitch length all the time.  I had a few issues with my machine not really liking the heavy thread so it would have been good to get the set up just right and then not fiddle with it again.  There are a few little thread nests on the inside of my jeans, but I am far too lazy to unpick and start again when it comes to stuff that no one else can see.  I used about a spool and a quarter of Guterman topstitching thread to complete these jeans, including a bit of practice sewing.
The bits I won't be talking about are the corners on the waistband (which are not my best work) and the waistband buttonhole (which caused some very prolonged swearing, followed by tears and despair).  Other that that I couldn't be more pleased.  The baby blue topstitching looks ace, the jeans fit comfortably and I'm really looking forward to trying out different design elements to make myself a mini wardrobe of Morgans.  This pattern gets a great big thumbs up from me and I'm now very, very tempted to order the Closet Case Gingers too to wear with long boots once it starts getting cooler.  I have a feeling you are going to be seeing rather a lot of jeans from me in the coming months!
Smugface!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Style Arc Lola

Hey, how is everyone?  It continues to be very warm here with the last couple of days being blisteringly hot by UK standards.  Except for working I’ve pretty much done nothing but sit still  and pray for rain since Tuesday.  Fortunately while it was still just warm rather than OMG! Hot! I made myself these easy breezy trousers which are lovely for hot weather.  I’ve been seeing lots of people wearing these loose patterned trousers recently and always thought they looked really comfortable but I was a bit worried that I’d look like I was wearing pyjamas so I held off from making any.  I thought that maybe I would try on some while I was out shopping a few weeks ago but Stu told me that they were all sort of horrible and I wasn’t entirely sure he was wrong so I left it.  I still couldn’t get the idea out of my head though and had some fabric that had been hanging out in my stash for years so I just got on and made them.

I plumped for the Style Arc Lola pattern for a couple of reasons. I liked that it had elastic part of the way around the waist with a flat part at the front and I liked the look of the pockets in the drawing.  I’ve had my eye of a few Style Arc patterns so I thought it would be nice to finally try one.  I’d heard that their instructions were a little on the brief side, but I figured at this point that I’ve made enough pairs of trousers to not really need them.  To a certain extent I was right but there were definitely a few points where I was left scratching my head wondering what they were trying to get me to do.
The pockets were the main area of confusion for me.  Looking at the picture I thought they were constructed like hip pockets on jeans, but I turns out that they are more like inseam pockets or at least that is the only way I could understand it.  The instructions are for sewing pockets with zips and they do say you can leave them out but offer no further help with that.  I fudged it as best I could and do have perfectly functional pockets but they do gape quite badly and I don’t know it that is because I did them wrong or if that is the reason for the zips being suggested.  Anyway, if I make these again I will just not bother with pockets and I’ve been wearing these pulled right up with a longer top that sort of holds the pockets shut a bit.

 The rest of the construction was reasonably simple.  The waistband was a bit fiddly and I’m sure there is probably a simpler way to do it, but it turned out fine.  I decided not to bother with elastic at the ankles but I’d definitely stick it in next time I think.  It just goes around the back of the ankle and my trousers do migrate down around my heel a little if I’m not wearing shoes so the elastic would have been helpful.
Ha ha, STILL have my Belladone tan line diamond on my back!
The fabric, if memory serves, is a javanaise viscose I bought ages ago.  It is a little heavier than the really floaty viscoses I’ve made dresses out of and seemed perfect for summer trousers.  I was careful to make sure that the pattern lined up on each leg by drawing around the pattern on the tissue and matching that up when I cut each piece on a single layer.  I’m not sure it’s perfect, but it’s good enough for me.  Overall I’m pretty happy with these, they are comfortable and casual and not too pyjama like so I’ll probably make some more before too long.   Stu is still not a big fan of the style, he complimented me on how well made they looked even if he couldn’t say that he liked them so at least he made an effort to find something nice to say!  He is actually my biggest cheerleader and he regularly proudly shows pictures of my handmade garments to his friends and colleagues so I think we can definitely forgive him for being a bit lukewarm about the odd garment can’t we?

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Burda 6794

With the OAL done for another year I figured I could stop feverishly knitting and concentrate on building up my summer wardrobe a bit more.  I've made a few dresses so I'm trying to bash out a few separates over the next few weeks.

I started with this button up strappy top in a floaty viscose.  I first spotted this top on the envelope of a Burda pattern for jeans, so I snapped it up when I saw it in a recent Burda half price sale.
My first thought was to make the mid length version (please note I almost certainly won't be making the cropped one any time...ever) out of one of Stu's old shirts.  This is still on the cards but I need to take the shirt apart and press out some darts and I wanted to be sure it would fit nicely before doing so.  I pulled this checked viscose out of the stash, I'd been thinking this was a little flimsy for a proper shirt but it might be perfect for this.  Frankly, this fabric has next to no body at all and was a bit of a pest to work with.  I lined everything up vertically as best I could but there are a few spots where the checks take a bit of a wander due to inaccurate cutting or stretching out.  Mostly it's not noticeable but the top of the back is quite obviously dodgy.  Oops, I completely accidentally don't have a picture of that, what a terrible thing to have forgotten!  I didn't bother matching any of the side seams because I'm lazy and it doesn't really worry me too much.
This was pretty easy to sew, there's nothing much complicated going on.  I decided not to use rouleaux straps as set out in the pattern because the thought of turning them was unappealing.  I cut the strips as per the pattern and then sewed them like belt loops, folding each side into the middle, folding along the centre and then stitching flat. They look fine.  Then, instead of turning a hem all around the top and then stitching the straps on last I used a bias facing and sandwiched the straps between the bias and the top so that it was all finished in one.  I found that way quicker and I think a bit neater too.
Then it was just a case of sewing 10 buttonholes and 10 buttons.  My new(ish) sewing machine made pretty short work of the buttonholes and I got them all reasonably even too.  When I make the next one out of the old shirt I will probably just leave the button bands in place which should make for an even quicker project.  I'm still glad I made this one first though because it is probably a size too large, even though it's perfectly wearable and I'd like the next one to be perfect.  First though I really need to sew some bottoms as I've barely any that fit and it's pointless sewing tops if you've got no bottoms!

Monday, 1 August 2016

FO: Spring Fling

Well, it's finished. But did I make it on time to enter it into this year's Outfit Along?  Believe it or not I did, In fact I finished a full 2 days before the deadline, phew!  The weather cooled down just enough for me to crack on which was nice and then Felicity projectile vomited all over the living room (stay with me here) which was not good, but meant that I had to take Friday off work because my mum refused to look after her.  That resulted in a whole day's extra knitting/sewing up time, some of which was taken up with me scrubbing the carpet and the sofa and the rug, oh and Felicity too!
So, was it worth rushing to finish?  That will be a resounding yes!  I love this cardigan.  It is so cute, is really comfortable and goes really nicely with my Belladone dress.  After last year when my chosen dress and cardigan for the OAL looked horrible together this was a huge relief.  I'm a massive fan of the yarn too, I used DROPS Loves You 7, which is 100% cotton and feels really nice to knit with.  Also it's 80p a ball and I used 3 and a bit making this cardigan cost somewhere in the region of £3.
Not only that, but it looks really nice with my Hazel dress too.
As always with DROPS patterns I started by rewriting out the directions so that they didn't make my brain hurt.  I think they took up 5 sides of A4 by the time I had finished but it was totally worth it.  I still managed to make a little mistake by reading my rewritten instructions wrong but the mistake isn't obvious so I'm not pointing it out.  I did end up changing the sleeves by leaving off the lace pattern and just leaving them plain.  I did this for a couple of reasons, firstly I decided it would be quicker and easier than trying to keep track of a lace pattern whilst simultaneously casting off 2 stitches every row and secondly the cardigan already has lots going on with the cabled rib and lace on the body so I figured it wouldn't be missed.  If I do make this again I'll probably used 2x2 ribbing with no pesky cables and then keep the lacy sleeves.
I would be tempted to make this again because this one is already proving to be a very useful garment but I think I'll have to leave it a while until I forget about needed to sew in the sleeves.  In reality it wasn't too onerous a task, but I'm lazy and I hate hand sewing and avoid it as much as possible.  For the moment I'm going to go back and finish my Salted sweater which I put aside for the duration of the OAL and enjoy not having a deadline....at least until I sign up for another challenge!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

OAL 2016 Update

I've barely mentioned the Outfit Along recently and, I won't leave you in suspense, that is because I've been making very slow progress!  Because I'm starting to fear that I might not finish by the deadline I figured I may as well do an update now in case it's a while before I get to do an FO post.
Given that I completed 2 outfits last year I'm feeling a bit perplexed that I'm struggling to complete just one this year.  So what's the hold up?  Firstly is the yarn, I've gone for a 4 ply this time around so while I blasted out a Miette cardi in worsted weight yarn in just over a week last year, progress has been understandably slower this year.  The cable ribbing in particular took for-actual-ever to complete and there was a point where I thought I'd be knitting that bit for the rest of my life!  Once I got past that point the rest of the body went fairly quickly and I started to think that I was home free.  And then....(this is where the excuses start)... I got sick, it got hot, I got super busy and time just slipped away. Of course, in between everything else I also have to work in the evenings (coolest part of the day) so there's that too.
Ordinarily feeling ill would be a nice excuse to sit on the sofa and knit, but I've had this horrible cough and cold that has just taken it out of me, its been a really busy time too so I've just been exhausted.  Of course as soon as I started to feel better then it got really hot and sticky, not ideal knitting conditions for a sweaty betty like me.  Over the last few days I have managed to find some cooler moments in which to knit.  I was pretty happy when I knocked out a sleeve in an afternoon only to realise as I was reading the directions again for the second sleeve that I'd started the decreases too soon and I need to knit it again.  Ugh.  So at this point I have nearly completed the first sleeve for the second time and I'm praying for some cooler weather as the deadline approaches.
Hopefully soon I'll have a finished one a bit like this!
Just in case I seem like I'm complaining too much, I will say that the things I have been busy with have all been really nice and I've had a lovely few weeks.  Cassie has been on several visits to her new school and it's been lovely to see her become excited about starting in September.  I'm finding it hard to accept that she is old enough for school but she is so so ready and I know she is going to love it.  Lissy has been for a couple of visits to her new preschool and she is also really excited to start.  We were all a little worried because she can be very reserved in social situations but she just had the best time.

Cassie also had her preschool graduation which took place at their summer fete so there were loads of people there to watch.  The kids all did a little performance to 'We will Rock You' and Cassie KILLED it.  She was playing air guitar and headbanging for all she was worth, it was epic.  And now I have her home all day, every day until September, I'm undecided on whether this is a good thing or not!

So that's it for my little update, I hope everyone is enjoying the summer and getting at least a little knitting done.  With any luck I'll be back on Sunday with a finished cardi to show off, but perhaps not.  Wish me luck!


Monday, 25 July 2016

Tilly & the Buttons Megan

It has been hot hot hot here the last few days and I haven't been able to do much except wilt on the sofa and occasionally curse because I have to work and that means going outside!  Before the heatwave hit though I finished this Megan dress from Tilly Walnes Love at First Stitch book.
I'm going to be upfront and say that I'm very much in two minds about how much I like this dress and I think that like my last Tilly make, Coco, it's going to take a few wears before I'm truly decided.  In principle this pattern was the one that sold me on the book.  It's meant for beginners and I really don't need a pattern for a headscarf or a gathered skirt but I really liked the look of Megan.  The high waist seemed like a really good idea, particularly as I bought the book a few months after having Felicity and had a few lumps and bumps to skim over.  In reality, however, the skirt continues to be slim around the waist before curving out before the hips so not necessarily the greatest tummy hider after all.  Less of a high waist and more of a high waist seam.  To be fair I did make a size smaller than my measurements suggested so it may be that if I had used the suggested amount of ease it would look different.  I'm fine with it as it is though, Felicity is 2 1/2 now so I'm not feeling the need to hide as much as I did back then!
My real issue with the dress though is the sleeves.  Are they too sticky uppy?  They feel a little costumey to me but maybe it's because I don't have anything else really like it in my wardrobe.  Perhaps in a slightly lighter fabric the effect would be less pronounced. I think that the fact that I tried this on for the first time and looked in the mirror with the sun shining behind me so I looked like a silhouette rather than a person just exaggerated the evil queen shoulder effect!  In reality I think they're ok except when I lift my arms and then they do look a bit weird.

Construction on this one was fairly straightforward as you would expect form a learn to sew book.  The layout of the book is a little annoying to me as someone who already sews because the directions are broken up with boxes and panels offering in depth explanations of techniques.  Obviously this is super helpful to the target audience but led to me having to flip around to identify the actual order of construction style directions.  Of course this is not really a criticism just something which was a bit of a pain for me.
The fabric again is 100% cotton with a slightly ridiculous letter and stamps print on it.  I keep changing my mind about how much I love this fabric which may be part of the reason I'm still undecided on the dress as a whole.  Cassie loves it though and I have plenty left, so expect to see a little letters dress for her before too long.
However, for all my complaining there is plenty to love about this dress.  The shape is really nice, it is very comfortable both for work and home.  It offers pretty good coverage if you, just as an example, got really sunburnt in your Belladone dress and need to hide a bright red diamond on your back!  Because the skirt is slim this uses a modest amount of fabric and has left me plenty out of 2m to make a child's dress.  I'll definitely be giving this one another go in a slightly lighter cotton at some point, just to really see how I feel about those sleeves!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Colette Hazel

Following on from my Adelaide success I thought I'd stick with Colette and make a Hazel dress.  I've had the pattern in the stash for a while and it was about time I made one up.
Weirdly (for me anyway) I made a muslin mostly because I was unsure on size.  I'd made Adelaide in a 4 because of the looser waist, but this dress has a more fitted waist so I wasn't sure if I could get away with it.  At the same time I was worried that the bust would be too large in the 6 so I figured I may need to blend between sizes.  My old sheet muslin seemed fine in the 6 though so that's what I went ahead and cut out.
Construction of this dress was very straightforward.  Rather than following the instructions exactly I pinned and sewed and seam finished all the separate bits production line style rather than doing the bodice and then the skirt and then the facing.  I used an invisible zip like the pattern called for and followed the instructions for sewing the facing around the zip which was really quick and looks super neat.  I can't believe I've never done it that way before but I'm definitely a fan!  All in all this dress only took me a few hours and I had another lovely little summer dress for my wardrobe.
The fabric is 100% cotton and is so bright and vibrant, I love it.  It is perhaps a little heavy considering there is gathering involved, but it's fine really except that it does highlight a few fitting issues that really should be there considering I made a flipping muslin!  Essentially the sheet fabric I used for the muslin was nice and soft and kind of moulded into my body but this cotton is much more structured and stands away from my body, mostly under my arms and around the back.  As I'd suspected there is a bit too much room around the boobs and I'd have been better off sizing down around there.  Oh well, I still like it and I'm dying to make one up in a stripe to really show case the seam lines at the front so I'll be having another go at this one very soon I'm sure.