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Ultimate Trousers

Last month I did the Ultimate Trousers Class at Sew Over It in Islington. I hadn’t been to a sewing class since my intro to sewing course almost two years ago. Since then I’ve mainly made dresses and tops and I thought I should really try and tackle trousers but thought that I could do with a bit of help. I’m so glad I decided to do the class! It was so nice to learn together with other sewers and the teacher was really experienced and just so lovely as well.

One of the great things about the class is that they have toiles of all the different sizes there, so before cutting out the fabric you can try on different sizes to see which is the best fit. That was such a big help and I always get a bit bored when making toiles as I already know that I won’t be able to wear it and I’d rather be working with my nice fabric. Having the toiles there to try on was great for choosing which size to cut out. And the teacher also measured us as well and helped with adjustments.

Would you like to guess how much length I had to add to accommodate my stupidly tall body? 7.5 inches plus hem! The teacher also pointed out where the best point of adding that length is, so that I wouldn’t end up with knees in an odd place or anything like that.

I had chosen a fabric from Sew Over It as well. It’s this black and white tiny houndstooth cotton stretch fabric.

Product Image

(Image from Sew Over It)

It’s got just the right amount of stretch to give the trousers a bit of ease when sitting down and the teacher recommended adding some stay tape (at least I think that’s what it’s called – I should have written this down!) to the waist to keep the waist from stretching when I wear them. That was such a good tip as otherwise they’d probably just get baggier and baggier with every wear.

Apart from the additional length I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern, but I think if I make another pair I might try and do something about the strange wrinkles in the ahem crotch area. I didn’t quite finish my pair in the two evening sessions we had, so I finally finished them last weekend and then wore them on a stroll through the park to get some photos in actual daylight for a change.

Ultimate Trousers_front

You can’t really see the pattern of the fabric in these pictures very well, but my boyfriend who took the pictures thinks that it made him feel a bit dizzy when he looked at them for too long, so maybe that’s a good thing. 🙂

Ultimate Trousers_side

I think they might need some tweaks, but overall I’m pretty happy with these. I can’t actually remember when I last had a pair of trousers because I really struggle to find ones that are long enough for me, so that’s quite exciting!

I can really recommend the class if you’re a bit daunted by attempting to make trousers. I was too, but the teacher was really great and so helpful!

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Betty Dress in Navy and Yellow Dots

Oh dear, I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last blog post. First work was really busy and by the time I got home and had dinner i just didn’t have it in me to sit down and sew. I then started on a project but my heart wasn’t really in it, so it was just lying there for weeks and I didn’t touch it.

But then three things happened.

  1. My friends decided to have a 50s theme for their wedding
  2. Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani wrote a blog post about Sew Over It’s Betty Dress and
  3. The wonderful Karen from didyoumakethat.com announced the Made Up innitiative in support of the National Literacy Trust

And so I decided to abandon the project that was just gathering dust in the corner anyway and to try and make a Betty dress in time for my friends’ wedding on 22nd August.

I had never made anything for an occasion before, so I’d never had to work to a deadline, but I managed to finish it by getting up an hour earlier in the mornings and fitting in an hour’s sewing time before work. And I think I’ll try and do the same for other projects as it really worked well.

When Lauren featured Sew Over It‘s Betty Dress as part of her Summer Dress Season blog series I just fell in love with it (you can find the blog post here)! I also immediately fell for one of the fabrics she suggested. A cotton with a cream background and navy, yellow on turquoise dots randomly scattered across each other. You can still find it in her online shop here. And I have to say the fabric was a dream to work with! It’s fairly light, but not light enough that you’d have to worry about lining it. It’s not see through. And it hardly frayed at all, which made life so much easier. I really enjoyed working with this fabric.

I traced a size 12 from the pattern and made a toile of the bodice. Based on that I decided to add an inch to the length of the bodice (I might have mentioned that I’m very tall before…) and also shaved off about one cm at the bottom of the armholes. I often find that armholes are a bit tight for me on sewing patterns, so doing this makes them a lot more comfortable.

Here’s the finished result (worn with a petticoat):

BettyDress_front

(I didn’t have a good picture of me from the wedding, so this is just the day after in my parents’ garden.)

I really love this dress! The sheer amount of fabric was quite daunting just because I’d never made anything with a full circle skirt before, but I’m really happy with the finished result. The most difficult bit were the straps. When I first read the instructions I couldn’t quite get my head around how it was going to work, but then I just worked through them really slowly and told myself to trust the good people at Sew Over It – they know what they’re doing after all! And it all worked out in the end.

I really like the low back (and the fact that it’s not too low, so there’s no danger of bits of bra peaking out):

BetyDress_back

When I first inserted the invisible zip it really didn’t deserve the name ‘invisible’. There was quite a lot of it showing on both sides. I was almost tempted to leave it as I was a bit pushed for time but then I noticed that all I had done wrong was not adjusting the position of my needle. So I just went over it again with the needle positioning adjusted so it was as close as possible to the zip and voila! I’m so glad I fixed it, I think it would have really bugged me if I had left it the way it was. I think it’s my best invisible zip so far.

Just one note on the amount of fabric required: on the pattern envelope it suggest 3m of a 140cm wide fabric for all sizes, but based on Lauren’s comments in her blog post I only ordered 2.5m of that width and it was plenty for a size 12. I probably could have gotten away with slightly less, but the fabric is so lovely that I’m sure I’ll put the left overs to god use on a smaller project at some point.

And because the full swooshy circle skirt is just the best, here’s a swooshy twirly shot:

BettyDress_side

I’m really happy with this dress and I’m so glad I managed to finish it in time for my friends’ wedding.

And that also means I completed my challenge for the Made Up initiative in time!

If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s an initiative in aid of the National Literacy Trust where you set yourself a creative challenge to be completed by 10th September and donate some money to go towards the National Literacy Trust. You can find all the details here on Karen’s blog. I think it’s a wonderful idea and there’s still some time to take part if you fancy it. It’s for such a good cause.

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Simple Sleeveless Top x2

For my next make I wanted a simple dressmaking project and something that I could hopefully make again and again just in different variations. And I think I found exactly that in the Simple Sleeveless Top which is another pattern from Learn To Sew With Lauren by Lauren Guthrie from Guthrie & Ghani.

Lauren recently posted some really useful additional instructions on her blog about adjusting the fit and also adding a yoke section and pin tucks.

For my first attempt, I decided to make a toile to assess the fit. I don’t usually do this because I’m too impatient and I just want to get going with the nice fabric straight away (and also because I often don’t have a cheap fabric in the same weight as the fabric I want to use, so a toile might not be that accurate anyway). But I decided that since it’s such a simple pattern I should really take my time and get the fit right. And Lauren’s tutorials came just at the right time!

I cut a size 12 to make my toile and then adjusted the neckline at the back by taking out about an inch as it wasn’t sitting flat against my back. This is something that I find quite a lot with things that I’ve made and also with shop bought clothes, so now I know how to fix that. Lauren’s instructions were really helpful! The top was also quite baggy around my lower back, so I also pinched out some fabric there. Once I was happy with the toile, I unpicked the side seams so I could lay the the adjusted toile over my pattern piece. I traced around it and then also added 3cms in length because I’m quite tall.

And then it was on to proper fabric.

For my first attempt I used a cotton poplin in wine with mustard polka dots from minerva crafts (you can find it here). It was really easy to work with, so perfect for a stress free project.

SimpleSleevelessTop_Polka_Front SimpleSleevelessTop_Polka_Side

The armholes and the neckline are bound with bias binding. A technique I hadn’t used before, but I will definitely do this again! It’s such a nice finish. As my bias binding was a slightly different colour to the main fabric (I guess that’s what happens when you buy it on the internet and can’t match the colours properly) I decided to hide the binding on the inside.

For my second attempt I chose a cotton lawn with a tree pattern (also from minerva – you can get it here). This was also really nice to work with but the edges frayed quite a bit, so I decided to go for French seams on this one. I do like French seams. They’re just so neat. I also shaved off about a centimetre from the bottom of the armholes for this version to make it a bit more comfortable. After having worn the first top to work for a day, I thought they were just a tiny bit restricting.

I also lowered the neckline just a tiny bit because on this version I left the binding exposed on the neckline and I didn’t want it to be any higher than on the first version.

SimpleSleevelessTop_Trees_Front SimpleSleevelessTop_Trees_Side

And that’s it – my first two Simple Sleeveless Tops.

Even though it’s a simple pattern, I still think I learned quite a lot on these makes: mainly adjusting fit but also using bias binding to finish armholes and necklines. I think they will come in really handy.

I’m sure I’ll make this top again and again. I love Lauren’s version with the embroidered cotton over a plain cotton, so might look into doing a version like that too.

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Knitted potholders

I’m lucky enough to live near a crafts café (Love13 in Enfield) and earlier this year I went to a beginners knitting class with a few friends. The last time before that I had picked up knitting needles was in primary school, so I definitely classed myself as a beginner. We learned how to cast on and off, knit and purl stitch and how to change colour and spent a lovely couple of hours there.

And over the last couple of weeks I finally tackled my first knitting project. I wanted to make something for my mum’s birthday but it had to be fairly easy because I didn’t want to overstretch myself on my first knitting attempt. And because my mum likes practical things, I decided on making a pair of potholders.

I found a pattern on ravelry, bought some wool (I kept it basic and used some Rico Creative Cotton Aran Yarn – in purple because that’s my mum’s favourite colour) and off I went.

And here’s the finished result:

potholders

I have to admit that it took me a lot longer than I had anticipated and they might not be 100% even as the tension varies quite a lot, but overall I’m pretty pleased with them!

The pattern was really easy to follow and I got into a rhythm pretty quickly.

And what I really enjoyed was, that I could still sit with the rest of the family over Easter and join in the conversation while knitting. As much as I love sewing, I do sometimes find it a bit lonely, because it’s just me taking over the only proper table we have in the flat and just concentrating on whatever I’m making for hours on end. So the fact that I could still sit with everyone else and chat while knitting was great. So I don’t want to neglect my sewing, but I think it’ll be a nice change to fit in some knitting every now and then.

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Have it Your Way Dress

Hello readers!

I’ve finally finished another make! (About time, I have to say…)

It’s the Have it Your Way Dress from Lauren Guthrie’s book Learn to Sew With Lauren (find out more about it here).

The book came out just in time for my birthday last year, so was number 1 on my wish list and I wasn’t disappointed. There are so many different projects in the book, I’m sure everyone would find at least a few patterns they’d like to give a go. I love the variety of projects and also the fabrics they’ve used throughout. Definitely want to try out a few of the other patterns as well.

I decided to start with the Have it Your Way Dress because I just liked everything about it.

I used a black viscose with cream dots (I ordered it from the Village Haberdashery a few months ago, but it’s not on their website anymore, so looks like they might have run out).

So, here’s the finished result:

Have it Your Way Dress front

The instructions were really easy to follow. What took me the longest (as usual) was tracing the pattern and then marking and cutting my fabric. That viscose is a slippery bugger! But I got there in the end and once I started sewing it went quicker than I thought. I’m especially pleased with the invisible zip – I think the neatest one I have achieved so far!

The only thing I found a bit confusing were the sleeves. I really liked the shape of them in the picture in the book but it took me a while to get my head around how the curved bottom edge and the facing all went together. To be honest, I’m still not quite sure I got it right, but it looks fairly similar to the picture in the book, so let’s just say I nailed it!

Have it Your Way Dress side

I cut a straight size 12 and didn’t make any fit adjustments and I think it fits really well. It doesn’t even need the belt I’m wearing in the pictures for the fit – the dress itself is a really nice shape, I just felt like the pattern needed something to break it up a bit, so paired it with a navy belt, which I think works quite well. (I have to say that I was a bit worried about the sizing as I couldn’t find a table of body and finished garment measurements anywhere – not sure if I just didn’t look properly or if they’re just not included, but luckily the fit worked out well for me.)

If I were to make it again I think I would use a contrast fabric for the collar. With this fabric you can’t see the collar that well, but here’s proof that it’s there!

Have it Your Way Dress collar

Maybe I should have made that navy as well, to tie in with the belt, but never mind. Something to bear in mind for next time.

The only other thing (and not the pattern’s fault at all) is that the fabric gets quite static and clingy. Especially as I work in an office with carpet throughout, the skirt part just ended up clinging to my legs quite a bit, which is um, not the most flattering look, let’s leave it at that. So I might have to look into making a petticoat of some sort. Something I’ve never owned, never mind made, so any tips would be greatly appreciated.

But overall I’m really happy with this dress! I wore it to work yesterday and had lots of lovely comments. (I was especially pleased about the ones from people who don’t know that I’ve taken up sewing, so they didn’t know that I had made it myself.)

Now I’m trying to decide what to make next. I have so many patterns I want to try and am a bit overwhelmed. But I think it might be another dress (not that that narrows the decision making process down by much…). Maybe something a bit more spring-like now that it’s starting to get sunnier?

I will report back once I’ve made up my mind.

Happy sewing everyone!

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Megan dress in blue chevrons

Tilly and the Buttons‘ Megan dress has been on my sewing list ever since I got my hands on Love at First Stitch.

And now I’ve finally finished my first version of it. I say first because I’m pretty sure there’ll be plenty more to come!

I decided to use some cotton jersey in blue chevrons (you can get it here) for the skirt part and a plain cotton jersey for the bodice. I had never sewn anything with jersey before so that was a new experience. Especially the plain jersey liked to roll up along the cut edges quite a bit, so I tried to sew those bits together as quickly as possible after cutting them out.

So here’s the finished result from the front:

Megan_blue_chevrons_front

And from the side:

Megan_blue_chevrons_side

(Due to current weather conditions I’m wearing a navy long sleeve top underneath.)

The pattern instructions were really clear and easy to follow. I didn’t make a toile for this; I just cut a straight size 4 after comparing my measurements to the sizing chart and final garment measurements. The only adjustment I made was to add 5cm to the length of the skirt because I’m taller than average.

I’m really pleased with the fit of the bodice, although the jersey is probably quite forgiving when it comes to fit, so it might need some adjustments if I make another one in a less stretchy fabric.

I was all ready to put my invisible zip in, when I thought: Hang on, the fabric, is quite stretchy, do I really need that zip? So I pinned the back together to see if I could get it on as it was, and hooray, I managed to get away without putting in a zip! So I just sewed the back together, hemmed it and that was that.

So if you’re put off by the invisible zip, I’d definitely recommend making the dress in a jersey fabric to avoid the zip.

I finished it at 7am on Thursday and then wore it work that day. I had lots of lovely comments from everyone at work but I still can’t decide whether or not I should take it in a bit at the side seams. It’s certainly wearable as it is and I’m sure it would still be comfortable after an extra helping of dessert, but it just feels a bit looser than most of my dresses. So I haven’t quite decided whether or not I should try taking it in maybe by just 1cm or so on each side seam. Or maybe I’ll leave this one as it is and try making the next one slightly narrower. I can’t decide. Maybe I just need to wear it for another day to make up my mind.

Either way I’m very pleased with my first Megan dress!

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Presents

I’ve been slow, slow, slow with my sewing recently. I have a pile of fabric and patterns stacking up that I want to try and am really struggling to make the time for them.

But I have finally finished a few presents I had been meaning to make.

First a sunglasses case for one of my best friends. I stumbled across the link to this tutorial on the sewsensational blog and thought it looked like a fun little project. Here’s the link to the instructions.

I used fabrics I had left over from another project as you really don’t need much for this, so great for using up bits of fabric that I had lying around for ages.

Sunglasses case closed

Sunglasses case open

I didn’t have any wadding, so I used some fleece that I had, again, left over from another project. It worked OK, but it came out a bit bulky, but that is probably my own fault, as the instructions clearly tell you to trim down the seam allowances as much as possible, but I was a bit nervous about trimming off too much, so I think I was a bit generous. I found their instructions for boxed corners a bit confusing, so I just stuck to the method I usually use (sewing off a triangle in the corner and then cutting the triangle off before turning the fabric right side out).

I finished this just in time for Christmas and my friend really likes it, so that’s the main thing.

I also wanted to make something for another good friend. She works as a set designer for film, TV and theatre and we are always amazed by her impressive selection of tools that she has accumulated over the years to put together all sorts of sets and stages. She probably has more tools than my dad, which is quite an achievement.

So I started looking for fabric with tools of some sort and found this great Mr Roboto Tools Blue on fabric.com. It was perfect! Having it delivered from the States meant, that I didn’t get it in time for Christmas, but that’s OK, we usually end up being a bit late with our Christmas and birthday presents.

I used the fabric to make some simple squariesh oven gloves:

Betty's oven gloves

The main bit was pretty quick, I just struggled a bit with the binding around the corners, so the stitching is a bit wonky on the back. And it also gave me the opportunity to try out my new bias binding maker that I got for Christmas. I didn’t really have a pattern for this, I just looked at the shop-bought ones I have and it was pretty easy to figure out how to replicate them.

And I also made a tote bag with contrast lining and pocket on one half:

Betty's bag outside Betty's bag inside

For this I just combined a few different tutorials for tote bags I had seen on the internet and it craft books and picked out the bits that I liked. I’m really pleased with how it came out and I hope my friend likes it too.

Right, while it was nice to sew a few projects that don’t have to fit anyone, I think I’m ready for my next dressmaking project.