Friday, 6 January 2017

Lots and lots of plain tops


It hit me one day that my wardrobe is full of lovely patterned garments and I also have lots of lovely patterned scarves too. You can see where this is heading, can't you? With lots of patterned tops hanging in my wardrobe and sitting in my drawers I only had about three plain coloured tops. Time to do something about that! So over the festive holiday I sewed up quite a few and also bought fabric to make more (which I haven't yet started).


I used two patterns for the tops and this proved very useful as I found I could get two tops on two metres of fabric. Result! The first pattern was one I traced off from a favourite RTW top. I've made it before here and here. The other pattern I used was Simplicity 1463 that I've also made twice before, here and here.


The grey and black jersey fabrics are all viscose jersey with a little lycra and I think I bought them from John Lewis. The burgundy fabric is a similar weight and thickness but has some non-scratchy wool in it so it's lovely and cosy. I bought it from Remnant Kings in Glasgow in September. Have to remember to select wool wash on the washing machine though!

You'll see from the middle photo above that I had to cut the back piece for the grey Simplicity pattern version as two pieces and have a seam up the back but it looks fine. My favourite from these five tops (one black, two burgundy and two grey) is the one I'm wearing in the top photo which is from the pattern I traced. I don't have a pattern piece for the neck band but I've now developed my own method for working out how much to cut. I roughly measure the neck circumference which is usually 26", subtract 2" to tighten the band up and give it the right amount of stretch around the neck. It works for me. For the record, and for future me sewing this up again, I cut a strip of fabric 1.5" wide. I like this narrower band. Body and sleeve hems were turned up and stitched using my twin needle. I didn't do any twin needle stitching on the neck band. I like it just turned and pressed and it's behaving very well as it is.

So there we are, not exciting but essential and tops that I'll wear loads. Some good, solid practical sewing!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Final garment for my #VintagePledge 2016


Just squeaking in with my last garment before the big Vintage Pattern Pledge 2016 deadline at midnight tonight! Strangely this was the first thing I sewed up for my pledge but ends up being the last one I blog about as it took me ages to find the right buttons. So, I've met my pledge to sew up three garments using vintage patterns. The final pattern is a reprint of Simplicity2154 from the 1960s. Not a decade that I sew from as I seem to naturally gravitate towards the 1980's. This has also resulted in a very plain garment but as I'm increasingly realising, I need quite a few of those in my wardrobe too and I've been sewing up quite a few plain tops but you'll see those in 2017.


The fabric is a rather scratchy boiled wool that I bought in a sale at John Lewis about a year ago, so I can't remember how much I paid for it. It has a slight stretch to it although there's no lycra in it. I think there could be some polyester in it.


I like this pattern. I made some alterations to it by adding some length to the sleeves and body. I also added some width across the back and added darts from the back shoulder seams. I added too much width and the back is too broad. It's still wearable. I did a full bust adjustment that worked well.


I overlocked most seams and finished the sleeve and body hems by overlocking the edge, then turning up and machining the hems using a twin needle. I like the double row of stitching. It adds an interesting detail to an otherwise very plain top.


The button and buttonhole bands are really well thought through. You use 3/4" or 1" wide satin ribbon which has just the right amount of softness to cope with the soft fabric but acts as a solid base to sew the buttonholes and buttons. You sew the edge of the ribbon to the right side of the fabric and turn it to the inside. Then you topstitch the other edge of the ribbon to secure it, tucking the ends in and hand stitching them to secure them. Very neat and I'll be stealing that idea in the future! The ribbon finish looks really good if your cardigan flaps open.


It took me ages to find the right buttons. they have to fit within the width of the button/buttonhole bands and look 'right' with the cardigan. eventually I found these square ones in the right colour.

I'm not so sure if I'll wear this though, the wool is just a bit too scratchy for me, something I didn't realise until I was taking the photos for this blog post. There are also 'self-inflicted' fit problems but they aren't too bad. I did, however, thoroughly enjoy sewing this up. A lot of the time I don't follow pattern instructions and do my own thing but I was good this time and followed them. I enjoyed learning about the ribbon finish for the buttons/buttonhole bands and really liked the finish of them. I think this is really a wearable muslin and I've learnt lots. It's good to be challenged and to learn new things and this pattern did that.

So, it's Hogmanay in my part of the world and so much of an important celebration in Scotland that our public holidays are 1st and 2nd January. I'm staying at home and welcoming the holiday as we've had a house guest for a week so now they've gone we're enjoying having the place to ourselves again. Having said that, there will be quiet feasting and drinking over the next few days! So wherever you are in the world and whatever you're doing, I wish you all a happy, healthy 2017 (or in Scots dialect- 'Lang may yer lum reek'!).

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Top 5 non-sewing highlights of 2016


So this appears to be the third in a short series of posts for Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow's annual Top 5 of 2016. Today it's time for non-sewing highlights. I'm struggling with this a bit! And it seems strange to be blogging about a non-sewing thing on a sewing blog. But I suppose the top highlight of the year is being made permanent in my role after almost 2 years of secondment. I'm happy to be doing a job I love.

Ah, another highlight is getting C to take 2 holidays and 3 weekends on holiday in 2016. I have a stealth plan to slowly increase the amount of time he takes off work up to the level of days off that that normal people take. There's a price to pay when you have your own business, you work lots more hours than employees do.


This image is from the Royal Shakespeare Company's performance of a Midsummer Night's Dream which we saw at the Citizen's Theatre, Glasgow. Magnificent! This was a weekend holiday we had in April.


The next thing that's a highlight (and this is a fairly eclectic selection here....) is learning butterfly stroke at swimming lessons. I've been going to lessons for over three years and I'm loving it. I especially love strokes like this where I can pull myself through the water with my arms and shoulders. I really feel powerful and now have muscles! This has caused a few fitting hiccups though as it's subtly changed my arms, shoulders and across my upper back. Unfortunately I've now got a frozen shoulder (used to be 'ouch' but now it's very stiff and limits some movement) which has stopped the butterfly but I'm still swimming my favourite stroke, breast stroke, which is totally unaffected by the shoulder problem. That's not me in the photo above, just to be clear about that. There's no photography allowed in the public swimming pool I go to, quite rightly.

Well, I know there are only three things but I can't think of anything else for this category and I'm happy with that. These are three major things to me. Actually I'm a 'glass half full' person and generally happy and content most of the time. I obviously have my ups and downs but life could be a lot worse. It could be better too (go away frozen shoulder!) but it is what it is and it's good.


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Top misses of 2016

Something strange about the title of this post but I'm not going to spend time trying to sort it. So, here goes for the next part of Gillian from Crafting a rainbow's annual round-up. They're not in any order of preference.

Miss number 1. Random squares blouse


Now, there's nothing actually wrong with this blouse. It fits beautifully and I love the squares fabric and the square buttons too. But it's just a bit...dark...and this makes it difficult to wear with jeans. I could wear it with black trousers but then that would make the whole outfit too...dark. I'll keep it and see if I wear it in 2017.

Miss number 2. Experimental make-up bag


I rather liked this. But it was too long and became a pencil case for C's work. I keep saying I should make myself another one and get the measurements worked out properly but there's always another lovely pattern and fabric to sew with that distracts me. I still need another make-up bag, by the way!

Miss number 3. Chrysanthemum print top


It's alright. I think I just don't like the shade of pink binding at the neck. And the fabric is not so nice a polyester. Some polyesters are ok but this one I'm not fussed about. That about sums it up!

Misses number 4 and 5: two New Look 6217 tops


I know, how did this happen? Two misses from my favourite top pattern ever!!! Well, for this top although it's made in a viscose, I'm just not keen on the print. It fits and the neckline is well finished and not too big or too small. Just not keen on it at all. I'll haul it out next summer and see how I feel about it.


My fabric choice is one problem with the other miss. I bought a triple crepe and it's a lovely colour but the fabric has a scratchy texture especially at the sleeve edges. The neckline I bound in purchased bias binding and it's too wide. So wide that I need to keep pulling it back up onto my shoulders and that gets annoying. Again, I'll haul it out next summer and see what I want to do with it. 

Interestingly I was having to work hard to find five misses. I'm going to take that as a good thing because it means I've been better with fabric selection and purchasing, and pattern choice. I've still got lots of things to blog that I've made recently so we'll see how that goes over the Christmas holidays. Just the small matter of photographing the final garment for my Vintage Pledge of 2016 but with Storm Barbara heading our way that's not going to happen anytime soon! 




Friday, 16 December 2016

The Top 5 of 2016

Ah, I know it's been a while since I posted on this blog but life is just full, at the moment. I came across Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow's annual sewing round-up and thought I'd add my things to it. Here goes for my hits of 2016!

Hit number 1. Cocoon cardigan


I absolutely love this and it's partly because of the lovely John Kaldor (not cheap) fabric with a portion of non-scratchy wool in it. The other part of why I love it it...batwing sleeves! What's not to like! I made this in April using the Jalie Cocoon Cardigan pattern and it's definitely suitable for a taller person (I'm 5'9"). No sleeves to set in and the only really tricky thing is attaching the band all the way around the edge. Once you've sewn/overlocked it, it needs a good press.

Hit number 2. The swimsuit


Yes, I sewed a swimsuit! And even more than that, I've been wearing it to swim in at a public swimming pool and not had any unfortunate 'wardrobe malfunctions'. If I can sew this, so can you. Although it does take a surprising amount of time to sew a garment which doesn't really cover much of you. This was a muslin that ended up wearable but I can see that the piece of elastic I used when I drafted and made a shelf bra is showing the effects of being dipped in chlorine each week. time to start planning the next one.

Hit number 3. Sutton Blouse


Live this too! I bought this before realising it's sewn with french seams. Oh well, another skill gained. Unexpectedly! I absolutely love this and would gladly fill my wardrobe with them. I was too much of a 'feartie' (ie. scaredy cat) to make one in silk but having recently sewn a silk top (unblogged but worn, washed and in the ironing pile) I've now got over that fear. I really like the fit on this top, love the v-neck, yoke and kimono sleeves and the high-lo hem...basically I love everything about this top.

Hit number 4. Pyjamas 


If the weather hadn't turned too cold to wear these I'd still be in them! It's a tried and tested pattern that I've used many times before and I like the loose, slouchy fit. Jammies are made for lounging about in, I say. I really wasn't sure I'd like these when they were sewn up but thought I'd take a risk with this out of my comfort zone beige-ey grey colour. I think brightening it up with dark red piping and buttons was safely within my comfort zone though.

Hit number 5. Flower top


Again this was a tried and tested pattern I've made many times before. It was the fabric that gave me the huge challenge when cutting it out and deciding upon pattern placement. The pattern repeats were printed along the edges, with gaps of plain fabric in between the flower repeats. I bought 5 pattern repeats thinking - one for the front, two for the sleeves, and allow 2 to match the pattern with the back zip. I needed all those pattern repeats! Facings were cut from the scraps and that worked well.

Now, off to think about the interesting fails...  



Thursday, 3 November 2016

New old pyjamas and the next Big Project

Yes it's been a while since I last posted anything on this blog. I've just been so busy over the last couple of months that there's only been a little time left for sewing and I'd rather get on with sewing than photographing! However, there is a bit of a queue of finished projects to blog about so I thought I'd just get on with taking some dodgy photos and making a start on the backlog. You've been warned!


These are a pair of summer pyjamas I made quite a few months ago and I love them! I've worn them throughout the summer and I'm almost putting them away for the winter but we're having a lovely mild, mellow autumn so I'm wearing them as I'm writing this post.


The fabric is a lovely 100% printed cotton bought from John Lewis. It was in their spring sale and cost £7 a metre, I think I bought 3 metres or maybe 3.5metres. I prewashed the fabric before cutting out and made the usual adjustments of adding length to legs and sleeves. I didn't have enough fabric to lengthen the body or to match the 'stripes' of the pattern but so be it.

I added purchased bias binding as flat piping on the pocket, leg and sleeve bands and around the collar. As you can see from the top photo one side of the collar is more successful than the other. It's good to share the things that didn't quite work out as planned! Everyone makes mistakes. And despite these mistakes still I love these pyjamas! So much so that the piping is beginning to fray a little as they've been washed and worn so much. Well, they didn't cost me much. I think the buttons were given to me earlier this year by my mum when she gave me a big bag of buttons she's collected over the years. Ah yes, I used my usual pattern, Kwik Sew 2811.


Now, on to the Big Project I'm working on at the moment and which is taking up my sewing time. Bit of a story first! I went to London in mid-October for a conference and took a day off to see the sights...well, to trawl the fabric shops along Berwick Street in Soho. There are some lovely fabric shops there, some with eye-watering prices too. I desperately need jackets so I was (mostly) focusing on outerwear fabrics and looking for something I haven't been able to get in the fabric shops of Edinburgh or Glasgow. Well, I found it in the Berwick Street Cloth Shop! It's a loud orange/red colour waterproof fabric (I tested it when I got home). It was eye-wateringly expensive at £35 a metre. That price was excluding VAT at 20%. I swithered and tried to find something else but after persuading myself that as I have no jackets this is actually less than the cost of all the jackets I haven't bought (do you see what I did there?) - I just went for it and handed over my credit card. Then I went to another shop in Berwick Street and bought...more fabric (not as good quality, thickness, heft etc. as the loud orangey-red one, of course, but cheaper at £16 a metre) for another jacket.

I've cut into the expensive orangey-red fabric already and used the Waffle Patterns Tosti jacket which I made in the summer here, and have completed the lining which I quilted with some polyester wadding and satin lining fabric. I'm not making a winter jacket, just something for the very difficult transition period so I may finish it and not wear it till the spring. We'll see. Anyone tried making a waterproof or transition jacket?

Sunday, 25 September 2016

A couple of Jamies

Oh dear! It's been over a month since I last blogged and I certainly didn't intend on leaving it so long between posts. But I haven't been idle...I've been sewing quite a few things and here are two pairs of Named Jame jeans to show you. It's certainly a pattern that I love and with all the alterations I've made to it, it's definitely a tried and tested pattern for me.





Here are some blue Jamies I made using stretch denim I bought from John Lewis in Edinburgh. I decided to topstitch in a matching thread and didn't use any rivets on these. I did get to hammer on the jeans button at the waistband though and there's some secret Paisley fabric in the pocket linings of both pairs.


These are the second pair of Jamies, this time made in stretch denim that I bought from Mandors in Glasgow when I was there in April. This is a lovely, good quality fabric and makes a great pair of jeans. This time I decided to add some mustard coloured topstitching, just like classic jeans and I like it. The topstitching isn't perfect but, you know what? I'm leaving it as it is.


I'm just back from an overnight stay in Glasgow and yes, I went to Mandors again and also Remnant Kings. I've bought lots of fabric, of course, so there's lots of pre-washing to do before cutting out etc. I bought a particularly lovely stretch black denim from Mandors so I guess that'll become a pair of black jeans! Maybe Jamies but then again, there are other jeans patterns out there, it's just the amount of adjustments that I'll need to make that puts me off trying another pattern. We'll see!