Sewing Friends are the Best

All friends are good, great even.  But sewing friends, those who know exactly what you (don’t) need to add to your stash of fabric or patterns, or even notions – those are the best of friends.  You don’t even have to know those sewing friends IRL.  That’s just how good they are!

This next make comes courtesy of a sewing friend in America.  We’ve never met, but a chance enounter in Blogland has lead to this, an exchange of fabrics, patterns and ideas.  Del from Curls and Skirls has the opposite dilemma to mine.  She loves prints and patterns and has relatively few plain, solid colours of fabric with which to fill her handmade wardrobe.  I, on the other hand, live in solids (with the execption of some stripes or spots).  My idea of colour blocking is to have one colour on the bottom half and a contrasting one on the top!

So, I said we have the same problem, we should swap!  She agreed and what followed was a very good dig through our collective stashes to find the right fabrics.  You know, the ones you’re prepared to give away, no matter how long you’ve had them, what you originally intended them for etc.  I chose some beautiful linens that I just haven’t got round to using that were the right weight and colour and a couple of cottons.  One piece of linen was possibly not the right shade for Del, but then I’d bought it to dye anyway, not liking the colour, but having fallen for the fabric itself.  I also added a couple of metres of South African Shweshwe print in the most decilious pumpkin orange.

The tricky thing when swapping, is finding the right sorts of things to swap.  My colours run to blues and greys while Del prefers brighter tones.  But I think I had enough stuff in the postbag when I finally sent it!

What I got in return was pretty nice, I can tell you!  Although there weren’t as many items in Del’s stash that would suit me personally, I knew I could use some stuff for the girls.  They can wear anything and any colour and look great!  So, quite a few weeks late in the showing, here’s what Del kindly sent my way.

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Goodies from Del

I’d fallen heavily for the blue and white cotton lawn immediately, so it was MINE!  The red and white print viscose crepe and the plain red viscose I will use for the girls, the cream linen with orange floral print will be a vintage style dress for my best friend and the “nautical” print hasn’t been allocated a pattern just yet, but I’m thinking of PJs….  I’ll make the Papercut Patterns Pnuma Tank for the girls for their work-out gear.  So, I have a print (or two) in my stash pile that isn’t a stripe or spot!

I couldn’t wait to make something from the blue stuff, so in between making little girl’s clothes for a friend, I used a pattern I’d been sent a couple of years ago to test, the Kyoto Kimono from Elise Patterns.  I’d used the short version in the testing for Daughter No2 but decided on the long, robe version for me.  I couldn’t find a link to the pattern anywhere online, so I’m not sure if it’s even still available.

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Elise Patterns Kyoto Kimono

Any issues I had with the pattern are down to it’s being in test mode, so I cannot really review the pattern as I’d like to.  I had a PDF A4 version which needed to be unfolded and retaped where it had come apart after being in storage for 2 years.  I traced the extra large…  The pieces are wide! I’d forgotten how wide they were and was worried that it wouldn’t fit the fabric, but I just made it!  Originally I thought I’d go with the longer sleeves, but there wasn’t enough fabric.

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Elise Patterns Kyoto Kimono Robe

I used the overlocker to run the robe up, so much quicker than fiddling with French seams!  I made sure the pattern was lined up on the side seams, the rows all line up, but any further pattern matching was impossible due to the size of the pieces and restriction of width.  I made the robe in an afternoon, it really is quick.

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The short cuffs finish off the sleeves nicely.

So now I have a fabulous new robe for lounging in, just need lounging pants and top to go with it! Or new pjs.  That may mean buying more fabric, and as we all know, that’s off the cards until the new year.  So I’ll sit tight with this one unless I find something buried in the stash.  This is my first make in the new wardrobe challenge on the Sew Alongs and Contests Facebook group.  We’re to make at least 6 items of sleepwear related goodies.  I do have other items planned, not all for me but I have a very special make to finish first.

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So Del, what do you think? Have I done the fabric justice?  Thanks so much for swapping with me, it’s been great to have different fabrics to pat! :)

Floral Silk Warabi Kimono

It’s been a while, helloo there!!  Well, I did say back in January that blogging would be sporadic!  The silence since coming back from my holiday is basically due to me sewing loads and loads of stuff, and showing nothing of it here for you guys, but annoying all my Instagram followers with loads of pics of baby and little girl’s clothes!  There will be a write-up soon, but first wanted to show off one of the few adult’s garments I’ve made this month.

While I was away I got an email from Kat, one of the founders of The Monthly Stitch.  If you’ve been following along with Indie Pattern Month this year you will have noticed that there has been an “extra”.  In order to raise money for charities and to take The Monthly Stitch to a new level, three bundles consisting of various patterns have been put together for sale.  I was offered the chance to pick a bundle and make one or more patterns from the bundle in order to promote the concept.  As I was away at the time, I went with the last one, entitled Getaway.

As you could probably guess from the title, this bundle has patterns for holidays.  The pattern chosen to start is the Warabi Kimono top from Waffle Patterns.  I had actually bought this pattern last year and toiled it for myself, but my shape really didn’t do it any justice.  I decided my best friend could do with a new top and started digging in the stash for suitable fabric.  I had to shop the stash as there is this little pledge not to buy anything until Christmas time!

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Warabi Kimono Toile on the dress form

I rediscovered 5m of gorgeous silk that was liberated from a local charity shop a few years back for a ridiculously low price.  The colour is perfect for my friend’s colouring and the lightness of the fabric suits the pattern really well.  I toiled the 38, which fitted straight off the bat, the pattern needed to be lengthened by 3cm because my friend is quite tall and is long waisted.

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Details. French seams inside and double turned hems.

French seams were used throughout, the only finish if you’re going with a lightweight silk, and double turned all the hems.  I loved making this pattern, the instructions couldn’t be clearer, Yuki also supplies detailed illustrations so there’s no getting confused.  I have used Waffle Patterns before, with superb results.

I used the copy shop version, I have a huge aversion to cutting and taping millions of A4 pieces of paper together and will now avoid buying a PDF pattern if that option is not included.  What I like about this one is that the pattern pieces all fit nicely onto one A0.  Nice and cheap.  The instructions booklet is also not pages and pages long.  It’s informative, has everything you need and doesn’t have 8 pages showing you how to lay out the pattern pieces.

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Warabi Kimono Top in green floral silk. I love it!
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Fabulous full sleeves
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https://wordpress.com/post/bellemegan.wordpress.com/3374 The back has a higher “v” and central back seam.

Pictures are on the dress form only for now, my friend has yet to see her present, but I know she’ll love it!  The green of the silk looks fantastic with jeans, so this will be the perfect “dress it up” top.  If you like what you see, visit The Monthly Stitch‘s page to see the other patterns in the bundles and spread the sewing love.  I will have another pattern to show you in a couple of days, also from the Getaway bundle, also a gift!

The Kimono was finally delivered today & I’ve managed to get a couple of photos. My friend is very camera shy so these were taken on the sly!
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I love that she’s happy wearing it with shorts in a very casual way, and not just keeping it “for good”.

 

Fabric Shopping on Holiday

And a pledge…

Three weeks in South Africa, all over now until the next time.  I just hope it’s not another 5 years!  Now fabric shopping on holiday sounds like a fabulous thing to do, buy up all those pretty things you can’t get at home and grab those things that are cheaper elsewhere because of a decent exchange rate.  I really wanted to go with a fairly empty suitcase, to take full advantage of my situation, but I’d made so many lovely things for my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe that were begging to be allowed into the suitcase that I ended up with just 3 kg to spare!  Oops.

No matter, some stuff taken was to be distributed, so I thought I’d do my bit to help the local economy.  Now I must add that Mr Not-Compulsive tried very hard not to let me within 5km of a fabric store, but in the end he relented.  I was directed to a store/factory shop in Roodeport called Chamdor.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large fabric store!  It was a warehouse!  Thankfully half was soft-furnishing fabric and half the dressmaking fabric was stuff I wasn’t interested in. There was a lot of fleece (going into winter), lycra and poly-blends.

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Trims of all descriptions and so many zips!
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The central aisle has end to end cutting tables, lined with anything you could want for your sewing project. Fabric stores with shopping trolleys – yes please!!

I saw a girl who was guarding a couple of rolls of border printed viscose & after asking nicely where she’d found them, proceeded to empty the shelves!  There were so many lovely colours and patterns, it was going to be a struggle to decide which couldn’t be left behind.  The price was R56/m, which I worked out to being about £2.25/m.  Man – how could I leave anything behind at that price!?!?

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The viscose I couldn’t leave benhid, I bought 3m of each, just to make sure I had enough!

Then I found the button stands and the trim and the zips and the threads and sewing machine accessories….  £55 later I emerged triumphant, two bags in my hands and a husband who kept saying, “I don’t know where you’re going to put all this.”

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The Three cats logo of Da Gama Textiles Shweshwe

And then I was good, oh so good.  I avoided all other fabric temptations until we got to the Eastern Cape.  Da Gama Textiles is based in that province and they are the sole manufacturer of authentic Shweshwe fabric.  I was going to have some to bring home, come hell or high water.  The factory shop is located outside of East London and boy was there a lot to choose from!  Original indigo sat side by side with teal and turquoise, greens, reds, pinks, oranges and browns.  This was going to be harder than I thought!

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In the end I bought a deep turquoise piece for a dress for Daughter No2, an orange circle print for Del and a striking red design that reminds me of Mid-Century Modern prints for a friend in Chicago.

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Shweshwe fabric from Da Gama Textiles
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This gorgeous blue will be a dress of some sort for daughter no 2

Now some of you know exactly what I have here, and others wondering what on earth Shweshwe is.  I could go into a huge explanation, but there are many sites you can find the information on, Meerkat Shweshwe sell many different ranges online and have a history of the origins of the cloth, Da Gama obviously have their background in the industry, and African Fabric have good information, as well as a huge range of coloured and original indigo Shweshwe for sale online.

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The 3 cats on the reverse of all authentic shweshwe. Beware of copies!

While we were at Da Gama Textiles, we did a bit of bin diving.  Da Gama print more than just Shweshwe.  There are big fabric bins in the factory shop full of test prints, seconds etc that you buy by the kilogram.  We had a little hunt for different pieces of mostly soft furnishing fabrics, and came out with a good selection of bits and pieces that I’ll use to make cushion covers, table runners and other goodies for the summer table outside.  And that was it!  Once we’d distributed all the gifts we’d taken to all our friends and family, there was plenty of room for the fabric purchases.  And 40 vintage patterns….

And now we come to the crunch.  I really don’t need to buy any more fabric this year.  No, seriously, I don’t.  So I made a pledge, and told Mr Not-Compulsive, so I have to stick with it.

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No more fabric shopping this year!!

Now I have a fabric diet to stick to and things to make…

Washed Linen Trousers

Another pair of linen trousers in my favourite Burdastyle pattern
Another pair of linen trousers in my favourite Burdastyle pattern

I love this fabric!!  It’s a charcoal and off white marl linen, of decent weight that I got from the NEC back in March.  I love the result of pairing this fabric with this particular pattern too.  The tee is the grey viscose from a couple of posts back and both items have been worn a few times on holiday.

P1140388-1There really isn’t much to say about these that I haven’t said about the pattern loads of times before!  The fabric wasn’t tricky to work with, definitely needed to be overlocked as soon as it was cut and I made sure to staystitch the upper edge while working with it to prevent stretching out.

P1140404-1P1140395-1Loving it with all shoes too!:)

Collage grey linenP1140407-1On a slightly sad note, those beautiful natural coloured herringbone linen trousers I posted about here, are no longer wearable. :(  I wore them on my first day of holiday, and washed them later at a family member’s house but never thought to check the temperature the washing machine was set on.  Needless to say, linen washed at 60C never survives….  Gutted!!!  So now I’m on the hunt for another piece, Ditto Fabrics have none left. All suggestions for replacement fabric welcome!

 

Three Strikes…

Three strikes and I want more!  This is my third Longley Cardi by Wendy Ward, previous versions here.  I had in mind to make a stripe version of this cardi for a while, I pictured wide stripes in either a sturdy or drapey jersey.  This particular stripe jersey is from Ditto Fabrics, the last of the pieces I binge-bought back in January!

I saw the picture, registered the size of the stripe and added 2.5m pretty much immediately to the basket.  I didn’t read any further.  You know what’s coming….

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Wendy Ward Longley Cardigan

So when you don’t order samples and don’t read the fabric description properly, sometimes the fabric that arrives is a little bit of a surprise!  The stripes run the length of the fabric, opposite to what I thought they’d be.  I was expecting your typical viscose jersey, in feel and handle.  What came felt rather different.  It’s described as having a “silky feel”.  To be honest, when it came I would have described it as full on polyester.  So  procrastinated, wasn’t even sure I liked it.

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One thing I really don’t like is waste, and not using this fabric felt a whole heap like wasting.  So I just got on with it.  I wanted the stripes to line up going up and down across the bands, so I made sure to cut the hem and neck bands very carefully to line up with the back piece on the fold.  I couldn’t get the front band stripes to match both the back and front, and as the front has lots of drape it was decided it would be more forgiving to non-matching.

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Matching stripes!

After all the kerfuffle and uncertainty, I’ve decided I do rather like this cardi, stripes, fabric, the lot.  It counts towards my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe and being a staple blue and white, will go with pretty much everything already made and those pieces yet to be sewn.

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Birgitte Tee, Birkin Flares & Longley Cardi. Silver trainers from La Redoute.

I like the way the stripes change with the drape on the front, horizontal stripes on the front neck band contrasting with vertical stripes on the sleeves.  It’s a more interesting cardigan than I thought it was going to be!  No bad thing there.  So it’s a success in the end, have you had doubts about a project, only to have it turn out ok on the day?

Burda Love

How often do you wear matching items?  Some of you might wear suits for work, I never have!  In an attempt to bust a little stash fabric, and to have more items made for my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe, I originally wanted to make two pairs of trousers from a 3m piece of stretch cotton sateen from Croft Mill Fabrics that I’d bought last year.  Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough for both pairs so while I sat there looking at the laid out fabric hoping to find a way, inspiration hit.  There could be enough for a jacket & trousers…

 

It took a little playing around, pattern piece tetris is a real thing.  The left picture shows the layout I ended up with and the little pile of skinny scraps on the right is all I was left with once it was all cut out!  I cut the inner waistband and both pocket pieces from different fabrics in the scrap box to save space.

The trouser pattern is 109 from Burdastyle magazine March 2010 and the jacket is my old staple, 116 from Burdastyle magazine April 2009.  I think this is the fifth version now!  I decided to leave the jacket unlined, and to use Hong Kong finish on all the internal raw edges. A piece of pansy print Liberty lawn was liberated from the scrap box that worked perfectly against the beige.  I cannot tell you how many metres of bias I cut in the end, suffice to say it was a lot.  Because the jacket was unlined, the shoulder pads were covered in the same fabric.  I had thought I’d get away without them but the jacket looked all frumpy and structure-less.

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Burda Addict

So, trousers.  I went for the shorter version and still chopped out 4cm.  A remnant of silk was cut for the pockets, and a pocket facing was added, using the cotton sateen so you don’t just see silk at the opening.  The pockets are of the in-seam variety.  The inner waistband was cut from a remnant of printed cotton sateen that had made a pair of trousers and a skirt for the daughters in the past.  The button closure and trouser hook & eye came from the stash.  I overlocked all edges before starting to sew, that way I don’t have to stop and start and can get a pair of pants made in a day.

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I really like the colour it goes with all my new handmade tee-shirts!  The stretch is really comfortable, I like the stitched seam on the front pieces, it gives a sense of length, which is sorely needed.

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Trouser details, contrast inner waistband, trouser hook & eye, silk lined pockets

The jacket pattern is one I have made many times now.  I think this is the most crisp though.  Even my linen one, lined, is softer.  Just means I need to work harder to remove that darn double chin my family genes is/are so fond of….   I really wanted a light weight jacket, so no lining.  That also means far less structure and interfacing than I’d normally use.  Only the facings and collar pieces are interfaced, relying on the structure of the fabric to give the jacket a good shape.

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I love the insides!

The jacket was actually made fairly quickly, considering the metres and metres of bias that needed to be attached!  The reason why it hasn’t seen the light of day until now (apart from no photographer) is that I couldn’t for the life of me find the right buttons.  Beige buttons on a beige jacket are BORING!  Metallic ones just looked too bling.  White looked insipid and black too much of a contrast.  So I was stuck.  Help came in the shape of a friend who went through my buton stash with fresher eyes than mine.  She found these interesting regtangular buttons and practically dared me to use them.  Challenge accepted!

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Burda jacket details, covered shoulder pads, Hong Kong seams finish & rectangular buttons.

The shape and texture on the buttons makes them far more interesting than ordinary brown round ones, so I’m happy with the result.  I also sort of want to wear this jacket inside out! The only time anyone will see the pretty insides is when I take it off and lay it flashily on the back of a chair. :)

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Tee 138 from Burdastyle magazine March 2011 in grey viscose jersey

On to the last item for the day!  I’d ordered two pieces of grey viscose jersey from Croft Mill Fabrics, dark grey, & a lighter, silvery piece at the beginning of March.  Can I just say, these jerseys are so soft!!  They have the most amazing drape which means every bit needs to be stabilised!  I chose a tee-shirt pattern I’d liked before but not got round to tracing, 138 form the March 2011 Burdastyle magazine.  It’s in the plus-size section.  I liked the twisted neckline treatment and the tab on the sleeves.

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I made the 46 with a 6cm FBA but with this soft fabric I wonder if I could have got away with the smaller size.  The armhole seams, front and back, are stabilised with Vilene bias tape, having learnt the hard way last year that this sort of fabric keeps going down….  Initially the neckline wasn’t stabilised, but as the day wore on I realised that wasn’t my brightest idea, so back to the ironing board it went.  Now the neckline, while a little low, doesn’t try to migrate any further south.  The neck band is simply a rectangle that isn’t folded symmetrically.  Once the centre back seam is stitched, instead of folding and pressing you move the seams 3cm apart which gives a little pull on the folded edge.  This creates the “twist”.

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The sleeves with tabs are easy to sew, if using a soft fabric like this though, I suggest you iron on a bit on knit interfacing where the tab goes to stop the fabric stretching as you do the topstitching.  Unfortunately, this fabric doesn’t work folded up.  It’s too soft!  I don’t really mind, the sleeves are a good length and I like the detail left with the buttons and stitched squares.  The only other adjustment I made was to remove length.  I took 5cm off the bottom and still turned up a 4cm hem.  I get that some people prefer longer tops to hide things, but on me I’d look very, very short and definitely feel like I was wearing a tent!

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All said, I am happy with my new outfit, not 100% sure if I will actually wear the matching jacket and pants together, but I have that option.  All items are in my suitcase for the holiday as with colours like this you can wear anything!  Score more for busting some stash & scraps, making a matching outfit and using freshly bought fabric before it found the stash!

A Trio of Tee-Shirts

This year I’ll have plenty of me-made tees.

This is me making up all that jersey bought in March!  One of my not-New Years Resolutions for this year is to make fabric up when I buy it, and not let it disappear into the stash, only to be found years later when I either no longer like it, or no longer need/want what I’d originally bought the fabric for!

So here we have 3 tees, two using Maria Denmark’s Birgitte tee and one a Burdastyle pattern.  The first was hard on the eyes to make!  I had seen an IG post by Wendy Ward of a black and white tee shirt, stripes, of course, where she’d used two stripes, one black and white & one white and black, in the one shirt.  There is a diagonal seam across the front of the tee and all the stripes appear to line up because of the single use of colour.  This gave me a good idea to use for the black and white viscose stripe jersey I’d picked up at the NEC.

Using the v-neck version of the Birgitte, I drew a line across the front from the right shoulder point to the left seam, about 10-15 cm from the hem.  Then I gave that line a slight downwards curve, because we’re not flat.  I added a line marking the top of a black stripe on the right front, and another on the left front to I’d be sure to cut the pieces on different stripe.

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Stripe details

When it came to getting the stripes to match nicely along that diagonal line, I questioned my sanity a bit!  I marked the seamlines with chalk and pinned each and every black-to-white stripe all the way down.  Then I basted by hand and checked from the front.  There were a few strpes that had moved, so I unpicked and re-basted those areas.  Then I used a long stitch on the sewing machine and stitched with a narrow, long zig zag stitch.  I had to shift a few lines again after they’d don a little walking, but overall the method seemd to work!  Then I used the overlocker and went over the seam again, but overlocked slightly away from the stitched seam

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I love the way the line jumps down the front, the lines on the right side seam have the same jump as on the front line, and they match perfectly on the left.  I’m really happy with how this turned out, it could have been a plain stripey tee, but now its something that makes your eyes blink!

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Staggered stripe tee

The second is much more straight forward.  Again, it’s a piece from the purchase at the NEC but I can’t remember which stall I got this fabric from!  I just used the v-neck version of the Birgitte tee and it was made with no fuss in a couple of hours.

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Maria Denmark Birgitte tee in blue and white viscose jersey.

The last of the quick makes was really a toile, now I guess it’s a wearable toile!  I have a lovely piece of pale grey marl viscose jersey from Croft Mill Fabrics and I didn’t want to waste it on a pattern I decided I didn’t like in the end.  I got this pale pink-silver viscose jersey at fancy silk Stores during the Easter hols to use as toile fabric, but as I kinda like the resulting garment, I might dye it a little darker.

The pattern is the top of Dress 105 in the March 2016 Burdastyle magazine.  There are various versions in the magazine, different lengths, neckline treatments and fabric uses.  I wanted a slightly longer, tummy covering version!  This looked good in the photos, so I thought I’d give it a go, but lengthened the front a bit, just in case!

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Dress 105 03/2016. Image from Burdastyle

I’m in two minds about the outcome.  I think the sleeves aren’t narrow enough, certainly not the last 10cm as they end up flapping around my elbows by the end of a day.  It’s maybe a little too long and wide for my shape.  I can see a slimmer person looking fabulous in it, just as it is.  Or maybe this jersey is just too drapey.  Or maybe the colour is just too pale, perhaps a quick spin in the washing machine with some grey dye would make it better.

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Burdastyle top 105 03/2016 – a wearable toile

I have worn this top twice now, and I don’t mind it, but it’s not a piece I’d be desperate to wear as soon as it was back in the wardrobe either.  At the end of the day, it’s a decent wearable toile, I’m just not convinced I’ll use my lovely Croft Mill jersey to make another.

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I skipped the instruction that said to stitch the pleat on the inside… Perhaps my pleat would have looked better if I’d done what I was told instead of steaming ahead!

So the Birgitte Basic tee is turning out to be a very good basic tee-shirt pattern to use, I like the fit, it’s so quick to make up & it doesn’t require too much fabric!  I bought the Lark Tee PDF (copy shop version, of course) to compare, but I haven’t got round to making anything up just yet.  Perhaps when I’m back from my holiday with some fresh jersey.

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Enjoy your Spring (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere), my garden is looking all green and pretty!