And it’s January again

The roundabout never stops!  Here we go again, another year, another January and another “oops, I’ve not blogged for ages and there’s stuff to show off but….”

Hopefully something resembling “normal service” will resume soon, but I wouldn’t count on it!  Last year passed in somewhat of a whirlwind with Autumn disappearing on me completely due to my extended stay in the Southern hemisphere.  I’m still working on issues that have arisen from that trip, which partly explains the lack of posting – and the complete lack of sewing.  It’s just about 3 weeks into the new year and I’ve finished nothing sewing related.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a pile of fabric and patterns waiting for me, just the inspiration to get going and the time to fit it in around what I brought back with me.  I’m hoping to achieve some sort of balance soon so the sewing can resume, especially as I have just taken on a new project.

I’ve joined the volunteer costume making team at Anne Hathaway’s cottage – she being the wife of a certain Mr William Shakespeare.  I’m quite excited to get cracking on making things I’ve always wanted to make, but had absolutely no practical reason to do so!  I’ve started a new Pinterest board to collect ideas, dug out my historical costume pattern cutting books and ordered a couple of new ones.  I’ll be focussing on menswear first, but need to make a couple of 18th century ladies outfits too.  Any pointers greatfully received!!

One garment I did manage to finish last year after I got back was a pretty, softly draping viscose blouse for my Aunt in Cape Town.  I used Tunic 107 from the April 2016 Burdastyle magazine, mostly because I had it with me in South Africa, hoping to make a pair or two of the wide legged trousers in the same issue!  The fabric is lovely, a pretty floral print with contrast border that worked perfectly for the collar, sleeve bands and neckline treatment.  It meant I didn’t have to go looking for something else and all the colours worked well together already.  I cut it out there, but got nowhere with making it up until I’d got back.

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Tunic 107 Burdastyle April 2016

I made a narrow shoulder adjustment but otherwise cut a straight 38.  It went together really well, French seams used throughout.  I’m tempted to make one for myself if I can bear to add more fabric to the piles on the cutting table!

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I raised the point at which the front sections are sewn together by about 5-6 cm

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I love the neat little sleevebands

The reason I had that April Burdastyle in South Africa was so that I could run up a pair of viscose trousers before the weather got too hot.  I made it by days..  I’d taken the fabric with me, cut but no further along, and it took ages for me to find the time to get stuck in and sew.  Eventually I got them finished, and it really was in the nick of time.  I love how they swish softly around my ankles and they were perfect in the hot weather.  So good in fact, that I popped into a local fabric store and bought another couple of metres of border printed viscose and made another.

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Trousers 106 Burdastyle April 2016

The first pair were fully French seamed, this time I threw that all out of the window.  The linen trousers I’d brought from the UK were too thick to cope in the developing humidity and speed was of the essence.  A simple zigzag finish did the job and I managed to finish the second pair in a few late nights – desperation!!  I think I might love the second pair more than the first, although you’ll have to wait for the summer later this year to see proper photos.

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Measuring the hem very carefully!
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Happy that the pattern lined up well around the leg
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Loving being comfy and cool in my new trousers

So now I need some oompfh and inspiration to make a dent in the two piles currently awaiting my attention on the cutting table.  Hoping you’re all sewing much faster than me this new year.

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!

 

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!

I Put a Spell on You

Linen.  It’s one of my all time favourite fabrics to use.  It’s definitely put a spell on me!  I bought this gorgeous sky and white herringbone linen from Ditto Fabrics in January for a pair of trousers.  Unfortunately they don’t have any left for me to direct you to!  I decided not to use one of my usual patterns with wide legs as I had two in herringbone already. I went with a tapered leg style, number 103 from Burdastyle magazine April 2013.

Burdastyle trousers in sky herringbone linen
Burdastyle trousers in sky herringbone linen

I overlocked all the pieces before working with them as the linen frayed quite badly.  I made the 44, grading up to a 46 from the hip upwards.  I like the pressed pleat down the front and am pretty happy with the shape of the leg, although I might still shorten them a bit.  They’re already 6 cm shorter than the original pattern.

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The tee is a modified Maria Denmark Birgitte tee.   Fabric came in the same parcel from Ditto Fabrics as the linen, it’s a lovely soft navy blue viscose jersey.  For the pattern adjustments, I flared out the sides by 3cm and added a shaped hem.  Then  I cut a back yoke and cut the lower back on the fold with enough to add a small inverted pleat in the centre.  It’s just enough to have a bit more movement.

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Inverted pleat, back yoke and shirt shaped hem

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But I wasn’t happy with just one pair of trousers.  Oh no, I had to order plain blue navy linen from Fabworks Online to make another pair to wear with patterned (striped) tees!

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One more pair please!

Worn here with my self drafted cowl drape tee, this is exactly why I made the plain pants!  I realise I hadn’t gone into any detail about this tee, you saw it first back in January with my first pair of Birkin Flares.  I’ve not worn it until now, but it’s going into my suitcase next week, along with the blue trousers.  Both pairs of trousers and the blue tee form part of my “Sew Seasonal Wardrobe” for the Summer.

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Got to have decent pockets..
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Looks like I’m having a definite colour theme this year!

The tee is from my tee shirt block, I’d made the cowl drape pattern back in November last year to make something to wear to the dreaded wedding.  This is the same pattern, but with short sleeves.  The jersey is really something, also from Ditto Fabrics and from the same parcel as the blue jersey and sky herringbone linen!  Of all the fabric I ordered on that occasion from Ditto Fabrics, I have nothing left to find its way into my stash.  Nothing but scraps, it’s all been made up now!  Yippee!  Now what to make with the left-over bits…

 

True Love

Moar linen trousers for me!
Moar linen trousers for me!

Linen trousers mean summer time to me.  I have said it before, and I will definitely be saying it again!  When everyone else is reaching for skirts and shorts, I’m swanning about in my long, wide linen trousers.  So here’s to true love, & making yet another pair of linen trousers – another version of one of my favourite ever Burda patterns, 116 from March 2004.  I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I’ve used this pattern, in both summer and winter weight fabrics.  The last one I made was this indigo and white pair in herringbone linen blend from Fabric Godmother last year.

So I thought I’d make another.  This time I’ve got the most beautiful natural linen herringbone from Ditto Fabrics.  The second I saw the fabric on the website I added 2 m to my basket.  I didn’t even need to think about it. I might have added some other colours to my basket while I was at it.  But that’s for another day.

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The pattern was cut and made in a day, for me this pattern is so quick to make, even when making sure details line up properly.  I love the shape of the hip yoke pockets and the way they intersect with the shaped back yoke.  There is no waistband on these trousers, but for that, they fit beautifully at the low waist/high hip.  This is the second of my makes for my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe and will oh so definitely be packed in my suitcase for our holiday next month.

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The intersection of the shaped pocket (left) and the back yoke (right) at the side seam.

Mr Compulsive and I will be spending 3 weeks in South Africa next month and I cannot wait!  It’s been 5 years since our last visit and I am very keen to see friends and family again.  My suitcase will be a bit empty going out, I’ll need the extra space for the return!  Hopefully I’ll be making a few fabric purchases & I will be looking for more vintage atterns to add to my collection.  I also hope we can find some mid-century modern goodies to bring back.  Top on the list are glass and ceramics, but we’ll look at anything!  Considering the last time we returned with a 1m tall African drum, and the time before we had a 2x3m rug over our shoulder, nothing is beyond the realms of impossibilities.

Collage trousers 116
Details

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New Burda linen trousers worn with white Maria Denmark Birgitte tee and Burda linen jacket
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This is my “Bloody hell it’s freezing, have you got enough photos yet?” pose.

Is anyone else firing ahead on sewing for a yet to come summer/winter?

Hello Sailor

What is it about navy and white stripes that gets us thinking all summer and seaside?  I’ve been hankering after a blue and white, or white and blue stripey tee-shirt for months now, but never found the right one in the shops.  I’d steered clear of sewing my own until I had a decent knit block to work from, and that was taking time to get right too.  Then, by chance, I popped into one of the ladies shops in my local town and found a navy and white stripe jersey maxi dress, in my size, and that fitted rather well!!  On sale it was a snip at £34, so I bought it, with the idea of lopping off the bottom half so I’d have two tees!!

I should have taken a photo of the maxi dress before it got chopped up, but there you go, I was in far too much of a hurry!  It was/is from Scottish company Marble Clothing and can be seen here.  The first tee was made pretty easily, I simply put the dress on and marked with a couple of pins where I’d like the finished edge to be.  On taking the dress off, I measured down 2cm, then went a bit further down to get a stripe and cut along that line.  I used a twin needle to stitch the new hem and ta-daa…DSC00091-1

I love it!!!!  The neckline is really good for me, the scoop is perfect, just the right depth and width and it doesn’t stretch out while wearing, unlike my Plantain tees.

DSC00104-1I have taken the side seams in a bit since seeing these photos, and I wish I’d cut it a stripe or two longer, but of course, if I had, I wouldn’t have been able to make another tee!

DSC00106-1The bottom half was saved for another tee, but this time it wouldn’t be as easy or quick!  I’d made a start on a knit block earlier in the year and had to do loads of fiddling, only to make a tee that was too small.  So I decided to revisit the block and fiddle a little more.  I haven’t documented the process, I just kept changing and tweaking with each toile.  I’ve used a lot of jersey in toiles!!!  Eventually I managed to come up with a shape that worked and fitted, but course, I’m aware that with every different type of jersey it’s going to be very different, which is what’s annoying about knits…

I decided I’d like a v-neck tee with short sleeves – the sleeves ended up being shorter than I’d wanted, but lack of fabric dictated what I could have in the end.

DSC00117-1I started by cutting up the side seams of the skirt and then pinned the stripes together.  The front and back were placed to use the existing hem which helped with lining up the stripes on the side too!  The sleeves had to be cut separately, one on each skirt half and they had to be squeezed in so there’d be space for the neckband.  I had to piece the neckband, there just wasn’t enough length in the fabric to get it out in one shot.

DSC00122-1Making up was dead easy and really quick, the only issue was the neckband, getting that point right in the front meant I decided to sew it on with the sewing machine first, after a little fiddling I got it perfect, then went back over it with the overlocker and messed it all up!!  grrrrrr  I couldn’t do too much with it because – overlocker….  Damn.  The rest went together swimmingly, and I got those stripes on the side seams matching like a dream.

I love my new tee shirts!!  The fit is fabulous, the jersey itself is amazing.  The content is cotton with lycra and it’s lovely and soft.

Matching stripes - like a boss!
Matching stripes – like a boss! 
Not 100% happy with that flippy sleeve…

The only thing I’m not happy with in the second one, is the sleeves. The hems tend to roll up to the outside, I think it’s because they’re quite short and the hem is just 1cm. I might try adding a band to the bottom, I have some white cotton jersey in the stash that may help.

Now for the trousers..  I wanted a pair of trousers with flare/wide bootcut as a nod to the 70s trend this year.  There is a great pair in the July issue of BurdaStyle, but it wanted stretch fabrics and the fabric I had in mind was a beige linen – no stretch fibres built in.  So I reverted to another TNT pattern, 118 from April 2009.  I just love the shape of these trousers, but I do have to shorten them drastically!!  6cm has been folded out of the leg length of this pattern in order for it to fit my short Scottish pins.  The pattern goes up to a 44, so I did a little extra grading and made a 46 from hip up.  I just don’t go in enough for the 44 to fit comfortably!!  I think actually that I can get rid of a bit of this extra though, and take in a little down the thigh.  After putting on a bit of weight while I was out of sewing action and very, very bored, I have been able to get rid of the extra flab.  This means that I don’t actually need some of that extra ease I built in to the making of these pants!  So I’ll run a new line of stitching from the knee to hip and get a better shape for the flare from the knee down. (  Update – I have actually taken the side seams in from the waistband to knee, making for a much better fit and look overall.)

DSC00102-1I picked the perfect thread to sew with, you can’t really see any of it in the topstitching.  These little front patch pockets and just right, they try to discourage me from having my hands in my pockets too much, but are just the right size for my phone or a little change.  I am addicted to pockets, I never really know where to put my hands if I don’t have any!  I used seam tape for the hem, another occasion of just managing to fit the pattern pieces on the fabric.

Details, left, the inside of the zip, top right, the patch pockets, & bottom right, the hand stitched seam tape on the hem.
Details, left, the inside of the zip, top right, the patch pockets, & bottom right, the hand stitched seam tape on the hem.

DSC00089-1I love how these trousers look with the stripey tee shirts, they’re going to be the first thing I pack in my suitcase for my week in Cornwall!

In other sewing news, the prom dress was finished in time and looked fabulous! I have a couple of photos on my phone, but have yet to persuade daughter no2 to get dressed up again so I can take decent ones for you all to see.  We need details!  I also downloaded the Mandy Boat Neck Tee from Tessuti Patterns after spotting a few online and seeing Thornberry’s latest versions.  I’m obviously not over my quest for a square tee.  I made it quickly a couple of weekends ago, mid prom dress, and I’m dead chuffed!  So that’s another post waiting for photos.

Perhaps, if the weather’s not all it’s cracked up to be next week, I’ll be writing blog posts from our holiday apartment instead of exploring the Cornish countryside with the family.  I won’t be taking any sewing stuff with me this time not even patterns to trace!  I need desperately to crochet loads and loads of granny squares for daughter no2’s granny square afgan for University, I can’t believe there’s only one month today until she goes!  Time flies people…

*UPDATE* I thought I’d posted this particular post before setting off on holiday, then wondered why things were so quiet…  Turns out I’m a bit of a numpty and did nothing of the sort.  So I have been on my Cornish break, altered the trousers and next week will be adding a band to the sleeve hem of the self drafted tee!  I have also made loads of granny squares, and as I add this postscript, have just 12 more to do!  Then I need to block them all and start putting it all together. It’s going to take time & Daughter No2 leaves on the 8th of August…..

Shatta-Proof!

Burda trousers and tee
Burda trousers and tee

More stuff to show you all!  I’ve made another pair of linen trousers – no, you cannot have too many, they’re like shoes and handbags, didn’t you know??  This time I used a khaki linen from Fred Winter’s in Stratford on Avon and cut another TNT Burda pattern, 102 from July 2008 magazine.  This pattern needs no adjustments other than to shorten it by 4 cm, perfect!!

Burda 102 from 07/2008
Burda 102 from 07/2008

The linen is great, a soft, medium weight that won’t get all crunchy and crisp after it’s washed.  As the overlocker was still out from the last pair I zoomed round all the pieces leaving everything nice and neat.  It’s a really quick pattern for me, they were done and dusted in a day.  They have a straight cut leg and angular pocket, just simple trousers really!

shatta collageApologies for the creases, I decided to wear them before photographing could take place, and we all know linen loves to wrinkle.  I must learn not to “wear” my makes before showing them off!

To go with them I thought I had to make another of the Burda tees I made in the blue Ikat jersey.  I had 1 metre of “shatta” jersey from Fabric Godmother which, although it’s all madly patterned and in a lot of colours I don’t wear, I liked it.  It looks great with these trousers and I’ve tried it with darker ones too, with positive results!

wpid-dsc_20150615143947881-01.jpegI took no chances with the stretch though, ironing Vilene bias tape to every single neckline and sleeve opening edge.  This jersey drapes beautifully, is soft and light and was not going to be allowed to get away with being naughty.  The stabilisation worked a treat, although I may have overdone it a bit, the stock of bias tape has been much depleted.

Lots and lots of Vilene bias tape to stabilise all the stretchy areas
Lots and lots of Vilene bias tape to stabilise all the stretchy areas

I like it so much I’m tempted to order a metre of the blue version in the same jersey!

DSC00075-1I have at least 2 more pairs of trousers to make up, in linen of course, but I need to get cracking with Daughter No2’s prom dress first!  If you follow me on Instagram you’d have seen my toile progress so far, and I think it’s looking good!  So watch this space, sometime before the 3rd July there’ll be a (hopefully) gorgeous dress to show you all.