Thursday, 12 July 2018

Like Sew Amazing Blog Squad - Deer and Doe Plantain

For my second Like Sew Amazing Blog Squad make I opted to try a pattern I have not made before - The Deer and Doe Plantain top. I've seen loads of amazing versions of it all over Instagram and can't believe it has taken me this long to try it!

The Plantain is a free pattern from Deer and Doe when you register your details with them. It has a scoop neck and a slightly flared shape. There are optional elbow patches but I left these off. There are 3 sleeve lengths and I was initially planning 3/4 sleeves, but decided on elbow length. To get the length right I folded the pattern piece halfway across the elbow patch marking, so that it would hit at my elbow.

The fabric I chose is this beautiful stripy cotton jersey. It is white and pale sage/teal and is lovely and fresh for this time of year. It is a good weight, very opaque and has a lot of stretch recovery. It is very soft and was stable and easy to work with. The edges do roll slightly when it is cut, but it stays still when cutting and sewing so the stipe matching was much easier!

The Plantain is a very quick, easy sew. In this jersey, including cutting out and stripe matching, the whole process was under an hour and a half. I think cotton jerseys like this make speedy sewing a lot easier because they don't shift around or stretch out awkwardly.

The one part I struggled very slightly with was the neckband, it really has to be stretched a lot to fit the neckline. I thought I would end up with a very puckered neckline, but this fabric held up really well under the tension and with a little bit of a press it lies so flat and neat. I topstitched the seam allowance down all around the neck and I think it might be my neatest one yet!

I think this is a really flattering and versatile pattern and I can see myself making a lot more. I love the fabric and after I made it I spotted a similar fabric on Boden, made into a long sleeved top. 

This top reminds me of the I AM Patterns Zebre, I think it could be completely recreated using this fabric. I also think the fabric is probably better quality than the Boden option as it contains elastane to help it bounce back into shape.

Boden also do a pink version, and the same fabric I used is also available in pink! I love these colours for this time of year and you can't go wrong with stripes!

Jenny x

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Adam Ross Blogger Network - True Bias Lander Pants Review

I was delighted to be asked to be part of the Adam Ross Blogger Network last month and am very happy to share my first make!

Adam Ross stock an amazing selection of fabrics at very reasonable prices. For my first make I wanted to sew up the True Bias Lander Pants so I chose the Soft Grey Denim Fabric.

I was genuinely very impressed with the quality of this fabric when it arrived. It’s soft and densely woven, with a small amount of stretch. It’s a perfect match for the Lander Pants. I have already ordered it in the indigo and midnight colourways too as I would like to make the Pauline Alice Rosari skirt and it would be perfect for that.

As you would expect from denim, it sews and presses very well. I used a brand new denim needle in my machine and it sewed up so easily.

I have never made the Lander Pants before and was very keen to give them a try. When I looked at the body measurements chart, I realised there was a big difference between the size needed for my waist and the size needed for my hips. My hip size is 4 whole sizes bigger than my waist size. After looking around at what some other bloggers had done, I decided to cut the larger size and adjust the waist. I was originally planning to lose the weight I gained during pregnancy before making the Lander Pants, as I'm still not very comfortable carrying the extra weight. However, my weight loss progress is non-existent at the moment so I thought I would just get on and make them as I don't have many pairs of trousers that fit me. I'm not completely convinced the style of these is right for my current body shape and size, but they are very comfortable and easy to wear and I do end up reaching for them a lot when I get dressed.

The adjustments I made were to taper the darts in more at the waist. I tapered them in by 1.5cm at the top of the dart, reducing the waist measurement by 6cm overall. I then used a bigger seam allowance on the side seams at the waist, reducing the waist measurement by a further 10cm overall. I tried them on before adding the waistband to check the fit. When I came to add the waistband it was obviously too long and the notches didn’t match up. I have a hollow back and a big bum, so there is still a little gaping at the waistband but I can live with that. Next time I make these I will cut out a curved waistband to improve the fit.

I love the details on these trousers. The patch pockets are easy and look great, the button fly is an interesting detail and I love the ankle length! I actually feel pretty cool wearing these, which never happens!

The stretch in the denim makes these trousers very comfortable to wear. The recovery is good too, I can wear these all day and not worry about them getting baggy. I also think a little stretch in the fabric makes the fitting easier as the fabric is more forgiving. I haven't got the fit perfect on these yet, I have a difficult body shape for tight fitting trousers and can never seem to get a perfect fit. These are casual trousers though and I think most of the fit issues would not be that noticeable by the general public.

I had a lot of fun making these, installing the buttons, doing belt loops and topstitching. I’m really happy with these and can see many more pairs being made in the different shades of denim stocked by Adam Ross.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Nina Lee London - Mayfair Dress - Pattern Review

I recently pattern tested the Mayfair Dress by Nina Lee. I made the maxi version with short sleeves, as I only have one maxi dress at the moment and I wear it a lot! I think maxi jersey dresses are so comfy and easy to wear in summer. 

The dress has some interesting details that set it apart, it has a shawl-type collar and the facing is constructed using the burrito method for a clean finish. I think my jersey was a little thick for the burrito method on a maxi dress, there was a lot of fabric to tightly roll! It gives a lovely finish though and is really satisfying!

I like the shaping at the front and the waist tie. The shaping is really flattering and I found that a contrast waist tie helps to break up the maxi dress.

The front has a v-neck and it’s low enough for me to successfully breastfeed in!  I’m not sure how much longer I’ll need that functionality, but it’s really useful at the moment.

I’m planning another Mayfair maxi dress in a grey, dandelion print viscose jersey. I think this time I’ll make the sleeves slightly longer as I’m a little self conscious of my upper arms. I’m already eyeing up lots more viscose jerseys as I can see these dresses getting a lot of wear!

This is the sort of pattern that I love, comfy, flattering, effortless and with some interesting design details. The pattern requires a drapey jersey, such as a viscose jersey. I didn’t have enough viscose jersey in my stash to make the maxi version, so I used an organic cotton-spandex jersey from Elvelyckan Designs. It was mustard with black wavy lines, which at the time I bought it seemed like a good idea, but the yellow colour looks awful with my skin tone so I decided to dye the dress once I’d finished. The dye was not all that successful, but it is still an improvement. I think I will try dyeing it again to get a more even colour as it is a bit patchy in places. The quality of the fabric is amazing, it is so soft and densely knitted and has a great stretch recovery. I will definitely be buying more! I think it is aimed at children's wear but they have started stocking plain colours too and slightly more grown up prints. I did a plain black tie belt as a contrast from some fabric in my stash, which was also a cotton spandex blend.

I was very happy to be able to test the Mayfair Dress by Nina Lee London. This was my first time pattern testing for Nina and it was a really enjoyable experience. There were a few changes made to the pattern after the testing process, but they relate mainly to the longer sleeved versions, so my finished version is a pretty accurate representation of the finalised pattern.

Overall I would really recommend this pattern, Nina’s instructions are fantastic as usual and it’s such a versatile dress with so many options and fabrics available to make every version look very different. Let me know if you have any questions or you are thinking of making this pattern!


Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Like Sew Amazing Blog Squad - Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers

I was delighted to be asked to be a part of the Like Sew Amazing Blog Squad along along with some very talented sewists.

For my first make I chose the navy blue stretch cotton to make the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers.

I’ve made the Ultimate Trousers before, so this time I decided to do a hack to raise the waist and add a waistband. Lisa has a good tutorial to this on the Sew Over It vlog. The other alteration I made was to add 4” to the leg length (I’m 5’8” so I normally need to lengthen trousers anyway) I managed to get the fit pretty good just by adjusting the back darts slightly. The stretch cotton really helps with the fit as it’s more forgiving than a rigid woven fabric.

I really struggle to find decent quality stretch cotton in plain colours for basic, everyday clothes. There are lots of florals and bold prints around, but I’m a fan of making clothes that get a lot of wear. This stretch cotton is a perfect match for the Ultimate Trousers. It has a decent amount of stretch and good recovery. I can wear these trousers all day and they still look good at the end of the day! There is a very slight sheen to the cotton, but it is still fine for everyday wear, it's not noticeably shiny like a lot of cotton sateens. 

The fabric was very easy to work with and sewed and pressed easily. I think if you are new to trouser making this combination of pattern and fabric is a real winner, it is a very straightforward pattern (especially if you don't do the waistband hack).

I think this fabric would also work well for the Closet Case Files Sasha Pants or a pencil skirt or fitted dress. It’s a lovely weight for this time of year too, not too thick or heavy.

I’m very pleased with my trousers and I know they will get a lot of wear.

Jenny x

Friday, 2 February 2018

Kinder Cardigan Review from The Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics by Wendy Ward

Ever since getting wind of a new book in the pipeline from Wendy I’ve been excited about its release.

My husband very kindly bought me a signed copy for Christmas and it arrived at my house on publication day. I already had decided I would make the Kinder Cardigan first, as it’s a classic wardrobe staple that I’ve been missing. I was so eagerly anticipating the arrival of the book that my fabric had been pre washed and ironed in readiness.

I have all 3 of Wendy’s dressmaking books now, as well as some of her sewing patterns. I really like her succinct written instructions and hand drawn diagrams. Everything is explained logically and the construction of all the garments is as simple as possible.

I don’t have a huge amount of time at the moment, so I had to split the making of this cardi into 3 separate stages to make it manageable.

Stage 1 was reading through the instructions, checking what size to make and tracing off the pattern in the right size. I have to say, the tracing was really easy! It was much more confusing in Wendy’s other books, where there were more patterns overlapping each other. The patterns do overlap, but are really clear to see and are colour coded. This stage took me about an hour.

Stage 2 was cutting out my fabric. I had been saving this lovely, drapey, striped loopback jersey for over a year - just waiting for the perfect project. It was from Girl Charlee UK and is long sold out, but they have just got a new range of cosy jerseys in that look lovely. As I was stripe matching, this stage took me about an hour too.

Stage 3 was sewing. I have my sewing machine and overlocker in an Ikea bureau, which means they are out of sight and reach but already plugged in and ready to go. This really speeds up my sewing time and allows me to start and stop much more easily. I actually managed to get a rare evening where my daughter fell asleep before 9, so I was able to sew the entire cardigan in a single session, it took me 1 hour and 40 minutes in total. I took my time because I wanted to match my stripes well and it was my first time sewing this pattern. I think if I made this again without any pattern matching it would be under 1 and a half hours.

The reason I’ve included all my timings is because I find it really useful, before I embark on a new project, to know how involved and time consuming it might be. As I don’t have much time to myself, I like to plan it quite carefully to make the most of it.

I’m very pleased with the finished cardigan. The length is perfect for me and those big pockets are lovely! The fabric I used is probably a little too loose and drapey for this pattern. It doesn’t look as structured as Wendy’s samples and the pockets gape open. I might add a little button or press stud at the top of the pockets for when my hands aren’t in them!

I’m looking forward to trying more patterns from the book and will definitely be making more of these cardigans!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

My 2018 Make Nine Plans

I’ve already posted my 2018 Make Nine on Instagram, but thought I would go into more detail here, including my fabric choices for each project and my approximate timeline.

I thought really hard about each of the makes I’m proposing and tried to get a good mix of projects, from a range of designers. There are some simple projects and some more complicated, time consuming ones. 8 out of 9 are patterns I have never tried before.

I will go through them in the order I plan to make them in.

1 - Juniper Cardigan by Jennifer Lauren Handmade

I’ve had my eye on this pattern for a while. I love both versions, but am planning to make the cropped version with long sleeves. My brother bought me some gorgeously soft sweatshirt jersey for Christmas in mustard and navy, and I’m planning to completely copy one of Jennifer’s samples and make a colour blocked version. The jerseys are bolt End remnants so I may have to get creative to get everything to fit!

I’m aiming to get this sewn up this month, as I am in desperate need of a fitted cardi in my wardrobe and my fabric choice is perfect for the cold weather we are having in the UK.

2 - Ilsley Skirt by Marilla Walker.

This is the 1 pattern I have made before, for the Refashioners challenge in 2015. I made it out of an old shirt. For this version I want to make it a little longer, about knee length.

I have some gorgeous Robert Kaufman chambray in my stash that would be perfect for this. Chambray is probably my all time favourite fabric, so lovely to work with and really versatile.

I thought this would pair really well with the Juniper Cardigan, so it’s up next!

3 - Camera Bag

On Instagram I posted a photo of a camera bag from the latest Mollie Makes issue, but after a bit more thought I’ve decided to draft my own pattern to better fit my camera and my needs.

I’m going to use some heavyweight fabric from my stash (to be confirmed once I’ve had a rummage) and I want proper fastenings and an adjustable shoulder strap. I’m going to add in more pockets for my phone, memory cards and lens cap and make a matching lens pouch for my additional lens.

I’m really excited about this. I’ve drafted patterns for bags before and I love thinking through all the details and construction.

4 - Simple Sew Sophia Top and Skirt

I really like the Sophia outfit and have plans for quite a dressy top and then a skirt that can either be smart or casual - to increase its wearability.

For the top I have some bright pink stretch cotton velveteen. I very rarely ware pink, but thought I’d give it a try as it’s quite a small amount of it. I like the simple, cropped shape of the top and have seen some lovely versions of it. 

For the skirt I was planning black cupro that I have in my stash. I may need to line it, I’ll decide when I start sewing it up.

I’m hoping to get started on these around May time. I’m not actually sure when I will get chance to wear these, as I’m not going out at all (due to a little breastfeeder) but I don’t have any smart separates in my wardrobe and think these will be versatile and useful.

5 - Sew Over It Doris Dress

I’m planning to make the Doris Dress for a wedding in July. I need something that can open at the front for breastfeeding, though my daughter will be 10 months old by then so will probably be feeding less frequently. I’ll make the longer length and have some dusky blue cupro in my stash that will be perfect for July. I have bought some yellow shoes already to go with this!

6 - True Bias Lander Pants

I want to make these to coincide with the #sewmystyle challenge on Instagram, so will be sewing these in July. I’ve made a pair of Sew Over It ultimate trousers once before, a couple of years ago, but never made a fly fronted pair of trousers. I thought these would be a good introduction to jeans making as they require less fitting than skinny jeans. I love the high waist and they just look like they will be flattering and easy to wear. I have two fabric options for these, some black twill and some khaki green twill. I might end up making both!

7 - Wrap Dress from Simple Modern Sewing

I love wrap dresses and one of my favourite makes from last year was the Seamwork Magazine Reggie dress. I made it towards the end of my pregnancy and the empire line style worked really well with my bump. As I’m pear shaped I tend to avoid empire waist lines, so was looking for a wrap dress that ties around the natural waistline. There are lots of clean, simple designs in the Simple Modern Sewing book. I plan to make the wrap dress first, but would also like to try the loose fit trousers and some of the tops. I want to make this in time to go back to work at the end of summer. 

8 - Colette Patterns Beignet Skirt

I’ve liked this skirt for as long as I’ve been following Tilly’s blog, which is a long time! I have so so many fabrics in my stash that would work for this, but will probably use a Robert Kaufman teal herringbone flannel that I picked up from the Cool Crafting stand at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show.

This fabric is absolutely beautiful. I stupidly only bought one metre, so I’m hoping that I can squeeze the Beignet out of this if I make the facings from a different fabric.

If that fails, I've got some teal needlecord that would also be a good match for this pattern. This is the perfect autumn skirt, as it’s fully lined I can wear it with tights and it will be useful for work too.

9 - Waffle Patterns Yuzu Coat

This is by far the biggest and most complicated project I have planned for this year. I’m saving it till last as I need as much brainpower and time as I can get! My approach is to take it slowly and make it over a couple of months. I’m planning to start in September and hopefully finish by Bonfire Night!

I have some teal wool boucle fabric, which has a good amount of body and should work well. I need to find the perfect buttons and lining still!

I didn’t end up making all of my Make Nine last year, but when I decided on the patterns I didn’t realise I would become pregnant in January! So that meant most of my pattern choices were no longer suitable. This year I’ve focused on a wide range of patterns that I know are missing from my wardrobe and are easy to fit in to my daily life. There would be no point including lots of dresses as whilst I’m still breastfeeding I can’t wear them! I’m hoping this more considered approach will give me more success this year.

My sewing time is pretty limited at the moment so I’m not putting pressure on myself to achieve a lot of new projects every month. I hope to take part in lots of Instagram challenges and competitions as I really enjoy them. I’m also hoping to blog more regularly - I’m just awful at getting my makes photographed! Does anyone else have that problem? Every year I tell myself I will start vlogging, but I still haven’t filmed a single vlog. I’m pretty nervous about it to be honest. I hate the sound of my own voice and I think I’ll be really awkward. I really enjoy watching other sewing youtubers though so I hope I can conquer my fear and get started!

Friday, 29 December 2017

Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry Dress Review

I have had my eye on the Mayberry Dress from Jennifer Lauren Handmade since it was released, but as I was pregnant at the time I waited until I had had my baby before tackling it!

The instructions were amazing, I was very impressed with how thorough they were and how clear the diagrams were. Even though there are some slightly more advanced techniques in the pattern, the instructions are so clear that I think a beginner could tackle them. These are the best set in sleeves I've ever done!

The instructions clearly explain which PDF pages need printing for each cup size option and sleeve length, meaning that you don’t waste paper printing pattern pieces that aren’t needed.

I particularly love the different cup size options. The pattern comes with 4 different bodice front pieces for each side, which minimises the need to do any bust adjustments and means you are more likely to get a better fit straight out of the pack. This is actually the first time I’ve used an independent pattern company that provides different cup sizes and I’m very impressed with the fit.

The fabric I used wasn't ideal, it was a quilting weight cotton and it's actually a bit stiff for this project. The tie waist feature and gathered sleeve cuff would work better in something a little more fluid. I've got some lovely, fine chambray that I'm going to use for my next one. It’s also a fabric design that I loved when I ordered it, but don’t actually think the colour suits me. I love the dress so much I’ve still been wearing it loads though!

I didn't make any alterations to this pattern. The cup sizes mean the fit was pretty close without making any adjustments. The tie waist also allows some adjustments once you are wearing it. The only thing I will change next time is to lengthen the skirt a couple of inches, it's just a personal preference but I would be more comfortable if it sat at my knees. I'm 5'8 for reference, so lengthening things is a common adjustment for me.

I am planning a lot more of these. It's a great dress for the winter with long sleeves, as I don't have many. I also think the style is perfect for anything smart-casual. I could wear this to work easily as well as at the weekends, it's so easy and comfortable.

The other element of this dress that I wanted to review is its suitability for nursing and post-partum mums. Even when I was pregnant I thought it would be a great post-baby dress. I was right! The drawstring waist means it can be adjusted as your tummy shrinks down and is really flattering. I was desperate to get out of maternity clothes and wear something with a waist, but didn't want to sew anything with a fixed waistband whilst my figure was still changing. The other great thing is the button front, which allows access for breastfeeding. As it's asymmetrical, one side is easier than the other but it still works well. For easier and quicker access you could replace the buttons for snaps.

Overall I love this dress pattern and would recommend it to everyone! I'm looking forward to making a lot more, at least one for each season!