My Anglesey Chuck Sweater

As you may know from my last post (and my grumbling on Instagram) I haven’t had much time to sew over the last couple of months. I’ve theoretically had time in the evening but I’ve been too tired and sewing when tired means I make a complete mess of things. I have however managed to do a bit of knitting: this is the Chuck Sweater by Andi Satterlund:

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The yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash in Provence (colour 1975) from Laughing Hens. It’s a really soft merino wool which I’ve used for my last two Miettes. The colour is a very Tomatoey Red, a bit darker than the picture shows.

I cast on a Large which is a 41 inch bust. There are three stitch patterns for the cabling, the outer two are easy but the centre needs a bit of attention. It started out really well, the back was knitted then put on hold, the shoulders were picked up and then the neckline cast on. I got to the point where the underarms are cast on and it gets joined in the round without making any mistakes…. Then I realised it was twisted at the shoulder and I’d twisted my stitches when I cast on the front neckline! There were tears, I threw it in the corner and swore a lot. I spent a day sulking but decided to get back on the horse and sort it out. I painfully ripped back all the cabling and started again at the neckline (making sure I didn’t twist it this time)

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As is usually the case I made a few mistakes second time around and had to rip back a few rows but I eventually got to the bottom of it. I added one repeat of the first stitch pattern at the bottom to add a bit of length. I think it looks a little off balance though so if I knit it again I’ll have to have a rethink about how to add length. Although it took a few weeks to knit the body I managed to steam out both sleeves in five nights. I can never figure out why it takes so little time to knit a sleeve, anybody who sews will know that a sleeve is surprisingly big when laid flat, the time versus surface area continuum seems to be slightly skewed for some reason. I knitted the sleeves to the pattern, they are designed to be three quarter length but on me they were full.

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I got a bit of a spurt on finishing as we were off to Anglesey for the week. Going by how great the British summer has been I was determined to be prepared and a sweater seemed far more practical than a new swimsuit. As it was the first three days were scorching hot (I burnt my knees knitting on the beach!) and although it did get a little overcast at times the rest of the week the rain mostly left us alone. Here’s some location shots, the not so little one acted as photographer but I could only get him to take a few before he went off rambling over the rocks.

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I really love the finished sweater and with Autumn just around the corner (or rather knocking on the door) I know it’ll get a lot of wear.

 

My Maria Denmark Rachel Wrap Dress

There hasn’t been a lot of sewing going on recently, we’ve been doing some rather extensive decorating and even though I’d hoped to get a bit of sewing time in, the house has been so full of stuff there’s not been much room to manoeuvre. Coupled with every spare moment spent with a paintbrush my me time has been seriously reduced and my stress levels have been conversely elevated!

One thing I did manage to complete was the Rachel wrap dress from Maria Denmark, I’d cut this out before the decorating but then had to abandon it:

This jersey dress features a plunging neckline, that hugs the body due to the wide ribbing, cut shorter than the neckline. It has short or elbow length sleeves and ties, you can tie around the waist or at the side.

With no darts or special details, this is a relatively fast and easy dress to sew. You can make it today and wear it tomorrow!

Make your dress in a dark wool-blend jersey for wearing with tights and boots in the colder months, and make a short sleeved version in a brightly coloured rayon-jersey to wear with great heels for the summer wedding, you are going to.

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This is the third of pattern of Maria’s I’ve tried (The Edith blouse and the Kimono tee being the others) I was keen to try another knit dress as I wanted a bit of a variation from my Lady skaters. The fabric I used was a Liberty Jersey, it was a factory second from Ebay and a third of the price of its usual selling price. The only fault I found was a slight mis-print on part of the selvedge. This was the first time I’d sewn with Liberty Jersey, they have different weights and compositions (the full selection can be seen here) this one was a Clarendon which is medium weight and quite stable. My hopes for it were high as it pre-washed lovely.

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The size range is broad, going from a 34 inch bust up to a 54 which is a 47 ½ inch bust, 41inch waist and 50 ½ inch hip.   I cut a size 44 and did a 4 inch FBA following Maria’s tutorial for doing a full bust adjustment on a knit dress. I used nearly 3 metres of fabric (and made a matching headband with some of the leftovers, then decided it was too much!)

The Liberty was lovely to work with and the construction is straightforward and quick to sew up. I only made one deviation; Maria instructs you to sew the right side of the dress (The side with the opening for the tie to pass through) on a regular sewing machine and back tack at either side of the opening. My waist is the main stress area in any garment, expanding throughout the day due to lunch, sneaky chocolate eating and an apparent hereditary water retention problem (diagnosed by my mother who kindly told me I was getting to ‘that age’) I’m also not 100% confident with the stretch stitch on my new machine as I’ve had a couple of stitches pop on previous garments. Instead I overlocked the edges of the opening, then overlocked the sleeve and bodice seam above and the skirt seam below, I opened out the seam allowance and stitched it all down. It’s now thoroughly secure and should withstand a lot of abuse.

 

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One thing to watch out for is the first step, which is to attach the ties to the neckband and then set them aside. I didn’t have a problem with my muslin but I had to shorten the neckband on the Liberty as it didn’t stretch tight enough, I think this is purely down to a difference in the amount of stretch but I would recommend waiting until the dress is constructed and just checking the length before attaching the ties.

The neckband is stretched as you would with a normal knit neckband until a point just above the bust, then the bit between there and the waist is stretched to the limit which makes the fit around the bust very secure with no chance of gaping.

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I’ve never sewn a wrap dress before and the finished silhouette is a bit of a departure from my usual style but I quite like it and feel strangely ‘grown up’ wearing it. I was initially a bit unsure about the boobiness of it but had to keep reminding myself that as I was looking down I had a birds eye view. I have worn a camisole underneath but I wanted to show you the dress in its natural state! It’s been great to wear with sandals, especially as the great British summer has provided the need for sleeves but I think this dress is really going to come into its own during the cooler months, it’s perfect for layering and will be great with boots and a cardigan. It’ll be a good alternative to my ladyskaters, I’ve already got another more autumnal version in the queue with more bargain bagged liberty jersey!

My True Bias ( Maxi-ed View A) Southport Dress

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I had actually cut out another dress prior to this but a sudden heatwave in the UK exposed a gap in my wardrobe for serious hot weather wear so the Southport got bumped to the top of the queue. I was always unsure about Maxi’s before I started sewing again. I tried one on once but the image in the changing room mirror just made me look even shorter, as I was completely swamped by the length. It was only when I made a shirred Maxi out of a border print that I realised just how comfortable they were. It’s the first thing I reach for when the temperature hits the eighties so I knew with the heat I needed another ( I’d been washing and drip drying the other overnight so I could wear it again the following day!)

I’d seen a few Southports during Me Made May so the pattern was already on my list. I really wanted to make view B, the maxi version, but only had a metre and a half of drapey viscose which I bought at the Leeds meet up. The maxi version is a lot fuller in the skirt and no matter how hard I wished the fabric fairies to make it fit there was no way to squeeze it out of my limited fabric. The only thing to do was to Maxi View A. To try and conserve fabric I omitted the button placket and just cut the front on the fold at the centre front. I also used some contrasting fabric for the pockets.

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I cut the size 14 and as this is my second True Bias pattern (the Sutton Blouses are here) it does seem to run true to size. I must confess that I didn’t staystitch the neckline, I don’t know if it’s just me but stay stitching on finer fabrics seems to do more harm than good, on a couple of occasions I’ve thought the fabric has stretched out because of it. Instead I barely handled it and when I did took extra care. For this reason I really took my time with binding the neckline and armholes, ironing and shaping with each step

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I made the skirt with all the fabric I had left after cutting the bodice, luckily being short worked in my favour as I had just enough to make it full length (another couple of inches would have been preferable but I don’t think it matters)  One thing I’m particularly amazed at is having the foresight to see if I’d actually be able to walk in it. The circumference of the skirt was around 50 inches and so I poddled around the dining room with a tape measure around my ankles. It proved to be a little restrictive, I could walk but if there was ever the need to increase my pace or maybe even run I would struggle. I added six inch slits at the side just to free things up a bit.

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I am more than happy with the finished dress, it was a dream to sew and for once no mistakes! It’s cool and comfortable but still looks pulled together. I really want to make another, especially the fuller skirted Version B but I’m not sure I’ve got any suitable fabric in my stash (a thinly veiled reason to go fabric shopping) I think it works on my figure because of the amount of drape in the fabric and Maxis are meant to be floaty. The shorter version would work ok in something with a bit more body though so I might give that a try with some Lawn. As soon as I started sewing this the Sun disappeared and the temperature dropped by ten degrees. At least if it does warm up again I’ll be prepared with my pair of alternating Maxis!

Two True Bias Sutton Blouses

There hasn’t been a lot of sewing going on recently. It’s the busiest time of year at work and we’re also decorating so the house is in disarray. The only thing passing through my sewing machine has been a pair of curtains. I’ve got so many things on my list but only managed to grab a couple of hours this week, if I don’t get some serious sewing ‘me time’ soon tempers are likely to fray!

I made these Sutton blouses a few weeks ago. I wanted to try the pattern after seeing loads of lovely versions during Me made may (May turned out to be quite expensive due to all the new patterns I ‘needed’ to have)

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‘The Sutton Blouse is a loose fitting V-neck top with kimono sleeves, a one piece yoke and a back inverted pleat.’

For the first one I used a metre and a half of black and grey floral viscose I bought at the Leeds meet up. I cut a size 14 based on my measurements. The pattern is drafted for a height of 5ft 6 inches. As I’m short waisted and short in general (5ft 2inch if I’m standing straight) I decided to shorten the pattern by two inches. It’s a neat little pattern, all French seams apart from side seams. The directions suggest overlocking the side seams but the fabric was light enough to double turn and stitch each edge before stitching the seam together.

One thing that didn’t even cross my mind (which doesn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders at the moment) was to pay attention to pattern placement, consequently the front seam has chopped a big flower in half (didn’t even notice until I put it on my dressform when it was finished) It also ended up being a little shorter than anticipated. I’ve worked out that the optimum length to cover the mum tum is 5 inches below my belly button, this was an inch or two shorter so the tum is just peaking out! The pattern however does run true to size. I really don’t know what to do about shortening things anymore, this is the second time recently that I’ve made my usual adjustment only to find out I didn’t need to (I shortened my first Morris Blazer which then ended up being a bit too ‘cropped’) I always worry about things being too long and swamping me, I think I just need to take a bit more time measuring the pattern pieces before I start chopping.

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For my next Sutton I didn’t shorten the length. I used just under a metre and a half of Liberty silk satin which I bagged off ebay for a tenner. This was my first time working with silk satin, I’ve used silk twill and Crepe de Chine before which are a bit fiddly but I managed to get them to co-operated in the end.

This however fought me every step of the way. I laid it on a blanket (using Sew Busy lizzies timely suggestion on Instagram) pinned it down and weighted the pattern pieces with anything I had to hand. This seemed to stop it moving around and it wasn’t too difficult to cut if I took it slowly (I did actually pay attention to the pattern placement this time) However once I lifted the cut pieces they shifted around so much that I had no idea if they were on grain or even cut straight. I decided to forge ahead with the sewing, questioning the straightness of every seam I sewed (and trimming off bit’s here and there, convinced they was some wonkiness going on) I made it up exactly the same as the first; french seams and double fold side seams. The finished top isn’t too bad but I think the back yoke is a little out and I’m sure there’s something weird going on with the side seams. It’s one of those things that nobody will notice but I know it’s there!

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highlighting my wonky side seam!

The first Sutton has been worn a lot since finishing but I’m really not sure about the silk one. I think it’s entirely down to all the hassle it gave me. There seems to be a direct correlation between how much I like a garment and how well the sewing process went. It’ll take a bit of time for me to forget all the pain and trouble it gave me (a bit like childbirth) but I it’s highly unlikely I’ll be sewing with silk satin again anytime soon!

Is it just me or has anybody else fallen out with a garment that was a troublesome sew?

Maria Denmark Edith Adventures Part Two – The Liberty Carline Ones

This post could quite easily consist of me going ‘squeeeeeee!’ accompanied by photos of my overly smiley face but it might be helpful to add a bit of background before we get to that.

Following on from my first two Maria Denmark Ediths I felt confident about cutting into some Liberty. I had a little over a metre of the red Liberty Carline Poplin in my stash for a while with no real plan what to use it for. Then I scored a metre and a half of the blue Tana Lawn on Ebay. While I was stroking it and pondering what to do, the other half helpfully suggested using it to make a blouse and so a plan was hatched. I decided to use both pieces and make a pair, a little more production line sewing.   Maybe I’m just impatient but I’ve found it doesn’t really take that much longer to make multiples at the same time.

I cut out the red first as it was the smaller yardage. I managed to fit it all on but had to cut one of the front pieces on the cross grain. I spent ages trying to work out if the print had any direction but after twiddling and comparing decided it was multi-directional so would be fine. I ended up with a 40cm x 40cm chunk left, plenty to use for facings and pocket linings. The Blue was easily squeezed out and I pleasingly had more than enough left to make a pair of matching knickers!

I sewed them up the same as my previous two, a size 44 and C-cup. I French seamed them again (my overlocker must be feeling very lonely). the only changes I made were to:

  • Lower the bust dart an inch
  • Raise the back darts an inch
  • Square off the collar

I didn’t have the right buttons in my stash so armed with swatches of fabric I made a trip to my local haberdashery. It took half an hour for me to decide, the most fitting were the red mother of pearl and some green vintage looking ones.

Anyway here’s some pictures:

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Elderly photo bombing cat!

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Squeeeeee face!

I’m struggling to put into words how pleased I am with how they’ve turned out. It was one of those projects where you get halfway through and start to get a tingly feeling in your stomach as you realise it’s going to be a winner. I finished them at the end of May and wore each one during the final days of Me Made May. As soon as May was over I’ve binge worn them constantly, at least having two means they get regular washing!

The fit is as near as perfect I’m going to get. I haven’t really sewn many sleeveless tops recently so they’ve definitely filled a gap in the wardrobe. They’re great with skirts and jeans and perfect under a cardigan, the red works really well with my green Miette and the blue with the green or the navy. I know I say this about every project but I really think these are the favouritest things I’ve ever made!

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And of course there are the matching knickers!

Maria Denmark Edith Adventures – Part One

After my success with Maria Denmark’s free Kimono tee pattern I thought I’d give another of her patterns a try. I’d been eyeing up the Edith dress and blouse for a while:

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For the dress I used the lemon fabric I bagged at the SewBrum meet up swap, originally from Louise over at Not Sew Simple. I’d been wondering what to use it for, it shouted out strappy sun dress but the opportunities to wear one in the UK are few and far between so a shirtdress seemed the perfect compromise.

The pattern is available in two sizes; for a B and C cup. I chose the C cup and cut a size 44. One thing to note is that Maria’s patterns don’t include seam allowances. I added a 1.5cm SA around the main pattern pieces and 1cm on the collar and facings. It was surprisingly quick to put together, I didn’t use my overlocker but French seamed throughout. I added side seam pockets but placed them quite low below the hips so as not to interfere with the line of the dress. I also tapered the end of the shoulders down by a centimetre, my shoulders are quite broad so I wanted to reduce the emphasis a little. (These pictures were taken on a massive photo catch up session btw, the dress was the last item and things had got a little silly by then!)

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I like the finished dress, it’s very comfortable, especially without having any restrictions around the waist. I’m not sure that the yellow works next to my pale skin but it looks great paired with my green Miette cardigan which seems to tone down the yellow and highlights the green in the fabric.

The only thing I didn’t like about the pattern was the round collar, but this is purely down to my school summer uniform which consisted of a Boater and a really unflattering shirt dress. It was designed in the early seventies, so wearing it in the eighties was more than a little outdated. The fabric was horrible, it had a circle skirt which took off with every slight breath of wind, exposing navy polyester knickers for all to see. It also had a huge round seventies collar, every time I see one now I get flashbacks!

Anyway, I’d had a metre and a half of pale blue gingham cotton in my stash for a couple of years. I bought it specifically to make a blouse but never got around to it. The blouse uses very little fabric and I was easily able to squeeze it out of just over a metre. For this version I decided to square the collar off but otherwise made it up as the dress. One of the great things about this pattern is the amount of darts which give it a lovely shape. There are fisheye darts front and back, bust darts and back shoulder darts. The fit is really good with plenty of room in the bust so no need for a FBA. I finished it off with some vintage buttons I’d had in my stash for ages. The fabric doesn’t photograph very well but it’s a nice little everyday blouse (I could have done with running an iron over both of these before the photos!)

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Next time I’ll lower the bust and back darts by an inch, (a short waist and droopy boob adjustment) take the plunge and cut into some precious Liberty! (to be continued…..)

Me Made May: The Final Week (and a bit)

Well May is over and it seems to have gone by so quickly. Unfortunately the great British weather wasn’t as good as last year so most of my summer dresses stayed in the wardrobe. Luckily I had the foresight not to pack away the cooler weather stuff.

 

Day twenty two

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Maria Denmark spotty Kimono Tee and Grainline Morris Blazer

I’ve grown rather fond of my Spotty Tees, now May is over I can wear them multiple times a week.

Day twenty three

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Liberty Mitsi Deer and Doe Sureau

This is a perfect in between dress, I actually got my legs out.

Day twenty four

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Stripey Deer and Doe Plantain dress

It’s first outing and perfect for pottering around in. It really needs some sunshine though…and a beach….and maybe a Yacht.

Day twenty five

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Blue Liberty Carline Maria Denmark Edith Blouse

This is my favourite thing ever. Like the spotty tees I can wear it almost constantly now May is over!

Day twenty six

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Gingham Maria Denmark Edith Blouse and Navy Miette Cardigan

It was sunny and I nearly put a dress on but we were going to the Cinema and I was worried about draughty air conditioning.

Day twenty seven

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Broderie Anglaise Grainline Scout

This hadn’t had much wear since making it last year. Partially because I can’t keep anything white clean but it also seemed a little unfinished. I added a French Lace trim to the hem and sleeves and like it much better now.

Day twenty eight

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Green Colette Hawthorn and Green Miette Cardigan

At this point I was becoming very conscious of how much blue I wear so this was a concerted effort to change things up a little.

Day twenty nine

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Blue Flowery Lady Skater

Yep, blue again!

Day thirty

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Sewaholic Cambie dress

Determined to wear a summer dress before May is out. (blue again)

Day thirty one

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Maria Denmark Liberty Edith blouse and Green Miette Cardigan

The final day and a chance to wear the second of my Carline Blouses. I’ve managed to find a bag with the same print and I’m also planning some matching knickers (overkill maybe?)

 

Final thoughts:

I easily managed to do no repeats and quite a few things didn’t get worn. It’s maybe time to do a bit of a wardrobe cull but I’m quite attached and sentimental about the things I’ve made.

I really like blue.

I’m obsessed with the weather.

I wore jeans for twelve days, dresses for fifteen and skirts only three times (and a Bruyere) I actually prefer wearing dresses but do wear jeans more often than I thought. I should maybe concentrate on making tops for a bit so I have something different to wear with them.

I’ve been wearing me made knickers all month but modesty prevented me from posting them on the internet. We are in the process of bedroom decorating so the majority of my undies have been packed away until they get some new drawers to live in. I’ve allowed myself five pairs but have to rely on them finding their way into the washing machine with some frequency. Luckily this week is Measure Twice Cut Once’s Everyone Deserves Pretty Knickers week so I’ll be spending time increasing my available knicker stock!

I am a little sad it’s all over, it’s been great seeing everyone’s outfits and I’ve really looked forward to sitting down with a coffee and having a real Instagram binge. There’s been so much inspiration and my monthly sewing budget has been totally blown on all the new patterns I’ve had to get. The only problem now is figuring out what to sew next, my brain is saturated with ideas and projects. I’m hoping the knicker making might give me time to take stock and put some kind of order to the sewing queue.

A big thank you to Zoe for hosting it again, it’s been a great month!