My Deer and Doe Melilot Shirt

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Deer and Doe patterns, their designs always appeal to me and the drafting is such that they’re a pleasure to sew. The Sureau is my go to dress when I can’t decide what to wear, the Chardon is practically the only skirt I wear and the Plantain tee is heads above any other pattern I’ve made. As they are drafted for an hourglass figure and a C cup they always seem to fit with minimal adjustments.

When the Melilot shirt was released I ordered it straight away. I’d been looking for an alternative shirt pattern to my TNT Grainline Archer and judging by the photos the Melilot seemed to fit the bill.

6tag_120316-151837

A couple of months ago I entered a giveaway on Instagram from Fabworks Millshop for a bundle of fabrics. I was over the moon when I found out I’d won, particularly being on a stash diet since the New Year. Opening the parcel was amazing and I was mentally matching patterns to each piece as I went through. They were nearly all blue too so it had to be destiny! This was the first piece of fabric I used, a Navy cotton with little pink arrows embroidered into it.

WP_20160216_001

Looking at the pictures I decided to shorten the bodice by 2 inches, a usual adjustment for me being 5 foot 2 inch and short waisted. Going by the finished measurements I cut a 46 which is the largest size.

The instructions are quite brief but if supplemented with a couple of online tutorials could be tackled by an advanced beginner.

The button band had me puzzled for a while, I couldn’t figure out how it folded together. It was only when I looked at the picture on the envelope that I realised view A has a concealed button band which accounted for the excess bit of fabric. As I had some pink Mother of Pearl buttons in mind I went with the exposed one.

6tag_030416-165550

I opted for a mix of both views, using the collar of view A with the button band and sleeves of view B. I left off the pockets due to a combination of laziness and feeling they would upset the print if I didn’t match them perfectly.

I used Andrea of Four Square walls tutorial for attaching the collar. This is arguably the best tutorial ever written and I use it every time it comes to attaching a collar, Her method makes it so easy.

As I was making the short sleeved version I didn’t need the sleeve placket. I did however look over the instructions and if you’ve never done one before it would be difficult to follow. There are some good tutorials out there though, such as the one Tasia did for her Sewaholic Granville Shirt.

IMG_1352

IMG_1354

I checked the final measurements of the shirt and they correspond to those given on the envelope. It’s so much easier to pick the right size when looking at the finished measurements, I really wish more pattern companies would include these on the envelope.

IMG_1394

 

IMG_1390

IMG_1382

IMG_1381

Overall it’s definitely a winner for me. The rounded collar and darts give it feminine silhouette which will work well on curves. It’s also versatile, with the different variations and the potential to work with a wide range of fabrics. I’m glad to have found another wardrobe staple, especially as I have so much fabric now to choose from!

My Peggy Olsen inspired ‘Reneta’

I love Mad Men, I still watch it on a continuous loop, usually when I’m sewing. The wardrobe has been an endless source of fascination and inspiration. It’s easy to be drawn towards a specific characters sense of style, there’s Joan’s bombshell wiggle dresses, Betty’s classic understated chic, but for me though it’s all about Peggy. There’s many Peggy dresses I would love in my wardrobe but I’ve been particularly obsessed with the cowl necked Damson number for years.

At SewBrum in October I set myself a mission to find the perfect fabric for my own version. Possibilities arose in Barry’s but they were either too purple or too red. There was nothing on the Rag market (I think the reason I bought so little fabric at was because I was so intent on finding ‘the one’) I prepared myself for disappointment but struck gold at Guthrie and Ghani, hiding under the cutting table was the holy grail, one of their Luxury Jerseys (A blend of Silk and Model) the colour was spot on, it draped beautifully and was so soft, it really lived up to its name.

6tag_170116-123503

I used the cowl version of the Sewaholic Renfrew  which I planned to morph into the Colette Moneta skirt. I was initially going to be good and make a muslin but in the end decided to live dangerously and dive straight in (my justification was that I knew both patterns fitted, it was just a matter of how to fudge them together)

WP_20160117_001

Renfrew in red Moneta in green

The cowl on the Renfrew is quite deep, I wanted to get as close to my inspiration as possible so I raised the neckline by 2 inches and shortened the cowl accordingly. There’s a big difference between the two patterns, particularly around the shoulders and armscye. The best course of action was to keep things simple so I used the Renfew until the bottom of the armscye (sleeves and cuffs included) then measured the length of the Moneta bodice and drafted that onto the bottom half. The skirt was all Moneta.

WP_20160201_002

WP_20160201_020 (2)

It came together without a hitch, there’s quite a bit of weight to the fabric and I was worried it may pull the skirt down as it did on my last Monetas. Just in case I shortened the elastic in the waist seam to keep it snug. When I tried it on it fitted but I felt something was lacking. I’d contemplated attaching a waistband during construction but decided there was far too much chance of making a mess and ruining the whole thing. Instead I made a tube of fabric, gathered it at the side and l hand stitched it to the waist at three inch intervals to allow for stretch.

IMG_1169

IMG_1158 (3)

(This is the third outfit taken on my windy day photo shoot!)

IMG_1159

IMG_1162

IMG_1166

 (I’ve just noticed that I hadn’t pressed the hem after sewing!)

It actually turned out better than I’d imagined, the gathered waistband really balances out the drape of the cowl. The fabric feels lovely to wear, very cosy and perfect for the colder weather. Unfortunately I don’t have a cardigan that works with it (I could really do with a black one but it would be so boring to knit) it does need something to break up the large expanse of boob though! I’ll definitely make another but not until the Autumn as my head is full of Spring sewing, I expect yours is too!

Helen x

A Snowdrop Deer and Doe Sureau

As the Camas blouse was the last thing I made I thought I’d show you the first this year. The fabric was a Christmas present from my Mother in Law, it’s one of Liberty’s 2015 collection called Hesketh (I can’t find it on the liberty website but it’s available here) This is the black and white colourway, it does come in navy and white (as well as grey) but I am trying really hard to move out of my blue comfort zone.

WP_20160104_006 1

I decided not to risk using a new pattern and stick with my TNT Deer and Doe Sureau. I made it up exactly the same as my other ones (tried one of my other ones on to check it still fitted first!) cutting a 42 at the shoulder and grading to a 44 through the bust and waist.   I used a 9 inch zip instead of the 16 inch one suggested on the pattern and added side seam pockets underneath. Again I added a little cuff to finish the sleeves. I also remembered to curve the waist darts which seems to make a big difference to the fit underneath the bust. Instead of the gathers on the front placket I added two tucks.

Once the dress was finished the print was so busy you couldn’t actually see the placket. I thought adding buttons would look odd and after an Instagram poll agreed I left them off.

WP_20160116_005

WP_20160116_008

It was so good using an old tried and true pattern. Being able to just cut straight out and sew without all the hassle of working out sizing and fitting was a perfect way to start the year.

It’s a lovely (and very seasonally appropriate) dress.  Snowdrops are one of my favourite flowers and I have a snowdrop necklace which goes perfectly. While we are on the subject of Snowdrops mine in the garden have been behaving strangely this year. They are usually the first things to push through in January but they’ve been really late, only coming into flower at the end of February (I’ve even had Daffodils flowering before them) I think they must need a period of sustained cold before they start to grow and the mild winter we have had has confused them somewhat. Anyway, I digress! My other Sureaus have had so much wear, with boots in the cooler weather and sandals when it warms up.  I know this one will get year round wear too.  All in all it’s a lovely little pattern I’m so glad I gave it another outing!

IMG_1181

IMG_1222

And then the wind got up….

IMG_1212

IMG_1201

IMG_1177

IMG_1178

IMG_1219

If I look rather dishevelled here, you should see the next ones!

 

This was a wonderful Christmas present and one which will last for years to come. I gave her a similar present this year, some beautiful Malabrigo yarn (which I really wanted to keep myself) and the Casu Cowl pattern as a ‘knit your own Christmas present’ thankfully she was pleased, so much nicer than perfume and pyjamas!

Helen x

Thread Theory Camas Blouse Spotty Sew along

I’ve been really struggling to take photos so far this year. The other half usually acts as photographer but trying to coordinate a time when we are both in during daylight (and I’ve had the inclination) has been difficult. His patience has also been running low when faced with multiple garments. This has become more evident in the quality of the photos (this video also made me chuckle!) The ones that are actually in focus (and with my eyes open) are usually me swearing at him through gritted teeth while he says ‘well do something then, they’ all look the same!’ I’ve also noticed that many are slightly wonky and look like I’m standing on a hill. With four things in the queue things reached crisis point.  So after three years of using my phone I’ve bought a proper (albeit second hand) camera, tripod and remote.

I’m going to start my catch up with the most recent thing I’ve made; the Thread Theory Camas Blouse. This has been on my radar since its release last year as it’s very similar to a well-loved Fat Face blouse I’ve had for years. When they announced a sew along (and a discount for the pattern) it gave me the push I needed, here’s the description:

‘Enjoy the unrestricted comfort of a t-shirt and the put together elegance of a blouse.  This blouse is designed to be COMFORTABLE and can be sewn in knits or stretch fabrics.  It features shoulder and back yokes, elegant gathering, and a flattering curved v-shaped neckline placket.  

The gathers create a flattering shape that is loose enough to float over the body rather than cling to it.  The delicately curved hem can be tucked into trousers and skirts or can be left loose to float over skinny jeans.  The slim sleeves end just below the elbow to create the perfect multi-season blouse.

WP_20160202_002 (2)

I used a vintage Liberty Viscose bought from eBay, £12 for two and a half meters. I was sceptical when I bought it but when it arrived it had the Liberty bolt label attached and the last length cut was dated 1992. As the pattern is designed for knits I went up a size (to a 16) to account for using a woven fabric.

It was an absolute joy to make from start to finish, quite easy and came together really quickly. The sew along is very detailed and although I used the printed instructions is was useful just to check how the button band went in.   I skipped buttonholes as I could slip it over my head so I just sewed the buttons on shutting the placket.  I used some buttons from my stash and also used my expanding sewing gauge for the first time!

WP_20160206_015 (2)

WP_20160211_004 1

 

It did turn out to be a bit too big. In hindsight I should have looked at the finished measurements before choosing my size. There is a very detailed list below the size chart and it is also printed on the back pattern piece. I usually grumble about patterns not including the finished garment measurements yet this time I had a bit of a brain drain and didn’t think to look at them. It’s perfectly wearable and the fabric drapes beautifully but I think I might take it in a little bit (I seem to have a real fear of making things too small so overcompensate by sizing up too much)

IMG_0873

IMG_0871

Apart from choosing the wrong size I think I’ve found my perfect blouse pattern. I love the style, very simple but with just enough detail and in the right places. I’ve dismissed many blouse patterns before as they look great on the model but I know with my bust they would resemble maternity wear. I’ve already cut out my next one, this time in a blue polka dot (my first blue thing this year!) I’ve cut a size 14 but graded into a 12 at the waist. If I can get the sizing right I think I’ll be making a small army of them to see me through Spring and Summer.

IMG_1306

IMG_1290

IMG_1283

I had a marathon solo photo session but it was a bit windy so my hair got messier and messier with every picture. We could probably have a game of ‘guess which order the blog photos were taken’ over the next few posts. I think I prefer the tripod to my other half, much more patient and with a steadier hand. I was just merrily clicking away so hopefully there should be a bit more variety to the usual smiling with gritted teeth!

IMG_1273

here

IMG_1274

comes

IMG_1275

Humphrey!

IMG_1333

I’ll leave you with this scary staring one!

Helen x

Two Liberty Jersey Monetas

A quick catch up post with these two Colette Monetas. They were the first things I made after finishing my Coat and were the perfect palate cleansing instant sewification I needed. Both fabrics were bargain Liberty seconds from eBay. The blue is quite fine and very stretchy but has a lot of weight to it, the grey is slightly thicker but with a similar weight.

WP_20160110_031

WP_20160110_032

I made both of them up the same as my last Moneta, cutting a large. I had to take the skirt off the blue one and shorten the bodice as the weight of the skirt was pulling it down a fair bit. I took an inch off the grey too for the same reason. I sewed them up mainly on my overlocker and just twin needled the hem and neckline on my regular machine. It’s been nearly two months since I finished these and they have been well worn. They’re perfect secret pyjamas for pottering around the house, paired with leggings and a cardie. I took these photos a couple of weeks ago and they must have been washed a dozen times before but they look just as good as when I first made them. It just shows that although Liberty jersey is expensive it really does stand up to repeated wearing and washing. I still have one more piece in my stash, a heavier weight grey/blue/black print, there’s a couple of possible patterns but I don’t want to commit until I’m sure of a match.

WP_20160110_022

WP_20160110_023

 

WP_20160110_089

WP_20160110_026

WP_20160110_029

WP_20160110_064

 

I’m still enjoying sewing without a plan. The dress I’m working on at the moment is a copy of one Peggy wore on Mad Men which I’ve been wanting to make for a couple of years. There’s been a bit of frankenpatterning and tweaking going on but I’ve got high hopes for it. If I can get it finished this weekend I’ll be happy. Then it’s just a matter of looking through my stash and seeing where inspiration takes me for my next project!

My Grainline Cascade Duffle

Hello, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I’m easing my way into the New Year gradually, January is by far the most miserable month of the year. Over the years I’ve found a good way to get through it; basically I pretend it’s still Christmas! I don’t deprive myself of anything, I don’t force myself to go running in the freezing cold. Instead I go into hibernation with a couple of good books, some sewing, a bit of knitting and Netflix. It’s going great so far!

I haven’t blogged since November so I’ve got a fair bit of catching up to do. The whole of December went by under permanent cloud making the prospect of half decent blog photos remote. When the Sun did peek through I decided to be adventurous and go to the park for a photo shoot. I felt ridiculous amongst the dog walkers and the photos were terrible. I think I’ve scared myself off of location shots for life so it was back to the safety our North facing garden.

I started working on the Cascade Duffle at the beginning of November. I’ve never made a coat before so I wanted to take my time. In the end it took just over three weeks of steady stage by stage sewing. This is likely to be a lengthy post so I’ve tried to break it down a bit.

WP_20151102_005 (2)

Fabric and Notions

I was torn with the main fabric, apprehensive to spend too much in case I messed it up. With no local sources I had to buy online. I turned to eBay, searching for ‘heavy wool coating fabric’ I found a listing for 3 metres of a heavy navy wool cashmere blend for only £30. I was a little sceptical about the fibre content but figured I could always use it as a wearable muslin. I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived, it was very soft to the touch with a lovely hand. I folded it back up and left it in the bottom of my wardrobe until needed. When I got it out a month later I’d been wondering what the best way would be to get rid of the inevitable creases it must have. I was amazed when I unfolded it that there wasn’t a single crease, having a chance to look more closely the quality was impeccable. I found two stickers pointing to barely noticeable faults but the rest was perfect.

For the lining I scored some heavy satin from eBay for £7. I expected it to be a very dark bottle green as the picture suggested but when it arrived it was much brighter. I went for the heavier lining fabric for a bit of added warmth. As a contrast and to tie the two colours together I used some leftover blackwatch tartan for the hood lining and zipper band.

I’d been worried about how to make the toggles when an instagrammer gave me the heads up about some she’d bought on eBay. The seller makes them himself and to be honest was my knight in shining armour as I wasn’t looking forward to making my own, I think they were around £10 for a set of four.

I bought a paper copy of the pattern from Guthrie and Ghani during SewBrum which was £14.50. With the cost of fabric at £37 and toggles the whole coat cost £61.50 ($88.64)

 

Sizing

I opted to go up from my usual Grainline size 14 and went for the 16. I shortened the sleeves by three inches (I have never owned a coat with the right length sleeves!) I was in a quandary about which view to make. The full length would be too long on me, drowning me like most ready to wear coats. The shorter option seemed too short. I wanted a coat that would just cover my bum so after lots of measuring shoulder to bum ratios I lengthened the shorter version by four inches.

 

Cutting out

Oh my, the cutting out!   There was no way I was going to try printing the PDF. I didn’t trace it either, there are so many pattern pieces, at least 30 , so I just cut straight into the tissue. The cutting out was by far the worst and most time consuming part of the project, taking a whole day. I can’t emphasise how important it is to label every piece. I left everything pinned to their corresponding pattern piece and also pinned another label on each just to be safe.

 

Construction

The construction process launches you straight in at the deep end by completing the whole front of the coat first: pockets, zipper and toggles. Sewing the toggles on was the scariest bit, I really didn’t want to bugger it up as a mistake would be really noticeable. I stuck them in place first with fabric glue and used a leather needle which cut’s through the leather rather than piercing it, making a channel for the thread to pass through. The stitching isn’t perfect but thankfully they all went on first go. Once you get past this part it’s plain sailing!

I used a 110/18 needle to sew the rest of the coat. I manged to get through 5 as there was a lot of bulk in places which resulted in bent needles. Using my walking foot definitely made things easier, I also put the extension table on my machine which helped to support the weight of the coat. The fabric was reluctant to hold a crease with just the iron so I used a block of wood as a makeshift clapper. Using a pressing cloth I pumped as much steam as possible into the crease and pressed down with the clapper until the fabric cooled which worked perfectly. The rest of the coat came together easily, there are lots of little steps which makes it an ideal project to potter away at. I was sceptical about the final part of bagging the lining. The whole coat needs to be turned out through a six inch gap in the sleeve lining, there was a lot of coat but miraculously it worked its way through to the right side. The final touch was adding a leather coat hook (by Hemline) and the Sew Brum meet up make label that was part of our goodie bags.

WP_20151126_001

WP_20151126_003

WP_20151126_029

WP_20151126_017

WP_20151126_014

WP_20151126_008

These photos have been taken after six weeks of regular wearing so you can see it’s holding up well. The most amazing part is that it fits, it’s the perfect length and the sleeves don’t need turning under! It’s also very warm, it’s been tested in wind, rain and freezing temperatures and nothing has manged to get through it so far.

WP_20160110_063

WP_20160110_053

WP_20160110_040 (3)

WP_20160110_038

I’d highly recommend making a Cascade if you’ve never made a coat before. There’s a full sewalong which was useful when I was a little unsure about the written instructions. It’s a step by step process, none of which are difficult.

I’d definitely make another, most likely a collared version. I’ll be keeping my eye out for some fabric over the summer, I’m thinking red would be nice.

I had a bit of a quick sew splurge after finishing my coat, with two more Moneta’s and three Linden sweatshirts. I’ve also made a couple more dresses, hopefully I’ll have chance to get some of them blogged in the next few weeks. I’m really enjoying my spontaneous short term sewing too, it’s lovely to ponder all the possibilities, waiting for inspiration to strike and really getting excited about a project. Maybe I should adopt this philosophy in other areas!

 

2015 – Some Year End Musings

Is it just me or did 2015 whizz by? They say time gets quicker as you age but at this pace a year will be more like a month by the time I’m sixty. One of the culprits seems to be having school age children, we seem to be living term to term and counting down the weeks until we can have a break from the weekday routine and stay in our pyjamas until mid-day. Contrary to this (and thankfully) Christmas seems to be going by at a nice steady pace. I finished work on the 19th which gave me a whole week to get organised. I was actually settled down with a Baileys and Tia Maria by 7pm on Christmas Eve. As the New Year approaches I thought I’d have a look back and see where my sewing had gone over the past 12 months.

My main plan at the beginning of the year was to get rid of the plan. Like many, I had built up a huge ‘to sew’ list with no chance of ever getting to the end of it. I wanted a bit of spontaneity, to just go where the fabric took me. I also wanted to slow down a bit, spend time concentrating on finish and just letting projects take however long they took. I expected to be less productive but a quick tally shows I’ve made 38 garments this year which, strangely enough, is the same amount as last year. It’s been mainly dresses, 18 of them, closely followed by tops at 16, 2 jackets and 1 coat. I’ve only made one skirt which seems a little odd but probably very telling about what I’m drawn to.

2015 was also the year when people started to comment that everything I seemed to sew was blue! I’d never noticed before and I’m amazed as it was staring me in the face every time I opened my wardrobe. I have no idea why I am drawn to it. I’ve since become quite self-conscious about my fabric choices and it has become a bit of a running joke on Instagram. I’ve been making a concerted effort to choose other colours over the past few months but one look at my favourites indicates it’s just not working.

On the knitting front I’ve produced three cardigans and two sweaters (only one of which is blue you’ll be pleased to know) My favourite by far has been my Audrey in Unst which has had a lot of wear and I’m itching to make another.

WP_20151121_009

Following in the end of year tradition I have a few favourites.

My number one has to be my Cascade Duffle Coat. I finished it at the end of November but haven’t managed to blog it yet as getting pictures in the dreary overcast light of recent weeks has been impossible. It has been worn constantly since I finished and exposed to both wind and rain. I can report that it has kept me snuggly warm and dry and is the best coat I’ve ever had!

6tag_261115-103231

My second is definitely my blue Liberty Carline Edith blouse, I can’t emphasise enough how much I love this. I wore it at every opportunity and have since invested in a few more metres of the fabric to make a very special dress.

WP_20150524_077

My Liberty Summer M6696 is also up there, it took me ages to finish as it coincided with the summer holiday and a rather overwhelming bout of decorating. As I finished it at the end of the summer it didn’t get much wear but I’m really looking forward to getting it out once Spring raises its head.

WP_20150905_050

My Spotty Plantain and Kimono tees were also easy go to’s as well, unfortunately the jersey wasn’t very good quality so they are looking a bit forlorn but I’m on the lookout for more polka dots to make replacements.

6tag_300415-084535

6tag_300415-185118

Lastly my recent Blackwatch Tartan Frankenpattern. It’s just the perfect me dress!

WP_20151107_010

 

There have been a few things that have been left languishing in the back of my wardrobe.

The main disaster was my silk Sutton Blouse. It gave me such a hard time sewing it that I took an instant dislike to it. I thought time would soften my view but it hasn’t and I’ve only worn it once. It was only afterwards I remembered the can of starch I’d bought to tame tricky fabrics!

WP_20150627_009

My next one was my Lemon Edith Dress. I’m a bit peeved about this as the fabric was from Louise at Notsewsimple at last years SewBrum. I should really have used it to make a skirt as the yellow next to my face makes me look a little washed out and ill.

WP_20150524_092

Finally is my Rachel Wrap Dress. I liked it as a dress but just not on me. It was a little too clingy around my stomach and I felt like a sack of potatoes tied in the middle. Afterwards I found tying it at the side improved it vastly but I still wasn’t 100% sure about it.

WP_20150808_019

 

Looking forward to 2016 I have a few ideas

  • I need to learn to take things easy in general and take advantage of any downtime I can get. I tend to push myself so hard that when things quieten down a bit I’m absolutely knackered and it takes me all my time to get back to some semblance of normality.
  • I’m definitely going to continue with the spontaneous sewing, it really has taken the pressure out of something which, in essence, is supposed to be enjoyable and therapeutic.
  • I want to revisit old patterns that have worked well but been pushed aside by all the shiny new ones. I love the Deer and Doe Sureau and have only made two Emery dresses. McCalls 6696 is also a winner which needs another rendition.

That’s about it really, I think the best plan is not to have one. I’m also carrying this over to New Year Resolutions, if I don’t make them I can’t break them!

Wishing you all health and happiness for 2016!