This cardigan has been a long time coming. So long in fact, that it pretty much killed knitting for me last year. It is the Zephyr cardi by Tori Gurbisz and it is designed to be completely seamless, knit top down using a contiguous yoke method.
It’s not bad, I love that you can knit a whole cardigan without sewing any seams, but the pattern is so complicated! It caters for too many sizes within one set of instructions so that following it made me want to throw my knitting down in frustration. So of course I would put the project down and forget where I was, which made picking it back up again so difficult.
So it makes sense then that the one thing that finally made me want to finish it was the frustration I felt while making my culottes a few weeks ago. Losing a bit of sewjo definitely has brought back my …errr….. knitjo?
I’m so happy it’s done, especially right now when the temperature is beginning to fall. I knit it out of nine balls of Debbie Bliss Amalfi a cotton/viscose/linen/silk blend – well there’s a mouthful – and it is a good fit for the garment and not too warm to wear in Australia (I hardly wear any of my thick wool jumpers over here).
But the best thing is that now I can pick a new project! I have a large stash and a bigger queue and the possibility of all those projects to cast on now I’m feeling my knit groove is really exciting. What’s on your needles right now?
Well it’s months after the fact, but I have finally made another one of the items on my plan that I set a while back! Now while a month of that I was travelling, I really have been super lax on the whole ‘plan’ thing. Including my coat, that is now a grand total of two items off the list. So here’s to putting an end to that….
I wanted to blog these culottes a week ago, but being self-drafted they threw up a couple of challenges. I used my trusty Winifred Aldrich pattern making book to tell me how to draft culottes from my skirt block. Once I finished making a culotte block, I tried to be clever and blend the front darts into the pockets, however the execution wasn’t really up to it and the pockets don’t really sit 100% flat on the body. I managed to fiddle them as flat as possible after the fact, but there is a definite note on this pattern that the pocket needs to be sorted out before these get made again – yes I really do make up a little spec sheet with notes for future use on almost every pattern I make!
After i fixed that issue, I had to fix a second one…… the fabric. Oh online fabric shopping! I bought this gorgeous baby blue linen from Tessuti online and was delighted when I received it for being exactly the colour and the weight that I wanted. What you can’t see in a picture however is the density of the weave. This fabric has a nice loose weave, which makes them almost completely see-through!!!!
Ok, it is nothing like a chiffon or anything, but when the light passes through you better be wearing skin colour pants, that’s all I can say. Oh and it probably helps if your legs are the same colour as the pocket fabric too. Luckily I am in possession of a fabulous friend, with a habit of buying amazing fabric remnants from an op shop somewhere, who just happened to have a loose weave cotton in light blue in exactly the right amount to line this baby. I know, what are the chances of that?
Project saved! But also project took a little longer than it ought. That’s ok though because I managed to get my knitting mojo back in the process, so I hope to be showing you a little more variety in my finished objects from now on.
So, what will I sew next? Something on the list? Or maybe another pretty distraction? Only time will tell.
I am so late for getting around to sewing this dress. I bought the pattern for the BHL Anna dress early last year and other stuff just jumped in front of it in the queue. My bestie and I planned to make this dress together as a sew along which added to the delay and we have had fairly different experiences with the fit. This pattern fit me very easily with very minor alterations (playing with the placement of the shoulder seam and shortening the tucks under the bust) and other than a little neck gape, which I have fixed in the pattern for next time, this dress is perfect. It’s so comfy and lightweight in Liberty Tana Lawn, just what I need for the really hot few days Melbourne has managed to experience after having such a crappy cold spell.
Despite my luck with the fit on this one, we’re still trying to get the fit right on my friends dress however. It’s a pity because she’s lost interest a little bit already and has cheated on it with a gorgeous little Tilly number that looks gorgeous on her – what’s a girl to do, so many patterns and so little time right?
I don’t know if there is much else to say about this, I actually made a dress in an appropriate fabric without really messing with it in any way. This happens so infrequently that I feel that there’s ’nuff said already. You can see the results for yourself….
What’s a girl to do when she wants to sew in the New Year but has eaten ALL the mince pies over Christmas? I have to admit I was feeling a bit reluctant about getting back to sewing knowing that my tummy was a little bigger than my usual measurements. Feeling that it is easier to burn off a couple of Christmas kilos than refit all my patterns however, I’m going to go back to trusty Michelle Bridges 12wbt to get myself back on track with my fitness this year. Don’t fear that this blog is going to go all health and fitness freaky any time soon though, the only gym stories you’ll see here will be like the time I managed to send a fit ball bouncing on to a bunch of people doing crunches and stretches on the floor – true story!!
In the meantime however I thought an appropriate project would be finishing this T-shirt WIP that I started late last year.
I bought two 75 cm lots of this poly knit fabric at Cleggs (one in this chartreuse colour and another in teal) because I love the 3-dimensional texture and thought it would be perfect for the kimono tee pattern I made back when I started my blog. I added a few cm to the length of the pattern because the last one came out a little short and I’m really happy with it now! It’s a flattering shape and I feel really comfortable wearing it despite not feeling my best, definitely more of these to come, but in the meantime I must get back to my summer sewing plan….
This photo was taken on Christmas Day when my partner and I were out on a walk. It was beautiful but bitterly cold, perfect for being swathed in a warm wool/cashmere coat. The fabric for the shell was perfect, super soft and the slight nap on this fabric gave it a lux sheen. It also weathered really well. After a month of heavy use, look at the lack of pilling or wear and tear on an area prone to a lot of rubbing:
An area I was less lucky with however, was the lining.
I knew that this fabric was a bit delicate for a coat lining, but figured I would get at least a season of wear out of it until I had to think about relining the thing. However this is obviously not the case, with the seams getting shredded around the seat, under arms and elbow after just a week of wear. This just goes to show that you shouldn’t always let your heart guide your fabric choice.
The fact that this fabric is so delicate leaves me a bit at a loss for what it would be useful for, as I think it is probably too easily fraying for a dress lining too. Nevermind however, a fabric shopping trip to the amazing Goldhawk Road (a first for me) provided this much sturdier and fairly similar replacement:
I can’t face redoing it now, but it won’t be cold enough to wear this for at least five months, so I have plenty of time to get around to it. I hereby make a pledge though that it WILL be done by the time winter comes around. There I’ve said it and I plan to be a woman of my word.
One other area where things didn’t quite go as planned were my accessories. I paired this coat with a black leather handbag. It turns out that leather dyes can rub off from your accessories onto your light coloured wool garments! I have black residue on a few areas of my lovely coat, including the lapel!!
This really did leave me feeling sad, until I figured I had lots of scraps left over that I could test stain removal techniques on before committing to working on the real thing. The black dye easily came off my bag onto the scrap with a bit of rubbing. I then found that I could get the stain to fade quite easily with a light brushing, which was a relief. I then sprayed the swatch with water and took a scrap of white poplin wrapped around my finger and dipped it in a gentle liquid laundry detergent. The stain was lifted quite easily with a bit of light rubbing and the soap could be soaked out by alternating the water spray and dabbing with a towel. I hope that this is as easy to do on the coat as it was on the scrap, but at least I know that I won’t damage the fabric by trying.
So there was the drama after the first outing of my coat and perhaps also a lesson to others so they can prevent future calamity in their coat making endeavours!
Happy New Year!! How was your holidays? I had planned on keeping the blog going through my trip back to the UK but in the end I had a long break from posting, even to the extent of taking a virtual social media holiday. I think that was a good thing though. It meant I was more present while I was with my family and when you can only see your family every 24-18 months that’s very important. I had an amazing time and as you can see from the photo above (taken at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park) it was freezing back home.
So, back to the sewing! I decided to break this post into two; in the first post I’ll talk about making the Ingrid coat and the second I’m going to say a little bit about how it functioned and what I’d do differently next time. I loved this pattern from the moment it was released. It is very chic and minimalist and perfect for the pink winter coat trend that hit last year. Finding the pink wool coating was trickier. I had stalked the local and online fabric shops for just the right shade for ages before finding this wool/cashmere blend in the Cleggs sale. I was stoked! The lining fabric is a poly-satin from Spotlight that I fell in love with as soon as I saw it. I’m not sure it is sturdy enough for a lining but I figured as long as I had the pattern lying around, it wouldn’t be too bad if I had to whip up another one at the end of winter 2015.
Style Arc Patterns come in a single size readily printed on sturdy paper. Despite this I still traced off the pattern as I knew I would be messing about with the fit and I wanted to have a hard copy incase things went wrong. I wanted this coat to fit a bit like an oversized tuxedo jacket (according to the size chart I fall between the size 8 and 10) so I lumped for the 10 to give the oversize shape. Before making my first muslin I did my usual 1 cm forward shoulder alterations. the first test version fit well with the idea I had in my head. It was massively long on me though and I ended up taking 13cm off the length and 5cm from the sleeves. In order to keep the design lines in proportion I split this reduction into three taking it from the waist, across the pockets and from the hem.
The length alterations worked well in the second muslin so I tested the collar and I’m glad I did as the revers in the pattern are different to the revers in the pattern illustration!! The illustration as you can see above has a notched lapel, where the pattern is actually peaked. I wrote to Chloe at Style Arc who confirmed that this was an error in the illustration and that she preferred the revers in the drawing so would alter the pattern to match, so you might want to check that out if you have a go at this yourself.
Knocking up the coat was pretty straightforward using the construction method I learnt at college. I tried on the shell once I had finished putting the shoulder pads in and I was struck by how weird the armholes looked at the back. After playing with it a bit it turned out to be an easy fix: the side panels have some ease in them compared to the centre back panel just below the armholes. Removing that ease eliminated a lot of the wrinkling I was seeing in the back. I also scooped out some more of the lower back quadrant of the armhole by about a cm and found that this eliminated a fold of fabric that I was seeing behind the sleeve. I’ve already mentioned my shoulders are a little weird so don’t let all this put you off the trying the pattern yourself ;).
Here you can see the fixed shoulder on the left versus the original on the right (excuse the blurriness of the picture, there was poor light that day):
From the side you can also see that fold of fabric I was talking about:
I also ended up taking a 4 cm tapered wedge out of the back seam as I had a bit more room in the lower back than I needed. All in all nothing too hard to handle in the alteration department. The rest came together with very few problems until I got to the buttonholes! I got some fabric covered buttons made at Jimmy Buttons that I was very happy with until I realised my buttonhole foot was too small for the job.
Thankfully after taking some advice from the lovely Stitcher and Gatherer and some phoning around I found somewhere (Melbourne Tailoring) that would do them for me professionally at $5 a buttonhole. I also got a good lesson in how you are supposed to fasten a double breasted garment. As a tailor with over 70 years experience he wasn’t too impressed with my lack of knowledge on the subject, but very patiently explained that you have a buttonhole on each side of the coat fronts and sew a double shank button onto your coat that has a button for show at the front but fastens the coat at the back. Well lessons gladly learned.
I’ve had this post in it’s composite parts for a few weeks now, it just hasn’t happened as yet another busy period comes and goes leaving me a bit too drained to pursue anything creative. My current WIP is the Style Arc Ingrid winter coat that I really want to finish in time for my trip back to the UK for Christmas. Despite the deadline I want to really slow down for this project and to make sure I take real care to get this garment right. A good winter coat should be with you for years to come and only be retired once it wears out (or if it really lasts a long time, begins to look seriously dated). I’ve just completed my second muslin to test whether my adjustments to the pattern work and I’m not only happy with the fit, but also happy that I took the time to test everything again as the lapel on this coat pattern differs from that in the pattern illustration – how irritating!
As you can see from the notes above I’ve had to remove 13 cm length from this coat to fit my 157 cm frame. As not to negatively impact the scale of the pockets and double breasted closure on this coat I distributed that reduction in length between the waist, across the pockets as well as removing 5 cm from the hem. I’m happy with the results and feeling a little smug about how much control I have over these factors as a sewer.
I’ve never really been one for planning what I make, but recently however, I’ve been feeling that when I look at what’s in my wardrobe there is little cohesion to what I see. I now want to take the time to put a little thought into what I make this season so I get more wear out of it. This planning session was then made a lot easier when I spotted the latest offerings this season in Country Road. I rarely see anything in CR that I normally like, however I often find that one particular shop in a season really grabs me with their collection and it seems to be CR’s turn this time to turn out a lot of inspiring pieces. It probably helps that this summer they are borrowing heavily from the aesthetic of one of my favourite Aussue designers Obus.
I really love the ensemble above, a baby blue linen suite that balances dressy and nonchalant casual chic. It’s simple in its design lines but has some interesting details that get me excited now that I have a few pattern making skills to play with. The pants have a straight leg with a semi open pleat running down the front and end with a taper for a slight cocoon shape. I love this silhouette however I’m not sure that it is one that will suit me, so I plan to make my version a tailored culotte instead. I’m more than happy to put the effort into drafting culottes as it is a pattern I plan like to make in grey wool come next winter. I’ll get twice the mileage that way – ha!
I think the #126 jacket from Burdastyle 8/2014 will be a great starting point for the linen jacket (minus the bird on the shoulder – arghh me hearties!!). I think I’ll keep the notched lapel instead of converting it to a shawl collar, but I will loosen up some of the shaping in the side seam for a more boxy silhouette while keeping the front darts for waist shaping. I think swapping the welt pockets for patch pockets should be really straight forward as should copying the curved tapered shape at the front of the CR jacket. I’m undecided on whether to line it, I’d like it to be summery and breathable but also structured enough that it’s still smart.
I really love the broderie Anglaise shirt below, enough that I actually tried it on in store. It was too boxy in shape on me though so I plan to replicate it with this fabric that I bought from a friend ‘in the industry’. I’ve wanted a button down shirt that fits me since I started working and caring about looking more professional in my early twenties. As anyone with a large bust will tell you however, finding a shirt that fits properly is a nightmare and I can’t believe I haven’t tried to make myself one in the five years or so that I’ve been sewing! I’m really excited about making this one.
It’s really interesting how my summer wardrobe has changed since living in Australia. Shorts were once the holiday staple that you felt lucky to wear on an ordinary summers day in the UK. You just couldn’t rely on it being hot enough. In Melbourne shorts are an everyday staple that are practical and cool in the powerful Aussie sun. The casual separates below are all possible from Burdastyle patterns that I already own and items that I think I’ll get a tonne of wear out of.
I don’t have fabric set aside for the top and sporty shorts yet but I do have this tropical number for the wrap shorts/skort that I have plenty of squirrelled away for a Shaheen style dress using Gertie’s B6019 that is in my near future:
Speaking of dresses, they are THE staple of my summer wardrobe. I love that they are a whole outfit in one garment which makes it easy to wear them and means you can have a variety of styles in your wardrobe without having to worry about paring items and making up outfits. I have the following plan for my Port Douglas souvenir wax print fabric.
So with all of these plans out there now and committed to screen, will I stick to it? Well, I can’t promise I won’t get a bit distracted by other pretty projects, but it is nice to have a few ideas jotted down and some direction and purpose to what I sew.
I wasn’t sure how to model a swimsuit for the blog. I don’t think I’m confident enough to post pictures of myself in just a swimsuit on the internet just yet. Then, just as I thought I had come up with the answer to the problem however (some alcohol and a wax) Maureen the mannequin (her real name) stepped in to help – after all she’s a mannequin and has no shame. Apart from the fact that she’s about half a foot taller than I am, Maureen and I have very similar measurements. We are differently proportioned within those measurements, but for modelling stretch that isn’t terribly important.
These bathers were a big challenge for me. Firstly when you’re designing and drafting something yourself, you are in charge of figuring out how to put it together. I spent over a week just thinking about how I was going to do this and what the best order of events was. This is where being a former scientist came into its own! I was so used to using this process of visualisation when planning how to make something in the lab as a chemist that this process was just reapplying a skill set I already had.
The other challenge was my college doesn’t have many overlockers so sharing with my classmates meant compromising on thread and needles. This result was that some of the seams are a bit messy due to skipped stitches and the wrong colour thread. On the plus side, these machines feed fabric WAY better than my home machine does so I think this compromise was worth it. I plan to redo these again over the summer when the demand for the equipment at college is much less. I want to source the right needles and take much more care so I have a garment I’d feel comfortable wearing. I also think I will add more gathers to the front of the cups for extra fullness next time.
This is my favourite feature though. The coverstitch binding! Despite that fold in the fabric where I didn’t lay it out properly before photographing, this is close to perfect. You can just see a little bit of white thread poking through on the key hole, that’s it. This effect was tricky to set up but once it’s ready to go, the binding goes on with no bother at all.
I hope to show you some photos in a few months of my second – more careful – attempt at these bathers. Lets just hope for your sake I don’t have to resort to alcohol and wax to show you ;).