Wednesday, 21 March 2018

My Finished Kelly Anorak

I feel as though I've been working on this for ever, so I'm so excited to be able to finally wear it! It is, of course, my Kelly Anorak. Last year, I decided that I wanted to try and make something that would really push my sewing skills, and so I chose to make the Closet Case Patterns Kelly Anorak. The plan to make an anorak has actually been with me for a while, although it didn't fully form until quite recently. Before I even got onto the sewing, there were so many different things to do to prepare, and so I did everything bit by bit. First, I bought the fabric when I visited Stoff and Stil. It is an absolutely stunning duck egg blue fabric. I also decided to make the lined version of the anorak, so I purchased this gorgeous jersey from Higgs and Higgs which is incredibly soft. Following this, I slowly assembled all the pieces: the rivets, the zip, the snaps etc.

Making this anorak was... a test of my patience to say the least! There were a lot of pattern pieces, especially as I made the lined version. This is definitely the longest I have ever spent on a project but it was absolutely worth it. The fabric is one of my favourite parts, I absolutely love the colour, and I also really like the lining. I made the sleeves out of one of those slippery fabrics, which is something that a lot of ready to wear coats use as their lining. It really helps to get the coat on and off, and it meant that I was able to get all of the necessary pattern pieces out of the fabric that I had.

There were definitely some parts of making this that were exasperating, so I would recommend having a big project like this as something going on in the background - at the same time I made a couple of breather sewing projects which helped to make the whole thing less intense. The lining comes as an expansion to the original pattern, but not all of the original pattern pieces are required when using the lining pieces. For example, there is a new sleeve pattern piece which you need to cut both the main fabric and the lining fabric out of. I did find this slightly confusing at first as it wasn't perfectly explained on the pattern, but after some persevering I did manage to make sense of it. I would also recommend using the sew-along for this anorak. I pretty much relied solely on this and hardly glanced at the instruction booklet.

There are so many parts of this anorak that I love, it's impossible to choose my favourite aspect! I am so pleased that I decided to line it though, I think that it looks really nicely finished. The lining also adds a bit of extra warmth which is necessary during spring here! One of my favourite parts is the Liberty hanging loop. I love splashes of colour so much, and this is one of my favourite Liberty prints, so it feels just right to have it inside.

I also love the hardware, I think it gives it such a professional finish! While hammering in snaps and rivets is slightly terrifying, it is definitely worth it: I love the end look. I had a bit of difficulty finding the right cord, and while a lighter grey would have been my first choice I'm actually really pleased with the dark grey. The cord locks are also from Stoff and Stil. I haven't bought any cord stoppers yet, but a bit of sellotape on the ends of the cord is definitely not going to put me off wearing this coat!

I really can't say how pleased I am with this. I just love it! I think it might be one of my favourite things I've ever sewn, and it's definitely one of my proudest makes. It's also finished in perfect time for spring, so I hope that I'm going to be getting lots of wear out of it soon.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

5 Handmade Clothes perfect for Autumn and Winter

At the end of the summer holidays I did a roundup of my favourite makes that I wore. Now that we are (almost!) approaching spring, I thought it could be a good idea to write about my favourite handmade clothes that I wore during autumn and winter. It's interesting to look back over the past few months and see which makes have been worn again and again! I think that the switch between summer and autumn is one of the biggest, so these clothes are all very different to the ones I wore last season.

Button-Down Skirt

I've worn this skirt a lot since making it. To say I love wearing it is an understatement! The contrast fabric strip brightens it up a bit but is still very wearable. I love the professional look of the brass buttons, and it makes me smile to think that it used to be a pair of jeans.

Burnt Orange Cleo

I have worn this dress so much this autumn, particularly over my stripy turtleneck. I really love the colour of it, and it works well in all seasons depending on which layers you wear under it. I love the colour of the fabric so much. My turtleneck has also been worn a lot, it's the perfect style for this time of year.

Rosa Shirt

I've worn both my Rosa shirts quite a bit so far this year. The blue chambray one in particular always makes me smile - I really love the Liberty facing! I think that it's the perfect way to differentiate between wearing jumpers every day too, which is very tempting at this time of year! This were especially good for autumn, but worked nicely in the winter too.

Coco Dress

I can't say how much I love this dress, it is everything there is to ask for in a handmade dress. The fabric is amazing, the stripes are just perfect. I love how stripes can look either summery or more wintry depending on their colour, size etc. This dress is so comfortable too.  It's a great one to put layers on top of during the colder months.

Linden Sweatshirt

Although I'd like to be able to wear dresses and shirts most days, the reality is that it is just too cold! My Linden sweatshirt is so lovely and warm. The fabric is really nice and it is lovely and snuggly. The Linden is definitely my go-to pattern for a jumper.

Friday, 2 March 2018

A Coco to defeat the Cold

I have yet another Coco jumper to share today, and yet another handmade gift! Every time I make this pattern I'm amazed at how different it can look with different details and fabrics. It really is a great pattern, I don't think that you'd be able to guess that this jumper, my pineapple top and my stripy top are all from the same pattern. I made this Coco for my lovely friend's Mum, who I have known for a very long time, and who kindly gave me a bag of fabric scraps given to her by her sister who works in costume. At the bottom of the bag, there was a lovely fleecy fabric which she asked me to make here a Coco out of, after having seen my wear one of my Cocos.

The pattern works with a mulitude of fabrics, and this fleece is definitely on the thicker, less stretchy end of the spectrum. To make up for the thickness of the fabric, I made the neckband wider by a couple of inches. I did that after reading this from Tilly and the Buttons, and it worked perfectly. The funnel neck isn't too bulky as I had originally feared. It's sometimes nice to go back to a familiar pattern and sew it up almost mindlessly (I have made a lot of Cocos!).

As I said, I've made so many Coco tops by now that they really are a breeze to sew, and this one was no different. It has long sleeves, cuffs and a funnel neck which really makes it a super cosy jumper; the side splits also add a nice extra detail. I was actually able to give it to the recipient on a snow-day, so it felt perfect and snuggly for the weather! I think that this make was a success, and I hope that it will be well worn! I am slightly jealous as the fabric is so soft and soft, warm jumpers are exactly what is called for at the moment.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Marigold Trousers for Spring

In the hope that spring will someday return, I have made myself a pair of rather lovely trousers! I used this gorgeous cotton fabric and the Tilly and the Buttons Marigold to make these. It was my first time using the Marigold pattern, but they were really easy to make. They were a lovely breather project while working on my anorak. I made these trousers and the pineapple trousers for my sister in the same week, and I really enjoyed making both pairs. The fabric was slightly brighter than I was expecting, but I think that the colour is just perfect for spring. I really love the pattern on the fabric, and I knew straight away that I wanted to make a pair of spring trousers (despite the fact that it is freezing outside!).

This was my first time using the Marigold trousers, and I'm so glad that I bought the pattern despite my original reservations. The pattern comes with a jumpsuit version too, and as this isn't something that I am likely to make I missed the trousers when I glanced over the pattern initially. The fabric was a dream to sew with - I love the stability of cotton - especially after sewing with thick fabric, something that I have been doing a lot of recently. I finished all the seams inside with a zigzag stitch. Despite taking my time to make these they were still a really quick make.

My favourite part of these trousers are the lovely deep pockets. The elastic waist also allows them to be really comfortable, yet the darts and pleats allow them to look sophisticated and not too much like pyjamas! I'm a big fan of small, secret details and so I sewed the hem with a double row of stitches - not something that anyone else will notice but I like it! I shortened the length of the trousers slightly to make them more cropped, another thing I really love.

I am so happy with my new trousers! At first, I was worried that they would be a bit too bright, but with a simple white top I think that they are perfect for the sunshine that i'm longing for during this bleak February weather. I would really recommend this pattern for beginners, especially if you use a lovely stable fabric like this cotton.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Another Pair of Pineapple Trousers

Although I'm not sure there is a limit to the number of pineapple garments a single person can have in their wardrobe, I am pretty sure that a single pair of pineapple trousers is enough. (Until, of course, they get worn literally to death, in which case it is perfectly acceptable to make another pair.) Because of this, I would like to justify making another pair of pineapple trousers so soon: they are not for me! I currently have two items of pineapple fabric clothing in my wardrobe - my top and my trousers - both of which I wore a lot during the summer. The theme has clearly caught on, for in the John Lewis post-christmas fabric sale, my sister spotted this fabric and asked me to make her a pair of trousers! So our household currently has a total of three pineapple items of clothing and counting.

I do genuinely enjoy making clothes for others, especially speedy projects. The Tilly and the Buttons Marigold trousers are perfect to make for others as they really do not take long at all. They are also quite forgiving, in other words the fitting isn't as crucial as a lot of other garments. I have made a few things for my sister in the past, including pyjamas and a cushion, but no clothing designed to be worn outside. It was quite nerve-wracking making these, as it always is when making clothes for others.

I made a couple of adjustments, as requested, the first of which was shortening the crotch. When the trousers were tried on at the end, the crotch seam hung very low. Although it is supposed to be fairly low, my sister is slightly smaller than the smallest size of the pattern (especially when it came to the length). Luckily, I was able to solve this quite easily by unpicking the waistband and sewing it back on about 1.5" lower. She is still able to put her hands in the pockets, one of the benefits of having such big, deep pockets. I suppose I should have done a toile, but that would have defeated the point of making something quick and easy! I will also know for next time to shorten the pattern before cutting the fabric. It certainly isn't a noticeable adjustment though, and I'm pleased to have been able to save it so easily.

Apart from shortening the trousers, the only other adjustment that I made was adding an elastic casing at the bottom. I have the same look on my trousers, and it was really simple to do; I just added a casing of about 1" in depth, and then put elastic through it in the same way that the waistband is done. I am so happy with these and relived that the wearer likes them too! She has already worn them several times and is very pleased with them. I doubt we will ever wear our pineapple trousers together at the same time, but there is something quite nice about having almost matching pairs!

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Sashiko Top

This top has been a long time in the making, and I'm so happy to finally have it photographed so I can share it! A while ago I discovered Sashiko, which is a Japanese sewing technique, and was completely intrigued with the intricacy and the beauty of the designs. There are lots of different videos and other information about it (I found this quite helpful), I would really recommend having a read about it as it's really interesting. I decided to embroider a Sashiko design onto blue jersey, as I really like the traditional navy and white design. Sashiko is supposed to be embroidered onto a woven fabric, and I did have a few difficulties at first using a stretchy fabric, but once I got used to it it really wasn't that difficult.

I started this top in November, and sat doing the embroidery throughout November and December of last year. I like having something to do while watching television in the evenings, and this project (along with this one) was made by the lovely warm fires winter evenings! Before I drew on my design, I cut out the pattern pieces. I used my well-loved and used Linden sweatshirt pattern. I drew my design onto the front bodice using a chalk pen. Although it took a while to draw and much longer to stitch, but was definitely worth it!

Once the design was all stitched, I sewed up the jumper as normal, which took about forty-five minutes - a shockingly short amount of time compared to how long the embroidery took! I really love the finished jumper. It was ready just in time for Christmas and I wore it with this skirt on Christmas day. The sleeves are 3/4 length, and it is cropped. I really like the length, although the fabric is quite thin so it can't be worn without a thermal underneath at this time of year! I have since seen this Linden hack which also has a little bit of Sashiko, and I now would love to make a jumper dress - although it might have to be a project for next Autumn now. I'm so pleased with this, it was a slight gamble as I've never done Sashiko before (and it's a lot of work for something that doesn't look good at the end!) but it was definitely a gamble that payed off.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Men's Jumper

This is my final handmade Christmas present of 2017: a men's jumper. After making a shirt for my Dad's birthday last year (which he still wears and is still one of my favourite makes for others!) I offered to make him a jumper. During the summer, he chose a lovely knit fabric from a haberdashery we came across, and asked me to sew him a jumper out of it. Although it took me an embarassingly long time to actually get on with it, once started it was a quick and easy project and completed in time for Christmas.

Finding a pattern was definitely the hardest part of this project. I know that there are quite a few men's patterns out there, but the difficult part is finding them! I would love any recommendations that you have. There is a great round up of patterns here, but unfortunately the guide came out after I made this jumper! I will definitely be having a look through this next time though. The problem I was faced with was finding a mens jumper pattern which did not feature raglan sleeves, no hoodies, had cuffs etc. My favourite one I came across was the Paxson jumper, but it has raglan sleeves, which was a feature that was clearly pointed out should not be part of the success criteria! After a lot of research, I actually decided to use a t-shirt pattern and bought the Oliver + S men's Metro t-shirt pattern. I actually think it worked really well. I sewed it with a slightly smaller seam allowance to allow for the thicker than intended fabric, and also added cuffs at the end. I wasn't sure wether or not to add a waistband, and this might still be something I will add on my next one, although it does work well with just a hem.

Although the colour of the fabric is showing up quite well in these photos, I would say it is slightly duller in real life. Because of this, upon purchasing the fabric my Dad asked me to add in a pop of colour - orange, to be precise (probably inspired by these!). I was faced with the dilemma of wanting to keep the jumper a surprise for Christmas but wanting to make it wearable, so I compromised: my Dad chose the fabric and style, but didn't see the fabric made into a jumper until Christmas day. I really like the extra touch of orange, which is just a small amount of bias tape folded and sewn into the side seam. It's hardly noticeable but is a nice detail and makes it both more interesting and more unique.