Saturday, 19 May 2018

New Pyjamas

Pyjamas are currently my favourite thing to sew for others. Although I enjoy making clothes for other people, it's always quite stressful especially when they're hoping to wear it. The good thing about sewing pyjamas is that the person who receives/person who makes them them doesn't have to worry about weather or not they're perfect because no-one will see them! I've made my sister in particular quite a few pairs of pyjamas over the past few years. For this summer she asked for another pair of pyjama shorts. I made her a pair of pyjama shorts last year which have received a lot of wear, although they may be too small soon. Hopefully these will be able to last her a few more years! I used the Tilly and the Buttons Margot Pyjamas pattern to make these which I shortened to make a pair of shorts (the same pattern that I used for these pyjamas, which I happen to still love!).

The fabric for these was actually bought at the end of last summer. I do have a good excuse for taking so long to actually sew these though, in that it has been the complete opposite of pyjama shorts weather for the past however many months. As soon as the weather warmed up these were top of my sewing list, and were a really quick and easy make. You may recognise the fabric from here, it was bought from Stoff and Stil which has the most incredible range of knit fabrics. This one is such good quality, so I'm very pleased to have enough left to make a top for myself! I'm currently thinking of the Frankie T-Shirt from Stretch!, but I haven't quite decided yet...
Because the fabric is such good quality and because it was a make for someone else, I took my time with the small details on these. I often think that pyjamas are something that can easily be rushed due to the thought 'oh no-one will see them' but because I made them for my sister I felt the need to be more careful, and I'm so pleased I was because it means that they'll last longer and hopefully she will love them that bit more! Some of the extra touches include a double row of topstitching around the waistband and carefully measured double hem.

There isn't really much else to say about these pyjama shorts, other than they have already be worn and washed several times, which I would class as a success! I'm sure I'll be making more pairs of pyjamas for my sister in the future as we know that this pattern fits her well and that she likes the style. I really enjoy making quick and easy projects from time to time, and as I mentioned at the start pyjamas are a great not too stressful thing to make for someone else. Of course, the bad part of sewing for other people is having to give it away at the end, I am quite jealous as I really love these!

Monday, 14 May 2018

Overlocker Unlocked - An Introduction

So... an introduction. I don't know about you, but an overlocker has always been one of those things that I've dreamed of owning (dreamed, not thought, being the key word in this sentence). Ever since I started sewing, to me an overlocker meant buisness; it meant being professional and it meant knowing exactly what you're doing. But here's the thing: it doesn't have to. For a long time I always thought of an overlocker as being something that it would be  ridiculous to invest in if I hadn't achieved a certain level of sewing. And while this is true in a way, skill level is definitely not the only way to measure wether or not it's time to get an overlocker.

I'll touch upon this more later but in my opinion, the investment of an overlocker is more to do with how much you love sewing than anything else. While overlockers really are quite an investment, I cannot emphasize enough how much you can get out of of one if you love to sew.

Still though, overlockers remain to most people a confusing and technical piece of equiptment at the very least (I certainly had no clue what I was doing when I first took it out the box!) and so I've decided to start a series all about how to get the most out of an overlocker. In other words, I'm hoping to unlock the confusion surrounding them and enable you to know wether or not investing in an overlocker is a good step forward in your sewing journey.

Some of the things that I'm hoping to cover in the next few months include:
  • Getting started
  • Threading the machine
  • Overlocking woven/stretch fabrics
  • Tips and tricks for using an overlocker
  • And hopefully lots more!

I hope that you find this useful, let me know if there is anything in particular that you would like me to cover in this series. More than anything it will be a way to document my journey learning how to use an overlocker. At the beginning, I'll start off having never sewn with an overlocker before and I'm hoping that by the end even changing the threads will come naturally... we will have to wait and see!

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Cropped Stella Hoodie (a.k.a the perfect top)

Sometimes, you sew a garment and the immediately wonder what you used to wear before it. My Tilly and the Buttons Stella Hoodie is exactly that kind of garment. Since making it, it's all I've wanted to wear! The Stella Hoodie is one of the patterns in Stretch!, a really easy to sew hoodie with drop shoulder sleeves and a lined hood. There are also options to make it either sleeveless or as a hoodie-dress, both things that I absolutley want to try! A hoodie is the kind of thing that I wear a lot during the colder months and although we're coming into spring it's definitely still something that will wear a lot. 

Since receiving the book I've made quite a few of the projects, and although the Stella Hoodie caught my eye from the start there were a few changes that I wanted to make to my first version. As you can see, I decided to crop the hoodie to be able to wear it with high waisted trousers and skirts; I also think it makes it look a bit more sophisticated. I'm so pleased about this, I think it works perfectly, and a cropped jumper is definitely something that I'd been lacking which is one of the reasons that this top has had so much wear! I did leave the cuffs off the end of the sleeves, mainly because I didn't buy any ribbing and the cable knit would have been too thick to fold over double. I did consider ordering some ribbing, but I actually really like the sleeves like this and if needs be I can always buy some in the future.

The first time I sewed a hood was in my Kelly Anorak, and I was pleasantly suprised at how easy it was. Obviously, this pattern is at the other end of the spectrum in terms of difficulty to the Kelly, so this hood was even simpler to sew! One of my favourite aspects of the pattern is that the hood is lined, the perfect excuse for a lovely bit of contrast fabric. Funnily enough I've actually used the same fabric to line this hood that I used to line the hood of my Kelly Anorak, just in a different colour way. I chose to buy 1/2 metre of the stripy fabric at the last minute in the fabric shop and I am so glad I did! I probably would have otherewise used my leftovers of the blue stripe to line the hood, but I absolutely love the pink and grey together. It's discreet enough to allow the jumper to be worn easily but still adds a really nice extra touch. 
The fabric is a gorgeous grey cable knit that I bought when I visited Higgs & Higgs, the perfect kind of fabric to sew a jumper in. I really love fabrics that have texture to them, so this one is definitely my cup of tea. 

You may have noticed the lack of cords around the neck of my hoodie - let's just say that they are a work in progress! I haven't found any cord that I like so far, I'm searching for a pale pink tape rather than some round cord which I wasn't ever expecting to be easy to find, so for now I'm just wearing it without. To be honest, it doesn't bother me at all. I have sewn the button holes for the tape to come through and if I see some I'll buy some, but that might be next week or in a few years! I was a little worried about sewing button holes on knit fabric but it wasn't actually a problem at all. It defnititly helped to interface the fabric though, and I wouldn't like to try sewing button holes onto a stretchier jersey...

Monday, 30 April 2018

Wide-Legged Trousers in Blue Denim

I've wanted a pair of wide-legged trousers ages, so I'm so pleased to have finally made some! These were definitely worth the wait too as I absolutely love them and finished them in perfect time for the start of spring. They are made out of a really lovely light-weight Robert Kaufman denim which I bought greatly discounted at the John Lewis post-Christmas sale. The fabric is truly wonderful quality, and such a nice colour too. The weight of it means that it's perfect for spring weather trousers and will probably work nicely in the warmer months too.

I've done lots of pattern hacks before but never for trousers, and I was initially worried about where to start. I was nervous to cut out the fabric as I didn't really know how wide to make them or at which point I should start adding the width. My original plan was to make them much wider, like culottes, but I as you can see I didn't cut the fabric anywhere near wide enough. In the end, I just tried them on and tacked them to several different widths until I found one that I like and which worked with the amount of fabric that I had. I'm actually really happy with the end result, I think it makes them really versatile, and while I know for next time what to change in order to make them wider I want to make lots more pairs exactly the same as these!

The pattern that I based these off was the Tilly and the Buttons Marigold trousers. I've made the Marigold twice before I did make quite a few adjustments to these trousers so having past experience of the pattern definitely helped when making these. In my first pair, I found that the waistband was really high, and when I made a pair for my sister I shortened the crotch seam to lower the waistband. I did exactly the same thing on this pair: I shortened the crotch by 1" on all four trouser leg pieces where the lengthen/shorten line is make on the pattern. I'm really pleased to have made this adjustment as these fit really well. The waistband rests on my natural waistline rather than a few inches above it like my other pair.
Apart from widening the legs, the only other adjustment I made was to add the tie at the waist. I have a really nice pair of black ready to wear trousers like these which were gifted to me by a friend so that I could inspect how they were made, and one of the things I love about them (and lots of other trousers that I've seen around) is that they have a tie at the waist. It was a really simple thing to do, all I did was measure how long and wide I wanted the tie to be and then sew two pieces of fabric right sides together in a super long rectangle. I also sewed each end at an angle, an extra touch that I think looks nice. As for the belt loops, I simple used the same instructions and pattern piece as on my Ginger Jeans and they work perfectly. The tie not only adds a lovely extra touch (I think it's my favourite part about the whole trousers!) but it also covers up the elastic at the front around the waist, something that I'm not keen on when tucking tops in. Another thing that I like about the tie is that it makes a pair of otherwise quite plain trousers into something much more interesting. 

The great thing about pattern hacks is that you get to keep all the best parts of a pattern while tweaking it to add other bits which are exactly to your taste. I really love the pleats and darts of the Marigold and find that they make the trousers fit really nicely. I also love the deep pockets - both practical and add a nice design feature.
Overall, this was definitely one of those projects that I wasn't sure about while I was making it (Would the proportions be right? Would they fit?) but now that I've made them I LOVE them! I have worn them so much already and will definitely continue to do so. It turns out that a pair of comfortable, versatile and look-great trousers was something that I was missing for Spring and I cannot wait to make lots more pairs in the future!

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Mustard Freya Top

I'm sure that the Tilly and the Buttons Freya top is going to become a most used pattern for me: it's looking highly likely so far! The Freya top is a mock neck top which is available in the Tilly and the Buttons new book Stretch. My first version was this lovely stripy long-sleeved top, and as I love it so much I decided to make another. This top is in a lovely mustard knit fabric which I bought a while ago while on holiday, and it's a fabric that I love still. The texture adds a nice interesting touch but as it's all in the same colour it's a good basic top to have.

This top didn't actually originate the way nearly all my sewing does. It's actually the re-fashion of an old top that I made, the one pictured above. About a year and a half ago I sewed the Deer and Doe Plantain top out of a mustard jersey fabric. I've enjoyed wearing it, but just haven't found myself getting much wear out of it, mainly due to the large neckline. The sewing was also causing there to be a lot of ripped stitches and holes - this was one of my first jersey projects and I found the fabric really hard to manipulate, which meant that the inside of the top was not a pretty sight! Fast-forward 1.5 years and what feels like hundreds of jersey garments later, this particular top was whipped up in hardly any time.

Because the original top had a low neck line and this one has a high one, it meant that I had to crop this top in order for there to be enough fabric. Luckily, the original was fairly long. However, I've been wanting a top like this one to wear with my high waisted Ginger jeans for a while so this was the perfect excuse to make one. I love that already both of the Freya tops that I have made look different and can be worn in a multitude of ways, and that's without even using the many different options included in the pattern! I would definitely like to make the turtleneck version in autumn.
There isn't really much else to say about this top other than the fact that I've worn it a lot of times already! In fact, I doubt it will be very long before I've worn this one many more times than the top it used to be. It was such an easy top to sew, the pattern is really simple and it's one of the speediest pattern to make that I own. Overall, definitely a winner!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Higgs & Higgs

Photo: Higgs & Higgs

To continue my fabric shopping series, I'm taking you into a wonderful sewing shop in Gloucester. I first discovered Higgs & Higgs when I went to the Great British Sewing Bee Live, back in September. Their stall was one of my favourites, and needless to say I have been looking forward to visiting their warehouse shop ever since! The great thing about this fabric shop is that it is a warehouse, meaning that the shelves are brimming with gorgeous fabrics ready to be sent off via their online shop. Their warehouse is open to the public, and it really feels like walking into fabric wonderland! Although the actual premises is small, there are unique fabrics to find wherever you look. I knew that I wanted to focus on jersey and knit fabrics, which helped to narrow down my choice making. I do love a pretty floral cotton, but the reality is snuggly sweatshirt-knits are just going to get a lot more wear in my life!

My Mum and I agreed that one of the best aspects of Higgs & Higgs is that the fabric they stock isn't available in many other places. The designs are often unique, which makes the fabric shopping all the more exciting. After spending a long time trawling through their website beforehand I knew that I wanted to try and find a cable knit, which I would say is on of their 'specialities'. They have a few different designs available and in many different colours, but my favourite is this thicker cable pattern which I bought in light grey. I am planning on making a slightly cropped version of the Tilly and the Buttons Stella Hoodie from Stretch! and at the last minute I spied this pink and grey striped jersey to line the hood in. You might recognise it as the same fabric that I lined my Kelly Anorak in, just in a different colour way. I'm so pleased with this combination, I expect it'll be one of the first items to get made!

My Mum (who is my favourite companion to bring fabric shopping with me as she doesn't complain when I spend hours gazing longingly at fabric!) selected this lovely textured marl rib jersey and has asked me to make her a top out of it. It has a really nice structure to it, and although she hasn't chosen the pattern yet, I think it would work really nicely as a Linden top, which I've made for her twice before (here and here).

And because I loved the fabric that my mum chose so much I bought some too! Not the exact same pattern, as I think that might be pushing it a little too far. The textured marl rib jersey is also available with a trellis pattern which I love. It's a lovely shade of grey too, not too dark and gloomy like greys can sometimes be. I also purchased a dusky pink ribbing because I am apparently going for the pink and grey combination this spring! I'd love to make another Linden top similar to my mustard Linden that I made last year. I'm planning on using the ribbing around the neck and at the bottom of the sleeves. I love making my clothes my own with personalised touches like this so I'm excited about this one.

Finally, I've bought some of what might seem an incredibly basic and boring fabric but I think will become a staple top in my wardrobe. I've wanted a simple black t-shirt for a while, so I grabbed some of this black ribbing to make one. This is actually the first time I've bought ribbing. It's something I have been wanting to buy for a while though, as I'd like to give sewing with ribbing a go. I'm planning on self-drafting a basic short sleeved top, which I'm sure will be very simple to sew. To add a bit more interest to the top, I also bought some of this very cool and slightly crazy pleated trim. It's called 'pleated trim picot edging' on their website, but really reminds me of a cupcake case! I'm planning on putting it around the sleeve hems, hopefully it won't look too crazy in a small about paired with a plain black fabric.

Overall I would class this as an extremely successful fabric shopping outing! Buying fabric is always expensive, but I think that the Higgs & Higgs prices are extremely reasonable considering the quality of the fabric. I can't wait to start sewing all of these, the fabrics are already pre-washed and ready to go!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Finally - a pair of Jeans!

I've made jeans! I still can't quite believe it... I am so happy and excited to be sharing them today. Jeans are one of those things that a lot of people are scared about sewing. After having put them off for so long, I have finally made a pair. My parents gave me the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans sewing pattern for Christmas (apparently fed up from hearing my constant 'some day' when referring to sewing a pair of jeans) and it was exactly the push I needed to get started on them.

I used an indigo stretch denim from Minerva Crafts. Ordering fabric online is always a risk, but I could not have been happier with the colour of it when it arrived. It's a really lovely shade and has a nice weight to it. After pre-washing it, I was set to go. Denim does fray a lot, so I made sure to finish all my seams with a zigzag stitch. As I said, I used the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans sewing pattern to make these. The pattern comes in two views, I decided to make view B which features a high waist and skinny legs. It's exactly the kind of style I like, and the waistband fits perfectly above my hips.

In the end, the fabric that I used meant that my jeans don't look exactly like the view on the pattern. This is because the pattern requires a fabric with slightly more stretch. However, I found that it worked fine with the amount of stretch that my denim had, it just meant that I couldn't have the legs super-tight. To be honest, I'm quite pleased with this as I like the look of the slightly wider legs that view A feature, but much prefer the high-waist of view B, so I suppose that my jeans are a slight combination of the two.

I didn't realise that my fabric wouldn't account for the negative ease required in the pattern until I tried them on for the first time, so I would highly recommend basting your jeans on the side seams. I ended up sewing the side seams quite a few times, but this was easy to do seeing as I used a wide stitch length. I would also recommend trying them on again and again - while it's tedious, it will mean that your jeans will fit much better at the end! To hem the jeans, I cropped them first. It's a style that I like and I'm really pleased I did it.

To be honest, I was really surprised at how quickly these jeans came together. I think that the thing that scared me the most was the fitting, but now that I have mastered that my next pair will come together quicker and easier (because there will be many more pairs!). The fly insertion was actually one of my favourite steps, simply due to what felt like magic at the end! I used the Closet Case Ginger Sew-along for the instructions, and I would highly recommend it as the pictures seem much clearer than in the instructions. I know that a lot of people are wary of sewing flys, but  the instructions are really clear and once you've done it I'm sure you'll be amazed at how much more simple it is than it seems!

Fitting wise, the main things that I did were to sew the legs with a smaller seam allowance (due to the un-stretchiness of the fabric) and to take in a chunk at the centre back seam. This is the same thing that Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani did with her Ginger's, and after suspecting that I would need a similar adjustment I'm pleased that it worked out well. My waistband was still gaping slightly in the centre back after this so I actually sewed a dart in the middle which makes it nice and snug but is covered by a belt loop anyway so isn't noticeable. Before cutting into my fabric I also graded into a smaller size at the waist, something that you can see how to do here.

Possibly my favourite part of these jeans are the rivets. I decided to go with colour-coordinating top-stitching thread, but wanted to go for bronze rivets. As it was my first time sewing a pair of jeans, it was also my first time installing rivets. Like the sewing, the rivets were so much easier to do than I had imagined! I absolutely love them, I think they make the jeans look so much more professional. As I mentioned, I used colour-coordinating topstitching thread. It isn't actually an exact colour match because topstitching thread doesn't come in that many colours, but it is a shade of blue that I think really complements the denim and I love the look that the parallel topstitching gives.

I also really like the contrast pocket stay which I did in a lovely Liberty fabric left over from the pocket lining of my Brumby skirt. It makes me smile to see the fabric each time I put the jeans on. You could also choose to use a contrast fabric for the waistband facing, but I decided to go for the same denim so that I wouldn't have to use interfacing. I also used a slightly different technique when attaching my waistband, I'll try to take some photos when making my next pair (whenever that may be!).

Phew, I think that's about it! Overall, I still can't quite believe that I've made a pair of jeans, nor justify just how much I love them! I know everyone says this, but don't be afraid to give them a go.  Not only were they actually a lot of fun to make, but jeans were something that I was clearly lacking in my handmade wardrobe, and I can't wait to make more pairs - I know that these will be getting lots of wear.