Liberty Linden in Manning fleece

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This is my sixth Linden sweatshirt. It’s also my favourite Linden and is made from an extremely cosy Liberty fleece that I bought from Goldhawk Road. If you’ve seen fleece or loopback jersey in Liberty, you’ll know it’s pricey stuff so I couldn’t walk by when it was going for a mere £15 a metre. I bought 1.5 metres which was plenty for my Linden and the front bodice of a Linden I made for my sister.

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So can we talk about the print. It’s called Manning and looks abstract at first glance but it’s actually a digital print created from photographs of Icelandic glaciers and mountains. It’s really striking and I love the colours.

As I was using fleece, I left out the hem band and cuffs to reduce bulk. I also wanted a simple design in keeping with the modern print. I shortened the sleeve by 2 inches and used a 2cm hem which I overlocked and turned up.

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I lengthened front and back bodice by 2 inches and then chopped off another 2cm from the front to create a high low hem. I made a side vent and hand sewed the side seam allowances for a clean finish. The hem is 1 inch which I turned up to reduce bulk. The sweatshirt was sewn with a zig zag stitch on all seams except on the neckband where I used a straight stitch. I went over my stitching again for strength.

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I cut the neckband on crosswise grain so my fabric had more stretch. There was no give on the lengthwise grain. I guessed the fabric might not be stretchy enough so added 2cm to the length of the neckband. The neckband was quite a bit shorter than the neckline and I really had to stretch it to fit. Luckily it worked out but I’d add more length if using a similar fabric. I used a 0.5 seam allowance at neckband to get the width I wanted.

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This has turned out pretty much how I wanted. I love it soo much I never want to take it off.

 

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Reflections and goals for 2017

Last year was all about slow sewing and I finished twenty items, far fewer than 2015 when I was on a mission to blitz my UFOs. I didn’t take on a grand project as I wanted to sew simple and easy to fit patterns after making my first coat last year.

I sewed quite a few patterns back to back as I wanted to refine the next iteration whilst the last make was still fresh in my mind. There were lots of repeats: 5 Linden sweatshirts, 2 Bettine dresses, 2 Maritime tops and 2 Mathilde blouses. I can’t get enough of that Linden pattern and have just made another in a luscious Liberty fleece (to be blogged). The Bettine is another hit and it’s my favourite summer dress.

I’ve got better at sewing things I want to wear and have worn everything I’ve made this year several times. There was only one dud so good going there. So how did I do against my sewing goals?

  1. Sew a holiday wardrobe – I made a couple of tops for my holiday to Seville so that’s a tick.
  2. Sew skirts – I only managed to finished a Chardon skirt. Not sure why I hit a wall with skirts as they aren’t hard to sew.
  3. Sew casual dresses – Tick! But I didn’t get round to making an Inari or Alder. My wardrobe is crying out for these dresses!
  4. Sew more solids – I made only three items. Prints win hands down.
  5. Sew from stash – Most of my makes were sewn from my stash. Great. But I also bought over 30 pieces of fabric last year. Not great. So I’m allowing myself to buy fabric for toiling or solids next year. I’m also thinking of have a Kondo-style cull as some pieces go way back and my tastes have changed.

I’m going to repeat three goals, namely two, four and five, so my additional goals for 2017 are:

Sew a perfect tee

I want to improve how I sew knits. I’ve discovered a lightning stitch gives a better finish on knits and that going over a zig zag with a straight stitch stops the ladder effect on the right side. I’ve just bought some wooly nylon and want to give this a go with a twin needle. Combined with this goal is to hack existing patterns to produce my perfect tee. My plan is to experiment with the Renfrew, Plantain and Tonic tees.

Revisiting old patterns

Rather than sewing the latest pattern release or jumping to the next new project, I want to revisit some old patterns. These include the SOI Ultimate trousers to perfect the fit, Simplicity 2451, as this is a fab skirt pattern and the Mimi blouse, as my current viscose version is coming away at seams due to over zealous grading.

Keep a sewing diary

I’m going to keep a notebook by my sewing machine to record changes I’ve made and to note things I’d do differently next time. This will help to refresh my memory when I have a break in the making process and stop me repeating mistakes.

I like making sewing goals as it helps to keep me focused. I’d be sewing lots of dresses I’d never wear otherwise. I’m still working on my #2017makenine shortlist as naturally I want to sew ALL the patterns. I only finished three on my list last year but it’s good to have goals. My #2017makenine will be aspirational rather than a must sew list. Happy sewing everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Liesl and Co. Maritime tops

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I wasn’t really looking out for patterns when I went to Kirsty’s Handmade Fair last year but this little top had wardrobe staple written all over it. The design is similar to a Whistles jersey top that I wear all the time and looked like the sort of pattern I’d want to make again and again.

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Minimal changes were made to the pattern. I sewed a size 8 and just had to do my usual short bodice adjustment. The fit is just right, not too loose or tight. I’m not a fan of clingy tops nowadays. There is some excess fabric near the bust and underarm area, something another blogger has mentioned but it’s not a deal breaker.

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What I love about this pattern is the boat neckline, knit facing and side vents. The knit facing is interfaced so is pretty stable and the seam allowance increases at the vent which makes for a nice neat finish.

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I used the lightning stitch on my sewing machine to sew up the top and I now prefer this to regular zig zag. The stitches are tighter so the stitching doesn’t show through. I also used it to do the hems and I really like how it has come out. No tunnelling and if your thread is a good match for your fabric, it’s hardly noticeable.

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I was so keen on this pattern, I made another straightaway in this summery blue stripe from Fabworks. As the knit was quite fine, I left out the side vents. I also took a tiny wedge from the shoulder seam to get rid of some of the excess fabric in the upper bodice. I love stripes and this top will definitely get a lot of wear.

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Pinafore top pattern hack McCalls 3618

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I made this top ages ago for Karen’s gingham-along but failed to make the deadline. However, I did finish it in time to wear on holiday. My holiday sewing plans were a bit too ambitious. There are only so many outfits you can wear on a short city break!

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The pattern is from a vintage McCalls pattern that I’d made before. My aim was to copy this RTW pinafore top from Oliver Bonas using this pattern as a base.

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I reduced the width of the straps and lowered the neckline at the back and front. I also added bust darts, reduced the bodice at the side seams, shortened the length and added vents at the side seams. The front and back yokes are cut on the bias to contrast with the bodice.

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It was only when I finished that I realised I should have raised the front neckline to get the pinafore look. But I’m not too fussed as I’m pleased with how this turned out. The only drawback was the over-zealous fitting, it’s come out tight across the bust.

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The seersucker gingham is from John Lewis. I’m still determined to do a knock off of the Oliver Bonas top. Pinafores are having a fashion moment. I don’t usually follow trends but I’ve fallen for this one.

 

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Top five hits of 2016

I’ve sewn fewer items than last year but I’ve had a good hit rate with only one dud. Pattern of the year has to be the Linden sweatshirt. I’ve sewn five this year including one for my sister. I’ve enjoyed my sewing more this year. This was down to making patterns that were relatively simple to fit, easy to sew and quick to make like Linden and Bettine. Maybe I’ve not stretched myself as much but I’m not going to beat myself up about that. Sewing should be fun.

So in no particular order, here’s my round up of my top 5 hits.

Bicycle Linden Sweatshirt

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My favourite Linden is this marl grey version but I’m putting this version in my top five as this is the one I wear most weekends. If it’s not in the laundry, I’m probably wearing it. I can’t stop making this pattern and don’t know what I wore before I introduced Lindens to my wardrobe.

Fluffy clouds Bettine dress

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This pattern is so easy to whiz up and the finished dress is akin to wearing secret pyjamas. I made a jersey version of this dress and it’s so comfortable. It’s the perfect casual dress for day trips and mini breaks.

Mimi blouse

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This is a pattern from Tilly’s Love at first stitch book.  I wanted to make it as soon as I bought it. This was probably the most complicated pattern I sewed this year. There were quite a few pattern pieces and lots of processes but I found it a really fun pattern to sew. I also learnt how to sew button holes on my machine, something I’ve been meaning to master for ages. I wear this blouse a lot, it’s great for layering under cardigans and I wear ALOT of cardis.

Jackson Pollock peplum top

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As soon as this pattern came out from In the folds, it jumped to the top of my to-sew list. The fabric is a precious liberty lawn I’d been hoarding in my stash. Although the top does make me look like I’m expecting – ha ha, I love the print and the frilly peplum. I wore this on holiday and loved wearing it.

Sewing Bee casual trousers

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Another easy to sew pattern, these pull on trousers are so comfy and perfect for lounging around the house. I’m chuffed with the pattern matching as the viscose had a tendency to shift around. These are my favourite summer trousers.

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In the folds Peplum top

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The moment this pattern popped up on my Instagram feed, it elbowed its way straight to the top of my sewing queue. I had an October holiday to Seville coming up and this top looked perfect for the 30 degree heat. I actually finished it the day before my flight!

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The In the folds peplum top is a free pdf pattern available from the Peppermint magazine web site. I love the ruffles on the peplum and the loose breezy design is perfect for hot weather. The pattern is layered which means you can select the size you want and all the other lines magically disappear. I’ve not come across this before and it’s brilliant, no need to concentrate on cutting the right size as there is only one!

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The pattern and instructions were easy to follow. However, I went off-piste and didn’t follow the instructions. You’re supposed to sew the binding together and attach it to the neckline working out from the back V. I attached from the front and had difficulty joining the binding to form a point at the back. I had to do a bit of hand stitching to fix it and will follow the instructions TO THE LETTER next time. The armholes are also finished with bias binding so whilst this pattern has few pieces, it’s not a quick sew.

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But don’t let this put you off, it’s a great little top and I will definitely be making more. I cut out a size D and added some small darts at the bust line to do away with the gaping at the armholes. Maybe a smaller size would rectify this? The top has a lot of volume as the side seams flare out slightly. I do like the volume but might taper the side seams to reduce it a little for my next iteration. I plan to use some delicious navy gingham gauze from Merchant and Mills.

The splatter print fabric is soooo pretty. It’s a Liberty tana lawn from my stash. I threw caution to the wind and cut into it without doing a toile, hence the need for the darts. But my gamble paid off and I had a lovely top to wear on holiday.

 

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1920s Jazz age exhibition at FTM museum

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This is another show stopper of an exhibition from the Fashion and Textile Museum. There are over 100 costumes on display in this beautifully curated exhibition.

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Women’s dress changed dramatically in the twenties with clothing becoming less restrictive. Flashing your ankle was no longer considered scandalous by the mid twenties. The exhibition features floaty day dresses, glitzy evening wear and sportwear. Some dresses are displayed flat so you can get a closer look at the intricate embroidery. I love fashion from this period, it’s so glamorous. Just look at the lounge wear!

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Dotted amongst the costume notes were excepts from novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald, including a memorable passage from one of my favourite books, The Great Gatsby. This was an inspired touch as it made the scenes and costumes come to life. You can just picture Daisy Buchanan in one of these dresses.

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Home sewing became increasingly popular during the twenties with the widespread availability of paper patterns. Dressmaking magazines also featured the latest styles. There’s a fascinating timeline in the exhibition which documents how fashion changed over the decade. The show is on till mid January.

 

 

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