A Denim Marigold Jumpsuit

I’m very excited to finally be able to share this one with you - I made a jumpsuit! Back in August I made the Marigold Jumpsuit by Tilly and the Buttons. The pattern and materials were supplied by Minerva Crafts and in exchange I wrote them a blog post about my experience. So if you want to find out more about the fabric, the pattern, and my fitting challenges (including some very silly photos) head on over to their blog to have a peek!

One Week, One Pattern

Over this year I have pushed myself to participate more in the sewing community by taking up a number of sewing and knitting related ‘challenges’. Earlier in the summer I made my Drama Llama shirtdress for the Sew Together For Summer Instagram challenge, and entered my Flamingo Legs cardigan for my first ever ‘knit along’ the BritKnitKAL. And throughout September I participated in #sewphotohop, a daily photo challenge on Instagram. It appears, however, that I am not done.
Last week OWOP (One Week, One Pattern) was announced on Instagram by Sheona from Sewisfaction. The idea was the brainchild of Tilly (from Tilly and the Buttons) back in 2012 and has been run periodically by different people over the last few years. The idea of OWOP is to wear seven outfits over a single week, which are all based on the same sewing pattern. There are various ways you could do this including, making the same pattern in different fabrics, wearing the same pattern in different ways, or pattern hacking to create a variety of garments. The challenge really encourages you to love the patterns that you already have, rather than being tempted by the new and shiny releases. (Which can be very, very hard to resist at times).
Not unexpectedly, once I had resolved to participate in the challenge I soon decided that I would use the McCalls M6696 shirtdress pattern. If you have read some of my previous posts you will know that I have made this dress a lot this year. In fact I already have enough M6696 dresses in my wardrobe to be able to wear a different dress each day for a week. This, however, does not feel like enough of a challenge. I also feel like I can get more from the pattern than simply another shirtdress. Why oh why make yet another M6696 you may ask! Well over the last few months I have lost my ‘sewjo’ after a couple of sewing fails. These fails created garments that were wearable, but didn’t make me particularly happy or excited. It occurred to me that I wanted an easy ‘win’, a pattern which was comfortable to sew and which I knew I would wear. Enter M6696!
So my plan for OWOP is to turn some of the fabric in my stash into M6696 shirts. At the moment I envision that this pattern hack would simply require lengthening the bodice pieces and maybe shaping the hem a bit. I also think that the skirt portion of the pattern would look quite fetching (and be very versatile) as a button-up denim skirt. I don’t have any denim in my stash at the moment, but I hope to purchase some very soon. Next week I’m off to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. This will be my very first show and I’m pretty excited. (I already have a wish list of things I hope to find). This means I will probably be posting a mammoth fabric and yarn haul on the blog very soon!
For more details about OWOP and to make your own pledge, check out the original post on the Sewisfaction blog. It will be taking place between Saturday 25th November 2017 and Friday 1st December 2017. I will be posting my outfits daily on Instagram, but will do some kind of round up here on the blog in December. And use the hashtag #owop17 to check out all the outfits that will be appearing on Instagram next month!

An Upside-Down Oda Jumper

Now I’m the first one to admit that I am not the quickest of knitters. In fact I’m incredibly slow. That being said I managed to knit a whole jumper in the space of a single month (whilst doing other things obviously). As you can probably tell, I’m quite proud of this one.
This is the Oda pattern by Brooklyn Tweed, an American knitting company. Their patterns can be purchased as downloadable pdfs (instant gratification basically). Overall Oda is a pretty simple and straightforward jumper to knit. There’s an almost identical back and front with no shaping, and two sleeves, all of which are knitted bottom-up and then seamed. The neckband is then added in the round. This was my first ever raglan jumper (opposed to a set-in sleeve) and I think I might be a convert. The raglan seemed easier and I think I also actually prefer the way it looks.
The jumper is stopped from being too plain (or boring to knit) by the chunky cables that run down the front and back of the jumper. This was an incredibly easy cable design to memorise, so did not slow down or complicate the process at all. If you look at the photograph of the pattern on the Brooklyn Tweed website you might notice that my cables are going in the opposite direction. That is because I forget to factor in my left-handedness. As I knit left-handed my knitting comes out the opposite of what is stated on a right-handed pattern. (So if I follow the pattern of the right front of a cardigan, I will end up creating a left front of a cardigan). Now I know I am left handed (after all I have been for more than twenty years), but I completely forgot to account for this with my cables. As such my cables twist the opposite way to how they should. I didn’t realise this until I was a good number of inches through the body of the back piece. It annoys me that it isn’t as stated in the pattern, but I decided that it didn’t annoy me enough to frog my work.
It is knit from Cascade 220, an aran weight wool yarn in the Sunflower colourway. (Mustard yellow is my very favourite colour to wear). I’ve never worked with a Cascade yarn before, but I really enjoyed using the yarn and the way it worked with the cable design. Knitted as a garment it feels warm and soft, but without the itchiness or fluffiness of other yarn I’ve used with a wool content. I knitted the jumper using 4mm needles for the ribbing and 5mm needles for everything else. (For a review of the knitting needles I used to knit this jumper see the Minerva Crafts blog).
This is probably the best garment I have knitted to date and I’m incredibly proud of how it turned out. There are few wonky things that could be done better next time (for example, the upside-down cables). I lengthened the sleeves as I have the arms of an orangutan, and they are now a little too long, but I can always turn the cuff back. (And I’d rather have them too long than too short). I would also have liked to have sized up in this jumper, to make it a bit more of a slouchy or oversized fit. With this jumper I couldn’t do that because I didn’t have enough yardage, but I will definitely do so next time. And I’m pretty sure there will be a next time! (Does anyone else knit multiple garments from the same pattern or is it just me?)

A Starry Eve Dress

Do you remember a few weeks ago that I was chatting about how I wanted to create a more casual and everyday appropriate capsule wardrobe? I vowed to consider comfort before anything else. So about that…
I fell off the wagon big time with this dress! The Eve Dress by Sew Over It has been on my ‘to make’ list for quite a while and I nearly made a polka-dot version back in the summer. It was, however, two ready-to-wear dresses that I saw earlier this month which really inspired me to make this dress and 'make it right now'! The first of these was a wrap dress with handkerchief hem, and the second was a midi dress with fluted sleeve details and covered in glittery moons and stars. It occurred to me that, not only did I have the Eve pattern all cut out from before, but I also had a moon print fabric in my stash. (Earlier in the year I bought a duvet cover to make a M6696shirtdress, but I ended up with over half a duvet cover remaining, plenty for a second dress).
The Eve dress is a beautiful pattern and actually very simple in its construction. The pattern pieces are quite large and not very numerous, so the dress comes together quite quickly. There are also no tricky fastenings to deal with. There are, however, a couple of more challenging aspects to the pattern. The first is that the front bodice pieces are cut on the bias. As a result they stretch out of shape very easily. Though I did stay-stitch my neckline, I apparently was not quick enough to avoid this happening to me. (In the end I just created a little tuck at the top of the bodice piece to compensate for this). The other more tricky part of the pattern is the long ties, which are the only fastening for the dress. The ties are very long and very narrow. The pattern instructs you to sew the ties right-sides together and then turn them through. I found this nearly impossible, so in the end unpicked the stitching. Instead I opted to press the seam allowance to the wrong side and then top-stitch along them. I don’t mind that the stitching is visible and it saved an awful lot of hassle.
The other alterations I made to the pattern were stylistic. Rather than just turning up the long hem, I opted to sew a contrasting ribbon to the right side of the fabric and then turn it to the wrong side and hand-sew it down. As the wrong side of the fabric can be seen, I wanted to make more of a feature of it. I also opted to make my high-low hem more extreme, as I think it suited me better. I think I cut about three inches off the front skirt pieces and left the back as it was. In the end the finished dress has the fluted sleeve option that comes with the pattern. This was, however, a last minute decision. My version of the dress originally had long sleeves with a fluted cuff piece (basically the sleeve had its own half-circle skirt). I wanted to mimic the ready-to-wear dress I had seen, but ultimately I decided that it unbalanced the dress I had actually made.
My final addition was to hand-sew a million (probably not actually a million, but goodness did it feel like it!) sequins to the fabric of my dress. I used silver and blue sequins, to pick up the colours of the fabric and ribbon I had used in the construction of the dress. The fabric, because it is grey, could be considered a bit bland, and I wanted to avoid the dress looking too much like a duvet cover. The sequins enliven the fabric just enough I think, without being too obvious. (There are also lots of glittery star prints on the high street at the moment I noticed).
In the end I think the combination of the style of the pattern and the addition of the sequins means that I have created a party dress, rather than an everyday dress. That doesn’t mean I don’t love it though. In fact it turned out almost better than I imagined it might. It is also surprisingly flattering, which I wasn't expecting. I will, therefore, definitely be making this dress again. I think if I were to straighten the hem out and make a long-sleeve version, it would be a great dress to wear with cardigans and ankle boots in the autumn. Now I just need to find an occasion to wear this starry, sequin-covered Eve Dress!

The 'J' Word

If the blog has seemed a little quiet of late (when it comes to showing off finished objects), that does not mean I haven’t been busily sewing or knitting. In fact, over the next few weeks I will have quite a few things to ‘sew and tell’. One of the reasons I haven’t been able to show you what I’ve been making is because over the last month or so I have been doing a bit of collaborating with the lovely people at Minerva Crafts. Once these mystery garments have been posted on their blog in the upcoming months, I will be able to share them here. But for now, here is an interview I did with Minerva Crafts all about my sewing journey...

Sewing the High Street

Even though I tend to buy very few ready-to-wear garments nowadays, nevertheless I do still enjoy visiting high street stores. This is particularly true at this time of year, when the shops are beginning to advertise their new season clothes. I love dressing for autumn, because what is not to love about cosy jumpers, chunky boots and woolly tights? So on a recent expedition to Marks and Spencers (because a trip to M&S usually means visiting the cafĂ© and sampling a slice of their cake) I obviously fell in love with quite a few things. But I came away with nothing, as I don’t really buy clothes now, and instead decided to find patterns that might allow me to make my own versions.
This dress looks dreamy on the model in the adverts. I love the wrap style with long sleeves, the fabric is floaty and the colours just right for autumn. I also really like the handkerchief hem, and it reminds me of a skirt I wore to death when I was a teenager. The overall look of the dress is quite similar to the style of the Sew Over It Eve dress. I was going to make this in the summer, but never quite got around to it. Perhaps with a few alterations to the hem, I will make myself an autumnal Eve.
There is nothing quite like a big chunky jumper and I’ve always liked how they look over more floaty dresses and skirts. This jumper is full of cable-y goodness and is also in my very favourite mustard colour. There are a lot of cable jumper patterns out there and I want to make almost all of them. At the moment, however, I am making the Oda pattern by Brooklyn Tweed Knits. It’s a lovely aran weight garment with a big central cable. Obviously I’m knitting it in a mustard yellow too!
Trousers have always been my nemesis. Whether shop bought or handmade I can’t find good fitting trousers. That doesn’t mean I don’t like looking at trousers and dreaming about not looking completely ridiculous wearing them. I like the slim leg and tailored fit of these trousers and the check print is quite on trend. I have a near identical fabric in my stash which could be ideal. The Marigold pattern by Tilly and the Buttons would give a similar look with pockets and a tapered leg, but without the fuss of a zip.
This is a pretty basic and neutral  button-up skirt. It might not be anything special but it would be incredibly wearable as a day-to-day basic. Chuck on a shirt and a jumper and you’re good to go. I’ve been eyeing up the Pauline Alice Rosari skirt pattern for quite a while. It has a similar A-line shape and also comes with a variety of pocket options. I think it would look great, and be very practical, made up in a corduroy or denim.
There are a range of garments being sold using this constellation print fabric, including a dress and skirt. I love the space themed print and the extra addition of a bit of glitter. For this one I don’t have a particular garment in mind, but I do have a fabric in my stash which I could use. Earlier in the year I made my first M6696 shirtdress from a space print Asda duvet cover. I still have loads left over and with a bit of embroidery or embellishment I can imagine it might give a similar effect.

My Pattern Collection (Part One)

Over the few years that I have been sewing I have developed quite a collection of sewing (and knitting) patterns. So I thought I would show you that collection and perhaps reawaken my love for some of the patterns during the process.
First up I thought I would give you a peek at my paper pattern collection. I probably have more pdf patterns than paper patterns (simply due to the convenience that pdf provides). However, I keep all my paper patterns in the corner of a bookshelf dedicated to craft. (My bookshelves are organised thematically, because yes I am that weird). Some of the patterns are just left loose, and these are the ones that are either in the prettiest packaging or the ones which are most used. These are subsequently then organised alphabetically by pattern company. The other patterns are kept in Cath Kidston tins, which I got many years ago. In one tin I have dress patterns and in the other I have miscellaneous patterns.
In turns out I have a lot more paper sewing patterns than I originally thought. Out of the twenty-nine patterns I have used only twelve, which isn’t as many as I would have guessed. I will need to make sure I use these patterns before I look at buying new ones in the future. (The path of good intentions…) Having a look through all of them in this way has definitely made a few stand out though.
The Fifi pattern by Tilly and the Buttons has always been something I’ve wanted to sew, so I really should just bite the bullet and do it (even if the weather is now changing, rendering them unsuitable for the rest of the year). I really also want to have a go at making one of the tote bags, I think it could be a nice way to use up some of my larger scraps of material. At the moment I have two M7472 tunics cut out on my sewing table and waiting to be made up, which probably ought to be bumped up the queue.
There are a few patterns which I have made in the past, but probably wouldn’t make again. (The Simple Sew Skater Dress and Simplicity skirt pattern, for example). Despite this I will probably hang on to the patterns for a bit longer, just in case they can be hacked into something I would wear. I did have a bit of a clear out before I moved house earlier in the summer, during which time I donated/rehomed quite a few of the patterns which I had received free with various magazines. At some point I will probably do this again, because space and storage is always an issue.
And finally there are those patterns which are just too pretty (yes I’m looking at you vintage reproduction patterns) to not own, but are almost certainly completely impractical for the lifestyle I have. Nevertheless I will hang on to them in the hopes that I will have the occasion to make them in the future.
So that was my paper pattern collection and at some point (perhaps when I’ve had a bit of a tidy up) I might show you my out-of-control pdf pattern collection...