August 4, 2020

Summer Tops: New Look 6483

Filed under:Blouses/Tops,Finished Objects,Sewing,Tops — Aileen @ 14:13

At some point during the lockdown, I slowly entered into the illusion that summer was coming and with it, the kind of weather that gives the impression that it is summer. The things we tell ourselves! Anyway, the last two summers, I made a small batch of t-shirts – a set of 3 plain t-shirts, and another set of 3 in prints. This has proved to be plenty, because we just don’t get that much t-shirt weather. But I don’t really have any woven tops anymore, bar the few shirts and blouses that I mentioned in my last post. It is funny because now, after many years of exploration, I find myself returning to really solid basics such as the Scout Tee and today’s pattern, New Look 6483.

NL6483 is that kind of pattern that one easily passes over. It is utterly non-descript. The cover has only line drawings and it looks a bit old-fashioned. But it a really versatile pattern! It is for woven fabrics, has three neckline variations (a high crew neck, a jewel neck and a square neck), two sleeveless variations (one where the edge comes right to the shoulder bone, the other being more cut away), and a version with sleeves. The sleeveless version have substantial facings. There is a simple button-and-loop closure at the back and that has a facing as well.

To start with, I decided to make a toile in some lingering, leftover Liberty fabric that I was being precious about. I went with the jewel neckline and the more cut away sleeve line.

The end result is nice but I had to do quite a bit of tweaking. The armhole was way too deep and not really the right shape. I had to put a small dart in on each side and mirror it in the facing as well. I just sort of eyeballed it, so it’s not totally perfect, but for a toile, I didn’t really mind too much.

The shape is really nice at the front, but it is cut away a bit too much at the back shoulder for me. Whatever about showing your bra strap, I find this type of shoulder line doesn’t give enough coverage for sun, or if I am carrying a bag, my skin gets irritated easily.

For my next two iterations, I chose to cut the high crew neckline with full shoulder coverage. The neckline really is quite high – I like it, but if you’re sensitive to that type of contact against your skin there, perhaps an amalgamation with the other neckline view would be better. I am really happy with how this one turned out! The armscye is a different shape on this view and I had no problems with its depth or with gaping.

The fabric came from Quilt Yarn Stitch in Tuam, Galway. I got it from them in May because I thought it was just so fun and summery! I ordered a metre and I had some leftovers. I made the hat (at the top of the post) from some leftover denim and lined it with the lemons. (The pattern, if you’re curious, is Sorrento Bucket Hat. It is a free download from Elbe Textiles and comes in multiple sizes.)

I didn’t use a loop-and-button at the back, opting instead for a hook-and-eye. It’s fine, but I find that when I wear a cardigan over it, it tends to open.

I made the same view again in a different fabric. I just loved this one! Those hens!

Again, the fabric came from Quilt Yarn Stitch and I used just shy of a metre for it. So, it’s a good pattern if you’d like to use a fun fabric but don’t want to get too much of it!

You can just about see in this photo how there is a small split hem at the bottom. You might think that it’s not worth taking the time to include this, but actually I found that it is a nice feature and gives a little bit of extra comfort across the hips. As well as that, it’s the kind of feature that looks nice if you choose not to wear it tucked in.

Funnily enough, the item I have gotten the most wear out of so far is the sun hat! It is possible that, after such a damp and cool July, we will have a settled and fine August and September, providing me with ample wearing time for these fun tops before things get properly chilly.

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July 25, 2020

FO: New Look 6394

Filed under:Blouse,Finished Objects,Sewing — Aileen @ 10:24

I went through a period where I mostly only sewed, but now I have hit on a nice equilibrium. It was a really interesting process, to slowly migrate to sewing a lot of my own clothes. I made lots and lots to begin with. Some worked out great, some not at all. Through each iteration, I developed a better sense not only of what I liked to wear, but also to sew. Within that, it has been fun to see what I like to wear vary over time, depending on what I have been doing. Whilst I was working in the university, I enjoyed making clothes to wear to work. I made a lot of day dresses and discovered that a knit dress is one of the most satisfying quick sews you can have. Since leaving that job and returning to full-time studies, not to mention full-time lockdown, I find myself more in need of some more basics.

I like open-front cardigans. They go well with dresses and with shirts and blouses. I have a few shirts in my wardrobe that I love, but I didn’t have any blouses. To me, the main differences between a shirt and a blouse is the collar (a blouse doesn’t have a collar stand), the button placket (a shirt seems to usually have a separate one attached), and the finish at the sleeves. I have patterns for blouses that just finish the sleeves with a simple hem, and others with a cuff but no tower placket. It is interesting to see how many details from mens’ shirts have crossed into women’s wear, and kind of funny to reflect on how arbitrary these gender-specific details are! Anyway, after quite some searching, I found New Look 6394. The cover photo is none too enticing but the details are all there! I liked how it has a tunic length option, as well as the option for a collar stand or a blouse collar.

I got the fabric in 2017 when I went to visit my friend in Paris. I stayed with her a few days and visited the fabric district. I had never been to a proper fabric district before so it was a lot of fun! I really love a bright plaid and couldn’t leave this behind. It was about €5 a metre. I cut the back yoke on the bias:

…and did my best with the pattern matching. I was very conscientious about it for the body but unfortunately neglected to check if the sleeves were symmetrically mirrored. It worked out reasonably well but I wish I had thought of it beforehand.

The buttons I had in my stash. I had only 4 that matched so I left off the 5th bottom one, because I find that usually gets caught in my trousers when I tuck it in anyway! The only other adjustment I made was to hem the sleeves much shorter. It is curious how a too-long sleeve can affect the finished appearance! I found in my search for this pattern that sizes for this type of blouse tend to be inexplicably huge. I cut the smallest size, which gave a finished measurement of a 38″ bust. There have been a few releases from independent designers this summer for a similar style. The Liesl & Co Camp Shirt has a really lovely feel to it, but the smallest size has a finished measurement of about 40″. Helen’s Closet recently released the Gilbert Shirt which has a more balanced size range, and a really nice option for a tie at the front. I had already bought (and made!) this pattern by the time it was released, so if you don’t have access to New Look patterns, they’re two nice alternatives for you with contrasting options.

I love the boyish look that this blouse has and I am pretty sure that I will be wearing this into the winter with a long-sleeved top underneath it.

I have been thinking a lot about what to keep in my wardrobe and the sewing of basics. I lost a lot of weight over the last few years and although that thankfully has stabilised, I find that my shape has changed. This is neither good nor bad, just different, and the more I think about it, the more obviously normal it is. I have gradually purged what I have. In the last year especially, I donated quite a lot of very old handmades. In the process of doing that, I chose the items that I loved but were now unwearably big and over time, adjusted them and have since readmitted them. Although a chore, this is very satisfying to do! I had a lovely button-down denim skirt made from a fantastic Japanese selvedge denim, for example, that I could take off without opening the buttons. Now it is back on a hanger! So although I am making less clothes, I am investing more time into saving makes that I know that I will continue to wear. I have no problem donating handmades as it makes me very happy to think that someone else might enjoy wearing it as much as I did.

As for basics, I have been thinking a lot about fast fashion and the ethics of the manufacturing process. The lockdown exposed some of the horrors that continue in countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia. I have learned, through Garthenor Organics, how important certification such as GOTS and OEKO-Tex are. It is not just about environmental sustainability but also making a conscious decision to be mindful of fellow humans living and working in other places. For example, the GOTS certification also ensures that the people making that product are paid at least the minimum wage. I haven’t bought anything fast fashion-y for a few years now and when it comes to basics, like bras, knickers and t-shirts that I would normally buy in M&S or Penney’s, I am slowly teaching myself how to make these things and use up my fabric scraps. The t-shirts and knickers are easy enough. I have found a pattern for both that really work for me. As for bras, this is more complicated and I am in the process of trying out a Jalie pattern. More on that another day! Thanks for reading.

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February 19, 2015

FO: Carme blouse

Filed under:Blouses/Tops,Finished Objects,Sewing,Stash Down — Aileen @ 13:09

Hi everyone! I’ve a lot on my plate these days so forgive my infrequent posts. Between concerts, competitions (small, local, soon and big, in Italy and later) and actual work for money, there’s a lot going on! Well, no, not right now, but there will be. Mostly it would be fine if I wasn’t doing competitions abroad, but I am!

Anyway, I have for you today a blouse I finished before Christmas. I wore it once but the cuffs were far too tight and narrow, so it sat in my mending pile until January.

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It’s the Carme blouse by Pauline Alice patterns. She’s sort of the Spanish equivalent of Deer and Doe. I bought the Alameda dress pattern as well, as I have a wonderful check will that would look fabulous with those bias panels.

I digress! I used a plain polycotton that has been sitting in my stash for ages – I needed a blue blouse and this wasn’t so precious that I wouldn’t mind if it didn’t work out perfectly. I didn’t have quite enough for the sleeves and that meant that when I put on the little cuffs, they were finishing higher up my arms than intended and so were too tight. What I did was replace them with a pair of cuffs from another blouse. I also left out the gathers and just did a normal pleat instead.

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As for the body, I didn’t cut a straight size as it’s kind of oversize – I cut my proper size for the top, tapered into the smallest size at the waist and then a size bigger at the hips. It looks like an extreme curve but when on is just fine.

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You can see that there’s still plenty of room in the body. You might spy, as well, that I have a collar on my blouse when the pattern has none. The pattern has the important bit – a collar stand – so I just popped a collar from another pattern into it.

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The placket and bib were really straight forward and well explained in the instructions. It’s a nice pattern, with lots of options for variety, and it goes well over leggings or jeans.

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January 17, 2015

Bonne année!

Many happy returns, dear readers, I wish you all a fruitful 2015. I think for most of us it is fair to say that any year, in retrospect, was a mixed bag. I feel like I really progressed in my sewing; I found my knitting mojo again; I travelled loads. I made it to my third year teaching full time and still cycle most places. I had alot of good concerts, one shaky and one fantastic; I played out of my skin in two different competitions, came third in both and didn’t give a damn.

I’ve just been looking back through this last year’s makes, looking for my favourites, but I love and wear them all! I made tonnes of separates over the last two years so I’m naming 2015 the Year of the Dress! Dresses make things very easy. Other than the few wool shifts that I made (quite some time ago now), I don’t really have any simple day dresses. Everyone’s situation and wardrobe needs is different but maybe you feel the same way… I put together some inspiration for you!

As mentioned here, I searched long and hard for a good princess panel dress. I ended up going with New Look 6124, but other options I found along the way include the Aydan dress by Named, which has sleeves and the Attaché dress by Lisette (Simplicity 1666 – I made both the top and the dress version and found the dress just too flared to really want to make again).

But what if princess panels are too busy for you? You just want something simple, maybe to show off a really nice fabric? I found this a while ago – New Look 6302.

I really like the little jacket that goes with this. The only downside to this pattern is that it’s not lined, but if you’ve never sewn a dress, this is a really straight forward sort of pattern to start with. I like this Burda pattern for similar reasons.

It’s a petite pattern so measurements such as armhole depth, torso depth and so on, are more in proportion with a petite height. I really like how you have the option to make only the skirt, and the dress has sleeves. The main reason I haven’t tried this one out yet is because I always worry that this sort of style, with the long sleeves, would be just overpowering.

Speaking of sleeves, I have always loved the Hazel dress by Victory Patterns.

The high collar and bow mean that you can still have attractive details if you leave off the sleeves. I like the colourblock option, too, though I would worry about finding complementary fabrics too much to actually make this up!

Sticking with bows, another that I love (and have and am dying to make up!) is the La Sylphide blouse and dress by Papercut Patterns.

This is a deceptive pattern. For a start, I loathe the way all of the Papercut patterns are styled. I think maybe they’re going for a gritty, cutting-edge sort of look but they all just look bedraggled to me?! It’s a real shame because when their last collection came out, I totally discounted it because of that. I have since grown to really like many of their patterns, though have yet to make one up. La Sylphide is good value for money because you can make a blouse with a peplum, a full dress or just the skirt part of the dress. I really like all three options – the blouse would be lovely with a little pencil skirt, and the skirt is perfect for summer.

Another lovely, more casual option is Colette’s most recent offering, the Dahlia dress.

Like all of their patterns, it is really pretty but there seem to be some fitting issues! I’ve read a good few reviews that say that the neckline is a bit strange and there’s a problem when lifting your arms in any way. Luckily for us, there’s a sleeveless option and I think this version would be lovely for summer.

Speaking of summer, a super hit last summer was Grainline Studio’s Alder.

At first I was a little non-plussed at its release, as it’s quite similar to the Archer shirt. But I do like the ruffle skirt option, I think it’s so quirky and fun! We don’t get much weather for sleeveless dresses, even in the summer, but I think this would be nice with a little cropped cardigan, don’t you think?

Keeping with the shirtdress theme, I can’t leave out Named’s take on it from their last collection, the Wenona.

It’s one of the few shirtdress patterns I’ve seen out there that actually has the option for just the shirt. You’d think it would be kind of an obvious thing to include, right?! I love this pattern. I love the pleating option, and I lovelovelove all the possibilities opened up with the panelling, especially down the sleeve. You could keep it simple but do lots of coloured topstitching to highlight it. Or, you could use up some fabulous precious scraps and really show them off. I think I’m going to need to make one of these next Autumn. While I’m on the topic of the Named patterns, you should really just check out all of their dresses here. They really offer something a little bit different. Having made quite a few of their patterns now, I can unreservedly recommend them; their fit and drafting is the best that I have found amongst independent designers.

Last, but by absolutely no means least, we cannot forget little Bruyere by Deer and Doe! What a smashing pattern! (See my version here)

Now, I know it’s more of a tunic than a dress, but there’s nothing to stop you from making it a bit longer. Like all of Deer and Doe’s patterns, they fit just as they say they will and always have beautiful feminine touches. I love the fitted bodice and the small pleats in the skirt on this one. I think I will definitely be making another one of these! It is such a versatile top to pop on over leggings or skinny jeans.

I hope that has whetted your appetite and that you will join me in sewing up a few!

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December 29, 2014

A forgotten FO and nearly FO!

Filed under:Finished Objects,Knitting,Sewing — Aileen @ 09:00

I realised after publishing my last post that I had, in fact, never shared with you my new kit bag!

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I sometimes have a piano lesson on a Thursday evening in Rathmines. One day I was early so I decided to avail of the opportunity and pay a visit to Sew. It was my first time visiting so I wasn’t expecting what lay in store – a wonderful little nook bursting with fabric, notions, ideas and inspiration! They have a classroom, too, where they teach a full range of classes.

I fell in love with the sewing-themed fabric and bought a fat quarter and a matching solid to make this bag. I used the Open Wide Zipper Pouch tutorial by Noodlehead. It’s excellent! I wanted a bag big enough to tote a fairly substantial project, such as a shawl or a sleeve, and it fits the bill perfectly.

Another FO I forgot to show you is a very simple black skirt.

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As you can see, I had to brighten the photo up considerably but you get the idea! I used a black scuba fabric from Michael H fabric basement (about €8 I think) and I have quite a bit left. The pattern I used was the Shadi skirt from the recent Named collection. I tapered between sizes 38-40 I think, because it’s very close fitting. I think it was originally designed as a type of slip. I have been wearing the heck out it and I think I’m going to add at least one more pencil skirt to my wardrobe – you can wear them with anything and you immediately look dressed up.

Lastly, I have for you my ‘nearly’ FO. I had to leave this to one side to work on something else that I hope to share with you very soon. On the same day I bought the black scuba above, I also bought some houndstooth wool check for a simple winter dress.

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There is a lot of dart detail so it turned out to be slower going than anticipated. I just tacked the sides together and threw it on to see if it fitted. It was my first time sewing from a Japanese pattern book so I was unsure. My doubts were misplaced, though, as the finished measurements were spot on, and the fit is perfect. I simply have to sew the sides so that the pattern matches and sew in the lining.

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