January 18, 2014

January outfit

Filed under:AW Wardrobe '13,Blouses/Tops,News!,Sewing,Skirts,Stash Down — Aileen @ 21:22

I started doing these outfit posts in spring last year and I found it a really good incentive. It gives me a focus for the month – sometimes I feel pulled in different directions – and it’s a decision I don’t make lightly. I try to make things that go with other things I have. I have on occasion made an outfit that doesn’t really go with many other things (like this) but I try not to do that. Anyway! Here’s January’s. Good basics.

The pattern for the blouse is an experiment in combining features of the Grainline Archer shirt and the Lisette Traveler shirt. Mostly, I just used the bodice, collar and hem curve of the Lisette pattern and the sleeve length and cuffs of the Archer. It worked ok I think. It looks better tucked in.

I used some basic cotton lawn which I had to order from Truro because it is impossible to find here. As you can see from the photos, it’s reasonably sheer but considering that I rarely wear a blouse without something over it, I don’t care about indecency. I don’t think I’ll remake this iteration, although it was a good exercise. I think for me, I like two totally different types of blouse. One is like a true Archer shirt – loose and casual with no darts; the other is a true dress shirt – fitted with darts front and back. I have yet to find the perfect shirt pattern but I grow closer as I refine my needs.

The skirt is actually a pair of culottes! When I saw Burda 6980 last autumn, I knew it had to happen. I used to have a pair as part of my school uniform in national school and even then, I thought they were amazing. I bought 1.5m of the navy herringbone from Murphy Sheehy’s expecting to need it all, given that culottes are really just giant shorts, but I got this out of 85cm comfortably. Incredible, really. I have enough for another skirt!

A special mention for this pattern and the individual Burda patterns. I’ve made a reasonable amount of patterns from both the Burda monthly magazines and the individual patterns that you buy from the catalogue. Although the magazine patterns tend to be more simplistic, I have found the drafting in both to be, by and large, really excellent. Their sizing and proportions are really geared towards reality rather than an ideal, particularly in their pants. This pattern is a perfect example. Usually I have to grade between two sizes to get the fit between my waist and hips right but in Burda, that’s just one size and absolutely spot on.

So, about the pattern. It’s very simple with a zip at the side and facings that go on the inside. The back facing is split in two to facilitate any fitting needed. I sewed my facings on to lining because the wool would stick to my tights otherwise.

So, nothing very exciting but I’ve already worn both lots. Wishing you happy sewing and knitting for the weekend!


December 8, 2013

Monkey top, totally see through and a question

‘Monkey top’ is our household name for a raglan two-tone t-shirt. A long time ago, Alb had a top that had dark brown sleeves and a light brown body. I joked that it made him look like a monkey, since that seems to be the standard cartoon colouration of a monkey – brown arms and light brown body. All joking aside, he has pretty good shoulders (read: pointier than a knife) so it’s a style he prefers. I like it too, but it is really hard for it to look good on a woman. My shoulders are nothing more than where my arm meets my body and a raglan sleeve does nothing to enhance that. I really wanted a two-tone top to match my green Moss skirt and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that the style needed to be raglan. What to do?

For a start, once I went searching I realised the dearth of good raglan patterns out there for women. I found this Burda pattern for raglan tops with a nice array of options but eventually I came to the conclusion that it’s more respectable-woman-with-shoulders than clinging-to-my-teens which, to be blunt with myself, is more the look I’m after.

It made sense, then, that I found the perfect pattern in what is essentially a tweens pattern. Browsing the Girl Charlee site (very popular for knit fabrics but based in the US so I don’t bother ordering what with customs etc etc), I found that they have a large pattern selection, most of which are downloadable. I dithered for weeks over the Curved Patrick Raglan but eventually bought it.


What I did was cut the largest girls size for the top part and largest boys size for the chest and length. After some thought, I added an extra 1/4″ to each seam for the body, increasing the finished width from 34″ to 35″. I adapted the sleeves, which comes in two pieces – short sleeve with additional ‘undersleeve’ extra, and just joined the undersleeve to the short sleeve. To this, I added an extra 1.5″ because I have long arms. I cut the largest girls size for the whole sleeve but if (probably when) I make it again, I’ll use the largest boys size for the width.


I was skeptical about the neckband but it turned out great. On the whole, it’s a good pattern. It’s a little pricey but considering that if you have kids, you do get a lot of sizes. I’m assuming most people buying it are not hijacking the largest kid’s size for themselves.

I should have said, the fabric is from Land of Oh Etsy shop. They’re based in Korea. Reasonable prices, fast shipping, highly recommended. I used their cotton interlock which is soft but not too stretchy.

So, the see through. I’ve been working on a silk chiffon top. I used Deer & Doe’s Blouse Airelle as my base, turning the V-neck into a round one and adding a big long neck scarf to tie into a bow. Sounds good, right?


It is completely transparent. I mean, it’s lovely and the scarf-bow thing is really snug, but I might as well be wearing an invisible blouse. Usually I just wear a tank top or vest under these kind of things but I feel very undressed in this. It never occurred to me to underline it as I did not think it was quite so sheer. I’ve been thinking about it all morning and my conclusion is that I should underline it. Thankfully, I sewed on that whole scarf bit by hand, so it will be easy to unpick and resew without damaging the fabric. In such a situation, I’m tempted to think, God, I should have just bought the one I saw in Dunnes… but I know that in the end, this will be nicer and last much, much longer. I found the crinkle silk chiffon in Hickey’s Henry St and they still have some if you, too, want to embark on a three month long, french seamed, invisible elephant.

Lastly, I need your opinion, people. I want to make a winter coat. A basic, every-day coat. I’ve never made a coat before so I just want to keep it simple. My musts are: navy, plaid lining, outside and inside pockets, knee length. No need for a hood. I acquired the most amazing navy wool melton (a really tightly-woven wool, more like a felt, traditionally used for sailor’s jackets!) and a matching navy/white plaid cotton to line it with. My first thoughts were to make a duffle coat but now I’m considering the Veste Pavot from Deer & Doe. I think a duffle would be great if I tended towards regular rambles through undergrowth or seaside adventures, not to mention satisfying my inner Enid Blyton. However considering that the main things I do are cycle to various works, cycle to town, walk about in town, walk about in supermarket, maybe something smarter would be a better use of my fabulous melton. Thoughts?


November 11, 2013

Dotty Renfrew and Knit Scout

Someone went away for the weekend and I did some sewing. I did other things, too, but Saturday was mostly spent sewing, knitting and drinking tea. It was one of those perfect November days: calm, sunny in the morning, foggy in the afternoon, low light, damp air. I often feel like November gets forgotten about in the Christmas bustle.

I did quite a lot. Some slow sewing on a silk blouse I’m working on that requires a lot of concentration. A random cushion cover I had been putting off. Then some quick fixes – another pair of jodhpur leggings like these and two tops.

Yet another Renfrew top. Though this pattern really lends itself to many, many iterations, I have exhausted my fascination with the cowl neckline. Long sleeved jersey tops are my most worn item. Usually I buy them from Gap but have recently noticed that their quality and longevity has taken a serious downturn. So, I decided to explore the crew neck version of my pattern. I raised the neckline 2″ at the front and wish I had done the same at the back. It looks ok though.

The (rather wonderful) fabric I received in the post on Friday. I decided to try out a new vendor on Etsy – Land of Oh. They’re based in Korea and what attracted me to them was their combination of reasonable prices with reasonable postage. Sure, I can buy for cheap from the US but postage tends to be crazy. It is pretty difficult to find good jersey in Ireland and the UK. Sure, it exists, but it’s about €20/m and often isn’t very good quality. So I ordered this cotton interlock and a light chambray to try this shop out and was really happy with the service. They say to allow 3 weeks for delivery but I had mine in about ten days. They messaged me straight away when they had dealt with my order, and my order was exactly as described on the site.

Other than raising the neckline, I lengthened the body by 7cm and left off the hem band. I used Bondaweb hemming tape, the kind where you put it in between the hem and then use the iron to glue it all together. I did that so the hem wouldn’t go all funny when I twin needled it. It worked pretty well. The other thing I did was make the cuffs narrower. I took off an extra 2cm.

I was really disappointed with my neckline initially. It was sticking up all straight, even though I topstitched it. I left it to one side and then, last night, I decided to get over it and read up all about knit necklines. Turns out I just didn’t press it enough! I used the Megan Nielsen tutorial.

While I was on a roll, I decided to make something I’ve been meaning to do for ages and ages – make a knit Scout.

I got this green stripe jersey at the 2012 K&S show for cheap and figured it was time to stop hanging on to it and just make it up! I used my modified pattern – I raised the neckline 2″ and my bodice has some waist shaping included. I also made the sleeves longer.

I was talking to Alb when I took the photos so I didn’t notice my sleeve was flipped up there! I ended up taking the whole thing in about 2cm at the side seams. The neckline was a micro disaster but it turned out ok-ish. I think I may cut another binding and resew it. There are a few wibbly bits.

Considering that this is more of a wearable muslin than anything I was expecting to turn out well, I’m pretty happy with it.

As for the knitting, all I did was watching movies and crank out that teal Larch cardigan I was telling you about. The good news is that I’m already at the armholes so hopefully I’ll have something interesting-looking to show soon.


November 7, 2013

A rolling Moss gathers no Archer

I have some things to show you! In fact, I have a massive backlog thanks to my photo failure the other day so let’s get going. I am well and truly on the Grainline bandwagon so here is my first of two Moss Minis. Apologies in advance for Asleep Face.

This was a wearable muslin in a way. I only had 80cm of a remnant bought about this time last year. So absorbed was I by the puzzle of squeezing everything out of this remnant, I totally forgot to check the grain. The whole thing is ‘upside down’ but I don’t care. There are a lot of things I love about this pattern. It is a really nice, casual straight skirt. It looks really nice from the back.

It has a great back yoke piece which you could have fun with depending on your fabric.

It has pretty much the world’s most perfect skirt pockets.

And the fly instructions are clear and easy to follow.

To recap the deets – this is the pattern. Mine, obviously, is not a mini skirt. I lengthened it by about 6″. I also tapered between a size 6 for the waist and a 10 for the hip. This took a bit of planning since the pockets are part of the front but it worked well. I used 80cm of 150cm wide olive corduroy, found in a remnant basket. It was about €8 I think. I used scrap fabric for the pocket linings and the waistband facings. It took maybe two sewing sessions so all in all, a neat little project.

There are many, many Moss mini skirts out there in Internetland by now but I think it’s one of Grainline’s more recent patterns, the Archer shirt, that has solidified her reputation for impeccable drafting. Here’s my first take (again, there are others to show).

I had an overwhelming urge to make a denim shirt. For months. And for months, I searched for the perfect chambray but it was not to be found, not even online. I finally found this stuff in Hickey’s.

As you can see, it’s pretty much the ideal weekend/camping/travelling/sickday/beach day shirt. This is not the kind of thing I wear to work, obviously, but I’m not at work all the time!

It’s a pretty good layering piece, and those shirt tails mean that if you tuck it in, there is definitely no draft at the back!

I really like the fit across the shoulders and the separate yoke piece means you can have some biased fun if you wish.

For some reason, it was the idea of a light coloured shirt with dark top-stitching that really had me going. Unfortunately for me, this particular chambray is so squidgy, I did a lot of ripping out, especially on the plackets. I did not expect such a problem. It turned out ok, though, I think. Also – I defy you to find buttons that are a true navy. Holy God.

I love the angled cuffs. There’s the option to sew them straight, too, or I’m sure you could easily make them curved.

The collar is really well drafted and with some careful sewing, I was able to get my stand turned, sewn down and looking respectable from both sides. Easier said than done.

Again, I made some adjustments. After sewing the Scout t-shirt, which has a huge amount of ease, I was wary of this pattern. I have practically no shoulders whatsoever and oversized anything isn’t really a good look for me. After a lot of measuring of the pattern pieces, I cut a size 0, despite it being a good three sizes too small according to the sizing chart. I added 3/4″ total to the front at the widest part of the bust, tapering out from the neckline. On my next one, which I will show very soon, I also added an extra inch at the hips.

It’s not necessarily the quickest project, as shirts always take attention to detail, but I’m hoping it will end up being one of those indispensable multi-purpose garments.


October 28, 2013

October Outfit

Managing to sneak in with this just before the end of October. Phew! I’m feeling extremely frustrated right now because I spent quite a while taking lots of photos of all the things I have finished up since I last posted… but 75% of them were out of focus. I use an old camera of Alb’s because it has a remote control but when I take out the battery to charge it, the settings on the camera reset. Oh well, lesson learned! At least I realised before I had completely finished and so have a few things to share today.

My most recent finish was this cozy outfit. I showed the flannel in my last post and here it is, as a shirt/tunic.

Pattern: Simplicity 2246 (Lisette Traveller Dress). I’ve made a few of these Lisette patterns and I love them. Sad to say, I think most of them are going out of print, so if you’ve been hmming or hawwing about picking up one, do it soon. What I love most about them is that they are a true petite fit. I am about a 35″ bust and picked the size for 36 1/2″ finished measurement – it fits great and has enough room for a long-sleeved top underneath should I so desire.

I made a few modifications, but I kept the recommended length of View B, the tunic.

I cut an extra cuff piece on the bias, traced off the bottom bit of the sleeve that’s meant to be turned up. I also lengthened the sleeve so that it’s full length and that the cuff stays turned up. You may be able to make out from the photo, I also cut the pockets on the bias. I’m not a huge fan of sewing on pockets, mostly because they’re exposed and difficult to get exactly right. These took me a long time to get to my liking. In hindsight, I should have used a very light interfacing for the whole pocket to keep it from stretching out.

None of my photos that are in focus show an extra modification I added – a wedge piece at each side seam at the hem. I tacked the sides together to check the fit before I overlocked it and found it very tight across the hips. If I wanted a straight skirt on the dress view, I guess it would be ok to let it out a bit from the waist down. But for a tunic, I need to be able to move freely, so I added in a wedge tapering from the waist out to about 10cm at the hem on each side. This alters the overall silhouette, making it a bit more baggy than intended, but I think that adding a belt will help.

The other part of this outfit is the leggings! I have never made leggings before and truth be told, I am suspicious of the whole leggings-as-pants trend. However, whilst looking for something completely different, I came across a large selection of Jodhpur material on Textile Express. It is pretty much what you want for leggings, you know? I never really thought about it before then. I bought 2m since it was so cheap which is enough for a test pair and then another pair in case the test goes badly.

I used the Espresso leggings pattern from Sewing Cake. It’s more a template based on measurements that you take yourself. I was intrigued, to say the least. I sewed them mostly straight on the overlocker, using the machine only to sew down the hems and waistband, so it was a really quick project. I sewed one leg, tried it on and freaked to find that it was reallllllly small! But I finished it off and found that actually, they fit perfectly. Here is an out-of-focus photo to show the length and fit from the back.

The service from Textile Express was very good and I can recommend the navy jodhpur fabric anyway. It’s pretty dense – I was not expecting how unbelievably warm these are. They’re like thermals.