In search of the perfect boat neck

23 Oct img_5637

I’ve been searching for the last year for a pullover boat neck top pattern. I ended up asking the ladies on the Monthly Stitch Facebook group for their recommendations as I wasn’t having much luck finding what I had in mind. They introduced me to several potential patterns I wasn’t familiar with, which I’ve filed away as future potential projects:


line_drawings_24_Sept_2014_largeThe winning suggestion was Bonnie by Bluegingergirl. But having found the right pattern, I really struggled to actually find someplace to buy it. I was over the moon at the knitting and stitching show to find it at one of the booths. That being said it’s now taken me months and months to actually get round to sewing it! I have made version B however.

It wasn’t until now that I’ve had the motivation to have a go at version C. But the cooler weather has me reaching for comfortable, long sleeve tops. And having recently got my hands on this lovely mustard yellow 95% cotton /5% spandex blend I knew it was time to get a move on. I’ve made size 10 for bust and above, grading out to 12 at the waist and hips.

It is a really easy and straightforward pattern but I made one wee error. When I was sewing the neck seam with my twin needle I forgot to change my stitch from the narrow zig zag I had used previously. And because it was so narrow I didn’t notice for quite a while. If you’ve ever tried to unpick a fine stitch on jersey you’ll know that it it very easy to wreck your fabric or stretch it out of shape, so I decided to leave it be. Initially I thought there was more of a gather on the sleeve shoulder than I prefer,  but once I had it on, I think it looks quite nice. Though I may experiment next time and shave a bit off the top of the sleeve’s shoulder to reduce the gather.

It was so fast and easy, and really quite comfortable, that I thought I would immediately make a few more. But we’re just adopted a dog, Poppy,  so I’m not foreseeing much sewing time in the near future.



A pleated pencil skirt

2 Oct img_5541

I really loved the look of this pattern, the pleated pencil skirt from Delia Creates. I liked its length and while tapered didn’t appear too tight at the knees. After printing out my pattern I was pleased to see that there were only a few A4 pages that needed to be taped together before tracing. I diligently pulled out my measuring tape to take my measurements and was a little shocked to discover that my two months of comfort eating (work has been stressful to say the least) has added two inches to my waist. But the nice thing about making my own clothes is making things that actually fit my body   just the way it is. So I proceeded to trace out the size 10. If I loose the extra two inches, well I’ll take in the sides then.  My fabric, if I remember correctly, is a cotton/linen blend  combined with some cheap canary yellow acetate lining.

The instructions were really clear and easy to follow and the skirt came together really well. However after step 7 (when I had attached the waistbands to the skirt and lining) and was able to try it on, I realised that the curve of the hip was much more prominent than I needed. So I shaved off the harshest angle of the hip curve from 4″ below the waistband, for 5 3/4″.  Size wise it is just perfect. I think it looks really flattering across my stomach and waist and it feels like a nice fit too.  I struggled a little with my zipper and getting the waist bands to line up on either side – it took me three attempts. But I’m really happy with the result.

And the yellow lining is soo fun, I’m really pleased with how the insides look!

Autumn colors

30 Sep img_5474

In the last week it really feels like autumn has arrived and with it my desire for snuggly comfortable fabrics, in warm colors. Perfect timing then as Girl Charlee in the UK is having a massive sale until Sunday.

I really should have a child lock on my internet – one that is set to impede fabric buying late at night. As on Tuesday night I went a little wild and ordered myself four new wonderful knits and they arrived in the post this morning! Opening the package up, I was struck by how beautiful all the colors are together and how very autumnal they are. To be on the safe side I bought two meters of each as I’m planning a few cowl  neck, long sleeve tops and the cowl is a fabric eater.

From left to right they are: white pin dot on navy  (cotton rayon blend knit), heather burnt orange (100% cotton jersey knit), brown maroon orange mod circles (90%cotton 10% Spandex knit) and mustard yellow (95% cotton 5% spandex). I can’t wait for the weekend to get started!


For the love of underwear

25 Sep img_5160

I love underwear. When I was younger, my sister would sometimes take me underwear shopping went I went to town to visit her. It was always an extra amazing visit when we went underwear shopping. When she’d go someplace new she’d send me a pair she bought in whatever city she was in.  And as I grew up and started travelling, I’d send her a pair.  From Ethiopia to  Sri Lanka, she’d get whatever underwear I could find. Paris was the best – she got a pair of red, PVC hotpants.

Its amazing how expensive underwear can be however. I mean it sometimes seems that the smaller the bits of fabric are, the more they can charge. So I was really excited to find that it is actually cheaper to make my own. Suffice to say, that last year when I made my first pair of underwear, using the Rosy Ladyshorts pattern from Cloth Habit – I made my sister (and BFF) an identical pair.

I still had quite a bit of the two way stretch jersey I used, so I decided I’d make a few new pairs  each with a different lace trims. While shopping for lace trim over at Gypsy Lace, I got  a little carried away and ended up buying some lovely lace to make a few  all over stretch lace too. Which I think looks pretty damn cute.

The Rosy Ladyshorts are really quick to sew – about 50 minutes from start to finish. The instructions are simple and easy to follow. Most of that is spent on attaching the trim to the leg holes and waist. I really love this pattern – they’re super comfortable and I love how they look on. I’ve made these in size 6.

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I also decided to be adventurous and bought myself the Kingston thong pattern from Orange Lingerie. My supplies came from all over the place: I got the power mesh from Tia Knight, the lace from Gypsy Lace, and the lingerie elastic from Macculloch and Wallis.This was a bit more of a  challenging pattern  than the Rosy Ladyshorts and on my first pair (the one with white lace) I really struggled to sew with the power mesh as it didn’t like to feed through my machine nicely. As a result it feels like where I added the lingerie elastic is a bit stretched out of shape. Giving it a good steam helped but obviously didn’t make it 100% perfect.But practice makes perfect and my 2nd pair came out much easier  (and quicker – in the end it took about 75 minutes to sew them up start to finish. I’ve got the mesh and lace to made a few other pairs in black and green etc. But I’m itching to start my next project.

I made the Kingston thong in size medium as that perfectly matched my measurements  – fit wise its perfect. It’s really comfortable and quite flattering.

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The Boylston Bra

18 Sep img_5455-2

Eeek my first bra! Choosing the pattern and materials felt a bit like buying my first bra – not know the terminology nor really needing it. Yet possessing the desperate desire to enter the clique of bra wearing (now making) lasses. In the end I chose the Boylston Bra pattern from Orange Lingerie. And bought a kit from thebrashop on etsy. I’d really like to say here how helpful Alison from thebrashop was, answering my questions and adapting the kit to ensure it had everything I needed for the Boylston.

First step: establishing measurements. I was really careful taking my measurements, standing in front of mirror so I could make sure I was standing up straight and that the measuring take was parallel to the floor.  My body circumference directly under bust is 30″, plus 4″ as per the directions and I have my band size: 34″. So far so good. Measurements at fullest part of bust 36″. Hmm not that can’t be right. Check again. Come back a week later and check again. Still 36″. Have I been measuring my full bust wrong all these years? Upper bust 34″, difference between full and upper bust – 2″ therefore I’m a B cup. 34B – exactly what I would buy in the shop (and to be fair fits just fine).

While the instructions are clear and straightforward, they require diligence and attention. I would have appreciated more details in the instructions and perhaps some more notches in the pattern pieces, which would indicate exactly what went where. And I was certainly challenged:

For example once I joined the lower cup pieces together, there is nothing to indicate which is the top and bottom – you have to rely on the pictures in the instructions (which I didn’t realize). As a result I proceeded to get myself quite muddled and having proceeded to attach and topstich the lower cup to the upper cup,  I had to unpick it all because my lower cup was upside down.  Ooops. Also although the pattern is designed to be used with soft foam, there aren’t any instructions for inserting these so this time I decided to skip the foam (although I did later find a useful tutorial on this over on Lladybird’s blog). In the end my cups looked pretty nice – both inside and out.

Sewing the bridge, frame and band together was straightforward and even attaching these to the cups was quite clear and straightforward. But I stumbled when I had to attach the casing for the underwire to the bra. To be honest I found the instructions for this and the accompanying image mind boggling confusing. In the end I refereed back to Lladybirds blog and from her pictures I thought I might know what they meant so just winged it. I think did it correctly. I also got quite confused and had to do alot of googling to learn what the hell a ‘pin stitch’ was, and in the end skipped that step and just top stitching around the casing on the bridge and frame.

The upside to buying a bra kit is also a downsize: I didn’t now what each of the notions required where and therefore struggled to identify everything in the kit. While I could refer back to the etsy listing and deduce what things were, it did mean that I used the leftover grey scallop edge underarm elastic for the bottom of the bra, while the kit actually contained some very pretty pink loopy bottom band elastic. But I wasn’t about to unpick all the zigzag stitch and risk wrecking my fabric for the sake of some pink trim. But the kit did come with a pretty little bow/flower.

Also the back of my bra wouldn’t nearly fit into the end of the eye attachment, so I put a dart in the ends of the back of the bra as that seemed to be the neatest way to make it fit.

I had a few issues with the straps. It wasn’t until I got to adding the elastic to the underarm and strap that I realised that I think I didn’t place the straps correctly. But I couldn’t think of a way to unstitch the top part of the cup to fix the placement. And later I found that the front strap was a tiny bit too wide for the ring on the back strap. So it’s a bit messy plus first time round, I got the strap turned around and twisted so had to unpick and do it again.

Fit wise its quite tight under the bust, I do bulge a bit under the arm, and I have to wear it on the last clasp. It’s much tighter than my RTW bras but that could be partially that all my RTW are old and probably quite stretch. Also I do POP out the top of the bra, that might partially be part down to design (it would look great with a plunging neckline) or it may be partly my poor construction or that I simply need to go a cup size up. Its hard to tell at this point.

All of that being said, I am immensely proud of having completed a wearable bra in a weekend. And I’m already planning my next one, having learned from all the above issues.



The real deal – Biscayne blouse

17 Sep biscayne-blouse-4

As soon as I saw the Yucca – Manu Forest fabric I knew I had to have it. I’ve never used voile and as I was lusting after the fabric online, I couldn’t be sure what it actually felt like. So I looked for patterns that specifically referenced using it. Then I came across the Biscayne blouse from hey June, which I figured would be perfect with a cardigan in autumn/winter. I loved the simplicity of the design plus I’d learn a few new techniques as I’ve never made a hidden button placket or a welt pocket. I decided to be diligent and make a wearable muslin of the small to check fit and practice the new techniques before using my precious new fabric.  I’m glad I did – while the small is a perfect fit for most of the blouse, I really need to grade out to a medium at the hips. Plus its always good to practice new things before using your favorite new fabric.

I really took my time cutting out my pieces  and was surprised to discover that with creative placement of pattern pieces, I needed much less that the required 2 metres. While my fabric is 44″ wide I only used  1.5 metres. I considered the layout for quite a while –  to ensure optimal flower placement, and cutting out the placket piece so that it wouldn’t jar too much with the centre front.

I was exceptionally careful in marking my plackets but it was hard to transfer precise markings onto the black fabric, as my white marker doesnt have a fine tip. In the end I had to rely on measuring the distances between each fold line. It wasn’t perfect, and I had to adjust it a few times to get it to overlap nicely. My welt pocket however came together much better than last time, and I’m quite pleased with it this time.

I put in three rows of gathering stitches, in hot pink so I could pick them out easily later on. And this time I managed to get the gathering right – no snags! Do you sometimes find that by sewing very slowly and carefully, your project actually comes together much quicker? That’s how it felt with this top.  I’m really pleased with the overall fit – I used size small for most of the top, grading out to medium at the hips.

I  love the fabric and I love the design – its turned out exactly as I pictured it in my mind.



A wearable muslin of Biscayne blouse

13 Sep img_5331-3

I started this project to just test the size of my new Biscayne blouse  pattern from hey June and practice a few new features (invisible button placket and welt pocket), before cutting into some really gorgeous new fabric. But it turned out well enough that I decided to finish it up and stick it in the closet!

Its a cotton lawn fabric  I got on ebay years ago to make a dress for my BFF and the bountiful leftovers have been sitting on the shelf ever since. Biscayne came as a PDF pattern which normally I avoid like the plague, but it was really easy to tape together. Plus I had some lovely Swedish tracing paper which the Village Haberdashery sent me for free with another order.

Luckily there is an online sew-along which I could check out – especially useful when trying new things! I was exceptionally careful in marking my plackets and the very detailed instructions and corresponding illustrations really did make all the difference. As the fabric is such a light color and my interfacing is white, it was quite  easier to transfer the markings .  Finishing the placket gave me a real sense of achievement, its been a while since I challenged myself and tried something new. I’m quite pleased with it, though I had a little trouble tucking the tail of the placket in nicely. And although I struggled to get the folds of the welt pocket to meet perfectly in the middle,  it’s not so noticeable thanks to the design of the fabric.

There are only two niggling things I’m not pleased about with this wearable muslin. The first is my gathering on the front it a bit bunched , so in places it looks like the fabric has been accidentally tucked, rather than gathered. Second is that when I planned to make a muslin, I hadn’t expected to finish it so didnt have any matching thread to hand. The closest I had was a gray – not too bad, but still I’d prefer a closer match.

The pattern suggests choosing your side based on your bust measurements and if you’re in between the sizes, to  size down. So I went with size small. While this fits perfectly over the shoulders, bust and waist, I found it much to small at the hips. So as I sewed the side seam, I graded from a 5/8″ to a 3/8″ seam allowance. On my next version I’ll grade out the the size medium at the hips.

Final verdict: I love this pattern and cant wait to get going on the next one!


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