I did a fair bit of unselfish sewing before Christmas and for some reason when we ticked over into January I couldn't stop. To be fair some of the things I've been making have been long promised as birthday gifts...sorry you had to wait so long for this one Dad! I think I've been getting a lot of satisfaction from sewing things for others recently for two reasons. Firstly it fulfils my desire to keep on sewing when I don't really need a huge amount of clothes of myself anymore. Secondly it means I get to challenge myself by making things that I don't wear; I get to utilise some new skills and construction techniques which is one of the things that really motivates me to sew. I particularly enjoy sewing for the men in my life for that reason!
The idea for this jacket came when we were talking about my sewing a long time back and Dad made a flyaway 'could you make me a proper Harrington with tartan lining?!' comment. He has a real love for the seventies and eighties (particularly when it comes to vinyl records but thats another story...) and yes he's really cool. I think he was half joking but I squirrelled the idea away and set about finding a pattern that could work. I wrapped up the pattern for his birthday with a promise to make it for him so I could properly find out the details and kind of fabric he wanted. He wasn't very specific but showed me a few pictures I could take my lead from.
I had initially purchased Kwik Sew 4017 as it looked like a fairly straightforward mens jacket pattern without too much fuss going on. However on closer inspection of the details on a proper retro Harrington jacket I realised I was going to be better off with a pattern which included a lining and had a ribbed hem and cuffs. Indie pattern designers I beg you to make a pattern for a proper Harrington! The closest I could find was McCalls 7637 (using view A) which is really more of a bomber and I had to play around with it a bit to turn into what I wanted. I used the collar from the Kwik Sew view B to achieve that classic Harrington look. To choose the size of collar to cut I measured around the neckline on the McCalls pattern pieces and subtracted the seam allowances. I then measured the length of the neckline seam on the collar piece, again subtracting the seam allowances and chose the closest size match. Weirdly although I cut the medium in the jacket the size small collar was the perfect fit so I'd say if you are making the Kwik Sew there's probably a generous amount of ease in that one!
The next step was finding the fabric which (aside from a complete lack of sewing time) is what really slowed up progress on this. I wanted to find just the right red tartan and eventually stumbled across it while shopping for work one day in A-One Fabrics on Goldhawk Road. I bought 1.5m as it was wider than listed on the pattern and had about 30cm left over. The shell fabric was much tricker than I expected it to be for a solid black. I figured a cotton would be best but all the twills I found seemed too stiff and anything else too lightweight and drapey. I wanted something soft to suit the relaxed style but with enough structure for an item of outerwear. I finally found just what I was looking for in my local fabric shop of all places! Rolls and Rems in Lewisham had this lovely cotton gaberdine which was soft especially when washed but had a crisp finish. It sewed and pressed beautifully. As always with black telling the right and wrong side apart was tricky but there actually is quite a difference in depth of colour between the two sides and I think two adjoining panels using opposite sides would have been quite obvious. I'm usually quite tight with my fabric buying and try to get away with as little yardage as possible but for some reason I bought 2 metres of this. In the end I was incredibly relieved I did...you'll find out why later!
I inserted the lining slightly differently to the pattern instructions because I was using a different collar. The instructions have you attach the lining by machine along the hem and around the neckline right sides together, before turning it through and slip stitching by hand along the zip. I attached the lining by machine along the hem and up the zip before turning it through, then basted the lining and shell together along the neckline. I treated them as one when I attached the collar so it ended up neatly sandwiched between the outer in and inner collar. The collar I attached following the Kwik Sew instructions which have you slipstitch the bottom edge of the inner collar by hand. The lining is also slipstitched by hand to the ribbing at the cuffs.
I interfaced the outer half of the collar with a mid-weight fusible interfacing and the whole of the pocket welts with a lightweight. The collar stands really nicely and I'm pleased I opted for the slightly heavier weight than usual for a bit more structure in this area. I really love the shape and style of the collar and the finish I have achieved where the zip meets it. These kind of separating zips are surprisingly straightforward to install!
To ensure the lining sat well inside the jacket I added a few hand-stitching steps to the construction inside before I turned it out to the right side. Firstly I stitched the seam allowance of the shell and lining together where it meets the ribbed hem band at the side seams, centre back and where the ribbing turns into cotton at the centre front. This was to help the ribbing sit neatly at the hem; I was worried everything might sag and the lining would slip down. This has definitely helped but I did still wonder about stitching in the ditch all the way along the hem. I also made little swing catches/thread loops to attach the pocket bags to the centre front and to attach the lining to the shell under the arms. Again this is to keep everything sitting nicely in place and swing catches are good for this as they allow a little bit of movement still.
I had some problems with the ribbed cuffs. I had enough black ribbing left over from my black Rigel Bomber for the hem band and this stuff (which I think I got from UK Textiles on Goldhawk Road) is great. I picked up some more in Rolls and Rems for the cuffs. It was inexpensive which should have warned me about the quality. It has awful recovery and as it has to be stretched out quite far to be attached to the slightly blouson sleeve I just ended up with a huge stretched out cuff which wouldn't ping back to wrist size. I wound up buying some ready made acrylic ribbing cuffs from MacCulloch & Wallis which turned out great. These were much smaller than the cuff pattern piece included with the pattern so that makes me question the size of that. The ready made cuffs are not a cheap option but perhaps slightly more resilient and better suited for this purpose than ribbing on the roll.
None of the pocket options on either jacket pattern were quite what I was after and the images that Dad gave me to refer to looked like simple pockets with large welts so I made them up! I would never have even attempted that a couple of years ago. I used the markings of the zip pockets from the McCalls pattern as a guide for placement and size as I knew that would work with the pocket bags that come with the pattern. To construct the welts I roughly followed the instructions from the Papercut Patterns Rigel Bomber which I've made for myself twice (here and here) and love. Before sewing the pocket lining to the front I sandwiched the welt in place between the two so it would be caught within the rectangle of stitching. When I pushed the lining through to the wrong side the welt flipped up into place and covered the opening. I then assembled the pocket bag behind before topstitching the ends of the welts down to secure.
This makes it sound pretty straightforward and it should have been but I actually had a complete nightmare! The first pocket turned out beautifully and I was really proud of myself for figuring it out. But when I was cutting into the corners of the stitched rectangle to create the opening on the second one I managed to slice right through the end and almost a centimetre past where I should have stopped! It was a real nightmare moment! I thought about the ways I could rescue it but with the pocket bags being bright red tartan in contrast to the solid black exterior it was impossible to hide my mistake. Luckily I had way too much fabric in the first place and I could cut another front piece and start again. I was much more careful second time around!
The McCalls pattern is great and really enjoyable to sew. As its unisex I'd actually really like to make myself one, although I'm not sure how successful the sizing would be for ladies proportions. The sleeves in particular set in beautifully. The drafting is lovely and instructions thorough although this is one of those patterns that there are so many variations included that it makes following along with the instructions a little bit confusing as they are so many steps not to do with the view you are making. I'd complicated this for myself even further by doing my own thing with the pockets and collar of course.
Aside from the size of the cuff pattern piece the only issue I encountered with the pattern is that it calls for a 24" separating zip for all sizes. Of course the length of the jacket varies a bit depending on the size you make so the length of zip you require does too. Its not the first time I have encountered this issue with the notions list on the back of the envelope and is incredibly frustrating. Luckily I waited until I had my jacket part assembled and could measure the length. For reference this jacket is a size medium and a 22" zip was spot on. I imagine the recommended 24" fits the large size. My zip is a YKK with metal teeth from Goldhawk Silks & Trimmings in Shepherds Bush but if you're wary about the length I'd recommend getting yours from John Lewis as you can return them. They're a little more expensive but worth it if it turns out to be the wrong size!
I think men's clothing is a little less stressful to sew for others as the fit tends to be more straightforward. As this style is quite relaxed I just went for it, cut the relevant size and sewed it up. A little risky as it could have turned out way too small or big after all that work but I don't live near my Dad so it wasn't easy to get him to try anything on and I didn't want to keep him waiting any longer. I did make sure to measure the pattern pieces before I started to checked there wasn't a ridiculous big four sized amount of ease included but it seemed about right. Thankfully this really fits like a dream! It has just the amount of slouch I hoped for while still looking quite neat and Dad can get a jumper underneath if needs be. The only thing I did note is that the sleeves look a little short despite Dad not having usually long arms, so I might go back in and reduce the seam allowance on the cuff seam at some point to give an extra 1/2". That's if I can pry it off him...he wanted to wear it straight out when I gave it to him despite it being freezing cold here in the UK at the time! I'll have to try and catch him off-guard to get a modelled pic for you at some point.
The requests my Dad put in for the jacket really pushed me to play around with the pattern in ways I probably wouldn't if it was for myself. I love that it took me out of my comfort zone! Nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment as you give a garment a final press but now that I've been sewing for a number of years some more familiar projects and garments don't feel like such a big achievement. Finishing something unique like this was a real high and obviously being able to give one of your favourite people something you made just for them gives an extra buzz!
I've had this coat finished for a while but I had to give myself some space from it before I could blog about it as the task of writing it up seemed almost as epic as the construction! The completion of this has been a long time coming as I have wanted to make a Kelly Anorak ever since Closet Case Patterns released the pattern way back in October 2016. I've ever so slowly been assembling supplies and making tentative progress since then. I knew this was going to be a big and fairly challenging project with lots of new skills to learn so I think with not much time to sew over the last 18 months I developed a bit of a 'big project' block! I never lost interest in making it though and now its finished I'm kicking myself for not making it sooner as it has already been a valuable addition to my wardrobe despite the weather being probably too cold for it.
I've wanted a classic army green anorak/parka style coat for a long time and actually bought the cotton twill for the shell way back in April 2016, before the Kelly was even released. I had in mind the Papercut Patterns Waver Jacket as I'd seen some lovely versions of this being sewn. I changed my mind as all the extra details and hardware on the Kelly lured me in. I found the cotton in Mood Fabrics when I was in NYC on holiday. It is a nice mid weight and isn't waterproof but has a slightly crisp coated feel and has held up well in any rain showers I have been caught in so far. The red plaid underlining is a wool flannel and also came from Mood but was bought online at a much later date. Both fabrics no longer seem to be available as this was SUCH a long time ago! I'd had this fabric pinned for some time but didn't know what to make with it when shortly after the Kelly release Heather Lou posted about how she underlined one of the samples in a checked flannel and I loved how this looked. I thought my combo of army green and red plaid would look really cool and timeless. Also, living in the UK, adding a layer of warmth to a raincoat sounded like a very good idea!
To give me an added motivation to get this made I added it to my 2017 #makenine challenge grid on Instagram, then treated myself to the paper pattern at the spring Knitting & Stitching show. It is my first time using a paper version of a Closet Case pattern and I absolutely loved it. It has a sturdy envelope with beautiful illustrations, a decent instruction booklet with a clear, clean layout and pattern printed on to tissue. I actually got the pattern cut out the weekend following the show (no mean feat when you consider there are 19 pattern pieces many of which needed cutting in interfacing or underlining too!) and was ready to get sewing! But I got crazy busy with work and could only snatch the odd hour of sewing time here and there which didn't seem the right way to get stuck into this kind of project. Before I knew it it was summer and in the heat I couldn't find the motivation to sew a jacket underlined in wool flannel. Then I got busy again and suddenly it was the end of the year and my pattern pieces had been waiting in a little pile under my desk for over 8 months. I took a bit of time off in January to get back on top of life and that solid bit of clear sewing time was what I needed to finally put needle to fabric. I sewed the anorak up over the course of a week with a couple of quick and satisfying knit projects in the middle to break up the intense concentration needed for this.
Shortly after I'd cut my pattern the lining expansion pack was released! I did kick myself a little but now I'm really glad I went with the underlining as the wool flannel makes it so warm and cosy and I love the effect of the bright red plaid used this way. Heather Lou has done a good tutorial on how to underline this pattern if you'd like to do the same; its very straightforward and just involves cutting particular pattern pieces from the underlining fabric as well as the shell and basting them together before construction. She suggests using something more slippery for the sleeve so you can get your arm in and out easily but I stuck with my wool flannel and have had no trouble. You can choose to use both underlining and lining together if you'd like the warmth but the finish of a full lining.
Keeping the project on the back burner for so long did give me plenty of time to get all the notions together, of which there are many! The cost of these can really add up but are worth it as they make the finished coat look so professional. I got my metal zip from John Lewis on Oxford Street as they tend to have a good variety and I like that they are returnable if it turns out to be the wrong length! My snaps and grommets are Prym brand so they work with the tools I own (I love using this tripod tool and a hammer rather than the vario-pliers as it gets them set in really firmly and doesn't need to be used near an edge). I bought them from MacCulloch and Wallis. I also got the olive green drawstring cord and lightweight fusible woven interfacing from them. I chose the lightweight as I wanted to keep this nice, soft and malleable and the thick wool flannel was already adding a fair amount of structure to the shape.
Closet Case Patterns do sell a hardware kit for this pattern which is good value for money and would save you the faff I had of trying to hunt down all the bits and pieces in the same colour. The hardware kit includes cord stoppers for the ends of the drawstring and spring cord locks which secure the tie in place at the waist. I'm just tying it and using knots and tape at the moment so I'd love to get hold of these as I think it would finish the jacket off beautifully. I haven't been able to track any down in the dark pewter finish I chose. Does anyone have any ideas?
I cut the straight size 6 which is pretty much spot on my measurements aside from a tad smaller in the hip. I probably should have graded up a size in that area as I could stand to have a little more room around the bum when its done up but it doesn't overly bother me. It has quite a neat fit in general, especially as the wool flannel I underlined it with is fairly thick. If you're going to underline yours and are between sizes I'd defiantly go for the larger size as there is less ease than you would find in a commercial pattern. I love how snug it is around the shoulders in particular as I don't like feeling overwhelmed by a coat. The sleeve length is spot on and the coat itself feels shorter than I expected which I like as its bit more modern and youthful. If you're tall I'd give the length of the pattern pieces a quick measure and check that against yourself. When I've got the drawstring pulled in tight the coat is just covering my bum.
I really like the slim sleeve and slight shaping in the body which can be exaggerated by pulling the cord tighter. Many people have commented on the lovely shape of the hood and this is defiantly one of may favourite things about the coat. It is a good size and just sits really comfortably on the head. When you've got the coat fully done up with the poppers you feel well covered and like it won't go anywhere and when not worn it holds a nice shape on the back too. I think I like a three-piece hood as much as I like a two-piece sleeve! Which incidentally this pattern has FYI.
I also love the front fastening with the placket that poppers over the zip and guard behind. Its surprisingly straight forward to put together and as well as being really functional against the cold and wet is one of the many features that elevates the garment above looking handmade.
The trickiest element of the construction (aside from topstitching down the assembled sleeve seams which is just plain fiddly) I found to be the gusseted pockets. It was the only time I didn't feel confident in what I was doing when following the instructions. I'm so proud of them now through! I've not sewn anything like these before and found it hard to visualise what I was trying to do. It requires some very accurate stitching. I heavily relied on the sew-along to reassure myself I was doing it right. The sew-along is really thorough and packed with great tutorials to help you with the many aspects of making this that might be new to a lot of people such as how to install grommets (new for me!) and how to install snaps. It only went live on the website in January so its a good job I held off for so long on making it hey?!
The pattern instructions themselves are impeccable. There is A LOT to the construction of this coat and some quite complex aspects to put together with lots of pattern pieces. Although the sewing process felt long I didn't feel confused or lost at all (with the exception of those pockets which are a real mind bender!) and by carefully following each step I achieved beautiful results. With a design this involved there is a lot of potential for things to go wrong but the pattern is so well drafted and thought out that I had no issues with pieces not quite matching up at markings and notches. I can't even begin to imagine the patience Heather Lou must have had when drafting and testing this!
It is a really satisfying project to tackle but it did test my patience purely because it takes so long! When I'm sewing I break everything down into parts to make the project seem more manageable and achievable. For example with a simple tee I'll be thinking 'ok I've just got to sew the shoulder seams, do the neckband, sew side seams, set in the sleeves and hem it'. With this project that didn't really work as firstly there were SO many of those little steps on that list and then each little step took a really long time! I spent a good few hours just on trying to make those pockets perfect. I've learnt to relax my 'perfect' over my years of sewing and focus instead on the enjoyment of making. But with something I'm investing as much time and money into as this I REALLY want it to be as good as it can be and will get the stitch ripper out more than usual.
Hammering in those snaps and eyelets at the end sure was therapeutic. Although it was probably the most stressed I have ever felt about setting in hardware. Once those babies are hammered in there is no getting them out. I really didn't not want to ruin all that work I was so proud of by getting a snap positioned wrong!
The instructions are so good you don't need to be a hugely experienced sewer to take this on but I'd definitely recommend having some confidence in your swing skills before you tackle it. Heather Lou expertly steers you through how the garment comes together so you don't need to fall back on prior knowledge of this but you do need to be able to stitch accurately and handle a number of layers of fabric at the same time. Some elements of this were a lot more straightforward than I imagined but some parts were really fiddly. There's a lot of visible stitching and topstitching which you'll want to be as neat as possible.
I think it will be a long time before I'd want to tackle this time consuming pattern again but I did love making it and it feels like such an accomplishment. There were so many new to me elements of this it was really satisfying to see it come together. I am tempted to make a lightweight fully waterproof version at some point as I've seen some great fabrics recently and Heather Lou has done some brilliant tutorial posts on how to work with waterproof fabrics and seal your seams with tape. Its always these new skills that lure me in to trying out a pattern or project!
For a short month there sure were a crazy amount of new pattern releases in February! I started compiling a list about a week in like usual and I swear this post was as long as it usually is. Thankfully things slowed down a little towards the end of the month or I'd still be writing this well into March! There are some great sew-alongs running at the moment too including some for both coats and lingerie if you want to get stuck into a new skill. Things have been a little quiet on the sew-along front for a while now so I'm really delighted to see they haven't died off. They are such a great resource for home sewers and certainly give me more confidence to try out new and more complex patterns.
New Pattern Companies!
Lingerie and Swimwear sewing addict Emerald Erin released her first PDF patterns! The Tuesday is a classic boyshort and the Jordy is a triangular bralette with a wide band. The non stretch cups on the bralette mean you can et really creative with your fabrics or easily add foam if you wish. I love the lace overlay on her sample.
I'm very tempted to make the first PDF pattern from Studio Costura my first attempt at lingerie sewing! I love that the Hanna Bralette it can be part lined with jersey or stretch mesh for good coverage but the design of the neckline and straps allows you to make the most of a sheer scallop edged lace. It looks supportive and a reasonable challenge for a newbie to lingerie sewing.
Schneidernmeistern released the Adelheid Dress & Top. The main feature of this are the voluminous bishop sleeves with raglan shoulder seams but the slim back yoke with keyhole fastening is also particularly lovely.
New from Making Patterns Fly are two collar patterns COM50S and COM501 which can both be layered over numerous tops, jumpers and jackets. The first is a small shaped piece and the second a dramatic larger style. As suggested with their leather, fur and sequin samples this kind of accessory is a great way to incorporate unusual fabrics into your wardrobe.
Amongst the new releases from Style Arc this February was the Hattie Dress. Designed for woven fabrics the bottom of the bodice can be tied at the front or of the back and so reminds me of the Kielo but with a less dramatic silhouette as the straight knee length skirt feels a little more formal. One of the February freebies, the Eden Knit Dress, was also new and I love the sculptural silhouette of the Teddy Designer Top and Teddy Designer Pant.
The new Sports Coat from The Maker's Atelier is a real style statement. The design is like a dramatically lengthened bomber jacket with it's ribbed collar, snap fastening and option to add ribbed cuffs. Also new from them in February is the Pull On Trouser which again are a chic twist on the sportswear trend.
New from Helen's Closet are the Avery Leggings. I'm usually drawn to more complex designs for my activewear sewing but maybe what my workout wardrobe needs is simple! I love that there is the option to make these super high waisted, there is nothing worse than a waistband that wriggles down during exercise.
Straight Stitch Designs released the Madrona Skirt which is a wrap style that can be made up in any kind of drapey woven or knit fabric. A pretty flippy printed skirt is on my summer sewing list so I've added this to my potential pattern choices.
New from Designer Stitch is the Synthia Ruffled Top. This clever sleeveless design has a ruffle collar which turns into a waterfall frill around the armhole. It would be really beautiful made up in a silk chiffon with rolled hems to emphasise the frill. They also released the Indu Wrap Pants which is their first pattern for knits.
CocoWawa Crafts released the Cinnamon Trousers which are a cropped pair of semi tailored trousers with a mid rise. You can keep them clean and simple or add pleats or ruffles to the hem and pocket edges. What I really love is the option to choose between the loose fit or close fit pattern depending on your proportions and style preferences.
The Bryce Cargo Pants are the latest release from Hey June Handmade. A slim fitting traditional cargo pant for ladies these feature traditional pleated pockets and darts at the knee for extra shape.
The new Katherine Dress from Rochad Studio features a draped skirt which twists at the waist to tie in a belt; one of those designs which I really want to make so I can check out the construction! This knit style also has centre front bust darts and the option for fluted or long sleeves.
Straight on my pattern wish-list is the new Nikko Top & Dress from True Bias. A mock turtle neck style with four views for sleeved or sleeveless tops or dresses with long side vents. Yet another effortlessly wearable yet modern and stylish design from Kelli. She also launched the paper version of her popular Ogden Cami.
Colette Patterns released the Myrna Dress which is available in PDF format only. This design definitely harks back to their vintage roots as the kimono sleeved bodice that gathers over the bust into a wide shaped waistband has clear 1930s/40s tea dress vibe.
The Claudia Dress is the latest release from Tessuti and has got me wishing even harder for the change of seasons. This is basically my ideal summer dress featuring my favourite square cut strappy neckline and straight cut with side vents keeping you cool, comfortable and chic.
Sarah Kirsten released the Willow Bag Set which includes pattens for a duffel and two smaller zipped pouches all of which are fully lined. I've only just discovered her patterns and am bit in love! I like how she has samples made up in plain white cottons so you can really see the style lines.
The Scoop Pinafore is new from Sew Different; a slightly more grown up version of a classic pinafore dress designed to be worn over a top. It has a classic square neckline with tulip shape skirt and big scooped sides which cleverly conceal pockets.
The new Greco Tee from Ensemble Patterns is free for newsletter subscribers! Its a slouchy style with three sleeve options and three hem styles to choose from. I've been thinking that I need to work on adding some t-shirts of various styles to my wardrobe so this could be just the ticket.
Pier and Palace released their third pattern; the Hove Hoodie Dress. It features all the details of a classic hoodie design but is lengthened and form fitting for a more flattering and feminine take on the style.
Amongst the new releases from Kommatia Patterns this month is Flash, a cropped sweatshirt with ribbed trim and a wide neckline which slides off the shoulders. They also released Utopia, a super cool harem style pant with drawstring waist and Carafa which is a pencil skirt with suspenders; a lovely grown up twist on the dungaree trend.
DG Patterns released the Maureen Top and Dress and if you're a fan of an interesting sleeve you're going to love this one! Designed for knits, along with the double ruffle option mid way up the forearm you can choose to add elbow patches or a patch pocket to the skirt. Also released was the Reno Dress, a wrap style for woven with a dolman sleeve and petal hem and the Moto Leggings.
Sew Over It's PDF release for February was the Clara Blouse. A chic design with lovely details including deep cuffs, a pleated neckline and stepped hem. Perfect for all kinds of occasions when made up in different fabrics.
New from Itch to Stitch is the Visby Henley & Top. The base pattern is a classic henley but there are options to add a hood, skip the placket or add on a bottom band.
The Avid Seamstress released two new patterns; the adult version of The Gathered Dress and The Coat. The slim silhouette of the coat is inspired by classic tailoring yet promises to be an easy make for your first coat and the dropped shoulder gives it a modern twist.
The Piccadilly Pyjamas are the latest release from Nina Lee London. I love the little unique details on these such as the soft open mandarin collar and curved hems on both the top and bottoms, perfect for showcasing a bit of piping.
Schnittchen released two new patterns in their plus size range (sizes 48-56). The Claire Tunic has sloped shoulders and a two piece sleeve with the option to add a belt and loops. The Amy Parka is a classic casual jacket that has a hood and full lining.
The Joy Jacket is new from Chalk and Notch. Its a classic fully lined lightweight jacket with the option to add a hood. It would really suit being made up in a drapey tencel or rayon twill or you could challenge yourself to make a fully waterproof version.
I don't usually include children's pattern releases but I do tend to include Pauline Alice and her new Mini Collection is too cute to resist! It includes patterns to make a jacket, shorts and dungarees which all work together as an outfit or separately. They fit ages 3-36 months.
It has been quite a month for lingerie sewing pattern releases. Madalynne launched her next pattern collaboration with Simplicity (the 8624) and Barrett; a free PDF pattern download for a bralette. Its a sporty, pull on style with a triangular opening at the centre front. The 8624 includes a high necked bra with underwire and foam cups and a simple low-rise pant which makes use of scalloped lace.
Til The Sun Goes Down have released two new patterns alongside their new collection of Spring/Summer print fabrics. The Hepburn Shirtwaister is a beautiful 1940s/50s inspired shirtdress with two collar styles and three sleeve options including a bracelet length with cuff. The interchangeable pattern pieces of the Revere Blouse mean you can go for more of a 1940s style with gathered sleeve head, revere collar and longer length or button the boxy shorter length with side splits up the next for a 1950s/60s look.
Pattern updates and expansions
Friday Pattern Company updated their Raglan Blouse pattern which was released last summer. The remastered PDF version is longer than the original and will be available in print soon.
If you're really getting your teeth into coat making at the moment you might also be interested in taking a look at the sew-along for the recently released Yates Coat over on the Grainline Studio blog.
Madalynne has put together a three part blog series to guide you through sewing her latest lingerie design for Simplicity; the 8624. There's sure to be some great lingerie and lace sewing tips included as she guides you through sewing this high necked style. The pattern includes a high necked bra with underwire and foam cups and a simple low-rise pant which makes use of scalloped lace.
Maria from Maria Denmark and Nanna from How To Do Fashion launched the downloadable Sewing Life magazine. The first issue including PDF pattern is free when you sign up to the newsletter! This issue's pattern is an oversized dress with kimono sleeves for woven or knit fabrics and the issue includes four ways to sew up and hack the pattern. The articles in the issue are all relevant to those four styles; love that concept.
The next pattern in the Deer & Doe collection to be released in PDF format is the
Today I would like to introduce the winner of the award for most impossible top to photograph! Neither the rich forest green colour or beautiful back detail of this sweater was feeling very cooperative when it came to being captured on camera but I persisted and hopefully you will get the gist of how beautiful this garment is! If there is one thing I love making (and in turn wearing) its comfortable everyday clothing with a twist and the Sirius top from I Am Patterns totally nails that for me. I also love challenging myself and trying something new with my sewing and the pleated section in the centre back which runs into a placket at the top was certainly that.
I've had my eye on Sirius since it was released a while back and when I met Marie-Emmeline in London in January she'd brought a selection of her patterns with her to very generously give out as gifts so I pounced on that design right away! She was actually sporting one herself that day. There are many things to love about the design including the shallow stand collar and elbow darts but the real draw is the surprise of the pleated section in the back. I love that this feature has movement to it and allows you to play around with combining different textures and colours. When looking at the fabric suggestions for this pleated panel I was really taken with the idea of using lace in combination with a solid. I was just about to place another order with The Fabric Store and remembered that I always ooh and ahhh over their laces but never find a reason to buy them; I finally had an excuse to try one out!
I chose this Hunter Green Italian Floral Lace as it looked like it would be a good match with the Forest Green Merino Jersey which I've had my eye on for a while (yes my merino addiction is still going strong! I'm currently trying to resist this incredible floral merino blend!) Obviously colour matching online is nigh on impossible as fabrics are never quite the colour they look on screen but a bit of experience with the accuracy of the way TFS represent their fabrics online gave me some confidence and I was delighted with how well they work together when it arrived. The jersey is their standard weight 195gsm and as you'll see later on is actually probably a little fine for this style which meant I had to make a few changes. Jerseys of the appropriate weight for sweaters are recommended as are woven wools. I think it would be lovely made up in a lightweight boiled wool.
I chose the lace as I thought something with quite a dense design would be better to hold the pleats than a more delicate version. This once is soft but with some thickness to it and the flowers are edged with a little ridge in a darker green which makes for a bold look. The ridge gives the look of a corded lace but it is finer than that. The blend of cotton and nylon means it holds a nice crisp pleat but it still has a softness so it moves well. I think it would make an incredible fitted party dress! I've had a piece of really fine cream silk lace in my stash for years which I think would be great combined with a soft grey marl and a wonderful contemporary use for a fabric which despite being stunningly beautiful felt a little too girly to fit with the rest of my wardrobe.
Going by the measurement chart I was between the 38 and 40 so cut the larger to be on the safe side. I ended up taking a whopping 1 1/4" on the double out of each side seam and continuing that alteration all the way down the sleeve. I like slim sleeves anyway but the whole thing was a bit of a tent. This merino jersey is quite fine so in something thicker with more structure I think the extra ease would have worked and I can see that my top looks quite different to the sample. If I make it again I'll definitely go down a size as this is still a little wide on the shoulder and then repeat the alteration under the arm and side seam but to a smaller extent. It made a huge difference on this one and I'm really happy with the fit now.
Attempting to recreate the side on sample shot showing the swing of the back pleating and failing!
As my merino was on the lightweight side I added a fine fusible knit interfacing to both the collar and collar lining piece to give it a bit more structure and also added a small piece under the plackets to give the area around the snaps an extra bit of strength. I really like the shallow depth of the collar and the way it sits out from the neck. It definitely would have collapsed in on itself without the interfacing but you wouldn't need it for a more stable or thicker knit like ponte or sweat-shirting. I used my same merino to line the collar but the pattern does recommend using something else if your fabric is thicker so it doesn't become to bulky. I also added twill tape to the shoulder seams to prevent them stretching out over time.
The pattern calls for a rolled hem on the pleated centre back piece but I thought this might get a little messy with this fairly open lace so I used a really thin and soft poly binding from my stash to neaten this edge. I did this before pleating the piece and overlocked the other raw edges too as I thought this would be quite fiddly to do afterwards. The pleating actually didn't take too long once I got into the swing of it but I think a little extra guidance in terms of whether to start your pleating right or wrong sides together would have been useful. I got into quite a pickle when inserting this piece into the back and assembling the placket and I feel like it may have been to do with my pleats starting the wrong way. I'm still not sure if I've done it right now but I got it to work and love the effect. After spending some time trying to figure it out I discovered this great photo tutorial for the pattern on the I Am Patterns site. My pleating had definitely not ended up looking like that and I ended up putting in an extra little pleat to get it to sit right! I definitely recommend following the photo tutorial if you make this. The instructions and tutorial make it sound and look quite straightforward so perhaps I made a small error somewhere along the way and when I try it again it would all come together just fine. I chose to change the line of stitching securing the top of the pleated piece at the bottom of the placket to a square so the raw top edge was fully enclosed. I think assembling the placket in woven fabrics might be a lot more straightforward with a woven or less stretchy knit.
With regards to the pleating, it occurred to me while I was sewing that washing this top might be a bit problematic as all the pleats would come out. I couldn't face pressing them back in every time but didn't want to end up with a dry clean only top! As my lace hand some texture and thickness to it already I decided to topstitching very close to the edges of my pleats to both emphasise and in a way set them. I'm really pleased with the effect and have washed the top a couple of times now. The pleats do need a press but the stitching gives you a quick and simple guideline to follow and helps everything fall into place. This obviously wouldn't look great on a finer fabric like a chiffon, georgette or silk lace so you could buy a pre-pleated fabric but then may have to alter the construction slightly to suit the width of your pleats or if you're based in the UK you could try using Ciment Pleating to heat set your pleats. I've used them a lot for work and they do all kinds of styles of pleating and turn things around really quickly. They advise dry-cleaning when natural fibres are pleated but man-mades like polyester can be washed on a low temperature as they take the pleating really well.
The pattern is designed for woven as well as knit fabrics and most of the construction techniques seem more relevant to wovens and I think it would perhaps make for a slightly easier sew. For example the hem is turned up twice which I'd do with a woven but usually just once for a knit. The elbow darts are an absolutely gorgeous touch but I think perhaps a little more effective in a woven fabric and I would have thought bust darts would be unnecessary for a knit pattern but they do actually give a nice shape to the way this hangs on the body. If your knit has a good amount of stretch like my merino jersey you could definitely get away without a functioning placket and just sew it closed right up to the top on the collar. I can pull this on and off easily without making use of the snaps. I'd like to try a woven version using perhaps a georgette or something a bit less structure and bulky than this lace in the back section as I think that would make for a totally different effect. What are your thoughts on patterns that are designed to work with both knit and woven fabrics? Do you think it works or a pattern will always be better suited to one or the other?
Despite the slightly rocky construction process I really enjoyed sewing this up and have been getting a lot of wear out of it. This is actually another of the projects on my #2018makenine; I've definitely made better choices for my wardrobe this year! It is also another adventure in my mission to try some different indie designers this year and I'll definitely be returning to I Am. I love their unique yet wearable twists on everyday classic styles. I know the Cassiopée is popular so perhaps that will be next. I'll certainly be making Sirius again as I'd love to see how differently it sews up in a woven and there is a lot of potential for playing around with different fabric combinations to make the most of that unusual back feature. But mainly I want to make it again to see if I can do a better job next time! Ever the perfectionist.
Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway to win a copy of the Half Moon Atelier Anegada Top and a lovely length of bamboo jersey from Offset Warehouse to make it. You left me some really great stories and tips about ethical sewing and I've been checking out all the fabric suppliers you've recommended. Its great to hear that ethical sewing is at the forefront of so many minds and often one of the main drives behind sewing your own clothes. The giveaway has now closed and selected by random number generator the lucky winner is...Natalie! Congratulations! I hope you enjoy sewing and wearing your own Anegada Top. I'll be in touch shortly via email to arrange delivery of your prize.
One of my sewing goals for 2018 is to try out some new independent sewing pattern companies. Its very easy when you find a company you get along with, both in terms of fit and instructions, to stick with them. When you've got limited sewing time you don't want to risk wasting any of it on a project which might not turn out so well. Or have to spend precious hours fiddling with fit and new construction methods when you can fall back on the familiar, and the security of sizing you already have confidence in. But I'm keen to push my skills this year and try some new techniques and styles. The first of these ventures into the unknown is the Boat Neck Agenda Top from Halfmoon Atelier which Meghann very kindly sent me a copy of to review.
I have actually tried out a Halfmoon pattern previously (the Ballet Top Delphy) but I made a terrible fabric choice and never shared it. I sewed it up when I was really stressed and overwhelmed by work last year and decided squeezing in a sewing project would make me feel better. Of course trying to tackle a new pattern, in limited time and with a fabric that frayed horrendously pretty much as soon as you looked at it didn't turn out so well. Now I'm in a much better headspace and have some more leisurely sewing time on my hands it was time to try another Halfmoon Atelier pattern and I'm happy to report a much more enjoyable sewing experience and a successful outcome. Perhaps it is time to give Delphy another go!
I think this design would work in a wide variety of knit fabrics and each would give you quite a different outcome. My top is made up in this beautiful bamboo jersey from which is also available in two further colour-ways. Offset Warehouse are a social business that stock eco fabrics and haberdashery. They focus on fairly sourcing products from all over the globe that benefit the planet and the people who make and handle them. I've been aware of Offset for a little while now but this is actually the first time I have sewn with any of their fabrics. For some reason I had presumed that as sourcing ethically produced fabrics must be really tricky their handpicked range would be quite limited but after checking out the website I'm kind of blown away by the variety. In particular the stretch and sportswear sections as I've always found it difficult to hunt down good quality knits in wearable contemporary prints. I'm absolutely delighted to discover this new treasure trove and had a really hard time whittling down a choice. I'm very taken with their organic cotton jersey stripes in particular.
Halfmoon Atelier and Offset Warehouse are a perfect pairing with their focus on sustainable fashion. Meghann's ethos is to live, design and sew simply, creating well made wardrobes of foundation pieces to help us in that. I've been seeing a lot on social media lately about our community culling their wardrobes and trying to make more careful choices in their sewing so I'm sure this will resonate with a lot of you! If sustainable sewing and working with fair trade fabrics is of interest to you Meghann has a great list of ethical fabric suppliers on her site. She's really opened my eyes to how achievable making your wardrobe and sewing more ethically friendly can be.
I chose to make view A of the pattern with the cowl neck and cuff & hem bands as I thought the cowl would best suit the drape of my jersey. Bamboo is quite a slinky, slippery knit with a bit of weight to it so won't work for a style which needs structure or volume; it will just collapse in on itself. I think the best way to describe it is moving like water! I have generally found bamboo jersey to be better suited to a slouchy style like this than a close fitting top as it can be quite clingy. I used it to make an Agnes Top a couple of years back and felt quite self conscious in that because it pings back on itself so tightly. That sounds kind of negative but actually that shows the excellent recovery it has! It is silky smooth to the touch and the natural fibres make it breathable so is just lovely to wear. I'm hoping to use my leftovers for the exterior layer of a second Pneuma Tank as I think the weight and drape is perfect for that.
I cut a size 4 which was pretty much spot on my measurements although I was concerned about there being what seemed like a huge amount of ease around the waist. I didn't want to feel like I had too much fabric around my middle or to look too boxy. In actual fact its the ideal width in this area. I could probably do with a fraction more room around the bust (my clingy fabric choice probably isn't helping here) but it is just the right amount of snug around the hip. If you're not cutting your bands on the bias and are making one of the smaller sizes you could definitely get this out of one metre of 150cm wide fabric. If cutting on the bias I'd recommend giving yourself 1.25m as that waistband pattern piece is quite large. View B you could get out of 1m no matter what you decide to do with the neckband.
Talking about cutting bands on the bias in a jersey might be confusing you there and I must admit I was a little confused when I first spotted that on the pattern pieces. But it means that you can get away with using something like a sweat-shirting which doesn't have as much stretch as you might need around the hip. The pattern suggests cutting your neck, hem and cuff bands across the grain if your fabric has more than 50% stretch and on the bias if less than. I love this attention to detail and proof that real thought has gone into the pattern. The bamboo jersey is incredibly stretchy but I opted to cut my pieces on the bias anyway as I liked the idea of the dash design being on the cross in these areas to contrast with the main body. Kind of like Meghann has in her striped samples.
Another part of the instructions which baffled me at first was the finishing of the cowl neck. You turn the raw edge over twice towards the right side of the fabric and only secure it in place at the ends where it runs into the armhole. The instructions say that the fabric will naturally roll over. I'm sure in some fabrics this would happen, particularly something a little softer like a cotton jersey or terry but my bamboo did not naturally want to behave. That great recovery and 'ping back' was not working in my favour! It also probably didn't help that I finished the raw edge on the overlocker as suggested in the instructions as this can sometimes prevent edges from curling; usually a good thing! I wasn't keen on my overlocking showing which it was as the jersey didn't want to roll right over so ended up topstitching the edge down. It looks like a binding now and I made a bit of a feature out of it by using a pink thread that matches the dashes in the fabric. If making this view I would recommend giving some thought to what the reverse of your fabric looks like as it will show and also don't cut the centre back neckline notch as that is only required for view B and might be visible in the cowl version.
There was a lot I liked about the instructions for this pattern. The clear layout makes it really easy to follow and they are packed with tips and detailed construction information. A beginner could quite confidently tackle this pattern I would imagine as there is plenty of advice for working with knit fabrics. What I really liked was the brief summary instructions at the back of the booklet which break the construction down in quick bullet points so if you're a more experienced sewer or it is your second time making the pattern you can just refer to that. The fact that indie sewing pattern instructions tend to include such a wealth of information now is fantastic as they are so accessible for all skill levels. But the length of the instructions can be a little overwhelming and unnecessary if you know your way around a knit top so I love having the key points laid out on one page to keep you on track and steer you through the more unusual aspects.
I tend to sew with PDFs more often than not these days, partly because some of the patterns I want to make (like this one!) are only available in that format. After assembling my fair share of pattern downloads I can safely say that Meghann has got it spot on with making that part as straight forward as possible without too much wastage. It was easy to distinguish your size from the rest as the lines are printed in different colours. But if you prefer to print black and white (colour printing can be so costly!) the lines are still different variations of dashes in the usual manner.
I'll be honest and say that when I first checked out the pattern I wasn't sure how well it fitted with my everyday style and what else was in my wardrobe so I made my fabric choice thinking that it would actually be great for yoga. But now I've tried it I quite like the shape and am really considering making a couple more in soft, matte cottons for day to day. I think it looks great with slim jeans but could also be lovely tucked into one of my high waisted floaty viscose skirts in the summer. A french terry with a Breton stripe would be delicious and seeing the texture on the reverse of the fabric roll to the outside around the neckline would be a lovely detail. I also think going up a size or even two and using a snuggly sweat-shirting would be a great look. The versatility of this style has taken me by surprise and I'm really glad I stepped out of my style comfort zone! As for this version I've been wearing it a lot for yoga as intended and it is great for that kind of exercise. I don't like to wear anything too tight fitting on my top half for yoga and the amount of ease in the body is spot on. The wide waistband is just tight enough around the hips that it sits in place no matter what shape I twist myself into and the slimmer fit of the sleeves also feels nice and secure.
If you fancy making one of these tops yourself I've got good news as Halfmoon Atelier and Offset Warehouse have teamed up to offer you whopper of a giveaway! You can make my exact same top as the winner of the giveaway will receive a copy of the PDF pattern and also 1.5m of the same bamboo jersey as I have used. To enter all you need to do is leave a comment on this post by midnight GMT on Thursday 22nd February and if you like tell me about your experiences with ethical sewing. I'd love to discover some more suppliers and pattern companies with this mindset. The giveaway is open to UK entries only and as always please make sure to leave your email address in the comment if it is not easily accessible through your profile so I can contact the winner and arrange delivery of your sewing goodies! Big thanks to both Halfmoon Atelier and Offset Warehouse for so generously offering up this giveaway and giving me the opportunity to try out something new. Good luck!
I've recently returned from a short break in Paris during which I mentioned on Instagram that I had spent some time exploring fabric and sewing shops around the city. This prompted quite a few questions so I thought I'd do a little round up here on the blog for anyone who is planning a visit in the near future to refer back to. Paris is a great place for fabric shopping and has a wide variety of fabrics and price points. I did two little spouts of shopping; a morning in the Marais/Bastille part of town and a few hours up in Montmartre. Both were very different experiences and offered up a different kind of treat.
Le Marais & Bastille On the Friday morning I hit the streets of Paris with a map in hand on which I had plotted a number of independent sewing shops. I'd collated this information by combing through whatever blog posts I could find about fabric shopping in the French capital. I found these posts from Katie, Tilly and Christine for Seamwork Magazine particularly useful. The shops are fairly spread out but walking between each one down the higgledy piggledy backstreets was such a lovely way to see and explore a different side to Paris. I found many other shops and eateries along the way to pop in to as well as just soaking up the beautiful architecture. The shops themselves make for such a pleasant shopping experience; well laid out and organised and with helpful staff who all spoke reasonably good English. Almost every shop sold all kinds of crafting equipment and supplies and many stocked a healthy selection of yarn and knitting paraphernalia as well as fabric, trims, notions and patterns. One of the things I was really struck by was how many of these stores had a wide range of indie patterns and not just the French companies. These shops reminded me of places like Sew Over It, Ray Stitch and the Village Haberdashery in London.
Maison Cousu - 25 Boulevard Voltaire 75011First stop of the day was the beautiful Maison Cousu. This spacious shop stocked a nicely curated selection of crafting supplies including some kits. The left hand side of the shop focused on knitting whilst the right housed a good amount of top quality fabrics including cottons, knits, home furnishing and some more unusual bolts. As well as the fabric they had a great choice of buttons and other notions. Everything you need to get started with a project. In the image above you can see their selection of indie patterns, all from French companies and including some children's designs. Downstairs is their Atelier Couture where they run regular sewing classes.
Entrée en Fournisseurs - 8 Rue des Francs Bourgeois 75003Next I wandered down to Entrée en Fournissuers which I had a little trouble finding as it is tucked away in a gorgeous courtyard off of Rue de Francs Bourgeois. This is a real gem of a shop kitted out with old fashioned haberdashery cabinets and racks. The majority of the shop is filled with trimmings and buttons (and what a stunning selection of them!) but there is a small selection of fabrics at the back (mainly Liberty print cottons) and a countertop of indie sewing patterns. While you're nearby make sure to take a wander through the Place de Voges, Paris' oldest square.
Anna Ka Bazaar - 16 Rue Keller 75011You may well have heard of the third stop on the list from other sewists visiting Paris. Anna Ka Bazaar is the most well known stockist of the popular Atelier Brunette fabric line and whilst I saw a few bolts in most of the other shops this day there was definitely the widest choice here. This was a lovely little space with a surprisingly large selection of fabrics and there was a sale on which I somehow managed to resist! I was particularly taken with the wool coatings. Along one wall was a large unit housing sewing notions and an impressive selection of french indie patterns including a couple of companies new to me. There were also a number of crafty supplies, books and kits on the left as you came in the door.
Mercerie de Charonne - 69 Rue de Charonne 75011I hadn't put Mercerie de Charonne on my list of places to get to as I wasn't particularly looking for haberdashery and from previous reports it sounded quite small. I came across it quite by accident on the way to the next stop though and am really pleased I stopped by as it is one of those real treasure troves of a trimmings shop; packed to the rafters with everything you might need. There was also a wide ranging collection of sewing and craft books towards the back of this dinky little space.
Brin de Cousette - 2 Rue Richard Lenoir 75011Continuing along Rue de Charonne you'll soon come across Brin de Cousette which is a lovely welcoming space with a carefully curated selection of fabrics, yarn and patterns. In fact out of all the places I visited this was the best stockist of patterns; stocking designs from the majority of the french companies and many international brands like Sewaholic, Papercut, Colette, Named and more. Around half the shop is a teaching space and there was a knitting class going on during my visit.
Malhia Kent - 19 Avenue Daumesnil 75012After a quick bite to eat near Bastille I headed along Avenue Daumesnil, otherwise known as the Viaduc des Arts. The viaduct running along the length of this road used to carry a railway in the 19th century and now is home to the Promendade Plantée; an elevated park which is well worth a wander if you have the time. The arches of the viaduct are now home to many craft shops and workshops including Malhia Kent which is entirely unlike any of the other fabric shops I visited on my trip. They are weavers of high end fabrics for RTW, couture and furnishing and in this store sell off the roll at €30/m or coupons of varying lengths at €10/m. The weaving is incredibly creative and colourful. Fabrics to really treasure. The sizeable scraps in baskets by the counter are sold off at €1 a piece.
La Droguerie - 9-11 Rue du Jour 75001From here I spent a bit of time wandering around the Jardin des Plantes before heading back up towards the Pompidou where I was staying. Before calling it a day I wanted to check out two more places. First up, tucked away behind Église Saint Eustache is La Droguerie. I was blown away by how beautiful this shop was with all its old fashioned wooden fittings and notions and beads lined up in jars. It is surprisingly large and mainly stocked with top quality yarn, beads and buttons but there was a nice selection of natural fibres fabrics at the back of the store.
Mokuba - 18 Rue Montmartre 75001I accidentally stumbled across Mokuba on the way to my final stop of the day. Mokuba are manufacturers of ribbon who I have used frequently for work so I was delighted to happen upon their real life shop. The kind of ribbon they make gives a whole new meaning to the word ribbon which pleated, embroidered, braided and lace designs in all the colours of the rainbow. Through the back of the shop there was another small shop across the courtyard stocking more ribbon and other decorative bits and pieces like beads.
Lil Weasel - 1-4 Passage du Grand Cerf 75002 Lastly I just about made it in time to Lil Weasel who have a gorgeous location in one of Paris' many covered arcades. They have two shops across from one another; the smaller of the two stocking yarn and knitting patterns and the larger focusing on sewing and fabric. There was a much wider variety of fabric here than I expected and I had a hard time walking away from a mustard brocade, a beautifully soft denim and a quilted sweat-shirting. They had a large range of Liberty prints and the second biggest selection of Atelier Brunette I saw.
Montmartre This area is more purely fabric based although there are a couple of lovely haberdasheries in amongst the fabric shops. The majority of the shops are along the Rue D'Orsel, Rue Livingstone and around the corner as it turns into Place Saint-Pierre at the base of the Sacré-Coeur. It felt like the Goldhawk Road of Paris to me but with some much bigger shops! They were much more chaotic than the shops I'd been in the previous day and often packed with rolls of fabric and coupons. Many of the shops in this area sell fabric in coupons which are 3 metre lengths at often discounted prices. This can make fabric shopping in another language a little easier as they are often labelled up and ready to buy so you don't have to ask for a specific quantity to be cut.
Marche Saint-Pierre (Dreyfuss) - 2 Rue Charles Nodier 75018My first stop was of course the famous Marche Saint Pierre which is basically a department store of fabric. Spread across five huge floors they stock practically every fabric type known to man! From what I'd heard I was expecting to be loaded with delights when I left but didn't actually find anything I couldn't resist. Perhaps I was a little overwhlemed! I was surprised by the amount of furnishing fabrics and found the 2nd floor the best for dressmaking. The first floor had some bargains but a lot of it seemed quite low in quality with a lot of polyester. I felt similarly about the small coupon branch directly across the street; there were bargains to be had but I struggled to find anything I wanted. I did like how the tables were labelled clearly with the price and fabric content.
Tissus Reine - 3-5 Place Saint Pierre 75018Next door is the similarly sized Tissus Reine. I much preferred this store as it felt a little more spacious and welcoming organised and the fabric seemed of better quality. I found some lovely viscose and jersey prints in particular. This was also the only place in Paris that I came across to buy big four patterns from their pattern department upstairs!
Sacrés Coupons - 3 Rue Pierre Ricard 75018My favourite shop in this district was a tip off from Marie-Emmeline at I Am Patterns (who I am still so disappointed that I didn't get to meet up with after a technology mix up!). Sacrés Coupons is a little further down the road and has two stores next to each other; the first and smaller shop has leather and knit fabrics and the second everything else! The fabrics in here are all end of roll and you can score some designer gems! Almost everything is sold in a coupon of around three metres with the exception of some rolls at the back of the store. I really liked that each coupon was clearly labelled with length, width, price and fabric content. Some also have an additional sale label! There were some truly beautiful silks, wools and laces.
There are many, many other smaller stores along this street and a couple of the adjoining ones and I by no means ventured in to them all but here's a quick run down of those I did pop my head into. I found Frou Frou (pictured above) to be better for quilting, stocking its own range of fat quarters and sewing notions and laid out more like the independent shops from further into the centre of the city. Moline had a nice selection of fabrics mainly on the roll but a large percentage of the shop was devoted to furnishing fabric. If you're after African Wax Prints I've heard very good things about Toto, although I didn't pay a visit myself. To buy haberdashery in the area the Mercerie Saint Pierre (beind the Marche) looked good. A shop selling mainly coupons that I particularly enjoyed is one of the first you encounter on the way from the metro; Paris Tissus. Although slightly chaotic feeling the stock is well organised and labelled and there was a good variety of garment appropriate fabric.
As the shops are so busy in this area (I was there on a Saturday afternoon so probably saw it at its busiest) the staff are less available to assist than in the smaller shops elsewhere in the city. Most shops I ventured into had fabric clearly labelled with price as well as fabric content but it may help you to know some fabric names in French! Here's a brief run down of some of the most common terms:
fabric - tissu
mercerie - haberdashery
cotton - coton
wool - laine
silk - soie
polyester - polyester
viscose - viscose
linen - lin
denim - denim/jean
leather - cuir
suede - daim
acrylic - acrylique sale - soldes (very important!)
If you're looking to buy a lot of fabric and are on the hunt for bargains I would hit the streets up by the Sacré-Coeur. If you're after a more peaceful experience and are happy to browse and perhaps treat yourself to a couple of irresistible items I would highly recommend taking your time to explore the smaller shops in other areas in the city. Either way there's no chance you'll be leaving empty handed!
So what DID I leave with you may ask...well I was fairly restrained as I wasn't in need of much and don't like to have a large stash of fabric waiting to be used. I bought a DP Studio pattern from Maison Cousu that I was excited to find in person in paper format. I treated myself to a length of gorgeous lace trim from Entrée des Fournisseurs which I am hoping to use on the cuffs and hem of a simple black top. Up in Montmartre I found just the fabric I was looking for to make a Berlin Skirt in Sacre Coupons. It is a lovely crisp cotton in Khaki green with a soft almost brushed finish on the right side. And my final purchase on the way back to the metro was a beautiful coupon of chambray in Paris Tissus. I'm not sure if it is viscose or tencel but it has the most beautiful drape and three metres is be plenty for a summer dress or jumpsuit.
Whenever I may return to Paris I'll certainly be making a second visit to most of these stores and will come prepared with a shopping list and some money saved up so I can really make the most of it next time. Do any of you have any other Parisian favourites that I missed? I'd love to discover some more next time!
This is another project that has shot straight to the front of my blogging queue ahead of the intended schedule because I'm so happy with it! So happy in fact I wore it to two parties on the trot last weekend. You can't beat an interesting dress in one of your favourite colours, which you feel great in and also feels as comfortable as your pyjamas because its just knit fabric wrapped around your body. Also this has the added bonus of being toasty warm while you wait for the train there as its made in merino!
I first made the Kielo Wrap Dress from Named a couple of years back and whilst I loved it the fabric didn't hold up so well and it didn't get a whole lot of wear. Every time I see one someone else has made in my feed or on Instagram though it makes another little leap up my sewing queue and I've fully intended on making a couple of other iterations since I finished the first. Named released a sleeve expansion pack for the dress around the same time which sold me on whether the design could work for winter too. Rumana has made some amazing sleeved versions of this pattern. It is a really great design, simple yet clever and unique, which Named seem to do best. It is fun and straightforward to assemble with only pattern pieces for the front and back and the ties to contend with plus sleeves and binding if you opt for that. The dress can wrap at the front or back which gives two quite distinctively different shapes and looks; I love that if you're feeling self conscious about your tummy you can conceal it with a front tie, or if on another day you're not loving your butt you can tie it at the back for a bit of extra coverage! Or if you're feeling particularly wild you can go full on flying squirrel...
I knew I wanted a length of merino in a knock out colour to be part of the last order of my run of few months as a brand ambassador for The Fabric Store and originally opted for a Prussian Blue which I was gutted to discover they didn't have enough stock of. But it must have been meant to be as I am delighted with what I ended up choosing instead which is this Fucshia in their standard weight single jersey. Despite the name this isn't actually too hot of a pink which I was relieved about! It has a gorgeous rich and warm tone which has a real vibrancy to it without being shocking. You definitely can't beat natural fibres like wool and silk for taking a real bold colour of dye.
I thought the fabric would either make a great winter wrap dress or an amazing dramatic long cardigan for spring and presumed the obvious choice would come to me when the fabric arrived. But I loved it so much I wanted both and had to resort to an Instagram poll to help me! It was a close run contest but wrap dress won with 55% of the vote and I had an excuse to tick another project off my #2018makenine challenge grid. The dress was absolutely the right choice as I think the jersey would have been a bit flimsy for the kind of cardigan I was after but is a perfect match for the Kielo. Its light enough not to make the wrap too bulky (there are quite a lot of layers going on once you get tied up) but has enough body and weight to hold a nice shape in the folds and drape of the skirt. I'm now looking for something a bit more weighty but in an equally bold and vibrant colour to make my dream maxi cardigan. I'm thinking maybe one of these lovely lightweight boiled wools from Dragonfly Fabrics. I've seen some samples of them and they have a lovely soft drape and more movement than a standard boiled wool.
The pattern is intended for fabrics with some element of stretch in them but as numerous people have I made up my first version in a woven which totally works. However, making it in a knit means it sits slightly better on the body and stays there as you move around. I'm definitely much happier with this than my woven version. I'd also be concerned about how well the sleeve expansion in particular would work in a woven, I imagine you might have some trouble setting in a smooth sleeve that fits neatly. Interestingly, considering its designs for knits a lot of the construction elements I would associate more with working with a woven fabric such as the bust darts.
I have seen the instructions for Named patterns get mixed reviews but I generally find their more recent collections to be excellent; thorough and easy to follow. This particular dress though I have a very old copy of so the instructions are fairly brief and I had the layered and split pattern pieces to deal with. Man are all those criss crossing lines where the pattern pieces overlap confusing! Named have updated this pattern since I first bought it and their pattern pieces nowadays are much easier to handle so you don't have to trace after assembling the PDF. Looking at blog posts from sewists who have made this dress recently it seems the instructions now include a lot more information such as the recommendation to interface your ties and the suggestion of using bias binding to finish your neckline instead of just turning in and stitching as my copy says. I interfaced my ties anyway as a little bit of knit sewing experience made me think that the ties could probably do with a bit of extra support to prevent them stretching out with extended use. It also means they keep a nice flat rectangular shape along the length of the tie rather than collapsing in on itself. I didn't want limp looking stringy ties! I used a very lightweight fusible interfacing along the entire length and width so there is a double layer of it in the assembled tie.
As for finishing the neckline I deliberated over this for a while. I felt like just turning it under and hemming wasn't really what I wanted and felt like it might need something more robust going on. The bias finish seemed more appropriate for a woven fabric and I wasn't keen on using a band as I didn't think it would suit the style or want to add any height to the neckline. In the end I attached a doubled strip in the same way you would a band but then turned it to the inside and stitched down like a bias facing for a clean finish. I used a twin needle to match the way I had finished the cuffs. I was worried about the neckline stretching out of shape so was really careful with how I handled it and it actually sits nice and flat against the body. I like the width and height of it.
I cut the size 38 as I always do with Named patterns and got away with using just 1.75m of jersey as the fact that I wasn't using a print meant I could top and tail my pieces. The dress is obviously pretty easy to fit in the most part as you just wrap it around your body as tight as is comfortable! You do however want those bust darts to sit in the right place and the most trouble you'll probably have is with the armhole. A few people have mentioned that they find the armhole quite low on the sleeveless version and I think it is a fraction low on this too. The new armhole pattern pieces that come with the sleeve expansion pack extend the shoulder seam along to the armhole and change the shape of the armsyce ever so slightly but don't really do anything about the height of the armhole. I did however find working out the position of the new armholes on the original pieces a little confusing so perhaps I didn't get them quite in the right place! I used 1" for the hem of the sleeve and didn't remove any length but did slim them down by 1/2" on the double from the cuff up to nothing at 11" up the sleeve. I have tiny little wrists and like my sleeves skinny!
The first time I made this pattern I cut it to hit just above the knee but then ended up shortening it to more of a mini length as that seemed to work better on me proportionally. I expected to end up doing similar on this one, especially to balance out the extra coverage of the long sleeves but ended up loving the midi length! I'm really pleased I cut it long so I could play around with the length rather than going straight for short. There's something that feels effortlessly sophisticated about the wrap style with a sleeve combined with the midi length. If you're planning on making this and would like a reference point length-wise I'm about 5ft3" and I initially took 30cm off the original maxi length of the pattern. After trying it on I removed a further 16cm and used 2.5cm for the hem to get it to hit that sweet spot just below the knee which is most flattering on the leg.
I was really concerned when I cut into the merino that this wouldn't turn out as well as the image in my head and I'd feel like I wasted the fabric when it would have made a beautiful cardigan but I love it soooo much more than I thought I might! I'm definitely going to be making a sleeveless maxi version of this in jersey in the summer to replace my favourite French Connection maxi which has seen me through at least 5 or 6 warm seasons before I finally had to admit I could repair it no longer last year. I will have my eyes peeled for the perfect drapey jersey with a small rich print. I adore this solid black bamboo jersey version by Erica and think bamboo might be the ideal slinky and breathable choice so will check out what Offset Warehouse have in. Jasika's maxi version is a complete knockout too. Its going to be a hard choice to make...almost as hard as deciding on my favourite way to wear this one!
I've just got a quick post lined up for you today while I'm wandering about the streets of Paris, hopefully not blowing all my spending money on fabric and macarons alone! I need to save up some pennies as I'm really looking forward to heading to the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show with my Mum and Nan this year. From Thursday 1st March to Sunday 4th it will taking place at Olympia, London. I always particularly enjoy the show at this venue and there seems to be an increasing amount of dressmaking related stalls and fabric shops selling fabric suited to dressmaking in recent years. I usually try and go with a bit of a shopping list in mind or the inspiring choice can get a little overwhelming but one or two extra little purchases usually find their way home with me...oops!
As well as the huge number of sewing, knitting and craft specialists to shop with (you'll be sure to find some of your favourite retailers there) there's an expanding variety of workshops and drop in studios to get involved in plus free demos in The Creative Living Theatre and textile art galleries to browse which usually inspire me to try a new and exciting craft I don't really have time for! I've got myself booked on to a Fly Front Trouser Zip workshop with Janice Croft in The Dressmaking Studio as that is one sewing technique I still don't have a lot of confidence in and I think it will be great to have someone show me in person.
I was having a browse of the exhibition leaflet before writing this post and clocked a couple of of things going on at the show which I'll definitely be trying to get involved in. I've always enjoyed cross stitch and for Christmas my Dad got me a subscription to X Stitch magazine which I'm really enjoying so I'm delighted to see that the founder Jamie Chalmers (a.k.a Mr X Stitch) will be at the show. He'll be running a drop-in cross stitch studio and showing visitors how versatile and contemporary modern cross stitch designs can be. I'd also like to swing by the knitworking area where you can sit and knit! I knitted my first scarf last year and have added knitting a sweater to my #2018makenine challenge grid so I'd love to get some tips and advice from the resident knitting experts.
All in all it is guaranteed to be a great day out no matter what craft takes your fancy...my biggest concern is how to fit it all in! The great news for you guys is that I've got 5 pairs of tickets to give away which are valid for entry on any one day excluding Saturday 3rd March. To enter all you need to do is leave a comment below and if you like tell me what you'd most look forward to doing at the show...just because I'm nosey! The giveaway closes at 12 midnight GMT on Sunday 11th February and I will be announcing the winners in a blog post the day after. If you live outside the UK you are welcome to enter please only do if you will definitely be able to attend as we wouldn't want the tickets going to waste. Please make sure to leave your email address in the comment if it isn't easily visible on your profile as I will be contacting the winners to arrange delivery of your tickets after the competition closes.
If you can't wait for the giveaway to get your tickets booked, are reading this post late or would like to attend on the Saturday I've got a treat for you too as I have a discount code which reduces advance ticket prices to £11.50 saving you £2 off adult tickets and £1 on concessions. Please note there is a £1.50 fulfilment fee per booking transaction on top. To obtain the offer just enter the code DIARY18 at the checkout. Good Luck and hopefully see you there!
I can't believe its already time for the first of these posts in 2018! Where did January go? I took a bit of time off during this month and feel like I have made real progress tackling my pile of UFOs and projects I meant to get around to last year but never did. It feels like a bit of a weight lifted off my shoulders and now I'm ready to get creative again. Of course, despite all the sewing, with this wave of beautiful new pattern releases kicking off the year my sewing queue hasn't reduced at all...if anything its probably longer than ever!
New Pattern Companies!
Ensemble Patterns launched with the Sunday Everyday Sweater. I love how the curved side seam and squared off high low hem with bands enables you to play with colour blocking and make your sweater unique. One of those infinitely wearable garments with interesting details. Their next three patterns will be a pair of trousers, a blouse and a dress so I look forward to see what they come up with next.
Launching a new venture is a great way to start the year and Mika Patterns are getting involved with their first pattern; the Sophie Wrap Skirt. Available in PDF format I like this asymmetrical style and if it takes your fancy too it is 20% off until February 10th.
Goheen Designs have been creating accessory and cushion patterns for a little while now but this month released their very first womenswear pattern. The Madi is a sports tank with two views and a couple of fabric blocking options. They also have a men's workout tank pattern called The Eddie.
Untitled Thoughts are a clothing company with nature and sustainability at the forefront of their design and production. I love that they sell buttons covered in fabric scraps from their studio so nothing goes to waste! They have just released their first sewing pattern. The Stella Dress features a voluminous skirt with high low hem and one of my favourite styles of strappy neckline.
Tessuti released the Bondi Dress and its gone straight on my summer sewing wishlist. Simple and wearable yet stylish with clean lines; right up my street and perfect to showcase a special fabric.
New from Sew DIY are the Lou Box Dress 1 and Lou Box Dress 2 patterns. They are a development of their popular Lou Box Top pattern and can be bought individually or as part of a bundle. Both can be sewn in either knits or woven and the first is a cocoon style and the second has a gathered waist.
The Coffee House Pant is the latest patterns from Blue Dot Patterns. They are relaxed, cropped straight leg trousers with an elasticated waist. I love the sample made up in a classy suiting and styled with a tee and blazer.
Itch to Stitch released two new patterns this month; the Sequoia Cargos and Shorts and Bellavista Top. The trousers feature classic cargo shorts and the option to roll them up to capri length and secure with a tab. The cowl necked Bellavista looks beautiful made up in a soft boucle.
The Cassandra Dress is new from Valentine & Stitch. Stretch velvet seems to be very popular at the moment and this would be a great pattern for that with two hem options, a high or low neckline and two sleeve lengths to play with. Also available is an expansion pack including all the pieces you need to turn it into a top or cardigan.
The new Prague Blouse from Orageuse is so glamorous made up in the deep plum of their samples. I'm a big fan of the high collar with cut out neckline at the moment and the sleeve gathered into a deep buttoned cuff is a lovely touch.
Anna Rose Patterns released the Oscar Pants and Shorts. The launch of these classic trousers with side zip has made me revisit the rest of their collection as there are some lovely details in there. Despite the patterns being in French I might give one a whirl!
Sure to be appearing in the wardrobe of many a sewist this Spring are the new Mila Dungarees from Tilly and the Buttons. I never thought I'd be wearing dungarees as an adult but am now the proud owner of two pairs! Great fun to make and wear.
Just added to the collection at freesewing.org is the Carlita Coat. This is the womenswear version of their Sherlock Holmes inspired Carlton Coat and includes a princess seam for a curve skimming fit. As with all the patterns created by Joost over there is made to your measurements and completely free to download!
Kommatia Patterns released Cannes this month. This knit top with wide off the shoulder neckline is inspired by Brigette Bardot and I'm tempted to make myself one to pair with flowing viscose skirts in the summer.
If your new years sew-lution involves sewing more for the men in your life take a look at the new Draper Polo Shirt from Wardrobe By Me. This is a classic knit polo design with placket, collar and optional breast pocket. They have also just released the Paperboy Pleated Pants for women. I'd love this mannish tailored style made up in a grey flannel.
Wear Lemonade released the Alma Blouse which has a button back with cowl collar that dips into a deep v at the back. I'm finally getting around to sewing up a pattern from them and a quite enjoying the challenge of following the French videos! I'm very tempted by their PDF subscription which gives you access to their downloadable library, a new PDF design every month plus a free paper pattern after a year.
The new pattern from Grainline Studio has been eagerly awaited by many and the Yates Coat doesn't disappoint! It has a modern yet classic silhouette with double breast, notched collar, two piece sleeve and lining. A real wardrobe staple.
The Ilse Vest is new from Designer Stitch. It is a shawl collared ladies waistcoat with curved hem and the pattern includes pieces and instructions to make a matching obi belt to fasten it.
Sew Over It are running their popular PDF club again this year and their PDF release for January is the Charlotte Dress. Elegant and flattering with a slightly vintage vibe the dress features a faux wrap, notched collar and kimono sleeves.
Schnittchen released the Sue Shirt which is a casual sweatshirt with seam lines you can really have fun with. A yoke runs right across and around the shoulders front and back, there are diagonal seams in the front and the dipped hem is bordered by two squared off hem bands. The pattern is accompanied with a video showing how to sew it up and is also available in paper format.
Last but by no means least Greenstyle Creations released the Express Tank. A lovely relaxed fit workout tank with feature crossover back and tie. These would be the perfect little layer for yoga so will definitely be whipping up one of these!
Sew DIY have been running an in depth sew-along on making up both versions of their new Lou Box Dress patterns. It includes advice on making both in knit and woven fabrics and suitable finishing techniques.
The Activewear sew-along is in full swing over on the Cashmerette blog, including guidance on sewing all of the garments in their new Activewear Collection. A really useful read if you plan on sewing some sportswear even if you don't fit the Cashmerette size range so will be using other patterns.
The sew-along for the new Grainline Studio Yates Coat has just started over on their blog. They do notoriously good sew-alongs and Jen usually has some great home tailoring tips so make sure to check that one out!
Rochad Studio will be launching soon with their very first pattern; the Katherine Dress. An elegant design perfect to make to wear on a Valentine's date.
Kimberley from Straight Stitch Designs has been working hard on the Maradona Skirt and its set to be released soon!
I'm looking forward to the release of the Roma Tank from Friday Pattern Company in the spring. They posted a sneak peak on Instagram and I love the look of the neckline already!
If you're interested in adding some handmade accessories to your wardrobe the upcoming patterns from Making Patterns Fly might interest you. They are working on patterns for two removable collars to elevate your basic garments.
Daughters of Style are putting the finishing touches to their upcoming Liz T-Shirt and Dress Pattern which features a dropped and gathered sleeve combined with angled side seam t create interesting shape.
Colette have a new pattern coming out next week. From the one tiny sneak peak I've seen it looks like it has a kimono sleeve and one of the gorgeous deep pointed waistbands. Definitely feeling the vintage vibe.
Pipe Dream Patterns are currently looking for testers for three new outerwear patterns which will be coming very soon. Take a look at their Instagram account for more info and inspiration boards hinting at the patterns which look really exciting.
Other Exciting News
Melissa from Fehr Trade released her book Sew Your Own Activewear. The book uses four blocks to guide you through sewing your own sports wardrobe and is a real gem. If you're intrigued by what's inside Melissa has been taking us through the patterns in detail over on her blog.
Despite all the unselfish sewing I did before Christmas I've been sewing a fair bit of menswear in January and can't wait to share with you all. I must have been motivated by all the amazing mens makes that have been popping up on blogs and Instagram and worked their way into this months inspiring selection. Here's a handful of creative projects to get you ready to sew your way through February!
Helen made her fella a beautiful Fairfield Button Up Shirt. I adore the fabric choice and she has absolutely nailed the fit. Its really great to see some Thread Theory patterns being made up as I think they do some great classic menswear styles.
Mags posted about an incredible selection of Sew Over It dresses she's made recently. My favourite is her mustard Joan Dress which she made the inspired choice to use a knit for. I love the colour and the knit makes it infinitely more wearable as my wool version is a little restrictive!
Heather Lou's amazing red silk Kielo Wrap Dress jumped right out of my feed at me. What a stunner of a dress! The kind that every woman needs; striking, well made, versatile and super comfortable!
I've got my eye on a few of the creative DP Studio designs so was really excited to see this 603 blouse made up by Emily. The futuristic shape of that sleeve combined with the space print is a knock out and her choice of white piping really highlights the best design features.
I fully intended on posting about something else this week but then I finished this project a couple of days ago and I was too excited not to share it immediately. This is the Pneuma Tank from Papercut Patterns and is one of those garments that I can't believe I waited so long to make. I've already got the pieces cut out for another which speaks to its success in my wardrobe. I made a couple of little additions/changes to the pattern which I didn't have all that much faith in actually working so when it turned out better than I expected I could not have been more delighted!
I've had this pattern in my stash for a LONG time. I really like the contemporary vibe and creative design ideas of Papercut Patterns and love the unique style of this for workout wear. But until recently the majority of the exercise clothing I've needed has been for running and I just didn't think this would be supportive enough and those lovely straps wouldn't work with an additional sports bra underneath. So the pattern has languished on my 'will make one day' list. Then I went on a yoga retreat for the first few days of January and developed a bit of an addiction (for anyone getting into yoga I highly recommend Yoga with Adriene on YouTube if you fancy doing it at home). My sports wardrobe needed expanding and the Pneuma Tank certainly fit the bill.
I added this pattern to my #2018makenine challenge (which means with one pattern ticked off the list I'm already doing better than last year!) and received a couple of really helpful comments about making this tank more supportive for running and that it could be a good thing to do for less high impact sports like yoga too. Helen pointed me in the direction of this great tutorial on La Petite Josette on how to add support and also a lining. The one thing I wasn't sure about with the pattern is that the tank edges are all simply turned under and stitched once you've added the elastic and the raw ends of the straps are left visible inside so I really liked the idea of having a lining. Josette also adds cups to hers but I decided just an extra layer of tough power mesh combined with the lining would be enough as I wasn't after adding any shape. The tutorial is really clear with lots of photographs and achieves a lovely clean finish. However, it is just for making the bra variation of the pattern and as I wanted to include the tank overlay I had to figure out a combination of the original instructions and tutorial that would work!
Part of me was convinced that lining the bra top with the tank attached, plus attaching elastic around the raw edges and getting those straps to end up all in the right place and not twisted might have been physically impossible. But I did it! I had to really concentrate and take it slow, doing a lot of pinning and basting and turning things right side out as far as possible to check what was going on. You definitely need to be in a determined state of mind to figure this thing out and I was listening to the Love to Sew podcast at the time which makes me feel like I can do anything! When I turned it right side out and put it on for the first time I really felt like I could! It was one of those euphoric sewing moments when things turn out better than you expected and you absolutely LOVE the thing you've just sewn.
It is a little tricky to explain how I put it together and thats why I want to make another so quickly while the memory is fresh! I first basted the power mesh pieces to the shell of the bra and sewed the side seams of that, then the side seams of the lining and assembled the exterior tank too. When I had all the pieces ready to put together I laid the shell and lining of the bra right sides together with the tank sandwiched in between. First I wanted to sew the front neckline including attaching the straps so I sandwiched those in there too and sewed right across the neckline and straps leaving the armholes open for now. Then I attached 1cm elastic to the seam allowance of the neckline I'd just sewn. Now things started to get really confusing! I put the top on and pinned the straps in place at the back. I removed the top and wove the straps through each other as per the design, re-pinned and basted them in place against the shell along. Now I wanted to sew the armholes and across the back top edge in one fell swoop. I fiddled around and got everything sandwiched and pinned together again in a method that I hoped meant everything would turn right side out without tangling. I sewed the seam and again attached my 1cm elastic inside the seam allowance. I turned it right sides out (and breathed a sigh of relief!) then attached the 2.5cm elastic to the wrong side of the bottom edge of the bra before turning it in once to the inside. With some careful manoeuvring of the tank out of the way I topstitched around all the edges to secure and finish. Sounds simple right?!
I'm really delighted with the finish and pleased that I pushed myself to line it. Although as the tank and straps are stretched into shape on the body its really tricky to get photos of flat to show you the lining! You'll have to take my word for it. I followed the pattern instructions and used a zig zag stitch for my topstitching throughout. I'd usually always prefer to use a twin needle as it looks so much more professional in my opinion but as I mentioned previously I've been having some trouble with my twin needle stitches popping recently so thought I'd try the zig zag out as this is such a close fitting bra that really needs to stretch. I don't actually mind the look of the zig zag at all on this, perhaps because its sportswear? On everyday knit clothing I think it can be a bit of a homemade give-away. I did carefully think through the colour of my thread at each stage which helps to keep things looking professional; I sewed the topstitching on the tank with white in the needle and the black in the bobbin so it would look good on both sides. I treated both the shell and lining as one when attaching the wide elastic around the hem of the bra and actually quite like how the band of print looks inside one the raw edge had been overlocked.
Not having sewn a huge amount of activewear I resorted to my stash for fabric as I felt there was a chance of this quite ambitious project being a complete disaster first time around. A great thing about the pattern is that all the pattern pieces are small making this a great stash busting project! The tank is made from a piece of viscose jersey I had left over from some pattern testing. I bought it from Maggie's market stall in Lewisham and something light and drapey like this is ideal for that top layer. You don't want anything too bulky as it is gathered up where it joins the straps. The thick power mesh and black lining are both leftovers from this sports outfit I made with fabric from Mood Fabrics years ago. I was also going to use a scrap of the hot pink performance spandex for the shell of the bra as I thought some colour would look good underneath the black jersey. Then I spotted on Instagram that someone (I forget who now sorry!) had made some activewear with Liberty swim lycra and I remembered I had ordered a really fun print from The Fabric Store a couple of months back which I was saving to be another Beverley Bikini. I'd ordered a metre so I quickly laid out the bikini pattern pieces to see if I could squeeze my bra out too. I'm so happy I could as I absolutely love the effect of that modern print peeking out from underneath the black tank.
I've been eyeing up the Liberty Swim range of fabrics for ages but living in the UK don't really need a huge amount of swimwear. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that it would be great for sportswear! Now I've got my hands on some I can tell you it is really sturdy with great recovery and a lovely matt finish. It is a good thickness and doesn't go sheer or loose density of colour when stretched. It is quite a tight supportive lycra and is a great way to get some bold, colourful prints into your sports wardrobe. I'll definitely be ordering more for further activewear projects. O and my bra strapping I got from MacCulloch & Wallis. You need to make sure it has a decent amount of stretch in it in order to get the top on and off which can be a confusing procedure!
I did have some trouble with skipped stitches when I started sewing and it took me a while to figure out the best way to handle this combination of fabrics. I presumed that a fairly fine stretch needle would be best with the lycra but was totally wrong! I went through different sizes, tried microtex and universal before discovering that a size 90 ball-point was the only thing that worked. This came as a surprise as ball-point is usually best suited to a jersey when it pushes between the loops of the knit and a lycra needs something to pierce it. I'm assuming that the thickness of all those layers and my dense power mesh meant quite a thick needle was necessary too. I also sometimes find that the Gutermann Sew All threads don't cope particularly well with lycras and some tightly woven silks but changing the thread made no difference this time around. After I had found the right needle it was smooth sailing sewing wise as the fabrics are very easy to handle and work well together.
The addition of the power mesh and lining has made it so much more supportive than I expected it to be. I even feel like I could run in it very comfortably which I didn't think was a possibility with this design. I think the feeling of support also has something to do with the fit though. I cut the size XS as I usually do with Papercut patterns (my measurements are pretty much spot on that size) and the bra is actually a little small. The band under the bust is fine and through the back but I could do with a little more room in the cup. It feeling a little small is probably down to my addition of tough power mesh and lining as single layer of lycra would have a lot more give and room in it. I think if I was going for less support this is the right size but if going for more structure next time I might try up a size for a bit more boob room! Having said that I like the tight, supportive feeling. I didn't think I'd ever want to but perhaps this has opened the door to making my own sports bras! I might try out adding cups next time.
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