Dressmaking, Minerva Crafts Blog, Sewing

Minerva Crafts Blog: Eve Dress Hack Wrap Top

For my Minerva Crafts Blog project this month, I hacked the Eve Dress Pattern, into a wrap blouse, I like to get the most of a pattern and I’m pleased to say my first pattern hack was a success.

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Pattern: Sew Over It Eve Dress
Fabric: Georgette Fabric
Notions: None.
Modifications: Bodice from the packet and hacked the skirt length to sit just below my hips. Shortened the tie to wrap at the back, rather than all the way around.
Fit: Spot on
Difficulty: Easy
Watch out for: Slippy fabric
Make Again?: Yes, a real staple, simple wrap blouse in spring time.

You can read the full review here

*Disclosure: This post contains affilate links

Claire & Co.

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe

Minerva Crafts Blog: Lurex Coating Coco Jacket

I’m proud to say I’m working with Minerva Crafts and my makes will be found every month over on their Blog.  I’m an advocate of fabric shopping online, this might feel counterintuitive to some, but when I dream up a project I am quite set on what type, colour and weight of fabric I’m looking for (check my guide to choosing fabric to help translate the terminology) . With such strict parametres, it’s easier to search online rather then rummage in shops. Minerva Crafts have a huge, I mean really huge, range and choice of fabric so i’m looking forward to showing you some great projects over the coming months. The first project went live today and I wanted to give you a sneak peek.

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Being part of the Minerva Craft Blog Team has encouraged me to use new fabrics and this fabric made me step out of my comfort zone, but it fits in perfectly with my wardrobe. It has stripes, shades of blue, flecks of gold and is nothing like I’ve seen on the high street.

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Pattern: Sew Over It Coco Jacket
Fabric: Lurex Coating Fabric
Notions: Interfacing to match the weight of your fabric for the front two panels, more if you chose a light weight fabric.
Modifications: None. Cut straight from the pattern
Fit: About an inch too short on me, but I’m quite tall (5’7”)
Difficulty: Advanced beginner. Great choice for a first time jacket, there are no fastenings.
Watch out for: Turning the jacket inside out, I used the Sew Over It Chloe Coat Class as a refresher.
Make Again?: Definitely, in a Navy/ Black Wool for smarter occasions or a brilliant geometric jacquared fabric.

Read the full review here.

Happy making

Claire & Co.

XO

 

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links

 

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sewing

Making Jeans

I wear jeans all the time, for years I’ve bought the same pair and style from Topshop (branching out to Cheap Monday if I could get them in the sale)  in mid blue and black. Every year the fabric looks worn within six months and I pledge to look for another style that will last and that I love. But that never happens, well until now.

I made myself a pair of Mia Jeans from the Sew Over It City Break e-book. The jeans challenged my skills, taught me how to insert a fly front, how to do top stitching and how to add hardware (hint: a lot of brute force) but I don’t love them, the fit is not great and I did some adjustments to improve it. Making the Mia Jeans gave me the confidence to tackle jeans, this time more strategically in search of the perfect pair.

The patern for the Mia Jeans required denim with at least 2% stretch, I bought indigo stretch denim from Fabric Godmother along with the zip and hardware. The Mia jeans are simple, with just two pockets on the back, with no front pockets or belt loops, so a great starting point. The style is very similair to a ready-to-wear pair I owned, but the elastane in the denim lasted about two months and the knees went saggy. The fabric I used for this pattern was great quality, it felt long lasting, heavey and durable, but it still had a bit of stretch in to make it comfortable. Screen Shot 2019-01-15 at 12.55.04.png

You add all the design features whilst the jeans are flat, adding the back pockets and the fly front. I used a Sew Over It free YouTube tutorial to help get the construction right on the fly front. I’m really proud of the topstitching on the fly, it took me three goes, but it’s worth the hassle of unpicking because the gold top stitching thread really does draw your eyes to any wobbles.

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Sewing trousers seems frightening, but the construction is relatively simple, I started sewing by making pyjamas bottoms, so it helped me figure out to put one leg inside the other to join at the crotch. To add the button you need a lot of brute force and a flat surface, we (I roped in my husband to help with the brute force) used a flat concrete step so not to damage any surface at home.

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The fit is not great, they are baggy around the waist and the knees, they have a bit of ease built into them. Part of it the problem with the fit is my fault and it doesn’t help that I lost two inches from my waist during the process of making them. So part of me would want to make them again, but a size down. However, before that I feel I need some tuition on the fitting of trousers so I plan to attend the trouser fitting class with the Ministy of Craft and work my way through the Sew Over It online class on trouser fitting first.

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So although not my greatest success, I did feel a huge sense of accomplishment making jeans, that look good and don’t look cobbled together. It really encouraged me to make stuff that I know I’ll get a lot of wear out of and to get a perfect fit that you just can’t get on the high street. For my next jeans making project I want to replace a tired pair of black skinny jeans in my wardrobe and for that I’m going to try the Ginger Jeans Pattern.

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I know that stretch jeans that have a high elastane content are not going to be as long lasting as raw denim, but I have worn skinny jeans for over 10 years, and I know that to get them on and contour round the body they need elastaine. But this year I’m looking to break a habit of a lifetime, well 10 years at least, and ease myself gently off super stretchy jeans and look for a straight pair and use raw denim.

Alina Kroeker from Dogwood Denim makes made to order jeans and sewing patterns, I heard her interviewed on the Love to Sew Podcast and I was so interested in the concept of a custom pair of jeans, I know I’m not alone as a woman in tirelessly searching for the perfect fit for a pair of jeans (without tons of elastaine).  I’m sure if I add up the cost of all the jeans that I have bought and worn out within the year, over the years,  it would easily justify the cost of custom made jeans, especially as they have a repair service built into the guarantee.

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Now, I would also be interested in a custom jeans pattern. Next week, I’m going to Manchester Universtiy to get a 3D Body Scan and a printout of my measurements, which would help me to develop a custom jeans pattern in the future. In the UK, I know Huit Denim are producing sustainable jeans, restoring the history of jeans making production in Cardigan in Wales and they offer free repairs for life.

I’ve been collecting images of styles of jeans I’m prepared to try and I’ve tried a few pairs on in the shops. I think the best way to get this done is by booking an appoinment at a department store personal shopper to help me try styles I wouldn’t usually go for and get over any pre-existing prejudices. For now here’s a few styles that I’m interested in, it seems practically impossible to find womans jeans on the high street without elastane, but I’ll keep looking and keep your eyes peeled over the coming months for my perfect jeans patterns. So far I know they’ll be in black or indigo blue 100% denim, with a button front, straight leg and 7/8th length.

 

All for now

Claire & Co.

XO

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Dressmaking, Menswear, Sewing

Sewing Menswear

This week marks the end of London’s Fashion Week Men’s so it seemed fitting to share some menswear I have made as I dip my toe into sewing for men, (one man in particular).  In terms of design I  find menswear really interesting; I’m someone who likes boundaries to work within and to keep things timeless. The restriction of working with trousers, shirts, jackets, suits and the odd waistcoat allows more room for unusual cuts, intersting details and more creative fabric choices. I like a playful twist on a classic design, think Paul Smith signature stripes on an inside seam or a brightly coloured top stitching thread  I recently discovered Private White VC because the factory is in Manchester and 90% of the raw materials are sourced within 40 miles of the factory, all the cuts are classic and put quality first. Before embarking on designing and making a tailored suit, I kept it simple and made a shirt and a tie.

 

First I made a tie, I’m not around anyone who wears a tie on a regular basis, so ties come out only for special occasions and they still hold a novelty value.  I used a free pattern from Craftsy and the construction was relatively straightforward, apart from turning it inside out, which required a lot of patience and a knitting needle, but it ironed flat easily enough. Once you’ve grasped sewing in straight lines, this is an entry level project and a great scrap buster. It can be easily personalised for presents. It was slim pickings when I was choosing fabric in our local fabric shop so this geometric cotton fabric print would not be my first choice. Most tie’s on the highstreet are polyester or microfibre, which has a similiar look to silk. I was look for paisley print or Liberty print that wasn’t too floral, and I just couldn’t find anything locally that worked.

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Secondly I made a shirt, I watched the #Mansewing series by The Stitch Sisters that sign posted me to a Simplicty Shirt Pattern 8427 by MimiG. It is a simple shirt pattern; with the choice of club or spread collar and standard or French cuffs. What appealed to me about the pattern was that is it came with a free Sew a long video which helped me through making new construction techniques; cuffs, plackets and a collar.

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For the fabric I used brushed cotton tartan from Minerva Crafts  so it has a bit more weight than a classic shirting. I opted for the classic collar and cuffs and chose a tartan print so it would be more relaxed.

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What I like about sewing menswear is all the structure created by pleats and plackets.

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I got the buttons from Abakhan in Altrincham. I got some help with the button holes at Sew Creative and used the Husqvarna machines, whose automatic button hole feature made it a doddle.

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Finally I added this label from Kylie and the Machine that are now being stocked in the UK, I bought mine online from Sarah from Like Sew Amazing. The shirt was a Christmas present, so I wanted to add something special, I think the sentiment sums up how I feel about turning a flat piece of fabric into something to wear.

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The shirt was a success, one of Rob’s friends and my Dad asked me to make them one. I’m not sure I’m ready to take comissions just yet, or how sustainable it will be, as I’m a slow sewer, but I feel inspired to make some more menswear to take on the new challenge.

I had planned to take a pattern cutting course at Manchester College last September, (but I wasn’t able to commit because of my health *eye roll*) but I wanted to make a mens’ suit as the final project, to really push my skills and see it all come together in one final piece. But as Rob only wears a suit about twice a year, I thought it would be better investments in my time, per wear to make a pair of mens jeans.  I came across Thread Theory which is an Indie Pattern company based in Canada, the patterns are avaliable via PDF so I think i’ll make the Quadra Jeans as a Birthday Present for Rob, but that’s not until June so it gives me a bit of time to perfect my technique.

Until next time

Claire & Co.

XO

 

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Dressmaking, Pattern Cutting, Sewing, Workshop

Making a Bodice Block with Ministry of Crafts

I signed up for Bodice Fitting Class with the Ministry of Craft because I wanted to know more about how to fit the clothes I was making beyond some haphazard pattern hashing that I’d done up until now.  The beauty of making your own clothes is that you don’t have to wear off the peg, but my knowledge restricted me to make clothes out of the pattern packet instead, which defeats the point.

The day long workshop ran on a Sunday from 11.15-16.45 at Fred Aldous in Manchester in the basement workshop. Everyone got their own double desk, sewing machine and tools, and the studio was surrounded by peg boards with neatly organised tools of the trade… A makers dream.

We were guided by the tutor Janette who made everyone feel at ease. There were eight of us in the class covering a range of ages and levels of experience, and that really is part of the appeal of taking an in-person workshop, meeting like minded people. I haven’t found much of a sewing community up North yet, so it was great to find The Ministry of Crafts

To start with, we found a bodice block closest to our high bust measurements, that’s basically from under your armpits and across your chest. You can build your block from scratch, but with just a day to get everyone through the process it’s simpler to use one, or a combination of the industry standard blocks as a starting point, where some of the hard work has already been done for you. 

From here, you find the block that is closest to your waist and chest measurement, this is a common point where you need to grade between sizes and do a full, half or small bust adjustment on your chest. We were guided through this process and although this doesn’t apply to me at present, we all know that body’s morph with time, so it was a really useful skill to learn. I had the preconception that a FBA, as a full bust adjustment is commonly abbreviated to, was a daunting process, but actually it was relatively straight forward. However the process is a little time consuming if you have to repeat this process on every pattern, which is exactly why constructing your bodice block is so useful.

From here we cut out our pattern out of calico and made up the initial bodice before the fitting. I found this the most interesting part of the day, because it’s so hard to fit something on yourself when you don’t know what you’re looking for. I know I have a long body and broad back, but I didn’t know what adjustments to make to counteract this, which I really noticed when making the Etta Dress.  I tried the bodice on and Janette made adjustments to the placement and size of the darts, and even when it was pinned in I could see the difference. It took another round of fitting to get the perfect fit, but to my surprise the bodice started to follow my form completly.

Using the adjusted bodice in calico, the next step is to cut your bodice in half down the centre front, and unpick the darts and seams, and trace around the front and back bodice onto card. You then sharpen the line with a metric French curve, copy any pattern marks and cut it out along with a corresponding sleeve, and your bodice block is done. 

 

By this point, it was nearly the end of the workshop. Though what I really liked about the workshop was learning to make the bodice block was just the beginning of the process.  Janette talked us through steps of how to turn these blocks into our own patterns, the combinations are endless and I’m sure I’ll never look at a piece of clothing again without trying to work out the construction. We received a handout with step-by-step instructions to repeat the process at home, which saves you from trying to scribble everything down inbetween watching demonstrations, and some recomendations of books to read.

I had already bought The Metric Pattern Cutting for Woman’s Wear over the summer, once I had the idea of making my own patterns, but the textbook is very dry and if I’m honest I took one look at it, scratched my head and it stayed on the book shelf. This class however brought the book to life, it began to make sense and now I’m really looking forward to drafting my own pattern from my block. To start with, I think I’m going to make a long sleeved fitted jumper similair to the Seamwork Astoria jumper but with a longer bodice to fit my proportions.

This class gave me the confidence to try pattern cutting, but it also gave me confidence in fitting things to my body. It reminded me how high street shops employ vanity sizing to make us feel smaller and how working out your measurements in cm’s carries much less conotations than inches, so you can focus less on the number and more on how to get the perfect fit. In the new year I hope to attend the trouser fitting class and hopefully my collection of patterns bespoke to my measurements will begin to grow.

All for now.

Claire

XO

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