Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Journal, Sew My Style, Sewing

Sewing Activewear

MeMade May MeMadeMay reinforced the fact that I wear Active Wear everyday. I’m brand loyal to Sweaty Betty because they survive wash after wash without going out of shape.  For the quality you, pay a premium price, which means I picked up a Sweaty Betty Pair of reversible leggings in the sale four years ago and they are in rotation. So I thought I would make my own with a top to match .

I searched the high street stores online to find a cut I liked. For me, it was important that the pattern be as high waisted as possible and to be as seam free as possible. I decided to use the Helen’s Closet Avery Leggings, I made view B with the high waist and liked the construction included only inside leg seams to keep the pattern as simple as possible.

The patterns calls for 4 way stretch performance stretch fabric with 70% Stretch. I knew finding the right fabric was key to the success of this project. Helens Closet blog provides a list of suggestions here  . I was directed to Fab Works Mill Italian Matte Lycra, with thanks to Wendy Ward author of Sewing with Knitted Fabrics raved about it on Instagram. I was well and truly influenced but I am glad I trusted an expert opinion because it so buttery soft and washes and wears really well.

To wear with the Avery Leggings, I decided to make the Pneunma Tank from PaperCut Patterns to match. The pattern comes with 2 views (more value for money) with an option to sew in a top to the bra on view B. It was my first time sewing and folding over elastic, that is common in construction of lingerie and swim wear, and I was a a bit nervous of the challenge, but with thanks to my trusty Walking Foot, it went in fine and it gave me the confidence to sew a swimsuit.

I used the same black sports lycra for the bra and lined it in the same fabric, the pattern isn’t lined so to line it, I just constructed the bra twice, joined at the neck seams, right sides together and turned it right way round and top stitched around the bottom edge. For the top element I used some cotton jersey I had left over and to be frank, the top requires a a jersey with a bit more drape, and white is probably not going to stay white for long if it’s washed with other sports wear, but I like wearing white in summer and it’s a great sports top as the air circulates.

I’ll definitely make both the leggings, the sports top again and to make the sports bra as a stand alone item. Sewing active wear gave me confidence to sew with lycra for a Closet Case Sophie Swimsuit. I am drawn to leggings with a great print, but I haven’t been able to find any quality activewear fabric with a design I like. I would love to design my own, but I am concerned that many of the base cloth’s I’ve seen on print on demand are white and opacity of the design can be lost when the fabric is stretched. If you have any recommendation of great, quality, print on demand lycra, i’d love to read your recommendations in the comments.

All for now.

Claire XO

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Journal, Sew My Style, Sewing

Delphine Jacket by I Am Patterns.

Last weekend, The Fold Line & The English Girl at Home organised the Sewing Weekender Online, I really enjoyed watching the videos and taking part. Rumana from the Little Pomegranate talked about sewing as an act of kindness towards herself during the Covid-19 crisis and this reminded me why I decided to sew. So I wanted to share my hugely impractical, totally frivolous, recent make, the gold furry coat that helped me get my sew jo back during lockdown.

When I saw the release of the I am Patterns Delphine jacket by in 2018 I knew I needed this in my wardrobe, I mean need is probably the wrong word here, but it did got me exciting for sewing something just for the sake of sewing, it wasn’t practical or a tried and tested pattern, or set to be part of a capsule wardrobe, it was simply fun. Sew Me Sunshine stocked the exact fabric used in the samples and on an impulse I snapped it up.

After that, the fabric sat in the bottom of my wardrobe for the best part of 18 months. I’m not sure why, maybe part of me lacked the confidence to pull of a white and gold fur coat or simply my energy was pulled in different directions for 2019. But when lockdown was announced I knew I wanted to use the time to work my way through my current fabric stash, because I really, really, really don’t like fabrics stacked up at home.

The Delphine jacket is a very simple unlined jacket with no zips or fastenings. I did decide to sew on a pair of hook and eyes to close it and there is a free add on PDF for the pattern to line it, but this , never seen anything else like it fabric, didn’t need any extra. So I decided to sew it up, we were headed into spring, it was out of season, totally impractical and I had no where to wear it, but I truly love it for all of those reasons.

I made it just for me, I didn’t care if my husband didn’t like it or anyone thought it was ridiculous, when I wore it, I bought me unadulterated joy and that is exactly why I started sewing for myself. My style in the last year has started to shift, I am making a more conscious choice to be bolder with colour and dress up everyday, because it makes me feel good. I was hugely inspired by Stasia Savasuk on the Love to Sew Podcast and it forced me to question if my capsule wardrobe co-orinating basic makes were reflecting who I am. I want more colourful, fun, makes to wear everyday in my wardrobe. As we go into summer, it’s not quite weather appropriate but I’ll welcome some chill in the air to wear my new favourite jacket that brings me so much joy!

Claire

XO

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Journal, Sew My Style, Sewing

Stitch Sister Simple Yellow Midi Skirt

Winter dressing can be gloomy, wooly jumpers, navy, black, polo necks, thermal tights but in the gloomiest months of the year, it’s a time when a bit of colour can bring cheer to get you through to spring. This super quick, secret pyjama skirt did just that.

Thermal base layers are necessary in the North West, pretty much year round, but I wanted to wear fewer days of jeans, jumpers and big boots this winter so I made two of these midi skirts which I have been wearing on repeat with thick tights, jumpers and a jacket and coat.

I followed a YouTube tutorial from the Stitch Sisters, but decided to encase the elastic in fabric rather than expose the elastic. It was that simple. These pleated skirts are very popular at the moment and are so simple to make, but the difficulty is sourcing the pleated fabric. This fabric was from Minerva Crafts and I made a bottle green one with fabric from Stoff and Stil but the fibre composition isn’t great, so i’m keeping my eyes peeled for more pleated fabric in bright colours, because these skirts are really easy to wear under layers, with a great swish, that makes you feel great!

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Journal, Sew My Style, Sewing

Colourful Holly Dress by Fibre mood .

October, marks my sewing Birthday, as back in 2017 I got my sewing machine and started to sew. Last year with a gift voucher I bought fabric for my much loved Yellow Trench Coat, so this year I picked a colourful viscose I had my eyes on for ages to make a midi length colourful dress, to mark a new year of more colourful, everyday, makes.

Fibremood is a fashion forward, pattern magazine produced every quarter, with around 15 sewing and knitting patterns included. The patterns are overlapped on pattern paper in the middle of the magazine, and as someone who hates dressing patterns, I decided to buy a single PDF as I knew I wanted to make the Holly Dress . I was sold on the sample images with the grey hair and rattan chair, and as well as the dress! It was my first midi length dress and with a high neck, but I thought it would be great to wear everyday in winter with tights and still be relaxed.

The pattern requires you to add seam allowances once you have assembled your pattern, which I did not realise, until after I had cut out all the pieces and started assembling the dress. whoops! I won’t make that mistake again and for a while I did really fall out with the dress as I has to recut the sleeves with my left over fabric and the use a tiny seam allowances for construction. Thankfully there was enough ease in the dress it still fit, but ideally I would have liked the dress to have been a tiny bit longer, but I really loved the sleeves and the gathers around the neckline that I still love it.

The dress bodice of the dress and the skirt come as one piece, I decided to cut it in two and I had planned to insert a channel to make an elastic waist, but I decided I didn’t want to interfere with the print of this fabric and decided I would be wear it with a belt made from the fashion fabric or a belt from my wardrobe. So there is an extra seam but once i’m wearing a belt you can’t really see it.

The hero of this dress is the sleeves which are gathered into a cuff and finished with covered buttons. I wan’t sure if It would feel very ‘me’ but I love it, it does make me feel very Margo from The Good Life, but that’s not a bad thing.

The high neck of this dress makes it better suited for colder months and I have been wearing it with tights, a polo neck underneath and my black leather jacket, but I took these pictures on a sunny day in spring. I styled it without the belt, which is more comfortable, but I much prefer the silhouette with a defined waist.

Although I got off to a wobbly start with this make, in the end we made peace and I look forward to wearing it for all occasions and it has inspired me to make more midi lengths dresses. I have my eyes on another Fibremood Pattern, The Victoria Blouse, which I could easily hack into a gathered midi dress as long as I remember to add the seam allowances!

XO

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sewing

Isla Trench Coat

My name is Claire and I’m a coat-o-holic. I love sewing coats, because I like a challenge, I like tailoring and I even like top stitching and this coat was going to push my skills and test my patience. I drew my inspiration from Anne Hathaway looking rather fetching in this Mustard Trench and since then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

For my birthday last year I was kindly gifted vouchers for Sew Me Sunshine, (thank you to David and Rose and Grace and Martin) and once I’d spotted this Robert Kaufman Mustard Cotton Twill I knew I wanted to make a Trench Coat. It was set to be a coat to take me into my 4th decade. I procrastinated before I cut into the fabric, firstly because I had such high hopes of this project looking good, (which is nonsense really) plus I needed a big chunk of time and space to get started on it.

After a lot of research I decided for the Named Isla Trench Coat because of all the classic trench coat features, I liked the cape and the top stitching and I knew I wanted the longer length. It was my first time making a Named Pattern after months of lusting over their aesthetic online. Plus the patterns are drafted for a 5’8” woman. Hooray!

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The Pattern has a lot of pieces, so I decided to try out Patternsy for the first time, a service that prints A0 sewing PDFs.  The pieces are still overlaid, so I had to trace the overlapping pieces. I made a rookie error and only sent away the shell pattern pieces to be printed,  so I had to stick together the lining PDF by hand. I was 3/4 of the way through sticking together the PDF when I realised it was actually the shell pieces I was sticking together…big sigh…deep breathe…I just printed out the lining pieces this time and stuck it together again and traced it. This project definitely tested my patience.

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Next, I made a toile to check the fit and construction of the welt pockets. I cut a size 40 and the fit was fine. I was worried about it being too tight around my arms but it was fine with room enough for wooly jumper.  I made the welt pockets after watching a tutorial on YouTube I got my head around the construction. They turned out fine. To be extra diligent I made the collar and the cape to check construction.

I was then ready to cut out the fabric, it used 5.5m of the shell as it was only 115cm wide so I laid all the pieces out on the length of out flat for the shell. I marked on the buttonholes and welt pockets with tailors tacks as my fabric pen kept disappearing into the fabric. This shell requires a lot of interfacing, it took me a whole day and even after 30 seconds under the iron, I still found pieces of it coming unstuck whilst I was sewing it. I’d never really considered interfacing before, aside from weight but this brand didn’t seem like great quality. But it does give the collar the structure in needed. So i’m on the hunt for some better quality interfacing, if anyone had any recommendations?

 I wish I’d used a fabric pen or tailors chalk better suited to my fabric as it was hard to cut the opening for the welt pocket with the tailors tack. My welt pockets turned out terribly, because the pockets were interfaced with heavy interfacing, the fabric was my much bulkier than the toile when I was turning them out, so they are far from perfect. I managed to hide a multitude of sins with the iron, (thank you steam)  but they still show drag lines, I was gutted to be honest, especially as the toile looked so much neater, but it’s a lesson to use a similar weight fabric and interfacing even for a toile. But to be honest, once my hands are in you can’t really tell, that’s what I keep telling myself anyway. 

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From here the construction was straight forward. The instructions are sparse compared to the hand holding of Tilly and the Buttons patterns and Sew Over It patterns I’m used to it. But all the steps are there. This was an intermediate pattern after all and certainly tested my skills.

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I really like the details of the top stitching, for my first row of topstitching I did use a topstitching thread, but my sewing machine does seem to eat this thread and get tangled, so instead I used a Guttermann thread and and it was well matched for my fabric.

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I was searching for a puppytooths cotton lining for this coat, but after a lot of scrolling online and no luck, I went to Aberkhan in Manchester and bought a cotton with yellow flex in it for the body lining and black satin for the sleeves making it easy to slip on and off.  I like the flash of colour on the inside.

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I finished the coat with classic key hole button holes, which was a task beyond my work horse, but basic sewing machine. So I went along to Sew Creative in Altrincham to use th Husquvanah Sewing Machines with an automated buttonholes. Finally I used plan black buttons, which is maybe a bit boring, I tried a trench coat on in Jiigsaw about 10 years ago and it had the most beautiful eclectic collection of buttons down both sides, but black buttons pop against the yellow shell.

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Well, as soon as I finished this coat, a heat wave spread across the UK and it finally stopped raining, so i’ll take that as a success. To make this coat Manchester proof, I sprayed it with a showerproof spray. In hindsight I should have washed the fabric first with a waterproof fabric, but honestly, I didn’t even think of it until it was finished. I expect it to be showerproof with an umbrella, but not downpour proof, perhaps a Closet Case Kelly Anorak in deadstock barbour fabric might be better for the wet, wellies and dog walk days.

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I learnt so much during this project, it reinforced that by taking on challenging projects, you learn more, so just go for it, the finished garment is far from perfect, but I love wearing it, I made it, it’s one of a kind and it will put a spring in my step when I wear it in the rain.

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All for now

Claire and co

XO

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