Indiesew: Noodlehead Poolside tote

Poolside tote

I was really pleased to be asked to join the Indiesew summer collection blog tour, and today’s the day to share my make. If haven’t seen it yet, Indiesew is like an indie pattern brand megastore, perfect for browsing tons of labels in one place, and all easily filtered by category. For my review of the collection I was allowed to pick three patterns, and I’ve actually made two of them already. This is the first, which is Noodlehead’s Poolside Tote.

poolside tote

What I especially like about Indiesew is they make up the garments in their own fabrics, so you get a different view than the photos released by the designer. They also have a great community so you can see how lots of other people have made up the patterns – it’s always really handy to see a pattern on lots of people and in a variety of fabrics to help visualise if you’d like it! Noodlehead’s blog has a lot of other fabric options for this tote too – I think the pattern works great for a city bag as well as ‘poolside’.

Poolside tote

I made the tote as a wee gift for my mum as she’s been after a roomy shopping tote and this fabric I found (Art Gallery Vines grey canvas) reminded me of her favourite Orla Kiely designs. 

Poolside tote

I used Minerva’s tan canvas for the handles and edge facing which is slightly thicker so seemed suitable to add some sturdiness. Nearly all of the pieces are interfaced per the instructions for more stability too. I like how the end result is structured yet squashy too – it’s comfortable to wear and incredibly roomy.

Poolside tote

So I really like how the bag turned out, but I realised early on that the process of sewing bags isn’t really my bag (ho). All the measuring, cutting and ironing takes twice as long as the actual stitching and was such a snoozefest. But the Poolside instructions were clear and easy to follow which did make it as painless as possible.

Poolside tote

It’s constructed a bit differently to how I’ve made lined bags before: usually I’d leave a lining corner open to turn it all right side out, but here it’s all assembled with the right sides out, and the little facing strip finishes the upper edge nicely.

Poolside tote

The only thing I changed was to leave off the keyring loop and to add a magnetic snap closure – the edge facing is a natural place to add a fastening. I just made sure to get the snaps in place before topstitching the facing down so the prongs are hidden inside. I also added a practical phone-sized interior slip pocket before constructing the lining.

Poolside tote

I used a jeans needle for all the construction to negotiate the thick fabric. I’m not mad pleased with my topstitching; it’s pretty wobbly and obvious looking even though I used my 1/4″ foot. I found it hard to keep it straight when dealing with multiple layers and manoeuvring the rather large bag under my machine.

Poolside tote
Poolside tote

It’s a bit of a prancing pony* situation though and I suspect it’d have looked worse if I ripped it out and tried to redo it. And my mum loves it and started using it immediately, which is the main thing!

*If you can’t see your mistakes from the back of a prancing pony, they don’t really matter. I think I took this from knitting legend Elizabeth Zimmermann.

The other stops on the Indiesew Blog Tour Schedule:

summer-collection-twitter-share

Thanks again to Indiesew for sending me along the pattern! Be sure to go check out the whole summer collection, I think you could build a pretty sweet capsule wardrobe from it.

Lil’ black dress

Self-draft dress

You may have spied this dress in my MMM update – I’ve worn it twice already in May so it’s definitely on course to becoming a wardrobe staple. Like some of my other recent self-drafts I think it hits that sweet spot between low-key but not boring, and hence extremely everyday-wearable.

Self-draft dress
Self-draft dress

It’s a self-draft from my block – a very simple one in fact. I just added a bit of waist ease to my princess seam bodice, slashed out the skirt to include gathers, and added side pockets. I wanted to incorporate a shoulder-to-waist princess seam so that I could trim it with this gorgeous woven ribbon that I bought in Paris last year and have been hoarding for exactly this purpose. I only bought a metre as it was quite expensive, and luckily that was just enough to trim the seams and cross the front waist – I used every last mm of it. Check out Minerva’s ribbon selection for some alternatives: these two are quite similar, or how about some cats?

Self-draft dress

To enhance the ribbon design I picked a complementary embroidery stitch on my machine to hem the sleeves. I really dig how the white stitching looks against the plain black fabric – memo to self to play more with built-in stitches sometime.

Self-draft dress

Furthering my button obsession, I put them all the way down the back. I thought it reflected the folksy kind of feel. Luckily I can actually get the dress on and off without having to undo any of them! Having worn it a bit I reckon I need to put a few extra buttons on the skirt portion as it doesn’t feel 100% secure.

Self-draft dress

This is my Minerva network project for this month, and I used their linen-look cotton fabric in black. I was intending to make trousers initially but I think the fabric is a touch too lightweight and not quite fully opaque. It makes a great dress though and was super to work with – crisp and non-fraying – and feels delicious to wear. The fabric comes in an enticing range of colours and at £4.99/m is a real bargain. Check out Amy’s vintage Vogue in the burgundy version. Yeah, I think I’ll be needing some of that colour next.

Self-draft dress

Yay for a non-boring little black dress that’ll see me through summer and beyond!

Halfway through me-made May

Shh, I’m not actually officially doing Me-Made May this year. I didn’t properly sign up and make a pledge or anything, since I wear me-made nearly every day anyway. But it’s a nice excuse to show what I do wear day to day and how my handmades fit into my wardrobe and life. What I’m noticing since this time last year is a) how many more good quality makes I have that fit my style and lifestyle b) how much easier I find it to get dressed these days, due to point a) and my ruthless and ongoing Konmari clearout.

What I’m also noticing is how tragically predictable and categorisable my clothes are. Observe:

Me-Made May '15
Exhibit a: little black dresses. Plantain and to-be-blogged self draft.

Me-Made May '15
Exhibit b: print dresses. Two Holly hacks in fact – kitty and wax cotton.

Me-Made May '15
Exhibit c: monochrome top + pants. Left: Maya top and Uniqlo jeans. Right: Cos top and Burda pants

Me-Made May '15
Exhibit d: black skinny pants + colourful top + cardi. Colourful by my standards, which is still pretty sludgy, ha. Left: Morris and Gingers with a Marc Jacobs tee. Right: Datura, Uniqlo jeans, ASOS cardi.

I haven’t had too many major revelations re things I need to sew more of, but one thing I would like for spring/summer is more midi length dresses that I can wear tightsless without feeling cold or self-conscious. I’d also like a couple more skirts so I have top + skirt options alongside top + pants or dress. And more Gingers, always, so I can retire my RTW ones. I’m calling it a successful MMM so far! How’s everyone else getting along?

Kaleido-Datura, and tips on machine-sewing buttons

Datura

In anticipation of springlike weather, I scooped up the Deer & Doe Datura pattern from Ray Stitch recently. It had been on my to-buy list for a while but seemed an extravagant price for a tank – but I was swayed by how well D&D patterns fit me and the snazzy triangle cutout neckline.

Datura

I used 1m of this lovely Liberty lawn from Shaukat, a digital collage print called Matt Maddison: the kaleidoscope triangle pattern seemed just too perfect a pairing with the Datura’s neckline. I toyed with the idea of blocking the yoke in black but decided to just insert a bit of flat piping into the seam instead.

Datura

The Datura is labelled as advanced and there are indeed a few techniques in there to make things satisfyingly challenging. The language and diagrams in the instruction book weren’t always super clear either – I got a bit confused when attaching the shoulders, but luckily found this sewalong tutorial which cleared things up. Attaching the bias along the neckline with the correct gaps between the triangles took a bit of trial and error too. Size-wise I cut a 38 at the top blended to 42 at the hip, and cut the hem length of the largest size.

Datura

I’m really happy with the fit and wouldn’t change anything, but something is still making me feel a bit unsure about the finished garment. I think it’s perhaps a bit too fussy in design for my day to day wear, and I also don’t find the shape very flattering on me – it seems to enhance pear proportions. We’ll see if it grows on me or languishes unworn once spring comes along.

Sew on buttons by machine

But how about a buttony bonus? I thought I would share how I sew on buttons by machine, in case anyone is doing this tedious chore by hand and wondering how I can sew so many without going crazy. You’ll need a button foot (I have this cheap generic one for my Janome) and some clear sticky tape. If you don’t have a button foot, you can remove the presser foot entirely and just use the ‘stump’ to hold the button in place, though it’s trickier.

Attaching buttons

1. Mark your button positions per the buttonholes.

Attaching buttons

2. Place the buttons and tape them down. You can tape each separately or use one long bit of tape.

Attaching buttons

3. Measure the distance between the holes of your button. Mine’s about 3mm here. (For four hole buttons you can either measure and sew the holes in pairs parallel to each other, or diagonally across from each other. Or a jaunty arrow!)

Attaching buttons

4. Set up your machine: go for a zig-zag stitch with the width set to the distance you measured between the holes and the length at the shortest your machine will go (mine’s 0.2mm). And best to set your machine’s speed to the slowest it will go, to negate needle-slamming-into-button situations (heed the voice of experience).

Attaching buttons

5. Fit the button foot to your machine. As you can see, it’s like a little clamp with a gap in the middle, which holds the button nicely in place for you.

Attaching buttons

6. Slide the button under, aligning centrally under the foot and making sure the holes are horizontally parallel. At this point I usually lower the needle manually to check it’s going to hit the left-hand hole in the right place, then go ahead and run the machine on slow speed. I go for about 5 or 6 passes of the zigzag between the holes. For 4-hole buttons you’ll then need to re-align to the second pair of holes. My machine has an auto locking stitch which anchors my stitches at the start and end, but if yours doesn’t you will probably want to leave a tail and secure by hand.

Attaching buttons

8. Pull off the tape and cut your thread tails (if you need to secure your ends, thread the tails onto a needle, bring to the wrong side and knot to secure.). Voila, fast and secure buttons – I’ve never had one fall off yet. Hope it was helpful!

Boyfriend Morris

Morris blazer

Like quite a lot of others in the sewing world, I’d been awaiting the release of Grainline Studio’s Morris Blazer for quite a while. I’ve been desperate to make a knit blazer to replace a very tired old Anthropologie one I wore to death last spring/summer, so it jumped right to the top of my sew-queue. I was going to wait a little bit longer until the printed pattern shipped, but when Gillian pointed out that the PDF is only 28 pages I went for it without wasting any more time!

Morris blazer

Morris is designed for stable knits or stretch wovens, and I had this fabric ready and waiting – a heathered wool-mix interlock from Cloth House. I didn’t make a toile but did make a few flat adjustments before cutting the fabric.

Morris blazer

Mainly I wanted to make more of a slouchy boyfriend silhouette rather than the shrunken, cropped shape, so I added 2 inches to the length of both the body and the sleeves using the lengthen/shorten lines. Besides that, I cut a 6 across the shoulders grading to a 10 at the hem.

Morris blazer
Morris blazer

I was a bit worried it still wouldn’t fit around my bum, but actually the fit turned out just how I hoped – swingy and loose, but still with a nice fit around the shoulders. I think the shoulders are a bit wider than they should be but I didn’t want to over-fit it so it’s comfy for cycling. Also the shoulder seams are quite far forward, which I’m not sure is a design feature or a sign I need to do an adjustment.

Morris blazer
Morris blazer

After finishing it, I felt like the larger expanse of front needed to be broken up by some pockets, so I used this tutorial to add some mini ‘cheats’ welts. I say cheat because you just fold up the pocket facing to create the welts rather than have a separate piece, so they’re much less nerve-jangling to install than the traditional method – but quite neat and effective anyway. They’re a bit tiny to actually hold my hands, but at least they hold a phone and/or Oyster card so are a practical addition.

Morris blazer
Morris blazer

Sewing it up was quick and fun. I used a mix of the overlocker and a straight stitch on my normal machine – I don’t think the stitches will pop since it’s not close-fitting. It’s unlined, but I like how all the facing edges are tucked under for a tidy finish inside. I just wish I’d sewn the lapels with the wrong side of the fabric facing out for a bit of contrast: I’d already fused on the interfacing (I found my knit interfacing at Ray Stitch by the way) before I thought of it. Nonetheless I think this is a worthy successor to my old jacket and should get a ton of wear in the coming months.

Morris blazer
Morris blazer

Let’s end on a cat photobomb! It’s a bank holiday Monday here and against all the odds it’s a beautiful day, so I’m going to put the machine down now and take my new Morris for a wander.

Two recent self-drafts

I find it funny how sometimes fabrics languish in your stash for years, and others skip the queue completely and get whipped up fresh from the pre-wash. Often I find I’m much less precious about cheaper fabrics, and willing to merrily hack into them without weighing up all the options of what it might want to become. So it was with these two frocks, both made from recently purchased cheap fabric, and both self-drafts from my blocks.

Button-back dress

I’m a bit smug about this first one. This delicious viscose cost £3 a metre and I was alerted on Instagram that Whistles is using exactly the same stuff for a £110 dress – am I ever glad I can sew. Amy and I both grabbed some of it from Fabric Mart in Walthamstow when we did a super fun little fabric crawl afternoon a couple of weeks ago.

Button-back dress

You might have noticed from my previous projects that I’m a bit of a button addict. I can’t explain it, but it’s definitely a struggle to not make every project I make a buttondown dress. To avoid a very samey wardrobe, this time I moved the buttons… to the back. This pin provided the inspiration , and it was a dead easy mod from my block to make the pattern:

Button-back dress

1. Rotate the front bodice shoulder dart into the waist dart, and convert some of the dart fullness into ease.
2. Convert all of the back bodice dart fullness into ease, and cut the V-back. Add on the extra width for the button placket at the centre back.
3. Skirt is two rectangles, gathered onto the bodice with elastic. Done!

Button-back dress

This was an evening’s project from drafting to finishing, and it’s already become one of those dresses that I’m always reaching for and rushing through the laundry so I can wear it again. Love the fabric, love the length, so pleased the button-back detail worked out. I’ve saved the pattern to use again for the next perfect fabric to come along.

Scuba dress

The second one uses some excellent marble-print scuba from Saeed’s Fabrics also in Walthamstow. I even overlooked my usual aversion to white because it’s just so cool looking. I used my princess seam bodice block, and the skirt has soft pleats in the front and gathers at the back.

Scuba dress

I scooped out the back neckline here too – I think it adds a certain daintiness.

Scuba dress

The fabric was fun to work with – it’s quite a light scuba, probably about the weight of ponte but definitely scuba-y: it even smelled like wetsuit when I steamed it. I overlocked all the seams, and used Megan’s technique for neckline binding. The hem is left raw since it seemed to hang nicely and won’t fray.

By the way, I’m not doing Me-Made May :( work is so busy at the moment and I don’t really feel like documenting what I wear every day. But I’m on a good 80% at least me-made days lately anyway, and I’ll just enjoy seeing everyone else’s posts!