Silk Dove

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Katie in pale colour shocker! Seriously, all of my 2016 makes have been embarrassingly samey dark shades. My black overlocker spools even ran out, so that was a good kick to embrace the light side. I may also be in seasonal denial, as summer ends and we head into my least favourite time of year, by making a silk sleeveless blouse…

Dove

This is the Dove blouse, the new pattern from Megan Nielsen, which she kindly sent me a pre-release of to try out. It’s a very pretty semi-fitted top with a host of yummy design details like French bust darts, chunky topstitched facings for the V-neck and curvy hem, and a slew of sleeve options, from slim elbow-length to fabulous full-on bell.

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Being me and unable to leave a good pattern alone, I eschewed all the sleeve options, instead adding little rectangular caps and finishing the rest of the armsyce with bias facing. I’ve come to realise that any woven garment with a set-in sleeve rarely gets reached for in my wardrobe unless the drafting is 100% spot-on, plus I’m always overly warm rather than cold so it isn’t actually all that seaosnally-inappropriate. I’ll do a tutorial for the hack if anyone’s interested.

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As usual from Megan’s patterns, the instructions are clear and well-illustrated, and the drafting is just a delight – this was so pleasurable to sew and all came together in a few hours. I cut a Large, which is bigger than my measurements but I like a lot of ease in woven tops. It still fits really nicely around the neck and shoulders, though it dips a bit too long in the back for my preference – I’ll take some length out next time.

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I think the fabric makes this top feel rather special. It’s undyed silk noil from The Organic Textile Company; a bargain at £8.95 a metre. This is probably my number-one fabric both to work with and to wear yet I’ve only used it once before. It’s pretty hard to find in any colours or prints but this raw slubby cream is rather beautiful, albeit out of my usual palette comfort zone. (It does take dye well however, so I’m going to buy more to self-colour.) Some up-close inside shots to show the texture and finishing:

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Self-bias faced armholes and the faced, topstitched neckline.

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The hem facing and centre-front seam.

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French-seamed shoulder seam and French bust dart in the background, the ‘legs’ of which are cut out, so raw edges are overlocked after it’s sewn together.

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The rather directional design details, not to mention the colour, feel a little ‘out there’ for my usual/current style, but I do love it and expect it will get lots of wear. It looks so good with denim (Safran jeans here) and the relaxed shape and dream fabric make it super comfy. Here’s hoping I don’t spill coffee/wine/spaghetti down it too soon… perhaps the real reason I usually stick to dark colours.

Thanks again to Megan for sending me the Dove pattern to try! You can pick it up for 20% off until Friday using the code HELLODOVE.

Kniti Midi Inari

Inari hack1

Sewing time is short right now and I need guaranteed results, so I’ve been doing quite a few repeat makes of TNT patterns lately. This dress merges the best bits of two of my wardrobe essentials to get another dreamily simple easy-to-wear everyday dress. Guess the two references from my recent makes…?

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Answer: the base pattern is the Named Inari dress, and the fabric choice and mods were inspired by my Style Arc Celine. I wear one or the other of those weekly (and have made a second stripy Inari already) and now this one’s gone straight into rotation too.

Inari dress hack

The pattern ‘hack’ was really easy:
– Freehand convert the round neckline to a V. Tip: cut the V shape in a slightly concave (curving outwards) line rather than straight diagonal: it sits nicer on the upper chest.
– Cut the front as a pair rather on the fold, adding seam allowance, as it’s easier to make a nice V-neck if you sew the shoulder seams, then sew the neckband on, then seam the CF
– Add six inches to the length
– The tie is a separate skinny piece, sewn RS together as a tube then turned RS out, the ends tucked in and sewn closed.

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The fabric’s the same as my Celine, cheapo poly-blend rib knit from MyFabrics, but in navy instead of green. The fabric’s held up really well on my Celine, no bobbling/pilling yet despite many washes. I’m going to buy yet more for future variations on this theme.

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The Inari is designed for either woven or knits, so I didn’t alter the sizing. I think the pattern even includes instructions and a pattern piece to do a neckband for knits instead of the facings. I added about 1.5″ onto the sleeve length and left off the bands.

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One final detail was to leave a small slit at the centre front – easy because of the new CF seam. I was going to level off the hem but decided I quite liked the small extra detail of the stepped hem. I forgot to take a photo without the belt, but it looks pleasingly sack-like and cocoon-y, so it’s really two looks in one. All in all, it’s cycle-friendly, comfy and took like an hour to sew. I need more makes like this in my life right now!

Safran jeans

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Allo! I’ve been on the jeansmaking train again – it’s never too long between denim sessions chez Katie. This time it was external forces guiding me, because Deer and Doe sent over a pre-release of their new Safran jeans and pants sewing pattern to road-test and review. I’ve tried a lot of skinny jeans patterns by this point – Burdas, Style Arcs, Closet Case Files – so how do Safran stack up?

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The main difference is that the Safrans are lower on traditional jeans-style details and instead tread the line towards more classic skinny trousers. Depending on fabric type you could make quite smart minimal cigarette pants in, say, a black sateen, or go ahead with denim and add plenty of topstitching for more of a jeans look. I went down the middle, using a crisp mid-blue denim but without much extra detailing.

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The pattern comes with two views – A has belt loops, back pockets, a full length leg and instructions for topstitch detailing; B leaves off those details and has a just-above-ankle length. I used mostly view A with the length of view B, however I left the hems raw and staggered them slightly so the back is a bit longer. It’s a look I’ve seen in RTW that I like a lot – and hey, no hemming – bonus!

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A few things of note while I sewed up the pattern:

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Fabric: You’ll definitely want to heed the fabric recommendations and look for something with 20%+ stretch, because there’s plenty of negative ease factored into the hip measurement. I made a toile in lower stretch denim and while I could just about zip them up, I couldn’t move very far! My final denim is medium weight with about 20% stretch, from Woolcrest Textiles.

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Sizing: I’m a 38/40 in D&D dresses and cut 40 at the waist, 42 at the hip and 38 in the lower leg. The seam allowances are a generous 5/8″ so you have some fitting wiggle room; I always baste jeans up and try them on before before final sewing as each different denim means the fit will vary a little. I could also probably take a look at a few adjustments around the crotch and knees to fix some of those wrinkles. But I really like them proportionally – the rise length is great and there’s a nice curvy waistband that stays put on the low natural waist and doesn’t gape, despite there being no back yoke or darts.

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Pockets: The welted slash pockets are a nice detail that are interesting/challenging to sew and actually functionally easier to use than traditional curved jeans pockets. I’d recommend using a pocket lining fabric either with a similar stretch factor to your main fabric, or cutting your pocket lining pieces on the bias so they have some natural give. Using nonstretch cotton for lining can sometimes lead to weird distortion and drag marks, especially if you’re generous of hip like me.

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Fly: The included fly instructions are different to those I’ve seen before. I tried to follow them on my toile and didn’t like the result much – the zip was only just covered by the overlap – so I deferred back to my favourite Sandra Betzina method. Overall the instructions are clear and detailed but not too hand-holdy, which works for me.

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There’s lots more details and other tester versions of the Safran pattern on the Deer & Doe blog and they’re planning a series of tutorials and tips. From my point of view, if you like the adaptability of the style go to from jeans to pants, it’s a really nice versatile pattern. Just be sure to get streeeetchy fabric!

Olivia

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Another recent-ish addition to my summer wardrobe, this is a Style Arc Olivia dress I made a month or so ago. It’s about the simplest project you could imagine with its kimono sleeves, elastic waist and gently flared skirt. I always feel a bit lazy buying patterns like this, but the unfussiness means they actually get used more often than more unique or complex designs, so it’s definitely an economical purchase. It’s also a great canvas for pretty fabrics and ripe for a few design hacks.

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The proportions overall are really nice: I like how the slightly longer bodice blouses over the elastic waist, and the skirt’s the perfect fullness and flare – it’s another cycle-friendly gal. As Meg noted when she made her Olivia, the neckline as drafted is really quite wide and scoopy. I’ve actually got the facings safety-pinned to my bra straps to anchor it in place! Next time I’ll alter the flat pattern to make it a little snugger.

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A little design alteration I made was to do a deep baseball-style scoop at the hemline. I still haven’t actually hemmed the skirt – it’s just overlocked – because I’m a bit stuck on how to do it neatly with a fabric that likes to ripple and won’t take a nice press. I have a rolled hem foot which would be ideal but I’ve never got the hang of it; ditto a serged rolled hem. I’ll deal with it sometime. Or just wear it unhemmed forever…

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It was the perfect pattern to use my treasured self-designed French crepe fabric, printed by Contrado. Like all springy poly crepes it didn’t like to take a press very well, but it was mercifully non-shifty for cutting and sewing and feels great to wear. I wouldn’t hesitate to get more of their crepes printed with other designs.

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Considering how fast and simple this was to make, it got INSANE praise when I wore it to work today. I think every girl in the office commented on it, along with gaining boyfriend seal of approval. I’d better get designing more fabric and making it into more Olivias!

Another 80s jumpsuit

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The Summer of Jumpsuits continues – here’s one from a wee vintage pattern from 1981, Style 3304, that I got on eBay with the aim of recreating some of the camisole jumpsuits I’ve been Pinning like this and this.



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I cut a size 14 but had to take the bodice in a LOT, like 4 inches around the top. I’m not sure how it’d stay up on anyone with the amount of ease built in! The waistline is formed with an elasticated channel made by the seam allowances being pressed down and topstitched. I did consider leaving it loose and unelasticated like my Marigold but decided to add it here for wardrobe variety. I lopped a good 8 inches off the leg length too.

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The back is supposed to have a slit and be fastened with a button loop but I added an invisible zip so that I could make it fit snugger – I can’t stand when camisoles droop or gape. Next time I’ll re-cut the pattern down to a 10, the smallest in the packet.

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This fabric is a rayon crepe from The Fabric Store. Bit of a backstory here: After admiring The Fabric Store’s range from afar for so long, I finally did an order when there was a free shipping code, buying some baby pink merino, some galaxy printed silk and this rayon. On top of the expensive order I then had to pay a hefty customs charge, but luckily I loved all the fabrics enough to make it worthwhile when I got the package in my paws. Threw them all in a cold/handwash machine prewash together – then nearly burst into tears when I pulled them out and found that this rayon had bled navy ink both into itself, meaning some of the white lines are streaked with pale blue, and worse – all over the lovely powder pink merino jersey, leaving unsalvageable indigo tie-dye all over it. The Fabric Store were amazing about it and kindly sent me both replacement pink jersey and a bonus piece of green too. And after running the rayon through the wash a couple more times with colour catcher sheets I felt that I could use it. I cut around the worst parts of the dye leakage and you can’t really tell from far away that anything’s wrong.

Anywaaaay, the rayon crepe was a really nice match for this pattern and while it was a little shifty to deal with I love the result. So, happy ending to that saga. (I should also add in case you were wondering that The Fabric Store are partnering with some bloggers at the moment to send them fabric but that wasn’t the case with me – I paid out of my pocket!).

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I was considering this a wearbale toile both due to the imperfect fabric and testing a new-to-me pattern, but I’m glad I managed to hack around and end up with a pretty well-made and well-fitting garment. It was great to wear to work during the mini-heatwave a couple of weeks ago, and again works equally well for daytime, cycling and going out. I’m going to alter the bodice of the pattern to try and get the fit bang-on because getting a well-fitting camisole top is like the holy grail for my hollow-upper-chested self, then probably hack it into tops and dresses too.

Sewing Around the World: Schnittchen Mary trousers

Schnittchen Mary trousers

Today’s my turn to share my contribution to Schnittchen Patterns’ Sewing Around the World campaign: a blog tour of 12 sewists in 12 cities making 12 Schnittchen patterns. You can see the other bloggers and their projects, along with my project and a short interview with me, on the Schnittchen blog.

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I picked the Mary trousers, one of the new Summer 2016 patterns, a wide leg cropped pant with a gathered front, back darts and side and back pockets.

Schnittchen Mary trousers

We were given a store and budget to pick fabric, and I chose Rough Cut Arrows double gauze from The Village Haberdashery. It’s the first double gauze I’ve used that’s not made by Nani Iro: this one feels a little more substantial and stable so I think it was a very good match for summer pants. They’ll certainly never be crisp and tailored, but I like the slightly rumpled look and it’s sooo comfortable.

Schnittchen Mary trousers

Schnittchen Mary trousers

I sewed the pattern exactly as designed, except for moving the invisible zip fastening to the side seam instead of centre back. It’s the first Schnittchen pattern I’ve made and I was impressed by the fit, pattern packaging and instructions.

Schnittchen Mary trousers

I had to take a little wedge out of the straight waistband to fit my back but otherwise the fit was good right off. You can’t tell because the print camouflages them, but the back pocket shape is a bit more interesting than usual and the double darts give a good fit.

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We’re going through a heatwave in London right now so it’s too muggy to wear any sort of trouser (I changed back into shorts after the photos), but that won’t last forever!

Schnittchen Mary trousers

In the interest of whipping through sharing some other recent projects, here’s a closeup of the top too because I love it lots. It’s a modified (half-buttoned) vintage New Look 6250 in self-striped cotton voile from organiccotton.biz, one of my new favourite online stores. This is 100% heatwave-approved and has been seeing heavy rotation lately.