Category Archives: Finished items 2013

Reversible(ish) Raglan

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Feel like I haven’t shared a finished item in a while, so here’s one that’s kind of two in one. Plenty of excuses for my absence: busy with work, three concurrent colds, the house is all dark because we have scaffolding up so picture-taking is tricky… hence apologies that these look a bit rubbish. Anyway this is just a quick overlocker project in between the precision stitching of Josh’s shirt (I do enjoy oscillating between the two): a light raglan sweater using the beautiful double-faced knit I bought in Mood.

PA210893

Dixie DIY’s Hot Cocoa pattern is the basis, with some modifications that I already made on the pattern from last time: longer body, scooped neck, more ease in the sleeves. I also sliced across the top of the arm pieces and switched to the reverse side of the fabric for a contrast shoulder panel look. Really dig how this detail turned out.

PA210904

I really wanted this top to be completely reversible to show off both sides of the lovely fabric and give me two different looks in one. And it does kinda work inside-out if you don’t mind the exposed overlocked seams look? I tried to be a little too clever at first and do some weird French/flat fell hybrid seams that I thought might be truly reversible. In theory it did kind of work, but I didn’t add the inch extra seam allowance required so the raglan lines got too tight. Might revisit the idea in the future when I have more foresight to forward plan.

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The finishes are semi-reversible too. The neckline uses Megan Nielsen’s fold-over and twin-needle topstitch binding which I think gives a pretty nice RTW-inspired effect. For the sleeve hems I overlocked the outside edges then turned over the raw edge to the inside and topstitched so the rough edges are concealed inside. The bottom hem is simply rolled, although it went a bit wavy so I think I might forgo the reversability and do a twin-needled hem. A pretty basic make with some nice details = the kind of top I’ll wear all the time.

Coat – finished!

Coat

My coat’s finished! Just in time for autumn, by the looks of the impromptu photoshoot I took with my sister in the park this lovely afternoon. A bit lumpy, bumpy and imperfect it might be, but it turned out perfectly wearable – even a bit cute – so I’m calling it a win.

Coat
Coat
Coat

To recap, I started out with Burda’s Retro Short Coat pattern, but made a bunch of alterations. Briefly: I took all of the gathering out of the front yoke and some out of the back; shortened it; removed the lapels and collar; added a hood; added fastenings; and constructed the facings and linings totally differently. Thanks to my toile-ing the final sew went pretty smoothly; the only thing that didn’t go to plan is the bottom hem because I tried to do this jump hem technique without practicing first. It wound up too short and kind of bulky, although steaming and pressing helped a lot and it pretty much looks OK right? I wonder if topstitching would help it lie even flatter – might give it a go.

Coat

I’m pleased with how neat the welt pockets turned out (I invented a genius construction method involving chalk and sticky tape, which I’ll write up if anyone’s interested), less pleased how they ended up awkwardly close to the bottom due to aforementioned hemming woes. I shortened the pocket bags so at least they fit, but they’re stupidly small now. Wah.

Coat
Coat

Mmm, details. I like the buckles and magnetic hood snap a lot; as well as being practical additions I think they go a long way to making the coat look more professional. The buckles come with holes pre-punched so it was an easy task handsewing them on, though it took nearly a whole episode of Project Runway. The snaps just have prongs which push through the fabric and secure at the back.

Coat
Coat
Coat

I almost like the inside the best, especially the little hang loop and snazzy diagonal plaid across the yoke. I even pattern-matched the checks horizontally across the inner seams, how’s that for attention to detail? I mostly used Jen Grainline’s bagging tutorial to insert the lining but had to alter the process a bit to accommodate the hood. There’s just a few inches handsewn at the back neck, all the other seams were machine sewn from the inside.

Coat
Coat

I decided to tot up the costs (like Karen did for her coat) – here’s the breakdown:

  • Pattern, Burda Retro Short Coat: $5.40 / £3.40
  • Toile fabrics, Rolls & Rems and Ultimate Craft: ~£8 (some leftover)
  • Main fabric, Dalston Mill, 2.5m at £17.50: £43.75
  • Lining, Dalston Mill, 2m at £7.60: £15.20 (some leftover)
  • Gutermann thread and brushed cotton interfacing, Sew Essential: £11 (some leftover)
  • Buckles and magnetic snaps, bag-clasps.co.uk: £13

    Total: £94.35

    That’s probably more than I’d usually spend on a RTW coat because I’m a cheapskate, but in terms of a learning experience and getting a totally unique (albeit slightly wobbly) coat, I am happy with the investment.

    Coat
    Coat

    I think this coat might mark a turning point in my sewing, actually. Up until now I’ve considered myself in ‘training mode’: buying mostly cheap fabrics and rushing through constructions, not paying much attention to the overall finish and details in favour of fast gratification. For this coat I really took my time and enjoyed the process for what it was: a learning experience, a wealth of new techniques to master, an investment in time and materials. Certainly it showed I still have a long way to go, but it proved to myself that I am able to be patient and methodical and see how it pays off.

    Phew, essay over. Anyone else making a coat this year? I feel like this may not be my last.

  • Simple Smock Frock

    Smock dress

    I’m planning to finish up my coat this weekend (!!) but here’s a quick little frock in the meantime, bashed out in an afternoon.

    I was inspired by the Female mag space-print frock on the far-right here, but the pattern wasn’t included on the printed sheets. So I got my Frankenpattern hat on, and used the basic bodice and sleeves from Simplicity 1651 with a gathered rectangle skirt to get the same kind of silhouette.

    Smock dress
    Smock dress

    I shortened the bodice a little to get the empire line and cut the sleeves straight without tapering, gathering them at elbow length with a little band. They could have probably have done with being gathered a bit more as they’re quite loose, but I guess they work with the easy nature of this shape. I added basic side seam pockets too.

    Smock dress

    The fabric is a snuggly soft vintage cotton from The Shop on Cheshire Street, perfect for an autumnal frock.

    skirtgather

    Here’s a small tip I use for gathered rectangle skirts to avoid frumpiness from too much fabric bunched around the waist. I find it more flattering to leave a few inches at each side seam ungathered, so it doesn’t poof out with excess fabric all around. I sewed some elastic into the seam too to keep it from stretching out over time. I didn’t do this technique on my other Female dress and I feel it’s a bit dumpy around the waist as a result so I may redo it.

    Smock dress

    Worn today with a brown cardi, tights and boots, and I’m sure will be in regular autumn rotation.

    Paint by numbers Belladone

    Belladone dress

    Ah. Yes. It’s another summery print dress. So much for autumn-minded resolutions. But this fabric was calling to me and I was loath to resist!

    Belladone dress

    Aha, the giveaway back… yes, it’s a Belladone! I thought of this pattern immediately when I clapped eyes on this amazing Moda fabric – both are are a little kitsch and unexpected so I thought they’d be a fun match. Plus using stag print for a Deer & Doe pattern is a delightful coincidence, non? I bought the pattern, fabric and notions at lovely Ray Stitch – thank you Michelle for your help in the all-important fabric, zip, and bias tape selections.

    Belladone dress

    I suspected I’d be doing a bit of adjustment to make this pattern work for my body, and that was indeed the case. I ditched the waistband, shortened the bodice and skirt by about an inch, and gathered rather than pleated the front skirt. It just felt a bit more ‘me’ this way, and it was the right call as the result is super comfortable to wear.

    Belladone dress

    The back needed a bit of work too to reduce gaping around the cut-out: I elongated the darts almost to the top and tapered in the centre seam at the top. I could almost wriggle into the dress without the zip (the fabric has more give than other craft cottons), but added it anyway so I didn’t put stress on the seams. I did a machine blind hem instead of facing the bottom hem – first time trying that and it worked well, thanks in part to this tutorial.

    Belladone dress
    Belladone dress

    I took a little more care over my technique than usual. I bought extra fabric and tried to place the pattern thoughtfully, although it was tricky with such a large repeat so there is the odd disembodied stag head floating around. I haven’t done bias bindings since my very first dress so it was good to revisit that skill. I bound the pocket edgings too to bring them out a little more, although they ended up pretty small due to my fit-fiddling. Next time I will probably bind the back openings too for a really polished finish.

    Belladone dress
    Belladone dress

    I found the sewing process really fun. It was nice to sew a woven again after doing a lot with knits recently, and though I was nervous about using a craft cotton for a garment it worked out great in this instance. The Deer & Doe instructions are brilliant with just the right level of detail. My sister has already requested her own Belladone now, so I’m sure I’ll be giving this lovely pattern another whirl soon.

    Saltspring dress

    I really liked the look of Sewaholic’s new Saltspring dress after seeing Lauren’s take on it. The idea of making a bloused effect bodice by cutting a shorter lining seemed smart, and I thought I’d better get on and make it before the British summer goes for good.

    Saltspring dress

    I used a £3 remnant that I got from Chapel Market at the same time as my pussybow dress fabric. Luckily this one is slightly nicer quality, but it was only just big enough and I had to omit the pockets due to running out of yardage. Its gauzy lawn-type weight was a good match for the pattern and it was pretty easy to work with. The ditsy floral isn’t really my usual taste but the muted colours make it less girly-girly.

    Saltspring dress

    I was impressed by the Sewaholic pattern, the first I’ve made from Tasia’s line: the instructions were very clear and the pieces all slotted together effortlessly. I love the neat self-lined bodice with the strap ends enclosed. Like some other testers I can slip the dress on and off quite easily without using the zip so could have omitted it.

    Saltspring dress

    The only amend I made was to change the tie-top straps because I didn’t want the overall look to be too fussy given the busy print. Instead I made four spaghetti straps for a double-strap effect at each shoulder. Unfortunately I didn’t eyeball the length very well and when I tried on the dress I realised they needed to be shortened considerably to avoid the bodice drooping unflatteringly.

    Saltspring dress

    Since the ends were already neatly enclosed I popped a couple of bra-strap rings into the back instead. It almost looks purposeful?! Also thanks to the snug lining I can go braless, avoiding another strap on show.

    Saltspring dress

    I’m not sure how flattering this dress is on me, though. It looks ok from the front, especially belted, but I really don’t like the view from the back – my slightly curved spine does weird things to the blousing with the split and it looks pretty unfortunate. I might tack down the edges over the zip since I don’t need it anyway. Or cut the whole zip out and seam the back? Next time I’d make a non-bloused no-zip version, which would make for a very quick little sundress sew.

    Edit to add: I took out the zip and stitched up the back this evening, and it looks a lot neater from the rear now. I really like the split detail in the pattern, but it’s just not for my weird old back.

    Oh and look, I bought a little me-shaped mannequin :D

    Midcentury Mashup dress

    Midcentury mashup dress

    I think my favourite part of sewing is matching fabrics to patterns. When I clapped eyes on this beautiful print I knew exactly what it was destined to be, and even better, no new pattern purchase was needed as it’s a Frankenpattern of two already in my library.

    Midcentury mashup dress

    It’s a mash-up of Simplicity 1651 and 1800, used previously here and here. The twist front bodice is a variant of 1651 and I reckoned its Fifites style would be a good match for the print. Gratuitous close-up:

    Midcentury mashup dress

    It was really fun to put together, with an ingenious method for attaching the shell, lining (yes, it’s lined! Sewing bucket list tick) and centre piece with no visible seams. As I was sewing it I thought that it would make a really cool back bodice piece too, even without the centre piece for a cut-out look.

    Midcentury mashup dress

    Having sewed both patterns before I knew to make a couple of fit modifications. I shortened the bodice by an inch to hit my natural waist, and took about 3 inches off the top of the skirt so that the pockets sit higher up.

    Midcentury mashup dress

    It was super easy to merge the two patterns since the construction is the same: I just made sure that the width of the skirt and bodice matched up when I put in the darts and pleats. It’s just maybe an inch too large on the waist, but I’d rather play it safe with woven fabrics.

    Midcentury mashup dress

    I’m generally pleased with my workmanship here for once. Look at that tidy invisible zip!

    Midcentury mashup dress

    The fabric, ah the fabric. I’m in LOVE. It was another £2.99/m Minerva bargain but this time the cheap fabric wheel of fortune landed in my favour: it feels so lovely, sewed up well, and oh my the print and colours. Midcentury heaven with a hint of Cubism? In my head, if I was ever on Project Runway (all sewists imagine this at one point or another don’t they?) this would be my final collection’s signature print. It feels so very me.

    Midcentury mashup dress

    This dress also got me thinking about something that Tilly touched on in a recent post regarding curating a personal style via the items you sew. It’s something I find difficult because I’m so drawn to lots of different fabrics and patterns right now – I’m just a kid in the proverbial and I want to sew all the things. But once my technique is better and I learn what I actually wear regularly I hope I can start curate a sense of cohesion in the items I sew, and create a pulled-together ‘look’ for myself as a result. I’m in admiration of bloggers who seem to have this nailed, such as Tilly herself, Ami, Anna and Andrea amongst lots more.

    sewstudio

    To help me stay on track, I made a Sewing Studio page of all my makes. I love seeing these on other sewists’ blogs to get an idea of their personal style and I think it will be helpful for me to shape my consistency. I feel like this dress is a good step in the right direction: its sludgy tones, graphic pattern and interesting details are a good basis for a checklist of ‘What Katie Sews And Will Probably Wear A Lot’. Does anyone else try to curate a personal style via their makes?