Category Archives: Finished items 2020

Isolation-fit: Strathcona & Philippa

I’ve made this entire outfit over the last week: I guess self-isolation was the kick needed to get back into sewing and even my extremely-long-neglected knitting habit. Desperate times…!

The trousers are a second pair of Anna Allen Philippa Pants – first pair here, which I wear an awful lot, so decided to recreate in a different colour of similar fabric – in this case, beautiful Coffee Bean Jumbo Cord from Merchant & Mills.

This fabric has a lot less stretch than my first pair, but I have lost some weight over the last few months, so I cut the same size as before with all my prior adjustments. I had to take in the side seams a little more once constructed to get the close fit I was after. I’m getting similar wrinkles all over the back leg to last time which may mean that a low butt or full back thigh adjustment is needed next time.

Like last time I added a stay into the front and swapped the button fly for a simple zip. I followed Charlie’s recent tutorial for getting a sharp corner on the waistband: I’ve done this so many times now but it’s always good to sense-check your approach with how someone else gets good results, and I like the simple steps she recommends a lot.

The sweater is the famous and much-loved Strathcona by Good Night Day. Fun fact, I used to be an extremely prolific knitter in my early 20s but it really fell by the wayside once I got into sewing – I just don’t have the patience to see a long project through and I’ve eagerly started many sweaters in the interim years only to abandon them partway. However the Strathcona is both super-chunky and very small (thanks to the shrunken fit and 3/4 sleeves) and literally worked up so fast that I didn’t have time to run out of steam once. I had it finished over a week of very casual knitting sessions and it really just worked up in front of my eyes.

I feel like while I still have the basic muscle memory for knitting and can follow instructions with ease, I have lost a lot of finesse with getting good tension and techniques, so the sweater isn’t that amazingly well made. In particular I’m annoyed that the M1 technique I used (the pattern doesn’t give a specific technique) has left uneven lacy holes down the raglan armsyces which I’d prefer would look solid – I’m wearing a black tee underneath here as it looks pretty weird otherwise. I did a pick-up-and-knit-tbl but I think kfb would have been better.

I made the smaller size of the pattern and I like the fit being a bit snugger than how it looks in the pattern photos and on other people. I tried it on regularly (the joys of top-down knitting) to check the body and sleeve length and ended both with a deeper layer of ribbing than in the pattern (12 rows instead of 4). The yarn is Debbie Bliss Roma, a chunky wool/alpaca blend which I bought from LoveCrafts – I only used 4 balls!

The pants are the first project I’ve completely sewn on my new machine by the way – I was lucky enough to get a Pfaff Ambition 630 for my birthday back in January. It coped more than admirably and I will be writing up some more detailed thoughts on the machine soon if you’re interested. Here’s to more isolation-sewing, and maybe even knitting…

Oh, Vienna

I made this dress as a bit of an impulsive palate-cleanser, for my birthday drinks last week and using some fabric I’d only bought the night previous!

The pattern is the Fibre Mood Vienna dress which was kindly sent to me by them as part of their pattern-preview blogger network. (It was back in September so it’s hardly a preview any more though, ha ha.) I was drawn to the chuck-on easiness of the style and am feeling like after a long period of very trouser-centric dressing I might want to try bringing some more dresses back into wardrobe rotation.

I picked my size according to the measurements chart and the fit turned out well. The shoulder draft of the bodice is particularly nice and the skirt is slim but with ample hip space. The only tweaks I made were to take about 3 inches of length off the skirt and to swap the overlaps so both the bodice and skirt have the left side as the overlap rather than right/left offset, I don’t know why but it just looked better to me this way (although it works really well as designed in the striped sample).

The digital pattern overall is a nice package – you download the PDF and the instructions separately from the Fibremood site and they are clear and comprehensive in measurements, fabric requirements etc. I struggled a bit assembling the PDF pattern as the pieces aren’t super well-marked, and bear in mind you do need to add your own seam allowances – this is a bonus for me but I know some don’t like it. I did not really follow the instructions and deviated slightly in both the sequence of sewing and some techniques – I did the bias facing differently and also made a channel for the waistline elastic instead of sewing it directly onto the seam allowance.

This fabric though, right?! I got it from the New Craft House who have just expanded their workshop space due to getting a massive new shipment of amazing fabrics, all of which are deadstock (unused leftovers from the fashion industry). This is an ex-designer viscose with this incredible Roman busts print and I’m afraid to say I got the very last of the roll, however keep your eye on NCH’s site and Instagram as they have a ton more amazing prints from the same designer that they will either be putting online or selling IRL. This slightly beefy but still drapey viscose was a great match for this pattern, however I could have been a bit more careful to avoid the slightly rippled hems along the fronts – I was rushing a bit.

I made a tie belt last minute to hide the elastic waist but I think it looks okay either with or without it. This dress definitely has spring/summer vibes to me: although I did persevere and wear it with tights and boots I can’t wait to wear it bare-legged when the weather warms up.

Thanks to Fibremood for the Vienna pattern and New Craft House for a discount on the fabric!

Nenuphar 3, winter coat edition

So to start with some tragic news for this first new year post: I lost my latest Lysimaque Nenuphar jacket at my work’s Christmas party. After less than a month of enjoying it, it got swallowed by a karaoke room and I had no luck with the establishment’s lost property the next day. I’m really quite sad, I loved that jacket. Although at least on the plus side, the fabric was not expensive and it didn’t take too long to make so I’m pretty sure I will whip up a duplicate come spring.

And on another plus side, it gave me a kick to make a coat that’s a bit more appropriate to the current weather… using the very same pattern yet again.

To make the Nenuphar pattern cosy-coat-appropriate, I simply added even more length at the hem (the side seams are completely straight so it really doesn’t matter where the length is added). The total from armsyce to hem is 27″ for this one which is a nice knee length on me.

I adore the huge pockets on this pattern, and like my previous version I placed the baby pockets asymmetrically for some visual interest. The little one perfectly holds my iPhone and the big one holds my iPad – not that I walk around laden with Apple swag, but I’ve definitely loaded them up with assorted groceries when I’ve forgotten a reusable shopper bag.

I used a gorgeous charcoal wool from Woolcrest Textiles, a bargain as ever at £10/m. It’s kinda like a smooth, thick felted texture; the edges don’t unravel at all so I left the seam allowances raw and didn’t turn back the edges on the facings, which saved on bulkiness.

Neckline/placket facing, topstitched down

I decided to rework the collar area by drafting a neckline and button placket facing rather than the tricky way the pattern has you finish the collar by tucking the seam allowances under and aligning the edges perfectly with the top of the button placket – I felt I had no chance getting that neat and tidy in a bulkier fabric. My facing idea worked beautifully and was much easier to sew – it’s topstiched in place all around the neckline and down the fronts to the hem.

The nice marbled buttons are from Liberty: I confess I started wearing the coat before I’d added them (and took the picture above) but that meant I could wear the coat to go and pick the buttons out so I knew they’d match, hah.

Here’s a nice relevant picture of it in front of a tailor’s shop window in Marylebone at the weekend to finish. And I might just add a ‘return to’ address label to the inside so there’s more chance of getting it back if there’s karaoke shenanigans in its future.