Why I don’t Love Sewing

Wow, that’s quite a revelation for a headline, isn’t it? Don’t worry, I’m still attached to my sewing machine, but I’m going to spout some opinion today, so strap yourself in.  I will prefix this by saying I’ve been stewing for a couple of days wondering whether to post this or not. There’s so much positivity in the sewing community that it feels weird to be posting something critical – I’ve tried hard to be constructive so I’m sorry if it doesn’t come across that way.

I went back to the UK for a wedding last weekend and while killing time in Heathrow I picked up the latest issue of Love Sewing (no. 41 – June/July 2017). I was looking forward to a good read, but I ended up disappointed and exasperated.

Front cover

Don’t get me wrong, there’s much to like in Love Sewing. Since it’s been under the leadership of Amy of Almond Rock, there’s been more focus on bloggers and the online sewing community. It’s great to see familiar faces sharing their makes alongside experts like Alison Smith or Wendy Gardiner. There’s always at least something I’d like to make in each edition and when I have made something it’s turned out well thanks to some great instructions. I also really like The Dressmaker’s Diary series by Elisalex from By Hand London. She’s an engaging writer and when I’ve tried her projects they’ve always been well thought out and clearly explained.

But reading through the latest issue, I found myself wanting to cover it in red pen. Many of the articles and features look like they haven’t been proof-read or are so poorly written I wanted to do a complete redraft. The A Brief History of Shoes piece is a case in point. It sounded like the unnamed author was paraphrasing the only source cited, a book analysing the Victoria and Albert Museum’s extensive shoe collection.  It would have been great to see an interview with an expert to give a little more colour to the information. There’s a detailed description of a boot but no photo – I reckon most won’t know what a Louis heel looks like, so why not show us?  Two paragraphs are given over to contemporary designers, but don’t explain what is it about their design that makes their shoes so different and so covetable. I know it’s difficult to fit such a broad subject into the word limit, but it felt like the author went into almost too much detail in some places, but not enough in others.

Shoes

Another example is the book review section, In the Good Books. This month it’s an interview with Jenniffer Taylor, a former contestant on the Sewing Bee, to promote her new book Girl with a Sewing Machine. The only reason I know this is because there’s a picture of the book on the page – it’s barely mentioned in the rest of the piece. The article’s subheading is “Our pick of this month’s new sewing and dressmaking books” but the interview fails to tell us much about the book. It’s more of a catch up with Jenniffer and what she’s done since her time on the programme. There’s all sorts I’d like to know about the book, like what patterns are included or whether it’s suitable for beginners or more advanced sewists, but this basic information just isn’t covered.

In the good books

Elsewhere there are basic spelling and grammar errors that any sub editor should spot, which makes me wonder who’s proofing before it goes to print. For example, a picture story on pastel colours came with a 55-word introduction with a poorly constructed opening sentence littered with grammatical errors. I know from experience that spelling mistakes (e.g. “concious” instead of “conscious” on page 64) can be easy to miss in your own work, but most publishing programmes include a spell checker and you would expect an issue to go through several rounds of checks before going to print.

 

Pastel colour story

I did take my red pen to this one.

I also find the way the content is organised rather confusing. I don’t like the way projects are interspersed with articles seemingly at random (though I accept this may just be a matter of personal taste). I’d prefer separate sections for things like projects, skills, community news, inspiration and reviews – at least that way things would be easier to find. The shoes piece is the first big story you come across in the magazine, making it essentially the lead article but it’s not even advertised on the front cover. A few pages further on there’s a piece about the free gift this month (McCall’s 7536 – a dress) followed by a blogger review, but the two are separated by an advert over a double page spread. Admittedly I don’t know much about where adverts should go, but I would have thought it sensible to keep articles on the same subject in the same group of pages.

I could go on but I think I’ve made my point. Perhaps I have too much time on my hands and am reading too much into this, but when you compare it to other magazines I just think Love Sewing could be so much better. It seems that the money goes to pay for the free gift rather than the actual quality and content of the magazine, and that’s a real shame. If we’re paying £6.99 for an issue, we should expect more. Love Sewing is available here in the US, but based on this last issue I’m unlikely to buy it regularly unless the free pattern is worth having.  What do you think? Which magazines get it right?

#sewtogetherforsummer: part two

Are you sick of shirt and shirt dress posts yet? I hope not, cos here’s another one! I like a fitted shirt dress, but I’m finding myself increasingly drawn to slouchier shapes, so I thought I’d have a bash at the Alex shirt dress from the Sew Over It City Break ebook. I’ve already made two versions of the shirt (one here and one as-yet unblogged) with great success, so it was definitely time to make the dress for the summer, and in time for the Sew Together for Summer deadline on 21 June too!

Front

I might add an extra button at the bottom there – that might just get indecent.

The fabric is a lovely mint green chambray from Threadbare Fabrics, a denim specialist in LA (I think they’re online only though). I love chambray – I love how stitches look on it, presses beautifully and pretty much succumbs to your every whim. This one is no different, but it has a linen-y feel rather than a more closely woven chambray.

Side

You can see the high-low hem detail here – the only real difference (apart from the length) between the shirt and dress pattern.

One of the things I like about the Alex dress/shirt is that it is so slouchy I don’t need to make any alterations to accommodate my rear. According to the sizing chart I should grade up two sizes at the hips, but the finished measurements told me I wouldn’t need to. Yay for no extra work! Having said that though, I did think it would end up a bit long especially with the high-low hem that is more pronounced than on the shirt version. I took off two inches, but if/when (let’s face it, I’m making another) I make it again I’ll add an inch back on. This dress is fine for casual, but it’s a bit short for summer office for my personal taste.

Button tab

So pleased with the button tabs – so crisp!

I said in my previous Alex post that I found the order of construction a bit odd. If you follow the instructions to the letter you should put the collar after completing the yoke but before sewing the side seams. That just seems a bit weird to me – you have fabric flying everywhere so why not make it easier for yourself? I also completed the button tabs in full before sewing up the sleeves. It struck me as easier to insert a buttonhole on the tab before attaching it to the sleeve, as well as popping the button on the other side. This meant that I wasn’t faffing about with hand sewing and manipulating a whole dress around the machine when I was basically sewing on an extremity.

Anyway, this dress is ace, and I am pretty taken with it. It does need a belt (uncinched it looks like a cross between a nightgown and surgical scrubs) but I would pretty much always wear one with a shirt dress anyway. It’ll see a lot of action over the coming months. Yay!

Back

In the background to the right – that’s a HAMMOCK! Will be staking my claim on the next sunny day.

 

On the cutting table: June

So I spent most of yesterday glued to the UK election coverage. There were snacks and Dimbleby. It was awesome. While I’m worried about what the Tory/DUP coalition will bring, how long it will last and what effect that will have on Brexit, I’m suddenly more optimistic for Labour. Fingers crossed they can continue to put aside their differences and form the effective and coherent opposition that’s been MIA for too long. I hope my optimism lasts…

Anyway, let’s put the hot takes to one side and talk about sewing instead! The weather is definitely on the turn here in Seattle. The rain finally seems to be abating and it seems like summer might just be on the way. And of course, I have not prepped for this at all! This months plans are basically panic represented through the medium of sewing.

Despite not finishing my quilt last month (I didn’t want to swathe myself in a duvet in the summer, sorry not sorry), I did manage to make four things in May, so I’m sticking to the four items rule:

  • One day I looked at my duvet cover and decided that it would look awesome as a pair of pyjamas. As you do. So I bought another and the Closet Case Patterns Carolyn pj pattern and decided that would be a good idea. As all I have are winter pjs, these will be short in the leg and the sleeve and if Chris is lucky he may get a pair too (obvs done in a man’s pattern).
  • Running tights. I’ve recently taken up running again and I have a problem with tights. If I choose a size to fit my waist, the leg seams cut into my legs causing unsightly bulges. If I choose a size to fit my legs, they’re too big round the waist and end up falling down as I run, which is a bad look. I’m going to try the Seamwork Aries leggings, with the intention of grading to fit my weird body.
Aries leggings

Source. I wish I was this bendy.

  • I love the new Penny dress from Sew Over It (available via their PDF Club at the moment, but launching IRL later this month I think). Of course I would. It’s by Sew Over It and it’s a shirt dress. I’ve ordered some lovely rayon from Hart’s Fabric that I can’t wait to sew up, cos it will be super cool and lightweight. Bring it on.
  • Sub point. The Penny dress looks suspiciously similar to the current SOI sewalong in Simply Sewing in the UK. If you’ve already bought the magazine you could probably hack it into a Penny by shortening the skirt and lopping off the sleeves. Just sayin’.

What are you making this month?

You’d give me a job, right?

Morning all! I’ve got a morning of shorts-toiling planned (toile and toil are so close, aren’t they?), so I’m coming at you early doors to share an outfit that’s been sitting in my blog queue for a bit too long.

At some point, I’m going to get a job here in Seattle. However, there’s no sign of that work permit coming through just yet and boredom is beginning to set in. That doesn’t stop me from making interview and work-appropriate clothing though! Truth be told, I didn’t sew either of these pieces with jobs in mind, but I think the outfit would work nicely for a summer office wardrobe.

Front

More roof porn. I love the roof. Had my dinner up there last night and everything.

The blouse is the Ultimate Shirt by Sew Over It and is one of my May makes. I’ve been hankering after a plain white shirt for so long. I think they’re a great basic – they layer well, they can be smart or casual and look super-crisp.

I managed to squeeze the class in before leaving the UK and I’m so glad I did because I learned so much about shirt construction. The shirt is fitted (thanks to Julie at SOI for helping out with that) and has bias bound cuffs and a collar stand to get to grips with. The only feature it doesn’t have is a lined yoke, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those on a fitted shirt (please prove me wrong though!).

Cuff close up

Here’s a close-up of that bias-bound cuff. You could add top stitching to the cuff itself, but I think it doesn’t need it here. I’m most likely to wear it with sleeves rolled up anyway, cos I’m ready to get stuck in. Obvs.

I’ve made three versions of this so far (pictured below) but this particular version is in some cotton shirting I picked up at District Fabric not long after I arrived. It was generally beautiful to sew with, though I will admit that it was possibly a little bit too thick for the French seams I attempted as my machine struggled a bit. We got there in the end, but I’d overlock throughout if I was doing it again. No matter – I’m really pleased with the finished effect and think it looks properly smart. Obviously, given my current obsession with shirts and shirt dresses, I’ve got another planned – this time in a floaty red rayon. Can’t wait.

Red ultimate shirt

This is the one I made in the class. That’s Atelier Brunette cotton lawn, which is lovely!

Blue ultimate shirt

My second one is in blue cotton lawn and this is an awkward photo taken at the Seattle Symphony Hall while waiting for Russell Howard to start (he was awesome).

The other half of the outfit is a long-overdue revisit of the Colette Zinnia skirt (V2). I first made this a few years ago and ended up throwing it across the room in frustration at my inability to insert an invisible zip. While I eventually ended up loving the skirt and wearing it all the time, it bit the dust earlier this year so it didn’t make it to Seattle. Not a bad excuse to make a new one though, eh?

Back

The back. The only thing that is wrong here is I think I put the button band on the wrong side. It just feels wrong when I do it up. Oh well.

I don’t have much to say about the construction, other than I have now conquered my fear of invisible zips. This one went in with no issues. First time! The real star of this skirt is the fabric, though. It’s a pink chambray that I picked up in the Village Haberdashery before leaving the UK. Nowt special about that, you might say, but this one SPARKLES! It’s got gold thread woven through it so it’s got a lovely sheen which screams summer to me. Unfortunately the photos don’t pick up on the sparkle, but I assure you it is there.

If you’re a long-term reader of this blog, you’ll know that I love versatile separates. These fit the bill perfectly. I’ll wear both of them throughout the summer, and if/when I get that work permit, they’ll be ready for interviews/office work at the drop of a hat. Anyone want to employ me?! (pleeeeeaaaasssseee?)

Side

Thinking of making this my Linked In pic tbh.

 

How I got on with Me Made May 2017

Here we are in June, so it’s time for that Me Made May round up I’ve been putting off!

This year I wasn’t sure how I’d get on – at least half of my me-made stuff is for work and as I am currently a lady of leisure my casual wardrobe needed to stretch further. I pledged to do five days a week, and I managed it without really trying that hard. Yes, there were a few repeats, but that’s just a reflection of how much I like those particular clothes (I’m looking at you, stripy Scout tee). I’m also a bit pleased that I managed to wear a mix of things – the weather here has run the full gamut of wet and windy to oh so very hot, so I’ve managed to bust out a summer dress or two as well as stuff for cooler temperatures.

So what did I learn? Well, I’m pretty obsessed with shirts and shirt dresses at the moment (you’re gonna be sick of seeing them over the next few posts) and I have a gaping trouser/short-shaped hole in my wardrobe. Not just amongst my me-made stuff. I have three pairs of jeans that I wear all the time, and that’s great from autumn through to spring, but I could do with something lighter for the summer. Shorts ahoy!

In general, I was pretty good at posting photos on Instagram every day, but I definitely petered out in the last few days. Here’s a quick round-up of my faves from the last few weeks.

5 Sew Over It Alex shirt stars

Alex shirt from week one

 

Deer and Doe Chardon

I went almost the entire month without doing a mirror selfie – this one, of my first Chardon, was from last weekend.

Deer and Doe Datura

We have a blackboard wall in our flat (because why not?) and this is one of my Deer & Doe Daturas.

Stripy scout

This stripy Scout tee is the most worn of the month – at least three times – which means it was constantly in the wash.

Ultimate shirt and Cressida skirt

There’s a post on this one coming up soon – I’ve made three So Over It Ultimate shirts since February and this white one is the shirt of my dreams. The skirt is the Jennifer Lauren Cressida.

Zig Zag scout

Scouts were a big feature of my month. This one also got worn several times cos it’s awesome and the print is funky.

The second part of my pledge was to finally cut into the silk I got last year from the Man Outside Sainsburys. My original plan was a Sew Over It Alex shirt dress, but I didn’t have enough to do it, so it ended up as just the shirt. I need to take photos of it, but it’s made and ready to be posted soon! Well done me.

Did you take part in Me Made May? What did you learn?