The silk that almost got the better of me

Hi everybody! How’s your Sunday going? I’m posting this with one eye on Game of Thrones (don’t worry, no spoilers) to bring you something I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while but just never got round to it. Part of my Me Made May pledge this year was to finally cut into some blue silk I’d bought from the Man Outside Sainsburys at Walthamstow Market last year. Well, I may not have blogged about it at the time, but I am still a woman of my word and I completed a new Sew Over It Alex shirt well before my 31 May deadline.

 

Front

Thought I’d change up the location today – this is the ground floor courtyard in my building and an attractive water feature.

I’ve covered the Alex dress and shirt before this year, so I won’t say much about the pattern – just assume that I made it in the same way, yes? You’d think that by my third attempt on a pattern everything would be plain sailing, but no! From start to finish, this Alex was a pain in the proverbial.

I had originally planned to make an Alex dress out of this, thinking I had bought more than I did. It turned out I only had 1.5m, so I had to settle for the shirt instead. Even then I had to do some pattern Tetris and single layer cutting to eke it out of the length. If that had been my only issue with the fabric I think I’d be ok with this make, but sewing it turned out to be a massive ball ache.

Side

I wanted to treat the fabric nicely, so I went out and bought sharp needles and some proper silk pins. Turns out I needn’t have bothered. The pins were super difficult to push through the layers, and when I tried sewing a scrap, my machine let out a big fat ‘nope’. I don’t think it managed to sew a single stitch. I tried several different needles and finally settled on a 70/10, which was the best of a bad bunch. The machine was still skipping stitches so I ended up taking things reeeeaaally slowly but there are a few places where I had to go over the seams more than once. All this made me wonder whether the Man Outside Sainsburys was mistaken in telling me it was a silk, but I did a burn test and it looks like he was telling me the truth.

Anyway, since the fabric and hardware weren’t playing ball, I figured that I’d probably have issues with sewing the buttonholes. I ended up only doing them on the button tabs and even then I had to unpick a few times. I didn’t want to risk it on the placket, so I ended up just sewing the buttons straight through. I can get it over my head without any bother so they don’t need to be functional.

Back

Despite my issues, I do still like the finished result. It was worth the extra effort to go slowly, I’m pleased with how it looks and it does feel nice to wear. Now that we’re in the middle of summer, it’s a little too warm for me to wear it right now, but I’m sure it’ll be in heavy rotation once the autumn arrives.

 

#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.

 

Cock-a-doodle-hen-do

Happy Sunday all! I’m taking a break from a massive clear out to bring you today’s post. We’re having a spring clean because on Friday we went to the American Embassy in London and had our visas approved! We now have around about a month to get our stuff together and get out to Seattle, which means a mad rush to sort things out.

Anyway, I’m here today on much more frivolous business. A few weeks ago, I had a rather belated hen do. Since Chris and I went from proposal to marriage in the space of six weeks, I didn’t really have time to have a hen do, so I decided to do it after the fact instead. I gave my bridesmaid a few stipulations (karaoke, a drink or two, and absolutely nothing that indicates we’re on a hen do – e.g. No willy straws or fluffy pink stetsons), but otherwise she had free rein. I was in the dark about what was happening until the day itself, and Gillian was being quite cagey about the dress code, so I figured I’d need something that would take me from day to night with ease.

The Alex shirt from the Sew Over It City Break e-book seemed to fit the bill nicely. I am having a major SOI fan girl moment. All I seem to make at the moment is their patterns. They do fit me nicely, and the patterns are all things I want to wear, so why not?

alex-front

The concept of the City Break book really appeals to me. I’ve been thinking about capsule wardrobes for a little while now, and with an impending move abroad, it sounds like an appealing idea. While I like all the patterns (apart from the Mia jeans – they’re a bit skinny for me), the Alex shirt was the one that stood out for me. It’s loose fitting, can be lengthened into a dress and has rolled up sleeves. These details make it a nice introduction to sewing shirts without too much hassle – no collar stand and no fiddly cuffs.

My Alex is made out of a lovely drapey rayon I’ve had in my stash for so long I can’t remember where it came from. I love the drape of rayon, but it can be difficult to cut out as it moves around a lot, so I cracked out the spray starch to help it stay put.

The pattern and instructions were really easy to follow. The only bit I found tough to get my head around was the enclosed yoke. I couldn’t work out how to twist it so that the inner yoke could be stitched nicely all in one and turned through. I got a bit confused and ended up with a Möbius strip instead of a yoke several times, so after one bout of unpicking I decided I’d pin and test first, which saved my tears.

alex-yoke

The fabric is quite busy, but I assure you this is the yoke and the pleat in the body.

My only other criticism of the instructions was about attaching the collar. It has you out the collar on before you sew the side seams. This struck me as a bit odd and turned things into a bit of a faff when you have slippery fabric flying about everywhere.

alex-front-close-up

The collar and almost invisible patch pockets. I also didn’t bother doing buttonholes as I can fit it over my head without any bother.

The fit’s pretty good. It’s supposed to be loose and relaxed, so I had plenty of space in a straight size 12 to fit my child-bearing hips (a pretty standard adjustment for me). I started doing the sleeve tabs but when I sewed them on, I realised they were too thin and positioned too far down the sleeve for my liking. I like rolled up sleeve to sit in the crook of my elbow, but these were more bracelet length which would just annoy me. So I left them off, and made a note to draft a thicker tab next time round.

alex-side

So how was the hen do? Well, I got my karaoke but I was also made the leader of a routine to I Wanna Dance With Somebody (video of which I hope will not see the light of day). We went out for dinner and then went for drinks and table football in Bar Kick in Shoreditch. I had rather a lot to drink but I was also the table football champion of my own hen do along with my friend Joanna. I don’t think they let us win…?