My top five hits of 2017

Hi everyone! We’re two weeks away from a new year, so I’m emerging from my mince pie coma to review the old one, following Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow’s Top Five series. I might not have finished my sewing for this year just yet (I am panic sewing shorts for my trip to Hawaii next week. Did I mention I’m going to Hawaii? I can’t wait), but this year has been particularly busy for me, sewing-wise. I’ve made a grand total of 32 garments for myself, plus a giant quilt, and I’ve taken on projects that pushed my skills a little.

Looking back, this has definitely been the year of the tried n’ true (TNT) pattern for me. I fell in love with just about every pattern I tried and made multiple versions of them all. So let’s take a look at the five patterns I just couldn’t quit in 2017.

Deer and Doe Plantain top

This year I think I finally got over my fear of knits. Rather than faffing about with zigzag stitches on my sewing machine, I tried out sewing on my overlocker instead. And do you know what? It was pretty simple. I only made the Plantain for the first time a month or so ago, but it’s fast become a favourite, and I’ve made two more since (yet to be blogged). It’s a straightforward sew and I like the relaxed fit through the waist which makes it great with jeans – basically the basic t-shirt of my dreams.

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Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes

Oh my Winslow culottes, how do I love thee? Seattle gets a reliable hot summer (more than hot enough for me, anyway), and I wanted something that would help me stay cool AND combat the dreaded chub rub. The Winslows in rayon were the perfect solution. Soft, flowy and a reasonably quick make. When you’re doing your best to stay out of the heat, minimal time at the iron is key. I wore my Winslows throughout the summer, and when I accidentally ruined my first pair, I made another straight away.

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Closet Case Patterns Carolyn PJs

The Carolyns were another response to the heat. I only brought flannel pjs with me when we moved, so I needed something a bit lighter to sleep in. One day it occurred to me that my duvet cover would make a perfect classic pjs, so I hit Ikea up and got cracking on the summer version (with shorts and short-sleeved top). And they’re awesome. So light and comfortable! Turns out that a queen-sized duvet is a bountiful source of fabric, so I made the long pants for autumn/winter and some PJs for Chris with the excess. I also had a go at inserting piping for the first time and now I want to put it on everything.

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Sew Over It Penny dress

When Sew Over It released the Penny dress back in June it was love at first sight. I was having a major shirt/shirtdress phase, and the Penny scratched an itch for a smart summer dress with buttons and a collar. I made a couple of versions in rayon and despite a tantrum over a wonky hem, I love them to death. Whenever I wear my Pennys, I spend most of my time twirling about in them.

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Sew Over It Alex shirt/shirt dress

When I say I had a shirtdress moment this year, maybe I should expand it to include anything with a  button. I made so many shirts and shirtdresses in 2017 it’s ridiculous, but I think the Alex shirt was my first make of the year. I made it in a bit of a panic in time for my hen do (which happened after I got married, but that’s another story), and this version in black rayon has been my go-to casual going out top ever since. It’s so cute! It’s got enough space in it that I can easily get it on over my head without buttons, and I love the relaxed look – it looks good tucked or untucked. I’ve since made the shirt dress version in a chambray, another shirt in blue silk and I have another on my sewing table right now.

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We got a better camera in May, so my photos suddenly got marginally better. 

 

 

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Against the clock

Hi everybody! I’m back in the US after a bit of a whirlwind weekend in the UK. I’d been looking forward to this weekend for a long time – my oldest friend Chloe got married and asked me to do a reading at the wedding. I was delighted to be involved in the day – it was a lovely, laid-back do, with lots of joy and laughter. Chloe and James looked truly happy and it was the best start to married life they could have hoped for.

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The happiest of couples. 

Anyway, I wanted to make my outfit, but I knew I didn’t want to make a party dress. I’ve got a few of those and I never wear them, plus autumn in the UK is a tricky time to dress for. Separates were the answer. I’m still really enjoying the whole 1930s-extra-in-Poirot look, so I wanted something drapey and a bit sophis. The Winslows were a good bet – quick and easy to make and with the Sew Over It Anderson Blouse for the top, I thought it’d be a pretty good outfit.

Naomi warned me about the Anderson Blouse earlier this month as she’d seen some negative reviews around the internet, so I erred on the side of caution and made a muslin. The hem is super wide and is gathered in with a ribbon, but I left this out as I’d be tucking it in anyway, so I just cut a size 12 and had plenty of room for my hips. As it turned out, the only alteration I made was to shorten the sleeves by an inch. Looking at the photos I think I’ll take off more – the cuffs aren’t snug to the wrist so they look a bit long without any wrist puff action.

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These photos aren’t the best – snatched pre-dinner by my mum on her point and shoot camera. I should have taken mine but it was too much for my luggage. Instead, let’s admire that flamingo fabric! It’s rayon from Harts Fabric (still in stock I think). 

I did have a few issues with the instructions. The pictures aren’t all that clear and I fudged the neckline bias binding. It wasn’t clear which side you’re supposed to attach it to, so I guessed that it should face the inside. The pattern piece is about two inches wide, but I think it ended up about a quarter of an inch wide when stitched. I’m obviously doing something wrong there, and I can’t work out what it is. Not a major problem, as I’m happy with what I’ve managed, but I’d like to know how to do it right!

My other issues with my final version were of my own making. I sat down to make it on Wednesday. I was due to fly on Thursday. I’m not a speed-sewist and for good reason. In my haste to get things done I sewed the hem end to sleeve end, right sides together, and then overlocked it, resulting in a weird Mobius strip of a seam. I didn’t notice my mistake until I went to set the sleeve in and realized that it wasn’t going to happen. I wanted to finish it off that night, but with a Girl Scout meeting to get to and some serious unpicking to sort out, it was going to be a race to the finish instead.

Mistake

Yeah. Completely wrong. 

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I finished it on Thursday morning with just enough time to pack, shower and get to the airport. It was stressful. I sewed the cuff poppers the wrong way round on one side. Moral of the story: don’t leave things to the last minute.

The pants

I’m now four pairs of Winslow culottes in and I don’t really have much to say about them anymore, construction-wise. I will say, however, that these are not quite how I envisioned them. I had three metres of flowy black triple crepe in my stash that would have been perfect for these, but it’s a shame that it was IMPOSSIBLE to sew with. I tried just about every needle in my pot and not one could produce two stitches together. I gave up and hit my local JoAnn store in a panic, ending up with thicker crepe that was much better behaved.

I thought I would make a full length pair, but with the super-wide leg I looked like a cross between MC Hammer and Morticia Addams. I asked Chris for his opinion: “Well, they’re certainly a statement, aren’t they?” Thanks, sweetheart, that’s very diplomatic. I lopped seven or eight inches off the bottom to show off my shoes instead.

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SO VERY WIDE LEGS. I wouldn’t normally go this wide (my bum looks huge), but it was fun swanning about in them all day.

It was probably the right decision as I had a number of lovely compliments about my outfit from other wedding guests throughout the day. The venue, Kirklinton Hall, is basically a ruin with a roof (think Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre, after Bertha burns it down), so a lot of it is open to the elements, but I was warm enough all day, AND I didn’t have to worry about sudden gusts of wind exposing my pants to all and sundry. Win.

So yeah, none of this outfit went according to plan, but in the end I’m pleased with what I achieved, and that I’ve got a couple of pieces with more mileage than a party dress.

Kirklinton Hall

Thornfield, I mean Kirklinton Hall.

 

 

Rayon and on and on

If I remember 2017 for anything, sewing-wise, I think it’ll be my year of obsession. I’ve been going nuts for shirts and shirt dresses, and if I can make them in rayon then that’s just perfection in a project. I’m feeling the need to try something different now, but before I put my obsession to bed I thought I’d have one last hurrah.

The one piece of fabric I wanted to get out of my stash was this BEE-YOO-TIFUL rayon that I bought from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco on a trip in June. That place is amazing, but it ain’t cheap. I could have come away weighed down with all sorts of fabric goodness, but at the same time I didn’t want to bankrupt myself, so I set myself a two-yard limit. I think I made the right choice cos I’d pull this rayon out of my stash every now and then just to stroke it. Anyway, I wanted to sew it up straightaway, but the colours and the pattern are more autumnal than summery to me.  Now that we’re definitely switching seasons here, its time has come.

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Back to the roof today. We had to dodge the showers to get these photos.

I’ve loved wearing my Sew Over It Ultimate Shirts, but I’ve made them all out of crisp cotton so I fancied seeing what it was like in something a bit floatier (spoiler: it’s awesome). The Ultimate Shirt is supposed to be fitted, with long vertical darts on the front and back, but I left them out this time to maximise the floof around the waist. I think it works – this fabric should be free to drape and float, so who am I to refuse it?

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Since this is my fourth version of this pattern and I’ve pretty much nailed the fit for me I knew I was in for a straightforward sew. And that’s what it was, until I got to the cuffs. One of the cuffs is in the right place. The other is not. There are three notches at the end of the sleeve to help you attach the cuff – two for a small pleat and one for the cuff opening. I somehow managed to put the cuff opening in the wrong place so now the pleat is slightly out. By the time I realised I had already sliced the opening and there was no going back. I am not going to worry about that too much, though. I like to wear my sleeves rolled up, so really, who’s going to see?!

Collar

The buttonholes were a lot of fun, too (note the use of sarcasm here). I know a bad workman blames his tools, but really automatic buttonholes are just bloody temperamental, aren’t they? I always do a couple of tests before committing to the real thing, and I reset the machine between every buttonhole, just in case, but this time it didn’t work. The first two were a hot mess – the machine decided to stop halfway up the second side so I had to stop and unpick. I held my breath and started again, and luckily the rest of them were ok, but I did have to go out for peanut butter M&Ms as a reward.

I’m not going to lie; I love this shirt. I know I say that about a lot of things I make, but I really mean this one! One of the things I like about my Alex Shirts is the relaxed fit through the waist. I’m not such a fan of the flat collar or the plain cuffs (even though you never see them) on the Alex, so this feels like a good compromise. If I’m going to put the Ultimate Shirt to bed for now, this feels like a good note to end on.

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Ultimate floof.

Penny black

You know how I said we were expecting a heatwave here in Seattle? Well, when I started this dress it had well and truly arrived and I melted like the Wicked Witch of the West in a water fight. Air conditioning is really not a thing round here so I spent most of my time sitting next to a fan and trying to stay as cool as possible. Unfortunately I didn’t quite get my latest Sew Over It Penny quite finished before the warm weather disappeared.

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Different location for my photos this time – there’s a mini allotment on the roof. We don’t have a tub but those tomatoes look like they’ll be pretty good in a week or two. 

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I think rayon is the best fabric for summer. It is the only thing I wanted to wear because it’s so light, floaty and breathable. It’s perfect for wafting about the city on the hunt for the nearest ice lolly. That’s not to say it’s not without its pitfalls. While wearing my red Penny dress I went to the loo at our local cinema and got halfway down the street before I realised that my skirt was tucked into my knickers. I wouldn’t have clocked it had I not spotted my reflection in a window…

Despite that embarrassing experience I knew that my red Penny would not be my last, and that I’d crack out the rayon once more. I spotted this lovely bird/feather print on the Harts Fabric website (still in stock!) and, thinking that the birds all ran in the same direction, I bought 3.5 yards as suggested by the pattern notes. Turns out I needn’t have bothered. The birds face up and down, so with some clever placement I was able squeeze it out of about two yards – plenty left over for something else I think!

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Who needs to twirl when the wind will do the job for you? 

Having learned my lesson from last time, I added extra notches at the skirt waistline and got my head round the collar and button band construction much quicker (NB SOI have now updated the pattern with the missing button band notch). I did, however, struggle with threading the elastic through the waist channel. It was easy enough until I hit the side seam and the button band and then things ground to a halt. I ended up having to unpick the casing so I could give it a hand, which means the waist isn’t quite as neat as it could be. Do you have any tips to make it easier?

I also had a bit of a nightmare with the hem. After letting it hang for 48 hours, Chris very kindly helped me level it out again. It looked fine when I tried it on with the pins in, but when I hemmed it and tried it again, it looked wonky at the sides. Cue a tantrum and snapping at my husband who really didn’t deserve it and continued to very patiently help me. He really is my better half. Anyway, the team effort worked and the hem is now much more level.

I’m a big fan of this dress. It’s great for warmer temperatures, but I can also see it having a life beyond the summer. Paired with some tights and a cardi, it’ll work into spring and autumn. Till then, I’m going to pretend I live on the Riviera and swish about in it some more.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Penny for my thoughts

I’m thinking of renaming my blog. Confessions of a Broken Record sounds about right, since today’s post is about yet another shirt dress. That Winslow culottes post probably lulled you into a false sense of security, but mwhahaha here I am to talk to you about my Penny dress!

My love of Sew Over It’s patterns is well-documented, and I had to have this one as soon as it was released in June. Of course I did; it’s a shirt dress. The Penny is a casual day dress, with a button-up bodice and a circle skirt attached to an elasticated waist. I reckon I’ve been missing out on a whole world of swishing and twirling since I last made a circle skirt several years ago, so it’s definitely time to give it another go.

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To maximise my Penny’s swish factor, I went for this summery rayon (unfortunately out of stock) from Harts Fabric’s online store. I am fast falling in love with Harts – they’ve got a great selection and their service is really prompt. I managed to eke the dress out of 2.5 yards (the US is not on board with the metric system) with a bit of pattern Tetris and some single layer cutting.

Side

This is the only side photo I got where I wasn’t gurning. Looking at this pic, I may add an extra bit of length in the bodice as it’s pulling up slightly at the front.

Now, normally I find SOI’s instructions super clear. Really, it’s difficult to go too far wrong with their patterns, but this time I found them a bit confusing in a few places. I had to add notches to the skirt waistline so I could attach the bodice evenly, while the button placket construction was just a bit odd. You’re supposed to partially fold the facing out to the front of the bodice, but the instructions don’t specify by how much. It was only by looking at a kink in the facing piece that I had an idea of what was supposed to happen. It didn’t really make sense until attaching the collar. I think this could put off an adventurous beginner.

Other than those little blips the dress came together really nicely. A special shout out should go to Chris, who very patiently helped me level out the hem. I left it to hang for a day and in that time the bias shifted by 3.5 inches (apparently I’m not on board with the metric system either). Since I don’t have a dummy anymore I had to put it on to mark it accurately. Chris got his tape measure out and diligently marked out an even line with pins. He was bothered it wasn’t right but I think his eyes were playing tricks on him as it looks pretty good to me.

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Of course, I love this dress. As soon as I finished the hem I spent a good hour swishing and twirling around the flat in it. It’s light and floaty and will see me through the summer very nicely. I’ll definitely be making more, because I am so not over making shirt dresses just yet (not sorry) but I’ll make sure I’ve got my June/July sewing plans out of the way first.

Do you get obsessed with sewing particular garments?

 

Inspiration from the big screen: 20th Century Women

I’ve spent a lot of time on planes over recently – at least 24 hours by my count. Like most people I never sleep properly on transport, so I’ve been catching up with all the films I’ve missed at the cinema. Watching films that are intended for the big screen on the back of an airline seat isn’t ideal but I reckon I’ve done pretty well out of it. I’ve now seen all but two of this year’s Oscar nominees for best picture (Fences and Hell or High Water) plus filling in some long-lasting gaps in my viewing (Avatar. Don’t bother).

One of these plane movies was 20th Century Women starring Annette Bening, Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig. Bening plays Dorothea, a bohemian single mother in her 50s who enlists two other women to help raise her teenage son, Jamie, in late 1970s California. It’s an interesting take on raising a child – all three women use their own experiences to influence him. They don’t necessarily get it right (whatever ‘right’ is), but they all act with Jamie’s best interests at heart, showing him the world as they see it. There aren’t any plot twists but a great ensemble cast playing well-crafted characters. I’d recommend seeking it out if you can.

And do you know what? They wear some lovely clothes too! I love the late 70s fashions in the film. It’s modern vintage – no fussy features, simple to wear and comfortable. If I want to go for a vintage look, it’d be my era of choice. A lot of the clothes could be easily recreated using indie patterns – here’s a quick round-up.

Dorothea (Annette Bening)
Dorothea wears a lot of Liberty-style prints throughout the film, but my favourite has to be this pussy-bow blouse that features in the publicity shots.

I’m thinking the Sew Over It pussy-bow blouse or a hacked version of Tilly and the Buttons Mimi blouse would work here. And obvs, you’d have to use a Tana lawn like this one.

Abbie (Greta Gerwig)
Abbie’s style is a bit more punk than the other characters – think Patti Smith with a dash of Debbie Harry. My choice for her slouchy shirts and rolled up sleeves would be the Sew Over It Alex shirt in bright rayon. I did have a shirt like the one below planned, but then I used my red rayon on my Winslow culottes. Kinda wanna buy more now…

 

alex-front

Alex shirt

Julie (Elle Fanning)
I loved just about everything Julie wore in this film, which is basically a lot of denim skirts and blouses, and we all know about my current love for a good shirt… Anyway, I particularly loved this midi length skirt, which I reckon would be great as a Colette Zinnia (version 1) in a simple blue chambray.

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My Zinnia from last year.

I’m also a big fan of this outfit (yellow and blue developing into a bit of a theme here), which I can see as a Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt and a SOI Ultimate shirt in light cotton lawn.

 

Red ultimate shirt

One of my Ultimate shirts in cotton lawn.

Do you ever get inspired by the costumes you see on the big screen? Let me know in the comments!

Oh, and hello to Jason Isaacs.

 

#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!

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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.

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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!

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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.