Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Sometimes the 'Slow Sew' is good - Albion No.2

Sometimes you do have to be careful what you wish for.  One of my resolutions for 2014 was to make less items.  In the previous year I was on a 'sewing high' just on the sheer fact that I could 'sew a garment' for myself so hastened to sew just about every pattern that was released.  It was all a good steep learning curve, but a little bit 'over the top', after all there are only so many clothes you can wear.

So in 2014 I have been more deliberate in my choices of what to make and overall I am pleased with what I have made so far.  This is coupled with the fact that I have been trying to downsize and simplify and I am quite pleased with the progress on that.  I also had a successful summer Ten Item Wardrobe and also an autumn one (more about that later), so on the whole I am achieving what I set out to do in 2014.

However, the 'slow sew' lately has been a little bit forced upon me in that I have less time to sew because there have been daily hospital visits to my dad who is not very well. (and are likely to continue)  Nearest and dearest always come first clearly, but I have found it's good to have a 'slow burner-type project' on the go at these times.  For me, that has been a bit if knitting (with the right project it's therapeutic), but surprisingly I have found time for some sewing, in the form of the Colette Albion.  It is the duffle coat from Colette patterns and I made my husband one at the beginning of the year - here and it was always in my plans to make a winter coat this year.

Probably the longest and most tedious part of this make is sticking the pdf pattern pages together and all the cutting out, but I took about 4 1-hour sessions to do this, so a good dip-in-and-out activity.  Then, of course, was the actual cutting of the main fabric and the lining fabric.

I got my fabric in Clothspot, it is a wool mix, a tweed-type fabric,but if I'm honest I rushed in my selection of it and it is really a bit light weight for a duffle coat. I think it was £6.95/metre so didn't break the bank.  Clothspot got some beautiful coatings in just after that so I wish I had waited.  If you are thinking of a coat, you should have a look, they also have some beautiful fur which would be lovely for a collar (no animals harmed in the making)   I do like my fabric though, basically a teal colour with some rust and pink flecks. (I think it is sold out now)

I scoured the internet for ages looking for a super warm lining, but couldn't find anything, then remembered I had some Japanese double gauze that might do the job.

It is sort of fleece like, lovely and smooth and soft, and goes perfectly with the main fabric, so I'm pretty pleased that I got using something from the stash.  However, I still don't think it will be quite warm enough, so I have ordered some wadding for between the lining and the main fabric.

So, back to the pattern itself.  As I have made it before I know that there is nothing too difficult about it.  There are lots of little sections, but the instructions are great and as a project, it is really working for me at the minute.  Any free hour I have, I do one or two sections and it's amazing how it progresses.

Patch pocket on Albion
So no finished items but I'm getting there, slow but hopefully worth the wait!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

'Convenient' Bento Tee

So any autumn sewing plans I had made were sidelined with the release of Liesl & Co's new patterns. I was pretty sure that there would be at least a couple that I would want to make out of the four releases and sure enough that is the case.  There were two dresses, culottes and a knit tee,  all of them look very wearable indeed, but I started with the simplest, the Bento Tee..  Not that I needed another sewing pattern for a jersey-type tee, but it looked very appealing.  There are two versions, the first is a longer sleeved sweatshirt with front in-seam pockets and the other is a hip length tee with cuffed short sleeves.

Bento Tee (Liesl & Co)
Bento is the little Japanese lunch box with rice, vegetables and other healthy delights, but 'bento' apparently also means 'convenient' - just a little snippet of information.

Beats a ham sandwich & a packet of crisps.
Not sure my sons would appreciate this.

I chose to make the sweatshirt version with the front pockets and I made it with a maroon coloured merino from  The fabric is really cosy with a loopback finish on the inside, what better for one of the first cold days of autumn.  These patterns are all pdf and are laid out in a really easy way.  Rather than having a million sheets taped together the entire length and breadth of your front room, these are arranged so that you tape just enough at a time for each pattern piece.  Genius!  The pattern itself is very straightforward and the instructions make it very simple.

The pockets are a nice detail on this top, just big enough for your ipod, some money, key or whatever.  I shortened the top by 1 3/4 inches and for some strange reason the sleeves were incredibly long,  I don't think I have overly short arms, maybe they are longer to be turned back, anyway I reduced the length of mine by 2 inches.  The shoulders on this style are dropped, probably would look better on someone with a narrower frame than myself,  but I like it anyway.

I wore it with jersey trousers in these photos, but I think it would also look well with a straight skirt and, of course, the Girl Friday culottes.  They are on my sewing table at the moment,  I hope to finish them soon. (hope I have made the right size)

I also have got my knitting mojo back again, having left my knitting needles in the bag for months on end, but now in tandem with the first lighting of the fire, I have resumed my sweater. Yea!

First time using double pointed needles.
I am at the sleeve knitting stage and this is the first I have used dpn's, pleased to say I have got into the way of it, so I might start sock-knitting yet!

Will leave you with a photo of the autumnal full moon.  Til next time.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A Cappuccino please.

One of the first sewing patterns I ever used was the Lisette Portfolio dress pattern by Liesl Gibson.  I made a cotton version and a wool winter version.  For someone like me who just took a notion to try and sew some clothes for myself and had no 'training' at all, it speaks volumes about how good the design and instructions of the pattern were that I was able to do it.  Having googled sewing patterns it was one that kept appearing on the internet, a very popular pattern indeed.  It apparently went out of print but earlier this year under Liesl & Co a similar pattern was released, the Cappuccino.

My Lisette Portfolio tunic in Amy Butler fabric
It has the same pocket detail that we all love but instead of the square inset and round neck, it now has a V-neck with some gathers on the middle panel. It also has the same kimono type sleeves, so no sleeve inset and a slightly loose skimming line. As before there are two options, the tunic or the dress.

With autumn attire in mind, I thought it was as good a time as any to give this pattern a try.  I used a rayon fabric, Sinister Swarm by Anna Maria Horner which I bought last year, probably not really an autumn weight fabric but I just love the colours. (Anyway there are always camis and cardis when it gets colder) The pattern on this fabric is pretty large and loud, I had put it away as it was a bit louder than I had wanted, but I think it suits this pattern ok.  I used a light weight corduroy fabric left over from another project for the collar and cuffs.  It might seem like an odd pairing, rayon and cord but I think it works fine.  I chose to not add interfacing to the corduroy as I didn't want it too stiff with the rayon being drapey.

Liesl & Co Cappuccino tunic.
The beauty of this pattern is that there are also very clear instructions as to how to do a Full Bust adjustment.  I have realised for a while that I probably should be doing this on a lot of sewing patterns, but basically didn't have much of a clue how to go about it, but the instructions made me realise it's not really that tricky.  What a difference, a much better fit without having to go bigger elsewhere.

Full Bust Adjustment
I won't go into all the details.  Liesl does that perfectly well in the instructions, but you are basically adding 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch to the curve at the front where the fullest part of the bustline is, by widening the pattern and spreading the pattern piece out.  You also add the same amount to the centre front piece.

I chose to do Version B, the tunic, although I wanted more of a hip length blouse this time so I shortened it by 2.5 inches, but I will definitely be trying out the dress version sometime soon.

As you can see I made the long sleeved option of the tunic, nice straightforward addition with a neat cuff.  This is the sort of sewing pattern that you can have a lot of fun with, lots of fabric combination possibilities.  With the dress option you could use a special fabric for the centre front panel and keep the rest plain or dotty/stripey chambray or light denim with a plain.  I'm not sure you could use too heavy a fabric (unlike my wool Portfolio dress) mostly because of the gathering at the neckline.  As recommended in the pattern it works best with light to medium fabric, but I think a fine corduroy would work.

So another great Liesl & Co pattern and, of course, now they are releasing this autumns four patterns, all of which I want to make.  (4th released tomorrow)  There are the Cinema dress, the Girl Friday culottes and the Bento Tee so far.  All very tempting, all I need is plenty of time.