Stripey Jersey Dress

One of my favourite dresses I’ve made is this electric blue one, from a free pattern by In The Folds for Peppermint Magazine. I always get compliments whenever I wear it, and I love the slouchy shape, though it still makes me feel put together.

I love buying new patterns, and each time someone releases a shiny new one (Closet Case Patterns Sasha Trousers, I’m looking at you!) I find it really hard to resist buying them. I have so many patterns I’ve not yet made so often I make things once and think ‘I really like this, I’ll make it again’…..and then I don’t. So I’m trying to remedy this by making more versions of things I’ve liked making and wearing but have made only once or twice. This is the first of those patterns.

I made the size 10, as before, and the only change I made was to cut off the pockets (which are attached to the front and back pieces) and cut them out separately as I couldn’t quite fit the pieces as they were on the fabric. Speaking of which, this fabric was the one piece I managed to snag when What Katie Sews did an Instagram destash a few months ago. I could cheerfully have bought loads of things, but I was mostly too late, boo! But I did get this great stripey jersey. It’s nice and thick but still has a bit of drape so the dress hangs really nicely.

I was telling my friends at the Sewing Bee Live that I’m not totally convinced about raglan sleeves on me, but looking at these pictures, I don’t know what my problem is! I have a hang-up that my shoulders are wide, but given that that is often the place where things are too big on me, I think I might be a little bit mental! Since making this dress I’ve cut out another Linden sweatshirt, to give it another go as I wasn’t totally in love with my first version – but that may have been due to the fabric more than anything else.

I cut the neckband with the stripes going the other way, not realising that the fabric only stretches one way. So I can barely get it over my head! I think I might remove the neckband completely and just turn the neck under as that is the one place on my other version that isn’t totally comfortable – it’s a bit strangle-y when I’m sitting down.

I didn’t add the cuffs, which I had done on my other version, so I just turned a small hem up on each sleeve end. I also left off the hem band this time as I felt it made it slightly long on the other version. I also couldn’t squeeze it out of the fabric, and I’m glad I left it off as I like the more a-line shape of the skirt when it’s not pulled in by a hem band.

I did have enough fabric to pattern match the stripes on the side seams, but the eagle-eyed among you may spot – if you look at the hem – that the hem is not straight when you compare it to the stripes. This is because I wasn’t as careful as I could/should have been when folding the fabric in half to cut out the front and back. It looked like the stripes were lined up, but they were one out so the stripes have actually formed a spiral around the dress, so it’s impossible to hem it with the stripes straight – I tried and I reached my starting point but was still pinning more and more out of the hem as the spiral moved up the dress! Oops! Lesson learnt.

And today’s outtake it brought to you by not making it back to my photo spot in time for the camera timer!

Do you make patterns more than once or are you seduced by shiny new ones, like me. Or a combination of the two? I think that’s what I’m hoping I’ll aim for as I don’t want to stop supporting all the wonderful indie designers, but also I don’t have unlimited money and time for buying and making new patterns constantly.

 

 

Style Crush: Allison Janney

I’ve been recently re-watching The West Wing (for probably at least the 6th time) and I remember each time I watch it how much I love Allison Janney and her character, CJ Cregg. I’ve also been listening to the podcast The West Wing Weekly, which is brilliant if you’re a fan – and I think it would make you a fan if you weren’t already.

CJ is one of my all time favourite characters in any tv show, not least because of The Jackal. There is a bit of build up, but it’s worth it. Apparently Allison Janney did this as a party piece and Aaron Sorkin liked it so much he put it in the show – but she had to do it as CJ and not as Allison!

I really love this suit. I may have to copy it! I have the Bellatrix Blazer pattern, which could be a good one for the jacket, and maybe the new Sasha trousers from Closet Case Patterns for the trousers. No idea where I’d wear it, but it would be fun to make!

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And here she is (I think in the same suit, but with glasses and different hair) with Melissa Fitzgerald, who played her assistant, Carol on The West Wing. She now runs an organisation called Justice for Vets, which helps veterans in the US who might be struggling with drug and alcohol addictions, to find treatment and get support. I think it’s pretty cool that someone who was in a show about politics is now running an organisation to help people and hopefully change policies.

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Also amazing is the fact that Allison Janney went and did an actual White House briefing in the actual White House (and made some in-jokes about The West Wing, including about the Jackal) to highlight the growing epidemic of opioid addiction in the US. We watched a Louis Theroux documentary about that very problem and in certain areas and states, it really is an epidemic. Pretty cool to use your platform as a well-known actress to raise awareness of people in much less fortunate situations.

She has a very good line in amazing gowns on the red carpet, which isn’t surprising given that she’s won 7 Emmys (and been nominated 13 times), 6 SAG awards (with 15 nominations) and 5 Golden Globe nominations (though no wins, oddly)!

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Christmas Party inspiration? Might be too much!

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If you had said to me to pair a floor-length sequined skirt with a slightly sheer blouse I probably would not have thought it would look good, but this outfit does look kind of amazing!

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The last photo has to be this one of Allison Janney and Kate Winslet kissing – Kate Winslet is evidently as big a fan as I am!

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To be honest, I think I mostly chose Allison Janney for this post because I love her and think she’s brilliant in everything. She’s up there with Emma Thompson with women I love and want to be best friends with!  I’d not really thought particularly about he style, but now I’ve looked into it, she’s pretty classic in the way she dresses. Like Tilda Swinton, she’s pretty tall and still wears heels. She’s not quite as out-there as Tilda, though!

 

 

 

Coral Anderson Blouse

When I bought this gorgeous fabric from Guthrie and Ghani (I think in around April), I planned to make an Anderson Blouse (by Sew Over It) and I’m glad I’ve finally finished it! It’s a crepe fabric and it has a really nice drape – though I think it might have been a little too thick for this pattern as the gathers on the shoulders and then hem look a bit bulky, but not so much that I won’t wear it loads.

I’ve really liked coral as a colour for quite a while – I wanted to make the jacket I eventually made in mustard for a wedding in coral but couldn’t find any good fabric. Also it’s one of those colours that’s not one colour – it’s anything from orange to pink, but this fabric is the perfect shade for me.

I think the pattern says to put ribbon through the hem, but I decided to use elastic instead – I almost wasn’t going to put anything through, but there was a bit too much fabric around the hem, even for my baggy-top-loving taste.

I made this blouse in the size 8 and made only one fitting change, which was to cut 1.5cm off the shoulder of the top (and not off the top of the sleeve). This is because the sleeve was too long on my arm, because the shoulder seam was quite far down my arm and I thought I could fix the sleeve length by raising it up by moving the shoulder seam. I used the pattern pieces to take the 1.5cm off, to make sure the arm hole was the same size as before, so I knew the sleeve would still fit.

I added a popper/snap to the neckline as I had heard the pattern gapes quite a lot, and I’m glad I did – the 2 sides of the top are only attached at the bottom, where they go into the hem, so it would definitely gape without the popper. I’ve still worn it with a vest top underneath just in case of accidental flashing!

This is my sort of outtake for this post! I was trying to show the cuffs and the buttons – which are ones I took off my raglan tee refashion top and were a perfect colour match for this top, hurray! But I ended up looking a bit like Mr Burns. I was going for a Tom Hiddleston pose – anyone else notice he often poses holding his cufflinks (or where cufflinks would be, assuming he’s not always wearing them)?

Although I found the instructions a little confusing at times – mostly because I was low on colour ink so the photos didn’t print properly, and the photos really do help to ‘illustrate’ the instructions – I think I would make this top again. It’s a good, slightly smarter top for work. I would use a lighter weight fabric next time, though.

 

 

Refashioners: making a suit…..into a suit

As I mentioned in my October makes post, one of the makes that took up quite a lot of time was my suit refashion, which is my entry for the Refashioners 2017. I joined in 2 years ago and refashioned 2 men’s shirts (1 & 2) and wanted to join in last year but family events took over and I didn’t get around to it, so I was very keen to take part this year. When I was at home in August, I suddenly had the thought that it would be nice to use one of my dad’s suits rather than a random suit from a charity shop (though perhaps I would have been more adventurous if the suit had been more anonymous?!) so I asked my mum if she still had any of my dad’s suits (he was in a care home at this point). She had one still in the wardrobe – she had got rid of most of them quite a few years ago, when he stopped having a job that required wearing a suit every day. It was a St Micheal’s one (which I think is a Marks and Spencers brand) and it was apparently made in Israel.


Although my Dad had been ill for a long time – he had a rare degenerative brain disease called Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD) for quite a few years, I obviously did not think that by the time I refashioned the suit he would no longer be with us. So this refashion became even more poignant to me than it would have been. I’m a little sad that he won’t see me wearing his suit, but c’est la vie.

My Dad wasn’t a huge man, so I was a little shocked by just how big the suit was on me – though I am small I suppose.

 

The first thing I did was to unpick the vast majority of the seams – and man did it take a long time! It was my occupation while watching TV in the evenings for about 2 weeks. I even took a picture of all the thread I removed (with pin cushion for scale)!

And this is the pile of pieces.

I unpicked everything from the trousers – side seams, inner leg seams, the fly, the zip and the waist band. I even managed to pry off the metal hook above the zip to use again later. The only things I left were the pockets and I wanted to use them in the new trousers. With the jacket I similarly unpicked everything – I removed the lining, the took the sleeves off both lining and shell, unpicking the underarm seam; I unpicked the side seams of both lining and shell; the shoulder seams; and I unpicked all parts of the collar. I also removed the shoulder pads and removable canvas around the shoulders – most of the interfacing and the like I left as I was remaking a jacket, so it saved me a job!

And this is the finished suit! I’m pretty pleased if I’m being totally honest. And I think I’ve been bitten a bit by a tailoring bug and would like to make a proper jacket from scratch to see all the processes I was able to skip by virtue of them already being done.

I thought I would go into detail about the trousers first, then the jacket, as that’s the order I re-made the suit in.

I used the Simplicity 1696 pattern as I knew I would be able to just about get them to fit me as I have made the pattern once before. As you can see below, I did extend them a little higher in the waist as I wanted to keep the full pockets, and although the trousers were quite big on me, I couldn’t bring the pattern piece to the top of the original trousers as the crotch curve wouldn’t have fit. After taking so much off the legs of the pattern the last time, I decided to narrow the legs at the pattern stage – though I ended up taking them in too much, so I had to reduce the seam allowance to 0.5cm to make them not skin tight!

I made the size 14 as before, and did quite a bit of fiddling with the crotch curve. I took 4cm in total off the back seam, including the waistband (which is the original waistband of the trousers, and the original waistband facing) and had to take 2cm off both crotch curves (front and back) – I think that’s what they’re called? I kept basting the seams, then trying them on, then unpicking them, then repeating the whole process until I thought it was good enough. They’re not perfect, but I didn’t want to over-fit them and make them uncomfortable to sit down in, which is always a worry!

Men’s pockets are soooo huge! I’ve got other ready to wear things (and probably things I’ve sewn) with teeny tiny pockets – pockets too small to fit an iPhone. But I can get half my arms in these pockets! I’m very glad I kept them. Also it’s so quick to sew a pair of trousers when the pockets are already done!

I did do a totally new fly, though I used the original zip. I had to slightly fudge the fly piece and the fly shield as because I had made them more high-waisted than in the orignal pattern, the pieces weren’t tall enough to reach the waist band. The original fly and fly shield were much thinner than the ones for this pattern, so I used the pieces I had cut off the bottoms of the trouser legs to make new pieces. It pretty much worked, and you can’t see any of the McGyvering on the outside.

One of the things I’m proudest of is managing to keep this metal clasp – I bent the prongs that went through the waistband facing to get it off, then poked it through once Id finished the trousers, when I knew it would be in the right place. The hook part of the clasp stayed where it was from the original waistband – I just made sure I used that end in the right place and trimmed the excess off the other side (and from the back seam too) so I could keep the metal thingy.

The original waistband facing (and the pocket bags) are made from this weird cream fabric, as shown above. The facing must be interfaced as it’s quite thick (unless they’re 2 different cream fabrics). Anyone know why it would be so contrast-y? Also there was a gusset from the same fabric in the seat of the trousers, but I did not put that back in as it looked a little worse for wear (gross!).

I also managed to keep the one back pocket, though I definitely think it could have been placed better! I cut out the 2 back pieces at the same time, for speed, but didn’t really take into consideration where this pocket was and made it so I was worried it was going to disappear into the side seam. Luckily there’s only one, so it’s not like one is perfect and the other one is around the side, so hopefully it isn’t as noticeable as I think it is!

Even after cutting off a chunk of the length of the trousers when I trimmed the legs to match the Simplicity pattern, I still had to shorten them by 8cm to get the ankle length hem I was after. I cut off 6cm and left myself 2cm for a double folded hem. I hemmed them on the machine, but I’m temped to unpick it and sew it invisibly by hand as a machine hem doesn’t fit with the style of the trousers. But they’re wearable for now.

And now onto the jacket.

I was going to use the Great British Sewing Bee Hacking Jacket as a pattern to base the jacket on, but I could not get the pattern pieces to fit. Boo. I do want to make it one day as I like the style of it, but for this jacket I decided to slightly wing it and take it in on all the seams where I had unpicked – I maybe shouldn’t have been so hasty to unpick so much!

I think it might be easier to just list all the places I took it in and by how much (in case you’re interested):

5cm off the shoulders
3cm off the side seams (initially I took off 5cm but the pockets were too much to the side so I changed it)
3cm off the back seam (in 2 chunks as I kept tweaking the adjustments)
3cm off the shoulders of the jacket (to bring the shoulder seams up from part way down my arm)
3cm off width of the sleeves
8cm off the top of the sleeves (I traced the shape of the sleeve head and moved it down the sleeve by 8cm to try to keep the button detail on the cuffs of the sleeves, but this didn’t end up working
6cm off the back of the collar

Phew! As you can imagine, this took a loooot of time and a lot of trial and error. The only new things I put in were new shoulder pads, made from wadding. The ones that I took out of the jacket were really past their best and starting to disintegrate. Also they were much too big for my re-sized suit, so it seemed easier to start again.

I made all the same adjustments, above, to the lining. I thought about fiddling with the lining first, so I only had to sew the shell once, once I knew what adjustments to make, but I figured the wool could withstand more unpicking than the lining, which isn’t the most expensive lining in the world.

I made sure to keep the front of the jacket as untouched as possible so I would be able to put the lapels and collar back, without having to know how they work! I sewed a new seam in the back of the collar piece to narrow it so it fitted between the 2 lapels. It was also an advantage to have kept the lapels as they are still pretty well presses, so they don’t want to flap so they’re flat. The notch of the collar/lapel is maybe a little high, but there wasn’t much I could do about it to be honest!

It took a lot of fiddling to get the sleeves right – that is definitely a tailoring skill that I don’t have. I kept the original sleeve head shape and size as I feared making it so small the jacket would have to shrink to fit it, and not the other way around. At one point one of the sleeves was pretty twisted, because there are 2 seams on the sleeve (only one of which I unpicked and took in) and I had lined up the wrong one with the seam on the jacket. It did not feel right! As I mentioned above, I was hoping to keep the button detail on the cuff, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it – and, to be honest, I was running out of time for the deadline! It would have taken a lot more brain than I had at the time to figure out how to re-attach the lining to the button thing, so I got rid of the whole thing and just did a normal hem/lining seam.

The back is maybe the least successful part – but maybe it just needs a good press? I tried to shape the back so it wasn’t quite so straight, but each time I basted it, it looked wrong, so I reverted to a straighter shape – and I’m glad I did as it’s more in keeping with the original style of the jacket. I also managed to keep the 2 vents at the back, which was, again, a headache to work out how to put the lining back in. I wish I had taken photos as I was unpicking as then I would have know how various bits looked before and would have had an idea of how to put it all back.

I’m glad I managed to keep all the pockets – on the outside and in the lining – as they keep the jacket looking quite like the original, and I didn’t have to sew any pockets! Hurray!

The final change I made was to shorten the jacket by 6cm, leaving a 3cm hem (which is how much hem was on the shell before), then the lining was shorter and neatened the whole thing. I was slightly shocked when the lining actually fit the shell, when I went to sew them together again. I bagged it out, unpicking a seam in the side of the lining, then stitching it back by hand once the jacket was turned around. I used this tutorial from Grainline for attaching the lining at the cuffs.

I have resewn the buttons since I took these photos, by the way – you can see below that they absolutely do not line up! It was very late and I was rushing to finish and take photos before the deadline of midnight on the 31st October!

I even managed to reuse the same hook for the back of the jacket. And this is the original hanger the suit was on – I assume my Dad stole it at some point! 🙂

These are all the scraps I have left over after all of the changes I made. It doesn’t look like too much, but I will try to use these up at some point to make the refashion a little lest wasteful. No idea what I’ll use them for, though!

I definitely want to have a go at a proper tailored jacket, from start to finish. Maybe I’ll see if there is an online course or something, so I’ll learn some tricks of the trade. I’m pretty please with how this turned out and I’ve already worn the trousers to work a couple of times. I think the jacket will be a nice warm layer now the weather is getting colder! I have some nice thick jumpers but most of my cardigans are pretty thin, so I think this jacket will see quite a lot of wears when it’s too cold for a cardigan, or over a jumper when it’s really cold.

October Makes and November Plans

October was a fairly productive month for me, mostly because I had last week off work and used most of my time off as a sew-cation, with a couple of days doing fun stuff for The Boyfriend’s and my birthdays (which are 8 days apart).

My first finished make was my coral  Sew Over It Anderson Blouse.  I think the fabric might have been a little on the thick side for the pattern, but I do like it and I love the colour – I need more coral clothes in my life.

I also managed to finish 2 of the dresses I had planned to make – my yellow geometric patterned Marianne Dress and my black and white striped In The Folds Jersey Dress. They took one afternoon each – I love sewing with jersey!

My biggest project of the month, however, was my suit refashion for The Refashioners challenge. I juuust got it finished in time for the deadline, though I doubt turning a suit into a suit will be imaginative enough to win the amazing prize package! If you follow me on Instagram you will have already seen some photos of my refashion, and there will be a full post coming on Friday explaining all the changes I made so sorry if you get bored of seeing it over and over again! I’m pretty please with how it/they turned out, if I say so myself.

So now onto my plans for November. Are you getting as sick of me saying I’m going to make jeans as I am? It’s been a whole year! Maybe November will finally be the month!?

The Sew Over It Nancy Dress I planned last month is already partly made, so this is a little cheaty, but I hope to get it finished this month.

I’ve also cut out a couple more shirts as I find myself wanting to wear shirt more and more, so hopefully I’ll get my white Archer and my spotty Melilot finished too.

I think this should be enough to keep me going!

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