Adventures in Pattern Drafting

The last couple of weeks I’ve been a bit quiet on here because I’ve been working on my own personal blocks/slopers. I bought this Burda Academy course probably years ago and finally decided to have a go at it this year. And it doesn’t take as long as you would think to draft a sloper – the measuring takes a while, though!

This was my sexy measuring outfit – a tight top and leggings with tape marking my waist and hip line, so you can measure to and from the same points.

And this is the side view. Because of my terrible posture and some bloating, I look a bit pregnant here but I can assure you I’m not.

The course comes with some great handouts and videos talking you through everything. I ended up doing my bodice front and back twice because we’d messed up some of the measurements and once I’d watched the video once, I found the handout was enough to do the slopers again, which is cool.

Here is a peek at my skirt sloper/block.


Last night I cut out and sewed together my collection of slopers into a dress (minus the sleeve) and it looked pretty good. It needs some tweaks, but before too long I should have my blocks sorted, so I can use them to compare to commercial patterns to know what adjustments to make, and to draft things for myself. The first thing I’m going to draft is the pattern for my Dressmakers’ Ball dress, which I’m basing on this one Ginnifer Goodwin wore to the Met Gala a few years ago.

Posts on here might be a bit few and far between for the next few weeks while I’m working on my dress. I’ll hopefully share some updates here and on Instagram, though. I just hope I get it finished – the ball is only 6 weeks away!

Make It: Pin Pennant

After I was lucky enough to win a voucher for The Pink Coat club in the raffle at the Sewcialite Soiree, I realised I had quite a few pins in my collection. But I often forget to wear one as I had been keeping them in a little box next to my make-up bag. Since I know how to sew (duh!) I thought I could easily make something that would look nice, display all my lovely pins and remind me to wear them!

I started off with some of my beloved mustard denim (originally from Sew Me Sunshine and featured in such projects as my Cleo Pinafore and my mute bags) and drew a line 20cm long, plus 1cm each side for seam allowance. I then measured the centre of this line and measured 20cm away from this line and joined this point to the 2 sides of the line to make a triangle. I totally made up these measurements and I think if you have more pins than me you will almost certainly want to increase these measurements.

I cut out 2 triangles with the above measurements and stitched them right sides together along the 2 long lines, leaving the top edge unstitched to be able to turn it the right way around. I trimmed the seam allowances, especially at the points, turned it the right way around and top stitched the sewn seams, though I would wait to top-stitch until you’re sewing the top edge shut.

I then made 2 straps, measuring 12cm x 5.5cm. I stitched each one folded in half length ways, then turned them the right way around – this took ages as they ended up so thin!

I then arranged the straps with the seams down the middle of the ‘back’ and top-stitched them. Lastly I placed the straps into the opening at the top, turning in the seam allowance of the top edge of the triangle, and top-stitched the straps in place, stitching the open edge closed at the same time. I would also carry on with the top-stitching around the other 2 sides at this point.

This was such an easy project – it took about an hour from beginning to end. I found an old knitting needle in a local charity shop and tied some wool on to hang up the pennant and VOILA! I’ve got a lovely way of displaying my gorgeous pins!

Do you collect sewing pins? I’ve got more pins than I realised – I thought I would have space to expand into but the pennant is already full!
 

2018 in Review

Another year is over so I’m recapping what I’ve made in the last 12 months. I thought I hadn’t made as much in previous years, but I made 5 dresses, 4 sweatshirts (2 for my friend’s daughter), 2 Cleos, 4 Pairs of trousers, one of which was part of my Socialite Soiree suit, 4 shirts, and a coat. Plus I made a Freddie Mercury outfit and refashioned a bunch of things into a Miss Fisher outfit. Phew!

Here is my final Make Nine 2018 progress – I made 5 of them, which I think is the most of any Make Nine I’ve come up with. I still didn’t yet make jeans. 2019 will definitely be the year I finally tackle jeans! I made my Honetone Coat, Carnaby Dress, Ebony Dress (twice), Blaire Shirt and Portobello Trousers.

The thing I’m proudest of making this year (as I mentioned via the #myproudestmake hashtag) is my Honetone coat. I really took my time over it in February and I’m really glad I did. Apparently there is some really cold weather coming in January so this will still get lots more wear this Winter. I kind of want to make another coat, but I probably don’t need one.

My second favourite make from this year was the suit I made to wear to the Sewcialite Soiree. I made it in record time, (unlike my coat) because I left myself, like 3 full days and 3 evenings to make it in. The Joe Jacket came together really easily and I definitely want to make another one, in black and white houndstooth – if anyone has any ideas where to buy some suiting in houndstooth, let me know!

One of my favourite makes was my cropped Kalle shirt. I definitely want to make more Kalles. I did wear it quite a bit this year as we had an unusually long Summer.

2 things that I wore way more than I anticipated were my 2 Cleos. Though sadly I wore the mustard one to work a lot and when unloading a delivery from a van I got a big black mark on it, which hasn’t come out yet. Happily I have loads of mustard corduroy left over from my suit so I’m going to replace it – I think that will be one of my first makes of 2019.

Pretty much my only refashion project (except adding a hem band to a cropped Inari tee) was to make my Miss Fisher outfit for The Rafashioners. The coat will definitely get lots of wear in Spring and Autumn when it’s not too cold.

My love affair with shirts continued – I made 4, 3 of which were from patterns I hadn’t used before. (Clockwise from top left: Blaire, Honeycomb, Melilot, Kalle)

I also made 4 pairs of trousers – and I have lots more plans for more trousers in 2019. (Clockwise from top left: Persephone Pants, Simplicity 1696, Portobello Trousers, Mercury Trousers). I really want to make more Persephone Pants next year so I’m on the lookout for good fabric.

I also made 5 dresses last year, which is a lot considering I don’t wear them super often now I work hulking fabric around all day. Dresses aren’t the most practical of garments. I love the Laurel I made – definitely a good rediscovery of a forgotten pattern in my stash. (Clockwise from top right: Inari Tee Dress, Carnaby Dress, Ebony Dress (blue and gold))

Also this year I ‘launched’ my Hundred Years Wardrobe project – to sew something from each decade of the 20th century. I also completed the first project – this 70s Freddie Mercury Zandra Rhodes outfit. Sadly I didn’t dare wear it to the cinema when I saw Bohemian Rhapsody, which was amazing!

This year I joined my local brass band, and a swing band, playing the cornet/trumpet which I played for 10 years while at school. I went to their big Christmas concert last year and the year before and last year I finally plucked up the courage to talk to the band leader and then I played at the Christmas concert this year! I also spent rather a lot of money on a set of mutes so I made some storage bags to keep them from getting bashed and scratched.

The other thing I wanted to do in 2018 was to do some knitting and to make my partner some clothes. I basically didn’t do either of these for 51 weeks of the year – I have actually done some knitting over the Christmas break. I’ve been finishing a jumper I cast on probably 3 or 4 years ago!

All in all this was a pretty good year for me – I did plenty of sewing, played lots of music and got a new job which I don’t hate. My partner turned 40 and we went away for a weekend. And I’ve tweaked some stuff in our flat so it looks nicer and works better – and I’ve been clearing out cupboards this holiday season, which has been really satisfying! I finally renewed my passport and went to visit one of my best friends, with my other best friend, in Germany finally, which was really brilliant. I always feel stupidly pleased with myself when I manage to fly somewhere on my own!

I’ve also had quite a few periods of feeling low and uninspired this year but I tried to be kind to myself and not get annoyed at myself if I didn’t sew for a couple of weeks or blog as regularly as I might have liked. Sewing and blogging should be fun hobbies so if I didn’t fancy doing them, then I didn’t and I feel good about that.

My Sewcialite Soiree Outfit

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Sewcialite Soiree, hosted by Sarah from Like Sew Amazing, Jen from Gingerella and the Stitch Sisters Rachel and Nikki and it was a brilliant night. 

And of course it was an excuse to make a new outfit. But I thought about the fact that I have a few party dresses which I’ve only worn once or twice, and decided to make a suit instead of another dress, since I would then wear the trousers and jacket separately and then I’d have a suit too! I do have the suit I refashioned from one of my dad’s suits, but I’ve not worn the jacket since I took the photos to be honest – I have higher hopes for this jacket though as it’s a bit less formal because of the fabric I think.

My initial plan was to make a tuxedo but I didn’t really need another black jacket or black pair of trousers in my wardrobe, so I went for corduroy instead. I have a pinterest board of inspirational bright coloured suits. The fabric was this mustard corduroy from Fabricland (and I have loads left so expect a whole corduroy wardrobe in the future). I ordered a few samples from Fabricland and some crepe ones from Sew Over It – it’s really amazing how many different colours are called mustard! 

And the lining is this adorable bird print cotton lawn from Sewisfaction – she posted it on her stories and I immediately fell in love with it. 

 
The patterns I used were the very popular Persephone Pants, which I feel like I’m the last person to make! and the Joe Jacket by Ready to Sew. I searched for quite a while for a jacket pattern I liked and this was the closest to the boyfriend fit I was looking for. Plus it has 2 lapel variations and I went for these super wide ones! And I love them. 

This was the first Ready to Sew pattern I’ve made and I have to say the instructions were excellent – this is the most tailored item I’ve made I think, maybe apart from my Honetone Coat

There are 2 welt pockets with pocket flaps over the top, and this was the only place I got a bit confused by the instructions – which is surprising because I’ve done welt pockets before. There was a great youtube video I found, which really helped as the pocket in the video is the same as the ones in this jacket. 

They were meant to be double welt pockets but since the corduroy was so thick and tricky to iron, I did single welts instead. 

I love the flash of lining fabric behind the flaps. 

I bought these lovely wooden buttons from John Lewis – they were a pack of 3, so there were 2 for the jacket and one for the trousers. 

When I’d finished the jacket, I was worried it was a bit too long, but actually I think it’s fine – because it’s a loose fit, I think it’s fine. And I looked at other suits and just below the bum seems to be a common jacket length. 

Yay lining!

I made the size 36 in the jacket and made no fitting changes. I did, however, have to redo the sleeves as I was in a hurry when I was cutting it out and didn’t put any of the notches and markings on the fabric and sewed them in really twisted. So my advice for this  pattern (and obviously all patterns) is to transfer all the markings!

I made the size 4 of the Persephone Pants as they exactly matched my waist and hip measurements and, again, the instructions were great. I didn’t make any adjustments, but the next time I make them I will take them in a little on the back seam and the waist, adjusting the waistband too so it still fits. 

I love the hidden pockets, and I used the same lining as the jacket. 

I took 7cm off the hem (4cm cut off and 1.5cm twice as the hem) as I wanted the trousers a little cropped – as I think they’re supposed to be. I then, however, had to take another 3cm off as they were still a little longer than I wanted. 



I wore the suit exactly like this to the party, with my white Archer shirt and with these light coloured trainers. I like the look of heels, but I end up wanting to take them off about 10 minutes into any party, so I decided to be comfortable instead. 

I learned a bit about dealing with corduroy in the making of this suit – namely that you have to iron it on a towel and on the back – or sandwiched between 2 towels if you have to iron something 2-sided, like the lapels. 

I definitely want to make both of these patterns again – there’s a photo of Claire Foy in a pink suit, which inspired this one, and in a houndstooth blazer with jeans and I want to fully copy that. I also love the trousers and with the little tweak to the fit, this could become my go-to pattern for work trousers.

I also had a slight epiphany while making this suit- namely that if I don’t watch Netflix which I sew, I can sew really quickly and needed to unpick a lot, lot less than normal – on average I probably unpick every third seam I sew, but with this whole suit I only unpicked the sleeves on the jacket (because I sewed them on wrong) and a couple of other tiny things! 

Have you every made a suit or just a jacket? Do you like tailoring as much as I do?

   

Peachskin Blaire Shirt

I made another shirt – something new and different for me (read in a sarcastic voice!)


It is, however, a new to me pattern – the Style Arc Blaire Shirt. I had admired this pattern for quite a while and bought it last year and I finally made plans to make it during the Summer and ended up making it in September, when it was still relatively warm here.

I like the shape of the side seams and the under layer, though I did get a little confused by the instructions and was paranoid that I had done it wrong until it was basically finished. This was my first Style Arc pattern and I have to say the instructions are sparse to say the least – I think it fitted on one side of A4 in 2 columns. Luckily I’ve made a lot of shirts and this pattern doesn’t have some of the trickier parts of shirt-making, like cuffs and plackets and the collar seemed pretty simple to put in. I think this would be doable as a first shirt, though.

The fabric was this mustard with a geometric blue and white pattern peach skin from Fabric Godmother but she doesn’t seem to have it any more, sadly. This was my first time working with peachskin and I kind of like it – I don’t know about the fibre content, but I assume it’s synthetic as it does make me slightly sweaty without necessarily making me warm, but I like the drape and the slinky-ness. It was a little slippery to cut and sew, but it wasn’t as slippery as the crepe I used for my Mercury Trousers, so it seemed okay coming off the back of making those!

Another way the Blaire is a little simpler than, say, the Archer or the Melilot, is that there is no yoke or pleat on the back, so you don’t have to worry about any burritos!

I made the straight size 8, without making any changes and I’m happy with the fit – as you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I like looser-fitting tops and particularly shirts. You can’t really see that there is a seam across the middle – I think when (probably when, not if) I make it again I might pay with the directions of stripes or with some colour-blocking.

I sadly didn’t have any outtakes from this photo shoot, which is a shame because it’s my favourite part of my blog posts. 😦

I think I’ll definitely keep my eye out for a fabric to make another shirt next year when the weather warms up again. And I do kind of want to make the shirt dress version – I don’t actually own any shirt dresses, which is weird considering I like shirts so much!