Arden Sweatpants for lockdown living

So this is going to be what I look like for the next couple of months (or more) after the announcement yesterday that England is going back into lockdown. It’s absolutely the right decision but to be completely honest I’m pretty embarrassed to be British right now. Brexit is a total disaster and we’ve cocked up the pandemic worse than probably every other country except the US.

So to celebrate more time sitting in my house, I’ve made more sweatpants. I actually made these back in October and wore them during the November lockdown and now they’ll get loads more wear!

I used the Arden pattern instead of making more Hudsons because while I like the Hudsons I made, they are a little on the snug side, especially the cuff, so I thought I would use the Arden pattern as I prefer how high-waisted it is. I know True Bias released a hack to make the Hudsons higher waisted but I’m lazy and had the Ardens already ready to go.

I made the size 6 as before and should have really looked at Helen’s excellent tutorial on making the Ardens into joggers. In particular I very much fudged the cuffs. I tried the original version with the elastic option but I only had narrow elastic and it looked really weird. I also didn’t want the cuffs as narrow as on the Hudsons so I kind of did somewhere in between the woven original Arden cuff and the Hudson cuff. They are probably a bit loose but also they’re much easier to get on and off so I’m not going to change them (also who wants to have to unpick overlocking if you don’t have to!?).

Both lots of fabric were from Fabric Godmother – I ordered it after I realised how much wear my Hudsons were getting and thought ‘I need more sweatpants in more colours!’ I went for black and mustard and they are both super soft and comfortable. It was their organic sweatshirt fleece and was really nice to sew with.

The cording was from Minerva Crafts, as was the case for the Hudsons I made but I must have chosen the wrong item because this stuff is like plastic whereas the stuff I ordered before was really nice. This is like tent guy ropes – not great. I’m definitely going to try to order some replacements. Helen doesn’t include a drawstring in her blog post but I used the Hudson instructions and made the button holes (with interfacing to reinforce them) before attaching the waistband.

Part of Helen’s blog post is to add the edging to the pockets which I did anyway as it is one of my favourite design details on the Hudsons. I used the Hudson pattern piece as a guide for the width and then lengthened it to span the whole pocket edge.

I didn’t foresee these getting so much wear to be honest, but COVID is here to stay for a long while yet I think so I’m very glad I’ve got comfortable options in my wardrobe, as well as all the jeans I made last Summer.

Are you feeling inspired to make more lounge wear given us all being at home looks unlikely to change any time soon? I’m not sure I would have considered myself someone who wore sweatpants before the pandemic but comfort (and warmth) is the most important consideration for me getting dressed at the moment – and when I was working in December, these are ideal to change into (out of jeans) when I’d get home! I’m a total sweatpants convert!

 

 

A review of 2020

I’ve done review posts (and then planning posts for the forthcoming year) for quite a few years on this blog and I wasn’t going to do one this year (I won’t be doing a planning post) but then I realised it’s been my most productive sewing year so far so it would be a shame not to celebrate all the things I’ve made.

I do want to acknowledge my privilege before I dive into my makes because I know a lot of people have lost friends and family members this year and have lost jobs and had their lives as they knew them fall apart. I myself work in a bookshop and was furloughed when the UK went into lockdown in March and was about to go back to work when we entered the second lockdown in November, but this was delayed until December. I was back at work for 4 weeks and a day when Gloucestershire was moved to tier 4 (today) meaning that I am furloughed again. I have been paid at least 80% of my wages that whole time and my partner and I have relatively low outgoings (and he went back to work in June) so we have been okay financially. I also have a flat to live in and hobbies to occupy me so I was able to enjoy most of my time not working. There were weeks when I was fed up of being in my house, but I did manage to visit family in the Summer when it was permitted and we have my partner’s family close by where we live. I have no children so I didn’t have to suddenly become a teacher over night and this means my time has been my own to do with as I please. I have also had regular online chats with my close group of friends from uni and I feel we have deepened out friendships – usually we try to meet up once per year and have a whatsapp chat but it has been nice to feel like we are close together even when we are (literally in some cases) thousands of miles apart.

With all that said for the first 3 or so months of the lockdown I sewed ALL THE THINGS that I had in my mind to make for probably years. I had bought fabric with specific projects in mind and then never quite got around to them, even with moving to working part-time last June (2019). In 2019 I made 16 garments and in 2020 I made 35 garments (2 of which I haven’t yet shared here) and refashioned one. That’s quite a difference!

I’ll start with jackets and coats – I didn’t realise I made 4!

Sequined Bomber jacket

Houndstooth Richmond jacket


Gold Rumana Coat

Victoria Blazer Coat hack

And of course, no sewing year for me would be complete without a bunch of shirts!

Blue and Pink Popover Kalle

Yellow Geometric Kalle

Faces Kalle


White and Black Checked Blaire

Classic White Melilot

I also did some epic scrap-busting and made a load of Inari Tees from larger scraps I had in my stash.

Silver Knit Inari

Electric Blue Inari

Jungle Print Inari


Crowd Inari


Cotton Lawn Inari


Pink Striped Inari


Yellow Geometric Inari


Black Striped Inari

2020 was also the year of making jeans for me – I made 5 pairs in total!

Ginger Jeans

First Pair of Dawn Jeans


Pale Denim Dawn Jeans


Black Skinny Dawn Jeans


Navy Skinny Dawn Jeans

I also made some other trousers that weren’t jeans!

Black Crepe Evelyn Trousers

Grey Hudson Sweatpants

Navy Blue Hudson Sweatpants

Navy Blue Double Gauze Arden Pants

Mustard Double Gauze Arden Pants

I finally made 2 pairs of Carolyn Pyjamas, the fabrics for which I had had for years and years!

Liberty Cotton Carolyn Pyjamas

Boaty Carolyn Pyjamas

I refashioned my Sew Over It Anderson blouse into a Marilla Walker Mercury top and I very much prefer the new iteration of this gorgeous fabric!

I made another Cleo dungaree dress mostly just to use up some leftover denim. I’m not sure how much wear it will get to be honest!

I also made another Sew Over It Nancy Dress – again not sure how much wear it will get, though it will certainly have to wait for warmer weather either way.

Another make  I’m not sure will get much (if any) wear is this Sallie Jumpsuit. The fabric is a little too thin and clingy for me to feel completely comfortable.


On the opposite end of the scale is my denim Roberts dungarees which have already had sooo much wear! They’re so comfortable and a good choice for days when I’m mostly sitting at home but don’t want to wear sweatpants!

It’s no wonder after all the sewing – and all the new items for my wardrobe – that I slightly ran out of steam after the first few months! Though a few things were made after the first main batch, the vast majority were made in April, May and June.

I want to try my hand at underwear in 2021 – I bought some supplies to make period pants, to find another way to be more sustainable and reduce my impact on the environment. I did made reusable make-up wipes this year and they have been a triumph!

I also stopped wearing bras really at all last Winter (under so many layers of clothes when it’s freezing at work, who can tell anyway!) but in the Summer with only one layer on I do kind of want at least something else to protect and slightly support my boobs so I’m going to have a go at making some bralettes. I’m lucky that I don’t need the support of underwiring or more supportive bras – when I was younger (like a teenager) I wished I had bigger boobs but now I’m so glad they’re not!

I’ve also got a (rescheduled) wedding to attend in the Summer so I’ll definitely be making a new outfit – I don’t feel like I went out that much before the pandemic but I like having bigger events to go to as an excuse to make something fancier than I would wear in my every day life.

But these are my only plans – I used to plan yearly and monthly my makes but I almost never followed through with the plans so I’m just have ideas for now. And now my wardrobe if necessary items is pretty much complete I might have a go at some more frivolous makes just for fun – and to expand my sewing skills!

Happy New Year! And thank you for following my making journey this year – I’m so thankful I have had sewing to keep me occupied for the vast majority of 2020!

Double Gauze Arden Pants

I seem to keep making patterns in pairs – and especially Helen’s Closet patterns! I made 2 Blackwood Cardigans and 2 Elliot Sweaters. I guess I often must also buy fabrics in pairs!

And the Arden Pants are no exception! I haven’t bought many (if any?!) patterns in absolutely ages but when I saw the Arden pants, I knew the pieces of double gauze I’d been hoarding in my stash since last year would be perfect! I initially thought about making one colour into trousers and the other into a top but I’m so glad I made them both into trousers – I have plenty of tops after my Inari-making binge (1, 2, 3)!

The fabric was from Fabric Godmother last year when I left my previous job in June. They actually still have both listed though only the navy is currently in stock – the navy is here and the mustard/gold is here (but out of stock atm).

This was my first time working with double gauze and I found it okay. It does kind of wrinkle up loads when you pre-wash it and then I read some stuff about how it’s up to you how flat you want it ironed to before you start your project. It’s supposed to have a bit of texture so I ironed out the worst wrinkles and went from there. I have heard double gauze can be a bit shifty – because there are 2 layers which slide past each other – but I think because this was a relatively simple pattern it worked fine.

I made the size 6 and made no fitting adjustments apart from taking up a 7cm hem in total as I wanted them to graze my ankles. I did find the fabric had a slight tendency to ever so slightly stretch out a little when being top-stitched (like on the edges of the pocket openings) and I didn’t do absolutely all the top-stitching the pattern called for because I wanted a looser, breezy vibe, rather than having that jeans-style stitching. I did top-stitch the crotch seam, though, to strengthen the seam that will get the most strain!

 

I slightly had to fudge the back pockets because of my shoddy cutting-out skills! When will I learn to take more time over cutting out shifty fabrics? At this point probably never! 😂

I also discovered that double gauze (or this double gauze specifically) frays like a bitch! I over-locked everything to make sure the trousers weren’t going to just disintegrate as soon as I wore them twice!

I would definitely recommend this pattern if you’re looking for a nice, stylish but relatively simple first foray into sewing trousers/pants. The construction is very similar to the Hudson Pants but it has a higher rise, which I much prefer. I love my Hudsons but I wish they came up a little higher on my waist (obviously I can adjust that if I make them again). They are also super comfortable because of the loose fit and the elasticated waist.

My only regret with making these Ardens is that I made them probably too late in the year to really get any wear out of them until next Summer. Here in the UK we have now entered the, like, 8 month period where the weather is shit and I’m cold ALL THE TIME. Although I’ve made all the things since the beginning of lockdown, I think I need more cold-weather options so I’m not quite so grumpy for the next few months!

Do you have a favourite easy to wear trouser pattern? I think this might be my new fav!

 

 

A Pair of Blackwood Cardigans

Since I live in the UK I’m always looking for stylish ways to keep warm (though thankfully it is finally warming up after what feels like an  infinite Winter!) and so I’d had my eye on the Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet for a while.  I think I might have bought it when she expanded her size range on it (and congrats to her for now having all her patterns in a more inclusive range of sizes!).

Anyway, all that is to say that towards the end of last year I made 2 Blackwood Cardigans and they have got quite a bit of wear each since they were finished.

I made both cardigans in the size small of the longer view and I didn’t make any fitting changes – it’s a relatively loose fitting pattern and doesn’t have fastenings across the front so didn’t require any fiddling around for me.

I had both of these fabrics in my stash for years so I’m glad to have finally got around to sewing them up! The burgundy fabric was from the Birmingham rag market at Sew Brum I think 2 or 3 years ago! I was thinking back then to add burgundy to my colour palette as I thought it would be a good compliment to the other colours I like – mustard yellow, navy blue, grey, black etc. Though looking at these photos and how I feel in it, I’m not sure the colour really suits me so I may not add more burgundy pieces to my wardrobe! The fabric itself was pretty cheap and it really synthetic, so it’s not the best but it was good enough for an experiment.

The mustard yellow fabric was from Tilly and the Buttons’ mini fabric shop they did a year or two ago when her previous book, Stretch, came out. She’s had another book out since, so this has definitely been patiently waiting in my stash for quite a while! This fabric is sooooo much softer then the burgundy knit, so you can feel the difference in quality. But this one has pilled quite badly already, with not a huge amount of wear as it was too cold to wear it for a couple of months. It also seems to have stretched out a bit – you can see it’s longer in the sleeves – and I think in the length – than the other one.

Even though we’re having some nice weather in the UK at the moment, since we’re not allowed outside for more than an hour, I’m still needing my cardigans and knitwear as our flat is much colder than outside, sadly.

If you’re looking for an easy project to make from some knit fabric, then this should definitely be on your list. I think it would be nice in more of a sweatshirt knit, too, actually. 

After listening to a recent episode of Love To Sew, I realised I always take my photos all standing up and there is a growing discussion that it would be helpful for wheelchair users or other people who spend a lot of time sitting, to see how garments look when we are sitting down. So from now on I will include sitting photos of all my makes. I am also listening to the discussions about taking multiple views of garments so others can see the fit across, say, the back, or from the side. I already did this quite consistently on here but I think I didn’t tend to share all the views when I share my makes on Instagram, so I’m going to try to do that more too.

Since I’ve been taking my photos myself with a remote for my phone, outtakes haven’t been as common as they once were, sadly. But please enjoy this gem. I legit look like I’m getting up to smash the camera/phone! Lol!

Are you sewing all the things or have you lost your sewjo given what’s going on in the world? I’m flitting between the 2. The first couple of weeks I sewed loads, then last week I did very little of anything productive. But this week I’m feeling enthused again!

 

 

2 Elliot Tops

Well this little blog has been rather neglected recently, hey!?

And now I’m updating during a very weird time in the world, and in the UK specifically. We were officially placed in lockdown last night because of the Coronavirus, which was the right thing to do to hopefully mean that the NHS isn’t overwhelmed and as many people survive the illness as possible.

I have definitely been struggling with heavy anxiety as the situation has worsened but I’m glad that I have sewing and music, both hobbies which bring me joy and calmness (most of the time, when I don’t have to unpick too much!), and which I can do still at home while in isolation.

But that’s enough about that – I’m sure we’re all a bit fed up with thinking and talking about it – so here is some sewing I did back in October! I have a bit of a backlog as you can imagine after 6 months of not posting!

Here I present 2 Elliot Sweaters which I love! The pattern is, of course, by Helen’s Closet. I was a bit torn between this pattern and Tilly and the Buttons’ Nora pattern and I feel like they came out at about the same time, but I went for the Elliot in the end as I like the roll neck better. Though I think I may have to cave and get Nora too as I’ve got some knits in my stash which I think would look good in the more slouchy style.

I have worn both of these tops so much since I finished them in October! I work in a bookshop, where we have to have the doors open and I really really feel the cold so I have been layering them up with thermal tops underneath and thick cardigans in the top. I’m looking forward to spring (if we’re allowed outside by then) when I can hopefully wear them on their own – especially as I like the sleeve length and it gets hidden under cardis!

The pattern is super easy to put together so I’d definitely recommend it for a knits noob.

I especially love how the hem dips down lower at the back – though I should have done a slightly deeper hem all the way around as this fabric rolls out like crazy so you can basically always see the overlocked edge on the outside. Sigh.

The only tweak I made to the pattern was to add a little pocket to each one. I can’t now remember which pattern I stoke the pocket from – maybe the archer shirt – but you can use any breast pocket pattern.

I matched the stripes on the pockets so that they would kind of blend in. When I first got the fabric – which I think was from Material Girl Laura – I thought about using the navy fabric as the pocket on the mustard top and vice versa, but I decided against that in the end as it would have made too much of a focus out of the pockets, and that wasn’t really the look I was going for.

I made both tops in the size small and I like the fit over all. I could maybe have gone up a size to get a more slouchy fit, which I might do if I make the pattern again.

I especially love the mustard colour of this version. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know how much I love mustard yellow!

I managed to mostly pattern match the side seams, which I measured from the armpits as the hems are obviously at different lengths. Because of the raglan sleeves, it’s impossible to match all the strips but I really don’t think anyone would notice that the stripes aren’t perfectly matched everywhere!

I am hoping to get a bunch of isolation sewing done – maybe I’ll finally catch up on my backlog of projects I want to make!? Are you planning to sew all the things too?