White Melilot Shirt

Wao another shirt (I hear you all crying!). I can promise this will be the last shirt I post here for a while! I planned this shirt as an alternative to my white Archer for playing in the brass band I play in (white shirts are part of our uniform). Little did I know when I was planning it that I wouldn’t be playing for almost a year! But you can never have too many white shirts in my opinion.

I still really like the shape of the hem of the Melilot. It also doesn’t have a yoke so it’s a good pattern to start with if you’re wary of venturing into shirt making.

The fabric is not the best quality to be honest. It’s certainly not as nice as the stuff I used for the archer. It feels and sounds shiny and crinkly which makes me think it’s definitely got some synthetic fibres in. I bought it with a voucher I won at Sew Brum a couple of years ago I think (it’s literally the only time I’ve won anything). It was from Clothspot which I had never heard of before (and haven’t shopped with since, embarrassingly). There were slim pickens for things I felt would work in my wardrobe so I got this white fabric and some fabric for trousers, which is also pretty synthetic feeling (though I haven’t sewn them up yet). I think that’s why I like to stick with the same few online fabric shops I’ve shopped with before as you know you’re going to get good quality fabric.

The Melilot as drafted has a rounded collar. I’ve made 3 other versions (see the bottom of the post), all with the rounded collar but because we wear a tie in band I thought that might look a bit odd so I made the collar pointed. I used the collar pattern piece from the archer shirt as the template for the edge of the collar but kept the rest of it as in the original pattern so it would still fit on the stand.

I made the size 38 and, as with my other versions, I made no fitting changes. I made the long sleeved version for versatility of using it in multiple seasons – and I can always roll up the sleeves if it’s especially hot! Though actually if I’m playing a band gig in the blazing sun (as I’ve done a few times) I learnt the hard way to keep your sleeves rolled down to prevent arm sunburn (I didn’t bring my sun cream because I didn’t think we’d be outside that long – also a hard lesson learnt!). A lot of people think I’m overly obsessed with sun cream but, seriously, I can burn in like 10-15 minutes!

Anyway….shirts! I put 2 pockets on because why not.

The top-stitching on this shirt is definitely not my best handiwork (though I didn’t take any close ups) because my machine was having tension issues. I fiddled with the tension to get it better but nothing seemed to work. I gave the little screw on the bobbin a tiny turn and that seemed to help a little but I think it probably needs another service. I’ve had my machine for probably 7-8 years and I had it serviced when we moved to Cirencester coming up for 5 years ago and this year especially it has probably had the equivalent of 2 years of ‘normal’ use when I was furloughed for so long!

I think I’m going to start saving up for a new sewing machine though as I could probably do with an upgrade – though this machine (which is the £110 model from John Lewis) has done basically everything I’ve needed it to do, from coats to jeans, to many many shirts, to sequinned dresses. I also want a new overlocker as I have the Lidl Singer and the tension is always off, no matter what I do – it’s fine for neatening seams but I don’t trust it enough to actually sew seams on it. Which machine do you use? What do you love/hate about it? I think given their not great responses to various members of the sewing community about accessibility information and them seeming to lie about working with disable sewists, I’ll be most likely avoiding Pfaff.

Are you especially obsessed with a particular kind of garment? I’ve definitely got enough shirts for now so I’m going to have to pause my shirt-making.

 

 

Another Nancy Dress

Do you ever have projects that you cut out and then loads of things get made first and the project languishes in your ‘to make’  pile for months? I do. This is one such make.

I kind of felt like I had to make this Nancy Dress (Sew Over It) because I cut it out so long ago. Even though I don’t really wear dresses any more. Maybe I would if I didn’t live in such a shitty, cold country. I’m really grumpy about the weather at the moment, can you tell? I’m really fed up of being cold for 4-5 months of the year so the thought of actually wearing this dress at the moment makes me want to crawl up in a ball and wait to freeze to death.

Too dramatic?

Maybe I’ll be interested in wearing this in Spring/Summer for the 3 weeks when we actually have nice weather in the UK? I hope so as I do like the way the Nancy looks and feels to wear. I made another version in one of my favourite fabrics I’ve ever used but since I stopped working in an office, I don’t think I’ve worn it.

This is another viscose and I bought it so long ago I have absolutely no recollection of from where. I think a light, drapey fabric works really well for this pattern – though maybe something with more body would look cool too as the fullness of the skirt would hold its shape more.

A great bonus of this pattern is that there is no zip to fiddle with – it’s just a button (and I added a loop) at the top of the opening which allows you to get the dress on.

I made the straight size 10, as I did last time, with no changes. I have learnt from sewing for so long that I have a disproportionally small bust compared to my other measurements and having made things that end up tight on my arms /shoulders more times than I can count, I finally realise I should not pick sizes according to my bust measurement, but my hip and waist. Then if the pattern is fitted to a small bust adjustment – which I didn’t do here as the pattern is drafted with a lot of ease and it makes it a comfortable dress to wear.

I do love the fullness of the skirt!

I kind of forgot actually how comfortable dresses can be, especially to sit in. I love all the jeans I’ve made but if I’m spending a day sitting at my sewing machine (for example!) then I won’t put them on as they’re not the best for long-term sitting in. This is an especially comfortable dress for lounging in as it’s so easy to wear.

I’ve only made two Sew Over It patterns and the Anderson Blouse I made got remade this Summer. I think like a lot of sewists, judging by general trends, I started off interested in more retro styles (especially the 60s) and then evolved into wanting to make more every day basics, realising that my lifestyle is more suited to jeans and shirts than beautifully fitted retro dresses so I’ve moved away from the pattern companies who have a more retro aesthetic. Having said that maybe the Nancy is a good mid-way point as it’s still comfortable for every day wear but I still enjoy the slight nod to the 60s.

I managed to catch an outtake of myself with a remote control on my camera – that takes real skill, if I say so myself!

 

 

Christmas Bunting Tutorial (and template)

A couple of years ago I made this Christmas bunting and have finally got around to blogging this tutorial so you can make some yourself. I went for the maybe slightly garish but traditional Christmas colours of green and red but I think it would look cute with gold or silver with red or green. Or all in the same colour!

I didn’t really write proper notes on how much fabric I used, but I would have thought half a metre of each colour would be enough and 3.1m of bias binding for the top.

You can download the background template and the Christmas tree pattern here. The text I used was stencil font in size 185pt but you can pick a font you especially like.

I cut out 18 red backgrounds and 16 in green – you need 2 pieces per triangle. I wrote out a plan of which letters I needed in which colours so that the colours were opposite to the backgrounds, making sure the Christmas trees were all on red – which worked out perfectly!

I stitched each letter on with a narrow zigzag stitch to minimise the fraying potential. You could, of course, use felt for your letters so then you could stitch them with a straight stitch.

The letters ended up looking a little hairy but from a distance I think they look fine!

For the Christmas trees, as well as zigzagging around the edge, I used some yellow thread from my stash to make it look like it had some tinsel on – without it it looked a bit bare and like…..just a tree, instead of a Christmas tree.

The background pieces have a 1cm seam allowance. Once you’ve sewn all your letters (and trees) onto a single layer of backing fabric, then place it right sides together with a matching backing piece and stitch around the 2 diagonal sides, but NOT THE TOP. Then trim the point, and turn it the right side out, pressing them so they lie flat. Then line them all up, in order, and stitch the bias binding on the top! And voila! A new Christmas decoration!

I know this Christmas is probably not going to be like it has been in previous years but I think making things feel festive at home is a small thing we can each do to try to celebrate however we can.

Do tag me on instagram if you use this tutorial – I’m @sewingmachinations.

 

 

Blaire Shirt (I have a shirt-making problem!)

I’m pretty sure I kinda said I was done making shirts a while ago (though I think I acknowledged that I had 2 more planned…..this is one of the 2. And then I’m really going to stop, honest!

I’d kinda forgotten about the Blaire pattern (as I was on a Kalle- and Archer-making kick most recently) but I really like it! I’ve made it once before, in peachskin, which is really quite a sweaty fabric so I don’t wear it as much as I could. But I think this one will get loads of wear (once the weather is warm enough for short sleeves (with or without a cardigan).

I again made the size 8 without any fitting changes, though I did leave off the underneath panel which I added last time (I’m still not entirely sure whether the different bottom panels are interchangeable or meant to be used together, and Style Arc’s instructions have to be the sparsest in the business, even more so than the big 4). I did this because my fabric was very limited – I bought I think 3 separate remnants of it from Guthrie and Ghani at the Sewing Bee Live. I knew I would be pushing it to be able to make much but I’m glad I managed to squeeze out all the pieces for this shirt, though I obviously couldn’t fully pattern match but I don’t think it’s too obvious.

I love the little peek of skin on the side from the shape of the side seam – and wearing it with my high-waisted black dawn jeans, the peek isn’t too much for what I’m comfortable with!

As I mentioned before, although the instructions are very limited, this is a slightly simpler shirt pattern than, say, the Archer or Kalle as there is no back yoke – so you don’t have to wrestle with a burrito! And there are no cuffs/ sleeve plackets. So if you’re looking for an easier shirt to try for your first one this could be a good choice. Though I would also really recommend the Archer as the instructions are excellent and there’s a full sewalong on the Grainline blog, including some videos for the trickier parts.

I used plain black buttons which I had in my stash, and I’m amazed how well they seem to blend in in these photos!

Do you have a particular garment that you can’t stop making? I don’t know why I’ve made so many shirts! I’ve got a white Melilot made (I just need to photograph it) and then I really am don’t for a while! I think I might love shirts because often the kinds of fabrics I’m drawn to, I think ‘that would make a great shirt’ if it’s a woven – because I don’t really wear dresses that much and making a plain tee would be less interesting somehow (though I’ve also got loads of those thanks to my Inari binge over the Summer).


 

Reusable Make Up Pads (finally)

I’ve been meaning to make some reusable make up pads for aaaaages and kept procrastinating for some reason.

I started off my measuring one of my last disposable cotton wool pads to get a rough size, and decided to round up to 6cm for ease of measuring – instead of going for, like, 5.8cm!

I had been keeping this leftover sweat-shirting (from my CocoWawa crafts chestnut sweatshirt) specifically for making these pads because it’s fleece-lined and I figured that would be nice and soft on my face. I’ve read some other people’s posts about making these and it seemed like softness was key.

I also used some striped jersey scraps for the backs. It was necessarily deliberate that both fabrics I used for the back were stripey but it’s a happy accident as I think they look cute!

I decided to go for squares instead of circles because a) it would be less wasteful of fabric and b) it would be easier for overlocking as I don’t think I’m that dexterous to feed tiny circles through my overlocker.

I spent an evening in front of the TV tying off all of the overlocker ends and now they look all neat and nice! I did get a little carried away and made, like 60! But my thought process was the more I make, the less often I have to wash them. I think I need to make a bag to wash them inside but obviously it has to be loosely woven to allow them to actually get washed – but I don’t fancy having them floating un-tethered around the washing machine. Any suggestions?

I had this jar lying around (which I was using for porridge oats but I don’t really eat porridge any more) and it’s the perfect size for all of the pads. I have used them for a week or so since finishing them and I have to say I prefer them to the disposable versions. They’re actually softer than cotton wool, and my face feels just as cleansed. I haven’t been wearing much make-up recently (and don’t generally wear loads) but I did have eye-liner and mascara on one day and there was no problem removing it all.

I’m sooo glad I finally got around to making these – I felt bad every time I threw one of the cotton wool ones in the bin! What are your favourite sustainable things (homemade or not) which have reduced your impact on the planet?