Made by Me!

Saturday, 16 January 2016

My 'Granny Chic' Sewaholic Fraser Sweatshirt!

So this is my second Fraser, in a completely different stretch fabric than my original version blogged about here. I like to call it 'Granny Chic' as the fabric reminds me of old people but in a nice way!!


It's a weird jersey made of a polyester, viscose mix and so it feels more sporty than soft and luxurious to touch but its a sturdy fabric and I think the damson colour is divine! It is a pique jersey which means it doesn't have a smooth surface, I would describe it  as a waffle weave with a raised surface. I am contemplating whether or not it will be super sweaty....hoping not! One thing I realised whilst sewing with it is that it doesn't iron as well as I hoped (and I had a feeling it might not do so well on a hot iron) so my pressing is not as good as I would like in some places. If you fancy snaffling some then I originally got it from Dragonfly Fabrics but I don't think they appear to have any stock left now, however I did spot some on the Fabric Godmother website.


This is version C (one of three style options) with the collar inset which I made from leftover black jersey fabric from my last Fraser. I kept to the three quarter length sleeves which I used on my last version, it is styled on the pattern packet with short sleeves but I felt the short ones would be a little chilly as the temperatures are dropping past zero now. Honestly this probably isn't warm enough either but its pretty and that's all that matters!


I put this together in a record 3 hours last night. I had been off ill from work for two days - and watching 'Making a Murderer' on Netflix which is super addictive! I had no desire to sew but as soon as I felt better I wanted a doable sewing challenge in an evening and this fabric came calling from my stash. It doesn't have a lot of give in it but it was super easy to cut and put together unlike a lot of jersey materials that I have come across - it doesn't help when your only cutting table is carpet though! The only issue was the neck, waist and sleeve bands, all of which needed a little more length then the original pattern due to the lack of stretch. It puckers very slightly at the back of the neckline because it is more taut that it should be but I hope it isn't really noticeable. I sewed the other pieces with a 3/8 instead of 5/8 seam allowance when sewing the loops together and it allowed just that little bit of extra fabric on the remaining bands. It isn't perfect but its better.


The hardest part about this top was getting the collar segments in - or more specifically pivoting around the corners to make it nice and smooth. The second one I sewed in is definitely better than the first! My tip is to pin it all first and take it slow!


I really love this outfit and I hope you do too! Is there a Fraser on your sewing list or have you made one already? I would love to see your versions. Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

By Hand London - Charlotte Skirt Finished!

My first make of 2016 - or technically last of 2015 - the Charlotte skirt is one sassy little minx. It has a bold and unusual silhouette with the addition of the ruffled peplum around the waist (one of three styling options). It kind of makes you feel like a lady when you wear it and its wonderfully slimming on the body. Yay for my post Christmas belly! It has a lovely vintage feel to it and is both elegant and fun at the same time. I love it! The By Hand London ladies have done a great job with this beginner pattern and it makes me wonder why I left this lingering in my sewing drawer for so long. It is in fact the first time I have sewn up one of their patterns although I do own three of them. Shameful I know and something I must rectify soon!

                          
This was my New Years Eve outfit. My boyfriend said I looked very pretty (aww) and he rarely gets excited about the things I make! The pattern itself took a day - from cutting out to hand sewing the hem and waistband down. When I wore it round the house to test it out it was comfortable and I could move easily in it. I hate tight fitting things that make you feel constricted, especially around the middle. I easily ate a large meal and downed a few New Years drinks in this baby. As a side note the peplum can hide a multitude of belly sins which can only be a plus!


I had a couple of issues putting this skirt together. Firstly whilst I graded the pattern to my size as I am in between a 12 and 14 when I was trying it on during construction I quickly realised it wouldn't fit around my hips and so I had to reduce the seam allowance from 5/8's to 3/8's across the whole skirt. This also had an effect on the waistband as it didn't fit in the way they suggest (which is to overlap part of the waistband to create a nice lapped finish). I constructed a standard waistband and using a longer zip I just sewed it in right up to the top of the garment, as I wouldn't have had anywhere to put the requisite hooks and eyes or poppers to close it up without the lapped element of the waistband. I think it worked fine.


The fabric I chose wasn't long enough for the peplum either so I cut out two long sections instead of one long one and then I cut one of these pieces into two. One section was for the skirt front and the other two to cover either side of the back skirt sections. Again this worked fine and was a good solution. You cant tell it wasn't meant to be like that and it also saved a tonne of fabric. I only used about 1 and 3/4 metres in the end instead of the 3 and 1/2 yards (just over 3 metres) that they suggest.


My main issue was that I didn't use a stretchy fabric as suggested - I know naughty, naughty. Now in the main this is fine for this pattern but this skirt is not very adaptable for walking and without any stretch it kind of makes for a hobbling - or tip toeing walk which is soooo frustrating!! It may be considered dainty and ladylike on some but not on me as I like to stride London stylee! Basically I just need to add a walking vent at the back to help with this issue which wont take long but the photos here show it as it was made, sewn all the way down to the bottom. In honesty I am really not sure that a stretch fabric would have made much difference and in a lot of reviews I read prior to cutting into my fabric they all said it had loads of ease for walking so I wasn't too worried. Walking around at home I failed to see the problems a tight skirt like this would cause and went out without testing it further. But as I found out it caused problems aplenty - from bending down to put my shoes on which I discarded when dancing - I had to sit on a chair and get my boyfriend to put them back on again!! I looked like a little bit of a Princess at that point! Getting in and out of cars was also an issue and steps were a bit of a pain! So I think it should be no surprise that I wholeheartedly disagree with the ease of the skirt being adequate but I may just be the wrong person for this type of ladylike silhouette!!

Other than that this was a lovely item to make and I will definitely make it again, with the walking vent of course!! The fabric I chose was also wonderful to work with. Its a sturdy cotton with a vintage look to it which came from The Fabric Godmother and is called Fleq Cotton - there is still some left and it also comes in a blue colourway. I would recommend this pattern to you to try if you haven't already but I suggest a toile would be advisable. I never do them - I admit this is bad practise but I am far too lazy for this type of thing. I tend to just fit on me which doesn't always work and in this instance it almost didn't. Thankfully I have a little experience from past projects that made me aware of how I could save the day with this skirt and not ruin a whole 2 metres of gorgeous fabric. A total beginner, as the pattern is aimed at, may not be so lucky.


Lastly the jumper is upcycled from a Whistles jumper dress I inadvisably bought after a bad job interview last winter. It was really old fashioned, too tight and I had the figure for it for all of 10 minutes so I decided it would be better as a jumper. I cut it just below the hip line and then took the ribbed edge off the bottom of the dress and serged it on to the bottom. It makes a rather lovely and sparkly jumper now and I actually wear it!


What do you think? Have you sewn up a Charlotte skirt before? If so what did you think about it?

Friday, 1 January 2016

Looking Back - A Thought On Sewing in 2015

I recently came across Seamwork Radio, a podcast series made by Sarai Mitnick at Colette Patterns. I don't think I have ever really listened to a podcast before...which probably says a lot about my social media knowledge or lack thereof than anything else, but when I found one centred around sewing I decided tune in and have a listen. I didn't know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised to hear a rather wonderful interview that managed to strike some emotional chords. The series focuses on how sewing plays a part in the interviewees life and I found it really interesting to listen to someone elses experience of finding and loving this craft we all hold dear. I listened to all of the podcasts one after the other and felt inspired by these people's stories; people who have found purpose, solace, and in some cases, a living through sewing, all told in a very open and frank fashion. My favourite interviewee was probably Charlie, mainly because I identified with her story the most, and then I checked out her blog Noble and Daughter which is awesome. She has great style and makes great clothes!! Colette has opened up a really interesting discourse with these podcasts and it made me want to both explore the importance of sewing in my own life and reflect on my own sewing journey during the last year. So whilst listening to other peoples stories I started thinking about how I came to start sewing, why I was attracted to it and what it is that makes me continue to sew years later.

     

My sewing journey started when a past relationship had become stifling. We had moved in together too quickly and it was all a little too much. Stepping on eggshells in your own home is never nice. I have always had a creative leaning although my brother was the lucky one when it came to being blessed with true creativity, being a successful artist and graphic designer. I searched for something to do, to take me out the house a little and get me mixing with other people and thought an evening course would be ideal. I knew I wanted something within the artistic/ creative field but when looking for a course I seemed to be guided to try sewing. My mother and grandmothers both sewed in the past and so this definitely influenced my decision, I still remember the lovely dresses my Mum used to make me when I was little - indeed the fact I started sewing has made my Mum take it up again after years and years of her sewing machine lying dormant! Result!

               

Before I started classes I tried out a couple of patterns so I had an idea of what I was getting into - with a few helpful hints from my Mum over the phone  - but even with her help I was pretty unsuccessful and made all the classic mistakes of a first time, over enthusiastic seamstress (mainly not measuring myself!!) but I was hooked. And when the course started I finally had some space and some room to be myself and explore my creativity. It was something that I could focus on, and was just for me, allowing me mental space even in my own home. I created many items of clothing in those first few months of sewing - some which were designated to the bin and others to keep and parade outside the house proudly, although looking back they probably looked really homemade! I slowly gained some confidence in my skills and I just ran with it. When my relationship went bad and we split up I found a great solace in being able to sew. Being able to focus on sewing was very therapeutic. I wonder how many other people have used crafts to help them through moments of grief in their lives??


I look back at the first top I made all those years ago and see how far I have come, all the skills I have learnt and developed, and whilst nowadays I continue to sew it's definitely not as much as I would like. There are so many positives to this craft. In times of stress it allows me a moment of calm. I cannot concentrate on anything other than sewing when I am sewing and that gives my mind a break from the things that are troubling me, with work as always proving to be my biggest nemesis in terms of stress. It allows me to be individual, after all no-one has what is in my wardrobe but me! In turn it allows me to be creative, something I have found has been repressed in my working life even in the creative industry I work in. I admit to thinking a lot recently about what place sewing has in my life and where I am going with it. Looking to the future I would love it to be more than a hobby though I feel I have a long way to go before that happens. Looking back at the last year I have sewn a lot of diverse garments and I have learnt a lot, however I have failed at certain things this year, my resolutions for 2015 have all but been forgotten (vintage fashion pledge...yep never happened...) and skill sets in some areas have not progressed in the way that I have wanted. But looking at the positives I can see that I have honed my craft so much in the last 12 months, my sewing is better, more professional (and my boyfriend says less swearing comes from the sewing room now so that has to be good?!).  I wear practically everything I make now and I get compliments on everything which is a bit of a u-turn for me. People say I am good at it and I am starting to believe them. For the first time on my blogging journey I really am on the way to having a handmade wardrobe and it feels good. For so long it felt a little like an uphill battle to achieve this with items being relegated to the back of the closet but we all have the odd dud items that we should never have made don’t we?!

             

So when I look back on the year I realise I have come a long way with this hobby. I realise that resolutions weigh you down and make you feel like a failure when you don't rise to achieve them so I don't intend to make any this year. I just plan to allow more time for myself to create as that's what really makes me happy. I am mindful that this is something that I have chosen to do forever, well as long as my eyesight holds up, and I plan to enjoy every moment. Sewing is now a friend and as much a part of my life as sleeping and eating. I can’t imagine a day without it even if it’s simply perusing patterns and daydreaming about sewing my next item up.

My favourite make this year!
Do you feel the same? How did you come to sew and why is it so important to you? Have you decided to make any sewing resolutions? Whatever your plans I hope you all have a wonderful 2016 which includes lots and lots of sewing!

Before you go why not check out the most popular blog posts from 2015:
Gertie's wrap dress from 'Gertie Sews Vintage Casual'
My winter Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns.
My Erin Culottes by Style Arc Patterns
And finally the self drafted skirt and workroom social top I made for the Ultimate Vegas Outfit challenge