Friday, 27 March 2020

Hoodie Parka - my style of coat

I'm not one to follow fads. I rarely buy patterns when they are first released. I always have a look through my stash to see if I have anything similar I can hack or adapt, or I just draft things myself.

However. I. love. this. pattern. I have loved it since I first saw it on The Assembly Line website well over a year ago. I didn't buy it. When putting my Christmas list together at the back end of last year - on it went and my lovely hubby bought it for me.

I have a long coat, it's one I bought from Next before I started sewing, the piping on it is cracked and it's so old the colour has faded. It's still warm, but I need something a bit more me and this pattern is it. It's completely gift funded - well almost. I had Minerva Crafts vouchers from my sister in law for Christmas and bought some black drill fabric - just enough. She had also given me the fabric I used for the lining for Christmas 2018, which I think she got from the stitching show. There wasn't quite enough for a full lining, so I bought regular black lining for the sleeves. not quite as cool, but much easier to get on and off than lining sleeves with cotton.

A word on fabric requirements; many patterns are generous with their requirements and you can get away with far less. Not so TAL patterns. they are carefully planned and leave you with very little scrap fabric. If it says you need 2.4m then you really do need 2.4m - pay attention!!!!

The pattern is for an unlined coat. It just has a hood and yoke lining but I decided that adding a lining would make it much more effective as a wearable coat and go to planning how I would cut the lining pieces of the coat to make it work. essential I treated the bodice and skirt sections as full-length pieces and cut them less the amount that was folded in for the facing. I did have to think carefully about the order of construction and do things a little differently from the instructions in order to fit the lining in. I constructed the hood lining separately and fully bagged the rest. I also used the lining fabric for the pockets and the underside of the pocket flaps. I also made sleeve heads from some spare fleece fabric, to keep the shape at the top of the sleeves.

The pattern is excellently drafted and is multi-size, which some of the earlier versions of TAL patterns weren't. I made a size small (which is where my measurements put me and the same size I used for the hoodie dress, which is a good fit) and the coat fits, but I think I'd struggle to wear anything thick underneath it. That's ok as I planned this to be a lightweight spring/ summer coat and it's already had a bit of wear. If I was going to make a warmer version I would definitely size up to the medium.

I used Prym snaps for the fastening, but already I've popped one and lost it - thankfully they come in a pack of 10 and I didn't use all of them when first applying them to the coat. It took me quite a while to work out the placement of the snaps as I felt the directions would be unbalanced, so I worked out my own distances between each snap - I think it was about 11cm.

This has to be the coolest coat and now I want to make more. but I have a list of things to make and it will be a while until I finally do that.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Burda 6856 Trousers

Oh My! How long has it been since I posted???? I have stuck to my plans and I have about 5 things on the go all at once. So far 2020 has been hectic as January was panto month and I just don't know where February and March have gone! School is now on shutdown and I'll be in school some days supporting Key Worker's children and working from home on other days - these are strange days indeed. I have been sewing in fits and starts and have completed 4 makes out of 9 from my 2020 sewing plans, plus an extra unplanned make. I'll be posting these over the coming weeks

Anyway on to the latest make...

These could have been a very simple make but ended up being more involved than I really wanted them to be.
I've had these on my radar for well over a year and had planned to make view B with the high waist and pleated front.
I began quite well and made a toile, aren't I good? I cut a 36, which I thought would be ok and actually, the fit wasn't too far off on the waist, although my measurements put me in a 38 I always find I have to remove quite a bit at the waist - not on these. I needed to add a couple of cms to make it a comfy fit. However, this wasn't the deal-breaker. the real issue was that pleat in the front leg - it just looked wrong on me - too much fabric and too much volume. It was going to look wrong, especially in the wool blend fabric I had earmarked for this project.

So instead - desperate to get going on this as it was my first 2020 make, I went for view A. This time I cut a straight size 38, which is my regular size in Burda patterns and straight in my fabric - no toile for this one. As expected I needed to take a great big chunk out of the centre back seam  - about an inch wedge taken out from the waist edge grading to nothing at the crotch curve. It looks a little bagged out here, but the fit is actually good. I've been wearing this all day!

I also found the legs a bit too wide in the wool fabric and took about a cm off the side seams at the waist grading to about an inch from the hip downwards, narrowing the leg slightly.

As my fabric was so thick I decided to sew the pocket bags from some quilting weight cotton and I think that was a good call as the bulk would have been way too much. Once the main part of the trousers were assembled and fitting adjustments made I started on the waistband. It's a curved band cut in the main fabric and a facing. I used the wool for both and in retrospect, a thinner fabric for the facing would have been a better option. I ended up hand stitching the inside waistband as it was just too thick to go through the machine. Plenty of steam and a hammer sorted out the really thick bits, but it was not going to be possible to sew a buttonhole. Instead, I opted for a hook and bar fastening.

I pinned and hemmed the trousers. I used a 2-inch hem and had cut 4 inches off the length before hemming. This was a mistake, as when worn with my docs (which have a heel) they just looked too short. I wore them once and let the hem down. The edge was overlocked already. Thankfully I had kept the pieces I'd cut from the bottom. so I trimmed them to 3 inches wide and overlocked the raw edge, effectively making a new faced hem, which I understitched in order to help keep the fabric and edges sharp. The hems were then sewn by hand - and with this fabric the stitches are invisible.

The length is much better and I love how warm these are - definitely winter wear, but here in the UK, that's exactly what we have at the moment. I think these will get a fair bit of wear before the weather improves. I'm also planning to make a matching waistcoat and I have plans for a shirt with a bow collar too - I have an outfit in my head already, which means I might get around to making something this side of next Christmas, once I've finished all my other planned makes for me and for other people. Next up is the Assembly Line Hoodie Parka. It's already cut out and prepped ready to sew.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Working it

1st make of 2020 completed - I made the Burnside bibs. They're a bit utilitarian but I kind of like that.

I must be the last person on earth to sew up this pattern. I had spent all of 2019 trying to decide which dungarees pattern to sew up. I trawled sewing blogs, pattern review, Pinterest trying to find the perfect pair.

Eventually, I narrowed it down to The Jenny Overalls from Closet Case Patterns and Sew House 7 - Burnside bibs. I love both of these patterns and spent ages trying to decide which ones to make. In the end, the relaxed look of the Burnside bibs won out and that's what I went with. However, I think my fabric choice might have been better and the twill chosen would have suited the Jenny overalls much better as it was quite thick.

I made the straight bib and the version with fewer back gathers and a concealed zip. The fabric was an anthracite twill from Minerva crafts, which they sent me to review. As the fabric was quite thick I really could have done with using a lapped zipper and I wonder how well the concealed zip will hold up over time.

Unusually for me, I cut the pattern tissue and made no alterations at all. My measurements were spot on for the size 6 - so that's what I cut. In hindsight, I should have lengthened the legs by 5 or so cm. I feel like they are a little short, especially when wearing with my platform docs! perfect to wear with a battered pair of converse hightops though.

I thought that these would look rather sack-like, and would add lots of bulk to the waist, but they are actually quite nice and in a lighter weight fabric they would awesome. I wondered how easy they would be to get on and off to go to the loo - as that is an issue with all one-pieces and the main reason I can't bring myself to sew up a full-on jumpsuit - haha! It's safe to report that these are easy to get on and off, without having to fully undo/ redo the ties - winner!

I have plans to make a lighter version for the summer and will be making the cropped length. but for now, these will see me through the rest of winter and into spring.

(The fabric was sent to me free of charge by Minerva Crafts in exchange for a review, which you will be able to read on their website soon. All opinions are my own)

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Sewing top 5 of 2019 and plans

This year I have made 23 items. Quite a few have been reviews for Mineva crafts but there are some that I've made for others and many that I haven't blogged yet.

So here are my top 5 makes, the fails and my plans for 2020 (also includes a bit of crochet).

Top 5
1. Saraste shirt dress  - red floral cotton.
I had Breaking the Pattern from my mum last Christmas and the fabric was from my sister-in-law. Despite not being a floral sort of person I loved this print. I managed to squeeze a slightly shortened Saraste dress from the fabric and Imore have worn this one more than any other dress in my wardrobe.

2. Sugar Skull Saraste 
Same pattern, but this is the full-length version - no sleeves. The fabric is from Minerva. the buttons were from a local haberdashery.

3. Ginger Jeans - Closet Case Patterns
Again - fabric from Minerva, a lovely slub stretch denim. I wasn't too convinced when I first made these, but they have had more wear than any other trousers over the year.

4. Pink Lace Dress
This was a labour of love and time consuming to cut and make, despite being quite a simple design. I'd made this pattern years ago when I first started sewing - It was a free pattern on the old Burdastyle website and I'd adapted it to suit my style. The simple lines made it the perfect option for this heavy cotton lace. I was surprised how much I've worn this - I didn't expect to wear it as much as I have - but it looks fab and is easy to throw on - doesn't really look creased either!

5. Burdastyle Men's shirt
Over 2019 my hubby had lost some weight, which meant that for the first time I could use a standard pattern. I chose one from the Burdastyle Magazine - can't remember which one and initially I made him a short sleeve shirt from some light cotton lawn, but it was very light. So on his request, I made him a long sleeve version from cotton from The Sewing Machine Guy in Ashington. This shirt has had a lot of wear and I now need to make him some more.

5 Fails
Most of these aren't truly fails but don't get quite as much wear as they should. I don't like waste and will not throw stuff out unless it's a disaster - some things need alterations, some just need to be worn more.

1. Skull Top
I quite like this, but it has some issues. It's the Sade Blouse from Breaking the pattern. It's an easy top to make in regular fabric, but in the chiffon, it was challenging. The issues with this are - wrist ties - difficult to do up and get in the way - I need to replace them with elastic; the sleeve gapes - needs a catch stitch to fix and it's a bit short!

2. Faux stretch leather pinafore.
This was all kinds of wrong. the fabric was very light and very stretchy. Not suitable for the pattern at all. It was supposed to be dungarees but it just didn't work. One of the buttonholes went wrong and was too big for the button. My daughter still wears it, but I'm not impressed. Choose the right fabric for the pattern next time!

3. Assembly Line Hoodie Dress - summer version
I love this pattern. My cord version of this gets plenty of wear, but my summer version - not so much. I omitted the hood and the elastic hem. cut the sleeves short. The style is fine, the fabric is fine, but in this light chambray, it just feels a bit too much like a set of scrubs! It still gets worn though.

4. Tencel Shirtdress.
Nothing wrong with this that a bit of length wouldn't fix. The pattern is a hacked Burdastyle magazine pattern.

5. Sequin top.
I thought I would love this and get loads of wear over the holiday period. Nothing wrong with the top, apart from it being too short. I just felt uncomfortable. I haven't worn the skirt or trousers much either. The top was given away.

So What's next? I don't really do Make 9, but I do have a list of things I would like to make. Coming up are...

1. Burnside Bibs - almost done.

2. SOI pussy-bow blouse - cut out in some dragonfly fabric before I try it in my silk bamboo from Raystitch.

3. Burda 6856 Trousers. I was planning on making the pegged version but after a muslin, I realised that they were a bit too poofy for the fabric I had, so the wide-legged version it is. I might try the other version later.

4. Wedding Dress for Fliss - almost done - no pics yet.

5. The Assembly Line - Hoodie Coat
I had the pattern for Christmas, but might make a slightly shorter version and line it too.

6. A royal blue shirt dress - Hobbs style - something like this, but with a mandarin collar:-

7. Wool coat/ Jacket/ poncho - Fabric I had last year, still not decided on a pattern.

8. Upcycling - using up my scraps - probably some bag making and some reroll fashion in the style of ZWD.

9. Mending my Pink seamed dress - I managed to tear it at the CF hem, I also want to alter the neckline shape which I have bought some bias binding for as I don't have any fabric the correct colour in the stash.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Tencel Shirt dress

I almost forgot that I'd made this dress for one of my Minerva makes.

A while ago Bethan decided that she wanted a short tunic style dress in chambray and when this fabric came up for review I knew it would be perfect for the job. I've never sewn with Tencel before this but was pleasantly surprised at how nice the feel was.

I used a Burdastyle #132 from 02/2013 issue of the magazine and altered the pattern to create more length. It's definitely a summer weight dress and I doubt it will get much wear until the weather warms up unless Bethan decided to layer it with leggings and a sweater.

I was sent this fabric free of charge by Minerva in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own and you can read the full details over on the Minerva blog.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Bling Bling

A while ago I had the opportunity to review some sequin fabric for Minerva. I have never sewn with sequin fabric before and I'm not sure it's an experience I want to repeat often. Don't get me wrong - the fabric is lovely, but it was very hard on my machine needles - I broke loads.

I used this fabric to try out some ideas I had. I fancied a cropped top and jacket. I lined the top with some lovely stretch cotton from 1st for fabrics. and I also paired the top and jacket with a pencil skirt and some slim cropped trousers - both of which were made from the same stretch cotton.

I used Closet Case Ginger Jeans pattern for the trousers and ended up over fitting and almost ditched them, but then I hate waste so I re did the side seams and inseams and they are a perfect - if very close fit.

The skirt is the pencil skirt from Gertie's new book for better sewing - I've made this a few times as it fits my waist to hip ratio well. Due to the stretch of the fabric, I did take this in quite a bit.

I think I made the top just a little too short and maybe needed to keep it at waist length - I have a very long torso so any gap is going to be accentuated!

I have decided that these tops are not really me and will probably end up being gifted or worn by my daughter. The details of the fabric and my full review of it can be found on Minerva's blog.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Hair Raising

I'd like to share with you my experience of changing my hair washing routine to something a little less chemical-laden.

Way back in early August I decided that I would like to reduce my use of plastics in the bathroom and decided that I'd give solid shampoo a go. For my birthday I'd had a selection of goodies from the Ethical Superstore, one of which was this small Lamazuna shampoo bar. I found this bar worked quite well for my hair, but it did leave it quite frizzy, but it felt clean. it is quite pricey at £9.99 and I knew that it would be out of my budget to use this all the time.

At the end of August, I had attended a simple soap making course, which used melt and pour soaps and you added the essential oils and exfoliants. I thoroughly enjoyed this, but after a bit more reading I realised that the chemicals in these soaps are basically the same as the mass-produced ones and I became more interested in truly hand made soaps that are SLS free. I plan to do a course on making these at some point. This made me realise that I needed to buy a natural solid shampoo bar to use to wash my hair.

I tried the Friendly shampoo bar - It's a good price and I knew it would last. However, with just the first application, my hair felt claggy and looked awful. I had heard about transition periods for using this type of shampoo and thought that after a few washes it would be fine. It wasn't! Then I tried Alter/Native shampoo bar and conditioner bar. At first, this seemed much better. The conditioning bar left a silky smooth coating and my hands felt great after using it. However after just two uses, my hair felt clogged up and straw-like - my husband even commented on how awful it looked and I ended up wearing it up all the time. I heard I needed to rinse it out really well and used an apple cider vinegar rinse, but it didn't really help. After a couple of weeks of my hair feeling awful I was getting completely sick and tired.

I began to read more about the experiences of other people and how some found that the transition period could last up to 6 weeks and those with short hair had fewer issues - I considered cutting my hair. Further reading, however, shed more light on the issues I was having - it was all down to the hardness of the water.

I live in an area where the water is slightly hard. This can have a massive impact on the effectiveness of natural soaps. In a soft water area, the soap will lather easily and be washed away without leaving build-up on the hair. In a hard water area, the soap does not lather as well - this is masked in commercial products bu SLS which is a chemical that makes the product lather, but also strips the hair/ body of its natural oils - making you need to wash it more. Hard water areas typically have a build-up of limescale and soaps do not lather - or rinse out easily. So there was nothing wrong with either of the shampoo bars I used - it's down to the type of water.

Further reading led to hear about those who advocated the 'no-poo' method of washing hair. This seems a ridiculous term, but I liked the idea. Some used just water, others shampoo bars and others used just apple cider vinegar rinse. Some people also used Bicarbonate of soda. So before trying yet another solid shampoo that may or may not work in our area, I decided to go for the simple option and use what I already had in the kitchen.

I have settled on a Bicarbonate of Soda wash every now and again and apple cider vinegar rinses in between. I mix the bicarb with warm filtered water and apply to my hair. letting it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it out with clean water. The ACV rinse is simply 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 water, also applied to the hair and then rinsed after a few minutes.

Initially, my hair became quite greasy within about 3 days, but after a couple of weeks, I could last a whole week without washing my hair - tying it up for the last couple of days. I even managed to continue the regime on my holiday in Spain. The water there was super hard and as it was warm I needed to wash my hair a bit more often. So I'm 4 weeks in. I'm not convinced it this will be a long term option for me but at the moment it's working and my hair is in good condition.

I'd love your advice if you've been on this journey and have any pearls of wisdom to share.


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