Thursday, 3 May 2018

Sewing Lingerie - #sewoutofthisworld

After crossing one of my 2018 Make Nine projects off my list with my Carolyn pyjamas in my last blog post, today I've got another two of my nine finished and ready to share with you - specifically a Cloth Habit Watson bra and some Megan Nielsen Acacia knickers.


I've been interested in the idea of sewing lingerie for a while now, not least because it seemed like it would be a good way of using up leftover pieces of jersey, but it kept getting pushed down the sewing list in favour of garments that I could show off to the outside world.

When I heard about the Sew Out of This World challenge that is currently (until tomorrow anyway!) being hosted by Sew Loco, it seemed like taking on mission one of the challenge would be a good incentive to finally give lingerie making a try.


I decided to start with the easier half of my mission and tackle knickers first. The Acacia knickers are low rise bikini cut - a nice simple pair of knickers for my first attempt. Especially because this is a free pattern (who doesn't love a freebie?!). The fact that this is a free pattern in no way means that you're not getting something as good as if you'd paid for it - the fit is good, the pattern pieces all match up well, and the instructions are clear and thorough, even including three different elastic insertion methods (regular elastic, lingerie elastic and foldover elastic).

The knickers were really quick to sew, although it has to be said mine aren't perfect. This is in no way any fault of the pattern - it's just due to the fact that I hadn't used lingerie elastic before and my sewing in that area could definitely have been tidier. They're perfectly wearable though, which is the main thing!


Next, I moved on to the Watson bra. This is a soft, non-underwired bra with a plunge neckline and the options of a longline style or a shorter band - I went for the longline version.

Like the Acacia, the instructions for the Watson were very thorough - I particularly liked the fact that they included specific details on the width/length of zigzag stitch that should be used for each of the individual steps. This meant that the process was fairly straightforward, even though it was my first attempt at bra making.


While I didn't have any trouble working out what I should be doing, I did struggle a bit with actually getting my sewing machine to sew what I needed it to! Sewing the top of the cups down after looping them through the rings was a particularly tricky because the layers of elastic were quite thick, but I made it work in the end (although I wouldn't want the neatness to be subject to close scrutiny!).

Based on my measurements, I made a 38A and the bra fits me really well. I was slightly dubious about how supportive such a soft bra would be but, for me and my not-especially-large bust, it's fine for light daily wear.

The cherry print jersey I used for both of these project is left over from a top I made (but apparently didn't blog) a few years ago. The findings for the Watson came in a pack from Sewn (but Marie isn't running her shop at the moment), and the lingerie elastic for my Acacia was from this ebay seller.


Having finished my two original intended projects, I decided to go with the space theme of the Sew Out of This World challenge and make some star print knickers. This time I used the Scroop Patterns Wonder Unders pattern, which I'd bought a while ago with the intention of making the slip (haven't got around to that yet!).

These are very similar to the Acacia knickers, but with slightly more coverage. The construction was also similar, so there were no big surprises there. The major difference for me was in the elastics that I used for the two different pairs - both pairs use lingerie elastic, but the blue on my Acacia knickers is fairly soft and stretchy, whereas the black on the Wonder Unders is much firmer and needed much more force to stretch it to fit. Because of this, my Acacia knickers feel ever-so-slightly loose, while the Wonder Unders are a touch tight. Both are wearable, but with the benefit of hindsight and experience, I should probably have cut the Acacia elastic a bit shorter and the Wonder Under elastic a bit longer.


So, what's my verdict on lingerie making? Well, I'll definitely be making more knickers! They're a quick project, and a great way of using up leftover jersey. I'd quite like to try out a couple of other patterns to work out my perfect style, which I could then make over and over. As for bras, I'm definitely not ruling out making more, but there's a part of me that thinks that this is one case where M&S can probably do a better job! Have you tried sewing lingerie? Any patterns to recommend to me?

Monday, 23 April 2018

Closet Case Patterns Carolyn Pyjamas

The Closet Case Patterns Carolyn Pyjamas have been on my sewing list for a long time now. I bought the pattern getting on for two years ago, and included it on my #2017makenine list. I didn't get round to making it last year so it was the first choice for this year's make nine list, and I'm happy to say that I've now finally sewn some fancy new pyjamas.


The Carolyn pyjamas feature a notched collar button up top, with a curved hem, breast pocket and sleeve options, with straight legged trousers or shorts, which both have an elasticated waist, pockets and faux fly. The pyjamas are also designed to use pretty contrasting piping details.

I used the short sleeved top from view C and I had masses of fabric so was actually able to make both the cuff-free trousers from view A and the shorts from view C.


In some ways, my version is a bit of a minimalist version of the Carolyn set. I was treating this as a (very) wearable toile and because of that, I didn't want to spend ages making piping (I couldn't find any in quite the right colour) and adding it this time - although I fully intend to make some more with piping now that these have turned out to be a success.

As I wasn't using piping, there didn't seem much point in using the cuffs because they wouldn't stand out properly so I just lengthened the pattern pieces for the sleeves and shorts so that they included the extra length that would have been provided by the cuffs. I also didn't use the breast pocket on the top because I knew that I'd never use it and I think my print is busy enough that it doesn't need a decorative pocket.


In terms of sizing, I followed my measurements and made a size 12 for the top and size 14 for the waist and hips of the trousers/shorts. I've heard some other people mention that the trousers/shorts are closer fitting through the legs so I blended out to a size 16 through the thighs because my thighs are proportionately quite large (a genetic 'gift' that I apparently have my Grandpa to thank for!). Let's face it, fit isn't as important on PJs as it would be on some other garments, but I think they've turned out to be the right combination of comfortably loose without being shapeless and tent-like.


The fabric I used is a fun raspberry print cotton and, depending on your bed linen purchasing preferences, may be familiar to some people because it's actually from an Ikea duvet cover (hence having masses of fabric!) from a couple of years ago. I originally bought it intending to make a dress, but I think it's actually better as pyjamas.


Sewing the Carolyn pyjamas was a really enjoyable process. They're a nice combination of the simplicity that you would usually expect from sewing pyjama trousers with the addition of the slightly more interesting faux fly, and the notched collar and buttonholes/buttons of the top. And of course the piping if I hadn't chosen to omit it!

They're perhaps not as beginner-friendly as some other pyjama patterns, but the instructions are very thorough and mean that even the slightly more challenging elements of the pattern are in no way tricky or daunting if you just take everything step by step.


I love how my Carolyn pyjamas turned out. It may seem like a small thing, but one of my favourite parts of the pattern is that it uses thicker waist elastic than some other PJs, which makes them really comfy. You'll hopefully be seeing some more pyjamas from me at some point soon-ish -  my pyjama drawer had got a bit neglected and I've got the Nina Lee Piccadilly pattern and a fun cotton print waiting to be combined together. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Home: Craft Drawer

The project I'm sharing today is something that I've been wanting to make for a few years after seeing the idea in an old issue of Homemaker magazine. It's taken me this long to get around to it because the main item on the list of supplies needed was "Old wooden drawer". I don't know about you, but I don't generally have that many old wooden drawers sitting around so knew I'd just have to keep my eye out for one and put the project to the back of my mind until something came along. A little while ago I found just what I was looking for - here it is...


At this point I should say that, while I said in my post about my chest of drawers that I wanted to paint all the furniture, there are some things that I think are too nice to be repainted. Had this drawer still been in its chest with some fellow drawers, I suspect it would have fallen into that category because it is lovely wood. On its own, on the other hand, I decided that most people wouldn't want it so it was fair enough for me to adulterate it a bit, namely by painting it bright pink and putting some legs on it.


This might look like a slightly strange item of furniture, but when I saw the original project in the magazine I instantly thought that it would be great for sitting next to my sofa and holding all of my various crafting projects (knitting, crochet, EPP etc.).


I sanded the drawer down, and then painted it using V33 Easy Ultra Pink Gloss furniture paint. While I'm happy with the colour and finish that I've ended up with, I wouldn't particularly recommend this paint if you're aiming for a strong, solid colour. The coverage really wasn't great and the colour was quite watery - I ended up having to do five coats on the drawer. That's not a problem necessarily, but other furniture paint I've used as given a much better coverage and only needed one or two.

The legs that I've used came from Peter Cook International, and I would happily recommend them! They're just right for this project, and arrived really quickly. I would tell you about attaching the legs, but my Dad helpfully volunteered to take on that job and I'm not actually sure what he did.


The last step for the drawer itself was to line the bottom with some pretty paper. This is some children's wallpaper from Homebase, and is actually the same that I used to line the drawers of my chest of drawers too.


The only problem then was that, in my humble opinion, sofa-based crafts generally need a cup of tea and an occasional sweet treat to accompany them and the craft drawer didn't have any space for them. Thankfully, my parents had an old wooden tray that my Mum had sanded down a while ago, but then hadn't actually got around to painting. I painted it white, and then my Dad attached some dowels to the bottom to help it sit securely in place on top of the drawer. It's now the perfect place for refreshments (or flowers) to sit.


My craft drawer has now been in place next to my sofa for a couple of weeks, and I'm so pleased with it. It means that all of my knitting and crochet projects, and hand sewing supplies, are kept nice and tidy but within easy reach whenever I want to pick one of them up to work on for a while. And it's bright pink - who doesn't love a bit of cheery colour?! If you happen to have an old drawer lying around and lots of craft projects to keep in order, I'd definitely recommend giving this a go!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Book Review: Stitched Sewing Organizers by Aneela Hoey

Today I thought I'd share a little review of the book Stitched Sewing Organizers: Pretty Cases, Boxes, Pouches, Pincushions & More by Aneela Hoey. I bought the book a while ago, but I didn't want to write a review until I'd made at least one or two of the projects. I've now crossed three of them off my sewing list, so I think I'm qualified to give my opinions!


As the name would suggest, the book contains 15 projects which are all designed to help you organise your sewing supplies. While there are a few projects that are fairly sewing-specific (a cute needle book, covered tape measure and pincushion), many of the projects could be used for a whole range of purposes. I'm not actually using any of the three projects that I've made so far for sewing at all. I do have plans to make some more of them for crafty storage though.

Two-in-one case - three guesses what I'm using this for?!

Like many sewing books, this one starts with an introductory section with details of materials and supplies, tools and instructions, and some basic techniques used in the projects (such as installing zips, inserting magnetic snaps, attaching binding). I haven't read this section in detail, but the bits I have looked at seem clear and helpful.

Two-in-one case - inside

The main body of the book is, of course, the projects. They are split into 'Small things', 'Cases and folios', 'Pouches' and 'Boxes and totes'. If you want to get an idea of the kind of thing you can expect, both in terms of the details and the styling, take a look at the author's pattern shop. I would stress that the individual patterns aren't exactly the same as the projects in the book, but I think they have a similar feel.

The book patterns are designed to be able to be used together, meaning that smaller projects have been intentionally sized to fit nicely inside some of the bigger items.

Handy fold-up pouch (large and small)

So far, I've made the Handy fold-up pouch (both sizes), Two-in-one case, and the Triple pouch. I've found the instructions to be very thorough and clear. There are diagrams for some, but not all, of the steps - but I don't think the instructions are in any way lacking for not being fully illustrated. Some of the individual steps are fairly simple, so diagrams really aren't necessary.

Triple pouch. Again, the fabric will tell you what I'm using this for - my make-up bag

I tend to read through instructions before I start a  project to get an idea of what I'll be doing. When I did this for the Triple pouch in particular they did sound a bit confusing, but when I was actually working through the steps everything made complete sense.

Some of the projects look fairly simple (such as the needle book, drawstring pouch and big zip pouch), but there are others that are more complicated. I'd definitely have had no idea where to start trying to put together all of the pieces of the Triple pouch without the instructions!

Top/inside of the Triple pouch

Overall, if you're interested in making a few pouches and bags to organise your sewing supplies, or any other supplies for that matter, I'd really recommend this book. The instructions are thorough, the projects are useful and, compared to the prices of individual patterns, the book is pretty good value. Now I just need to find time to make a couple more of the projects!

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Sew Over It Clara Blouse

Last weekend my plans were changed at the last minute because of the snow which covered the country, so I decided to try to help spring to win the battle that currently seems to be going on between the seasons by cutting into some pretty floral fabric to make a Sew Over It Clara blouse.


The Clara blouse was Sew Over It's February PDF release. It looked a bit different from other patterns in my stash, and seemed to be a good combination of being very wearable but also with the potential to look quite smart, so I was fairly quick to buy it when it was released.


The blouse features, in Sew Over It's own words, 'a pretty pleated round neckline, keyhole opening at the centre back, a stepped hem, and long sleeves with deep cuffs and continuous bound placket cuff closures'.

The Clara blouse was an enjoyable pattern to sew. The bodice section came together fairly quickly, and then I needed a bit more time to sew the sleeves because those cuffs involve a couple of more fiddly steps. Nothing too taxing, but the kind of thing that it's worth taking your time over to make sure you do a good job.


The instructions were all very clear and easy to follow. I did spot a typo in the instructions about making the rouleaux loops for the neckline and cuff buttons, but I emailed Sew Over It to point it out and they got back to me really quickly to say that the instructions have now been corrected (if you downloaded the pattern before this week, the seam allowance when sewing the rouleau loop strip should be 1.5cm instead of 2cm).


In terms of sizing, my bust measurement is between the 12 and 14 for this pattern, and my waist/hip measurements put me right in the size 14. The Clara blouse has a relaxed fit though, and based on the finished measurements I was fairly sure that I'd be fine with a straight size 12. Thankfully, it turns out I was right! There's still plenty of ease as far as I'm concerned, and I think if I'd made the 14 it might have turned out a bit too roomy for my tastes.


I was slightly unsure about how I'd feel about the cuffs - not in terms of how they look, but in terms of whether they'd annoy me when I was wearing the blouse because they're quite large. I'm pleased to report that I've worn the blouse for a whole day now and wasn't bothered by the cuffs once.

If I make another Clara blouse, I'd possibly omit the stepped hem and just use a regular straight hem. While the stepped hem looks nice, I'm only going to wear the blouse tucked into full skirts so nobody will ever see it.


The fabric I used is a freesia print viscose that I bought last spring/summer (I think from WeaverDee, but I know a few online shops stocked it at the time) with the intention of making a dress, but I then went off the idea of the fabric/pattern combination I had in my head. I love the fabric though, so I'd been keeping an eye out for the right project to use it and when the Clara pattern was released it seemed like I'd found what I was looking for. And as bonus, as I'd bought enough for a full-skirted dress, I'm pretty sure I've got enough fabric left for a short sleeved summery top too!


Overall, I'm really happy with my Clara blouse. I enjoyed sewing it, I'm pleased with how it looks and it's good to get this fabric out of my stash. I'm going to wait and see how much I wear the blouse but, based on first impressions, I could definitely see myself making more in the future. Have you had success with any new patterns recently?