Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Helen's Closet Yanta Overalls

Over the last few months I've been eyeing up various dungaree patterns and toying with the idea of making some for myself. I considered a range of options, but kept coming back to the Yanta overalls by Helen's Closet and eventually I decided that I just needed to give the pattern a go. Spoiler alert: I'm so glad that I did!

The Yanta overalls are a fairly popular pattern in the online sewing community but in case you haven't come across them before, they're a laid-back style with a relaxed fit. The straps are fastened to the front bib using buttons, they have a V-back, pointed front bib pocket, and front and back patch pockets. The pattern also has shorts or trouser views, and an optional side seam zip.

One of the things that eventually made me decide on the Yanta overalls was that I wanted the more relaxed fit of overalls-style dungarees, rather than the more fitted styles that are pretty much trousers with a bib attached (if that makes any sense?!). For me, this is definitely a project where comfort takes priority!

Sewing my Yanta overalls was a really enjoyable experience. The instructions are very thorough and help you to achieve a nice finish. I liked the fact that they include directions for topstitching most of the main seams, which I think helps to make the dungarees look more professional and will also make them more sturdy. 

The only point where I deviated slightly from the instructions was when I was inserting the invisible zip. There's nothing wrong with the instructions - they have you sew the seam and then insert the zip, whereas I've personally always achieved better results with invisible zips when I insert the zip before sewing the rest of the seam so that's what I did here too.

In terms of sizing, I went a bit rogue to get the fit that I personally wanted. My measurements (B 38", W 32", H 42") put me in a 12 bust, and 14 waist/hips. While I did want a relaxed fit, I didn't want the fit to be quite as loose as intended at the waist (I thought that might get draughty!), so I blended between sizes and made a 12 at the bust, blending in to a 10 at the waist and back out to a 14 at the hip. That meant I definitely needed to add the optional zip (you might not need it if making a straight size), but that doesn't bother me at all.

Other than that, the only changes I made were to lengthen the section between the waist and the crotch by an inch and to lengthen the legs by 2 inches. I also lengthened the straps by about an inch. Lengthening patterns is standard for me (I'm 5'9"), and also the pattern intends the trouser length to be slightly cropped, but I wanted them to be full length.

The fabric that I used is an 8oz washed denim from Threadquarters (unfortunately now it looks like it's sold out apart from a remnant). It's a lovely quality fabric and exactly what I wanted for these dungarees  - enough weight to make them appropriate for autumn/winter, but without being at all stiff. I also intentionally chose to use a dark blue denim because the colour will go with just about any top in my wardrobe so I'll have lots of outfit options.

While I wanted the outside of the dungarees to be neutral and practical, I decided to give myself pretty insides and used a contrast daisy print cotton for the facings (partly for aesthetic reasons and partly to reduce bulk) and added a lovely colourful Pink Coat Club label (also now sold out - sorry! But Joy has lots of other great designs).

I also couldn't stop myself from adding a bit of colour on the outside. I wasn't sure what buttons I wanted when I went shopping (thankfully I got that in before the new lockdown in England started), but then I found these unusual metal buttons with an elongated slot style hole rather than the usual small round ones, and I decided they'd look good if I attached them using a rainbow of thread. I slightly regretted that decision when it came to sewing them on and I realised I'd be effectively be doing the same amount of sewing as if I was using 12 buttons rather than 2 (6 threads each on both buttons), but I think it was worth it for the effect.

I was pretty pleased with my Yanta Overalls when I finished them, but now that I've worn them, I love them! As you can tell by the fact that I only finished them a couple of days ago and I've already worn them twice. Like other Helen's Closet patterns that I've made, the pattern was great to sew too. I'm now wondering whether I need a second, more colourful version! What colour would you go for?

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Tilly & The Buttons Lotta Dress

The dress I have to share with you today was one of those serendipitous projects where the fabric and pattern appear in your life at the same time and demand to be put together. A few weeks ago I bought a duvet cover in a charity shop with the intention of making a basic-but-not-boring dress to show off its pretty print. Just a couple of days later Tilly & The Buttons released the Lotta dress pattern, which was just the style I had in mind. 

Lotta is a beautifully simple dress with a blousy bodice, flared skirt and narrow elasticated waistline. It has the options of midi or knee-length skirts, grown-on short sleeves or drop-shoulder bracelet length sleeves, and deep patch pockets. As an added bonus, it can be made using either woven or knit fabrics so it's a pretty versatile pattern.

Lotta would be a really great pattern for beginners - with no fastenings or darts it's a straightforward project to sew, and the more relaxed style of the bodice would make it easier to fit than some other dresses. As is always the case with Tilly & The Buttons patterns, the instructions are really detailed so should give you any help you need and if you want more support there's the option of an online course to accompany the pattern too. 

For those of us with more experience under our belts, it's a nice relaxing project to sew and comes together quickly. It could be a nice palate cleanser after a complicated project, or a good way to boost your sewing mojo if you're currently lacking in motivation.

In terms of sizing, my measurements (B 38", W 32", H 42") basically put me in Tilly's size 5 (my hips are actually between a 5 and a 6, but hip sizing isn't crucial for Lotta because of the flared skirt) and that's the size that I made. I'd say the sizing is good - the bodice is blousy as intended, but not so loose that it's starting to look baggy. 

The only alteration I made was to lengthen the bodice by an inch, which is very standard for me (I'm about 5' 9"). For reference, I used the midi skirt length straight from the pattern.

One point I should mention is that I can *just* get the bodice over my head - I do have pretty big head (all those hats that say "one size fits all"? It definitely doesn't!) so this shouldn't be a problem for most people, but it might be worth making a toile to check that you're OK if you also have a large head!

As I mentioned above, the fabric I used is from a duvet cover that I bought in a charity shop recently. The patterned fabric of the skirt is the top side of the cover, and the navy is the back. I originally intended to use the patterned fabric for the entire dress, but when I came to cut it out I noticed a couple of small areas of damage to the fabric that I needed to avoid and that meant that I didn't have enough fabric for both the bodice and skirt. 

In hindsight I think that might have been a blessing in disguise because I really like the combination of the two fabrics together, and having the whole dress in the patterned fabric might have been a bit overwhelming.

Having given my Lotta dress its inaugural outing, I'm pleased to report that it's really comfy but also makes you feel like you've made a bit of an effort. I think it will look good layered over a long-sleeved t-shirt or paired with cardigans/jumpers in the cooler weather we have coming up, but will also be great on its own for spring/summer so hopefully it should be an almost year-round dress. 

I'm really pleased with how my Lotta dress turned out, and I'll definitely be sewing more versions in the future. It's the kind of pattern that could be a really casual everyday dress, or could be dressed up to be quite smart depending on the fabric that you chose and the way you style the dress. I think my next version might have to be in a jersey to make it even more comfy and cosy for autumn/winter. What fabric would you use for Lotta?

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Helen's Closet Arden Pants

Welcome to the latest instalment in my ongoing quest to gradually add more trousers to my wardrobe! Today's project came about at least partly thanks to my mum, who saw some photos of the pattern when I was scrolling through Instagram and rather unsubtly encouraged me to buy it so I could try it out for myself and then make a version for her (I wouldn't listen to most people telling me to do that, but my mum's allowed to!). Here are my Helen's Closet Arden pants....

The Arden pants (which I will henceforth refer to as trousers because to me pants are undergarments!) are everyday high-waisted trousers with a classic elastic waist, as well as front and back pockets. The pattern also features views with an elasticated jogger style cuff in two different widths, and the option to topstitch the waistband and add a drawstring. 

I really enjoyed sewing my Arden trousers. The instructions are extremely thorough and easy to follow. They include lots of helpful tips such as pre-pressing the hems before sewing up the side seams of the legs - as the pattern itself points out, it's much easier to do this with a flat piece of fabric than a tube. 

The instructions also have you sew a double line of topstitching at the pocket opening, along the crotch seam and the inside leg, and add bar tacks at the stress points of the pockets. These are fairly simple steps, but aren't included in a lot of patterns and I think they really help to make the finished trousers look more professional.

I debated a bit about what size to use for this pattern. The instructions recommend that you pick a size based on your hip measurement - mine is slightly over 42" (a 14 for this pattern), but definitely below 44" (16). I looked at the finished garment measurements and thought that the hips might end up a bit snugger than I would like if I made a 14 so I went for the 16. I made a toile that turned out so wearable that I finished it off properly to use as pyjama shorts (above) - bonus! The only alteration I needed to make was to lengthen the legs by 2" (I'm about 5'9"). 

I'm pretty happy with how they turned out - I possibly could have them slightly slimmer through the legs, but I'm not sure that I want to. They're really comfy as they are and look nice in the flesh, although you might have to take my word for that because I don't think they photograph particularly well.

That's possibly partly due to my fabric. Don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the fabric itself - it's a lovely quality cotton twill from Cloth Spot (sadly it no longer seems to be in stock) - but it has a very slight sheen in some lights that my camera seems to have emphasized. It's also on the crisper side of the recommended fabrics for this pattern so wrinkles more, and more prominently, than a drapier fabric would.

How they look in real life is more important than photos though, so that doesn't bother me. It also feels like the fabric will soften up quite a bit with wear. I'm happy with how my Arden trousers turned out, and it's just as well I enjoyed sewing them because my mum has already put in her request for a pair of her own!

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

McCall's 7131 Culottes

Red trousers might not immediately sound like a wardrobe essential, but recently I'd been feeling like I could do with some. Then I saw McCall's 7131 was included with last month's issue of Love Sewing magazine, and decided that if I was going to have statement red trousers then I might as well go even more dramatic and have bright red culottes instead.

McCall's 7131 is a pattern for loose fitting trousers, shorts or culottes, with side front pockets, front pleats, a flat front waistband and elasticated back waistband. It has four different length variations, as well a the option to use an overlay. I made view C, which is the second longest option.

Sewing the culottes was pretty simple. The instructions are fairly standard for a commercial sewing pattern. They're concise and not particularly hand-holdy, but I didn't have any trouble understanding them and the culottes came together easily. 

The pattern calls for you to sew channels in the back waistband and use 4 pieces of narrow elastic, but I was feeling slightly lazy and realised that some 1.5" elastic that I had in my stash was just about the right size for the casing without the channels so I decided to use that instead of the narrow elastic. Other than that I did everything else following the instructions.

If you're making this pattern, I'd definitely recommend consulting the finished garment measurements (printed on the pattern pieces themselves) when choosing what size to make. There's quite a lot of ease built into the pattern - if I remember rightly I think there's about 3" of positive ease at the waist. My measurements (waist 32", hips 42") would put me in a size 18 according to the pattern's size chart, but I actually made a 16 and also cut my elastic to be slightly shorter than the pattern calls for and that worked out well. If I'd made an 18 as recommended, they'd have been far too loose at the waist.

The fabric that I used for my M7131 is some red viscose twill from Like Sew Amazing. It's a lovely fabric with a really nice drape. Viscose twill has a little more body to it than viscose challis, and I think it's a perfect weight of fabric for this pattern. Plus at £7 a metre, it's a bit of a bargain!

I think that my idea to make some red trousers/culottes was definitely a good one. I've got lots of tops that I can wear with them, they're beautifully swishy to walk about in and the elastic back makes them really comfy. So maybe red culottes are a wardrobe essential after all - they are for me at least! How about you?

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Megan Nielsen Olive Dress and Tops

 When a new pattern comes out, you buy it almost immediately and then make three versions within about a month of owning it, it's a fairly good sign that it's a winner, don't you think? That's what happened for me with the Megan Nielsen Olive dress/top (also available in sizes 14-30 here).

The Olive is a relaxed fit top or dress with a V-insert at the neckline. It has a drop shoulder, various sleeve finishes (bias bound (which I used for all three of my versions) or banded short sleeves, or longer sleeves), dress or top variations (with two top lengths) and an optional breast patch pocket. The dress has a gathered skirt and in-seam pockets.

I've been hankering after a looser fitting dress this summer so that was what initially attracted me to the pattern, but the first version I made was actually the shorter length top. That was mainly because already had the perfect fabric for it in the form of this super pretty floral lawn (now out of stock) from Selvedge & Bolts. I knew I wanted to make a feature of the V-insert so for that I used some white cotton lawn that I have in my stash (I tend to keep a small supply of white lawn because it's useful for bodice linings). 

I loved how my top turned out so I pretty much immediately started planning a dress version. The Olive is a great pattern for playing with stripes so I was on the lookout for some nice stripey fabric and thankfully spotted the perfect candidate in the form of this yarn-dyed linen-cotton fabric from Cloth Spot. It's an excellent quality fabric and is a great pairing for this pattern. It's got a bit of body to it, but will still be lovely to wear on hot days. This dress is so easy to wear and comfy. My only slight disappointment is that I hadn't finished it in time to enjoy it in the heatwave we had a couple of weeks ago!

Now we come onto my third version! My mum really liked both my top and dress so asked me to make an Olive for her, and I was happy to oblige. This version is the full length top. The fabric is from Cloth Spot again - although I think this one is now out of stock apart from a remnant (still available at the time of writing!). This one is a viscose and is nice and drapey. It was slightly 'interesting' to sew because my machine didn't completely love the change in texture when sewing over the woven stripes, but as long as I took it slowly it coped with it OK. And mum is happy with the end result so it's all good!

The Olive is a nice pattern to sew. You have to take a bit of care sewing the V-insert, but you do that first and once that's done it's pretty simple and fairly speedy to sew. 

The instructions are really detailed and easy to follow. They also give you two options for sewing the V-insert - one where the edges end up fully enclosed, and one that is simpler but leaves the edges of the V exposed on the inside. I used the first, apparently slightly trickier option for all of my Olives and it does give a really nice finish. It's not too difficult as long as you're willing to be quite precise. There's also a sewalong for the Olive on the Megan Nielsen blog if you're struggling with anything.

As the Olive has a relaxed silhouette, fitting isn't too complicated. For both of my versions I blended from a 12 at the bust to a 14 at the hips (my measurements are 38-32-42) and added an inch to the length of the top/bodice. For my dress, I also lengthened the skirt by 2" (I'm about 5'9"). My mum's top blends from a 12 at the bust to a 16 at the hips and is the length from the pattern (she's about 5'6").

I love how all three of these Olives turned out. It's a really satisfying pattern to sew and the finished top/dress are lovely to wear. I'm not sure I'll use the long-sleeved version, but I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for pretty fabric for another top or dress version next summer!