Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Vogue 8577 Dress

Don't you love it when you suddenly realise that a pattern and fabric that have both been sitting waiting to be used for too long are actually perfect partners for each other? That's exactly what happened to me in this project. I wanted to sew a Vogue 8577 dress last summer but didn't get around to it, and the cotton sateen fabric had been in my stash for about another year longer than that.

The Vogue 8577 pattern is for close-fitting, lined, button-front flared dresses, with a back yoke, gathering on the front bodice at the shoulders and feature side front pockets with pocket bands. There are two skirt lengths, sleeveless or short sleeved versions and the option of a fold back collar. I chose view A - sleeveless, a knee length skirt and no collar.

In terms of sizing, my measurements put me in a 16 at the bust and waist, and 18 at the hips. Obviously there's no need to worry about hip space with a skirt as full as this, so I made a straight size 16. I made a toile which fit me fairly well out of the packet. The only adjustments I needed to make were to add 1.5 cm to the bodice length (pretty standard for me), and to take a small wedge out of the side seams starting at 1.5 cm at the underarm and tapering to nothing at the waist (also fairly common for me on commercial patterns in particular).

I also made a couple of adjustments to the sewing process. Firstly, I didn't line the skirt; while a fully-lined dress is lovely, this fabric didn't need to be lined so cutting the rather big skirt pieces out of a lining fabric as well would almost have seemed wasteful. I also cut both the back and back yoke on the fold instead of having a seam down the middle, mainly to avoid breaking up this fairly large-scale print more than was necessary.

The sewing itself was no problem at all. Vogue 8577 is rated as easy, and I think that's probably fair. The instructions are clear and there aren't any massively tricky steps, although given that I've now been sewing clothes for five years (scary!), I'm not sure how I'd feel about tackling this pattern if I were a complete beginner. It's also worth noting that while this may be easy, it's not particularly quick as there are quite a few steps involved. I did enjoy sewing it though, and that's the main thing!

One of the main selling points of this pattern, namely its glorious full skirt, is also one of its disadvantages because it means that it's a bit of a fabric hog. For view A and my size, the pattern calls for 2.8 metres of 150 cm fabric and it's not one of the occasions where the pattern is being overly generous on the required yardage. My fabric was roughly 140 cm wide rather than 150, and I ended up using slightly over 3 metres.

The main fabric I used is a sea green and daisy print cotton sateen that I bought a couple of years ago (I think it was from Remnant House, but I can't be sure). I initially bought it to make a dress for my brother's wedding, then was a bit fickle and fell in love with a different fabric, so this one got put in my stash. I originally discounted it for Vogue 8577 because I thought the waist panels would break the print up too much and make it look a bit messy, but then I suddenly realised that using a coordinating plain fabric for the waist panels would solve that problem nicely. I ordered some plain navy sateen from Oh Sew Crafty, and I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Like many sewists, I have a tendency to always feel like the latest dress that I've made is my new favourite, but this one really is one of my favourites that I've made for quite some time. Vogue 8577 is a lovely pattern - yes, it needs a fair amount of fabric, and it's not the quickest project to sew, but the end result is a really pretty dress that feels gorgeous to wear. I'd definitely be keen to make another if the right fabric comes along!

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Nina Lee Piccadilly Pyjamas

I'm on a bit of a mission at the moment to sew through some stash fabrics. After all, it's a waste to leave pretty prints sitting on my shelves when they could be in my wardrobe, isn't it? Today's fabric has been waiting for its turn to be cut into for a couple of years while I dithered about what it should become. A couple of weeks ago, I finally made up my mind that I'd use it to make some Nina Lee Piccadilly pyjamas.

Because all sewists need sewing machine pyjamas, don't they?! I'm certainly glad to have added them to my life anyway!

The fabric is a fun cotton poplin that I picked up from Sewn back when Marie had a shop in Bristol. I think I did see it for sale elsewhere online at around the same time, but that was a couple of years ago and I haven't seen any recently - sorry.

Anyway, back to my pyjamas...

The Piccadilly pyjamas are described as "a chic sleepwear set with oriental accents - a soft and open Mandarin collar and gently curving hems". I made view one - a cap-sleeved shirt and shorts. The shorts have a flat front waistband with ribbon tie, and an elasticated back. All of the hems are finished with exposed bias binding. The pattern also features patch pockets on the bottom of the shirt, but I chose not to use them this time.

This was my first time using a Nina Lee pattern, and I was really impressed with it. The instructions were very detailed, with good, clear diagrams, and everything matched up nicely when I was sewing. I bought the printed pattern and, in my humble opinion, it was definitely worth the extra money compared to a PDF. The pattern itself is printed on normal paper rather than tissue (much less risk of tearing), and the instruction booklet and pattern envelope feel like really good quality. I love the little illustrations on the pattern envelope too!

In terms of sizing, in this pattern my measurements put me in a 12 at the bust, between 12 and 14 at the waist and in a 14 at the hips. I made a straight size 12 for the shirt, and a straight size 14 for the shorts. The fit is pretty good as it is, although I'd possibly blend out to a 14 at the bottom of the shirt for a future version just to give a little bit of extra room.

In some ways, the trickiest part of making these pyjamas was deciding which colour from the print to pick out with the bias binding and then, once I'd decided on that (which was mainly determined by the limited choice of bias binding available in local shops, or suitable plain fabric to make my own), finding buttons that also coordinated. Apparently this is a particularly hard shade of pink to match (it's photographing almost as red, but it is definitely a deep pink in real life), but I got there in the end - and actually ended up using the pink version of the red buttons I used for my Carolyn pyjamas.

The actual sewing process itself was no problem at all. The skill level for the pattern is stated as advanced beginner, and I'd say that's pretty accurate. There are a couple of techniques that beginners might not have tried before, but the instructions are really thorough and they'll help you through if you take things slowly.

I'm really pleased with my Piccadilly PJs - they were a really fun pattern to sew, and I'm glad that this fabric has finally fulfilled its destiny and turned into something I can wear. This may have been the first Nina Lee pattern that I've made, but it definitely won't be the last. At the moment I've got my eye on the Kew dress to use with another long-term fabric stash resident - let's hope that I get time to sew it soon!

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!