Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Tilly & The Buttons Marigold Top Hack

A couple of months ago, I took the opportunity of picking up the Tilly & the Buttons Marigold pattern when it was included as a gift with Mollie Makes magazine. At that point I hadn't yet discovered my newfound love of jumpsuits, but I'd always liked the look of the bodice of the Marigold and for the price of the magazine (which also included some other interesting looking projects), I thought I'd get it to try out a bit of pattern hacking.

The Marigold is a jumpsuit/trouser pattern featuring peg trousers with an elasticated waistband, tapered ankles and slash pockets. The bodice has a sweetheart neckline, bust darts and wide shoulder straps and closes with a side seam invisible zip.

As I said, when I got the pattern I was mainly interested in the bodice and decided to turn it into a top. This was a very simple pattern hack - I simply lengthened the bodice by 6 inches. At the side seams, I followed the slant of the seam line outwards to allow for extra space at the hips.

The bonus of this project is that the fabric that I used is some spotty viscose from Minerva Crafts that I had left over from making my Carrie trousers last year, so I can wear the top with the trousers to create a fake jumpsuit - all the benefits of having a ready-made outfit with the advantage of not feeling like you have to almost get entirely undressed whenever you go to the loo! And the combination actually looks remarkably like the Marigold jumpsuit itself.

The top came together very quickly - without the trousers I found that for me there's no need to have a zip in the side seam which means that is was a nice simple project. The instructions are as detailed as I'm sure we've all come to expect from Tilly's patterns, although it has to be said that in this free magazine version they definitely weren't set out as nicely as they would be in the normal patterns - the limited space meant that the text was smaller/denser and that did make them seem slightly less user-friendly than they otherwise would be.

In terms of sizing, my bust measurement puts me in a size 5 and that seemed like it should be fine when I measured the pattern pieces (the magazine pattern didn't include finished garment measurements, but I assume the regular pattern would). It worked out fine, the only thing I would change if I make another version of this would be to shorten the straps by a centimetre or two. They're pretty much OK on this top, but they have a slight tendency to slip when I'm sitting down in the top in particular.

All in all, I think this is a pretty successful experiment! I really like the shape of the Marigold bodice, and I could definitely seem myself making another of these tops (quite possibly with some more matching Carrie trousers), or perhaps turning it into a elasticated waist dress. Have you tried any pattern hacking recently?

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Simplicity 2588 Dress & #patternswap19

When Alice and Emma @thezipperfoot announced that they'd be hosting The Great Big Pattern Swap again this year, I was quick to rummage through my pattern stash to find some neglected beauties to send to new, more appreciative homes. I managed to snap up a couple of lovely new-to-me patterns in return and I've now sewn up one of them. Here's my version of Simplicity 2588, kindly sent to me by Pavla.

Simplicity 2588 is one of the Project Runway series, and is for a dress with fitted, princess seam bodice, the possibility to make it sleeveless or use flat or pleated sleeves, neckband/yoke options, and a pleated flared or straight skirt. The pattern now seems to be out of print (correct me if you know otherwise!) but, as I type at least, there are copies available to buy on Amazon and ebay if you like the look of it.

The skirt choice was a no-brainer for me - flared every time! I considered going for a sleeveless dress, but ultimately decided that I'd get more wear out of one with sleeves, and chose the flat sleeve option.

When I made my toile, I used the slimmer neckband piece but found the neckline was too wide for me (I'd have been constantly fiddling with it to get it to sit right!). On my finished version, I used the wider yoke piece instead, which definitely avoids this problem. If anything, it goes the other way and the neckline now feels a little high. It's not going to stop me wearing this dress, but if I make another one I'd possibly trim down the yoke by a centimetre or so to make the neckline just a touch lower.

In terms of sizing, for my measurements the pattern recommends a 16 for the bust, and an 18 for my waist and hips. Based on the finished garment measurements, 16 for the bust seemed the right choice but I thought the 18 might be a bit big at the waist, and with the flared skirt I knew hip sizing wouldn't be too important. I decided to make a straight size 16, but taper to a fractionally smaller (about 1.2 cm instead of 1.5) seam allowance at the waist on the side seams only to allow a bit of extra breathing space. Thankfully that worked out nicely.

I also lengthened the bodice by 1.5 cm and the skirt by 5cm, which are both fairly standard adjustments for me (I'm around 5'9" for reference).

The sewing process was fairly straightforward. As with all commercial patterns, the instructions don't hold your hand every step of the way like indie patterns tend to, but I didn't find anything confusing or hard to follow. The pattern uses a lapped zip; I tend to favour invisible zips, but I decided to follow the instructions and use a lapped zip this time and I'm glad I did. Plus it's good to do different things every now and then, isn't it?

The fabric I used is a lovely cotton voile from Seasalt (in case you don't know, Seasalt currently have a sale on some of their fabric - you're welcome, and/or I'm sorry if you didn't want to be tempted!). It's a great print, and it's a nice cool fabric to wear in the sunny weather we've been enjoying in the last week or so.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with my Simplicity 2588 and I could definitely see myself making another, albeit with the slight alteration to the neckline I mentioned above. I'm happy to have given this pattern a new home, and I hope that the patterns that I sent out have futures that are just as successful with their new owners! And a big thank you to Alice and Emma for organising the swap!

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Designer Stitch Eden Jumpsuit

Today's project is brought to you partly thanks to the #sewtogetherforsummer challenge, which is hosted on Instagram by Sarah, Suzy and Monika, as that gave me the push to stop thinking about sewing a jumpsuit and actually get on with it. Jumpsuits are quite popular in the sewing community at the moment so there are a fair few patterns to choose from, but I decided that I'd start my jumpsuit journey with the Designer Stitch Eden pattern.

Eden has a V-neck bodice, with sleeveless or cold shoulder sleeve options, an elasticated waist, tie belt, pockets and relaxed fit legs. It can be cut to playsuit or cropped trouser length, and also comes with a separate waistband piece so you can make elasticated waist trousers as well as the jumpsuit/playsuit.

It has different bodice pieces for B, C, D and DD cups, with 11 sizes ranging from 32" to 52" bust.

This was my first time using a Designer Stitch pattern, and I'll admit that I didn't get the best first impression of the pattern and there were initially a few things I found a bit annoying.

Firstly, I sent the A0 version of the pattern to be printed (I used Dotty Print this time, and would happily use them again) but even in this version you have to stick two of the sheets together because each of the leg pieces are split across two sheets (each leg piece could fit on one). The instructions also tell you to stick all 4 A0 sheets together, which seems a bit crazy to me because that would make a fairly unwieldy pattern sheet! It also seemed like there was a lot of wasted space between the pattern pieces compared with other patterns I've used.

The pieces aren't always clearly labelled - for example the waistband piece doesn't indicate that it's only needed for the trouser option (the waist elastic casing on the jumpsuit is formed from the seam allowances). That is clear from the cutting layouts in the instructions, but it would be helpful to have it noted on the pattern pieces too.

I also noticed a few typos - for example, the quick step sewing guide at the start that lists the steps that are relevant for each version includes the steps for sewing just the trouser option under both of the jumpsuit options, and the steps for sewing the cold shoulder sleeves on the sleeveless version. Also, unless there was something odd about the printing on my version, on the trouser pattern pieces the "allowance" of "hem allowance" is written incorrectly as both "llowane" and "allowane".

None of these things are really a big problem individually, but all combined together they didn't fill me with confidence about the pattern at first.

Thankfully, things improved once I got on with the actual sewing process and it was a more positive experience. The body measurements and finished garment measurements are some of the most detailed I've seen, which helps to make sure you're picking the right size. The instructions are fairly clear and simple, and I didn't have any problem sewing my Eden jumpsuit.

In terms of sizing, based on my measurements (bust 38", waist 32", hip 42") I cut a size 4 at the bust, blending out to a 5 at the waist and hip. I'm 5'9", and I lengthened the bodice pieces by 2 inches - while lengthening bodice pieces is normal for me, that's more length than I usually add. The trousers were a fairly good length on me, but I used a slightly larger hem (2" instead of 1 1/4") as that hits my legs at a better point.

The only other change I made was to use a 16" zip instead of the 20" zip recommended in the pattern. I did this because it means that my zip finishes above the waistband - when I made a toile, I found it a bit of a pain to do the zip up over the elasticated waistband and with the amount of ease in the waistband I found there was no need to undo the zip below the waist. That might not be the case if you have a bigger difference between waist and hip measurements, but it could be worth a try!

The fabric I used is a rose print chambray that I bought locally in a shop that doesn't have a website, but I have seen similar fabrics available online (although typically I can't find any now!).

I wasn't entirely sure how much I'd like wearing a jumpsuit, but I'm happy to report that I really love my finished Eden. It has all the practicality of trousers, whilst still giving you the ease of just being able to put on one garment and feel put together that you get from a dress. In spite of my initial reservations about the pattern, I really enjoyed the actual sewing process and I'd happily use Designer Stitch patterns again. The definitive sign of success is that as soon as I'd worn this for the first time, I started plotting other versions of the Eden jumpsuit to add to my sewing queue. So all in all, this one is definitely a winner and there will be another jumpsuit or two in my future!

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Noodlehead Traverse Bag

Today's project, a Noodlehead Traverse bag, has been gradually brewing in my mind for a few months. Back in February when I was tidying up my fabric stash, I realised that I had a fairly sizeable chunk left of the canvas (from Sew Me Sunshine, but now sold out) that I used to make a backpack last summer. I resolved that as soon as the weather was more appropriate for the print, I'd have to make another bag so that the fabric didn't go to waste.

It took me a while to decide what would be the right pattern to make the best use of the amount of fabric that I had available - I wanted to use as much of the leftover canvas as possible, but also make a bag that I'd definitely find useful.

In the end the Traverse bag was the winner, as it's very similar in style to a bag that I already own that's now looking a bit tired because it's been used so much, and I've sewn Noodlehead patterns before so I knew that I could trust it to be an enjoyable project.

The Traverse bag is a crossbody bag with a main zippered compartment with interior slip pocket, back zippered pocket, and a front pocket with flap closure. The bag comes in two sizes - the regular size which I made, and a mini size.

The regular is a good size for me to use as my day-to-day bag, with plenty of space for all my essentials (wallet, notebook, a little pouch with lip balm and stuff, umbrella (definitely essential for the current British summer!), shopping bag, etc.), and the added bonus of being able to fit in a small bottle of water.

I always find that one of the trickiest parts of making a bag is gathering together all of the supplies and making sure that everything will look right together. Thankfully for me, I also had a decent amount of the lining fabric that I used for last year's backpack so that was the obvious choice for the lining.

I decided to highlight the black and gold in the print in the zips/hardware/piping, as although the turquoise/blue in the print is much more of a "me" colour that would have been harder to match. Not that all of the golds match each other or the print exactly, but they're close enough. The supplies that I didn't have in my stash were gathered together from a variety of small local shops, and an ebay order when I couldn't find a 14" black/gold metal zip locally.

I also decided to buy a leather strap from Etsy instead of making a fabric one. This isn't a cheap option, but I think it makes the bag look more professional. It also made more sense for me in terms of colours for this project because I didn't want a black strap because I thought any more black than I was already using would make the bag look less summery than I wanted, but truly "gold" fabric would have been hard to come by.

Once I had all my supplies gathered together, cutting out all the pieces also caused me a bit of a headache. The pattern mainly just lists sizes of pieces to cut out, with a pattern piece for the front flap. I'm used to that from other bag patterns so that didn't bother me, but working out how to fit all of the pieces onto my slightly oddly shaped leftover pieces of fabric required a bit of pattern tetris! Thankfully it all worked out, and with only very small scraps left.

The sewing process was pretty hassle free. As I expected from previous experience of Noodlehead patterns, the instructions were all very clear and I always felt like I knew what I was doing. The only thing I struggled with slightly was sewing through all of the layers where the strap holders join on to the main bag, and that was only an issue because my sewing machine objected to the thickness of the many layers I was asking it to sew through. A little gentle cajoling was needed, but I got there in the end!

The pattern is very good in terms of giving you a bag that feels well put together, and also offers lots of useful pockets and compartments.

My finished Traverse bag looks really good I think - and I've already had a couple of people be surprised that I made it so I'm obviously not alone there! While garment sewing is always going to be my first love, I do also really enjoy making bags every now and then for a bit of a change so it was a fun project to work on. I've been using it pretty much every day since I finished making it, so I think we can definitely call that a success, don't you?

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Seamwork Rory top sewing pattern review

Recently I realised that my short-sleeved t-shirts are looking a little sorry for themselves. While I've made plenty of long-sleeved t-shits, my summery jersey tops are all pretty much RTW - which means that they're all at least six years old because since I started sewing my money has been spent on fabric rather than clothes! Shortly after this realisation, the Seamwork Rory top popped up in my Instagram feed and jumped to the top of my sewing queue.

Rory is a cropped t-shirt with grown-on sleeves, a relaxed fit gathered into a tie waistband at the natural waist and a boat neck. It reminded me of a top that I used to have many years ago, and seemed to be very wearable whilst still being a little different from a standard t-shirt so it really appealed to me. Plus I love anything with ties/bows, so that was an added bonus as far as I was concerned!

The instructions are very thorough and clear, and pattern is fairly simple to sew. If you've already sewn a knit top or two then it shouldn't pose any problems. The only difference from the construction of a standard t-shirt is the gathering of the main bodice into the waistband, and that was as easy as pie for me. 

I liked the fact that the neckband is attached and then folded to the inside before being topstitched down so it's more like a binding. It seems to suit this top better than having a neckband visible on the outside, but gives a better finish than just turning the bodice itself under. 

In terms of sizing - my measurements put me in a 10 at the bust and 12 at the waist and that seemed like it should work nicely based on the finished measurements. I was unsure of whether to lengthen the top - with woven patterns I'd make a toile, but inexpensive jersey isn't so easy to come by! I compared the measurements to some of my other tops and decided that it was on the borderline of being OK, but to be on the safe side I cut and sewed the bodice pieces before cutting the waistband so that I could lengthen that if necessary. When I tied on the assembled bodice, it seemed like it was just about right but I added an inch to the width of the waistband (which means that the finished top is half an inch longer as the waistband is folded in half) just to make sure that the top would be long enough.

I'm fairly happy with the fit - if I made another I might consider making a straight size 10 in the bodice and then just gathering it into a size 12 waistband so that there's slightly less blousing in the bodice section, but this one's fine the way it is.

The pretty jersey that I used is from LouBodu Fabrics - I got some of the last of it in the sale and it's now sold out (sorry!), but they have plenty of other fun prints if you're in the market for some interesting jersey. The fabric is great quality, and feels like it should wear well.

All in all, I'm really happy with my Rory top - it was fun and quick to make, is comfy to wear but more interesting than a standard t-shirt, and all the colours in the print mean that I should be able to wear it with lots of things. You can't ask for much more, can you?