Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Knitting: Kim Hargreaves Lovely Cardigan

I've got some knitting to share with you today, namely my version of the Lovely cardigan from the pattern book North by Kim Hargreaves. I have to say that in my humble opinion it's a pattern that really lives up to its name!

The Lovely is a pretty cardigan worked in cables and bobbles, with moss stitch button/buttonhole bands and when I first saw this pattern, I really liked the look of it but I thought that it might be a bit of a challenge for me. It's a seamed construction, which I'm very familiar with, and I was fairly confident that there were no individual elements of the pattern that were too tricky for me, but I'd never knit anything with an all-over pattern (rather than a section of pattern accompanied by nice relaxing areas of stocking stitch). I was also slightly daunted by the look of the chart, as I haven't used charts that much before.

However, I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be far less taxing than I thought. What initially looked like a complex 16 row pattern repeat on closer inspection actually turned out to be far simpler. Once I'd got each piece properly started I could largely just knit away without having to check the pattern and the chart religiously. I also made things easier for myself by using stitch markers between each of the individual sections to keep me on track and make sure I didn't go onto autopilot and knit the wrong thing.

That said, I didn't always find this a relaxing project to work on, and it definitely wasn't quick. It's also safe to say that it'll be a while before I feel like tackling another project with quite this many bobbles! It's not that the bobbles were particularly complicated, but they were pretty time consuming and often seemed to initially look nicely bobble-like but then gradually deflate over time.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy knitting it though, and it is nice to challenge yourself with things that are a bit out of your comfort zone every now and then. I just made sure that I didn't knit on it when I was too tired or in need of something mindless.

I used to always be very monogamous with my knitting and just work on one project at a time, but this project really won me over to the joys of having a couple of projects on the go. While I've been working on this cardigan, I've also knit a few pairs of socks and my Spindrift shawl. It was really nice to have simpler projects to pick up when I wanted to knit, but didn't feel like knitting bobbles!

I made the size L, which is the size recommended for my bust measurement, and I'm happy with how it turned out. It's nicely fitted without being too snug, and is just the right length for me to wear with all my waisted dresses.

While I may have been complaining about the bobbles, I do really like how the pattern is written. There are moss stitch panels under the arms and either side of the sleeve seam, and all the increases are worked into those sections so there's no need to figure out adding in extra sections of the main pattern. I also like the fact that the moss stitch button/buttonhole bands are worked with the fronts so you only have to pick up stitches around the neckline at the end.

One point to note if you're knitting this pattern though is that the Tw2L and Tw2R stiches are labelled the wrong way round on the chart. Other than that, I had no problems with it at all!

The yarn that I used is Drops Flora in turquoise. I enjoyed knitting with it and, based on the cardigan's first outing at least, seems like it should be nice to wear. It's also a lovely colour which, as I've realised as I've been wearing various dresses whilst knitting it, should go with plenty of things in my wardrobe.

All in all, I'm really pleased with how my Lovely cardigan turned out. It may have taken me about eight months to knit it (I'm not a speedy knitter), but I'm glad I persevered with all those bobbles and got it finished in the end. And it's another project that I can tick off my Make Nine list! The next cardigan on my needles will be Wainthropp by Andi Satterlund, which is also one of my Make Nine projects but I'm not sure it'll be done this year. How are you getting on with your Make Nine list if you made one?

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Butterick 6446 Dress

Butterick 6446 is a pattern that I've been wanting to make for a while. It was on my list of projects to make last summer, but fell victim to my (as usual!) overly ambitious plans and didn't make it onto my cutting table before the seasons changed. To try to ensure that didn't happen again, I included it on my Make Nine list for this year.

Admittedly I think it's fair to say that I've once again missed the best of the weather with this dress, but as I wear what a lot of people would consider to be summer dresses for most of the year (that's what cardigans and tights are for!) I don't think there's anything wrong with me making it in September.

Butterick 6446 attracted my attention because the pleated wrap bodice is slightly different to any of the dresses I've made before. In addition to the pretty bodice, the pattern features three different skirt options (a flared skirt in knee or maxi lengths, or a pleated midi length skirt), sleeveless options or a  flared sleeve, and the option of a sash. And pockets! I made view A - a sleeveless dress, with the knee length skirt.

I made the dress in a size 16 at the bust, blending out to an 18 at the waist. Usually I'd go down a size for a commercial pattern, but these are the sizes recommended for my measurements and it worked out nicely this time. There is a little bit of ease, but just enough to make the dress comfortable without it becoming sack like.

I made my usual adjustment of lengthening the bodice by an inch. At this point the pleats that form the wrap in the front bodice caused me a bit of a problem because they meant that it wasn't as easy as usual to add in a lengthen/shorten line (there isn't one marked on the pattern pieces). In the end, I drew my line perpendicular to the centre front line below the second pleat and that seems to have worked out fine.

I also lengthened the skirt by 2 inches, which has made it the perfect knee length on me (for reference, I'm somewhere around 5 ft 8").

The instructions, as usual for commercial patterns, were succinct but they were still perfectly clear and easy to follow. I did everything as I was told, other than the fact that I used an invisible zip instead of a regular one. That was partly because I prefer the look of an invisible zip, and partly because the fact that I prefer an invisible zip meant that I was on auto-pilot when buying my zip and got an invisible one instead of the regular zip called for in the pattern.

The only thing that I'm not entirely keen on is that bodice feels a bit bulky at times. Because you have the two pieces of the bodice overlapping each other at the side seams, and both bodice pieces are lined, the seams do feel noticeably chunkier than in most other dresses. This is pretty unavoidable in a lined dress of this style though, and I like the fact that the left front bodice (the lower part of the wrap) and the bodice lining pieces are shaped by a large waist dart instead of the pleats used on the right front bodice (the outer part of the wrap) - if all of them had used the pleats then the side seams would have been seriously bulky!

The fabric that I used is a sketched rose cotton print from The Textile Centre, which is a really nice quality especially considering the bargain price. Purple is a colour that's a bit under-represented in my wardrobe too, so it's nice to put that right. For my lining I used a white cotton lawn which I always have around to use for linings.

I'm happy that I finally got around to making Butterick 6446 and crossing another project off my Make Nine list. I'm pleased with how the dress turned out, and it'll definitely still be worn for a while this year (albeit with a cardigan over the top), and it'll also be great for the warmer weather next year. All in all, a successful project!

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Sew Over It Carrie Trousers

I've got something a bit different to share with you today - I made trousers! Specifically, a pair of Sew Over It Carrie trousers.

Trousers aren't something I've contemplated sewing before because it's actually been getting on for 10 years since I wore trousers (other than pyjamas!). While this is largely because I love wearing dresses and skirts, it's also at least partly because I always used to hate shopping for trousers as it was so difficult to find any that fit. That doesn't necessarily need to be a problem now that I sew though, and since I moved to an often-windy coastal town last year, I've been thinking that it might be a good idea to try some trousers to help avoid 'Marilyn moments' on particularly blustery days!

The Carrie trousers are loose-fitting through the leg tapering slightly towards the ankle, with a flat-fronted elasticated-back waistband, front pleats and slanted pockets at the side seams. When Sew Over It released Carrie as a PDF pattern (it had previously been available as part of their Ultimate Guide to Sewing and Fitting Trousers online course), I thought that it would be a good place to start giving trousers a go.

The pattern is simple to sew (I'd say only slightly more complicated than an average pair of pyjama bottoms), and the elastic-back waistband made me fairly confident that even if I decided that they weren't very "me", they'd be a comfy option for lounging around the house so would still be worn somehow!

I made a size 14, which is the size recommended for my measurements, and made a toile just of the top of the trousers (essentially a pair of shorts) to check the fit. Even though the Carrie trousers are designed to be loose fitting, I wanted to make sure that there was enough space in the thighs because I have fairly "sturdy" legs. Thankfully the thighs were fine, and the fit was pretty much OK. The only slight change I made was to raise the waistband by about 2cm to make the rise more comfortable on me.

Sewing the trousers was no trouble at all, and fairly speedy - I sewed the toile and the trousers themselves over the course of a fairly leisurely day of sewing. The instructions were very detailed and easy to follow.

The only slight criticism I'd have is that some of the photos that accompany the instructions might have been a bit clearer if a less patterned fabric had been used for the sample. That's just nitpicking though, because it didn't really cause me any problems.

The only change I had to make during the sewing process was to cut the elastic 9cm shorter than recommended, but elastic length is always going to depend on how stretchy your elastic is, and my elastic is definitely stretchier than most.

The fabric I chose is some navy and white spot print viscose from Minerva Crafts. I thought it was a good fabric for me to use for this project because it will go with a lot of my tops (I'm not the only one who thinks that navy and white spots count as a neutral am I?!), whilst still being a bit more interesting (and therefore more likely to appeal to me) than a plain colour.

I'm actually turning into a bit of a Sew Over It fangirl in this outfit, because the top I'm wearing is an as-yet-unblogged Silk (or viscose in my case) Cami. I made it earlier this summer after the pattern was included with Simply Sewing magazine. It's another great pattern from Sew Over It, but this was just a wearable toile and I want to make a couple of tweaks before I make another version and I'll blog about it properly once I've done that.

So what's the verdict on the Carrie trousers? I'd say the pattern itself is a winner - the fit is good for me, and the trousers were easy to sew. As for me wearing trousers - the jury's still out! They're very comfy and it's nice not to have to worry about my dress/skirt blowing all over the place when wearing them, but I did feel slightly like I was wearing my pyjamas and I still think that dresses/skirts suit me better. I'm definitely going to keep on wearing them though, so hopefully I'll grow to love them more, and I might give some other trousers a try at some point. I'm also quite tempted by the idea of dungarees/overalls/whatever they're called in your part of the world. Have you got any good trouser/dungarees patterns to recommend that could convert a dress lover?!

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Butterick 6563 Shirt

Some projects start with a pattern, and some start with fabric. Today's garments definitely fall into the second category. I've been trying to sew through some stash fabrics recently, but when I saw this cute bicycle print cotton lawn (which now seems to be out of stock, but is available in black) from Fabric Godmother I just had to treat myself to enough to make a top. Butterick 6563 had fairly recently caught my eye, and seemed like it would be the perfect partner for my newly acquired fabric.

Butterick 6563 is from the Patterns by Gertie line, and is for a loose-fitting button front top with shaped hemline featuring collar and sleeve variations. For both of the versions that I made here, I combined the cap sleeves of view B with the Peter Pan collar of view C. While the shirt isn't closely fitted, long waist darts in the front give it a flattering shape.

As the bicycle print lawn was so pretty, I wanted to make sure that I was using it for the right project so I decided to use some fabric from my stash to make a trial version first (thus also partly keeping up my aim of using stash fabric too!). The check shirting I used for my first B6563 came from Sew Loco, and is really lovely. Full disclosure: Lucy from Sew Loco was kind enough to include this as a little extra with some fabric I ordered from her a while back, but it didn't come with any requirement to blog about it attached, and it honestly is great quality fabric.

Based on the finished garment measurements, I made the shirt in a straight size 14. This is a size down from the size recommended for my bust measurement, and two sizes down from my waist/hip measurements. I'd definitely always recommend checking the finished garment measurements to get the fit that you want for commercial patterns in particular. I was happy with how my first version turned out so it was time to cut into the bicycle print.

Thankfully, the pattern was fairly straightforward and I enjoyed sewing the first one, so was only too happy to make another version immediately afterwards. As with most commercial patterns, the instructions were succinct but perfectly clear and I didn't feel the need to do anything differently after sewing my first version. There are some nice features in the pattern such as a sleeve facing (essentially a bias strip), and a self-facing on the front of the shirt which keep the pattern fairly easy to sew whilst giving it a nice finish on the inside.

One thing that I initially wasn't sure about was the size of the Peter Pan collar. I tend to wear shirts with the top button open, and when I did that with B6563 the collar looked comically large, but I think that it looks just fine with the top button done up. And I like the look of the top button done up a lot more than I do on other shirts, so it's all good!

All in all, I'm really happy with these two shirts. They were both fun projects to sew, and will be lovely shirts to wear in warmer weather without being so summery that they can't also be worn under a cardigan when things get cooler. And I managed to buy new fabric whilst still also sticking to my goal of using up my stash, so it's a win all round don't you think?!

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

New Look 6483 & The Great Big Pattern Swap

A little while ago Alice and Emma @thezipperfoot announced The Great Big Pattern Swap on Instagram. The concept was simple - offer some patterns that you're willing to swap, check out other people's patterns to find something that appeals to you and then sew it up. I knew I had some patterns languishing in my stash that would be better off with someone else, so I jumped on the bandwagon. One of the patterns I received in return (from Gillian - thank you again!) was New Look 6483, which I used to make both of today's tops.

One of the reasons that New Look 6483 appealed to me among all the pictures of patterns being offered for swaps on Instagram was that it's a simple top, but has an interesting variety of necklines. It also doesn't use too much fabric, so I thought that it could be a good candidate for using some reasonably sized pieces of Liberty tana lawn that I have left over from other projects.

While those pieces of tana lawn are leftovers so sort of freebies, I didn't want them to go to waste on an untested pattern, so I bought some cheap and cheerful strawberry print cotton lawn from The Textile Centre to make a hopefully-wearable toile.

Thankfully the toile turned out pretty well. I made view E - a vest top with a boat (I think?) neck. I cut a 14 at the bust, blending out to a 16 at the waist. In both cases, that's a size below recommended for my body measurements, but I was fairly confident that it was the size I'd want based on the finished garment measurements.

The fit is fine, and my only real problem with the top is that the lawn is on the sheer side so you can see the seam allowances at the neckline and armholes. It's not too noticeable in the photos, but you can see it in real life. I don't think it'll stop me wearing the top on casual days though!

As I was happy with the fit of my strawberry top, I felt ready to cut into some Liberty loveliness - in this case in the Suzy Elizabeth print, which is left over from the Doris dress I made last year. This is possibly my favourite fabric print ever, although it would be a tough call on whether I prefer this pink or the navy colourway (which I used here and here).

While I didn't make any changes in terms of fit, I did change the construction slightly from what is recommended in the instructions. The sleeveless tops in New Look 6483 have an all-in-one facing, which gives a nice clean finish. However, the instructions end up with you having to slipstitch the shoulder seams of the facing closed. Having just made the Raine dress, which also has an all-in-one facing, I knew that I could sew all of the seams by machine. While some of the steps are a little fiddly, I think that it's easier to get a really neat finish that way.

Not sure what the weird rippling in the back is in this photo - it's not there in real life!
The back of the top has a centre back opening, secured with the thread loop (or loop of thin elastic stitched into the facing in my case!) and button. Part of me was tempted to omit that and just sew the centre back seam closed (I can get it over my head without undoing the button), but in the end I decided to keep the opening because it's quite a pretty detail.

I'm definitely planning to make some more of these tops in future - I need to try out some of the other necklines for a start. I'd also like to try the sleeved version, and I'm tempted to try adopting the 'sweetheart' neckline from the Raine dress for the top as well.

I'm really glad I took part in The Great Big Pattern Swap. Four of my sadly neglected patterns have gone to good new homes - two in the UK, one in Sweden and one in Brazil - and I've found a great new-to-me top pattern and have two dress patterns that I'll hopefully be able to try out soon. Yet another example of what a wonderful place the online sewing community truly is, don't you think?