Sunday, 26 January 2014

Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt

The only real sewing aim I have this year is to get to grips with sewing knits - they make up a massive chunk of what I wear so it doesn't seem to make sense to not be able to use them in my sewing if I'm trying to create a handmade wardrobe. So when Deer & Doe released the free Plantain t-shirt pattern, and announced the Plantain challenge, it seemed like just the incentive I needed to get started on trying to achieve my aim. Here's the result....

I'm pretty happy with the end result - it's a nice simple t-shirt and fits me well. The pattern flares out at the hips, which isn't necessarily a shape I would usually chose but it's comfy, and can easily be tucked in if you want a more fitted look. The neckline is the right balance of being low enough without being too low, on me at least!

I don't have an overlocker (yet! I'm very tempted to invest in one though) so I was just reliant on my sewing machine for making this, and it wasn't always as up for the challenge as I was, but I solved the teething problems and managed to get the t-shirt made without too much stress. 

I finished the neckline band and hems with a twin needle, which was the part that I was most nervous about before I started, but my sewing machine seemed far happier about sewing the jersey with a twin needle than with just a single needle (even though both the single and twin were stretch ball point needles and were the same size!) so that went quite smoothly, and I'm pleased with the results...

Definitely not perfect, but not too bad for a first go!

The only change I made from the pattern was not including the elbow patches - purely because I couldn't find any material which I thought would be a nice contrast to the star print. The patches are a nice extra detail though so they'll definitely be included in a future version at some point.

The fabric is a cotton jersey which I got from Fabric Rehab, it's lovely and soft so super comfy to wear, and I love star prints (it's a miracle this is the first item of clothing I've made featuring stars!) so I couldn't resist. When I first tried it on, I did worry slightly that the print might make it look a bit like it was meant to be a pyjama top, or than my t-shirt had been painted by Emma Bridgewater, but quickly came to the conclusion that I like it so it doesn't matter!

I think this would be a great pattern for anyone else who wants to start sewing with knits - it's simple, comes with good instructions and it's free so you can't go far wrong! There are also some great customisations of the pattern appearing over in the Deer & Doe Flickr group, and I think I might have to use them as inspiration for a future version of Plantain. All in all, a good first step towards achieving my goal for the year!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Upcycled Deer & Doe Chardon Skirt

So, here's my first completed sewing project of 2014! It's a Chardon skirt from Deer & Doe...

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, this skirt started out as something a bit different. I love a bit of a bargain, and before Christmas I found this skirt in one of my local charity shops...

As you can see, it was massively too big, a particularly unflattering length and, I have been told, looked like something my great auntie would have worn. But I liked the material and it was only £1 so I thought that it was time to have a go at some refashioning.

When I got home and had a closer look at it, I decided that refashioning the skirt as it was would be tricky so instead I unpicked the side seams and all the pleats to leave myself with two big pieces of fabric. Getting the pleats out wasn't easy - a couple are still kind of visible now and I washed the material, left it hung up for a couple of days and pressed it as much as I dared (it's a wool/poly blend which the label said was dry clean only, but I'd already ignored that bit anyway!), but they're not too noticeable and the fabric survived so it's all good.

The Chardon skirt was the kind of shape that I'd had in mind when I first came across the original skirt in the shop, and I'm happy with the end result but there were a couple of problems along the way, which were entirely of my own making.

When I was sewing up the pleats, I was so focussed on making sure that the pattern on the material matched up, that I slightly took my eye off the ball when it came to making sure the pleats were exactly the right size - a bit stupid of me obviously! This meant that I ended up having to use a massive seam allowance on the centre back seam, so the back pleats are closer to the centre than they're meant to be. It all worked out OK and it's not a massive issue but it annoyed me at the time. On the plus side though, I'm pleased with how I got the pattern to line up.

I also decided I was going to line the skirt, which was all going fine until it came to having to change the centre back seam. It caused me more hassle than it probably should have done, but I got there in the end. There's a reason I'm not showing you any pictures of the inside of the skirt though! But at the end of the day it all looks fine from the outside and who is ever really going to look at the inside of my skirt?!

I think this is also a case where the fabric recommended for the pattern would have been better to work with, and I quite fancy stitching up a denim or chambray version at some point in the future.

Because of the slight problems I caused myself, this is never going to be my favourite creation but the skirt is comfy and cosy, and I work from home so they're the only criteria that go in to choosing what to wear at this time of year. Definitely worth the £1 investment!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Grainline Portside Duffle Bag

This is the second of the big Christmas presents that I made. I often find it difficult to think of presents to make for my Dad, but when the Grainline Portside Travel Set pattern was released it seemed like it might be just what I was looking for. My parents had been talking about needing a holdall for when they go away for weekends and the duffle bag looked just right. My Mum approved of the plan, so I set to work...

I used a heavy denim for the main fabric, a checked canvas for the contrast and lined the bag in plain white twill, all purchased locally (from Calico in Bristol). The shop has a great range of fabric, the only problem I had was being frustrated that I couldn't buy all of the pretty prints that I'd usually be drawn to because this was for my Dad! The metal hardware (D rings and swivel hooks) was from U-Handbag, and I got the webbing and zip on Ebay.

The pattern is really well drafted and the instructions were clear and easy to follow. The bag came together much quicker than I thought it might (possibly due to the lack of need to make a muslin or adjust fit being as this was a bag rather than clothing!), and I think the finish looks quite professional - my Dad did have to check that I'd made it rather than bought it for him so it must look good! I got slightly confused about attaching the main strap through the D rings (I can't remember how exactly now because it was a while ago!), but soon realised what I was doing wrong when I enlarged the photos of the finished bag on my computer. 

I didn't make any changes to the pattern or to the recommendations in the instructions - why would I when they all worked so well? I considered machine stitching the lining to the main bag instead of hand stitching as stated in the instructions, but in the end I stuck with hand stitching and I think I've ended up with a much tidier finish than I would have got with my machine and it's perfectly sturdy.

I tried to do some pattern matching on the checked canvas - as you can see from the photo above this didn't quite work out on the curved edges at the ends of the bag, but I think I did quite a good job of making sure the pattern matched along either side of the zip.

The bag is quite roomy (I managed to fit 5 cushions in it to fill it up when I was taking these photos!) and would be perfect for a weekend away, or longer if you pack lighter than I do! The pattern also includes a toiletries bag and a travel pouch which I'm looking forward to making at some point - if they're as good as the duffle bag then it'd be silly not to!

Linking up to: