Thursday, 24 November 2016

Winslow & Susie - the autumn edit

Back in August, I wrote a post all about my first pair of Helen's Closet Winslow culottes and wore them with a scoop neck hack of the Sew Over It Susie blouse. Now a few months have gone past, and I'm back again with a more autumnal version of the same outfit.

I really enjoyed wearing my viscose Winslow culottes this summer, so I was keen to try making another version for the cooler weather. While the viscose was lovely when it was hot, I thought some made with a thicker fabric would be nice, and being as I would be wearing them with tights now I also fancied a pair that were a bit shorter than my original version.

Happily for me, I had a piece of navy needlecord sitting in my stash that I found in a charity shop a while back. I always see people online who've found great fabric in charity shops but, even though I'm a frequent charity shop rummager, this was the first time I'd found any actual fabric (as opposed to duvet covers/sheets etc., which I often buy to use for toiles). I had no idea what I would use it for at the time but, at £4 for over 2 metres, I wasn't going to leave it behind.

When the idea of making another pair of Winslow culottes came into my mind, the needlecord seemed to be the perfect candidate. While I was keen to give culottes and tights a try, I wasn't 100% convinced that I would like the look on me so using the charity shop corduroy meant that I wasn't putting expensive fabric at risk. And navy goes with everything (in my wardrobe anyway!), so I shouldn't be short of tops to wear with them.

I made up view B (above the knee) in a size 14 with no alterations, and I'm really happy with how they turned out in the end, although I did have a bit of a hiccup along the way.

I originally used an invisible zip as recommended in the pattern and unfortunately it didn't really cooperate with the needlecord and the thickness it created at the waistband. Zipping them up was a bit tricky but just about OK when I wasn't wearing the culottes, but when I had them on I just couldn't get the zip over the waistband. I think if I'd had someone else around, they'd have been able to do them up for me, but being as I live on my own that wouldn't be a practical long-term solution! So I took the zip out and replaced it with a regular centred zip instead. That wasn't the most fun process being as I'd already trimmed my seam allowances, but I got there in the end.

As I said before, the top is another scoop neck hack of the Sew Over It Susie blouse - which is fast becoming a favourite top pattern for me (my first of these hacks is here).

This time I used the three-quarter sleeves to make it slightly more seasonal. Only slightly though - it definitely wasn't warm enough to be wearing it outside without a cardigan and/or coat when I was taking these photos, and I did get some very odd looks from passers-by.

The fabric is a lovely Liberty lawn which I picked up for a bargain price in the Fabric Rehab closing down sale. It's sad that they're closing - I haven't bought huge amounts of fabric from them, but I've always been really happy with any purchases that I have made. I think there's still time to pick up a bargain in their sale if you're interested...

I wore this outfit (with added cardigan and coat!) last weekend, and I really liked it. The culottes are really comfy, and it turns out I quite like how they look with tights. So much so that I think I might need to make another pair in the not too distant future!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Jennifer Lauren Gable Top

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to win a giveaway in Simply Sewing magazine and part of my prize was a length of lovely Art Gallery jersey. I already had plenty of summer sewing projects on my agenda when it arrived, so I put it back to wait for future plans. A little while later, Jennifer Lauren released the Gable top and I matched the two of them up in my head as one of the first projects on my autumn sewing list.

The Gable is a knit top with a slash neckline, a long-line body and three different sleeve options - clearly here I used the long sleeves.

Sewing the Gable top was quick and really straightforward. The instructions and diagrams are really clear. It's rated as being for confident beginners upwards and I'd say that's right. It would probably be a good beginner knit project because I think that the way the neckline is finished (turning under and top stitching all the way from one shoulder to the other) is easier than using bands.

I did use the option suggested in the instructions of finishing the neckline as soon as you've sewn the shoulder seams rather than later in the sewing process, when you can try the top on and adjust the neckline according to your preference. I've had slash neck tops in the past so I was confident that I would like it, and finishing the neckline earlier seemed like it would be easier to me.

I made a straight size 14 and I'm pleased with how the fit turned out. It's slightly looser fitting than some of my t-shirts, but it's perfectly fitted enough for my liking. If I were to change anything, I might possibly think about slimming the arms down slightly for a future version, but they're not too baggy so I might not even do that.

It is described as being longline, and it definitely is an inch or two longer than most of my other t-shirts. That's quite a nice feature for this time of year because it comes down right to my hips, which helps keep my middle warmer!

The Art Gallery jersey was brilliant to work with. I've often admired their knits from afar, but so far haven't actually got round to buying any. It's not the cheapest of fabrics, but I'm a firm believer that it's worth paying for quality so it was nice to win this fabric so I could test the fabric out and see what it's like. As I said, it was great to sew and it feels lovely to wear as well. I'll definitely be investing in more Art Gallery jersey in the future!

I made the top with the intention of wearing it, as I am above, with my denim Lilou pinafore dress. It's a great for pairing with pinafores because the simple slash neckline will work nicely with different pinafore necklines. Hardly surprising really given than it was designed to complement Jen's Ivy pinafore.

Speaking of which, has anyone tried sewing an Ivy pinafore yet? I'm tempted by the tent dress version because it looks so comfy and cosy, but it's a pretty different silhouette for me so I'd love to hear if anyone's got any thoughts about it!

I'm calling this Gable top a definite success - it was great to sew, it's just what I wanted for wearing with pinafores, it's obviously super comfy to wear and, as an added bonus, I didn't even have to pay for the fabric! You can't beat that really, can you?!

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Seamwork Elmira Cardigan

When the Elmira cardigan was released as one of the patterns with the August issue of Seamwork, I knew right away that I'd be making one at some point. I really love the look of wrap cardigans, and the large bow closure is just the kind of thing that appeals to me. It was one of the first things on my autumn sewing list, and here's my version....

The Elmira is a cropped, fitted wrap cardigan that fastens with buttons and thread chain loops on the right on the inside, and a large ties at the left hand side.

As with all of the Seamwork patterns, it's a fairly speedy sew. I cut mine out one evening and sewed up everything apart from the loops and buttons the next evening. By the evening after that, I'd decided that I didn't want to use the loops and buttons, and instead I sewed in some poppers/press studs/snap fasteners/whatever-you-want-to-call-them that I had in my stash.

The fabric I used came from Girl Charlee, but I bought it several months ago and it doesn't seem to be in stock now. I originally ordered it intending to make a dress, but when it arrived it seemed a little lightweight for that so then it sat around waiting for me to decide what it would become.

When fabrics have been in my stash for a while, I tend to regard them as "free" (even though they're clearly not because I had to pay for them at some point) and will happily use them for anything, even if I'm not sure how they'll turn out (am I the only one that does that?!), and that's how this piece of jersey ended up being an Elmira.

It's a lightweight jersey; I can't remember the exact fibre content, but I'm pretty sure it's some sort of viscose blend because it's really drapey. It's also slightly sheer when stretched, which is what put me off using it for a dress. I knew wouldn't be a problem with the Elmira though, because I'll always be wearing at least a little vest top underneath it.

I don't think I would have wanted to use any knits that were much heavier than this. I noticed that one of the recommended fabrics in the Elmira description is French terry which sounds really cosy and tempting but, from my experience of French terry at least, I think that the knot/bow could end up being really bulky.

The fabric was nice to work with, and the instructions were clear and easy to follow. I'm not 100% sold on the finish that the pattern produces. The front pieces are self-lined, and the outer and lining pieces are joined together and the back neckline is finished (by turning under and stitching) before sewing the shoulder seams. I found that my shoulder seam allowances wanted to peep out at the neckline (because they're not enclosed in a band or anything) so I ended up top-stitching them down to keep them in place inside the cardigan. I'm not sure if that's a "thing" or not, but it worked, so that's what matters.

Based on my mesurements, I graded between a medium at the shoulders and bust, and a large at the waist. As it turns out, I really didn't need to grade up at the waist because I ended up taking the side seams in (probably taking them back to where they would have been for the medium), and I positioned the poppers so they're not right at the end of the inside front piece meaning that the overlap is bigger than it should be. I also added 1.5 inches to the length - fairly standard for me. With those adjustments, I'm fairly pleased with how the fit turned out.

The front crossover sits quite nicely when I'm wearing it. I've worn it once so far and, while I did have to adjust it a couple of times throughout the day, it wasn't constantly moving out of place as I feared it might. I would say though that this is definitely a wrap cardigan rather than a wrap top - you'll want to wear something under it unless you want the world to see your bra!

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, and I love how it looks with a nice full skirt (I'm wearing it here with my denim Veronika skirt). I won't be rushing to make another Elmira instantly because I want to see how much I wear this one first. It's also reminded me that I have the Papercut Coppelia cardigan in my stash so part of me wants to make that one and compare the two. I could have my own little quest to find the perfect wrap cardigan! Have you made either of them? Or are there any other wrap cardigans out there that I should try?