Thursday, 13 January 2022

Tilly & The Buttons Nora Top

Hello there! It's been a little while since my last post, hasn't it? Things tend to get a bit quiet on my blog towards the end of a year because I'm busy making Christmas presents that need to be kept secret. But now the gifts have all been given, we're into a new year and I have a project to share with you - the Tilly & The Buttons Nora top.

Nora is a modern, boxy t-shirt or sweater with drop shoulders and wide sleeves. It has options for a high neck or regular neckband, and you can also choose between short, elbow-length or extra-long sleeves as well as a long hemline or a cropped and stepped deep hem with side splits. Plenty of variations to play with! 

I opted for the high neck, extra-long sleeves (more on that later...) and cropped and stepped hem.

The pattern is fairly simple to sew and has excellent instructions. I didn't have any trouble when I was making my Nora, and it was finished within a couple of hours. The boxy shape also means that you probably won't need to worry as much about fitting as you might with more figure-hugging silhouettes as this is a fairly forgiving style.

The pattern is available in UK sizes 6-20 (bust sizes 30" to 44"), however there is quite a lot of ease in the pattern so it might work for slightly larger bust sizes too. I went a size down (my measurements put me in Tilly's size 5, but I made a 4) and there's still plenty of room for me.

In addition to sizing down, I also lengthened the pattern. This is a common adjustment for me because I'm 5'9". I added my standard 1" to the length, but probably should have added a bit more - if I'd followed the instructions it would have ended up just a bit too cropped for my liking (you don't want to have a sweater that's supposed to keep you warm but actually exposes your middle!). As the pattern instructions mention, the hem for Nora is quite deep (7 cm), so I just made mine a bit shallower (4.5 cm) to give myself some extra length. So in total my Nora is about 7cm/almost 3" longer than the length out of the packet.

Along with lengthening the bodice section of the top, I should have lengthened the sleeves too. I like the look of the extra-long, wide sleeves, but even if I'd have used a smaller sleeve hem than the pattern intended, the sleeves would have ended up a length that just didn't look quite right on me when combined with the wide shape. I decided to solve the problem by cutting a couple of centimetres off the end of the sleeve, then using a 3cm hem and inserting 2cm-wide elastic (just a touch longer than my wrist measurement) to cinch the ends of the sleeves in a bit. I really like the effect, and I think it'll make the sleeves much more practical for me.

I'd also recommend you consider the length of the high neck piece. I have a large head, and my fabric wasn't super stretchy so I added a couple of centimetres to the neck piece - I'm glad I did because I can just get it over my head now. The neck is quite high, but that makes it nice and cosy. It also looks good folded down in half as I've done in some of these photos.

The fabric I used for my Nora is a sweatshirt fleece from Fabric Godmother - although it's currently out of stock. The colours are lovely and bright and the fabric itself is nice and warm so it's the perfect choice for keeping me cheerful and cosy during a chilly January!

All in all, I'm really pleased with how my Nora top turned out. It's nice to start the year with a successful project, and I'll have to explore some of the other options in the pattern at some point - a t-shirt version would definitely be fun for the summer!

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Me Made on Holiday

Last week I was lucky enough to escape on holiday to the north of England. I took the advantage of having a willing photographer on hand to take some photos of my me-made outfits - I don't know about you, but I always like to see handmade garments being worn as well as being shown off when they're new!

The first is a staple combination for me at this time of year and features two Jennifer Lauren patterns - the Pippi pinafore and Gable top (click here to see my original post about my Pippi pinafore or here for my Gable top review). These two patterns work really well together to make a comfortable outfit - perfect for a walk on the beach.

Secondly you might recognise my recently made Tilly & the Buttons Indigo dress (my blog post is here). I've already worn this dress quite a few times since I finished it. It's so comfortable and as you can see it works really well paired with a cardigan and tights.

I quite often wear tights with culottes during the autumn/winter, so I decided to give tights and shorts a try. I think I like it! These are a denim pair of Seamwork Dorian shorts that I made earlier this year (my original Dorian review is here), with my embroidered Hey June Sheridan sweater.

My fourth outfit features another of this summer's creations, namely my Helen's Closet Reynolds dress. This dress is super comfy and I suspected when I first made it that it would work well as a pinafore - I was right! Here I've combined it with a staple white top (a mash-up of the Tilly & the Buttons Agnes and the Sew Over It Molly top) and a shawl that I recently finished knitting.

The final outfit I have to share with you is another summer-to-autumn crossover - the McCall's 7948 dress that I made in September. I really like this dress layered with the t-shirt (it's the same one as in the previous photo) underneath, so much so that I'm wondering whether I might keep an eye out for some nice needlecord to make a version of the dress specifically to wear as a pinafore. Watch this space!

So that's my me-made holiday wardrobe - I hope you enjoyed seeing how I wear my creations in real life!

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Jennifer Lauren Esme Top

As I mentioned in my post about my Itch to Stich Glenelly top, I always like t-shirt patterns with a bit of a twist. It was therefore no surprise that I treated myself to the Jennifer Lauren Esme top pattern as soon as it was released!

The Esme top has gentle batwing sleeves with cuffed long or short sleeve options, and either a shawl collar or V-neckline. It also has regular and long-line bodice options. The pattern has multiple cup sizes (A to D in the original pattern, and C to F in the curve version), and the two size ranges cover hip measurements from 35.25" to 62.75".

I really like the shawl collar option and think that will be really nice for a long-sleeved top for winter, but I decided to try the V-neckline first.

The top above is the first version of the Esme that I made. It was actually intended to be for me, but when I tried it on it just didn't feel quite right. It was a little clingy around the waist, and although I really like the fabric itself, the colours didn't completely suit me when I was wearing it for some reason. I think if I'd only had one of those two issues, I'd probably have got over it fairly quickly and worn the top, but with the combination of the two I just wasn't feeling it.

Thankfully all was not lost and my sister happily agreed to adopt the top instead. She's slimmer than me so it's a little bigger on her than the pattern intends, but I think we can all agree that it's perfectly wearable and it's better for her to have it and enjoy it rather than it sitting in my drawer while I convince myself to like it!

Although my first version of the Esme didn't quite work out, I liked the overall shape so I decided to make another version of my own. For this one I blended out from a 14 at the shoulders/bust to a 16 at the hips. In contrast, my first version was a straight size 14. That's pretty much what's recommended for my measurements (my waist measurement is just fractionally above the 14, but is much closer to the 14 than the 16) and it did fit me, but it was just slightly clingy for my liking. Blending out to a 16 gives me that little bit of extra room to make me more comfortable.

Given that I've made two versions of the Esme now, I'm happy to report that it's a really nice pattern to sew! The instructions are very thorough. I'd say the only slightly tricky bit of the pattern is making sure that you get a nice neat finish on the V-neckline, but the steps are set out very clearly and I found that they made it a lot easier than I was expecting it to be. 

The fabric that I used for my top is a lovely cotton jersey from Like Sew Amazing - I really like the colours and the combination of stripes and florals!

The fabric for what is now my sister's top was from the Sew Hayley Jane outlet shop last year. It's a viscose jersey and so is a bit lighter weight - I think it still works OK for this pattern, but on balance the cotton jersey was better when sewing the V-neckline in particular.

I really like the Esme pattern, and I'm glad that I persevered and got the second version that works for me. In a funny way I'm also glad that the first one didn't work out quite right for me because I think it looks really nice on my sister. I'd happily recommend the pattern if you're in the market for an interesting jersey top, and I'll definitely be making a shawl collar version at some point soon!

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Tilly & The Buttons Indigo Dress

 Continuing on from a theme of my last post, I've made another dress that will hopefully work well across different seasons. Here's my Tilly & The Buttons Indigo dress....

The Indigo pattern has been around for a few years now, and I have to admit that when it was released it didn't initially appeal to me that much for some reason. But I kept seeing lovely versions of the pattern on Instagram and blogs, and then the add-on pack was released to offer even more options for Indigo. All of that combined meant that I decided I needed to jump on the bandwagon!

Indigo is a smock dress or top pattern with no fastenings. It has an empire waistline, floaty gathered skirt and pockets. There are options to use classic gathered seams or exposed frill seams. Between the original and add-on pack, there are a variety of sleeve options, and the add-on pack also offers a button back bodice and the possibility of making a midi dress by adding an extra tier to the skirt.

As you can probably see, I used the short sleeves and midi tier option from the add-on pack.

Sewing my Indigo dress was a breeze. The instructions are very detailed and give you plenty of help along the way. It's also a fairly simple pattern anyway, and it felt like it came together pretty quickly. Although it has to be said that all the gathering on the skirt tiers took a little while! The sewing level is rated as 'confident beginner', which I think is fair - or it makes a nice simple project if you have more experience.

In terms of sizing, I chose to make a size 5 - that's the size recommended for my bust and waist measurements. My hips are between a 5 and 6, but there's plenty of room in the hips so I just made the size 5.

I made a couple of fitting alterations. The first was very standard for me - adding 2" to the bodice length. I'm about 5'9" so I have to lengthen almost all patterns. 

When I made a toile it looked fine when I was standing still, but it was too tight across the back if I tried to move my arms so I did a broad back adjustment. I used a tutorial from Deer & Doe for making the adjustment, and added a total of 1.5" (0.75" on each side of the back bodice). That sorted the problem nicely and I can now wave my arms around as much as I want!

I also added some slim waist ties (they're hard to see in the photos, but they are there!). I've generally found that with looser fit dresses, I like the looseness in theory but in practice I think it works better for me if there's the option to add a bit of extra definition at the waistline with ties. 

The fabric I used is a star print viscose that I got from Oh Sew Crafty. I wanted a fabric that will hopefully work OK across different seasons, and star prints are one of my favourites so this was always going to appeal to me. Plus it was a bargain price so it seemed like a good option for giving this dress a try in case the style wasn't quite me.

Thankfully I needn't have worried about the Indigo dress not suiting me - I love how it turned out! It's beautifully swishy as you walk around, and the loose style means that its super comfy. I definitely think I'll wear this a lot, and I'm already on the lookout for fabric for a second version. After all, there are a lot more styles of Inidgo to try! Have you made any of the other versions of the pattern?

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Floral M7948 dress

The McCalls 7948 dress that I made earlier this summer is definitely one of my favourite recent creations. It also seems to be popular with other people - I've had strangers in the street compliment me on it which is always nice! It's very distinctive (I've taken to calling it my unsubtle dress), and I think it's probably the kind of thing that you might either love or hate, but thankfully I'm very firmly in the love category.

It's lovely to wear too, so I thought that I might need to revisit the pattern. For my second M7948, I decided to use one of the other options in the pattern. I stuck with the sleeveless bodice of view C that I'd used before, but this time used the pleated skirt of views A/B instead of the tiered gathered skirt. 

I do love that gathered skirt, but I wanted the dress to look noticeably different from my first version, and the pleated skirt definitely achieves that. Plus it has the added bonus that the pleated skirt has pockets. I think the tier seam in the gathered skirt overlaps with where a pocket would sit so that option doesn't have pockets - its one downside!

I used the same adjustments as my first version - lengthened the bodice by 1.5", redrew the armholes (there isn't a separate armhole line for the sleeveless bodice in the pattern), and for this version I also lengthened the skirt by 2". I go into more details about the adjustments in my post about my first dress, which you can read here.

I added waist ties to this version too, although in this case I prefer them tied at the front rather than the back. They are there I promise, they're just getting a bit lost in the busy print of my fabric!

Talking about the fabric - isn't it lovely?! I bought it semi-locally to me at Yandles. They don't have the best website, and this fabric isn't listed online, but they do have more fabrics in store (albeit more craft cottons than dressmaking). They also somehow manage to sell most of the things in their arts and crafts shop for less than RRP, so it's worth a trip if you're near Martock in Somerset!

I really like this fabric - it's a lovely cotton, and with all those colours and flowers it was always going to appeal to me! It's also the kind of fabric that I like to sew with as the seasons change because it allows me to keep sewing pretty summer cotton dresses, but the dark background means that it'll also work well layered with cardigans and tights as the temperatures drop. Win win!

As you can probably tell, I'm really pleased with how this second M7948 turned out. Have you made this pattern before? Have you started sewing for autumn, or are you still clinging on to summer projects?!