Monday, 24 April 2017

At last...A Linden Sweatshirt

It's been a while hasn't it chaps? What can I say... Life has been busy. We've been working on doing up the house and furniture projects, and honestly, I've just not been feeling the sewing vibe. But now my sewing room is almost finished, and my wardrobe is looking pretty bare.
So I figured it was about time to get stuck back in. 
Way back in December 2016, I finally got around to printing a pattern I've had on my list for some time, the Linden sweatshirt from Grainline Studio.
I put together the pattern, cut out my fabric, then Christmas got in the way and it wasn't until this week I finally got to the actual sewing. 
Why, oh why did I leave it so long?! In the end it probably took me around 2 hours to sew, and what a great little project it is. It's a great staple that you could easily fill your wardrobe with. (and I will!)
It's just the second Grainline Studio pattern I've sewn, after my Morris blazer, but I won't be stopping there. I already have my eye on the Driftless Cardigan. just love the simplicity of their patterns but how wearable they are too, with any body shape.
The fabric I used is a lycra/viscose blend with lots of stretch, and thick enough to actually keep me warm. I cut out a size 10 according to my measurements which gave me a nice relaxed fit. For a closer fitting sweatshirt I think I could easily use the size 8 without any fitting issues.
I did have to get quite ingenious when it came to getting all the pattern pieces out of just a metre of fabric, so ended up forgetting to cut two hem band pieces. I decided to just cut the one hem piece in half widthwise so I would have a narrower hem, and did the same with the sleeves to match. The extra hem length might have been nice but I think the sleeves are the perfect length. 
I used the main fabric for the hem and neckline pieces, but I think a bold print like this would also look great with a contrasting black ribbed neckline.

My go to outfit for work at the moment is black skinny jeans with a shirt and jumper, so I'm planning to make a few more Lindens to wear! I've already got an idea for the next one, maybe featuring a little embroidery...

Emily Kate.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Sew Over It - A Lola Coat

When I was invited to take a sneak peek at Sew Over It's new eBook 'My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break', I loved the look of the Lola coat (and the name!) but I wasn't overly convinced its style was very 'me'.
I had vague notions of sewing a beautiful 1950's pattern double breasted coat this year, but when it got to November and I hadn't even begun, decided I needed a quicker plan to stay warm this winter!
The Lola coat has a relaxed fit, so although you need quite a bit of fabric, there's no tricky fitting issues. I used a textured wool blend fabric I found at Calico Laine. It is quite weighty, but still has the bit of drape needed for this project. It is much warmer than I thought too, keeping me pretty toasty in the icy mornings we've had recently.
The seams are visible when the coat flaps open so if I was to make another I think I would consider bias binding them, like in the Robson coat construction. As I'm yet to invest in an overlocker I didn't have much choice but to zigzag stitch the edges terribly as best I could.
Its definitely an item of clothing that has really grown on me. I love the relaxed, comfy style of it, but it also feels smart enough for work wear. I usually wear it with a belt to keep any cold air out and cinch in the waist a bit.
And the best thing about it? The pockets. I can keep my phone, car keys, lip balm, humongous purse full of receipts, name badge, chocolate stash, kitchen sink all in there and there's no chance of the phone falling out and smashing. As has happened once... or twice before.   
Mr Makes had the clever idea to take some photos in our new sewing room/spare bedroom at the top of the house (or he just really didn't want to go outside!). The back wall is already a different colour now though, and we're almost able to tick off one room!
Emily Kate.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A New Year!

So readers, it's been a while.

2016 was a pretty amazing year for me and Mr Makes, but one where my blog and often my sewing had to take a back seat at times.

It was the year we moved across the country (and twice more after that), finally tied the knot, and just a few days before Christmas... became homeowners!

Despite not managing a great deal of sewing, it was also the year I made my wedding dress, most definitely my proudest sewing achievement.
So what are my plans moving forward for 2017?

Create my sewing room.

Now we have more space than we know what to do with and no plans for swinging any cats, I finally get a shared my own sewing room/study. Decorating starts in earnest this weekend, and I already have plans for a peg board and ingenious storage solutions.

Increase my shop stock

After reopening my shop a few months ago orders are trickling in nicely. I still have a huge list of skylines I've yet to design and frequent requests, so hopefully 2017 will be the year I finally hit my aim of 50 skylines.

Sew my 'Make nine'

This is a new challenge for me, but something I noticed other sewers doing on instagram this new year. The idea is to come up with 9 projects you're planning to sew and tell the rest of the sewing community. Mine are:

Emily Kate.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

A Second-Chance Shirt

No two sewing patterns are created equal. That’s something I’ve really noticed recently. I always used to think for the basic no-frills items like shirts and trousers, one good pattern would do. And maybe it would if it ticked all the boxes and fit like a dream, but most of the time that’s not the case.
That being said, me being the tight-arsed cheap thrifty person I am maybe isn’t such a bad thing, as if we all bought every sewing pattern we wanted there wouldn’t be any money left for fabric. Or food.
So this shirt pattern is from the first Great British Sewing Bee book that accompanied the first TV series. I’ve made a few things from it, with varying degrees of success. I’m won over by the stylish pictures and the fact I have many patterns for just a one off cost of £20ish (it’s probably a lot less now) but in reality the patterns, or some at least come with a fair amount of issues.
I actually made this shirt back in January 2015 and wrote about it here. I discovered after that the reason for it coming up so small was not just my bad measuring, but also the fact my printer decided to regularly ‘shrink-to-fit’ after I’d asked it nicely not to and I was too lazy to measure the damn box.
So I thought perhaps it was time to give this pattern another shot. It is well into autumn/fall now at least, which is definitely the season of all things tartan. I measured properly and this time cut a size 14.
 Things went along reasonably well, although I found the lack of any kind of notches to match up once again infuriating. When it came to the collar I found it to be too big, by some margin. Even using gathering stitches to ease it into the neckline didn’t help enough and I ended up cutting close to an inch off the end of it. Those things aside, it came together in a few hours.
I’m reasonably happy with it, or as much as I can be with what is decidedly now quite a naff pattern. The shoulders are two wide for me so the seam is sitting too far down my shoulder. It also feels like the ‘relaxed boyfriend fit’ they were after is happening at the top, but by my waist it is pulled in more. So it feels like a cross between a fitted shirt and a loose, relaxed fit one, not really belonging in either camp.
I do love the fabric though, and I’ve worn it out for autumn walks several times already. I’m not convinced it was the kicker to bring back my sew-Jo though as I’m still struggling with finding the time and energy.
What may help is the sewing room I will (fingers crossed!) have in the next couple of months…watch this space.
Emily Kate

Monday, 24 October 2016

A Summer Sophie Swimsuit

I've got something very topical to share with you today on this wintry blustery Monday. Or not.
I don't know what it is about October; maybe its the nights closing in, or the colder weather, but it does terrible things to my sewjo, or sewing mojo if you will. My list of sewing projects for the autumn/winter grows and grows and yet it feels like too much effort to actually start one.
So whilst I try my best to regain it, in the meantime I have something I finished back in August to share with you. Unfortunately I'm not going to be modelling this one for you... Mr Makes wasn't oh-so-keen on the idea, and given the average temperature currently I don't fancy standing in my little courtyard garden in a swimsuit.
The Sophie swimsuit is by Closet Case Files, and is available in two styles, a full swimsuit and a bikini with high waisted bottoms. As this was my first ever attempt at a swimsuit, and the first time in a long time that I've sewn with stretch fabric, I decided to enrol in the online Sophie workshop. The cost is $49 (£38, at least at the time!), which seemed a lot when I had just finished paying for a honeymoon, but does also include the pattern. Heather is a brilliant teacher, and goes through each bit in plenty of detail so I found it completely invaluable and as a result found it quite an easy sew!
The best bit I found was the first lesson when she talks in detail about each material you need (there's a lot!) and alternatives if you can't find exactly what she suggests. There's even a list underneath with suggestions on where you can find supplies online for those in the US, Canada and even the UK! Although it can add up to quite a bit with all the bits and bobs you need, I almost have enough to make another entire swimsuit, or a bikini top at the very least. Heather also outlines how you can make the bikini into a long line bikini and options for colour blocking etc, which is something you wouldn't get with just the pattern.
Whilst I found the instructions fairly straightforward thanks to the lessons, I couldn't find a stretch needle, or the patience to wait for one in the post, so I settled for a ballpoint one. That would have been okay if it weren't for the fact it was a little old and blunt, so it kept skipping stitches in the zig-zag stitch. As a result, this is a project I am simultaneously proud, and not proud of. I mean, I made a swimsuit! But if you look close, on the inside the stitching is a bit of a mess all round. I also didn't take the advice to spread the weight of the straps through the bra cups, and so they are pulling the fabric awkwardly at the top.
The fit is pretty good generally, I'm happy with the bodice, but the bra cups are a tiny bit on the small size. I think I would go up a cup size on the next one, or just a half, but take out a lot of fullness from the centre. 
So there we have it, my first attempt at a swimsuit. whilst I'm not sure how much wear this one will get as the fit could be better, I will definitely be using this pattern again and for all my swimsuits in future!
Emily Kate.


Friday, 23 September 2016

City Break - My Capsule Wardrobe

Something a bit exciting to share with you today. Sew Over It have just realised their first eBook, that is, a book of 5 patterns in PDF format only. For those of you that come here often… you’ll know I absolutely love Sew Over It patterns. I’ve made the Ultimate Trousers, Vintage Shift Dress and Betty Dress, and each is an absolute staple in my wardrobe.

In this book the patterns are :

The Erin Skirt – a short or calf length button up pencil skirt.

Molly Top and Dress – knit item with long or short sleeves.

Lola Coat – Waterfall style coat/jacket in two lengths

Mia Jeans – stretch fabric jeans with fly front and pockets.

Alex Shirt and Dress – button up dress or shirt.

I have to say I wasn’t 100% about the concept when I first heard about it. A book of patterns specifically for a City Break? But what it really is, is a suggestion for when you might need a capsule wardrobe, and 5 (well 10 including two versions of each) great patterns that work interchangeably together to make one. I love me a city break, but these patterns would also work great for me for workwear.
I love the design of the book, it’s well thought out and well-illustrated. Lisa doesn’t just tell us these patterns work well together but jaunts around Paris and London in different combinations of the patterns throughout the book. The patterns themselves are also a great selection. I often find with pattern books the patterns are a bit over simplified, but with things like jeans and coats, these definitely aren’t. I also really appreciate it when pattern instructions are illustrated with actual photos of the process, rather than diagrams; as I learn much better from seeing things being done! (or as close as I can get..)

 So when it came to making one of the patterns I was a little bit naughty. Firstly I didn’t listen to Mr Makes’ advice after asking which one I should make. I went a bit outside my usual box, and went for the button-up pencil skirt, the Erin. Then I ignored the clear suggestion to NOT use a stretch fabric, and picked a mid weight chambray weave denim with just a teeny tiny 2% stretch.
I don’t think the stretch was too much of an issue, although it made the waist a little roomier. I am happy with the sew, but I can’t help but think Mr Makes was right, I’m just not convinced the style of skirt suits me. I’m contemplating hacking it a little and cutting up to the shorter length.
That being said, I’m fully intending to make other patterns from the book. The Lola coat is right up my street, and the Molly top will make a great autumn staple for layering. Watch this space….
Apologies for the rather pained expression on my face in these photos...I was keeping an eye on the maahoooooosive spider that was behind the camera!
******Disclaimer******* - I was sent an advance copy of the eBook with no obligation to use or write about it.
Emily Kate.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Ultimate Snazzy Trousers

This is my third pair of Ultimate Trousers from Sew Over It after my Rupert bear tartan trousers, and the original pair from my sewing class. And they really are ultimate trousers. Easily my favourite pair yet. I LOVE them.

I wasn't really sure about my fabric choice at first. It's a stretch cotton I bought months ago from Fabrics Galore with these trousers in mind, but when it got to actually making them I was worried the print might be a bit loud and not suit me.
I decided to try a high-waisted version of the trousers, which Lisa has helpfully done a pattern hack for here.
This make wasn't without issues though... I thought my days of unpicking were more or less over, but apparently not. I ended up unpicking the zip and waistband twice! After I had installed it the first time, I tried the trousers on. I don't know whether I had been a bit over generous on the extension measurement, or my waistband was a bit wide, or if they were intended to be that high, but they ended not far from the bottom of my bra. Not the most flattering of looks...
So I marked where I wanted them to end, ripped the zip and waistband out and cut them down to the right length. Then I got to the same stage again, everything was perfect, and the zip pull flew off the end of the zip. Third times a charm though, and after a new zip everything was sorted.
When it came to pattern matching these trousers. I tried. I really did.
As you may have read about in my first ultimate trousers post, I apparently have one leg fatter than the other. (yes really) This doubles my cutting out time as I have 4 separate pattern pieces. I spent a fair while trying to make sure the centre front and back of the crotch seam pattern would match up, only to discover I had accidentally cut the back pattern pieces the wrong sides up, so they were the wrong way round. I managed to fix it by laying the pattern pieces on top of the fabric ones and drawing in the stich line, but it meant the front and back seams weren't going to match anymore.
I was a bit miffed about it, but when they were actually finished I loved them so much I didn't care, besides which the pattern makes your eyes blur if you look too long!  
I finished these just a couple of days ago, and have barely taken them off since. The high-waisted style makes them flattering and comfy and they don't budge from my waist like trousers tend to.
The stretch cotton also makes the seams feel that much more secure, I don't feel like my crotch or waist seam is in danger of ripping when I bend over. I'm completely converted to using stretch cotton for this pattern, and I've already spotted a beautiful flowery fabric for my next pair.
The pattern may be a bit too snazzy for small town Somerset, I've had quite a few looks strutting them down the high street, but i'm pretty sure everyone's just jealous...or at least that's what I'll tell myself!
Emily Kate.