Category Archives: Adventures in Overlocking

Surf to summit badger

Surf to summit running top – a very personal edition

I don’t just sew clothes for running, despite a recent spate, but since I have some new photos to share, here is the running top that was always meant to be.  For me, that is.  And you’ve already see why :-)

Last year I invested in some Spoonflower fabric when there was a free shipping deal.  Along with the floral leggings of nothing but flowers, I also bought some badger fabric in performance knit.  When I went back to Spoonflower to link to the fabric I had used, I am sure there are now more badger prints than there were when I made my choice,   Are badgers actually cool to anyone else but me?

surf to summit badger

 

Anyway, this was always going to be a top, but just which top to make?  It was not clear until the Surf to Summit top pattern came out from Fehr Trade.  I have made a few of these and love the high neckline & long sleeves (with mitts) & general slim-but-not-too-slim fit for winter running.

With just a metre of badger fabric I needed to add some contrast & had some cream wicking lycra that matched the badger fabric well enough. That’s another  good thing about the Surf to Summit top- plenty of pieces for playing around with colour blocking (or eeking out fabric!)  Actually if it was 100% badger, maybe that would have been too much?

Surf to summit badger (2)

But it’s Spring!  Yes, I know.  The chances of me getting much wear out of this top this side of the year dramatically reduced as soon as the clocks changed, but you know, there could still be a frost half way into May according to the gardeners I know.  An evening run in some inclement weather may require the badger to be brought forth!  Otherwise it can have some summer hibernation, far away from any horrible busy roads! ( And there is an option to make a short sleeved surf to summit top but I wanted it to be for winter running you see.)

Surf to summit badger (3)

So you know I have already reviewed this top pattern here & another example here.  I am still not quite there with perfecting my fit, & luckily for me, I was able to discuss with my sewing guru (my Mum).  Nothing I can do for this particular top, which is OK as it is completely wearable.  But my next version will involve increasing the size to give more room in the top, bicep part of my sleeve, & probably a bit more scooping under the arm too.  I think I must have flabby armpits (NICE!  The things we share in the interest of sewing learning!).

Surf to summit badger (4)

Mitts folded back on one hand, in operation on the other.

 

You can see in the pic above that if you are using a fabric with a right & wrong side, that you need to decide which version of the mitts gets the right side.  For me, and the way the pattern instructs you, is to make the open cuff show the fabric’s best side & mitts deployed show the fabric’s wrong side.  This works out fine for this version especially with that cream contrast – almost looks like I designed it that way!

The other lucky thing was that my Dad, enjoyed being the man behind the camera as I larked around in the misconception that I needed to do something silly to entertain him.

surf to summit badger (6)

I didn’t stay still for long enough.  It must be the lycra.  And I didn’t come prepared with a whole running outfit to model.  Ultimate Trousers as jeans if you are interested. :-)

Surf to summit badger (5)

I have some scraps of badger fabric left & have been inspired on Twitter by what to use it for.  Possibly a Steeplechase leggings yoke, an armband pocket for gel carrying, & / or some badger running bows.  So even though this will not be coming with me to London for the marathon, some scrap of badger will.  (And let’s hope it’ll be more than just a scrap of me left at the end ;-)  )

Moneta feature

Moneta Monday?

It’s exactly a week since my last Moneta post, and here I am with another one to show you- a Moneta dress (by Colette Patterns) made using some lovely teal interlock from Plush Addict.(Disclaimer I received this fabric free from Plush Addict to review)

Moneta

Now remember,  Moneta is Colette Pattern’s pattern of the month.  And  there is a 20%. discount if you want to buy it this month too- marvelloso! Follow that link!

Moneta

Now it’s only recently that I became aware of what interlock actually is, & ask me a couple of months ago what it was, & I would only be able to suggest that it was some kind of jersey, but I had no more knowledge than that.  It all changed when I read the article in Seamwork about doubleknits by Alyson Clair & discovered What you clever folk will doubtless already know, that interlock is a kind of double knit (or double knit is a kind of interlock hahaha).  She writes, “Interlock jersey is in fact a double jersey, with a smooth surface on each side. The wales of the fabric on each side are alternated, with the back loops knitted together. This means both sides of an interlock will look the same”.  And the penny dropped.  This interlock is indeed more structured than the Liberty jersey I made my last Moneta out of.  It has less drape & it’s one of those knits whose edges behave & don’t curl up.  It’s easy to work with, & as you’ll see it gathers easily, so it’s not that thick, in fact it feels like quality t-shirts from M&S that your Mum rates highly.  It has less stretch & recovery though, so I would reckon it’s not such a good choice for leggings & truly figure hugging things.

Moneta

I chose it based on its colour, with a Moneta in mind.  I LOVE teal.  But it’s one of those colours that are sometimes hard to find, which is why I snap them up when I do find them (& why you might be under the illusion that they are common place based on how often I make things up in teal!).

Moneta

I have already peeled on about how I have found making the Moneta (easy).  I took some photos this time of the elastic waist shirring process.

Fun hey?!  Then there was the collar.  More on that in a minute, but look what happened.

Blade needs changing

This is the ugly mess that results in the overlocker blade not being able to cope with the thickness of fabrics.  YUK.  It persuaded me to get my screwdriver out & replace the blade.  Only, when I came to swap the old for the spare (provided at time of purchase), they were different sizes, so I had to put the old one back in.  SOB.  At least I tried.  I won’t be so scared next time.

 

So, let’s talk about the collar.  Once again, I opted for a collar, not wanting the plain turned under neckline.  I wanted to make the roll collar, which has been designed with a two piece back.  But I just couldn’t shake off the desire to make it without a break in the back, and using the roll back that is used for the tie collar.  I am sure there is a practical reason for making both these neckline options split either in the front (the tie) or the back (the roll collar), but perversely I had to find out for myself & potentially make the mistake, ignoring the styles provided & cobbling together the roll collar front & the tie collar back.  Nothing special needed for this, since the bodice & neckline shape does not vary, so the collars all fit & are therefore potentially interchangeable.  I was preparing myself for a fall however.

 

Shall I tell you now?  Did I make a boo boo?  Well I don’t think so….as far as I could guess, the practical reasons for the collar being split in the original designs could be either to make the collar sit down at the back/ front & not flip up.  There is a slight tendency for my collar to be a bit perky, but once under a cardigan it gets flattened into submission.  The other reason is to tell which is the front & which is the back!  Hahaha.  I need to sew a ribbon or something into the back as the only way I can tell is to look at the shoulders to see which way the seams are facing!

Moneta

So that’s my teal Moneta dress.  I have three Monetas now, & they are so easy to wear – extremely comfy for working at home too.  I could see a sleeveless version in my summer future (with a collar of some description) – but for now, I think three “semi wintry” versions that will also see me into Spring is enough for now- so no Moneta next Monday- promise!  Have you see the tips for Moneta month – especially how to bind the edges?  I like the sound of that!

Moneta feature

Liberty Moneta

Time for something lovely.  And that should be loverly with a capital L for Liberty!  Yes, here is my Liberty jersey Moneta, promised after making my polka dot Moneta earlier this year.

Moneta

And what good timing as the Moneta is Colette Pattern’s pattern of the month.  And apparently there is a 20% discount if you want to buy it this month too- excellente! Follow that link!

Moneta

OK Kilburn Rose Liberty Jersey is one of my high hitting fabrics this year.  Bought in Shaukat when I visited last year, this was the most expensive length of fabric I have ever bought for a dress.  (But you know I am a bargain sniffer, it’ll take a big shift to change me into a quality gal) .  But this is so worth it.  The fabric is just *amazing*.  Its drape, the colours, the beautiful roses (designed by Tamsin Greig don’t you know – read about it here).

Moneta

Having made Moneta once, I knew what was in store.  I shortened the bodice slightly & think I got it just right.  This therefore impacted on the overall length of the skirt too, making it a tad shorter which is a good thing.  I also opted for the tie neck, because, *of course!*  It’s a tie & a collar & as well as looking dreamy & classic & vintage to suit the beautiful fabric, I also did not like the neck just turned under, which is how the basic Moneta is designed.

Moneta-003

The back of the neck scoops & has a scooped collar, which I love, although, currently wearing under cardigans squooshes it up a bit at the back.

Moneta

I don’t think I made any other changes to how it was put together – I really like the gathered skirt, I love the way it swings & feels super girly.  I kept the sleeves at elbow length which I also think is very feminine & surprisingly doesn’t bring me out in goosebumps with my wrists only covered by cardigan at the moment.

Moneta

 

I am really into wearing dresses, tights & boots & this dress is getting worn a lot.  It is yet another of my dresses that is super easy to care for – no ironing people!  Just wash, dry naturally & wear again.  Score!

I tell you what.  Spending more on fabric, to make less really does create some amazing clothes that become firm favorites.

Moneta

Like….der!

 

It’s clearly obvious, that if you spend at the very top end of your budget, your spending decision is going to be far more sound & long lasting than bulk buying because it’s a bargain.  I am learning.  Honest!

Steeplechase leggings

I’m a walking technical diagram- Steeplechase Leggings!

Check out the new pattern from Fehr Trade – the Steeplechase leggings. I was thrilled to be a tester, so let me tell you about them. Designed cleverly (of course, it’s Melissa we are talking about here- she never designs something that anyone else has done) – yes, designed cleverly with no inseam, these are leggings that are super quick to make as well. Two pieces, that’s all you need – a yoke & a leg (times two of course). But the shape of the leg is weird, I warn you – it doesn’t look like any leg piece I’ve ever seen before. (Before I launch into more about the leggings, I need to say that since testing these, Melissa has made a few tweaks from tester feedback to get an *even better* fit around the back of the knee, & a bit more room at the ankle.  Just saying, because my photos are tester pics).

Steeplechase leggings

Paying attention to the notches is a must as these leggings have a curved seam that wraps its way around from your outer glute down the back of your leg. This avoids any chafing that you might experience from inner leg seams, and is apparently born from a suggestion by a horse rider. Smart!

Steepelchase leggings

So they come together really quickly – there is an option to add an inner pocket if you want, and of course options for different leg lengths. I have only made full length leggings as it is full length legging season for me. And I wanted to make sure I got the seams right – if they work all the way down my leg, then they will work as shorter versions was my thinking.

Steeplechase leggings

Want to hear a confession? Due to my laptop’s software, including operating system having to be reinstalled my Adobe settings had changed & I was a real idiot and didn’t measure the test square. Take it from me folks, always measure your test square! My first pair came out 25% bigger & did they cause Melissa & me headaches in trying to work out what went so desperately wrong with the sizing? But I managed to salvage a pair of usable leggings out of it, to be revealed in a later post of holographic awesomeness. I then roadtested the pattern at 100% in some expendable fabric (also to be revealed as part of a holographic treat later) which proved that all was well & the light was green for go to get making my besties.

Blue steel

My last pair for now are made out of this fabulous lycra from Plush Addict- In coral- given to me for me to review. Being a solid colour I took a chance & went crazy with my seams- on the outside! #shocker# I know how to live on the edge. Yes, I used my overlocker’s rolled hem seam, sewing these wrong sides together. I machine basted the seams with a long straight stitch at the seam allowance before letting loose with my rolled hem over the top of it. I used four cones of normal cotton thread, but it would have looked so much better if I had woolly nylon in the loopers. I just don’t have any at the moment, but that will be speedily rectified for the next pair….

Steeplechase leggings

I played around with the stitch settings first – I think the stitch length was as short as I could get it. But it’s OK, I think, isn’t it?! I only used this seam finish for the long leg seam & the yoke seam.  The crotch was sewn right sides together with a regular 4 thread overlock stitch.  Hems & elastic as per normal – twin needle or Coverstitch.

Steeplechase

I just had to include this – super dork face – someone who would print out at 125% !

And the leggings were a dream to wear – really special fabric next to the skin, silky, and extremely comfy to wear. The fab Plush Addicts can neither confirm nor deny at the moment whether this is a breathable or wicking fabric, and if they hear otherwise I will update this with deets. It is sold as swimwear fabric.  However, I cannot say enough just how luxe this fabric feels to wear – it plus the Steeplechase leggings pattern – are so comfy to run in at this time of year. I have so far ran a good 7 miles in them (a cool evening run half of which was uphill) & also a shorter 5 mile daytime run. I cannot provide any feedback on whether this fabric is suitable for warmer workouts, but by gum, it’s amazing for me at this time of the year. I have since ordered some more in blue! Wheeeee!! (It also comes in Hunter green and black…..)

My problem is that they are seriously competing with the Duathlons as my fave leggings to sew for running.  How can I decide?  Duathlons have more pieces – but super useful side seam pockets.  The Steeplechase leggings are amazingly quick to sew, extremely comfy & do have an optional back inner pocket.  I am unable to pick a winner.  See some examples of the Steeplechase leggings sewn up my Melissa.  If you want to buy some, then until March 25 there is a discount code – SADDLE10 - for 10% off – & if Paypal using, you are taken a way through the process until you can use it.

Surf to summit

But what about the top of awesome zebra confounding?  Why it’s another Surf to Summit top, using lycra from UKFabricsonline.  Those arms caused me so many giggles as I had them poking out under a regular t-shirt I was wearing to promote local fostering at the Bath Half Marathon.  I love the Surf to Summit for winter running, I love the neckline and the handmitts that make me feel as if I am wearing a morph suit (but provide good finger toasting, and no glove loss when you need to take them off – perfect especially in a race!)  It really is my ideal winter running top, especially in a lovely lycra.  Super comfy & very practical.

So for now, it’s over & out on the running togs.  But I promise you I will return with the craziest Steeplechase leggings you might ever see,  (Now that’s a challenge), modeled by someone other than me, a special guest. .  Just be prepared to grab your sunglasses!

Linden Sweatshirt – a well worn test

I have seen so many tempting versions of the Linden Sweatshirt, by Grainline, that in the end I weakened & coughed up for my own version. Eminently wearable loungewear was my thinking. All I needed was some sweatshirting.

Linden

I had my ribbing, this awesome turquoise knit ribbing from Plush Addict (remember a little goes a very long way – I bought a metre and anticipate a wardrobe of knits coordinated by their ribbing!)

Linden sweatshirt

Sweatshirting was on my shopping list when I went to Goldhawk road the last time & I found some that suited my needs – a funky enough colour, & with a fluffy reverse but with a not-too shiny right side- some sweatshirting looks to me to be too polyester-y – I want soft & matt please. But clearly in Goldhawk Road I was also looking for a bargain.

I found this, but please don’t ask me which shop. It was excellent value, and came as a tube. Unfortunately it wasn’t until I cut it out that I discovered fade lines which has therefore rendered this sweatshirt as definite domestic use only, as I could not cut around the fade marks.

Linden sweatshirt

See fade mark through the mid sleeve

Heyho. Never mind. I still wear it – a lot.  Beacause this is SOOOO cosy and warm.  It’s a winter domestic essential, seriously.

I enjoyed making my Linden, but think there is room for improvement. The neckline could be a little bit more uniform – even though I always tend to overlock neckbands with an eye on the finished band width rather than the seam allowance I am cutting off, there are a few places that are narrower than others, & with a contrast ribbing this shows more.

Linden

The Linden is very boxy, although the arms in this version at least are reasonably narrow fitting considering the amount of “box” in the body. I don’t mind this, but could think about fitting my next one just a smidgeon. I also think that it looks far better being worn with skinnies than it does being worn with my (coordinated ribbing) Hudsons. When worn together I look as if I am either about to enter a ballpool, playing with the other toddlers, or else am in custody.

Linden

Anway, I have more sweatshirting now,

Linden

it’s like, emerald green!  From Ebay.  Should I be tempted by other colours in the Plush Addict range or should I stick with turquoise?

Options could be emerald with …

Green

 

Yellow – too boy scouts?

Purple!

Grey??

Too much choice!  I also like the idea of making a baggy short sleeved t-shirt too sometime. Looks like Linden & I have a nice future ahead of us!

high top hoodie

Jungle January: the dash of the rusty leopard

I can’t believe this is the third year of Jungle Januaries!  Annie at Pretty Grievances cracks me up with her fabulous& witty  herding of jungle printed makers.    I couldn’t let it pass by unnoticed, could I?  Especially when I had some animal print (I call it rusty leopard, hence the title) fromUKFabrics Online that I’d ordered a while ago (it’s still in stock) thinking that leopard legs would make me faster.  I will never know as I have made it into a top.

high top hoodie

But I am not going to tell you much about this top as it is an as yet unreleased top by Kitschy Koo, the High Top Hoodie.  I was a pattern tester (yay!)  & will save my review of it for when you can lay our hands on your own version to sew yourselves.

High top hoodie

As part of my testing I decided that a sports version would make eminently good sense.  You see it has lots of warm devices – extra long sleeves with thumb holes, a nice covered neck & what hoodie would be complete without said hoodie to keep the draughts at bay.  And winter running  needs must be met.  The fabric incidentally is wicking & silky stretchy polyester – it would make wonderful leggings too.

High top hoodie

I wore it here at the beach, really running (not just posing).  It was a tad chill, hence the woolly hat.  I am wearing it with my Ooh La La running leggings.   It was such hard going that I almost wished I did have leopard legs because would they have made it easier?  They might have?  It was blimmin hard work anyway.

high top hoodie

 

And just as I decided to goof around, a fellow goofer (my dog niece) decided to give me a whopper on my chops….

high top hoodie

 

And I loved it.

high top hoodie

And so did she.

high top hoodie

Thank you Muppet Cookson for taking the photos.  Thank you Bramble for cleaning your teeth.

 

Moneta dress

Polka dot Moneta : #polkadotjanuary

Hello!  It’s almost the end of January and if I am to blog about what I’ve made in time for the two awesome January themes I’d better get cracking.  Today it is  my polka dot Moneta dress just in time for the Sewcialists’ Polka Dot January.  Tomorrow it shall be my contribution to Jungle January!  (Bad planning on my behalf – two blog posts on consecutive days, but hey.  So I am not a blog planner.)

Moneta dress

 

So what’s the story with this one?  I resisted such a long time getting the Moneta dress by Colette Patterns since I had the Lady Skater dress which is such an awesome pattern.  How could I justify it?  They seemed so similar, plus I knew that the Lady Skater fitted me out of the packet AND had plentiful sleeve options.  But I did like those purty collar / neckline options offered by the Moneta.  And I kept returning to ogle at them.  Also @naomimolly (on Instagram) has to be the most prolific Moneta maker ever beguiling me with dresses of beauty (& clearly practical comfort).

Moneta dress

 

So there was some kind of special discount offered by Colette Patterns last year & I jumped in for the digital download.  And then prevaricated some more as I have the most wonderful Liberty jersey that I feel is destined to become a Moneta, but clearly, I was not going to test sizing & fit on the length of jersey that had costed me the most I’d ever paid for a length of jersey.  Eventually this black & white polka dot, residing in my stash, volunteered itself.  It’s cheap & cheerful, although has more body that I expected so is actually quite warm to be wearing at this time of year (win!).  The polka dots are the kind that are “painted on”- almost literally it feels- resulting in the underside of the fabric looking like polka dot seersucker with its puckers.   Close up the white dots thinly cover the black background & look distinctly cheap.  From a distance less of an issue?!

Moneta dress

I remember trying to be smart printing out the pdf, but not realising that I had printed out the sleeveless bodiced version & had to hunt around for the longer sleeves that I required.  Such is the luck of the pdf experience.  I decided I would make the plainest longest sleeved version to see how it fit & how it works for then deciding on what options to take advantage of for the Liberty jersey.

Moneta dress

I expected a simple sew & I was not disappointed.  All on my overlocker apart from some of the hems (neck edge, sleeves and skirt hem) that I used my coverstitch for.

Interesting construction to note:  the neck edge in this version is just meant to be a turned edge.  (The Lady Skater has a separate neck band).  I was a little uneasy about this, concerned that it might gape or stretch, so I zig zagged some woven elastic around the wrong side of the neck edge before turning it over and coverstitching through all layers.  It certainly feels more robust, but even then, I could have got a slightly better tension as there is still some slight gaping which I would wish to avoid next time.

Moneta dress

Other interesting construction note: the skirt gathering.  Described as “shirring” in the pattern, you are meant to cut elastic (clear elastic) to a required length (I seem to remember it is based on your waist measurement) & then attach to the skirt like you would elastic to knickers (ie quartering, then stretching the elastic to fit in between whilst zig-zagging to the fabric).  This results in 1. a nicely gathered skirt and 2. a reinforced waist to stop sagging/ drooping.  I found my elastic was at its maximum stretch  when I was doing this, which was fun!

Moneta dress

I also put pockets in, as they come with the pattern, and are part of the design.  But I am not convinced by in seam pockets in knit skirts.  They are never quite as flat lying as I would like.  Next time I will miss them out I think.

Moneta dress

How does the Moneta compare then to the Lady Skater?  Have I wasted my money?  The differences I see, create the following distinctions – Lady Skater versus Moneta ballet dancer.

  • Both graceful scoop necks, although the Lady Skater has a neckband finish, whilst Moneta has a turned edge (not my favorite finish) but there are additional collars which are heavenly;
  • Sleeves – they both have different sleeve options – which are different to each other!  Lady Skater has long from wrist, 3/4 length and short.  Moneta has 3/4 length, short & sleeveless;
  • Skirts- the Lady Skater is a half circle skirt (I think) with no gathering.  Moneta is a gathered dirndl – with pockets.

I enjoy wearing both of them.  This Moneta is nice & warm (but then so is my Lady Skater as I made it out of sweater knit & it has long snugly sleeves).  You can see the fit of my Moneta doesn’t quite hit my waistline- something I could alter next time.  I would also consider a shorter skirt- I lazily turned up the hem allowance without trying it on ;-) But if I shorten the bodice, maybe I won’t need to.

Moneta dress

Lady Skater has more of a casual edge than the Moneta, which is just a tad more classically styled.  But then isn’t that what both Kitschy Koo and Colette Patterns are known for, respectively?  For me, the joy of a decent knit dress is the style, comfort & practicality, therefore I have room for both of these in my wardrobe.  Hurrah!  Now, when can I make my Liberty jersey up & just what neckline option shall I go for?  (I am veering towards the tie neck- surprise surprise).  If you want to see what my Liberty pattern is, it’s the same (but jersey) as Jane’s lining to her boiled wool coat , Kilburn Rose.

floral leggings

Legs with nothing but flowers

If you want to get into my head & understand the joy that these floral leggings give me (despite their shortcomings which I will detail below) ,……

floral leggings

then you may want to listen to this while reading on …..

YouTube Preview Image

OK, are you set? Have you got beyond the intro?  OK, shimmy in your seat & dream of sunshine & colour…..smile away….these leggings you see make me want to party!  Or run.  The fabric is a Spoonflower performance knit that I ordered during a free shipping promotion.  The thought of blooms all over my pins could not be surpressed.  The darkish colour felt suitable for a long pair in the winter.   I used the Megan Neilson Virginia leggings pattern which I have executed satisfactorily a few times before, full length there in bamboo.  They have a separate waistband & are single piece leggings (ie just one inner leg seam).  I wanted a simple design.

floral leggings

So they should have been a simple sew, & they were.  I was stingy & ordered just a metre, which was a scrape to get the full length, but bearing in mind my red bamboo leggings are long enough to gather around my ankles, I felt I could get away with losing a bit off the length.

floral leggings

I added a mini inner pocket & what’s that?  OK, a canny keyring sewn in to keep my doorkey safe whilst out without pockets.

floral leggings

So what’s the deal?  Well, I made a terrific mistake.  The most terrific mistake you can make with stretch fabrics.  I did not take into account the percentage stretch needed.  Nor the direction of stretch.  I did not even test my fabric before cutting out.   This fabric has limited (25% )  two way  (weft) stretch.   Not enough for cutting a normal pair of leggings that requires ?40-50% stretch would you say?  So I could have overcome that by cutting a larger size, but with no vertical stretch either, I should also have cut longer legs & a longer length at the rise too & maybe, just maybe, I would have got away with it ….

floral leggings

What happens now is that all the limited stretch goes outwards, making the length even shorter.   And at certain pressure points when being worn  the floral print is stretched to the point at which the print is at its limit eg (lower leg) You wouldn’t believe these were designed as full length leggings would you, but hipster capris?  They pass! (Just beware who is standing behind you when you do your stretches after your run!)

floral leggings

I have been wearing them to run in though.  How could I not?  But I have to hoik them up so that there is enough spare fabric around my joints – knees & hips – to move.  They are probably not the most flattering fit as a result, but as you can probably tell, I don’t care.

floral leggings

I don’t think that people notice this creasing around knees & upper thigh because they are fundamentally jealous of my floral pins.  But, readers, take my story & be warned & hopefully when you choose such awesome fabric you are more cautious & prepared than I was.

Perfect combo with my Surf to summit top.

surf to summit top

Surf to Summit Top

My fave running top for winter?  It rapidly became the Surf to Summit top, Fehr Trade’s latest pattern.  I was actually a pattern tester before Christmas but what with Christmas and the laptop malfunction it’s taken me all this time to blog & retrieve photos.  And all the meanwhile I have been regularly pulling this top off the drying rack to use as soon as it is ready.  The red is my absolute fave & I shall now tell you why.

surf to summit top

Have you seen the surf to summit pattern yet?  It is another clever design from Melissa as we all come to expect, Melissa adds practical styling & very clever piecing.  This is a princess seamed, raglan sleeved, long or short sleeved top with options for fold-over hand warming mitts (long sleeve only of course hahaha), turtle neck, half zip neck, back shaped hem for cyclists, elasticated back pocket.   So far I have made a turtle neck out of some slinky smooth sports lycra from UKFabrics online (not sure if there is any of this left now) then I made the half zip version out of some apparently thermal wicking fabric I scored off eBay yonks ago.  (It’s rather fluffy, perfect ski base layer potentially, and so sorry I do not have any links to share)

surf to summit top

Now I was a tester & whipped these two tops up pretty quickly – they are a breeze to make with the raglan sleeves particularly.  Note the versions I am wearing are tester versions and since then Melissa has tweaked the pattern slightly to make the turtle neck facing behave better, she’s also altered the half zip facings, but I did not have any noticeable issues when I made it.

surf to summit top

As it was such a long time ago that I made these tops I am trying to remember how it was, apart from being swift.  The half zip top clearly takes longer to make, but there are some clever facings to make the zip insertion nice & straight forward.  This is one of the first times I’ve done this kind of zip, so at each step I was enjoying learning a new process.  I am sure my zip insertion can be improved!

surf to summit top

I had some strange quirk of a fit adjustment that was so easy – I found the armholes needed more of a scoop as they were a bit high under my ‘pits.  Accommodating deeper more scooped armholes was easy with raglan sleeves – no unpicking required.  Melissa advised me to stick the sleeve back inside the body, so that I could get at the seam that joins the sleeve all the way around, & take some extra off in a nice smooth curve from say mid chest around to mid upper back.  I eeked little bits at a time until I was happy with my armhole scoop.  If only all fit adjustments with an overlocker could be so pleasant!!

surf to summit top

What else did I learn making these tops?  Oh yes, the facings are top stitched in the ditch to keep them in place.  Being a raglan top there are four seams that can be used for this purpose.  I was concerned about sewing with a normal straight stitch on an area that could potentially be stretched so much- but no, the straight stitches have not ever given me cause for worry, they do not appear to give any rigidity to an area of stretch, have no fear & be brave!

surf to summit  top

The process for sewing the mitts is almost as genius as the wearing of them!  There are no awkward sewing manoevres required, honest.  And wearing – folded one way they are just part of your sleeve, fold the other way & they form a neat hand pocket.  Oh I love them!  I might feel a bit like I am in a morph suit, but they are a good thing to have on hand in case of emergency cold fingers.  At the moment I am beyond handwarming long arm mitts, I have to say.  At the moment I am wearing a pair of running gloves plus fleecy mittens, but come the spring, I know I shall be leaving mittens behind safe in the knowledge that my extremities will be protected by sleeve mitts- which can be folded back again when I warm up.  No future incidents of glove-falling from pockets & getting waylaid with these sleeves.

surf to summit top

The reason I am constantly wearing these tops is because it is cold, yes.  The fit is so comfy though, I never thought I’d enjoy wearing a turtle neck – I am funny about things around my neck you see, & would not normally choose it.  But in the winter, it’s ideal for giving a bit more coverage & keeping the draughts at bay.  I love the way the red fabric feels against my skin too.  I think it is 4 way stretch and silky so I could have used it for leggings, but as a long sleeved top, it feels luxurious.   Whilst I like the half zip, I prefer the no zip variety, just because it is less fussy to wear around my neck. If I hadn’t been so busy with Christmas gift sewing, I would have made more, and I have a few fabrics “waiting” by my sewing machines for that opportune moment.

surf to summit top

Comparing three Bronte tops

I was a bit late to join the Bronte top brigade, but am I glad that I did?

The Bronte top by Jennifer Lauren, as you may be aware,is designed for knits, and its most defining characteristic is the cutest envelope neck – well that’s what I call it, reminiscent of baby vests. This neckline is so flattering!  But it is also a joy to sew (but more of that later).   The top is designed to enhance your natural assets, & is shaped to accentuate your waist, rather than a straight down tshirt.  Narrowish sleeves – I made the long sleeved version as this is a winter top for me, it was destined to provide some good solids for wearing throughout the season, and allow me to keep my print skirts in rotation.

Bronte topBronte topBronte top

I have made this three times, out of three different jerseys and what I found intriguing is how they all behaved differently.  Well of course that is not rocket science, but when I was choosing my fabrics online, I did not think about performance, I just assumed they would all fit the bill.   [Hint, they did not!!!]   I chose them all from Minerva, having made things previously out of Minerva jersey, which can be incredibly reasonably priced, the scrooge in me hunted out some more interesting looking jersey bargains.

I used this blue viscose jersey, a red jersey, and an ecru jersey with an interesting texture.

Bronte top

My first Bronte top was made using the blue & was a huge success.  The neckline is such a clever feature – not only looking darn cute but also if you are a tshirt newb, it’s a great way to get the neckband on without the hassle of “how much stretch” as the neck band is attached as one of the first steps – to the front & back separately.  My only frustration in sewing it, was in using my Coverstitch machine to top stitch the seam allowance down – my machine (OK, I shouldn’t blame my machine, but the person steering it!) did not want to keep straight & neat, so I have to say I avoided this step in my next versions, no topstitching at all, just a hearty press with the iron.

Bronte top

 

If it wasn’t for my Coverstitch issues, my blue Bronte top would have been a very quick make.  The sleeves are inserted flat, then sewn closed with the side seams.  I forgave my Coverstitch machine enough to allow it to hem the sleeves and top itself, and it did that without fuss (thank goodness).    Apart from hems, I sewed all of it with my overlocker.

The neckline is secured using invisible stitches or buttons.  Any opportunity to add a pop of button would not be avoided by me.  Red in the case of the blue top, seeking suitable candidates from my button jar.

Bronte top

So feeling plumped up on how well the Bronte goes together, and how well it fits (nice length too, both sleeves and body will certainly keep me sung this winter), I cut out two more, the red and the ecru.  If they were closer in colour, I would have sewn them in parallel, such was the confidence I had in blasting through their construction quickly.  But overlocker threads were from two extreme colour groups, I had to sew in series.  The red was the next one to be made, and without the Coverstitch fuss proved that this really is a quick make – an hour and a half tops.    The fabric had a dense quality to it – I thought it would be nice & cosy as I was making it.

Bronte top

I then made the ecru version, and was really loving the fabric.  I used the wrong side as the right side, so that it’s got more nubbly texture on show.  Attaching buttons was the last step, and something I hadn’t quite got to when I took these photos (it was pre hem too).

So what I found was that the red Bronte top is like a straight jacket!

Bronte top

The sleeves are like plastercasts !  hahaha!

Bronte top

You see I made no reference to its stretch factor.  This fabric is pretty stable, or certainly stable enough to not want to give in the right places for a body flattering top like the Bronte top.

Bronte top

How I chuckled when I realised my mistake.  I have only tried to wear it for an afternoon, and then couldn’t wait to change out of it.  Maybe it’ll be better with short sleeves.

Bronte top

The ecru version though has loads of room & is very comfy to wear.

Bronte top

If anything it has come out slightly larger than the blue one.   It just goes to show that this thing I have about not all fabric behaves the same,  is something that I continue to fall foul of!!  I’m not the only one am I?