Tag Archives: Colette patterns

Laurel feature

The Laurel pinafore

The Laurel dress by Colette Patterns has to be one of my staples.  I have made *quite a few* with the last one showcasing how well it works with a lining as my LBD.

Laurel dress

Upon my last expedition to Goldhawk Road with Jane, a blatant copy of sorts was afoot, when she happily showed me where she bought the teal  crepe she used to make her Francoise dress.  After hearing how it worked well with thermal tights (we are such goddesses) I felt that it could well be possible to wear a cute dress – above the knee- in winter- & still be warm enough.

Laurel dress

But somewhere along the way between deciding I would buy a length of this fabric (£12.99 per metre) & asking for a proper amount, I sort of, er, didn’t ask for enough.  In my head I thought a metre would be plenty, as this fabric was pretty wide.  Yes,  I can get a shift dress out of a metre of fabric, but not the sleeves.  Doh!

Laurel dress

Anyway, I discovered this when venturing forth to cut out my Laurel.  Sleeves, even short sleeves, were out of the equation.  Some mad brain computing later churned out the alternative Laurel – the pinafore (or jumper?) in teal with purple lining.

Laurel

Now when I made my LBD I sewed this in an evening.  Exactly, or almost exactly the same.  Not so this time.  I attempted to add pockets – which I lined – but were nothing beyond the pockets provided by the pattern.  Apart from that, I did nothing different.  I used the same tutorials as they are pretty darn excellent, for lining a sleeveless dress by machine.   Although, the final time I inserted the zip (yes there is a story here) I attached it by hand.

Laurel

So what’s the story?  Firstly the crepe is more of a challenging fabric to sew if a crisp finish is desired.  I am not 100% pleased with the pockets – they look decidedly amateur & I didn’t achieve brilliantly square edges.  But that is the fabric I am sure.  It’s reasonably thick & bouncy.  Doesn’t hold a firm fold.

Laurel dress

The zip though?  I usually tend to opt for lapped zippers, & was anticipating this not being straight forward so I remembered to interface the zipper  seam edges (ie centre back) before attaching the zip.  Despite this look how it has a tendency to bulge through sewing.  I even basted the zip with perpendicular pins to counter this fabric jokery.

But this is not the reason why I had to unpick the zip more than once (I think I took two attempts to get it this far).  Sadly I was all ready to try the dress on to hem it, when I discovered that one of the shoulders had twisted.  Aaaargh!

SO I had to unpick & start again.  On a positive note the zip went in a lot better.

Laurel

I also forget that some of Colette Patterns dresses are a bit short – this is no exception.  But hey ho.  I should maybe add a note to my pattern piece for future memory lapses.

Laurel dress

I’ve only been wearing it with jersey long sleeves, but really do need to see whether it works with a button-up shirt.  I will have to report back to you if it’s a goer.  Anyone else a fan of the sleeveless dress= pinafore/jumper?  Could an aging badger pull it off, or would the collar be just a little bit too Lolita?

Anise jacket

Anise jacket

Apologies in advance for repeating this post- but through all my laptop debacle & having to use the WordPress app on the iPad I have inadvertently deleted some of my recent posts.  I am trying to put it right, but I’m sorry I lost all of the lovely comments you all left me.  I need to keep a record of this jacket on my blog though, so here it is again.  Hopefully word for word.  If you missed it the first time around, hopefully you’ll enjoy it.

So here it is, the most proud moment of my sewing history I think I can say. I am reporting back on my Anise jacket and I am stoked. It’s lined, it has welt pockets and bound buttonholes. It has the cutest Peter Pan collar that sits with such a lovely roll over the neckline. It fits me like a glove, with enough room for a cardigan or sweater. I feel a little je ne sais quoi in it, when I wear my beret and leather gloves. It’s cute, cosy, but most of all, I feel I have done a really good job. You might be like me with the things you make – the first one to point out the flaws when someone offers you a compliment? Well, that is my default position too. However for this jacket there is only one slight 80 degree corner at the inner lining I would hastily show you if you said, “nice jacket”. And for me that is a record. I see just one flaw, & if you see any others, please keep them to yourself & maintain my illusion!!

Anise jacket 1

 

I have made a couple of more complex semi-tailored items before, with my Vintage Vogue jacket, my Spearmint coat and more recently my Andy coat, so anticipated a lot of groundwork & preparation and quite a lot of nerve-wracking techniques in making this jacket. You have to be patient with a make like this. I would suggest it will not be completed in a day unless you are pretty pro or don’t sleep.

Anise jacket 2

 

I chose this grey flannel fabric for the outer and polka dot satin for the lining. I also used calico (muslin) for underlining. It took me about four sittings to make this (quite long stints- between 4 and six hours). It was my post Christmas – pre New year make. Something to lavish attention on having sewn like a whirling dervish as I made Christmas presents for friends and family in every spare moment.

The Anise jacket pattern by Colette patterns, has a supplementary instruction booklet you can buy if you need more help, but I have to say that the instructions were extremely clear in the pattern alone. Maybe though I have a few coat makes under my belt and so have those experiences to build on.

It’s funny that there is a whole lot of work that you have to do for a jacket like this before you start constructing the jacket itself, eg attaching the underlining, thread tracing the pattern markings.

If you opt for bound buttonholes you need to make them as one of the first steps, which feels odd since buttonholes and buttons are usually one of the finishing touches for a shirt or skirt. You can make this jacket with regular buttonholes, but I was always going to make bound buttonholes, and can never make bound buttonholes any other way than without followingKaren’s e-book. It is my bound buttonhole bible! And I think they look pretty smart this time.

Anise jacket 3

 

So having completed the buttons, you then get on to engineering the collar. It’s cut with two pieces- an upper collar and the undercollar. The undercollar is cut on the bias. There is also an extra piece of interfacing, with its own special pattern piece that looks like a stretched sliver of a crescent moon. This is for reinforcing the collar roll, and I am convinced it’s what adds to the collar behaving itself beautifully, with enough loft before, yes, rolling as it folds. When I mentioned this to my Mum, conversation went along these lines,

Anise jacket 4

 

ME:”There’s even an extra piece of interfacing like a crescent along the collar at the neckline”

MUM (matter of fact) :”Yes, I know”

ME: (In my head) “How come you know all this stuff – there is nothing you don’t seem to already know! I wish I could know as much about sewing as you do!” You see I can remember my Mum going to evening classes in the 70s, when classes like “tailoring” were run up & down the country at local technical colleges, even in Somerset! Sigh. OK back to the story, the Anise story.

Anise jacket5

 

I can’t remember if I made the welt pockets before or after the collar. But what a joy they were to make too, but you feel more practised having four bound buttonholes under your belt – welt pockets follow similar principles, with that nerve inducing & very final slashing through the centre of the rectangle you’ve just sewn in the actual front of your jacket, for the pocket linings & welts to get manipulated within.

Anise jacket 6

I’m afraid I have no drama to recount about putting the jacket pieces together to make a 3D garment.  The sleeves are cut in two pieces & set in with some gathering stitches at the sleeve head.  This fabric by the way sucks up gathers like a sponge, absorbing the tucks into its wonderful dense self.  And it is like a blanket.  I love it!  The jacket lining has special pieces for the front & back, but uses the same sleeve pieces (but with a shorter hem).  The centre back is designed for a massive expansion pleat.

Anise jacket 7

Attaching the lining to the jacket- this time I made the decision not to bag the lining.  That was quite a biggie for me as it is how I have done it before, & you know me, I try to machine as much as I can.  This time, however, I followed the instructions in the pattern – attaching the sleeves to the lining at their hems, then handsewing the lining sleevehead into the lining body.   The main hem is handsewn – first the jacket’s hem itself, then the lining’s hem is handstitched but hidden under the lining’s hem fold.

Anise jacket

My most fiddly bit is the front facing corners where the lining at hem & facing meet to form a right angle.  One side is better than the other, hence one side being 80 degrees & a bit squirched.

So, I promised to share the trials & tribulations with making this jacket, & I have to say they fall mainly into the whoop whoop department.  And working with this flannel was a joy – it was easy to press underneath a silk organza cloth, with steam.  I had no problems with it at all.  And it is very forgiving, handstitching just disappears within its dense fibres.

Sewing this jacket has helped me decide that I need more makes like this in my projects, so that some at least of my future handmade wardrobe is invested with risk & learning (as set out here).  I don’t need to always make fast clothes!

ANise jacket 9

A big thank you to my Dad who took the on location photos.  Aren’t they so much better than my usual! And I’m wearing my new Miette skirt..

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.

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Madrid tote for the sewist

Ok so the verdict on my laptop is not good. After a few hours of diagnosis over the kitchen table it had been referred to a specialist, with a corrupted hard disk partition. I am devastated, naturally, but know it will be in good hands. I am crossing my fingers, toes and eyes for a speedy recovery.
But in the meantime I am not able to blog about any of my makes that need a photo of me wearing them, (from my camera) nor the makes I’ve already photographed, but that’s not the end of the world. I have a few ideas about how to get around that and spread some sewing delights.
Like today’s. I made the Madrid tote from Colette Patterns’ online magazine, issue 1 last weekend.

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I had some proper oilcloth ( not the cheap PVC that I was taken in by last time ) bought from a local shop – it’s Vintage Happy by Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet and it is covered with, yes, vintage snippets from dressmaking catalogues. It’s a fascinating read! Garment descriptions, gorgeous line drawings of day dresses, the shape of a paper pattern as well as the lady drawn in her foundation garment glory. I have lots left too, so am thinking about making a set, maybe make up bag, travel set….
Anyway, onto the tote. Supplies. I bought some ready made handles which are made by Prym and seem to be available from a lot of online stockists. And if they sell bag handles the likelihood is that they will also sell the magnetic clasp too. And that’s all the hardware that I bought in. I bought from Jaycotts, but Minerva also sells all sorts of bagmaking stuff too. My lining was a stash find- Some left over gingham that was so off grain I am too embarrassed to show much of the off non pattern matched seams.

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The Madrid is one of the patterns included with Seamwork if you pay the subscription, but all of the articles, as you probably already know, are freely available online, and in issue 1 there are articles to help you get your head around sewing bags- with extensive tips around bag hardware and sewing leather ( or similar ) for example. I found it really helpful as I have never sewn leather nor have I ever used hardware in bag making and it’s quite daunting, isn’t it? So with a reputation for demystifying techniques that could be perceived as complex, I knew I was in safe hands and not risking too much, by following Colette Patterns’ Madrid bag pattern and attempting a few firsts:
– using a magnetic clasp
– successfully sewing oilcloth
– using ready made bag handles

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And there, look, magnetic clasp and bag handles

So as you’d expect the pattern consists of different sized rectangles, and you can use contrasting fabric for the top part and bottom. As I had such fab oilcloth I didn’t want to break up the design so went for the even easier approach and used the lining pattern to cut my outer bag pieces too. I also cut two interior pockets, knowing that a big tote is a cave of abandon when keys / phone / a pen/ purse are required to be found.

I cut the strap that comes over the top so that one of the fancy ladies in her day dress would be centred.

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Isn’t she lovely ?

The patterns with Seamwork are also all put together with the premise that they are quick makes and relatively easy sews. I made mine using a couple of hours on a Sunday. It is straightforward. I was prepared to deploy countermeasures for sewing my oilcloth, should my foot stick, but surprisingly I had no problem on that front.

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I was careful using pins, but did use pins ( minimally) along the stitching line.
The bag handles are sewn on by hand and this was easily the longest most time consuming step. The only word of caution I would offer on using the bag handles like this, is about where you attach them. They have a certain amount of bulk and you need to allow enough room for the top bag seam allowance as well as a little wriggle room to get your sewing machine foot through for top stitching. If you wanted a double line of topstitching just plan ahead with where you put your handles.

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I did use my zip foot too, but with the layers of oilcloth and lining plus seam allowances, it did not like it that much.
So the bag ? A delight. I’ve used it for work on a non gym kit day and it fits all the usual crap without busting at the seams.

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I got a few positive remarks ( everyone is used to seeing me with a beaten up old Berghaus rucksack!) and it also started a conversation about sewing, which has to be an excellent thing?

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Here it is stuffed to the gunnels. So now I know my ay around Madrid, maybe there’ll be another ….. Has anyone else enjoyed Madrid-making or even exploring Valencia? (the extra clutch bag pattern in issue 1)

….and breathe…..

Hello lovelies!  I need to wish you Happy Christmas before it’s too late!

I hope you all have a most wonderful time doing what makes you happy.  I am hosting this year and we are going to use our outdoor pizza oven to cook some of the roast!  Even if it’s standing under a golf umbrella with wellies on…or wrapped up with scarves & gloves.  Of course we won’t eat outside, that would be foolish.

I have to confess that I took too much on this year & upon reflection all those hand made ideas that in themselves seemed relatively simple & straightforward, all add up.  It turns out that I have made something for everyone I give to this year.  And for some (ie my men boys) they got more than just the one handmade.  I have felt like I have been on a mission & gift-sewing bossed everything else (apart from work & the odd run).   I have some makes still to blog about but couldn’t get the time in before now, so will have a couple to show you after Christmas.  I should either have started earlier, or considered taking some time off before hand.  But, without giving anything away, the final two gifts were completed today …& now the house is all prepared for hosting & an evening of cooking/baking awaits me.  I have some Christmas Crooners to keep me company.  Marvellous!

In terms of sewing, I am mega excited to be sewing for me again.  Want to see what I’m going to be concentrating on this holiday?

image 1

This is my December and January project for the Minerva Blogging Network.   I am making a *big project*.  Yes, at last I am making a jacket.  The fabric I chose is this blankety grey flannel, it’s quite thick & felty, a true charcoal grey, with a faint mottled tweedy appearance.   This jacket is going to be an everyday jacket, one for going to work, or wearing with jeans at the weekend or on an evening.   But because I want there to be some secret fun & jollity to something otherwise sensible on the outside, I’ve chosen a polka dot lining, a satin. This is rather a statement – these polka dots are a couple of inches in diameter!

Also in my bundle of materials is calico for the underlining, some interfacing and also shoulder pads.

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Looking for buttons I thought these would look good with the grey- my chosen jacket is double breasted & so the buttons are definitely a feature. Have you worked out what I am making yet? I have plumped for the Anise Jacket by Colette Patterns.

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I have had this for a year or so now & it’s about time it got made! I shall be making the full length sleeved version, and am looking forward to rocking the welt pockets and I feel I should really make bound button holes as well. I feel as if I have a mountain ahead of me.  It’ll be worth it though, and do you know, I am really looking forward to it.   It fits with my sewing ethos for 2015….but you’ll have to wait to hear about that another time.

Have a most wonderful Christmas everyone, thanks for all of your support this year, it’s been a blast!

Negroni

Negroni in green but not for the W.I.

Well this is a funny one.  Not really funny ha ha just funny due to what I have found out for writing up this make, my latest boy shirt, the Colette Patterns Negroni again.  I’d made this & have now given this as a birthday present last month to my youngest.   It came in a spell of quite a lot of gift making & was preceded by a trip to my local fabric store during which time I bought a few lengths of fabric (for kimonos, this shirt, a gift for my Mum, yet to blog about, more shirt fabric for a future gift & if memory serves me well, absolutely diddly squat for me!  That must be a first).  Choosing shirt fabric for my sons is something I like doing face to fabric so that I can get a feel for the fabric behaviour & true colour. I will buy online too, don’t get me wrong, but because I find shirt gift giving so satisfying, the buying of the fabric comes as one of the delight-giving steps.  (Well, is that a surprise, as confessed by a fabric-aholic?)

The Makower fabrics that are part of the W.I. Centenary Competition. 

So this fabric.  This is the funny part of my post.  When I bought it the lady in the shop told me that it is a Makower fabric, designed by the Women’s Institute as part of a competition celebrating the W.I.’s centenary – making a quilt/ wall hanging or a wearable item.  She had thought that the closing date was August perhaps, but when I looked this up, prior to setting off on this blog post, I found out that the closing date is 31st October.  So this is a live project then.  Except I am not a member of the W.I. & it’s all being done by snail mail, so discount this as a competition entry – it never was & it never will be!  But it was none the less funny to find this out.   Because I used two of the above fabrics.  The green starry 7486G and the grey 7092T.  It’s quilters’ cotton, but very soft & clearly at the price, lovely quality.  Out of all of the fabrics in the shop, it was the “best choice” for this particular son when I was considering his colouring & scale & type of the print.  I bought enough for a short sleeve version, and upon discussing with him, he requested long sleeves.  Doh!  I rushed back to the shop only to find it had all gone!  So short sleeves it had to be.

Negroni

OK onto the shirt now – that was rather a long story about the fabric, unusually for me.

Negroni

The shirt.  I love sewing shirts for my boys.  Now that I know how well they are received and now that I have got their “custom” patterns that fit to their actual body sizes & arms lengths.  Maybe it’ll become a tradition  that they expect – birthdays and Christmases- a mum-made shirt.  This is a birthday gift, & in September I could just get away with it being short sleeves, particularly with the warm weather we’ve had.

Negroni

After comparing two shirts & how their construction differed I freestyled this time – following the construction order from the Negroni shirt pattern,  but not necessarily the same techniques.  My biggest conscious diversion was opting to go for speed, using faux flat fell  seams – French seams top stitched down- side seams & all sleeve seams.  Despite my love of the finish with real flat fell seams, it just felt easier.

Negroni

Each time I have made Negroni with flat fell seams, I’d always put one of the sleeves in the wrong way, & if you’ve followed this method for inserting Negroni sleeves, you will maybe remember that it’s quite a tricky bit-by-bit sewing operation & to have to do it three times instead of two, clearly preyed on my mind!

Negroni

I used the contrast grey as the under collar & inside yoke, & had I been making a long sleeved version, it would have featured inside the cuffs as well.

Negroni

What’s left to say?  Oh yes!  He likes it!  He doesn’t mind that it’s short sleeves afterall & has been given some styling advice about how to make it work with long sleeve t-shirts in the winter from his bro.  He saved its first wearing for a birthday curry out with his friends.  The first time I saw him actually modelling it was after it had been through the wash.  He doesn’t iron.  I was transfixed on the collar/ facing & trying to get it to behave & look just a little less mangled …..it’s harder to get away with a non-ironed shirt with this style of collar…!

Laurel top feature

Oh Lovely Liberty Lawn Laurel top

It was my shopping / inspiration trip with Jane that got me thinking about making a sleeveless Colette Patterns Laurel top out of one of my new Liberty Tana lawn pieces, bought with the lovely lady herself. I have been thinking of using a metre of Liberty lawn to make up a sleeveless button up blouse ( don’t worry, there will be one of those too), but when discussing patterns, like you do with other sewsters, a renewed vision for a Laurel visited me.

Laurel top
I wear my stripey 3/4 sleeved Laurel aplenty.  One of the reasons it works so well is that it is a classic colour and stripe for me, and I always feel it represents my style whenever I wear it.  Sewing the Laurel top is another fabulous experience- no closures, no facings and bias bound openings.  I’ve perfected my pattern so that darts are placed right for me, so to cut and sew is a simple exercise in all that is joyful about sewing.

Laurel top

Choosing  a Liberty print to make this I knew would create another classic piece for my wardrobe, and an occasion where the pattern needs to be clear, simple and classic to let the fabric do the talking.

Laurel top

I’ve made a sleeveless Laurel dress ( my elephants) and had used bias for the armholes and it worked successfully I felt, and therefore set to on an impulse one afternoon, slicing through my Liberty.  It came together as quickly as I had anticipated.  What’s more to say?

Laurel top

This little top is exactly what I had planned- the perfect classic tank top that can be worn tucked in or loosely with trousers or shorts.  I cannot wait to wear it with rolled up trousers, paddling in the sea.  Equally it has fared well being paired with a cardigan, tucked into my flora skirt, at work.  Oh and the other treasure about this ? You only need a metre of fabric.  Certainly worth an investment I’d say!

Mens Flowery Shirts

Take Two Shirts

I’ve been catching up with my 2013 Christmas makes (*shock*)!  Yes, I’m rubbish & yes, after all this time I have got my act together & made up the shirts that I had promised my sons for Christmas.  I’d chosen the fabric & given them a bundle for Christmas – & then took their measurements to try this time to get a shirt that was the right size.  Previous versions have been guess work & whilst the sewing has been sound, the sizing hasn’t!  Whilst one son was drowned, the other was never able to wear his sleeves unrolled since I discovered when measuring him that his arms needed an extra 3″!  It’s obvious that sewing for men is going to have the same issues with not fitting the standard sizing as women do, but shame it took me a few fails to find out!

So, only 4 months later, I spent a couple of weekends in a row making men’s shirts.  Floral men’s shirts.*I have not presented them yet to know if they are a success* !!

Mens Floral Shirts

I used the Colette Patterns Negroni shirt for my first make (since I had already cut it to the desired size on previous use- & the measurements appeared to be right for this particular son) & Simplicity 7030 for the following shirt (the larger one – which also seemed to be right sizing for the other son, but with an added 3″ to the sleeves).

And so I sewed.  I’ve said before how I actually love making shirts – for various reasons – but the sense of satisfaction is immense:

-Fabrics for shirt making are usually well behaved, crisp enough to press nicely, delivering nice results;

-The technicalities for making shirts are involved – but not that tricky.

-Precision.  Getting the technicalities to work & look good requires precise sewing- a chance to show yourself what you can do – & when the fabric does what you tell it to, there is only you & the sewing machine to hit it right.

-One of the first steps is siting the chest pocket(s) & there is nothing so motivating as eyeballing your neat, pressed & edge stitched pocket…

It was good making the Negroni first, as we all know how Colette Patterns’ instructions & methods are considered to be the gold standard of sewing.   With the first shirt, then, I deployed various skills & methods that I could compare/ contrast & opt to deploy for the second shirt.  I thought rather than just show off the pictures of the two shirts, which could be quite boring to you, I would show the two side by side & describe what I did the same & what differently.  You see, with all that Archer love out there at the moment, maybe you’re thinking of sewing a man’s shirt next?

In no particular order….

The pockets.

Shirt pockets

 

OK, the pockets as I just said are one of the first steps, & it appears that I am starting at the beginning, but don’t expect the logic to continue …

So, Negroni has pocket options (I think?) – but I went for the chevron shape with pocket flap x2.  The Simplicity pattern has one simple rectangular pocket, no button.  It doesn’t take a genius to spot that the Simplicity pocket is an easier make!  Negroni requires neat pressing to ensure the shape is symmetrical.  There’s more pivoting (pocket & flap) & of course the flaps need to be sited neatly too – so more potential to go wrong, but it won’t!  And a bit of early buttonhole action needed.  Nothing to stop you making a rectangular pocket for Negroni though.  And if you are worried – use a busy fabric like me ;-)

Collars & facings.

Shirt collars and facings

The styling is different for both of these shirts, so two completely different approaches.  Negroni has a flat “convertible collar” which is like a Hawaiian shirt – no collar stand – with a separate front facing (this would allow you to easily make a contrast collar if you wanted).  It’s a simple collar to sew, but clearly a style choice – some men might not like this casual look.  I hope my son does !  The Simplicity pattern uses the traditional collar stand so in theory you could wear a tie with it.  More pieces, but no separate front facing & the front includes a self facing that gives a smart finish to the inside of the centre front- all sewn up – no flappy facing.  The collar itself has been drafted so that there is no heaving with easing – I’ve made shirts recently for me that almost appeared as if the collar stand was not made for the neck opening it was supposed to be sewn to.  Not so with this – it is sewn on without the need for pre-stitching clipping.  Phew.  For both collar points I used this method for a nice crisp finish.  Love it.  I also tend to sew the collar stand facing on as the last step so that I can get a good alignment between the curved collar stand front & the shirt’s centre fronts.  (Ie make collar up, clip, turn, press, edge stitch where wanted.  Sew interfaced collar stand to shirt neck edge.  Attach collar to interfaced collar stand.  Then sew collar stand facing to interfaced collar stand with collar sandwiched in between.)

Yokes and machine finishing.

Shirt yokes

Shirts have lined yokes.  Luckily I had made the Negroni first which has such an awesome method that doesn’t involve any hand sewing – I think it’s the “burrito” method.  Anyway, I deployed it for the Simplicity shirt, even though instructions were to hand sew.  In fact I did not hand sew anything – I stitched in the ditch at every opportunity for both shirts, when in the old days I would have hand sewn collar stand facings & yokes, even cuff facings.

Cuffs & plakets.

Cuffs plackets and laps

Negroni uses a placket for finishing the cuff opening, & Simplicity a continuous lap.  What I love about the Negroni pattern is that even the order for the folding & pressing is numbered to facilitate a neat crisp “arrow head” shape.  There is more potential to go wrong with a placket, but it’s worth a shot as it does produce a nice result.  Not that it is easy to see in such busy fabric!  The continuous lap is the easier option, but neat never the less.  The cuffs are also more intricate with the Colette patterns shirt – each cuff is in two pieces & has curved edges.  This makes it easier to use a contrast cuff facing if you wanted, as well as being a generally nice detail.  The Simplicity shirt has mammoth cuff pieces in comparison- easier to sew!

Flat felled seams or not flat felled seams?

Another reason to be glad for making the Negroni first was the practice in flat felling.  This took me ages as I haven’t done it that many times before & of course, I made mistakes in how I placed my sleeves-to-shirt   – right sides/ wrong sides together?  I can’t remember where I went wrong, but it involved unpicking.  Whilst the sleeves are put in flat, the flat felled sleeve head seam is a fiddle, & the second stage of the seam (ie the folded over finish) is sewn bit by bit to accommodate the curve.  There is most opportunity for a less polished finish here – curves – trying to get uniform seam folding-under – with uniform edge stitching.  So I am glad that it is the most inaccessible & least visible seam when worn!  The side & sleeve seams are sewn in one operation.  In comparison to the sleeve head, it was a breeze.  And it is possible to get all the way into the inner most depths of each sleeve & machine in one fell swoop, even if your logic tells you otherwise.

Flat felled seams

I had contemplated flat felling the Simplicity shirt, but instead did mock flat felled seams – French seams that are then pressed & edge stitched down.  Much simpler (especially if, like me, you use your overlocker to make the first seam so that it is a uniform width with no loose ends.)  There seems to be a balance for me with this mock approach though.  The balance for edge stitching distance & amount of “seam” sewn.  What do I mean?  Well, I like to edge stitch up close to the edge – say 0.5mm -1mm from the edge, but here I am a good 2mm from the edge.  But had I sewn 1mm from the edge, there is much more potential for puckering on the right side of the shirt seam.  And I think the problem lies in the “depth” of my French seam – had I sewn them narrower I would have been able to get the finish that to me looked even more of a mock flat fell.  But I am not losing sleep over it.  It’s still a neat finish.

I think that’s it.  A comparison of two shirts.  Are you tempted to make shirts for the man/ men in your life?

7030 Simplicity

Use Simplicity 7030 & you could even make waistcoat (vest), bow tie & braces (suspenders)!!!  Now that would be dapper!

 

Not such a plain black skirt: Colette Meringue skirt with extras

I’ve not had a plain black skirt for years & have managed along quite happily without feeling the need.  But then you’ll see soon that I’ve made another shirt which got me thinking differently.   And when you see the shirt (later this week, I promise) you’ll understand.

meringue skirt

A little black skirt can be soooo versatile, can’t it?  Easy to pair up with a blouse or sweater of most colours (& I know that Susannah & Trinny would tell you otherwise & not to wear colour with black, but I happen to like wearing all sorts of colours with black myself…blues, reds, cream – is that a colour?) So, an urge was born.

meringue

The idea of a black skirt grew, & I knew that I had a suitable piece of fabric residing in my stash bought from the Birmingham Rag Market a while ago.  This fabric was originally bought for some Clovers as it has some stretch in it, but it has the most gorgeous drape, even if I have no idea what its composition is.  The important thing is that it feels nice & not too polyester – ridden.

meringueWould you like to know what the grey dots are on the wall to my right?  Well….they are the result of us being *really bad* at darts!

My little black skirt though was not going to be *just a pencil skirt*.  If I was to make a plain black skirt, the design of the skirt had to give back a bit of detail.  It was either going to be a Charlotte (but not enough fabric for the ruffle) or the delightful Meringue skirt in the Colette Patterns Handbook.  I have lived in my pinstriped meringue & love it.

meringue skirt

I decided that I should make it again, in plain black, with polka dot lining & a waistband again (I like waistbands, although the Meringue pattern is drafted with a faced waistline).  I learnt a lot about how to line my first Meringue skirt  through trial & error,lining the full skirt right down to the scalloped hem (read about it here) & acknowledged that this is not the best way to line the Meringue skirt.     This time I would keep the lining free from the hem & use the pattern facing.

meringue skirt

OK, the plan was hatched.  Just one more detail occurred to me: velvet ric rac.  Oh yes!  Another way to bring some pizazz into a plain black skirt.  I would add velvet ric rac to the waist seam as if it was piping: an echo of the scallops below but in smaller form.

meringue skirtCheck out the almost polka dot button! Scoop!

So it all went without a hitch.  I followed Lladybird’s invisible zipper method which has an added safety measure of marking stitching end points both sides of your zip to get balance (genius).  Now that worked even better for me, & it will be a sure new technique added to my sewing armory now.  Thank you Lauren :-)

meringue skirt

How it’s possible to make a plain black skirt, not plain.

meringue (2)Happiness is ….turquoise shoes.  I’m telling you, it was confirmation that the Spring is coming getting these babies on!

A peacock Ginger skirt

At last, the light is better & I can take better pictures.  It’s almost as if weather conspired against Me Made May to scupper all thoughts of summer dresses & sunny photo opps.  Oh well.  Anyway, this is just a quick one – both blog post, & make!

I’d mentioned in my last post that I had a bit of a sewing fever (when I actually managed to find time to sew that is), but my sewing fever was fuelled by a need to fill some wardrobe gaps left by my summer clothes not fitting anymore.  Enter Colette Patterns Ginger skirt.  Now anyone who’s sewn this skirt knows it’s a quick make, especially unlined.

With a high sewing temperature I struck, easing my fevered brow by thoughts of a new skirt that would actually fit me & would mean no gaping waistbands as I sit down, no chance of someone taller than me (& let’s face it, there are plenty of people taller than me – the majority of adults & teens over the age of 14 I’d suggest) being able to see my knickers just by looking down the front of my skirt as I stood there.

I’d bought some deeelish peacock feathered cotton in Birmingham at the Fancy Silk store last year.  I’d only bought a metre and a half, & hadn’t any designs on it except having designs on it to be taken home with me.  I love peacock colours, just love them.  This fabric came in different backgrounds & I opted for the turquoise one….

Colette Ginger skirtSo, as I said, I was in a sewing fever & quickly cut out the Colette Ginger pieces, identifying which would be the correct size for me now.  It’s been a while since I’ve sewn this skirt & I’d forgotten that it is not *just* an A line skirt.  This skirt has no darts but is shaped with a slight curve from hip to waist.  Its hem is also shaped so that it has the wisp of a bell effect.  Now I could have cut it so that the front was all one piece, but then, as I said, the centre front seam curves slightly over your belly area, thus making it not a straight line to hug the folded fabric.  I cut it in two pieces & made the seam.

Colette Ginger skirtSorry for the creases, it has been sat around in when these pics were taken.  Anyway,  not sure if you can see there, I undertook absolutely no pattern matching.  I thought about how the rows of feathers lined up when I cut, but that was it.  I retro thought how to compensate for a clumsy and dodgy centre front seam, right obviously through all those glorious feathers.  Edge stitching!  Ta na!  It made it a little more casual, but deliberately so.  It meant that I also needed to edge stitch the waistband once that was all attached & sewn down, to match.

Colette Ginger skirt

I also failed again to find an invisible zip in my stash, therefore sewed a lapped zipper.  Now, I didn’t think this through properly, but did manage to recover my mistake.  Lapped zippers require extra length in the back waistband to pop behind the lapped edge.  Somehow I eeked out enough with what I’d cut, sewing thin seams & taking a bit extra in at the waist.  It’s fine.  Not worth a pic.

Colette Ginger skirtAh, but this was!  The clematis attacked!  So jealous was it of my peacock’s vibrant colours taking the attention away from its glory …

Colette Ginger skirt

So this is the skirt at the end of the day.  I am so happy not to be wearing a grey cardigan!  It’s been great to get my legs out too.  It was work appropriate- score!  And I fashioned my necklace in its honour…

Locket with peacock featherThis is a silver / glass locket.  You can fill it with what you want & over the years it’s had glitter inside, strands of vivid silk threads (sounds more effective than it actually was) & for the last 10 years or so, a pressed daisy.  To bring it more into keeping with my current needs I recovered a single peacock feather earring (the other had long been lost on a night out, in days when my hair was longer & such danglies were more in keeping with my rats tails of a hairstyle).  Quickly trimming off the excess I’d refashioned my locket into a glowing eye of colour.  I think it’ll get lots more wear now! As will this skirt.  Oh, it feels good to be in turquoise again, it means *those* shoes come out to play! :-)