Friday, 24 February 2017

Self Drafted Skirt- RTW Copycat

I saw the skirt  below when I was in Amsterdam recently and NEARLY bought it in the sale.   Its by Essentiel Antwerp, one of my favourite brands.  But you know how when you make your own clothes, you get picky about how things fit?!  Well this one was just a bit tight around the hips on me.  I loved the cut, and ADORE the fabric but I think it was a silk, quite delicate and with no stretch (not great for my lifestyle or when its a bit tight).  So I reluctantly left it on the shelf but vowed to make myself one if I could crack it!

And here is the wonderful Liberty Twill fabric that  I bought with a Christmas Gift Voucher to make it happen. 

If I can try to describe the cut- its A-line with a central pleat, sewn down at the top & pleat folded to the side.  It looks slightly Japanese to me.

So, where to start?  I took my skirt block and cut some adjustments:
- I added 4.5cm on each side at the front centre fold
- I tapered out and lengthened to get the A shape
- I added in an additional 4.5cm on each side at the front waist seams

I didn't do a pattern I just free cut it marking with pen on the back side of the fabric.  Once I had it right i transferred it to pattern paper later ;) ignore pattern markings, I used another pattern paper. But you can see the shape and adjustment from my block:

I firstly got the pleat right.  I sewed it down to just above the crotch so that the pleat would move with my legs!  I added darts front & back, then literally just sewed the rest together!!  i was very happy with how my invisible zipper went in:

I wanted to make an effort to finish it really neatly so I lined it nicely and used a lovely contrast thick bias tape for finishing the waist.

And I used a bias tape on the hem as I wanted to keep as much length as possible and didn't want to bulk the hem around the pleat:
And, well thats it, finished!

 I m really happy how the pleat turned out...
 Apologies for the creases, this is it after a full day at work.

I switched up the buttons on a plain white corduroy shirt to go with it - cute aren't they?  

Thanks for reading!
Messy Essy Makes

Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Bowline & Linden Sweatshirt Projects

I ve been home with a slipped disc in my back for the last month and really shouldn't be sewing - sitting for long periods in the evening isn't good. So wanting only to wear cosy clothes and wanting quick projects that would provide a distraction for half an hour each evening, I decided to crack on with some sweatshirts.

First up the Linden.  I was tempted not to buy this pattern- I have a few raglan style patterns I could hack and frankly I find it expensive for what it is, but with so many Insta-sewers obsessed with it, in the end I thought I should give it a go- there must be some magic in it?!

So the good news- its super quick - I think I can make one in 1.5 to 2 hours- so sticking to my self imposed 30min sewing limit per day, I completed one in 4 days.  But I  have to say it.  Underwhelmed.  Its just a raglan and not a very well fitting one at that for me at least- I found the neckline way to wide (everything you wear under it shows) so I had to alter that.  I found you therefore needed to draft your own neck  facing too.  And for me,  I added more shape to the bodice.  I love the end product, but with hindsight could have saved a lot of money and hacked one from a raglan t-shirt pattern I have.  I have no issue in spending £10-£20 on a good indie pattern where I need good instructions and very well cut pattern pieces- the Closet Case Clare Coat/Ginger Jeans or Tilly Rosa Dress for example- but when a pattern is this simple, with limited variation, I struggle with it being retailed at £16 for the printed pattern.  Am I alone and do I sound very cheap saying this?!

But that Liberty fleece makes me smile every time I look at it.  Given its nearly £40 per metre, I bought half a metre (god I am starting to sound tight!!) and used it for front, back & cuffs- using a contrasting navy in between.   My second one was another Liberty fleece- this time off eBay and I had enough to do the whole thing- but I still chose a contrast as I liked the accent.

For my second one, I was aiming for a look a bit more like the Toaster sweater (after feeling like I spend to much on the Linden pattern I didn't want to buy another one when I thought I could get close to it from hacking the Linden ;) ).

I squared off the sides & bottom band (so bottom band is the same width as the bodice pieces) and same for the cuffs.  I made the cuff and bottom band much thinner and then I added a funnel neck - I used the altered Linden with higher neck, measured the neck line and cut the funnel neck -20% of that size.  Its just a rectangular piece double the height I wanted the neck to be and I added it as you would a neck band.  I really LOVE this version. It feels more cosy and more stylish at the same time.

So after these two, I gave the Bowline a go.  I bought this when it came out as I love the neck and obviously you need a pattern for this as I wouldn't know where to start (even with a pattern it is still a bit of a mystery how it works).  So good news, it actually is still a really quick sew!!  I thought it may be complicated - and well that neck takes some getting your head around, but once you get it, its also quick to make.

I discovered the most important thing with this is the fabric choice.  I trawled Instagram looking at other versions and found that some, in a lightweight jersey didn't hang in shape.  I loved  Rachel's version.    I would say you need something heavy enough and with not too much stretch so it will hold its shape (you also want something that will withstand a good hot iron for the press) but nothing too heavy as the steps and the bulk around the neck would get very difficult with say a sweatshirt.  I used a boiled wool I bought from Fabworks and actually it turned out to be a good choice.

Here is what the pieces looks like:
You sew a dart & fold at A & B respectively, then you fold the whole thing together into a 'burrito roll' and sew them together...

It look totally wrong.  Now you see why this would be tricky with a heavyweight fabric?!  

So it was all going swimmingly until I hit 2 related issues.  My first clue was that the sleeve didn't match up, I ended up with a huge amount of excess on one side...

And the neck didn't lie flat.

Cue unpicking.  I had misunderstood the instructions on how much overlap there should be on the neck joining the back piece.  Well I m still not sure exactly what the instructions want you to do, but I basically fitted the final piece together from bottom up- so sorted out the under arm meeting first, then basically judged the overlap of the pleat to what looked right on.  In the end I had to attach it at a really odd angle for it to look straight, cutting off a big triangle...  could be I stretched it so much working on it that the fabric had gotten out of shape.

But anyway, that sorted it, phew!!  I had one more adjustment.  I found it really hung down at the front (maybe made for someone with much larger assets than mine!) so i straightened that off before I added the bottom band.

And here it is finished.  You need a really good press to get the shoulder bit looking sharp.  The other top tip (not in the instructions) is don't overlock the steps associated with the neck fold ( that makes them too heavy) and do trim back the seam allowances at each stage- I found at first a lot of bulking in the pleat as I had excess seam allowance (and some overkeen overlocking) on the inside that was causing bulk, so I flipped it back inside out & trimmed it right back).

Nice isn't it?  This is a pattern worth buying and a nice skill stretch (you actually need to engage brain to work out the steps around the neck).  Its not rocket science- don't be put off, but you do need the instructions and the online sew along on the Papercut website was super helpful.

Ok I m now sorted for cosy clothes.  Off to make a skirt to match the Bowline next.
Messy Essy Makes