Marshmallow Coat

Hi team! I’m having a bit of a sewing hiatus at the moment, aside from finishing a few bits off. I really need to put my head down and get some solid work done on my research project, I need to hand it in next month! I’ve finished the data collection phase, and I’ll hopefully be done with my data analysis this weekend…then I just need to finish writing the damn thing. I’m really looking forward to mid October! But in the meantime I have a few new things to post to keep things ticking over here.

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This is what I’m affectionately calling my marshmallow coat, which I’m sure doesn’t need explaining! It’s the Papercut Patterns Sapporo Coat, a pattern which I had admired on Instagram (where there are some amazing versions!), but had never really felt the need to make. I was sure it would look too oversized and daft on me, and the fact that it has no front closures made me think it would have limited wear-ability in Wellington. Then I got the opportunity to try on the beautiful grey wool version made by Gabrielle, and I flat out fell in love with it! It is huge and oversized, but in a dramatic and elegant way, and I had bought the pattern and was cutting it out before I knew it.

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Look at those beautiful swooshing seams! I had a lot of fun sewing this coat up. It’s a big but pretty simple project, as far as coats go. The sewing is all simple, with it’s dropped sleeves and grown-on facings and pocket bags, but each seam seems to go on forever! I made a couple of simple alterations, based on what Gabrielle had done with hers. I made the smallest size, and took an inch off the top of the sleeve and from the armscye, to shorten the sleeve by 2 inches total. I wanted the bracelet length sleeves from the sample photo, and they would have covered my wrists as drafted. I also opted to line the sleeves with my lining fabric rather than the wool I used for the outer, which cut down on bulk and made the coat feel lighter overall. Finally, I ran some seam tape along the diagonal front seam, which will hopefully help the pockets retain their shape.

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I used a blush pink wool/cashmere blend which I’ve had in my stash for over a year, it originally came from The Fabric Warehouse. I really love the colour, but I struggled a bit to match it to a pattern. I was seriously planning to use it to make a Gerard Coat from Republique du Chiffon, but in the end I’m glad I went with Sapporo! The wool behaved beautifully, of course, it sews and presses like a dream. It does crease a bit, as you can see in these pictures after a day of wear, but I can live with that!

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I lined it with another stash fabric, a Liberty Tana Lawn from The Fabric Store. It’s so smooth and lovely! I’m glad I finally used it for something, and I think it looks really pretty with this pink. And how nice are those mitered corners? This really is a lovely pattern to sew. Because I was having such a nice time sewing this I decided to pull out all of the stops and use one of the beautiful “HANDMADE” labels that I bought from Arrow Mountain to finish it off. It’s subtle, but I love it!

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I’m not going to lie, when I finished it and put it on for the first time I was worried that I just looked like a big pink lump. But after wearing it for a day (and getting a few complements from strangers on it!) I decided I really loved it. Funny how that happens sometimes! I’ve only managed to wear it out a few times since I finished it a couple of weeks age, the weather has been less than ideal recently, but I think it’ll be perfect for Spring and for Summer mornings. I’m looking forward to getting out and about in it!

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2018 Winter Jumper

I keep saying I probably don’t need any more hand knitted jumpers, but I don’t seem to be able to stop myself knitting them… I’m averaging one per winter, so I suppose that rate of output isn’t too radical. And I gave my Lila Sweater to my sister earlier in the year because the alpaca blend yarn I used made me really itchy, so I had a space for a simple jumper in my wardrobe. Have I justified myself enough yet?

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This is the Mossbank Sweater by Kerry Robb, published by Brooklyn Tweed. It’s a really simple pattern, but it has a lovely shape. I love the set in sleeves and the little bit of shaping through the front and back waist so that it isn’t just straight up and down. The sample is knitted using a marled yarn for the body with contrast bands and cuffs, and to be honest I bought it thinking that there was some special trick to knitting a marl sweater(any yes, I realise how stupid that sounds now!). I was pretty disappointed to realise that it was just knitted with a Brooklyn Tweed marled yarn! I can’t have been thinking clearly when I hit purchase… I decided to knit it anyway, because it’s the shape I prefer in my jumpers.

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I knitted this in my favourite yarn, Zealana Heron in Bottle Green. The dark green is beautiful, I’m so into dark green at the moment. I’ve waxed lyrical about this wool/possum blend before, I used it for my Bronwyn Sweater and also for the scarf I knitted Hamish for his birthday one year. It’s so soft and warm, I love it! It also works really well in the reverse stockinette stitch that the pattern calls for, the nubbly purl stitches and the slightly fuzzy yarn gives it a lovely texture. It also blooms wonderfully with wet-blocking, and just made everything look even and really nice.

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I’m not that great at seaming my hand knits, I never do it tightly or evenly enough, but I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out, especially the armscye seams. My Aunt mentioned that she used to seam her hand knits using her sewing machine, which blew my mind a little bit! Has anyone tried that? I’m also really happy with how my tubular cast on hems worked, even though I haaate knitting them. I find it really counter-intuitive, and I’m always convinced it’s going to fall apart when I remove my waste yarn! It hasn’t happened yet though, so it obviously works…

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Something I’ve noticed with my older hand knit jumpers is that the neckband tends to stretch out over time, and I hate the way they sag at the nape of my neck. I’ve ripped back and re-knitted some of my older neckbands recently, and I’ve just done a basic rigid bind off instead of a special stretchy bind off. It seems to do a better job at stabilising the neck, and I haven’t had any trouble getting them over my head, so that’s what I did here instead of the tubular cast off recommended for the pattern. For further stability, I also hand sewed a length of Liberty bias tape (from The Fabric Store) along the shoulder seams and across the back neckline. I’m hopeful that this’ll help to stop any stretching, and I also think it looks really pretty!

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I’ve worn this jumper a heap since I finished it last month! It’s super warm, and is great for layering. It took me way longer than I expected to knit (I started it at Easter!), those rows and rows of stockinette were pretty dull…worth it in the end though! I’ve already started a 4ply spring/summer jumper, I think I might need to find some more storage for my growing collection…

(See it on my Ravelry page here)

Gingham Claudia

Its getting to that awkward time of the year in Wellington where it can be really cold and wet, but can also be quite mild and spring like (often within the same half hour), and I’m itching to get into some warmer weather clothes! I pulled a black and fawn gingham linen out of my stash a couple of weeks ago, but couldn’t settle on a pattern. My printer is out of ink, and I wanted to get started, so I decided I should use a pattern I had already printed and stuck together! I was flicking back through past posts for ideas (anyone else read their own archives sometimes?), and I spotted a note I made on the bottom of my post about my pink Claudia Sundress at the end of summer. Apparently I had already thought about making a shortened version in the same gingham linen I had just pulled off the washing line! It was just what I was looking for, so I duly got underway…

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I made it the same size as my original, but I extended the side seams straight down another 4ish inches past the start of the shaping for the side split, to give me enough length for a wide hem. That was my only change! It was such a quick, simple sew, even with some attempts at matching the gingham.

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I love the pockets, they’re at a really good height and are the perfect shape. Because they’re top stitched onto the front of the dress they don’t bunch or get rumpled of add bulk, which is great! The method of sewing the facing to get a clean opening is really neat too, I’ve been impressed with it both times I’ve sewn this dress.

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I really like it over my merino Rise Turtleneck and tights, but I think it’ll be a really nice breezy summer dress on its own too. I initially put this outfit on with my black funkis clogs, but then I thought it was a bit like sewing blogger bingo! Oversized gingham, sack dress, linen, turtleneck, clogs, tick tick tick! It did make me laugh, but I switched them out for my boots anyway…

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The only thing I wish I had done differently was right at the beginning when I was cutting it out, I aligned the centre front and back of the pattern along the edge of a black stripe, when I should have centered it on the stripe to make the front look balanced. Its a small thing, but now the straps don’t attach at symmetrical points on the gingham. Not that anyone will notice, I hope!

Thanks to the lovely Gabrielle for taking these photos, this was a good outfit to wear out for a big lunch!

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Persephone Pants

Does anyone else find the fashion trends that sweep the sewing community online interesting? I try not to jump on the newest, shiniest, most popular patterns on Instagram, so I’m a little late to the Persephone Party, but I’ve been planning these since I started seeing them popping up all over my feed! I do love the cropped-wide-leg silhouette, and the Persephone Pants by Anna Allen seemed to fit everyone who made them beautifully, so I decided to give them a crack. I have to admit that I had never heard of the Kamm Pant that these are modeled on, but 1940’s sailor style trousers are definitely something I’m in to…

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I sewed these up using a bottle green wool twill that I picked up cheaply at one of The Fabric Warehouse’s pop up sales. It’s completely rigid, but is reasonably lightweight and I thought it would be a good alternative for the canvas that is recommended for the pattern. the buttons for the fly and waistband and the cotton for the pocket bags all came from my stash too, pleasingly. I’m trying to ‘shop my stash’ as much as possible, so it’s nice to have used up some random bits and bobs! I was especially glad to find a button for the waistband which is a pretty close match for the wool, I really like the way it looks.

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The buttons for the fly are not quite such a good colour match, but as they’re hidden I thought they’d be ok. I secured the piece of the fly with the buttonholes to the fly facing with a row of horizontal stitches between each buttonhole before topstitching it down, as suggested on the Tessuti blog, and it’s really helped to keep the fly sitting flat and covering the buttons, rather than pulling away at the centre front. The only other place I deviated from the instructions was when I was cutting out the pocket bags. I thought I was being really clever and saving on bulk by cutting all four pocket bags from the Liberty scraps I was using, but I didn’t think about the fact that there is no pocket facing or anything to camouflage the opening of the pockets under the waistband. If I had followed the instructions and used the main fabric for the back piece of each pocket the opening wouldn’t have been so obvious! I thought I might get away with it, but when I put them on for the first time I realised that the peek of pale cotton at the waistband made it look like the waistband was pulling away from the trouser legs and exposing my knickers! Not quite what I was going for… I wasn’t game to unpick everything to fix my mistake though, so I cheated and just slip-stitched the pockets closed. I wasn’t likely to use them anyway…

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For a pattern with no side seams, I think the fit across the front is really pretty good. I was a bit disheartened to see those wrinkles across the front of my hips, but I think that’s just a hazard of trousers in a non-stretch woven. Looking at the photos of the back though I think I need to make some adjustments before I use this pattern again. Maybe some more length in the back crotch curve? I’ll need to compare it to my adjusted Maritime Shorts pattern so see how different the shape is. I’ve seen similar wrinkles on other versions on Instagram, but haven’t seen anyone talking about how to fix them!

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Look at that lack of side seams! This was a really fun pattern to put together, there were some really nice details included in the pattern and instructions, though I did have to pay a bit more attention to the seam allowances than usual as they change depending on the area under construction. The required seam allowances were well documented on both the pattern pieces and at each step in the instructions, but I do tend to go onto autopilot sometimes! It’s nice to sew something that kept me on my toes. I do wish that the PDF pattern had been slightly more user friendly, there is no page printing guide to help with printing only one view, and the way that it’s laid out meant that there was no way to print only the pieces for the size 6 trousers that I was sewing instead of the fly pieces and waistbands for every size. But at least I’ve already got the pattern all printed and stuck together for the shorts as well, which I’m definitely planning to sew for summer!

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I am going to have to sew some body suits or some full bum high waisted knickers to wear under these to cut down on the wrinkles and bumps left by tucking things in. In the summer at least I can just wear cropped tops with them and cut down on the tucking in! I also might add some back pockets to the shorts when I make them, just to break up the back view a little bit. The true high waist on this pattern means that there is a large expanse of unbroken fabric for the back view… I’m not sure if patch pockets like the ones from the Lander Pants or mock welt pockets would look best.

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All in all I’m really happy with these trousers, I love the 70’s feel they have with the cropped length, and I think they look pretty cute with my clogs! I took 2 inches off the hem to make them a bit more cropped, they were sitting at that slightly awkward ”just on the top of my shoe” length as drafted and it didn’t look quite right. A longer, full length pair would look good though…

Rise and Fall

An alternative title for this post could be “Sewing clothes I hate wearing to see if I like them more once I’ve made them myself”, but I thought that was a bit of a mouthful. See, I have a bit of a conundrum, I hate having a cold neck (or even worse, having a cold breeze blowing down my back!), but I also hate having things tight around my neck or across my throat. Generally, turtlenecks make me feel claustrophobic and a bit panic-y, but I keep seeing all these stylish ladies wearing them and I was jealous of how warm and toasty they must be! So I thought I would have a go at making my own, using the Papercut Rise and Fall Turtleneck patterns.

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I made both versions, to see if I preferred one over the other. Rise is a classic turtleneck, with set sleeves and a short, close fitting turtleneck. Fall is looser, with a drop shoulder and a much longer, looser turtleneck which can either be folded over on itself or left scrunched down like in these photos. My Rise version is a black merino/lycra blend, and the Fall turtleneck is made out of a dusty rose coloured merino, both from the stash. I sewed both up with my overlocker, and used my coverstitch for the hems, so they’re looking nice and neat! I used a standard two needle stitch for the hems on the black one, as I have lots of spools of black thread, but I had to use a single needle chain stitch for the pink one because I only had a tiny bit of matching thread left, nowhere near enough for two rows of stitching!

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I cut a size XS in both tops, which is my standard size when I’m sewing Papercut Patterns. I was slightly surprised by how short both tops came up, both in the body and the sleeves. The sleeves on the black version in particular are bordering on too short, but I don’t want to add cuffs! I find them a bit fussy, and I like how simple the lines on the Rise turtleneck are. I’ll just need to remember to add a couple of centimeters to the length of  them if i made it again! The sleeves on the Fall turtleneck are a better length, I think I might have turned up a smaller hem since I was using chain stitch to sew the hem.

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I’m surprised I like them both as much as I do, but I’m even more surprised that I prefer the Rise version to the Fall! I assumed that the looser neck on the Fall would be more comfortable to me, but the turtleneck on the Rise is loose enough that it isn’t pressing on my throat, and because it’s short and light it doesn’t collapse against my neck like the Fall version. I also prefer the slim set in sleeves over the dropped shoulders on the Fall, I keep feeling the dropped shoulder seam rubbing on my upper arm and thinking it’s my bra strap slipping off my shoulder! Either way, they’re both stopping the Wellington southerly gales from getting down the neck of my tops, which I’m appreciating at the moment.

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One thing I haven’t figured out yet is quite how to wear either top when I need layers. They look ridiculously preppy if I wear them under my Driftless Cardi’s, like I’m in costume as a stereotypical librarian or something. Any suggestions? Maybe I just need to wear them over a superfine thermal layer or something. I would like to have a go at layering them under some dresses, I can’t stop thinking how cute the Rise would be under a pinafore style dress like the Tessuti Claudia or the Closet Case Patterns Fiona

Hackney Shirt

Earlier this year I was very flattered to be contacted by Sew Over It to ask if I would be interested in testing their latest online class, for either the men’s Hackney Shirt or the women’s Ultimate Shirt. I’ve never done any pattern testing before, and I’m a bit wary of the whole process, but when I realised that SOI weren’t asking for any publicity, just feedback, I decided to give it a go. I actually really enjoyed it, I quite like proof reading and editing work, and it was fun to have a look at the SOI online class model (which is excellent). I opted to make the Hackney Shirt, as I’ve been telling Hamish that I’d make him a shirt as soon as I found a pattern that I liked the look of, and this one seemed to fit the bill!

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Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go to plan. I picked a size too small for Hamish, and the sleeves came up a bit short too (though they’ve been lengthened on the final pattern). He has shirts which fit him much better, and I could just tell that this one wasn’t going to get a look in. I was feeling a bit salty about wasting a nice piece of shirting from my stash (I know, should have used something else, but I don’t love wasting time or fabric on muslins either…its a conundrum), but last week when I once again saw it slung over a chair, all sad and unworn, I figured I might as well try it on myself. It’s definitely over sized, but I’m hoping I can get away with it…

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Hackney is a lovely classic shirt pattern, with a two piece collar and tower plackets, and a yoke and back pleat. All of the seams are flat felled, so it’s lovely and neat on the inside, and I used a crisp Italian shirting from my deep stash. I think it came from The Fabric Store years ago, but I can’t be sure… It’s a gorgeous grey/blue with a tiny white pinstripe, very traditional (and to be honest, much more my colour than Hamish’s…)! The buttons are a two-tone white shirt button from my button bin, I like them with the stripes. Being a man’s shirt though the buttons are on the wrong side for me, which totally tripped me up when I put it on for the first time! It was very confusing, my fingers just couldn’t figure out how to get the buttons through the buttonholes…

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I’m so happy with the sewing on this shirt, I’m really proud of the finish and the way the details came out. I think the collar and plackets are the best I’ve ever done! They’ve come out very neat and symmetrical, though the sleeves are too long on me. I could take the cuffs off and shorten the sleeves, there’s plenty of length in those plackets, but the chances of me wearing the sleeves unrolled are very slim so I’m not sure I’ll bother! I enjoyed following along with the online class, each lesson was nice and short and made it easy to follow along with each step, and Lisa Comfort describes and demonstrates everything in a really straightforward way. The videos for the tower plackets in particular was very easy to follow, and made a fairly fiddly step in the instructions clear.

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I spent a bit of time playing around with different ways to wear it, and I think I might alter the hem slightly to make it easier to tie it at the waist or wear it in a French tuck (thanks to Queer Eye, I now know that that’s what a half tuck is called). If I deepen the curve at the sides of the hem, to make it more like the shape of the Kalle tunic hem, it’ll work much better. Wearing it with slightly less high waited jeans would probably help a bit with the tuck as well…

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So what do you think? Can I get away with wearing this, or does it just look like I’ve raided Hamish’s wardrobe? I like wearing sharp, menswear inspired pieces, but I also don’t want it to look like I ran out of clean clothes and so grabbed whatever I could find…

Frocktails Dress!

We had a Frocktails night in Wellington this weekend! I’ve had so much FOMO looking at the Aussie Frocktails events for years, so I was super excited when Sandra from Sew Social announced that she had organised one for us. I duly bought my ticket, and then started planning my outfit. And I had so many plans! I was going to make a By Hand London Orsola dress, then a Sew Over It Zoe dress, then a jump suit, then some Winslow Culottes… I actually started the Winslows, but I chose a wool rayon blend that I thought would have enough drape but it became evident pretty quickly that it definitely did not! They were shaping up to be a super huge pair of trousers. That was last weekend, so I was getting a bit stressed about what I was going to wear…

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In the end I grabbed one of my newer patterns off my shelf, the Deer and Doe Myosotis Dress, and paired it with this gorgeous printed cotton from my stash. It has a print similar to an ikat, with irregular squares and lines, but it isn’t woven into the fabric. I bought it from Drapers Fabrics a few months ago, planning to make a classic shirtdress out of it, but when it arrived it was much softer than I expected. I’m pretty sure its a double gauze, I was able to separate the layers and it was pretty shifty, so wouldn’t have held the crisp lines of the dress I was planning.  Its lovely though, and it was perfect to pair with this pattern instead. There is a bunch of fabric in those ruffles, but they feel really light and airy in this fabric, and the Wellington wind was definitely showing them off last night before we got to Frocktails! I was a bit hasty with my cutting out, and I unfortunately didn’t notice that the bottom layer of my fabric had shifted pretty significantly off grain. It’s pretty loosely woven, so it moves around a lot! That means that the pattern on the fabric doesn’t run in nice straight lines and is a bit all over the place, but I’m telling myself I’m ok with it.

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The Myosotis pattern was lovely to sew, as I’ve found all Deer and Doe patterns to be! My measurements fall neatly between size 38 and 40 on their size chart, but looking at the finished garment sizes I was confident in picking the 38! I did have to laugh when I tried on the bodice, the “empire line” waist was the perfect length for my short torso. I left it at the drafted length, because I thought it would look super weird if I shortened it any more. The only change I made was to add a couple of inches onto the skirt before I added the ruffle. I’m not sure if I lengthened it too much, but I think it’ll be a good length for summer when I want to wear it with bare legs and sandals. I was trying to think of the last time I made something with a gathered skirt, and I genuinely can’t think of when that would have been. I’m just not really a gathered skirt kind of person! I do really love the bodice of this dress though, the shaping with the darts is perfect to balance out the loose silhouette without swamping me, and the neckline and collar is so cute.

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And it has pockets, of course!

This is definitely a summer dress, and it was absolutely freezing last night, but I was determined to wear it since I had finished it in time! I stuck my merino slip under it and wore my fleece lined tights, and managed to brave 2 minutes outside with no coat on while Emma, Gabrielle and I took photos of each other (we even managed to find a teal wall to make me feel at home). We copped a few funny looks from random members of the public, most of whom were wearing puffer jackets and woolly hats, but such is the life of a blogger…

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Frocktails was great fun, it’s always nice to know that people won’t think you’re weird if you ask to feel their clothes! I now have a bunch of new patterns I want to make, courtesy of what everyone else was wearing… There’s going to be one in Auckland in mid August, hope you’ve got your tickets if you’re up there!