All my faces

So, I know I said in my last post that my Jazz jumpsuit was probably one of the most complemented handmade garments in my wardrobe, but I think that this shirt might have outstripped it already! I even had a lady in a shop ask me where I had got it, and then asked me if I made them to order when I said I made it. I’m really not interested in sewing things to sell, but nice to know there might be a market if I ever change my mind…

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This is my second Closet Case Patterns Kalle Shirt, and it’s taken me over a year to get around to it even though I intended to make another one as soon as I finished my first! I’ve got some lovely Japanese cotton waiting to become another version, but its quite heavy and I thought I might try something a bit lighter and airier for summer. I love this Crowded Faces fabric from Lady McIlroy, and had been seeing it all over instagram, but I had been struggling to find it anywhere. Then Emma said she was putting in an order to La Mercerie, and did I want to split the shipping with her? Obviously I did! I ended up with 1.5 yards, which was plenty to made this shirt, and gave me the wiggle room to be a bit pedantic with how I placed the faces on the shirt. I’m especially pleased with how the print sits on the collar!

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I even got out my tiny stash of embroidery floss to give one of my collar faces some lipstick. I’m so happy with how it turned out! I used a plain white cotton for the inside yoke and the under collar and inner collar stand, because the cotton lawn is fine enough for the print to show through pretty clearly and it looked a bit messy. I also made a couple of changes to the pattern after my last one, including shortening the height of the collar stand. I felt like the whole collar was really big on my first shirt, and thought that decreasing the height of it might help. I think I should also decrease the size of the collar for my next version (that Japanese cotton, finally!), just to keep it a bit more proportional. I’m ok with the size of this collar though, as it means I can get both of those faces on the collar points!

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The biggest change I made was to straighten out the hem. I kept the cropped length, but just ruled a new hemline straight across from the longest point at the centre front, and kept it mostly level across the back as well. It has a bit of a dip in the back hem, and I’m not sure where that came from, but it looks nice! I also decreased the size of the box pleat in the back by half, as I thought it might be a bit too voluminous without the longer back hem and the wide hem facing to keep the volume under control!

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I’m really happy with the length and fullness I achieved with this one, I think it looks good with my high waisted shorts (these are my Landers) and trousers, and doesn’t flash as much skin when I lift my arms up as my first version does. I still love the shaped cuffs that this pattern has, I think they’re so great. I don’t always love the way a simple bias rectangle cuff wings out on a cut on sleeve, and these two piece cuffs follow the line of the shoulder so nicely. Such a nice touch!

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I finished the shirt off with my favourite shiny black shirt buttons from Made Marion Crafts, and added a ‘Hand Made’ tag from Kylie and the Machine to the back collar. I love it when all those little details add up! And I’m really glad I spent a bit more time and attention on this shirt, from cutting it out to those final details, because I really like the finished garment! It’s been great to wear in this heat over the past few weeks, but I’m also really looking forward to having that collar peeking out over my handknitted jerseys later in the year. I’ll need to get moving on sewing up my next version!

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Denim Fiona Dress

Is anyone else struggling to get their head around the fact that it’s November? I’m not ready for there to be Christmas displays in the shops! This year just seems to have disappeared, I’m not sure what I’ve done with it. I mean, I did hand in my research project last week, which means that I’ve finally finished my Masters of Information Studies (provided I pass, of course, though I would be a bit salty if my supervisor had let me hand in something below a pass level!). I don’t think I realised how much space it had been occupying in my mind this year until it was all handed in and no longer in my control, and I’ve been enjoying daydreaming about all of my summer sewing plans rather than musing about my data matrix or something equally dull.

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This dress is one which I sewed up in tiny chunks in between writing up my results and discussion sections. It’s the Fiona Sundress from Closet Case Patterns, and it was a good one to sew in drips and drabs! I could sew the front princess seams, then write a couple of paragraphs, then sew the back princess seams, then draw up some figures and charts, then sew the side seams…you get the picture!

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I really loved the 90’s style of the longer version, and I loved the drama of the low backed version, but I decided to be very sensible and make up the mini-length with the high back! I just really hate not wearing a bra, and I wanted to be able to wear it without a tee shirt underneath when we get further into the summer. I do wish I had made the below-knee version rather than the mini length, but I think this length will be good with tights when I’m layering it for cooler weather too.

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Fiona was a fun wee pattern to sew up, and came together with minimal fuss or changes! I took a centimeter off the bottom of the bodice to account for my short waist, and possibly could have taken a sliver more off at the centre back for my sway back, but I’m not too bothered. I did have to shorten the straps considerably, but that’s easy enough! The instructions even remind you to wait until you get to the point you can try the dress on before securing the straps at the back, in case they need to be altered. I do wonder if I should have taken it in a bit through the bodice, there’s a bit of extra ease under my arms and around my waist, but I really didn’t want a tight dress so I’m not overly bothered!

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I used a lovely stretch denim from The Fabric Store, it was marked as Marc Jacobs and was on special for something crazy cheap so I bought a bit of it! I’ve got enough for another pair of Ginger Jeans, which is timely as my first blue pair are getting pretty ratty now. I think denim works really well for this pattern, especially for the shorter versions, but I wish I had used a lighter fabric for the strap and top band facings. I cottoned on in time to use a chambray for the pocket facings, and I think it would have worked better to reduce the bulk at the top of the button bank especially. Having a rigid fabric facing at the top there might also have helped to combat the slight gape I get under my arms too (seriously exaggerated in the above photo!).

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All those lovely copper buttons came from Miss Maude Fabrics, and yes, making 14 buttonholes and whacking in 14 buttons was a bit of a chore! Honestly, getting in and out of this dress is a bit of a chore too, even though I only have to undo the top 6 buttons. If I was going to make it again, especially in a lighter fabric like linen, I think I would stick a long invisible zip in the side seam, just to make it easier to get in and out of! I would probably still make the buttonholes, but at least it would make getting dressed in the dark at 6am before work easier.

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I am really happy with it though, I’m looking forward to getting to wear it with bare shoulders and sandals like this! It looks cute over my striped tee shirts too though, so I’ll be able to wear it no matter what Wellington decided to do with the weather…

Yet More Basic Basics…

Hi team! My research proposal is handed in, and a month away from both blog and sewing machine seems to have helped to kick start my sew-jo again. We’ve just had a long weekend which I put to pretty good use, making a dress for my mum as well as managing to finish off the jeans and jumper I’ve had cut out for months. They’re both boring basics, but they’ve filled a hole in my wardrobe that I have really been noticing now that the temperature has dropped!

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I really needed another pair of jeans, I was rotating between my Deer & Doe Safran Jeans and my blue Ginger Jeans, and the ankle baring Safrans are getting harder to wear the colder it gets! I bought some black stretch cotton twill from Miss Maude earlier in the year, and decided to turn it into another pair of Gingers. I made these the same as my first pair, with the high waist and skinny legs and the pocket stay. I realised when I revisited my original blog post that I had meant to fiddle with the legs to see if I could decrease the wrinkles at the knee and back thigh, but I had already cut this pair out!

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To be honest, I don’t think I need to fiddle with them too much. There are always going to be wrinkles on skinny jeans, especially these ones. The cotton twill is beautiful, and sewed and pressed so nicely, but it is fairly lightweight and definitely doesn’t have the same recovery as the denim I used for my first pair. it also has a bit of a sheen to it, so those wrinkles all catch the light! I look these photos after a few days of wear, and they’ve definitely loosened up around the hips and thighs and across the front. I kinda like how they have ended up looking more like close fitting trousers rather than jeans, it definitely means they’ll be easier to dress up.

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You can see how much the back has bagged out in that photo… One thing I definitely improved on from my last pair is the top stitching. I used upholstery thread and the chain stitch function on my new toy, a Janome Coverpro 2000CPX. Because the chain stitch is stretchy, and because I used a much heavier thread than the Gutermann Sulky thread from last time, I hopefully won’t pop all of my topstitching! Unfortunately with the black thread on black fabric and my dim winter photography its pretty hard to see…

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The best part of these jeans is the Japanese cotton I used for the pockets! All of my jeans should have cat pockets. I opted not to put the belt loops on this pair, as I never wear belts with them anyway and I thought that skipping them would stop them looking so much like “jeans”. Also I was being a bit lazy and just wanted to have them finished…

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Next up is this super simple sweatshirt. I had a metre of absolutely beautiful lightweight ‘winter white’ wool from Tessuti, bought when I was over in Sydney a few years ago. I wish I had bought a bit more, because I couldn’t fit any of the patterns I wanted to make onto 1m (I really need to remember that I need at least 1.2m to get a long-sleeved top out of it)… In the end, after losing pattern tetris with a few patterns I decided to just go super simple and make a long sleeved top out of my favourite knit dress pattern, M6886. I cut it off at the lengthen/shorten line just below the waist point on the pattern, and straightened the side seams out. I also had to put cuffs of the sleeves, as I just couldn’t fit the full length sleeve on however I laid it out! I cut a wide facing for the crew neck, and again used the chainstitch on my coverstitch machine to sew down the facing and do the hem. I love the single line of stitching, it looks so sleek and simple. I really like how it’s turned out, I think it’ll be a great workhorse this winter.

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Yay basics! And yay for wool to keep me warm!

 

Not-quite-basics

I made this outfit up in that weird, limbo-ish period between Christmas and New Year, when I wasn’t reading my Christmas books or watching the cricket. Historically, I’ve been productive in the last week of December, but I’ve also made a bunch of stuff that has been ill-judged or that have just been total wadders (most haven’t made it to the blog). Fortunately, this Christmas I made two things which I’m totally in love with!

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This is the Kalle shirt from Closet Case Patterns, made up in linen from The Fabric Store (second item in my Summer of Linen series!). This is technically the second time I’ve used this pattern, but it’s the first time I’ve used it as drafted. I picked the cropped version (obviously), with the full length exposed button band and the full collar. there are a lot of options with this pattern, I love it! This linen has a much crisper hand than the rayon crepe I used for my first tee shirt version, so it holds the shape of the body and hem much better.

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I love that back pleat and the kimono sleeves and cuffs! I’m also really pleased with the length at the front, I think its perfect to wear with anything which sits at my natural waist. I’m slightly terrified to wear this shirt anywhere that I might come into contact with any food or drink or anything else which might stain it…I’ll need to get over it though, because it’s an excellent top to wear when it’s all hot and sticky and I don’t want anything to touch my skin.

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I think this is one of the neatest collars I’ve ever sewn, mostly due to the linen I think! It just holds a press so beautifully, and is such a lovely stable fabric. I was surprised by how high the collar stand was though, it’s almost twice as high as the one from the Melilot shirt. I don’t mind the way it looks, but it feels like a more formal collar. It definitely sits up a lot more! Irritatingly, I managed to get that top button hole slightly too far from the edge of the stand, and the top button looks really off centre. I never manage to get that one in the right place! I extended it as much as I thought I could get away with (after I had sewn and opened the original buttonhole), but it still isn’t where it should be. I used my favourite 1/2″ shell buttons, I like the subtle shine against the linen. It’s also just long enough to tuck in, if I ever want to go totally preppy!

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While most of this post is about the shirt, this skirt is one of my favourite things that I’ve made recently! It’s my favourite skirt pattern, v1247, and the fabric is a gorgeous indigo dyed Japanese cotton that I bought at Ray Stitch in London when Katie took me shopping last year. I bought it intending to make a Kochi Kimono out of it, but I once again forgot how narrow Japanese fabrics are and I couldn’t tetris my way out of not having enough fabric this time. I’m slightly sad about not getting my indigo kimono, but I’m so happy that I thought to make it up as this skirt instead! I lengthened it the same amount as I did  for my denim version, 4″ in length with a 1” hem, which I think puts it at the perfect length.

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I bound all of the seams with some vintage turquoise bias tape, and blind hemmed it. I felt like I should pull all of the stops for this gorgeous fabric! I have another length of the same fabric, but with crosses woven into it rather than the dashes on this fabric. I bought it to make a pair of trousers, but maybe it’ll become the kimono/lightweight jacket I wanted this piece to become…

I’m really happy with both of these garments, I think they fit really well into my summer wardrobe, and both are things I really want to wear! I’m planning so many versions of the Kalle shirt, I want to make another cropped version but with the hem straightened off, and a version of the shirt dress inspired by this stunning version made by Sasha from Secondo Piano (ok, it might just be a straight copy). I’d also be really keen to make a long sleeved version of the tunic length one if I could find some wool flannel or something for winter…

All the linen over here please!

It’s so hot. So muggy. So unlike Wellington. We’re all wandering around in a sticky, grouchy, slightly stunned sort of way, totally not used to weather like this (we’d move to Auckland if we wanted humidity!). Obviously this is the perfect weather for a Closet Case Patterns Charlie Caftan in crisp linen from The Fabric Store.

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I picked up this 1.5m remnant of linen last time I was at TFS (I can never help myself, their remnant bins are so good), and decided I would use it to make a test run of the Charlie before I used the gorgeous piece of Japanese double gauze which I bought specifically to make view B of the pattern. I opted for view A for this linen, as I thought the architectural pleats would work better with it’s crisp hand than the gathers.

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Charlie was an enjoyable dress to sew! I love the kimono sleeves, and the faced neckline. The waistband insert was enjoyably fiddly to sew, I think sometimes I sew too many basic-straight-line garments so I should push myself more. I used the higher armholes, though you can still see my bra through them. I’ll just make sure I’m wearing a black bra with it, I’m not overly bothered! I also added the waist ties from view B, which I’m glad about. The dress itself is pretty straight up and down, and I like the hint of shape that the ties give. I also like that they’re long enough to tie in the front, the linen ties into a lovely crisp bow which I think looks really cute with the insert and the pleats.

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I’ve been playing around with different ways to tie it, I quite like it tied together in a bow at the front without wrapping around my waist. It gives the dress a little bit more shape than not being tied up at all, but is more cocoon shaped (which is great in this heat!). I don’t think I’ll ever wear it untied, simply because I don’t know what I’d do with the ties! Maybe when I make my double gauze version I’ll make the ties separate, or figure out a way to make them removable.

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Tied in front
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untied (with tails)

I’m really liking deep V necklines at the moment, surprisingly enough! I’ve always preferred a scoop neck, but I’ve sewn a couple of things with this shape neckline lately and I think its really pretty. Good for showing off some of my shorter necklaces too!

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The only issue I have with this one is that it’s a touch snug at around my hips, but luckily linen is pretty forgiving and it’s already relaxed and become more comfortable! I could have let the seams out a touch, but then I would have had to mess with the pockets, and I was too lazy. it isn’t that bad, I’ll just need to remember for next time!

Linen is having a definite moment in my summer sewing, I’ve made 3 garments in it so far with two more in the pipeline. I could have more, but I’ve put a few restrictions of my fabric buying for the next wee while, and I don’t have any more in my stash! I’m going to try to sew 3 pieces of fabric from my stash before I’m allowed to add a metre, so we’ll see how that goes. If I start counting from the beginning of my christmas break, that gives me 1.5m of new fabric owing…I’ll just avoid the Fabric Store for a little while!

Kalle-ish

I’m probably about to jinx the entire Wellington region here, but it’s really feeling like summer is nearly here this year! We’ve had a gorgeous spell of warm sunny weather, and it’s got me dreaming about linen and silk and loose, cropped silhouettes. As usual I’m looking to make tops which are a bit more fancy than just tee-shirts, and I’m loving the high waisted bottoms/ cropped tops look which seems to be around this year.

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I pulled the Kalle Shirt pattern by Closet Case Files out and matched it to this windowpane check from Indie Sew on my first weekend back after our trip, when I was desperate to sew something, but I just couldn’t be bothered with the idea of sewing a collar in that shifty fabric. I loved the idea of the faced high/low hem and the kimono sleeves though, so I decided to do a bit of pattern modification to get a simplified top.

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I kept all of the bits of the pattern that I really liked, the hem and facings, the sleeves and cuffs, and the back pleat, but obviously I ditched the shirt bits! I used the pop-over front pattern piece, which is cut on the fold anyway, and just didn’t put the placket in. I traced off the front and back neckline from the Willow Tank, and then traced off a facing to finish the neckline. Other than the neckline, I followed the instructions exactly.

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I love the back and the hem! If I made this modification again, I wouldn’t drop the back neckline so low so that I could keep some more of the yoke, I think it’s a bit disproportionate on this one. but I can’t see it, so that’s okay! I’m trying to be less obsessive about getting things perfect (the Love To Sew Podcast episode on perfectionism resonated with me, I definitely let my perfectionist tenancies get in the way of my sewing enjoyment), and I definitely embraced the ‘done is better than perfect’ ethos on this project…

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I really love this fabric (in fact, I was so keen to get my hands on some that I managed to submit my online order to Indie Sew twice. So glad I managed to cancel one order before it was cut out! It’s no longer available, sorry.), I’ve got the white with black check colourway too. It feels lovely, it’s a very smooth and floaty rayon crepe, but it was pretty shifty and difficult to cut out and sew! I cut it on one layer, and used all of my pins to keep it all square and in line. The finished top tends to slide around a bit too, I think that it’s too heavy in the back. Between the double layer of crepe for the yoke and the longer length, it slips back on my shoulders a bit. Using a lighter weight cotton for the yoke lining would have been a better idea. But never mind, that’s what hindsight is for!

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The highest point of the hem is a good height for my high waisted trousers (these are my Safrans, but they’re good with my Gingers and my Flint trousers too, as well as my high waisted skirts), but clearly I’ll need to be careful getting anything down off high shelves! I’m wearing a tank top under it in these pictures, I’m not quite that anaemic…

I’m definitely keen to try out the pattern as drafted, I have some lightweight Japanese cotton earmarked for another cropped version but with all the shirt details included. Looking at my sewing plans for the summer there are going to be a bunch of collars and plackets and buttonholes involved! Also some more wide legged trousers, and hopefully a swimsuit…

Kelly Anorak

I’m finally home! The trip back was pretty dire (I really wish someone would get on with inventing human teleportation, please and thank you), but that’s what I get for living a million miles away. I’ve integrated my UK fabric purchases into my fabric stash, I’ve uploaded my photos, and I’ve spent some quality time with the cats, so I thought I’d finally blog about the Closet Case Files Kelly Anorak that I made up before my trip.

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Best turtle impression

This jacket was so useful, it was the perfect weight to wear once we got further north and the weather started to cool down. I think it looks more stylish than my Waver raincoat, which I also took and wore loads (since it’s waterproof) but which is beginning to get a bit scruffy. I used a stretch twill from The Fabric Store, which I think was marked as Marc Jacobs. I’m always surprised at the rolls of designer fabric which pop up at TFS! It was the perfect colour for what I was after, and it’s quite nice to have a little bit of stretch in a casual jacket. I realised as I was assembling the navy fabric and gold hardware that I was copying this amazing Minoru hack that Sallie Oh made years ago and which I coveted, but didn’t think I had the skills (or the patience) to make such big changes to the pattern. I’m glad I procrastinated long enough for the Kelly pattern to be released and save me the hassle!

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I love hardware-heavy projects like this! I really wanted spring snaps rather than the ring snaps which I used on my Waver, but I haven’t seen them for sale anywhere in New Zealand. I was looking to buy a bunch of bag hardware at the same time, so I just bit the bullet and put an order into Pacific Trimming. It wasn’t too expensive, in the scheme of things, but shipping and the conversion rate definitely made it a bit of a splurge purchase! I got the snaps, draw string stoppers and cord ends from there, and I’m really happy with them. They’re all the same gold tone, which was important to me, and the snaps feel much more sturdy (and make a much more satisfying snapping noise) than the other type I’ve used. And they just look nicer! Similarly, the stoppers and end caps are nice and weighty and look good, I wish I had bought a few more sets. Of course, after I put the order in Closet Case Files released a gold toned version of their hardware kit, but never mind… The zip was a lucky find at Spotlight, I didn’t expect to find a gold and navy separating zip there but I got lucky! It was too long, but I don’t mind shortening zips.

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I used the scraps of Liberty lawn left over from my Willow Tank for the hem binding and the drawstring casing, and I’m really happy with how it looks against the navy. Instead of using standard cord for my drawstring I used some heavy cotton twill tape. I think it looks good, it’s a bit nautical! It’s flat, so squeezing it through the eyelet and the cord stopper (what are those called? I’m sure that isn’t the right word…) was slightly challenging, but now that they’re in place I won’t have to move them again! I also used the twill tape for a hanging loop inside the collar. Also, how good are those pockets? I love big pockets, and these ones can fit pretty much anything I want to put in them.

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So, onto the pattern! I know there has been a bit of negativity around this pattern recently, but I didn’t personally have any issues with the drafting. Because I had to shorten the zip anyway I didn’t really pay attention to the recommended length on the pattern and just shortened it until it fit. I wish I had shortened it another inch, to be honest, because the end of the zipper pull hangs over the edge of the hem when it’s undone! I can’t see it, but I know that it’s there…I did have issues with the zipper and placket though, which were my own stupid fault. I was absolutely flying along on the Saturday I started this, everything was going really smoothly and I was really happy with my progress by the end of the day. On Sunday, I picked it up again, and realised that I had sewn the zip in with the wrong seam allowance, so there wasn’t enough room under the placket for the snaps. I was so upset! I considered carrying on and just fudging it, but I knew that would ultimately really annoy me, and I didn’t want to risk messing up the snaps after getting them all the way from LA! So I gritted my teeth and unpicked the whole damn lot. It’s definitely not as square or as nicely sewn now, as I had graded those seams pretty savagely, but at least the snaps are where they’re supposed to be! it turned out that I had just aligned the edge of the zipper tape with the edge of the fabric, instead of using a 5/8” seam allowance as instructed. Lesson learned there!

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There are some fitting issues here which I need to address before making this pattern again (I’m planning a waterproof version with the hood), mostly around the shoulders. Initially, I thought that I needed to do a narrow shoulder adjustment as the point of the shoulder is slipping down my arm, but now that I’ve worn it for 6 weeks I think that the more important adjustment I need to make is for a forward shoulder. The shoulder seam is sitting about an inch behind my actual shoulder, so that is definitely something I need to look into. I may also need to take some length out of that seam, but I’ll see how it looks after moving it forward! I could also lift the drawstring casing up a wee bit I think. but other than that, I think its pretty good really! There are some funny wrinkles in these photos, but I’m chalking those up to 1) the jacket being in and out of my suitcase for 2 weeks by the time these pictures were taken, and 2) it being super windy and it being blown against my body weirdly!

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I know this has been a long post, but I should also talk about this amazing place! These photos were taken on the island of Skye, and it was just so beautiful there. This is the ruin of Duntulm Castle, on the northern point of Skye. It’s slowly falling into the sea, so you can’t get closer than the fence (which I think is actually to keep the sheep out, rather than reckless tourists), but it was such a stunning, lonely spot. There was a fisherman down on the rocks below the cliff where I was standing, who I didn’t spot until he popped up in the middle of these photos, which is why I look a bit sheepish in some of them! I absolutely loved Skye, I would love to go back for longer some time. I bought the necklace I’m wearing in these pictures (its by Wolf and Moon) from a lovely shop in Portree called Òr, where I also got my birthday present Hilary Grant scarf (this one!). I’m almost wishing we could have a bit more cold weather so that I could wear that scarf now rather than waiting for winter (but not really, bring on summer!)