A Pair of Toasters

Last winter I bought the Toaster Sweater pattern, expecting to make and wear the toaster 2 variation heaps during the cold weather. I did wear the striped version I made a bit, but there was something about it that I didn’t love. But during a bout of particularly feral weather this winter I pulled the pattern out again and decided I was going to make the first version in a boiled merino knit I had in my stash.

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I know that its hard to see what’s going on here, it being a black knit and all, but I really love the shape of this one. The wide cuffs and hem band and the shape of the wide turtleneck make it really comfortable and snuggly, especially in this thick squashy merino. I really like the proportions of it, it’s slightly cropped and hits me at about my mid-hip, which I find a really flattering length on me. One of the things I found I disliked about my Toaster 2 sweater was that I always thought it was a bit big, so this time I sized down from a medium to a small, despite my measurements indicating I should be in a medium. I think the size is spot on this time, so I’m happy with that decision!

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I feel like I wore this thing a couple of times a week during the cold parts of winter! It’s so warm, and the neckline is wide enough that I can tuck my chin into it like a turtle if I feel the need. I even found it was a good thing to layer over my Rise turtleneck that was giving me trouble with what to wear over it. Double turtleneck, double warmth! I liked the shape of the raglan sleeves and the general proportions of it so much that I decided to make a warmer weather version of it in a gorgeous cotton sweatshirting I got from the Fabric Store last month.

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I made a few changes for this one, the most obvious being cutting down the turtleneck to a standard sized neckband. I also halved the width of the cuffs and hem ribbing, because I thought the super wide cuffs would look a bit weird in a rib. I basically turned it into the Linden Sweatshirt, but I think this one fits much better than the Linden’s I’ve made in the past. I prefer the higher crew neck, and the raglan sleeves fit better around the bottom of the armscye.

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To compensate for using a rib for the neckband rather than self fabric, I trimmed two inches from the length before sewing it up. I probably could have taken off a bit more, it doesn’t sit as flat as I’d like, but I’m not keen on unpicking it to make it shorter! I left the cuffs and hem bands the drafted length, I don’t love tight ribbing cinching in my sleeves. I do love this sweatshirt though! I’m really happy with how my ‘sweatshirtifying’ mods worked out, it’s kept all the proportions and fit from the original which I really liked but has made a nice casual top for spring.

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I really love this fabric and ribbing combination, I love a matching ribbing! I find it really hard to find any good rib knit for cuffs and neckbands, so when I saw this coordinating sweatshirting/ribbing at The Fabric Store I was all over it. They’re both organic fair trade cotton, just to make things even better! I’m not usually that fond of polka dots, but these random, abstract paint-y dots are really nice. I feel like I should go back and buy some of the navy and white colourway, but I’m really trying not to stash fabric at the moment, things are getting a bit out of hand… The boiled merino for my first version was from The Fabric Store too, and both fabrics have worn really well so far. I think the wool might pill after a few more washes, but I’ll run the de-piller over it and I’m sure it’ll be fine! Now I just need to not spill anything on my cream sweatshirt…

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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

Mini Making part 2

I’m in a bit of an irritating sewing slump at the moment. I’ve got a pile of things cut out and ready to go, and I just don’t want to sew them! I think it’s partly because I’m feeling guilty for neglecting my studies a bit, so I’m going to give myself a break from sewing and blogging until I hand my research proposal in (in a couple of weeks, hopefully), and then I should get my enthusiasm back! In the meantime I’ve got the second pile of baby clothes I made up to post about…

First up, more from Ottobre! I made this lot up at the same time as the tiny pants from my other post, so they don’t have any seam allowances either… Both patterns are super simple, the leggings are just one pattern piece, and the sweatshirt is two (plus a neckband). The stripes are merino sweatshirting, and the navy and mustard for the leggings are merino jersey scraps. The floral sweatshirt is made out of a scrap of Liberty cotton terry, which came out of a bag of scrap remnants I bought ages ago from The Fabric Store. It was just big enough to squeeze the pattern onto!

Sewing up this striped top was when I first realised I hadn’t added the seam allowances, I thought the neck hole looked too tiny for babywear and figured I must have made a mistake! It is pretty small, so I’ll take it back and add a keyhole in the back if it doesn’t go over the wee girl’s head. I found the iron on transfer in a sale bin, and had to buy it, it’s so cute! I topstitched it on as well as ironing it on, just for added security.

For this second sweatshirt I avoided the neckband all together. The cotton terry has significantly less stretch than the merino, so I just folded the neckline under and stitched it down. Hopefully it’s big enough too! I sewed a little twill tape tag into the back of this one, and into the back of the leggings, as they’re pretty similar. I figured that sleep deprived parents don’t need any extra puzzles when they’re trying to wrangle wriggly babies into their clothes!

The other gift was a pile of Purl Soho bibs, made up in this cute coordinating dog fabric which my mum picked out for her colleague. I made these the same as my first lot, except I used Velcro instead of press studs on these ones. Much quicker to sew on, and the parents I asked seemed to prefer Velcro for ease of use as well. I used the join between the two pages of the pattern to determine my ‘colour-blocking’ (pattern-blocking?) point, it was very easy but I think they’re pretty cute!

Winter Favourite

It’s been so cold here for the past few weeks! We’ve had a (pretty low key) cyclone sitting over the country, and so it’s been all 130 kph southerly gales and torrential rain and hail. We’ve had a few good landslides around Wellington too, as well as the usual airborne trampolines and bits of flying roofing iron. In the middle of all of that wildness, I decided I needed to make myself a new winter dress, obviously.


The pattern is McCalls 6886, which I initially overlooked as it’s a pretty basic tee dress. I’m really glad I picked it up during one of the Club BMV sales though, because it’s a nice wee pattern. I love the shaping in the side seams, and the neckline has also turned out really nicely. I probably could have lengthened a tee shirt pattern to get a similar effect, but I’m lazy and this pattern has turned out well enough that I’m glad I didn’t try!

I took an inch out of the bodice length at the top lengthen/shorten line, which I think was a good move. I’ve got a little bit of pooling above my butt, but not enough to bother me. The only other change I made was to slim the sleeves by about an inch at the wrist, tapering back to the seam allowance above the elbow. It’s pretty slim fitting through the body, I think I’d sew a narrower seam allowance through the hips if I was using a thinner or clingier fabric. This stuff is heavy enough to skim rather than get caught up on the waistband of my tights!

I cut the crew neckline, with the intention to modify it once I could try it on, but I actually really like the higher neckline. It’s much cosier than a scoop or a boatneck! I followed the instructions to turn and stitch the seam allowance to finish the neck, which I’m usually a bit leery of (I’ve had necklines stretch out really quickly when they’re finished like that), but it seems to be holding up nicely.

The fabric is a loop-back merino sweatshirting that I bought last winter from The Fabric Store. I had planned to make it into a SOI Heather dress, but the idea of having to match the stripes across those princess seams kept putting me off. I’m actually really glad I kept it for this super simple pattern, I love the way it looks and it’s really warm and comfortable!

I’m so happy with this dress, it’s got everything I like! Stripes, long sleeves, cuddly merino… I’ve been wearing it as often as I can get away with! Obviously I should make another one… I recently picked up a length of seconded fleece backed merino sweatshirting which would be lovely. It’s bright red though, so I might try dyeing it. I also think that this would be a good pattern for the printed scuba I got from Mood ages ago, it would show off that busy fabric perfectly!

(also, my image editing program gave up the ghost mid way through these pictures, which is why I have randomly appearing and disappearing power points…)

A toasty sweater

Well, winter has arrived a month early in New Zealand! There’s snow on the hills around Wellington, and a savage southerly is whipping through the city. Time to sew some of my stashed merino!

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I really wanted to make the Toaster Sweater pattern from Sew House Seven after seeing so many versions made up during the northern hemisphere winter, I love the split hem with its mitred corners and the funnel neck of version 2. I know I’m in the minority when it comes to the online sewing community, but I really hate turtle necks. I just hate having anything snug around my neck, even tightly wrapped scarves make me feel like I’m suffocating. I thought the funnel neck on this pattern would be wide enough not to freak me out though, and I was right!

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I used some merino interlock from The Fabric Store, and it is the softest, cuddliest merino I’ve ever sewn with. It has a bit more heft than most merino jersey I’ve sewn (obviously, as it’s a double knit), so I thought it might have enough body to keep the shape of the neckline but still drape nicely. I think I was mostly right, the funnel neck does sag a bit in the centre front, but I think if I had interfaced it it might have ended up too stiff.

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I cut it out in a single layer so that I could match the stripes, which was pretty successful. The merino is so soft and stretchy that it was pretty forgiving, but it was a bit tricky to keep it square as I was cutting it out. It also wanted to grow and shift as I sewed it, so I used about 15 times as many pins as I usually would when sewing a knit!

That mitred hem is possibly my favourite part. It was simple enough to sew, but looks so nice and clean! I think I’ll definitely be borrowing that part of the pattern for other tops, it will be easy enough to graft onto another hem.

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So there were a few things about this pattern which I found a bit odd. I had never heard of a double stitch before, which is the method recommended for constructing this top, but it’s when you sew a row of straight stitches and then a row of zigzags next to it. I’m sure it probably works (otherwise it wouldn’t be in the instructions, right?), but I was weirded out by it enough that I just used a narrow zigzag stitch to sew the shoulders and neckline, and then overlocked the side seams and sleeves. the hems are all top-stitched with a twin needle, as usual. I also thought it was weird that the neck facing which folds under to give the funnel shape didn’t extend to the shoulder seams, it means that it’s a bit messy around the shoulders on the inside. Its also super short! I’m really short waisted, and this is the shortest length I would want it to be. Tall sewers beware!

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If I make another Toaster Sweater 2, I think I’ll extend the facing piece so that I can catch it in the shoulder seams when I sew in the sleeves, just to keep it neat and hold down the facing a bit more securely. I think I might go down a size as well. This is the Medium, which is where my measurements put me, but I wonder if it would be a better fit in a Small. In this drapey knit I think the slightly oversized look is fine, but I have a more structured cream wool tentatively earmarked which I think would be a bit tent-like in the bigger size!

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I do like the slightly 1960’s beatnik vibe this top has, especially with my Safran Jeans and some flats. I just need to find a poetry slam or something (I wish I could find a poetry slam, does Wellington have such a thing? I so desperately wanted to see Kate Tempest in September, but she’s only doing one show while we’re in the UK and its the day before the only other thing we have tickets for. Such a bummer!) Zelda also gives it the cat-fur seal of approval, so it must be good. A few more snuggly wool tops, and the southerly can come at me!

Back in Black

This is not the post I was hoping to write this weekend! I had really hoped that I’d have my Republique du Chiffon Madeleine Dress finished for my friends 30th birthday party last night, but last weekend I was struck down with some god awful bug so I never made it past the muslin stage. I definitely did not trust myself with my gorgeous fabric and scissors when my head was so wooly and I was sneezing with such alarming force. I’m still not 100% better (I’ve still got sinus pain and a cough like a seal with a furball), but I’m functioning well enough that I managed to whip up this simple skirt on Saturday in time to be worn to the party that night. 

I am having a terrible hair day in these pictures, I have no idea what’s going on with it. It looked fine from the front!

This is the Sew Over It Tulip Skirt, made up in a cotton blend from The Fabric Store. It was super quick and simple to make, even in my less than sharp mental state. I’ve made the mini version here, though there is also a knee length version. I’d like to have a go at making one in the longer length for summer in linen or something similar. I think it probably needs to be made in a fabric with some body to hold the pleats, this cotton works really well to hold the pretty shape of the skirt.
  
The fabric is very silver on the reverse, it would be fun to use in a garment where both sides could be seen!  I’ve only used one other Sew Over It pattern (the Vintage Shirt Dress), but in both cases they are excelent patterns. The skirt went together so easily, it was lovely to sew. Unfortunately, its turned out a bit small in the waistband (as you can probably tell in these pictures), its cutting in at the top edge. I’m pretty sure this is down to my body shape rather than the pattern or sizing though! Curved waistbands often don’t sit right on my super short waist, I just don’t think there is room between the top of my hips and the bottom of my ribcage for a wide curved waistband. I might try a slightly thinner straight waistband if I make it again.
 

 

I do like this skirt though, even if it is slightly less confortable than it could be! Its cute and looks good with tights and boots or with heels for a slightly more formal look. And it has pockets! Always a big plus.

I also made my top, its another Lark tee in fine black merino ( I’ve been making a few Larks recently, but I’ll try to add them into other posts. There are only so many tee shirt posts you can read!). I chose the scoop neck and 3/4 sleeve combo this time, and added a keyhole and shell button to the back neckline because I can’t help meddling with patterns. 

  
It was a very mathematical and carefully thought out addition (not). After cutting out the back but before unfolding it, I drew around a whiskey tumbler to get a half circle centred on the fold so that the bottom of the circle was roughly level with the bottom of the armscye. Then I drew a straight line from the edge of the circle up to the central point of the neckline, then cut it out. I overlocked the edge, then ironed it under and topstitched it down with a twin needle. Then I assembled the rest of the top as usual. I sewed the neckband on flat rather than in the round, and then overlapped it slightly at the centre back and sewed the button through both layers of neckband. I was inspired by this Anthropologie top, and I think it turned out pretty well! 

 

Camilla Tee, Anthropologie. Found via pinterest.
 
Its getting to the time of year when merino tee shirts make a perfect layering item, so I’m glad to have another one in my wardrobe! 

Ahoy!

When Papercut Patterns released their latest collection, the Bowline Sweater immediately jumped out at me. I love a good sweatshirt, and the striped sample they had sewed up just made me happy. My Aunt gave me a voucher for The Fabric Store for my birthday, so I made good use of it and picked up the pattern and some navy merino fleece backed sweatshirting. I will admit that I really wanted stripes, but I managed to reign myself in and go for a solid colour. My wardrobe is bordering on too many stripes (if there is such a thing), I need some plain things to match them with!

  

Firstly, the fabric. It is so lovely! Its a lighter weight than the sweatshirting I used last winter for my maroon Linden Sweatshirt, but is still lovely and soft and fluffy. It was really easy to work with, not too thick for my overlocker to munch through the several layers at the point where the neckband, shoulder seam and pleat meet. The brushed inner face makes it so nice to wear, and its warm and breathable and just everythingthing you’d expect from merino. (They don’t have this exact fabric on their online store, but they do have it in black, if you’re interested…)

   
 
Sewing this up was fun! The front pattern piece looks like one of those mystery patterns you get in Drape Drape or other oragami-esque Japanese patterns, but it all sewed together easily enough. The instructions are really clear and easy to follow, as I’ve come to expect from Papercut. I did take an inch off the bottom before I sewed the hem band on, and an inch off the end of the sleeves and off the cuffs (2″ off total). I always think I have proportionally long arms, until I make Papercut patterns! I like the length of the sleeves now, just long enough to tuck my fingers into, but not long enough to look sloppy. 

  
Possibly could have done with some sort of sway back type adjustment, but its a sweatshirt so I can’t get too hung up over it! I’ve worn it several times since it was finished, its a nice weight to throw on for my walk to the train station in the morning. I like wearing it with my jeans or with my casual skirts (like this Moss Mini) equally.

  
I had a terrible time taking photos today, the auto focus on my camera just wasn’t playing nice. I had a couple of pictures turn out like the one above, and the rest seem to be in slightly soft focus. I had hoped to take these photos down by the waterfront or somewhere suitably nautical, but our good weather finally seems to have given way to some much needed rain, so my trusty teal wall will just have to do! I also seem to have cut the top of my head off in all but one of these photos, just an all round bad day for photography.
 
There might be something of a hiatus here over the next month, I have some school work do do and some sewing for others that has been sorely neglected! I also desperately need to tidy my sewing space before anything will happen in there, its like a mini tornado has rampaged through it…