Posts tagged "sewing"

Flannel Carolyn pyjamas

sewing

I like to have a sewing project to tackle when I’m on holiday, so this has been a chance for me to tackle a long-planned project: making a pair of Carolyn pyjamas from cotton flannel.

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Wiksten Haori jacket

sewing

It seems that I’m not alone in the sewing world in having slightly lost my sewing mojo (or ‘sewjo’) recently. It’s not that I have completely stopped sewing: I made a birthday shirt, another pair of Persephone sailor trousers, and an (un-blogged) pair of Lycra workout leggings, as well as many masks and my keyboard mat, though the latter barely counts as sewing. Those items are obviously not nothing, but the output is less than I would normally have sewn in a comparable period. I certainly don’t have more spare time than I would normally have. Even though I have been working from home, my home office is my sewing room and vice-versa, and unfortunately not big enough to be set up for both functions simultaneously, otherwise I might have been able to take a short breaks to do 20 minutes or so of sewing in my day and get away from the screen. Mostly, I think the problem has been that while I enjoy the sewing process itself enormously, my main impetus to sew is to produce clothes to wear in the presence of other people, and those opportunities have been severely lacking since March. Recently, I wanted to make something cosy and comforting, but which would also look fairly smart on work calls, and so I decided to make a Wiksten Haori jacket.

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A shelf and keyboard mat for my desk

sewing geekery

I was thinking the other day that I am incredibly grateful that past me (back in September last year, which seems about a decade ago) decided to take the plunge and buy a proper sit-stand desk. Like many people, I’ve been basically living at this desk for six months (though I’m very lucky to be able to work from home), so it has been fantastic to have a good, ergonomic setup which allows me to change position throughout the day. It doesn’t make endless Zoom meetings any more bearable, but my body does thank me at the end of the day.

I’ve made a couple more tweaks recently to improve things further: I’ve added a home-made desk shelf and a felt/cork keyboard mat.

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Linen Persephone sailor trousers

sewing

I haven’t sewn as much as I thought I might during lockdown — partly because I’ve been busier with work than I expected — but what I have sewn has been a joy and something to be savoured. This weekend I finished making a second pair of Persephone Sailor Pants, this time using some lovely linen mix fabric from Clothspot.

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Making things in isolation

sewing life

Well. I don’t want to dwell, but I can’t avoid the elephant in the room. This wasn’t — to put it simply — the 50th birthday I would have imagined only a few weeks ago. I’ve had Happy Birthday sung to me on a WhatsApp voice recording, lots of lovely messages and phone calls from friends and family, and I’ve had the fun of finishing sewing this chunk of riotous colour: a Granville shirt by Sewaholic.

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Tweed waistcoat

sewing

A while ago, I bought a length of lovely charcoal herringbone wool tweed fabric from ClothSpot. At the time, I was vaguely thinking about making the longer version of the Arielle Skirt by Tilly and the Buttons, which I have already made successfully in denim. As I thought more about it, I reflected that I am not really a tweed skirt kinda gal, at least not in a sober colour like grey. I have long harboured an ambition to make something a bit unexpected like a biker jacket out of one of the very vibrant colours of Harris tweed, but this was not that occasion. Eventually I settled on making a proper tweed waistcoat.

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Silk noil Kalle shirt

sewing

While I was on holiday, I made another Closet Case Patterns Kalle shirt. It’s fair to say that this pattern is becoming what sewists refer to as a ‘TNT (tried ‘n’ true) pattern’. This shirt is now the fourth Kalle I have made. However, the various pattern variations (length, button placket or tunic, collar or collarless, and so on), combined with the way that garments made from the same pattern can look completely different in different fabric means that my obsession with this pattern is not immediately obvious to the casual observer.

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Self-drafted sleeveless top

sewing

Last weekend I finished drafting a pattern for a simple sleeveless top and then sewed up the pattern. It turned out pretty well in the end, but it wasn’t without a bit of drama.

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Feeling the fear and sewing anyway

sewing

If you follow me over on Micro.blog you may have seen this post a couple of weekends ago. I had decided to try to make a dress using instructions from one of the Pattern Magic books by Tomoko Nakamichi. As if that wasn’t daunting enough, I decided to make it out of a sentimentally special fabric, and for a special event happening the next weekend. Sewing isn’t (usually) an adrenaline sport, but it was quite a nerve-wracking experience, but one which happily worked out well in the end.

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Sewing 1911 style

sewing

I have been looking for a treadle cabinet for my Singer 201K for a while. The electric motor is perfectly fine, but I was curious to see what it would be like to power it entirely with my feet. A cabinet or table would also mean that I could store the machine in the table, and when using it, the bed of the machine would be flush with the table surface, which is ergonomically much better, and means you have more control over the fabric as it goes under the presser foot. I have a dual-purpose machine/cutting table for my modern Janome machine, which fits in a cutout in the table with a perspex insert. I have found that flush-mounting the machine in this way has made my sewing more accurate. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I found a beauty of a cabinet and a lovely vintage machine into the bargain. Read on for all the details!

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Persephone Sailor trousers

sewing

I might not have written much about sewing recently, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been sewing. I’ve made a few things that I haven’t got around to blogging about, but a few weeks ago, I finished a pair of Persephone Sailor Pants (a pattern by Anna Allen) which I’m really pleased with. However, the making was not without incident. Part of my reason for writing this is so that I might remember not to be such a blithering idiot in future.

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Backward looking fashion

sewing mumblings
Finding myself in that rare position of having an unspent book token recently, I was browsing around in a bookshop and picked up 19th-Century Fashion in Detail by Lucy Johnston. Now, the idea that I would look twice at any book with the word ‘fashion’ in the title would have made me roar with laughter a few years ago, but since I started sewing, I have become fascinated by construction techniques, and with borrowing ideas from previous periods in which different body shapes were celebrated. Continue reading →

Jeans and freedom

sewing mumblings

Morgan jeans - closeup of front

“Can girls wear trousers too?”

I remember it with great clarity. I was about four years old, my Dad holding me up at the window, as we looked out at the street. I had seen a girl, wearing jeans, walking down the street, and the though suddenly struck me for the first time. When my Dad answered that of course girls could wear trousers, it was like the sun coming out. I really wanted to wear trousers, and had no idea that I could. That was the beginning of my love affair with jeans.

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Sewing frenzy

sewing

I’ve just come out the other side of a bit of a frantic period of sewing. My brother is getting married next week, and so of course I wanted to make something nice to wear. Naturally, I have known the date of the wedding for ages, so I had plenty of time to plan what I wanted to make, and sew in a relaxed and leisurely way. Did I do that? Reader, I think we both know the answer that that rhetorical question. I did not. I waited until about a month before the wedding before starting my dress, then made some stupid decisions about a top layer, panicked, and ended up going on a three-day sewing bender less than a week before the wedding.

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Kalle and Flint

sewing

Kalle tunic

As I make progress with my sewing, I’m trying to be a bit more strategic about what I make. When you start out, the giddy excitement of actually making things means that you flit between patterns, making anything shiny that catches your eye. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (and it’s certainly fun), but I’ve been trying to plan a bit more thoughtfully, and think about what kinds of garments I need to give me maximum flexibility. I’ve also tried to slow down a bit, and make each item as polished as I possibly can.

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Singer 201K

sewing

Singer 201K

You might think that one sewing machine should be enough for anyone. I have a very nice, modern, computerised, Janome sewing machine (not to mention an overlocker for finishing seams and sewing stretch fabrics), and I’m very happy with it. It sews all kinds of stitches very competently (including zig-zag stitches), and has some useful features like stopping with the needle down (or up), so that you can easily pivot around corners, pulling the bobbin thread up automatically, and even snipping the threads automatically. And yet, I found myself browsing vintage straight stitch-only machines.

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Displacement activity: the French Dart Shift Tunic

sewing

Maven Patterns French Dart Shift Tunic front

Well. That was a distressing, bewildering, enraging, and terrifying week. I don’t even know where to start with it. In response, I seem to have diverted into temporary displacement activity: who else would like to join me in a few moments of thinking about something other than the state of the world? I made a very red, very corduroy tunic: the French Dart Shift Tunic by Maven Patterns.

At the start of the winter, I had a plan to make a warm winter dress. My first idea was to make a corduroy pinafore dress, an idea that rather surprised me. I think I last wore a pinafore dress when I was about 5 years old. In fact, I have a photograph of me wearing it, with a ribbed polo neck jumper underneath, and a puddingbowl haircut with slightly wonky fringe above. I’m vaguely aware that they have become somewhat fashionable recently, but that wasn’t why I wanted to make one. I was after a dress that I could wear a thick layer (like a jumper or long-sleeved t-shirt) underneath, rather than covering up the dress with a cardigan. I was ready to try to draft something myself, when I saw another alternative that I could wear in the same way: Maven Patterns French Dart Shift Tunic.

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Ms Blue Cardigan meet Mr Blue Sky

sewing music

2016 is certainly not getting any easier as it drags on, is it? Like many people, I’m finding it hard not to get anxious and disturbed by every new revelation or outrage on the news. There are certainly plenty of issues about which it is absolutely right and proper to get anxious, disturbed and angry, but there comes a time when you need to switch off for a bit. Personally, I find solace in both music and making things.

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Gingers for cycling

sewing cycling

Front of cycling Gingers

My latest sewing project unites my love of sewing with my love of cycling: a pair of Ginger jeans made from showerproof, windproof, softshell fabric for winter cycling. I used the Ginger pattern because I’ve made it a couple of times before and know that it fits me well, and because it is intended for stretch denim, and the softshell fabric I bought has a similar amount of stretch. This is a project I’ve had planned for quite some time, and while I’m very happy with the result, it was a project fraught with difficulties.

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Making a Bunka-style sloper

sewing

I have been wanting to buy a couple of the Pattern Magic pattern cutting books for a while. The author, Tomoko Nakamichi, is a professor at the Bunka Fashion College in Japan. These books distil the methods taught at the school for creating slopers, and adds her wonderful creativity, playfulness and incredible ability to wrangle fabric into improbable forms. They have fairly recently been translated into English, but I wanted to take a look inside one before committing to a purchase. Last week, I managed to find copies in Waterstones, and instantly blew a book token I had been hoarding since my birthday on buying the first and second books.

The patterns in the book are based on the so-called ‘Bunka sloper’ as a starting point, and the instructions and figures in the book show you — with incredible precision and economy1 — how to alter the sloper to get the designs depicted. There was only one problem: the Bunka sloper is based on the average body dimensions of young Japanese women, and my middle-aged Western body is very far from that kind of shape (more’s the pity). Would the sloper work for me?

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Self-drafted shirt version 2.0

sewing

Full view of shirt as worn

I remember learning at University about the intricate mechanisms involved in embryonic development. So many processes have to happen at just the right time, in just the right order, and in just the right amount to produce — for example — five separate digits on the end of the hand that it amazed me that any of us are born with the ‘standard’ body plan at all. Since I started fitting patterns, and more recently drafting patterns myself from scratch, I’ve been experiencing the same kind of wonderment: how did I ever buy anything ready made that even vaguely fitted me, when there are so many variables to account for?

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Carolyn pyjamas

sewing

Carolyn pyjamas

My latest sewing project has been a lot of fun: Carolyn pyjamas. I’m normally a t-shirt and jersey pyjama trousers kind of person, but I was taken with this pattern for ‘posh pyjamas’. I bought the pattern, and then around my birthday, I made a special visit to John Lewis to get some fabric befitting of such fancy night attire.

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Ginger Jeans 2

sewing

Ginger jeans

I’ve just finished another pair of Ginger Jeans, this time the high-waisted View B version.

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Self-drafted shirt

sewing

This past week, I finally finished a sewing project that has taken a long time, but which will hopefully be just the start of new sewing adventures: I finished making a shirt from a self-drafted pattern. Apologies for the terrible quality of the photos below. The light has been terrible for photography today!

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Drafting Hobbit trousers

sewing

When I last wrote about drafting patterns, I had made a muslin of my first draft and adapted the pattern to take into account my oddly-shaped legs, but had run out of muslin to test whether the modifications had worked1. In the intervening period, I’ve made a second muslin, drafted a long shorts pattern from the resulting sloper, and made the shorts. It all went swimmingly.

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Drafting patterns

sewing
When I started sewing, I never thought that I would have a go at drafting patterns, but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the past few days. When you draft a pattern, you start with your measurements (or the measurements of whoever you are making clothes for), and a blank piece of paper, and you create a pattern from scratch. It has always seemed like a really daunting process, but I came across a series of classes on Craftsy. Continue reading →

Latest sewing projects

sewing
I haven’t written much about sewing recently, but that’s mostly because I’ve been too busy doing it to write about it! I thought it might be time to do a round up of what I’ve been making recently, as much to remind me what I have made as anything else. Earlier in the year, I attended a wedding. Some of you may remember the extreme reluctance with which I approached the prospect of having to go clothes shopping when I found myself in a similar situation a few years ago. Continue reading →

Abracada-Bra

sewing
I was planning to give everyone a break from my rattling on about sewing this week and write about something else, but then I went and made a bra, and apparently, I can’t shut up about it1. If you wear a bra, you know that all bras go bad. It may start the day feeling comfortable, but by the end of the day, you feel as if you’re being pinched and stabbed by tiny, bad-tempered demons. Continue reading →

A second pair of jeans

sewing
After getting a bit of confidence with my last pair of jeans-style trousers made in cotton twill, I was keen to tackle a pair in real denim. I got some dark indigo, non-stretch denim from the Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham, and planned the changes I would make from the last pair. Real jeans have a yoke rather than darts to shape the back, so I decided to modify the Thurlow pattern a bit to convert the back dart to a yoke piece. Continue reading →

Making jeans

sewing
Before I started making my own clothes, I lived in jeans as much as possible. Not that it was easy to find jeans to fit me — it certainly wasn’t — but I have always felt comfortable in jeans, and they were my fallback position for clothing my southern slopes. Now that I’m making clothes, I’ve started wearing more skirts and even dresses1, but I still love jeans. Unfortunately, I’m down to my last pair of intact ready-made jeans, so the situation was a bit desperate. Continue reading →

Sewing progress

sewing mumblings
A couple of months ago I wrote about my adventures learning to sew. I haven’t been idle since then, and have been busily making more clothes. I’ve learned two things about myself in this process, one of which has surprised me, and the other which has not. The first (unsurprising) thing is that I have found that I’ve loved learning a completely new skill. I like learning things in general (it’s difficult to be an academic if you don’t), but I’ve been hoovering up tips and techniques like it’s going out of style. Continue reading →

Learning to sew

sewing mumblings
I mentioned last month that I was going to start making my own clothes. Most weekends (and some evenings) since then, I have been doing just that. It has been enormous fun, occasionally frustrating, and very rewarding. Here’s what I’ve made — and what I’ve learned — so far. This is pretty long, so if you like, you can skip down to The start, which is naturally at the bottom. Continue reading →