Thursday, 11 February 2021

Make Nine Challenge 2021

With lock downs, shielding and curfews nothing feels normal at the moment and I don't know about you but my timeframe is all over the place. So although we're already well into February I still want to share with you my Make Nine Challenge choices for 2021.

I have to come clean and admit that I only completed 4 of last years challenge projects. I sewed a lot but didn't stick to the original plan. Why? Well, firstly I got tempted seeing other peoples gorgeous makes on social media and as 2020 revealed itself my wardrobe priorities and needs changed. I'm sure this happened to you too. 

I've put a lot more thought and planning into my choices for 2021. My aim is to make coordinated pieces in terms of style, colour and fabric choice. An equally important objective is to include projects to develop my technical skills. I have retained some projects from last year as I still really want to make them.

Make Nine Challenge 2021

Here's a run down of my choices for 2021, and why they made it to the list.

Cocoon Coat by Sew Over It


I love the easy simple lines of this on trend Cocoon Coat by Sew Over It. It's very versatile dressed down with jeans and a long sleeved tee for a casual look or vamped up with a retro dress and heels. As my first ever coat project the dropped shoulders and lack of fastenings make it a relatively straight forward introduction to coat making and tailoring techniques. I am going to add the optional welt pockets which increases the technical challenge. This project represents lots of firsts for me. Coat making, interlining, inserting welt pockets, plus cutting and sewing thick coating fabric and layers. 

At 5'2" I will also need to shorten the sleeves on a dropped shoulder garment whilst maintaining visual balance between sleeve and shoulder seam. I don't want a shoulder seam which falls at my elbow as it would look odd, but I will probably need to lose around 3" from the sleeve length. The same goes for placement of the welt pockets as I'm petite. So lots to think about at the pattern alteration and cutting stage.

1940s Tea Dress by Sew Over It


I do love the inhouse retro style of Sew Over It. Their iconic 1940s Tea Dress was on the list last year. It's going to require some work to fit the bodice in a woven fabric and so I put it off because of weight I'd gained due to medication. 

Living through Covid has changed my outlook quite a bit. Life's too short to wait for this or that thing to be perfect. The time is now! So I'm going to make this dress for the shape and the woman I am today. It's time to embrace those curves! 

Long Sleeve Shirt McCalls M6436



I picked this pattern because I like the relaxed fit and I've yet to make a shirt. With my new found confidence in making buttonholes I really want to give shirt making a try. As well as fitting and constructing a collar and stand, the big challenge here will be handling tricky fabric. Recommended fabrics are Crepe de Chine, Challis and Charmeuse all potentially difficult fabrics to sew with. Wish me luck!  

Antrim Dress by Itch to Stitch


This beauty made it to the list because I really need a smart wrap dress in my summer wardrobe. I loved the Itch to Stitch Uvita top pattern, which is so well drafted, and I'm keen to try something else by this designer. I love the styling of the Antrim Dress and the pattern includes cup size options (aff link). So no fretting about making a full bust adjustment. How fabulous is that!

Carolyn Pyjamas by Closet Core


I keep seeing gorgeous versions of the stylish Carolyn Pyjamas popping up all over social media and I need a pair! For my first attempt I'm going to make them in a cosy soft brushed cotton. The fabric has a check so there will be the added challenge of pattern matching. Some firsts here include piping and shirt construction. I intend to make these pyjamas before making the McCalls shirt to practice some of the techniques. If all goes well I'm already thinking of a second pair in a luxurious Liberty Lawn Cotton with short sleeves for summer.  

Ginger Jeans by Closet Core


I've heard such amazing things about the Ginger Jeans and really want to try to make the perfect fitting jean for myself. I've picked the Mid-Rise version pattern but there are also Flared and a High-Rise Skinny pattern options to chose from. Besides the obvious fitting challenge there are some big technical tests here for both me and my sewing machine; sewing thick fabric, dealing with layers and achieving professional looking beautiful topstitching. No pressure then! 

Stella Hoodie & Joggers by Tilly & the Buttons


These made it to the list because the Stella Hoodie & Jogger combo are just so gorgeous and I desperately need some pretty loungewear (aff link). I've already purchased some lovely soft light blue sweatshirt fabric from Minerva and once I've checked out fitting issues I'm good to go. I tried to make joggers once before and they were a disaster. The fitting around the crotch was all wrong and I could not get it right. So far I've found TATB patterns to be exceptionally well drafted and so I have high hopes for fitting these joggers. Can't wait to share them with you.

Ultimate Trousers & Pussy Bow Blouse


Another project that's been on the list since last year the Ultimate Trousers and the Pussy Bow Blouse. With nowhere to go I never got around to making this smart blouse and trouser combo. Technically two garments but I want to achieve a coordinated outfit with these two lovelies so I will plan them together. 

Trousers are my nemesis so during a resent sale I treated myself to the Ultimate Guide to Sewing & Fitting Trousers Classic Course from Sew Over It. The course covers both the Carrie Trousers and the Ultimate Trousers and the patterns are included in the cost. 

Galena Dress by Little Lizard King

Finally, the Galena Dress is a fabulous new free pattern from Little Lizard King a designer I had only really associated with children's clothes, but I was wrong! With fabulous, on trend, bishop sleeves, pretty gathered sleeve caps and flattering raised waistline this is a fantastic freebie! I've already made a start on mine and made a toile of the bodice and bishop sleeve to check fit. So I'm ready to cut and sew my Galena in this pretty floral double brushed poly from Knitpop who have a fabulous selection of stretch fabrics (aff link).



I know it's being greedy but I will also sneak in a Cielo top and dress ... I just have to have THOSE sleeves in my life! 


I'm planning the dress in a fabulous dark blue 100 % linen from Pound Fabrics UK, and the top in a luxurious Atelier Brunette drapey viscose. 

Looks like it's going to be a busy year ahead. I hope you had as much fun picking your nine as I did and if you haven't decided on yours yet than perhaps my list has inspired you. 

I'm feeling very excited and rearing to go so I guess I better get in the sewing room and carry on sewing!

See you all soon
Linda x



This blog article contains some affiliate links to products. Where this is the case links are marked (aff link). The item doesn't cost you more to buy but I do get a small commission enabling me to keep bringing you pattern and product reviews. The views expressed in this blog article are entirely my own. 



Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Sew Over It Erin Skirt & Tilly And The Buttons Freya Sweater Pattern Reviews


Hello sewing doves and a slightly belated welcome to 2021. I haven't been lazy I've just been busy slow sewing...as always! 

A personal challenge for 2020 was to sew a more co-ordinated wardrobe. I had made plenty of new garments in 2019 but ended up with a lot of separates which just didn't go together. A problem with buying random fabric and patterns just because at the moment you see them they are so gorgeous you can't live without them. Hands up who isn't guilty of that! 

During 2020 I tried to adopt a more co-ordinated approach to planning and sewing. It hasn't always worked but I'm getting better and I want to carry that ethos into 2021. 

So let's take a look at two garments I completed this week to make a co-ordinated outfit.

Erin Skirt by Sew Over It : Pattern Review

The Erin skirt was one of my Make Nine Challenge garments for 2019. I kept putting it off, because it involved putting in buttonholes which I hadn't done before and also because at my age I only wear above the knee skirts in deepest winter with thick woolly tights! 

This really cute front buttoning, straight, denim style skirt is a versatile staple for both your winter and summer wardrobes. Best of all it has pockets and who doesn't love pockets. Straight away that made it a winner for me.

The Erin skirt is one of five pdf patterns included in the Sew Over It City Break ebook. Retailing at £25 I'd say that's great value. 

Fabric

The pattern is designed for wovens and I've made both mine in needlecord but it would be equally fabulous in a medium weight denim or a lovely cool linen for summer.

The first version is in a cute ditsy floral turquoise needlecord which I've teamed here with a co-ordinating navy ponte Audrey top with retro neck bow detail, also by Sew Over It. 

I loved the skirt so much that I immediately made a second version in this pretty, deep red needlecord from Pound Fabrics UK. A snip at just £5.50 a meter!  

Options

With classic denim skirt style features the Erin is a hugely versatile wardrobe staple. Choose between the short length for a cute casual look or the just below knee length for a more elegant city chic. I opted for the shorter length to pair with woolly tights and knee boots. 

Size

This pattern sizes from a UK 8 - 20. Not the most inclusive size range however SOI are currently working on extending their siez range. Let's hope this will include the Erin Skirt.

With a 32" waist (size 12/14) and a 37" hip (size 8/10) I find it almost impossible to buy ready to wear fitted skirts. Either they fit on the waist and swamp my hips or fit my hips and I can't do the waist up.  

You can imagine how excited I am to finally have a "made for me" skirt which fits both comfortably at the waist and hips. I can even tuck in my top with no nasty overhang because the waist is too tight. Something I've rarely been able to do! Happy bunny! 

Following the pattern recommendations I made a size 12 waist grading down to a 10 hip allowing room for a lining, which isn't included in the pattern, and room to wear thick tights.

Sewing Level & Challenges

SOI describe the Erin as a beginners pattern. It does involve making buttonholes so I would say this is for an advanced beginner and I wouldn't recommend it as a first sewing project.

Specific sewing challenges include; sewn on waistband, inserting front hip pockets, making buttonholes and top stitching.

Lining

Although not part of the original pattern I decided to fully line the skirt so it would hang nicely with tights underneath. This wasn't complicated to do. I cut the skirt pattern again in the lining fabric and sewed it up before I made the skirt button placket or attached the waistband. I also used the lining fabric to make the inside part of the pocket and so cut down on bulk at the hips.

Having hemmed the lining, a little shorter than the skirt would eventually be, I basted it to the top of the assembled front and back skirt pieces. I then folded it into the placket at either side before sewing the placket down. The lining was then sewn into the waistband along with the main skirt. Not complicated but you do need to think about where to include it in the pattern instruction steps.

I used a patterned fabric and pattern matched the skirt front with the the pocket back. Something to consider at the layout and cutting stage.

So proud of my pattern matching

Large waist adjustment with front hip pockets             

A specific challenge for me was the need to grade between a 12 waist and a 10 hip. Usually a straight forward adjustment but complicated by the front hip pocket construction. 


I followed this excellent tutorial by Professor Pincushion which talks you step by step through the pivot and slide method to make this adjustment. The pattern needed to be let out on the skirt front piece, the pocket inset and the waistband. This straight forward tutorial shows you how to do this accurately so the front of your skirt still lays nice and smooth and flat. I'm delighted with the results. 

Professor Pincushion has many really fantastic tutorials on a whole range of sewing techniques. It's really worth subscribing to her channel on Youtube.

Buttonhole construction

So we arrive at the the part I was most afraid of with this project, making buttonholes. I don't know how, but in 3 years of dressmaking I have managed to avoid them 😉 I've sewed lots of stretch projects and tie wraps so just hadn't had to do any. Now I found myself facing not one but six buttonholes. 

Luckily my Janome 230DC has a great automatic buttonhole feature and foot. The button slots neatly into the back of the foot and guides the size of the buttonhole as it's sewn. The automatic setting takes all the guesswork out of getting the size right and ensures the same perfect buttonhole consistently time after time. 

However you still need to measure and accurately position them on the placard. It really does pay to practice several on scraps of your garment fabric. It's a good idea to fold it to recreate the same fabric thickness on which you are going to sew the real buttonholes. Also sew in the same direction on the fabric as you will do your real ones. Particularly important when using fabric like corduroy as it will handle differently depending on if you sew with the wales or across. It's worth remembering when planning placement that when using the automatic buttonhole function your machine will sew backwards from the starting point! 

I'm really happy with the finished result and although I did still break out in a wee bit of a cold sweat whilst sewing them I did wonder what I had been so terrified of. I now have a new found confidence to tackle many more and planning on making a few blouses! 

If like me you've been avoiding buttonholes don't wait any longer. Grab some scraps and dive right in the water's lovely! 


Overall I'm so proud of my two Erin Skirts. Tackling this project added some new techniques to my sewing skills kitbag, including; large waist adjustment, buttonholes and sewn on waistbands. All things I wanted to try before tackling my first pair of jeans later this year. A relatively simple project with a well drafted pattern and clear instructions. I really rate the Erin as a cute and stylish wardrobe staple which is now firmly one of my tried and true patterns. 

Freya Sweater by Tilly & The Buttons: Pattern Review 


Now to the second part of my outfit, the fabulous Freya Sweater by Tilly And The Buttons. With simple close fitting lines and contemporary turtleneck the Freya is another versatile and stylish wardrobe staple. The pattern for this gorgeous top can be found in Tilly's Stretch! book (aff link). 

Courtesy of Tilly Walnes

After seeing so many pretty Stella Hoodies everywhere on social media I decided to treat myself to a copy. Beautifully illustrated and containing full size patterns, Tilly takes us step by step through the tools and techniques needed to successfully sew stretch fabrics on both a standard sewing machine or an overlocker. There are useful sections on fabric choice and preparation.  In total the book contains 5 on trend projects, all of which I want to make, plus lots of ideas on how to hack each one and make it your own. I've already made the Bibi skirt which I love and now the Freya Top. This super book is available on Amazon (aff link).

Pattern Sizing

Tilly has her own sizing structure ranging 1 - 6. I like this as it stops comparisions being drawn with RTW sizes. Also, I often get confused as to whether patterns are in UK or US sizes. Using a 1 - 6 numbering system simplifies all that.

However the sizing isn't the most inclusive I'm afraid:

Size 1:  30"/76cm bust  /  24"/61cm waist / 33"/84cm hip
Size 6:  44"/112cm bust  /  38"/96.5cm waist  /  47"/119.5cm hip  

I made a size 4 bust & hip grading down to a 3 at the shoulders and out to a 4.5 at the waist. These are standard alterations for me. Normally, being a petite 5'2", I usually need to shorten sleeves by up to 2 to 3 inches. Amazingly I didn't have to shorten at all on this pattern. Something to check out before cutting if you are of standard to tall height.  


Fabric

Light to medium weight sweater knits, jersey or ponte with at least 25% crosswise stretch are recommended. I wanted a base layer garment and so chose this dark grey and black stripe, light weight, drapey, viscose jersey  from Minerva. Despite it being inexpensive at £4.99 a meter I am really pleased with the quality and luxurious feel. 

Options

The Freya can be made as either a close fitting top or an A-line dress with a choice of 3 sleeve lengths. There are further suggestions to personalise the look including instructions for a sweet front bodice ruffle and cowl neck options. 

Courtesy of Tilly Walnes

Sewing Level & Challenges

The Freya is very simple and quick to make. A perfect starter project for someone new to sewing or new to sewing knits but still a satisfying sew for the more experienced sewer looking for a great wardrobe builder or looking to experiment with different fabrics types or designs. The illustrated instructions are clear, step by step and easy to follow. The book contains lots of additional guidance on sewing with knits to ensure the success of your project.

I chose this project because of it's simplicity, enabling me to concentrate fully on my first attempt at stripe matching without having to worry about complicated construction or fit issues.


Stripe Matching

Stretch! has an excellent section on stripe matching which guides you through the process which begins at pattern placement. A good result requires time, accuracy and careful attention to detail.  

I started by laying the fabric flat and unfolded right side up so I could clearly see the stripes. I began with the front bodice piece which needs to be cut on the fold. I laid the piece and marked on the pattern the bottom of every black stripe and then cut. I marked where the "foldline" of the pattern was on the fabric and carefully turned it over to mirror the piece already cut. I then matched each black stripe bottom on the fabric with the markings on the pattern. Using the front pattern piece as the template I then transferred the stripe markings onto the back pattern piece and repeated the process.  


Following the suggested method in Stretch! I picked one stripe in the middle of the sleeve head to match across the upper bodice. With fabric pieces curving in different ways its impossible to match them all so best to chose a prominent stripe to create visual harmony. A clever tip to ensure stripes meet perfectly at the stitch line is contained in the book. 


To get the perfect finish it's important that the layers of fabric don't move whilst sewing or serging. I took extra care here and firstly pinned every stripe together before machine basting and finally serging my seams. I strongly suggest doing one or both.

I did have a bit of a disaster when serging the first sleeve head to the bodice. The sleeves are inserted on the flat which means you sew the shoulders and then insert the sleeve heads before finally sewing the side and sleeve seams in a continuous line.

I basted in the sleeve heads...so far so good... and then began serging, cutter engaged as the seam allowance was greater than my serger stitch depth. With the bodice fabric to the bottom I just didn't notice the fabric had gathered up underneath due to the curves until I was chopping into the bodice! 

You can imagine the screaming and wailing that ensued after all the time taken to accurately cut, pin and baste all those stripes! 





































Lucky I quickly realised what was happening and so the extent of the damage wasn't too great. I managed to hide most of the cut in the seam allowance and delicately hand sewed the rest closed. I reinforced the hand stitches with some Stop Fray Fabric Glue (aff link) to the applied to the fabric wrong side which dries invisible. Also it's on the back of the garment so I don't think it's really noticeable ..... and if anyone can see it then they're just too close! 


Lessons learned: Firstly to be very carefull in future when serging fine fabrics to be sure they are laying flat before serging with the blades engaged. Secondly to stop sewing when tired as this is when most mistakes happen.


I'm so delighted with my stripe matching on this project. It was a labour of love but very satisfying to see the end result. My next challenge will be checks! 


Finally.....

I hope this has inspired you to try either or both of these great patterns. I will definitely be making more as they are such great wardrobe builders. I'm already planning a Freya dress with a cowl neck in a heavier fabric like Ponte or a cosy sweater knit. 

See you soon
Love
Linda x


Links

Skirt Pattern:  The Erin Skirt is in Sew Over It City Break ebook

Skirt Fabric:    Red corduroy Pound Fabrics UK available in red, grey or navy

                       Turquoise corduroy  Pygmalion in Cahors, France

Top Pattern:    Freya Sweater & Dress Pattern in Stretch! by Tilly Walnes (aff link)

Top Fabric:      Viscose Jersey from Minerva 

This blog article contains some affiliate links to products. Where this is the case links are marked (aff link). The item doesn't cost you more to buy but I do get a small commission enabling me to keep bringing you pattern and product reviews. The views expressed in this blog article are entirely my own. 













Make Nine Challenge 2021

With lock downs, shielding and curfews nothing feels normal at the moment and I don't know about you but my timeframe is all over the pl...