Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Summer jacket

Well, I don't know how it is with you, but the thing I always have bother with, and I mean REAL bother with, is finding jackets and coats to fit me. I'm talking decades of bother! I'm tall at 5'9", I have really long arms and quite broad shoulders and basically ready to wear jackets and coats just Do Not Fit. I once took my friend with me to shop for summer jacket. We're still friends and if I want to joke with her I'll threaten that we should repeat the shopping trip. I had to throw out the summer jacket we bought on that one trip. It had done well, lasting 7 years. So I decided I just had to sew one...

After extensive internet searching, I came across Waffle patterns Tosti jacket. It has everything I like in a summer jacket - funnel neck, lots of pocket designs to choose from, set in sleeves, interesting two piece sleeves, shoulder tabs, poppers, zip....and then I saw this version on Handmade by Carolyn. She had sewn it in cotton drill and I loved the green but couldn't find it in local shops. I did however, find this burgundy cotton twill so the plan was sorted! It took a while to gather the supplies together and pre-wash everything though.

There were lots of pages to print off. I think just under 100, including the instructions, separate lining pattern pieces, a whole file for all the pockets available and of course the outer fabric pattern pieces. Then there was the taping together. Then the cutting out. I don't trace if I can possibly avoid it, I'd rather print off more pages. Then came the alterations. I added about 3" to the body length, 2" to sleeve length and did a 2" FBA. Phew! Then came the cutting out which took a while....

The instructions are good and there are illustrations for most of the steps. It certainly is an undertaking, a serious project, to create a new, fully lined jacket or coat even without using any tailoring techniques. I did, of course, make a muslin for this new-to-me pattern but didn't need to make any changes.

For the lining I used black 100% cupro lining from John Lewis (at £12 a metre it was more expensive than the £8 a metre cotton drill of the outer fabric, but totally worth it) I wanted the jacket to be breathable, with the cotton outer layer and cupro lining. I used medium iron on black interfacing for the front zip flaps, pocket flaps and the bellows pockets (but not the concertina sides of the bellows pockets). I also added the same interfacing around the body hem and sleeve hems and reinforced the places I sewed on the pockets and pocket flaps. I used horsehair iron on interfacing on both of the collar pieces and this has worked really well. The collar sits up and doesn't flop about.

I added bellows pockets and spent about a whole morning making them. I interfaced and lined the pocket fronts but the pattern doesn't tell you to do this. When sewing the pockets onto the jacket, I just couldn't sew the concertina bellows edge all the way down to the bottom edge of the pocket. There's about an inch gap on each edge but I just won't put anything small in them! I omitted the interior welt pocket in the jacket lining and just cut two facings instead and right facings. I also made such a botch-up of sewing the metal zip within the opening for the sleeve pocket that I threw it in the bin and didn't bother making another.

I really like my new jacket and enjoy wearing it. There are a few small details I'd perhaps do differently next time but it's totally wearable and in a lovely colour. Realistically I'll probably get a few weeks more wearing it before I feel autumn coming, usually at the very beginning of September. I'd like to make the Tosti as a more trans-seasonal, autumnal jacket, maybe with a thin padded lining for a layer of warmth. Guess what? I think I've convinced myself that I really need a new autumnal jacket! Mind you, autumn sometimes doesn't feel so far away...when taking these pictures the wind gusts blew my tripod over! Time to head indoors....

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Too cool for School!

Ah people, I've been looking forward to writing this post for a while! This is my second make for the Vintage Pattern Pledge organised by Marie from The Stitching Odyssey and Kerry from Kestrel Makes. So, it's a skirt. But not just any skirt. This is another 'Blast from the Past' pattern, one that I owned when it was first released, re-found it on EBay and sewn it up again. Why the post title? Well the first time I sewed this beauty up was as my school skirt! So, get comfy everyone, and I'll tell you the story of my old school skirt. First we have to go back in time to the glory days of 1980....

I grew fairly tall when a young lass and my mum despaired of finding a school skirt that we both felt was long enough (and decent enough!). So, after trying on umpteen skirts, she asked if I wanted to sew a school skirt. Yep! So we went shopping in Carlisle and bought this pattern Style 3092.

My mum said I could have a wrap skirt but not a skirt with a split. Looks like a wrap skirt, doesn't it? We also bought some black needle cord fabric, the zip and black lining.  Later, at home nearly 30 miles from Carlisle, I started cutting out the paper pattern only to discover it was a 'mock' wrap skirt and it did indeed have....the forbidden split! However, I received special  dispensation to go ahead and sew it up but I was warned not to make the split too high. Hand on heart, I did not know this pattern had a split until I was home. Just wanted to make that clear! I loved the finished skirt and loved wearing it at school. Nobody else had one like it!

So, here's my favourite bit, what was happening in the most important part of my life (music obviously!) in 1980? I know you're all holding your breath wondering what I was dancing to at school discos back in the day. Well, I was a big fan of Madness and the first vinyl single I ever bought was 'Baggy Trousers'. Even today I am word perfect for the lyrics of this song. Proud to say! Ska was a big thing at school and other bands like The Specials, Bad MannersThe Jam were also on the turntables and we had varying degrees of success at dancing to this music! Disco was still on the school disco turntables too...remember Kelly Marie and Feels like I'm in love (please, please you've GOT to watch this's brilliant...the hair, the make up...the dancers...soooooo 1980!). Mind you, I do remember piling on the green eye-shadow myself for school discos. What about Blondie and The Tide is High? My mum made me walk into the nearest record shop to buy this single for her. The Nolans with 'I'm in the mood for dancing'? Classics. Every one of them!

So, back to the sewing in 2016. This is a fairly simple pattern, with the back cut on the fold, the front has a left thigh seam and split and the waistband is simply a rectangle. I didn't have to make many alterations at all to this pattern, I just added some length to it but can't remember how much as it was a few months ago. The tricky thing is with cutting out the pattern. You have to cut the front pieces on a single layer of fabric and you have to make sure the pieces are the correct way up. I confess I did try making this pattern at the start of the year but accidentally flipped one of the front pieces over. Undo-able mistake! I threw that mess away.

The outer fabric is a non-stretch dark-ish 100% cotton denim bought from Edinburgh Fabrics. I used an 8" jeans zip and some cream cupro lining bought from John Lewis (which at £12 a metre was more expensive than the £10 a metre denim but totally worth it). The pattern was not lined but I just adapted the skirt pieces to make the lining. I used a jeans button I already had and topstitched using black thread. To finish the skirt hem I used some 1" tan and black tiger print ribbon I bought last year from Edinburgh Fabrics during a blogger meet-up in Edinburgh organised by Helen from Grosgrain Green. I knew I'd find a use for it someday! I like using little souvenirs in my sewing.

The verdict? I like this skirt, I don't love it but then again I took it on holiday to Prague and Vienna and wore it a couple of days so it has been a success. The rectangular waistband is not a great fit on me and a bit baggy. The skirt is quite loose, especially in the front and I wonder of that's due to the front seam. I like the off centre split but I think I'm still getting used to the longer length. Will I make it again? I'm not sure but I'd need to make some changes to the pattern if I did. But I did enjoy making it and wearing it on holiday, just need to incorporate it in my everyday wardrobe now!

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Lots of Named patterns Alpi Chinos

Well, it seems I've developed a bit of a habit for making a pattern....and then making lots more versions of it. I needed some new linen trousers for going on holiday at the end of June. We went to Prague and Vienna so I knew it could potentially be very warm at that time of year. And for the most part it was and we had temperatures of 36 degrees. After the success of Named Jamie jeans, I thought I'd have another look at the Named website and ended up buying the Alpi Chino pattern. Yes...Alpi Chino sounds like Al Pacino to me too!

The pattern is for non stretch light or mid-weight woven fabrics. Linen was one of the suggested fabrics. Great! I made a few alterations to the pattern before cutting out, I added 1.5" to the front rise and 1.25" to the back rise. I also increased the leg length by 4". These are the same adjustments I make to the Jamie jeans pattern. I also had to take in the centre back seam quite a bit but that's normal for me.

I love the front pockets and the back pockets. I wanted ALL the details on these trousers! The first pair I made was using some Essex Linen, I think it's a Robert Kaufman fabric, that I bought from John Lewis in Edinburgh. It's a 50% linen and 50% cotton blend which I pre-washed before cutting out. I used a jeans button from my stash, a metal jeans zip and added some rivets to the back pockets too. I like the coppery colour of the rivets and button compared with the fabric colour.

So, I was very pleased with how these turned out and decided to make some more! The next pairs were using a black linen that I bought from John Lewis and some kakhi linen I bought from Edinburgh Fabrics. I'm really pleased with both those pairs too! 

Can you see the four piece curved waistband? It's utterly brilliant and I love it! It fits so well. I used to hate waistbands so much because they didn't fit me at all and gaped. Now I know that curved waistbands are great and fit me so well and are the only way forward for me.

Em...confession time. Did you see the cream top I made throughout this post? Yep, it's yet another New Look 6217. I used cream polyester triple crepe but I thought I'd need to wear a camisole underneath so I lined it using cupro lining. This lining says do not wash/dry clean but I just wash it in a silk or wool wash in my washing machine, using an appropriate delicates liquid soap and it's always worked for me. The only thing is, if you let it fully dry out after washing, you will never iron all the creases out of it. That seems a small price to pay when you can just chuck it in the washing machine (either intentionally or unintentionally!).

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Vintage Sewing Pattern guest blogger!

This post has previously appeared on Kerry's blog, Kestrel Makes, as part of the Vintage Pattern Pledge month of July #vpjuly guest blogger extravaganza! Well, that's what I'm calling it, anyway. I was totally astounded at being asked! Anyhow, it lets me ramble on about my favourite vintage decade for sewing patterns, the 1980s.

One day I was just browsing through Ebay, as you do, when I came across a sewing pattern I’d used as a young sewist in the 1980s. I just had to buy it! I’ve found and bought other sewing patterns that I bought and sewed in the 1980s and this has led to me developing a love for 1980s sewing patterns. Perhaps this could be a new sub-category of the Vintage Pattern Pledge, ‘Blast from the Past’…patterns you’ve previously owned, sewn and re-discovered!

This particular pattern is Style 4824 with a copyright date of 1986. There are collar and sleeve or sleeveless options so it’s quite a versatile pattern. The first and only time I sewed it, I made View 2 in a rust coloured poly-cotton fabric that I also used for the self-covered buttons. The shirt did actually work well in a poly-cotton and I wore for quite a few years.

These 1980’s patterns make me think back to what was happening and what I was doing at that time. It was quite a decade of change for me growing up then. In 1986 I was in art college and having quite frankly, a rare old time. I remember going along to weekly art college discos wearing what I thought was a very cool combo of Doc Martens and (very) mini-skirts, dancing along to a varied and eclectic range of music, including The Communards ‘Don’t leave me this way’, Doctor and the Medics ‘Spirit in the sky’ and Farley Jackmaster Funk with ‘Love can’t turn around’. Alongside this chart music they also played much cooler non-chart stuff too, especially James Brown, Louis Prima and Stevie Wonder. What can I say? I was young! It was the 1980s!

So, back to the sewing in 2016. One thing about using vintage patterns is that sometimes they have been used before. This one had. The descriptions said the size 10 had been cut out but the cut off bits were there. They were…but not all of them! I pieced all the bits together that I could and did a ‘best guess-timate’ of the missing bits, which seemed to work out fine, thank goodness. Just something to be aware of but it’s all part of the charm and sometimes challenge of sewing used vintage patterns!

I cut out the size 14 and added 2 inches to the body length. I also did a 2 inch FBA. Next time I make this, and there will be a next time as this is a lovely fitting garment, I would add an inch or more to the length of the sleeves, they’re just a tiny bit shorter than I’d like. I’d also add some width to the sleeves as they are a shade too fitted for my liking (I blame my swimmer’s arms!).

The fabric is a John Kaldor print 100% polyester bought from John Lewis in Edinburgh. This was quite a risky purchase. I like the mix of subtle grey stripes in the background but yellow….that’s not a colour I’d put near my face but sometimes a ‘diluted risk’ is worth taking. I think it’s worked well in this case. Yellow and grey…a very 1980s colour combination too!

I was very surprised at how challenging this shirt pattern was, much more than I expected or remembered it to be. The shawl collar with its back neck seam and the gathered front is tricky to sew and get right. I have a new respect and admiration for the sewing skills of ‘young me’ in tackling such a deceptively complicated garment! 

I wanted to make a more challenging pattern from my surprisingly favourite decade of the 1980’s (who’d have thought!), something just a bit different from the batwing sleeved tops I absolutely love, adore and can’t get enough of. This ‘Blast from the past’ has certainly lived up to that…and there’s another Vintage Pattern Pledge ‘Blast from the past’ from 1980 coming up soon on my blog. Love the music from that year!