The shirt that almost wasn’t…

My first Glasgow Make to get on the blog, and entirely inappropriate weather-wise.

Pattern: The Factory Dress by Merchant and Mills
Made before? I’d made two full dresses for my Nanna last Christmas, unfortunately without the instructions so they were successful wildcards…
Will make again? Yes, I love this shape, the lack of buttons, and how easy the collar is. I might try it with a gathered skirt next time.
Fabric: Vintage drapey something I found in a Vintage/antiques/odds-and-ends store in Glasgow’s West End.

factory top front

I found this amazing large floral print and had to have it. There was probably 2.5m to start with. And I promptly butchered it.

The original idea was to use the free Peppermint Magazine Peplum Top pattern (produced by In The Folds), and hack it with a peplum to make an approximation of my favourite peplum top. That went all sorts of wrong. I misunderstood the instructions for the shoulder panels, fudged the lining several times, tried to cut away the lining, couldn’t find bias tape, etc etc etc. I ended up with a mangled top but a beautiful peplum. I shelved the project for several months…

Then, after a not-amazing trial of the Alex Shirt by Sew Over It, I decided the Factory Dress, with its center front seam, lack of buttons, and simple collar construction, was the shirt pattern for me. I knew there’d be enough of this fabric left to make a toile so I went for it.

I then discovered that the shirt was more than a little cropped. I had wanted a cropped style, but this took it a little too far…enter the afore-mentioned peplum!

factory top peplum

When I first tried this on I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. The collar, and the peplum, and the billowy fit with semi-outrageous print felt like mayyybe a tad too much. But then I wore it cycling into work, and it was beautifully cool and floaty. I also love it paired with  a cropped jumper, so that the collar looks sophisticated popping over the top, but the peplum peeks out and adds some eccentricity. A little eccentricity goes a long way in starting me-made conversations…

factory top back

A little note on the construction – most of my seams here are french seams, except for around the collar, where I couldn’t work out how to do this technique. I still haven’t managed to convince my new machine to zig zag on woven fabric. Anyone have any tips?

What’s your favourite pattern hack? Have you tried to hack the Factory Dress? I think it is an underrated pattern, what do you think?

Happy sewing! xxH

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Shetland Wool Week Wrap Up!!!

Catherine has joined me in Scotland! Of course, her holiday here ‘coincidentally’ coordinated with Shetland Wool Week…

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We spent the week in an Airbnb in Lerwick, after the overnight ferry ride from Aberdeen. This meant we had a good base in which to cosily knit and watch Downton Abbey! I didn’t do many classes during the week – I didn’t feel that my knitting skills were up to many of them, although I would have loved to have tried a beginners brioche class.

We went to a brilliant enamelling class though, with a local Shetlander Helen Robertson. The day started with learning the basics and making a big button, then we made a shawl pin, a little box for stitch markers, and six small buttons. Helen’s mother Joan was there and cooked us a tasty lunch, as well as supplying us with endless tea and homemade shortbread!

On Thursday night we headed to the Shetland Textile Museum for a talk on Victoria Gibson – a talented knitwear designer who settled on Shetland. I wasn’t, to be honest, expecting much. But our host Lizzie was exuberant, interesting, and had a thorough and entertaining knowledge of Gibson’s design, business, and home life.

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Photo from Shetland Textile Museum

I was particularly inspired by Gibson’s fading technique. She would use three strands of yarn in knitting, and introduce one yarn of the new colour at a time, to ensure a subtle fade. There was one rainbow jumper on display which showed this to great effect – brilliant, bright, contrasting colours without any jarring transitions.

I’m sure Catherine will have more to say about Victoria Gibson and Lizzie’s fantastic exhibition, so I’ll move on to what we’re really here for…the haul!

Everyone at Wool Week was wearing the official wool week knitting pattern – the Bousta Beanie designed by Gudrun Johnston. I hadn’t even bothered trying to knit this, having never attempted two strand colourwork before. But over the course of the week I fell in love with everyone’s beanies and the beautiful colour combinations…and then I saw this book…

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photo from knitbritish.net

And, I went a bit wild…

yarnhaul
1, 5, 6, 7 & 11 for Intarsia, 3 & 4 for a beanie from Knitting From the North, 8 & 9 with natural white (not pictured) for a Barley beanie from Knitting From the North

 

First on my needles has been the Barley mittens from Knitting From the North, made up in Mermaid and Natural White (not pictured). I’ve actually already had to frog these and restart – remember to check Ravelry pages for these projects. The 80 stitch cast-on was huge! The colour work pattern is actually fairly instinctive, however, so otherwise I’m not struggling.

 

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Early on, we went to Jamieson and Smith out of town, and I fell in love with this beautiful Aran weight yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners, made from Shetland wool. Catherine very kindly bought me a skein. I thought and thought about what I wanted to knit. I didn’t want to spend months and months wrapping my head around another jumper pattern, but I also didn’t want to knit yet another little hat. One night I was snuggled up in my mother’s shawl – and I had a brainwave. What better than a cushy, cosy, big shawl to wrap up in at the cinema or when out at the pub?

the croft yarn

I’ve decided to make the same pattern as Catherine, the Gryer by Isabell Kraemer. I’m letting myself play around with the stripe and eyelet pattern, however, and using the pattern mostly as a guide.

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I also chose a selection of 2 ply jumper weight yarn from Jamieson & Smith, to have a play with some intarsia knitting. At the Shetland Textile Museum there was a beautiful long cardigan with an art nouveau floral motif knitted in intarsia. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo, but I have got a vibrant Pinterest board (ever expanding!) dedicated to knitwear you can check out…I’m hoping to make a scarf using this yarn, just to get a bit of practice and play around with the colours.

Wish me luck! Will you be at any crafty festivals over the next year? Please give me some suggestions in the comments below! I’m hoping to make Edinburgh Yarn Festival again in 2018 – will you be there?

Happy crafting! xxH

A tale of two cleos…

I wasn’t convinced by the samples of the Cleo pinafore from Tilly and the Buttons. The curve from the waist to the hip was too pronounced for my taste (or so I thought), and I felt it made the garment unflattering. Enter the flurry of bloggers’ versions! I particularly fell for Dominique Major’s brocade version.

Pattern: Cleo Pinafore from Tilly and the Buttons
Made Before? only these two versions
Will Make Again? Yes
Fabric: olive print cotton from Spotlight, with an unbleached cotton lining, and fern upholstery brocade, also from Spotlight.

olivehanger

The first version I made was in this olive print cotton from Spotlight. I knew the fabric would be too light-weight for the Cleo, so I fully lined it with an unbleached cotton. Funnily enough, I made this while my parents sat in the same room watching a tour of Greek cooking! I was craving Ouzo or Retsina, let me tell you…and some haloumi…

The pattern was straightforward, easy to follow, and the top-stitching not as hard as I thought it would be. I do think the key to top-stitching is to not really give a shit. Sure, there are wobbles in it and the pocket stitches are a tad hap-hazard…but no-one other than me knows, and certainly, no-one cares.

Rather than using a button or buckle, I bought a snap fastening kit off etsy and fixed on these little black ones. Snap fastenings may be the key to my sewing success…I’m debating how childish shirts with snaps would be – like, an entire wardrobe of shirts with only snap fastenings…

fernhanger

The second version I made from this beautiful upholstery fabric, also from Spotlight. I cut the facings from the unbleached cotton Id used in the previous version. Unfortunately, the fabric is still too thick in places – for example, you can see here my snap has come out because there was too much bulk.

fernwornfront

Catherine was not convinced by this fabric. She thought I would look like a walking cushion in it. I was inspired by Dominique’s version, though, and ignored her.

fernworn

I love the way the straps meet at the back! It looks like a proper pinafore! Even though many parts of this pattern look as though they are finicky, it’s actually a very easy make. Each of these versions took not much more than an hour – turning the straps through being the most time-consuming part. Tilly’s instructions are outstanding, I’d recommend any of her patterns to a beginner.

I wore these a lot in Glasgow at the start of the year, with a dark green jersey dress I bought at H&M. They bring a bit of brightness and fun to the grim wintery days. I’m planning a maroon cord one, which is in fact almost done – but I’d love to do some embroidery on the pocket or try something else special. I think there is room in this pattern for some pom pom trim…or sparkles, like Kate from the Fold Line’s version…

Check out my pinterest board for some Cleo-themed inspiration. Are you making one? Have a different favourite pinafore pattern? Let me know in the comments…

Stoff and Stil sewing plans…

Stoff and Stil have updated their website with some new Autumn and Winter fabrics, and after a couple of days successful sewing I felt I deserved a fabric hit! I’m hoping to get these done by Shetland Wool Week, which mother dearest and I will be heading to at the end of September.

1. Kielo Dress

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I’m planning to make a Kielo in some beautiful fern print crepe I already own, but when I spotted this pleated jersey I fell in love with the idea of a Grecian pleated and wrapped dress. I think this will also be an easy and versatile make – I can see it with tights and long-sleeves underneath in Winter, or with sandals in Summer for a night out. Simple, understated, but gorgeous.

2. Factory or Bettine Dress

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I love that Stoff and Stil include pictures of their fabric made up into garments – I would have missed this otherwise, but check out how it looks made up-

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The blousy fit of this reminds me of the Bettine, and given it’s a viscose fabric I think it will be the perfect fabric-pattern match. However, I’m tempted to try a factory dress, given my recent success with that pattern, and the option of wearing that with a cardigan and the collar poking out…the only hesitation I have there is the practicality of the Factory Dress’ slightly looser skirt on the windy Glasgow streets. I might end up trying to hack the two together, what do you think?

3. Definitely a Factory Dress…

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This is a potential wildcard. This cotton percale is listed as a “home” fabric and as it hasn’t arrived I’m not sure how soft and suitable for dressmaking it will be. However, I’m hoping it’ll make the perfect Factory Dress to wear in Winter, and feel subdued but slightly colourful – and I mean, it was on sale guys, who can blame me?!

I might end up making a toile of the factory dress, as I’m not sure how flattering I’ll find the skirt. The Orla dress which has been getting a lot of blog time recently looks a lot more youthful. Potentially I’ll try for the best of both worlds, making the Factory skirt gathered in the same way. I’ve also been wondering if side and back gathers, a la the Archer shirt, might be a win. I’m not going to make any promises, but a side-by-side comparison post could be interesting. I do love seeing Lisa Emerita’s process videos for those toiles….

What are your Autumn plans? Favourite online fabric stores? Wind + skirt solutions?

The best blazer…

A few months ago now, my long-lost godmother visited me in Glasgow. We spent a wonderful afternoon checking out all the vintage and charity shops in Glasgow’s West End. I found this retro fabric that afternoon, so it’s extra special.

Pattern: Victoria Blazer from By Hand London

Made before? no
Will make again? I’d love to try the duster coat hack the BHL girls have blogged about. I’d also love to do one in silk-backed crepe, with the silk side showing on the labels and cuffs. And, of course, more retro fabric versions!!
Fabric: Retro polyester of some sort from Glasgow Vintage

jacket worn

At first I was planning on a shift dress, but I eventually decided with Yvonne that a blazer would be more practical – in Melbourne, as in Glasgow, you’ll often find a fairly sunny day where the wind is just a little too strong for only a t-shirt. Given that this is a retro polyester, it also is slightly warmer than it looks – I can see myself in this on a night out in Spring or Summer back home, too.

blazer sleeve close up

The Victoria Blazer pattern is well explained, beautifully presented, and a lovely fit for me with no alterations. I think that with the spongieness of this fabric you do lose some of the effect of the lapel and the seams/ darts that run from the neckline down to the bust. I did have to sew my lapels open to keep them flat.

I wore this blazer out for drimks with a couple of (male, non-sewist) mates of mine and blew their minds when I told them it was hand-made. “Irish Dave” has since brought this blazer up when I haven’t even been wearing it, which to me is a sign I have become a Successful Human.

 

Anyone know of quality vintage stores in Scotland? What’s your most brilliant fabric score? 

An elaborate hack…

This has to be one of my favourite makes to date. It has enough features that people think it is RTW, but was really easy to knock out, airy for summer, but thrown on with jeans looks much more dressed-up than a tee.

Pattern: Simplicity 2365
Made before? I’d made one version in a similar 100% cotton, but without as much hacking, and definitely got a lot of wear out of that in Summer. 
Will make again? Absolutely. I left the pattern back home in Aus, but I’m considering just buying it again to make a few more.
Fabric: 100% cotton I bought from Spotlight, designed by Cloud 9

pleated top worn

The original pattern is a tunic or shirt ending at the hips, with short or long sleeves and a mandarin collar. It features princess seams and five pintucks on either side of the center front. In this version, I cropped the two front and back pieces to where the waistline was marked on the pattern. I then sloped off the neckline into a v, starting from the mark at center front where the split in the original is meant to start. I finished the armholes and neckline with bias binding. The ruffle was simply made from a long rectangle – as long as I had fabric for – gathered and sewn in. Inside seams are finished with overlocking.

pleated top details

Can we talk about this fabric?! Spotlight has such a great range of cottons, chambray, and tencel. It’s definitely something I miss in Scotland – I can’t seem to find any beautiful prints like this unless they’re Liberty and prohibitively expensive. I also can’t find any tencel – which is such a shame, because I think a floaty tencel skirt in the same khaki as those little leaves would be perfect with this shirt.

I’m a huge fan of the pintucks too. The instructions which come with the pattern, being a big 4, aren’t fabulous. I followed a tutorial in my handy sewing bible, and after that it was easy. Particularly in 100% cotton, you just need a lot of steam and heat. And a ruler.

I’ve read online that you can also create pintucks in fabric before you cut, then cut out pattern pieces with them finished and use that as a textural element – I’d love to explore this, I’m just not sure of what pattern to try it with. Ideas?

Do you have any favourite pintuck patterns for me to try? Know where I can get some quality but affordable tencel in the UK? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy sewing! H xx

 

What?! A blog post?!

I know, I know, I know…it’s been a while! Sorry everyone. I have a huge backlog of makes. But finally I have somewhere to shoot photos, so here you go… one post a week, that’s my aim!

Pattern: Simplicity 1370
Made Before? yes, a black work skirt as a mock-up.
Will Make Again? Yes
Fabric: stretch bengaline from Remnant Warehouse

skirt back small

This skirt was a story of trial & error. I’d made this pattern in a black stretch cotton before, as a mock-up and for work. It was a little too big – so when I made it from this bengaline I did a size down. Unfortunately, I was watching a really good movie when I cut it out – and so the stretch runs vertically. Oops.

Once I’d sewn up the side seams, I also realised it was going to be reallllly short when hemmed. Cue two months stagnancy on my sewing desk.

Eventually after a very succesful op-shop run, I decided to use this reclaimed zip to make an exposed zipper back, which would preserve just enough width in the skirt for it to fit perfectly. I bias-bound the waist and hem to save a bit of length there as well.

skirt front small

Let’s be honest – there’s a lot of sewing in this garment that is less-than professional. I still love it though! It’s so 60s – my favourite fashion decade. I’m hoping to ‘aquire’ some bowling shoes to pair with it.

I definitely want to use this pattern again – once I sort out sizing. Unfortunately I’ve left it at home in Australia, so it won’t be until I get back. I’d love to find some really beautiful brocade or jacquard, maybe something with parrots…you can see some of my inspo for further projects over on my Pinterest.

What’s your favourite fashion decade? And do you think I should go full 60s with this one – some bowling shoes, a vintage cardi, beehive…? Let me know in the comments! 

Happy sewing! H xx

Helen’s 2017 Make Nine

Helen Says…

I know, this is a bit late – one month into 2017 already! But given it is still the first month of the year, and there’s more than nine to go, here are the new projects and new skills I want to master in 2017…

make-nine

 

  1. Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns: Gingerella showed these off in her September Makes vlog last year, and that was when I really fell for this pattern. But I wasn’t sure – would jeans be too far over my head? Well, now I’m in Scotland, and need to make friends, I’ve signed up for a sewing class! About making Ginger Jeans! So in about 8 weeks time, you should see a new pair of olive jeans on this blog 🙂 🙂
    Skills to build: fly zip, zips in general, top stitching, belt loops, rivets
  2. Agnes Top by Tilly & the Buttons: I’ve always wanted to make this top, but the little elastic gathers at the front scare me! Now that I have my head around the Molly top from Sew Over It though, I think I’m ready for this one. I’ve also purchased a Craftsy course on sewing with knits. Basics here we come!
    Skills to build: everything with knit fabric, on a regular sewing machine (no overlocker in Glasgow 😦 )
  3. Alex Shirt from Sew Over It: I wear collared shirts All. The. Time. I just don’t feel dressy enough to go out without a collar peeking up over my jumper. Up until now, I’ve searched charity shops high and low for good ones. While I’m sometimes lucky, there are so many beautiful rayons screaming out to be worn!
    Skills to build: Collars, buttons and button holes.
  4. Nancy Dress from Sew Over It: In Love. Nothing else to say. Have the fabric already.
    Skills to build: Slippery fabrics and cutting accurately.
  5. Lingerie of some kind: I haven’t decided on a pattern for this yet, really. I can never find bras and underwear which I like, fit me, and don’t show under jeans. Plus, they’re so expensive! I wouldn’t mind spending the money on supplies though, and having matching sets a la Hollie from Hollie Dolly is very appealing…
    Skills to build: everything to do with sewing lingerie…a craftsy course, possibly?
  6. Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress: I think this in a merino knit would be a Winter staple…
    Skills to build: More knit fabric skills?
  7. Arielle Skirt from Tilly & the Buttons: A tight, short skirt with a collared shirt and jumper, and some cool patterned tights, is my favourite city outfit. I love the idea of adding interesting contrasting buttons as well. And really, Tilly can do no wrong…
    Skills to build: everything I do with skirts turns out wrong, so just making one that fits will be a miracle…
  8. Ailakki Cross Front Jumpsuit by Named Patterns: This was love at first sight! Diary of a Chainstitcher, one of my favourite blogs, did a brilliant version of this. When I get to the end of the year and am feeling more confident with my fitting and accuracy skills, I plan to give this a go for a Christmas outfit.
    Skills to build: Zips, lining, accuracy, hand sewing.

Happy sewing everyone! H xx

P.S I was planning on vlogging all of this, but my camera has stopped working on the filming mode. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring you a video soon, of the handmade wardrobe I brought to Glasgow with me!

P.P.S So many planning blogs, so few makes…..

Hard to believe!

That the other half of ‘fern and thread’ has left Melbourne and headed to Glasgow. But she has and I’m missing her! I also have weather envy. We’ve had a few days of real summer weather in Melbourne, including one hot night, and our house isn’t really built for extremes of temperatures. Instead of wallowing in deep envy maternal sadness, however, I’ve got busy and begun the annual get-organised-before-the-New-Year mess-up clean-up.

It started with a gentle pattern cull, which led to a pattern re-organisation, which led to the study because I had the bright thought of putting Indie patterns in magazine files, which meant I had to do a magazine cull in the office, which led to a bookcase re-organisation because they looked so shabby and that led to a bit of a book cull – but not as much as I would have liked – how can I not have read quite so many books?

In the middle there was the Great Yarn Storage Idea – this was before Helen left – and that led to a trip to Ikea where many things were purchased but most importantly the Yarn Storage was procured. This led, inevitably, to hauling Many Things out of the office stash store room. Which is now much clearer. Thank you, Swedish design. My yarn storage came from the kids’ section of Ikea – by far the best part, I reckon. I mean, I can never have a kitchen like they have in their walk-through-and-drool-rooms, nor will my bed ever be as ‘dressed’ or my desk as damned clear but I can have a slightly messy playroom!

Before the Accountant would put the Ikea storage together he demanded I clean up the ‘mess’ in part of the lounge. That meant more storage solutions as part of mess neat pile of crap delight were lengths of fabric. The Accountant shrewdly suggested he procure said storage solution and hied off to the cheap shop (no more lifestyle choices for me!). He came back with a plastic container large enough to bury the dog in, should she shuffle off this mortal coil before I folded fabric. (And for roughly a third of the price of my Brilliant Storage Idea.)

I am most certainly looking forward to the New Year! Stay tuned for knitting and sewing resolutions. I leave with you photos of the Copenhagen Calling cowl knitted for Helen from my own handspun. First two colour slipstitch pattern I’ve done – loved it! She has clearly got it inside out here – but there it is. Beautiful fibre from Ixchel fibres which spun up lushly. There’s cashmere and other goodies I’ve forgotten but trust me, warm as toast and as soft as a baby’s skin. 15778555_10154271985570698_2036114438_o1

Seamstress Tag

  1. Who are you? I’m Catherine – a writer who lives in the Hills outside Melbourne. I write for children, young adults and poetry for adults.
  2. When and why did you start sewing?  I started sewing because I wanted to make my own clothes. I was at boarding school and they offered evening sewing classes as an extra curriculum subject. I made a shirtwaister dress and an eight gore cotton velveteen skirt – but I didn’t allow for the nap. I can still remember my disappointment!
  3. What is your favorite/proudest make? My Marcy Tilton cirque dresses. All of them!
  4. What is your most disastrous make?  Too many to list – but one of the funniest was this horrible reversible dress – I think the pattern may still be available. Do. Not. Make. It.
  5. Where is your favorite place to go fabric shopping? We’re lucky to have great fabric shops in Melbourne. My favourite is The Fabric Store, closely followed by Clearout, then Cleggs.
  6. What is your most used pattern? Marcy Tilton’s Cirque Dress pattern – Vogue 9112. I love the way you can ring so many changes to the fabric choices and that you can use a smaller amount of cherished fabric for the bottom bit.
  7. What is your most dreaded sewing task? Buttonholes! I’m always worried they will be: crooked, too big, too small or simply stuff up before the sewing machine has finished them. My Brother refuses to sew them these days – I wonder why?
  8. What is your favorite sewing task? I love the meditative calm of handsewing. In complete contrast I love the zoom zoom of the overlocker…
  9. What is your favorite sewing entertainment ? Watching movies on my laptop. But I’m also going to try some audio books in the future.
  10. Printed or PDF? Printed, definitely. I’m slowly getting my head around PDF, but printed patterns consume less time. However, I totally understand that the PDF patterns are cheaper for indie designers and there are so many great PDF patterns available, I’m learning patience!
  11. What sewing machine do you use? I mainly use my Singer Ultimate Quilter – that would be because Helen, my daughter is using my Brother. I have an Elna Overlocker.
  12. Do you have other hobbies? I knit and spin yarn. I occasionally felt. I like cooking and particularly love baking sour dough. I’m learning French and love going out to hear good music.