Friday, 18 October 2013

Named Pattern review: Blair batwing shirt

I finally did it! - sewed my first ever stretch knit.
I really wasn't sure me or my 45 year old Bernina would be up to it; but due to really wanting to join in with Stephanie from Starcross Sewing's inspired "A Year in Indie patterns" sew along, there was no stoping me.

Think I need to learn to look slightly less smug at my dizzying sewing prowess.... and move onto the pattern...

Brand: Named Patterns
Pattern: Blair Batwing Shirt

 I hadn't heard of this company before, but was really impressed with the  style.
I'm really new to sewing (clothes, anyway)  so I chose the above as I love this comfy batwing style of sleeves; and was hopeful that it was within my ability to achieve the finished item within a short amount of time.

The pattern has the immediacy of being a  PDF, which I personally  like.
They have the different pieces overlaying one another, which meant that the pattern must be traced out.  As I like to trace patterns  this also was not a problem for me, although I can understand how it might not suit everyone.
One definite bonus of course was that it is less printed paper.

9 sheets only, extra muddy cat paw-prints not included in the price I'm afraid.

I found the pre-sewing (preparation) instructions clear and useful. They  included all I needed to know to prep for the sewing;  choosing the correct size and planning it out.

When it came to the actual sewing instructions though, they were less clear for a  beginner. This was due to not having any depictions of the steps, and it tended to be worded like I should understand how patterns normally come together.
 (With a more complicated piece if the instructions were in a similar vein, I could certainly imagine someone like me struggling a little.)

It had me a little confused for a while; this was step 2 of the instructions....

"2. Sew the shoulder seams so that you include a Framilon band in them. The Framilon band will prevent the shoulder seam from stretching in use. If you don’t have Framilon, you can replace it with a thin strip of the bodice fabric cut lengthways."

But that was it.
First I googled framlion, which turns out to be that weird rubbery stuff that is used to stabilise seams. All good and something new learned.
But then I had to strike out on my own,  cut a strip, and crossed my fingers that I sort of got the idea.

Now it may well be that anyone who might read this may think I'm  a little pedantic with my want of descriptions. And I probably am.
This is only my 3rd make, coming after a Mathilda Blouse, and an Anna Dress. Both those patterns hold your hand every single baby step of the way, so perhaps I've been spoiled.
But as this is listed as 'Very simple" I would humbly suggest that the instructions might be expanded  to match the sewing level?

I practiced with my machine to find a suitable stitch as mine only does Straight, or zig-zag, thats it. 
I hear that zig-zag is the most recommended in this situation but in the end I went with a straight one, and instead stretched out the material.
I have no idea if this was a good choice or not, but it seemed to do the job. 
It certainly helped that I chose a really thick material, with not too much give, and that the pattern is loose fitting so the seams are tested less.

I definitely like this pattern, its super comfy, and really casual.
Came together well, once I got going.

It is also good as a  second layer, almost a jumper, if you use thick fabric.

I feel it's going to get lots of use as the weather is turning cold.

Enough of the airplane impressions.

I love the Named designs, and I hope to sew some of the other pieces, but when I have gained more experience, and have a little more time.
I'll also sew this again, and fancy trying it in a thiner fabric to see how that works.

It was fun to try something new, and thanks to Stephanie again, for having such a cunning plan.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

....a Challenge!

oooooh excited, a challenge that I feel I might be able to take part in!!!
Stephanie at Starcross has organised A Year in Indie Patterns. Brilliant.

What a great idea; to sew any pattern from a chosen indie company each month.
A perfect way to support an independent retailer, possibly discover a  new company, a way to collect  reviews of your makes together in one place.

And best of all, there is no pressure to take part for all 12 months; its do as little or as many makes as you wish.
Yippee, I'm in!

I didn't know of the "Named" company that is the first on the list for the challenge. But love the classy contemporary patterns.
I've decided to go for the easy option and I've ordered the Blair Batwing Shirt, for a few reasons...

Firstly I own shirts that are similar to this so I know I will wear it if I actually manage to make it!
As a Newbie to sewing I wanted to make sure I could actually complete it by the end of September so I can contribute to the reviews.
Finally, my sewing machine is a 40 year old Bernina, so I am unsure how it will deal with stretchy fabrics; so this is an ideal make to test both it and myself.

Off to John Lewis to see if I can find some suitable material!!!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Anna Dress..... a sewing must!

So I've been Cyber-stalking around the sewing blogs for many months, and have been drooling over the myriad of summery dresses that  have been created this year.
Well I completely lost my heart the second I saw the Anna dress from By Hand London.

I first caught sight of this delight when Karen at Did you make that? showed her fab version of this dress. (Love this blog!!!)
I knew immediately that I must make this dress. I had been looking for a summer make that would be easy-wear for those sticky days in London, that could be considered both smart and casual. This pattern easily fulfils that brief and is also GORGEOUS. Not to mention easy to make, yippee.

Anyone considering buying this pattern? Just do it. Now. Right now.

So here it is..... My first ever dress. ( Drum Rollllllllllllllllllllllll)


This dress was so easy to put together, even for a novice like me. Okay I admit, I have been gleaning info from blogs, sewing books and stuff remembered from watching my Mum sew when I was young, but still a pain-free and FUN experience.
The instructions were clear and there were no fiddly moments. I also liked that it suggested the french seams, and the hidden zip. I gladly added the suggested french seams to the skirt, even with the seven panels it didn't take that long. However I confess to putting the zip in the bog-standard way.... I was just itching to finish the dress. As this is an informal version, I don't mind seeing the stitching too much, but I can see if it were a more formal version, that going the extra mile for the invisible look would be worth it.

I made a muslin of the bodice, and I'm pleased I did. I have very broad shoulders and a fairly long body. When I made up the muslin from an old bed sheet, I noticed that I wanted a little more length for the bodice to reach my waist safely, and also that I'd prefer a little more room for my arms so that reaching up high was comfortable.

I tried a couple of experiments with the muslin. (some more useful than others.... lets just say adding inches at above boob level definitely doesn't work!)
I settled on adding 3/8" to the shoulder seams on all the pattern pieces, not forgetting the facings; also adding an inch to the bodice bottom. I also lowered the finishing point of the bodice darts, ( the infamous straight 'Boobies' darts on the front) so they finished 1/2" lower than drawn.

I love it! Really comfortable and practical for sweaty days in town. 
I am already looking for a suitable fabric to make another one for the autumn.... I'm thinking a charcoal blue linen mix or something?

Well that was fast.....

Hmmm, so that went well then. Only two and a half years since I decided to set up a blog to push myself to sew something more than just curtains.
Well in the meantime; I got married, started two new jobs and yes, actually did finish painting the hallway. Super stressful, (not the hallway!) but still not really a good excuse for NOT sewing, especially when I read all the gorgeous and inspiring blogs full of multi-tasking genius'.

Yes I admit it; I may not have been industrious myself, but I certainly have spent many a happy coffee break at work avidly reading blogs.... completely blog-stalking; each page linking me onto yet another informative, funny or just plain classy read. I've been devouring tips and tricks just dreaming of getting stuck in myself. I've  also been collecting; not only beautiful vintage patterns, but also some  pant-wettingly gorgeous indie patterns that are just crying out to be made.

Well finally, I've pulled my finger out and can proudly say I am slowly making time to actually put needle to cloth.
IN another couple of months the show I have worked so hard on will have it's final audience, and although I will be then skint, I will have oodles of time to progress with my vintage pattern projects.

In the meantime, I'll be very contented practicing on a few of the really amazing patterns that are pretty well known on the blog circuit. An Anna Dress from By Hand London, (already completed- I love it!!!!) a Matilda Blouse from Tilly and the Buttons. (Also Love!!!!) and I have one of Tasia's gorgeous creations all the way from Vancouver, Sewaholic's Torfino trousers, which I am yet to try, but am really looking forward to making now the autumn is here.
I love how much love and attention to detail is given with these patterns. The instructions are always precise and easy for beginners like me to follow, and there are often online tutorials to go with them to help if you are attempting some new technique. How great to have such a supportive online community.

I'm going to grab some pictures of my Anna dress to post.... ( I'm sooooo excited I finished a whole dress!) but first I might have to spend five minutes cuddling with these two .