Friday, 16 September 2016

My First Jeans and a Seasonal Velvet Cami

London has been clinging on to summer and I have been clinging on to my handmade summer wardrobe but with this month's project for the Mood Sewing Network I have finally taken the plunge and started some projects more suited to the approaching season. Sewing my own jeans has been in my sewing queue for nigh on two years now and I am almost ashamed to admit that I actually cut these Ginger Jeans out well over a year ago. It is by far the longest a project has taken me from putting scissors to cloth and completion and I'm not really sure why as once I started sewing I had them finished within a matter of days. Despite the amazing looking jeans popping up on sewing blogs all over the internet something about the task really daunted me and I kept telling myself there was no point starting such a massive challenge until I had a good chunk of sewing time carved out to focus on the task at hand. How wrong was I. Jeans making is the perfect thing to take one little step at a time.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Ginger Jeans in Marc Jacobs Stretch Denim and Ogden Cami in Velvet from Mood Fabrics

I'm a dark denim kind of girl (although after sewing these I've become mildly obsessed with looking at denim and have been tempted by all sorts) and was for some reason drawn to this particular Marc Jacobs Stretch Cotton Denim online. Something about the description just said to me that it would be the right choice of this garment. Miraculously as I ordered this so long ago the same fabric is still in stock but if dark denim isn't your bag or you're after something a little more interesting the Mood Fabrics website has a consistently pretty spectacular collection of denim on offer in all different weights, colours and even prints. This one has a lovely deep colour which comes across as almost black in the pictures but in reality is a dark dark indigo blue. It was quite stiff to begin with but is now washing up an absolute dream. After a few weeks in rotation it is starting to develop that lovely worn quality I really like in denim. It can be quite hard to judge the exact colour weight and texture of a traditional denim when buying online but the bonus is there are detailed description including fabric content so you can see how the stretch will work for your pattern with no guesswork involved.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Ginger Jeans in Marc Jacobs Stretch Denim and Ogden Cami in Velvet from Mood Fabrics

For my first jeans making attempt I was tempted to pick something super cheap and cheerful but i'm glad I picked a good quality denim as it made the whole sewing process so much more enjoyable. I'm a big advocate for investing in good quality materials when and where you can as it can benefit your finished garment in so many ways. Not only did it give me a more accurate idea of how this pattern works on my body than a mega cheap muslin using a decent fabric makes me so much more careful and more determined to get things right rather than let the mistakes slide by without correction. Plus working with better quality fabric generally makes the sewing process easier as it will handle and press better. This cut, pressed and sewed really well without fraying terribly and it's the perfect weight for jeans of this sort. Nice and tough without being too restrictive or stiff.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Ginger Jeans in Marc Jacobs Stretch Denim and Ogden Cami in Velvet from Mood Fabrics

Fit wise I'm pretty delighted for my first try. This is view B with the high rise and skinny legs. I cut the size 6 and luckily am pretty much the same size as I was a million years ago when I cut them out! I am so comfortable in them all day long and have absolutely loved wearing them. I have got some wrinkling under the bum but now I've worn them for a bit I don't think I'm going to try and change this as the amount of excess fabric in this area is good for movement and sitting down. I've also got some wrinkling behind the knees which is quite common with slim trousers on me and bothers me more. From a bit of research I think I need to do a slight full calf adjustment to stop the fabric bunching up in this area.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Ginger Jeans in Marc Jacobs Stretch Denim and Ogden Cami in Velvet from Mood Fabrics

They are slightly wider at the ankle than I would usually like but I think this is due to the fact that I shortened them by 4" at the hemming stage. Now I know how long I want them I'd shorten them in a couple of places up the leg rather than taking this much of a chunk from the hem as I think I lost some of the slimming at the ankle in this. I have been wearing them a bit with the hems turned up as I quite like that look with this width of leg. I do absolutely love where the waistband sits and the way it hugs the body. I'm not sure I have got my pocket placement quiet right, what do you guys think? Any thoughts and advice on fit would be much appreciated as I am a trouser sewing newbie and am not yet entirely sure what to look for. I've tried to lighten the pictures a bit so you can see better as I know the dark denim conceals a lot!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Ginger Jeans in Marc Jacobs Stretch Denim and Ogden Cami in Velvet from Mood Fabrics

As for the construction I followed the sew-along rather than the instructions that came with the pattern. I would highly recommend this sew-along to anyone who is new to sewing jeans or anyone who wants to improve their jeans making. I went in one side a complete novice and came out of the other feeling like I had really learnt something and that I also understood what I had done and why rather than just blindly following along. I'm definitely going to be referring back to Heather Lou's posts in future, no matter what pattern I am following. I was absolutely dreading inserting the fly but before I knew it it was done and I was really chuffed with the results.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Ginger Jeans in Marc Jacobs Stretch Denim from Mood Fabrics

Despite being mega proud of these there is definitely a lot of room for improvement with my jeans making and I kind of can't wait to get started all over again so I can put into practise what I have learnt from this pair. The main issue I have with these is the state of the insides where I didn't quite nail getting the tension right all of the time when topstitching. It was kind of bonkers of me to pick dramatically contrasting gold topstitching thread for my first go I suppose. What can I say, I love a bit of topstitching! I used Gutermann topstitching thread in the needle (with a topstitching needle) but kept normal Sew All thread in the bobbin and was mildly surprised at the success I initially had. I found it a little frustrating to have to keep swapping the thread and needles over but soon got into the swing of it. The only part I got really frustrated with was the belt loops. Everything was going so well and I was amazed at how well my basic Janome machine was coping with all the layers of denim and topstitching. It even handled the bar tacks without too much coaxing. That thing is a little trooper. But the belt loops proved to be a step too far. I took a hammer to the folded ends of the belt loops to flatten things out as much as possible. a just tried, tried and tried again until I managed to get them all on somehow. It's not particularly tidy but they're there,

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Ginger Jeans in Marc Jacobs Stretch Denim from Mood Fabrics

The pockets of the other hand I am absolutely chuffed to bits with. I loved that these are pretty much the first thing you do so you get to feel excited about the fact that you are actually MAKING JEANS pretty much straight away. I did the pocket stay that stretches all the way across to the fly rather than the separate little pocket bags. I'll absolutely be doing this again as it feels so nice to wear as it keeps a nice shape across your stomach without being uncomfortable. The current PDF version of the pattern includes the pocket stay with this view but as I was using a (very) old copy I followed Heather Lou's instructions in the sew-along to draft my own. The interior pocket fabric came from a stash of quitting cotton scraps and fat quarters that I have squirrelled away. Pockets are the perfect thing to use these for!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Ginger Jeans in Marc Jacobs Stretch Denim from Mood Fabrics

I wasn't planning on adding rivets as it was my very first pair and I was thinking it was best to take things one step at a time. But by the time the fly went in and I was looking at an assembled front I knew I wanted to go the whole hog! I usually rely on my good old vario pliers to insert snaps, no sew buttons and such like but because the rivets aren't at the edge of the garment the pliers won't reach. Instead I remembered I had this strange and untouched tripod tool hidden away at the bottom of my box which (once I'd figured out how to use it) was pretty great. The same pieces that hold either end of the rivet in the pliers fit into this tool and it works in pretty much the same way except that the two parts are separate so you can use them anywhere on your garment. Line them up, give it a few strong whacks with the hammer and voila. Who said sewing was a peaceful hobby?! I didn't use the punch that comes with the kit to make the holes for the rivets as I find they come out worryingly large and I think the rivet will sink through the hole with time. Instead I poked a small hole through with an awl that was just about big enough to squeeze the base of the rivet through.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Ginger Jeans in Marc Jacobs Stretch Denim from Mood Fabrics

To pair with my jeans I wanted a sleek and simple top which might dress them up a little. I am always disappointed when the warm weather and sunshine depart but one failsafe way to cheer myself up is to embrace the trends for the next season and get to grips with my autumn/winter sewing plans. One idea that's really grabbed my attention this year is using velvet for more casual garments when it is traditionally viewed as a fabric more suited to evening/special occasion wear. I love the thought of mixing in a different texture in small areas of an outfit and the rich tones and plush nature of velvet seem to suit the season so well.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Ginger Jeans in Marc Jacobs Stretch Denim and Ogden Cami in Velvet from Mood Fabrics

I chose this Fudge Soft Rayon-Silk Velvet from the new arrivals page as the description sounds so luxurious and I was drawn to the warm, neutral tone despite the other lovely colours in the range. I like a slinky drapey velvet which is exactly what this is thanks to the viscose content. I paired it with the True Bias Ogden Cami pattern which I'll review in more detail in another post soon as this was actually my second version of the top. The fact that I've already made two kind of speaks for itself! To give you a brief rundown I cut the size 4 and took 1.75" off the length of the straps to get it to sit comfortably. Instead of using the half lining pattern pieces I chose to fully line this version as I thought the silk satin I discovered in my stash would be nicer against the skin than the back of the velvet.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Ginger Jeans in Marc Jacobs Stretch Denim and Ogden Cami in Velvet from Mood Fabrics

I'm pleased that I thought outside the box a little with the fabric choice for this pattern. The simple style is a great way to showcase a special or interesting fabric and it's pretty quick to construct so is nice to give yourself the challenge of working with something trickier to handle. And while I'm on the subject of tricky to handle this slippery little gem sure is that! it took real concentration to get this cut on grain but it did sew up surprisingly easily with the use of plenty of pins and a microtex needle. I did think that perhaps the little straps wouldn't work out great in the velvet and I almost opted to use the silk lining for them instead as that might have been a cute contrast but I gave the velvet a whirl and am delighted with how they turned out.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Ogden Cami in Velvet from Mood Fabrics

The pile of the velvet was slightly damaged from travelling all the way across the Atlantic in a box with a number of other less delicate yardages but it had a pleasing semi crushed finish which I went right along with and was a little heavy with my handling of it throughout. I think the slightly worn effect really works with the idea of using it for a casual garment to pair with jeans. I'm also looking forward to pairing this with a simple skirt and heels for a night out.

Now that my handmade wardrobe includes jeans I'm definitely going to be wearing home sewn almost every day. All in all being able to say 'thanks I made them' when a friend at work said 'they're nice jeans Fi, where are they from?' was one of the best feelings I've had since I started sewing!
Save

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Black Linen Alder Shirtdress

I'm racing to finish posting all my completed summer garments before the warm weather leaves us. Who am I kidding, I'm still racing to finish making all of the things I wanted to add to my summer wardrobe this year! One of the projects that was finished early on and has seen a whole lot of wear since is this black linen version of the Alder Shirtdress. Whilst I love making beautiful dresses out of gorgeous silk prints what my wardrobe really needs is a handful of more practical dresses which I can just reach for without thinking in the morning because they will be perfect for whatever the day may hold. In this I have managed to achieve just that. It's been worn at least once a week; to work, to picnics, to dinner and even out on a impromptu night of disco dancing!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Linen Grainline Alder Shirtdress

I made my first Alder a couple of years ago now out of some buffalo plaid flannel and have worn it to absolute death with dark tights over the last couple of winters. Two of my favourite things about it are how well it fits across the shoulders and the perfect proportions of those little pockets. It's a great cut and a summer version has been on my list for a while now. This time around I used this black linen from Sew Over It. You might think what's summery about black but I have admitted to myself that despite all the prints in my wardrobe I do resort to wearing it an awful lot; it must be working in the theatre that's done it to me! Unfortunately being black a lot of the details of the dress don't show up well in the pictures of it on me so I've taken lots of flat shots to show you the sewing.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Linen Grainline Alder Shirtdress

I haven't really worked with linen before so when it arrived it was a little heavier and stiffer than I expected straight off the bolt. A good hot prewash softened it up considerably and each time I wash it it's getting better and better and developing a lovely 'worn in' look. It does give an entirely different result to the flannel of my first version as the skirt definitely sticks out away from the body. It's always going to have a crisp element to its drape so if you're looking for something for a pair of wide legged trousers or a fluted skirt I wouldn't recommend it, you'll want something with more drape. But if you want to emphasise the shape of your garment this is perfect. Whilst I'm really pleased with this one it has made me want to make yet another version in a delicate silk/cotton or rayon as I think it would hang completely differently again.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Linen Grainline Alder Shirtdress

I've not had a lot of linen in my wardrobe as it's always seemed like such a lot of hassle to deal with how easily it wrinkles. My life in London would see me looking a crumpled mess by the end of the day. For some reason I couldn't get the idea of a linen Alder out of my head though and when I had a browse of the colours available on the Sew Over It site I thought the black might be quite forgiving when it came to creases. I'm now a total linen convert as even on the hottest of hot days on the oven that is the Central line I could bear the heat. Honestly this dress has been so SO comfortable whatever the weather. Next summer it's going to be linen all the way. I reckon pick the right linen for the right garment and the rumpled look can be quite beautiful!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Linen Grainline Alder Shirtdress

This particular linen has a lovely rustic texture to it but the weave of it, as with many linens, means it can be quite see-through when worn in the sun. Rather than wear the extra layer of a slip which would undo the benefits of having a breezy, breathable summer dress for the hot weather, I decided to underline in a lightweight cotton lawn. I just did this for the dress front and back and simply hand basted the lawn to the linen and treated them as one throughout the construction process. It's worked out really well and the extra benefit of it is having the soft lawn next to the skin rather than linen which may be a little coarse.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Linen Grainline Alder Shirtdress

I cut the exact same size as last time (size 4) as I was so happy with the fit and just about squeezed it out of a metre and a half. Last time I shortened it quite a bit as I preferred the proportions on me with tights but this time I kept the length of the pattern as I knew I'd be wearing it with bare legs. I'm not 100% sold on the shirttail hem and if I make another would probably level it off a bit by lengthening the sides. Although I've been wearing my first version almost exclusively unbelted with this I've been wearing a belt more often than not (Though on super hot days the breezy a-line silhouette has been a godsend!). I think I'm more comfortable with the loose trapeze shape when it's shorter.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Linen Grainline Alder Shirtdress

It's such a fun garment to make as there are some nice fiddly bits to get your teeth into. Plus a lot of topstitching which is one of my favourite things to do! The accuracy needed requires your concentration which is exactly what I like when I sew. It really helps me to switch off from work or whatever other thoughts are buzzing around my head because all I have room to think about is the task at hand. Sure, sometimes I want to sew something a bit mindlessly to switch off but getting lost in a challenge can be very soothing.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Linen Grainline Alder Shirtdress

I'm so pleased with how neat I've managed to get some of those trickier aspects and how the details look on the inside with the linen against the cotton lawn. The fact that the linen presses so well and holds a fold or crease really helped get a clean finish but it's the instructions themselves that are the star of the show. The sew-along over on the Grainline Studio blog is also fab. I particularly love Jen's instructions for finishing the armholes with bias tape. This and my previous Alder are definitely the best results I've ever had with bias and I think it's to do with the extra step of under-stitching the seam allowance to the bias before folding it under.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Linen Grainline Alder Shirtdress

The only thing I did differently to the instructions was to use the burrito method for the yoke. I chose the burrito method as my favourite skill for Day 2 of #sewphotohop on Instagram the other day because it's such a great technique! If you want to try it out it's covered in this post in the Alder sew-along but can be applied to any shirt. I usually follow Andrea's collar tutorial for all my shirts and dresses but this time I decided to try something new as I was having such success by following the rest of the instructions to the letter. I found it a little fiddly this way around but it might have just been the unknown causing me to feel uncertain. The tidy result speaks for itself.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Linen Grainline Alder Shirtdress

Does anyone else find there is always one little thing about a sewing project which doesn't turn out quite right and so no one garment is ever quite the perfect thing your were aiming for? I actually quite like this as one of the amazing things about making your own clothes is the story behind it and that it's personal and unique to you. I was so so proud of how this dress was turning out; possibly my best collar yet and super neat binding. So so close to being perfect. And then I came to mark the buttonholes and realised my mistake. Some of you may have spotted it already! I attached the placket to the wrong side of the dress so it now buttons like a man's shirt with left over right! Ah well no one will notice. Just me as it feels a little odd to button up!

All in all a big success and one that I'm sure is going to see a lot more wear. I've got to the point where I feel like I'm wearing handmade much more than I'm wearing RTW and it's such a good feeling! Being able to say 'thanks I made it' never gets old!

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

August Indie Pattern Update!


Summer is drawing to an end (although it seems to be winding up in style with lots of sunshine here in London which I'm not complaining about!) but I'm not done yet with sewing up the summer outfits! It seems many designers are not done with releasing summer appropriate styles yet either. I'm always so inspired to sew for the warm weather yet have a constant battle between wanting to be at my machine and wanting to be outside making the most of the sunshine. Anyone else struggle with that little dilemma?!


New Pattern Companies


  • Meghann has been selling handmade clothing and bags over at Halfmoon Atelier for a few years now and has just made one of her designs available as a PDF sewing pattern! The Roma Midi Skirt is to be the first of many and is a minimalist style featuring a rounded side slit and single pocket. I love her aesthetic so am looking forward to seeing more.
  • Another new company to pop up this month is Opian. Launching with three PDF patterns all available in English and French, the collection includes the Cemette Skirt, Pollux Top and Alvernia Dress.

New Patterns


  • The latest addition to the Megan Nielsen pattern collection is the Harper Shorts and Skort. I'm a particular fan of the close fitting shorts with those round patch pockets.
  • The two patterns released with this month's edition of Seamwork Magazine were the Elmira Cardigan, which is a cropped wrap ballet style design, and the Lynn Dress which is a button back tailored shift with a yoke.
  • Amongst Style Arc's new releases this month are the Jema Panel Dress, Cold Shoulder Knit Top, Amanda Stretch Short, Juno Slip Dress and Stevie Jean Jacket. I always find Style Arc so quick to pick up on current trends like the oversized denim look with the jacket and I've got a feeling I'm going to be purchasing that slip dress as soon as it's PDF format is released.
  • I wasn't sure whether to include this or not as technically it's a Big Four release rather than indie but who doesn't want a bit more pattern news?! Madalynne has released two lingerie patterns with Simplicity, one for a soft bralette and one for a more structured bra. Both patterns come with panties and I am looking forward to trying these out.
  • In a similar vein, Gertie's next two patterns in collaboration with Butterick have just been released. True retro style isn't really my thing for everyday wear but the little jacket is super cute!
  • Jennifer Lauren released the Gable Top. It's a 1950's inspired knit top with a slash neck. It looks particularly good in stripes in the samples!
  • The latest release from Itch to Stitch is the Belize Shorts & Skort pattern. You can create five different styles of short and skort with this one pattern and all feature an elasticated waist so no fastenings! 
  • Jenny from Seamingly Smitten launched a pattern for a women's off the shoulder top. I've been a big fan of this style all summer and love the lantern sleeves on this particular pattern.
  • New from Sew House Seven is the Nehalem Pant and Skirt pattern (PDF only). The design is based on Thai fisherman trousers with a kind of paper bag style wrap and tie waist. I love a bit of ikat so m particularly drawn to that sample!
  • Made by Rae released the Gemma Tank. It's a quick project with a shirt tail hem and options for a high or low neckline.
  • The Jumpy Shorts and Trousers are the latest release from Ready to Sew. The ideal beginner trouser pattern, they have a relaxed sarong style and tie at the front waist so super easy to fit.
  • Rachel from House of Pinheiro has revealed another pattern collaboration; this time in partnership with UpCraftClub. I love the clean lines of the Everyday Blouse which is made unique and interesting with gathering across the shoulders and sleeve darts.
  • The latest pattern from Tessuti is the Frankie Dress and Top. Designed for knits it features a flared hem and slim sleeve, with four sleeve length options and two dress lengths.
  • Christine Haynes released the Rumi Tank. It's a sporty racer back tank top and dress pattern which would be a great wardrobe staple. I've really enjoyed seeing the variety of them that have already been made up and blogged.
  • New from Sew This Pattern is the Birdie Bomber Jacket. I feel like I'm going to be wearing a lot of bombers this autumn and this one is nice and simple to make with dolman sleeves and ribbed collar, cuffs and hem.
  • Joost from Make My Pattern released the Aiden A-Shirt. It's his first pattern aimed more at beginners and is for a man's undershirt with a whopping 10 design options to make the vest your own.
  • Sew Caroline released the Magnolia Shorts. They are a relaxed, casual style that look a bit like mini length culottes with a wide elasticated waistband for comfort.
  • Just in time for the turn of season Deer & Doe released the Safran Pants. This one has been a big hit in my blog feed. They are a high waisted pair of skinny jeans/trousers and I love the shape of the front pockets.
  • Maven Patterns released the Kitty Dress. It features a centre front seam which the bust darts extend from, a peter pan collar and elbow darts on the longer sleeved variation which are probably my favourite part!
  • The latest release from Hot Patterns is the Bellissima Biker Jacket. It looks like a good project to get your teeth stuck into and could be made up in a whole variety of interesting fabrics.
  • Hot off the press and released just today we have the new Wrap Dress from The Maker's Atelier. It's designed for knits, can either be worn wrapped and tied or with a fixed crossover front and has a fashionably loose fit and long sleeves. 
  • And last but by no means least new from Wear Lemonade is the India Jumpsuit. Another killer design from them and I'm absolutely in love with the denim sample. Long sleeves, wrap front and rear patch pockets.


Pattern Updates and Expansion Packs



Sew-Alongs


  • There is a sew-along coming for the Tea House Top and Dress which was launched by Sew House Seven back in June. This has looked to be very popular on sewing blogs and I think it's about time I tried a design from their beautiful collection.
  • Christine Haynes has published a variety of hack ideas throughout the month for her last release, the Lottie Dress. My particular favourite was the chevron colour-blocked version.
  • The sew-along for By Hand London's new Charlie Dress has just begun over on their blog. There's still time to get your pattern and supplies together to follow along!
  • Jennifer Lauren will be posting a tutorial series to guide you through making her new Gable Top. As well as guidance on sewing it up, variations including a 3/4 length sleeve and elbow patches will be included.
  • Deer & Doe are running 'Safran September'. A whole month of blog posts dedicated to trouser and jeans making so you can make your ultimate pair from their new pattern!


Upcoming!


  • Charlotte Kan revealed that her next pattern will be the Elskan Dress and Top and it will have a batwing shape.
  • I'm pleased to see that Kristiann from Victory Patterns is in the process of testing her next pattern. I loved the Hannah Dress. She's also got a promotion running until 22nd September; buy one printed pattern and get the next half price! 
  • Pauline Alice has posted a couple of sneak peaks at a new pattern on Instagram. It looks like it might be jeans or trousers to me, possibly in a boyfriend fit. Can't wait to see!
  • Seamly Co. have a new pattern coming soon. It's called the Versalette and from what I can gather from Indie Sew Instagram sneak peaks it has a relaxed fit and drawstring neckline.
  • So Zo...will be releasing a maternity dress version of her Dolores Batwing Top pattern soon and is currently looking for testers.
  • The next By Hand London pattern is named the Alix Dress and looks like an on trend seventies style with lovely voluminous sleeves and no fastenings.
  • Colette Patterns have a new pattern set to be released on 6th September. They've given away very little yet except to say that it is a return to what makes Colette special.
  • And finally the Autumn/Winter 2016 Named collection is set to be released tomorrow! I'm always super stoked about this as I love their style and it's always such a treat to get a whole new collection at once. It's called Evolution Theory and includes nine patterns in total, two of which are 2-in-1 patterns.

Well that's another big list this month with a lot to look forward to in the next. As always if you know of any more news please feel free to pop it in the comments and I'll update the post whenever I can. I'll leave you with a little bit of indie sewing inspiration to get you fired up to finish your summer sewing or get stuck into an autumnal wardrobe!



  • Jasika kicked the month off with a bang with her stunning peach Bonnell Dress with circle skirt. She's really made the most of that gorgeous double sided fabric.
  • Katryna from Boots and Cats' Sway Dress is an absolute knock out. It's the perfect style to show off a big bold print like the beautiful one she's chosen.
  • Novita's Kielo Wrap Dress may well be my all time favourite version of that pattern. The print she has chosen is absolutely made for that pattern and the finished dress suits her down to the ground.
  • Lisa posted her Axel Skirt and Inari Tee over on the Tessuti blog and they are an awesome choice to pair together. I love the top in stripes and may have to steal that idea!
  • My jaw dropped when I saw Anne's satin version of the Delphi Dress. I never would have thought to use a satin for this pattern but it works SO well. She has sewn it beautifully too.
SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave
SaveSave

Monday, 22 August 2016

Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt & Charcoal Renfrew Tee

This little outfit has been another favourite in my wardrobe this summer. But frustratingly one of those that it is incredibly difficult to get decent pictures of that reflect how much you love it in reality. Ah well. You'll just have to take my word for some of it! One of my favourite pieces of fabric I brought home from my trip to the West Coast of the US last year was this amazing piece of mustard rayon from The Fabric Store. I've gushed about my love for this shop previously as I was so delighted with the carefully curated selection of dressmaking fabrics on offer. I really was spoilt for choice. I love wearing garments made with rayon and there were some beautiful prints so my instant draw to this solid mustard took me by surprise. It was such a great vivid shade with a touch of lime to it and top quality rayon too.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt and Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

It's taken me nigh on a year to get around to turning it into something wearable. Purely because it is one of those pieces that I knew I'd never get my hands on again and I didn't want to waste it on the wrong thing. I'd bought 1.5 yards as I had a feeling I wouldn't want to make a full dress out of it as it can be a tricky colour to wear, particularly next to the face with my colouring. Separates were the way to go. The solution hit my slap in the face when I spotted a girl walking down a road near my flat  looking absolutely amazing in a floaty pair of midi length mustard culottes. Rayon is made for summer wear and that was the perfect way to wear mustard in summer. I didn't have enough fabric to go with a super wide pair of culottes so opted to imitate the look with a simple skirt instead.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt and Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

As it was such a simple shape I decided to get creative and draft it myself. I wanted the skirt full enough for the fabric to billow in the breeze but not so full that it became impractical to handle. I opted to go with a rectangle for the front and a rectangle for the back with the fullness coming from pleats into the waistband. I'm not a fan of gathers around my waist and liked the idea of how wide pleats would look.

To establish the width of each rectangular piece I measured my waist, divided that by two and added on 3cm for seam allowance (1.5cm at each side). Then I worked out how many pleats I wanted and how deep they should be and added twice the depth of each pleat times the number of pleats. You need to add twice the depth as the fabric folds back on itself within each pleat. A really easy way to do it without too much maths is to slash and spread your skirt pattern piece at each pleat position by twice the depth of the pleat. I cut the length of the skirt as long as my yardage would allow and adjusted the length to suit once it was sewn up.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt

I inserted an invisible zip into the side seam to keep the look sleek. Finding a zip to match this unique shape proved an impossible task! I quite like the little touch of neon but maybe I should try the trick of colouring my zip pull with nail varnish! I'm a fan of a fairly narrow waistband and used the By Hand London Holly Trousers pattern piece as a guideline for the size as I really like how that one sits. As the rayon is really delicate and prone to distortion I interfaced the waistband with a fairly sturdy fusible.

Rayon is notoriously shifty and this was one of the trickiest I have tried to cut. Getting nice crisp rectangles was a challenge. It does press amazingly well though so those pleats really hold their crease despite being a little tricky to iron in evenly. It comes out of the washing machine looking like a totally different fabric to after a good press! I wash my rayons on a 30 degree delicate cycle in the machine by the way. The only unfortunate thing about the fabric is that it does wrinkle quite badly and quickly. By the time I've done the morning commute it's looking pretty rumpled. It does look quite lovely like that in the way that linen does but sometimes I do wish it could look as chic and put together as it does when I put it on first thing in the morning.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt and Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

I wasn't a fan of the midi length when it first came on trend and really didn't think I could pull it off with my petite proportions but now I can't stop wearing it! I think it's all about getting the hem length to hit at just the right point, getting the volume of the skirt right for your fabric choice. I'm so glad I went with a simple garment. I think when working with a special piece of fabric I sometimes have the tendency to overthink a project and try and make something spectacular, particularly when it's a solid colour. Really there's no need. A simple design lets the fabric speak for itself and that's certainly what this does. It really shows off the beautiful drape and flow of this rayon to it's full potential.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt and Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

I had a couple of tops in my wardrobe to work with the skirt but decided I really needed a classic slim fitting tee to wear with it. Something which my wardrobe could still do with a few more of. I turned to the trusty Sewaholic Renfrew Top pattern as I've had great success with it in the past. It was really satisfying to return to a pattern I used quite a long time ago as it really showed me how much my sewing has come on. I had this one whipped up in a matter of a couple of hours and I think my finishing is the best yet!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt and Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

I had just (and when I say just I mean JUST!) about enough fabric left over from my Turtleneck Top to squeeze this t-shirt out. It's a Heather Grey Cotton Spandex from Girl Charlee and is the perfect match for this pattern. I'm definitely going to be making more t-shirts out of this type of knit. It's a great weight with good recovery and has been washing up a dream. The high cotton content means it presses beautifully so getting that neckband eased in and sitting flat was super easy.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

I opted for the round neck and used a slightly larger seam allowance than instructed on the neckband as I like it to be really skinny. I then twin needled around to help everything sit flat. All the seams were sewn with a narrow zig zag on my machine then finished on the overlocker as usual for me. I made sure to stabilise the shoulder seams with twill tape. This takes no time at all and will make a big difference to the longevity of the garment. I omitted the hem and cuff bands as I prefer the simple clean look of a simply turned and twin needled them. I also think this makes the t-shirt a better length for me. I'm pretty petite so don't need the extra length the bands give.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Mustard Rayon Midi Skirt and Charcoal Cotton Sewaholic Renfrew Tee

I basically decided to make the top when I saw how great the shade of grey marl looked against the mustard. It was a real whim and I wasn't sure how it would turn out but it's been worn so much already! This is definitely down to the fit. It feels snug but doesn't cling to the body at all. I'm still getting to grips with the effect different knits can have on a pattern and making up more of these tees might be a great way to experiment. The fabric choice makes such a difference when comparing this to my other favourite Renfrew (the navy and white striped version from this post) which is a much more slinky jersey with a bit of viscose in it. It doesn't hug the body in the same way despite being exactly the same size and finished in exactly the same way.

Overall two hugely successful additions to my wardrobe. Let the sunshine continue please!
SaveSave