Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Navy Viscose Crepe Solina Top

The project I'm sharing with you today is a bit of a sewing fail. I don't often write a project off as a fail but persist until it turns into something that I can love and wear but I don't think there is anything I can do to save this one! I'll be writing it off as a toile that taught me a lesson and moving on.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Breaking the Pattern Solina Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Crepe

The pattern (the Solina Top from the Breaking The Pattern book from Named Clothing) is gorgeous. And the fabric (a viscose crepe in a beautiful deep navy from Atelier Brunette) is equally gorgeous. They are unfortunately not so gorgeous together. The fault is entirely mine as I didn't read through and think through the construction of this top before taking the plunge. If I had done I would have realised that the style would benefit from a fabric with a bit more body and structure than this very delicate crepe. Looking at the images in the book I presumed that the top was loose fitting and cinched in at the waist by the ties. The ties are actually stitched into fixed pleats. This is great as it all sits correctly when you are wearing it but it is much more of a fitted style than first anticipated. I would have put more thought into the fitting if I had realised.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Breaking the Pattern Solina Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Crepe

The Atelier Brunette viscose fabrics are absolutely exquisite in their luxurious delicacy and almost luminous sheen. They are perfect for billowing romantic designs which I mistook this for with the beautiful bows around the waist and cuffs. A viscose isn't entirely the wrong choice but this design requires something with more weight and substance like a viscose twill perhaps. The back of the top is fitted with a centre back invisible zip and two closed darts. In a fabric this lightweight the area around the zip really needs interfacing; mine ended up all stretched out and as the fit of the top is quite snug there are some unsightly wrinkles and twisting going on back there. A lesson has been learned in being too hasty!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Breaking the Pattern Solina Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Crepe

I think the bows are very nice in a fabric with drape, although this particular fabric is a little limp and I'm wondering if they might have benefited from some interfacing. They would be wonderfully dramatic in something crisp and structured! Another thing to bear in mind when working with and Atelier Brunette crepe is that it has the most beautiful lustre but it really shows up every wrinkle and fold. You also need to be careful when pressing as it shows up every mark and seam allowance imprint if you are too vigorous.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Breaking the Pattern Solina Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Crepe

With the 'Breaking The Pattern' theme the ladies at Named are encouraging us to get creative with a bit of pattern hacking and the patterns are designed to give you the freedom to play around with your own design choices. I can't say much pattern breaking went on for this top as I pretty much followed the instructions to the letter but one choice I did make was to include the slim stand collar. I deliberated over this choice for ages and think in the end I made the wrong one as a bit more skin on show at the neck might balance the design out better on my figure. What is unusual with the collar is that it is finished with a facing rather than folded under and topstitched or slipstitched down. You end up stitching in the ditch around the collar anyway so I think I'd do without the facing if I made this again.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Breaking the Pattern Solina Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Crepe

As you might remember me saying in the post about my jumpsuit from Wendy Ward's book, I'm not a huge fan of sewing with patterns from books but both with this project and my previous I was pleasantly surprised with how quick and easy the tracing process was. Again I'd chosen a project which was a little further along in the book so I had to do a lot of cross referencing between instructions for other patterns to make this one up. It all got a bit confusing but turned out OK when I got into the swing of things. When working from a book I generally find the projects take a bit longer, especially the prep work and getting used to how to how the book works to find the info you need. This isn't necessarily a bad thing and I'm definitely trying to slow my sewing down and enjoy each stage of the process at the moment. Maybe more sewing from books is the way to go!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Breaking the Pattern Solina Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Crepe

I cut the size 3 (UK10/EU 38) which is spot on my measurements and the size I always cut with Named patterns. It looked like this one included a generous amount of ease so I'm quite surprised by the closeness of the fit. It isn't too small though and the fit of the sleeves and across the shoulders is spot on for me. I generally get a good fit with their patterns and the only thing I ever adjust is the length as I'm quite petite. With this top I left the sleeve length as it was (a little long) as the ties keep them sitting in the right spot and I like the slight blouson effect created by the excess length. The length of the top itself I deliberated over as it looked quite short in the book. The amount of fabric I had allowed me to lengthen the pieces by 5" from the hemline (I had 1.5m of 140cm wide fabric) but I trimmed 4.5cm of this back off once I'd tried it on. I'm still not 100% sure on the length the hemline feels a bit blunt to me and no matter what height I made it it seemed to cut my torso off in a weird spot. Proportionally I think the length of this is in general is a bit off on my body shape as the pleats don't open out over the bust quite right either. I think I need to take a little of the length out above the waist. If I'm honest with myself I had my doubts about how much I would like this style on me when I started making it but I was sucked in by how much I loved it in the book and on everyone else!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Named Breaking the Pattern Solina Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Crepe

I do think this style would look much more balanced on me as a dress and if I find the right fabric I may well give it a whirl and play around with the front pleats a little. This top has served me very well as a practice run of this design...even if the fabric was a little bit too special for a practice! While I await the right fabric falling in to my lap there are plenty of other designs in the beautiful book to keep me busy; the Halla Coat is on my list to sew for next winter and I adore the Rae Pants with the front splits. I think they would be great for beach attire. I can't get enough of that chic Named Scandi style!

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Ochre Viscose Twill Hannah Wrap Top

The Hannah Dress from By Hand London has been on my radar since it was released last year and has proved to be a very popular choice so far this Me Made May. I love a wrap style; so flattering and easy to wear and sew too without any buttons or zips to fiddle around with! I have had trouble previously with getting wrap necklines to sit right on me and therefore before plunging in with a dress I opted to make the top/tunic version first. The top isn't illustrated on the pattern but there is a marking for the tunic length peplum on the skirt pattern pieces which I used. This is the exact length you're looking at here.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Hannah Wrap Dress Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Twill

The fabric I've used is a beautiful viscose twill from Atelier Brunette. They very kindly gifted me two lengths from their Autumn 2019 collection shortly after release. This is the 'twig' design in the ochre colour-way. FYI their new Summer 2020 collection is absolutely exquisite! I've worked with Atelier Brunette fabrics previously and the quality is sublime. They feel so luxurious. The viscose twill is very fine with a beautiful drape and buttery soft hand. All their viscose has a really elegant sheen to it. The lightweight, shifty nature of these fabrics can make them a little tricky to work with but I recommend patience, stay-stitching and lots of fine pins and the results will be worth it!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Hannah Wrap Dress Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Twill

I made the UK 10 which is pretty much bang on my measurements and is the BHL size I usually make. It has come out slightly big all over which might be to do with this fine and delicate viscose stretching out a little as I worked (despite my careful handling and stay-stitching!). I sort of wish I had made one in a crisp cotton something first to get a better idea of fit but I kind of like the overall rumpled and blousy effect in this billowing viscose! It has been a while since I've made a BHL pattern and I forgot that they are drafted for a slightly broader and longer shoulder than mine. I usually end up taking their patterns up through the shoulder slightly (so shortening the distance between the shoulder and bust) for a more secure fit and think this would have made the world of difference for this top.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Hannah Wrap Dress Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Twill

As I was nervous about the depth of the neckline I added about 3/4" depth to the central point (where the v is deepest. I marked this point on my pattern pieces and marked 3/4" out from there on paper stuck behind and then drew a gradual curved line out so to nothing at the shoulder seam and waistline. This drapey, fluid fabric kind of flops down over the chest so I'm not sure that the alteration has made much difference but I think in a crisper more structured fabric the neckline would be fine. I don't feel at risk of full exposure but as I move around it is a little bit too booby for me!  I will probably just add a small popper at the centre front neckline to help me feel more secure and in future versions I think my plan to take it up at the shoulder will solve this.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Hannah Wrap Dress Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Twill

The long edge of the neckline is finished with a narrow bias tape facing. I only just managed to squeeze the top out of the 1.5m of fabric I had (those beautiful sleeves are fabric eaters!) so I had to use something else for the bias tape. I opted for the other fabric that Atelier Brunette had sent me; the viscose crepe in the exact same shade of navy as the twigs. I liked that the crepe had a similar weight to the twill so wouldn't effect the drape of the main fabric along the neckline. I love the contrasting pop on the inside of the garment but obviously had to be very careful when applying it so that none of it peeked out on the wrong side. I also stitched it down with navy thread in the needle and ochre thread in the bobbin so the stitching matched on both the right and wrong sides.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Hannah Wrap Dress Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Twill

Speaking of thread colours I overlocked my internal seams and plumped for grey thread but don't love how it looks. I've always only kept black, white and grey overlocker thread cones as they seem to generally cover all bases between them and I don't have much storage space. But making this has made me wonder if I should add a rust/brown thread to my collection as I have been gravitating to warmer shades lately. How closely do you match your overlocker threads to your projects?

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Hannah Wrap Dress Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Twill

By Hand London does drama really well and these sleeves are no exception! The pattern comes with three sleeve styles; short, tulip and big bishops sleeves! They are certainly the talking point of this top. Definitely not altogether that practical (I wouldn't recommend cooking in this...trust me) but actually much easier to wear than I imagined and ever so glamourous. I love them and will definitely be using this pattern piece to add dramatic sleeves to a number of other patterns. I almost used the navy viscose for the sleeve ties as I thought it might make a nice contrast but I'm glad I stuck with the same fabric actually. I've seen people use elastic instead of the ties if that's your preference but you could also substitute in pretty ribbons for the ties so you don't have to make them. I spotted someone use organza ribbon the other day which is a lovely delicate romantic touch.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Hannah Wrap Dress Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Twill

The difference with this style of wrap and a lot of others I have made is that there are two sets of ties to fasten (one at each side seam, inside on the right and outside on the left) which eliminates the hole in the side seam which one tie usually pulls through in order to wrap around the waist. I really like this but it does mean the fit is slightly less forgiving as you haven't got the flexibility of being able to just pull this a little tighter if it comes up a bit roomy. Jess from By Hand London made dress version recently for which she made the exterior ties bigger so there is a big bow on the waist which I love!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Hannah Wrap Dress Top in Atelier Brunette Viscose Twill

The instructions are good as I have come to expect with all By Hand London patterns. They are thorough without being overly detailed, they don't hold a beginner's hand but use good construction techniques which will leave you with a lovely finish. With it's multiple variations and hacking opportunities this is certainly a pattern I can see myself getting creative with in the future. I'm envisioning a tulip sleeved top and bishop sleeved cheesecloth dress at the moment but the inspiration seems endless...

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Floral Viscose Shelby Dress

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Shelby Dress with Lacing Back in Viscose Twill from Guthrie & Ghani

The True Bias Shelby Dress pattern has been on my radar for a while. I love the nineties grungy vibes! However, it took until last month for it to get made and find a place in my wardrobe as I had a hard time finding the fabric I wanted.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Shelby Dress with Lace Back in Viscose Twill from Guthrie & Ghani

I really wanted a viscose, the drape of which would make the most of the movement in that full panelled skirt. I also wanted a print rather than a solid but didn't want anything too twee and girly as the Shelby style is already quite feminine. Viscose prints I want to wear are very hard to come by! I mulled over a fair few from Fabric Godmother (who do stock a really good selection of viscose and rayon including their own vintage inspired prints) before stumbling upon just the thing on the Guthrie & Ghani stand at The Stitch Festival. This was only at the end of February but the thought of being at a big crowded event like that such a short time ago seems so surreal to me now.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Shelby Dress with Lace Back in Viscose Twill from Guthrie & Ghani

I had initially thought I wouldn't want a floral but I feel in love with the deep, rich colours of this print when I spotted it on the shelf. Unfortunately I can't see it on their website so it must have sold out. It is a viscose twill and what is particularly nice about it is the weight and opacity. I'm always a little hesitant about buying rayon or viscose online as some (particularly crepes) can be really quite flimsy and sheer. I prefer a bit of body to my viscose and think some weight really adds to the beautiful movement. It was so nice to be able to look at this one in person at the show. It a joy to sew with this fabric and it is even more delightful to wear. It is cool and smooth against the skin and swishes about dramatically. I machine washed it on a 30 degree gentle cycle and so far it hasn't faded or pilled at all and it presses really well with a medium iron. I used a microtex 70 needle to sew this and it moved through the machine without much shifting about. It is worth taking your time cutting viscose and making sure everything is laid out flat and on grain as it is easy to end up with some misshapen pattern pieces.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Shelby Dress with Lace Back in Viscose Twill from Guthrie & Ghani

I cut the size 4 and it feels comfortably roomy, if perhaps just slightly too roomy across the shoulders. This might have to do with my fabric choice as viscose and rayons fabrics are quite delicate and do tend to stretch out a bit as you sew but the finished garment measurements do indicate a fair bit of ease. If making again I might size down to a 2. To prevent stretching I was careful to stay-stitch the neckline and press only with an up and down movement of my iron rather than side to side. I cut the ankle length version and as I'm quite short I envisioned taking quite a chunk off the hem to make it more of a midi length but once it was sewn up I loved it just as it was.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Shelby Dress with Lace Back in Viscose Twill from Guthrie & Ghani

This dress is a bit of a fabric eater but no where near as much as the fabric requirements chart suggests. My memory is a little hazy but I believe I bought 3m of this fabric and managed to squeeze it out. I used a lightweight fusible interfacing on the facings and the buttons are some beautiful shell ones from my stash. My mum (and absolute hero nursing on the wards at the moment) bought them for me years ago and as she's a big fan of Peaky Blinders I'm sure she'll be pleased that they have been used on such an appropriately named dress.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Shelby Dress with Lace Back in Viscose Twill from Guthrie & Ghani

The dress is formed of eight long panels which flare out into the skirt with a facing to finish the centre front opening. There is no waist seam but shaping is provided by a tie in the back which is inserted between the back and side back panels. When I was looking at inspiration for this dress I spotted a really interesting hack on the True Bias blog for a lace up back and opted to add that in. It was really quick and fun to do and I love the finished look - although it is quite difficult to see in a photograph when sewn in this print! You make the ties as usual but join them into one long separate tie. Then you make six little rouleau loops which you insert into the side back seams instead of the ties. I centred one of the loops on the notch marking where to attach the ties, and one above and one below this. I think this is a little lower than where Kelli placed them on her sew-along version.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Shelby Dress with Lace Back in Viscose Twill from Guthrie & Ghani

There are two styles of sleeve to choose from, a classic short sleeve or a cap sleeve with a curvier bottom edge. I went for the cap sleeve but slightly wish I'd gone with the traditional version as I think it better suits that 90s grunge feel.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Shelby Dress with Lace Back in Viscose Twill from Guthrie & Ghani

I added two slits by leaving the bottom of the seams between the centre front and side front panels open below the knee. I think I could have actually made these slits a little bit longer to match the length of the opening beneath the last button at the centre front. To finish the slits nicely I sewed the seam, backstitching a few times at the top of the slit for strength. I finished the seam allowances on the overlocker then pressed the seams open before topstitching around the edge of the slit to secure the seam allowances down. To add strength at the top of the slit where it might pull as I walk I added a bar tack.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: True Bias Shelby Dress with Lace Back in Viscose Twill from Guthrie & Ghani

As I've come to expect with True Bias patterns it was a really enjoyable sew and I had no problems whatsoever with the pattern or instructions. Everything comes together just as it should and I didn't change anything about the construction methods. The pattern comes with the option to make it into a romper and I'd love to make a short romper version for summer; cute and practical! 

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Houndstooth Fibre Mood Jasmin Trousers

After my last post reviewing a project made from a sewing book I've got something else a little out of the ordinary from me today; a project from a sewing magazine! These are the Jasmin Trousers from the latest edition of Fibre Mood. Each edition of the magazine contains around 14-15 sewing and knitting patterns, some with multiple variations. When browsing through those included with issue 9 the Jasmin Trousers jumped out as effortlessly chic and wearable and also interesting to sew with that paper-bag style waist and belt.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Fibre Mood Jasmin Trousers in Houndstooth Wool from The New Craft House

From afar they look like a solid purple/grey colour but they are in fact made with a black, red and ivory houndstooth wool suiting from The New Craft House. My original plan was to use some pale pink linen but I was worried that the wrinkly, rumpled nature of linen wouldn't suit this paperboy style. I felt like it needed something a little sleeker with a tighter structure that would hold the shape well. Then I remembered this suiting which I've been eyeing up for ages! I was considering buying some to make some BHL Jackie Trousers (and realised that it IS in fact the fabric used for one of their samples!) and also really loved Rosie's version of the Utu Pinafore made up in it. Luckily they are still shipping during the pandemic and had some left in stock. All of the fabric at The New Craft House is deadstock (left over from collections by local designers) so you can shop knowing you're doing your bit for the planet too.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Fibre Mood Jasmin Trousers in Houndstooth Wool from The New Craft House

I would call this a medium weight suiting fabric as it has thickness and some body but it still retains a nice drape and movement. It is beautiful quality. I washed it in the machine on a gentle 30 degree cycle and pressed it with a medium iron and it has come out lovely and smooth. I did fin using a clapper beneficial to get nice flat seams as the fabric has a bit of bounce to it. I'd already assembled my PDF pattern and was therefore able to figure out that you need much less fabric than the instructions suggest if you are making one of the smaller sizes. I managed to get these out of 1.5m of 160cm wide fabric. I added interfacing to the top edge of the front and back pattern pieces which is folded down to make a facing along the waistline. I felt like that paperboy waist could benefit from a bit of structure to create nice crips pleats. If you need to do that too depends slightly on your fabric choice. I also interfaced one side of the belt to help that retain a nice shape and not go too floppy.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Fibre Mood Jasmin Trousers in Houndstooth Wool from The New Craft House

I initially got on really well with the pattern (apart from the measurements all being supplied in cm which always throws me off a little!). I really liked the layout of the instructions and preparation information. It was all very clear. I thought the instructions were thorough without being overwhelmingly so. I think they've got them just right. I particularly liked the use of colour in the illustrations to make it really clear what was the right and left front when assembling the fly and where the interfacing goes. On the pattern pieces themselves there are different shaped notches in different places which I've never seen before and is an interesting technique to avoid confusion. V-shaped notches, single notches and double notches.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Fibre Mood Jasmin Trousers in Houndstooth Wool from The New Craft House

The only thing I did find confusing about the pattern pieces themselves is the marking of the seam allowance, so you have a line marking the stitching line and a line marking the raw edge. Once you've got all the sizes overlaid that is a lot of lines and notches to get muddled between! I've never used pattern pieces to check the size of seam allowance, always used the instructions so this seams a little unnecessary. The markings for the tailors tacks were also a little hard to identify for the different sizes but I managed to figure it out! EDIT - I've just been informed that it is possible to print just the size you need using the layers feature of the pattern download and you can remove the extra seam allowance line too if you like. You will need to use Adobe Acrobat Reader to do this which I didn't!

 I did feel like some of the marking points referred to in the instructions were missing from the pattern pieces (in particular for the fly and on the front pieces for the pockets) and would be interested to know if anyone else found this too? EDIT - the pattern has now been amended to include the missing markings. Also on the list of supplies there is a snap but no mention of applying it in the instructions that I could see. I presumed this is for the waist above the zip as it felt like it needed something to hold it closed there.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Fibre Mood Jasmin Trousers in Houndstooth Wool from The New Craft House

As I discussed in my last post I haven't made many garments from books because I find tracing off patterns from the overlapping and very confusing pattern sheets very confusing! It is the same with sewing magazines. However, the beauty of Fibre Mood is that all their patterns are available to download and print off as PDFs too! I'm sure the process of assembling the PDF takes just as long if not longer than tracing but the more familiar PDF process just feels easier to me. The option to buy the PDF of the pattern is great if you don't want the full magazine and some patterns are available in paper format too!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Fibre Mood Jasmin Trousers in Houndstooth Wool from The New Craft House

I cut the size 10 and then took a little more out of the back darts to make the waist more of an 8. If you're going to take the waist in like this I'd be hesitant about taking in too much as the fly zip is quite short and so you might struggle to get the waist over your bum to put them on! Speaking of the fly, I found the method a little confusing as it was unfamiliar and you have the facing to deal with and the result isn't perfect but wearable. I had to use a purple zip as that was all I had and lockdown means no zip shopping for me!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Fibre Mood Jasmin Trousers in Houndstooth Wool from The New Craft House

Every time I've tried out a paper-bag style waist before it has felt quite bulky and unflattering but the waist of this is nice and controlled and they feel really chic. The instructions have you hand tack the pleats and darts down along the waistline after you have pressed them to one side so everything sits as it should. I didn't get on with the instructions for the pockets at all and am not particularly happy with the finishing of them. This fabric frays quite a lot which made these fiddly bits even more frustrating. I resorted to hand tacking my pocket bags in place too to get them to sit correctly when the trousers are worn. There's also a little bit of hand stitching involved in the fly and turn ups, all well worth the effort to get a beautifully finished garment. If I make these again I'll probably shorten the belt by about six inches or so and possibly take a little off the length for a more cropped look. I might also rethink some of the construction techniques and do my own thing with the pockets or omit them altogether.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Fibre Mood Jasmin Trousers in Houndstooth Wool from The New Craft House

There's something about this combination of red and black houndstooth and the gold d-rings paired with this style of trouser that says 1980s power dressing to me! Never thought I'd want that in my wardrobe but I love it! The d-rings I ordered from Stoff & Stil (along with some upholstery fabric of which they have a beautiful selection!) who are also still shipping as usual during the pandemic. The package took about a week to come from Denmark which I thought was pretty great. I chose to use a red thread to match the red in the houndstooth as weirdly this was the colour which blended in best.

The t-shirt I'm wearing I've never blogged about despite having sewn the pattern up multiple times now! It is the Basic InstincT from Sasha at Secondo Piano and has become my absolute go-to t-shirt pattern. It ticks so many boxes for me after years of trying out tee patterns and failing to find one I really loved. The slim but not fitted cut, crew neck and neat little short sleeves are all winners for me.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Fibre Mood Jasmin Trousers in Houndstooth Wool from The New Craft House
Ruby really wanted to get involved in this photoshoot haha!

The making of these trousers was not all plain sailing and there were points when I got a little frustrated at not being able to achieve the finish I would like but the end result was worth it. They are a beautifully cut pair of trousers, they fit lovely around the waist and seat and hang really nicely. I think they'd be really cute cut off into shorts. I will definitely be trying more Fibre Mood patterns, purely for the pattern cutting! In this fabric they have a slightly masculine tailoring, Katherine Hepburn vibe which I am really enjoying dressed down with a t-shirt and trainers like this. The neat fit at the waist and generous cut around the hips and legs is SO comfortable. These are going to be so useful for work when practicality and comfort are key but I also need to look professional and presentable.