Saturday, 29 February 2020

Stitched Silk/Cotton Olya Shirt and Washed Linen Persephone pants

If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen that Ed and I went back to Africa for a couple of weeks in January. Ed has spent a lot of time in a number of countries there but last year's big trip to Botswana and South Africa was my first and I completely fell in love with the continent. We couldn't resist returning and this time travelled around Uganda, again camping in a tent attached to the roof of our hired 4WD. The absolute best way to experience the wilds of Africa! We had another amazing experience including trekking to see the mountain gorillas in Bwindi and the chimpanzees in Kibale plus a whole heap of other adventures on our self drive safari. I'll write another post with more details of our itinerary if anyone is interested but for now I'll try to stick to the sewing!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Paper Theory Olya Shirt in Stitched Silk/Cotton from The Fabric Store and Anna Allen Persephone Pants in Washed Linen from The Cloth Shop


I'm sharing with you today the two biggest successes of my handmade holiday wardrobe. After our last trip there were a couple of things I wanted to add which I thought would be useful. I needed to make some kind of lightweight cover up that would work as part of numerous outfits, something that would keep the sun (and mosquitos!) off but not get too hot. I had my zero waste kimono with me last time but it wasn't always the most practical garment; better suited to lounging around on the beach! I've never been much of a shirt wearer but this was definitely going to be the most useful kind of layering garment I would take with me. I love making shirts for other people but wasn't hugely inspired to make myself one. In the end I was inspired by the fabric to make a nice soft oversized shirt that could be styled in a number of ways to suit a number of purposes.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Paper Theory Olya Shirt in Stitched Silk/Cotton from The Fabric Store

I used this stitched silk/cotton from The Fabric Store. This fabric is an absolute gem. I very rarely buy fabric without a specific project in mind as I hate waste and also hate having a huge stash sitting in the corner. I feel like it puts so much pressure on me to make more things and faster! This however was a fabric that I ordered just because I wanted it. I was so intrigued by the unusual texture and description of 'horizontal stitches across the full width which gives it a lovely weight and natural hand feel' . I had in the back of my mind that it might work for a shirt but had no specific plans. It was a little crisper than I imagined when it arrived but after a wash softened up a treat. It is lightweight but still has a bit of body because of the stitching. I was worried about the inside stitches catching and pulling but it is a surprisingly sturdy fabric. It rumples SO beautifully when worn! It doesn't look creased just beautifully soft and worn in.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Paper Theory Olya Shirt in Stitched Silk/Cotton from The Fabric Store and Anna Allen Persephone Pants in Washed Linen from The Cloth Shop

The pattern I chose is the Olya Shirt from Paper Theory. I've been meaning to try out another of Tara's designs since I made and fell in love with the popular Zadie Jumpsuit last summer. Chic, contemporary, clean lines and interesting cutting and construction seems to be the key theme of the Paper Theory collection. The Olya shirt is a prime example of that. It might at first look like a classic oversized shirt but in fact the front yoke is part of the sleeve pattern piece and the breast pockets are slotted into the seam between the front yoke and body pieces. Such clever drafting.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Paper Theory Olya Shirt in Stitched Silk/Cotton from The Fabric Store

The unusual construction of this shirt made it such and enjoyable project for me as I really had to think about what I was doing and follow the instructions to the letter. I love sewing when it feels like a glorious surprise that those steps you just followed turned in to this garment in your hand and that feeling crops up less and less now I've been sewing nearly a decade. Assembling the pockets and front yoke/armhole area was a little tricky and confusing but I took it slowly and got there in the end. I'm pleased with the results but feel like the pocket openings could be a little neater with practice.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Paper Theory Olya Shirt in Stitched Silk/Cotton from The Fabric Store

I like the way the design details carry through the whole shirt in a unified way. The squared cuffs work with the square ended sleeve plackets and those right angled corners carry through into the pocket top stitching and where the back of the sleeve meets the shoulder. I prefer the sleeves rolled up (particularly as you get the lovely contrast of the stitches on the inside of the fabric against the outside) but I did wear them down quite a lot of holiday to protect from the strong equatorial sun and mosquitos. The buttons I've had in my stash for a little while. They came from Ray Stitch who have a really beautiful selection of buttons. I like the effect of the darker wood against the pale fabric. I noticed when I was packing for this trip that I seem to have a bit of a thing for wooden buttons! I used a lightweight fusible cotton interfacing for the plackets, collar and cuffs which was a good match for this fabric.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Paper Theory Olya Shirt in Stitched Silk/Cotton from The Fabric Store

When I first finished the shirt I was pleased but not blown away. However, after about a month of wear it has become one of my all time favourite additions to my wardrobe. In the heat it was great for wearing open over clothes too as a sort of lightweight jacket but also on its own done up. I swear I wore it nearly every day hence why there is dirt in areas of this that is never washing out now! O that African dust never leaves you! I didn't get time to photograph it before we went away so you're seeing a very well worn in version in these pictures. The fabric rumples SO beautifully when worn. It doesn't look creased just beautifully soft and worn in. It almost feels like a piece of well loved vintage clothing already.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Paper Theory Olya Shirt in Stitched Silk/Cotton from The Fabric Store

The trousers are a pair of Anna Allen Clothing Persephone Pants which I made way back last spring. They haven't seen a huge amount of wear over the last 9 months or so but on holiday they were a surprise hit! These were meant to just be a muslin to test out the size and fit before I cut into some denim but they are actually more successful than the denim pair which I haven't blogged yet. The design is based on mens 1920s-40s US Navy sailor trousers and I absolutely love the cut. The super high waist and width of the slightly cropped leg is a winner in my book.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Paper Theory Olya Shirt in Stitched Silk/Cotton from The Fabric Store and Anna Allen Persephone Pants in Washed Linen from The Cloth Shop

What is really interesting about this design is that there is no side seam. Or at least there is supposed to be no side seam...there actually is on my pair as I pieced them together from linen I'd had in my stash for ages and I didn't have two pieces big enough for the huge pattern piece needed for each leg! As I was cutting a muslin I didn't mind a side seam and simply cut my pattern piece in half and added a seam allowance. I rescued the linen from a show I did a couple of years ago. It was actually sewn into a large ancient robe but the show was only on for one night and the fabric was good as new! The fabric originally came from The Cloth Shop on Portobello Road which is one of my favourite fabric shops in London. All their fabrics are exquisite; particularly the linens. This is their washed linen in slate and it is the ideal weight for a trouser. It is soft and has movement whilst retaining a little structure and I really love the slubby texture. I thought in this linen which has more drape than a sturdy denim or twill you might miss the structure of the fabric which emphasises the lovely cut of the leg but I don't think you do.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Paper Theory Olya Shirt in Stitched Silk/Cotton from The Fabric Store and Anna Allen Persephone Pants in Washed Linen from The Cloth Shop

With no side seam I was a little concerned about adjusting the fit if needs be. I fall between sizes for this pattern; a 4-6 for the waist and 8 for the hips. Without a side seam how do I grade between sizes you may ask! Anna recommended I cut the size for my hips and then take in a little extra at each of the two back darts to fit my waist. This worked a treat. There are a couple of issues with fit around the bum which I've seen a few other bloggers comment on. The 'wedgie effect' doesn't bother me at all in this linen and I feel the trousers hang nicely but in my denim pair fit issues are much more pronounced. There's definitely too much fabric below the bottom in the denim but I don't see it with these; then linen must be much more forgiving!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Anna Allen Persephone Pants in Washed Linen from The Cloth Shop

These are so quick to make (even with my added side seam!) and the instructions are fantastic. The only thing I did differently was to take a tip from a post on the Tessuti Fabrics blog and add a horizontal line of stitching between each button hole on the fly. You can't see it from the right side as the buttonhole piece is just attached to the rear of the fly but it makes a big difference in terms of how flat the fly sits to your tummy. Without the stitching the fly would be likely to gape open and show the buttons. As I was making what I thought was a trial of the pattern I just grabbed some buttons from my stash. The grey ones for the fly aren't a brilliant colour match but they are hidden away enough that I haven't bothered to change them. The little colourful button of the waistband makes me really happy!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Anna Allen Persephone Pants in Washed Linen from The Cloth Shop

I adore the way the pockets look and are constructed (there is a slit opening just along the waistband seam) but they're quite hard to get things in and out of because of where the opening is right on your natural waistline. The bag is the perfect size for a phone but it is quite uncomfortable to sit down with a phone in a pocket there and it is not the most flattering place to have a phone shaped lump either! If I made a shorts version I'd probably omit the pockets.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Paper Theory Olya Shirt in Stitched Silk/Cotton from The Fabric Store and Anna Allen Persephone Pants in Washed Linen from The Cloth Shop

I love these two garments together but also with multiple other garments in my wardrobe. I can't wait for the warmer weather to hit Britain so I can get these out again. It feels like a long way off yet...

8 comments:

  1. That looks an extremely useful shirt, and what a fabulous fabric!

    Look forward to a post about your travels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The fabric is really something special! So unusual!
      Sorry I haven't got around to writing the travel post yet! Next on my list!

      Delete
  2. This fabric is absolutely gorgeous...I can see why you bought it before deciding on a project. So wonderful that it was used in such a successful garment. It looks perfect for an African holiday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a very rare thing for me to buy fabric on a whim but I just couldn't resist this special piece! So glad that the garment turned out well and I didn't waste it

      Delete
  3. Both are so beautifully sewn and such lovely fabrics!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Can I ask how you've successfully laundered the stitched-silk/cotton (water temperature, in the machine or by hand, hanging to dry or using the dryer)? I also have a length of this fabric and am planning a Closet Case Kalle shirt dress, but I am nervous about popping it in the machine, even on the delicate cycle, due to the silk content.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello! Sorry for the delayed response, your message went to the spam folder!
      This fabric will be absolutely beautiful as a Kalle! Please do share it when you are done
      I washed it in the machine as I cannot be doing with lots of hadn't washing or dry cleaning so I always go for a machine pre-wash to see what happens. If I'm concerned I'll wash just a small cutting first. This I washed on a gentle/delicate 30 degree cycle which is how I do all my silk, viscose and merino wool
      Good luck!

      Delete

I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!