Thursday, 15 February 2018

Bamboo Jersey Anegada Top and Giveaway!

One of my sewing goals for 2018 is to try out some new independent sewing pattern companies. Its very easy when you find a company you get along with, both in terms of fit and instructions, to stick with them. When you've got limited sewing time you don't want to risk wasting any of it on a project which might not turn out so well. Or have to spend precious hours fiddling with fit and new construction methods when you can fall back on the familiar, and the security of sizing you already have confidence in. But I'm keen to push my skills this year and try some new techniques and styles. The first of these ventures into the unknown is the Boat Neck Anegada Top from Halfmoon Atelier which Meghann very kindly sent me a copy of to review.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Halfmoon Atelier Boat Neck Anegada Top in Bamboo Jersey from Offset Warehouse

I have actually tried out a Halfmoon pattern previously (the Ballet Top Delpy) but I made a terrible fabric choice and never shared it. I sewed it up when I was really stressed and overwhelmed by work last year and decided squeezing in a sewing project would make me feel better. Of course trying to tackle a new pattern, in limited time and with a fabric that frayed horrendously pretty much as soon as you looked at it didn't turn out so well. Now I'm in a much better headspace and have some more leisurely sewing time on my hands it was time to try another Halfmoon Atelier pattern and I'm happy to report a much more enjoyable sewing experience and a successful outcome. Perhaps it is time to give Delpy another go!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Halfmoon Atelier Boat Neck Anegada Top in Bamboo Jersey from Offset Warehouse

I think this design would work in a wide variety of knit fabrics and each would give you quite a different outcome. My top is made up in this beautiful bamboo jersey from which is also available in two further colour-ways. Offset Warehouse are a social business that stock eco fabrics and haberdashery. They focus on fairly sourcing products from all over the globe that benefit the planet and the people who make and handle them. I've been aware of Offset for a little while now but this is actually the first time I have sewn with any of their fabrics. For some reason I had presumed that as sourcing ethically produced fabrics must be really tricky their handpicked range would be quite limited but after checking out the website I'm kind of blown away by the variety. In particular the stretch and sportswear sections as I've always found it difficult to hunt down good quality knits in wearable contemporary prints. I'm absolutely delighted to discover this new treasure trove and had a really hard time whittling down a choice. I'm very taken with their organic cotton jersey stripes in particular.

Halfmoon Atelier and Offset Warehouse are a perfect pairing with their focus on sustainable fashion. Meghann's ethos is to live, design and sew simply, creating well made wardrobes of foundation pieces to help us in that. I've been seeing a lot on social media lately about our community culling their wardrobes and trying to make more careful choices in their sewing so I'm sure this will resonate with a lot of you! If sustainable sewing and working with fair trade fabrics is of interest to you Meghann has a great list of ethical fabric suppliers on her site. She's really opened my eyes to how achievable making your wardrobe and sewing more ethically friendly can be.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Halfmoon Atelier Boat Neck Anegada Top in Bamboo Jersey from Offset Warehouse

I chose to make view A of the pattern with the cowl neck and cuff & hem bands as I thought the cowl would best suit the drape of my jersey. Bamboo is quite a slinky, slippery knit with a bit of weight to it so won't work for a style which needs structure or volume; it will just collapse in on itself. I think the best way to describe it is moving like water! I have generally found bamboo jersey to be better suited to a slouchy style like this than a close fitting top as it can be quite clingy. I used it to make an Agnes Top a couple of years back and felt quite self conscious in that because it pings back on itself so tightly. That sounds kind of negative but actually that shows the excellent recovery it has! It is silky smooth to the touch and the natural fibres make it breathable so is just lovely to wear. I'm hoping to use my leftovers for the exterior layer of a second Pneuma Tank as I think the weight and drape is perfect for that.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Halfmoon Atelier Boat Neck Anegada Top in Bamboo Jersey from Offset Warehouse

I cut a size 4 which was pretty much spot on my measurements although I was concerned about there being what seemed like a huge amount of ease around the waist. I didn't want to feel like I had too much fabric around my middle or to look too boxy. In actual fact its the ideal width in this area. I could probably do with a fraction more room around the bust (my clingy fabric choice probably isn't helping here) but it is just the right amount of snug around the hip. If you're not cutting your bands on the bias and are making one of the smaller sizes you could definitely get this out of one metre of 150cm wide fabric. If cutting on the bias I'd recommend giving yourself 1.25m as that waistband pattern piece is quite large. View B you could get out of 1m no matter what you decide to do with the neckband.

Talking about cutting bands on the bias in a jersey might be confusing you there and I must admit I was a little confused when I first spotted that on the pattern pieces. But it means that you can get away with using something like a sweat-shirting which doesn't have as much stretch as you might need around the hip. The pattern suggests cutting your neck, hem and cuff bands across the grain if your fabric has more than 50% stretch and on the bias if less than. I love this attention to detail and proof that real thought has gone into the pattern. The bamboo jersey is incredibly stretchy but I opted to cut my pieces on the bias anyway as I liked the idea of the dash design being on the cross in these areas to contrast with the main body. Kind of like Meghann has in her striped samples.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Halfmoon Atelier Boat Neck Anegada Top in Bamboo Jersey from Offset Warehouse

Another part of the instructions which baffled me at first was the finishing of the cowl neck. You turn the raw edge over twice towards the right side of the fabric and only secure it in place at the ends where it runs into the armhole. The instructions say that the fabric will naturally roll over. I'm sure in some fabrics this would happen, particularly something a little softer like a cotton jersey or terry but my bamboo did not naturally want to behave. That great recovery and 'ping back' was not working in my favour! It also probably didn't help that I finished the raw edge on the overlocker as suggested in the instructions as this can sometimes prevent edges from curling; usually a good thing! I wasn't keen on my overlocking showing which it was as the jersey didn't want to roll right over so ended up topstitching the edge down. It looks like a binding now and I made a bit of a feature out of it by using a pink thread that matches the dashes in the fabric. If making this view I would recommend giving some thought to what the reverse of your fabric looks like as it will show and also don't cut the centre back neckline notch as that is only required for view B and might be visible in the cowl version.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Halfmoon Atelier Boat Neck Anegada Top in Bamboo Jersey from Offset Warehouse

There was a lot I liked about the instructions for this pattern. The clear layout makes it really easy to follow and they are packed with tips and detailed construction information. A beginner could quite confidently tackle this pattern I would imagine as there is plenty of advice for working with knit fabrics. What I really liked was the brief summary instructions at the back of the booklet which break the construction down in quick bullet points so if you're a more experienced sewer or it is your second time making the pattern you can just refer to that. The fact that indie sewing pattern instructions tend to include such a wealth of information now is fantastic as they are so accessible for all skill levels. But the length of the instructions can be a little overwhelming and unnecessary if you know your way around a knit top so I love having the key points laid out on one page to keep you on track and steer you through the more unusual aspects.

I tend to sew with PDFs more often than not these days, partly because some of the patterns I want to make (like this one!) are only available in that format. After assembling my fair share of pattern downloads I can safely say that Meghann has got it spot on with making that part as straight forward as possible without too much wastage. It was easy to distinguish your size from the rest as the lines are printed in different colours. But if you prefer to print black and white (colour printing can be so costly!) the lines are still different variations of dashes in the usual manner.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Halfmoon Atelier Boat Neck Anegada Top in Bamboo Jersey from Offset Warehouse

I'll be honest and say that when I first checked out the pattern I wasn't sure how well it fitted with my everyday style and what else was in my wardrobe so I made my fabric choice thinking that it would actually be great for yoga. But now I've tried it I quite like the shape and am really considering making a couple more in soft, matte cottons for day to day. I think it looks great with slim jeans but could also be lovely tucked into one of my high waisted floaty viscose skirts in the summer. A french terry with a Breton stripe would be delicious and seeing the texture on the reverse of the fabric roll to the outside around the neckline would be a lovely detail. I also think going up a size or even two and using a snuggly sweat-shirting would be a great look. The versatility of this style has taken me by surprise and I'm really glad I stepped out of my style comfort zone! As for this version I've been wearing it a lot for yoga as intended and it is great for that kind of exercise. I don't like to wear anything too tight fitting on my top half for yoga and the amount of ease in the body is spot on. The wide waistband is just tight enough around the hips that it sits in place no matter what shape I twist myself into and the slimmer fit of the sleeves also feels nice and secure.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Halfmoon Atelier Boat Neck Anegada Top in Bamboo Jersey from Offset Warehouse

If you fancy making one of these tops yourself I've got good news as Halfmoon Atelier and Offset Warehouse have teamed up to offer you whopper of a giveaway! You can make my exact same top as the winner of the giveaway will receive a copy of the PDF pattern and also 1.5m of the same bamboo jersey as I have used. To enter all you need to do is leave a comment on this post by midnight GMT on Thursday 22nd February and if you like tell me about your experiences with ethical sewing. I'd love to discover some more suppliers and pattern companies with this mindset. The giveaway is open to UK entries only and as always please make sure to leave your email address in the comment if it is not easily accessible through your profile so I can contact the winner and arrange delivery of your sewing goodies! Big thanks to both Halfmoon Atelier and Offset Warehouse for so generously offering up this giveaway and giving me the opportunity to try out something new. Good luck!

44 comments:

  1. Lovely top and fabric - nice work. In terms of ethical sewing I usually find that it is possible to layout the pattern pieces to avoid using so much fabric leaving me with more useful scraps. While ethical sewing appealing I feel that the cost can be prohibitive especially if a risky new pattern or seller.

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    1. That is a really great thought ShelleyLou and one that we can all easily adopt without it costing us more...it might in fact save us a bit! I've always been one for squeezing patterns on to the minimum amount of fabric possible and not following the recommended layout. I then find I end up with about half a metre left all the time though and never know what to do with it!

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  2. I love your top. I'd love to try it out myself. I would like to sew more sustainably, starting with sewing my stash and using my scraps for small projects.

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    1. Sewing with your stash and making use of scraps is a great and very achievable way to get into ethical sewing, I definitely think cutting down on the stash and only buying fabric when you really need it is important

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  3. Gorgeous top! I'm a huge fan of the Organic Textile Company. The fabrics are beautiful, and not expensive

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    1. O thank you so much for the introduction to them! What a huge and beautiful selection!

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  4. What a lovely top. I'd love to find more ethical fabrics, especially great if there is a good range of technical materials! I don't do much at the moment to ethical sewing, but I do try to save up my fabric scraps to recycle at H and M rather than binning them.

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    1. I am yet to try out the H&M recycling scheme but it sounds great so will definitely do that next time I've got a bag of fabric scraps to go. I'm quite new to the world of organic textiles but am now amazed at the variety on offer. These bamboo knits are great for activewear

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  5. Beautiful top. I don't have any experience with ethical sewing, or sewing clothes in general - well, not unless you count what I did at school 40 years ago! The fabric is gorgeous, and I'd love to have a go at a knit pattern, thanks for the opportunity to win.

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    1. O do give clothes sewing a whirl Helen, it is so much fun and so liberating! I definitely recommend trying a knit project as they are very forgiving to fit

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  6. Beautiful fabric and top. I’ve checked out the fabric supplier and love what they have! Nice find!

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    1. They have an amazingly wide selection of unusual things don't they? Thanks very much!

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  7. Such great pairing!! Love bamboo fabrics and this pattern looks fab. I try to sew sustainably by recycling old textiles (generally using garments found in charity shops!)

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    1. O that is a wonderful way to think ethically, saving on landfill and excess fabric production at the same time! I have so much admiration for people who can so creatively recycle old garments from charity shops, I just can't think that way about sewing

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  8. Thanks Fiona for sharing this interesting pattern and fabric choice. As for ethical fabrics I have found them to be above my sewing budget

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    1. That is a very good point Tracey, they do tend to be rather expensive because of the extra cost of producing them ethically. Some of the other commenters have given some great tips about being more thrifty when cutting fabrics, recycling old garments and recycling your fabric scraps as a way to get involved which I will definitely be adopting. I think I now try to buy less fabric but of better quality, saving up for a special piece rather than buying on a whim

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  9. I love bamboo yarn and now will try bamboo fabric, lovely top and very nicely completed.

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    1. O I'm not much of a knitter but bamboo yarn sounds lovely! The jersey is so smooth and soft to wear

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  10. I began sewing about 4 years ago partly because I became increasingly uncomfortable about where and the conditions of producing the garments were taking place. I felt better about making my own until it was pointed out to me that the fabric I was buying came from the same sources. Now more experienced and aware of all aspects I try to source fabric ethically too. Your blog is very educational in that respect Fiona, thank you.

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    1. What a wonderful reason to start sewing Jan, but yes it is disappointing when you realise you are still feeding another ethically questionable industry by buying fabric. It is fantastic to see so many sewers taking more of an interest in this side of their sewing. Do check out the Organic Textile Company too as suggested by one of the other commenters

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  11. Loving yours so I would love to have a go! If you've seen my last post I've just made the Burda top with bamboo jersey. I was surprised at the weight, heavier than I thought but glorious drape. A little tricky to sew and does show every lump and bump so I might make it a little looser over my tum!

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    1. Yes it is surprisingly heavy isn't it Mags! It has a drape different to any other jersey I have worked with because of it.
      Defiantly a clingy one too so requires some careful thought about what it is used for
      Absolutely love your top, that back detail is gorgeous!

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  12. I'm so happy to see more sewing bloggers talking about ethical sewing. I started my blog (Sewstainability) in January to document my makes and try and raise awareness of ethical sewing practices. As Jan has already mentioned above, one of the things I liked about sewing my own clothes was that I wasn't taking part in unethical and environmentally damaging fast fashion. But unfortunately the majority of fabrics marketed to sewists are produced under the same conditions. I love what Offset Warehouse do and have been following for a while but haven't bought anything yet so would love to win this competition! More affordable ways to sew sustainably are to reuse textiles that are already in existence and heading for incinerators/landfill if they don't find a home - sheets/bedding/fabric from charity shops/ upcycling clothes / buying overstock fabrics can all help reduce our impact as sewists. Thanks for sparking these conversations Fiona! And good luck everyone!

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    1. I've just followed your blog Vicky, you have some really lovely projects on there already! What a great focus for your blog to have.
      Buying overstock fabric is another great tip. I love coming across bolt ends from designer lines and love that they get passed through the system to us home sewers so every last bit gets used up

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  13. I'm a big fan of ethical sewing, it's part of the reason I make my own clothes in the first place! I'm also a big fan of the Organic Textile Company, their fabrics are really nice quality and very reasonably priced. I've used their bamboo jersey, sweatshirting and denim, plus I've got some of their bamboo rayon sitting in my stash. Definitely going to check out Offset Warehouse as well - I'd love some bamboo jersey prints!

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    1. I can't believe I hadn't come across the organic Textile Company before, it seems like I was missing out on a well known supply of great ethically produced fabrics! Great to hear a good report from someone who has tried a variety of their products

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  14. You did a lovely job on the top and thank you for a chance to win. In not sure if this counts but I stopped buying new fabric. I have a huge stash and only buy at thrift shops or estate sales. Sometimes it might be a duvet cover that I take apart. I recently found 2 identical matlisse shower curtains...very high end that I can turn into a coat. Or even a blanket! It all started out as fabric so why not deconstruct and re-use?

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    1. That ABSOLUTELY counts! I think if we were all a little more careful with our fabric purchases it would make a huge difference to the industry as a whole. So many of us sit on stashes of fabric which will never get sewn and which it has cost the environment in some way to produce. Buying fabric we don't need is as bad as buying fast fashion we don't need in a way
      I 100% agree that anything made of fabric is fabric we can use to create a garment!

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  15. I have never sewn with bamboo jersey before, so this would be an exciting challenge for me.~kitty8

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    1. It is quite unusual but really love to sew and wear

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  16. I try to reuse old fabric and garments and have discovered recycled thread by gutterman.
    I buy bamboo when I see it and your top looks great. I could imagine it is great for yoga.

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    1. Gutterman do recycled thread?! Thats amazing!! Thanks so much for introducing me

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  17. I cant say that I am very good on the old ethical sewing front as far as the sourcing of ethical fabrics goes. But I do all my pattern cutting flat so that I can squeeze patterns into the smallest amount of fabric possible and then keep my offcuts to try and get more things out of them.

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    1. I think making the most out of your fabric and considering what you do with offcuts instead of being wasteful is a hugely important part of ethical sewing Pippa!

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  18. Gorgeous fabric and top. I’ve checked offset warehouse’s website and love Their fabrics.
    Wahegurusab13@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks very much! They do indeed have a beautiful range

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  19. I've been making my own clothes since I heard about the Rana Plaza collapse and the sweatshop working conditions associated with fast fashion. I was horrified, and immediately made the decision to opt out of the system. I have now got to the point where I have the confidence to use more expensive fabrics and have been actively seeking suppliers of ethical fabrics. My current favourite is Organic Textile Company in Wales, then today someone put me on to Offset Warehouse, as a result of which I've just placed my first order with them, found your blog, and ordered the Delpy pattern from Halfmoon. I would love this pattern and fabric to add to my collection!
    Dee, dee@deeweaver.co.uk

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    1. I think that event triggered quite a few people to think a bit more about their clothing consumption and I think it is wonderful that it spurred you on to make your own clothes. Getting to the point of investing a bit of money in your fabric choices if when the fun really starts and you'll notice your sewing come on leaps and bounds!
      What a wonderful journey you have been on in just one day! I hope you enjoy sewing both with the Delpy pattern and the Offset Warehouse fabrics!

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    2. I think I will, Fiona. The fabric arrived yesterday and it's absolutely gorgeous!

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  20. I have just started dressmaking again after a twenty five year break and I am overwhelmed by the choice of independent patterns and online fabric and I really enjoy catching up with your blog to see what you have been making but have yet to try any ethical suppliers. i agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment of quality not quantity. Lisa. Lisabhk@yahoo.com

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    1. You have put into words the best way we can all think about sewing ethically there Lisa! Less fabric, of better quality, which we will actually sew with rather than random purchases which will languish in our stash.
      it can be rather overwhelming, I never feel like I am quite keeping on top of all the ideas and inspiration. So lovely to hear that you are enjoying my blog!

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  21. Not much experience here with regards to ethical sewing but try and do my bit by recycling and upcycling. Am totally going to check out Offset warehouse too! n.branderhorst@gmail.com

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    1. Recycling and up-cycling is a very important part Natalie, theres no point buying ethically produced fabrics if you're not going to use them well/at all or recycle them afterwards

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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!