Monday, 29 December 2014

McCall's 6772 Zipped Hoodie

Pattern: McCall's 6772
Fabric: Main - Marl sweatshirting from Josery Fabrics.  Contrast: Winter Flowers by Ottobre Design.

Very often I'm lured by a pattern by how stunning it looks on a model or on a fellow sewer (sewist?) and I don't think about whether a) it would actually suit me, and b) would I actually get a chance to wear it.  My Dahlia dress is a case in point - might be OK in an office, maybe not so suitable for the school run.

I do wear hoodies though.  Constantly during cooler weather.  I bought McCall's 6772 very cheaply as an out of print pattern.  It looks like 6772 has transmorgified into McCall's 6614. 


I was going to make the sweater at first as funky sweaters in contrasting fabrics are popular at the mo.  But I found it quite hard in the UK to find sweatshirting fabric.  There are a lot of plain options, and a lot of options for thin sweatshirting.  Cute patterned sweatshirting though?

Enter Ottobre Designs which has a gorgeous range of fabrics on Etsy.  Pricey, but definitely good quality.  I splurged on half metre of their Winter Flowers design.  But what colour to contrast it?  Very helpfully they had made up the fabric as a child's hoodie.  Marl grey worked perfectly.
So cute.  Made by Ottobre Designs.
I had also heard good things about Josery Fabrics.  Their website isn't as inviting as other fabric shops, but if you call them with a query, they are friendly and delightful!  I asked for samples and got a full range of all their coloured sweatshirting free of charge.  It is thick proper sweatshirt fabric.  Very decent quality.  And having all the colours helped confirm which would go best with the Ottobre fabric.  If you want to order a few metres, call them about reduced postage.

Now I had to think do I really wear hooded tops or zipped hooded tops?  Look at how cute that little girl's hoodie is! How easy would it be to add a seam allowance down the centre front, cut it off the fold and whack in a zip?  I asked on The Sewing Forum and was advised to be aware of hemming first before zip insertion - maybe obvious and yet I know I would have missed that somehow.

So some other changes I had to make:
- shortened body by 3cm - I only had 50cm length of fabric.
- took over 6cm off the sleeve width.  They were HUGE.  I don't have flappy sleeves syndrome with ready-to-wear, so why especially with the Big 4?
- shortened the sleeves by 6cm.

I figured that if the hoodie was too short, I could add a hem. I decided not to as the shape curves inwards at the side bottoms. Pity, as it could have helped stop that little kick at the front there.

I also learnt that sweatshirting isn't that stretchy.  The same fabric is used for the cuffs and I mistakenly thought if I had cut 6cm off the sleeve width, I should do the same with cuff. Maybe that would be the case with ribbing but not this fabric!  On the other hand, I am absurdly pleased at how the cuff turned out.

One thing that I'm not crazy about is how humongous the hood is.  It's more like a cape's hood. 

Also, I tried to cover the hood seam with cotton tape.  I'm not the neatest sewer and just had to make do in the end.

But I love the hoodie!  It's had plenty of wear and has made me think a bit more carefully about my next makes. 
From the back pondering next makes...

Monday, 8 December 2014

Dahlia: two toiles and many adjustments later...

Pattern: Colette Dahlia
Fabric: slight stretch, quite thick dogtooth something - feels manmade.  Lewisham Market GBP3 per metre

I'm a sucker for a sew-a-long, and when Colette brought out their Dahlia pattern, I leapt on it. Such elegant gathers, such a gorgeous neckline!  And the modelled green version is to die for.

I ignored the fact that high waistbands are not a good look for me - I don't want to be asked "when's it due?" again!  I also saw a few blog posts about loose necklines and gaping shoulders.  But with a sew-a-long to help, I thought we could work it out.

I made two toiles which revealed that size 4 would be tight and confirmed that a) yes, high waistbands look rubbish on me, and b) the shoulders gaped.  The waistband was lengthened and darts put at the shoulders.  I also lengthened the sleeves as I wanted something for winter.

lengthened waistband

Once sewn up, the dress was roomy at the sides and the sleeves flapped.  The bodice and skirt are encapsulated by the outer and inner waistbands.  It looks lovely, but is a pain to unpick!  If the fabric is thick, there is quite a lot of bulk in this area for the zip.

The shoulder darts were too pointy due to the fabric, so they became inverted pleats. 

shoulder pleat

I have seen some gorgeous versions of this dress, especially lovely plaid ones.  My dress looks a little formal, something to wear to an office maybe?  Now that the pain of fitting it is over, if I make another one (and there are soooo many patterns on my to do list that this is a big 'if'), I would make a brighter, lighter, fun one!

If only I worked in an office again...

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

New Look 6154 Kilt and Simplicity 1283 Top

Skirt pattern: New Look 6154
Fabric: Needlecord from Rolls & Rems (Lewisham)
Kilt buckle: Hemline

This is another Boden rip-off homage!  I loved their cord kilts, but when I see something I think could be relatively easy to sew, I definitely want to make not buy!
Boden kilt

I bought the fabric from Rolls and Rems in Lewisham and as it's just one metre, I splashed out on the more expensive needlecord (GBP10.50 a metre).  I've worked with their cheaper cord before and it just was not a nice experience: fraying, huge crease down the middle where the fabric had been folded, immediate creasing elsewhere... this needlecord was so much softer, more pliable and much better quality.

New Look 6154 is a fairly straightforward pattern.  I used view E which has a mock wrap front.

I made a toile in size 14 originally - it was huge, so I went down to a 10.  Omitted the belt loops, made the front 'kilt' part a sharp corner instead of a curve, lined it with lime green cheap fabric and hand sewed a kilt buckle on.

I'm quite pleased with it.  There were two buckles in the pack but I thought one would be a bit more subtle.  So I have a spare buckle and there are some really nice tweed kilts on Boden that look very inspiring for another make!

Pattern: Simplicity 1283 Mimi G Style
Fabric: Walthamstow Market

When I was little, my dad used to take me to Walthamstow Market every Saturday.  I hated it then, but I LOVE it now.  There are about five or six bricks and mortar fabric shops.  It's quite a trek for me so I have a prepped list!  This fabric is some lightweight jersey, I think it was GBP2 a metre. Great for summer, not so good for making polo necks!

I saw Mimi G's designs at Simplicity - so sexy and smart!  And a chevron polo neck, what's not to love?  Although after 2 kids and zero crunches I was not going to go for a cropped look.
But this turned into an exercise in mishaps! It's frustrating when something I think should be a quick make turns out to be an exercise in unpicking, re-doing and ultimately re-fashioning!  

It's probably my fault:
  • I generally use cheap fabric on the first try as a wearable toile.  Here I should have paid attention to how much stretch is needed i.e. not much. I definitely needed something with better ping back!
  • All those stripes to align!
  • I was wondering why I needed two pieces for the back and thought I could get away with just cutting on the fold (think of aligning those stripes). But there's a zip at the collar and partway down the back.  That's why you need two pieces.
  • I should have used some kind of stabiliser around the neckline.

Anyhow, the upshot was that the collar was very loose, very messy.  The zip at the back of the collar was floppy and uncomfortable.  I had to reline stripes a number of times.  And the armpit area was verging on bat-wing territory.

I tried to make a shorter collar but in the end took the whole collar and zip out.  Amazingly the bodice fit well, and so did the back - even though I had taken about 3 cm out due to the cut on the fold business.

But I really like the chevron effect.  And I still love the designs.  Every project is a learning exercise, and I would still like to have another go at the polo neck.  Plus that cardigan looks great to snuggle up in.