Fern Shorts

This month I was asked to do some pattern testing for Afternoon Patterns.

Their new pattern, the Fern Shorts, is due to be released today, the 1st September 2017.

I was really excited to be asked to pattern test for them. I have followed and admired Afternoon patterns for a long time. If you haven’t heard of them check out their amazing website. I love the aesthetic of their designs and their printed pattern covers are gorgeous.

When I first heard that the pattern I would be testing was shorts I did have an ‘uh oh’ moment. As you know I live in Shetland, and it isn’t really known for its shorts weather :). However, the lovely Jenny of Afternoon patterns mentioned that they would look great sewn up in lightweight wool fabrics and worn with tights, so I knew I wanted to go in this direction to get the most wear out of them all year round.

I had a piece of cotton and wool blend liberty fabric in my stash that was gifted to me by a really kind friend who knows how obsessed I am with fabric. It was 1.85m length which just happened to be the perfect length for this project so I felt it was fate.

I am so happy with how these turned out. I was nervous about the fit as I have struggled in the past to find shorts that I feel comfortable in, but I think these are really flattering. I did lengthen them by 2cm on the “lengthen or shorten here” line and that seems to have given me the perfect amount of room and they don’t ride up or feel remotely tight. I did size up to make sure they were loose fitting as I feel self conscious in tight shorts.

I would thoroughly recommend this pattern. It was a fun sew and I love my Fern Shorts. I can see myself wearing them a lot as they can be dressed up or down. The fabric is so soft, I could even get away with wearing them without tights on warmer days in the summer.

Fern Shorts Afternoon Patterns made by Attie and Dora

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Fern Shorts Afternoon Patterns made by Attie and Dora

Fern Shorts Afternoon Patterns made by Attie and Dora

 

 

 

 

Chambray Kalle Shirt Dress

Hello!

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet recently. We were on holiday, then moved house so I have been rather busy.

Anyway. I got my new sewing room set up, and finished this Kalle shirtdress (pattern by Closet Case Patterns).

Kalle Shirt Dress 2

I didn’t make any modifications, which was silly as it is a bit short for me. I also possibly should have sized down. For some strange reason I cut a size larger than I would normally. I think I thought it would look good even more oversized.

However, I still think it’s a great pattern. I will definitely make another in the right size. I am planning to make one in a slightly lighter weight fabric with more drape. Will let you know how it goes.

I am really into the style of this garment. I love how effortless, yet put together, it looks.

The fabric was some chambray from Merchant and Mills. It’s really soft and comfy to wear. Plus I love the colour.

Aaron and I took these photos on a beautiful evening in Burra. These photos were taken at 8pm. I love how bright Shetland is at night in the summer. We even spotted a whale on the way home, which was so exciting. Oh, and a wave splashed into my boot while I was trying to pose near the waters edge, the perils of blogging.

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Attie and Dora

Emptying my sea water filled shoe

Attie and Dora Kalle Shirt Dress

Attie and Dora Kalle Shirt Side

Attie and Dora Handmade Outfit

 

 

 

My First Hand-Knitted Jumper

Handmade Shetland wool Jumper Attie and Dora Shetland

Bit of a change of subject today. Although I think of Attie and Dora as very much a sewing focused blog, I have recently become interested in knitting and want to incorporate lots of warm practical knitwear into my handmade wardrobe.

Knitting my first garment was an interesting process for me. I had very little experience of knitting, but I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. I was a bit out of my depth, but jumping head first into this new challenge worked for me. I admit I did need help with deciphering some of the instructions. I find knitting pattern jargon really confusing. Luckily I know a few knitters who were happy to answer my questions. My mum taught me how to graft the armholes, I would have been clueless at that stage without her guidance. I used a youtube tutorial to figure out how to knit on four needles when I got to the neckline, but mostly I just went for it and figured it out as I went along.

The pattern included an icelandic style yoke, but I wanted a block colour for a more versatile garment. There is no name of the designer on the pattern, my mum bought it in a charity shop.

I bought the wool from Jamieson’s of Shetland. It is ‘mirrydancers’ Shetland Marl and I think I used 8 or 9 100g balls.

This project took me quite a while as I was only doing a few rows at a time in the evenings. I find knitting really relaxing and a fun alternative to sewing, particularly if I want to feel that I am doing something creative, but can’t be bothered to go up into my sewing room. I find I will knit while I watch tv and I love that  working in stocking stitch doesn’t require much concentration. It is sort of meditative.

It wasn’t all a breeze, there were moments when I made silly mistakes and was despairing a bit, but once I finished it I felt such a massive sense of achievement and have started my next knitting project already, a grey mohair cardigan using a pattern from Wool and the Gang.

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Driftless Cardigan

Just a quick post today. I wanted to show you the Driftless cardigan I made this week. The pattern is by Grainline Studio and it gets a big thumbs up from me.  I love the design and it came together really quickly on the overlocker.

The pattern calls for a medium weight knit and I wasn’t sure if this really soft and stretchy hacci sweater knit fabric from Girl Charlee UK would suit the pattern, but I think it worked. The fabric drapes beautifully and I feel effortlessly chic in this cardigan.

I actually made no alterations to the pattern for my height and it fits really well. I think if I make this again in a sturdier knit, I will add a bit of length to the bodice and sleeves, as I’m guessing the stretchiness of the fabric is having an effect on the fit.

I’ve already ordered more fabric to make more of these, so keep an eye out for more versions coming soon.

Driftless Cardigan Front

Driftless Cardigan Side

Driftless Cardigan Front

Driftless Cardigan Back

Oilskin Kelly Anorak

 

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora Close Up

It’s finally done! My first handmade jacket.

I have to be honest I really struggled with this project, not at all because of the pattern, but due to my fabric choice. I think my mum’s quote on seeing the jacket half way through sums it up nicely – ‘you don’t make things easy for yourself do you’– no mam, no I don’t!

It was totally worth it though as I LOVE this jacket. I would go as far as saying it’s my favourite piece of outerwear that I have ever owned, and I made it! I have Closet Case Patterns to thank for that. What an excellent pattern. I strongly recommend you buy it if you want to make your own anorak, although I wouldn’t recommend using oilskin for this unless you have a powerful sewing machine.

I love the design of this jacket. The pockets are roomy and look really professional. I opted for the hood rather than the collar, but didn’t include the drawstring as my fabric was very stiff and I didn’t think it would gather well.

I made some adjustments for my height (I am 5’11”). I lengthened the bodice by 5cm and also lengthened the sleeves. I deliberated about where to add the extra length to the sleeves and decided to just double the length of the cuff. They are now the perfect length for me.

The fabric I used is superb quality khaki oilskin from Merchant and Mills. Oilskin isn’t terrible to work with, but when you have multiple layers to sew through you need some power behind you and unfortunately my sewing machine at the time, a Janome 432S, just didn’t have enough. I have since bought myself a new sewing machine, a Bernina 350PE, and it was able to handle the fabric much better. I found the topstitching particularly tricky on my old Janome. I really struggled to sew the pockets and any other bulky seams. My other traumatic memory of this project was trying to set in the sleeves, easing in oilskin is a nightmare. I managed it eventually, but it took a good few hours.

My tips for working with this oilskin would be:

  • to use bulldog clips, not pins as they mark the fabric
  • use a denim needle, it worked well for me
  • take your time, as the needle will leave permanent and very visible holes in the fabric, so there is no room for error
  • when setting in sleeves, baste first and hold in place with bulldog clips or use pins inside the seam allowance
  • grade seams to reduce bulk wherever possible
  • invest in a hump jumper, or make one out of a piece of card
  • press seams with fingers or use an iron on a low heat with a pressing cloth, test on a scrap of fabric first
  • topstitching this material with topstitching thread is really tricky, so it may be easier to use normal thread as I really struggled to do this neatly, especially on my old Janome.
  • be prepared for one long slow project, as you can’t really make mistakes you will have to really take your time over this, so not a speedy project.

 

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora side

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora Hood

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora back

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora front

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora Zip

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora front 2

Kelly Anorak by Attie and Dora silly

Pattern – Kelly Anorak by Closet Case Patterns

Fabric – Khaki Oilskin from Merchant and Mills

Hardware – Hardware kit from Closet Case Patterns 

 

 

Handmade Wedding Dress and Silk Robe

2016 has been a really interesting year for me sewing-wise, but so far my biggest sewing achievement has gone unblogged.  The photos came through just in time to write this post before the end of the year, and I can’t wait to tell you all about my experience making a wedding dress and silk robe for my friends’ wedding.

Lace Knit Wedding Dress and Silk Robe

Photo credit Alexander Martin

The bride’s vision was a knitted lace, backless dress. The dress was made in collaboration with the mother of the groom, Helen, who made the extraordinary knitted part of the dress.  My job was to make the silk underdress, which would be combined with the lace knit overlay. I was also tasked with the job of designing and making a floor length silk robe with a slight train.

The underdress was necessary, not only to protect the bride’s modesty, but also to provide some structure to support the knitted layer and hold the shape of the garment when the two were sewn together. This was of particular concern as the wool had a tendency to stretch out.

The main challenge we faced making this dress was that the bride lives in Glasgow so I posted each toile to the bride and carried out fittings via FaceTime and Facebook messenger. I did visit her once in person to adjust the dress, which was helpful, but probably the saving grace in the end was that we made a duct tape dress-form of the bride’s torso so that we could use it to check the fit as we went along.

The dress

My process for making the silk part of the dress began by making the bride’s bodice and skirt blocks. I then started drafting the dress and sent her the first toile to try on.

The first toile was very low cut, all the way down to the small of her back. It occurred to us early on that this design feature could prove quite impractical, as it would be awkward to wear and dance in without it falling off. I did a lot of research about constructing backless dresses, mainly online and with reference to other patterns and shop bought garments. We concluded that if we made it so low cut we would either need to have something holding it together at the back along the top of the shoulders,  or we would need to stick the dress to her on the day to keep it in place.

In the end we decided this just wasn’t going to be practical and it made sense to raise the dress at the back closer to her natural waist, so I redrafted the pattern.

In total I made 10 toiles before the final garment. Some were due to fitting alterations, but also the style of the dress evolved quite a lot throughout the process as the bride tried them on and clarified her vision. The final version ended up being a bit of a pattern hack as very close to the deadline we changed the bodice style from princess seamed, empire line to the lingerie slip like style. I used the cup piece from a vintage lingerie pattern (New Look 6029) to save myself time and merged it with my dress to give the final garment you see in the pictures.

The under-dress was made with silk dupion, which was a beautiful weight and provided some structure for the knitted overlay. The two were made independently and then sewn together at the zip.  The dress was sewn partly on the machine, but finished by hand. I used satin bias tape to finish the hem and the neckline. The straps were rouleau made with the silk dupion. I sewed the zip in by hand.

I took some photos of the underdress before we attached the knitted layer.I apologise for the terrible lighting. I was very busy that month so they were taken at 6am before I went to work. The sun was only just rising, so I didn’t have much daylight to work with. I was actually lying on the floor to get the full length of the dress in the shot. Although they aren’t the most beautiful photos I  wanted to include them to give you an idea of what the underdress looked like before we combined the two.

Also my over-critical brain wants me to mention that the dress could have done with a good steam before these photos, but oh well 🙂

Silk Wedding Dress
Silk Wedding Dress
Handmade Silk Wedding Dress
Handmade Silk Wedding Dress

Handmade Silk Wedding Dress

This week the happy couple, Jim and Sam, sent me copies of their wedding photos so here is the dress and robe on the day. It was an amazing feeling to see Sam walking down the aisle in mine and Helen’s creation. We were very proud. It was a first for both of us.

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

Lace Knit Wedding Dress

Photo credit Alexander Martin

The Robe 

The robe was made with the same fabric as the underdress. I made an outerwear and sleeve block from the bride’s measurements. I then drafted the pattern, which was floor length with a slight train. The robe had no closure at the front, which meant it was very simple and elegant in style. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the full length of the robe. The bride wore it as she walked into the hall for the meal and it billowed out behind her beautifully.

Lace Knit Wedding Dress and Silk Robe

Photo credit Alexander Martin

P.s.If I manage to get hold of a photo of the full silk robe I will share it on Instagram and update this post.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Things People Who Love Sewing Do

Making Jeans buttons

  1. Stand on pins, sometimes they go in really deep and you have to pull them out while trying not to cry…glamourous.
  2. Bore their friends and family by talking about sewing. That glazed eye look that comes over people who don’t sew, as soon as you get into your full sewing-chat flow.
  3. Become instant friends with anyone who sews bypassing all social norms about getting to know people, and going straight to getting excited about each others WIPs (see point 9.)
  4. Cry with frustration over a dud garment or sewing mistake.
  5. Spend all their money on fabric and patterns some of which you will probably never get around to using, but will just enjoy looking at.
  6. Make a mess. Some days (most days) your sewing room will look like a bomb has gone off in a lint bin.
  7. Become obsessed with Instagram. Partner: For gods sake go to sleep what are you doing on your phone? You: yeh yeh I’m finished *turns down screen brightness and continues to scroll surreptitiously under the covers* (those bloggers new makes aren’t going to like themselves).
  8. See flaws in their handmade garments that no one else can and point them all out to anyone who compliments you on a handmade garment you are wearing.
  9. Speak in sewing jargon that only dedicated sewing blog readers will understand. For example: WIP (work in progress), UFO (unfinished object), not to mention all the pattern names we all know and love.
  10. Become bored of shopping for clothes and you will not believe that something finally brought your shopping habit to a halt. Although you’ve probably just substituted clothes shopping for fabric shopping, but sshh lets feel smug for a little while longer.