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.

Ogden Cami Dress

If you write a sewing blog you will know how frustrating it is when you make a plan to finally take photos of that fabulous new dress you have made, only to discover that it is pouring with rain.

Well today Aaron, who takes most of my blog photos, and I decided we would brave the rain and take the photos anyway.

It was a pretty hilarious experience and very luckily after being soaked by rain, chased by waves and watched by curious seals, we actually came home with some good photos of my latest make.

I bought the Ogden Cami pattern, by True Bias, as soon as the news of it’s release dropped into my inbox. I absolutely love the design, and instantly had visions of a dress version.

If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen my first attempt at this pattern. I made one for my mum for her birthday with some silk from India. It fit her beautifully and I was inspired to try making another for myself.

The fabric I used was from Merchant and Mills and is a lovely hand block print summer weight cotton from Jaipur. I bought it intending to make a shirt dress, but it occurred to me that it would look pretty awesome as an Ogden cami, I am glad I went with my instincts.

For both myself and my mum’s version I added 5cm to the length of the top (we are both tall). Then, for my dress version, I just extended the existing design lines until the length of the blouse was sufficient to achieve a midi length dress. I roughly estimated the length I’d need by holding a tape measure against my body.

The construction of this pattern is so simple, but so effective. I love the rouleau straps and the facing/modesty shelf. It’s such a satisfying, but quick sew, and there are so many amazing versions appearing on Instagram for inspiration.

I am so happy with this make, it is such a great pattern, I will definitely be making more of these.

 

ogden-cami-merchant-and-mills-fabric-attie-and-dora

attieanddora-ogden-cami
attieanddora

attieanddora-shetland

attie-and-dora

Morgan Jeans

Lately I have been making jeans.

When I first set eyes on the new Closet Case Files pattern, Morgan Jeans, I was overjoyed. I had actually been on the lookout for some boyfriend style jeans, so the timing was excellent, I bought it straight away. The pattern is so well drafted, Heather seems to have a real knack for designing patterns that flatter women’s figures. I also love that she caters for sewers who want to attempt more challenging projects. I am always keen to try sewing new types of garments and to learn new skills, but sometimes jumping into a new area of sewing, such as making your own jeans, can seem a bit daunting. Heather’s patterns give you the confidence to stretch the boundaries of your sewing skills. Making Jeans was a really interesting process and I definitely learnt a lot.

I ordered denim needles, topstitching thread, rivets and buttons from Jaycotts and my denim was purchased from Merchant and Mills online shop.

I didn’t make a toile, which is rare for me as I love a good toile, I just lengthened the pattern pieces by 5cm to account for my height and basted the seams together before stitching and checking the fit as I went. I was happy with the fit of the end product, but next time I might try lengthening the crotch depth slightly.

I found the construction straight forward with the help of the instructions, although I have managed to sew my coin pocket on the wrong side…oops. I decided to just go with it as I’d already top stitched it down, so please excuse that faux pas.

Speaking of topstitching, that was probably the thing that I found the most challenging about making jeans, and oddly the most satisfying once I’d got the hang of it. My machine struggled a bit over the bulky seams even after I flattened them down with a mallet. I found it took a bit of practice to achieve neat topstitching, so I recommend practicing on scraps before you attempt it on your garment. I don’t have an edge stitch foot for my machine so I used my hem foot which when lined up against the edge of the fabric acted as a guide and helped me to achieve neat even stitching close to the edge. For the second row of topstitching I drew a line of chalk to act as a guide to sew along and this worked well for me.

Some progress shots….

Making Jeans Topstitching

Making Jeans

Making Jeans buttons

I chose some lovely soft cotton from India from my fabric stash to use for the pocket bags. I love that you can personalise your jeans in this way, it makes them feel even more unique. The pattern suggests you can try out your own topstitch design on the back pockets, but I kept things simple for my first pair. I did, however, change my topstitching thread colour from light grey to black for the waistband and hem, I was worried it might look a bit odd, but I quite like the effect.

I’ve been wearing my Morgan jeans rolled up. I love the look of these jeans, the relaxed style is so laid back and cool, and they are so versatile as they can be dressed up or down.I’ve always been a skinny jeans kind of girl, but I am totally embracing this new looser jean trend.

What do you think?

Morgan Jeans frontMorgan Jeans front

Morgan Jeans side

Morgan Jeans back closeMorgan Jeans Yoga Pose

World Map Dress

I went to my friend’s hen party a couple of weekends ago and the theme was colours or countries. I was at a loss as to what to wear, I’m usually a bit rubbish at dressing up, but then I realised I can sew and decided to make myself something fun.

The first thing that came to mind was a flag dress (Geri Halliwell at the brits style) but it’s been so overdone. I then had the idea of a world map dress so I could be ALL the countries. I googled world map fabric and found this on eBay  Most of the world map fabrics I found were more suited to upholstery projects and the one I chose was still rather thick, but I thought it would be fine as long as I chose a pattern which would work with a stiffer fabric with very little drape.

I used my block to draft this pattern a few months ago, made myself a dress which I am still yet to blog, and left it lying under my cutting table. I now have no idea why i abandoned this pattern as I love it. The design is quite simple, a fitted bodice with a half-circle skirt, but it is so flattering and I am now a complete convert to circle skirts, I love the way they fall so nicely and are simple to draft. I added side seam pockets to the skirt forgetting that the zip was to be in the side seam, so that was a bit silly, but I managed to make it work. Next time I would definitely add a seam allowance to the centre back and place the zip there instead. The bodice is lined with the same fabric and all the seams were finished with my overlocker.

I have been really busy lately, with various projects, so this was a bit of a rush job. I didn’t spend time worrying about pattern placement as I really didn’t expect to ever wear it again, other than for fancy dress, but it turns out I actually really like it and might get more wear out of it than I first thought.

I think I will make a few more of these for myself for summer, the length is perfect for casual or formal wear and I might even make one in my silk from India, which I think I have mentioned a few times. I have been hoarding it for so long and still haven’t been brave enough to use it. What do you think? Should this dress be relegated to the fancy dress wardrobe or is it nice enough to wear day to day?

world map dress front view

world map dress front view

world map dress front view 2

world map dress side view

World Map Dress back view