Silver Toaster Sweater

It seems like whenever a pattern goes a bit viral amongst bloggers and on instagram, I’m at least a month (if not longer) behind! So here is my Toaster Sweater. I’m sure you’ve heard of the pattern, but it’s from SewHouse7 and there are 2 versions of the Toaster Sweater – I made version 2. And I really like it.

It’s maybe a tiny bit short to wear with these jeans, so if I make it again I might lengthen it by an inch or two so the top I’ve got underneath doesn’t show so much when I move around!

I do like the funnel neck detail, though I’m not sure it’s supposed to sit exactly like this, but it doesn’t feel strangle-y so I don’t mind it.

The fabric is a lovely silver ponte roma from my local sewing shop, Sew ‘N’ Sew. It has a slightly ribbed texture, which is really nice. I also really like how the sleeves fit – they’re a bit wrinkled here because I’d been wearing it for a whole day.

I like the swingy shape of the back…..

But it does seem to give me a hunchback! Not sure why. I don’t have great posture, but I do stand up straight in my blog photos.

One of my favourite details of this pattern is the topstitching around the slits on the side seams. And I love how the back is slightly longer than the front.

And the corners of the hem look so lovely on the inside because the instructions tell you how to make them perfectly mitred.

This is also the first main thing I’ve made where I’ve used my overlocker to neaten the edges – I’m not quite at a skill level to feel comfortable sewing the seams on it too, especially with a new pattern. And I did have to unpick a couple of bits, so I’m glad I was unpicking sewing machine stitching and not overlocker stitching!

Am I the last person to make this pattern?

Wardrobe Architect Week 5: Your Colour Story

This week’s Wardrobe Architect exercise is about coming up with a colour story for your wardrobe. To quote the original post:

“Color is an extremely powerful force in our lives.

Color affects our mood. It affects how food tastes to us. It affects how and what we buy. The color of the pills we take can even affect the efficacy of the medication within. That is what a powerful psychological effect color has over us.

Not only is color a potent communication tool, but it’s also a nuanced one. We are capable of perceiving a huge number of colors, each one arousing a slightly different feeling in us.

Perhaps you can’t articulate why a certain shade of apricot feels good to you, but a slightly yellower shade does not. Somewhere deep within your mind, a combination of biology, culture, and context makes that decision before you are even aware of it.

It creates a visceral, physical response that you experience as emotion.” (source)

I pretty much already knew what my palette would be, but it’s hard to pin down exact shades of blue (for example), so it did take longer than I thought it would. Also I struggled to come up with 12 colours! Looking through my handmade wardrobe, though, I’ve pretty much stuck to these colours, which really surprised me. I thought I was a bit more all over the place, but it seems I’ve always kept to a fairly limited palette!

I did pin some pictures on my Wardrobe Architect Pinterest board to help me narrow these colours down. I tried to avoid pinning pictures of clothes, though, so I wouldn’t pin things thinking I liked the colour, when actually I liked the silhouette. What strikes me is that this palette looks quite bright, but I feel like I dress quite boringly a lot of the time, so that needs rectifying. I also need more coral in my wardrobe. I really do like it but when I made my lace dress and jacket for the wedding I went to last year, I initially wanted a coral jacket and not a mustard one but I couldn’t find any fabric in the shade of coral I like – and it turns out coral is a word that means anything from pale pink to bright orange!

I feel like these colours are mostly the ones I think I look okay in – I would never put red on my colour palette for instance. Do you find you’re naturally drawn to clothes in colours that suit you?

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Make It: Quilted Cushion

Earlier this year I heard about the Secret Valentine’s Exchange organised by Sanae Ishida and Ute and decided to join in because it sounded fun to make a present for a stranger. Of course once I received my name (Sarah of Northfield Primitives) I was terrified that I would make something that she didn’t like. Everyone who signed up had to fill in a questionnaire of tastes, favourite colours and things, and social media handles and online presence to do a bit of good old-fashioned online stalking! One of the ideas is to use things mostly from your stash too, so I dug through my stash to find fabrics I thought she would like.

Sara listed her favourite colours as blue, mustard yellow, earthy browns and reds, and said she likes old and vintage fabrics, bits of old patchwork and lace. Luckily her colour palette is similar to the colours I like. Since she said she liked patchwork, I thought I’d make a patchwork/quilted cushion cover. I sketched some ideas, working on 6×6 squares, halved into triangles.

I settled on the version on the left and coloured it in to work out which fabrics would go where.

Half the fabrics needed 4 triangles and half needed 8, to make it symmetrical. I then made a key of which fabric matched with which colour on my picture. The corner of the paper is missing because this was my pattern piece for the triangles. I drew a 6cm x 6cm square, then drew a diagonal line down the middle. I then added 1cm to each edge for seam allowance. The total size (36cm x 36cm) was based on a cushion pad I already had in my stash.

I then sewed the triangles into squares. Because it’s symmetrical in all 4 corners, there weren’t that many different combinations in the squares.

I then sewed the squared into strips, making sure each square was facing the right way according to my plan. This hurt my brain a little at various points! Having all the strips made meant I could lay it out to look what it was going to look like. At this point I wasn’t sure it was going to work as I felt some of the fabrics didn’t look great together.

As with so many of my non-clothes makes, I used calico for the back of the cushion and also as the backing for the patchwork/quilting bit. I bought some wadding from my local shop (which was the only thing I bought for this make) and sandwiched 2 layers between the calico (which I had cut down to 38cm x 38cm (with 1cm seam allowance) and the patchwork. I kind of made up the stitching lines and used white thread as I couldn’t decide what other colour would go with so many different colours of fabric. In the end the stitching was pretty much all in the seam lines so it wasn’t too obvious on the front.

Here is the quilting pattern I used (from the back of the front of the cushion):

And here’s the finished cushion!

I didn’t use a zip or anything, I just left a gap to get the pad in and hand stitched it closed. I wonder if I could have added another one or 2 layers of wadding to make the cushion more puffy, but it looks okay. I sent a little package of some fat quarters and other bits and pieces which I thought Sarah would like. I was definitely relieved when she said she liked it!

Did you join in with the Secret Valentine’s Exchange? Or another secret gift exchange? Did you find it nerve-wracking to make something for someone you don’t know?!

Inside My Vintage Sewing Box

When The Boyfriend and I moved into our flat back in August, we had to buy furniture as we had previously lived in furnished flats. We bought a load of flat pack stuff from Argos and Ikea (bed, sofa, bookcases) partly because we needed things quickly and partly because they’re relatively cheap. But apart from these basics, we wanted to try to get nice things from our local anqtiques centre and we did find a nice coffee table, a table for our phone and this lovely sewing box (which we keep our tv on):

It first caught my eye because I love the mid-century vibes, then when I realised it was a sewing box, I had to have it! And it came with lots of sewing goodies inside!

There’s a crochet hook and thimble in the lid, and I love the unashamed shade of pink of the fabric lining!

There are quite a few poppers and hooks and eyes.

There’s what I assume is a home-made needle case, complete with needles – and several other packets of needles. (How many times can I say needles!?)

I particularly love this little paper packet of needles – it looks like it should have matches in or something!

Possibly my absolute favourite item is this slightly crazy pin cushion with sumo wrestlers (?) around the edge.

I like this retro box of pins too!

You never have too many thimbles or tape measures 🙂

The only sad things about this little haul is that these are the only buttons. They’re nice, but it would have been great to have some really cool old buttons!

The main bulk of what was in the box was threads and ribbons and a bit of elastic.

       I feel a little weird about using the stuff that came in this box, and I’m not sure why. I’m sure the previous owner of the box used all of the things she kept in there, so I don’t think it was a life’s collection or anything. I just feel like I should keep the contents intact for some reason.

Have you every found a secret haul of sewing goodies?

Wardrobe Architect Week 4: Proportions and Silhouettes

wardrobe-architectThis week’s Wardrobe Architect is about finding out what silhouettes we like to wear. It builds on last week’s assessment of the shapes of garments we like to wear and puts them together to make outfits, which emphasise or hide different areas of our bodies by ease or length. The idea is that we will come up with some key silhouettes we like, which will become the templates for what we sew and what will hopefully become a capsule wardrobe.

I came up with a few ideas for outfits I like to wear – some are smart, some are casual, some are for Winter and some for Summer. I found pictures that were the shape of garment I was looking for, but not necessarily the colour. All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect Pinterest board.

1.Skinny jeans, loose top, cardigan flats.

1.b Or the above outfit as a bit more casual with trainers and a different top.

2. Pleated Trousers with a loose shirt, jumper and flats

2.b Then there’s a more casual version of this with boyfriend jeans and trainers.

3. Short skirt, tights, slightly fitted top/shirt (tucked in), cardigan, flats or ankle boots.

4. Loose shift dresses, tights, cardigan, ankle boots.

5. Fit and flare Summer dresses with sandals.

 

I could swap out sandals for shoes or trainers and lose the cardigans and jumpers for more Summery versions of the outfits. Living in England we don’t have much of a Summer usually – a couple of weeks if we’re lucky – so layers are usually the way to go when it’s warmer.

I’ve found this week really helpful in terms of working out a capsule wardrobe! I’ve been feeling recently that I have lots of clothes and not much to wear, and I carry on making things but still think I have nothing to wear. This exercise will definitely help me pick what to make so that I have lots of combinations I can put together into outfits I actually like and feel are ‘me’.

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February Makes and March Plans

I literally can’t believe we’re already in March. (I’ve been watching a lot of Parks and Recreation recently, so this sentence is my homage to Chris Traeger!) I was moderately successful in completing my makes for February – I made only one thing I planned, but I made 2 extra things I hadn’t planned. I also had a mammoth cutting out session so I still have a few projects ready to go!

In a rare moment of blogging, I’ve actually blogged everything I made in February already (this may come back a bite me on the arse when I run out of things to blog!). First up I made this Colette Mabel skirt, to match the one I made for my sister for Christmas.

my-grey-quilty-mabel-1I also made what I thought would be my entry into the #MonetaParty, which was in the end my first version of the pattern, from the navy-with-white-flecks jersey:

moneta-party-dress-1Then I made my second, way more successful version of the Moneta, which rescued the pattern in my eyes – I felt it was a bit frumpy and not really my style in my first version. It goes to show the importance of fabric choice!

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So my plans for March are pretty much the things I didn’t get around to making in February……including these effing trousers which have been on my to-make list since I started doing these posts back in October! They are at least cut out! I’m planning to tackle them this weekend.

october-planning-simplicity-trousersI do also want to make my Toaster Sweater, which is also already cut out. I think it will be a good top for the still-quite-cold-weather we’re having in Gloucestershire! And I love the silver jersey I’ve got for it. Now if I could only get my overlocker working……

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If I have time – which is unlikely to be honest as I’m away for 2 whole weekends in March – I’ll try to make my denim Moss Skirt, which is basically a copy of the one I made for my sister.

I want to try to get some fabric this month to try to make a start on my #2017MakeNine. The Moneta Dress was one of them, so I’ve at least made one. I also have Christine Haynes’s Marianne Dress on there and I do have fabric for that so hopefully that will be made in April.

I also want to get back into refashioning – I have quite a stash of garments to refashion – as that is one of the things I consider to be under the ‘thrift’ part of my blog name! Though as I’m away for some of March, this might have to wait until April!

What are your sewing plans for March?

Definitely my #MonetaParty Dress

jazzy-moneta-party-dressAfter what turned out to be my wearble muslin of the Colette Moneta, I was persuaded by Sarah from Like Sew Amazing (who has a fab new vlog, the first episode of which is about all 6 of her Monetas and features yours truly!) to make another one when she invited me to her house for a irl Moneta Party. It was really fun to sew with someone else – it’s normally such a solitary pursuit, it was a novelty to do it with company!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-2I feel the main saving grace of this Moneta compared to the other, is the fabric. Eagle-eyed readers may recognise the fabric as the one I used for my Coco Dress. I used the pattern in a different way, centering the space between the diamonds instead of the diamonds themselves as I did for the Coco. I think it works better this way, which is good because to start with I was going to place the diamonds around the bodice in the same was as the Coco. And the diamonds pretty much line up on the side seams. Yay!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-4The fabric looks even more trippy and like a magic eye picture from the back!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-7The black fabric is some ponte I bought from my local sewing shop. I had thought they didn’t have that much of a range of dressmaking fabrics, but actually it’s pretty good when I looked closely and ignored the boxes of fat quarters! They have needlecord, lots of patterned cottons and a pretty good range of jerseys for a shop of that size. They also have everything you could possibly want in their massive range of haberdashery items.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-5I really like the ponte as it has a nice structure to it, making it a lot easier to sew with than the thin fabric from my last version! The jazzy fabric is quite thin, but not too difficult to manhandle for just a couple of seams! The only problem with this combination of fabrics is the skirt pulls down the bodice slightly because the jazzy fabric is much more stretchy.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-6I again cut out the straight size xs and this time didn’t need to make any fitting changes under the arms – I guess different jerseys behave in different ways. I also cut out the short sleeves instead of the longer ones because I didn’t think the 3/4 length sleeves would work in the black fabric. I did cut out the sleeves in both fabrics and asked Sarah’s opinion and she thought the black would look better – and she was totally right!

The main change I made, which I hadn’t initially planned, was to add a neckband.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-3I measured the neckline of the bodice – the front neck was 34.5cm and the back neck 31cm. Added together this comes to 65.5cm. I decided to take 4cm off this length, guessing that this would be enough smaller to sit flat but not so much smaller it puckered the neckline. I’m sure there is a science to this, but my guess was okay. I then added 2cm back on for the seam allowance to be able to sew the 2 ends together into a loop. I cut the band to be 5cm wide. After sewing the 2 ends together, I folded the band in half lengthways, wrong sides together and tacked it all the way around. I then lined up the 2 edges of the band with the neckline of the bodice, stretching it slightly to make it fit. I then stitched it with a 1cm seam allowance, flipped it to the inside and topstitched it with my twin needle.

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-8If you follow me on instagram you’ll have seen that while at Sarah’s house I played with an overlocker for the first time. She had it all set up ready and it wasn’t as scary to use as I thought it would be – I feared the fabric would run away and cut itself in half before I knew what was happening! But it’s pretty much like a normal sewing machine, of course! Some of the insides (which I had time to do at Sarah’s) look lovely so I’m definitely a convert to overlockers, and I even got mine out the box for the first time, having bought it a couple of months ago! I managed to thread it but the stitches were all loopy and no matter how much I changed the tension, it didn’t fix it. Any ideas? Is it possible I did actually thread it wrong and it kind of works but not properly?

I’ll leave you with this outtake from my photos – this was me testing the camera set up, feeling really cold and wearing my glasses (which I took off for the photos!)

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Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress (Made Up Initiative) thumbnail Book - Colette Sewing Handbook Colette-Laurel-brown-pattern-thumb 2

Possibly my #MonetaParty Dress

This was going to definitely be my #monetaparty dress but I’m currently half way through another one which I like more, so that one may end up being my official entry for the competition/party. This one was probably more of a wearable toile!

But it does have pockets! This is my face when I have a dress with pockets!

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After asking on instagram, the consensus was to use this fabric which is navy with white flecks, instead of some teal stuff I also had in my stash – which I’m glad about now, because I think that will make a better Christine Haynes Marianne dress.

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I made the size xs and did have to take it in a little under the arms. I think because it’s quite a thin, drapey knit, it looked a bit saggy!

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I also sewed the waist seam with a 2cm seam allowance and not the 3/8″ that pattern says, because I felt it just sat slightly too low to be flattering. I have an H&M rtw dress that is a similar style to the Moneta, but without pockets and with a v-neck, and the waist seam is really quite high, so I was aiming for that, though it still isn’t quite the same.

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I do like the fabric, but when it’s stretched it goes white, the colour it is in the wrong side. The bodice therefore looks like it’s stretched too much, because the tiniest bit of stretch makes it look too stretched, because of the white showing through. I am wearing it with a navy vest underneath, which you can’t see, because it’s not really see-through, it just looks like it is, if that makes sense?

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Luckily without changing anything except the underarm seam, the xs size fits me snuggly across the back, which is the place I usually have issues with fit.

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The main issue with this dress, and what makes it a wearable toile, is that I messed up the neckline. I sewed it with a twin needle, but it didn’t quite catch the whole hem so I thought I could sew it again, overlapping one row of stitching so I ended up with 3, but that didn’t quite work. So I unpicked all the rows, and sewed it again. But by then the neck was stretched out and doesn’t look great. I wonder if I could rescue it a little with a neckband, but I’m not sure I like the dress enough to go to the extra effort.

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I decided to try full outfits that I’ll wear when wearing this dress, and I think it looks good with mustard yellow, with a cardigan done up (to hide the terrible neckline!).

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Even with the cardigan undone, it distracts from how wide the neck sits on my shoulders. And I’m sure people wouldn’t notice the neckline too badly if I don’t point it out!

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I also really like it with my Colette Astoria – it sits just at the right place to hit the waist seam. It looks like it could be a top and skirt. This is how I wore it to hang out with Sarah from Like Sew Amazing today to have a irl #monetaparty, where I sewed most of my second Moneta, which is looking more promising, as long as I don’t mess up the neckline again!

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I couldn’t resist showing you this outtake from my photoshoot, where The Boyfriend came out of the room which is behind the doors I use as my backdrop! You can’t see him, but I like the photo my camera, which was on a timer, took of me!

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Gingham-Violet-Thumb 2 Stripey-Laurel-Thumb 2 Mustard Ponte Seamwork Astoria thumbnail

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