Sunday, 12 April 2015

Sewing: Sewaholic Oakridge blouse for Victoria

Over the last year I have made a very special friend. An office-BFF, a partner in crime on nights out, a fellow food junkie and just a generally awesome person!

Her birthday was coming up in March and I knew I wanted to gift her something special. For really special gifts to really special people in my life there is only one option - to make something.

(Now, if you are reading this and haven't received anything handmade by me, it doesn't mean you are not special to me, it just means that I'm a master procrastinator.)

So I kind of observed her style. Cuts, colours, materials. Button ups feature consistently in her wardrobe, and aside from a ton of burgundy stuff, she dresses a lot in the classic colours white, black, grey, navy.

I showed her a picture of the Oakridge blouse, said I was thinking of making myself a sleeveless version (I lied) and asked her what she thinks. She liked it. Good.

Next step. Fabric. We were in London together a few weeks before her birthday, so that was a perfect opportunity. First I took her to Liberty, but I pretty quickly got the feeling that was not her cup of tea. Then we went to MacCullough & Wallis. I was genuinely looking for a wide range of fabrics, only one of which would be her birthday fabric. She liked this grey/white cotton lawn, so I got it.

Finally, obtaining her measurements. I told her I was making a spreadsheet of my own and my friends' measurements to keep for any current and future projects and asked to take hers. (I do actually intend to do this, see above point about procrastination.) I asked her this a few days before her birthday, so how she didn't figure out what I was up to, I don't know.

Squeezed this out of 1 m of 150 cm width fabric. I had to compromise slightly and cut the bow band not exactly on the bias, but to be honest, I made another version after and cut it on the bias and I can't really see that it makes a difference.

Gifted her with it on the next working day after her birthday and turned out it fit and she liked it. Excellent!

However, by then I liked it so much I kind of wanted to keep it. So I had no option but to start an Oakridge for myself immediately after. Stay tuned for a post on it.

But first, let's chat a bit about the pattern itself and my alterations.
  • Firstly, there was a serious sizing issue, but I will discuss that in detail in my next Oakridge post.
  • Interfacing. I interfaced the whole button band, as instructed in the pattern. But after I sewed the first button band in place it was clear that even with light interfacing it was way too stiff for my otherwise soft lawn. So for the other button band I did like the Grainline instructions for the Archer shirt instructed, i.e. interfacing only one half of the button band. Result: so much better!
  • I didn't quite get how to attach the neck tie. I read some reviews of this patterns, and noticed that I wasn't alone in that. I fished a RTW pussy bow blouse out of my wardrobe and studied how that was done, then I did the same. So I only followed the instructions up until the bow band met the button band. Then I turned it right way up, pressed, folded in the seam allowance of the inside of the bow band with about 2 mm hanging over the seam of where the outside side of the bow band had been joined with the front and back pieces, pressed, and "stitched in the ditch" from the outside. Or attempted to. Because the fabric was so fine the "ditch" didn't conceal the stitches, so I moved up 1 mm or so onto the bow band and just did really neat top stitching. No regrets, it looks fine.
  • One alteration: I decided to make this sleeveless, so I shaved off a few cm at the shoulders and finished the armholes with bias binding. Easy peasy.
Right, expect my other (selfish) Oakridge on the blog next week. Until then, have a great week!

Me and Victoria in a wine bar in London. Photo stolen from Victoria's Instagram.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Sewing: Pattern Runway kimono dress in royal blue polyester crepe

It's the last day of March (hurray!) and therefore the last day of winter (double hurray!) as far as I'm concerned. I've started my spring sewing and have two finished items to show, so I figured I better finish my winter projects blogging today.

My last item sewn this winter is this Pattern Runway kimono dress. I'm afraid that the below is the only photo I have of it as I don't really want to take any more photos. I want to start photographing spring clothes and I just feel such a reluctance to take any photos of this.

Another reason is that I'm not sure I like it. I really do like the pattern. But my fabric is funny. It looks lovely in dim light, making it perfect for evening events, but in daylight it just looks strange, out of place, uncomfortable.

It's a polyester crepe. I got it to make a muslin initially, and was planning to make the dress in crepe the chine, but I ended up leaving myself too little time to make the real dress that I ended up wearing the muslin to a ballet performance I was seeing in London in February.

I got it from Croft Mill and while it is a good visual imitation of crepe de chine and feels quite nice against the skin, it is a rather stiff and coarse fabric. It was tough to cut, even for sharp scissors. Near on impossible to press. The interfaced facings feel really uncomfortable on such an already stiff fabric. It's great for a muslin, but I honestly don't see this dress getting a lot of wear.

I am very keen to make the crepe de chine version though!

Although it might not be until next winter as I already have a long queue of spring/summer sewing to do.

Speaking of, I'll start blogging my DIY spring wardrobe next week. Until then, I leave you with a photo of the beautiful Royal Opera House stage/curtains/part of the ceiling.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Knitting: Green rib knit scarf

My second knitting project this year - another scarf! This time for dad's birthday.

With the arrival of spring in the UK it might seem strange to be gifting somebody a scarf, but I Skyped with my family yesterday and they've got snow on the ground in Sweden. Luckily nobody in my immediate family has a birthday during the spring and summer aside from me, so I won't be tempted to give anybody any unseasonal knitted presents. My brother is next in September and while that is borderline summer/autumn he has actually requested a scarf, so there you go!

Anyways. For this scarf I chose a dark green Rowan worsted yarn with specks of red (colour Hawthorn). It has a lovely tweed look about it. Very interesting, yet understated. I used 3 skeins for the scarf and knitted it with 4.5 mm bamboo needles.

There's nothing much to say about this scarf really. It was a simple repetition of knit 2, purl 2 and therefore a perfect train commute project.

It took a while because the ribbing made it very dense, so each row contained something like 60 stitches, even though it doesn't look very wide. That means that as I was approaching the end this scarf was really heavy. And I was getting quite fed up with scarves and started itching to make something else. 

So I decided on...another scarf. You see, I really want to learn to knit cables, and when looking for a project I fell for the Brooklyn Tweed Kirkwood scarf. And well, when you fall for something you fall for something. At least I've got aaaages as this scarf is for myself and I have no intentions of wearing it before next winter. That means that there probably won't be any knitting projects on the blog for a good few months. Instead, bring on spring/summer sewing!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Sewing: A little pastel quilt from Josh's shirts

So Josh and I had a huge argument and I cut up a bunch of his shirts and made a quilt from them to get back at him.

Just kidding. Imagine what a time-consuming revenge plan. Ain't nobody got time for that.

No, Josh and I are just fine. But I did cut up a bunch of his shirts and made a quilt from them, that bit is true.

Basically, when we moved into the house we currently lived in both of us went through our wardrobes and ruthlessly culled items we no longer wear. He perhaps more ruthlessly than me. I've got an emotional bond with a lot of my clothes after all.

Among the things he no longer wanted were a couple of beautiful cotton shirts in pastel tones and a couple white ones. Being the hoarder that I am I 'saved' these shirts and added them to my stash of pieces of fabric that might one day become a quilt. That was August. I finished the quilt last weekend.

Once I started cutting the up shirts it became clear that I would need a fabric to bind the pastel tones together, otherwise it would just look like a quilt made up of old shirts. So I ordered this lovely rose print on a mint green background cotton from Truro fabrics. Love it.

I didn't make the socks (I wish!), acquiring that kind of skill is more of a long term plan.

I finished the quilt top just before Christmas and was thinking about what to use for the back. Around that time a lovely friend of mine gifted me some beautiful mint green quilting cotton with a small floral pattern. Perfect! How she knew I'll never know, but oh boy was I happy!

The actual quilting took me ages because I find it just the dullest job ever. Actually, scratch that. I find sewing (by hand!) the binding on the dullest job ever. Quilting is the second dullest. I'm not good at it. My machine is not good at it (by hand? are you kidding me?). I might outsource it with my next quilt. 

But the quilt is finally done! It's only a little quilt, but I'm enjoying sitting wrapped in it with a cup of tea at hand writing this. (I can't tell you that it's exactly relaxing, because I'm having a nightmare with Blogger, but that's a rant for another day.)