The Not-So-Boring Black Dungaree Dress

Hello everyone!

I’m just swinging by because I realised I still haven’t linked last month’s Minerva make, and my next one will be up in the next few days! No, there really isn’t much time or headspace to sit at the computer and get on with this sort of thing these days. Children. They’re cute, but they’re smelly and steal all your time.

Anyway, last month’s make is this gorgeous (if plain) black twill Cleo dress, which I’ve been wearing loads as none of my old Cleos fit me at the moment. You can find out more details over on Minerva’s site: https://www.minervacrafts.com/blogger-network/post/the-not-so-boring-black-dungaree-dress

I’ve been sewing when I get the chance (finished my first bra–so proud!) and doing plenty of wardrobe planning. I had myself the perfect little autumn/winter capsule planned using patterns from my stash and have bought most of the fabric I need. Then I discovered the Kibbe types and they made a lot of sense to me. I reckon I’m a classic face on a dramatic body, which explains why dramatic (and dramatic classic) clothes look great on me, but the necklines are sometimes too harsh. I think I can get away with classic and probably even some soft classic necklines (like sweethearts and cowl necks) so long as the rest of my outfit is pretty dramatic in style/colour. It’s got me thinking about my capsule plans anew, particularly in terms of necklines and knitwear. It’s also got me wondering if I should rejig my rockabilly librarian style board…

Hopefully I’ll find time to do a more detailed post on this soon (and blog some more of the things I’ve been sewing), but until then, anyone else gone down the Kibbe rabbit hole and come up for air?!

Ciao for now!

xx

The Tropical Scout Tee (and a return to blogging!)

Grainline Scout tee in tropical double gauze

Hi there; long time, no blog! I’m not apologising because that’s just the way of life with a newborn. However, Lauren is now four-and-a-half months old, Gabriel is back at nursery and Daisy at school, and finally I’m starting to find a wee bit of time here and there to get back on the computer.

I actually have a fair old backlog of projects to blog, including my first button up shirt for Andy, some cute baby clothes, and a few things for me, as having a tiny baby to look after didn’t actually stop me from sewing. It slowed me right down, admittedly, but for sanity’s sake I managed to find the odd few minutes here and there to sew a seam or do a bit of pressing. I’ve also done a fair bit of knitting too. Yay!

Anyway, first up for sharing is my first Grainline Scout Tee. Yes, I know I’m late to the party with this one, but that’s just the way I roll. Totally unfashionably late! It’s my Minerva Blogger Network post for last month and actually went live on their site weeks ago, but when I went to share it here I somehow managed to break my website. Yep, every single page gave a 500 error. Wah!

After going away and crying for a bit I eventually pulled up my big girl pants and went searching for solutions. I’m not all that techy really (not sure why I didn’t stick to WordPress.com rather than this self-hosting lark, but there we go) but once I figured out what had gone wrong (a bad pinterest plugin) it was remarkably easy to fix. Go me!

So, if you want to find out more about making the Scout tee then head on over to Minerva. The tee was pretty hot off the machine when I wrote it and I’ve since had more time to see how it fits into my wardrobe. At the moment I’m unsure. I’ve worn it a fair bit and love the comfort–I definitely want to sew with double gauze again next summer–but I’m not convinced this print suits me. I’d love to try this top again in a monochrome polka dot print–perhaps in a drapier fabric too to see if the silhouette is more flattering that way.

What do you all reckon? Is this top “me”?

I’ll be back in a few days with another Minerva make. Until then, what are you working on at the moment? And have you ever sewn with double gauze?

The Eastern Jewels Heirloom Crochet Blanket… and the baby I made it for!

Eastern Jewels crochet Persian Tiles Blanket Janie Crowfoot
Welcome to the world, Little Lauren!

Yes, I finally finished two projects: making the Eastern Jewels crochet blanket and gestating my third child! Lauren was born on the 6th May and is a gorgeous, sweet-tempered and healthy baby. Not gonna lie, it was my toughest labour yet as she’d swivelled into a back-to-back position at the last minute without anyone realising, and I had to be induced with only gas and air as a painkiller. In the end the consultant had to tug her out with a ventouse cup. But look, what a cutie!

Baby Lauren

Anyway, difficult labour aside, she’s here now and that’s what’s important. And so is her blanket! You can read the details of that make over on the Minerva Blogger Network here.

Eastern Jewels crochet Persian Tiles Blanket Janie Crowfoot

I used the Stylecraft Eastern Jewels Blanket Pack (affiliate link), and I can thoroughly recommend this pattern even for relative beginners to crochet. It looks incredibly complex, but is actually based on a very small number of simple stitches so if you’ve made a granny square, you can make this! It just takes a long time, but you’ll have mad crochet skills by the time you’ve finished! Hop on over to the Minerva post for all the deets.

I’m going to be back tomorrow with my write up of the 10×10 wardrobe challenge I did back in April, and then again in a few days with my monthly update post. And probably a Me Made May post too. I have so many ideas, and so little time to bring them to fruition!

Until then, happy stitching!

Anna-Jo x

The Dark Floral Maternity Agnes Top

Floral Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Maternity Top

This is now my third time making up the Maternity Agnes pattern from Tilly and the Buttons,  but it’s my first time making it as a top. You can find my previous dress versions here and here. The photos were taken back in early March, but this still fits perfectly over my huge “almost there” bump.

I feel like I’ve already said much of what I want to say about this pattern already in those two posts, but there was one thing I did a bit differently this time around. I’d noticed a drag line between the armscye and bust in my last two versions, but wasn’t sure what to do about it other than some kind of complex full bust adjustment, which I didn’t really feel like figuring out as I have never had to do an FBA before!

But after reading a post on the regular Agnes top by Sew Becky Jo, I realised that the problem might actually be with the large armscye, as a lot of people seem to have the same issue with the Agnes top (whether they’ve noticed or not).

I thought back to my TNT fitted knit top, the Knit Sweetheart Top from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, and looked at pictures to confirm I didn’t get that crease/fold with Gertie’s pattern. Then I compared the two paper patterns and sure enough, the armscye on Gertie’s pattern is significantly higher and smaller. It’s not the easiest thing to spot seams in this fabric, but you might be able to see how high the underarm seam is below.

So this time instead of just hacking on the neckline from the Knit Sweetheart Top, I went for the whole upper portion of that pattern including the sleeves. I think this has worked as I now have a much better fit both in the armpit and the bust. I didn’t actually bother with retracing a pattern as I figured this is the last time I’m likely to make the maternity version, so I simply cut the fabric for the Gertie bodice down to just below the bust, then laid the Agnes pattern over the top and carried on cutting with that version. There was probably a little blending/grading at the join, but it’s been such a time since I made this I can’t remember which pattern was the larger!

The only other thing that made this more of a challenging make for me was the fabric I used. Now don’t get me wrong–I adore this fabric and it’s incredibly soft and comfortable to wear… But (you sensed there was one coming, didn’t you?!) it’s not the easiest to sew. I picked it up from the Girl Charlee stall at the Great British Sewing Bee Live last year, as I’ve been wanting to work more bold florals into my wardrobe. The colours really appeal, although yellow isn’t something that suits my skin tone at all. However, this minimal amount of yellow mixed in with the black and turquoise really works, I reckon.

So, the fabric looks and feels gorgeous, but boy, it does not want to co-operate on the cutting table or under the machine. It’s a rayon/spandex/cotton blend with significant 4 way stretch. The drapey rayon combined with all that lycra made it shift about like crazy. I had to cut on the single layer with my rotary cutter (which I usually do with knits anyway), and put tissue underneath while sewing seams or the lightweight fabric got sucked down into the machine. I also had to use lightweight stretch interfacing strips on the neckline band and the hems to stabilise them.

I’m just glad I’ve had plenty of experience sewing viscose and stretch knits, but if you haven’t I wouldn’t recommend this fabric. Not unless you’re a bit of a sewing masochist and want to stretch your skills, that is! That said, it is beautiful to wear and I’m really glad I went for it. Often the fabrics I love wearing are the biggest bastards to sew.

I’m really happy with the finished top and have worn it loads. Originally I thought I might hack it down to shorter sleeves once the warm spring weather hit, but we’ve had such a cold spring I’ve needed that sleeve length! At first I thought I’d only be able to wear it with my plainer bottoms, like a denim skirt, jeans and a black pencil skirt. But then I remembered a fabric I love with a floral on a b&w polka dot background, and figured why not try it with my polka dot maternity skirt? I’m so glad I did as I love the combination, and it’s given me more confidence with print mixing, which can only be a good thing.

One of the things I really like about this top is the generous length. It fits nice and snug under the bump, which means there’s no risk of those awful top bands on my maternity jeans and denim skirt peeking out from underneath. It also covers up the maternity support belt I’ve been wearing while walking for this last month. I didn’t go for the optional ruching cords included in the Agnes instructions as I figured this fabric was probably too lightweight and tricky to make them work, but it turns out they haven’t been necessary in a fabric with excellent recovery like this one.

This is one of those maternity makes I love so much I’m planning on refashioning so it has life after pregnancy. It should be simple enough to let out the side seams, remove the ruching and the extra length on the front, and then redo the seams and hem. I didn’t do my usual neckline treatment with the pleats to turn it into a sweetheart neckline as I thought there was probably enough going on with this fabric as it was, but I might consider adding those for life after maternity. We will see…

 

The deets

Pattern: Tilly and the Buttons Maternity Agnes Top frankenpatterned with the upper portion of the Knit Sweetheart Top from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual (affiliate link)

Size: Complicated! Size 3 waist from the Tilly pattern, graded to a 4 hip, and a size 6 for the top portion.

Fabric: This gorgeous viscose cotton spandex blend floral fabric from Girl Charlee UK.

Modifications: The frankenpatterning, obviously.

Time to sew: 1 hour 37 mins  (this doesn’t include pattern tracing, cutting out, threading up machine, trying on for fit purposes, and general waffling!)

Costing: 

  • Pattern: £2.38 (originally £7.13 in Black Friday sale, but used three times)
  • Fabric: £12 for 1.5m (special GBSB Live discount price)
  • Notions: £0
  • Total: £14.38

What do you reckon: would you mix florals and polka dots like this?

Disclaimer: some of the products linked above use affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase I will receive a small referral fee (at no added cost to you). Any extra income to help fund my sewing habit is greatly appreciated, but rest assured I only recommend products I love and think you might find useful too 🙂

The Lesser-Spotted Dressing Gown – Vogue V8888 pattern review

Vogue V8888 Dressing gown robe spotty viscose challis

Last week I had another make up on the Minerva Blogger Network: this gorgeous polka dot dressing gown from Vogue Patterns (V8888).  You can find out more about this make over on their blog–it was a complicated sew in some ways (blame the viscose challis!), but I had a lot of fun paying attention to giving it a fine finish with lots of French seams and couture touches.

I haven’t actually had any opportunity for wearing this just yet as the weather took an unwelcome turn for the cold again, but I’m sure it’s going to come in useful over the summer. Assuming we actually get a summer in England this year…

I’ll be posting again this week, I hope, with my final maternity make I keep promising: an Agnes top in a gorgeous dark floral jersey from Girl Charlee UK. Better get it done quick before I have this baby!

Ciao for now, peeps!

The Kinder Cardigan goes DISCO!

Kinder Sequinned Cardigan Wendy Ward Sewing with Knitted Fabrics

This week I’m finally able to share a make from January with you–the popular Kinder Cardigan–as my post for the new Wendy Ward book (A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics – affiliate link) has gone live over on the Minerva site. Go and check it out if you want to find out more about both the cardie and the book as a whole 🙂

https://www.minervacrafts.com/blog/product-reviews/the-kinder-sequinned-cardigan

I did try to wear my cardie today but the weather got too hot, too quickly. We seem to have gone straight from winter to summer–just last week everyone was wearing coats and scarves and today it was all shorts and flip flops! I’m sure the cardie will get some wear over the spring and summer, though, even if only in the evenings.

I’ll be blogging another Minerva make next week–a gorgeous summer dressing gown (Vogue V888) in polka dot viscose challis. Just got to finish off making it and work out how to insert inseam pockets in a French seam!

Here’s a sneak peek of it on my cutting table:

Adios, amigos x

The Erin Maternity Skirt – or the Barcode Skirt #2

Erin Maternity Skirt in stripes - Megan Nielsen Patterns

I made this Megan Nielsen Erin Maternity Skirt back in December, took the pics in January, but am only now blogging it as it’s hardly had any wear so far. That’s by no means a reflection on how much I like the skirt (spoiler: I love it!) but more on our exceptionally cold winter this year, and the weight of the fabric I used.

Megan Nielsen is one of the few pattern designers out there with a range of maternity sewing patterns to choose from, and so far I’ve made this and the Amber Dress, both of which I love. They are all classic, knit garments that make excellent basics, and each have a range of options to give different looks. The Erin skirt has two length options (knee and midi length) plus an optional hem ruffle if you like that kind of thing. Ruffles aren’t my thang, but hey, maybe I’ll change my mind at some point. Probably once they’ve gone out of fashion, knowing me…

While a knit pencil skirt is one of the easiest garments out there to make and I already have a TNT pattern for one which I could have adapted for maternity wear, I chose to buy this anyway as it looked like there was some interesting shaping going on at the top. I’m glad I did as the pattern drafting is really clever, with different shaped back and front pieces so you get plenty of extra fabric going over the bump. There’s also some side ruching with elastic, although unlike other ruched maternity wear where the front panel is the only one gathered, the Erin skirt gathers are made after sewing the side seams, so front and back both get gathered. I can’t say as it seems to make much difference in how the skirt looks, and it’s certainly easy to sew that way.

I’ve been missing my favourite striped knit pencil skirt, so I went searching for some medium weight striped stretchy jersey and found this navy and beige fabric on Minerva’s site. It was good value, a polyester/viscose/elastane blend, and seemed ideal. However, when it arrived it felt much thinner and more drapey than I was expecting. I don’t think the description is wrong–viscose does weigh more than cotton–but I now know to be more careful when choosing viscose fabrics for bottoms! This is absolutely perfect for a spring/summer skirt with bare legs underneath, but not right for wearing over tights or leggings in winter. The skirt rides up too easily when walking.

I think the fabric would be fabulous for tees and summer dresses, though, as it’s so soft and drapey. Maybe I’ll buy some more for something else, and I should have enough scraps to make a tee for Gabriel.

In terms of making up, this was a really simple sew. I deviated from the instructions only when sewing the elastic waistband, as I much prefer to overlock the elastic to the top edge, fold and stitch than go to all the faff of making waistband casings. I also hate the way waistbands can get twisted inside casings, and there’s no chance of twisting with this method. And check out how high this skirt goes up!

When I’d finished the skirt I tried it on before hemming, and realised it was too long to walk in comfortably. This could partly be down to the cheap elastic I used for ruching the side seams, which stretched out and didn’t fully recover so ended up 4cm longer than it should have been. In the end I lopped 8cm length off the bottom and it’s ended up just above the knee.

I do love my Erin Skirt and I’m looking forward to the weather being warm enough to get lots of wear out of it in my last weeks of pregnancy. However, I reckon it will still be useful over the summer months while I work on getting rid of the baby flab, and it could always be converted to a regular pencil skirt after that, so it should get a fair amount of wear eventually.

I probably should have made another Erin skirt in a thicker fabric for the winter, but I’m not going to bother now as I have so little time left. However, I’ll hold onto the pattern in case any friends fall pregnant and fancy a cute skirt making for them 🙂

These photos are now a couple of months old, but I’m currently having a go at the 10×10 wardrobe challenge over on Instagram, and this skirt is one of my ten picks. I’ll post a round-up and my thoughts on the challenge in a couple of weeks so you’ll be able to see the skirt over my current much larger bump then–or hop on over to Instagram if you can’t wait!

Erin Maternity Skirt

The Deets:

Pattern: The Erin Maternity Skirt from Megan Nielsen Patterns. I made the midi length version (version 2)

Size: M

Fabric: This Stripey Stretch Jersey (affiliate link) in navy and beige from Minerva.

Modifications: Reduced the length by about 8cm for ease of walking, so it’s ended up being knee length after all.

Overlocked elastic to top edge, folded and topstitched rather than making a casing.

Time to sew: 1 hour 11 mins (this doesn’t include pattern tracing, cutting out, threading up machine, trying on for fit purposes, and general waffling!)

Costing: 

  • Pattern: £7.55 (in Black Friday sale)
  • Pattern printing: £2.70
  • Fabric: £4.99 for 1m
  • Notions: £0.00 (elastics from stash)
  • Total: £15.24

Other inspirational versions: While plain, I love these classic black and white versions from Poppykettle and The Gingerthread Girl. And you can’t beat this patterned version by Holli, modelled over a 39 week bump no less!

What are your thoughts on striped skirts? Are they a wardrobe staple for you too?

Coming next on the blog: My April sewing plans!

Disclaimer: some of the products linked above use affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase I will receive a small referral fee (at no added cost to you). Any extra income to help fund my sewing habit is greatly appreciated, but rest assured I only recommend products I love and think you might find useful too 🙂

The Snakeskin Amber Dress

Amber maternity nursing dress Megan Nielsen

Hey everyone! I’ve got another Minerva make to share today, and it’s another maternity dress. Not the Agnes this time, but the old Simplicity version of the Megan Nielsen Amber Dress. I’ve actually made it twice before (here and here) so this is truly a TNT pattern for me.

I do still have a couple of maternity makes to blog, and I’ve got pics taken so hopefully they’ll go up in the next couple of weeks. After that… I’m going to have to think hard about what will be worth making. Fitting a rapidly changing body is a challenge!

The full write up of making this dress is on the Minerva site, but something I forgot to add to the post was the time taken to sew, which was 2 hours. That’s not bad considering there were 13 pattern pieces to deal with, and the fabric was challenging at times (although seriously gorgeous to wear!)

Right, that’s it for now. I’ve been dealing with an ill toddler the last couple of days (conjunctivitis) so I’m tired and haven’t got much done. At least I’m making some headway on the crochet blanket, though 🙂

Back soon with  another Megan Nielsen pattern: the Erin skirt! Sneak peek:

Erin Maternity Skirt in stripes - Megan Nielsen Patterns

 

 

 

The Baggy Bump Maternity Trousers – live on the Minerva Blogger Network

Burda 7239 maternity trousers 9

Hey everyone–I know it’s been quiet on the blog here lately, but I’ve been suffering from anaemia so didn’t have much energy to post or sew. However, my latest maternity sewing project is now up on the Minerva Blogger Network here: https://www.minervacrafts.com/blogger-network/post/the-baggy-bump-trousers

I’ve got to say a big thank you to my daughter, Daisy, for taking the pictures! Finding the opportunity to get enough light to photograph a project properly at this time of year is tricky, to say the least, and these might not be up to my usual picture standard, but hey, at least they got taken 🙂

I have a few projects nearly finished and another couple of project posts that just need writing, so I hope to be back to a regular weekly post in March. I’m not going to do any more maternity sewing after the next couple of weeks, though, as unless it’s something that would work for breastfeeding and that awkward period before my midsection gets back to its pre-pregnancy state (it will happen–I’ve managed it twice before!), it really won’t be worth the effort for just two month’s of wear.

Anyway, these trousers are so useful right now with this freezing cold weather. My legs are actually warm enough today, wearing these with boots and leggings underneath! The fabric is perfect for bottomweight sewing, and would also be great for a jacket. It’s a clearance one, though, so you if want some for yourself don’t wait!

Materials used:

Burda 7239 – Maternity Tops, Bolero and Pants  (affiliate link)

Textured Stretch Jersey Knit Dress Fabric (affiliate link)

Gutermann Sew All thread (affiliate link)

I’ll be back in a few days with my maternity sewing plans for March, and a bumper round-up of January and February’s sewing. What little there was of it, at any rate 🙂

Anna x

 

 

My first Minerva Craft Blogger post!

Cosy Cabled Knitted Cowl for Minerva Blogger Network

Blog posts–they’re like buses, aren’t they? I make you wait ages and then you get two blog posts in two days–and probably one a day for the next few days too 🙂

Anyway, today is my debut as part of the Minerva Craft Blogger Network. I’ve done a few projects for the regular Minerva blog over the summer, but I was thrilled to be asked to join the blogger network proper. That means that every month I’m given a budget to shop with on the Minerva site, and I’ll share my makes there on the 28th.

My first make is a knitted cowl, bizarrely enough. I don’t do much knitting, but I do enjoy it and I want to get better, so I figure the only way to do so is to stretch myself and try new things. This was my first go at cables, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out 😀

Check out the full post over on the blog, and here are links to the products I used, should you be interested in grabbing them yourself:

Erika Knight Maxi Wool in Geranium (2 hanks for £7.59 each)

Knit Pro Basix Birch Circular Needle (£5.99)

Clover Cable Needles (£3.19)

Stylecraft Ladies Scarves and Cowls pattern (£2.99)

(all affiliate links)

Now, I know some people are suspicious when bloggers use affiliate links and review products they got for free, and I used to be one of them. However, since Minerva are a company I was buying from before I ever got any freebies, I’m very happy to have this arrangement with them, and it allows me to make things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to make. I will always give my honest opinion in reviews and point out the pros and cons, should there be any. I find other bloggers reviews helpful, so I’m happy to be able to spread the word about books, patterns, fabrics and the like.

Affiliate links are something I’ve started doing this last year and so far I haven’t made much from them. Basically, if you click through on an affiliate link and make a purchase I will make a very small referral bonus, at no charge to you. I started putting affiliate links up because I was spending lots of time writing blog posts, but had hardly any money to buy fabric and patterns. I figured that if the blogging could in any way help support my sewing hobby then that would be great. Perhaps at some point in the future my affiliate links will start bringing in a bit of money, and as they’re quick to set up I’ll keep going with them for the time being. If you don’t like them, you can always find the products I’ve linked with a quick Google search. I’ll happily provide a non-affiliate link for you in the comments if you’re having trouble finding anything. Just let me know 🙂

Right, that’s all for now. If you have any thoughts on bloggers using affiliate links and reviewing freebies, then please do share. I’m always really interested to discuss this sort of thing.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the first of my #SewingTop5 posts. Until then, happy sewing!

The Party Animal Dress – a maternity Agnes dress pattern review

Party Animal maternity bodycon Agnes Dress Tilly and the Buttons

Hi everyone! I’m here to provide a little distraction from post-Christmas mayhem (or whatever it is you choose to celebrate at this time of year) with my first proper bit of maternity sewing on the blog: a party dress made with the new maternity version of the very popular Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top/dress.

Believe it or not, this is my very first maternity dress make. I was into dressmaking when I fell pregnant with Gabriel, but because of my inexperience with and general fear of sewing knit fabrics, I thought most maternity sewing patterns looked too much like hard work. Since having Gabriel, however (3 years ago this week–doesn’t time fly?!) I’ve truly embraced sewing with knits and now prefer sewing them to wovens. Continue reading “The Party Animal Dress – a maternity Agnes dress pattern review”

The Winter Cords: Ottobre Ever Grey Boys Corduroy Pants sewing pattern review

Ottobre corduroy Ever Grey boys trousers, issue 4/2011

I don’t make much for my kids, I’ve got to admit. I used to crochet and knit for Daisy when she was a toddler, but I now find so little time for crafting that I’m pretty selfish with the little bits of time I do get. However, every now and again one of the kids needs and/or wants something that I either can’t track down to buy, or can’t afford when I do. This is one of those occasions.

I’ve had these cords on my sewing list since Gabriel was born as they caught my eye when looking through this old Ottobre magazine (one of only two that I own), but a well-timed gift of some roomy, lined corduroy trousers from my mum two years back meant I didn’t end up making them. I figured I had better make them this year as Gabriel is now at the maximum size they go up to, and after two years in the last pair he’d finally grown out of them! The pattern is for unlined trousers, but after the success of those lined cords I hunted around for a tutorial to add a snuggly jersey lining, and found this really helpful one.

The materials are all from my stash, and are leftover from old projects. The needlecord is beautifully soft but quite thin, so the thick interlock lining is really needed for a pair of winter-ready trousers. Plus I’ve discovered the lining has the added bonus of completely absorbing any little “accidents” Gabriel has. Okay, so they’ll still need changing, but at least everything is contained and I won’t need to clean the carpets. In unrelated news, we will be replacing our pale carpet with wooden flooring at some point in 2018!

Now, if you’ve never encountered Ottobre Magazine before it’s a Finnish publication that comes out six times a year. Two issues feature women’s patterns but four of them are kids patterns with around 30-40 designs in each and a good mix of clothes to fit different ages (newborns to teens) and plenty of unisex designs along with those that are more obviously suited to girls. I haven’t bought the women’s magazine before but I know Dawn from Two on, Two Off often sews them up. Many of the patterns are for jersey knits and the styling in the inspirational shots is always cute.

That’s the good–now what about the bad?

Well, first up, this is one of the pattern sheets:

Yeah, if you’re colourblind you’re not even going to want to attempt to find your pattern in amongst this lot! On the plus side, the patterns are all full sized and can be traced off. However, you will need to add your own seam allowance (hem allowance is usually included, and the pattern instructions will let you know if this is the case and how much seam allowance to add). I’m not averse to adding a seam allowance to a pattern and I always trace anyway, but I can see this would be a major stumbling block for some sewists. One thing I would definitely recommend if you are attempting to do this is to invest in one of these incredibly useful drafting rulers (affiliate link)–I wouldn’t want to attempt to add seam allowances without mine! I believe those over the pond can get hold of them with imperial measurements too.

Another downside to Ottobre patterns is the instructions. They’re perfectly sufficient if you’ve been sewing a while and have experience with the particular type of garment you’re making, but there are no illustrations and the text is fairly minimal. I’ve now made two Ottobre patterns (the first was Gabriel’s sleepsuit) and apart from the odd headscratching moment I’ve found they go together really easily, but your mileage may vary.

On to the making of these… It was pretty straightforward on the whole. I did have one annoying moment when I realised I hadn’t flipped the pattern piece when cutting out the knee sections, but luckily I had just enough fabric left in my scraps to cut another. Phew! I was worried that I might have to go for an entirely different fabric on the knees, which I suppose could look cute but I like the all-corduroy vibe, and the knee sections are different enough with the cord being cut on the cross grain. Here’s a close up pic to show that, as you’d have to really squint to see it in the rest of the pics!

It was interesting to see just how differently the cross and straight grain of the fabric behave when sewing them together. The cross grain really is so much more stretchy, and it was challenging to get the seams to match up as I was sewing. Luckily my walking foot could cope with it, but if you don’t have one I’d recommend doing some serious basting before sewing those seams.

There was a lot of topstitching in this pattern so I swapped around some of the construction steps so I didn’t have to swap needle and thread too often. Note to self: I really must get my second sewing machine operational! I did have a few issues with my topstitching thread tension and ended up flipping over what looked like a perfectly sewn row of topstitching to find this horrible old thread nest on the back:

Yeah, that was fun to unpick!

The front “pockets” as specified in the pattern are just two lines of topstitching to look like pocket openings, although the back patch ones are functional. I would have liked to make proper pockets at the front too as Gabriel does like to put stuff in them (not so good when it’s unwrapped chocolate from his advent calendar, admittedly), but with all the bulk of the lining to factor in I decided it would be making life too hard for myself. I vetoed the belt loops for the same reason, but would definitely do both if making an unlined pair for sprint/autumn.

As for the lining, I simply traced myself new pattern pieces for front and back by piecing together the main pattern pieces, minus any seam allowance where they’re joined. No way was I piecing all those seams for something that wouldn’t get seen! It was incredibly simple to sew the lining in and I’d recommend following that tutorial for anyone who wants to try upping the warmth level of an existing pair of elastic waist trousers.

Here’s a few more pics of Gabriel modelling his trousers on a properly muddy day:

Gabriel's Ottobre corduroy trousers 3
Best view I could get of the back. Sorry!

Gabriel's Ottobre corduroy trousers Gabriel's Ottobre corduroy trousers Gabriel's Ottobre corduroy trousers

My only real criticism of this pattern is the sizing, and that’s my fault for not paying close enough attention to what Ottobre’s sizing chart was telling me. The size 92 fits him fine for waist, outseam and height–he’s a centimetre taller, but his outseam is two centimetres shorter so they’re long enough. He just has most of his height in his body rather than his legs–just like his mum and his big sister!

However, the size 92 specifies a 58cm hip whereas Gabriel only has a 53 centimetre hip measurement. I scratched my head a little at this but figured I could just take the trousers in if needed. I’m guessing that this measurement must be to fit over cloth nappies, and Gabriel no longer wears any kind of nappy during the day, which has resulted in a pair of trousers that are much baggier in the leg than I’d ideally like. I just think he looks cuter in a slim fit, much like his dad does! I’ll definitely pay more attention to leg width in any future trousers I make him.

I doubt I’ll make these trousers for Gabriel again as this is the largest size they come in, but I’d definitely be up for making something in a very similar style with a skinnier leg. And who knows, maybe I’ll dust the pattern off for child #3 when they’re big enough. It starts at a pretty small size so I could get a fair bit of use out of it over the next few years!

The deets

Pattern: Ever Grey Corduroy Pants from Ottobre Kids, Autumn 4/2011

Size: 92cm

Fabric: Some leftover yardage from very old projects. One lot of brown needlecord I’ve also used to make this Osaka Skirt, and some tan cotton interlock to line it.

Modifications: Added the jersey lining for warmth, and omitted the belt loops.

Time to sew: 2 hours 48 minutes (this doesn’t include pattern tracing, cutting out, threading up machine, trying on for fit purposes, and general waffling!)

Costing: 

  • Pattern: £8.29 (I can’t actually remember how much I paid for the magazine, but that’s what the average back issue goes for on their site at the moment)
  • Fabric: £0.00 (not counting this as it’s all leftover from old projects)
  • Notions: £1.60 for topstitching thread
  • Total: £9.89

Not a bad price for warm and snuggly winter trousers, and the cost will go down if and when I make more patterns from this magazine.

Other inspirational versions: It’s not easy to find this pattern reviewed in English anywhere online (with the exception of these plain grey ones here), but I did track down a few girly versions on sites that are written in French and German:  these cute ones with the star applique and some in an eye-watering patterned corduroy!

Have you ever sewn an Ottobre pattern? If so, how did it go? And are you a mainly selfish or selfless sewist?

Disclaimer: some of the products linked above use affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase I will receive a small referral fee (at no added cost to you). Any extra income to help fund my sewing habit is greatly appreciated, but rest assured I only recommend products I love and think you might find useful too 🙂

Coming up next on the blog: Hopefully I’ll be sharing my leopard print Agnes dress–if I can get the sizing sorted out by the weekend. I’d better, as there’s a party I want to wear it to!

Party Animal Agnes dress - maternity version

The Purple Ponte Pockets Cardigan

Yesterday I had my final post on the Minerva Crafts Blog go live, and you can find my gorgeous purple Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan full write up over there. And if you recognise this cardigan pattern it’s because I’ve made it before, meaning it’s a true TNT pattern for me now. Yay for TNTs!

Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan in purple ponte

But why is it my “final” post, especially when I’ve been enjoying making my Minerva Crafts projects so much? (see my previous Minerva makes in the gallery below)

Well, that’s because I’ve now got a spot on the Minerva Blogger Network, which means I’ll be making a brand new project for them every month! My first post will go live at the end of December and be warned, for once it’s a knitting one rather than a dressmaking one! But there’s a good reason for that, which I’ll go into in my special announcement post later this week.

Anyway, I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the Minerva Blogger Network along with all those other talented sewists and crafters, and I look forward to sharing lots of makes with you over there. Mostly dressmaking, but with the occasional other textile craft thrown in for good measure. I’m pretty wide-ranging in my crafting habits, after all!

Now here’s the rest of the cardie deets that I didn’t fit into the main Minerva post, should you be interested in super-nerdy stuff like timings and pricings 🙂

Time taken to sew cardigan: 1 hour 51 minutes — slightly longer than last time, but who’s counting? Oh yeah, it’s me, isn’t it? #facepalm

(time taken is the time to sew, which will include pinning, stitching, pressing, etc, but doesn’t include time spent planning, tracing patterns, cutting out fabric, setting up the sewing machine, puzzling out instructions, trying things on, etc. So in other words, it’s not actually the total time I’ve spent making something, but it’s a rough guide at any rate. Just don’t come complaining if it takes you longer to make something!)

Costing:

Pattern: £5.52/£11.99

Based on me buying it for £11.04 originally, and then using it twice. If I’d paid for the Drop Pocket Cardigan from Minerva, it would have been £11.99

Fabric: £0.00/£29.98

£14.99 per metre. Used just under 2m of this gorgeous, top quality Ponte Roma.

Notions: £0.00

All thread from stash.

Total cost: £5.52 to me

Or £41.97 if you purchased all the supplies from Minerva. I realise that’s not exactly cheap, but the pattern is a good’un with a huge range of sizes so should definitely get used again, and obviously you can pick up 2m of a suitable fabric much cheaper than this. However, I can wholeheartedly recommend the ponte I used as it’s by far and away the best quality ponte I’ve sewn with, and I’ll definitely be using it again in the future!

Would you give the Drop Pocket Cardigan a go? Or do you have a favourite go-to cardie pattern already? Do share!

Disclaimer: some of the products linked above use affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase I will receive a small referral fee (at no added cost to you). Any extra income to help fund my sewing habit is greatly appreciated, but rest assured I only recommend products I love and think you might find useful too 🙂

Alabama Chanin Corset Top

I first found out about Natalie Chanin and her Alabama Chanin clothing line a couple of years ago, and I was instantly intrigued. I’d seen another sewing blogger make one of the corset tops and I loved it. For those unfamiliar with Alabama Chanin garments, they are completely hand stitched out of natural jersey fabrics, and often heavily embellished with beads or their trademark cutaway applique/embroidery. It gives a bit of a bohemian, rustic look, but with more contemporary style lines. And for those who love the look but can’t afford the hefty price tag (embellished dresses retail for almost $6000!), Natalie Chanin has published books of her most popular patterns, along with all the instructions to be successful making them.

Alabama Chanin corset top embroidered

Hand-sewing a jersey garment: the very idea blew my mind. I love sewing knits on my overlocker–so speedy–but I also liked the idea of having a portable project that was garment sewing rather than knitting or crochet. And I’ve always been good at embroidery so I figured I’d probably enjoy sewing a garment together with pretty but functional hand stitches.

I added Natalie Chanin’s Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns to my Amazon wishlist but didn’t think much more about it, and then out of the blue (well, okay, for my birthday) my sister bought it for me. And so I got large format prints done of my favourite patterns, then waited well over a year to actually get started on one. Not sure what took me so long to take the plunge. Maybe it was the idea of all that handsewing! Continue reading “Alabama Chanin Corset Top”

The Autumnal Cleo Dress

It had been a few months since I made my last Cleo dress, and considering how much wear I’ve been getting out of that and my first needlecord version, I figured it was high time I made myself another! Yes, finally I have a TNT pattern for a dress. Yay!

In a Nutshell:

A cute little dress that will be perfect for wearing over tights this autumn and winter. And let’s face it, this is England so I’ll probably be wearing tights well into the spring too! Continue reading “The Autumnal Cleo Dress”

The “Should have left it White” Blouse

So, this is another of my Patterns by Gertie retro inspired makes, and probably the last summer thing you’ll see around here for a while. Ah summer, I miss you! I sewed this blouse up at the end of August/beginning of September, so I haven’t actually been able to wear it other than for the shoot as it’s been a pretty cold autumn so far.

I have to admit, originally I only intended this blouse as a toile, because after looking at online reviews I realised it would probably be too short for my liking. Why not lengthen it, you ask? Well, the pattern pieces have no markings to do this, and they are some of the craziest shaped pattern pieces I’ve seen so I didn’t feel confident making any alterations until I’d had a go at sewing it together.

And then I made it, and it turned out better than I thought, and I should have left it how it was but like an idiot, I thought I could improve things with a purple dye bath…

In a Nutshell:

Could have been a cute, if exceedingly cropped, summer blouse if I hadn’t tried to be all clever. Now it’s just an unloved toile. Sigh. Continue reading “The “Should have left it White” Blouse”