Ultimate Trousers!

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Wanna see something that’ll make your eyes water?!

ultimate trousers

Introducing my first ever trousers, The Ultimate Trousers by Sew Over It. I bought the pattern some time ago, and was puzzling over getting the fit right. After reading in Clarinda Kaleidoscope’s review of the course that you get to try on toiles of each size, I decided that it was worth the money to attend the course and dropped Mother’s Day-sized hints! And it was worth every penny! The communal sewing experience was therapeutic and enjoyable. It was fascinating to see others’ fabric choices, and chat as we sewed. Dominique, our tutor, was amazing.

ultimate trousers

The trying-on session was the best possible way to get started, and I wasn’t a million miles away from the size I thought I should be. I had been puzzling over measuring my waist size as 3 dress sizes larger than my hips. The pattern is cut for an hourglass figure, it turns out. But the fitting process during the course confirmed my hunch that I’m no hourglass anymore. Once the trousers were assembled (minus the zip and facings), we went back to fitting and re-fitting until we got the shape we wanted. I was after a really slim fit that would work into spring and summer. I took several inches from the outer leg seam until I got the slim fit I was looking for. I used a heavy cotton stretch fabric from Simply Fabrics. The eagle-eyed among you might remember it from my Emery Dress of extreme loveliness. The fabric is quite stiff, and the dress does feel like you’re wearing a lampshade. So, the stretch in this fabric meant that the trousers grew a little during their first wear out. I took another inch from the leg seam to slim them down again.

ultimate trousers

This year’s sewing plan has been to build wardrobe essentials, and a slim fit summer trouser is exactly what I have been after. My second pair are made in African Wax print cotton bought on Goldhawk Road. The fabric doesn’t have any stretch, so I am hoping they will hold their shape. I’m really pleased with my new trousers and plan to make ‘boring’ pairs in black and navy. I absolutely had do go ‘statement’ on the first pair. After all, what’s the point in being to make your own if you’re not going to make something that no designer on earth would come up with?! But as I proudly wore them to work I did wonder what my trousers said/shrieked about me!

ultimate trousers

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Bonnies by the Bunch!

Hey there! How have you been? Getting withdrawal symptoms after the end of series 3 GBSB?! Sewing has forced it’s way up to the top of my to-do list this week –  a cheeky day off work spent on Goldhawk Road, the cutting out of my long-awaited Grainline Archer, and part 1 of the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers class. Part two is next week, and i literally cannot wait to finish my lurid red floral party pants. I’ve tried on one leg so far (admittedly not the best way to gauge fit) and I think there’s more work to be done to avoid the ‘jodhpur’ look.

lace bonnieBut, for your sewing pleasure today, I bring you a pair of Bonnies! I wrote plenty here of how much I loved this pattern by Bluegingerdoll. My beloved snakeskin version has become a wardrobe staple. I bought another metre of ponte roma from eBay, ensuring that the colour would work with my white-threaded overlocker (note to self: I really need to force myself to learn to re-thread this thing!).

This time around I added 1.5″ to the bodice length to cover a little more of my modesty. It retains the cropped look, but I still have to wear a vest under it. I loved it so much that I made another lengthened one from some gorgeous striped cotton knit from The Cloth House purchased with more birthday vouchers. Gosh, I was spoiled this year! Of all the things I have made this year, I am most pleased with my Bonnies.

Bluegingerdoll BonnieI am most definitely a repeat sewist – if I like it, I make it over and over again. Along with three Bonnies I’ve made four Monetas (spots, pink, snake, black) and three Mathildes (butterflies, chambray, Liberty lawn). Are you a thrifty sewist, making the most of your favourite patterns, or are you seduced by new patterns? What are your favourite go-to patterns to revamp?

kanervaI’ll leave you with one of my one-offs: the Named Patterns Kanerva top that nearly didn’t fit! Happy weekend!

A Book Review, A Girl’s Dress, and a lot of Swearing

Greetings, sewing chums. It’s been a while. Work and life have got in the way of blogging, but I have been beavering away in the background on a few projects. Today I bring you two firsts: a book review and a girl’s vintage-style dress. Spoiler alert: it involved a LOT of post-watershed swearing.

I was given ‘Sewn With Love: Classic Patterns for Children’s Clothes and Accessories’ by Fiona Bell a couple of Christmases ago. Despite being filled with gorgeous vintage-styled patterns for kids, It’s been languishing on my bookshelf while I gorged myself silly on selfish sewing. After a number of heartfelt pleas  to “make me a dress please, Mummy”, I gave in.

Sewn With LoveI don’t think of myself as a novice sewist these days, which made the problems I encountered all the more annoying. First off was a PDF pattern that was fiendishly hard to assemble. I’ve cut and stuck my fair share in recent months and I’ve always found the quality of indie PDF patterns to be really high. This was not the case. The margins were tiny, and pieces were laid out in the least economical way possible. There was an absence of standard pattern markings.

The written instructions were sparse, accompanied only by the vaguest of sketch drawings. Thankfully I’ve learned enough over the past couple of years to make an educated guess. The least satisfactory of fudges was the bottom of the button band extension. I had a couple of attempts, and gave up on the basis that it would not be noticeable.  I am hoping all will become clear when I attempt the cuffs on my next big project: The Grainline Archer.

button extension

I did wonder if anyone who actually makes clothes had proof-read the book. Other irritating errors and omissions included metric/imperial measurements that didn’t tally  (for example the option of 1cm or 1/2″), and interchangeable non-standard seam allowances of 5 or 10mm. The fabric requirement was huge and not proportionate to the pattern sizing; I probably had at least 1.5m too much. The final straw was the pattern piece for bias binding the neckline that was at least 4 inches too long.

No doubt, the images in the book are lovely. It’s an aspirational craft book, rather than a serious sewing book. It’s put to shame by the quality of independent companies, who create patterns with clear instructions and easy-to-assemble PDFs. In the spirit of adventure I would probably attempt another dress, but would know to expect that the instructions were merely suggestions. I did enjoy making a scaled-down dress, and threw in an alteration for good measure by adding an inch to the length of the bodice to accommodate my tall girl.5o's girls dress

As you’d expect, my daughter absolutely loved her girly, twirly dress, so the adventure was worth it! I shall be taking Patrick Grant to bed tonight to console myself: Mothers’ Day came early this year with the arrival of the new GB Sewing Bee book in the post and it looks fantastic….. What’s been your worst ever sewing pattern experience and are you ready to cope with the end of another series of the GBSB?!