A while ago I realised that I had a wardrobe full of colourful handmade dresses, but nowhere near enough casual tops. I knew that I wanted to wear more handmade while off-duty too, so I’ve been on the look-out for good quality cotton jersey that would indulge my love of stripes. I’d had my eye on the Grainline Studio Linden sweatshirt since it was launched last year, but it had fallen down my to-sew list. As a warm-up I decided to sew up the free Hemlock Tee first so I could work out the sizing. The Hemlock is free to Grainline subscribers, and I know it’s been hugely popular. The most recent contender for Hemlock I most want to steal was this beauty by Birgitte of Indigo Orchid. Birgitte did warn me that once I’d made one Hemlock I’d be addicted. She was right!
So here she is: the latest addition to my usual off-duty wardrobe of skinnies, flats and stripy tops. My other handmade favourite stripes have been my Tilly Coco and Bluegingerdoll Bonnie. A new stripy top was long-overdue. I love the dropped shoulders and casual but modern fit. I think it looks just a little bit more chic than a pyjama top, but that’s how it feels to wear. I shortened the bodice by several inches.
I am so happy with it that I can’t bear to take it off. The only improvement I would make next time would be to reduce the neckline a little. I had to cut a longer piece of binding for this top, resulting in quite a wide neck (although a cracking binding, if I do say so myself!). Next time I will cut two back bodices to create a boat neck as this one is on the verge of being too wide.
So after a happy experience with the Hemlock, I launched right into the Linden. I especially loved the casual raglan sleeves on this pattern, and used a grey striped French terry to enhance the raglan style. Again, it came out the right side of slouchy.
Check out my raglan stripe-matching! I constructed both tops on the overlocker, using my new walking foot to topstitch the neckline bands down. I wondered about the fit as the Grainline promotional photos always look quite baggy, but I am over the moon with both, just as I was with my Grainline Archer shirt. Grainline patterns seem to be perfectly proportioned to be modern and classic. I had thought a sweatshirt was unnecessary in this climate, but the tyrants of air conditioning keep me permanently chilly indoors. Just like the Hemlock, I can quite bear to take this off to wash it!
I’m back on the balcony for this post. The quest for better blog photos in confined spaces continues. My photographer-husband has a new strategy: muttering insults at me and my modelling technique under his breath never fails to make me laugh!
Happy Almost Easter, fellow citizens of the stitchosphere! I’ve got something a bit more demure to show you this week, so no need to adjust the colour setting on your digital device!
A shirt! With topstitching! The Archer by Grainline Studios has been a labour of love these past weeks. After steaming through a cluster of Bonnies and trousers, I relished taking on a project that involved numerous steps, each taken lovingly and slowly. I dialled up the Archer Sewalong, and settled in with laptop beside sewing machine and overlocker to be led through the construction. I used cotton chambray from Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road, which was a bargainous £3 per metre. The fabric pressed easily and behaved beautifully, so it was easy to be accurate. I used a water soluble fabric marker, which you can see around the buttonholes on the photos. Overall, it was a pleasure to sew with. I went back to the textbook and used the used the overlocker to finish seams inside. As recommended, I pressed the seams to one side and topstitched along the seams on the right side to mimic the flat-fell seams typically found on a denim or chambray shirt.
After a bit of research on collars, I decided to follow Four Square Wall’s tutorial for assembling in a different order for a more accurate finish. I’d recommend it – I was really pleased with the way it went in.
So far, so good. It was all going so well until it was time to stitch the button holes. I felt the anxiety levels rising – I had a few dry runs then went for it! After five perfect buttonholes, you guessed it – it went mad on hole number six, and got stuck. What a mess! It’s not too noticeable. But then things got worse: I cut through the top buttonhole with the stitch ripper!
And then…. I realised i’d put the buttonhole on the wrong side of the cuff, so had to stitch it back together and add a buttonhole to the other side! So after ten long days of tender loving stitching i sabotaged the shirt with my finishing touches. Isn’t it always the way?
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.
But, 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.
I 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?
I’ll leave you with one of my one-offs: the Named Patterns Kanerva top that nearly didn’t fit! Happy weekend!
Crumbs! I’m in a deadly stranglehold grip of python print! I really can’t get enough of this fabric. As I mentioned before, it’s an eBay steal at £3.49 per metre for your finest synthetic ponte knit. It seems to be out of stock now, but there’s a gorgeous charcoal version here. I learned a valuable lesson with this stuff. I usually buy my fabrics by feel of hand, and rarely buy anything synthetic. This means that I tend to discount fabrics even if I really like the print. Of late, I have been increasingly envious of certain bloggers’ fabulous knit prints, and wondered why I have found it so hard to come up with something equally fabulous. So I decided to experiment by buying online so the catchy/scratchy hand-feel doesn’t put me off. Result!
As you may recall, I had fallen hard and fast for my python print Bonnie. So much so that I rushed headlong into a Bluegingerdoll Violet dress version, making a beeline for the pencil skirt. So far, so good. Only thing was, I didn’t really like the bodice. Worn with the pencil skirt pinned in place, I didn’t find the fit very flattering. Had I opted for the flared skirt I’m sure it would have been a different story.
So enamoured of my Bonnie was I, that I fancied a mate for her. I was equally smitten with my new python pencil skirt, sans Violet bodice! I tried the pair on together and fell in love with this double act. The looser fit of the Bonnie top with it’s gathered sleeveheads, plus the wide waistband was more flattering to my curves. I’m not the only one to have mixed and matched Bluegingerdoll patterns. Here’s a gorgeous version of a ‘FrankenBonnie’ by Idle Fancy. There’s something very liberating about taking the best parts of favourite patterns and remodelling them. This is a first for me. My growing sense of confidence with the overlocker is starting to pay off.
I had decided not to add a waistband to my new skirt, but added stretchy clear plastic tape to stabilise it while I made my mind up. I wore the skirt with a plain black jumper and loved it! How was I to get the best of both worlds for my snakeskin separates? I just couldn’t bear to attach them both permanently. So, the version you can see has the Violet skirt safety pinned to the underside of the Bonnie waistband. I can still detach the pair when double python just seems too much. But for now, they’re inseparable!
I am trying to slow down, I really am! But when the perfect fabric meets the perfect pattern, sewing alchemy happens and you’re powerless. I bought this AMAZING blue python print ponte on eBay for a bargainous £3.45 per metre in preparation for my first foray into sewing knits with my overlocker. I had been cyber-stalking a number of gorgeous Bluegingerdoll Bonnies: my absolute faves were courtesy of Handmade Jane, Heather B, A Stitching Odyssey, and Make Sew Do. Despite loving Bonnie, I fully intended to make a Bluegingerdoll Violet dress first, which I duly cut out, but last-minute overlocking nerves resulted in a light-bulb moment: I could make a Bonnie with the remnants before I tackle the dress. And my new favourite garment was born! It ticks all of my current sewing aspirations: it’s casual, modern everyday wear and quick to make. I love it! I chose view B – the cropped sweater version, but with long sleeves and a boat neckline. I was particularly excited to be supporting a pattern company that bases its patterns on my bust size as the norm – a D cup. Choosing ponte as my first knit was a good call. It was stable and behaved well; no slipping around and stretching out of shape. I had a bit of a practice-run on some scraps. It all went swimmingly so I got stuck in on the waistband. Cue first incident of fabric being attacked by the blade. Thankfully, it wasn’t fatal, but a good reminder to keep control of both layers of fabric at all times. Note to self: I really should watch the instructional DVD. On the back shoulders I used stay tape to affix the clear plastic stretch tape, then used the overlocker to attach it. I am always a big fan of a gathered sleeve-head, and this pattern didn’t disappoint. It’s one of those optical illusions that slims down the rest of your body, creating extra waistline. I sewed gather-stitches on the sleeve-head and then overlocked the two sections together. The gather stitches were conveniently trimmed off by the blade. The whole top was made with the overlocker, except from the neckline and sleeve hems, which I zig-zagged on the sewing machine. It was so quick to make: it probably took me around an hour (not including cutting) to make, with my two small people doing colouring-in either side of me. There was a reason why I sneakily suggested a Crafternoon! I’ve got a couple more Bonnies lined up as soon as I’ve got a spare hour. I cut a straight size 12 for this version. The only modification I’d make for the next one is to lengthen the bodice by 1″ or so. I’m no Amazon, but the length of this top is verging on the indecent. In the real world I will be wearing this with a long-length vest underneath to avoid embarrassing and unsightly muffin-top revealage. I literally cannot wait to get going on the Violet dress. I don’t think all-over python is too much, do you?!