Blogger Book Tour : Wendy Ward’s ‘Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics’ Book Review and Makes

Hi!

I was delighted to be asked to join the Book Tour, following some of my favourite sewing bloggers, for Wendy Ward’s new tome ‘A Beginners Guide to Sewing Knitted Fabrics’. This was originally scheduled to happen earlier in the year but was delayed whilst the book went to reprint, as the original run sold out within two days!

I made two garments from the book by way of a review, the Monsal Lounge Pants and the Kinder Cardigan – patterns which have both proved very popular!

The book is split into two main parts, ‘Techniques’ and Projects’ and includes paper pieces for six basic pattern blocks which can be hacked and altered in a variety of ways to make many more. It is, as the title implies, a book intended for beginners, however, there is enough here for the more advanced sewist too.

My full book review post, which also details my Makes from it, has been posted as part of the second leg of the Tour schedule over on Minerva Craft’s blog HERE. I’ve summed it up quite succinctly, I think, with the title 😉

‘Don’t Want to Get Dressed But Have To? Then Make Something From This Book!’

Given that it’s been a while since I’ve made both these garments, I can tell you I’ve worn them a ridiculous amount! Secret Pyjamas for the win!!!! If you want a copy of the book there is, wink wink nudge nudge, a whopping 25% discount on the £12.99 cover price at MAKEetc.com until 21st April!

Also, if you haven’t already, you may also want to check out these reviews from the Tour so far :

What’s your favourite secret pjyama patterns?!

Until next time, happy sewing lovely peeps x

Sewcialise with me on Instagram here xx

Sleepwear Sewing patterns

Sewing a Gift to Myself : the Piccadilly Pyjamas by Nina Lee

Sleepwear Sewing patterns

Hello!

I’m so (sew!) happy to be sharing this make with you as it fills me with much joy! Having sewn nothing but sensible winter jersey for the last while, it felt incredible to get my hands on this extravagant cotton lawn and to indulge myself in whimsy. The Piccadilly Pyjamas by Nina Lee in this amazing Lady McElroy ‘Panda Retreat’ cotton lawn (link to fabric below ;-)) are a gift to myself. Sewing something to wrap up in that feels luxurious and makes me smile feels like the ultimate in self-care; not sewing myself a pretty dress but sleepwear, haha! But I love sewing sleepwear/loungewear and feel I ought to sew myself another matching Suki Kimono and slippers to go with them too!

The Piccadilly Pyjamas are my first make from the Nina Lee pattern house (and they’re unlikely to be my last as I’m kind of fascinated with their Southbank and Carnaby dresses too!); there’s some nostalgia on my part here, having spent the whole of my 20s living and working in these areas of London but, ultimately, it’s the design lines I love…

… I mean how cute these PJs are with their little puffed sleeves, shaped binding and mandarin collar! I love how the binding curves in key places, like the outside leg seam, shirt side seam and pocket:

Piccadilly mandarin pyjamas sewing pattern

I made these as my monthly make for the Minerva Craft Blogger Network Post so you can find the full post, more pics, details on the alterations I made and links to the supplies I used, over there You can find the pattern here.

Sewing buttonholes

Just a quick add to say that this was the first time I used my chisel to open the buttonholes. I’m a total convert now! Just, y’know put something underneath to protect your table!

What’s been your most indulgent make of late?!

See you soon (until next time, many thanks for the astonishingly positive response to the 2018 #sewtogetherforsummer challenge!)

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The Halifax Hoodie by Hey June Patterns – me and this pattern are totally Besties!

Woohoo I’m so happy to be posting about these makes. Do you sometimes feel with your sewing that all too often there is an inevitable niggle, big or small; the thing we wished we’d done differently? Or that everything’s ‘right’ but it just feels a bit ‘meh’ anyway? Well, I’m happy to report there is nothing of that ilk here, I absolutely LOVE EVERYTHING about this project! Well, ok, there is one thing but its a teeny weeny thing and really I should drop it already but … in typical fashion, I’m not going to! (So more on that in a bit!) What is it making me All Giddy? Have I made a fancy dress? A pair of tailored pants? Some other labour intensive showstopper? No I have not, I’ve made a Hoodie.

But not just any old hoodie…a Halifax Hoodie!

Two Halifax Hoodies in fact. It’s fair to say I’m beginning to develop a bit of a crush on Hey June Patterns…this being the second of theirs that I’ve tried lately. They just seem to produce everyday wear patterns that, whilst at first not seeming overly exciting in themselves, are by simple virtue of the facts that a) you’ll want to live in them b) they’re drafted really well and c) the instructions generally seem foolproof. Ask a fool who knows 😉

And let’s talk about how much pattern you get for your money! The Halifax pattern comes with five quite different looks. Five! From your traditional zip up hoodie, round necked, funnel necked and zipperless versions with a single kangaroo pocket to twisted side seams and the option of a high low hem. Oh and I really like how well their PDF’s come together. I can tell you now, me and this pattern are going to be rockin’ it for some time to come!

I’ve made two versions of View D so far which is the zipperless funnel neck, single kangaroo pocket job; one with a drawstring neck and one without. I’d be happy wearing these every single day. My first make was in this fab Lippy Lips French Terry fabric, (listed as a ‘designer overstock’) ever so generously gifted to me by the lovely Mark from Girl Charlee UK (I have a discount code for you for 10% off with them, just enter ‘SEWSARAH’ at checkout ;-)) (And, can I ask, does it remind anyone else of the infamous image from the Rocky Horror Show!?) It is quite insanely soft and smooth with some drape making it a little more slouchy than my second. For that reason I didn’t add a drawstring to the funnel neck, preferring to leave it to sit as more of a cowl. Although it will certainly stand up a bit:

My second version, complete with gold drawstring, is made in the ‘Twinkle’ navy from the ‘Night’ range of Atelier Brunette French Terry. If you want to take a closer look at that version you can head on over to the Minerva Crafts website HERE to read my post on their Blogger Network (you may need to check back in; it’s due to be in stock again soon; I think Minerva may well have just got their hands on what is potentially the last of what stock might ever be available so my advice would be to not hang about if you want some too!) I’ve just back-ordered more of it in the grey colourway to make a third but really want the pink too!

And can you guess from the pic below the thing I wish I’d done differently? Yup, sew the buttonholes for the drawstring cord using gold thread. I even have some for goodness sake! Or that I’d used gold eyelets. I told you it was a teeny weeny thing but clearly I like berating myself!

Anyway, carrying on with construction. Considering what fabric you’re going to use; ideally if you’ve got a fabric with a crossways stretch of around 30% you won’t need to factor in extra ease – so you can use fabric with less stretch than this, you’ll simply want to consider sizing up as the pattern is designed with only minimal ease across the chest (1.4” in the size I made). Both of mine are in French Terry but they differ in feel as I say, with The Lips being drapier than the Atelier Brunette.

The Halifax is sized for a height of around 5.5” to 5.8” and I’m 5.2”. However I didn’t drastically alter the paper pattern pieces lengthwise for my first make, simply because with View D, you’d only lengthen, or in my case shorten, the pattern pieces from the hem or cuff lines. I knew this was something better determined by trying the garment on during the construction process. I didn’t take anything out of the shoulder width either as I’m likely to wear it as a layering piece.

The only thing I did to the pattern pieces before cutting into my fabric was to trace and double the pieces intended to be cut on the fold so I could cut on the single instead. The funnel neck piece in particular, which you would otherwise have to cut on the double fold. I’m not into that kind of pattern Tetris so I cut my funnel neck piece out four times and stuck them together to make one whole. Note also that the pattern pieces are to be laid in relation to the direction of the greatest stretch in your fabric.

There is also a pattern piece so you can make your drawstring out of your fashion fabric. As mentioned, I opted to use a ready made cord instead with my Atelier Brunette version because who wouldn’t want a matching gold one when you can have one!? The pattern piece is 45”; I used a metre of cord.

Oh and I notched the CF and CB marks of my Bodice and pocket piece.

The whole thing came together so quickly! And that’s even taking into account length changes I made whilst constructing and the fact that I tend to sew up everything on my sewing machine, only using the overlocker to finish the seams. I sewed mine pretty much in one sitting.

The instructions recommend you use what I think of as a ‘drunken straight stitch’, i.e a lengthened zigzag (2.5mm x 0.5mm) – imagine a straight stitch staggering its way home zig zag style from the Pub, if you will! I used, in sober fashion, a straight stretch stitch. I just feel it’s more robust.

Being a titch, I ended up taking out 2” from the sleeve and an inch from the bodice pieces on my first one and a further inch from the bodice on the second. I love the slightly longer length of the first, Lippy Lips one, as it provides enough coverage to throw on atop a pair of leggings (my new Avery Leggings from Helen’s Closet, naturally!) The Twinkle one, being that bit more ‘dressy’ (as far as a hoodie style top can ever be considered dressy!) I like paired with either my skinny or baggy boyfriend style jeans.

Time to wax lyrical; I love this pattern to the very core of my being! No exaggeration. Shout out to the lovely Heather of Heather & The Pugs for igniting my love for it with her own fabulous versions!

I’ve definitely reached something of a Pass lately; really embracing what I know to be my core ‘style’ (I’m using that word very lightly, obviously!) It’s time to face facts, I feel more comfortable and therefore more confident, dressed down. I think, style wise at least, most days its fair to say I identify more as ‘Awkward Teenage Boy’ than I will ever do as, say, the ‘Middle Aged Woman’ I purportedly am!

So there you have it! If you’ve been considering getting the pattern but haven’t yet, I strongly recommend you stop dithering and get on with it, haha!

Until next time, sewing peeps

You can find me on Instagram here

Pattern Testing the Avery Leggings by Helen’s Closet

Leggings sewing patternHi all! You’ll have, in all likelihood, seen that Helen of Helen’s Closet has just released the brand new Avery leggings pattern? (And yes, these are the leggings I hinted at in my #2018MakeNine plans post!) They have a smoothing doubled waistband, a gusset for mobility and no side seam meaning this pattern would make a great base layer, yoga pants or your everyday leggings. I love pattern testing for Helen (see my Suki Kimono here); her ethos and work methodology rocks – she really does want to produce Patterns for everyday essentials drafted so they’re accessible for all both in terms of sizing and sewing skill set. Plus the other sewists in her pattern testing team are fabulous…I’m guaranteed to learn something from their collective wisdom and feedback in the testing process. So, yes! Spoiler alert : the Avery leggings are awesome! PLUS there is 20% off during launch week!

Line drawings Avery leggings Helen’s closet

View A is your classic look legging whilst View B has a high waist and extra long leg so they can be pulled over the heel. I wanted mine to be yoga pants (so I could re-join the ‘Yoga with Adriene’ brigade!)

I opted for View A. These were a timely make; when I cut my first (navy) pair I sized up. I was testing these straight after my Christmas binge eating marathon (that started in November, haha) and then recently cut my usual size in the neon coral. You ain’t going to miss me wearing those bad boys out and about! There are only four pattern pieces and one of those is the gusset, making the PDF really quick to print out and assemble. Depending on your size and the width of your fabric, they potentially only require 1m of fabric too!

Helen’s Closet PatternI had nothing in my, admittedly minimal, fabric stash that was suitable. This pattern requires a jersey with 70% stretch in both directions. I found myself scouring online stores for four way stretch jersey using keywords like ‘performance jersey’, ‘athletic’ or ‘activewear’ knits like Dryflex and Supplex to narrow down the results. I considered buying from the range at FunkiFabrics but in the end, as the service was speedier, I bought both my ‘sports jersey’ from Fabric Godmother (it was my first time ordering from them and I was super impressed with the service). It has a whopping 100% crosswise stretch and 80% lengthwise, is absolutely perfect for yoga/exercise pants and is described as a “breathable super stretchy poly/spandex fabric with a soft matt finish” (read: slight sheen). If you can’t find jersey in your stash with the 70% stretch requirement, you could possibly consider sizing up and lengthening your pattern pieces to achieve the right fit?

Sew Sarah smithBecause you’re working with a highly stretchy fabric, the pattern is designed with a fair amount of negative ease which makes them really easy to fit. I cut mine based on my waist measurement; even though I’m a size smaller in the hip, I figured the negative ease would prevent any potential baggy bum scenarios! I took nothing from the length, figuring I could determine this later.

They sew up in no time. I used a straight stretch stitch on mine as I find a zig zag just doesn’t cut it for me – I always sew a test seam on a piece of scrap fabric first and then try to pull it apart. I don’t want to see either thread or teeny holes appear in the stressed seam. A stretch stitch is a complete pain to unpick though so, if necessary to check for fit, I baste the seam first and then sew up. I did use the recommended tricot zig zag stitch though for the first time to decorate / finish the waistband and ankle seams. As well as being an incredibly functional stitch, I really like the way it looks.

The waistband is finished with half-inch elastic sewn in between the waistband and the waistband facing. Some of the other testers omitted the elastic and instead lined the facing piece with powermesh. Either way, these form fitting leggings have your assets covered and are staying up! Do check out Anya’s blog Anna.Zoe.net as I think she intends to show this method soon plus how to add a pocket to the waistband too.

I love the overall fit, there’s no dodgy areas of cling (you know what I’m talking about!) plus the gusset not only massively improves your potential range of movement (these leggings are more flexible than I am, haha), they also avoid that nasty inseam intersection thus reducing bulk and any potential for chafing.

Helen’s closetI need/want some more everyday wear pairs in a day-to-day jersey. In earthy colours. (If you know of just the fabric with the required stretch that remains opaque when stressed, could you point me in the right direction please and save me hours of cyber searching guesswork!?!) Plus I can’t wait to start sewing up my Halifax Hoodies to pair with these. Comfort City here I come!

  • You can find the pattern HERE
  • You can find the fabric I used HERE and HERE

Until next time, when I’ll be back with either my newly finished Deer & Doe ‘Melilot’ shirt or that Hey June ‘Halifax Hoodie’.

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