Long-term readers may well have noticed that I took something of a break from sewing / blogging over the summer (welcome to all of you that continued to sign up over summer, thank you!) There was no onerous reason for taking a break, other than I wanted to dedicate my summer wholly to my family. And it was glorious! I also learnt how to knit socks and finally found the time to write a book of family recipes for the kids. That said, whilst I wasn’t actively sewing, I was planning upcoming makes like crazy…creating a spreadsheet and a Look Book and stocking up on fabric and supplies. It also gave me a good opportunity to really consider how I want to take this blog forward since it’s grown beyond anything I imagined at the start. (I’ll talk about that more in a minute!)
So, once the kids went back to school, my sewing space got a dust off and sewing began again in earnest! I’ve been pattern testing this last week but thought I’d come back to the blog with my first makes.
As always, my new season sewing has begun with the basics; this for me means loungewear / sleepwear. If I don’t have to leave the house, I don’t get dressed; it’s that simple! What I wanted then was sleepwear I’d be happy to lounge around the house in (and by ‘lounge around the house’ what I really mean is running after the kids and doing seemingly never ending housework!) And I don’t know about you, but I always find after taking a sewing break that I want to come back to something that I know wont be too taxing to sew but will produce something I’ll get lots of wear out of. PJs is always the answer!
I decided on the Linden Sweatshirt / Hudson Pants combo which I’ve seen so many great versions of on my Instagram feed.I’ve sewn the Linden a few times (see here) but the Hudsons, though long in my stash, were a ‘new-to-me’ pattern.
If you’ve read my last post, you will have seen that I was fortunate enough to be a pattern tester for the brand new pattern release from Helen’s Closet; the Suki Kimono.
Well, I couldn’t very well make the robe of my dreams and then pair it with my battered ol’ slippers could I?! So I tossed them out in the trash and made my own Matchy Matchy pair using the Prym Espadrilles kit sent to me for review by Minerva Crafts. You can read my review and demo of how I made these slip on’s using the same floaty lightweight viscose fabric I made the robe in over on Minerva’s Blog now. Clue: they’re the easiest things ever!!
Put it this way, I feel like a kid playing dress-up in this – not a bad way to start the day! I’ll be making a pair to match every robe I make!
The making of this Kimono started and ended with a happy dance. When I received the email from Helen asking if I wanted to pattern test Suki, I literally jumped up and down for a whole five minutes with glee. Fortuitously, the email came through on a Friday evening, so I was able to celebrate by cracking open the wine! Y’see, not only did I already know I love Helen’s drafting (see her Blackwood cardi I made here and her Winslow culottes I made here); I’d also been coveting a kimono for a while.
I’d seen a few Kimono-type patterns popping up across social media recently which certainly got the idea of sewing one up germinating in my little mind – but none of them ticked all the boxes for me; mostly as they were designed as outerwear pieces. As someone who practically lives in PJ’s/loungewear, I knew I wanted a long-length robe with full on Kimono sleeves, cuff and neck bands, long (preferably anchored) waist ties and, ofcourse, pockets. The Suki has all of these plus theaddition of an inner tie to keep things nicely secure and the added little touch of a hanging loop.
It comes in two lengths, long like mine or a shorter length, perfect for a poolside Kimono! It has a reasonably close fit at the shoulders and upper back, a flattering but relaxed fit at the waist and flares out more at the hip. Perfect loungewear! You can see why the email from Helen just felt so serendipitous – it was everything I’d been looking for!
And I’d got the perfect fabric for it! Three metres of this floaty vibrant red floral viscose challis; it seemed to be begging to be made into a ‘Kimono’! I did contemplate doing the bands and ties in a contrasting solid black but decided against it; though I’m sure to try that on another version.
The pattern itself is aimed at ‘Adventurous Beginners’, however Helen has cleverly thrown in a couple of optional touches to raise it to ‘Intermediate’ should you wish. I’d say, if you want to keep it simple, lengthen the front band (especially if you’re not using a contrasting fabric) and keep your inner front and sleeve band seams exposed. I did the short version of the front bands even though I wasn’t using a contrast, as part of the testing process, and then topstitched my band seams – I wanted that topstitching detail. You have plenty of wiggle room in determining where your inner and outer ties go so they sit at your natural waist. In fact the only alteration I made was to take out a couple of inches from the overall length of the robe – it’s drafted for a woman of 5.6″. I love how it turned out!
I quickly realised that I’d sewn the robe of my dreams … which looked absolutely and totally ridiculous paired with the tatty old slippers I generally shuffle around in! No, that simply wouldn’t do! And talk about serendipity again; Minerva Crafts had offered me the Prym Espadrilles kits to test so, an hour and a bit later, I’d got the perfect pair of matching slip-ons! Now I can look put-together even when I’ve just got up in search of that first cup of coffee. At that time of day I can still barely open the one eye and with my hair sticking out at various forty-five degree angles, I definitely don’t look too much like a screen siren but, believe me, wearing this robe makes me feel like one and that’s half the battle…right!?
So a huge thank you to Helen for inviting me to join her pattern tester group – it has been such a fun experience and has certainly given me a full appreciation of the dedication and meticulous level of detailing that goes in to producing such a great pattern. I ‘knew’ a few other members of the tester group already but, happily, I’ve also now discovered some previously unknown to me (I’d clearly been living under a rock!) Do check out either Helen’s launch blog post, if you haven’t already, to get your discounted copy of the pattern and/or check out her Tester roundup blog post to see and be inspired by all the other amazing tester versions!
I’ve made two pairs of Lakeside PJ’s recently; my first pair in cotton lawn and my second slightly redrafted pair in an unbelievably soft chambray for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network. Head over there to read my post for them – I go into more detail about the process of binding these PJs in that post, including how to use my beloved binder foot – here I focus on the fit 😉
This pretty Bird & Floral cotton poplin had been laying dormant in my stash for a while; I’d initially bought it to make a SOI Shirtdress an age ago but then decided against the pairing. It’s a wonderfully soft fabric and not prone to creasing too much so I really wanted to use it. I’m not that brave with wearing vivid prints but I figured I could handle it in sleep/loungewear! I then decided to pair it with some hot cerise binding; go me!
With the top, the one thing I really wanted to get right was the fit of the neckline so that when I leaned forward there would absolutely be no chance of gaping there or at the underarm as I’d mostly be wearing it bra-less. (I am wearing a crap fitting strapless bra in these photos because, y’know, *t’internet*) So I decided to try my first ever Full Bust Adjustment and … I’m so glad I did! I sized down and then proceeded to redraft the pattern piece by slashing and spreading following the FBA instructions in the Fit For Real People book to add fabric just where I needed it most. It ended up being such a simple adjustment to make that I wonder why I’ve not attempted one before! I’m fed up sizing things for the boobs and then having gaping at the neckline and other issues. I’ve made a promise to myself that doing an FBA is going to become a standard fit alteration from now on in.
Once that adjustment was done and the pieces cut out, the top is an incredibly quick sew, especially when using a binding foot*. I really love it and quite frankly the top could easily be worn out of the house paired with jeans! In fact I’ve got some black crepe stashed; I’m thinking of shortening the bodice, using velvet binding and making a ‘going out’ top with it; that cheeky little back rise is perfect!
I didn’t use my binder foot on the shorts, primarily because of the construction process. And actually sewing the binding on manually was fine. I deviated slightly from the instructions at Step 13 and did my own thing as I didn’t want two rows of stitching down the side seam; I merely crossed over and bar tacked like this: (*again, I go into more of the binding detail in this post).
I tried the shorts on before adding the waistband and…they were way too big! I took them in at CF and CB and reduced the waistband pieces accordingly before stitching them on. The fit is really comfy now but I dare say they’re still too wide at the side seams. I went down two sizes for the second pair and you can see the difference. This is probably entirely my fault for cutting out too big a size to start with!
All in all I love this PJ set; it’s so cute! I’ve got enough of this fabric left that I’m contemplating making up another pair of Carolyn Pajamas pants to go with the top. Or maybe that would be overkill? I always fear that if I wear print head to toe, I’d end up looking like a rolled up carpet…d’ya know what I mean?!
All in all though, the Chambray pair are my fave. What do you think?
Until next time (tomorrow in fact, when I’ll be sharing the full details of a new Instagram Sewing Challenge I’ve been teasing about on Instagram – I hope you’ll want to be part of it too!!)
I’ve sewn two pairs of Carolyn PJ’s to date with a third pair in my sewing queue. I think it’s fair to say my love for this pattern has been well documented both here on my blog and over in my Instagram feed! A few of you have commented that you’re keen to sew them up too but are perhaps a little daunted at the prospect of constructing the notched collar/lapel. I know I certainly was at the start!
Closet Case Files Carolyn Pajamas Collar Lapel sewalong
So I took photos of the main steps in the process of sewing the collar and lapel when I made my second set, which I thought I’d share here in case anybody else would find it useful. And, let’s be honest, as an aide-memoire to myself in case my ageing/befuddled brain forgets everything by the time I get around to the third pair! Seriously! Certainly it’s not meant as a substitute for the pattern instructions or the really useful post on the Closet Case Files blog, which are both really excellent. I guess I’m hoping this just aides what you will find there; I’m a very visual person so the more photos or diagrams from different perspectives that I can study when approaching a new technique, then all the better! If you’re the same, then this is for you! :-)) These do not cover piping I hasten to add…just the basic construction of sewing the collar and lapels to the body of the shirt.
Enough waffling, let’s sew already!
1. You’ve already part constructed the collar. Now comes the part where you join the bottom collar to the shirt. Take care to match notches and circles. Just take it slowly, stop occasionally with your needle down, lift your presser foot and adjust your fabric as you sew so your seam is nice and neat.
2. At the centre back neckline, you want to make sure that your top collar slightly overlaps your just-sewn seam so it’s completely hidden. Topstitch.
3. Pin and baste each side shirt neckline/top-collar seams.
4. Once you’ve finished the raw outside (straighter) edge of your lapel facings as directed in the pattern instructions, pin lapels to shirt fronts, right sides together, being ultra careful to ensure you are again matching circles. Pin and sew from the bottom. You will need to curve your lapel when you reach the top to join your previously basted side neckline/collar seams. Make sure you STOP sewing when you reach the shoulder seam.
5. Notch and grade seams and turn right side out. When you press make sure your seam lines are pressed away from the visual front to the underside. Remember, on your lapel, this changes at the point where the first button will go. use your button guide pattern piece to determine where this is.
6. The pattern instructions state you can either wrap and hand sew the remaining lapel ‘flap’ under the shoulder seam or stitch in the ditch from the outside. I saved myself some hassle and hand sewed it. It’s also worth noting that when you sew your shoulder seams earlier on in the construction process, the pattern instructions don’t mention finishing the seam. By all means finish it, just don’t trim or serge any of!
Tada!!!! All done!!! You will enclose the lapel facings and topstitch around the entire edge of the lapels and collar at the very end (if you’ve got an edgestitch or stitch in the ditch foot, all the better!) There’s nothing else fiddly or head-scratchy with this pattern, honest!