Monday, 29 September 2014

A By Hand London Polly top

After fighting with the fitting of a pair of trousers (more on that another day) I decided it was time to make up something quick so I could retain my sewing enthusiasm! For me that means nothing overly fitted, no facings or fussy stuff, no slippery fabrics (that's a lot of "no" things).

Enter the By Hand Polly top. Whilst I have made some Colette Sorbetto tops I was not so sure about the panel in the Polly top but there are some wonderful makes out there so I decided to go for it.
The fabric is left over from my make of the Anna dress. I presume its some kind of polyester and it is a little crisp but it matches the texture of the Liberty Lawn panel (which I bought for my mother who decided later on she did not want on her shirt). 

There is not too much to say about the make - it was a really easy sew. I always struggle with what finishing to use for armholes and  necklines as I really really dislike the look and flappiness of facings.
However after making the Alder shirtdress which uses bias binding that is folded back on the inside and top stitched down I think I have found a new favourite method! Thanks to Jen from Grainline yet again. I do like being able to use contrast binding to keep interesting details on the inside.

While I am at it, there is something that bothers me about PDF patterns and I think I have a love hate relationship with them. I love that they are instant and downloadable, but I feel like I am wasting what feels like a lot of paper for a small pattern. I mean, check out all the paper for 1 top ...Having said that all the bits off the edge go into my compost so its not all bad. Can't win them all I guess....and its not stopping me from downloading any PDF only ones! In fact, since I am impatient and never home for parcels to arrive PDF patterns are a bit of a godsend. 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Jewellery Roll project

I made this awhile back sometime last year when I first bought my sewing machine. It was a simple yet effective project that taught me the basics of zips etc. (needless to say dressmaking is significantly more challenging...) and used up spare fat quarters from John Lewis that I bought on a whim without realising at the time what a fat quarter was actually for. It was probably the only time I pinned and measured super carefully since I was so new to sewing at the time and I think it was worth the effort.

Best of all, its functional! I like it a lot for when we used to do a lot of travelling. Sadly, we have not been anywhere much this year given we bought a house and adopted 2 dogs but it is a more than satisfactory substitute for being on the road exploring places all the time (though I still do love doing that).

Back to the sewing, I cannot remember where the pattern is from but thank you to whoever came up with it!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Last of summer in the garden

I love roses, especially the David Austins. My piano teacher in Australia used to have a wonderful garden and she loved particularly these roses. When I went to the Chelsea Flower show for the first time after moving here I was completely amazed by the display. Of course then the first thing I had to do to the garden was to buy roses. I did not exactly plan the timing of starting the garden particularly well since August is the end of the season, but lucky for me the local nursery had 2 standards - a Harlow Carr and a Sophy's Rose. The ultimate plan is to plant a few more standards along the fence line, but they are now out of stock until at least the end of the year.

The Harlow Carr (twin roses picture) smells and looks divine and makes me happy everyday I look outside. Also super pleased that I found Anna's Gardens to come and dig the flower bed, remove the existing topsoil and refill with compost / new topsoil - makes my gardening life so much more enjoyable! Highly recommend.

Next up - buying bulbs for autumn and winter flowering! 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Archer button-down shirt from Grainline patterns

Its been a long blogging break, but since I have been trawling through other people's sewing blogs which are super helpful in terms of looking at patterns that have come to life, I am restarting my blog to document my own adventures!

I made a shirt this weekend, the first completed project for awhile. I have not bought a pattern in forever, having been working from my own blocks. However, I just don't have time to self drafting patterns all the time, there are talented people out there who are passionate about patterns, and there have been phenomenally good reviews of the Grainline Archer shirt pattern. Bit late to be jumping on the bandwagon but hey! Despite the time required to tape 46 pages of pdf printout, I am inclined to agree this is a fabulous pattern. I made one up for TT to bring back with him to deliver to my mother, and I am so pleased with the way it turned out. 

The fabric is my mother's choice though admittedly it is from my stash. I actually had planned on making a full Archer shirt with the checked fabric (I still might since I love love love this pattern) but mum got there first in there first and wanted it for the contrast trim.

Fabric: Red Chambray from Croft Mill
Contrast trim: Paul Smith Pigeon Force, also from Croft Mill here

In hindsight it was not the greatest mix and match from a textural perspective and the loosely woven Paul Smith fabric was difficult to work with compared to the tightly woven chambray. Should have thought of that before I started .... in any case, there are many imperfections and there was much time spent trying to align the checks (even worse given it had to be cut on the bias). And never again will I be doing a project without an overlocker unless its silk or sheer! Its high on my to-buy list!

I did make some adjustments - I like my cuffs and button bands soft, so skipped the interfacing. Also reduced the sleeve length since the pattern is way too long for my arms (and my mum's). The below is a size 14 at the top but I graded it down to 12 for the hips. 

Completing this was a mega achievement for me given the unexpected challenges, all my own fault for making it difficult for myself. But here's hoping mother will wear it and send me a photo!