A place where a wee Scot can talk about the stuff she bores other folk with. Sewing, The Beatles, cats, and zumba may feature...

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

A week of firsts: Sew Scottish meet-up and a Grainline Linden

Pic courtesy of Lesley. Top, L-R: Ellie, Lesley, Caroline, Liz, Helen, Judith. Bottom L-R: me, Emma, Franca, Jens, Elaine, Carol
It's been just over a week since the Sew Scottish meet-up and not only was it a fun friendly day, but I found my first experience of a meet-up to be really informative and inspiring and have continued to feel the creative aftershocks long after the day itself! More on that later, but first a re-cap of our wee day out. (and scroll WAY down for my first ever Grainline Linden sweatshirt!)

Here's a list of the attendees, and there were many more who couldn't make it on the day who I certainly hope to meet at the next meet-up. In the meantime, please check out the blogs or instagram feeds for those pictured above:
Ellie of An Original by Ellie
Lesley of Sew Sleep Deprived who as co-organiser has written her own excellent account of the meet-up here (great pics too!)
Caroline of La Robe A Caro
Liz of Mrs Whiskerson Knits
Helen of Grosgrain Green
Judith who is on Instagram here
Emma of Sew Do It Emma
Franca of Oranges And Apples
Jens of Hummingbird Sews
Elaine of Elaine O'Connor
Carol who is on Instagram here

Only two of us travelled on the train from Glasgow, myself and the lovely Carol, who had on probably my most favourite garment of the day, a Talvikki sweater from Named Patterns. Actually, it wasn't just me who was impressed, she got lots of compliments and rightly so! (check out the Talvikki on her Instagram feed here)

Carol and I had a right good chinwag on the journey east, and even did a bit of sneaky early-bird fabric and pattern swapping....oops! :) We then picked up Helen and Jens as we left Waverley and thankfully Helen, being a local, took us straight to the cafe where the rest of the gals were waiting. Our motley crew numbered an even Durty Dozen once Elaine (the only girl who I'd met before) joined us at our next stop which was the National Museum of Scotland. Unless I am blocking out a memory, I don't think I've ever actually been here! The shame! Our target was the permanent fashion gallery. To be honest, I was enjoying yakking to so many fellow sewers so much that I didn't properly take in the exhibition, though did get a few snaps. I'll just have to go back for another visit sometime. The weird thing is that whenever I visit Edinburgh I feel like I'm in some foreign city abroad. I have absolutely no idea where I am at any given point (unless I'm on the Royal Mile) or how to get anywhere. Thank feck for Google Maps then!
This 1980 Jean Muir matte jersey dress caught my eye. Love the perspex belt buckle detail.

Picture courtesy of National Museums of Scotland website
A special thrill for me to see an Andre Courrèges dress right in front of me!
Caroline gives scale to this supersized pannier court dress from the mid 1700s

We had soon museumed ourselves oot and empty tums were needing attention, so Emma called the restaurant she had very kindly booked and we managed to get our reservation brought forward. Along with Emma, Lesley had co-organised the meet-up (and I believe the visit to the museum was suggested by Helen). The Edinburgh gals did such an excellent job (thank you once again ladies!), I hope the Weegies can do the same back for the next one.
Caroline shows Elaine some of the details of her model designs

Introducing Petite-Moi, Caroline's 1/4 scale dummy

My fantastic haul from the swap - I was so restrained as I could have got a lot more!

I don't know if Emma planned it this way, but we had the whole of the sunken part of the restaurant to ourselves which turned out to be perfect for two reasons: one, we were unable to bore anyone within a 5 yard vicinity with our constant stream of sewing chitter chatter; and two, we had surrounding spare tables and seats to lay out all the fabric and patterns that people had brought to swap. It's always interesting to see what is one woman's trash versus another's treasure. We had all been so generous with our patterns that we dropped about a dozen or so, which were unclaimed, into the charity shop after lunch. There wasn't as much fabric left, so you can tell where our priorities lie then! I came home with 5 fabrics and 5 patterns, and felt like christmas had come early. In fact, I had so overindulged that I didn't buy anything at our final stop of the day, Edinburgh Fabrics. It was funny to see the local gals go straight to their favourite sections, while us fabric tourists took in every inch of the ram-packed shop, moving slowly (as tourists are want to do) and causing bottlenecks while we paused in front of every bolt.

People then dispersed and started to make their way home. It was just me on the train back to Glasgow, but it gave me a chance to digest all I'd learnt over the course of the day. Little did I suspect that I'd still be thinking about it all for the next week!

Lesson one: feel the fear and do it anyway
A conversation I had with Ellie was very enlightening. She made a coat within the first handful of garments she ever made. She had no idea she was supposed to be scared of attempting it, so therefore she wasn't. I loved this attitude, and resolved to make a start on my project of replicating this Boden coat using Simplicity 1197.
The Boden Bridget coat in a fabulous emerald green boucle

Lesson two: sometimes life is just too short to trace
I don't think this was borne out of any specific conversation, but my overall increased confidence and energy post the meet-up resulted in me doing a very rare thing (perhaps even for the first time) of cutting straight into a pattern (it was Simplicity 1197). I don't even cut into PDFs, so this was a real change for me (I can now reveal it's not been a permanent change though - yes, I am back to tracing again!).

Lesson three: if you can see it, you can sew it (part one)
During our lunchtime chatter I specifically asked the question about ideas or tips for displaying project plans, and Lesley said she had seen people using bulldog clips to hang up patterns and swatches. I loved this, and though I ultimately want to put a pegboard up to do it, I've made quite a nice stop gap by using adhesive plastic hooks (12 for a pound from the pound shop) , some trouser hangers (also from the pound shop), and some pastel coloured clips from ebay. I've been able to hang up some blue string lights that I got from Primark earlier this year. Only thing is, I thought I had placed the hooks high enough to be out of the reach of naughty cats...apparently I am just a stupid human who thinks she can outsmart cats. Like I said, stupid human.
It doesn't look like much yet...but a vast improvement on the blank white wall it's been for 12 months
Pepsi chooses her favourite from my newly arrived Fabworks samples

Lesson four: if you can see it, you can sew it (part two)
A fascinating lady in particular is Caroline, with the most wonderful french accent, a fellow one-time Canadian resident, and god-like creator of Petite-Moi, a quarter scale model on which she perfects her garment-making. I unfortunately couldn't quite hear everything she was saying about Petite-Moi during lunch, but she brought along a mini sized portfolio, complete with drawings and pattern designs, and of course Petite Moi made an appearance in the flesh! Caroline studied with a fashion designer who lives in her town, and she suggested that maybe we can have a day trip there sometime and a visit with the designer/now teacher. We will hold you to that Caroline! After having met Petite Moi and subsequently seeing some of the croquis that Emma and Ellie have posted on their Instagram pages, I used this idea to mock up a mini Linden....which brings me finally on to the Linden!
A very rudimentary attempt at a fabric sample croquis - but enough to see that the combinations would work

Lesson five: come on in, the water's lovely
Wherein, after stubbornly refusing to succumb to the lure of the Grainline Linden pattern for the longest time, I take advantage of a Black Friday discount and purchase it, and today, finished my first version.
The Linden Sweatshirt from Grainline Studio

I had been wanting to make some raglan tops for ages, and did hum and haw about buying the Grainline pattern, having also considered the Hey June Raglan or Simplicity 1317 (which I saw on the wonderful Saturday Night Stitch's blog). But I knew I had a pattern for a raglan somewhere in my current collection, and true enough found this vintage Kwik Sew 1230. I made a toile of it over a month ago but wasn't happy with the look (the piece for the neckband was so short that I had to completely stretch the ribbing to the full when sewing up, which resulted in it springing back once sewn and just looks like it is too small, though doesn't feel it; the sleeves and the area round the ochsters were awfy roomy too. In general I just didn't like the cut of this 80s pattern), and knowing the Linden is much more of a modern fit....Reader, I jumped on board the Linden love train. I've seen so many wonderful versions out in the instagram and blogging wilderness, and then Jens sported a fab quilted one at the meetup, so edge duly tipped over!
Vintage Kwik Sew 1230 from 1983 - Olivia Newton John, eat yer heart out love!
Toile of Kwik Sew 1230. Sleeves are too long and baggy and I made a real kack-handed job of the V-Insert, as I simply could not fathom the instructions or work out how to do it. The fabric is from Canada and poly waffle knit.

Not only had I swithered about buying the Linden, but I have also spent weeks, which have become months, thinking about possible fabric combos (and of course, some of those combos necessitated more fabric purchases...of course they did!). I've recently noticed many makes posted on Instagram using fabric from the Fabworks shop, which amongst other fabric types, have a great selection of knits. Up till now, when fabric shopping, I've really confined myself to £5 and under per metre, but I bent my rule for this mustard looped back (aka french terry) sweatshirt (which is organic too, but I find that I don't really care about that) purely because I haven't seen mustard anywhere else. At £7 a metre, this was a luxury buy as I don't pop my cork for just any fabric, and certainly not from an unknown (to me) shop. I also ordered some samples of other colours, for future colour blocking plans. Postage at first seemed steep at £5 (I'm used to paying much less on ebay), but was guaranteed next day delivery and is a flat cost, no matter the weight of the package (which sweatshirting is bound to make on the heavy side). It didn't arrive the next day, but no matter, it came the day after that.

The mustard is less bright than I had initially hoped for, but it's more than fine (and is sadly sold out now!). The quality is very impressive however. I did not have a smooth ride with sewing up the Linden but everytime I touched the mustard fabric, it was so comforting and soft and giving, it seemed to be telling me that everything was going to be okay. If this fabric was a John Lennon song, it would be Hold On from the Plastic Ono Band album (in fact, I've been singing this song in my head all day).

Things got off to a good start. I had done lots of research and noticed that many people say they could have chosen a smaller size, after having sewn up the Linden according to their size on the pattern booklet. With measurements of 36" full bust/32" waist/42" hips, I chose a size 6 and graded out to a 12 at the hips. I also placed my pattern pieces from my Kwik Sew on top of my Linden pieces to check that the bodice and hips would fit, and that the sleeves on the Linden size 6 wouldn't be too tight (I also used the sleeve pattern piece from my Pattydoo Ella top, to check length).
I chose a size 6, graded to 12 at the hips, and sewed up View A with self neckband and hemband, and no cuffs

There aren't much in the way of instructions in the Linden pattern booklet. For example, I wish it had recommended stay-stitching the neckline (after all, the pattern isn't only for stable knits, it recommends jersey too). This is part of the Tilly and the Buttons Coco instructions, and I have used it on other knit projects, but of course because I didn't see it mentioned in the Linden instructions, I omitted to do this on what turned out be the most stretchy of french terry fabrics that must exist on this planet! I bought a wonderful bicycle print french terry from one of my favourite ebay sellers, The Textile Centre, for a bargain £4 a metre earlier this year. The description on the listing is quite interesting :
Mid-weight jersey with a vintage bike print suitable for work out wear and pyjamas.

 This fabric is relatively new and huge on the continent,It is not your usual track suit or hoodie material,

Very soft to the touch with a slight crepe feel on the back, 

I don't see the crepe comparison in real life - it is a looped back sweatshirt fabric to me, but then what do I know! It's very very stretchy, with not a lot of body, and I knew all this, and knew I could have stay-stitched but I bloody didn't.

The sleeves and bodice went together really quickly (which is the good thing about a raglan sleeve, so much easier to sew up) and I cut a size 12 in the hem band (from the mustard fabric, as I didn't have any ribbing - what is it with the price and availability of ribbing by the way??) and attached it to the bodice. However, there is not much stretch in the mustard sweatshirting and try as I might to stretch it to its full capacity while sewing the hem band on, I still came up short when I got to the end (the bodice side seam). I rectified this by sewing a new side seam, bringing in the seam allowance by a few cms; not enough to affect the fit across my hips, and at least the hem band then made it all the way round.

Having spent a total of 6 hours non-stop (commencing with printing out the PDF pages) I was tired and hungry;  two things which are anathema to me and sewing! So I hung up Miss Linden on my mannequin so I could look at the pretty, all the while making a Pretty Woman style huge mistake.

Check that stretched oot neckline, arrrrghhh!

Getting up the next day the neckline looked even wider than the night before, and when I tried it on it was giving me (unintended) Flashdance realness. I had seen someone comment on their version of the Linden with the very same issue, and now I really got the fear (you know when you think a make is completely fecked beyond redemption?).  I knew the neckband pattern piece wouldn't have a hope in hell of reaching all the way round my gigantic stretched out neckline, so I measured the circumference to see what I was dealing with. 72cm didn't seem good. I also didn't like the narrowness of the neckband pattern piece, and having seen it on numerous other people's Linden's I had already decided I wanted it thicker (I do think a narrower neckband looks proportionate on jersey versions of the Linden, but it never seems to look wide enough on sweatshirt versions - but that's just my personal preference). I used my Kwik Sew neckband pattern piece for the width and drew a 36cm by 7cm rectangle on my pattern paper (another new thing I've tried this week is using Baking paper instead of my usual Burda tracing paper) and cut this out on the fold. Because I had had to stretch my hemband out as much as possible to accommodate the real width of the bodice, it has resulted in a wee bit of a blouson effect, so I tried to avoid the neck looking gathered by not stretching the neckband at all, but just sewing it straight on. Of course, this came out looking disastrous. Cue one very lame looking, sticky-up-sitting neckline. As you can see from the pic below, I was not amused.
From Flashdance to Star Trek realness!

I unpicked it and decided to then try stretching the neckband this time (as the pattern instructions do direct you to do, to be fair), but not to its full capacity, just about halfway to its capacity, and took off about an inch and a half of the neckband where it met at the back. This time when I tried the garment back on, I was much more pleased with the result. The neckline is still a lot wider than I want - I suffer from drafty neck syndrome and felt it keenly when test driving my new sweatshirt out in the minus 1 afternoon weather today, even with a scarf on. It also doesn't sit well under a coat. It gapes terribly at the front, and I had to pull the back of my sweatshirt down, while putting on my coat just to get the front looking nice and flat across my clavicles. However.....I have a Linden (at last), the fit is overall fairly good on first try, and I love my final choice of fabric combo. I wonder how less wide the neckline would be if I were to use a stable fabric for the whole garment, or use proper ribbing for the neckline, or whether I might just re-draw the neckline (at least for winter versions, I think the looser neck will be quite nice for spring and summer styles). Oh, and although I've seen lots of people comment on the extraneous length of the sleeves, mine are just perfect on me (which leads me to think I must be part orangutan in the arms department as I am a 5'2" shortarse!). I didn't want a cuff, after all was said and done, so I just turned up the sleeve ends by 2cm, and twin needle stitched at 1.5cm. I haven't stitched round the neckline to anchor the seam allowance down as I prefer the look without the extra stitching line. I used my sewing machine throughout (still need to sort out my serger issue).
Neckline still pretty wide but I'm definitely pleased with the general finished product

I think I didn't cut my left sleeve on the grain, which may (or may not?) explain the pulling here
Will mostly be wearing my hair down when I have my sweatshirt on, so the wide neckline won't really be so evident

I put the popularity of the Linden down to the likeability and versatility factors of a raglan sleeved knit top. People can really get creative with fabric types, and combos for the neckbands, hembands, cuffs, and sleeves. The Grainline Studio brand is all about wearable basics, and while I am okay with having this pattern in my collection, I don't think I'll be shelling out for any more from them (although I do already have the Archer shirt).

Talvikki from Named Patterns

Geodesic pullover from Blueprints for Sewing
I am excited to try the Sew House Seven Toaster Sweaters both versions 1 and 2 and the Talvikki at some point, and recently came across what I think is a fantastic and original design for a sweatshirt: the Blueprints For Sewing Geodesic pullover. It seems to not have made much of a dent in the sewing world yet (from what I can see) but I hope it does, because it's at least trying to do something different! (I'm also quite fond of anything Geodesic, due to this famous one in Paul McCartney's garden).
From the legendary Mad Day Out photo session which ended at Paul's house in Cavendish Ave

I think that's quite enough for one blog post! I don't expect anyone to still be reading by now! My coatmaking project, while still high on my list, will be taking a deserved back seat to some christmas gift projects...and time is already running out on those. Have a wonderful and festive time everyone!

Friday, 11 November 2016

Feeling rusty: Sew Over It Heather dress

Not this kind of Heather.

It's been a long time since I did ye olde blogging, so hopefully I'll remember how it goes! This is my first blog post in over a year and two things have played a part in me getting back to it. One, the inspiration and motivation from sewing vlogs, and two, an upcoming clan gathering of the scottish sewing bloggers. Without an active blog, though very kindly invited and included, I felt a bit of a phoney. So a Bishop-Brennan-sized kick up the arse duly self-administered! Should be a great wee day out later this month in Edinburgh. There is a #sewscottish hashtag on instagram for anyone wanting to know more!
Image from SewDoItEmma's Instagram - thank you Emma!

As for being an avid viewer of sewing vlogs, the original and best (for me) is Lisa Comfort at Sew Over It. In fact, it's kind of funny now how many imitations her particular vlog style has spawned, but it's the sincerest form of flattery isn't it? If you don't watch her channel already, she posts pretty much weekly, and each week's video will cover one of the following: sewing plans for the month with a fabric haul; review of her own, or another brand of, sewing pattern;  sewing tutorials; and a review of her makes for the month. Lisa also occasionally films one off-specials such as a peek into her handbag, a review of her own handmade wardrobe, vintage hair and make-up tips, and insights into and behind the scenes of her business (which I find fascinating). She's knowledgeable, a great communicator and educator, and really easy and fun to watch.
Nor this kind of Heather, sorry queens!

Although in my eyes Lisa is the creme de la creme (nope I cannot write that without picturing Maggie Smith in full Jean Brodie mode!), I really enjoy lots of other vlogs too. A few others that I will not miss are Clueless Seamstress and Stitch My Style (who also have their own blogs but I discovered them through their vlogs first). I do subscribe to lots of others but dip in and out of them. I recently discovered That Style Though and am really looking forward to seeing more of this lady's videos as she hasn't uploaded very many yet.

If you have any recommendations for more, please let me know! Especially if you are a vlogger yourself. I really appreciate the time and effort people make to create and share their videos, and am always on the look out for new and inspiring sewers to watch. One thing we need more of though, is scottish representation, so come on lads and lassies!

Anyway......back to the matter in hand. I've sewn about half a dozen garments since getting my sew-jo back in June but my most recent make is the brand new pattern from Sew Over It, the Heather jersey dress. This isn't a sponsored post honest!, but her vlog genuinely has cheered me up during some rotten times the past year, and I love her personal take on vintage style which is something that I find aspirational, as well as inspirational. I've also lost 2.5 stone since January this year so I've been exploring a bit more in what I wear...and the Heather is a bit of a departure for me to say the least! I've pretty much lived in jeggings this year. I wear them to work, rest, and play. And now that it's getting bloody freezing out, I've taken a notion to bare my legs again, eejit that I am, albeit in thick coloured tights.
My finished Sew Over It Heather dress

So the Heather dress was released a few weeks ago, and is a PDF pattern only. Since I started learning to sew a few years ago, I've rarely bought a pattern on release (I did actually buy the Sew Over It Susie blouse earlier this year, and sewed it up too, will definitely return to that pattern), but the idea of a comfy long sleeved jersey dress and the design of the front deep pockets just clicked with me.
Copy shop version

As my printer cartridges are running low, I looked into where and how much it would cost to get the PDF printed at 'a copy shop'. I've only had a sewing pattern printed once before at a copy shop but that was in Canada and it was cheap enough to do it there. Here it seems a bit dearer, although I plumped for Staples because it was most convenient and fastest, but not necessarily cheapest. It was £4 a page and because the Heather is a long-sleeved dress it takes two A0 pages to print. So aye, it did cost me £8 in the end, which added to the £7 cost of the pattern has ended up costing more than a traditional Sew Over It printed pattern would. However, the Heather isn't available as a printed pattern right now, so it cost what it cost. I am looking into other printing websites which charge as little as 75p per printed page, but they also charge a minimum of £5 per order. If I use another printer I'll try to send a few PDF sewing patterns to be printed to make it worth it (anyone who already uses an online plan printer, please let me know of any recommendations!). I'll maybe just use end up using Staples again though as it was really speedy and easy to go collect. 

Now, I actually trace all my patterns...so the only thing I saved myself from having to do was tape up the A4 pattern pages. I know i'm a daftie but I'm a conservationist. I just cannot bring myself to cut into sewing patterns...in any format!
Hair up so you can see the width of the neckline
It took me a whole day (9.30am to 6.30pm) to go from tracing to having just the neckband to attach, and skirt and sleeves to hem. Those last parts took another 3 hours the next day. I am a really really slow worker. I'm also very pernickety when I'm laying and cutting out fabric and this can take me hours to do. I hate wastage and place my pattern pieces as judiciously as possible. To this end, I have worked out that I managed to get my Heather out of a one metre piece of 150cm wide ponte. Which even doesn't seem right to me, but I do have 2m left and I am sure I bought 3m of it. I very rarely buy more than that of any fabric. But getting Heather out of a metre doesn't seem possible, so I may have had more of this ponte, who knows! I do know that it was a purchase from the Argyle Street Remnant Kings during a sale last winter. It's a medium weight, very comfy and not that horrible poly feel that some pontes can have. Feels and looks good quality overall. I paid no more than £5 a metre (though it might have been less, I simply can't remember now). It's a lovely autumnal rust colour (not red as it looks in the pics).
I'm 5'2" and turned up the dress edge by 6cm and then hemmed at 2cm
It's an education seeing yourself from the back. Size of the arse on me, thank god I have a terrible memory!

I cut a size 12 in entirety. My current measurements are full bust 36/waist 32/hips 42.  The dress is designed to be fitted on the boobs (fine with me), the waist wasn't going to be a problem due to the design at that part of the dress, and the hips I knew were going to sit right on me but it's stretchy and I was okay with that. My only worry was that the size 12 at the hips would be too clingy over my tummy. As it is, I can get away with it standing up and in tights. My back fat is visible, and I've got some fabric pooling at my lower back, nothing that's going to keep me awake at night. I would definitely cut a size 12 again with my measurements but that's cos I'm okay with it being fitted. Others with similar body type and stats to mine might prefer it looser and more skimming and could grade out to the size 14 at the hips.

Standing straight so you can see sleeve and dress length

I'm 5'2'' and was going to keep the skirt length as was but decided in the end to turn the skirt up by 6cm, sewing a hem allowance of 2cm. I had to turn up the sleeves, as cut, by 6cm and hemmed at 1.5cm, so next time will shorten the sleeve length at cutting out stage. I've just remembered that the arms were too tight on me with the 1.5cm seam allowance so I sewed the sleeves with a 7mm seam allowance.
Tapered in 3cm from the 1.5cm seam allowance at each side

The only other adjustment I made was that I tapered the skirt in. This was just because I felt it looked better on me, than hanging straight down from my hips. So after having sewn the seam allowance at 1.5cm as per the original pattern, I marked 3cm in from the seam allowance at my new skirt hem length, and using my french curve I drew a new sewing line up to where the pocket met the dress side seam. 

I found the instructions fine to follow (I'm not the best at interpreting sewing instructions) and I followed all the directions apart from overlocking/zig-zagging the seam allowances, this is because in the back of my mind it was going to be a toile, but mainly because I'm a LAZY BASTARD. I do have an overlocker (second-hand and no instruction booklet) but the past few times I've tried to use it the thread continually breaks. I've tried everything and just can't be bothered to get to the bottom of the problem on the past few garments I've sewn. I will tackle it some day though!
One for my beatle peeps :)

I didn't twin-needle stitch below the neckband as instructed, because I didn't want the appearance that gives, so I hand tacked the neckband seam allowance down to each vertical seam (thanks to the dress design there are several). If this isn't enough to keep the neckband behaving, then I'll cave and sew it down as per the directions. I did use my twin-needle on the sleeves and skirt hem though. 
Pepsi getting in on the act

That's all there is to say, I've blethered on far too long as it is! I've a few other garments from the past wee while that I'd like to retrospectively blog just for posterity. My current obsession is the idea of making my own coat. I have a few patterns in mind and I have fabric on order, and found some crazy yellow fabric in the remnant bin at Remnant Kings which I'll use for a toile. I'll be motivated to at least give this project a go as I currently don't have a winter coat and it's so bloody baltic noo...necessity is the mother of invention!