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

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Toaster Sweater 1: fitting review

Before I sew anything (still considering myself a beginner to dressmaking) I research a pattern extensively.  This goes on for days (actually more like weeks and months) before I take the plunge and cut. I am looking for two things: fabric choices (including type of fabric and use of colour/prints/textures) and fitting reviews. Neither are entirely necessary: it's just how I like to warm up for the main event.
The Toaster Sweater 1 from Sew House Seven

For my first try of the Toaster Sweater 1 (following on from having started, but not finished, Toaster Sweater 2 a fortnight ago), I was still undecided on whether to use a more flimsy, drapey sweatshirt or jersey, or a more sturdy one (and had even been contemplating a foray into scuba, which I've never used before - I have a strange relationship with it, whenever I see it online I make heart eyes but whenever I get the chance to actually touch and feel it in a shop I recoil in horror). 
I was veering towards sturdy because I really wanted to have the look of the neck band standing up, rather than being floppy (just personal preference). I have a couple of French terry and fleece sweatshirt fabrics in my stash, and yesterday I bit the bullet and plumped for this sapphire blue fleece-backed sweatshirt (now sold out) which I purchased from Fabworks in December as part of my xmas gift-making project. I had intended to use it for a sweatshirt for my dad but in the end I only used it for sleeves for the Seamwork Paxson I made him (because I was trying to be a clever clogs and make a contrasting body/sleeve/cuff combo). Having seen how beautfiul my Toaster has turned out, I wish I had used the entire fabric for dad's. Sorry dad!).

As for fitting, I had seen pics online where the arms were fairly long and reviews reflecting same, and also that people had different preferences for the bodice length. Preparing for this, I took my Linden (which I hate the neckline on...but will be adjusting that soon since reading A Closetful of Posies's solution of adding 2cm on all the pattern pieces which fit to make the neck) and used that as a block to compare to the Toaster 1.
I've put on 8-9lbs (arrrrghhh! - I did go back to Slimming World yesterday though, so...) over December and January so my current measurements are: bust 37/waist 33/hips 42.5.  Going by the pattern measurements guide that would put me as Large and grading out to XL at waist and hips. I eventually cut a Medium and graded out to between L and XL at the hips/waistband...and I cut a Medium in the sleeve, graded to an XS! (what a thrill to cut anything in an XS, lemmetellya folks).

I have a pathological fear/hatred of making anything which is super baggy on my shoulders and boobs, as it just makes me look even bulkier than I already feel (#issues).  It's also cos patterns tend to grade everything up as it moves from the smallest size to the largest. For example on the Toaster 1, the Bottom Band increases depth the more sizes it goes up. Why oh why??? Why would someone cutting the XXL band need it to be deeper than someone cutting the XS one, if both people are the same height and therefore the same proportion of the band suits them both. Maybe if you are tall you might want a deeper band to suit the proportions of your body, but unless anyone can explain to me why the hemband needs to increase its depth for someone who is 5 feet and 16 stone versus someone who is 5 feet and 8 stone, then my rage abides. I cut my Bottom Band with a length of between L and XL and a depth of a Medium.
I was most surprised at the width of the sleeves and even though by placing my Linden sleeve pattern piece it was showing me in black and white that the XS sleeve would fit me okay, I was terrified that I was suffering from delusions (Extra Small, me? Really?). However, in the end, the sleeve fit me perfectly, just as the Linden does (I cut a size 6 in the Linden sleeves). Again this adjustment is a personal choice, as I just don't like the look of an overly baggy sleeve. I also shortened the sleeve, and got it almost perfect, but had to sew a seam allowance of 1" when joining the cuff to the sleeve to give me the length that I really wanted. (incidentally I sewed up the rest of the garment with a seam allowance of 4/8", contrary to the pattern's instructions which allow for 5/8").

It took me 5 hours of working on the paper pieces alone yesterday but having been heartened by all those comments I've seen online ('quick make...only takes an hour to sew') I was all geed up to finish the actual sewing in time for Let It Shine. In the end I only caught the last half hour of The Voice. (#firstworldproblems) It took me just over 2 hours to sew this. Am I getting faster the more garments I make? It doesn't feel like it! I am getting more and more fussy about fitting adjustments so am still taking 1-2 days to complete any item. I'd love to be able to crank out a new dress of an evening, or a t-shirt top in the space of Corrie advert breaks but i'm not there yet. Still hoping though!

I love my finished Toaster though, everything is just how I want it. No more drafty necks or wrists, and because I still see myself as looking like a Michelin Man in it because it's made from a thick sweatshirt fleece, I will probably only wear it in the house...but it means I can probably save on heating bills as it's so nice and toasty (hahaha the penny has only just dropped as to why it's called the Toaster! God, I'm slow). There is a very slight blouson effect between the bodice and bottom band...must have been my drafting adjustment. There's not much room to wear anything else under it as this baby is snug! But that's also what I wanted.

Oh and I was too feart to attempt the top-stitching, mostly because I was trying to sew it within an hour, but also because I only have two choices of stitch on my machine (straight and zig-zag) and I wasn't sure how twin-needled zig-zag would look (I was so aware of the time, I didn't even want to change needles to try!). I'm still putting off trying to sort the thread-breaking issue on my serger, so I again just used my sewing machine for this garment. There were some really bulky parts (the cuff joining and hemband joining) which I had anticipated would finish both sewer and machine off, but we made it!
Please ignore the bulk at the cuff - I've yet to trim out the excess

As many people have noted, the bottom band is cut as one continuous length, and depending on the width of your fabric this will be just about selvedge to selvedge. This didn't present a problem for me but what I don't like is that one side of the sweatshirt has a seam running from underarm to bottom of hemband but the other side of my bod has a seam running from underarm and stopping at the waist before the start of the hemband. There's a lack of symmetry that is niggling away at me and I don't like the finished look of it. So next time I'll just draft the hemband as two halves and join them together (constructed the way the Linden is).

I love my sticky-up neckband, if I were to use a french terry I think it'd interface it so I got the same erectness (insert your own snigger here). All in all, a successful make, very functional, and I'm making another one soon (as a gift). Don't know if I would make another for myself....there's other sweatshirt patterns I want to try (Paprika Pattern's Jasper - which I've had since it came out, Blue Print Pattern's Geodesic and Pattydoo's Freestyle Nelly hoodie) and how many sweatshirts do I need!
Paprika Patterns Jasper

Blueprints Geodesic

Pattydoo Freestyle Nelly hoodie/

In other news: December and January round-up

Here's a quick round-up of what I've made in the past few months but didn't get round to blogging:

This was the first christmas that I have attempted to make all my gifts. I took some basic measurements but no-one knew what they were getting so that it would be a surprise. Read on for the deets (pics ain't great as I snapped what I could during all the festive hilarity):
Must have spent an hour trying out all variations of print placement...just to avoid any anatomical faux pas!
Quite pleased with the binding on the neckline. Yasss mama!
Gag on her eleganza, hunties!
McCall's M6886 (view D with full length sleeves) for mum: ponte from the Textile Centre (still available to buy). Cut size 10 all round and sewed on sewing machine. Fit was perfect, and my mum loves it. How amazing does she look!

Seamwork Paxson

Seamwork Paxson for dad: sapphire blue sweatshirt fleece for sleeves, cloque quilted jersey (from the Textile Centre) for body, and navy ribbing from stash for cuffs, neck, and waistband. Cut size L all round. Fit is a tad too small over tum (although the pic below is immediately post huge chrimbo dinner!).
Started off using the Pattydoo Tom, but I fecked up on grading it and the neckline turned out Linden-esque (which would not have suited my dad). I took the whole sweatshirt apart and was able to salvage most of it, only having to cut new sleeves (the old sleeves have now become my Toaster sleeves though...zero waste for the win).

Tried to get a good pic to convey the strange backing of the cloque fabric, maybe all cloque is like this?

The cloque fabric was much thinner than the fleece sweatshirt, and had this horrible scratchy backing on it, so to equalise out the weight of the bodice and sleeves, I lined the bodice with a super soft poly jersey type knit (got it in Value Village in Canada so have no idea what fabric type it actually is, oh how I miss Value Village!).

Want to make a full set of these jammies eventually, lots of new (to me) techniques in this pattern
Check oot the matching tartan rows
Butterick B6296 for sister with gorgeous brushed cotton from Fabworks (now sold out). I had received a sample of it in a previous order as it was Fabric of the Week, and had been struck by the lovely colour combo but I was totally convinced after seeing Amanda at I Sew A Lot's jammy bottoms made from it, ever grateful for the inspiration!

This pattern has yoke and separate cuffs at ankles but I joined the pattern pieces together to make the leg pattern pieces as one continuous piece. This item was a great success...not so much the next one for my brother-in-law which I made as a set of matching bottoms from the same fabric as for my sis (the colours are just unisex enough I think).

I had a male jammies pattern in my stash but as it's vintage it was only in one size. Going by the basic measurements I took of my brother-in-law, I thought the fit might be just about okay. It also included a fly front and this was my first time doing this and using poppers and making any kind of trousers.

The fly is a bit funky and one popper is concealed, while the other is not. Not my best work!

See the trouser leg piece! Front and back all in one pattern piece.

The leg pattern piece doesn't have a front and back but instead is one piece, this means that there is no seam on the outer leg,  only on the inner, and the seam is sewn from the bottom of the inner ankle all the way round the Cape of Good Hope and down again to the other ankle.  I had a bit of jiggery pokery with the fly front and I used some vintage poppers from another Value Village bargain buy. In the end, my brother-in-law, although very touched at getting a handmade item for chrimbo, said he would have been happy with the same jammy bottoms I made for my sis! I had a great debate about fly fronts on jogging and jammy bottoms with my female friends at work...and I wish I had just omitted the fly as it seems that men are not bothered about that anymore. I'm so out of touch!

I was really pleased with the matching on both sets of jammy bottoms though, within themselves and standing next to each other, not a line out of sync. That was purely and utterly beginners luck though as I hadn't paid that much attention to print placement when cutting.
My first Hemlock tee

I was sewing right up till 11pm on christmas eve to get all the pressies finished (even though I had had two weeks of hols within the month leading up to christmas...Woman, procrastination is thy name). I was working all the way through the festive holiday period but did spend new year's day sewing and made my first Hemlock. What is oversized and slouchy for most others, is not so for me. In fact it's a perfect fit and I love it for that. The Hemlock, as most folk know is a free pattern from Grainline Studio, and is one-sized. I made this with a drapey viscose jersey, 2m of which I had got for a fiver in a Remnant Kings sale last year. I've been wearing my top to work several times a week, and want to make lots more viscose jersey versions as it's so easy and comfortable to wear for me.

Never mind the Cavern, this is my new favourite haunt in Liddy!
The first weekend of January I was in Liverpool for my friend's annual birthday trip to a favourite city of us both. Abakhan was having their Fill A Bag sale but I was due to arrive 2 hours before it finished. I did get to the shop with an hour to go but I was up to high-doh and it was so busy that I didn't buy anything in the Fill A Bag section (you could get a bag for a fiver or a tenner) and instead spent 30 quid downstairs in the remnants section (which is my favourite bit anyway).  I got mostly woven viscose for spring and summer, some jersey, and I stocked up on power mesh and ribbing as they were mega cheap.

Even if the pic doesn't show it, the dye had run all over it!
My best buy was this stripey viscose jersey, and I was heartbroken when after washing it the dye had run! And eejit that I am, I hadn't noticed it till it had already been sitting on the radiator for two days, so as far as I knew it was well and truly heat set by that point. After some research online I found this product (and it had better reviews than other stain cleaning products) and hunted it down (only Morrisons sell it local to me).

It didn't do the job....however, I had read (and the box instructions said same) that sometimes it took a second application. This time it did work and I am truly amazed to see no trace of the dye left! I can definitely recommend this to anyone who comes up against a similar situation, boxes are 2 quid and you get two sachets inside (both are used in a single application).

When I was in Liverpool I also found this brilliant product in Home Bargains (while looking for the cheap booze section), for only 3 quid. I've no need for it right now, but think it's a great investment when similar branded products (eg Prym and Hemline) are as much as 5 times the price! Worth finding your nearest Home Bargains shop for!

In the past two weeks, I've made toiles of the Toaster 2 and the Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee, both unfinished as I'm not happy enough with how they have turned out. I over-zealously adjusted the neckline of the Mandy and can now barely get it over my head. This is another free pattern and one-size only. It's extreme bagginess is not going to work for my personal taste, but I did like the pattern's construction of the boat neckline so might try to adjust the Hemlock instead. The Toaster 2 I made in a lovely plummy purple ponte but I was too vain to cut a larger size so it's a little tight across the back to the point where the mock turtle neck is strangling me! As I've lost a few pounds since I made it, it's getting a bit looser and less strangly. But I also wonder if the armscye is too high for me as it feels very tight there. I like the idea of this top though, so hope to work on the fit a bit more.

What a boring, long blog post. 98% for my own benefit anyway. I'm overdue on making my mum's birthday present, and also some cushion covers for a friend, so those projects are next on my list, though I would like to squeeze in some Hemlocks for much needed work-wear. I've a weekend in Brighton coming up and looking forward to exploring/dragging my big cousin round sewing establishments there....I may even be able to squeeze in some time in London and am swithering about going to Goldhawk Road....and buying the inevitable hold baggage allowance I'll need for the flight home!

That's all for now!