Thursday, 15 November 2018

A Year of Stash Busting, PLUS: Dutch Label Shop Discount Code

It’s been over a year now since I begun to really definitely actually start busting my fabric stash. I wrote about my plans back in March of this year to sew up one piece of fabric or reusable garment each week, but I'd actually started the previous October. Are you interested in finding out how I’ve got on?! Well, I'm pleased to announce that, yes, I HAVE managed to keep up with this challenge! Some pieces became time-consuming projects, others became swift and satisfying makes, like these four pairs of leggings for my daughter that illustrate this post. All of these leggings/jeggings were made using the free leggings sewing pattern by Petit Boo that I reviewed here by the way, and have all these pairs been worn many times since they were completed.

Truth be told, not all of those 52 pieces of fabric or garments came straight from my stash. My stash is big, but not so big that it contains a piece of every type of fabric I might like to sew with! So I have been purchasing new pieces of fabric here and there, but only with a specific project in mind, and very often for a specific pattern that's in my possession. This accommodation has worked well, because I have been turning lots of my languishing pieces of stash into useful garments, but I haven't felt frustrated because I wasn't confined to only using stash pieces this past year.

Using one piece of fabric or reusable garment per week may sound a lot to some, and you may be concerned that I have been sewing for the sake of it, or that a lot of this output ended up not getting worn. Thankfully, I've kept a list over the last year of everything I've used and what it became so I can address these concerns. Out of the 52 pieces used, only seven were a FAIL (and subsequently were given to a friend, sent to the textile recycling bin, or put back in the stash to reuse the fabric), the rest of the garments I've made have seen a good amount of use. Obviously I have reached for the pieces of stash that I've felt most inspired to use when the right project came to mind, so things may get trickier the deeper into my stash I rummage. But not allowing myself to buy fabric on spec means that I have given each purchase or acquisition of new fabric a great deal of thought, which has reduced FAILS considerably.

Truth be told, there's still a lot of fabric and reusable garments in my stash, but visibly less than this time last year. My sewing time may dwindle a bit in the future as a number of different activities and projects I'm involved in are going to start taking up more of my free time. However, for the foreseeable future, I'm going to continue with my one-piece-per-week challenge, and see how much more I whittle down my stash by creating fabulous and useful garments.

Stash busting update over: on to the discount code! Recently, the Dutch Label Shop generously offered me some store credit for their website to order myself some woven garment labels in exchange for a mention on my social media. Coincidentally, getting some new labels for my family's clothing was on my mind at the time, having just stitched tons of onto my daughter's uniform as she started school this September. The labels I had been using for my daughter's clothes were ordered through Etsy and are very cute. However, I've found that the printed design fades extensively when laundered, so I was musing on acquiring some woven labels to use instead. 

I spent an AGE playing about on the Dutch Label Shop website, designing and redesigning with their pleasingly user-friendly label designing function. Even sticking to the 'Basic' woven label option like I did, you can choose different sizes of labels, different colours for the background and text, different fonts and from hundreds of little logos. I particularly like how clearly you can see how much the different combos of elements will cost you for different quantities before you continue with the ordering process. I managed to make my store credit extend to four different sets of labels. Ta dah!!!!

Cute, non?! I LOVE them, and they make the garments I stitch them into look extra professional (see the My Little Pony leggings above). If you would like to design and order your own garment labels, you can get 15% using the code sozoblog15 (all lowercase) when prompted during the ordering process. This code will be valid for 60 days so you've got a couple of months to go and design yourself some adorable labels, starting from........NOW! Happy label designing!

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Heyday Dungarees of my Dreams

This exact outfit is all I'm interested in wearing at the moment. It's my mumiform, and the rest of my wardrobe may as well go on holiday. You've seen my stripy Gable top many times before, so let me introduce you to the new element.

(image source: Beaton Linen)

So it went down like this... Frankie and I are regulars at a playgroup that is also attended by this cool mama called Seonid (pronounced Shona). She made me aware of the overalls by Beaton Linen (pictured above and below) via Instagram after seeing me rock my Burnside bibs, thinking I'd appreciate them. She wasn't wrong, and I couldn't stop thinking about them. 

(image source: Beaton Linen)


Shortly after discovering the Beaton Linen overalls, I received an email from the Made by Jack's Mum pattern company announcing the release of their new women's 'Heyday' dungarees pattern. They were even offering a 20% discount for the first week or so after it dropped. Despite the discount and their obvs similarity to my inspiration source, I hesitated for a couple of days. I feared that they'd make me look a bit too ceramics-evening-class-tutor. As I have discussed before, my style seems to be travelling towards Art Teacher chic, and I was concerned that this garment would seal that fate. But, ultimately, the pull of linen dungers was too strong and the purchase was made. 

The sizing range of this pattern is very generous, running from XXS to 5XL. The size chart put me as a Small which I wasn't entirely convinced about, so I added an additional 1cm to the side seams in case I wanted to adjust the fit (I wasn't making a toile). The seam allowance of this pattern is 1cm, which I enjoy sewing with, but wouldn't have left me enough wiggle room to take them out. I did end up giving myself slightly more room by letting them out at the side seams around the hip/bum area. 

Aside from adjusting the fit slightly for my booty, the only deviation I made from the pattern was to draft new front hip pockets. The pattern includes two pocket pattern pieces; one larger pocket for the bib, and four smaller pockets (two for the bum, two for the front hip). I wanted a slightly different look at the front, so I used the hip pocket piece I drafted for my black denim Cleo pinafore, but folded the bottom corner in to reflect the shape of the other pockets on the dungarees. Unlike with my Cleo, this time I remembered to apply some twill tape to the pocket opening so I can shove my hands in these ones as often as I like without fear that they'll stretch out. 


I fell in love with this linen twill from Fabric Godmother after sewing with and wearing it as my York pinafore. The weight, feel, movement and even how it fades slightly made it my number one choice this dungarees project, and I don't regret a thing.


As I already said at the top of this post, I adore these dungarees. After the minor tweaking, I think the fit is bang on, and they are so comfortable that I don't even want to change out of them into some 'lounge wear' for relaxing in the evening, which I normally always do. I even think that I prefer them to the Beaton Linen ones, which look a bit too short and wide towards the bottom of the legs for my liking. Which is handy, because those Beaton ones are $270 a pop. I definitely plan to make another pair in a cotton/linen mix next spring.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Free Pattern Friday: Handkerchiefs and on Sewing to Reduce Plastic

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I normally road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes a women's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those of you who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

However, I'm going on a bit of a tangent with this month's instalment, so apologies if you swung by for a regular review of a free pattern (I flatter myself!). Today I want to write about sewing from a slightly different angle. With all the awesome new sewing patterns, beautiful fabric, labour-saving equipment and eye-wateringly expensive machinery available for sewers/sewists to buy, it's easy to buy into (sorry for the pun) the idea that sewing is like many other activities: a pass-time that will cost you a fair amount of money to participate in. But as skilled sewers, we are doing ourselves a disservice. We have forgotten, or perhaps more accurately, have allowed ourselves to be coaxed away from the belief that sewing is a superpower that can save money and resources, perhaps over time if not immediately. 

The point I'm trying to make is that the 'drop £15 on a lovely new sewing pattern, drop £20 on gorgeous fabric to make it in, sew it up then put it on Instagram' formula isn't the only way to engage in and utilise sewing. Don't get me wrong, as you can tell from this blog and from my own Instagram feed, I LOVE making a fabulous, well-fitting, wearable garment that helps me visually communicate to the world who I am and how I feel. But, increasingly, I am trying to make a conscious effort to do more of the type of sewing that the women from previous generations used to do: the mending, the reworking, the fulfilling needs in the home without necessarily spending money on new materials. 

What I'm interested in thinking about at the moment is ways we can use our sewing skills to provide for ourselves and our families, as well as to have 
a positive environmental impact. And as anyone who has been sewing for more than five minutes will have realised, it's impossible not to accumulate a lot of stuff (fabric, patterns, zips, buttons, threads, blah blah). We already have a lot to work with. I think we need to encourage ourselves to flex our creativity more often to do more than just follow the steps of a sewing pattern, and work out how to turn some of what we have accumulated into some of the things we need in our daily lives (other than clothing). 

So how can we use our sewing skills to save money and resources? SO MANY WAYS. We have serious powers. We can mend ripped seams, replace missing buttons, knock up a fancy dress costume from an old net curtain, make the fabric totes and produce bags that we now take to the supermarket instead of accepting plastic bags, and infinitely more. 

Speaking of plastic. We (hopefully) all know now that not all plastic is recyclable. And recently we've been reading reports that the majority of plastic we think we're sending to be recycled isn't actually recycled anyway. I read a horrendous statistic recently (sorry can't remember the source) that said that people have produced more plastic in the last decade than we did in the WHOLE OF THE 20TH CENTURY, AND that only 9% of all plastic ever produced has been recycled. So like many people, I've been looking at my own waste: the amount and types of things my family sends to landfill or to be 'recycled', plastic very much included. I'm focusing on a few products that my family consume and then send to landfill at a time, and am trying to find and/or make alternatives that are more sustainable.

All of which is a long-winded explanation and preamble to say that I've been making hankies. Yonks ago my husband and I got ourselves hooked on buying those multipacks of pocket tissues, with their layers upon layers of non-recyclable plastic. More recently I started buying boxes of tissues to have round the home to reduce the amount of plastic we were throwing away, but I felt that I could go one step better by making old-school, washable handkerchiefs. Now I'm hooked;, it's one of the quickest, cheapest and most satisfying sewing projects I've ever undertaken. It will not surprise you to learn that the process entails simply cutting and hemming a square of fabric, but whilst researching how big to cut my squares, I found this decent Wikihow tutorial if you feel you would like some guidance. 

The first batch I made was from some stripy cotton that lives in my stash and usually gets used for toiling/muslin-making. It has a similar weight and softness to bedsheets, and it's proven perfect for hankie making. The squares I cut were 30cm X 30cm, but I have found them to be slightly too small for an adult woman, so the next couple destined for my own use were 35cm-ish X 35cm-ish pre-hemming. I must admit, having been used to using tissues myself for so long, it took me a while to get used to blowing my nose on fabric, but I've started to find it somewhat luxurious (particularly when I've bothered to iron and fold them into nice squares!).

With my second batch (pictured above), I cast my net a little wider for candidates as I went through my fabric scraps tub. The anchor, spotty and strawberry fabrics are all slightly thicker than the stripy stuff. They aren't quite as nice to use, but are perfectly adequate and will probably soften through repeated laundering. I'd say the thickest weight fabric that is suitable for making handkerchiefs is a light quilting cotton type deal, and a soft bed sheet type affair is ideal. The strawberry fabric hankie is for my daughter, the smaller anchor and the spotty ones are for me, and I also made a couple of anchor hankies for my husband (40cm X 40cm). He has the worst sinuses of anyone I have ever met and gets through a shocking number of tissues per week. I'm hoping that I can convert him. 

Next I plan to try some scraps of cotton lawn. How lovely would a set of Liberty or Cobra corsage cotton lawn hankies be as a Christmas present? I think that would be super fancy. 

What about you? Are you a seasoned hankie-user? Or, like my best friend, can you just not get behind blowing your nose on fabric?! What have you made to replace a disposable/wasteful item you use in you're daily life?

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

My Favourite French Sewing Pattern Companies

(image source: Anna Rose Patterns)

Lately I've become obsessed with a lot of French sewing bloggers/Instagrammers and French-speaking sewing pattern companies. Obvs, all French-speaking sewers and pattern companies aren't one amorphous entity, and every sewer and sewing pattern company has their own unique blend of style elements and influences. But that said, I'd say that there are some styles, silhouettes, details, colours and fabrics which I've noticed regularly cropping up in the output of a number of French-speaking sewers and pattern companies, and these are MASSIVELY floating my stylistic boat at the moment.

I'm hoping to absorb some of these elements into my own sewing and wardrobe, and in this post I want to record my favourites from the French-speaking pattern companies I've had a chance to check out so far. If you are a fan of any others I haven't mentioned, please leave a comment so we can go and take a look.

(image source: Aime Comme Marie)

Aime Comme Marie

The Aime Comme Marie site seems to be a magazine and a lifestyle blog, as well as the producers of sewing and knitting patterns patterns for women, children, men and the home. Phew.

Paper or PDF?

I *think* some/most styles are available in both formats.

French only?

From what I can tell, yes. Apologies if I am incorrect.

My favourite:  

This company first drew grabbed my attention with their ruffle-sporting Magellan and Macaroni styles (the latter is pictured above). However, after further research, I now think the Malice dress pattern is the best of the bunch.

(image source: Anna Rose Patterns)

Anna Rose Patterns

This pattern company's style is exactly what I'm talking about: sweet, simple, timeless, wearable, subtly quirky, and loads of other adjectives that I can only hope will one day be applicable to my own style.

Paper or PDF?


French only?


My favourite:  

The Blouse Paule (pictured above) is an interesting, unique take on a casual knit top, but it's the Blouse Ortense that has really captured my heart (pictured at the top of this post).

(image source: Anne Kerdilès Couture)

Anne Kerdilès Couture

This collection of patterns neatly straddles the line between vintage/retro and modern in style. Impressive.

Paper or PDF?

Almost all the range is available in both formats, however there are a few that are PDF only.

French only?

Honestly, I don't know. However, the fact that it isn't mentioned, makes me think the patterns are probably French only. Probs worth emailing if French instructions are a deal breaker for you.

My favourite:  

The Bergen cardigan pattern looks a great layer for autumn/winter/spring, and jacket-alternative for summer. However, the stunning scalloped hem of the Cezembre blouse pattern (pictured above) is the one mostly likely to soak up some of my money.

(image source: Atelier Scammit)

Atelier Scammit

If you're into beautiful yet simple, A-line blouses with subtle details, then Atelier Scammit are may well become your favourite sewing pattern company. They do offer a few other styles of pattern, but that type of blouse is clearly their bread and butter.

Paper or PDF?


French only?


My favourite:  

I adore most of their patterns, but the Artesane (pictured above), which is so beautiful from the front AND the back, might just be my fave.

(image source: Atelier Vicolo N.6)

Atelier Vicolo N.6

Actually this company is Italian, but their site is in Italian, English AND French. Clever peops and cute designs.

Paper or PDF?


French only?

I'm assuming that the patterns themselves are in Italian, French and English, but please check before you buy as I can't see it written explicitly anywhere.

My favourite:  

I'm enjoying the Dharma dress pattern (pictured above) for its spin on the traditional fitted-bodice-and-gathered-skirt dress style, but it's the Jolanda blouse pattern that I'm closest to buying.

(image source: Deer and Doe)

Deer and Doe

Deer and Doe are probably the best known French-speaking pattern company in the UK (if not the wider English-speaking sewing community). They definitely seemed like the first indie French-speaking pattern company to get their patterns translated into English, and then stocked in UK craft shops.

Paper or PDF?

All are available in both formats.

French only?

No! Both French and English!

My favourite: 

I've owned the Chataigne shorts pattern for years, and I *will* get round to making next summer, however the new Opium coat pattern (pictured above) took my breath away when I saw it.

(image source: Delphine et Morissette)

Delphine et Morissette

This French-speaking pattern company/epic-one-woman-band is based in Belgium, not France. And thanks to the relentless prodding of my much-suffering husband (who has a decent grasp of French, especially when he's armed with a translation app!) into translating a lot of her blog posts, I've found out that she's really funny. But back to the patterns. Her shop and the patterns themselves are a bit more lo fi than many (for example, her instructions come in the form of a word document with no step-by-step images or illustrations). But the patterns are all (IMO) very wearable with beautiful proportions and clever details. (You can see my version of the La Trop Facile jacket here, and the La Brune blouse here and more successfully here.) Plus, some adorable children's versions of many of her women's patterns are also available.

Paper or PDF?

PDF all the way.

French only?


My favourite: 

I've had my eye on many, but I keep coming back to the Flamenco and Japon patterns (the latter is pictured above).

(image source: Ikatee)


Until recently, this sewing pattern company only produced children's styles. However, they have recently started to produce a selection of their patterns in women's sizes too. You should also know  that they very generously offer a free PDF sewing pattern of your choice from a small selection in exchange from signing up to their newsletter.

Paper or PDF?

Don't quote me on this, but all their children's patterns seem to be available in both paper and PDF, and the women's patterns only in PDF at this point in time.

French only?

No! Both! Woo hoo for me!

My favourite:  

As I mentioned above, some of their styles are being turned into women's versions which I am thrilled about because I am OBSESSED with their two most recent releases, the Ida and Louise, both of which are the fruits of a collaboration with an amazing sewer Fanny (@petites_choses__). I've also had a lot of fun so far sewing the Corfou dress and Avana trousers for my little girl. 

(image source: Mimoi)


This sweet little company offers a handful of patterns, but currently for me it's really all about the Blouse Leonie and it's expansion pack of wonderful style options. 

Paper or PDF?


French only?


My favourite: 

The Blouse Leonie (pictured above) the most perfect collar design in the world, and everyone else can go home. 

(image source: Republique du Chiffon)

Republique du Chiffon

RdC have got a massive range of interesting, edgy-but-very-wearable women's pattern styles. Plus, if you believe that twinning(with your child) is winning, you should know that seven of their styles are available for children.

Paper or PDF?


French only?

Nope. A few months after it's French release, each pattern is available translated into English.

My favourite:  

Ohmygoodness so many. Having made two garments using their popular Suzon blouse pattern, I still haven't got it out of my system. They also have some fabulous coat/jacket patterns (including the Jose), and some Danielle dungarees WILL be mine...

(image source: Slow Sunday Paris)

Slow Sunday Paris

From what I can tell, Slow Sunday Paris is only a couple of years old, but their whole vibe looks so lovely and they have a great range of patterns already.

Paper or PDF?

Both, but surprisingly most of them seem to be available in paper format only.

French only?

Despite the fact that some parts of their website is written in both French and English, it seems as though the patterns are French only. That said, from the PDF I've bought, the instructions look super clear with great illustrations for each step. So if you don't speak French but are armed with a translation app, you'll probably be fine.

My favourite:  

I just bought the Dorothie blouse pattern (pictured above) because A) I'm a sucker for a sweet little blouse pattern, and B) that sleeve. And if you haven't checked out the back of the Lila top pattern, then make sure you're sitting down because it's amazing.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Burnside Bibs: Serving Land Army Realness

I've got so much love for dungarees and pinafores these days, I can't even tell you. I bought this pattern back in May whilst I was making the most of the generous Me-Made-May'18 celebration discount codes after coveting almost every pair I'd seen on Instagram.They finally got made at the tail end of the summer after I'd finally managed to answer the all important question of what fabric to buy. 

(image source: Sew House Seven)


In case you haven't come across the Burnside bibs pattern by Sew House Seven, lemme talk you through. Both versions include fabulous, large, curved, front pockets and clever straps/ties that narrow from the shoulder to the back and can be tied in a number of ways. There are two different bib shapes: scooped and straight across. Both versions feature a gathered back waist detail (great for bypassing a lot of trouser-fitting headaches), but version #1 is a little more fitted, with back darts and a concealed side zip to help you get in and out. There are optional patch back pockets and two leg lengths. 

Initially, I preferred the straight across bib shape, but had changed my mind by the time I had to cut the pattern pieces out. I was always going to go for the more fitted back waist option, as I wanted to reduce the likelihood of the back area looking like a gathered-up bin bag as much as possible. I hoped the addition of back pockets would help with that too. 

There was something that I found a bit off-putting about the back belt loops as well. I think the way the straps run through them and they gather up makes me think of curtains or something, so I decided to perform a small pattern hack to eliminate them. I made a channel from a rectangular strip of fabric and stitched that to the area where the belt loops should have been applied instead, and I'm much happier with the resultant look. 


After two recent successful firsts (1, sewing with and wearing linen and 2, embracing this colour green), I felt emboldened to choose this olive green cotton/linen mix from Fabric Godmother, which I never would have chosen before those two projects. The linen content gives it a lovely flow, and the cotton content means it doesn't wrinkle half as badly as regular linen probably would. It's quite a loose weave, so I was afraid of it fraying, but I just handled it carefully and there wasn't an issue. Plus, after making my Lander shorts and wearing them extensively during the summer, I was really surprised by how well this colour fits with the very limited colour palette that the rest of my wardrobe adheres to. Until recently I had been freely calling this colour 'khaki', but this week I received some schooling that khaki is actually this colour, and my shorts and burnside bibs are more accurately described as 'olive', or  'army green' perhaps. You live and learn.


Truth be told, when I first put these bibs on after completion, I must admit to feeling disappointed. Even having chosen the 'fitted' option for the back waist, I feel that I haven't fully avoided the gathered-up bin bag look from the back. Also, the crotch depth is REALLY low. And this is coming from someone who needs to 'scoop out' the rise (i.e. lower the crotch point) of every trouser sewing pattern I'm ever going to encounter. And I think that the position of the back pockets is much too low, and that plus the unflattering gathering and low crotch are all combining to give me the appearance of a saggy bum. And lastly, although I'm now down with this colour, is this much of this colour in this style of garment just too Land Army re-enactment? Is 'Land Army reenactment' even a thing? (Fun fact: one of my nans worked in the Land Army during WW2.)

(image source: Women's Land Army Tribute)

On the other hand, I love the shape of the bib section and they are tremendously comfortable to wear, so wear them I most definitely will. I think that the angle that these pics have been taken at aren't showing them totally at their best, and when I wore them whilst helping out at the recent Fabric Godmother open day, I inspired two people to buy this pattern. 

Will I use this pattern again? I'm not sure. I'd be tempted to try again with a drastically raised crotch and some tweaking to reduce the fullness at the back. However, I *may* have accidentally just bought another dungaree pattern to play with in the meantime... 

If you have any ideas on how to approach reducing the fullness in the back whilst maintaining the balance between the front and back leg pieces, I'd be VERY grateful to read your thoughts. Thanks in advance...

Friday, 5 October 2018

Free Pattern Friday: Kids' Tank

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes a women's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those of you who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

I'm really excited to be highlighting this free pattern today because, if you've got kids between 18m and 6 years old, it could become your new favourite pattern, no matter what season you're currently heading towards. I can attest to this tank pattern being a fabulous addition to a kid's summer wardrobe, but I'm also expecting these tanks to do a turn as a useful under-layer during winter. The pattern is by Life Sew Savoury (AKA Nap Time Creations), a big thanks to Emily for sharing this for free. It's labelled 'Girls Free Tank Pattern', but I totally think it's a very unisex style, and I've made a couple for Frankie to prove it.

Pattern type:

I've always known this type of garment to be referred to as a 'vest', so I'm struggling to type 'tank' in this post, but whatever you call this simple, sleeveless, close-fitting garment made from knit fabric, you probably already know them as a wardrobe essential. With this pattern, you can start making them yourself, hoovering up a lot of your knit scraps in the process. Seam and hem allowances are included, and the neck and arm hole bindings are indicated as measurements.

Sizing info:

This pattern is graded for approximately 18 months to 6 years, but the blog post/instructions and the pieces themselves handily include chest measurements, so I'd recommend going by those rather than on age alone. Of course, the stretchiness of your fabric will always effect the fit of the final garment, and you may be aiming for a closer or looser fit anyhow. For reference, The green hearts and green floral tanks you see in this post are a size 4 (with the size 5 length), and Dolores was 4.5yo and average-to-slim build when these pics were taken. Based on the outcome of those garments, I decided to make the size 3 for Frankie for next summer when he'll be 2yo, as he's a slightly sturdier build.

Fabric info:

A 'thin t-shirt fabric' is recommended for the front and back pieces of this pattern, and I like that the designer also encourages us to upcycle unwanted t-shirts for this project. She doesn't specify a percentage of stretch, or if the t-shirt knit should contain elastane, so you may need to bare in mind the properties of your chosen fabric going in and consider your sizing choice accordingly, but otherwise I'd recommend experimenting with all those small bits of jersey you been holding on to. I've been using up all sorts of small pieces of knit I've had knocking around, from 100% cotton (the green hearts and pale grey flecked), to mysterious slinky stuff that probably includes elastane (the green floral), to cotton that DEFINITELY includes elastane (the pirate print) and even 100% cotton baby-rib knit (the caravan print, maroon and yellow). 

The neck and arm hole bindings/bands are designed to be made in rib, but if you use a different type of knit fabric for them, it is suggested that you add extra length if it's less stretchy than rib. Personally, I found that when I used a cotton jersey with sizeable elastane content for the bindings, I didn't need to add any extra length. 


With the binding/band pieces given as measurements rather than actual pattern pieces, this pattern requires a pleasingly small amount of printer paper and ink. I also enjoyed how the binding/band measurements AND the sizing/chest measurements are written on the actual pattern pieces as well as being included in the blog post/instructions, which is handy if, like me, you usually do the cutting and the actual making of sewing projects on different days. 

As I've mentioned, the instructions take the form of a blog post, which I really like for quick little projects with relatively few steps like this because I find it easier to refer to my phone than getting the laptop out.

Generally, I love this little pattern, which you might have guessed at by the number of versions I've made. But I've have found a few little niggles with it that I think are worth mentioning. Firstly, the front and back shoulder seams (at least on the sizes I've made) are of slightly different lengths and, therefore, don't quite match up. Secondly, the neck line on the back piece isn't at a right angle with the fold line at the centre back, so if you cut it exactly as the pattern piece suggests, the result will be a slight 'V' rather than a smooth curve. Thirdly, and this is a personal preference thing, I found the neck and arm hole binding measurements result in bands that are a bit narrow for my liking, especially on the smaller sizes. And lastly, because the hem kind of curves up at the side seams, I would suggest hemming the front and back pieces BEFORE stitching the side seams, rather than leaving that step to the end.

Customisation ideas:
  • Use contrast solid or patterned fabric for the bindings/bands
  • Use a solid knit for the front and bold, patterned knit for the back, or vice versa
  • Add a cute little breast pocket
  • Applique or fabric-paint a design on the front
  • Apply a layer of stretch lace over a solid knit on the front piece, or all over
  • Straighten and shorten the hem, then add a gathered rectangle of fabric to turn this tank into a summer dress
  • Skip the topstitching around the neck and arm holes for a cleaner look

Would I make it again?

What? Aside from the seven times I've already made it?! Yes. I would definitely make it again, and I intend to each year until both my children grow out of the size range. 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Swiss Dot Tova Top and a #2018makenine Wrap Up

So I didn't plan to make this top. My aim for this fabric, as per my #2018makenine plan, was to make it into the Sew Liberated Matcha top. However, during a brief pause before I went ahead and bought the Matcha pattern, I checked the fabric requirements and found I was substantially short for the sleeved version that I hoped to make.

Yet I really wanted to get this fine swiss dot cotton from Fabric Godmother (the black is currently out of stock but it is still available in navyredwhitepale blue and blush) out of my stash and into my wardrobe. So I reached for my trusted, well-used and thoroughly tweaked copy of the Wiksten Tova top/dress pattern. I have lost count of how many garments I have made using this pattern to date, but I basically replicated my much-loved washed denim version (which has now been demoted to allotment wear only). 

I veered away from the denim version just a smidge with the tiny addition of this criss-cross stitching at the base of the placket (pictured above) so I can wear this top without a camisole underneath, should I desire. (And during this past summer, I have desired.) For my previous versions of this pattern I have added poppers or buttons/buttonholes to the placket to stop it gaping open too much, however I like this stitching way more as a solution. 

As you can imagine, this top instantly found itself in regular rotation in my wardrobe, as only a black version of your favourite sewing pattern could. I've worn it heaps with these Lander shorts and my Cobra corsage Luna pants, and now that the weather is turning nippy, I'm excited to try some new outfit combos with a vest layered underneath. 

Because I have already blogged about the Tova pattern multiple times, I was tempted not to bother sharing this top at all. However, this project signifies the end (kind of) of my #2018makenine plan/challenge. Let's see how that went....

My original set of plans:

And here's what became of those plans:

From the top left:

1) The cocoon coat was a major success.
2) I have yet to make the full length Lander pants as I intended, however the wearable-toile shorts version came out better than I hoped and saw MASSES of wear.
3) The Burdastyle oversized cardigan pattern plan was a flop, but this Kinder cardigan rose out from its ashes, and I wear it almost daily.
4) My version of the Ivy pinafore didn't fit exactly as I'd hoped, which was my fault for not toiling first, however I've still worn it numerous times during colder weather.
5) I made two new Dolores batwing tops and the long sleeved white/burgundy striped one in particular has been worn SO MUCH.
6) The Suzon pattern got a double airing, and both times I paired it with fancy Atelier Brunette fabric. I love both, but I thought the 3/4 sleeve one would be my favourite. However, it's the sleeveless one that has seen the most wear.
7) Even though we experienced a climate change-induced heat wave this summer that lasted several months, in the end I ran out of warm days to warrant making the Chataigne shorts this year. I got as far as tracing the pattern pieces and making a toile (see? I'm learning!), however my toile showed me I would need to go back and trace a couple of sizes smaller (I'm going to use a fabric with a little stretch), and I dragged my heels until it was too late to bother continuing. I do have the fabric, thread and zip gathered though, so I'll roll over this plan to next year.
8) The Matcha top became the Tova top (see top of this post!).
9) I went on a fitting odyssey with the Gemma tank pattern that resulted in a couple of wearable tops (and many toiles that were left in its wake!).

This was my first year of participating in the make nine challenge and creating a grid of project plans for the upcoming year. I went into it fully embracing the philosophy behind the initial idea: that it's a gentle guide to kickstarting your sewjo at the beginning of a new year, and shouldn't be viewed as a strict blueprint that you must stick to or else. Yet, I'm surprised by how many of the plans I laid out many months ago I did actually bring to fruition. I guess now would be a suitable time to admit that I did actually go back and revise my grid a couple of days after making my first after having a thorough hunt through my fabric and pattern stashes. So perhaps this revision helped me to make some really sound and suitable plans that I really wanted to stick to, months after the initial ideas. But I also like how this type of planning completely leaves room for other, more spontaneous projects ideas to jump to the top of your 'to make' list. I guess this type of planning endeavour is only going to be as strong as your initial plans, so if you know yourself, your style, your lifestyle and what suits you well, then you're more likely to have made great plans that you don't feel like abandoning six months later. I'm excited to do this again next year, and I have an idea for a slightly different approach that I'm looking forward to working on.

What about you? Have you created a make nine grid of plans before? How many of those plans did you actually end up making? What impact did it have on your creativity and/or productivity? Do you even see any worth in making such a plan at the start of a year anyhow? Enquiring minds (well, my mind at least) need to know...
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