Sunday, 19 May 2019

A Trio of Apollons


Umm, exactly HOW selfless has my sewing been lately?! Bloody selfless. Although, if I'm honest, I didn't make these three sweatshirts back to back. But I did get them all done within about a month, so I can still claim some sort of prize, no?!

Anyway, when the weather started to warm up and we began to claw our way out of winter, Pat (AKA Mr SoZo) discovered a major hole in his wardrobe. This hole existed between the wool jumpers (or sweaters, if you prefer) and the T-shirts, where some cotton-y long-sleeved tops should have been residing. Somehow he found he had just one fine cotton jumper that his mum had bought him that fit the criteria. And that had a very visible hole in the neckline at the front, and a matching one at the back from where he'd cut out an itchy label. TBH, I disliked that jumper so I struggled (and failed) to find the motivation to fix the holes before they got too large. 


Pattern:

I was just about to hit the charity shops on his behalf when French pattern company, I Am Patterns launched a mini collection of styles for men, including a men's version of their super simple women's Apollon sweatshirt pattern. I was immediately very excited because the proportions looked perfect for Pat's slender frame. I atypically bought a paper copy (I normally buy PDF patterns for the immediacy, and lower price) from Fabric Godmother and got prepping.  

I chose not to dive straight in wielding the scissors, and took Pat's measurements carefully, comparing them to the pattern. I expected to have to make adjustments for his relatively narrow shoulders, however, the XS size seemed like it was going to be fine, so I went straight ahead and made it with no adjustments (the army green version). Both Pat and myself were super happy with the fit, and I love the balance of the the resultant widths of the neckband, waistband and cuffs. Going forwards, I decided to make the cuffs and waistband a little tighter and I think you can see the improvement in the rust and grey versions. 

(image source: I Am Patterns)

The only other change I made to the pattern was adding a stage to the construction to stabilise the shoulder seams. I used cotton twill tape on the army green version, but then I found I had some clear elastic in my stash that I used for the other two. I prefer the look of the clear elastic, but it is a total faff to apply. 

The construction of these is embarrassingly straight forward (which is in no way related to why I made three in quick succession!). The seam allowance included is very narrow, which encourages the use of an overlocker to make these, if you have one. The last time I sewed with sweatshirt weight knit on my overlocker, I had major hassles. The seams were stretching out, and because you can't adjust the differential feed on my machine, I was left with no way to prevent it (a call to my favourite sewing machine repair guy confirmed this) and serious steaming with my iron was doing nothing to improve the situation. After some experimentation with my regular machine, I found an overcast stitch that looks and functions similarly to the stitch off an overlocker. And because the seam allowance included in the pattern is so narrow, there was no excess fabric that would need to be trimmed away. For my third version (the grey one), I decided to test my overlocker again, just in case. Miraculously, it seemed to be working with the fabric fine, so the seams on the last one are sewn with the overlocker.  


Fabrics:

I scoured the shelves at Fabric Godmother for sweatshirt fabric that I thought Pat would be happy to wear. His colouring is on the ginger spectrum, so the army green cotton french terry seemed an obvious choice. I think they must have sold out because I couldn't find it on their site to link to, however it's a thick, hefty, excellent quality fabric that feels good and solid, if you know what I mean. My second choice was a bit of a wild card. This speckled sweatshirt fleece (pictured below) is a really bold, almost orange shade of rust. I told him I would happily use it for me if he didn't like it, but no, he was fine for me to go ahead. It's a lighter weight than the french terry, with a lovely soft reverse side. When Pat first wore this version, our daughter told him he would be in trouble with me because she thought he'd already got it dirty! I also bought a length of the navy version, which I believe is the the same as the fabric used for the sample pictured on the I Am Patterns site. I bought it with the intention of making another Apollon sweatshirt, but I've since hatched a slightly different plan for that. Watch this space...

(image source: Fabric Godmother)

The final version of this batch also counts as one of my #2019makenine projects. I had a length of this fun lightning flash french terry kindly given to me by Girl Charlee UK, and although I really love it, I wasn't quite sure what it should be. I'm not really into wearing sweatshirts these days, so my plans were erring towards a cardigan. But when I randomly decided to hold it up to Pat whilst tidying my fabric shelf, the scale of the print looked really good on him so I realised I had to help it fulfil it's destiny as a sweatshirt for him. Once again, I think it must have sold out as I can't find it on the Girl Charlee site, but that's perhaps not surprising as it featured on the most recent series of GBSB. 

Back to the sweatshirt (who knew there was so much to say about such simple garments!). I find that tops that have bands that have been made in self fabric can look a bit weird if the print is a large scale, so I went on the hunt for some matching plain ribbing. I hit the jackpot when I chanced upon this pale grey marl rib, which is near-as-dammit an exact colour match. 


I can't remember exactly how much I had of the lightning flash french terry, (the Apollon pattern requires 1.5m), but I had just enough to squeeze a pair of joggers for Frankie out of the remains. I'm in love with this new-to-me joggers pattern so I'll blog about it separately soon, however needlessly to say, I'm finding it beyond adorable that they are matching. Of course, it's not the for the first time.....

Thoughts:

Ok, so please no one tell Pat exactly how easy these types are garments are to make. It's, like, the exact same amount of work as making this or this. You could fancy things up with topstitching the seams/seam allowances around the neckline, cuffs and waistband. If I had a cover stitch machine (yes please, universe!), or if I'd have more success with a twin needle, I would. But I haven't so I didn't.

As for the pattern itself, I'm so happy to have one that I can easily turn to whenever suitable fabric crosses my path. I'd love to see experiment with fine sweater knits and potentially rustle up some fancier looking garments. The only thing that I dislike about it, is that there isn't a sleeve head notch to help with the sleeve insertion. The sleeve pattern doesn't have a front or back: the curves are the same on both sides. And I measured the armholes of the front and back pattern pieces, and they aren't the same, so it's not a case of simply folding the sleeve head in half and making a snip. But really it is a tint gripe that effects only one process of the construction. Anyways, I can happily report that all three of these sweatshirts are in regular rotation, and I'm excited to make more.   

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

My-Me-Made-May 2019: Days 9 - 15

If you're looking for more down and dirty, random-looking, completely unedited photos of me in my daily outfits, then you've come to the right place. Picking out a unique outfit hasn't been too tricky yet, but unless it warms up and I can access some of my more summery tops, I'm going to have to get super creative and/or start wearing some really odd combos! And wow, I really do wear that mustard-yellow Kinder cardigan A LOT, don't I?!

If you are taking part in MMM, I hope your challenge is going well, and that you've already got some lessons and insights under your belt. I'd love to hear them, so please leave me a comment below.

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Denim Leftovers Cleo


Here's a cute little pinafore that was not my intention to make. However, I have made it, and I'm very pleased that it exists. And even though I've already worn it several times, ridiculously, I feel weird about wearing it during Me-Made-May (and thus taking a photo of it), without having properly 'introduced it' here on my blog. Is that odd?! So, Ta da! Here it is and I now can go back to wearing it. 


When planning my broken twill denim Lander pants, I was a good girl and diligently bought the full quantity of fabric recommended (2.5m, FYI). However, after cutting them out, I found that if I were careful, I had enough fabric leftover to make another, adult-sized garment. My first thought was to make another Helen's Closet York pinafore (which I've made before), however I felt that this denim would be a bit thick for that one, so turned to the Tilly and the Buttons Cleo pattern for a classic denim pinafore style. 


You may or may not recall that I've used the Cleo pattern previously, with self-drafted pockets in a hefty black denim. I really love that pinafore and wear it a lot, but I took some lessons away from it and made some tweaks this time round. Firstly, I decided to make the shape slightly A-line from the hips downwards, and secondly I chose a length somewhere in between the options Tilly includes in her pattern. I think the length of my black version looks great, but I wouldn't feel comfortable in it without tights, and I predicted that it'd be more suitable for performing child-wrangling tasks with a slightly longer length hem. 

The last change I made was to draft a new pocket shape: partly because I had an itch to scratch in the form of a neatly topstitched, round-cornered patch pocket, and partly because I wanted to make mine a little different from the legion of Cleo pinafores out there in the world. 


Thoughts:

As I thoroughly stated in my denim Lander pants post, I REALLLLYYYYY love this broken twill denim. I'm thrilled that I could squeeze two garments out of the amount that I bought; this pinafore kind of feels like a freebie! However, I can't remember if I monkeyed with the side seams beyond making the shape more A-line, but this version feels looser than my black one. I'm not sure if I should summon the patience to unpick the facings around the side seams and bring it in a whisker, or if I should leave it 'future-proofed' against a little potential weight gain. I'm also not entirely sold on the length. Yes, it's more practical, but I do feel it looks more frumpy than the black version, and I'm 70% sure I should raise the length a little. What are your thoughts? But those are just some tweaks I need to consider, generally speaking I believe that this is a great garment, and, like with my Landers, I can't wait to see how the denim fades over time with wear and washing. 

Thursday, 9 May 2019

My-Me-Made-May 2019: Days 1 - 8

The first week of Me-Made-May has whizzed by already! I decided that I would try to document my challenge with daily photos, because I find the images useful to assess if an outfit looks any good IRL, rather than just in my head. So let me remind you, my personal challenge is to wear a unique combination of me-mades every day, and also to wear a dress or skirt at least three times a week with the hope of bringing those into more frequent use. Naturally, picking unique combinations of clothes is going to be easier at the beginning of the month, however, I've still had to stop, pause and remind myself each morning not to reach for my standard combos.

This year, I've decided I'm just going to shove these documentation pics up here without editing or listing and linking each and every garment, as I have done with previous years. I just don't have the time at the moment but I'd rather put them here in a raw state than not at all. Write ups on all the garments I'm wearing can all be found in previous blogposts, so if you're curious to find out more about about something I'm wearing but not sure how to search for it in my search bar, leave me a comment and I'll add the link of wear to read more. I hope you're having a great May so far...


Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4 (outfit #1)

Day 4 (outfit #2)
 
Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Friday, 3 May 2019

Free Pattern Friday: Kids' Dulcie Dress


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 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.

Something I'm currently struggling with is this: I love to sew for my daughter, but she doesn't really need any new clothes at the moment. My genius plan of making most of her garments a little bit large is having the desired effect, and most of her clothes tend to last her at least two years. So all the garments I've sewn over the last year or so, along with the odd hand-me-down and some charity shop additions, mean that she already has a good amount of clothes for this summer. However, I really do enjoy sewing for her and want to make her clothes whilst she's still small enough to allow me to do so. Yet, from a sustainability standpoint, I can't justify making her more garments when her wardrobe is adequately populated. 

An argument (read: justification) that I thought of the other day for sewing her more summer stuff anyway, is that there are a couple of younger girls we know that we regularly pass things down to. So even if my daughter doesn't wear the shizzle out of something, it means it might be in better condition for passing on to others. Anyways, if you have any thoughts on this issue, I'd LOVE to hear them, so please leave me a comment. 


In the meantime, I've side-stepped that whole debate by making this free pattern road-test into something she really could use: a school summer dress. One of my favourite children's pattern designers is Sewpony, and when I found that they offer the Dulcie dress pattern for free when you sign up to the newsletter, I was all 'hold the phone'. Thanks heaps to Sewpony for sharing their hardwork for free.

(image source: Sewpony)

Pattern type:

Let's be honest: free sewing patterns are usually for pretty basic garment styles: knit leggings and simple T-shirts for example. However, this looked like a 'proper' pattern, the type that I'd happily spend £7 or whatever on, so it feels extra exciting to be able to access it for nothing more than a few clicks of the mouse. Designed for woven fabrics, the Dulcie dress has a boxy bodice with dolman/kimono/grown-on sleeves and a choice of neckline, a gathered skirt and optional patch pockets and collar. There is also info for adding contrast piping if you wish. The bodice is lined and it fastens at the back with an invisible zip.


Sizing info:

The pattern is graded for a generous size range of 12 months to 10 years. Dolores is now five and a half, but seems to be taller than the rest of her classmates at the moment, so I went for the size 5 for width and size 6 for skirt length. I felt that the roomy fit of the bodice would give it a couple of summer's worth of use if the dress remains long enough. 

Fabric info: 

Any light- or medium-weight cotton/cotton blend fabric without stretch would work for this pattern. I used a cotton gingham in Dolores's school's colour scheme that I bought from a local haberdashers along with some plain white shirting I had in my stash to line the bodice, and a wee length of stashed white piping to highlight the pockets. 


Findings:

The pattern and instructions were a great advert for the rest of Sewpony's patterns, in fact I went on to buy another of their patterns straight after getting this one because sewing it was a joy. I picked the square neckline because I felt it complimented the boxy shape of the bodice and referenced the checked fabric. I like a collar as much as the next person, but I feel the collar piece included in this pattern doesn't look like it sits very well on the bodice, so I probably won't use that option in the future.

Despite her joyful appearance in these photos, frustratingly, Dolores hasn't been keen on this dress so far. I'm pretty sure that what she dislikes about this dress is exactly what I do like about it: the modern, casual fit of the bodice. I think she prefers more traditional, fitted bodice shapes for her dresses. Anyhow, she was forced to wear it the other day when her other school dresses were dirty, and I hope that that has 'broken the seal' and that she will embrace it going forwards.


Customisation ideas:

This dress pattern already includes quite a lot of design options, however some additional ideas for personalising this pattern are:
  • Draft fun shaped patch pockets like hearts, cat heads, rockets, strawberries and so on
  • Make a contrast band around the bottom of skirt. This could also be a useful way to add length if your child has a growth spurt
  • Make a self or contrast tie belt attached at the side seams that can be tied at the back or front
  • Because the bodice is lined, you could fairly easily make scalloped edges of the armholes 
  • Add additional braid, ricrac, ribbon or pompom trim around the hem of the skirt and across the pockets

Would I make it again?

If this dress becomes fully embraced by Dolores, I'd definitely reach for this pattern again in the future, either for more school dresses or for casual dresses. It's nice to know that we've got quite a few years left in the sizing range for this pattern, so it may well get revisited. 



Monday, 22 April 2019

Dorothie Blouse ♥️


Here's a sweet little blouse that I made a couple of months ago. I've held off sharing it but now the weather has sufficiently heated up enough for me to actually wear it to be able to give it a full review. 


Pattern:

Do you remember the deep dive into I did into French sewing pattern companies? Well, whilst researching that post I fell hard for Slow Sunday Paris's Dorothie blouse pattern and I was NOT going to let the language barrier get in the way of me making one for myself. I love the proportions and delicate details of this pattern: the soft, open collar/lapel, the gentle gathering along the front and back yoke seams and sleeve heads, and THOSE. SLEEVES. I'm obsessed with the clever gathering into the band effect. In a way it's so simple, but I haven't seen it before in a garment pattern. There are three other sleeve styles included in the pattern (I think two are free additions that may require a separate download, I forget) but the banded version had to be the version I went for first. 

(image source: Slow Sunday Paris)

So how did I cope working with a French sewing pattern when I don't speak or read French? Having a PDF 'copy' rather than a paper format really helped here. I opened up the instructions file on my lap top and copy-and-pasted chunks of text into a translation app. Obvs a lot of the translations then required some interpretation, but alongside the step-by-step illustrations and previous blouse-making experience, it all worked out fine.


One aspect of the pattern that I wasn't a fan of, was the way that the blouse is hemmed. The front halves of the hem are simply double-turned and stitched, but the back is finished with self-made bias tape to accommodate a gentle curve. However, I feel that the back curve is soooo gentle, that double turning and stitching wouldn't have been at all tricky, and if you are using a slinky fabric like I did that doesn't respond well to being made into bias binding, then it's an unnecessary headache. There are also tiny slits at the bottom of the side seams which, having worn this blouse a little, I didn't feel were worth the faff to create them. 


Fabric:

I snapped up 1.5m of this mustard viscose twill from Fabric Godmother at the same time as buying the rust viscose twill that became this Elisabeth blouse, and using it marks the completion of the second of my #2019makenine goals. In real life, I think this fabric looks a bit more chartreuse than mustard, which looks amazing combined with navy, IMO. Having already worked with this slippery fabric, I knew to take my time when laying it out to cut, and to avoid a hot iron and pressing on the right side of the fabric! I failed to remember the pressing points a couple of times, and there are a few sections on this blouse that now have a bit of a permanent sheen, but I think only I would notice them. And let me tell you how nice this fabric feels to wear. It's slinky and smooth, but it's not too fine so I'm not freezing cold whilst wearing it. Although it does need a decent press after each wash to get the many wrinkles out and bring it back to a state of wearability. 


Thoughts:

Having worn this blouse and seen these photos of me wearing it, I'm compelled to share two flaws that I would make changes to avoid next time. Firstly, the length: although I'm short-waisted (I have a high natural waist/short torso), I decided not to shorten this pattern before cutting it out, and I'm relieved that I didn't because I feel it would be better a bit longer. I think the pattern is designed so that the blouse can be worn loose or tucked inside a skirt or trousers, however I feel it looks much better tucked in a bit, and I've found it comes untucked easily as it's not quite long enough.

Secondly, I think the button/buttonhole positioning is a bit too far in from the edge. I can't remember if the pattern specifies the size of buttons required, however, I found these dainty little vintage buttons in my stash which were a weirdly perfect colour match which were crying out to be used. I'm pleased with how I've positioned them in pairs for added interest, yet I should have accommodated their small scale by placing them a little closer to the edge. That's something that is difficult to spot when you're working close up on a garment project, so I'm not kicking myself for not spotting it until it was too late.


But honestly, those are minor points on a generally lovely garment that I think fits me well and feels wonderful to wear. I'm already planning another project using this pattern, this time trying out one of the other sleeve versions and an extra addition that I'm excited to share (if it all works out!). 

What about you? Have you ever tried a sewing project using a pattern or tutorial that was written in a language that you don't understand? How did you go about it and how did it turn out?

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Me-Made-May 2019: My Pledge!


Alright, after much deliberation, I have worked out my pledge for this year's Me-Made-May challenge:

'I, Zoe Edwards, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May 2019. I endeavour to wear only me-made clothes in a unique combination each day during May 2019. Plus, I will wear a dress or skirt at least 3 times a week' 

The most observant of this blog's readers may notice that this is effectively the same pledge I made last year. The reason why I'm doing it again is because I found it soooooo useful. The benefits of having to come up with different combinations of clothing gave me heaps of new options to choose from through out the rest of the year. Plus, inventing new combos gave some of my older me-mades a new lease of life which is obviously a great step towards a more sustainable wardrobe. I definitely feel better about myself and feel more confident when I'm wearing a more considered outfit than my standard 'jeans and a stripy top' look, and I'd like to push myself to create even more outfit combos including all the clothes that I have made since last May. 


It's been super fun to see everyone's pledges coming in, and it's so inspiring to see how participants are really thinking of pledges that will get them closer to where they'd like to be with their me-made wardobes. Remember, you've got until 1st May to come up your own pledge if you wish to take part. Plus, the Me-Made-May enamel badges I got produced with Fabric Godmother (with 20% of profits being donated to Labour Behind the Label) are selling well, so if you'd like to own one, get your order in soon!

Happy pledging!
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