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...

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

The York Pinafore

I know that it's common to find the statement 'This new thing I made is all I want to wear right now' on sewing blogs and Instagram posts, but I can't help that. This pinafore IS my favourite thing to wear right now. The pattern appeared, as if by magic, in my inbox, sent by its designer Helen from Helen's Closet as a freebie shortly after she released it. I was under no obligation to sew it up, but as soon as I saw a few modelled versions pop up on the interwebs, I knew I had to make it when the right fabric came my way.... 


The York pinafore is a clever little pattern. Despite the number of pinafore and dungaree type patterns out there these days, I think it's unique. Part of its brilliance, IMO, it how simple it is: consisting of just a front and a back piece, and a couple of pockets. The neck and armholes are bound so there's not even facings to deal with. Once you've printed it out and stuck it together, there are three choices you need to make: which neckline (I went with the higher, but I adore the lower option too), pocket style (I love these big, scoopy ones, but there's also a cute hoodie-style, kangaroo version) and hem length (I picked the longer length so it'd be more suitable for chasing and wrestling with small children). 

(image source: Helen's Closet)

Going into this project, I remembered the realisation I came to during my Gemma tank escapades, that simple garments need to fit really well to look fantastic. I made a toile of this pinafore in some stable cotton to try and figure out if some pattern alterations would need to be made. I have to say at this point that the York pinafore pattern instructions may be the best pattern instructions I have ever encountered. This is in part because they include is a sizeable section on what to look for when fitting this garment, which is incredibly useful and makes this a wonderful pattern for helping beginner sewers to level up. I toiled the size M, and although the general size was fine, I found that the hip area sat too low on my body. This was unsurprising because I'm both short-waisted and an inch shorter than the height the pattern was designed for. I pinched out 3cm total (split into two places, as per the lengthen/shorten lines on the pattern) from the bodice are on both the front and back pieces. Plus, although I don't think it applies to me, I really liked how Helen explained an easy method for adjusting the pattern for larger bust sizes.  

The only other modification I made was related to the bias binding. I bought ready made bias (the instructions include how to make your own if you wish), but I picked a narrower width than suggested and applied it using the Grainline Scout tee method because I find it gives a nicer finish  around curved areas. But in short: the whole construction was super simple, and took very little time. 


I knew that I had nothing suitable in my stash for this pattern, so the next time I visited Fabric Godmother, I was in the look out. I didn't have a clear vision of what I was aiming for, other than I wanted a solid. With some guidance, I landed on this linen twill. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this may be the best fabric/pattern match I've EVER made! I've never worked with or worn linen before, let alone a linen with a twill weave, but it feels soooo nice on, kind of slinky but stable, I really love it. I'm struggling with the urge to go back and buy up the rest of the roll like some hoardy fabric-Gollum. 


With the pinafore complete, I couldn't ignore the desire for a new, super plain top to go with it. I already had this white cotton/spandex jersey in my stash that I'd procured from Girl Charlie UK for a different project that I later changed my mind about. I reached for my well-used copy of TATB's Agnes top pattern, and the perfect plain white knit top was born, that can also be paired with heaps of my other garments. 


As you can probably tell, I adore this pinafore, and the outfit generally. Style wise, I'm not sure how you'd describe this whole vibe; the linen and the silhouette of the pinafore makes me think of art teachers, which is a direction Mr SoZo would probably argue I've been heading in for a while. I now own TWO floaty scarves which I wear quite a lot, and I've decided to allow my hair to go grey without dyeing it. Anyways, I don't think you could describe this pinafore as sexy, it gives my bum a kind of teletubby look (see below), but thankfully that's not an adjective I often aspire to. I wish I'd had this pinafore in my wardrobe when I was breastfeeding. I think it would give you sufficient boob access without too much outfit rearrangement required. I got so fed up of the limited collection of separates I wore for over a year, and it would have been great to have a dress option in the mix. 

I'm very happy with the tweaks I made to the fit, and the finish I achieved during construction. The only criticism I have for this garment, and it's a very mild one, is that I often find it shifts backwards a little, and I have to rearrange it slightly so the shoulder seams sit back on top of my shoulders where they belong. Anyone have any idea why that might be happening, or what I can do about it? I'd really love to make another of these early next year, probably with the lower scooped neckline and perhaps in a soft denim. I saw a version on Instagram made by @twodogs_and_a_sewingmachine where she had added centre front and back seams and went to town with topstitching, which looked really amazing. Helen has shared some great blog posts with other pattern hack ideas for the York pattern, as well as releasing an expansion pack to turn it into an apron. What fabric would you make this pattern in and what tweaks would you suggest? 

Friday, 7 September 2018

Free Pattern Friday: Women's Knit Headband

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.

So I've taken a slightly different tack for this month's free pattern project. It's not an entire garment, like usual, but a quicker accessory make that may appeal to A) beginners, B) sewers looking for useful ways to use up some fabric scraps, or C) a time-poor sewer who would like to make something from beginning to end in a very short amount of time. Thanks to Caroline Hulse via Janome for sharing her work on this pattern for free.  

Pattern type:

If truth be told, it probably wouldn't be a complete stretch for most sewers to figure out how to make a halfway decent headband. However, why not let someone else figure out the dimensions and method for us?! In case you were in any doubt, lemme tell you that there are about 300,000 headband tutorials and patterns available on the interwebs that people are generously sharing for free. I picked the Knit Headband pattern by Sew Caroline, which is actually downloadable via the Janome website here. I liked the width of the band, and the knot detail, which I hoped would help attract attention away from my greasy hair on days that I didn't get to wash it!

Sizing info:

This is billed as a 'one-size-fits-most' pattern. I'd say my head is on the large end of medium, and this fits me fine, however I'd be tempted to make it a bit shorter for future versions so that the tie ends don't stick out quite as much. Of course, the final size will also depend on the properties of your chosen fabric. 

(image source: Caroline Hulse)

Fabric info:

The good news is you only need ¼ metre/yard or less of fabric for this project, so if you've been sewing with knits for a while, it's possible that you've already got something suitable in your stash or fabric scraps collection. The bad news is that the only guidance given for what to use is 'knit fabric'. I would very much urge you to pick a jersey knit that isn't too thin, and has a sizeable (at least 5%) elastane/lycra/spandex content with very good recovery. 

For my first attempt at this pattern, I used a leopard print off cut from a refashioned garment, and it was a total flop (literally). The jersey was too thin, and despite a noticeable elastane content, the recovery was weak. Second time round, I used some jersey that was more substantial (this one from Girl Charlee UK) and it's perfect. I think anything you'd be happy to make leggings from would be fine for this project. 


The pattern and tutorial take the form of a nicely designed four page PDF doc: two of those pages containing the pattern piece that you stick together. As mentioned, more info should have been given for choosing suitable fabric, particularly for beginners (and me, evidently!). Plus, there are no images or illustrations for the construction steps, which might have been helpful for a sewing novice, and I reckon the additional step of trimming away some of the seam allowance would lead to a slightly more polished headband. 

That said, it really was a fun and super-quick project, and the finished headband turned out much nicer than I thought it would. I'm sure I'll get a lot of use from it, on worse-than-usual hair days, and to keep my hair out of the way whilst I'm washing my face. 

Customisation ideas:

  • You could try adding some contrast top stitching around the edge of the headband with a lightning or zigzag stitch, or a cool decorative stretch stitch, if your machine has any.
  • To copy Caroline's headband (third from the top in her image above), you could try mixing two different fabrics in the same headband. 
  • Monkey around with the dimensions, making the band wider or thinner for different looks.
  • I saw on a different online headband tutorial (sorry can't recall now where), someone added some squiggles of hot glue from a glue gun to the underside towards the back of their headband. Apparently, this makes them much less likely to slip off, which is especially helpful whilst exercising (so I hear).

Would I make it again?

If I came across a scrap of the right type of knit, I would be very tempted to bust out some more of these, for myself or as gifts. If you've got lots of suitable pieces of knit to use up, these could make great stocking fillers for Christmas. Trying this pattern/tutorial has also inspired me to scale down the pattern and make my little girl some headbands too. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Avana Sailor Semi-Success

I first discovered the French children's sewing pattern company Ikatee when they contacted me last year with the offer to try one of their sewing patterns for free. I tested the Corfou dress pattern (which I reviewed here), and have been excited to follow their business developments and new pattern releases ever since. 


When Ikatee released the Avana pattern earlier this year I was, of course, smitten. Dolores completed surprised me by saying she liked it too. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is a sign that she's relaxing her desire to wear exclusively the girliest of clothing styles. So I grasped the opportunity and threw the Avana pattern in my virtual cart before she could have a change of heart. 

What really sold this pattern to me was all the style options included. The first choice you need to make is between the 'sailor' or 'urban' looks. From there you can pick between shorts, 3/4, 7/8 or full length legs. Then there's two types of optional braces to consider, and, if you're making the urban look, whether or not you want to include the belt loops and waist tie. Phew. You may need a rest after all that decision making. 

(image source: Ikatee patterns)

So Dolores and I agreed on making the sailor option with the corresponding 'H' shaped braces. I was making this at the tail end of summer, so we went for the 3/4 length. She's about to turn five, so I cut the 5 years size, but chose the 6 years length because she seems to be taller than a lot of kids of the same age, plus I was hoping these would last a full calendar year. 

Another option included in the instructions is the choice between regular elastic or adjustable 'button hole' elastic. I went for the regular elastic option as that's what I had in my stash. The instructions themselves are very thorough, with digitised illustrations for each construction step. Generally, I found following along no problem, however I did develop two tiny gripes: the first is that, through including the steps for constructing all those different options, it lead to a bit of confusion when trying to work out which bits applied to you and which you could skip over. Secondly, the translation into English was a bit clunky at points, and the instructions could have benefitted from being run past a native English speaker before they were published. 

Fabric and buttons:

Like so much of my fabric stash, I have no clue where this 1.5 metre length of aqua poly/cotton twill came from. I've had it in my stash for so long that I remember having it on my fabric shelf when I lived in Barcelona circa 2009, although I know I had it when I lived in the UK prior to that. I've always loved the colour of this fabric, but could never figure out what it should become. Mainly I was confused by its weight: a bit too hefty for a blouse or top, but a bit too lightweight for making a skirt or shorts that I'd feel comfortable wearing. However, for kidswear, the weight seems to be just right. 

I don't know if it's still the case, but for a while, about five years ago, it seemed to be really easy to buy sets of vintage/retro buttons on cards like these. I found them on a number of market stalls and in haberdashery shops in a number of towns, as well as in Snoopers Paradise in Brighton, which is where these probably came from. I'm not sure if they are legit French vintage dead-stock, or just a cute repro. Either way, these lovely buttons have been in my stash for at least five years, and FINALLY found their purpose by matching this fabric almost exactly. 


The first point I need to make is that I'm AMAZED Dolores has agreed to wear these aside from for the indoor photos. I genuinely thought that I was making these exclusively for my own joy of making them. However, so far she's worn them twice, both times with this awesome striped M&S t-shirt that I picked up brand-new from a charity shop. 

Generally, I'm a big fan of this pattern. All the style options, plus a wide size range (from 3 to 12 years), make this pattern excellent value for money. There are plenty of thoughtful details, like including two options for top stitching around the front buttons on the sailor version. Plus, I really like how the braces are detachable, and the instructions require you to make two sets of button holes so that they're adjustable.

What isn't so great is that they have come up quite small. And even on the longest setting, the braces are a bit short, and they don't sit very nicely at the back (see above). The second time she wore them out of the house, we agreed to leave the braces off, so I think that is how they are going to be worn from now on. I was hoping they'll still be of use for spring/summer 2019, but I predict that I'm going to have to pass these on to a smaller child and make Dolores the next size up.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

The Kinders Keep Coming

At the start of 2018, I already had a solid selection of handmade cardigans, all made using either the Jenna and Cabernet cardigan patterns. However, over the last couple of years, I've been experimenting with looser style tops that have different amounts of volume than my previous rockabilly-casual style tended to have. I've often found it a struggle to fit those Jennas and Cabernets over the top of a lot of the tops and dresses I usually wear these days. Therefore, it made sense to include a slouchy, 'boy-friend'-esque cardigan in my then-forthcoming #2018makenine project plans. 


After some poking about, I discovered that I already owned one that I thought might fit the bill. An old copy of Burdastyle magazine that was nestling on my shelves contained a slouchy looking cardigan pattern, it's this one that can also be bought via the Burdastyle website (spoiler alert: I wouldn't bother). I traced out the pieces and combined the lower sleeve piece with that weird extra band that formed the top part of the sleeve to make it into one pattern piece. I requested and was kindly granted a sample length of this fabulous mustard french terry from Girl Charlee UK, and got to work. (Ironic) Ta da!

So hideous. I want to blame the way the cardigan is obscured in the shot on the Burdastyle model, but equally I could blame my own eyes for not seeing that this cardigan pattern is pretty horrid (IMO), and has also been made up in a much sturdier knit than what I had tried it in. Either way: FAIL. The project got thrown into the corner of my sewing area, promising to return to salvage the fabric when I felt less rubbish about the whole debacle.

The mustard success:

Whilst the fail-cardigan resided in the corner of shame, I was asked to take part in the blog tour for Wendy Ward's 'A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics'. As part of that, I made her Kinder cardigan pattern, and liked the result so much I went on to make another. Having worn the living shizzle out of both AND knowing that they were able to worn over looser tops, it didn't take me long to work out what to do with the mustard french terry, once I'd salvaged what I could of it. 

After slicing up the failed Burdastyle cardigan, I realised I wouldn't have quite enough fabric, so I begged Girl Charlee for an additional metre, which they were swift to supply me with, the legends.  However, even with the extra fabric, I didn't have quite enough to make the mid-length option (as per my black ponte version). So my new mustard version ended up precisely half-way between the short and mid length pattern options. I even remembered to alter the neckband pieces as well! 

Let's talk more about this fabric. In short: it is AMAZING. It's soooo soft and has an amazing drape, perfect for a flow-y cardigan plus I bet it would work fabulously for a knit skater-style dress, if those are your bag. Because of its softness, I decided to opt for the cuff-less sleeve option of the pattern, and the whole this has worked perfectly. I LOVE wearing this cardigan so much. I knew that a mustard coloured cardigan would work well with the rest of my clothing selection because of how much I have worn my mustard Cabernet cardigan (and the mustard hand-me-down RTW cardigan I made the Cabernet to replace). However, I must admit that I have barely worn my mustard Cabernet now that I have this Kinder one. It fits over all my tops and dresses much more easily and feels so lovely to wear that I can't resist reaching for it first.

I've learnt the hard way to always reinforce the shoulder seams of knit tops. For this project, I added an extra cute little detail by overlocking some narrow rainbow grosgrain ribbon into the shoulder seams of. It makes me very happy when I see the rainbows as I'm popping it on. With the remains of both the original fail-digan and the extra metre that I was sent, I was able to squeeze out a pair of joggers and a T-shirt for Frankie. The joggers are currently covered in yogurt so I couldn't get a photo, but I used the same Ottobre magazine 'straight stripes' joggers pattern that I used for these pairs because they were such a success. For the T-shirt, I used the free Ringer tee pattern by Brindille & Twig, that I previously wrote about here. This time, I omitted the bottom band and added a little woven ribbon detail, in part to help distinguish the front easily when getting the squirmy little guy dressed. 

The navy version:

After creating such a successful cardigan, I had an eye out for other fabric that the Kinder pattern could work its magic on. I ended up with an end of roll length of this interesting navy and white knit (sadly no longer in stock) from Fabric Godmother whilst working at one of their open days earlier this year. I really loved it, and it certainly fit within my usual colour palette, however, with less than a metre of it, I just wasn't sure what to do with it. Then I remembered this image (see below) from my Pinterest boards of a cardigan/jacket-hybrid that I believe came from Anthropologie that used a fabric with a similar look. I didn't think a cardigan like this would use much fabric, so with the Kinder pattern in hand, I attempted a vague recreation of the Anthropologie garment. 

I opted for making my version 5cm longer than the short-length option on the pattern. The sleeves ended up a bit shorter than the 3/4 length I was aiming for because I was was working with very limited fabric. However, I think overall the proportions work ok, and there's definitely a passing resemblance!

I didn't use anything cute to reinforcement the shoulders in this version, but I did add a little nautical back neck hanging loop. It's something that I wished I had included in my mustard version to keep it from slipping off the hanger.

Despite being completely my colours and style, I decided to make this version for my amazing and inspiring friend Harriet, who lives in Barcelona. In our correspondence, I had offered to make her a garment as she reads my blog from time to time and is always very complimentary about my creations. She had mentioned that she liked my cardigan/jacket creations, and although I think she might have been referring to my La Trop Facile jacket, the Kinder has a similar kimono-y, fastening-free look so I hoped that she would appreciate this project. She's received it and says that she loves it, and it truly gives me more happiness to know that she wears it than it would if it lived in my wardrobe, particularly because I already have three Kinders and three navy cardigans already in there.

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