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Made by Me: Maven Patterns Rochester Top

Apparently the last time I showed you an item of clothing I made was some time in April!

I have been making clothing since then, but it's either been stuff I haven't been that fussed about - making things just for the sake of making things - or I haven't got round to taking photographs.  Our house is quite dark and it's hard to find decent locations around it to take modelled photographs, but I can just about find a suitable location for my tailors dummy (Rosie) to model things for me. 

I bought the pattern for this top (it also includes a dress variation as well) the day it was released. 

I saw it on Instagram I think, and instantly fell in love with it.  I needed some new tops that weren't simple jersey t-shirts and haven't been that keen on shirts or button front tops.  The Rochester top by Maven Patterns seemed to be the very thing I was looking for.  I must admit I was also slightly swayed by the gorgeous green fabric the sample was made up in - but I love my versions even though they're not in that fabric!

I say "versions" because I've made two. 

The first was from some chambray I had in my stash, which I made almost immediately I'd purchased the pattern. 

I made a size 14;it fits me well with the exception of the sleeves being a smidge tight.  It's wearable, but I find they tend to ride up my biceps and get stuck there as I move, I have to keep tugging them down.  I keep meaning to go back and take a slightly narrower seam on the sleeve to counteract this, but the seam allowance is only 1cm so I don't have huge amounts to play with. 

This was my first time using a Maven Patterns pattern and I really enjoyed the experience.  The pdf fitted together nicely and it came with two sets of instructions - a full, detailed set and another which was more of a basic outline of the steps.  I used a combination of the two - the outline steps for most of it, but I referred to the full instructions for the hem facing.

I made a couple of changes; the pattern includes a deep pleat at the back which I originally cut in my chambray but it stuck out quite a bit when I tried it on, so I went back and took it out, by sewing down the centre back below the pleat stitching at the top.  I also used two narrow pieces of elastic to gather the neck, rather than one wider piece as the pattern suggests.  I found that the wider piece didn't lay very flat.

Other than that I made my first version as per the pattern.  You get a template included for the topstitching for the hem facing, which I pinned onto the top and followed around with my machine foot.  This worked out really well and I think looks nice in a contrast thread against the chambray. 

This weekend just gone I went on a sewing day with some friends and needed a project to take along, so I cut out another Rochester top, this time from a small piece of (I think) Liberty cotton.  I had one metre to play with and just squeezed the top out.  I had to use bias strips to finish the hem rather than the hem bands, but managed to get everything out.

This time I cut the sleeves slightly wider - adding about 3/4 of an inch I think in total - and they feel a lot more comfortable.  I also decided to add an opening to the back neck, with a little button and loop.  I can get the chambray one on and off without an opening, but it's a little tight.

With this version I echoed the three lines of stitching around the neck for the elastic casing on the sleeve hems.  I think it's quite a nice touch. 

At some stage I'd like to make the dress, I'm just on the look out for the right fabric now!

Made by Me: David and Debbie

Wow, it's over 2 months since I've visited my own little corner of the internet.  Did you wonder if I was ever coming back?  I did!

I've been doing quite a bit of free motion embroidery recently as I find it really relaxing and I've started doing a few portraits. 

I have David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust guise and Debbie Harry to share with you today.

I actually did this a few months ago and have used some of my precious Liberty print scraps for the coloured areas.  I was lucky enough to find a scrap of the perfect "hair" fabric in my stash. 

This has been framed and will hang on the wall in our newly decorated lounge, I'll be making a couple more Bowie pictures to hang alongside it.

Just over a week ago I taught a free motion embroidery class at my friend Angela's shop - Crafty Angel Sewing Studio.  We spent the morning experimenting with free motion embroidery and the afternoon turning our creations into a tote bag.  Normally I don't make a project along with the class, but this time I decided to.

I did a portrait of Debbie Harry on a denim background for my sample.

Here she is on the finished bag, which is lined with the same fabric I made her top out of.

And in case you were wondering, the two badges on the bag are also Debbie and David. 

I've got ideas for a few more portraits, including one I've just started for my friends birthday.  I can't share it yet though in case she sees it here, but I think it's going to look amazing!

Why I'm Not Scared of Sewing With Knits...

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who read and commented on my last post.  When I wrote it, it felt kind of self indulgent, so it was especially good to read that others feel / have felt the same, and know where I'm coming from.

Today I'm going to show you some old photos which might help to illustrate why I'm not scared of sewing with knit fabrics.  Or they might just give you a good laugh!

When I first started reading sewing blogs I saw post after post about how people were scared of sewing knit / stretch fabrics, and I really couldn't understand why.  I'd been sewing with knits for years and never knew you were supposed to be scared of them!

My first experiences of sewing with stretch fabrics came when my sister and I used to do artistic roller skating (think Torvill and Dean on wheels) in our teens.  We entered competitions all over the country and of course had to have fancy outfits to compete in.  I made most of them, on a standard, quite basic home sewing machine with a zigzag stitch.  I'd never even heard of an overlocker. Despite this and the fact that they were incredibly close fitting outfits that were subjected to a lot of movement and stress I never had a single popped seam or stitch.

I also sewed hundreds, and sometimes thousands of sequins on them. 


(I apologise for the poor quality of the photos, they're scans of very old pictures.  I had some even better ones with fancier costumes but the quality was just too poor).

The first three are me (don't laugh too hard!) and the last couple are my sister and her skating partner. 

On Why I Haven't Been Blogging...

I'm unsure about this post.  It feels self indulgent, but I also feel like I need to write it down.  I might take it down in a few days.

If you've come here expecting to see a new post about something new I've made, then I'm really sorry to disappoint you.  Today's blog post is more about what I haven't been sewing... and why.

I have made a couple of things recently, some Named Clothing Jamie jeans that I was quite pleased with, a Simplicity 1366 top (am I the last person in the world to make this pattern?) and a dress I hacked from a top pattern (I can't remember what it's called and can't be bothered to go and look), but nothing that really floats my boat. 

To be honest, none of my clothes - me made or ready to wear - float my boat right now and that is purely because I don't float my own boat right now.  I don't want to make (or buy) clothes that fit me now, because I don't like how my body looks and feels at the moment. 

I've got lots of plans for things I want to make;

New Look 6459 Cropped Trousers

Closet Case Patterns Kalle shirt - cropped version

Tessuti Fabrics Bella dress

It's no secret that I suffer with anxiety and depression and one of the ways I try to deal (almost always unsuccessfully) with this is to comfort eat.   I have never once eaten something to make myself feel better and then actually felt better... I don't know why I continue to feel it will work!

I also snack in the car when I'm bored, and I spend a lot of time in the car! I do a lot of driving for work and sometimes spend up to 7 hours a day behind the wheel (I was going to say driving, but often I'm sat in a queue of traffic, going nowhere).  Foods which should only be eaten occasionally as a treat become an everyday indulgence and healthy eating in the form of preparing fresh food with lots of fruit and veg goes out of the window.  I eat crap and I'm sure that ends up making me feel more crap than I did already.  Consequently, since the beginning of the year I've put on about a stone in weight. 

My clothes still fit but most don't feel good and I don't want to make/buy things that do feel more comfortable because I don't want to accept that this is me now.  I'm not massively overweight, if I lost the stone I've put on I'd be okay, and if I lost a stone and a half, then that would be wonderful.  I know I'm never going to get back the figure I had in my early twenties however much I'd love to.  At that stage of my life I was into artistic roller skating and trained 5 times a week... I could eat pretty much what I liked then. 

And I'm not of the mindset that if I was thin my life would be perfect.  I know that's not true, and I know that way lies madness of a different kind.   What I do know is that I don't particularly like myself at the moment and I think that eating more healthily and taking care of myself a bit better would benefit me physically and mentally.   

The stupid thing is I know exactly what I need to do, I've got books on healthy eating coming out of my ears, too many probably.  And I actually love cooking, I love planning weekly menus and trying new recipes .  I just need to click my brain into the right place to actually do something about it.

So starting this week I'm going to try.  I've got food in the fridge that needs using up rather than throwing away, but from Wednesday I'm going the healthy route again.  I'm not going to go mad (I could never give up chocolate completely) but I'm going to do my best to loose this unwanted extra bit of me. 

If you've read this far, thank you.  If you're now thinking I'm a complete crackpot then I don't blame you, I think that about myself on pretty much a daily basis.  And I haven't written this in the hope of people complimenting me and telling me I don't need to lose weight.  I don't particularly care what other people think, I know I need to do it for myself.  It's not the answer to all my issues, but it's one less thing to beat myself up about.

As I said, I might take this post down in a few days, but I just needed to get it off my chest.  Hopefully I'll be back with some actual sewing and less whinging before too long.  I have the perfect fabric for that Kalle shirt in my stash, and for the Bella dress come to think of it!  I guess the Bella dress might be a good place to start, it's shape means it should fit whatever happens. 

Meanwhile, if anyone has suggestions of things I can sew now that I might be happy with, I'm all ears.