Thursday, 17 April 2014

Made by Me: Jamie Jeans

6 months ago, or even 3 months ago I'd have told you I had absolutely no interest in making a number of different items of clothing.  Underwear and jeans mainly.  However I'm now having to eat my words to a certain extent, as I proudly present my first ever pair of Me-Made jeans.
They are of course Named Patterns Jamie Jeans, seen many, many times over on various sewing blogs.   There's not much to say about the pattern that hasn't already been said, but I will share some of my fitting alterations - if only so I can remember them for my next pair.
When I measured myself to decide what size to make I was dismayed to discover that my thigh measurement was larger than that given for the largest size available.  I know I'm pear shaped, but I didn't think I was that pear shaped, so I decided to measure a pair of jeans I wear regularly, which turned out to be several inches smaller around the thigh than I measured myself as being.  
I decided to make the size 42, which equates to a UK size 14.  To be on the safe side I added an additional inch down the outer seam of both front and back.  I wasn't sure whether I'd need this all, but I had an inkling that even if the hips and thighs fitted, the calves would be too tight.  Due to many years of ballet dancing and roller skating when I was younger I have rather muscular calves.  
I also added 1 inch to the back crotch length, and half an inch to the front crotch length.  As I wasn't sure where the waist would sit on me, I added about an inch and a half to the crotch depth, raising the waist.   I ended up taking about half an inch off this when I attached the waistband.  
To my surprise the jeans went together really easily.  For some reason I'd always thought jeans would be really hard to make, but not so with these.  
I did have one little mishap when I attached the fly shield to the wrong side of the front opening, but once I realised my mistake it was easy to fix.  
The hardest thing for me was getting the fit right on the calves.  I still think I've got them a little tight, but I'd sewn and resewn the outer leg seams so many times I decided to call these good enough.  You might notice from the photo above that the front leg seam drifts towards the inner leg.  Of course, this is because when I added width to the calf, I only added it to the outer seam, instead of adding half to the inner and half to the outer seam.  I'll correct this next time, but it actually looks worse in the photo than it does in real life.
I actually needed only about half the inch I'd added to the outer seams in the calf area, and none of it at all at the hip/thigh area.  Adding the extra to the crotch depth really helped with the fit in this area.  
As you can see I omitted the back pockets.  I hadn't sewn them on when I got to that step in the pattern as I wasn't sure if I needed to use the additional width in the hip area, and I thought that might mess up the pocket placement.  In the end I just decided to leave them off. 
For my first attempt at jeans I'm really pleased with how they turned out.  They're definitely wearable, although I think the fit around the calves needs some slight adjustment in my next (!) pair.  

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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Strangest Thing I've Ever Made

Recently I was asked to make a soft toy for a friend's baby.  My friend had seen someone making toys out of baby's first babygrows (onesies) and wondered if I could do the same. 
Certainly I said.  What animal do you want?  (She'd shown me bears, elephants and rabbits).
A kiwi, was the reply.

There is a reason for this request - the baby's father is a New Zealander, and the kiwi is the national bird of New Zealand. 
I'll see what I can do, I said, not for one minute thinking you could get a pattern to make a kiwi soft toy.  However only a short search proved me wrong (which I'm very pleased about, because I was wondering how on earth I could MAKE a pattern myself). 
An Etsy shop called Funky Friends Factory has patterns for all kinds of soft toys, including this:
I thought it was rather sweet.
Here's my version, made from pieces of 5 of the baby's first babygrows. 
One side is floral
This side says "Born in 2013"
Underneath I embroidered the baby's name and date of birth.

I think this must rank right up there with one of the strangest things I've ever made, although I do think it's pretty cute. 
What's the strangest thing you've ever made?

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Monday, 7 April 2014

Minerva Crafts Meet Up

Hello there!  I hope you had a good weekend. 
I've got some exciting news to share with you today about a meet up that is being organised by the lovely people at Minerva Crafts.   
It's on 14th June, at the Minerva Craft Centre in Darwen, Lancashire.   You can find out more information about it here
It sounds as if it's going to be a fun day, with a guest speaker in the form of Karen from Did You Make That?, guests from the Great British Sewing Bee, workshops, talks and demonstrations, and of course lots of bloggers from the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.  We'll be showing off some of the creations you've seen us make as part of the network. 
Minerva have also put together a page on their website with details of things to do and see in the local area, in case you fancy making a weekend of it, or if you're bringing a plus one who doesn't fancy spending the whole day talking about crafting. 
I'll certainly be there, and am really looking forward to meeting everyone.   Are you going?  I'd love to see you there! 

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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Wardrobe Architect Week 10 - The Capsule Palette

Last week's exercise on the Wardrobe Architect series had us contemplating our capsule wardrobe silhouettes, now this week we have to decide on a colour palette for our wardrobe.    As suggested I've gone back to the colour palettes I made several weeks ago and come up with this:

I already have some pieces in my wardrobe that fit my silhouette and colour palette; dark coloured slim jeans (and an almost completed pair of Jamie Jeans too! - more about those another day); dull coral trousers and a navy and cream striped jersey maxi skirt.  I also have quite a number of nautical-ish striped jersey tops.  

There are a few gaps to be filled - I mentioned that I have a desire for a red maxi skirt, although another pair of trousers or a knee length skirt might be more practical, and I could do with a few tops that aren't striped.  As much as I love stripes, it would be nice to have a bit of variety. 

The next part of my plan is to play a little Style Sudoko with my wardrobe, as ably detailed by Su of Su Sews So-So this week.  

I'm going on holiday to Ireland mid-May and it would be nice to be able to take a co-ordinated capsule wardrobe along with me, even if I may need to wear my thermals and raincoat with it. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Wardrobe Architect Week 9 - The Capsule Wardrobe

Wow, we're on week 9 of Colette Patterns Wardrobe Architect series already!  The time has flown, and so far I think this exercise has been really beneficial for me. 

Of course, I'm sure at some stage I'm going to be distracted by a pattern or fabric (or RTW garment) just because it's gorgeous, but having participated in the series so far I think I'm now able to make better choices.  I can identify things I love and actually want to wear, as opposed to just things I think are lovely.

Sarah Liz paid me a lovely compliment about the peplum top I posted at the weekend, saying "This top looks so right on you Sam -pattern, colour, style, everything."  Thank you Sarah Liz, your comment made my day!

So, on to this weeks exercise, which is going to be a fun one, to build a capsule wardrobe.   I'm sure you've all heard of capsule wardrobes, some of you may even have one!  I envy you if you do - I have always loved the idea of a capsule wardrobe, but having made some quite eclectic choices with my fabric and clothing purchases, what I actually have is a wardrobe of things that don't mix and match very well.  Time to change that!

The exercise set this week is to review the silhouettes we created a few weeks ago and choose one or more to make the basis of our Spring wardrobe.

I identified 5 silhouettes back in February, and have decided to use the two below as the basis for my Spring wardrobe. 

Surprisingly, you'll see I've gone for separates rather than dresses.  However much I love dresses, separates suit my lifestyle much more, so I'm going to make a concerted effort to include more in my wardrobe. 

I'm planning on making a red maxi skirt to go with the many nautical striped jersey tops already in my wardrobe, and I have plans for one or two pairs of trousers/jeans as well.  In fact I'm about to cut out my first pair of Jamie jeans!

I have several pieces of fabric that will make little sleeveless tops (don't we all!).  What I'd really like is a sewing pattern for a draped cardi similar to the one I've pictured above.  I know I could knit one, but I like them to be quite lightweight, and I don't relish the idea of all that plain stocking stitch with fine yarn on little needles!

Have you ever tried to create a capsule wardrobe?  Any tips you'd like to share?

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Made by Me: Patterned Peplum top

I've been making a real effort to make some separates recently, rather than more dresses, and today I have another top to show you.

I bought this fabric recently at the Knitting and Stitching Show, from the Stitch booth.  It's a medium weight jersey - 100% polyester I think - but it's very light and has lovely drape to it. 

I knew I wanted a top of this shape - I have a plain black woven one in my wardrobe that I love - but I couldn't find a suitable pattern.   However I had recently downloaded the Republique du Chiffon Ludivine dress pattern, and decided to use the top of that for the basis of my peplum top.

To do this I cut the pattern pieces to finish at the waist, then used a 10 inch deep strip of fabric to make the peplum.  This was gathered onto the bottom of the bodice. 

I added some thin elastic to the seam to help it keep it's shape.   Unfortunately I didn't stretch the elastic quite enough when I sewed it on, so the finished seam is a little bit wavy.    The print hides the worst of it, but I decided to add belt loops  so I could wear a belt to cover the seam. 

I added a loop at each of the princess seams and both side seams.  They're positioned just over the waist seam. 

The pattern itself when together really easily, which is good, because the only instructions are in French.  Luckily I didn't need them at all.   The pattern pieces matched up perfectly, and I'd definitely use this pattern again, as the dress it's intended to be.  It's designed for knits but I think with a little adjustment (and a zip) it could work for a woven fabric too. 

I'm really happy with my new top.  Now I just need the lovely warm weather we had the other weekend to return so I can wear it without freezing to death!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Minverva Blogger Project - Crochet Jewellery

For my March Minerva project I decided to go for something completely different.  It’s a much smaller project than my others, but I’m really happy with it.

Inspired by the numerous “statement” necklaces you see everywhere at the moment I decided to crochet myself one.

I decided to use the DMC Pearl Cotton size 5, and then had to narrow down the colours I wanted to use.  There are lots!  In the end I picked three that looked good together (in my opinion!) but that had a high level of contrast.  I wanted each individual element of the necklace to stand out, so you could see the individual shapes as well as the overall shape.

Then I went searching for a motif to use.  Again, there are lots, but I finally settled on this one, which I found on

I modified it slightly after playing around with it as I decided I didn’t want the scalloped edges.  I also tried a couple of different sized crochet hooks and settled on a 2mm one. 

For the larger motifs I made the starting ring, then used rounds 1 to 3 of the pattern, finishing off with a round of single crochet (US terminology) to provide a bit of stability to the edges, as I knew I would be inserting the jump rings into them to link them together.

I made one large motif in each colour, then 2 small motifs in each colour.  The small motifs are just the starting ring and round 1 of the pattern.

Once I’d made these motifs I started playing around with a layout, not sure at this stage if I wanted any more pieces added.  I decided not to add any more, as I didn’t want the finished necklace to be too big. 

This layout looked about perfect to me.

I used small silver jump rings to join the motifs together, making sure that the individual pieces wouldn’t flip over during wear.  In the photo below you can see where I placed the jump rings.

I then used a single jump ring to attach some chain to one side of the necklace and draped it round my neck so I could work out my desired length.  I cut the chain to this length and attached it to the other side with a jump ring.   Then I cut the attached length of chain in half and added a lobster claw clasp to one cut end and a jump ring to the other. 

The chain, jump rings and clasp are included in the kit.

Further experimentation led to me making a coordinating bracelet.

For this I made 3 small motifs in pink and three in jade.  The pink ones then had row 2 of the motif added in blue. 

To join them together I started with a green one and did a single crochet in 8 of the double crochets in the ring, then picked up a pink/blue motif and did a single crochet stitch in 16 of the stitches in the outer round.  Then going back to a green motif I did single crochets in 8 of the double crochet stitches.  I repeated this until I got to the last pink/blue motif, where I did single crochets in 36 stitches around the edge.  I then worked my way back down the other side with 8 stitches in a green motif and 16 in a pink/blue one til I got back to where I started from.

After weaving in the ends I added a single jump ring to one end and a lobster claw clasp to the other.  If you have very small hands you could permanently join the bracelet into a bangle type cuff.  I can just about slip this over my hand without unfastening the clasp.

I can’t wait for the sun to shine so I can put on a nice summery top and wear my new accessories!
If you'd like to make your own crochet jewellery, you can buy the kit here.