A Duo of Lexi's

I'm back today with the other two Named Patterns Lexi tops I mentioned in my last post.  I loved this pattern from the first time I saw it, but I never thought it would be so versatile.  I've now made two dresses and three tops from it, and certainly the tops all look completely different.

The first top I made was this one.


The fabric is some random polyester blend I got on Ebay last year.  I actually bought it with the intention of making a Lexi dress but decided the print might be too overpowering for a dress, so it became a top instead.  I have enough left for a skirt, which I'll definitely make, but almost certainly won't wear with the top.

I started off by making the top exactly as per the instructions, using the wide sleeves even though I was slightly scared they might be TOO wide.  However, I loved them straight away.

What I didn't love however, was the length.  Goodness it was short!  The length might have been OK for someone young and slim with a toned stomach, but definitely not for me.  No one wants to see my stomach exposed.  Luckily I have quite a bit of plain black fabric in my stash at the moment, so I found some of a similar weight to the main fabric and cut myself a hem band which added about 2 and a half inches to the length of the top.  It's still quite short, but it's respectable and with the wider cut I think it would be too shapeless any longer.

I debated adding matching bands to the sleeve hems but I'm glad I didn't.  I love the way the sleeves are exactly the same length as the main part of the body. 

I've only worn this once so far - it's not really warm enough here for a top with elbow length sleeves, and I also need to make a plain black skirt to wear it with. 

My second Lexi top was something completely different, and far more casual. 

The fabric is more of the lovely soft plush backed jersey from Fabric HQ, this time with a star print.  I wanted some to make a cosy top as soon as I saw it.  The dangers of teaching classes at Fabric HQ is that I see new fabric I want every time I go in there!  Luckily for me they'll pay me in fabric if I want.

Again I added a hem band, about 3 inches deep on this one.  This band is actually doubled, which makes it a bit thick, but I still love it.  I added matching bands to the sleeves, ensuring the sleeves were nice and long. I think I've finally got the knack of making sleeves long enough.  I then added a folded neckband, which for once went on perfectly first time.  I read somewhere recently that you need a band that is two thirds the length of the neck opening circumference - I don't know if that is always correct, but it was for this. 

I should have pressed it before taking the photos - the hem band looks a bit lumpy, which it isn't in real life.

This one has been worn several times already, and it is SO cosy.   I can highly recommend this fabric, if nothing else!

Grey Girl

I'm slightly obsessed by two things at the moment (well, two things sewing related anyway - I'm actually obsessed by several non-sewing relating things too!); the Named Patterns Lexi dress/top and free motion embroidery.   In the last few months I've made two Lexi dresses, and three tops based on the pattern.  One dress and two of the tops are yet to be blogged; I need to do a mammoth photo session first. 

This latest project combines my two obsessions.   It's a free motion embroidered sweatshirt based on the Lexi top pattern.

First things first, the fabric.  It's gorgeous, so soft, so cosy.  It's this Marl Grey Soft Jersey from Fabric HQ.  The front side is a lightish marl grey jersey similar to sweatshirting and the back is the softest off-white fleece.  It seriously is incredibly nice to wear. 

The embroidery was based on an illustration from a greetings card, and I did this before I'd sewn the top together. 

I love the way the thicker fabric scrunches up a little bit with the stitching so that it looks really textural.  I applied the fabric parts first and stitched them, then traced the drawing onto thin tissue paper and stitched through this for the areas that don't have fabric in them.  I'll do a tutorial on how I did this soon if anyone is interested.

I made several changes to the pattern for this top.  The original pattern includes long front darts from the hem up to just below the bust.  I omitted these, basically taking enough off each side seam so the front hem was the same width as the back hem, tapering a wedge up to the armhole. This gives the finished top a lovely, swingy slightly A-line shape. 

The other major change I made was to cut the back as two pieces.  I did this for two reasons, firstly to save on fabric and secondly in case I needed to add a little bit of shaping into the back by curving the seam.  I actually didn't need to do this, so the back seam is purely decorative.  I added a line of topstitching to one side of the seam to make it look intentional and to keep the seam allowance in place and lying flat.  I also did this on the shoulder seams. 

When it came to finishing the neck and hem I didn't want anything too thick.  I decided that a neck band and/or hem band wasn't what I wanted, and I didn't want to use a facing on the neckline.  I came up with the idea of binding both neck and hem with bias binding, and was lucky enough to get hold of some Liberty bias binding that was the same print as the fabric I used on the girls top in the embroidery.  I'm pretty pleased with how this worked out. 

Construction wise this was a really easy project.  The majority was made on my overlocker, with just the neck and hem finished on my regular sewing machine.  For the sleeve hems, I just turned under approximately 1.5cm and stitched it with a zigzag stitch on my regular machine.  I'm really pleased I managed to make the sleeves plenty long enough,  I have a habit of making them just a tiny bit too short!

I didn't use the bias binding on the sleeve hems for two reasons; one I wanted them to be able to stretch so I can push the sleeves up if I want to, and two, I didn't have enough bias binding left.  I could have done one sleeve but not the other.

All in all, I'm really pleased with this top.  It's turned out exactly as I imagined (which doesn't always happen, as we know!) and it is so comfortable. 

Miniature Embroidery

Last weekend I had a very productive sewing spree - the most productive I've been for some time - but I haven't had a chance to photograph what I made yet.  I thought I'd share instead a small - and easily photographed - project I completed one evening this week.

It's a very cute miniature embroidery hoop necklace! 

I was given the kit for Christmas by one of my crafty friends (thank you Jo!), the kit is by a company called Dandelyne.  I'm not sure where Jo bought it, but you can get them on Etsy here as well as various other stockists. 

My kit is this one I think, it comes with a 4cm/1.6 inch wooden embroidery hoop, mount and backing piece and a necklace chain.  All you have to do is embroider yourself a tiny picture to put in the hoop.  I used a small piece of linen fabric and some variegated embroidery threads to create tiny flowers.  The flowers themselves are sewn with stem stitch with added French knots for the flower centres and a bit of extra interest.  It really is very cute.

The necklace sits at a perfect length given the size of the finished hoop.

Dandelyne do a couple of other kits with oval hoops, either vertical or horizontal and even a tiny, tiny one inch hoop.  I can't imagine how fiddly it would be to embroider something to fit in a one inch hoop.

Of course, you don't have to embroider a design, you could just mount a lovely piece of fabric, or make an abstract design from tiny buttons or beads, or do a free motion embroidery.  That's what I'm going to try next... I can see a few of these being made as gifts over the coming months. 

Tomorrow I'm off to the second part of my bodice block pattern drafting workshop and I can't wait.  Do you have any sewing or otherwise crafty plans for the weekend?