Stylemaker Fabrics + Carolyn Pajamas + M7907 = Ace

Earlier this year, Michelle from Stylemaker Fabrics contacted me asking if I would like to be part of a blog tour. The tour showcases Stylemaker’s new Spring fabric collection. Given the wonderful selection, how could I pass this offer up? There is such an array of colours, prints, types that I was pretty overwhelmed by choice. i decided on a gorgeous coral stretch denim, which I had high hopes of turning into a boiler suit, but there was serious demand for it so I was pipped to the post by others on the tour, dammit!

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So I had a bit of a rethink and was really taken with this leafy rayon crepe. It is such a lovely, fun print, the softest fabric imaginable and completely opaque. I knew straight away that I wanted to make a blouse rather than a dress, so I asked Michelle if she had any navy twill for some trousers that would go with this. It wasn’t in the Spring collection she had shown us, but she kindly sent me this gorgeous stuff. It is a pretty hefty twill in a lovely French navy and was an absolute dream to work with. It’s almost denim weight and holds the pleats and shape of these trousers really well.

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I’ve been wanting to make the Closet Case Patterns Carolyn Pyjamas top as a blouse for a while. I saw a girl wearing a tropical print blouse similar to this style with jeans last summer and it looked just ace, so this seemed the perfect fabric to try it out on.

I made some alterations which included squaring off the hem and straightening the side seams. I also lengthened the sleeves by a couple of inches.

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As with all Heather’s patterns the construction of this is really clever and I like the fact that she found a way to omit a back facing which can be so flappy and difficult to get to lie flat.

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I think perhaps because this is one of Closet Case’s earlier patterns the instructions were a little unclear at times but I got it in the end and am really pleased with the result.

One change I made to the order of construction was to make buttonholes and attach buttons prior to sewing the hem. Whilst this makes the finishing the hem at the facings a little fiddly, it ensures that the plackets line up at the hem, which I’ve had issues with in the past. The crepe was a little slippy and my stitching was a bit loose and wonky. That said it was pretty easy to work with - especially when I remembered that my machine has a fine fabrics foot pressure setting. *Eye roll*

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I really wanted some pleated tapered leg pants for the twill. I was on the hunt for something a little slimmer leg than what I ended up sewing, but was mooching around on the McCalls website and came across these. I was really intrigued by the seam just below the knee which creates the taper.

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I think they walk a fine line between fun and interesting, and clown pants. Finally I decided the shape wasn’t that different to Pattern Fantastique’s Terra Pants, which I have made before and love, so I could overcome my clown pants feelings - even though an instagram poll on the subject was pretty much straight 50 / 50.

I did consider straightening the leg a little but that would have been a little complicated as the bottom section is a semi-circular piece that only has one seam compared to the two seams of the upper leg. And I, lazily, couldn’t be bothered to figure it out. The pattern is M7907 View B.

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I have one major gripe with McCalls patterns. It is so frustrating when the patterns are sold in two different size brackets, as my top half fits the smaller size and my waist and hips in the larger. I’ve made the mistake of getting the larger size in the past which are just too big in the bust which is so much harder to alter. So it means I have to grade up the smaller version myself in the areas where needed, where normally I would just blend between sizes on the same pattern.

I understand that the larger sizes need a different block to the smaller sizes, but surely they could still be included in the same packet?

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As such I had to make a few fit changes, which is fine, it’s just grading can be a little daunting. I cut the largest size in this packet - the 14 - and added a quarter inch to each side seam at the waist and blending it to the 14 hip line therefore adding a total of 1 inch to the circumference. I didn’t add to the hips, which I normally do, because there is a lot of ease. I added 1 inch to the back rise and half an inch at the front, tapering to nothing at the centre front. I’ve finally found my perfect crotch adjustment! I also added an inch to the upper leg. I am thrilled with the fit and absolutely love how the fabric responds to the design.

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The only change I made to the construction was to add a facing to the inside of the pocket. They are inseam pockets which is OK, but I don’t like when you can see the lining fabric. So for the rear pocket section I added an inch or so wide facing to prevent this. I think it looks so much neater. (She says patting herself on the back!)

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I also had really good results with the fly. I have really struggled to find a fly zip tutorial that gives me the kind of finish I want, and I have tried many, and controversially this Big Four method was simple and gives a really nice finish.

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I love these fabrics and I love the garments. I’m not sure I’ll wear them together as much as separately as it feels a bit matchy-matchy and the blouse could tend a bit middle-aged (which I am, although I try very hard to pretend that I’m not). But the blouse with stonewash jeans and the pants with a skinny top or tee, would be some nice alternatives.

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And the major bonus to all of this is that I have enough of the crepe left to make an Ogden Cami, which will be so pretty.

I was so pleased to be asked to be involved and end up with two garments in such interesting and qulaity fabrices, that I’ll really enjoy wearing in the spring and early summer - before it gets so hot that sleeves and trousers are unthinkable.

There are lots of other gorgeous fabrics on the Stylemaker site, so go check them out.

Elizabeth from Pins and Pinot is next on the tour - see what she got up to tomorrow!

Thank you Michelle for the wonderful fabric!

See you soon x

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Happy New Year Helmut!

New year, new me, new resolutions, new positivity ... really? Happy New Year!

Do you break yourself in gently to the new year? Do you take time to recover from the previous year, wrap yourself up and slowly put your head above the parapet of the new year to see what might be out there?

Or are you an all guns blazing, let's grab this year by the balls and start as we mean to go on type; resolutions, new projects already underway, clear action list, the previous year dusted off your shoulders like dandruff and a bright shiny face looking to all the possibility that awaits over the next 12 months?

I am keen to be in the latter camp, but find myself firmly in the former. By mid-way through December I'm usually desperate for a new year, to feel energised and find a new productivity. I'm trying very hard, but the shocks of 2016 linger and as I can't and don't want to break the continual loop of 'Listen without Prejudice' on Spotify, it's proving a little hard to be all go for 2017.

I haven't sewn a stitch in 2017 so far, but that's ok, I'm trying not to give myself a hard time but instead to enjoy the fruits of my pre-Christmas sewing extravaganza and slowly working up the energy to get sewing the things I planned in the autumn.

I may also have fallen down a huge Gilmore Girls rabbit hole. All seven seasons in six weeks. In my defense there were a few days of flu-induced all day TV sessions in there but I still think it merits some kind of sad medal. Now I have overcome that addiction I can move on and embrace 2017.

Anyway let's get to the sewing. This coat is my favourite item from the Pre-Christmas Sewing Bonanza. It's my take on a $1,200 Helmut Lang pale pink cashmere coat that I tried on in Saks a while ago; wryly smiling when the assistant asked if she should put it on hold for me; brain jumping straight to pattern and fabric options to recreate it.

It took a while to hunt down some fabric but I eventually saw Lauren from Guthrie & Ghani's Clare Coat made in the perfect not quite blush, not quite pink, not brown wool melton and after an agonizing (because fabric of course induces such intense emotions) wait to see if they could source any more - they had sold out by the time I got round to checking out their site - I was the proud owner of two large remnants for a tenth of the cost of the Helmut Lang beauty. Not cheap but coats aren't and wool shouldn't be. 

As an aside, I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Suzann, and this post about how her clothes are priced and the pricing of clothing in general is 100% on point.

I used The Maker's Atelier Raw Edged Unlined Coat pattern as the base for Helmut, adding a total of 8 inches width across the back by slashing and spreading from shoulder seam to hem. I added an inch to the collar depth, 4 inches to the sleeve width at the cuff (I could definitely have added more - although as it is I keep getting the sleeves caught on door handles ... ) and then taking the five inches off the hem that I added to my previous iteration to balance out the volume. I also made larger pockets, using the pattern piece from my beloved Burda coatigan affairs and contrast topstitching finished it off.

It was an easy make from a lovely and very adaptable pattern. I absolutely love the result and feel beyond stylish wearing it.

Annoyingly, my timing as always is rubbish as clearly it is now far too cold in NYC to wear an unlined coat, but over Christmas in a milder England, it was perfect. I took to wearing a RTW scuba bomber jacket underneath it which definitely helps make it more wearable in the cold. I have plans to recreate the stunning petrol blue velvet bomber I saw on The Maker's Atelier Instagram feed to wear under it as well. The colour combination would make my heart so happy.

This is about the fifth coat or jacket I've made in the last year or so. I have at least two more planned. I'm not really sure why. I have a ridiculous amount of coats, but there is something so satisfying about making them - not least I think due to the lack of detailed fitting involved and the sheer amount of wear they get. 

But the ultimate coat I want to make needs to be a beast as NYC for the next few months will be perishing. I have sub-standard circulation and get super cold which I hate, but I also hate the ubiquitous black quilted down jacket that I have taken to wearing. Why when it's this cold does style have to go out of the window? Is it possible to create a coat with the warmth and practicality of the dowdy down affair but with the style created by coats such as Helmut?

I have a dream of a notched collared, furry woolen, dark blue teal, just-above-ankle length coat that is secretly underlined with down and lined with fake fur. Or something.

We shall see.

In the meantime, I will be loving on Helmut at every above-freezing opportunity.

I hope the start to 2017 has been good for you, more productive than mine and that the year brings much happiness.

See you soon x

Outfit (admittedly an amalgamation of the mass production of US and UK stores - which I'm not über-thrilled about):

  • Jeans: Gap

  • Shirt: Cos

  • Boots: M&S