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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Wardrobe Orphans

God, I hate February. Every year it’s the same. Several months into winter but knowing that there’s several months ahead of you. Everyone’s sick. It’s cold, dreary, grey and you’re constantly getting sent pictures from your brother, who lives in Sydney, of blue skies, blue water, sunshine, beaches and tans.

Ugh.

And this year it doesn’t look like we’re going to get any snow, so there’s not even that fun to look forward to. I really think I was born to live in a place with year round summer - or at least close to it.

Sorry, envious, self-indulgent moan over.

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Anyway, moving on from misery, let’s talk about Wardrobe Orphans. Those loved items of clothing that languish in your closet despite your affection for them because you just can’t decide how, or with what, to wear them.

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Enter this shirt. It’s TPC20 from Trend Patterns (which can be made into a shirt or a dress) in a really lovely striped Bengal cotton shirting from the The Fabric Store online. I absolutely love it. The large statement collar, the wide elbow length sleeves, the huge cuffs, as well as the volume of the shirt. All of which make a big statement and coupled with the dramatic stripe, I think are really striking.

Although, after my wonderful, but perennially and proudly and highly amusingly inappropriate and rude brother-in-law mentioned, it looks like something a referee would wear, I can’t get that image out of my head. This doesn’t help with the below.

The problem is I’m incredibly particular about how colours, silhouettes and styles work together and with this I just don’t know how to wear it.

I think this type of volume on top requires a slimmer or tapered leg. Enter the only pair of pants I have that fit vaguely this description, but then the hem hits me at exactly my widest part and I don’t think looks particularly great.

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To resolve this, I think I might remove the hem-tie and wear it tucked into high-rise pants, but again all my slimmer leg pants are RTW and the supposed high rise is never high enough on me to actually fit the high-rise requirement.

Perhaps greater contrast in colour would also help.

I think, therefore, I need to make some more pants: which, as much as I love making pants is an annoying situation to be in. Having said that I did just order some gorgeous bull denim from Blackbird Fabrics to make the TPC Utility Trousers, again from Trend Patterns. Sophie and Shauni’s versions are totally wonderful.

I also have a plan to make another version of McCalls 7754 View C in black denim (I have a bubblegum pink pair I made in the summer which fit so beautifully but never made it to the blog), so with a proper high rise and tapered leg, we might be in business. Eventually.

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I’m also going to make the dress version of this in the Spring. It’s gorgeous. And won’t require outfit back up.

I’ve a few of Trend’s patterns and I really like her aesthetic. Modern with interesting shapes and details. The instructions aren’t hand-holdy - assuming you have a fairly decent sewing knowledge already - but they are really clear and very easy to follow. The covered placket on this, for example, was a doddle.

The only thing I didn’t love was the sleeve construction. The turn up is made - really cleverly I might add - before the sleeve inseam is stitched which means you end up with the seam running all the way to the end of the sleeve. This in turn means you have to be super precise to ensure you have a smooth line around the end of the sleeve, which is normally avoided by the hem or cuff being stitched as the final stage of the sleeve.

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Due to the sleeves’ wide design this can be seen when waving ones arms around - which is absolutely within my overly expressive, hand gesticulating nature. That all said, with the cuff made the way it is, I’m not sure there would be another way to finish it - or at least I haven’t tried to figure one out.

I have very few Wardrobe Orphans. It makes me happy that I usually get the balance of what I need with what I want to make about right. So I suppose the only solution to this problem is to keep on making things that fill the gaps. Oh well, that will help dispel that February malaise somewhat!

Do you have wardrobe orphans?

How would you wear this shirt?

See you soon x

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Ruffles

Do you ever think there are a finite number of silhouettes and styles? 

For me it seems that fashions have exhausted themselves.  There doesn't seem to be anywhere to go to create ground-breaking women's clothing.  All bases have been covered. So the only way to appease the questionable "need" for something different each season, is to go back to previous decades and find ways to make those fashions more palatable for now. 

I'm pretty sure that 10 years ago, if you'd have asked anyone if 80s fashion would be resurrected, they'd have shuddered and thanked all the things that there seemed zero chance of that happening.  Yet, as we are aware, we are well and truly in the midst of a huge 80s throwback; wide shoulders, neon, high waisted trousers, dungarees, high necked shirts, turtle necks, culottes, and: All. The. Ruffles.

And I have to say, that whilst I have no desire to repeat the shocking pink polka dotted ra-ra skirt with shoulder padded cropped jacket of my pre-teens, I really like the refined 80s details that are on trend right now. However long that may last for. See I don't hate fashion, I'm just intrigued by the way in which current trends draw on prior ones. I suppose this is like fine art or music - all good creative things must take inspiration from somewhere.

Aaaaannnyway.

I have never in my life worn ruffles. After the ra-ra skirt aberration, I was generally attired in a such a way that, combined with my height and then lack of curves, I was the girl who periodically, and to my horror, got mistaken for a fella. Pink ruffles were categorically NOT entertained.

But now they are.

This confection of a blouse is Simplicity 4122 which I got from Christine Haynes' destash earlier this year. It is very very similar to the Republique du Chiffon Suzon shirt, which I kind of prefer but when you snap up a pattern for a dollar, you kind of feel you ought to stick to it.  The main differences with this are the mandarin collar, the lack of bust darts and the way in which the ruffle is dealt with where it joins the placket. There are also various variations, some with sleeves - this is View F. 

I made a muslin, as I regularly do with tops, which resulted in a few minor changes. I did a forward shoulder adjustment, as well as lengthening the shoulder seam and placing the back pattern pieces quarter of an inch from the fold to accommodate my broad shoulders. And then design wise, I made the ruffle deeper as I wanted more of a statement - more like this. I didn't add to the bodice length as I normally would as I liked the slight cropped look.

I have worn it a lot since I finished it in July but realise looking at these pictures there are some issues.  I used red and white striped cotton (that looks pink) voile (I think?) and a white rayon challis to line the yoke. I obviously stretched the latter whilst sewing as the whole yoke pulls out of shape around the neck. I also failed to take into account, when widening the ruffle, about button placement, so the button that meets the ruffle had to be stitched on top of it. I am pretty sure the bottom of the placket lines up but it doesn't appear to in these photos.

And the rolled hem on the ruffle.  

Oh. My. Word.  What a total pain in the backside that was.  I decided to try and use a rolled hem foot which I've used once before when it worked like a dream.  

This did not. At all. Shouting and throwing things might have happened.

I will here on in revert to my foolproof rolled hem method.

The things I do like? The immaculate (!) bias binding I did on the armholes, the neat collar, and the 90 degree points on the top of the placket.  I've finally realised that trimming and poking through does not a neat corner make. But folding and pressing the excess along the seamline at the corner and using that to push the corner out gets a much better result - I discovered that here a while ago, but it took me a while to get the knack of it.

I haven't had a single nice comment about this and I get some funny looks when wearing it, but despite all of that, I like it.

I think I'll make it again, but in a more dynamic, less saccharine colour/ print, lengthening it through the chest a little and perhaps adding darts to remove some of the excess fabric around the bust. Or I could just bite the bullet and buy Suzon ...

So my first foray into ruffles, whilst not an unbridled success, is positive and I already have a second ruffly pattern in the offing. And I think ruffles have come far enough that I can ignore the comments about Spandau Ballet that my husband makes, as those of a person who is not at all, even remotely, fashionly clued up. Love him.

See you soon x