The Big Easy Top

Need a quick sewing fix? Like, the quickest sewing fix? That doesn’t involve pesky stretch fabrics?

Can I make a suggestion?

Get yourself The Big Easy Top pattern from The Makers’ Atelier and some boiled wool.

Better yet, get yourself the kit, then you don’t even have to think about fabric, or thread. It just all arrives at your door and approximately half an hour later you have a warm, chic, beautifully drafted sweater to add to your winter wardrobe. And you won't have to knit it!

In my case it was a year and half an hour, because despite the fact this is the quickest and most satisfying make ever, it sat at the bottom of my sewing list last winter and then it was Spring and who wants to sew wool in the Spring.

(This is the second item I have made from this line of patterns - the first being this coat.)

Normally I’m not that bothered by how quickly I can sew something, but when my sewjo is on the wane, I need something quick and satisfying to enable me to tackle those dungarees I’ve had loitering for a few weeks. 

So, I made up the funnel neck version. This involves two shoulder seams and two side / underarm seams, a couple of tacks to hold the collar in place and sewing in a label so I don’t wear it backwards. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

The wool is beautiful quality, its not scratchy although not as soft as I’d prefer, but I think that goes with the territory with boiled wool.

I made a couple of minor alterations; a forward shoulder adjustment and I stitched down my seam allowances, because I like the detail and I wasn’t sure how the wool would react to my iron. Oh and my iron has gone the route of the three irons I’ve had in the last three years. That is to say the automatic turn off gets fed up with my reliance on it and turns the thing off permanently. So I couldn’t iron it even if I had wanted to.

Whether you iron it or not, this glorious pattern is smart, is warm and is oh so quick.

See you soon x

(ps: nothing going on here other than I’m a huge fan of the patterns by The Makers Atelier and feel I should spread the word about their hugely wearable chic simplicity.)

The wonderfully alliterative Liberty Linden

So 2016 hasn't quite started with the productive, organised, positive focus I’d hoped.  Sickness, getting used to living in a new space, utter exhaustion and broken bones have taken all my focus and exacerbated my total creative apathy. I often find January a difficult month and that manifests itself in an inability to do anything other than getting my head down to get through the day and then vegetating on the sofa watching mindless crap in the evenings.  And repeat until February. 

I hate it, it’s such a waste of time and life, and I particularly hate it when my obsessive social media lurking demonstrates how the new year has energized seemingly everyone else, and the collective creative output appears phenomenal.

So thank goodness for the wonder of community sewing in the form of sewing club, which meant I had to actually sew something.  

Something simple and quickly gratifying was most definitely required; and fortunately thanks to some stellar advice from a lovely sewing InstaFriend I had a Mean Reds Sewing Project already cut out for just such an occasion. A Liberty Linden.  I have had this ready to sew pretty much since I got back from the UK in September where I had spent a happy afternoon in the good ship Liberty.  

I love the store; the furniture, jewellery and bag departments in particular, but I’m not really a big Liberty fabric fan.  The lawn is dreamily soft and the prints are so pretty; too pretty for me.  And to be honest when I lived in London I never bought Liberty as I, potentially controversially, thought it overpriced; if I’m going to pay those prices I’d rather have silk …

Yet there is something about being away from home and not being able to pop into Liberty after work that made me want to bring a piece of something quintessentially English back to Brooklyn with me.  Also the peacock colours of this particular sweatshirt stuff are too spectacular not to love, no matter how much of a Liberty cynic one is.  And the thickness and softness is lovely - if one overlooks the poly content.  Ouch, can you tell I’m grumpy?

It was expensive but given how much I have worn this since I made it - I think the cost per wear is going to be pretty favourable.

This is the third Linden I’ve made but the first that isn’t cobbled together from scraps.  The fabric is utterly perfect for it.  It doesn’t have a huge amount of stretch so I thought it was going to be a little small, but it fits great and I like the slightly snugger fit for a sweatshirt and where it falls on my hipline.  It looks less slobby. I think I cut a 10 and then added length to the sleeve and body.

Since I made this I had more crises of making confidence but then during the epic snowstorm that deposited 26 inches of snow on NYC last Saturday, I made from nowhere two pairs of leggings, another Inari and a pair of sweatpants for my daughter so she has something respectable to wear over her cast in the cold.  

The corner, it appears, has been turned.  Onward 2016.

See you soon x


Sewing by numbers

People often kindly remark 'how creative' when I mention that I made what I'm wearing myself.  I feel a bit uncomfortable about this.  I consider myself a moderately creative person and there are some immensely creative people in the sewing world, but when I've simply found a pattern, put it with some fabric I like and followed some instructions, it feels more like the sewing equivalent of painting by numbers than a truly imaginative creative process. 

See what I've done with the pose here?

These trousers embody that sentiment.  Whilst I'll admit that having a vision of an item of clothing or an outfit and being able to make it from scratch does fall into the bracket of creative endeavours, these trousers, in fact this whole outfit, are pure ready-to-wear rip off.

Image from  The Daily Look   

Image from The Daily Look  

I'm not sure how I stumbled across this (duh, Pinterest), but I saw the above picture and completely fell in love with everything about the outfit: The loose silhouette, the colour palette, the baggy pants with statement florals, the mix of florals and stripes, the layering.  Everything (well except the slightly trashy shoes). 

So after not being able to get it out of my head for a few days I started summoning supplies to see if I could emulate it and this is what I came up with.

I really like these trousers; they are comfortable, the fabric is the right amount of floral without being twee or overpowering (I'm looking at you neon neoprene party dress) and I like the super high waist, the pleats and (mostly) how they fit.  I added an inch and half to the crotch depth and probably could have done with less. (Note for next time as I'd love to make a cropped pair in the summer.)  And added three inches to the length (of the version with cuffs - but didn't cuff them). Other than that no pattern alterations, although I did consider adding welt pockets to the back, but as I've never done them before and I had no excess fabric, I didn't want to risk a bodge job.  So welt pockets saved for another day. 

The tee was also made by me to replicate this look and gets worn all the time.  It's a lovely lightweight cotton knit using Grainline's Scout Tee - which I've adapted before (here) but never made straight out of the packet and I love it.  The neckline, fit across the shoulders and loose style are perfect and so comfortable for everyday wear.  I love the idea of layering it over a shirt, although it looks a bit odd without the jacket it has to be said.

Whilst I was hoping with the layering I could wear the trousers this winter, they are totally impractical for my day-to-day life: they need to be worn with heels, they're not very warm and I trip over them a lot.  Perfect for marching 15 blocks through the snow pushing a double stroller ...  

So; impractical, sewn by numbers and a total rip off of someone else's idea. Just like most of the stuff on the high street. Oh well, at least they're better made, I don't have sweatshops on my conscience and they fit me. 

Outfit details.  

Tee: grey stripe fine cotton knit from Mood using Grainline Studio's Scout Tee pattern.

Jacket: I was going to make one using Republique du Chiffon's Bernadette pattern, but I already have one white jacket in my closet, I don't really need another, so I ditched that idea.  This is from Zara, more than a few years ago.

Shirt: Pale denim also from Zara a few years back, (without being a total sycophant, I'd use Grainline's Archer if I was going to go all out and make the whole outfit).

Trousers: Pattern is Vogue 8836 and the fabric is a lovely drapey rayon challis from Harts Fabric. (I haven't sewn with rayon challis before and now I get why everyone raves about it.  But I'm confused as it's not something I've come across in the UK - is it known by another name?  Viscose??)

Shoes: Ridiculously high stack heels from Hobbs in the UK. 

See you soon x