Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Nelly the Elephant in Tilly and the Buttons Margot PJ Bottoms


Welcome to my boudoir! Apologies for these very silly photos. It's hard to take yourself seriously when trying to lounge casually on a bed...

So, in the midst of my previously mentioned teething problems with my overlocker I decided that I wanted a really simple make. I hadn't formally committed to making the Margot PJ bottoms as part of this year's sewing plan, but I've had this elephant-print fabric for ages and had bought it with pyjamas in mind, so when a friend's overnight hen do came up I decided now would be to time to get cracking with it! They are a little light for this time of year- definitely more suited towards summer, and I have to confess they wrinkle up pretty badly but it's unlikely that I'll be bothered to iron them for regular wear – but they did get a press for you, dear reader. I've also got a full face of slap on which isn't how I'd normally hit the hay, other than the rare really late night out when I've crashed straight out without washing my face... It made me think about all those silly dramas on TV where the female characters always go to bed with a pristine face of make-up on.

I've made the Margot PJ bottoms once before for a work Secret Santa, but as I had to churn them out pretty quickly I never had a chance to get a snap, and I never outed myself as the creator to the person I made them for so don't have a a picture of them on anyone either! Anyway they were very quick and easy to come together, and I confess I didn't make things any more difficult for myself and avoided pattern matching. The only thing I changed was to use a piece of 1” wide elastic attached to some grey ribbon for the waistband instead of making waist ties from self-fabric. The ribbon is a suggested alternative, but The DIY Fox has been going through Tilly's book at the moment so I took the elastic tip from her- it definitely feels more secure and comfortable, especially for my swayback.

If I made these again I'd maybe scoop out or deepen the crotch curve a little more as although these fit OK they could be a bit looser over the old rotund rump. I also didn't do the neatest job of folding over the waistband and topstitching – in Tilly's instructions you stitch from the inside (presumably because the pattern is aimed at proper beginners) but I wanted to topstitch so the stitches would look better, but I didn't mark a stitching line first so there are a few wobbles as I was freestyling the line a bit.

I was planning on making the Bowling Shirt from the Great British Sewing Bee Book 2 to match these but ran out of time. I may still do this, but wanted to check and see if anyone else in the blogosphere had made one as I have had a couple of issues with the other patterns in the book in the past – the poor armscye drafting on the Men's shirt to be precise- so wanted to avoid any potential headaches if possible! It hasn't cropped up in any searches so far, but if any readers have feedback it'd be gratefully received.

I've been sewing up a storm over the Easter weekend so will hopefully get some nice photos up of my new dresses soon! Hope you had a good one if you celebrated, or a nice break if you didn't!

NorseOtter xx

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Faux Dress Matching Set

Hi there!

I'm back with yet another Gertie Sews Vintage casual pencil skirt. This is a look ripped off from the vision I had for Josephine's matching set that I made last year, but instead of making one of the variations of the Sweetheart Top I went with the Pin-Up Sweater.

This outfit is a wearable muslin really as this project was just an extension of me getting to know my overlocker with some easy projects, so I used some fabric leftover from the Hackney Checks Lady Skater Dress, which is still very much a wardrobe staple of mine.

The pencil skirt of course came together pretty quickly and easily- this is the fourth time I've made this skirt now! The check matching is OK, but I think maybe I let the overlocker get control over me on one of the side seams, as if you were to compare you can tell by the check spacing it's not totally even. I don't really mind on a project like this as the stakes are low when you're playing with leftovers, and actually this skirt is a pretty snuggly and easy to wear winter basic. I did however manage to make sure the central check runs through from top to skirt, so that's a plus. 

The pin-up sweater is a go at one of the variations- the cropped seater, but I decided to add a neckband. The length hasn't turned out very cropped on me, so if I had a go again I might take off another inch or two, especially if it were to be worn with a flared skirt, but as this version is to go with a pencil skirt it looks OK if not ideal- the band falls on my widest rather than narrowest part! Fit-wise it's not great either, I reckon lowering the armholes and adding a little more room to the bust and to the sleeves would be a lot more flattering for a second version if I made it again, plus a swayback alteration. It being a bit tight and right up in my armpits is a little uncomfortable, but the stretch makes it just about wearable.

So, in some senses I like this combo – it's not exactly as chic as I was envisaging, but my boyfriend keeps thinking it's a dress which is kind of cool. There's something about ithe top that kind of reminds me of '70s gym wear, I think it's the tight sleeves and arm bands. I salvaged the ribbing for the arm bands from one of those foldover waistband skirts that were quite popular in the early noughties. I had a couple even though they're very unflattering on my figure and could easily be mistaken for maternity wear! Here's the original skirt- I've kept the floaty layers to potentially provide some kind of petticoat beneath a skirt or ethereal summer dress. We'll see!

All in all while not a total win on the wearability front, a worthwhile muslin in that it cost me nothing as all materials were in my stash or in the refashion pile. It also really helped with getting to grips with the overlocker- everything (even attaching the sleeves in the round!) was made on it, although there was a short period of grief when I snapped one of the needles trying to go through three layers at once to make the neckband (I attached the lazy way of just doubling over the band and sewing directly onto the raw edge as I didn't fancy messy around between two machines to do any topstitching with the twin needle). The replacing needle experience, plus changing the thread cones to replace the white thread that comes with the machine to black thread for this project has now fixed the sightly awkward order of threading in my mind (after a few hiccups!).

Hope you're having a good weekend!

Norseotter xxx

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Spring Back into Action: Plantain Tee, Gertie Sews Vintage Casual Pencil Skirt and Vogue 1959 Rose(less) Cardigan

Hi folks,

So that ended up being a rather long hibernation! It's been a busy start to the year; I turned 30 and threw a 150th birthday bash with my parents, who were both turning 60 within weeks of me, and many of my friends are winter babies with significant birthdays too, and last night one of my best friends got married- it seems like it's been non-stop!

However, as usual, while I haven't got around to blogging, I have been sewing. It's been at a bit of a slower pace- and I confess to feeling 'creative withdrawal' at a few points when I hadn't had a good fix or got properly into the sewing zone because of everything that's been going on. I've also been getting to grips with my new overlocker- I love it now but we had a bit of a rocky start to our relationship – in the first few projects I managed to snap the blade going over a pin and break a needle going through too many layers of fabric, as well as fiddling with the settings for ages as the chain seems to have trouble coming off the stitch fingers when you first start sewing. Careful pinning, a more considered sewing pace and lots of tension tests seem to have sorted my problems though, and I'm merrily putting it to work on all my projects.

I've been pretty good so far this year at using up what I have and more or less sticking to the plan I made for myself. This is the very first thing I made with my new overlocker- a Deer and Doe Plantain made with some old jersey from my mum's stash- so it's probably about as old as me! As the jersey is a weird coffee/ nude colour I decided it would be perfect for my first go, as I wasn't sure it'd really be a colour I could wear without looking a bit indecent. However I don't think it's turned out too bad- although I did have to cut the short sleeves and on the cross grain as I didn't have quite enough. The whole thing is constructed with the overlocker except the hems, which I did with my twin needle, and it was attaching the neck binding that made my overlocker blade come a cropper! I find pins essential for accuracy, particularly with fiddly things like bindings, but now I'm a bit more used to how the overlocker works I know to whip them out of the way of the blade in time!

It's not a super-exciting make on its own, so I've snapped it with a previously unblogged Gertie Sews Vintage Casual Pencil Skirt made up in a rockabilly tattoo-print scuba. I made this back in September I think, and it's had plenty of wear- so much so that the hips are starting to pill a bit! I still have a fair bit of this fabric left though so can easily make a replacement if needed. This skirt has become my go-to when I want to make something but don't want to faff with fitting- it's so quick and easy and instantly wearable.

I'm also wearing my birthday present from my mum- a vintage Rose Cardigan pattern from Vogue 1959. The cover art shows the cardigan in a lovely soft pink with embroidered roses which I really like, but I wanted a basic black vintage-style cardigan as a staple, so all the fancy features were dropped. It's got everything I love style-wise though- a nice round neck, nipped-in waist and 3/4 length sleeves, and is semi-fitted to look neat but allow a bit of layering. It's made in snuggly alpaca so has a subtle sheen to it too. In the past my mum has made me some wonderfully quirky novelty design vintage sweaters which I love, and I think she found it hardgoing making something that didn't really stretch her technique-wise and was all in black to boot. Anyway, if you want to read more about how it came together you can find her write-up over on Ravelry, she's Knichet and has a massive showcase of fancy and vintage knitting. 

As the weather has finally picked up a bit I've managed to find enough daylight to photograph a few of the other makes during my 'hibernation period', so I'll be back on the blogging wagon for the foreseeable. Thanks for reading!

NorseOtter xxx