Working Wiksten Shifts

Long time no see… let’s talk about the Wiksten Shift. A super simple shift dress or top from Wiksten top, I’ve seen it pop up all over instagram over the past few months so I thought I’d give it a try.

The Fabric.

I’ve made three versions so far:

1. Rust Atelier Brunette double gauze (from Sew Me Sunshine)

2. Navy cotton/linen (from New Craft House)

3. Grey cotton/linen (from New Craft House)

All of these fabrics worked, but the cotton/linen blends give the dress much more structure.

I only had 1.5m of the double gauze, 1.3m of the navy and 1.1m of the grey (the latter two were remnants). I cut all three on the flat and just about managed to squeeze the pattern pieces in!

The Pattern.

The question’s inevitably on the tip of your tongue… Is it true to size? Did you size down?

I cut the size based on my measurements (size 0 at bust and waist, size 2 at hip), but I used a 1.5cm instead of 1cm seam allowance. It’s a boxy dress, so it’s meant to have a lot of ease so bear that in mind when you’re picking your size.

The Make.

This is such a simple and quick pattern. I made a midi for the rust version and above the knee versions for the cotton/linen mixed.

The only hack I did to the pattern was swap the back gathers to box pleats – mostly because I was lazy and couldn’t be bothered to gather!

The Verdict.

Would I make this again? Yes, I already have – three versions!

How long did it take to make? Each version… probably less than a day from cutting out to hemming.

Soundtrack? Jack Whitehall’s Travels with my Father for the cotton/linen mix versions (I batch sewed those two), and Dear White People Season 3 for the rust cotton gauze version. Both great 👍🏼

Hasty Holly Jumpsuit

We’ve all had that time as sewists when we have a new party go to and absolutely nothing suitable! Last year, I got a last minute ticket to the New Craft House’s Christmas party, with the theme ‘All That Glitters’ and left myself only a few evenings to sew something suitable – a recipe for disaster surely?

The Pattern.

After the Sewing Weekender last year, I said I wanted to make a jumpsuit. Why not make your first jumpsuit with next to no time for a public event with loads of other sewists? Perfect right? No pressure at all…

I already had the paper version of the By Hand London Holly Jumpsuit. When I bought it, I didn’t think the strappy/trouser version was my style – it just goes to show how styles change!

The Fabric.

I used two different fabrics for my jumpsuit… for the trousers and the base of the bodice I used a viscose twill from Sew Over It which I already had in my stash.

I then bought some sparkly net from John Lewis to layer over the bodice. I try to buy fabrics from shops which have a focus on ethical fabric sourcing first and foremost; then I look to independent shops (not that these two things are mutually exclusive). Basically I try to avoid buying from big brands – support the little guy, you know? Unfortunately in this case, I couldn’t find what I needed in the time I had available – so John Lewis saved me in my time of need!

For the straps, I took a trip to MacCulloch and Wallis to look at all their trims and picked a sparkly silver cord. If you’re ever at a loose end in London, you must go there – it’s a treasure trove of haberdashery.

The Make.

Overall, this was quite a tricky make, not because of the pattern itself but the silver net. It was an absolute nightmare to sew with! I basted each net bodice piece to each twill bodice piece so I treated them as one. Whilst that helped, it was so fiddly and my machine did not take kindly to having to sew the slippery mesh!

Worst of all was inserting the invisible zip – again, the word ‘tricky’ comes to mind. I ended up with a bit of a bubble at the end, which try as I might, I could not get rid of. Oh well, it was only really noticeable to me (I hope!).

I hacked the pattern so that I could have tie straps instead. Sure, you might think this was motivated by style… but no, really I find it’s so much easier to fit strappy dresses/tops/jumpsuits with tie straps so you can adjust later on if needed. Really useful if you’re lacking in time!

I also added a bit of ribbon round the middle – I had a panic as I was nearing the end that my outfit wasn’t glittery enough!

The Verdict.

I’m really pleased with how this make turned out.. for my first jumpsuit, I think it was pretty good! My one issue with it (apart from the zip!) is I’ve only worn it once. That’s probably my problem not having fancy events to go though – must sort that out!

Happy Hannah

You know sometimes you see a pattern and you think it probably won’t suit you and/or you might not have many occasions to wear it, but you just have to make it? Well for me that’s the Hannah dress from By Hand London.

When I first saw this pattern pop up, I loved the silhouette, the wrap design and the multiple sleeve options. However I wasn’t sure about the low v-neck (potentially not worksuitable) or the full skirt. But I loved the pattern anyway, and needed to give it a go!

The Fabric.

I found some green and white organic cotton in Wheeler Fabrics in Machynlleth, and sort of (read: completely) fell in love with it. I wanted to buy 2.5m so I could make long sleeves, but the shop sadly only had 80cm! So in love with this fabric was I that I bought it anyway – my back-up was to use it to make draw string produce bags. Fortunately I didn’t need to resort to that!

The cotton is a little see-through so I lined the bodice with brown cotton voile, which worked a treat.

The Pattern.

The Hannah dress comes with multiple versions, which is excellent but they’re all so lovely it makes it very difficult to choose!

I went for the top version and the normal sleeves, mostly due to my lack of fabric. Cutting the pattern on the flat (rather than the fold) meant I could cut the bodice front and back and sleeves pretty easily, and I had a long rectangle for the ruffle/peplum.

To note, I can’t see the amount of fabric for the top anywhere on the instructions – I think ideally I’d have bought 1.5m for a top version, but it’s amazing what you can do by cutting on the flat!

I made the straight UK size 6 which was my measurements in the bust (I was between sizes 6 and 8 in the waist, and 10-12 for hip). I was tempted to grade between sizes but given the ease based on finished measurements, I risked it (and fortunately it paid off!).

I did cut out the waist ties in the green cotton but turning them through ended up being so fiddly due to the open weave of the fabric, I switched them out for some ribbon I had in my stash.

The Make.

Overall, this is a pretty quick sew. The neckline is designed to be finished with bias binding but because I lined the bodice, I just sewed it right sides together along the neckline and under stitched the lining. Even if my fabric wasn’t sheer, I think I’d still line the bodice in the future – it makes such a clean finish.

A couple of other diversions from the instructions… I sewed the sleeves in the round rather than the flat because it made more sense with the lining.

The only other thing I did differently to the instructions was basically wing it with the skirt/ruffle. I didn’t have enough fabric to follow the pattern to a tee so I just gathered the rest of the fabric and attached it to the finished bodice. In an ideal world, I would’ve had more fabric to make a more gathered peplum but the fabric gods weren’t smiling on me when I got to that fabric roll after the rest of North Wales!

The Verdict.

I really love how this turned out. Part of me was worried I’d look like I was part of the cast of Oliver! (brown and green colour scheme.. amiright). I think I might have just got away with it though!

Would I make this again?

100%. I need to make the big long sleeved version ASAP.

Let’s address my original concerns… it is pretty low in the front but I figure I’ll make a lacy Ogden cami to wear underneath it to make it work appropriate.

And the silhouette – I love how the top version worked out, and I think I will definitely have to try out the dress to see if it works for me. I can see less fabric/fewer gathers in the waist working well.

Soundtrack?

All the Grey’s Anatomy. My obsession is verging on worrying.

Zippy Zadies

After the Sewing Weekender last year, I made an ambition to a) put my face in more pics, and b) make a jumpsuit. Well now I’ve made 4!

The gorgeous Holly Jumpsuit by By Hand London, a New Look N6616 and two Zadie Jumpsuits by Paper Theory. So enamoured by my Zadies I then hacked it into a dress. Here’s the story of my three Zadies…

The Pattern.

The Zadie Jumpsuit by Paper Theory is super popular in the online sewing community, so if you haven’t come across it before, welcome. It’s great. What a fabulous pattern. The perfect mix of stylish and comfortable, I reckon the Zadie is a firm wardrobe fave for many, many sewists.

The Fabric.

I used a teal viscose twill and a burgundy viscose linen for my Zadies. Both of these were from the Cloth Shop when they had a sale a while back, and both were dreamy to sew – although the linen frayed like nobody’s business!

Both fabrics have been lovely to wear over the summer – breathable but structured. I think the Zadie would also look lovely in something more drapey – a plan of mine for the future!

The Make.

The Jumpsuits.

Overall, the jumpsuit is a really quick sew. Does anyone else associate certain males with the TV they were watching whilst they sewed them? All I can think about with my jumpsuits is Grey’s Anatomy 🤣

I love the bias binding edge – as with my New Look N6616, I hand sewed the inside of the bias down. I’m just not convinced you can get a neat, clean finish with machine sewing!

My biggest issue with the Zadie is the ease- there’s quite a bit of room in the rise. I think it’s drafted for someone who is 5’7”, but as someone who is 5’6”, I actually ended up taking about 2 inches of room out of the rise.

I also took a centimetre on each side from the bodice, after trial and error, even though I made the smallest size.

I also tapered the legs somewhat – taking out about 3 inches at the trouser hem. I want wide legs to suit me, but they. just. don’t.

The Dress.

I used the remnant of the teal Zadie I made to make a dress – I first cut out the bodice, and then used the rest to draft the skirt and the ties.

Because of a lack of fabric, I had to make the ties narrower and I actually like the look.

For the skirt, I cut three rectangles and copied the tucks from the bodice onto the skirt.

I also used readymade bias binding (oh the shame!) on the inside of the neckline as I didn’t quite have enough fabric to make me own.

The Verdict.

Clearly, I love the Zadie – I’ve made 3 versions. My biggest recommendation is to make a muslin – I’m usually against that (honestly who’s got the time) but it’s super helpful to perfect the fit!

(Too) Jazzy Jumpsuits

(If you get the reference, hi ‘friend’ 🤣).

It’s been a little while since I blogged about anything I’ve been sewing – oops! It’s not that I haven’t been sewing – I’ve been sewing slower, taking my time to get the finish and fit right. Taking more time for sewing has meant I’ve just not had the time to document my makes as I go along – alas.

This jumpsuit is a great example of where it’s taken me several weekends and/or days off to finish it, but I’m pleased with the end result – even if I did finish it just in time for the rain to arrive in London in August – classic.

The Pattern.

This is the New Look N6616 and I made view B. I knew I wanted something with an interesting neckline and it’s also got a great tie waste belt. I cut the size 8 in the bust grading to a 12 at the hips, based on my measurements.

The Fabric.

The suggested fabrics for this pattern include batiks, chambray and shirting. I settled on a navy seersucker from Fabrics Galore which was really lovely to sew with.

I got 2.1 metres as suggested, but I (typically) really didn’t need that much – maybe 1.5m. To save fabric I marked each pattern piece with chalk out on the flat (rather than on the fold).

The Make and Moderations.

I really love the finish on this jumpsuit – the bias binding on the neck and armholes is so neat. That being said, the pattern instructions tell you to machine stitch it down – I never get a neat result doing this and always prefer to hand stitch. It may take longer but it’s so much neater.

My one pet peeve with Big 4 patterns is that there’s so. much. ease. included. I took out a couple of inches from the bodice side seams and several cm from the trouser side seams (yes, weird, I switch between metric and imperial – curse of being a millennial but having been taught by a Baby Boomer!). Because the jumpsuit has in-seam pockets (yay!), I basted shut the trousers to start with to check the fit.

I also tapered the trouser side seams an inch or so towards the hem – I want wide legged styles to suit me, but alas they just don’t.

I also took 2-3 inches off the length of the waist ties – they just seemed a tad long to me.

Verdict.

Overall, I do really like how this turned out – the fit is pretty good (although I might pick a fabric with more drape if I make it again) and the tie waist is a nice style feature.

My only qualms are the glut of ease (I could’ve significantly reduced my fabric consumption when cutting out) and the fact that the British weather hasn’t cooperated with me wearing it more this summer!

Sunny Shirt

Summer briefly arrived in London for the Easter weekend, so perfect timing for finishing my brightest. make. ever. Still a bit nervous about wearing this amount of yellow but I’m going to be brave!

The Fabric.

I recently wore a 100% me-made outfit, and wow did that feel great. I felt so proud that I’ve finally got to the point where I no longer need to buy any clothes.. that being said, the outfit may have been 100% me-made but it was also 100% black. Black Closet Case Patterns Ebony tee, black Tilly and the Buttons Ness skirt, Black Emerald Erin Jordy bralette and Black Megan Nielsen Acacia Undies.. I told you it was 100% me-made..!

I’ve realised I wear a lot of dark colours and yet one of my favourite things I’ve ever made is a bright red patterned midi dress. It was very out of my comfort zone, and yet the risk paid off – so I’ve decided I’m going to try sewing with a more varied palette.

I recently picked up a mustard tablecloth at a nearby charity shop for £4 – what a steal. The bright colour called out to me, but frankly I wasn’t sure it would suit me.. I think if it had been brand new fabric, I wouldn’t have bought it – but if it didn’t suit me, it would probably suit one of my friends so worth giving it a go!

The Pattern.

I had pretty limited fabric to work with, so my initial thought was a True Bias Ogden cami – possibly keeping the original tassels as fringe along the bottom.

That being said, I have plenty of Ogden camis and I can’t wear any of them to work, so they get limited use. I love wearing me-mades everyday, so I’m trying to make pieces that are work suitable whilst also something I’d wear at weekends.

I decided on the Closet Case Patterns Kalle Shirt. I’ve previously made the cropped version without adjustments, and I’ve only worn it once.. it’s not that I don’t love the style, it’s more that it’s very cropped. Plus I used some rubbish polyester material for that ‘wearable (or not so wearable) muslin’ and unsurprisingly it doesn’t feel nice to wear. I decided to give the Kalle another go, but lengthening the cropped version by 3-4 inches.

I had just about enough fabric for the Kalle but did have to piece together the yoke facing because I didn’t have enough fabric on the fold. The hidden placket is also made from two pieces – there’s a horizontal seam in the middle – but that was entirely my fault (I forgot to add the extra 3-4 inches to the placket as well as the front and back pieces).

The Make.

I really took my time sewing this one up, and I think it really paid off..

There’s miles of topstitching which I think really adds to it. This included:

  • The collar
  • Along the placket
  • Top and bottom of the back yoke
  • Two lines along the cuffs
  • Two lines along the hem facing
  • Two lines either side of the side seams

I really think it adds something to the overall shirt, so I’m glad I bothered.

The buttons were salvaged from an old shirt which adds an extra cherry onto the guilt-free/earth friendly cake that is this shirt.

This make didn’t involved any new items – the fabric and buttons were second hand, and I already had the interfacing and thread in my stash.

I even considered buying matching yellow thread and new topstitching thread but decided against it – mostly because I couldn’t be bothered to walk to the fabric shop (!) but also because it wasn’t necessary – I like the contrast of the white.

The Verdict.

I’m pleasantly surprised with how this shirt turned out. I wasn’t sold on the colour originally but I’m definitely coming round to it..! Adding length the Kalle definitely paid off and I’m glad I bothered with all of that topstitching!

Yes to Yoga

I’m a January cliché. I’m on a serious health kick (or I like to think I am, but I’m writing this whilst eating Kettle Chips…). I’m following this a-maz-ing 30 day yoga challenge, I’m doing dry January and I’m trying out pescatarianism (baby steps to saving the environment eh?). I play netball every week and I’m also trying Couch to 5K (although that stalled when I got ill after the second run… I’ll get back to it!).

Anyway, this is all to say that I am in serious need of activewear. In a moment of desperation, I bought some Adidas leggings late last year. As a sewist who makes basically all her clothes, it breaks my heart to say this, but they’re really good. The fit is great and I like that they have mesh panels; however they cost a fair bit and it troubles me I don’t know how they were made. Enter ‘Operation Sew Activewear’.

The Pattern.

As a Christmas gift to myself, I bought Sew Your Own Activewear by Melissa Fehr. Melissa is the go-to sewist when it comes to activewear, so I thought her book would be a good place to start as a newbie activewear sewist.

I picked the yoga bottoms pattern which features a high waist and – crucially – a back pocket (something my Adidas leggings sorely lack – seriously where do I put my keys when I go running?!).

The book has you hack basic block patterns to make different items, so a good ream of tracing paper is a must. Overall the instructions for putting the pattern together are pretty straight forward, although the gusset took me a little while to understand… I think the hardest thing to be sure of was how big to make it, but I must have guessed right in the end based on the pictures in the instructions.

The Fabric.

Finding activewear fabric was a bit of a puzzle. All my normal go-to shops (both in person and online) didn’t really have any suitable activewear fabric, or if they did, they didn’t have a massive range. Fortunately Melissa has put together a great list of retailers to look at and I ended up shopping at Funki Fabrics.

I ordered five samples (free of charge) because I really had no idea where to start and what sort of fibre to look for. I wanted fabric similar to my Adidas leggings – relatively thick with enough stretch. I ended up going with some black Perform fabric, which has worked well – plenty of stretch with a slight sheen.

The Make.

I made most of the pattern with my overlocker apart from attaching the waistband elastic and the leg hems, where I used a three step zig zag. After the first try on of the leggings, I heard a few snaps where the overlocker stitching broke so I shortened the stitch length and it improved a lot.

The fit wasn’t simple. Based on the original pattern fit, it was really baggy around the knees and ankles but a pretty good fit around the hips. One of the reasons I love sewing is that I can make garments to fit me perfectly, so I shaved off a cm at a time on the side seams until I had the perfect fit. Realistically I think I took a good 5 cm out of each knee, and I should now really go back and transfer those amendments to the pattern block.. one of these days I’ll get round to it!

I had some difficulty fitting the waistband. The instructions say you need a piece of 2-inch elastic, 90% of your waist, which for me that would have been 59cm. When I tried to sew the elastic on, it was considerably shorter than the leggings waistband – I knew it had to be stretched a little bit, but this just didn’t seem right.. it was way too tight and pulled in the waist way too much. (maybe I measured wrong..?) I ended up taking the elastic off and making it slightly longer. It sewed in much better that way, although having worn the leggings a couple of times, perhaps I should have stretched it slightly more.

The other mistake I made was sewing the outer front waistband with the wrong side out. An easy mistake to make because the front and back are similar, but they’re not the same and in some lights you can tell. Ahh… but I only realised once it was all sewn up and hey, I’m not a perfectionist. A lesson learnt for next time!

The Verdict.

I’ve worn these leggings for a yoga practice now, and they worked really well. There was one spot where the stitches slightly ripped because I’d used a longer stitch length – lesson learnt, use a short stitch length.

So, will I make more leggings again? Yes definitely. I might be tempted to try a different pattern just to see how the construction differs, but I really like the block construction method.

Easy Ebony

I’ve decided 2019 is going to be the year of making patterns more than once. I love improving my sewing skills by sewing multiple versions of the same pattern, but it’s something I rarely do. In fact, I know I’ve ended several blog posts with a ‘I’ll definitely make this again’ but do I? Very rarely. This, my second make of 2019, is a prime example of improving upon a previous make – the Closet Case Pattern Ebony Tee.

The Pattern.

The Ebony Tee from Closet Case Patterns is a great pattern – really comfortable and versatile. I’ve made two versions of the cropped view before, one stripy and one purple. I loved both versions but they’re not perfect. The stripy version is slightly too short – I can only wear it with high waisted jeans (of which I only have two pairs) so it limits its wear. The purple version is made in a knit which isn’t that stretchy… it means it’s a little tight in the arms so not super comfy!

Taking both of those together, I decided the Ebony was worth another go – with a longer length and a stretchier material. Because of that, I added about 3 inches to the length. I also added a bit more length to the sleeves as I found them a tad short.

The Fabric.

I have absolutely no idea about this fabric apart from the fact it was a remnant and it had a few holes it! That meant pattern placement was more of a jigsaw that I’m sure the pattern designer originally intended! All I can sure of is that it’s a lightweight jersey with quite a bit of stretch.

The Make.

This top was a dream to sew. I overlocked all the seams so it took next to no time to sew up.

For the hem, I used Heat n Bond soft stretch tape to stop the hem going wavy – and it did just that. In the past, I’ve never has very good results with a twin needle but I’ve decided this year I’m going to revisit my past sewing demons. I loosened the bobbin tension quite a bit and lengthened the straight stitch, and the result was just about perfect – definitely something I’ll be trying again.

For the cuffs, I decided a twin needle wouldn’t do because it wouldn’t allow for enough stretch. Instead, I decided to use a three step zigzag – perfect for the cuffs where there’s likely to be more strain.

The Verdict.

This has well and truly reignited my sew-jo! The length is so much better and I really like the finish of the twin needle. Really glad I revisited the Ebony Tee, and I’m sure I’ll make some more in the future!

Monstrous Molly

Wait, what’s this? A blog post? Surely not.

Yep, you better believe that one of my new year’s resolutions is to blog more, so I’m keeping myself accountable by putting it in my bullet journal. If it’s in the #bujo, it has to happen, right..?

So my first make of 2019 was a Molly top. I wanted something quick and fun, and I’ve successfully made the Molly a couple of times in the past. Plus, the Molly was the first knit garment I made on my overlocker so it holds a special place in my heart.

The Pattern.

The Molly top is a pattern from Sew Over It’s City Break E-Book. I love, love, love this pattern. It’s such a simple sew, and I’ve worn my previous Molly dress almost to death.

I will say, this sweatshirt started life as a dress but once I put it on, it drowned me in quilting – not an ideal look.

I ended up lopping off several inches to make it a top which worked much better; it was a bit of a waste of fabric, but I feel like it’s better to create something I’ll actually wear and lose a bit of fabric to the scrap bin! It’s all in the creative process I suppose…!

The Fabric.

I used a cosy quilted grey sweatshirting I’ve had in my fabric stash for a while now. It was a remnant from one of my favourite independent fabric shops, Mad Jaks in Shere.

I thought a Molly top paired with a cosy sweatshirting was a match made in heaven… boy was I wrong. The fabric was horrendous to sew. My gut reaction was to overlock the whole thing, but because the fabric had some sort of wadding to make the quilted effect, it got caught in the overlocker blade. Very messy, very stressful – so not what I was after for a ‘quick’ make!

In the end I took the blade off and it worked a bit better. However, I wouldn’t sew with this fabric again – it was a nightmare I don’t want to relive!

The Make.

I’ve alluded to my troubles with this fabric. Let’s not dwell on it, but let’s just say it resulted in an eventful Saturday full of lots of strong words aimed at my overlocker.

The Molly is a great pattern because it’s so quick to make with very few seams. However this one was tricky because the fabric was thicker and ended up with bulky seams. When I make another Molly top or dress, I’ll go for a lighter fabric with a bit more drape.

I finished the cuffs and hem with a three step zigzag which I like paired with the quilted diamonds. I also secured the neckband with a lengthened straight stitch.

The Verdict.

All that being said, I’m pleased with the final result. It was quite a journey to get there but I’m trying to remember that all of these ‘mistakes’ are useful practice.

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