Serene Seren

I’m not usually one to impulse buy new indie patterns (unless there’s a promo discount…), because frankly they’re pretty pricey and I like to see how other people make up the patterns before I take the plunge!  However, the Seren dress, recently released by Tilly and the Buttons, was the exception to this rule.

The yellow, midi-length version with a flounce is just the perfect summer dress and given the weather we’re having in London at the moment, I thought I’d treat myself to the printed pattern (I can’t believe it either).

The Pattern.

The Seren is a pretty versatile pattern, with a few different versions to pick from.  It comes in two lengths (knee and midi length), and I picked the midi-length.  It also comes in various bodice types (standard, tie front and with flounce); ever since the Seren was released, I’ve been wanting to make the flounce version so I opted for that one.  If I’m being honest, I just wanted to copy the Seren on the front of pattern envelope, but if I’m realistic, yellow is not my colour!

I’m definitely going to making the other bodice versions, and maybe even a skirt hack.  That’s something I love about Big 4 patterns – the multiple views – so when indie patterns manage to do this too, I feel like it’s worth spending the money.  Closet Case Patterns are a great example of this; Heather Lou always gives several views in her patterns and it feels like you’re getting good bang for your buck.

The Fabric.

I wanted something floaty to emulate the yellow sample Seren you see on the front of the pattern envelope and ended up using some viscose in my stash, bought from Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn.  It’s black and yellowy-cream with tiny flowers – very summery and it’s got great drape.

For the midi-length dress, they say you need 2.5 metres of fabric (150cm wide) – I managed to make Size 2 out of 2 metres.  That being said, it was a bit of a jigsaw and I think if you were making any size above 2, you’d probably need the full 2.5m. If I were to make the flounce version again, I’d definitely pick a double sided fabric – mine isn’t, and you can see the wrong side of the fabric on the folds of the flounce!  Not the end of the world, but not perfect either!

The Make.

Overall, this dress took about a day to make (though I was distracted by the joy that is Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool and my new addition, This Is Us, so no doubt you could make it in less time..!).

I had a bit of a conundrum on measurements… It’s quite a fitted dress, so I didn’t want too much ease.  My measurements (for reference 80 – 65 – 95) suggested I should make a Size 2 on bust and waist, and a size 3/4 on the hip.  I decided there was plenty of ease in the hip to risk a straight Size 2 without grading between sizes. However, in retrospect I might be tempted to size down in the bodice, since it fits perfectly around the waist but a little wide in the bust whereas the hip is fine given the not very fitted skirt.

The instructions – like all other Tilly patterns – are second to none.  One thing I would say to pay attention to is the stay stitching.  It’s something a lot of us (me definitely included!) skip to save time, but for this I’d say it’s very necessary.  I stay stitched the diagonals on the skirt panels but must have stretched the fabric as I sewed, because I ended up with a massively uneven hem at the end.  Something to bear in my next time!

One thing I didn’t like about the Seren is the hundreds of buttonholes.  Okay hundreds is a slight exaggeration, I ended up with 11. And yes, I knew the dress had buttons and buttonholes when I purchased it but it was one of the features I really liked.  Oof, but when your machine decides to jam mid-buttonholes, that may be up there with one of the worst feelings you can have as a sewist!  And it happened to me three times.  Not cool Bernina, not cool.

Verdict.

Overall, this dress was a dream to sew, although I might slightly adjust the fit next time.  I’ve got a few ideas for hacks in mind, in particular a skirt with a button down front and slits in the side… But I’m trying to figure out if it will transition into my autumn/winter wardrobe as well (not that this heatwave looks like it will EVER end).  Certainly something I’ll be pondering on the tube over the next week 🙂

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Blue Bruna

I’m a big fan of sewing magazines.. I started out on the ones with free Big 4 paper patterns (Sew Magazine, Love Sewing – you know the type), but I’m now veering towards those with overlapping patterns you have to trace off and initially cause a bit of a heart attack to look at (I’m looking at you Burda…).

A couple examples of these (and shout if you know of any others) are the aforementioned (and frequently hard to source) Burda Style, and La Maison Victor, which recently launched an English language version.  These two, to me, represent a more modern and slightly edgier style and even if I don’t end up making many of the patterns (see aforementioned overlapping pattern line heart attack), they are an endless source of inspiration.  Recently, I spotted the Bruna blouse in La Maison Victor and knew I had to give it a go.. So…

The Pattern.

The Bruna blouse is a simple boxy short sleeved shirt.  It’s very similar to the Libby shirt from Sew Over It, which I had my eye on and thought I’d try the Bruna first since I already had the pattern.  Since LMV offer fewer patterns in their magazine, there’s fewer scary overlapping lines to trace from, so it’s pretty quick to put the pattern together.

I decided to leave off the pocket, mostly because I couldn’t be bothered to a) cut it out (yes I’m that lazy) and b) pattern match.  I think I actually prefer it without too, so that’s a happy accident (or am I just trying to convince myself that I meant to not cut out that pocket.. and I didn’t just forget…).

The Fabric.

The fabric was a remnant from Sew Over It, which I bought when I strayed south of the river (can you believe it) and accidentally (ahem.. not so much) found myself in the vicinity of their Clapham shop.  I had barely a metre, and it was  a bit of a jigsaw to get all of the pieces cut out, but I got there in the end.

The fabric itself is a bit of a mystery.. they’ve sold out of it on the website, so I can’t confirm exactly what it is but if I was a gambling woman (really not, for the record) I’d say a light weight crepe.. Now, I must say, this fabric probably wasn’t my best impulse buy in hindsight.  It’s – for sure – a synthetic material (meh – I knew that when I bought it) but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s polyester… Let’s just say it’s been really unpleasant to wear in the heat wave we’ve been having recently! You live and learn… I’m now on a bit of a ‘try to buy natural fibres where possible’ stint, but who knows how long that will last.  We all know a nice rayon will come along and I’ll have broken my all-natural pledge.  Oh well… at least I’m a realist.

The Make.

This was a pretty quick make, all in all probably just over half a day’s worth of cutting and stitching.  I cut my size based on my measurements and whilst the style is supposed to be boxy, and I think it ended up being a little big on me.

This was my first time using a LMV pattern and I ended up veering away from the written instructions.. It was strange to me that the pattern has a front facing, but no back facing.. It’s crying out for a back facing, and I can’t work out why they didn’t have one.

I used french seams where possible, and zig-zagged where else (sadly without my overlocker for this make).

Verdict. 

I like how this shirt turned out, but I regret my fabric choice given how hot this summer has turned out!

I’m also not 100% convinced on some of the construction techniques used in the Bruna.. if I had my time again and I wasn’t able to buy the magazine, I think I’d try the Sew Over It Libby shirt or the Closet Case Patterns Carolyn Pyjama top; that’s for three reasons:

1. To buy the Bruna by itself is apparently 35 euro (?!) whereas the Libby is £7.50 and the Carolyn is $14.00

2. I’m not even sure you can buy the Bruna in English, so you might need to be proficient in Dutch/French/Germany (or trust Google translate!), and

3. I’ve used SOI and CCP before multiple times and their construction techniques are second to none.  If I’m committing money to something I might make multiple times, I’d go with the safe bet (see I told you I wasn’t a gambling woman).

Summer Stripes

Honestly, what does one wear to work when it’s 24 degrees plus outside but the air con is on full blast in the office?  It’s a question I’ve been pondering for a few weeks now… You don’t want heavy trousers or dark tights on the London Underground in the summer, but then you don’t want a short skirt in a freezing cold office..  Quite the conundrum.

After a few weeks thought, I’m starting to think culottes and midi length skirts may be the answer. However, I’ve realised I have shockingly few of both of those in my wardrobe, so here goes Project Iz Makes Summer Clothes 2018 (name tbc)!

The Pattern.

For the first time, I thought I’d draft myself a skirt, without a pattern.  I knew I wanted to make a gathered skirt and really that’s only a rectangle of fabric.  However, I see this dress as a mash up of the Deer and Doe Myosotis Dress and the By Hand London Orsola Skirt

For guidance on width, I used the Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress skirt pattern piece but lengthened it a good four inches.  Then for the waist tie, I cut a piece about 3 inches wide and as long as the piece of fabric I had left (about 1.5 metres).

The Fabric. 

I had some left over black and white stripey material from my Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress.  It was really lovely to work with the first time so I thought I’d use up what I had left.  My best guess is it’s a viscose/polyester blend of some sort.

It’s a little sheer, so (as with my Myosotis) I think I’ll have to wear a slip with it. It’s also really floaty so I’m fairly concerned about how it’ll work on the tube… am I going to have a Marilyn moment?!  Highly likely.

The Make.

A really quick make, I’m now fully converted to the self-drafted skirt! My first step was to cut two rectangles for the front and back skirt pieces (using the Myosotis skirt pattern piece for guidance on the width).  I then cut a length of material for the waist band.

In terms of construction, I first sewed up both side-seams, leaving space for a lapped zip on one side.  Honestly, I didn’t have a black zip in my stash so I ended up using a green one – it’s a little noticeable but I was on a sewing-roll and couldn’t be bothered to go out to buy another zip!

I then inserted the zip leaving about an inch spare at the top of the side seam.  My next step was to gather the skirt front and back, which I did using the dental floss method (my fave of all gathering methods – it’s a dream).  I then measured my waist (65cm), worked out where the middle point of the waist band piece was and then marked 33cm on each side of the mid-point with a point.

I attached the gathered skirt to the waistband at these markers and sewed the two together.  I then took a leaf out of the By Hand London Orsola skirt book, and sewed the ends of the ties right sides together and pulled them the right way out.  I sewed the middle waist band to the skirt, which I slip-stitched (I didn’t have quite enough material left to stitch-in-the-ditch). Then, all that was left was to hem it; I took a couple of inches off the length and used a two cm hem (1cm turned under).  Despite being such a floaty material, it was surprisingly easy to iron and hem.

Verdict.

Overall, I’m really pleased with how this turned out.  It was a pretty quick make (about an afternoon) and I really think that it will serve its purpose of being summery but also appropriate for an air-conditioned office.  Only time will tell!  All that being said, I’ve realised I’ve made a skirt that doesn’t go with any of the tops I already own.. Well done Iz.  Oh well, that’ll be my next make 🙂

Wondrous Wrap Dress

The wonder of sewing is that when you have a special event to go to, you don’t have to trawl the shops looking for that perfect dress – you can make your own!  I recently graduated with an MSc at Trinity College Dublin, so of course I needed a new dress for the occasion!  I love, love, love the By Hand London Orsola skirt I’ve made previously and have been meaning to make the dress version for a while now, so this seemed like the perfect occasion.

The Pattern.

As I said, I’ve made the Orsola skirt before, which I loved.  This time I made the dress version, but opting for the straight hem (instead of the scallop).

I cut the size 8 at the bust and the waist, but graduated out to a 10 at the hip.  However, I think I should have cut a size 6 at the bust as the darts weren’t quite right on me.  I ended up altering the bust darts so they’d finish about an inch higher.  I’m not 100% happy with how they turned out but they’re much better than how they were originally.  It’s worth noting I did do a toile of the bodice to check the fit.  I used a light-weight fabric with a polka dot pattern, and the fit straight from the pattern seemed alright on the toile.  However when I cut it in my plain black fabric, the issues were apparent and I think the dotted pattern had veiled them.  A lesson in using a fabric as similar to your real fabric as possible!

Before cutting, I also took a couple of inches off the length of the pattern.  The skirt I made previously is a midi length on me and I wanted this dress to finish just above the knee.  Now, with most dresses, I tend to shorten the length at the hemline once I’ve sewn everything else because I’ll have a better idea of what it’s going to look like and the skirt length I want.  However, because of the curved wrap back of the skirt on the Orsola, it’s  difficult to shorten the length once you’ve sewn the dress.  That means you need to shorten the pattern before cutting – I think there are shorten/lengthen lines, I effectively just shortened the pattern by a couple of inches on all skirt pieces and the curved back skirt facing.

The Fabric.

Trinity stipulate you must wear either black or white to graduate.  However I think you’ve got to be a brave person to commit to a white dress (apart from your wedding day of course!)  –  you eat spaghetti once and it’s ruined forever.  That left me with black, and I wanted something drapey and not too shiny.  I ended up buying three metres of a double gauze type fabric from a shop on Goldhawk Road.  Really easy to sew with and it has a lovely, ‘cross-hatched’ texture – however it is a little sheer (keep reading to hear how I lined it!).

Something to note, By Hand London say you need 3.2 metres of 150cm wide fabric for the dress version.  I got 3 metres because I knew I was going to shorten the skirt (and I’m cheap – sue me!).  However, I didn’t realise how sheer the fabric was until I got it home, at which point I realised I need to fully line the skirt as well as the bodice (By Hand doesn’t include a skirt lining in their fabric allowances).  Basically what I’m saying is, if I hadn’t needed to line my skirt, I could have easily got an Orsola dress and an Orsola skirt out of the 3 metres of fabric I bought, with some left over!

I had the same issue with my By Hand London Rumana coat – so much fabric left over!  I think it’s because (unlike Big 4 pattern companies) By Hand don’t calculate fabric requirements based on the size you’re cutting.  All in all, my advice is if you’re picking a pricey fabric, look at the pattern pieces before buying and calculate your fabric requirements based on that.

The Make. 

Although it looks a little complicated, this dress really is very simple to sew.  For the bodice, as I said, I had a few fitting issues but in reality I probably should have sized down.  I also added a two inch wide strip of fusible interfacing to the back diagonal of the bodice lining.  When I initially tried on the dress, the back gaped a bit, showing my bra – not a good look for a graduation ceremony!  I’ve read other people had similar problems, so I added some interfacing which gave the back bodice a bit more structure.  It’s not quite perfect but it seemed to do the trick.

In terms of the waist tie, before I turned it through I actually overlocked the seams inside instead of grading them.  Now, I had sheer fabric which frayed like you wouldn’t believe.  One issue I’ve had with my Orsola skirt waist lie is that the seams aren’t finished on the inside, and the linen is a relatively open weave – that means that they’re starting to unravel a bit and it’s looking a bit messy.  Sure, overlocking the seams and not grading them means that its a bit more bulky but because the fabric is very lightweight it’s not really an issue.  The way I saw it was the waist tie gets a lot strain, especially if you want a snug fit – for longevity I decided an overlocked seam was the way to go!

Finally, as I said I used quite a sheer fabric so I need to line the skirt as well as the bodice.  With some advice from the lovely fellow sewists on Instagram (@grosgraingreen I’m looking at you – thank you!) and the By Hand London ladies themselves, I decided to underline the skirt.  This mean that I effectively made two skirts: I sewed the darts on each of the two front pieces and the four back wrap pieces. I then created two versions of the skirt – sewing the skirt front to the two skirt back pieces at the side seams.  I then sewed the two full skirts together wrong sides together, along the waistline and the hemline so that I knew everything was aligned.  Since the skirt was then all one piece, I continued with By Hand’s instructions and sewed it to the skirt facing.  By Hand say to top stitch the skirt facing in place, but I wanted a clean finish so I actually slip stitched the facing to the skirt itself.  Time intensive but certainly worth it!

Overall, underlining was certainly successful.  However, as I was sewing, I pondered whether you could get rid of the facing entirely by creating two separate skirts (as I did), sewing them wrong sides together along the hem and then turning them the right side out.  That way, I think you could actually get a fully reversible Orsola dress?  Something I’d really like to try out in the future!

Verdict. 

A wonderful pattern – it truly is unlike any other Indie (or Big 4) pattern I’ve seen, and creates a really lovely silhouette. Plus there’s no fastenings so it’s actually quite an easy dress to sew.  I’m so pleased with how it turned out, especially the finishing as it’s fully lined and all raw edges are encased.  I’d love to make another Orsola, maybe trying out the fully reversible idea I have to see if it would actually work!

Monochrome Myosotis

The May #sewmystyle2018 challenge is the new Deer and Doe release – the Myosotis Dress. With the temperatures finally rising in London, this challenge came at a great time and I definitely need more dresses for work.

The Pattern.

The Myosotis is a high-waisted dress with a gathered skirt. It has two views, I picked View B (without the ruffle). The dress is designed to be quite a loose fit around the waist, but I wanted something a bit more fitted.

Going by my measurements, I was roughly a 34 Bust, 36 Waist and 38 Hip. I ignored the hip measurement because of the gathered nature of the skirt. Going on the finished garment measurements, I wanted something fitted so I decided not to grade the pattern and just cut a straight size 34.

The Fabric.

I wanted something floaty and lightweight, because I didn’t want the skirt to stick out too much. I decided to use some black and white striped fabric I already had in my stash.

To be honest, it was cheap as chips and it’s definitely a non-natural fibre – I’d say a floaty polyester. For that reason, I decided to omit the sleeves to avoid the inevitable sweatiness! It’s relatively sheer but I didn’t line the dress; overall I reckon it’s alright, but I might wear a slip underneath just in case.

The Make.

Overall, this was a pretty quick make; I think it took about a day, and that’s a conservative estimate given that I was binge watching Friends during the process…

I finished the bodice seams with French seams and the skirt and bodice/skirt join with my overlocker.

I consciously made a few amendments to the stated pattern. Firstly I added about 3 inches to the hem to make it more of a midi length. I work in an air conditioned office, so I wanted something with a bit more length in the hope it would keep me a bit warmer! I’m really pleased I added the extra length – for reference I’m 5′ 6” and I think the original length would have been indecent on me!

Secondly, I omitted the sleeves – a couple of reasons for this: a) I wanted something summery, and b) using a polyester based fabric, I wanted to avoid it being too sweaty in the heat! I finished the armholes with home-made bias binding and it worked a treat.

Thirdly, I sewed the pockets with a 1cm seam allowance because I wanted them to be a bit more roomy.

Finally, I added a waist tie around the join between the skirt and the bodice. This was for a few reasons… a) I tried the dress on and it was still a bit loose around the waist. It looked fine, but I thought a more fitted look would suit me more. b) because I had vertical stripes on the bodice and skirt, and the skirt was gathered, the stripes didn’t match and it all looked a bit odd! The lack of stripe matching bothered me, so I made a waist tie to give a horizontal stripe to break up the bodice and the skirt.

Verdict.

Overall, I love how this turned out! It fits really well, and I feel it’s going to be perfect for the summer.

I’d definitely make another of these, maybe with the sleeves. The instructions are pretty easy to follow, I’d recommend it for beginners and experts alike.

Ace Acton

When you’re invited to a fancy gala and you sew, it’s like a dream come true.  My friend invited me to a gala with the dress code ‘Lounge suits, cocktail dresses, and a touch of glamour!’ so of course I just had to make a new dress…

The Pattern.

I picked the Acton Dress by In The Folds, for a few reasons.  The first, I’ve seen so many beautiful versions of this dress on Instagram. Secondly, I love the halter neckline and it doesn’t use a huge amount of fabric, which is always a plus! I chose to make bodice version B and skirt version A, omitting the pockets.

The Fabric.

For this dress, I wanted to do a contrast bodice so I needed: bodice lace, bodice fabric, bodice lining, skirt fabric and skirt lining.

I had some left over gold Guipure style lace from another dress I made, which I used for the bodice lace.

The black bodice fabric I took from the first dress I ever made (see below). It’s about 15 years old, and miraculously still fits (?!) but is scandalously short now. I’ve kept it until now for sentimentality, but really I thought I’d rather refashion it into something I can actually wear. Plus I reused the ribbon from the straps!

The bodice lining was some pink lining scraps from my stash.

The main skirt fabric was some left over black double gauze from the Orsola dress I made for my MSc graduation.

Finally, the skirt lining was some left over black lining I had in my stash.

The only new thing I had to buy was the invisible zip in the centre back.

This truly was #sewingleftovers and good timing for Fashion Revolution Week, where we remember the Rana Plaza tragedy. It’s really made me think about not only Who Made My Clothes? (Me!) but also Who Made My Fabric? That’s why part of my Me Made May pledge is to buy only ethically sourced fabric or remnants.

The Make.

Overall, this was a relatively quick make – the bodice took me about 3 hours including cutting out (taking into account I had to cut the bodice 3 times for each of the lace, fabric and lining!). The skirt and skirt lining probably took another evening (3 hrs) and putting the bodice and skirt together, plus slip stitching the lining to the main dress and around the zip was another evening. Total? Probably 10 hours – so a good day of sewing.

Let me tell you – the lace is beautiful, but wow is it a pain to sew with. It frays like you wouldn’t believe and got stuck in the invisible zip multiple times. Not easy, but worth it in the end!

I treated the lace and the black bodice fabric as one, basically using the black fabric as an underlining. This helped stabilise the lace but it was a bit fiddly to start with and it did add a bit of time.

I made a couple of tiny alterations to the pattern. Firstly I sewed a wider seam allowance at the side seams (2 cm). Nothing major but it just allowed for a slightly better fit. Secondly I also shortened the dress by about 5 cm; I actually think I should have kept it a smidge longer but hey, I can’t go back now!

Verdict. 

I love this dress. It fits perfectly, and needed very little alteration. I’ve never sewn any In The Folds patterns before, but I’m sure I’ll sew more from now on. Now, if only I had more galas to wear this to, I’d be winning!

Mini Molly

Maybe the simplest and quickest item I’ve ever sewn, let’s talk about the Molly top by Sew Over It.

The Pattern.

The Molly top is part of their City Break e-book. I’ve previously made the long sleeved dress version, but I had some of the fabric left so I decided to make the short sleeved top version. It has a curved hem and no set in sleeves – only three pattern pieces (front, back and neckband).

The Fabric.

I had less than a metre left of some navy blue striped viscose jersey from when I made my Molly dress. It’s from Sew Over It (£6.50 per half metre), and lovely to work with. Not too slippery, and very soft even after several washes.

The Make.

This is genuinely the simplest knit pattern I’ve sewn so far – definitely one for a beginner knit sewist. There are 4 main seams (two side seams and two shoulder seams) which are effectively 4 straight lines. All in all, it probably took no more than 1.5 hrs to cut out and sew.

There are two more challenging parts to the pattern. The first is the neckband, but if you’re new to sewing knit neckbands, Sew DIY tutorials on this are really helpful. The second is the hem, only because its curved. I sewed the cuffs with a three step zig zag and the hem with a twin needle to give the impression of cover stitch. Honestly, the twin needle was a pain, and really a proper stretch stitch would’ve been much easier.

Verdict.

Frankly, a great pattern. If you’re looking for a quick sew, this is it. A worthwhile investment, and the dress version is fab too.

Effortless Ebony

Okay, let’s talk about the Closet Case Pattern Ebony Tee.  I’ve only just really started sewing knits, having purchased my overlocker in January earlier this year.  My first foray into knits was the Molly Top from Sew Over It, a fab pattern (buy it, make all the Molly tops and dresses – you won’t regret it).  I spotted a couple of beautiful Ebony tees on Instagram and thought I’d give the pattern a try as my next knit pattern.

The fact I’m blogging about two different Ebony tees in one post says it all – I love this pattern.  I made two in as many weeks – the first black and white striped, the second purple.

The Pattern. 

As with the Kalle shirt dress, Heather Lou of Closet Case Patterns really knows how to make a versatile pattern.  What I like about Big 4 patterns is that you get multiple looks in a pattern envelope, and often you don’t find that in Indie patterns.  That being said, the Ebony is another great example of Heather Lou creating a great mix and match pattern.

Make a swingy knit dress or modern cropped top, with your choice of scoop or jewel neckline, and long or 3/4 sleeves. For the ultimate leggings companions, make an Ebony tunic, with a cascading hem and short raglan sleeves

I opted to make the modern cropped top with a scoop neckline and long sleeves on both of my Ebonies.  For the second (the purple), I added a couple of inches to the length to make it a smidge less ‘cropped’.  For info, I’m about 5’6” to give you an idea of length.

Because I made the cropped version, the PDF came together pretty quickly but I will say, if you’re making the dress, I’d bet sticking all those pieces together would take a little while – the trapeze shape means there’s quite a few pages involved! Maybe a case for ordering A0 printing (like netprinter.com).

The Fabric. 

For the first Ebony, I used black and white striped textured ponte roma jersey The Village Haberdashery (£12 a metre).  For the second I used a purple knit remnant from Madjaks in Shere (their remnant bin is a real treasure trove if you’re ever in the area and want to see the village where The Holiday was filmed!).

The Make. 

You’ve guessed it, I’m about to gush about this pattern.  It’s such a quick piece to put together and it fits really well.  All in all, I’d whole-heartedly recommend it.  The instructions, as with all the other Closet Case Patterns, are very good and easy to follow.

One top tip is to pay attention to what neckline and what neckband you cut out.. I may or may not have cut out a scoop neckline and a jewel neckband – strangely enough, the first time I sewed it on, it didn’t really lie flat!  Two minutes of confusion later, I suddenly realised my mistake and managed to cut out another neckband.

I three-step zig-zagged the hem and the cuffs; whilst you could twin needle the hem, I’d say a good stretch stitch is necessary for the cuffs – it’s a tight fit and you want some stretch in there.

Verdict.

The Ebony is a fab pattern.  The only reason I haven’t made more is because I got distracted by other sewing patterns!  A dress version of the Ebony is definitely on my ‘to-sew’ list – watch this space! Oh and go and sew the Ebony!

Kooky Kalle

The March challenge for #sewmystyle2018 is the Kalle Shirt by Closet Case Patterns.  Now let me tell you, when I signed up to take part in Sew My Style, the Kalle was not on my ‘to-sew’ list.  My flatmates will even attest to me saying ‘Ugh no I don’t think I’m going to do this one, I’m not too keen’.  What happened the very next day?  I’d printed the Kalle cropped shirt pattern.. Apparently I’m unpredictable..!

So why was I so apprehensive?  Frankly the Kalle is a very boxy style and I wasn’t completely sure it would suit me.  And why did I change my mind so readily?  Well I had a scroll through Instagram as any Millennial does of a Saturday afternoon (well any day, any time really..!).   Anyway, I found some beautiful examples and, hey, I like a challenge, I like something that puts me out of my comfort zone – so I went for it.

The Pattern

What I really like about the Kalle is there are three options: Cropped, Tunic and Dress.  I opted for the cropped version for two reasons.  Firstly, I’d found a really beautiful orange version on Instagram that I liked the look of.  Secondly, I wasn’t convinced the pattern would suit me so I wasn’t willing to use much of my precious fabric on it!

One brilliant thing about the Kalle is you can easily select which pages you need to print for the version you’re making; it’s not something all Indie pattern companies do, but Heather Lou of Closet Case has got this down to a tee.

Another great  thing about the Kalle is that there are so many options to mix and match to make your shirt or dress your own.  You can mix up the collar (standard or band), placket (button, popover or hidden), add breast pockets, and choose between an inverted or box pleat.  I opted for the hidden placket, band collar and inverted pleat options.

All in all, because I made the cropped version, putting together the pattern PDF came together pretty quickly – maybe half an hour tops.

The Fabric

As I’ve said, I wasn’t willing to dispense any of my precious fabric stash on the Kalle in case it really didn’t suit me.  My aunt gave me a load of remnants recently (I know, I know – my family know me well!), and among them was some white cotton shirting.  Honestly, there was so little of it, it was a real jigsaw job! I’d like to say the stripes on the placket are perpendicular on purpose, but it was needs-must!  The shirting itself is quite stiff which lends itself to the boxy shape of the Kalle.  That being said, I’d like to make it again in something with a bit more drape just to see how it turns out.

The Make

I realised as I was sewing the Kalle that this was my first time sewing a proper shirt!  Slightly terrifying, but hey ho I got there and the Kalle hasn’t put me off sewing more shirts in the future!  One big help is the sew-along Closet Case Patterns have up on their website – a real live saver at tricky moments, so if you’re contemplating making the Kalle, have a look at it before you start.

Overall, the Kalle was a very pleasant make, and the instructions are relatively straight forward.  A few tricky moments worth flagging to any budding Kalle makers out there:

  • The hidden placket is a bit mind boggling if you’ve never sewn one before.  Again, check out Heather Lou’s advice on this and you’ll be grand.  I will say, watch the placement of your button holes – you want them right in the middle of the placket.  Too far left and the placket won’t lie flat over the buttons, and too far right and the buttons will peek out from the placket.
  • The hem facing is a bit tricky if your fabric is even mildly sheer.  Now my shirting wasn’t see-through by any means, but I sewed on the facing and it look awful.  At this point, I admit it – I almost gave up on the shirt.  I was dubious to begin with and then the facing just looked horrible because it made the bottom quarter of the shirt more opaque than the rest of it.  Don’t panic Captain Mainwaring I said (wow that reference was way beyond my years..), let’s bind that curved hem.  Now I’m cheap as chips when I sew and I didn’t have any suitable binding in. However, I did get some bias binding makers for Christmas so using the teeny tiny bit of remnant I had left, I made some bias tape for the hem.

  • I burnt the front hem. There I said it. That’s not specific advice for the Kalle, my iron just got carried away a bit and like any Nicholas Sparks book, it all got a bit melty.  Oops.  Oh well.  Based on some advice from the wondrous sewists all over the internet, I decided to leave it as it’s not that obvious.  That being said, and for any other victims of cocky irons, apparently vinegar or just giving the garment a wash might help!  I don’t have any vinegar (note earlier comment about being cheap – it transcends to cooking too) so I haven’t had a chance to try it out but I might update this post if it helps! (i.e. when I get round to do a wash..).

Verdict

So as I’ve made pretty clear, I was dubious about whether the Kalle would suit me.

And what do I reckon, now it’s finished?  Honestly?  I actually kind of love it.  I really love the dipped back hem – it’s such a cool, modern look.   I sort of think the design is too cool for me, but hey – I’m gonna try and own it!

Will I make the Kalle again?  I reckon so.  There are so many other patterns out there, it’s not at the top of my list but certainly I’ll try the tunic and/or dress in the future – probably in a more drapey fabric.  One point to consider for the crop shirt in the future – the front is pretty cropped.  On me at 5’6” it’s just about okay with a high waisted trouser (note to self, sew some high waisted trousers…) but ideally I’d add a couple of inches to make it a tad more wearable.

All in all though, I’m pleasantly surprised.  And honestly, without the Sew My Style challenge, I probably wouldn’t have given the Kalle a go.  Must learn to live more adventurously!

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