a busy year in sewing 2016

img_0567

I thought I’d take a look at everything I’ve made over the course of the last 12 months and it makes, for me at least, interesting viewing. There’s a variety of garments, styles, shapes and silhouettes. Some have been more successful than others for various reasons, some are self-drafted, others were new patterns free with magazines, some were hacked from patterns I already have and some were indie patterns and PDFs. There have been garments thrown together in very little time and with very little fabric, and there have been a few things that I’ve taken a huge amount of time and care over. There have been a growing number of refashions in the mix too. Not everything I’ve made ended up being photographed so I don’t think this is an exhaustive list but most of it’s here, wherever possible I’ll give pattern and fabric details but I think it will be a photo-tour through my sewing year 2016.

 

So here goes…

img_2953
Ha ha, trying to master the art of a decent selfie! This has been one of my favourite dresses all year, it’s New Look 6340 which was free with Sew magazine and it’s made in a lovely maroony/brown crepe with little pink stars from Man Outside Sainsbury’s in Walthamstow. It’s very swingy and I’ve worn it layered up on cool days or sleeveless in the summer. I keep planning another but it hasn’t quite happened yet. Silver shoes from Clarks
img_3013
This was my first foray into Burda Style trace-off patterns. The front and sleeves are scuba with crepe de chine on the back. I’ve worn it a few times although the fabric combination isn’t the best.
img_4370
The stripes on this one annoyed me as I hadn’t bought enough fabric so I couldn’t match them properly-turned out it was excellent for doing Pilates in though!
img_3165
This was my first refashion of the year. I made this bag using 2 old pairs of jeans to carry all my kit to and from college in London.
img_3198
I love this dress! it’s the Wisewood from MIY Wendy Ward. I like to think it looks a little ‘Vivienne Westwood’. Instead of cutting away the excess fabric at the centre front I pulled it across to sit over my hip and stitched it in place. It’s so comfy! The fabric came from a local market and cost me next-to-nothing.

I made 2 of this dress during the year, the blue chambray was first and the pale green was made during the Sewing weekender in August.  I blogged about them both and I love wearing them both. I’m particularly happy with the exposed zip on the green.

Quite different garments but both new to me-the stripes was a copy of a top I already had and the shirt is a refashion of one belonging to my husband, read about them here and here.

I made an evening dress for myself in March using Simple Sew‘s Floating Bodice pattern (for reasons I won’t go into it became known as the Flying Buttress dress) I’ve never blogged this one, maybe I’ll get round to it because I’ve used some interesting techniques on it.

I did a bit of pattern-making of my own for the next dress.

This was my own self-drafted pattern for the skirt with pleats and a false wrap over, and an existing bodice from years ago. Overall I’m pleased with it, the skirt works really well but the bodice needed some tweaking-the shoulders were too broad and the bodice too long so I altered it the next time I made it-sleeveless this time, in gorgeous cotton/linen mix from Ditto fabrics in Brighton.

img_4721

img_3636
This was a free Burda pattern 6914, again with Sew magazine. I added pockets to the side seam and gave it longer sleeves with darts around the cuffs to echo the neckline and hem. It’s bright red and black houndstooth check wool mix and a really comfy dress for cooler days. I made it again in a stripe later in the year.
img_4982
I cut the short sleeves on the bias to give them an interesting effect although they’re a bit tight on me for some reason so I’ve only worn it once so far. I love the binding around the neck though!
img_4461
This one was an absolute pleasure to make, it’s a’graduation’ gown for a little boy with dwarfism-he looked brilliant it in and his little face was a joy to see-that’s when I love what I do.
img_4493
I loved this fabric so much but stupidly didn’t buy enough so it’s tight around my hips and snug over the bust, I wore it anyway. The pattern is adapted from Simplicity 1620

This gorgeous fabric came from Faberwood and although I only had 1.5m I got two tops out of it! On the left is New Look 6230 (free from Sew magazine!) On the right is a top from a hacked pattern I’ve used at least 5 times in various versions either as a top or a dress.

Still with me…?

Next up was an Alder from Grainline patterns, the summer version was a cotton poplin from Backstitch and the red is more recent and I’ve added long sleeves . Both have had plenty of wear.

img_4654
This is the simplest top ever! It’s quite literally two rectangles of silk crepe de chine joined at the shoulders and two side seams.
img_4653
Another holiday pic, this is Simplicity 1665 and another freebie. In fact the fabric was gifted too!
img_4697
This dress was custom-made for Liz’s eldest son’s wedding, you can read how I created it here 

 

This top has been one of my absolute favourites over the summer, it’s my version of a RTW  top from last year and was an early blog post. The skirt was a wonky bolt-end of jersey I turned into a super-comfy skirt, even the elastic in the waist came from something else.

img_4811
gorgeous bridesmaids, what else can I say. Old-school petticoats and Cath Kidston styling-lovely.
img_4904
Pyjama shorts for Mr Y-they have steam trains on!

This was another extreme labour of love. It’s a jacket made for Portia Lawrie‘s The Refashioners project 2016. It didn’t win but I got a mention in despatches and I’ve had a lot of use out of it. The dress underneath is from last year and is one of my absolute favourites-I’ve had random strangers on public transport compliment me about it!

I love this waxed cotton dress, I got the pattern (Simplicity 2444) from the swap at the Weekender in August (and the button was in the goody bag) and the fabric is from a shop in Walthamstow.

This was my first Tilly and the Buttons pattern and also my first properly inserted exposed zip. I blogged about it here. Then came a pattern-testing opportunity for Megan Nielsen patterns, her new Karri dress to be precise. You can read the blog for that here.img_0111

Next was a bit of fun with this swooshy cape, I’ve blogged that on here, the lovely fabric came from Fabrics Galore when I visited the London Knitting and Stitching Show in October.

img_0141

While I was working on many of these things I was slowly beavering away on possibly my favourite dress ever-it’s the gorgeous evening dress I created for our special Ladies Night in November.

img_0267
I felt so glamorous and pretty in it.

Nearly there…

img_0375
This was more of a wearable toile from a PDF in Love Sewing Magazine by Thrifty Stitcher Claire-Louise Hardie. I really like the clever front folds with integral pockets, it’s quite short for me so it’s strictly a thick tights dress!
img_0388
Self-drafted trousers with welt pockets, in a lovely ponte from Ditto. They finished up a little big for some reason which is strange as I’ve made 3 other pairs and they’ve been fine-oh well.
img_0455
I love this top so much! I’m wearing it right now and when I find the right fabric I’ll be making more, possibly with long sleeves and roll-back cuffs.
img_0511
Obviously this isn’t a dress at all, this is Doris being a Christmas cracker at our Christmas Tree Festival in December. Twinkly fabric from Goldhawk Road.

Almost finally, this is version 1 of the Zoe dress from Sew Now magazine, in a lovely printed denim from Ditto

img_0253

img_0536
…and this is the final (probably) completed project of the year. It’s version 2 of Zoe by Simple Sew which was free with new magazine Sew Now. The printed cord came from Goldhawk Rd in West London.

There was one last dress I made recently which wasn’t so successful not because the pattern wasn’t good but because the fabric didn’t work well for the style. I have worn it but there’s no photo, I intend making it again because I really like the pattern but I’ll be more careful with fabric choice this time. I’ll write a review when I’m happier with it, it was me not the pattern!

So there we have it, well done for sticking with me all the way through this trawl of the last 12 sewing months. In between all the making I completed a large number of bridal and other alterations, which are much less fun frankly. I’ve taught lots of lovely people new things too either individually or in weekly classes. It’s been so much fun. I’ve really enjoyed meeting lots of sewers and dressmakers in the flesh this year too and I hope there’ll be more opportunities for meet ups and Weekenders next year, I like nothing better than to get together with other people to talk sewing/patterns/fabrics until the cows come home…

There’ll be one last blog for 2016 which will be a review of the two shirts I’ve just made Mr Y for Christmas, but I haven’t written that yet….

Thank you for reading my blog and I really like to receive your comments. I hope there’ll be a lot more sewing fun in 2017. I’ll still be pushing myself to try new techniques and methods and patterns, I’m every bit as keen to learn new things as any beginner-I love learning from newbies just as much as I’m happy to share what I know with you. Just because I’ve been doing this forever is irrelevant, we’re never too old to learn something new, or another way of doing it.

Don’t forget that, if you don’t already, you can find my page on Facebook at Susan Young Sewing and also on Instagram (susanyoungsewing) that’s usually where I post lots of pictures of what I’ve been sewing, galleries and museums I’ve visited and what my cats are up to!!

Merry Christmas, a healthy and prosperous 2017, and lots more sewing of course,

Sue xx

Testing Karri, a new Megan Nielsen pattern

Ages ago I volunteered (via her website) to be a pattern tester for Megan Nielsen, an independent pattern designer based in Australia, for those of you not familiar with her.

I’d forgotten all about it when in early June I got an email inviting me to participate with testing the next new release…so exciting!! Then, disappointment…because the timing was terrible for me. The pattern was due to be sent out at the end of June with late July as the expected date for feedback. Why was this disappointing? Because I was going on holiday on July 1st for two weeks and when I returned I’d have no time to get the dress made because of bridal alteration commitments-sad times.

I emailed to let them know (because basically it would be rude not to do it when they’d invited me to help!) I had a lovely reply to say they’d still send the PDF and if I could get it done then great but if not, then never mind.

I’d never actually made a PDF pattern before this so I downloaded it but that’s as far as I got before going on holiday. I naively thought that if you printed it out on bigger paper then the fewer sheets it took so I gaily asked my daughter (an intelligent girl…usually) to print it for me while I was away because I was still optimistic that I might get it done. She printed it off on A3 paper but oh dear…all that happens is it prints it out bigger so the sizing is totally wrong!! [some of you will be laughing by now at my rookie error but I’m hoping that others will be thinking “Oh, I didn’t know that either” in which case this is a public service announcement!] 

All this meant that when I got back and had to hit the ground running with my other commitments I had no chance of completing it by the feedback deadline. It languished for weeks before I finally could get sticking. In truth I’m not sure I’m wild about PDF patterns yet but I can see that they have advantages-they are cheaper than a paper version of an indie pattern, you can reprint them as often as you want and you can print them on regular paper which is sturdier than tissue. The disadvantage is they can take ages to put together and they can be confusing at times to find the matching parts, not to mention possibly running out of ink and/or paper halfway through.

Anyway, once I’d got Karri all put together I could set to work. Included with the printouts are a helpfully clear list and pictures of the various pattern pieces needed (there are quite a few because the front bodice has several sections and the lining is different to the outer shell) I found this useful once I’d got the pieces largely put together so I knew I hadn’t missed anything out. There’s also line drawing which you can label or colour in if that helps with your design choices-the suggestion being that you could use up lots of scraps of fabric to create Karri.

I had a sample length of some navy fabric woven with dots which I’d bought ages ago at Hitchin market so I decided to use that. I’d also bought some navy of the lovely quality Italian lining at the K&S show at the same time as the red/green shot that went under my recent party frock so I was all set.

I was very impressed with the quality of the pattern in the sense that it appeared to have already been ‘trued’. I didn’t find any notches or markings missing, there were no strange wonky angles or un-matching seam lengths. It felt like a human had drawn and created it, not a computer program. My only observation (had I been in time to make them) would be to make the grain lines much longer on every piece, this is a real bugbear of mine as they’re almost always too short so are neither use nor ornament. TOP TIP-if the grain line is ever too short draw it on for yourself across the full length of the pattern piece, you’ll be able to get the placement along the grain much more accurate. I also decided that I’d move the grain line to run equidistant through the middle of the centre front and centre back panels, instead of following the CF and CB edges. Why? because if they’re on the same grain as the side front and side back panels then all  the panels will fall or drape in the same way. This also doesn’t make a lot of difference to the amount of fabric the dress takes, in fact I found it didn’t affect the lay plan significantly at all. One other minor change I made was to lengthen the sleeves slightly as I’m not mad about my upper arms.

Sewing the dress up was very straightforward, even though the front style-lines look complex. I slightly altered the order and method of making up and inserting the lining purely because I wanted a more streamlined finish to the inside and I knew a different way of achieving this.

The skirt is a nice length and I’m pleased I moved the grain line for the centre front and backs because they have a nice flow to them. The pockets are a useful addition but you could easily leave them out if fabric or time is tight.

The one significant thing I changed was the width of the shoulders, they were quite a bit too wide for me and I don’t think I’m particularly narrow across the shoulder. They extended too far over the ends of my shoulders and didn’t look good. I discovered this a bit too late because I’d already put the sleeves in and they just looked all wrong. I unpicked the sleeve heads (not the whole sleeves) moved them by about 1.2cms  and restitched them back in. They are aren’t my neatest job as result but they’ll do.

Also, because the dress fully lined, there aren’t any neck facings to contend with.img_0109

I’m not sure how much I like the deep V back as well but that’s probably an age-related issue not a style one and I can easily raise it up when I make it again.

Overall I was pleased with the accuracy of the fit (shoulders aside)-it was true to the measurements I took, I was slightly between sizes.

I finished the hem by hand because I didn’t want the hem spoilt by being machine-sewn.

img_0382
Herringbone stitch on the hem.

 

img_0111
My finished Karri

Overall I like the Karri pattern and I’m sure it will be popular. It could be made up in a variety of fabrics from wool crepe or tweed to georgette for the more adventurous amongst you to make it totally individual-my version looks quite business-like but it would also look good in denim or a feminine printed cotton. The front shoulder sections and sleeves would look pretty in lace too. Have a look at Megan‘s own site for more inspirational ideas from other bloggers.

As always, all opinions expressed are my own and I’ve received no payment or sponsorship  for them. I’ll definitely be making another Karri at some point, possibly with a longer sleeve for winter, or sleeveless for the summer. I’d happily pattern-test again too, hopefully the timing would be better then, because I love any excuse to sew and it’s lovely to feel involved in the whole business of helping to create someone’s vision. I’ve had such a breadth of experience over the years that I really hope and believe I can assist and offer good advice (often based on my own mistakes!)

Happy Sewing

Sue xx