Twisted Sister!

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I had a nice piece of my black, suiting fabric left over from my recent By Hand London Charlotte Skirt. I’d actually made a note for myself on the pattern to buy less than the required amount next time as I’d ended up chopping so much off the length. I didn’t quite trust myself though, so bought the recommended requirements. Anyhow, flicking through some sewing books last weekend I came across this Tunic pattern in The Great British Sewing Bee’s original book. It’s the only pattern that actually came with the book and the amount needed suited my leftovers perfectly. And because it’s using up leftovers, I figured it wasn’t deviating too far from my plans.

I wasn’t taking any risks with the sizing, as the last (and only) couple of projects I’ve made from this book came up pretty small, so I cut a 12 and the shortest (waist) version. I soon realised that this was far too big, and took an extra inch off each side seam, so a size 10 next time then. The instructions were pretty clear and helpful, but I reshuffled the order a bit. It’s labelled as a ‘two button’ make, so presumably pretty easy, and it was, right up until the facing…

Mmmm… Inserting the facing involved a kind of two-in-one insertion whereby you  attached it, firstly along the neckline (simple enough), but then kind of pulled it inside out (or in on itself!?) to attach the same piece to the armholes. Now although this read like double Dutch the first couple of times I read it, eventually I could see what I was supposed to do. But I do mean see, I couldn’t actually do it!

After much pinning and unpinning I figured if I could get half way round, and then take out half the pins, I might be able to pull the rest through, which kind of worked in that I completed the loop, but it’s ended up looking pretty twisted! Granted, on the insides mostly, so I’ve had to hand stitch the facing down in several places to stop it from twisting outwards, which mostly worked. It’s a pretty loose design, so hopefully this won’t be too uncomfy to wear. There must be a knack to doing this though. I’ve been following The Frugal Stitcher’s 30 day challenge (featuring an item a day from the latest book) and she referenced a similar technique on a different top, so fingers crossed they’ll be revisiting it on an upcoming programme, so I can figure the technique out. It does create a really neat (if I ignore the twisted bits) finish on the inside so I figure it would be a good skill to learn.

Even though it’s not perfect (boy am I itching to get back to knits and my overlocker), I think it will be a really useful piece. I’m wearing it below with my matching Charlotte Skirt, and I love the way it almost looks like a dress when worn together. Even though I seem to have lost the knack of sewing with wovens, I’m learning to love thinking creatively, to use up every last scrap of fabric. Anyone else learning to love their leftovers or have a go-to leftover pattern that takes up a minimum amount of fabric?

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Rubbish, fuzzy shots today sorry as weather and light so atrocious. Clearly, I piled on the layers for work (can you spot yet another infinity scarf? Burgundy this time), but it was great to find that it layered up really easily. Finally another shot of my twisted seams. You can just about make out where I’ve had to anchor it down to stop it rolling outwards. My innards are far from perfect, but I’m getting there slowly.

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By Hand London Charlotte Skirt

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It’s true what they say on The Great British Sewing Bee about solid colours showing up all the tiny faults. I was so pleased with this when I’d finished it, but trying to photograph it really did show up every small flaw… Oh well, it wasn’t made for photographing, but for wearing…

This is the second of my wardrobe gaps projects. I’m trying to be far more focused this year on ensuring that whatever I make actually gets worn. I’m not doing too badly so far, but then again, it’s only February…

I knew that this was going to get lots of wear, so I spent a little more (£11 per metre) on my fabric than usual (although I’m unfortunately getting a real taste for nicer fabrics). It’s from John Lewis and is labelled as ‘stretch suiting’ which sounded perfect for creating a little more ‘wiggle-room’ in this pattern. It wasn’t  the most exciting fabric purchase, but I knew that it would earn its keep in my work wardrobe.

I cut a size 10 as I’ve sewn twice before. Because it was half term this week I was forced to make this skirt up piecemeal-style, in between getting jobs done, days out with the kids and just relaxing. I was itching to spend a whole afternoon on it, but it wasn’t to be…

I sewed in the darts (twice, first time they ended up totally mismatching, grr…) and attached the front to the backs on my regular machine, before switching to my overlocker to finish the seams. This is the first time I’ve done this on a woven make, and I was ridiculously chuffed with the professional finish it produced 🙂 The invisible zip went in easily enough, but I had to unpick the back seam, as I’d created a bubble just under the bottom of the zip.

The lining came together just fine. I’d forgotten how much hand sewing was involved in this make, but my new sewing wax made this a much less frustrating process 🙂 However when it came to sewing the inner waist band, I just couldn’t muster up the energy, so I carefully pinned it and stitched in the ditch instead. This was so much quicker and easier, and to be honest, both looked fine and felt a whole lot more secure than my hand stitching ever does! I hemmed it, added the fastening: a fancy, large, furred hook and eye. But of course I sewed it on the wrong way round… Second time lucky!

I then stood back and admired my handiwork. I felt so pleased with this, even promising myself that I’d never need buy a RTW pencil skirt again…

But then I tried to take my photos… On the hanger at first, but my second attempt at getting my darts to match, although better than my first, clearly still didn’t entirely match. And on the back, my second attempt to rid myself of that annoying bubble, again although better than my first, still didn’t look entirely neat 😦 Once on, it looked a whole lot better, I guess we look at the ‘whole’, rather than the smaller details of an outfit. It’s not perfect, and now I know all this, I’m not quite so convinced that I won’t ever need to buy a RTW pencil skirt again, but it’s pretty close. And at least I have a nice outfit planned for the first day back at work, which goes some way to ridding myself of the back-to-school-blues…

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A Sewing Good Read

I first discovered the writer Adriana Trigiani while on holiday last Summer. I’d picked up her ‘Big Stone Gap‘ for the bargain price of 99 pence, along with a stack of others in a local charity shop. It came highly recommended, with review sound bites from both Sarah Jessica Parker and Whoopie Goldberg no less. Set in Virginia, it’s a romantic, feel-good tale of its narrator’s voyage of self discovery.

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So when I spotted another title, ‘Lucia, Lucia’, by the same author in another charity shop recently I couldn’t resist! And I’m sew glad I didn’t. It’s the first time my two favourite hobbies of sewing and reading have collided so happily, and to such great effect 🙂 I’ve read a couple of novels involving knitting before: they were ‘ok‘ in a kind of lightweight, but if I’m honest, slightly naff way… This, however was well-written and totally convincing. It revolves around a young, Italian girl who becomes an apprentice for a clothing designer at a Fifth Avenue department store, and amongst other themes, charts the golden age of couture design in the most intricate detail. It really was a joy to read!

Around the same time I managed to get hold of the Autumn/ Winter, Burda Vintage Style Special. While I’ve no intention of making any of the beautiful designs featured any time soon (although I have spied a very tempting version of the Rosa Balloon Jacket over at handmadebychris.wordpress.com), what I loved about this publication was the in-depth history behind each style featured, complete with the most lovely images, sigh!

Sometimes it’s just as good to read about sewing as it is to actually do some sewing.. Has anyone else come across any other ‘sewing’ novels that you’d recommend?