The Seamworks Astoria, Mark II

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I LOVE this top, in fact I’d go as far as to say it’s possibly my favourite make to date! 🙂 While I didn’t get it right first time around, I knew Colette’s Astoria was worth a second attempt: this time in the right size and in a beautiful fabric I treated myself to with some of my marking pay.

The fabric is ‘cosy colours cream multi fleck’ in a sweatshirt weight. I bought it from Guthrie and Ghani’s online shop. It certainly wasn’t cheap, but so, so worth it! It’s a beautiful quality with lovely, multi-coloured, tonal, fleck details. This was my first experience of buying fabric online and I can highly recommend them. I managed to somehow delete one of the fabrics I’d wanted in my online order, so telephoned them early the next day to add it back in, and the assistant who answered couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful 🙂 The parcel arrived quickly (I’ll post details of what else I ordered in my Summer Holiday #Sundaysevens post over the weekend. Let’s just say I may have treated myself a fair bit…) and it also came complete with a personalised ‘with compliments’ card, commenting on their own experience of trying a pattern I’d purchased, which I thought was a lovely touch.

This time I sized up and cut a Medium, which seemed incredibly big for me (I buy an 8 or a 10 in RTW and usually cut a Small in patterns, but do have what my Grandmother would have called a ‘BUST, she had a much more impressive ‘BUST’ herself… if that helps with sizing at all for any would-be makers of this top). But I’m glad I did as the fit was spot-on: fitted enough to be flattering, but avoiding the Incredible Hulk impression my previous version created, never a good look, funnily enough… I also added an inch to the length of the bodice, even though I’m already pretty short, which worked perfectly whilst still keeping it ‘cropped’ in style. Because the fabric is fleece lined, I made the long-sleeved version this time around. It’s beautifully soft and warm.

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I just happened to have my yoga stuff on when I tried this on and it matched perfectly, but I also have a fair few bits of costume jewellery in these colours too, so it could easily look a lot smarter as well. This is exactly the sort of top I’d readily buy RTW, so I’m incredibly happy that I can now make it. I love how my list of ‘things not to buy when I can make them perfectly well myself thank you’ is steadily growing 🙂 I can already see a whole array of these in different fabrics: both different colours and weights.

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The Seamworks Astoria

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Despite having subscribed to Colette’s ‘Seamworks‘ online magazine since its launch, I’ve only attempted one of its patterns to date (the Oslo, see here). So I’m determined to fix this and therefore justify my subscription over the Summer break by working my way through them. Not quite all of them, the shorts in the last issue are seriously never going to make it into my wardrobe! But generally, I’ve really liked the majority of them so far; I’ve just been lacking the time to make them up.

The pattern I’ve most admired so far is the Astoria. It’s a cropped ‘jumper’ that both really suits my style and looks incredibly practical. I’ve seen a few lovely ones on various blogs, so I was really keen to try this one first. With time to fabric shop being in short supply lately, I searched through my fabric drawers and found this leftover, red knit from my Moneta dress. I was hoping it would make a wearable muslin, but alas, it was not to be…

With hindsight this material probably didn’t have quite enough stretch to it. But even so, the size S that I cut has come up a little too small all round, and I’ll definitely have to consider this next time I make it up. It’s also very short, which I appreciate is part of the design, and while I do like it with a high-waisted skirt such as my T & TB Delphine skirt worn in these photos, I think being this short would seriously limit how much I got to wear it, so definitely just a little longer next time.

I had some issues with my overlocker making this up. You might just be able to make out from the photos that my stitches are really ‘showing through’, probably because I’ve used too visible a colour in terms of the thread, but maybe also it needed tightening up? I did do a practice square and it seemed fine… Any overlocker experts out there? If so, am I right in thinking with this particular material I needed to ‘tighten’ up? Is it just the wrong colour? Or even just too small generally? By the time I got to hemming the sleeves I already knew this just wasn’t going to be, hence I just overlocked them quickly, rather that switching to my regular machine.

So, while this is never going to see the light of day again, it was still a useful process. The fabric was ‘free’ anyway and I’ve worked out a few tweaks ahead of purchasing some nicer fabric. It was also a good test of the time guidance Seamworks give you. I cut out the pieces ahead, but the sewing from start to finish took less than an hour, so their promise held good!

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Simple Tees

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Can you believe it’s taken me this long to sew my first t-shirt?

Thank you so much Sharon for recommending this pattern 🙂 It’s a freebie from Maria Denmark: you simply have to sign up to her newsletter to be able to download it. It’s called the Kirsten Kimono Tee, and do you know I’m rather taken with it? It’s a fairly loose design, but with more fitting around the hips which is really flattering. I imagine it would look particularly nice with flat-fronted trousers. You can see the fit better on Betty above. Because of the loose, kimono sleeve as well, it was easy to layer up with a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath for colder weather (which was pretty handy when we were up in Anglesey recently).

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I’ve never used one of her patterns before, but I found the instructions really clear and easy to follow. To be fair, it’s a pretty, simple design, but I was impressed with how the neckline came together: very straightforward following the accompanying images. I’d definitely consider purchasing another of her patterns.

Both of these fabrics came from my stash. I made the cream and blue striped one first which I’m particularly pleased with. The second one is ok, but I don’t like it quite so much. I really didn’t have a lot of fabric to play with, and couldn’t manage to cut it on the fold so had to do it in two halves. I really should have tried to match up the stripe better on the front though. Typically I got it perfect on the back!

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I’m kind of wishing I’d made these earlier, as they would have made weekends much easier during MMMay. I’m finding fitting in any sewing time in at the moment tricky though. I get a lot more wear out of long-sleeved t-shirts (we live in an old, Victorian house in the NW of England, so no surprises there). So inspired by these makes I’ve already printed off the free, Plantain t-shirt from Deer and Doe. I can’t quite tell whether the shape will be as flattering though, as it seems to swing out at the waist. Anyone else had a go?

But before then, the next bit of sewing I’m planning on is finishing off that jumpsuit #jumpingintojune