Sewing Leftovers: a Jazz Jumpsuit mash up

Here's the final hangover from 2018, an experimental and show stopping Sewing Leftovers effort that cut its teeth as my party-wear of choice for the festive season! I drew upon some of my favourite patterns from my collection and of course, the leftovers of this bargain bin fabric, and was proudly able to dance around my work's Christmas do telling everyone my jumpsuit cost less than a fiver. January's pretty low on the party front, but it's dying for another spin - please someone give me a reason to celebrate!

A Jazz Jumpsuit mash up!
Original garment made: This True Bias Nikko Dress

Leftover fabric amount:  Just over a metre, with a sticky out chunk on the end!

Sewing Leftovers make: A jumpsuit mash up using the bodice from the Ready to Sew Jazz with the view D of the B6178 Culottes (lengthened)

Leftovers-wise what did I learn?: Sometimes you have an idea in your head and you just can't let it go, even there isn't enough fabric left to bring it to life, so... all the cutting rules go out the window. The pockets were the first sacrifice and after a bit of pattern tetris, I started using the grainline and cross grainline interchangeably. This meant some neatening up during the project in order to make my wonky masterpiece work!

About the make:
I'd decided that I needed a pair of luxe, wide-leg party trousers and this fabric came to mind. But surely there was enough to make a jumpsuit? There wasn't, really, but my mind was already set. Cue the most frustrating afternoon of the year, trying to somehow make my pattern pieces fit. The leg pattern pieces of the Jazz Jumpsuit were too wide for my leftovers but the B6178 culottes were a good swap - they're straight and a little narrower so I could squeeze both legs onto my fabric when placed on the cross grain. I had no worries about this as I'd cut my Nikko Dress in the same way so that the ribbed texture of the crushed velvet/velour ran vertically rather horizontally. 

The loose Jazz bodice needed narrowing quite so the culotte bottoms could be gathered in to the waist. I skipped the darts on the trousers in favour for a little more fabric to gather in too. The bodice front was squeezed out of the fabric left between the crotch curves of each leg, but I struggled to tetris the two back bodice pieces in place and that's why - you may notice - the ribbing runs horizontally across the back. I'm all for switching between the grainline/cross-grainline, but I wouldn't normally recommend mixing the two! I definitely had even out the bottom of the bodice, which sagged all over the place when sewn together.

I got the fabric from a grab bin for really cheap because it has some pretty big flaws in it. I'd managed to avoid some of the bigger ones with my Nikko Dress, but just had to go with whatever fabric I could for the jumpsuit pieces. It's not ideal - you can probably spot some of the flaws in these pictures - but maybe there's something about it that adds character? On the upside, I used every last bit of my fabric apart from a few tiny slithers.

Back view - and horizontal stripes across the back bodice!
Having made both patterns before, the construction was really simple, especially as I had to give the pockets a miss. The fabric has some stretch to it, so I had to stabilised the centre back edge with interfacing before inserting the zip. I also tried to stabilise the shoulders with a scrap of selvedge fabric as there's quite a lot of weight hanging from them, but I ended up having to redo the neckline and shoulders as this made it too bulky.

The project did become more involved towards the end, with quite a bit of hand stitching required to finish and neaten it up. Despite understitching the neckline facing, this fabric was desperate to roll through to the right side, so it's carefully tacked to the bodice. I used satin bias binding to finish the armholes, hand stitching it in place for a neater finish. I also constructed little thread belt loops using this YouTube tutorial to hold the waist tie in place.

A Sewing Leftovers win!!!
All in all, it was worth the headache of cutting it out, the risk of dodgy pattern placement and the patience required to finish the jumpsuit because it's SO GOOD to wear! I wasn't sure the statement wide leg trouser would 100% work for me, but it feels and looks so fancy (whilst still maintaining the comfort level of pyjamas). The drape and movement of the fabric has made this idea just as good as I imagined, if not better. I would happily make the same pattern mash up all over again if I had the leftovers for it. I'd maybe even consider sourcing some new fabric for a second version, should the occasion call for it. 

For now though, I have my go to - send those party invites my way!

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Behind the Scenes at Love Sewing - M7661 Reader Review

Back in November, I had the pleasure of going 'behind the scenes' at Love Sewing Magazine HQ for a 'Reader Review' photoshoot and I can finally show you what I made for it, as well as give you a little peek into the process! I didn't hesitate when asked as the pattern in question is one of my favourites of last year, the M7661 trousers (here's some I made earlier)! Issue 62, featuring my review and a free copy of the M7661 pattern is on sale now so go and grab a copy!

M7661 Trousers for Love Sewing issue 62

Amy kindly asked me if I'd like to be involved a month before the photoshoot, so this has been quite some time in the works. I'd already planed to make another pair with a contrast side panel, so it slotted in well with my sewing plans at the time. I had plenty of freedom to select the version and fabric I wanted to use, which Amy helped me source - thanks to Minerva Crafts for providing both of these. It was quite a tight turnaround to get the trousers made and ready for the shoot, but me being me, I obviously had to give myself extra work by making a Reeta Shirt to match (see previous versions here) from the contrast panel #sewingleftovers.

On set!
On the day
After a bit of home posing, I travelled to the Stockport-based studio with my garment bag in hand. I had my make up and hair done by Nina and Amy helped to prep my outfit for camera - amongst her many skills, she's also a talented top tucker and bow tier, who knew! Amy had offered to source tops/shoes for the shoot too and I had my pick from the accessory wall, but I chose to go with my own. Once I was ready, I got to go on set where Renata took many, many pictures! It's quite a different experience to my usual DIY picture taking set up - though similarly embarrassing at first - but it was fun once I got into it!
With Amy for the editors welcome!
After getting some review shots and pictures with Amy for her editor's welcome (hey guys I made it to page 3...!) I got the chance to get some extra snaps of the details and a headshot just for featuring on the blog.
Professionally avoiding fringe separation since 2005
Post-shoot, just checking what my make up looked like
Post production
And then there's the wait... The issue came out on December 27th (though I think subscribers received their copies a little earlier), so I had to keep quiet about the shoot until then! After the Christmas break, I got chance to go through the contact sheet and pick some of my own favourite images from the shoot, so you'll see some of these below spliced into my review.
Love Sewing issue 62

The review (and pictures!)
If it isn't the 'year of the trouser' for everyone else, then it certainly has been for me. The McCall's 7661 might just be my favourite trouser pattern of the ones I've sewn up this year - this is my third pair and I'd say they're the best yet!

The high-waisted trousers are really easy to both put together and wear, with the different views offering a few variations for the legs - either a more voluminous culotte and full length style, or the slimmer, but still fairly loose fitting leg with the option of contrast side panels. I opted for the latter and a tie waist for this pair with View A.

With winter in mind, I picked a soft, textured charcoal flannel suiting from Minerva Crafts priced at £7.99 per metre. I wanted a side panel that popped, so I had lots of colours to choose from with the luxurious Atelier Brunette Viscose Crepe. I eventually picked the 'Tangerine' colourway, priced at £15.99 per metre and also from Minerva Crafts. The crepe was a little lighter than I anticipated, so I got around this by doubling up my fabric for the side panel. (Eagle-eyed readers might also notice that I managed to squeeze a matching Reeta Shirt out of my leftovers too)!

The pattern has a lot of included ease, so I picked my size based on the finished garment measurements for the waist: a size 12, despite my measurements aligning more closely to the size 14. The fit through the hip is nice and relaxed, especially as the trousers are quite heavily gethered into the front waistband, so it's really only the waist that needs to fit snugly. A little tip for finding the finished waist measurement: check the waistband pattern pieces closely as you won't find it on the pattern envelope!

I made the pattern straight from the envelope with no adjustments. The trousers fasten with a centred lapped zipper at the back, but I swapped mine out for an invisible zip as I prefer the method and finish. From wearing my other pairs, I've also found that using a 10" zipper makes them much easier to wiggle on and off than the recommended length of 9".

This pattern is definitely a good introduction for anyone feeling a little tentative about trouser making, but with plenty of options for the bolder wearer to get creative with. The loose fit around the hips makes them both flattering and easy to fit. I love the contrast side panel and I can see myself playing with this again for version four, five and maybe more!

I hope you enjoyed a little peek into how things went - and a change from my regular red brick backdrop! Do you have your copy yet? Does the pattern tempt you? 

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2018 in Sewing vs 2019 in Sewing Plans

I've been contemplating the 'make nine' concept. For me, it's always going to throw up some difficulties - I only put down the things I want to make NOW, rather than looking ahead for the year. This means some things are left unmade due to changing my mind over time (not necessarily a bad thing), but I also tend to do a big rush to make things from the list before giving myself enough time to consider them, the less-good outcome being that I find myself unsure of the pattern/garment once it's finished.  

Whilst on the surface, my 7 out of 9 makes for the #2018makenine challenge looks like quite a positive, when you unpick the aftermath: the wears and the fate of each garment, this pictured 'success' actually looks quite different'...

#2018makenine: 7 out of 9, but it's not all as rosy as it seems...
Papercut Patterns Kyoto Sweater in green sweatshirting (unblogged)
January 2018
Fate: recycled
This was a real fail: the fabric looked cheap and the neckline gaped to an unwearable extent - something I found with other Kyotos. I'm giving up on this pattern.

Simplicity 8459 in orange corduroy
January 2018
Fate: charity shop
I really enjoyed making this and I was even pleased with the finished product, but surprisingly it just didn't fall into regular rotation. Maybe the corduroy was a bit thin for the project. I'm hoping someone else gets more love out of it than me!

Lander Pants, multiple pairs
February-May 2018
Fate: Two worn, one charity shopped
I had a real bee in my bonnet over the Landers at the beginning of the year, determined but struggling to get the fit right. I learnt a lot about making adjustments, but mainly that I have a long crotch (!!!) and the two that are still in the wardrobe (one in black cord and this pair in yellow denim) are just almost spot on! I'll probably return to this pattern at some point in 2019, with just a few more tweaks.

Named Clothing Nascha Mini Skirt in mustard denim

DP Studio le 809 Coat in grey leopard print wool
January 2018
Fate: worn
This was very much a challenging make, but a coat which got a lot of wear early in the year. Unfortunately I haven't been as tempted to put it back on this winter, feeling it looks that bit too oversized, but it survived the big end of year clear out at least.

République du Chiffon Elisabeth Blouse in khaki crepe (unblogged)
April 2018
Fate: charity shop
This was a clunky make, mainly starting with the wrong fabric choice (too heavy) and extending to my poor efforts with the details (see this Instagram post). The finished blouse looked ok, but the volume and swing of it just didn't suit me.

DP Studio le 915 Shirt Dress in bottle green viscose
Unmade but fabric reallocated
Perhaps one of my best decisions of this year's make nine was to reallocate this bottle green viscose to making one of my favourite garments of the year: the Pretty Mercerie Sayan Blouse

Wool and the Gang Relax Knit Through it Sweater
December 2018
Fate: worn
It took almost a year, but I finished my first knitted jumper and it felt all new kinds of rewarding!

Trend Patterns Side Drawstring Dress
August 2018
Fare: worn
A massive challenge, a bit of a headache, but it's still hanging in the wardrobe and gets the occasional wear!

So onto this year's plans, and still using the #2019makenine concept, but thinking of ways I can better make it work for me. Similar to last year, I already have the pattern, and in some cases the fabric for all of my chosen projects, so I'm investing in my stash. I've tried to include choices that are (hopefully) more timeless, leaning towards the bigger projects like jackets and bags, and another knitted project as I enjoyed last year's so much.

1) Fibremood Carmella Jumpsuit
2) Joe Ready to Sew Blazer in grey pinstripe wool with matching trousers (pattern TBD)
3) Sarah Kirsten Fennel Fanny Pack
4) Trend Patterns TPC12 Utility Trousers, first in corduroy (hopefully a wearable muslin) and then in rich blue denim
5) Sew Over It Cocoon Coat in Maculloch & Wallis mohair, which I finally took the plunge on
6) Fibre Mood Tara Knitted Jumper
7) Pretty Mercerie Sayan Blouse in yellow crepe bought at Tomato in Tokyo
8) Making Backpack by Noodlehead (this one is by @notaprimarycolour)
9) True Bias Nikko Dress hack to match this Phoebe Philo for Celine dress

I plan to be thoughtful with these makes and flexible with myself and my choices - if I change my mind on something, that's totally fine. All the projects should present a bit of a challenge, even the Sayan which I'm revisiting and the Nikko Dress, which will need a bit more consideration due to the hack. Hopefully this will help me to take things more slowly.

Have you been rethinking your sewing plans this year?

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My first knit: WATG Relax Knit Through it Sweater

When you make your own clothes and people get to know about it, after a while they just shrug off a new item, like 'yeah of course, you made it'. So whilst my new jumper might just be yet another thing I've made, as my very first hand knitted jumper, I think it's a totally monumental make! After learning to knit as a child, it's only taken 20 years (nearly a year of those spent making this jumper!) to finally catch the knitting bug!

It's almost a year to the day since I started making this Wool and the Gang Relax Knit Through It Sweater having bought the kit in the 2017 Christmas sales. I bought the pattern and Feeling Good Yarn alone saving money on the needles as I already had a pair in my stash. Their well-styled but arguably overpriced knit kits always tempt me as the quick fix way to get started on a project, but it takes a bit more willpower to finish them. I've seen a lot of sewists pick up the knitting needles recently - see the amazing bubble sleeve cardigan by @rubymurraysmusings and Emily Self Assembly Required's incredible chunky knit efforts for serious inspiration - which helped in spurring me on to finish this long-time project.

Composition: Baby Alpaca 70% / Merino 7% and Nylon 23%
I chose the beautiful Cinnamon Dust Feeling Good Yarn as I was going through my orange phase at the time (see this skirt and these trousers) and luckily I still love the colour now it's finished. Size 2 requires 6 balls, but I was surprised to find that I only used 5 in the end - though I wouldn't take the risk on ordering less, having heard a friend's knitting horror story of running out of wool with another WATG kit!

The sweater is knitted on 6.5mm needles so it comes together quite quickly when you put the effort in. It's made up of stocking stitch squares without any shaping, so it's easy to the point where it's almost a boring knit (I clearly can't find the balance between interest/speed with my knitting)!

I learnt the long tail cast on which gives a more elastic finish. The written guidance on this isn't the best and I struggled to visualise the technique, so I'd recommend watching the Wool and the Gang YouTube tutorials. Having spent years casting on (mainly hats) using the standard method, I'm a total convert. I used the long tail method for a new hat recently and it gives a much neater edge.

Stocking stitch squares, pre-funnel neck
The most fun and challenging part of the make was picking up stitches around the neckline for the  funnel neck. After sewing up one shoulder seam, you add the neck stitches from the front and back sweater to your needle before knitting another long piece of stocking stitch, This means you have to sew up the other side of the neck, leaving a visible seam on the wrong side when the neck rolls into place. If I was savvier with knitting, I think I'd do this on a circular needle in future to avoid that extra seam.

I finally learnt how to sew up my knitting properly with invisible seams, which is probably one of the most useful skills I gained from this project. Again, the YouTube tutorials were much easier to digest than the written instructions.

Back view

I actually had a bit of a mare with sewing up as the measurements given for attaching the sleeves are really small. I attached both sleeves and sewed a whole side up before realising that it was impossibly small in the armpit and unpicking the whole thing. If you think unpicking sewing is a pain, try undoing your invisible seams in an alpaca/mohair mix wool - definitely tested my patience! If I was to make the jumper again, I'd go up a size for the sleeve to give a bit more room for movement.

Jumper love
I don't think it's the most flattering or beautiful sweater in the world - thanks to my Dad and boyfriend for the comments of 'did you run out of wool?', 'it's a bit short' - but it doesn't matter as I feel SO PROUD knowing I made it. Despite making me a bit sneezy, the wool is so soft and warm. I'm not giving up on sewing by any means, but I am finally ready to embrace the knitting needles!

I do think you're paying mostly for the brand with Wool and the Gang, so moving away from them, I'm currently eyeing up all the amazing chunky knit patterns from Good Night, Day. Next up though is the Fibre Mood Tara, using this super chunky bargain wool in olive from Wool Warehouse - heads up, there are also some amazing sewing patterns in Fibre Mood too! Has anyone else caught the knitting bug this winter?

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Pretty Mercerie Sayan Blouse

You know those patterns that you see and just have to have? The Pretty Mercerie Sayan Blouse is one of them - maybe the one for me. It didn't matter that the instructions were in French, there was no PDF option available and the postage was close to astronomical: after seeing this version by @lamaisonsixchouettes I was totally sold. And after making it I can confidently say I have no regrets!
Pretty Mercerie Sayan Blouse
My pattern arrived quickly and was beautifully packaged, which softened the blow of international postage. I muddled my way through the instructions with the help of the Google Translate app, which translates the text it identifies in the pictures you take. This was smooth in the majority, particularly considering that 'sewing speak' doesn't always translate so well! The construction is fairly straightforward and the illustrations are a great help, so confident makers could probably just go ahead without the instructions.

Pretty packaging
Inside the pattern envelope
I tend to find that I span a range of sizes with French pattern companies. I also find that the sizing can run quite small. For reference in this case, my measurements are 91-72-93, putting me right across 3 different sizes - a 40 at the bust, between a 38/40 at the waist and a 42 for the hips. I traced a straight size 40 for ease, and because the blouse looked fairly loose fitting. This was definitely the right choice, but as a word of warning, the waist through to hips is a bit more fitted than I anticipated. Though I'll mostly be wearing mine tucked in, it would sit better when untucked if I'd graded it out from the waist - something I'd probably do in future!

Off the back of this, there was a bit of a discussion on Instagram about the often limited size range of French pattern companies. Pretty Mercerie chipped in offering apologies for their currently limited 34 - 46 size range. This pattern is a part of their first pattern collection and they indicated that they were testing the waters a bit, but said that they're trying their best to offer a more inclusive size range, English instructions and a PDF version ASAP, which is promising.

Worn with my Ready to Sew Juliette

This deep bottle green, fluid viscose has been in my stash for ages. In fact, it was originally allocated to making the DP Studio Le 915 as a part of my 2018 make nine, which hasn't yet materialised, so at least it's being put to use! The fabric is quite light, so well suited for some of the more delicate design features of the Sayan. I'm not sure if it's the language barrier, but I couldn't see any suggestion of using interfacing in the pattern instructions. I'd class this as an essential for a crisp, professional finish, so cut pieces for the front facing, one of the collar pieces, and a pair for the cuffs.

Cuff detailing!
I rarely sew shirts as I worry I don't have the precision to pull off the finer details such as cuffs and plackets, but my need to make the Sayan outweighed my regular avoidance tactics. The only bit that confused me was understanding the Google translation for making the sleeve plackets. I half followed the instructions and half made them from memory - though I'm sure there are plenty of YouTube tutorials out there to help - and the results are good enough for me!

Cuffs and button holes

When I commit to things I'd usually avoid, I don't do them by halfs, so I made 8 matching self cover buttons. Pressing them closed hurt my hands/fingers so much that I had to do them in two sittings, but they do make for a real professional finish. Does anyone have the magic trick for non-painful button covering? I took real time with my buttonholes; practicing, measuring and marking them out and using loads of fray check. I probably didn't breath for the whole length of time I was cutting them open either, but phew, I'd go as far as saying I think they're the buttonholes of my life.

I noticed a couple of missing notches for the tie belts, but the positioning is easy to work out. Other than that, the make was a breeze and it's filled me with confidence in my abilities to approach other makes that I'd ordinarily avoid. Despite the small hurdles - mainly me not understanding French - I would 100% recommend the pattern and would definitely be up for trying more Pretty Mercerie patterns in future. It looks like they've actually just released 4 new patterns and I'm very tempted by the Yokohama Coat.

Anthropologie inspo
I LOVE my finished Sayan Blouse and can see myself wearing it again and again, whether I'm trying to look smart for work, or dressed down with it layered over a turtleneck. I saw these two blouses in Anthropologie and they've definitely got future-Sayan written all over them, particularly the one with D-rings at the tie! Question is, what colour shall I choose for the next?

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