Simplicity 8459 Skirt (plus pattern giveaway!)

Probably my wisest decision of 2017 was to take the first week of 2018 off work, so I've been busying myself with my freshly laid out sewing plans. I didn't achieved masses, but I've definitely warmed up in advance of some major-commitment coat making (more on that soon)! I made a Papercut Patterns Kyoto Sweater - a fine palate cleansing project - and have just finished the slightly more satisfying Simplicity 8459 skirt.

Finished Simplicity 8459
The pattern is a fairly new-release from Simplicity and unlike the majority of 'Big 4' patterns, I was drawn to it because the cover version is actually, you know...nice! I also LOVE a project with hardware - it makes a simple make feel just that bit meatier and I secretly quite like the extra surprise from non-sewists when they found out you made it (but how you could've possibly made something with a buckle/rivet/D ring etc??).

Skirt making kit
I did an order from Minerva for all the hardware. After my button hardware troubles with the Lander Pants, I'm steering clear of cheap brands for a while so I went for Prym eyelets, which come with attachments to insert them that fit the pliers I have - they also include tools for if you don't have pliers too! Options were more limited for the buckle which needs to be 2" wide to fit the front wrap piece - you could probably adjust the pattern if necessary - but I'm pleased with the oval shaped one I managed to get to match the eyelets.

Tools for hardware insertion
Frustratingly for me who hovers around the 12-14 mark, the pattern size range runs from 4-12 and 14-22, so I actually ended up buying both due to fluctuating measurements (see further down the post if you'd like my extra copy)! I made a size 12 using rust orange corduroy from Fabrics for Sale. I had ordered enough fabric for the longer version, but decided that View B would fit in my wardrobe better based on how much wear my New Look 6418 mini skirts have had. The front wrap panel is lined in a perfect-match orange viscose that I happened to have in my stash and I think I'm going to use the remaining cord to make a matchy slouchy bag.

Although there is no provision for lengthening or shortening view B, I added an extra 1" to the length of my pieces when cutting as I was worried it might turn out obscenely short. And yes it is short - I'm a fairly average 5ft 6" for reference, but adding that extra inch feels very necessary.

Buckle and eyelet detail

The instructions are surprisingly thorough and there's also extra advice offered for making the skirt up in leather/faux leather/suede which is really handy. Although I like it in the corduroy, the fabric doesn't take to the rivets and buckle quite as well as I'd like, so I would be tempted to give it a go in a more substantial pleather - I wore this faux leather Nita Wrap Skirt LOADS, so there's a definite pleather-gap in my wardrobe.

Back view
Whilst there's a part of me that feels a little underwhelmed by it on a whole (I think I'm just itching to get stuck back into some more serious and lengthy projects now) it is a really sweet, easy-to-wear basic. In all, it was a quick skirt to make that requires very little fabric. I might start hunting for 2" buckles now as I can see myself making it again in future.

*Giveaway* (Now closed)!

I have an extra copy of the Simplicity 8459 pattern in the 14-22 size range (pattern measurements here) to give away! 

Please let me know in the comments below if you'd like it along with your email address and I'll pick someone at random to receive it on Friday 19th January :)

Stay in touch!

2017 in sewing V 2018 in sewing plans

Happy New Year all! 2017 has been a good and varied one in terms of sewing, so before I launch into my sewing plans for 2018 (I have many!) here are some of my favourite makes of the year:

L-R: Sahara Shirt, Jazz Jumpsuit, Isla Trench
Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt - my first make of 2017 and my hands down best high street rip off of all time.
Ready to Sew Jazz Jumpsuit - my most worn item of the summer was my tester version of Jazz. The pattern and fabric paired so perfectly and I quickly followed it up with a classic black crepe version.
Named Clothing Isla Trench Coat - it goes without saying, this is by far the biggest sew I've ever attempted, with more techniques and pattern pieces than I care to recall, but such a satisfying end result. I've worn it everyday since finishing it!

Pattern testing L-R: Joanne Culottes, Jazz Jumpsuit, Fern Shorts, Linda Wrap Dress
I was also lucky enough to be invited to pattern test for wonderful designers such as Ready to Sew, Afternoon and Just Patterns this year, and I found myself having to turn down even more opportunities to concentrate on some of my own projects that I really wanted to commit to. Hopefully there's more pattern testing to come in 2018 (as long as I have time to fulfil some of my own sewing plans too... read on for those)!

I was a bit half-hearted with my 2017 make nine plans, managing 5 out of 9 in the end. I'm usually quite good at sticking to my sewing plans, but to be honest, I treated the challenge more as a nice picture to pin on the wall rather than a solid plan I was enthusiastic about running with.

My 2017 make nine, 5 out of 9 managed with one project rolled over to 2018
The things I did manage:
1. The M7429 dress, cutting it fine as my last make of 2017
2. A knitted Wool and the Gang clutch, which to be honest, is pretty disappointing. It looks odd and twisted once sewn up.
3. A denim trench, more specifically the Named Isla Trench Coat. By far my make of the year, if not my best/favourite make ever.
4. A denim wrap skirt/jumper combo in the form of this Nita Wrap Skirt and Talvikki. I really don't like this version of the Talvikki and the skirt is unfortunately now too big, but got quite a bit of wear earlier in the year.
5. I swapped a McCall's wrap blouse out for the Ready to Sew Jane Shirt. As above, I could probably do with downsizing now, but I'm very much a fan of the pattern.

On a personal level, the latter half of the year was disrupted by unexpected weight loss, some dietary/health issues, which I'm happy to report are now under control (gluten and dairy I miss you, but it's just not meant to be), and consequently, fluctuating measurements! This has really impacted upon my sewing and I've been having difficulty adjusting to my new measurements, which have just about settled. It's made some clothes too big, including the trousers that I'd just managed to perfect and my beloved collection of B6178 culottes :( A lot luckily are still fine, like my oversized makes and many Fall Turtlenecks, and it's improved the fit of just one garment - my DP Studio Knit Asymmetric Dress.

A 2018 make nine I can stick to!
So my first sewing act of 2018 will be to address the gaps in my wardrobe with a whole bunch of exciting new clothes that fit! I wasn't going to do a 2018 make nine, but when I evaluated my 'to make' list and stash, I realised I had 9 projects queued up that I am SO EXCITED to make! They are:

- Papercut Patterns Kyoto Sweater in green sweatshirting
- Simplicity 8459 in orange corduroy
- A third attempt at the Lander Pants, probably in blue denim
- Named Nascha Mini Skirt in mustard textured denim
- DP Studio le 809 Coat with gilet, in grey leopard print wool
- République du Chiffon Elisabeth Blouse in khaki crepe
- DP Studio le 915 Shirt Dress in bottle green viscose
- Wool and the Gang Relax Knit Through It Sweater in orange Feeling Good Yarn
- Trend Patterns Side Drawstring Dress, fabric TBD

I'm also feeling inspired by the attempts of the Love to Sew ladies, so once I've cracked on with some of these makes, I'm planning on doing my own sewist 10x10 challenge - picking 10 wardrobe items (including shoes!) and mixing and matching them to make unique outfits for 10 days! I wonder if anyone else would like to join me?

Thank you if you read this far! Wishing you all a wonderful year of sewing and looking forward to seeing everyone else's makes in 2018.


Stay in touch!

A fitting end to the year... the M7429

I'm not usually one for party dresses, but I've been waiting so long to find the perfect fabric for this pattern and by chance, it came along just in time for the festive season! My sewing progress has been hampered by hit and miss fit in recent months, which has been really demotivating - I'm finding a change in measurements really difficult to adjust to - so I'm totally relieved and thrilled to report a success in fit for my final make of the year: the McCall's M7429 dress.

My finished M7429 in view A
I picked the pattern out as a prize from The Fold Line (I think for my review of the Waver Jacket?!) over a year ago, and always had velvet in mind for it, but just never came across the right one. The pattern requires a knit with two-way stretch, which adds an extra layer of challenge to finding the perfect fabric. I had a few hours to kill on a recent trip to London and finally made it to Goldhawk Road for a proper shop. I'd been in nearly every shop before coming across this amazing orange stretch velvet in the basement of Fabrix, at only £11 for a couple of metres. 
Stretch guide at top of envelope
I was quite frustrated to find that there are no finished garment measurements listed (though I guess this could depend on the amount of stretch your chosen fabric has). There is at least a guide on the pattern envelope showing how far your fabric should stretch in both directions, but I had no idea how much famous 'big four ease' the pattern might have. My fabric stretched a tiny bit less than required in one direction and my measurements aligned most with a size 12, so I stuck with that, cutting view A, as well as the short sleeves seen in view D. 

Sorry, what??
In theory, this dress should be quick and easy to make up, but if you've tried this pattern and are a sensitive sewist like me, you might have shed at least a few tears over it from step 9 onwards. The instructions to create the twist on the front are honestly amongst the WORST I've ever seen. I was stubbornly determined to figure it out on my own, but my first attempt was so bad that I couldn't even face taking a picture. I unpicked the whole thing and turned to the internet for help.

I found and followed Brittany J Jones' brilliant tutorial on her YouTube channel and after spending all morning getting the twist wrong, it took me just 20 minutes to get it right. I can't thank Brittany enough for clearly explaining the cryptic instructions and judging by the comments, other people have had very similar experiences. Definitely don't attempt this dress without giving it a watch!
My finished twist front after following Brittany's tutorial
Extra points if you can spot stealth cat Enzo in the background!
Once the front is sewn together in one piece, the rest of the make is really straight forward and quite similar to constructing a garment like the Papercut Patterns Rise/Fall Turtleneck. I used a walking foot to help with sewing the velvet and finished edges with the overlocker. The velvet was slightly trickier to cut out and creates a bit of extra bulk at some points, but it works really well with the pattern overall.

Side shot!

The underside of the front skirt piece keeps trying to poke out a little as you can see in the picture above, so this might be something to bear in mind when it comes to picking a fabric. I did a couple of extra stitches by hand at the knot to try and keep it in place, but I don't particularly mind. I actually think the twist front is really flattering from all angles, regardless of the underside making the odd appearance!

Other side shot!
I used a cloth to help with pressing the seams, but from the markings on the back it looks like I wasn't being all that careful. Again, I'm pretty pleased with the finished dress on the whole, so I can't really say that I'm too bothered by it!

A few pressing marks on the back never hurt anyone.
I took 3" off the length of the sleeve as they looked a bit frumpy before and a shorter length seemed more flattering on me. I think the fit in all is just about right, though if you prefer a closer fit and have a good amount of stretch in your fabric, you could definitely play with down-sizing - I would probably downsize myself if I made it in a lighter weight fabric.

Thanks to Chris for capturing the me and our almost white Christmas
I wore my finished dress on Christmas Day and will be getting it back out for New Year celebrations! If I can find an interesting jersey then I'd definitely be up for making it again, perhaps as a dress for work - though I definitely won't be attempting it without help from YouTube next time!

On Christmas Day with the Ernest Wright and Son scissors Chris bought me

Thanks Brittany for well and truly saving the day with your tutorial! Has anyone else tried this pattern or finding themselves tempted to give it a go?

Stay in touch!

True Bias Lander Pant

I don't sew trousers very often, but when I do, I'm always SO amazed that it's even humanly possible - I should make them more often, even if only to boost my sewing pride/confidence! Tackling the True Bias Lander Pants was no exception, and the new-to-me technique of a button down fly made it feel like I 'level up-ed' my trouser making game with this sew too. The creases in them say it all - hot off the machine, I wore my Landers nearly all weekend and I really love them!

True Bias Lander Pant, creases and all, in Edinburgh
I used the PDF pattern to make up View B, the cropped pant version, in a greeny/brown mid-weight cotton drill. The pattern is drafted for an average height of 5ft 5". I'm 5ft 6", so I added 1" to the length with the aim of the hem just skimming the top of my new and seriously bold pair of Docs. I veered from the suggested lay plan and squeezed the pattern pieces out of a bit under 2m of the suggested 2.5m, so would probably buy a little less fabric for future versions.

Wrapped up by Arthur's Seat
The make was pretty smooth for the most part and I can't fault the instructions. I'd consider double topstitching some of the pocket details next time - it felt weird only doing one row after the mammoth amount of detail that went into my Isla Trench! The button fly was surprisingly easy to construct and my only stumbling block came when trying to attach the buttons...

It took a lot to get it looking like this...!
A series of total fails on my part led me to nearly ruining my almost finished Landers with the WORST button insertion of all time. I started off by making the holes in my fabric too big, giving the buttons too much room to potentially ping out. I used jean buttons from Green Grizzly and fitted them with my Prym pliers, but I didn't have the right size plier attachments, so used slightly bigger ones that came with some old snaps. This meant wobbly insertion and at least 2 buttons that weren't going to withstand a wear, so I pulled them out.

See below for the absolute HORROR and perhaps the dodgiest salvage that ever made it off the sewing table: 

Too big holes :(
Semi-fixed fly from the front
And from the back once the buttons were reinserted
In the end, I made an interfaced patch for the back for the fly, stitched some serious zigzag over the previous holes, and reinserted new buttons closer to the inside-edge of the fly. I used the smallest fitting on my leather punch to make a tiny hole for the button-back this time and stuck a sellotape loop in my plier attachment to stop the buttons wobbling when I inserted them (though in hindsight, I probably should've just used the hammer). A bit shambolic in all, but I have a fully functioning button fly, so who cares!

Just checking they're still fastened!
In future, I would strengthen the right side fly with either a heavier interfacing or some sort of interlining to make it a more habitable environment for those heavy-duty buttons. I'll also make sure to put the buttons as close to the inside-edge of the fly as possible - there's a natural bit of pulling with wear and the underneath can poke out a little. And of course, I'll do a bit more research on jean button insertion before braving it again! Perhaps I should've read this Lander Sewalong post to start with...
Any other tips or links to tutorials would be very welcome in the comments below!

A fully functioning fly, it doesn't matter how we got there!
I love the shape and style of the Lander, though mine turned out a bit more 'relaxed' in fit than I had anticipated - again it's entirely my fault! I'm finding it quite difficult to adjust to my new measurements and I've already had to take in my New Look 6418 skirt, which suggests more than anything that I'm probably just a bit rubbish with the tape measure. 

Flashing my new shoes!
I made up a size 8, only realising afterwards how close together the sizing brackets fall. I probably could've sized down to a 6 all along, particularly given that the pattern offers a generous 1" seam allowance on the side seams to help you get a perfect, flexible fit through the hip. I've already cut my next pair in the smaller size and I'm hoping to get that perfect, snug waist/hip fit like Helen (Helen's Closet) managed with her pair

The straight/loose leg isn't a trouser style I'd usually go for (I'm more of a voluminous culotte kind of girl), but the leg lengthening properties of the Lander are unreal. Maybe it's the high waist contributing to the illusion, because my legs definitely aren't that long! There's also something incredibly feminine about the silhouette, despite me styling them with the least feminine boots!

Checking out the back pockets!
Back view
The pockets looked huge at first cut, so I hadn't expected to be a massive fan, but I think they look great! The fit across the bum is actually pretty flattering (and will hopefully be even more so for my next pair).

In the rest of my handmade outfit in Edinburgh
In all, making the Lander Pant was a hugely fun challenge and real test in 'making it work'. In the past, I would've been put off by an element like a button fly, but I feel much more confident at jumping in and giving things a go - even if it did go a bit wrong! I wore my new Landers with a Fall Turtleneck, handmade hat and scarf and my Isla Trench in chilly Edinburgh for most of a weekend away there.

Thank you Chris for taking these snaps on our lovely weekend away
It was a learning curve, but I'm totally made up with my Landers and ready to try out pair two, this time in a heavier black denim and a slightly smaller size. Fingers crossed I get the buttons right this time!

Stay in touch!

Named Clothing Isla Trench Coat

I'm going to be bold and say that if I only have one masterpiece in me, this is probably it. After months of planning - and many more months of procrastinating - I'm so pleased to finally be able to share my finished Named Clothing Isla Trench Coat.

Named Clothing Isla Trench Coat
Do you think ankle length denim will catch on?
Approaching this project is not for the faint-hearted. I technically started it in spring, but got no further than sticking the MASSIVE PDF together. As you can see, the finished thing is pretty long, so some of the pieces are huge, and the jacket is made up of more individual pattern pieces than I've ever seen - 24 in total, many of which you have to cut out multiple times in the outer fabric, lining and interfacing. Some of the pieces are overlapped too, so you still have to do some tracing, and I really hate tracing. One positive though, and a bit of myth busting here for some of you who asked: seam allowances are included in the PDF version of the Isla (phew)!

Pinterest inspiration, particularly the middle image!
Inspired by some amazing denim trenches I came across on Pinterest, I bought this mid-weight blue denim (sorry I don't know the exact weight!) from my local haberdashery, Samuel Taylors in Leeds. It's not the cheapest project to embark upon; requiring 3.5m for the outer alone, plus lining fabric (I bought cheap khaki lining to try and even out the expenditure!), over 2m of interfacing and notions. Having seen some great versions online (I love this one by Le fil à la gratte) I knew that it would be well worth the cost.

Flash of khaki lining
Cutting and marking up the pattern pieces took me a day, and then there was prepping the pieces with interfacing, but once I was sewing the whole jacket came together surprisingly fast! The instructions are very clear and methodical. I felt like could approach the make one element at a time, the first being the welt pockets. I've never done a welt pocket before, but they weren't nearly as difficult as I'd imagined. It's crazy to think how much effort went into them for them to sort of blend into the background, but it's the little details that seem to count with this jacket and that definitely appeals to my inner perfectionist.

Welt pocket!
Speaking of details, nearly every edge is double topstitched. I wasn't brave enough to try a contrasting thread, but if you cared to inspect my Isla up close, I'd say the matching topstitching still makes for a really professional finish. The lined cape was a particularly fun element to make and topstitch, and it's probably my favourite thing about the finished jacket. 

Coming together quickly with the cape
Side view/silhouette
The collar/collar belt was a nice chunk to construct in one go and the details make it look so professional in finish. It's a shame the collar belt and loops are mostly hidden away under the collar itself, but I made sure to get some pictures below to show you all!

Collar belt detail (buttons from Textile Garden)
Under-collar details
I was on a bit of a roll and made just one mistake: sewing the sleeve bands on at the wrong notch, meaning they sat way too close to the sleeve edge. I'd almost finished the jacket before realising and although it didn't look too bad, I had to go in through the lining and correct it or be forever annoyed.

Corrected sleeve bands!
Other than that, the whole sew was smooth, even the lining/bagging out stage, which I had expected to be difficult based on previous bagging out confusions with the Waver Jacket and Yona Coat. Joining the inside of the vent to the lining was probably the hardest bit to sew neatly, but luckily is hidden away on the inside. It's also worth mentioning that I skipped the shoulder pads, which hasn't made much of a difference to the finished jacket. With or without shoulder pads, the style is very much 'power dressing'.

Lining flash!
I found the most beautiful imitation tortoise shell buttons from Textile Garden that work perfectly with the denim, with matching small ones for the collar and sleeves. If I made the Isla in future, I'd consider doing bound button holes for a better finish as the regular ones don't quite cut it, particularly as the rest of the jacket is finished to such a high standard.

I'm absolutely thrilled with the finished jacket, and I'm so glad I stuck with it. If you've stuck with the saga on here/Instagram and read this far, thank you! I've sewn a couple of jackets/coats in the past, and more recently the Linda Wrap Dress which has a lot more technical elements to it, but I'd built this up to be something else entirely. It's actually turned out to be my favourite jacket sewing experience ever, and I credit a lot of that to the fab instructions - thanks Named! Don't be put off by the 5-scissor difficulty rating, just give it a go. When I eventually got started, it took me a little under 2 weeks of evening/weekend sewing to finish.

Back view
Should have smoothed out that squiffy cape!
I don't think I'll be sewing another trench any time soon, but if anyone else wants to, here are some other great trench coat patterns:

Londres Trench Coat and Jacket by Orageuse
Luzerne Trench Coat by Deer and Doe
Tracy Trench Coat by Style Arc
Robson Coat by Sewaholic
Vogue 8884 (great one here by Diane at Dream.Cut.Sew)

Hi mum if you're reading! Thanks for the pictures :)
I'm just getting over a bit of sewing fatigue and then I'll be returning to my backlog of sewing plans. I have a few skirts (including another New Look 6418 in more faux suede I picked up at Sew Brum), a Kyoto Sweater and the Lander Pants in the pipeline. But in the meantime, I'm very much enjoying wearing my finished Isla Trench.

Is anyone else feeling like braving a trench or coat this winter? Which pattern will you be sewing?

Stay in touch!

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