Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic

Hello my lovelies!  I’m so excited to share with you the Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic!  Back in February I got an email to ask if I wanted to test the pattern and after doing a little shimmy of joy I sent back a very happy ‘yes please!’ to Tasia.

You’ve seen the Belcarra Blouse quite a bit on the Sewaholic Blog already as Tasia was wearing it to model the Gabriola maxi skirt.  It is such a quick make but has some lovely details that really set it apart from your usual knit T’s.

Belcarra 2

View A is a simple raglan sleeved top with bias cuffs, View B has the cute pleat / tuck details and View C has the little pocket.  Me being me just had to overload my tester version with all the details so I made View B with the addition of the pocket from View C.

There are no darts in this top so it’s quite a loose fit but to accommodate the bewbs I did need to do an FBA (Full Bust Adjustment).  I used the ‘Fit for Real People‘ Method which adds a side dart.  I did consider rotating the dart out but this added more fabric to the front and that’s not a look I’m a fan of.  However, Stitches and Seams has an FBA method that gets rid of the side dart and that extra fabric.  I’m going to give this a go on my next version.

Whilst I love the fabric I made this top from (a japanese slubbed cotton) it is probably a little too stiff for this stort of top – something much more liquid and flowing would give softer lines and would not crease nearly as much as mine does!  As a result of my fabric choice, my version looks far better tucked in than it does left out.  I wear it a lot to work with this Rachel Comey for Vogue 1247 skirt that I made over a year ago which is another wardrobe staple.

Belcarra 1

In the defence of my fabric choice, because of the slubs in the weave it makes it really easy to find the grain line and also makes the bias areas (cuffs and neck binding) a bit more interesting than just a change in direction of the print.  You could have a lot of fun with stripe placement on this top!

This is a really satisfying and fast make.  It has the potential to be a wardrobe staple depending on your fabric choice and it wouldn’t surprise me to see people with multiples of these in their wardrobes.  I have a number of future versions planned including one with lace sleeves (omitting the pleats and cuff) as I think that will look really cute with a solid coloured bodice.  I have a couple of other drapy fabrics in the collection that are destined for this top now too, particularly as it’s not too fabric hungry – mine came out of less than 2 yards of 44″ fabric.

Who knew that something as simple as a T could be made so interesting?!  Thank you for the experience of pattern testing for you Tasia, I loved every second of it.

Sewaholic Cambie

Nearly two months after finishing this dress, I’m finally posting about it! I made this dress for our friends’ wedding on the 22nd March; the colour theme was purple and orange and I wanted to pick that up in what I wore on the day.

Cambie 1

The fabric is Amy Butler ‘Souvenir’ from the Lark collection. I’m not really sure what colour it is; in some light it’s orange, others a hot pink, and sometimes a deep coral.  Some have even told me it’s red!  I love the richness and warmth of the colour, whatever it is.

There’s not a lot to say about the Cambie pattern or the construction really. As always with Tasia’s patterns the drafting is faultless and the instructions good. I had no problems making this dress at all. I’m particularly pleased with how neatly the zip went in; there was bragging on Instagram and Twitter when I’d completed that step I have to admit.

Cambie 2

I didn’t make any changes to the pattern other than my usual FBA and using the full width of the fabric for the skirt panels, which definitely made for a fuller skirt! I love that putting a petticoat on with this dress gives it some added impact, but that it’s also great to wear without the extra oomph as a day dress (which is how I wore it for my sister’s hen do in Cambridge).

I have other versions of this dress planned already although I may lessen the amount of fabric in the skirt for that one…

Cambie 3

Fabric: Amy Butler ‘Souvenir’ from the Lark Collection
Lining: Bed sheet for the bodice and dress lining from Anglian Fashion Fabrics for the skirt
Thread & Zip: Jaycotts

PS: There’s still a few hours to enter my give away here!

Simplicity 1880: Ding Ding Round Two

You know what they say about horses?  That if you get thrown, you have to get right back on again?  Well, I’ve started again on Simplicity 1880 but the wrap dress version (view B).

I’ve FBA’d the bodice front using Queen of the Flies method which is basically a straight forward FBA and then rotating the bust dart into the gathers at the yoke
I’ve made my usual adjustment for my broad back on both the back and yoke pieces
I’ve turned the front and back yoke into one piece
I’ve traced and altered the front skirt piece to match the adjusted bodice (including offering the paper pattern up to each other to see if it looks right, which it does)

I plan on doing a lapped zipper rather than use an invisible one which is also the insertion method I’ll eventually use on the shirt dress.  I’m going for the cap sleeves this time and will use french seams as much as possible.  I’ll also be using self bias binding as Sunni suggested rather than the facings (but go my own way as Sunni’s tutorial creates a lot of layers! – I’ll probably channel Sewaholic’s method) possibly with elastic if I can make it work to prevent boob over exposure by snugging up the neckline.  I can’t explain it, but I’ll photograph what I do if you’re interested?

This is the fabric I’m using

Having written a list (I loooove lists, particularly ones that break down garment construction, but oh the joy of crossing stuff off!  And I know I’m not the only one…) the construction of view B is a lot less involved than the shirt dress, so I’m hopeful that I’ll have an easier run this time.

So, I’m ready for round three, in which I find out if the paper alterations will work in fabric!

Sewaholic Renfrew Top: How I did my FBA

First of all, a BIG sorry.  I know I mentioned I’d sorted this out weeks ago and I had.  I then got scared as I’d never sewn anything in a knit fabric before.  So I hid for a week or two from actually making the pattern.  Then I got brave again last night!  So here is my first ever knit top and I made it all on my serger (well, apart from a bit of twin needle top stitching around the neck and at the shoulders – another first!)

A Full Bust Adjustment (FBA for short) is the one adjustment I know I’m always going to have to do if the pattern is in any way fitted below the neck.  They’re quite straight forward and well documented if you’re altering a pattern for a woven fabric.  You manipulate and/or create darts to add the extra length and width you need to go around and over the chest whilst still keeping the shape of the garment.

The Renfrew pattern is designed for knits.  Whilst it would be possible to do a standard FBA and add a dart to the pattern, it’s not something I want to do as the dart will add bulk, could affect the drape and well, I’ve never seen a dart in a t-shirt!

A lot of Google-ing didn’t reveal any process for adding the width and length needed so after a number of weeks scratching my head, and hacking mini bodices about I think I’ve finally got there.  The issue I had ensuring the front side seam matched the back side seam whilst being able to add the required length at the front of the garment.  Normally a dart would ensure the side seam didn’t grow as you use it to control the additional length created.  I also had to get the side seam back to where it started, or pretty close to where it started…

Now, if you’re like Lauren who blogs at Lladybird and you have the option of grading between sizes to accommodate your full bust which is what she does, this is a solution you will want to consider!

Lucky me (insert sarcasm here depending on your point of view…) has to deal with a G cup.  In plain old inches there’s a 5″ difference between my high bust and full bust measurements.  I also start at the top of the Sewaholic size chart so there’s no option of grading between sizes as my high bust is 41″.

So I need to do a FBA of 2.5″ or maybe 2″ if I don’t mind taking 1″ of ease out of the pattern…  Because it’s such a big adjustment I always trace my pattern and work with the tracing.  That means if I get anything wrong, the original is intact and I can start again.

These are the steps for my FBA on the Renfrew Top.  I’m using pattern piece A – the front bodice piece for the scoop or cowl neck versions.

Traced and Marked Bodice

The traced and cut out bodice is on top of another sheet of tissue paper so that I can stick it down once its slashed, spread and adjusted easily.  The green lines mark where I’ll slash the pattern.  The change in direction is about 1″ above my bust point as I know it will drop when I do the adjustment.  I leave a hinge point near the shoulder.

Spread Pattern Pieces

Here is the slashed and spread pattern.  There’s a gap of 2.5″ between the vertical slash on the left and the point of the slash lines on the right.  You can see how this has moved the angle in the line down, lowering the bust point.

2.5" spread between angle of cut line and vertical cut line (ignore the slash about 2/3 of the way down on the right - I took this photo further along the process)

I marked the point where the bottom of the pattern came to and then brought the slashed centre front down to meet it.

Lining up the bottom of the pattern piece

Now I need to get the side seam back to where it was, other wise the bottom of the top is going to be very flared and have no resemblance to the original design.  To do this I put another slash into the pattern, pivoting at the point where the arm scye and side seam meet.  There was no science to where I chose for this I’m afraid!

Rotating the side seam back in

I brought the side of the pattern in until the bottom corner was 2.5″ from the vertical slash line – the same amount of width we added at the top of the pattern.

2.5" from corner to centre slash line

The bottom of the pattern pieces do not in any way match up.  There’s about an inch difference in length and we need to true this up some how.

Trued bottom of pattern piece

I used a french curve to draw a smooth line between the bottom of the centre front of the pattern piece to the bottom point of the side seam.

I’ve now added the length and width I need to get around my chest.  The side seam length has been maintained so it will match the back bodice piece.  The extra curve to the hem is cancelled out as the fabric travels over my ermm, contours?!

Finally I measured the new length of the bottom of the bodice and compared this to the original pattern piece. The length had increased by just over 2.5″ (almost the exact amount added for the FBA) so I slashed and spread the waist band of the pattern to match between the ‘place on fold’ marking and the notch half way along.

Voila!  One FBA for a knit top, or more specifically the Renfrew!  Now, please let me introduce you to the Top of First Ever (serger constructed, twin needle top-stitched, knit item!)

One Wearable Muslin with a Successful FBA! Look, No strain lines, even when sticking my *ahem* chest out and flailing my arms about!

By the way, the cowl in the picture is smaller than Tasia’s design as I had an idiot moment when cutting it out and missed a chunk off one of the pieces.  I have no idea how I managed it, but hey it’s still wearable!

Please please chime in if you’ve got any advice, observations or refinements that may help me or anyone else doing this sort of adjustment in a knit!

No 2 Past the Post: Minoru Jacket

This is my biggest project since I started sewing my own clothes:  The Minoru Jacket by Sewaholic Patterns.

I love this jacket!  I didn’t add piping as I’d planned because *looks rather sheepish* I forgot (just in case any of you were wondering where it was).

This is a substantial jacket as I made it from cotton canvas that I proofed with NikWax.  It has some heft to it, but isn’t too heavy to wear.  It’s lighter than a waxed jacket but heavier than my normal winter jacket (a ski coat).

Like others, its garnered compliments from complete strangers, which is rather flattering!  Checking the fit during the muslin stage means that I can wear it whilst driving the car and its also passed the dog walk with a toddler test.  An unexpected bonus is that pre-treating the canvas means that once mud has dried, it just brushes off.  I haven’t tested it in the rain yet – it was full on waterproofs downpours early part of last week and whilst I think this would be fine in a shower I didn’t feel up to testing in that sort of weather!

Lining Detail

The sleeves are lined with regular lining fabric so that long sleeves are a breeze when I’m wearing it.  The body is lined in cotton flannel which is sooo soft.  The side seam pockets and hood are also lined with flannel too and are lovely and cosy.  Boy likes to hide his hands in the hood and stroke the fabric if I’m carrying him.

I had a bit of a headache with the zips.  I was originally going to have plain black ones but I couldn’t find two that matched in the same gauge and that started to bug me.  Then I was in John Lewis for something and just had to pop in the haberdashery department (well, it would be rude not to) and saw reflective zips!  So I now have reflective zips on my collar and the front.  Probably quite a good idea considering how dark this fabric is and I live in a village with no streetlights…

Construction wise the most challenging bit was stitching in the ditch along the body and neck seam.  It doesn’t line up on the inside very well.  There was a lot of bulk on one side and only two layers of fabric on the other.  Thankfully it isn’t too obvious unless you’re inspecting it closely.  You want to inspect closely?!  Oh…

Can you see the wonky stitching?

When I make my summer version I will make a couple of changes in the construction though.  If I include a hood I’ll finish the seam allowances when I attach the collar to the lining and bodice before attaching the two together.  You can see the unfinished edges when you peek inside the hood pocket.  Or I may fold them into the body of the jacket instead, but that may feel a bit odd around the shoulders.  I’ll also be sure to finish every seam before topstitching for my own satisfaction more than anything else!

I will also buy three reels of thread.  I bought two for this version and only used a regular stitch for the topstitching and there was literally just a foot left on the spool at the end and the bobbin had just run out.

I’m really pleased with the fit although I need to reduce some of the ease in the waist as I’ve lost weight since fitting this and its now got too much ease there – I’ll have to futz with the elastic channel to cinch it in a bit, but it’s a good reason to have to futz really!

Adjustments made for this version:
FBA
Shortened the torso
Shortened the sleeves
Changed the hood construction to include a lining

Adjustments for future versions:
Reduce flare from waist
Reduce ease at waist
Alter construction regarding collar
Seam finish all seams before topstitching
Omit internal pockets
Add welt pockets instead of in-seam ones?

Of Clouds and Silver Linings

Source

In some ways this week has been a success, but in others an epic fail!

The not so great stuff:

Husband has been suffering a bit from depression due to lack of work, which affected me causing me to lose the plot at my place of employment on Wednesday.  Tears and sniffling in the middle of the office is not the normal me!  Husband is a plumber and heating engineer and the early part of every year is always slow work wise, not just for him but for the whole sector.  However he is not good at doing nothing and when given too much time to think he gets tunnel vision and starts to spiral and its very hard to pull him out of it.  I try and support him but its quite tough sometimes, particularly when I’m dealing with the effects of…

My medication being doubled.  Hello insomnia, nausea and generally feeling rubbish until I become accustomed to the higher dose!

Then to top it all I managed to infect my work laptop with such an evil virus (and I have no idea where it came from) that it had to be wiped and re-built.  So I didn’t manage to do anything productive until about 2pm yesterday.  I feel so guilty about it even though I can’t think where I’d been online that would have had such a nasty file.  Ack.

But on the flip side there’s the good stuff!

I’ve found a way to give Husband some control over the work situation.  One of which is to finally sort a website out for him so I’ve made an appointment to go and see a hosting and design company next week to see about getting a site made.  He’s also been contacted to do some short notice work and to quote for some jobs so I hope his mood is lifting…

Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods

Thursday night I went to the theatre to see the touring production of Legally Blonde: The Musical.  I enjoyed it, although for me the characters of Paulette and Kyle stole the show – probably because they provide the comedy and I was in need of some laughter!  The portrayal of Elle Woods was more annoying to me than Reese Witherspoon’s in the film although I warmed to it much more in the second half.  And no, I hadn’t been drinking!

I also wore a me made outfit – my Beignet and Sencha.  Both now need altering though as I’ve lost over 9lb since the start of the year.  The Sencha should be quite straight forward but the Beignet is going to take some thinking about and will probably involve removing the facing at the waistband and then nipping in at each seam…

And finally I finished two items this week!  My Taffy Jasmine and my Minoru!  I’m really pleased with both and will try and get some pictures to bore you all silly with next week if the sun ever appears today…

Colette Sewing Handbook Pattern: Meringue

So all I have to do now is decide what to make next…  I think a work appropriate Meringue is a strong contender as is a Renfrew.  If anyone has any tips for cleaning and caring for wool garments I’d love to hear them!

Wool Plaid from Annabelle

I also plan to get out my Renfrew pattern and do a FBA so that I can make one or two of those as well!  Would you like me to photograph the steps I’ve worked out for a dart less FBA on this top for a tutorial?  Lauren uses the technique of grading from one size to another, but as I start at the top end of the size chart that’s not an option for me.  Let me know in the comments…

PS – don’t forget to enter my give away here

Sencha and Bust

I’m suffering from a lack of discipline in the sewing department at the moment.  I’m not starting a project and seeing it through before starting another one.  So as of this evening I have:

  • a mostly (apart from the hem, and a bit of stitching of the facing) finished Crescent skirt
  • a muslined but in need of some serious downsizing and flat pattern altering Beignet
  • and now a fully bust adjusted Sencha, in need of a muslin

See, can’t finish one project without starting another!

Well, casting a veil over my lack of focus, this evening my project was altering the flat pattern of the Sencha top by Colette patterns.  I’m probably looking in the wrong place but I couldn’t find very much in interweb land about doing a FBA on this pattern, but here’s the only one I found:

The Naked Seamstress’ post.

And what I did was different!  Because I’m like that.  And because I read the section in Fit for Real People about a billion times before doing this and trusted that their technique was the right thing to do!

Slashed, spread and pinned

So here’s my slashed, spread and pinned traced pattern piece (I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about doing this to an original pattern!).  I traced a 16 going by my high bust measurement of 43″ (the 16 is for a 44″ bust).  My full bust measurement is 47.5″ so I need another 3.5″ of room in that department.

I followed the Y Full Bust Adjustment in Fit for Real People which is recommended where you need to add more than 1.5″ (I needed to add 1.75″).  I also followed the instructions for a dart less, cut on sleeve bodice:

First off was removing the sleeve.  There’s a tiny green mark where the bottom of the sleeve meets the bodice.  I also had to make a note which was the top of the sleeve, not in the instructions, but good to know later!

Slashed, spread and pinned - is this any clearer?

I also needed to work out where my apex was and draw a line from that to somewhere along the side seam.  I chose about an inch below where the sleeve joins the bodice – no particular reason, it just seemed right.  When I make the muslin I’ll find out whether that was the right thing to do (I may want a steeper angle to my dart, or need to move it so that it points to my apex properly).

Now that I had a dart line I could follow the instructions for the Y adjustment.

I drew and cut a line (1) from the hem up to the apex and then continued that line at an angle to the centre of the shoulder, stopping at the seam line. I spread this apart 7/8″ between the centre front and the apex and pinned it into place.

I drew and cut a second line from the apex to halfway(ish) down where the sleeve was (1a).  This was all the way to that edge but leaving a tiny bit of paper for a pivot point. I spread this apart 7/8″ from it’s starting point and then pinned so it couldn’t move either.  I’ve now got 1.75″ extra room at the bust.

I cut from the side seam almost to the apex along the dart line I drew earlier, again leaving a tiny bit of paper to pivot (2). I then moved the side that’s closest to the side seam so that each side of line (1) was parallel.  More pins.

I drew a final line parallel to the waist line, above the tuck marks, from centre to the gap created by (1).  I then moved this part down so that the cut edges remained parallel and the bottom hem was smooth.

Next I filled all the gaps in with paper, trued the lines and created the dart ‘wings’.

Altered Sencha pattern view 1

I also taped the sleeve back on, truing as necessary.  I hope the photo above shows you what has been added!  So I’ve got another 1.75″ each side at the bust (3.5″ total), plus another 3.5″ total at the waist.  This will fit, but with only 1″ ease at the waist, so I may add a little at the side seams, pivoting out from the armpit.  But I’ll muslin it first with generous side seams and go from there…

Apologies for the lighting - inside and at night does not make for bright photos!

The other thing to consider is the neck line.  A lot of people have commented that it’s very high and can feel choking.  I’ll leave it as is for the muslin and if I’m not a fan I can then mark out where I want it to be with tape and transfer that back to the pattern front and facings.

Assuming I don’t get distracted again?!  I really should make a list of projects and fabric and put it somewhere I’ll keep seeing it – my sewing room door maybe…

Lonsdale Sew Along Schedule is Here!

Another Beautiful Version by Tasia

This weekend I received an email from Tasia at Sewaholic to say that the Lonsdale pattern had been shipped (and the Crescent skirt I ordered at the same time)!  And today, she’s put up the time table for the sewalong and given us all a badge (can you see mine on the right hand side?!).  It all gets going whilst I’m away, but I’ll be able to follow along on the Blackberry and get cracking once I get home!

Here’s the link to the timetable for anyone else who’d like to join in…

In fact, my current sewing is all pretty much Sewaholic centric.  I’ve just finished grading the Pendrell blouse to my high bust measurement and hope to tissue fit it this evening – I know I’m going to need a FBA (Full Bust Adjustment) as there’s 4″ difference between my bust and high bust measurements.  The hips measurements are very roomy, although I think I’m going to have to add some to the waist but the FBA will add to that area, so I’ll see how we go…  I’ll use the Pendrell Sew Along post on the FBA and the Fit for Real People book to help me on this one!  Hopefully I’ll be able to make some real progress on this and ideally get it finished before we go away on the 22nd.  Wish me luck!