A special ‘secret’ project, Christmas, followed by a lingering New Year cold has had me running a bit behind posting my end of 2018 makes; and since my motivation to photograph my makes is generally terrible I’m even further behind than I had hoped! I thought I would try and catch up quickly, showing you these three lovely ladies, before those exciting 2019 projects start stacking up too!

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First up (and all the way back from October!) is the Freya top by Tilly & The Buttons. This multi-option design comes free with Tilly’s book ‘Stretch’ and can be made as a dress or a top; long sleeves or short sleeves; a mock roll neck, roll neck or cowl neck; with a ruffle or plain fronted – the choice is yours! It has proved a popular pattern on Instagram and so I thought I would try it out.

I opted for a 3/4 length sleeve top with mock roll neck. I’m not usually a fan of this neckline as I find RTW roll necks seem to press on a particular spot on my throat that makes me feel constantly nauseous – not really a desirable feature! But I figured, since I was sewing this myself, I could adjust the neck so that it was a bit looser or so that the seam sat in a better position if necessary (it wasn’t). I made one Freya in a black heavy weight cotton t-shirting from Fabricland and a second in a lighter weight coral cotton interlock jersey from Fabworks.  

As with all the T&TB patterns I’ve made, the instructions were clear, well written with great instructional photographs. When cutting out the black version I accidentally cut into the crown of the sleeve with the rotary cutter but, by making the sleeves slightly shorter than intended, I managed to adjust the pattern piece to fit the fabric I had left, and it doesn’t show. It took less than two hours to cut and sew a Freya, which I find marvellous, and I’m really pleased with my progress sewing with knit fabrics. This is my first jersey make that looks as good on the inside as it does on the outside!

When I tried the black Freya on though I was…. ambivalent.  There was nothing wrong with the pattern or the fit, but I thought I would know straight away if I liked the style. I was so disappointed it took me a few weeks to sew up the (already cut out) coral version, I didn’t even try it on until taking these pictures! Which was silly, as the colour really suits me and I actually LOVE it!!

I think my expectations of the Freya were not lived up to by my own choice of clothes to pair it with, I get so cold and wear so many layers that Freya gets lost! But when I THINK about wearing the Freya, in my mind I’m pairing it with the Cleo pinafore or a drapey winter midi skirt; maybe tucked into a stunning pair of high waisted trousers or layered with a statement jacket or knitwear.

So I have decided to step up my wardrobe game! Second stop…that drapey winter midi, the Annette skirt by Republique du Chiffon. This pretty little thing is one of my #2018makenine selections, but I was propelled into making this as a tester for a very exciting project I had been working on (blog post to hopefully follow!).

I bought this beautifully soft twill weave viscose / cotton blend in a lovely autumnal shade of ‘conker’ and after a thirty minute ‘umm and ahh’ at the buttons in Fabricland I finally picked these muted pink buttons which I thought would look perfect! I honestly don’t know what took me so long to decide – when I got home and looked at the pattern packaging this is exactly the combination RdC have used! Well, as the saying goes ‘if it isn’t broke…’

Republique Du Chiffon patterns need to have the seam allowance added on when you trace off the master – which I find irritating to do. But as I was doing this, I was also watching the Stitch Sisters Christmas Gift Guide Vlog in which they mention the Clover Double Tracing Wheel which adds the seam allowance as you go…. Genius!  Needless to say I now own said tracing wheel and can’t wait to try it out!

When I finally got around to the sewing, I was feeling a little under the weather and I started off so badly that I almost gave up! Firstly, I couldn’t wind the bobbin, I have no idea why, but it took a good few attempts before it started behaving! I decided to put a fresh needle in and when I lowered it to take up the bobbin thread the needle must have been bent and so smashed straight into the blah blah plate (what’s it called?)  and most definitely broke! The final straw nearly came when the first seam I started just chewed right up and I had to unpick it…

It took some deep breaths, a cuppa and a calm moment before I decided to try again, and this time things went more smoothly...or so I thought!

The pattern calls for 30mm elastic however I could only find 32mm, which wasn’t a problem until I forgot to adjust the seam allowance accordingly. When I came to sew the final waistband seam there clearly wasn’t enough to cover the elastic without it curling up inside and so I ended up unpicking the whole waistband and re stitching with a slightly narrower seam allowance. Despite being extra careful with the ‘unpicker’ I somehow managed to pop a small hole into the back, which I am hoping to hide with a spot of fray check and some clever placement of the gathers…

I ran out of thread just before sewing the buttons and button holes, and so I put Annette aside for a couple of weeks (while I worked on said exciting project instead!), and when I went back to finish her off I noticed one of the pockets was lower than the other and that the front plackets didn’t line up at the hem…I’m sure this has something to do with reattaching the waistband as I was so careful to check they matched before this. Maybe I’ve stitched each end with a different seam allowance, who knows – but lesson learned, I should NOT sew unless feeling 100%!

I also think the buttons are too big for the skirt, they look fine in the pictures but they’re quite deep - maybe coat buttons - and quite heavy for the fabric. But that’s what testers are for right?

I really like the pattern, I think the RdC instructions are simple to follow and produce some effective garments that are really satisfying to sew. I hope I enjoy wearing the Annette skirt as much as I did making it, and fingers crossed it helps my Freya friendship blossom!

My final make of the year, and another off the #make2018 list, was this I Am Patterns Juliette top.  I used the personalised bodice block that I made at UAL (see post here) to adjust the width of the front and the position of the shoulder seam of this pattern, making the fit spot on.

Because I had reduced the width of the top I had to then re-draft the collar to suit, which was simple enough.  But each half of the collar is a separate piece and when I attached them to the bodice they didn’t seem to want to sit evenly, and so there was a lot of stitching and unpicking at the centre front to get the distribution right, but it was worth it!   

The fabric is a lovely soft mint coloured viscose with tiny black hearts, which was originally destined for an Alder Shirt however when it arrived it was shorter than I had ordered and had a large colour bleached patch, meaning I didn’t have enough for the Alder. After using it to line some Japanese Knot bags I made as Christmas presents, I found I had enough left to make the Juliette! I paired it with some plain black buttons and used a scrap of black viscose to make the collar, and I think it looks really cute - I’m looking forward to some warmer weather when I can pair this with a Cleo pinafore!

I also used my new button hole opener to open (obviously) the button holes, and it was a dream! Such a neat cut with such little effort – I would recommend!

So that’s the last of my 2018 makes, I actually feel like I may have a wardrobe coming together!