Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Pour Homme: Thread Theory Finlayson Sweater

Just in time before the end of the Finlayson Sewalong, here is my handsome husband modelling his...

Ladies, calm yourselves. He's a married man!

The pattern is the Finlayson Sweater by Thread Theory and I bought the pdf version at the start of the month when it was on offer. I've been eyeing up Thread Theory patterns for a while now, so the discounted price along with the competition they were running was good enough reason to finally make one. I've made a few things for Jon before but these have generally been what I would class as 'lounge wear'. Whilst he can still lounge around in his new sweater (and I've no doubt he will), I'm pleased I've made something he could actually wear out of the house!

Based on his measurements he was between a small and a medium. I decided to go with a small in the end as I thought the pattern would be fairly roomy due to the boxy shape. I didn't make any adjustments to the pattern as I wanted it to be a bit of a test run. 

Jon had originally requested the sweater in a khaki colour, but I couldn't find anything suitable at the fabric market so went with this light blue stable knit instead. I bought 2.5 metres of the stuff and easily have enough leftover to make something else. Maybe a matching sweater for myself! A bit much? Yes, a bit much...

I think he's spoiling for a fight here

Anyway the fabric is fairly soft on the outside but the inside is a little scratchy, so I decided to line it with some lightweight knit that I had. Unlike the stable outer knit, the inner one is very soft and drapey and was a bit of a nightmare to sew. I deviated from the instructions slightly and sewed up the outer and lining (minus the cuffs and hem band), and then basted them together at the neckline before sewing in the collar. I also basted the two layers together at the sleeve end and base of the sweater before attaching the cuffs and hem band.

The collar got me completely foxed. I read the instructions over and over, and looked at the sewalong posts about it, but I just couldn't work out how it attached to the neckline! In the end I just went with what I understood the directions to be, pinned it loads and sewed very slowly. And it did work! I think though the positioning dots need to be wider spaced, and I'm not sure if this is just something that I did wrong but my collar 'under' ended up being what you can see on top.

I'm really pleased with this make anyway and my model seems to be too. I thought it would be a fairly quick make but it took me longer than I expected - probably due to my decision to line it and all my head scratching with the collar. It's a really well written and drafted pattern and has nice options such as a lined hood and kangaroo pocket. I'm planning on making this again, but I think I would lengthen the body and sleeves a little and also make a slight 'round back' adjustment. 

Some detail shots...

I love top stitching

Cosy lining

Brushed cotton decorative facing, tag from Mollie Makes and tree ribbon for a pro finish

Happy husband!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

A butcher's tale

Please welcome the newest additions to the Sewing Dutch family...

..a sausage and ham! Not of the meaty variety though, cos that ain't my bag ;)

I made these bad boys using the free Victory Patterns' pattern on Tilly's blog. For a long time now I had been using a rolled up towel whenever I wanted to press a sleeve seam or anything curved, but I've never got amazing results with it so have been meaning to make these for ages. I also hate throwing things away, so had been hoarding fabric and thread scraps which needed turning into something useful.

I'd read that it's best to use wool on one side and cotton on the other for tailor's hams/sausages, so that it what I did. These were both bits of fabric I had leftover from other projects. The cotton was a fairly thin lawn so I lined it with a layer of cheap polycotton (I think?!) that was 1 euro a metre at the local fabric market. This meant sewing quite a lot of darts - 24 in total! I think this would be a good project for a beginner who wants to practice sewing darts and curves. 

Matching darts!

I thought the sleeve roll looked a little short on the instructions so I lengthened the pattern piece by 4cm. It's now about 32cm in length.

I thought these would be fairly quick to whip up but actually they took a lot longer than I expected! I think this is mainly due to the stuffing, which seemed to take forever. As I mentioned I used fabric scraps rather than sawdust, which is the traditional filling. I cut up any big scraps into smaller pieces before stuffing to try and get more in and have a more even finish. I think the disadvantage of using fabric scraps rather than sawdust is that you are likely to have to add more stuffing after a while. But having seen the amount of mess the sawdust causes on Lauren's post I'm pretty glad I didn't go down that route!

Hmm, I wonder if this is where I sewed the seam closed?!

Lumpy sausage stuffing

It was a bit difficult to get a smooth finish on the sausage as I struggled to evenly distribute the fabric scraps and also get it tightly packed. The key is to constantly compact the filling as you go - even once you think it's full, there will still be more space!

I'm pretty pleased with these guys. I used the sausage for the first time yesterday to press a sleeve seam and hem and it was sooo much easier. Will definitely speed up some elements of pressing and get a better finish. I'm just wondering why it took me quite so long to get round to making them!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Short shorts!

Simplicity 2423 has got to be one of the first patterns I ever bought and I've definitely had my money's worth from it. From it I've made pj bottoms for my husband, brother and sister-in-law, as well as some lazy shorts for my husband. I have used it to make myself a pair of pj trousers before, but unfortunately these turned out Massively high waisted (I keep meaning to alter these, but there's always so many shiny new things to make).

Back shot with dodgy lighting

Whilst cutting out fabric for a Sorbetto recently I realised I would have about half a metre left over so was trying to work out what I could make with it. The fabric is a beautiful, floaty cotton voile that I got from The Village Haberdashery during their 20% off sale in June. Though it's probably an unwise fabric choice, I decided to use the remnants to make some little sleeping shorts. 

I had to do some serious pattern gymnastics to cut these out. I took about 3 inches off the top (which needed doing anyway to make them a little less Simon Cowell) and then cut the reverse of the waistband from a strip of leftover Swiss dot that I had. I think I messed up the maths when working out how big to cut it though cos my waistband has ended up pretty narrow!

I think I've missed an opportunity here to use some exciting fabric inside..

I also, obviously, took a very large amount of the leg length. There was no logic involved in this, the length was chosen by the fabric. To try to preserve some length I hemmed the bottom edge using some self binding. I cut this on the straight grain - again, fabric limitations - but I don't think this matters as I was binding a straight edge.

As I started making them I realised that as the fabric is so sheer it would probably benefit from a little support, for both decency and durability. I underlined the shorts in some silky, floaty white fabric I found in my stash a little while ago. I've no idea what it is or where it came from, but there's quite a lot of it and someone has written large numbers in random places on it. My guess is that it could be viscose as it's got a lovely drape. 

Nice, clean insides

I've recently fallen in love with French seams, so I finished the insides with these. I also top stitched the crotch seam for extra strength. When I first made these for my husband I wasn't quite as good at making the insides neat, so didn't use a strong seam finish and I definitely didn't top stitch. As he wears his trousers quite low this meant he ripped the seam fairly early on and I had to do a botched repair job. So I was pretty keen not to make the same mistake twice! I'm worried that the delicate nature of the fabric may mean they don't last as long, but time will tell.

Iron burn :(
I had a minor incident with the iron fairly near the end of construction which was pretty annoying, but thankfully the worst of it ended up hidden under the waistband.

The fit of them is a litttllle bit tight across the bum, which my husband kindly pointed out for me ("why is that side seam wonky??". Thanks, Jon..), but I'm hoping they might ease up a little with wear. I think it might be an idea to do a Full Bum Adjustment (is that a thing?!) for future pairs, as the rest of the fit is fine. I'm thinking a pair of these in a sturdy knit fabric would be nice for both sleeping and gym, so maybe that's what I'll aim for next.

I've also got fabric cut out to make a coordinating sleepy top (out of this beautiful fabric) which I'm going to bind with scraps from these shorts. Maybe one day I'll post a picture of the complete outfit!

Short, shorts!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Settling in

A new home! I've just moved to Utrecht in the Netherlands where my husband is studying for a masters degree. Previously when we lived in Sheffield in the UK I had a whole room for my sewing stuff, but accommodation is a little bit more expensive here so this has been shrunk down to a small desk in our bedroom.

I've taken some tips from Flossie Teacakes on sewing in a bedroom to help adjust to the new set up, and have got fabric and tools hidden around the room. And small though it may be, it sure is nice to sew with so much natural light.