"" the girl who makes things: February 2018

Sunday, 25 February 2018

A Cleo Dress

It's not often that I use a pattern more than once. That I've now made two Cleo Dresses, however, is testament to the fact that it is really good.

I first got the Cleo pattern through the Minerva Crafts blogger network. I used to contribute a monthly post to their website but found it difficult to dedicate enough time to sewing what with work and other life commitments (once I get my life in order I may return to it!). Then I was offered the opportunity to write a one off pattern review for Sewing World magazine last year and thought, why not?

I'd seen a few Cleo dresses online and liked the clean, simple design so I asked for the pattern and made it up in a dark denim.

I wore the shit out of my denim number all winter. It works really well layered over thick tights and woolly jumpers. I got a fair few compliments on it too. Then, as we began to feel some hints of spring (I live in Lisbon so it's a damn sight warmer!), I started dreaming up a lighter Cleo.

I can't remember precisely what gave me the urge to make a pink corduroy version, but the idea obsessed me. I hunted all over Lisbon in search of the perfect fabric until finally I found it in Atelier 193 and, lucky for me, bought up the end of the roll.

There's only one thing that annoys me about my denim Cleo, which is that it tends ride up if I'm wearing tights. I decided to resolve the problem with my corduroy version by adding a lining. It was super simple to do. I just traced the outline of the front and back and then traced the outline of the facing and cut away the excess. Attaching the lining to the facing was tricky as I had to match and ease the curves. It was worth the extra effort though, the dress doesn't ride up at all.

There are so many things I love about this pattern. Namely all the little details such as the top-stitching and pockets. It's a good palette cleanser after doing a big project like jeans as it's really quick and easy. I probably won't make another Cleo dress in the near future as I want to enjoy the two I've got. It is definitely, however, going to stay on my shelf as a classic.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Ginger Jeans

In every sewist's life there comes a point when you really want to go beyond the basics and try something daring. I'd say making jeans was one of those points for me. All those pieces, all that top-stitching, metal zippers and studs - they look so complicated. But they're not really, although they do look impressive.

I'd had my eye on the Ginger Jeans pattern by Closet Case for a long time. In fact, so long that I bought the pattern over a year ago and let it sit on my desktop until this winter. Finally I printed it off and set to work on tracing the pieces.

Sorry about the tired face!

As I expected, I fell directly between three sizes, a 4 at the waist and 8 at the hips. I decided to go for the middle ground, a 6 with the knowledge that I'd probably have to do a bit of adjustment once made up. I was glad to see that the garment measurements were included, which usually tells you more about which size to go for. I already know that I have a long waist, but the measurements told me that I needed to increase the crotch length by about 10cm. I actually lengthened by 8cm, erring on the safe side. It was a good decision as the fabric is stretchy and the band perfectly reaches my waist.

I'm going to say that these jeans are a 'wearable toile'. It was my first time making them so my expectations were low and I didn't want to cut into expensive fabric before I'd had a dry run. Therefore, the fabric I bought was cheap - 5 euros a metre - and not the best quality. It's a little bit itchy and the dye isn't totally fixed so it leaves little blue marks everywhere. Now I know what I'm doing I want to buy some better quality denim and have another go.

Fabric problems aside, I'm super pleased with the outcome of this project. There are only a few things I'd change about the fit: I'd take in the waistband by another 1.5cm and make a swayback adjustment to reduce the wrinkling at the back. That said, these are still the best fitting jeans I've ever owned so definitely worth the labour.

I'd recommend this pattern to anyone who's interested in making jeans for the first time. The instructions are really detailed and if you need more information there's also a sew along on the Closet Case blog.

On a vaguely related topic I've recently read two interesting blog posts that got me thinking. One was from This Blog is Not For You about mindful sewing. Charlie points out something that I've noticed about the sewing community - how much content is moving away from blogs and on to Instagram. What does this say about how we view our hobby? Are we more concerned about consuming more and more content, faster and faster? I know I'm guilty of this. The other was from What Katie Sews about careful wardrobe planning. It's very tempting as a sewist to make quick projects, but how much do I actually wear them? Isn't this just falling into the same trap as fast fashion? Katie suggests choosing projects that take longer to plan, prepare and construct so that you make something worthy of your sewing time. I'm all in favour of that.

Anyway, to loop those two loose threads together, I think making my Ginger Jeans showed me how taking a bit more time over a more complicated project is not only enjoyable but also gives me something I'll wear again and again. Also, despite my current addiction to Instagram, I need to take a bit of time to sit down and write, hens this blog post. Maybe that'll be my mantra for this year: slow sewing, slow blogging.