Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Getting back on the horse (in a cardigan I made)

I last posted on the 4th of November and at the time I was all I am hopeful I am will feel better this month (compared to October, which was rubbish) and will be able to get on with things!

Alas, I didn't feel better and didn't get on with things, a situation compounded by dire world events, rotten personal news, rubbish weather and a side order of I'm Just Not Feeling It Right Now glumness. I didn't even do the the many, many miles of curtain hemming that my mum is patiently waiting for me to finish in advance of the arrival of Hordes Of Houseguests (a.k.a. my brother and his family, visiting from Australia) who are coming for an extended Christmas visit.

At some point early in the month, I did work up the energy/enthusiasm to cut out a very simple knit project. Although the pieces I cut out then lurked about untouched for about three weeks, when I suddenly felt more enthusiastic this weekend I was therefore able to start sewing something straight away.
Burda Easy 02-2015-4D Coat with neckline darts - images from Burdastyle magazine.
This pattern is from Burda Easy A/W 2015, pattern 4D. I own a half dozen issues of Burda Easy but this was my first use of the patterns. As the name of the magazine suggests, the designs tend to be very straightforward with few pattern pieces, plus they come with real actual pattern sheets (no tracing! though you still have to add seam allowances) and much more comprehensive instructions than usual for Burda.

Burda Easy A/W 2015 Pattern 4D in blue floral ponte knit

This particular pattern is actually intended to be a woven coat, but my version is a cardigan or "coatigan" as I made it out of a mid-weight ponte knit. I do own quite a few patterns for cardigans actually made for knits, but once the idea to make this coat was in my head I couldn't persuade myself to find something else. Partly this was because I had a problem with the wrong side of this fabric as it's a really bright white. Obviously anything like a waterfall design where the wrong side is on show was therefore out of the question, but also it seemed like a lot of cardigan patterns I had didn't go a great job of concealing the wrong side. I also wanted very few style lines as I didn't want to break up the giant print too much. This very simple coat pattern ticked all those boxes and since the fabric was pretty but ultimately inexpensive I decided to run with it.

Back view. Giant floral print is giant


This garment was ultra easy to sew, as you would expect. With making it out of ponte knit I just overlocked about 90% of the construction so I didn't even need to do any extra seam finishing or anything. As always, however, facings are the bane of my existence. On the one hand, the wide facings do a good job of keeping the wrong side of the fabric hidden. On the other hand, despite me spending a while hand-sewing the facings into place along every seam and hidden area I could think of, they do tend to open up a little still. I'll have to see if this annoys me when I wear it for real or if I forget about it.

Innards, including the annoying front facings

Size and fit wise, I made a size 44 with my usual small square shoulder adjustment. It's a rather shapeless and voluminous garment -- for sure you'd have room to layer even if you made it in a woven. It has no fastenings, which is what I wanted, although the pattern could easily be made up differently since the other versions (A-C) all fasten various ways. On me, the fit is maybe a little wide at the shoulder, but not enough that I am too bothered about it.

Overall, I think I like this cardigan. It was certainly a nice easy way to get sewing again. However, I am a bit dubious about the print. I really loved the print as a piece of fabric, but I'm not sure it 100% translated the way I expected into a garment. The colours are perfect for my wardrobe but I don't know, sometimes I think florals skew very frumpy on me. I guess I'll see how it goes wearing it.

Next up: This week is curtain-hemming-apalooza on behalf of my long-suffering mum, who has waited quite long enough. After that I've got a pile of Christmas and holiday related sewing and knitting to do, plus I want to finish the blue jumper I stalled out on at the beginning of the autumn by the end of the year if I can. So I'll be busy busy busy, or at least I will be if I can just stay well enough and motivated enough to keep going this time!

Friday, 4 November 2016

A black tunic and top

As mentioned at the end of my last post, I cut out another tunic to wear with black leggings at the beginning of October. Then I was forced into a lengthy sewing hiatus for the rest of the month. Happily, I am now sewing again, and my first task was therefore to sew up the two things I'd already cut out.

Ottobre 05-2014-05 New Boheme tunic in black cotton/lycra


Ottobre 05-2014-05 technical drawing
First up was the tunic. The pattern is Ottobre 05-2014-05, which is called the "New Boheme" tunic.

Since I made it in black, the line drawing no doubt tells you more than the actual finished garment photos do in terms of the features of the tunic. As usual for Ottobre, the pattern has some nice little details -- I like the pleated front neckline a lot and also the way the pockets are constructed is very neat. The pockets do sag open a little bit, but I was prepared for that this time since one of the two sample images in the magazine also has slightly saggy pockets.

I made a size 44 straight from the pattern envelope with only one minor change, which was making the sleeves elbow length. (This is the problem with there being a gap between cutting out and sewing: I can't remember why I wanted shorter sleeves. I just did, apparently.)

I really like how the pockets are assembled on this tunic

This turned out to be a very generously sized tunic except for the sleeves, which are more typical of Ottobre's knit pattern fit on me. I think if you're between sizes I would go for the smaller of the two sizes and just check the sleeve width is going to work for you. That said, I am very happy with how this turned out overall and pleased with how it looks in an outfit with black leggings.

I had one big 3m piece of this black cotton lycra knit, and my experience has always been that if you're planning to cut two things out it's often better to do both at once. In theory, the tunic above required 2.2m of fabric and even my most economical basic knit top pattern with elbow-length sleeves usually requires at least 1.2m of fabric. Somehow, however, by shortening the sleeves of the tunic and playing pattern Tetris I managed to get both the tunic AND a turtleneck top out of my 3m piece of fabric and still had 0.5m left over. Witchcraft!

Burda 09-2010-121 top (original version)
The outcome from making this top is a total hack job on my part. I started with a popular older Burda pattern (09-2010-121, which has a ton of reviews on PR). I traced out a size 44, and then basically over-wrote everything from the shoulder point down with my usual basic knit top pattern. I also totally ignored the (extra long, extra skinny) sleeves in the Burda pattern in favour of my preferred elbow length knit sleeve. So really, I only used maybe 10% of the Burda pattern.

I actually quite liked how the neckline turned out. I had been bit dubious because, as it's a one piece bodice/neckline, you sew the collar and collar facing as one and then flip the facing inside and sew the seam allowances together to hold it in place, leaving the rest of the facing unsecured. This does mean that it's a tiny bit awkward to put on (the facing tends to open up at centre front and back) and you definitely have to futz with the collar once it's on to get it to lie correctly, but once you've done that, it looks good. However, I admit I only wore it for a short period, so I can't say if it would stay put through a whole day of wear. 

Finished top with altered neckline
The reason for not wearing it for long is that since turtlenecks haven't been in fashion for a while, I had actually forgotten why I've never owned many: I hate the feeling of the fabric clinging to my neck! I wouldn't say, from a pattern perspective, that the neckline is designed to be tight at all, but I am just really bothered by the sensation of even a moderately close-fitting neckline like this. I wasn't at all excited to wear this top and in the end I decided to cut off the neckline to a crew neck as I will certainly wear that more often. Overall, this was really a lot of effort to go through for the end result, but eh, at least I ended up with something I'll wear!

Next up: Is there a compound word in any language for "the feeling of regret when you remember you promised a loved one that you would re-hem approximately six miles of curtains for them"? If there is, that is what I'm feeling right now. So many miles of curtains. So very much regret. However, once the curtains are done (will the curtains EVER be done?) I've got some cardigan plans I want to get started on, or maybe a shirt, or maybe something else entirely. Definitely nothing with a lot of hems!

Saturday, 29 October 2016

So much for October

In a nutshell, October has been dreadful. I shan't even bother to recap the reasons why it was so dreadful, just take my word for it: it was just grim and I am glad it is nearly over.

Due to the dreadfulness I have sewed very little since my last entry in this blog.  Right back at the beginning of the month I did continue my Almost But Not Quite Pyjama sewing and made one knit tunic/short dress in black and white:

The Tree Bark Twig Dress; or Ottobre 05-2015-01, in a print so busy that you can make out literally zero details

Ottobre 05-2015-01 Twig Dress

This is Ottobre 05-2015-01, which Ottobre call the "Twig" dress, a simple A-line knit dress. This name was baffling until I realized that the sample dress was made in a print reminiscent of twigs. It amused me far too much that the fabric I used was described by the vendor as a "bark" print. Can't escape the trees with this dress!

The fabric was a 1.75m remnant of a slightly woolly textured sweater knit in a poly/viscose/lycra blend. It was the perfect amount of fabric for this dress -- I had nothing more than some skinny strips and one small square left at the end. I made no attempt any kind of pattern matching, but it turns out the print is so busy and random that I think the seams, even the centre back seam, blend in pretty well anyway.

If you squint REALLY HARD you can probably just about make out the semi-circular pocket here. Maybe.
I made a size 44 straight off the pattern sheet with just my usual square shoulder adjustment. If I make it again, I'll shave just 0.5-1cm or so off the shoulder -- making it more like a 42 through the neckline -- because the shoulder point is just a tad too wide. Really, I should just use the size 42 neckline but I was being lazy about blending sizes when I traced this one.

On me, sorry for the camera phone shot.
One reason I like Ottobre patterns so much is that even though this is really an ultra-simple dress it just seems really well thought out. The pockets at the front are just a little bit different, with bound edges, there is a nicely shaped centre back seam, and overall it seems really well drafted. My version went together extremely smoothly and quickly. My only tiny sewing problem was that the fabric was quite bulky and the bindings at the neckline are therefore quite thick. You're meant to sew in a little dart at the centre front to create the v-neck, but that was just not going to work out. My dress is therefore a sort of pointy scoop rather than a V neck. That aside, in conclusion: A++, would sew again.

Since making that (and that first wear that I took a mirror selfie of was back on October 4th, so, a while ago now) I have also cut out a second tunic pattern to wear with black leggings. However, that's still languishing in pieces on my sewing table right now awaiting my return to sewing productivity. As the dreadfulness is receding I imagine I'll get started sewing again imminently, but as usual I have a backlog of more urgent but much less fun things (housework I cannot continue to neglect, etc) that I need to catch up on in my more productive hours before I can start using them for sewing purposes. I still have high hopes for November, in terms of making interesting things and getting stuff done!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Under the wire

As usual I am keeping track of my goals for the year as each month goes by, but really the less said about my "achievements" in September compared to those goals, the better! For various reasons, September was really stressful and I coped with this in two ways: EAT ALL THE THINGS! and BUY ALL THE FABRIC! The result of this is (a) a lot of stomach ache; (b) my fabric shelves overfloweth; and (c) my budget and stash busting plans are in severe disarray. Ah well, I am sure there are worse coping mechanisms!

Luckily for the structural integrity of my fabric shelves, I did also made a bunch of things. Some of them even turned out really well. My cobalt blue Jalie jeans were by far the best thing I made in September, and possibly even the best thing I've made all year so far despite the sewing flaws. I absolutely LOVE them and have worn them a lot this month already. I also really like my Grainline Linden sweater with the lace overlay  and I'm glad I thought to make it.

However, I was definitely protesting too much in my last entry about the wearability as it stood of my Butterick 6388 sweater dress. In the end I took scissors to it and trimmed the size. I took about 8cm out of the width from just below the bust and then, because I was being lazy and didn't want to re-do the hem, I tapered back out to the original width at the hem. This makes it rather A-line, but I'm OK with that. The moral of this story is: I should definitely have bought the smaller sized pattern envelope, alas. I want to use this pattern again, but I am going to have to grade it down in order to do so, or else suck it up and buy a second copy in the right size.

Before and after of B6388 as modelled by me
I also started and finished making a super easy StyleArc Estelle yesterday. This is a pattern I made twice in September 2015. I really like and still wear both of the versions I made then and so the possibility of making it again came to mind when I wanted to add a draped/open cardigan in black to my wardrobe this month. As usual I sort of dithered about repeating a pattern rather than trying something new: on the one hand, novelty! On the other the certainty of knowing a pattern really works and goes together easily! This time, easy repeat won. I do love the Estelle pattern: just three pattern pieces, four if you use the optional pocket (which I never do), and it all just fits together so nicely and looks great when finished. The fabric in this case is a textured black ponte knit. I could maybe wish it weren't quite so polyester-y but it'll be fine.

StyleArc Estelle in black textured ponte knit
So that was September! As far as October goes, I've got big big plans, as always. Three things I definitely want to do: (a) finish my current knitting project, which has stalled, as usual, at the sleeve stage. Why am I so reluctant to knit sleeves?!; (b) work on my twisty sleeve/shoulder width fitting problems and see if I can make a bit of progress there; and (c) outerwear! outerwear! outerwear! We're having an unusually mild autumn, but I really am going to need a jacket at some point!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

A pair of knit dresses (Ottobre 05-2016-16 and Butterick 6388)

I'm not going to lie, I really liked both of these dresses and was dead pleased with how they looked in the mirror. Then I took photos in order to review the patterns here and when I looked at the photos I was like... oh. These look terrible, just deeply unflattering and sack like both on Flossie and on me. Since then I've wound my way back round to "I still really like these, they're great for the purpose I made them, and I don't really care if they don't look good in photos". Still, it's a thing to note.

Left: Ottobre 05-2016-16; Right: Butterick 6388 (View D)
The purpose part is important. I had a sort of gap in my wardrobe in the category I like to call Not Entirely Unlike Pyjamas. These are soft and comfortable clothes suitable for those days where my sole intention is to spend my time lying around the house, but that are still perfectly respectable to wear if I have to answer the door or run into the local shop for thirty seconds. Until recently, I've mostly worn some kind of tracky bottom/knit top combination on those days, but this autumn I decided to add some knit leggings & long knit tunic/short knit dress combinations into rotation. I bought a couple of pairs of RTW leggings on this occasion -- I am not entirely convinced sewing my own leggings is worth the effort, though I daresay I'll end up giving it a try one of these days.
Ottobre 05-2016-16

I decided to make two blue dresses to go with navy leggings first. The first is from the most recent issue of Ottobre Woman, pattern 05-2016-16. I can't say this leapt out at me from the magazine when it arrived. It was, in fact, only when another blogger -- Dawn at Two On Two Off -- made a really great version that my attention was drawn to the pattern. Once alerted to it though I added it quickly to my sewing queue. For my version I used a grey and blue knit of unknown fibre composition that, while rather thin, was quite well behaved overall. It has a sort of paisley pattern on it but didn't sweat the pattern matching (by which I mean, I cut out all the pieces from my fabric and THEN suddenly thought oh! pattern matching! that's a thing people do, I guess!) and the whole thing therefore came together in no time at all.


Various view of my actual dress -- front, side and droopy pocket






One disappointment is the droopy pocket, which I don't think the other reviewer experienced. It's impossible to tell if the version in the magazine has droopy pockets like mine because the model has her hands in them. My suspicion is probably not, and that it's caused in my dress by a combination of my fabric being very lightweight and drooping under the weight of the double facing, compared to the stiffer knits used both by Dawn and by the magazine, and also it not being pulled straight/flat by my body because of the size I used.

Ottobre 05-2016-16 on me
I made a 44, more or less straight from the pattern sheet. Ordinarily, I make a square shoulder adjustment but with batwing tops this becomes rather complicated so I decided to try this version without. The fit through the shoulder/bust is pretty much what I would expect from a non-square-shoulder-adjusted batwing to look on me. It all comes unstuck, of course, at the waist and hip. Ordinarily, when making separates, I use a size 44 upper body, size 40 lower body in Ottobre patterns. Often I don't attempt to grade down through the hips at all because I don't generally choose to emphasize the relative narrowness of my hips vs my shoulders/bust. In this case though, I really should have graded at least one size down over the hips as I think that might have helped with the droopy pocket problem. Also, you can just about tell from the technical drawing that the skirt is pegged somewhat. Unfortunately, it turns out that a too large pegged skirt will hang a little oddly, with some peculiar droopy lines over the hip. That said, it's a very comfortable dress.

My second dress is from this recent Butterick pattern, B6388.

Butterick 6388
For sure I am not the only person who glanced through the recent Butterick release and pounced on Butterick 6388 as a pattern I really needed in my life, mainly because of that lapped collar on views B, C and D. I have been waiting patiently ever since for it to first arrive and then go on sale here in the UK, which it finally did last week, allowing me to scoop it up for £4 instead of the usual £8.

However, there was a problem: the sizing. First up, let me just say that my full bust allegedly puts me in a Size 18 according to the McVogueRick size chart. I have never ever made a size 18 in anything. I use either a 14 or a 16 or something between the two for upper body garments, and a 12/14 for lower body. With this pattern, however, the sizing has been done in XS/S/M, and L/XL/XXL, where M is 12-14, and L is 16-18.

I've not made any Butterick knits before so I had no previous experience to work from. Looking at the measurements, I just couldn't decide at all which to pick. The finished garment sizes on the Medium are almost exactly the same as my actual measurements, which means they would have had almost zero ease. That's fine in a knit normally, but this pattern called for a knit with minimal stretch. Also, I really wanted to make view D as a sweater dress, a top layer that I can wear in winter over leggings and a t-shirt so I wanted a little bit of room for layering. On the other hand, the size Large has a whopping 10cm extra space in it. Ordinarily I would have just merrily made up an imaginary size half way between the two but M and L are in different envelopes, so I had to decide what size to start with. I eventually went for the larger of the two envelope sets, L/XL/XXL, sacrificing the possibility of ever making View E, the trousers, as the smallest size is too large for me.

All of which is to say: this is a size Large, straight off the envelope. The pattern says it is "semi-fitted" which, no. My version is not quite as shapelessly sack-like in person as it appears in my uninspiring, standing still photo, but it is definitely also not semi-fitted. I guess I can just say that the Large is too big on me and I should have bought/made a size Medium. If I had wanted a cute little dress to wear with boots and scarf to wear out the house, this is a disaster and I would have ended up taking inches out of the entire side seam. As Nearly But Not Quite Pyjamas, I'm actually fine with it as is, though if I make it again -- and I will almost certainly make it again -- I will be taking out quite a lot of that extra ease (and also, dear god, look at the twisty sleeve problem, AGAIN!)

Butterick 6388 on me
More pertinently, the real draw of this pattern is in fact the neckline, and this turned out so well, just like the pattern image:
Butterick 6388 neckline
My fabric is a very very soft, floppy knit. It has probably more stretch than the pattern really calls for and the collar is a little prone to falling down as I wear it, but the shape and construction of the collar is actually great. If I were making this again in such a soft, loose knit, I might consider adding a lightweight knit interfacing, just to make it hold the shape more neatly. In a firmer knit, the sort the pattern actually recommends, I think it would hold the shape better to start with. Although I am very happy with how it turned out, construction was not wholly unproblematic. My fabric was quite thick and my overlocker is quite basic/lightweight. The section at the front has 7 layers and the overlocker chewed through it only very reluctantly. I was glad that I actually sewed it with my regular machine before I finished the neckline on the overlocker, because I think going straight to overlocking it would have been a disaster.

B6388 back view
The back of the dress is also seamed -- there's an (unshaped) centre back seam, and a circular yoke seam. In the larger sizes, the centre back seam seems to be there in order to fit the pattern on the fabric, but in smaller sizes you don't need to. If I made it again and decreased the size, I might also cut the back on the fold, since that seam adds nothing and I don't ordinarily do any kind of centre back adjustment (obviously, if you do, the existence of a seam is a plus!)

The pattern calls for 2.2m of fabric for view D in size L, which I blithely ignored. I could have gotten the whole pattern out of 2m without any problem at all, but it slipped my mind that I needed to cut 4 pocket pieces and I only cut 2 by mistake. As it turned out, I had cut round my pattern pieces in such a way that all the scraps I had were almost, but not quite big enough to cut the second pair of pocket pieces, which was aggravating. In the end I just left the pockets off. I also decided not to do the top stitching, partly because it didn't show up on my fabric at all when I tested it and therefore it seemed like a waste of time, and partly because this fabric distorted like crazy with every additional line of stitching.

One major issue I have with the pattern is that it seems to have been written as if the person sewing it will have fallen through a time warp to 1973 before she does so. I understand that not everyone sewing knits has an overlocker/serger, but some of the advice was just bizarre, old-fashioned and/or written as if the garment was going to be made in a woven. I also really REALLY dislike a 5/8ths seam allowance on a knit garment. This is my umpteenth knit garment so I just tra-la-la'd my way through a lot of the instructions and only paid any close attention to how to put the lapped collar together. Still, ugh, McCall's need to get it together with their knit pattern instructions.

In conclusion: I am not a picture of sartorial elegance in these photos, but I don't need to be to be pleased with my dresses. I really want to make the Butterick pattern again -- I might make a view C length jumper with some ponte knit I have -- but I need to think about how to adjust the size. There's a part of me wonders whether it would be worth picking up the smaller envelope, even though that's an expensive thing to do.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Embellished

I haven't made much progress on anything significant the last week or so, like my outerwear plans or making more tunics. I did, however, start and finish two little projects, both of which made use of more embellishment than I usually do.

First of all, another Grainline Linden sweater. Late in the summer, I made a green and white raglan top and at the time I mentioned I'd noticed that mixed fabric/embellished raglan tops seemed to be something I was pinning a lot on Pinterest. I used this image to show the sort of thing I had been interested in:

Some raglan tops from my Pinterest collection (again)
This time, I used the photo in the upper left for inspiration, with the mix of knit and lace. My top is made with a very fine black knit (the same knit I used on last week's Ottobre top) with an extra layer of a stretch black crochet/lace knit in the front and back bodice only.

Is there anything less rewarding than taking photos of black clothes? (Grainline Linden with crochet lace overlay and black knit -- if you click on the image the lace detail will actually be visible when the image is larger!)
It seemed like most RTW I glanced at with a similar design just put the lace on the front, presumably in an effort to decrease their fabric use. I didn't have anything in mind for the rest of the fabric and I thought it would look nicer on both sides. I made the top exactly as usual, and just treated a layer of the black knit and the lace as a single piece of fabric when I was sewing. This was unproblematic except that it made for an interesting experience sewing the band at the bottom since I had quite the sandwich of fabric layers going on. I had to recut the bottom band and try again because it went a bit wrong the first time, but my struggles are not evident in the finished product. Overall, I'm really pleased with how this turned out.

My second embellishment project was also fairly straightforward. If you've read this blog for a while you'll know I've been passingly interested in the Alabama Chanin books/techniques. I keep meaning to make an actual AC knit garment just to see how I like it. (I have to be honest, I have major doubts that I don't think I'll clear up until I actually give making a wearable garment a fair shot.) One of the things the book tells you to do is stencil in your design onto the fabric with fabric paint before you start sewing/embroidering/whatever. Stencilling is not something I have ever done before, so I decided to do a mini stencilling-only project first.

Things I used on my scarf
Thus: One pot of grey fabric paint. One cosmetic sponge (from a large bag of them from the £1 shop). One large black fabric scarf purchased from eBay direct from China for 99p. One simple stencil from the first Alabama Chanin book, transferred onto template plastic because I thought the cardboard would go soggy if I used the one in the book.

I quickly hit on a technique for splodging the paint through the template. I decided to do a sort of border print along the short edges of the scarf, but other than that I made no attempt to plan out the actual layout of the stencil. I just tried to fit it the stencil in at different angles somewhat organically as I was going along.

Finished stencil painted scarf
And here is the finished product! I definitely learned some things about stenciling from doing this that I plan to carry over to an actual AC garment, and I like my finished scarf as well.

Next up: the weather having finally become somewhat autumnal this week, I am in a hurry to make more tunic length tops so I can actually start using the jeggings I bought. I will probably be focusing on that over the next couple of weeks. On the plus side, that means lots of fun new patterns for me. On the minus side, lots of fun new patterns means lots of my least favourite sewing job: tracing and/or cutting out patterns.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

In which I sew A Look (Butterick 6270 & Ottobre 02-2016-05)

Today's "Look": Butterick 6270 tunic (left) and Ottobre 02-2016-05 "Fog" (right). Put together in centre!
I have mostly, up to now, avoided the skinny jean look. I did buy a pair of skinny jeans once a couple of years ago but I was stymied by the problem of how do I wear these? I always found myself feeling weirdly exposed and under-dressed if I wore skinny jeans with the same tops I wore with bootcut jeans. This is, of course, ludicrous because in actual fact the only place they fit differently/more snugly than my bootcut jeans was below the knee. No matter how silly, though, the fact was I couldn't get comfortable with wearing skinny jeans and eventually got rid of them.

This time around, I decided that if I was going to try out the skinny trousers look, I needed more of a "make some outfits" strategy. Rather than skinny jeans, I bought two pairs of RTW "jeggings" in my two main autumn/winter neutrals, black and navy. I use scare quotes because "jeggings" seem to be defined differently by every shop that sells them, meaning everything from extra stretchy skinny jeans to knit leggings with a fake jeans-style fly and topstitch printed down the outer leg. My two pairs are a mid-to-lightweight stretch woven with a faux fly and front pockets, some jeans-type topstitching details and an elasticated waist. If I decide I like this look and need more, I would probably make rather than buy next time. Based on my recent extremely positive experience with Jalie 2908, I have been thinking about getting Jalie 3461 if I decide to try making some.

By the time I bought the trousers I had also spent some quality middle-of-the-night-insomnia-sucks time on Pinterest combing through for ideas for tops, and then trying to match them up with fabric & patterns in my stash. I'm not going to lie: this was very entertaining and made being awake at 3:30am significantly more bearable. :D

Skinny black trousers and layers, all by Eileen Fisher
My first outfit is based on various photos of outfits from Eileen Fisher. Eileen Fisher is not a brand with which I am really that familiar. If they have shops here in the UK I am not aware of it, and frankly the prices would be waaaaay out of my range even if they did (e.g. ~£200 for their basic black trousers like in these photos. Hahaha, no, I don't think so.) At any rate, the actual shop notwithstanding, in the photos I pinned what I picked out specifically that I wanted to try to achieve was a relatively streamlined tunic, with another shorter and differently shaped lightweight layer over the top.

My version of the outfit therefore includes (a) black RTW jeggings; (b) a tunic length top in black and ivory patterned viscose made with Butterick 6270; and (c) Ottobre 02-2016-05, a curved hem knit top in a very lightweight, semi-opaque black knit.



Butterick 6270

The Butterick pattern, despite having a very uninspiring pattern cover, is really rather nice. As you most likely know, See & Sew patterns are a cut-down, reduced-price version of a pre-existing Butterick, McCall's or Vogue pattern, usually just one view or with a very limited variation compared to the original. I looked for the original pattern but couldn't figure out what it was*, and nobody seems to have reviewed this See & Sew version so far. I chose it for this project because my fabric, with the diagonal check design, really needed something without a lot of style lines. As it is, let us gloss gently over the question of whether I managed to match the diagonal lines at the side seams in any way (answer: no, I did not, it is a mess of disconnected lines).

* Edited to add: With thanks to SewCraftyChemist, the original pattern is Butterick 5997, which has an additional view with pintucks and some more sleeve variations.

Butterick 6270 tunic: front, back and innards showing the large facing and clean finished shoulder yoke
I made version B, with a long sleeve with a continuous lap cuff, but without a pocket or the collar, in a size 16 which is the largest size in the package. I made no changes except for my essential square shoulder adjustment.

You can see on the white version on the pattern illustration and in my version above that there is a wide facing to finish the neckline. I expected, as I cordially loathe all facings, to hate this one too. However, it actually all comes together quite well, albeit with a little bit of hand sewing of the facings to the front yoke seams. It also asks you to slip-stitch the front shoulder yokes by hand. I did not do that, preferring the burrito method for a clean finish yoke despite having to squeeze quite a lot of shirt into a very small space between the yoke pieces. I also ignored the instruction to hand-stitch the collar stand closed. I stitched in the ditch, but it must be said I don't get such a nice finish from that no matter how slow and careful I am. Probably I would prefer the outcome of hand-stitching it, even if I don't particularly enjoy the process.

Fit-wise, for straight out of the envelope except for my straight shoulder fix, it's all right I guess. The usual problems cropped up: the width of the shoulders, which are not just out but MILES out, and that annoying twisty sleeve problem. The shoulder width thing is a real pain because the effect of all those criss-crossing lines on the extra width of the fabric makes it look like I'm wearing Dynasty style shoulderpads, which is annoying. Both shoulder width and twisty sleeve issues are on my list of Things To Figure Out Sooner Rather Than Later, but eh, too late for this garment I guess! I'm still experimenting a bit with what the perfect length of top is for me with skinny trousers. This top is 76cm long and I feel like it might have been better just a little bit longer, maybe 80cm.


Ottobre 02-2016-05 "Fog" sweater front, side and back to show the curved hem
Ottobre 02-2016-05 "Fog", from the Ottobre pattern sheet

The top layer of my outfit is from a recent issue of Ottobre. The pattern, 02-2016-05, is a typical simple Ottobre knit pattern with three pattern pieces and a binding. The appeal for me was the shaped front and back hem. The original pattern has invisible zips set into the two side seams. I have seen this top made up on someone's blog, though I'm sorry to say I forget who, and I ear-marked the pattern at the time because I liked how it looked on her. She did it properly with the zips and everything, and it looked great. However, I couldn't actually imagine any circumstance in which I would ever unzip those zips, plus my knit fabric is absolutely featherweight and the thought of inserting two zips in it filled me with horror, so I left them off. And that's all there is to say about this pattern, really.

As modelled by me, with RTW black "jeggings". I got my collar stuck in my sweater in the rear view -- oops!
So that's my first top (or tops, in the case) to wear with my new jeggings made. I think I'm pleased with it -- I like it better in the mirror than in the photos but that's pretty typical for me. I have more similar projects planned to sew over the next few weeks to make these trousers functional in my wardrobe for autumn (though, there's been no actual sign of autumn here yet -- we're sweltering through the hottest September in decades here right now. It's meant to start being more normal temperatures from this weekend but still probably too warm for this outfit!) I'm also slowly creeping through the preparations to start making that camel coloured jacket, though, so most likely the start of that will be up next.