An Archer in the Stars

As part of my night class assignments we had to make, fit and create a shirt.... what a perfect opportunity to try out the Grainline Studio Archer Shirt!

This shirt has been on my 'to make' list for ages (and apparently my 'to blog' list aswell having finished it in May!) - having already stalked several hundred versions on the interwebs as inspiration. One of my favs is Meg's version on Cookin' & Craftin' - I even went so far as to buy the exact same fabric as her. (Girl/Shirt Combo-Crush). In winter. Being as it was coming into summer at the time I made it - a hot flannel shirt was probably not the best of ideas. (Although to be fair it is the UK so you never know.)

A cooler breezier fabric was needed - enter the amazingness which is.....Constellation Cotton! My inner space nerd is happy.

This super-geek fabric was obtained from Fabworks Mill some time ago. I WAS going to add space buttons aswell but,,,,that was a bit much really.

The pattern itself was lovely to assemble - and once I'd found the step-by-sep sewalong pages the instructions were very clear.

I made a couple of alterations to the pattern after making a toile.

Toile Version
The sleeves were quite billowy therefore I removed 4cm from the length at the shorten line. I also wanted more of a tunic length to wear over leggings therefore I added 10cm to the length of the body of the shirt. I also found some lovely blue pearlescent buttons that matched quite nicely.

I ignored the instructions for the collar and went with The Fabric Wrangler method which is also the version on Four Square Walls - so much easier to get a neat finish - have a look if you've not tried this :)

Weird smug face - I could get no decent pictures today!

Apparently this little guy was a fan of my cuffs and plackets
 Will definitely be using this pattern again - perhaps the flannel version will get made soon for autumn/winter wear!

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Ogden Cami - True Bias

I needed a quick and easy project for the Sewing Weekender and the Ogden Cami by True Bias seemed to fit the bill.

Turns out when you're surrounded by people and massively distracted it was neither quick nor easy!

After measuring and using the size chart I came out as an 8 - 10...which rang alarm bells as I haven't been a size 8 in any sewing pattern ever. A quick toile was required to satisfy the suspicions and I'm glad I did. The front fit quite nicely however I was completely trapped in at the back and way too broad for the size. I flexed my arms forward in hulk style and it ripped straight down the centre back!

Mini panic set in as I had to pack that evening and I had no idea how to fix the pattern - however lovely boyfriend stepped up and pinned a spare bit of fabric into the gap made by the rip and drew the V back in! Genius. So the toile got dismantled and I was able to retrace the Frankenstein back piece into a new pattern piece.

We're off on our holidays to see some giant tortoises soon, so a tropical turtle print fabric from Minerva Crafts seemed appropriate! It's a cotton batik and therefore not particularly drapey which is a shame so the effect is a bit boxy.

In theory it should have been quite simple to assemble but I managed to mess the straps up several times by not reading the instructions properly - as I say I was very distracted! Due to the pattern alteration I had to make the back V does sit very low but I think it looks ok. I'm also struggling for decent pictures of this one but here is the general idea:

It is really enjoyable to make as its very neatly finished, its also half-lined for modesty and ease of bra-lessness in hot weather.

 I also had some liberty print left over from my Anna Dress last year and managed to squeeze another Ogden out of it! Seems a little fabric goes a long way with this pattern. This is cotton lawn and just a fraction softer for draping - but still not quite what the pattern calls for.

I do have a third one on the go! Goldilocks style the third fabric choice might be just right. Its a buttery soft viscose from The Textile Centre in Royal Blue. Mmmmm..... drapey, soft and lovely.

An extra 1cm of seam allowance was cut aswell for a bit of extra under arm room on this one. Fingers crossed it turns out well as I love the colour!

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Crafty Clyde goes to The Sewing Weekender!

Well what a weekend it was!

I arrived late Friday to be greeted by a concerned security man as I had wandered into the gardens of the Cambridge University campus in the dark and he'd picked me up on CCTV. Hilarious.

Punting in Cambridge - didn't have a go but just watched :)
Once settled however the weekend, organised by Charlotte of English Girl at Home and Rachel and Kate of The Fold Line - was outstanding! I even got to join them for breakfast on Saturday morning and was made to feel welcome despite my ridiculous nervyness. 

Charlotte and Kate 
Right from the start there was a serious excitable buzz going on as we were handed some amazing goody bags and a box of supplies from Adam Ross Fabrics. So many sewing ladies all in one room!!

I was on a table with Pippa from The Fabric WranglerEliza Sew-Little who works in Guthrie and Ghani,  and Melissa Fehr of Fehr Trade! They were an absolute comedy dream, very funny ladies.

tiny sewing machines
 I didn't actually get a great deal of sewing done - was too busy chatting, drinking tea, being overwhelmed by all the 'sewing celebs' in the room- but did finish an Ogden Cami just in the nick of time and wore it out for dinner. Turtle print - naturally. I'll blog about that another time as I have a second one in the making aswell...

A very tasteful Ogden Cami...
Sewing prefects were fantastic and went from table to table helping out and chatting away. I couldn't believe my luck when Elena from Randomly Happy stopped by for a chat. #fangirl I also failed to remain cool when Rachel from House of Pinheiro made an appearance, and even selected some of my fabric in the stash swap!

Day 2 was a little calmer as we had several talks on different subjects. I absolutely loved Rachel's discussion on inspiring creativity and the idea of 'finding your sandwich' (basically if you were to make a sandwich that represented you, what is it?!). Here is my sandwich! As someone who works in a very black and white industry (law) it was such a refreshment to hear about all this creative thinking and ways of getting your brain free to design and edit your own thoughts.

Marilla Walker was also fascinating to me because she has a clearly obsessive and inquisitive nature - I mean who else would make 20 toile versions of a bra...just because!! She gave a brilliant insight into her processes and why she does what she does.

Elena gave a talk on creating a meaningful wardrobe - which quite frankly made me fall in love with her a bit. That woman is hilarious. It certainly made me re-evaluate my ever growing sewing list and personal style. I really do think I'm going to delete the list and liberate myself from these self-imposed shackles of guilt induced by 'patterns bought but never made'.

Tilly and the Buttons (minus the Buttons) gave a very insightful glimpse into how she started and the behind the scenes of how a pattern comes to life - she also hinted of September and January new pattern releases!
Sewing talks
There were so many other lovely speakers and attendees that I could go on for ages - but needless to say it was a pretty epic weekend!

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Serena Maxi Dress Sewalong! - Simple Sew Patterns

For this months Simple Sew make I got the honour of trying out one of the brand new summer dresses - the Serena Maxi Dress! It's now up on the Blogger website if you want to check out the other makes and team members :)

This is a long floaty number, perfect for hot weather... The fabric is a yellow crepe kindly provided by White Tree Fabrics.

Firstly we'll start as normal by checking the packet for fabric and sizing - it's finished measurements that apply with these patterns. I fell between a 10 and 12 - 10 for the top half, 12 from the waist down :)

You will need:
  • Fabric - handy hint: the bodice is lined, so if you want the lining to be made from the same as your main dress you'll need to buy a bit extra than the stated amount for your size ;-) 
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Thread
  • Shirring elastic
It is recommended that you make a toile first to check the fit - I did this and discovered I needed to add 3" to the bodice pieces for a long torso. I also altered the position of the straps and measured how long I needed the straps to be. All handy stuff to do first...

Once you've cut your pattern pieces and checked the fit (if you want to) it's time to start the real deal!

Step 1 - Cut

Lay your fabric out nice and flat so you can pin all your pattern pieces ready for cutting. This fabric was super lightweight so getting it to stay put was a challenge - but that's what tinned goods are for right?

Step 2 - Pin and dart

The first thing I did here was to transfer my pattern markings (see here for more info on how) and get the bodice darts all pinned and sewn in. The darts need to be pressed outwards towards the sides. Repeat this for both the main bodice and lining bodice pieces.

Step 3 - Side bits

Next you want to complete the sides of the bodice by attaching the side panels. Place the pattern piece, right sides facing each other and stitch together. There's no need to overlock or finish the seams of the bodice as its all getting lined and you won't see it anyway!

Step 4 - Straps!

Fold the strap pieces in half length ways and stitch 1cm all the way along it to form a tube. Finish one end - then using something thin and pointy - a knitting needle or a kebab stick (classy) - push the finished end up into the tube - keep going until it turns the right way out. Give it a good press for nice flat straps.

ye olde' kebab stick method

Step 5 - Attach those straps

Taking your main bodice piece, place the straps at the top point - right sides together and stitch down.

You then need to attach the other end of the strap to the side panel. Make sure your straps don't twist and that they are pinned and stitched right sides together. At this point - if you didn't make a toile you might want to check the length is good for you - those straps are pretty mighty and you don't necessarily need the whole length! (Or you could get jazzy and do cross over straps at the back). Once you've found the right length, trim to fit. My left and right were 36cm and 37cm as I have a wonky shoulder... always good to measure.

Step 6 - Line the bodice

Here's a very satisfying bit. Lay the bodice lining (*if you don't want to wear a bra but need support see the cheats tip at the end!) on top of the main bodice piece, right sides together - ensuring your straps are tucked out of the way on the inside. Pin and stitch all the way around the bodice from one side to the other. When you're done - clip into the seam allowance so when you turn it right side out, the curves are lovely and clean. Turn it out!

Step 7 - Back panel

Taking the back panel - finish the top of it by overlocking and turning over like a hem.

You might also want to transfer the pattern lines onto this piece as its about to get crazy. Mark out rows and rows of lines across your fabric. (Unfortunately my pencil was yellow as was the dress and I failed on that point!!)

So here's the fun - I think this is only the 2nd time I've ever 'shirred' anything and was surprised by how easy it was! Take your shirring elastic and manually wind your bobbin with it - give it a little tension, but don't stretch it too hard. You want the elastic in the bobbin, and regular thread in your needle.

With your fabric RIGHT SIDE UP under the machine - stitch rows upon rows of elastic - make sure you backstitch at the beginning and end of your row or it will all come pinging out again. The fabric will bunch up more and more so you need to keep stretching it back out and follow those rows. Look what you get!

Step 8 - Finish the bodice

Now to finish the bodice we need to attached that elastic back panel. This was tricky to photograph but go with it.... Flip your lining up so you can see the right sides of your bodice and the lining on display. Place the back panel, right side facing the right side of the main bodice piece. Then flip the lining alllll the way over the top and pin it down - so that all 3 layers are sandwiched. Stitch that edge and when you turn it out again its all neat and tidy! Repeat on the other side.

At this point I neatened things up a bit by stitching all the way around the bottom of the bodice to hold both layers in place. Just as few millimetres from the edge. Ta daaaaaaa bodice is done.

Tea break time?

Step 9 - Skirt pieces

Put down that brew and get back to work, you're nearly there :)

I chose to overlock all my skirt pieces at this juncture - granted I should have changed the threads but hey. Pin the skirt front panel to the front side panels and stitch - stopping at the notch to form the slits. Repeat for the back pieces.

Press out the seam allowance and continue all the way down to the bottom of the skirt so it forms a neat opening where the top of the slit lies. You want to now stitch alllllll the way from the bottom of the slit, up to the top, going round the seam join and back down again. Repeat for both front and back skirt pieces.

When that's all done all you need to do is place your front and back skirt pieces, right sides together, and stitch up the sides to join them. The skirt piece will look enormous at this point. Be calm - all shall be well.

Step 10 - To Gather or Not To Gather (that wasn't really a question)

Next up is attaching the bodice to the skirt. You'll notice that your skirt is infinitely bigger than your bodice at the waist. That's right - we have to get all that fabric in there.

The instructions say to 'gather' the fabric. Now the inner rebel in me ignored this because a. I'm not a gathering kinda gal b. I'm really bad at it. So I eyeballed some pleats instead.

IF you're doing this right - create long length stitches around the top of the skirt, so you can pull the bobbin thread and gather up the fabric, distributing the gathers evenly ensuring your skirt fits into the bodice. 

Turn the skirt inside out and drop the bodice inside it so your pieces are right sides together. Now attach :)

As reference, pin the side seams of the skirt to the side seams of the bodice. Do the same with the darts on the bodice - match them up to the skirt seams on the front. Same with the back - pin the skirt seams at back to the place where the back panel meets the side bodice panel. THEN gather between those points. Or if you're like me - just keep evenly pinning around and folding the fabric in, You'll have to stretch out the back panel to get it to join the skirt and pin carefully in place.

Stitch it together - ensuring you stretch out the back panel piece when you come to it. I also finished this bit off with an overlocker for neatness.

Turn it all right sides out!!

Step 11 - Hem that beast

Finish off by overlocking (or not) and turning up your hems on your voluminous skirt! I found the length of the dress just right - I'm 5ft 7 if that's any assistance. :)

Step 12 - Frolic in a meadow

Take your dress, wear it in the wild, let its floaty goodness flow in the wind as you shower yourself in beautiful flowers.

Or..... stand awkwardly in your garden whilst trying to take a decent picture without cringing/blinking/falling over.

*There's a little cheat in this dress that's not in the original - as this has a low back and summery feel, I added foam bra cups to the lining so regular bra straps didn't show. ;-) If you want to do this to your own I have a little tutorial here.

I hope you like it and that this is fairly useful - if you make your own please let us know! #serenamaxidress #craftycldye

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