Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Autumnal Portfolio

Well, if you can't beat'em, join'em. I have followed the world and made myself a Lisette Portfolio tunic. Having seen some fab renditions of this, most notably Karen from Didyoumakethat?, Roobeedoo's versions here, here, and here and Nadines stripey number, I was beginning to think my Autumn wardrobe would not be complete without one.

Just before the school summer holidays, I met up with my great friend for lunch at Blake House Craft Centre about halfway between Saffron Walden and Chelmsford, where we found And Sew On Fabrics. I had a happy time poking around and came away with a few samples and quite a few ideas. Later on, during one of the summer's less summery days, I persuaded the family to come out for a drive (with the lure of cake at the tea rooms) and came home with some lovely flowery cotton lawn, some chocolatey brown linen poly mix, half a metre each of red cotton and blue cotton, and a metre each of differing camo fabrics (possible later post on this one!). Unable to concentrate on much sewing during the holidays, I embarked on this make once everyone was safely back at school.

I had decided that I was going to have the contrast neck band, yoke and sleeve cuffs hence the purchase of the blue and red cottons. I spent some time holding the fabric up to me in front of the mirror trying to work out which of the two colours looked best on me. The blue was the best match to the blue in the main fabric, the red looked better next to my skin but didn't really go with the red of the flowers, and both of them looked pretty awful on me. I really wanted to to use some of the brown linen poly mix but then remembered that I have a pair of brown linen trousers that had never been very comfortable, and I had put to one side to pass on to my sister. These turned out to be just the right colour and weight for what I wanted. I could only get the neck bands and yoke out of the trousers - however I played with it I could not squeeze the cuffs out as well.

One evening, when I was too tired to understand the instructions for the sleeve cuff, I found a post on this blog, which gave pointers to the
Sew Lisette website,
a SewLisette flickr group and
a Portfolio dress sewalong,

all of which provided great distraction from actually sewing my own and the sewalong was very useful athought not for the cuff! I had not really taken in what I was supposed to do on the cuff, but when I went back to it, it all became clear, I had just been too fatigued!

Apart from my incomprehension re cuffs, the tunic came together nicely and I'm really pleased with how it looks. I had great fun playing with self covered buttons, which stand out nicely on the neck band and I love the pockets.

I am wearing it over jeans in the photo, but plan to wear it with leggings, boots and a polo neck jumper (according to Woman's Hour this morning, this will be very 'on trend'!) in the winter.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Turquoise top

So, apart from the Geometric refashion, I did actually manage to make an item of clothing for me, during the summer holidays.

For the second week of the summer holidays my m-i-l took my girls to Norfolk for a week, which enabled Husband and I to go to Liverpool for a few days. Lots of walking, eating, galleries, shopping, mixed weather - we had a great time!

The afternoon and evening before we left, I concentrated on cutting out my new top. I was using one of the fabrics I bought at the fantastic Goldhawk Road Fabric Fandango and one of the patterns Husband gave me for my birthday. I have had many ideas for the various pieces of material I bought, some of which was quite conflicting, so it felt really good to actually cut into some of it.

The pattern was Simplicity 2255:

I had looked at this pattern several times but not really made a decision on it until I saw a post from Jorth on this top. Her shirt looked so professional I decided that it was a pattern I wanted to have a go at after all. I have a sleeveless shirt from Boden that I've had for years, which I love but is on it last legs, and it is difficult to tuck in due to a ruffle all the way down the front. So I decided to go for view D (not completely sleeveless) with the small half ruffle thing from view C.

The fabric is 100% cotton, quite fine with a loose-ish weave, which for parts of it was a complete nightmare. For example, the front ruffle needed a narrow hem, which seemed simple enough, however, my sewing machine had other ideas. After chewing up the hem, I managed to unpick the stitching without any damage to the fabric. I repinned the hem and found some tissue paper, so tried stitching the hem with the tissue, which worked really well, although tearing away the tissue was a bit fiddly.

As Jorth mentioned in her post, whilst labeled 'easy to sew', it is fiddly. My iron and I became firm friends during this make as I wanted to make this look as good as possible. I used french seams on the inside. The whole shirt took a while to make, an hour here, couple of hours there. I was, however, determined to finish the shirt in time for Eldest's birthday treat. The last thing to do were the buttonholes, which I have to admit, I'd put off the previous evening. They weren't so bad after all and I was able to wear it the next day.

The picture I have of me wearing it isn't great, taken on my phone in a poorly lit room:
Note for another make: I made a size 10, which is mostly ok, but I need to grade out to a larger size in the hip if I make one of the longer versions. If I had put the last buttonhole in I would not be able to do it up, so I didn't bother. I think I probably need to take out some of the width in the front shoulder area - there seemed to be a fairly constant fold of excess material.

So far, I think this is my favourite of anything I have made!