Suited and booted

JacketMy latest creation has certainly given me some new challenges and also a few familiar elements I haven’t done for quite a while. I decided to make a trouser suit for a couple of reasons, the first being the challenge (here I go again giving myself far too much to think about) and the second being the wear I will get out of it at work. There is nothing more disappointing than making something, being really pleased with the end result, feeling fabulous in it and never getting the chance to wear it. The pattern is Burda 7134, the fabric is a grey tweed wood blend suiting from Minerva Fabrics. The suit is fully lined, complete with a slit on the back hemline, slits and buttons on each sleeve and fully lined flap pockets on the front.Jacket

It all started with cutting out the 24 pattern pieces for the fabric, lining and interfacing (not a small task by any stretch of the imagination). Initially the construction started well, sewing the front princess seams and the back seams and then I came to a grinding halt with the lined pockets; something I haven’t done before and unfortunately to my horror the instructions were very limited (this pattern is for advanced sewers who know what they are doing and I’m clearly not one of them). Time to turn to my twitter sewing friends for some much needed advice. I must have spent two weeks (around my day job) putting those little beauties in but I got there in the end. Onward with the creating the collar and attaching the facings to the jacket, constructing the lining and putting it all together. The next problem I faced was finding ten buttons two different sizes, I visited many shops and markets with no joy and finally found some online (what is that all about?) I finally revisited buttonholes with shaking hands added the buttons, label was inserted and that was that.   Or so I thought and then I washed it and the shoulder pads decided to head south on a journey to the bottom of the jacket, lining was then unpicked and the shoulder pads were inserted once again (securely this time).Jacket

Time to make the trousers, these compared to the jacket were a doddle, sewing a few seams, the waistband and buttonhole, the most difficult part of the construction was the zip and even that was straightforward, there isn’t anything more I can say about them really, I struggle to get excited about a pair of trousers.Suit

I have to say this suit gave me the challenge I was looking for and accelerated my sewing talent in the process, even though there were times when I really didn’t think I was capable of mastering something I haven’t achieved before.  Although I must admit now I feel the need for making something simple next time, I was going to make an evening dress (something else new for me) but first a couple of separates.

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Vintage glamour

Here we have another step in a new direction for me and I TOTALLY loved every minute of it!Full Front View Inside

The pattern is Burda 7132.  I was immediately drawn to the design, I very much liked the Audrey Hepburn style. The fabric is a medium weight wool mix courtesy of Minervacrafts. I had already decided before I hunted the fabric down that it had to be dog-tooth check.Front View with Jacket

The dress consists of two halves, the top front is made up of three front panels to create the shape (something I am becoming very familiar with). The skirt front has two pleats either side to create the wonderful box shape at the top (this helps to hide a multitude of sins in the stomach area). The back has a concealed centre zip and vent at the bottom. The neckline, being very straight, is slightly different from other dresses which I think adds to its individuality.  Finally it has little capped sleeves which are sewn on with their facing.  On the whole it was fairly easy to put together, the skill involved was matching all the checks.

Front View with LabelNow we move on to bigger and better things, the jacket. I can honestly say the construction was  straight-forward, the reason being the fabulous instructions put together by Burda. Anyway, this. after 14 months of sewing is the first fully lined jacket I have attempted and I was ever-so-excited with each and every step.  We will start at the beginning, each of the front and back panels are sewn together and the sleeves (still in half at this point) are attached. Then the top seams on the sleeves are sewn to create the overall shape, the collar is then inserted (4 times I might add, we know how much I love to unpick!).  After which the whole process starts again with the lining. The two are put together using the collar and its facing and turned inside out (I was very giddy at this point). Time to add the cuffs, do a bit of hand stitching and away we go.

Full Back View

I particularly liked the box pleats in the back lining creating a pocket to prevent it from ripping when I am doing joyous cartwheels in it later. The one thing I didn’t do was stitch the lining to the inside along the fold at the hem, this again I think will give more maneuverability.

I would say this is definitely another win;  some you do and some you don’t.  I would definitely recommend Burda patterns, I really liked the seam and marking numbering on the pattern pieces, it all adds to the enjoyment of making such a wonderful garment. I am chuffed to bits with how it all turned out, so much so that I have decided to make a trouser suit next, including another fully lined jacket, I think I will need another wardrobe soon to accommodate my new clothes.

Stepping into some rather large shoes

Now then, these little beauties are my first attempt at men’s attire. I don’t remember making anything “male” when I was first sewing many years ago. The pattern is Simplicity 3971 which to my amusement is a unisex pattern, you will understand my amusement when we touch on the sizing later in the post. I decided to start with a pair of PJs for two reasons, number one, my husband quite liked the idea of handmade lounge wear and number two, I was reluctant to make a pair of trousers or a shirt in case I had another sewing disaster which wouldn’t venture out of the wardrobe; at least with these, only a select few people will see them in the flesh.

The trousers were extremely easy, especially with an overlocker, sew the inside leg, middle seam, side seams, make the waist casing, insert the elastic and away we go, happy days.

The shirt was more difficult, although the pattern was very easy to follow and the construction was quite painless. I revisited button holes and inserting a collar, both of which I haven’t done for some time now. The hardest part was matching all the stripes. When you’re dealing with so much material, it can be quite daunting. As I mentioned earlier this pattern is for male and female, now my husband is 6’3″, he is not a small chap by any stretch of the imagination. I did a bit of measuring, added a bit of length on the arms and legs and definitely cut the pattern to a size medium, make no mistake folks these are indeed a size medium. (I think he was in short trousers the last time he wore medium clothes) and they still swamp him, huge is not the word!

Anyway, we think jammies are most comfy when they are not restrictive and have more than enough room to lounge around in.

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Taking it up a notch

Skirt Front View

The gathered seams starts at the top left and travels down the length of the skirt

Full Front View

A two piece garment, using layered, gathered outer seams

Where to begin with this one……….? As with many other patterns I bought Vogue V1259 by Donna Karan because I liked the look of it rather than deciding first if it would suit me or if I could actually make it.  It was only after a bit of searching the internet I realised it was for advanced sewers and was a nightmare to make (mentioned by many fellow sewers).  Nevertheless I took the bull by the horns and moved on.  I decided to make it out of the suggested Lycra knit.  The first thing that surprised me was the lack of pattern pieces, the skirt has two (which are put together to create one) and the top has five.  I decided to be on the safe side and make the skirt first. Ahh yes the safe side; I actually unpicked the skirt three times for various different reasons, it took me a couple of attempts to realise where the gathers and seams overlapped and it was made on the right side of the fabric rather than the wrong, just to confuse.  Anyway it came good in the end.

Close up Front

The gathered seam on the front starts around the back, travels under the arm up the front, through to the collar

Now I was familiar with how it all worked the top would be  straightforward right? Not the case, I had many a head scratching moment and plenty of time staring at the instructions open-mouthed in utter disbelief.  I genuinely felt like I had a blindfold on and really didn’t have a clue what it would look like when it was finished or even if it would work.  There are so many overlaps, seams on the outside, seams on the inside, there is an armhole with a hem on it on the inside, I really didn’t understand what that was about until the end.    The pattern relies heavily on the squares, small and large dots but the difficulty with this is there are so many of them that it is hard to determine which dot to use.  The gathered seams are all on the outside of the garment, very careful precise cutting out technique is required as all raw edges are on show, the pattern suggests to cut back seams to the stitching but I decided I quite liked the extra texture brought on by the gathered material so kept mine as it was cut out.

Full Back View

The back seam starts on the left, travels diagonally up the top and meets the front seam below the armhole

As with fellow sewers who have tackled this garment before me (some of which stated they would not attempt it again) I found that once assembled and all the gathers have been teased into their rightful place and it all looks as good as it can be everything heads South the minute you move and the skirt becomes twice the length – I think some velcro tights are in order.

Half FrontI hope I haven’t sent anyone running for the hills never wanting to attempt this fabulous outfit, it takes a lot of determination to make and a lot of guts to wear but I for one am chuffed to bits with it.  I felt the need to share the pitfalls but  all in all the immense feeling of achievement and satisfaction that follows this garment is more than worth the feeling that I was going slightly mad once or twice 🙂