There’s something about Indie Pattern Month that just gets the creative juices flowing. Is it the four versatile challenges set by our fabulous hosts? Is it the constant stream of incredible makes from the other participants popping up in my inbox? Or is it the chance to win some awesome prizes (my barely repressed competitive streak comes into play here!)? Well, it’s all of these things of course!
I may have gone a little bit overboard this IPM, and especially for the Indie Royalty challenge. A combination of not having done much sewing this year but still having a lot of ideas floating around in the back of my mind, two weeks of school holidays, and the multiple garment aspect of this challenge saw me really hook into my sewing over the last month. The result is I now have 5 new garments (4 of which will be covered here) and a few ‘bonus makes’. Strap yourselves in dear readers; this could end up being a bit of an essay!
I’ll start at the beginning. For the Dresses challenge in week 1 I made the By Hand London Flora dress out of quilting cotton, with a fully lined bodice, frenched and bound seams, and bias tape hem. The full details are in my original post.
Once I’d finished this dress I realised I had a little problem; I didn’t really have anything to wear it with. My standard outfit is a dress with a black bolero/cardigan, black stockings and black boots, and while the black would probably work with the grey, I was craving something a little lighter. I’ve had the Muse Jenna Cardigan in my pattern stash (printed off and ready to be stuck together) since it was released, and I decided a cropped cardigan in grey would be a welcome addition to my wardrobe. To be honest I found choosing fabric for the cardigan really difficult. I don’t do much sewing with knits (I’m not really sure why, I think I just think of them as too…unpredictable?) and I find it really hard to tell, even by touching, how they’ll look as a finished garment. Lucky for me we went to Adelaide in the second week of the school holidays (2000 kms in a car with a toddler and a pre-schooler – wouldn’t advise it!) and I was able to visit a few good fabric shops. I came away with (amongst quite a lot of other fabric) several metres of a stable grey rayon/nylon/spandex knit for my Jenna. As I mainly wear cardigans over dresses I chose to make Variation B, waist length, with the gathered sleeve from the expansion pack. I approached this project with trepidation, but it sewed up quickly and without too many problems. My main issue was that when I had sewn up the side seams and tried it on for fit it was waaaay too big. I guess I hadn’t factored in that I would want the cardigan to fit with negative ease, being a knit fabric. We’ll chalk that up to my limited experience with knits! I ended up taking several inches out of the side seams and the centre front, as I couldn’t bear the thought of taking the whole thing apart and cutting the pieces down to a smaller size. As a result the fit is probably not as good as it could have been, but I decided I can live with that. The other hiccup I encountered was when I was attaching the neck band, I did have to unpick it once and redo it and it still doesn’t lie perfectly flat, but again I think this is something I would do better with a bit more practice.
In hindsight I’m not sure I chose the best fabric for this project – it works fine, but the end result is a little darker and a little more structured than I had imagined. I ended up leaving off the sleeve cuffs as the sleeves were already super long without them. Next time I will make a smaller size, and also take some width out of the shoulders, which seems to be a common adjustment for me.
Even though this cardigan isn’t exactly what I imagined it would be, I’m still quite happy with it and it will get plenty of wear.
My next project, which I already had underway, was a non-garment sew; an overnight bag. I stay away from home one night a week for work (living in the sticks there’s not much call for private music teaching, so I travel to work 2 days a week in our nearest city) and up until now I’d been using a tired old backpack to cart my bits and pieces in. The Grainline Studio Portside Travel Set pattern had been in my collection for some time (are you noticing a theme here? Yes, I’ll admit it, I hoard patterns…) so I decided that the duffel bag would do nicely. I used the quilting fabric left over from my Flora dress for the contrast fabric, and I found some heavy denim in my op shop stash to use for the main fabric. Also from the op shop stash (yes, my stash is getting so out of control that I have a separate ‘op shop’ stash – I just can’t resist buying cheap fabric!) is the lining, a polka dotted cotton. It doesn’t exactly ‘go’ with the other fabrics, but I like it, and that’s reason enough.
This was a satisfying sew – no fitting or fiddly bits. It went together quickly and easily. I considered making a removable divider so that I could use half the bag for shoes, but in the end I didn’t bother. After using it last week the only thing I wish it had were some more pockets; it has external pockets but some small sections on the inside would be handy for stashing bits and pieces.
Taking ‘matched luggage’ to a new level!
By the time I had finished all this sewing I still had a whole week up my sleeve, so I ambitiously began two new dresses. The most practical of the two is a Colette Hawthorne, in a Cotton + Steel fabric I bought from Craftsy’s New Year sale. It’s a very dark navy and I think it was called Cornflower. It was a dream to work with.
This was my second Hawthorne; after receiving the pattern in a pattern swap during IPM I made it up then in a red gabardine, and it’s a dress that I find I get a lot of compliments on. It’s not as fitted through the bodice as my usual choices – it is described as semi-fitted in the pattern booklet – and I wear it with a belt to pull the waist in. I got adventurous and made my own belt to go with this dress, using a ‘vintage’ (that’s what we call things we’ve found in the haberdashery basket at the op-shop, right?) belt kit. I wasn’t sure how well the adhesive would have stood the test of time so I laid a strip of Heat N Bond on the back of the belt strip for security. I cut the belt fabric on the bias from scraps of my fabric, so the print wouldn’t show on the belt. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out!
I don’t have a whole lot to say about the construction here; it is all pretty straightforward and the instructions are clear and concise. I used French seams on the side seams of the bodice and skirt, and bound the back seams in bias tape. I also used wide bias tape to cover the waist seam, as exposed seams really bug me.
My final sew for Indie Pattern Month may currently be the most outrageous garment in my wardrobe (although my hot pink Melissa from last year would probably give it a run for its money!). It’s a very bright, very summery, cat dress.
I came across this cat fabric in the furnishings section at Spotlight, and at $5.99 a metre I couldn’t go past it. It’s quite light, so I knew straight away it was going to be used for a garment. As fate would have it I had also recently bought some not-quite-pink-not-quite-purple rayon on sale that was almost a perfect match. The pattern is the Deer and Doe Reglisse, and this is my fifth version. I love the full skirt, cap sleeves and the way it works in different fabrics. Of course the fabric wasn’t wide enough for the skirt, so that meant more pattern matching.
I lined the skirt with a white cotton poplin from my extensive remnants collection, and used black rayon (leftover from one of my previous Reglisse dresses) for the waistband. I find the instructions fairly basic and I’ve developed my own tricks to putting this dress together with no seams exposed. I cut extra yoke pieces and sandwiched the seams between them. I stitched in the ditch to attach the back yoke lining – something which I’ve never managed to do successfully before but I was quite pleased with my efforts here, as the stitching is barely visible. I interfaced the cap sleeves and sandwiched the bodice seams inside the cap sleeves, top stitching to secure the insides. I attached the waistband so that all the seams were enclosed (a lot of sandwiching going on here!) and used two strips of thin elastic – as opposed to one wide strip, which I find less comfortable – and ran a line of stitching down the middle to separate them.
In case you can’t tell, I’m pretty chuffed with this dress!
My second ‘bonus make’ (after the duffel bag) was a non sewn item, but it’s still from an Indie designer so that counts, right? It’s the Miette cardigan from Andi Satturlund. I’ve done a lot of knitting this winter but nothing for myself, and as we were due to spend a lot of time in the car with our trip to Adelaide, I needed/wanted more cardigans and this pattern had been sitting dormant in the archives for quite some time, it was a no brainer. It’s actually the first time I’ve knitted a garment for myself so it was a steep learning curve, but I enjoyed it, am pretty happy with the outcome (even though it hasn’t been blocked yet – I literally finished sewing the buttons on an hour ago!) and am already planning another one in light grey.
Well, I think that’s about enough from me! Five new dresses, two new cardigans and a travel bag was a pretty good effort I think! Well done to everyone who has contributed to Indie Pattern Month, and a huge thank you to Mel and Kat for making it happen! Now, off to tidy all my sewing paraphernalia off the kitchen table…