When I was looking to build my sewing confidence, I decided to take the Ultimate Trousers class at Sew Over It‘s Islington shop. The trousers actually turned out really well, and it was the boost I needed to keep making apparel. Since then, I’ve been a major Sew Over It fangirl. Their patterns are stylish and versatile, and not too complicated (depending on the pattern of course). I love Lisa’s style too and enjoy her vlogs.
The fabric is this soft, drapey rayon from their store. I don’t think they have it anymore but it’s called “pick up sticks”. I actually have a number of pieces of fabric from their store that I’m saving up for the perfect project.
The Ultimate Shift Dress is a beginner pattern, and has a lot of room for hacking and creativity. All you need to do is watch Lisa’s Shift Dress video to see all the variations you can make with it! Unlike other Sew Over It makes, I needed to make a few adjustments to the Ultimate Shift Dress pattern for it to fit me well. I’ve been fortunate that other patterns have needed little to no adjustment. My bust size falls into a size 8, hips in size 10 and shoulders in size 12. After some trial and error, I have it worked out. From the neck to the lower armscye, it’s size 12, the rest is size 10 and the bust dart is at the size 8 point. Since the armscye are size 12, so are my sleeves. The great thing about this is not only does it fit my shoulders perfectly, but it’s loose enough where I can get it over my head without the back opening. Win!
I finished this dress the morning of a celebration we had with friends and family for my daughters 100 days of life. It’s a Chinese tradition called Red Egg and Ginger. Since the dress is shorter when cinched in with a belt, I wore it with tights. I prefer it with a belt because it gives me (and the dress) more shape!
I made this version with elbow length sleeves.
I have an idea for my next make using this pattern. It’ll likely be a hacked top version. It’s a few down in my sewing queue so it may not be for a little.
I have to say…I’m particularly jazzed about this make. At the beginning of 2016, I had a some sewing goals for myself. The main two being: make a button-up collared shirt and make jeans. At the end of January, I found out I was pregnant, so there went my goals. I had terrible morning sickness (for the entire pregnancy unfortunately) but that fatigue in those first 4-5 months absolutely killed me. I had no energy to do anything after I had a full day of work. Plus, I didn’t want to invest a lot of time into clothing that I needed to be a normal size in order to fit to myself.
Well, my daughter is now 3 months old and I’m back at the sewing machine! I traced all of the pieces of the Grainline Archer and set about cutting it out of my Cotton & Steel Metallic Arrows fabric that I’ve been keeping for this occasion. I didn’t do a toile because I figured it’s supposed to be a looser fitting shirt. I decided to go one size up from my bust size because I tend to have broader shoulders for my size and I lengthened the sleeves by 1.5 inches since my arms are a bit longer.
I used the sew-along instructions as my go-to instructions and the day-by-day steps made sewing this really manageable. I think when instructions are really long, I get overwhelmed by how much there is to do, but each day of the sew-along is a nice chunk where I feel accomplished and I’m not at my machine for hours on end (which is hard to do with an infant anyway!). The only deviation of instructions that I did was to use the Alder Shirtdress sew-along instructions for the yoke and Andrea’s alternative collar instructions for the collar.
Can I tell you…the sense of accomplishment is ridiculous?!?! I didn’t think that I would be able to sew something like this with its many pattern pieces and need for accuracy…but I did! And I love it. The longer sleeves are perfect for me and it is warm and comfortable to wear. I love it so much…I’m making a black/white/grey gingham version right now!
The first project with buttonholes that I tackled was the Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges dress. At the time of sewing, I was pregnant and needed something that would be roomy enough to hide (in the first 3 months) and later fit my growing bump. At the time, I couldn’t be bothered to tweak the waistline of version 1 so I went for version 3, the tunic. The first one I made was out of this cotton lawn weight chambray. All of my versions have pockets because…well…pockets. That’s self explanatory.
As you can see, the fabric is really light and even though I made the dress length, it was still a bit short for me so I always wore them with tights or leggings. Super comfy and roomy though.
My next version was out of this black viscose fabric from The Textile Centre. It has a flower-like pattern on it that reminds me of Chinese characters. I think I got the most wear out of this version, because it didn’t need ironing. Even though it’s a viscose fabric, it has a nice weight to it which made it surprisingly warm.
Last but not least, a linen sleeveless version. This probably got the second-most wears because when it was colder, I could layer with a turtleneck or long sleeve top, and when it was warmer, I either wore it on its own, or with a short sleeved t-shirt underneath.
From what I remember, these tunics fit me up until my 8th month, and I continued to wear them after pregnancy because they were just so loose and comfy.
One big thing to point out is that Megan’s post about sewing closures is an absolute gem. It has transformed how I find doing buttonholes and sewing buttons onto clothing. The tip about putting the pin through the sewn and open button hole to line up perfectly with where the button will go…genius. Sewing buttons with a machine? Even better. I am terrible at hand sewing and my first few attempts at doing so meant I had a flimsy button on there. Using the machine is a time and life saver. Check out her tips!
My first By Hand London Victoria Blazer was this denim polka dot one that I really love. Since then, I decided I needed to work a couple more into the rotation. I found these particularly useful for layering when I was pregnant because it has a relaxed fit, and has enough ease to be comfortable through pregnancy weight gain. I’ve gotten plenty of wear out of these whilst not pregnant which is nice.
This bright green jersey one is by far my favourite. It’s stretchy and comfy and adds a nice splash of colour which I like to do year-round. The lining is a black and white polka dot cotton that I had in my stash.
At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about the slouchy lapels (I’d topstitched on my denim version so they’d lay flat) but I then decided that I liked them kind of slouchy and just did a catch stitch on the corners of the collar and top of the lapels.
This black version is made of a thick brushed cotton and lined with this polka dot polyester fabric. Aaannd, I just realised that I must have a thing for polka dot material!
It’s very wearable and a nice stylish basic to wear over and over.
The nice thing about the blazer’s looser sleeves is that in colder weather, I can put a long sleeve on underneath to layer. With more wear, I’ve realised that the length of the sleeves is slightly awkward since it hits me right at my elbow bend. Whilst still comfortable, I think I’m going to lengthen the sleeves on my next version. I’m currently debating between a lovely camel melton wool or a twill vest version like Heather’s…or who knows…maybe both!
One of the nice things about finally putting my backlog of makes on the blog is that I rediscover how much I love the item that I made. As a result, I now want to make more of what I’ve blogged about which helps the pattern-hoarder in me to make use of what I already have 🙂
The first Megan Nielsen pattern I’d sewed was this Brumby skirt. I was first drawn to it because of its massive pockets. I’m a pocket fan. Dresses, skirts, trousers…anything with pockets just ups a piece of clothing’s usefulness.
It was a really straightforward make. I made it out of this black and white viscose fabric but I don’t remember where I got it from…oops. Because the fabric is a bit slippery, I opted for an invisible zip rather than the exposed zip. Next time, I’ll definitely go for the exposed zip.
I’ve since worn this brumby to work, and gotten good use out of it when travelling, particularly in Dubai. Because it’s long and covers my knees, it’s perfect for the location, and since it’s so hot there, wearing a skirt is much more comfortable than shorts.
Yay for pockets!
Another backlog make being posted to the blog! I made this wrap dress a while back and at the time, it was one of the more challenging things I’d made. I’m a massive fan of Sew Over It patterns and I do love a good wrap dress as well. The instructions are clear, concise and easy to follow. I had no issues, and it was my first time tackling a project like this.
The only adjustment I made to this version was to lengthen it by a few inches since I like my dresses to hit just above or at my knee. As with most wrap dresses, I find it a bit low at the front so I usually wear a vest (cami) underneath. I also like the mid-length sleeves for a bit of warmth in the winter, or some extra warmth in a cold air-conditioned office.
Made of a lovely royal blue ponte di roma fabric, I wore this to work a lot and always got compliments on it. People didn’t really believe that I’d made it, which is a lovely compliment 🙂 Would definitely love to make it again, but just haven’t had the opportunity to yet.
One thing that I thought would annoy me is the facing and keeping it tucked in. I’m happy to report that with the understitching, it stays in place nicely!
Before we moved from London back to the US, I sewed a bunch of stuff that I never got around to blogging. So this is me…trying to get through my backlog! The thing that makes me procrastinate blogging my makes the most is taking photos. I’m not fond of taking photos of myself, but how else am I supposed to showcase what I make? It doesn’t look as nice on a hanger, and I don’t have a dress form (yet)…thus, I don’t end up taking photos. Thankfully, I was able to take these whilst still in London so it was just a matter of writing the post.
Without further ado…my Lindens.
The Grainline Linden Sweatshirt is a fantastic winter wardrobe staple. I made these 2 a couple years ago, and I wear them literally ALL the time when it gets cold. Both fabrics I bought at Walthamstow Market, but I can’t remember where anymore. This chintzy blue and white Linden is a quilted cotton. At first I thought it might be a bit stiff to be comfortable, but it works really well and is super warm! I lengthened the sleeves a bit and omitted the cuffs on this version since the fabric itself isn’t that stretchy.
You can barely see the raglan sleeve line because of the pattern.
My second version is made of this blue and white striped terry fabric. The fabric itself is also super warm. The inside is really soft, so it’s very comfortable. I kept the cuffs on this version which is nice for keeping my hands and wrists nice and warm.