Category Archives: Sewing

Pattern Testing Jazz by Ready To Sew

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I’m not sure about any of the expressions I gave in any of these photos… It’s me again! I’ve had a lot of exciting opportunities recently which is great, but does mean a lot less time for the old blog. That being said, I have a new make to show you all!

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It is my great pleasure to introduce to you Jazz, the new pattern from french pattern company Ready to Sew. They contacted me to ask if I would pattern test and I jumped at the chance. It’s a loose fitting dress or jumpsuit and has sleeve and length options, and I have to admit the design isn’t necessarily something I would have gone for without prompting. When I was sent some photos, however, I saw a black sleeveless jumpsuit version, and I realised that actually my wardrobe could definitely benefit from an easy breezy outfit like that.

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I went for a navy viscose from Abakhan Fabrics. It was my first time with viscose but this specific fabric, while drapey, still had a bit of weight to it which I think probably helped. My cutting could have been a lot better, but sewing it didn’t present too many challenges as long as I went slowly.

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I was sent this pattern to test the instructions and constructions, which I’m not going to detail here. I don’t think it would be very fair to talk about negatives which might not even be in the final draft. This is an intermediate pattern and I definitely feel that in the instructions. Ready to Sew does have a nice feature in their instructions where they have links to tutorials on how to do certain steps such as the invisible zip, if you’re concerned it might have some new construction techniques for you.

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I’m happy to wear this jumpsuit, but as I had to make it quite quickly (see above business, coupled with a temporary loss of sewing space in the flat) I did make a few irritating mistakes which I’d like to rectify next time I make it. One great thing about this pattern is that on the cutting layouts there is a guide showing you which edges you need to serge, which I’ve never seen before but love.

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I enthusiastically zig zagged the required edges, but in my eagerness I didn’t really take much care in ensuring the stitches would actually be caught in the seam allowance. A few zig zags do poke out onto the front of the fabric as a result, oops. Also, I’m beginning to think the sewing foot I thought was for invisible zips is actually only for normal zips, as I have yet to use it successfully.

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As I said earlier, I originally wasn’t sure how this jumpsuit would fit into my style and wardrobe. I very rarely wear or make clothes without a waist, having a look at my choices over Me Made May shows that for certain! I think I’ve got it into my head that because I’m petite and have short hair, I want to show some kind of curve of the body at all times.

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This is, of course, ridiculous. Gender is performative and ultimately irrelevant to clothing, so who cares if I don’t look ‘femme’ one day, or don’t create an hourglass silhouette in a corseted style every day? Choosing to do or not do these things is both completely fine, of course, and any variation in between. Please, wear things you want to wear. I took a look at myself and realised I hadn’t critically evaluated why I wanted to always cinch in my waist, which needed rectifying. This jumpsuit was a nice way of showing the internal criticisms that I am still valid and cute and stylish in something loose fitting. And I like it! It’s really comfy, super effortless and I can eat as much as I want without worrying my food baby will press against the waistband!

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I also like it with a belt, and apparently want to sneeze if this photo is anything to go by. As I don’t often need to define my waist further, plus the fact that I rarely wear accessories (so don’t own many), I didn’t have an exact matching belt to try with this. I had a waist tie from a top I no longer own which, while black and so not exactly matching, did a good job.

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I am already planning my next one, I’m thinking for going for a brighter colour, or maybe a khaki to look like some kind of french fashion style army person who wants no part in the war, and only wants to look cool.

Disclaimer: This pattern was given to my by Ready to Sew free as a pattern tester. All views are my own.

Butterick 4872 Culottes

DSC01509This pattern was originally my Mum’s from the past (I think the 80’s), and it has variations for culottes at different lengths, skirts and trousers. That’s pretty much all the types of clothing you can have on your bum! This pattern could be all you need. It’s an easy pattern, with minimal pieces. It’s pretty voluminous, but there are some darts on the back and front pleats which keep it in some sort of shape. All of the pieces were in here except the waistband, so I just ‘drafted’ my own by cutting a big rectangle of fabric and using that! It worked out fine.

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A game changer in this make was the addition of my pattern marking pen. I am so glad I bought this people! No pins breaking the paper, I just weighed the pattern pieces down, and drew the lines directly onto the fabric. This also made pleats and darts way easier than using the thread method, which is a bit fiddly for my liking. I definitely cut out neater pattern pieces than I usually do as a result and I am very ok with that.

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The smallest size in this envelope was ‘12’ (although that’s pretty arbitrary, since this is a retro pattern the sizes are all different and funny) which was a smidge too big for me, so I eyeballed and made the pleats about an inch deeper on each side. They aren’t perfectly even, but that’s our little secret, k?

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Making these up were pretty easy. I forgot how bland and to the point commercial pattern instructions were, which threw me a little. These were my first seamed pockets and while they confused me for a bit were actually pretty simple. They look so good too! I’m definitely keen to make more things with this pocket type.

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The main sticking point was really near the end, when I was stitching in the ditch for the waistband. I got overconfident, and managed to snap my needle on the zip! This was irritating, but became even more so when I realised I didn’t have any regular needles left except what felt like the thicket, bluntest needle which ever crawled out of the needle tin. I hated using it, it was a terrible time. On the plus side, it made me very quick on those last steps! Don’t worry guys, I have ordered new needles… Sorry bad needle.

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When I started putting the pieces together, I was kind of unsure about how these would turn out. I love this chambray (denim? Not sure! It’s quite lightweight but still has a good amount of body), but was I setting myself up for a fail by combining with this very unashamedly 80’s pattern? I was wondering if I should have tried it with something more floaty, but actually one it was made and I brought it in to fit around my natural waist I got on board with the idea. They’re kind of weird and maybe a little ugly, but they’re cool and comfortable and I like this outfit. I also think they’ll work year ‘round which is a definite plus, seasonal wardrobes can be restrictive for me.

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Restyling Exchange 2017

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IMG20170603191525I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t Lottie, how did her hair grow that quickly? To that, I would say ‘What are you talking about? Of course this isn’t me, this is clearly another woman.’ Welcome to my Restyling Exchange entry! This was my first time participating in a challenge of this type; sending things to (sort of) strangers, and making clothing you weren’t allowed to wear, no matter how much you liked it! Organised by Pilar Bear and Amy Nicole, we each sent out an item, and we all received one to restyle and then send back. Fun!

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I was sent this top from Rachel. Isn’t that a lovely print? She liked the fit but not the way the pleated lining fell. I had a think about options and reasonably quickly fell on this-

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Can you see a statement sleeve in the making already? I garnered some ideas from instagram, and decided to add sheer sleeves with the pleats as the cuff. Once I started unpicking I also decided it would balance it out to add a sheer yoke.

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I made a pattern piece for the sleeves from a shirt I had with a similar silkiness, and it seemed to work out ok! Sleeves are definitely a lot less daunting than I used to think they are, and usually a little more forgiving than they pretend to be. Stuck up sleeves, thinking they’re better than me. I MADE you.

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The original top had a pleat at the neckline, but the lining didn’t, which meant that the outer fabric front piece was slightly larger than the lining. I basically just drew a line to create the yoke, so I needed to find a way of making the outer fabric match up. I didn’t want to take anything off the sides because I didn’t want to make it too tight by accident, so I did a veeery subtle gather on it.

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There are a couple of bits I wish I was slightly more skilled at- my seams were a little messy, especially in the sleeves, and I don’t know if I finished the raw edges well enough. However, I’m still really happy with the end result. I came out just as I envisaged it, and this is definitely the most advanced thing I have made for someone else! Wowsers, making stuff for other people is stressful, I was so nervous when unpicking mistakes. I sewed a sleeve in the wrong way around and it was tense getting the dark stitches out of that dark fabric…

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Rachel very kindly let me use these photos for this post, look how great it looks on her!

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Check out the #RestylingExchange2017 on Instagram for more lovely refashioning projects!

My First Foray into Lingerie

I hate bra shopping. I mean, I’m not super keen on clothes shopping in general, but bras are stressful. Boobs are not grown in set cup sizes, and also are not symmetrical, unless you payed for them to be I guess. I wonder if buying bras is easier after a boob job? Anyway, in this frustration I realised it might be time for me to give making a bra a go.

Following this excellent tutorial by Annika Victoria, I used a scrap of stretch lace left over from this dress refashion, and I mean scrap. I squeezed the pieces out and hoped they were close enough to correct first time.

I basically followed the tutorial to the letter. Next time I’d like to add some more length on the bottom though, I think I measured a little short. Also, since I’m making these on my own measurements, I think I should make two sets of pattern pieces for each boob, to properly tailor the bra to me.

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Annika uses normal elastic for her bralette, but I had a load of fold over elastic I purchased for using in underwear one day. I didn’t really know how to use it (and clearly wasn’t feeling researching it for some reason), so I just kind of treated it like bias binding, sewing it into place wrong sides together, then folding it over and sewing it down. It’s fine for this make, but I feel like i could look a bit more polished so I’ll work on that next time.

There will definitely be a next time because this was a lot of fun, and a very quick project, getting everything done in one evening. I made the straps cross over at the back which I really like. The fit isn’t perfect but it’s a perfectly wearable first go. Plus, since it doesn’t have any wires it’s very comfortable regardless.

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I don’t have any photos of me wearing this bralette from the front because… well… it’s a black lace bralette with no lining. I do, however, have this photo from the back-

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Cute! Ignoring the extremely crumpled skirt, which is not so cute…

Striped Turtle Neck Refashion

I’m pretty pleased with this one! I know I say that about all of my makes… I made this in something of a fever at about midnight one weekend. I wasn’t ready for bed y’all! Some go clubbing, I go sewing. Both equally valid btw, no judgement here.

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Anyway, my partner had a big clear out and I grabbed this top because I love me some monochrome stripes. My thought from the beginning was to replicate a top I already owned, with some improvements. I have this turtleneck crop top, but it irritates me that I always have to wear a tank top underneath. I’m not going to wear it as a crop top, it’s long sleeved. My tummy gets just as cold as my arms people!

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This is a pretty rough and ready ‘tutorial’ coming up here- remember how I said I made this at midnight?

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Lay your top over the top to be refashioned. Draw around, adding seam allowance, with a fabric pen.

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Unpick the sleeves at the shoulder sleeves and down to the cuff.

I then cut around the top pattern I had drawn onto the top, having tried the top on to see if the lines seem about right. Remember that the shapes for the fronts and backs of the armholes and neck hole will be different.

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Sew the shoulder seams together, right sides together. All of my seams were sewn with a zigzag stitch. I like how I cut through the label as if it were the fabric, it means I have a cool half label reminding which bit is the back. I also like the idea that someone will find this top in years to come and be super confused about this top Next made.

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Open up the top right side up, and pin the sleeves to the armholes. By doing it now you can shape the sleeve to fit around the armhole without having to work out how to cut them. It’s a much more forgiving order than constructing once the sides are attached. Just be careful to not stretch the fabrics as you do this.

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Fold the sides and sleeves to right sides together, and sew in one long line. Here you’ll catch any extra fabric on the sleeves in the seam. Don’t forget to trim this down after.

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Now, for the collar. I basically just sewed two of the side pieces I had left from taking in the top, sewed them together to make a long strip, and used that. Be a better person than me, and make sure the rectangle you’ve made is even. I ended up with a wonky collar. It’s fine, I evened it up enough so you largely can’t notice, but I believe you can do better. I measured around my neck how big the collar should be to look deliberate, but can also fit over my head. I then basically followed this tutorial for the neck which explains it better than I probably could-

Since I used a top for this, I didn’t have to hem the sleeves or bottom as that was already done for me. Hooray! I am really keen on this look. It doesn’t come across in these photos enough, maybe because I’d had a busy day at work and a lot of food before taking them, but it’s a very chic top. I definitely want to make more, especially since it was so fast!

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Vintage Fabric, New Skirt

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It’s been busy couple of weeks so this is coming a little later than I expected. However, I am resisting the urge to apologize because it’s my blog and that means I don’t have to apologise for not writing this sooner.

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My mum was having a clear out and I managed to score a load of fabrics and notions out of it. This fabric went top of the pile because the print is absolutely gorgeous. It’s I believe an 80’s cotton, and I thought it would make a lovely skirt.

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I traced a pattern from a mid length skirt from my wardrobe which I love- it was payment for helping out at a vintage sale a couple of years back and I think it was handmade for a theatre costume. To save time and tracing paper I used the same piece for front and back of the skirt. I wanted a centre back seam for the zip to be inserted into, so I simply drew that piece on the fold, adding seam allowance around the edges. I then added another line with seam allowance on the centre seam. Cut out one piece on the fold, and two with the extra seam allowance for the back.

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I really had to squeeze this skirt out of the fabric, as I didn’t have very much fabric. Pattern matching be damned! However, I managed to get all the pieces which was a relief, including one waistband piece. I added a couple of inches extra to the length, in order to create an overlap for a button fastening. This was a feature I really liked in my original skirt.

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I love this skirt, and it was so quick to make. I am anticipating at least another one of these in my future! I wear this style a lot all week long, because it’s a really versatile piece in my wardrobe. Plus, I have the pattern piece ready and waiting now…

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I wore this to the cat cafe in Manchester last weekend and the combination of new vintage skirt and cat stroking times became very exciting to me-

We went to a cat cafe today and I think we're still giddy about it 😺😻😺

A post shared by @lottieoflosori on

Plus, it’s nearly Me Made May time! Please do come over to Instagram to follow my pledge and join in the party. It’s such a lovely time for the sewing community to come together and celebrate the fact that we made our own clothes!

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Me Made May 2017- My Pledge

It’s that time of year again! May is on its way which for the sewing community can mean only one thing-

‘I, Lottie of losori.wordpress.com (@lottieoflosori on instagram), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade or refashioned item each day for the duration of May 2017’

Every year Zoe of So Zo What Do You Know runs a month long challenge to encourage makers to make the most of their handmade wardrobe. You can make your own pledge according to what would be the right level of challenge for you. Last year I was in a very corporate job, which is not something I sew much for, and so I went for wearing handmade over the weekends. You can find last year’s Me Made May on my Instagram or on the mmmay16 tag on the blog. However, new year, new city, new job, new pledge! Life in your twenties, amirite?

I am anticipating that I may be featuring a number of repeats this month, which is ok. About 30% of clothing in our wardrobes went unworn last year, and so it would be good to ensure I get good use from the items I have made. Similarly, it will help me identify where the gaps in my handmade wardrobe lie, in order to make clever choices in the future.

I will be posting every day on Instagram, but I am still to decide about the blog. I will definitely write a blog post at the end of the month about my thoughts, but would it be interesting to put the photos on here at the end of the week? If anyone has any strong opinions let me know, otherwise I’ll just make an executive decision.

If I am really struggling or my laundry grew too fast, I will count mended garments for a day, but I wouldn’t count them as part of my handmade wardrobe, as that’s just a way for me to prolong the life of my purchases.

You can follow my month over on my Instagram which you can find here, and I look forward to seeing everyone’s handmade creations!

Start the Fans Please

I love a novelty/ themed make, but I similarly hate the thought of making something I won’t wear. What a waste of my own labour. However, when I started my new job recently there was something I had to attempt…

 

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I work for the Crystal Maze experience in Manchester, which is awesome. I’m not going to say much about my work on here, but rest assured the experience itself is just like the original show, only you are the star! As a big fan of the original series, I had to make something I could wear to commemorate the occasion. There were a couple of options. I could make something Mumsie would be partial to, or perhaps one of the iconic bomber jackets?

Richard O'Brien Coat

I decided to make Richard O’Brien’s leopard print coat. I don’t usually wear anything with animal print, but I thought for this I could make an exception. The fabric is a pretty nasty cheap thing I got from Ebay, but luckily it didn’t sew up as badly as I expected. I was anticipating fluff everywhere. Maybe this fabric was so synthetic it didn’t understand that was a thing fake fur does?

I ‘drafted’ a pattern from a second hand coat I love, which can be seen here during last year’s Me Made May-

This photo seems like an age ago. Also, can you believe it’s nearly Me Made May again? I need to start thinking about that. I say drafted, it was actually traced from the coat. I haven’t done that on a whole item before, and especially not with sleeves, so I was a bit nervous. It wasn’t perfect, but I made it work.

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I’ve never really attempted a coat before but using With Wendy’s Youtube tutorial made it really easy.

I basically followed this tutorial the whole way, with a slight alteration. My coat has a shawl collar, and a small curved rectangle piece at the back of the neck. Having this and the facing sewn in created quite a thick fabric, which means it stands up really nicely. It’s a feature I’m very pleased with.

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For the majority of this make I was singing the praises of this fabric. It doesn’t need much pressing, I can just use my fingers! It’s great, the fake fur means it stays in place really well with minimal pins! It’s soft! That was, until it came to fastenings. I had planned on copying the original coat in button placement, but that would have been about 5 button holes.

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This coat ate up my sewing machine like nothing else. It caused my actual footplate to rip off at least twice, sewn into the fabric in a horrific clump. My footplate! I had to unscrew the entire foot to get it away from it every single time, and it was nightmarish. I sat down one evening, expecting the buttons to be finished in an hour, and ended up there all night, saying rather unsavoury things to this coat.

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I came back the next evening, muttering ‘one buttonhole, just one.’ I made a large buttonhole in the middle of the length (roughly), and worked out where I could sew the button on the other side for best coverage. I didn’t spend too long on this, I was at the ‘well, everyone dies’ stage of sewing.

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I think wearing it buttoned up makes it look like a Richard Cheese outfit! Now it’s finished. I hope Richard O’Brien would understand that creative journey of hating your work at some point before it’s finished. Even though it was made with the understanding it’s an unusual garment for me, I actually will wear this. It feels cool.

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Altering a too small dress

Polka Dot refashioned dress (2)

Back when I was still at uni, I bought this polka dot dress from a charity shop. I loved the shape and the fabric, but it was too big in the bodice. No biggie, I thought, and took it home. One of the simplest ways to fit a dress which is too big is to sew in the side seams. However, this dress had a side zip, what I ended up doing was take it in at the centre, creating a centre back seam. It was an ok job, but I made the chest go the opposite direction and became too small. Here’s a photo of me wearing it last Me Made May.

As you can see; lovely dress, tight bust. I just kind of lived with it for a while, but more recently it became something of an irritation in the mornings. I don’t like having clothes which don’t fit, especially now I can fix that with sewing. Who’s with me on that one?!

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I finally sat down and assessed the problem. I had thought to leave the excess fabric on the wrong side of the seam, should I want to make any alterations. However, I had neglected to finish the seam allowances, and so that whole operation was rendered useless by the fact that the fabric had been shredded to pieces. My word past me, this was stupid. Why did you not finish the seams? Did you think it wouldn’t be affected by the cruel fate of the washing machine?

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Grumbling at my past over, I realised I would have to get creative to solve this fitting error. Luckily, that’s my jam. I dug a piece of black stretch lace out of my stash, and unpicked the centre seam of the dress. Next, I put the dress on and measured the shape I needed this extra piece to be. Well- I got Michael to do that, as I am no contortionist! A technique to gain fabric in a garment is to add a rectangular strip in the seam. However, this dress has a collar, which would have made doing that without ruining the collar very tricky. Instead, my idea was to create a lace keyhole insert.

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Having measured the positioning of the widest point, I pinned the lace into this opening, folding down the raw edges of the dress. I topstitched close to the edge of the dress around the keyhole, and finished the edges of the lace. You taking notes, past me? Oh, I guess you are….

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These photos were taken during a recent visit to the Museum of Science and Industry. I saw Gabby from Gabberdashery took over their Instagram recently, and thought I was due a trip to their textile section. I love how much better this dress fits me now, and the lace insert is pretty fun. It’s not something I would have gone for in the first place, but I like it. It’s nice that whilst solving the problem, I in fact created a welcome addition to the creation.Polka Dot refashioned dress

Tilly and the Buttons Orla Top

This make was rather a long time coming. All the way back in September, I was encouraged to buy this teal crepe from Sew Over It by Pocket for Sweets, during the Instagram challenge Sew Photo Hop. I got their jade crepe. Such a beautiful colour!

I knew I wanted to make an Orla top similar to the one made in the sewalong. However, I fell foul of not having the right equipment. I had been using some fairly cheap fabric scissors and until now they hadn’t presented too many problems. A couple of hacks into this fabric, however, and it was obvious I needed some better kit. I got myself some pretty wobbly pieces there!

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Christmas came, and I was lucky enough to get new fabric scissors and a rotary cutter and mat. However, I then had a lot of moving and new jobbing to do (see this post), and so Orla took a back seat.

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As soon as the sewing machine was plugged in, I was a go on this top again. I cut with a combination of rotary cutter and scissors and wow having the right tools makes so much difference you guys. I love my blade buddies.

This was a pretty straightforward make, as you would expect with Tilly’s patterns the instructions are clear and easy to follow. The fabric I chose is reasonably thick but still has a nice drape which made it a good choice for this top. It doesn’t press that easily though, so lots of steam required to put it into submission. It also frays quite badly so it might be easier to mark your notches with thread rather than snipping them into the fabric? Mine disappeared into the fabric a bit.

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I made the possibly over confident decision to make this first ever exposed zipper one with a decorative edge. I did a bit of a botch job on this, although I’m still pretty pleased with it. Do you try to tuck the bottom in like the instructions suggest with a normal exposed zip, or do you sew the metal bottom on the right side of the fabric? I felt like I was going mad because everyone I found online who used these didn’t seem to have any problems.

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I took the sides in by a bit because I like my clothes a bit more fitted at the waist, although I still feel like it might be a bit loose. The biggest bit of trouble I had was with the collar. I need to start thinking about whether my collars would be better off with lining on the bottom side, because I always have a problem with the bulk created with all the layers of fabric and interfacing. I also cut some of the collar pieces before I owned my rotary cutter, and so they don’t have the crisp lines they should have.

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Overall, I’m pleased I’ve finished this top, but there’s a part of me that still isn’t sure about it when actually wearing it. I wonder if the top is just a bit too long for me? Or perhaps the shoulders are too big, despite my pressing attempts. Plus, there’s the slightly costumey collar on my little neck. I just wonder if there’s something not quite right about it. However, I did wear it out over the weekend and felt good in it, so it might just be that I feel uncertain about it because it feels a bit different to my usual style.

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I would be interested in trying this top again, possibly in a slightly lighter fabric to see how that changes the look. I did like how it tonally matched with my secondhand coat, making a pretty sweet transitional ensemble.