A Sailor top

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It feels like a sailor top should be in navy and white stripes, with a big square collar and some shiny silver buttons, but this is actually the Sailor Top from Fancy Tiger Crafts.  I saw a tester version of this, I think, on a blog – can’t remember exactly where – but it grabbed me as exactly my style – nice wide neckline, a little, loose raglan sleeve and a loose, easy fit.  I always like a raglan sleeve, they always feel a bit more roomy than a set-in sleeve, which helps in my never-ending quest not to over-heat.  The fit helps here too – lots of room for air to float around.  The length is perfect for me, I like a hip-length top, I’m not young enough or thin enough to go anywhere near a cropped length – and I like a good amount of coverage so I can wear the lower-rise jeans that I’m most comfortable in without being in danger of scaring small children when I bend down!

I also really like the yoke at the neck, which is echoed in the sleeve bands and the deep hem.  It reminds me of a couple of RTW tops I had a few years ago which were favourites until they fell apart.  I made the size L with no alterations at all and it fits exactly how I like.  The yoke in particular looks great, sitting beautifully flat at both front and back…..

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Slightly blurry picture of the back there, this was the best light we could find last weekend when Edinburgh was particularly grey and miserable – there was no way I was standing outside in a lightweight short-sleeved top in the wind and driving rain……anyway, you can see the way the yoke sits on my shoulders and across the back.

The fabric was an impulse buy from John Lewis, on sale – according to the tag it’s 100% cotton, but it’s very drapey, and both the shop assistant and I felt that it might have some viscose or rayon content – it’s lovely and cool to the touch.  The print was a bit of a departure for me, I don’t usually go for floral, but this had some gorgeous colours in and it has an almost abstract feel to it.  This also meant I had no qualms about not even attempting to pattern match anywhere – there just wasn’t any point with the combination of the gathers and the random-ness of the print.  While I’m on the subject of the gathers, I was pretty lazy with them and there are a few spots where things get a little lumpy…..but again the busy-ness of the print means it’s not that noticeable, and I just couldn’t be bothered to try again.

This was a really quick, simple make but it’s become a regular in my work wardrobe – unfortunately the temperature in our office building is controlled centrally and it’s always too hot for me – so this is nice and cool for inside.  It also sits fine under a jumper or cardie without getting too creased, which means I can dress for the outside as well.  A very successful project and I’m planning more of these.  I think in a fancier fabric, maybe a silk crepe or something, this would be an easy-to-wear evening / dressier top.

Ginger Jeans

I made jeans!  I know, not a very original start, I’m sure I’ve read those exact words on lots of blogs lately, but still, I made jeans!  Ginger Jeans to be precise, view B – high-waisted, skinny cut. 

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Having persuaded my photographer to join me in the garden (not easy on a chilly Sunday when there’s ALL THE SPORT to be watched), I only realised after several photos that I’d chosen to wear one of the worst tops in my wardrobe for the purpose – you can hardly see the jeans….oops!  Luckily the photographer was more switched on than the model, so we took a few shots with the top tucked in.  Not the most flattering option, but distinct signs of restlessness were becoming apparent and I couldn’t risk running all the way back up the stairs and down again…..

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This was the first pair of trousers I’ve made for about 15 years, and generally I’m quite happy with them.  They don’t look as wrinkly in real life, honest, although they’re not the perfect fit.  That’s less to do with the pattern, and more a combination of problems with the fabric and size choice.  I found the pattern easy to follow, particularly the fly front instructions, and the sewalong helped as well on the odd occasion when I had trouble visualising things.  I’m not that keen on instructions that are too detailed and prescriptive – if someone tells me there’s only one right way to do something I automatically start searching for other ways to do it.  I enjoy the process of trying to figure something out for myself, I really don’t like to use online tutorials unless as a last resort…..Anyway, rambling aside, this pattern seemed to strike a good balance between being clear and precise, and not being overly bossy. 

So, fit.  I find fit a tricky issue to be honest.  Although I’ve been sewing on and off for about 20 years, I’d never really come across the concept of fit other than the very basic sense of ‘can I actually do the zip up’ or ‘is it giong to fall down without a belt’, before starting reading sewing blogs over the last couple of years.  Certainly not the weird and infinite universe of swayback, full bust, flat seat etc etc adjustments.  It probably helped that when I was last doing much dressmaking, I was considerably thinnner, with a fairly standard sized body apart from being a bit short, and that I’ve never really enjoyed wearing very fitted clothes.  I just get too hot and uncomfortable.  So the skinny cut of these is a bit of a departure for me.  I carefully took my waist and hip measurements twice, on different days – had a slight panic when I looked at the finished measurements chart for one number and the actual size chart for the other – then wondered how my waist and hips could possibly have a 3-size difference – and cut the size 14, grading to a 16 at the waist.  I actually fell between the 14 and the 16 at the hips, and between the 16 and the 18 at the waist, so I picked the lower sizes as my fabric was quite stretchy.  This has ended up being way too big, somehow, and I’m not quite sure how.  Even without stretching the fabric at all, the waist is at least an inch too big.  Not sure if it was inaccuracy in measuring, or in cutting, or just because of the stretchiness and weight of the fabric.  Still, with a belt to stop them sliding, at least they’re comfy!  They look fine with my usual hip-length tops, and the fit round the bum is actually pretty flattering……

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I’m not usually a fan of the high-waist, and I think if these actually had the negative ease they’re supposed to have,  they’d be a bit restrictive.  I’d originally planned to make view A, the lower rise cut with the slightly wider leg, they’re much more my normal style.  Unfortunately my first foray into the world of buying fabric online wasn’t a huge success, and when it arrived it was a much, much lighter weight than I’d hoped.  It was described as mediumweight – and I suppose in comparison to a voile or a chiffon it was mediumweight – but I wouldn’t call it a medium weight denim.  Ah well, you live and learn, and I thought I’d make these up as a bit of a practice run / wearable muslin.  Unfortunately with the sizing issues I’m now not sure whether to stick to the size 14 straight, or even go down a size in the hips, with the much nicer, heavyweight denim I did eventually manage to find on tinterwebs.  I did do the whole baste-them-before-you-start thing, but the issues didn’t really make themselves obvious.  Interestingly, looking at that back view, the one place these actually have the right negative ease is round the calves – I don’t usually see my calves from the back and they look enormous and slightly fake almost, like I’ve stuffed some socks down my trousers rather than in my bra…..not that I ever did that obviously. 

It sounds like these were a disaster, reading all my issues up there, but I am still, on balance, pretty happy with these.  I wore them to work the last couple of days, and they were super comfy, and when my colleague (who knew I’d been working on them) asked ‘are they THE jeans?’ they still produced that oh-so-gratifying response – ‘no way, did you make those?’.  I also enjoyed my first attempt at flat-felled seams, and the topstitching and hammering were fun too.  Can’t finish without some inside shots – the pockets are made from some Liberty striped lawn that I’ve had in my stash for years, love the colours and the size of the stripes, but never been able to find quite the right pattern for it. 

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Just look at those lovely stripes, and the beautiful fly, and just ignore the slightly wonky topstitching…….

This definitely isn’t my last pair of Gingers, will be cutting out my originally-planned pair just as soon as I’ve got all this indigo dye out of my nails….!