"" The girl who makes things: August 2015

Thursday, 27 August 2015

An Archer Shirt + some exciting news

Afternoon all! I hope you're well and not getting too dismayed by this soggy excuse for an English summer. Yorkshire is looking pretty sunny today - let's see how long it lasts. I've got a little piece of exciting news PLUS a new make to share with you.

First things first, the news: I'm joining the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network!

So what does this mean for my diddy blog? Well, Minerva Crafts will send me a 'kit' each month consisting of a pattern, fabric and notions which I'll use to make an item of clothing. I'll then review the products and post pictures of my finished items, just like I usually do. All opinions will of course be me own.

I'm very excited about joining the network as I first got into sewing blogs through finding other bloggers on Minerva's website. I've also bought products from them and attended the open day last year, which was an absolute blast. My first Minerva make will go live in October so keep your eyes peeled!

Now, for the my latest make: yes, it's an Archer Shirt.

I think I've already eulogised enough about my love for shirt making, but hey-ho, I'll say it again - I love shirt making! The Archer has been sitting in my PDF pattern queue since March this year so I felt like it was high time I used it this summer.

The first thing I'll say about this pattern is, heck, there's a lot of pattern pieces for one shirt. I cannot fault Jenny from Grainline Studios on her impeccable drafting, but piecing together the PDF took such a loooong time. And that's before I started cutting out the fabric. Despite all the faff, though, I can see how this pattern works well for the perfectionist seamstress - the two front pattern pieces are ideal for pattern matching checks.

Once I'd got passed the prep stage, sewing the shirt was actually fairly straightforward. The instructions were clear and the sew along added extra detail to the trickier stages (for me, the sleeve plackets).

The fabric came from B&M Fabrics in Leeds Market. The feather print sang out to me from the racks (I have a thing for feathers) so I knew I had to buy some, although I didn't have the Archer in mind at the time. The weight of the fabric and pattern went well together, although now I look at it, I slightly regret not using the fabric to make an Alder shirtdress instead. I wonder if the Archer is better as a plain or checked shirt? I guess time will tell whether I wear it much.

So that's my latest and last make before I head back to Portugal for another academic year. Time has gone like the speed of light this summer. I'm going to miss the UK, my friends and family but not the weather! The weather can stick it. Adeus os meus amigos! See you on the other side.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Some unselfish sewing

Hey folks, how's it going? I'm grand, I'm back in the UK (in Yorkshire to be precise) and enjoying some respite from the hot Portuguese weather. Ha, I'm joking. Seriously, what has happened to the UK summer? Ah well, I'm here until the end of August so lets hope that the sun comes back soon!

It's been a busy few weeks for me since I got back. I had a lot of catching up to do with family and friends, as well as getting back into teaching after a couple of weeks break. Not much time for blogging which is why there's been a little bit of radio silence in these parts. My apologies.

I have had enough time for sewing though. One of the bonuses of coming back to the UK is being reunited with my old sewing machine and overlocker, which my parents have been habouring at their house. As soon as I arrived, I was keen to get stuck into a new project, which luckily didn't take much time.

My Mum is a vicar. When she's not wearing a cassock on Sundays she's usually wearing a clerical shirt out and about. For ages she's lamented about the state of women's clerical shirts. Her main complaints are that they a) fit badly and b) are made from scratchy, sweaty fabric. Essentially they are men's shirts made in a slightly smaller size. So when I started dusting off my old sewing machine, threading up my overlocker and thinking aloud about what to sew, she asked me whether I could make her a shirt. And I said yes.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I absolutely love making shirts. I love the technicality of them. Have you ever made a perfectly pointed collar? Or matched up the collar stand and button placket precisely? Best. Thing. Ever.

We started searching for clerical shirt patterns in the Simplicity catalogue but didn't find anything, not even in the costume part, so in the end we found a shirt pattern which my Mum liked. Her main criteria was some kind of fitting feature such as princess seams to add some shape to the shirt. We bought Simplicity 2447 and I adapted the collar stand so that it could accommodate a dog collar.

The fabric came from the Remnant House, an end of line fabric shop in Harrogate. My Mum was instantly drawn to the tye-dye cottons (she's not a grey vicar type) and chose this bluey turquoise combo. It's a super soft cotton, very stable and easy to work with. Plus the dye didn't fade in the wash.

I made the shirt in about half a day. It came together very easily and I didn't make any fit adjustments. I overlocked all the inside seams and finished the hem with some bias binding. There's only one change we'd make to the pattern if we used it again: eliminate the back pleat which makes the shirt a little too baggy.

Overall, my Mum's really pleased with her new shirt and wants me to make another. I'm pretty pleased with it too. It's nice to make something for someone else every now and then, although I am a predominantly selfish sewer. So how about you, have you done some unselfish sewing recently?