So this particular spate of dressmaking was entered into with low expectations. If I'd have picked out a label to sew into this top it wouldn't say 'Made by Florence', it would say 'Made by Eeyore'. My last unfortunate make a few months ago never actually made it onto my blog: it involved a pattern which seemingly looks amazing on everyone else in the entire world, some utterly delicious Atelier Brunette fabric and a huge dollop of optimism at the outset, but I was left with something that was just wrong in every single way. As part of an extensive mental post-mortem of the 'wrong' top, I realised that although I often wear blouses in summer, most of the time I really enjoy wearing things made from knit fabrics which just feel incredibly wearable and lovely. I wrote this post all about lovely knit fabrics and the Colette Patterns book about sewing with knits and then went back to some English paper piecing and ignored the lovely knit fabrics because I had had enough of sewing ugly clothing for the time being.
But then when I took my daughter to an art lesson in town last week, I happened to see some delicious drapey striped fabric in my local sewing shop and found myself buying it and telling myself that it was time to try to make some ugly knit clothing, instead of ugly cotton clothing and that maybe it would be less ugly than the ugly thing which had gone before it.
In my dressmaking history, the things that fit me the best are also those that I've drafted the pattern for myself, so I decided that for the preservation of sanity, I should go down that route this time. I made a really similar top to this one a few years ago, but have since lost the pattern pieces I drew up for it, so I set about re-drafting it, basing it again on one of my favourite tops that I bought about six years ago and which is so well-worn that it even has a hole darned up in one place!
So here is my top. I am really, really pleased with it, which doesn't feel like an entirely humble or seemly thing to say, but if you could see the amount of ugly things I've made I think you'd forgive me. I love it not because it's brilliantly made (it isn't) or an amazing design (I really like it, but it's nothing special and it doesn't have a Peter Pan collar, which is what makes things really special!), but because it fits really well (apart from at the neck, which could do with some refining, but which doesn't stop it from being wearable), it's really comfy, it was the first thing I reached for to put on when I went to get dressed this morning and because it has restored my enthusiasm for garment sewing, which I really do enjoy because I love clothes and I love the instant gratification of making them (compared to quilts…which can take me years, because when it comes to quilts I seem to like doing things slowly!).
It's almost worth making ugly clothes for the sense of having reached the top of the mountain when I finally make something wearable. Does everyone go through phases like this, or is it just me?
Ps. I'm considering a second version in this Bari J knit fabric.
Pps. There are some sneaky peeks of my new sewing room in these photos. More to follow. x
You should be proud - this looks fantastic and I'd never have guessed it was handmade - it looks far too tricky and well finished! The front alone...buttons, ever-so-slight v neck, stripes matching on the yoke...how on earth did you manage to draft that yourself?ReplyDelete
Thanks for the reminder on the Collette knit book - I have bought a Myrtle pattern and some Jungle Ave knit and am about to embark on my first ever knit project. To say I'm nervous is much more polite than many of the other Australian colloquialisms we use to explain these situations. I've just been eyeing off the fabric and trying to psyche myself up for it, I think I just need to dive in and learn.
I adore that Bari J knit and hope you'll make something with it (for selfish reasons, so I can see what it's like). That fabric was a contender for my Myrtle too.
And finally, the sewing room - loved the sneak peak - how amazing is the light in there? It's so bright and airy. You must get such a great feeling when you come up those stairs and walk up into that clean, white space, full of all manner of creative adventures waiting patiently (in their own designated spot, that isn't your bed or cupboard or folded up in the corner). So good for photos, all that beautiful light. Yay for studios (can't wait for a virtual tour)!
I love the look of the Myrtle pattern - I'd love to see yours when it's finished. It's in the Colette Patterns book (but I'd forgotten), but someone gave me a great tip about using Wonder Tape to stabilise the hems on Instagram the other day and it worked brilliantly (nb: completely different from Wonder Web).Delete
I actually find it easier to draft a pattern for myself than to toile a pattern that isn't quite right for my body shape into something that fits. Several years ago I immersed myself in learning the fundamentals of pattern drafting (Cal Patch's book is great and I also went on a week's course at the London College of Fashion and read and practised from every book I could find on the subject) and although I rarely start from scratch with that, it's given me all the skills I need to replicate clothes already in my wardrobe and know what I need to do to make something work. It's a liberating thing to learn if you have the time/inclination.
The best clothes are those that fit perfectly. I think it looks wonderful! I'd love to make myself one sometime. This summer i've been making a load of dresses and trying to make my own patterns. Sometimes I get so fed up that I just have to leave the project for a week and then start again. Hopefully we'll see more of your clothes projects soon :) www.prettynostalgia.blogspot.co.ukReplyDelete
Thank you! Yes, sometimes you just need to walk away, don't you. It sounds like you're making good inroads into it though!Delete
You did a fabulous job and it looks fantastic on you ! and it is always great that they feel wonderful on as well.ReplyDelete
That is such a perfect top, I am just about to start knits for the colder season and I am so inspired by your top- exactly the sort of thing I would wear with the placket- it's a great top that you will wear and wear!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Kerry. xDelete
I know EXACTLY what you mean. I have been making ugly clothes and disappointing myself for years. I just couldn't get the fit right and as I am a short, overweight person I can't just wear any old thing, it has to be the right style and fit. I gave up and moved on to quilts, home items and children's clothes (which always turn out beautifully). With this incredibly hot summer we have had my clothes were just too tight and sticky so I thought I would try again with some loose Liberty cotton. I made the Sewaholic Belcarra blouse and it was good, not perfect but cool and wearable.ReplyDelete
Then last week I made a muslin Renfrew top using a solid coloured, knit fabric I bought in a charity shop. I didn't have quite enough for the cowl neck so used a crazy rainbow stripe, cheap, thin knit and it is FAB. Loose but shapely, flattering neck and comfy. I have bought 2 more nice knits and cross fingers I am OFF. I have bought 2 lengths of really nice, medium weight, stable knits and hope that I have found my style.
I'm very short too and I do think it means that we have to be very careful about the proportion of clothing, doesn't it. I'm so pleased you made something finally wearable - that sounds brilliant!Delete
such a lovely top, well done Florence, and well done for persevering. I am fed up with waiting lovely fabric on failed dressmaking attempts!ReplyDelete
I thought from a few things you'd said in the past that you share my tendency to retreat into quilt-making after a spot of dressmaking - it's generally a far less traumatic area of sewing, isn't it!Delete
We all have our share of disasters and disappointments. Patterns that don't fit properly, prints that are impossible to match, slinky fabrics that make a hem just about impossible to get straight! But when things come out well it is just so satisfying. It's all about learning - even the disasters. Perhaps I should say especially the disasters!ReplyDelete
Now the weather's cooling down I've gone back to knitting instead of dressmaking, but it's always inspiring to see other people's makes. Love your stripey top. Could you make and market a pattern for that in alternative sizes?
Hurrah for knitting - I'd love to be able to switch between the two, but I'm dreadful at it!Delete
This top is lovely and I'm all for knit fabrics. I love how you have got the stripes matching on the arms and the cute little bib at the front! I dream of being able to say I make my own clothing, and I've even bought the fabric to make a dress just haven't progressed any further lol. I do make my own handknit socks so maybe that counts?!?ReplyDelete
That totally counts and I'm in awe - I'm not even capable of knitting a wearable scarf.Delete
I made my first knit fabric dress for my daughter a few weeks ago - saw the fabric, it was a bargain, couldn't resist etc... BUT... I hated sewing it. It was a simple pattern but having never sewn knit fabrics before I was unprepared how difficult it was and now much tissue paper I would waste in the process to stop is distorting. Any useful tips so that I might one day face knit fabric again?ReplyDelete
I feel really bad for not including these - I was so pleased with making something wearable that I totally forgot to say what did and didn't work. Yes, I have tips! I'll try and write a post about it in the next week or so. Sorry you had a miserable time making your daughter's dress. xDelete
I love the top! It's perfect! Knits are my favorite as they are so comfortable and so forgiving (figure wise :)ReplyDelete
Lovely top! I often think of sewing a garment, but never want to take the time away from my quilting, knitting, and even reading time. I don't even remember the last time I sewed with a knit fabric, but just like you, that's almost all I wear. Beautiful top!!ReplyDelete
It looks lovely on you!ReplyDelete
P.S. I love the sneak peeks of your new sewing room, I hope you're settling in nicely?
It is heavenly - thank you for asking! xDelete
Well done, it looks great :)ReplyDelete
Your top is lovely! After about 40 years of making my own clothes on and off I still haven't been brave enough to sew knit fabric. I've also had a go at altering commercial patterns considerably (not brave enough to completely self draft) with some success and some failures....spent last winter trying to create a smock pattern but didn't get it quite right and ended up thinking oh why don't I just buy one....There's a Merchant and Mills one I like. I also did manage to alter a blouse pattern a couple of summers ago to make a very nice smocky sort of loose cotton top which just went over the head and fastened with one button (simplezzzz!!) but now like you I've lost the pattern! Anyway, keep going!! You do"make clothes" and indeed it was your lovely clothes that first led me to your website.ReplyDelete
Have you tried making a pattern from something you already own - I find that much easier and if you've got that many years experience of seeing how patterns are put together and dabbling in self-drafting I'm sure you'd be more than capable. And thank you - I'm so pleased you like my clothes. xDelete
What a nice top, Florence. Go on, dish the dirt and tell us which pattern it was that didn't work for you... I made a raglan top in some beautiful red and white striped organic jersey earlier in the summer and the pattern was OK (New Look 6230) but the fabric has a perfume to it that sets off my asthma and refuses to wash out!ReplyDelete
Oh no! Have you tried covering the top in bicarbonate of soda and leaving it for a day or two (dry, not wet). It's amazing at absorbing odours (that's such an awful word, isn't it).Delete
I didn't mention the pattern name as it felt fairly irrelevant as there wasn't anything wrong with it at all, just how it looked on me. It was Sewaholic's Alma blouse and I've seen it look amazing on so many people…just not me.
This looks great. I love the fabric, it looks so "clean" if that's not a weird thing to say! Also loving seeing the photos of your new sewing room. The light looks amazing!ReplyDelete
Not weird, I do know what you mean - I always feel like that about stripes (although ironically my top is currently in the washing basket with chocolate on it!).Delete
I LOVE this!!! That fabric is absolutely great, and the pattern is just perfect. Fantastic job!!!ReplyDelete
This looks so wearable and cute! I can't even tell you how many times I've made something that, upon further reflection, wasn't even close to my style. It's worth it to take the time to sort out what you love to wear BEFORE sitting down at the sewing machine!ReplyDelete