Shirtdress Plans!

I’ve been saying for ages that I want to make another Alder shirt dress. The first one I made was meant to be a toile… but I never got round to making the denim one I had planned and have ended up wearing this one loads.

Alder Shirtdress front - Jem Weston blogI initially thought it was way too big, but after a few wears I started to enjoy the loose fit and as I’ve washed and worn it the fabric has softened and now has a nicer drape.

I wanted to make the next one with sleeves because two of the most worn items in my wardrobe are long-sleeved shirt dresses – one plaid and one denim. They’re basically secret pyjamas and I wear them with leggings while working at home.

Knowing that I like the fit of the Alder shirt dress – I thought I would use that as my starting point… and went down a Pinterest rabbithole! The first version I found with sleeves was this one by Bolt & Spool.

They used this Grainline Studio tutorial of an Alder and Acher shirt mash-up. I initially thought “great – just what I was looking for… Alder with sleeves added. Simple!”. Then I read the tutorial and have been procrastinating ever since because it sounded too complicated! Bearing in mind that I’ve only ever done a collar once… and despite being heavily supervised by Deidre at All Things Creative I still managed to get part of it upside down.

So then I started looking into whether it would be simpler to just make the Archer shirt and add length to make it a dress. And of course it would be simpler! I love this version by Vivat Viritas

But – the Archer shirt has quite a straight/boxy shape and I know that I would have to play with blending different sizes (as I’m generally two sizes larger on my bottom half) and that might effect the shape and overall look.

So I’ve settled on this version… the Archer + Alder mash up V2!

Using the Alder pattern for the bottom section should give me plenty of room around the hips and there aren’t any massively complicated tweaks to make so fingers crossed I’ll manage it without supervision!

I know that it’s going to take me ages. I don’t get much sewing time and I don’t want to rush it… but it would be really lovely if I manage to get it done before the end of the year so I can tick it off my make-nine-2020 list!

Make Nine 2020 – update

I thought it was about time for me to give you an update on my make-nine-2020! Being more than half way through the year – I should in theory be more than half way through my planned makes… but unsurprisingly I’m a bit behind.

I mentioned last week that I’ve been suffering from a loss of knitting mojo. After finishing off my Esme Cardigan and Merry Jumper Dress earlier in the year – my garment knitting took a sharp nose-dive in terms of productivity.

My knitting mojo is definitely back! I’m really keen to finish my second Burnt top and my subtly festive beaded jumper… but I’ve almost completed some exciting new designs so I’m trying to stay focused on those and not get distracted… I can’t wait to share them with you!

I was actually pleasantly surprised by how my make-nine is looking and (perhaps I’m being unrealistic – but) I think it might still be doable this year.

I’ve started having a sewing evening every Wednesday and sometimes on a Sunday too, so I’m hopeful that I will finish my sewing aims for the year. Of the five remaining knit projects, two are almost half done and two are quick projects.

The only problem is… I’m not feeling in the mood to knit a fair-isle jumper right now. Maybe that will change when autumn kicks in. Even with the more vague plans I had for this year it’s still not vague enough! I’ve seen a cardigan in the new Rowan AW collection (coming soon!) that I’m excited to knit so I might do that instead and roll-over the fair-isle to make-nine-2021.

How’s your knitting/sewing mojo doing? Did you make plans or are you just going with the flow?

 

Facemasks

Last week in the UK we were advised to wear a face covering when in enclosed places like shops. I’d already been thinking about making one – but this announcement spurred me on to make a big batch of masks for myself, family, friends and neighbours.

I’m really happy with the finished masks – so I thought I’d share the resources I used. Please feel free to share what’s worked for you in the comments!

I started by making one of the simple pleated masks from The Big Community Sew, but it turned out really bulky at the sides and wasn’t a good fit. I think that style would work better with a dress weight fabric and I was using quilting cotton.

Also – as I couldn’t see everyone in person to fit their masks, I wanted the ties/elastic to be in a channel rather than fixed to give the wearer more flexibility. Fixed elastic/ties would probably have helped to avoid some of the bulk on that particular style.

My final masks were made from Juliet Uzor’s tutorial and everyone seems happy with the fit!

The fabric Juliet used looks the same on both sides so if you find that confusing have a look at the video below. It’s pretty much made in the same way but the right/wrong side of fabric is a bit clearer.

I only had a small amount of elastic so I used that on mine and then used gros-grain ribbon on the others in the same was Juliet did. The ribbon ties are pretty good if you’re making masks for people you don’t live with as they make the fit more flexible.

I made mine slightly differently because I was using the machine. I cut out my circles using pinking sheers to avoid fraying and allowed a little extra for seam allowance. I also top stitched along the top and bottom edges which makes them a bit stronger and helps with keeping the shape/structure after washing.

I wore mine to do the shopping on Monday and was worried it might make breathing difficult- but it was fine!

An elderly gentleman dropped some shopping – I was within two metres of him to pick things up and was really glad that we were both wearing masks. Of course the masks don’t completely protect us – but I felt like it reduced the risk for both of us in that situation and perhaps he felt more comfortable asking me for help because I was wearing mine.

Does anyone have thoughts on gloves? Have you been wearing gloves to do the shopping? If so – what kind? I’m thinking about making some cotton gloves that I can wash with my mask, but I don’t know how effective they would be… and I might start to look like a walking patchwork quilt (which would be totally fine)!

Stay safe and well x

Peony Dress

The Peony dress has been on my to-make list forever. I finally made it… although the finished dress doesn’t really resemble the Peony!

The most major change I made was to the skirt section. After following the pattern… with a bit of grading out to allow extra hip space – I just wasn’t happy with the fit. It looked nice on the hanger but didn’t sit right on my bum! After removing and reinserting the zip three times I decided that I hadn’t done anything wrong… the shape just didn’t suit me – it was too straight.

Luckily I’d bought more fabric than I needed so I whipped up a gathered skirt which is much more my style. It also gave me the opportunity to fix the hugely wonky waistline!

I spent a long time preparing to make this dress and made three toiles of the bodice before I was happy to move over to using wearable fabric. I used US size 2 for the top part and graded out from the underarm to US size 6  at the waist… then made numerous tweaks to the darts.

Using the smaller bust size created issues with fit above the chest because I have broad shoulders. When I added the sleeves it was too tight and pulling across the shoulders, so I took the sleeves out and put them back in with less seam allowance. This helped the fit but the sleeves are now a bit messy and slightly gathered at the top.

I might have achieved a better fit if I’d chosen the bodice size based on the correct size for my waist and then done a small bust adjustment. I think this would maybe allow for the wide shoulders/small bust… but I have no idea how to do a small bust adjustment. If you know of any good tutorials please let me know!

I wanted this dress to be slightly fitted and have some shape to it – whilst also being loose enough to be comfy for working at home/mooching around in. It’s not perfectly made… but it fulfills the brief! And it replaces an old denim chambray dress which is too tight and far too short.

It also ticks ‘denim dress’ off the Make-Nine-2020 list!

 

Make Nine 2020

After a slight fail on my Make Nine 2019 plan… I decided to be a bit more vague with my 2020 plan!

Jem Weston - Make Nine 2020

I do have some definite plans for the above – but I wanted to have some flexibility on the exact projects so that I can change my mind throughout the year.

The colours above aren’t necessarily representative of what I’m planning to knit/sew with, but I am trying not to make everything in teal (which is challenging!).

I started the new year with a jumper dress in Kid Classic on the needles – I can’t wait to finish it! Hopefully it’ll still be cold. After that – I really want to finish my Esme Cardigan which was on my make nine plan for the last two years… so I thought it would be unreasonable to carry it over again!

Have you got a making plan for the year?

Change of Plans

This weekend I was intending to write a blog about my Ripple Bralette and the three new me-made summer tops I wore on holiday. However… it was too warm to wear my new Burnt top and I didn’t finish my Ripple Bralette because I was far too busy doing this…

I did however wear my new teal vest top and I love it!

I’m planning to make the straps slightly shorter for the next one, but other than that I’m really happy with the fit.

Hopefully the bralette will be ready for next weekends blog… but Noodle and his wonky ear are demanding quite a lot of attention at the moment.

He was bitten by another cat and it’s infected so he’s a bit fed up of being stuck inside wearing the cone of shame. We’re so grateful that our wonderful friend Steph got him to the vets and took such care of him while we were away! I don’t know what we’d do without her.

Hopefully Noodle will let me do some knitting today!

New Vest Top

Last month I wrote a blog about summer tops where I somewhat optimistically outlined my plans to knit two tops and sew three tops before Autumn started creeping in!

I knew my plans were unrealistic, but I’m really pleased with how much I’ve done. I finished one of the knitted tops (Burnt by Kim Hargreaves), have a Ripple Bralette on the needles and I’ve sewn one of the three vest tops.

I traced the pattern from a vest that’s already in my wardrobe and I love the fit. This fabric is leftover from my Petal Sleeve Scout Tee and I knew the drape would work beautifully as a vest.

Although it’s super simple with no darts – it was quite time consuming doing the bias for the straps/around the armholes… lots of pinning. And I also hand-stitched the hem.

I’m going to hibernate the fabric for the other two vests until next Spring. I think it’ll be good to wear this one and check I’ve got the fit perfect before doing the others.

It’s nothing to do with the fact that I want to start working on my Winter wardrobe… honest!

 

Summer Tops

It’s August… and that means that Rowan have launched their lovely new Autumn/Winter collections! Although I’m looking forward to Autumn (always) I’m not going to share my top picks with you yet because I’m feeling much too summery.

I’ve become very aware this summer that I don’t have many clothes to wear when it’s really hot. I have very few strappy dresses or tops and those I do have are either too warm (ie- not breathable fabric) or rather worn and tired.

So I’m on a mission to make as many summer tops as I can before the weather turns cooler and I get distracted by wool and cosy cardigans.

I have a vest top which is a good size and shape for me – so I’ve traced the pattern and I’m planning to make three new versions. One in some leftover teal fabric from my petal sleeved Scout Tee, one using fabric from an old dress that shrunk and doesn’t fit and a third in some rather beautiful Liberty Lawn.

Of course – if I make the first and don’t like it I’ll go back to the drawing board and use a proper pattern!

I also kept seeing gorgeous versions of the Ripple Bralette by Jessie Mae pop up on Instagram and I’ve fallen in love with it!

Above: @a.beagan.handmade @yarn_bard @aleichiaknits

I’m trying to whizz through knitting my Kim Hargreaves Burnt top so that I can cast on a Ripple Bralette and hopefully get that done before the end of summer too!

Which knitting season are you in?!

 

Make Nine 2019 – Progress Report

Someone posted about their Make Nine 2019 on Instagram this week and I realised that I couldn’t even remember what was on mine! So it’s a good time to see if I’m on track and give a progress report!

So far this year I have ticked off my new mitts and my wedding cardigan

And yes… there was some cheating because I started making both of those things in 2018! But I’ve been super busy working on my new book which will launch later this year – so selfish making time has been extremely scarce.

I’ve made pretty good progress with my Esme cardigan too – I’ve finished the back and fronts – so it’s just the sleeves to do. It’s so fluffy!!

I should be cracking on with this now… but you know when you’re not in the mood to knit anything that you have on the needles and just want the excitement of casting on something new? Well that happened… so I cast on Burnt by Kim Hargreaves.

It’s not even on my Make Nine list. I’ve gone completely rogue! We’ve booked a holiday for later this year and I just fancied making something summery that I could realistically finish before we go away. I’m having to adjust the pattern a bit for my shape so hopefully it will work out!

I’ve also made a little bit of progress on the Peony Dress. I made a toile for the bodice (blending sizes) but I still need some help getting the fit right. Some of my friends have been going to classes and sewing clinics at Sewing Belle and I’ve been inspired by the lovely things they’re making. I’m hoping to join them soon and rediscover my sewjo!

How are your 2019 makes going?