December 2018 | Mismatched Buttons (A Monthly Journal)
Phew! December was a quite a productive month for me! Three makes in a month is pretty high output so I’m quite excited about what I achieved in December. Although I did quite a bit of knitting and embroidery, this is a garment-sewing-focussed post, along with a little tip about a way to remember to do your stretching. Keep those bodies limber, sewists!
As always, you can click on the small photos to see them larger.
Testing, Testing—One, Two, Three | Testing Jocko for Ready to Sew!
I’m a self-confessed die-hard fan of Raphaëlle’s beautiful French pattern label Ready to Sew. I’ve already sewn, and regularly wear, the Jack Trench Coat, and have most of her designs on my ‘dream-list-of-things-to-sew’. On a whim I decided to contact her and see if she wanted another tester and, to my delight, she did! YOUPI! This was my second time pattern testing, and I really loved it. It was far more relaxed and less pressured than my first time testing. I had a month to test the pattern and, being of that mindset, I left it to the last weekend. But, being a quick a straight-forward sew this was no problem.
The pattern, Jocko, is a relaxed fit pullover with two views: a crew-neck with shoulder snaps (which I made) and a turtleneck (which is now on my list to make because, ugh, it’s so lush!). It has a high-low split hem, with snap details at the split, and an extremely relaxed fit. The fabric is a medium-weight Marc Jacobs fabric from The Fabric Store, and I made a size 42, even though I measure for a larger size, and as you can see from the photos I have a lot of room. Ready to Sew is really good at providing finished garment measurements, and based on having that information provided I’m very curious about sewing Jocko up at a smaller size…
Actually, as I sit here reflecting on the pattern, I’m realising how versatile this pattern can be. You can go for its full and original boxiness, with a heavyweight knit, but I also think it could be beautiful in a lighter-weight knit and sized-down a little (I’ve seen a beautiful tucked-in version on fanny_coquelicot’s Instagram profile that I’d like to copy…). I tend to wear mine with the sleeves rolled, so maybe a cropped sleeve would be fun. Also given how much ease there is—and this might be a little risky, so try at your own peril—there could be scope to try it out in a woven or in a light-weight boiled wool. If you’re happy to forego the hem features, it could also be a very cute little cropped pullover. Anyway, you get the picture—it has serious hacking potential!
As I mentioned earlier, it was a really quick and easy sew, and with its split hems and shoulder details it was a chance for me to crack out Charlotte Coverstitch for a run. I think she did a pretty fine job, no? I still feel like I’m on quite a steep learning curve with my coverstitch but I’m really happy with how I did on these tricksy little areas. As a bit of shameless self-promotion, I actually turned to the Q&A I did with Bernina last year to help sort out a couple of issues. Here’s the link to that post if you missed it.
This pattern is a possibly very versatile addition to a pattern collection. I love the details that make it a little different, but I also love that I can see all the other ways I can make it up. The only thing I wasn’t completely sold on was the very wide forearm and wristband—hence wearing the sleeves rolled up. Unrolled, I find the sleeves get in the way of day-to-day stuff (I’ve included a test-shot so you can see what the sleeve looks like as sewn). This is an easy fix, though, so not a major issue at all. Even though it’s summer down here in the Southern Hemisphere, Jocko has had a respectable amount of outings and I’m looking forward to making others. Jocko is available in French, Spanish and English and comes in sizes 32-52.
Red-Lip Confidence | Anna Dress
In December, I gave my very first conference presentation and I turned to my trusty ‘red-lip confidence’ to get me through. Some might see this as a little shallow, but I’ve always drawn a lot of inner-confidence from outfit-planning. I think, though, it’s less about what I’m wearing, as such, and more about envisaging the event as a way to feel calmer.
I’ve recently been using a running app to help train me up for running five kilometres before I turn 36, and 'Erin-my-Asics-Frontrunner-Coach!!!!!’ often talks, in the prerecorded runs, about envisaging the hypothetical 5K race: envisage what you’re going to eat that morning, what you’re going to wear, what it will feel like to be at the start line, who you might be running with, and also envisage crossing the finish line. What I call my red-lip confidence has been my process of visualising situations I find intimidating: openings or artist talks or teaching scenarios or, indeed, conference presentation. I use the consideration of my outfit as a way of envisaging one part that makes up my ‘finish line’ at these events.
And By Hand London have a stonking great heap of dress patterns to help with that red-lip confidence! The Anna Dress has been on my must-make list literally since the beginning of my new passion for sewing. It’s dramatic and beautiful while still being a classic. I also wanted to team it with a very special fabric … enter this splendid printed linen from Blackbird Fabric. This fabric is so gorgeous—light and comfy to wear but with a good amount of structure for this pattern, especially the neckline, which is one of my favourite design features.
I wanted the floral pattern to creep around and over the many panels of the skirt and bodice, so there was a reasonable amount of fussy-cutting to get the effect, but I’m well-pleased with the result.
Being quite a special make, I french-seamed her guts and bias bound the centre back seam, where the zip is (luverly Anna innards). Being a contrarian, I also decided, against popular opinion, to use blush bias binding instead of a more matchy-matchy mustard. (I think it’s my Gretchen Rubin-esq Rebel coming out in me, if you’re in to that sort of thing ;-) )
I cut a slightly strange size—grading from a UK16 through the bust and waist, to something like a UK16.5 in the hips. Yeah. It’s a bit strange—especially given all the panels in the skirt and the bodice, but there you go. However, since having sewn it and worn, I think I should have done a lot differently: I should have gone with a UK14 through the bust and done a FBA; and then graded out to a UK 16 at the waist, and a UK18 at the hips. The neckline gapes a reasonable amount, making me think it’s a cup-size issue at the bust. And although my half-size at the hips is fine, I think that little extra ease particularly around my high-hips would very welcome, say, after dinners. In saying all that, though, I really feel I’m nit-picking. I love this dress and I feel a million bucks when I wear it.
I wore it, teamed with a favourite silk headscarf and red lip, to my conference presentation (which went swimmingly, thank you) and I wore the exact same outfit to my much more intense February PhD confirmation presentation (which I knocked out of the park, if I do say so myself). Who knows what presentation it will be worn to next, but I feel like Anna and I are on a hat-trick.*
*I know I’m mixing my cricketing metaphors but it’s my blog, hehe ;-)
Granny Smith Apple | Scout tee
Made on the dying days of 2018, my Scout Tee has been an absolute wardrobe workhorse of the highest order this summer. I’ve wondered about the hype around Grainline Studio’s seemingly very simple Scout Tee pattern, but now I’m tttoooooottttaaaaallllllyyyyy on board with it. I made a straight size 12, and I think in future versions I may do a little tweaking and grading, but as a first attempt—and as a final project for the year!—I didn’t want to over-think it, I just wanted something comfy and loose for the summer heat.
I want to hack this pattern in a couple of ways in the coming months, and some early thoughts are to put a seam in the centre back to be able to taper that area in a little through my very sway back. I’ll probably grade it through the waist side seams as well. And maybe try it a little more cropped… Aaaah the possibilities!
The fabric is a lovely silk noil from Stonemountain and Daughters and they have a really fabulous selection of silk noil. This one is a natural checkered weave. I’ve been curious about silk noil for a while, and it really is such a pleasurable fabric to both sew and wear. To the hand it feels something like a more fluid cotton or linen, but not a ‘silky’ feel at all, it’s very easy to sew (like a quilting cotton!) and it’s comfortable and cool to wear. As it’s such a simple make, I took the time to french seam Scout’s innards. I was a bit concerned about wearing a lot of this colour with my colouring, so to break it up I used chartreuse linen bias binding from The Fabric Store. I now can’t help but think of this as my Granny Smith Apple Scout—green on the outside, white on the inside.
I feel like, with Jocko and Scout, I’ve found two very hackable home-sewn wardrobe patterns, and it’s super exciting to consider the possibilities they can provide!
If you want to sew, you have to stretch…
… is what I now have to say to myself each and every time I do even a little bit of sewing.
This post is brought to you by my decidedly temperamental, left-side scalene muscles in my neck. I know a lot of people have issues with strains and pains and injuries caused by all sorts of things that life brings. My … I guess you call it an injury? is that my scalene muscles have gone into open revolt after 20 years of working in the arts, where you do all sorts of crazy shit to your body for artworks.
It’s become apparent to me that I cannot spend a day sewing without stretching like my younger-self would have. If I sew without stretching I can end up the following day in quite terrible pain in my neck, all the way down my left arm, down the front and back my left-side rib cage, and through to my diaphragm (scalenes—super interesting muscle group—truly fascinating!—but DON’T make them angry!). But I’ve struggled to come up with a sure-fire way of remembering to stretch regularly, without the bother of constantly resetting an alarm. And then it came to me: for writing I use a Pomodoro technique app, which you set at the beginning of the day for (in my case) 30-minute-long focus sessions and 5-minute-long breaks, and then just leave it ticking along in the background. Every 30 and 5 minutes, a bell rings to remind me to either start work or take a break.
And this app has been an absolutely breakthrough solution to helping me remember to stretch! I do my sewing until the bell sounds, and then I know I have 5 minutes to do my stretches. I don’t have to stop an alarm from ringing or reset it or anything—it just requires a little discipline from me to make sure that I take that break and do a quick stretch. So, if you know you need to stretch more regularly, have a look at Pomodoro apps. I use Focus Keeper, but I know there are lots of options.
Happy stretching, folks!
AAANNNDDD here’s some gratuitous photos of the every-delightful ginger overlord of BBB headquarters, because she is the most beautiful photobomber in the world.