Monthly Archives: April 2013

WAK #3: Wellwood

How do you all feel about Wellwood? It’s a pattern by Michele Wang, and looks as though it was released as part of the Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2012 collection, although you can buy it separately online.

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For me, this pattern is all about those gorgeous sculptural lines that travel down from the shoulder to form the edge of the long, wide placket, lifting the jumper into something that bit different. I also think that unusually long placket is an elegant touch, helping to balance out the proportions of an outfit as a whole.

This photo from kokopaivaneuloja’s project on Ravelry, show the stitch pattern of the placket beautifully:

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Other project photos do indicate a bit of show-through on the lacy section, meaning that you would need to make sure you had a decent number of co-ordinating tops to go underneath. It’d work well under a jacket though, with that central interest.

Yarn-wise, it’s knitted in a 4ply – light enough to look smart, although it would take a while to knit. My personal opinion is that it looks best in muted or neutral colours, allowing the texture and design lines to shine through.

What do you think?

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The Great British Sewing Confession

I was in a thoroughly bad mood at the time of the airing of the first episode of The Great British Sewing Bee. I wrote a post with exactly the same title as this one grumbling about the whole show.

“Best amateur sewers? Best demographically-rounded, easily available, photogenic sewers, more like . Light fabric? Don’t just tell me it was ‘light’, tell me what it was. Call that a technical drawing, BBC? And you’ve run a fitting challenge without mentioning a single fitting alteration?” Etc.

I don’t take back any of those comments, having now avidly watched all four episodes. But as time’s gone on, the things that annoyed me have annoyed me less.

Partly it’s an audience thing. Even though I knew that a sewing show pitched for the masses was never going to get that technical, I had too high expectations at the start. Once my sights had been comfortably lowered I enjoyed it more – and of course as they lost contestants throughout the series, they could spend more time focusing in on the garments and techniques of each one.

(I also enjoyed it more once a particular contestant had left. No, don’t be silly, I’m not going to name which one over the internet. One of the nice things about the show was the complete and utter lack of bitchiness, even if the judges and presenter did ham it up a little at times.)

What isn’t dependent on viewer experience is inspiration – I have got so much inspiration from watching what different people did with the different challenges set, particularly the alterations ones which allowed the contestants’ creativity to shine through. Michelle’s paneled square neckline, Sandra’s folded patch pockets and Ann’s use of trim are just three examples of garments that have got me thinking about the fun details that tend to be lacking from my own sewing.

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If people with less experience than me are inspired to get out their sewing machines again from the dusty corner, or even look into learning how to sew – that will be fantastic. If dressmaking becomes less of a dying art, creative businesses thrive, and fabric shops stay open then the BBC will have done a bloody good job.

My three favourites from the start were the three who made it into the final (two Brummies and a yam-yam, although not necessarily all by birth!). The right person won. Her prowess was just awe-inspiring. The garments that she created were without exception, stunning.

So that is my Great British Sewing Confession – I enjoyed the series after all. And I’ll definitely be watching when they run it again next year!

WAK #2: Lacy Bibbed Tee

I love the look of tops/dresses with bibbed inserts. They can make an otherwise plain garment look interesting, fun, sexy, quirky… etc. etc., the particular adjective that you choose depending on the nature of the rest of the garment and of course the nature of the bib.

The key thing with bib inserts for a smart context, IMO, is to avoid them looking too ‘cutesy’. You are a smart, professional woman – you are neither Lucy Locket going to the fair, nor are you going to be eating alphabet spaghetti for dinner*.

So during a quiet moment a few weeks ago, I put a search into Ravelry for bibbed tops. This came up with surprisingly little, but by altering my search terms and trawling for a bit, I came up with the Hotness Top, a free pattern by Lorna Miser:

I love the way that the cap sleeves and lace insert just ‘lift’ what is otherwise a relatively basic t-shirt. The insert would also be great for providing some interest under a suit jacket too. It’s also sophisticated enough to avoid any alphabetti connotations, especially in the black.

This is one to watch the yarn choice on. You’ll probably want a solid to let the lace come out, and the fact that it’s an aran weight knit means that a smooth hand to the knitted fabric is important. Personally I’d’ve also said that you don’t want anything too drapy or it’ll ruin the fitted look – although when I am rich and famous and able to afford such things**, I so knitting this in a silk yarn (and maybe going down a size to maintain the fit, if that would work?). Luxury exemplified.

What do you think?

*Well you might be, but the point is that you don’t want your colleagues assuming so based on your outfit.

**i.e. this side of never

A Work Skirt For K

Last night a friend of mine, K, came over to raid my pattern collection. She’s started in the workplace again after a long period of being self-employed, and while her wardrobe is not exactly empty*, it suffers from the same affliction as mine in that a too-high proportion of the clothes are not really smart enough for her current needs.

K’s biggest current need is another work skirt. So we rifled through my paper patterns and picked out a handful of contenders, before moving on to the tech drawing scans of the 31 Burda magazines that I own**.

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It’s a really interesting exercise looking at patterns for somebody else. While K is also tall*** and curvy, we are really quite different shapes and also have slightly different tastes. We kept saying, “that wouldn’t work for me… but is so you!”

The two patterns that we eventually whittled the shortlist down to are BWOF 02-2009-107 and BWOF 03-2009-105 . Fascinating, because they’re totally not the ones that I’d’ve picked out.

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Now K gets to be introduced to the joy of Burda pattern sheets. Fortunately for her, they’re both the old-style ones…

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*Understatement of the century 😉

**It might be 32, because I have a sneaky feeling that there’s one issue buried in a bag with a languishing UFO somewhere.

***Well, 5’9″. But I think that does fall into my acceptable range for women considering themselves tall. 5’8″ is up for debate. 5’7″ categorically does not, I’m sorry.

Patterns in the Post

Money’s been pretty tight this month due to a car repair bill at the start, but I did allow myself to buy three patterns in the recent 3-for-the-price-of-1 sale from SewDirect.com. That’s what justifies my membership, damnit! And it is a pretty good deal when all’s said and done.

Two of them arrived today: Vogue 8825 and Vogue 8747, which I’ve had my eye on ever since it came out.

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Vogue 8873 is due to arrive as soon as they have it in stock – this was a bit of an on-a-whim purchase, but I do love the line of the curved waist seam and the layering effect of a drapy cowl over a fitted underbodice. Plus back darts for fitting and skirt options!

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What more could a girl ask for?

BurdaStyle May 2013 – Preview

How can it be this time of year already? This is the third day of something approximating Spring-like weather in the UK, and yet Burda’s preview is all about the summer wear*. How bizarre.

Anyway, onto the magazine. When a preview comes out, I hop straight over to the French Burda site, as it still has useful things like archives and technical drawings and what have you, unlike its English-speaking counterpart.

And really Burda? Once again I am thoroughly overwhelemed by your mediocrity. There are a couple of nice dresses in there but nothing really that we haven’t seen before…

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…a nice but relatively unremarkable graded vintage pattern…

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…and then just a whole load of gumph. Does the fact that you’ve used a scalloped lacy fabric really justify the fact that this pattern is essentially a load of rectangles stuck together? Oh, sorry, you’ve used two different fabrics. Well that makes all the difference.

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The one pattern that I do actively like in May’s issue is 128 – a cardigan/ jacket designed for drapy, lightweight wovens. On the subject of workwear, this could work really nicely for a smart summer wardrobe in the right fabric – I like their navy crepe version. I’d be interested to see a back view – do those pockets end at the side seams?

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Is that one pattern enough for buying the magazine? The jury’s out. Unless of course I’ve missed anything?

*This may say more about our weather than Burda’s publishing schedules.

WAK #1: Two Cardigans

The first actual pattern post in the Work-Appropriate Knitwear series, or “WAK” as it shall henceforth be known around here.

Consider Amelia, a pattern by Laura Chau which appeared in Knitty in 2008…

…and Oolong, it’s fingering-weight sister.

The design isn’t one which breaks fashion-boundaries, but that’s what makes it great – it’s conventional enough to be eminently wearable but it still has the textural interest and well thought out details to make it attractive to knit and wear.

The wide hem band in garter stitch, the twisted rib columns flowing up into the defined raglan ‘seams’ (it’s not actually seamed but picked up, as far as I can see) and the not-too-low scoop neck are all details which draw me to it.

Both backs have a wide panel of twisted rib covering the length of the cardigan – the aran version has a horizontal band of twisted rib running around at the waist which would be easy to add in to Oolong (or take out of Amelia) if so inclined. Personally I prefer having buttons all of the way down a cardigan, but again, that’s easy to adapt to taste.

So it comes to the poll, which I intend to put at the end of all of these posts:

All photos in this post are from Ravelry.