And just like that, summer is over.

Okay, now, I understand that anybody living in a less¬†temperate climate will laugh at me. We’ve hit 26C today, after all, and in most places I’ve lived before that’s considered a scorcher.

There is, however, no denying the fact that I’ve felt the need for an outer layer in the morning for the last couple of weeks. Which revealed a gaping hole in my wardrobe. One that has been lamented many times before, I’ll admit – the elusive transitional jacket.

Rigel bomber
Rigel bomber. If you look closely, you can see the wonky front, but I can live with it.

I still want to make that Alabama Chanin coat I spoke about many moons ago, and I’ve even bought the second book which has a coat pattern. There’s just that little issue with all that hand sewing … while the theory appeals to me, the actual activity not so much.

Which I was painfully reminded of last night, when I sat hunched over my sewing table, slip stitching the jacket lining in place. I tried very hard to get a good photo of my finger (yeah, I *probably* have a thimble somewhere …) after I was done but failed. Let’s suffice to say … raw.

Rigel bomber lining
Yes, I totally hand stitched the lining to the hem band. And to the sleeve bands. I may have to invest in a thimble if I ever plan to do this again.*

I’ve had this pattern for ages. I meant to make it earlier in the year for spring. At that time, however, my sewing mojo was vacationing in the Caribbean (or some such) and not much was happening on my sewing table. And as it goes down here, spring lasted 3 days and then suddenly the need for a jacket vanished.

It’s a cute little pattern, and I won’t lament the lack of lining pattern pieces or instructions. Like many other sewers, I am a bit disappointed by that, but there are a ton of tuts out there to help you out if you want a lining – and I clearly did.

I spent no more than half a Sunday making the jacket, and as an added bonus, all my fabrics and notions came from my stash. Admittedly, I’d bought the zipper and ribbing specifically for making the Rigel bomber, but that was aaaaages ago and hence doesn’t count. Or does it?

Both the shell and lining were gifts from my friend Steph, who has immaculate taste. The shell has a gorgeous eggplant colour, and feels like mostly wool. It’s a rather loose weave, and hence ravelled like a motherf***er. Which nearly drove me bonkers, but since I could just hide the mess in the lining, I’m over it.

Rigel welt pockets
Rigel welt pockets

The pockets turned our quite neat, if I say so myself, in no small way aided by using some of the more expensive fusible interfacing I bought ages ago (and have since forgotten where I ordered it … meh. I need a sewing diary).

The photo above also nicely shows the texture of the fabric.

Overall, the fit is great, although I probably could have gone a size up as I could use a tad more room in the shoulders and the sleeves are ever so slightly on the short side (take that with a grain of salt, as I like my sleeves long). The pattern went together well, and between the instructions and help from the interwebs on how to add the lining, this was a rather relaxing and satisfying project.

*That has now been remedied. I bought a new one.

Today’s the day

I am not going to bore you with a lengthy list of reasons why I didn’t blog for so long. Let’s just say it didn’t happen and move on, shall we?

Obviously, I didn’t stop making things … maybe not at a high frequency, but there were quite a few good ones in there. The Alabama Chanin skirt was finished, and turned out rather lovely – since I’m still planning (ya, I know, fall and spring are kinda over, but I’m sure they’ll come back!) to go ahead with the coat, I’ll save that for a separate post.

Some Linden tops were made – much love, in particular to my black merino version – no photo, sorry. My crappy camera packed it in and is now in the lands of everlasting perfect exposure.

A proper highlight was another Archer from gray chambray – fully flat felled and all. There shall be photos in the future (see above).

Onward and upwards – for now, with less-than-perfect iPhone shots. Go me – revive the blog with blurry fuzz. That’s how the pros do it ūüėÄ

In the recent past there was an effort to level up my summer wardrobe – down here, spring lasts about two ticks, and we’re getting to the tail end of it (the weather started properly improving a couple of days ago). The Hannah top by Salme patterns had caught my eye – I’m rather partial to the exposed shoulder design.

But alas, my first muslin was a catastrophe. The neck too tight. The shoulders too small. The back limiting. And let’s not talk about the stretch lines over my bust … honestly, I wasn’t even sure it’s worth fiddling with the fit. But I’m off this week, and I kinda like a mild mental challenge with my 2nd cuppa in the morning, so fiddle I did.

Hannah changes front
Hannah changes front

Changes to the front:

  • Shorten upper bodice by 1 inch
  • Add 1/2 inch to the neckline
  • Add 1/2 inch to the shoulder seam
  • Add 1 inch tapering to nothing at the hem to the body
  • move bust dart point to accommodate added width
  • move bust dart up 1 inch
Hannah changes back
Hannah changes back

Changes to the back:

  • same neck and shoulder additions as to the front
  • same body adjustments
  • redraw armscye
  • lowered back neck by 1/2 inch

Now, if this looks like I a) knew what I was doing or b) had a good plan – that’s a no to both. I kinda randomly added space where I thought it was needed, and changed a few lines to keep the general design vibe.

Good news Рmy totally slap-dash approach worked (mostly) and I got a very wearable top out of it, which I have plans to make a few more times Рnext one in a black broderie anglaise, fully lined with some light silk I have.

I was going to leave you without a photo, but what the heck – if you’re actually still here, you deserve all my crappy-and-no-make-up iPhone shots! Enjoy.

Hannah muslin
Hannah – finally wearable muslin no. 3.

This sadly highlighted the absence of a good racerback bra in my drawer, tho – oh, didn’t I mention I also made two bras? They’re both not perfect, but the fit was good enough (read: better than any RTW I currently own) that I intend to persist on that path …

Now this post feels like meeting¬†a long absent friend again, when you just want to talk about the most recent things in your life but find yourself blabbering on about the 500 other things that led to the current situation ūüėÄ

Because what I really wanted to tell you about were the jeans you can see in the photo above, and which I don’t plan to wear with this top (but with a black one – oh la la). Ginger jeans. The internets are right, ’tis an awesome pattern. Which I’ll tell you all about in a future post – if you can’t wait (and I wouldn’t blame you, heaven only knows when that will be), there are links to instagram in the side bar.

A new obsession is born

My life has changed a lot over the last 18 months. Apart from moving from the delightful but rainy and rather chilly UK to the south of Spain, my work situation has improved quite a bit, too.

I have a nicer job, in a nicer company, with a nicer title and¬†a somewhat improved salary to go with it. Spain, on top of that, is much cheaper when it comes to the cost of living. Which means that now I am in a position that I can occasionally shop for things I like (which tends to be a bit on the higher end of range), like some nice shoes for fall. To be honest, right now it’s rather incomprehensible that I’ll ever want to wear closed shoes again, or any shoes if I can avoid it. We’ve been graced with a 3 week heat wave where temperatures won’t even fall much below 25C over night, and I’m not complaining. But we all know this will come to an end eventually, and I like to be prepared.

So I got myself a pair of really nice shoes:

Chie Mihara Zamusin
Chie Mihara Zamusin

Now, obviously¬†shoes alone won’t make a good fall/winter outfit. So I went searching for a coat. And I found one.

Alabam Chanin, Ezra coat
Alabam Chanin, Ezra coat

The only problem with this coat is that, improved situation or not, just short of 5k is not a price tag I can afford. What’s a girl to do?!

Clearly make one herself.

Now, before you walk away, shaking your heads in disbelief (and I wouldn’t blame you, I feel this is a bit of a crazy undertaking), hear me out. Winter is coming. This coat is not a winter coat. But it will be perfect for spring – which is still a rather ambitious timeline, but hey? Evenings spent in front of my fireplace, lovingly hand stitching all those cut-out appliques? I’m game.

So I started on a test panel. I mean, not even I am crazy enough to start on a coat as a first project in a totally unknown-to-me technique.

Alabam Chaning - easy ring design
Alabam Chaning – easy ring design

I decided that the middle panel of Colette’s Mabel (of which I made two recently, which I will show you in due course, I promise) was a perfect size for a test piece. And because I’m me and couldn’t really be arsed with cutting a stencil for something I might hate, I just drew some circles on the fabric and called it a design.

Then I started stitching. The jersey came from my stash, obviously.

After a couple of hours I had this:

Alabama Chanin  - not quite there yet
Alabama Chanin – not quite there yet

I’ve added a few more of the smaller circles in the meantime, but I’m not quite done yet. As it turns out, threading needles with strong thread in less-than-optimal light is a deal breaker.

So I ordered some self threading needles, which arrived today, and I’m thrilled to finish this (hopefully) this weekend.

And despite the fact that I still feel I’m mad to even try this, I’m really¬†stoked by the idea of the finished¬†skirt, and even more so by the possibility of a coat I’ll love. I mean, c’mon – isn’t it just beautiful?

Belcarra

Today I did another wardrobe clean out. I’ve done a few of these over the last couple of weeks – a lot of my clothes don’t fit me any longer because I’ve lost quite a bit of weight, and some others I’m just over.

All those geeky t-shirts? Still there, but probably they will be worn around the house more and less in public going forward. Although I stand by what I said to a friend recently – I doubt I’ll ever dress “age appropriately”. So all bets are off concerning these t-shirts …

Anyways, point in question РI need some easy basics to fill those gaps. To address this need, I decided to give my first Sewaholic pattern a try: the Belcarra blouse.

Because my relationship with woven tops is a little tense at the best of times, I went for a muslin and used  the last bit of my toile de jolie for it, leftover from this Archer.

It went mostly okay … but after I’d hacked off a good 2 inches from the length, the flare was more a peplum.

Belcarra toile back
Belcarra toile back

And there’s neckline gaping. Which, after carefully inspecting the shop photos for this, I suspect¬†may be¬†a pattern issue as much as one of my lacking skills.

Belcarra toile front
Belcarra toile front

So I shortened the pattern pieces along the proper lines, trued up the side seams and proceeded to make one more out of a lovely remnant I bought during  a recent visit to Brighton, in the totally adorable shop Ditto. If you ever are around there you should totally go Рjust not on one of the first sunny Saturdays while the Fringe Festival is on. It was madness.

Anyways, the second one came out better, although there’s still some gaping in the neck line and I might have made it a tad too short now – you can see the¬†no longer huge but still present testament to my genetically inherited love for beer peek out here.

Belcarra fo' realz
Belcarra fo’ realz

The matter isn’t helped by the jeans I’ve shrunk out of to the point where the belt just barely keeps them on my hips …

I made my own bias, following some handy tutorials about how to do just that by using the ironing board and a sewing pin, like this one from Coletterie. Which was surprisingly easy and even, dare I say it, a little bit fun ūüėÄ

The pattern itself is alright, I’m still on the fence as to whether I’ll make more of these, but maybe I just need to wear them a few more times. I suspect that a life time of wearing mostly stretch tops may mean¬†it’ll take a while for me to get used to wovens.