Thursday, 20 March 2014

One sheet does Plenty

Have you ever seen that advert for kitchen roll? Let me jog your memory...

After I made my first Archer from a sheet I decided to investigate the bed linen scene because that is some serious yardage for your money! Lo and behold, I discovered something earth-shattering! Something so amazing and life-changing it can only be displayed in all capitals... Are you ready? JERSEY SHEETS!!!

I got this one for £7.50 in Tesco because I'm addicted to navy. Funny thing, my favourite colour is green but  sew navy almost exclusively... My obsession with navy fabric got so bad I had to ban myself from buying it, which lasted up until the point I bought 2 meters of dotty rayon challis, which I still haven't used despite the fact it is almost identical in weight and drape to the fabric I bought for my culottes.

Tangent aside, I decided to use the sheet to test out the Deer and Doe Plantain t-shirt because it's a mathematical fact that Free T-shirt + JERSEY SHEETS = Match made in heaven.
I used Katiekadiddlehopper's method for a t-shirt FBA, so I traced a size 36 based on my high bust (33") for all pieces, but graded out to  size 40 for the front bust. Easy as pie. Now, if they gave out Nobel prizes for sewing (Which they totally should!!) this method would win in a heart beat! It is seriously magic. There's no drag lines, no pulling, no weird folded fabric around the armpits... It's pure magic!

The Plantain itself is a seriously awesome pattern! Between the summer and the new year I bought absolutely no clothes, it wasn't so much a conscious decision, I just sewed enough that I didn't really need to. Then, in the depths of the January gloom, my unconscious shopping hiatus ended when I bought myself a plain long sleeve green t-shirt from H&M. It seems so strange to me that the one item of clothing that I've bought in the last 6-ish months is a plain t-shirt that I could have easily have made. That's why as soon as I put my Plantain on I felt so obscenelyroud. It's not because this was especially tricky to make but because I think there's something admirable about doing simple things well and now (clothing-wise) I'm pretty much self-sufficient. It's not like I have a lot of clothes but this is a top that goes with literally everything in my wardrobe and you can't tell because of my culottes but it skims beautifully and manages to be fitted yet loose. I won't question how, it might ruin the magic.

The only issue I has was easing in my neckline. I definitely had to fight to get it to fit, but after a quick press it looks great and doesn't gape at all! Win! I also sewed the neckband with a 3/8" SA not 5/8" as I was worried it was starting to look a little low... the extra 2/8" probably doesn't do that much modesty wise, but it makes me feel better!

So, after my success with my first Plantain I still had miles of JERSEY SHEETS left and since I was on a roll I decided to adapt the pattern to make a skater dress.

Essentially, I measured from my shoulder to waist and made that the length of the bodice. I used the 3/4 length sleeve option. I then cut out the 1/2 circle skirt by folding out the crotch/pleats from my culottes pattern, sticking the front and back pieces together so they made half of the skirt, then cutting that out twice.

My main issue was altering the plantain so I would be tight around the waist, as the original is quite loose and skimmy (lets just pretend that's a word). I pretty much just stood in front of a mirror  stabbing myself in the side with pins until it looked right. It wasn't scientific and it gave me a couple of awkward drag lines but it worked.

I made the dress the day after the t-shirt so it all came together with muscle memory in a matter of hours. I haven't hemmed it. Partly because it rolls so prettily, partly because I like the length it ended up.

So that's it folks. One sheet, two Plantains. The end.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Archer enemy

Oh, just look at that shirt. Such a devilishly red hue. That's how you can tell was forged in the depths of hell!
Was that a tad dramatic? Perhaps, but in all seriousness this shirt was nearly the death of  me (and everyone in a 10 mile radius) and it is without a doubt the most effort I have ever put into a garment. You're looking at a whole lot of figurative blood sweat and tears.

Oh this shirt had me going through the ringer before I'd even started. For Christmas I bullied my parents into gifting me the Grainline Archer shirt pattern and the Salme Silvia dress pattern (No link as the website's down right now). Immediately after gaining the patterns I cocooned myself away in my bedroom and set to work reading every possible blog post and review I could find on the Archer. I read so many I could go on Mastermind with it as my specialist subject, but I knew that a button up shirt was entirely different to my usual diet of swishy skirts and dresses so I wanted to be prepared (As my Gramps says, there's no time lost on reconnaissance)

Eventually I was ready to actually set to work and after taping the pattern on NYE I traced a size 8 which matched my bust (36"- while I'm on the subject of sizing I'm just going to point out that after extensive research on the Archer I'm fairly certain that the most annoying thing is people posting what size they made but not how big they are, I know it's weird but it's super helpful...) However after reading this post I realised that since my bust is ...slightly... disproportionate... to the rest of me I would probably end up swimming in the shirt. So I looked at the finished garment measurements and re-traced (Urgh) to size 4, which has a 37" bust, so I figured it would still have that loose boyfriend look with out being elephanty.

Overall, size 4 was a great choice, the shoulders are just where I want them to be and the back fits beautifully. The hips fit fine, if maybe a tad snug, and the back ends at perfect butt covering length. Plus I LOVE that curved hem (nothing to do with the fit, I just thought I'd point it out). My only issue is a couple of drag lines around the bust area, they turn up on pretty much anything I wear but I have absolutely no idea how to fix them...? Luckily they're pretty small/faint on the Archer so it doesn't bother me, but definitely something to think about for next time.
Aaah look at that pretty pleat

 Now onto the sewing part. (This is where it goes downhill).

 First mistake: Seam allowance. I sewed the entire thing with 5/8" SA, not 1/2", but I mean who really needed that extra 1/8" anyways...

Second mistake: Top-stitching. Okay, this isn't so much a mistake a s something I need to practise, but honestly I think some of those straight lines are drunk. (Note to self: Buy co-ordinating thread, Navy stands out like hell)

Ooops! Ignore the uncut threads

Third mistake: Sleeve plackets. Strangely I spent so long worrying about sewing my top-stitching lines straight I completely forgot about all the other stuff I should be shit scared of, like continuous sleeve plackets!! They are, simply put, the tricksiest little bastards in existence. Did you know that in my entire sewing career I have only ever broken 1 needle (and that was when my machine Nigel broke), after I'd sewn those plackets the toll had increased to 3. In all fairness, one turned out "Meh.", but I incorrectly marked the notches on the other and the split was too big for the placket, so I cut some of the sleeve off ...and then it was too small. It was like plucking eyebrows, painful, and everything you do to one you have to go back and do to the other, it ended up and a mangled mess and my sleeves are uneven to boot. On the plus side I only wear shirt sleeves rolled up any way so no one will ever know...except for me... and you...

Forth mistake: Setting in sleeves. I went into this thinking I was pretty good and setting sleeves, and it was true. I am very good at setting in sleeves... on KNIT fabric! Up until the Archer I'd only ever sewn t-shirts/skater dresses with sleeves which is way easier because A) they have  less sleeve-cap  ease B) They're knits so they mould and stretch to your will. These two facts don't apple to woven fabrics, so there's a little puckering going on around the shoulders.

Fifth mistake: Button holes. They are stupid. I hate them and apparently my machine does too. Let's just leave it at that. This is my best one.

You'll be pleased to know I didn't swear at it. No, not swear, only make guttural noises somewhat akin to a Gruffalo giving birth, interspersed with (very legitimate) cries of "If it doesn't work this time I'm going to go on a chainsaw massacre!". People it was not pretty. the only thing that went together smoothly was the collar. I loosely followed Andrea's method, but I've actually made a couple before so I didn't have to run backwards and forwards from machine to laptop like I did for the plackets.

But you know what? I made this shirt three weeks ago and have worn it twice a week ever since. I am in love with this shirt! I'm so in love I don't care about the shoulder puckers or the dodgy top stitching. I'm so in love I don't care that it's made from an old sheet in a colour that I half love and half find repugnant. I'm so in love that I have four fabrics from my stash lined up to become Archers because I NEED MORE!

So that's all, I guess. I'm off to practise my pattern matching skills because plaid Archers are going on around here.