Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


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#SummerOfBasics – Progress Update

It’s now the middle of August and I’ve made some good progress on my outfit for the Summer of Basics. The only spanner in the works (albeit a lovely spanner) is that I’m going on holiday tomorrow for ten days and this will mean that I have under a week to complete my makes on my return. I’m hoping I can pull this off!

The Cable Hat

I ordered some beautiful yarn from Jamieson and Smith in the silver grey colour. The yarn is 100% Shetland wool and is apparently “perfect for cables”. I’m hoping I’ve made a good choice for my hat, I’m no expert on choosing wool.

The hat I have decided to make for this make is from the Craftsy “Fall” (Autumn for us here in the UK) Knit-Along from last year. Although I have only listened so far to the “preparation” parts of the tutorial, I have been really enjoying the course. Kate Atherley explains everything so well.

The reason I chose this project is that I am desperate to make a hat that fits. I have an extremely small head and I have a hard time finding hats that fit in the shops. As a general rule only children’s hats fit well, but can be a bit prone to pinkness and bows. Kate’s guide to swatching is great and I’m confident that after knitting two swatches I have a needle size that suits the wool and is right for the pattern. This should bring the size of the hat to the size suggested by the pattern. However, I’m still tempted to take out one of the cable repeats to achieve the suggested fit of 5cm less than head size, for a snug fit.

I suspect I’m not going to start my hat until I come back from holiday, but I have all my tools ready – circular knitting needles and a cable needle. I’ve never used either so this will be fun.

The Black Jeans

I think a whole post needs to be devoted to my jeans, but I thought a little update might be useful here. I’m using this Burda pattern to make a pair of skinny black jeans.

Front of jaens (unfinished)

I’ve made the front including the fly and the back. These have now been sewn together at the inner and outer leg seams. This just leaves the waistband, the belt loops and hem. Sadly, I’m not going to get to take these on holiday, although I suspect that a pair of black jeans was never in contention for a holiday in 30 – 40 degree heat!

Back of jeans


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#SummerOfBasics – Shades of Grey blouse (#105 – Burda 11/2016)

August is upon us and suddenly time is catching up on me. This year I’ve given myself extra sewing deadlines because I’m entering the #SummerOfBasics challenge in addition to the Independent Pattern Month over at The Monthly Stitch.

In my last post I detailed my proposed plans for my outfit. I finished my first make, the Burda top back in June. (Just a little late with my posting). This top is featured in the November 2016 edition of Burda Style magazine. It is a simple top with long sleeves finishing in an elastic cuff, a round neckline with pleats and a front slit. There are raglan sleeves and a waist tie.

Burda Top

I bought the fabric for this top from Sewn Bristol. It is a beautiful double-gauze fabric in two shades of grey – rather plain, but then this is a basics challenge!

Neckline of Grey Top

My first step when I started this top was to see if I could find any other bloggers who had used this pattern. I’m glad I did this research, because they highlighted a couple of points that I incorporated into my top. First of all, there are slits between the body of the top and the raglan sleeves at the front. Allison C left these out of her version as she thought the slits would reveal bra straps. I omitted the slits too for the same reason. The second modification I made was to the ties at the waist. In the pattern these are made from one layer of fabric. I can understand why this is the case, as using a jersey the ties could be very heavy. However, I decided to cut four of the tie pattern pieces and made a double-layer tie. Apart from the tidier finish this afforded, this meant that I could also take advantage of the double-faced nature of the double-gauze fabric. I kept the outside of the tie in the darker grey and the inside uses the lighter grey side of the fabric. When I knot the ties this gives an interesting tow-tone effect.

The pattern suggests using jersey, but as I had a woven fabric I used woven braid to finish the neckline. Other than this I made no changes to accommodate using a woven fabric, since the pattern is a loose style.

Needless to say the pattern had the usual excrement-level instructions which seem to be the norm for Burda. A fair amount of interpretation was required. I think I’m finding the whole Burda experience less daunting these days, but I put this down to my own perseverance rather than any improvement in the quality of the instructions.

Shades of Grey Top

I’m nearly halfway through my skinny jeans. It seems at the beginning of August that I still have plenty of time, but with about two weeks of holiday lined up this month I know I’m going to be pressed for time. I was up in Scotland at the weekend and thought that I would grab a few minutes in Glasgow to bag myself some Shetland yarn for my hat. Disappointingly, there were long flight delays and the time I set aside for shopping didn’t happen, so I’ve ordered online.


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#SummerOfBasics – The Plan

It’s getting to the end of July and I thought I’d review how far I’ve got with my summer sewing. I have managed to make my Hack It outfit for The Monthly Stitch. Here are the more detailed posts for the Moss skirt and the Tonic T-shirt.

My next task is to get to grips with my Summer of Basics outfit. Summer of Basics is a make-along where participants make three basics items for their wardrobes over the three summer months (June, July and August). The garments can be knitted, crocheted, sewn or a combination. They don’t have to be summer clothes as such and the definition of what “basic” means has really been left up to participants. More details can be found on the Fringe Association site.

I know that many participants are already posting their updates on their blogs and Instagram. I have made some good progress, but I’ve yet to post anything yet! First of all though, I thought I’d write a little about the selection of my three intended garments. As the challenge is all about basics, my thoughts turned to the types of clothes that I think fit this description. When I think basics, I think of clothes that I will turn to again and again and that complement my existing wardrobe. For this reason I gravitated to patterns that that were casual and relaxed in style, in fact clothes that could be worn every day.

The pattern for my first make comes from the November edition of Burda Style. The top has long sleeves fitted with elastic cuffs. A round neckline with a slit at the front and a long tie that can be fastened at the front, side or at the back, whatever you prefer.

I have found a few versions of this top on line. Allison C has made a beautiful metallic version. There is a stunning red version by Ellen and this lovely version is made from a very stretchy rayon in maroon by Lisette at La Cubanista Cose.

I noticed that a couple of the versions above have missed out the slits where the raglan sleeves join the top at the front, but as Allison C points out in her blog, these just show bra straps and I am inclined to leave these out too.

Burda Top

There is also a sleeveless version of the blouse, which I really like as well. Perhaps I’ll sew that up some day.

Sleeveless Burda blouse

In the magazine the top appears to be made in a jersey, but being a relaxed fit, woven fabrics with drape are also suggested. I bought a beautiful double-gauze for the top at Sewn Bristol. I’ve never sewn double gauze before, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it. It is beautifully soft and I’m really looking forward to wearing the top.

Double-gauze

My second make will be a pair of skinny black jeans. Again, I’ve chosen a Burda pattern. No real reason for this other than it is a PDF I bought ages ago and had been knocking around on my account unmade. There isn’t much I can say about this pattern other than it is a classic 5-pocket pair of jeans.

Classic Burda Jeans

I’ve have spent a long time deliberating over fabric for the jeans, because finding denim with a good stretch is not a small task. I found this Super Black stretch denim at Fabric Godmothers. Handily, they detail the percentage stretch which makes it easier to pick out a fabric suitable for skinny jeans. This particular fabric has 40% stretch which is quite high, but should make super skinny jeans.

My last make will be a hat. As the Summer of Basics encourages mixing sewn, knitted or crocheted items for your outfit, I thought I would knit a hat. I’m a very shaky knitter still, and I hope I have chosen an easy make. At the end of last year, Craftsy brought out a free Fall knit-along which included three small knits – a hat, a cowl and a pair of fingerless mittens. I signed up for it in the Autumn, but never started it.

Craftsy Class

Given that the knit will be my first hat, it seemed a safer bet to go with a pattern that has a make-along video with it. The hat pattern is available in two slightly different designs – a beanie hat and a slouchy version. To stretch my knitting skills it has a cable design. To fit in with my other two makes, I’m intending to knit in a dark grey or black. I’ve yet to buy the wool.

Craftsy class

I wouldn’t say my garments are particularly summery, but they are definitely “basics”. All are going to be made in grey or black, which for me are ideal neutrals in my wardrobe. They are also typical of the types of clothes I wear frequently either at home or work; comfortable and practical. They’ll also be ideal for mixing and matching with other items in my wardrobe.