My Favourite Autumn Patterns!

It’s the last day of August and I’m already anticipating the autumn with determination. I love autumn, not least because it offers a break from the 40C weather I’ve been forced to endure for the past five months. Mostly, I adore the cosiness of the season – the hot drinks, blankets, books, and being able to layer my clothes. In fact, clothes play a really central role in why it is that I love the autumn so much. I always struggle to dress appropriately in summer. I’m not a big fan of shorts and skirts, unless I can throw on some thick tights or knee-length socks with them. I love cardigans and jumpers. Unfortunately, none of these things lend themselves to a summer in Missouri.

So, with true anticipation, I’ve been thinking hard about my favourite autumnal patterns. Some I’ve already made, some I hope to make for the first time! I thought I would share them with you, at least partly in the hope that it might motivate me back to my sewing machine.

Chataigne Shorts – Deer&Doe

I’m actually in the process of whipping up a version of these shorts, imitating as closely as possible the suede version shown in photos on the website. Although I’m using faux suede (#veganlife), I really wanted to copy the style that they’ve shown because it just feels super autumnal. I’m actually a big fan of tights under shorts – in fact, I’ve always worn shorts far more often in the autumn/winter than in the summer, so my version of the Chataigne shorts will definitely serve that look!

On a technical level, I also just love the design of these shorts. They have a unique pointed waistband which I just adore. The pleating on the front is another detail that I tend to search for whenever I’m looking for short patterns or buying shorts on the high street. So stick around for this because, fingers crossed, I should have some photos up in the next couple of weeks!

Vintage Shirt Dress – Sew Over It

This is a pattern that I’ve already worked with and loved. However, my version – very pastel and generally summery – is not super suited to the cooler months. The pattern was an absolute dream to work with and I’ve been determined to make a new version ever since I finished my last one.

The long sleeve option would make this pattern perfect for the start of autumn, when temperatures are cool enough to need coverage but not so cool that you need thick layers. I’m thinking that a more muted fabric – perhaps even a plain cotton – might work perfectly with a bright pair of tights or a hat. I’m always on a bit of a beret kick in the autumn so anything I can make work with that obsession is always super welcome.

Ginger Jeans – Closet Case Patterns

Another pattern with which I am well acquainted but planning out a new version. The pair of Ginger Jeans that I already have – navy denim with white anchors – will actually be pretty appropriate year-round. However, I’m in love with black jeans. I think they look so chic and, bonus, they match with just about everything. As we approach the autumn and some cooler weather, I’m excited to actually get some wear out of my trousers. They’ve been languishing in my wardrobe for months because it’s been far too hot (I know, I just can’t help complaining – but I’m English, very fair skinned, and just generally find this weather totally unreasonable).

If you’re looking for some new jeans for the autumn and fancy a bit of a challenge (although not the level of challenge that you might expect and fear), I definitely recommend the Ginger Jeans. They were my first experience with jean making and the process went off without a hitch. Super clear instructions, very simple steps, and just generally a good time!

Juliette Blouse – Sew Over It

One of my sewing goals for this year was to spend more time working on separates. So far, I’ve been doing a pretty good job on this. But my sights are set on a new make – the Juliette Blouse from Sew Over It. Since making the Lucia Top, I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with ruffles. Any top that gives me the opportunity to flaunt some frilly goodness is, in my view, worth the time it takes to make.

I’ve been on the hunt for some good blouse or shirt patterns that would work in colder weather. Particularly something that I can tuck into a skirt or jeans, that also fits easily under other layers. The Juliette Blouse seems to fit these requirements perfectly. That said, the layering would be vital with a blouse of this kind since it demands a very lightweight fabric. But, as I mentioned above, I love a cardigan – so really it’s just an excuse to add on even more layers!

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So those are four of my favourite autumnal patterns, all of which I’m planning to make (or, in some cases, remake) over the coming months. Do you have any favourite patterns for the autumn? Leave your recommendations below!

Ginger Jeans (Closet Case Patterns)

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I’m officially a jeans champion! My foray into the world of trousers is only relatively recent and, before the Ginger Jeans, I had only two pairs under my belt (*pun SO intended*). Before this, trousers were super intimidating to me. I’ve always struggled to buy them because they are either too small for my hips or too big on my waist/thighs. I guess I thought that any attempt at making trousers would revolve around the same difficulties. But with the success of the Tyyni Cigarette trousers and Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trousers, I started to think that jeans might actually be a possibility. To me, jeans seem like the pinnacle of trouser-based achievement. And, honestly, I would’ve probably avoided making them forever if holes hadn’t started to appear in my favourite store-bought pair!

Fortunately, I’d heard so many good things about the Ginger Jeans pattern that I knew immediately that it was the one I wanted to try. I’m so glad I did, because these jeans are AMAZING!

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Miss Elizabeth Bennet has the tongue of three dogs. (please read in context)

When I committed to making jeans, I knew that I didn’t want to go with conventional denim. So I traipsed around Joann’s for a while, trying to find something sufficiently different from the norm. Fortunately, I came across this amazing anchor denim and I knew that it was perfect! The pattern suggests using stretch denim with at least 2% lycra – this fabric met the specifications, so I was good to go!

Because I’m a terrible person, I once again refused to make a muslin. I don’t think I’ve ever made one and, unless something is super critical or complex, it’s unlikely I will. That said, don’t let me discourage you from your muslin-making ways! I promise, you are infinitely more patient and practical than I! So, as per my usual method, I simply traced off the appropriate pattern sizes (I think 10 waist, 12 hips) and hoped for the best. Fortunately, the fit is dead right with no alterations and I wouldn’t change anything on my next go round!

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Let’s talk details. One of the most intimidating things about making jeans has to be the endless topstitching. I’ve done a bit of topstitching in the past and always enjoy the finish that it gives to a garment. But there is a LOT of topstitching on jeans and, in most cases, it’s going to be pretty visible. I realised early on, however, that although I couldn’t escape the visibility of my topstitching, I could let go of my compulsive need to have it all look totally perfect. Because while there is a lot of topstitching, this just makes it even less likely that someone’s eye will be drawn to that little wave of stitching where you veered off course. I actually didn’t find the topstitching a problem at all – I took it slowly, practiced things like bar-tacking on spare fabric first, and just generally didn’t worry about it not being perfect. I highly recommend not worrying!

If you are really worried about it, you might want to consider investing in an Edge Stitch Foot. This was one of the recommendations made by some of my lovely readers when I put out a call for help on topstitching in the middle of fabric. In the end, I wasn’t patient enough to wait for a new foot – so I just estimated and went for it. Next time around, I think I’ll get a proper foot, just to make the whole process easier. The main issue is that you can’t really mark on your fabric for topstitching (unless you have a super reliable way that is guaranteed to wash off). But an Edge Stitch Foot will definitely save you a lot of time and anxious energy!

One thing I adore about this pattern is its attention to all of the details that you find on store-bought jeans. The topstitching replicates almost exactly what you would see on any pair – same with the bar-tacking and the pockets! Of course, you could sew the pattern without any of these extra details and it would still make a great pair of trousers.

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The pockets are especially cute! I was really intimidated when I saw the various pocket components (coin pockets, yokes, regular pockets etc.), thinking that it was going to end up being a complicated process. But it ended up being truly simple. In fact, although there were definitely parts of the overall pattern construction that gave me pause and I had to play through in my mind a few times, there really weren’t any stumbling blocks. If you’re going to make the jeans, I highly recommend referring to the Ginger Jeans Sew-Along tutorials. I found these posts incredibly helpful. They elaborate on the instructions included with the pattern and are accompanied by detailed photos of every construction stage. In some instances, the tutorial also offers alternatives to the methods included in the pattern instructions. So if you’re stumped by anything, checking the Sew-Along posts is definitely a good idea!

Now for the scary bit – the fly! Making the Ginger Jeans wasn’t my first time installing a fly. I’d worked through this process on the Tyyni trousers and, although it was definitely complicated, it wasn’t as horrendous as I expected. That said, the Ginger Jeans take the process to a whole new level of simplicity. The fly is probably the most impressive part of the jeans (to me) because it looks so professional, both on the outside and the inside of the jeans. As much as I would love to take credit for this, I literally just followed the instructions.

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Where the fly on my Tyyni Trousers definitely looked a bit ragged on the inside, the construction on the Ginger Jeans is just so clean. I don’t think I’ve had a make that looks so well put-together internally! Having a serger definitely helped with this (especially because denim can fray like nobody’s business). If you don’t have a serger, zigzag stitching will work just as well, and will still help to capitalise on the super clean look that is basically inherent to this pattern.

I genuinely have nothing bad to say about the Ginger Jeans. They’re amazing. The jeans are definitely a time investment – just switching thread back-and-forth for topstitching takes up about 10 hours (I joke but it really does feel this way). All things considered, however, I was honestly so impressed with how quickly the jeans came together. I will definitely be knocking out more of these in the future.

Although the construction is complex enough that I probably wouldn’t recommend the pattern for beginner, you could definitely make these jeans with relatively little sewing experience. Using the Sew-Along for reference, as well as the pattern instructions, you could easily make a great pair of jeans! I’ve learnt so much from sewing this pair but without any struggle or frustration – which, to me, is the mark of a truly well-made pattern.

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Same jeans, different angle.

So if you’re debating whether or not to make your own jeans, debate no longer! Trust me when I say that the Ginger Jeans pattern will get you where you want to go. You will end up with a beautiful pair of jeans and feeling like the trouser ninja that always were inside!

Topstitching Triumph?

As you all know from my most recent ramblings, I’ve been working away at my Ginger Jeans. This is my first foray into the jean-making world and, given the amazing reviews of this pattern, I’m hopeful that they’re going to be fantastic.

One of my favourite things about making jeans is the amount of topstitching. I love topstitching! I’m not sure if this is a popular opinion, but I genuinely find it so satisfying. Plus it looks super decorative and professional! The Ginger Jeans are presenting so many opportunities to practice a bit of topstitching. Although I will admit that constantly changing threads between my regular stitching thread and my contrast topstitching thread is a pain, I’m definitely enjoying myself. Maybe one day I’ll have two machines so that I can just move back and forth!

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An added bonus is that the white topstitching looks so cute with the anchors!

However, I am encountering a bit of a problem. At a couple of stages, I’ve had to topstitch adjacent to an inner seam line (as opposed to an edge). Whilst topstitching next to an edge is relatively simple since you can just use the guides on the sewing machine to judge the 1/8″ and 3/8″ lines, topstitching in the middle of fabric is turning out to be a nightmare. In case my inadequate description is posing problems for you visualising what I’m talking about, here’s a picture…

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Obviously, in this case, the fabric is obscuring the seam gauge lines on the sewing machine, making it impossible for me to measure. Although the actually foot has lines of its own (which are fine for following 1/8″), anything beyond the width of the foot is proving tough. I’m basically having to make a rough estimate of where the line should be – which doesn’t feel very good when I’m trying to get some perfect topstitching going. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to address this? I’m genuinely at a loss for how anyone manages this kind of scenario without some guesswork as to where the topstitching line should fall. For reference, here’s a pic of what I’m working with:

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Now the obvious solution would be to draw the line onto the fabric before stitching. I’ve avoided doing this because I’ve had such unfortunate encounters with unreliable fabric markers – ones that have come very close to ruining garments because I can’t get the marks to wash off. I’ve tried a few different methods but haven’t found any that I’m comfortable marking onto the right side of my fabric. If the only way to take the guesswork out of my topstitching measurements is to mark onto my fabric, I’m definitely going to do more investigations to find a trustworthy fabric marker!

Sorry for the ‘Dear Diary’ nature of this post. But you lovely people always have excellent sewing advice so I’m hopeful that, with your help, I can find a way to make my topstitching even more triumphant!

Denim Dilemma!

Picking fabrics can be a nightmare of indecision. This is the main reason why I tend to pick projects based on fabrics that I already own. That way, I can fabric shop purely for what I love rather than panicking myself into a stupor trying to decide on what’s most project appropriate. But this doesn’t always work. Sometimes a project finds its way to the top of my To Do list without any workable fabric in my stash. Participating in The Big Vintage Sew-Along and The Cocktail Hour Blogger Tour were great lessons in fabric shopping with actual purpose!

When my only pair of jeans (store-bought – and yes, I only had one pair due to my pre-transatlantic move wardrobe cull!) ripped at the weekend, I knew that I would have to shift my upcoming projects around a bit to accommodate my need for new jeans. Since I already had the Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns lined up, I decided to just delay my Mimi blouse for a little bit and prioritise a new pair of jeans. Who knew, however, that picking out denim could be such a task? My husband drove me out to Joann’s where I managed to spend 45 minutes looking at a pretty limited selection of denim, trying to decide what I wanted to do. Initially, I was planning on simply replicating my old jeans as closely as possible by picking out a relatively dark, plain denim. But then some alternatives caught my eye.

Firstly, I was super tempted by a white floral design that I thought would make such a gorgeous pair of jeans for the spring. I carried it around the shop with me for ages before deciding that it might just be too far away from the versatile pair of jeans that I’d initially been intending to make. I’m all for straying off of the beaten path and I adore a good pair of statement trousers (my Ultimate Trousers really demonstrate this fact) but since I currently own no jeans – and I practically live in jeans and yoga pants – I figured best to stay as simple as possible.

That said, I obviously can’t resist making garments that look as unique as possible. So when I came across an adorable dark denim with embroidered anchors, I couldn’t resist!

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How cute is this? The only thing that remains to be seen is whether I actually have enough. I ended up finishing the bolt and it came up just short of the requirements. Annoyingly I fall in between two sizes for the pattern, both of which have different fabric requirements (2.75 yds versus 3 yds). The width of the fabric also falls between the two given widths. So estimating whether the 2.75 yds I ended up with will be enough was a bit of  a task. In the end, I bought it and am going to check the pattern layout before prewashing (in which case, the fabric is still returnable). Fingers crossed that it will work!

I also bought a super cute cotton for the pocket/waistband lining! I love the triangle pattern. Plus the colour scheme feels very much fitting with the nautical theme. I spent a while trying to find a stripy fabric that would work – mostly because I thought that stripes would look really great – but no such luck! I’m super happy with my choice anyway!

Deciding on the fabric was definitely a bit of a trial. But I always have to remind myself that I can have a second stab at any pattern I love. If this version of the Ginger Jeans goes well, I totally anticipate a return trip to Joann’s for the super sweet floral denim! This said, I absolutely need to get better about not feeling as though I’m making life-changing decisions every time I have to pick out fabric. Not least because I fear my husband will eventually stop driving me out to fabric shops if he has to spend many more hours trying to have opinions about fabrics.

Stay tuned and fingers crossed I’ll have some jeans to show you soon!!

New Projects: What’s Next?

With February now well under way, I’m attempting to get together some coherent sewing plans for my next few projects. The down side of not planning out a series of makes for the year (along the lines of #makenine on Instagram) is that I do spend a lot of time dithering when I find myself between projects. Since my sewing productivity has increased massively this past month, my lack of planning is becoming even more of an issue. On the other hand, my makes tend to be responsive to whatever I’m feeling at the time so planning out patterns for the year doesn’t really work well. To navigate these two perspectives, I’m trying to develop a planning method that falls somewhere in between by having the next few makes lined up – hopefully sufficient to get me through a month or two. With that, I thought that I would write up a post on my more immediate sewing plans – at the very least it gets my plans out of my brain (where they will inevitably slosh around and eventually disappear into the ether of my other thoughts) and written down in a concrete way!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been spending a lot of time recently working from Tilly and the Button’s Love at First Stitch book.

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I’ve owned this book for ages but had yet to actually make anything from it. Having just finished up the Clemence skirt (photos to come soon!), I’m now working on a version of the Mimi blouse. I’m actually super excited about this make. I’ve never been big into making separates – I always seem to default to dresses because they’re just so pretty! But I’m determined to diversify my me-made wardrobe this year and separates are going to be a big part of that. I fell in love with the 60s style of the Mimi blouse and thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to use the beautiful fabric that I won during #vpjuly last year.

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I was going to hang on and make a dress from this fabric (as per my traditional dress obsession) but I can’t help thinking that it will make a super cute vintage blouse. Plus there will be some extra fabric left over for other things, which is always a bonus!

After I get done with the blouse, I’m thinking of working on another version of the Decades of Style Belle Curve dress. This was one of my earliest makes and remains one of my favourite patterns. It’s just so beautiful! Unfortunately, my early version of the pattern is both much too big for me now and not amazingly made. I definitely applaud myself for managing to make the pattern at all and, given my complete lack of sewing knowledge at the time, am still very happy with what I achieved. But I think the Belle Curve dress is definitely a pattern that will benefit from my much improved sewing abilities.

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I don’t yet have any fabric for this dress. I think it’s going to be a matter of rooting around at some fabric stores in order to find the perfect material. I think I’m still going to go for something plain (not patterned) and relatively light in colour, since this allows for the darts to show up especially well. I was actually really pleased with the fabric choice on my first version, so I think I’m going to try and use something relatively close to that – because why change what works?

The last project on my current list is the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans. I’ve seen these jeans circulating in the blogosphere for a while and with consistently incredible reviews. I always struggle to find good jeans in stores because they’ll inevitably be baggy on my waist and thighs or too tight on my hips. The idea of making my own jeans is massively appealing and, with my recent Ultimate Trousers success, I’m feeling really motivated to make even more trousers! Not to mention, Closet Case’s jeans patterns are all 30% off for the month of February, as is their online Jean Making course! So I think I’m going to capitalise on that discount and give these jeans a go.

So that’s everything I have planned for the next month or so. If I continue on my current trend, my self-made wardrobe will definitely be growing exponentially through 2018! What do you have lined up for February? Dark, cold winters are definitely optimal sewing time. Maybe this -10 Celsius weather will clear up in St. Louis soon so that I can actually go out wearing some of what I’ve made this year.