Deer & Doe in the jungle
WARNING: this blog post features graphic photos of pattern slashing that some dedicated seamstresses may find distressing.
I was smitten as soon as I saw this new pattern from Deer & Doe hit the Twittersphere. Not only did it look like an extremely useful everyday kind of top, but I already had some fabric in mind … a crazy multi animal print viscose jersey in greys and purples (why have one animal print when you could have five in one?!). Even more appealing, those generous people at Deer & Doe let you download the pattern for FREE! Woo hoo.
The downside? Yep, we all know there had to be a downside … the lovely pattern only comes in sizing up to a European 46. What does that mean in real money? It means that the biggest size is for a 41" bust. Ahhh, well, there was the immediate problem … that left me four and a half inches short of my full bust measurement. I uhmmed and ahhed and ignored it for a while but then I saw the pattern on Anna's lovely blog and I knew I had to give it a go. I was concerned on a number of levels about the task ahead … I have only ever sewn one knit fabric garment before (the kitschycoo skater dress) and I don't have anything remotely resembling a serger/overlocker. Also, I have never really drastically altered a pattern with that amount of difference. Still, I had an extrordinary event coming … a whole weekend with no visitors or social happenings … in summary an ocean of sewing opportunity.
Saturday morning saw me head for the sewing shed with a cup of tea and get out my Fit for Real People book. Obviously, as the pattern was sized for knits, I had a bit more leeway with how I extended the pattern, but I still needed to add a full inch to the bust on each piece and then make sure that I retained the lovely trapezium effect of the original design. I had a vague idea that this kind of empire line treatment would also work much better on my figure. I have to confess that the next bit wasn't particularly scientific … I got my pencil and sketched in a few lines and then just grabbed the scissors and slashed the pattern pieces from top to bottom. Eeek! (If you are attempting something similar I recommend a brief lie down at this point in the proceedings, it really helps.) Then I got the tape measure and my spare tissue paper and filled in the gaps til I had the extra inches I needed. You can see from the photo that I added in the extra all the way down the piece, making it wider at the bottom to accentuate the shaping.
Next up was the sleeve. Again, I knew I would need to add substantial width to the upper arm, so I cut right up the middle of the sleeve and then across the full width at the top of the sleeve (leaving about 1/4 inch intact to use as a pivot). Again, I spread and filled and taped in place and I was ready to cut out. For my muslin I used a cheap cotton jersey I have had lolling around in the stash for donkey's years. To be honest I had gone off it some years ago and it was in the potential ebay pile. I didn't have any problems sewing it together. The instructions are brilliant and very easy to follow, and I also found it easy to sew with an ordinary machine.
After I finished the neckline and did the sleeve seams I tried it on to check the fit. Although it was pretty good I felt that in order to give my silhouette a bit more shape (more hourglass and less "the human cube") I nipped in an extra inch just under the bust on the side seams (again, you can see this revised line marked in pencil on the pattern pieces above). I was delighted with the results and funnily, I'm also back in love with the fabric now it's made up – those gorgeous clashy graphic shapes in pink and coral – yum! For a wearable muslin I think it's great. The photos, I'm afraid, were done in haste in all the rubbish weather today, so I completely forgot to get my bloke to take a photo of the lovely black elbow patches on the back of the sleeves. I was worried about sewing these on, but they were actually a breeze and really give the whole thing a RTW look.
Because I like the look of the neckband 'as is', I didn't add the decorative top stitching to it, but I did do it on version 2! I am still amazed at how neat that neck seam is. Alongside more sewing, one of the things I really want to concentrate on this year is making sure I make things that go with other things! Even down to jewellery. My mum is an amazing jewellery designer, but I am sadly lacking in that skill set … but I thought I'd have a go at making a pair of matching earrings, and was really pleased with these little beauties that I threw together in about twenty minutes.
On to Plantain T-shirt No. 2: I was extremely pleased with the fit of the pattern after my extreme tissue paper surgery, and the only additional alteration I wanted to make was to add an extra inch or two to the length. So, this morning it was back to the sewing shed for my first #junglejanuary make. This fabric was a trickier customer entirely and was absolutely horrible to cut out as it kept trying to escape from the table. After that it was a breeze and I think version two was completed in less than two hours (that was with much fa-la-ing around, not exactly focused deadline sewing). On this version I added 2 inches to the length which I think makes it more tunic-like, and I also decided to add a little detail to the three-quarter length sleeves with some ruching and a shell heart button. I'm pretty pleased with version two although I think it is less successful in this viscose jersey than the cotton jersey of my wearable muslin. Here are some photos (please bear in mind that it was absolutely chucking it down with rain by now and was so bloomin freezing I wasn't taking my scarf off for anyone!).
It layers up really well with my favourite grey cardi and will be perfect for working in the studio. Because all this crafting time without interrpution went to my head, I made another pair of matching earrings … mostly because when I was browsing through the bead box in search of pink and orange beads earlier in the day I found these purple leopard print beads, and then, well, it would have been rude not to!
All in all an extremely successful couple of sewing mornings. I have the perfect piece of fabric in mind for my ultimate Plantain T-shirt … and hopefully I can get cracking on that next weekend. It's fabric I have been eyeing for some time but I have always been discouraged because it is a knit. Unfortunately, it is (oops) another bird print (if you remember, I have a problem with bird prints!)
It's great to have a finished #junglejanuary garment this early in the month. Normally I am the worst kind of last minute Larry. I have already cut out on my next Jungle January project … this lovely jungle print cotton for a shirt for a wee person (in a perfect Oliver + S pattern). Rahhhhrrr!
And then this wonderful scarlet giraffe print for a top for me (the blue version on the front of the pattern envelope). I've traced the pattern off and laid everything out on the kitchen table to cut out several times but so far have chickened out. It's pure silk which I think is part of the reason for my nervousness. Perhaps a glass of wine would take the edge off? Anyone? Drunken silk sewing? Hmmm … probably not such a good idea eh? Happy Jungle January sewing everyone.