Chambray Granville Shirt

Look, I made a thing:

It’s a shirt, an actual bona-fide shirt! After not sewing anything for well over a year because there wasn’t space for my sewing machine, I moved house, dusted off the old Janome, made a cheeky Hollyburn skirt to check I still knew how to sew, and then jumped right back in at the deep end with a Granville shirt. And I think this proves I still know how to sew much better than that slightly dodgy Hollyburn skirt did.

But here’s the thing: it took me about 4 months to sew this thing. There were gaps of weeks where I didn’t pick it up at all, because life is busy and I get sleepy. It was a serious test of my resolve to keep going on a project that had long since lost its excitement. I’m usually a real flake with my projects – as soon as something loses its initial sheen I’ll jump ship to the next shiny thing. But I’ve been working on my perseverance. And it turns out perseverence pays off. Who knew.

I even got into a whole “slow sewing, slow living” thing while thinking about (rather than working on) this project. But I’ll save that for another time. You want to hear about the project. I’ll share the details.

The pattern is the Granville shirt by Sewaholic. The fabric is a super soft chambray from Samuel Taylor in Leeds (because I live in Yorkshire now, people). I got the buttons at Abakhan in Chester.

I’m an hourglass shape, and this pattern is drafted for a pear shape much taller than me. So I mixed up the sizes: size 6 at the bust, size 4 at the waist, and size 0 at the hem. I also took 1″ off the hem and 1.5″ off the sleeves. I didn’t do a test run with sleeves though, did I? I made the shirt up with two sleeves with beautiful plackets and then attached them to the body and realised they were comically long. So I had to make two more sleeves with beautiful plackets. Hey – at least I got loads of practice making beautiful plackets.

I was expecting to have trouble with the collar. I know some people mentioned the pieces coming out too long and having to be cut down to size. Nothing of the sort happened to me and my collar sewed up a dream:

The fit is pretty darn good, I’d say. My only complaint is that it’s a little tight around the high bust if I button it up to the top. I don’t intend to wear it that way, so it won’t be an issue. Just something to think about for my next Granville.

There’s a lot of flaring going on at the hem. I thought that I’d lose most of that flare by using the size 0 hem and taking an inch off the length, but it does still kick out a touch at the sides. I was thinking that I’d alter the pattern for next time, but looking at these pictures I actually quite like that little shaping. It’s kinda dainty:

And finally, here’s a shot from the back. Hangs nicely, I reckon.

All in all, I’m incredibly pleased with myself and think I’ve earned the write to once again call myself a sewer/sewist/person who sews. I’m going for an instant gratification project next, but then I’ll make something a bit more pizzazz.

BOOM!

Bear Renfrew T-shirt

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It’s the bear-bear Renfrew! My cosy new t-shirt with bears on!

This was so much fun to make! Especially after making my fern print Mimi which took forever and involved fabric that didn’t behave. This t-shirt was planned as my first foray into working with knits, but completely by accident (because I wasn’t pay attention), the fern Mimi took that crown. This t-shirt was an absolute breeze compared to that. The fabric is a fairly thick jersey – almost maybe sweatshirt material – and it did exactly what I told it to. Heavenly! And it took hardly any time at all to make, which I really appreciated as I had to go to work on the weekend I made it so I didn’t have many spare hours.

Apology up front: the pictures in this post have come out a bit desaturated, oops! It was a really bright day when I took these photos so the colour got a bit washed out and I’ve struggled to put it back in. The pic at the top is the truest to the colour – it’s a nice vivid blue with a hint of grey. We can pretend that the rest of the pictures are using a cool Instagram filter.

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The pattern is the Sewaholic Renfrew. I bought the paper pattern. I’ve decided I’m never going to buy a PDF pattern again (unless it’s the only option) because 1) it’s so nice to have the real, physical product and 2) I’d honestly rather wait a few weeks for a pattern to reach me than lose a precious evening to sellotape. Time is money, friend! (Goblin salesmen from WoW yeah? Anyone? Just me?)

There were a few steps in the construction that I was worried about  – the neck, arm and waist bands which are a bit shorter than the opening you sew them to, and the sleeves which are sewn flat – but it all went surprisingly smoothly. The trick to the bands is to put a pin in every quarter of the way around, matching seams – then with the band on top, gently stretch it to the right size as it goes through the machine. On my very first go I went pin-mad but it just got really fiddly. It was much easier with fewer pins.

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There are little bears mountain climbing all over me!

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I picked the size 4 and it fits nicely with absolutely no adjustments. Is that how knits work? Is it always this magical?! I bet I just got lucky this time.

The fit is just right across the bust and has enough ease around the waist for a proper big dinner. For future Renfrews I may go for a size 2 at the waist for a snugger fit, but for this particular tee I think the looseness adds a casual vibe that goes well with the casual fabric.

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So comfy and cosy. I want to make twenty more like it!

Two Hollyburn Skirts

In my first month of sewing I’ve made two Hollyburn skirts. The sewalong at Lavender Lane helped enormously through the process.

I printed out the PDF pattern, and even just taping that together was a real learning curve for a newbie like me! Somehow I ended up with wonky grainline markings in the pattern – but I think I got away with it.

I made this green version first (my first ever garment!):

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I was pretty pleased with myself. Within a few days I had turned a length of fabric into a wearable item of clothing!

Just don’t look on the inside… The tension on the zig-zag seam finish is off so they’re all scrunched up. And the waistband interfacing is exposed in places! Some of the seams are wonky, too – I could not get that cheap polycotton to hold a pressed fold for more than a few minutes.

All in all though, this skirt is the end product of a serious learning experience. I had a lot of fun making it, even the frustrating bits along the way like redoing the zipper four times. (Now I understand why basting is always recommended.)

Then I made this version for my birthday, and all my feelings of pride about the green skirt were blown out of the water:

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I’m really happy with this one! I took all my learnings from the first version, and applied them fastidiously and painstakingly. And isn’t that fabric gorgeous? I picked it up at Spotlight.

I didn’t match up the print on the seams, but other than that I was possibly a bit too perfectionist. This afternoon I read in Love At First Stitch that if you mess up a couple of stitches, you don’t actually have to redo the whole seam. I’ll get through my future projects a lot faster with that bit of knowledge!

I wore the floral skirt out on my birthday – my husband treated me to dinner at Lime House, which was great fun. I loved the jerk chicken carpaccio (bold but delicate) and the macaroni pie (wholesome and comforting). I ate a huge amount – by the end of the night I was grateful for the ease in the skirt’s waistband!

I see myself making many more Hollyburn skirts – they are exactly my style, and so easy to wear.