Happy November, guys!
We are well and truly in Autumn now. And I LOVE IT. Even though it’s nice to cycle to work in the summer, with the sun shining on your skin as you cut through the warm air, there’s just something about winter cycling. Yes, it’s cold. And dark. But… that fresh crisp morning air just can’t be beaten. Cycling past houses in the evening that have their lights on, the chimneys going and the smell of food… YES. Plus, all the ‘fair-weather’ cyclists get off the road and out of your way and you’ve got a bit of room to breeeeeathe ☺️ I feel like we went from really warm weather where it felt okay to wear cycling shorts, to cold weather where thick fleecy cycling tights and long sleeves were required in the blink of an eye. I only wore my ‘autumn’ tights (as in, thinner ones that are the same as gym/running tights) for a couple of weeks MAX. Then it got proper cold, and I busted out not only the thicker tights but also the winter gloves, socks, neck warmers, base layers… you name it, I’m wearing it. The handknits are out already as well (not for cycling though, lol), and the central heating is on. The winter duvet is on the bed.
The eagle-eyed among you will notice that on last week’s post I said that this week’s post would be my toadstool Melilot shirt (which the even more eagled eyed of you will have spotted on my Me Made May from earlier in the year) – this turned out be not true. A big fat lie, in fact, because I forgot that I haven’t yet blogged the first one of these that I made – the toadstool version is the second long sleeve Melilot that’s been born on my sewing machine (and wasn’t without its dramas, BELIEVE ME ?).
You know I’m a Deer and Doe fangirl – I’ve made SO MANY of their patterns. One of the first dress patterns I ever attempted, back in my ‘younger days’ (lol ?) was the Belladonne dress. I made it from a horrible synthetic green twill-like material (which I think I got off eBay) that frayed like a BASTARD. And I made it about two sizes too small because I guessed my body measurements rather than doing the sensible thing of actually measuring myself. Needless to say, it ended up in a charity bag. But I persevered with that pattern, and have ended up with a couple of good Belladonnes since (mainly because I repurchased the pattern so I could cut a bigger size – yep, I’d never heard of pattern tracing back then ??♀️).
The Melilot shirt was one of the first shirts I made for myself, in a horrible salmon-coloured viscose with cats printed on it. Not only was the fabric a letdown, but I also cut the wrong size – I should have graded out at the hips. If you’re a long-time reader you’ll probably remember how much I hated it – if you’ve not had the pleasure of seeing it you can go look here and see how far I’ve come with my fabric choices.
My second version of the short sleeve Melilot hit the blog a couple of months back. The fit was MUCH better (because I’d actually cut the proper size and graded out at the hips) but it made me realise that 99% of the time, Liberty fabrics look better on the bolt than they do on me. They look really good on the husbeast (which is just as well because I’ve got a few pieces lined up to make shirts for him from), but mostly – there are exceptions – they tend not to suit me. That second Melilot is a prime example of one which doesn’t.
Undeterred (or desperate?), I thought I’d give the long-sleeved version of the shirt a bash. I’d not had much luck with other long-sleeved shirt patterns – patterns from the big 4 (well, just Vogue, really) seemed to have ginormous armholes on their shirts which meant that not only did it fit badly and look ridiculous, but I couldn’t lift my arms. Fed up with this, I turned to my trusty Deer and Doe.
I used to work in Camden, North London. A short walk from the office was the Cloth House warehouse store – if any of you know fabric shops in London, Cloth House is a little boutique fabric store in Soho. Which means that their fabrics can be pretty spendy ? Thankfully, they have this little outlet store in Camden where all last seasons stock goes to be sold off a heavily discounted prices – it’s not unusual to find fabrics for just one or two pounds per metre. Of course, I used to take a little trek there at lunchtimes to see what was new, and it was on one of these visits that I found the silk fabric that I’ve made this shirt from. Silk twill, for the scandalous price of £3 per metre. It’s perhaps not my favourite design in the whole world, but it’s alright. Good enough for test runs, anyway. The pattern reminded me of aeroplanes, which is kinda cool ✈️
So I used the silk for this first go at the long-sleeved Melilot – keeping with the same size that I made in the short sleeve shirt in the ‘meh’ Liberty fabric. If you choose the long sleeved version, you’ll be adding sleeves instead of the short cuffs – yep, they start that far down the arm. Dropped shoulders, innit bruv.
This was to be my second attempt ever at a silk shirt – the first one was the Vogue number I made with some Liberty silk that actually does suit me. The fabric, I like – the shirt pattern, not so much. I’m sad to say that it doesn’t get worn too often because of this. It’s too tight across the chest (probably in part to the HUGE armholes), the buttons are spaced too far apart (I made this in the days before I knew what a button spacer was, and foolishly followed the suggested markings on the pattern) and the interfacing is SO WRONG. Turns out you shouldn’t use medium weight sew-in interfacing on silk, because it makes it feel icky. WAY too stiff. Interfacing like that is at odds with the fabric. I was recommended to use silk organza, so that’s what I sourced for this shirt. Bloody expensive, it is – way more expensive than regular interfacing ? I bought one metre for some obscene price, and I use it sparingly on cuffs, plackets and collars of silk things. I attempted a buttonhole/button combo on an un-interfaced silk once, and let me tell you – it doesn’t end well. You NEED that stability on delicate fabrics, fo sho.
The Melilot actually has proper plackets on the sleeves – if there’s one thing I HATE it’s those fake plackets that just have the narrow binding strip. You tend to find them on looser sleeves or more casual designs – they are also easier than a ‘proper’ placket so they feature a lot on beginner shirts. Not only do I dislike them because of their cheat-factor, I actually don’t like the way they look either ?
Let’s get some proper placket-porn going, shall we?
That’s better ?
This fabric frays like YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE and if you take your eyes off it for even just a second, half a centimetre can vanish. I recommend handling fabrics like these with the kind of uber-care that you reserve for kittens. You can use some spray starch to stabilise it a bit before cutting and working with it, which sometimes I do but only if the fabric is really shifty. Test the spray starch on a scrap first though to make sure nothing untoward happens, and just for good measure – spray the back of the fabric and not the front!
I made damn sure that I wasn’t going to make the same mistake with the buttons for this shirt as I did with the last one, so out came my trusty buttonhole gauge. It’s the ‘Simflex’ one if anyone is interested, and its uh-MAZ-ing. Just don’t do what I often do and close the gauge before you’ve made the markings on both sides of the placket ?
You can chuck away the buttonhole template that comes in the pattern and space the buttons however you damn like. I like mine pretty close together, to avoid boobage-gaps.
The Melilot collar has rounded corners rather than square points – I’m usually well and truly in the Pointy Collar Camp but I thought I’d give the roundun’s a try. Not sure I’m particularly a fan… I feel it has a kind of sweet-little-librarian look. I’d rather have the piss-me-off-and-I’ll-kill-you-with-my-collar-points look ??
**As well as being a fray-fest, this fabric is also a crease-fest as the picture above demonstrates ?**
I find myself not wearing this shirt very often, possibly due to the fact that I found it shoved at the bottom of a pile the other day, out of sight. I’m gonna iron it (bleugh), hang it up, and then see if it gets worn before I decide its fate. I feel like now I’ve actually put it on the clothes rail in sight, it will probably get picked – there’s no real reason for it not to get worn, really. That fabric is kinda funky, I guess.
This shirt is a 38 graded to a size 40 at the hip, but the next one will be a 40 all over just for a bit of comfort-room – despite the fact that the dropped shoulders sometimes give me an unattractive little pooch of fabric on the back of the armpit for reasons that I don’t think I’ll ever get around to figuring out.
Despite this, the shirt fits quite well (it actually has a fairly unintrusive bust dart to help) and it’s all nice and neat and tidy on the inside with French seams. Plus, they follow my preferred method of sewing the seams in flat, and then going up the body and the sleeve seam in one go. I don’t know why patterns tell you to sew the sleeve seam before inserting the sleeve – it makes it like a bazillion times more awkward ??♀️ The hem got the usual bias tape treatment – I buy half-inch tape in a variety of colours and just choose whatever goes best with the fabric. If I’m feeling really fancy, or if nothing I have even remotely goes with the outer fabric, I might make my own. Might. If you’ve not tried bias tape on the hem of any garment that uses a standard double-fold hem, I encourage you to TRY IT RIGHT NOW. It will change your life. I promise. And not just tops either – I use this method on skirts, too ??
Look how neat it is! I would NEVER have got this level of neatness with a double fold hem. Not even close.
I’ve styled the shirt here with a skirt, but I would prefer to wear it with trousers. I have a grand total of one skirt in my wardrobe that gets worn semi-regularly, and even that’s touch and go because if I put on a few pounds it becomes super tight and therefore doesn’t get worn ??♀️? I’d be more likely to wear this shirt with a pair of black Mom jeans. Maybe I should make some ?
Saying that, things are busy here in the Wanderstitch household and I haven’t had a lot of time for me-sewing lately. Not just ‘normal’ busy, but SO SO BUSY. It’s Christmas, so we’ve got the Etsy store keeping us occupied, along with our regular jobs, obvs. We’re doing a lot of weekend markets in the local area too – there are a few regular monthly gigs that we’ve signed up to, but also there’s a lot of one-offs for Christmas, too. I’m also helping out an old friend with some finance-y stuff as well, along with the blog and playing with my new Cricut. Plus, y’know, life. I’m well behind on responding to comments and social media… I’m still alive guys, I PROMISE ? We actually found time to see Mary Poppins in the West End last week – I was disappointed ? I love the original Disney film SO much, and the version we saw was only vaguely similar. There was WAY too much new music (and nothing anywhere near as remotely good as the songs in the original), and they changed the storyline. Mrs Banks was portrayed as an airhead wifey rather than the strong character we knew from Glynis Johns. This type of thing is precisely why I refuse to watch the new live-action Lion King movie. I grew up with the original and Jeremy Irons’ sarcasm. I can’t bring myself to watch an ‘updated’ version of such a classic, which I know won’t be a patch on the original masterpiece.
ANYWAY. I’m still playing with the Cricut and will have a couple more posts coming before Christmas of things that I’ve been using it for! I’ve got some new materials for it and things that I’ve been experimenting with, so keep your eyes peeled for that ? I’ve also nearly finished my trial run of that vintage Dior coat that I bought the pattern for – MY WORD it’s labour intensive! I’ve got such a long list of things that I want to make for myself – some more Dawn jeans, a few casual shirts (I bought the Itch To Stitch Montana Shirt to try when I get time lol), plus I have a half-completed sweater that I want to finish knitting. I’ve got to that point where I’ve identified gaps in my wardrobe and I’m actually wanting to sew things because I need to wear them NOW. I’ve been wearing pretty much the same two pairs of jeans on rotation for about the last six months and I swear people at work are starting to notice ? I’ve got a nice two-week break over Christmas and new year, so I’m gonna draw up a sewing plan of two or three garments that I’d like to get completed in that time so that I can at least start the new year with some new pretties in the wardrobe ?
Do you have ebbs and flows in your sewing too? Tell me it’s not just me!
Happy Sunday guys ✌?
On the blog next week – my super-subtle By Annie Round Trip Duffle Bag! ? Subscribe below to have the post drop straight into your inbox! ??