Torrens Times Two

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So when life gives you lemons, the accepted wisdom is to whip up a batch of lemonade yes? (or in my case, slice one & add to a G&T). Here in Auckland life is giving us day after day of blue sky, heat & humidity. While it’s churlish to complain (you can totally throw this back at me when I’m moaning about the cold and rain in July) , over 40 days without rain is a national record. I draw the line at watering grass , but I have been out watering our new garden, those plants costs a fortune, it would be to awful to watch them all die. Lets see if I’m still thinking that when the next water bill comes in shall we…

Anyway, the coolest room in our house is my sewing room, so guess where I’ve been holed up?

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Behold, a couple of new tops. I was so pleased with my first Torrens Box Top that I decided to make a couple more, adding a contrast sleeve detail, inspired by this RTW top of my sisters.

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I cut out same size as my previous Torrens top, just changing out the fabric for the sleeve piece, cutting on the selvage as per the pattern.

The fabric is gorgeous linen from The Fabric Store, I think the colour is Brick? It’s a lovely rich red with a brown base. The sleeve detail is a mystery vintage fabric I got from my sister’s deep, or in her case, endless, stash. I love the colour and print, but it feels very poly, (I wouldn’t stand anywhere near a naked flame!) Not something I would wear as a full garment, especially in the heat, but perfect for adding an accent. The linen was giving a slightly more structured feel than my previous rayon version, so the floppy sleeve is a nice contrast.

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Because it was so slippery, not the most fun to attach, thankfully the linen at least was nice & stable. And wine.

It was basically a race to see who would win, me attaching the sleeve, or the sleeve fraying into nothingness. I won, yessss! The method of sleeve attachment is pretty different, but having done it a couple of time, I can see how well it works. I’m not a speedy sewist but even I can make one of these tops in an afternoon.

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This was the beginning, you can imagine what the fray was like at the end…

The neckline facing has a couple of small ripples, I’ve run out of my favorite interfacing and the shop that stocked it has closed, boo. So I’m using a very much inferior version that does not stay ironed onto the fabric (despite having the iron at just under nuclear). To be honest, while it’s annoying, I’m not going to lose sleep, hopefully your looking at the sleeves instead?

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Photobomb central…

My other version is in a sunny Tangerine crepe from Miss Maude, sadly this colour has sold out, but there are several others I have my eye on (the Ochre for Autumn is calling to me). The softness of the fabric gives a different silhouette to this one, so for the contrast sleeve I used a rayon from Spotlight . I made a second Springfield top from this fabric, it’s heavier than the standard rayon, with a lovely sheen, I couldn’t bear to throw my scraps out. The weight of the sleeve was a nice contrast to the drape of the crepe.

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Two tops, one I can’t wait to wear to work, one that is perfect for the weekend, result! Such a good pattern , I’m already thinking a contrast hem band would be really cute too.

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Winning at life & sleeves…

I’m not sure Tuppence fully approves however…

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Little Miss Judgey 

So what else has been occurring at Plum Towers?

When not in my sewing room I’ve been sitting under the air con glued to The Stranger on Netflix. Have you seen it? If not please immediately move away from this blog & watch, its FAB! And Richard Armitage…need I say more?

Also enjoying the air con at the cinema watching Emma, what a delight. The costumes are glorious, and Johnny Flynns Mr Knightly is a hero we all need. I had thought Toby Stephens’ Mr Rochester was my favorite Austin bloke but I think his crown has been challenged…

I’ve just finished The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, great read, a modern Agatha Christie locked room mystery, she has a new book coming out on my birthday, guess what will be on my gift list

So it seems even when I’m not sewing I spend a lot of time sitting around on my backside?!

Hopefully where ever you are the weather is amenable, if not, treat it as a perfect excuse to get into your sewing space. I can recommend it , especially with a G&T 🙂

Have a great week

Kristina x

 

A Harrison shirt to begin…

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Just proving I really can lift my arm, the sleeve fits!

Well look at me, a new shirt and a new blog, all in one week! Now I will fess up, this isn’t technically my first shirt make. I made a Colette Negroni shirt for Mr PK a few months ago (post to come). While it’s far from perfect (unless twisted plackets become a “thing”, in which case I’m ahead of the game) it has proved a hit , worn regularly through winter.

But here’s the thing, my man is basically a walking mannequin. By that I mean he is such a standard menswear shape he can wear almost any RTW item with no alteration required. Tall and  lean, I didn’t really have any fit challenges with his shirt. My shape? Now that’s a whole new ball game kids…curves, bumps, squishy bits, flatter bits, its a virtual Himalayas for what is already a complicated piece of clothing to negotiate!

Hence, I haven’t actually worn shirts for years. A combination of generous chest , narrow shoulders and shall we say “lush” biceps mean unless I’m happy to flash my bra through a gaping bust or risk my arms falling off from lack of oxygen , they are a no go.

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No gaping here thanks…

But no longer *insert wobbly but awesome arm fist-pump here,  yeow!!*. The very clever Jenny at the curvy girl nirvana that is  Cashmerette has come up with a gorgeous shirt that uses princess seams to create fit and room where its needed, without billows of fabric everywhere you dont.

I used the paper pattern (it also comes as a PDF) , which I traced off onto Swedish tracing paper. Currently I get this sent from the UK, but hopefully I can find a New Zealand supplier soon. It is so easy to use, I cut the pattern a size 18, but graded up to a size 20 for the sleeves. While its does look like a lot of pieces, it comes together quite easily, not least because of the GREAT instruction booklet.

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Clear instructions

For less experienced sewers like me, clear precise instructions, both written and pictorial are essential. I have spent many years cooking and baking, including writing a food blog and teaching cooking classes, and one thing I’ve noticed is how a newbie will almost always blame themselves if a recipe fails. Now forgetting the eggs is going to make a cake a challenge to rise (??!) but I’ve also seen some seriously crapola recipes, with missing ingredients, confused or missing instructions and incorrect proportions that would be a challenge for anyone, experienced or not, to create successfully. Something as complex as a shirt needs a darn fine recipe, and the Harrison is a cracker.

The princess seams come together without too much drama *, as does the collar and stand, even the placket instructions are simple (I’ve ditched the twisted look for Summer 17). I used a soft cotton voile, which was nice and easy to sew, overlocking (serging) my seams . Obviously I made no attempt at pattern matching , I’m more wild flower meadow kind of girl anyway ….

So, the curvy:

Harrison shirt by Cashmerette

Size: 18, but I cut out size 20 sleeves

Fabric: Cotton voile from Spotlight

Difficulty: This wasn’t actually that difficult, the instructions are good, I think its a case of taking things slowly and not rushing the process. I hardly used my quick unpick, aside from a missed bit of the cuff seam when top stitching, which is great.

Next time: I would make the sleeve approx 2 cm shorter, they feel a wee bit long, and I would tighten the cuffs up.

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Hmmm, a wee bit long, a wee bit loose

Fuel: This make was fueled by coffee (my sister left her Nespresso with us for a few weeks after Xmas!) , Xmas ham and episodes of Foyles War , those fabulous 40’s dresses…..

Will there be a sequel? Heck yes, I’m thinking rayon and linen versions….for starters…AND there is now also a shirtdress version , happy dance!

*** Open Kimono***

Ok, in the interests of full disclosure , I can confirm I made a load of absolute cock ups on this sew, all fully operator error (actually I blame my cat Tommy for distracting me constantly……)

Cutting out the wrong sized sleeve, despite having measured myself carefully

Stitching my seam on the outside of two of my front panels

Running out of fabric after above….

Ironing my interfacing on the right side of one of my collar pieces (really!!)

Cutting the bottom off my button front an inch too short

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Hmmm, sewing impediment Numero Uno

Are you a shirt maker? What works for you, I’d love to hear!

Kristina xxx