Don't Be Scared of Knits: Grainline Studio's Lark Tee

Yay - I've got a sewing project to show you! Here's my finished Grainline Studio Lark Tee in our Rebecca white cotton jersey (which I talked about in my last blog post):

I absolutely love it!  The fabric was such a pleasure to sew with: it stitched well, it was pretty stable and firm under my presser foot, and it was easy to press.  It's also such a pleasure to wear: so, so soft!  I also love that, while it's white, it's pretty opaque.  You can't really see my very ugly nursing bra underneath it (phew!).  

I have to admit that I don't have a huge amount of experience sewing with knits: in the past, I have definitely gravitated more towards wovens.  So, I did question my sanity as I started the project as to why, after a bit of break from sewing, I decided to sew a t-shirt.  My fears quickly disappeared as I got started, though, thanks to a well-designed pattern, great instructions (including Grainline Studio's sewalong), and choosing a very-easy-to-sew knit. 

Why a t-shirt?  I suppose it seems a bit of weird choice, but I don't currently have a lot of knit tops and - with my more casual, baby-centric lifestyle now - it's a hole in my wardrobe that definitely needs filling!  I really love these recent looks by Jennifer Aniston and Selena Gomez.  Now that it's cold, I'm planning to wear my tee with cosy long cardigans.  :-)

These images (and those below) were featured in the past few months on my favourite fashion blogs.  You'll find links to the original images/articles on my Pinterest board 'Things I'd Like to Make - AW17/18'.

 

I'm also planning to make a long-sleeved Lark Tee in our Rosalie black viscose jersey - as well as a dress in our Vivianne black and white striped cotton jersey.  Here's some of the images that have inspired these (upcoming!) makes:

Ditto the last caption: find the original images on this Pinterest board, 'Things I'd Like to Make - AW17/18'.

 

If you're at all nervous about sewing with knits, I highly recommend Grainline's Lark Tee and our Rebecca cotton jersey (which will be coming in after Christmas in more colours): it's a great starter project!  If you've never sewn with knits before, I think you'll be surprised at how similar they are to sewing with wovens.  There are a few key differences, though:

  • Knit fabrics don't have selvedges.  Most knits come off a knitting machine as a cylindrical tube, and are cut open lengthwise so that they can be put on a bolt or roll.  You can't assume that that the cut is on-grain.  So, you need to lay out the fabric differently to make sure that your pattern pieces are cut on-grain.  I love Tasia's instructions for doing this, which you can see here.  This is how I cut my knits.  
  • You don't need a serger/overlocker machine - or a coverstitch machine - to sew knits!  You can just use your regular sewing machine (which is what I do!).  However, you do need to use slightly different needles and stitches than you would with wovens.  I love Tilly's guide to sewing knit fabrics on a regular sewing machine: it gives all the instructions you need to jump into your first project!  With regard to doing hems on a regular sewing machine, I love Patterns for Pirates' tips for using a twin needle.  

I'm pretty pleased with my twin-needle hems (and my neckband!).  For the hems, I followed the instructions provided by Patterns for Pirates to a T: I dialled up the top thread tension, chose a long stitch length, and sewed very, very slowly (which was very, very painful - I'm a bit of a speed demon when I sew!). :-)

 

As mentioned above, I just use my regular sewing machine to sew knits. As I've so rarely sewn with knits in the past and I've always been happy with the finish I've achieved with my regular sewing machine, I've never bothered to invest in an overlocker.  However, this was before I had a baby.  I have to say that I am definitely wearing more knits now (oh so comfy and easy-to-care-for!) and have a few knit patterns in my sewing queue at the moment.  So, I might need to add an overlocker to my birthday wish list this year.  ;-)  

As I mentioned above, this was a pretty easy pattern to sew.  Grainline Studio's instructions are excellent and it was nice to be able to refer to the sewalong for added advice and tips (particularly when doing the neckband).  

As for the fit, I'm pretty pleased with this too.  Those of you who read my previous blog post will know that I had a bit of a protracted adventure fitting this pattern.  To make a long story short, I originally did what I used to do prior to having a baby: I chose my pattern size based on my high bust measurement (size 6) and did an FBA (full bust adjustment).  However, the toile ended up being far too narrow across my upper chest.  So, I ended up sewing another toile in the size that accorded with my bust measurement (size 10) and this fit pretty well. So I decided just to do a straight size 10.  The only other alterations I did were some length adjustments, as I'm only 5' 3.5" and very short-waisted: I took out 1" between the shoulders and the armpit, 1" between the armpit and the waist, and 1.75" between the waist and the hem.   

As I've previously mentioned, I'm pretty pleased with the fit.  My one major niggle are the folds of fabric above the bust (if I stand squarely and make sure the t-shirt is sitting on me properly, I have folds on each side above the bust which look like the fold on the right-hand side of the photo below). I'm not 100% sure what these folds are telling me.  That I need a small FBA?  Or are these just an inevitable result of having a larger cup size and no darts?  If anyone has any insight, please do let me know in the comments section below!  

If you'd like to make your own t-shirt, I've created a 'Sew a T-Shirt' page on our website, where you'll find some suggested patterns and fabrics!  You'll find this in our new 'Inspiration' section (which I'll be introducing on the blog shortly).  

 

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December 13, 2017 by Amy Lloyd

Fashion Trends for Autumn/Winter 2015

I don't usually have much time to go shopping, but I had a brief window of opportunity last weekend to look round the shops in Glasgow.  The two things at the top of my shopping list at present are boots and a winter coat (and crazy tights - more on that later!).  Before going shopping, it occurred to me that I'd recently posted articles on Twitter about the latest trends in coats and shoes.  I then tried to find these articles... a process that ended up being more time-consuming than I'd anticipated (I've posted a lot of articles on Twitter over the last few months!). It then struck me that it might be a good idea to start a Pinterest board with these articles - to make them easier to find in the future.  So, that's what I've now done!  :-)  You can find the board here.

View The Splendid Stitch's board 'Favourite Fashion Articles' on Pinterest.

What kind of articles will you find on this board?  They're mainly of three types:

  • articles related to the latest fashion trends
  • articles on planning individual outfits
  • articles on planning your overall wardrobe

I've gone back through my Twitter feed and have added my favourite articles from the last few months to the board.  I'll be adding new articles somewhat regularly from now on. 

I'm certainly going to find it useful - and I hope that some of you will as well!  It turns out that I have two articles on shoes and two articles on coats/jackets to look through.  :-)

On the subject of fashion and Pinterest, some of you may have noticed that I have a whole board devoted to the Autumn/Winter 2015 ready-to-wear collections.  There are 270 images on it!  These are all images that featured in the August and September issues of a number of popular UK fashion magazines.  On Pinterest, I also have boards related to particular items of clothing (for example, a whole board on 'Skirts').  I've almost finished copying over the images on the Autumn/Winter 2015 board to these other boards.  Hopefully I'll get that done in the next week.

View The Splendid Stitch's board 'Autumn/Winter 2015 Ready-To-Wear Collections' on Pinterest.

Outfits from the Autumn/Winter collections have started being featured in our 'Outfits of the Week'. This week, we've got looks from Saint Laurent and Versace. The two patterns I've chosen for recreating these looks are Named's Sloane sweatshirt and McCall's 3830 pencil skirt.  I'm going to be doing a separate 'Pattern Spotlight' blog post on 3830 in the next few days: it's another really popular pattern!  To find out more about this week's outfit - and to see the patterns and the recommended fabrics - click here.

 

Inspiration images from here and here

Inspiration images from here and here 

Inspiration image from here

Last week's outfit featured Tilly and the Buttons' Francoise dress.  My favourite look was inspired by a dress by Christian Dior.  Oh my goodness - those boots!  Ok - I'm not going to buy boots like these (I'd hate to think how much they cost!).  However, I have added 'crazy tights' to my shopping list.  :-) 

 

Inspiration image from here

Regular blog readers might now be thinking, 'Did Amy blog about this outfit?'.  The answer is 'no'.  Unfortunately, things were stupendously busy last week and I didn't have time to write a blog post - my apologies.  :-(  For those of you who missed seeing this on the website last week, here are the other looks from last week's 'Outfit of the Week'.  You can find out more about the outfit here.

 

Inspiration images from here and here 

Inspiration images from here and here 

Inspiration image from here 

 

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October 23, 2015 by Amy Lloyd

What Do You Call This?

As many of you know, I grew up in Canada and have been living in the UK for almost eleven years (wow - can't believe it's been that long!).  One of the things I have struggled with over the years is using the right words.  There are many British words that I now use all the time - shopping trolley, pushchair, queue, nappy, lift, etc.  However, there are some Canadian words that I still use regularly - for example, 'sidewalk' (for 'pavement') and 'trunk' (for 'boot').  There are also words that I'm really confused about - holiday/vacation, supermarket/grocery store, garbage/rubbish, etc.  Are they interchangeable here?  I've also had some really embarrassing moments - particularly in my first year here, when I was doing a Master's degree.  One incident occurred when I arrived late to a tutorial: I explained afterwards to the tutor and my classmates that I'd been 'rear-ended' while biking to class.  In Canada, to be 'rear-ended' is a type of traffic accident (usually involving cars - it's when one car goes into the back of another car).  I was absolutely mortified a few days later when someone kindly explained to me that the term is not used in the same way here!  I also designed and made costumes for a theatre company during this year, and yelled across a room to one of the actors, 'What's your pants size?'.  The whole room went silent, the actor turned bright red, and I suddenly realised my mistake.  Oops.  LOL!

Recently, I found myself stumped again. What do you call this - the black thing she's wearing?

 

Image from here

In Canada, it's called a 'vest'.  I have a vague awareness that, here, 'vest' is used to refer to something you wear under your clothes.  So, it's not called a 'vest' in the UK.  But what is it called?  I then started searching the internet and found that there doesn't seem to be a standard term.  Some sites call it a 'waistcoat', others a 'sleeveless jacket' or 'sleeveless blazer'.  I've decided to go with sleeveless jacket.  I hope that's okay with everyone!

I've seen so many sleeveless jackets in the fashion blogosphere in the last year!  Initially, when I started seeing them, I have to admit that I shuddered, recalling the 'vests' I used to wear in the early 1990s.  Remember these?!

Jessie in 'Saved by the Bell'; image from here

 

I do!  I still fondly remember a red plaid one I got from Gap when I was 11, back in 1992...

Whether you remember them with horror or nostalgia (or not at all!), the sleeveless jackets that are in style right now are very different from those worn in the early 1990s: they're longer (usually mid-thigh to below the knee) and often in solid, neutral colours and with lapels.  The more I've seen of them, the more I've warmed to them.  They're a nice, stylish alternative to cardigans and jackets - and perfect for throwing on in the autumn, either as a piece of outerwear on warmer days or to keep you warm inside.

They look great overtop of jeans (fitted or boyfriend-style) and a knit top:

 

Images from here, here and here

They also look good over jeans (fitted or boyfriend-style) and a shirt:

 

Images from here and here

Finally, they look great over sheath and shift dresses:

 

Images from here, here and here

 

I've chosen a sleeveless jacket pattern for this week's 'Outfit of the Week'.  It's Vogue 9065.

It's a lined sleeveless jacket with two length options, a notched collar, side pockets and topstitching. This is an easy-to-sew pattern, so it should be a quick and easy sew for more experienced sewers and a good first jacket project for beginner sewers. 

 

This pattern works with lots of different kinds of fabric, including crepe, suiting fabricsponte di roma and lightweight denim.  To see my fabric recommendations, have a look at this week's 'Outfit of the Week'.

Another sleeveless jacket pattern that we have in stock is By Hand London's Victoria blazer.  As many of you will know, By Hand London is no longer producing paper patterns.  However, we still have a few of their paper patterns in stock - including the Victoria blazer.

 

Do you like sleeveless blazers?  Have you worn one before? 

 

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September 11, 2015 by Amy Lloyd

The Versatile Button-Up Shirt

As this week's 'Outfit of the Week' is Grainline Studio's Archer shirt paired with Sewaholic Patterns' Thurlow shorts, I thought I would devote a blog post to the humble button-up shirt.  This is such a great wardrobe staple!  It is also one that is really popular at the moment. 

Button-up shirts can be styled so many different ways!

Wearing one with (distressed) skinny jeans is a great look.  You can wear the shirt tucked, untucked or partially tucked.  (Another quick styling trick: you'll probably notice in many of the images below that the fashion blogger has rolled her sleeves!)

 

Images clockwise from top left-hand corner: from here, here, here and here

 

Another popular style is wearing one with rolled-up, boyfriend-style, (distressed) skinny jeans. Images clockwise from top left-hand corner: from here, here, here and here

 

I'm really loving the flared and wide-legged styles of trousers that we're now seeing.  A button-up shirt looks great with this style of trousers!  

Images clockwise from top left-hand corner: from here, here, here and here

 

Button-up shirts also work well tucked into skirts.  Particularly popular at the moment is wearing one with a denim skirt: 

Images clockwise from top left-hand corner: from here, here, here and here

 

Finally, as is suggested by this week's 'Outfit of the Week', button-up shirts pair well with shorts!  This week's outfit is Grainline Studio's Archer shirt paired with Sewaholic Patterns' Thurlow shorts.  Archer is pictured below in some of our poplins and shirting fabrics, and Thurlow is pictured in some of our denims and cotton sateens. 

 Inspiration images from here and here 

 

Inspiration images from here and here

 

Inspiration images from here, here, here and here

 

To find out more about this week's 'Outfit of the Week' - and to see the patterns and recommended fabrics - click here.

With regard to fabrics for making shirts, we've got loads!  To see all of our shirting-appropriate fabrics, click here.  Of particular note are our really lovely, high-quality, made-in-England Spencer shirtings.  These come from a specialist shirting supplier who also supplies some of the shirtmakers on Jermyn Street in London!  Our regular Spencer shirting (which we've got in black and white) is a beautiful, fine fabric with a lovely silky feel.  We've also got a pinpoint shirting in our Spencer range (in light blue and white).  This is slightly thicker and - due to its pinpoint weave - has a slightly more casual look. 

Finally, with regard to shirt patterns, there are so many great ones out there!  For this week's 'Outfit of the Week', I selected Archer by Grainline Studio.  It's is a loosely-fitted button-up shirt with a yoke and pockets.  While the pattern itself has sleeves, there is a tutorial on Grainline's website for making it sleeveless.  It's an extremely popular shirt pattern, with 100 reviews and counting on PatternReview.com!  It's also very well-reviewed: of those who rated the pattern, 98% gave the pattern a positive rating!  Finally, Grainline Studio also has a very detailed sewalong on their website for making the shirt.  So, you really can't go wrong with Archer!

 

Archer isn't the only shirt pattern that we stock, though.  If you're looking for a more fitted shirt, you may want to have a look at Sewaholic's Granville shirt.  Another option is Burda's 7136 shirt, which has proper sleeve plackets and an optional pin-tucked bib!  Finally, there's Named's Wenona shirt pattern, which has some interesting design details and can also be made into a shirtdress (very versatile!).

Images clockwise from top left-hand corner: Sewaholic's Granville shirt; Burda's 7136 shirt; Named's Wenona shirtdress and shirt

 

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August 09, 2015 by Amy Lloyd

New Trends, New Patterns!

Earlier this week, I took delivery of some new patterns from McCall's, Vogue and Burda, and I put them on the website on Friday.  Some of you are probably wondering how I select the sewing patterns I sell - as I don't sell every pattern produced by the different brands I stock - so I thought it might be worth writing a blog post in which I explain my buying strategy.

As most of you will know, there are literally thousands of womenswear patterns that are available to home sewers today.  Vogue, alone, has 213 dress patterns on its website!  213 dresses!  I started sewing in the early 1990s.  Even then - without all the independent pattern companies that we have nowadays - I sometimes found the amount of choice overwhelming.  What should I sew?  What's currently in style?  What will suit me?  I would pour over the pattern catalogues in my local fabric store, plagued by indecision.  The advent of the internet in some ways made it easier to choose my sewing projects: I was now able to browse the patterns at home at my leisure, look up reviews, draw inspiration from blogs, etc.  However, all of that research takes time.  And, in my previous career, I did not have an abundance of free time.

I had all of these considerations in mind when I started The Splendid Stitch. My aim is to provide you with a carefully-curated selection of patterns that are either (a) recent releases from the independent pattern companies we stock; or (b) patterns that are in tune with current fashion trends.  I also aim to buy patterns that are well-reviewed (unless they are new and/or don't have many reviews).  Essentially, I want you to be able to visit the pattern pages of The Splendid Stitch and know that what you're seeing is generally on-trend and well-reviewed.

So, we're never going to carry every single pattern produced by Vogue, McCall's or Burda.  However, we do carry a small selection of their on-trend patterns.  How do I do my buying?  Every few weeks, I evaluate the trends that I'm seeing in the fashion blogs and magazines that I read versus what I'm selling.  I then trawl through the catalogues of the pattern companies that I stock, on the hunt for patterns that will help you to sew the latest trends.  I did this last week and the result is the patterns that I added this week!

What's been added?  You can see all of the new patterns here.  Here are some highlights!

Off-the-shoulder dresses and tops are really popular at the moment.

Let's look first at dresses:

Images clockwise from top left-hand corner: from here, here, here and here

 

For this trend, I've added Vogue's 1379 dress, which is designed by Tracy Reese!  Okay - it's not 100% off-the-shoulder.  However, it's the best-reviewed, closest-to-the-trend dress I could find.  And it's pretty close!  It can be made in both jersey and woven fabrics (including crepe), and we've got lots of jerseys and crepes that would work well!  (Also, just to note: I was initially a little surprised by the armholes of this dress - they seem very low - but it turns out that the dress has an integrated camisole, so you won't have any worries about flashing your bra!)

 

Now, let's look at the off-the-shoulder tops:

Images clockwise from top left-hand corner: from here, here, here and here

 

For this trend, I've added McCall's 7163.  The recommended fabrics for this pattern are light- to medium-weight wovens, including voile, crepe and challis.  I'm sure that this pattern could also easily be lengthened to make a dress.  :-) 

On to the next trend... I've been trying to find a pattern for a button-up-the-front denim skirt - to no avail.  These are really popular at the moment! 

Images clockwise from top left-hand corner: from here, here, here and here

 

Do any of you know of a pattern company that sells a similar pattern? 

We do stock a few patterns for making regular denim skirts.  First, there's Grainline Studio's Moss skirtBurda also has a denim skirt (6769), which is one of our new patterns.  Tilly and the Buttons also has a skirt (Arielle) that has buttons running up side.

From left to right: Grainline Studio's Moss skirt; Burda's 6769 skirt; Tilly and the Buttons' Arielle skirt

 

We've got some really nice denims that would work well for making these skirts.

Unfitted, flowy dresses have also been popping up a lot on fashion blogs recently.

Images clockwise from top left-hand corner: from here, here, here and here

  

For this trend, I've added Burda's 7200 dress, which can be made in jersey and lightweight woven fabrics (like cotton and crepe).  I think this would look fabulous in some of our jerseys, crepes and cotton voiles!

  

Last - but not least! - there's this week's 'Outfit of the Week'.  It's McCall's 6744 - another new pattern!

 

This is a quick-and-easy knit dress pattern.  It's very popular, with 49 reviews on PatternReview.com.  It's also extremely well-reviewed: 96% of those who rated the pattern gave it a positive rating!  Finally, McCall's has rated it as an 'easy' pattern.  So, if you're looking for an easy-to-sew, comfy, stylish knit dress, you should definitely have a look at this pattern!

Inspiration images from here and here

Inspiration images from here and here 

 

In the images above, it's shown in some of our jerseys.  To find out more about this week's 'Outfit of the Week' - and to see the pattern and all of the recommended fabrics - click here.

 

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August 02, 2015 by Amy Lloyd

No Time to Sew (Plus Striped Tops Galore!)

It's been ages since I wrote a proper blog post!  I think it's now high-time that I inject some life into this blog!  I have to admit that I've been a bit flummoxed over the last few weeks regarding what to do with the blog.  My original plan was that I would be sewing regularly using fabrics and patterns from The Splendid Stitch, and that I would blog about my latest creations.  However, this sadly hasn't happened.  I've found since I opened that I have very little time at work to do any sewing.  The routine tasks of creating content for the website, fulfilling orders, answering emails, ordering stock, keeping up with social media, etc. more than fill up the week!  Many a time, I've looked over longingly at my sewing machine sitting in the corner - gathering dust. Meanwhile, to my frustration, many an evening and weekend have I sat at home twiddling my thumbs, wishing I had my sewing machine with me so that I could do some sewing...

So, I've reached a decision: I'm going to bring my sewing machine and most of my personal sewing supplies and equipment home.  I had been a bit resistant towards doing this over the last few months, as it seemed like, if I started sewing at home, then I would simply be working on the business round the clock.  However, having thought about this, sewing for me is a hobby: something that I really enjoy doing.  As long as I sew at my own pace and work on projects that I really want to sew and wear, then sewing at home shouldn't feel like I am simply working on my business all the time with no break.  

Coming home... My much-loved 'Very Useful Box' which stores some of my sewing supplies.  I keep this next to my sewing machine.  Very handy!

 

So, that's the plan.  :-)  Hopefully some completed garments will start to show up on the blog in the coming weeks. 

In the meantime, I've come up with other ideas for the blog - starting with posts relating to our 'Outfit of the Week'!

So, this week's 'Outfit of the Week' is Vogue's 8536 knit top and Named's Sara leggings. Striped knit tops are a popular item of clothing on fashion blogs at the moment.  I've actually got a whole Pinterest board devoted to them!  They look great with lots of items of clothing (you'll find some inspiration images later in this post!).  I've sourced some lovely, high-quality striped knits from a German company.  They either meet Oeko-Tex Standard 100 or are GOTS certified.  They're a little pricey, but you're paying for their quality and the environmentally-friendly manner in which they've been produced. 

 

I've chosen Vogue's 8536 knit top, as it's a classic - and very popular - knit top pattern.  I hemmed and hawed between this pattern and Grainline Scout tee (which can be made in knits and woven fabrics).  As I'd just featured a Grainline pattern the previous week, I ultimately decided to go with the Vogue top.  They both give different looks.  If you're looking for a fitted top, go with Vogue's pattern.  If you're wanting a looser top, go with Grainline's.  Another worthy contender is Tilly's new Agnes knit top pattern!  Grainline also has a free long-sleeved, loose-fit t-shirt pattern, the Hemlock tee.

Clockwise from top left-hand corner: Vogue 8536; Grainline Scout tee (in a knit); Grainline's Hemlock tee; Tilly and the Buttons Agnes knit top

 

I've paired the Vogue knit top with Named's Sara leggings.  I love this pattern: so edgy looking with the exposed zippers!  We've got a number of stretch sateens and denims that would work well with this pattern. 

 

Here's what these patterns look like in our fabrics (with some inspiration images!):

Outfit 1: Navy and white viscose knit; Leonore black sateen.  Outfit 2: Cream and grey striped cotton knit; Leonore red sateen. Inspiration images from here and here.

 

Outfit 3: Navy and white striped cotton knit and Leonore white sateen.  Outfit 4: Navy and white viscose knit and Sandrine navy stretch denim. Inspiration images from here and here.

 

To see all of the fabrics, click here.

Of course, as I mentioned previously, striped tops look great with lots of different bottoms.  How about wearing a striped top with:

A denim skirt?

From left to right: inspiration image; Tilly and the Button's Arielle skirt pattern; Grainline Studio's Moss skirt pattern; Sandrine navy stretch denim; Sydney dark navy stretch denim

 

Jeans or denim shorts?

Images from here: image 1; image 2; image 3; image 4

 

Lots of possibilities!  I'm planning to get in more striped knits over the coming weeks.  :-)

To read more about our outfit of the week - and to see the patterns and fabrics - click here.

 

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June 26, 2015 by Amy Lloyd