Pattern Review // Megan Nielsen Pattern’s Axel Skirt (Version 3)

20160515-IMG_2005

… And I’m back with Part 2 of my post on the Axel Pattern! (For Part 1 of this post relating to version 2, refer here.)

Now, remember I said yesterday that I had a severe lack of me-made workwear because everything I made was too casual? If version 2 is a reflection of my current wardrobe, version 3 is the projection of what I wish my me-made collection looked like. Daring, stylish, classic and able to be sewn in less than 2 hours. That’s right folks, va-va voom version 3 took me all of half an hour of cutting and 1.5 hours of sewing on an overlocker and a sewing machine for the twin needle top stitching – that’s a winner in my books!

… Which is not to say that I didn’t have my problems with this make. This black version you see here is actually my THIRD attempt at version 3. The first try was a brown double knit (with very little stretch) which never saw the light of day as it was unbearably tight. I believe some other testers had the same feedback and Megan has since informed us that an additional 2cm of ease has been added to the final version of the pattern.

 

20160515-IMG_1992

20160515-IMG_1989 

I had grand plans for my second attempt using the leftover fabric from my Lisbon cardigan – a double-sided sweater knit with about 50% stretch. The idea was to make an Axel that was completely reversible, front and back, inside and out – AND I SUCCEEDED, only to find once I tried it on that the slit was scandalously high on me (like Jessica Rabbit high) and I didn’t quite savour the thought of accidentally blinding the world with my bum crack.

For those curious on how I did it: I used flat felled seams on the side and centre seams and used black bias binding (and exact match for my underside) for the hems. I also ironed in the seam allowances of the waistband before topstitching it on – very effective on a loose weaved knit that hides your stitches completely. This article from Colette was very helpful in pointing me towards techniques I could consider! Unfortunately this reversible dream had to go in the sin bin as I couldn’t figure out how to fix the slit issue without forgoing the reversible aspect of it completely.

20160515-IMG_199920160515-IMG_2002

Thank goodness third time’s the charm or I really would have thrown in the towel by then. Given that I’ve already given you a lengthy run down of the problems I encountered in the first 2 tries, let me give you the concise edit of what exactly I did for attempt number 3.

Fabric – Mid weight black jersey knit with 70% width wise stretch and 50% stretch along the grain. This was a much better choice than the other 2 versions – the double knit was too stiff and didn’t have enough stretch (minimum 30% recommended) and the sweater knit was too loose and had dismal recoverability.

Alterations – (1) I cut the back piece (without the slit) on fold, eliminating the seam allowance of 1.5cm. (2) I lowered the starting point of the slit by 9cm (I now realise that I could have been more daring and lowered it only by 5-7cm) and connected that point to the original hemline as shown on the pattern, resulting in a wider V-shaped slit. (3) I took 5.3cm off the bottom of the skirt to make it between knee and true midi length. (4) I narrowed the height of the waistband by half.

Fit – Most of my fit problems were alleviated by making the alterations above and taking into account the additional 2cm ease included. I’m still not quite comfortable with the length of the skirt at present so I may take a little more off the bottom in time to come!

Untitled

What I loved – How fast it easy it is, how clear the instructions are, that it’s reversible and that it’s easily customisable (with the sashes from v2 / lengthening and shortening).

All in all, I think this is a fantastic pattern and I will definitely use it again, perhaps with a higher slit this time? In the right fabric it’ll be a great workwear and casual wear staple and I can’t get over how quick and easy it is to make – perfect for a first knit / serger project! I’m already dreaming of a maxi / true midi version like this. What do you guys think of this new pattern? Do knit skirts work for you?

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Megan Nielsen’s Axel Pattern for free in exchange for helping to pattern test this pattern prior to its release. Be that as it may, my opinions, views and terrible posing above are completely my own. 

Pattern Review // Megan Nielsen Pattern’s Axel Skirt (Version 2)

20160515-IMG_188320160515-IMG_1875

Hello again! Me-made-may is back again and I’m taking part for the 2nd year running with my pledge to wear or use at least 1 handmade item a day. Last year I did weekly round-ups but as I was sick in bed for a good part of the last week, I figured I would do one big summary at the end of the entire month. Feel free to play along with me on instagram at @jessiehuen if you like! How about you guys, anyone taking part? Drop me a message below if you are and I’ll be sure to check you out (“how YOU doin’?”) on instagram or flickr!

As per usual, me-made-may is making me incredibly conscious of holes in my me-made wardrobe  – most conspicuous of which is my lack of appropriate office wear. I know I lament this EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. but it’s a sad fact of life that vast majority of patterns I have are very casual in style and anything of a more formal nature takes ages to whip up (my go to Itch to Stitch Lindy Petal Skirt excluded of course).

ENTER THIS SPANKIN’ NEW PATTERN FROM MEGAN NIELSEN: THE AXEL SKIRT.

20160515-IMG_188720160320-IMG_078620160515-IMG_1893

I had the wonderful opportunity to help pattern test Megan’s latest pattern, the Axel Skirt, earlier this year and loved the results! If Megan’s posts are anything to go by, she’s made a ton of these skirts – and now, so have I! At the current count, I’ve made up 4 of these skirts – 1 version 2 and 3 version 3s, although rightfully, 2 of these turned out to be unwearable/unintentional toiles that had to be sent to the recycling stash. I would love to talk about all 4 of them in a single post but I’ve just typed it out and realised that (as usual) I have too much to say – so look out for part 2 of this post featuring version 3 tomorrow!

My first test of the pattern was version 2 – the knee length option with the hip sashes. I thought it was really cute and on trend (check out this anthropologie beauty here) plus the shape was very similar to an existing knit skirt I have so I knew it would work for me. And… I was right! The fit for this view of the skirt was spot on for me, even with the addition of lining, and the length was appropriate for work and church – the 2 measures by which I decide if a garment is considered ‘decent’ and fit for polite company.

20160320-IMG_073320160320-IMG_0774

Fabric – I spent quite a while trying to figure out the best fabric to use for this pattern as I wanted something versatile (for maximum mix-and-matching) but not boring, and suited to the pattern design. I ended up picking this extremely lightweight mid-grey cotton jersey with a faded effect and colourful flecks sewn into the weave. The only problem was that it was wayyyy too sheer! Eventually I decided to line the entire skirt (except the sashes) using a cream poly jersey crepe to give the main fabric a bit more heft.

Alterations – None, apart from lining the skirt. I cut a size S and cut 2 of every pattern piece – 1 of the main fabric and 1 of the lining, apart from the hip sashes. I didn’t baste the main pieces and linings together as I was wary of causing any pulling in the main fabric, but I treated both lining as main fabric as a single piece and constructed the skirt as set out in the instructions. I even lined the waistband as I was sure that the main fabric without any elastic wouldn’t be sufficient to hold up the weight of the skirt. If I had to remake this skirt using the same fabric, I would probably have inserted wide elastic into the waistband to provide more support.

Fit – As I mentioned the fit was spot on, although it gets just a tad too tight after too much snacking. My only peeve was that the sashes if attached at the hip (as indicated in the pattern) and tied in front, eventually end up too low as the fabric stretches as the day goes on. I would probably try to attach them to the waistband or across the waistband and hip the next time. One other change I would make would be to narrow the waistband as my short and thick waist means that wide waistbands can end up looking stumpy on me.

What I loved: That it’s reversible, what a quick and easy make this was and how easy it is to wear. My preference is to wear it with tops tucked in – in fact I paired it with this self drafted peter pan collared top (below) to give you an idea of how it might look with Megan’s recently released Sudley top! Elegant, non? MOST IMPORTANTLY, how effective the hip sashes are at hiding my 12 week old food baby!

Now, if you’re still up for it, head on over to Part 2 to read more about my thoughts on version 3 of the Axel pattern!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Megan Nielsen’s Axel Pattern for free in exchange for helping to pattern test this pattern prior to its release. Be that as it may, my opinions, views and terrible posing above are completely my own. 

Pattern Testing // Itch to Stich Lisbon Cardigan

20160501-IMG_1770

When I was younger, my vision of the ideal preppy-chic outfit was a cardigan thrown casually over a tank top and skirt, a la Cher in Clueless or Britney Spears (when parents still approved of her). In fact, the cardigan and jeans look is still my go-to outfit when I don’t want to think about what to wear but need to look put together, like on Casual Fridays for example. Naturally, a me-made cardigan has been on my to-make list for simply ages and up till recently, I thought it would be a Seamwork Oslo Cardigan that would eventually enter my wardrobe rotation… until Kennis put out a tester call for her brand new pattern, the Lisbon Cardigan that is.

I’ve tested for Kennis of Itch to Stitch several times now, and each time is always a great experience. She expects faster turn around times than other testers (usually a week from the time the tester pattern is sent till the photographs of the finished product and comments are due), but is always sure to give you ample notice of the necessary deadlines and is always on standby to answer any fit questions you may have during the process. This round, I was working on a very tight timeline given my trip to Yogyakarta over the May Day weekend – but when I saw her initial test photos for the Lisbon cardigan I couldn’t say no!

20160501-IMG_173020160501-IMG_179020160501-IMG_172820160501-IMG_1741

The Lisbon Cardigan is a classic round-neck cardigan pattern that comes in cropped or regular length and 3/4 or full length sleeves. The neckline, hem and sleeves are finished with hem bands / cuffs and stable knits with a minimum of 50% stretch are recommend for this pattern.

The version I made was the regular length with full length sleeves, made in a stable sweater knit with about 50% stretch which I bought from a favourite local online knit shop of mine – SewManyKnits. It’s a wonderful double sided knit with grey and black stripes on one side and solid black on the other. After doing some research into ready to wear options herehere and here, I decided to go with the stripes for the main body and black for the cuffs – I think it’s a nice contrast and classy enough for both work and casual wear, don’t you?

This make was completely constructed on my serger (my new beloved Juki which I have yet to blog about!) except for the buttonholes (by machine) and  the buttons and tails of the serged placket (both of which were sewn by hand). All in, it was such a quick make – 4 hours in all from the cutting to the sewing on of the buttons! Putting together the pdf pattern was also a breeze as Kennis (as is her practice) has included a layered option which allows you to select your size prior to printing.

 20160501-IMG_178620160501-IMG_175420160501-IMG_178520160501-IMG_1797

Whilst I love the option of having a fitted cardigan, my preference is to leave all my cardigan unbuttoned – the only practical choice when living in a tropical country. I’ve had a sneaky peek at several of the other testers’ makes, however, and am pleased to report that almost all of them had a perfect fit right out of the envelope! There was some feedback in the tester group about needing to shorten the length of the 3/4 sleeves, but I believe that has been fixed in the final version of the pattern. If you happen to have regular problems with pattern sleeve lengths, I would recommend that you check the sleeve length before attaching the cuffs.

If you’ve been looking for a cardigan pattern of this style (or any fitted cardigan pattern at all really), I would highly highly recommend the Lisbon cardigan. I’m planning to make several more iterations of it myself, possibly in the cropped length with a V-neck and another in a boyfriend cardigan length – after all, when one finds a TNT pattern, one must exploit it for all it’s worth, right? P.S. Kennis will be offering a 20% discount on the Lisbon cardigan pattern for the first week, so make sure you snap it up soon while it’s still on offer!

Disclaimer: I was provided this pattern free of charge to assist in the testing process. My opinions above however (as always) are completely my own. I am also part of an affiliate program run by Itch to Stitch for any purchases made by clicking through from my site. 

I’ve Moved! Still Sew Fabulous but now at Huenmade.com!

FullSizeRender

Hello from Yogyakarta (& Mount Merapi)! I’ve got a big announcement today which has been a good 6 months in the making… that’s right, JessSewFabulous is now Huenmade.com!

Why “Huenmade” you might ask? Apart from the fact that it was somewhat embarrassing whenever I disclosed my blog URL to strangers (it’s equal parts punny and humiliating…) and my surname when mispronounced (the only persons who pronounce it correctly are my relatives and boyfriend) sounds somewhat like “hand” – I wanted a more generic blog title to represent all the different forms of creating / making that I enjoy!

Half a year ago, I took stock of where I intend to go with this blog and my sewing career. One of the things I decided was that I wanted to be more intentional with my blogging (writing and reading were my first hobbies after all!) and to create a home for documenting all the different forms of creating / making that I’ve picked up over the years – writing, sewing, crafting, calligraphy and photography. I’m conscious that the bulk of you – friends and readers – have been here to follow my sewing journey and that you’d prefer to keep this space exclusively for posts about sewing. If that’s the case, fret not! I have no aspirations to turn this into a lifestyle blog – my focus will still be on sewing, but I plan to throw in posts about my other making hobbies on a monthly basis, which hopefully will be a good balance!

On an aside, I’ve also made the move from wordpress to squarespace, so unfortunately I will no longer be able to access the wonderful wordpress community or have my posts seen on it – I will miss you guys! If you like my posts and want to follow along, do follow me on Bloglovin’ (search Huenmade.com!), on instagram (@jessiehuen) or sign up for email updates! I would love to keep in touch so fee free to drop me a comment or like a post anytime!

That’s all I have for you guys for today, it’s been a good run as JessSewFabulous but here’s to bigger and better things on Huenmade.com! See you on the flip side!