Musings on sewing in a lockdown plus ten recommended patterns

Looking back at my last post in May 2020, I have spotted a slight pattern. It seems we get a couple of months into a lockdown and I get a random burst of inspiration to write a blog post.

All I can say is that I fervently hope:

A. This is the last lockdown we go through for this pandemic and hence no further opportunity arises for me to test this nascent theory; and

B. I manage to do more than one blog post for the rest of this year!

Another common feature I can identify between the first lockdown last year and this present third lockdown, is that I really struggle to fit in the same amount of sewing I usually do. Basically because my spare time outside of work is taken up helping my children with home schooling, cooking what feels like never ending meals and constantly cleaning and tidying (far more that I like, but sadly necessary with all of us at home 24/7).

After not sewing a single thing during January (the first time I haven’t sewn for a whole month since I started sewing over three years ago) I’ve come up with the new approach of not expecting to have long chunks of sewing time, instead I just fit in 20 minutes here, half an hour there, with anything more being an unexpected bonus.

Clearly my sewing productivity has gone down a bit as a result, but it’s also been interesting seeing the changes in the type of garment I’ve been sewing.

Like all of us, life has changed so much over the past year and the clothes I now need have changed alongside this. I have always been a fairly ‘dressy’ kind of person. Other than gym / workout clothing I’ve never worn much in the way of tracksuits, hoodies etc. COVID-19 has changed this for me. That’s not to say I’ve completely changed my preferred aesthetic, rather I’ve been drawn to patterns that have comfort as a clear factor, but still with a nod to some shaping and design features that feel like me. Whoever ‘me’ is…

So whilst any thoughts of workwear / suits / cocktail dress making have been unceremoniously thrown out the window, my favourite patterns in this new world of comfy / stylish / perfect for home working / lockdown are:

(As always, apologies for the photo quality! Not something I’ve got better at in the intervening period, I’m afraid.) (Just to add, none of the the below links are affiliates.)

1. Lamma hoodie from Itch to Stitch

This is a joy to fit, sew and wear. Plus you get to bash away with a hammer to add the grommets 😁. I made one and after the first day of wearing it I immediately cut out and started sewing a second. Nuff said.

2. Sabrina Slim trousers from Love Notions

I made this darker pair first and tweaked the fit a little further in the second, grey pair above.
My attempt at showing the cute, split hem I did for this first pair.

These are just brilliant. Enough stretch to be comfortable, enough shaping and right amount of ease to feel a bit put together. I have three pairs made already and there are two cuts of fabric sitting in my sewing room ready for making more.

3. Stacey dress from Designer Stitch

I lowered the height of the neck band a little for this one and also shortened the ties by an inch, to sit at a better position for a top rather than a dress.
Look! Bust darts (and waist darts for that matter) in a jersey top! Such a massive improvement to the fit for these sorts of tops on me. No more dartless FBAs for me – I’m converted.

This is actually a dress pattern but I have made two out of merino jersey (from The Fabric Store, New Zealand) where I adjusted the pattern to end at about high hip level, turning them into the perfect top. I used the turtle neckline for both, so they are beautifully snuggly for the cold weather here in the UK. The tie front is an interesting detail to sew and elevates it from other staple polo / turtle neck patterns out there.

4. A hybrid top of the Josephine from 5oo4 and the cowl neckline from Freya by Tilly and the Buttons

I made this top from a superb and fairly unusual fabric from Higgs and Higgs. It is soft, warm and so tactile. Not cheap, but well worth the price for a top that looks a bit different to your average.

5. Somerset top from Maven Patterns

Hopefully you can see in this picture how much better the neckline sits at the back. It also doesn’t keep choking me at the front too, which is rather a bonus…

I love the neckline of this top. Or at least I do now that I have worked out I need high round back adjustments (see my post on this unwelcome fact here in my previous – oh so long winded – post). I also love both the full bishop sleeves with long cuffs and this version here with the straight sleeve. The shaping and comfort of this top is the perfect blend for me.

7. The Southbank from Nina Lee

This pattern has been a favourite of mine from well before the word “lockdown” meant anything other than something from a prison break movie. My latest reincarnation of the pattern is so soft and lovely to wear. You might have spotted that the second Lamma top at the beginning of this post was made using leftovers from this make.

8. A copy from a RTW top I own.

I haven’t done much of this ‘rubbing off’ thing previously (I really hope that is the right term) but I bought a RTW top from Fabletics and was surprised by how much I liked it. I wanted to see if I could copy it with a bit of measuring and tracing. Happily it turned out well and I have really enjoyed wearing the version I’ve made so far.

In fact as I came to write this post I was convinced I’d made two. I can’t find the other one for the life of me though so I am either imagining the second one or have put it somewhere currently un-locatable…

9. Lulu cardigan from Pattern Scout

Pattern Scout is a fairly new to me pattern company, but since discovering them – and their cup-sized patterns hooray – I have bought all of their current patterns. First up I made the Fern top, which is completely brilliant and a perfect, easy breezy, stylish summer top. Then I tried the Lulu cardigan, which is just as fabulous. The princess seams, the neat, cropped fit, the sporty but stylish look. All big ticks for a lockdown experience and beyond.

I now have ready and printed out the Romy dress / top and the Nellie trousers to try next, so watch this space for my thoughts on those.

10. Butterick 6385 coat

Ok so you may spot this is a bit out of sync with the patterns above. It’s not jersey / stretch woven for a start. But I loved making this coat at the end of last year. It felt such a different game to when I made my first coat (that was the Rumana from By Hand London). And that is just because of where I am now in my sewing progress. When making this latest coat I had that magical feeling of know what I was doing. Of understanding the process. Of spotting the mistakes in the pattern (how that happens in a big four pattern I have no idea). Of knowing different ways and extra techniques to add to the garment. Of knowing to flat pattern measure galore and baste fit throughout, to get a decent fit without doing a toile. It was fun and even relaxing to just potter away over a week or so, making a coat. And then having the joy of it fitting well and looking just as I’d hoped.

It also made me realise the benefit and joy of coat making for a UK lockdown winter. Basically for many of us, our only outdoor experiences are getting out for walks and occasional supermarket etc trips (and commuting, for those who still have to work out of the home). So being able to put on a coat, in which you feel great and of which you are quietly proud of having made, is one of the simple pleasures we can indulge in at the moment.

A silver lining – or glass half full moment, perhaps – in all of this.

All wrapped up for a walk to the supermarket 😂

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