Experimental Space – Lily Top

I recently had the opportunity to pattern test for Experimental Space. I have tested for Andrea a few times now and love how she always comes up with a special feature for her sewing patterns. This time it was ruffles😍

Lily Top : Sewing Pattern (PDF)

I made a total of 3 tops whilst testing, the first 2 were sewn up as toiles to test the pattern so that any adjustments could be made before the final draft of the pattern was sent out for the final make.

Depending on your size requirements the pattern only uses between 1 and 1.5 metres of fabric, I was able to sew all of my makes up out of 1 metre each so it is ideal for using up that left over fabric that you don’t know what to do with or alternatively it doesn’t break the bank to buy that expensive piece of fabric that you have wanted for ages.

My first toile was made from a remnant of viscose fabric that I had left over from a previous make, I had just under 1 metre left but was able to squeeze out the pattern pieces.  I Cut a size Cara on my bust and graded it to a Dee on the waist and hips, this was actually an error on my part and from the size guide I should of graded to an Eve so I had to sew a narrower seam and thus couldn’t use the French seam method for finishing the sides.

The pattern was altered slightly after this to improve the fit and I sewed my 2nd toile up using the correct sizing of Cara and then grading to Eve for the waist and hips, I sewed the 2nd make up in some cotton fabric I have had in my stash for ages, it doesn’t have the drape of the viscose so gives a more structured look but I still like it.

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Once I was happy with the fit and Andrea had made any adjustments to the pattern that had been brought to her attention then I was ready to sew up my final make.

I was lucky enough to win a voucher recently from Sister Mintaka and I have had my eye on some lovely Atelier Brunette viscose fabric.

Dune Smokey Viscose

At £18 per metre is isn’t cheap but I only needed 1 metre so the voucher was able to pay for that along with some matching bias binding.

It was quite scary cutting into such lovely fabric and knowing that there was no room for error so this was an occasion were I checked and re-checked before proceeding.

The first stage of sewing is the bust darts and the front neckline which is finished with bias binding, the ready made binding that I had was about double the width of what I needed so I cut it in half along the fold line.20200507_102540

I received these clips for Christmas and have used them so much since, I find them easier than working with pins and less likely to mark the fabric.

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Once the front neckline is finished it can be put to one side and work starts on the back.  The back is where you are going to be adding the ruffle so that piece needs to be folded in half (wrong sides together) and then the raw edge can be finished off with an overlocker or a zigzag stitch.  The ruffle needs to be gathers so 2 lines of gathering stitch are sewn and then it is time for the ‘ruffle shuffle’.  There is a handy guide with the instructions which tells you the length that the ruffle needs to be pulled in to.

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Once happy with the ruffle with everything evenly spaced then the ruffle is attached to the back along the top curved edge.

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Next up is joining the back and front at the shoulders (right sides together). One of the things I like about Andrea’s instructions are that they have good illustration to explain as well as words. The pictures below show what it will look like from both sides.

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The whole of the top edge is then sewn together with the back piece on the top for ease of sewing.  It’s important to press the seams and top stitch to make sure that the ruffles lay nicely along the sleeve front and the back of the neck.

There are 2 options on the back neck seam, it can be finished off with a zigzag or overlock stitch or you can add bias binding.  I went for the bias binding because I want this top to be pretty on the inside as well.

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Once the neckline is finished it’s pretty straight forward with some French seams for the side seams, I love the finish that this gives especially with a fine fabric like viscose.

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Cuffs then need to be added to finish off the sleeves and then it’s just a case of hemming.  I had just enough bias binding let for the hem so I took my time and finished it off with that.  I am really happy with all 3 new tops but this last one is definitely my favourite, the fabric is such nice quality and I love the colours. I have just sent for some Ramie Linen to make some trousers in and the colour match is really good.

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Testing Rosalee

I recently had the opportunity to pattern test for Experimental Space, I have done a couple of pattern tests for Andrea before and was really excited when she put a call out for her latest pattern – The Rosalee maxi dress.

Rosalee Dress : Sewing Pattern (Paper)

I love maxi dresses but being on the short side purchasing shop bought is pretty difficult so having the opportunity to make my own is a big plus👍

I should mention for transparency that the pattern was provided free of charge. A testing callout was put out on Instagram and I followed the link to apply, during the application a few details are required such as body measurements and sewing ability. These details are needed because it is important to get a variety of sizes and abilities in order to do a thorough test.

Once the testing team was selected a group chat was set up and Andrea gave us the details of fabric requirements so we could start selecting our fabric, next came the pdf files for printing off the pattern so we were all ready to go once the instructions were sent over. It is important to note that the files that we first receive may contain errors, obviously this is all part of the need for testing in order to iron out any errors that may of been overlooked so we were advised to sew up toiles first before cutting into our best fabric.

The dress is a swooshy maxi dress so I wanted some swoohsy fabric. Suggested fabrics are rayon, viscose and crepe or maybe a cotton lawn for an easier sew. I chose this gorgeous peachskin fabric from Sewisfaction that I had already got in my stash. I had originally earmarked this fabric for a jumpsuit but knew when I saw Andrea’s pattern that this would be perfect.

https://www.sewisfaction.co.uk/product-category/fabric/

There are some lovely details on the dress – a nice cutout detail on the back, some gathering around the waist, a lovely neckline and the biggest pockets I have ever seen.

The size chart goes from 31″ bust to 43″ bust. I went with my body measurements (35/32/38) so sewed up a Cara for the bust and graded up to an Eve on the waist. The pattern is also drafted for different heights starting at 5ft 3″ and going up to 5ft 7″ I found this really useful and was able to cut the shortest size and save on fabric – the pattern suggests that you will need 3.5 metres of fabric 1.4m wide and I was able to get my dress out of 2.5 metres of fabric which was 1.5m wide by using a contrasting fabric for the facings.

The pattern is described as being for ‘Improvers’ because there are a couple of techniques that newer sewers may be unfamiliar with such as a mini burrito for the facing and attaching an invisible zipper but the instructions are very good and walk you through these processes very well.

I found the instructions for the burrito particularly good, I have used this method before but usually take to YouTube and follow a video to see what I am doing but I was able to follow the written instructions very easily and completed my burrito without any problems, this method gives a really nice finish on the inside.

My toile turned out really nicely too – this fabric was discarded in the corner of my bedroom for nearly 2 years! so it is good to finally turn it into something pretty and wearable.

I have also filmed a vlog over on YouTube that can be found here:

If you fancy a maxi dress too then I would highly recommend this pattern. Anyway that’s it from me and next time I wear this dress I plan to be sitting by the pool on our holiday sipping a cocktail.🍹😎

Pattern testing the Casey Sweater

I recently spotted a call out for pattern testers – this is something I have been wanting to try for a while now. My sewing has got to the stage where I feel confident enough to try new things. I was delighted when I received an email to say that I had been selected for the pattern test and eagerly awaited further instructions.

The pattern test was for a fairly new sewing pattern company called Experimental Space – you can check out their site at the link below:

https://www.experimentalspace.com/

To date they only have one other sewing pattern (there are a few knitting patterns for the knitters out there) called the Evelyn Blouse which came out in September – I did say they were new. I am sure that there will be several more patterns to follow in the months and years to come.

Anyway I was 1 of 14 people to do the pattern test for the Casey sweater. The testing ran from the 2nd to 11th November but we were given some information beforehand such as fabric type and amount so that we could get prepared.

Pattern successfully taped together

The PDF pattern was sent out a couple of days before the testing to allow for sticking together or sending off for an A0 print. I usually send off for the A0 version but due to the time scales I decided I would have a go at printing at home for a change and sticking it all together. I am so glad that I did, this is something I have always shied away from in the past thinking that it would be really difficult and time consuming but I actually found the whole process quite enjoyable and will definitely do it myself again in the future.

Tester Instructions

I finally received all the instructions on the afternoon of the 2nd November and excitedly opened the file to have a read through on a train journey back from Birmingham. There were a few mistakes (spelling and line justification) that I picked up straight away – obviously that is the whole point of pattern testing, if it was perfect straight off then there would be no point. At first I felt a bit awkward about pointing out mistakes but Andrea was more than happy to receive them. Sometimes you just need another pair of eyes to spot the obvious mistakes.

The instructions were overall very good and when anyone didn’t understand anything or thought the wording could be improved then we had a group chat for this and Andrea was able to make the necessary adjustments. Once a few of us had made up our toiles and pointed out a few things on the instructions then Andrea got hard to work making the necessary adjustments. By the following evening we had all received another email with an edited version of the instructions to work from for our good fabric.

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Toile Version

As for the pattern I really love it, it is available in both printed and PDF versions – I love the printed packaging and the artwork on the front is gorgeous. I found the sizing to be very true to size – I cut out my usual size based on my body measurements and sewed up my toile in a day – it took me a little longer than a pattern like this would usually take but this was due to having to communicate any parts of the instructions that I didn’t quite understand or that needed changing. I found the arms to be slightly tight (still very wearable) on my toile but this is something that I often have to change so no real surprise there.

There are some great details on the pattern – the welt pockets were a bit of a revelation, I can’t believe I have only just discovered them – they are definitely my new favourite type of pocket, I think I will be applying them to all of my clothes. The top also features a really nice neckline and the contrasting bottom half of the sleeves makes this top stand out from the crowd.

Loving my Welt Pockets

There are lots of ways that the contrasting fabrics could be used to make this in different ways. I followed the pattern instructions for the contrasting fabrics but next time I may use the contrast on the outer cowl piece and maybe on the pocket welts as well.

The navy fabric I used was a lovely french terry from Charlee Girl and the striped ponte was from Sew Me Sunshine:

https://www.girlcharlee.co.uk/navy-blue-solid-french-terry-blend-knit-fabric-p-18321.html

Navy Stripe – Ponte Di Roma

My Final make

I will be making more of this pattern for sure, it is very comfortable and warm so ideal for this time of year.

I am looking forward to seeing what other patterns Experimental Space launch in the future, and wish Andrea every success in her business. The pattern is available in both pdf and paper versions and can be found at the links below:

https://www.experimentalspace.com/product/casey-sweater-sewing-pattern-paper/

https://www.experimentalspace.com/product/casey-sweater-sewing-pattern-pdf/