Freehand Fashion Blog Tour and Review

Hello hello!

almond rock chinelo bally freehand fashion

I hope you’ve been following the blog tour for Chinelo Bally’s new book Freehand Fashion. I’m the penultimate stop on the tour and hopefully I can say something about the book that helps add a little more insight into the composition and styling of the projects and approach. Plus you can have a nosey at my finished garment.

chinelo bally freehand fashion

Based on a traditional Nigerian technique, Chinelo’s book takes you through her innovative freehand cutting technique. Like many other pattern books it’s based around a series of standard blocks (bodice, dress, skirt, sleeve, and flare) that you draft using your measurements. But the difference is unique variations on the blocks and the way you plot the integral marks on your fabric. You cleverly take into account seam allowances (something normally omitted in pattern drafting). The bodice block actually covers the whole torso and hips (different again from many techniques). This lets you create 15 central patterns with a few variations to boot!

chinelo bally freehand fashion

I decided to try out the flared skirt block aka the double circle skirt project. This is a very approachable project (which fitted with my limited free time) but I also wanted to see how Chinelo would spell out this standard block.

Firstly it’s true of all the projects in this book but I really like the way the pages are laid out. Everything is clear and consistent and gorgeously crisp looking. The flared skirt is nicely broken up into how to achieve various amounts of flare but I fancied a full on circle. Chinelo advises using a regular less full skirt as the lining which was interesting. I chose a pink twill with a pink polka dot lining to compliment my uber polka dot set up! And I hemmed the skirt using bias tape since it takes so long to hem a full circle. Phew.

chinelo bally freehand fashion

It’s a pretty fun skirt and that’s probably because it’s a pretty fun book. I confess I’ve had a copy for a little while – the perks of doing book reviews in Love Sewing. And I love some of the dresses like the hot lace number. Woah momma. And the peplum flippy hem dress is all kinds of cute. There’s plenty here to find a few garments you like and plenty to learn from re-imagining the way you approach sewing patterns. I’ll throw it out there and then won’t mention it again. If you subscribe to Love Sewing during November, you’ll get a free gift copy of the book. Something to think about – maybe even suggest to your relatives as a good Christmas present? heehe.

chinelo bally freehand fashion

chinelo bally freehand fashion

So I hope I lived up to the challenge and gave you a good spin on the book with my review? I’d like to encourage you to try and pick up a copy of the book and take a look for yourself. I think the key thing to remember is that if you’re the kind of person who gets a bit nervous cutting straight into fabric without a toile, this book isn’t suggesting you do that. It just means you can cut out some of the time consuming steps of tracing and cutting tissue sheets. But if you’re still feeling a little concerned, you can try this circle skirt for an excellent easy win.

Right – toodlepip! I’m off to party in my new foxy skirt! You should check out Rachel’s blog tomorrow for the last point on the tour.

chinelo bally freehand fashion

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Jean Genie

There’s nothing like sewing the last stitch on a big project. I finished my jeans and immediately laid them out on the floor to gawk over. (I’m a loser.)

almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

Where shall I start… this yummy denim is from Birmingham rag market (from that day I went insane and bought ALL THE fabric). It feels very good quality, has a slight sheen with gorgeous orange undertones. The fabric is almost completely orange on the reverse – the magic of a twill weave. The denim might be a touch thin for jeans but I think it works ok. The fit is good enough for me too.

For my topstitching I actually used two spools of regular thread fed into one needle as I had an orange I wanted to use rather than a thicker topstitch weight. I love my pocket arches!

almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

This is my (sort of) second pair of jeans. My first pair never made it onto the blog because the denim was awful quality and I never wore them. When I finished this new pair I threw the old pair out.

I used Kenneth D King’s Jean-ius course on Craftsy which is absolutely fantastic and educational. To put it simply, you make a pattern by copying your favourite jeans and get the chance to make fit adjustments and customisations! My original jeans are the Topshop straight leg “Martha” style which they dont make any more. Thanks to KDK I don’t have to stress about that anymore!

almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

In case you don’t know, Kenneth is very well mannered with a no nonsense attitude. He points out that sewing shouldn’t be a series of rigid rules you must follow; there are lots of ways to get things done.

So it wouldnt surprise him that I did my own thing a couple of times during the making of the jeans!

1. I changed the construction order so I could topstitch my inseam, NOT my outside leg seam. My RTW pair had this styling and I think it makes them look smarter.

2. I made a larger fly shield compared to the one KDK suggested and I honestly regret not making it even bigger! It’s about 1cm smaller than I would like.

In terms of the course modules, the drafting of the copy was pretty easy, if a little time consuming. I’ve done rub offs with tracing paper before (using Steffani Lincecum’s technique – she’s also a Craftsy instructor but I have her book) but organza is best if you can afford it every time!

almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

FACT: KDK’s fly front zipper tutorial is impeccable. Seriously good stuff.

But that said; I would have liked to learn a bit more about topstitching. Namely there’s no mention of topstitching the outer edge of the fly, just the curve and crotch seam (from below the zip). I couldn’t work out at which stage I should be topstitching that part – possibly just after installing the fly facing and stopping where the zip should stop? I think that element being missing sets of a little niggle in your brain that the jeans don’t look 100% right but you can’t put your finger on why. Or is that just me?

almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

And I know how to do flatfelled seams from my shirt making, but we didn’t learn them in the Craftsy course!? That’s jean-making 101 in my mind.

Also I’m mad at myself for choosing my zip poorly. The pull is too large so it peeks out a little and also makes the fly bulge. At least I’ll know for next time and it’s easily resolvable.

Oh yes there will be a next time. There is some lovely quality denim online at The Splendid Stitch, with a good dark navy colour and small degree of stretch. I have plans for pockets with flaps this time too. And a cute coin pocket which I do like seeing on jeans though I have NEVER used one haha. Have you ever used yours?

almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

I suppose I ought to add that I used two machines for this project. I had my Toyota jeans machine threaded up with black and my Janome SMD4000 threaded with orange. This made things much quicker as I could jump between the two machines without the delay of re-threading.

But I don’t expect everyone out there to have a second machine. I just hung onto my original machine when I upgraded, in the hope I’d one day have space for them both. I do recommend it if you have space. It’s very useful to have a machine threaded up with another colour for random emergency sewing or projects like this.

almond rock jean-ius jeanius craftsy

So who else has tried the Jean-ius course? There’s a good review on Amy’s blog. I know a lot of people have made the Ginger jeans as my feed has been full of great versions and Katie wows me on a regular basis with her jean sewing!

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