Oh Billie!

My confidence has always been with woven fabrics, it's what I predominately worked with when I was training at College and I never had the confidence to experiment like some of friends did. Since setting up Sewing at Number 51 I've been so inspired by some of the lovely jersey makes on here that I decided to step out of my comfort zone and give sewing with stretch a go as we all know we don't grow in our comfort zones.

Whilst I was at college my lovely friend Bethan who not only is she the loveliest person, she was my biggest inspiration at college, her pattern drafting skills were on another level (I'll never forget the trousers that look liked she had plaited down the side even our tutor couldn't work out how she made them!) she was afraid of nothing and when we had a van of offcuts of jersey fabric turn up at college as a donation she taught me to make a simple pencil skirt that I've worn so much I just love it! Anyway in all my college work I still have the basic block we worked from and so I used this and some cheap jersey to remind myself of what I was doing since that I've made a replica pencil skirt in Green Pea Spot Jersey (fabric available from my shop) and countless Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top. I find TATB patterns great to work from, the instructions and pictures are so easy to follow and really helped me build my confidence in jersey sewing.

So back in January, Lockdown 3.0 and my 3rd spell of furlough (forever grateful I still have my job I know I'm very lucky) The Rag Shop posted on Instagram they had some new alpine fleece lined jersey I knew exactly what I was going to do. It's my grandma's birthday at the end of January, she loves sitting outside in the garden with my grandpa. In the summer they will stay out until it gets dark, she has he most beautiful little garden with lights that light it up something magical, me and my sister used to love it there as kids, but obviously it starts to get cold even in summer so she loves a cosy jumper to keep her warm. With all the free time furlough gave me and the beautiful inspiration from The Rag Shop I decided to make her a Tilly and the Buttons - Billie Sweater.

The fabric arrived (very quickly was super service and could not recommend them enough) and I instantly regretted not getting enough to make myself one. The quality was fantastic and the fleece lining was soooo soft, I ordered the petrol blue/green colour and it was a lovely soft colour. I set about tracing off my pattern pieces (right away as I couldn't wait to get started.) My grandmas quite petite but I decided to make this bigger for her to make it more cosy so opted for a size 10 / size 3 and in version 1, regular sleeve top so there weren't many pieces to trace off. Once marked with notches and notes I cut the fabric out straight away it was a breeze and so easy (I love that layout plans are a thing in the instruction booklets - saves so much time!)

The next day I set about sewing this up and I can honestly say this was done in the space of an afternoon, as I mentioned earlier the instructions are worded well and easy to follow along with clear pictures, I also chose quite an easy option aswell as there's no gathered sleeves or pockets with this option.

I used my over locker on this project as I love using it but you can also use a sewing machine on a zigzag stitch.

First off I attach the shoulder seams and press ready for the next step. The neck banding, to start join the short edges together then fold in half (wrong sides together) and press. This then needs to be eased in to the neck hole, tension is key here you need to ease gently and evenly otherwise you end up with tucks or bagging. So with the neck band on the right side of the fabric pin in place, I pin in the half way point of the neck band and centre front of the top so that I can judge my tension, I also like the seam of the of the neck band to be at the centre back. Once sewn in I press flat and the seam out.

Next step is the sleeves so matching the notches up from the sleeve to the top front and back (I start with the centre notch and work around) then sew in again easing in around the corners and watching the tension and repeating for the second sleeve. Press for a clean crisp shoulder seam finish and it's on to the next step.

Fold the sleeve in half and match the shoulder seams (under the arm) then pin in place, work down the sleeve and pin and the down the body and pin and sew then repeat for the other side. This is my favourite step as you can see it starting to come together!

Adding the cuffs, I thought this would be really fiddly but I was so pleasantly surprised. Start by sewing together he shorter edges, then fold in half (wrong sides together) and place on the right side of the sleeve (make sure you pull the sleeve edge right up to the cuff edge as I missed part of the sleeve at one point and had to go back over) I'd also try to keep the sleeve seam and the cuff seam in line although this is incredibly difficult to match when sewing with jersey and with a cuff that needs some easing in (mine were close but were by no means matched I just wanted to make sure they weren't miles apart.) Repeat for the second sleeve and finish with a clean press.

Finally is the hem band and is the exact same process as we have done with the other bands we have added that's what is so nice about this pattern, its a lot of repetition and is not too testing for any jersey newbies (like me!)

Overall the jumper was a huge hit my grandma loves it and I'm proud of this make. As I get more confident I will experiment with the sleeves and maybe make myself on for next winter (my heads in summer projects and getting ready for warmer weather now - fingers crossed.)

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, keep your eyes peeled for more blogs coming very soon.

If you have any questions please leave me comments below or dm me I'm always happy to help.