To say my life has been nomadic for the last couple of weeks is stating it mildly. It’s political party conference season, and as I work for a science advocacy organisation we have been doing our bit to promote the cause ahead of next year’s general election. Time for sewing has been thin on the ground, and time for blogging even thinner; the days I get off are spent in laundry and repacking my case. But luckily I do have a few projects from before the conference craziness to share. When I have time to photograph them obviously!
So I thought I was being fashion forward with my predilection for neoprene garments, but apparently not. A trip down Oxford Street in search of a new winter coat (not something I feel confident enough to make myself yet) revealed a plethora of neoprene sweatshirts in all colours. Oh well, I never really had high hopes of being a trend setter! I think the love of neoprene comes from all those childhood holidays spent on Welsh and Cornish beaches, where a wetsuit is the only sensible form of swimwear. That smell is more reminiscent of holidays to me than salt water!
Both of these are Capital Chic White Russian sweatshirts, which is one of my favourite patterns of the moment. Super easy to sew, a lovely fit and very stylish. Or at least very my style, which as we’ve already discussed is not as cutting edge as I’d like it to be. I do like a good sweatshirt.
Incidentally I’ve had a stab at making the Manhattan skirt from the same collection, but the sizing is weird on me – too tight on the hips and too loose on the waist – so I shall need to do some work on that one.
I made this navy blue version back at the end of August, using some cheap ‘scuba’ fabric that I bought from Rolls ‘n Rems in Lewisham. I was so excited when I found it that I went a bit nuts and bought six metres, so I’m still working out what to do with the remainder! This fabric is not what I would really consider neoprene as it doesn’t have the same structure or thickness, and behaves more like a heavy weight knit. But it was great for testing the water, so to speak, and I’ve ended up with a really nice, wearable sweatshirt.
For my next trick I went for the real deal. Finding actual neoprene is not as easy as you would imagine; it can be found on ebay in sheets designed for wetsuit repair, and very rarely on the roll. Most places sell ‘neoprene’ of the kind I used for the first sweatshirt, but not the real deal. Cloth House came to my rescue in the end with a vast array of neoprene in all colours and thicknesses. At £28 per metre it isn’t cheap fabric, but buying 1.5m and making your own sweatshirt still works out cheaper than shelling out £60 – £260 for a branded one.
I went for a relatively lightweight fabric, about 3mm thick in an ivory off white colour, and because it’s not very stretchy I increased the pattern by one size. I’d heard horror stories about neoprene and home sewing machines, tales of skipped stitches and broken needles, but this stuff worked up like a dream. Although I suspect that if I’d used anything thicker I would have had all these problems and more.
Regardless of how fashion forward this make ended up being, I am really happy with it! For winter I love to mix up the textures in my wardrobe – wool, leather, cotton, and now neoprene. And if I really want to cement my status as a trend-setter maybe I need to abandon more passe uses for neoprene like sweatshirts and go for the big leagues. Trousers perhaps. Hmmm…