Monday, 23 April 2012

Negroni: best not frozen


If it feels like I've been mentioning the second Negroni shirt I've been working on for my husband for a very long time that would be because I have. It's not a pattern to rush through - partly because precision is fairly critical to this pattern and partly because it's a sewing pattern worth savouring because the construction process is so enjoyable. Unusually for me (because I tend to work very frenetically), I made this shirt in bite-sized pieces: an hour here, an hour there; stopping at 9.30pm, rather than 1am. Will you finish it soon? he would ask, whenever he saw his shirt fabric out on the machine. Not today, I would say. It was a surprise to both of us that I am capable of working a mañana attitude: this is a new thing.


The fabric is a Liberty Tawn lawn of dusty blue flowers that give the print a naturally faded, relaxed look.


When I'd first started planning this shirt in my head, I'd thought of doing clever contrasty things with the facings, the pocket and cuffs, but in the end I reined myself in as I knew I'd just be doing them for my own sewing delight, rather than because it would add anything to the shirt - I think this print actually looks better as it is, unadulterated.


The only blip with making the shirt came with my choice of fabric marker. On the evening I cut the pattern out I found that my beloved Frixion pens had all dried up and so I reverted to a chalk pen which by contrast felt chunky and impresise. There are so many pattern markings on this shirt that I became increasingly worried about how it would come together with these inaccurate chalky splodges...and so I rushed out first thing the following morning and bought more Frixion pens and fell in love with them all over again.

I know that Frixion pens divide seamstresses. Some of you love them, others have written to me (quite angrily) telling me that when you put your quilt in the freezer to test whether the lines have really disappeared after ironing them away, the lines have in fact reappeared and were only pretending they'd gone away. It delighted me to think as I made this shirt that if my husband was ever particularly wicked and I felt compelled to try and force him into the freezer as punishment, folding his long arms up to fit into the drawers, I would have to sit grumpily on the other side of the door knowing that the markings on his shirt would be gradually reappearing as he froze. It's a double-edge sword sort of punishment: it would hurt me as much as it would hurt him. Happily, my husband's wickedness levels never rise too far above making me feel a bit foot-stampy, so I still feel fairly confident that the Frixion pens are a very good thing (note: as the lines disappear with heat, you have to be careful to keep the iron well away from your markings as you press a seam, until you're actually ready to say goodbye to them, but if all else fails, we now know that you can revive them by putting the fabric in the freezer!).


And here's the man himself, appreciating a moment of warmth in the sun. Ahem. (In the background you can see a tiny snippet of part of the new garden that he's been working on since December 27th of last year - I can't wait to show you the transformation once he's done the final task of laying a lawn.


As ever, with the negroni, the inside finish is just lovely - the pattern instructs upon flat-felled seams throughout which means that you're left without the conundrum of how best to finish your seams neatly. As I think I've conveyed before on numerous occassions, the Negroni is my idea of sewing pattern Manna.  I am already considering the next one. If you're thinking of buying the pattern yourself, you can find it in the Colette Patterns shop overseas, or English seamstresses can find it at Backstitch, as well as a great many other lovely places.

Florence x

Ps. If you want to see the first Negroni that I made in a plainer fabric, then you can find it here.

34 comments:

  1. What a lovely shirt, I also love frixion pens, I used to work for a large stationery supplier and loved them before I knew you could remove them off fabrics so easy. Which brings me to ponder why you would put a quilt in the freezer, I am not experienced in quilt making and have only made one from your lovely tutorial but surely quilts are for warmth not cold.

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  2. I think the thinking was that if the pen markings could be removed by heat, then they may be restored via the other extreme, so I understood it to be more of a pen test than a strange quilting ritual! But you're right I was unsure why my quilt would ever end up in the freezer, but perhaps if you're making quilts to sell it may give more peace of mind to know that the markings have actually ceased to exist, rather than just disappeared. x

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  3. Your shirt is lovely! I had a go at it too, (thanks for your advice). I made lots of mistakes, precision is not a great strength of mine! when I finished it I said there was no way I would do it again, but already I'm thinking perhaps I can learn from the mistakes I made and do it better. It is a great fit on my tall, long armed, lanky, and quite lovely husband. I really enjoyed the challenge. My husband completed the London marathon yesterday, I think, on reflection, that this was my version of a marathon.

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    1. Yes, I think it really is a shirt for a slight, tall man, isn't it. Congratuations to your husband for yesterday! I agree - once the pain of things going wrong (which I think may be represented by the cobbles around St K's Dock in the London Marathon) has passed, it's amazing how quickly one can forget. I do think it's a very involved pattern though, so I wouldn't be too hard on yourself for any mistakes. I'd definitely buy a Frixion for your next attempt (unless you are intending to put your husband in the freezer, in which case, perhaps not).

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  4. Looks fantastic!
    I rather love a man in floral ;)
    I haven't heard of these pens before....off to hunt them out :)

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    1. Yes, I love a man in floral too. One of my father's friends (who is a few years younger than him) was wearing one several summer's ago and I vividly remember standing swooning over his be-floraled self and thinking how a small floral Liberty print can really do a man so many favours.

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  5. I have a stash of beautiful Liberty lawn in my sewing room Florence and am inspired by your shirt. Thank you :) It is beautiful x

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  6. what a really gorgeous shirt! If my hubby would wear anything other than plain blue with the occasional discreet stripe. if this is your best mans pattern what would be the one would you most recommend for a womans shirt/top?

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    1. Oh, I completely love this question and it's amused me all day thinking it over while I've been sewing. I've added it to my list of things I'd like to blog about because it requires a whole post to answer it, but in short, I don't think I have a favourite commercial one yet...I'm still searching (my most used women's shirt pattern is one that I drafted myself). Do you have a favourite?

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  7. Gorgeous shirt - one day I must get round to making this for my husband!

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  8. Hurray! It's as good as I thought it would be! I'm still working on Boyfriend's second pair of PJ trousers so I think a shirt might be some way off yet, but each Negroni I see surely brings it one step closer.

    One non-experimental situation in which you might put a quilt in the freezer would be if it got colonised by they-who-must-not-be-named, which I suppose would be more likely with wool batting although I've known them to make themselves at home on even polyester fleece. But let us speak no more of them.

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    1. Ditto with your Tova!

      Oh goodness, Nina - it took me a while before I realised what you were talking about (initially I thought Voldermort), but you're so right! That is exactly why one may wish to stuff a quilt in the freezer. Although I'm in awe of all these large-freezered households out there - we have three very small drawers and even if I folded Ian very neatly I don't think I would get a single limb into one of them. A quilt has only marginally more chance.

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    2. Yep, a small lap quilt might go in my freezer if everything else was removed. Not sure freezers can defeat powerful evil wizards, by the way - something to be borne in mind!

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  9. The shirt looks great, and your freezer thoughts made me laugh! Thank you too for your previous post on The Village Haberdashery - your photo of the Little Red Riding Hood fabric was impossible to resist, and an exciting parcel is now waiting to be opened!

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    1. I do love your name!

      Thank you - I'm so pleased that my post facilitated the imminent arrival of good things!

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  10. Well I suppose it's always handy to know that if your quilt or outfit were to go on an arctic/antarctic expedition, that the lines would reappear, but at that temp would you really give a stuff?

    The shirt looks good though...

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    1. Having been in -40 last year in Sweden I can firmly say that a Liberty shirt would be seasonally inappropriate! x

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  11. I think that the fact that you can make shirts for a male that are endorsed by the wearer is a huge deal! Men would not wear it if it were not just so. Your shirt looks great.
    A question about flat fell seams if you don't mind? Well seams in general really. Can you use them on the sleeve seams, and if so is that difficult? Also what about a neat and nice but unobtrusive finish for where gathers meet a flat surface, for instance a child’s dress with a gathered skirt? What would be a 'posh' way of finishing that, or how would you do it (apart from over-locking)? I know you can bind seams but I think it would look bulky. I have often wondered about flat fell seams or French seams for oblong shapes, such as inside a bag etc. I have used both seams but in a limited way just with straight seams.

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    1. Goodness, so many questions - I love thinking these things through.

      Yes, the flat felled semas are used even within the arm seams - they are trickier to do as you have to feed it through the machine in an odd way due to it being a small area, but actually strangely enjoyable to sew!

      For a child's gathered skirt meeting with an ungathered top, I tend to overlock those edges - I think they'd be a little too bulky to want to bind them or flat fell them (which in the context of an empire line dress may look odd as two lines of stitching are visible on the outside of the garment - as per most pairs of jeans you can find). I'm really interested in what the official couture option for this would be though, so I'll look into it for you. However, my thinking is that it may be that in such a case the dress would be fully lined to avoid any bulky seams being in contact with the child's skin.

      A french seam is really best on a very fine fabric and ideally the straighter the seam, the better the finish.

      I love binding seams with a contrast binding - I think that gives a beautiful finish. And you mention bags - I think if they're unlined then that can be really effective and a lovely feature, although if they're lined you wouldn't see any seams, so that solves it too.

      I hope that helps! x

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    2. Thank you for your very full answer Florence, I appreciate it and find what you say both interesting and enlightening.

      I would love to know what the couture option is for the gathers. I have tried to find out before so I'm quite excited to think you might be able to find out.

      It's the details that you do so nicely (that many don't) that make me love your sewing.

      Thanks for taking time to reply to me!

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  12. I love your choice of fabric, Florence; Liberty tana lawn comes in such an amazing selection of prints and has a beautiful drape. The finish is perfect too. x

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    1. Thank you! It's very odd - I often find some Tana lawns to be soft with an amazing drape and others very crisp and starchy. I still haven't worked out if this is all in my head or a reality....

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  13. lucky for him, my husband wouldn't fit in the freezer.
    love the shirt :-)
    Ginny x

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    1. In reality neither would mine - we have just three small drawers!

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  14. Wow, I was just saying to my husband yesterday that there was this great shirt pattern I wanted to show him (the one on the Collette blog) that I thought would really suit the Liberty(esque) fabric he just snaffled out of my stash and here is another one to use to tempt him! The thing is though, he's not tall and slim, more average with wide-ish shoulders a little bit of a tummy - do you think I'm kidding myself that this pattern would suit without major alterations?

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  15. I love this post, your freezer comments had me in stitches! I'm very interested in these pens and must find one - having accidentally heat sealed my quilt marking lines on more than one ocassion! If ironing makes them permanent I wonder if freezing the quilt will make them disappear? Anyway, pen lines that disappear with heat sounds much more up my street, I'm not likely to put my quilt in the freezer by accident.

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  16. I love frixion pens - I bought them on your recommendation and find them brilliant for light fabrics, although on medium colours I have been left with a chalky mark. I would love to try my hand at this shirt too. However I should have to make it in something plain or stripey for my husband - his tastes so conservative that if he were to get the slightest hint that the shirt COULD be made in floral fabric he would worry!

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  17. Florence, I just love the shirt, it is so gorgeous. I have never used frixion pens but as i curse my chalk marker everytime I use it I think it is time i treated myself to one. No doubt you are getting lots of sewing done in this weather x

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  18. Gorgeous! I love this! That Liberty lawn is a perfect choice!

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  19. I'm an enthusiastic sewer, but not amazingly confident with clothes.

    I can make any cushions, curtains etc no probs.

    But garments intimidate me a little (they have to fit someone!).

    Anyway, how would you rate this pattern?

    Beginner, intermediate or advanced?

    I've been working on making some simple things for me and recently promised my man tailor-made shirts and I'm now at a loss to know how to begin! Ooops :)

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  20. Wow that looks amazing! So much so that i've just bought the pattern so that i can have a go too. I love the Liberty fabric but it is pricey and will end up being a very expensive shirt when you need 3m of it so will have to look out for another fabric. Can't wait to get started.

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  21. I loved the shirt the first time you made it, but I think this one is even nicer.

    I've heard tell, that if chewing gum gets stuck to fabric, a good way to remove it is to put it in the freezer to harden. It can then be easily (allegedly) pulled off.
    Like you say though you'd need a big freezer to get a quilt in.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x