Sunday, 15 April 2018

McCalls M7634, Tracksuit Bottoms

Part two of my McCalls M7634 pattern sporty set!

I was so in love with my hoodie, there was no way I wasn't gonna make the matching bottoms. I had some left over fabric, grosgrain ribbon, ribbing and drawstring lace. My only addition to my stash for this project was some wide elastic to add to the waistband. Although the pattern doesn't mention it, I thought it would be a good call to save any embarrassment whilst doing my starjumps.

The bottoms include two side pockets and a bum pocket. The shorts pattern include two bum pockets, so you can mix and match that bit up if you fancy. I added a 2cm strip of medium weight interfacing to the seams joining the opening of the pocket to the trousers so that the pocket didn't gape. I thought it might be a bit risky not using a stretch interfacing, but seeing as that area shouldn't stretch anyway I thought I could get away with it. The pockets are then pressed, understitched, then topstitched for a nice clean finish.

The bum pocket is just a square of fabric with the edges folded in. Again I used a little strip of interfacing to add some sharpness to the top fold.The pocket is then edge stitched onto the bum between the placement dots.

Next is the side seams. I stitched up with the recommended 1.5cm seam allowance then pinned the inner leg seam. The trousers fit my legs but I knew that if I was ever going to wear them for sports I would have to crop them to just below knee length and add a rib cuff. I took 41cm from the bottom of each leg. This also meant narrowing the legs to avoid a genie trouser situation!! I stitched a new seam about an inch inward from the outside leg seam (so 2 inches in total), which I then graded back out to meet the original seam just below the pocket.

It is essential to get this seam perfect at this stage, as the next step is sewing on your ribbon stripes before the inner leg seam is closed up. This goes over the outside seam, so to change it later on you'd have to remove your stripes which I guess would be a real pain.

After attaching my Badidas stripes, but before committing my inner leg seam, I pinned in the crotch seam and tried on. It's reaaaally hard to tell how/where they are gonna sit before the waistband is on there, but it was clear that there was a bit too much 'bag' going on at the front and also a little gape at the centre back. To start with I changed the pins so that I took an extra triangle out at the centre front and centre back seam. This was better but the front still had too much fabric, so I changed the curve, taking more in across my lower hip line, effectively making less fabric wrinkles around my girlbits.

It's hard to tell how your bums looking at this point, even with some creative mirror placement, but I felt there was a bit too much fabric there too. This time I think it was coming from the inner leg seam and I would have to remove some of this too. So again I re pinned about and inch inward from the bottom. The new seamline ended up a bit crazy, with about an inch taken in all the way up then quite a sharp curve to the crotch point back to 1.5cm seam allowance.

Basically there was no mathematic formula, I played about with pins for ages until my ass looked good then took a deep breath and committed to stitch. Once happy I overlocked the leg seams, then stitched, reinforced and overlocked the crotch seam. I did that much changin I didn't trust altering the paper pattern to try and match for next time. The bagginess in the legs would have been fine if I'd been making the full length version so I didn't really want to make any major changes.

As I mentioned before, the pattern uses only a piece of ribbing as a waistband. Might be alright for sitting around on your bum all day but if yer going running or anything the last thing you want on your mind is your trousers falling down. I decided to add elastic for safety as well as a drawstring, both for extra reinforcement and an excuse to get the eyelets out again! I had to wing it all a bit as none of this was in the pattern. I was convinced it would go a bit wrong at some point so was totally amazed when it worked out.
So, to make my waistband:

1- Cut ribbing to required length (I tried on the unfinished trousers then wrapped the strip around to try and gauge.)
2- Open out and stitch centreback seam in waistband with right sides together.
3- Find centre front of waistband by folding. Measure out 2cm either side from centre and mark for eyelets. Remember to not include seam allowance when measuring upwards.
4- Cut another square of ribbing to line up with the centre front. I wanted to add some extra strength around the eyelet holes but did not want to use fabric that would not stretch.
5- Insert eyelets through front of waistband and stability square.
6- Gauge length of elastic required (remember to include seam allowance) and cut. Stitch ends together then line up with the centre back seam of ribbing which would sit against the body. Stitch down through the centre back seam and elastic join. It is important to do this on the body side not the outside of the waistband as the drawstring has to run freely around the outside of the elastic inside the ribbing. OK?
7- Pin waistband closed at notches and thread through drawstring. Try and keep it flat otherwise you'll hate yourself later.
8- Match mid points on waistband to CB/CF and midpoints on the trousers, right sides together and matching raw edges. Deep breath and then overlock together, stretching out the waistband as you go. DONE!

As you can imagine, I was very pleased when this was attached and I was allowed to breathe again. I was even more pleased when I tried on and they sat exactly where I wanted them!!

Final stage was to add ribbing to the bottom of the legs. I guessed the length of ribbing and seemed to get it okay. It's the same process of stretching out as you sew. I could maybe have done with a little less fabric in the back leg (still a little genie!) but I'm HAPPY with them. In fact in this moment as I type this I am feeling HAPPY in general, and it's real nice. Everyone loves a week off work yeh!


Check back on my previous post to see how I made my McCalls M7634 hoodie. All together they look a bit like this:


Location: Ellis Street Car Park, Shalesmoor Sheffield
Currently Listening to: Disorder, Joy Division

Sunday, 8 April 2018

McCalls M7634, Hooded Sweatshirt

Like a lot of bloggers I set myself a few sewing goals at the start of January. Tying in with my fitness goals for the year, the McCalls 7634 tracksuit patterns really caught my eye.

I can't lie, what I instantly loved about this pattern was the deep neckline and the sexy crossover lacing. I thought this added a really unique twist to the standard tracksuit drawstring and I was excited about trying eyelets for the first time!

There are four different views to play about with for the tracksuit top, including a pouch pocket, crossover drawstring, cutaway shoulders, ribbed cuffs and waistband and longer length. I chose view A as I was excited about the matching cuffs and bottom band as well as the lacing. I made a size 12- with the only alteration to the pattern being adding an extra inch into the bodice length.

It looks a little short when you're cutting out, but you have to remember the ribbed band adds about 2.5 inches to the length. Size 12 was the largest in the small size. It's not meant to be too close fitting- I was really happy with the fit.

My fabric choice was the sportiest looking jersey from Abakhan. I'd intended to buy something a little fleecier, but I was really excited about the different grey gradients in the fabric so bought the lot. For the contrast (cuffs, drawstring and go-faster arm stripes) I decided to use all black. Cutting out the fabric was awkward as it was SO off-grain! The stripes on the fabric were not even remotely parallel to the selvedges, which meant I couldn't cut anything on the fold. I lined up the grainline on the pattern pieces so they were all at right angles to the stripes, it felt so wrong!! It literally looks like I was cutting everything out diagonally. I'm so glad I did though. Once the top started to take shape it really does rely on those stripes not being wonky!

The pattern is really easy to follow. The little neck panels are interfaced so we can bang those eyelets in later, then inserted into the front piece. The arm stripes are just grosgrain ribbon stitched onto the sleeve before the underarm seam is stitched. Make sure you transfer all the pattern markings to make sure the ribbon is straight when you sew it on! The sleeve stripe joins a shoulder stripe, so you gotta make sure they line up perfectly when you stitch the sleeves in.
Would absolutely love to make a black and white one next but worried Adidas might already be after me ;)

There's not much to say about the hood construction. It's really easy, you just sew the two hood pieces together then press the seam and topstitch. The head hole is turned under 6mm then a further 3cm then topstitched. To insert you just line up all the notches and markings then go for it!

The cuffs are cut from rib knit. They are deliberately shorter than the bottom of the sleeve so that you can stretch them out as you sew, then they gather up the sleeve fabric to make for a lovely fitted cuff. The bottom band is inserted in exactly the same way.

The final stage is the scariest!! Inserting the eyelets! I'm going to do a separate little step-by-step post on how to do this. It's not as scary as it first sounds though! You just have to make sure all your eyelets placements are marked out clearly and in line, then you can ensure the little hole you snip for the eyelet is in exactly the right place.

Threading the lace through the eyelets is probably one of the most satisfying things I've done in my sewing-life! So pleased! It's guaranteed my next make will be the matching bottoms. I have so much fabric left over I'm probably going to make the shorts too. This pattern is so great, it's really simple to put together but looks really professional when it's done. Can't wait to hit the track.

Wonder what blog post is coming next........?????


Location: Ellis Street Car Park, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Regulate, Warren G

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Simple Sew, Serena Dress

I love fabric as much as the next seamstress but I'm not much of a one for hoarding. Well okay maybe I am, I keep all my gig tickets and could find the candle from my 24th birthday cake or the spoon I nicked from Tom's house in a matter of seconds. With fabric though, I hate to buy and stash without a project in mind. Having two meters of this lovely lovely fabric in my stash since June last year has quite frankly been making me feel very anxious. It seems some things you just can't rush though, this was gonna be worth the wait.

I've had my eye open for the perfect pattern to pair it with, I even bought a New Look kaftan pattern thinking I had made up my mind, before I looked back on some old pics from last year and remembered how much I loved making the Serena pattern from Simple Sew. It's a Maxi dress pattern, but as I mentioned last time, and as you may have gathered, I'm more of a mini-dress kind of girl.

I love the shape of the bodice on this dress. I had a little trouble with gaping on my first version so this time I wanted to tackle this. To start with, I decided to interface the front bodice. My fabric is quite thin. Initially I used a medium weight interfacing, but it soon became clear that the bust darts would turn out a bit lumpy if I did this. Hastily I peeled my interfacing off (so professional), and chose a thinner one. I faced both the main fabric and the lining piece as it all felt quite delicate. I added a little extra stability around the neckline with the medium weight interfacing. Brilliant idea! I am now a 100% interfacing convert! I am going to stick it to everything! I love how the bodice instantly has shape but doesn't feel weird and stiff.

I had drawn on to my pattern the darts I had added to my first Serena. After stitching these in I wasn't sure they would be necessary. On my first I was faced with a little gaping around the underarm area and my darts were after thoughts to combat this. At this stage though, the extra stability in the neckline and the tiny bit more I'd taken from the centre front seemed to be doing the trick. It's really hard to tell fit at this point before the shirred back panel is in situ or before the straps are fastened to the back.

Shirring is something I both love and hate. When it all starts to take shape it looks really neato, but there's so much to go wrong. My problem seems to be pinging elastic when I have cut the tails too short. I really tried this time to make sure they all stayed put but I had to redo a couple, and don't tell anyone, one has pinged since completion :O

I used the foot width as a spacing guide, but think next time I will draw the lines on a little wider apart, for accuracy and because I think I could get away with less lines which equals less ball-ache haha! It's a bit fiddly matching your raw edges when you attach to the side panels because the elastic is pulling it all over the shop, but you just have to show it who's boss. Love it when you flip it all the right way round and all those edges are hidden inside the lining. Suddenly so neat!!!

The pattern advises stitching your straps into the back panels, but I knew I would want to shift the placement of mine around a bit once I had it on so I skipped this bit for later.

I'd made my own skirt pattern for the dress because I didn't want to cut it in panels as suggested. It looks ace on the maxi-dress but for the mini just not necessary. I can't remember how much I faffed about with the skirt last time, I know I fancied pleats instead of gathers like Crafty Clyde's lovely version, but when it came to it gathers just looked better with my fabric. I had settled on gathers again, for some reason my back skirt pattern piece was bigger than my bodice? It was solve-able just by tapering the side seams but really can't remember what I'd done with it last time!! For future reference I have not yet altered the pattern piece, but have saved the offcut of the side seam in the pattern packet to remind me for next time.

I decided I wanted to make the straps adjustable as my others have stretched out a bit and keep sliding off my shoulders. Luckily I'd got a couple of hoops and sliders knocking around and I remembered how to thread them so they actually slide. I made another shorter little strap to sew to the back with the hoops attached.

It wasn't until they were attached and dress pretty much finished that that underarm gaping seemed to appear! Why now! It's not major, I think it could be fixed in a number of ways, but all would involve unpicking the skirt from the bodice (but my gathers are so perfect aghhh) and getting inside the lining. I could then either increase the seam allowance at the underarm (a further cm just for that stretch maybe), or incorporate my bust dart that I thought I didn't need but actually do, which obviously would involve further unpicking in the lining seam before putting it in. A third option would be maybe slightly alter the angle where the front joins the side panel.
The only other thing I could think to do (which would be cheating but would work and would be much simpler), would be to just stitch through the front and lining to add my tiny underarm dart.... I'll update when I've decided!!

I did a tiny narrow hem to finish. Love the dress! I love the fabric and the colours and the style, and 99% of the fit! I'll get it perfect next time. I can't believe more people haven't made the Serena dress. If they have I want to see!! Hit me up if you have a Serena in your wardrobe ladies.

NB: Alteration made! I was psyched up for unpicking and adding my darts into the inside of my bodice, but I pinned them straight onto the bodice and the fit was so perfect I couldn't face risking unpicking. It's not cheating, because it looks so lovely it would be a waste to unpick. NEXT TIME I promise I will put these underarm darts into the construction instead of throwing them on at the end!


Location: Brown street, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Gravel Pit, Wu Tang Clan

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Simple Sew, Batwing Jumper and Dress

Seasonal is not a word many people associate with my sewing obsession, but these past few months have been exceptionally cold, and apparently the NHS can't afford to heat my new office so I had to take some drastic measures. By that I mean a quick hop on the train to Abakhan Manchester to find myself some lovely snuggly jumper fabric for my next Simple Sew Patterns make.

What attracted me to the Batwing jumper was that lovely Polo neck. I've had a couple of Primark polo necks on rotation this winter so was definitely about time I made my own. Those snuggly sleeves had me excited too, and some cuffs I could hide my paws in without pulling the neckline off my shoulder!!

I was excited to find that the jumper (or dress if you choose to make the longer version) is pretty much just one big piece. When I'd finished even my brother inspected it and said hey that's cheating haha. You cut on the fold which runs down the centre of the dress then a few additional strips for the cuffs and neck.

The pattern suggests attaching the cuffs to the flat sleeve ends before sewing the underarm/side seam, but having made a few jumpers before I decided I would add these on once the sleeves were made. This way I could stretch out the cuffs to fit and make sure no draught would be getting up there!! It's a little bit fiddly on the overlocker as the cuffs are so narrow. You gotta be careful not to sew your hand holes together!!

I cut the dress pattern, but when I tried it on I knew it just didn't suit me. So I did a typical me and cut the bottom off. I thought it might look kinda sassy with a wider waist cuff than the one in the pattern, so the jumper could kind of poof down over it. The tip is just to make the waistband shorter than the jumper so you have to stretch it out when sewing, then it all gathers flatteringly at the waist.

Before I'd put the neck on I was already loving the jumper. I almost talked myself out of putting the neck on because I didn't want to ruin it! I had to remember though that that polo neck was the main reason I wanted to make this pattern so I went ahead as planned. The piece is a strip folded in half width-ways then short ends sewn together. The raw edges are then overlocked to the neckline. I've never liked my polo necks too high so I'm in the habit of folding them over twice. If I make another I think I might just make it half the width as its a little bit bulky at the centre back seam when folded over.

Then that's it really! It's a super simple pattern but really effective design. My fabric is super snuggly and warm so feels like I'm wearing a big hug! I was worried they grey might look a bit boring but it reminds me a bit of an (ex) boyfriend jumper, so brings the warm memories too ha!

I definitely recommend getting your hands on the Batwing Dress pattern! Who else has had a go?


Location: Castleton, Derbyshire
Currently listening to: The Passenger, Iggy Pop