Friday, 26 December 2014

Panel Pants II

I've finally got round to photographing another pair of panel pants I made a few weeks ago!

Initially I wanted to overlay the black lacey fabric on top of the red velvet that I previously used on the front of my pants only this time use it as a back panel. I got everything cut out and was ready to sew together but I could NOT get the two layers of back, the gusset and the front layer to match up when sewing the main gusset seam! I attempted a few times but gave up before ruining all my pieces. I had stretched my front and gusset pieces out a little too much though, so I cut the bottom off and inserted a new middle/front piece which seemed to work.

My favourite thing about this pair was using the lace as the side panels. I used french seams to attach the side panels, they look neat but it made the elastic a bit lumpy when I attached it to the top. I finished them off with a little bow (pinched from a pair of Primark pants!). Yay


Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Boudoir Blushes Camisole and Shorts

This is my second make from the fabulous Secrets of Sewing Lingerie book!

I chose to have a go at this one as it seemed fairly simple in comparison to some of the other project, but also a good way to combine some of my new skills! The vest is made from two pieces cut on the fold and the front piece has one straight dart for each boob. The book suggests using a silk satin fabric to make the set from, but I decided to go for a crepe-back satin at £7.99 p/m. I found this fabric was less likely to fray quite so badly, but also had less drape than a silk fabric would have. If I have another go at this pattern in the future I think I might try a silk fabric in red. I was tricked into buying pink fabric after I saw how good the one in the book looked, then realised I don't really wear pink! Doh!

After sewing in the darts the next step was french seams along the side seams. I was quite proud of how neat they came out! My attention to accuracy at college is definitely paying off. When pressing the fabric I found it could withstand a lot more heat than silk could have, so that's another point in the crepe's favour!

The lace trim hides a sneaky reverse hem which I'd never tried before. I chose to use a zigzag stitch along the lace to make sure the hem was secure. I still need to practice joining the lace where it meets (I think I did it different each time!), but I don't think you would notice if I hadn't said anything!

It took me a few attempts before I got the hang of just where to stitch when doing the shell stitch around the top of the back. I ended up going round and marking every 3cm so that they didn't come out wonky! I quite like the effect though- another sneaky way of doing a hem without anyone stitches showing!

To make the straps for this garment I was required to make two long pieces of rouleau. Not done this before! It's fairly easy in theory but I did find that the width of my straps was a bit wobbly which wasn't ideal once they were folded and sewn into place. I will be extra careful next time. The attaching of the straps was fairly simple- my hand stitching is not great but shhhh!

The shorts were also made from two pieces of fabric and sewn together with french seams. The top features an encased elastic waistband. For the first time I did a row of stitching along the top and the bottom of the casing before inserting the elastic and found it looks 100x more professional! Will have to be careful in future if I do this not to make the case too narrow for the elastic though.
The shorts also feature a cute little petal gusset where the french seams meet between the legs. I followed the instructions in the book which told me to attach this before adding the lace around the leg holes. This backfired and I had to take the gusset off again later so that the stitching around the reverse hem of the legs didn't go over the gusset. Ooops!

The final adornment was the double box bow that was added to the front of the waistband. I could have hidden my join in the stitching behind this but I'd joined my stitches at the back! I am really happy with the way my bow turned out, though a little disappointed you can't see it when I have the camisole on!

My main regret is not making the set in red with black lace instead. But there's always next time!


Saturday, 13 December 2014

Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Babycakes Bra

After having a go at a few pairs of knickers I have really got the lingerie-making bug! I picked up Katherine Sheers and Laura Stanford's Secrets Of Sewing Lingerie book so I could have a go at a few different patterns.

The book covers all kinds of different makes and all the sections are really well explained and illustrated. The only thing putting me off getting started was collecting all the different materials needed. The lady in the fabric shop looked rather blankly at me when I said I wanted a swan-hook. Luckily for me I had a few old bras at hand so recycled hoops and sliders off the straps.

I was relived to find that the Babycakes Bra only required to pieces cutting out- the rest relied on careful alignment of lace and elastic! After having practiced darts over the past couple of months I felt quite confident with the cup darts. I was pleased to find they were a perfect fit!
The pattern suggested using rigid tulle, but it seemed a little difficult to get hold of round here. Instead I used a stretchier lacy tulle-type fabric. I'm not sure if I would need to make the next cup size up if I were to use a rigid fabric next time.

Another material I struggled to get hold of was 'strap'. The pattern suggests buying 2 meters of the stuff, but the strap I found in local haberdasheries was definitely no good for lingerie. There is a real lack of fancy elastic around here too. In the end I ended up buying a pair of ready-made detachable straps (boo) and butchering some old ones so they had hoops instead of detachable hooks. They were surprisingly easy to sew though which was a relief!

The centreback of the pattern features this snazzy gated swan-hook type fastening. This was really the only thing on my bra I wasn't really happy with. Firstly the strap I used was clearly different on the front and back so the folding of it looks really obvious. Secondly it was really difficult to get the angles of each triangle to match. it was important they were the same length and met in the middle. The positioning and the angling of the join to the back of the bra was also really important. I thought I'd done an okay job until I tried it on and found the end of the wings that join the strap both buckle up in the middle. I thought putting the final strip of strap over the top of the join as a kind of boning would help hold it down, but it just seems to have accentuated it! I am thinking about maybe finding some actual boning and seeing if that will help it keep the right shape.

I am really looking forward to having a go at some more of the things from the book. There is a satin shorts and cami set with my name all over it!


Currently listening to: Calexico, Trigger (Revisited)

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Love Sewing Magazine Wiggle Dress

Issue 6 of Love Sewing Magazine includes the fabulous Eva Dress pattern by Eliza M. The pattern is designed for stretchy knit fabrics which I finally have the confidence to tackle after making a few pairs of knickers. The use of stretchy fabric allows the dress to fit curves, making it look vintage and wiggly!

This dress was actually the first time since school that I have used interfacing fabric! I was slightly put off back in the day when the fabric school provided us with didn't seem to take kindly to ironing (!) and didn't iron on to the dress fabric! Since starting sewing again this year I have been a bit scared to pick it up and have a go again because there seems to be so many different types and I haven't wanted to ruin my garments.
Obviously this dress needed a neck and arm facing so I couldn't really avoid it this time. I found that just half a metre was 60p in Hillsborough fine fabrics which was a pleasant surprise. After ironing it on to my fabric I next zig-zagged the edges of my facing. I learnt the hard way that is was better to have the interfacing facing me while sewing otherwise the presser foot on the machine stretched the knit fabric and it lost it's shape.
Once sewn into the dress around the neck and arm holes I worried that the neck facing pulled the outside fabric and stopped it laying flat (the facing now being non-stretchy as the interfacing is not stretchy). I wondered if maybe not attaching the iron on interfacing to the facing in the first place could have avoided this? I also read there was such thing as stretchy iron-on interfacing fabric so maybe that would be a possibility next time.

When tacking in the zip it became very clear that the back of the dress was going to be much too big. There was gaping at the neck and bagginess around my bum! I lined up the zip so that it took in more fabric and trimmed off the excess at the end. The neckline sat much better but there was still too much fabric around my waist and bum. I decided to have a go at altering darts for the first time as I knew I wouldn't be happy with the fit otherwise.
I wasn't too sure what I was doing so it was a bit of trail and error. I set my machine to long stitches and changed the colour to white so I could tack in some potential new darts and try them before I committed. I made the darts longer (making the widest angle of the dart slightly lower than it was before and larger so more fabric was taken in). My first attempt didn't quite take enough in, so I tried a second one and was amazed at how much better the back of my dress fitted! I duplicated this dart on the other side of the dress making it equal and took out my tacking.

My three dart attempts and the excess fabric around the zip

I was so happy with these darts I am thinking about maybe altering the ones on the back of my Megan Dress as the lower back is a little baggy! I find it really hard to see what the back of my garments look like while making so am contemplating getting a mannequin for Christmas :)


Monday, 27 October 2014

Panel Pants

After falling in love with So Zo's Pants pattern I made another pair of lacy knickers!
This time I slightly altered the pattern so that the front panel used a different fabric. I added an extra cm to the fabric at this join for seam allowance.

I used a velvety fabric with a smooth back (I'm sure it has a proper name?) That was £3.99 p/m from the fabric shop in Hillsborough (blimey it was busy in there today!) along with the same stretchy tshirt fabric and stretchy lace I used for my last pair. While I was there I also picked up some slightly more dainty elastic and some more lace for trimmings.

Next I want to have a shot at making a high-waisted pair, again with a panel. I am uncertain though as to whether I would need to taper the panel for shaping? Might ask my tutor next time I'm at college.


So Zo's free Knicker pattern

The amazing Zoe Edwards has uploaded a fab free pants pattern to her blog for anyone wanting to have a go at making their own knickers!
This is the first pattern I have printed off from the computer, but it was very simple to stick the sheets together! I was a bit nervous about using stretch fabric as I've had a bit of bad luck with it in the past! I invested in some ball-point needles and also some stretch needles (not really knowing the difference!?) and didn't seem to have a problem this time!

The pattern is made up of three pieces, front, back and gusset. I also used some lace that I found on the market for going round the the leg holes instead of using elastic. The elastic I used on the waist was a little too bulky, but it worked fine once I had got the hand of sewing it on (I made a test pair first!).

I used flat elastic instead of Fold over elastic as I couldn't find such a thing here in Sheffield! I was looking for lingerie elastic with little bobbles on but that seemed difficult to source on my trip out. I sewed it to the front of the pants then folded it over to the back, sticking again with a wide zig-zag stitch.

I chose stretchy lace fabric for the back for some sexiness!

The pattern was really fun to follow, and Zoe's instructions are beautifully written and photographed! Can't go wrong!


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Love Sewing Magazine Kimono

Issue 5 of Love Sewing Magazine features this lovely easy sew kimono pattern that I decided to have a go at at home while we are still messing about threading up the machines in class.

I found this viscose fabric at the Direct Fabric Warehouse again in Sheffield. There were a couple that caught my eye but I was particularly keen on the large print of this one.

The instructions in the magazine were really easy to follow, from layout and cutting to assembling the garment. It wasn't until I reached the stage of sewing the side seams that I realised the pattern involved using french seams. This was my first attempt at sewing french seams and it seemed to go pretty well.

The only problem I really faced in making the kimono was when adding on the band that goes around the front and neck of the garment. The instructions say to attach the ends at the left and right side first then fold over and sew the folded band to the inside of the kimono. I found that I hadn't cut the band accurately enough, so the band didn't quite match up on the inside. I undid one of the ends I had previously sewn and trimmed a little at an angle so it would fit. Sewing the inside of the band to the inside of the kimono required hand sewing so the invisible catch-stitches could hold it into place.

I love the pattern because it can be worn tied up or let down. The fabric does tend to crease quite easily though! I am very tempted to make a longer version to wear as a dressing gown :)


Currently listening to: Robert Farnon, Manhattan Playboy

Friday, 26 September 2014

Margot's for Men

After making some shorts for myself using Tilly's Margot pyjama pattern, and seeing Lazy Daisy Jones's fantastic men's pyjamas I decided it was finally time to make something for someone other than myself.

I found this fabric for £5.99 p/m at Direct Fabric Warehouse in Sheffield. I was looking for something fairly neutral and this seemed to do the trick.
I made a few changes to the pattern, firstly by adding an extra few cm's onto the top so that the crotch would hang a little lower.

After the first fitting I found the legs looked really baggy, so I tacked in some new seams and gave them another try before machining them and cutting off the old ones.
I reached a bit of a problem when I came to turning over the waistband as I had tapered the extra cms I added to the top, meaning that when I turned over the fabric it was smaller than the fabric I wanted to sew it too on the outside. To rectify it, I turned the waistband over a little less... Then I found this meant that the hole I'd left for the drawstring was in the wrong place.
I'd intended on using elastic and inserting a pretend drawstring, so I still did this, but the drawstring pops out a little lower than initially planned!

I think they look pretty good! I've tried them on myself and they fit me too! I have enough fabric left over to make myself some....
Thanks to my lovely BF for modelling!

Currently listening to: Haydn, Clock Symphony

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Malika Favre inspired Grecian Dress

After the success of my Grecian Dress I made from the DIY couture book I knew I wanted to make another in different fabric. I found this fabric in a shop in Hillsborough called Fine Fabrics and fell in love with it. It reminded me of some of the design work my favourite illustrator Malika Favre has done in the past.

Malika Favre's Hide and Seek Exhbition

Malika Favre for Carluccio's

I was a bit worried about how thin and stretchy the fabric was, but it was only £3.99 a meter so couldn't really say no! Thankfully the fabric was woven not jersey so I didn't have the same problems I'd had when I made my first grecian dress, but I did find cutting the fabric accurately was difficult with it pulling all over the place!
I tried putting in a thicker piece of elastic as a waistband but it was disastrous! Sewing it along the top was fine but keeping both the elastic and dress equally taught while sewing around the bottom was impossible! I'm sure there is a really easy trick to it, but I have no idea and didn't want to risk trying again as I was already in danger of destroying my fabric!
Luckily I'd got a little strip of thin elastic sitting in my sewing box so I took my first attempt off and put that on the same way I had on my cartoon dress. I think I put it on a bit wonky :(

After putting on my elastic and trying on I found that this fabric was a bit flappier than the jersey I made my first dress from so I needed to make the bodice a little tighter. I sewed in a new set of seams up to the elastic to make it fit better and it seemed to work. Yay!

Beyond that the hemming and neckline was pretty simple. I cut the neck a little bigger as I pulled a thread on the fabric while cutting (such delicate stuff!) and tried to cover it up! You can still see it a bit but I don't think it's blindingly obvious.


Currently listening to: 'If I Don't' Secret Sisters

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Love At First Stitch: Margot Pyjamas

I was eager to make something simple after spending a couple of weeks on my Megan Dress, so I flipped to the front of the book and eyes up the Margot Pyjamas. Having already made a pair of tartan trousers before I got Tilly's book (they are much too big and currently sat in my wardrobe waiting for alterations...) I decided to make a pair of shorts. This decision was confirmed even further when it transpired that there was only 3/4s of a metre of the fabric I wanted left at the market!

They were pretty easy to make, I was particularly proud of my neat drawstring and drawstring hole! The drawstring was basically just a long strip made the same way I'd made bias-binding threaded through a fold at the top of the shorts.

I attempted to put some turn-ups on the bottoms as they were a bit too long, but it was a lot of messing about to get the stitching in the right place to have the right-side of the fabric showing. Not to worry though, I didn't mind having a simple hem along the bottom instead.


Currently listening to: 'Let's Jump The Broomstick' Brenda Lee

Love At First Stitch: Megan Dress

Gulp! This was the first time I had to trace off a pattern! I followed Tilly's favourite method of using a tracing wheel which worked well until I had to get my yellow carbon paper to show up!

After getting all my bits cut out I did my usual thing of thinking that my garment was going to be too big and played it close to the edge with the seam allowances. As I result I had to change the angle of the shoulder seams but that seemed to go okay.
This was the first item I'd put some proper dars into, which was a bit scary, I didn't want my boobs to look dodgy! Without paying enough attention to the instructions I rushed into putting my darts in and sewed them on the wrong side! What a fool! I soon learned to take my time with it though and was much more careful with the rest of the seams.

When it came to putting in the zip, I had quite a bit of left over fabric (But hey, over-estimating is better than under-estimating right?) so turned under quite a bit of fabric when pinning in the zip. I got it fitting quite snugly until I re-read the instructions and found it was meant to be a CONCEALED zip, not a normal zip. Then after going out to buy a concealed zip I read I needed a concealed zip foot for my machine... and then also a standard zip foot! I didn't really mind spending money on these though as I knew they were things I was going to hopefully be using time after time again. And it made for a great result on on dress! the zip is completely concealed! Yay!

I was a bit of a wimp when it came to doing the neckline-facing the way Tilly suggested in her book. After getting on so well with bias-binding on my past projects I decided I would make quite a thick neck out of the same fabric as the skirt. Stupidly I didn't really consider how much taller it would make the dress and the back and as a result meant that I should have put the zip in a little higher. Not to worry though, I made do with a sneaky hook and eye to stop my neck flapping around. The neckband I sewed in also has a tendency to pull at the bodice on one shoulder a bit, but once I've had the dress on for a little while it seems to settle onto my body a bit better.

I learned loads and gained a lot of confidence from making the Megan Dress. So far I've worn it out to dinner with friends who couldn't believe I'd made it and also on a Saturday night date :-)


Currently listening to: 'Above As Below' Nicole Atkins

DIY Couture Skater Skirt

After a resounding success of my Grecian Dress I gave another pattern in the book a go. I took another trip to the market and picked up some yellow gingham. There really seems to be a lack of yellow gingham items in the shops! So I thought making my own would be the perfect solution.

I eagerly followed all the instructions in the book and cut out two half circles to make the skirt. It wasn't until I got them sewn up that I realised the skirt was MUCH too big to fit around my waist! All the pies in the world weren't going to make this guy fit snugly! So I re-read the instructions and tried to make it smaller, this time really buggering it up and making something big enough to fit Barbie. I ended up buying more fabric and re-reading again. I found the skirt was frustratingly STILL much too big. It said in the book if it was too big then you could cut some off, but I found it really difficult to know what angle to cut my chunk off. The result of this, it warned me, was that it could slightly change the way the skirt hangs. You can kind of tell a little bit when I am wearing it, but if I don't tell anyone I don't think they will know!

After putting it together I was quite disappointed to find that the fabric was ridiculously see-through! I was so disappointed! I knew I was faced with the options of either putting in a lining (erk!), or making an underskirt. I ended up knocking together a really tiny skirt with a simple elastic waistband with what little gingham I had left to wear underneath. I really wish I'd picked a heavier fabric to make the whole thing out of. I find it's a bit too flappy and despite having a cased-bottom around the hem, the skirt is much too light and doesn't hang very well at all. So far I've only worn it out once, and that was just to watch telly at John's. I'm a bit timid to make another one out of something heavier as I really couldn't work out why the sizing wasn't working in the first place.

For the sake of these photos and bragging on Facebook, the skirt doesn't look to bad, but it's not something I want to wear on a windy day. Lesson learned.


Currently listening to: 'We Wait Too Long' Nicole Atkins

Grecian Dress (It's My Best Dream)

Project number one was the easiest looking pattern I could find out of my D.I.Y Couture book by Rosie Martin that John got me for my birthday.

The book is awesome because it talks even the blindest beginner right through each step. Superbly illustrated, I knew when I unwrapped this gem that I would have no excuses not to make things anymore. Each project in the book features variations on the pattern so you can make the garment really individual.

I picked up my fabric from the local market, asking the lady rather excitedly for some advice. I was looking for something a bit tropical looking, but fell in love with a rather vividly patterned cartoon fabric. I was told it would be easy to sew as it wasn't too thick and had a good stretch so it should be easy to make it fit.
Having never really done anything like this before, I didn't realise that stretch fabrics are a nightmare to sew!! I felt like I was stumped before I'd even really got going!
After swapping my machine needle for a smaller one and with a bit of perseverance I stitched in a few wobbly seams and assembled the garment!
I was particularly impressed at how easy it was to sew in the elastic waistband, the trick being to match it up with all the mid-points on the dress and keep it taught. In hindsight I would probably have used a thicker band of elastic, but there is chance for that next time!

The fabric is hilarious because it doesn't actually make sense, (my favourite quote being 'It's my best dream!') but I love it all the same. It never fails to pick up a few comments from customers when I wear it to work.
The stretch of it came in handy when I added a bias bound neckline. The prospect terrified me, but it actually turned out really well!

I think I made it a bit too short, which is a bummer because I actually cut quite a bit off thinking it was too long! I can easily get away with it if I'm wearing leggins but wouldn't like to try it without!