Monday, 28 December 2015

Love Sewing Magazine/Simple Sew, Velvet Skater Dress

This pattern is a favourite of mine! I have worn my black jersey skater dress I made back at the start of Autumn loads (did I mention how versatile it is?!), so fancied making a slightly glitzier version in black velour, ideal for gigging.

I flicked back through my last two posts about this dress and remembered the fact I needed to add an inch or so onto the bodice length, and on my last version (due to stretch-factor), side seam allowance was 2.5 cm. I applied these changes to the pattern but somehow the bodice length is still much too short! The skirt should start on my waist but instead starts much too high. I attempted to attach a kind of waistband to the dress but it added an awkward layer of bulk around my midriff which I definitely wasn't going for! I can sort of disguise the bodice length with a craftily placed belt, but it's still a bit of a bummer.

What I lacked in bodice length though, I made up for in sneakiness elsewhere. I completely omitted the zip or any kind of fastening from from the dress! The velour is really stretchy so can get away with pulling it over my head no problems!

I made one other main change to the pattern, and that was cutting the circle skirt in four separate bits instead of two. Due to the nap of the fabric (it only goes one way, other wise the touch makes everyone criiiiinge), cutting on the fold would have made the velour lie at a weird kind of diagonal angle. Instead I opted for 4 panels, all with correct nap. I wish I could recite some kind of mathematical formula for how I altered the pattern (I'm sure there is one?), but it was just good old trial and (hopefully not too much) error. I was determined not to have a seam up the centre front of the skirt, so the front panel lines up exactly between the front darts. The side panels on left and right go between front and back darts and the back panel between the two back darts. The fabric I had wasn't quite wide enough for full circle so I took a little off of each panel side. Like I say, all trial and error- I'm still surprised myself I didn't end up with four misshapen skirt bits good for nothing!

Skirt length would be fine if I'd made the bodice a little longer! It hangs a little on the short side- but hey, that could work in my favour. I'm toying with the idea of maybe adding a black lace trim to the bottom? I'm hoping Aimee is reading this as I know she will give me the best advice!


Currently listening to: Please Don't Call, Chris Isaak
Location: Fulwood Old Chapel, Sheffield

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Burda Sewing Vintage Modern, Frank Button-Down Shirt #6073

Finally! I've got round to making a proper man-make. An early xmas prezzy for my Brother. I found this pattern in a Burda book full of projects and pattern hack ideas. The Frank Button-Down Shirt didn't require any changes to the paper pattern supplied so seemed like a good place to start.
I've heard mixed things about Burda patterns so was expecting the worst. The only tedious part of using this pattern though was having to draw on all the seam allowances after tracing the pattern out. Very time consuming! The book says to add 1.3 cm to each seam allowance but I used a 1.5cm to make life much easier!

Once the paper pattern was drawn out and cut out, I knew that my next challenge would be tackling the pattern matching of the plaids. Despite the pattern not telling me so, I decided to cut what I could on the bias. This included the cuffs, button plackets, pocket flaps and yoke x2. Cutting these pieces diagonally meant that these seams didn't have to be pattern matched. For the pieces that did- the two front pieces, the back and the sleeves, I opted to cut on a single layer instead of on the fold then match up the mirrored piece by laying my first cut piece on top of the fabric and making sure plaids matched exactly. I lay my back paper piece on top of the front fabric piece and drew on the dominant plaid lines at the side seams so that I could line these up on the back fabric piece. This meant my horizontal stripes run straight across the front and back of the shirt, as well as on the sleeve seams and quite importantly the pocket placement.

Although cutting like this requires patience and accuracy (and also takes up twice as much space as cutting on the fold!), I found it made actual assemblage of the shirt loads easier! Instead of matching up notches, I made sure I was matching up checks. I used a red vertical column (? I'm sure there's a sewing name?), as the centre back and made sure this matched at the collar and the centre of the diagonal plaids on the yoke. Precise cutting out made stitching all fall into place.

There were only a few small problems I ran into- The first that the fabric was very heat sensitive! I managed to scorch my collar when applying my interfacing- Thankfully plenty of fabric left to cut another! Ooops.

Check out the pattern matching on that side seam!

-My cuffs seemed a little longer than the end of the sleeves when it came to attaching them. The only thing I could think was that they had stretched out a little as they were cut on the bias. Better too long than too short- I made the seam allowance a little bigger and it was fine. I was worried then that the cuffs would be too small, but after a try-on found there were no problems at all.

-The main problem I found was that sewing on button holes where fabric was bulky around seams was a nightmare. Does anyone have any tips for this? The buttons on the placket were a dream, but the cuff buttons were horrible! My machine really seemed to struggle when it met a bit of bulk, particularly where the sleeve pleat and sleeve slit facing and cuff all met.

I was glad I'd had a few practice runs when it came to attaching collar/collar band, though Burda suggest doing it a little different. In the past I have attached the band to the neckline then the collar and inner band, however this time I put together all 4 pieces (collar x2 collar band x2) THEN attached to the neck line. I was surprised to find I found this much better as it was much easier to get a neater curve on the collar band when it wasn't already attached to the rest of the shirt.

Burda rate this pattern a 3 out of four on the difficulty rating! I think I did pretty well!

I'm very excited about getting an overlocker for Christmas so I can maybe actually start enjoying hemming. Either that or completely destroy them..... Time will tell!


Currently listening to: Magic Hour, Franc Cinelli
Location: Wyming Brook, Sheffield

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Love at First Stitch- Margot Pyjama Bottoms

The last time I saw my ex boyfriend he told me he'd broken the pyjama bottoms I'd made him. Admittedly on the list of dreadful things he's ever said to me, that isn't in the top 10, but either way it was still not great to hear. I've had a meter or so of the same fabric sat in my stash ever since I made them with one leg actually already cut out. What with my new found pattern matching skills I thought it was about time I made my own and really paid attention to matching those plaids.

It was a bit of a squeeze as I didn't have an awful lot left- the pattern matching on the bum is all about the horizontal and less about the vertical- but it's not bad! Side seams match up pretty well and the CF seam is a dream!

I thought to test my skills a bit I would give putting a pocket in a go. The result was neither success or failure- It's true I have a fully functioning pocket on the right hand side, but I put it in a little low and certainly didn't insert it the way you were meant to! Definitely something I can add to my 'to practice' list.

For the waistband I actually attached a length of ribbon to either end of a piece of elastic, allowing the elasticity to hold my bottoms up, but the ribbon peeks out and ties like a drawstring- best of both worlds! I think the use of red ribbon looks a bit festive- I am looking forward to snuggling up in them during the winter months!


Currently listing to: Not Guilty, Bryan Adams
Location, Home Sweet home, Sheffield

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Love Sewing Magazine, A Line Mini Skirt

I was dubious from word go at the idea of having a centre front seam. Sure I've seen them all round town and on the rails in Topshop, but I can't help but feel that having a seam down the centre front of your skirt always looks a bit... not quite right.
But you know me, always keen to do as I'm told, so my first attempt at the A line skirt from issue 18 of Love Sewing magazine features a big fat seam down the front. Admittedly it may have been slightly more attractive if I'd thought about pattern matching before cutting out my pieces and not just hoped for the best. I learnt three things-

1. Winging it when it comes to pattern matching rarely results in success.
2. Follow my instincts! If I know I'm going to hate something- a design feature or a fabric or a cut- Don't do it!! (Infact, it's finally sinking in that this doesn't just apply to sewing) And,
3. Although learning the technique at college, this was my first shot at an actual semi-concealed zip... And I love it! I found attaching the two back pieces and inserting the zip before tackling side seams particularly helpful when it came to fitting.

It's a shame- My black and white checkered mini skirt could have been super cute. The black and white is super 60s especially with my new love for roll neck jumpers, but I can't help but feel annoyed everytime I think about that CF seam! A line mini #2 was going to be my way or not at all!

I was looking for something seasonal at Direct Fabric Warehouse, that would make an autumnal-looking mini. The first fabric I went for was this woollen (but not heavy) plaid affair. The skirt only requires 1 metre of fabric- so I couldn't go wrong!

Before getting stuck in I read up pattern matching tips on a few blogs and made a note of a few things I wanted to change construction-wise after my first attempt.

1- Cut waistband double width and fold over instead of sewing on a lining piece
2- Cut waistband on the bias to avoid more pattern matching
3- Add 1cm seam allowance around hips, and an extra 1cm to hem
4- Cut both back pieces separately- laying the first piece on top of the fabric and matching the plaid so it looks camouflage.
5- Cut the front piece on the fold! No centre front seam!!

The 'cutting the front piece on the fold' played hell with my grainline on the pattern- changing the angle of my pattern piece meant my grainline was no longer parallel to my selvedge. I wasn't too sure what else I could do to avoid a front seam though so thought I would just go for it anyway.
It didn't seem to have any real detrimental effect to my front piece, but what would have been a good idea would have been cutting the two back pieces at the same angle as the front. I think it's only noticeable to me, and maybe you now you've read this (are you still reading this?), but the pattern lines from the back meet the front lines at a bit of a funny angle at the side seams. I'm sure this is all to do with the grainline thing but I would take that any day over that front seam! I was more eager to get my horizontal lines to meet nicely at the side seam than my vertical lines- so was actually pretty pleased with my matching.

Talking of happy pattern matching- I couldn't be happier with my centre back! Don't worry, if I catch anyone looking at my bum in this skirt I know it's because you're checking out my spot on pattern matching. It turns out paying attention while cutting out is actually very helpful!

After stitching up and fitting, I found I wanted to take a little out of the 'A' shape. I don't know if it was something to do with those dodgy angles on the side seam, or if maybe I've never actually been convinced by an A line before, but something about it made it look as if there was just an extra angle of fabric that wasn't necessary, so I chopped it out and stitched back up. I think it still passes for A line though?

Worst bit of the construction was the fastening at the waist band. I ended up just wishing I'd bought a longer zip and zipped right up to the top, but there was no I way I gonna take it out and risk messing up that back seam! Basically the magazine suggests the waistband overlaps and is fixed with a hook and eye but it really wasn't cutting it for me. Instead I rooted around a bit and found some of my Gran's old sew in poppers to hold down the overlap. I loved the poppers but think the fastening is visually the weakest part of the skirt. I always seem to battle with waistband bulk!

A line #2 was much better than A line #1 and using less than 1m of fabric a time, when the weekend rolled around I was eager to get stuck into A line #3!

Number 3 it made from a feltier fabric that I have been eying up for ages! This was almost the fabric I chose for the matching skirt and dog coat back in spring, but didn't think Marble would be too keen on the pink stripes. The pin stripes gave me another opportunity to practice my new found pattern matching skills. I think I excelled myself this time! On realising that the back pieces were very similar to the front piece- I folded my cut out front and did the camouflaging thing to make sure the sides would line up and hopefully avoid dodgy angles that occurred on #2. I took a little out of the A shape at the cutting out stage to hopefully avoid faffing about later when I inevitably decided that I'm still not sold on A shape.

The centre back seam was another dream come true, the centre front seam didn't exist and thanks to careful measuring and matching and holding my breath, the side seams matched up perfectly! I tried on and realised that I really really wasn't down with A line, so cut off the corners and made A line #3 distinctly... Straight. So much for avoiding faffing! I think if I pick a fabric that isn't quite so linear in design, and maybe isn't so rigid (or perhaps more rigid?) then I could make an A line skirt that I would be happy to wear. It's nothing personal A line- On this occasion, it's me not you.

Again, I found very little enjoyment in the construction of the fastening but knew I needed a shorter overlap on the waistband than last time (but not too short!) and a couple of strategically placed poppers. It's better, but not perfect.

The sneaky icing on the cake for both skirts is my blind hem! Completely invisible from the front and makes me smile every time I catch sight of it, or rather every time I don't catch sight of it.

So there you go! A bit of a long post today, but I haven't posted for a while and it's sort of three blogs in one. I'm loving these thick fabrics with boots and tights before the Winter really kicks in.

Happy Autumn everybody!


Currently listening to: EST, White Lies
Location: Crookes Cemetery, Sheffield

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Love Sewing Magazine/Simple Sew, Simple Black Skater Dress

Back in May I took part in sewing challenge Me Made May, where by each day I planned to wear an item I had made. Since then I have tried extra hard to make garments from patterns I know I will wear, out of fabric I know I will wear.
This skater dress is not the most exciting item I've ever made- but what I wanted to do was make an garment that was versatile for any occasion. And I think it was a rousing success! The mission when I woke up on Saturday morning was to make a dress suitable to wear on the farm, for a Silent Age gig that afternoon. I was up at 6:00, cut out by 8:30 and ready to leave the house at 4:00pm.

I used the same pattern pieces I had used for my Houndstooth skater dress but didn't fall in to the same traps as last time- I extended the facing pattern a little and was also bearing in mind that I was probably going to be using seam allowances larger than last time on the bodice side seams.

Once my front and back pieces were joined at the shoulders I pinned up the sides using a 2.5 cm seam allowance (1.5cm on the sleeves). After a try on I knew that the fit was much better already. I was using a thickish jersey fabric that I knew had a nice amount of stretch so wasn't too scared I was taking too much in.

This try-on step mid way through meant that when it got to the zip putting in stage I had much less to take in than I usually seem to. In fact- it looked like a normal seam allowance for once! After remembering my note to self from Crab Dress - 'Tack in zip next time!', I found that putting in the zip was a much much less stressful task than it usually is. The only part I found I really struggled with was sewing down the facing where it meets the zip. This always seems to be so lumpy! It took a few attempts but in the end I secured it with a few hand stitches and it now sits flat against my back.

Using jersey was fun and speedy as it meant I didn't need to zig-zag any edges (it that cheating?), this saved me loads of time and meant my dress was ready for showtime!

I am very happy with this dress. I set out for versatile and that's exactly what I achieved. It looks great with gold or silver jewellery, any colour cinch belt I can get my hands on, boots or flats. It survived a trip to the farm, a gig and a date- and that's all within 24 hours of being made!



Currently listening to: Fiend, Orgy
Location: Lynwood Gardens, Sheffield

Sunday, 30 August 2015

New Look K6217 Floral T-Shirt

It's another K6217! This was the third project I had in mind using my Abakhan supplies. I kept walking past this bold print, picking it up, putting it in my basket and putting it back until I held it up and Aimee said the print was great against my skin tone. I must say I too was feeling it when I held it up and thought another simple K6217 T shirt would be as good a pattern as any.

There was very little difference in how I made my Anchor K6217 and how I made this Floral one. If you recall what really bugged me about my previous was that I didn't pattern-match the centre back seam. Well this print is much bolder so it didn't matter this time round!
I stuck with the extra inch or so that I'd added to version one as I found the extra length is really handy for tucking into a pencil skirt for work, and also for teaming with jeans for say, a date to the cinema or something!

This time I also decided to french seam the side and shoulder seams which looks dead neat. I used a twin needle to hem the bottom, just for a bit of a top-stitch feature. Very happy with my bias binding neckline- also very neat!

And that's about it really! A good example of how lovely fabric can really make a simple pattern come to life.


Currently listening to: All My Friends, LCD Soundsystem
Location: Botanical Gardens, Sheffield

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Sew Magazine, New Look K6107 Blouse

Project number two to feature fabric from the Abakhan trawl is another free pattern from Sew Magazine! I thought it was about time I made a blouse for work that wasn't a Lottie! Though this pattern is not without its similarities- a neckband/tie and gathered sleeves. The differences that attracted me however were the cute cuffs and button up front on the blouse.

I had my reservations about using such a sheer fabric. I've read about enough of other Blogger's disasters when using sheer fabric, so planned on being as accurate as possible when cutting out. I used lots of pins with my pattern which was great but did find the bottom layer of fabric did distort and in some cases ended up a rather different size to the top piece.
Also, besides being stretchy and slippery, it was also prone to fraying! I kept an eye on this though and opted for French Seams where possible- making sure raw edges were thoroughly encased! Size-wise, I cut a 12 but was a 10 for the bust so used a 2cm seam allowance for the side seams that I gradually graded out to a 1.5 at the waist and hips.

My favourite part of making the blouse was constructing the facing/button area at the front. Instead of buttonholes this pattern uses button loops like on my Crab Dress. So I'm finding I'm getting pretty good at loops! The loops are cut on the bias so they have stretch to go around the button. This is a good job otherwise my buttons would have been a squeeze too big! On the opposite side to the button loops there is an underlap which sits behind the buttons and hides any gaping between them. Never done an underlap before! I thought my debut turned out pretty neat.
Both sides of the opening are faced. I had a bit of a panic when starting the garment as I have never interfaced sheer fabric before! And I'm sure I remembered something off of this years Sewing Bee about not using standard facing for sheer fabrics. So I read up a little, and instead I cut an additional piece of that stretchy, slippery, fraying fabric and stitched it in as interfacing instead of using iron on. I've got to say- It worked out pretty well! Go me!

On my Lottie Blouses I've always seemed to have a bit of grief regarding getting the neckband to line up around the neck just quite how I want it to. This pattern being a little more detailed, I made extra effort to transfer all markings on the pattern on to the fabric. I was awash with tailors tacks! I get the feeling if I'd used friendlier fabric these tacks would have been absolutely life saving. In this instance though I would describe them as handy, but not perfect. Either way, they resulted in a swifter process of attaching neck band to blouse.
The worst bit about sewing on the neckband though was the dreaded 'Stitch in the Ditch' from the front of the band to catch the back. I absolutely hated doing this and I'm not totally happy about how it turned out. Next time I am definitely definitely doing it by hand! I think a sneaky slip stitch is much much neater.

After this it was time to make the sleeves. I've got to admit I thought I was on my way once I'd got this far. Firstly the cuffs had to be made, which was quite fun as not something I'd done before. A little gap has to be made in the bottom of the sleeve, the sleeve then gathered, then stitched to the cuff which is longer one one side when it meets the gap. Then button and button hole sewn to match up. Does that make sense? Well I wish someone had told me before I started that that was what was meant to happen. I ended up with one good cuff and one that somehow didn't reach around my arm properly (I'm putting it down to those gathers). So I repeated the process for the dodgy side and ended up with a pair of cuffs I was pretty pleased with.
The shoulders of the sleeves were also gathered- alarm bells going off slightly at this point thinking there was an awful lot of gathering going on... But I went with it anyway and stitched in my sleeves.

After putting on my buttons and trying on the blouse properly I realised I absolutely couldn't stand the sleeves! I think it must be something to do with the qualities of the fabric- as I have gathered sleeve-caps in the past and had no problems- but these just seemed to POOF out (one more than the other might I add) and it looked so terribly 80s that I knew I would never ever wear it. I took the worst sleeve out and realised that the whole thing looked a TON better without sleeves in at all. So I whipped up some bias binding and bound the arm holes instead. It's a shame I didn't get to use my cuffs though! At least I have learnt a new skill for next time and I'm much happier with my blouse.

There were a few sketchy moments, but I guess that's what this is all about :)


Currently listening to: Green Honeycreeper, Olivia Jean
Location: Weston Park, Sheffield

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Sew It Yourself, New Look 6799 Misses Dress

True to form, this pattern is another that came free with a sewing magazine! This time the (what appears to be) one off 'Sew It Yourself' mag from earlier this year.

Despite loving the cover design in yellow, I knew that if I went for yellow I was unlikely to wear the dress as often as I should. I knew I would know it when I found the perfect fabric so held out on making the project... Until I spotted some totally unique Crab design fabric in Abakhan Manchester with my good sewing friend Aimee. (Go check her blog RIGHT NOW) We were both pretty excited about the crabs so it ended up in my basket and Crab Dress 6799 became my first make from my Abakhan trawl.

The dress skirt is made up of 7 panels, the bodice is lined (!), the waist band is cut on the bias and also lined. The dress' main design feature though is the glorious wide, round neck band... Hmm more on that later!

I cut a size 12 according to my measurements, but knew then chance of the dress being a smidge too big was high. I took in a seam allowance of 2cm on the bodice instead of 1.5cm (same for the lining obvs), and did the same for the waistband. I found it very difficult to tell if this was enough to take in as it was difficult to try on without the neck band attaching the front and back bodice pieces. It seemed to fit ok on Celine though so thought I would wing it and attach all my pieces. I could always take in a bit more without too much drama when it came to putting in the zip.

Lining the bodice was surprisingly drama free! I literally just cut another bodice from the same fabric and matched the darts. A few tacks here and there and it was absolutely fine.

I had a bit of a nightmare trying to stitch in the zip though. It was lined up perfectly, but when reaching the slightly bulkier ridge of the waistband my thread kept breaking! I have had this before, and I'm not entirely certain if this is not because of the needle hole in the actual invisible zipper foot is not big enough for my model machine? Has anyone else found this? It seems to be if the foot changes angle at all to get over seams, the needle slightly catches on the foot... Maybe have to keep an eye out for a different model zipper foot! I ended up finishing off using a standard zip foot which was fine- though I would suggest tacking in the zip if doing this in future as I could tell it wanted to go a bit wobbly!

So that neckband. I was very excited about attaching it as it was really going to finish it off! I sewed on the neck band only to find the extra fabric around the top made my bust darts much too low! The bust point must have been about 4cm away from where it should have been! Has anyone else found this with this pattern??! I was really upset as I thought once I'd got that far it was going to be plain sailing! I wasn't really too sure what to do- I tried making the seam allowance on the shoulder seams bigger but it just made the neck band rise, then gape in the middle. The only thing I could think to do was pin the dress to Celine with bust darts aligned with bust, then lay my neck band over the top- even though there was quite a bit of overlapping, and draw round the curve. I then attached the neck band to fit this curve and trimmed off the bodice overlap (underlap?). It was a bit of a faff and resulted in my neckline being a totally different shape- more of a scoop than a slit, but I am really really pleased that I was able to make it wearable! I was worried that changing the pattern like this would have a big impact on the facing and also the fit of the back bodice, but with a little patience I was able to make it work.

Faff was also included when sewing on the button loops to the back neck. The precision required was incredible! Even when I thought my loops were in place and the same length it became evident they weren't... After sewing on the buttons and stitching down the facing! I took three or four attempts to get them lined up perfectly, but it was well worth the faff! I think the buttons are super cute and perfect for my Crab theme!

I love the smart/casual look of the dress. I am tempted to take the sides of the skirt in a little to make it slightly more fitted, but I do like the swing it currently has! I haven't seen anything quite like the crab dress in the shops which makes me very pleased indeed!


Currently listening to: So Over You, Charli XCX
Location: Derwent Valley