Sunday, 21 June 2015

Simplicity 2447 Sleeveless Misses' Shirt

Inspired by the wonderful Laura Oakes' stage outfit when she played with Ward Thomas at Sheffield Plug earlier this year, I have been chomping at the bit to make myself a country shirt. I cheated a few months back and customised a Primark denim shirt with some tassels...

... this kept me going for a little bit, but I was so full of ideas on what I wanted to do with my own that I couldn't wait much longer. I decided to make the most of my last classes at college and focused on learning how to attach a collar properly to my toile so that I could knuckle down and get on with making myself some cowboy shirts!

I was surprised at how swiftly I seemed to make my toile. Granted I didn't overlock a thing, did no hems and didn't faff around with interfacing, buttonholes and buttons, instead I wanted to focus on two things- construction of the collar and button placket and the overall fit.

The practice run gave me a good taste for topstitching and I learned not to get too close to the edge when attaching the placket. I followed the collar instructions step by step and found that is wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be. The most accuracy was needed when stitching around the curved corners at the top of the neckband. These need to be 100% symmetrical with no pointy bits! But if you sew everything together in the right order and make sure you have right sides/wrong sides together when necessary then there is no real reason that it should go wrong! Sewing down the band from the outside around the neckline is a bit fiddly but It didn't get the better of me.

If you recall my post about my Ruby Dress that I made at college, you may remember me saying I wanted to use these classes to help learn how to fit garments. Once the main bits were done on my toile it seemed like a good time to try it on. There were a few changes my tutor helped me make as I described it as being a bit 'boxy':

1- We took in the two seams down the front of the shirt.
2- We took in a little off of the side seams.
3- We Took a little off of the arm hole opening.
4- We took a little off of the collar.
5- We took OUT the box pleat at the back all together.
6- We put in two darts at the lower back.

The changes to the pattern looked like this:

And it really made all the difference! Although it is difficult to tell how a finished garment is going to hang before you have even bought your material, let alone started sewing with it, I was fairly certain that I would be happier with a more fitted shape. The changes were subtle really, with the most change being made to the back. I knocked together another toile with these changes to the pattern and was happy so set to getting some suitable fabric for my actual shirt.

I already have a denim sleeveless and a gingham sleeveless so thought I would go for a plain black fabric that I could do contrasting stitch on and hopefully later embellish is relevant places. My choice came from Hillsborough Fine Fabrics and was a joy to sew with. It seemed to be pretty fancy (wool blend!) and I could really tell it wasn't cheap crap while I was sewing with it.

I used a strip of bias binding (pre-bought, who can be bothered with the faff?) to Country-up the back- especially after having taken out the box-pleat from the pattern. I think this works pretty well with the white topstitching I chose.

Then it seemed I did have to whip up some bias binding! I hadn't finished the sleeves on my practice runs, so had completely forgotten that they would need binding when I was in the shop buying supplies! Not to worry though- I probably needed the practice! And it seemed to go very well for something I had never really done before. Tick bias binding arm holes off the list!

I went for quite a subtle button choice- probably because Hillsborough Fabrics isn't really at the top of the button-choice league, but I surprised myself and went for gold as opposed to silver. I applied the 110% concentration needed for button-holing and got the job done, I found that at 100% concentration I still almost stitched the holes into the wrong side of the shirt... Saved myself in the nick of time!!

Overall I am dead happy with my shirt! I followed all the steps in the pattern very closely as not to cock it up and I think it's come out quite professionally. The only thing I am desperate to do is sew some patches on the the shoulder/chest area. Ideally I want some rockabilly swallows or possibly some kind of over the top flowery embroidered Dolly-style patches- so as it stands I'm keeping my eyes peeled for such!

Next up I fancy a denim one!


Currently listening to: Power and Control, Marina and the Diamonds
Location: Broadfield Road, Sheffield

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Love Sewing Magazine/Simple Sew, Skater Dress

What comes first, the pattern or the fabric?

Well, in this instance, when I saw this red and black stretchy houndstooth fabric I knew I needed it in my stash. I flicked back through a few patterns I had kicking around that I had not yet had a go at, and thought after the success of my Simple Sew Ruby Dress from issue 4 of Love Sewing, I would have a go at this similar skater dress from issue 8.

There a few differences in the pattern- The obvious one being the Skater Dress has sleeves- so less interfacing to worry about! The bodice darts are placed differently as well, which I think maybe works a bit better for my smaller bust. The full skirt uses the same pattern as the Ruby Dress, so there was no need for extra cutting out. Yay!

Making up went pretty smoothly in terms of fit, but the stretchy quality of the fabric seemed to send my machine into sporadic states of meltdown. I had my stretch needle in place which seemed to be fine for straight stitch, but zigzag stitch turned out to be a nightmare. So much so that to save completely destroying areas of seam, in places I abandoned zig zagging my edges altogether... Thankfully I didn't have to worry about fraying using knit!
I was excited about using my (stretch) twin-needle for the hem, but again it was not to be. No matter how much I twiddled with the tension dial my stitches were a bit loose and wobbly.

If I was making another skater dress, I would definitely make the bodice pattern longer. I really should have listened to blogging buddy Shauni at Magnificent Thread as she said just that when she made her festive Skater Dress a few months back. Thankfully I don't think the dress turned out too short- the drape in the fabric making it hang pretty well and stop me from feeling too leggy (is there such thing as too leggy?).

The dress looks pretty good on- I have some handy accessories that look pretty neat with it too! If my machine hadn't been acting up it would have been a joy to make, despite the pattern instructions not being totally clear. Some bits were printed in the wrong order and I'm fairly certain that the seam allowance wasn't added onto the facing pattern. Thankfully this wasn't the end of the world for me as I ended up doubling the seam allowance for fit at the zip, therefore the neckline matching up with my too-short-interfacing. Phew!
The pattern suggests buying 2.4m of fabric- and I have some remaining! Hopefully I'll be able to find a suitable pattern to make good use of it!


Currently listening to: Roland Garros final, Djokovic vs Wawrinka
Location: Home Sweet Home