Sunday, 18 December 2016

Moving Bust Darts, Tutorial

This Wednesday will be my final session of a 9 week Pattern Drafting course lead by the wonderful Leann Marie Marshall here in Sheffield. It's been an absolute whirlwind of learning, every lesson has had it's very own lightbulb moment where something in my brain has clicked and I know I've just discovered a new lifelong skill.

I've learnt much too much to sum up in a blog post. We started off with taking measurements then following a guide with some crazy maths to plot out our very own block. We considered style lines to make our own design from the block then transferred onto pattern paper so we could cut out dress pieces to make our toile.
The block we created features a dart from shoulder to bust point. In later classes we played around with this dart placement to create different styles of bodice. So this is my quick guide to moving dart placement! I'm not sure if the same principles can be applied if the dart is in a different place to being with, but here goes....

*1. Trace bodice between current dart lines onto paper

*2. Cut out the shape (This involved cutting a straight line to join dart point to dart point)

(Imagine I haven't cut into this paper, that bit comes later)

*3. Draw on a straight line where new dart is to go. This could be from the side seam pointing diagonally or horizontally or potentially from the arm hole. This line should reach the bust point of the current shoulder dart

(For this example I have decided to create my new dart from the armscye)

*4. Cut along new dart line to make two pieces

*5. The bottom piece stays fixed in the original position. Move the top piece to meet the outer dart line of the shoulder dart. This will open up a new space. Make sure the bust point stays fixed.

*6. Trace the new piece as a whole (inc. neckline right up to centre front) to create a new pattern piece. Trace the space of the new dart, *but move back the bust point by about 2cm*. Add a little triangle at the side seam of the dart to ensure there is enough fabric to meet the seam allowance. I just guessed the angle of my triangle and it seemed to work! What I mean here is maybe a little clearer in my last image.

*7. Cut out the new shape. Yay! You've moved your dart placement! Welcome to an endless world of potential!!

Here I have cut out the darts and separated the pattern with a curve to make a side panel. Don't forget to add seam allowance to these pieces!

For this piece the dart was moved to the under arm side seam for a traditional looking bust dart. You can see what I mean about adding a little triangle at the end of the dart at the side seam, and the point of the dart is 2cm back from the original bust point.
I've marked on the bust line from my block- as you can see it goes a bit crazy but once the fabric is sewn this line appears horizontal on the body... Magic!

It looks a bit daunting but it really isn't! Once your know your bodice fits there's a whole world of dart moving fun to be had! I have just toiled up my first self-drafted dress using an armscye dart/panel design and it's looking really good! Dying to share it with you but it's still top secret!

Please let me know if there's anything I could have made clearer and I'll try my best to explain. If there's a pattern drafting class going off in your area I strongly encourage you to sign up. If you are in or around Sheffield I suggest you get in touch with Leann with the details on the flyer above as she has been absolutely outstanding.


Currently listening to: Tumbleweave, Black Moth

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Prima Wrap Skirt II

In my last post I told you November has been busy, and it was no lie! Aside from the fabulous Sew Up North event in Leeds, I've also met some of my fellow Simple Sew Bloggers in Manchester and spent my Wednesday evenings taking a pattern drafting class. It's also been busy busy with gigs and mental at work... I don't know how I've kept up!!

In class last week fellow pattern drafter Gay told me she'd checked out my blog (Hi Gay!) and spookily the Prima Wrap Skirt was next on her to-sew pile!! What a coincidence! I'd already decided I wanted to make another when I picked up this leopard print jersey from B&M in Leeds at the start of the month. My me-made wardrobe has definitely been lacking leopard print because lets face it, it's up there with Houndstooth isn't it! And handily doesn't require pattern matching!! Wehay!!!

So I've worn my black Prima Wrap Skirt A LOT, and the scuba is starting to go a bit bobbly which is a terrible shame! I've had the de-bobbler on it a few times but it just keeps bobbling! For this skirt I wanted to extend the waist so I could wear it a little higher. My black one sits just below my belly button, and I think it's my only item of clothing that does! I find wearing things a little higher on the waist creates the sneaky illusion that I don't have a tummy, so I'm sticking with it!!

To alter the pattern I measured the distance between where I would wear my skirt and where my black one sits which equalled about 2inches. I added this on to the BOTTOM of the pattern as I freaked out and thought I'd make a mess trying to reshape the facing band and extend the darts. Thinking about it now and writing it down it doesn't sound that difficult, especially as I ended up extremely reshaping the side seams anyway! But it seemed like the easier option to add 2 inches onto the bottom when cutting out.

I cut out on the fold as there was no pattern matching to do! So much speedier. NEXT TIME if I'm using jersey again it might be a good idea to take a few cms out of the center front and center back so I don't have the massive chunks to slice off the side seams!!

Once all my pieces were prepped, front panel tacked onto the front skirt and center back zip put in, I took a wild guess and pinned my side seams with a 2.5 inch seam allowance. I know it seems pretty crazy, but the pattern is designed for wovens not knits and I also planned on wearing it higher on the waist than the pattern intended. I tried on and it made my bum look amazing!!

But on the whole, past the hips it was a little too tight. I eased out the seam allowance to about 1.5 inches at the bottom... Then back to 2 inches to get a bit more bum shape back!!

I tried on lots of times. With it in mind that the facing band would make it a little tighter still at the waist, I wanted to make sure I had enough ease to still zip it up!! I made these changes to the facing band so that it would fit then stitched it up.

I know it's pretty chilly for miniskirts, but since getting my hands on this awesome leather jacket, the boots and miniskirt combo has been a fave!

Stay warm guys! Chilblains are no fun.


Currently listening to: Sugar Beat, Las Kellies
Location: Sylvester Street Car Park, Sheffield

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, Pin-Up Sweater

It's been a busy month so far and it's been a struggle to sit down at my machine and get anything finished!
For my next make I decided to make something fairly simple for a quick win and confidence booster.

The journey of my Gertie Sews Vintage Casual Sweater started at the Sew Up North event in Leeds at the beginning of the month. Myself and a group of other stitchers from up North spent the day talking stitch perusing Leeds' fabric shops as well as raising money for charity, eating cake and swapping unwanted patterns and fabric. This ribbed white and navy jersey was from the fantastic B&M stall in Leeds Market... And I wasn't the only one pawing over it!! I opted for 1 metre, with it in mind I was going to make something tight and fitted.

The Sweater is just a front piece, back piece, sleeves and neck band. Pattern matching is essential!! I'm getting sick of telling you all- but I'll tell you again, I don't trust cutting on the fold when matching patterns so I cut the lot out on a single layer and flip over to get a perfectly symmetrical piece. Basically I am ensuring here that all the horizontal lines are at a right angle to the grainline, and therefore will not be going diagonally across my body.

I cut a size 10 but added a little extra in at the waist after consulting the size chart (note to future me- didn't really need to, especially when my jersey is quite so stretchy). The front and back pieces appear to be exactly the same apart from the neckline on the front is lower. I made sure that the front and back pieces were cut at the same point on the fabric design (as in, stripe placement) to everything would match up nicely. To do this I marked the navy lines of my front piece onto my paper pattern pieces and lined up with the lines when cutting the back.

Step one of sewing is to match up at the shoulders. Where the lines match from front and back makes these cute little Vs. Check out my symmetry! Before putting in the side seams you insert the sleeves. This saves and fiddly sleeve setting in. you just have to match at side seams, then pin the curves to fit. I tried like hell to match the navy lines across my chest and over the top of my sleeve! It's hard! As you're working from the inside when pinning its difficult to see exactly what will match with what when you put your actual stitch line in.

After inserting the sleeves, I tried to try on- which isn't easy or super insightful when you don't have any side seams yet. I pinned the sides and decided that I would make the seam allowance 2cm instead of 1.5cm.

Top make sure stripes matched at the side seams I pinned ALONG the navy lines through front and back to make sure they were all in line. I then used my sewing machine (not overlocker) to effectively tack down the sides being super careful to make sure the lines all matched up at the side of the fabric. Only when I was happy nothing was skew-wiff did I overlock these seams.

So I might have mentioned stripes a few times in this post, and how important it is to treat them with care so they don't look shit. This is true also for the neckline! Possibly even more so as realistically, more people are going to notice a wonky neck-hole then a dodgy underarm seam.
The neck band it is about 5cm wide, this is pretty easy for cutting when you have nice straight lines to follow!
The neckband needs to be a little smaller than the head hole... but apparently there's no rule to calculate by how much!! The book suggests about 2 inches. This is what I did, but with my fabric I think it is a little on the small side. The aim is to stretch out the band a little but not the head hole.

Firstly, it's important the stripes meet at the back of the neck where it joins to make a hoop. Secondly when sewing the right side of the neckband on to the sweater before folding over to the back it's important that the same amount of stripe is showing right the way round. If your stripe is wider at one point than another it will be really obvious. This is also the case when folding over the band- I was super careful to make sure the white stripe was the same width all the way round before I pinned and tacked it.
I used a narrow zig zag to attach the neck, then used my twin needle to topstitch and hold down after folding over to the back. I tried overlocking the long raw edge of the band before attaching, but it was really messing up the stretch factor so abandoned that!

It might all sound a bit daunting for such a simple top, if that's the case I would suggest using a plain fabric. This would look great in any kind of ribbed jersey. If I make another I think I might ditch the stripes!


Currently listening to: Three Alley Cats, Roy Hall
Location: Damflask Reservoir, Loxley Valley

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Simple Sew, Kaftan Top

For my second post as a Simple Sew blogger I decided to have a go at the Kaftan Top. I think the pattern is styled as a kind of loose fitting beach cover up- but seeing as my trips to the beach appear to have been few and far between I wanted to try and make this top a little more wearable for every day use.

First up, fabric choice was this luscious crochet lace from the fabulous folk at White Tree fabrics. It is a fine crochet with quite an open weave so had the drapey qualities I was looking for for something loose fitting. Seasonally, I also thought it looked a bit Halloweeny, and heads up, I'm one of those girls that likes spooky all year round! So naturally I fell in love straight away.

After reading fellow Simple Sew Blogger Vine Lines' tutorial on making her Kaftan Dress, it sounded like I would need to cut the smallest size. The size chart shows finished garment measurements so I took the plunge and traced off and cut out a size 6.

I decided to cut fabric on single layers as the lace has quite an obvious linear design and I didn't want it going wonky. I cut one half- flip it over then cut the second half, matching up the lace design. The Pattern packet says you'll need 3.12m fabric for the top in size 6. You definitely won't! I think I used about a meter and a half. The top is made up of four bits- front, back, front skirt and back skirt, with the top front being cut in two pieces with a centre front seam.

I used rotary cutter to cut the pieces out. Be careful. They are sharp.

The neckline of the top is meant to be finished with bias binding. I thought it would be a nightmare to try and bind with lace fabric so I cut a strip of really lightweight black jersey as I didn't want anything too heavy or anything too eye-catching to take away from the pattern in the lace. Once I'd got the neckline shape by attaching front to back at shoulder seams I thought black binding would look too heavy right the way around the neckline. Instead I opted to turn under about 1cm around the neck.

Next steps are pretty simple- Sew the centre front seam making sure the V of the neck lines up really precisely. My handy tip for sewing lace- I took 1 layer of toilet tissue and stitched all the seams with this underneath. This gives your stitching line something to lock to when you go over holy bits of lace. Then when you're done you can just tear it off! Despite my aversion to little bits of tissue (aghhhh, weird phobia number one), I sucked it up. Much better than getting all your threads knotted I think!

Side seams next, which I overlocked (no need for tearing tissue here thankfully), then you have to attach front skirt to back skirt at side seams, then sew together the whole lot at the waist.

To make the channel for the drawstring you just have to stitch a line 3cm from the wasitline seam you just put in, then thread your drawstring through! Oh before this you will probably want to make some holes either with an eyelet putter-inner or the button hole function on your machine. I wasn't being lazy- but I was a bit nervous to do either with such delicate fabric so errr, I just poked my drawstring through holes in the lace. But don't tell anyone! For the drawstring I used my piece of bias binding that I didn't turn into a neckline! So it wasn't a waste of time!

Excited, I tried on. The neckline was really wide and there was too much fabric in the sides! Then as I mentioned when I made my Zohra, I remembered that billowy sleeves seem to suit other people much better then they suit me! To save it I knew the number one thing I needed to do was take some out of the side seams. Sadly this meant I would have to unpick the drawstring channel. I managed to avoid having to unpick any overlocking. I took out about 5cm in total from each side. This time I tried on BEFORE committing my waist seam and it looked much better. The neckline is still very gapey, but I get that's kind of a cute feature on a beach cover-up. I had to remind myself this pattern wasn't necessarily designed for spookily lurking round stone circles mid-autumn! If I wear the kaftan a little off the shoulder the drawstring sits quite nicely below my boobs and a little lower on my back.

Happier with the fit, I topstiched where the channel meets the top which makes for a super lovely professional looking finish.

I faffed about with the idea of making the sleeves a little narrower from the over-arm seam, but it didn't quite seem worth it. I took off 10cm from the bottom so it's more of a top than a tunic. I did a really simple hem on both the bottom and the sleeves. Then it was about done!

The pattern is really easy to follow. I would advise anyone making it to cut a couple of sizes smaller than their actual size- I'm guessing I ended up with a size 4 after taking so much out!! I terms of practicality, I'm not too sure when I'm going to get chance to wear it seeing as it doesn't look like anyone's going to be taking me on a spooky beach holiday anytime soon! I reckon I'll get a bit of gig wear out of it though. If I make another I think I'd quite like to add some embellishments around the neckline and maybe use some fancy topstitching thread.


Currently listening to: Halloween Head, Ryan Adams
Location: Nine Ladies Stone Circle, Derbyshire