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