Sunday, 31 December 2017

Leopard Print Simplicity 1070 Crop Top

Instagram is a useful little tool for the modern woman. Not just handy for archiving gig pictures and checking out your OkCupid date before you agree to meet, but also connecting with people who share your passion. People who sadly, you don't just bump into on the street often enough.

A couple of months back, Instagram's algorithms bought together myself and More Sewing and our shared love of fabric sparked idea of a collaboration. So before I waffle on about my make, go and check out the More Sewing website, give them a follow on Insta and maybe spend a few of your Christmas pennies on a treat for yourself.

I was lucky enough to receive this lush leopard print jersey in the post the other week, which is just what I needed to make that second Simplicity 1070 Stretch Crop Top that I mentioned in my post.

My last croppy top using this pattern turned out a little tight under the arms. I did a bit of reading up to find that the alteration is pretty simple, just scoop out as much as necessary from the top of the side seams, then match this on the actual sleeve pieces. I took out 2cm from the back and front pieces which set my armholes to where they should be.

Like my last one, I used the pattern for the longer length top but took some off of the bottom. I decided to hem the sleeves before sewing the sleeve seam this time. As the hem is so wide (2 inches) but so narrow it's hard to get the machine in to sew the hem. Was so much easier to do this while the sleeve was still flat. I love these wide hems! And also the sleeve length, I love that too.

I took about 1 cm off of the suggested neckband length. I pinned on the original length to the neck to find it gaped just a little at the shoulders so knew I needed to take a little off of the length.

The top is a great fit and I'm super pleased with the armhole alteration. The only problem I'm finding with both of these tops is that they have the tendency to rise up a little when I don't want them to. I think this is because they are tighter across the bust than they are around the waist. Can anyone confirm? Should I loosen off a little around the chest if I make another?

I've got a bit of fabric left. I think I'm going to try and squeeze a little circle skirt out of the remainder, then I can go full cave girl!!

Thanks again to More Sewing for the fabric. There is so much good stuff on their site, or you can pop in store if you're down Sussex way. I'm told that in the new year there will be a pattern range coming out so keep your eyes peeled!

Happy New Year stitchers! Can't wait to see what we'll achieve in 2018


Location: The House Skatepark, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Alone, Horsebeach

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Simple Sew, Stylish Shell Top

For this month's round of Simple Sew patterns posts, the whole blog team are using the Stylish Shell Top pattern. The pattern is super simple, I'm excited to see how everyone is going to put their own stamp on it. There are a few different views to chose from, with opportunity for a contrasting yoke or bottom band, and the sleeves are optional. This meant that the pattern is a good chance to use up some fabric off-cuts that you've been holding on to but couldn't bring yourself to bin!

I chose View A- a sleeved version of the top with a contrasting yoke section. My fabric choices were some left over georgette from FC Fabrics and some more left over see-throughy patterned fabric from Hillsborough Fine Fabrics. The only other thing you'll need is some bias-binding for the neckline, I made my own out of some georgette which was surprisingly well behaved!

The top has no fastening, but is designed for woven fabrics without stretch, so it needs to be quite boxy and roomy to get it over your head. This makes for really simple construction. The only shaping needed is the bust darts. I changed the angle of the shoulder seams a little as when I put it on it stuck out a little at the neck. Really easy to fix though.

Once sewing the bust darts, attaching the shoulder seams and side seams, the next step is inserting the sleeves.
My top sleeve inserting tips:

-Make sure you've cut the notches on your sleeve head. Two notches for back and one for front. If you're using view A, these should match up with where the yoke joins the body
-I like to then sew the underarm between the notches, making sure the underarm sleeve seam and body side seam match.
-For this pattern, the centre of the sleeve head is also marked with a notch. This wants to join at the shoulder seam. I like to pin this and then work outwards, pinning around the sleeve head towards the underarm.
-This pattern doesn't require too much easing in, on those that do (where the sleeve head is larger then your armhole) evenly place pins right the way around with little 'bubbles' of sleeve between each pin. I don't want to tell you to leave the pins in as you sew around... But it can help ;)

With sleeves in I tried on. Well, if you've read my blog before we all know what happens next. I looked a little lost in it's boxiness, so I cut some off the bottom and some off the sleeves!! About 5cm from each actually and I felt much happier in it. I overlocked and turned the hems up once for a neat little narrow hem.

Final step was adding the neck binding. I had spray starched my georgette to make it a little more manageable and it did exactly what it was told!

I have to admit, I had my doubts about the pattern but fell in love the moment I cropped it! Would really love to make more and play around with other fabric juxtapositions. It's really quick to get on with and always feels great to use fabric scraps you've not been able to part with.

Looking forward to seeing the other blogger's shell tops!


Location: Sheffield Winter Gardens
Currently listening to: Stop, Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Leather Mia Miniskirt

A year ago I was mid way through a pattern drafting course with the lovely Leann Marie Design and plans had already started swirling in my head to make my tassely dress of dreams.
This dress not only boosted my confidence in designing and drafting, it also introduced me to The Identity Store in nearby Matlock. The Identity store do a seasonal sale at the Imperial Rooms in Matlock and this Autumn my friend Charlotte and I took a look.

I didn't really know what to expect, but we certainly weren't disappointed. Much like the shop itself there was a massive selection of leathers, only here you could get a good look at everything! I knew I wanted to make myself a sassy mini skirt. I wear my self-drafted pleather Mia quite a lot, though there were a couple of tweaks I wanted to make to the pattern so had that in mind while browsing.

It came down to a lovely metallic blue sheen leather, or this printed tiger print leather. It was a tough call, but the uniqueness of the animal print won me over. How lovely it shines in the light! I bought two pieces, one at £15 and one at £20. We had a good stroke of all the pieces on offer to check for holes and abnormalities.

The main change I wanted to make to the pattern was to take a little out of the centre back. So what had happened, is when I had made my sway back adjustment at the top of the back, it had altered the hang of the skirt, meaning that the centre back was now angled not parallel to each other. It's not a massive deal, but I am aware of it when I wear my skirt and it scrunches up a little when I sit down. It seemed like a pretty easy thing to fix. On my paper pattern I just folded out the excess triangle of fabric at the bottom of the back skirt pieces. Too terrified to cut into my leather I cut the lining first. ITS A GOOD JOB I DID, what I had totally failed to consider was that taking two massive chunks out of the bottom of the skirt would massively change the fit! Ha! I could get my lining on, but it hugged my hips very tight then kicked out really weirdly. Back to the calico, I slightly altered the side seams of both the front and back skirt pieces, roughly putting back in the amount I had taken out of the back, only this time into the sides.

I find it tricky to tell how good something will look in actual fabric when you're all calico'd up, but it was definitely a vast improvement. Luckily I had enough lining fabric left for take two. Phew!! So much better!

*SNEAKY TIP* I cut a little extra into the front pieces so that I could add a little tuck into the lining at the waist band. Under a heavy fabric like leather the extra fabric in the lining won't show, but will just give you a little more room for movement. After the first lining attempt I wasn't taking any chances!!

Held my breath the whole time cutting out my leather- There was a definite direction to the tiger print so I was careful with pattern piece placement. I decided it would be most effective to go for a kind of mirror image effect, so the seam at the centre front and centre back would break up the pattern.

I used the good old tissue trick and set the stitch length to 4 to stop the machine foot dragging the leather, works every time! I started with centre front seam which ran smoothly, then onto side seams.

The biggest problem I found was the bulk! The waistband which I pinched and edited from the lovely Simple Sew Shannon Shorts is made up of 5 pieces, and then another 5 pieces for the waistband facing. You can imagine all those fat seams!! It was a bit of a fiddle sewing waistband to skirt but I got there without throwing a full strop. It looks a bit lumpy in places which I think it inevitable when using leather. I gave it a good press (PLEASE use a pressing cloth!!) which helped a lot.
To battle bulk I could maybe use a different fabric for the waistband facing?

To sew in the lining, I stitched my leather skirt to one side of the waistband then the lining to the other. The seam allowance of the waistband on either side could then be sewn together keeping the waistband folded along the top seam. Next time I need to remember not to sew all the way to the end though, as I need to turn though the ends when stitching the lining to the zip.

Bulk was also a pain when inserting my zip. It was tricky to pin it into place. I played about with it a bit. To get it to fit where I wanted it to seam allowance was about 2.5cm. Last time I used a sneaky bit of double sided tape instead of pins to hold the zip on place as I stitched but this time I had real fear I would have to reposition it, and I didn't want the tape to peel off the animal print.
As it happens, I didn't have to take the zip out! Phew! To sew the lining to the zip you have to turn it all to the wrong side then sew close to the zip lump under the lining (I switched from invisible zip foot to normal zip foot for this). Then turn back and poke out all your bulky corners at the top of the waistband haha! I kept going back in to hack bits out!

Once the zip was in and the seam was closed up at the bottom of the skirt and lining, it was a tough decision whether to hem or not. I'd made the skirt with the intention of hemming and had taken an inch off the lining so that it wouldn't show when I had turned the skirt up, but when it came to it, the bulkiness of the centre front seam was so off putting. I had vision of the foot dragging along, making really tiny stitches over the lumps with no way of hiding them. I really really REALLY didn't want to fail at the last hurdle, so I decided no hem. I think I did right, the skirt hangs really nicely and at a good length.

So proud of this make! I'm slightly paranoid about sitting down in it and getting a bum print in the leather, but it's already my go-to skirt for nights out. Wonder what next year will bring, eh?


Location: The Light, Sheffield
Currently listening to: And I'm Aching, Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club

Sunday, 12 November 2017

DIY Band Shirt Tutorial

We've all been there, we get to our favourite band's merch stall and all they have is a vast array of large mens Tshirts. Well it need not ever be a problem again. I've made a simple tutorial on how to customise your men's size t-shirt into something unique! Best thing is, to do a simple version you don't really need any advanced sewing skills.



My friend Andy just released his debut album with his band Black Thunder Revue, and along with that got some awesome new shirts printed. I was lucky enough to nab one with promise that it would be hitting the blog, so here we go....

Step one:
Chances are your shirt is going to be a little too long. I put the shirt on and marked where I wanted the back to come to. I think I took about 22cms off, right the way around the BACK only. Measurements are all very variable depending on original shirt size, torso shape etc. For some sort of vague gauge, I started out with a Medium shirt and I'm roughly a size 10 in UK high street sizing.

Step two:
Find the centre front of your shirt (easiest way is to match your side seams and fold at the centre). I marked a straight line 22cm up from the hem at the centre front.

Step three:
Mark in from the side seams at your 22cm line about 10cm towards the centre front. I then joined up the centre front at the BOTTOM of the shirt to these new points with a straight angled line, so you've got what looks like two triangles coming down at the front. I softened the angles off a bit where the 'triangles' join the body.

Step four:
Cutting! So now you want to cut away excess fabric- be neat though as you may want to use some of the cut offs later down the line! You want to be removing the bottom of the back and then slope down at the front to your ties. Next cut upwards along the line marking your centre front. I cut away a sort of keyhole shape at the top just to make a little more room for a knot when tying up.

Step five:
Now would be a good time to try on. You want to check the back is the right length and also that you are happy with where the knot sits. I decided to cut out a little higher at the centre front to match my waist height.

Step six:
Remove sleeves. I cut right around the seamline

Step seven:
Remove neckband. Again I cut really close to the seam. You might want to keep your neck and sleeves in, I just wanted to change the overall shape and style.

Step eight:
I guess at this point you could easily get away with calling it a day, you've made a pretty cool DIY shirt that looks like you should be hanging out on the back of motorcycles. People are definitely going to be asking you where you got your limited edition band tee from. But depending on your original shirt you might want to have a further play around with fit. Firstly I took some out of the shoulder seams, a good few cms tapering up to the neck a little, BUT be careful you don't end up making your shirt too short by taking out too much. I then removed a little of the excess fabric around the front of the arm hole, leaving the back alone. I took a couple of cms from the back neckline so the neckline sat at the bobbly bit at the top of my spine.

Another try on and I decided I wanted to take some bagginess out of the side seams, only a few cms in a straight line from bottom of the arm hole to the bottom of the shirt. Just have a play around and get it sitting happy.

Step nine:
Again this is optional. The biggest fitting problem you've got by now is probably that gapey bit in the armhole to boob area. This can look fun and casual and relaxed, and the gapey-ness can be a good excuse to flash a bit of your velvet Noelle bra, but it's not too hard to put a couple of darts in to remove that excess fabric. It's up to you, no pressure. All we need to do is put the shirt on, start on one side and mark the apex- usually about 2cm away from your nipple. If you're pinching your excess fabric this is the narrowest point of the pinch. Then at the widest part by the armhole, mark the top and bottom of the dart triangle. Got it? Okay, take your shirt off then put a pin through the apex point so you can see it on the wrong side. Match up the two marks you put at the top and bottom of the dart at the armhole, then fold a straight line down to your pin. Chalk a line from your armhole point to your apex if you like, pin and then stitch.
Try it on. Looking good?? Of course, you're looking a little more fitted and showing off your assets. To do the other side it's easiest to just work from the one you have done so that they match. You might want to mark your bust point first so you have a point to work to.

Step ten:
Your shirt is definitely good to wear, but you might want to go that extra mile. Using the excess fabric from the bottom back that we cut away I cut x2 strips 4.5cm wide. I made sure they were long enough to reach round the armholes.
Its always a bit trial and error to get the right length, you want to be a little shorter than the hole so that the fabric stretches round, but not too much otherwise you'll get puckering. The only way I know how is just to pin it on, try it on, then keep taking some off the band length until it sits nicely. At least once you've done one you know your other side should be the same length.
Then, right sides together you want to overlock the band to the armhole. You can probably do this with a zigzag stitch on a normal machine but it's not something I've ever tried.
To finish off, I thought I'd go whole hog and put a band on the neck too. Same process, same width. Take your time and it will be fine.

Has anyone else ever done anything fun to customise a tshirt? I used to use wool to stitch up the sides when I was in year 7!!! I had a Joy Division shirt that I wore to death that had the wool treatment! Only very recently cut this up to make a back patch for my denim jacket.

Would love to see your customisations!

Big thanks to BTR for the shirt :)


Location: Sheffield Railway Footbridge/Foodhall Sheffield
Currently listening to: Ghosts In The Machine, Death and Vanilla