Sunday, 28 July 2019

Simple Sew, Miranda T-Shirt

Inspired by my trip to Paris I've gone mad for stripes recently, so this time round it wasn't difficult to choose some appropriate fabric from Doughty's for my Simple Sew make.

This black and white striped jersey is pretty much your standard t-shirt fabric, ideal for the Miranda t-shirt. The pattern is pretty simple so I wanted to focus on making sure those side seam stripes were bang on!

To do this I did not cut out on the fold, I cut half the front piece then flipped it down the middle and made sure all the stripes lined up along the side edge of the pattern. Then I pinned these stripes to avoid them slipping and sliding as I cut. I cut out on my floor using a rotary cutter so that the bottom layer didn't move around. I made sure the bottom of my pattern lined up along the top of a stripe so that when I came to cutting the back piece I could do the same and we'd at least have a chance of matching those stripes! I then laid the back pattern piece over the front I had cut and drew on to the paper where all the white stripes met the raw edges. I lined these up with the stripes on the fabric before cutting the back out.

There are a few ways to add variation to the Miranda T-Shirt, varying the sleeve length and neckline shape. I found the overall length of the tshirt to be a bit long so I made the whole thing a few cm shorter. I opted for the short sleeve version, and having never made a v-neckline before thought I'd save the round neck for next time.

I'd never really considered before that the seam in a vneck is right at the front! Once the neck band is cut and folded it can be attached right sides together to the neckline, stretching out a little as you sew. I'm not going to lie, I found it quite difficult to line up the centre seam of the neck with the centre of the tshirt... And it's reaaaaaally obvious if you get it wrong haha! Also if you're overlocking it can be a little tricky to unpick and try again! It turned out okay, though I think it could have been better. Any tips for avoiding mis-aligning again?

The sleeves are inserted flatly, so before you sew up the side seam. This makes putting them in quite easy, especially when using stretch fabric. Once inserted, I overlocked the sleeve opening then turned underonce and stitched down with twin needle.

The fabric is pretty stretchy so I used a layer of thin paper as a stabiliser when I stitched to avoid the fabric stretching out. I then peeled this away to reveal my nice even stitches :)

I lined the side seam stripes up with about a million pins to ensure they matched up perfectly after all that concentration cutting out... Only to find I wanted to take it in a bit at the waist haha! This was pretty easy though, I tired on the t-shirt then pinned to fit, taking in just a few cms between waist and hips. I made sure those stripes were still matching then re-stitched my seam.

Love it! Now for more monochrome jersey for my next one!


Location: Shirebrook Nature Reserve
Currently listening to: Why Do They Leave, Ryan Adams

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Simple Sew, Lapwing Trousers

The Lapwing Trousers pattern from Simple Sew is a great start for beginners who maybe haven't had a lot of experience making trousers. I'll admit, in the past I've always been a little nervous about getting the fit right on a pair of trousers.

This pattern is pretty relaxed and comfy though, so not much room to go wrong. This lovely viscose/spandex print jersey from Doughty's was a great choice, as there is enough stretch to be relaxed about the fitting. I cut a size 12- the waist looks really huge to start with (especially with this stretch fabric!!) but I knew once the drawstring was inserted I'd be able to happily disperse the gathers around my waist. I wanted to make something somewhere between a summer trou and pyjama bottoms so was super excited about the wide leg design.

First step in putting the trousers together is attaching the pockets. I thought the pattern instructions weren't overly clear on how to do this, especially when it came to snipping in anD sewing the side seams... I seemed to end up with some little gaps at the top of the pockets? I've inserted pockets into side seams before and not had a problem, so maybe I need to revise my technique!

I added some sneaky understitching to the pockets to keep them in place. If I really went to town I probably could have added some stretch stay-tape to the seams just to stop them stretching out... But being a bit baffled by the pattern I couldn't work out the best time to do this!

Once the pockets are in and the side seams stitched up the pattern is plain sailing. I did a lil try on at the point of having the side seams and inside leg seams stitched up to check fit. Legs and bum look good (that's all that ever matters right?), but as my fabric has 4 way stretch the way they hang makes them extra looooong!

To make the waistband I added a bit of interfacing to the back of the marked buttonholes for the drawstring. My fabric is quite thin and I didn't want the machine didn't chew it all up as I put the buttonholes in. Alternatively it could have been cool to use eyelets for the drawstring holes. I think if I make the trousers again in heavier fabric I will definitely do this.

The top of the trousers is then flipped under by about 4.5cm and stitched. My fabric is soooo stretchy even my walking foot was dragging it out. to prevent drag I put some tissue paper under the foot as I stitched. It really works wonders for creating even stitches all the way round. The paper can then be easily pulled away after and no one knows ;)
I added another line of stitching to the top of the waistband, just to give it a bit more form. I always think this just adds a bit more of a professional finish to an easy fold-over waist.

I made my own drawstring using a length of leftover fabric (from the backdrop of my band's video if you recognise it!!) I cut so the width was 9cm (ie, 1.5cm x2 for seam allowance and the remaining 6cm folded in half for 3cm drawstring). Okay, so the pink definitely makes them look like pyjamas now haha! I was excited to try on now and tie it up! I think they could have been improved by adding some elastic to the waist, but it's totally not essential. The drawstring does the job very well and looks pretty cute!

Overall I was surprised by how much I love the trousers! It's not essential to use stretch fabric as the drawstring waistband allows for lots of room, however I love how comfy they are. I would love to mix up the fabric a bit and make some a bit more outdoor-y. I definitely feel more confident about tackling trousers again now!


Location: Meadow Terrace, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Never Come Back Again, Soft Walls

Sunday, 19 May 2019

New Look 6843, Mini Skirt

Every year I set myself some new year's resolutions. This year my list had the usual sewing faff, 'read more' for the 27th year in a row and Give Blood. I booked my appointment online and was feeling super psyched to go and do some good... Only to find when I got there the wouldn't let me because my 'veins are too small I'm afraid'. Can I do anything? 'No, go home'. Disappointed and still massively unmotivated to 'read more' I turned back to my resolution list, my sewing faff being- 'Make three mini skirts from different patterns'. It's almost June and I haven't made one, and I can do that while I'm sulking right? So I flicked through my pattern stash to see what was a possibility.

The New Look 6843 is a simple mini skirt with a waistband, zip, two pairs of back darts and one pair of front darts. I wanted to make the perfect shape so I set-to making toile number one.

First things first, I substituted the waistband on the pattern for my trusty go-to waistband from Simple Sew's Shannon Shorts. I just love the shaping in it, I've re-drafted and hacked I so many times I know it inside out now. I wanted to wear this skirt a little higher than my previous mini skirts, so I played around a bit and ended up taking 1.5cm from the centre front fold (so 3cm in total). This completely coincidentally meant that the shaping seams in the waistband now lined up exactly with the darts on the centre front.

Wearing the skirt a little higher meant that I would have to extend the bum-darts a little so that they were pointing to my widest part. I left the shorter outside darts as they were, but then extended the inside pair. I tried on my muslin and found that (as predicted) there was some wrinkling in the lower back. I swear I'm not that disproportionate, but I do always have to end up making some alterations on the small of my back. The change is quite simple, just smooth and pinch out the wrinkles so that the waistband sits lower on the back skirt- essentially making the seam allowance of the skirt greater but leaving the waistband's the same. I played about a bit with my muslin, pinning and repositioning, before I drew on the new seamline with my fabric pen.

With the bum now fitting nicely, next job was to pinch out the excess on the side seams. I wanted a gloriously flattering fit, but was also aware that the skirt pattern does not have a split or centre back vent, so if I made it tooo tight it would be a nightmare to walk in. This can of course be helped by slicing some off the bottom of the skirt length... which is obviously exactly what I did.

I made a second toile with my adjustments to check I'd got everything right. I had just recently bought some lovely blue suede from the Identity Store's Leather Fair in Matlock. I bought two hides which totalled about £35. Other leathers that caught my eye included some crazy gold which was maybe a tad too bulky for my machine, and some snakeskin which I loved but feared I would just never wear.

The suede I bought was a good weight for my machine, just ensuring I used a leather needle. I picked a long length stitch and used tissue paper under my foot so it didn't drag on the fabric. Annoyingly as I reached the end of a couple of my darts the suede stretched out a little, making my dart points not quite as flat as I'd have wished.

On a girly shopping trip to Leeds I fell for my lining fabric. This lovely silky tropical print which fit with my colour scheme. The lady behind the counter laughed and said 'Ooooh, that will be difficult to sew with!!'. I mean she was right, it was horribly slippy and took about half a can of spray starch to try and keep it under control but it was so worth it! Instead of sewing in the full darts I just stitched tucks in the top of the skirt where they would be to allow more movement.

Once I'd sewn the side seams in the lining I pressed under 1.5cm on the centre back so that it would be easier to line up when I came to slipstiching to my zipper.

The waistband seams had the potential to be a bit bulky so I decided to only interface the outside of the waistband. The iron-on wasn't toooo keen on sticking to the leathery side of the suede but it stayed put long enough to hold while stitching. I understitched the inside of the top of the waistband to ensure if doesn't flip out.

I attached the lining to the inner waistband then turned it to the inside. I made sure my lining was 2.5cm shorter than the skirt to stop it peeking out by double turning the hem and stitching. I attached the invisible zip to the skirt with a 1.5cm seam allowance, sewing up the centreback seam before hand stitching the lining in place.

I love the shape! It's so simple but the fit is great. The pattern is so versatile, I would love a million in different fabrics. Houndstooth anyone?


Location: Clifton Park, Rotherham
Currently listening to: Deadend Street, The Kinks

Sunday, 12 May 2019

McCalls M7575, Shirt

Am I supposed to feel guilty for not branching out and trying a new shirt pattern? Because I don't, I really don't. My McCalls 7575 shirts have been staple in my work-wardrobe so it's no surprise I wanted to make more. There are also no surprises that when I spotted this black and white geometric fabric in Hillsborough I just had to have it.

The print is pretty crazy, but crazy enough to not really have to worry about pattern matching! My main aim was to make sure obvious horizontals were still horizontal and lined up across the front, and that the centre back wasn't wonky. Think I succeeded!

The fabric is a lot lighter than that I chose to make my last McCalls shirt from, so I had to think twice about what interfacing to choose this time round. I picked a lightweight for the yoke, medium for the collar. I used a slightly heavier for the front band following the gaping situation I had on my first shirt, where I had used a much too light interfacing and the button band lost all structural integrity all together!

Looking back I think I shouldn't have gone quite so heavy this time round as the band tends to 'bounce' up with a mind of its own. But on the plus side 0 gaping which was definitely my main concern!

I mixed things up a bit with the buttons this time round. I spotted these cute silver ones on the market in Sheffield and thought they would make a nice difference to the simple black ones I had in mind.

Other than that this shirt was a well behaved make! Nice and sassy for the office, maybe even tuck it into jeans for a trip to town... Probably whilst on the hunt for more monochrome fabrics!


Location: Love Square, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Nightclub, The Vaccines

Sunday, 28 April 2019

McCalls M7575, Shirt

Any stitcher with an office job will tell you the best way of getting through those excruciating 8 hours a day is to turn up to work in something sassy that you made yourself.

I made a McCalls M7575 shirt when I started my current job, and it's true, it does make me smile when I catch sight of myself. Annoyingly my first shrunk a tiny bit in the wash (or maybe I ate, I duno) and the button band was gaping a bit between buttons. It was easily fixed by unstitching the band and adding in some thicker interfacing... and then I took out the front darts. I swear it shrunk okay!!

I kept this in mind when I started out on my second M7575. The fabric I chose had a bit more body than my summery tropical viscose. When facing my button band I chose a heftier interfacing but decided the front darts would remain.

Cutting out using vertical stripes can make things easier as you can match up the pattern and make it really symmetrical, but also have to remember if darts are slightly misaligned then it's going to be much more obvious that you are asymmetrical.

I didn't really make any changes to the pattern, the shoulders fit really nicely and the length is perfect for tucking into my work skirt. I decided not to cut the front band on the bias as my last one stretched out a little. Straight grain all the way.

The only bit I messed up (!) for not really paying attention to the instructions was when sewing the underarm panel to the sleeve, I stitched the wrong seam to begin with (ie, not the actual underarm seam but the other side of the panel). It makes adding the cuff on a little tricker than it needed to be, but wasn't the end of the world and the end result is still the same. Would like to save myself the pain of making the same mistake again though.

I chose some super simple little buttons which I thought would compliment the bold stripes of the fabric. Love that cheeky stripe of maroon in there!

I used the button guide for gauging the buttonhole placement but made sure that I started with the button at the bust point so as to avoid any gaping.

Yay! Another finished shirt to brighten up the office. Want to make more with some fun geometric prints.


Location: Leppings Lane, Sheffield // Love Square, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Express Yourself, N.W.A.