Sunday, 19 February 2023

McCalls M7472, Raglan Shirt

Everyone needs a basic black shirt for work. But who ever really has the inspiration to make a basic black shirt? I keep telling myself I could be one of those people, but my eye is never drawn to plain fabrics in the fabric store. Once again my stash ended up replenished with a quirky print, this time in the form of this spooky cat-adorned viscose challis by Minerva

The fabric has a halloween-feel, with subtle spooky staring kitties emerging out of the darkness. This is probably about as close to plain black fabric as I was ever going to buy! I absolutely love the print - their little yellow eyes really add an extra PING to the shirt, and give me opportunity to accessorise with yellow. I love it when I can find a fabric that speaks to my inner goth and can be filtered into my daily outfits. Also having a kitty shirt only felt right after making my pooch-themed one 2 years back. 

To sew with, the fabric feels quite delicate, in that one dodgy pin could cause snags. I would advise using fresh pins and needles if possible to reduce any chance of pulling the threads. I held my breath when I made the button holes and had the fray stop close at hand when I sliced them open. 

The viscose challis is so lovely and light to wear. It's slightly prone to creasing, but this has just been encourging me to stop slouching at work! It was easy to press so made it easy to be accurate when making the cuffs and front band. Pressing the pleats at the sleeve before attaching to the cuff was an absolute game changer! 

The fabric can be slightly wibbly when cutting out (you all know what I mean by that!), so cutting out on the fold you just have to be extra sure that both layers are flat and straight so that there is minimal shifting around and you end up with symmetrical pieces! The print does make it easy to cut on the fold though, as the abstract element of it means you don't have to spend 2 hours working out your pattern placement before cutting. 

The pattern itself was a tried and tested for me. I love how wearable it is, and how easy to make! I used the size 12 as I like a bit of overhang when I tuck into my work skirt but I think the size 10 would work just as well for me. 

I omitted the pockets on the pattern as I thought they might be a little disruptive to the print even if I pattern matched them. Looking at the shirt I wonder if piping the front band and cuffs would have made the kitties pop even more, but also seemed a bit risky that we could have ventured into Pyjama territory! With this in mind though, I would like to add piping to my sewing to-do list for this year... I make plenty of shirts to give myself the opportunity! 

Location: Tabby Teas, Cemetery Road
Currently listening to: Mansize Rooster, Supergrass

Tuesday, 27 December 2022

Fibremood Patterns, Edith Blouse

It's not difficult to see why the Edith Blouse hashtag is trending on my Instagram right now. The pattern is super chic, super cutomisable and super easy to fit. There's an abundance of varied fabrics paired with this pattern on the socials - basically anything goes. 

My fabric was a birthday present from a shopping to trip to Hillsborough Fine Fabrics - I was immediately drawn to its William Morris-style romantic utopianism and neutral tones. The fabric is light and drapey but didn't proove too much of a nightmare to sew with. I used fresh microtex needles to reduce the rick of snagging, and used only one needle in my overlocker so the seams were more delicate. 

Although the Fibre Mood magazine has fully illustrated instructions I would recommend going to the website and following the sew along step by step as some of the images can be left open to interpretation. Also - don't do what I did and skip straight to the fun part - if you've never made a Fibre Mood Pattern before it might be useful for me to let you know now that the seam allowances aren't included on the pattern sheet, so you'll wanna add those on when you trace it off. Of course I'd already cut my toile before thinking to check what the seam allowance should be and that's when I saw it. I still made up my muslin but reduced the seam allowances as much as possible so I could try and invisage the fit. 

The side seams and sleeve seams are straight and there are no darts in the bodice, so this makes fitting quite simple. 

I would also recommend making sure you 100% include the tailors tacks at the insert/bodice points - as matching these up is integral to getting that nice neat V- finish. 

I followed the instructions pretty mcuh down to the T- overlocking raw edges before sewing them and pressing them open (not like me at all as I pretty much ALWAYS finish them together after stitching the seam). As the fabric was quite delicate though I thought this could make all the difference. I did however change up how I stitched the neck band on though - I stitched the outside to the top neckline and then slip stitched the inside down by hand, instead of sewing the inside down then topstitching the outside down. Basically I didn't trust that my topstitching was going to be very neat, and the pressed edge was still a bit springy so didn't trust it to behave when sewing it down from the top. There were no detrimental effects from sewing it my way, so if you're not feeling super confident about your top stitching abilities then I would deffo recommend sewing the inside down by hand. 

I also omitted the top stitching around the ruffle. Once I'd sewn it in, I really loved how naturally all the pieces seemed to fit together. Again- worried wobblie topstiching could ruin the effec, I decided not to sew down the ruffle's seam allowance. 

The fun part of this blouse has got to be making the ruffle. Pay attention to those notches on the side seams as you want the ruffley bit to sit in between these and be flat over the shoulders. This is such a simple idea in the design but really perfects the silhouette of the blouse and stops the shoulders becoming daft and bulky. 

The hardest part of the pattern, which I think most people will agree with, is battling though those beautiful ruffles to neatly stitch those V-points where the yoke is sewn to the top without getting anything caught where it shouldn't be. If anyone did this in one attempt I will be very impressed!! I was nervous that my delicate fabric might not take kindly to too many attempts at this, the last thing I wanted was snags running down from the points! To add to the stress here, you want to make sure the V is pointing directly to the V at the bottom of the ruffle otherwise it will be really obvious if you are off centre! 

I was really proud of my matching up, and the fabric ruffles and flows so nicely. The gathered effect is echoed at the cuffs too. Elastic is inserted into the hem, letting the billowy sleeves fit nicely at the wrist (be careful not to catch the elastic as you sew). I found this stage pretty fiddly too but the effect was worth it. I might make the sleeves a little longer next time, but I don't think this length was too short. 

I was a bit nervous about doing the buttons on the back opening, but with a bit of help from some fray stop (highly recommend!!) the buttonholes are really neat and there's been no snagging. The buttons I found in Hillsborough fine fabrics are a lovely match to the print as well. Very happy with my find! 

Absolutely love this blouse. It's smart enough for work, but special enough to be eye catching and suitable for social events and errrrrm, wearing in your own music video. The neckline gives it a bit of a 60's feel and the ruffle gives it a bit of a superhero feel (yep I said it), power-points all round! The ruffle is omittable, customisable, aching to be crafted from a contract fabric... there's so much fun variation to be done here. 

A great introduction to Fibre Mood patterns! 

Location: Sheffield Antiques Quarter / Botanical Gardens
Currently listening to: No Move Virgos, CMAT

Sunday, 6 November 2022

So, Zo... Strappy Vest Top III

I highly recommend this pattern as a cute little scrap buster. I had some of this soft stretch chevron fabric left over from a fabric haul a few years back. I never did know what to make with it! I ended up making a very unadventurous T-Shirt and had an awkward amount left over. 

The amount was so awkward in fact, that I played about for quite a while making the pattern shorter and shorter to get it to fit on my remenants. 

The most important thing for me was to make sure the chevrons at the front and back were equal. I needed them parallel to the hem and also equidistant from the centre front / centre back so there was no chance of looking lopsided! I would have been happy to make a super croppy version of the vest but there was enough fabric left and it was soo stretchy that I couldn't even really tell that I'd made the pattern any shorter. 

I asked for a roll of black fold over elastic for my birthday this year, so there was plenty to go at to bind the edging and make straps. I tacked this to the top by hand first, as the machine was keen to chew up the fabric before everything was lined up. I then secured with zig zag stitch over the straps and neckline. 

And thats it really! The pattern is so versatile, you can use pretty much any stretch fabric that takes your fancy. I would like to make a tiny croppy version for next summer, or to wear as an under-layer for all these autumn cardigans. 
Scrap-busting here we come! 

Location: South Parade, Doncaster
Currently listening to: No More Virgos, CMAT

Sunday, 30 October 2022

Mood Sewciety, Almond Bodysuit

Do you like free stuff? Do you like to do a bit of problem solving? Do you like fitted body suits and stretch fabrics and mildly suggestive cutways? Yep Yep to all of the above. 

The Almond Bodysuit is a free pattern from Mood Sewciety. The problem solving comes in the form of maneuvering your way through the slightly sketchy instructions on the website. There's a bit of filling in the blanks needed as you work your way through, you need to really tune in to how the crossover sits at the neckline and shoulders, making room for the seam allowances where the neck band and sleeves sit. 

The pattern suggests cutting a slit down the back of the neckline, and I later saw something about adding velcro to the neck?? Let me just say, if you're using a stretchy fabric I'm sure this is all completely unneccesary. My fabric didn't even have the greatest %stretch but I had no problems in getting my head through the headhole when I'd done. 

First major problem to tackle is not stretching out that outside curve of the over lay when you hem it. Zizzag stitch was just sending the fabric a bit nuts - I didn't want to press the hem too much and add too much heat to make it stretch out, so I turned this under by 1.5cm, pressed lightly and tacked by hand before using a piece of pattern paper between the machine and the needle. The overlay doesn't really need mcuh stretch to it, so to avoid over-handling the fabric here I just used a long straight stitch to hold down the hem. 

It came to finishing the shoulder seams (slightly chunky due to the layers of the overlay but not insane), and my overloacker had a bit of a nervous breakdown. I've notitced it getting a bit jammy and fluffy around the blade for a few projects now.... And is it any wonder handing never changed the blade in 9 years! It slowed me up to mailorder new blades.. and slowed me up a bit trying to change them (queue MY nervous breakdown), but once it was done.............. Oh my my my how easy overlocking had suddenly become! I can't eve begin to epress the joy! It was like being reborn! Bulky seams no longer a problem I was able to finish edges without any more drama. 

My go-to bodysuit pattern is the Simplicity 8513, from this I knew that I would absolutely need to include a centreback seam for a close fit to my back curves. This was a bit of a winging it process- just grab the excess fabric in the centreback and effectively sew a massive dart starting somewhere between my shoulder blades (widest part) and ending at the widest part of my bum. Once happy with the fit I trimmed the dart and pressed it open which helps release the curve and fit that little bit better to my lower back curve. 

This pattern gets a lot of stick for it's superlow neckline. It doesn't offend me, and I think using a fabric with a better stretch recovery would have made me feel a bit more, er, secure, but this is something I would alter if I made the pattern again. It either needs to be not as deep or not as wide. In turn I would probably also extend the width of the overlays at the underarm where they meet at the side seam. 

Instead of just turning under the raw edge of the legholes I attached some underwear elastic with a nice picot edge. This helps with the fit and prevents any gaping around the crotch (no one wants that). 

If I'm honest there were times I almost give up on this garment. My motivation was thwarted by getting dumped mid-make, leaving the garment sat on my attic floor for two months while I tried to stick my life back together. It didn't take me long to realise the fabric could have done with being a bit more 'springy' in it's stretch and I was worried the whole thing would be a waste of time. The overlocker blades finally calling it a day almost made me do the same to be honest. Hating leaving anything unfinished though I powered on, and I was pleasantly surprised at how it turned out. Yes I would make a few changes if I made it again, but if I found the right fabric I do think I *would* make it again. 

Have you had any lucky free-pattern finds? Or any to avoid! Do you have fitting issues in the back everytime you make something fitted? What are your usual pattern hacks to aid this? Drop me a line.

Location: Doncaster City Centre, Multi-storey Carpark
Currently listening to: With A Woman, Tempesst