Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Failed Top ... and Sewing Treats

I had intended to do a round up / review type post on Saturday but I've been so busy doing nothing very much really apart from relaxing, sewing and enjoying the big day itself. I hope you've had a wonderful time too.

Instead of a round up post I thought I would talk about the failed top I mentioned in my Petal Skirt post. Here is the muslin.

I used pattern number 114A from the November 2011 edition of Burda. This is what the top is supposed to look like according to the Burda picture.

I'm sorry Burda but how is your pattern supposed to be the same as the picture?   I like mine from the bust down but the picture had me believe the top would have a nice, fairly deep V shaped neckline. I was slightly disappointed to find the neckline may smother me if I was to fall asleep in it.

I could alter the neckline but this is not what I was expecting from a pattern described as easy.   I have found some made-up versions of the top on the web and on Burdastyle.  Other people seem happy enough with the pattern but even on those the neckline is much higher than on the Burda picture.  

As I like the top from the bust down I had to mull over whether to continue.   I also had a bit of an issue with the front of the top.  There are two front pattern pieces that lie over each other to make the V shaped neckline.  I don't really want to add bulk to my frame at the top half.  This wouldn't have been a major issue but it would have niggled me.  The pattern calls for "fine knit" fabrics and I just can't find this sort of thing. 

Anyway, the beauty of making a muslin is not feeling so bad when abandoning it (although I was slightly annoyed as I had spent time tracing out the pattern).

On the plus side I see that my Petal skirt also goes with red!  Light grey is such a versatile colour! 

My sewing Christmas treats so far:

I've joined the Colette club!  I've already bought the Colette sewing book and I ordered these beauties from Colette's Black Friday sale.  I ordered them at the end of November and received them just before Christmas so you can imagine it was a bit of a Christmas treat.

On my last day at work before Christmas I decided to treat myself to this:

I've had fun working through little swatches with the different stitches (with a little help from You Tube).  It's not a good idea to buy yourself sewing treats just before Christmas if you have a partner wondering what to buy you.  Mine wasn't at all happy. Sewers are difficult to buy for apparently! To be fair on me I did ask for the Burdastyle sewing book but it turns out this is not available in the UK until January 2012.  

I'm off to see my parents some time this week and I think I'll wear my Petal skirt.  My mum loves seeing all my hand made clothes.  Last time I took down a batch of handmade garments for her to look at.  For her Christmas present she requested a handmade skirt from me to make for her in 2012!  I have bought her some lovely fabric which I will wrap up and give to her and then take back with me to make into a skirt!  

I haven't had any sewing presents from others so far.  One of my chaps's presents to me was book shaped.  He's got hold of the Burdastyle book I thought!  I excitedly unwrapped it and found .... the Knitting Book I had just bought!  That made me laugh but I've taken the hint.  

Happy sewing!


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Petal Skirt

It was supposed to be a top this time as I've been making loads of skirts recently.   Unfortunately I abandoned the top I was making at the muslin stage (more on that another time).   My gain though as I have another rather nice skirt.  Here are the pictures.

I used the Petal Skirt pattern from Papercut patterns. I actually got the pattern for free from the designer, Katie Brown, which I was delighted about. I gave Katie some feedback on the circle cardigan top I made from her range. It turned out one of the pattern pieces was wrong so she gave me a replacement pattern together with this one!

The skirt is fairly long for me as I usually go for shorter skirts. The fabric is part of the lot I bought from the retired seamstress. As usual I don't know what it is but it's quite soft and drapey.  The fabric is grey - a mushroom-y type colour. There was only the tiniest piece left so I did some creative squashing to fit all the pieces on.  I didn't have enough to do the hem facings so I used another beige fabric. I didn't have enough to do the waistband as one so there's a seam at the back.

The skirt front panels have only two pleats towards the outer edge.  I made up a muslin.  Although it looked fine I decided to make two changes. I felt this left the skirt a bit bare towards the side seams.   I added a slash pockets using my Crescent skirt pocket pattern piece.

I also added a third pleat in the gap.  I loosely followed this tutorial from Megan Nielsen.  Megan makes a tulip skirt from a pencil skirt pattern but I used the basic principle to create another pleat. I started by tracing a new pattern piece.  I then slashed down to the side starting from the end of the last pleat. I spread the pattern piece and put another piece of tissue behind to fill the gap. I made the slash wide enough to duplicate the space required to create another pleat.  I mirrored the pattern edge shape of one of the existing pleats in the space just created. I taped the tissue in place and then traced out a clean copy rather than use the one with tape all over it.  (I'm a bit more patient with this now. There was a time when I would have made do with a taped one but I know they don't store very well and end up sticking to other pattern pieces).

This was my first time using a hem facing.  It's a nice technique but somehow it ended up being a bit too big and didn't line up at the seams very well.  Instead of topstitching the facing down like the pattern suggests, I zig-zagged the edge and blind stitched the hem in place using the blind hem foot.  It came out pretty invisible from the right side.

I fully lined the skirt.  Instead of using the pleated pattern pieces for lining I created a new pattern piece by closing up the pleats and tracing it.

I finished this last weekend and was disappointed with parts of it.  The fabric and interfacing I used for the hem facing was a bit stiff.  The pleated section on the underlay panel caused weird creases in the side of the skirt.

So the skirt sat on the dress form for a week and somehow it now hangs far better. Another plus is that it goes with this ready-to-wear blouse that I bought in the summer of 2010 (before sewing took hold).

All in all I'm pleased with how the skirt has turned out.  The colour in particular is so versatile and goes with lots of things, particularly different coloured tights.

I can't believe it's only a week until Christmas!  I have from Thursday next week off work until the New Year!   I can't wait!

Happy sewing.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Finished Scarf ... and a Re-Fashion

I've finished my first ever knitted scarf and in fact my first knitted anything since about 1983!  Here it is:

It's taken a long time.   As I mentioned in this post in April I was inspired by Angela Kane's knitting video here to try some knitting.  It's a great video if you haven't seen it.  She experiments with different yarns, some of which I didn't know existed - like the big chunky one.   I casted on on 2 April 2011 and was on and off with it for the next few months.  I stalled when I noticed I had dropped a stitch.   I finally took it with me to my mum's a couple of weeks ago and she kindly fixed it.  I know there are videos on this sort of thing and I would like to get round one day to going through them and learning a bit more.  

I used circular needles (3.75 mm), cast on 200 stitches and knitted 40 rows.  I used Fashion Iro yarn, made in Italy, which is 100% cotton.  The yarn has different shades of blue in it, so it's a bit like making a stripey scarf without having to change yarn.

I don't usually wear scarfs because the ready to wear ones annoy me - itching the neck, sliding off and the like.   This one's great though and I've worn it every day to work since I finished it.   I've already started making a second one in the same style. I casted on yesterday and have done about 9 rows.  I'm taking a bit more care on this one.

I've also had my first go at a re-fashion. I'm not sure if what I did justifies this label but it transformed a wrap top into something I now like wearing.

I bought this blue wrap top from H&M about 2-3 years ago.   I wore it quite a lot of before I made my Burda wrap top. Since then I haven't worn it as I prefer my wraps to finish more or less at the waist rather than at the hip.

I've got a "before" photo of sorts as I have the same top in black which I have yet to alter. Anyway, all I did was cut off the ribbed edge turned it under a couple of times and stitched it in place. I was delighted with the result and love wearing it. Here are the photos - the first is the "before" photo. See how it now finishes much higher than the "before" one?



My tape measure always gets used as a necklace on my dress form!

Other news - I was interested to read this article about the Commons' speaker's wife, Sally Bercow. She wrote a nasty tweet about the Channel 4 programme "Kirstie's Handmade Christmas".   Accordingly to Sally crafters like Kirstie have too much time on their hands, are condescending, too good to be true and middle class.   Wow - what an ignorant attitude is all I'll say.

Happy sewing.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Plain Black Skirt (..almost)

I tried to make a plain black skirt but it's hard when there are piping techniques to try out. The result is a black skirt with a little bit of bling. Here is my third make of the Miss Chalmers' Skirt from Papercut patterns.

As with my first and second makes of this skirt I added slash pockets at the front and a welt pocket at the back. This time I added self-made piping. I used an old black gingham blouse of mine for the piping and the welt pocket. I read around the subject a bit first and looked at these tutorials on piping: Colette Patterns (adding piping), Colette Patterns (make your own piping) and Fashionable Stitch.  

There's one thing I will do differently if I make this style of skirt again with piping.  I made three piping pieces to correspond with the lengths of the bottom of the waistband front and waistband back pieces. The cording inside the piping needs to finish about 2 cm or so from the edge so you can sew the side seams (so you're not sewing over the cording). The cording inevitably moves about when your working with it and wriggles further down. The main problem is that the piping at the side seams of the skirt are bereft of cording so there is no continuous line of corded piping at the sides of the skirt. My tip would be to make one long continuous length of piping (see the Colette tutorial). Make much more than you need, say 2 inches more either side of the entire length of the waistband. Once it is pinned in place you can then cut down what you need, and undo the stitching of the piping so you can cut the cording at around 2 cm in. I might try and pin the end of the cording down so it doesn't shift.  

I don't know what the fabric is as it was part of the lot I bought from the retired seamstress. I think it's man-made as it doesn't crease.  (I'm loving fabric that doesn't crease). I had a terrible time hemming this skirt. I added a ribbon at the edge and then blind stitched the hem on the machine.  It didn't evenly match at the side seams for some reason and ended up bunched at the sides. I usually have no problem with hems but for the first time ever I unpicked a hem. I ended up sewing the hem by hand. It still hasn't come out brilliantly but it's better than it was.

I've just finished a relaxing week off work. We went to the Museum of London and I had a brilliant time looking at their costumes. I was squinting through the glass to see how the edges were finished and exclaimed loudly when I saw a neck edge was not finished! There was even a leather bikini from roman times!  A wonderful museum.  

Happy sewing.  

Friday, 25 November 2011

Versatile Blogger Award ... and other stuff

I've got a few things to cover today so this post may go on for a bit.

Thank you again to Ginger Makes for tagging me for the Versatile Blogger award.  My first award - how exciting!

A challenge for someone could be to follow the chain back in time to see where the award first came from.  Does anyone know?  If nothing else you're bound to discover some great new blogs.

The rules are:

- Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post;

- Share seven things about yourself on your blog; and

- Pass this award along to recently discovered blogs.

Seven things coming up!

1.  I'm tall.  I always thought I was 5 foot 11 inches but I'm in fact 6 foot and a half inch. I hated it when I was younger but don't mind now. Surprisingly I don't like wearing flats unless they're with jeans or are summer sandals. I usually wear shoes with a heel of around 2 inches but it's hard to find shoes that don't have enormous heels.

2.  I worked in London for 8 years in the 90s. I saw quite a few celebrities of the time including Jason Donavan, Kylie Minogue, Joanna Lumley, Victoria Beckham (in her Spice Girl days) and Belinda Carlisle.   Jason was playing Joseph in the Amazing Techni-coloured Dreamcoat so was still in his extremely good looking phase. Kylie's initial pop career had considerably cooled when I saw her, but she looked very glam and pretty.

3. The most famous person I saw was Princess Diana in 1995 in the strangest of circumstances given who she was.  I was ambling along Burlington Gardens with a friend (in the West End where I worked). The street was not particularly busy. Coming towards us from Bond Street was a woman in a bright pink suit. As she got closer I realised who she was but my friend and I carried on casually walking and talking as we had been. I said: “Is this Lady Di?” and my friend said “Yeah” just as casually. As she walked past I smiled at her and she smiled back out of the corner of her eye with her head down. A man in a suit who I assume was her bodyguard then rushed toward us. It was some time before the man appeared so it was amazing to see her on her own for that short space of time. I looked behind and she went into Cecconi's restaurant in Burlington Gardens with the man following behind. We couldn't believe it!

4.  I worked on the top floor of an office in London which looked onto the rooftop of the old Apple building (the Beatles' record label) in Saville Row. This was where the Beatles did their rooftop concert in 1969.

5.  I fell out of the family car when I was 3 years old and still have the scar on my chin from the stitches I had.  I can still remember it clearly.  Luckily for me it wasn't a busy road and the car wasn't going fast. After that my parents put child locks on the car well into our teens!

6.  I was in the audience for a recording of Top of the Pops in 1991, the music show that started in the 60s and ended a few years ago. Thanks to You Tube I've found some footage of the young me clapping away and dancing like a muppet!

7.   I have quite a few style icons but the most enduring for me have to be Kate Moss and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Here are just some great blogs that I like to read:

Just Skirts and Dresses

Toferet's Empty Bobbin.

Fashion Sewing Blog.

Pattern Junkie. 

Where mean comments go to die 

The hair hall of fame

(I've veered away from sewing with the last two!)

Onto other news and I haven't yet updated my Fabric Friday challenge for November. This is where I wear at least one hand-stitched item to work on dress down Friday which happens monthly. I have in fact already posted what I wore in November -  my black hoody top. I photographed it for this finished project post when I got home.

The next dress down day is next Friday.  However I'm off work that day so my Fabric Friday challenge has officially ended for this year!  My thoughts?  Well, it wasn't exactly a hard challenge.  I've comfortably kept it up.  In fact, although I haven't officially monitored this, I do believe I have worn self-stitched items every weekend this year.  (Apart from gardening of course).  This has also extended to weekdays I've had off work.

Although I've comfortably kept up with the challenge, I haven't ventured far beyond wearing tops with my jeans.  I will definitely keep up the challenge next year but I should try and stretch myself and wear something other than jeans.  I think I'll also start keeping track of what I wear at the weekends or in my own time so see if any patterns emerge in what I like wearing, what's the most comfortable etc.

Finally, Debi over at My Happy Sewing Place is doing a Sew Grateful challenge this week.  I haven't had time to do a project but I can reflect on what I'm grateful for in my first year of sewing.   Firstly, I have a bookmarks folder "Sewing Techniques" which is packed with loads of techniques I've found from the many generous people on the internet.  

Special mention has to go to Angela Kane and her brilliant Make a Dress videos.  Back in the halcyon days of October 2010 before I knew about sewing blogs and Burdastyle, these videos were the first thing I found after making a hash of my first sewing project.  I watched them all the way through way and took notes before making up the Pinafore dress myself.  It's worthwhile taking the time to write notes so you don't miss all the tips being thrown in.  Things like tying all your loose ends up as you go along.  An easy idea and one you wouldn't think was worth mentioning. Nevertheless this was not something I had ever thought of and is something I always do.  Once you've sewn your last seam you're ready to go instead of having to go back and tie a million loose ends!

Special thanks also to Sewaholic for her wonderful sew-a-long posts.   Hers was one of the first blogs I found last year when I started to sew.

Happy sewing.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Bright Blue Miss Chalmers' Skirt

I've just finished my second make of the Miss Chalmers' skirt from Papercut patterns.  Here are the photos.

As with my first make of this skirt in denim  I added slash pockets and a welt pocket at the back.  I used this royal blue fabric that I bought from the retired seamstress.   I don't know what the fabric is.  All I can say is I think it's man made and it's not particularly soft.   This isn't a colour I would normally choose but I really like it.  One good thing about buying a job lot of fabric from a retired seamstress (as you do) is the chance to wear colours you wouldn't normally wear.  

I used a similar coloured topstitching thread and topstitched all the edges including the side seams and the hem edge.  I also lined the skirt as with the first make.  I used a stiffer interfacing on this one which I like because it gives the skirt some structure. I normally use the interfaced part as the facing rather than the front piece but I forgot to do this.  I didn't do a great job with ironing on the interfacing so this shows on the front of the skirt.   I'll have to remember this next time.

The welt pocket has not come out as good as the denim version.  This fabric does not fold and press well and is less pliable than a natural fibre.   Interfacing the welt pocket piece to give it more structure would be a good idea if I do this again.  The topstitching around the welt pocket wasn't good in the top right hand corner and I may unpick this part at some point to re-do.

I french seamed the slash pockets which I always do.  However looking at the close up picture of the side of the skirt you can see that the bottom of the pocket shows through.  A smooth lining fabric for the pocket may be a good idea for this style of skirt so it doesn't show through.  I adapted the pocket pattern for the Crescent skirt to use on this skirt.  The Crescent, unlike this one, is a fuller skirt so the pockets don't show through.

I just zig zagged the other seams.  I didn't bother with the Hong Kong bound finish.  It was a headache on my last make.  This pattern has a 1 cm seam allowance included and I now realise you need at least a 1.5 cm seam allowance to comfortably do a bound seam finish.

As mentioned above the fabric does not cleanly press flat so I decided to interface the hem.    I haven't done this before and it worked like a dream.   I read around a bit before doing this.  I can't find the tutorial I read now but I think it was on Kathleen Fansella's Fashion-Incubator site.   It said that the interfacing should not end where the crease of the hem ends.  It should extend beyond this at least half an inch.  This is what I did and it worked like a dream.  I blind stitched the hem on the machine and zig zagged the edge.

I went a bit wrong with the zipper.  I didn't leave enough of a gap from the top of the zipper teeth to the edge.  I normally leave the seam allowance plus 2 to 3 mm.  I didn't even have enough for the seam allowance!  Apart from this I was pleased with the zipper and one of the few that have come out invisible for me.

Overall I'm really pleased with my skirt and I can't wait to start wearing it.

Happy sewing.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Home Sewing in 1911

I don't usually buy magazines.  Maybe the odd Burda or celebrity gossip magazine if I have a long train journey.  I just had to buy this month's Woman's Weekly though.  It's their centenary issue and they reproduced in full their very first magazine from 1911.  Here is the magazine cover.

It's a fascinating read.  Admittedly I have been most enthralled by the adverts with gems such as this:

There are pages of adverts flogging remedies promising to cure all manner of ills. This one was selling "Antipon" which promised "within a day and night of the first dose" to decrease your weight between 8 oz and 3 lb.    All this from something which contained only "vegetable ingredients of a quite harmless nature".

There's an insight into Britain before the National Health Service and regulation of the sale of medicinal products.   One advert asks if you have "palpitations, shortness of breath, heart skipping a beat, violent starts to your sleep".    Now you'd be told to get to the doctor pretty sharpish.  In 1911 this was an opportunity to sell "Oxien" described as "an almost infallible cure of heart disease and its many complications".

Assuming the women of 1911 were still alive after all this they had plenty of sewing to look forward to.   The magazines promised a set of sewing patterns free with  the magazine.

If Pattern Junkie had been around in 1911 she would have had a field day with the dismembered body parts in the pattern illustrations.

There are plenty of sewing tips and a whole section on "blouse blunders".   It's interesting to see that words such as "nap", "grainline" and "crosswise grain" weren't used.  For example one blunder of the inexperienced was cutting the patterns "on the wrong way of the stuff" instead of running "selvedge way" and "in striped fabrics the error is quickly noticeable".  

My favourite has to be the tip to improve your ironing board.

Yep.  1911 sewers had to make do with balancing a piece of wood on the end of two chairs.   I wouldn't have room to do much else if I had to do this in my sewing room!

Other news now and look what the postman has just delivered.

I can't wait to start reading this and sewing my first ever Colette pattern.

Thank you to Ginger Makes for tagging me for the Versatile Blogger award.  I'll have to start thinking about 7 things to post about!

Happy sewing.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Black Hoody Top

The Eurozone may be staring into the abyss at the moment but the sewing goes on. Here's my second make of the hoody top from Papercut patterns.

Here's my first version in red.   I used my adjusted pattern from the first time around where I shortened the length and slightly changed the position and shape of the raglan sleeves.   I don't know what the black fabric is. It's part of the fabric I bought from the old lady.  It's entirely unsuitable for this type of garment which requires a nice stretch.  It has some stretch but I imagine the lady used it to make theatre costumes with - something that doesn't crease, is hardwearing and has some stretch so it can move around.   You can't tell the fabric is unsuitable from the photos or when you wear it - it just looks like a black hoody top!

I wanted a contrasting hood so I bought some lovely grey and black striped jersey.  I was going to use the stripe as a contrasting lining at first but I decided I liked the stripes on the outside once I'd made up the hood!

The top is incredibly comfortable and flattering.  As the top is quite short (how I wanted it) you need to layer it up.  I may have to make more layering tops to go underneath.

There's not much more to say about the top so I thought I would talk about some of the techniques and tutorials I used so I can link them to my techniques page.


Here are some pictures of the cuffs:

Cuffs are not just for Christmas.  They would add a delightfully professional finish to any jersey top or sweatshirt.  You can even buy some ribbing to match your fabric and have ribbed cuffs.

I'd never done cuffs before and the pattern instructions were not particularly clear. Luckily I found this tutorial on cuffs.   It did take a while for me to figure out which is embarassing now because they're so easy.   I seem to remember unpicking them but that may have been when I was trying to follow the pattern instructions.

So to add a cuff to your sleeve you:

1.  Measure the bottom of your sleeve (the circumference of the cuff) plus seam allowance on either side.

2.  Decide how long you want the cuff, double it and then add seam allowance on both ends.  The design of these cuffs are nice and long which I like.

3.  The cuff pattern piece is a rectangle using: [the measurements at 1 above] x [the measurement at 2 above].

4.  Cut out two pieces of the fabric from your pattern, using the edge of the pattern as a grainline.

5.  Fold the rectangle, right sides together.  In my case the fold was on the long edge.  Pin and stitch so  you have a long tube.  Fold in half so the seam allowances is encased on the inside of the cuff.  (Refer to the linked  tutorial where there's a picture if you can't follow this).

6.  Follow the tutorial instructions from here to stitch the cuff to the sleeve (which already has the side seam stitched).    Finish the seam.

Attaching a lined hood using bias binding

Making up the lined hood was really easy and the pattern instructions were fine.     There are 4 pattern pieces, one for each half of the hood and one for each half of the lining.  They are both the same size.  I lengthened the hood on the pattern piece.  For the first time in my life I have a hood that is comfortable and the right length!  You can also change the design of your hood if you like.  This one is round against the head but you could change it to something more pointy.

You sew the halves of the hood and hood lining together, laying them right sides together and sewing along the line that will run across the centre of your head.  You now have two hood pieces, the outer hood and the lining.  Place the two pieces right sides together and sew along the edge that will frame your face.   You can add optional topstitching to the front edge of the hood.  I did the topstitching on my red top but not the black one.  The black one came out much better.  I found it much easier to attach the hood to the garment using the bias binding when I hadn't topstitched.

My search for on-line tutorials was really so that I could attach the hood to the garment.  The pattern instructions just said something like "attach hood" and had a picture of the outside of the top with the hood attached.  They didn't tell you to use bias tape but I couldn't see how you could attach the hood and have a nice finish on the inside.

I couldn't find many on-line tutorials for hoods.    I found this tutorial for a cute towel for a child with a hood.  (I so want a towel with a hood and I may have to make a big one for me!).   The hood on the towel is lined and was attached without any form of bias tape.  The method looked quite good but I was not convinced I could make it with a neat finish on my hood.  The towelling fabric may be more forgiving with this method.

I then found this rather student-y tutorial for a hooded gown.  This gave me the idea for finishing the inside of the hood with bias tape.  It didn't say how you did it so I figured out a way to do it (which I describe below).  It came out really well on both tops, and gave a great professional finish (apart from not managing to sew the bias strip very straight on the red one).

Here are some close ups of the hood and the bias tape:

Wrong side showing the bias tape finish

Wrong side back view showing bias tape finish
Note the joining seam at the centre back

Right Side

Wrong side front view

Wrong side back view

You can't really see the black ones very well which is why I posted the red ones as they are easier to see.

This is what I did after constructing the hood as noted above.   So you know which side I'm talking about I'll refer to the pieces as the outer hood and the hood lining.  The edge of the hood that is unsewn at this stage I'll call the neck edge of the hood.

1.   Mark with a pin, or snipped notches, on the seam allowance of the neck edge of the garment at these 4 points:  centre front, centre back and the shoulders.  Your shoulder notches can be equal distance from the centre front and centre back.  (Note - if your hood does not reach all the way round to the centre front, instead of marking the centre front mark where each side of the hood will reach up to).

2.  Mark similar notches on your hood on both the outer hood and the hood lining.  In fact you don't need to do a notch for the centre back of the hood as the hood seam marks the centre back.  When you mark the notches on the outer hood and hood lining that will match up to the shoulder notches on the garment you can again mark them equal distance from the front edge of the hood and the centre back seam.

3.  Pin the neck edge of the outer hood to the neck edge of the garment, right sides together.  Start by matching the notches of the outer hood to the corresponding notch on the garment.  On this top there were no marks on the pattern to show where the hood should be attached.  I did it so there is a gap of about 1 cm at the front neck edge between the two front halves of the hood.

4.  I used loads of pins and hand basted as well.  I stitched the outer hood to the garment starting from the centre back seamline of the hood and finished at the centre front.   Now this is where I found it easier on the black top when I hadn't topstitched the front edge of the hood that frames the face.  On the black top when I reached the seamline of the front of the hood that frames the face I stopped sewing.  I was able to sew right up to that points whereas on the red one where I had topstitched I had to stop at the topstitching.   Repeat for the other half of the outer hood.  Trim the seam.

4.  I then attached some stay tape to the seam allowance at the front neck edge for re-inforcement as this part will get a lot of pull with the hood.

5.  Now the hood's in place you need to secure the lining in place with bias binding.  I made some bias binding out of the fabric.  You cut a strip of fabric the length of the neck edge circumference plus seam allowance for each end (plus a bit extra so you know you won't run short).  The strips are chalked on the fabric and cut at a 45 degree angle to the lengthwise grain.  (Pull your fabric diagonally - there is more stretch this way which is what you want when you are laying it round a curved edge).   I think my strip was about 2.5 - 3 cm in depth.

6.  I used Tasia's method for attaching bias binding to the neck edge of the hood lining,  which she used in the Pendrell blouse sew-a-long.   However I made the strip extra long and then used Collette patterns' method for joining the bias strip at the ends after you have attached it.  It is much easier to work out how long your strip will need to be once you have attached it.

7.  With Tasia's method you fold the bias strip in half lengthwise before you start so you have a long folded edge and opposite is the edge which I'll call the "unfolded edge" of the bias strip.   I basted the folded strip so it didn't move about.   I marked the centre of the strip.  Starting from the front neck edge and using the centre mark on the bias strip as a guide I pinned the the bias strip to the right side of the hood lining (the side that will touch your hair), so the unfolded edge of the bias strip meets the neck edge of the hood lining.   Remember that you want the joining seam on the bias strip at the centre back of the neck edge, not the centre front.

8.  Stitch the bias tape all around stopping around 1.5 inches short of each side of the centre back of the neck edge.  This is so you can join the bias tape using Collette's method referred to above and then go back and sew that 1.5 x 2 inches at the centre back.  Trim the seam.

9.  The folded edge of the bias tape at this point faces up towards the hood.  You then fold down the folded edge of the bias tape so that it will encase the seam allowance of the bias tape and hood lining.  You then pin this to the garment, taking in the outer hood and also encasing the neck edge seam allowance of the outer hood. You then edgestitch along the folded edge of the bias strip.  This row of stitching will show on the right side of the neck edge.  Not a problem because it is covered by the hood when it is down anyway.  You could invisible stitch this down but I don't see the point of that as I can't see that it would be secure.

That was a lengthy post so I'll close off now.   I'm nearing the end of a skirt at the moment but I'm going to have to re-do the hem.  More on that another time!

Happy sewing.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Fabric Fabric Everywhere ...

Some may acquire fame overnight.  When I worked in London some used to say their salary doubled overnight.  I acquired an out of control fabric stash overnight.

I was happy trundling by with no more than 4 plastic crates of fabric.   An out of control stash would never happen to me I thought.    But then this happened on 17 July and my front room was transformed into this:

How did that happen?  The morning started like any other Sunday.   I was happily browsing sewing blogs / Burdastyle / on-line news websites.   My chap was browsing Ebay at the same time.  He's always on the look out for sewing related bargains for me to look at.   He's come up trumps before - see my sewing room table.   He then showed me an Ebay sale that was due to end that evening.  A lady who ran a business making Western wear was closing down and selling her fabric.  All in one go.  There were no bids and the starting bid was £300.

She had put one terrible photo on Ebay.  It looked like it had been taken in a dark basement.  You couldn't see any of the fabric properly, save for making out the odd stripe, plaid or bright colour.  I was unsure but my chap insisted it was a bargain.  Being an accountant he made me work out how much I spent on fabric etc and then said it would be worth it even if I made only a few things with it.  The rest he would put on Ebay and get the money back and anyway he would buy it for me!

We then called her and made our way to the lady's house.  It was only about 30 minutes away.   She lived in a lovely big house.  A widow so she lived on her own.  It was really interesting to hear her story about how she got into the business.  She was doing something totally non-creative (I don't think she said what) and had no sewing experience.  In around 1982 she saw a gap in the market for making Western wear.   Line dancing was starting to appear in the UK.  (I seem to remember line dancing become more popular in the early 90's with that Billy Ray Cyrus record).

She learned how to sew and she soon moved into sewing for theatre.  She showed me a couple of photos of actors wearing the clothes she had sewn.   She would also be asked to sew clothes for weddings and special occasion.    She would set up a stall, for example at a country and western fair, which would generate loads of business.  She said she would cut out the fabric and then employ seamstresses to sew them up.  She absolutely loved the business and in particular the social side and seeing people in the things she made.  She said she would still love to be doing it but she couldn't now.  She didn't say why but she was quite old and her hands were shaky.  I doubt she was able to sew.

She then asked if I had my own business.  Oh no, I said.  This is just a hobby.  She looked a bit confused.  She was probably not expecting someone to buy her entire fabric stock just for fun.

All her fabric and costumes were in a back bedroom. There was fabric everywhere and a rail along one wall with the things she had made and her costumes.  I wondered if she had just moved out of a shop as there was no order in the room and everything looked as though it had been dumped there.   I don't think so.  I got the impression it had always been like this and added to over the years.

Anyway, we were left alone with the fabric for about 10 minutes to assess what was there.  I decided there were enough decent fabrics there to justify the price tag.  If we could sell the rest we could make money.   We then talked about money.  We offered £300.  Comically she said she wanted £400 even though her starting price was £300 and she had no bids.   We got it for £300.

We then set about bringing all the fabric downstairs and loading the car.  We thought we would need to make two trips but we managed to fit it all in somehow.  There was one a funny moment as we were loading the car when she bent down to pick up a green stripy fabric.   She said she would like to hold onto this one!  She used it to make a waistcoat.   I didn't know what to say.  My chap re-appeared just as she was moving the fabric to one side.  He frowned at me but I didn't want to say anything.  He said that wouldn't have happened if he had been there!

When we got home we sorted the fabric into three piles - yes, no and maybe.  If I hesitated it was thrown into the maybe pile and we went through that pile again last.  We had a laugh at some of the "no" fabrics.   Here is a picture of the "no" pile.   Check out that lovely browny gold fabric on top and the cowboy hat and boots print underneath.  There's also a print with lots of American flags on!


Here are some finished projects using the fabric.

Angela Kane Shift Dress

Burda T-Shirt

Collar on my Peter Pan Collar Dress

Red Hoody Top

I would not have chosen any of the fabrics myself.  The fabrics are on the whole man-made and not luscious by any means.    None of the fabrics crease no matter how hard you scrunch them.  She knew what fabric worked for her business - practical, hard wearing and non-creasing.   I have made countless muslins with her fabric.  There are three rolls of white sheeting / calico.  When that runs out I can move onto other fabric.  I will never be short of fabric for muslins.

The amount of fabric was a bit overwhelming for some weeks afterwards.  I have now moved one half of the yes fabric into the cupboard in the spare room and the other half still sits in the corner of the living room. It is a fairly neat pile and luckily that corner of the living room didn't have anything there before!    The rolls and cardboard that the fabrics are wrapped around do take up a lot of room.  In some cases there was not that much fabric on the rolls so I discarded the roll and transferred to a crate.  It is nice having the fabric on the rolls however as it is easier to move about.

I am working on a skirt at the moment using more of the fabric which I am hoping to finish this weekend.

Happy sewing.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Someone killed Kenny ....

The character from South Park came to mind when I finished my latest project.  Here are the pictures.

I used the hoody top pattern from Papercut patterns.   I haven't owned a hoody top for around 7 years.  I'm not sure why I bought the pattern as I'm not a tracksuit wearing sporty type.   I think I was attracted to the luscious merino grey wool version on the pattern picture and thought it would be something nice and warm to wear in winter.

This may look like a quick and simple garment to make but I had major problems with the fit.  I ended up making three muslins.   On the first try I made the medium with no adjustments.  It came out as a huge shapeless top.  Not quite what I was after.  I pinched in I can't remember how many inches at the sides and sleeves.  I transferred the adjustments onto my pattern pieces, unpicked the muslin and used the same fabric to cut out the smaller pattern pieces.  I reduced the length substantially - around 6 inches. I like a more fitted top and a shorter length as it is easier to wear with skirts, which I tend to wear a lot.   

On the second fitting I wasn't happy with the design of the raglan sleeves.  It just seemed wrong.  The top of the raglan sleeve, where it meets the neck edge, seemed too narrow.  The underarm seemed to finish way down my arm, which was wrong with the more snug fit I was after.  I also thought it was wrong for the seam that joins the front and back panels to the sleeves to be dead straight.  I didn't know how to go about doing such major adjustments.  I didn't want to give up so I decided to have a go at trying to alter the design of the sleeves.

So I traced off new pieces and made adjustments.  I can't remember which order I did them in.  I made the top of the sleeves wider and removed from the front and back panels an equivalent amount.  I then made the seams that join the sleeves to the front and back panels more curved, like an "S" shape.  Not a drastic curve or anything.  I then managed to work out how to alter the corresponding part of the sleeve.  This is where it would have been a good idea to actually write down and photograph exactly what I did as I am struggling to remember now.  

I then made a final muslin.  I wasn't completely happy with the shape but it was a marked improvement.   It took me some time to re-design the sleeves and so I was not about to make further adjustments.   I lengthened the hood by around 1.5 inches. On my muslin I added the front pocket piece.  I really liked this but it didn't work on the drastically short length that I made.   The top of the pocket practically finished at the bust.  I decided against doing the pockets.  

I then cut into my fabric.  I'm not sure what the fabric is but I think it's a man-made knit of some sort.   I'm quite familiar with sewing with knits so it was pretty much plain sailing from here.  I used a stretch stitch, trimmed the seams to around 0.5 cm and then finished with a zig zag stitch.  

The hood was a bit tricky.  The instructions were wholly adequate.   The hood is fully lined and the instructions told you to just "attach the hood".   I couldn't find that many hood tutorials on-line.  A lot of the tutorials were for unlined hoods.   One tutorial referred to an option of attaching a bias strip.  It didn't tell you exactly how to do it but having a bit more experience under my belt now I managed to work this out.  

I decided to attach some twill tape to the neck seam allowance at the front of the neck after I had attached the outside part of the hood.  This was to strengthen that area a bit as it is likely to get a lot of pull from the hood.  

Now that it's finished I'm really pleased with it.  I can see me reaching for this a lot in the colder months ahead.  It looks better than my final muslin.  The sleeves are a bit wrinkly still but I think all sleeves are wrinkly.  I tried on one of my ready to wear raglan sleeved sweatshirts and this was wrinkly at the sleeves as well.  This made me feel a lot better.   I'm now half way through making another top in black.

The alterations were a bit of a pain to do but I am pleased with my achievement - my first time altering the design of a sleeve.  Tops and dresses always seem to need adjusting for my figure.   My Crescent skirt and Miss Chalmers skirt needed no alterations.  This could put me off making skirts and tops as I'll be thinking that they will require a lot of ground work and adjustment.  The upside to making adjustments is that once you have made up one or more muslins, the final garment is a breeze to sew.  I hardly needed to follow the instructions after the first muslin.

I now have a whole week off work so I'm looking forward to lots of extra sewing time.

Happy sewing.