Wednesday, 31 August 2011

It's not just me

It's been confirmed.  It has officially been the worst summer since 1993.

So disappointing.  It's been my first summer as a sewist.  I was looking forward to wearing my summer Crescent skirts and tops in lovely hot weather.  Apart from one really hot day when I wore my green polka dot Crescent skirt I can't say that there has been a properly hot day.

The early signs were optimistic.  On 23 April 2011 I wrote about the week of lovely weather we were having.   I remember it well.  I was lucky enough to have taken that week off work and we went to Sea Palling beach (wearing my hand stitched denim skirt and leggings I believe).  Next up I made a  beach top.  In that post I wittered on about "warmer weather being upon us" and summer being "just around the corner".  I chose to ignore the visible warning sign in the grey sky that was visible in the picture of me.

I can remember being slightly panicked (as much as you can be panicked in sewing terms) about having no hand sewn summer clothes.   I was obviously expecting a heatwave.  I then proceeded to make a trio of Crescent skirts.  Oh look - on 25 June I wrote about the one hot day we had.   I was right in that post.  The next day was really hot.  We went for a walk along the canal on North Walsham broad wearing my green polka dot Crescent skirt.

By 1 July the weather was on a downhill cycle.  Here's me on 1 July moaning about how cold it was.   Here's me on 9 July moaning some more about the weather.    I'm at it again on 6 August.  By that time I wrote that I had given up on the summer.  On 14 August I described the weather as atrocious and was thinking about sewing Autumn clothes.   I think you get the picture.  It's a shame because I really wanted to start the Lonsdale dress but I feel it would be a wasted effort for something I will not be able to wear until next year.

On the plus side I have made a head start on my casual summer wardrobe for next year.   Oh and the main thing - I have had loads of fun making all these garments.  Even if I have been cold on the days when I have ventured out in them!

Happy sewing.  Bonne couture.  Glucklich nahen.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Velour T-Shirt

This is my second make of this Burda T-shirt.  Here are the pictures.

I used Burda pattern 120 from the June 2011 issue - see my first make here.  I now have some velour stretch fabric in my stash, as recommended in the pattern, so I was looking forward to using it.  I thought my first make of this t-shirt was too baggy so I took it in and made it more fitted.  It is slightly too small now but never mind.   I actually finished this before I started my Angela Kane shift dress but have only got around to photographing it.  I also noticed that one sleeve was slightly longer than the other.  I therefore unpicked the hem today and lined them both up.  Note for future sleeves - get the tape measure out and make sure the hems match!

I did actually make a third t-shirt after this one in the same fabric.  I am not sure why but I decided to make it even tighter!  Needless to say it is way too tight so I haven't worn it.  I think at that point I was fed up with them having made 3 t-shirts none of which I was totally happy with.  That was also one of the reasons why I chose the 2 pattern piece shift dress for my next project.  I wanted something easy!  Sewing can be trying sometimes.  Anyway having come back to the top a few weeks later I  have warmed to it a bit more.   I have worn it a couple of times since I made it and I will get wear out of it.  

I think this is likely to be the last summer garment for this year.    I haven't got around to starting my Lonsdale dress.  Unless I make a winter version that will probably have to wait for next year now.

I am currently working on another shift dress with a Peter pan collar.   I was pleased with how my muslin turned out so I hope that can translate to the finished project as well!

It's the long bank holiday this weekend so it is nice to write a Sunday evening post knowing that I have a day off work tomorrow!

Happy sewing.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Peter Pan Collar Top

I've been working hard on a self-drafted Peter Pan collar.  Here is the finished muslin and partial test garment.

There have been some lovely Peter Pan collars on Burdastyle lately which have inspired me to have a go myself.

There are some excellent tutorials on-line.  I used mainly Gertie's tutorials uploaded onto You Tube here.  (She is a delight to watch and her tutorial fantastic).  I also found Jamie Lau's tutorial on Burdastyle very helpful here.   There are a number of other videos on You Tube on the subject worth watching.

I used my Angela Kane shift dress pattern to make the collar.  I'm planning to make another shift dress with a Peter Pan collar.   The collars are really easy to make, but they take a lot of patience to get right.  I ended up making the pattern pieces three times.  Each time I made up the collar and so I made three test collars.  I then decided to make a test garment using just the top half of the shift dress pattern.  As I want to line my shift dress I also lined the test garment.  I wanted to see how you sew the collar onto a lined dress.  I only found one tutorial for attaching a Peter Pan collar here.   This tutorial looked really helpful but it was not for a lined dress.  It looks as though you just need to attach the collar with bias binding if you are not lining the dress.

I couldn't find a tutorial for attaching a collar to a lined dress anywhere.  I emailed Angela Kane and she told me how to do it.  (I'm a member of her site).

The collar was great fun to draft.   I made use of my snazzy new French curve.

You get your front and back pattern pieces and join them at the shoulder, seam line to seam line.  Now this is where Gertie's and Jamie Lau's tutorials  differ slightly.   Gertie said to overlap the pattern pieces at the outer shoulder by a half inch.  I used this method for my first two collar pattern pieces I made but the result wasn't particularly flat looking.  Jamie told you to overlap by 1 inch which I did on the final one shown above.  It has worked perfectly.

You have to trace the neckline of the garment from the pattern pieces (overlapped as stated above).  You then decide where you want the front and the back of your collar to start.  I started the front of the collar about 0.5 cm from the centre front of the dress and about 1 cm from the centre back of the dress (to allow space for the zip).   You then start drawing the seamline of the collar from these points.  My collar was 1 3/4 " wide from the neckline.  You just mark this distance from various points on the neckline with lots of small dashes and then join them up with the French ruler.   You just hover the french curve over your dashes until you get the correct curve and then join them up and move onto the next bit.  You then use the rounded bit of your French curve at the front and back of the collar to create a nice curve.   You then add the seam allowance all around your collar.  My French curve is great because it has a 1.5 cm seam allowance marked on it so you can just match your seamline up to the curve on the inside of the ruler and then draw around the edge.

You then trace out a duplicate copy of your collar pattern piece and use your curve ruler to make the second pattern piece 1/8 of an inch shorter around the collar edges.  This is the under collar piece and the idea is to ensure the that the seam line does not show on the top and to create a roll for the collar.  There's no need to make the neckline seam allowance shorter.  I ended up topstitching around the edge of the collar which looks quite good.

I used a pencil to draw my pieces.  With my first two pattern pieces I used a felt tip pen but a pencil is more accurate.    I didn't interface my test garment but I will on the final one.   Here are my final pattern pieces.

I almost forget - you draw in the grainline by simply folding the collar pattern lengthwise at the centre (Gertie shows you how to do this).  I've always wondered how they know where to put the grainline!

I had to do a slightly different lining method in order to attach the collar:

1.  I stitched the shoulder seams for the lining and then I stitched the shoulder seams for the dress.  I ended up pulling half of it out so it is worthwhile just stitching halfway across the shoulder seam starting from the neckline.  (You need a gap to turn through).

2.  I attached the collar using the spacing from the centre front and back you decided on when drafting the collar.   The underside of the collar touches the right side of the dress.   I stitched about 1.2 cm from the edge.

3.  I then attached the lining to the neckline, right side of the lining facing right side of the collar and dress with the standard 1.5 cm seam allowance.  I under stitched the seam allowances to the lining and also top stitched the neckline to secure the collar in place better.

4.  I then stitched the armholes up to about 1 inch from either side of the shoulder seam line.  Remember you have not yet joined the side seams and so the under arms are not joined.

5.  Turn the lining through to the right side.  (It took me ages to figure this out.  I wondered what I was doing wrong until I realised that it was impossible to turn through with the side seams stitched together!).

6.  Again using my own "no hand-stiching" rule I sort of pulled out from the inside the shoulder seams and neck edges that need stitching.  Pull out far enough to let you stitch comfortably.  It is possible to do although you do have to hold it steady and go slowly.

7.  Turn the shoulder seams back to the right way and marvel at your neat shoulder seams!

8.  You then stitch the side seams.  You will be able to figure out from here how you can stitch the side seams of the lining and the side seams of the dress in one long row of stitching.   Turn through.

9.  I didn't attach a zip on my test garment but I will follow the same principles as Tasia's zip on the Crescent skirt, so attaching the zip to the lining first and then to the dress.   I will leave about 1.5 to 2 inches of the back of the neckline unstitched to make inserting the zipper easier and then go back and stitch up the gap after inserting the zip.

I'm really pleased with my test and I'm looking forward to trying it in a nice fabric.  I will insert a link to this post in my Techniques section for easy reference.

Happy sewing.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Angela Kane Shift Dress

I'm just in time to squeak in a weekend post.  Another finished project - an Angela Kane shift dress.   Here are the pictures:

I used Angela Kane's shift dress pattern number 763 here.   I have made this dress before in a chiffon fabric (my Dotty Betty dress posted on Burdastyle in December 2010).   I haven't made a dress for quite a while.  I made Angela Kane's pinafore dress in November 2010, Angela Kane's jersey dress in December 2010.  (I'll gloss over the Vogue dress I made in August 2010).    Also this was my first proper attempt at a lined dress so I thought I would use a straightforward pattern.  It only has 2 pieces and bust darts.

I thought I would do a muslin to see if I could get a perfect fit.  I ended up making the muslin 3 times!  I used a stiff white cotton for the muslin.  My first muslin was a shapeless sack.   I then stood in front of the mirror and starting pinching in the sides and pinning.  I then pinched in some vertical darts in the front and back.  I can't quite remember what happened next but by the third time I had dropped the vertical darts.  I pinched out the excess fabric on the muslin and pinned and taped the muslin.  At the previous attempt I had already transferred the alterations to the side seams to the pattern pieces.  I was going to then transfer my other "pinched" alterations to the pattern sheets by pinching out in the same area.  However Angela Kane's patterns are downloaded onto A4 paper so it wasn't really possible to pinch.  I could have traced the pattern to tissue paper but I decided just to tape up the muslin adjustments and use the muslin as pattern pieces!  I know some sewists say not to do this but it has worked (and I have to say I felt a bit like a pro using muslin as pattern pieces!).  I am really pleased with the fit.  The back is not so good.  I don't think I am advanced enough to figure out what back adjustments are required.  Never mind - the front looks good.

I used a lovely satin lining, the same lining used for my Jade Crescent Skirt.  I used Angela Kane's tutorial on lining posted on Burdastyle here with the following variations:

1.  I inserted the zipper using Tasia's instructions on the Crescent Skirt sew-along.  I attached the lining to the zipper and then attached the zipper to the skirt.  (Attaching the zipper to the dress which happens to have lining attached as Tasia would say).  I used an in invisible zipper.  However, using this method to sew the zipper to both the lining and dress means that you cannot uncurl the coils so it was a bit like using a normal zipper.  However it has come out pretty invisible from the outside.

2.  I didn't slipstitch the last bit of the lining on the shoulders.  I managed to machine stitch everything.

I love this method of inserting the lining.  Essentially you attach the armholes and neckline to the lining leaving the shoulder seams.  Stop your armhole and neckline stitching about an inch short of where the shoulder seams will be (once you stitch them).  Don't do what I did at this stage and sew the dress shoulder seams as well.  Impossible to turn through!  I had to undo them and then turn through.  It is then possible to machine stitch the shoulder seams on the dress and then the shoulder seams on the lining.   It's even possible using the same principle to machine stitch that 1 inch gap left under the shoulder seams.  No need to handstitch anything.   I have heard that ready to wear sewists don't handstitch anything.  I always try to figure out a way to machine stitch something before reaching for a needle!

Update - since writing this post I have had questions on how I sewed the shoulder seams once the dress is  turned through after sewing the armholes and neckline to the lining.  Set out below is a further description which hopefully makes it clearer.

Essentially you sew both seams in each shoulder like you would any normal seam - right sides together and press open.  You just need to play about to figure out how you can get it so you can comfortably lay the two shoulders right sides together so you can sew.

Once you've turned through the lining the right side of the dress will be facing outwards.  I reached inside the dress with my hand starting from under the hem of the dress so my hand was sandwiched between the lining and the dress.  I reached up into the shoulder until my fingers poked through the shoulders that have not yet been joined.  I grabbed the two shoulder edges of the dress that needed sewing and pulled them down towards the hem (or as far as you need to comfortably sew the seam).   Sew the seam, press and put it back up.  Repeat for the lining seam and then repeat for the little gap left just below the shoulder seams when sewing the neck and armholes.

I made sure I pinned and hand basted each shoulder seam and went really slowly.  My machine is always on half speed anyway and one stitch at a time is best.  It is hard to get into the corners on the machine so feel free to hand sew any bits towards the start or end of a seam where it is difficult to keep the fabric put under the presser foot.

I also under-stitched the lining to the dress seams at the armholes and neckline.  I did this before I joined the shoulder seams.  Boy, this was tricky particularly the armholes.   I was almost tempted to reach for a needle but I managed to do it in the end!

As usual I used the blind hem foot for the dress hem and as usual I am really pleased with the result.  It really is all but invisible.   I then finished off the hem seam with a zig zag stitch.  I was going to use seam binding to finish off the raw edge of the hem.  Tasia introduced me to this in her Lonsdale sew-along.  I basted on a small section.  It was really easy to insert and I really wanted to do it but I thought the fabric was too fine for this.  I plan to use seam binding to finish seams in future though as the finish looks really good.

I will blog separately about where I came by this fabric at some point.   I am not sure what it is, but I think it's cotton.  Little flowery prints are not usually my thing and not something that I would normally choose.  However I really quite like it.

I now feel ready to tackle a more challenging dress.  I checked my Vogue sewing book and this type of dress is a true shift dress - it only has 2 pieces.  A sheath dress is one with a bodice attached to a pencil skirt.   I would like to tackle a sheath dress at some point in the future.

I am not sure what I am going to make next.  We are now mid-way through August and the summer weather has been pretty atrocious.  There are some lovely Lonsdales out there but I'm wondering if I should now start making some Autumn clothes.  Decisions decision.

Hope you had a nice weekend.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

My Fabric Friday for August

It's that time of the month again when I update my Fabric Friday challenge.  This is where I wear a hand stitched item on dress down Friday at work, which happens once a month.  Here's what I wore yesterday, snapped late yesterday evening.

Excuse the blurry (and dark) pictures.  I bought a fancy camera a while back and I don't know how to stop it doing this when using the timer.  I'm assuming it's my photography skills rather than the camera itself.

Anyway I wore my "Here comes the sun" top with, you guessed it, jeans.  I was going to wear my Burda wrap cardigan with it yesterday but I was assured before I left for work that it would be hot and I wouldn't need it.  Needless to say it wasn't that hot yesterday and I think I could have done with it when I went out at lunchtime.   I've given up on the British summer this year.  If you want to make an appearance great but if not, whatever.

I was going to wear my Jade crescent skirt yesterday but decided against it.  I think I would be worried about tearing it or dirtying it.   Even though I have an office job and sit at a desk for most of the day I still feel that I need to wear something akin to a hard wearing "uniform".  My ready to wear shift dresses and suits are perfect during the week and act like a uniform and I want to feel the same on these dress down days.   Even though my Jade crescent is sturdier than the other two cotton ones, and is lined, I still felt it wasn't sturdy enough.

This top looks great with jeans and in fact I haven't worn it on its own with jeans before.  I love the drape of the fabric.  I really should get around to making another one in a similar drapey fabric.  I like how the sleeves extend to cover the top of my shoulders providing some coverage in that area.

I am currently working on a shift dress.  It has been an interesting experiment.  I have no idea at this stage if it is going to work.  I hope so but if not it has been a great learning process.

Happy Sewturday.