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.