Friday, 27 July 2012

Red Gingham Picnic Skirt

I've finished the Picnic Blanket skirt! First off here are the pictures.

A bit sunburnt from last weekend

A Pretend Picnic

This is of course made following Tilly and the Buttons' tutorial. I would normally avoid a full skirt gathered at the waist, not having a teeny one and all. However I just love Tilly's version so I had to make one myself. I also liked the idea of not following a pattern and I would also get to practice buttonholes.

I love the final skirt. I think I did a good job on the buttonholes and the finishing. It looks really professional if I do say so myself. I tried to match up the squares but it hasn't come out quite right. It doesn't really notice though. The squares were slightly off grain so I didn't quite just cut along the squares.

I pretty much followed everything as it was on the tutorial. A summary:
  1. I did the gathers in 4 sections like Tilly. This was my first time using 3 rows of basting to gather and it really does make a difference. I started my gathering on the front and back further away from the side seams than Tilly, about 2.5 inches in. The skirt lies flat on my hips where I don't want to add volume!

  2. I made the button placket wider than Tilly's. Mine is 2 inches wide. I've written in my Techniques page (see tab above) some information about placement of buttonholes etc from the Vogue Sewing book. I followed those rules about placement which is why I made the placket slightly bigger. I'm a bit more used to buttonholes now but I have some tips in this post if anyone's interested.
A major first for me was using my machine to sew on the buttons. My goodness there's no reason for anyone to be hand sewing buttons! I remember seeing this in my manual and thinking “Like I'm going to risk breaking a needle”. I also thought this would need a special attachment but nothing of the sort. The thought of hand sewing seven buttons sent me scurrying for the manual and after about 1 minute I had the hang of it. So a quick guide to sewing buttons by machine:
  1. It has to be a button with holes in of course – not a shank.

  2. Lower the feed dogs. These are the teeth sticking out of the throat plate on the machine that move your work along. Lowering them will keep the work still. My machine has a switch next to the bobbin.

  3. Switch to zig zag. Put on a size 2 stitch length to start with but you can change up or down in a minute.

  4. On my machine (an old Husqvarna) the presser foot slides on and off and you just remove the presser foot leaving the stub.

  5. Mark on the fabric where the button stitching should go. By the way my buttons on this skirt have 4 holes but I only sewed the 2 holes at the top. I thought the button hole would lie flatter behind the button but I don't know if sewing all 4 would have made any difference.

  6. Place the button under the stub and lower the footless presser foot to secure the button. Using the hand wheel manually lower the needle and aim for the first hole in the button. If your needle is going to miss the hole, adjust the button position under the presser foot until the needle falls into the hole.

  7. Continue slowly the zig zag stitch so that the needle aims for the second hole. If the size 2 stitch length is too long or short, adjust to the right length for it to go into the second hole.

  8. Continue to do the zig zag stitch manually with the hand wheel. About 15 stitches should do it. You can use the foot pedal if you want after testing the first stitch, but why risk it? A button reed   is a gadget you can put under the button to make the button stand away from the fabric while sewing. I don't have one of these.

That's it! I even showed my mother how to sew on buttons by machine when I visited her last week. She has a Singer and the feet are slightly different. I attached her buttonhole foot (like this one and placed the button underneath that foot.

Let's talk about styling this skirt. I faffed around for ages trying to find a top to go with it. Nothing was quite right. I thought my white Burda top would go with it. I think the problem was there was too much material with a baggy top as well as a skirt. The closest was a plain fitted navy jumper which was ridiculous during the mini heatwave we had this week. Out of desparation I threw on a black thermal vest and voila – something that might work. It seems that if I'm going to wear a skirt with this much material I need to balance it out with as little as possible on top!

So I went out at lunchtime today to buy this navy camisole vest, which I think is less harsh than black. It's a shame the heatwave isn't going to make it to the weekend, but I think I might wear this anyway tomorrow.

I'm working on my Minoru jacket at the moment so it might be a while before I have another finished project.

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, 13 July 2012

I'll Wear These A Lot ...

I've finished a couple of Burda magazine tops. First here are the pictures.

I realised I hadn't made any tops in a while. I made the Renfrew of course but that's more of a casual top. I was avoiding my Colette Violet so I thought I would get back in the swing of things with something straightforward. I also realised that I was wearing this top a lot for work so I thought I would make it again. It's number 113 from April 2011 Burda magazine. Here's the pattern picture:

Let me tell you that a couple of years' sewing experience does not make Burda pattern instructions any easier to follow. I'd forgotten that this bonkers pattern has a facing and bias binding. I ended up putting the binding on as I would normally do it and ignoring the instructions. I love the fabric for the top, partly because it is the perfect drape. I think it's important with tops to get a fabric with a lot of drape so it doesn't end up being on the stiff side. The white fabric is actually thicker than the blue fabric and so it came out slightly differently once the bias binding was on. I probably didn't need the facing on the thicker fabric. I didn't really need the facings on the other one either, but I ended up going with it because I like the extra body it gives where the bias binding is. I didn't interface my facing pieces because I wanted to keep the drapey feel.

I made these tops mainly to wear for work. I'm modelling this with a wool skirt I bought from Hobbs recently for work. I love the skirt and I'm seriously tempted to try and trace out a pattern to make one myself. I meant to take a photo of the back of the skirt.  Instead of a vent there's a square of fabric flared out on either side - like a godet.

Anyway I'm working on my picnic blanket skirt at the moment. I've given up with hoping for any decent weather. Apart from one day when I wore my French Riviera dress and another when I wore my Cambie dress,  I haven't been able to wear any of the summer clothes I've made. After my picnic blanket skirt I've decided to forget about summer clothes and start my Minoru jacket! I'm really looking forward to it - I've bought the zips and everything.

I've also started knitting a top which I'm really excited about. I'm using some slightly dodgy wool that my chap got me from an auction together with a 1980s pattern. The Cyberseams videos on You Tube are great for learning to knit properly.  I spent an evening knitting along with all the videos and my skills and confidence have improved immensely.

Happy sewing and knitting everyone.