Monday, 5 June 2017

Out of my comfort zone...a bit of an experiment with stretch lace


In sewing up things for my holiday I've been trying to use the fabric and patterns I already have. Which has been interesting and also pushed me a bit to try some new things. I give you... Exhibit A some stretch lace and some black viscose jersey I already had.

The observant among you will notice that I managed to find paisley patterned stretch lace...demonstrating my love for paisley patterned anything.

Overexposed photo...but you can see the gathered back section
I used Simplicity 1463, a pattern I have in my collection but this is the first time I've sewn up view C. The black viscose jersey I bought from John Lewis for a bargain £4 a metre and I bought lots! That was a year or so ago. The paisley stretch lack I bought specifically for this top and I bought 50cm of it from Edinburgh Fabrics, which I think I paid £8, but I'm not really sure. Either way it's still a bargain for a top like this!

I added 2" to the length of the body and cut a generous Medium. This top comes out big! I'm not sure I actually needed to add any length, especially not to the back but I'm fine with it. I'm 5'9" tall just in case anyone's wondering about making this top, it's always good to have a height comparison!


The stretch lace was actually easier to work with than I expected. Basically I overlocked everything. For the sleeve hem I overlocked the edge of the lace, turned it up and straight stitched it, no stretch required in the sleeve hems! For the body hem that was a little bit more work. I stitched a straight stitch 1.5cm from the edge and pressed that to the inside. The front and back have pointed centre edges so you can't just stitch blithely around the hem in a one-er. I used my twin stretch needle and started sewing from the edge of the fabric, around the hem to the other point and off the edge of the fabric there too. Then repeated for the other part of the hem. Job done! Yes the double row of stitches overlap each other at the points but it's black and you can't see. It's good enough.

Accessorised with lipstick obviously
This is the bit I don't like though. The raglan sleeves are not in a straight line from the neck to the arm, more of a rounded square. On me I don't think they sit correctly, see the wrinkling? I think they would probably be better shaped as more 'classical raglan' sleeves, with a diagonal line from neck to arm.

The neckband gave me some grief though. It's the correct length and gives some nice stability to the neckline, which is all lace really. I overlocked the band on and found that the inside hem was wider than the neckband so it showed when wearing the top. So I overlocked again and cut more off the hemmed edge. Then pressed it well and used the twin stretch needle to topstitch around the neckband to make everything sit neatly where I wanted it to. You can't see any topstitching among all that lace, it's great!


To join the lace pieces of the sleeve together, the pattern instructs you to use a sewing machine. I didn't (what a rebel!) and used the overlocker so all seams were neatly cut and all edges securely finished. Those are quite full sleeves, not something I have in my wardrobe or that I'm used to wearing.

If you've got any rough patches on your hands, the lace will find them! Top tip...smooth on some hand cream before working with the lace...otherwise it'll drive you mad. I have to say I really like my new top and I'm glad I made it. It's already sitting in the washing machine as I wore it on Saturday, so that's a good sign!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A new swimsuit made and worn in a day

In the changing room just before it's first launch
I've made another swimsuit. This one was badly needed! I made a wearable muslin one last year but the chlorine had eaten the non-chlorine resistant elastic. It had done well to last a year! So, in typical 'me-ness', I bought Jalie 971 and made that one instead of using Jalie 3134 that I trialled last year. Makes perfect sense to me!

Inside view of the swimsuit front
I already had the black fabric, bought from Edinburgh Fabrics last year. The patterned fabric I bought online from FunkiFabrics and I still have some left. I overlocked all seams and for the central back seam I also topstitched using a twin jersey needle, just for reinforcement. I like to feel secure in my suit, don't want any wardrobe malfunctions!

Inside view of the swimsuit back
I bought chlorine resistant 10mm wide elastic from Minerva crafts and used the best part of two packs for this suit. I used ordinary Gutermann polyester thread in my sewing machine and normal overlocker thread (can't remember what brand it is). I lined the front of the swimsuit with power mesh and made the built in bra support using a combination of the pattern piece I'd drafted last year and the pattern piece from this pattern. 

Jalie 971 is an out of print pattern designed in 1996 but you can still buy the PDF pattern on the Jalie website. It's a whole 14 pages to tape together! I think I cut out a size Z and added 1" to the body length despite it being designed to fit my height, 5'9". I could be a little too much added length, going by some wrinkles on the back, but I don't think it's worth removing literally a quarter of an inch. You need to be able to move about! One other point about it being designed in 1996 - the legs are cut quite high, which is fine by me but they sit quite high on the hips.

I used the elastic insertion method from Jalie 3134, which is quite ingenious. You sew the elastic onto the wrong side of the fabric using a zig zag stitch. The 'zig' sews the elastic onto the edge of the fabric, the 'zag' sews into fresh air. Fold the elastic back towards the wrong side. Topstitch with the twin jersey needle. Job done! I love how the elastic feels like it grips well, much better than the RTW swimsuit I had been wearing.

So I now have a new swimsuit which I wore to my swimming lesson last night. It performed well and I'll be wearing it again next week. Have you made swimwear? Want to but a bit scared?


Friday, 19 May 2017

A paisley patterned Deer and Doe Melilot...what's not to love!



Ah, dear readers, I do love a good paisley patterned anything! And when I already had the fabric how could I not buy the Melilot pattern I'd been hankering after for ages and pay for it to be posted from France. All money well spent, in my opinion, for this lovely, neat, round collared, potentially-kimono-sleeved shirt with long and short sleeved options.


So I bought the fabric, a lovely printed viscose, from Mandors in the September 2016 haul. I like how the background colour is more of a beige than an off-white. That's if you can see the background among  the print. You know what I mean. This allowed me to use some buttons from my tartan button tin. My mum recently gave me some of her buttons so it's now nearly brimming over and that's just the way I like it! I used 8 matching buttons on the front and then 2 different buttons for the cuffs. No-one will ever know but see if you can spot the difference from the photos.


I can't actually remember what size I cut but I did a Full Bust Adjustment that made the existing dart a little bit bigger and maybe I dropped the dart a little, I can't remember because I have washed and worn this constantly since I finished it. The sign of a good shirt, in my book! I also added 2" to the length of the body.


The instructions are good. The front button/hole plackets form part of the front pattern pieces so you have to slow down and cut the correct width of interfacing. I used a lightweight charcoal iron-on throughout this shirt as the viscose has a good drape to it. You also have to get the tape measure out so you accurately turn the plackets back by the correct amount. It's a discipline I'm not used to after decades of sewing. It's good to be challenged, though!

I really like the curved shirt hems although I didn't finish the back hem and front hems before sewing the side seams as the pattern instructs you to do. I was a bit wary as this was the first time I'd made this shirt. All the other seams in the shirt are French seams which again, is a discipline in slowing down and sewing accurately. It takes more time but it's very good for fine fabrics whose sole purpose in life is to fray before your very eyes. Like this one.


The only thing I would say is that I'm aware of the bulk of the French seamed sleeve seams when I'm wearing this shirt. I'm pointing out where the seam is in the above photo. Next time, I'll sew these as a 'normal' seam and overlock the edges, or maybe just overlock the seams, just depends on the fabric, I suppose. Yes I will make this again and already have the fabric, matching thread and pattern sitting in my sewing queue. I've decided to make the short sleeved version so I guess I'll need to make another long sleeved version to test my theory about the sleeve seams. Right, I'd better go! Till the next time, have a great weekend and let me know what your thoughts are on the Melilot. Have you sewn it? Want to sew it? Don't like the sleeve seams too?

Monday, 8 May 2017

Crazy print top with faces on it!


I'm still on a sewing kick to get some tops made for my holiday. Here's another version of Burda 7079 that I recently made but this time it's in an absolutely crazy print. I made view A, the top but with the following modifications:

  • cut the back on the fold
  • didn't do the front neckline slit
  • modified the front neck facing
  • scooped out the front neck, from zero at the shoulder to 2cm at the front centre
  • added the sleeves from the dress
  • added 2" length

I bought a metre of this 150cm wide viscose fabric from Mandors in Glasgow. I didn't know what I was going to make with it but I knew I'd have enough for a top or maybe a pencil skirt.


I used up almost every scrap of the fabric. I added slits at the side seams, just because I like this detail. I used facings for the neck and simply turned up 1.5", overlocked the edge and machine stitched the hem. Believe me, you can hardly see the stitching in this print. I over locked all the raw edges as this fabric absolutely loves to fray and is quite frankly of an Olympic gold medal standard at it. The fabric feels like a linen so I didn't want to do french seams as they would be too bulky. Maybe it was mis-labeled and is linen, not viscose, who knows?


How to describe the print? In the shop I thought it looked like stylised tree trunks in a forest. Then when I got home I thought it was more like fish squashed against a window. Have a close look and tell me I'm wrong! Yesterday I saw the occasional face...


I cut the sleeves as long as the fabric would allow. I was going to wear it to work this morning (always a good sign) but then didn't. You know how it is. I was swithering about the length of the sleeves and I now think I'm going to shorten them to a more conventional 'short-sleeve' length. It feels a bit frumpy like this?


Maybe the elbow length sleeves with crazy print are just too much. What would you do? You have until the weekend to let me know what you think...

Monday, 1 May 2017

It's not a top!...some putty linen Named Alpi Chinos

Yes, I know I absolutely love sewing tops so it's a bit of a surprise that I've sewn some trousers. I've already sewn two pairs of Named Alpi Chinos before. I bought this lovely putty/grey/beige coloured 100% linen last year from Edinburgh Fabrics and didn't have enough time to sew them up before going on holiday. So this year I challenged myself to 'just get them sewn!'


Frankly, I couldn't be bothered to put these on and take photos so I thought I'd focus on the details. Besides, this is what I looked like last year with the same trousers style if you're interested in what they look like worn.


I used the same alterations as I did last year, adding 1.5" to the front rise, 1.25" to the back rise, 4" to the inside legs. I ended up overlocking 2" of this off the leg hems but as you know, I much prefer adding too much length and having the luxury of removing it if I want to. I eventually overlocked a 2" hem and turned it up once before stitching it. It's not complicated but I don't want bulky hems. I also had to take in the waistband so much the original 3 piece curved waistband is now a 4 piece curved waistband. I also managed to locate the waistband joins not quite in the same location as their counterparts at the back and side seams but I can live with that!


The zip fly went in like a dream and I had also managed to get a YKK jeans zip in the identical colour to the fabric. I used a silver coloured jeans button I already had and thoroughly enjoyed getting the hammer out to bash that in. Very satisfying. Just make sure you poke the back through the fabric before putting the button part on top. There's a little plastic gizmo that helps with holding everything together before you hammer it all in. Still have to be careful of the 'hammer/finger' proximity thought!


The already had the silver coloured rivets so decided to add them too but they were 'wee devils' to use. I used a dressmakers awl to poke a hole through the corner of the back pocket - which was about 5 layers of fabric. This didn't work so well so I used my seam ripper to rip a bigger hole. Like the jeans button, you need to have the back part pushed through all layers of fabric. You need to be careful you don't make too big a hole! When you push the rivet top over it, it will click together I found I had to cover the rivet top with cardboard and give it a good tap with a hammer so get a secure fit.


I'm not so sure about the diagonal hip pockets on these trousers, maybe I need to change the shape to curved. But realistically I'll never be wearing my tops tucked in so it's not such a problem. All in all, I like them, love the neutral colour and have another pair of trousers for the gloriously, balmy hot summer in Scotland. That or my summer holiday in Spain, which seems far more likely!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Mellow yellow....and being brave by trying a new colour


We had a little overnight trip to Glasgow a few weekends ago where I visited my favourite fabric shop of all time - Mandors. I managed to find lots of fabric and left the shop much poorer and with bags I could hardly carry back to the hotel. I remembered spying space in C's travel bag when he was packing...One of the fabrics was this lovely striped viscose, 'cheap as chips' and in the choice of either yellow or electric blue colourways. While I love electric blue I thought I'd challenge myself to take the yellow and go way out of my comfort zone. These stripes do NOT photograph well!


I only bought a metre but the fabric is 150cm wide so I knew I'd get something out of it. Ah, yes...there are also lovely, 'artistic' irregular stripes to match. Can't make it too easy for myself!


I used Burda 7079 that I've used before here and here but looks like it's out of print now. Basically, the pattern is for a top (or dress) with front slit at the neck, the back is cut in two pieces with a button loop closure at the neck. There are sleeves if you want them. I ignored the front neckline slit and scooped out the front neckline by about 1 cm. I cut the back on the fold too and didn't have any opening. As long as I scoop out the front, I can get this over my head. I used the front and back facings in the pattern, slightly modified, and used light, iron-on grey coloured interfacing. Why do very few sewists specify the interfacing they use? It's really useful to know and I'll try to remember to keep doing this!

I kept the modifications I made previously - adding 2" to the body length and dropping the dart an inch. I cut the dress bodice length plus two inches I added, but then cut off an inch or so, but that's the way I like to work. If something is too short, I won't wear it. I think that comes from years of trying things on in shops and getting annoyed at the lack of length. I'm 5' 9" tall. The sleeve hems are finished with purchased black satin bias tape.


There are very short, grown-on sleeves covering the shoulders. There are also short sleeves you can add but I couldn't get the stripes to match so didn't bother as I thought it would drive me mad. The bust darts give a good shape to the top and help it hang well in such a drapey fabric. I decided to have a hi-low hem as I always wear tops out, not tucked in. I've got such long legs my proportions look weird if I tuck my tops in.

Not knowing if I'd actually like the finished article, I feel I just flung this top together, threw it at the sewing machine and overlocker and was very pleased that I really like it! Partly that's because I tried a new-to-me colour but mostly because I've got a new top for my holiday. Yay!

Friday, 10 March 2017

Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat...or how I managed to rescue a cutting mistake


These are probably also the last photos from my mini-series, the Christmas Tree collection! Never one to waste some good mediocre photos I thought I'd just use them anyway. Call it thrift!

So, yes I made this during the festive break and I like how it's turned out. I haven't worn it yet but that's because I think it's a summer print that's not for steel-grey coloured cloudy skies of Scotland in the winter. What's the cutting mistake? Can you guess? It's staring you right in the face...the central vertical line. That's actually a piece of fabric overlocked to a left front and right front pattern piece. Normally you'd cut this pattern piece on the fold but because of the stripes I was aiming to cut this in a single layer. Except...I cut around one side of the front pattern piece...and then instead of flipping the pattern piece over and cutting around the other side...I started cutting UP the front towards the neckline. So I had two fronts. *sigh*


I was a tad annoyed...until eventually I thought about cutting a strip of fabric and overlocking it to the front pieces. Problem solved, a wearable garment created and actually, I really like it. The fabric is a cotton jersey with a little bit of lycra in it that I bought months ago from Edinburgh Fabrics. The pattern is one I've made before, Simplicity 1463 . I was careful about the pattern placement for the neckband and sleeve bands and the neck band is a smidgeon too long but I've noticed this before with this pattern. The hem is finished with a twin needle. 


All in all, quite a simple top. Have you ever rescued something from a howler of a mistake or disaster?