Monday, 17 July 2017

A couple of Sutton tops


Not the most flattering photo I've ever taken but it demonstrates exactly how much I love the True Bias Sutton pattern. So much so, that I made two black ones before going on holiday to Spain last month. Yes, I was on a bit of a sewing-production-line! I bought two meters of black viscose fabric from Edinburgh Fabrics and cut out a plain black Sutton. I have coveted this version for a few years so of course I decided to copy it! That's how the two black Suttons came about.


The only really fiddly bit is sewing the bias binding onto the lace around the neck. That takes some patience and some time to do correctly but the effort is worthwhile. I sewed the plain black Sutton using french seams throughout. 


For the lace version I used french seams when sewing viscose to viscose but if lace was involved I overlocked those seams. I felt that trying to french seam lace was just too much of a challenge!


For the sleeve hems I overlocked the hem edges, then turned the overlocked edge to the wrong side, and straight stitched the hem. Job done! I absolutely love these two and have been washing and wearing them almost weekly. The thing I love about this pattern is that it sits where you put it. There's no adjusting it through the day when you're wearing it and the v-necked front doesn't make a dive for the floor when you bend slightly over. It just works. That surely must be the sign of a great pattern!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The tale of the second pair of PJs...


Here we go folks, I said on Tuesday in my Tale of Two PJs post that I'd made another pair of pyjamas...and here they are. I'm smiling in the photo but...I just don't like them. There, I've said it. 

For this pair of pjs I used the Closet Case Carolyn pattern for both the top and trousers. I used a 100% cotton poplin bought from Edinburgh Fabrics and prewashed before cutting out. I love the green! I also bought pre-made satin bias binding so I could add flat piping. The five buttons were chosen from my button tin. 

Where do I start with this? Maybe the trousers as I sewed them up first. I've already made the shorts previously so I knew the body part fitted well size-wise. I'd already added a good few inches to the rise and didn't alter that for the trousers. I added quite a few inches to the trouser legs #sewingtall. I added the bottom bands from the pattern and added flat piping too. But...I don't like how thick the band is (I didn't alter this, they're cut as per the pattern). 


I absolutely love the pockets, though! The waistband is cut separately and sewn on. I don't like having a wide piece of elastic in a wide waistband like this so sewed two channels and added narrower elastic in each channel. I wish I'd made the waistband 50% narrower and used one length narrower elastic but this is just a personal preference.

But the worst crime of all is that they are too short. Just half an inch too short. But enough to be flappy...*shudder*. This is the stuff of nightmares for me. This was my fault as I trimmed too much off the leg length before sewing on the bands. Nobody else to blame here!

Now, moving on to the top. I hate the collar. It's just too wide and sits too high up my neck (I have a long neck). I like how the two piece undercollar is cut on the bias. I also have to say that I absolutely, totally and utterly HATED (yes I know I'm shouting) the instructions for sewing the collar and front facings on to the body. I think it is overly-complicated, has too many little steps in it and there are far easier methods out there. 

I added a 1" FBA to the front just to make sure there would be enough room. That worked well and there is a small dart. The front and back body of the top fits well and I really like the shirt tail curved hem shaping. The flat piping is a little wide for my liking but that's probably because there isn't any piping cord inside the take up the slack. I have to say, the piping does meet perfectly at the inner corners of the collar. 


By this point in the pyjama sewing journey I was fed up and just wanted to finish the damned things! I cut out but didn't bother sewing the sleeve bands. The buttonholes went in ok and I sewed the buttons on. Gave it a final press and tried it on.

Oh dear! That's when I found out the trousers were too short and the collar wants to sit it's own way. Taking these photos, I noticed that the sleeves each have a huge vertical wrinkle. Have you got any idea why? I haven't. I sewed the sleeves on flat as instructed by the pattern and also because that's how I do them, if I can. I matched all the notches and the dot at the sleeve top and shoulder seam. So why the big wrinkles? And what's going on with the top button and lower collar? Nothing I do makes it sit properly. 


I wanted to bin them there and then. But I decided to see if they would grow on me after a few wears. They haven't. I went back to my favourite pyjamas sewn using Kwik Sew 2811 last night and the green pair are lying on the bedroom floor ready to start their probably quite quick journey to the bin. I will remove the buttons first though!  

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

A tale of two PJs


You're going to need sunglasses for this post! The colours and prints are going to sear your eyeballs. Before I went on holiday to Barcelona a few weeks ago, I decided to sew up a pair of pyjama shorts and sleeveless top as nightwear. I've fancied trying the Closet Case Patterns Carolyn Pyjamas so I clicked 'Buy' and started printing and taping. I don't trace so I made my adjustments to the pattern and then cut out the pj shorts.


I love a bit of piping on my pyjamas so made some bias binding and added flat piping to the shorts cuff. I also prefer the waistband to have two channels and use two lengths of narrow elastic. I just find it comfier that way.


I used the Colette Sorbetto sleeveless top pattern as I wanted something sleeveless and quick to sew. I did an FBA on this but can't remember how much I added. I finished the armhole and neck edges with my self-made bias binding...not that you can see it. There's also a pleat down the front which you can't see either! I was scratching my head for a while over that pleat, I just didn't understand the instructions at all but lightbulb must have gone off at some point because it all worked out fine.

The fit on the shorts is good, it's roomy but that's how I like my pjs to fit. I love having pockets! The Sorbetto is very, very roomy, I could do with sizing down but it was fine in the heat of  the Spanish heatwave. I used a 100% cotton poplin purchased from Edinburgh Fabrics for both the shorts and top and construction was with the overlocker and sewing machine so all in all, a quick sew but something I needed for my holiday!

Why the title 'A Tale of two PJs?' Well, I made another pair of Carolyn Pyjamas but I'm keeping those for another post...I'm not entirely sure about them so I'm wearing them to see if I'll get to like them...

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...