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?

Monday, 13 February 2017

Velvet t-shirt



I've been so busy with a large amount of 'un-fun' stuff that hasn't involved sewing that I'm only just now getting around to blogging a few more makes from the end of 2016 and the start of 2017. You'll see what I mean by the Christmas decorations in the photos! Oh well, I know you're here for the sewing, so that's good.


I bought 'Sew' magazine and got a free New Look pattern. Who doesn't like that?! So I thought I'd use it to make myself a velvet t-shirt/top. I also found some teal coloured stretch velour in John Lewis and bought some of that. It was my first time sewing velvet/velour but I didn't have much of a problem sewing this up. Then again, my walking foot is permanently attached to my sewing machine so that probably helped a lot. I didn't want machined hems so I hand stitched the sleeve and body hems.


Can you imagine using bias tape to finish the neck on this?! There lies insanity! I drafted some front and back neck facings and used some iron-on stretch jersey interfacing. And do you know what? It was absolutely fine and didn't show any flattening of the pile. Maybe that shows how resilient polyester is! I would not treat silk velvet in that way.


What I didn't do, and I put this down to my laziness so this is entirely my fault, I didn't do a full bust adjustment and I really should have. I used the overlocker for most of the seams and inserted the sleeves flat as I always do if it's humanly possible. I also used a clear crystal vintage button from my button tin at the back neck. However the neck is large enough, and the fabric has some stretch, so I can pull it over my head. That's just as well because the rouleau loop I successfully managed to turn inside out (using that strange wire-tool-with-a-hook-at-the-end) for the first time ever in my life, is too bulky to stay closed over the button. So I sewed the button loop almost closed.

Do I like this top? It's ok. I haven't worn it since these photos but it's been very cold here in Edinburgh so that's not a surprise. I also think I've gone off the fabric too. However, I will use this pattern again though, and make myself do an FBA. There is always space in my wardrobe for a good top pattern!  

Friday, 6 January 2017

Lots and lots of plain tops


It hit me one day that my wardrobe is full of lovely patterned garments and I also have lots of lovely patterned scarves too. You can see where this is heading, can't you? With lots of patterned tops hanging in my wardrobe and sitting in my drawers I only had about three plain coloured tops. Time to do something about that! So over the festive holiday I sewed up quite a few and also bought fabric to make more (which I haven't yet started).


I used two patterns for the tops and this proved very useful as I found I could get two tops on two metres of fabric. Result! The first pattern was one I traced off from a favourite RTW top. I've made it before here and here. The other pattern I used was Simplicity 1463 that I've also made twice before, here and here.


The grey and black jersey fabrics are all viscose jersey with a little lycra and I think I bought them from John Lewis. The burgundy fabric is a similar weight and thickness but has some non-scratchy wool in it so it's lovely and cosy. I bought it from Remnant Kings in Glasgow in September. Have to remember to select wool wash on the washing machine though!

You'll see from the middle photo above that I had to cut the back piece for the grey Simplicity pattern version as two pieces and have a seam up the back but it looks fine. My favourite from these five tops (one black, two burgundy and two grey) is the one I'm wearing in the top photo which is from the pattern I traced. I don't have a pattern piece for the neck band but I've now developed my own method for working out how much to cut. I roughly measure the neck circumference which is usually 26", subtract 2" to tighten the band up and give it the right amount of stretch around the neck. It works for me. For the record, and for future me sewing this up again, I cut a strip of fabric 1.5" wide. I like this narrower band. Body and sleeve hems were turned up and stitched using my twin needle. I didn't do any twin needle stitching on the neck band. I like it just turned and pressed and it's behaving very well as it is.

So there we are, not exciting but essential and tops that I'll wear loads. Some good, solid practical sewing!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Final garment for my #VintagePledge 2016


Just squeaking in with my last garment before the big Vintage Pattern Pledge 2016 deadline at midnight tonight! Strangely this was the first thing I sewed up for my pledge but ends up being the last one I blog about as it took me ages to find the right buttons. So, I've met my pledge to sew up three garments using vintage patterns. The final pattern is a reprint of Simplicity2154 from the 1960s. Not a decade that I sew from as I seem to naturally gravitate towards the 1980's. This has also resulted in a very plain garment but as I'm increasingly realising, I need quite a few of those in my wardrobe too and I've been sewing up quite a few plain tops but you'll see those in 2017.


The fabric is a rather scratchy boiled wool that I bought in a sale at John Lewis about a year ago, so I can't remember how much I paid for it. It has a slight stretch to it although there's no lycra in it. I think there could be some polyester in it.


I like this pattern. I made some alterations to it by adding some length to the sleeves and body. I also added some width across the back and added darts from the back shoulder seams. I added too much width and the back is too broad. It's still wearable. I did a full bust adjustment that worked well.


I overlocked most seams and finished the sleeve and body hems by overlocking the edge, then turning up and machining the hems using a twin needle. I like the double row of stitching. It adds an interesting detail to an otherwise very plain top.


The button and buttonhole bands are really well thought through. You use 3/4" or 1" wide satin ribbon which has just the right amount of softness to cope with the soft fabric but acts as a solid base to sew the buttonholes and buttons. You sew the edge of the ribbon to the right side of the fabric and turn it to the inside. Then you topstitch the other edge of the ribbon to secure it, tucking the ends in and hand stitching them to secure them. Very neat and I'll be stealing that idea in the future! The ribbon finish looks really good if your cardigan flaps open.


It took me ages to find the right buttons. they have to fit within the width of the button/buttonhole bands and look 'right' with the cardigan. eventually I found these square ones in the right colour.

I'm not so sure if I'll wear this though, the wool is just a bit too scratchy for me, something I didn't realise until I was taking the photos for this blog post. There are also 'self-inflicted' fit problems but they aren't too bad. I did, however, thoroughly enjoy sewing this up. A lot of the time I don't follow pattern instructions and do my own thing but I was good this time and followed them. I enjoyed learning about the ribbon finish for the buttons/buttonhole bands and really liked the finish of them. I think this is really a wearable muslin and I've learnt lots. It's good to be challenged and to learn new things and this pattern did that.

So, it's Hogmanay in my part of the world and so much of an important celebration in Scotland that our public holidays are 1st and 2nd January. I'm staying at home and welcoming the holiday as we've had a house guest for a week so now they've gone we're enjoying having the place to ourselves again. Having said that, there will be quiet feasting and drinking over the next few days! So wherever you are in the world and whatever you're doing, I wish you all a happy, healthy 2017 (or in Scots dialect- 'Lang may yer lum reek'!).

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Top 5 non-sewing highlights of 2016


So this appears to be the third in a short series of posts for Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow's annual Top 5 of 2016. Today it's time for non-sewing highlights. I'm struggling with this a bit! And it seems strange to be blogging about a non-sewing thing on a sewing blog. But I suppose the top highlight of the year is being made permanent in my role after almost 2 years of secondment. I'm happy to be doing a job I love.

Ah, another highlight is getting C to take 2 holidays and 3 weekends on holiday in 2016. I have a stealth plan to slowly increase the amount of time he takes off work up to the level of days off that that normal people take. There's a price to pay when you have your own business, you work lots more hours than employees do.


This image is from the Royal Shakespeare Company's performance of a Midsummer Night's Dream which we saw at the Citizen's Theatre, Glasgow. Magnificent! This was a weekend holiday we had in April.


The next thing that's a highlight (and this is a fairly eclectic selection here....) is learning butterfly stroke at swimming lessons. I've been going to lessons for over three years and I'm loving it. I especially love strokes like this where I can pull myself through the water with my arms and shoulders. I really feel powerful and now have muscles! This has caused a few fitting hiccups though as it's subtly changed my arms, shoulders and across my upper back. Unfortunately I've now got a frozen shoulder (used to be 'ouch' but now it's very stiff and limits some movement) which has stopped the butterfly but I'm still swimming my favourite stroke, breast stroke, which is totally unaffected by the shoulder problem. That's not me in the photo above, just to be clear about that. There's no photography allowed in the public swimming pool I go to, quite rightly.

Well, I know there are only three things but I can't think of anything else for this category and I'm happy with that. These are three major things to me. Actually I'm a 'glass half full' person and generally happy and content most of the time. I obviously have my ups and downs but life could be a lot worse. It could be better too (go away frozen shoulder!) but it is what it is and it's good.


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Top misses of 2016

Something strange about the title of this post but I'm not going to spend time trying to sort it. So, here goes for the next part of Gillian from Crafting a rainbow's annual round-up. They're not in any order of preference.

Miss number 1. Random squares blouse


Now, there's nothing actually wrong with this blouse. It fits beautifully and I love the squares fabric and the square buttons too. But it's just a bit...dark...and this makes it difficult to wear with jeans. I could wear it with black trousers but then that would make the whole outfit too...dark. I'll keep it and see if I wear it in 2017.

Miss number 2. Experimental make-up bag


I rather liked this. But it was too long and became a pencil case for C's work. I keep saying I should make myself another one and get the measurements worked out properly but there's always another lovely pattern and fabric to sew with that distracts me. I still need another make-up bag, by the way!

Miss number 3. Chrysanthemum print top


It's alright. I think I just don't like the shade of pink binding at the neck. And the fabric is not so nice a polyester. Some polyesters are ok but this one I'm not fussed about. That about sums it up!

Misses number 4 and 5: two New Look 6217 tops


I know, how did this happen? Two misses from my favourite top pattern ever!!! Well, for this top although it's made in a viscose, I'm just not keen on the print. It fits and the neckline is well finished and not too big or too small. Just not keen on it at all. I'll haul it out next summer and see how I feel about it.


My fabric choice is one problem with the other miss. I bought a triple crepe and it's a lovely colour but the fabric has a scratchy texture especially at the sleeve edges. The neckline I bound in purchased bias binding and it's too wide. So wide that I need to keep pulling it back up onto my shoulders and that gets annoying. Again, I'll haul it out next summer and see what I want to do with it. 

Interestingly I was having to work hard to find five misses. I'm going to take that as a good thing because it means I've been better with fabric selection and purchasing, and pattern choice. I've still got lots of things to blog that I've made recently so we'll see how that goes over the Christmas holidays. Just the small matter of photographing the final garment for my Vintage Pledge of 2016 but with Storm Barbara heading our way that's not going to happen anytime soon! 




Friday, 16 December 2016

The Top 5 of 2016

Ah, I know it's been a while since I posted on this blog but life is just full, at the moment. I came across Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow's annual sewing round-up and thought I'd add my things to it. Here goes for my hits of 2016!

Hit number 1. Cocoon cardigan


I absolutely love this and it's partly because of the lovely John Kaldor (not cheap) fabric with a portion of non-scratchy wool in it. The other part of why I love it it...batwing sleeves! What's not to like! I made this in April using the Jalie Cocoon Cardigan pattern and it's definitely suitable for a taller person (I'm 5'9"). No sleeves to set in and the only really tricky thing is attaching the band all the way around the edge. Once you've sewn/overlocked it, it needs a good press.

Hit number 2. The swimsuit


Yes, I sewed a swimsuit! And even more than that, I've been wearing it to swim in at a public swimming pool and not had any unfortunate 'wardrobe malfunctions'. If I can sew this, so can you. Although it does take a surprising amount of time to sew a garment which doesn't really cover much of you. This was a muslin that ended up wearable but I can see that the piece of elastic I used when I drafted and made a shelf bra is showing the effects of being dipped in chlorine each week. time to start planning the next one.

Hit number 3. Sutton Blouse


Live this too! I bought this before realising it's sewn with french seams. Oh well, another skill gained. Unexpectedly! I absolutely love this and would gladly fill my wardrobe with them. I was too much of a 'feartie' (ie. scaredy cat) to make one in silk but having recently sewn a silk top (unblogged but worn, washed and in the ironing pile) I've now got over that fear. I really like the fit on this top, love the v-neck, yoke and kimono sleeves and the high-lo hem...basically I love everything about this top.

Hit number 4. Pyjamas 


If the weather hadn't turned too cold to wear these I'd still be in them! It's a tried and tested pattern that I've used many times before and I like the loose, slouchy fit. Jammies are made for lounging about in, I say. I really wasn't sure I'd like these when they were sewn up but thought I'd take a risk with this out of my comfort zone beige-ey grey colour. I think brightening it up with dark red piping and buttons was safely within my comfort zone though.

Hit number 5. Flower top


Again this was a tried and tested pattern I've made many times before. It was the fabric that gave me the huge challenge when cutting it out and deciding upon pattern placement. The pattern repeats were printed along the edges, with gaps of plain fabric in between the flower repeats. I bought 5 pattern repeats thinking - one for the front, two for the sleeves, and allow 2 to match the pattern with the back zip. I needed all those pattern repeats! Facings were cut from the scraps and that worked well.

Now, off to think about the interesting fails...