Friday, 24 April 2015

New PJs, Me-Made-May-2015 and new fabrics!

I've made a badly needed pair of PJs! This is the final thing I made during my indulgent sewing week off at the end of March. I've just been pacing myself in blogging about all my makes from that week!

So here they are and I love them because they fit me. And that's not a statement I can ever make about RTW PJs. I chose a 100% cotton poplin so it's fine enough for pyjamas. Pre-washed it as usual before cutting out.

I bought my first every Kwik Sew pattern, 2811, because it has shorts and short-sleeved options too, so this seems a good all-year pattern. However, the seam allowances are not 5/8". I know that I would forget that when sewing them up, so I cut out the pieces with 5/8" seam allowances to avoid an inevitable disaster! I added lots of length to the legs and not so much to the arms. I can't remember how much exactly as it was a wee while ago.

Now for the piping. I used No.1 piping cord and some cream sating bias binding. I like the contrast between the cotton and silkiness. Here's a close-up of the sleeve cuff.

Isn't that a good join? I'm proud of that. I also added piping to the leg cuffs, around the collar and the pocket. I was going to add piping down the fronts too but the facing is part of the front pattern piece. When I realised it, I'd already cut out the PJ top pieces and didn't have enough to cut separate facings. It's not a deal-breaker and I'm happy with how they've turned out.

For buttons I tried getting as close a match to the bream coloured bias binding. I eventually bought fish-eye buttons and sewed them 'fish-eye-down' if you know what I mean. I prefer the plain-ness of them this way. I like how these pyjamas have turned out, despite the annoying seam-allowance thing and I'll use it to make more pyjamas again. It's just wonderful to wear something that fits!!!

You've probably seen the Me-Made-May-2015 at the top of this blog. Yes, I've signed up! Although it's a small pledge because I don't have enough to wear a garment every day. Maybe next year! Things will be worn more than once too. I already know there are lots of gaps in my me-made wardrobe - summer jackets, trousers, summer tops, summer pyjamas - so it'll be interesting to see what I think the gaps are at the end of May!

I've been so busy the last few weekends, when I get most if not all of my sewing done, that I haven't really made anything recently. Last weekend we went to Glasgow for a couple of nights as a wee break. One of the first places I went to was the magnificent Mandors. Imagine it, I had a full one hour and 40 minutes to browse all the dress fabrics, which I did. Then I bought this little pile of beauties! Lovely staff who were very helpful too. I was on the hunt for khaki/dark green linen to make a Minoru jacket for summer and some burgundy/wine corduroy to make another Minoru for now. I found both in Mandors...but there was only about 1.5 metres of each and I need about 3 metres. So now I'm hunting the internet.

Anyway, I also bought two cream fabrics- a cotton/spandex jersey and a woven cotton/viscose/spandex. I haven't taken any photos of those as they've been pre-washed and hey...they're cream so not the most exciting colour in the world but good basics.

Have to show you some close-ups of the beauties as there's some really nice fabrics. This is my absolute favourite because of it's in-your-face pattern and colouring. It's a woven viscose and was as cheap-as-chips at £3.99 a metre. I bought 2 metres and have no idea yet what I'm going to make.

But isn't it lovely? It is quite fine so I might need to add a lining to it, depending on what I make. Love the colours, it was sold as 'Javanese' but kind of has a more Mexican feel to it.

Then there's a viscose/spandex jersey. I don't know what the pattern is (it's not butterflies). I loved the colours in it.





This is another viscose/spandex jersey in a lovely teal colour that's a bit stronger and darker than this photo. It has a nice weight to the fabric.







And last but not least, this lovely cotton/spandex fabric I found sitting in the denim section. But it isn't denim. I photographed it - right side-selvedge-wrong side
so you could see that there is a kind of denim-type texture on the right side. This will become a pair of Ultimate trousers. And at 150cm wide, I have bought enough this time as I bought 2 metres.

So that's my fabric plunder from Mandors last weekend. Have you gone on a fabric binge recently with the new season fabrics arriving in the shops? I feel there will be more plundering ahead!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Flowery spring top

Well, how is everyone? It's actually sunny here in Edinburgh and yet still cool enough to wear the wool jackets I made this year. You can tell I'm a bit torn about whether this is a good thing or not!

Anyway, I'm gradually working my way through the fabric stash I bought from John Lewis sale earlier this year and since spring is definitely on the way, it was time to make something with this lovely floral fabric.

I reached for my well-used Simplicity 1364. I just can't tell you how much I love using this pattern and wearing the tops I make from it. Two important points which don't always go together! I'm wearing this version as I'm writing this post.

I cut out version A. I've only ever made view A, something I'm planning to change quite soon by making some cotton versions of the sleeveless view to take on holiday with me.

So I made the 3/4 sleeve version, adding an inch above and an inch below the sleeve dart. I love this sleeve dart! It's the equivalent of having a two-piece sleeve on a jacket. The sleeve just hangs beautifully if you manage to get the dart in the right place. Can't emphasise that last point enough! If the dart placement is wrong, when you bend your arm the sleeve hem will constrict too high up your forearm and be far too tight. I've got the dart placement correct now...

Look really closely, there's a sleeve dart in there
I also trim off about 3/4" from the front neckline as the pattern neck sits too high on me. I grade the curve though as it's a wide neckline. I just eyeball it and also remember to take the same amount off the front neck facing too otherwise it won't sit right.

I also added 2" to the body length. So after all those adjustments, what was once a simple pattern has now become quite a complex one. Here's what the finished top
looks like:


It's quite difficult to see the top in amongst all those flowers! Ah, I forgot to say it's a lighter weight stretch cotton sateen. I wouldn't use it for making trousers unless they were real summery trousers, if you know what I mean.

The day I made this top I had started making a pair of Sew Over It's Ultimate Trousers. I had 2m of black stretch cotton that I'd pre-washed and pressed. I pinned pattern to fabric but disaster!...I hadn't bought enough fabric. The fabric was folded in half and rolled onto a bolt so I hadn't realised it was only 115cm wide and not 150cm wide. Why do I need so much fabric? I need to add 2" to the rise and 5" to each leg length. I had to admit defeat and accept the pieces just didn't fit onto the fabric (unless I ignored the grain but that's not the road to successful sewing). So I guess I'll either have to make something else with the fabric or buy an extra leg length.

So I consoled myself with sewing my favourite pattern in flowery fabric!

What other sewing plans are flying about my brain at the moment?

  • Well, I've bought another vintage pattern from Etsy/Ebay for my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge. It's a skirt and if all works out well, I'll tell you a story about it in its post sometime in the future. 
  • I've also ordered the Sewaholic Minoru jacket pattern and I'm waiting for it to thud through my letterbox anytime soon. I'm thinking khaki green linen with a silk lining, as a summer jacket and/or a wine coloured corduroy as a wear-it-now version.
  • I've got a lovely A-line vintage dress pattern from the 1970's for my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge. Kimono/sleeveless (not sure how to describe it!). I could see that in a navy chambray/denim with some top-stitching for interest.
  • And of course, I need to make some Ultimate trousers!

 So many patterns and so little time to make everything I want. I guess everyone feels like that too!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A simple top

It's just as the title says - a very simple top! I cut this out last Sunday or Monday, I can't remember which day. Today I sewed it up and it didn't take long at all.

The fabric was on sale in John Lewis and I bought the last metre on the roll. It's a floaty, difficult to work with and probably-polyester fabric. I didn't pre-wash it as it's a loose fit top and I didn't really pattern match it when cutting it out.

The pattern is New Look 6217 which I got free with Sew magazine, probably January's issue. I'd had my eye on this pattern anyway so it's probably more a case of I got the magazine free with the pattern!

The pattern has two pieces, with the back cut on the fold and a button opening at the neck. I didn't want to 'interrupt' the pattern of the fabric so I cut both the back and front on the fold. I added an inch to the length of the body.

Here's a better photo of how the top is shaped:
I eliminated the back neck slit as there is plenty of room to pull this top on over my head. Because the fabric is so fine, I thought I'd do French seams but then bottled out of this as I wasn't sure if that would make the seams too bulky and heavy. So I sewed a normal seam, pinked the raw edges to finish, then pressed. This fabric has taken pressing better than I though it would. I'm pleased with the seam finish.

For the neck edge, body and sleeve hems I simply pinked the raw edge, turned over and machined. The pressed. The pattern says to use bias binding for the neck edges but I felt this would be too hard and bulky. We'll see how long my hemming choice lasts!

I used my walking foot and a size 9 needle. I have to say the walking foot is the best investment ever! It's paid off for the jackets I've made and also for this fine fabric. My machine didn't chew the fabric at all. Result!

So what do I think about this pattern? I love it! It still need some adjustments before I can churn out more versions ready for the summer. I can also see it made in a fine cotton and also a jersey fabric too.

I know I can make it in a size smaller, this is fine and wearable but quite large, especially at the neckline. This fabric is so fine I'll probably need to wear a camisole underneath.

I would also make it longer in the body. The hems are curved which I like as it gives a contemporary look to the top.

Anyone else made this pattern? I think it's a really good go-to-pattern that would suit lots of people and versatile enough to make it up in a variety of different fabrics. I'd love to hear what you've made it up in!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Wearable muslin

After I spied my long-lost favourite pattern ever, Style 3982, and clicked 'Buy' like a mad thing, I did actually make a muslin before cutting into my fabric. This is very unusual for me as I can't abide any sort of time wasting that cuts into my 'precious sewing time' (that I can use to make a wearable garment, is what I really mean!). I also don't have the patience to make a muslin for everything. I'm fine with making a muslin for a jacket, I can see the point, but for a top?!? This explains why I don't knit.

Anyway, in keeping with the 1980s-ness of the top pattern, I chose what I though is a suitable printed polyester to make my muslin:


It was really quick to sew up and here's a few photos of the top:






I made the sleeve cuffs as per the pattern but because the ends are cut at an angle, and then folded back on themselves, it didn't really work out that well with the patterned fabric. If I chop off the cuffs it might make the sleeves too short for this style of top so I think I'll just leave them alone. My theory is the pattern is so mesmerising on the eyes that no-one will notice what's happening at the end of the sleeves! 


Now you can see the full batwing-ness of the sleeves! This top is just a bit big on me so I made the next size down when I cut into my electric blue animal print fabric. I still really like this top though and have already worn it so I'd say it's a success. I didn't think I had enough photos to write a post about it but there you go! If you want to see the 'proper' version, take a look at it in its full electric blue, black and purple animal print-ness here. Hope you like it but I realise it's not everyone's taste!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Surprise - I've made another jacket!

Yes, flushed with success following my first wool jacket, C suggested he could buy some wool fabric for me for my birthday and that I should make another jacket with it. Well, that was all the encouragement I needed! I chose the Yona jacket as you can make it a buttoned version instead of a wrap with a tie belt, which is a style that rarely suits me.

The fabric is a 100% wool from Edinburgh Fabrics which I pressed and steamed to the nth degree to pre-shrink it. Sooo boring but essential.

Next, I made a muslin and got C to photograph the back so I could see how it fitted. Yona is drafted for broad shouldered women 5'8" tall. Bingo! Just about describes me. The muslin was cut straight from the pattern and was a good fit. I added an inch to the length of the body and arms though.

Lots and lots of pad stitching
This was my first lapel and I used tailoring techniques and also heavily read and scrutinised other Yonas in blog-land. I used cotton twill tape for the lapel edges and fold lines. I pad stitched the lower collar and under collar stand. All these steps, although they took time and involved a lot of hand stitching, really made the difference. My lapels are 'the business' and I'm really pleased with them. Not quite so pleased with my steam iron which managed to throw a 'thermostat-tantrum' and scorch a lapel but thankfully its gone a colour that sort of blends in!

I used medium weight sew-in interfacing and interfaced the whole jacket as the fabric is quite fine, not suiting but it's medium weight. I also interfaced the pockets and that was the right decision. No droopy pockets for me! I used sew-in hair canvas for the under collar, front facing and under collar stand.

Just to make things interesting, I used a good quality, dark red coloured satin lining and also did some black satin piping at the join between lining and fabric facing. I found some great buttons, I think they're more towards a navy/black colour and have electric blue in them too. Perfect!


Here you can see the colours in the fabric, there's mustard, bright blue and wine that appear horizontally and vertically. I can't escape pattern matching but I've done a good job on this back seam. The pocket is mostly matching...

The background colour gets a bit washed out in these photos but really shows up in the photos C took while we were at Holyrood Palace on Easter Monday. It was such a glorious day, wall to wall sunshine and warm.

See how rich the fabric colour is in daylight compared with the indoor photos above? Strange! By the way, the scorched lapel is the one nearest the camera in this close-up photo. The scorch mark goes along the edge of the lapel for about 3-4".

I really like this jacket and love how the fit is just about straight from the packet for me. I did have to adjust the top sleeve seam, shaving off a smidgeon just after it turned the corner of my shoulder, if you know what I mean. I like Yona's relaxed, more casual fit and style. Now for some action shots of the jacket...




It's a beautiful palace and worth a visit, if you can. Makes a good backdrop for blog photos too! But I have to say that I will wait a little while before making any other outerwear even though I desperately need it. Mind you the Minoru jacket is calling...have you got any plans for jackets now the weather looks like it's heading towards warmer times?

Monday, 6 April 2015

Vintage pattern pledge - with a twist

Well, I took last week off work to sew and boy did I sew! One of the first things after my Project Jacket was an easy, quick sew which is also No.2 for my Vintage Pattern Pledge. As soon as I saw this pattern I knew I had to sew it. It's Style 3982 which has a basic batwing sleeve top with neck and shoulder variations. The copyright date on it is 1982.

So what's the twist, I hear you asking? Well, I confess that in the early 1980s when I was a child sewist (!), I had this pattern and made view 4 in black poly-cotton. I wore it all summer long and certainly during a family holiday to Kent. I really loved that top and thought I was the bees-knees in it! Somewhere back in the mists of time, I got rid of my copy of this pattern (why?!?) so when I saw it again on Etsy or Ebay I'd bought it faster than you could say 'Duran Duran'. And so, Vintage Pattern Pledge No. 2 (pattern) was decided. 

The pattern is very simple, containing just two pattern pieces. The front is cut on the fold and the back has a seam. There are folded back cuffs and that's about the most difficult and time-consuming thing about making this top. 

So, I'd got the pattern, but the next big question loomed up for me - what fabric could do justice to this 1980's gem, this trip down memory lane? Does anyone else get so attached to a me-made piece of clothing it instantly brings back where you were, what you were doing and the music of the time? Just out of interest, the best-selling single of 1982 was Come on Eileen by Dexy's Midnight Runners. Also big in 1982 were Adam Ant, Haircut 100, Yazoo and of course, Madness. Enough of that mental-meandering and back to 2015! 

It was difficult but I did find a worthy fabric for this pledge, an electric blue, purple and black animal print which I feel know is very reminiscent of the 1980's. 

It's 100% viscose which I pre-washed. I made view 4. Again! I cut the back on the fold as there's more than enough room to pull the top over my head. It also avoids unnecessary pattern-matching! 

It's really quick to sew this up. There aren't any facings or bias binding for the neckline. The edge is just turned over and stitched. I pinked the edged as the fabric frays, especially after washing. I've not used this technique recently so we'll see how long the neckline lasts!

I decided not to do the folded over cuffs and just turned up the sleeve hems an inch and then folded the raw edge under and machine stitched them. No raw edges are showing but as the sleeve is quite wide the wrong side can be seen. The close-up of the sleeve hem lets you see the fabric in all its glory!
For the hem of the body I turned up 7 cms and then turned under the raw edge. I prefer a wider hem on the body. The hem is also machine stitched. 

You can't really see the shape of the top so here's a photo:


 And then just when you thought I'd finished...ha ha! I decided that I needed to make a snood (going full immersion in the 80's here) to go with the top. So I used up the fabric left-overs and here is a photo of the whole ensemble. They're quite a sight together, aren't they, but see how happy I am wearing both?


I have thoroughly enjoyed this Vintage Pattern Pledge and although it has been very easy and quick to sew, that's the point about this make. I really needed an easy sew after Project Jacket but I also thoroughly enjoyed the unexpected memories of long-ago 1982 and a much younger me!