Thursday, 28 January 2016

Vintage Pledge 2016

I've pledged again! I thoroughly enjoyed last year's pledge of sewing 3 vintage patterns so I've made the same pledge this year. Well, slightly different as I actually said '...at least 3 patterns...' so there's a bit of leeway!


I really like browsing through the sewing patterns in Etsy and Ebay and love coming across patterns that I remember my mum having in her sewing collection in the 1970s. Last year's surprise for me was finding sewing patterns I had bought and made in the 1980s. And I still liked them enough to buy them and sew them up again - here's one pattern I made twice here and here. I still can't quite face 1990s patterns and styles though!

Have you signed up for this year's Vintage Pledge?

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

I cloned my favourite top!

I've been meaning to do something about cloning my favourite black jersey RTW top for ages, especially as it's very definitely middle-aged now. I'd read other blogs about how to trace off a garment so you can make a pattern and duplicate a much loved item...so I thought I'd have a go and I'm really, REALLY pleased with the results!


What do I like about the favourite top? The curved front and back hems, the batwing shoulder and dropped shoulder seam and the sleeve. I love how it's quite fitted. Oh and I also like the neckline...not too high, not too low. So that's my list of essential criteria! Bring out the tracing paper...


I even ironed a sheet of (I think) Burda pattern paper to get rid of the creases before I started. Then I took a lot of time and care to smooth out the 'front' of the RTW top so I could add my 5/8" seam allowance around the edges. I just used a felt-tipped pen to draw carefully and also used a tape measure to make sure I was adding a consistent seam allowance.


The neckline was a little bit more difficult but just feel the neck binding edge and mark it on the paper. Fold the front piece in half and mark the centre front hem (always useful to know) and the centre front neckline edge. Draw a curved line from the centre neck to the shoulder seam and that's it. Repeat the tracing process for the back piece and sleeve piece and you've got a pattern.

The fabric was a remnant I pulled from a good rake about the knitted fabric remnant box at Mandors in Glasgow on our September weekend. It was £7 for the 2 metre piece, which did admittedly have three large holes cut out of it so presumably it had been an ex-display piece. Anyway, it's a viscose and probably has some lycra in it too. One thing about this style, the shoulder seam is very vulnerable to stretching out so I stabilised it with some seam tape and that's worked a treat. I overlocked the seam first and then used my sewing machine to sew the seam tape on. That's worked out well!


The neck band was much more difficult to try and work out, with the added pressure that a wonky neck band would spoil the whole garment. I haven't made a separate pattern piece for it. Again, more Heath-Robinson measuring! I took my measuring tape and measured around the neck edge. This was 26". I then thought about how stretchy and fine my practice fabric is and decided to make a 23" circumference neck band. I had enough fabric to cut another one if I needed to.


What would I change next time? I'd add a few centimetres to the length of the sleeves. That's the only change I'd make! The neck band will be the most 'challenging' thing about making other tops as it's going to vary depending on the fabric - no two stretch fabrics are the same. I've got some lovely cream bamboo fabric waiting to be cut out for version two so stay tuned for that.

Have you tried copying a favourite garment...without unpicking it? Let me know how you got on, I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Random squares blouse

This is another garment I sewed when I was on holiday and finished about a week ago. There is no decent daylight to photograph it so I've tried to light it as best I can but...you know, indoor photos! Anyway, we have about 7 hours of 'daylight' here in Edinburgh but what we see is cloud all the time and rain. Lots of rain! 

So back to the shirt I made using my beloved McCalls pattern 6436

I bought the fabric from John Lewis just before Christmas and just before it went half price in the post Christmas sales. I think I paid £12 a metre for it and I bought my usual 2 metres. But I don't care that it almost immediately went in the sale because...look at all the random squarely-ness!


And the best bit of all was finding square black buttons in my button tin. I didn't have enough to do the cuffs as well but I found two slightly smaller square buttons that are absolutely fine. I didn't do any buttonhole or button on the collar stand because I never do these up. Here's a closeup of the cuff with square buttons. 


It also shows how the two piece sleeve construction is used to avoid the need for sewing a pesky tiresome placket. Don't like doing those fiddly things and this is a much better solution! 


There are two darts in the back which provide some lovely shaping to the blouse. You might be able to see the square buttons better in this photo:


This fabric is a polyester and quite fine and drapery. I really didn't know how it would work out with this shirt but it's good. I used a fine fusible interfacing for the cuffs, front bands and added interfacing to both collar pieces and collar stand pieces so they wouldn't droop. That worked out well. 

Cutting out the pattern and just working with such a fine fabric was a bit of a challenge but it's worked out well and I'm pleased with it. There are more finished garments to be blogged! Signing off from a rainy, dark, cold, dismal Edinburgh...

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

A new jersey top for the New Year!

I bought this John Kaldor fabric in the John Lewis sale recently but I've also seen it online elsewhere. It's a man made fibre, probably polyester, but it's a good weight and has a good amount of stretch. I think I paid £8 a metre and bought 2 metres. I hadn't decided which pattern I was going to use but I just liked the colours and design. That's enough of a reason for me to buy fabric!


You can see I'm wearing my Named Jamie jeans that I FINALLY got around to hemming the day before yesterday. Anyway, back to this top. I was browsing through my patterns and found this one, Simplicity 1463 that I made once before here. About time I made a second time, then! I always take a note of the alterations I make to a pattern and note the size(s) I cut out too so I can recreate/not make the same mistake twice!


This time I added another inch to the length so that's 3" I've added to this pattern. That seems about right as it's drafted for someone 5'6" tall and I'm 5'9". I also made the sleeves longer by cutting the length for the largest size. These tweaks have improved the wearability of this top and I'll keep them for a future version. I'm really happy with this top and I've already worn it once. It's sitting in the washing machine waiting to be washed, so that's a good sign!


I don't make New Year resolutions. Why make changes only at the start of the year when you can make them anytime? It's a good time for reflecting on the past year though, and what you'd like to do in the coming year. I have got a few vague things I want to work on with my sewing. I want to sew something in silk, improve my fitting generally and...I'm going to make a swimsuit in the near future. That'll be a challenge! My trusty Speedo is getting a bit baggy after a year's service so that's a sure sign the lycra has been eaten away by the chlorine and it's on borrowed time. I need a replacement but it takes me ages to find a new swimsuit. I try on about 25 before finding one that has the body length I need. So there's no choice, if it fits, I buy it.

I've already bought the (unfortunately boring black) fabric and powermesh (for the shelf bra) from Edinburgh Fabrics but I didn't buy enough elastic, or the correct width either so until I get back there, the project's on hold. If this swimsuit is wearable and I'm happy to be seen in public wearing it, I'm going to buy some lovely bright, patterned fabric so my instructor is dazzled by the pattern and can't see my swimming mistakes! *deluded*

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Coral and cobalt blue blouse


This is just soooo 2015, darling! A blast from the past...but good to give it the blog post it truly deserves! This is actually a blouse I sewed up quite a few weeks ago, maybe at the end of November, and I've washed and worn it quite a few times. The sign of a successful sew!

This pattern, McCalls 6436, is now officially my favourite shirt pattern because I love the two piece sleeve which means I don't have to sew any tedious cuff plackets. Win! I also like the fact it has separate button plackets you have to sew on. I also made this blouse once before and love that version too.


I bought the fabric from MisanTextiles (not to be confused by Misan Fabrics which is also on the same street) in Berwick Street in London when we went on a wee holiday in early November. It's a lovely weight of viscose and was a remnant or in their sale in their lovely basement which is chock full of bargains. Just have a rummage! There was about 1.8 metres or 2 metres, I can't remember. Enough to make me a shirt using this pattern so I nabbed the whole length for £10. Result!


The buttons were from my tartan stash tin and all other notions from my stash. I enjoy rummaging through my button tin to see if there are any buttons that'll be perfect fro whatever I'm working on at that time. It's surprising how often I find something though!

I cut this version shorter in the body as it's exceedingly long if you cut it straight from the pattern. Too long even on me! I think I shortened the body by 6cm but it's so long since I made it I can't remember.

Happy New Year to you all and keep watching. There will be more posts coming. Back to work on Tuesday but plenty more sewing to show you. Until then...


Saturday, 2 January 2016

Grey sort of stripey trousers


Well, I guess the title sort of says it all really! I've been spending some quality time with my sewing machine and overlocker recently and I'm loving it. Time to start blogging what I've made.


I bought the fabric for these trousers in the summer sale in John Lewis. It's a 100% wool and it lovely to work with, plus it was only £8 a metre (I bought 2 metres). I decided to add a half lining to make them less scratchy for all-day wearing. I found the 100% cupro lining somewhere in my stash. I've had to tidy up my sewing space (the dining table in the living room) as...well...we needed the dining table!


I sewed up as much as I could using the overlocker. Otherwise I used the sewing machine and then the overlocker to finish the seam edges. I made the inner yoke from the lining fabric to avoid scratchiness. I don't think I've used a heavy enough interfacing though, it doesn't look or feel sturdy enough but I'm fine with that. I added 1" in height to the rise but I think I could have got away without this change. I added 3" to the leg length and ended up cutting off 1" when hemming but that's the way I like to work. I'd rather add too much that later need to cut off. I hate trousers that are too short, even by a tiny amount!


The pattern is New Look 6035 that I got free with Sew magazine earlier this year. The line drawings are good and it looks like there are some really good basics to be made from it. This was the first time using this pattern and I just wanted to see how it would sew up. I like it and will be using it again!


It looks a simple trouser pattern but the devil's in the fitting. There's a side zip and a yoke. The zip is inserted up through this yoke. The seams of the yoke need to match too. A bit of a brain teaser to get the fit and all the seams matching but it's worked out fine.I finished the hems with black satin bias binding from my stash and hand stitched them.

I'm learning that the more time spent measuring the pattern pieces and adjusting before cutting out, and trying on to adjust the fit before final seam-sewing, are steps to take your time over. Time spent doing these steps really pays off. I'm getting better at slowing down!