Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A plain cream top

It does seem to be plain month for me! I recently made a very plain cream top to replace an older one that had seen better days. I used Vintage Simplicity pattern 1364 that I'd previously used for another top that I can't seem to stop wearing and washing! I only managed to sew the final hook and eye on it after I'd ironed it on sunday afternoon. This pattern is rapidly turning into an old favourite.

This pattern has two front side darts and a zip running almost the full length of the back. There's also a little dart in each arm, at the elbow point. Now, in the grey version I made a few weeks ago, I didn't add any length to the sleeves and they felt fine, but the sleeves on this top feel a little tight. I swim and my forearms have gained in muscle! Looking at the sleeve, I think I need to add an extra 2" to the top half of the sleeve and this would make the darts fit exactly at the elbow and the sleeves wouldn't feel tight. That's my theory anyway and I'll let you know how I get on if  when I make another one!

There is something else I would like to try for the next top, and that's cutting a smaller size on the shoulders as the bias binding edge is quite wide. I usually wear these tops to work and it would be better if they just stayed where I put them. Mind you, it is accentuating my neck/shoulder muscles...

I sewed this top after making my fleece and most of my pins were blunt! This cream is such a densely woven fabric that it was hard to push them through. I have now bought new pins!

The pattern says sew up the entire side seam and as I have a complete and utter aversion to ever tucking my tops into my waistbands, I just did my own thing and made small slits in the side and then top stitched all around the hem and side slits in a one-er. That all turned out well.

All in all, despite some small fit issues with this top, they haven't been so bad that I've decided to sort them out and I think I can live with them.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Round Two

I actually made these grey trousers a few weeks ago using Burda 7250 and bought some really nice grey gabardine, which has a little bit of stretch in it. I was trying to get something like the trousers Katie from What Katie Sews blog has in her Sewing Studio and wanted a pattern I could use more than once too. So I spotted the grey gabardine in John Lewis in Edinburgh. Purchase made!   

I wore them once to work and decided they were a bit too loose- a combination of cutting them too generously and the stretch component in the fabric itself. Time for Plan B- I added belt loops. Anything to avoid unpicking that lovely way was I doing that!

Somehow the photographer has only taken headless photos...but you can see the trousers anyway. Top tucked in at the front so you can see the design better but that's not how I wear them outside the flat.

And here are some close ups of the top stitching I was not unpicking! Photo is misbehaving and being upside down no matter what I do to it. I think it's something to do with how it was taken on my iphone.


This was a good pattern to work with and I especially liked the all in one fly and the insertion of the zip. That worked really well and stays lovely and flat when you're wearing it. I feel other types of fly can feel more more bulky with seam allowances, but that's just a personal thing. I also decided not to have turn-ups and added a good 5" to the length as they are a cropped style and I'm tall.

The belt loop Plan B seems to have worked and has made them more wearable which I tested by wearing them for a day at work. I like these trousers so much I bought some 100% wool fabric to make another pair and I'll half-line those too. It's a bit of a longer process as I washed the fabric to cut down on shrinkage and then impatiently have had to wait for it to dry. I'll maybe not be so generous when cutting them out this time!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Deja vu?

This post could also be subtitled 'Seeing double' because it's about another green knit fabric top I made. Well, actually this post is about Green Top No.2 that I started a number of weeks ago but didn't get around to finishing the sleeve and body hems till Sunday. Anyone else get stuck at the last hurdle when another exciting pattern + fabric purchase come along?!

Anyway, easily distracted! The green top I made last month and was my first attempt at sewing a knit fabric but although I added 2" to the body length I feel it's a bit short on me. I may end up putting it into a charity shop. However, I made Green Top No. 2 with New Look 6216 and the exact same fabric I used for the first green top, bought from John Lewis in Edinburgh.

I love this dolman sleeve style of top. I deliberately cut it in a larger size as I wanted it to be a looser fit which suits this particular fabric too. I seemed to get the zig zag stitching better this time and it actually looks more like a straight-ish stitch which I hope you can see in the photos on the right. 

And boy, am I pleased with how neat that neck is! Although I have to say I feel I could improve on how the finish looks on the inside neck. I decided to do it as the pattern says and see how it worked out but next time I will be treating it more like a bias binding finish and will hand sew the upturned raw edge before top stitching around the neck. I don't mind hand stitching when you know you're going to achieve a much better finish that you're happier with.

I did, of course, add 2" to the length of the body when I cut it out. It may look a pretty plain top but all I wanted was a basic top I could then accessorise with a scarf or necklace and add a cardigan when I need it- which is exactly what I'm doing now, sitting at work writing this post! It's good when a plan works! 

I will make this pattern again and perhaps use a smaller size as this is quite a loose top. I spied some bamboo knit fabric when I was in Edinburgh Fabrics a week or two ago and that's definitely been added to my mental To Sew list. Actually, what really tickles me is the fact we have bamboo flooring in the hall (seen in the above photo!) and I love the idea of making a top from the same material as the flooring is made from. I also found an interesting little article on The Sewing Directory about sewing with eco friendly fabrics and that also ties in with other blogs where sewists are trying to use more natural fibres in their garments so... you never know, I could be blogging about that sometime soon! Has anyone got any tips for sewing with bamboo?  

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

An autumnal sew

I've been busy sewing and not blogging about my makes so here's the start of a flurry of posts. Hopefully! I've also realised that this first garment is probably the most difficult to photograph as, yes, it's black, but never one to run from a challenge, I've done it anyway!

The first autumnal garment is a black fleece. I've never sewn anything in fleece fabric before and this is a very practical make- our flat has storage heaters. Nuff said! A sturdy fleece is essential kit when the nights start to get darker and the leaves turn golden. So, I had a good read of other blogs about sewing with fleece and came to the conclusion I should just get on with it.

Yep, doesn't show much at all! It didn't help that it was a grey day outside so light levels inside were low all day. I would also like to pint out that I have the usual five fingers on each hand, just in case you were peering at the photo and wondering.

The fabric is just normal black fleece bought from Edinburgh Fabrics. The style has a funnel neck, two pockets (you've got to have somewhere to stuff your hands!) and it also has a full length open ended zip in the front.

It's fairly easy to cut out and sew, as long as you remind it you're in charge by keeping a firm grip when sewing more than two layers together. I also used a ballpoint needle. The one thing I noticed was that my pins have gone blunt and I've had to throw quite a few away as they're now useless for other projects. This was something others have mentioned about sewing with fleece.

I found it easier to sew than I'd imagined it would be. It also seemed to steam iron very well too, but always from the wrong side otherwise you'll have flat, shiny iron'shaped areas all over your lovely fleece!

It also takes top-stitching well to. I used a shallow zig zag stitch throughout, even for the top stitching and you can't tell it's zig zag stitch and not straight stitch.

OK, now it's confession time. I could have just not told you, but I couldn't mislead you all. I've made a huge gaff making this garment. Here's the photographic evidence plus lots of white space allowing you time to think-

Not spotted it yet? Ok, I'll tell you. The zip is beautifully sewn in and top-stitched. But it doesn't come to the top of the funnel neck. There, I've said it! I was so careful about getting the zip to line up with the bottom hem as I've added 2" on to the body length as usual, that I just didn't even notice the gap even as I was sewing it!!! I reckon I'm probably never wearing it out of the flat anyway so what does it matter anyway, and I can't be bothered to undo all that stitching! What disasters have you made?

Monday, 8 September 2014

Cough...sniffle...but still managed to sew something

Well, I'm just getting over my annual post-Edinburgh Festival cold and had basically rather a quiet weekend but couldn't resist the urge to sew. This 100% cotton fabric has been on my mind since the first time I saw it and I was just waiting for the ideal pattern to use, nothing too structured or it would spoil the effect of the fabric pattern.

Yes I made the door curtain behind me!
I used a Simplicity Vintage pattern 1364 and did the longer sleeved version of it but beware- measure yourself and choose the size according to your measurements. This is a vintage pattern for vintage sized people and sizes were smaller in the past compared with their modern equivalents. A size 12 now is not the same as a vintage size 12.

By the way, there's 50% off Simplicity patterns for a limited time. I bought my pattern at full price, but I've a feeling I'll be using it again and I really like the sleeveless options too.

I added 2" to the length of the body as I'm fairly tall but although I measured the sleeves I didn't think I needed to add any length to them. I think I made the right call as they are long enough and the body length is perfect too. By the way, there's a lovely detail in the sleeve that I've never come across before in a top pattern. There is a small dart about 6cm long at the inner elbow so the sleeve is slightly shaped. Just be careful you insert the correct arm to its corresponding armhole. I anticipated that 'challenge'!

I didn't use facings on this top. I'm not a fan of facings as they always seem to have a much bigger 'presence' than their size actually is! So I made some bias binding and bound the neck. This was the first time I've made bias binding and it's really easy although I should maybe buy one of those tools that folds it for you as I've steam ironed my fingers. No pain no gain! And I'm pleased with the bound neckline.

There is a zip in the back seam of the top which was fine to insert, it wasn't an invisible zip. I'm working my way up to that in a later project! I'm deliberately not showing you the back neckline as I've still to buy some hooks and eyes for the top of the zip/bias binding so technically the top isn't finished yet but I'm tempted to wear it anyway!

What did you sew up at the weekend?

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Mission Impossible!

Reading the latest post on Did you make that? about a great new book called Learn to sew with Lauren which is aimed at sewing beginners made me realise there is still so much I need to learn. My big Mission Impossible is making rouleaux strips. I just can't for the life of me make them and if my life depended on it, it would be 'Adios, amigos'! I even bought a metal hook-tool that's supposed to help me turn the dratted things inside out but it always ends up with me throwing fabric in the bin in disgust. I usually do a lot of folding of fabric, steam ironing (and scalding!) and sewing. then of course more steam ironing as I cannot sew anything without steam ironing it afterwards. Maybe a few bad words are uttered too. What's your Mission Impossible and how do you get round it?

Monday, 1 September 2014

Summer trousers just in time for autumn!

I made this pair of trousers so quickly a couple of weeks ago that I almost forgot to blog about them. They're made from the same pattern that I used for Bright Skirt No.1 and Bright Skirt No.2, Simplicity 1559 so I thought I'd just carry on with a pair of really simple trousers. They're made from a lovely 100% cotton twill that I bought from John Lewis. Having said all that about the fabric, I'd love it even more if there was a little bit of stretch in it. I think when I really wear them for a day at work the knees might start to bag a bit without a bit of Lycra or spandex to keep them under control. But, I loved the colour, a lovely, bright raspberry pinky-wine colour, just like in the photo below.

Count them...four darts!
Another thing I love about this pattern is that the back of the trousers has four darts in it. Just call me picky but it's a detail I like. I did change the pattern a bit as I'm not really keen on zips in the back of trousers, as the pattern had. Far too much contorting about to get the zip up, and if you get something stuck in it you can't see what's happening! I moved it to the side instead.

And here's a photo of me wearing the new trousers, trying the old 'take a photo of myself in the mirror' trick. Except it's too dark to really see any detail at all! Oh dear, but you're not really missing much at all as they are very, very plain trousers. And of course, just as I finished hand sewing the hems, the weather took a turn cooler and I haven't actually worn them out of the flat yet.

Anyway, I took the hint from the weather and decided to start making items more suitable for autumn. Yesterday I finished a pair of grey (yes, grey!) trousers Burda 7250 so I'll blog about them soon.