Thursday, 30 October 2014

Essential kit

For me, essential kit in our flat is a cosy fleece to lounge about in. This really isn't a hugely interesting garment (or post!) but it is one of those essential makes that are sooooo practical and essential. Yes I made another fleece but this one is navy. The other one I made was black and it's been washed and worn so many times already that I had to tackle another one.

 For some inexplicable reason, despite cursing, this photo will just not sit the correct way. Oh well, you get the idea and it could be my cunning way of making this post more interesting.

I bought some normal fleece, an open ended heavyweight zip and that was that. I used the same pattern as I did for the black fleece, added 2" to the body length but nothing extra to the sleeves. It is at this point that I have to confess something. Again. With the black fleece I had a gap between the top of the zip and the top of the collar. Well, dear reader, I inadvertently did the opposite with this fleece and have a beautifully inserted zip at the top of the collar and a gap at the bottom of the zip!?! How! But at least I can easily sort this out and take up a new hem. I'm sure I bought the correct length of zip allowing for an additional 2" which I knew I'd add on.

There you go, though, I'm probably destined never to become a professional fleece-maker! The world's loss...

On to the next project which I cut out last weekend and started sewing...lined wool trousers. I'll be blogging about the sometime in the future, hopefully not listing a load of mistakes illustrated by dodgy photos!

I also want to buy some more of that lovely bamboo fabric for some more tops so they'll be appearing soon too.

Friday, 24 October 2014's not just for pandas

I mentioned a little while ago in a previous post that's I'd got a hankering for sewing something using bamboo jersey fabric I'd spied recently. Well, of course, that was that and I ended up buying some as I couldn't get it out of my head (there's a song in there somewhere!?).

So, I bought some cream bamboo jersey, which actually contains 96% bamboo, 3% spandex and 1% lycra (but I could have got the last two mixed up so don't quote me on). I already had a pattern selected -

I decided to make view A, a three-quarter length sleeved top. The sleeves look much longer on the illustration on the pattern cover and I have long arms so they were three-quarter length on me. I added 2" to the length of the body and didn't add anything to the sleeve length. Next time I'll add my customary 2" or as much as I can. The fabric was 150cm wide and only 3 pattern pieces were needed. Both the front and back were cut on the fold so there was enough room to have added more length to the sleeves.

The eagle-eyed among you might have recognised the short-sleeved version, view C, which has already made an appearance in a previous post as Green top No.2.

Anyway, I'd say this pattern was easy to follow and very quick to sew up. I started cutting out at 1pm and had finished a very leisurely afternoon's sewing at about 6pm with the completed garment (this included time for tea breaks, cake-eating and chatting).

The bamboo was great to work with, an absolute dream and I'm already thinking of how I can use it again and other colours I can make this pattern up in. I challenged myself to buy and use a ballpoint twin needle, which I bought from the old faithful, John Lewis click and collect service. I'd looked before and couldn't see it in the shop but it was available online. I threaded up my machine after googling how to do this, set the stitch to ordinary straight stitch and on setting 4 (widest stitch length on my machine). Then I gently applied pressure to the foot control, expecting to hear gnarling thread and a complaining machine any second but apart from a few seconds spent adjusting the tension with a scrap of fabric, it worked perfectly and gave a lovely professional result to the sleeve and lower edge hems-

I did have a false start by sewing on the reverse of the hem, top tip here- you have to sew from the right side of the fabric. I also used the twin needle to top stitch around the neckline.

So, what does the finished top look like? Here are some dodgy photos for you.

The top has slight dolman sleeves, which I love but they're still practical enough to be able to put a jumper on without bunching up.

Remember the 2" I added to the length of the body? I ended up cutting 1.5" off the body length when I hemmed it so I won't even bother making any adjustments to the pattern next time I use it. That'll be a first for me!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Checked (rather than tartan) skirt

I just loved this checked fabric when I saw it in Edinburgh Fabrics a few weeks ago so that was that, sold to the woman feverishly clutching a bolt of it! 

This photo doesn't quite do it justice but my excuse is that I photographed it yesterday evening when it had got dark. The background is a light grey, with black cerise pink and also a purple stripe you can't really see. There's also tan/brown colour underneath the black checks. Tasteful eh? Just the kind of thing I love!

Now, I knew I wanted to sew a pencil skirt with it, line it and fill a gap in my wardrobe for a winter wool skirt. The question is, how to make it more Vivienne Westwood and less Auntie Beanie or the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie...and it had to keep me interested when sewing what is a basic, simple pencil skirt pattern and one I've made before and blogged about before too. 
Here's the pattern. So, spurred on y all you bloggers out there, I decided to give the skirt some purple lining that matched the purple stripe in the check.

Then I went a bit off piste with the rest of it and found some black pvc bias binding. I never knew such things existed! So I decided to add some around the waist instead of a waistband. 

Just to keep things interesting and to challenge myself I decided to try an exposed zip. So after googling tutorials I found lots and genned up ion the topic. 

And if that wasn't enough I decided to improve on the finish of the inside of the skirt too by hiding the facing in the skirt construction. No that's not easy to explain so here's a photo-
I then used the lovely bias binding to bind the waist edge of the skirt. I made a bit of a dogs dinner of sewing it but I figure I never wear things tucked in anyway so nobody's going to see it! I used a leather/pvc sewing machine needle when sewing the bas binding. It took a bit of persuading to get through all those layers of fabric and lining in some areas and to be honest I had to go back and hand sew areas I'd missed catching with the sewing machine. As I said, bit of a dogs dinner!

I made a much better job of sewing the bias binding around the hem. I completed the hem as I'd normally do, by hand sewing it. Then I machined one edge of the bias binding and then hand sewed the bias binding on the inside. That worked much better than the waist, probably because there were less layers of fabric to get through but my fingers were glad to finish hand sewing the bias binding! Here's a rear view photo showing it in all of its neatness (unless you had a close-up shot of the waist obviously. 

And here's a photo of me wearing the skirt. I absolutely love it even though it's far from perfect but I know I'll get lots of wear out of it. It's been an epic but it's been worth it! 

What have you been sewing for the cooler weather?  

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Paisley, paisley, paisley...and the deepest trench in the world!

Have I told you I love paisley pattern? I think I probably did a while ago when I showed you about this fabric that I'd bought. It's taken a while to finish the top and I also have mixed feelings about it. I have worn it once though so nothing bad happened to it!

Anyway, I used Burda 6984 and made the long sleeved version, adding 2" onto the body length and the sleeve length as per usual. All well and good. I have this thought though, that I really liked this pattern and it would suit me well. But, as you get older, things that suited you in your twenties and thirties, somehow just don't look as good on you now. Do you know what I mean? Well, dear readers, this is one of those patterns. (You can now tell you're in for a bumpy ride with this post!). There's absolutely nothing wrong with the pattern, it's me, or rather, how I look in it.

In terms of fit, the armhole circumference is a little neat and the upper arms are quite fitted on me, that's due to my swimming so that's expected and it's not unwearable or even mildly irritating, thankfully!

If I was making this top again, I'd add a zip to the back opening, where there is a button and loop on the photo below. Perhaps I'd even be adventurous and do my first ever invisible zip! Whoa, there, Nelly!

I also found that the bias binding bands around the wrists were too roomy and so the sleeve 'fell' over my hand. Cue a couple of snap studs to fold the band over on itself and problem sorted. The sleeves hand so much better with the snaps but maybe next time I'd add use the bias binding bands as casings for elastic.

The fabric itself is a 100% fine cotton, probably some type of cotton lawn but it didn't say so on the label. It feels lovely and almost silky and handles well. It drapes well, due to it being so lightweight.

Then we come to the thing that I really don't like! The gathered section at the front neck looks like it's gathered, but in fact it's pleated. And the pleats lead to an inverted pleat in the middle and this just forms a deep trench down your front. Deeply, deeply unflattering! If I ever make this blouse again, I will gather this front section instead of pleating it and see if that's a better alternative to 'deep trench'!

I think that would work. 

This all explains why you haven't got a photo of me wearing it! The colour of the lovely fabric is nearest the red in the photo on the left It really is the most beautiful paisley-est fabric ever and I love it. So that's why I'm keeping it. I've already worn and washed it. I'm using this top for layering in the winter as I do wear a lot of scarves to help keep warm. Yep, you've cottoned on, haven't you? I wear the scarf and it hides the deep trench. Yay! So, all in all, definitely not a runaway success but not a failure either. It's staying in my wardrobe.

There is something that I've noticed that I do, and I was wondering if anyone else does it too. When I finish sewing a garment, I can have a tendency to put it away and then not seem to get round to wearing it, which must surely be part of the reason for making the garment in the first place. It's part of my motivation anyway, so why do I do it? I seem to have a natural reluctance to wear something newly finished but I've started forcing myself to wear it and this seems to help get over that hurdle. The risk with this blouse was in not sorting out the problems, as listed above, and that I'd leave the top sitting about in a 'to do' pile and never finish it. I'm actually pleased with myself for persevering with the problems and wearing the finished top. It's been a bit of a mixed sew, this one! Anyone else had the same experience, or going through the same thing?