Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Another floral TNT

Yes, it's another floral fabric version of my all time favourite Tried and Tested pattern, Simplicity1364 Cant tell you how much I love this pattern but you're probably getting a good idea! I bought this fabric from John Lewis in Oxford Street when we went to London for a short break in mid-November. It's quite unusual for me to choose such a bland background colour but the flowers are suitably in your face for me to feel comfortable with it!

Here's a close-up of the fabric just ink car you didn't see it properly in the first photo. The fabric is probably a polyester and definitely 100% man made fibre, whatever it is. 

There are some details in this pattern that I love. One of them is the dart at each elbow, something you might be able to see in the photo above. It's the blouse equivalent of a tailored jacket's two piece sleeve, the top sleeve just hangs beautifully and bends well at the elbow. Just a small detail but lovely. 

This was a top I sewed up quite quickly. I thought I'd caught up with my blogging but there are a couple of other things I need to blog about, so I'll do those in the next few days. I'm currently on holiday so there's a lot of sewing being done!  

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

#sewingtop5 The hits and misses of 2015

Well folks, this'll be interesting! 2015 saw my first full year of sewing blogging so let's see what we have for 5 of the best...and 5 of the worst!

My number 1 favourite, favourite of all time would be this floral top which honestly gets washed and worn as soon as it's dry. Sometimes it was even ironed before wearing but not always...

Number 2 would have to be a Vintage pattern Pledge top using a pattern I'd used before in the 1980's. And I made a matching snood! Now that's what I call fun times, people.

Number 3...has to be my favourite going-out top. It's a simple two piece pattern but I took HOURS deciding on just the right pattern placement. It was a remnant I bought for about £4 so the challenge was really on to make something great with it!

Love Number 4! It may be 100% polyester, but this shirt is such a loud and very 'Me' print that I can forgive it. It's a definite hit. And I surprised myself by liking this new pattern.

Hit number 5 is this lovely floral shirt using another new pattern which has now become my go-to shirt pattern. The pattern has a two piece sleeve and this eliminates the need for fiddly placket sewing. Hurray! I love the fabric too with its hits of electric blue and acid green. 

And now, onto the Top 5 fails...the section of shame! Here we go, and in no particular order. Thankfully not too much stuff in this section but's the first one. This was a green top I made using viscose jersey before I learnt (the hard way) that it's essential to pre-wash fabrics. It shrunk a bit bit and became too short for my liking. It was sent to a charity shop. It was also the first jersey fabric I'd sewn so there's always a learning curve.

Number 2 has to be this striped jersey top. Well, it was at the start of my jersey sewing career and the fabric itself was a thicker cotton with lycra. But it was just too thick and then I had second thoughts about the red and black stripes...Dennis the Menace anyone? I didn't even finish sewing it. It had to go. In the bin. And I didn't even blog about it. So here's its debut...and swansong!

And on to Horror Number 3. I think I have worn this Paisley blouse once underneath a cardigan and scarf. Since then it's been hanging in my wardrobe and will be butchered sometime in the future as the fabric is a lovely fine cotton. And I LOVE Paisley pattern.

Onto Number 4 in the Walk of Shame. This is the first cream top* I made and the fabric choice wasn't good. The sleeves were also too tight around the forearms and it was too tight across the back. If there had been any stretch in the fabric I might have got away with it but it just wasn't comfortable to wear all day at work. I think it went in the bin. *Not to be confused with my second cream top which is a success.

And last but not least in the galaxy of infamy, a pair of denim-look Ultimate trousers. I just don't like the fabric. It just doesn't have any sympathetic stretch, any stretch it does have is in the wrong places. What more can I say! They've been put away with the rest of the summer clothes but I don't know how long they'll survive come spring-time! 

So, that was the year that was. I have made a lot of tops! But I'm a separates person and don't really go in for dresses. There are also lots of other things I've made that I love wearing - all those pyjamas, jackets, yet more tops for instance - that haven't made it onto the hit list of favourites that could have gone on to the hits. And there are a few other things that could be added to the misses too but that's the way of life, isn't it?

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Pyjamas pyjamas

Well the big day is getting ever closer and I think I'm sorted for Christmas and the holiday season. Even more so now I've made *drum roll* new pyjamas! Well, two pairs of them although they were made weeks apart. They were both made using Kwik Sew 2811 which has become my go-to-pattern for PJs. The first pair I made in October and I'm only just getting round to blogging them now. I have worn and washed them though. I bought the fabric, 100% brushed cotton, from John Lewis but can't remember how much it was a metre. Confession time. I just cut the pattern and literally threw these pyjamas through the sewing machine and overlocker. Apart from the fronts, absolutely no time was wasted agonising over pattern matching. And I didn't do any piping which saved a lot of time too.

I didn't bother with the sleeve cuffs and just added extra length at the cutting stage. I had 4 suitable buttons in my tartan button box, so that's what I used. Admittedly, it could probably do with 5 buttons but these 4 will do. The major thing I did wrong was sew the buttonholes on the wrong side! Ah well! As I said, it took me a surprisingly short amount of time to make these...

For all their flaws, I really like these. It was also a lesson in how much more time it takes to add the extra bits to PJs and I really did need this pair to be sewn up ASAP. So that's what I got!

The next pair also happened quite quickly too. Same pattern but I bought the 100% brushed cotton fabric in  the summer form Minerva fabrics. I cut them out on a Friday evening after work and sewed the major part of them up over the weekend. I took more care over these because I didn't need them in such a hurry. I added sleeve cuffs, flat piping and pattern matching. It was the first time I've tried flat piping and I think I've made it a bit wide. Anyway, have a look and see what you think.

Again, I found five (!) suitable buttons from the tartan button tin so used them. I even managed to sew the buttonholes on the correct side. I didn't add leg cuffs just because I couldn't be bothered. Construction-wise I overlocked as much as I could, using the sewing machine for more accurate sewing of the collar, pocket and anything with the flat piping.

So, that's my PJ wardrobe replenished for winter but you'll be seeing more versions in springtime. I love this pattern! I have altered the collar though. The pattern has a grown-on facing on the front pattern pieces but I cut this off along the fold line and added seam allowances. By doing this I can add piping all around the collar and down the seam where the facing joins the front piece. I've also rounded the facing edge to make piping easier. The blue/black checked pyjamas above are true to the original pattern. 

Monday, 14 December 2015

I made jeans!

Yes folks, this is why there's been so much 'radio-silence' on the blog. I've been busy and taking my time with these jeans and they've turned out lovely. I'm very pleased with them, can you tell?

The pattern
As a taller than average person, I decided to used Named Jamie jeans pattern and bought the PDF a while ago. After a wee while spent cutting and taping the pieces together the pattern was ready for any alternations I'd need to make. So I then spent ages measuring myself and also a pair of RTW jeans that were ok but had fit issues (the rise was too short). I altered the paper pattern by adding 1" to the rise and 2" to the leg length. At 5'9" I'm only 1" taller than the woman Named patterns designs for, but hey ho, we're all different and that's why we measure twice, cut once!

I also added 2" in width from the knee to the hem of the back leg pattern piece as I didn't want skinny lower legs. I also added 1" in width from the knee to the hems of the front leg pattern pieces. Ultimately it was a guessing game where to add the extra width but it's worked out very well.

The fabric and notions
This was a stretch denim from Edinburgh Fabrics and seems to be a new bolt of it as they were sold out for a while. I don't remember how much lycra it has in it, it's so long since I bought it. I did pre-wash the length of denim before cutting out. I also bought the rivets there and the metal jeans zip as they sell YKK zips which are the best zips, in my opinion. The pattern says buy a 4" zip but I suspected I'd have to add height to the rise so I bought a 6" zip and that was perfect. The jeans button I bought from John Lewis but they didn't have the copper coloured rivets to go with it. It has taken a long time to collect all the stuff!

My sewing machine seriously doesn't like topstitching thread. At all. No matter what you do with the tension etc. I read on another blog that if you run two spools of normal polyester thread through the needle and run one thread through the bobbin, the effect is just like using topstitching thread. And it works! You have to do a bit experimenting with tension on a scrap of denim and a top tip from me, take hold of the two needle thread ends and pull them tight just after you lower the presser foots and then start sewing. That will help stop a small loop forming on one of the topstiched threads. It was fairly straightforward sewing the front and back pockets, the back yoke and then topstitching as needed, it was on to assembling everything and fitting.

Ah, the most time consuming bit of the whole project! And definitely the bit to take your time over and to get it right. I sewed the crotch seam and tried them on. As they were good enough, I sewed the zip and fly, which went in easily enough. I think the fly topstitching was ripped out once though!

I pinned and machine basted the inner and outer leg seams and the crotch seam together using the longest stitch on my machine. Then tried them on. And repeated the process until happy! Then overlocked all these seams. I took 11cm in at the back waist and 4cm from each waist side seam, tapering to nothing at the hips. The inner and outer legs I sewed with a 5/8" seam allowance. I have jeans that don't gape at the centre back. Hurray! I think this is due to the curved waistband too, which I reduced by 1" at the centre back.

I didn't add belt loops as I only wear a belt if the waist is too big. And it shouldn't be on these custom made jeans, should it? Ha ha!

Get the hammer out! I interfaced each end of the waistband using a medim weight cotton fusible interfacing, not the whole length of the waistband. Only time will tell if this was a good decision or not!The jeans button went in well and I eyeballed the centre of the waistband. The buttonhole was done after some trial and error using a scrap of denim and varying the stitch length.

The rivets could be a bit tricky if you aren't brave! I used the spike on my seam ripper to put a hole through the edge of my pockets but the rivet back still wouldn't poke though. So I used the seam ripper to 'encourage' a small hole that the rivet back went through. Put the top on, hammer it in and both rivets have one wash already.

I haven't tackled the hems yet so technically these jeans aren't finished yet. I've washed them just in case there's any shrinkage and I'll use my double topstitching to sew the hem.

Now onto an easier job, checked/tartan brushed cotton pyjamas with flat piping...I'll be back!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Green wool jacket

Well, I finally finished this ongoing project. I've made another wool jacket - I'm getting seriously addicted to working with wool and also with having jackets that fit me and, wait for it...aren't black! So, here's the latest (I'm sure there will be more!).

After editing
It's a green 100% wool twill (I think) fabric that I bought in the second raid on Mandors when we went to Glasgow in September. It's a lovely forest green colour (which doesn't photograph well at all) and a reasonable £20 a metre, which isn't bad at all for a 100% wool content. I used Vogue 9136 which is described as a "loose fitting, unlined coat, has collar, dropped shoulders  but made a few modifications along the way.

After editing and cropping
I pre-shrunk my wool fabric by steaming it with my iron. It took HOURS! I also made a muslin to check the fit. This pattern is described as loose fitting and it certainly is. I cut a 12-14 size and it's really roomy on me. I didn't add anything to the length of sleeves or body but I did mistakenly cut the longer View B rather than View A but strangely enough I didn't run out of fabric. Mind you, I'm pretty generous when I'm buying wool, I add a good 10% extra to the fabric requirements to cover the pre-shrinking treatment plus I add an unspecified extra amount because I'd hate to have something too short. Call it my 'Comfort Zone of Happiness'. This probably comes from being a tall person and from having to buy RTW clothing that just wasn't right but there wasn't anything else.

After editing and cropping
 There's nothing wrong with your eyes and you're not seeing double! The November challenge in Gillian from Crafting a 
Rainbow's Better Pictures Project is using photo editing software. I've used it but I'm not sure if there's much of an improvement with these photos! I've added the before and after photos. I think I've managed to make them look worse than they were before! I saved my photos to Picasa Web and edited them using Google.

I mentioned modifications. There were ton of them, mainly in the construction of the jacket.

I cut View A but added the patch pockets from View B as I don't like side seam pockets.

After making and trying on the muslin, the collar was far too high. It would very quickly have got spoiled with make-up every time I wore it. I reduced the height by, I think, about 3"so that tells you how high the original was!

I used iron on medium weight hair canvas to interface the collar so it can stand up correctly yet also bends attractively (in my opinion!) if it's worn undone.

After editing and cropping
I used a medium weight iron-on interfacing over all the jacket. Just because that's the way I like it. It gives the fabric a bit of body and I can't stand droopy, saggy jackets.

I applied medium weight iron-on interfacing to the pockets and lined them, after a lot of head scratching and trying to work out how to do it neatly.

I cut a back stay from pre-washed black sheeting, I think. To be honest it's quite a few weeks since I did this step so it's a bit fuzzy in the mind now. I felt that with the dropped shoulders the wool would get really stretched over my shoulders if it didn't have this support. It also helped stabilise the shoulder seam too.

I added a full lining to the jacket, just cutting the same back piece as for the outer fabric and adding an inch to the width when I cut it on the fold. I made a new pattern piece for the front lining and just used the pattern piece for the sleeves. The lining is a 100% cupro lining bought from John Lewis in Edinburgh and pre-washed on the silk setting on the washing machine using appropriate soap. The care label says don't wash but...tough!

After editing
I added piping between the facing fabric and the lining. As you can see due to the style of the jacket it's not a continuous length of piping but I don't care.

I added a hanging loop I made from the satin bias binding used to pipe the lining-facing junction.

I sewed reinforcing buttons to the underside of the facing to help support the large buttons on the outside of the jacket.

I hand stitched them hem and the sleeve hems. I hand stitched in the ditch along the seam where the collar meets the jacket, so the inside and outside behave as one. If you know what I mean.

Ah, the glorious buttons! This jacket is simply all about the buttons. I bought them from Mandors in Glasgow just on my way out of the door. I hesitated at the button stand and my eyes suddenly locked on to them. Does that ever happen to you? I knew they were The Ones so that was that.

So, what's the verdict? I'm not sure if dropped shoulders are my style but I do like this jacket. I love the colour, love the buttons and I like how I can wear the collar done up and also undone and it looks very different both ways. It's like having two looks in one jacket which is very satisfying. I'm glad I interfaced and lined the jacket and really glad I interfaced and lined the pockets. It's behaving just as I want it to although I do need to add another button and buttonhole to hold up the inside when the coat is closed. You can see the droop in some of these photos.

After editing
...and on to the next project...some Named Jamie jeans (also with quite a few modification) which I'm slowly working on. I'm taking my time with these and trying to get just the right fit. What are you working on at the moment?

Monday, 23 November 2015

Painterly top

I just can't stop making these tops but they're soooo useful. New Look 6216 is definitely a tried and tested favourite pattern for me! Funny how they all turn out very different from each other and it all depends on the fabric choice. They're all jersey fabrics but all very different. I've already worn this one a couple of times so catching it between washes and when there was enough light to take photos was a tricky thing. So here it is!

I bought the fabric during the second raid on Mandors in Glasgow. I can't remember what the fibre content is but I think likely to be a viscose as I try to avoid polyester unless it's just too lovely to leave in the shop. Funny how many fabrics are like that though, eh?

This jersey doesn't have much stretch and I really notice it on the sleeves. My swimmers forearms are taking up every millimetre of fabric. It's a cosy fit but not uncomfortably so.

I used my lovely favourite pattern and cut the sleeves as long as the width of the fabric allowed. I also finished the sleeve hem with a band just to try and lengthen them a bit. I'm happy with how they've turned out.

You can see in the photo why I've called it a painterly top as the print is lovely and bold and free. I love the colours of the print too.

I swear that if a pattern has the words 'dolman sleeved' or 'batwing sleeved' I'll buy it! It's like catnip to me! Why change if you're happy though?

I used the overlocker for everything. I've been noticing recently I've had to repair some popped stitches on my older pre-overlocker jersey tops so it'll be interesting to see how long this one lasts. My guess is much longer despite the tighter fabric on the sleeves.!

I finished the body hem with a twin needle, probably my favourite way to finish a jersey top. I didn't use the twin needle to topstitch the neck band, I thought it would look better without it.

I've finally found a better backdrop for indoors photography although yesterday was a lovely sunny day so we'll see what the light levels are on a grey day. I have a bit of a blogging queue at the moment and still have a couple of projects to tell you about. Do you find that with less daylight you build up a blogging queue too?

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Toasty warm gloves and mittens

Well how are you all getting on in the autumnal weather and dark evenings? I find I don't sew much when I get home from work, it's just too dark to see the thread against the fabric. Maybe that's because I was working on a dark green wool jacket, yet to be blogged. I'll need some better weather and light before getting half decent photos of it but I only finished it on Sunday.

After my first knitted 'thing' in years, I've been busy knitting more! I bought a knitting pattern from Etsy for gloves, mittens and fingerless gloves with the convertible flip top. It's for double knitting wool so I went to John Lewis and bought some Rowan Tweed double knitting wool and some knitting needles and this is the result! 

Some tweedy gloves! It's a lovely wool to knit with even if I found knitting the fingers a bit fiddly to do. Here's more of a close-up of one glove so you can see the tweedy colours. The colour is black with pale grey or white and caramel flecks going through it. 

Then I decided to knit some mittens, something I haven't worn since I was a child but I did hear somewhere that mittens are warmer than gloves. Wanted to test that theory out! Anyone with a bit of common sense would say I should have started with the easier mittens project and then gone on to the slightly more fiddly project of gloves but...hey ho, what's logic got to do with it!

Again, I used Rowan Tweed double knitting wool. This is a 100% wool yarn and it's lovely to knit with. The mittens are a dark maroon colour with flecks of red and green in them. So what's the verdict on the warmth factor? The mittens may actually be warmer than gloves but knitted anything is just not wind proof so not as warm as fleece or Thinsulate gloves but they're fine at the moment. I still think I'll be wearing the usual winter requirement of two pairs of gloves to feel toasty!

This is not a knitting blog and I'll get back to my sewing soon. I've actually downloaded Named's Jamie jeans pattern and I'm just making the necessary adjustments to the pattern pieces before cutting out some pre-washed stretch denim I bought from Edinburgh Fabrics a couple of weeks ago.

I've also signed up to Ravelry so you never know, I might move on from gloves and mittens and knit something more what's on your knitting needles at the moment?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Crikey! I'm knitting....

I know, I'm first and foremost a proud sewist and love sewing clothes for myself and here I am...knitting. Knitting!!!!! Well, I'll give you a couple of minutes to get over the shock of it all. Maybe it's the dark nights or something, but there it is.

There is a story behind how all this came to pass. A colleague went on summer holiday to the Faroe Islands and brought me back a ball of wool and a book on Fair Isle knitting. The gauntlet had been flung down! How could I NOT knit something. Also in the summer I went on my first sewing bloggers meet-up in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Some lovely ladies were helping visitors get to grips with knitting and they had some lovely wool cowls. I took one of their cowl patterns and worked myself up to the idea of knitting it. It took a few months!

Gives you an idea how long it is
It's been years since I knitted anything but I thought I'd like the challenge of a mini-project in knitting to take with me when I spent the weekend with my family and was physically parted from my sewing machine and overlocker. Idle hands, and all that!

Lovely golden trees in the communal garden
I bought Rowan Big Wool Colour in Jamboree colourway from John Lewis which has a high wool content, 96% wool and 4% polyamide, just enough man-made content to discourage our 'pet moths'. Hopefully. The knitting needles (10mm) are huge! It didn't take long to knit up the 4 balls of wool but it did take another fortnight to sew in the ends and sew up the one seam to change it from a scarf to a cowl. Then of course, there's finding daylight time to take photos but that's not going to change anytime soon! 

Beautiful carpet of golden fallen leaves
So, to round it all up, I'm very pleased with my new wool cowl and it will go with my new (when I get it finished) forest green jacket. It was lovely and toasty when I was outside taking these photos so that's good to know! What next? Well, I skulked about on Etsy and bought a knitting pattern for gloves/mittens/convertibles (not a type of car, they're fingerless gloves or mittens with a flip top on them). I've just finished knitting the first glove and done some rib on the second. I don't think I'm a knitter at all but I have enjoyed these small projects so far. Maybe I'm a seasonal winter knitter! What about you, do you take up the knitting needles in autumn and lay them down in spring?
And such a blue sky

Friday, 30 October 2015

A basic autumnal top

I'm still working away at the forest green wool jacket I started a few weeks ago but...the clocks have gone back one hour so by the time I get home it's dark. Dark green thread is almost as difficult to see by artificial light as black thread! I also don't want to make a silly mistake by rushing things with the jacket just because I don't want to wait for daylight to see things properly.

So, what better thing to sew than a light coloured jersey top! See what I did there...a subtle segway! This is another favourite New Look 6216 in view A. Basically, I add as much length to the sleeves when I'm pinning the pattern pieces onto the fabric, as I can. I think the pattern has three quarter length sleeves but getting full length sleeves just depends on the width of your fabric. Some you win, some you don't.
I bought the fabric from Edinburgh Fabrics a few weeks ago and pre-washed it before it lay in 'The Heap' in my (self-proclaimed) sewing corner of the living room. I think it's a viscose jersey and I can't remember if it has any lycra in it but it is good and stretchy. I like how the pattern looks like it has autumnal flowers and leaves on it, probably due to the colours. It's got a bit colder here in Edinburgh so I feel the need for long sleeves and this top is a perfect quick make and yay! eligible for the Fall Essentials Sew-Along. I used my overlocker throughout but used a twin needle for the hem and sleeve hems. I didn't use it around the neck band, it just didn't need it.

Booooo! With the clocks going back an hour, it's drastically reduced the time when I can take photos outside and benefit from all photos are inside *sigh*.

Participating in Gillian's Better pictures Project has made me think more about background and lighting though so let's hope you can see some thought in these photos! And I've accessorised it with a co-ordinating scarf...standards are being dragged up ever so slowly!

...and a fun shot showing the batwing/kimono sleeves...whatever the difference is between the two! Any ideas?

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge top

Taa dah!!! This is the third garment I said I'd sew for my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge 2015. My pledge was for 3 garments so I'm ahead of time, yay! There could be another one simmering away in the darkest recesses of my brain but that's a place we don't really want to go!

The fabric is totally man-made. No natural fibres here. At. All. The pattern is Butterick 6693 (links to an Etsy listing so when someone buys it, it's gone). There isn't any copyright year printed on this sewing pattern but it looks more likely to be from the second half of the eighties as the pattern envelope artwork looks quite stylish and tasteful. Not something you often find yourself saying about the early eighties!

I made view A. It's a round necked top with off the shoulder sleeve seams. Because of that quite high up neckline I even muslined the pattern! Then there is a front wrap and a back wrap which tie at the side. I added 2" to the body length but that's it for any alterations and I left the neckline alone.

The front and back overwraps all combine to make this quite a heavy top. Surprisingly heavy! It's definitely an autumn top rather than a summer one so it's also an ideal candidate for the Fall Essentials Sew-Along. As you can see I've cunningly accessorised my autumn top with autumnal trees and carefully arranged the fallen leaves in the background. We haven't had a puff of wind or more to the point, downright gale force winds that characterise Edinburgh from October onwards. It was a bit chilly taking these photos though.

This pattern was a little challenging, more challenging than it looks. There's quite a lot going on at the neckline with a complicated facing to sew and a button closure. If I make this again I'll just make the neckline larger so I can do away with this complication. The sleeves were also a bit 'Aaarrrghhh!' to sew. You have to sew up the side seam to the arm. Sew the arm seam and then do a kind-of set in sleeve. Except it's not that easy and involves clipping the body seam allowances to the point where the body stitching ends. There must be another way to do that better and if I make it again, I will modify the arm/sleeve thing. And yes, I think I will make it again in the future.

So, what do I remember from the late-eighties? I was at art college and studying away as you have to with these things. My musical taste veered away from the Top Twenty etc and our art college discos every Friday night played a hefty wallop of soul music - I was introduced and grew to love James Brown  Louis Jordan , The Mohawks The Jackson 5 and even this from Louis Prima was all about the beat (man!), if it had a good beat, we'd dance to it!

I seem to have 'discovered' 1980s vintage patterns! What's that all about? I've really surprised myself with this and if anyone had asked me at the start of the year I'd have said 'No chance' to 1980s clothing and patterns but I seem to be drawn to the bat-wing sleeves and unusual styles. I quite like 1950s clothing but I'm not really a dresses person, as you've probably gathered by the rest of my blog. I've really enjoyed the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge and I'll be looking out for more vintage patterns from now on...and here's a quick 'flash' of the wraps unwrapped!