Monday, 31 August 2015

The latest it's nothing to do with football

At the recent Edinburgh bloggers meet-up I heard a few other bloggers saying they wanted to improve the photographs they use on their blogs. Me too! So I was really pleased to see Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow announce her six month improve-your-photography-a-long (she gave it the much snappier title of) The Better Pictures Project. Aha! I thought, there's a timely prod in the right direction so I signed up. It starts in September. I don't have a digital camera, just a 2 year old middle-aged/elderly iphone 5 and an ipad. Will you see the difference in my blog photos? Only time will tell!

The other signing up I've done was a few minutes ago to my first Fall Essentials Sew along hosted by Sarah over at Rhinestones and Telephones. I'm in need of some cosy warm autumn clothing so this is another just at the right time announcement. I'm really looking forward to seeing what other people make.

So to round it all up, what you should see on my blog over the next few months are better quality photos of me wearing cosy, warm autumn and winter clothes. Can't be bad! Do you think you'll sign up for any of these...or maybe both?

Sunday, 30 August 2015

A Magenta Linden

I've been thinking about my winter wardrobe which in Scotland means about the same thing as an autumn wardrobe! I've already sent for some samples of  wool jersey knit fabrics so I can sew some jumpers and cardigans. Ditto Fabrics have some really lovely ones and their free sample service has also taught me that no two jersey fabrics are the same and you REALLY need to get samples before committing to buying.

So what's this got to do with my magenta Grainline Linden? Well, I'm looking for sewing patterns for jumpers and cardigans and this pattern is a good possibility for a warm wool jersey. The Linden has what I like, raglan sleeves, not too high neckline, sleeve hems and body hems finished with bands.

The fabric is a medium weight 97% cotton 3% lycra jersey I bought from John Lewis. It's a lovely fabric and was good to work with. I used my overlocker for almost all of this top, only using a twin needle for around the neckline.

I cut the size 12 and didn't make any other alterations to this pattern. Look at how long these sleeves are! And I've got long arms. Next time I'll shorten the sleeves by an inch. Problem solved for this version is to fold back the sleeve bans and you've got the perfect length!

I have over-stretched the neck ban when I was attaching it so it's quite wavy in a few places. You can see this in the photo of the back view. I've pressed and used the twin needle and pressed again but those wavy bits are staying! I think the problem is not helped by the fabric, it's just a bit too firm, I think. Something with even a little bit of drape would have been better.

Yes I'll make it again and use a better fabric for the pattern and will probably make it using some of the wool jersey, when I get around to buying it!

What are you planning for the cooler weather? I've also bought the Grainline Cascade duffle coat pattern too. So many patterns so many ideas...!

Monday, 17 August 2015

A quick jersey top

Hi everyone and how was your weekend? I had a good one and have this top to prove it! I've recently bought an overlocker and although I've been using it where I can I thought I'd challenge myself to make a jersey garment using as much of the overlocker as possible. Turns out that was quite easy and it took about 3 hours from cutting out to finishing!

The pattern is Simplicity 1463 and looks good for churning out more versions. This is something I like. A real workhorse of a pattern! Good for layering iin the autumn and winter with cardigans, jumpers and scarves.

I made View A with wide sleeve cuffs, a high-low hem, scooped neck and my favourite bit - glorious batwing sleeves. You'll see those in a minute. Or if you can't wait, just scroll down.

The fabric is a lovely teal (what...teal again! see my previous post) This is a 97% viscose and 3% lycra viscose and it hangs beautifully. It also feels lovely and smooth, a bit silky in the finish. I bought it from John Lewis in Edinburgh. I prewashed it before cutting.

The only adjustment I made to the pattern was to add 2" to the body length as it was a bit short for me, but that's not surprising as I'm 5'9" tall and I presume the pattern is drafted for a 5'6" person.

My photographer was At Home yesterday morning so I was able to get some photos of me, which is nice. I don't mind posting garments on hangers but it gets a bit same-y after a while. The out-take from this set of photos is probably the first photo in this post. I don't know what I was laughing at. Probably C, actually!

I wasn't sure if I'd like this top when it was finished but then I put it on yesterday and now I love it! I think it's the combination of a good style and a lovely fabric. I'm very pleased with it.

After two teal coloured garments in a row, I have to promise that i won't make anything more in teal for a little while! Actually the next thing I'm going to make is a Grainline Linden top from magenta coloured cotton/lycra. I downloaded the pattern yesterday and taped it together. This was inbetween booking an overnight hotel for a wee cheeky trip to Glasgow. Mandors, consider yourselves warned, I'm coming!

And the last photo is of the glorious batwing sleeves, as a reward for your patience and perseverance in reading this far! Well done!

I'll be back!

Friday, 14 August 2015

A summer cardigan

Well, I know that some of you are living in warmer climates and find the summer heat oppressive but this is rarely something that happens in Edinburgh so that's why I need summer cardigans. And I'm fed up of the limited RTW versions on offer and hit and miss colours. So I thought I'd make my own.

I know a lot of bloggers have said there aren't many sewing patterns for cardigans, or jackets as they can confusingly be called which makes finding them even more difficult! So, I came across BurdaStyle's Karen cardigan and at £2.99 for a PDF I just went for it.

The fabric is a teal coloured ponte knit with a majority of viscose and a touch of lycra, there is, I think a little bit of polyester in it but it's the best I could find. I didn't add the tie belt to my version. The sleeves are also quite wide at the wrist so I slimmed those down quite a lot. I made this cardigan at least a month ago so I've forgotten a lot of the details on how I sewed it but I remember it was quite easy and I didn't have any problem with the pattern pieces. The instructions were fine but as usual I read them through and then did my own thing. The really important things to do is to follow the layout diagram for cutting out as it's cut out from a single layer of fabric. The front and collar are combined in one pattern piece. When you cut the sleeves out, you cut them one at a time and because there's a definite back and front to the sleeve piece, you need to flip the pattern piece over to cut the second sleeve. It's the same with the front piece.

I like the short fold over collar at the back neck but I'm really not sure how I feel about the hemmed edge as you can see the seam allowance, I've made the photo extra large so you can see it. I also feel that if I make this again, I'll try and have the back neck collar seam on the underside of the collar. I don't know if this is just a bad instruction from Burda, I've double checked their instructions and I've done it as they told me.

There's a nice seam detail on the shoulder that curves towards the neck. I like this bit! You can see I've done a turn over and sew hem all round the neck and front and continuing around the cardigan hem. I made this using my sewing machine as I hadn't yet bought my overlocker. Any future versions I make will be on the overlocker.

I love the colour but as I said I'm not sure about this cardigan. I don't know if I love it or hate it. I haven't work it since I finished it over a month ago and it's been sitting on the sofa since then waiting to be blogged and then waiting to be worn. I guess time will tell! What do you think about it?

Sunday, 9 August 2015

At last! A new shirt

How has your weekend been? I'm going back to work tomorrow after two weeks of annual leave. Ah well, all good things have to come to an end! I managed to sew up a new shirt, something that's been on my 'To Do' list for a wee while. I really like my new shirt.

Yep, it's very floral! and full of unusual-for-me colours like acid yellow and full-on red. Thankfully they're scattered around the floral design in a manageable amount for me!

I decided I needed a new shirt pattern, just something a little bit different from the last shirt I made. Actually, it's the only shirt I've made since I restarted sewing so it's about time I made another one. I want to have a few go-to patterns I could sew a variety of shirts from depending on the fabric. If the fabric is patterned, I want a shirt that has darts for shaping, not panels. For plain fabrics, I'm happy with princess seams for shaping and to add some interest to a garment.

So after having a good look around I chose McCalls 6436 which includes separate pattern pieces for different cup sizes. I made view D, there was no point adding pockets, they'd just get lost in all the flowers! This is an excellent pattern and I thoroughly enjoyed making this shirt. I tissue fit the pattern pieces to me so the only adjustment I made was to lower the bust dart by 1". Apart from that, I sewed it up as per the pattern. This pattern comes out big, I cut out a size smaller than my measurements indicated, but it's still come out roomy. To be fair, the description on the envelope does say it's loose fitting.

As luck would have it, I found the right buttons in my button tin. I had enough for the front but not enough to do the two cuffs, so used two black buttons of a different style. I tried different coloured buttons but the black were the best, they didn't fight with the pattern!

The fabric is a 100% viscose that I bought from Remnant Kings in Edinburgh. It's a lovely weight and more dense and heavier than other viscose I've used before. I used a single layer of soft iron-on interfacing for the button/buttonhole bands down the front and for the collar I used two layers of soft iron-on interfacing to get the right weight. I'm really happy with how the collar has turned out, it's make-or-break part of any shirt.

 Shaping is by two bust darts in the front and two fish-eye (?) darts in the back. This gives the right amount of shape and removes any danger of a shapeless sack, thank goodness!

There are two piece sleeves which I've never come across before in shirts. The seam joining the two parts together stops a good 3" before the edge. This slit means you don't have to sew a placket (hurray!) at the cuff. I really love that detail. I'm not sure if you can actually see any of this in the photo but here it is. There's a pleat on either side of the cuff opening.

 Remember how I said that I didn't make any adjustments to the pattern except to lower the bust dart? Well, if you're thinking of making up this pattern I will say that I'm 5'9" tall and this shirt comes out loooooong. So much so that when I came to hem it I cut off 9cm in length from the body. 9cm!!! I recut the hemline using the pattern pieces. The next time I make it, I'll be reducing the body length by 9cm...*does double take*...shortening the length...weird for me!

So, have you got 'pattern plans'? Or maybe a shirt in the pipeline? You can't really go wrong with this pattern, it's a winner and I'll definitely be making it again.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Merlot Ultimate trousers

Yes, I've made another pair of Ultimate trousers. and they're in a, whatever you like to call it is fine by me. I do like the Ultimate pattern and I think I've got to the stage where it's just little tweakings that need to be made. The inches I've added to the rise and the legs are now perfect.

The fabric is one I bought last week from Remnant Kings in Edinburgh. It's a polyester and does stretch quite a bit in all directions! There's not a scrap of natural fibre in it. But I LOVE the colour. I don't think they're for winter but they're fine for now.

I've been using my new overlocker so the inside seams are finished neatly. I still sewed the side seam containing the zip with my sewing machine. I think it's good to use the seam allowances as reinforcement for the zip. I also haven't worked out how to overlock only part of a seam, maybe it's obvious but not to me yet!

 Here's a close-up of the overlocked neat innards! I attached the facing to the trouser waist by overlocking so I'm pleased with that and with the finish it produced. I used the sewing machine to undersew the facing and the overlocked seam allowance. That turned out well and reduced a lot of the bulk usually in this area.

There's not much more to say about these trousers except I'm reasonably pleased with them and have a strong suspicion they'll grow on me the more I wear them!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

A tale of three tops

Well hello there, from a rainy Edinburgh. How's your day and weekend been so far? In the last few days I've been busy sewing with mixed results. You can tell there's a story brewing, can't you? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

The story starts with catching sight of the Natalie top pattern from Liola Designs. I like that kind of top and it's for woven fabrics so I could use a lovely jade green coloured Trieste fabric from my stash. I printed off the PDF and taped it together. I measured the bust and hips and did an FBA. I measured across the back and did a broad back adjustment. I even made a muslin to check the body size...but I didn't muslin the sleeves. Everything was going so well until I tried on the top before doing the body and sleeve hems. The bust fitted. The back was still too tight and the sleeves were far too tight, unwearably tight.

Here it is. all crushed...just like my hopes! *sigh* I was going to give up on the pattern but after a wee while I thought I'm almost there. I just need to make a large arm adjustment and to increase the amount added for the broad back adjustment. By the way, the fit on the shoulders was perfect so I know I'd chosen the correct size to begin with...before all the adjustments began!

I go to swimming classes to develop my strokes and I'm learning butterfly so when you think about it, all the places I needed to add width correspond to the muscles I use in swimming.

So, back to the cutting and taping and adjusting the pattern. In the meantime I also visited Remnant Kings in Bonnington Road for the first time. It's a bit out of my way so as a holiday treat that's fine. They have a sale on at the moment so I bought some fabrics. Well, it would be rude not too!

So I cut out my pattern pieces (Mark 2) and used some fabric I'd bought at £1.99 a metre. The colour hasn't photographed very well but here is my Natalie Top Take 2.

Yes, it's crushed, just like its predecessor...and my hopes again! The problem with this top is that while it now fits everywhere, I'm not sure about the style on me. It's still unhemmed and laying on the table near my sewing space. So there we are. I decided to quit while I'm ahead. The pattern is lovely and it's an interesting garment to sew and I thoroughly recommend it but I don't know if I'll be making it up again. I'd like to believe in third time lucky but I can't be bothered to waste the time on it.

Three tops, remember! So, after all the disappointment of two fails I really needed a guaranteed success. What do you think I made next? Yes, that's right I went back to my favourite Simplicity 1364 and used another fabric from my stash. I've made this pattern so many times but I decided to make a broad back adjustment of 2cm. This has worked really well and the back now fits perfectly.

This is a lovely fabric, a 100% viscose. I loved the print so much that I also bought it in the blue and dark green colours and made this and this. Now it's the turn of the red!

I didn't have a lot of fabric to play with so couldn't do any pattern matching for the back seam and the zip, but I don't think it's that bad. Here's a close-up of the fabric so you can see it in all its glory!

So, that sums up my last few days, full of sewing ups and downs. Stay tuned for my next project...Vintage Pattern Sewing Pledge...well, fingers crossed!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Feathers skirt

So how are you all? I've been busy sewing for most of the week and it's lovely having lots of time to revel in it. This skirt is something that's literally been hanging around half finished for the past few months.

It's a fabric I bought in John Lewis sale earlier this year or perhaps last summer. It's a stretch cotton sateen and lovely to work with. For summer skirts I've decided to add a breathable lining to them, it seems pointless to sew lovely natural fibres and then stick a cheap polyester lining in it. So I've tried using a 100% cupro lining which is breathable. It actually feels very like silk to touch but is obviously not so expensive. This cost me £12 a metre and for this skirt I bought 1 metre, although next time I could get away with 80cm. I just have this absolute hatred of not having enough fabric when I'm making something. I'd rather buy too much than not have enough.

I used the usual pencil skirt pattern I've used before. I cut it out so long ago I can't remember if I did any pattern matching on the back seam. Hard to tell really! Now it's confession time! Despite buying too much lining fabric, I managed to cut out and sew the lining too short! What was I thinking!!! Muppet! Here is the shameful evidence in all its shortness.

It's still wearable though and with the more subdued colouring, it should be able to take me through autumn too.

I also have another confession that I'm REALLY excited about. I bought an overlocker an have been slowly playing about with it and gaining confidence in using it. I've even managed to change all the threads! Of course as soon as I did that it wouldn't chain properly. Turned out it was due to the chain mechanism not being threaded properly. I can see why they give you tweezers as part of the essential kit with the overlocker. Say no more.

I used the overlocker to do the side seams of this lining and I'm pleased with the results. it'll certainly stop the lining fabric fraying! I couldn't quite work out how to do the back seam which has the zip in it but that's fine. I'm happy to work my way up to new things with the overlocker.

And here is the new overlocker, though you should see a photo of it :) and here it is beside its much older New Home cousin (which was a 21st birthday present), they look well together!

Just have to work out how to finish the thread chains at the beginning and end of overlocker seams.....any ideas? What do you do?