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!