Friday, 22 April 2016

I made a swimsuit!

Changing cubicle selfie before the swimsuit's 'maiden voyage'
I felt the fear and made it anyway! I needed a bit of a push to finally get down to making a swimsuit but I'm so pleased with the finished result. I go to a small group weekly swimming lesson where we work on improving different aspects of our strokes and do difficult things like learning butterfly stroke and also diving (my nemesis but I've learnt to tolerate it). Being a tall person (5'9"), swimsuit buying can be 'challenging'. I always have to try on at least 25 to 30 suits before I get one that I can stand upright where the straps don't dig into my shoulders badly.

So, how did I know it was time to start thinking about getting another suit? Well, there's one sure-fire way! When you go into the shower before getting into the pool, if the bum (of the swimsuit, just to clarify!) starts to feel saggy with the water, it's time! 

So, after a bit of googling I came across Jalie's Racerback Swimsuit. Perfect and it has everything I wanted in a 'serious' swimsuit. I purchased it at Christmas, stuck the PDF pieces together, measured myself and adjusted the pattern. I even bought fabric, powermesh and elastic. Then it all sat there for at least 2 months while I was too scared to do anything. Seeing Kay The Sewing Lawyer's version gave me the push I needed to just get on with it. 

My idea was to make a muslin to check for fit and then I can get stuck in to buying some fabric to make coloured, bright and maybe even patterned swimsuits. There, that's another thing that annoys me about swimsuit shopping. I try on lovely coloured, patterned suits but end up having to buy boring black or dull navy plain suits because they're the only ones that fit. 

Good swimsuit fabric seems quite difficult to come by, or at least I found that. If you know anywhere I can get chlorine-resistant 4 way stretch swimsuit fabric, let me know! I bought my fabric after having a good old mooch about in Edinburgh Fabrics. They've got lots of dancewear fabrics but to me they felt too thin. I want to build something that lasts. Yes, I did say build! I think the thin lycra fabric would dissolve in the swimming pool in a short time. So I've got my eye on some of the offerings from FunkiFabrics, just trying to restrain myself from buying all the lovely colours and patterns!

After the saggy (swimsuit) bum time, I decided to 'just get on with it and what was the worst thing that could happen? I mess it up and waste fabric? Well, it's only fabric and I really needed a swimsuit. So I cut a size W and added an inch to the body length to all relevant pieces. And there are quite a few pieces for such a compact garment. I followed the pattern instructions and lined the front of the suit. I used powermesh, I don't know if it's the correct thing to do but it hasn't caused any problems. I did wonder if it would stretch less than the suit fabric but that doesn't seem to be the case. 

Inside out - back
I deviated from the pattern by adding a soft bra. Again I used the powermesh and some 1" elastic that I had in my stash. I used my old swimsuit as a rough guide to how to do it. When the new suit front was sewn, I traced around the arms and neck and guesstimated the body length and created a new pattern piece for the soft bra. I cut and spread the bottom of my pattern piece so there would be enough fabric to gather into the elastic. For the body length of the soft bra, I held it up to me and just chopped off length until I thought it was right. Seems to have worked! I stretched a piece of 1" elastic along the front of my rib cage to get the right length. Then I sewed the bottom of the soft bra edge to the elastic and voila! I then added the soft bra top to the front of the swimsuit and treated them as one piece when sewing up the side seams and adding straps. It was easier than it sounds. 

Inside out - front
I didn't realise just how much sewing (and thread!) there would be in making this swimsuit. I have an overlocker and used that throughout. For the topstitching I used my ballpoint twin needle. The pattern instructions have you overlock a seam and then topstitch the seam. It creates a lovely, professional looking finish. I have to say that there are a few lumps and bumps where the front princess seams meet the elastic leg edging but I don't care. Brazenly don't care, actually, because...I made a swimsuit!

Inside out - detail of leg and elastic
So after overlocking and topstitching the suit together, you then need to sew the elastic around each leg, arm, back and front neck opening, including the hole in the back. That's a lot more stitching but the pattern instructions are good. They specifically instruct you to buy 1cm wide elastic. There is also a chart telling you the length of elastic you need to cut for each of the openings and each of the sizes. very precise and I really liked that. To attach the elastic, you sew the band together so it forms a ring and attach it to the RIGHT side of the suit. Guess what I repeatedly did wrong during the making of this suit? Yes, attach it to the wrong side (numpty). More than once. Use a zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine and the left zig-zag stitches onto the elastic, and the right zig-zag stitches into 'air'. You then turn the elastic to the wrong side and topstitch. This encases the elastic, very clever.  

Detail of back seam
I also have to report that I've worn this suit to two 50 minute lessons, swam all the strokes in it, and it's brilliant! The first time I put it on I thought it was very firm but that could just be the difference between the new fabric and my old, worn suit. It has settled/relaxed a bit after the first wearing and is good and comfy now. The elastic certainly does hold firmly and there have been no 'wardrobe malfunctions'. So, now I have a wearable muslin, unfortunately in black, but expect to see eye-searingly colourful versions popping up on this blog over the next few months! Have you ever made a swimsuit?

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Another Jalie cocoon cardigan and some bamboo pjs

Hi everyone and how are you all getting on this weekend? Sewing up a storm, I hope! I've decided to continue dealing with the blogging post backlog by telling you about something interesting followed by a plain, everyday basic. So here we are!

First off is the exciting thing, another Jalie Cocoon cardigan I've made before here. For this one I removed the length I'd added in the grey one and added another inch or so to the sleeve length. It's a good pattern and I will very likely use it again.

I like the grey version but I like this burgundy one more, I think because of the colour. I just love burgundy. Or wine. Or merlot...whatever you like to call it! It's a John Kaldor Isabella fabric. It has 20% wool, and then something like 85% viscose and the rest is lycra. Or thereabouts. Not cheap fabric at about £18 per metre and I bought 2 metres, I think, but it's worth it for the quality of the garment at the finish. It's standing up very well to what has been already quite a lot of wear!

The sleeves and the neck edging is finished by bands. Now, the only thing about this pattern is the band at the neck. I don't know if it's me, my shape, but it was gaping terribly with excess fabric at the back of the neck. It was perfect everywhere else so I know I haven't over-stretched it elsewhere.

So, I decided to add two darts which correspond to the shoulder seams so the look like they're intentional darts. Just two darts solved the problem, you might be able to see them in the photo.

So, that's the great burgundy cardigan and now onto the plain, bamboo pyjama trousers. I need a pair of these to replace similar RTW ones I threw out last year, they were worn out. These will be worn with one of last year's Vintage Pattern Pledge garments, my nightshirt.

The fabric is bamboo with a small percentage of lycra. The fabric feels lovely but the black colour seems a little less dense black than I would want. I used Kwik Sew 2811 pyjama trousers. I added two channels and put two pieces of elastic at the waist instead of the one channel indicated by the pattern. They've turned out very well and I'm pleased with them.

So that's probably enough for one blog post. I want to put all the things I make on my blog so it also means the less interesting basics have to be posted too. I love looking at what other people make on their blogs and hearing about any problems they've had so hopefully you'll enjoy the basics too. Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Me Made May 2016

Well, you've probably guessed by the hulking great Me Made May image above, but hey, I've signed up for Made May 2016 and here's what I've said I'll do:

'I, Joyce of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavour to wear at least one of my me-made items every day for the duration of May 2016'

I'm raising the bar on last years challenge. Bring on May!

I feel I've got enough me-made clothes to be able to promise to wear one garment every day throughout May. It's certainly helped by making a few pairs of Named Jamie jeans! Now I can wear me-mades 7 days a week. Last year I promised to wear 3 items of me-mades each week, which I'm happy to say I did. That was my first year of participating in Me Made May. I'm looking forward to doing this challenge again so if you're even remotely thinking about it, head over to Zoe's blog and make some kind of rash promise that you may or may not keep! Life happens after all and this should be a fun challenge, not something to worry about. 

I don't know how I'm going to document what I wear each day, maybe a list of links with the occasional photo? Just don't know yet but there's plenty of time to decide.

Have you signed up already? Are you swithering? Go, on, there's over 100 people signed up already! You'll be among mostly sewing friends plus a sprinkling of knitting folks too...and they're all lovely!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

A lacy top and a print top

Hi everyone and I hope your weekends are going well and full of sewing loveliness! As I said in my last post, I've been sewing up a storm but I've built up a bit of a backlog of unblogged items. Here are two tops made from the same pattern, New Look 6217 that I've used before here. Interestingly, Hand Made Jane recently blogged about this pattern being a right corker. The secret's out folks, buy yourself a copy of this pattern now!

I love this top pattern! It takes very little fabric to make a lovely grown-on sleeve top. Here's the first of the two tops and it's made from a John Lewis remnant of John Kaldor fabric, about 80 cms long by 150cm wide costing just over £4. Bargain! When I cut it out  I didn't bother with the centre back seam or the button loop closure, and cut both back and front on folds.

I did simple turn up twice hems for the sleeves and the body hem. For the neck edge I used some black satin bias binding I already had in my sewing heap of haberdashery. I think it's 25mm wide bias binding I wanted the contrast of dark colour at the neckline. I thought about using green bias binding but I'm not so sure I'd be able to find the exact colour match so just stuck with the black.

I really like this top and it's something quite different from me, a bit more out of my comfort zone in the cream and green colours that aren't my first choice colours. It's good to get out of a rut sometimes, isn't it? I finished this top on a Saturday late afternoon and wore it out to dinner that night. That's a good sign!

The second top was a bit more of an experiment. I bought the black lace last year in a John Lewis sale and bought a metre. I think it was about £7 for the metre. I hadn't a clue what I was going to make with it but thought I'd buy it for bit of a 'fun challenge'.

I bought a metre of cream cupro lining and pre-washed it so it felt silky. I used the cupro as an underlining for the black lace and treated the two layers a one layer. I overlocked inside seams and used some black satin bias binding to hem all the edges - neck, body hem and sleeve hems. I machined the bias binding and then hand-stitched the edge on the inside f the garment.

So far I haven't worn this top yet, but I've got a feeling I'll probably wear it next weekend. I love how this has turned out and would like to make another lace/cupro lined version but in a different colour of lace. Must keep on the lookout for some coloured lace...!

This is a great pattern and if you like the style, it's very fast to cut and sew up unless you add variations to it like bias binding around hems etc. but it's a great basic style to work with. Expect to see more of these in the coming few months! Have you got a great basic pattern that you love to add variations to?

Friday, 1 April 2016

Sunglasses case

Hi everyone and I have to confess I've been so busy sewing that I've neglected taking photos and writing blog post so I have LOADS of finished projects to show you. I've been on annual leave for just over a week and I've been sewing up a storm.

Here's a cheeky wee project for you! I noticed that my sunglasses case was looking very tatty and very much past its best so I decided to make my own. I don't have a pattern or any measurements at all, but I did take photos along the way. Here we go! First of all I butchered the old case to get hold of the bendy metal pieces that open and close the case.

I used some more of the denim from an old pair of jeans to make the outer case and also used a scrap of green silk habotai fabric to line the inside of the case. Nothing but the best for my sunnies!

I used the old case as a basic template the cut the outer and inner fabrics. I overlocked everything and didn't even bother changing the thread. You can't see the thread on the finished case. Turn and press the denim fabric and the silk fabric. Put the silk lining into the denim case, wrong sides together. This was not easy to do but if you put the sunglasses into the case they push the two rectangles down to the other end of the case and basically do the job for you.

Next, fold over the fabric edges at the end. Adding the metal pieces is next and this is quite fiddly to do, there's not much space to work in. Fold over the ends again and stitch them. This was the most difficult thing to do in this project. I tried to use the sewing machine but with the metal pieces in situ it just didn't work. So I hand-stitched the end hems.

Hey presto, after a quick press, the project is finished and I'm very pleased with it! The sunglasses do fit perfectly in the case, I've left them peeking out for artistic effect to make the photo more interesting! Isn't it great when you can make something that you really need instead of trying to buy a replacement?