Classic Indigo & White for the Summer

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Cracking on with sewing for me, I’ve been on a real binge!  I cut out two pieces of linen for trousers, one a khaki linen from Fred Winter’s in Stratford on Avon, and the other the most beautiful blue and white slubby herringbone from Fabric Godmother.  I couldn’t avoid buying the herringbone, the minute I spotted it online I just had to have it, and I knew exactly what I wanted it for!

Bringing out my tried and tested Burda trouser patterns, it had to be my favourite wide swooshy style, 116 from Burdastyle magazine 3/2004.  I made a bit of a boob though, and I hang my head in shame…  You can only buy whole metres from Fabric Godmother, and this pattern calls for 2.2m  You need that extra length because of the width of the trouser pieces, especially in the larger sizes.  There is no way to get them pieces next to each other.  So knowing I had 20cm less, you’d have thought I’d be really careful in cutting out.

Well, I put the fabric on my cutting table, which is shorter than 2m, so I carefully folded the piece that would otherwise have draped off the end, and proceeded to place the back, pocket pieces, facings, yoke & zip underlap in the space next to that piece.  Then I happily cut it all out.  Then I moved the folded fabric to the centre of the table and unfolded it.  You can guess what happened next, can’t you…  There wasn’t enough length left to cut the front.  I think my cries of anguish could have been heard in the fields surrounding our little town.  Then came the sound of me trying really hard to kick myself in the butt.  Man I was cross, what a TWIT!  A cup of tea and lots of deep breathing later I decided to wing it.  I couldn’t buy another 2 metres just because I was so unrelentingly dumb that day!

I decided I’d have to piece the front, with the join as low down on the leg as possible to minimise anyone noticing.  I hoped that the vertical pattern in the weave of the fabric would make it less obvious that there was a horizontal line where you didn’t expect to see one.  I marked a 1cm seamline and on the paper marked the position of a dominant “stripe” in the weave to line up with.  Once the main piece was cut I moved the paper over and cut the remaining 25cm, lining up those markers.  Then it was just a question of pinning really carefully to ensure the patterns and stripes lined up as perfectly as possible.

The zip underlap is nicely shaped and has the button fastening attached.
The zip underlap is nicely shaped and has the button fastening attached.

For the construction I overlocked around everything pretty quickly as the fabric was rather prone to fraying.  Because the weave is loose and the fibres slubby, this cotton and linen blend frayed more and quicker than a “normal” linen.  I took my time lining up the pattern on the lower leg, and I think it’s worked out pretty well, I have to look for the horizontal line, so I don’t think anyone else will notice it when I’m out and about!

The back shaped yoke, makes for good fitting!
The back shaped yoke, makes for good fitting!

I do love this pattern, the way the yoke fits in the hollow of the back is perfect and this is the one pair that doesn’t pull down in the back, unlike all my other trousers.  One thing I’ve noticed after wearing them for a day, as the fabric is a little on the heavier side, I could probably take the width of the legs in a bit.

Detail of the intersecting lines of the front hip yoke pockets and the back yoke and the seam taped hem.
Detail of the intersecting lines of the front hip yoke pockets and the back yoke and the seam taped hem.

They’re also pretty long.  I have already shortened the pattern in the leg by 6cm but I think I need to take the hem up another 1.5 to 2cm.  Which would be a bit of a pain, because I decided to support the inside of the hem against being rubbed by shoes and the ground by stitching in a piece of seam tape to the inside of the hem.  So before taking it up more I’d have to unpick the tape.

Another tnt Burda pattern.  I know I'll make more.
Another tnt Burda pattern. I know I’ll make more.

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wpid-dsc_0689-02.jpegBut I luuuurve them!  What I will need now is a white tee or two, I have plenty of blue ones! Tia Dia posted 3 tees she’s made recently, I’m quite tempted to use some of the patterns she’s tried as they look so good!

Terrible Tent or Trendy Tee??

Remember that sew slowing from March?  Yeah, I might be rethinking that now!  There are so many things I need to make, patterns to try and fabric to convert into pretty clothes that that idea might have to wait a while.  I still don’t want to race ahead with the self drafted trousers, they need to be right.  In the meantime though I have stuff to make and time to catch up on.

While I was not sewing I was re-stocking my pattern and fabric stash.  One of the pieces of fabric was a gorgeous blue and beige Ikat type print I bought on Etsy from Heather from Handmade By Heather B.  The fabric is gorgeous, I love the print and the colour blue is perfect.  The jersey itself is soft, has a fabulous handle and drapes beautifully. I thought I’d pair it with a new pattern purchase, the Shirt Tail Tee from HotPatterns.

The Shirt Tail Tee by HotPatterns
The Shirt Tail Tee by HotPatterns

The pattern was a PDF purchase, no copy shop version, so I was in for a bit of cutting and taping.  Once printed, I noticed there were no borders on the pages, I thought initially that the sizing was incorrect.  It turned out the printing went right to the edges of the paper, I just needed to line the pages up right next to each other.  There are two versions of the front of the tee, a solid front or a front made of 3 pieces all cut on different grainlines.  I went with the solid.  Falling between the 18 & 20 I opted for the smaller size because I figured there would be plenty of ease.

Instructions are pretty simple, sew shoulder seams, fold neckband in half lengthways, attach to neckline, sew centre back seam, hem shirt, sew side seams, sew sleevebands, insert sleeves.  The toile was quick, I used a lightweight jersey from the stash for the job. I was fairly happy with the result, it was baggier than I really wanted, and definitely too long, I decided to shorten it by 5cm but left the rest, I thought as the blue jersey was drapy-er that it would flow better around the body. So I went ahead and cut & sewed.

But this is where it all went wrong.  The instructions do not call for stabilisation of any seams.  I should have listened to my questioning self and added some, but I didn’t.  The jersey I used was so soft and drapey that it stretched while I was working with it, not noticably but enough.  Suffice to say that once I’d finished everything and put the tee on, it was a good 3-4 sizes bigger than the toile!!  AARRGGHH

Fast & Fabulous Shirt Tail Tee by HotPatterns
Fast & Fabulous Shirt Tail Tee by HotPatterns

It’s horrible!  A huge tent/sack that’s so unflattering it’s just not even funny.  The neckline is massive, the little sleeves hang far too low.  I hate it!  So I took to Instagram to see if anyone had ideas for me to rescue the thing and there were some good responses.  But I was too despondent, I’d just wasted all that lovely fabric!!! I put it aside to sort the next day, but on getting into my PJ’s that night had a bit of an epihany.  My PJs are handmade, remember Karen’s Pyjama Party? I made a couple of pairs then that have been in rotation, and I realised the top I’d made is the perfect style of tee for me.  It has a scooped neck, it’s floppy, not fitted, has a cap sleeve….  Eureka! So the next morning I cut what was left of Heather’s fabric and made a new tee.  Using style 113 from Burdastyle magazine 12/2008 this is what I have now!  Tah-dah…

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The colours are perfect for me, I tend to have a rather monochrome wardrobe, greys and blacks in the winter, blues and creams/beiges in the summer.

DSC00041-1The pattern itself is quick and easy to sew, it consists of the front and back, raglan sleeves in two pieces and a neckband.  I lengthened the tee by 2cm, just because I could!  To combat this fabric’s desire to stretch I stabilsed everything!!  Using Vilene bias tape I fused the neckline on all pieces, the raglan seams and the centre sleeve seams.  The only seams that don’t have a liberal application of bias tape are the side seams.  And it’s worked!  The fabric drapes and flows beautifully, and I don’t have to worry that the neckline is going to end up below my boobs 🙂  I’ve decided I may need to make another, there’s a new piece of jersey on my cutting table that I got from Fabric Godmother in my latest splurge and I think it’ll look fab in this pattern.

Neckline detail, 3 small pleats either side of the CF.
Neckline detail, 3 small pleats either side of the CF.

Soooo much better!!  It drapes, it swooshes and I love it! 🙂  What to do with the tent?  Maybe that’ll be a pj top.  But for now I’ve put it aside, I will have a think, it will either be recut or used to sleep in on the hot summer nights.  If we get any…

Summer Ready – Drape Top & Paisley Print Gabriola

Ready for Summer!
Ready for Summer!

Round 2 of The Monthly Stitch Indie Pattern Month competition is in full swing, this week it’s separates.  I had considered all sorts of things for this one, but as I’d started cutting a Gabriola for Daughter No1 before my operation (and got no further) I decided I’d finish that and whip up a suitable top.  She loves the Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top and as her sister appropriated the other grey jersey version I made, it made perfect sense to sew up another.

This is the first Gabriola I’ve made for Daughter No1, I got her to try on Daughter No2’s Winter Gabriola for size, and it nearly fell straight off!  Ok – size 0 with adjustments then…  I made the smallest size and then took in an extra 3cm from the waist, grading down to just past the hips.  The Sewaholic patterns are drafted with more hip ease, but it was not needed here. Other adjustments were to shorten the waistband – naturally, but I think that next time I’ll make it narrower too.  You’ll see in the collage that although I made the waist considerably smaller, the skirt still sits below her natural waist, causing drag marks at the back.  I might even draft a shaped waistband, it may fit better.  I also needed to shorten the skirt.  I took out 12cm in the length and I think it’s perfect, long enough to be a proper maxi, but not so long that it’ll drag in the dirt.

separates collageThe fabric she’d chosen is cotton lawn with a “hippy” print, a muted colourway with paisleys and half moon shapes.  It was bought from Stitch Fabrics at the NEC earlier this year, with the specific intention of making a Gabriola.  I love the colours and print, it’s going to look great with a number of tops from her wardrobe and has that washed out, faded summer look.  It’ll also soften with washing and I think it’s going to be well worn this season!

DSC00020-1As far as the Drape Top goes, I just cut the pattern exactly as I’d done before as I’ve made a fair few versions of this pattern now.  The fabric is a dark grey jersey from my stash – never ending jersey!  I never use the elastic on the armholes, it just doesn’t work with my sewing machine!  As it is, the application around the neck is about as much as the poor old thing can handle.  Now I thought I’d try an FBA this time around, but on checking the instructions for doing on on the website the measurements weren’t different enough.  But when I look at the garment I’m sure it needs one.  Daughter No 1 is happy with it though, the drag lines don’t bother her at all.

Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top and Sewaholic Gabriola
Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top and Sewaholic Gabriola

So there you have it, a bit of a stashbust and a quick sew, that’s my entry for the Separates category.

Up next is a bit of fun with a super stretchy viscose jersey, it took all my patience!!

A Quick Make for a Saturday Morning

I made a very naughty, large order of fabric from Fabric Godmother this week and it arrived yesterday.  It was so worth it!!!  I immediately sorted it and popped it into the washing machine.  By the evening it was all dry, ironed and ready to be used!  I didn’t want to waste any time.  In preparation for the fabric arriving, I had traced out a few patterns that I’d been buying during my enforced no-sew time.

Slouchy Jersey Cardigan from GBSB Fashion with Fabric book.
Slouchy Jersey Cardigan from GBSB Fashion with Fabric book.

I decided to start with a quick, simple one.  Using the grey marl jersey from Fabric Godmother I wanted to make the Slouchy Cardigan from the Great British Sewing Bee book, Fashion with Fabric.  Now this isn’t normally the sort of book I’d buy, but just before my operation I spotted it in Tesco for £5.  £5!  So I bought it, thinking it may come in handy in a class and possibly it would be something to read while I convalesced.

I liked the look of the cardigan, it’s one of those garments that’s just handy to have, like my Granny used to say, “You need a light covering dear.”  And that is what this is.  Tracing the pieces was a doddle.  There are loads of sheets in the separate pouch, which means lots of space to lay out the patterns.  It’s most definitely easier than squinting through the maze on a Burda pattern sheet.  The cardi consists of two pieces, a back cut on the fold, and the front.

I had ordered 2m of jersey for the cardi, which is just as well as I noticed a nice hole in the fabric!  Luckily there was enough space to manoeuvre the front piece to avoid the problem area, but if I’d not washed and ironed the fabric I may not have noticed the hole until it was way too late.  The first time I realised there may be a problem with the pattern drafting was when I noticed there was a lack of notches on the back piece.  The front has two notches on the upper arm seam and two more on the underarm/side seam.  The back only has them on the upper arm seam.

The instructions have you pinning the pleats/tucks on the front, stitching then pressing away from the front and topstitching with a twin needle.  All well and good right?  Nope.  For starters, the pattern is drafted with the pleats/tucks being folded towards the front, you can see that in the photograph, see the ears, they’re the evidence that the tucks/pleats are going the wrong way (but the right way, according to the instructions).

Top left: protruding
Top left: protruding “ears” show the pleats are going the wrong way, Top right: no “ears, pleats folded towards the centre front.
Bottom left, paper pieces pinned, front is shorter than back, Bottom right: Short by about 4cm.

The second pleat is not marked correctly.  There is no physical way you can line up the start and stop markings of that pleat and have the fabric lie flat.  It is supposed to be parallel with the first pleat, but it’s marked out completely incorrectly.  So mine is not parallel, but the fabric lies flat!  When things look wonky like that on the fabric, first thing I do is double check the pattern..  Did I trace the right lines? Leave something out? If the answer is no, I pin the paper to see what’s going on.  That’s when the truth comes out…

If you force the top edges and the bottom points of that second pleat together, you get a twisted mess, the lines aren’t the right length and the fold doesn’t lie straight, here’s my paper pinned version.

Flat pleats, it's the one on the left here that is the issue, the second one from the centre front.  The remaining pictures show what happens when I forced the
Flat pleats, it’s the one on the left here that is the issue, the second one from the centre front. The remaining pictures show what happens when I forced the “matching points” together.

So having fiddled the pleats/tucks, the sewing of the underarm was fine, but there was a snag with the upper arm seam.  The front is about 4cm shorter than the back!!  NO WAY!!  Back to the pattern, did I trace the Kimono line instead??  Nope.  That’s when I pinned the front to back along that seam and there you have it, the pieces don’t match!  See the bottom two photos in the first collage, you’ll see the difference in the two pieces.

I folded the back in half and pinned the neck edge together, smoothing out the now attached fronts to get a good curve and drew on a new back neckline.  I didn’t want to drop the centre back too far so only went down 2cm.  I got a good new line into the edge of the front and cut it all away.  Then the bias tape had to be reapplied to the back neck to stop it stretching out and the sleeve and outer hems done.

Slouchy Jersey Cardigan
Slouchy Jersey Cardigan

I am happy now it’s done, I like the look and the jersey is amazing!  It’s so soft and light, perfect for a little cover-up in the summer.  I wore it to the Broadway Classic and Vintage Car show this afternoon, the weather was ok, but there is a chilly breeze which isn’t all that pleasant when the sun disappears behind the clouds, and I wasn’t cold at all!  I do like the shape, but Mr W doesn’t.  He says it’s too round, too floppy and unflattering.  I know what he’s thinking, he thinks it makes me look fat.  Tough!!  When I’m bored I eat, and I’ve had 6 weeks of being bored.  Now I need to get un-bored, fast!!

DSC00005-1DSC09999-1Anyhow, overall I am pleased with the finished result, but I am not impressed that a much vaulted book has been sent out into the world with issues like this on what is effectively the simplest pattern in it.  Here’s a thought, instead of sending the patterns to bloggers to test, send them to the local college teaching City & Guilds and ask a pattern cutting teacher to check them.  They’ll sort it out!

Beeeg sleeves!
Beeeg sleeves!

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A Rooibos Dress in African Print

Rooibos dress from Colette Patterns
Rooibos dress from Colette Patterns

My idea of slow sewing certainly didn’t include stopping sewing altogether, but during the last two months, that’s exactly what happened!  I will  get back to the self drafted trousers etc, but in the meantime, I have been able to sew again, and this is the first project I’ve finished!  I definitely wanted to enter The Monthly Stitch’s Indie Pattern Month again this year, so that was part of the motivation.  Also, I was getting really bored of not sewing.

DSC09973-1You’d have thought while I was unable to sew that I’d be mindful of what I was doing online, but instead of living vicariously through everyone else’s sewing, all I wanted was to join in.  So if you can’t sew, you shop, right??  I have added to my pattern stash, and the fabric stash is a fair bit bigger too.  Ooops!

The first piece I bought was intended for this project.  I had the Colette Patterns Rooibos dress pattern from last year, but had never managed to find something to make it in  Not to mention that at the time daughter No2 had more than enough dresses in her wardrobe.  Still does if the truth be told.  But this was a match made in heaven.  I chose an African wax print cotton from Fabric Godmother.  I had thought of a Shweshwe fabric, but had already fallen in love.

Rooibos toile
Rooibos toile

Following many online disappointments and rants about the drafting of the patterns, I got a toile ready, with trepedation!  Colette Patterns are supposed to be drafted for “curvy” shapes, but the measurements on the envelope (once I’d converted them to metric) were pretty close to daughter no2’s, except for the hip which was one size up, as always.  I cut the 2, grading to the 4 from waist to hip in case she needed it. The shape of the skirt though showed I didn’t need that step, so I reverted to the 2 throughout.

Hmm, not exactly lining up!
Hmm, not exactly lining up!

I did have a couple of issues with the drafting.  The front midriff piece was too long to fit the front bodice, but only on that joining seam – the skirt pieces fitted the bottom seam of the midriff perfectly… You can see the little folded away bit in this photo of the toile. So I cut the centre front accordingly.

Pleated out section in front midriff piece
Pleated out section in front midriff piece
Extended back darts
Extended back darts

The other blip was the length of the back darts.  They are wide and very short, resulting in “back boobs”!!!  So not a good look.  I lengthened the darts to 7cm so they finished just below the shoulder blades, and the fit was greatly improved.  After trying on the toile, daughter no 2 decided the length as it was was perfect for her, which meant adding 3cm to the bottom so I could actually turn up a hem.  And that was all I needed to do to the pattern!  Thank goodness, because I had read many posts of despair from sewists using various Colette Patterns.

Completed toile.
Completed toile.

DSC09970-1The fabric was a breeze to use, I’d tossed it into the washing machine as soon as postie had delivered it, ironed it and waited for the opportune moment to get cutting.  Which means I waited for daughter no 2 to pin the pattern to the fabric – under my supervision – and manhandled my rotary cutter (left-handed) around all the pieces, trying not to cut into the pattern, and not go all wobbly.  It worked out pretty well.  The facings are interfaced with Gill Arnold’s fine sheer polyester fusible, the hem edge covered with a lovely chocolate brown seam tape and the seams finished with a simple zigzag.  I was not ready to shift heavy sewing machinery around in order to use the overlocker, and sometimes I think the humble zigzag gets overlooked in favour of its more glamourous cousins.

DSC09972-1I really like the way the dress turned out.  We eschewed piping and contrast pieces because the fabric was so beautifully printed and busy.  No attempt was made to pattern match, I really wouldn’t have liked to have tried!!  Now all we need is suitable summer dress weather so it can be worn, and not left languishing in the back of the wardrobe.

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This then, is my entry for the Monthly Stitch’s Indie Pattern Month 2015 Dresses Contest, which runs this week.

***UPDATE***

This dress has been chosen by the judges as one of the 15 shortlisted for your vote!!  pop over to the page showcasing all the other wonderful entries and pick your favourites.  You have 3 votes & I’d be very greatfull if you liked my dress enough to include it in your top three.  There are some fabulous dresses entered, so good luck in choosing just 3 to vote for!

ps, I have to add a bit here, kudos to all left handed sewists out there, during my enforced time as a left handed sewing machinery operator I have found it really cumbersome.  Everything is set up for the right handed of us.  Well done people, hats off to you!!

Little Black Pencil Skirt

The Little Black Skirt
The Little Black Skirt

Just like the essential LBD, everyone needs a black skirt.  I’ve made this one for Daughter No2 from 1m of black stretch cotton sateen I bought from Fabric Godmother on Boxing Day – what else was I going to do on such a lazy post-Christmas day??  It was in the sale at just a 1m piece, so was only ever going to be a skirt and I had intended to use the Burda pattern I’d used last year for this plaid version.  I decided this one would be lining free, more of a summer skirt.  Possibly not my best decision, I now need to either make a slip, or find some stretch lining.

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Burdastyle skirt #120 from July 2012

I used the same alterations I’d used on the previous version, tapering the side seams to make it more pegged, but otherwise the waist fitted really well.  I think I might put some stabilising something or other either in the top or on the waistline, because this stretch cotton does stretch really well.  I don’t want any complaints that it’s moving too much or not sitting properly.  So there might be a strip of grosgrain ribbon appearing at a later date.

DSC09654-1So, lining – as you can see in these photos, the sateen clings to tights, so if Daughter No2 were to wear the skirt now, in the cold weather, she’d be fighting a losing battle to keep the skirt off her legs.  Now I did think of it more as a summer item, needing no lining.  Needless to say, now that the skirt is made, it will need to be worn, so I will have to make a plan.

DSC09652-1In the meantime, I’m happy, she’s happy and I have used up fabric before it’s had a chance to disappear into the stash – it’s a win!

DSC09655-1Talking of fabric…  Daughter No1 is now in her last year as a Textile Design student and has uploaded some designs onto Spoonflower.  Her plan was that loads of people would buy her designs, and she’d have enough money to go travelling for a year to Thailand, Australia and South America in September.  My plan was to print loads out for myself, but I just couldn’t decide which designs to print onto which fabrics, and then there was the waiting time, the cost of postage to the UK and of course, the UK customs tax..  So when the ladies at By Hand London announced they’d be printing custom fabric fabric I thought all my prayers had been answered!  It’s still taken me 3 months to pick a design, but finally last week I bit the bullet and ordered 2m of the “Thread” design.

Thread design by Hauser Prints, printed by By Hand London
Thread design by Hauser Prints, printed by By Hand London

I didn’t order a test swatch first, naughty I know.  The initial design is more grey than the fabric that arrived, this has a blue/green tone to it, but I don’t dislike it.  The fabric is a sturdy, crisp cotton and would stand up well to being a dress with either pencil or full skirt, it has plenty of body.  But I don’t do dresses, so I’m thinking a tailored shirt.  For me!  I just need to draft a pattern.

In the meantime, I am shamelessly going to ask that if you like a design on the Hauser Prints Spoonflower page, that you go ahead and buy some fabric!  Otherwise I’m going to have to fund more of this trip than I’d really like!  You’d be supporting a really good talent (I’m not just saying that because she’s mine) to explore more of the world and hopefully return to us in one piece, fully inspired by all the fabulous places she’s seen and the new cultures she’s experienced.  Then she can knuckle down and get a job in a design studio somewhere and start living her life!

Zebras Crossing

Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top
Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top

Whoot, another make, another blog post!  I’m on a roll here…  This is the eighth incarnation of the Day to Night Drape Top made for the daughters.  The fabric is from Kat from Modern Vintage Cupcakes, swapped in the Sabertooth Swap organised by Anne from Petty Grievances.  I knew the minute I opened the parcel what the fabric would be for, I love patterns that require little bits of fabric!

DSC09647-1I put it together with my standard adjustments, no clear elastic in the armholes, just turned under and twin needled into place.  In fact there is no clear elastic anywhere in this make – not that I was trying to make a point or anything.  I had a fabulous sort out of my sewing space in January, re-organised the boxes and storage, brought in a large cutting table and generally made the whole space look a whole heap better.  However, I then didn’t do much sewing and as a result now I’ve forgotten where I’ve put stuff!  You know the drill, move things because the new home makes far more sense…  Where the flippin’ ‘eck is it now??  So I couldn’t find the clear elastic, not even in the elastic box, which is exactly where you’d expect to find it.  Ordinary 8mm elastic was called into action instead, and it’s done an ok job.

DSC09646-1With the overlocker playing up, I used the sewing machine for this make, one hour and it was done.  The jersey doesn’t stretch as much as would probably be preferable for this particular pattern, but Daughter No2 wasn’t overly bothered by the more fitted aspect of it, so I’m not gong to make too much of a fuss.  I love the stripes, didn’t make an effort to line anything up as it was rather random and I didn’t have much to play with.

DSC09645-1So thanks Kat for the fabric, and to Anne for the organising of the swap!

DSC09650-1ps, I did eventually find the elastic 3 days later – in the bra making stuff box.  Please tell me I’m not the only one…