Mini James Dean

I’ve got a large plastic tub full of pieces of fabric left over from all sorts of projects, all big enough for something, but not something for me.  I’m always loathe to throw these bits out, or even to give them to the local school for the kids, because I know I can do something useful with them – eventually…

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So this project is me using up one piece of that stored fabric.  You’ll remember the Morgan Jeans I made last year, with a yummy, dark denim from Croft Mill Fabrics.  There was a piece left over that wasn’t much good for anything except maybe a tote bag, and that’s what I had in mind for it for ages.  But, going through the April issues of Burda looking for projects to make this month, I came across a cute kid’s denim jacket #134 04/2010.  A friend of mine has a little boy who’s 5 this year – it would be perfect for him! (and I thought it could be kept for his little sister to wear when she’s big enough)

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Kid’s Denim Jacket, Burda 134 April 2010

So I traced out the 6 year old size (110), and the pieces fit perfectly on what was left of my denim.  Go! Go! GO!  It was tricky to get the pins in, I’d forgotten that, and stiff to cut – oh dear, but I ignored the warning bells…

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Lots of topstitching – I didn’t even try topstitch thread!

All in all, it’s a simple pattern to assemble, the instructions, while basic, are clear.  The only problem I had with the whole thing is the size of those little pattern pieces and the stiffness of the fabric!  I don’t mind admitting I swore a fair bit.  And I have made a vow, never make a tiny denim jacket with fabric that stiff ever, ever again!!!  It was really fiddly to turn the cuffs, the collar nearly killed my fingers (they got in the way of my pounding).  The only good thing was that my old Bernina sailed through all those layers of thick denim with consumate ease.

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Boy am I glad I’m only making one for two kids!  I think it would be lovely in a softer twill too, even a nice linen/cotton blend.  In order to reduce bulk around the welt pocket area, and to make it easier for my machine to get through layers, I cut the pocket pieces from another bit of left over fabric, black and white large check gingham cotton.  I deliberately did not choose something “boy-like” so that it could be handed down and worn again.  I like the idea of unizex clothing when it comes to items like jackets and coats.  Makes sense, money wise.  I remember as a kid, my mum bought me boys jeans that my brother got when I outgrew them, and my sister got them after that!  If there weren’t holes in them, that is.

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Gingham check cotton for the pocket bags

I didn’t want traditional jeans buttons, they can sometimes be stiff to use, and with this fabric it needed to be easier for little fingers, so I raided my vintage button box and dug out some military uniform buttons I’d got from the charity shop a year or so ago.  The small ones were perfect!  I’m really happy with how they look on the front of this jacket.

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My long-list for April’s Burda Challenge sewing was fairly long, and I decided against just chopping it down randomly, rather by seeing what fabric I had and going that way.  On that list were frequent referrences to “kid’s clothes” because the size range is right for my friend’s kids.  This is the first of those projects to be made and there’ll be more!  I need to get that fabric box emptied, and it’s nice to make clothes for kids, they’re usually much quicker and simpler than adult’s clothing.

Now I’m off to continue tracing the long list of patterns daughter no 2 would like made up for the summer – this summer! By the way, if you’d like to see her wishlist…

Follow the link to see the whole post, this just shows a part of it!  🙂

 

 

Smoke and Shadows

My first little foray into making clothes with a Japanese inspiration went well, I’ve worn the gingham linen top a lot in the past few weeks and I really love it as much as the first one I made in January.  I now have all three of the Japanese books I ordered, Clean and Natural and Kana’s Standard I & II.  My first project is inspired by the Flared Top in the Clean & Natural book, and is based on a Burdastyle pattern I made 3 versions of last year.

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Modified Burda top 124 5/15

Why use a Burda pattern instead of the pattern in the book?  Because the book has patterns for Japanese sized and shaped ladies, which is not me.  So I was always going to have to draft or alter something to make it work.  You can put large, baggy clothing on slim people and they still look great, but those same proportions on someone a “little” larger don’t work.  I certainly feel like I’m wearing a tent, which is precisely why I don’t use the plus sizes in the Burda patterns!!  Too long and too wide!

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So, here’s what I did to get my own version of the Flared Top.  The original pattern has a yoke front and back that starts under the arm and scoops up and over the bustline, the sleeves are grown-on.  The length of the top is 55cm, which is not too long.  The flare though, is substantial.  Lovely on a “skinny minny”.  That yoke line and flare over the bust is not flatterning on someone with a larger bust.  The yoke would have to sit much lower.  I decided on using #124 05/2015 because (a) I’ve made three others, so it’ll be quick, (b) the fit was already good, (c) it had a yoke in a good position, and (d) I’d be able to add flare to just the lower front and back pieces quickly and easily, after straightening out the curved hem.

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I added 2cm of flare to the hem on the front and back side seams of the lower pieces and divided the front and back into thirds.  The first third from the centres became the line where more flare was added.  I slashed and spread, adding 5cm at the hemline.  This meant the front and back pieces were 12 cm wider than the original pieces.  I figured this would be enough flare for me.

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I did not toile….  I went straight in with the fabric, I had some lovely misty grey viscose in the stash, bought last year or the year before from Clothspot.  It has that lovely drape and sheen that I love in a viscose.  I used French seams throughout and double turned the hems.  I omitted the keyhole opening of the original pattern and used bias for the neckline.

So, how did it work out?  Pretty well, I think.  I’m not putting this top into full rotation in the wardrobe until it warms up considerably!  I think it’ll be lovely in the summer, the flare will help air to circulate!  The colour is great and I think there’s just enough flare to give a nod to the Japanese pattern, with me still feeling comfortable in it.  I will be making it a little shorter though, I recon 5cm should do it.

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If you’re the right size and shape to make a version straight from the book, the diagrams are simple to follow and you don’t need to know Japanese to make anything.  There is a great blog post here to help you understanding some of the terms you’d come across in these books.   For another version of the top, from the original pattern, here’s Sew Busy Lizzy’s beautiful top.

I’m already planning my next projects from these books, and have tweaked my easy fitting bodice block and drafted a Kimono block to help to get me started.  There are many patterns I want to try, I hope they all turn out as fabulous as they look in my head! 🙂  In the mean time, there’s still the Burda Challenge 2018 to get on with, and April is looking like it’s going to be full of sewing, although not that many patterns from this year’s issue have got me excited.  There seem to be more in previous years, but we’ll get to that in another post, shall we?

Short trousers means cold ankles

So here I am in the coldest March in the UK in a very long time, making cropped tousers again!  Instalment number two for the Burda Challenge is the cropped trousers from this year’s March issue of the magazine, number 111.  I’d dug out a piece of caramel stretch twill from the stash, probably bought from Croft Mill Fabrics, but it could have come from Clothspot.  I think I’ve had it around 2 years, so it’s nice to get it used up!

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Trousers 111 March 2018

I’d decided early on not to have all the extra zips on the front.  There is a very useable side zip for access, and these others are just for decoration, so I wasn’t about to waste time faffing putting in exposed zips I’d never use.  I might put some pretty buttons on the tabs eventually, but as for the most part, they will not be seen, I’m really not fussed.

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pocket details – and no zips in the pointy bits!

I removed 5cm from the length of the trouser between the crotch line and the knee line to get the correct length at the ankle.  I also changed the crotch curved in the back, dipping it by max 5mm in certain spots.  This made the usual creases under my butt magically decrease!  The facings were cut from left over bits of the gingham linen used for the Japanese inspired top, and I used that fabric for the pocket bag too.

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If there’s one negative about this pattern, it’s that there aren’t enough pockets.  So if I made the pattern again, I’d want to add pockets in the front somewhere, possibly using that pointy insert as a “welt” hiding the acces to the pockets there.  We’ll see.  But the pocket in the back went very easily.  The instructions in the magazine are the illustrated, elaborated kind, as opposed the the usual brief bullet points.  So if you’re afraid of welts, these instructions will see you right.  I love the shape, and it’s really not hard to have those points instead of the normal square edges.

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I like these pants, I wore them to the sewing show at the NEC all day and the stretch fabric behaved fairly well, not going baggy with all the sitting while driving, which was good.  They’ll be a great addition the the spring and early summer wardrobe (when it atually arrives), and I might be on the look out for a stretch poplin or cotton to make another pair, because this twill is too thick for wearing in the middle of summer.

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So thumbs up for this one!  I’ve got another Japanese inspired top for your inspection soon, and I’ll go through some of the books I’ve been buying to give you an idea of  the goodness inside!  But that’s me for March BurdaChallenge 2018, I thought I might make another pair of trousers, and perhaps a couple of tops, but it was not to be.  Just two pairs of cropped pants will do the job!

 

 

Coats for Christmas

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Longline jacket Burdastyle 101 May 2017

Sometimes you have to have early Christmas presents.  Those are the sort whose usefulness will be reduced if you have to wait for Christmas Day to receive them.  Definitely the case with coats!

Daughter No 1 spotted the long line blazer in the May 2017 issue of Burdastyle and immediately put it on her list of things for me to sew.  We just needed the right fabric – same old story.  So the project languished with all the others I desperately want to get on with, but am held back on.  The arrival of Autumn heralded a change round of fabric boxes, summer stuff into the back reaches of the cupboard, winter weights rediscovered.  And in that box was a 2.5m length of grey wool with a darker windowpane woven through it.  I’d bought it from Croft Mill Fabrics 2-3 years ago and never got round to turning it into the “perfect jacket”.

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But it could be the “perfect coat”.  The blazer in the May Burda was made with crepe, soft and draping.  But this was no heavyweight coating fabric – I thought we could gamble.  As luck would have it, Daughter No 1 rather likes grey and gave her seal of approval to it’s use for her coat immediately.  I also had a lovely dark blue satin lining in the stash (bought for the grey wool) that proved enough for the coat.

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A few adjustments were necessary, she didn’t like the slits in the side seams of the original coat pattern, so these were omitted, and she wanted less volume in the back.  I took the centre back seam in a total of 3cm at the waist, and 1cm on each side of the back panel where it joined the side panel.  This gives more shape to the coat, and eliminates the need for a belt, or half-belt as in the original design. I made small adjustments to the seams where the inseam pockets were to be inserted to that they’d be more invisible and have less bulk at the seam.

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I pinned the checks of the windowpane together in a 20cm grid to ensure nothing moved around and to make sure the pattern would be easier to line up afterwards.  I drew lines on the pattern pieces to make sure I was laying everything out exactly and that the patterns would match.  It took some time, but was definitely worth it in the end.  I chose the speed tailoring route rather than traditional, time was of the essense here, and while I know you get a fabulous look with traditional tailoring,  I think you can get just as good a finish if you use speed tailoring correctly.

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All in all, it took 5 days from starting to cut until the coat was finshed.  I took my time, no rushing, and I’m dead chuffed with the result.  My second coat was to be a very different one, but there was a little change of plan after the first one was seen…

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Originally Daughter No 2 was looking at a more slouchy fit coat, dropped shoulders, slight cocoon shape.  I’d already got the wool, 3m of the most beautifuly soft lambswool from Fabworks Online. And the colour?  Most appropriately named “Autumn Maple”.  It’s gorgeous!!  On a flying visit home from Uni, she spotted the grey coat hanging in a wardrobe, tried it on and fell in love.  Thank heavens it didn’t quite fit her properly or I’d have been looking to make another for Daughter No1!!

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So I needed to trace the bigger size of the first coat, lengthen the sleeve by 4cm and make the same alterations in the back, and to the pockets, as I’d made first time around.  This fabric is a coating fabric, so I made the upper collar a little bigger that the first one to accommodate the turn of cloth, as well as the revers and remaining centre front.  (Tip, when making coats and jackets, always make the upper pieces bigger, never trim the under pieces smaller).

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Again, taking 5 days and working carefully with my interfacings, organza cloth and clapper, I think I managed to turn out a lovely looking coat!  I love the lining fabric which she chose from Fancy Silk Store.  The gold spots pick up on the orange of the coat and just shine.  I chose a dark bronze snap for the closure and attached it with nice neat buttonhole stitch.  I was tempted to use a brown or dark thread for this, but the orange makes it look like a star, and that I like.

I love a good hidden in-seam pocket. #burdastyle #coat #inseampocket

A post shared by Anne W (@compulsive_seamstress) on

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Both girls love their new coats, and the different fabrics and colours are enough that they don’t look like they’re wearing the same thing when they’re together.  At least, I hope not!!  They look amazing, and warm and cosy, which is the most important job of a coat.

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Now there’s still the matter of a certain coat for Mr W…  It might have to wait for next year.  There are plans afoot for trousers, more sweaters and some self drafted goodies for Daughter No1’s boyfriend.  If they get going before I have a “suitable” lining for the famous coat, they will be done first! 🙂

More Christmas Presents!

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Burda #134 03/2004

I decided it would be a bit of an overload if I included these projects in the previous post of pyjama gifts.  Sometimes less is more.  This time I’m showing a couple of tops I’ve made for my Mum.  The pattern is one that has been used so very many times, I honestly can say I have lost count of how many versions of this top have been made for her.  It’s #134 from the March 2004 issue of Burda magazine.

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The magazine version is made with raw edges on neckline, sleeves and hem.  They’ve also got bias cut strips sewn diagonally across the front.  Now, mum is even less interested in “fluff” on her clothes than I am, so these bias strips have never seen the light of day on one of her tops.  She’s also not into raw edges.  So I’ve added 1.5cm hems to the sleeves and hem which are double turned and topstitched to keep everything nice and neat.

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There are only three main pattern pieces, front, back and sleeves.  It’s cut on the bias, but even so you don’t need an awful lot of fabric for this garment, just 1.2m of 150cm wide fabric will do the trick.  For finishing off  the neckline I add a 4cm wide bias strip, sewn with a 1cm allowance.  Sometimes it’s double folded and turned to the inside, sometimes it’s folded up and exposed, as you would a jersey neckband.  All depends on how I feel doing it at the time!  French seams have been used throughout, it makes for such a neat finish.  I’ve also straightened the point at the neck to make it more of an angle than a curve.

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The fabrics for these two tops came from Truro Fabrics in September.  The red is a cotton voile, that I only realised had flaws after I’d cut out the pieces.  Unfortunately they were placed on the fabric so that I wouldn’t have had a chance of avoiding them even if I had noticed them in time.  They aren’t obvious and shouldn’t be too weak, but just incase, I reinforced the back of those areas with some fine sheer polyester fusible interfacing.

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The blue shell fabric is a lovely crisp cotton lawn, I love the dramatic colour contrast and I hope Mum will too!  These will make a good adition to her summer wardrobe, the blue shell top might even make it to winter, to be worn under a cardi or light jumper.  It never really gets that cold on the coast where they live.  Not like the snow and -7C temperatures we’ve had here in the last few days!  But I’m not complaining, I love snow!

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For Dad I chose to crochet a throw/lap blanket.  Before my local wool shop and haberdashery closes forever on Chrismas eve, I grapped a load of wool on the cheap and proceeded to get busy with the crochet hook.  The blanket is about 1m wide and 1.2m long, so big enough as a cover while watching the telly in the winter.  I chose dark grey, teal, oatmeal and a lime for a bit of pop and make a few versions of a couple of different granny squares, trying to make the colours as varied as possible.  Some of the squares I used can be found on this list.

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Crochet throw/lap blanket

It’s lovely to give handmade items as Christmas gifts, but you do have to plan in advance, because if you wait for the beginning of December to wake up, you’ll have to make really quick and easy projects!  I might just do this again next year, starting my making in October seems to be about right.

Sewing PJs for Christmas

A confession – I don’t sew things that often for Christmas.  In fact, it’s really rare for me to give sewn goodies for Christmas!  But this year I thought a change was due.  This was mostly brought on by the purchase (in October!!) of a superking size brushed cotton duvet set from my local Aldi.  The minute I saw it I knew it would be fabulous for some Christmas pjs.

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It seems I was infected with a pj making bug for a while.  Using Closet Case Patterns Carolyn pjs, I traced the 8 and the 10 and made 3 pairs of pants in those sizes, one each for my girls and one for a friend.  Each pair has a different trim detail on the cuffs and different topstitching.  I can only show you Daughter No2’s set, the others were packed up and sent off!  Then Daughter No1 asked nicely if I could make a pair of men’s pj pants for her partner, and a full set of pjs for his nephew.  I must have been feeling generous, because I said yes!

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A little trim on the cuffs instead of traditional piping. Each pair is different.
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I used different topstitching details on each pair of pj pants too. Just because they’re from the same fabric, doesn’t mean they all have to look exactly the same!

For Nephew’s pjs, I dug through my collection of vintage, retro and oop patterns, eventually finding an 80s Burda kids pj pattern, 4222.  I made the 10 year old size, pants and top.  It came together really quickly, buttons, coloured threads and elastic all from the stash.  I love the round Peter Pan collar and grey buttons, I used a mustard thread for sewing on the buttons, and for some of the topstitching.  It just adds a little bit of something different.  Those grey buttons came off the suit I took apart for The Refashioners project, reused and recycled!

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Burda Kid’s pjs

I added cuffs at the sleeves and on the trouser hems, because we all know how quickly boys can grow!  I’m quite chuffed with how these turned out, and I bet I’m going to be asked for more next Christmas!

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A little mustard thread on the buttons

The men’s pj pattern is 143 from Burda 12/2010, available as a download here.  I added inseam pockets to this pair, I think pockets are a must, even in pj pants.  I used orange thread for contrast on this pair, the fly and hem are nice and bright!  It’s a quick and easy pattern to run up, even with the addition of hidden inseam pockets.  They have already had the thumbs up, both this pair and Daughter No1’s have been approved as being comfy and cosy, so job done!  Anyone else have matching pjs?

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Men’s pj pants, Burda #134 12/2010

I have to confess to having to buy a second duvet set, turns out that even though there’s a lot of fabric in a superking size duvet, there’s not enough length for all the pjs I had to make!  However, Daughter No2’s boyfriend recently moved house and required new goodies all round, so I was able to resize the second duvet set to a double cover and give it to him, with the remaining pillow cases.  I even used the little drawstring bags the duvet sets originally came in, they made good pj bags!

 

Stepping Out

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While neutrals are decidedly within my comfort zone, bold, stand out colours are most certainly not!  However.  After making the gold and black Anza Dress last month, I had a bit of the fabric left over.  The lady I made the dress for didn’t want the remains for herself, so it went into the stash.  But not for long!  Also in the stash was the remains of a decent amount of plain black viscose.

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Deciding to prove my point about using Burda top 124 from 5/2015 for left over pieces of lengths of fabric, I decided those two fabrics would be perfect.  There was enough of the print for the front and sleeves, the plain black was used for the back.  This time I didn’t cut the keyhole opening but instead converted it to a slit, like the sort you’d get on a shirt cuff.  The bias for the bindings was cut from the print viscose, plain grey sections for the slit and the coloured sections for the neckline.

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I really like how it’s turned out!  Although it feels longer than the other versions.  That might just be because of the startling band of colour at the hem.  Otherwise, it’s great!  I’m not sure how much longer we have to wear short sleeved, lightweight tops this year, the weather has turned decidedly autumnal and it’s nowhere near the end of August yet!

An update on the other sewing, the 1920s sequin dress only needs a hem.  After many, many hours of cutting out sequins and then sewing them back on again, I think I’ve had enough!!  I’ve also finally started working on my Morgan Jeans, having done two and a half toiles last month and actually cut it out 2 weeks ago.  Hopefully they’ll be finished this week.  There are other things still on the cutting table, but I’ll get there – eventually!!