And We’re Off!

Hitting the ground running, there’s nothing like a quick project to get the sewing started.  This was actually a project I’d intended to do last year, and possibly have ready for Xmas, but it didn’t work out and it wasn’t time critical.  As it was already cut out, getting it sewn up was easy.

The main fabric is teal ponte from Croft Mill Fabrics, really lovely and soft with a gorgeous, jewel-like colour.  I was wavering between another Toaster Sweater or making a new Fraser Sweatshirt.  Once the fabrics were washed and were on the clothes horse drying, I noticed that this teal and another, patterned fabric looked pretty good together.  This gave me the idea to go ahead with the Fraser Sweatshirt, using View A.

 

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I cut with the size 8 across the shoulders and upper chest, changing to the 6 from the underarm down the sides to the 4 at the hip.  In hindsight I could have lengthened the body by about 3cm, but luckily it’s just long enough.  Looking at the photos, I need to make a note to lower the armhole for the next time.  The fabrics work really well together, they have just about the same amount of stretch and body.  I did not go straight into overlocking the contrast sections of the pattern together!  All was first done on the sewing machine whith a long, narrow zigzag.  Once I was happy with the points, I threaded up the overlocker and went for it.

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The joining seam on the contrast sections is pressed down and topstitched with a 2.5mm twin needle.  It was a little tricky trying to find a suitable coloured thread for this, they’re either too green or too blue!  Once I was ready to insert the sleeves, I again machine basted the contrast seam section.  My overlocker is just too happy to reach that bulky area and move things 1-2cm…  Speaking of which, the Janome really doesn’t like the bulk of this ponte when it gets to intersecting seams.  I might have to break out the Bernina instead.  And I need a new cutting blade.  Should have put one on my Christmas list! 🙂

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Basting really helped and the contrast yokes line up really well.  I love the look from the back when you see the half contrast of the sleevehead, and the neckband.  Daughter No2 is very happy with my decision to go ahead with the contrast (despite initial misgivings) and loves her new sweatshirt.

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Speaking of new sweatshirts, I didn’t get to take a picture of Daughter No1’s Christmas red Toaster on, but here’s a peek at the special lable inside.  I hope it will remind her of the moose decals on the van she and her partner hired for their little USA adventure a couple of years ago.

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Finishing touches! #toastersweater #moose

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Having the Fraser pattern out has given me a couple of ideas to use up some of the smaller pieces of ponte and quilted jersey left over after other projects.  I might see if I can get a couple of 3/4 or even short sleeved versions done.  Leave no scrap unused!

fraser 1

I am in the market for some lovely French Terry, I want to make the zip-up hoodie #119 from the January issue of Burda 2018, joining Hila of Saturday Night Stitch in an all new sparkling Burda Challenge!  Who’s in??

Burda Love

How often do you wear matching items?  Some of you might wear suits for work, I never have!  In an attempt to bust a little stash fabric, and to have more items made for my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe, I originally wanted to make two pairs of trousers from a 3m piece of stretch cotton sateen from Croft Mill Fabrics that I’d bought last year.  Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough for both pairs so while I sat there looking at the laid out fabric hoping to find a way, inspiration hit.  There could be enough for a jacket & trousers…

 

It took a little playing around, pattern piece tetris is a real thing.  The left picture shows the layout I ended up with and the little pile of skinny scraps on the right is all I was left with once it was all cut out!  I cut the inner waistband and both pocket pieces from different fabrics in the scrap box to save space.

The trouser pattern is 109 from Burdastyle magazine March 2010 and the jacket is my old staple, 116 from Burdastyle magazine April 2009.  I think this is the fifth version now!  I decided to leave the jacket unlined, and to use Hong Kong finish on all the internal raw edges. A piece of pansy print Liberty lawn was liberated from the scrap box that worked perfectly against the beige.  I cannot tell you how many metres of bias I cut in the end, suffice to say it was a lot.  Because the jacket was unlined, the shoulder pads were covered in the same fabric.  I had thought I’d get away without them but the jacket looked all frumpy and structure-less.

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Burda Addict

So, trousers.  I went for the shorter version and still chopped out 4cm.  A remnant of silk was cut for the pockets, and a pocket facing was added, using the cotton sateen so you don’t just see silk at the opening.  The pockets are of the in-seam variety.  The inner waistband was cut from a remnant of printed cotton sateen that had made a pair of trousers and a skirt for the daughters in the past.  The button closure and trouser hook & eye came from the stash.  I overlocked all edges before starting to sew, that way I don’t have to stop and start and can get a pair of pants made in a day.

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I really like the colour it goes with all my new handmade tee-shirts!  The stretch is really comfortable, I like the stitched seam on the front pieces, it gives a sense of length, which is sorely needed.

collage burda trousers 1
Trouser details, contrast inner waistband, trouser hook & eye, silk lined pockets

The jacket pattern is one I have made many times now.  I think this is the most crisp though.  Even my linen one, lined, is softer.  Just means I need to work harder to remove that darn double chin my family genes is/are so fond of….   I really wanted a light weight jacket, so no lining.  That also means far less structure and interfacing than I’d normally use.  Only the facings and collar pieces are interfaced, relying on the structure of the fabric to give the jacket a good shape.

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I love the insides!

The jacket was actually made fairly quickly, considering the metres and metres of bias that needed to be attached!  The reason why it hasn’t seen the light of day until now (apart from no photographer) is that I couldn’t for the life of me find the right buttons.  Beige buttons on a beige jacket are BORING!  Metallic ones just looked too bling.  White looked insipid and black too much of a contrast.  So I was stuck.  Help came in the shape of a friend who went through my buton stash with fresher eyes than mine.  She found these interesting regtangular buttons and practically dared me to use them.  Challenge accepted!

Collage jacket details
Burda jacket details, covered shoulder pads, Hong Kong seams finish & rectangular buttons.

The shape and texture on the buttons makes them far more interesting than ordinary brown round ones, so I’m happy with the result.  I also sort of want to wear this jacket inside out! The only time anyone will see the pretty insides is when I take it off and lay it flashily on the back of a chair.  🙂

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Tee 138 from Burdastyle magazine March 2011 in grey viscose jersey

On to the last item for the day!  I’d ordered two pieces of grey viscose jersey from Croft Mill Fabrics, dark grey, & a lighter, silvery piece at the beginning of March.  Can I just say, these jerseys are so soft!!  They have the most amazing drape which means every bit needs to be stabilised!  I chose a tee-shirt pattern I’d liked before but not got round to tracing, 138 form the March 2011 Burdastyle magazine.  It’s in the plus-size section.  I liked the twisted neckline treatment and the tab on the sleeves.

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I made the 46 with a 6cm FBA but with this soft fabric I wonder if I could have got away with the smaller size.  The armhole seams, front and back, are stabilised with Vilene bias tape, having learnt the hard way last year that this sort of fabric keeps going down….  Initially the neckline wasn’t stabilised, but as the day wore on I realised that wasn’t my brightest idea, so back to the ironing board it went.  Now the neckline, while a little low, doesn’t try to migrate any further south.  The neck band is simply a rectangle that isn’t folded symmetrically.  Once the centre back seam is stitched, instead of folding and pressing you move the seams 3cm apart which gives a little pull on the folded edge.  This creates the “twist”.

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The sleeves with tabs are easy to sew, if using a soft fabric like this though, I suggest you iron on a bit on knit interfacing where the tab goes to stop the fabric stretching as you do the topstitching.  Unfortunately, this fabric doesn’t work folded up.  It’s too soft!  I don’t really mind, the sleeves are a good length and I like the detail left with the buttons and stitched squares.  The only other adjustment I made was to remove length.  I took 5cm off the bottom and still turned up a 4cm hem.  I get that some people prefer longer tops to hide things, but on me I’d look very, very short and definitely feel like I was wearing a tent!

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All said, I am happy with my new outfit, not 100% sure if I will actually wear the matching jacket and pants together, but I have that option.  All items are in my suitcase for the holiday as with colours like this you can wear anything!  Score more for busting some stash & scraps, making a matching outfit and using freshly bought fabric before it found the stash!

We Like to Boogie

Flared jeans, I’m never taking them off!

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Jeans.  The staple of just about everyone’s wardrobe since the 70s.  They come in various guises, colours and lengths but we cannot get enough of them.  Since their introduction as basic workwear they have undergone dramatic transformations in style, detail and of course, the fabric they’re made of.  The quest for the perfect pair of jeans is rather like the Quest for the Holy Grail.  We’d do anything to find them, including shelling out large amouts of money on designer jeans.  But us sewists are the lucky ones, we can make our own!

I’ve made jeans for the girls before, but never made a “proper” pair for myself.  I bought a couple of Hot Patterns jeans, came very short with the one and gave up on the idea.  Then the Closet Case Gingers came along & I bought the PDF immediately.  I even bought fabric, but when it came to the crunch I chickened out of actually making them.  I just wasn’t convinced about the styling and fitting – that they’d look good on me. I’d already justified the purchase of the pattern, I was going to use the skinny version for the girls, of course…

In the intervening months I bought more stretch denim, black, caramel & beautiful blue.  They liked my stash, too happy there to ever come out & be used.

The style is always the thing I get stuck on.  I like a straight leg, but you just cannot beat a bootcut or flare to make your legs look longer, or to balance out a larger body/hip.  I buy bootcut jeans whenever I can and love a flare.  My ordinary trousers can attest to that!  Then in December I started seeing flared jeans aplenty on the internet.  Sewists were making flared jeans!  Where is that pattern!  I NEEDED it!

I bought the Baste + Gather Birkin Flared Jeans on my birthday at the end of December (getting Mr W to print the pattern on A0 at the office, ssshhhh).  I had the fabric, I had the pattern.  Just to make it up…  Now Daughter No1 is safely wandering around Thailand with a rucksack of handmade goodies to wear, I can turn my attention to sewing for myself again, and JEANS are on the top of the list!

I started tracing the pattern last week, finishing on Monday this week and finally making a half toile.  I really wanted to check the fit around the top half, the length wasn’t a big worry.  I made the size 35, based on my waist measurement.  Apparently the hip should have been a size lower, but I have a bum & tum to fit into that space and with 3inches (7.5cm) negative ease, I wasn’t taking any chances!! After the toile I decided to add a little (5mm) to the inseam on both legs to accommodate wide thighs and curved out a little extra on the CB seat seam.  I also wanted to change the opening of the fly from the right to the left.  All of my trousers are left hand opening, & I can’t explain how confused I was trying to open and close the toile with my right hand!  Silly, yes??  The rest seemed ok & I couldn’t wait to start!

I chose a dark charcoal denim with 2% lycra from the stash.  I’d bought it from Croft Mill Fabrics around this time last year!  It has a fabulous handle, soft on the underside, and a slight sheen to it.  I thought it would be perfect as a slightly dressier look than “normal” coloured denim.  Threads, zip & button were all from the stash.

I really like the instructions for this pattern.  All are well written and illustrated and you really cannot go wrong with them.  I think quite a few pairs of jeans were taken apart to provide the exact level of detail that has gone into this pattern.  It’s the best way to learn to make things – take something apart and see how it was put together in the first place!  I used white pocketing for the pockets and instead of simply sewing the bottom seam and overlocking, I make some quick French seams.  Hopefully this should be stronger, depending on what I decide to jam into my pockets!

Collage fly zip front pockets
French seamed pockets, a vintage button and more topstitching details.

The fly is inserted in a way that not many sewists will be used to, it’s a method used mostly in industry for men’s wear.  But it’s well described and goes together well.  The only thing I’d say is, if you have the right length zip (I had 5″) you will not have to cut off anything, pliers will be unnecessary and you will skim past the bottom end of the zip with your topstitching.

Collage fly topstitch detail
Zip details & topstitching

Topstitching……  I don’t use topstitching thread most of the time but for jeans you need that thicker thread for a more authentic look.  I have in my needle box a twin denim needle, perfect for accurate double lines of topstitching on the perfect jeans.  Except my Bernina didn’t like it at all.  It allowed me the satisfaction of neatly stitched pocket top edges and then stopped.  Any more attempts resulted in a hissy fit and a nice lump of thread under the fabric.  Similar effects happened when trying to use a single row of topstitching.  I have to add here that I didn’t use a topstitching needle.  That’s one thing I didn’t have to hand and the local haberdashery didn’t stock so exotic an item.  The stitching looks ok from the top, but when you turn the fabric over there’s a lovely collection of loops of topstitch thread and the bobbin thread is ineffective.  I tried tightening the bobbin tension but nothing worked.  Just to show how perverse my fabulous Bernina is, it was perfectly happy for me to use the jeans twin needle with normal thread in one needle and topstitch thread in the other.  Machines! *throws hands in the air*

Collage topstitching pockets
Adventures in topstitching, using the twin denim needle only lasted the top of the pockets. No decorated back pockets this time, I was far too impatient!
Collage twin needle topstitching
Various attempts at topstitching, bottom left you can see the loops of topstitch thread on the underside, right you can see the compromise, twin needle with 1 topstitch & 1 ordinary thread.

There is even a little trick to make sure the centre back seam still looks like it’s in the centre, topstitching and all.  You place one back leg piece 1cm away from the other, then stitch at the normal 1.5cm seam, once you iron the seams in one direction and turn it over to the right side, you’ve (hopefully) got a matching yoke seam and what appears to be an even placement of the pockets.  Topstitching can seriously throw the symmetry off, even if it all measures the same, visually it’s tricky!

Collage back seam detail
Centering the CB seam

But seriously folks, my misbehaving machine was the only issue I had with the construction of these jeans.  That and my over-enthusiastic estimation of the length of my legs!  I measured the inseam of 34inches (84cm) with my boots on and determined it was a good length for me…  Erm, nope!  I chopped off 8cm and turned up 2.5 for the hem!  I didn’t have to worry about loosing too much of the flare (there’s plenty!) thank goodness.  I have now used the shortening lines to take out 2cm in the mid-thigh and another 2 mid-calf.  The remainder will come off the bottom, it’ll be fine! 😉

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Never taking these off…

Once on, the jeans are so good!  The high waist, and it is high, ensures no muffin top, HURRAY!  In photos of other versions of the jeans the waistand doesn’t to be as high as it is on me, but the lower edge of the waistband sits on the top of my hip bones, so it cannot go any lower if it is to be a high or natural waist.  But I likes it!  I didn’t think I’d be going back to waistlines on the natural waist ever, but I might be persuaded now.

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By the way, that’s a new tee!  Made last night after a day of gallivanting, I needed to do something productive.  Luckily it was already cut out the night before so all it needed was a little Vilene bias tape for the shoulder seams and it was good to go!  The pattern is a self drafted one.  I shortened the sleeve from the original version which I wore to the dreaded wedding in December.  The fabric is the most beautiful viscose jersey from Ditto Fabrics, the drape is fabulous and it’s so soft!!  It’s my second make for the summer (who said I was wishing the year away??)

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Happy in my new jeans, just need a bit of healthy eating to remove that tummy sticking out there!

Mr W likes these jeans, says the fit is really good, so I must have done something right! 🙂  Apparently there will be an “add-on” for this pattern which involved making the legs into skinnies.  Could be interesting.  I’d prefer a straight leg myself, and with a fit around the top as good as this one, playing with the legs to make millions of pairs of jeans will be so much more fun!

ps, this is my just-in-time sumbission for Jeans in January!

 

Wardrobe Architect Plans Continue

Last Saturday was the Sew Brum event, a meet-up of a number of sewing bloggers in Birmingham.  I decided last minute – as you do – to have something new for the occasion.  And I mean last minute.  I had a new haircut on Tuesday, traced a pair of Burda trousers on Wednesday, had various interruptions & only managed to finish them on Friday morning.  I also started to patterncut a new blouse on Thursday morning.  Something had to give & unfortunately it was the top.

Trousers 143 from Burdastyle 2/2013
Trousers 143 from Burdastyle 2/2013

But first – the item I did manage to finish to wear to the meet-up.  Typically with no spare time, I picked a pattern I’d not used before & haven’t toiled.  I chose a pair of trousers from February 2013 Burdastyle magazine, number 143. The pattern has a slightly dropped, shaped waistband, front fly, hip yoke pockets and cuffs on a slight bootcut shape leg.

This is one the Curvy Collective could add to their list to try out.  It’s a plus size pattern & I traced the 44-48.  I don’t have much waist definition, going straight up from the hip, so I made sure I had enough sizes to grade up.  As it was, I used the 44 on the leg up to the hip line & graded up to the 46 from hip up to the waistband.  It’s a trifle snug because of the lack of stretch, but I’m satisfied with the result.  At least I know they won’t be falling down during the day!

I had to shorten the pattern by 4cm.  The finished length was to be 108cm, which I thought would be ok on me, but when I pinned the cuffs in place they dragged on the floor- not a good look for winter trousers!  I had to chop off the hem turn of the cuffs & reposition them, but now I’ve shortened the paper pattern by the requisite amount so next time will be all good.  I really like the shape of the trousers on me, considering I normally go for wide swooshy ones!  But that style doesn’t work in the winter, I needed a more fitted, shorter style.  I will use this pattern again, but I have my eye on two others to try too.

DSC09948-1The fabric is from Croft Mill, a two tone tiny herringbone cotton chino-type fabric with no stretch.  It has great body and is well suited to the style of trouser I chose – but this is one of those fabrics that creases badly in the washing machine, and then leaves the evidence of that creasing in the loss of colour.  It’s a real shame because now the trousers look like they constantly need an iron.  I’ll leave it for a little while, but I feel I’m going to need to get the dye out, which will lose me those teeny tiny herringbones.

Cuffs & hip yoke pockets lined with grey satin
Cuffs & hip yoke pockets lined with grey satin

I bound the inner waistband edge with the left overs of the lilac bias binding from Daughter No2’s vintage jacket & used a grey satin for the pocket bags.  As I was in a rush I simply zig-zagged the seam allowances.  Not the most perfect finish, but it does the job.

DSC09958-1The top I completed this week, yesterday in fact.  It’s sort of my contribution towards the Sewcialists’ Scraptember challenge, even though it was only dreamt up & made now in early October. I had some left over black & white spot silk de chine form a blouse I’d made a few years ago and loved to bits.  Literally.  I wore it until it fell apart.  The fabric has such a fabulously luxurious feel and the way it flows and drapes while you wear it is just beautiful.  Anyway, I’d kept the bits, because they were big enough for something, just not an entire new something.  Then by chance I found more of the same stuff in Fred Winters in Stratford on Avon!  Perfect!  I bought a metre and immediately hatched a plan.

Self-drafted silk crepe de chine faux placket blouse
Self-drafted silk crepe de chine faux placket blouse

I wanted something similar to the original top, but also wanted to do a twist on a traditional placket.  My go-to length for sleeves is three-quarters and I do love the sleeve I developed for my Jungle January blouse.  I cut the sleeves, cuffs & neckbands from the silk I had left over and cut the front, back & placket from the new piece.

Close-up of the neck-band & faux placket
Close-up of the neck-band & faux placket

The collar is more of a neckband, and the placket more like a facing sewn on the wrong side & turned to the right side & topstitched in place.  The bust dart was moved to the underarm position & I took a little of the waist darts out in the side seam so it wasn’t too tent-like.  Construction was pretty straightforward, French seams throughout, double turned dipped at the back hem.  I used Gill Arnold’s fine sheer fusible interfacing on the outer neckband, placket & cuffs.  The interfacing was definitely needed on the placket to keep it under control for the turning under of the seam allowances!

DSC09968-1I’m in love with the result!  Ok, so maybe a thin light silk top is not really a practical make for October, but I could wear a vest top underneath for added warmth.  The biggest advantage is that it’s done! Another top that fits my requirements and uses the fabric in the boxes.  Even if it does mean I had to buy a little to complete the project.  And yes, its more spots 🙂  What can I say, I feel overwhelmed by most patterns, but checks, stripes & spots I can live with.  So far this year I’ve made 4 blouses with definite spots/circles & two with variations on the theme.  Oh, and one tee, not blogged.  There is still another silk satin in the stash box with my name on it – spotted, of course! We’ll have to see what I decide to make next but I have plans to make another two pairs of trousers.

I bought a stone coloured cotton twill & a gold-sand colour stretch cotton chino from Croft Mill fabrics earlier in the year for winter trousers & I’m thinking of using 118 from Burdastyle 08/2013 for the gold & 134 from Burdastyle 04/2012 for the stone.  Just to get them traced & toiled first…

These are all resulting from my work on the Wardrobe Architect project.  Have any of you been using yours much to further your wardrobes this year?