Three Strikes…

Three strikes and I want more!  This is my third Longley Cardi by Wendy Ward, previous versions here.  I had in mind to make a stripe version of this cardi for a while, I pictured wide stripes in either a sturdy or drapey jersey.  This particular stripe jersey is from Ditto Fabrics, the last of the pieces I binge-bought back in January!

I saw the picture, registered the size of the stripe and added 2.5m pretty much immediately to the basket.  I didn’t read any further.  You know what’s coming….

Collage stripe longley
Wendy Ward Longley Cardigan

So when you don’t order samples and don’t read the fabric description properly, sometimes the fabric that arrives is a little bit of a surprise!  The stripes run the length of the fabric, opposite to what I thought they’d be.  I was expecting your typical viscose jersey, in feel and handle.  What came felt rather different.  It’s described as having a “silky feel”.  To be honest, when it came I would have described it as full on polyester.  So  procrastinated, wasn’t even sure I liked it.

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One thing I really don’t like is waste, and not using this fabric felt a whole heap like wasting.  So I just got on with it.  I wanted the stripes to line up going up and down across the bands, so I made sure to cut the hem and neck bands very carefully to line up with the back piece on the fold.  I couldn’t get the front band stripes to match both the back and front, and as the front has lots of drape it was decided it would be more forgiving to non-matching.

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Matching stripes!

After all the kerfuffle and uncertainty, I’ve decided I do rather like this cardi, stripes, fabric, the lot.  It counts towards my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe and being a staple blue and white, will go with pretty much everything already made and those pieces yet to be sewn.

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Birgitte Tee, Birkin Flares & Longley Cardi. Silver trainers from La Redoute.

I like the way the stripes change with the drape on the front, horizontal stripes on the front neck band contrasting with vertical stripes on the sleeves.  It’s a more interesting cardigan than I thought it was going to be!  No bad thing there.  So it’s a success in the end, have you had doubts about a project, only to have it turn out ok on the day?

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!

 

Packing for the Jungle

Happy New Year!!  What do you mean, that was last week…

Already I am behind on catching up on blog posts to read, patterns to make & fabrics to drool over!  If 2014 has the speed of 2013, I’m done for!  Needless to say, I really don’t want to be late for the Jungle.  Yup, if you’ve been more out of the loop than I, Jungle January is back on, hosted as ever by the indomitable AnneB from Pretty Grievances.  See her first round-up post here.

This time I’m making something for me!  I did a bit of research back in December & found two rather cool pieces from Fabric Godmother.  This chiffon is really pretty, as is the viscose leopard print.  However, I opted for the slightly less expensive option.  Ditto Fabrics have a leopard print viscose with a more monochrome colourway at £7.99/m, it will suit me better than the options with brown in them.  Naturally I didn’t just get the viscose.  I also bought the very last bit of a caramel linen blend for a new pair of summer trousers.

Caramel linen blend & leopard print viscose from Ditto Fabrics
Caramel linen blend & leopard print viscose from Ditto Fabrics

Now all I need is a pattern.  I really want to pattern cut something, I haven’t done any since about June last year, distracted as I have been with vintage sewing patterns!  Once I’d ordered the fabric I started thinking of something drapey, possibly Pattern Magic inspired.  But I kept coming back to the oversized shirt I’d made for daughter No2 last year, the shirt I made her for Christmas and the waist details common on 40s & 50s blouses.  The realisation that I really wanted a “normal” blouse with a vintage hint was a relief!

Until last night however, I couldn’t decide on a normal collar or a bow-tie of some sort.  I’m going to compromise.  I will make the blouse with a proper collar & stand and will also make a sort of neck-tie.  Here’s a rough sketch of what I’m thinking so far.

Blouse sketch with vintage influences
Blouse sketch with vintage influences

Now all I have to do is make the time to draft the pattern.  I’ve been wanting to do a top with a sleeve & yoke in one for a while.  The adaptations in Natalie Bray’s “More Dress Pattern Designing” are what I’ll be using.  Fingers crossed it all goes without a hitch.  If you’re joining us in the jungle, how are you getting on?

Breaking News…..

I have an Etsy shop!!!!  😀  YAY!!

I finally cracked.  I am going to make the vintage patterns in my boxes pay for their keep, & new additions!  Daughter No2 & I had a chat regarding all these pretty patterns, and how elegant the fashions are/were “back in then”.  It seems a shame we have lost some of that, and I love making beautiful things.  So it was decided to start making the patterns I have into clothes, making them in suitable fabrics & with the finishes they would have had if made by a seamstress when the patterns were new.

And so my shop was launched on the 28th June, with the first two items being these;

Sheath dress from vintage Butterick pattern in blue floral cotton poplin
Sheath dress from vintage Butterick pattern in blue floral cotton poplin
1950 vintage Butterick jacket in pistachio drill
1950 vintage Butterick jacket in pistachio drill

The fabric for the dress was sourced from Croft Mill, and boy do they ship quickly!  I placed the order online on the Thursday night, by Saturday lunchtime it and the order made on Friday morning from Ditto Fabrics had arrived!  This green pistachio cotton drill is fabulous!  Ditto also have it in a dusky pink, I may just have to have some!

So, in addition to sewing Burdastyle patterns for the girls, and pattern cutting goodies for all of us, trying to find time to fulfill my Sewlutions commitment (still have to find it, to be honest!) & sell our house, I am now making gorgeous dresses, jackets, etc for selling on Etsy!  I think I’m a happy bunny!  😀

I do have some projects to add here, but they can wait for another post…..  Other good news is that no-one coming to view our house has been injured due to a fabric avalanche accident.  Yet.

Oh – aaannnddd      –      the dream house that was snatched from under our noses is back on the market!  The buyers pulled out at the last minute, so now all we need is to sell this one!  Anyone for a 3 bedroom townhouse in a rural market town in Warwickshire????

Giraffe in the Jungle!

Whoop!  The postie really suprised me this afternoon by delivering not only the lavender I ordered last weekend and a letter excusing me from jury service, but the long awaited fabric samples from Ditto Fabrics as well!  😀  Yes, samples – plural….

Sample swatches from Ditto Fabrics
Sample swatches from Ditto Fabrics

Did you really think I’d only ask for the giraffe print??  There’s a oh-so-pretty spotty twill that’s perfect for a pair of 60’s capri pants for Daughter No2 to wear with the giraffe print jacket, a grey wool that would make a fab pair of trousers for me, and a zebra print cotton that was the fall-back should the giraffe print not be up to scratch.  And the stripe cotton…  that’s for me too.  No idea what to make from it, but I’m having some! So the issue with the giraffe fabric when I saw the picture on Ditto’s site was, will it be too fluffy..

Giraffe print - slightly fluffy, but just enough.
Giraffe print – slightly fluffy, but just enough.

Answer – nope!  It’s just right.  There is a very short pile that works very well, so we are going ahead, full steam!  Look out for us in the jungle pretty soon!  😀  Here’s a reminder of the jacket:

Sketch for 60's style swing jacket with contrast binding and bound buttonholes
Sketch for 60’s style swing jacket with contrast binding and bound buttonholes
Jacket in the giraffe and capri pants in the spot
Jacket in the giraffe and capri pants in the spots

And boy am I glad I don’t have to do jury service for the next two weeks!  Apparently there were too many people who filled in their forms and returned them to the summoning officer, so they had too many.  It’s quite nice to know there are plenty of civic minded people out there.

Jungle January!!!

Well here it is, January 2013.  Some said we wouldn’t make it to Christmas, but what did the Mayans know??  Happy New Year everybody!  I guess I should be listing my “new” resolutions, going over the good and bad makes of the past year, but that will have to wait until later.  The news of the day is definitely Pretty Grievances‘ Jungle January.

Dangerously Stylish!
Dangerously Stylish!

The idea is simply to make something ravishing with an animal print fabric.  Now generally I don’t do animal print, and almost certainly not fur, the stuff gets everywhere!  I wanted to join in, but wasn’t sure what to do exactly.  Cue a browse on Ditto Fabrics‘ website.  I found this:

Giraffe print!
Giraffe print!

Now I can see a sort of 60’s style cropped swing-coat for Daughter no 2 here, think turquoise lining, or emerald, or even fucshia pink!  I have ordered a sample, which should arrive pretty pronto, knowing the service from Ditto.  I really hope it’s not too fluffy, because I think this could really work!  😀

Look out January, the animals are on the loose!

Marching On

Brr, it’s been a cold week!  Snow last night falling on unmelted snow from last weekend has made for a pretty countryside.  But, not good for going outside to take photos of finished work!  On top of the cold, it has also been a different week.  Our most beloved kitty cat passed away on Saturday after being quite unwell, and I cannot get used to the emptyness of the house now that he has gone.  I am without his company as I sew, even if his idea of the best sleeping places wasn’t quite what I would have had in mind!

The best place for a cat to sleep - on my fabric and patterns!

Anyway, life for the rest of us goes on, and we definitely plan to have another fluffy family member soon!  In the meantime I have got on with another couple of projects.  I had some fabulous double jersey from Ditto in Brighton – these guys have some fab fabric, and have very nearly been the cause of me breaking a New Year’s resolution.  I had no idea what I was going to make with it when I bought it, I just had to get it while it was still available, and I figured inspiration would come later.

The fabric is great, but quite bulky, so many of the ideas were quashed.  It doesn’t do multiple pleats or tucks, definitely no gathers either.  So I thought something pared down with a detail in a contrast fabric would do quite nicely.

Jersey Dress

I ran up a toile for a two piece dress, and then coverted it for stretch fabric.  This means taking out a lot of the ease, which is not needed in stretch garments.  Toiling the stretch pattern was pretty simple, but as I didn’t have a fabric to toile in that was similar in weight to the jersey it was a bit of a flyer!  There were a few adjustments to make, but on the whole I had figured the fitting would have to be done on the garment itself.  So out came the fabric and on went the pattern pieces.  Well – some of the pattern pieces.

I had purchased 1.5m – plenty, I thought.  Nope!  Although the pattern was pretty simple, the sleeve is a bell shape and needed some space, and the fabric wasn’t as wide as I was counting on so, not enough!  AArgh!!  Thank goodness Ditto are quick off the mark with their first class postage!  And double thank goodness that there was still some of the jersey in stock!  I ordered online and only had to wait one day for an extra 70cm to arrive so I could cut the back skirt.  Thank you Ditto Fabric!!  😀

I used my overlocker on this project.  It went together like a dream, the only issue I had was the ruffle contrast.  I had started off with a black silk chiffon but it wouldn’t play ball.  As the ruffle got narrower it stood up on end, not quite the look I was going for!  So off it came and I rumaged around in my boxes for something else.  I discovered some light-weight black jersey that has done the job much better.  I used a rolled hem on all the edges, pulling slightly to get a more ruffled look, which disappeared the first time I ironed them.  :s

For fitting I ended up taking in quite a bit more on the sides, and shaping the back seam much more than I had expected to.  I do like the finished article, it is quite warm (needs a long-sleeved t-shirt in this cold though) and my favourite parts are the sleeves.  Definitely doing them again!  The only time I used my sewing machine was for the twin needle hems.

The flower is one I made using this tutorial from Wise Craft, it is such a fabulous little thing, I have made loads over the last few years.   So, photos.  I will get some done this weekend, and hopefully have the next project finished too!  Here’s a sneak peek…

Blouse with oversized polo placket