Abstract in Watercolour

Abstract in Watercolour  - self drafted silk top.
Abstract in Watercolour – self drafted silk top.

How to start a blog post almost two whole months after the last one, especially when it was full of positivity & promises of action..  Well, something is better than nothing I guess, so here goes with the first project I’ve actually managed to get photographed this year!  I bought loads of pretty fabrics just after Christmas and found the most gorgeous print silk at Croft Mill Fabrics.  The colours I liked, the print I thought I could deal with, so I swiftly added 2m to my basket and sat back and waited for it to be delivered.  I was not disappointed.  The fabric is even better in real life than the photos – the print looks so very much as if a watercolour artist has created a fabulous abstract with his/her favourite colours and it has a beautiful drape.  It’s not a satin so was very easy to sew with.

The hem is slightly longer in the back, curved like a shirt hem.
The hem is slightly longer in the back, curved like a shirt hem.

I decided to use a self drafted pattern I’d used for silk before, this polka dot crepe de chine.  It took me a while to make, simply because I had to find the time with all my other commitments.  This week though, was crunch time.  I’d dedicated a day at home to “getting things done” and one of those things was to finish the top!  It’s all French seamed inside, as you’d expect with a gorgeous fine fabric.

Faux placket detail
Faux placket detail

The faux placket (facing on the outside that looks interesting) was easier to get right with crisp edges than the last one, slight variations in the silks I suppose.  I love this pattern, and the print.  Colours and print, how unlike me!  I sort of wish I’d got more, but maybe I’ll take a second look at the other colourways instead, as this particular one is all sold out – I have a feeling I may have got the last of it!

abstract 3I suppose I ought to tell you I spent hours making sure the pattern was matching across the side seams and sleeves, but I didn’t.  I thought about it for about 5 minutes and decided life was too short!  By happy coincidence things worked out just fine!

abstract 5Next to make is a Day to Night Drape Top by Maria Denmark for Daughter No2, the fabric from Kat as part of the Sabretooth Swap organised by Anne.  I have decided to make her a pencil skirt to go with the top, using the pattern for the plaid skirt I finished in November.  It should all go together quite quickly (famous last words!) so maybe by the end of today I’d have finished two projects!  *shhh, don’t jinx it…

Can you put an invisible zip into a French seamed seam? Of course you can!

This was a question posed on twitter last week, and I replied yes, you can, but it’s hard to convey just how to get it done well in 140 characters.  So while I was making up a Gabriola for Daughter No2 in chiffon, I thought I’d photograph the process of inserting the invisible zip with a French seam.  Strapped in?  Here goes!

First of all, stabilise and support the fabric to carry the zip.  If you’re using a French seam in your fabric, chances are it’s fine, soft and not very strong.  I used a 3cm wide strip of a fine sheer polyester fusible.  You can buy the same interfacings that I use from Gill Arnold via the post.  Then sew in the zip as you usually would.  Once it’s in, the fun can begin.

Stabilise the area behind the zip & insert as normal.
Stabilise the area behind the zip & insert as normal.

Snip the seam to the zip stop mark or the base of the zip stitching.  Make sure you do not snip past the limit of the seam allowance, or you’ll be in trouble later.

snip, snip, snip!
snip, snip, snip!

Now you can align the seam edges together, with wrong sides together and sew the first part of the French seam, from the hem up to the snip.  Trim that 1cm seam down to just under 5mm, neatly.  Press to one side and turn the fabric over to enclose the raw edges and sew the remaining 5mm of the French seam.  Work from the hem up to the zip stop and sew as far as you can with the machine.

Sew the French seam from the hem up to the zip
Sew the French seam from the hem up to the zip

The last part of the French seam needs to come as close to the zip stitching as possible, without distorting the seam.  You will probably have a gap of at least 5mm.  This isn’t a problem, you’ll stitch that shut from the outside by hand.

Finishing off the seam & zip
Finishing off the seam & zip

I use a ladder stitch to close the hole, going up and down the ladder a couple of times to make sure the stitching is strong enough to survive Daughter No2 yanking the zip down too hard!

The finished zip & French seam from the right side.
The finished zip & French seam from the right side.

I hope that helps anyone wanting to use a French seam and invisible zip.  It’s a technique I’ve used a lot and it seems to work fairly well for me.  I’ve just about finished the skirt now, just waiting to see how much of the hem needs to be chopped to make it even.  I am hoping to be able to submit it and a Renfrew for The Monthly Stitch’s Indie Fan Girl category in Indie Pattern Month.  If I get the hem sorted in time & I’m happy with it, look out for it to vote!  🙂