Beat the Winter Blues Tea

Soooo – considering I’m not a dress person, I have made a second Tea House Dress!!  The first one is the pretty, summer party version, you know the type, only drinks posh edlerflower spritzers and eats cucumber sandwiches – with no crusts.  This dress is very different.  This one drinks tea and eats whatever she can find in the fridge, every day!  I think it’s going to be a bit of a uniform of sorts!

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The Tea House Dress by Sew House Seven

So, the fabric was purchased (yup, not even from the stash!!) from a local hospice charity shop, 3m for £7.50!  It was marked in the selvedge as Made in England, worsted wool.  The ground is blue, with black, making teeny tiny houndstooths.  They’re set within a brighter blue windowpane check.  It’s a good weight suiting fabric, and soft.  I threw it into the washing machine when I got it home from the charity shop on a woollen cycle with Ecover liquid.  Washing hasn’t changed the texture or finish of the fabric at all, which is great as this will be worn a lot so will need to get used to being in the washing machine!

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I decided to make the shorter version of the dress this time, planning to wear it through the cooler weather with leggings or tights, booots/trainers and a long sleeved tee or even a thin jumper underneath.  I also decided to do a slight pattern alteration.  I lengthened the bodice along the lenthen/shorten lines by 2cm.  I felt that I needed more depth over the bust, that the ties could easily be 2cm lower down and still work to give the illusion of a waist!

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I tried to make sure all the holizontal lines would line up around the body, and this worked a treat on the skirt and pocket pieces!  Not so good on the bodice…  This is because I totally forgot about stripe placement when pinning and sewing the princess seams…  It wouldn’t be that obvious if they were the same on each side, but I decided I could live with it.  Everything else worked a treat, so this would do.  I overlocked all the raw edges before sewing because this stuff frayed quite badly.  I was really pleased with the stripes on the pockets though.  Using the alternative grain marked on the pieces, I made sure the stripes would be aligned and it worked!  I haven’t got a photo where I haven’t got my hand stuffed in the pocket where you could see, but both vertical and horizontal stripes line up!  Brilliant!

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Matching those stripes like a boss!

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Now, I know that last dress got loads of love, it’s really pretty and I can’t wait for next summer to wear it, cocktails and nibbles, the works.  But this dress.  I LOVE IT!  I really do, I recon it will be a good alternative to jeans.  I can see this getting a lot of use, and now I’m thinking maybe a lightweight denim would be very nice!  I haven’t seen many winter weight Tea House Dresses online, has anyone made one?  What I will need though, is a jumper/jacket/coat that will cope with the size of these sleeves.  They’re a wee bit big for what I have already…

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I’m going to live in this dress this winter!

2 for 1 jacket update

While I was “away” making curtains and doing alterations and making nice things for other people, this project was burning a hole in the back of my mind!  Now the new year is here, the kids are back at school and making for others has quietened down a bit, I can finally get cracking again.  I decided to track the progress of this jacket, to show the internal workings of speed tailoring a jacket.

First things first, if you have a wool or wool blend fabric, you need to prepare it.  During the making the fabric will be subject to a lot of heat and steam, and it will inevitably shrink.  There are different ways of going about this.  Usually I cut a  10x10cm piece, zigzag or overlock the edges and pop into a basin of warm water.  If the water doesn’t get absorbed, there is a coating on the fabric, and it will need to be dry cleaned.  If water is absorbed, pop it in the washing machine on a cool, woolens or handwash cycle.  Then check it, has it shrunk?  Has the finish/feel of the fabric changed?  Has the colour run?  If the answer is yes to any of these, dry clean only!  For preparation you will need to steam this fabric.  If not, you can wash it.  Now some fabrics can be shoved in the machine, and others need a different approach.  (Most of the wool I buy gets the machine wash.)

I have a cashmere that is definitely not going in the machine.   I dampened down 2 double flat sheets (you could use old duvet covers) and sandwiched the wool between them.  I rolled the whole lot up like a Swiss Roll and left for the damp to get through the wool.  Then opened it up and draped over a balustrade/handrail.  If you have to use the washline, first cover the wire with a towel, and if possible, drape over two lines, not just one.  Leave to dry, then dry iron to remove creases.  Iron on the wrong side, and check for any imperfections.  Mark these so you can avoid the area when laying out the pattern pieces.

It really is worth taking time when preparing wool for a jacket.  The fabric is rarely cheap, and considering the amount of time you will take to put the item together, it will be pretty soul-destroying to have it go wrong.

Your next job is the interfacing.  I use a speed tailoring jacket pack that I get from Gill Arnold.  On this particular wool I have used her Weft insertion on the jacket shell and the fine sheer fusible on the facings.  I have also used some iron on canvas, and some non-iron canvas.  I interfaced the “T-zone” and all the hem edges with the weft insertion.  This covers all the areas of the jacket that are put under strain or will be sat on and crinkled!  Then I made up the fronts and back.

The next step was to apply a fusible cotton tape to the front seam, this prevents stretching on the front seam.  It is applied about 5mm in from the fabric edge and if you have a curve at the bottom, you will need to snip into it to take the corner.  Once that was done, I made the canvas chest pieces.  This is done to plump out the hollow in the chest that women have just below the shoulder.  You will need the non-iron canvas and some weft insertion for this part, and each pattern needs a different shape chest piece.

The pieces are cut on the bias.  The weft insertion interfacing is a different size to the canvas.  It is 1cm larger on the armhole side, and 2.5cm larger on the neckline side.  Fuse the canvas to the weft insertion, taking care not to attach the overlapping interfacing to anything.  Trim the top corners, cut a box 1×2.5cm and 2.5×2.5cm.  Place the chest piece on the jacket front with the armhole side on the edge of the fabric and fuse the overlapping interfacing to the jacket on both sides.

Preparing the canvas chest piece
Chest piece fused in place
Taped breakline

Next fuse cotton tape to the breakline of the rever.  This helps the rever to fall in the right place, and to stay there!  There is no need for padstitching the create the fall. Now staystitch the neckline on the facings, jacket front and back.

Once that is done, pin on the facing.  The facing is between 2.5mm and 5mm bigger/wider than the front on the rever up to the breakpoint only.  This is to accommodate the turn of cloth.  You don’t want to see the seamline or any of the fabric from the front rever peaking out.  The fabric needs to be manipulated carefully so you don’t get any puckering, pinch the excess at the corner and pin the “blister”.

Sew the front facing on from the podmark for the collar join to the hem.  Snip the seam allowance at an angle at the breakpoint and layer the seams.  Trim both of the seam allowances down by 5mm.  Then trim the seam allowance of the front facing by a further 5mm.  The rever needs to be trimmed too, but trim the front by a further 5mm, and not the facing.  Press the seams open and then  flat.  Ensure you roll the fabric when steaming so there is no seamline showing.

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Seam layering on front and facing front

Now for the shoulder seams.  Pin the canvas away from the shoulder line and pin the fronts to the back.  Stitch and press open over a sleeve roll.  Remove the pins from the canvas and let it extend past the seamline onto the back.  Turn the right way round and put your hand under the shoulder seam.  Pin along the seamline, going through all the jacket layers as well as the canvas.  Turn to the inside and pin the back seam allowance to the canvas.  remove the pins from the outside and then stitch the canvas to the seam allowance, close to the shoulder seam line.

Canvas pinned back, shoulder seam sewn and pressed open
Canvas extended over back seam allowance and pinned from right side
Canvas stitched to seam allowance, close to original seamline

So that’s the body of the jacket, ready for the collar and then the sleeves.  Happy sewing until next time!

Coats & Jackets

After finishing the cushions the other day I am really inspired to get going and finish the jacket and coat I started the patterns for last month.  However – Daughter no 2 and Husband and I went into Birmingham on Friday….  A quick visit to the Fancy Silk Store and a much longer visit to the Bullring has resulted in more fabric and more ideas!

Caramel wool

I got a lovely piece of caramel coloured wool (only £12.99/m!) to make some carrot leg trousers for me – I do need to make sure the style works on me first though!  I also got a caramel and blue plaid – daughter no 2 fancies a jacket…

Plaid for jacket

But – a pop into the French Connection store put something else in the front of the queue…  She found this coat, and can I please make one of these???

Coat from French Connection

It’s double breasted, collarless and has an interesting skirt.  The back doesn’t connect to the front at the side, but further forward.  This accommodates in-seam pockets pretty well. It also has bound buttonholes, but I didn’t think the opening on the facing side was done very well – it wasn’t very “City & Guilds”!!  😀

French Connection coat

Of course, I don’t have fabric for it now either, so I may have to force myself to go shopping – again!  😀

We also slipped into the Waterstones in the Pallisades.  The best part of the shop is right at the very top – 4th floor- in the Book Garden.  Daughter no 2 and I collected up a pile of craft, fabric and cookbooks and snuggled into the leather seats.  About an hour later we had whittled the pile down to three that had to come home with us.  All told it was a productive day!