Sunday, 30 June 2013

Completed: Anise Jacket

Earlier this month I signed up for the Indie pattern sewalong hosted by Modern Vintage Cupcakes and the Curious Kiwi. I had originally intended to make two, yes two, Colette Peonies. I can normally make Colette patterns out of the packet with some grading out between the bust and the waist, and grading in from the waist to the hips. I made my usual changes and cut out the fabric. Guess what. The bodice doesn't fit. That will teach me not to make a toile of the bodice at the very least. 

Indie pattern month

Instead of wrestling with it I decided to put it away for another day and promptly decided to turn to another pattern from my 20:20 challenge *I will keep on track*. As I was putting away my purchases from the Birmingham meet up the navy suiting spoke to me. "I would make a great, lightweight Anise" it whispered. I was sure that I couldn't finish in time and looked for something else but all I could think about was a navy blue Anise, so I caved in and traced the pattern. 

Navy Anise front

Learning from my previous mistake, I made a toile. I'm pleased I did. My standard changes were too big as I've managed to lose half an inch around my waist meaning I have dropped a size. I really enjoyed making this jacket. I decided to take my time and to put a lot of work into the preparation. I get tempted to take shortcuts now and then when I want something to come together quickly but I consciously stopped myself cutting corners. I think it is the influence of my pattern drafting course coming through. The whole thing took just over a week as I steadily made progress each day. 

Navy Anise back

As with all the Colette patterns I have tried, it came together very easily even though it has a lot of pieces! I did feel that I was taken back to creating my Lady Grey as the jacket has three layers - fashion fabric, underlining and lining as well as interfacing. I had some horsehair canvas left over and used that as my interfacing and a cotton sheet became the underlining. I did have some problems though. The back bunches up a little, probably because I have a slight sway back but not enough to normally make changes. The collar refused to lay properly where it should and I had to sew it twice and press the hell out of where it joins the jacket before it looked vaguely wearable. My welt pockets aren't perfect but a very good attempt for a first time. I also had trouble setting the lining on one sleeve, it kept twisting as I stitched until I couldn't get my arm in! This meant additional hand sewing. There is a lot of hand sewing to make this jacket. I do love the finish of hand stitching but it a time stealer.

New sleeves

Speaking of sleeves, I changed the lining for them. My lining is made from a cotton with blue flowers that have a vintage feel that has been in my stash for ages. I needed something more slippery though to get my arms in and out easily. Out of my scraps I managed to find some pink polyester lining. I generally hate the feel of this lining, added to the fact it isn't breathable, and it doesn't make for a great relationship but this was the only thing I had to hand. I didn't want the pink to show at the cuffs so I chopped the pattern and made the lower part of the sleeve lining from the cotton. It works perfectly and if I ever fold my cuffs over (which is so likely to happen), you can see the pretty blue flowers!

Anise Jacket button

I couldn't be bothered didn't have time to make bound buttonholes but normal ones work well. I got these amazing buttons from Darn It and Stitch. Thanks Jo and Laura for talking me into getting them! 

British Grand Prix 2013

Earlier today I took my new jacket for a day out. We went to the British Grand Prix and this is the reason I look sunburnt in the photos - I am. I'll be truthful, Formula 1 isn't really my thing (it entered my life three and half years ago when I met Adam) but going to see a live race is great! It was my second and we were closer to the action this time meaning the noise levels were almost deafening. For those of you who have not been to a race, the noise of 22 F1 cars is like standing very close to about 20 pneumatic drills that are working very quickly with a range of pitch while standing in a wind tunnel. It is a great sound though! Here's a picture taken at the end of the day. It was way too hot to wear the jacket (hello summer!) but I popped it on for a couple of photos.

British Grand Prix

I have no idea who the random people are in the background and I promised I am not superimposed!  

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Pattern drafting - week 6

I'm late in posting this as it took a while to figure out how to share the massive amount of progress with you. Do you remember that I said I had a feeling that as soon as I started stitching the pieces together it would come together very quickly? Well, it has! 

But I'm getting ahead of myself, so let's back up to where I left off in week 5. Before we do, I apologise that this is a text heavy and photo light post - I just didn't think to take photos during this session but have tried to replicate where possible. 

I drafted the mini flared skirt. To do this, you need to trace the section of the block that forms the lower part of the dress and draw up three lines, equal distance apart, and then cut those lines to just before the top of the paper. You then spread the pieces by the amount you want the skirt to flare, in my case I add about 7cm between each strip. 

Flared skirt pattern

I cut this out and added it to the bottom of the lining. This lead to my first fitting and the good news is it fits, including over my hips, which is great as this is the area we were most worried about. 

Construction then commenced in ernest. I stitched the chiffon together at the centre back, stopping midway to allow for the zip and then stitched the side seams. The chiffon was pinned and basted to the lining and moved onto a body form. While it looked great, we realised that the lining had stretched a little in places, mainly under the bust. 

At this point, the top front bodice sections, the ones that had previously been underline, were added to see if it would bring some stability. I basted them into place and then tried it on. The fit is pretty close. There was too much fabric at the back, I have a slight sway back, not severe enough to normally make changes but it was noticeable here so we marked a new centre back line. The length was too much for me. Generally I don't wear dresses that fall below my knees, I can't really explain why but it is something to do with the feel, but this one felt different. My teacher then sat on the floor with her rulers and marked where the hem will be on the chiffon and then again on the lining, this one is higher as we need to add the skirt. It felt like a proper fitting session! Normally I don't hem this way as I find it really difficult to do all by myself. 

Hem removal

We took scissors to the new hems. The skirt was removed and the new hem lines on both the lining and the chiffon was cut, you can see the amount removed above. It felt so wrong but so right to do this. Anyone else get this feeling when you hack your items once you have sewn it together? By this time it home time and I walked away with a long list of things to do at home. 

Changes marked

From the photo you can see that we are stabilising and finishing the seams on the neckline using bias tape. We decided to add darts to the front, just under the bust. This will be really difficult as I have to merge them with the curved seam line to make sure I don't lose the shaping. I also need to reattach the skirt, prepare the bustier and get ready for adding the godets, if I get chance. The last bit is what worries me most as this means we're getting ready to put up to six slashes into the dress, eek! 

Technically the course has ended now but we'll be organising a few more sessions as most of us didn't finish. I have to say it was a little tough drafting a pattern and completing the dress in six weeks, perhaps that is why we didn't finish. But I've had a great time and it isn't a problem going to extra sessions. Hopefully it won't be too long before I can share the finished dress with you but I can't add the godets to the skirt, draft the sleeves and stitch in the bustier until these sessions start. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Make an ironing board cover

After all of the wonderful comments about the map fabric I bought in Birmingham, I thought I should step to it and replace the cover of our ironing board. Turns out the language on the fabric is German, amazing what you don't notice when you're so caught up with a fabric!

New Ironing Board cover

Our ironing board is HUGE and was in desperate need of a makeover. You can see the discolouration below which had seeped through to the polyurethane pad. I suspect this caused the discolouring as moisture can't escape through a non-natural fibre. I also had a feeling that one of the layers below the cover had split, or melted, and I was right, there was a rather large hole in the foam layer where it had tried to fuse itself to the metal frame. 

Old yucky ironing board cover

So why make my own? "It's only an ironing board cover!" I hear you say. But I have to look at that cover a lot when I'm sewing. Every now and then I would look for new covers and decide that all of them were not what I wanted. The range of offer was appalling in places! Turns out is rather simple to make your own.

What you need:
Cotton fabric as your top layer
Cotton muslin or similar (I used a cotton sheet)
100% cotton batting
Bias tape, enough to go around your fabric
String or elastic

Make sure that you have 100% cotton materials otherwise you won't be able to use the highest heat on your iron. I haven't supplied quantities as each ironing board is different. Measure the board's length and widest part, then add 7cm or so for each side to allow for the extra fabric hiding under the board. 

Step one
You need to create a pattern for your cover. Remove your current cover and see if there is a polyurethane pad included. If so, pin that to your fabric and add an extra 7cm before cutting. Do this for the cover, the muslin and batting. 

Using old cover as pattern guide

Step two
Create a sandwich with your layers in the following order, from bottom to top: muslin, batting, cover. Baste into place. If you have ever made a quilt you can understand that this is the most time consuming part as you ensure you don't get any creases or bumps!

Cover sandwich

Step three
Create your bias tape, if making your own. Open the tape and pin one edge to the raw edge of your sandwiched cover. Begin at the end where your elastic/string pulls tight. Machine sew all the way round. 

Stitching bias tape

Step four
Fold over the bias tape and stitch along the line you have just sewn, this will create a case for your string or elastic. Ensure that you leave a gap to insert the string/elastic. 

Bias tape gap

Step five
Using a safety pin, thread your elastic/string all the way round. Another way to do this, if you're feeling brave and using string (elastic tends to be too wide) is to encase the string as you pin the tape but be careful not to get it caught in the stitches. Remove your basting stitches.

Step six
Put your new cover onto your ironing board and pull the elastic/string until the cover is taught. Tie off with a knot/bow. 

Placing cover on board

Viola! You have a new ironing board cover. 

New ironing board cover - finished

And yes, I'm still very pleased that I went for the maps! 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Stay in touch

While I haven't used Google Reader before, a number of my readers do. Well, until 1st July at least, when the service is retired. 

I would love for you to stay and share my adventures so this is a quick reminder that you can follow me on Bloglovin' (here) or Feedly (here) and the links to both are on the side bar. 

If you haven't decided which reader to use here are the links to both to help you get started. On Bloglovin' to import your reading list from Google Reader follow the instructions on this page. For Feedly go here, log in using your Google account (you need to give them access for it to work) and then sync. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Gathering tip

One of the most common skills in sewing is knowing how to make even gathers. I love 
gathers but getting them to look even can be a challenge. Last night I discovered a neat trick to make this process easier. I'm going to start at the beginning in case there are people reading this who haven't gathered before. 

You should have marked your fabric with the gathering marks when you transferred the markings from your pattern where the area to be gathered is often marked by circles. They are the black x's on my fabric. 

Gathering marks

Next stitch between these marks. You need to use a long stitch length (I used 4 here) and sew two lines - one at 1/4" and one 3/8" in from the edge of your fabric. Make sure you leave long tails at both ends otherwise you won't be able to pull the fabric together. 

Gathering stitch lines

Keeping the tails free, pin your pieces of fabric together at the ends. Next, gather the excess fabric by pulling gently on the tails, one end at a time. You'll see the fabric gather among the stitches. 

Pulling gathers

Now for the tip. Place a pin where the tails begin (the red pins) and wrap the tail threads around them in a figure of eight. 

Securing tails using figure of eight

This will hold them neatly and securely while you move the excess fabric among the stitches until they are even. 

Even gathers

Continue to sew in your preferred manner by basting the gathers in place and then machine stitching or just machine stitch.

I'll definitely be using this every time I have to gather! 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Spring Sewing Swap

I don't think I mentioned that I signed up for the Spring Sewing Swap hosted by Kerry. It was my first time taking part and when I saw the post I knew that I had to take part immediately. I mean, who wouldn't want a parcel arriving with goodies that you know you'll love but will be a surprise at the same time?

I was paired up with Hazel at Disaster in a Dress. I hadn't come across Hazel's creations before - another excellent reason for signing up! I've been hooked on Hazel's love for interesting fabrics ever since. The idea of the swap is to buy sewing related items for your partner, up to £15 in value in 3 to 5 items. After a few weeks after we began sending emails a parcel arrived. Look at the pretty ribbons!

Spring Swap unwrapped

Inside contained some wonderful items. Two meters of this lovely print that is summery and a little different to what I normally use. 

Spring swap fabric

Hazel had included a zip, thread and buttons that would match - essentially all the things I need to make an item. How great is that? I'm tempted to make a top out of this but have yet to decide on the pattern. I love the lace as well and will be saving that for the perfect project. 

Spring Swap notions

And then I found these: vintage patterns from Hazel's collection. They aren't too far off my size so will definitely try them, they have been added to the list of things to make. 

Butterick 4818
Butterick 4795

I'm really pleased with my goodies. Thanks Hazel for choosing so well and to Kerry for hosting. 

Monday, 17 June 2013

Birmingham Meet up

Well, I had a busy weekend that was spent north of Oxford in Birmingham and then Sheffield. You'll only want to know about the Birmingham part I'm sure, as I went on my first ever blogger meet up. If you have been thinking about joining one, go - it was so much fun!

New Ironing Board cover

We all gathered at Birmingham New Street Station and were presented with a rosette, hand crafted of course! It was such a nice start to the day. First stop was Barry's Fabric Superstore. It was a little overwhelming at first as there are fabrics everywhere you look. I didn't get any photos but if you pop across to Marie's post you can see what I mean. I was reasonably restrained here, buying fabric for a lining replacement, a new ironing board cover (above) and a top. 


Lunch at Cafe Soya was delicious and much needed. As we left Barry's for the short walk to the restaurant the heavens opened and we got completely soaked. It rained so hard that I thought it was hailing at one point! I enjoyed chatting away over lunch about all things sewing and slowly drying out. Before I knew it, the swap was upon us. Wow, there was a lot to choose from! I took a couple of pieces of fabric and a couple of patterns and swapped them for two smaller pieces of fabric. 



Time for more shopping! We had an hour in the rag market and I wasn't so restrained. I found suiting fabric for £2.50-£3 per metre and snaffled them up in a variety of colours. The green will become shorts and the others could be trousers, skirts or jackets. I love having the freedom to choose! 

Suiting fabrics

I also picked up this beautiful eyelet which I'll pair up with a deep purple silk habotai to make a dress, possibly a ceylon. What do you think?

White Eyelet

Nearly all of my new buys have been washed and I'll have to add them to my newly organised stash - which has grown rather a lot more than I anticipated! I also have new blogs to explore and will be adding them to my reader shortly. Thanks again to Kat, Marie and Claire for organising such a fantastic day. I'll definitely be signing up for other meets. 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Bringing a bit of order: part 2

I've been telling everyone recently that I don't have a large fabric stash. However, if you ask my boyfriend he would probably tell you differently (I don't know for sure, I haven't asked!). Fabric seems to be everywhere in the flat. I can be a little lazy short of time once I have completed a project and the call of the next one is more overwhelming than the need to tidy. However, with the flat "purge" going on, of which I said nothing is safe, it was time to tackle how I store my fabric. 

Armed with a cup of coffee and The Apprentice on BBC iPlayer I brought everything together:

Untidy mess of fabric

I then divided it all up into different piles: "stash fabric" which is anything that is big enough to make some from whether an item of clothing or a bag of some sort, scraps, UFOs (unfinished objects) and toile making material. 

My stash part 1
Stash part one
I was surprised by the "stash fabric". There is more there then I realised although a lot of it is left over fabric from other projects. None of these sprang to mind before when I thought about how much I owned. I came to realise how much was there when I decided to catalogue it. Call me a geek but if you're going to get organised then you might as well do it properly. A simple table will now help me make decisions on what fabric to use with which pattern. I listed the type of fabric, colour, amount (I measured every piece but not the scraps obviously) and any pre-treatment including temperature washed at if applicable. I can only access this from home which is a little annoying. Anyone know of any apps that could help here? 

My stash part 2
Stash part two. Almost all from previous projects.
I wasn't so surprised to see the pile of scraps growing and growing. I'm not one to keep every little piece, if I can't see what use it will be in the future I throw it out. I have a few thoughts on what to do with this lot. 

Scrap box

My UFO pile is pretty big. I need to decide whether to carry on with them or try to use them for something else. I have changed shape since cutting a lot of these out so I'm not sure they will fit.  

Some of the UFOs

I also have a growing pile of items that should be refashioned. Most of them are Adam's old work shirts. I can see more feminine shirts from some of them, probably not skirts as the grey ones are made from a lightweight cotton. I can probably rework the white ones for him as I can remove the company name by taking away the pocket but not the grey ones - they are definitely mine! 

Refashion items

Two hours later and everything was put away neatly. I've decided to make a few bags to keep the items in as I'd rather look at pretty bags instead of plastics ones. Luckily, I have a lot of the purple fabric with embroidered squares which would work perfectly! I just need to find the time to make them... I don't have a sewing room but this process definitely makes me want one even more. I have to store all of my fabric under my bed, like a young child stores their toys. At least I have managed to find a dedicated storage space, even if it is awkward to get to - I had to stand in the wardrobe to get this shot!

Under the bed storage

What storage systems or solutions do you have?

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Pattern drafting - week 5

I feel like progress is finally being made! I walked into the class with the dress practically as I had left it last week, in pieces and without the lining being cut out, as I didn't get chance over the weekend to baste everything together. That's not quite true, I did manage to underline the top front pieces. They are the only pieces being underlined. I'm not sure why but I'm enjoying watching this process unfold and hope for that lightbulb moment. But does anyone know why you would underline just two pieces and not the rest? 

Underlined piece

Last night I cut out the lining and was rather relieved that I didn't do it at home as I learnt a nifty trick. The top layer of silk chiffon will be made of the many pieces and thus have a number of seam lines. The silk lining, however, will have less seams but keep the same shape. How? We laid the pattern pieces together and pinned them along the seam lines and then cut out. This makes for a lot smoother and more comfortable lining! I also shortened the length as we will be making a slightly flared skirt to go at the bottom. 

Overlapping pattern

I stitched the side seams using a small zig zag stitch as there is some stretch in the silk. I then put this aside and basted the chiffon together. This took a while as the fabric is slippery and trying to match notches (or balance marks, I also learned) at the edges isn't so straightforward. After much pinning with my new silk pins (they come highly recommended) I eventually had the pieces held securely in place. 

Then the fun really began. I used an overlocker for the first time! I had been waiting to try one for a long time. The lining edges were fraying very badly and overlocking seemed to be the most logical way to finish the seams. I watched a quick demonstration and then had a go with the other seam. I have to say, my seam wasn't as neat as the other but it wasn't bad for a first go! And it is something that I definitely want to try again. It seems that I will at some point soon as I had to test the thread colour for overlocking the chiffon. Did anyone else raise an eyebrow at this? Turns out it works fine! 

My first overlocked seam

I have another long weekend (hooray!) I will be stitching up the chiffon and need to draft the pattern for the flared skirt and cut that out in the lining. I'll also be going on my first blogger meet up in Birmingham which I'm really looking forward to. I've been wanting to go on one since seeing the epic London meet up! 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

On my sewing table

I missed a post at the weekend as I've been busy. Here's what is on my sewing table. None of them are finished!

Colette Sorbetto in progress

Colette Peony in progress

The dress in progress

And a cute alert...

A surprise in progress

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Pattern drafting - week 4

Well, last night's course went in a flash but I was much, much happier. Before I had even put my bag down my teacher announced to everyone that she had been working on my bust! "Um, thanks, I think" I muttered to the giggles of the others. Turns out she had gone away and created two pieces of my pattern to make this:

Bustier toile

It almost fits perfectly! I can't believe she made this just based on my measurements and observing my shape. She never fails to amaze me. That's years of experience for you. So no need to worry about drafting that part of the pattern! 

After saying we had to go back to the block and start again, it turns out we didn't. Hooray! Instead we made the changes on the pattern draft and I only had to retrace two pieces. The front dart was extended. In pattern piece number 1 we added two small darts which were pivoted to remove the excess fabric. I couldn't work out how to pivot out three darts on this piece so I traced it with all three and then folded the darts. The shoulder seam was brought forward on the front by 1.5cm and the back was extended by the same amount. The neck line was reduced by 1.5cm on each side and this change should make the fit much closer to the original dress. We also marked the spot where the godets will be in the skirt. We're working a cascade effect here with some higher than the others, again we're staying true to the original design. 

Revised pattern draft

This all took less than half the class and before I knew it I was straightening the silk chiffon to get it ready to cut. This took forever as it comes with all the standard problems that slippery fabrics have. I pinned the selvedges together to ensure it wouldn't move too much and then laid out the pieces. Getting the pieces on grain was much easier than I anticipated though, mainly because the longest part was matched to the selvedge - the chiffon has a great selvedge that can be used in the seam allowance. I also took Hazel's advice and pinned and pinned to prevent further movement. Going slowly I managed to cut some reasonably clean lines. I would have liked to have tried cutting between tissue paper but that's a trick to try next time. I haven't cut the bustier or the godets yet. 

Silk Chiffon with cream silk lining

I'll be spending this weekend basting the pieces together and beginning to write out the instructions for making it. I also need to hand wash the three metres of lining fabric. I managed to find a cream silk which brings out the colours in the chiffon beautifully. I'm running out of chiffon but luckily the supply hasn't run dry and I'll be picking up some more next week. There is still a lot more to do, including working out how the lining will be shaped to make the perfect fit, but I don't feel quite so far behind now! 


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