Saturday, 26 October 2013

On my sewing table

This weekend is a rare weekend. The only thing I have to do is sew. Actually scrap that, the only thing I must do is sew. I'm hoping to be able to share the full details with you very soon but here are a few photos of the chaos creativity going on:

IMG_2908

Weekend sewing

Weekend sewing

Weekend sewing

Weekend sewing

Weekend sewing
What's on your sewing table?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Completed: Beating the Winter Blues Cami dress

I'm so excited to share this make with you. I'm hoping you have all seen the Cami dress by Pauline Alice. As soon as I saw this pattern I knew it wouldn't be long before I made it but I just needed to find the right fabric. I debated about using a solid purple that is in my stash but then I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show with Kelly and Vairë Gwîr and found this wonderful fabric. I knew immediately it would be right for the Cami.

Beating the Winter Blues Cami

I made a quick toile of the bodice to check the fit after grading out a size from the bust to waist. I was worried about the fit as I've never been able to wear a rtw shirt without experiencing gaping. It fit reasonably well but I noticed that the front was higher than the back and decided to try my first full bust adjustment. Like many of my sewing experiences recently, I'm not sure why I hadn't done one before. It made the world of difference. I do wonder if I made it a little too big but as I won't wear the dress buttoned all the way up I didn't bother to tweak it. I'll spend a little more time perfecting the fit for my bodice though. As I had to add quite a lot I added extra darts at the bust. 

Beating the Winter Blues Cami

I was desperately hoping that the construction of this would be easier than my skirt. To my immense relief it was. Partly because the cotton was a dream to work with but mostly because the construction is logical and the steps are easy to follow. I whipped up this dress in two evenings. I thought the collar would be the hardest part but it was quite simple. I did turn to Pauline's sewalong here to make sure I did right. I have to show you my top stitching. It is the best top stitching I've done. Ever. I was starting to believe that accurate, neat top stitching was beyond me but something clicked last night. 

Beating the Winter Blues Cami

The pattern is designed with a reasonably full skirt made from two rectangles. It calls for the rectangles to be 39.4" wide. I decided to make it even fuller and went with the whole width of my fabric, about 44". I love the skirt so much, as demonstrated by my cheesy grin below! 

Beating the Winter Blues Cami

To make the dress a little more winter friendly I chose the long sleeve version. The button holes were made without a hitch and I chose some interesting buttons from my red button pot (yes, I have coloured coded my button collection). The left side closes with a regular zip.   

The colours are reasonably accurately in the photos. The blue is rather bright and the flowers are red, pale pink and burgundy. I wore this to work today as I just couldn't resist showing off the colour. I got a couple of really lovely comments and I felt happy in it all day which bodes well for the dark winter days ahead. 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Completed: The power skirt

I love pencil skirts and one of my favourite items for office is my rtw grey pinstripe pencil skirt. Sadly I'm not wearing it much as it too big and is made of many different panels, making it hard to alter and keep the style in balance. 

Luckily I bought some wool in Croatia that would make a perfect replacement. I was keen to use this wool as I wanted to see how difficult it would be to match plaids. I'm always impressed when seeing others achieve wonderful matches and I thought it was time for me to give it a try. I found the perfect pattern, Hot Patterns' Deco Vibe Deceptively Skinny Skirt. I was drawn to the sharp silhouette and the godet at the back. 

Power Skirt

I'll get to the construction details in a moment but first, a quick note on the physical pattern. I was impressed by the quality of the paper Hot Patterns print on. It is thick and sturdy and will last a long time. I originally thought that the instructions had been left out but I found them printed onto one of the pattern sheets. This midly irritated me, as I couldn't put the large pattern sheets away during construction. 

Matching plaids is time consuming! I spent a good while trying to figure where to place the pieces, even using these great tutorials: Sewaholic and Colette. The pieces I most worried about matching were the centre back seam and the waistband. I didn't mind if the side panels were a little off, it's a design feature and you probably wouldn't notice it anyway. I'm pretty pleased with how the matching turned out, except it is slightly off at the back centre seam. 

Power Skirt

I thought that the worst part was over. From that statement, you can tell it wasn't. I had a number of issues as I put the skirt together. I made my standard alterations to skirt patterns - grading down two sizes from my waist to my hips. This was very straight forward, the pieces fit together very well. The problems lay in the instructions, which don't match the pattern pieces in places, and in some of the drafting. 

The instructions clearly state to attach the waistband to the skirt at the side seams. Trouble is there isn't just one side seam, there are two as there is a side panel. If you place the side seams of the waistband to either of these it just will not fit properly. I comprised and placed the side seams of the waistband in the middle of the side panels. That was more annoying than difficult. 

Power Skirt

The main problem I had was with the hem. You create the hem by adding facings at the bottom and turning them up before stitching into place. Sounds simple enough. However, the facings aren't big enough. I carefully checked which way round the pieces should go and then checked I had cut the right size. All fine but I just couldn't get it lay flat. I tried to manipulate the fabric while hand stitching but eventually I ripped them out. I turned to my iron to help save the situation. That hem has been to hell and back with the amount of steam that has been poured on to it. Finally the wool shrunk enough for it to lay reasonably flat and I machined stitched it in place. You can see that the skirt pulls in a little at the hem line so it isn't perfect. If I make this skirt again, I'll have to extend the facings or find a different way to hem it. 

Power Skirt

I lined the skirt with some gorgeous deep purple silk habotai I picked up for about £5 m at Masons. It is as light as anything and I expected problems while handling it but it behaved itself. I was thankful for this, I'm not sure I could have handled fabric and pattern problems! The inside looks rather pretty, don't you think? 

Power Skirt

Despite the odd hemline I'm happy with this skirt. It hugs my hips just the right amount and has a little bit of ease at the waist which will be rather useful just after lunch. That's a classy thought, isn't it? Completing this skirt also takes me three-quarters of the way to completing my challenge

Friday, 11 October 2013

A lesson learned

What do you do when you have no option but to sew in the lounge and your boyfriend's TV viewing is interrupted by the whirling of your sewing machine? To the point that the subtitles go on? Well, I could just leave it but I try to be more considerate than that. 

Sewing mat

I made a mat to put under my machine in the hope that it would dampen the noise. The jury is still out but at the very least it provides some extra protection to the table to. I had some left over batting that seemed the most logical thing to use. To make the mat look pretty I thought I could use up some my scraps and then quilt it. I would use the leftover fabric from my Laurel as the back and bias. A quick look around the internet led me to half square triangles. I had plans for nice, neat edges that matched up perfectly.

Sewing mat

Turns out I was doomed from the beginning. I struggled to get the squares the right size, even with using a template. However, I didn't realise this until I had created the triangles! I thought about trying to straighten up the squares with my shears but caved in and bought a rotary cutter. I honestly don't know why I didn't buy one before. 

Sewing mat

Sadly, the magic of the cutter didn't work. While I ended up with squares that were uniform in size, the centre seams were off, horrendously off in many cases. I could see just how off once I had stitched several of them together. I almost threw them away, to start again from scratch but realised that many of the imperfect matches were going to live underneath my machine. No one would see them! 

Sewing mat

So I pushed on. The quilting was interesting as I needed to use the seam lines as a guide for the pattern but of course they weren't helpful in many places! If you squint, you can see how uneven the stitching lines are on the back.

Sewing mat

Ah well, it isn't perfect but it will do. And I learnt a lesson: cutting accurately for patchwork at the beginning of the project really is essential for a nice finish. I must remember this for my next project as I'm planning Christmas presents now...


Sunday, 6 October 2013

Completed: It's all about the spots blouse

Following my last post I was determined to find time to sew. I wanted something reasonably simple that would become a quick win. Tucked away in my stash was a deep purple chiffon with white spots. I picked this up on a trip to Goldhawk Road with the idea of making a blouse for the office.

I looked around for a suitable pattern and settled on this one from Burda. I surprised myself with this choice. Generally I like a more fitted silhouette and this one doesn't have much shape but I've become more accustomed to a looser fit after wearing my Beehive Blazer a lot. The ties are knotted together. I tried a bow but I just wasn't comfortable. I don't really get on with big bows. 

Spotty chiffon blouse

This was the first time I had used a Burda pattern. I downloaded the pdf which certainly makes it easier than tracing the patterns off the crazy sheets that come with the magazines, although it still took me a while to figure it out. Turns out there are three patterns within the same pdf. Luckily I remembered to add seam allowance before cutting out the pattern. 

Spotty chiffon blouse

The chiffon was relatively easy to work with as I used all the tips and tricks I learnt when making my summer cocktail dress. I pinned and pinned before basting every seam. I used French seams throughout and that made for a lot of basting! It was worth it though as the chiffon behaved itself at the machine. If I had just pinned, which was very tempting at times, I would have ended up with a mess of chewed up fabric and uneven stitches. 

Spotty chiffon blouse

I did struggle with the scantly written instructions that came with the pattern. A lot of the steps just didn't make sense to me. I made a toile to check the sizing but mainly to see the order of the construction. After playing around a bit, I threw out the instructions but kept elements of them like sewing the side seams and the arms in a continuous line. It makes the inside look nice! I definitely prefer having diagrams in instructions. 

Spotty chiffon blouse

The design of this blouse is interesting. Half the front yoke and the full length of one tie are from a single pattern piece. This does leave a gap at the front which needs careful attention. According to the instructions, the seam allowances of the front yoke and ties are taken care off right at the beginning and then it calls for bias tape to be added all the way around the neck line. I couldn't figure this out so just added it at the back and the front. It isn't the perfect solution but it works well. 

Spotty chiffon blouse

I changed the sleeves and the cuff slightly. The design calls for a slash in the sleeve to be closed with covered buttons. I'll be honest, I was feeling far too lazy for this. After removing two inches from the length of the sleeve I added the cuffs. I can get my hands through with ease. 

Spotty chiffon blouse

I quite like this blouse, the length is just right and I can see me wearing it quite a bit in the office. It will definitely add a pop of colour to my dark trousers and I have a pair of heels that match the purple perfectly!


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