Thursday, 9 August 2018

FO: NewLook 6471 - aka emergency prom sewing

Eldest daughter was adamant that she did not want to wear a dress to her 6th form prom this year, and bought herself a floral suit from H&M.  We had some discussion at the time about the kind of top she would like to wear with it, with out really coming to a conclusion.

A month or so later I went to the Balenciaga exhibition with a crowd of sewists. After the exhibition we had a lovely lunch and then a small group of us went to Goldhawk Road. I was pretty tired and not really finding anything that I liked but in A One Fabrics I found what I thought would be the perfect fabric for a prom top.  It was super cheap - I think £2 a metre so I bought 2 metres thinking it didn't really matter if Eldest didn't like it at that price!

I washed it and added it to my stash, then we kind of forgot about it.  Suddenly it got to the end of April and we realised on the Monday that her prom was on the Friday of that week - we had a little bit of a panic then realised that it was completely doable in the time frame.  Eldest went through all my patterns for tops and came across New Look 6471 which had come free with a sewing magazine.

She didn't want the cuffs or a tie neck on the pattern, both of which were easy to change.  She had a rtw top that she had seen as a reference point, and it had shirring in places which she wanted.

I finished the raw edge of the sleeves, then did the shirring at the cuff. I think there are 5 or 6 rows. It was pretty straight forward to do - I put elastic thread in my bobbin and normal thread in the needle - as you sew the fabric ruches up.  I was pretty sure I had some black shirring elastic but couldn't find it and had to make do with white.  Of course as soon as I had completed the whole top I found the black elastic! 

My machine didn't like the fabric very much so I used tissue paper between the fabric and the feed dogs, which made it much easier to handle. You just tear it away when you have finished the seam.  I keep all the off cuts of tissue from commercial patterns for this purpose.

I did french seams throughout - the fabric was so sheer that any raw edges or overlocking would have been visible from the right side. Luckily the pattern was a raglan sleeve so I could french seam the sleeves easily too.
I initially put little buttons on the collar but they were too heavy so I swapped to a couple of lightweight plastic snaps instead.
The top was finished with a day to spare, it met all requirements of eldest and she received lots of compliments at her prom - win!


Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Simple Sew Lapwing Trousers


This time I bring you the Lapwing Culottes. This post went live on the Simple Sew Website a little while ago, but life seems to have got in the way of posting on here for a while.
After some confusion mostly from me I think, I received my pattern and fabric for my culottes. The fabric is a lovely linen from Rainbow Fabrics.  I had thought that I might wear them as pyjama bottoms as I could do with a pair for summer, but the linen is a bit crisper than would be suitable for bed wear and will make a nice pair of trousers.

Again I managed to cut out quite economically and may have enough for a little top too.
These trousers have lovely capacious in-seam pockets.  I have sewn in-seam pockets many times but I have to say the instructions for these were not as straightforward as they could have been.

It took me a while to get my head round the instructions for some reason and I feel that they don’t sit quite as well as they could, but it is not annoying enough to do anything about.  In order for them to sit a bit better, ie keep the pocket facing towards the front of the trousers, and to add some strength at that point, I sewed a horizontal line above and below the pocket where they join the trouser leg.

Because linen has quite a loose weave, I was a bit concerned that the stitches might pull on the back crotch seam. I used a tip I picked up at Camp Workroom Social last autumn and used stretch stay tape along that seam. I placed it along the seam stitching line and sewed as normal.
I had decided to use elastic in the waist instead of a drawstring as the pattern shows. When I tried on the trousers, I decided that the crotch length was going to be a bit short for my liking if I followed the instructions. I decided to add a facing to create a channel for the elastic and to keep a bit of the crotch length.  
I trimmed the seam in side the channel very carefully with my new duck billed scissors - they were a recent birthday present and it was the first time I had used them properly.
Once I had got the waistband and elastic sorted, I tried them on to assess the leg length. As cut, they were comically long! They would have looked amazing with very high heels, but as I seldom wear such heels, I knew I would need to lop quite a bit off. 


I initially pinned them to be a floor skimming full length, but inspired by all the cropped trousers I have seen on the internet and in my girls wardrobes I thought I would try the cropped length.  

This is the finished length - having been very unsure about them whilst making them, I am now very pleased with them. They are lovely and cool in this extraordinarily hot weather we are currently having in the UK.





Wednesday, 6 June 2018

FO: Ginger Jeans

I have been sewing a lot in the first half of the year, and I am determined not to have a back log of projects to document so here is my second pair of Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns.


I made my first pair back in February of 2016 and have been meaning to make another pair ever since. I was very pleased with the first pair and they quickly became my favourite jeans. I loved the high waistband having avoided anything that high for years - the relief of not being cut in two every time I bent over was great. Over the two years that I have had them, the fabric, which wasn't quite as stretchy as it should have been has lost some of its stretch, and also they have shrunk in leg length a little as well. I can still wear them but they are not quite as comfortable as they were.

Last summer we had a family holiday to Paris and our Air BnB apartment was a few minutes walk from the fabric district at the base of the Sacre Cour. Naturally a few visits with and without the family were made, particularly to Tissue Reine. Here I found quite a lot of stretch denim - the piece I brought home was 65% cotton, 30% elasten and 5% lycra. I bought it specifically to make another pair of Gingers, it just took me seven months to get round to it!

When I was cutting out I cut in one layer which gives a very economical lay out, so economical in fact that I have enough for a skirt - possibly enough for another SOI Erin skirt, if not, a self drafted one.
I cut the same size as before - even though I took it in quite a lot the first time.  Having done the fly and the pockets, I used a tip that I learnt at Camp Workroom Social - namely to sew the inseam until about 4cm from the crotch, pin the outer seams together wrong sides together, then try them on.
pin fitting on the legs

fly insertion
This pin fitting refines the fit on the legs, and leaving the crotch open at this point means that fit in this area can be tweaked as as well. It is tricky to do on your own, but not impossible. I did one leg at a time and I think it worked really well.  I was concerned about a lot of excess wrinkling on the back of the legs when I first started wearing them, but I think most of the issues were to do with the boots I was wearing them with.
checking fit and dodgy pocket placement



Looking at these pictures, I think I need to lower the waist band at the back a little, and having worn them a lot I need to make the waistband a bit tighter on the next pair and to allow a bit more room in the calf area. I have noticed that they have shrunk in the leg length as well, so I think I will give my next lot of denim and second and third wash before cutting into it.

I have worn them a lot since I made them and they featured quite heavily in Me Made May, so altogether a very successful make.



Tuesday, 15 May 2018

McCalls 6886 - first finished item of 2018

So this is the first of several finished items this year. If you follow me on instagram you will have seen this already. I am all out of order on my posting as I have already posted a couple of my Simple Sew makes, which I made since this dress.


I cut this out between Christmas and New Year, and made it up in the beginning of January, using a lovely ponti knit that I got from Geoff Rosenberg/Stitch Fabrics. I thought the pattern on the fabric would be best shown off in a simple style dress, and decided to use the McCalls 6886 pattern that came free with a sewing magazine at some point last year.

It is a very simple dress with just the front, back and sleeves.  The neck line finish was just a turn and stitch, but I decided I wanted a cleaner finish, so drafted a facing .
I also decided that I wanted pockets in it so I used the pocket piece from the jersey dress (Solange dress) in the first English issue of La Maison Victor magazine  The pockets were great whilst I had my hands in them - which was most of the time really, but when I took my hands out I was constantly checking to see if the fabric and the skirt portion of the dress were sitting nicely. 
After a lot of wears, I decided to take the pockets out. I have worn it a couple of times since doing this and have realised I need to just tweak the fit around the hips a bit more.

Overall I am very pleased with this dress and it got a lot of wear in the colder months earlier this year.  It is a bit of a departure for me as the design is on a black back ground and I don't really have any black clothes.  Because of the colours in it I can wear a russet coloured cardi and also a dark blue one with it, but here I am wearing a black textured fleece type fabric Lou Box Top.
I wanted a lightweight layer in the autumn to pop over one of my other dresses, and came up with this.( I forgot to include it in my round up of last years sewing).  I was a pattern tester for this top a few years ago, but haven't used the pattern since.  I wasn't very keen on the top that I had made as my test garment - most due to the fabric.  For this top I used the size I had originally cut for the shoulder/neckline then I bought the underarm seam in to the smallest size.  I wanted an droopy collar so played around with the scraps until I had something I was happy with.

Any way, thats about it for this make. I am sure I will make this again at some point  - there are neckline and arm variations, so lots of scope for very different looking dresses.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Simple Sew Classic Sweatshirt



This months make is the Classic Sweatshirt


I have made a sweatshirt style top a couple of times before, but have not been super happy with the fit of the neck, so when Gabby asked if anyone would like to use this pattern I was happy to say yes!

I looked at the finished garment measurements and decided to cut a size 8 for the shorter view B. This month my fabric came from Doughty's Online and I chose a textured floral print medium weight knit in a combination of pink, mustard, black & turquoise. The colour way I chose doesn't seem to available now but there is a blue version. I deliberately didn't choose the blue one as I am trying to get a bit more colour into my wardrobe.

I received the pattern just before Easter weekend and the fabric just after Easter, so I thought I had plenty of time to get this done. Unfortunately, I had done something to my back and have been pretty immobile until this last week, so have been doing 'last minute' sewing which I prefer not to do!

Having washed the fabric, and finally got around to laying out the pattern pieces I found that unusually, the stretch went down the length of the fabric rather than across the width. I thought about what to do for a little while and then decided to completely ignore the lay plan in the pattern instructions and cut the pieces with the stretch going across them (selvages at the top and bottom of of my layout rather than down the sides).

Fortunately for my 'last minute sewing' this sweatshirt is a pretty simple sew - see what I did there?  The raglan sleeves make putting this together very easy - all the notches matched  and I very quickly had something that looked like a top.


The pattern recommends using ribbing for the neckband, sleeve cuffs and hem band.  I didn't think that I wanted the look of contrasting colour for those, so decided to use self fabric.

I haven't used ribbing before, but I am guessing that it is pretty stretchy. I really struggled to get the neckband on using the method in the instructions and I suspect that the fabric just isn't quite stretchy enough.

I wangled it on in the end, completed the sleeve cuffs and hem band, then tried it on - disaster - I really didn't like it.  It was too long in the body, the sleeve were too long and the cuffs were too tight despite trying them on before attaching them. Rather than try to fix it then and there, I went to bed and had a proper look at it in the morning.

I ended up cutting about 10cm off the length of the body and reattached the hem band. I cut the cuffs off the sleeves, shortened the sleeves by about 4cm, cut new cuffs 2 sizes larger (my unorthodox cutting had left me with quite a big remnant) and attached the new cuffs.

This fixed all my  'problems' and hey presto I have a new top that I really like!


Monday, 12 March 2018

2017 catch up - part 3

Continuing on with the recap of my makes for 2017:

I had seen a lot of versions of the True Bias Odgen Cami on the internet last summer and rather randomly I decided to make one for myself.  The fabric was leftover from a dress I made to wear to a wedding in 2016.  There was just enough to squeeze out this top. I quite like and wore it quite a bit, but I felt very exposed. If I were to make it again I might try to make the straps a little wider to give me a bit more coverage. True Bias's instructions are very good and it was a pretty simple sew. In order to fit the top in the fabric that I had, I had to cut the back in two pieces, which makes it easy to tell the back from the front!

Both of my older girls decided to redecorate their bedrooms last summer which involved replacing their curtains.  The previous curtains had been made in a rather sweet, but childish print from the Designers Guild, by my mother-in-law about 15 years ago. They were showing their age and the girls wanted something that would go with their 'new' rooms.  Middlest's bedroom is a warm white with a feature wall papered in a blush colour with a rose gold crackle effect over the top.  A lot of accessories are rose gold and the new curtains are a blush pink that match the wallpaper pretty well.  Eldest's room is light and dark grey with a feature wall of a petrol/teal colour, with accents of yellow The curtain fabric is Sanderson 'Finches' in yellow which has all of the colours of her room in it.  We had looked at this locally and it was very expensive - I looked online and found just over three metres for less than the price of two in the shop.  Because of the shape of the window, the curtain rails pivot in order to let in as much light as possible meaning that the curtain's needed to be double sided. The previous curtains had been lined with blackout lining and both girls said that they would still like this. I put off doing this for ages, but once I got going they were extremely simple even with the blackout lining!

I have made the Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans and have plans to make more, but I wanted to try the looser fit of the Morgan jeans. I thought that I had the perfect denim, but it was far too stretchy, then I found some olivey green corduroy in my stash that I had originally bought to make a Colette Beignet skirt.  I have had the fabric for sometime and you can see in the collage the sun damage - thankfully on the reverse - from storing it near a window! I used the pattern instructions and the Jeans e-booklet when putting them together.  They are a much looser fit than I am used to - which is to be expected as that is the style, but I am not sure how they look on me. I have decide that I much prefer the higher waistline of the Ginger jeans - these feel a bit low, particularly in the back and I feel a bit frumpy in them. They are a useful addition to my wardrobe so I will continue to wear them for a while - and they are not blue - as many of my garments seem to be!

As an aside, having worn these quite a lot recently - they have bagged out with wear and are constantly falling down. They also seem to have shrunk in the leg length so I am not sure how much longer they will last in my wardrobe. 

Having made Eldest a second pinafore dress out of some lovely ochre/mustard denim earlier in the year, I was left with a sizable leftover.  I had seen the Sew Over It Erin skirt when Lisa Comfort released it as part of her City Break Capsule Wardrobe E-book, then it was released as a pull out pattern with a sewing magazine (possibly Simply Sewing). I had in mind that I would make the long version, but I did not have enough of the leftover fabric, but there was plenty for the short version.  It was a pretty straight forward make - although I found that the centre back notches on the waistband did not line up.  Because I have been sewing for a long time I realised that this was an error and ignored it, but I felt that a less experienced sewist may not have realised and continued to try to match them resulting in a twisted waistband. I really like the finished garment and colour wise it is quite a departure for me!


A lot of my friends in the village where I live know that I sew. One day I got a call from one of them asking if I could make a pair of pj's for the favourite toy of her youngest son. Apparently DeeDoo goes everywhere with him and despite being washed, was looking somewhat the worse for wear! I invited DeeDoo for a measuring and showed them the fabric I thought might be suitable. I drew up a little pattern and made a very tiny pair of pj's.  My friends son was very pleased with them and even wrote me a very sweet little thank you letter - he is 6!


In October I went to Camp Workroom Social and took part in the Pant Fitting Intensive class that was taught by Melissa Watson using the Palmer Pletch tissue fitting technique. That experience merits its own post - I can't quite believe I haven't done yet! The whole trip was amazing and I ended up with a 95% finished pair of trousers by the end of the weekend. I finished the trousers a couple of weekends after I got back and the trouser fitted me completely differently from how they had in class - I know my shape fluctuates during the month but I hadn't expected such a difference.  I tweaked them to fit and they are now finished, but I haven't worn them and I haven't any photos of then as yet.  However I liked the idea of that style of trousers and proceeded to make a second pair affectionately called my  Party trousers. I used a stretch cotton sateen that I bought in Metro Textiles in New York and after discussing making a dress I decided pretty quickly that it would be trousers. I used the techniques we were taught in class and end up with a fab pair of trousers that got a lot of wear over Christmas and New Year. I also made the top to go with the trousers. It is one of my favourite top patterns - MyImage Cowl Neck top made in a navy slinky, possibly viscose, jersey. This time I decided to crop the pattern and put on a band at the bottom with a tie at one side. I also opted for three quarter length sleeves- again finished with a small band. A normal hem on this fabric was pretty tricky so I gave up!



You may know that I have made my Husband a number of shirts over the years as a Christmas present.  At 6'3" he has always been, what he would describe as a 'big unit'. He has always been fit  and exercised a lot but decided that 2017 was the year to loose weight.  He has lost around 22kg and because of this he has slimmed out of the shirt pattern that I usually use for him (McCalls 6044) . Rather than buy the same shirt in the smaller size range I thought I would try a different pattern.  I have been following the progress of the Thread Theory patterns over the years, and thought I would try out their Fairfield shirt.  It has a different technique for the button band and also tower plackets on the sleeves.  Because alot of Husbands height is in his back I used to lengthen the McCalls pattern by about 5cm and I think I lengthened the sleeves a fraction.  For this shirt I also lengthened it by 5 cm. I didn't lengthen the sleeves as they seemed a bit longer any way.  The fabric came from one of the shops at the base of the Sacre Coeur in Paris, where they sell predominately pre-cut lengths of 3 metres. I cut the back yoke and the pocket on the bias for a bit of visual interest. I cut the inner yoke on the straight grain for stability and in a fine white cotton that I had in my stash, so that the pattern didn't show through on the the main fabric. The tower placket instructions were fab and having a gridded fabric also helped tremendously! I, and Husband, are both really pleased with it and it has already seen quite a bit of wear. However after a few wears Husband asked that I lengthen the sleeves next time I make it - probably only by about 2.5cm though.


After the success of the previous waistcoat that I made Husband, I decided to go the whole hog and make another one for Christmas.  I wasn't super impressed with the Burda pattern I used previously so tried the Thread Theory Belvedere Waistcoat. I bought the fabric from Doughty and Sons stand at the Great British Sewing Bee Live and it was lovely to work with. I was very pleased with the pattern, the instructions were great and I have some very neat welt pockets. I made the more complex view with all the pockets and the little side vents. However, there is a BUT!!!  Knowing that Husbands height is in his back, I completely didn't think to lengthen the pattern at all (this was just after making the shirt above, where I did lengthen it!) and you may notice that it is too short on him. The fit is great - it just needs to be about 5cm(!) longer. I did feel pretty stupid for not doing that. I contacted Doughty and Sons and sent them a swatch recently to see if they by any chance had any more but they didn't. They did find something similar in a slightly different colour which I have since bought, but I haven't done anything with it yet.

So that, finally, is the summary of last years makes.

After some procrastination I have cut out and am about half way through a new pair of ginger jeans, and I have been asked to do a bit of wedding sewing for later in the year!