Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Sewing for my Sister

I know, I know, this is probably the most seasonally inappropriate garment I could possibly talk about right now! I do promise that when I made this top the sun was shining and it was hot, although it is hard to imagine that kind of weather right now. Despite having made this top way back in July/August (I can't even remember exactly it was so long ago!) for some reason it turned into one of those things that I just never got round to writing about. I did consider waiting until next summer before talking about this top but I decided that my that point I will probably have forgotten absolutely everything about it!

If you think you're seeing double - you're not. At least, not quite! You might recognised this top from this one that I made. I made that top for my friend for her birthday and when my sister saw it on my dressform she asked if I would make her one too. I had some fabric left over and I actually made this top almost immediately after the first one. There are a few differences between the two tops though. My sister had a few changes in mind that she asked me to add. After the success of the cushion I made her last year I really wanted to sew her something else so I was really happy with the request - usually I'm the one asking her if she wants me to sew her something! I talked about how I drafted the pattern in much more depth in this post but because I'd already made the first top the second one took no time at all. The main change in this design is the omission of the tie and of course that made the whole process a lot easier!
Other than the obvious change with the tie-front there aren't many other changes. It's smaller that the first top, and the other difference is the length. Unfortunately my sister found it too short when she tried it on, but this was easily resolved with the addition of a band of fabric around the hem. To be honest it's hardly noticeable becuase of the busy print so I'm glad that that hurdle didn't cause much of a problem. 

That's about it for this top! If you're interested in finding out more about the construction head over to this blog post as the drafting of the two tops was pretty similar. I'm always nervous about sewing for others (especially my sister!) but I think she likes this top. Obviously it isn't currently getting any wear but hopefully next summer it will. One of the things that I like about the design is the panelling, the front and back bodice have a combined number of six panels and really like the look they give. They also make fitting much easier! I'm also pleased with how smoothly the I was able to adapt the top of the bodice, both the tie and the simple v-neck design sit really nicely.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Gingham Trousers

Where to start with these trousers?! I have been dreaming of making a pair of gingham trousers for such a long time and I finally made a pair! Ever since I made my gingham top last year I've been obsessed with gingham. My top has been one of my most worn me-made items ever and I wore my gingham shorts all through summer so it was only natural that a pair of trousers would be on their way! These are also perfect for autumn and apparently for taking photos in front of red post boxes too.

It took me a while to find the right pattern for these trousers. I had quite a strong idea in my mind of what I wanted and although the pattern I chose doesn't have exactly the same features, the trousers have turned out perfectly. I've seen quite a few pairs of gingham trousers available in shops on the high street, and was particularly inspired by those in Zara for the cigarette-style trouser leg (although I didn't want a belt). The pattern is the Cinnamon Trousers by CocoWawa Crafts, which has the added bonus of coming with a really clear sew-along video too. It features an elasticated waist at the back which makes fitting much easier as well as an invisible zip at the side. I'm really pleased with this pattern and I expect I'll be making another pair at some point!

A feature of the pattern that I knew I wanted to keep was the pleats at the pockets. I did worry slightly that the trousers would be too out-there with the pleats and the gingham but actually I feel as though the pleats add a nice bit of interest while still being subtle enough to not be over-the-top. The pattern does come with an option for ruffles/pleats at the hem of the trousers too, but I think that would have been a step too far!
As for the fabric, it's perfect for the trousers I had in mind. If you recognise it it's because it's actually exactly the same fabric that I used for my gingham top last year. I wear the top all the time and the gingham is exactly the right combination of size and colour so I knew I wanted to make the trousers out of the same fabric. The lovely people at Craft Cotton Co very kindly sent me some more of the gingham in order to make my trouser dreams come true, thank you so much!

As you've probably guessed by now, I love these trousers! I thought about making them for so long and I'm so glad I finally did. It's definitely Autumn now and so I expect that these trousers will be getting a lot of wear over the next few months. I expect I  have more gingham items of clothing than the average person now, although I make no promises that there won't be more in the future!

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Overlocker Unlocked - Insides

Other than the speed at which garments (mainly jersey ones) can be sewn on an overlocker, by far the best thing about overlocking for me is how beautifully finished the insides are. I love being able to put on a garment and admire the seams, somehow it just makes getting dressed in the morning that bit better (or at least to me it does)! In a lot of my un-overlocked garments the seams are fraying or the stitching is less secure and is starting to break. Even finishing edges with a zigzag stitch doesn't prevent fraying completely so it feels like such a treat to have beautifully overlocked seams without a fraying edge in sight. Today I thought I'd go through some photos of the insides of some of the overlocked garments I've made.
Personally, I enjoy spending time on projects to make them look beautiful on the inside as well as outside but it's tempting to just get the sewing finished without having to bother making the wrong side of a garment look nice too - after all, no one will see it. Overlocking is a great way to get a lovely finish on the inside but without spending too much time on this step.

Let's begin with some jersey makes. Although knit fabrics don't benefit from overlocking to counter fraying in the same way that woven fabrics do, it's still a really good idea to overlock them if you're able to. Not only does it speed up the process and allow for neat insides, the stitching has the massive benefit of being stretchy. I would also add that it's worth taking the extra time to change the overlocking thread to a matching colour, even it it's just from white to black. Although you can't see the stitching on the right side, if your fabric has a really big contrast (for example if the fabric is black and the thread is white) there is always a slight chance that the stitches will show through. I've written a tutorial here on a really quick way to change the threads of an overlocker if that's something you're interested in.

I've found that on jersey fabrics in particular overlocking has really helped to improve my neckbands. I have to say though, overlocking neckbands is a mixed blessing; I believe it was on this t-shirt that I had to unpick the neckband after I sewed it on the wrong way. It took a long time! However, I still think that the promise of a beautifully neat neckband outweighs the threat of unpicking and after that incident I always check multiple times before beginning to sew a neckband. I actually really enjoy sewing neckbands now. Despite their annoying tendency to gather, I've found that with lots of pins and stretching the neckband as I sew has solved this problem and I love the finish that an overlocked and topstitched neckband gives.

The inside of this t-shirt in particular is a classic example as to why putting on overlocked clothes makes me so happy! It just looks so neat and professional...

Moving onto some pictures of woven tops. I explained in this post the approach I like to take when overlocking woven fabrics and I really love the above picture. Sewing with denim is probably my main exception to my match the thread with the fabric rule, because I love the contrast between the white overlocking and the dark denim. So long as the thread tension is high enough the stitching shouldn't show through at the seams and I've also found that the thread tends to show less with woven fabrics than with knit fabrics. Even though it's only me who sees the inside it still makes me happy! 

In the case of fraying seams you really cannot beat an overlocker. I actually find the pattern of overlocking stitches quite nice too and on a pressed seam it gives a similar affect to a hong-kong finish which is quite nice. I don't have any photos of the tops I made before I knew that woven seams had to be finished but take my word for it, once you see something fray quite that badly you won't make the same mistake twice!
I hope you enjoyed looking at a few photos, this was somewhat different to what I usually write about but I really love being able to reflect on previous garments and I also love a bit of overlocking!

If you'd like to read any other posts in the series, you can do so here.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Pink Rib Top

As you may have noticed, blush pink (or any kind of pink for that matter) isn't a colour that I tend to wear or sew with. Despite this, I've been thinking more and more about sewing a garment in blush pink, particularly as I've seen quite a few items in this colour on the high street recently. When I was choosing this fabric on the Minerva Crafts website, I very nearly fell back on a navy or grey colour way, but I was determined to try out the blush pink and I'm so glad that this fabric gave me the option to do that because I love it! I can already see many more garments this colour in creeping into my wardrobe via my sewing machine...

I wasn't sure how stretchy the fabric would be and I did initially expect it to have a much larger stretch percentage like a typical rib fabric does. Because of this, when the fabric arrived I wasn't initially sure about what to make out of it. I often find that rather than rushing into a project (which is tempting when gorgeous fabric arrives in the post!) I much prefer the end result if I think about the design of the garment for a while so that I end up with a finished item which is perfect for both the fabric and what I want to wear.
As often is the case, it was my Mum who first came up with the idea for this top. I love mock neck and turtleneck collars and I had initially planned to make a Freya top out of the fabric. Because the fabric is nowhere near stretchy enough to make a Freya, I started to think of different options which could still involve a high neck. My Mum suggested a much wider collar which sat further away from my neck with the top coming into a boxier shape similar to the Linden. While I was still pondering over which pattern I could use/hack, one of my friends came round wearing the perfect jumper. It was exactly the pattern I was looking for and although I can't find the exact jumper on the shop's website anymore, picture a grey knitted version of this top. Of course I immediately asked if I could borrow it to copy and she very kindly leant it to me and it really is the perfect pattern!

I've made so many tops and jumpers that the techniques are comfortably familiar. I did want to add another detail to this top though, so I decided to leave the back longer than the front and create a split-hem. This was so simple to do and I love it! It's a really simple detail but I think that it adds a lovely bit of interest to the top. It also means that I'm going to be adding split-hems to a lot more tops in the future!
Other than adding the split-hem, I pretty much copied the jumper exactly. I was initially worried about the width of the sleeves which are quite wide. While the width looks great with the heavier knit of the ready-to-wear jumper, I was worried that the medium weight rib fabric would collapse rather than holding the shape and that it would look a bit strange. Expecting to have to take in the sleeves I tried the top on and found that I actually really like the width of the sleeves. I think it works really well with the boxy shape of the top and the drop shoulder.

As you've probably guessed by now I absolutely love this top! It's exactly the time of top that I'll wear continuously over the next few months, certainly with a thermal underneath as the temperatures drop! My Mum said she loved it too, which is always the best compliment. Part of the success is definitely the fabric, the drape is so lovely and as it turns out the colour is a winner.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Flossie Teacakes Guide To EPP - Book Review

I have a very exciting book review to share today! Although my sewing tends to be mainly dressmaking based and this blog reflects this, English paper piecing has always been something that I love to do. I find that hand piecing is extremely meditative and relaxing, and EPP is perfect to bring away on holiday or to sew in the evenings while watching television. One of my favourite blogs Flossie Teacakes (which I have mentioned before) is one of the most fantastic places for seeking English paper piecing inspiration. As someone who creates the most astonishingly beautiful and intricate projects, it seems only natural to me that Florence should write a book on EPP and for the said book to be wonderful.

What I love about this book is that it seems to cover everything. It's split into five sections: The World of English Paper Piecing, Spotlight on Modern EPPers, Introduction to English Paper Piecing and the final two sections are on sewing the patterns included with the book. While it's perfect for beginners and has clear and detailed instructions on how to learn how to paper piece, it also provides both information and instructions for people of all abilities. One of my favourites sub-sections is the one on fussy cutting, a method which I haven't yet tried but that I've always wanted to.

I enjoyed reading all of the sections but I think that my favourite has to be the first one, The World of English Paper Piecing. History is my favourite subject and I love to read about it; sewing is my favourite hobby and something that I am also passionate about. To be able to combine sewing and history and read about this in a book is one of the things that for me made this book so enjoyable to read. I particularly enjoyed reading about Lucy Boston, 'the woman behind one of the most famous English paper piecing patterns.

Florence also includes several extracts all about the psychology of sewing, such as working with our hands. It's a fascinating read in itself, in my opinion even for people who don't sew. One of the things that I liked about the book was the layout, it seemed to be a way starting an EPPed journey from learning about it's history to hearing about modern makers and finally creating your own project. I also liked how the section on modern EPPers was placed after the historical section, for me it allowed the idea that this is a something that is still continued today despite being hundreds of years old to really resonate.

As I mentioned, at the end of the book there are patterns! I still can't believe that as well as interesting reads and never-ending inspiration as well as tips, there are patterns available with the book too. I decided to make one of the three rosettes, the Billilla rosette. It features an interesting but not intricate pattern and was a really satisfying sew. One of the great things about rosettes is that they are much faster to complete than ordinary EPP projects, although now I've made it I'm not quite sure what to do with it! One of the things I liked about the design is that it looks great fussy-cut (see the front cover of the book for what I mean) and I think it would be a great pattern to use for a first fussy-cut project.

Overall, I honestly couldn't recommend this book enough! It seems to contain everything you need to know about English Paper Piecing and more, not to mention the fact that the pictures included are inspiring and Florence's style of writing is brilliant. I know that this is a book that I'll be going back to time and again to re-read the articles inside and try out some of the other projects.