Category Archives: Sewing

A sheepish hello

Moneta

I have wilfully neglected my blog of late – it is now May and this is the first real post this year.  I have been very busy – just see my instagram feed for evidence but in terms of blogging – must try harder!!

It seems to me that May is a productive and creative time for me.  It was around this time last year that I began to really ramp up my dressmaking and started this blog.  I wonder if it is more to do with the renewal of Spring or the fact that there are no good shows on TV at this time of year!!

It is also the start of MeMadeMay, which, for those who don’t know, is when the dressmakers of instagram make a concerted effort to wear their handmade creations for the month of May.  I only caught the tail end of it last year but I think it is a really positive and creative idea and am already meeting lots of new virtual sewing buddies!

All of this has contributed to a very productive couple of days for me.  I made my third Moneta dress by Colette Patterns.

I bought this stunning lightweight jersey from Sew Over It a few months ago and have been waiting for inspiration to strike.  I decided on another Moneta dress as it is just so easy to wear, super comfy and can be either dressed up or dressed down.  It also has pockets and I love a pocket!

Elastic shirring

I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  The shirring of the elastic at the waist was no bother at all (goodness, if I think how hard it was the first time around) and the twin needles didn’t create the awful tunnelling that they sometimes are prone to.  I did use wash-away stay tape and that seemed to do the trick.

I then decided that I would finish off some of the UFOs (unfinished objects) that have been hanging around the sewing room, gathering dust over the past year.

To do list

I changed the neckline of my Dahlia dress so that it follows the curve of my neck and doesn’t gape out anymore.  This involved unpicking all of the bias binding and regathering the neckline to bring it in slightly.  I had to do this twice as I took too much in on the first go and it distorted the plaid pattern too much.  I split the difference on the second try and it is much better now.

Dahlia

As I had no cropped trousers in my wardrobe, I decided to make some last summer.  I did everything but hem them before the weather turned colder and they were relegated to the UFO shelf.   I also realised that they needed to be taken in on the inside leg and front seam as they were just a bit too baggy.  I had forgotten that I had already pinned the adjustment when I went to try them on today leading to a game of pin versus foot (the pin won).  Errant pins aside, the trousers are now better fitted, hemmed and ready for a sunny day.

Cropped trousers

I wore my Belcarra blouse from Sewaholic today as well for MeMadeMay.  I love the strawberry print cotton – it’s very summery and cheery.  I’ve never been quite happy with how the neckline sat though and managed to find a quick way to bring it in which improves the fit dramatically as well as adding extra detail to the front.

BeforeAfter

That’s quite a lot of sewing in my book!  It was really lovely to have an indulgent, creative weekend and the great thing is, there is still one more day to go – gotta love Bank Holidays!

I may have accidentally bought the Ginger Jeans pattern by Closet Case this evening.  I may also have printed it, done the PDF jigsaw/sellotape game and cut it all out.  I may also just casually swing by Fabricland tomorrow and see what they have in the way of stretch denim…maybe!

IMG_3311

 

Scooter shirt

scooter shirt coller

I’ve had a lovely weekend of sewing.  I managed to get this tailored men’s shirt completed in six and a half hours.  I know I will be able to get that time down with practice.

The pattern matching did take a while and I have to say that some areas where I didn’t specifically try and match the pattern, have turned out really well!  Lucky accidents, if you will!

collar

I loved working with this fabric – I always find it more enjoyable when the print makes you smile.  Tim, who commissioned the shirt, and I went delving into the treasure trove that is Rose Crafts, in Midsomer Norton.  It is a tiny craft and fabric shop, crammed to the rafters with some absolute gems.

I challenged myself to make the shirt with no serged edges, instead choosing to use french and flat felled seams.  The result is lovely and the garment looks as good from the inside as it does from the outside (although the adorable scooters are much better from the outside!)

french seams

I made a contrast collar band and shortened the sleeves, as well as adapting the pattern to include contrasting cuffs, which I applied like bias binding so that they can be rolled or folded up.

contrast cuff

I added these gorgeous red patterned buttons to finish the shirt and I think they set off the contrast elements really well.

buttons

I’ll post another picture of the shirt being modelled by it’s owner when they have been formally introduced to each other, but for now, here is the finished article!

scooter shirt

*Update Alert* Here it is being modelled by Tim!

Quiff model's own!
Quiff model’s own!

 

The list

Scooter fabric

I’ve been so busy sewing lately that I’ve not made any time to blog, so apologies for that.

I have also been working on some secret projects so, until they are revealed, I need to keep quiet!

I have such a lot of projects on the go at the moment that I decided to use my day job skills and prioritise them in order to get through them.

I have found this has helped me to make progress and get things done.

Current projects include:

  • A jacket for my mum
  • A tailored shirt that I gave my Dad an IOU for on his birthday
  • A tailored shirt for my boyfriend
  • Some bespoke garments that I have been commissioned for
  • Some soft furnishings for selling at craft fairs
  • Yoga trousers for me
  • Some alterations
  • Completing a top that has been lying around unfinished for the last year
  • Finishing some cropped trousers that I started in June

Quite a list, and I just keep adding to it.  Unfortunately, there are also some very pretty dress patterns that I have that haven’t even made it on to the list yet and may have to wait a few months.

I have managed to balance the list with gifts for family, work projects and some selfish sewing.  There’s definitely some fun and challenging stuff there.  In particular, I can’t wait to start working with this scooter fabric – it’s adorable.  I love how the scooters look like little angry faces!

I’ll let you know how I get on!

Sewing with knits

Grey dress

Apart from a suspect maroon sweatshirt that I made in textiles class as school, I have always shied away from working with knit fabrics.  The preconception is that they are far too difficult to manipulate and will stretch out of shape if so much as looked at in the wrong way.

Colette patterns’ latest design changed my mind and encouraged me to try working with jersey and I have to say, I was more than pleased with the results.

I would add that having my own overlocker and array of stretch and twin needles really helped.

The Moneta pattern, as with all of the Colette patterns that I have used so far, is beautifully designed and easy to follow.  It was my first experience of buying a paper pattern from Colette.  I have previously opted for the downloadable PDFs, for ease and convenience, but having recently found a UK stockist and I don’t think I will be going back.  Apart from not having to print out and construct the huge jigsaw puzzle from the PDF, the physical patterns are just beautiful.  They come with a gorgeous booklet, with the pattern pieces tucked into the back pocket.

I had some teal medium weight jersey in my fabric stash and decided the dress would look great in that.  I opted for the longer sleeve dress as am blessed with the joys of air conditioning at work!

Jasmine being helpful

The teal jersey was actually quite stable and easy to work with so cutting out the pattern pieces was no problem, once the cat was out of the way!  I did try, once again, to use my rotary cutter and mat but I am just not a fan – I much prefer the pinning and cutting method.  I can’t seem to get a smooth cut with the rotary blade and always end up going over and over the same area and having to cut bits with scissors eventually.  It also doesn’t help that I am left handed and my cutter is right handed so I can’t see the blade properly.  So until I buy a left handed version, shears it is!

The pattern was very easy to use and I had the bodice made in no time.  I made a schoolgirl error when it came to inserting the pockets into the skirt though.  I didn’t overlock the pieces separately first and waited until the pockets were in, leading to me cutting a slight chunk out of one of pockets with the serger blade.  Not a massive drama as it wasn’t on the skirt side and was easily fixed with some darning.

Next came the challenge of inserting the elastic into the waistband.  I have to say, this part was really tricky at first and I did have to consult my sewing books, youtube and google before I got it right.

I couldn’t get the fabric and elastic to move through the machine at first, leading to a clump of stitches on top of each other and lots of time with the seam ripper!  I then decided to use the overlocker and see if that helped – it did not!  I ended up cutting into the top of the skirt by nearly a centimetre

IMG_2098

After the initial horror of having ruined my dress died down, I realised I could just take off a centimetre from the top of the entire skirt and reduce the hem slightly.

Phew, crisis averted!  So, after three unsuccessful attempts and lots of unpicking and ruined elastic, I finally found the technique to use.  I hand-sewed the elastic into the waistband at eight even points and then after securing the first couple of stitches under the machine, you need to hold the back of the fabric (behind the needle) as well as holding the first hand-sewn point and stretch out the elastic and fabric so that it lays flat and fits into the skirt.  Hold tight and don’t let go and sew slowly.  You really need to guide/pull the fabric through from the other side of the machine.

Using clear elastic

This video tutorial helped me immensely from FashionSewingBlogTV.

Once that was done, it was all plain sailing for the rest of the dress.

IMG_2110 Teal dress

I love the fact that each new sewing project teaches me new skills to use.

Things I have learned from this project:

  • Sewing with knits is not scary!
  • Using twin needles for hems is great and gives a really professional finish.
  • Serge pockets separately before inserting into garments (I knew this already, I just didn’t follow my own rule)
  • Even if you think something is ruined, it might still be salvageable – just walk away and hopefully the solution will come
  • I don’t like my rotary cutter and that’s ok.
  • Instagram is great!

Since getting some great feedback on the dress, I then decided to make it again with some beautiful dove grey lighter-weight jersey that I bought online from Guthrie Ghani.  It was much easier to make the second time round and I whizzed through inserting the elastic like a dream.

A room of her own

Curtains

Having lived in our house for six years, I recently decided to convert the very underused spare bedroom into a space of my own. Somewhere for me to sew, craft, write and overall, be creative.

This decision means that any visitors have to sleep on a blow up mattress, however, this is a small price to pay for me having my own piece of real estate that I can indulge my creative impulses in.

We had never got round to decorating the room, leaving it a sickly pink colour, leftover from the previous owners. The colour not offensive enough to warrant an immediate repaint, didn’t ever fit in with the rest of the house, so I was pleased to finally be rid of it. I chose a cream and duck egg blue colour scheme and the room immediately feels fresher and more inspiring.

I also managed to bag a bargain in the form of a double drop leaf table that I bought for £15 in a local second hand shop. It is perfect for cutting out patterns and using my sewing machine and overlocker on, along with being a great writing desk.

So, I’m all set up for my crafty adventures – next stop, to buy a new laptop! My previous post explains just how important this is (she says, in no way trying to justify her spending to the rest of the world…)