Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Easy Tee Sew-A-Long: Part 2, cutting out

After preparing the pattern yesterday, tonight I cut out the various pieces of the Easy Tee and pinned the front and back pieces together ready to sew tomorrow.

To do this step I used my rotary cutter, cutting mat and pattern weights.

I use some pebbles I collected last year, they are all slightly heart shaped as I had thought about using them as place names for my wedding, but in the end finding 80 suitable ones was too hard.

I laid out the fabric, folding the shelvedge over just far enough to allow me to fit the pattern piece on, then cut iron the fold.  As my fabric is quite thick, this was a struggle.  I think in sewing more than anywhere, you get what you pay for with tools.  My rotary cutter was very cheap, and I struggle to cut more than a thin layer of cotton.  It's definitely one to replace as soon as possible before I ruin fabric by having to keep going back and forward.  Do you have a rotary cutter, what brand will be a good one?

I did the same layout to cut the back piece and then pinned the two parts together.  The instructions also say to cut a strip of fabric 28" by 1.5"; as I had lowered the neckline, I increased this to 30".  I actually made a pattern piece for this as I wasn't convinced the fabric would stay flat if I tried to mark the strip straight on it.  I also cut out my collar pieces from my darker fabric, you cut 4 pieces, I did them double thickness so I only had to use the cutter twice, and turned the piece over for the second batch.

So, that's me ready to start sewing tomorrow.  How are you getting on? If you've not started yet, there is plenty of time to catch up, these two steps have hardly taken any time.

You can see some finished tops at the sew-a-long event page here

I really like how this is looking, what do you think?

I'd also like to thank Autumn for her great pattern, check out all her great ideas here. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Easy Tee Sew-a-Long: Part One, The Pattern

I am excited to be taking part in the Easy Tee Sew-a-long using the pattern from It's Always Autumn.  The pattern has a number of different versions, all free, so you can choose from a plain top, raglan sleeves, Peter Pan collar, pattern drop or colour block.

I decided to use the Peter Pan collar version, and bought a meter of cloud grey and a meter of charcoal grey cotton interlock fabric from Tia Knight on eBay.  The fabric was £3.99 a meter and feels lovely, with a decent stretch.  One of my pieces did have a flaw in it, but Tia Knight immediately sent me a replacement meter without any problem, so first class customer service.  Delivery was also within 24 hours of ordering which also impressed me.

So, back to the pattern. It only comes in large, and there is no real information on what size that will cover.  I've lost 11lbs in the last 3 weeks, so I am risking making the size without further measurements, as it does look generous.  The pattern prints on 6 A4 pages and there is no trimming, just line the edges us against each other and stick.  This made it one of the fastest PDF patterns that I have had to put together.

Once I had stuck it all together, I decided to lower the neckline a little as I generally prefer them to hit just above my chest rather than closer to my neck.  To do this I extended the straight line of the neck by around 6cm, then used a French curve to match the original curve of the neckline.  This meant that the collar piece no longer fitted, so I cut straight across it, put some paper behind it, and extended it by the 6cm.

So, that's all the pattern ready to cut out tomorrow.

If you would like to take part in the sew-a-long, just follow here, or join the Facebook event

Friday, 18 July 2014

My First Self-Drafted Skirt: A-Lines and sunshine

Pattern drafting terrifies me.  I am not an artistic person, and I never feel terribly creative, although I can follow patterns or instructions pretty well.  So self-drafting my very own A-Line skirt did not seem like something I could do.

Unfortunately for me, circumstances forced the issue...well, I say circumstances, what I actually mean is that having got an idea in my head I was too stubborn to change it so had to find a way to make it work.

A few weeks ago there was a fabric warehouse sale in Aberdeen, and I bought some bright yellow and bright orange Tana cotton lawn, 2m of each.  My friend suggested that I could do a sort of two layer skirt with the other colour poking out at the botton, and I loved the idea.

A few google searches brought Ysolda's pocket ties skirt on Craftsy, it looked easy, had all the elements I wanted and seemed to need minimal cutting out.  After pre-washing and ironing my fabrics, I worked out the measurements and started to put them on the fabric. Then I tried again, then I changed how I had folded it, then I remeasured...

It turned out that the fabric was only 34" wide, and no matter how I adjusted it, there just wasn't enough for me to work with.  I may have stamped my foot, or possibly had a bit of a no point did I fling the fabric across the room...

Anyway, I decided to see what I could do to rescue the situation.  I wanted to make the skirt that weekend, and as our printer has died, I needed something that I could just mark on the fabric.  An A-Line skirt seemed like the answer, but the maths I was finding on some sites made my head hurt.  Then I found Melissa Hart's blog, The Cordelia Files and it sounded so easy.  Essentially, you take your waist and hip measurements, as well as the distance from your waist to your hips, and from this just draw out the skirt.  The only difference I made was to cut on the fold to save fabric.

This is the result
Please excuse the washing line through my head and the dodgy pose.  I made the cutest little pocket and used the orange to make the waistband.  From here it looks like I have bound the skirt with the orange, but it is actually a lining.

I love this skirt, and it is so summery and happy, I can see me wearing it all summer, and even in winder with some thick tights.

I do want to put a couple of darts in the back as I built in a little too much ease, but that can wait for another day.

A couple more photos...
You can see where the darts need to go to stop the creasing in the back, but with a long top, it's not noticable.

Have you got a favourite item that just makes you smile when you wear it?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Lekala 8001 Tunic - A successful top

Following on from my last post, I have managed to make a successful tunic top using the free Lekala 8001 pattern from here

I was very optimistic about the pattern, as I had to provide my measurements for bust, underbust, waist, full hip, with options to add in hip, neck and upper arm.  I chose to add in upper arm as I thought that might be important, and then made further adjustments regarding bust and back, where I could pick a description which fitted me best.

In the end, I chose lower than normal protruding bust points (what a description), narrow back and wide bust.  It would be helpful if Lekala provided some sort of guidance as to what they think normal is, and also a guide to their terminology, as I was unsure about a couple of the optional measurements.

You can choose to have seam allowances included for $0.50 (about 32p in the UK), which I did, but they didn't charge me, something that also happened today when I ordered more patterns.

In less than a couple of hours, my pattern was emailed to me and I printed it out.  I have only pieced together a couple of other PDF patterns, and this one was the worst I have tried.  There are no helpful marks on the corners to make sure you have everything lined up, and it took me a few attempts to get it all sorted.

Making the tunic is easy.  You sew two back darts, then the two back panels together before attaching the front panel, then the facings.  The instructions are minimalistic, but give you enough to go on, and google is always there to help with any unfamiliar terms.

In total, I probably spent about 8 hours making the top, including cutting out, and this could have been reduced had I chosen not to top stitch the facings.
This is the front view of my tunic, I do still have to put buttons on the planket, but it is wearable without.  I have a couple of puckers at the shoulders where I think the armholes stretched, next time I will staystitch.

The casing for the tie is too high, I hate to think where it would have been if I'd said I had a normal bust height!!

The back is slightly less flattering, but I plan to take in the darts a bit as they are very narrow, and see what happens.  I'm also not sure how I feel about the back seam, it might not bother me in a darker colour, but it seems quite obvious here.

The fabric is this cotton shirting from Croft Mill, and was lovely to sew, although a little prone to fraying.  It's a good thickness and washes brilliantly.

What was the first successful top you made?

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Butterick 4685: Disaster Toile!

After making my brilliant circle skirt, I decided that I really should make a couple of tops to go with them and Butterick 4685 really took my fancy, the tops looked so pretty and I could see myself making all views of it.
At the weekend, I traced out my pattern pieces, as I was sure I'd want to make this again and again in various sizes.  I did have to lengthen the front and back body sections by 2" which surprised me as I never thought I had a long body.

One Tuesday, I cut out the pieces to make the view photographed on the cover,  and pinned them together, which is when I got a bit worried.  The top looked totally shapeless.  Although it did have a slight shaping at the waist, it was essentially straight sided, with no darts or any shaping tools.  I had a bit of a panic, and asked the wonderful ladies on The Sewing Forum for advice.  Most came back to say that with my generous bra size, they probably wouldn't have gone for this design, as it would end up like a sack and not be flattering at all.

Last night I decided to see what I could do to save it.  I took the seams in by a quarter inch around the bust, and a half inch around the waist, which helped a bit, but did cause some creasing across the bust.  I could live with that, but then I looked at the back, which was gaping badly.  As this was just a toile, I hacked a centre seam into the back piece and took about an inch out of it which also helped, but there was just no getting away from the fact that it looked like a sack.

I have to admit that I gave up at that point.  I'd also sewn the sleeve in the wrong way round, though in my defence, it was the first sleeve I'd ever put in.

I'm not giving up on the pattern, but I think I will try the view in the yellow as it has elastic under the bust which should help my problem, and I'll choose a smaller size doing a full bust adjustment.

I've now discovered Lekala patterns, and have ordered this one, which I hope will be more flattering.  I have my knitting group tonight, but I'm aiming to make it up on Friday to wear at the weekend.

Wish me luck!! Have you made any Lekala patterns, and if so, any hints?

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Crochet: my new toys

When I was at my knitting group last week, I noticed how quickly all the crochet girls were getting on with their projects.  I felt a little jealous as I tackled week 4 of what was meant to be a fast cowl for my mum's Christmas.  So what could I do, but buy myself a little set of crochet hooks and have a crack at it.

Crochet hook
I watched a lot of tutorials and finally, today, I got round to trying it out.  I struggle with holding the yarn right, but I'm sure once I am a bit more confident with the stitches, I can sort that out.  I'm also certainly not fast, but again, I'm sure that will come.

One thing that intrigued me about crochet was the stitch names...double crochet, treble crochet, half can you have a half treble?  I also found it really interesting that there is such a difference between UK and USA terms.  I've never been good at languages, but it looks like I will need to become bilingual for crochet at least.  It means that it's important to know where your pattern is from, and what terms it is using, as if you used the wrong one, your project would turn out totally different which would be disheartening for a beginner.

I can't wait to share all my new crochet adventures with you, any advice for me?

Before I go, I thought I would give you a close up of my lunchtime efforts.  I used a 5.5mm hook, which is probably a bit big for my wool, but I found it was easier to see my stitches and get a feel for what I was doing with it.
This is a few rows of UK double crochet, messy at parts, but a good effort I think

Friday, 4 July 2014

The increadible kindness of others

It feels a bit like Christmas today, I have, sitting beside me, a huge bag of fabrics and I'm itching to get started working with them.

Before I do anything I thought I would blog about how this all came about.  A lovely lady used to do a lot of sewing and has since given up, but still had a ridiculous stash of fabric and habby.  She decided to clear out, and to donate all the fabrics to people she knew, people who would love them and use them.

What followed was an incredibly exciting day of facebook activity, a photo and description of the fabric would be posted, and the first person to say yes would be given it.  When it came to buttons, it was so fast paced it was a real race to see who was given what.

I can honestly say that this lady has really made my day/month/year.  Due to having to support two houses on 1.5 salaries, we have not had much spare money, so I have been buying cheaper fabrics, often polycottons and synthetics, unless there is a brilliant deal going.  I firmly believed that any luxurious fabrics would have to wait.

I am honoured that I was allowed so many of the fabrics (I may have got a bit over excited, but who can blame me!).

So, what do I have in my bag?
The top left is a navy houndstooth wool suiting, which I hope to turn in to a suit for work, I've not measured it, but there seems to be plenty.

Beside it I have a couple of yards of a fairly thick linen which will be fabulous as a summer top

Then come the silks, that's right, 100% silk charmeuse or chiffon.  The rose patterned one is the chiffon, I'm already imagining a skirt with the chiffon floating over the top, and as I have about 5 yards of it, I may even consider a top and a dress! As it is silk, I would have to find some good deal for a similar quality lining for it, but it is so pretty.  The cherry and banana prints are so much fun, I'm hoping that the Cherries will turn into a tea dress type thing, and the bananas I am considering for a top or skirt.  The bright abstract is hopefully going to be a Sorbetto top, if I can work out how to adjust the darts.

Under the abstract is a Calvin Klein wool, its a burgundy red with dark green through it.  Again, I'm hoping to make this into a suit, though pattern matching could be fun.

The final row has a really fun Buru Buru dog print, which I plan to make into a little dress and nappy covers for a friend who is expecting a little girl.  The baby is due in November, so I'm aiming for about a 6 month size, but I have no idea which pattern to use.  Finally I have yards and yards of silk crepe (I think it's silk) which will be at least a skirt if not also tops and dresses.

In a final act of kindness, another lady dropped off my fabric to me as my hip is playing up again and I couldn't make it to where the fabric handovers were happening.

Which is your favourite from my new stash, and any suggestions for patterns?