Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fit for a Queen

The lovely Mrs Mole who blogs about the brides who come to visit her, over at Fit for a Queen, has recently featured my disaster with McCalls 6844, a pattern that seems to universally popular . . . . except with me.  She has a 'Sew Bad Saturday' feature - which she describes as:

'let the pattern makers see what happens when real people with real bodies try to re-create their visions on the front of the envelope. Get helpful comments and suggestions from other sewers thinking about venturing into purchasing your pattern choice…in other words…save them the trouble!'

Do take a look - it may save you some time and money!!  And if you have something to contribute - let her know, we are all in this together after all!

In the meantime, I've been making some more cute pouches that are being auctioned to raise money for Galgos del Sol:

I hope that they raise lots of money!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Late to the Party - Simplicity 2154 with a side of Ginger

If truth be told, I am not one of the cool cats, that jumps on a new pattern as soon as it is published, makes it up without delay, and then posts fabulous photos online to make everyone else drool over it with envy and longing.  In fact, I fall into the 'envy and longing' hanger on category and on a number of occasions, by the time I come to buy the pattern it is fast on it's way to becoming OOP.  Such was the case with Simplicity 2154, a retro suit pattern.  It was the cardi that I was interested in - I love cardies, and have made one or two in my time, so this last weekend I thought that I would have a play, using up some leftover lengths of fabric.

I give you pink:

And lilac:

And stripes (Oooh!  Looking a bit grumpy here - and this was the best pic out of the batch!):

And to finish off, a bright cheery one!  You may recognise the fabric from another cardi that I made a few weeks ago.

So, what can I tell you about this pattern?  I love it.  The only changes I made was to chop 2" off the length, and one inch off the shoulder length.  Other than that - this was a 'straight out the packet' sew for me.  I will probably play around with the sleeve and draft up another, slimmer fitting one that comes down to my wrist - this one is designed to be cropped a little higher.

The pattern comes together very easily - unfortunately I managed to loose the instructions, so I made it up in my own way.   The only issue was with the front facing - I had to search around a little to work out how to attach it and I am really pleased with the results.  All the seams are overlocked/serged, and then most of them are top-stitched in place.  I did have some fun with the facings and used some pretty ribbons:

Most are 7/8" or 1" with the exception of the blue ribbon which is 1.5" wide.  The cream facing is the only grosgrain - and I did wash them all first, so that there won't be any 'shrinking' surprises! I also used snaps on these cardis - The thought of so many teeny tiny buttonholes did not fill me with joy and happiness.  I am happy with my decision - the snaps work well with the casual vibe of these cardis.  Aaaaaaand, there are another four in the wings - just waiting for some more snaps to arrive to finish them off!  My Pattern Review can be found here.

Why yes, thanks for noticing, I am wearing more jeans in these photos!  I now have the blue stripes that I mentioned in the last post (see the pink cardi above), some plain black ones (patterned cardi above) with black top stitching, and some thinner blue/black jeans with purple topstitching (lilac cardi).  Here are a couple of close up that show the stitching and the gorgeous co-ordinated pockets, zips and waistbands.  First are the blue/black denim with purple stitching:

And here are the black ones - not sure what happened with the zip colour when I took the photo, but it does match, honest!

This last pic shows that I add a small piece of leather to act as a washer in between the waistband and the pin that gets hammered into the jeans button.  I use a small punch to make the hole in the fabric, and was concerned that the (cough, cough) stress on the waistband might pull the pin out, and this small piece of leather (cut from a bag of offcuts I picked up somewhere, very cheaply!) works perfectly!

So, what is next?  Well, I think that I need some lightweight tops to wear with my jeans, and under a cardi - they would be perfect for layering, and also on their own when (if) Spring arrives.  I have seen quite a few versions of the Gibson blouse, and the Sutton top, and have both of them downloaded and printed!  I also picked up some of this gorgeous fabric which will almost certainly end up as small pouch bags (like I used for the Princess and the Pea)!

How is you sewing coming along?  What plans are you working on?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Jeans Waistband - My Upsidedown Method!

I just wanted to share how I constructed the waistband on my recent Ginger jeans.  It is probably a standard method - but I like to think that it is something that I dreamed up myself and that it is a totally new!  In any case - here is what I did!

The outer waistband piece (which I have interfaced here) is attached in the usual manner, right sides together along the waist.  Incidentally, one of things that I learned during one of my sewing classes is that you should fit your waistband to your body - then attach it to your trousers, stretching it if needed.  I find that this works especially well with the jeans and gives a nice snug fit.  It probably does not make too much difference to those of you who have lovely hour-glass or pear shaped bodies, but for those of us that are cylinders, a bit of cinching in at the waist works wonders and stops my jeans falling down!

As you have probably noticed with these jeans,  I did not add a fly shield, so I need to extend the waist band a little to attach the button.

Next up, sew the facing of the waistband along the same sewing line where you attached the outer waistband.

Square off the edges, and trim/grade the seams if required.   I run my serger along the waist seam.  It tidies it up and leaves a nice even seam allowance.

The next job is to press the waistband (outer and facing) up.  Now look at that lovely tidy seam you have where your waistband attaches to your jeans!

Now you need to get your 'ironing-on'!  I marked the top edge of the outer waistband with 1/2" chalk line and pressed it down.  The facing is then pressed down to match - the top two edges need to match exactly but you can maneuver the facing as you sew along.

On the photo below you can see that the pressing looks mismatched where I moved the jeans for the photos, but you get the idea.

Look how flat and level it all looks!

All you need to do now is your edge and top stitching.  I do this from the right side and for these jeans I edge-stitched with a contrast thread about 2mm from the edge - this closes up the top waistband edge.  I then edge-stitched with matching thread using my 1/4" foot.  Below you can see how tidy this looks from the inside as well.

Add the button and buttonhole and you are good to go!

How about you - what tricks do you have to make your garments look better than the rest?!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Jean Jeanie

It was bound to happen.  I just can't make something once . . . . and my jeans pattern is now a firm TNT!

But let me take you back a few steps.  I made a pair of Ginger Jeans a week or so ago, and although I loved all the top-stitching and the actual 'putting together' of the jeans, there were a few fit problems.  Well, one major one really - the 'ole saggy butt'.  I do not have a pert tush to fill out jeans, and toddled off to my fabulous sewing teacher Janice for some advice.  There was the option of taking a huge horizontal pleat just under my butt, then dealing with all the other required alterations, or using my trousers TNT and moving on from there, so McCalls 5239, come on down!  I have used this pattern many times to make pull on, lined work trousers.  It fits well (thanks to Janice's fabulous pattern alterations) so what a great place to start.  It should be added that I tissue fitted the Ginger Jeans, and I could immediately see the problem - the pattern is clearly designed for a more hippy sistah with a well defined hip and waist.  Unlike myself with a more 'cylinder with dents' figure.

I used the Ginger pattern for the pockets, fly, yoke and general style, and my TNT for the rise and crotch.  My wearable muslin worked well - sorry, no pics as the fabric creases terribly and I have already worn them to work, so today I made up a pair (#3) in a dark navy denim.  This fabric is heavier than my first pair - and my machine can tell the difference - but they sewed up well.  I made a few changes (well, who wouldn't) and I am thrilled with his version.

Pockets - my wearable muslin had packet stays, and they were OK, but for pair #3 I used the Ginger pockets - I love how they are just one piece and fold over.  I did make three inches longer though - the original pattern piece is very small.

For topstiching I used regular thread in gold.  I think that it looks more subtle than the proper thread.  In fact I made a quick sample to test the differences:

I also changed the back pockets.  They were designed to have a straight side and a curved side, I redrew mine to be symmetrical and have two straight sides.

Waistband - I attached this in a totally different way.  I like to think that it is one that I have developed myself, but I suspect that it is a common way of doing it - just new to me!  My problem with waistbands is that I struggle to get a nice looking seam on the inside where the waistband and the trousers meet.  Like this:

So what I did with these was attach the outer denim waistband as usual, I then attached the waistband lining along the same seam.  Next was to sew the two short ends (right sides together).  I now have a raw edge for both the outer and the inner waistband along the top waist seam.  I pressed each piece down 1/2", and when I top and edge stitch, this raw edge was sewn closed.  I really like this finish and think it looks a lot smarter.

I do still have a problem with excess fabric in the upper thighs, and I will work on that.  I think it is getting better though.  This pic shows RTW cords, jeans #1, jeans #3:

It looks as though I will need to re-hem #3 as they were bunching up rather unattractively at the bottom, hence the 'turn ups' here!  I think I can do with taking out 1/2" horizontally from the yoke and it also looks as though I have one hip lower than the other.  But I think that has more to do with how I was standing.  I was kind of 'over' the photo session!

I also wanted to show you the guide that I use when sewing the fly.  When I took a class with Ron Collins last autumn, he recommended these guides, and I managed to pick them up on eBay really cheaply.  You can use them on the fabric and sew up against them, but I prefer to use them to chalk the sewing lines.  They come in different widths to accommodate various fly sizes.

And that has been it really.  I cut out another pair last night in a slightly lighter blue denim, and I now feel happy enough with the pattern to be able to sew these straight off the pattern (I do need to work on the pocket topstitching - have a signature design!), and I will be making some tops and cardis next weekend.  I feel that I am slowly getting a handle on my 'casual' wardrobe, and it feels good!

PS.  Still no outside photos - the weather had picked up nicely, then Friday night we had about 10" snow.  It looks lovely, but a pain to take photos in!