A Spring Chicken… fabric panel Sweet tweets

Spring Chicken

I saw this cushion made up at my local fabric shop the Jolly Stitcher – I loved the combination of colours and I thought this fabric panel would be good fun to sew. I decided that it would make a lovely addition to my spring decorations.

The instructions were very clear – and easy to follow and pretty soon I was looking for ways to personalise it.

Sweet tweets bird cushion

I thought the pattern of flowers over the bird could do with a bit of embroidery – it would give me a little practice to hone my skills and try out new stitches.

Spring Chicken

I decided to quilt and embroider at the same time, as I wished to outline some of the pretty leaves as well as embellish the flowers. It was a fairly easy task accomplished in a few evenings while watching TV.

Sweet Tweets

I used a combination of weaving stitches, chain stitches and buttonhole stitch – trying to match the beautiful colour combinations as much a possible. I think the colours used was what excited me most about this project.

 

I thought the little fabric yoyo/ Suffolk puff came out beautifully when made, however, I wasn’t to sure about covering up the pretty eye design on the fabric.

Eye detail for cushion

In the end I opted to embroider the eye rather than cover it up with the yoyo/ Suffolk puff.

Sweet Tweets eye

It looked so pretty with the lovely colours and a nicer detail. I also struggled a little with the bird wings – they also covered up the pretty flower design but they looked so nice when they were sewn on.

Sweet Treats Embroidery bird cushion

Matching up each side of the cushion was tricky on the sewing machine – and the beak ended up virtually impossible to match without some white showing – so I ended up hand sewing the beak.

Spring bird cushion

this is the un-embroidered side and it looks lovely as it is – maybe I didn’t need to do all that embroidery after all – but then I always like to add a little bit of my own design into everything I do.

This was a lovely panel, easy to do and nicely put together – there is a smaller bird to go with this one – that I will make at a later date.

 

Advertisements

A valentine’s gift – a Man’s Kimono

Simplicity pattern 8318

The simplicity 8318 pattern is part of the costumes section – I think as a response to the film the last Samurai. I chose this because I wanted a more authentic style of kimono rather than using a dressing gown pattern.

Technical drawing

A kimono is virtually made up of rectangles – I did contemplate drafting a pattern myself but as it was a valentine gift for E, I wanted to ensure I had the style right.

A great tip is to use a photocopy of the technical drawing to record your measurements – it gives a great reference sheet when you are creating the garment.

The pattern was very large and unwieldy, the difficulty with this project is that E’s measurements were not rectangular – I needed a certain size at the waist but had to scale it down at the shoulders. So it became more of a trapezium with the bottom edge slightly wider than the top.

Geometric fabric blue grey.

One thing I will adjust in the pattern next time is that there is a back seam – my fabric was fairly geometric, but the pattern itself was tiny, to have spent time matching would have taken an age!

If you are using this pattern, cut the back piece on the fold, there is no shaping – it is a straight line. I was not making the long version of this Kimono so there was no need for a back opening (which is why the back patten piece is in two).

kimono simplicity 8318

As this Kimono was not lined – I did not want the interior to have overlocked edges showing. So I did a combination of French seams – and a lapped seam. (I might post how to do this soon). As you can see from the photograph this creates a seam with no raw edges showing. It is also a very strong seam – usually used on jeans.

I used bias binding for the sleeve edge and the bottom edge of the Kimono. It gives a flash of contrast but also gives a crisp finished edge.

Kimono male Simplicity 8318

The neck facing was odd, the pattern suggested a double faced edge that was velcro’d together. I could not see any point to it (perhaps it is what authentic kimono’s detail). I decided to make just one neck edge – but I gave it structure with a firm interfacing.

The obi belt is a lovely feature – it does finish off the kimono nicely. E was rather delighted with his kimono and it was all ready for Valentines day!

Happy sewing x ttfn x

Tailor made – dress form

Made to measure dress form neckline

It is quite a process to create a dress form that follows the contours of your body exactly. I have developed a fast and easy method that does not include duct tape or plaster casts.

Made to measure dressform

It is not for the feint hearted, to be faced with your body from the outside, all its lumps and bumps is quite distressing at first. Having been slim and lithe for most of my life, middle age is definitely spreading. However, once that shock is over, it gives an opportunity to really assess the body in terms of what I want to enhance and what I want to hide.

made to measure dress form

The dummy in this picture is not straight on mostly because I feel rather exposed showing this shape, but you get the drift. I do have some lovely fashion fabric to go over the dummy, but I find white is less distracting.

Made to measure arm hole

Having a dress form makes sewing so much easier, you can do alterations without stabbing yourself with pins, and given my sway back, I can ensure that the back sits perfectly.

The whole process took me approximately two days to do, but it is worthwhile… it really is key to getting good fitting garments.

 

Summer Flowers – Dress for a wedding

flowery fifties dress

A dear friend of mine was getting married so I decided to make myself a dress – I have been gradually working through my fabric stash -this beautiful fabric was bought a couple of years ago from a curtain shop that was closing down. In all I had just over three metres that I had snapped up for £7!

Fabric design

The fabric is big and bold the flower heads were enormous, but the repeat was manageable with the quantity of fabric I had. I also loved the weight of this cotton, similar to the purple linen I used for my spring dress. I have also been learning some Couture techniques that I was hoping to put in practise: using an underling.

Threadcount pattern

This pattern came with my Love Sewing Magazine and, joy of joys, it came in a DD cup! No full bust adjustment for once! What a brilliant idea! The Thread Count patterns are very well thought out and I hope that other patterns will follow their lead!

The princess seam line, just off the bust line works well for my body shape, it makes the bodice  easier to adjust without deep darts. I really struggle because my bust is quite big, I avoid waistline darts as there is not enough room and they end up very deep! The pattern was very easy to follow –  I was delighted to find after making the toile there was no pattern adaptation other than bringing in the back by a couple of inches.

I decided to change the lightly gathered skirt opting to use a circle skirt to avoid extra bulk around the midriff. I am short waisted with a bit of a tummy which reduces the overall space between the bust and waistline.

Princess seams

I used a beautiful soft voile as the underling – it was the first time I had used this technique – oh it is delightful, suddenly the garment has more structure! I hand stitched the princess seams open – it might look messier than my overlocker, but I find I really enjoy the control hand stitching gives! This will be covered by the lining anyway.

pattern matching 2

I used the underlining to pattern match the bodice pieces, I wanted the design to flow round the body – while the design was large I had enough fabric to get the pattern matching right on the bodice.

pattern matching side seam

The side seam worked beautifully – once again hand stitching the seams open to the underling, meant that no stitches came through to the front of the garment.

back bodice zip

The pattern matching came up well along the back bodice, although it was difficult to do on the skirt.   I hand stitched the zip to the underlining again – so there is no visible stitching line the right side, only the zipper pull is peeping out from the top.

Organza skirt lining

I used a organdie lining for the skirt – I had to pattern match as best I could – trying to ensure the flowers ran centrally along the front. The underlining helped the skirt to maintain its crisp shape, allowing the garment to flow around the body, as it is quite slippery.

threadcount pattern

The skirt flowers matched the bodice but I could not be as accurate as I was on the bodice as there simply wasn’t enough fabric to play with. Although I am quite pleased with the results.

Reading poem

Here I am wearing my dress and reading out a poem during the service, the dress was supported by a net underskirt.  It was a fabulous wedding and a beautiful day!

the Happy Couple

The happy couple! Congratulations!

Burda Skirt 6834 – perfect for hourglass, curvy girls and sway backs!

 

1-DSC03728

Home fires will be back on our screens soon – I love the show and quietly  coveted the beautifully fitted wool suits the ladies of the WI wore – so this was the inspiration behind this skirt. I wanted to challenge myself to make a really fitted garment without using stretch fabric.

I am an hourglass – while it might be the ideal body shape, it tests fitting skills to the max! Not only is there a 6 inch difference between my waist and hip measurement, but being short the height between waist and full hip is only 4 inches! If you think about an hourglass it is a rounded shape, so it not just goes in at the sides but also the front and back – so a sway back is part of the challenge (not to mention the rise of the middle aged tummy!).

 

If, like me, you are curvy, the traditional A line skirt ends up with huge deep darts at the back but the six piece skirt, like this pattern, offers more opportunity to accomodate the bulk over six seams – so this is an ideal pattern for curvy ladies!

As you can see from the toile the waist has to be reduced by quite a lot, but each seam can divide the overall reduction – giving a lot of opportunity to refine the shape.

I had to add a few inches at the hip – it is easy to do, just draw a straight of grain line in the centre of the pattern piece and add inches. As long as you do this inside the pattern lines you won’t alter any of the pattern edges so it should all line up.

Burda 6834 toile second fitting

The waistline of the second toile needed some adjustment but you can see that this pattern makes enhances curves! As I am fairly short, I decided to go for a slimmer flute at the bottom.

Burda 6834 skirt

I had this beautiful purple wool fabric in my stash – we are not into summer yet and wool is such a great fabric to wear – it seems to maintain an ambient temperature. I wanted this project to test my fitting abilities – and wool is the ideal choice because you can shape it so easily with steam.

 

The left hand picture shows the skirt seam before it is steamed – I used my dummy to maintain my shape as I gently held my steam iron about 4 inches away. Then using a pressing cloth to gently work from the seam outwards- look how beautifully the seam lays open – but also because you can stretch and shape the wool – it hugs the body nicely.

In order to avoid the ‘librarian’ look I wanted my skirt to be a bit edgy, so this embroidery design by urban threads was ideal. The top left is the design on white, but when I tried it as a sample on the fabric the black was not enough of a contrast to do the embroidery justice, so I used lime green!

Burda 6834 lining

My first lining fabric was a nightmare I chose it because it was fushia pink and made a great contrast but  it was way to flimsy and ended up fraying so I had to completely rip it out and re-do the lining. I had this lovely weighty oyster polyester silk which complemented the skirt nicely I decided to end the lining at the straight edge rather than the frill. I hand stitched it between the skirt facing, (while watching England play Wales in the Rugby) again on the tailor dummy to maintain the shape. Hand stitching gives you so much control – I am addicted to it. Years ago I avoided it – wrestling with my machine to get the fabric under the foot. Then unpicking it because the seam was off – now it is just a case of placing a stitch exactly where I want it and no unpicking!

 

I love my fancy machine stitches and never find much use for them – so it was nice to use a patterned stitch at the edge of the lining.(top right)  I made little chain tacks using in soft cotton Perle it holds the lining in place but allows for some movement. I also embroidered a tiny loop for my top closure using buttonhole stitch – my hand embroidery skills come in useful! It is these tiny details that give me such satisfaction. I don’t want my sewing to be the same as a shop bought skirt – I want it to be better! These details have mostly disappeared as clothing is made as fast and as cheaply as possible.

I love my skirt – it was a painstaking effort in all it took me three weekends to make but it was worth it. The lining slips around beautifully and it is so warm and figure hugging – I could never buy the same fit, I am just too oddly shaped!

The fitting took a lot of time but that was the challenge of this exercise and I have my toile to make more skirts!

I would recommend this pattern – its the first time I used a Burda pattern – having learned a few couture techniques I thought wrongly that Burda patterns did not include a seam allowance, but they have changed.  I think Burda have some great styles and the instructions are straight forward, although I have to admit, I didn’t follow them!

ttfn x

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Knits! – Jersey Kate Dress, Love Sewing Magazine

tips for stretch fabrics-3

 

Many retailers are making clothing in Knit fabrics because it allows for more flexibility with sizing – but they offer a challenge to the home sewer that is easy to overcome.

Stretch fabrics have a life of their own – Jersey is a very finely knitted fabric which can be made from many different fibres from cotton to polyester. Some might shy away from Polyester, but recent developments have produced blends that are warm, soft and fluid, like the fabric I chose for my project.

So here are my top tips for successful sewing with Knits:

Made for mi tips for stretch knits one layer at a time

Cut your fabric in one layer

Most patterns are made to be cut on the fold, but with stretch fabrics the lower part of the fabric can shift. It is best to draft a new patten piece and cut a single layer. If you don’t have any pattern paper, you can lay the pattern out on one side, then turn it over to cut the second side making sure you don’t disturb the fabric.

The left hand square was cut on the fold, the right and square cut in a single layer. Notice how much the left hand square has grown on the left side almost 5cm! The left hand side  was the underside of the fabric when it was being cut.

Don’t cut out your fabric all at once – cut each piece as you sew – the less time the fabric has to move the better the stability and the more likely the piece will retain its shape.

tips for stetch knits made for mi

Use a rotary cutter and self healing mat

The fabric shifts and moves easily! Take care not to shift the fabric around while cutting – I caught the bottom of my fabric pulled it slightly during cutting, I thought I had rectified it but when I compared the pattern to the fabric, I had cut the bottom edge 1/2 inch smaller!

The act of cutting with scissors lifts the fabric – causing it to stretch and move. A rotary cutter puts downward pressure on the fabric and anchors it in place while cutting.  Accuracy will improve and it is easier to follow the sharp armhole curves.

Needles

Use a stretch needle

These are different to ball point needles – they are coated with anti-static, which prevents the fabric from sticking to your needle, causing skipped or missing stitches. They also have ball points that move the needle between the knit rather than piercing the threads and causing a ‘run’ (it looks like a ladder that you see in tights!).

Madeformi tips for stretch knits use a walking foot

If you don’t have an overlocker – use a Walking Foot.

Overlockers are made for stretch fabrics – they have what is called a differential feed – that means two sets of feed dogs, one on the bottom that feeds the fabric through, and one on the top that pushes the fabric out.

An overlocker can push more fabric though the bottom than is being pushed out at the top and visa versa – hence the term ‘differential’. The seam created has a little stretch of its own.

If you plan on making lots of stretch fabrics it is worth the investment of an overlocker, it speeds up the making process by neatening the edges as the garment is sewn.

A walking foot – creates an upper fabric feed system to work with the feed dogs so that your sewing machine can create a similar seam – it works very effectively and allows a little more control when stitching.

 

Use the right stitch

If you are using your sewing machine – ensure that you use a knit stitch  or if not set your width just above zero so that each stitch is a tiny zigzag, this will give your stitching the flexibility to  move with your fabric as it expands and contracts.

Thread

Use the right thread

Let there be a harmonious marriage between  fabric and thread. Natural fabrics need natural threads, synthetic fabrics need synthetic thread – polyester knits are best stitched with polyester thread, cotton with cotton – save your sanity and seam ripper!

tips for stretch fabrics

Stabilise necklines with twill tape or ribbon

Necklines will grow – more so with stretch fabrics. Stabilise them by stitching a narrow twill tape or ribbon just inside the seam allowance.  Do this immediately after cutting this piece and you will reduce the opportunity for growth!

You can use the iron on hemming tape for speed but it is not as durable.

Use more stable fabrics for facings

Facings are often used around necklines and armholes – because they lay inside the garment you can use more stable fabrics such as cotton or fleece. Or in this sample above I placed the facing on the outside using black wool.

Try to ensure that the facing fabric matches the weight of your knit so that they are balanced.

If you want to use the same fabric  stitch a layer of organza on the inside edge of the facing, this will give the neckline more stability without adding bulk.

Here is my finished Kate Jersey Dress

Happy stitching

Kate Jersey dress finished front