Sunday, 18 December 2016

Pin stripe trousers and peacock feathers


I am today showing you my latest pair of 'smart' trousers and a blouse I made a few weeks back that I never got round to blogging about.

I bought the trouser fabric recently while on a trip with friends to Winchester. C&H always have a loaded remnant table which is well worth sorting through. I picked up this 1.5 metres of beautiful and unusual pin stripe suiting for just £11.28. It's a medium weight and feels like wool but it handled well and didn't shrink in the prewash. It holds a crease and is soft and warm to wear, ideal for the winter months.

I faced the pockets with fabric and made the pockets from some scrap cotton that was once a duvet cover!

I decided I'd made several pairs of trousers from my original SFD Pants Sloper and it was beginning to look decidedly worn. I thought since my Fit and Sew Retreat a couple of months ago that perhaps it was time to re-evaluate  and redraw a new body blueprint. When I finished I was delighted to see how close the old and new actually were.

I must admit the photos don't do justice to these trousers as I tried to get the camera to focus on my lower half I realise I have tilted the tripod which makes my legs look a lot shorter than they are [I'm 5ft 7in] and the angle has made them look less flattering than in reality.

I am very happy with the fit and feel and have already worn them to a Christmas Function which drew some nice comments that are always a bonus.

I had the peacock feather fabric in my stash for some time and I can't remember where I bought it although it was probably in Nazare, Portugal during our spring trip to the area. I remember falling in love with the print as soon as I saw it and then couldn't quite make up my mind how best to use it.

I eventually made this soft shirt with a faux tie using a pattern I self drafted and made previously here

Although the design I created uses a yoke I tried to match the back so that the design was consistent. 

Here are some photos of the pieces I drafted that make up these trousers. You will also see how I store them in a plastic folder with a piece of fabric to remind me how I used them.

My future projects will focus around our next big adventure. We're off to Australia in Spring 2017 so I need to make a lightweight capsule wardrobe that will travel well. Any ideas?

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Safari Jacket

Anyone who has the SFD Shirt Kit will hopefully recognize this jacket from the front cover.

A few slight changes but in essence I have used Glenda's design to make my Safari Jacket.

I'm really delighted with the result although I have used  a medium to heavy denim [described as Elephant Colour by my friend, which I though was appropriate for a Safari] that makes it quite heavy and certainly wouldn't be the best to wear in a hot climate.

However, it's perfect for the UK especially as we're heading swiftly towards Winter. 

I love the design elements, the pleated pockets, the edge stitching and the fact I found buttons to exactly match a buckle I had in my stash.

This jacket is fully lined in a light grey polyester fabric I had already and the denim was purchased during my recent visit to The Fabric Godmother in Hove when they had an open day.

The lighting in my sewing room isn't the best for taking photos and these were taken late at night with my little tablet so not the best but I hope you get the idea.
I haven't blogged for a while but I have been sewing. I made a shirt for my husband's birthday in the middle of November but so far he hasn't worn it so no photos and I went on an SFD Fit & Sew Retreat in the UK so lots to report on that adventure in my next blog.

What I will say here is that I wish I'd been three years ago when I first started sewing. If anyone in the UK is new to SFD, PLEASE go on one of Judith's Retreats, you will learn loads and it'll make the system so simple from the beginning.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Fleece Jacket that doesn't deserve a Blog

Looking back over the last three years of my sewing journey and I can see I've made huge improvements but the fact is that lately I seem to have regressed and fallen foul of mistakes I shouldn't be making any more.

How can this happen?

I made a new fleece jacket to wear through Autumn and Winter. Having made a few fleeces before I was confident of success this time and although I really need to make a proper winter coat, I haven't reached that level of construction yet so this would be an easy make - Yes?

I bought this fabric back in August whilst we were up in the Lake District for a Family Gathering. While my husband and a friend wanted to walk all day up on some faraway mountain ridge, I opted for the far more favourable pastime of fabric shopping in Penrith, Cumbria. I had visited Just Sew during a previous visit so knew exactly where to head. I bought this super soft polar fleece which although a bit 'in your face' contained the light turquoise and purple tones that are in my favourite palette.

The cutting out to my well tried and fitted pattern went well and starting the sewing was no problem either. Then I got to the zip. I'd learned from the original Craftsy Class I bought some time back that the secret for inserting the open ended zip was to use double sided tape to place it in position before sewing. I had done this previously and it worked like a dream but NOT this time.

I must have used a different tape before because no matter how many times I changed the needle on my machine, the stickiness of the glue attached itself to the needle and gummed up everything stopping the stitch from being created. I changed needles, I tried cleaning the needle with a cotton pad soaked in degreaser every time it was in the up position and I even tried my old Janome workhorse machine to see if it would work without fuss. Nothing I did made any difference. The tape was so well stuck I couldn't remove it to start again so it was without doubt the worst effort to produce a wearable garment since I began sewing.

I ended up hand topstitching which was like trying to push a needle through a lump of concrete.

I am so NOT proud of this but at least the photos show how snuggly comfortable the jacket is. I think Tesco's is probably the only place likely to see me wearing it out so if you spot me [and with that fabric why wouldn't you?] please don't come too close as the stitching is unforgivable.


I love the casual wearability of a fleece jacket and I will make this versatile pattern again but next time I will use a tiny bit of stick gum in strategic places [across the yoke join to ensure it matches exactly] and hand sew a basting stitch instead to position the zip.


So now to choose another fleece fabric. I found this woodland scene fleece on the Just Sew website at £6.00 per metre. Hmmm not too sure about it??? What do you think?

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Tunics - What a super garment!

Back in May I pre-ordered a book called The Tunic Bible written by one of my favourite sewing bloggers, Sarah Gunn [Goodbye Valentino] and her colleague Julie Starr. It arrived last week a day after my visit to Goldhawk Road. I did buy some fabric whilst we were there with a tunic in mind knowing the arrival was imminent. Since I requested the book nearly six months ago I've noticed a distinct growing trend in this versatile garment both in the shops and with pattern makers so I couldn't wait to join in.

My excitement grew as the publishing date arrived and several bloggers were asked to give their opinion on the book. They were nearly all very favourable and I waited in keen anticipation for the postman to deliver my copy. One slightly negative but honest comment I read was that it may not be a book for absolute beginners due to the lack of step-by-step instructions despite the design being simple and straightforward. Having now made my first attempt [actually it was second if you count the muslin] I totally agree with what had been said. However I think the benefit of this book is the inspiration for mixing and matching necklines, sleeves, collars, hem lengths and trims to create a totally unique top each time. It is crammed full of ideas and examples along with the basic pattern but the design belongs to you, the creator.

I decided on a lilac cotton lace with a scalloped border which brought about its own challenges. Firstly, with no hems to the body or sleeves I had to work out the lengths exactly so that the scallops were at the correct position - no room for error.

After tracing off the pattern I made adjustments to the dart position by inserting a 3cm strip above the bustline [on back and front] which then also put my waistline into the correct place. I made a muslin out of an old sheet and it fitted me fine just pulling it over my head without the need for a side zip which is a suggested option in the book. Having pre-washed the lace fabric I cut out and then started to make up the finished tunic. I began with the neckline and trim, then I made and joined the collar. All fine so far. 

Then I added the first sleeve successfully so used my overlocker to serge the seam and then took a closer look to inspect my work. I couldn't believe what I found - a large flaw right in the centre of the sleeve. There was no way round this other than to remove the sleeve and start again. Luckily I just had enough fabric left over to cut another sleeve but then had to sew it in with the back and front armscye having already been trimmed by the serging!

Yet another challenge was adding the ribbon which had to be added to the 'V' neckline in two pieces so that the little hearts were both pointing in the same direction. Just a small detail but these are the things that make it more professional. I then added ribbon to the side slits to match the neckline and collar and I'm pleased with the result. 

I do think that I might add a bit more ease across my back shoulders next time though as it is quite snug there which didn't seem apparent in the muslin.

A tunic is a brilliant shape as it suits all figure types and covers many an issue whilst still being flattering and feminine. I can quite understand why it has gained so much popularity.

 So here it is, my finished tunic but not my last. I have plans for one or two more so watch out for the blogs. However I will inspect the fabric more closely next time before cutting out - Another lesson learned!!

I have made many mistakes on my sewing journey and I always get annoyed at having to undo bits after construction but finding a fault in the fabric was a bitter blow and I nearly threw the whole thing in the bin.

Let me know if this has ever happened to you, I'd love to know I'm not the only one.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Creating a Capsule Wardrobe from a Goldhawk Road Visit

If you've ever been to Goldhawk Road in London you'll know what a fabric Mecca it is. If you've never been you MUST go. It's THE fabric district in London comprising of at least 14 Aladdin's Caves right outside the Goldhawk Road Tube Station. As soon as you exit into the street ahead the sights and signs of fabric, fabric and more fabric loom into view. 

Like a kid with a new toy, you dive into the nearest shop and immediately realise that it is a vast warehouse of bolts stacked from floor to ceiling and not just as far as the eye can see but on different levels too. In some, they are so crammed it's difficult to push past, especially with a rucksack on your back which was brought in the high expectation I might be tempted to buy a couple of metres!!

Oh if I'd only stopped after a couple but with so much choice, what was a girl to do? 

These pictures will give you a little bit of the flavour and how exciting the whole day was for us. In fact I forgot to take any more pics after these as I needed both hands for touching and feeling the fabrics except for this one below.

Here you can see my friend and two of the pieces she bought. I learned so much from her during the day as I watched her focus on building her capsule wardrobe selections.

Her first choice was a gorgeous Liberty Print at a bargain price of only £12.00 per metre that had a pale green background with sage green and muted burgundy flowers amongst other tones of both colours. As you can see here she found a fantastic linen blend in the exact background colour for a pair of trousers and a skirt.

Later in the day and in other establishments she bought more fabric that picked out the burgundy hues. I could see how her method of bringing out that first Liberty print at every opportunity allowed her to focus on the exact matching colours keeping in mind the drape and handle of each piece so she knew what garment she had in mind to create her Autumn capsule collection.

This was a masterclass for me and although she probably hadn't set out to, had given me a much needed education on how to go about buying fabric.

When faced with so much choice my method has been to pick colours or fabrics that I'm drawn to. I adore bright turquoise and teal, I love pink and mauve but I don't like red or yellows. My problem is mixing the colours I like into a palette that allows me to tone with others to create an outfit. I don't think I've paid enough attention to this aspect of sewing. I've concentrated on the execution of creating a comfortable, well fitted garment that I am proud to wear but I've neglected to create a 'look' for me as a whole outfit.

I really need to stop making a top or a pair of trousers just because I can. I need to develop more than just the hobby of sewing and go beyond the garment itself.

I'm so grateful to my friend for showing me the direction I need to travel next and I'd love to see your comments below on this. Do you have a similar dilemma? Have you made items that work as an individual garment but with no thought to others in your closet?

What did I buy, I hear you ask? Well I wasn't in the same league as my friend and I did buy 5 pieces as well as some knit fusible interfacing but I'll blog about my purchases and what I have in mind to make with them soon.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

A Wallet

Hi everybody,
I'm so sorry I haven't uploaded any new blogs for a while but it isn't because I haven't been sewing, it's more because I haven't taken any photos of me wearing them. I promise I'll do it soon and catch up but meanwhile I can show you my latest make - a wallet.

 As you can see I used the fabric that I had left over from the bag I made some time ago so it matches nicely.
The wallet is called 'Pop to the Shops' and is the newest sewing course in classes presented by Deby Coles who explains she is originally from the UK and judging by her accent I would say that was probably the West Country [Dorset, Devon or Cornwall] but she is a good tutor although I think she would have projected her personality a little more if she smiled a bit. Just my opinion...
In this last photo you can see that I have linked the wallet to the zipper pull of the bag. This not just so I can't forget it once I'm paying for something but it's a small thief deterrent [I don't mean it will only deter small thieves but you know what I mean!!]

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

My Sewing Room, before and after makeover

I haven't been able to sew recently due to having my sewing room redecorated but I am so pleased with the result and I can't wait to show you so here goes...

The first video shows the room as it was although I had already started to clear the room when I though about making this video

The second video shows the room completely cleared and the contents stacked up in the spare room.

And finally...

Let me know what you think

Friday, 22 July 2016

Exclusive shirt with mock scarf tie and lightweight trousers for summer

At last we have some real sunshine and heat here in the South of England so with the windows of my sewing room open and the curtains billowing all around me, I've kept cool and welcomed hearing the birds singing outside.

So what have I made this week? Well I feel quite pleased with myself and feel I've come a long way on my sewing journey. From novice just three years ago I now have the confidence to use my basic sloper to design garments exactly as I want them to look.

The shirt I made last week [blogged at the bottom here] fitted well but I had some soft grey and light teal fabric that seemed to want something less structured yet retaining some of the classic shirt elements. I thought a pussy bow blouse might do it but I didn't want the fussiness of the bow. Then my latest copy of BurdaStyle magazine arrived and there was a superb design for a shirt in the Plus Fashion section that showed a scarf / tie looped through a fake knot at the front to simulate a sort of Windsor Knot. That was exactly the look I was after so I set about designing my new shirt with that in mind.

With hindsight I think it might have looked better if I'd placed it a bit lower but overall I am pleased with the result.

This top has bust and waist darts at the front and back waist darts but it wasn't meant to be totally fitted, I just wanted it to have some shape but retain the look of a shirt.
I added a small amount of fabric to the back fold and used this to form a pleat at the back yoke and kept the shirt tail hem. I quite like the look of the shirt tucked in with the tie hanging below waist level.

The cuffs have a placket and angled corners on both ends. I was thrilled to find the perfect buttons in my collection which I remember being on a suit my Mum had so I have the memory of her in this shirt too.

The trousers are made from a lightweight fabric that I bought in Nazare, Portugal earlier this year and it behaved beautifully. I did think that it might be too light and need lining but I think they work for a summer pair and would be too hot if lined.

They are mostly grey with a pink thread running through it which gives them a more feminine look. Despite feeling quite thin the fabric holds pressing well and although it has no stretch doesn't 'bag' with wear so will travel well and will definitely be packed for my next Portuguese trip in September.

I hope you like this outfit and are inspired to take design elements where you find them to make your own individual items.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

More Jeans and a New Shirt

Once I finished my Tangerine Jeans I was motivated to use the fabulous turquoise fabric I bought when we passed through Vendôme in France earlier this year for another pair.

If I am happy with a completed garment I often want to dive straight in and make another similar item almost immediately which doesn't make a lot of sense really but there you go...

The fabric has some stretch and I knew would be perfect for jeans. This time I decided to make them more subtle and used a co-ordinated thread for the back pockets and top stitching instead of contrast. The top I am wearing in the photos was made a long time ago but the colours were a perfect match. I don't particularly like this top but I was still learning and experimenting when I made it. I don't think the peplum style is good on me and the sleeves aren't buttoned cuffs that I favour so don't pay it too much attention as it is the jeans that I am trying to show you at this time.

Next up is a 'V' neck shirt with collar and stand made from my SFD shirt kit body blueprint. The cuff detail doesn't show that well in the photos but I put a corner on upper buttonhole edge and left the under button side straight. I think I would cut both of next time to show the detail up more.

I was also pleased that having watched a Craftsy Class by Suzy Furrer on drafting sleeves and plackets, I picked up the comment that plackets should point exactly to the elbow and as you see I managed to achieve this.

The fabric is 100% cotton that I've had in my stash for some time and to be honest I can't remember where I got it which is a shame because I usually know where every piece is from and if I've bought it while we're away from home, wearing the garment always reminds me of the place.

The contrast fabric was also in my stash and that was part of some small pieces given to me by a friend who lives near Poole in Dorset. It matched perfectly and was too small to be used as anything other than trimming.

Please excuse the photo showing the tails which I should have given a final press before showing you but as it seems ages since I last blogged I was anxious to get writing.

As you see my lack of blogs is not because I haven't been sewing but more because I haven't been taking photos... Sorry.