Sunday, 31 January 2016

You may need sunglasses to view this blog!!

Yes I know, it's a bit 'in your face' but sometimes the fancy just gets you. I'm sure I'm not the first [and I won't be the last] to buy some fabric with a clear plan in mind and then once you're home again and you take the fabric out of the bag, you think 'What on earth was I thinking???'

Well that was the situation when I bought this lightweight pink tie dye fabric that had a linen feel to it. Jeanne and I were on a visit to Goldhawk Road and this just reached out and said 'make me into a flash pair of jeans.' Well I couldn't say no to that request so here they are....

I've made several pairs of jeans using my SFD blueprint and followed Glenda's Jeans: Behind the Scenes video instructions with great success. The waist and hips fit me well, however, I always felt that I could have narrowed the legs more and this fabric was my opportunity to do just that. 

I took about 1.5 cm off each side of both the front and back which meant a total of 6 cm all round each leg. Had I overdone it? I followed Glenda's video advice to measure against the width of some RTW jeans. I had a pair that I bought a few years back and whilst the waistband is almost too tight to wear them now the leg width is just how I like it so that's what I did.

The resulting jeans are a good fit and although the fabric may be a bit too much for most situations I'm sure I'll wear them in the summer in Europe on our next vacation visit or just round the house. At least they have been a good test muslin and the altered jeans sloper is now ready for the next 'posh' pair.

The fabric itself is a bit flimsy and although I gave the fabric a good wash before I cut it out to adjust for any shrinkage, the resulting jeans are very comfortable but I am wondering whether this will still be the case after I've washed them again. Will they shrink more and will they still be comfortable or even wearable? Well, I'll report back after they've been laundered but as this was extremely cheap fabric, I'm not bothered. As a muslin they did their job and I'm now confident that my next 'proper' jeans will  have a slimmer leg.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Raglan from Luxembourg Fabric

We had a trip through Europe last summer in our Motorhome and visited several countries [France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland] on our way to Venice in Italy. During a brief stop-over in Luxembourg I found an enormous and fabulous fabric shop where I bought just a metre of stretch jersey fabric. It cost €20.30 which is quite a lot for me to spend on what would be just a T-shirt.

I have had it in my stash for some time but when I found a similar weight jersey in black I immediately thought of the raglan T-shirt in Wendy's U-Stretch book so that is what it became.

It has an abstract design in pink, grey and black and has a fair stretch in both directions.

I used the black for the neckband to link the two sleeves and added a fabric band to the end of the sleeves as cuffs.

It was all made up very quickly using just my overlocker [serger]. 

I am really happy with the fit which is shaped where it needs to be without being too tight and the length is exactly where I like a T-shirt to sit on me.

It may have cost more than a cheap basic T-shirt from Tesco or Primark but it is the length and fit I want as well as being totally unique and that's why we all sew our own isn't it?

 This is a comfortable top that will get lots of wear in the spring on warmer days which I hope are not too far off.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Stylish Shirt or Japanese Dressing Gown?

I got an email recently from Mad Jak's, a small fabric shop in Shere near Guildford, Surrey announcing they were having a 50% off sale. What was a girl to do? The shop is about 15 miles from me but off I went in keen anticipation of adding substantially to my stash while there were bargains to be had.

The reality was actually like every other visit I've made here. There is a limited selection and if I go looking for stretch fabrics they only have cotton wovens, if I go wanting a bright coloured silky, drapey fabric they have more jersey and fleece. I never leave with more than one or two pieces and my wallet fairly in tact which can be disappointing. This day was no exception and the sale made the very cramped fabric area into a mess of discarded pieces of remnants that people were tramping over and rummaging through.
I had no choice other than to join them but found nothing of interest. Then I spotted a basket of loose overlocker cones on the floor and picked up the first one which was covered in fluff and grubbiness to hold up to an assistant so as to enquire the price. £2.75 was the answer with the added comment that they weren't in the sale!! I quickly put it back amongst the other sad examples and let the bargain hunters continue to trample over them!!! When Lidl's sell them at 2 for £4.00 they are excellent value, clean and sealed in plastic although limited colour choice they are fine for basic requirements.
But I did spot this fabric on a bolt by the door as I was about to leave and told myself I couldn't justify driving all that way without something to show for it. So, this red and black print which is a warm cotton at the sale price of £5.00 per metre was my choice. I bought 1.5 Metres and that would have been plenty to make the whole shirt. However, I decided to use some silky plain black from my stash as a contrast for the roll collar, front placket and cuffs.

The design is based on Glenda's 'V' neck shirt [from SFD] which she published last year. I have made this a couple of times and really love the way the neckline gives a shirt a more feminine feel and look.

I was delighted with my progress until I finished the major construction and placed it on my mannequin to stand back for an overview. It then hit me that the colour combination reminded me of a Japanese kimono style housecoat. I hope the finished garment doesn't give the same impression but I can now see why I don't normally go for red even though the shirt is very comfortable to wear and goes well with my new black jeans blogged here.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Tailored Shirt with Paisley Trim

As promised in my previous blog I wanted to show you my new shirt which would have been very plain and ordinary if it hadn't been for the paisley trim from scraps left from the shawl collar blouse.

Cuffs turned back
The fabric is a duck egg blue cotton which is not too lightweight but is excellent shirt weight and has a soft feel to it. It has been in my stash for ages and I think it was an eBay purchase but I can't really remember.
I used the trimming on the under side of the upper collar and the inside of the collar stand as well as inside the cuffs. The grey blue colour of the main fabric is an exact match for the paisley print and adds that little pop of colour and interest that takes this from being a plain shirt into something a bit special.

Once again I used the new SFD shirt kit which gives a slight feminine shaping without the fully fitted darts. I wanted a more casual shirt that I could wear either outside or tucked into a waistband but I didn't want it too shapeless or looking too much like a man's shirt. I didn't make it overly long as I definitely wanted a shirt and not a tunic.

I really enjoy the different elements of making a tailored shirt. The sleeve plackets and cuffs are especially rewarding as the different parts come together to make a smart finish. I had shortened the sleeve from the shawl collar blouse and this is now the perfect length for a shirt. Not too baggy but enough room to bend my arm easily without straining the fabric.

Once you perfect your body blueprint it's amazing how easy it is to make your own clothes that fit you as you like them and then to concentrate on the sewing skills of your design and lastly to feel proud that you are wearing an excellent garment that you created and designed for yourself that is way cheaper than Ready to Wear but infinitely more satisfying to own.

These photos are a bit grainy due to me taking them with my tablet using the front lens as opposed to the one at the back. I thought it would be easier to see what I was taking but the quality is far inferior so I won't do that again.

I used to always dread that last bit of shirt or blouse making when I got to the buttonholes. I always test one first and then start with the one at the bottom where it won't show if it doesn't go well. I think because my sewing machine does this automatically is what gives me cause for apprehension especially as it seems to do it so quickly. I tend to guide the fabric like a mother hen not wanting to let the machine take over completely. If it is going to have a hissy fit you can bet it'll be on the last one at the top where it'll stand out. Of course the more I do the more confident I get and I now double check all the settings well before pressing the start button. I especially check the bobbin to make sure it won't empty in the middle of making them. 

In fact I now use the machine to sew on the buttons too and this is really quick and easy. 

Does anyone else have issues with letting your sewing machine know who's boss??

See previous post for details of the black denim jeans with seahorse on the back pockets and here is a close up of the detail.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Lot's to post

Happy New Year to everyone. We're off again for a new sewing year and lots of makes ahead. I have been quite busy having made three shirts a cardigan and a pair of jeans since the middle of December but I only got around to taking the photos today. I won't blog about them all together so watch out for the rest a bit later.
First up was a shawl collar blouse.
It's very difficult to see the shawl collar as the print is so busy but the pattern was drafted from my Sure-fit Designs Blueprint using Glenda's wonderful instructions.

The print was so busy I didn't even attempt to match the placket but it seems to have disappeared nonetheless.

The fabric was a remnant bought from C&H in Chichester when we were staying down there late last year. It looks like a liberty print and feels soft and warm with a good drapey feel without being as slippery as silk. I used leftover scraps for the under collar in another shirt you'll see in my next blog. I love the feel and fit of this shirt but I think I should have made the sleeves a tad shorter although I like the blousey way they hang. I have corrected the pattern for next time.

 I suppose I should also blog about the black jeans here as I am wearing them with the blouse.

The jeans are from a stretch medium weight denim bought whilst on a visit to Goldhawk Road in London last year. I chose a seahorse for the back pocket design and a silver thread I thought would look good. The practice sample went without an issue and I got as far as you see in the picture with the first pocket when disaster struck. The nest of thread you see me holding was what I retrieved from under the thread plate and it's not easy to photograph but the other shots show the birds nest on the underside.

I had to rethink my plan as this just wasn't doing my machine or my nervous system any good at all. I changed to a brilliant white rayon thread and both pockets stitched out perfectly, Phew!

I decided that top stitching in the brilliant white would be a bit too much so I chose a grey which is more subtle and looks more professional.

 I also remembered to flip the seahorse design so they were a matching pair.

Black is a dreadful colour to photograph and although they didn't look bad on my tablet they seem to look a lot more grainy since I've uploaded them but I hope you get the picture [pun intended!!!].

Well that's two garments with a few more to come and meanwhile I'll try to re-take the photo's and see if I can do slightly better.

My wish for 2016 is still to master a well fitted tailored jacket so watch out for my progress on that during the year. 

I'd like to find a course either here [in the UK] or somewhere warm and not too expensive. I think once I've achieved one I'll be set for doing more. It's not the sewing or construction so much as the getting it to fit correctly. If you have any recommendations I'd love to hear from you.