Monday, 29 February 2016

A Dickie Quickie

What's a Dickie I hear you ask?

Briefly, it's a polo neck sweater without the sweater bit. In other words it's just the polo neck and a bit to 'tuck in' and is really useful to use instead of a scarf as a snug neck warmer.

The pattern was a free download with my Burda Magazine and I ended up making one in Navy with a wide rib and a plain white one made out of a T-shirt fabric remnant.

They were both so quick and easy on the overlocker just joining the two side seams and overlocking the edges. It also used up some small remnants so quite a win really.

You can get the free PDF download pattern from here. This is what it looks like after you've downloaded it and stuck it together. I've also shown the page from the February 2016 Burda Style Magazine showing the latest trends and how to make it.
I have to admit that I adapted the Navy version as the ribbing was too lax and didn't spring back into shape once it had been pulled over my head. I made a ring of wide, soft elastic and secured it to the insides of the dickie at the point I wanted the fold. The result is a more comfortable and stable polo that doesn't droop down. This wasn't needed in the white version as the T-shirt fabric was firmer.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Funky Shoe T-Shirt

What a bargain! I bought over two metres of this funky medium weight stretch fabric for just £2.00 on eBay.

I made this simple long sleeved T-shirt [excuse the legs!!] and I have enough left over for a short sleeve 'V' neck version.

This was a quick and easy make from a pattern I have drafted before. I used my overlocker for the whole thing except for the hem. Here I pressed some wonder web about 5 cm from the edge [I did overlock the edge first]  with the hem turned up the same amount so the wonder web was sandwiched within the hem. I then used the zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine to secure it. I like this method of hemming a T-shirt because it makes a crisp hem in the stretchy fabric and behaves well after stitching.

This is probably a little longer than I had intended as it looks more like a tunic top in the photos. I may shorten this after I've worn it a few times if I think it would look better tucked into jeans.

This picture shows a close up of the hem which is difficult for the camera to pick up but I hope you can see the Zig-Zag stitch and the sharp edge to the hem that fusing the wonder web achieved.
Don't you just love all these little tips and tricks that we in the sewing community share with each other to educate and inform us all and help us improve our level of professionalism along with the added enjoyment of conquering another helpful technique?

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Now it's getting colder a cardigan is called for

 I had this heavy weight knit fabric to make a cardigan and used exactly the same pattern as the Canary Yellow Fleece blogged about here.

The open ended zip went in well and the yoke pieces matched up perfectly.

I added grey ribbing for the cuffs and looking at these photos I think I should have probably shortened the sleeves a tad but I prefer my wrists to be well covered so no real problem.

The in seam pockets are an added feature that works well with this pattern.

A good top layering piece for when it's really cold outside and it's easier, cheaper and kinder to the environment to wear in-doors rather than put the heating up a notch. At least 'he-who-thinks-he-should-be-obeyed' will appreciate that....

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

She Sews Sea Shells

Starting a project begins with different elements. Sometimes the fabric speaks to you, sometimes the need for a new shirt, jeans, jacket starts the desire. Whatever the impulse the design and fabric need to marry up at the planning stage.

I've had this fabric in my stash for a while now and I suddenly got the urge to make a shirt or blouse with it. It has a lovely soft handle but not too silky and behaves well at the sewing machine. It is black with randomly spaced turquoise sea shells.

I bought some very pretty buttons at a closing down sale recently but I didn't have enough for a front opening plus cuffs so my design started with a hidden button placket at centre front.

I love making the SFD inspired pleats at the shoulders and I had plenty of fabric to do this so that settled the next design feature. 

I drafted the pattern using Glenda's instructions from her Sew Sensational Shirts book [Page 19]

Now I have enough buttons to put three on each cuff as well as the one at the neck so my third design feature was to draft a much longer cuff than usual and again the idea came from the SFD Dress Kit instruction Book [Page 26] although I opted for buttonholes rather than the loops described in the book.

Hidden button placket

Side pleats

Close up of sleeve detail
The end result is a very useful and comfortable shirt that I am very happy with and I know I'll wear a lot.

Friday, 12 February 2016

A Bright Yellow Canary or just an Easter Bunny?

Knights is [was] a local department store in Reigate that sadly closed at the end of January after many years in the town. They had a small haberdashery department and I went in during the week in the final days before closing to see what bargains were being offered . I fancied some fleece but all they had left was a very bright yellow although it was good quality polar fleece. There was only 1.5 metres on the bolt but I took it anyway. I also bought a couple of metres each of some cotton prints but I've added them to my stash at the moment.

I have previously made a couple of fleece jackets following a Craftsy Class I bought quite a long time ago that included the pattern for this jacket. However, I deviated from using all fleece to use some dark navy blue large rib knit fabric [from Goldhawk Road] to line the inside of the coat collar and for the cuffs to lesson the impact a trifle. In the end I had enough for a matching beanie hat using the same ribbing for for the band.

The jacket is really snug and warm despite being very lightweight, however I do think I look as though I'm about to set sail in a lifeboat!! I know that the sailor look is in at the moment but I'm not sure this is what the catwalks actually meant to convey!!!

At least it'll be good to wear on my bike and I won't get lost in a crowd.

Close up of matched yoke and zip
The tricky bits of this jacket are getting the zip to sew in without any rippling effect and to match up the yoke edges perfectly. The Craftsy Tutor gave same excellent tips on how to do this successfully and I'm pleased to say they worked a treat. She showed how to use narrow double sided tape to gently position the separating zipper on each side before stitching and whilst this did make a sticky mess on the needle, it was soon cleaned but the end result was a perfect zip insertion.
To match the yoke edges was also simply achieved by marking the zip tape where the yoke meets the centre front edge once the first side of the zip is stitched in place so placing the second side exactly on the correct mark made this a doddle. The end result is a professional finish that definitely elevates it from a homemade look.

I was concerned about the bright colour of this fleece and I probably wouldn't have chosen it if there had been others to select from but now it's made up I'm very pleased with it.

The matching beanie
My Mother often told me that yellow was not my colour as it gave me a drained look!!!! Whenever I see yellow fabric I remember her words but I hope even she would have been proud that I have created such a good jacket.

It's amazing how much influence your parents' can exert with even a small throw away comment. Have you been haunted by a well meant criticism?

Friday, 5 February 2016

Blue Jeans but Twill not Denim

After the success of my previous jeans that had the slimmed down legs I was keen to try out the design on better fabric. I chose a Dark Royal Blue Twill that I had in my stash and the medium weight was just right for this project.

I took more photos of the preparation this time so I could show parts of the process without it being a tutorial as such, just my methods. It all starts with the design for the back pockets. I didn't want anything that would stand out too much, I was after something a little more subtle. After trying a few design ideas I decided to opt for my initials and here is the design printed out on paper. The only downside is that as my initials 'JB' are not symmetrical I couldn't flip the design for a matching pair so the same design has to be used on both pockets. If my initials had been AT, HM or OW it would have worked out better but I didn't think it was worth the effort of changing my name again so JB it stays. This is my embroidery machine stitching out the outline.

This picture shows the finished design just out of the hoop and before the stabilizer is removed from the back together with all the tacking and jump stitches.

When that's done the pocket has the seam allowances pressed under and is then stitched in place on the back pieces. I have already attached the yokes and top stitched them in place.

The belt loops have also been prepared and top stitched ready for when the waistband is attached.

The pockets are positioned accurately and top stitched in place. I will add a bar tack at the top of each edge later.

Next bit is the front pockets. The inside pocket bag is a silky lining fabric that will not add any bulk to the jeans. The edges are overlocked and sewn and the outside edge is top stitched. The very top and side edges have been basted with a long machine stitch to ensure everything stays in place whilst the rest is put together.

Now the fun bit begins, the zip fly. I used to think this was the most difficult part but having done it so many times I now find it easy and it is the most enjoyable.

I start by stitching the crotch at the bottom with a 2.5 stitch length until I get just around the corner then after two back stitches I change to a 5.0 stitch length and continue to the top. This keeps the front seam in place until after the zip has been inserted.

I then lay my zip [Right side down] on to the left side with the right edge of the zipper tape close against the centre seam and pin that edge. Picking up just the fly extension and the zip, I then sew the unpinned other edge close to the zipper teeth. The zip is intentionally longer than I need and I always use zips that are plastic and slightly too long on purpose. They are shortened once the waistband is sewn on and having the pull tab out of the way makes sewing the zip in place so much easier. It also means the zip will close to the very top once the waistband is in place. I used to find adding a zip that was the correct length often ended up stopping just below the top. With my method this never happens.
The next bit is a bit complicated unless you've done it a few times so I've added a video [with no sound] but it basically shows how once the left side has been sewn in place you remove the pins and pick up the free side and pull it across to the right side until it is laying completely flat. Once again just picking up the fly extension and the zip you sew the second side. You must remember to sew only through the extension and not the whole trouser front.
I hope this explains it.

Anyway the next bit is to mark the left side of the fly front with the right side facing about 2.5 cm from the centre seam and curve it round at the bottom to mark your top stitching line. I have used a Frixion pen that will disappear with a warm iron. Once marked I then put a couple of pins along this line and check on the INSIDE that the pins are catching the zipper tape. I have then stitched this with sewing thread NOT the top stitching thread as I didn't want it to be too obvious!!

When finished the basting stitch can be removed to reveal a fabulous zip fly [dressed the female way!!!]

Now the zip fly protection piece is placed under the right side of the zip and top stitched close to the zipper teeth as far down as your presser foot will allow.

I will put another bar tack on the outside where the top stitching starts to add strength to this possible weak point.

So now the two back pieces are finished and the two fronts have their pockets in place and the zip fly is all done. The backs are then joined to the fronts at the outside seams. I stitch them, then overlock them together before top stitching the seam towards the back so it looks like a flat felled seam but is my cheat way of doing it.

I then overlock the inside seams of the legs and across the bottom as well as the back crotch seams. This makes the rest of the process easy as the seams are finished before you even sew them together.

The inside seams are then sewn and the back crotch sewn across the seam from the front for a short way up the back seam. I don't finish the rest of this seam until after the waistband has been attached.


The curved longer outside edge of the waistband is pinned to the top leaving 1.5 cm past the top edge and placing the prepared belt loops at the appropriate places, right sides facing the jeans.

I then stitch the inside pieces of the waistband to the top remembering once again to ensure the belt loops are in place. I sew bias tape to the inside raw edge to clean finish. I close the centre fronts using the Burrito method.

Before stitching the waistband down from the right side
 Before finishing the waistband by stitching in the ditch from the right side making sure the seam allowances are tucked up inside the waistband, the back seam is completed and here I sew some stay tape to add to the strength of this seam.
Important to make the fronts match exactly
Preparing to sew in the ditch and bar tacks
in place at the top of the pockets

After the 'stitch in the ditch' invisible!

So the final finishing is to hem the jeans and make a buttonhole and sew on the button, then put them on!!

 The Raglan T-shirt was a quick make from my stash made completely on the overlocker [serger] in about an hour.

Look out for my new blogs that include a bold Yellow Fleece and a green cardigan.