Monday, 28 March 2016

Making trousers look more feminine

I needed some grey fabric to go with one or two tops in my wardrobe so during a recent visit to Axminster in Dorset, I found just what I was looking for in a quaint little shop that was so full it was like an Aladdin's cave.

This fabric had a good drape for trousers with a very slight stretch that felt more like a little bit of ease but not really much, the colour was exactly the grey shade I was looking for and the price was under £7 a metre so all boxes ticked. You'd think so.... 

I bought 1.5 metres but once I got my purchase home I had a slight re-think. Did it look too much like a man's suiting fabric? Could I make my trousers look more feminine without compromising the classic look I was after?

I have made many trousers along my journey to sewing my well fitting wardrobe of items and now have my sloper down to [almost] perfection so laying out the pattern and cutting out is no longer a problem or fills me with dread like it used to. [Thanks to the Sure-fit Designs System] It took me just a couple of hours to get the front pockets, fly zip and outside seams sewn. It would only take an hour or so more to complete the back seam, inner leg seams, fit the waistband and hem to finish them off.

It actually took me another three days to finish them. Why? Well my quest to put some femininity into them centred around something that involved a little embroidery. Not too much, just enough to give a bit of interest without distraction.

Ivy Leaf Design
Ivy Test
The trouble with doing embroidery I find, is sourcing the right design. It's almost no good having a fixed idea in mind as you'd spend years trying to find it. I knew however, that I wanted something done in greys that would show up but not stand out. I'm not a great lover of embroidered flowers but I thought leaves might work. I had the thought of ivy winding around and up just one leg. After much searching and a lot of editing I thought I'd found the answer. I set about doing a test to ensure the design would work and the chosen colours were exactly right. There is a VERY good reason why testing is so important. My ivy leaf design was a disaster. It was far too solid and the number of concentrated stitches made the fabric stiff and puckered, it was awful. I had to go back to the drawing board.

Another day of trawling through designs on my computer and I decided to look for stars this time. Just simple stars that I could dot around in strategic places. Then 'BOOM' I saw a snowflake design. This was it.

Test Snowflakes
I took the design and played around with different sizes and shades of grey [I didn't want white as it would have been too bright] then back to do another test. It worked much better this time.

The Right Trouser Leg with Snowflakes
So here are the finished trousers and the extra design on the back of the waistband to add another bit of interest. I'm so pleased with the end result despite the length of time it took to complete. These are the most comfortable trousers I have ever worn, the fit is perfect and I am as proud of the inside finish as the outside. 

Centre Back Waistband Detail
I am at last beginning to feel the effects of my sewing and learning over the last couple of years thanks to the bloggers I have followed who generously give their tips and tricks, to the SFD pattern making system, to Craftsy classes, to You Tube videos I have followed and to all my friends who have encouraged me along the way [and didn't laugh at some of my earlier attempts].

No more sewing now until the middle of May - see you then.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Scrap Top

With the success of my Go Shamrock top I was motivated to make another. I had some black and white fabric with a slight stretch left over from my negative shirt, blogged here.

The problem was, I didn't have enough... I could get the fronts [without the facings], back and short sleeves with no problem. I could even manage to get one collar piece and one buttonhole facing piece but I had to be creative with the second collar piece. I just managed to cut this out by adding a small seam allowance and not cutting on the fold. When putting together I used the joined piece as the under collar so it doesn't show.

The bigger problem was the button band facing. I had just enough to get the top facing down to beyond where the collar folds back but not enough for the whole piece. As you see by the photos I cut out a piece of plain black to finish this off. Once again only you and I know I did this so as it isn't going to show. I think I got away with it.


I cut a 'Glenda' style 'V' in the hem of the sleeve which is shown here. It looks huge in the photo but is actually only a small slit but adds that little bit of design extra.

Here is the notched collar effect which is so neat to make but effective in appearance.

This shirt is comfortable to wear and is already packed in the motorhome ready for our trip through France and Spain to Portugal where I hope the sun and some warm weather will mean it gets a lot of wear.

The picture below shows the back view which has two darts. This shirt is so easy with Sure-Fit Designs following the videos Glenda has made. Not only is it easy to make but the fit is really comfortable and the style, everlasting.

I can't believe I've managed to make this shirt out of what was left over scrap fabric. This is when sewing for yourself gets that bonus buzz. The first garment takes the whole cost of the fabric into consideration as that is why it was purchased, so anything made from the surplus is free and delivers even more of a good feeling.

Take a look at Erica Bunker's Blog where she made herself a yellow top recently for about $20. She took inspiration from a top that looked quite limp and lifeless that was priced at $840. The top she made was infinitely better and fitted her perfectly. Goodness knows why anyone would have forked out such a huge amount for the original, it must have been sewn with gold leaf thread to be worth that price!!

This picture shows the folded shirt on top of a large piece of heavy weight white fabric that will make a great pair of trousers to go with this shirt.

I have a friend, Amanda, who sadly lost her Mum very recently and she had to do one of the worst jobs of clearing out her Mum's things. Even with all the sadness and emotion she must have been feeling she thought of me when she came across some pieces of fabric. We met last week and she handed me a large bag stuffed with pieces that I will be working on as soon as we get back from Europe. This was one of the pieces and I'm hoping I might make the trousers before we go. I'm going to ask Amanda what her Mum liked, a specific flower, a small creature or colour that I could embroider somewhere discreetly that will remind us of her. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Go Shamrock

I recently bought a piece of remnant fabric from an eBay auction and won it at 99p plus £2.80 postage. When it arrived I was delighted that it was just as I had hoped with a slight widthwise stretch, fabulous green colour and unusual, bold design. A bargain!!

My Great Grandfather was Irish and this Green colour makes me think of Ireland which is why I've called the blog Go Shamrock.

When deciding on what to make, I felt the placement of the pieces would be crucial as I didn't want the large navy square to end up over my boob. I opted for the 'Go Anywhere Shirt' design as shown on by Glenda Sparling of Sure-fit Designs. With careful placing of the pattern, I managed to fit all the pieces on the small amount of fabric I had and that they were all lying correctly across the stretch direction.

The open collar design makes it look like a notched collar but it was really neat and so easy following Glenda's instructions.

I modified the sleeves as I'm not a fan of 3/4 length so made my normal shirt with placket and cuff and I think this was a good decision given the lovely design of the fabric.

Although the way the fabric was placed makes this look very asymmetrical I have unified the collar and cuffs to match with the horizontal lines, this feeds the Virgo in me...

The close up photo of the collar and notched collar effect shows this feature well.

Although the sleeves have different pattern placements the cuffs and plackets are identical.

I chose some plain snow white buttons to bring out the pure white in the fabric design more because I had them in my stash and no other colours matched as well but I think they work.

Overall this is an eye catching top that would be easy to wear on most occasions [no wonder Glenda called it the 'Go Anywhere Shirt'] and costing me under £4.00 instead of in excess of £80.00+ from an exclusive boutique besides the pleasure of making it cannot be topped.

Looking at the photos below of me wearing it, I think I could have made it a bit more fitted but I didn't want it super tight as this will be a summer casual shirt.

I am certainly packing it in the Motorhome for our trip through France and Spain next month on our way to Portugal for our planned tour. We hope to see more of the Northern West Coast that neither of us have been to before. This shirt will travel well as it doesn't crease easily.

I shall be giving my sewing machine a well deserved rest while we're in Europe but as I hope to be inspired and maybe even bring back some fabric [there is plenty of storage space in the garage part of our motorhome - Yippee!] I'll be back blogging and sewing again in May.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Shoe T-Shirt Take two

This is the Short Sleeve Shoe Shirt [try saying that quickly!!]

This is the second T-Shirt using my £2.00 bargain of this funky shoe fabric. I tried a 'V' neck version this time and I am quite pleased with how it turned out.


Here is a close up of the 'V' bit where you can hopefully just make out that I crossed the two ends to create the neat V shape. I used the same method of hemming as the long sleeve version [blogged here].

I cut the longest sleeve length I could out of the fabric that was left over from the first version but I think it could have been a tad shorter however, even though this is a stretch T-shirt fabric, it's quite heavy and drapes well so the sleeves sort of float and I'm happy with the look at the moment. I could always shorten them later if I think it's a problem.

Both tops were completed almost exclusively on the overlocker except for the top stitch zig-zagging around the neckline and hem edges.

Friday, 4 March 2016

What do you think, in or out?

This is not a question about whether or not to leave or stay in the EU but whether my new top looks better tucked in or left out....

At least this is one decision I can make every time I wear it and it won't have any financial or emotional ramifications whichever one I choose. 

I won this remnant of fabric from an eBay auction after bidding purely because I loved the colour and design. This is a slight cautionary tale which you'll all have experienced if you've purchased fabric in this manner. The photo looks gorgeous and the description sounds great BUTTTTT.... when it arrived it felt awful.

Nothing can take away from the experience of actually visiting a fabric shop and touching the fabric to get a good idea of how it will drape as well as the way it feels against your skin. 

This fabric is harsh and almost scratchy as well as being quite sheer and very prone to fraying. However, the colours are just wonderful.

My plan was to come up with a design that got me through this problem and with some plain apricot cotton in my stash I decided to make this simple top with a yoke gathered across the back and shoulders and a mandarin collar. I cut out all the pieces except the sleeves, laying the fabric on the cotton and cutting them out as one. I sewed the yoke and front and back pieces as though they were just a single piece of fabric but I left the sleeves unlined.

Once the sleeves were sewn in I joined the side seams of the body separately so they hang loose. This means I could tuck in the apricot lining fabric but have the outer fabric over the top.

This is a picture of the two separated hems to explain. The outer fabric was a nightmare to sew on its own and frayed at every opportunity. As you can see I serged the edges and then used wonder web to fuse the hem in place before top stitching. This made it much easier to sew and it actually behaved better doing it this way.

The cuffs were lined and interfaced to give some extra body and I added two small buttons and buttonholes using an overlap as this picture shows.

There were no other closures as the mandarin collar and front faced slit sit comfortably without the need for anything else. I faced the slit and sewed it to the lining so it doesn't try to unwrap itself.

I took these photos with artificial light and hoped the camera flash would do a better job than it did but I think you get the idea of what I've made. The close up photos of the cuffs and front slit show a very good likeness to the actual colours.

I think I'm going to look for some fabric in the gray or biscuit colour to make some coordinating trousers but I'll take a scrap of this fabric with me to a real shop...

Overall, despite the fact this isn't as silky to touch as the photos would have you believe I am happy with the end result.

So what do you think, IN or OUT???