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!!]