Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Green/blue scroll top

Here is another version of my simple top that I knocked up in a couple of days (Version 2 was my black and white linen tunic here and Version 1 my grey damask top here).

Nice to get one item done pretty quickly.

The idea was that I must make inroads into my stash.  It certainly seems to have worked with this fabric.

I bought it together with a pink and also a grey version of the same pattern, and a different pattern but same fibre in blue, from Atlantic Silks in Electric Avenue, Brixton shortly before they closed up shop.  I only paid a total £10 for five metres if I remember correctly.  Another reason why my stash is out of control: I keep finding such great fabrics, great bargains or great patterns and colours.  Or all combined.  I just can't resist any of it.

This fabric irons a lot better than I thought.  I am not wildly in love with the pattern but I hope it'll fill that gap in my wardrobe where a bright and highly patterned item goes.  If there is such a gap...

These colours are truer to life

I'm curious to see how it washes and how often I'll wear it.

The grey fabric might become a summer dress, I got more of it. Let's see how quickly I'll get round to it.  Then I "only" have to get through the pink and the blue fabric for more tops to get back to the stage I was at before the Brixton shopping trip.

Oh actually, I got a lovely white fabric too... Oops, I'd forgotten.  But this one is reserved for a special project because it's beautiful fabric that needs to be used for something like a generously cut big over-blouse that can be worn over trousers or open instead of a light summer jacket... Something like that.  I'd rather use up other fabrics than that one first.

Good thing I already sewed up the petrol fabric from the Market Row stall (I forgot to blog about this top, it's the same cut as the simple black top here), and have used the white calico from the same place on the Dress pattern drawing workshop in Brighton in January that I bought it for. Phew!

Monday, 17 February 2014

White top finished

It is done, my lovely bias-cut summer top is finished!  I can't believe how quickly it came together.

I already blogged about the process of making this here.  So I'll try not to repeat myself.

I attached the bias strips at the armholes and the neckline.  Because there were some wavy pin tucks that distorted the bias strips, I ended up ripping them out to try and make the strips lie flat.  Then trimmed to the right width a second time. Even with plenty of water and steam it wasn't that easy to stop the former tucks from puckering up.  But it went well enough.

I had no idea that the bias strips get sewn onto the edge laid double, so you stitch through three layers of fabric (that was an Aha! moment) and then, after trimming, the whole doubled roll where its edge ends with the closed lengthwise fold - the whole thing gets folded inside the garment.  I had always assumed that you still see it above the top stitching line on the outside, but no: the fabric you can see on the outside is still the same front or back piece you originally cut out.  And nothing added.  What a revelation!

I feel that the hem was the part that went the least well. I didn't attach bias strips: I machine basted this 5-6mm from the edge (about a quarter inch), folded over at that line and pressed with lots of water.  Then still quite moist I folded this pressed strip over again to hide the raw edges and encase them, pressed some more, and then sewed this up.

The machine pushes the top layer of fabric ahead and creates these puckers.  I will figure out the dual feed function and see how much this improves things.  Wish me luck!

I am so pleased with this.  It looks lovely.  Really pretty too.  Can't wait for summer.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The colours in my wardrobe

I am inspired by a blog post I came across, written by Roobeedoo.  It is endearingly entitled 'Daisy Monsters in the Closet'. Love that.

She discusses knitting a garment to go with others in her wardrobe but running into the issue that those other items go to the Happy Huntingground that those clothes go to when we can't wear them anymore - long before the knit is ever finished. So frustrating.

It's not that I have a problem with the speed of my knitting (I get teased about being pretty fast, continental knitting gives you an unfair advantage in that), but I certainly don't finish projects when I could.  I will just keep putting it off, and putting it off!  It's damn embarrassing.

Take my turquoise jumper, look:

It's almost finished, which would be terrific, except that's exactly the problem!  I get to this fardling ALMOST stage and then my mojo goes on holiday. Gah!

I sewed the sleeves in which was a total pain in the butt (one of them twice because I got it twisted. I'm miffed about that. I should know better) and most ends are even woven in!  (How often do you think I manage to do that while it's still a WIP?)  I mean: what else do you need to do to finish the blooming thing? Not much: just the neck.

Now most garments I have 'follow-through' problems with because I happen to enjoy the knitting process itself a lot, the wearing of said garments unfortunately not quite as much. I seem to knit for the knitting part, not for anything that comes after. Silly, right?

But here I suffer the creeping anxiety that the neck will be too tight and I won't be able to A) get it over my head, or B) feel like I'm getting strangled when I do.  I must tell myself: it is not a solution to put off the inevitable outcome!  It's not gonna change anything to just leave that poor WIP lying around, it's not!  Until you know what it is you can't deal with it. So for flipping heck's sake woman: just get on with it!

Sorry, I had to get that off my chest there. I feel better now.

So back to the lovely blog post by Roobeedoo: I think it's genius to decide that you'll combine other things with your knitwear once the knitted garment is all finished and done!  (Revolutionary, right? Just what I needed to hear)  Why try and put yourself through the stress of feeling you need to finish a knit because an outfit is waiting to be completed?  Much better to plan things the other way round.

I found the post inspiring for another reason as well: I would love to plan my wardrobe a lot more rather than grabbing those clothes to wear that I happen to own. I have a few single pieces that I'd love to wear more, unfortunately they only go with black or maybe grey.

I have plenty of black and grey clothes, - but I'm getting rather fed up with those.  A bit of colour in my wardrobe would be so very nice! I imagine it to be really cheery and uplifting: you open your wardrobe and you feel inspired to wear a specific outfit. That sounds nice, doesn't it?

So now I'm looking at a shawl I love, this one:

...and I'm trying to come up with colours to go with this, in blouses or dresses, that I can buy or even sew.  I have a feeling that a sewing project would come together much more easily when I can't wait to wear  the result of my efforts! Motivation!

A rich darkish blue would be lovely, royal blue should go as well, white would look good (maybe a white and black checked skirt?), and certain purples too. It would have to be a very distinct purple though: with lots of blue in it, none of that yellow crimson that I can't stand.  Maybe even a really dark sparkling green?  Ooh, and petrol!
Dainty colours would probably get overwhelmed by this strong, dominant colour.  I'll have to hold a light lilac or mint next to it to see.

I can't wait to see what I'll come up with!

I could perhaps wear this shawl with this colour (it is more navy or dark blue in real life though):

I also have a few pieces in petrol, like this one, which is notoriously difficult to photograph for its colour:

It should look like the colour at the centre of the second picture, and not like the blue on the right hand side of the second photo, or in the third photo.

This is a very rich, dark, even greeny petrol. But it just won't show on most photos (like the third one) - they make it look like a mid blue.  You'll have to use your imagination.

I was going to show a photo of my dark purple dressing gown but when the colour looks good on the photo, it changes to a different colour once uploaded. Most frustrating.

Love grey or silver, and pink (pink is probably my most favourite colour of all)

I also love this colour, a very light blue:

And I don't seem to find a project or RTW garment in royal blue. But I reckon you know that colour.

So there you go. That's most of the colours that are strong, bright and vibrant that I love and want to wear more of.

PS: Maybe the funnel neck of the turquoise jumper stops being such an obstacle if I can find something to wear with this jumper? Maybe it works that way round when you're almost done? Gah, there's that word again!  Excuse me while I go and wash my mouth out with soap and water...

Almost, pffff....

PS: Here is another interesting blog post by Coletterie entitled wardrobe architect about colour in your wardrobe.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

White wavy lines summer top

I am rather excited:  I am sewing a pretty simple looking white summer top out of only two pieces, plus bias strips and I get to try three new things I never attempted before.

I am using bias strips, as already mentioned, haven’t used those in dressmaking before (I did use a few for quilt binding, so at least they’re not new-new to me).

I sewed my first French seams – which felt oddly scary before I tried them - what if a whole strip of fabric shows on the right side?  What if I try to cut those bits and make holes?  What if frayed bits and thread ends protrude?   What if...  Huh, yeah, funny:  none of that happened.

I must say that that I only did a scant quarter inch of the seam with the wrong sides together, and then a very generous quarter inch with right sides together.  The fabric is pretty thin so after pressing these seams look beautiful.  I am very pleased with them!

And the best of all the new things: I am trying bias cut for the first time!

I was going to do two halves for both the front and the back and use centre seams - because fabrics cannot be made evenly woven anymore: the tension from warp and weft are slightly different from the manufacturing process so when you cut a whole front or back piece at a 45 degree bias then one half is going to behave differently than the other half.

Cutting two halves at symmetrical orientation and sew together with a centre seam is supposed to avoid this.

I didn’t bother in the end because the fabric piece wouldn’t have yielded four halves and I didn’t want to piece one of the halves.  So I am trying full pieces to see how that goes.  I will try the centre seam idea with a different fabric at some point later – just to compare.

It is going really well and I’m thoroughly enjoying how stretchy the fabric is when cut on the bias: you don’t need a zip or other opening, this slightly loose top is so stretchy that you can pull in on over your head and the fabric nor the cut is worse for, err, tear – I should say pulling.  Oh well, not my best pun...

I haven't attached the bias strips yet to the armholes and the neckline.  I cut them slightly wider because I was worried about the wavy pin tuck lines that are a feature of this fabric.  I would have preferred cutting the strips from areas without tucks but didn’t manage.  So I cut them wider but then ironed them folded double as instructed by the pattern.

I think I should be able to just trim them lying double to the width I need.  If it doesn't work I can cut some more, I have fabric left.  If these strips don’t work that I cut lengthwise along the pin tucks, then I can try cutting them “against” the grain – but I really want to avoid the bulkiness from those tucks.  Perhaps I should try ripping out the tucks and working with fabric rendered flat?

I shall have a think about this.

I am so very happy about my learning experience from just this one little top that looks so deceptively simple.  I was not planning on French seams when I started, they just seemed a good idea.  It feels like such a fabulous thing to be able to add these seams as a sewing technique to my tool kit!

I also wondered if I should do inner facings against the armhole and neckline edges like I always do, but I didn’t fancy them turning inside out when you put the top on.  They would also show up quite a bit because the fabric is so thin.  Also, I should think about making a suitable slip to wear underneath this – it is that see-through.  Something with thin straps and a very simple shape that drapes well around your body, that would do a good job.  Not out of satin though, that would be too thick and satin is such a pain to sew.

But it’s the bias cut that’s the revelation: I had no idea how pleasant it feels to have a bias-cut garment hug you when you wear it.  How nicely it skims over your curves.  It is just such a lovely feeling to wear something this supple and slidey.  If I didn't dislike satin so much I would want to do a black satin number, perhaps a slip or negligee (not to go with this, as a separate project) – maybe I can find a way of getting around the slipperiness to make satin a bit more easy to sew with?  (There is a gelatine trick I could try)

I will definitely make more bias cut garments.  They do take a lot more fabric (of which I have more than plenty!) and are a pain to cut out (getting that 45 degree angle right ain’t all that easy) but it makes for such beautiful garments that are a pleasure to wear!

The next one will have to be in a fabric with an exciting pattern.  I almost used a plaid before I realised that this tartan is printed at a 45 degree angle so a bias-cut would have put the tartan back into right angles.  I didn’t think it would look all that exciting when the original fabric would be fantastic cut on the grain.

I need to dive back into my fabric stash.  I had quite a hard time finding this fabric to use but I’m pleased I went with this one: the pin tuck wavy lines come out great on the bias – it wouldn’t have looked as interesting at a straight grain.

It is so lovely to learn a new sewing technique!  Such fun.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

It's a hat!

Oh my goodness, look: it's a hat!

I started cutting out the paper pattern yesterday, thinking that I would slowly do a little more, bit by bit, every so often.

I seem to have been on a roll: I made a template to cut those eight shapes out a bit quicker (it was) - and all of a sudden I had pretty much all the pieces.  I used my go-to muslin fabric: I got five meters of this material years ago for £2 a meter.  Haven't done anything with it except use it for muslins.  Oh well, that's one way of getting some use out of it.

So then I sat down and sewed them together - assembly line style, just like in quilting when you sew the patchwork elements together without leaving long tails.  That part was really quick work.

I changed the shape of the visor a bit, I didn't like that beak shape.  I have never liked it, can't see myself ever wearing it either.

I have some iron-on interacing which was great to use.  It is so stiff it's almost like plastic.  I bought it to reinforce a very droopy shoulder on my white jacket that has seen zero progress for months.  Shame.  At least I'm sewing other things.  That makes me very happy.

I still needed to cut out the lining.  I found a thinner blue fabric that is also nicely stiff and went really well with this softer coat material.  I had drawn the shapes onto the fabric with one of those wheelie chalk dispenser - first time I used it.  It was a bit stiff and I hadn't expected there to be little spikes that left dots in the surface below.  Thank goodness I used it on top of my self healing mat.  I would have been gutted if I had damaged my desk.

And while I was watching a news programme online, I found that I actually cut all the eight shapes, as if by magic.  I surprised myself there.

So today I could get stuck in: assembling the lining, cutting the two strips for the band, and then attaching all together.  That was a pain.  The hat shape was a bit too big, which was good, but I had to squash it in in places.

The visor would only bend in one direction while I wanted to use it the other way round but can't.

Next time I'll cut two much bigger pieces of fabric that I can then use on either side.  As it was I didn't catch the edge of the underside all the way around so I had to sew that down with some dense zigzag/buttonhole stitch. I'll consider that an added design feature.

The only thing is, and I know this is kind of  a biggie, - I don't actually like how this hat looks when I wear it.  It is just way too big.  It drowns me.

Because I am not keen on the Orphan Annie look, I might make this again another time, smaller and less tall.   Maybe in a black fabric, something like that?

What projects have you made that went really well but you found you weren't going to wear them?