Friday, 19 December 2014

End of year report

I can't believe it's close to the end of year, time has flown by too quickly and I am looking forward to catching my breath during the break over Christmas and New Year's.

Everybody have a good one too!

What kinds of crafts projects am I ending the year with?

I am very pleased that I did lots of top-stitching on my black tunic with the patchwork panels attached to the front and back hems. There was a lot of swivelling and up and down-ing of the sewing machine foot involved!

The garment itself is a bit unflattering: a very simple A-line shape with sleeves attached but no darts.  A sewing friend suggested those steep angle French darts that go low down into the side seams. That's an idea.

My pinstripe grey and dark red stashbusting skirt has seen a little progress: I attached the lining and tried it on properly for the first time.  Unfortunately I now realise that the dividing line between the two fabrics sits rather high: if I wear a long top over this it will cover up the grey yoke almost completely. That's not how it was supposed to look.  I am thinking of adding a ribbon in black or grey at perhaps 4cm below the dividing line to balance the colour blocking a little better.

In terms of knitting I picked up or started quite a few projects. 

I finished the main body of my light blue Storm Mountain jacket (design by Heidi Kirrmaier) with the beautiful swing back and had to realise that neither the roll-down collar nor the reverse stockinette lapels that result from the front top corners folding down look very good. This top part of the garment is too flimsy for the weight of the jacket that pulls it all down.

To solve this issue I picked up stitches all along the top edge and knitting down on the inside. I already did the depth needed to change the roll-down/curl-up collar into a funnel shape collar that stands up straight - this part of things looks quite good actually, so I am pleased I did that.  I haven't yet finished knitting the lapel facings.  They are supposed to go from the bit where I stopped knitting the back collar facing and then descend diagonally below the fold-back line of the lapels.  Fingers crossed this works.

I also started new projects: my huge pink round doily, the five-leafed Rose of England that I called Cinq Feuille Rose. I am getting on well with it.  It came about because I ordered a single skein of Wollmeise Pure. I just couldn't help myself!  I looked at Ignorant Bliss's blog again and she used this yarn a lot.  Her stuff just looks so lovely!

So I checked several online shops as well as Wollmeise's themselves and then went for it. Imagine my shock when this one precious skein in Tutu Dark arrived... and I only realised then that I had bought the exact same shade before and made a shawl from it!  That was my plan for this skein - I don't need nor want two shawls in the exact same colour, same brand, same everything!  What was I thinking?

So if in doubt: make a feature out of a bug.  I went back online and ordered the light and the medium shade of Tutu as well.  Then I started this round shawl graduating from light in the centre to that dark shade on the outside.  Problem sorted!  I thoroughly enjoy this knit too.

The yarn is a bit splitty so you have to pay attention but it's wonderfully springy and sort of spongy. Unfortunately I also bought a skein in dark grey, in dark brown, and one in natural (to maybe dye myself? Don't know yet) - they might not be available going forward!  Or so I told myself...

I bought more yarn (I know, terrible!) like lovely, gorgeous, wonderful one ply Madelinetosh Prairie in three colours: dark red (Dahlia), grey (Ink) and pink (Posy).  I am using the dark red/pink to make a summer top with a lacy back and probably a smooth stockinette front, sleeveless.

I saw another great, big shawl on Ignorant Bliss's blog called Nuvem - it sounds like a brilliant stashbuster when you are left with a large quantity of yarn you don't know what to do with.  So I started what I now call my Big Blue Sail, ahem.

It is much bigger than this by now.  The yarn is thick and thin, by Texere.

And at last but not at least a few people at a knitting group I go to some times decided to do the Block Stitch cowl as a knit-along.  Again, great for stash busting - I am using a blue and grey sock yarn, but had to buy a second blue yarn because my light grey sock yarn was a bit too light and bright.  The photo shows just one of the patterns, there are another two.

I even managed to finish a project recently.  Luckily it's a Christmas present for my dad - ribbed socks: I so hope they'll fit!

Sorry about the photos, I want to take nicer ones but it's better to show some photos, even bad ones, than none at all.

I am pretty sure that I was busy with other projects recently too, but these are the ones I can think of.  Plenty there, I would say.

I see now that I seem to have had the theme of blue, pink and grey this year!  Am I ever using any other colours?  Oops.  And: I've done a heck of a lot of  ...realising... once I got a bit into a project.  This might reflect the organic process I seem to follow, or just scatterbrainedness... Either.

How has your crafting year been?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A quick teaser

I have to post a very quick teaser.

I started on a project which is quite a challenge - and I think I can get a really good blog post out of it too  (Promises, promises!).

I saw the general technique somewhere: how to develop a dressmaking pattern to get a piece that curves and drapes and generally behaves in a relatively unpredictable three-dimensional manner - the technique is all about how to tame this apparently chaotic and wild appearance so you arrive at a useable pattern piece.  It's not even that difficult to do!

It sounds quite intriguing, doesn't it?

Well, I am completely in seven heaven with this.  This is just the sort of thing I absolutely love: -

Pattern construction, turning something 3D into a 2D pattern piece - figuring out what kinds of curves and angles work out how... I absolutely love that.

I saw a photo of a pretty special collar.  And I also saw a technique of how to sketch a ruffle that falls in a sort of waterfall pattern - and how you turn the sketch of that ruffle into a pattern piece. So therefore...

This blog post made a lot of sense.

I did try it with my collar and I think I got somewhere!  Like I said, this is just a quick teaser - I will write the blog post proper soon and hopefully take a good photo or two to illustrate the concept, pattern and technique.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Vitamin D

I haven't blogged about this shrug yet. I finished it in the early days of summer and then never got round to blocking it properly.

That's why it still looks a little bedraggled on the hanger in the photo at the top.

It is called Vitamin D and the pattern is by Heidi Kirrmaier. She has some really, really great designs on Ravelry!  Check her out. I was smitten by them. (I am also making the Snow Mountain swing jacket, in a light blue linen yarn! And I bought another four patterns, whoops... All utterly fabulous and I couldn't pass them by)

I like the yarn-over detailing at the back of the nape and the bottom of the hem. 

I don't think that I chose a suitable yarn.  This is a bog standard black sock yarn and it's just a bit too firm for this pattern.  The centre front edges curl in and they still do all this time later.

I like the general shape of this and I am quite surprised that I haven't worn it yet.  To my defense I have to say that I did have to flat-hunt and then move house since I made this - which explains the lack of blocking and wearing.

Hopefully soon.

I will try and get a photo of me wearing it, that should show it a little better.

I was really good fun to knit: I kept storming through the different sections of the pattern (Ravelry link here) and can very easily see myself making this again - in a totally different yarn and very likely a different colour too.

Friday, 10 October 2014

More stash-busting ideas

Oooooooh, I just came across another fantastic stash busting idea in this blog post:

How to find and follow an idea - by Myrna Giesbrecht.

Have quite a bit in remnants left over from previous projects?

Answer: make a child's garment out of it!

Now if that's not another stash busting genius idea then I don't know what is.  How utterly fabulous!

The little girl's dress that Myrna is designing here is looking very gorgeous.  I will look out for her next post on the same project: I can't wait to see how it pans out!

I love her use of the thin ribbon like pieces (are they selvedges?)

Beautiful.  Now I just need to find time or make myself sit down to sew whether I feel I have time or not.  Let's get to it!

Monday, 6 October 2014

I seem to have bought a pattern

I went to this charity shop for a men’s shirt.  I wanted a shirt to upcycle (I just fancied it as a sewing challenge) and not having any men’s shirts to hand, I gave this charity shop a go.  They did have quite a few shirts, but none in a fabric that I liked.

Instead I found this:

Excuse the badly lit photo

Also a cardigan which I got rid off as soon as I got it home because there was a stain I didn't see in the shop, plus the fabric wasn’t all that nice.  So off it went to another charity shop.  Oh well.

This blouse looks lovely: I had not worn any ruffles placed like this before and now I think this works really well with my shape ('apple' as they say. Or 'barrel' shape: wide in the middle, tapering off on either side  - my waist is my problem area).  As a bit of a coincidence, I had decided a short while ago that I do need to add interest to the neckline area and the ruffles here do an admirable job.  I want to explore that element further in future in terms of clothes that I would buy or sew.

Unfortunately I don’t love the linen fabric and its thin weight.  The wrinkled linen look just doesn't look all that great in this particular linen.  Not utterly besotted by the colour either.  I don't hate it but I’m not in love with it either.  A chalky looking pale blue.  It is a bit insipid and puts me off from wearing this blouse.

Then I discovered that the bust dart is in the wrong place: it sits too high, points in the wrong direction and it is too short.  All of this is something that cannot be fixed in an existing garment.


But I can easily adapt a pattern to use the design elements of this blouse and position the dart in the right place.

Now that I discovered the dart issue I am more than happy to get rid of the blouse.  As in: get it out of my wardrobe to never be worn again (I did wear it once, today, so that's fine: I got some use out of it).

I am thinking of taking this blouse apart: this will give me the shape of the ruffles (I suspect that they are circular, with the lower ones cut out of a slightly bigger circle than the upper ruffle) and the main proportions of the blouse: length, width, neckline shape – and also the sleeve pattern.

The sleeves are definitely something that I have to take apart to see what pattern they are based on.

With all that information I should be able to draft a blouse pattern that’s very close to this one. I know that I’ll want to take the side seams in a touch at the top and make a slight change to the neckline: I would prefer a simple V-shape instead of this neckband type facing which doesn't contribute anything particularly clever to the design.  I do like the yoke across the shoulder, I want to keep that.

So its seems that I haven’t so much bought a second-hand blouse as a pattern to use to sew something that I know will fit!   It turns out that this purchase was not a waste but a clever way of getting a wearable muslin – it is exceedingly useful in that function too!

Do you shop in charity shops and what kinds of clothes do you look for?  Something to upcycle or to wear as it is?  Do you ever frankenpattern several old clothes into one new design?  I would love to hear and see ideas!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The little warm shrug that hugs

I did it!  I finished a project.  Phew!

This is particularly pleasing because I need this and want to use it.

I need something to keep the back of my neck warm.  I seem to be sitting in a draft at home, at work and everywhere.  My neck just hurts again and again and I am fed up ith it.

So here is the little shrug that could:

This is Drops Alpaca.  A delightfully shaded colour green with some bluey bits in it.  Just delicious.

It is a very plain K1 P1 rib, so it was very easy to make.  And quick!  I have to use up lots of my stash (a seemless continuation from my last blog post all the way back in July. Yep, I still have the exact same problem with too much stuff.  But I also moved house.  Into a smaller place! So I now I have to get rid of the excess) - and this did just the job.

The bit that hangs over the hanger and sticks up in the lower photo: as just a plain rectangle that's sewn together to form "arms" it didn't work well enough to keep my neck warm.  It cut off just a bit too low down.

So I added rows to the centre stitches (of the edge where I cast off partially for the sleeves) while knitting two together at the beginning of each row.  The lower edge is the cast-on edge.

This top bit does flop over when wearing it but the pull from the arms distributes the top edge well enough at the back of my neck to do the job that I want it to do.

If I make another one I might add straps to attach to the sides of the top curve (where I decreased by one stitch at the beginning of each row), so that these can be tied in a bow tie at the front of the throat.  That could look quite cute and would hold this curve in place a bit better too.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Drowning in stash

Oh of goodness' sake!  I've only just now figured out why I have such a massively inflated stash: I keep buying more, and more, and more fabric, it has got very much out of hand.  I just don't know where to put the stuff any more and I can't possibly hope to use it all up!


Why oh why am I doing this?

And, oh boy, I only just realised!

Buying beautiful fabric is the best and most enjoyable part of "sewing" for me!

Never mind that I'm not yet sewing anything at all.  Nevermind that this is all still an unrealised ambition, hopes and plans, and nothing more.  As long as I'm still dreaming I can dream of anything at all - nothing has to be put to the test yet!

When I do sew something I often feel frustrated and discouraged because the garments don't fit me well enough. The couple of times or so when the finished item did fit well, I have been very pleased and even delighted with the result.  But that's not often the case.

What I would like to do is develop a range of patterns that are tried and tested: templates that I can cut out, sew up and they'll fit!  No fiddling, no faffing about.

Doesn't that sound brilliant? And it's not impossible to do, I just have to put the work in.

I have quite a lot of plans for my stash fabrics - and I've had an idea that might bring home how much of it I can realise and whether I can get rid of excess fabric.

I want to make a list of all the planned projects that I have in mind.  I want to list the following:

  1. Pattern (the number of the dressmaking pattern or template name)
  2. A description that reminds me what it was I had in mind
  3. The fabric (out of my stash obviously!) that I want to use
I have a feeling that I'll get quite an unpleasant surprise at how many, say for example, dresses I want to make. I might find that I can edit those plans a bit and cut down on the sheer volume of specific garment types. Make it all much more realistic and with that much more manageable too! (Yes please!)

I am also hoping that I'll be able to pick the most promising two projects out of each category and then get on with making those projects that promise to fit the easiest.

Now that does sound like a plan!

I am hoping I'll get somewhere with this.  How instructive to realise where I get my sewing jollies from!  Seeing as it's not from actually sewing it really isn't to be marvelled at that I'm not doing all that much sewing then, isn't it!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Trouser pattern

I did a really great course on Sunday (well, recently):  drawing up the pattern for a basic trouser block.  It was the trouser workshop at MIY Studio in Brighton, with the very patient and supportive Wendy Ward.  I had such a great day!

And I must say the pattern came out fantastic!

The trouser toile fits almost perfectly – as if I got poured into it in fact!  It only needs a tiny little sliver sliced off the side seams to get rid of some slight bagging in the hip to waist area, absolutely no problem:  I know by how much as well as where to start that slice and where to stop.

It was such a lucky thing that Monday was a bank holiday here in the UK.  I could have started to sew but alas I didn’t.  Only for the reason though that my massive stash of fabric did not yield a convenient length of suitable cloth.  All the right sized fabrics weren’t the right kinds of fabrics.  I had woven cotton that would wrinkle too much or dressmaking fabrics that would be great for blouses and all sorts, but no good for trousers.

I wanted something with good drape, a nice handle and in a colour that is not too attention seeking. I would like to reserve that kind of thing for my blouses and shirts.  Or skirts.  But not trousers.  They should be a bit more non-ostentatious.  Although I can see myself make a Capri style trouser at some point in a nice bright floral pattern – think Kaffe Fassett or Amy Butler.  Something like that.  But only for summer wear, away from work, on my own time.  Not for work (I reckon).

Plus I am very much after a very versatile pair that I can wear at work and elsewhere.  I usually get my basic black trousers at Marks & Spencer – I hadn’t recently because I went round all the rails and couldn’t find the exact shape I was after.  I wish they kept their styles a bit longer!  So you can go back and always buy the same ones again.  What do you want in a pair of black trousers?  Great fit and a very simple visual style, nothing else.  So why can’t retailers offer that?  Why chop and change when new styles don’t fit as well? All they do is lose customers when it gets too frustrating.  Those customers might not just go to the competition, they might even start to make their own!

Ergo why I am. So there retailers!  If you don't provide what I want, then I’ll go and make it myself.

I am still pretty motivated from the successful day on Sunday – so off I went to Goldhawk Road on Tuesday evening after work – and I found loads!

I got three lengths of fabrics that are more than suitable for trousers.  The shop owner gave me a discount and I paid £50 for the lot.  I think there is almost five meters there.  I got a really good discount because these were the end of bolts of between one and a half and two meters.  Great for trousers but not enough for a suit.  I don’t wear suits much, so I don’t care.  I am delighted to have found such lovely fabric.

And even more fabric: two lots of lining, an amazing black fabric with appliqué shapes on it, a grey fabric that I’ve been looking for for a while...  I can’t physically add it to my stash because there is no space.  But I also couldn’t leave the fabric I bought in the shops.  Damn.

I will just have to cut my newly made trouser fabric from two fabrics at once (not literally) and get sewing!

I can't wait to see what I get done!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

I wanna stash-bust!

I just had THE BEST idea yet!  As long as we're talking sewing, lovely fabrics and great projects of course (I would hope I've had other good ideas in the course of my life that might not be about sewing. You know what I mean...)

I've got this huge problem of a huge fabric stash, loads of ideas for sewing projects that I would quite like to get to at some point and the harrowing realisation that in addition to all the dressmaking fabrics I've amassed (it really is an unmanageable 'mass' at this point, sneef!) I have even more quilting cottons.  Absolutely LOADS of them!

So much fabric everywhere that I have no idea what to do with.  It makes me feel like I won't be able to get through it in the next 20 years or so.

And the worst thing is that every time I think I've got a dressmaking project I really want to make and wear: I don't seem to have quite the right fabric to hand.  It feels utterly sob-inducing to be honest.

So here's my fabulous idea: I've wanted a skirt in a nice big pattern for a while. I already sewed an A-line skirt in a patterned bright pink fabric which came out okay.  I did a mini skirt in a nicely patterned tartan, I like that one too - but I still haven't made a skirt in a really BIG pattern as I wanted.

I know: I'll use patchwork to MAKE that big pattern that I am yearning for!

How's that for a brilliant idea? I know: just genius, right?

Something a bit like this.

I can use mainly solid fabrics, I can mix in a print or two, I can pick out just those kinds of colours that I want - and then make a repeating motif of something like a big square with some kind of frame in different colours around it.  Dot those in regular intervals over the expanse of the skirt, and I'm sure I'll love wearing it!


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.