Sunday, 13 August 2017

Simply Sewing Magazine Mia Set, Flared Sleeve Blouse II

Lovely sleeves.

I have time for nothing but lovely sleeves this week. So I'm back with the Mia Set pattern from issue 32 of Simply Sewing magazine to create another blouse with luscious sleeves.

This time I'm using this crazy print fabric from Hillsborough Fine Fabrics. There's lots going on! Paisley and stars and swirls and flowers in pink and blue and yellow and cyan. This lovely 60s style geometric print was just the deal for another Mia blouse. Sew psychedelic.

The most time was spent cutting this bad boy out! I cut everything as a single layer as I wanted to make sure everything was perfectly symmetrical.
I paid a lot of attention to pattern placement as I did not want stars on my boobs! Cutting everything symmetrically made sewing up much easier. I have some beautifully matched seams on my sleeves that I am super proud of.

The open weave of my previous blouse allowed for quite a lot of stretch. This crepe though was much more rigid. This time I did have to incorporate the back slit opening so that I could get it over my big head. Instead of hook and eye I made a little thread eye and a hook I had kicking around. Thought I'd be fiddling about with this for ages but I was relieved it just seemed to fall into place.

Using solid fabric this time also meant that I incorporated the neck facing. I love the finish but I do not know anyone who actually likes a faced neckline!! Forever worried about it flipping up. It also makes for quite a rigid neck. don't tell anyone but the blouse came out a little tight across the chest so the rigid neckline doesn't help add any comfort. The chest fit is easily fixed by wearing a bra that's not padded (yes I have a few thanks!). In fact, its been nice to get some wear out of my homemade leopard bra.

My least fave part of my blouse is my sleeve hems, which sucks because it's all about the sleeves!! The double turned hem on such a curved edge really did my head in. It's not a neat job, so when I get a bit of time I'm going to unpick and neaten them up with overlocking and a single hem. Bit of a faff when there's so many sleeve hems though! Ha!

Scared off by my hemming disaster I did a single turn on the bottom and was much happier with it.


Location: Stoneface Creative, Storrs Lane, Sheffield
Currently Listening to: I Am The Walrus, The Beatles

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Simply Sewing Magazine Mia Set, Flared Sleeve Blouse

An eye-catching feature is what draws me to a sewing pattern. These stunning sleeves on the cover of issue 32 of Simply Sewing Magazine were enough to melt my heart. The pattern comes with two choices of sleeve, fluted or flared, and can be made into a dress or top. The style is very 60s in design, featuring cute bust darts from the armscye.

Desperate to get started, the fabric was some I had in my stash. It wouldn't have been my first choice. I know I love see-through, but the hole-y quality of this crochet fabric meant that you would be able to see the neckline facing had I followed the instructions. It felt a little like cheating, but instead I just turned in a very narrow hem around the neck to create a neater finish. I'm looking forward to hand picking some fabric from the shops to make another.

The pattern is very easy to follow, just have to pay attention when you're attaching all those sleeve bits together! There is the actual sleeve, two flared cuffs and a little joining insert that staggers the cuffs. The placement of these is perfect, not too far down the arm, giving a nice flare to any elbow movements. They are all stitched up together so you only see one join from sleeve to flare.

The pattern has a seam at the centre back with a gap at the top fastened by a hook and eye. I stitched up to the notch only to find the head hole was massive and absolutely did not need to fiddle about with a hook and eye. Instead I took quite a bit out of the back seam and stitched right to the top. I top stitched the seam allowances, making them quite wide as the open weave makes them kind of a feature.

Hems always look a bit bobbly in this fabric, but I did a double turned hem on the bottom and all the cuffs to finish off.

Would love to say more, but it was pretty simple! Looking forward to making more!



Location: Arbor Low Stone Henge
Currently listening to: Love Me, Las Kellies

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Hacked Gertie Pin-Up Sweater

I love my muted orange cropped sweater so much I knew it wouldn't be long before I made another.

I'd had my heart set on making something fitted out of some ribbed jersey fabric for a while, so didn't feel guilty when I chucked this black rib into my stash at this year's Sew Up North event in Leeds.

I originally wanted to make a fitted cropped sweater with a narrow hem on the bottom and the sleeves and a round neck. I knew there were a few alterations I needed to make to the pattern after my last two Pin Up sweaters I'd made based on the pattern from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual book.
The first, is I really needed to scoop the arm holes a little deeper to stop the jumper pulling at the underarms, then adjust the sleeve a little to fit. Thankfully the fabric is so stretchy very little adjustment was needed on the sleeves to get them to fit. I also sloped the shoulders a little for a better fit at the neck.

Everything was going well and my jumper looked to be fitting nicely. So I came to hem the bottom and got SO frustrated as the rib just stretched out something crazy as I stitched. It should have been a 10 minute job, but I decided to unpick the lot and attach a band like I did on my orange jumper. Thankfully adding an extra width of fabric meant that I could hack off the stretchy bottom of my jumper and act like it never existed.

My second failing came at the sleeves. I thought they would look cuter shorter, so I cut them down a little, then prepared to hem them. Yes you guessed it, the sleeve hems stretched out too and I was far from happy! I came to the conclusion there was nothing I could do. I cut off the gaping fabric but knew that if I had a second attempt I could end up with no sleeve left!! Luckily my fabric doesn't fray or unravel so I settled on leaving them raw. They are a little flappier than I would have liked them, but I don't think anyone would notice if I hadn't said.

What I wanted was a cute casual jumper I could wear with jeans or a tight skirt and that's what I've got. A couple of design changes along the way, but she fits pretty nicely


Location: Vault Car Park, Abbeydale Road, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Fast Fuse, Kasabian

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Simple Sew Keira Skirt

When I first spied Simple Sew's Keira Skirt pattern I knew I would end up with one of two things. This pattern could either make a lovely flouncy summery skirt, perhaps out of some layered chiffons or floaty crepe, or take on a more structural form using a fabric with more body. The pattern's main feature is its multiple pleats in front and back which create this gorgeous shape!

I left it to the luck of the fabric draw as to whether my skirt would be floaty or solid. I went for a browse round Abakhan Manchester and almost left empty handed (!), until I fell upon this black and gold cotton on the top floor. So, it may have said "CHRISTMAS GLITZ" along the selvedge, but the gold was making me think egypt not elves!! I bought a meter of this and a meter of lining fabric then set to work on constructing some pleats.

As a converted good girl (!!) I'm now a big fan of toiling up before getting stuck into my fancy fabric. The first pleat is an inverted box pleat at the centre front and centre back of the skirt. If you make sure you've cut your notches at the top of the skirt accurately then this is really easy. Just bring your two most central notches together to the center front and make sure your pleated fabric is at the back of the fold. Put some holding stitches across the top to hold it in place and mwah! An inverted box pleat!

There are a further two pleats either side of the front and back box pleat, making 10 pleats in total. This is where I found the pattern confusing!! I had a quick look at Pippa from Fabric Wrangler's version and Coolerama's tutorial when I realised the pattern they'd followed looked different to the picture of the Keira skirt on the Simple Sew website! The pleats in the instructions point out towards the hips, with the folded fabric inside and towards the centre front. The Keira skirt on the Simple Sew site clearly shows the pleats pointing towards the centre front and away from the hips. Go check it if you don't believe me! Well I tried both on my toile and definitely preferred the pleats pointing towards the centre front (the opposite to the instructions). It just seemed much more flattering for my little tum! I did the same on the back, and then just slightly altered how far down the centre box pleats came to. To give myself a bit more bum room, I stopped the back pleat 8cm from the top, and the front 12cm down. I found it made the other pleats hang much more comfortably and also stopped the skirt looking quite so much like shorts.

As usual, I made the skirt shorter, taking off about an inch and a half from the bottom (don'forget to do the lining too). Oh yeah, while we're on the lining- I didn't make one for my toile, but when I came to make one for my proper skirt it was too small?!?! Has anyone else found this?? Luckily there was room enough to open out the pleats in the lining and make them smaller and therefore the lining wider. Maybe I just cut the notches wrong (??!) but I'm usually pretty careful. No harm done and didn't need to recut anything, just a bit perplexing where I went wrong. Could it be because I folded my pleats the other way? Seems unlikely but can't see how else it happened!

The way I folded my pleats was also a bit of a pain at side seam/zipper area. I had to be careful not to catch the flappy bit of pleat in the seams otherwise they would hang funny. I spent quite a lot of time faffing about with this!! Despite all the pleats being so uniform it did take some messing around to get them all sat flat and equal on my body.

I took a little bit out of the top back where the skirt joins the waistband in a subtle curve, my new favourite alteration! This stops fabric from pooling in the small of my back.

I learnt a few tricks when it comes to lining a skirt (shows how often I bother to line things..!). The lining was sewn right sides together to the other length of the waistband, then flipped to the inside. Usually I would hand stitch to the zipper, but I discovered it was possible to sew it down from the inside to the other side of the zip tape then pull it out to the right side. This is a really nifty way of getting the top of the zip and the waistband to sit really neatly.

As a rule I am much more of a straight skirt kinda girl than a flare, so this skirt was always going to feel a bit abnormal to me. I love all the different shapes and folds and the gold in my fabric. There's something a bit futuristic about it (Hmm yeah, and to think I was going for egyptian). Sadly my fabric is super prone to creasing so I'm super paranoid to even sit down in it!! I gave those pleats a good old press and even treated them to a spray starching to get those lines really solid.

If I made another I think I would go down the floaty route to make more of a day skirt. I would also ensure I put more hefty interfacing into the waistband as this is lacking a little! The waistband is cut as all one piece which is folded over. I think it looks more professional to do a front and a back and then attach them along the top.

I hope you like my Keira Skirt! Backward pleats and the lot ;)


Locations: Jessops West, Sheffield City Center
Trafalgar Street, Sheffield City Centre
Currently listening to: Fujiyama Mama, Wanda Jackson

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Self-Drafted Mia Mini Skirt

If you follow me on Instagram, at the beginning of the year you'd have seen my little to-do list that I'd drawn up in place of making any resolutions. 99% sewing related, my stitching goals included- Draft two dresses, Make something spooky, Make something sexy, Design and draft a skirt with fitted waistband.

Its the beginning of June and I have just ticked off my final sewing goal!

My Mia skirt is quite simple in design, an A-line shape with centre front seam (!), and a zipper in the back. Instead of drafting from measurements like a pro would, I used the waistband pattern from my recent Shannon Shorts as a basis to draft from. I was really happy with the fit of these shorts so it seemed silly to draft a new waistband with the same fit.

The side seams of my first calico toile were straight out at an angle roughly based on that of another A-line skirt I own. The first try on was a good fit, but realised I could do with a little extra in my hips. I opened up the seams and put some rough little panels in to see what kind of curve was needed to accommodate my hips. I draw this curve onto my skirt, unpicked it then drew it onto my paper pattern pieces. Lovely hip curves!

My other big alteration was my very first hollow back adjustment. So pleased with how well it went! Basically it seems as though every item of clothing, whether ready to wear or made from a pattern sits perfectly at my front but ends up either miles up my back or all runkled in the small of my back. I could see my skirt was sitting a little high at the back, so basically I altered it so that the seam attaching the waistband curves downwards from my hips to centre back, then back up again. To determine how much needed taking out, I pinched the excess fabric at the back (between my bum and the waistline) and drew on a new seam line. It worked perfectly!!

Such a simple alteration made this skirt from something I might wear once or twice but not stand up in, to a total wardrobe staple! I quickly copied this adjustment onto my paper pattern and cut away the excess in the back.

** Side note, there's a really cool article on the By Hand London website for future ref on swayback adjustments**

I took out 1.5cm from either side of the centre back seam, but in my stretchier pleather fabric I took loads more out of the back (a further 1.5 on either side with a 1.5cm seam allowance).

I also cut a lining for the skirt, using the same pattern. I made the front piece a little bigger as I was worried the skirt would still be a little tight around the hips and didn't want that to take its toll on the thinner fabric. I tacked my lining to my skirt before attaching the waistband, making little tucks at the top with the extra fabric in the lining.

The lining was a nightmare to hem. Don't tell anyone, in the end I just ended up overlocking it and hoping it doesn't peek! Any tips on hemming a curved hem with a silky fabric. I absolutely despise hemming everything! I need some tips!!

Didn't insert the lining properly at the zip. I'd attached the two pieces together to the waistband, so when it came to inserting the zip, my pleather and my lining were acting as one, more like an underlining or backing. So inside there's a bit of poetic license going on in the zip area but you could never tell from the outside... and me mam couldn't tell from the inside! So can't be that bad eh?

My experience with pleather was much like my suede adventure, only slightly more predictable as pleather is much more consistent.
1- Always use a leather needle (I had no problems using the same one I used for my suede)
2- Pins will leave holes, so be careful where you're sticking them.
3- It's pretty stretchy so keep this in mind when drafting.
4- Stretchiness could potentially cause chaos when top stitching. The only top stitching I did was on my centre front seam. I could feel the foot dragging the fabric as it went along, so I would advise adding a layer of something you can tear away between the foot and the fabric, which is exactly what I did around the hem to stop it from stretching out on the way round.

So there you are! Hope you like my Mia Skirt! I'm so happy with the fit. I'm really getting my head around the frequent fitting problems that I come up against. I've got my eye on some of these crazy shiny leathers from Identity Store, Matlock, after all, you can never have to many mini skirts can you?



Location: Lilleshall Abbey, Shropshire
Currently listening to: Secondary Swan, Quilt