Sunday, 16 April 2017

Swedish Tracing Paper

Good morning my lovelies and Happy Easter.  It's a long weekend and so I thought I'd do some sewing (and yes it is a distraction technique to avoid the chocolate that is really shouting my name!).  I have a list and a plan (more of that on another day) to tackle, I mean use,  my stash and thought I'd make a start; actually I'm picking up a dress I toiled probably a year ago and bought the fabric probably a year before that!  Hey ho, what can I say other than "Life!"

Anyway, I digress.  Today, I thought I'd talk to you about Swedish Tracing Paper.  I was browsing through my instagram one day and "creative_ind_ "appeared on my feed with swedish tracing paper. I don't know about you but I trace off all my patterns and keep the originals in tact.  My weight has fluctuated over the years and I don't want to be stuck with one size of pattern I love and want to use again.  Also, I use Burda Magazine patterns, when I can face tracing off their trainwreck of a pattern!  I nearly always toile a pattern but I tend to skip pin fitting on the paper pattern as I find it just does not really work (but don't ANY of you tell my old tutor!), It's not an ideal process as it invariably means more than one toile and I am running out of toile fabric (note to self to find some cheap alternative fabric!).  Enter Swedish Tracing Paper!

 For those of you that don't know, swedish tracing paper is used as pattern paper.  It looks rather like a lightweight interfacing but it is far crisper, but not paper crisp.  It is see-through, making tracing a cinch; you can pin it and even sew it and because it is kind of fabric like, you can easily pin fit as it contours properly to your body.   It doesn't tear easily (although I managed to rip it having discarded in disgust an ill-fitting toile with a zip which I later yanked it out of pile with said zip caught on something else!)  so it is fairly robust and will put up with a toile fitting or two.  And you can use it as your pattern piece when you do (finally, in my case!) get round to making up your item of clothing.  The only downside and this really is so minor, I feel churlish mentioning it, is that felt-tip type pens (I use fineliners for my pattern marking and toile adjustments) will bleed if you keep the tip on it for more than a millisecond, which is fine if you are marking dots and notches, but not great if you hesitate on tracing out lines, but like I say, it is such a minor thing, it feels wrong to mention it.

A sneaky peak at my current project on the swedish tracing paper, and this is the reverse side

So in summary, so far I'm liking the swedish tracing paper.  Head over to Creative Industry if you fancy trying this out.  Clare also sells a great journal if you want to keep a track of what you are sewing.

Whatever you are doing today, enjoy and if you do use the swedish tracing paper, let me know; I do like to compare notes!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Vintage style Simplicity 8050

Well, I don't know if you know, but I do a little acting. Yes, I'm a luvvie but I don't really tell many people.......well until now!  I belong to a small local am-dram group.  I kind of fell into it.  I thought I was going to help with costumes one day but ended up standing in on a read through and was offered the part.  The rest, as they say, is history.

The last play we did was "The Actress" by Peter Quilter.  It's about the last show night of a retiring colourful complicated actress and I got the part of her dresser.  The play was set in the 1940s (love the 1940s).  My character was unglamorous, no-nonsense and  working.  I figured I needed a uniform, a no-nonsense dress.  A visit to our local fabric shop with Miss Frillymingoe found Simplicity 8050.  I bought a bottle green polyester fabric for it.  Yes, yes, I know that polyester isn't the right fabric for the era, but, the last week of  the play is full on - everyday from Sunday (2 rehearsals) through to the Saturday, which is last night.  I needed something that could be washed and dried easily, and as non-iron as possible - ergo a "lovely" polyester.

If I were making it for me to wear everyday, I would have done a whole host of fitting changes - FBAs, waist adjustments etc etc, but being I was so short on time, I just made it to my bust size and hoped for the best.

It has an interesting side front seam and by interesting, I mean a little tricky.  The curved seam of the skirt is an opposite curve to the bodice when sewing together and, according to the instructions, requires pivoting the needle on a set point before continuing the seam.  Three attempts later, I abandoned those instructions, sewed to the point, cut off the threads, re pinned the next part and then started the seam again.  But other than that, it sewed together really well.  I was going to leave it plain but on stage it was too dark and plain, so I sewed some white bias binding over the seams and around the collar, and actually, it really lifted it.

All-in-all, it turned out not too bad.  It was a tad big in places, but not so big it looked ridiculous.  I got seamed tights and authentic styled shoes, did my hair and make-up authentically and you know what?  I crushed it, to coin a phrase.  I had quite few of the older ladies say how their mother had worn a similar dress or their hair the same way.  I have to admit that a glance in the mirror saw my grandmother looking back at me!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

A Mourning and a New Look

Well Happy New Year to you all (can I still get away with that.........well, my blog, my rules, so I guess so :-D )

My planned forays into sewing were severely curtailed last beloved Janome MC9000 died.  I loved that machine.  It was bought with an inheritance from my grandmother and was a good solid machine of many talents, many which did, in truth, remain unexplored.  However, she dealt with whatever I threw at her without shudder or skipped stitch.......until last year.  I was making a dress for my daughter when she seized up and refused to move.  Luckily Miss Frillymingoe has her own little machine (a basic Janome) so I was able to finish the dress.  I put Lady Naomi (the Janome!) into the menders and luckily it was just a mechanical fault, and she had obviously been poorly for a while as she was positively purring when she came home.  However, a couple of months later I switched her off at night and the next day found her touch screen had gone.  All she would do was a straight stitch at 2.2 size.  A frantic search from Lovely Sewing Machine Man (really known as Rona Sewing Machines) did indeed prove that there were no longer any parts for her, so she has been retired.  I did have Miss Frillymingoe' machine, but it is very lightweight and doesn't have all the features I use and need so no sewing.  Then unexpectedly, I was gifted 2 machines from 2 different sources - an overlocker (the pedal of mine got lost in transit years ago in a house move) and a singer sewing machine.  Joy of Joys!  The machine is heavy, so it won't walk across the table when I rev her up and it has the main functions I require as a minimum.  This lady is back in business!

I had a little trip to Stockholm last September for a friend's Big Birthday and had decided to make a jumpsuit for it (before the demise of Lady Naomi) and found New Look 6413.  I love  multi-option patterns and this is no different - jumpsuit, dress, tunic, and 2 different sleeve options.  I had in my stash a browny-purple satin-backed crepe which I had picked up in the remnants box at Rolls and Rems in Edmonton (Note to all:  always have a look in remnants; you never know what you will find!) but alas it wasn't enough.  However, it was enough to make the dress but then got put on the back burner because of the demise of  Lady Naomi.

I had a bit of spare time over Christmas and decided to start tackling my stash and the New Look 6413 dress was calling me.  As it is a baggy style, I decided not to toile it and just cut my size.  Now I'm going to own up here.  I've been sewing for years......and years.......and years so you would think that my cutting out would be beyond reproach, wouldn't you?  I have no idea what happened, but I had 1 half sleeve that was longer than the others, and worse, the front facings ended up different lengths.  I have no idea what happened whether the underneath moved, it wasn't smoothed out properly or it stretched before I stay stitched it (the facing) but there it is - errors galore.  Mind, it meant my friend who is reasonably new to sewing felt mightily gladdened that it wasn't just rookies that end up with daft mistakes.

The pattern calls for an invisible zip, but I decided to funk it up a bit and make it an exposed zip, not that the dress needs a zip at all.  Then came the problem with the facing; one side fitted perfectly well but the other was short and did not reach where it needed to along the centre front.  Whilst wondering what to do, I remembered the wise words of my tutor from years ago advising to make a design feature of any mistakes so I decided to bind the facing edges in a funky cotton bias binding; a secret pop of colour!

Not my finest work, but it serves a purpose and only I (ok, we) know about it!

The waistline is elasticated (I don't normally do elasticated) and I really wasn't sure about the dress when I tried it on to do the elastic; it felt too baggy and shapeless but as I needed it for a night out, I just decided to go with it.  Having finished it and worn it, I have to say that I love it!  It's very comfortable to wear, not at all baggy or shapeless, with some cute side pockets (I love a pocket or two!) and feels quite chic - effortless chic, that's me! There are a few niggles, eg the front neckline could perhaps do with a smidge taking out of it and I'm not entirely happy with the elasticated waistline; it feels bulky but I guess these are things that only I notice in my full-on critical being!  But I will definitely wear it again and I will make it again, in the jumpsuit version.  It's very easy to long as you don't make silly mistakes!!

Scuse the semi-ferocious face and walking pose.  I was heading towards Miss Frillymingoe to sort out, I mean help her in taking the photo......and this was the best of bad (and rushed) bunch, just as I was heading out to meet the girls!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Pretty Woman Kimono (aka The Slippery Sucker!)

Goodness me, I can't believe it is 2 years since I last posted.  I won't bore you with the details, but life got in the way BIG time, but now I am on an even keel and and am determined to sew more (actually, I have been sewing, just not blogging it, maybe I will showcase those at some point!)......and tell you more :-D

I was having a coffee with my mother-in-law on Thursday and she showed me a lovely dress she'd bought for a lunch at her golf club.  It is a sleeveless shift dress in cream with a black and red pattern.  She was bemoaning the fact that she had been unable to find any lightweight jacket and had really wanted a silky kimono style one.  A light-bulb moment occurred........I decided to make one for her.  I can and do cut my own patterns, but I was too short on time and brain cells to be be bothered with trying to work out what I needed so I went on a tinterweb hunt and found a freebie pattern from Sew Caroline  and then went on a fabric hunt (my stash was not forthcoming this time!).  I found some black slipper satin which had a lovely drape and was perfect so 2 metres of that and 2 metres of narrow black ribbon for hanging straps (is that what they are called?) came in at under £10.

I debated about which side to use the fabric, ie make it all in satin (and run the risk it looked like a dressing gown) or use the matt side.  In the end I went for the main body in the matt side with satin bands at the end of the sleeves and hemline for bit of dressiness.  I figured that this way, it could be worn more casually but still be dressed up when needed.  The pattern and instructions printed out well and were easy to to put together and follow.  It should be a quick make, but me being me decided to complicate it.  The satin (as you will know if you have sewn with it before) frays like made and so I decided to french seam it.  The bands were also sewn on the enclose the seams.    To do this, I sewed a line of stitching along one edge, 1cm in to be a foldline marker.  I then used a narrow seam and sewed the band to the jacket on the opposite side.  To finish off, I folded along the stitch line and pinned it in place just over the seam line and then "stitched in the ditch" which held it all in place whilst enclosing the seam.  

Reverse of pinned satin band

Stitching in the ditch

For finishing the front edge, the pattern recommends a rolled edge or a fold over and top stitched finish.  I decided to go for a bias binding edge, to enclose the seam but also to give a bit of weight to the edge.  I made my own binding Colette's fab tutorial.  However, sewing the satin onto satin was fiddly as, in the words of Vivienne in Pretty Woman, it was a "slippery little sucker" but I got there in the end.  A quick press and it was delivered.

It's a great little pattern.  My only criticism, as such, is that I would change the work order slightly: sew the shoulder seams, attach the sleeves then sew the side seams (particularly if you are going to french seam them!), but no real biggy.  Think I'm going to make one for me and my niece will probably get one as she has just said how much she loves it (unless she steals her grandma's one first lol).

The Pretty Woman Kimono Jacket

Monday, 1 September 2014

Toiletries Bag

Little Miss FM had a residential trip with her school early in summer and bizarrely her toiletries bag had disappeared, so we had to organise a new one.  When she was little I made her some cloth nappies and had collected a veritable stash of fat quarters for the creation of said nappies.  She loves butterflies and I had in my stash a funky butterfly fabric so decided it was about time to use it.  I bought a cheap shower curtain for the lining.

To make it, I cut out the shower curtain to the same size as the FQ.  I also decided to make a pocket for it so that wet stuff could go one side and dry the other (I just hate my toothbrush rubbing up against soap!!!) so cut out a piece of the curtaining that was half the size of the FQ.  Then with wrong sides together (ie right side out) I stitched down one of the long edges,along the bottom and up the other side.  I then turned it inside out and repeated the stitching, effectively making a french seam and enclosing and securing the pocket part.

The next step was to fold down the top to make a channel and then thread through the rope to close it.  It was a very quick job and Little Miss was thrilled with her new bag.  It is funky and different and plenty big enough to hold all she needs.

Hope you like it!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Things to think about when sewing

A friend recently asked me to help her make a skirt.  Well actually, she asked me to make it, but I persuaded her to have a go.  So I was putting together a little pack of instructions and it got me thinking about some things you need to think about when making clothes and I thought I'd put together my little list here for you all.

Firstly, never, never, never, ever, ever, EVER use your fabric scissors on anything but fabric.  Remember the childhood game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, where scissors beat paper? Well they do, but paper is the race equivalent of a tortoise.........over time paper will blunt your scissors (and therefore be triumphant!).......and blunt scissors do not and will not cut fabric.  In fact, they will eat your fabric, which isn't quite so bad if it is cheapy toile fabric, but not your lovely, expensive me-made-to-wear fabric.  So quite simply, only use your fabric-cutting scissors for fabric (and explain to all family members that if they want to keep their limbs, they keep their hands off your fabric scissors too and you must manage as menacing face as possible when telling them this). I have a cheap pair of scissors for cutting paper (actually, I have several pairs of these as little hands keep stealing my paper scissors) and a couple of pairs of fabric scissors, and for these always buy the best you can afford.

When it comes to cutting out your pattern pieces, give some thought to seam allowances.  Commercial patterns tend to all 1.5cm seam allowance, but that doesn't mean you have to stick to it.  If I am inserting a zip, I like to allow at least 2cm seam allowance on the zip seam.  It adds a bit more stability to the allowance where the zip is and also means I can finish the seam allowance.  Also, think about how you want to finish your seam allowances; are you going to zig-zag stitch it, overlock it, give a "hemmed" finish (ie turn it under and stitch close to the fold line).  How you want to finish your seam allowance (and this will depend on your fabric choice) will determine how much seam allowance you need to have.

Do you want your clothing to be lined?  Anything can be lined and if a pattern doesn't include lining, it doesn't mean it can't be or you shouldn't line it.  Lining often makes clothes hang better, and also helps prevent wear and tear on seams (as they are hidden away).  It also means you don't have to finish off your seam allowances as they will no be subjected to direct wear and tear and so won't fray (if it is a frayable fabric!)

Don't be afraid to change things in a pattern.  You may love a particular style of dress, for example, but the neckline may not suit you.  Just change it to one you do like (obviously, if you do this, you will need to change the shape of any facing, but it's no big deal).

And lastly, always toile a pattern (test it out on cheap fabric) first to check the fit.  You really don't want to go straight into cutting your precious fabric only to find that it doesn't quite fit (and that one is learnt from bitter experience!)

What things do you give thought to when you are sewing?

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Satin Top for Miss FM and some lessons learnt

Miss FM was recently invited to the batmizvah of her best friend's sister (ya with me so far?).  Now,the dress code for this was "posh frock" which sent Miss FM (and not to mention me) into a tail spin.  Why?  Well, Miss FM is very sporty, not particularly girly and loves her trainers and leggings.  She owns only 1 dress, which she asked for and then has subsequently refused to wear.  She refused to look at dresses and shoes whilst I sat in a corner wailing and gnashing my teeth.  We then went fabric shopping and found some (as I thought at the time) pale blue satin and an A-line dress pattern which I could adapt to make a 60's style shift dress and which I thought would suit her petite frame, as well as being on trend.  Sorted!  However, unbeknownst to me Mr FM had suggested DM style boots and tutu skirt which Little Miss was very taken with.  So boots (some very lush patent white ones were found) and a navy blue tutu skirt were found.  So instead of being Audrey Hepburnesque, she was insistent on funky goth!  I then realised that my pattern was the wrong style to make into a top and searched around and came across Burdastyle 09/2012 #150  which I could easily (did  you hear the snigger there?) adapt to a top.

Now Miss FM is 10 next month, but is very slight in frame.  This pattern didn't go up to her age, (think it goes up to an age 6) but her measurements weren't that far out.  I did the dreaded tracing of the pattern and set about making a toile.  I decided to add the extra width at CF and CB and thought that I would have to drop the armhole.  In my panic (this was on Friday night and the party was on Sunday and Saturday was fully of sporting fixtures) I couldn't remember how to adjust the sleeve to get the right length but an emergency call-out to the lovely TSF ( ladies sorted that.  Toiled the bodice and found I had to take out all the excess I'd put in and so decided to do the sleeve as per the original pattern too.  Little Miss tried it on, and success!  It fitted no alterations needed!!!  However overnight, I was awoken with a nagging feeling.  When I did my pattern cutting course, my tutor always said that only 1 sleeve need to be toiled if your body was symmetrical, which I had done.  However in the break of dawn, I was having my doubts.  I did the other sleeve and it was too small - not enough width and too high under the arms.

As the top fitted her perfectly around the neck, I decided to add the extra width in the shoulders by slashing and spreading the pattern.  I cut up the bodice from hem to shoulder and added 2cm.  Make sure you have a reference point, eg a waistline so that when you move the pattern piece out, it is kept at the same level to keep the proportions correct.  Just redraw the shoulder line from point to point.
 To make the sleeve adjustment, I had draw in the Crown Line (or bicep line as it was told to me).  This is the point where the sleeve head meets the sleeve edge. See below.
 Again, I did the "slash and spread" method.  I had lowered the armhole by 2cm, which meant that I to increase the height above the crown line by 2cm.  She also wanted the sleeves wider so I added 1 cm to each side of the sleeve and redrew the sleeve head to match. If you widen the sleeves, remember to add the same amount on the side seams of the bodice.

I decided against doing a facing and just lined the top (the satin was shredded on a cut edge as soon as the scissors were waved in the air!) as that was the best way of protecting the armhole edges (my overlocker foot and power pedal has been missing since we moved, 10 years ago, never got round to replacing it and my machine really doesn't like doing zig-zag stitch) and I put in a concealed zip. The top was very baggy which Little Miss was happy with but wasn't right with the skirt so I pinched out some darts in the back, leaving some bagginess in the front as a compromise. And here it is: 

It's a bit frumpy on, in my opinion but it was what Little Miss specified and who am I to argue with someone's burgeoning style.  She was happy and a happily dressed person is a confident one!

Oh and the lessons learned?  1)  Don't start a project late at night, especially if you will need to do (major) alterations, 2) Your tutor isn't always right and 3) don't let your other half get involved in wardrobe planning!