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!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

New Year, New Aims

Well, apologies for the belated wishes, but Happy New Year to you all.  I hope you all enjoyed your festivities.  Ours were relaxed and fairly quiet, which was welcome following the mayhem that was work.

Well it is a new year and it is time for (and I hesitate in saying the word) resolutions.  I used to set the ones that I guess most of us do.....get fit, lose weight, but I never did so I stopped making them.  However this year, I am setting myself aims.  I need quite a few things to change and my aim is make those changes.

In that vein, I have sewing aims too.  I failed miserably last year on what I wanted to do sewing-wise, so new year=new start.  I am still struggling with my wardrobe, but I have started the 40+ New Year Style Challenge and it is proving to be an interesting journey.  As I have commented previously, I love my jeans and indeed wear them most of the time.  I don't need a fancy wardrobe as I work from home and have a family, so jeans suit my lifestyle.  I would like to smarten up a bit though and just get out of my jeans occasionally.  But what is interesting is that I have learned that my style is Natural Elegance, so I have decided that rather denigrate my love of jeans, embrace them, they are what I am.  I also have a fear of pattern (one of our tasks was to put together outfits with at least 2 patterns in, it brought me out in hives, I tell you!), but actually, it is a really fab way of livening up an outfit, and I have also found out that I tend to favour a monochrome colour style, and tend to wear shades of one colour.  So I have a few things to work on, such as introducing more pattern and colour into my wardrobe.

I do still want to smarten up my wardrobe, so my aim is to make my skirt block, and also my trouser block.  My summer wardrobe is lacking in trousers and my winter wardrobe is lacking in skirts (well, jeans to count as trousers, don't they?).  I like clothes that can be multi-purpose, ie they can be dressed up and dressed down (which is why jeans are so a staple in my wardrobe), so I need to make some trousers that can be used for smart casual for work, but can then be used when I go out on the town with my girls.  I'm also looking make a few tops that fit that bill too.  I am also lacking in a couple of fancy outfits.  Last year, I had to miss out on the offer of last minute tickets to a ball as Cinders here had not a thing to wear.  I don't want to miss out again! (I am a sucker for a posh frock and champagne do!). However rather than do it all hap-hazardly, I need to work on building a whole wardrobe and not just bits and pieces and hope they all go together.  Coletterie are about to run their own style challenge: The Wardrobe Architect  so I shall be taking part in that.  Come back and see my progress.

I also want to practice certain techniques, rolled hems being one of them.  I can tend to do them by hand, but sometimes for speed, a machine-rolled hem is the only way to go and mine aren't great.  I want to learn to make those wavy, fishing line hems too.  I would also like learn to make corsets.

So quite a few aims there, which will take up a good part of the year, so I'd better aim at finding time to do them!!  So what resolutions, I mean aims have you decided on for 2014?