Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Simplicity 1419 Lisette Round Trip Jacket

From the packet illustration, you could totally miss this Round Trip jacket on Simplicity 1419.  It isn't photographed which is a shame as it is a lovely shape and a great entry level jacket.  During Me-Made-May 14. I saw a black version that Liesl Gibson (days 2 and 3 in the link pic) had made of her pattern and was rather smitten.    There are a few versions floating round the blogisphere so you can see what other sewists have done.  I had also ordered some Flight jersey by Birch Fabrics from Village Haberdashery and it was a lot less stretchy and also thicker than I had anticipated.  In fact it was so stable with only a little stretch so I hatched a plan to make the Round Trip jacket from this fabric.

I had .5 metres of 44" wide fabric- about 70cm short of the recommended amount so I had to do some very creative cutting and for quite a long while, I was just exasperated by the tessellations.  Eventually, after much wiping of bro, I got it to work.  Let's just say there was no wastage and I would not recommend trying to be so economical. 

I cut a size 10, adjusted the darts to make the bust smaller on the front piece but otherwise, everything else was size 10.  I ended up taking the side seams in by ½", equivalent to a full inch each side and this went into the armhole and was blended along the upper sleeve just under the top of the arm.  The jersey was quite thick and very flat so I used lightning stitch and a ballpoint needle on my Janome and the seams are a mix of unfinished (centre back) and serged.  I need a fairly nipped in shape to suit my proportions otherwise it would look too boxy.  

The shawl collar style lapels are the hardest part, there are a lot of layers and seams needed multiple layers of grading to deal with the bulk.

I added shoulder pads. I already had a ready-made pair of standard haberdashery spongy pads  and I used my remaining scraps to cover them and then stitched a few anchor points to secure them on the seams inside.  It just added a bit of extra shape to the shoulders. 

I used a stretch interfacing on the collar which I bought locally sometime ago. It added a bit of substance to the lapels and the stretch worked well with the jersey.  It looks a bit weird when you are handling it but it fuses easily ( I used a press cloth- basically just another layer of thin cotton fabric) at a moderate heat.  I used dental floss and zig zag to gather the frill- find out how at Indiesew and I've see it elsewhere too- a good method for bulkier fabric.

The sleeves are cropped, for me this worked out at bracelet length.  I used the flat method to set them in which is standard for knit construction and can be used for wovens too.   The Round Trip jacket is a great transitional piece, one up from a cardigan to wear with summer dresses and short sleeves as Summer gets a little cooler and goes into Autumn. A stable jersey like this is great for a simple jacket;  it makes the fitting easier as there is some stretch and the fabric is very forgiving.  A little bit smarter than a hoodie too (thought I do love a hoodie).  

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Friday, 15 August 2014

August at Village Haberdashery

It is always good to start with an offer on my monthly visits to sponsor shops and Annie at Village Haberdashery has a free fat quarter offer than runs until 19th August.  For every £10 spent online or in person at the shop, you will receive a  free fat quarter- you can choose if you shop in store, surprise for online shopping.
New arrivals in the shop include Indellible from Katerina Roccella at the Art Gallery team.  I am seeing these prints everywhere on Instagram at the moment!

It is a great mix of scale, colours and textures in the prints.  I think Spirodraft is my favourite.

I rather like Sarah Watson for Cloud 9 new range, Arcadia, particularly the smaller ditsy 'Tumbling' prints which are great for background fabrics in paper piecing.  Anna is stocking the Aqua colour way

If you are thinking ahead to cooler weather, Rae Hoekstra's Fanfare flannel collection (also for Cloud 9) is very cute, a mix of solids and small scale patterns - it perfect for children's wear (and adults, PJ pants please!) and for simple cuddly quilts- large squares would be simple and very effective.  I really like this colour palette-orchid purple and mustard gold together is a big thumbs up from me.

My love of Nani Iro fabrics is well documented here.  This is a cotton sateen fabric from her most recent collection, Shine Many Ways Saran. You can get a feel for how the fabric looks in clothing from Toni's post from Frances' Nani Iro month

Sateen has more floating threads than a standard under/over weave which makes for a more satiny polished finish, smooth and silky cotton, making it lovely to wear.  It can catch and snag with those threads floating on top so I would use this for tops over bottoms like trousers, and it would gather beautifully for a dress.  A rather luxurious fabric!  You can see other sateen fabrics in the shop here.  There's another beautiful sateen fabric that I was very taken with, Jubilee in Angelfish, a Kokka fabric.

It's worth taking a closer look at this print here and clicking on the various picture links as there are details in the print that you can't see in this pic.
My eye was drawn to a few random fabrics that were new to me and are flying solo in the shop, with no other direct co-ordinates, starting with this bright Planet Buzz plaid:

Easy to co-ordinate with those colours running through the checks:  My suggestions are

 More plaid but yarn dyed plaid from Robert Kaufman fabrics and aimed at clothing as well as dressmaking, Studio Stash Yarn Dyed Large Plaid in Charcoal:

If you were thinking of clothing, remember to allow extra fabric to match the plaid, half a yard should do it.  I then saw this Stylish Sheep print, can't believe how well it goes with the plaid!  Available in other colours too.

For a bit of cuteness how about this cat print by Dawn Bishop and from Dashwood studios,

Which coincidentally looks like it will play rather nicely with this Tangram print from Rashida Coleman Hale's Moonlit collection for Cotton + Steel:

And to finish, this pattern caught my eye, Focal Quilt by the wonderful Carolyn Friedlander.


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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Simplicity 1419 Lisette Dress

I often incentise my sewing with mini targets and chances to wear the item in question.  This dress was made for Fat Quarterly Retreat 2014.  I wanted to find a pattern with a good bodice that I could translate on to a range of dress skirts and I think I have found it.  Simplicity 1419, Lisette dress and jacket.  I've made the jacket too and that is being treated to a blog post of its very own.  The dress was an easy make, once I got over the always essential and tedious hurdle of making a test bodice and altering the darts.

I tweaked the neckline to complement the 1950s feel of the print with a little help from Simplicity 2444  and brought the neckline in at the shoulders to keep bra straps under wraps.  The bodice is lined in cotton lawn so I didn't have to add any facings.

Apart from that, this is an easy pattern to sew and fit.  The skirt width is altered at the side seams- the front pleats are the same for each size.  Nice and easy!

I like to try out any tips and tricks when I can, so this time for the zip, I tried a little glue basting.  In quilting/patchwork  Cristy and her mom, Sharon have popularised this method for different kinds of piecing.  It uses Elmer's school glue and a bottle with a fine tip.  I found Elmer's School Glue on Amazon.  I bought these tiny glue bottles on ebay and the tip hasn't clogged, it has worked brilliantly!  You do need to remember to heat set as you glue using a dry iron. It certainly made sewing a zip (never my favourite job) a lot easier.

Quick summary of the method: Glue Basting a Centred Zip
  1. The centre back seam is sewn with a large temporary stitch to the point where the zipper end will be, then change to a smaller standard stitch, secure with a back stitch and sew the remainder of the seam.   Press the seam open.
  2. On the WS, the zip is placed with teeth against the opened seam, using a thin line of glue on either side to hold the zipper tape in place and keeping the glue away from the zipper teeth.  Press zip gently down with a dry iron.
  3. Turn to RS, sew from the top of the zipper to the bottom, stitching ¼" away from the centre seam stopping at the centre seam and securing.  Repeat on the other side.
  4. Unpick the large temporary stitches to reveal the zipper teeth underneath.
As I was lining the bodice, I didn't need any seam edge finishing but usually this would happen in step one.  I have been trying glue basting with some other dressmaking steps, just here and there.  It washes out and is a very temporary adhesive and I've had no problems so far.

 Other fancy finishing included using some tape to cover the waist seam on the inside,  it looks nicer and makes it more comfortable to wear.

Time for my close ups; thank you to my daughter as ever for the pictures.

Essential Details
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Monday, 11 August 2014

'How to Catch a Frog,' Heather Ross : Review

I mentioned I started reading 'How to Catch a Frog' by Heather Ross a while back and in all honesty, I enjoyed it so much I stopped reading it so that I could save it up to take on a weekend away and to read on the way up to Fat Quarterly Retreat. Each time I opened this book, I was totally immersed in her stories and memories.

 She doesn't pull any punches. The memories are truthful so not always happy, sometimes challenging and an honest portrayal of an alternative family life, warts and all. Her tone is sage and funny. I am around the same age and I found a lot to identify with despite a childhood in Yorkshire and Devon rather thanVermont.  You can find a brief description of her background on her website to get an idea of where the stories are coming from.

I know Heather Ross through her fabric designs and reading this book gave me a hindsight understanding of her themes and ideas. The free flowing natural sketchy drawings  all have their origin from her formative experiences.  The horses, the frogs, the mermaids  come from a life of outdoors, freedom and a love of nature.

Her determined and tenacious personality comes through amidst the unstructured childhood and the adhoc experiences at college and work.  She is resilient through all her adventures practical and pragmatic about events, funny and forthright to those around her.  The 'makes' are diversions along the way, cul de sacs to turn off into whilst reading her story.  The drawings are occasional and there were times when I wished for a photograph, especially in the third chapter when a black and white picture of their school house is referenced- it seemed to communicate so much about the way in which they were living and her mother's attitude to parenting.  Ultimately my imagination filled in the gaps and I also wondered if seeing an actual photo would have been to invasive into another family's life.

I identified with a lot throughout  despite the obvious differences.  I was sad for the book to end: its an emotional journey, I cried reading it on the train and I finished it wanting to read the whole thing again. Recommended. 

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Friday, 8 August 2014

Craftsy Sale and Recommendations

I have mentioned Craftsy classes many times, the ones I have used I rated highly and for learner dressmakers who either can't afford shop classes or don't live near that sort of service I think they are invaluable.  They are having one of their many sales at the moment- I don't think I have ever bought a class at full price!  


Classes I have used included, 'Sassy Librarian Blouse'  I liked this because of the exacting nature of Christine's approach.  The pattern was OK, great if you like a 60s vibe  but what I really enjoyed was the precise nature of her sewing- e.g. for me it was a master class in tucks, sewing a very rounded collar and top stitching.   Many of these steps are covered in real time and you can see exactly what she is doing and how she does it. It is a bargain at the lowest price in the sale- £9.50 or $14.99.  
I have mentioned Meg McElwee's 'Sewing with Knits' class a few times here as well.  This is my go-to for a long sleeved T and is a great place to learn about knits with or without a serger, on sale at £12.50/$19.99.  This class comes with five PDF patterns to print out.

If you want something more technique based and at an intermediate level, I have bought Joi Mahon's Fast Track Fitting.  I have used it a bit in making alterations, especially to arm holes and sleeve heads and it is useful on bust fitting too- not completely comprehensive but a good starting point to making fitting adjustments.  £12.50/$19.99.

Another technique even geeky class which I really enjoyed and watched in episode instalments was 40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know, Gail Yellen.  This is a tips and tricks class, great info on top stitching, interfacing, curves, difficult fabrics.  I liked it a lot. £12.50/$19.99

This is a promo post, I am a Craftsy affiliate so if you click these links and chose the class I do get a benefit but I only recommend what I know and like.  There are other Craftsy classes I have been tempted by but I have found them too expensive and haven't tried them!  I think around £15 is my upper limit on this sort of online class.  I do recommend that you check out the class reviews before you buy a class as I have got a good impression whether a class is worth buying or not from this.  If you haven't been on Craftsy much before, there is a lot of free stuff via their community pages- either Indie designers offering free patterns or blog posts with patterns, techniques and more.

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Sunday, 3 August 2014

Alder Shirt Dress View B Grainline Patterns: Review

I made the Alder shirt dress (view B) a few weeks ago and it has already been washed and worn many times which gives you an idea of the success level of this pattern!  This is a very picture heavy post- I know I always like to see a pattern made up in lots of detail.  Thankyou to my daughter as usual for the photos and taking my directions- it was a very bright morning hence the averted gaze...

This is my first Grainline pattern. I love Jen's style and the clean look of her designs but this is the first pattern that I thought suit me.  I bought the PDF version. There are paper versions being printed but to be honest, by the time they reach the UK summer will be over and I know I will be tracing a pattern either way and I feel the PDF gives me more options and is cheaper!  Jen is a professionally trained pattern maker.  She studied pattern making (via an initial photography detour, listen to this Modern Sewciety podcast for more info!) and she worked in a wedding dress studio making patterns and dresses before going fully independent as Grainline.  All this adds up to a professional and skilled designer and sewist who knows what she's doing.  I haven't made the Archer pattern- I don't wear that  shirt style very often, but I have seen so many successful versions of that shirt, especially in Me Made May 2014, and I have referred to the sew along when adding collars and stands to shirts and dresses.  

Let's talk about the fabric. I used Robert Kaufman Dotted Chambray Union.  This has been a popular fabric amongst sewing bloggers and any links I checked in the UK were sold out. It is light, soft and floaty: an utter pleasure to wear on a hot summer's day, but a bitch to sew. The dots are warp threads woven into the fabric. Each dot is made up of four floating threads which continue floating on the reverse and come up to form the next dot.  This makes fabric snag very easily- hard in a house with a cat and a dog and my generally careless ways. I took a lot of care with it.  Working with it is a bit like working with shortcrust pastry: it didn't want to be over handled.

Some details: I made a test bodice. I have to make a test bodice with every pattern, the only exception has been the Wiksten Tova which fitted size S first time.  The bust dart came out very low and pointed downwards. I used other bodices that I have made with a similar dart to raise and very slightly narrow the dart.  The pattern is cut for a relatively small B cup in my estimation. I am an A cup. Initially I cut a size 4 pattern based on my bust measurement, 33".  I usually cut a smaller size for my top half and a larger size for my waist and hips and blend the two, but as this pattern is looser at the waist and hip I ended up cutting a size 2 throughout and taking the waist in by tiny ⅛" at each side. The waist is a little more fitted than the style probably intends but it works best for me. The waistline is in the perfect place for me.  The seam allowance on Grainline patterns is ½"by the way.  If you wanted a more fitted look the bodice could be taken in further at the side as the skirt section is gathered so is easy to adjust and make a little smaller.

The instructions are cleanly drawn and sufficiently detailed and for anything I felt I needed to check on I used the Archer sew along as the construction is the same.  The shaping is different: don't think that this is an Archer shirt with a gathered skirt, it is a lot more fitted and the armscye (fancy dressmaking speak for armhole) is cut for a sleeveless dress and fitted perfectly first time- no bra reveal, or weird underarm gapage.  The latter is very important for a woman over 40...

The original length of this dress is on the short side, too short for somebody who hates above knee hems with a vengeance. I used the size 18 hemlines and tweaked the side seams to match up the front and back.

It is an intermediate skills based pattern. The collar is very nicely constructed, especially the under collar which is cut on the bias and slightly smaller to make it roll under- great attention to detail. The Archer collar sew along post is a great reference.  

I used snaps over buttons, my usual shirt dress preference.

I did need to take a little care adding the pockets- apart from obviously needing to be very precise about placement- lopsided double pocket placement is going to look a little odd- you need to place the pocket allowing for the dart and the the curvature that will be going under it basically don't just pin the pocket on the bodice lying on a flat surface, I used a towel to create a little bust form under the fabric as I pinned.

The trickiest section is probably the inset seam where the gathered skirt meets the bodice.  
This is sewn with a similar technique to the Tova inset placket. As my fabric was delicate, I added a little light cotton fusible interfacing on the reverse and then reinforced the corners just inside the seam allowance (just like a Tova). It strengthens the fabric for carrying the weight of the skirt in that corner and for the snip that releases the seam.  Having done this for this version I would repeat it even with a stronger fabric.

I added side seam pockets- this style was practically begging for them.  I used the pockets from the Darling Ranges dress.  There is a seam notch on the Alder pattern that works as a natural marker for pocket placement.  I used Liberty lawn for the pocket facing.  I try hard not to make the pocket close-ups look like lady parts but its hard not to think it, especially when I have put the idea in your head...

I used the same fat quarter of Liberty to make bias binding for the armholes and I also added it at the hem.

I seriously love this dress.  There is an everyday wearibilty about the style that works perfectly for me.  It is fitted enough for me not to feel frumpy but loose enough to work in and travel in hot weather carrying bags and wheeling suitcases.  It is my go-to travel dress.  The sew along which includes some style variations starts this Wednesday.  I am planning to make a turquoise green Betsy Liberty lawn version for this summer using an ebay yardage bargain and also contemplating a darker maxi version in this as an Autumn transitional dress that I could slip a skinny jersey top underneath. I can also imagine some gentle tweaking to make a fitted shirt- I might end up buying the Archer so I can combine the two in a well fitting shirt. Happy days x

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