Thursday, February 15, 2018

Precious Stash Fabric Sewing - Part 1. Purple Velvet

Back in September 2015 I found an absolutely beautiful piece of fabric at my local fabric store.

A purple satin velvet overlayed with an iridescent floral/ paisley pattern in metallic.  I did some research at the time and found out that it is a Manuel Canovas fabric and is supposedly a home decor fabric but since when has that stopped me using it for clothes.  I originally planned to make it into either a beautiful dress, or a coat, but instead it languished in my stash for 2.5 years because I was too afraid to cut into it.

This month I decided enough is enough and pulled it out.  I thought again about making it into a coat, but it's not quite the right weight so I shelved that idea.  Obviously a dress was the next option, but I just don't wear dresses in winter and it's not really a summer sort of fabric, so I decided in the end to make a two piece - top and skirt that could be worn together as a dress if an occasion should ever occur, or be worn separately.

I sketched out a number of ideas before deciding on a cropped wrap top and pleated skirt.

To make the top I started with the Pattern Review Clair wrap dress, that I had already fitted in a woven fabric when making my red plaid dress.  I omitted the collar, incorporated the yoke into the back pattern piece and incorporated the neckband into in the front piece.  With the sleeves I did a wide bicep adjustment, since they were a smidge too tight in the red plaid dress and flared out the cuff a small amount.

I cut the modified pattern out of a plain black fleece fabric first to make sure it worked, then once I was sure that I had the pattern correct went to work on the purple velvet.  This fabric was not that great to work with.  The different thicknesses between the metallic overlay and the velvet were quite noticeable and made it really difficult.

I used the black fleece to line the top bagging the whole top and hand stitching the sleeve edges together.  I also added a bit of elastic to the front neck edge to eliminate any gaping.  There is definitely some of the black fleece that shows along the neck edge, but I tried top stitching it so that it didn't roll out and it ended up looking terrible.

I only made one strap as I wasn't sure just how much material I had and wanted to make sure I could get the skirt made as well.

Next up was the skirt.  I decided this time to try out a Lekala pattern.  I've wanted to try one of these for quite some time and decided that now was the time.  I went with #S3047A Line Skirt with pleats in the front.

The front pattern pieces turned out to be a perfect fit - but I had to take 4cm off each side of the center back seam so I'm not sure what that was about!  It wasn't just ease because the side seams hit in the right place in front - all the extra was at the back.  I don't know if maybe there was supposed to be darts in the back, but the pattern didn't show anything (and it doesn't come with instructions).

I again made it up in fleece before committing to the real fabric, and used the fleece yoke to face the final skirt.  I did a lapped zipper in the center back seam and finished off the yoke and hem by hand.

The only other thing about the pattern was that I specified no seam allowance but it came with it anyway - that's not a problem, but they had a 1" hem allowance on the front of the skirt, but 3/8" hem allowance on the back of the skirt.

Looking at the photos I'm thinking that I might want to take the length of the skirt up a smidge.  I think it needs to be just a touch shorter.

The first time that I tried the two pieces on together my daughter asked me if it was a bathrobe or a dress, so I'm not sure about wearing the two pieces together anymore.

And I'm not sure how much wear I'll get out of the skirt - I can't remember the last time I wore a skirt..But having said that this skirt is definitely comfortable and I really like this style.

I'm hoping that the top will get worn a bit more though.  I've shown it here with my black pants, but I think teamed with jeans might even work better.      The fleece lining makes it quite comfortable.  Since it's quite cropped I have a feeling that I may spend the entire time wearing it tugging it down.  I'll have to see how it goes...I wonder how much I have left in scraps?  enough to make another tie?  that might help with the length issue/cover up any gaping.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Flannel Shirt

This post is a bit late, but better late than never.  (I apologise in advance for the terrible pictures, but its just too cold to go outside at the moment so washed out inside shots are all I've got!)

I started working on this shirt back in December of last year.  I used the pattern that I created to make this red plaid shirt.  And then modified to make my silk pajamas in November last year.

Once I was finished with my pajamas I decided that I wanted a basic flannel shirt - like the ones I used to wear as a kid (though those were generally tied around my waist rather than on my back).

I modified the pattern once again to include both a back and a front yoke but other wise kept everything else the same.

The material I used is a green flannel material that is a beautiful weight. It's nice and fuzzy and warm on the inside, but much more smooth on the outside so it doesn't look too pajama like.

I cut the yokes with the plaid on the bias.

I also added an inverted box pleat at center back for some extra ease.  I'm not sure that I really like this and would probably remove it next time I use the pattern.

My pattern matching through this project was OK, but not great,  the plaid pattern was totally off grain so I did the best I could,  with what I had.

I used white press studs instead of buttons down the front - they're just so much easier to both install and do up/undo.

I really didn't need that last stud though - I never do it up.

The bottom of the shirt is finished with a narrow hem and I did full cuffs and plackets on the sleeve - again with press studs.

This shirt is really nothing special but it really fills a gap in my wardrobe - its comfortable and warm and what more could you want. For some reason I do't like the neckline on this one - I don't know if it's the plaid placement or what, but it's not enough to stop me form wearing it!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Paprika Patterns - Jasper x2

 I have a very strong frugal streak within me and as such I have a really hard time buying sewing patterns.  Especially indie type patterns that cost that little bit more.  I'm never sure just how many changes I'm going to have to do to get the pattern to fit and whether on not I'm just going to waste my money and have to effectively redraft the pattern anyway so most of the time if I see a pattern I like I will simply draft it from scratch using my basic block instead.

This is the reason why - despite loving the Paprika Patterns Jasper Sweater from the minute I saw it - I was unsure about buying it.  This year I decided at the last minute to add it to my Christmas wish list and was lucky enough to be gifted it by my Mum and Dad.  I'm so glad because I love this sweater!

Thankfully I already had some appropriate material in my stash so I was able to get started on this right after Christmas.  I spent a couple of days trying to decide what size to use.  My basic measurements put me at a size 7 for bust and hip and size 10 waist so I printed off the size 1  to 7 pattern pieces and measured them to see how they would fit and decided that I could probably just get away with a straight size 7 in width.  However I knew I would have to do something about the upper chest/shoulder region.  I used my sloper pattern to compare that region and as per usual there was way too much length in the size 7 for my body.  I ended up cutting the pattern to a size 1 height but size 7 width in the front and scooped the neckline at the back down to a size 5 height. 

The only other modification I did was to the sleeve pattern.  I looked at how much I had taken off the armhole - 3cm - pretty much all off the front of the arm hole - and removed that from the sleeve - slashing the pattern down the center line and overlapping the front half of the pattern. 

I'm really happy with how this pattern turned out.  A few minor modifications and the fit is really good.

The material that I used for my first version was a plaid fleece in red, black and white.  I only had 2 yards and the pattern called for 2.3 yards if I wanted to do the hood.  I cut out the main body and sleeves first and then had to figure out if I had enough left over for the hood or if I was going to have to go back to the collar.  I decided that I could squish the hood on, but that didn't really leave any room for pattern matching.  Luckily I'm not overly picky about having everything aligned otherwise this sweater would kill me.  Ahh well lesson learned for next time.

The pattern calls for three buttons on the hood, but since one of the things that drew me to this pattern in the first place was the little epaulet on the collar I decided to add the epaulet to my hood instead.  I think it works quite well actually.  I pinned it in place for an afternoon (or two) to figure out exactly where I wanted it, and was going to sew it on/add a button later, but then suddenly it was New Years Eve and I wanted to wear this sweater out, so I grabbed an old broach I had lying around and used that to attach the epaulet (slightly nicer than the safety pin I had in there), and ended up loving the look so much I've left it there.

I love this sweater so much, but unfortunately the material is not holding up so well - it's pilling quite badly so I don't know how long it's going to last, but that's OK because I've already made another one.  I decided that since I loved this sweater so much I wanted a second one, also I wanted to try the collar out so I went shopping for some more fleece and found this beautiful blue plaid fleece.  

This fleece seems to be holding up a bit better than the red, must be slightly better quality.  I only bought 2 meters of this fabric but since I was making the collar rather than the hood there was more than enough to deal with pattern matching problem.  This time rather than trying to match anything I cut the collar, cuffs, hem band and pocket welts all on the bias. I like this much better.

And speaking of welts I really like the instructions for these welt pockets, I've never done a welt like this before but I really like the way it works.

This time rather than even thinking about a button for the collar epaulet I went straight to my jewelry box and found my other broach - this time a little silver cat- and used that.  

These two sweaters have become the workhorses of my wardrobe for the last month and are in constant rotation - I may just have to make a third one.  I'd like to try the hood again and cut the size of the hood down just a bit.  I like the red one, but it's a smidge too big.  

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Silk Pajamas

A couple of months ago my kids started Jujitsu lessons at a dojo at my local gym.  They go three times and week and I decided that since I had to go down to the gym three times a week to do drop off/pick up I may as well just do my workouts at that time.   The only problem is that I then come home and shower and then what? - what do I put on?

I've never been a big pajama wearer, but now I started thinking, you know what it might actually be nice to have a nice pair of pajamas.

And do you know what? it is really nice!

Whilst I do have a couple of commercial pajama patterns, none of them were exactly what I was looking for so, as per usual I ended up making my own patterns.

I started with the top.  I started working on this pattern back in January.  I used tissue fitting techniques with my then new dress form to create a basic pattern for a french seam darted top.  I used the pattern to make my red plaid shirt, but had to do a whole bunch of modifications to get the pattern to work with the fabric that I had chosen.  The pattern never got updated to reflect these changes, but I still had the original pattern pieces lying around so I thought I'd try and get them working properly.

There was some flannel material left over from my Axel Rose skirt in my stash so I decided to use that for my muslin. I cut out the front and back as per the original pattern and basted them together - they actually seemed to fit pretty well.  The only real issue was the dart size and placement.  Then I had to fit the sleeves.  I had a sleeve head pattern from last time but that was all.  I extended it full length and cut it out and it seemed to work quite well too.  bonus!  Only problem was I was running out of material.  I had to piece a whole bunch of little scraps together to get the two sleeves cut out.  So I grabbed some black flannel and finished the shirt with those.

I used the placket and cuff patterns pieces that I drafted when working on my Colette Rue dress to finish off the sleeves, and the front band, neck band and collar pieces from New Look 6704 extended as required to fit my new shirt.

It's not the best thing I've ever made (didn't bother with interfacing etc) but its wearable, and as a muslin it works perfectly.

Then onto the pants.  I pulled this beautiful navy knit fleece material out of my stash.  I cut out a basic pants pattern at the largest size and basted them together then spent a couple of nights wearing them, making tweaks here and there as I needed to get them as comfy as possible.

OK now I had my patterns it was time to get to work using real material.  But what material?  I didn't want them to be fleece or flannel, but I did want them to be warm.  I decided that if I was going to do this, I was going to do it properly.  I wanted silk!   I headed for the discount fabric shop, of course there was no silks that I loved there, but what I did find was a knit material labelled 100% silk that was patterned with flowers all over a blue background.  I'm not usually the floral type but figured pajamas I could get away with it.

Once I got my fabric home and washed I looked at it closely.  Turns out its actually a border print, so if I want the pattern to look the best I have to cut my patterns on the cross grain.  In one way this is good. My patterns were created for woven materials so they don't actually need stretch around.  I figured if I cut on the cross grain the garment would fit, it may just end up a bit longer then I expect.

I managed to get all my pattern pieces cut out of the 4 yards of fabric that I had which I was impressed with, though I did have to piece together the insides of the cuffs.

The next issue came when I started sewing.  I decided that I wanted my lovely silk pajamas to have french seams so that they are as nice on the inside as on the out.

The problem.  I only cut 1/2" seam allowances.  To get this to work I had to sew the seams wrong sides together at 1/8" then turn and stitch the seam at about 1/4".  Very precise sewing required.  To make it slightly easier I moved my needle as far to the right as possible so that I had as much fabric under the pressure foot as possible on the tiny little seams.

To account for the lengthwise stretch of the fabric I had to make a slight adjustment to the bust point, but otherwise everything came together very easily.

The cuffs are slightly narrower than the arms of the shirt so I used a gathering stitch to just slightly gather the sleeves into the cuffs.  I used some red piping along the edge of the cuffs and the inside of the cuff was turned up and hand stitched in place so there are no exposed seams.

I changed my mind about the collar about half way through and rather than the neck band and collar from New Look 6704 I used the single collar piece from the Claire Wrap dress.  I used the piping around the collar but not down the button band.

I found some beautiful glossy blue buttons when I bought my fabric, but decided at the end that I didn't want any gaping on my shirt so stitched the button bands together from just above the bust point down.  I did put two button holes in above the bust point, but the rest of the buttons are just for show.

The bottom of the shirt is  turned under twice at 1/4" and stitched and is curved up at the side seams.  Its also slightly longer int he back than in the front.

The pants are also french seamed where possible.

I used 2 rows of elastic in the waist band as I figured that would be the most comfortable. I added red piping around the bottom of the waistband and finished it off the top by turning both layers of fabric under twice and finishing with a zig zag stitch.

For the pants cuff I sewed red piping to both the top and bottom edge of the cuff and then the cuff was sewn to the bottom of the pants with the wrong side of the pants facing the right side of the cuff, the cuff is then turned to the outside and top stitched in place along the red piping.

All cuffs, button bands, collars etc were interfaced with iron on knit interfacing.

I love these pajamas.  So much so I've been reluctant to take them off since I finished them. I'm already planning another pair of silk pajamas for summer.