Thursday, June 22, 2017

Knitted Crazy Stripes Tee

OK I actually finished this piece a while ago but I never got around to photographing it, but there is no way I was going to leave this piece off my blog - I am so so so so so happy with the way this piece turned out.

Last time I was back in Australia My mother-in-law went though her stash of half used balls of wool from Bendigo Woolen Mills and told me to take anything I like.  Well of course, being me, I wanted all of it.  I tried to restrain myself a little bit and only took about 6 balls, among them were three balls of 4 ply wool in purple, lavender and white.  There were then a couple of 8 ply balls in aqua, red and blue.

I knew exactly what I wanted to make with the 4 ply wool - the Crazy Stripes Tee by Atelier Alfa.

I wasn't entirely sure what size to use - my measurements put me anywhere between a size M and an XL - and that only thing that I didn't like about this pattern is they don't provide any finished measurements for the shoulders - that is usually my go to measurement for figuring out what size to start with.  In the end I decided to go with a size Medium. The shirt is just a bit to big across the shoulders but fits perfectly everywhere else.

This shirt is knitted using many short rows.  I utilised many different methods for turning short rows throughout the shirt, but I never did manage to find a method that worked without a visible glitch.  I don't know how noticeable it really is, but I'm not going to worry about it - it is what it is.

Apart from short rows there wasn't really anything difficult about this pattern - it went together beautifully.  The colours used for each stripe were fairly randomly picked.  I used the darker purple as the dominant colour and then just added in the lavender and white as I felt like it.  Every now and then I added a row of the 8 ply aqua colour just to provide a real pop.  I tried to keep these rows pretty infrequent though as I didn't want the larger 8 ply to affect the gauge too much.

I did change the pattern slightly when it came to the sleeves,  The pattern calls for 3/4 length sleeves, but I have no use for those - if its cold enough to want to put on a wool shirt then I need full length sleeves.  After browsing through the many other photos of this top made by other people I really liked the way the top looked when you extend the stripe pattern into the sleeve, so that's what I did.

The only other minor change I made was to the neck band, cuffs and bottom band.  The pattern called for only 4 rows ribbing and 2 rows stockingette, but as my neckline was quite wide I chose to make a wider neck band and did 6 rows ribbing and 3 rows stockinette.  I used this same band on the cuffs and bottom as well.

Overally I love this top.  The wool is a little on the scratchy side so I do have to wear a long sleeve shirt under it, but I love everything else about it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


After all my work on my pants pattern lately I figured it was about time I made myself a new pair of Jeans.

When I was last at the fabric store they had a couple of pieces of denim on their discount tables, both stretch denims in two different shades of dark, dark blue.  Perfect.  Just what I had been looking for.  I couldn't figure out which colour I liked better so, at $1.99/yard I figured it wouldn't hurt to buy both pieces, and that's what I did.

With every pair of pants I've made to date I've noticed one big issue.  I hot wash and dry all of my material before I start working with it, but every time I've made pants, after a couple of washes  the legs end up too short. Obviously my material is still shrinking in the wash.  So this time I washed and dried my fabric three times before I  cut it out.  Hopefully that will be enough.  I decided to start with the darker coloured denim first and ran that through the wash numerous times.

As far as patterns go I started with the pattern I used for my teal cords and black wool pants and then started playing around with it to make it into a jeans pattern.

The first thing I did was to remove the seam down the front of the pants.  I kept the back seam for shaping, but decided the front seam was unnecessary.  I then played around with the rises, both front and back.  I lowered the rise at the front by about 1.25", tapering out to nothing at the side seams, then raised the rise at the back by about the same amount, again tapering out to the side seams.

Once I was happy with that I went ahead and cut 2.5" off the top to create the waistband.  The piece that I cut off I kept and used to make the waistband pattern piece, just adding seam allowance at top and bottom.  In the back I taped the two waistband pattern pieces together to create a curved back waistband piece.

Then I headed to the drawing board to decide on the detailing for the jeans.  I looked at a number of different yoke styles and ended up deciding on an upward curving yoke , which allowed room for my back pockets to stay in the area that I like them.

I sketched the yoke onto my back pattern pieces and then cut them off.  I then taped the two pieces together to create a single yoke pattern  piece that just needs seam allowance added at top and bottom.

I cut out a pattern piece the size of the back patch pocket I wanted, and then drew some  curves onto it mimicking the curves in the yoke, and cut the pattern piece along these curves, so the pocket is made up of three separate pieces, each top stitched for decoration.

In the front I played around with a couple of different options for the front pockets and in the end decided on adding yoke pieces under the pockets,  that can again be top stitched for decoration.  After sketching the curves I wanted for the pocket and yoke onto my pattern pieces I again cut the pattern along these lines and used the cut out for my yoke pattern pieces just needing seam allowances on top and bottom.

Finally I just retraced the top of my front pattern pieces and cut them down to create front pocket pattern pieces and I was ready to cut into my fabric.  I had 2 yards of fabric and I think I used just about all of it.

Since the other pants that I've made out of this pattern have been made from non stretch woven material I knew that there would be a few alterations needed to get it to fit nicely in my stretch denim so I just basted my basic pattern pieces together to start with.  The original pattern was made with 1/2" seam allowances.  To account for the stretch I started by sewing all seams at 5/8".  The pants were still a little baggy so I then took them in another 1/4" at the top of the side seams and down through the hips,tapering to about 1.5" at the knee.  and then I brought in the front seam by 1/4'".  On the inseam I took an extra 3/8" off at the inseam tapering to about 1" at the knee.  From the knee down I tapered both the outside seam and the inner seam back out to about 5/8" in from the original seam line.

Once i had the fit to how I wanted it, I trimmed all the seam allowances back to 5/8" then started sewing it up properly.

I originally planned to top stitch these in red, but decided that i wasn't feeling it.  I found a beautiful teal thread in my stash and decided to use that instead.  I then pulled out my metallic silver thread and decided I wanted to add that in as well.

I started sewing on the back of the pants, sewing the seam down the back of each leg.  I flat felled each seam and top stitched them with two rows of the teal thread.  I then stitched the two back pieces together down the back rise, again flat felling and top stitching.

The yoke was sewed on - again flat felled and top stitched, however this time with two rows of teal with a row of the silver metallic thread in between.

The three sections of the back pockets were sewn together, each seam top stitched with one row of teal and one row of metallic silver stitching.  The top of the denim was tuned over to create a facing for the inside of the pocket and they were then finished  off with a piece of contrasting cotton fabric to enclose all the seams.  The pockets were then stitched into place on the back of the pants using two rows of teal stitching.

I then moved on to the front of the pants.  The front yokes were stitched in place and then top stitched  with one row of metallic silver and one row of teal stitching.

The pocket bags were made out of a contrasting cotton fabric with a small section of the denim material stitched into place over the corner where the pocket is visible from the front.  The pocket bags extend into the front fly.

For the front fly I used a metallic zipper that I salvaged from an old pair of jeans and installed it using my basic front fly method.  Making sure the all edges were finished including the pocket bags.  The fly facing is made using the contrasting cotton fabric interlined with a piece of the denim to add stiffness.  All stitching for the front fly was done using the teal thread only.

The front and back sections were then sewn together along the inseam and the seam flat felled and top stitched with two rows of teal stitching and finally the side seams were sewn up and serged to finish them.  They were top stitched from the waistband down to the end of the pocket bag using the teal thread.

The waistband is two layers of denim one of which is interfaced using a medium weight iron on interfacing.   The waist band is top stitched top and bottom with one row of teal and one row of silver thread and the waistband closes using 4 plastic snaps.  I didn't add any belt loops as I never wear belts and I used the snaps rather than a button as I hate buttons.

I wanted to keep as much length as possible so I serged the lower edge of the pants, turned them up 1/4" and stitched them with a single row of teal stitching.

I love these jeans so much, they are very comfortable thanks to the stretch in the fabric, I love all the style lines and top stitching.  However one minor problem is the waist band tends to stretch out quite a bit and they have a tendency to fall down.  If I can be bothered at some stage I'll open up the waistband and add some elastic into the back to keep them in place - either that or I'll have to add a few belt loops after all.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Teal Leather Handbag

Quite some time ago I found a piece of teal kid leather at Sewfisticaed - it was a beautiful colour and so soft and lovely I knew I had to have it.

I knew that I wanted to make it into a new bag - all my bags are getting a bit old and I desperately needed a new one but I never managed to get around to making it up.

Then the Pattern Review website announced that it was doing a handbag contest so I figured that this would be the time to get going on this project. 

Handbag Contest

I figured that an all teal leather bag might be a bit too much even for me, so I headed back to the fabric store looking for some contrasting fabrics.  I found a nice grey suede that I figured would work great on the bottom of the bag - I wanted something a bit sturdier than the kid leather on the bottom.  I then found a couple of different cottons that would be a good match  - in the end I used the cotton with a zig zag print in striped of teal, green, grey, black and white.

The next step was to design the bag.  I wanted the bag to be small enough to use everyday, but large enough to fit my wallet, phone, keys, a water bottle and occasionally a book.  I decided on 28cm wide x 30cm high x 9cm deep.

It ended up being a bit bigger than I had anticipated, but that's not a problem. 

I  wanted a rounded top on the bag and sketched out the basic shape.  To continue the curve theme I added a curved seam where the grey bottom attaches to the teal leather, and then added pockets to the front and back of the bag also using a curved shape.

Then I had to figure out how to put it all together.  I created the basic pattern pieces and started cutting my material.  From the grey suede I cut a rectangle for the bottom, two rectangles with curved upper edges for front and back, and two smaller rectangles for the sides. 

I cut two curved teal leather pieces for the front and back and two rectangles for the sides. From the 
 zip zag cotton material I cut two full front and back pieces and a rectangle for the top piece.

To create the front and back pockets I then cut second pieces of the curved front/back pieces to face the teal leather.  

Then I had to think about what to line it with.  I had bought another piece of cotton that I thought I could use as a lining, but I decided that I was a bit to heavy weight and so rummaged through my stash and came up with a matching teal linen.  I cut the back, bottom and front from one piece and then two side pieces and a top piece.

Before I started putting everything together I decided to do a bit of embellishment on the teal leather.  A while ago I made a bag out of cream leather and teal vinyl, cutting out the leather to show the vinyl underneath.  I found the cut outs that had come out of that bag and decided that they would look really nice on the teal leather.   These cut outs were first glued in place and the hand stitched along the edges with a running stitch and two strands of teal thread.

Next up was procuring hardware.  For this I headed to the local Savers where I found two handbags that I thought could give me some of the hardware I needed.  From the first bag I salvaged 2 D-rings to attach the straps, 2 grey zippers - one for the top and one for the back pocket.  A zipper pull for the top zipper, a magnetic snap for the front pocket and the two leather handles that I joined to make one long handle.  

Once  I had everything it was time to start putting it together.  I started with the front and back pockets.  The first pocket was easy.  First I interfaced the zig zag cotton front pocket piece and then sewed it to the the teal leather along the top curved edge and then top stitched along that edge.  I installed one half of the magnetic snap onto the cotton (I almost ruined it here by thinking that I needed to install the snap in the teal leather.  I did cut a small hole before I realised what I was doing but a piece of interfacing ironed onto the back and you can't really see the cut anymore).  The backing piece of cotton was then interfaced and the other side of the magnetic snap installed and I basted all layers together around the outside.

The back pocket was a little harder as I wanted a zipper in this one.  I used the same basic procedure to put the pocket together, but installed one of the grey zippers about 1" below the bottom of the curve. I also made a lining for this pocket out of the teal linen so I could fully enclose the zipper.

I cut the top piece of the bag down the middle to insert the zipper into the main bag. The bag.  

Inside the bag is another small zipper pouch and two other pouches.  

This whole panel was salvaged from the second bag I bought at Savers and jut top stitched onto the linen lining of the bag.

All of the outside pieces of the bags were interfaced with a medium weight interfacing. I found at the end that I should have used a heavier interfacing for the zip zag cotton pieces as the top of the bag struggles to hold it's shape.

To attach the straps to the bag I stitched the D rings onto the side panels of the bag using scraps of the teal leather and then I bought some metal hardware to attach the  existing grey leather straps to the D ring.

I sewed the two straps together at the top using another piece of the grey leather salvaged from one of the other bags to hide the join. 

The straps could have been a bit longer, however I'm happy with the way this turned out.  I've been using the bag every day for the last couple of weeks now and i'm very happy with it.

Monday, May 8, 2017

2 pairs of Flared Pants

 I came to the realisation the other day that I have very few (read none) good fitting  pants in my wardrobe anymore.  Time to do something about that.  I went into to my fabric stash and found a piece of corduroy that I bought some time ago.  This corduroy is a great colour.  A sort of turquoise/aqua colour but darker.  I've been meaning to make this into a pair of pants for ages.

I pulled out my old pants pattern, cut it out of the cord fabric (with an extra 1" on each side seam to allow for any growth in girth), basted it together and tried it felt terrible, the back rise felt way too small, the legs don't seem to sit right, the whole thing seems to creep down my back if I sit down or walk upstairs. Now I'm not sure what's going on here - I used this pattern for my brown cords and I still love the way these feel on so I'm not sure what the problem is?

So I decided to go back to the drawing board.

I pulled out my pattern pieces and re-traced it onto a new piece of paper.  I then went through my pattern stash and pulled out every pant pattern I could find and then - lining them up at the natural waist marks - I traced each pattern piece over my pattern to see how they differed.

The main difference I found was the angle of the back crotch seam.  Mine was angled out a lot further than all of the other patterns.

Whilst I was doing all this investigation I found in my possession a copy of McCalls 9517.

I never realised this before, but view A of this pattern has a seam down the back of the leg.  Now this is one place that I really struggle to fit with pants so I decided that I would make up this pair of pants and see if I could use the seam to get my pants to fit better.  Luckily the copy of this pattern that I have is for a 40" hip.  I have a 42" hip, but based on a comparison of this pattern and my pants pattern I decided that it would be close enough (I've noticed that these old patterns always have a lot of ease in them) and traced out the pattern.

The only changes that I made were:

  • cut 4" off the length of the legs,
  • since I was planning on putting a waistband on I cut 2" off the top of the pattern pieces
  • I split the front pattern piece down the middle to create a seam down the front to match the seam down the back.

Now the problem was that I had already cut out my fabric in my original pants pattern.  I had enough left to cut out new back pieces, but not the front pieces.  So I took my previously cut pattern pieces, pulled out all the stitching and was able to just get the 4 front pieces out of the 4 original pieces of my pants.

I basted the pants together and was pretty impressed with the fit.  I still needed to do a few tweaks though:

  • The first thing I noticed was that the rise was still way too high - with the 2"cut off the top it fitted as it was supposed to by the pattern picture so I decided to just go with it and make a faced finish rather than a waistband. 
  • The pants fitted fairly nicely around the hips but were a bit too big across the front, so I took in each front seam about 3/8" the entire way down.
  • The pants were still a little baggy around the thighs so I shaped both the side seams and the back seams so that they fit snuggly through the thigh and then flared out.  The flare is probably a bit more than I would normally have chosen but I decided to go with it anyway.  
  • I scooped out the crotch curve at the bottom so that it is almost a right angle now.
  • 4" was obviously a bit too much to take off the bottom of the leg, these barely skim the ground un-hemmed so I added about 2" back onto the length of the pants.

I transferred all the changes (except the length) to my new pattern pieces before going ahead and sewing the pants up.

I pretty much went my own way from here rather than following the pattern for finishing.  I added a zip fly to the front (which took me ages to figure out for some reason - I must have spent close to 3 or 4 hours trying to get that fly in).

Unfortunately after wearing the pants for about 2 days the stupid zipper broke - I haven't gotten around to fixing it yet so for the time being I've just sewed the fly closed - I can still get them on and off with a little wriggling.  One day I'll get around to fixing them properly, but until then....

I added back patch pockets with just a simple top stitched design.

And front slash pockets that extend into the fly.   I finished the top of the pants with an interfaced facing piece that is top stitched down around the back but not the front. (It would have interfered with the pockets otherwise).

To deal with the length issue I cut two strips out of my leftover fabric and created a band around the bottom of each leg.

They're still a smidge short, but that was all the fabric I had.

Overall I love the way these turned out,  As I said before they're probably a bit too flared, but hey, everyone needs a bit of flare in their life!

Looking at these pictures I think the front of the leg is a bit too tight - hence the creases - and the corduroy has a real nap which shows up creases really badly, but on the positive side I love the way the back of these pants look.

Once I knew that this pattern worked I got started on my second pair of pants.  I got a job interview and realised that I have no pants that are nice enough to wear so wanted to make a good pair of pants.  I trawled through my stash but I had no material with the yardage I needed so I  took a trip up to my favourite discount fabric store and picked out a beautiful wool material.  Its black with just a hint of a chevron pattern and very faint blue stripes.  I knew this material would need lining so I picked up a beautiful piece of rayon as well that is patterned in blues and butterflies.

I used my new pants pattern and made up the pants in the wool material, this time with just a simple lapped zip and really basic slash pockets at the front.

And then again as a lining in the rayon.  I joined the two pairs of pants together around the waistband and then added a piece of elastic onto the seam allowance as the pants were quite heavy fully lined and I didn't want them falling down.

These pants came together quite easily and I really do love them. They feel so luxurious to wear.

Having worn both pairs of pants for about a month now there are a couple of extra modifications that I think need to be made:

  •  I think I still need to do some tweaking with the front crotch curve as the front doesn't quite sit as I would like.
  • I would like an extra just 1/2"-1"  rise  right at the back seam - it seems to dip just a smidge. 
  • I need about 1" less rise at the front - the rise at the moment is good whilst standing, but when I sit they tend to roll down about 1" so I think eliminating this inch would be a good thing.
Just to round everything out - you may have noticed that the shirt I'm wearing is the same as my lining material for  the black pants - I used my leftovers to create this simple little top.  I used my basic pattern for a top with a seam right under the bust - this allows me to put in two simple bust darts and creates a nice form fitting top.  Unfortunately I forgot that that pattern was drafted for knit fabrics so it ended up way too small.  I managed to salvage it by adding in an 1.25" wide piece under each arm.  Its not perfect but it works.  The front and back V necks are finished with a simple facing and the arm holes are just turned and stitched. I've found myself reaching for this top many times in the last couple of weeks since I made it.