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Monday, 30 June 2014

Monday market marvels

well fabric goodies anyway.

On the local Monday market a chap comes up from Loughbrough with some really nice fabric and today I got these lovely knits.

Having sewn all those cushions from the flag print, I couldn't resist the chance to make myself a matching Tshirt to wear with jeans, though the print goes diagonally across the fabric which is an interesting look
And little scraps can be used with plain red or blue for some funky mix-it tees.
I got 2m of the flag print.

Next up my absolute favourite, this luscious animal print viscose jersey... doesn't it just make you want to purrrrrrr
I bought 3m of the animal print, would it be too much in a knot front dress or would my boyfriend just be very happy to take me out?

And then finally I got sensible, and bought this plain black cotton knit with some stretch which I thought would be great for lounging pants, especially since I just donated my drawstring track pants as they hit me across the middle of my tummy in an unflattering and uncomfortable place.
I bought what was left on the roll which was about 2.5m, maybe more and might try some trousers (pants) and the vogue skirt I did in the SWAP.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Blue velvet tree cushion

We had a lovely trip away to see family and friends in various parts of the South West (Somerset, Devon and Cornwall). A particular treat was spending time with my Auntie and Uncle. My Auntie has a lovely sewing room and has made some absolutely amazing quilts. She also showed me lots of old family photos and talked a little about her mother (my late grandmother) a keen dressmaker, adding colour in her descriptions of the black and white photos. It was an absolute joy and delight.

Since I came back I have made another 4 more of the flag cushions, which I won't do a photo of as they look pretty much like the first four. A friend sold lots of my cushions and bags at her school fair and made some money for the school which was wonderful, so I have an excuse now to sew some more things and fill my craft show storage bags ready for their Christmas fair.

However the latest make might be hard to part with, this is a 20" square cushion with a Sanderson vintage linen front, and an equally vintage blue velvet back. I trimmed the linen panel to remove the holes where it was in the sample book, and also centre the pattern on the cushion. I then made an insert to fit, and filled it with foam crumbs. Foam crumbs are really messy, so in the end I left the whole of one side open in the inner, carefully inserted the plastic bag of crumbs into the inner, removed the bag, shook it down and pinned and stitched the opening closed. Trying to feed the crumbs in through a handsized hole would have taken ages and made a mess of the sewing room.

The contrast in textures between the high quality upholstery linen front and the wonderfully soft velvet back is quite delightful.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

And then there were more

And then there were more....
of those addictive Union Jack cushions,
these four have inserts as well, but I'm not quite ready for these to go just yet.

The fabric is printed with panels, so each cushion is one panel. It sort of limits what you can do with them and they work really well as cushions like this. However there are only so many cushions like this that I need. Hopefully they'll sell well.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Union Flag Cushion Cover

This latest one is just the cushion cover, as it is a gift for a former colleague heading back home after a year in the UK, with limited suitcase space.
He can add stuffing when he gets it home. Hope it reminds him of good times in the UK.
I've used a preprinted panel cut from yardage and a matching plain blue for the back. Its about 12" high and 18" wide.

Dress Alterations

I took a lovely RTW dress which had a very shallow boat neckline which was uncomfortable on me and altered it to be a modest V, still high enough to showcase my favourite bold necklaces, but now not uncomfortable across my throat.

steps for this alteration:-
Put the dress on and roughly mark the new desired neckline, then unpick the stay stitching on the lining, turn inside out and press the neckline seam flat.(I must say that even in good light unpicking the stay stitching was very difficult and took me ages).
Next measure the markings you made earlier and adjust if required, add tailors tacks.
Add strips of interfacing to stabilise the new neckline.
Stitch and trim. Apply Fray Stoppa to the notch.
Turn through press and topstitch (as it is a completed fully lined garment you can't understitch without taking the garment apart).
I then also added a godet to the back lining and centre back skirt to allow walking room.
And you have a much more wearable dress. It did take several hours though, so shows why I put off doing such things. At least I will actually wear it now, which is the main thing.

When trying on garments in the changing room, try sitting down in, especially in trousers because you may find your weight shifts a bit. Also pop out of your little cubicle and stride up and down a bit. Then pop back in and reach for something on a pretend high shelf. If the garment still works in these situations as well as when standing looking in the mirror, you are good!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Update: mending and alterations

Not a lot of interesting things to post I'm afraid, as I stopped making the cushions and bags and decided to catch up with 'the rail' in the sewing room.

'The rail' is an Ikea MULIG clothes rack in white which I have in the sewing room.
On here I hang any garment which needs my attention in someway, separated by cardboard spacers.
The categories are ironing, repairs, alterations and then one at the back which is for orphans, things I am wondering if I should keep and the 'other halves' to things earlier in the rack.
I decided to see what I could do to tackle the rail, and so started off by doing all the ironing over several sessions. This one keeps coming back of course, because I then happily wore a week of tailored shirts which needed ironing again. I did enjoy them with my work suits though so it is worth it, and having nixed the backlog is now managable.

I then did a couple of RTW repairs, one to sew up a little gap at the bottom of an invisible zip, and the other to repair an inseam pocket in a zip front tweed jacket. I also let out the legs slightly in some RTW trousers, and moved the buttons on a jacket. These are all now back in the wardrobe so a great win there but are too boring to take a photo. I still have a couple more repairs to do, but they need other colours of thread, so I decided to do a couple of alterations which needed black thread used for the other things.

I have a lovely purchased suit. It is classic black and has jacket, trousers, skirt and dress. In the changing room they were fabulous and I was a very happy bunny. In reality I can't actually walk in the lovely tapered skirt, and the dress front neckline chokes me.

So.... I decided to add a godet to the back of the skirt, this maintains the lovely tapered shape (which is exceedingly flattering I have to say) but allows a girl to actually walk about without mincing. I also added a godet section to the lining, so I wouldn't get any issues with it being see through.
Having experimented a bit I will share that a godet needs to have straight sides, but a curved hem. Which perhaps is obvious if I'd thought about it, but you live and learn.
I'm going to do the same to the dress next, plus alter the boat neck into a V so its more comfortable. This may take a while so don't hold your breath too much for the next post.

There is quite a lot of stuff on 'the rail' so it might be a while until I sew anything new from scratch. Sometimes though you just have to deal with those annoying sewing jobs, and I seem to be in that zone, so might as well make use of it.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

How to improve your finished garments

Things I have found which make my garments look better are many, and I am always working on them, some of them are:-

- sheer years of sewing, you get better the more you do it

- pressing, press often whilst sewing to get a better finish

- appropriate fabric for the pattern, snoop shop higher end RTW and feel the fabrics, see how they drape, then do the same for your own projects. Also checkout sewing techniques in RTW and see what you can do to replicate them at home to have a more professional finish.

- fitting, worked out a few alterations which make my clothes just fit better. Tbh I have found this a pianful and frustrating journey, but I am doing better these days, but it has taken me years. I do have multiple fitting challenges though so others may not have the same issues as me. If you don't want to go there, choose things to sew where the fit is less demanding.

- colouring and personal style. work a bit on what flatters your colouring, body shape and works for your lefstyle. That way the things you make will look better on you and get worn in the life you actually have.

- practice on scraps on non clothing projects. Its boring but its better to practice a buttonhole on a mocked up placket made from scraps, and sort out the tension issues, how to use the attachment etc rather than have to unpick buttonholes from a tricky fabric. I also use the scraps to test tension on sewing machine and overlocker after rethreading etc. You can throw them out once the project is complete. Or make fabric bags and try pockets, closures etc on them to get the finish looking good.

- read up and prepare. Build up a library of sewing books and favourite online links which show a technique. Use these instead of the outdated approaches often given in sewing pattern instructions.

- its OK to have wadders and give things away. Its only clothing and there is no shame in chucking a project out or giving the result away. It may fit someone else better.

What other things do you think help improve the look and finish of garments you sew yourself?