"" the girl who makes things: November 2013

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A useful tip for easing sleeves

Evening folks! This is gonna be a pretty short and sweet post. I just wanted to share a really nifty technique I learnt at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show with the wonderful Sew Fundamental. It's all about easing sleeves.

Now, I don't know about you, but I've always used the old double line of stitching technique for sleeves, I believe it's a standard method used across dress making. You pull the threads, gather the edges and ease it into the sleeve opening. Right?

Well, depending on the kind of fabric you use there IS an easier and quicker way of doing this. Let me take you through it.

This only really works on anything light weight with a bit of stiffness to it. Set your sewing machine to a long stitch length (something like 4 will do). Mark your sleeve edge as you normally would and then get your sleeve ready to stitch along the edge.

This is my new little red sewing machine - isn't it cute?
Place your right hand index finger firmly behind the presser foot, don't even dare move it! Stitch along the curve of the sleeve, about 1.5cm away from the edge until you reach the other marking. The excess fabric should gather up between the presser foot and your index finger.

Now take your finger away and release the fabric, snipping the threads. The sleeve head should appear to have a concertina edge, ready for you to pin to the sleeve opening - magic!

I'm yet to use this technique in an actual project, but the next time I have to ease a sleeve I will definitely be trying this. So, how about you, have you heard of this method before?

Sunday, 24 November 2013

More about the coat... and some better photos

Hello blog world, I hope you've had a good week! Mine's been pretty excellent. Yesterday I went to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show and got all inspired by the exhibitors. I was lucky enough to join a workshop called 'Fine Tune Your Dressmaking' and learnt some ridiculously useful techniques, such as an easy way to insert sleeves and how to make bound button holes. I think I'm going to have to dedicate a blog post to it. I also bought a shiny new red sewing machine and some vintage patterns and fabric. I've got so many projects in mind, I feel like my brains are boiling over. I wish I could just slip into a parallel universe for a bit and do everything I want to do without having to go to work.

This was the first week of wearing my new coat too. I said that I'd write a bit more about how I made and designed the coat, so this is a whole post dedicated to the topic - strap yourselves in!

I'd been thinking for a while about making a coat, but didn't really have a firm idea in my head about what I wanted. I always think it's a good idea, before you start sewing to actually try on some RTW pieces, especially when it comes to making a staple item of clothing. So many times I've thought 'Oo, that pattern looks good, I'll make that!' and then I've made it and it doesn't suit me. It's even more heartbreaking than buying something RTW because you've put all that effort in. So yes, trying coats on was crucial.

From trying on coats I got a really good idea of what I felt comfortable in. I discovered that, I don't like tailored coats. I like the boxy, sixties style coats - mid thigh length with a cute, round collar. Never realised that before! So a Pinterest board started. I looked at colours, shapes and styles. A couple of designs called out to me, but I particular liked the colour blocking for this coat, so I knew it was something I'd have to incorporate:

Next, I was on to pattern hunting. Yet another Pinterest board happened. I short listed a couple of patterns, the following made the grade:

B7020Pink coat

I loved Burda Style 7072 so much, but Burda Young 7020 just pipped it. I bought the pattern from this amazing shop in Bradford called Bombay Stores. If you're ever in the North of England, GO. It's eye bogglingly beautiful.

I toyed with the idea of buying pink coating fabric, it's very Autumn/Winter 2013 trendy, but I don't wear pink. Especially baby pink. Classic colours work for me. Boring but true. I bought navy blue and camel coloured coating from the wonderful B&M fabrics in Leeds Market.

Construction time! I made a toile, I think this was definitely essential as I identified few fitting problems - mainly that the arm holes were too small. I made these alterations to the pattern and then I was good to go.

Then I committed the cardinal sin of slicing up my pattern pieces. Yep, I cut off the bottom half of the outer layers. There's two versions of this pattern - a short one and a long one. I cut along the line for the short one and used this for the navy blue fabric. The bottom pattern piece I cut out in camel. Then I stitched the pieces together so they were whole again.

Assemblage was ok. The collar was the tricky part, but I actually found this tutorial by Four Square walls quite useful, even though it's not about coats. Squeezing in all that thick coating fabric was a challenge though.

I decided on square patch pockets instead of invisible because I love them. The plan wasn't to have the pockets overlap the navy and the camel coating fabric, but I actually quite like it as a design feature. As one of my friends pointed out, it breaks the colour block up.

The lining fabric is silky smooth leopard print. Again this wasn't planned, I just walked in to the shop, couldn't find what I was looking for, saw it and thought 'that'll do' and used it. Now it's one of my favorite things about the coat.

So pattern review, what was good and what was bad:

The pattern pieces were pretty good. There were separate pieces for the lining and there were lots of markings to tell you where which bit needed to go. Everything came together nicely.

The instructions were TERRIBLE. There wasn't even a size table on the envelope so I had to look up my measurements on the Burda website. For such a complicated construction there was hardly any guidance and I had to look up quite a lot online. For example I had no idea what to do with collar.

Overall though I'm happy with the design and so proud of my achievement. I might even make another coat!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Colour block coat

Oh it's been a while since I've posted anything, but this is for good reason - I've been making my first ever winter coat, and here it is!

I am ecstatic about this make for a few reasons. The main reason is that coats and jackets are possibly my favourite items of clothing. Every winter I seem to buy a new coat, even though I don't need one and that's not counting the number of jackets I seem to collect. This year I decided to make my own coat for a change. I did have to put a restraining order on myself not to buy a coat as well though.

So down to business, what did I use? Well, the pattern is Burda Young 7020 and the fabric is navy blue and camel wool coating. As you can see, I made a couple of alterations to the pattern - colour block band around the bottom and patch pockets instead of invisible.

The lining is leopard print sateen. Originally I wanted navy blue lining with white polka dots, but my choice was limited when I looked in the fabric shop. I thought about going for a plain coloured lining, but then I saw this fabric and it just seemed to fit. Everyone loves a bit of Bet Lynch don't they?

I have to say, this was one of the most technically challenging projects I've done. Fitting, lining, working with coating fabric all took me a bit longer than usual, but I'm so glad I managed to finish this.

I'll write a bit more about how I designed the coat in my next blog post, and maybe take some better photos when the light's good. I know, I know, I'm doing things in reverse, but I was just so excited to get this coat out there!

So how about you? Have you made a winter coat this year?