Ambling along

Hello there, how are you this fine spring evening?

I’ve had a bitty few days sewing, things have been getting done, but not that much to show for it yet. The boy and I are supposedly working on a joint project but I can’t do much on it until he gets his bit finished. Currently he’s about half done and stalled.

concentrating on a bit of embroidery

concentrating on a bit of embroidery

I did a bit of mending/adjusting/finishing yesterday. Including hemming my second attempt at the Day to Night Drape top and finishing the last bit of seam allowance on my Tova. (Left at the time as I was considering pockets.) Both are now with the same friend who got my first attempt at a Day to night Drape top, along with the dress she asked me to take up the hem on at the end of last summer (it was pinned and took approx 5 mins to my shame). I decided, after having the Tova on my “alter it in some magical way so I want to wear it pile” for about a year, just to give it to someone that’ll wear it. I’ve also given the copious amount of leftover fabric to another friend.

So today I started work on the Jalie 3132 top I got given in the Curvy Sewing Collective Christmas swap. I’m making the (shorter) hip lenth, with 3/4 length sleeves and v neck in some pink and grey stripey fabric from my Slightly Seasoned Pretties layer (bought back in November with a birthday dress for the girl in mind). If it turns out well I have a recently purchased something from my Pure Excitement Layer in mind to make a second one.

FBA done, just the bottom curve to smooth out

FBA done, just the bottom curve to smooth out

However, I got frustrated trying to get the stripes horizontal and have now started some modesty shorts for The Girl to go with the extremely short nightdresses someone gave her for her birthday (I’ve had longer tops).

Speaking of which, I might try and put a quick waistband on one in time for bedtime.

See you later, happy sewing!

Summer Fair Tops

A while ago I made my mum a Tova blouse for her birthday. I was so excited upon finishing it that I forgot to photograph it, so no blog post yet.

This is the second Tova I made, and like the first I was left with a lot of fabric left after cutting. Not just a few inches, we’re talking in the order of a metre left here (didn’t actually measure it, sorry).

So, I had a biggish piece of a beautiful soft cotton lawn left, in a floral print I would never wear (I am not a floral person). And my daughter has loads of clothes at the moment (and making something for her means having to make something for her brother).

Now my friend was expecting her fourth child, so I bought the lullaby layette pattern from Oliver and S. I thought the fabric would make a lovely shirt to help cover up a newborn in hot sunny weather.

By the time I got around to cutting it she was 2 months old, so I cut a size 3-6 months and I got a size 6-12 months out of the fabric too for the 9 month old who lives next door. I figured making 2 shirts at the same time was much less than twice the hassle of making one.

The instructions were (if you know anything of the reputation of Oliver and S) unsurprisingly very clear and easy to follow and gave a lovely finish to the garment. But I did have a little trouble of my own making. You see, I was wondering how to finish the seams (I don’t have an overlocker/serger) and it occurred to me that I had seen a tutorial on the Grainline website for French Seaming all the seams in a top – including the armholes. Now, a fiddly little baby top is perhaps not the best place to practice a new technique but as it came with a generous 1/2 inch seam allowance I decided to go for it as the idea of neat enclosed seams that would be itch free for delicate skin appealed.

So, front placket done and in place, back pleat done, shoulders french seamed, neck binding on, sides french seamed, sleeves french seamed, armhole gather stitches sewn all good. I’m ready to attach the sleeves to the blouse. Except they’re too big. Way too big.

armhole/sleeve sizing discrepency

armhole/sleeve sizing discrepency

Can you see the two pins marking the bottom of the armhole on the main blouse, and how that is nowhere near the bottom of the sleeve.

I was confused and unsure what to do next. Recut the sleeves? Gather them? Where had I gone wrong? I could end up with huge sleeves or too small ones or too tight armholes. I was sure the fault was mine.

I left my sewing for a week or more. When I came back to it I realised what my mistake had been. I had decided to sew my seams with a 1/4″ seam allowance, trim, turn and use a 1/4″ seam allowance to enclose the raw edges. But I had somehow forgotten that the 1/4″ seam allowance is marked by a line on my presser foot and instead decided that the edge of the presser foot is 1/4″, when in fact it’s 3/8″. So I’d used 3/8″ stitching line, making my finished french seams take 3/4″ seam allowance – which was 1/4″ more than intended. This made a big difference on such a small garment. After some more thinking I decided to gather the sleeve head between the notches (as a little gather more gather than intended wouldn’t hurt), and then trim a little bit out of the blouse, to extend the bottom of the armhole down to meet where the sleeve actually reached, hopefully thereby avoiding too tight armholes.

the fix

the fix

I cut little “v” shapes off the blouse and then sewed on the sleeves, actually using a 1/4″ sewing line to make the french seams this time.

frenching all my seams

view of the finished french seams

The french seams came out ok and attaching a sleeve this way was surprisingly easy despite how small they were. I must confess, I didn’t actually press them with an iron, it was too fiddly to contemplate and I don’t have a tailors ham, I thought I’d iron creases in everywhere, so I just “finger pressed” them which seemed to work ok in this lightweight fabric.



Once that was done the blouses were easy to finish and were both well received. Both mums have commented what a useful garment it is to cover up babies in the hot weather we’ve been having and how difficult it is to find such items in the shops. And apparently both babies went to different summer school/church fetes/fairs the weekend after I made them wearing their new tops.

It’s a little hard to see the details on the finished garment as the floral pattern shows on both sides of the fabric, so not having any babies to hand I requisitioned my daughters doll for a pose.

Still a little Growing room in this one

Still a little growing room in this one for Baby Taylor

So apart from that little drama of my own making, the pattern is great. I had a little trouble lining up the pdf as usual for any patter I download, as whatever I do (yes, including asking it not to scale) my printer stretches one side a bit longer than the other. It was really noticable what the problem was on this pdf as the pattern had helpful fient 1″ grid lines to assist with matching up.

The instructions were clear and concise. The finished garment has a placket (bound slit) down the front which is explained really well. It makes a really big neck opening – which is essential in babywear in my book (having to take off a garment that with a small neck after it’s been soiled by an exploading nappy is no joke). It does hang open slightly when worn, indeed like a Tova, which I wasn’t expecting. Looking again at the pictures on the Oliver and S website the shirt there seems to have a snap fastening placed half way up and indeed there was a snap fastening placement guide that I didn’t use. So this is probably my fault. But I’ve just looked at the instructions again and it’s not clear to me where the step is I missed. The issue is that the instructions for the shirt are mixed in with the instruction for the body suit, as many steps are the same. There is an “add the snaps” section and point 1 says that it’s for View A only (which is the bodysuit) so I assumed that all the instructions there were for the bodysuit. The picture for point 2 about attaching snaps to the placket shows the 3 snaps of the bodysuit – I’m assuming I was meant to figure out that I should be adding a snap to the shirt at this point too. Anyway, it works fine without a snap it’s just a different style.

I recommend making summer versions in a cotton lawn and it is surprisingly easy to use French seams throughout, provided you check what distance you’re sewing at!

Me Made May 1, Wiksten Tova 0

I have been absolutely loving taking part in Me Made May. I have completely astonished myself by wearing something me made every single day in May so far, I think I’m addicted. And I’ve had compliments on my clothes, so I’ve been telling people about how I’m taking part (which I hope doesn’t sound like showing off, my local friends don’t sew).

I’ve worn my spotty skirt, my birdy skirt, fixed and worn my swirly skirt and made and worn two coco’s (although I’ve only blogged the first one due a) not having a decent picture of the second one (not that that stopped me the first time around) and b) it not being as interesting).

Actually I’m a little disappointed in the first coco, despite the fabric being pre washed and being just fine, the first time I washed the garment the fabric has pilled. I wonder if I accidently sewed it wrong side out as it’s just the outside, the inside is fine (I had real trouble telling which was the right side, they’re so similar, in the end I just guessed). Also the cat climbed on my chest and pulled a thread in the turquoise yoke by stropping, arghhh. Finally, when I got my recycled skirt out I realised that I seem to have a slight scruffy star applique obsession. Whoops.

Now it’s getting a little warmer around where I live I didn’t want to wear the coco’s and I don’t always feel like wearing a short skirt so I got out a top I made back at the end of November but never really blogged properly because I’m not sure if I like it.

I wanted to make a Tova, because I’d seen so many lovely versions. But I was wary as they all seamed to be worn by slim women and I wasn’t sure it would suit me. I made a muslin in some cheap pink fabric I’d got hold of but it was sooo pink that I couldn’t see past the colour (which I hated on me) to evaluate the top. Actually, maybe I could, re reading the blog post about it, I mentioned problems with fit issues them, I guess I just got excited at the fabric I’d seen and ignored them as I impulsed made a “proper” one at the last minute to wear away for the weekend. I made it from some cotton lawn fabric I bought locally and made the dress length but added a an inch or two (can’t remember exactly but it’s still far too short to be decent without leggins). The corner turn thing took a bit of concentration but was doable and the rest of it came together quickly, I think I got the whole thing done in a day or thereabouts. I was pleased, it would be versatile, I could wear it with leggins as a dress or with trousers as a top. I would look stylish. I didn’t finish off the side seams, planning to add pockets later.

The first problem was on the train. It was fine worn on it’s own but under another top the cuffs dug into my arm – not comfy. I’m not sure what that top was because my other memory is that it was really cold that weekend and I did a lot of walking around outside and it wasn’t really warm enough for the job under my leather jacket, which was bad packing (mainly due to lack of decent jumpers and coats on my part) rather than a top related problem. Also, whilst the weekend away was supposed to be a fun time with my best friend before she emigrated, the first evening I heard that another friend of mine had died, so I also associated the top with that news, espeically as I ended up wearing it to his funeral as it was smartish and grey and black. (Afterwards a woman I’d never met came and asked me if I’d made it, then quickly explained that she had a fabric shop and stocked that fabric in case I was worried it looked overly home made).

My attempt at sophisticated model pose (good job I'm not after a new career)

My attempt at sophisticated model pose (good job I’m not after a new career)

Aside from all the bad associations this top has picked up, I’m not sure about the fit at all. Having the yoke end across my bust just isn’t that flattering. I don’t know why I ever thought it would work, I would never pick up a top like this in a shop (clearly I was seduced by blog land). And the rest of the top doesn’t fit that well either. The front is neither fitted nor really baggy and just ends up making me look huge. And there is a huge pool of fabric at my lower back which I really don’t like. I wonder if taking that in somehow would help. Maybe fisheye darts? Never done those. I tried discussing it with my mum (who has much more experience making clothes than me) but she reckons the problem is not that it’s too loose on my back but rather too tight on my hips. Thanks mum. I’m never going to wear it without something covering my legs so I maybe making the end of the side seams split would help that? Also I never added inseam pockets in. (so it really needs the seams finishing at the very least). The thing is, I’m not sure I feel inspired enough by its potential to put in the work adjusting it.

Back view, meh

Back view, meh

In it’s favour, it feels lovely on (that’ll be the cotton lawn) and the cuffs don’t dig in when not worn with something over them (although the shoulders are slightly tight when I move). My husband told me I looked lovely this morning when I wore it for the first time in yonks. And a friend complimented me when she saw me in it/ I explained my reservatons about the fit to her and she said she thought it was meant to be a kaftan, loose and flowing. So maybe I just need to adjust my thoughts on what it’s trying to be?

Unhappy about excess fabric

Unhappy about excess fabric

Also I remember their being quite a lot of this fabric left after cutting. The pattern envelope seemed to vastly overestimate the amount of fabric needed. So I wonder if I could make another top (which would probably have to be shorter) with the remainder and then get rid of the one I like least.

If anyone has good ideas on how to improve it please leave me a comment.

Buttonhole Frenzy

OK, not exactly a frenzy, but I did listen to advice, find out all the buttonholes on my to do pile, and do them. And I can report back that I do feel better for it. 20140325_130913
I did 4 buttonholes on pockets flaps on Utility Sashes for Countess Isabella’s Automata (I will try and explain that another time) plus sewed the relevant buttons on, another 4 buttonholes on the waistcoat toile for husbands so-late-it-might-be-early Christmas present (it needs buttons as despite being mottled purple he has declared it wearable) and finally the last 2 buttonholes on a shop bought shirt of my mums “I want an extra 2 buttons on here to stop it gaping, you make such nice buttonholes that I thought you could do them” (I’m not actually complaining by the way, she’s my mum, I think I probably owe her a lot more than 2 buttonholes).
In other news yesterday I stormed through a large part of making up the Tova blouse for my mum (I decided this was priority this week as she’s my mum and its half way between her birthday and mothers day). She tried it on tonight and I think it may need a zip inserted in a side seam to help her get it on and off (she has trouble with stiff shoulders). Or maybe a placket would be more appropriate seeing as we’d just watched the Sewing Bee contestants trying to figure out plackets whilst my mum reminisced about the plackets her grandma put in the tops she made her when she was a child.
I’m also a bit concerned that it has an excess of fabric in the small of her back, although not as much as in my (technically unfinished but has been worn – there’s a back story I’ll tell you sometime) one. I don’t know anything much about patterns but I think this is because the back is one piece and is fitted at the shoulders and relatively fitted at the hips but is not at all fitted around the waist. I was wondering about putting a couple of vertical darts in and was told that I could try tacking them in on mine but it wouldn’t work on hers, as she knew from experience (not sure on the logic here, she’s never made this pattern, but I know I wont win this argument). All in all I’m starting to feel a bit ambivalent about the Tova pattern.
I came back to find my husband sewing the buttons on his waistcoat, which is in general a good thing, but slightly takes the shine off my “I made all of that, all by myself” smugness.
I’m not sure there will be any time for sewing tomorrow, as I have somehow ended up with “bake purple cakes for the PTFA” on my to do list. Wish me luck!

Weekend Away

There’s nothing like a deadline. And a challenge.  

Yesterday I was musing aloud in my favourite coffee shop whether I should try and make a tunic to wear away this weekend.  And was told not to bother.

So I did.  I’m awkward like that.

I’m on the train now, so this is not a proper post, but I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself right now so here’s a picture…

Not so glamourous selfie on the train.

Not so glamourous selfie on the train.

I even tidied up the pile before I left.

Getting smaller (bulk wise anyway)

Getting smaller (bulk wise anyway)

I am a bad disorganised sewer.

I have not finished my to do pile.

I keep starting more things.

And then putting them on one side and starting yet more. (I feel like an out of control mathematical expression, all open parenthesis and not an end in sight.)

My fabric is in random heaps in the spare room.

I have not sorted out my hardware issues and have written draft blog posts which I can’t upload the pictures for and started yet more blog posts using rubbish pictures but haven’t finished them.

I was going to get organised (sewing wise at least) and make myself some trousers back in October.

It’s now nearly the end of November and I’m thinking about blouses.

I blame Erin from Seamstresserin as she keeps writing about bow neck blouses of every kind imaginable for her sewalong. Not that I’m tempted to try a bow neck blouse at all as they’re really not my thing.

However I have been tempted by all the lovely Wiksten Tova blouses out there in blog land, there are too many to know where to start linking to. So tempted that despite my reservations about whether I’m the right shape to fit in suit one I went ahead and bought the pattern to celebrate finishing my curtains (by far the bulk of the remaining pile) although I had to use my mum’s printer to print it out. In the end I was swayed by the fact that I think the pattern is a bit like my favourite blouse, so has potential. Wanna see?

My fave blouse (bought from Seasalt)

My fave blouse (bought from Seasalt)

It’s all floaty in a gauzey soft cotton fabric witha subtle little print on it and it’s floaty without being tent like and Holy Moly that keyhole neckline thing has a bow. A shoestring bow maybe but it’s a bow. Where did that come from?! How did I never notice that?

Anyway, I like the collar on the Tova and I have a large piece of plain blue knit fabric from the scrapstore that I’ve used a corner from to make a toile/muslin in which has the added bonus that I won’t need to bother about finishing the seams.

So I just need to match these pattern pieces up from my printout and …. hold on, I can match the little number triangle OR the edge of the pattern pieces OR the edges of the rectangles, but not 2 of them, let alone all 3. Oh well, I’ll bodge it together and soldier on.

Right now to cut out in my blue fabric. Hang on, this fabric, err, there’s not very much of it and I seem to have used over half of what there was. There is nowhere near enough to make a blouse.

Ok, I’ll rummage upstairs. Except I don’t make clothes for me so there is nothing suitable in my fabric pile. Except maybe this that I picked up from the scrapstore for £1, which horror of horrors is pink. Ok, I can do pink, it’s just a toile after all.

Next, cutting out, ok. Put on plackets, fine. Attatch to front piece. Hmm, I’ve attached it inside out, which is even more obvious as I couldn’t be bothered to wind a pink bobbin so there’s the white reverse of my topstitching showing. And a hole on one corner where I failed to attatch the inset correctly. This needs needs redoing. 3 times . Hmm, this fabric is loose weave, it frays easily and pins leave holes.

Ok, so the front is bodged together just about assembled. Maybe I’ll just sew it to the back to try it on. Pink is not my colour, this is definitely a toile. I’ll try and take in the back, which appears to be a couple of sizes bigger than the front and add the sleeves. Hmm, I’ve added one sleeve inside out. Never mind, I can still guage the fit this way. Hmm, I wonder if I could, yes I might….

This is the only time I will wear this

This is the only time I will wear this

Behold (but not too closely) the prototype bow neck Tova. I bet this has been done before, to solve the gaping placket issue, but I can’t find an example of it. I have found a collarless Tova (done properly with bias binding not just turned over and hemmed like this one). Actually I kind of like it and I think the unfinished wider sleeves balance it nicely. Shame it’s so badly made, not great fitting and pink.

Seriously, I’m not convinced about the way the inset sits on my bust. Although hubby thinks it’s fine. Also, the upper back and the top of the sleeves feel a bit tight so I definitely don’t want to try the full bust adjustment if that results in a tighter sleeve cap. Which is a shame as I saw some great fabric for making a Tova dress (with a collar) that I had imagined I could rustle up for my weekend away on Friday. I think I need to let my subconcious mull over next steps for a while, but I hope there will be a well made properly fitted version sometime and maybe a bow necked version one day too. And if I do try again then I need to start before 9pm, takemy time, concentrate and do itproperly! If not, my mum might have the pattern as she was eyeing it up!