Catching up

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Blue skies and palm trees are my view at the moment

Greetings from the Southern Hemisphere!  I had so wanted to be able to show you the Named Pulmu Skirt finished in all its glory just after the toile post, but I’m afraid things happened and it’s languishing at home while I’m 10 000 miles away.  The black crepe looks fabulous and the skirt shell is complete, but I totally ran out of time to make the lining and finish off.  One more day would have done it!

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Holiday packing included my little Bernina

I had a week in Cornwall at the end of September, where the weather forecast wasn’t all that favourable.  So I decided to take my sewing machine and a couple of projects to while away the time when it was too miserable to stand on beaches or roam through pretty gardens.  The dining room of the holiday flat became my dedicated sewing room and I actually did make some progress.  The weather wasn’t as bad as the weatherman had made out.

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My sewing room for the week in Cornwall
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Pulmu skirt shell complete, awaiting lining and finishing off

One thing I did manage to finish, finally – was Daughter No2’s crochet granny square sampler blanket.  I must have spent around 10 hours sewing in all the ends on the back, mind numbing work, but made easier in the end by a pretty view and a few glasses of wine.  It’s only a year late, but she’s forgiven me and the blanket has pride of place on her bed at Uni.

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A real labour of love, the finished granny square sampler blanket

In the meantime, and before I even started the Pulmu toile, I made another pair of Birkin Flared jeans – for me, of course!  This brings my total to 4.

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I was pretty impressed with my seam matching this time, no ripping out!

The fabric was a lightweight denim with 2%stretch from Croft Mill Fabric.  It’s a beautiful dark indigo and is fantastic to wear. I didn’t bother fighting with topstitch thread (again) and stuck with the navy blue ordinary thread.  I found a cute button in the stash and voila, a new pair of jeans for me.

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The button is far more olive green, but it’s proved impossible to get the colour right.

They’ve been so comfortable, I wore them for 21 hours on a long haul flight from the UK to South Africa and didn’t bat an eyelid.  They kept their shape, I didn’t have a saggy butt or baggy knees and, most of all, they didn’t dig in for all that time sitting in an uncomfortable aeroplane seat.  Where do you find this fabulous fabric?  It’s called “Formality” and can be found, in low stock now, at Croft Mill Fabrics.

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First wear!

The pocket linings were cut from one of Husband’s shirts.  He managed to shrink a couple in the wash so the sleeves are now way too short.  I held onto the shirts thinking the fabric would come in handy somewhere (it’s not only lengths of fabric that I hoard).  So my pocket bags are pink and stripey!

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Jazzy pockets!

So these jeans are with me down south and I’m loving them in my travelling wardrobe.  I just hope I don’t wear them out before heading back to the big cold, because it would be a shame not to be able to take full advantge of them throughout the winter in the UK.

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Birkin Flared Jeans in Cornwall (note the photobomber behind me)

I made this pair slightly longer than my others, not such a good idea when wearing with flat shoes (and in the mud) but perfect for boots when I get back to colder weather.

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We all had a fabulous time in the sun and on the beautiful Cornish beaches. I’m always sad to say goodbye.

But three days after getting back from Cornwall I was on a plane and heading south.  I’m with my parents while my mum recovers from a double hip replacement, so there’s precious little sewing going on, although the withdrawl symptoms are great!  I was just getting ready to start sewing for autumn and winter, and now my summer wardrobe is having a second outing to the South!

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In the end only one piece for mum, the rest is mine! 🙂

I have made a fabric purchase while I’m here (and I honestly cannot say it will be the last, sorry pledge!!).  I was looking for fabric for tops for my mum when I found stuff that just wouldn’t let me pass without purchasing.  But, it will all be used for winter clothes the minute I get back, if not before!

So I leave you with a little bit of South Africa, and hope I’ll be able to do a little sewing very soon!

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Elephants at Inkenkwezi

 

Mark Making

Collage mark making

My third  pair of Birkin Flares has become a firm favourite, just like the others.  Have I said how much I like these jeans? My first pair has quite a lot of stretch, making them extremely comfortable throughout the day.  The second pair had the misfortune of not having quite as much stretch as necessary, but being a very good colour.  These, the third, have enough stretch, a fabulous blue colour and a firm denim that doesn’t sag.  My favourite pair? Well..  possibly!

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Baste & Gather Birkin Flares

I won’t bore you with a million pictures of the jeans, they’re made in the same way as the other two pairs.  For detailed pictures, you can revisit the first pair.  Once again, I used ordinary thread, I had no intention of mucking about with topstitching stuff.

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For the tee shirt, I used a pattern I’d used twice last year.  The fabric, which you might recognise from my last post, came from Stitch Fabrics at the NEC.  It’s a cobalt blue and white print by John Kaldor, a viscose jersey with a great drape and weight.  I like a floaty tee for the summer when it gets sticky and humid.

Originally I thought I might use the prints I bought for more fitter, “plain” tees, and the solids for the floaty stuff, but I was halfway through cutting this one out when I remembered!  Oh dear!  Anyway, I love how this has turned out.

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The pattern is 113/4 from Burdastyle 12 2008.  An oldie, but a goodie.  I used Vilene iron-on bias stay tape on all the neckline edges and armholes.  I have learned my lesson with soft, drapy knits and keeping them in their place!  I love how the print on this looks in this and I’m looking forward to wearing it thoughout the summer.

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Loving my new shoes too!

I have more makes to show you now I have a photographer at home for the Easter holidays, most of them will be going into my suitcase for my trip to South Africa in two weeks.  TWO WEEKS!

 

Changing of the Seasons

Sewing a seasonal wardrobe – and looking forward very much to summer and a three week holiday in the southern hemisphere.  I have a pile of fabulous linens from Ditto Fabrics in my favourite colours, and some piles of fabric in the stash still awaiting their turn to be sewn up too.  In order to get some progress made I decided to join a couple of Facebook groups last month,  One is the Sew-A-Longs and Sewing Contests page.  They’ve got a contest running from the beginning of February to sew up 8 garments that match and belong to a theme.  My theme, apart from sew as much as possible, is to have garments that co-ordinate with each other, and the other stuff in my wardrobe, that will be my summer and holiday wardrobe.

Sewing for the summer in the tail end of winter sounds great,  dreaming of linen trousers and drapey tee shirts in the sunshine.  But when you’re looking out of the window at frozen gardens, rain and now snow falling, it’s tempting to sew a coat instead!

I will post each garment once it’s finished and I have a photographer.  Mr Compulsive is a very, very reluctant photographer and Daughter No2 is away at university, so photo shoot opportunities are extremely rare.  I have actually finished a pair of jeans, 4 pairs of trousers, a jacket and two tee shirts.  No photos though….  Until today that is.  Daughter No2 came home for Mother’s Day weekend so I’ve co-opted her to get as many photos done as possible!  It’s darned cold though for photographing summer stuff…

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Birkin Flares by Baste & Gather

I made these jeans in the first few days of February, they had their first outing for a visit to Birmingham to see Daughter no2 on a day off from lectures.  While there I bought more fabric, of course!  I got denim for another pair of Birkin Flares which I might make without the flare, and sweatshirting for two Sewaholic Fraser sweatshirts.  More Birkins? Of course, my first pair are worn at least twice a week!

My second pair of Baste and Gather Flared jeans is loved almost as much as the first, but due to the fabric not having as much stretch as required, they’re a teeny bit tighter!  I love the colour.  I’d bought this twill from Croft Mill Fabrics last year – or maybe even the year before – but waited until I had what I thought was the perfect pattern.  That’s one of the ways to grow a stash, by the way.  Buy fabric and then dither and procrastinate about which pattern you’re going to use before taking the scissors to it.

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Prepped and ready to sew

I didn’t use topstitching thread for this project at all.  I’d found a perfect colour match of ordinary thread and it’s worked out just fine.  I had to get the zip online though, none of my local stores had a 5″ beige jeans zip.  Jaycotts are pretty quick and before I’d even finished cutting & marking the pattern, the zip had arrived.  Pretty cheap too for a YKK zip!

I made the same alterations on the upper thigh and in the back crotch curve as the first pair, and as I was left with 8cm to chop off the bottom the first time round, I altered the pattern at the mid thigh and mid calf, taking out 2cm in each place, leaving 4cm to be removed from the hemline.  This pair went together just as easily as the first, and I made the same change in the zip, accessing from the left instead of the right.  I remembered to alter the direction of pressing of the back seam this time, so all seams and stitching lines up perfectly.

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Dead chuffed with how these lined up!!

I am really happy with how the topstitching worked out on the yoke this time.  Generally I really love this pair, especially the colour, I just wish there was more stretch!  It means I have to work harder on losing that Xmas and Winter padding before we go away in mid April…

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I found this cool button in my stash, as it was the only one, it was perfect to use on the jeans.

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The lack of stretch means the jeans are a little tighter than I’d like…

Back to getting more photos before the weather turns… 🙂

We Like to Boogie

Flared jeans, I’m never taking them off!

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Jeans.  The staple of just about everyone’s wardrobe since the 70s.  They come in various guises, colours and lengths but we cannot get enough of them.  Since their introduction as basic workwear they have undergone dramatic transformations in style, detail and of course, the fabric they’re made of.  The quest for the perfect pair of jeans is rather like the Quest for the Holy Grail.  We’d do anything to find them, including shelling out large amouts of money on designer jeans.  But us sewists are the lucky ones, we can make our own!

I’ve made jeans for the girls before, but never made a “proper” pair for myself.  I bought a couple of Hot Patterns jeans, came very short with the one and gave up on the idea.  Then the Closet Case Gingers came along & I bought the PDF immediately.  I even bought fabric, but when it came to the crunch I chickened out of actually making them.  I just wasn’t convinced about the styling and fitting – that they’d look good on me. I’d already justified the purchase of the pattern, I was going to use the skinny version for the girls, of course…

In the intervening months I bought more stretch denim, black, caramel & beautiful blue.  They liked my stash, too happy there to ever come out & be used.

The style is always the thing I get stuck on.  I like a straight leg, but you just cannot beat a bootcut or flare to make your legs look longer, or to balance out a larger body/hip.  I buy bootcut jeans whenever I can and love a flare.  My ordinary trousers can attest to that!  Then in December I started seeing flared jeans aplenty on the internet.  Sewists were making flared jeans!  Where is that pattern!  I NEEDED it!

I bought the Baste + Gather Birkin Flared Jeans on my birthday at the end of December (getting Mr W to print the pattern on A0 at the office, ssshhhh).  I had the fabric, I had the pattern.  Just to make it up…  Now Daughter No1 is safely wandering around Thailand with a rucksack of handmade goodies to wear, I can turn my attention to sewing for myself again, and JEANS are on the top of the list!

I started tracing the pattern last week, finishing on Monday this week and finally making a half toile.  I really wanted to check the fit around the top half, the length wasn’t a big worry.  I made the size 35, based on my waist measurement.  Apparently the hip should have been a size lower, but I have a bum & tum to fit into that space and with 3inches (7.5cm) negative ease, I wasn’t taking any chances!! After the toile I decided to add a little (5mm) to the inseam on both legs to accommodate wide thighs and curved out a little extra on the CB seat seam.  I also wanted to change the opening of the fly from the right to the left.  All of my trousers are left hand opening, & I can’t explain how confused I was trying to open and close the toile with my right hand!  Silly, yes??  The rest seemed ok & I couldn’t wait to start!

I chose a dark charcoal denim with 2% lycra from the stash.  I’d bought it from Croft Mill Fabrics around this time last year!  It has a fabulous handle, soft on the underside, and a slight sheen to it.  I thought it would be perfect as a slightly dressier look than “normal” coloured denim.  Threads, zip & button were all from the stash.

I really like the instructions for this pattern.  All are well written and illustrated and you really cannot go wrong with them.  I think quite a few pairs of jeans were taken apart to provide the exact level of detail that has gone into this pattern.  It’s the best way to learn to make things – take something apart and see how it was put together in the first place!  I used white pocketing for the pockets and instead of simply sewing the bottom seam and overlocking, I make some quick French seams.  Hopefully this should be stronger, depending on what I decide to jam into my pockets!

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French seamed pockets, a vintage button and more topstitching details.

The fly is inserted in a way that not many sewists will be used to, it’s a method used mostly in industry for men’s wear.  But it’s well described and goes together well.  The only thing I’d say is, if you have the right length zip (I had 5″) you will not have to cut off anything, pliers will be unnecessary and you will skim past the bottom end of the zip with your topstitching.

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Zip details & topstitching

Topstitching……  I don’t use topstitching thread most of the time but for jeans you need that thicker thread for a more authentic look.  I have in my needle box a twin denim needle, perfect for accurate double lines of topstitching on the perfect jeans.  Except my Bernina didn’t like it at all.  It allowed me the satisfaction of neatly stitched pocket top edges and then stopped.  Any more attempts resulted in a hissy fit and a nice lump of thread under the fabric.  Similar effects happened when trying to use a single row of topstitching.  I have to add here that I didn’t use a topstitching needle.  That’s one thing I didn’t have to hand and the local haberdashery didn’t stock so exotic an item.  The stitching looks ok from the top, but when you turn the fabric over there’s a lovely collection of loops of topstitch thread and the bobbin thread is ineffective.  I tried tightening the bobbin tension but nothing worked.  Just to show how perverse my fabulous Bernina is, it was perfectly happy for me to use the jeans twin needle with normal thread in one needle and topstitch thread in the other.  Machines! *throws hands in the air*

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Adventures in topstitching, using the twin denim needle only lasted the top of the pockets. No decorated back pockets this time, I was far too impatient!
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Various attempts at topstitching, bottom left you can see the loops of topstitch thread on the underside, right you can see the compromise, twin needle with 1 topstitch & 1 ordinary thread.

There is even a little trick to make sure the centre back seam still looks like it’s in the centre, topstitching and all.  You place one back leg piece 1cm away from the other, then stitch at the normal 1.5cm seam, once you iron the seams in one direction and turn it over to the right side, you’ve (hopefully) got a matching yoke seam and what appears to be an even placement of the pockets.  Topstitching can seriously throw the symmetry off, even if it all measures the same, visually it’s tricky!

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Centering the CB seam

But seriously folks, my misbehaving machine was the only issue I had with the construction of these jeans.  That and my over-enthusiastic estimation of the length of my legs!  I measured the inseam of 34inches (84cm) with my boots on and determined it was a good length for me…  Erm, nope!  I chopped off 8cm and turned up 2.5 for the hem!  I didn’t have to worry about loosing too much of the flare (there’s plenty!) thank goodness.  I have now used the shortening lines to take out 2cm in the mid-thigh and another 2 mid-calf.  The remainder will come off the bottom, it’ll be fine! 😉

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Never taking these off…

Once on, the jeans are so good!  The high waist, and it is high, ensures no muffin top, HURRAY!  In photos of other versions of the jeans the waistand doesn’t to be as high as it is on me, but the lower edge of the waistband sits on the top of my hip bones, so it cannot go any lower if it is to be a high or natural waist.  But I likes it!  I didn’t think I’d be going back to waistlines on the natural waist ever, but I might be persuaded now.

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By the way, that’s a new tee!  Made last night after a day of gallivanting, I needed to do something productive.  Luckily it was already cut out the night before so all it needed was a little Vilene bias tape for the shoulder seams and it was good to go!  The pattern is a self drafted one.  I shortened the sleeve from the original version which I wore to the dreaded wedding in December.  The fabric is the most beautiful viscose jersey from Ditto Fabrics, the drape is fabulous and it’s so soft!!  It’s my second make for the summer (who said I was wishing the year away??)

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Happy in my new jeans, just need a bit of healthy eating to remove that tummy sticking out there!

Mr W likes these jeans, says the fit is really good, so I must have done something right! 🙂  Apparently there will be an “add-on” for this pattern which involved making the legs into skinnies.  Could be interesting.  I’d prefer a straight leg myself, and with a fit around the top as good as this one, playing with the legs to make millions of pairs of jeans will be so much more fun!

ps, this is my just-in-time sumbission for Jeans in January!