Sewing at the Seaside

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Sunset from my bedroom window

I’ve managed a little sewing between sorting out my parents, their house, business and lives in general, not to mention looking after the invalid. (That’s my new name for Mum, please, don’t tell her)  Things were going swimmingly with the double hip replacement until her x-rays before her 4 week check up when a break in her femur was discovered!  So she was whisked back into hospital immediately and underwent surgery for a third replacement!!  So we’ve had a bit of a setback and my return home has been delayed by 4 weeks.

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Top 1, navy and white hibiscus print

I think the parents felt a little bad, so Dad offered to be carer for a Saturday morning, leaving me a little “me time” to get some sewing in, or whatever I fancied.  So I used the time to finish two tops I’d cut out for Mum.  This is a stashbust x2.  I brought over a really pretty Rose & Hubble rose print cotton which I thought she’d like in her favourite pattern for tops, Burdastyle top 134 from March 2004 magazine.  She had a couple of fabrics to use up too, so I picked out a navy and white mystery fibre content hibiscus print. (I’m pretty sure it’s 100% polyester, but she loves it).

The only issue I had was with the cotton.  The print wasn’t on grain so the roses, which should have been printed on the bias, don’t run straight down the top.  This is one of those situations when grain definitely has to trump print!!  But now I know why the fabric was less expensive than it should have been…

The top is so quick to put together, and all pieces are bias cut.  A little time was wasted trying to get to grips with Mum’s sewing machine, it doesn’t behave quite like mine do, but I wasn’t going to waste more time working out the overlocker.  The last three tops I made for her I ran up on my overlocker at home.  Boy do they get made quickly like that!!  The original pattern has raw edges on all hems and around the neckline, but Mum isn’t a fan of that unfinished look so I added 1cm hems and bound the neckline with self bias double folded.

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Top 2, rose print blue and ecru cotton

Both tops are a hit and now I have a bit of sewjo back.  I brought over a pair of trousers I’d cut at home but run out of time to sew up before heading over.  The pattern is 106 from Burdastyle April 2016.  I loved it from the moment I saw it and bought metres and metres of border print viscose when I was in South Africa back in April/May to make a few pairs.  Needless to say, I never got round to using that stuff up at all, until now.  So on my sewing table at the moment is a half finished pair of viscose trousers that I’m very keen on finishing this weekend!  If I don’t get digging in the garden again….

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Making the back garden pretty and cared for again.

BTW, Mum is getting better.  Although it’s quite literally, one step at a time.  Recovering from the operation is one thing, but a broken leg takes it to a new level.  Thankfully neither us has run out of patience just yet and we’re getting through her stash of wool quite nicely too!  Soon we’ll have empty yarn boxes to throw out and piles of crochet granny squares to donate to the local craft charity.

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Slow Sewing

This year is going to be a different one for sewing. If you haven’t already noticed, things are going much slower. By this time last year I’d completed 22 projects, this year I’ve done 13 and am working on my 14th. It’s not as if I have less to make, or less fabric to play with. Just less time.
I have stuff I need to photograph, neither Camas Blouse have made it to the pages of the blog yet, despite them being completed late January, early February!  Here’s a glimpse.

Marking the seamlines on the reverse of the sequined shoulder yokes.
Marking the seamlines on the reverse of the sequined shoulder yokes.

 

The completed sequined shoulder.
The completed sequined shoulder.
A sneaky selfie in the back of the florists, the first outing for my Camas Blouse
A sneaky selfie in the back of the florists, the first outing for my Camas Blouse

I decided this year to get my act into gear regarding trousers too, the styles in the Burda magazines aren’t floating my boat and there really is a limit as to how many times you can remake a pattern, no matter how you think they look so different in different fabrics.  So I’ve managed to get a new pair of self drafted trousers up and running too.  I stole a couple of different styling ideas from different patterns I like, like pocket shapes and cuffs.  I’m pretty happy with the first pair, I think the proof will be in the wearing though, so I’m holding off rushing to make a new pair before I’ve worn these a couple of times to identify areas of improvement.

Sketch of the intended pattern and a pile of taped together bits of paper forming the pattern pieces!
Sketch of the intended pattern and a pile of taped together bits of paper forming the pattern pieces!
Adjusting the style lines after the first toile.
Adjusting the style lines after the first toile.
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Almost there, fly zip, topstitched square shaped pockets.

My current project is a simple v-neck tee from a self drafted block.  I’d needed to adjust the original block heavily, apparently Winnie Aldrich doesn’t really mean 0 ease when she says it for a tee block!!  I think it’s sorted enough, so I’ve marked the fashion cut and created the style pattern I’m after. I need to toile it today, so fingers crossed.

Simple shaped tee, 3/4 sleeves and a wide v-neck band embellished with beads
Simple shaped tee, 3/4 sleeves and a wide v-neck band embellished with beads

The one thing about making garments with jersey is that each and every jersey behaves differently. I’ve even had different results from the same bamboo jersey in different colours!! Does the dying process have an effect?? Who knows.  This time I’m using a pale grey viscose jersey I bought from Croft Mill Fabrics last year, it’s not one of those flowing jerseys, so hopefully it works well with the simple shape.  I decided to lift it from being a boring grey tee I’d dig out a tube of silvery beads and embellish a bit.  We’ll see if my hands behave enough for me to hold a beading needle long enough to get any beads attached!

Speaking of hands, I’ve been rushing to crochet enough granny squares to make a throw for daughter no2 before I have to stop.  Holding a crochet hook is not easy at the moment, but I’ve managed fairly well so far.  I crochet like mad when my hands behave and then have to leave if for days other times.  I hope I get it all finished and put together before she heads off to University in September.  I have a long way to go yet!

This was the last photo I took of the growing pile.  I have another 18 to add to this.
This was the last photo I took of the growing pile. I have another 18 to add to this.

Of course, just because I am not sewing much doesn’t mean I’m leaving the growing of the stash alone.  I persuaded Daughter No1 to attend the Sewing for Pleasure at the NEC last week with me, on the promise that I’d buy the ticket, lunch and any fabric she required.  Sucker.  We got a good haul, she left with silk and wool tops for embellishing, wool felt and silk woven pieces to add texture to her latest project.  Me?  Well, I left with these, amongst other things…

Cotton poplin for a dress and 40s stye shorts for daughter no1
Cotton poplin for a dress and 40s stye shorts for daughter no1
just one of the pieces of Linton tweed, this is a cotton weave, destined for an edgy, modern jacket for daughter no1
Just one of the pieces of Linton tweed, this is a cotton weave, destined for an edgy, modern jacket for daughter no1
Silk print onto cotton, the most amazing colours!  I got 2 lots of 2 metres, neither for me!!
Silk print onto cotton, the most amazing colours! I got 2 lots of 2 metres, neither for me!!
You can never have too many books to assist with fitting issues.  Everyone has a different opinion!
You can never have too many books to assist with fitting issues. Everyone has a different opinion!

So that’s me for now.  I have lots to sew and lots to crochet and lots to photograph!  Daughter no1 will be home for the Easter Hols soon and I have lots of things I want to make for her before she goes back to University, so I’m going to have to hurry up just a little.

The Versatile Blogger Award

Wow.  Just.  Wow.  Now I never in my teeny weeny life expected this project of mine to do anything remotely earth shattering.  Or to have any number of people following it.  It was all just about me getting my little grey cells working they way they should again!  Anyways, turns out Jeyco over at I’m liking it has awarded this little blog the “Versatile Blogger Award”.  Me!  😀  Thank you for even noticing this blog in the very big wide bloggersphere!  It’s quite exciting, that people actually do visit and read my blurb!

Versatile Blogger Award - design from The Perfect Nose

So, according to the rules I have to pass this little number on.  15 unsuspecting bloggers are in line for this, but with this award multiplying 15 times everytime it’s passed on, there is bound to be some overlap, so apologies if I list someone who has it already!!

1.  Thank the person who gave the award and link to that person:

Thank you again Jeyco, I am honoured that you stop by and like what you see and read.

2.  Add the Versatile Blogger Badge to your website:

3.  List the rules.

4.  List 7 things about yourself:

  • I love sewing. (bet you didn’t see that one coming!)
  • I cannot function without music.  Music is definitely food for the soul.
  • I have two of the same sewing machine.  Seriously.  They are Bernina 830 Records, from the early 1970’s.  I inherited my first one from my late mother-in-law 15 years ago.  The second I bought from my good friend who emmigrated back to the US and couldn’t take her baby with her.  Win for me!  They are fabulous machines.  I also have 2 overlockers, a Bernina 5 reel and a Janome.  Nedless to say I use the Janome more – it has fewer hangups.
  • My mum taught me to sew.  Teachers at school tried but failed miserably.  It wasn’t until I left home that I realised that cooking and sewing were not only necessary skills, but could also be very rewarding!
  • I love books.  Fiction books, cook books, sewing and fashion books.  There are always at least 3-4 books piled next to my bed to read, nevermind I am so knackered by bedtime I hardly get to read any of them!  School pick up time is the best time to read, provided I get there early.
  • I love seeing the people I have taught get excited about their projects, both those in progress and the finished items.  I love the satisfaction they get when they realise they’ve made something, and that it looks great!
  • I have every issue of the Burdastyle magazine from January 1993.  If you ever need anything….  ;p

5.  Pass the award on to 15 dedicated blogs.

This could be tricky.  I really haven’t been blogging for that long…

6.  Let them know about the award.  Comments on the way!  These blogs are all cool and interesting to me, I hope some of them prove inspiring to others too!

Phew!  This has taken so long to get together!  Now enough of the typing, back to sewing!!  😀

2 for 1 jacket update

While I was “away” making curtains and doing alterations and making nice things for other people, this project was burning a hole in the back of my mind!  Now the new year is here, the kids are back at school and making for others has quietened down a bit, I can finally get cracking again.  I decided to track the progress of this jacket, to show the internal workings of speed tailoring a jacket.

First things first, if you have a wool or wool blend fabric, you need to prepare it.  During the making the fabric will be subject to a lot of heat and steam, and it will inevitably shrink.  There are different ways of going about this.  Usually I cut a  10x10cm piece, zigzag or overlock the edges and pop into a basin of warm water.  If the water doesn’t get absorbed, there is a coating on the fabric, and it will need to be dry cleaned.  If water is absorbed, pop it in the washing machine on a cool, woolens or handwash cycle.  Then check it, has it shrunk?  Has the finish/feel of the fabric changed?  Has the colour run?  If the answer is yes to any of these, dry clean only!  For preparation you will need to steam this fabric.  If not, you can wash it.  Now some fabrics can be shoved in the machine, and others need a different approach.  (Most of the wool I buy gets the machine wash.)

I have a cashmere that is definitely not going in the machine.   I dampened down 2 double flat sheets (you could use old duvet covers) and sandwiched the wool between them.  I rolled the whole lot up like a Swiss Roll and left for the damp to get through the wool.  Then opened it up and draped over a balustrade/handrail.  If you have to use the washline, first cover the wire with a towel, and if possible, drape over two lines, not just one.  Leave to dry, then dry iron to remove creases.  Iron on the wrong side, and check for any imperfections.  Mark these so you can avoid the area when laying out the pattern pieces.

It really is worth taking time when preparing wool for a jacket.  The fabric is rarely cheap, and considering the amount of time you will take to put the item together, it will be pretty soul-destroying to have it go wrong.

Your next job is the interfacing.  I use a speed tailoring jacket pack that I get from Gill Arnold.  On this particular wool I have used her Weft insertion on the jacket shell and the fine sheer fusible on the facings.  I have also used some iron on canvas, and some non-iron canvas.  I interfaced the “T-zone” and all the hem edges with the weft insertion.  This covers all the areas of the jacket that are put under strain or will be sat on and crinkled!  Then I made up the fronts and back.

The next step was to apply a fusible cotton tape to the front seam, this prevents stretching on the front seam.  It is applied about 5mm in from the fabric edge and if you have a curve at the bottom, you will need to snip into it to take the corner.  Once that was done, I made the canvas chest pieces.  This is done to plump out the hollow in the chest that women have just below the shoulder.  You will need the non-iron canvas and some weft insertion for this part, and each pattern needs a different shape chest piece.

The pieces are cut on the bias.  The weft insertion interfacing is a different size to the canvas.  It is 1cm larger on the armhole side, and 2.5cm larger on the neckline side.  Fuse the canvas to the weft insertion, taking care not to attach the overlapping interfacing to anything.  Trim the top corners, cut a box 1×2.5cm and 2.5×2.5cm.  Place the chest piece on the jacket front with the armhole side on the edge of the fabric and fuse the overlapping interfacing to the jacket on both sides.

Preparing the canvas chest piece
Chest piece fused in place
Taped breakline

Next fuse cotton tape to the breakline of the rever.  This helps the rever to fall in the right place, and to stay there!  There is no need for padstitching the create the fall. Now staystitch the neckline on the facings, jacket front and back.

Once that is done, pin on the facing.  The facing is between 2.5mm and 5mm bigger/wider than the front on the rever up to the breakpoint only.  This is to accommodate the turn of cloth.  You don’t want to see the seamline or any of the fabric from the front rever peaking out.  The fabric needs to be manipulated carefully so you don’t get any puckering, pinch the excess at the corner and pin the “blister”.

Sew the front facing on from the podmark for the collar join to the hem.  Snip the seam allowance at an angle at the breakpoint and layer the seams.  Trim both of the seam allowances down by 5mm.  Then trim the seam allowance of the front facing by a further 5mm.  The rever needs to be trimmed too, but trim the front by a further 5mm, and not the facing.  Press the seams open and then  flat.  Ensure you roll the fabric when steaming so there is no seamline showing.

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Seam layering on front and facing front

Now for the shoulder seams.  Pin the canvas away from the shoulder line and pin the fronts to the back.  Stitch and press open over a sleeve roll.  Remove the pins from the canvas and let it extend past the seamline onto the back.  Turn the right way round and put your hand under the shoulder seam.  Pin along the seamline, going through all the jacket layers as well as the canvas.  Turn to the inside and pin the back seam allowance to the canvas.  remove the pins from the outside and then stitch the canvas to the seam allowance, close to the shoulder seam line.

Canvas pinned back, shoulder seam sewn and pressed open
Canvas extended over back seam allowance and pinned from right side
Canvas stitched to seam allowance, close to original seamline

So that’s the body of the jacket, ready for the collar and then the sleeves.  Happy sewing until next time!