Monday, 22 August 2016

I made shorts!

I made some shorts!! I am taking this as my first step on my plan to make a pair of trousers - something I said I'd do this year, last year and probably the year before as well. Now I feel a bit more confident it might happen! Despite their imperfections (which I'll get to in a minute) I am so happy with these shorts. They are pink, of course. The cotton is a cotton sateen (I think) with a good bit of stretch and a lovely soft texture so they are very comfy. And they look good enough to wear out in public, not just in the garden. Their first outing was to the Appearing Room Fountains at the Southbank, where they survived getting soaked, and also dried pretty quickly. A win in my book! Apologies for the poor quality photos, I'll try and get a better one next time I wear them out.

The pattern is Burda Pleated Shorts 02/2013 #129. When I mentioned to one of my friends last summer that I wanted to try making some trousers she suggested I start with a shorts pattern and said she had one I could use. So I tried on her toile which fitted me fine and she then very kindly traced me out the pattern and photocopied the instructions from her magazine copy. These are a bit different to the pattern as they have a facing rather than a waistband. This is because my friend made them with a facing and traced me her facing pattern pieces too so I just went with this. Next time I'll try them with a waistband.

I used the guidelines for attaching the facing to the Meringue Skirt in the Colette Sewing Handbook and I also understitched to try and keep the facing flat. It still sticks up though,  I think I should have used a thinner fabric for the facing. I'm reasonable happy with the zip. I tried to put the zip slightly higher up as the instructions say you need to attach a hook & eye above the zip, which I don't like the look of. In my attempt to do this I've ended up making the sides uneven. However I don't really care to be honest, I mean obviously I'll try better next time but I will be wearing these with a t-shirt covering the waist so nobody will ever see it but me. Thinking about it now I think that, with the facing rather than the waistband, the zip would have been fine where it was.  On the plus side the crotch seam (which of course no one will see!) is matched up pretty perfectly. Recently I've really been starting to feel some improvements in my sewing and making these feels like an important step. Trousers no longer seem quite so scary!

You can see the uneven waist here.
Details -
Pattern: Burdastyle Pleated Shorts 02/2013 #129
Size: Not sure as my friend traced out the size she had used.
Fabric & notions: Bright (very bright!) pink cotton (possibly a cotton sateen, definitely with some stretch) was a gift from the same friend who traced me her pattern (aren't I lucky?!).  Pink thread from stash (bought for Brumby skirt). The lovely pink fabric in the pockets is possibly a Rayon, it was a remnant I bought years ago and it's nice to finally use some of it.
Were the instructions clear: Hmmn kind of. I've made so many toddler Sunny Day shorts now that I was confident enough putting them together. Except for the pockets. I've never sewn pockets like this before, I think they're called yoke pockets? Oh and of course I tried to attach the pockets to the back, numerous times! Because the darts are on the back pieces I kept mistaking them for the front (which has pleats) so of course I couldn't get the pockets to fit. Once I realised my mistake though it wasn't too bad. Though I think if I hadn't had my friends toile version to refer to I might have struggled more.
Any changes I'd make next time: Next time I'll try and make them with the waistband.
Total cost: No cost at all!

Perfect seam matching!

Pretty pockets.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Bow and arrows quilt

This is the Bow & Arrows quilt pattern from Suzy Quilts and I can't believe this is the best photo I got of the finished quilt as I absolutely love it! I'll need to ask the recipient if I can take some better photos next time I'm back in Scotland. Even from these photos you can see how well it turned out. I had so much fun sewing it up, especially hand-sewing the binding on in the sun in my dad's garden!

Soaking up the sun, ready for hand stitching the binding.
This is the baby quilt size and I totally copied the colour way Suzy gives in the PDF pattern.  I was so pleased when I remembered I had these blue & yellow fabrics in my stash as they look so good together. The backing fabric is brilliant too, Retro Rockets by Michael Miller. It took me a while to find this online and I ordered 2 metres of it from Cloth Ears.  I'm considering buying more as I just love it and it's perfect for baby quilts! The white fabric is a lovely quality sheet from a charity shop which cost the princely sum of £2!

Backing fabric - Retro rocket by Michael Miller
Imperfect lines
One thing I've realised with quilt making - I am so not a perfectionist!! In fact I like imperfections.  When I started machine quilting this I was worried about getting the lines perfectly straight. Then I decided to treat it just as I would if I was drawing - that is just go for it. My lines are not all straight or uniform but I really like how this looks.  My mum used to do really wonderful pen line drawings and I always loved how strong and decisive her lines were even though, or perhaps because, they weren't all uniform.
I followed the pattern exactly (as you can see!) which worked out well mostly. The only issue I had was the lengths given for the border pieces. It instructs you to cut 4 of the same length which obviously isn't' necessary as you have 2 shorter sides, and weirdly the length you are to cut is too long for the short sides and too short for the longer sides! So I ended up having to cut and join a few times. I think next time I'll work out what lengths I need for sides and top & bottom and cut accordingly.  I used the stated 1/4" seam allowance throughout. Incidentally if, like me, you're new to quilting check out this great post on advice on quilting.

I wasn't very keen on the basic method for making Flying Geese as it creates quite a bit of waste. Well it won't be waste as I intend to try and use them in a scrappy quilt. However I think if I made this again I would try and use the no-waste method, which she explains in the pattern too.
Flying geese - you can see all the wasted fabric on the left.
I also had a few issues this time with machine quilting. I don't have a special foot so I was just using the straight stitch foot with a 2 1/2 - 3 stitch length.  I found that I got quite a bit of gathering of the fabric. This might have been because the fabrics I used were thicker than my last quilt, or maybe because I was quilting more lines but I realised I really need to give my free motion embroidering foot a go for this.  And maybe ask for a walking foot for my Christmas! I've also realised you get special needles for machine quilting, and special threads, so I'll try these out too. Always so many things to learn! If anyone has any tips I'd love to hear them as I'm such a beginner to quilt making! Also if anyone has any particular quilt designers or artists they like please let me know as I'm having such a great time finding out more about improvised quilting, the history of quilt making, and all the different artists out there working in quilts.

Machine quilting

Friday, 5 August 2016

Inari Tee dress

Inari tee dress, Named Patterns

In between sewing for others - clothes and quilts - I've also been sewing for myself too! First up is my new favourite make (well asides from my Brumby which I wear ALL the time!).  Do you recognise this pattern yet? Of course, it's yet another version of the Inari tee dress from Named Patterns! When this pattern first came out I wasn't so sure I needed another dartless shift dress pattern but the more versions of it I saw the more I fancied giving it a try myself.

Well, thanks to a gift from a friend, I now had the chance! This fabric had been sitting in my stash for about 4/5 years, I'm assuming it's a rayon but I didn't make a note at the time.  It has been imagined as many things, firstly another McCalls 2401, then the Sewing bee shift dress from Fashion with Fabric, but when I got the Inari I knew it would be the perfect match. I don't profess to be an expert by any means but I think the dress version of this pattern really works best in a drapey fabric like this.

This is the best representation of the vibrant colours of the fabric.

This was made up in small bits of sewing (like most of my sewing) over the course of a few weeks. I took my time as I wanted to do all the understitching, finish all the seams etc as I was hoping it would be a success. Which it is! I wore this the weekend I made it and am planning to wear it again tomorrow. I'm so happy with how it turned out and I love the shape of it, love it! In fact I've got plans for another dress, and a cropped tee version!

Details -
Pattern: Inari tee dress, Named Patterns
Size: 10
Fabric & notions: 2 metres of patterned rayon from John Lewis, probably about £10 a metre as I remember thinking it was pricey at the time. Though thinking about it of course it's not really pricey at all given I still have enough left over for a top so I get a dress & top for £20! Thread & interfacing from stash.
Were the instructions clear: Yes. I really liked that it was only a 1cm seam allowance, makes it nice & easy to overlock the edges using the overlock stitch & foot on my Bernina without having to trim first.  I wanted my cuffs to sit nicely and look neat so I understitched them, this isn't in the instructions. I also understitched the neck facing like the instructions say but in addition I used some hidden stitches to keep the facing in place as I get so annoyed by facings that don't stay down. I also added a hand-sewn (not very neatly) bar tack at the top of the side splits.  I didn't get a photo of the side splits but I'll try to get one & add it in as its another feature that makes this pattern so good!
Any changes I'd make next time: Nope, not a thing. Though I would also like to try the cropped top version, maybe not quite as cropped as the pattern pieces!
Total cost: £20

Has anyone else been won over to this pattern after seeing other versions? Or has that happened with other patterns? I've definitely been influenced to buy patterns, and fabric, when I've seen them 'in the wild' so to speak!