Friday, 14 October 2016

Pattern Review Sewing Bee Round 2 -Megan Nielsen Brumby Skirt

Well those lovely pink shorts got me through to Round 2 of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee. I was so pleased to get through as there were so many brilliant entries! I was holding off publishing this post as I wanted to get some better photos but each time I've worn this skirt since I've forgotten to take photos so I'm hitting Publish anyway!
Round 2 was another step outside my comfort zone.  This was the challenge -
You will have one week (starting 9/14/2016) to cut, sew and photograph a garment made using fabric cut on the bias (45 degree angle).
I had never sewn anything on the bias before, though I've certainly made plenty bias binding but that doesn't really count. My immediate thought was to make the top from the Rachel Comey Vogue 1247 pattern as I'd been wanting to make it for years and thought it was all cut on the bias. However when I looked at it I realised only one of the panels was cut on the bias. I could have altered it to cut them all on the bias but I wasn't feeling too confident about using a new-to-me pattern along with new-to-me sewing skills so I settled on something I'd made before.  If you've read my last post you'll know what I used - yes, it's another Brumby!

My first fabric choice was a beautiful striped cotton from Faberwood but, after cutting out the first piece and trying to match the stripes to cut the second front panel I decided it wasn't going to work. the stripes were too irregular and it would just have looked like I didn't know how to stripe match. Luckily I also had 2 metres of this gorgeous voile and 2 metres of blue lining that matched perfectly. I don't remember how much the voile cost except that I bought it at Ray Stitch on a day when they had a percentage off all fabrics. But I'd guess it cost me about £20 for the 2 metres. The lining fabric is from Truro Fabrics and cost £19.20 for 2 metres. I bought this years ago with something else in mind but never used it, luckily! It is a really nice lining fabric, much easier to sew with than the last pricey lining I bought, a Bremsilk cupro, and I'll definitely be going back to the Truro website to order more next time I need some lining.
This Threads Magazine article was highlighted by a number of helpful participants in the Pattern Review discussion board and it was very useful too. Again I have to say, if you don't already use the Pattern Review website it really is a brilliant resource for tips and advice, everyone is friendly and very helpful.  You can see all the wonderful entries for Round 2 of the Sewing Bee here, though I'm not sure how long they will stay up for.
I didn't make it through to Round 3 - which isn't surprising given the high standard of the other entries - but I had such good fun taking part!  And I came out with a beautiful skirt that has already had lots of wear.

Here is my review from the competition -

Sewing Bee Round 2 - A Bias Garment Pattern or style, and how it fits the criteria: A gathered skirt with deep scoop pockets and a contoured waistband. This was made for myself. I cut the two main front pieces and the two back pieces on the bias. I chose to add a lining as the main fabric was very sheer. The pocket facing, lining and waistband are cut on the straight grain. The lining pieces were also cut as two front pieces & two back pieces.

Fabric used - material and yardage: Voile fabric by Anna Maria Horner, called 'innocent crush'. 2 metres. The lining fabric is a tri-acetate/polyamide blend and I had 2 metres.

What other components did you use in your garment (closures, pockets, trim, etc): Two big front pockets which I topstitched. Centred zip. The pattern suggests an exposed zip, which I used on my last version. However I have read that the best zip technique to use on bias for a first try is a centred zip so that's what I went with!

Describe how the bias grain was used in your entry, and why:
This pattern has two separate main front & back pieces, with additional pocket facing pieces on the front. I decided to cut the main front & back pieces on the bias because I thought the striped fabric would look brilliant if used to make a chevron. I also thought the added drape from the bias cut might counter the volume of the gathers though it doesn't seem to have made much difference to this, probably because I added a lining. For added contrast I cut the pocket facing & waistband on the straight grain so the stripes go in different directions, vertically on the waistband & horizontally on the pockets. The pocket lining was cut on the straight grain from the lining fabric, as was the waistband facing. I have lined this skirt as the voile is quite sheer. I cut the lining on the bias as well.
Before cutting on the bias I marked up my pattern pieces with the bias grain (following this brilliant tutorial by Liz at Zildred Loh). I have showed my marked pattern pieces in the photo which also shows the fabric being cut on the bias.

Matching stripes on the bias

I made sure to make sure that my front and back pieces made chevrons at the side as down the middle. Likewise with the lining I made sure that the Grainline made a chevron in the middle and at the sides.

Describe the fitting technique(s) you used to achieve shaping:
I've made this skirt twice before so spent some time perfecting the fit on those two. First time round I cut a size S initially then thought the waist was too tight so recut the waistband in a M. It fits but is a bit loose. Second time I cut a size S for waistband and skirt pieces and it fits pretty perfectly though to be on this safe side here I used a 1cm seam allowance on the waistband pieces to give a bit of extra room. I added 1/2" to the side seams and 1" to the hems of the main pattern pieces as I've read that this is advised to allow for the fabric stretching and I also wanted this to be slightly longer than my last version.

Have you included at least 3 pictures, including minimum one on a live model and one photo showing the bias grain? Yes.

Describe what you like most about your entry: Where to start?! I love that taking part in the sewing bee pushed me to try sewing on the bias for the first time. I'm so pleased with the effect of the chevrons and how well I've matched them up - this was pretty painstaking with lots of pinning and hand basting of each seam. I love how luxurious the fabrics feel and how they swish and move around, it feels like a very special skirt!

Describe your biggest challenge in sewing this bias garment: I've never sewn bias cut fabric before, or altered the grain on a pattern so every step was a challenge and a great opportunity to learn something new.
I think the biggest challenge though was matching up all the stripes to make the chevrons. Once I'd cut out my first front piece I then laid this on the fabric to match up the chevrons to cut my second front piece (photo included). Then I did the same matching with both the back pieces, matching them to each other and to the corresponding front piece. In addition I forgot to add the extra seam allowances on my second front piece and had to recut it. Luckily I had enough fabric.

Stripe matching chevrons

That challenge was closely followed by the challenge of sewing an even hem. I decided to machine stitch the hem and did a small hem, basting at a 1/4", folding, then again at 1/8" & folding then trimming the excess, then folding it under and stitching with an ordinary stitch length. (I used this tutorial for the hem)
What other information would you like to share about this project and your process?

As the pockets were cut on the straight grain, to give contrasting stripe direction, I stay-stitched the pockets before sewing the curve of the straight grain to the curve of the bias. You can see the shape of the pockets in the photos - they're big!!

I hand basted & pinned the seams, sewed every seam and the zip from bottom to top, and used a small zig zag stitch on the seams. There are conflicting views about stretching bias seams when sewing, I didn't stretch mine as wanted my stripes to match perfectly.
Pinked all my seams as I thought overlocking using the stitch on my sewing machine would distort them. I hand stitched the waistband facing down on the inside.
I am so pleased with this skirt and with myself for sewing my first item cut on the bias! I feel I've learned so much through this project: patience, when cutting bias pieces & matching stripes as chevrons; how to alter pattern pieces to show the bias; how to sew bias cut fabric, with this fabric a very small zig zag stitch & no stretching of the seam; a new hemming technique; and this skirt looks as neat inside as out. Thanks pattern review for pushing me out of my comfort zone!