Sunday, 11 June 2017

Lined Waistcoats

Good Morning to all my faithful readers. I'm back from our 12 week travels in Australia, recovered from jet lag and back in my sewing room that I SSOOOoooooo missed while we were away. My sewing room was the first place I made for when we got home, even before putting the kettle on!! It was great to put a weekly update of our journey but now I'm back to blogging about sewing.

My first make was really a continuation of where I was before we set off. That is my new direction into a more tailored look, jackets with linings and to add to this a more everyday garment that suits our on off summer weather - a Waistcoat.
It took a lot of research to find the look I was after, I wanted it fairly fitted but longish. I didn't want a bolero style or collared masculine look. Neither did I want a straight long boxy shape. After finding an old Burda Style design in the very first copy of this magazine that I bought back in December 2012 which I modified with my SFD Body Blueprint, I had the idea on paper.

First I made a muslin from an old sheet to check the fit. This turned out pretty well so I went ahead and cut out the pattern in some blue fabric I had left over from a recent pair of trousers and added the lining from my stash.

I had all sorts of issues with this version. First of all I made the mistake of sewing the shoulders and the side seams of both the fabric and the lining. Big Mistake!! The easiest way to make a lined waistcoat is to sew ONLY the shoulder seams of both lining and outer after all darts etc have been sewn. Then after pulling the garment through the shoulder seams to the right side it's now easy to sew the side seams from the outer fabric right up and on through the lining seam, leaving a gap in one lining side to turn the garment back to the inside to sew the hem.


The end result was a wearable muslin but somewhere along the way the fit was no longer as perfect as the original muslin. I can wear it as a loose garment but no way could I button it up. I also felt it would have benefited from some welt pockets.

So with some stretch denim left over from my Valentine Jeans, I set about making a much improved version. I am so delighted that at last I have not only learned how to do welt pockets but they no longer scare me. I have used a method I found in a Palmer/Pletsch 'no fail' jacket pattern and it works so well for me every time.

I also tweaked the fit and now I can add buttons that do up comfortably but the waistcoat also feels fine unbuttoned.

Monday, 13 February 2017

My Valentine Jeans

Why Valentine? Well this is February and they have a red rose on the back pockets...

 So first off my back side to view the embroidery in all its glory..
There isn't much to say about these jeans except they are so comfortable to wear. The fabric was purchased  during a visit to Goldhawk Road. I found it at the very back in the cellar of a shop which seemed to go down into the bowels of the earth but brought forth this fabulous medium weight stretch denim in a deep purple colour which has come out well in the photos.

Here is a short video [with no sound] to show them in action.


I used my usual SFD jeans sloper that I have made many times before and that I know fits well so made in a very quick time.

It did throw up a bit of a question though. When I made my husband's jeans he asked me to copy his favourite Levi's. Now I've always made mine by sewing the outside seams and top stitching before sewing the inside seams but I noticed on his it is the inside seam that has the double top stitching. So which is correct and why?

I personally like the fact that the side seams that go up to the waistband add extra strength to the seams that may have to take stress whereas the inside leg seams don't take as much! I also like the top stitching to show but then I'm probably a bit of a show-off - don't answer that!


My next blog will be about my new fleece and I have a video to upload for that too.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Three tops to reveal

Today I have three tops I've finished in recent weeks but hadn't got round to photographing.

The first is a pale blue slinky feel stretch fabric that was made totally on my serger so very quick and easy. I just wanted to make a top that would work under the Navy Blue Suit I made and this fits the bill. 

On its own I don't think it's quite right as the very pale colour does nothing for me, I much prefer bolder colours or prints but the black beaded necklace helps.

Next up is this lovely strtiped polo necked top. This fabric had been in my stash for some time but had always frustrated me because it was so off grain. This was such a disappointment because it felt like really good quality stretch fabric.

I decided I'd just line up the pattern to the stripes and see what happened. Again this was quick and easy made entirely on my serger except for the hem which was zig-zagged. I told myself that if it didn't work I'd lost nothing as it would have just stayed in my stash otherwise.
Actually I'm really happy with it and it has washed well with no outward signs of it being off grain so fingers crossed it stays that way. 

I feel the unusual way I laid out the fabric with the sleeves lines going down and the body across makes this a very different design and this will definitely be in the luggage for Australia.

Lastly for this blog is slightly weird. 

The fabric reminds me of the experiments we did in school with oil paints floating on water and making paper that looked like this by dragging it across the surface. I can't remember what this technique is called but it was fun to do.

Another stretch jersey with a high neck but this one has a small zip opening at the back neck to ensure the collar is snug.

Again this top was made specifically to add interest to the Navy Blue Suit mentioned earlier but it turned out differently to the one I had planned.

This has a raglan design so the gathers at the neck edge show the design feature but the collar didn't turn out to look as good as I'd hoped. I should have taken more notice of the pattern of the fabric for the piece I was cutting out. The pattern of the fabric was so random I didn't give it much thought but seeing the photos I think the dominance of black in the particular piece makes it look a bit odd to me. I think I could have chosen better.

The fabric itself was purchased during a visit to my friend in Portugal last year while we were out shopping in Portimao. In fact she picked it out so I think of her every time I wear it.

The sleeves were supposed to have been gathered into a cuff but I tried it on for length before adding them and decided I quite liked the bell shape as they were, so left them.

Coming soon...
I have some super new Valentine jeans for me and a new fleece with some embroidery to show you.

Just over 5 weeks to go now and the Australia Adventure begins.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Mens Designer Jeans

I've made a few pairs of jeans for me but this was my first attempt at making a pair of denim jeans for my husband.

The good news is he agreed to model them for my blog so you get to see him wearing them.

He is over 6ft tall and finds buying the leg length he needs quite difficult unless you want to spend a fortune [which he doesn't].

I had this heavy weight denim in  my stash and I can't remember where I bought it exactly as it's been there for quite a while.

He's quite a plain dresser and didn't want anything fancy on the back pockets so I just copied the design from a pair he already owns.

I'm quite surprised he opted for the gold top stitching but I'm pleased the way it looks as a finished garment. I actually used the ordinary thread double through the needle while the bobbin was just single. This is a super easy trick if you don't have top stitching thread in the right colour.

I did however have enormous battles with my sewing machines especially getting the several layers of fabric to stitch properly over the belt loops on the waistband. The thread kept breaking or the stitching just went completely loopy and I must admit to the occasional bad language to vent my frustration but as I was alone in my sewing room, no-one heard me.

I changed the needle [a jeans needle] three times, re-threaded about 50 times and even tried using my older workhorse machine but nothing worked for long. Having watched the machine very closely and going as slowly as possible the thread always seemed to break at the needle yet there wasn't any undue tension or bumps on the thread and I tried different threads to see if that was the issue but it didn't seem to be.

Eventually I changed the needle for a used Stretch that was supplied with my machine and at last it behaved properly. I also found a trick to get over the really thick places by using the spacer that came with my Husqvarna Viking Ruby to jump the foot smoothly over the fattest bits. What I discovered was that the cheap jeans needles that I got from Lidl's recently were the problem They just didn't fit perfectly. Lesson learned.

These jeans were drafted using my SFD Pants Pattern but with the modifications in the special leaflet from Glenda. This worked well and I did make a muslin first to check.

I used pieces of fabric I recycled from one of his Dad's shirts for the pocket bags to remind him of his father.

Would I make another pair? I feel a bit exhausted right now and can't wait to get back to some selfish sewing with easier fabrics to work with but after a while if this pair proves comfortable and he asks me nicely, I might.

I've actually booked a service for both my sewing machines next week as I think they deserve a bit of TLC don't you?

Next time are some T-shirts I made but haven't got to blog about yet and a fleece for my holiday next month. [It's super lightweight so will not take up much of our luggage allowance.]

Thursday, 19 January 2017

My second Tailored Jacket

I had to prove I could really do it so although making my first jacket was a goal achieved, could I do it again? That was my immediate reaction.

I looked in my stash and found a lovely blue winter weight check that I had initially bought to make my husband a shirt. He didn't like the colour!! He has blue eyes and it would have been fabulous on him but he prefers dull browns so it stayed in my stash until....

It actually looks a lot brighter and better than the picture shows.

I decided this second jacket would be more casual than the suit jacket so this blue plaid would work well enough, I just had to interface every piece to give the fabric a bit of extra structure.

I have a book called 'Make Your Own Clothes' and there is a shawl collared jacket at the very back that would be perfect. The book comes with its own software which allows you to input your own measurements, decide how much seam allowance you want and then print out the pattern on A4 sheets.

I measured the result against my own body sloper and it seemed to be pretty much on target so I used it to make a muslin first and that fitted perfectly so I went ahead with the fabric.

The method I used from the suit jacket pattern by Palmer/Pletsch for the welt pockets was so easy that I followed the same instructions on this jacket but decided to leave out the flap this time. They turned out very well and I've now conquered my fear of welts.

The collar was more tricky even though it should have been easier being a shawl collar. The instructions for this part of the jacket were totally non existent in the book and the pattern pieces just didn't seem to go together at all. I cobbled it as best I could and it looks fine but I'm not sure I did what I was supposed to.

The jacket is lined in a lovely sky blue satin which makes it feel really luxurious when wearing and especially when putting it on or taking it off.

This will definitely be in my holiday suitcase as a jacket to wear with jeans or trousers when dining out for a slightly less casual / holiday outfit.

I have added some temporary black buttons but I don't think they're right so I'm looking for something better.

I have already finished 3 stretch T-Shirt tops to go with the jackets and I shall blog about them very soon.

Friday, 6 January 2017

My first fitted tailored jacket with matching trousers

Wow, I've done it - I've actually made a lined, tailored jacket that fits me.

But first the matching trousers. As you see here in the photos the trousers are the same as many others I've made from my SFD pants body blueprint but the idea to embroider the left leg was to match the jacket.

Here is a close up of the left leg where the embroidery is larger than the lapel design because the larger wouldn't fit on the lapel and the smaller one was so small it looked silly on the leg.

A close up of the right lapel which has two plastic jewels to add a little shine. I wanted something to make this trouser suit unique and to add a designer touch without over cooking it. My desired aim was to have a piece that looked more like a brooch and I think this has been achieved.

The jacket was based around McCall's 8638 a Palmer/Pletsch very old pattern I have had for ages labelled as the 'no fail jacket'. The only problem were the 70s style of shoulders which were way too large and had to be trimmed back to match my SFD body blueprint. The front dart and apex position were also a long way from mine but it was easy to reposition them using SFD.

The instructions were mostly straightforward although having basted the centre lining pleat as directed they never explained when or even if they should be removed!! Strange.

The welt pockets however were a lot easier than I imagined and I would certainly use this method when I next do welts. I am so confident having made them this way that I will not be as terrified when facing this particular feature again.

And now for the short video showing the jacket itself with the smaller version of the embroidery on the right lapel. There is no sound on this video. The pink shirt I am wearing was one I made nearly two years ago so not a recent make.

I am just so pleased with the fit and look of this suit but I haven't even told you the best bit.... I bought this medium weight, inky navy blue suiting fabric from one of my trusted sellers on eBay. I had intended it was going to be a muslin or practice jacket but actually as I put more effort into it, sleeve heads, shoulder pads, the lapel design etc I realised it was perfectly wearable and hence went on to make the matching trousers. I bought 4 metres and have used just about three [enough left over for a possible waiscoat!!] and the cost - £4.00. Yes the whole 4 metres was £4.00 and OK the postage was an extra £3.15 and adding lining, thread and buttons etc the total outfit probably cost a staggering £9.50. Now that's what I call a result.

Now I really must start making my lightweight capsule wardrobe for Australia - just over two months to go and then I'll start blogging about our trip on the Australian Adventure Tab if you'd like to follow along.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Pin stripe trousers and peacock feathers


I am today showing you my latest pair of 'smart' trousers and a blouse I made a few weeks back that I never got round to blogging about.

I bought the trouser fabric recently while on a trip with friends to Winchester. C&H always have a loaded remnant table which is well worth sorting through. I picked up this 1.5 metres of beautiful and unusual pin stripe suiting for just £11.28. It's a medium weight and feels like wool but it handled well and didn't shrink in the prewash. It holds a crease and is soft and warm to wear, ideal for the winter months.

I faced the pockets with fabric and made the pockets from some scrap cotton that was once a duvet cover!

I decided I'd made several pairs of trousers from my original SFD Pants Sloper and it was beginning to look decidedly worn. I thought since my Fit and Sew Retreat a couple of months ago that perhaps it was time to re-evaluate  and redraw a new body blueprint. When I finished I was delighted to see how close the old and new actually were.

I must admit the photos don't do justice to these trousers as I tried to get the camera to focus on my lower half I realise I have tilted the tripod which makes my legs look a lot shorter than they are [I'm 5ft 7in] and the angle has made them look less flattering than in reality.

I am very happy with the fit and feel and have already worn them to a Christmas Function which drew some nice comments that are always a bonus.

I had the peacock feather fabric in my stash for some time and I can't remember where I bought it although it was probably in Nazare, Portugal during our spring trip to the area. I remember falling in love with the print as soon as I saw it and then couldn't quite make up my mind how best to use it.

I eventually made this soft shirt with a faux tie using a pattern I self drafted and made previously here

Although the design I created uses a yoke I tried to match the back so that the design was consistent. 

Here are some photos of the pieces I drafted that make up these trousers. You will also see how I store them in a plastic folder with a piece of fabric to remind me how I used them.

My future projects will focus around our next big adventure. We're off to Australia in Spring 2017 so I need to make a lightweight capsule wardrobe that will travel well. Any ideas?