Friday, 11 April 2014
Thursday, 10 April 2014
Like many a sewing enthusiast I really enjoyed watching the Great British Sewing Bee and had no idea who was going to win until they made the announcement. I couldn’t decide If I was routing for Heather or Chinelo. I am so jealous of Chinelo’s ability to cut patterns freehand, but pleased to see that the most experienced sewer won in the end. This is probably due to the fact that like Heather I like to sew simple patterns and try to do them well- not always successfully. I know I would fail stupendouslytrying to sew a gown in 7 hours, the thought of sewing to a deadline fills me with terror, but I wonder if I would be a better seamstress if I challenged myself with different types of projects?
Watching the contestants tackle the tasks in such different ways made me think what it important to me as a sewer and what parts of constructing a garment I enjoy most. Most of the contestants had such strong sewing personalities which they seemed to battle throughout the show- I think many of our hearts went out to Chinelo struggling with the tie pattern and I felt a personal sense of alarm when Tamara whipped out the glue gun on couture week!
I have been making more and more of my own patterns and developing my hand sewing techniques. I enjoy having a hand-sewn garment made to my measurements. The time consuming nature means I am increasing drawn to using quality fabrics that will produce long-lasting clothes. It is much more methodical and as a result I enjoy making toiles and pressing seams much more – both of which I used to find dull. I get a great sense of achievement knowing that a garment is emerging solely due to my time, effort and sewing skills.
There is a flip side in that I rarely let my imagination run whilst making something and always start with a pen and paper.I rarely refashion garments. I am never going to have an imagination like Tamara, but I think draping may be a good way to get the creative juices flowing a bit more freely.
Food for thought
Sunday, 6 April 2014
Saturday, 4 January 2014
|Kim Hargreave's logan dress|
It has been a while since I have blogged about knitting, which has taken a back seat to sewing lately. This dress is most deserving of the first post of 2014. I finished this Kim Hargreaves design from her Shadows collection just before Christmas, which was an absolute necessity as I was given the wool for Christmas 2012.
I substituted the yarn from the recommended wool and I was concerned that the pure wool aran would be a little bit bulky and it probably is, but it does have the advantage if being extremely warm and machine washable.
The pattern was simple and easy to follow, although I made a big mistake on my tension square which gives the number of stitches per 10 cm squared "when slightly stretched". Mine and Kim Hargreaves version of slightly stretched must be quite different, yet I failed to realise my mistake until I had knitted the front, back and most of one sleeve. It was huge and the whole lot had to be frogged and knitted again. Soul destroying, but I ploughed on through the misery and I love the end result, I just hope the frogged wool won't bobble up too much.
I think the next project will have to be something I can whip up quickly in a chunky yarn.
Sunday, 27 October 2013
|dress + my lovely husband.|
Photograph courtesy of Belinda Lawley (belindalawley.com)
I had planned to detail the construction method on this blog, but there is too much and little of it is probably useful. Instead I thought it would be useful to list some tips of working with bias silk as I struggled to find much information looking at fellow blogs, youtube and even books. Claire Shaeffers book had some tips that were useful, but mainly I had to paste together tidbits from here and there and use trial and error. Below I have detailed some of the techniques I used which I found helpful and highlighted where I struggled. I don't profess to know everything, but if you are thinking about sewing on the bias they might come in handy.
With bias sewing is the fabric has to be on grain to prevent bumpy seams and the fabric twisting and warping uncomfortably. Make sure you find the cross-grain by snipping and tearing or loosening a single thread and cutting along the line it leaves. My fabric was very tightly woven and so I had to use the tearing method. Anyone else a bit terrified of working with expensive fabric, I tried loosening a thread, but it was impossible.
Once I had found the grain I secured my fabric to the cutting surface (the floor for me) to prevent it from moving whilst pinning and cutting. Placing the cutting board underneath the fabric and lay the selvage edge along one of the floorboards, but you could use the edge of the table, and secured it with parcel tape. I then gently smoothed the fabric and secured the fabric on the other selvage edge and each end, taking care not to stretch the fabric.
I used a protractor to check the pattern pieces were neatly on grain and cut the pieces using a rotary cutter. Always use a single layer of fabric, it will be impossible to ensure the fabric is on grain if you double it over.
When bias pattern pieces meet at the seam it is necessary that the lengthwise and crosswise grains are running towards each other and meeting at the seam. This is because the lengthwise grain will stretch more than the crosswise and if they are not aligned the seam will stretch and warp out of shape. This article from threads magazine explains it better than I have, but the key thing to remember is when laying your pattern pieces out, the pieces for the left side should be at a 90 degree angle to those on the right side of the body. Many bias garments have a centre front and centre back seam to prevent the lengthwise grain dominating one side of the garment. I was determined to avoid this in my pattern and did not have any problems in cutting full pattern pieces. I think this was mainly as the fabric I was using was so tightly woven that it did not slip off grain that easily. It was so tightly woven that it was difficult to get a pin through it at times.
With the toile I tried stabilising the fabric with tissue paper to prevent the fabric slipping out of shape, but when I tried to remove it it became stuck in the seams, leaving a dress that rustled when I moved- not quite the sound I was going for. With the actual dress, I included the seam line on the pattern pieces and thread-traced all the seam lines, so I could be confident that my seams were correctly aligned. When sewing bias seams, Claire Shaeffer recommends stretching the seams as you go and pressing flat to prevent rippled seams and this did the trick for me.
When designing the pattern in calico, the back collar stood proud easily and I thought that it would need some kind of interfacing to support it. For the toile I cut the collar on the straight grain and interfaced with heavy calico, but the collar pointed upwards and any creases created a bumpy drape (see picture below). For the final dress I cut the collar on the bias and used stiff crinoline in the hope that this would work better, but it was even worse and I began to despair. Luckily I removed the crinoline, preparing to investigate alternatives and the collar draped perfectly on its own. A good reminder to work with the fabric not against it.
I failed in adding any type of fastening to this dress. Without a back seam the only option was to put the zipper in the cured side seam. I tried this with the toile and it was as much of a disaster as I expected- it was bumpy and looked just awful. Claire Shaeffers book recommends avoiding zips in bias seams and suggests slashing the fabric if you really must. I did not want to have to stabilise the zip as I was sure that the extra bulk would ruin the drape of the dress. Fortunately I was able to get the dress on over my head without any opening ad could forego the zip altogether. The only feasible alternative would have been to slash a seam down the back and insert the zip there. However this would have been a bit difficult with the back collar and I was glad I was able to avoid it. I will have to conquer this technique another day. Any recommendations are welcome.
I finished all seams by pressing them open and overcasting each side. Seam finishing is optional on bias garments and in couture pinking is widely used to prevent unnecessary bulk. For some reason I just couldn't pink my wedding dress, but was too scared to leave them completely unfinished. As I was using silk thread which is much finer than cotton, I wasn't too worried about the extra bulk.
I hung the dress for three days before hemming as bias fabric will stretch when hung and worn, my dress grew by two inches! I was lucky that the fabric was quite stable and stretched evenly. After hemming the dress has been stored flat as it will continue to stretch if hung.
I was quite confused when it came to hemming, I didn't want a heavy hem to interfere with the swish of the dress, but wasn't too thrilled about having a rolled hem that would show from the outside. This is a pet hate and I try to use invisible hems where possible. I trialled a rolled hem, a 2 cm hem and a 3 inch hem. I rolled hem had too much body with the heavy fabric as did the 2 cm hem. The three inch hem was softest and when pressed flat was the least noticeable and not at all bulky- Success!
Wednesday, 18 September 2013
I bought this striped linen at the beginning of the summer from Fabrics Galore as part of an unplanned fabric splurge. I was drawn to the dark indigo colour and the crisp shiny finish. I thought it would be well suited to one of the designs from Tomoko Nakamichi's Pattern Magic, which I have yet to try. However my summer was overtaken by wedding planning and all of a sudden it was August and the fabric was at risk of being relegated to the stash until next spring. After all the effort and painstaking hand sewing that went into my wedding dress I needed to do some simpler sewing from commercial patterns to get my wardrobe back on track. This was neatly brought home to me by a friend asking to borrow a dress for a wedding and me providing a shamefully low number of options- What exactly have I been sewing all this time?
So I decided to make Simplicity 2281 with a few modifications. I made this dress in black linen (see here) and it is a dress i wear a lot and I knew I could make in a weekend.
As a side note I did not wash the fabric and plan to dry clean this dress in order to maintain the colour of the dress as linen fades so quickly. This is not usually an issue as it is so easy to dye, but doing so would undoubtedly cover the stripes. Does anyone have a better solution to this problem, as I try not to dry clean if possible?
Monday, 1 July 2013
Sunday, 2 June 2013
Here's the run down.
Day 9: Me-made silk scarf, cowl neck blouse and book bag.
Day 10: Kim Hargreave Glance jumper
Kim Hargreaves Darcy cardigan and silk scarf
Day 19: Simplicity 2250 (pinned up)
Day 20: Simplicity 2281
Day 21: Cowl neck blouse and unblogged wool trousers
Day 22: Vogue 8593
Day 24: Me-made curved hem tee, unblogged.
Day 26: Vogue 1287
Day 29: Simplicity 2281
Day 30: Vogue 8593 and Kim Hargreaves Darcy cardigan
Day 31- LAST DAY! Me-made cowl neck blouse, unblogged.
Tuesday, 21 May 2013
I have been extremely productive, not particularly in the area of blogging, but it is surprising how much sewing you can get done when you dedicate every spare moment to it.
I finished my wedding dress in April, bar the hem as I am waiting for my shoes to arrive. I won’t be sharing any pics until after the big day on the 27th July. I moved on to the mother of the bride and maid of honour (sister's) dresses, which I will complete after final fittings this weekend. I haven’t made many dresses for other people and I am really excited to see my mum and sister try them on- I just hope they fit and they love them. The enjoyable thing about making dresses for other people is talking through all the different styles and fabric choices. I could talk about fabric and sewing all day long, so it is nice to have someone listening for once!
My Mum’s dress is Vogue pattern V1108 which I have made in a colour similar to that on the pattern envelope except it is shot with a red thread running across the crosswise grain which gives the green a slightly autumnal feel. I will review the pattern in full in a separate post when the dress is complete.
We started from scratch with my sister’s dress. We played with the idea of a either a trapeze dress or a 50s style dress and the 50s style won out in the end. After a good few pinterest sessions and google searches, we came up with the following design.
We spent a good 4 hours wandering between the fabric shops in Soho and settled on a mint green/turquoise dupion from the Silk Society on Berwick street. The skirt is underlined in silk organza and the bodice is boned to support the off the shoulder design and help nip in the waist. Again I will do a full post after the wedding.
In other news, I am making 70 meters of bunting! I'm about 15 meters in so far.