Monday, 21 July 2014

Let there be ladybirds!

This is the first bit of clothing I've made in ages. I bought this ladybird fabric some time ago with plans of a shirt dress however it caused some controversy about whether someone now in their thirties should actually be wearing ladybird print... Screw that I like ladybirds, and this is bright and summery, making a freshing change from my usual black wardrobe!

The pattern is self-drafted from scratch some time ago and I've used it countless times! I think I have at least 4 versions of this same dress. They do all look different thanks to fabric pattern, textures, lengths and embellishments which just goes to show how versatile having a well fitting go-to pattern can be.

It is a shirt dress pattern but as I'm not a fan of buttons as closures (sit down and flash everyone through the gaps between buttons) I stitched up securely up the front and put in a long concealed zip down the left side. I had attached a collar originally but felt like Harry Hill so that quickly got unpicked! The hot day also swung the vote in just having nothing around the neck, much cooler.

I was a bit hesitant in putting my face on this photo as I have crazy 'dried naturally in the sun and went weird' hair and no make-up on. That and I'm usually too vain to like any pictures of myself so tend to go for the 'cropped head' approach, but my cousin said I looked like my mum in this pic, and well as she was a fab lady that is a lovely thought indeed so I'll be brave and the pic can stay.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

No need to hide! How to insert a concealed zip

Hello all!

So I've decided to make a return to sewing and blogging after a rather epic break, and what better way to start up the posts again, than with a tutorial! I hope this one will be very helpful to everyone out there - do let me know how you get on.

For some reason people seem to be scared of zips - there really is no need, they are fantastically fun little beasties and despite the teeth - don't bite ;-) I am a massive zip addict.

There are many different ways of inserting zips depending on what you are using them for, but today we're dealing with the elusive concealed or hidden zip. These are fab for skirts and dresses where you don't want any obvious closures/openings to be apparent. The garment will just look like it has seams, all nice and smooth... Concealed zips come in all sizes and colours and they are the ones with no teeth showing, they just look like a strip of tape with a pull tab at the top. I will use contrasting zip and thread to demonstrate where to sew.

Concealed zip
Step 1 - Lay out the pieces

Unlike sewing a seam where you put your fabric together right sides facing, we will be working with the fabric the right way round. The print/good side facing you. Lay out the pieces and zip to see what you are doing.

Step 2 - Pin on the zip

All you need to do know is flip the zip over so the back faces you. Unzip it all the way down. Place the right hand edge of the zip (now upside down) onto the right hand edge of your pattern piece and pin it in place. I tend to mark where stitching will finish with a pin going across the zip. Mark this point about 1cm above where the end of the zip/pull tab now lies.

Step 3 - Stabilise the zip

Ignore this step at your peril!! You now need to take your zipper foot and attach it to your machine. (A zipper foot allows you get get up close and tight to the edge of the zipper teeth for a nice straight line). Sew the tape to the fabric piece BUT just sew straight down the tape, no need to be neat or close to the teeth at this point, this line of stitching is merely for holding the zip in place. If you miss this step out you may find the next step very difficult as the zip will wiggle around all over the show!
Zipper foot

Sew straight down the zip tape, no need to be neat!

Zip is now firmly attached to fabric
 Step 4 - Conceal the zip

Now your zip is secured into place where it needs to be, we can attach it properly for the 'concealment' to occur. Go back to the top of the zip and get it secured under the needle with a few stitches. Now you're ready to go. A concealed zip has teeth which curl under the tape. You need to peel back the tape with your nail or finger to reveal a little sewing channel. Keeping a finger pressing the zip tape back revealing the channel, sew a line all the down to the bottom, being careful not to catch the teeth themselves. Your zipper foot allows you to get right in there.

Press back the teeth to reveal the sewing channel
Sew in the channel
Step 5 - Check it worked!

Trim the loose threads and flip the fabric over. Voila! One side of the zip is complete and can't be seen behind the fabric!

Step 6 - Attach the other side

Now repeat on the other side. Flip the zip again so it's back faces you and attach the far left to the far left of your next fabric piece. Pin, switch sides on your zipper foot, sew the stabilising line and then sew the concealment line. Turn the fabric over and you can now see the zip is in place and not visible from the right side!
Now do the other side - left side to left side
Swap sides on the zipper foot

Zip it up!
Step 7 - Finish the seam

Fold the pieces together, right sides facing as if you would for any seam. There is now a line of stitching where your zip is. Continue from this line to pin the rest of the seam together. Keeping your zipper foot on, stitch the seam from where the zip stitch line ends, to the end of your garment seam. Open the seam up and you're done!

Step 8 - Done!

Flip your garment over to try and admire your handy zip?? :-)

Let me know if this was of any use at all, happy zipping!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Bonjour Gerard mon cher

Hello again!

So after an epic break from sewing I got back into the swing of things last weekend when the urge just took me to make a coat. I had seen this pattern some time ago on the blog of Jolie Bobines - a lady with effortless classic style, and had instantly fancied having a go.

I'd been looking for a similar coat in the shops but to no avail so one weekend when the other half was away  thought I'd just give it a go. The pattern was simple to download and print - and only 6 Euros! 

The pattern pieces overlap so out came the baking paper and I traced my pattern and cut everything out. The sizing chart was very accurate - I should have cut halfway between Medium and Large however knowing it was an 'oversized' style coat just went for Medium.

A trip to Anglia Fashion Fabrics proved fruitful and they were very helpful indeed. I specifically wanted a herringbone fabric in black and white, and they found it for me in folders full of samples! Just by luck as well 2.5 meters were left on the roll, just right! I picked out a fantastic cherry red lining fabric for a bit of contrast.

The pieces were easy to follow and well marked - the handy French/English translation sheet was fantastic as all the pieces are in French. I'm not a stranger to French but had no idea about any technical sewing terms!

The majority of the time to make this coat is spent cutting out and interfacing the pieces. After that the construction of the jacket itself was not too difficult. Bearing in mind that this is the first jacket I have ever properly made the instructions must have been fine. The only scary bits were trying to figure out how to finish off the lapel when you add the facing, and then how to attach the lining to the jacket at the end. After a few quick consultations with You Tube it didn't turn out as challenging as you may expect. The lining is attached all around the front facings and collar facings. Its turned inside out and like magic, there is a jacket! The lining was hand-stitched to the cuffs and bottom of the jacket.

Its a fantastic pattern and so glad I tried it - feeling very proud of my new coat! I would definitely recommend this pattern to try out if anyone fancied a go.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Victory V

I've not had much time for sewing of late but I have yet again returned to the ol' self-drafted stretch jersey dress pattern. (I'll do something else soon I promise!)

I used 'ponte de roma' jersey in navy blue - ponte is a great fabric as its lovely and soft and stretchy, but thicker and sturdier that regular t-shirt jersey. Its a bit more forgiving on the body, not as clingy.

So this time I went for a simple knee length dress, nice for coming spring weather, with sleeves just above the elbow. The entire dress (except for the hem) was done on the overlocker.

The main alteration I made here was to add cuff/bands to the sleeves and also create a bound v-neck.

This is the first time I've had a go at this technique and I'm rather pleased about how simple it turned out to be.

As its jersey and stretchy fabric anyway, the strips for the cuffs and neck binding are just straight strips of fabric (the stretch going across the length) ironed in half.

I wanted to share this great tutorial on HOW TO MAKE A BOUND V NECK. Its another great tutorial from the sewing community on Burdastyle. Incidentally I learnt how to sew completely from that website, its fantastic.

I think it turned out fairly well for a first go - you can see I overshot the stitching at the V but no matter. The same technique was used for the cuffs. The next time I try this I may try doing the band in a contrasting colour - I was thinking and black/white stripe dress with bright accents at the neck and sleeves.

I would highly recommend giving this v-neck method a try, a great bit of ammo for the sewing armoury!

Monday, 13 January 2014

New Year - making the Shift

So fortunately my first main sewing project turned out ok! It usually takes me 2 disasters per wearable outfit so this was a nice surprise.

Its a self drafted pattern - a classic shift dress. I cannot recommend Winifred Aldrich - Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear enough. It's my sewing bible. The instructions are clear and precise, easy to follow and doesn't require mountains of special equipment. I draft my patterns on baking paper! A ruler, calculator and french curve suffice to draw the pattern out.

What I SHOULD have done is make the pattern, then make a muslin for a perfect fit, disassemble and create a fresh pattern from the muslin. But I'm lazy and didn't.

The basic fit without adjustment was fine however I tweaked the bust and waist darts a little to make the fit more accurate.

I've wanted a blue dress for ages then after a clear out of the stash realised I had enough to make a basic dress! Its not lined but it does have an invisible zip, overlocked seams and a neck facing to keep it neat and tidy. I figures a slip underneath would keep tights from sticking, or it would be just fine and light for warmer weather as it is. Plus again, I was being lazy and wanted a finished dress.

The fabric is crepe and has a very slight stretch with is handy for bending and sitting! 

I have used this pattern last year to make a shorter space print 'cosmic shift' (get it!? - geek joke).

Hopefully this can be a good staple pattern for a few more colours - coral for spring perhaps? :-)

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Easy-Peasy Zip-Free Cushion Cover Tutorial

Hello again :)

Having taken the Christmas decs down today and given the living room a clear out I figured we could spruce it up further with some new sofa cushions. These are so quick and easy to make you could have a whole stack of them to change your mind about print every week! I used some robot print from Plush Addict.

This is a real beginners project as it just involves squares and sewing straight lines, the closure doesn't need a zip either but looks neat, sleek and tidy...

You will need:
  • Fabric
  • Cushion inside
  • Thread

I'm using a cushion filler that is 40cm x 40cm, you can get these in Wilkos and various places, about £1.50. This one came with the sofa those so I'm just re-using!

Step 1
Cut out a square of fabric for the front of your cushion. As the cushion is 40x40cm, the square of fabric is 43x43cm (that's because 40cm cushion, with 1.5cm seam allowance on either side = 43cm)

 Step 2
Now cut out the pieces for the back of the cushion, the back consists of 2 rectangles. You want a piece of fabric and 3/4 the length of the front. Actually you need 2 of these. Mine are 43cm across, 30cm down. (These rectangles get placed over each other and create an envelope style flap where the cushion filling can be inserted and removed).
1 front square, 2 back rectangles
Step 3
Hem one long edge on each of the back rectangles. As you will be able to see these turn a edge down about 1.5cm and sew it down to form a nice neat edge.

Step 4
Now we can assemble the cushion cover for sewing. The fabric should be placed together RIGHT SIDES FACING. The easiest way to do this is have your front piece on the table with the print the right way up and looking at you. Take one of the rectangles and line it up with the top edge of the front fabric, with the neat hemmed edge resting in the middle of the front piece print. (You should be looking at the back side of the rectangle, hard to show in the pics as I used black. If its print, the print should be right side facing inwards).
Line up back rectangle with hemmed edge in centre
Step 5
Place the second rectangle on the bottom. This will now overlap with the top piece forming a flap.

Bottom rectangle now placed over the top
Step 6
Pin all the way around the edge! No gaps needed just go for it :-)
Step 7
Sew all around! I went for the over locker so it created a neat finish straight away. You can use an ordinary machine, sew your edges 1.5cm in. If you don't want to neaten the raw edges don't worry about it, no-one will see them!
Step 8You now have your sewn up cushion cover! Cut the loose threads from the end and turn it inside out (the right way round!)

Step 9
Stuff it with your cushion filler! VoilĂ , one fab new sofa cushion....!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Fox Satchel

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope everyone had a good break and rest over the holidays. I thought I would now share one of the items I handmade as a gift this Christmas for my that she has unwrapped it its ok to post!

She actually picked out this fantastic fox print fabric a few months ago and after hunting high and low I managed to find some through a seller on Etsy called FreshFabrics. Considering it came from Australia it was very reasonably priced and arrived in only a few days!

I drafted the pattern myself, its basically just a set of rectangles. This one needed to be big enough to fit some lever arch binders in so went for a full size satchel.

I first started by cutting out all the pieces, outer fabric, lining fabric and interfacing for strength.


Then it was just a case of assembling the whole thing. I attached the flap piece to the back piece and from there sewed up the rest of the outer pieces to form the 'boxy' shape of the satchel and just repeated the whole process with lining, effectively having 2 identical items. For the lining I added a phone pocket and zip compartment as well for detail.

Lining of the satchel
Once both inner and outer were complete, I turned one inside out in order to attach it to the other. Sew all around the edges leaving a portion open for turning out et voila.

I then hand stitched the gap that remained from turning inside out and went on to put the details. I found some fantastic leather buckles from Bag Clasps UK who sell all kinds of great bag making tools and equipment. I attached these to the front of the bag for the closures and also added D rings to each side of the bag to make a place for the leather strap to attach.  .

D rings

Leather buckles added

For the finishing touch I found a great seller on Ebay who makes made to measure leather bag straps. I don't have a photo with the strap attached but it was fantastic quality in matt black leather.
I hope my sis likes it and gets some use from it! :-)