Pink Paisley-ish Gypsy Top/Dress

Last month I took advantage of being between contracts to catch up on all of my sewing blog posts.  If you’re a subscriber, apologies for the number of emails you received.  Now that I’m up to date, and I’ve started a new contract, I’ll be posting much less frequently.

I also used last month’s free time to clear out my wardrobe and make a plan for what I really need.  I’ve been sewing haphazardly until now, which led to the Walkaway Dress I’m not sure I’ll ever get a chance to wear.  With this plan, I’m hoping that I’ll meet my goal of wearing 100% me-mades during May 2016 (excluding underwear), as well as reducing my fabric stash.

IMG_7013aMy first planned item was Burda Young 6950 (view A), using a pink paisley-ish fabric from my stash.  I need more tops that I can wear when I go out, but that feel comfortable.  I found the gypsy tops that I made recently were flattering, so this seemed like a good option.  I made the longer version for more coverage, and this length will probably work well for me as a dress too.

I decided to take things more slowly than usual, to try to improve the quality of my end garment and avoid silly mistakes.  I still managed to sew the top portion to the bottom inside out (I’m getting pretty good at unpicking), but other than that, it came together nicely and I’m really pleased with the results.

I’d be happy to wear this top/dress with jeans or leggings, and perhaps even as a dress with tights, as I kept it nice and long. I should get plenty of wear out of it.  I think I’ll be considering this as another TNT pattern, although this is the only one I’ve made and I probably won’t make another for a while.  I think I have enough gypsy-style tops for now.

One thing that I’ve started doing while sewing, is listening to podcasts.  I find that it helps me to keep my sewing speed down; if I go to fast I can’t hear the podcast.  This is especially helpful when I’m getting near the end of the project and I get the urge to rush to finish it.  At the moment, I’m working my way through ‘Happier with Gretchen Rubin’ on iTunes, which I would definitely recommend.

My next two projects will probably be PJ bottoms, to replace some that have worn out, even though the tops are still in good condition.  I’m not sure when I’ll get time for this though, now I’m back at work.  I’ll just keep trying to fit it in where I can.

Jx

Black and Red Stripy T-Shirts

I have spent a couple of months searching the internet for red and black striped knit fabric – one to one and half inch horizontal stripes – with no success.  I wouldn’t have thought it would be such an impossible fabric to find.  My last resort was to have it specially printed, although this seemed like a lot of work to go to for such a simple pattern.

T-Shirt 1I started with ‘Spoonflower’ which appears to be the front runner for printing your own fabrics.  It was simple enough to create the design and upload it, but I had to buy 2 yards, as I needed just over 1 metre for the t-shirt and you have to buy to the nearest full yard.  Then there was international postage costs to the UK, and I was hit with a tax charge when I picked it up at the sorting office.  They were unable to deliver it directly due to this additional charge. This is definitely the most expensive fabric I had ever bought.  All included it came to approx. £60.  The fabric was a thin jersey, but it was okay for the t-shirt.  The red came out a little brighter than I expected, but that’s hard to account for without ordering colour samples first.

T-shirt 2After receiving this fabric and needing to pay the extra tax charge, I thought I’d look into UK based alternatives.  I tried out ‘Bags of Love’ and I was very impressed. It took me a little time to figure out how to upload and order the fabric I wanted, but you can order an exact size of fabric required (length and width), which helps to keep the costs down.  I ordered the medium weight jersey and it was a lovely fabric. From my experience with the colours of the Spoonflower fabric I darkened the red stripe, and it came out exactly as I wanted.  The cost of fabric and delivery came to approx. £45, so it was quite a lot cheaper than Spoonflower. Since I’d ordered the exact size of fabric I wanted, there were no fabric remnants left, which was great.  I’d only end up hoarding them, and what can you do with small amounts of jersey fabric?

Here are photos of the two t-shirts made using Simplicity 2116 again, like the Black and Beige T-Shirt.  The construction was very similar to the first one, except this time I made sure I put the neck band in the right way around first time.   Jez and I are very happy with both t-shirts and I’ll definitely use ‘Bags of Love’ should I need/want fabric printing again.

Jx

Pink Scottie Dog Walkaway Dress

I am a member of the Minerva Crafts ‘Craft Club’ and each month they send through a discount voucher for a particular item in their online shop.  One of these was for the ‘Walkaway Dress’ (aka Butterick 4790) as made famous on the last Great British Sewing Bee.  I love 1950s fashion and so I thought I’d give it a go.

Walk Away DressA ridiculous amount of fabric and black biased binding later I had a 1950s walkaway dress ready for trying on.  Due to the amount of fabric needed it just wasn’t feasible to made a toile, but with hindsight I should have made the bodice at least.

When I tried on the dress I found that the armholes gaped indecently and the bodice was too long.  The press studs on the front wouldn’t hold closed and the front part of the skirt had a tendency to ride up in just the few minutes I was wearing it.  I hated it.  I put it to one side and got on with other projects, not sure if I would come back to it.

A few weeks later, I was feeling ready to look at the walkaway dress again.  I added in another dart to each side of the bodice and exchanged the fake buttons and press studs for real buttons and button holes.  I then hemmed the bottom of the dress to finish it off.  I’m still not feeling too happy with it, although it is now wearable, but I think that’s partly to do with the ordeal of making it and that I don’t wear dresses or skirts very often.  Perhaps I just need to get used to it.  I do think the shape is flattering though, showing that I have a waist, so I may see if there are other similar patterns I can try.

I’ll see if time makes me feel any warmer towards it, but I can’t imagine making another one.  I have learnt a lesson about toiles for bodices though.  I think I was simply very lucky with the fit of the first blouse pattern I made.

Jx

Pirate Tote Bag

Bag1Before I started making clothes, I used to make tote bags.  They were a simple design that was easy to repeat and to customise with all kinds of applique, some simpler than others – like my current music book bag, which is a design cut from a favorite worn out t-shirt.  I use this bag to carry around all my ukulele music books, many of them created by my boyfriend (such as ‘Ukulele! – The Strummers Guide‘ available on Lulu and Amazon.  All profits go to Save the Children).  My boyfriend asked if I could make him a manly version of this bag, so he can carry around his books too.

I started with the red twill that was left over from his Monkee’s shirt and added a black and white musical note lining.  I hadn’t mad one of these bags for a while so it took a little longer than it used to, but it was soon complete …then I noticed that the straps were sewn in the wrong way round!   I really do need to take a little more care.

Bag 2Quite understandably, my boyfriend asked if I could turn them around, and while I had the lining detached I was able to add an applique design.  Jez drew a skull and cross bones pattern, which I cut it out of the red twill and sewed onto a square of the musical fabric ready to attach to the bag.

It worked out really well in the end and I have plans to make another bag with a ukulele design on, to hold the books we have for sale.

Jx

Two More Gypsy Tops

After my success with my Green Paisley Gypsy Top, I decided to make two more using the Butterick B4684 pattern.  Again, I used view A, with the elastic under the bust as in view D, and finding the position of the elastic was a doddle with my method of turning it inside out and drawing on it.  Perfect!

B&W Gypsy TopFor the Black and White Gypsy Top, I used some fabric from B&M Fabrics on Leeds Kirkgate market.  I think this is where much of my stash fabric has come from, but now I’ve signed up to their Facebook page I can also see when they get new fabric in.  There is a great selection in the market and in their new shop on the outside of the market building.  They are really friendly and very happy to help.  I managed to avoid my problems last time hemming around a curve by using some biased binding along the bottom edge.  It was much easier and gave a much better finish.

I tried to make this in one day, but I ran out of black lace and had to order more from Minerva Crafts.  It arrived quickly though, so I was able to finish it within the week.

Purple Gypsy TopThe Purple Gingham Gypsy Top was made to wear instead of my several RTW plaid shirts when playing with my band ‘The Skiffle Skunks’.  It has a nice country feel and is comfortable to wear while playing and singing.  I didn’t have any appropriate biased binding to use, so I did a scrappy hem on the bottom edge.  It looks okay from the outside, but I know there is a mess inside.  Next time I make this top, I might use it as a good reason to try making my own biased binding for the first time.

I think that there will be more of these TNT patterns in my future, especially for gigging in.

Jx

Black and Beige Stripy T-Shirt

B&W T-shirtAfter my success with his Monkee’s shirt, my boyfriend asked if I could make him a stripy t-shirt.  He’s quite particular about his stripes and hasn’t been able to find any t-shirts he likes for a while.

I wasn’t sure about making something as classic as a t-shirt, but thought I’d give it a go.  I ordered some black and beige stripy knit fabric from Minerva Crafts and I was very pleased with the feel of it when it arrived.  The pattern I picked for this was actually a pyjama top pattern which looked like it would be simple to make (Simplicity 2116).

The cutting out took quite a while as I tried to make sure that the stripes matched on the folded fabric.  The stripe matching along the sides worked out well in the end – not perfect, but good enough.

The big problem I had was with the ribbed collar.  I used my overlocker for all the seams including the collar, and as I was sewing it felt like it was going in beautifully.  I’d never done this before, but I was following some advice I’d found online about stretching the ribbed fabric as I sewed it in, after lots of pinning to make sure it was evenly distributed around the neckline.  As I looked at the completed neck band, which was lying beautifully flat with no puckers, I realised that I’d sewn it in inside out! Bugger! I managed to keep calm and after unpicking it, which took ages with the overlocking, I sewed it in again the other way around.  Not quite as good as the first time, but good enough.

In the end, Jez was really pleased with it and has set me the task of finding some red and black fabric to make him a Dennis the Menace style t-shirt (or two).

Jx

Green Paisley Gypsy Top

Green Gypsy TopYears ago I had a pink paisley gypsy top that I wore until it fell apart.  I’ve always wanted another, but I haven’t been able to find one.  Now I’m sewing again this seemed like a great idea for a project.

The Butterick B4684 pattern view A, with the elastic under the bust that is in view D, looked like a good place to start.  The fabric that I decided to use for the wearable toile is a green paisley pattern from my stash.

I found it a nice relaxing project and loved adding the lace to the neck line using my overlocker.  It made it really simple to get a neat finish on the inside.  The only problems I had were trying to do a curved hem at the bottom edges and getting the placement of the under bust elastic right.  I had to unpick the original channel that I’d sewn in.  It took a long time to find the stitches to unpick among the overlock stitch I’d used on the edge of the fabric making up the channel, without damaging the top.  I found that the best way to find the correct placement for the new channel, was to put the top on inside out and draw a line with tailor’s chalk where I wanted the elastic to fall.  I added a slight upward curve in the centre front to ensure I didn’t have too much bagging in the centre.  It worked a treat.

I was really pleased with the finished item and it was definitely wearable.  I think I’m well on my way to another TNT pattern.

Jx

Red Monkee’s Shirt

monkeesMy boyfriend is an amazing musician who loves the music of the 1960s, as well as many other genres.  He has always wanted a Monkee’s shirt, but has never been able to find one.  I’ve googled for them and they are really hard to find.  There are some hand-made ones available online, but they are very expensive and tend to ship to the US only …so I decided to have a go myself.

Jez wanted to be involved in the design process to ensure that it was a close as possible to the originals.  He found me some photos online and stills from his Monkee’s DVDs, so we could look at the shirts in detail.  We quickly noticed that there seemed to be several styles of shirts.  Some had the button up fronts, while others were worn open, and there were several lengths.  The key features were the eight button front bib, three button cuffs and square bottom hem with side splits.  We took our time finding just the right buttons for both the front and the cuff.Monkee's Shirt

The original Monkee’s shirts were designed by Gene Ashman, and as they were inspired by the shirt John Wayne wore in many of his movies, a western shirt seemed like a good place to start.  I used the Eagles View Western Bib Shirt and cut out size XL.  I made a very quick toile, for fitting and to test the making of the v-neck, collar and the sleeve cuffs – I’d never made sleeve cuffs before.  Then, I just worked my way through the instructions on the pattern for everything except for the bib. I simply sewed together two rectangles of fabric for the bib, after completing the rest of the shirt, so we could judge the correct size more easily.

Monkee's Shirt (in action)The fabric I used was a red twill, and the thickness made turning the collar and cuffs out and getting sharp corners quite difficult.  When I was creating the button holes on the cuffs I realised that I should have removed more thickness from the seams, as I had quite a bit of trouble getting the automatic buttonhole foot to work correctly due to the fabric bulk.  I’ll note that for future and probably use thinner fabric too, although this shirt will be really hard-wearing and last a long time.  We were both pleased with the results in the end, but I think I’ll wait a little while before I make another.

How many Monkee’s shirts does one musician need?

Jx

Red Knit T-Shirt

Red T-ShirtDo you remember the Purple and Green Scribble T-Shirt that I made back in September 2014?  I have finally returned to this pattern and attempted to adjust it to create a more flattering t-shirt.  It might even be something that I’d dare to wear out of the house.

I had some red knit fabric in my stash that I thought I could use for this.  It was a little thinner than I’d have liked, but it was ok for another wearable toile.

I tried on the Purple and Green Scribble T-Shirt and pinned away the gaping at the arm holes and the neck line.  Then I adjusted the pattern pieces to be closer to these shapes and added some extra length.

I quickly whizzed it together with my overlocker and did some double needled hemming on my sewing machine.  Ta da!  I have another t-shirt that will never venture out of the house.  It is better than the previous one, but still not good enough for public display.  The fabric was slippery to sew and the neck line has ended up a bit skewed.

I think I’ve learned my lesson for now.  I should stick with patterns drafted by people who know what they are doing …for now anyway!

Jx

Musical Christmas Blouse

BlousamundoOne of my favourite Christmas gifts this year was some gorgeous musical fabric, from my boyfriend.  He thought it would be a good fabric to make another of my McCalls M6036 blouses and I couldn’t wait to get started.  I picked up some buttons and got to work.

There isn’t too much to say about the sewing, as I’ve blogged about this pattern twice before, only that it is proving to be a great TNT pattern.  Unsurprisingly, I completed this one quicker than my other two, even taking into account the time used to neaten the seams with my overlocker.  This was the first time that I’d used the overlocker on a garment and I was really pleased with the results, although it was very scary finishing that first seam – cutting and sewing at the same time, oh my!

Well, I ended up with another great blouse.

Jx