Wednesday 30 July 2014

A Purple Bronte Top

As soon as I saw the Bronte top from Jennifer Lauren, I knew I had to make it because I had utterly fallen in love with it and I still am. As I'm in strong need of jersey tops to go with all my skirts, the Bronte top is the perfect choice. Because of it's shrug-like shoulder detail it is much more than a basic top. And I like it :)

Excuse these back wrinkles, but the skirt was rotating around and so was the shirt!
Fabric: I used some purple light-weight jersey I bought in Walthamstow market. It was only £1.50/meter. Nonetheless it feels super soft and nice to the skin. I always have a hard time choosing plain fabrics, but this fabric has a pattern knitted into it and I like it so much.

Size: For the bust I cut a size 8 and for the waist/hip a size 10.

Worn together with my Burda flower skirt.
Alterations: I had made a muslin from an old jersey first and that showed me two fitting issues: I needed a swayback adjustment of almost 2" and a square shoulder adjustment. For the swayback adjustment I just took out 2" at the center back tapering to nothing towards the side seam. The shoulder adjustment was a bit more difficult and I ended up tracing the armholes (starting above the notches) and shoulders at a size 10. I then blended from size 10 to size 8 from the shoulders to the neckline. I hope this makes sense. I cut the neckband in size 10.

Construction: Thanks to Jennifers instructions and her sew-along a breeze :) I sewed the whole top on my overlocker and topstitched the hem with a twin needle. It took me only 6 hours from cutting to finishing Bronte. Which is fast for me :)

Embellishments: I used some buttons from my stash. These buttons actually come from Ukraine, where I found them in an old shed. So I gave them a good soak and scrub and now they are like new. But I like the idea that they came from somebody else clothes and have their own history. I might call them vintage buttons, haha.

Buttons from Ukraine.
Have I worn it yet? Once to take the photos on a super hot day. I suppose the fabric is completely made from polyester, because it wasn't breathable at all. But I don't mind in autumn to be a bit more warm! So I like it a lot! I have made already a second one which you will see soon :)

On another note, I'm going to move to Cambridge (UK) in August. So the next time will be stressy and it might become more quit on this blog. I'm even not sure if I can take my sewing machine with me for the first couple of month as I might be living in a flat-share, buh.

Are any of you readers from Cambridge? Can you give me any tips about places to live, fabric shops, sewing communities and want to meet up? I would be happy to hear from you :)

Friday 18 July 2014

Part II of the Outfit Along: The Cardigan

Thanks a lot for all your lovely comments about my Outfit Along Dress. I'm glad you love it as much as I do. As promised, I am going to show you the matching cardigan today - my pink and girly Hetty Cardigan!

Pattern: The Hetty Cardigan from Andi Satterlund. I had the materials for the cardigan at home already and decided to knit Hetty instead of Myrna. Also, both Hetty and the dress have an eyelet pattern, so a perfect match. But Myrna is on my knitting list as well, so you might see it in the near future :)

Wool: Berroco Blackstone Tweet in Wild Rose. I was lucky and got the skeins for 54% off from the Loop Knitting Shop. It was the first time that I knitted with an expensive wool. Being expensive I thought the wool would be of high quality, but there were hard bits entangled in the thread. 

Construction: Me and Hetty were no friends during construction :( Although the lace pattern is really easy, you have to focus quite a lot and when your thoughts slip a moment you easily make mistakes. I had an especially hard time with the 2nd sleeve. Whereas I had no problems with the 1st sleeve, I somehow miscounted the lace pattern on the 2nd one. My lace pattern shifted by 5 stitches and that meant that the beginning of my row started not at stitch one, but somewhere in the middle of the lace pattern. I only realised after having finished the sleeve cap shaping and couldn't convince myself to rip back. In the end I changed the lace pattern slightly for the 2nd sleeve. Luckily, you can't see it and I think nobody is going to stare at my sleeves and count stitches, haha. 

Finishing: I unraveled the neckline and hem line twice, because I was not happy with the fit. In the end I finished the neckline and hem with a stretchy bind-off. I was a bit scared that the hem would stick out from my sway back as happened with my Agatha Cardigan. But it fits perfectly :) To bring out the beautiful lace pattern, I wet blocked the cardigan. It took 2 days for the cardigan to dry and I had a hard time to be patient and wait!

Buttons: I wanted to use some lovely white buttons that I brought from Kiev with me. But I was one short, because I bought the last 7 they had in the shop. The pattern calls for 8 buttons, but I was determined to use only 7. It didn't matter how determined I was, it wouldn't have looked good with seven buttons only (the spacing between the buttons was perfect for 8 but not 7).  As I didn't want to risk a gaping button band, I settled for self-cover buttons in the end. I got the buttons and fabric from Charlie for my Birthday in March (Thanks!) and I'm super happy to finally use them. They are playful and look great with the cardigan :) 

Have I worn it yet? Once, but only inside the house because it was a bit chilly. The weather is so lovely hot in the UK at the moment, that there is really no need to wear cardigans. Instead I finally wear my handmade summer dresses, yeah. The cardigan is a bit scratchy, although it got already a bit softer after its first wash (for the blocking).  

Do I like it? Yes, I finally do :) Seeing it on these pictures makes me happy. It does go perfect with my new sandals, doesn't it?!

I hope everybody is getting on with their projects for the Outfit Along. I for sure can't wait to see all these lovely outfits, color combinations and patterns! Inspiration! I really enjoyed to participate in the Outfit Along 2014. Thanks so much Lauren and Andi for coming up with such an amazing idea. I usually make my cardigans for garments I have already made, but I never planned both before and worked on them simultaneously. 

Saturday 12 July 2014

Part I of the Outfit Along: The Dress

We have amazing 26 degree C in London today, so perfect time to take my Outfit-Along Dress out for a walk! I only finished the zipper and hem this morning - and yes my sewing machine is working again! Apparently, a broken needle caused the bobbin tension to go all crazy and the guy from the sewing shop had to adjust the little screw on the bobbin case. Now she is behaving again :)

Pattern: As most of you might know, I made this dress for the Outfit Along 2014 hosted by Lauren and Andy. I decided to make Simplicity 1803, which is the dress Lauren recommends to make. I could have made another pattern, but I couldn't resist this amazing dress pattern. Actually, when I was fitting the bodice last week with Thea, we realised it is super similar to the Cambie dress from Sewaholic (that's what I was fitting on Thea). So I can cross the Cambie from my to sew list.

Pleats and eyelets.
Fabric: I got this fabric from Leschas mum the last time we went to Kiev. It is an eyelet cotton that was very beautiful to sew with. Because of the eyelet I had to underline the whole dress. I used a off-white cotton lawn I had in my stash for ages. I had only 1.30 m of the eyelet and managed to squeeze the dress out of it, yeah! I had even less from the lawn and thus had to cut the skirt underlining 10 cm shorter.

Alterations: As always, nothing fits me out of the envelope and I had to make two (only!) muslins to get the fit right. The pattern has princess seams, which should be easy to fit. I say should, because that is not the case for me. To avoid tediously fitting the princess seams, I just took the already fitted princess seam pattern from my Simplicity 1882 dress. Luckily, both dresses are armhole princesses and it was easy to transfer the changes. I only had to tweak the princess seams in the first muslin and voila they fitted :)

I also did a sway back adjustment and took out 1" at the centre back seam, tapering to nothing at the side seams. My armholes were also gaping, which meant I had to do a round back adjustment of 3/4" to get that gape closed. Lastly, the side seam was angeling forwards and thus I graded the bodice front to size 12 and the bodice back to size 4 (!) at the waist. It is straight now, yeah! That meant I also cut the skirt back in size 4 and the skirt fronts in 12! This was a bit scary because I was worried the skirt would not fit over my bum. But I hoped that it would fit because the skirt is originally gathered.

Straight side seams and pleats
Construction: I first underlined the whole dress: bodice and skirt. For the skirt underlining, which was 10 cm shorter as the shell, I first finished the hem with my overlocker before stitching it to the shell pieces. I didn't attach the hem, because I wanted it to float freely and not to appear bulky.

I followed Laurens tutorials, which were amazing!!! The pictures are so detailed and great to follow! So if you are going to sew the dress, I can only highly recommend Laurens tutorial! I decided to pleat the skirt as suggested by Lauren. Because of the eyelet fabric the dress looks quite elegant and I think a pleated skirt looks much more elegant than a gathered one.

Then was the questions, what kind of zip should I use? I decided against an invisible zip because the fabric would have been bulky. Also I have read several stories about breaking invisible zips which makes me a bit more cautious. So a lapped zip it was - my first lapped zip, which didn't get in that easy at all. It took me some unpicking and handstitching before it looked ok and I am still not 100% happy about the overlap.

One of my shoulder is lower thus I shortened one of the straps when pin fitting the dress.

Do I like it? I love it. I think it is a nice little summer dress (although some people might argue it looks like a wedding dress - hi mum) that will get plenty of wear as long as it stays warm here. I imagine it will look great with my knitted cropped jumper. And I can tell you already it looks great with the knitted cardigan for the outfit along. You will see it soon :)

Will I make it again? For sure! I have a beige fabric with a button pattern in my stash that I think would look great. But then I would go for the version with the short sleeves. I haven't muslined the sleeves yet and from experience I know, that they will change the fit of the shoulders massively. So it will take some time...

How are you getting along with your outfit-along? Or have you ever sewn/ knitted two pieces that you knew would go perfectly together right from the start?

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Thread problems - any ideas?

After three weeks of almost no sewing (gasp), I have my sewing mojo back! I started on the weekend on the dress for the outfit-along hosted by Andy from Untangling Knots and Lauren from Lladybird. The dress is almost sewn up and the only thing missing is the lapped zipper and hem. You can see a sneak peak here:

Sorry for the crappy mobile photos, but I was not really
 in the mood to take nice pics - read on!

I am also making a shirt for Lescha and it is almost done! This morning I had an hour time before work and wanted to stitch the buttonholes. My Brother sewing machine has an automatic buttonhole foot, so usually buttonholes are soooo easy and believe me I have stitched countless buttonholes. I love them.

But not today.

When stitching my test buttonhole the thread went all crazy: my needle was not able to pick up the bobbin thread and when it did, there were loads of thread loops on the top of the fabric. I spent 1 hour this morning and another hour tonight to adjust the tension (something I never have to do when sewing buttonholes). You can see my test fabrics here:

The first half of a buttonhole (bottom) The red
thread is the bobbin thread and we look from the
Can you see the loops? Again looking from the top
seeing the red bobbin thread.

Obviously there is a problem with the tension even when doing straight stitches (Now you wonder how I was able to sew the outfit-along dress on the weekend? Me as well. But the stitches look fine.). I changed the needle, rethreaded, changed the bobbin, the thread and removed any dust before even touching the tension dial. But no luck!

Here you can see the loops from the side.

I had my sewing machine serviced three weeks ago and because I have hardly sewn since then, didn't notice the problems. I will bring my sewing machine back to the shop tomorrow (it's only an hour from home) and they promised they will check her immediately so that I can take her home.

Stitching sample. The red bobbin thread is coming up.

Hopefully they will figure out the problem, because I really want to get the shirt and dress finished!
Wish me luck :) In the mean time, did this ever happen to you? Any advice?

Tuesday 1 July 2014

The odd sewing favor...

I haven't been sewing much lately. I want to, but somehow I just can't find the time among job applications, football watching and weekends away. Thus when a friend asked me, if I would like to sew clothes labels into her friend's kids clothes, I agreed. I knew that there were three kids and I was told to attach the labels to 50 clothes, max 100 garments. I also didn't have to bring my sewing machine but could use the one from the household, which was a brand new Brother L14. I really love how fast you can sew backwards with her. As fast as you can sew forwards. With my brother the backwards stitching is so slow...

To make a long story short, I didn't attach 50 labels - no, I attached 600!!!! It took me 14 hours (one 8 hour and one 5 hour session) to sew these labels in and I basically attached them to every garment the kids have: dresses, shirts, underwear and socks! I don't think I ever spend 8 hours on the sewing machine when making something for myself.

One of the many washing baskets filled with clothes!
After 14 hours of sewing labels into garments, I had my technique really refined :) But it is still very fiddly, especially when trying to sew labels in the socks of a 2-year old!

How about you? Have you ever done an odd sewing favor?

So, I am leaving you with a picture from the White Cliffs of Dover that we took last weekend.
The Cliffs are amazing and we actually went up this cliff - hiking obviously not climbing ;)
on our 20 km walk from Folkestone to Dover.  

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