Wednesday, 29 April 2015

...dressmaking class no 5

Woo hoo I am happy to say with a great feeling of accomplishment that we have a completed dress!

So here are the final tasks we completed

  • We put a small marking snip in the centre of our neckline and the centre of the front facing.
  • Sewed the facings together along the short shoulder seams, leaving the back open.
  • Make a 1 cm hem on the long edge of the facing
  • Using the centre marking point pin the facing flat, working outwards on both sides until you reach the zips at the edge, there will be a small amount of excess at each end
  • Sew the facing to the dress, DO NOT SEW OVER THE ZIP!

  • We need to finish off the zip edges. fold the excess fabric under to create a neat edge, to aid this and to take out some of the bulk  snip at an angle the top of the zip and the fabric. Approx 1 cm tapering up to the top of the facing, trim more if needed or take less if you prefer you can always take off more.

  • Attach the bottom of the facing to the dress, this can be done either by apply a row of top stitching that will show on the neck band or by "sewing in the ditch" you sew into the seam that is already there attaching the neck band to the dress(so just below the neck band).  I chose to sew in the ditch and had to finish this by hand as I had not caught all of the edges in.
  • Hand sew the zip edges just catching it into the zip fabric and not sewing through to the external fabric. 
  • Finish with a hook and eye, I chose not to do this as I know I won't use it.
  • Voila! one completed dress

I did have enough time to start on a new project but more of that later.

So apart from needing a good iron my dress is ready to wear, so let me know what you think of my first finished garment ?  So where would wear it and how would you accessorise it?

Saturday, 25 April 2015

...vintage thread

I must confess to being something of a vintage haberdashery collector, some (my family) might say obsessive hoarder! When I started buying a few essentials to get me started in my sewing I found myself drawn to the vintage items, this is partly due to childhood memories and therefore familiarity and also my love of good utilitarian items.  I am fascinated by theses every day household items that have been kept in drawers and sewing boxes just in case they came in useful.

 This quote from William Morris kind of sums up how I feel about my collection, all are useful by the nature of what they do and yet they have a beauty of their own,

 “If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” 
― William Morris

My latest acquisitions have been these lovely sewing threads, the small wooden bobbins are adorable and brought a smile to my face. We live in an era where we are reducing product sizes but we can see here that the size has increased, I wonder how many women just had to have the new sized bobbins. They still hold 100 yards of thread, although I doubt if anyone ever measured to see if they got their full quota.

I am trying to find a way of dating the different designs, I think that Sylko ceased trading around the early 1980's but I am happy to be corrected on that, so that would make everything at least 30 years old.  In the top picture can you spot the one that has a price ticket on from Woolworth's,  it says decimal on so I think that was probably from around the early 1970's when decimal currency was introduced to the UK, and the 1/2 p was done away with in 1984 so it can't be any later than that.  I think I will put on my Miss Marple disguise and do some further investigations.

Does anyone else have a love of vintage haberdashery or am I the only one?  Have you inherited a great stash of sewing goodies? If you have any vintage haberdashery that you no longer want please let me know, I could probably find it a good home.  If you have found away of dating vintage sewing threads please share.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

....dressmaking class no 4

Oh blimey get the unpicker ready! For some reason this week it seems like I just could not sew for toffee.  Well in between unpicking this is what did get done

  • The contrast band for the sleeve was made up. To make this easier to sew round we took off the outer cowl as if we were going to put in the bottom bobbin, 
  • At the top of the sleeve there are three marks, the two outer ones mark the start and finish for the gathering stitches that are needed to ease our sleeve into the armhole of our dress. Using the largest stitch available - no 4 on our machines sew 2 lines of stitching that run parallel to each other, they must not touch and should be sewn into the seam allowance, leave long ends on your threads at both ends as these will be used to draw up the fabric.
  • Sew up the sleeve seam and place this inside the band so that the raw edges of the sleeve and the contrast band are together, then machine them together. The seam is pressed up and then top stitched by moving the stitch dial from A to B so the needle moved to the side and was sewn on the right side, using the join as a guide lined up with the middle of the foot
  • The next step was to fit the sleeve into the dress, first job is to line up and pin the seam of the sleeve and the seam of the dress.  Now to make sure that you have the correct sleeve in place, check your notches, 1 for the front and 2 for the back, they may not line up exactly but so long as they are not too far out this shouldn't affect the fit.
  • Pin outwards from the seam keeping everything lined up until you reach the mark where the gathering starts on your sleeve top.  Place a pin in the mark at the top of the sleeve and the shoulder seam, this divides the gathered area into two halves making it easier to manipulate the fabric.  Draw up the fabric and manipulate until it fits, before you tie off the gathering threads ensure that there are no flat bits or bunches of gathering.  Sew with the inside towards you so you can see if the gathering is being flattened by the machine foot. Woop woop the sleeve is in!  repeat on the other side if you want a pair or just put in one and start a new fashion trend.

My first sleeve was a real pain but the second one went in a treat so I guess this is another sewing area where practice makes perfect or at least considerably better.

This just left enough time to hem the bottom.

  • First a 1 cm hem was turned up pinned and ironed followed by 2.5 cm hem, pinned and then tried on to check that it was level (ish) and not too short. So it was just a case of sewing all round, the advice given was rather than using the top of the fold of your hem as your guide use the 20 mark on your sewing plate, I had to deviate from this otherwise I wouldn't have sewn in the hem, I turned it up by eye rather than measuring it!

So just the final neck facing to attach and the dress will be complete.   

How do you get on with sewing sleeves? did I miss out any key steps?

Friday, 17 April 2015

...dressmaking class no 3

Brace yourselves, its zip week! One of the reasons I signed up to the dressmaking course is my zip fear and judging by the comments of some of my classmates I am not alone.  I am happy to report that I have now successfully inserted a zip into my dress and this how we did  it.

  • We laid out back pieces and found the mark we had made to show where the bottom of the zip should sit. Because we had only taken 1cm seam allowance when we attached the neck piece we needed to adjust this.  We laid out the zip against the straight edge of the back piece with the zig zag end lined up with the top unfinished end of the neck and remarked the end of the zip.

  • Sew the back seam from hem to the new mark and press the seam open.  Now with the right side facing up place the zip so that you can see where it is going to sit.  Unzip the zipper and turn it onto one side so that the fabric edge of the zip and the edge off the back seam are together- effectively the right side of the zip and the right side of the fabric are together with the back of the zip facing up to you.  Starting at the neck pin all the way down in a straight line, don't worry about the bottom or the other side at this point.

  • Fit the zip foot to you machine, put the garment up to the machine as if you are ready to sew, check that you have the foot on the correct side for your zip and that when you sew at 1cm the you won't be sewing the teeth of the zip!.  Make any adjustments and when  you are happy sew a nice straight line, when you get towards the bottom where the zippy bit is go slow and careful it is quite tricky.

  • Now we need to fasten the other side, pin and press the 1.5 cm seam allowance, this becomes the piece that covers the zip. Mark on the zip with tailors chalk where the neck contrast meets the main neck piece.  Unzip, line up the neck mark and pin from the top of the neck leaving a  small "flap" to cover the zip, it needs to be consistent all the way down.  Zip up and see how well the neck lines up if it is not aligned adjust until you are satisfied. 

  •  Ensure that the pins are on the topside as you will be sewing with the zip underneath.  Before you start sewing, with zip side up offer up to the machine as if sewing a 1 cm seam to ensure that you won't sew into the teeth.  Place a pin at the bottom of the zip to secure it.  With the top side showing machine a 1 cm seam in a straight line down to the pin at bottom, keeping your needle in the fabric pivot and sew a couple of lines to secure the end. If you are happy with the result press.

  • With the zip in the next job was to sew up the shoulder seams and press them out, remembering of course to change the foot back to the normal straight stitch one.

  • Final job of the night sew up the side seams and try on the almost dress.  We decided that mine was a good fit and didn't need any adjustments.

Wow I put in a zip! Apologies for the detailed post but I just wanted to try and get down as much as I could remember to help me next time I need to sew a zip, I'm not sure if this will be of help to anyone else!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

....a nice new bed

After our trip to Cornwall it became apparent to hubby and I that it was time to buy a new bed. We have both been complaining about not getting good quality sleep and when hubby moaned because I had turned over and disturbed him, we both agreed it was time for a new bed. We have ordered a nice divan from Silentnight with drawers in the base units, very handy for storing jumpers and it is due to be delivered in just two weeks.

If I say we hadn't planned to redecorate our bedroom until next year it implies that we make careful and well thought out plans, the truth is more a case of shall we redecorate the bedroom, no its still OK, alright we will leave it a bit longer, needless to say the bedroom is now getting redecorated.

We went to B&Q where they have an enormous range of paint colour samples and I said lets choose 3 colours each and see where we are, thinking that we would be either be in a similar palette or miles apart.

 I chose these 4 colours and Hubby chose these two.

We are using the two Hubby chose for the walls and picking up the cranberry and pink from my choices as accents in the curtains.

I have ordered the curtains from Laura Ashley, they are having a sale and these were discounted by about 1/3rd, I also treated us to a set of matching bedding.  I know I could have made the curtains myself but once I had priced up all the fabrics and headers etc plus the time to make them it was cheaper and easier to buy ready made.


So all we need to do now is empty the room, get the painting done, source and get fitted a new carpet. Not to mention decide what fabric to recover the headboard in, then do the recovering job!
Exciting but busy times for us in the next couple of weeks!

What do you think of the colour scheme? do you think it will all pull together with the curtains?  any suggestions for carpets or headboard colours?

Thursday, 9 April 2015

...dressmaking class no 2

Class no2 was jam packed and we managed to squeeze all of this into just 3 hours

  • What the triangles mean on patterns - they are markers to help you line up your pattern pieces.  I have always added little triangles to the cutting line, but tonight we were advised that a small snip into the V of the triangle will do the same job, it takes less time, is neater and more accurate.

  • We also used the snip method at the ends of our bust darts even though there aren't any markers to help us line up the two outer edges when we come to create the dart.

  • We added marks for our darts with tailors chalk, we pushed a pin through the centre of the little circles marked on our pattern pieces and marked them on the wrong side of the fabric.

  • We created our bust darts by lining up the snips and making a triangle down to the point of our tailors chalk mark. Using a ruler we drew a line to sew down, the dart is sewn from the cut edge to the bust point and we slightly rounded/let the needle run off the edge so as not to get pointy bust syndrome!

  • The darts are gently pressed to face downwards and the point of the dart is gently massaged with the tip of the iron to help round the point a little more.

  • We put diamond shaped darts in our back panels, we did this by putting a pin through the two marks in the centre and the pinned the other two end marks.  We drew lines from the centre to the outward points and slightly rounded the centre line so it was very slightly curved rather than a hard V shape. The darts were sewn in two halves each setting out from the centre point. The darts are then pressed towards the straight edge of the back panel.

  • We added the neck pieces with the interfacing on to the back panels, it looks as if the two pieces will not fit together but you start at the straight edges and pin like a mad thing offering up the next centimeter of the neckline until you reach the end.  We were advised that there is a fault on the pattern and it is normal for there to be a small excess which can be cut off later.

  • This was sewn at only 1cm rather than the advised 1.5cm seam allowance to reduce the bulk.  The seam is then snipped at approximately 1cm gaps around the curves and approximately 1inch gaps on the straight and the seam is the pressed up. the snipping helps the seam lie flat as the snipped pieces can overlap to allow the fabric to sit better once completed. Cut very close to your sewing line but not through it.

  • The interfaced piece was then added to the front, we folded both the edge piece and the front piece in half and put a small marking snip in the centre of both of them and used this to line up the two pieces. We pinned from the centre outwards and as before offered up the fabric bit by bit, before sewing at 1cm  and snipping and pressing as with the back panels.

Our 3 hours flew by and there is certainly some shape beginning to appear in our pieces of fabric. 

 Next week we will be tackling one of my big sewing fears zips!!!

Do you suffer from zip fear or do you have any top tips to help zip fear sufferers like me ?

Monday, 6 April 2015

... 5 of my favourite sewing blogs

Today I would like to share with you some of the sewing blogs that I enjoy, they all have their own style and have all offered me both entertainment and inspiration.

My top 5 favourite sewing blogs

First up is Handmade Jane

I love her homemade wardrobe, it is stylish,  beautifully co-ordinated and has a smattering of vintage. She is very open in the assesments of her projects and will let you know what went wrong as well as what went right.  If she is supplied with patterns or fabric etc she will let you know in the context of her blog without screaming it from the roof tops and as a blog reader I like this approach.

If you are fan of the Great British Sewing Bee this one will be no surprise, it is of course the fabulous Tilly and the buttons

Although she left the GBSB in week 2 this has not held her back and she has gone from strength to strength, publishing her own patterns and more recently her book Love at first stitch. Her blog offers plenty of advice for novice sewers along with sew-a-longs for her patterns. It has been interesting to follow her and see her business grow.

Next up is Jennifer Lauren Vintage I came across this blog when I found out there was a blouse pattern that claims it can be made in an afternoon  Based on a vintage pattern but upgraded for the modern body shape you can download this pattern and see for yourself. This is on my list of patterns to acquire and make, I am holding off as I have so many UFOs (UnFinished Objects) that I need to do something with before I start anything else.

I adore Tarsha's blog at by gum by golly   her dedication to the vintage look is to be applauded.  She is both a sewer, a knitter and a thrifter, she recently published her second knitting pattern for a pair patterned mittens.  I love a bit of vintage and this blog takes you right back to 50's America.

And last but not least    I came across this blog when I was making the skirt from the New Look pattern 6035, as a novice sewer it gave me a bit of confidence that it was OK if things don't always go to plan.  I believe the Gloria in the title is the name of her sewing machine

Ooops just realised this blog has taken me ages to write as I keep going into each of the blogs and getting distracted !

Now over to you, let me know who's blog would make it into you top 5

Thursday, 2 April 2015

....dressmaking class no1

I attended the first of my dressmaking classes on Tuesday night, the course runs for six weeks so by the middle of May I will be the proud owner of a homemade dress.

Lesson one involved

  • Taking our measurements and plotting them on the back of the pattern to work out the correct size for us to cut out

  • Cutting out our paper pattern to the appropriate size

  • We looked at the selvage edge and learnt that this runs in the same direction as the grain

  • Laying out the pattern pieces according to the layout plan in the pattern and understanding that sometimes you can work out your own plan

  • Cutting out the pattern pieces

  • Cutting out and applying interfacing.
*Light for thin fabrics like silk
*Medium for fabrics like cotton, use on dresses
*Heavy for heavier fabrics and waistbands

 This seems like a good choice of pattern as there seems to be many variations that can be put together, sleeveless, short sleeved, long sleeved, trimmed or untrimmed, contrast band on the bottom. Its not a pattern I would have selected for myself because of it being a bit fitted but all those fears will be put aside at next weeks class when we look at darts.

I am planning to return to my own unfinished sewing project from a couple of weeks ago over the Easter holiday weekend, are you planning any sewing this weekend?