Saturday, 29 August 2015

Tropical Fifi

My second Tilly and the Buttons post within the week! When the new patterns were released from T&tB HQ there was a £20 offer for both the Bettine and Fifi.

The Fifi is a cute little camisole and shorts pattern - a summer PJ set!

My friend Sophie gifted me a beautiful metre of this tropical cotton voile from Hong Kong when she came to stay in London in July. As soon as I saw the Fifi pattern I knew it would be a perfect match!
I didn't quite have enough fabric to cut the camisole on the bias so had to stick with the stright-grain
Lovely pleat detailing on the camisole bust area 
The finished camisole set with self-made bias straps and along the hem of the camisole
I am really happy with the final garments but I have to say these are very teeny tiny shorts and definitely only to be worn inside the house! If I had the time to do some unselfish sewing these would make a great present to make for special female friends or family members.

I would like to try a second set but cut the camisole on the bias this time because it would fit so much nicer than on the straight-grain as it's a little snug when getting it on and off.

Overall it was a quite satisfying project with lots of French Seams and carefully considered detailing. Despite the large amount of bias binding you have to make I found it an enjoyable experience. It did make me consider buying one of those bias-binding makers - have you ever used one of those before?

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Gingham Bettine for Made Up pledge

Hey, have heard of the #Made-Up initiative that has been organised by the lovely Karen from 'Did You Make That?'  alongside the National Literacy Trust to encourage and support reading and literacy in the UK. The idea is to donate and make a pledge that is related to anything creative (that is where the Made Up bit comes in).

This was my pledge:

As you can see I kept it vague and unspecific because I had no idea what I would make at the donation stage of my pledge. Needless to say I was not without inspiration for patterns or fabric.
I elected to make the new Bettine dress by Tilly and the Buttons in a black and white gingham that I bought from Goldhawk Road in 2013 (I know this because I blogged about its purchase!!).

Onto the dress. Unless you have been off-grid from social media I am sure you know the latest lovely release from T&tB. The Bettine is an elegant and funky elastic-waisted dress with kimono sleeves and the option for pockets (got to love a pocket!).

I referred to the power of Instagram to help select whether I should do bias or straight-grain pockets. Bias won!
I cut out bias sleeve cuffs to link with the pocket detailing. 
Just after sewing the skirt side seams my beloved Bernina broke! The On/Off switch just snapped inside (along with my heart).
Hand-picked hem due to broken Bernina!
I have taken my sewing machine to Chapman Sewing Machines in Camden today and will let you know how Bernie gets on. He has been a stalwart of a machine - this is the FIRST time since 1990 that he has EVER broken. I am looking forward to his return after a nice bit of TLC servicing and replacement of his broken switch.

For my next Bettine I will need to add length to both the bodice and skirt in addition to altering the hip curve to be less pronounced.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Applique Creeper-face Cushions

If you interact with anybody aged 5 and up you will probably be aware of a computer game called Minecraft. My nephews aged 6 and 8 love it and this idea for a Creeper-face (baddy character in the game) cushion has been knocking around in my head for ages. It's a great stash-buster too.

If you want to make a cushion for a Minecraft-fan of your own here's how I did it.

First I downloaded this cool Creeper-face template from Kerry Ann Morgan's blog - thanks so much Kerry!

Onto supplies: Green fabric for the front, bonda-web, black fabric and any other colour for the back of the cushion, black thread, cushion pad / cushion filler.
Equipment: Iron, sewing machine, pins, scissors.

As this was a stash-busting exercise I didn't really worry about making the cushions to any standard size as I made the cushion fillers myself. Decide your own route and cut the green fabric to your needs.

Next sketch out the Creep-face template onto the bonda-web and iron it onto the black fabric.

Cut out the black bonded fabric, peel away the paper and iron onto the green fabric. At this point I made a decision that I would use the 'negative' section of the black creeper-face for a design to go onto the back of the cushion... so choose your option and get ironing! You can use a tea-towel or scrap fabric to prevent any stray glue getting on your iron.

The next step is to secure the applique with machine stitching. I took the quick option and sewed a straight stitch around the applique but you could use a satin stitch if you would prefer a better quality finish.

Complete this top-stitching for all the appliqued motifs. Due to the black thread it is hard to tell what it looks like so here is the back of the cushion to see the stitching.

The next step is to assemble the cushions. I chose to make an envelope cushion rather than one with a zip (for speed). You cut two sections for the back of the cushion that overlap like in a pillowcase. Hem any raw edges of the 'overlap' section - its always quicker to use a selvedge if you are not too fussy about the finish on the inside of the cushion.
You get the idea in the photo below. As I was stash busting and to avoid future fights over cushions I luckily had orange and red scrap fabric - the favourite colours of each nephew so they had a distinctly personal cushion each.

Pin the fabric in place with right sides together and sew around the edges. I used a zig-zag stitch to finish the raw edges inside - overlock if you are lucky enough to own a serger.
Iron everything and stuff those crazy Creeper-faces with a cushion pad!
Then gain major kudos points (and hopefully hugs) when you hand them over to your Minecraft fan.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Sew Over It Ultimate shirt

I have completed my first ever shirt with the fantastic help of sewing teacher Julie at Sew Over It in Islington. I took the Ultimate Shirt class in July which consists of three 3-hour workshops that cover measuring your body, adjusting the paper pattern and then the construction of the shirt. It falls under the advanced skill class and there is homework every week too!

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would be confident enough to try shirt-making on my own now after setting in my second ever collar (the first on my McCall's 6696 shirtdress) and working out the cuff attachment along with the finish of the cuff opening.

All in all it was a great learning experience with lots of opportunity for beautiful neat top-stitching (I can't say it's 100% neat everywhere - but it was my first attempt!)

An added bonus was a friend I met on a sewing workshop years ago (pencil skirt at Saturday Sewing Sessions) also took the class so it was nice catching up again.

I must also mention another sewing friend Alex who kindly took the photos of me in Neals Yard, Seven Dials. This mini photoshoot was fuelled by some rather lovely treats at Hotel Chocolat which we discovered was another shared interest (then again, who doesn't love chocolate!).

The shirt is made in a Liberty Tana Lawn called Plastic Fantastic which I purchased Liberty's online when they had a 50% off abstract prints sale a couple of months ago (which made this only £22.50). I have to admit the fabric turned out a little more lilac than I could tell from the computer screen but I still really like it. The quality and weight of the cotton is delicious! I bought 2 metres and I still have just under half a metre left.... now what could I make with that? Any ideas sewing friends?

My first open set sleeve using a French Seam. You need ALL OF THE PINS! 
Lots of pins to even out the sleeve curve. I managed almost NO puckers in this sleeve which I am immensely proud of.
You must stitch about 2mm around the marked cuff point and then cut to reveal the cuff opening. A bit tricky.
The pattern doesn't ask you to use any form of interfacing on the button stand so I used Stitch and Tear on the reverse side of the buttons to give the fabric a bit more stability when sewing the buttonholes. It really worked a treat!
Happy with 95% of the top-stitching on the shirt. Hopefully next time it will be 100%
Overall I am pretty happy with my new shirt. I now feel I could tackle the Grainline Archer which I have had for over 2 years unused!

Things I changed on the SOI Ultimate Shirt:
  • I added 6cm to the length of the sleeve - Yes I know! Gorilla arms....
  • I didn't add the front and back darts on this shirt as I felt it worked better without on me
  • I sewed the cuff buttonholes the wrong way so must remember NOT to do that next time
Future changes:
  • I have already amended the paper pattern by adding an extra bit on back near the shoulders as its a little tight
  • Still need to do the corresponding amendment to the top of the shoulder on the front pattern piece
  • *Might* lengthen the body for extra tuckability-into-trousers-and-skirts?

Have you got any good tips about shirt making? I would love any advice or tips.