Pj sewing , sewing for dolls & Saving time & fabric!

Hi there! I hope 2019 has gotten off to a good start. I’ve enjoyed seeing everyones sewing and knitting plans for 2019, but I know better than to declare any plans of my own, because I’ll never stick to them!

St.Brigid’s cross

Because its the 1st of Feb, a fair few school children will get to try weaving today, and will arrive home with battered and squished rushes/reeds made into crosses. It’s ‘Lá ‘le Bríd’ , first day of spring. It was traditionally a time when you’d leave a small item of clothing outside overnight for St.Bridget to bless. We did it as kids, but not anymore, and probably just as well – judging by how far the swing set got blown across the garden last night! We’d probably have found our scarves scattered around the parish !

Hopefully it’ll inspire some kids to carry on with weaving and maybe knitting and sewing too…!

Speaking of kids (+sewing), I had a lovely morning in November with one of ours and her friends. We made skirts for their dolls. They loved using the sewing machine and the simple gathered rectangle was a good beginner project for 9 yr olds.

Then in December I made a last minute effort to get some jammies and dressing gowns made for Christmas presents.

Flannel pyjamas

The pj top had a boxy shape with straight side seams, so I eliminated the side seams by pinning the pattern pieces together.

Pinning back and front at side seam

Then traced as one pattern piece.

This also meant I didn’t have to match stripes at the sides when sewing.

Kwik sew k3553

The pj ends side seams were also gotten rid of, and I narrowed the legs a little so I could fit everything.

I cut out a section of the pattern for the grainline so that I could easily see the fabric lines, and cut each leg separately to get the stripes evenly matched.

Then a quick stitch up and they were done over two evenings. I bought the fabric in Guineys and it was only about 3 euro per metre. Well worth making these because the tall recipient can never buy pyjamas that are long enough in the legs! A second pair has been requested so they should probably go on the 2019 to-do list !

The dressing gowns were made from pink fleece and a New Look pattern 6170. I embroidered a unicorn crown onto the backs using my Pfaff creative 2144.

New Look 6170

That machine is about 12 yrs old and still working fantastically. I used the embroidery unit alot when I first bought it. But the last few years not so much, because I can only transfer the designs using a really old desktop that runs windows 98!

I also changed the pattern a little to make the facing cut on instead of a separate piece. This cuts down on extra bulk at the seams.

Facing cut as one with the front.

The collar is unlined to reduce bulk, I overlocker and turned the edges.

So there ya go, some of what I’ve been making! I also just finished knitting a child’s cardigan and a hat for myself, so will share those soon. Slán go fóill ☺

Ps..the hat I knitted was a free pattern from Kelbourne Woolens, they’ll be releasing more as part of their ‘Year of Hats’.

My custom dressform

No sewing or knitting to show off today – just a version of me that talks less and will happily pose for photos! After more than twenty years sewing I finally own a dressform that’s shaped like me!

20180906_1335281072455927.jpg

 

So do you need a dressform if you sew?

Well, unless it closely mirrors the shape you’re sewing for, then it’s probably not much use. People new to sewing often tell me they can’t wait to buy a dressform and start creating all the clothes they want (I blame all those draping videos on instagram!) but unless you already match a sample size then you’re still going to have to do some extra altering/patternmaking to make it fit you.

I bought my adjustable dressform after a few years of sewing, convinced that it was going to make everything easy.  No more asking someone to pin a dress on me, or waiting for people to come back for a fitting…just a few turns of the dials and my fitting woes would be over..or so I thought.  Truth is, an adjustable, one-size-fits-all will actually fit no-one.

The back is too straight and the waist/hip curves are too proportionally different to most people I have sewn for. In over 20 yrs and many garments later, the only figure it properly replicated in real life was my petite, hourglass friend who once danced professionally – so not your average girl!

In reality it was an expensive clothes rack that was useful when hemming dresses or pressing coats!

What I really needed was a custom form, but as always I was limited by budget. So I decided to use the form I have, pad it where necessary and then ‘dress’ it with a cotton bodice made to my exact measurements.

My original inspiration for this goes way back to a site that I started reading before I ever discovered hobby blogs – FashionIncubator – it’s a site for professional sewn product manufacturers, and has a wealth of information that can often be applied to home sewing. That’s where I first saw the idea of using cling film to make a pattern .  Then more recently, Kate posted about this same method that she and some friends used to draft blocks. It was just the reminder I needed to get wrapping … aided by a slightly reluctant teenager we used some cling-film and packing tape and then marked waist, neckline etc.

20181001_121017.jpg

I used the pattern to make a stiff cotton princess-seamed bodice that opened at the front with an invisible zip.  It was tweaked a little to fit my shape, especially my upper back and shoulders, I have very straight shoulders (in comparison to commercial patterns) and I also have a definite curve to my upper back/ shoulders.

 

 

I should also mention that I found this blog post on Cloning Couture to be really helpful, and although I would love my dressform to look as neat and professional – I was going the quick and easy route, since I’m using a wobbly adjustable form that could fall apart any day now!

Adjustable form in background

 

I adjusted the dressform to match my back width and high bust measurements. Then I layered Fleece and wadding to fill in the waist and shape the upper back.

20180914_174123.jpg

 

I then dressed it with the cotton bodice, before padding the stomach and backside, and dressed it with a primark stretchy top to keep everything in place!

20180913_144855.jpg

So there you are now… will it be the start of new couture gowns draped in a perfectly edited, time-lapse video? Or a better dressed clothes hanger for the sewing room…. Only time will tell …! x

Shirtdress details :Simplicity 8014

20180704_213347.jpg

Beautiful pink sunset from my wild back-garden

We’ve just come out of the longest heatwave I can remember in Ireland, amazing sunshine every day is not something we are used to around here! So you can imagine we’ve spent more time than usual outdoors, and not much sewing has been happening. I have been knitting and made an attempt at joining in with Kate’s knitalong but progress has been slow and there’s not much to show and tell there!

So for now I’m sharing some pictures of a finished sewing object – I’ve made 2 versions of this shirtdress,  it’s Simplicity 8014 and they’ve gotten a lot of wear.  I think I first saw this pattern on Beth’s sewing blog – Sunnygal Sewing Studio. If you’re not following her, then I definitely recommend it – lots of very useful sewing information from a lady who knows her stuff!

I made a few changes from the original and took some photos as I went . The picture below is of the dress inside-out on my dressform:

dsc_0373.jpg

I used a black and floral cotton fabric that I bought from the remnants bin, and a lightweight cerise pink poly crepe to line it.  It’s mostly underlined (when both fabrics are held together and treated like one piece), except at the hems and side seams, where the lining hangs separately. I’m sharing a few pics that show how I treated the pockets, which are held in the side seams.

Instead of making two separate pockets from lining and fabric, I joined them together from the beginning so that all the raw edges are hidden.

Using 2 pocket pieces cut from fabric and two from lining, I laid them with the fabric pieces right side together, and then two lining pieces on top :

DSC_0355

After sewing through all four layers, I trimmed away the excess fabric from the curved edges.

Then snipped as far as the stitching at the opening edges as below:

dsc_0360.jpg

 

I caught one of the pink lining pieces at the open edge and held the other 3 pieces together and pulled them through the opening, which trapped all the raw edges between the pink lining pieces:

DSC_0361
dsc_03641.jpg

I joined them to the shirt side seams on the main fabric. When I was sewing up the lining side seams, I left the pocket opening in the seam and pulled the pocket through, so that it hangs on the inside of the dress, rather than between the dress and lining. The lining can then be hand or machine stitched to the pocket edges.

DSC_0374

Pocket bag hanging on inside of dress – before ironing!

So there you are, hopefully it’ll be of use to someone! I do still have to finish my burda cape-jacket, but it’s parked up for now, while I decide if I need to shorten it before adding the buttons,  it could be a while before that shows up as a finished object!

Slán go fóill!

 

Quick Tip – Button sewing

I hope 2018 has started off smoothly for you? Luckily I didn’t blog about any new years resolutions or I would have to go back to delete that post!

It’s been a while… Blogging was abandoned while annoying distractions like work got in the way… So to ease back into 2018, here’s one I made earlier 😉

A little thing that catches my eye is when buttons are stitched on so firmly that they pucker the garment.  If the button is sewn on too tightly, there isn’t any space for the layer with the buttonhole to fit.

IMG_20171002_28223

Ideally with a flat button, you should leave some room between the button and the button band, so that the buttonhole layer fits nicely, and doesn’t look either squished or too loose.  The amount of space depends on the thickness of the layer on top.

IMG_20171002_28831

 

Which brings me to my old black cardi… I’ve been working my way through some alterations – after having a big clean out of clutter.  I had bundles of clothes given to me by family members to re-use, along with bags of fabrics – mostly curtain remnants.  I sent the bulk of it to recycling – and I was left with just one box of clothes that were worth altering, and one box of clothes that I might re-use at some point.  All the extra stuff had just gathered over the years and was getting in the way. Now I can finally see all the pieces that I actually want to use!

One item for a quick fix was a cropped black cardi that was missing some buttons.  I found 6 buttons that were almost exactly the same …sometimes close enough is good enough!

 

IMG_20171002_27324

 

I used a hairslide under the button to give a little breathing room:

IMG_20171002_27716

Stitched through a couple of times

IMG_20171002_30107

Then removed the slide, brought the thread up between the button and fabric and wound it around 4-5times, then brought the thread to the back and knotted it off. Job done!

IMG_20171002_28223

I’ll keep dipping into that box of alterations, and hopefully it won’t start to grow into multiple boxes again!

How to shorten a jacket cuff…by not shortening a jacket cuff!

I try to avoid most alterations, they can become more than you bargained for – see Mrs Mole’s blog if you need to understand why!  But sometimes I will repay a favour to a friend, which is how this came my way.
 I needed to shorten a child’s suit jacket sleeve (image below).  It has three buttons and buttonholes, and was needed quickly.

But rather than mess with those buttons and hem corners, I took off the sleeves, and cut the extra length from the top.

I traced the new seamline with thread and checked the fit and new length.  Then it was just a quick trim before fitting it back into the armhole.

This could also be done with a mans suit , depending on how much needs to be shortened. Look out for a very tapered sleeve as if you move down too far you might not have enough width to fill the armhole!  Always a good idea to thread trace and check fit first 🙂