Monday, 13 June 2016

Pattern blocks: Bodice

Today i have been making my own pattern blocks so i have the made to measure foundations of as many different clothing patterns as i can imagine! I have been using a great book called 'How to use, adapt and design sewing patterns' by Lee Hollahan.

The book contains basic pattern blocks for a bodice, sleeves and skirt. Firstly take some measurements of your body so you know what size pattern blocks to cut out. Then, you simply scale them up onto some pattern drafting paper in the correct size for you. Today i have worked on the bodice. I found that the length of the shoulder was going to be too long for me so i adjusting the pattern at this point. Once i was happy with my paper pattern i added 1.5cm seam allowance and drew the design onto some medium weight calico:

Next i sewed up all the darts and then finally attached the pieces together at the shoulders and side seams:

Now it was time to try it on and check how close the fit was.... turns out the neck hole was too small...

I cut into the fabric to make the neck slighter wider. The fabric i removed from the toile was then used to update the paper pattern.

Time to try it on again...

 Ta da! Now we have a very well fitting bodice :) The paper pattern can now be used as the basis for many different types of tops and dresses that will fit me perfectly every time. The next task is to draft some sleeves....

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Embroidery bird

This year Santa brought me my first embroidery kit! This is a Nancy Nicholson kit that, once finished, can be framed or turned into a cushion, or whatever you like.

The kit come with a printed cloth with markings showing you where to sew. You also get, your needle, threads and a guide to the different embroidery stitches. I found i had to google some of the stitches to get a clearer idea of how to do them. Here's my progress so far...

The kit came with a light grey for the back ground but i've decided to keep it bright and go with green instead.

Still undecided what to do with it when it's finished, leaning towards framing it to protect it from cats....

Patchwork duvet cover

The only patchwork i have done was a hand made quilted blanket using the Victorian paper piecing method. It was a very long project and very time consuming but I'm tempted to do it again, the final results were very pleasing. In the meantime i thought a patchwork duvet cover made using my sewing machine would be a much speedier option. It was indeed faster, however very repetitive and boring. I hope i don't forget that and embark on another patch work machine project....

The duvet cover was to match my green bedroom so the first task took many weeks: finding the right fabric.

I decided to try a basic chevron design thinking i'll start with something easy and advance to a more technical design for my next project (won't be doing that in a hurry). My chevrons were compiled of triangles which i cut out using a rotary cutter. Firstly i cut some plain cream coloured squares (25x25cm) and the same again in my patterned fabric then overlocked them right sides together.

I then cut through the two fabrics diagonally to get four squares; half plain half patterned.

Then i lined up the colours to make a chevron.

I made up eight rows which gave me a finished piece measuring two metres by two metres. I took the cream fabric from a pre-made duvet cover and i kept the back half to add to my new chevron front. I also had the strip of poppers to re-use!

Final project modelled by Billy :)

Sunday, 25 October 2015

simplicity 1254 Leanne Marshall coat: Part Two

The next part of the construction was to attach the lining and outer coat together. With the fabric right sides together I first sewed the side seams together. I then followed the confusing instructions on how to incorporate the lining into the corners of the coat whilst leaving a border of coat fabric around it...

Here's some close up shots of this bit, the instructions on the pattern were pretty useless so anyone wanting to make this coat might find colour photos useful!

Looks great when you flip it back around the right way!

The zip is the easiest bit, its just plonked on top so i bought one with nice metal teeth.

Next you turn the coat inside out again to sew up the bottom seam a couple of cms up from the bottom. You also want to leave the lining a bit longer than your coat to allow for movement. The last thing you want is for all your seams to pop open the first time you bend over!

Ta da! Side and bottom seams done :) I attached the bottoms of the sleeves together and then sewed some discrete stitches by hand to anchor the tops of the sleeve lining to the coat so it wasn't all sitting loose.

I decided against doing the caped hood which, ironically, was the feature that drew me to this pattern in the first place. The main reason was the hood wouldn't have been functional at all and i like a hood so i don't have to carry a brolly! Also, i like the ruffles on my sleeve seams and didn't want this detail hid beneath a cape. So, i drew around a hood off another coat and made one from the wool and one from the lining. I made the lining version slightly smaller so that the wool would roll around into the inside and make a border preventing the lining from poking out.

Here's my little border created by cutting the lining a bit smaller. I top stitched all the edges on the coat to make it look a little bit more professional.

I used the machine to attach the wool part of the hood to the coat then sewed the lining up by hand, adding a useful little hook.

And here's the finished product :)

I'm really pleased with the coat. I like it more and more as i wear it. Once i've worn this one out i'm sure i'll make another...

UPDATE: recently added some applique patches which really seem to be catching on lately...

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Simplicity 1254 Leanne Marshall Coat: Part One

This is my first attempt at making a winter coat. I came across this Simplicity pattern whilst browsing ads on ebay and was drawn to the hood/shawl design so clicked 'buy' and started thinking about fabric...

I found my fabric in Barry's Fabric store in Digbeth. It's mainly grey with threads of blue and green woven through so i decided to buy green anti-static lining to compliment it.

The coat is made up of two front panels and two side front panels. Two side back panels and a back panel. Then you have the sleeves and the hood. Everything but the hood needs to also be cut out of the lining. My wool coat fabric was 150cm wide and i bought 4 metres which is more than enough.

The front edge of the front two panels are folded over where the pattern indicates and the zip is attached face down, it will be concealed by the folded edges when the coat is zipped up.

This pic is upside down and i can't figure out how to flip it.... The pockets are half wool and half lining. I initially put them on back to front and had to do a lot of unpicking!! You need the lining half to be attached to the front panel and the wool part to the side front panel. That way if the pocket gapes open you'll only see the wool fabric and the pockets will remain pretty invisible in the princess seam line.

Here's the pocket, wrong way around but right way up, sewed into the seam... I have also ironed on fusible interfacing to the back of the wool for a bit of insulation.

Fro the outside the pocket is hardly noticeable.

I then sewed up the three back panels and sewed up the side seams.

I read quite a few reviews on this pattern that said the hips come out really wide. I found exactly the same thing so at this stage i started to take a few of the seams in then once i was happy i overlocked it all up. I love the inside of an overlocked garment :D

Next job was to attach the sleeves. As other's have found, the sleeves come out a little short. I wish i'd measured up beforehand because i had to scrap my first set of sleeves and cut a longer set.

 The lining of the coat needs to be sewn up the same size as you did with the fashion fabric, therefore i had to make the same alterations to the lining as i did with the side seams and sleeves.

Before attaching the wool and the lining together i spent some time pressing all the seams as flat as i could.

To be continued.....