Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Topstitching help please

I mentioned on the post about my Peggy skirt that I had some issues with the topstitching.

It looks ok from the right side (bar a few skipped stitches on the sections where there are a lot of layers):

But pretty awful from the wrong side as you can see below:

Believe it or not, this is a distinct improvement on how it looked originally. 

Based on advice from Twitter and Instagram, I switched from a denim needle to a topstitching one and used normal thread in the bobbin with topstitching thread on top only. I fiddled with the tension on the top thread.

These lessened the problem considerably but it's still not great.  My machine didn't seem to have any issues with sewing the layers with normal thread, just with topstitching thread.

The only thing I could find online was that Gutermann topstitching thread (which I used) is apparently much thicker than other brands.

Can anyone shed any light on my problem? Any great topstitching tips to share? Have you found that the brand of thread made a difference? All suggestions gratefully received as I want to make jeans at some point and that's a lot of topstitching!  

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Grease Inspiration



I've just put up my bad girl inspiration post for the Grease sewalong on the Sewcialists blog - head on over a have a read here!


Friday, 3 October 2014

The Grease Sewalong!



I'm co-hosting this month's sewalong on the Sewcialists blog, and it's a theme very close to my heart - Grease!

Click here to read the post - and there's a competition too!

Will you be joining in?

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Operation winter coat is go!

I may not have been blogging too much due to work and general life busy-ness, but I have been sewing and planning quite a bit!

The big project I am working on is a winter coat.

I was looking for a fairly simple shape with a collar and some waist shaping and I picked up this great 1960s pattern on Etsy:


It has lovely princess seams running to the waist with welt pockets at the bottom, bound buttonholes and is fully lined.

I knew I was going to have to buy fabric online for it as my local fabric shop just doesn't stock great quality coating. The fabric I used for my Anise really hasn't held up well which is frustrating when you think of all the work that goes into a coat (especially one with welt pockets and bound buttonholes!). After much perusing of online fabric shops (it's a dirty job...) I ordered a stack of swatches from Stone Fabrics. They have a great selection of coatings and I have read good things about their quality. You have to call up and order but they were very helpful and got my order out really quickly - they're not paying me to recommend them BTW, I just like to give praise where it's due!

I ordered this wool mix coating (90% wool but not scratchy - 100% wool rarely works on my skin). A good tip I found was to keep rubbing the swatches together over a few days to see how they might hold up to wear. I actually rejected my original choice after it went a bit fluffy when I did this so hopefully I have chosen one that will wear well!


The lining is also from Stone Fabrics and it's viscose acetate in a beautiful peacock blue - the picture really does not do the colour justice.

As ever, I asked for advice on twitter for interfacing and the ever helpful Anne from Mercury Handmade recommended Speed Tailoring from Gill Arnold as she uses it in all her coats. This stuff is ideal for stabilising an open weave and is beautifully soft.

For buttons, I bought huge 1960s style ones from John  Lewis. I hope they don't look stupidly big on as I'll have to do the bound buttonholes first!

I think you'll be getting quite a lot of in progress posts on this as coats take such a long time. Wish me luck!





Monday, 22 September 2014

The long awaited Moneta


I sewed this forever ago, but as you have probably noticed, finding time to blog things recently has been difficult!

I made this Moneta from Colette Patterns for our holiday to Sicily back in August, and it's great to look back on the beautiful scenery and lovely weather!  The pictures are on the island of Stromboli (an active volcano) where we went on a boat trip.

There seemed to be a lot of relatively similar knit dress patterns released by the indies this summer, and although I probably could have hacked this myself, I decided to go the convenience route.  I also love this neckline - it's perfect for me, and the downloadable collar options sealed the deal!  Annoyingly I don't have a pic of the cute crossover collar at the back so you'll need to imagine.




It's a simple knit bodice with no darts and a gathered skirt.  I lengthened both the bodice and skirt by 2" based on measuring the pattern pieces - this is a standard adjustment for me,  The only fitting issue I had was some gaping under the arms.  To get rid of it, I pinched it out at the side seam - it's not perfect but it worked OK.

I'm not sure about the gathering method used on the skirt - it calls for clear elastic to be stretched and sewn to the skirt which gathered it up when the stretch is released.  It really wasn't that easy to do.  I'll probably give it another go on another version I have planned, but I suspect that other gathering methods may be just as easy.

This pattern is a total fabric hog for such a simple knit dress!  I had bought 2.5 metres of this cotton jersey from Goldhawk Road without checking the fabric requirements, but as it's a self lined bodice, the pattern calls for close to 3 yards.  With my length adjustments, I wouldn't have had enough to line, so I overlocked the armhole edges and turned inside.  I finished with a double needle.


An arty shot from my husband - he loved that the writing on the wall matched the dress!
I love this dress - the fabric is quite weighty and the skirt swishes really nicely,.  It's quick and easy to make, and I have a winter version in the works now that the weather is getting colder.  I had plans for a striped version too but didn't manage to find the right fabric.  Maybe for next summer!


Minerva Blogger Network - the Staple Skirt


I've been thinking a lot about what items I need to make for winter to fill some wardrobe gaps and I realised I really needed a dark denim skirt.

 I ordered this dark denim from Minerva with the intention of making (another) Kelly skirt, but I spotted the Blue Ginger Doll Peggy skirt pattern in my stash (which I won from the lovely Roobeedoo in a giveaway). The denim is quite weighty so it definitely good for something that needs a bit of structure.

 I decided to make view A with a straight waistband and tabs, as I had ordered some silver jeans buttons as part of my kit.

I must admit this was not the most straightforward project I have ever made. The pattern was pretty hard to trace as the lines for each size were the same (although this has apparently been changed due to feedback so if you like the pattern, don’t let that stop you ordering it!). The fitting was very easy – it’s an a-line skirt, so using my waist measurement worked perfectly. I shaved a tiny amount out of the hips once it was completed but that was all. It’s really long – 27” from waist to hem, so I didn't even need to lengthen it!

 The rest of the problems I had were machine related. I struggled to get my topstitching looking neat. I used topstitching thread in a pale grey (also included in the kit) with a topstitching needle, and played with the tension a lot on the advice of the ever helpful twitter and instagrammers. The inside doesn’t look pretty but I decided to call it good and move on – from the outside it looks fine.

'Scuse creases - I had just got out of the car after a morning of rushing around!

 For the lapped zip, I used a silver metal zip from John Lewis as I didn't have one in my stash and wanted to match with the buttons and topstitching.

 My machine did not want to play ball when it came to making buttonholes. It took many many tries to produce the 5 I needed for the tabs and waistband. But I got there in the end. In contrast, the jeans buttons were really easy to attach – I used the tool provided in the pack, made a hole in the fabric with an awl (a slim skewer would work just as well) and bashed it a few times with a hammer.


It wasn't the easiest project but I am happy with the end result – I know I’ll wear it a lot all year round, with flats in the summer and tights and boots in winter.

 If you want to make your own Peggy (or the kit would work for a Kelly too) you can buy a kit which includes 2m of dark denim, a pack of 8 silver jeans buttons and a spool of pale grey topstitching thread from Minerva here:

 http://www.minervacrafts.com/es018denim-60-wide-100-cotton-7.5oz-denim-dress-fabric-black-or-indigo-blue.html
 http://www.minervacrafts.com/622251-prym-non-sew-jeans-buttons-silver-matt-laurel-wreath-17mm-8-pieces.html
 http://www.minervacrafts.com/2t308-gutermann-(sewing-thread)-top-stitch-30m-8.html

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Minerva Blogger Network - The Polkadot Frock




I love polkadots but realised recently I have hardly any polkadot items that are in regular rotation!  When I saw this lovely navy polkadot stretch cotton on the Minerva site, I decided to rectify the situation.

The fabric is a really lovely weight – not too stiff but not especially drapey.  It’s not as smooth as sateen but has a lovely feel to it.  Of course, the stretch makes it really easy to get a good fit and it’s lovely to sew with.



I’ve been meaning to make another Anna dress for ages – no idea why I haven’t got around to it before now!  Probably just distracted by newer, shinier patterns!  The boat neck is my favourite neckline and I love the fit of the bodice and the kimono sleeves.  It’s also super quick to sew with no sleeves to set in..  I wanted to change up the skirt, and while on holiday, I realised that the full skirt from my Mad Men vintage dress pattern is pretty much my perfect skirt style so I used that.

I had already fitted the Anna bodice, lengthening by 2”, doing a ½” FBA and adding a couple of inches to the waist.  I measured the waist, subtracted the seam allowances and adjusted the skirt pattern to ensure that it was the same size so that the side seams would match up.  In a fit of paranoia, I added an extra 2” at the waist which I later ended up removing.

I had added the pockets from the Emery pattern as I really like the way they are joined into the waist seam and so don’t flap around like some side seam pockets can do.  Unfortunately when I had to take out the extra at the waist, I had to remove the pockets to make the skirt sit correctly over the hips.  But I’ll definitely use them against next time.



I must remember next time that the skirt on this pattern Is really long – I took 5” in length off, leaving  2.5” hem and I’m 5’9”.

All the seams are finished with overlocking.

I had planned to do a blind hem by machine.  I spent some time working out how to do it and then decided to sew in by hand using a catch stitch.  The end result is lovely but this is a seriously long hem to sew by hand!

I’m really happy with this dress – I can wear it now with bare legs and later in the year with tights and boots so it’s going to be really useful.

If you want to make a dress like this, the kit from Minerva includes 3m of polkadot stretch cotton and an invisible zip (links to the individual items rather than the kit link while the new website is under construction):