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Black And White Smock/Maternity Top

23 Dec

My, it’s been a while. And 2 days till Christmas! I’ve been busy busy busy-tidying up house, getting rid of unused things, doing some spring cleaning, running after my Little Wyld Man, who isn’t so little anymore. And also, I’m pregnant again! In between getting all of these done, I managed to pull together a simple smock from a Burda magazine, using some left over material from my maternity/nursing cocktail dress.

I was itching to sew something, but was too lazy to draft from scratch, so I decided I must make something quick and simple. I had some Burda magazines from the library and this little number caught my eye.

I love the simple lines, the yoke, and the pleats, which will allow for a growing belly. This is how it was made up in the magazine-in plaid.

I wasn’t too big on it, but I really liked the stylelines, and decided to make it.

This is the pattern sheet. You have to find the correct colour codes for the  pattern which can get confusing. In this case, I’m using the patterns outlined in blue. Burda patterns come without seam allowances, so you have to add them yourself.

I traced out the pattern using some tracing paper, and added a 5/8 of an inch seam allowance. You can use anything see through that is big enough, such as cheap sew-in interfacing, or even freezer paper taped together.

I’ve cut out my pattern pieces. This is a simple pattern, so only 6 pieces altogether.  Should come together pretty quickly. I’ve labelled each piece so that you’ll know what I’m referring to below.

The pattern markings must be marked onto the fabric at this point. I used to use tailor’s tacks, but now I just make a 3/5 inch snip into the seam allowance to mark centre points, pleating points, etc.

I’ve also cut out fusible interfacing for the facing front and back pieces, as well as the yoke. The fusible interfacing I’m using is a tricot knit, which is suitable for most light and medium weight materials. The interfacing serves to stabilise the area, and by this I mean that it will stop the fabric from stretching as you sew and handle it. It also prevents wrinkles and gives a bit more body to the fabric, although you don’t want to use interfacing that is too heavy, as this will change the hand/feel of the fabric undesirably. The interfacing should be cut using the same pattern piece, or slightly smaller.

To fuse, press with an up-down motion on a steam and wool setting till it fuses to the fabric. Wait till cool before moving.

Before stitching anything together, I finish the edges with my overlocker. Or you can use a zigzag stitch with a normal sewing machine.

Here, I’ve stitched the pleats in the front first. My order of construction is always to finish the details on the front garment, piece all front pieces together, then finish back details such as the zipper, and joint the front to the back at the shoulder seams and side seams. The sleeves  and hem are last.

In stitching the pleats, the pattern markings and centre points guide me and I don’t struggle to measure the pleating afterwards. I stitch vertically at each pleat to keep the pleats together, then horizontally across the pleats and the whole neckline.

The front yoke is joined to the main front, matching the centre points in the middle. The seam allowance is pressed upwards at the back.

Here’s I’m stitching the side seams. The shoulder seams are next. When this is done, test for fit. As this was a loose smock, the fit aside from the shoulders, weren’t essential. This top was drafted with a zipper in the back. When I tried it on, I found that it slipped easily over my head and shoulders, so I decided to omit the zipper.

Press the seams open and flat.

Here, I’m stitching the back neck facings together at the centre back seam. Next the back neck facing is joined to the front neck facing at the shoulder seams.

This is what it looks like. Press the seams open and flat. Remember, sew and press as you go.

Join the facing to the main garment at the neck edge, lining shoulder seams on both facing and main garment together. Make sure the centre points of the facing matches the centre point on the main garment. Sew with 5/8 inch seam allowance.

When this is done, turn the facing underneath and this finishes the neckline edge. However, you will find that it flips upwards very inconveniently. To remedy, you’ll need to understitch.

Open up the facing, and use your fingers to press the seam allowance towards the facing. Position your needle so that it is close to the seam line, but not on it, towards the facing. Sew the seam allowances to the facing. This is called understitching. This keeps the facing from flipping up a certain extent. However, you’ll need to clip the seam allowance as per below.

Clip at 1 inch intervals, or less where there is a sharper curve. This releases the fabric and lets it lie flat when you turn the facing under. Be careful to clip close to, but not onto the stitching line.

Next, we finish the hem on the sleeve.

I’m doing a double rolled hem by hand-you can do it by a narrow hemming foot, but I wanted to try this technique instead. Turn the edge wrong sides together around 1/4 inch and sew close to the edge. Using the tailor’s awl helps immensely as the sharp point guides the hem under the presser foot.

Now turn over the second time and do the same. Press the hem flat.

Before sewing the sleeve into the armhole, you have to prepare the sleeve for ‘easing’. The sleeve cap is drafted with extra length, usually about 1-2 cm longer than the armhole. The extra fabric must be eased into the armhole without puckering. This can be a challenge, but with practice comes perfection. To prepare the sleeve, sew a gathering stitch (I use the longest stitch length) inside the seam allowance.

The pattern will have a dot/mark where easing begins. Sew from this point with big stitches. Do not backstitch. Leave a long thread length at each end.

Pull the gathering threads and gather the sleeve cap evenly. The gathers must be ‘gentle’ rather than ‘hard’.

Pin the sleeve cap onto the armhole wtih as many pins as you need. As this is a cap sleeve, and not a full sleeve, find the markings on the armhole where the sleep cap begins and ends. The 1/3 of the lower armhole will be finished with a bias binding. Stitch sleeve to armhole at 5/8 inch seam allowance.

For the bias binding, I cut 1 inch strips on the bias, 16cm in length. These need to be folded in half and pressed. As this is on the bias, it is stretchy and can be shaped into a curve by pressing, as per below.

To attach the binding to the lower armhole, pin the so that the folded edge sits 2.7cm from the armhole edge.

Why 2.7cm? Because it is 5/8 inch plus 1cm. And when you stitch it in 5/8 inch from the armhole edge,and turn the bias binding under, it will match the finished edge of the cap sleeve perfectly. Magic!

Sew 5/8 inch from the edge of the armhole, catching the middle of the bias binding.

Trim aways the ends of the binding, and the seam allowance so that only 1/4 of the bias binding remains.

Turn under and edgestitch close to the edge, making sure the stitching catches and holds the bias binding underneath. Press flat.

Hem the bottom with a double rolled hem.

Finito!

Front view.

Back view.

Closeup of the front.

I’m rather pleased with this top. However, the neckline does gape a bit. So the next time I use this pattern, I’ll do a slight gaposis adjustment. But for now, Merry Christmas everyone!

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

Vintage Jocardi Camel Coat Relined

3 Oct

In one of my previous posts, I talked about my expanding vintage winter coat collection. One of my favourites is a vintage camel coat which I found at a Salvos opshop a couple of months ago. It was in beautiful condition, and guessing from the cut it was probably of a 50’s-60’s vintage. The brand was Jocardi, and the only reference I could find online was from  a 1957 book about an Italian who had worked in the Jocardi Coat Factory in Canada.

 

Vintage Camel Coat

 

The coat is cut in a very flattering princess style, with topstitching, welt pockets, and a military-looking sleeve head.

 

Interesting sleevehead

 

Being interested in patternmaking myself, I was fascinated with the cut  of the sleeve, which is half set-in sleeve, and half whatchacallit. The whole cut of the coat was very feminine. You wouldn’t be able to get anything like it at the shops today. I especially love the way the skirt flares out.

However, the lining was in pitiful state. It was moth-eaten, ripped under the sleeves, threadbare, stained and torn in a few places. And it was a really awful pink typical of that vintage. Not to mention that it smelled something horrible.

But when I tried it on, I fell in love with the way it looked on me-it fitted me exactly, and I didn’t have that colour coat in my collection. The price tag on it was $35-which was a little high for an opshop, and I hesitated when I thought about the lining. But I convinced myself that it could be easily relined. The clincher came when I realised that it had a purple tag and it was half price day for purple tags! My parents were with me at the time and my dad offered to pay for it. So sweet of him. They both said the coat looked beautiful. And you don’t argue with your parents on that one.

So I got back home and sat on it for a week and studied it inside and out. And proceeded to rip the lining out and apart.

 

Lining front

 

 

Lining back

 

As you can see, the lining has an underlining made of cotton flannel, and the back has  a rectangle of suede sewn onto it. I took pictures of how the lining inside was constructed and attached and made notes so as to guide me  later. My plan was to rip one side of the  lining  apart at the seams, and leave the other side intact, then use the lining  pieces as a pattern for the new lining.

 

Lining pattern pieces

 

The lining pieces had to be ironed flat first. And I had to measure the seam allowance on it to determine how much to sew on the new lining.

I was set on a really funky lining, and had in mind some loud polyester fabric leftover from a maternity dress, which I got from  the bargain table at Spotlight.

 

Print maternity dress (See the Wyld Maternity Collection 2009 here)

 

To underline it, I used some tan wool crepe in my stash (which again came from an opshop). It wasn’t an attractive colour, and had some holes in it, but being an underlining, it didn’t matter too much.  I but both lining and underlining using the old lining pattern pieces.

 

New lining pieces

 

I made sure to mark the darks on both fabrics, then sewed the outline of the darts through both fabric layers.

 

Dart outline

 

I also sewed around the edges of all the lining and underlining pieces together, treating them both as a single layer from then on. For the back panels however, I joined the centre back seam of both fabrics together, but before sewing the edges of both fabrics, I sewed the suede rectangle onto the underlining. Then I sewed the edges of the lining and underlining together, treating it as a single layer from  then on. I then proceed to join all the pieces together, as well as attaching the sleeves.

Now comes  the big part-joining the lining to the coat. I sewed the lining edge to the coat facing, right sides together, all around from the middle of the collar down one side, and then down the other. This ensures that you don’t end up with one side of the lining longer or shorter than the other. It also means that the middle of the collar of the lining and the coat will match up. Now all that is needed is the hemming of sleeve and hem.

The sleeves were 1 1/2 inches too short-so I lengthened it. Luckily the hem inside was quite generous which allowed me to do that. Otherwise it would have looked a bit funny on me. I had cut the sleeve lining longer to accomodate  that alteration.

And this is the finished product.

 

New lining

 

 

Front view

 

 

Inside view

 

With the leftovers of the print lining, I made a square scarf to match (edges finished with a rolled hem on the overlocker) and a hair scrunchy.

I sent the coat to be drycleaned before I wore it. And I have worn it many many times over the last two months. I love this coat, and especially the lining. I feel like I’ve got a wonderful secret hidden under a demure coat. The loud print sings to me and to anyone I’ve shown it to.

Take note  however that if you remove the labels from the old lining to insert the care instructions for the coat into the new lining, because the dry cleaners might make you sign a waiver/indemnity in case of possible damage due to there being no care label.
This was a quick project and very satisfying. And it’s not that hard to do. So next time you see a beautiful coat with an old lining, rescue it and give it an internal facelift.

White Nursing Cocktail Dress

17 Aug

Some time ago I went to Munno Para Spotlight with a friend and picked up a lovely fabric for 6 dollars a metre. It was a polyester spandex fabric with an off white background with sketchy black roses. I fell in love with the fabric and decided to make a dress with it for a wedding that I was to attend-which was last weekend. I wanted to make a cocktail dress, but had to think long and hard about what design would suit the fabric, keeping in mind that I also wanted to be able to breastfeed in it.  I decided to make a dress of this design.

Nursing Cocktail dress

The dress was to have an empire waist, princess seams, a crossover front with gathers, within which there was to be a hidden opening for nursing access.

Because this was a woven material with a tiny bit of stretch, but I wanted a form fitting dress, I decided it would be a good time to take my Gladwrap pattern and use that to make the pattern of this dress.

Gladwrap pattern

I traced around onto a new sheet of paper and cleaned up the lines. I made two test garments before I was satisfied with it. This was the finished pattern.

Gladwrap sloper

I discovered that I have a swayback, and forward shoulder. A swayback is when a person’s back curves inward more than usual, requiring a deeper dart in the back waist.

I wanted a dress that was fully lined, with a combined arm and neck facing. Here are my pattern pieces and fabric all cut out.

Pattern and fabric pieces

Above you can see the facing pieces has already been interfaced-I block fused the interfacing to the fabric before cutting it out. I used a fusible warp-knit interfacing which was really light, had some stretch, and was almost plush on the non-fusible side. It was perfect for this fabric-I also tried it on a twill and a crepe and it still draped beautifully without changing the hand of the fabric.

Warp-knt interfacing

I also interfaced the front bust crossover pieces, as it needed some structure and stabilizing for the nursing access. I marked the bust point on the piece and slashed it to 3 cm above and then overlocked the slash-like this.

Nursing access

I was also careful to mark all the important points with either notches or tailors tacks. The blue thread you see above marked the triple folds on the bust piece. The folds were done in such a way that it hid the nursing access in a pleat-see below.

Front shoulder and bust panels joined

Here I’ve made the folds in the shoulder piece and joined it to the bust panel. These need to be joined to the back shoulder panels. Then I stitch all the princess seams in the front and back but do not join them to the top panels yet as I need to stitch in the neck facing and lining first.

Front princess seams

Bust and shoulder panels

Next I work on the facing and lining pieces, joining them all together except at the side seams.

Facing and lining pieces

Here the join at the  neckline facing and lining get a little tricky. If you look closely, I made a slit in the center top on the front lining, thinking that it would be necessary to accomodate the crossover at the bust. I found later that the slit wasn’t necessary at all.

Next I joined the neckline facing to the front bust panels.

Joining the front to the facing

I graded the seam allowance to reduce bulk, then turned and understitched the facing and seam allowances together. After this, I sewed the bust panels to the princess panels, and then all the side seams.

I marked the nursing slit length on the lining and opened it up.

Nursing access in the lining

Here I inserted an invisible zipper, sandwiching the zipper between the right sides of the lining and the shell, and handbasting first. I don’t think its the correct way to insert an invisible zipper into a garment with the lining, as the zipper can get caught in the lining. I had to redo the zipper twice before I was satisfied with it. Next time I’ll set the lining away fron the zipper.

I had left the armhole edges on both the lining and the shell raw, so I did a rolled hem on the armhole  shell with black thread. I overlocked the lining armhole, and used the overlocker to cut away 1cm all around the armhole so that the lining wouldn’t show.

I did a rolled hem with a narrow hemmer on my machine for the hem. For the lining hem, I overlocked the edges to trim away any longerbits, and then I sewed some lace for a couture touch. I love that only I know that it’s there.

Lace on the lining hem

And finally….

Here’s a back view.

It looks a bit rumpled because it just travelled to Melbourne and back again. I wore it almost the whole day at my friend’s wedding.

Here’s a view of the nursing access.

Hidden nursing access.

The dress was an amazing fit. Using the Gladwrap to make a personal sloper is a fantastic idea. No need to keep making fitting changes or multiple test garments. I highly recommend making one.

Here’s a final picture of me at Claudia and Kaiwin’s wedding.

Silvia, Manchee, Claudia, me, and Chok Fung

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

Yellow Nursing Top

28 Jul

A few months ago I bought some yellow jersey material from an op shop. It was a very pretty yellow, just my colour. I make it a policy to snap up knit fabrics if I see them in opshops as knits are quite pricey compared to wovens. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it then, but a few days ago I thought that I should start drafting patterns for knits. And I’ve been wanting a top for nursing-ones that have discreet access for breastfeeding. I came up with this design.

Design idea

It was to have an empire waistline, a wrap front with bust gathers, and a modesty panel behind with cutouts for nursing (see dotted line and gray shaded area). At first I wanted to make puffed cap sleeves  as in the picture, but when I made my pattern, I forgot and just make short set in sleeves.

I drafted the pattern from scratch using Winifred Aldrich’s close fitting jersey bodice block.

It's the one on the far left

I chose the option with greater ease (Aldrich gives you instructions for close fitting with maximum stretch, and another with more ease for less flexible material).

My personal jersey clost fit block with sleeve

I took some pictures of the drafting and pattern manipulating processes- but stopped halfway because the pictures weren’t that good. Here are some of them.

The back and the modesty panel for the front

This is the wrap front-I'm correcting the gape by slashing the neckline and pivoting it

That’s all I have of the drafting. I WILL take more organised pictures in the future…

Anyways,  that was a few days ago and I didn’t get to put the whole thing together till today. This is how it looks like.

Front view

Back view

That’s an awful lot of wrinkles. Methinks I have to do a narrow back adjustment, a swayback adjustment, and a forward shoulder adjustment. Or maybe it’s the way I’m standing.

Closeup

Below you’ll see how it functions as a nursing top.

Discreet nursing access

Instead of pulling the top up for feeding, this top provides full coverage.

I’m really happy with the way this top turned out-it looks completely store bought. It’s not my first time sewing a knit top, but it was the most successful. This was because I used  tricot knit interfacing strips to stabilise the necklines and armholes to keep them from stretching out of shape.

If anybody is interested, I can draft a custom nursing top pattern based on this or make you one. Just email me.

Quick Pencil Skirt

16 Jul

On Monday I bought a 2-metre piece of twill fabric at the opshop for 2 dollars. I knew that it was perfect winter skirt material. I planned to make a Vogue inspired skirt out of it, and after cutting it out, I found that I still had enough left for another skirt. This post will be about that skirt which I knocked up on the fly yesterday.

I wanted a quick pencil skirt with a slit-no zippers or closures-something with a stretch waistband that I can wear whether pregnant or not. I had some black stretch fabric lying around that I had bought from some opshop in some distant past, and some grey lining material that I was given. I quickly measured my waist and my hips-33″ and 38″. It is depressing to realise  that I’ll never be a 24″ again.

My plan was to just measure and cut on the cloth without any pattern. I wanted a rectangle of black stretch fabric about 3/4 of my waist measurement for the waistband, about 6 inches high and doubled over for strength and stability as per diagram below.

The blueprint

The waistband would go from my natural waist to my hipline, and the twill fabric panels will start from the hip. That way I needn’t add darts for the lower panels, since it would fit over the widest part of my hips without any closures. The lower panels are cut simply-my hips were 36+2 inches wearing ease=38″, so the front panel was 19″ wide with half inch seam allowances, and the back panels 9.5″ with seam allowances. The front and back panels taper downwards to 17inches and 8.5 inches in width respectively. The back panels I added about 1.5 inches in width starting from the middle centre back line for a split.

The cut pieces

I also cut a lining from the above twill fabric pieces.

Cutting into the lining

See Ma! No pins! I was really doing this on the fly. I was more excited about this skirt than the Vogue inspired one now-even though that one is all cut out.

First thing was to overlock all the edges.Most sewing machines have an overcasting stitch if you don’t have an overlocker, although if you do plan on sewing garments, you can’t beat an overlocker for a professional finish. I love mine.

To make the waistband, join the shortest edges of the two pieces together and form a tube. Use a narrow zigzag stitch, or overlock.

Form a tube with the stretch fabric

Fold the tube in half lengthwise, so that you have a double layer going all around your waist.

Waistband doubled up

The back slit needs to be done first. I neglected to take pictures-but here’s a walkthrough. Sew down the back seam as usual, but at the start of the outside corner, change the stitches to the largest straight stitch. Press open, and sew around the slit. Use a seam ripper and unpick the large stitchs up to the outside corner where the slit starts.

Now it’s just the simple matter of joining the two side seams together.

Repeat the whole process with the lining.

Attach the skirt to the waistband-pin at quarterly intervals, and stretch the waistband to fit the skirt as you sew. Use a narrow zigzag stitch. Now attach the lining with the same process, just be sure that the right side of the lining faces the inside. Use a blindhem stitch to hem the skirt and the lining, making sure that the lining is hemmed higher so that you don’t see the lining from the outside. Handsew the lining slit to the skirt slit.

Quick pencil skirt

Back view

Hmm..I didn’t do a very good job on the pressing. But I guess it’s not wool, since it didn’t shrink when I steamed it, and it’s not wrinkle resistant.

Closeup view

All in all, I’m very pleased with this skirt. It was a very quick job, and I spent only a dollar on the material. It will always fit me, and the pencil skirt is very flattering. It is also great for maternity wear too!

Go home and make one today!

Custom Fit by Glad Wrap

7 Jul

Disclaimer: This Is Not A Glad Wrap Ad

I had a very productive day today. Did some laundry, some ironing, some tidying…and some gladwrapping. What did I gladwrap? Me. You see, in the sewing world, it is very useful to have dressforms to pin things on because you want to test the fit and hang of a garment. However, dressforms are very expensive, and sewing test garments all the time is rather time-consuming. The answer? Gladwrap yourself. The idea is to wrap yourself up in glad wrap with a few layers, mark the seam lines and darts and centre lines, cut off the wrap, lay it flat , and then use that as YOUR pattern for making garments to your measurements. So much faster. So that was what I’ve been up to today. I made a friend online who does patternmaking at TAFE, and we made a date to gladwrap ourselves today. So Mandy came over and we set to work. I came across this idea here.

Here’s a walkthrough: You need Gladwrap or any sort of clingwrap, a tight t-shirt, a permanent marker pen, scissors, brown tape, string and a patient friend.

Tape the waistline

I tied some string around my natural waist and used packing tape on it.

Mark the centre front line with tape

Sorry for the fuzzy picture. The centre front needs to be marked with tape. Same with the back.

Back centre line

Start wrapping around the whole body down to the hip and over the neck and shoulders till you get this.

Gladwrapped

Mark the bust points, the centre front and back lines…

Centre back line

Ignore the diamond shape lines on the back-they are supposed to be straight lines from the shoulder blades down to about 5 inches below the hipline.

Mark the shoulder seams, the neckline, the side seams and the armhole. Tape all of the above.

Mark the darts from the bustpoints straight down to about 5 inches below the hipline.

Like this

I’m feeling like I’m in a funky disco costume. But I can’t dance coz it’s too tight.

Here’s another view

Now we’re ready to get out of this …thing…

Cut cut cut

Cut down the centre front line-or the back centre line. Doesn’t really matter.

And voila!

Mini Me!

That’s an exact replica of my body shape which I will cut up into flat pieces to make body fitting dress patterns.

Here is the thing sawn in half

To make the patterns, the body wrap form must be cut into flat pieces. Cut along the waistline, the neck line, the shoulder and the side seams and you will get this.

Upper bodice and lower bodice pieces

Now I will proceed to slash the darts-this makes the pieces flat. If there is still some 3-D shape to the wrap, you will need to add more darts, or deepen the dart slash to flattern it. We found that because there was so  many layers of wrap, it was a little hard to ascertain that the pattern lay completely flat.

Slashed darts

The darts that were drawn in as straightlines at the back and the front has to be slashed open till the pattern lies flat like the above picture. Then lay in on a wide piece of paper and trace around. This is what you’ll get.

Personal block

Bear in mind that you can’t make a dress with the pattern here-it has no seam allowance, no ease. You can’t really move or breathe in this, unless it was a stretch material.

We actually made two wraps, and the one shown here is the first one. The first one had more layers on it, and therefore more stable and didn’t warp afterwards. The second one we didn’t use as many layers, so it’s starting to come apart-the gladwrap wasn’t as sticky as we’d thought it’d be. So if anyone attempts it, wrap at least 10 layers evenly all over the body.

I’m actually a little puzzled as to how the skirt block turned out. The front dart hardly opens, and the back dart looks odd. Also, I didn’t expect the armhole to look so….angular. Hmm. Well I’ll need to grade it up one size and make up a test garment to see how it’ll look. Stay tuned!

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

Vogue Skirt-Check.

24 Jun

Vogue 8246

I’ve spent the last 3 days making that Vogue 8426 -inspired skirt I blogged about on the previous post and took pictures today. From the start to finish, I told myself that it was going to be a mock-up/test garment/muslin instead of the real thing in order to test the fit of my drafting, and then to later make other versions of it if it was successful. However, I also wanted to make it a wearable muslin. I was quite determined to use fabric from my stash, and only to buy little incidentals like zippers if absolutely necessary. The path to the  end was frought with mishaps, with me miscutting the front centre piece NOT on the fold, and having to piece another bit of fabric to make up for it, then I discovered a hole in the skirt fabric, then after that, I couldnt’ insert the lapped zipper properly. Also, this was my first time inserting corded piping, so the results aren’t as uniform as it should be.

After reading about SewVeryPrairies’ skirt here, I thought and thought about how to draft the skirt. The front of the skirt was quite easy to draft. It was the back which had me puzzled for a bit. The bum-hugging shaping of the back of skirt has to be built into the 3 seams at the back, which ends in inverted pleats. This was what I came up with.

drafts and doodles...

It was quite successful-although for the skirt to hug the bum even more, I’d have to curve in the seams even more inwards. But I’m quite happy with my skirt as it is.

The materials I used were a dark grey crepe material, a silvery rayon? fabric, and bemberg lining.

Fabrics

Here are the pattern pieces laid out on fashion fabric ready to be all cut out.

Ready to cut.

I wanted my skirt to have piping details in the lower waist seams and on the side, but didn’t want to buy ready made piping-so I made my own. I started by cutting 1-inch wide bias strips with the grey fashion fabric.

Bias strips

Instead of buying cord for the piping, I used some regular knitting yarn.

Knitting yarn.

I used a zipper foot to sew the yarn into the piping.

Handmade corded piping

I was too lazy to take pictures of the process in between. But here are the photos of the finished project.

Front view

Back View

Side View

Closeup

The whole project cost me nothing-I used everything out of my stash, most of which came from opshops.

Not too bad for a mock-up. I’ll be making more soon.

My little man was very good-he just smiled at me from his little rocker as I hammer away on my sewing machine. How lucky am I?

White Polkadot Wrap Shirt Refashion

7 May

Some time ago I bought a size 12 Marco Polo white wraparound polkadot shirt at a flea market for $5. I didn’t try it on, but I love love love polkadots and thought that size 12 should be okay on me. However, whenever I thought to wear it somewhere, it just never looked right on me. It wasn’t THAT big, but it didn’t fit very well on me. I offered it to a friend, thinking it would be a bit of a shame to cut it up-but she didn’t think it was her style. So, I thought, what the heck-I’ll just refashion it. I’ve had it for more than 6 months and never wore it nor done anything to it because, well, it was really pretty by itself. I was afraid of mucking up something.Now if I did something at last,  at least I’d wear it.

This is what it looks like before.

The Polkadot Wraparound Shirt

It makes me think of a nurse’s uniform somehow. The bow would never sit right and it felt that the sleeves were an awkward length on me.

I decided to recut the whole shirt to fit me better- at the sleeves and armholes, and at the side seams. And as in my other two refashions, to cut off the midsection and substitute with black stretch knit.

I cut off the midsection first-just folded the shirt in half and eyeballed it. I didn’t really measure anything this time. I pinned the wrap fronts together before I started cutting.

Cutting off the midsection

Next, I unpicked the side seams and the armhole seams and removed the sleeves.

The unpicked shirt

To recut the armholes and the sleeves, I use my existing personal patterns as a guide to cut around.

My newspaper patterns

I wanted short sleeves with a black binding with tiny pleats built into it.

My new cut sleeves

Plain ol' bias binding

I was so absorbed in making the sleeves I forgot to document the process. What you see next is the finished sleeve.

I love bias binding

I love the new sleeve. It looks so much younger, instead of 3/4 length sleeves.

Here’s another view of the sleeve. I really like my sleeve. Can you tell?

Another view of the sleeve

Coming back to the missing midsection. I cut out 2 separate pieces of black stretch knit in a vaguely waist-like shape, the front piece one inch wider than the back, the total measurement, about 3/4 my waist measurement.

The missing midsection

I overlocked the side seams together, forming a tube. Then I joined it to the main garment, right sides together.

Pinning the two pieces together at quarterly intervals

Then I hemmed the bottom with a twin needle.

The finished product

Doesn’t it look soooo much better? I love the new shirt!

White Jacket

1 May

Some time ago, I thought that I’d like to have a white suit to wear to church-actually to William’s baptism on 28 March. I rummaged through my fabricf stash and decided to make a white suit made of a waffle weave white linen that was given to me, trimmed with a navy blue polkadot fabric. This is the sketch I drew.

Fashion Sketch

It would have a shawl collar, and bias bound with the navy blue polkadot trim, with a sewn in belt feature, accompanied by a pencil skirt in the same polkadot fabric.

The chosen fabrics

This would be the first time I attempted a jacket, as well as make my own bias binding. I’ve always been intimidated by the jacket, with its facings, sleeve vents, linings and collars-but I decided to take the plunge this time.

I drafted a jacket block from Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear.

The Jacket Draft instructions

My personal jacket draft

The shawl collar had to be drafted separately on another piece of paper and attached to the main jacket block.

My shawl collar piece

I decided where I wanted my style lines to be and marked them on the main block with pencil, and traced them out onto newpaper with seam allowances.

My cut pattern pieces

Laying out my pattern pieces on fabric, ready to cut.

The cut fabric

I also cut my interfacing for the jacket facing and the belt.

Interfacing pieces

Next up was the bias binding. I used the continous binding method to make a long chain of binding. I estimated that I needed around 3.5 m of 2.5cm wide binding to go around the jacket. 2.5cm x350cm=875 cm squared, square root of 875 =29.5cm. So I cut a square of polkadot fabric 35cm by 35 cm, and marked 2.5cm intervals on the bias with tailor’s chalk.

Fabric square marked on the bias with chalk every 2.5 cm intervals. The marks are not visible here.

I cut the square into half at a 45 degree angle across the bias

Now place one half of the square on the other side-making a rhombus like the picture. Match all the chalk marks

Sew the two pieces together with a very small seam allowance and press

The rhombus has to be rolled into a tube and joined together, matching all the chalk marks again. This feels very counter intuitive because it feels like the fabric is twisted.

The rolled tube of fabric

Now I just cut the fabric into one long strip following the chalk marks I made.

My bias strip

To make it suitable for binding, like bias binding you buy in a package, I use my bias tape maker.

Pulling the strip through the bias tape maker and pressing as I pull it through.

My bias binding all pressed and ready to go

It was rather satisfying to make that loooong strip of bias tape.

Before I started sewing, I did all the other incidentals like fusing the interfacing into place.

I fused the interfacing to the jacket facing.

My interfaced belt pieces

I sewed the lining pieces together first-to prevent sewing fatigue. You know how you’ve finished the main garment, then look at your lining and sigh-wishing that you didn’t have to do it after all? Well, making the lining first prevents that problem.

The lining pieces

I started sewing all the main garment pieces together and didn’t take pictures because I was in a hurry to finish the jacket. I sewed the binding all around the jacket by hand which took me the better half of two days.

This was the finished jacket.

Finished jacket

HOWEVER- I tried it on. And boy was I disappointed. It didn’t fit!!!! Well. It fitted well enough in the shoulders, and had the jacket been a standard design with no in-built belt, it would have fitted beautifully. But, I didn’t make a muslin, and didn’t anticipate that the draft being a looser fit with standard jacket ease built into it would not carry my design well. My design needed an extremely fitted jacket, with the belt sitting and wrapping the waist precisely. This jacket billowed at the back. And it has so many seams that was I to make the alteration to fit, I’d need to recut the belt piece, as well as take out every seam at the waist, where I counted at least 8 seams. It’s such a pity because I loved the colour combination-it’s so pretty! Grgh! And because it didn’t fit, I haven’t the motivation to finish making the buttonholes nor put in buttons. And now it’s officially an UFO-UnFinished Object. Sigh. I haven’t the heart to make my polkadot pencil skirt either. That’ll teach me to make a muslin next time I make a new draft of something.

Brown Shirt Refashion

30 Apr

Brown Rayon Opshop Shirt

I bought this rayon shirt at the opshop when I was very pregnant. I assumed that just because the shirt fit at the shoulders, it would fit fine after I gave birth. However, I discovered that it was extremely billowyat the bottom and completely shapelesss. The collar was too high as well and the bow didn’t sit properly. I decided to do something about it.

Shapeless

Knowing how well my first refashion turned out, I decided to do the same to this shirt. I planned to lower the collar and cut off the midsection and substitute it with stretch blue ribbed material.

Below I cut off the midsection about 8 inches above the hem.

Cut off midsection of shirt

I then measured myself around the waist and cut off a swatch of blue knit ribbed fabric less 2-3 inches in length, and the same width as the midsection that I cut off from the shirt.

My deep blue ribbed knit

I joined the two raw edges of the ribbed knit to make a tube and overlocked the other raw edges.

Overlocking the raw edges of the blue ribbed knit

Here below I’m overlocking the edges of the brown shirt.

Overlocking the raw edges of the brown shirt.

Next I pinned the ribbed knit tube to the brown shirt right sides together, pinning in quarterly intervals.

Pinning right sides together

This is what it looks like after the tube is sewn on.

Half way there.

To lower the collar, I unpicked the the collar seam and recut the collar to where I wanted it to be.

The unpicked collar

The new collar position.

And I sewed the collar band back on.

Tada!

The finished refashioned shirt.

I like it so much better. Wyld Man likes it too.