Sunday, February 23, 2014

Your Lovely Comments and Blog Chit Chat.

I just want to post a quick thank you note to all of you who have been so helpful recently with all your tips about sewing knits.  I can't say that I have always enjoyed learning to handle knits, but I'm a great believer in jumping in and learning how textiles work - and then I go and read what to do next.  It might sound back to front, but it works for me.  I would never start anything if I tried to do everything right from the word go - I think I would just be overwhelmed :).

So thank you for telling me about seam stabilisers, needles, and how to do hems.  Some of the products you mention are not available easily where I live, but they can go on my shopping list for when I place orders "elsewhere".

I've also ordered a book on how to sew knits - I can see there is a whole world of knit garments and fabrics to be explored.  I have ordered this:

Nancy Zieman - Sew Knits with Confidence.
 It will take a couple of weeks to arrive - I've cut out a couple more t-shirts and will make them up, but I am in awe of some of my more stretchy viscose knits.  Time to start learning more!

I know there are also good courses on Craftsy - and I do watch Threads videos as well, but I love books - I find them better to read at night (did you know that the light from computers upsets the sleep cycle?  I make sure I turn my white light sources off at 7.30 pm, and revert to reading on paper).
I have been exceptionally busy over the last few weeks helping my husband move his practice.  It's not over yet, but the worst has been done and we are at least operating again.  

So I have not had so much time to sew - I've made muslins, and done some cutting out, and hopefully can get back into a daily sewing routine.  Half and hour a day keeps the blues at bay and also helps to make a garment:)

I also start my new study program tomorrow  - I'm actually looking forward to one of the subjects - advanced data analysis - but I think tomorrow I might change my mind.   So sewing will be structured in as a reward for doing my work.  And when I finish an assignment, I think stashing should be listed as a reward too!

So in the next few weeks I will be back to a blog routine - a main post once a week with smaller inbetween if there is sewing news to report.  I'll also be redoing my blog roll to make sure that all my regular followers are on my roll - most of you are on my blogger feed.

Sarah Liz

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Inspired by the Movies - A Little Black and White Tee...

I was in two minds about this contest until I visited  This site was listed on the contest discussion as a place to find ideas.  I decided I would enter this contest after seeing this image of Jean Seberg - from the French Neo Realist Film "Breathless".


Now Jean Seberg circa 1960s gamim I am not:

I do find that classic black and white tees very handy though.  And as some of you know, I am trying to learn to sew with knits at the moment.  They all seem to handle so differently.  So this contest seemed an ideal opportunity to stretch my knowledge, and the inspiration to make up a piece of black and white knit in my stash was too hard to resist.

I used Kwik Sew3766:

I cut size small (and yes, I did make a muslin first - I always check a new pattern with a muslin):

The muslin was a cheap polyester knit- there were wrinkles radiating down from the neckband to arm, but I thought this had much to do with the plastic rigid nature of this cheap fabric.

The final garment looks nice and is not wrinkling nearly as much:

This was an exercise in sewing knits so I will show you the sewing:

I usually anchor a neckband down when I sew a stretch band on - I thought this did not look good with this sharp fabric - so I took the stitching out :

Which on this fabric is a much nicer finish - it looks sharp and crisp, just like the stripes.

The inside stitching looks neat - I'm a bit of a stickler for garments looking as good inside as out - see above.

And this one does - above is the inside, and below the outside:

The only real problem I had was with the hem - it just wanted to stretch and stretch.  After numerous sample runs, I decided the solution was to "band" the hem - which means I just turned it up and overlocked the hem allowance on so that it functions as a band:

The finished result works quite well:

The hem is now a separate band - it looks quite good and solved the problem :)

The arms are also hemmed in the same fashion.

So, one finished little black and white t-shirt:

Unfortunately, there is quite a strobe effect happening in this picture - in real life it looks beautiful on.  And feels lovely on.  I'll try and get DH to take a photo one day, when we both have some time.

This little pattern was a gem - it fits nicely and it looks good.  It is going to go into my TNT pile:)

Sarah Liz

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Three Little Tees and Three Muslins

Yes, I have been busy, not so much with sewing but with a lot going on in my other life.  The first part of moving the practice has occurred - still lots to sort out, but we are there.  So I haven't had much time to sew, nor have I had the right sort of mindset - I have been distracted and this is when I tend to make sewing mistakes.  What I do in these sorts of situations is continue sewing, but usually I work on muslins for the next set of plans.
Before I show you the recent muslin attempts, I will show you what I made in January.   I am a novice when it comes to sewing knits - I know that they are supposed to be easy, but I think learning to sew anything new does require a learning curve.

And these certainly did.

I had a piece of very lightweight white cotton jersey in my stash and thought this would be ideal to make a cool summer t-shirt.  I used New Look 6216.


I decided to make version B with the little arm bands - it is otherwise exactly the same as C but I liked the look of the bands. 

I have made this top before in a drapey knit, which was easy to sew, but a nightmare to get right with the stripes - they had to be level at the hem.  I used C and made the neckline smaller and added quite a bit of tension to the black knit band I added.  It's quite a little bit on the A Line side, but looks nice and is comfy to wear:

New Look 6216 View C
As there is some tension around the neckline, I decided to cut the slightly smaller neck size but to loosen the tension of the band (ie not stretch it so much).  This resulted in a slightly lower and larger neck, but not as wide as the original of the pattern which would have slid off my shoulders.

A simple five minute job to cut out, and I anticipated a quick sew.  Eager to start, I put a ballpoint needle on my machine.  I started.  The seam had skipped stitches - lots of them.

I hummed and harred.  I changed the needle to another ballpoint needle.

The seam had skipped stitches - lots of them.


I wondered if my machine had developed a problem.  I used the same needle and stitched a piece of voile.

The machine did not skip stitches.

The machine did not have a problem.  My white jersey fabric did.  It did not like the ball point needle.

I changed machines to my Janome electronic (that I usually only use for buttonholes).  I put on a ballpoint needle.  The machine skipped stitches. 

I got fed up and hungry.  I went and made dinner.

In between stirring things, I looked through my needle collection.  I found needles that called themselves Universal and claimed to be able to sew all fabrics especially knits, as they had a slight ball point.

These needles only fit the Janome, so I inserted one.  I stitched a seam.  There were a few skipped stitches but decidedly less.

I rescued the dinner (which I really wasn't paying attention to).  I decided it was late and I better eat and clean up.  DH is usually in very late after seeing patients in the evening, so his was put aside and I went back to the problem.

With a large sigh, I decided that perhaps I should read the Janome manual.  I discovered that two stitches on the machine were two stitches dedicated to fussy knits.

I tried one - it worked.  I tried the second - it didn't.

I concluded that I was working with a very fussy knit indeed.

And that it was going to take longer than a quick half hour to make.  And was not going to be so simple after all.


That's sewing!

 This was the result:

I found the neckband quite slow and tedious to put on - the domestic machine is a little different from my old workhorse.  And the stretch stitch had the tiniest stitches - so it seemed to take forever.

The rest of the seams were quick and simple on the serger.

The armbands were simple to serge on.

The I had the hem to do.  I tested a hem edge - just a one inch turn up and stitch sort of hem. Quite simple, even if a bit slow on the Janome.

I pressed the test hem.  It wanted to buckle.  It was not going to lay flat.  It was not going to behave.

What now???  I racked my brains and decided to serge the hem on, like a little band.

The result:  A bit sewn on looking, but much better than the test hem.

Here it is on me:

The band sticks out a little bit, but overall, for an around the house, hot weather, after a shower throw on with loose pants sort of  t-shirt, it works!!

I also made a little t-shirt from my modified pattern from view A- the long sleeve t-shirt.  I folded out the body fullness and shortened the sleeves to view B and added bands.  This t-shirt has less fullness than the one above:

Still sticks out a bit at the bottom, but I prefer the fit of this one - still loose but not quite so baggy.  Another, around the house, hot weather, after a shower through on with loose pants t-shirt.

At least they are not complete wadders :)

As I had a bit of jersey left, but not enough length for a t-shirt, I decided to get inventive.  As the bottom of the t-shirt is quite loose, I thought I could use a strip of voile at the bottom, and also use voile armbands.  I was pleased with the result:

My self timed picture of this t-shirt is less than flattering, but believe me, it looks nice on.  I'll show you another day.


I now consider that I have been well introduced to the pitfalls of sewing knits, so it should get easier from now on!

My knit practice will be useful for the t-shirt I have planned for pattern review's contest "Inspired by the Movies".  I will be making a Breton t-shirt using Kwik Sew 3766.

I have made a muslin from a cheap polyester knit:

As you can see, the lines of this t-shirt look a lot nicer on me than the baggy A-Line Shape of New Look 6216.  It's just that in very hot or very humid weather, baggy feels better!  But this sort of line looks better on me. 


I was very pleased with my muslin for Vogue1316:

The muslin:

I just used bits and pieces and didn't actually follow the colour blocking in the pattern.  I was only interested in the fit and whether the pieces went together.  It fits beautifully, but I'll show you this on me when I do the post for the finished garment.


I also wanted to try a Style Arc pants pattern - everyone says how good they are and how the fit is just right.

So I decided to try a simple pant, the Style Arc Barb's stretch pant.

I looked at the pattern pieces and decided to keep a very open mind - after all, everyone says how good these are.  I found a piece of stretch fabric in the stash that I really don't like, and made a muslin.  I knew it wasn't going to work for me, so I didn't sew the band on.  Have a look at what I mean:

These are going to sit far too low on me even with the band on. My tummy pokes right over the top of them - that's what I am pointing at.

A side view tells the whole sorry story:

Yes.  Not as good look.  And I still have saggy under bottom wrinkles even with these pants that supposedly fit perfectly.

Not on me.  But I shouldn't really be surprised.  Because RTW doesn't work on me either.

These pants are cut for a pear shape figure with a low bottom and a flattish tummy.  I do not have that sort of shape.

So I altered the pants to waist height and cut out another muslin out of stretch fabric I am not overfond off:

This suits me much better - I agree, that the hip line does fit nicely.

Lets look at the side (and this photo is a bit blurry):

Much better look over the tummy.  I have cut the back rise high - I have a high rise, and wasn't sure where to end it.

The back looks quite good as well.  But there is a big problem.  I can't sit in them.  Or move.  They are tight.

As it is not the height of the rise that is the problem, it has to be elsewhere.  Only one place.  So I opened the seam.

Here is the result (Warning - you need a sense of humour for this picture):

Yes.  Right there.  I need extra here.   And if you look at my shape, I have a triangular bottom, not a pear shaped bottom.  I need more in the rear crotch.

Sigh.  Back to the drawing board...

Style Arc is not going to be the right brand for me for pants.  Back to the search for the perfect pants solution...

And that is the round up of the last few weeks...

Sarah Liz :)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Little White Dress Contest - Construction of the dress

I entered the Little White Dress contest on Pattern Review.  The pictures of my Little White Dress were posted yesterday and can be found here.

I'll also post one here for those of you that have either seen yesterday's post or are only interested in construction methods for this dress. 

I used a see through crinkly embroidered cotton  cheesecloth with a voile lining.  I used New Look 6095:

I have made this dress before, so it was a simple matter of just working out how to seam this fabric.  I decided on french seams for both shells, with an invisible zip in the centre back and french seams underneath.

I also decided to use a cotton facing (interfaced)  over the voile lining to add more stability.  The sleeves were bagged out and a binding used to finish the armscye seam.

First I constructed the shells of outer dress and inner lining.  The back seam was left open:

Then I constructed the sleeves:

Before inserting the zip, I decided to sample the insertion of an invisible zip and do french seams underneath:

To find that I can make this technique work.  Now for insertion of the zip into the dress:

I overlocked the seams because I was not sure how I wanted to finish them or how they would work at the french seam point.  Later I covered the overlocking with a lace edge used as a binding - like a Hong Kong finish but without the bulk I would get with a bound layer.

Next job was to tackle those french seams:

First I worked out which way to seam them - as you know, they seams have to end up inside.  With a dress and a lining, this was going to get confusing:

I pin everything in these situations.  I also pin the finish point to make sure there is not pucker under the zip.

Okay, I think I can sew:

Then flop over and do the seam the other way around - and I can't press this fabric, so I just finger pressed the seam:

That's the first french seam done. A quick check outside to see whether the seams are behaving themselves:

Yes.  A little bit of hand sewing needed (see pin)  but looking good.

Then repeat the process with the lining - I started the seam one inch (2 cm) below the starting point of the dress as otherwise a lot of bulk would be sitting under the zip.

Now for that handsewing - I couldn't get the machine right up into this part of the seam:

 Like this - now it is all sewn up:

 Then I anchored the zip by hand:

You will also see that I have added the lace binding to make the edges of the zip allowance look attractive.

Voila.  Done.  Here is the finished shell, back view :

This is straight from the machine - I can't iron this fabric.  Also, the crinkly cheesecloth drops like made, so I think I've done quite a good job on the zip.

The finishing of this dress was then straightforward - simply sewing in the sleeves and then hemming it.