Wise up Wednesdays- Pinning and clipping

I keep two types of pins in my sewing kit.  Firstly, ordinary sharp pins, but I prefer mine to have glass heads so that I can’t melt them if I touch them with an iron.

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Secondly, I have some fine ballpoint pins which I keep to use on particularly delicate fabrics and on jersey.  They do have a habit of slipping out so I definitely have to handle things carefully once they are pinned with these.

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Finally, I have some quilting clips.  These are great for anytime that pins are not your friend.  Fabrics which might ladder or mark, waterproof fabrics or leather, net and fabrics that pins just fall back out of.  Even anything which is a bit thick and bulky for pins can be clipped easily.

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I keep my pins in little clippy boxes.  They need to be big enough to get your hands in and out easily.  Especially as I don’t like to stop sewing to remove my pins, I need to be able to find the pot while still watching the needle!

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My clips stay safe in a little drawstring bag.  These are so simple to make, and I always have plenty around to be used to wrap small presents or store odds and ends.  I use a tutorial by Pam at Threading my Way which is super simple to follow, and creates a neat finished pouch.  They are great for using up scraps or co-ordinating fat quarters!

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Lane Raglan

Coming into spring, I am definitely feeling the need for candy colours and for some more t-shirts.  I am experimenting with a lot of new patterns at the moment. This one, the Lane Raglan by Hey June was popping up all over the place and it looked so pretty that I couldn’t resist!  I already have a couple of t-shirt patterns (see my Tilly and the Buttons Agnes here and Sew Over It Molly Top here) but I don’t want to be wearing the same one all the time, and while I can make some changes to these patterns, the Lane Raglan is different enough that I wanted to give it a try.

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The three patterns listed above all have different ways of dealing with the sleeve.  In the Agnes Top, there is a set in sleeve which I have found fits me particularly well.  The Molly Top has a cut on Kimono style sleeve, but I haven’t had much luck with the longer sleeved version. Lane is a raglan sleeve and this simple shape makes it perfect for colour blocking.  It also means that the body and sleeves are perfect for smaller fabric remnants.

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Having made quite a few t-shirts now, I didn’t really have any trouble with cutting or sewing this up.  I was a little surprised though that there were no notches in the pattern at all to help get everything lined up.  It didn’t cause me any issues, but might be worth bearing in mind if this is the first time you have made something like this.

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Hey June patterns are pretty cool because they have different pieces included with a full bust adjustment (FBA). My measurements put me slightly above the size XS (with the FBA) but the advice in the pattern is to size down if you are between sizes.  It has turned out fairly roomy and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to size up. I’m not totally sure about the fit around the arm, but I’m not sure if that is just how the raglan sleeve fits or if there is something I can do to improve it.

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I made this top with fabrics from Girl Charlee and they are just perfect t-shirt weight.  Both are cotton spandex blends so they should have good recovery and are a plain coral and a beautiful floral for contrast.  Both fabrics have sewn up well, but I have noticed that the white backing does sometimes show through the print on the floral if it gets stretched sewing.  This top does not have the neatest insides because for some reason my overlocker did not seem to like the plain coral fabric! It kept ending up with little ripples and tucks, thought they aren’t really visible on the outside.

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I’m pretty happy with how this has turned out and it is a nice change from my other t-shirt patterns.  There are several variations in this pattern including a hem band and a hood to make it into a sweater/hoodie and I’m keen to give that a try at some point.  I have a selection of other Girl Charlee prints waiting to become t-shirts so I think there will be a few more raglans in my wardrobe soon!

 

Wise up Wednesdays- An Introduction

Hi, this blog has been growing steadily for the last few months and I would like to thank everyone for reading and commenting. I really love seeing people interacting with it.  Today I am starting to expand the blog a little more.  On top of the usual Sunday posts I am going to be beginning a series called ‘Wise up Wednesdays’ which will include some ‘how to…’s, tools and techniques.  The first post is going to be landing next week so please let me know what you think of this new series and let me know if there are particular things you want to see in it.  Is there a skill that you’ve always wanted to know about, a tool that you’ve seen and you don’t know what its for or a sewing machine foot that you have never touched? Let me know and I will try to give you an answer!

Kelly Skirt

This skirt has been a staple in my wardrobe, year round, whatever the weather!  It is amazing to find patterns that are really versatile and practical and this is one of them.  It is the Kelly Skirt pattern my Megan Nielson, but I received it free with Love Sewing magazine in 2015 when dressmaking was new to me and it is still going strong.

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I wanted a skirt that could be worn with anything and so chose a classic denim to keep it fairly neutral.  It didn’t want it to be totally plain though, so I decided on contrast topstitching.  It did take a while to choose a colour that I was happy with.  I chose this red because it does add a bit of character, but without making it difficult to wear with lots of other colours.  To make it stand out a little more, I did double rows of topstitching, using the edge of my presser foot as a guide to keep the spacing even.

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This skirt is super simple to construct as was for me a great introduction to pleats.  There are 4 box pleats, 2 front and two at the back to give the nipped in waist and then flaring to make space for the hips.

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Like the topstitching, choosing buttons was another dilemma.  I wanted something neutral but not boring!  These hexagonal shell buttons are just lovely.  They have a subtle shine and pick up the colours around them.

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And obviously, I couldn’t make a pattern without showing you the pockets!  These pockets are in a star print cotton and are the scraps from another project.  I think exciting pockets are my favourite use of scraps of fabric.

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I have since made another in aubergine needlecord and it is also a popular wardrobe pick of mine, though is getting less wear in the spring as it is a little dark.  It does have good pockets though too!

Carrie Trousers

IMG_1246Despite comments and mockery from my co-workers last summer about these Carrie Trousers from Sew Over It, they are indeed trousers and not pajamas!  This pattern was released by Sew Over It as part of their ‘Ultimate Guide to sewing and fitting trousers’ online course.

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As mentioned above, these were made at the end of last summer and they are just so comfy.  I wasn’t sure that it was a style that I would wear, but I wanted to make them to practice some trouser skills before embarking on something more complicated. It also gave me the opportunity to have a first attempt at sewing drapey rayon.  Sadly, I cant remember where I bought this from, but I feel like I have seen this fabric all over the internet!

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The fabric behaved itself very well and the online course from Sew Over It is excellent.  For some reason, making trousers does seem much trickier than a skirt or dress, but the videos and guides did remove the mystery and fear surrounding this project!  The course does also include the Ultimate Trouser pattern, and help in getting these more complex and fitted trousers to work for you.

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Going back to the Carrie trousers, these were very simple to fit because of the loose flowing style and an elasticated back waistband.  The front panel of the waistband is left flat for a more flattering fit.  The only problems that I have had with them is that, 1. my elastic keeps trying to twist within the waistband and 2. the front section of waistband is not quite firm enough to hold its shape.

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I think that the first problem might be solved by stitching through the elastic and waistband in a few places to keep it in place.  Problem two- perhaps I needed some stiffer interfacing to help it hold its shape.

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Because these are loose fitting, they are perfect for summer.  They keep you cool when it is warm, but because they are full length you don’t get cold legs if the weather turns windy.  I personally love them for travelling in- it is a bit like wearing your pjs (just don’t tell the guys at work)!

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Califaye Pocket Skirt

This simple skirt is my May offering for Project Sew My Style, and is from another new-to-me designer.  It is based on the Pocket Skirt by Califaye, but I have made quite a few tweaks along the way!

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First off, I used this tutorial by Mali to swap the patch pockets for slash front pockets.  Because I have made quite a few simple skirts before I didn’t really use the instructions provided with the pattern other than to skim through, and so I did change the construction order slightly.  Unlike some indie patterns, the instructions here don’t seem to be the simplest to follow, and there are only a few illustrations which might make this a bit tricky for a new dressmaker, even though a simple skirt should be very manageable.

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I used some linen from Fabric Godmother for my skirt which I bought at the same time as the challis from my Bridgetown Dress.  Unfortunately it is now out of stock, but I love that the random pattern means no need to match seams!  The linen was a little thick to gather smoothly especially where there were several layers of fabric around the pocket.  I think really I might have been better off with something a bit thinner, but the linen is beautiful and will be fantastic as the weather warms up.

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For such a simple garment this was not trouble free.  I cut a size M based on my measurements, but think I should have stuck with my instinct and cut a small.  I had to use the elastic in the back waistband to cinch it in to fit.  That has made the back of the skirt a bit more gathered than it should be and I’m not sure how flattering it is.  Perhaps after a few washings the linen will soften up.

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I was also not very sure about the length! I have used the 5cm hem as directed in the pattern, but I think it might be making the skirt a little too short.  I ended up wearing it just below my natural waist to take these pictures to get the length that I felt comfortable in, but I’m not sure that that flatters my figure either. Maybe I just need to lower the hem a bit!

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I decided to add a contrast exposed zip to jazz the skirt up a little as it is such a simple shape.  I think I might use the next Sew My Style project (the Briar top by Megan Nielson) to make a simple white t-shirt to wear with this.  I already have some modal cotton jersey from Girl Charlee which should be really soft and lovely for this.  Definitely looking forward to the summer sewing!

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