Gable #2

I know I posted very recently about my first Gable but the main reason for a further report so soon afterwards is because of this fabric.  I just love it!

It’s the eco-jersey I bought from Ditto during the recent Portslade meet up.  I’d seen it online but decided to wait until I could actually touch it.  Once I had there was no way I was leaving without it.

This fabric is made without the use of chemicals which is reassuring because who wants formaldehyde (amongst other things) next to their skin?  This is also just about the best jersey I’ve ever sewn with.  The level of stretch was perfect and it has good recovery.  It is REALLY soft and the edges stay flat and smooth when it is cut.  It also washed very well and didn’t distort.

I made up the Gable in no time and wore it on Day 14 of #mmmay17.  I think because this fabric is firmer than the one I used for the first version the neckline felt slightly too high and began to feel like it was choking me.  Then my mother pointed out that it looked a bit high so I couldn’t stop thinking about it after that!  The beauty of this top is that the neckline is sewn right at the very end.  The instructions state that it should be sewn with a long straight stitch so it was very easy to unpick the front neckline, drop it down slightly and re-sew.   I wore it again on Day 17 and although it doesn’t really look any different, it does feel much better.

The Gable is definitely the top I’ve always been looking for and I will be making more.  Hopefully in chemical-free jersey.

 

 

 

Portslade Sewing Meet Up

Who could refuse an invitation from Zoe to an exclusive visit to Ditto and The Fabric Godmother during the bank holiday weekend?  I’ve been to several of Josie’s open days at her fabric headquarters but this time we were visiting Ditto’s unit in Portslade where the online orders are processed and Gill has been holding some open days recently.

Mr Jane Makes kindly dropped me off at Ditto after finishing his park run (a personal best at 25:40) and chose to change from his running gear into ‘normal’ clothes when we arrived.  Emma from @dressmakerssocial did mention later than she’d spotted him out of the window in his pants.  I hope she gets over the experience soon!  He has no shame.

I’ll spare you a photograph of him in his smalls!

In addition to Zoe and her friend Rea it was lovely to meet up with :

I nearly forgot – Zoe also brought her adorable baby, Frankie.  Given that he had to spend several hours being passed around his adoring fans he was as good as gold!

Being faced with all this fabric as we walked into Ditto was overwhelming!  This is just part of one room – there’s another one too!  There was also a table piled up with homemade cake.

I never remember to take proper photographs but the image on the right shows Sal, Louise and Vicki having an animated conversation whilst clutching fabric!

We were very well looked after by Emma’s daughter who took orders for hot drinks and her son recorded an interview with everyone, asking them to choose their favourite fabric and say what they were going to make with it!

As if that wasn’t enough fabric for one day – off we went to The Fabric Godmother.  Josie had very kindly prepared lunch for us and Claire supplied chocolate brownies.  Claire has something of the Mary Poppins about her and is able to produce pretty much anything you might need from the depths of her handbag including plastic bags for take away cake!

Some people were more restrained than others.   I’ve been committed to curbing my fabric buying recently, sticking to using up what I already have and seeking out secondhand fabric in charity shops.  However …. I had already spotted an eco jersey on Ditto’s website which is produced without the use of harmful chemicals and once I’d seen it IRL decided it would make a perfect second Gable TopHere’s my first one.

At The Fabric Godmother I succumbed to some mustard/gold denim.  I’ve had this fabric before to make a Brumby skirt which is now too big for me and although I’ve done a lot of alterations recently I just can’t face unpicking the waistband and dealing with all that gathering.  I may not necessarily replicate the Brumby but the fabric will definitely become another skirt.  I was also looking for some grey denim which I also found at TFG.  This may well become a Cleo dress.  I’m very late to the Cleo party but Louise’s version in sparkly denim finally decided me.

One of the highlights of the day was our goodie bag from Josie.  I didn’t open the package until later in the day when I discovered we had all been given a length of this amazing floral fabric and a pattern!  So generous. It is not something I would normally choose for myself but it is beautiful and I’m going to think very carefully about what I make with it to ensure I do it justice.

With fabric and cake in hand I headed off for Portslade station to catch a train back to Brighton to meet up with Mr J-M at my sister’s house.  Thankfully it’s only two stops because the train was rammed with Brighton supporters who had clearly already been to the pub and were singing some fairly inappropriate songs, the lyrics of which I won’t repeat here!  They were probably not as cheerful by the end of the day after losing the match.

A huge thank you to Ditto and The Fabric Godmother for a great day and for the great organisation by Zoe, Stevie and Claire.

Double Denim

Happy New Year!  I can’t believe I’m back at work and Christmas is all over and done with.  I’ve already written about the lovely #stitchingsanta gifts I received and on the sewing front I was also lucky enough to be given :

  • A one day overlocker course at The Fabric Godmother – I know this is the only way I am ever going to make the best use of mine.
  • A walking foot for my sewing machine.
  • A bumper box of assorted pins from Merchant & Mills
  • Lotte Jansdotter’s book, Everyday Style, which I’d heard about from Su over at butterflies and lemon drops.  The book comes with a set of paper patterns and the Esme dress will almost certainly be the first one I try.
  • A post-Christmas present from Gill over at vintagerockchick who sent me a lovely handmade zipped bag, needle case and brooch as a thank you for winning my book giveaway!

book

I’ve done almost no sewing over the Christmas break apart from a less than successful top from some rather extravagant silk jersey which I will gloss over for the time being.

Two rather more successful makes were completed in the nick of time to wear on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.  I was hemming both of them on Christmas morning!

First up is a third version of the Colette Laurel Dress in a lovely purple stretch denim which I bought from Ditto Fabrics when the Sew Bees visited Brighton on their inaugural meet up.  I washed the fabric twice before I used it (as advised) but I don’t think there was any shrinkage – although the colour does run.  This is quite a ‘springy’ and dense fabric and I found it slightly tricky to get a good finish on the points of the darts.  I unpicked one of the bust darts several times before I decided enough was enough!  The fabric didn’t like being unpicked and I ended up with a couple of white marks on the surface.  In the spirit of Karen’s recent post I am not going to Ablogogise about any shortcomings in my handmade clothes, at least during January, but she does say that it is OK to

share less than glowing details if they will help a reader with a construction, pattern or salutary lesson

I know at least two other people who read this blog bought the same fabric it was acceptable to mention that unpicking is better avoided or at least undertaken with more caution than I exercised!  Thankfully the minor problem was largely resolved when I washed the finished dress because the colour was still running slightly which helped blend in the tiny white marks.

I hadn’t planned to add the cuffs to this version but rather to cut the sleeves slightly longer as I’m not that keen on where the length sits on my arm.  Unfortunately I forgot all about this at the cutting out stage so then had to go with the cuffs.  I did find it quite difficult to pull the gathering threads in the sleeve head and the cuff.  I think they may have become emeshed in whatever provides the stretch in the fabric?  The result was rather uneven gathering on the cuffs but I decided against making a second attempt – I was running out of time and they are perfectly acceptable.

Despite these two issues I really love the fabric and it is a fabulous colour which is hard to appreciate from my photo of the finished dress.  Here it is before it was made up.

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In the end I think the cuffs add a dressier look which was just right for Christmas Day.  This is a REALLY comfortable dress to wear and the fabric feels lovely on, very soft and flexible, and it doesn’t crease.  I could have got away with a smaller size (which I did for my silk party version) but I wanted something suitable for lounging around in (and eating!).  I’ve already worn it three times so this Laurel is definitely a winner.

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The Boxing Day outfit was a second Brumby Skirt made from a mustard denim purchased at The Fabric Godmother’s open day.  I made the first one for Karen’s Made Up Initiative and whilst I loved the shape the fabric I used was just a bit too stiff and I felt like I was wearing a cardboard skirt!

I started the latest version some while ago but due to another cutting out error it had been abandoned until I could face putting it right.  I failed to decipher the notes I had made on my traced out pattern to remind me that I needed to extend the waistband slightly whilst keeping the rest of the skirt the original size – which is what I’d done the first time round!

Before discovering this I had come up with two pretty good (but almost certainly not original) ideas.

  • I’m not great at topstitching and this skirt has two lines of it right down the front.  I used two strips of masking tape to mark the stitching line and off I went, ending up with two pretty perfect lines of topstitching.
  • If you are using denim or other thicker fabric the pattern instructions recommend using fine cord which you zig zag to the fabric and then pull to create the gathers at the waistline.  This worked well with my previous Brumby but I discovered I had no cord to hand.  You need something fairly strong which will not snap so I decided to try dental floss!  It worked a treat and made it really easy to pull the gathers along.

These are not great photos but they give the general idea.  You can see that my presser foot is still stained pink from its recent encounter with some boiled wool!

The waistband went on beautifully the first time round, I pulled out the dental floss (which came out much more easily than cord) and I went to pin the skirt on Doris to see how it was shaping up.  I thought she’d put on weight but it was at this point I realised I’d cut the waistband too short.  Things went a bit downhill after this.  Unpicking, trimming, re-gathering, re-attaching the waistband, taking it off again because it didn’t look right, sewing it on again.  I think all this comes under the salutary lesson referred to above and I would also add that I will use a more substantial interfacing in the waistband if I make this skirt again because it doesn’t stand up well to a day’s wear – unlike the cardboard version which remains completely rigid regardless!

What I love most about this skirt is the pockets which are just fabulous!  I think it is essential to follow the suggestion to stitch a short way along the pocket edge by the seam to reinforce it, especially if you have a tendency to shove your hands in pockets like I do.

Here’s the finished article and it is another really comfortable wear with plenty of room for festive eating.  This photo is actually from the second wearing for a trip to London on Saturday.

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I think it goes very nicely with my fox brooch from Tatty Devine.  The top I’m wearing with the Brumby is this one on which I spent hours getting the curved hem band right and then never wore because it was too long and didn’t really work for me.  I took the bull by the horns, chopped off all that hard work, re-hemmed it (without the band) and now it is just right.

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I read recently about a blogger’s husband who spends up to 40 minutes taking lovely photographs for her.  Ha! This doesn’t happen chez JaneMakes I’m afraid which is why my photographs are taken in front of the mirror with my phone!  I definitely need to up my game somewhat and to that end I’ve ordered a tripod and remote control thingy to experiment with.

Apart from this I’ve not really made any specific sewing resolutions or plans as I’m not that good at sticking to them and once you’ve gone into print there is more of an expectation to achieve!  However, I am determined to continue with limiting/avoiding the purchase of new RTW clothing and, as a result of the cutting out errors documented above, I am going to try and take a more focused approach to my projects!  To assist with this I have a late Christmas present heading my way, the Maker’s Workbook from The Swedish Tracing Paper Shop.

Workbook

I’ve just bought the Grainline Moss Skirt pattern and the new Colette Phoebe from Guthrie & Ghani so hopefully one or both of these will be appearing here soon.  The fly zip insertion in the Moss will be a first for me so I hope I can master that!

 

Sewing Friends

I always say that one of the best things about writing a sewing blog is becoming part of an huge sewing community. Even better is that sometimes you get to actually meet up with some of those people and make great new friends.

Last Saturday was the inaugural meeting of the Sew Bees, a small group of sewing bloggers based along the south coast.  I had already met two of the members, one on each of this year’s open days at The Fabric Godmother.

Springystitches and Clarinda Kaleidoscope are both lovely and write really great blogs which I’ve been following for a while. Clarinda (who I’ve also met up with for lunch) provided the best photograph of the day.  Thank you!  W thinks it is funny that I have ended up framed by the security thingy and am rather in the spotlight, something I would normally avoid.Sew Bees

The lovely Sew Bees in the picture (l to r) starting from the person immediately next to me are :

Seamsoddlouise, butterfliesandlemondrops, Clarindakaleidoscope, springystitches, Daisy Creates in Sussex

We all met up in Brighton at the excellent Ditto Fabrics in Kensington Gardens.  Gill, the owner, has been running Ditto since 1983 and has an encyclopedic knowledge of fabrics.  She was so welcoming and I think we all learned something new.  She even set fire to two pieces of fabric, one real wool and one a synthetic version to show us how to distinguish between them – the burned edge of the wool fabric will stay smooth while the other will be rough and bobbly.   We also found out that the term ‘ponte Roma’ can be used to describe a whole range of jersey fabrics and it is important to ensure that you are buying the real deal – which has a great drape and feel.

The shop is quite small but the range of fabric is amazing and we were in there for ages – no-one emerged empty handed!  Here’s just a tiny selection of what’s on offer together with my haul for the day.

Top to bottom we have :

  • Purple denim with a bit of stretch.  This is destined for another Colette Laurel dress and was a very popular choice, going into the shopping bags of two other Sew Bees!  The chambray Laurel I made a while ago has become my go-to dress and I know I’ll make good use of another one.
  • Blue jersey.  This fabric has a great texture but I’m not sure what I’m going to make with it yet.
  • Heavyweight jersey with a subtle diamond pattern.  This is a lovely fabric which may become my first Coco dress (I’ve got a pile of Coco tops but have never made the dress).
  • Red patterned wool.  This fabric is fabulous!  It’s really substantial so I’ll probably stick with a plain, smart skirt for work to wear with a jacket.

All but the wool are destined for a pre-wash over the weekend.

You may have spotted that I didn’t introduce the person on the far left of the photograph!  Just as we were working our way towards the door to leave Ditto someone walked in all muffled up in a hat and scarf.  We both looked at each other and I realised it was Kate from Fabrikated who I met a few weeks ago at Karen’s Made Up meet up in London.  What a coincidence! Kate had never been to Ditto before but was meeting up with family for lunch in Brighton.  A lovely surprise.

We then headed off to The Manor in Gardner Street for lunch and then on to the Brighton Sewing Centre just round the corner in North Street.  I decided I’d bought quite enough fabric for one day but couldn’t resist one of these sparkly zips and I wasn’t the only one!  I’ve no idea yet what I’m going to use it for but I’m sure something will come up.  The photo doesn’t do it justice.

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After this everyone headed home and I popped up the road to see my sister.  It really was a brilliant day and definitely won’t be the last meet up for the Sew Bees.  I don’t think we stopped talking the whole time.  This included the time I spent on the train with SewingSu on the way to Brighton – the first time we’d ever met was when I got on at Chichester.  I knew we’d get on – we were both wearing purple tights!

All Made Up!

I originally posted here about my pledge for the Made Up Initiative set up by Karen over at didyoumakethat?  Her original aim to raise £1,ooo in support of the National Literacy Trust has already been met and and far exceeded which is fantastic.

My pledge was to make the Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen by the deadline of 10 September.  This pattern appealed to me the first time I spotted it online, not least because of the great pockets.  I picked Version 1 which is the shortest one with the BIG pockets!

Brumby Skirt

I managed to overcome my reluctance to be forced to sew in order to meet a deadline.   I traced off the pattern in small and made up a toile. I’m not sure if I missed something but the only problem I had was that the pocket facing and lining are not sized and the facing didn’t line up with the skirt front – there was a small piece sticking out at the top.  I just chopped it off. Very daring! Here’s the toile – which I was very happy with.

I decided the small might be a bit snug once the zip was inserted so sized up to medium for the final version.  This turned out to be fortuitous given what happened later.

On to the fabric.  I had three possible choices.

In the end I went for a grey/blue fabric from Ditto in Brighton (bottom right).  I’m not sure if this is a denim or a twill (or something else)?  I was advised in the shop to wash it first and thankfully I paid attention because it shrank quite a bit.  As a result I only just had enough fabric.  I thought I’d have to cut the facings from something else but with a lot of fiddling (and one facing not cut on the grain) I managed it.

The pattern instructions are very clear and everything came together well.  I invested in a new needle suitable for denim which made all the difference.  This is a weighty fabric!  I decided to topstitch in a matching thread because I didn’t want to mess things up with wonky stitching.  I went with the tip to stitch along the bottom edge of the pocket from the side seam for around 2″ to avoid gaping as I noticed this was an issue with the toile.

I was slightly apprehensive about the gathering technique for heavier fabrics using cord which you sew over with a wide zig zag stitch and then pull the cord to create the gathers (I didn’t try this on the toile). I was worrying unnecessarily – it works like a dream!  So effective and really easy, although I did have to cut the cord and extract it in several pieces when I’d finished, rather than just pulling it out in one go as suggested. I’ve not done much gathering before so I was expecting it to be tricky to get the waistband to attach neatly but it all went smoothly.  The fabric looks much ‘bluer’ in these close-ups than it actually is.

At this point things started to go downhill as I attempted the exposed zip insertion!  I’ve never done one of these before but I wanted to give it a go because I had a lovely blue denim zip which contrasted really well with the fabric.  I won’t go into the whole traumatic experience in too much detail because I don’t want to re-live it but I just couldn’t achieve a finish I was happy with – particularly after accidentally clipping one corner of the rectangular space you fit the zip into in the wrong direction!  I still can’t believe I did that! I did manage to stick it all back together with some interfacing and darning but it wasn’t a good start.  Several unpickings led to unsightly fraying at the bottom of the zip space and I suspect the thickness of the fabric didn’t help.

This was where the fact that I had cut the skirt larger than the toile was the saving grace.  I tried it on and realised that it was actually too big so I was able to trim the seam allowances back to get rid of the damage and insert a concealed zip instead.  I started with a navy blue one but that also came out and was replaced with a neutral one.  I used to be terrified of concealed zips but they now seem like a doddle by comparison!  The only problem is that the junction between the skirt and the waistband is quite chunky and a vigorous pull is required to get the zip up past it.

There is no denying that this is a substantial garment – it can actually stand up by itself!  W reckons it is bullet-proof and it is now known as the Kevlar Skirt.  Here’s the finished skirt, with a quick photo of it ‘styled’ with tights and boots which is how I’m intending to wear it, although I changed out of them very quickly to come to work as I had started to overheat!  Thankfully the zip behaved or I would have been trapped in it all day.  I’m hoping its first outing will be for Karen’s Make Up Meet Up on the 12th.  The photos make it look like the hem goes down at the front but rest assured that is an optical illusion!

Despite the zip trauma I absolutely love the Brumby and will definitely have another go at the exposed zip on the next version.  I’m really pleased to have finished this within the Made Up deadline and to be supporting this brilliant initiative.  Thank you Karen.

 

 

An Unfinished Dress

I’ve been trying to work out just how long ago I started this dress and I think it might be four years! I made an earlier version of it in a floral fabric which turned out beautifully and I have worn it so much. All that needs doing to this one is some slip stitching at the shoulders where I’ve turned the lining through and hemming.  Unfortunately I couldn’t work out how the lining attaches to the main fabric along the hemline split (I was doing a sewing class when I finished the last one so had some help) and as a result it has ended up at the bottom of the pile. I’ve now had another look at it and I think because I didn’t have quite enough of the lining fabric (a lovely fine lawn) I had to cut it rather short which means that I can use this as an excuse not to finish it according to the pattern and just finish the split neatly and hem each layer separately. I did pull a loose thread which unravelled some of the understitching around the neckline.  This obviously hadn’t been finished properly so that will also need to be dealt with. The pattern is a Butterick See & Sew and I’m not sure how the envelope got so battered! The jacket is very definitely not my style but the dress is a lovely shape with princess seams and I adapted the pattern slightly on the hips for a really good fit. The fabric is a bit loud but I rather like it! The images are Brighton Pavilion and the fabric came from Ditto in Kensington Gardens in Brighton which is very appropriate.

I am going to make this a project for the weekend so it is ready to wear for the summer. I have finished my first two Morsbags and will be giving one away to a friend this afternoon. I sewed the label on the plain side of the one with blue boats so it was visible but now I wish I’d put it on the side with the patterned fabric as this is more likely to be on show. The floral/stripy image is the reverse of the first image and was constructed from three different fabrics.

The second one will be handed over tomorrow and I’ll then get on with the rest (eighteen to go).

An Invisible Zip

I’ve inserted several concealed zips in the past but only in a sewing class where there was a suitably qualified grown up to help me!  Left to my own devices I’ve always struggled to get it right and this was preventing me making so many of the things I wanted to.  I then discovered Tilly’s explanation in her book Love at First Stitch and suddenly it all became clear.  I’ve now done three in quick succession.

This is another fabric I bought in Ditto in Brighton which is a lovely soft tweed.  The photo doesn’t really do it justice as it is much brighter than this in real life.

Fabric 1

I thought it would fray horribly when it was cut but it was fine and I just finished the seams with a zig zag.

Here’s the zip.  It doesn’t seem quite straight in this photo but it looks fine on and how many people inspect the back of your skirt that closely?

Zip

Talking of Tilly, I’m about to cut out my second Coco top from this fairly heavyweight jersey fabric in a green and neutral stripe from The Eternal Maker.  My first one in a grey and white stripe turned out well but the funnel neck went a bit droopy after a couple of washes.  I’m hoping this one will be better at standing to attention!

Just the hem of one more winter skirt to finish off so I get the chance to wear it before the spring arrives.