Finally Finished!

At last we have a starfish skirt!  This is the tulip skirt from Sew Over It featured in Simply Sewing magazine and I love it – and so does Doris!

The free pattern accompanied Issue 5 of the magazine and the instructions have been divided into three instalments.  My lack of patience meant that I pressed on regardless.

There are only four pieces to the pattern : front, back, one piece waistband and a pocket.  You may remember that I made a toile which resulted in me raising the pockets by 2.5 inches because I couldn’t reach them!  There are darts at the back and two large pleats on each side at the front which create the tulip shape.  I chose the shorter of the two lengths but realised at the toile stage that this would be way too short and so I added a couple of inches.

The instructions were easy to follow and the skirt came together really quickly.  I’ve never really gone in for pattern matching before but because this was such a big bold pattern I decided that I needed to make an effort to avoid it looking messy at the back.  I’m not sure of the ‘official’ way to do this so I just cut out the left hand back piece,  individually pressed under the seam allowance and then lay it on the remaining fabric, lining up the large starfish.   I then measured across ⅝” to the left, i.e. under the already cut piece, for the other seam allowance, marked this on the fabric and removed the cut piece.  I then reversed the pattern piece, matched up with the markings and cut out the right side.

I’m quite pleased with the result for a first attempt, the large starfish match pretty well across the concealed zip, although the smaller ones are ‘pointless’ in a couple of places.  The zip also went in quite neatly.

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I wanted to line the skirt to help support the ‘tulipness’ of the skirt and used a crisp, spotty lawn that I’ve used before and always seems to appear on the remnants table in C & H Fabrics.  As before I used Tilly‘s instructions for inserting a lining with a concealed zip which works like a dream and gives a really lovely finish.

I particularly like the pleats at the front, perfect for helping to conceal any sticking out in the tummy area!

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The problem came when I arrived at the hemming stage.  I can only think that I must be an odd shape but the hem dipped down a substantial amount at the front and I just couldn’t get it right.  Cue a visit to my mother to stand on a stool and rotate while she pinned and my sister offered helpful comments.

Finally it was level but this involved a variance of more than an inch from front to back!  I then had to unpick and re-sew part of the hem on the lining, which I had already done in line with Tilly’s instructions, as it was poking out at the front.  I finished the hem with bias binding.

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I think it was all worth it.

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I do have a confession though.  I was so keen to get started on this skirt that I didn’t wash the fabric first and I just know it is going to shrink – which will be a problem as it is a perfect fit.  I can’t bear to think about it but given that I am the sort of person who can’t wear anything white for more than about five minutes without getting it dirty I could have a problem on my hands.  I may have to resort to dry cleaning, which I really don’t like,  and keep the skirt for special occasions.

Simply Sewing Magazine : the next instalment

Having found the last issue of Simply Sewing magazine quite inspiring I decided to invest in Issue 6, not least to see the next stage of the instructions for the tulip skirt even though I’d already pressed ahead with it regardless.  In fact these primarily covered the addition of belt loops and piping at the waistband, neither of which I needed!

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The free gift with Issue 6 was a piece of faux suede fabric.  I have a major aversion to the feel and smell of real suede but the faux version is much more acceptable, feel and smell-wise.  There was a small supplement with some suggestions for using the fabric including patch pockets and an embellished collar.  I decided to tackle the Japanese knot bag.  The instructions were easy to follow, although top stitching around the  edge of the shorter handle (through which the longer handle slips to secure the bag) was a bit fiddly.

I lined the bag with some cotton fabric and was really pleased with the result. The bag is a great shape.

I made another zipped purse from some silk fabric I bought at a fabric sale in Petworth.  This one was for my goddaughter’s birthday and the fabric would also be perfect for a glamorous evening version of the knot bag (my sister’s idea).  I’ve held off making a garment from it because of its ‘crispy’ finish but I did find that ironing softened it up a bit so it might be OK  – and I won’t sound like I’m wearing a paper bag!

The red lining was a scrap from a pile of old fabric given to me by my mother.

I am turning into a bag lady … I’ve now made this cover for my new notebook/tablet.  All I did was draw round it onto some paper and extend the rectangle by 2 cms all round to allow for a 1 cm seam and a further centimetre for manoeuvring the tablet in and out.  The stripy fabric is lined with some chambray and I incorporated some wadding on each side for added protection.  I cut this to exactly the same size as the tablet.  The wadding did cause me a bit of a headache when I was turning the bag through the lining because the tacking I’d used to secure it temporarily to each side came adrift.  I managed to resolve the problem by sticking my hand through the turning hole and smoothing it out.

Going back to the magazine, it was almost worth it for the knot bag idea.  There are some nice home accessories using lovely fabrics – including some useful storage boxes. There is also an article about The Makery in Bath, an interesting item on sewing bloggers and some cute embroidered bunny building blocks.

I’ll go for anything rabbit-related!

Fabric Splurge and a Tulip Toile

Note to self : always make up a toile when trying out a new pattern, it makes all the difference!  I finished one for the Sew Over It tulip skirt from Simply Sewing magazine on Friday evening and discovered the following :

  • I love the shape of the skirt
  • The shorter length is definitely too short
  • The pockets are far too low down for my (short) arms to reach
  • I do not have the patience to wait for the next issue of the magazine for the rest of the instructions so am just going to get on with it

As a result of these discoveries I raised the pockets by 2.5 inches and added a couple of inches to the length of the skirt.

The pattern instructions are very clear and comprehensive,  although I questioned using the same seam allowance for stitching the pocket pieces to the side seams initially and for the main seam allowance.  I decided to do what I’ve done previously, ⅜ for the initial stitching and ⅝ for the main seam.

On to Saturday morning and a visit to The Eternal Maker, (a) because they are out of town and have their own parking and (b) because they have a very nice coffee bar which is an ideal place for W to sit and read the paper while I shop!

I came away with these three …

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The blue chambray will be used for the Cynthia Rowley jacket.  It is a really nice weight and I think it will work well.

The double-sided (stripes and spots) jersey is seriously lovely.  It is made up of two thin layers joined together and is incredibly soft.  I’ve not decided what to make with it yet but probably a Coco-type top if I can squeeze it out of the amount I’ve bought.

Yes, those are blue starfish and yes I am making the tulip skirt out of this fabric!  W looked decidedly unsure when I showed it to him in the shop but now it is well on the way to being finished I think he is convinced by the choice.  I love it and think this could end up being one of my favourite makes to date.

I made another zipped purse at the weekend from the Simply Sewing pattern, this one was for a birthday present to hold some fancy lip balm and cuticle cream.  I did make a small piece of bias binding from the spotty fabric for the zip pull but the binding was too wide for the tiny hole and ended up in tatters – hence the pink ric-rac.  The binding attempt was another first – following instructions in Simply Sewing (that magazine really has proved worth the investment) and using a tool I bought ages ago and had never even taken out of the packet.  It is SO easy to do I might have a go at making a longer length.

 The floral fabric was left over from this dress.

The big reveal of the starfish skirt will follow soon.

Toil(e)ing Away

Sorry about the title, it came to me while I was cleaning my teeth and just wouldn’t go away!

Having said in a previous post that I rarely buy magazines I then remembered I had bought another one a while back, tempted by three free Simplicity patterns.

One of them was this jacket which I thought would be a good starter pattern as I’ve never made a jacket before and I am somehow more nervous of starting the Morris blazer now that I’ve read through the sew-along with Grainline than I was before!

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There are two versions of the jacket, one plain and the other made up of several separate bands on the front and back to create a striped effect. I think you can guess which option I went for, the likelihood of me managing to get all the stripes to match up across the front was just too remote. The version I picked just has one band along the bottom of the jacket and the sleeve. I particularly like this design because I have short arms and these bracelet length sleeves are just normal length on me!

I decided on this occasion to make a toile to get a really good fit. The pattern goes up to a size 14  and I thought the model on the packet looked a bit ‘trussed up’.  That wasn’t a look I wanted so I cut the largest size so I could work down from that.

Everything went together very easily. I don’t recall ever having set in a sleeve before and as this was just to establish the right fit I didn’t go to town on easing them in particularly carefully.  The toile certainly doesn’t bear close inspection but I got the general idea and I’ve now watched a tutorial on YouTube (I know, I should have watched that first!).

I really like the sleeve and hem bands and there is an opportunity here for some colour blocking or fabric combinations.

The jacket is lined in the main fabric, turned through the armhole and then the lined sleeves are then inserted. That sounds really straightforward when you type it but I’ve yet to decipher the instructions and I think I’ll need more than an on-line tutorial to get me through the real thing.  I may need one of you to come round to my house to help.

Back to fit. A size 14 is too big! I don’t know why I thought it would be OK because I’ve only just made up a Cynthia Rowley design and there is more than enough room in the size 10.

Jane's VersionTo make sure I could judge the front opening of the jacket I sewed under a ⅝ hem and the front overlaps quite a bit which it isn’t supposed to, although I’m not planning to include the hook and eye fastening at the front as I would never do it up.  The shoulders are also a touch too wide (although they do appear quite wide in the pattern photo).   I’m going to go for a 12 so that there is still room to move.  I think I will take the sleeves in slightly as the part that comes close to my wrist is really designed to be located around the forearm so is a bit too flappy.  As I’m always getting caught up on door handles it would be advisable to reduce that flappiness.

I was then on a toile roll so decided to trace off the tulip skirt pattern previously mentioned which was free with Simply Sewing Magazine. I did this in a bit of a rush and the pieces got a bit messy with Sharpie ink smudges all over. After I’d cut them out I got rather confused with the front pattern piece which is so much wider at the top than the bottom because of the large pleats to create the tulip shape. I’m not entirely convinced about this shape for me but hopefully the toile will decide me one way or the other.

Yes, I’ve spotted the fly which landed on the table just as I was taking this photograph! Our conservatory is an insect graveyard at this time of year due to the oven-like temperatures reached during the day. Pattern cutting activities have to be restricted to very first thing in the morning or later in the evening to avoid heatstroke.

I hope I’m not the only one to find it almost impossible to trace off the right lines in circumstances like the one on the right above!

Fabric shopping tomorrow as I’m sure I don’t have anything suitable for either of these garments …….

Simply Sewing : a magazine review

I don’t usually buy magazines, sewing or otherwise, although I am lucky enough to get a subscription to Selvedge as a birthday present every year.

However, I am occasionally tempted by a nice cover or a free pattern and I recently spotted a sew along opportunity for a Lisa Comfort (from Sew Over It) skirt in Issue 5 of Simply Sewing magazine.  I really liked the shape of this tulip skirt and as there was also a free kit to make a zipped purse I decided to give it a try.

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I will almost certainly make the skirt, although I’m not sure my usual sewing impatience will allow me to wait until Issue 7 of the magazine to finish it off!  The instructions look really clear and detailed so the project would be ideal for a beginner.   The fabric used for the version in the magazine bears a strong resemblance to something I used for one of my Morsbags.  I’m pleased to see that nautical fabrics are popular given a recent addition to my wardrobe, previously blogged about here.

Onto the free purse kit.  This included fabric, zip, bias binding (for the zip pull and optional decoration) and embroidery thread (also optional).   I’ve never made a zipped purse with a lining before and the instructions were really easy to follow.  There was no mention of using a zipper foot but I used mine anyway.  I didn’t time myself but it can’t have taken much more than half an hour to make.  I traced off the pattern using my fancy new tracing paper which is really nice and crisp and will definitely be useful for non-sewing projects as well.

I’m not a great one for embellishments so I didn’t bother with the suggested embroidery and bias binding flowers.

I realised I had several zips of a similar length which will never get used for dressmaking so I thought I’d make a few more bags.  The second one took a bit longer because I decided to use two different fabrics for each bag piece but it was still a quick make, despite sewing the final seam without realising there was no thread on the bobbin for about 50% of the way round!  I have three more zips and plenty of fabric scraps to use up.

Having singed my fingers a couple of times ironing the pleats in these bags I’ve decided I will be investing in some of those silicone finger guards I mentioned in my last post despite their odd appearance!

The magazine has several other useful projects including some lovely stripy beach-inspired items – deckchair, windbreak and duffel bag, instructions on how to make your own bias binding and articles by Tilly Walnes and Claire-Louise Hardie of The Thrifty Stitcher (and resident expert behind the scenes at The Great British Sewing Bee).  There is also a rather cute toy monkey to make which would make a nice gift.  If I do make the skirt then Simply Sewing will probably have been a good investment and I’ll be recycling it by passing it on to my mother when I’ve finished with it.  NB : These views are entirely my own and I’ve not been commissioned by Simply Sewing to review the magazine!

For a final weekend project I re-covered my vintage sleeve board.  I can’t believe I’ve not been using this more regularly as it really does make ironing sleeves a doddle.  No more creases where you don’t want them.  I used this tutorial from Tilly and the Buttons which was really helpful.  I left the original heat reflecting cover in place because it was very well secured and was holding the padding in place.  I stuck with the instruction to make the cover fabric 5 cms larger than the board itself even though I was working on a smaller scale because the sleeve board is actually pretty much the same depth as my large board.  I used some stripy fabric that I’ve had for a while and seems to be never ending.  It has already been used to make several bags, an apron and re-cover my mother’s wheat bag.

The application of the bias binding was slightly tricky round the curves on the reverse of the fabric and I was worried that the channel would be restricted but the cord I used was quite fine and it went through without any trouble.

I think the outcome was pretty successful and a great improvement on the rather stained original.  I’m not sure I want to tackle a full size board for now although a lovely fabric might make ironing more pleasurable.

Keep cool in this week’s heatwave if you are in the UK!