Teddy Designer Tunic Top – version 4

 

Those of you who follow my blog will have seen this particular Teddy Designer Tunic top before – yes three times!

The previous makes were cut from a size 20 pattern which although is very comfortable, especially in our recent very hot weather, is possibly a little too roomy. So, I printed and prepared the pattern in the size 18.

For this iteration I used a fine Red 100% cotton with White polka dots purchased from Fabricland, Salisbury branch.

As I have mentioned before, the instructions from Style Arc are not the most comprehensive but as I have made the tunic before I did not encounter any problems. I repeated the additional rows of White top stitching on the collar, the facings around the neckline and the hem bands. Again I overlapped the collar at the point of the V inset and top stitched in place for a couple of inches. The seam allowances were overlocked and for the most part stitched together with the exception of the centre front which needs to be pressed open and flat to accommodate the collar inset.

This top is still very roomy but I do feel more comfortable with a little less volume of fabric around me.

SEW SOUTHAMPTON – 28TH JULY 2018

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be able to join with over 30 like-minded ladies (and 1 gentleman) on a get together arranged by Sian, Gemma and Clare.

We met at the entrance to John Lewis at west Quay Shopping Centre for general introductions and group admiration of each others hand made garments. Sian arranged for us to be grouped together into ‘mini groups’ (not compulsory!) and goody bags were distributed.

We then invaded the Haberdashery department of John Lewis. There was a fair selection of fabrics and ‘habby’ but I think, like me, most were saving themselves for Fabricland and Ikea!

We retired to Ed’s Diner for lunch, Halloumi salad and a Diet Pepsi (!) where I shared a table with Laura.

Next, onto Fabricland which is the largest of their stores that I have visited, it even had an ‘upstairs’ (although personally I don’t think there was any more variety and stock than the Salisbury store). I was very restrained and purchased a single length – 4 metres of a pretty (and for me fairly subtle) cotton print.

Not quite sure what it will be but at time of writing has been overlocked and laundered, just waiting to dry.

By now I was pretty much exhausted so left the others to refresh in ‘The Slug and Lettuce’ before going on to IKEA.

A straightforward drive home before collapsing into an armchair and enjoying a fresh cup of tea!

This morning I checked out my goody bags, as just by chance I was given two! Lots of discount vouchers, brooches and badges, Spoonflower sample set, business cards and fabric!

A fabulous day out that I thoroughly enjoyed and cannot wait until the SEW SOUTHAMPTON TAKE 2.

Lemons print and Lemonade

Have you ever had of those projects where it seems that nothing is straightforward? Each two steps forward involve a step backwards so progress is slow and painful? There is a saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. So that is what I have been doing but in the form of a dress. 

It all started when I saw a beautiful dress made up in Duck Egg Blue cotton sateen printed with Lemons on the instagram feed of Roisin Muldoon.

The text stated that the fabric had come from Fabrics Galore. I immediately contacted them as I was unable to find the design on their website. Apparently that particular print was out of stock and there was no good news about further supplies. A search on the internet threw up an alternative Lemons design.

Emily Hallman shows a dress in a Navy background with Lemons print which is very similar to the one that I found.

This has large lemons printed on a Navy background. The fabric was listed as Cotton Poplin. I ordered 3 metres of 140 cms wide, knowing that the fabric was coming from abroad, the estimated delivery was for anytime within the next 4-6 weeks. So I settled down for a long wait.

I regularly checked the tracking. Around the time that I was expecting the parcel to arrive, I received a card from the Royal Mail advising that I was due to receive a package but that a £13.16 customs fee was payable. I paid the fee and was expecting the parcel to arrive on Friday. Friday came and went along with Saturday and Monday. I managed to speak to our postman who said that he would investigate as he did recall posting the customs fee notification card through our letterbox.

Wednesday the postman advised that there had been an error in the transcription – the parcel was intended for someone at no 5, not no 8. Their parcel had been delivered as I had ‘so kindly’ paid the fee for them! I contacted the Royal Mail who were most helpful and was assured that since the error was on their part, the £13.16 would be refunded.

OK, so now settle down and wait a bit longer for MY parcel to arrive. The very next day the package was posted through our letterbox!

Great, only when I opened the parcel I discovered that what had been described as Poplin was more or less the same weight as Cotton Lawn. Not exactly what I wanted. No matter – the bodice of the dress would have to be lined and I can do that, although it would add to the sewing construction time (sigh…).

I laundered the fabric and laid out the pattern pieces. I wanted to use my TNT bodice with a full circle skirt. Having laundered the fabric it now measured 2.95 metres x 140 cms wide. No matter how I laid out the pattern it just would not fit. Plan B was to make the TNT bodice with a full gathered skirt. I cut 3 lengths of 29 inches across the width of the fabric.

I made a full copy of the bodice front pattern as I wanted to be sure about the placement of those lemons – no way could they appear anywhere near the apex of my bust!

As it has turned out, there are almost no lemons down the centre front of the bodice. For the most part the centre panel is plain Navy which is good – therefore no accentuation of my apple-shaped tummy!

I could not fit the back bodice onto the remaining fabric and still have a centre back seam. OK, so no centre back zip then, and no pockets either! Fortunately with this bodice that has a scoop neckline, I can put the dress on over my head without the use of a zip, but I would have liked pockets.

As a dark lining would have shaded the lemons, I cut lining for the bodice and sleeves from plain White poly/cotton fabric. I cut front and back neckline facings from the fashion fabric which was applied to the lining pieces so that the neckline would be finished with the fashion fabric. I also cut a bias strip of fashion fabric for attaching to the hemline of the cap sleeve linings.

Now, ready for construction: I usually make up sleeves first and set them aside until needed. I carefully applied the bias strip to the hemline of both sleeve lining pieces only to discover that I had made up two left sleeves, not one right and one left. So ‘quickunpick’ out and start again!

Fortunately marking and sewing the darts in the bodice went well as did stitching the lining to the bodice at the neckline. I made French seams in the three skirt panels so that combined with lining of the bodice this dress would have no raw edges or overlocked seams on view. The insides would look neat and tidy which is something that I always like to aim for.

I set in the prepared cap sleeves using French seams. Not as simple and easy as my usual method but I am pleased with the result.

For the skirt I found an area at the top of the panels that matched well with the centre front waistline of the bodice and used that as my starting point for the gathers. There is a flat area of waistline seam at centre front and then the gathers start near the ends of the body darts. The flat area did take some time ‘finesssing’ the seam which is almost pattern matched.

I can now tell you that 4.2 metres of fine cotton lawn can be gathered up well with two rows of gathering threads. I am very pleased with the result but will not be rushing to repeat the process on any other dresses. I much prefer a gored or circular skirt which reduces the amount of fabric at my waist.

After attaching the skirt to the bodice I then pulled the bodice lining down over the seam. I turned up the seam allowance to the inside and hand-stitched in place over the original waist seam.

The finale was to hand stitch the hem to give a finished skirt length of 27 inches.

My next project is going to be something really quick and easy!

p.s. I have now located even better versions of Lemons print on Duck Egg Blue from Spoonflower and I will be able to dictate the substrate. I will probably select their excellent quality cotton sateen.

Joni dress hack into a Top

Joni Dress line drawing

Those of you following my blog will have noted that I have now made two Joni dresses from Tilly and the Buttons ‘Stretch’ book. I love this pattern. I had a sizeable remnant of the viscose jersey from the first version and as promised I thought I would have a go at a hack into a top and at the same time, change the construction of the bodice front to eliminate the problems that I was having re finishing of the neckline and twist.

So after several sessions of virtual sewing I planned to cut the front bodice twice and stitch the neckline BEFORE the twist. I would also apply a neck band to the back bodice, let’s see how that worked out.

Method:

I stay-stitched the necklines front and back, applied clear elastic to the back shoulders and waistlines. I cut a piece of fabric on the crosswise grain, 2½ inches wide x approximately 10 inches. This was folded in half wrong sides together and pressed. As I basted the neckband to the back neckline, I stretched the band slightly. I stitched on the overlocker, pressed towards the bodice and then top-stitched 1/8 th inch to secure the seam in the same way as a standard neckband.

For the front bodice I stitched the lining and bodice right sides together, trimmed the seam and turned right sides out. Now here is where it starts to get tricky!

I placed the front bodice down, right side up with the lining flipped away. I placed one of the back bodice shoulders right side down to match the front. Then I flipped the lining back over so that the back bodice shoulder seam was encased within the two front bodice shoulders. I stitched and trimmed the seam.

Now for the twist. In the same way as the instructions, I flipped the bodice front twice. I then stitched the lower centre front seam making sure that I stitched as far as the twist would allow. I then repeated the system of encasing the back shoulder. The front neckline was top-stitched for a neat finish.

The remainder of the construction was completed with the bodice and front lining treated as a single layer of fabric. The skirt/peplum was cut 10 inches long but another time I think I will make it 12 inches.

The use of a lining for the front bodice seems to work on this fine viscose jersey but I don’t think it would be appropriate for a heavier fabric.

    

                                    Joni Peplum Top                                          back neck band

So yet another Joni for my wardrobe. I particularly like the fluttery skirt/peplum and am sorry now that I did not make the co-ordinating butterfly sleeves.  Maybe next time I will do colour blocking. I could use a print for the bodice and sleeves then a plain solid for the skirt. I will have a look in my stash for some fabrics!

Beads of Courage bags

A grand daughter of one of the members of Sprat & Winkle is currently being treated for Cancer. At her hospital they have a programme called “Beads of Courage”. Here is the link to find out all about it:-

http://www.bechildcanceraware.org/beads-of-courage/bead-Bags/

Lizzie contacted the site, purchased 100 labels and the members of the Group volunteered to make up the bags. I signed up for 4 bags and here they are.

The bags are quick and easy to make,each takes only 2 x fat quarters of fabric and some cord. I used cord purchased from Franklins, Salisbury and stitched the bags on ‘Pearl’s a Singer’ my darling Featherweight machine. A most productive and enjoyable afternoon.

Joni Dress by Tilly and theButtons – Version 2

I was so pleased with the way that the first ‘wearable toile’ dress turned out that I immediately set about making another version.

For this version I used some Pink floral patterned polyester jersey that I purchased from Fabricland, Salisbury back in April 2018.

As mentioned in the previous post, I was unhappy with the construction method for applying the neck binding and also the fact that the twist pulled up the bodice seam and skirt hemline at centre front.

To resolve these problems I made a Full Bust Adjustment to the bodice by dropping the point of the centre bust bodice seamline by 2 inches. I used the Nancy Zieman method of pin and pivot which means that the length of the seam remained the same whilst still providing that extra room for my bust but without distorting the seamline. Whilst cutting the skirt panels I added about 1 inch to the length – just to provide a little extra coverage for my knees.

For the binding of the neckline I changed the construction method slightly. I cut the binding as per the pattern but this time stitched together at the short ends. I made the seam the centre back point and added notches to mark centre front and quarters between CF and CB. Having completed the twist I then stitched the centre front bodice seam and also above the twist as far as I could. I marked the neckline on the bodice in the same way as the binding before attaching right side to right side. The binding was turned to the inside and stitched with a narrow zig-zag in place.

The final result is good and bad. Good in that the neck binding is a complete finish with no bulky turnings at the front which I had encountered on the first version. Bad in that there is a definite ‘gap’ above the twist and below the neckline binding. I don’t mind it but feel sure there must be an even better way to manage the twist and the neckline. For the next version I plan to make a front bodice lining which I hope will resolve these outstanding issues.

I did write out a crib sheet for the construction method but in the end did not follow it as having made the dress once before I was confident to go straight ahead and sew!

This pattern has a 5/8 th inch seam allowance and as I was confident of the fit I stitched mostly on the overlocker.

I repeated the hem of the short sleeves by turning back and overlocking so that the result looks like a hemband. The hem of the skirt has been left unfinished. This fabric does not fray and I did not want to run the risk of a ‘lumpy bumpy’ hem by stitching with either a narrow zig-zag or a twin needle (plus of course, I wanted to wear the dress a.s.a.p!).

Now that I have ‘nailed’ this dress I want to try a hack into a top at the same time using the lined front bodice method plus the fluted sleeves.

Now where did I put that fine jersey that I think will be ideal for this project?

Joni Dress by Tilly and the Buttons

I purchased my copy of Tilly’s latest book ‘Stretch’ as soon as it was released and have been waiting impatiently for a ‘window’ to be able to stitch the Joni dress.

The Joni is the final garment in the book and is described thus;

This showstopper dress may look complicated but it’s surprisingly simple to make! The fitted bodice has a stunning draped twist at the front, creating a plunging neckline and a shaped empire waist seam. The dress flares out into a flirty half-circle skirt that’s great for twirling, with a gentle dipped hem that lands just above the knee. Choose from three-quarter or elbow length sleeves. Make Joni in cotton or viscose jersey for every day, or a sumptuous stretch velvet or silk jersey for parties.”

For this ‘wearable toile’ I chose a pretty floral print viscose jersey bought from Fabricland (in December 2017) for £4.44 per metre. The dress takes 2.5 metres of 150cms wide fabric.

I traced off the pattern (size 8 in Tilly sizes!), adjusted slightly for my rubenesque figure then set to and quickly made the dress.

The book contains many pages of instructions with photographs but I found them a little confusing as they go off on a tangent to describe the various techniques. I intend to re-visit and type up my own ‘crib’ sheet which will be much more succinct. Additionally I did not find the instructions for the finishing of the area around the twist very clear, I ended up neatening the area and stitching the undersides of the twist together. The neck binding was, I believe, more complicated that it needed to be and I will investigate alternative methods for finishing the neckline.

I attached clear elastic as instructed by basting with a long straight stitch on the sewing machine. When it came to overlocking the pieces together, due to the 5/8ths inch seam allowance, the elastic was cut off. This does not appear to have had a detrimental affect on the dress. In future I may well omit the elastic on the bottom of the bodice and will use my TNT method of fine ribbon to stabilise the shoulders.

The elbow length sleeves hit just into the crease of my elbow which is uncomfortable. I folded back 1 ½ inches before overlocking so that the hem now looks like a sleeve hem band. I like that effect. The hem of the skirt was stitched with twin needles.

I had failed to notice in the description that the pattern is drafted for a dipped hem. On me it looked as though too much fabric had been taken up by my bust. I have re-drafted the bodice front pattern and made an FBA (full bust adjustment) which means that the bodice seam and front hemline will now be parallel to the floor.

I like the dress and will definitely be making another incorporating the above alterations. My husband also liked the dress. He pointed out that the twist in the bodice and empire waist seam certainly ‘highlight’ my ‘lovely, blossoming bosom!’

Cat-themed Patchwork Lap Quilt

Ancient & Modern

You may be wondering why this post has a sub-title, the reason is that the quilt has been constructed using both ancient and modern techniques and equipment! The pieces for the patchwork blocks were cut using my Accuquillt GO! Die-cutting machine (Modern) and the whole quilt constructed using my new Singer Featherweight sewing machine (Ancient!).

The central applique uses Modern methods – Google to find a cat motif, Heat n’ Bond to apply to the background fabric and my ‘old’ tried and tested method to outline with a double row of fine zig-zag stitching using my ‘Ancient’ Brother 4000D sewing machine. 

The fabric was a gift for my birthday (all my friends know that I am a shoe-in for any fabric featuring cats) and I could not wait to make something to showcase these delightful prints. The Drunken Bird blocks have taken aback seat whilst I ‘play’ with the die-cutting machine and ‘Pearl’s a Singer’ sewing machine.

I have basted the quilt top to some polyester wadding and now simply need to find a suitable backing fabric. I fancy a bold print to echo the front rather than stick to a plain calico backing. The search is on……

Finished at last! Drunken Caribbean Birds Quilt

With apologies for the poor photograph – as soon as I have more people available to assist, I will post a better picture. Finally, the quilt is finished. This has been a labour of love. I never thought when I started just how much quilting would be involved.

The quilt has a plain polyester wadding purchased from New Threads Quilt Shop. Combined with some heavy-duty quilting in the centre panel of 25 blocks this has resulted in a fairly ‘stiff’ quilt. As the finished size of the quilt is 64 inches square it has also turned out quite heavy. But I love it!

The central panel of 25 blocks is outlined with a border of Yellow low impact print which in turn has a border of Green background Bird and Bows print (bought from Fabricland and also used for a blouse AND a dress!)

The Yellow border has a simple quilting design of interlocking leaf shapes for which I made a template and then transferred using a Frixion ® pen. As the Green border is only 1 inch wide, it has a central row of ‘wavy line’ stitching. For the outer border blocks I have only quilted within the bird shapes.

I had deliberately cut the backing fabric extra wide and this was trimmed down to ½ inch beyond the quilt top before folding in the raw edge, turning to the top and machine-stitching in place.

I may (at some time in the future) re-visit and quilt into the blank spaces of the outer border blocks, but currently don’t know yet with what motif.

I am so in love with this particular block that I have already made over a dozen additional blocks that I will combine to make a much smaller lap quilt.

Till then, the Drunken Caribbean Birds quilt is on display on the piano and I am very proud!

Pearl’s a Singer!

For my birthday next week, my DH has bought me an old sewing machine! Not as bad as it sounds. The old machine in question is a Singer Featherweight ‘born’ just 14 days after me some X years ago. Pearl’s a Singer (Elkie Brooks song – see what I did there?) is a Centenary edition of a famous machine produced in the Singer factory based in Kilbowie on Clydebank in Scotland.

In 1933 when the first Featherweight machines were displayed at the World’s Fair in Chicago, the domestic sewing machine market was dominated by big heavy machines usually housed in cabinets or on treadles. The Featherweight appeared on the scene and was immediately hugely popular. It was marketed as the ‘Perfect Portable’ and salesmen predicted that it would be passed down from mother to daughter and beyond. It was compact and came in its own small box and moreover it was easy to maintain. Today, 48 years after manufacture ceased, it is highly sought after, especially by quilters who love its perfectly formed unique lock stitch. The 221 version was made both in the USA and Scotland where it was called the 221k. From 1933 – 1969 3.5 million of these 221’s were produced so there are still plenty out there looking for a good home!

Over the years that the 221 and 221k were produced there were only small changes in its appearance. Pearl’s a Singer is an early model with a ‘gothic’ faceplate and has Celtic Knot decals .

It is possible to date each machine using the serial number underneath and that is how I was able to obtain a machine ‘born’ in the same year as me.

With very many thanks to Lizzie I made contact with ‘featherweight Phil’ who restores these machines beautifully, he makes them safe and does not charge the earth! Should you wish to contact Phil to purchase your own featherweight – contact him at philip.enstone@virgin.net.

My DH was delighted to be able to purchase such an appropriate gift for me and I can’t wait to settle down and stitch!