Tuesday, November 24, 2015

ivory Ruby

I've made a new slip; which looks superficially rather plain and boring, belying the hours of of care that has been lavished upon it, haha!  Bias hemlines!  aaaaugh! *insert Munchian scream here*
Pattern; the Ruby slip, designed by Sheryll of pattern scissors cloth.  I downloaded it years ago but this is the first time I've used it! I've wanted to, but actually felt a little shy of doing so since she made her blog private for quite a long time.  Anyhow, now she's back ... yay! and so I feel ok about using and linking to her pattern again.  Thank you so much for the wonderful pattern, Sherry!
Fabric; a fine and slithery ivory crepe from FabulousFabrics.  The slip is cut on the bias, so hurrah for large-scale floor tiles! I can't say how many times I've found them super useful for lining up grain lines, selvedges, bias lines etc etc when laying and cutting out my pattern pieces.  And especially when you're dealing with a slippery slithery fabric like crepe, which is so dodgy it can deviate and deform at the slightest provocation. 
Sherry's pattern is designed for a lace bodice but I cut my pieces all from the crepe, with a double layered bodice front and back.  The skinny skinny spaghetti straps are encased within the two layers on the front bodice, whereas at the back (pictured below) I hand-tacked them inside the bodice, not within the two layers, to enable easy unpicking/readjustment in the case of the straps stretching out over time.  The under stitching of the bodice lining is visible in this picture here too.
Those skinny straps, by the way; I know everyone probably has their own individual way of turning them; I tie the seam thread ends through the eye of a wool needle and let it drop/push it through through the tube, turning the tube out.  A wool needle is generally quite blunt enough to use for this purpose and unlikely to get stuck in your fabric on the way, but if you're worried about the point being a little too sharp you can always put it through eye first. 
Also; cut your straps a few centimetres longer than required, so you can trim off the ends that invariably turn out a little scrappy-looking after turning.
I sewed all seams as French seams but just overlocked the bodice-to-dress seam on the inside to finish it *blush*  
Picking my battles here...!
The slip then spent a week hanging up on Bessie to let that bias drop out as much as possible. Then I spent aaaaaages measuring and measuring and re-measuring and double checking that hemline, first on both Bessie then myself to be absolutely sure it's straight, before cutting it to length.  
The length is determined by the fact that this slip is tailor-made to go under another dress I'm in the process of making right now, by the way; but I do hope to wear it with other things too, of course  :)
In the close-up above, at the very lower edge of the picture can be seen some white stay-stitching along that hem...  if the fabric is very light and slithery like this, I generally stay-stitch a stitching guideline, situated a few millimetres outside the measured lower edge of a bias-cut garment, on the machine.  Then I trim the seam allowance outside that, it gets rolled up and I stitch along and into that machine stitching when hemming.  The benefits of this stay-stitching are threefold: it not only makes it a heckuvva lot easier to stitch a hand-rolled hem, it stabilises the fabric substantially and prevents the bias from stretching out too much while you're stitching, the dreaded lettuce leaf edge! AND also keeps your hem on the straight and narrow as it were, keeping it even and helps avoid any little dips, ducks and dives in the final product.  Even the best hand-roller is bound to roll a little bit more, a little bit less every now and again.  Nit-picky; I know, but every little bit helps I think, and after all that careful measuring to ensure the hemline is perfectly even, it makes sense to safeguard it and keep it as straight as is humanly possible for the stitching of it too, yes?
Also as seen in the picture; I often don't "roll" the French-seamed side seam under twice at the hem either, but turn it up just the once for its short bit of hemline... why? frequently it's too bulky and often creates a little dip or worse, a "flip-out" of the hem at that point if I've tried to force it.  Probably my bad sewing, but there it is, I get better results like this!

Later edit;

Jillian asked about turning spaghetti/rouleau straps; thank you Jillian!  Fabrics like this slippery crepe are rarely a problem but in some thicker and/or stiffer fabrics, turning out a strap can be a bear.  The less fluid the fabric the less easily it can be manipulated into turning inside out into a little tube... and yes that starting bit is always the most awkward bit!
Firstly; it's important to trim the seam allowances so as to be of a much smaller width/lesser thickness than the final tube will be. 
Also, never never allow the fabric to bunch up excessively, but keep teasing the tube along, a little bit at a time, slowly but surely  :) 
Another little trick I have used successfully is to sew the end centimetre or so of the tube seam tapering inwards into a slightly skinnier tube at the very end, as pictured above left.  The skinnier end does pull into and turn inside the wider "main" tube a little easier than if it was the same circumference.  The tapered end bit can be trimmed off after the strap is turned out successfully. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

tie-front cardigan from a Tshirt pattern; a brief tutorial

Remember recently I made a little paprika cardigan? and I wasn't super happy with my construction technique of the fronts and could visualise a far better method of getting that front edge nice and neat ... well, of course I could not rest until I had seen it through.
Voila; new, stormy-grey-blue cardigan
Essentially, the gist is to cut each front piece on the fold through the centre front; meaning the fronts are double thickness, with one half acting as a facing.  The fold at centre front is its own neat finish with no further need to do anything at all to it.  Also, the front plus facing enclose the lower band between their two layers.  For this reason, this technique works very well with very thin knits.
Fabric; thin blue/grey marl cotton jersey, leftover from Sam's hoodie and originally a remnant bought from the Morrison sale, although when I say remnant there was at least 5m of it!  Morrison is tres generous with their "remnants", to say the least!   I still have quite a lot left.  
Pattern; I used the Nettie from Closet Case patterns, which is my go-to basic now for form-fitting Tshirts/bodysuits, however any tried and true Tshirt pattern could be used for this same modification.
I cut my pieces like so: top parts; fabric folded along the right hand side; with the top two horizontal bands being the "rough cut" lower edge band and the sleeve cuff bands respectively; underneath are the back cut on the fold, the sleeves and at the left is the long neckband.  This last is joined right sides together along one short edge to make a double length band on the grain.
After cutting these: the fabric is then re-folded in from each edge so as to cut those two fronts (below) on a fold, with the centre front laid on each fold.  Cut from the inside shoulder edge out to the CF fold at bustline level on a straight diagonal line, to create the V-neck opening edge.
front piece at left is folded in half, front piece at right opened out along CF fold
Construction details:
first, stitch fronts to back at shoulders.  Sandwich the back between the two fronts so that the seam allowances get tucked away between the layers.  You have to twist it around it in a weird funny-looking way but it does work out.
Stitch front to back at side seams, keeping the front facing free.
Then trim the cardigan to the length you want it to be, taking into account the width of the lower band.  Measure the around the lower edge to determine the length of the lower band and cut it to fit; allowing for a 1cm seam allowance at each end.
Pin the band to the lower edge of the cardigan, again keeping the front facings free.  Stitch, between the seam allowances, right sides together.
 front facing free
Turn the band up in half, lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch the short edges closed, ceasing stitching at the end of the previous stitching.  Turn bands right side out and press.
Now fold the facing to the outside, laying it over the lower bands and keeping raw edges even, and stitch lower edge seam through all layers, keeping the stitching just a whiskers'  width outside the previous stitching.  The reason for keeping it just outside is so that the previous stitching does not show through on the right side of the band.
Now when you pull the band out and turn it all back right side out, the seam allowances are nice and neatly hidden away out of sight.  Yay!
outside of cardigan? inside? impossible to tell which is which!
To anchor the front facing to the side seams, I opted to simply lay the front facing down to the side seam allowances, aligning raw edges, and top-stitch from the right side, 6mm away from the seam.  The raw edge won't fray, and it looks reasonably neat stitched down, also the top-stitching also accomplishes a sort of faux-felling of the seam allowances too.  However this is definitely not ideal and I have to admit I have since thought of a different and better way of doing this bit too! so there may well have to be yet another little cardi in my near future... to see that thought through too... eeek! am I getting a bit obsessive or what? hmmm could be could be...  ;)
Sleeves; same technique as for every other Tshirt/cardigan ever invented.  Namely, stitch the sleeve seams, set sleeves in the armhole and stitch.  The raw edges can be finished with overlocking if desired.  
Attach sleeve cuffs, for this I nearly always employ this method, which gives a nice neat finish I think.
Last step; the neckband: pin the long neckband to the raw edges of the neck edge, including the facing, keeping raw edges even, right sides together and stitch.  
Fold the ties in half along the length, right sides together and stitch the long tie ends together, starting at the endpoints of the previous stitching.  Stitch the short ends in a diagonal point, if desired.
Trim, turn the ties right sides out and press.
Turn under the seam allowances of the remaining raw edge of the neckband, press, pin and slip-stitch closed by hand.
Cardigan, the Nettie, by Closet Case patterns with my own design modifications
Tshirt (under); another Nettie, white jersey, details here
Shorts; Burda 7723, pinstripe linen, details here
Thongs: Havaianas
Location; Coode St jetty, South Perth

Saturday, November 14, 2015

teal dress

New dress!
Well actually it's not really  new at all, in fact I made it barely a year ago...  it just feels like a brand spanking new thing somehow just because it's a brand spanking new colour.
I thought some of the dye batches I'd made up for my Alabama Chanin project still had some oomph in them, and of course I am incapable of throwing out something that still has a use.  I absolutely have to scrounge around to find a further use for it first.  I selected this dress as a suitable victim, ahem candidate for an update.   Its original pale baby blue was never really very good for me, really.   I liked and have worn this dress a lot, but I had to admit the colour didn't really like me back.  It washed me right out. 
But I still love the fabric; it has an unusual and very charming thing about it, some sort of hard translucent plastic has been "splattered" all over it that sparkle in the sun rather prettily, like random sequins or something.   I only bought the fabric in the first place because I fell in love with those sparkly splatter-dots. 
Anyway; I soaked it, plunged it into an old, cold bath of various mixed up dyes; iDye in Royal Blue, Golden Yellow and small amount of Brown, and left it overnight.  The dye had so much staying power...  the colour came out incredibly strong!  
The buttons on the sleeves were white plastic and I was prepared to change them if the white stood out glaringly hideous afterwards.   However the dye had SO much further oomph left in it that it actually stained the buttons teal as well.  Win!  
Another little happy side effect is that I think the darker colour makes my beloved sparkly splatter-dots stand out even MORE than they did before. 
Moral of the story; you love something but its colour doesn't love you back?  Dye is most definitely your friend, and well worth a shot  :)
Do not be afraid of The Dye!

Dress; dress "f", from the Stylish Dress Book, by Yoshiko Tsukiori, dyed linen, first appearing in its original, powder blue form here.
Thongs; Havaianas
Location: Canal Rocks, Dunsborough

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

brick bathers

It's a yearly ritual; summer approaching, new bathers.
I'm very hard on my bathers.  I hardly ever wash the salt water or chlorine out; they get scrumpled up in a wet, sandy, salty towel, left in the boot of the car, dried out under the full blast of the harsh Australian sun.  I occasionally toss them in the washing machine but for the most part they are expected to do solid hard duty with the bare minimum of care.  Some fabrics perform better under these conditions than others, but I don't stress about it for even one second if they don't.  I just plan for a new pair per year, no worries; and don't give it a thought besides some pleasant day-dreaming about what colour/print I should have next time.
This year, that decision was taken out of my hands by my very practical daughter, who announced she wanted to give me fabric for my bathers for my birthday.  So sweet!  Well, apart from the fact that she then had absolute control over the colour I would be wearing!  Aaaagh! giving over control of my wardrobe, so difficult for control-freak-me!  But, one sometimes has to bow down and accept the dictums of another.  And I think it's good for me, helps me for a short while to relax my iron-clad expectations for myself and frequently surprises and delights me.
So, Cassie and I went shopping for the fabric in Fabulous Fabrics together; and I hopefully pointed out a nice navy blue and white striped fabric.  Aah, navy blue! you sure have me in your clutches at the mo!  I briefly entertained a vision of myself in some Fwanch-inspired, nautically navy/white striped number with a chic wide-brimmed hat set at an elegant angle, paddling about in the shallows in a ladylike manner.
But no!  I had not reckoned with the even more iron-clad will of my daughter; who firmly told me that navy/white stripes were so boring and that I would just look the same as everyone else.  
POP *bubble bursting*  
I was told I would be wearing this nice shade of brick instead.
You know, we have this saying in Australia about being built like a brick, er, house...  *   Haha! I jest;  obviously this deep coral/terracotta colour is very much moi, a tonne nicer for my colouring than navy and white, I admit it; and I think it also looks rather striking set against the sea-and-sky blues and sandy whites of summer.  It's a bit Uluru actually, a very Australian colour.
Cassie chose well, very well indeed  :)
Pattern is ye old fave; McCalls 2772; a halter neck bikini which I have modified to be a tankini, and with the matching bikini bottoms.  I was thinking; one day I should write for myself a little tute on how to do this.  Each time I do it I kind of have to think back through first principles.  Good for my brain, yes, but what if I stuff it up one year?


Bathers; McCalls 2772, bikini pattern modified to be a tankini
Hat; Country Road (from many years ago)
Location; Leighton Dog Beach

*just to explain; my Mum reads my blog sometimes, and I would get ticked off if I finished that there saying... yes, even at my age!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

an Alabama Chanin project; "Magdalena Dusk"

The very lovely Lisa, of Lisa's Carolina Handmade very kindly sent to me some really beautiful and special fabric; some 100% organic cotton jersey from the Alabama Chanin store in the United States.  How sweet is that?!!!  I'm so grateful to Lisa... and so excited about what I could do with this very precious stuff.  Obviously only an Alabama Chanin project would do.  SO I've been busy planning, plotting and generally scheming as to what could do the fabric justice.  
The colour is Dusk, which is a kind of blue-y/greeny/grey with a mostly blue-ish bent to it, if that makes any sense.  I had enough for a skirt and also to fully bind and appliqué a tank top.  I liked the idea of another allover, fully embellished Alabama Chanin project since I reeeeeeeeally love my first ensemble; so I bought some plain white cotton jersey from Spotlight, broke out the dyes and got cracking.  My aim was to make some colours to blend in nicely with the Dusk.  Since the dusk is a mostly blue with green/grey tinge, I was going for some mostly green with blue/grey tinge, and also some mostly grey with a blue/green tinge; meaning they will hopefully blend in really nicely with each other.  Several days of dyeing and some more dyeing and then some over-dyeing to fine-tune some of the colours; and I have a nice range of blue/green/grey shades to go nicely with my Dusk..
Dusk is the middle one in the lower row
I used iDye for natural fabrics in a mix of colours; mostly Royal Blue, Golden Yellow and Brown.  I really liked the shades of grey I was getting with the iDye Brown to "dirty" the various teals, but the "grey" wasn't quite grey enough, so over dyed those pieces further with just a touch of iDye in Black.  This turned out just close enough to perfect!  The colours are a little blotchy and swirly and I am very happy with that, since the Alabama Chanin jersey has a veeeery subtly motley tone to it too.  I really like the contrasts and variations in tones of the fabrics.
The next thing was to choose a stencil design.  I toyed with the idea of going with Anna's Garden again, like with my first Alabama Chanin project and also the project I stencilled for Mum.  I really LOVE that design!  But of course I eventually decided I should go with something new.  I finally chose Magdalena from the Alabama Chanin website, available here.  I resized it slightly, traced it onto drafting film from Jacksons art supplies, cut out the stencil.  I'd nearly finished tracing before it dawned on me that the upper part of the design is actually identical to the lower part, just on a smaller scale! *light bulb*
At that point I had started to realise that smaller part of the design might be too small a scale for what I wanted to do, so I've pretty much decided to just use the lower, larger scale part for my project.  I haven't ruled out using the entire design on a future project but for this one I'm just going for the one size motif, repeated all over.  :)
I bought some spray paint from Bunnings; White Knight "Squirts", colour Flat Black, to stencil the design to the back of the upper fabric.  A few experimental "sprays" onto newspaper made me realise this was intense stuff!  So I cut a piece of silk organza, the type used for making silk screens and laid it over the stencil. 
 This lightened the spray considerably, the resultant coverage is satisfactorily sheer and shadowy, and not so much of an intense thick solid coat of paint on my fabric like it would have been otherwise.
At this point I decided that I quite liked the look of it printed just like this actually! and gave serious thought to dyeing more fabric, printing it like this and making it up as the finished thing; boom done.   Hmmm, do I really need two of the same print in my wardrobe?
Maybe not...  damn.
I've started cutting out my motifs and just lightly sticking them in place to the base fabric.  For this I use acrylic glue from Bunnings and just applied the lightest of thin coats of glue to the motifs. I did this using the cut-off finger of an old rubber glove, dipped it with glue, which I then dabbed sparingly onto the back of each motif.  It's not a very secure attachment but it's not meant to be permanent, just enough to hold them in place, rolled up, until I can get everything stitched on securely.
And then it's on to the process of stitching and appliquéing!  This could take some time, but with a bit of luck dedication and application and doing just a little bit at a time, frequently; my outfit could even be ready for next autumn.
In fact; yes, I think I can do it.  I'm better with a deadline and having a definite concrete goal to work towards keeps me on track... soooo I'm making the pledge now!
I AM going to finish this by the end of March, next year.
Now I just have to keep my promise to myself.... fingers crossed!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

paprika cardigan

I took some time out from making something far more time-consuming and complicated, ahem Alabama Chanin, cough cough.... ooo did I once say I would never get addicted to Alabama Chanin??? yaas, going back on my word, guilty as charged!!  Anyway, I took a day to put together this simple little cardigan from some scraps.  It's a light and nothingy-to-it sort of a thing with no closure except for a necktie at the bust level.  A little something to throw over a summery ensemble on cooler summer evenings, or to cope with air conditioning.  
It's mostly made from scraps; a piece of paprika stretch knit from Fabulous Fabrics, leftover from my paprika Nettie bodysuit and I bought a little extra to get out the pieces for this cardigan.  Once again I used the fabric wrong side out, because I prefer the duller, deeper, richer colour of it.  
Speaking of Nettie, I actually made this using the Nettie pattern too! just with a touch of ad-libbing.   Such a good basic pattern and a fantabulous springboard to a lot of other variations.  I can honestly see myself making like a tonne of these over my lifetime, with slightly different additions, subtractions and/or bits and bobs going on.
Changes to the pattern:
I cut size 18 which is a coupla sizes bigger than my usual, so as to get a looser "cardigan" fit rather than the skin-tight bodysuit fit; cut it to hip level with a wider shoulder, a low V-neck, and split the front up the middle.  I added a wide band all along the bottom edges and wide cuffs to the edges of the sleeves, a long wide necktie, which is basically a very long skinny rectangle sewn along the top edge and with the "tie" edges sewn right side together, with pointy points on the ends of the ties, then turned right side out.  The remaining gap of the necktie is slip-stitched closed to the cardigan on the inside. 
 The front edges I finished with strips of red crepe, itself leftover from my infinity dress here.  This was sewn on to the front edges, turned inside and topstitched down along the outside.  It's a nice stable edge and the crepe takes away any tendency to stretch out, but I'm not wowed by my efforts here and in the making of this thing I conceived a much better way of doing the cardigan fronts.  I'll probably make another one of these pretty soon, incorporating my imagined improved way of finishing the edge, but I'll need a lot more fabric than the scraps I used for this one.
Hmmm, that's all I need; an excuse to go fabric shopping! 

Project happiness factor; front edge satisfactory but I'm a bit meh about it and I've thought of a better way of doing it... otherwise it's not too bad and I'm happy.  9/10

Cardigan; my own design modifications to the Nettie bodysuit, by Closet Case patterns, paprika stretch
Dress; Vogue 1194, floral stretch, details and my review of this pattern here
Thongs; Rusty
Sunnies; RayBan