Tuesday, April 27, 2010

~ruby silk slip~

Years ago I bought a card of black embroidered net with a border, and lately it has been calling out my name! 

I always intended to do something lingerie-ish with it, and when I discovered a piece of ruby red silk crepe-backed satin in my stash I thought they would combine nicely to make a slip:

I used the embroidered net on the empire line bodice with the border running along the upper edge, and the satin was used to make the skirt and spaghetti straps.  No fastenings are required - because the skirt is bias cut you can easily slip it on and off over your head, and so it is really comfortable to sleep in!

The embroidered net has a princess seam over the bust, and I have overlapped it at the centre front and trimmed away the layer underneath:

I'm really pleased with the simplicity of the design.  I might "go into production" and make a few more, as I have several pieces of silk satin lying around waiting to become something useful - one of the advantages of designing wedding dresses! 

And soon you will be able to make one too - I hope to make the pattern available for you to download - so keep a lookout, or leave a note in the comments for me to advise you when it is ready!
Have a lovely day.....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

~anzac day~

A Tribute to ANZAC Day

With their hair a little whiter, their step not quite so sure
Still they march on proudly as they did the year before.
Theirs were the hands that saved us, their courage showed the way
Their lives they laid down for us, that we may live today.

From Gallipoli's rugged hillsides, to the sands of Alamein
On rolling seas and in the skies, those memories will remain.
Of airmen and the sailors, of Lone Pine and Suvla Bay
The boys of the Dardenelles are remembered on this day.

They fought their way through jungles, their blood soaked desert sands
They still remember comrades who rest in foreign lands.
They remember the siege of old Tobruk, the mud of the Kokoda Trail
Some paying the supreme sacrifice with courage that did not fail.
To the icy land of Korea, the steamy jungles of Vietnam
And the heroic battle of Kapyong and that epic victory at Long Tan.

Fathers, sons and brothers, together they fought and died
That we may live in peace together, while at home their mothers cried.
When that final bugle calls them to cross that great divide
Those comrades will be waiting when they reach the other side.

Ken Bunker

Saturday, April 24, 2010

~FO: burda 12/2006/101 top~

Ta-dah: - this little top is from remnants!

I cannot bring myself to throw anything remotely useful out, and this camisole was made out of the leftovers of my Emerald Shift Dress - don't you love these unplanned and impulsive little wardrobe bonuses?!

I underlined all the fabric except at the bust darts, which were french seamed as described here.  With slippery fabrics I often prefer to keep the darts independent of the underlining, as the slightest inaccuracy can cause unsightly drag lines, and I sure don't want them enhancing my bust! 

The camisole has a full lining - I didn't have enough fabric leftover for facings, so I just fused along the upper edges of the lining instead.

I decided halfway through that this top needed a little bit extra, so after rummaging through my stash I found some black passementerie trim, and attached it along the empire line seam and the straps.

If you plan to make something similar you might find some of these pattern~scissors~cloth tutorials useful:

An extra note on facing invisible zips - to ensure your upper edges are perfectly level when finished,  stitch across the upper edges by exactly the same amount above the zip stopper on each side.  Here I have sewn 3mm above the zip stopper on each side, and you can see how only a 1mm variation would make one side sit higher than the other.  In this circumstance, it doesn't really matter if your seam allowance varies by 1-2mm, but it does matter if your distance above the zip stopper does!

Happy sewing weekend! 
I'll leave you with a little glimpse of my next project...

Friday, April 23, 2010

~tricks of the trade: french seam a dart~

After making my emerald shift dress I found I was left with about 70cm of fabric, so I thought while the sewing machine is still threaded up with green thread, I would put this remainder to good use by making a camisole top - the #101 top from Burda 12/2006 to be exact!

This style features an empire line seam with bust darts, and I thought I would share with you a technique that comes in handy sometimes when you are sewing darts in sheer fabrics. 

In the above photo the dart on the right is a normal dart, but through the sheer fabric you can see the dart fold which is rather ugly.  In some fabrics such you are able to trim this away, but this chiffon frays too much for that.  Often you are able to enclose the dart fold within your interlining, but what if you don't want to use interlining or you need to keep the dart free of it?

The answer lies in the dart on the left which is french seamed.  It still has the neat appearance of a trimmed dart, but is far stronger and will not fray - so you can breathe easy! 

I have used this method many times now, and still haven't seen it documented anywhere else.  It is so simple, maybe some books think it is not worth documenting, but I think it is - so here goes:

Fold your fabric as you normally would for a dart, but with wrong sides together.  Here I have lined up the dart notches, and marked the dart point with a pin so you can see it clearly.

Imagine your usual stitching line, and stitch within your dart allowance 7mm (a good 1/4") away from this line.  You will find that you end your stitching some distance before the dart point, and you needn't worry about tapering the point at this stage.

Trim away the excess fabric at 3mm (1/8")

Press the allowance to one side.

Refold your fabric along your stitching so it lays right sides together, and encloses the trimmed dart allowance.  Then stitch your dart along the normal stitching line - at first this will be 6mm (1/4") from your first line of stitching, and then it will taper to zero at the dart point.

Once you have stitched your dart, lay it flat like this and check to make sure your stitching line tapers to the folded line in a smooth curve, with no wiggly or pointy bits!

Press your dart as usual, and now sit back and admire your lovely work!   
I hope this helps you in your sewing :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

~FO: burda 11/2008/#111 dress~

I've finished my green dress, and I'm really pleased with the result:

I haven't pressed it at all since wearing it to the wedding, so considering this fabric is a very-easily-creased silk/viscose, I'm impressed - it just shows you the value of interlining!

The fabric was a bit lighter than my green shoes, so I underlined it with black to darken it slightly.  I kept the tucks independent from the underlining to keep the look of chiffon.  I actually pressed them flat on the underlining and lining, as they were a bit puffy in that fabric and it affected the hang of the chiffon tucks.
The 2 layers were treated as one at the neck and armhole edges, centre back seam, waistline, and hem.  The rest of the chiffon was french seamed, including the darts.

Before attaching the skirt, I placed the bodice on the mannequin to check the 2 bodice layers matched exacly at the lower edge, and also repeated this for the skirt before hemming. I prickstitched by hand the 2 hem layers together at 3.5cm, and turned the hem at 4cm and stitched it to the underlining for an invisible hem.

Rather than the binding method that Burda proposed, I made a conjoint neck and armhole facing to finish these edges, to which the lining was attached.

I'm really happy with the way the belt turned out - this is an area where things can so easily look homemade!  It has a little hook and eye as a retainer:

So that's it! 
Hopefully I will have some pictures of it on a real-live-person-at-the-wedding for you soon!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

~green dress part 1: bodice~

Today I constructed the main parts of the bodice and this is how it's looking so far:

The fabric is a silk chiffon/viscose burnout, so is slightly sheer where the viscose component is absent.  I am underlining it in black viscose lining, partially to disguise the seam allowances, and partially so that it will match my (slightly darker) emerald shoes!  I am not intending to attach the underlining at the side seams or lay it within the tucks, so that the dress retains the chiffon look as much as possible.

The pattern is Burda 11/2008/111 Dress, and although it is a simple shift dress I had to make two toiles!  I had to remove a lot of the ease out of the back bodice, reduce the back neck to underarm length, and scoop out the back armhole a bit.  I also took a wedge out of the front armhole and moved it into the neckline tucks, centred the shoulder seam, and lowered the back neckline 3cm.

I do have a fairly erect posture, but I think a lot of what I removed was there to allow for ease of movement with a sleeve attached.  Looking at the pattern, it uses the same bodice pieces as the version with sleeves (#112).  This is why it pays to make your own patterns from your own blocks if you can - in this case it definitely would have been quicker!

I have cut the skirt lining as you can see - it just needs to be taken in a little, so will cut the rest of the dress tomorrow.....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

~three(!) new projects~

Although most of my posts have been sewing related lately, I actually have been doing a little knitting in between, and I have three new projects to report! 

Now is not the appropriate time to count the number of projects that I have to complete - this post is all about startitis starting some exciting new ones.

First up - Marlene Socks by Cookie A, from Knit.1 Fall/Winter 2008:

I loved this Cookie A pattern as soon as I saw it, and finally I have found a yarn that I want to treat to these gorgeous socks.  I am using Naturally NZ Waikiwi, which is a new release sock yarn, and is a combination of merino/nylon/possum/alpaca.  As you knit along you can feel that this is a very soft and cosy yarn, and unlike some sock yarns I have tried, the nylon content is fairly discrete.  The colour range is rather masculine, but there are a couple of colours I like including this air force blue.  The photo looks like charcoal, but it truely is a denim/slate blue colour.

I have also begun the #3 Multi-Shapes Cardigan  by Shiri Mor, from Vogue Knitting SS09:

This one has an interesting construction, and was begun when I was desparate for something more interesting than the endless stocking stitch of my Ladders and Lace Skirt.  Unfortunately you need to knit the sleeves first, and these are mainly stocking stitch!  However I learnt a new technique for increasing which gives a much neater appearance than the one I had been using, so that's good. 
I'm using some Rowan Wool/Cotton from a previous project that I have decided not to complete, and I definitely think the Multi-Shapes Cardigan is more 'me'.  I'm not sure that I'm doing a great job of knitting the Wool/Cotton evenly, and hope it blocks out to be more regular.

And the third new project is a crochet one - the Tatiana Pullover by Marlaina Bird, from Interweave Crochet W09:

This yarn is recycled from a previous project (don't you love that you can unravel something that is no longer used and knit it up again?!).  It is a bit itchy and firm at the moment, but my test swatch softened up nicely when washed, so I hope that holds true.  The lace pattern should open up nicely with blocking, so I can't wait to do that.  I'm always amazed at how quick crochet is to do - I've probably spent less than three hours on this and I'm already up to the neck decreases!
Speaking of neck decreases - I notice there is an error in the instructions for this area, so I was trying to figure out some adjustments, but the errata gods have been hard at work and the corrections are posted on Ravelry.  Isn't Ravelry just great?

On the sewing front - I began a green silk/viscose shift dress today to wear to a wedding later in the week, so will keep you posted!

Friday, April 9, 2010

~vintage elna~

A couple of posts ago I briefly mentioned the curse word 'buttonholes' and alluded to a future blog post.  Well here it is.....

Meet the sewing machine I learnt to sew on:

It is a 1950's Elna Supermatic that my mother bought before she was married.  Don't you just love the kitchen green colour? 

It has a knee lever to make it sew, and a lever behind the presser foot to lift the foot, which is all a bit confusing once you have spent years using an industrial machine.  Those of you who use an industrial know that the knee lever lifts the presser foot, and the foot pedal makes it sew - so we are talking different planets here! 

Mum's Elna comes in a matching green metal carry case, which I have just discovered can conveniently be turned into an extension of the arm for a larger working surface.  Mmm - maybe I shouldn't really store it in the garden shed.....

The burrs in the base plate sum up it's life history fairly well:

I think that was from when my sister learnt to sew ;-)

There is a dinky black bakelite tray that stores under the free arm, that contains all the accessories. There are several presser feet - a zip foot, reversible zip foot, quilting foot, 4mm roll hem foot, a super narrow foot, an I-don't-know-what-on-earth-this-is-for foot, and a satin stitch embroidery foot.

And a lovely matching oil can:

There are also 5 cams or "Elnadiscs" that go into a revolutionary "Elnagraph Regulating Device" that changes the stitch to either zig-zag, 3 step zig-zag, scallops, wavy line, or feather stitch.  And that's when all these buttons and levers get exciting, because you can alter the stitch length and width to create all sorts of effects. All sorts of effects including  buttonholes!

Forget one-touch buttonholes because this machine is from another era altogether - the pre-electronic and even pre-myself era to be precise.  Buttonholes on this baby are a mere fourteen-touch process, requiring the concentration, skill and patience of a 1950's housewife.  Two whole pages of the instruction book are dedicated to the process of making a buttonhole, increment by increment, by manually varying the stitch length, stitch width and needle positon for each step!  And once that has been satisfactorally accomplished you have to cut the buttonhole manually with a quick-unpick.  I remember many a garment being ruined at it's finishing stage by unruly quick-unpicks!

The tattered Instruction Book is also a real gem, and is refreshingly lacking in thought-speak:

And it sure does pay to read the manual, because I have just discovered that the I-don't-know-what-on-earth-this-is-for foot is acutally a darning foot!  There are probably people today that don't even know what darning is, but true to it's era of waste not, want not, this instruction manual dedicates four whole pages to darning, even including your silk stockings:

Not that I have any!

Now you can pick machines up like this for a song - but a basic Swiss made mechanical machine is built to last, and I actually think they are a better bargain than a tinny and cheap modern day electronic machine.  Don't you agree?  Do you have any old machines like this that you still love and use?

I think I'm going to send Miss Supermatic in for a service and look after her a bit better from now on.  Not only is she of sentimental and historical value, she actually is quite handy for the odd buttonhole.....

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

~FO: burda 11/2008/103A top~

It has been a productive weekend around here, sewing wise:

I'm really short on tops at the moment, and thought this was a nice wearable design to use up another end-of-the-roll piece that I had saved.  It turns out the whole piece was flawed with barring across it, but although it was really noticable on the wrong side, it was barely visible on the right side, so I decided that if anybody ever noticed it could just be a 'design feature'!

I really like the unusual turquoise colour - it is not the usual bright summery one, but is a darker winter cousin, but still not dark enough to be teal.  Got me?  I do go on...

The fabric is a viscose/elastane knit which is a great fabric - much dressier than cotton/elastane, and nice and drapy and cool against your skin in the humidity.

My modifications?  I double folded the neck edges and hems 1cm so they all looked the same, otherwise that's it.  I highly recommend the pattern.

Anyway I like it so much I've already cut out a long sleeve version in some chocolate wool/viscose knit that I had lying around.  This isn't one of my favourite colours, but will make a good winter housework top!

Monday, April 5, 2010

~FO: burda 1/2009/113 skirt~

Yay - finished!

This is such a nice pattern - I really love the pocket flaps and the button front, and the high waist is so flattering - even though I am quite short-waisted. 

I might start doing sit-ups though - I have to hold my tummy in (see the strain on my face!) to stop it creasing across the front.  This is not a going-out-to-dinner skirt!

I used a charcoal wool/elastane twill, one of my many end-of-roll fabrics that I've had stashed away, and it is lined with black viscose bemberg lining.  And I had some matching buttons too!  (That was a bit of the devil in disguise though as I have an industrial machine that does not do buttonholes, but I have my Mum's old Elna which does, but doesn't and that's another blog post!)

I did a few modifications - I cut the facing the same length as the yoke, and blockfused both.  On the lining I pressed the seams to one side and stitched them down to form boning channels, and inserted 6mm boning in all the seams.

I had to insert a false hem - I could only get 58cm length out of my small piece of  fabric, and I like my skirts 60cm, so I cut a bias strip of lining and sewed it to the hem then stitched it up as per normal.

I was a bit worried about the lack of a CB vent, but I faithfully trusted Burda and the elastane component in my fabric, and sure enough it is fine - and I don't plan on running in this skirt!  For the lining I added an extra 8cm evenly around the hem of the skirt for walking ease.

So if you're looking for something high-waisted - you won't go wrong with this skirt pattern, and there is another option with a CB zip if you prefer.  I'm considering another one for summer in a bright with contrasting white buttons!

Friday, April 2, 2010

~tricks of the trade: facing an invisible zip~

This tutorial shows you how to apply your facing around an invisible zip using your machine all the way - no handstitching or hooks!  The facing is set back from the zip on the inside, so that it never gets caught when the zip is used.

I always make my facing pattern so that it matches the top of the skirt pattern - check to see whether your pattern is the same, if not you will have to adjust accordingly.

Now sew the sides of your facing to the zip edge a foot width away from the zip coil.  Because my pattern pieces are the same, I need to overlap the facing by 1cm.  You can trim this overlap off later if you prefer, but I usually don't.

Repeat on the other side.  I always stitch from the top down, so on one side the facing is on the bottom, and on the other side the facing is on the top.

Open out your facing and it will look like this:

Now for the top edge - fold the skirt panel around the coil of the zip onto the facing, so that the coil of the zip is right in the foldline.

From the top your arrangement should look like this:

Now you're ready to start sewing. 

Begin about 3mm above the end of your zip coil, and stitch your facing to the skirt, matching all notches and side seams, to the other end.  Make sure you finish 3mm above the end of the zip coil at this end too, so your top edge is even when zipped up.

Turn through to right side.  To get a nice square corner, it helps to turn the corner of the seam allowance towards the zip and pinch it as you turn it through.


But you haven't finished yet! 
Because the top edge of your skirt is curved in places, you need to tape it to prevent it stretching.  I use a 6mm wide polyester twill tape for this, and preshrink it under heaps of steam from the iron.  Notice how one edge is straight and the other is wavy?

The straight edge will be placed uppermost in the finished skirt, so the slightly longer wavy edge flares to match your shape.  Trust me, the tape may only be 6mm wide, but inserting it the right way up makes a big difference!

Measure the tape to fit your pattern exactly (excluding seam allowances and darts), and mark it at the side seams, CF and CB, and darts.  The measurement should be done along the stitching line, not the cutting line.

Then sew the tape to the seam allowance in the top edge of your skirt, matching all your markings.  I stitch closely to the straight edge of the tape, which is positioned 1mm away from the stitching line.  Once the facing is turned, the wavy edge of tape will be lowermost.

I usually trim 1cm off the beginning and end of the tape to reduce bulk in the corners.

Now edgestitch the facing from the right side, catching the seam allowance underneath. Start and end your edgestitching as close to the zip as you can while still sewing neatly!

Turn and press and admire your lovely work!

I'd love to know if you have found this helpful!

 Happy Sewing!