Sunday, July 29, 2012

Add Side Seam Splits To Your Trousers Too!

The other day I was asked how I did the side split hem on my black stretch capris, and as quite a few of you liked this design feature I've done a quick tutorial.  This is for you Liza Jane!  It is a handy trick to know, because you can also use it on the hems of sleeves and tops too.

  The first step is to establish the following:
  • your finished hemline
  • depth of the split (mine was 4cm)
  • hem allowance (this must be 1-2cm greater than the depth of the split, mine was about 6cm)

To the side seam of your pattern, add three notches:
  • one on the hem fold
  • one above the hem fold and one below the hem fold, to mark the depth of the split, ie 4cm

Sew the side seam, but leave it open between the upper and lower notches, backtacking at the ends of your stitching:

Press the seam allowances open either side of the notches...

...then fold the hem up along the hemline (don't press the hem until you've finished):

Now reach into the hem and pinch together the seam allowances inside, and pull them out ready to sew them together:

You should have one seam allowance folded at the hem notch with right sides together. Ensure the hem notch is on the foldline, and the split notches match:

Sew the seam allowances together on this side of the split, between the notches:

Turn this side of the split through, and repeat for the other side:

If you've done everything accurately, both sides of the split should be the same length (if you look closely at the very first photo, mine is about 1mm out!).

This is the inside:

And this is the outside:

Now you sew the hem as per normal - I machined the hem on my trousers, but you can do it by hand for a more tailored look.

Happy sewing!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Teal Jacket Bound Buttonholes - A Pictorial

This fabric is really thick!  I was a bit worried about the bound buttonholes, so did a bit of research.  In the Reader's Digest Complete Book of Sewing the "two-piece piped method" is recommended for thick fabrics.  That's the one where you make an organza window and sew the welts in behind, so that's what I did.

I can't figure out why it is recommended for thick fabrics over my favourite method, as there are actually more layers of fabric in the finished buttonhole, and there is a greater thickness differential between the welts and the main panel. Mmm.  If anyone has any idea why Reader's Digest recommends this way, do share - you know I always want to know the why!

This method looks easy, but is actually quite hard to stitch the welts accurately - I had to unpick and reposition a couple.  I think I'll return to my favourite method in future, which is more foolproof in my opinion.

OK - Pictorial time!

(I've kept this wordless, but have numbered all the images so you can easily ask questions if you don't understand what I'm doing!)


As you can see, I'm doing lots of hand stitching on this jacket, just because I feel like doing so!
Now tell me, what is your favourite method for making bound buttonholes?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Beginning of a Teal Mohair Jacket

If you read my last post you will already have seen a glimpse of my vintage teal mohair fabric.  I salvaged it from a 1950's coat that had the sleeves and collar missing, but the front and back panels were just large enough to squeeze this 60's jacket pattern from:

I love to create something from things that would otherwise be useless - I think that is the bit I like best about projects like this!  There was a bit of creative laying out to get everything cut, and the fabric pile didn't help matters, but I managed to cut all pieces with a few compromises.

I had to add a CB seam on the back and the collar, and cut the undercollar on the bias instead of the straight grain. I added a sneaky patch to the front facings:

and a compulsory cuff:

There are a few places where seam allowances and hems have to err, pretend that they are there:

I'm using the inside of the coat as the right side of my jacket.  Due to wear and tear the mohair was extra fluffy in areas, as you can see in some of the photos!  Here's my progress so far:

Front darts - because of  the thickness of the fabric I slashed and pressed them open to reduce bulk:

  The front interfacing is secured to the front:

and the collar interfacing to the under collar:

I've pinked all the seams, and will catchstitch them down so they lay flat permanently.  That sounds like a lot of work, but catchstitching on this chunky fabric is quick and fun!

I found these two vintage buttons in my stash that match perfectly:

But unfortunately I need four! I would have loved to have used them as they originated from my mother's button box - I even asked her to check for some more, but no such luck.  Whatever buttons I do get they need to be 40mm - because I've already started the buttonholes!

Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Finished - Black Stretch Capris!

I finished off the black stretch capris that I made on my perfect rainy day inside sewing.  They just needed hemming and a button - the very things that I find most difficult to do.  That problem is all in the head of course!

They're a bit so-so, and I blame the fabric.  I think I mentioned that I had already tried some fitted trousers in this fabric before that were unsuccessful.  These are much improved but still have their faults, most of them I can live with for a casual pant.

The fabric is from that era of hi-tech fabrics, and is a polyester/viscose/polyamide/elastane twill (I think that's right - I'm going back a few years in my memory with that detail so don't trust me on that 100%).  My first attempt was looser, and turned out rather balloony/puffy if you know what I mean.  I totally unpicked them because I decided this fabric needs to be tight to be successful in a trouser - something I was trying to avoid at my age!  The fabric has about 10% stretch and the recovery isn't great, as you can see by the knees and seat after a day's work:

Being a close fitting trouser the knees are wrinkly in that jeans-sort-of-way anyway, and to be honest it is not that bad in real life.  This fabric has a nylon sheen that loves to show off it's wrinkles to the camera!  Oh well, it is certainly of more use made up as a pair of trousers, than stuck on a roll under the bed collecting dust!

I like wearing them with my little pink jacket that I wear a lot at this time of year, and they will look cool with my current project-that-I-can't-wait-to-finish in vintage teal mohair:

Let's get down to the details - there is a side invisible zip, and the waist is bound with a button and loop:

And the hems are stitched, with little side seam splits:

What else?  Mmm, I overlocked the seams:

As you can see, there are not many details...

In fact simple black stretch capris are pretty boring, but I've worn these so much already that I don't know how I lived without them!  I think in a better fabric these will be great for summer in navy, and red, and stone, and maybe a fun colour too - orange? - suggestions welcome!