The Shire: Tee 1 Toile

Following on from the Viking Dress toile, I made some changes to the pattern and commenced toile 4 (of the collection):

  • widened sleeves a bit (though evidently not enough)
  • took it in at the body
  • shortened to make it tee-length
  • added lace inserts

pattern-changes-tee-1

Looking at my illustrations, I can see that I forgot to add the asymmetrical hem. -_- Never mind; I needed practice with the coverstitch machine anyway (still do).

Also, I accidentally made it a size too small. This is because the size chart in Metric Pattern Cutting (which I Googled for quickness) does not agree with the dress forms at college. A size 10 dress form fits size 12 in the book, so when I made a size 10 according to the book, it was a size 8 according to the dress forms. Confusing? It can be. -_- So now it’s a nice fit on me, and a close fit on the dress form.

 Details

tee-1-side-view
Lace Inserts
Free-motion lace
Free-motion lace and cutwork (like the cobwebs of Mirkwood)

Seeing this now, I notice I forgot the top inner bar of the Celtic Knot. It could be neater and I regret marking the circle with a Sharpie (lol),  but everyone seems to be impressed with it (and I’m my own worst critic).

Neck facing
Neck facing

I was looking at my store-bought t-shirts (I acquire them via uniforms) and the back necklines are faced or bound (not sure what to call it) to cover up the overlocking. I’m trying to figure out the best way to do this. So far, I cut a shape like this, press up 0.5cm on the lower edge and short ends, sew it on after the ribbing, and then edgestitch it down. It’s not perfect, but I’m getting there.

Lay plan

tee-1-lay-plan-1

This was my first lay plan (not exactly zero-waste, but I cut the fabric too short, and this is a work in progress. I’m sure there’s a better way.

tee-1-layplan-2

Realised I could cut the ribbing on the fold, so I could rearrange things to waste less fabric. I’m beginning to think kimono sleeves are not very economical.

The Whole Tee

The Shire tee 1 front view

The neckline ribbing actually sits nice and flat when I don’t have my shoulders raised. 🙂

The Shire tee 1 Back view

(The colours in the first photo are truer to life). I like it. But, of course…

Changes to make

  • lower sleeves underseam by about 2-3cm
  • make the correct size
  • widen shoulder lace by 1-2cm
  • widen front lace to match shoulder lace
  • move back sleeve seam closer to CB
  • make asymmetrical hem

I’ll make these changes and toile again. The next top is slightly different. The lace is differently placed and there is different embroidery. It will have the wrong hem on the toile, but the actual one for the next tee is very simple so I don’t need to practise it. 🙂

I’m quite pleased with myself. I’d never made a t-shirt till this term, and almost never used an overlocker, but I think the quality on this is pretty good!

This is how the new pattern is looking so far:

The Shire tee 1 pattern

 

I have a to-do list that is a spreadsheet. I might miss college. :/

Viking Dress in Jersey

As the Hobbit and LOTR are largely inspired by Nordic legends, I thought I’d put a Viking dress into my final collection. It’s pretty much zero-waste too.

viking-dress-pattern

 

I recently got an overlocker on eBay (Toyota SLR4D) and finally have it working properly! And learning to work with jersey is one of my goals for my FMP, so I’m making this dress from either jersey or ponte knit (which I have to test sew because I haven’t used it before and it’s different).

This dress took me about 4 hours to make including cutting. I’m reasonably pleased with it and I will be wearing it, even though it’s a size 10 and I’m a 6.

Now, you may have noticed that the sleeves are a little snug in comparison to the dress form. This is one of the reasons we toile. 🙂 I have made them bigger on the pattern.

The pockets were going to be sleeve segments, but I thought pockets would be better (because who doesn’t love pockets?!)

New skills used in this dress: ribbing, overlock seams, overstitching, using clear elastic as a stabiliser on knits, and marking jersey (use a marker pen). I haven’t perfected the neckline though (and it bothers me).

I got the fabric yesterday at The Shuttle in Leeds. I went on a fabric sourcing trip with the class, which was fruitful, though I still have a few more things to get, like sweatshirting and gold-coloured denim. I estimated my final collection will cost up to £300 in supplies. Not bad really, considering in London it’s not unusual to pay £7,000 (but that includes paying people to make it for you, which we don’t because we learn technical skills 😛 ).

I have updated the pattern to work with the changes in the sleeves, and will try it next in a t-shirt, perhaps with the lace at the shoulders too. 🙂

 

If you’d like more timely updates, don’t forget to check out my Instagram!

 

Twisted Seams in Jeans

I know I haven’t mentioned it on here yet, but I’m onto my final collection of my BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Production at York College. It’s called The Shire and is based largely on The Hobbit and LOTR (follow my Instagram for better updates). I’ve more or less got my final designs and two of the garments are jeans (oh yeah, I now work at Levi’s in York City Centre as a stylist and tailor). There will be a pair of Mom Jeans and a pair of skinny jeans. First I’m working with the Mom Jeans.

At Levi’s we have some jeans like this. They’re a slim, relaxed fit in the leg, with a good fit in the bottom, and a fairly straight waist. The latter is something I will not be incorporating because I like my jeans to stay up without a belt, but the legs are good and I want to use that look. So I compared the cut with those from Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear and found that they are wildly different, but both look good. The latter didn’t look Mom-jeanish though when I toiled them.

This is what the Metric Pattern Cutting Jeans look like if you widen the legs to  make them Mom-jeanish
This is what the Metric Pattern Cutting Jeans look like if you widen the legs to make them Mom-jeanish

 

This is the shape of Levi's jeans like the 501s, Wedgie-fit, and 501CT (from memory)
This is the shape of Levi’s jeans like the 501s, Wedgie-fit, and 501CT (from memory)

Now, bear in mind that the first ones are size 12, and the latter ones are my size (approximately 8) so mine are narrower. The legs on the Levi’s jeans are much straighter at the outseam than the Metric Pattern Cutting ones. The alignment is also a lot closer to the side seam; you could very nearly make selvedge jeans with that pattern!

So I printed it out in my size and toiled it. All going to plan, but I made the pattern too long and shortened it on paper. This is where things began to go awry. When truing the side seam I forgot to take account of the yoke on the back, so the front pattern ended up 3cm too short, and of course I didn’t realise at the time.

I noticed something was wrong when I was sewing the inseam and the back was not only not shorter than the front (it should be) but it was too long by a fair bit. I just cut it off the crutch with the overlocker (bad move). Now the inseams matched. So I sewed the side seams, and realised that it wasn’t just the inseams that wouldn’t have matched. I carried on sewing and tried the toile on afterwards.

Now, the first problem was the bum-nose. I do not wish to appear as if I have a tail tucked in there. I assumed that this was probably due to the issue with the crutch seam, so I moved on.

Another issue came to my attention when I looked down. The legs had twisted symmetrically. I could not fathom why. Levi’s jeans didn’t. And my toile wasn’t even in twill so that couldn’t be it. Surely it must be the fit?

I cut up one leg and examined the new shape. It was… odd.

Front leg of toile

 

Rear leg of toile

Now, I assumed, based on half-remembered facts about twisted seams, that I must adjust the pattern to make the jeans hang right when I wear them. So I spent a good few hours playing with the pattern on Illustrator, in vain, because I couldn’t get the seams to be corresponding measurements. After said good few hours it occurred to me to get the toile out and examine it again. I thought, What would happen if I lay the legs as they would have, had they been the same length to begin with and I hadn’t chopped that bit off?

And this is what happened…

twisting-legs

The back leg’s inseam was 3cm lower than the from leg, but sewn to match it, so the grainlines were not level. This meant the leg was trying to level itself out. As it couldn’t do that magically, it twisted round like a spiral staircase. It sort of makes sense and evidently is what happened, as you can see in the above photo. Accidental Pattern Magic. As proof, if I lay the front leg properly across (as it should have been) all it well. I wore it pinned for a while correctly and it didn’t twist. I didn’t take any pictures of this (but I’m going to retoile to eliminate this issue and check the fit otherwise).

So there we have it: the (or a) cause of twisted legs in jeans is when either the front or the back isn’t level (maybe because the seamstress/seamster stretched one of them and cut it off to match). I think this happens more if the problem extends below the knee.

I’m glad I learned that little tidbit, especially as I want to be a Master Tailor at Levi’s. 🙂

I love free-motion work!

As part of my most recent module at college, I started doing more free-motion work. I’d done some before, without a free-motion foot, but not very much. I think I decided to do it more here because the concept seemed to suggest embroidery and I was NOT going to do it by hand (too time-consuming for college). So I got a Bernina foot #24 and watched some videos on YouTube.

I found out that not only can you do absolutely beautiful embroidery by free-motion, but you can make lace! It took a few goes to get anything really good, but I soon picked it up.

Free-motion lace
Free-motion lace
Free-motion embroidered Celtic Knot design

Helpful sources on YouTube include:

 

 

There were some others too, but I can’t find them anymore.

There is also this fascinating ebook I found (please note I do not have the rights to this ebook, but I don’t know where I found it).

singer-sewing-machine-art-embroidery

There are more of my samples on the Pinterest board for this module. Free-motion is my new favourite thing! 😀

 

How to Measure Yourself (or anyone else) for a Skirt Block

This is a throwback to a post I did a while ago on how to draft a skirt pattern. A reader messaged me and asked for a post on how to properly measure oneself, so I said I would do one. And here it is 🙂

The first thing to do is to tie some tape round your waist and your hips to keep a level. This is easier if you have a full-length mirror, which I currently do not. -_-

To get your front and back waist measurements place the end of the tape where you feel the side-most point of your waist it (this is all a matter of what feels right), wrap the tape around your waist and use your thumb nail to mark the other side-most point. Hold that and the waist measurement point (good thing you have two hands) and make a note of them.

Do the same for your hips. Be a little slack on the front of your hips if you like, especially if like so many of us, you have a bit of a tummy. 🙂

And do the same for your high hip measurement. This is along your pelvis bone line. On me that’s 8cm down from my waist at the CF. I know the measuring tape drooped a bit in the photo.

You will use this measurement to check that the darts aren’t too hollow and the side seams aren’t too curved when you shape them. I once scooped my back darts too much and now I have a high-waist skirt. 🙂

Measure from the waistline to the hipline front and back.

This is why a mirror helps: my hip tape dropped a bit at the back in the photo. 🙂

To make this easier/quicker, I’ve added an Excel file for you to download. It makes it quicker to get your dart measurements and so on ready for drafting your skirt pattern. Click here to access the file. 🙂

And here’s the link to the original tutorial: How to Draft a Custom-fit A-line Skirt Pattern.

Be sure to upload any makes to the Student Designer Facebook page!

Sabrina

Summertime Shorts

We’ve been having a heatwave here in Britain, and I needed some more shorts. I had what I thought was a pretty good pattern, but measuring the waistline I wonder how on Earth I ever managed to zip my un-stretched shorts up! I must have made some colossal mistakes when measuring or something because I’ve had to increase the waist measurement considerably (and, no, I haven’t got that much bigger — as if I could gain weight!).

The inspiration for these shorts is a blend of Audrey Hepburn’s shorts in Sabrina, and some shorts I have already designed and made. They are quite short, but not hot pants, and I’ve flared the legs a bit since toiling so they will hopefully be a bit more elegant.

Toiling

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The initial fit (after adjusting the waist measurement on Illustrator) was pretty good. The waistband pokes out a bit at the front, but I think that’s due to the fairly straight waistline on the front pieces. I’ve corrected that since. The waistline fits actually on my waistline all the way around. They’re comfortable.

I did have a 1cm discrepancy on the inseam — the back needed lengthening there, but now it matches the front. I think that may account for the funny fit on the toile.

I’ve since flared the back leg pieces so they don’t cup the cheeks so. I was working off a photo of Audrey Hepburn:

Audrey Hepburn filming for the film ‘Sabrina’

There seemed to be some variable camel toe on the front. It wasn’t major and I wasn’t sure what to do about it, so I’ve left it for now. We’ll see if it disappears when I use proper fabric. 🙂

 

Making

Summertime shorts, making

Now, partly in an effort not to use the iron (I don’t want to use too much electricity) and partly because I don’t know where my interfacing is, I have not fused the waistband on these shorts. Instead I am using my favourite notion: cotton tape. I stitched to the waistband on one seam-line before I did anything else, and I will stitch it along the fold-line next. On this line of stitching, I will ease it in by 0.5cm to give the fit of a contoured waistband, without the bother of actually drafting and cutting one (save fabric). This is kind of an experiment and we’ll see by the end of this post how it goes.

I am using an invisible zip because they are the easiest to sew, and you only need a 1cm seam allowance, so they’re the easiest and most economical to cut as well.

I have lined the back pockets too. I liked in inside, so I’ve left one the WS out, which you’ll see at the end. 🙂

(Bother! I just remembered that I forgot to use cotton tape on the hip pockets; they seem to be okay…)

Fabrics

Both of the fabrics for these shorts came from a previous college project (which was heavily inspired by Colette Sewing Patterns). One is a stretch jade denim, and the pocket linings are Liberty, both from eBay.

I was going to use the WS of this denim, but I kind of like the RS too. We’ll see if I make another pair from it, or if I use to for something else. 🙂

I’m a teensy bit out of practice with stretch fabrics, so the back pockets were minutely distorted, but I think I soon got the hang of it again. 🙂

 

The finished shorts

Annoyingly, my sewing machine pedal stopped working, so I had to sew using the start/stop button, which makes it harder. Anyway, I finished the shorts last night. I hand-stitched the waistband down inside, after bagging it out at the ends.

I hemmed the shorts by hand, and then found that I had to TS the edge down by machine anyway. I should have increased the hem allowance because, for some reason, I only used a 1cm hem allowance. I need about an inch. I could have used a bias facing, but I don’t know how much binding I have left…

Click on the images below for more details. 🙂

(Just trying out the gallery thing on WordPress — every one of those cuts my head off! lol)

All in all, I LOVE these shorts! They’re so comfy! They fit just right too.

 

Sabrina

 

Lace-Blocked Tee

This is a ‘quick’ project that has taken me about a month or so because my guitar kept distracting me and begging me to play it ;). It’s based on my TNT French Woven Tee pattern (self-drafted), but adapted to have a yoke-kimono cap sleeve, a separate bodice section, and the dart shifted higher up the side seam. I had the fabric in my stash from previous college projects and thought I’d use it up to make a nice summer top.

This was also an opportunity to try to improve my photography/modelling skills and as it is the middle of summer (hottest day of the year! Woo!) I could take advantage of the late golden hour.

Lace-blocked tee, front

The idea is that it looks like a bodice and tunic, sort of. A modern version, if you will, that doesn’t look like a costume. 🙂

To begin with the sleeves were huge and I didn’t like it. So I took them in at the shoulder seam and considerably reduced the length (about an inch or so). Regrettably I didn’t think to take photos as I was too eager to change it and see if I could make the top likeable. Which I did, and I’m happy with it now. There is, however, one slight issue: the back.

Lace-blocked tee, back

You can’t see it here, because I put the buttons on the wrong side (that’s not the issue).

Lace-blocked tee, back 2

Because of the way I finished the opening, you can see the yellow placket. Ugh. (Side note, the bottom of the placket DOES NOT look like that in real life. This must be a very bad angle).

Lace-blocked tee, details 1

Now for details. The top and bottom of the ‘bodice’ part are edged with running stitches. You may remember this feature from my FMP at Bishop. This top’s style continues from that collection. The neckline was finished by sewing stay tape along the WS, turning the s.a. under, and double-stitching. This allows for the nicest finish from the outside, I feel. The sleeves are hemmed similarly, but sans stay tape. Lace doesn’t fray, so neatening the seams is optional.

I chose to make the sleeves kimono sleeves. I thought this would be best. It uses less fabric and gives a cleaner look to the top.

(PS. The safety pin is a political thing as a result of Brexit. It’s to show that I won’t be racially abusive to you, so you can talk to me. 🙂 )

Lace-blocked tee, details 2

The top button is a cool decorative one from my button jar. The rest are clear ones. I like using clear buttons on light-coloured fabrics. I think it looks more expensive. (Gah! In all these photos the edges of the top don’t line up! They did when I was sewing. I’m going to have to ask someone in real life how it looks!)

All in all, I’m quite pleased with this new top. It’s comfortable to wear (as it should be, having been drafted from my TNT block) and it looks good.

— Sabrina

FreeSpirit Bodice

On of my self-assigned learning goals for this module was to use fabrics with which I have little to no experience. One such fabric was real leather. I was somewhat intimidated by this fabric, and not without cause. People always say that you get one chance with real leather. There can be no unpicking. And you can’t ease it.

Well, you know what? You can do both. To a point. Leather is actually fine to work with. I used pigskin. My Bernina 380’s feet work well with it, especially the Jeans foot #8. I didn’t need a teflon foot.

Of course, you can’t pin leather because, apart from anything else, doing so will make it wavy and it won’t match up where it’s supposed to. So sewing pinlessly is the way to go. (I seldom use pins anyway.)

Now, there are some interesting design features that caused difficulty with sewing. Namely: twigs as boning, feathers as embellishment, and eyelets.

DSC08723.JPG

The twigs needed shaping, which meant soaking in warm water, then shaping with gentle tiny bends to the shape of the bodice seam. I hand-stitched them on. The princess seams were top-stitched, so I caught those stitches with my hand-needle and linen thread. TIP: lacquer things with clear nail varnish. It made this look so much better, and I think it strengthened it too.

The feathers, well, sewing them on went a lot quicker when I realised I could do it by machine. Yeah. Anyway, the ones that ended above the waistband needed holes piercing in the leather for the quills to go though. That took both my awls (the fine one, and the thick one).

DSC08718.JPG
The holes still needed enlarging a little for the thick leather thonging to thread through.

The eyelets. I had intended to use metal ones, but not only did they not come on time, but when they did arrive I found that ‘6mm’ referred not to the size of the hole, but rather to the size of the eyelet. Very annoying. Anyway, I used the straight stitch eyelet on my machine, punched with my Japanese screw punch, and satin stitched around the hole, cording as I went. I think this fits in quite well with the concept of and ‘adaptive’ survivor in that I did use my initiative. I’m quite pleased with how they turned out really. 🙂

In retrospect I should have sewn the twigs on afterwards because they got in the way as I rotated the bodice around to sew the eyelets.

I draped the bodice pattern on the stand because fitting a corset is just too much work when you can drape it instead, and it had to fit the stand anyway.

What would I have done differently (had I superpowers)? I should have like the bodice to fit the model better, but as no one had any idea who that would be, this was impossible. What else? Hmm… Nothing really. I’m pleased with it. I learned that leather is no terror to work with (and I will be using the rest of the leather that I bought for something 🙂 ). I also learned why we don’t use twigs as boning but that clear nail varnish has yet another use.

So, I’m fairly satisfied with this part of the project 🙂

 

— Sabrina

 

 

Last college project for the summer

On Monday, with a mixture of relief and muted stress, I handed in my last project for this year. It is a museum piece that, alongside my classmates’ pieces, will go on display in an exhibit at York Castle Museum. The concept was Identity, which, as you may imagine, opened a can of worms for everyone, especially as most of us chose to do our own.

It all began with watching Greyson Perri’s documentary from the BBC on YouTube. People perceive identity itself in different ways, from simply what we wear, to the very brass tacks of our souls. For me, identity goes beyond what I like to do, or where I am from. It goes down to the very essence of what makes me tick, and how I fit in in this great clockwork piece we call the world.

Those of you who have followed this blog (sparsely written as it is) will know that avant-garde is not my forte. I have been close to tears before trying to do it. I do stuff you can actually wear. So my way around this project’s needing to be a museum piece was to make something more akin to a film costume. You couldn’t actually wear it in the street and look sane, but you could wear it in a film or on stage. Compromise accomplished. 🙂

mood board.jpg
Mood Board (yes, that is Lara Croft, my childhood idol)

My concept is my identity as a FreeSpirit – Adaptive Survivor. Now, my little journal goes quite deep into myself, and I won’t bring you to tears with it. I have grown through this project. I feel stronger and more confident. I’ve figured some stuff out too.

One thing that makes me me, is something I figured out a while ago. One day I was feeling quite unappreciated (as it turned out, this was groundless, but there you go) and on the verge of feeling down. It dawned on me as I walked silently to the classroom at Bishop Burton College, that, at least I can make other people feel good. I can make them smile, I can encourage them, and can give them the strength I felt I lacked. That made me feel good, and I went to class with the resolve to do just that.

“We rise by lifting others.”

Another thing I learned was that freedom, as most people think of it, does not exist in nature. We need things, food etc., and so we either have to work for it, or we have to grow/hunt/forage it. Most of us are not going to live in the forest, so we need money. Anyway, everything has a price so the idea of being able to do whatever you want whenever and wherever you want to is no more realistic than a genie arriving on your doorstop in a milk bottle one morning. The closest we can ever come to freedom is an attitude to life that is nicely summed up in a little book called “The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k” (though I change it to “…Not Giving a Toss” or “…a Stuff.” 🙂

If something is bothering you, or likely to bother you, let it go. Stuff it, as we say in Yorkshire. If there is a situation you don’t like, but you can’t do anything about, let it go (even sing that song if you like). Just letting it go feels so light and lets you feel happier.

“The secret to freedom is in not giving a stuff”

Something else is that, yes it takes a great deal of strength to say that you are not good at something (I cannot write songs for toffee). But it takes a great deal more to say firmly, confidently that you are good at something, bally good. And to say it with nothing more than your self-belief behind you. You are the only one who can make your ground strong enough to stand on and stand firm with things get shaky.

I suppose that ultimately, I have made myself stronger, and I make others stronger.

So how does all this come into the outfit I’ve made? Let’s have a look…

Plan page for corset.jpg
The bodice
plan page for skort.jpg
The Skorts
plan page for tunic.jpg
The Tunic

So that is an overview of the garments that are part of this project. In the next few posts I’ll go into more detail. 🙂

How to Make a Saddle Cover from a Bag-for-Life

cover image for how to make a saddle cover 2
This is a quick and easy project. I made my saddle cover this afternoon because my old one has holes in it, which renders it somewhat less useful as a way to keep my saddle dry.

You can download the pattern for free here in A4 and here in Letter size. It is ‘to cut on the fold’ because the pattern is wider than a sheet of paper and I thought it would be easier this way.

You Will Need:

  • A bag-for-life
  • 34cm of 9mm wide elastic
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors (not your fabric scissors)
  • Sewing kit
  • A ball point pen for drawing on the bag

Helpful notes:

  • Use a long stitch length. I used about 3mm, but 4mm would have been better, especially when sewing the elastic on.
  • If you would like to make a saddle cover from something other than a grocery bag, the gusset is 78cm wide (plus 2cm seam allowance) by 8cm deep (including seam allowance.
  • Pins probably won’t help and may rip the plastic.

 

Step One: Cutting out

Once you have printed your pattern lay it on a bag-for-life (a tough grocery bag) and draw round it. I used my old saddle cover cut up as a pattern so I had to add seam allowances. If you are using your half-pattern, mark the fold lines and flip it over to complete it.

Cut off the bottom 8cm of the bag to make the gusset. Trim off one of the side seams.

Saddle cover from grocery bag

Step Two: Sew the gusset to the top

Starting at the CB, sew the gusset to the top until you get to the CF, or a little before if you like. Then sew the other side.

Saddle cover from bag-for-life: gusset to top

Step Three: Join the ends

When you get to the CF, match up the ends of the gusset and sew the CF seam. Then trim it down to a 1cm seam allowance.

Saddle cover from grocery bag

Step Four: Prepare and attach the elastic

Cut 34cm of elastic. That includes a 1cm seam allowance/overlap at each end. Divide it and the gusset into quarters with a pen.

Saddle cover from bag-for-life

Starting at the CB, start sewing the elastic on just to secure it. Then, holding the gusset taut at the back of the needle, and stretching the elastic to match the next mark, sew the elastic to the gusset.

Then turn the elastic to the inside and sew it in place there. This gives a nicer finish. I have an extra line of stitching because when I turned the elastic under the first time I didn’t catch it in the stitching. 🙂

Saddle cover from bag-for-life

And you’re done!

There you have your saddle cover: a practical, eco-friendly sewing project for your bike.

How to make a Saddle cover from bag-for-life