Keep your feet warm and toasty!

Samantha women's shoesAlmost a year ago I made myself a pair of Samantha women’s shoes from ithinksew. To say that those are my most worn self-mades is probably an understatement. I’ve worn them every single day when I was at home, except when I was in the shower or in bed. They’re not the most elegant footwear but they are comfortable and warm and that’s exactly what I want when I’m at home.

Samantha women's shoes

Not so surprisingly, the lining of that pair is wearing out and they’ve gotten a little dirty. Time for a new pair! I made exactly the same size as last time. This time I used the quilt as you go method to make the outside using Hobbs 80/20 batting, denim scraps (from old pairs of jeans, yay for recycling!) and Güttermann Sulky variegated thread. For the lining I used a thick polar fleece. The sole is again made from slipper gripper fabric. I can highly recommend this product. I haven’t slipped once wearing my old pair.

Quilt as you go

When I was quilting the outside I wasn’t so sure I would like the final product but I’m quite pleased with how the patchwork and variegated thread looks on these shoes. I’m sure they’ll get worn just as much as the old pair.
141025_shoes_sideview

My boyfriend took a picture of me as I was quilting the fabric for these shoes. As you can see it’s not just my feet that I like to keep warm and toasty… Quilting

English paper piecing

I think I have a new love.

English paper pieced flowers

Last weekend we went away and I decided somewhat last minute that I wanted to take something with me to craft. I’ve seen many bloggers take English paper piecing projects with them when they travel because it’s portable and doesn’t require a lot of tools. I always thought English paper piecing would be very complicated and difficult but I had never looked into the details of how exactly it’s done. A couple of YouTube videos convinced me that it is in fact extremely easy as long as you work accurately. Within an hour I had printed several sheets with hexagon templates from My Poppet and cut a stack of fabric squares to take with me.

Sunnyside flower fabrics

I chose four fabrics from the Sunnyside collection that I didn’t use for the babyquilt because they had flowers on them. The print is the same for each fabric but they’re in a different colourway. The white one reminds me of old fashioned curtains and tablecloths but cut up into smaller pieces this association luckily disappeared. I decided to start simple and assemble hexagon flowers with one of the fabrics in the centre and the other 3 in a circle around it.

assembled flower

All I needed to take with me was a plastic thingy (that probably has another official name in English) that at first held the sheets with printed templates and that I later used to store assembled hexagon flowers (a very nice discovery that those fit in there!). Two small containers held my precut fabric squares and my cut templates and fabric covered templates. Lastly, I brought some pins and needles in a small pincushion, a pair of scissors and two spools of thread.

English paper piecing supplies

During the weekend I assembled almost 5 flowers! I was amazed at how fast they came together for something that is made completely by hand. What I also like about it is that it’s actually so easy that I can still do it when I’m relatively tired and other crafting projects aren’t an option. This might change when I try more complicated projects with differently shaped pieces or attempt fussy cutting.

English paper piecing process

The remaining fabric has already been cut into squares and I am ready to assemble some more flowers. I’m not really sure what I am actually going to do with them because my spur of the moment decision to try English paper piecing didn’t really involve much more than “let’s give it a try and we’ll see how I like it”. Assemble into larger pieces to make a very small quilt or keep them separate and applique on pillows?

detailI also already have quite a number of ideas for other paper pieced projects. Where can I get more time?

Completed: Knippie baby blouse

I sometimes find it difficult to sew for baby boys. One problem is that you can’t add too many cute frills because people might find it too girly. The second problem is that dresses are somehow just more fun to make. I usually end up making another Growing up sew liberated envelope tee. However, my colleagues have been creating a lot of boys lately so I’ve already given several of these tees away. It was high time for some diversification or risk people thinking I am a one-trick monkey.

140910_frontI still had some of the coronavirus fabric that would be great to use for a boy but the amount was somewhat limited so not every pattern was going to work. After much deliberation I chose blouse 6 from Knippie 5 2010 in size 74. If you compare the shirt I made with the line drawing you might notice that my version doesn’t look all that much like the drawing. First, I made short sleeves because of fabric limitations. Second, I don’t really like the western cowboy details so I left these completely off on the front and changed the curved yoke to a straight yoke and cut the back piece on the fold. I considered leaving out the yoke completely but inside yokes are pretty useful for embroidering sizes on so that persuaded me otherwise. I didn’t like the square pocket so left it off as well. In the pattern the front placket facing is cut separately which I really don’t understand when you don’t use a contrasting fabric (bulk, extra sewing, seriously why?) so I merged the front and front placket pattern pieces. On the sleeve piece some of the notches were missing but I didn’t have any trouble putting them in, it just took a little bit more care to get things properly aligned and eased in.

140910_detail collarThe main fabric is a baby corduroy that is really soft. It also doesn’t wrinkle much when it is washed which is a huge bonus for parents with young children. I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut the collar and used some left-over fabric from another make. I think it works very well and probably makes the shirt better looking than if it had just been the main fabric. It does seem to become a bit of a theme though, not having enough fabric for what I want to make. I’m not entirely sure what that says about my project planning and fabric buying skills…

openI didn’t have suitable buttons in my stash and used snaps. This is possibly also a safer option in clothes for young children but I found it a bit challenging and time consuming to get them all spaced equally. Don’t do this bit when you’re in a hurry. They look really good though. I placed the top snap a bit lower than they did in the line drawing because I don’t think baby’s like having a collar really tight aroung their neck.

I didn’t follow the Knippie assembly instructions. According to them topstitching of the collar is optional. Optional??? Not in my book. I used French seams for the side seams and the yoke trick (also called burrito method) for the shoulder seams. This encloses all seam allowances which looks really great in my opinion. The seam allowances of the sleeves were overlocked and then topstitched in place.

140910_inside detailThere are two things that I am not completely happy about. I accidently cut the back yoke piece upside down (getting creative with limited amounts of fabric does have its risks…). Luckily little kids mostly lie on their backs right? I also should have used a lighter thread for attaching the collar because on the inside you can now see the stitching line. Other than that I think it turned out very well and I will probably use this pattern again.

 

Completed: yet another Lady Skater t-shirt…

front colour blocked t-shirtI needed some simple projects to get going again and decided to fill a gap in my wardrobe: long sleeved t-shirts. Useful when it gets a little bit colder and a short sleeved t-shirt doesn’t provide enough coverage anymore but a cardigan or sweater is still too warm.

140907_sideIf you have been following this blog for a while you may have noticed that I usually use solid colours when sewing for myself and that I am not averse to some colour blocking. To make this t-shirt I used the same pattern as before but adapted it to give the top of the t-shirt a different colour. I even remembered to take some progress pictures so I could show you how I changed the pattern to achieve this look. This is a very easy method to give your favourite t-shirt (or dress) a different appearance.

The first step is tracing your pattern because you don’t want to mess with the original, you might want to use it again some other time. Make sure to include all relevant pattern markings, I forgot to add the straight of grain line for the sleeve at first…

trace pattern

Fresh pattern pieces!

The second step is to decide where you want to cut and mark this position on all pattern pieces (front, back and sleeve). I made a mark ¾’’ below the armpit. You could cut a little bit higher than that, but I would advise you to take into account that you are introducing extra seam allowances inside the shirt and you don’t want all of those to meet exactly at the armpit because that will become very bulky which is a pain to sew and might also not be too comfortable when wearing. If you only want a small strip of the second colour at the top you can also cut above the armpit. Check that the marks you made on the front and back bodice match and that the marks you made on the sides of the sleeve match as well.

Mark a certain distance away from the armpit and check on front and back bodice (and sleeve) whether the marks match up.

Mark a certain distance away from the armpit and check on front and back bodice (and sleeve) whether the marks match up.

Draw a line across the pattern pieces through the mark and cut the pattern. Make sure that both sides of each pattern piece are labelled correctly.

mark and cut

My pencil marks aren’t very clear but I first drew the cut line with pencil.

The Lady Skater pattern has the seam allowance included in the pattern. However, where I cut the pattern, the seam allowance is not yet included. This means that I have to remember to add the appropriate seam allowance when I cut the pattern from fabric. I use a quilting ruler and rotary cutter to get a straight cut. You can also tape some extra tracing paper to the pattern and add the seam allowance to the pattern if you worry that you’ll forget.

Add seam allowance to side that was sliced.

Add seam allowance to side that was sliced.

I chose to first sew top and bottom of each pattern piece together before assembling the t-shirt. You could topstitch the seams but I didn’t. For another look you could also only do this modification to the bodice to get a differently coloured yoke and leave the sleeves as they are.

pieces assembled

And it case you are wondering, yes, there will be jeans at some point, just not this week, I have too much other stuff going on…

140907_back

 

My boyfriend wrapped me in duct tape

frontA title like this could contain a very sinister story but in our case it was my idea to wrap duct tape around me. If you are a garment sewer you might already have guessed that I was after a dress form.

I aim to make clothes that fit but the fitting process can be quite lengthy if you have to fit yourself. For me it usually includes sewing a muslin, putting it on and going to our bedroom that has a full length mirror to see how it fits. With just one mirror it is, however, quite difficult to assess fit because you can’t really judge the fit from the side and back because you distort the garment when bending your head and body in an attempt to see what the garment looks like. Usually, I’ll go downstairs to take some pictures so I can assess what the garment looks like from those angles. I find pictures really helpful to assess fit issues.

backWhen the fit issues are clear it is time to make adjustments. It is easiest to make adjustments to a garment when it is on a body. When the garment is on your own body that does create some challenges. Adjustments to the front are usually doable. I’ll do them in front of the aforementioned mirror (all the while worried that I end up leaving pins in our bed, on my boyfriend’s side…). Adjustments to the back are more difficult. Most places are problematic to reach without ending up with a back injury so it often involves a lot of taking the garment off, guessing what needs to be done, trying it on (often also taking more pictures) and then trying something else. This can go on for quite a long time because I’m also still learning how to fix certain issues and a lot of what I do is trial and error.

sideI’ve been thinking for a long time that a dress form would be extremely helpful to decrease the time spent fitting. If I can make the initial large adjustments on a dress form and only have to do the final tweaking on my own body the whole process should go a lot faster.

My first thoughts went to a commercial dress form but I quickly realized that even if they are of the adjustable variety I’ll never get one that is exactly like my own body. I think the future of dress forms will include a body scanner and a 3D printer that recreates your body to perfection but I haven’t been able to find a company that already offers this (and at first it’ll probably be insanely expensive) so I went with the next best thing: duct tape.

There are loads of tutorials out there on how to make a dress form using duct tape so I’m not going into all the details here. I’ll just give three top tips. Use a close fitting t-shirt as a base and not a garbage bag. The fabric of the t-shirt adds a lot of support to the duct tape shell and I believe this helps the form to keep its shape.  Use non-stick scissors when you cut the dress form open to get out. Lastly, when closing the cut, start taping from the inside with the small lengths of duct tape and try to align the cut as best as you can. If you are happy with the alignment, put some tape on the outside as well, then move onto the next segment. Taping from both sides will make the seam stronger and you’ll have less chance the form will pop open at some point.

Cut open dress form. I later cut off the top of the pants that wasn't attached to the duct tape.

Cut open dress form. I later cut off the top of the pants that wasn’t attached to the duct tape.

 

Feeling a little deflated...

Feeling a little deflated…

I started with a long sleeved scoop neck t-shirt but sewed some ribbed knit onto the neckline to create more of a turtle neck because I wanted to include part of my neck in the form (it’s easier to start with a turtle neck but I didn’t have one). Because my hips are the widest part of my body I find they also affects how tops look on me so I decided to include my hips and upper legs in the form as well so I also wore close fitting sports pants.

We used one layer of duct tape and two layers on some areas that I felt needed some more support. I bought two rolls of 50 meter each but we ended up using less than one roll. I would advise you to buy more than you think you’ll need because you don’t want to realise half-way through taping that you’re running out and need to go to a store to buy more. It’s not that comfortable to be wrapped in duct tape…

You should choose someone you trust to do the taping because it’s quite an intimate process. It was also a bit scary to have someone use scissors this close to my bottom.

Getting some shape as the form is stuffed.

Getting some shape as the form is stuffed.

My form was stuffed with filling from old pillows and some stuffed toys filling. I chose to put a hanger inside so I can hang the form somewhere when fitting. If you don’t include the legs you could also make it so it stands on a desk or insert a stand. In a future sewing room I’ll probably make something on the wall so I can hang the form permanently. For now I’ll make do with a hook a previous tenant left in our bedroom ceiling. The only thing she really lacks is collapsible shoulders, but I think that feature will have to wait until those body scanning companies are up and running.

duct tape dress form

Do you have a dress form and do you find it helpful for fitting?

Sewing jeans: Muslin 4

First I’ll show you some changes I made to muslin 3 to improve the fit.

At the front I pinned out a horizontal dart and added some fabric to finally fix that wavy side seam (this latter part is better visible in the side view of the muslin).

muslin front

The change I made to the paper pattern to add that extra room to the front is possibly different from how you think it was done so I took some pictures. I chose not to add this extra space by adding onto the side seam because that most likely would have changed the length of the front side seam and then it wouldn’t have been the same length anymore as the back side seam. Instead I made a vertical cut in my pattern and created a lot of hinge points at the side seam. In the muslin I measured at several point how much room I had to add. The hinge points made it possible to curve the original side seam to mimic what I had done in the muslin.

straighten side seam

1. Slice in the pattern as you did in the muslin. 2. Create hinge points, I accidently cut some of those too close so they teared… 3. Tape a piece of tracing paper underneath the pattern and shape side seam to add additional room to pattern.

At the back I struggled a bit and ended up adding another wedge across. Not sure whether that was really necessary… In the end I decided that the way I had taken out the extra space I had taken out at the yoke wasn’t right and created the weird shaping so for muslin 4 I redrafted this curve in the pattern.

140811_muslin3_back

140811_muslin3_side

Then onto muslin 4. I didn’t have enough fabric left to make it full length so I made it as long as I could with the fabric I had left over from muslin 1 and 2.

140811_back curveFor this muslin I redrew the back seam because I needed to fix the problems I had created by taking out all of the gaping I had at the center back of the yoke. In the muslin you can see that I am now planning to remove this excess by pinning it out as if they are back darts. This will create some shaping in the yoke pieces and I think this should get rid of the gaping. I also realised that the curve I had at center back wasn’t deep enough to accomodate my curves so I changed it as shown in the picture on the left. Perhaps I’ll have to scoop it out yet a little bit more.

In muslin 3 I felt that after I straightened the side seam it was still located a bit too much towards the front of the trousers so I moved it back by 1 cm in the pattern. This was done by making a vertical slice in both front and back pattern pieces. The front piece was taped to some extra tracing paper adding an extra cm. The back was overlapped to take out 1 cm. Don’t forget to also make this change to the yoke piece!

muslin 4 front

Still a couple of wrinkels at the crotch, but not too bad. The top of the trousers aren’t straight so I’ll have to change that. I think moving the side seam backwards is an improvement.

muslin 4 back

I do think the back looks better but now there is some fabric pooling that I’ll have to get rid off. This picture is also a bit slanted…

muslin 4 side

Side seam is much straighter. Top front is a bit lower than the back.

Since jeans are usually supposed to fit quite tight when you put them on I think I’ll make them a bit more fitted at the side- and inseam because the muslin is a bit loose right now and I think they will end up too loose when sewn in a stretch denim.

I’m afraid I’ll have to make at least 1 more muslin… Can you believe I am already dreaming of all the easy no fuss tops I’m going to make after I finally finish these jeans?

 

Sewing jeans: Making samples

topstitchingthread

Do you ever get started enthusiastically on a project and then suddenly lose steam? That’s what happened with my muslin process. I was a bit tired and didn’t have much time so not much progress was made and now I have to motivate myself to get back to it. I have finished muslin 4 though and I think I’m really close to getting a good fit. I’ll probably write about it after the weekend. Now I want to show you another part of the sewing process, collecting all the materials and testing out different techniques before using them on the actual garment.

needle&thread

Also important: a supply of fresh denim needles!

I already bought some denim and matching thread for this project a while ago. All my RTW jeans are blue so I thought it would be fun to use a different colour for this pair and chose grey. I like how the fabric looks and feels, but it is quite lightweight so probably more suitable to wear in summer than winter (so I’d better hurry up making these!).

In Angela Wolff’s Craftsy class she shows how to distress denim with sandpaper to get that worn look that most RTW jeans have. I wasn’t really sure how well that would work on my fabric so I tested it and it’s not a success. It makes the fabric fuzzy which doesn’t look very pretty so for this pair I’ll give the distressing part a miss. I’ll have to try it on something else though!

Fabric on the left is not distressed, fabric on the right was distressed with sandpaper.

Fabric on the left is not distressed, fabric on the right was distressed with sandpaper. It’s turned a bit fuzzy.

I my opinion topstitching in contrasting thread is one of the scary parts of sewing jeans. It is so visible and if it isn’t done right it can really brand your make as homemade. For my jeans I bought two colours of Coats Epic 40 thread to try out. Black and a brown that is really close to black. First I tried which stitch length would look best and decided on 4.0. I also tried some stitches to use on the back pocket embroidery (another scary part…). I used the black thread for my samples but I think in the end I prefer the brownish thread over the black one because it is a little more subtle. I’ll have to practise a bit more though to get my double rows of topstitching consistent before I attempt this on the actual jeans.

stitch length

I also tried a keyhole buttonhole.

In bag making one trick to make your bag look professional is to throw some metal hardware at it and I think this might be true for jeans as well. I bought some metal rivets and jeans buttons that I can apply with my Prym pliers. Rivets are typically used in jeans to reinforce pocket corners. I got enough of both in each packet that I could try them out to see how well they behave when I apply them. It worked surprisingly well. It also made me realise that I have to think how I want the button oriented before I put it into the fabric. I think my jeans will feature at least a couple of rivets.

140808_rivetandbutton

I am not yet ready to get started on my jeans because I still need to perfect the fit but I think I do have everything I need to finish this pair. I’ve also already made some design decisions, like which thread to use for the topstitching and what stitch length to use. This will speed up the sewing process because I won’t have to stop to test this anymore. I also don’t have to quit in the middle of a sewing frenzy because I forgot to buy a zipper (I have a huge stash of zippers and something is bound to be suitable). Testing these things also makes for a nice change from making muslins.

This fabric was distressed before topstitching. It's also fuzzy.

This fabric was distressed before topstitching. It’s also fuzzy.

Do you generally make samples before trying something new?

I'll need to experiment some more...

I’ll need to experiment some more…