Week 19/2018: What’s on my design wall?

After auditioning some different border colours in Photoshop for my Cherrywood project, I decided on dark blue as that appeared to maintain the energetic feeling of the pieced part best. I am now waiting for the fabric to arrive, so time to start on something else!

A while back I finished a baby quilt top but it still needs a backing before I can start quilting. It’s not coming along as smoothly as I would like. I am not so sure that I like what I have so far.

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Completed: A quilt for Ivy

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During my blogging hiatus I made several baby quilts because I wasn’t the only one in our circle of family and friends to have a little one. The last one that was completed is the first to make an appearance here. Mostly because I didn’t have to search where the pictures ended up…

This quilt made me happy when I was working on it and that is mostly due to the fabric. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw it up on my design wall. The majority is Kate Spain’s Sunnyside collection for Moda. I used this fabric collection once before for a baby quilt, but this time I used all prints in the collection and added another 4 fabrics from my stash (can you identify which ones?).

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Front, quilted, not yet bound.

For the front I cut three 4.5’’ squares from each fabric and simply started throwing them onto my design wall until I had a 10×10 square that contained each fabric at least twice. Then some rearranging ensued to make sure there wasn’t too much dark blue in one corner etc. Essentially, I tried to make the rearrangement appear random by effectively making it less random.

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Back, quilted, not yet bound.

For the back I started with some improvisational piecing to get the name of the recipient into the green fabric. A strip of left over squares from the front ties the designs of front and back together. I didn’t have enough of the green fabric left to use for the entire back and found a greyish print in my stash to fill the gaps at the top and bottom.

Batting is Hobbs Tuscany Cotton Wool which is my go to batting at the moment. The quilting is a simple straight line walking foot design using a pale grey Gütermann Sulky thread.

The binding is a grey fabric from Karen Lewis’ Blueberry Park collection for Robert Kaufman. I bought several yards of it a couple of years ago and have used it for backs and bindings of several quilts. I could just squeeze the binding of this quilt out of the last bit I had left.

F2F: December blocks

In December it was Christine’s turn to receive three blocks in her chosen colours dark grey, turquoise and coral. She also likes scrappy, so where for other people’s blocks I would have repeated certain fabrics a bit more, for these blocks I tried to use as many different fabrics as possible, even though I don’t have a huge collection.

For my first block I started with a square and inserted narrow strips. It was then cut wonky and framed in two other fabrics. Quite simple, but effective I think.

December1

For my second block I pieced strips of different widths and then cut the resulting piece into columns of increasing width that were framed and connected using narrow strips.

December2

For my third block I started with a square that was then framed in a wonky border. Somehow this reminds me of a tv, I know I’m a bit weird. I think this may be my favourite block this month.

December3

As usual the blocks that were made by the other participants of the swap can be viewed in the F2F gallery.

Sewing jeans: Muslin 2

If you are now wondering whether you missed a post about muslin 1. You didn’t. I had originally planned to blog the whole fitting process but muslin 1 was unfortunately not suitable for public display due to indecent exposure of underwear.

I am attempting to sew myself a pair of well-fitting jeans. I’ve wanted to do so for years because I am never completely happy with the fit of RTW jeans, yet jeans are what I wear most days. In summer I am a jeans and t-shirt girl, the rest of the year I’m a jeans, t-shirt and cardigan girl. With my RTW fast the need to finally make these self-made jeans happen is getting more urgent. Sewbusylizzy organised a Jeans in June and July challenge and this was the final push I needed to get started. Not sure whether I’ll actually manage to finish an actual pair in July since August is already looming on the horizon and I have to work all remaining July days except for today but if I finish the muslin process in July I’m happy (and if not, I’m probably still happy).

I already had a pair of jeans stashed away that I had started copying using the method from Kenneth D. Kings Craftsy class. I started that project ages ago but got distracted and was also a bit scared to continue because my first ever attempt at trousers years ago failed horribly and caused a bit of a trauma.

Tracing pattern onto silk organza

copying jeans

The original jeans were copied by thread tracing the seams and straight of grain lines and then transferring these markings to silk organza. If you want to get a better idea of how this method works have a look at this post by Cindy from cationdesigns, she posted about this process in more detail earlier this week. The pattern was then transferred from silk organza onto Swedish tracing paper (my favourite type of tracing paper ever). The pattern was trued (which means making sure that all seams have the correct shape and that seams that are supposed to match up, do in fact match up) and I made a muslin. I made my muslin using regular muslin fabric without stretch, because this is what Angela Wolff recommends even if your fashion fabric contains lycra. I’m really hoping this will work out ok when I do sew my final pair in denim that contains some lycra and is, therefore, somewhat stretchy…

Anyway, as you may have guessed after reading the first paragraph of this post, they did not fit. In fact, they were super tight and couldn’t close (to be honest the original jeans are also a bit on the tight side). I made 3 changes to the pattern. 1. An adjustment for full inner thighs. 2. More room at center back. 3. More room at side seam of back. I probably could have tried to change more but worried that it would get so messy that transferring my changes to the pattern would become a nightmare.

After making these changes to the pattern I made muslin 2 from the same muslin fabric hoping I would now have something approaching wearable. Note that this muslin does not yet have a waistband. I’ve used waxed tracing paper to indicate the straight of grain lines. I’ve also added some horizontal lines that help to diagnose fit issues. These are definitely not the most flattering pictures I have ever posted of myself but I think I am now at a point that it seems likely I can get to a fitting pair at some point. Remember, it’s always the garment that is causing the horrible fit, your body is just fine! After all, I can change the garment to adjust for my shape but I can hardly adjust my shape to fit the garment. Well, I suppose I could get a surgeon to shave some flesh of my thighs but that doesn’t really seem like a workable approach to use for each new garment I want to make…

Muslin front

Do you notice how the fabric is pulled into the crotch causing distortions?

Muslin back

Again fabric is pulled into the crotch. It’s also pulled towards the sides. I will also need to change the placement of the back pockets at the end of the process to make sure they end up more centered.

muslin sides

Eventually the side seam should end up perpendicular to the floor. Right now there is too much strain because fabric is being pulled to areas where there isn’t enough fabric causing a wave-like shape

Obviously they are still too tight but at least I can close them now. I believe most of the issues are caused by a too short crotch length that is causing the fabric to be pulled into the crotch both at the front and back. I think I will also need to add some more room in the thigh area as they are still very tight. My previous adjustments at center back now causes some gaping at the yoke (something I nearly always get in RTW jeans) so I’ll fix that too.

Do you have any other suggestions for adjustments that I could make to get a better fit?

Completed: Comox Trunks

I’ve made a piece of underwear! They’re Thread Theory’s Comox Trunks and I made them for my brother.

Thread Theory Comox Trunks

Clearly, the best part of these trunks is the elastic! I don’t have a lot of elastic in my stash and what I had didn’t feel nice enough to sit next to your skin all day long. I wasn’t very optimistic about finding anything really nice and then stumbled upon this elastic in a stall at a local weekly market. It feels very soft and it has stars on it! They also carried several different colours. Just brilliant.

These trunks were easy to make but I didn’t follow all of the construction steps. The attachment of the binding pieces to the fly seemed a bit fiddly so I simply folded the binding strips in half and used my overlocker to attach them to the front pieces. This does leave an exposed seam inside the fly but since I suspect most men don’t even use the fly I don’t think this will be a problem.

Thread Theory Comox TrunksI sewed the inside front pieces wrong sides together. As a result the seam allowance ended up inside the fly and not on the inside of the trunks, so there is one exposed seam less that might cause irritation. With hindsight I should also have done this with the binding piece for this front piece because that seam did end up on the inside of the trunks and could easily have been hidden as well.

To further reduce the number of exposed seams I used a different method for the attachment of the gusset. I now wish I had taken pictures as I worked but I promise I’ll do so if I make them again. Basically, you skip the part where the gusset pieces are basted wrong sides together and instead work with two separate pieces. Layer the two pieces right sides together with the front (or back, doesn’t matter which side you start with) sandwiched in between. Sew this seam. Then, leaving the gusset pieces right sides together stuff the entire trunks inside the gusset pieces (fabric is allowed to spill out through the sides of the gusset) until you can layer the gusset pieces right sides together with the back sandwiched in between. Make sure nothing else is caught in between and sew this seam. Now, you can pull the trunks right side out through one of the gusset’s sides, et voila, you have hidden both seams on the inside! It feels a little bit like magic. If you have constructed yokes on classic tailored shirts you might have used this technique before.

Gusset with hidden seams

Seams of the gusset are hidden in between the two gusset layers.

I used my coverstitch machine (4 threads) to attach the elastic. This worked well, but next time I should pay more attention as I am sewing because I didn’t catch the trunks in all places on the first go and had to do some fixing.

The one thing I didn’t like is how the pattern pieces are printed from the PDF. With a PDF pattern you have to do some assembling after printing and my printer tends to scale when it shouldn’t which can make it difficult to line things up. I, therefore, have a very strong preference for the layout of the pieces to be optimized so that a pattern piece is scattered across the least number of pages possible. In this pattern (PDF for size 24-36), piece 3 could have fit on 1 page instead of 2. Piece 4 could have fit on 2 pages instead of 4 and piece 5 could have fit on 1 page instead of 2. Yes, this does result in the printing of more pages, but it does also result in less taping and less fudging when things don’t line up. On some pieces text runs across the markings that you need to line up the pages which I think is a bit sloppy and could easily have been avoided.

This pattern piece sums up what I didn't like: Printed across too many pages, text is placed across the diamond that you need for matching up. The mark that indicates you need to cut this piece on the fold is place right on top of the line that you need to cut for matching up the pages which I found a little confusing.

This pattern piece sums up what I didn’t like about the PDF. It is printed across more pages than necessary. Text is placed across the diamond that you need for matching up. The marking that indicates you need to cut this piece on the fold is located right on top of the line that you need to cut for matching up the pages which I found a little confusing. I also had some matching issues, but I fully blame my printer for that problem.

To conclude, I think this is a well drafted pattern that is very quick to make. I did all of the sewing in just one evening. I can’t really say too much about the written instructions that come with the pattern because I barely looked at them. I did read the sewalong blog posts and those were definitely helpful, even if I decided to ignore some of it. The size range of the pattern seems quite large with 24-45. I made size 30 and my brother is positively skinny so I suspect this pattern might also work for teenage sons (if willing to wear mom-made underwear, that is). The pricing of the pattern is also very reasonable as the PDF version is only CAD 7.50.

Thread Theory Comox Trunks

If you are wondering why I used grey thread in my overlocker the answer is laziness. My coverstitch machine was already threaded with the dark blue thread and I didn’t feel like unthreading it…

Have you ever made underwear? I found these trunks very easy to make and am now thinking that making underwear for myself might not be as difficult as I used to think. Except for bras of course, those are on a completely different level of sewing and fitting.

Tutorial: How to construct a zipper pocket

Ali asked if I could do a tutorial on how I constructed the zipper pocket in the lining of my It’s all about the zippers bag and here it is!

I incorporate this type of pocket in nearly every bag I make nowadays. It can be used on the outside and in the lining. It is constructed by first creating a window in the fabric behind which the zipper is placed.

You might think that this pocket is only suitable for bag making but you are wrong there! I’ve seen this type of pocket a lot on RTW trousers lately, for example, this pair from Michael Kors has 6 of these pockets! When these pockets are used in RTW trousers they’re usually not very functional because the pocket lining is very small, it is added more as a design feature.

examples of zipper pockets in RTW coatsIt is also often used in coats and jackets.  Just take a look at the coats in your household and I’m pretty sure you’ll find a pocket or two that was constructed using this technique. I’ve taken pictures of some that I found in our coats. Sometimes they have an additional flap that covers the zipper. I think this is a nice detail so as a bonus I am also going to show you how to add two types of flaps to your pocket.

Materials:

zipperpocket_materials

  1. Fabric to add the zipper pocket to
  2. Fabric for the lining of the pocket
  3. Fusible interfacing
  4. Zipper
  5. Double sided tape (I use Prym wonder tape)
  6. Pins
  7. Handbasting thread
  8. Sewing machine thread
  9. Regular zipper foot (I accidently put my invisible zipper foot in the picture)
  10. Scissors
  11. Fabric marker
  12. Ruler

This type of pocket has to be added to the pattern piece before construction of the bag or garment. So if you decide to add one to the lining of a bag you first make this pocket in the lining piece before you start assembly of the lining.

I am using contrasting fabrics and thread in this tutorial for the purpose of clarity but I do recommend that you use matching thread and fabrics.

Standard zipper pocket

Dashed line indicates pocket lining.

Dashed line indicates pocket lining.

Step 1: Determine the size of your pocket. This has several aspects. The length of the zipper window and the dimensions of the pocket lining.

For a bag I prefer the pocket lining to extend at least 5 cm (2’’) from both sides and the top of the zipper window (this already includes seam allowances). This ensures easy access into the pocket but if you don’t have enough room to add this amount it will usually still work if you add less. I also make sure that the lining of the pocket is smaller than the outer fabric so that it doesn’t get caught in any seam allowances when the bag is assembled (for coat linings one of the sides is usually attached to the front facing though). I let the depth of the pocket depend on what I want to use the pocket for but I don’t want the bottom of the pocket to reach the bottom of the bag.

I made a small sample for this tutorial and decided on a 9 cm (±3 1/2”)  long window. The lining pieces for this sample were 19 cm (length) x 15 cm (height) (± 7 1/2” x 6”).

Step 2: You will need 2 pieces of lining fabric. Cut both the size you decided on in the previous step. I recommend that one matches either the zipper or outer fabric colour because a small sliver of it will be visible from the outside. The other piece can be a fun print or contrasting colour. If you want to use the same fabric for both pocket lining pieces you can also cut one piece that is twice as long and fold it back up on itself to create the pocket lining.

When I add this type of pocket in a bag lining I will usually also use the lining fabric for one of the pocket lining pieces. When added to the outside of the bag (sturdier fabric) I try to find a piece of e.g. quilting cotton that is a close match in colour because it can become a bit bulky otherwise.

Step 3

Step 3

Step 3: Add some fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the pattern piece you want to add the zipper pocket to. It should be placed so that the zipper window will end up more or less in the centre of the interfacing. This will add a bit of extra stability, a lightweight interfacing will do fine; you don’t want to add a lot of extra bulk. I cut my piece 15 x 4 cm (6” x ±1 1/2”) When I add this pocket to a bag exterior I’ve usually already interfaced the whole piece, in that case I don’t add any extra interfacing.

Step 4: Pin one of the lining pieces (the one that matches the outer fabric) right sides together to the main fabric. The fabric should be placed exactly how you want it to end up on the back.

Step 5: Draw the desired window opening on the lining piece using the ruler and fabric marker. For most zippers a 1 cm (3/8’’) wide opening works well. I drew my box 9 x 1 cm (±3 1/2” x 3/8”). Draw another line in the box that is in between the two long lines and makes a V-shape to the two corners starting ± 1 cm (3/8’’) from the side.

Step 6: Stitch around the box that you just drew, backstitch to secure. If your machine has a needle down function it can be useful for this step because you have to pivot in the corners.

zipper pocket window

Step 4, 5 & 6

Step 7: Use scissors or a seam ripper to make a small hole on the line inside the box. Cut the box open on this line and cut into the corners in the V-shape. Cut as close to the stitching as possible but be careful not to cut the stitches.

Zipper pocket construction

Step 7

Step 8: Fold the lining fabric through the hole you just cut and use your iron to press the lining neatly to the back. You want to see as little of the lining fabric on the front of the window as possible but it is a bit inevitable that some of it will remain visible.

Step 8

Step 8

Step 9: Sew the zipper ends together at the zipper pull side. You don’t have to pull the zipper tapes very close together because that can distort the shape of the zipper a bit. I find that doing this step makes it easier later on to sew the zipper in place.

If your zipper is a lot longer than you really need for the pocket it is usually a good idea to shorten it. You do this by first creating a new zipper stop by sewing over the zipper teeth as shown in the picture and then cutting off the excess. You really want to do it in this order because if you first cut and then decide to test the zipper before you have sewn the new zipper stop you will end up with two separate pieces that you have no way to put back together into a functional zip. I don’t think you need to ask me how I know…

Step 9

Step 9

Step 10: Position the zipper behind the window. There are at least 3 different methods to do this 1. Pin the zipper in place. 2. First pin in place, hand baste in place and then remove pins. 3. Use double sided tape to stick the zipper to the fabric. The last method is my favourite because it is fast and ensures that the zipper stays nicely in place when sewing. Pinning is my least favourite method because the pins can get in the way when sewing and the zipper can more easily shift during sewing when you remove the pins.

zipper pocket

Step 10

Step 11: Use your regular zipper foot to topstitch around the zipper window to sew the zipper in place. Unless you are really confident that your topstitching is absolutely spot on I recommend to use a matching thread. If you have a needle down option on your machine it is really helpful to use it for this step because you have to pivot in the corners. When the zipper pull gets in the way carefully unzip the zipper with the needle in the fabric.

zipper pocket

Step 11

Step 12: Pin the other piece of lining fabric to the piece that is already sewn to the window. I like to use a contrasting colour or a print for this piece because it gives a nice surprise when the pocket is opened.

Step 13: Sew around the two lining pieces with a 1 cm (3/8’’) seam allowance. Make sure not to catch any of the outer fabric into your stitching. For an extra sturdy pocket you can finish the edges of the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch or use an overlock stitch.

Step 12 & 13

Step 12 & 13

You are done and have successfully made a zipper pocket! Continue assembly of the bag or garment.

zipper pocket9

Zipper pocket flap variations

Now I will show you 2 variations on the zipper pocket. In the first variation a flap is incorporated that covers the whole zipper so that you can’t see the zipper from the outside until you lift up the flap. In the second variation two smaller flaps are sewn right next to the zipper teeth. These cover the zipper tape and can add a nice touch of colour to your pocket.

For both variations you will first follow steps 1-9 of the standard zipper pocket tutorial to create the window and prepare the zipper.

Single flap that covers the zipper

Step a: Cut a piece of fabric for the flap. My window was 10 cm (4”) long and I cut the piece 12 cm (±4 3/4”) long and 5 cm (2”) wide.

Step b: Fold the piece of fabric in half lengthwise and press.

Step c: Use a zigzag or overlock stitch to finish the 3 raw edges.

Step a, b & c

Step a, b & c

Step d: Position the flap behind the zipper window. The fold should touch the lower edge of the window. I first pin and then hand baste. It is important that the handbasting stitches don’t get too close to the edge of the window because you don’t want to topstitch over them.

Step d. Note that I made a sample for this tutorial and used a scrap for the pocket lining piece. For a real pocket I would have used a larger piece of lining fabric.

Step e: Position the zipper behind the flap. The zipper teeth should end up in the centre of the zipper window. I again prefer to use double side tape but you could also pin or hand baste.

zipper pocket12

Step e

Continue with step 11 of the standard zipper pocket tutorial to complete the pocket.

Flap that covers zipper opening

Completed zipper pocket with flap.

Zipper pocket with two flaps that cover the zipper tape

Step I: Cut two pieces of fabric for the flaps. For my 10 cm (4”)  long zipper window I cut them 13 cm (5 1/8”) x 2 cm (3/4”). I chose a width that was 2x the width of the zipper tape.

Step II: Fold the pieces in half lenghtwise and press. You could finish the raw edges with a narrow zigzag or overlock stitch (you don’t want these stitches to be visible in the window) but it is not really necessary.

zipper pocket with flaps

Step I & II

Step III: Place the folds of the flaps right next to the zipper teeth and pin in place.

Step IV: Sew the flaps to the zipper tape, stay quite close to the edge of the zipper tape because you don’t want these stitches to show up in the window.

Zipper pocket

Step III & IV

Step V: Position the zipper behind the zipper pocket. I used double sided tape but you could also pin or handbaste. You want the zipper teeth to end up in the centre of the window.

zipper pocket

Step V

Continue with step 11 of the standard zipper pocket tutorial to complete the pocket.

zipper pocket

Completed zipper pocket with 2 flaps.

Do you think you will give this type of pocket a try in one of your next projects? Which of the 3 variations that I showed is your favourite?

Completed: Self-drafted A-line skirt with button front placket

A-line skirt close upAfter my first self-drafted A-line skirt was such a success I simply had to make another one. I used the same basic pattern and adapted it so that it features a waistband, button front placket and inset pockets. It results in a very different look. I am really enjoying this pattern drafting business and am already dreaming about yet another version that may or may not include a lined vent.

This skirt was inspired by the Colette Beignet and Megan Nielsen’s Kelly skirt. Instead of spending money on a pattern and a lot of time getting it to fit right it seemed much easier and faster to draft my own and it was.

skirt buttonsI used a denim fabric with some stretch that I can only describe as looking splotched with bleach. The pattern placement looked rather random so I did not attempt any pattern matching and I think it turned out fine (May and Patrick might disagree though). The buttons are from my stash and I think they are a perfect match for this fabric. The waistband closes with a hook. I sometimes struggle to get my buttonhole foot to behave on parts that are a bit more bulky and I didn’t feel like doing that yesterday.

skirt pocketI made the pockets a bit deeper on this skirt than on my previous version and I think this is an improvement. The opening of the pockets is finished with my coverstitch machine as was the hem. I just love those neat rows of double stitching.

For the finish of the waistband facing on the inside I tried something new. In some of my RTW jeans the bottom edge of the waistband facing is  finished with bias tape and I really like that detail. It is a neat finish and because the seam allowance isn’t folded to the inside of the waistband to hide it, it is far less bulky than what I used to do. It made topstitching the waistband a breeze. It also adds a fun touch of colour that only the wearer of the garment will see.

waistband biastape finishI am probably not the only one that loves to have a look inside other people’s garments:

Self-drafted A-line skirtFor those of you that would like to add a button front placket to an existing skirt pattern I’ve made a schematic that shows how I changed my pattern. The important things when drafting are how wide you want the waistband to be and how much overlap you want between the front skirt pieces. For a 4 cm overlap you first measure 2 cm (so half the measurement of the final overlap) from the center front and then add another 4 cm for the facing. I interfaced the facing before folding it to the inside. Don’t forget to add seam allowances to the top of the skirt and the bottom and center front of the waistband after cutting the pattern in two when you are working with a pattern that has the seam allowance already included in each pattern piece.

How to add button front placket to A-line skirt pattern

Giveaway winner

Then finally, we also have a winner for the Sunnyside quiltfabric giveaway! My boyfriend was so kind to draw a winner on Wednesday night and I took some photographic evidence:

Sunnyside_giveawaywinnerI’ve already contacted Selma and I hope she will enjoy making her first quilt!

self-drafted A-line skirt