Thursday, 29 March 2012

Simplicity 2186 finished skirt

Simplicity pattern 2186- finished

I have finished my first spring project, Simplicity 2186 skirt, spurred on by an unseasonably warm and sunny March. I commented in a previous post that I was planning on altering the pattern as I was inspired by skirts from Jason Wu’s spring 2012 collection, most specifically the dress pictured below. Hopefully you can see a resemblance, in the shape and print at least. As much as I would love to saunter around in layers of asymmetrical chiffon I thought I might get a bit more wear out of a more practical jersey version. 

Pattern: Simplicity 2186
Fabric: John Kaldor cotton jersey in a printed turquoise (£22/meter from John Lewis on Oxford Street, London)
Version: Longer version in the back- altered shorter version in the front
Notions: ¾ inch elastic

Making this pattern was a bit of a style u-turn for me as I tend to veer away from both prints and asymmetrical hems. I think making my own clothes and looking for inspiration has brought out a new daring side to me, even though this print is pretty mild by most standards , it is a start.

I made up a toile of the longer version in muslin. I took several inches off the front panel and cut down in a slope towards the side seams to meet the longer length of the back. When I was happy with the hemline I unpinned it and used the toile pieces to mark out the pattern on the final fabric.

My fabric of choice was a medium weight cotton jersey, chosen as the pattern was reminiscent of that that from Jason Wu’s collection and it has good drape. I did find it difficult to spend as much as I did, but when I was cutting out the pattern I began to realise just how soft and drapey the fabric is and began to soften a little realising how comfortable the skirt would be. It washed well prior to making, without any noticeable shrinkage or loss of colour and being jersey all pattern pieces were cut on-grain rather than the bias, so I only ended up using about 1.2m of fabric.

Altered toile

The pattern instructions were good, although I have one gripe in that the stay stitching on the yokes is on the seam line, which means you have to be very careful when sewing the final seams that the stay stitching doesn’t show on the outside. I used a stretch stitch and finished my seams with a simple zig zag. The last project I made I used French seams which are probably my favourite; however I simply forgot for the first few seams and decided to carry on as I had started. I finished the hem with a herringbone stitch by hand, this skirt has a lot of hem, but I think the finished result is definitely worth it as it is almost invisible from the outside and neat on the onside. I find machine hems can bunch up and if they aren't perfectly straight can be a tell-tell sign that your garment is home made.

The skirt has a simple elasticated waistband, not the prettiest, but suits me for comfort and you can always cover it with a belt if you are tucking your top in.  

Once complete I had a doubtful 5 minutes when I realised just how crazy the hemline is, but that quickly passed and now I am really pleased with the result. I think I achieved what I set out to; now I just need to make something to wear it with!

Top- Right side hem, Bottom- wrongside hem

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Sewing book shelf and pattern cutting

I have recently been thinking about trying to cut my own dress patterns. This has been the first season that I have been waiting for new patterns and although there are lots of lovely ones out there I usually have something in mind when I start looking and what is available isn't always quite right. I am interested in fashion and many of the high-street stores offer fashion-forward clothes and I don't want to miss out just because I would prefer to make it myself. However the thought of it is quite terrifying, the good thing about patterns is that they come with instructions! Has anyone tried cutting their own patterns?

I bought the book Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear by Winifred Aldrich, describe on amazon reviews as a great text that tells you all you need to know etc etc.. but when it arrived I quickly flipped through and there are lots of diagrams showing the different shaped pattern pieces you need to achieve different shaped garments, but there isn't a nice step by step 'this is how you do it', maybe I was too hopeful that it was going to be easy. I haven't really looked at the book again, but I will do once I have got a few summer projects under my belt. If anyone has some tips in the meantime they are more than welcome!I recently made a version of Simplicity 2250 with a straight skirt from another pattern  (see picture below) and I am planning to alter Simplicity 2186, so that is a start. 

I like buying sewing and knitting reference books and I do get make use of them, but I find many of them are quite expensive and I don't have as many as I would like. My Sharon Brant Knitting bible gets lots of use and I often refer back to Sew It Up by Ruth Singer, which is a great book, although I imagine there are better texts out there if you are interested mainly in dress making. The Fashion Designers Textile Directory by Gail Baugh describes fabric construction methods and gives detail of different fabric types and examples of how best to use them. I wouldn't say this is the most useful book but if you are interested in fabric it is a good text and has lots of fashion pictures and examples. I read it almost cover to cover when I got it and it is good for referring back to. 

Friday, 23 March 2012

Tips on working with leather and quilted leather; How to.

Hello All,

I was recently given an old leather jacket which I decide to use to make another handbag (see pictures above and below). I decided to try a Chanel-inspired leather quilting to add some texture. It took me a couple of practice sessions before I found a method that worked and I thought I would share it with you. Quilted clothing and accessories seem to be everywhere at the moment, mainly quilted coats, jackets and handbags, but also quilted accents on leather jackets (in London at least). Not sure if this trend is replicated anywhere else??

Working with leather is quite difficult and often frustrating. Leather is quite difficult to sew and is not forgiving if you make mistakes. Unlike fabrics the needle holes remain in the leather and if you have to unpick it not only will they still be there and potentially show on your finished garment, they can also weaken the leather and create a perforated line that can tear easily if stretched. 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Spring wardrobe planning and Simplicity 2186

I have been feeling like spring is very nearly here and I have been imagining myself in swishing around in new creations and sandals. One thing about sewing your own clothes is that you have to plan. I am inspired by Jason Wu's spring 2012 collection especially the large floral patterns and skirts with asymmetric hems.  I have been buying fabrics, mainly jerseys. 

Firstly I bought some John Kaldor turquoise printed cotton jersey from John Lewis in Oxford street, I am not sure who John Kaldor is but he must be important as the fabric was an eye-watering £22 a meter, but it is lovely and good quality, it is stretchy and I can tell it will hold its shape. I am going to use it to make Simplicity pattern 2186  and it should make a great slinky skirt- Post to follow. I plan to make the shorter version, I will be making a toile and possibly alter the pattern it to be shorter in the front and longer in the back. I realised you do not need to cut jersey on the bias as it isn't woven and therefore has a natural stretch in it, which will save me some fabric.

Left- yellow rayon linen jersey, middle John Kaldor cotton 
linen jersey, right  floral rayon linen jersey. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Six sided bean bags, How to make

Hello All,

There were lots of views of the previous post I did on making bean bags, and I commented that if I made another bean bag I would like to change the shape to be more rounded.  I have made two further bean bags using a new pattern I made myself and I wanted to share with you as I am much happier with the result. 

You can see that this bean bag is much rounder, which I achieved by having six sides and a hexagonal bottom, which creates a much neater and professional finish.  I wanted to bean bag to be approximately 1 meter in diameter, so I made the hexagonal bottom slightly smaller to allow the sides to curve outward a little.  I cut the pattern from old newspaper selo-taped together to produce pattern paper, as follows: