Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Sew-along Part X: Pockets!

Dear sew-along followers! I apologize again for the belated post. Due to some complications with accommodation, during the last two weeks I lived lived in three different places and, as you can imagine, sewing was not easy in such conditions.

Now, the very last post of our sew-along about the pockets:

If you decided to make pockets, it's always a good idea to cut a paper pattern and play around with their placements on your jacket. Once you've decided on placement, number of pockets and their size, you can start sewing them from fabric.

When it comes to the pockets' construction, you can use either your sewing machine or stitch them by hand.

Sewing by machine is a very straightforward process: sew the fashion fabric and lining right sides together, leaving an opening at the bottom or side edge. Then, turn the pocket right side out and hand- stitch the opening.

To stitch your pockets by hand, turn the seam allowances of the fashion fabric and lining to the wrong side, press them and join them using fell stitches. Do not forget to reinforce the upper corners, especially if you are going to use the pockets and not have them only for decorative purposes.

You will end up with something like this. I used a scrap of my fashion fabric and a piece of muslin as lining to make it visually more appealing.

Right side
Wrong side
Fell stitches
The next step is to add the trim and buttons.

If your button is too heavy and distorts the look of the pocket, you can sew it through the jacket provided your pockets are purely decorative.

 If you are going to use the pockets, add a snap placing it inside each pocket.

Now you are ready!

Source: style.com

Source: TMagazine
Please don't be shy to show off your jackets either giving your blog's link in the comment or posting them on our Flickr group!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Sew-along Part IX: Jacket adornments

First off, apologies for the delayed post which I meant to do on Monday. Life has been very stressful since I moved to London (and especially during last few days) and I am wondering whether it was a good decision to move here.

But this is not about my personal circumstances, but about the final touches that we are applying to our Little Black Jacket.

After Leisa's detailed post about the finishing touches to the jacket, I have nothing to add but to show off my jacket to you!

Like Leisa, I prefer to buy my trims once the jacket is ready. So you can bring it to the shop and play around with different trims. I bought my trim during my last days in Tokyo in my favorite shop , Cotton Field in Kichijoji, with Angela from Sake Puppets.

I had one type of trim in mind, but when we came there it was sold out. Since the jacket is black and I do not wear much black, I decided to add some sparkles to it. In my opinion, this trim adds a bit of  a festive mood to the strict look of the LBJ.

I bought the chain in Kleins, in Soho. They have a nice selection of chains of various colours and weight. Since I stitched the lining very close to the edge of the hem, the chain is attached at the very bottom of the jacket, giving it a nice shape. I used 1metre of chain and sewed every link with double polyester thread.

But the most interesting part of the jacket for me is still the lining: warm and colourful, it cheers me up!

I also decided not to add hooks; I will always keep my jacket unbuttoned. Also, I've omitted to sew the trim to the bottom edge of the jacket in order to avoid it being too bling-bling. I might add pockets when my boxes arrive from Japan :) But in any case, next Monday I'll show how to attach pockets. So stay tuned!

In addition, I must praise once again the wonderful wool from Linton Tweeds! You have no idea how soft and thin, but at the same time warm my jacket is!

I hope you enjoyed the sew-along with Leisa and I . I have to say a big thank you to Leisa who has been providing us with invaluable information throughout! She helped me so much while I was moving from Japan. Please show off your jackets either on our Flickr group or add links to your blogs! Until next time…!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Fuschia pink Andy cocoon coat

It's cold in London and these days I think only about warm things: hot tea, mulled wine, a warm coat...

This coat is based on one of the Named patterns', Andy coat, which I won in Starcross Sewing blog's giveaway in September. I won't hide from you that as much as I like Named patterns' designs, I don't like to work with their patterns. All of the pattern pieces are overlaid and you have to trace them on separate pattern paper. It's probably not a big deal when you work with simple garments like skirts, because they have very few pattern pieces. But when I taped and looked at the Andy coat, I felt sea-sick.

I also decided to modify the pattern a little bit and to create a cocoon shape because this is the trend of this season. Besides, the word "cocoon" sound very funny to my foreign ears :)

Another modification to the pattern was the creation of the back darts to accommodate my rounded shoulders.

The fabric came all the way from Australia. I bought three metres of this cashmere wool, called Rosewater coating, from Tessuti Fabrics but used only 2.5 metres for the coat. For the lining, I used a piece of polyester bought from JoAnn's last year. Do I have to tell you how happy I was to use fabric from my stash?

An interesting point about this coat is that I used five different types of interfacing: horse hair canvas for the inner front panels, fusible interfacing for the outer front and back, and three types of tape interfacing for the armscyes, neck and shoulder seams. At the same time as learning how to sew coats, I leant why we use so many different types of interfacing :)

Brand new me-made scarf
Last but not least, a story about buttonholes. I had finished the coat before my move to London. My old sewing machine was not known to make the best buttonholes in the world, and I did not want to compromise the look of the coat with average-looking buttonholes. Although I bought a new sewing machine in London, I still was not sure whether I should make buttonholes by myself and for the first two weeks here I wore the coat without buttons, holding it closed with one hand. I felt grumpy to make bound or hand-sewn buttonholes and so in then end I outsourced the work to DM Buttonholes, located in the heart of London near Oxford Circus.

All seven buttonholes look great and very neat. I would definitely recommend them if you would like to get a clean, professional look for your outerwear!

Overall, my first experience with sewing a coat was so rewarding: I ended up with the brightest coat in London. Believe it or not, most people here wear black, grey or brown and my coat clearly stands out in the crowd. So when I meet with friends, they don't miss me ;-)

Needless to say that I enjoyed working with wool: this fabric is the most stable and nicest to work with.  Now I'd love to sew more outerwear!

What about your experience of sewing outerwear? Have you tried it? Do you like it?

Monday, 18 November 2013

Sew-along Part VII: The fell stitches

I hope you all sаw Leisa's last post of the sew-along where she explainеd how to trim the fashion fabric and lining and how to pin the two layers of lining together prior to hand-stitching. In addition, she made two great videos.

Fell stitching is used to join two layers of fabric from the right side. Besides attaching two pieces of fabric together, it is often used for appliquée. Being a very strong and secure stitch, the fell stitch is also almost invisible. If you practice it for a while, fell-stitching will become your best friend. If you don't believe me, ask Melanie!

I was supposed to made a video as well, which I did, but the result was pretty blurry. Nevertheless, I decided to post it especially if you are, like Leisa and I. more of a visual learner.

The video is not of a super quality and some parts of it are blurry. In case you did not understand how to fell-stitch, here are the steps.

1. Position your work with the piece of fabric on top closer to you.

2. Start by inserting the needle between the layers and run it so that it emerges on the fold of the top layer.

3. Then insert the needle into the bottom layer of the fabric, as close as possible to where it came out on the top layer.

4. Repeat the steps.

The length of the stitches should not be very long. I did not measure them but it's something like 10-15mm. It's also suggested that your fell stitches are shorter at the neckline and cuffs.

If you still have question about fell stitching, please do let me or Leisa know!

Happy stitching!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Sew-along Part VI: trimming, seams and lining

Have you seen Leisa's latest post yet? She added two amazing videos where you can see how to trim both fabric and lining and how to properly pin the lining.

Source: AChallengingSew.typepad.com

I'll come back to you next week with a post about fell stitching.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Sew-along Part V: Fitting, Goodbye and See You Soon

The jacket is now basted in place and starts to take shape, though it still looks like a mess. The real exercise of this fitting is to try to see all the possible faults and inconsistencies and fix them before we start closing the seams with hand stitches. And believe me, unpicking hand-sewn seams breaks one's heart!

For the fitting, pin or baste one sleeve to the jacket and put it on. When you have your jacket on, it's important to move around a bit: bend your arms, turn right and left, try it with the jacket open or closed.

Remember, do not press your basted seams! By pressing them with an iron you settle stitches to the fabric, which we want to avoid at this stage. It is enough to just use the warmth of your hands to press them slightly open.

Luckily for me, the time spent on the muslin paid off: my jacket did not require any alterations. But I would like to redirect you to Leisa's blog where she highlights the fitting issues with her daughter's jacket. It's so well documented! Check it out!

Today I am busy packing because at midnight I catch a plane to London! British weather, please be good to me...

After spending three and a half years in Japan, I will tremendously miss Tokyo and everything it has to offer. But I will equally miss my APAC blogging friends. It was a great pleasure meeting you and becoming your friend! But, hey, I'll see you very soon!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

And the winner is ...

... Joanna Kostrzewa! Please let me know your postal address at thewallinna @ gmail and I'll send you the book!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

A few announcements and a giveaway

1. Leisa has a few things to say about quilting! Please check her blog for more additional information related to our LFJ sew-along!

2. I've decided to submit my Art Deco Maxi dress by Ralph Pink to Project Sewn. If you like the dress, can you please vote for it?

3. Next Monday, my Etsy shop will be closed indefinitely. Since I sourced the notions from the Japanese producers in Japan, I maintain low prices. But after I move to Europe, I am afraid, I'd have to raise them taking into account shipping from Japan and VAT (I would buy in large quantities). So at this stage, I decided to close the shop down. But if you have any thoughts or if you think that you would buy these products for a higher price, don't hesitate to share with me and I might reconsider my decision.

Meanwhile, I've got some remaining stock of Chakoner, some very fine tracing chalks! Besides white Chakoner, there are a couple of red and blue markers.

I also have some red, blue and green cotton basting thread! If you are participating in our sew-along, it might become very useful!

4. I am giving away the Colette sewing handbook. It's been sitting on my bookshelf forever. Two patterns have been used - the Pastille dress the Macaron skirt - but none of the sewing attempts was successful. It's just not a style which I would wear so I am more than happy to give this book away. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment and like my FB page.

The giveaway will close and the winner announced next Wednesday, October 30th!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Sew-along Part III: Quilting

Last week Leisa left us with lots of information about cutting the fabric and lining, and a very important rule: Never Forget about the Grain! Today I will show you how to quilt the lining to the fashion fabric but also how to avoid some of the stupid mistakes which I've made.

But before I officially begin, I apologize for my conversion into Imperial units. Let's face it - my inches suck...

They say that a wise man learns from the mistakes of other, a stupid man learns from his own. So I am this stupid man. Do you remember that I chose to work with the "boxy" jacket to which I later introduced a princess seam and darts at the back? A few people asked me why I did not pick a pattern with a princess seam already integrated into the design. Well, my pattern was chosen on a whim and now I have to pay for the silly mistakes: I have to quilt through the darts but also decide what techniques to use to make them less visible from the outside.

First, let talk about the bulkiness. The wool I am working with is a medium-weight fabric. But the double layer created by a dart, increases its volume and therefore it becomes visible. There are two solutions which I know: cut a dart open or create a balanced dart. Or, alternatively, do nothing at all. In my case, the jacket has two pairs of darts: small shoulder darts and bust darts. After considering all pros and cons, I reached the following decision:

* to cut the back darts open because there are rather short and thin and the bulk on my rounded shoulders would be visible; besides, the fabric on my back sits closer to my body which also makes the darts visible;

*to leave the bust darts as they are because I will keep the jacket opened all the time and they won't be noticeable

From the photos you can see that I cut the dart open leaving approximately 7mm. Then I used a blanket stitch along the raw edges to prevent fabric from fraying. After pressing the darts open, I was done with my back darts!

After reading Leisa's blog post, you should have cut your fashion fabric, thread trace each pattern piece and overlaid it with the lining.

To quilt, you will need: a walking foot, a piece of chalk, a ruler, a few spools of matching thread, a nice movie and lots of patience!

Before you start quilting, it's better to make tests on scraps of fabric in order to get the right tension but also to choose the appropriate colours to match both the fabric and lining. For instance, for my yellow jacket I used two different colours: yellow to match the fashion fabric, and green to match the lining. That may also be the case for your jacket, or not. And do not forget to try different tensions before you start quilting the jacket!

Why do we need to quilt? We do it for a couple of reasons:

*  to reinforce loosely woven tweed and give the jacket more durability

* to keep the lining in place and give a better shape to the jacket

Unfold you pattern pieces and, if you have not done so already, remove the muslin pieces and re-pin the fashion fabric to the lining. Now you need to decide on the placement of your quilting and mark it.

If you fabric's fibers are very loose, it's always better to go for closer quilting lines, but for tighter fabric you should allow more space. Also pay attention to the pattern on your fabric. You can use the lines on the fabric as guides for the quilting lines. In my case, I decided to follow the shape of the chevrons on the fashion fabric.

Test swatches
I learnt from Susan that the quilting should begin and end approximately one inch/2.5cm from the edges of each garment section.  At the bottom edge of the jacket and the sleeves, though, stop the quilting approximately 2” inches/5cm from the edge. 

My quilting lines stop 2.5cm/1" inch from the side edges, 3cm/1.1" inches from the top and 5cm/2" inches from the hem and the bottom part of the sleeves. After marking each piece with chalk to define the quilting borders, this is how each piece looks like:

It's now time to decide on the spacing between quilting lines. Depending on the weave, your quilting lines can be spaced between 2.5cm - 3cm/1" inch - 1.1" inches. For my previous jacket I alternated the quilting lines 2cm and 3cm/ 0.7" inch - 1.1" inches. You can see this clearly from the pictures here.

You can decide to make these borders further away from the edges but under no circumstances nearer. Sometimes during fitting, you might need to change the length of the stitching lines. Imagine that you need to remove 1cm/ 0.3" inch. In this case, hang-sewing the lining may be quite difficult because you have so little fabric to work with, and so you may find that you're better off unpick a few centimetres of quilting.

On my fabric, I measured the distance between the tops of the chevrons, which made 3.5cm/ 1.3" inches. Without being too tightly woven nor very loose, I came to the conclution that quilting through each chevron line was perfect!

Please remember that there is no definite rule on how to quilt! Some common sense and the pattern of your fabric will guide you to find the best solution!

Using a wide stitching line ( I would suggest 3mm) with the fashion fabric facing up, start quilting!

Do not panic and be surprised that some of your lines will be very short! If you work with a two or a three piece sleeve you might end up with only one line as well! For example, it did not make any sense for me to follow the chevron lines on the under-sleeve of my jacket because this piece is very small. So I quilted only one line.

As you quilt, you should not backtack! Once you've finished quilting all of your jacket pieces, put on your favourite movie or TV show or whatever makes you happy: it's time to tie the knots! Using a needle or pin pull, up each pair of threads between the fashion fabric and the lining and knot them, leaving a 1-1.5cm/ 0.3" - 0.6" inch trail.

 I use a triple knot but others might prefer only a double knot.

Alternatively, you can leave the tails without making knots at the hem and the bottom of the sleeves for when you'll hand-stitch the lining.

When you finish tying the knots, gently bring the lining towards the centre of each piece and pin it in preparation for the next step - basting the pieces together!

Don't forget to sign up for our Flickr group! We are already 48 members! You can also visit my Facebook page where I post additional photos and share sewing-related info.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

I've found my perfect pattern designer!

Let me introduce you to Ralph Pink! I am more than enamored with his patterns; I am dying to make all of them. His patterns are modern, edgy, technically challenging and just perfectly drafted and put together! In fact, he used to work in a couture house but a few years ago launched his own brand of clothes and patterns.

For some time, I thought that Named patterns would occupy a special place in my heart, but as much as I like their design I completely dislike working with their patterns. Such a shame, because the girls have great aesthetics !

About this Maxi Dress: I purchased the pattern six months ago but because of the hot weather, I was not inspired to make it. And then the first crisp autumn mornings combined with having to pack my fabric stash into boxes were the perfect succession of events: I dug out this beautiful panel silk jersey from Tessuti Fabrics and it screamed to be made into Ralph Pink's maxi dress.

The pattern is very beautifully drafted: bust darts and four back darts for the shaping, the maxi skirt with the slit in front and the intriguing cut out on the back. All these ingredients create a perfect style for a new me :-) I am about to start a new page in my life and I feel the urge for drastic changes! Why not a big revision of my personal style and wardrobe? Having got rid of 60% of my clothes before packing, I am determined to sew a brand new wardrobe to fit my evolution as a seamstress but also as a woman.

Ralph Pink offers only digital patterns and they come in multiple sizes. When purchasing a pattern, you can download a file containing a separate PDF for each size in both A4 and full formats. 

There is a separate document with instructions which without being overwhelming, contain just the right amount of information and pictures necessary to execute a project properly.

The instructions for the dress suggested to add a lining to create a seamless effect but I omitted it because the fabric would have been impossible to match. I just have to be careful to wear the proper undergarments. 

I had some troubles sewing this fabric, especially stitching the cutout and the neckline. Grrrrrrrr ...The latter has stretched a little bit even though I used the walking foot and tried to be very careful with not pull the fabric. Well, I hope to be better with the next Maxi Dress!

And, of course, you can see a tiny bit of my bra!

Needles to say, I am so looking forward to sewing more garments from Ralph Pink!

These three garments are in the queue: a cropped jacket, a bustier blouse and a cocoon jacket