Well it’s months after the fact, but I have finally made another one of the items on my plan that I set a while back! Now while a month of that I was travelling, I really have been super lax on the whole ‘plan’ thing. Including my coat, that is now a grand total of two items off the list. So here’s to putting an end to that….
I wanted to blog these culottes a week ago, but being self-drafted they threw up a couple of challenges. I used my trusty Winifred Aldrich pattern making book to tell me how to draft culottes from my skirt block. Once I finished making a culotte block, I tried to be clever and blend the front darts into the pockets, however the execution wasn’t really up to it and the pockets don’t really sit 100% flat on the body. I managed to fiddle them as flat as possible after the fact, but there is a definite note on this pattern that the pocket needs to be sorted out before these get made again – yes I really do make up a little spec sheet with notes for future use on almost every pattern I make!
After i fixed that issue, I had to fix a second one…… the fabric. Oh online fabric shopping! I bought this gorgeous baby blue linen from Tessuti online and was delighted when I received it for being exactly the colour and the weight that I wanted. What you can’t see in a picture however is the density of the weave. This fabric has a nice loose weave, which makes them almost completely see-through!!!!
Ok, it is nothing like a chiffon or anything, but when the light passes through you better be wearing skin colour pants, that’s all I can say. Oh and it probably helps if your legs are the same colour as the pocket fabric too. Luckily I am in possession of a fabulous friend, with a habit of buying amazing fabric remnants from an op shop somewhere, who just happened to have a loose weave cotton in light blue in exactly the right amount to line this baby. I know, what are the chances of that?
Project saved! But also project took a little longer than it ought. That’s ok though because I managed to get my knitting mojo back in the process, so I hope to be showing you a little more variety in my finished objects from now on.
So, what will I sew next? Something on the list? Or maybe another pretty distraction? Only time will tell.
What’s a girl to do when she wants to sew in the New Year but has eaten ALL the mince pies over Christmas? I have to admit I was feeling a bit reluctant about getting back to sewing knowing that my tummy was a little bigger than my usual measurements. Feeling that it is easier to burn off a couple of Christmas kilos than refit all my patterns however, I’m going to go back to trusty Michelle Bridges 12wbt to get myself back on track with my fitness this year. Don’t fear that this blog is going to go all health and fitness freaky any time soon though, the only gym stories you’ll see here will be like the time I managed to send a fit ball bouncing on to a bunch of people doing crunches and stretches on the floor – true story!!
In the meantime however I thought an appropriate project would be finishing this T-shirt WIP that I started late last year.
I bought two 75 cm lots of this poly knit fabric at Cleggs (one in this chartreuse colour and another in teal) because I love the 3-dimensional texture and thought it would be perfect for the kimono tee pattern I made back when I started my blog. I added a few cm to the length of the pattern because the last one came out a little short and I’m really happy with it now! It’s a flattering shape and I feel really comfortable wearing it despite not feeling my best, definitely more of these to come, but in the meantime I must get back to my summer sewing plan….
I wasn’t sure how to model a swimsuit for the blog. I don’t think I’m confident enough to post pictures of myself in just a swimsuit on the internet just yet. Then, just as I thought I had come up with the answer to the problem however (some alcohol and a wax) Maureen the mannequin (her real name) stepped in to help – after all she’s a mannequin and has no shame. Apart from the fact that she’s about half a foot taller than I am, Maureen and I have very similar measurements. We are differently proportioned within those measurements, but for modelling stretch that isn’t terribly important.
These bathers were a big challenge for me. Firstly when you’re designing and drafting something yourself, you are in charge of figuring out how to put it together. I spent over a week just thinking about how I was going to do this and what the best order of events was. This is where being a former scientist came into its own! I was so used to using this process of visualisation when planning how to make something in the lab as a chemist that this process was just reapplying a skill set I already had.
The other challenge was my college doesn’t have many overlockers so sharing with my classmates meant compromising on thread and needles. This result was that some of the seams are a bit messy due to skipped stitches and the wrong colour thread. On the plus side, these machines feed fabric WAY better than my home machine does so I think this compromise was worth it. I plan to redo these again over the summer when the demand for the equipment at college is much less. I want to source the right needles and take much more care so I have a garment I’d feel comfortable wearing. I also think I will add more gathers to the front of the cups for extra fullness next time.
This is my favourite feature though. The coverstitch binding! Despite that fold in the fabric where I didn’t lay it out properly before photographing, this is close to perfect. You can just see a little bit of white thread poking through on the key hole, that’s it. This effect was tricky to set up but once it’s ready to go, the binding goes on with no bother at all.
I hope to show you some photos in a few months of my second – more careful – attempt at these bathers. Lets just hope for your sake I don’t have to resort to alcohol and wax to show you ;).
This baby is my entry for the By Hand London #Patternhackathon. The bodice is hacked from the Holly Jumpsuit and the skirt is just a self drafted straight skirt. It’s made from a massive floral print cotton sateen from Spotlight I bought ages ago.
I wasn’t sure if I could pull off a crop top as a year of waining gym mojo has left me a little curvier than last year and feeling a little more self-conscious. Then I saw this picture of the fabulous Mindy Kaling looking smokin’ hot in a crop top/skirt combo and I wanted in. I feel pretty good in this outfit, although I wouldn’t want to be chowing down on anything too heavy while wearing it, I don’t think it’s going to hide much in the way of a pasta lunch.
To hack the top I trimmed 2 cm off the length of the Holly bodice and drafted a hem facing. I also added a hidden button placket to the front for a cleaner look. The sateen is probably a little thick for this project, it almost has the weight of a very light summer jacket, but it isn’t wholly unsuitable. I’m going to get a lot of wear out of it I’m sure. I ran out of fabric for the skirt waistband because I was pattern matching the skirt back and bodice front, so I used some left over linen from my Wenona shirt dress. I really like the effect, so spontaneity win!
One lesson I MUST learn is not to force myself to sew when I’m not in the mood. It really isn’t worth it. I was forcing myself to finish the skirt before bed one night and I caught a few little puckers sewing on the waistband at the back. When I’m just not in the right mood I always just soldier on and try to force things to work, rather than taking a step back to fix my mistakes and sew things properly, so those puckers are still there in the finished object. They are only noticeable to someone looking a the quality of the finish, but they will annoy me every time I wear this, so why I didn’t fix it at the time I’ll never know. It’s a personality thing I guess.
On the positive side, that is really the only error on this make. The facings sit nicely, the patterns match, the kick pleat is even so I’m not going to dwell on it.
What have you guys been sewing up? Something for spring or something for autumn?
Wow, I meant to post here over the weekend, however after a really busy week I ended up feeling a little burnt out and didn’t really feel like it. What have I been up to that has kept me so busy? Well the pile of materials above is what I sat down to use for my upcoming capsule wardrobe planning post. I know a few people have been doing these recently around the blogosphere and I decided to do mine after all the ideas for things I want to make was buzzing around my head making me feel uneasy and frenetic.
I have also been working on my college assessment swimsuit which is due in a couple of weeks. This has me feeling a little tense. Not over the pattern too much, but over the order of events when constructing this thing. I want to add a little half lining to the front of the top that has elastic at the bottom to give a semi-bra-like support and I’m trying to figure out how that will work with the twist. I think I have it figured out already but I’ve been lying around in bed turning this thing over in my mind before I go to sleep at night. I want my Eureka moment before I start.
I’ve also been really busy preparing materials for my Gradient Spinning class that I taught last Saturday. I was so nervous (can you see a theme here?) about the participants getting their moneys worth that I was going overboard with my sample prep. Luckily for me, my partner talked me down the day before and the last 12 hours became actually quite relaxing instead of the stress fest it was shaping up to be.
Alterations!! I’ve got an alterations pile that is so big, it’s had children and it’s children’s children are now considering more kids. I’ve been thinking about declaring a week ‘Alterations Week’ where I just buckle down and get some of these things resized, repaired or re-lengthened. Anyone else got a pile they need moral support for? I don’t really do UFO’s but if I did, this pile would be it.
Last and by no means least, I’ve finally got the chance to start a little something for nothing other than pure pleasure……….
What’s been going on with you recently? Have you had much time for your crafts?
Whew! What a journey this make was! This biker jacket is my latest college assignment having been given the task of designing and drafting a jacket.
I can’t really say this was completely self-drafted as I had a fair bit of direction from my fabulous teacher, but the majority of the work from conception to creation was by my own fair hand.
I’ve wanted a biker jacket for so long that when this assignment came up I knew instantly what I would do. I love the versatility of the style and I hope that I can make this pattern out of leather one day.
As this jacket is self-drafted I would call this particular garment a first sample rather than a finished pattern as this is the first time I have constructed all the pattern pieces in fashion fabrics. The main fabric is a wool/cashmere coating and the lining a matching cotton blend faille, both of which I bought half price from the Tessuti remnant table. There was just enough for both and they go so well together that it really was just meant to happen!
There are a few compromises on this jacket that are the result of having to invent your own assembly instructions, but nothing that couldn’t be easily sorted on a second sample. I would also make the next sample slightly smaller as this size is perfect for a wool jacket, but I would like my leather one to be ever so slightly tighter.
There are plenty of ‘firsts’ in this jacket too: exposed zipper pockets, exposed zipper sleeve vents, shoulder pads! I am especially proud of the details despite some of the construction compromises.
I have also discovered my love for wool coating! This fabric is a dream to sew with. It is so thick you have to positively try to pucker it when easing one layer into another – the sleeves went in with none of the usual cursing. All in all I’m calling it a success!
We made it! This is the final draftalong post. Today we are going to add some pleats and create a pattern from our block. Above are the pattern pieces you should have from last time: centre front (CFP) and back (CBP) panels as well as front side (FSP) and back side (BSP) panel pattern pieces.
Planning your pleats
Next we want to decide on the size of our pleats. I used Winifred Aldrich’s recommendation of 24 cm total at the waist and 36 cm total at the hem as my pleat size. I almost came a cropper as there was only just enough space to fit the pleat in either side of the centre back zipper! So firstly I would recommend measuring the top of your panel pieces to see how much room you have to play with before committing to a pleat size. The diagram below should help you visualise where the pleats will fall on your finished pattern if we were to flatten out our skirt.
Drafting your pleats
Once you have planned the size of your pleats we can add them to the pattern pieces from the last post. Using a ruler extend the seam line on the centre back panel so that it continues straight up to the waist past the dart shaping. From this line extend out the waist by 1/4 of the total pleat size for the waist (lets call this a). Then extend out the hem by 1/4 of the hem pleat value (lets call this b) – as noted above the pleat can be larger at the hem than at the waist. On my pattern this was 6 cm at the waist and 9 cm at the hem. Don’t cut out at this stage as we need to true the waist and hem shaping first. Repeat for the back side panel (BSP) as shown below.
Next, on a separate piece of paper, draw a vertical line and mark the waist at the top and measure the skirt length down to find the hem, mark that too. At the waist square out 1/4 of your pleat at waist (a) either side of the line. Do the same at the hem with the measurement b from the step above. Connect these new points at waist to hem with a straight line, this is your pleat backing panel (PBP).
Now repeat the process for the front of the skirt, you obviously shouldn’t have any darts to worry about there so just draft straight out of the waist. Your pattern pieces should look like this:
Truing Your Pleats
Now you have all your pleats drafted we need to true the hem and waist edges before we can add seam and hem allowances. This is so that when we sew our skirt together we have an even hem and waist edge. To do this fold your paper along the pleat line and place on the table with the pleat at the bottom and the skirt panel on top. Using a tracing wheel (or if you don’t have one, you can just use a pin to make holes) carefully trace the hem edge where it overlaps with the pleat. Do the same to the waist edge and unfold the paper. When you connect the perforations this will be your new hem and waist line.
Next we need to true the pleat panel. It is essentially the same process, lay the newly shaped pleat over it’s corresponding pleat backing and trace off the new lines. Our front pattern pieces should now look like:
When truing the back pieces you need to trim the dart value off the pleat seam in order to prevent having to ease in the extra fabric of the dart into the pleat while you are sewing. When I made my skirt I tried sewing a small dart either side of the pleat, before sewing the pleat in-between the two darts and that was a big bulky mess, so I recommend just eliminating it from the pattern.
Drafting a Waistband
This is the last pattern piece to draft and my favourite because once you have a good straight waistband pattern you can rip it off for all your skirt patterns that sit on your natural waist. You may need to move some of the notches around if you want to move the opening to the side or the front instead of the back but it is otherwise the same pattern piece.
First measure the waistline of your skirt pattern pieces to double check they still measure the same as your block (don’t include pleat or dart value in the measurements). Once you are happy with the measurements draw a straight line the length of your waist measurement. Then add 4 cm for an underlapping tab so you can fasten the waistband with a button or hook and eye.
Decide on the width of your waistband. My waistbands are normally drafted 3 cm wide but any measurement between 2.5 and 6cm is fine. Double your waistband width (you’re going to fold the waistband in half) and square out this amount to give you a rectangle that is essentially twice waistband width x waist measurement plus 4 cm. Add notches to mark the fold line on the waistband and along both edges to mark the 4cm tab and the CF, CB and side seams.
Seam Allowances, Hem, Checks and Balances
Now you have your pattern! All the rest of the instructions for finishing off your pattern are in my previous post here. In my next post I’ll go over the construction process and then you’ll have everything you need to get going and draft your own. Bon voyage!
The distance between these draftalong posts are getting further and further apart as I have to learn more functionality in Adobe Illustrator. I have to admit the process is for the most part a joy, if only for the fact that I’m finding out just how much of what you can do relates to sewing patterns. There are some fab tutorials on YouTube (check out Melly Sews, Unsteadyllc and Kymy) that show you how you can use Illustrator to digitalise your sewing patterns, it’s so exciting for a complete nerd like me! I mean to take Melly Sews’ classes one day for sure.
So starting this part of the draft along you should have two skirt block pieces that look like the two above (unless your front darts were the same size as the back darts on your straight skirt block, in which case you will have no residual dart in the back). For the purpose of this step we are going to ignore the extra flare we added at the side seam. We are not going to omit it, but we aren’t going to use if for any measurements or calculations either, so just disregard it for now.
Firstly, we want to measure our skirt block and do a couple of calculations. Taking a tape measure or a bendy ruler, measure the width of your skirt hem (not including that flare I mentioned) on the front and back and write these measurements down. Then measure your hip line on the front and back pieces and record these measurements too. Divide all your measurements by three so you can divide each line into thirds. On your hip line mark the first third as point 1 and the second third as point 2. Mark the equivalent points on your hemline 3 and 4 as below.
Dividing Up The Panels
Draw a line that joins points 1 and 3 and then extends up to the waist. Move your back dart if you have one so that it centres on this line (this is as simple as rubbing out your dart and redrawing an identical one on your new line). Draw an identical line that joins points 2 and 4 – this second line is going to be your grainline for your side panel.
Now get a new piece of paper and trace off everything in blue in the diagram below making sure to leave space on your paper at the sides so we can add pleats in later. As you can see we lose our back dart into the panel seam, completely eliminating it.
These are your centre front and back gore panels and are cut on the fold if you want a six gore skirt. We are going to add a centre back zip when we finally make up our pattern though so be aware that you can change fold lines and grainlines as you desire.
With another sheet of fresh paper trace out the panels indicated in blue below. These will be your side panels, note how you trace the line bisecting points 1 and 2 and make it your grainline.
You now should have the following pattern pieces (see below) and that is all for today, we will add pleats to our skirt in the next post, almost there!!