Sunday, 17 March 2019

Simplicity 8529 Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater in Double Layer Jersey

It's been extra windy in the UK recently so it seemed like making a cosy sweater was a good idea and I managed to get pattern/fabric and some small windows of time in the week before storm Gareth kicked in.  This is view A of Simplicity 8529.  This is the Simplicity licenced version of Peggy's Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater; slightly different from the original - the shoulder line is more dropped on this version and the neck construction uses another method.  It's a quick and satisfying make, I wore this all through last week!

I made size S as that was closest to my 33" chest measurement, my only alteration was turning up the front and back hems by an extra 1/4".  The fabric is a double layer Italian cotton jersey which I bought from this eBay seller who offers a sample service.  I found the samples incredibly helpful when choosing and successful for the seller too as I bought another knit fabric that I hadn't noticed as well as this one.  This has two layers of 100% cotton jersey held together by stitches like double gauze.  It's soft with moderate stretch and good structure and suited this style.  It was also easy to cut and sew as it lies relatively flat. 

I decided to sew this on my Bernina 830 record using a Bernina walking foot, 80 ballpoint needle and Gutermann Sew-All thread.  My overlocker doesn't cope that well with bulk and the double layer does make for some thick seam intersections so I sewed some trial seams and ended up using a small zig-zag for the seams (1.5 width x 1.5 length), and a bigger one (4 w x 2.5 lengthto encase the edges, trimming after I sewed.   it worked really well with neat stable seams and it does show how you don't need an overlocker/serger to sew knits!  I used a seam stabiliser tape on the back shoulders up to the neck curve and a double-needle for the slit hems, see here for tips, although a long straight stitch could also be used as the hems aren't put under strain. 

The funnel neck is warm without being restrictive and the clever facing method creates a neat finish.  This pattern was a great project to fit into small spaces of time: once it's cut out it comes together very quickly and the end result is satisfying.  I might try the shorter banded version with my remaining jersey fabric... 

Joni is taking up most of my free moments and I need to be very vigilant about not letting her into my sewing room unless she's sleeping to prevent her eating fabric scraps.  I've been keeping her busy with lots of socialisation opportunities and learning new tricks.  Puppy life is rather hands-on but she's a fast learner and we've been getting out and about on the lead. 

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Assembly Line Apron Dress Version 2- Lined

Here's my second Assembly Line Apron Dress, (read about my first here).  This version is made with medium weight cotton twill originally bought to make a raincoat and I've lined it with cotton lawn (originally intended for the coat lining) to give a bit of extra weight and a bit more swish when walking.  Both these fabrics have been stashed for around 5 years so it felt good to use them in a garment that will see lots of wear.

Some minor changes from the first version,
  • I added an extra 1" to the skirt length so I could turn up a deeper hem so the stitch lines are consistent throughout.  I also changed the topstitching a little at the bib top. 
  •  The fabric is lighter weight than last time so although I made the straps the same length, they were a little loose and I'm guessing the skirt weight doesn't pull as much as the heavier brown twill, so I ended up unpicking and shortening them by a further 1/2" after these photos were taken.  As I enclosed my strap ends this was a bit fiddly, but I'm good at covering my tracks and you'd never know!
  • I added interfacing to the facing this time, the fabric needed some extra oomph!  

The lining is basically a second dress cut 1" shorter. The outer and inner layers behave as one fabric when the facing is added.  It does make it feel extra good and it's always pleasing to see a blast of blue and orange together! The dress fabric is shot with a navy warp and a cornflower blue weft which has a slight shimmer effect, and as it was raincoat fabric, it's slightly water repellent which adds to the utilitarian vibe.  Thank you to Charlotte who kindly took my photos at a quilt guild meeting, that's always the tricky bit as I don't like using a timer and taking my own pics.

Find the pattern at The Draper's Daughter or go straight to the Assembly Line website.  I'm wearing the  dress with a Sew Over It Molly top in a viscose jersey.  

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

February Arrivals at Plush Addict

We are getting an early burst of Spring in the UK at the moment and I'm feeling the buzz of plants and colours emerging as I look at Plush Addict's latest arrivals for my February sponsor post.  I've chosen quilt cotton bundles in a range of sizes and a knit fabric suitable for tops, leggings, dresses and more. 

  1. Makower Fern Garden FQ Bundle.  I love the botanical illustrations in these vintage style prints, great colour palette too. Check out the Fern print, I think that's my favourite.
  2. Dashwood Stitch FQ Bundle.  Very cute modern mix of bright colours and sewing themed prints from Bethan Janine for Dashwood!  Six prints, also available as yardage.
  3. Art Gallery Sage Sunswept Canyon Knit.  I love Art Gallery knits, they are always great quality and have a good recovery to them.
  4. Dashwood Amelie FQ Bundle.  Adorable collection from Jilly P for Dashwood.   Her simple bold style is so distinctive and I love it!

Monday, 25 February 2019

Kansas City Star Sampler Book Review

As a fan of 1930s quilt blocks, I've been tracking the publication date of The Kansas City Star Quilts Sampler and jumped at the chance to review it!  It's a mix of archive patterns from the Kansas City Star newspaper with modernised instructions and a history lesson.  In the 1920s American newspapers started to regularly feature quilt patterns.  This was popular with readers and the Kansas Star column started in 1928 and lasted until 1961 when they were replaced with TV listings- a sign of changing times.  The blocks featured in this book are a range of sizes just like the originals, although the sizes have been standardised a little, and there's an option in the last few pages to combine them all in a sampler.

The blocks are presented in decade order from a few 1920s blocks, a large selection of 1930s and 40s blocks during the height of the quilt revival, a smaller range from the 1950s and three blocks from the 1960s.  It's a detailed book with 64 blocks and 263 pages in all.

Throughout the book, there are regular profile pages compiled by quilt historian, Barbara Brackman and these are a fascinating read.   They are largely stories of the women, like Edna Marie Dunn, who helped to shape the quilting industry as we know it today: developing illustration aesthetics and quilt block design, creating businesses and methods of producing patterns like mail order and syndicating content to reach more customers.

Each block includes a snippet of the original pattern illustration and instructions alongside the 21st-century version.   Construction is largely through full-size templates which can be found just after each block instructions so you do need to be happy to use this method to make the majority of the blocks. Many designs are 12" x 12" blocks. The sampler at the back of the book is made by changing the sizes of many of the blocks enlarging and reducing when you print off template copies.  

There are a few blocks which have rotary cutting instructions or combine templates and rotary cutting.  Only one block is foundation paper pieced (Carnival Time) and there were some other blocks that would've benefited from FPP rather than individual templates ( Crazy Anne #2 for example) but that's a subjective viewpoint!   The templates could also be traced without seam allowances for English Paper Piecing.  There's one appliqued block (1955 Rose Cross) and one other block with an appliqued element (1936 White Lily).

I chose a couple of blocks, starting with 1941 Radio Windmill.  I still have a stack of 1920s Farmer's Wife 6" blocks from 2011 and want to add these together to make a small quilt so I opted for similar colours.  I used a scanner to copy the templates and then printed at 50% to produce a 6" x 6" finished block.   I made templates from plastic, drew on the reverse of the fabric and add seam allowances when I cut the fabric pieces. 

This block uses partial seams and brief instructions are given.  All the book instructions assume prior quilting knowledge.  You can find a beginner tutorial for partial seams here.  This block needs careful seam point alignment so I use vertical pinning to match the points and then just a single pin at the end of each seam. 

 I did make a slight error not realising that there were two mini block layouts needed to create the final layout so my food fussy cutting which was all in one direction has had a bit of spin but I love the final 6" block.  Japanese prints throughout and the strips and the food print were from Rosegarden Patchwork.

The second block is 1953 Eight-Point Snowflake and I have sewn this design before but many years ago and in a bigger size.  Again, I reduced the templates by 50% for a 6" finished block.  This block is all about the Y seams which is a technical challenge I really enjoy!  The instructions show the direction of each seam but otherwise, you need to be familiar with inset seams (I wrote a blog post on Y seams here) and these could also be hand sewn which is a great way to familiarise yourself with this sort of precision sewing.  A couple of the fabrics I used were from a few years ago when I started to my original 1920s blocks- the garden print, Denyse Schmidt floral and centre line print.  The gingham is from Rosegarden Patchwork

Here are the Kansas City Star blocks mixed in with my other blocks.  I do feel like adding to this so I think I will keep dipping into the book and sew up some other designs from across the decades.

 Thank you to Search Press UK for sending me a free copy to review.  This is definitely my kind of quilting book.  I love the history additions and there are some quirky block choices in with the more familiar selections.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Assembly Line Apron Dress in Twill

I've been wearing this Assembly Line Apron Dress since late December so it is about time I shared it here.  It's a great pattern - all the Assembly Line patterns that I've sewn (V-neck dress, Two Cuff Tops) have resulted in frequently worn garments that definitely bring me joy. 

 I have a similar ready-to-wear dress to this, a charcoal cotton drill apron dress from Toast which has a similar pleat feature at the back waist.  I've worn it a lot so this pattern was love at first sight.  I bought it last year when Assembly Line patterns were just arriving in the UK (Draper's Daughter) and were sold in single sizes.  They are now available multi-size.  I bought an S but the fit was quite generous and I needed to reduce the size a little.  I used a cotton twill fabric from Clothspot (similar o the website).  It's got a bit of weight to it and soft fuzzy feel, it's got a lightly brushed texture so I had to cut so the fabric pieces all lay in the same direction- on the layout suggestions, pieces run both ways.  I'd also had the fabric sitting around for 6 months and although it was not in direct sun, the centre fold line created a big faded vertical line down the centre which I had to cut around.  You can see the main features on the pattern technical drawing.

  • Lengthened the skirt section front and back by 2".  The pattern includes lengthening and shortening directions.
  • Seam allowances are 1cm (3/8"), to reduce the waist I sewed 1.5cm (5/8" on all side seams, a total reduction of  3.8 cm (1 1/2").  The fit is comfortable.  When the back waist snaps are undone, you need to be able to  take the dress on and off over the shoulders so it can't be too fitted at the waist.
  • I didn't use interfacing on the side and top facings as the twill was quite thick.  In hindsight, I should've used it along the top of the bodice as it has lost a little shape there.
  • Strap length reduced by 1/2"
  • Hem reduced to 3/4" as I wanted to maximise the length.  When I make another, I will cut it slightly longer to allow for the deeper hem to match the topstitching features. 

It is a relatively simple make so most of my time was spent getting the top stitch details crisp and neat.  The front strap ends aren't enclosed in the pattern instructions but I did enclose mine which made it trickier when adjusting the strap length but a much neater finish.  The pockets are roomy and well designed to have a little extra room to slide a hand in, rather than being a flat patch pocket

I love the back pleat where the waiting fastens.  It creates an A-line skirt so plenty of room for walking, but without excessive fabric around the waist.  I used Prym anorak snaps from an ancient set in my stash and they are secure and don't feel bulky.

I find dresses like this perfect for everyday wear, it's truly an ideal uniform for my lifestyle!  I like the utilitarian, but feminine aesthetic.   I'm currently cutting out a second from a lightweight blue twill that I bought years ago to become a coat.  This time I'm going to add a cotton lawn lining as my Toast apron dress has that and I like the extra layer.  I'll try to share that one a bit quicker!  In the meantime, you can find the pattern at The Draper's Daughter or go straight to the Assembly Line website.  

Friday, 15 February 2019

Introducing Joni

So I have been sewing but only hand sewing in very short, small sessions because we have a newbie in the house.  Welcome Joni, almost 9 weeks and collected last weekend.  A puppy is a mix of adorable cute, silliness, frustration and chaos.  We're all finding our way nicely through it with some ups and downs.  She is a King Charles Cavalier like Lottie but a Tri-colour and obviously, each dog has its own personality and ways.  It is a strange mix missing Lottie and welcoming a puppy but such is life.  My heart is full of the wonderful times we had with Lottie and I'm looking forward to the walks and beach adventures coming our way, just as soon as we've got through house training and vaccinations.

Our cat Buffy was very keen on Lottie, so she has been incredibly tolerant of a cheeky young upstart. The sun has been shinning with all the hints of spring so they've been united in their love of finding a spot with optimum warmth and light.  

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

January at Plush Addict

The lovely team at Plush Addict are busy moving into a new warehouse shop space in Peterborough but there online shop is available as usual and orders are being processed.  As usual, there are lots colourful new arrivals just in so for my January 2019 sponsor choice I've chosen a couple of rainbowtised quilting collections as well as a gorgeous dressmaking rayon viscose along with some hab-dash suggestions for handling/sewing this fabric as well as some garment patterns selected with rayon viscose in mind.

  1. Andover Sunprints 2018 Fat Quarter Bundle 27 fabrics Alison Glass's fabric collections offer a giant blast of saturated colour with a multitude of prints.  Sunprints 2018 include a text print, florals, doodle outlines in different colourways. Also available as individual yardage.
  2. Dashwood Studio Ditsies Fat Quarter Bundle 20 Fabrics Small scale prints in a wide rainbow of colours, Ditsies is a new cute collection and the designs range from leopards and birds to geometric dashes. Each print also available as yardage.
  3. Dashwood Flying Birds Rayon Viscose  Wide width dressmaking fabric from Dashwood.  This print followed hot on the heels of their Dovestone dressmaking fabrics (also rayon viscose). This is a fluid fabric with great drape.  It does need gentle washing and careful handling.  I like to use Schmetz Microtex 70 needes as they are super sharp and pierce the fabric nicely.  Rayon can easily get caught or snag on thick or old pins so fine pins used in the seam allowance only are a good idea. 
  4. Simplicity 8417 Pullover Tops with Sleeve and Fabric Variations.  I picked this pattern as it's a great style for the Dashwood rayon/viscose and there are so many variation within the pattern.  There are no closures to worry about, style options variations with and without bust darts, ruffles are still popular and there are some different ways to add them.  If you'd prefer a dress option, Butterick B6481 is a style designed with rayon viscose in mind and I couldn't resist this Jumpsuit Butterick B6220 (full-length version) which would look great in the bird print.