Thursday 29 October 2015

October at Eternal Maker

If you follow @eternalmaker on Instagram, you'll have seen the bolts of new arrivals in every kind of fabric so for my October visit I'm jumping straight in with double gauze- always a favourite for me!  

If you haven't sewn with double gauze before, imagine two layers of fine gauze fabric held together with a tiny threads spaced throughout the weave.  It make for a soft, highly breathable fabric so I use it for dresses and short sleeve tops in the summer and shirts, tunics and even pyjamas for the winter.  It is quite delicate to work with- frays easily and suits looser shapes rather than body fitting, stuctured garments.  These ones are all by Kobayashi.  The dots haven't made it online yet (email Anna if you are interested in those but the solid colours- from l to r, petrol , wine, and dove grey are all from £3.50/quarter metre.  They do make lovely baby blankets and wraps too.
Ellen Luckett Baker designs for Kokka tend to be soft geometric patterns and her range of double gauze prints has expanded.  These have a quiet neutrality about them which makes them incredibly wearable fabrics:

This is circles in blue and the same print in mint and metallic silver.  It's also available in black and gold.   She has a triangular print called, Points available in silver and gold metallics, plus a white on white version

Queen of double gauze for me is Naomi Ito and her painterly Nani Iro prints.  A couple of new ones include 'Freeway' in grey.

And this is En Garden in pink, so painterly!

A lot of other Japanese fabrics have arrived.  This is another Nani Iro fabric but this time a knit with  plush detail.  Biscuit rare in teal.

 It is rather luxiousious, Anna posted a lovely picture of a simple infinity scarf made with this fabric and a double gauze.  It is only 65cm wide but you can buy it in 10cm increments so you can buy exactly what you need.  Also available in grey.
This navy floral cotton fabric caught my eye, the tinies creative Tuesday for Kokka

Also available in green
And to co-rordinate with it, how about some Lizzie House The Lovely Hunt yellow flowers?

Or Strawberry in pink?   You can find the rest of The Lovely Hunt fabrics here along with her other collections. 

The rest of Handcrafted 2 can be found here.  Petal in Gold is a great match for the amazing show of autumn colour we are getting in the UK at the moment- it's been a particularly good year for it.

There have been a lot of pattern arrivals, a large range of Sewaholic and Pauline Alice patterns are now available online and they are both pattern companies that I have used and liked. 
The Sewaholic Granville Shirt is a lovely fitted style with extra design details that you can add according to your preference and the sew along for this style was very detailed.

The Carme blouse is one of my favourite Pauline Alice patterns.  The instructions are excellent and the yoke/grandad collar combo is one of my wardrobe favourites (see my version here).  I keep meaning to return to this pattern, maybe this weekend it's time to do it!


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Tuesday 27 October 2015

Forest Boat Neck top: Betsey Johnson for Butterick 4426

 This top came about from a generous offer of some fabric from UK knit/jersey fabric specialist Girl Charlee and a vintage pattern lucky find at a local stitching fair, both in the same week!  The pattern is a classic Betsey Johnson knit design for Butterick design, I made the top  (view B) which I shortened, straightened at the sides as I didn't want to wear a belt and  straightened the bell shaped sleeves.   The fabric is Girl Charlee cotton/poly blend 50/50 which I was interested to try as many of their prints are on this blend and I usually stay away from anything with polyester in as manmade fibres can irritate my skin and in all honesty, I am a fabric snob!

 This is Fawn Silhouette on Forest Green Cotton Jersey Blend.  It is mid weight- it makes me think of T shirts- and has 25% stretch.  That means that 10" of fabric will stretch to 12.5" maximum which is quite low so it has stability and the edges of the fabric don't roll when you cut it.    It is soft and it drapes nicely.   Mark warned me that I would need to wash it first as it feels a little stiff straight off the bold which it did when I first unwrapped it but it softened just as he said and knits should always be pre washed and dried flat to allow for shrinkage.  It seemed a good fit for this style, it matched the stretch gauge on the reverse of the pattern.   If you are new to knits, this blend is a good fabric to start with: it's easy to handle for cutting and sewing and there are lots of prints to choose from.   It's a jersey fabric that lies flat and is suitable for a style that doesn't need a lot of stretch so something like a Megan Nielsen Briar top or a Tilly & the Buttons Coco top/dress is good.  It doesn't work for close fitting styles like leggings or tight tops as it has no lycra so the recovery is mechanical rather than specific stretchy fibres. 

 This is a mid 1970s pattern guessing from the style and these tend to stress MODERATE STRETCH knits on the front of the packet.  Manmade knit fabrics were a very 1970s phenomenon,  I remember as a child wearing crimplene everything- trousers, tops, dresses, coat, and cotton/spandex blends were in still waiting to happen in the distant 1980s and 90s!  Occasionally, I will see original knit fabric garments and fabrics from the 1970s on my carboot sale and charity shop visits and although the styles are great, the fabrics are so artificial compared to what's available now.  I notice in the new series of Fargo, the costumes reflect the authentic clothing of the time rather than the stylised version of the 70's currently on the high street.

It's a simple pattern.  The neckline is the same front and back and is horizontal- no curve.  The front and back are slightly angled at the shoulder where the two cross over.  You have to go with the bra-straps-on-view look as it's unavoidable with this style!

With vintage patterns, the methodology is often different to what we would do now.  I would usually opt for a double needle hem finish  but instead, this pattern called for two lines of straight stitching.  I experimented- see below and I opened for the 0.7 zig zag as I tend to pull tops as I take them off and on!  In hindsight I think the double needle hem would've been better with some knit stabiliser tape to stop the tunnelling or bunching up of the fabric between the stitching rows. 

I added the sleeves flat but they were eased stitched and I tried to avoid stretching the fabric as I sewed them in on the overlocker.  So I avoided distorting the fabric but it dos look a little puckered around the armhole.  I used a moderate heat on the iron for pressing because of the polyester content and it worked fine.

The degree of stretch in knit fabric is such an important factor when matching up fabric to pattern.  Girl Charlee is one of the few online shops in the UK that includes the percentage stretch for each fabric.  Other shops write some beautiful descriptions and include fibre content, width and all the other info but it would be so helpful to have this extra information. 

I'm adding this into my #vintagepledge as an extra- I still have a Betsey Johnson jacket to make which is waiting for me to buy a walking foot for my Bernina!  See my other makes for #vintagepledge here and here

sib blog

Monday 26 October 2015

Farmer's Wife QAL Blocks 13 & 14: Belle and Betty

It's Week seven in the year long Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt Along, remember you are welcome to join at any time, it's a very relaxed QAL and links to all previous blocks  are here.  Block 13, Belle  (p.172, letter p.158) is a tricky one if you don't like Y seams but don't panic there are ways round it.  Fiona of Poppy Makes is guest posting for this block so click here to read: she's been English Paper Piecing her blocks, a great technique for pain-free Y seams.

Fabric credits:
Riley Black, Flower Patch in white - not easily available now in this colour way, Etsy might be the best market place to search. 

I'll talk about how to foundation paper piece this block, including the Y seams on today's Periscope broadcast at 2.30pm UK time including a cheat to avoid any Y seams.  Watch live or for 24 hrs on replay at .  For those that can't make it and still want to cheat, you can print the block diagram from the book CD at full 6" square size and make the following changes to make it Y seam free:

Don't print this diagram off as it is not to size!  the blue dotted line divides the blocks sections differently and creates an extra piece to avoid a Y seam: draw this line on your block, add the letters/numbers and then cut along the line to separate the sections.  The red solid line is another  cutting line which separates the central area into two sections.   To sew together, complete each section A, B , C and D.  Join B to C.  Join A to BC.  Join D to ABC.

The fourteenth block is Betty (p.173, letter p.100) and she's a straightforward mix of squares and half square triangles so if Belle stressed you out, Betty should have you back on track!

Fabric credits:
Kona Corn Yellow
Kona Candy Blue
Gracie's schoolhouse classics Red Dotty Blossoms

I foundation paper pieced this block and used the rotary cutting instructions to precut the pieces but made them each ½" bigger, e.g. a 2 ½" x 2 ½"  square would become a 3" x 3" square.  I've used three different Kona yellows (corn yellow, buttercup, and citrus) in my Farmer's Wife blocks so far and I will admit to a love affair with yellow for this quilt, it gives my eyes such a lift each time it appears.

The letter for this block is all about music, a subject close to my heart as my day job is running music classes for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.  I used to work as a primary teacher and I started the music classes when my daughter started school and although it is hard work it is also a very uplifting job, the children and their families are wonderful and I really enjoy it.  My mother made sure, without support, that I and my sister and brother all had music lessons of some sort.  She often had either no income or very limited wages but she always made the sacrifice so that we had an instrument and the encouragement to play music as long as we wanted and we all benefitted.  Back then, there were school instruments available to borro so you could try before committing to buying, and lessons -  which were short and in groups - were free.  Music is such a huge part of my life- I'm listening to BBC6 Music and  Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service as I write this - and my life is definitely the richer for the all the music within it.
  • Use the hashtags  Don't forget to use #fw1930sqal on Instagram and the Flickr group if you like to share there.  
  • For individual blocks, you can use #belleblock and #bettyblock on Instagram.  Fat Quarter Shop and Angie are using these hash tags, #fw13belle,  #fw14betty, I'm using both hashtag systems!
  • You can also copy and paste links to any blog posts you do on these blocks in the comments and I'd love to visit and take a look. 
  • I'll be talking about this week's and last week's blocks on with a short broadcast  around 2.30pm GMT today and it'll be available for 24 hours to replay before it disappears! Link will be in my twitter feed @verykb and I'll post on Instagram and twitter about 15 minutes before it does out.  I'll be talking about templates and accuracy.
Please note:  I have linked to my sponsors on items bought through them and elsewhere for anything that has come from other shops.

You can join the quilt-along at any time, all the posts are here for you to catch up with.  Back next Monday with Erica from Crafty Blossom and blocks 15 and 16.  

sib blog

Friday 23 October 2015

Colette Patterns Wren Dress in Navy Dot: Reviews

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Colette patterns new dress design 'Wren' a few days before the release date earlier this week.  It's the first time I've received anythin garment related in advance like this apart from a little proof reading and pattern testing for friends and the occasional indie designer so it felt like a total treat.  It was without obligation- no pressure to blog about it but as I sewed it up and I liked the result I thought I would share as I usually do.  

Colette describe it as a 'fitted surplice dress' which I think means that you pull it on over your head- it's a knit dress and there's no closures.  It has a wrap style bodice and there are sleeve/sleeveless options and two skirt variations- fitted and gathered a-line.   It's described as a beginner pattern, which I could agree with for version 1 but  I think version 2 requires more intermediate skills.   I was a little unsure when I saw the pattern cover, I liked the style but it seemed more suitable for summer weather here in the UK- I am currently planning lots of maxi length garments with long sleeves!  I was also a little wary of such a deep v- I find them a little revealing of a rather skinny area on me.  My daughter saw it and she was very taken with it so I made it for her.  I had some  good quality viscose elastane jersey from Plush Addict (this colour way is sold out but there's a black/white dot version.  It's quite lightweight, has good recovery and drape so is perfect for the full skirt style.  Fabric options  for the different styles are discussed in here at the Coletterie.

Before you sew any knit garment it helps to get organised.   I used my sewing machine and my overlocker.  For my sewing machine I needed:
  • Walking foot
  • double needle for stretch fabric
  • 75 needle for stretch fabric.  For any knit fabric with elastane, I find a stretch needle rather than a ball point needle gives me better stitching and is less likely to skip stitches.  Matching the size of needle to the weight of fabric makes a big  difference too. 
  • two spools of navy thread
  • one bobbin of YLI Lingerie nylon thread- this is not essential, I had it in my stash and it has a little more stretch than Guterman sew-all poly
I took a detailed set of measurements from my daughter to help with fitting.  I got mine from Fast Track fitting Joi Mahon on Craftsy but you can find similar here. Her key measurements for this pattern were bust 31.5", waist 25" and hip 35 ¾" which put her at a size XS (33/25/35) as the hips aren't relevant with a full style.  With 1.5" to lose in the bust, I made a test bodice in a viscose elastane jersey remnant that I picked up very cheaply at the carbon sale.

I usually end up making at least a bodice tester for all dress/top patterns as adjustment is usually needed for both of us.  This is the bodice , size XS without sleeves made exactly as described by the pattern.  On the left (as you look at the pic) you can see where I've pinched some of the fullness from the side of the bust and under the arm- the right side is unchanged and you can see the bagginess.

 The bodice design has a clever addition, a neck band which although it is placed diagonally on the bodice, the hemmed edge is cut along the straight grain of the fabric so it helps to give it some control.    it's also gathered at the top shoulder.  The pattern gives instructions to hem the V edges and this worked OK- the weight of the skirt will also give a little weight to these edges but they were a little insecure on a smaller bust so I remembered Sew U Home Stretch and a scoop neck dress I made with an elastic finish and stitched ¼" elastic to the right side of the neck band edge before turning over and hemming it with a double needle as before.    My top tip for this is to sew slowly- I have more details about this technique here and you can find out more tips here at Coletterie.

This is the same bodice with the sides narrowed- I removed ⅝" from the top of each bodice side edge and graded down to the bottom of the seam.  This removes 2 ½" from the total chest area and is a way of fitting a small bust in a jersey top without using darts or a small bust adjustment.  A similar thing is discussed at Colette here for armholes and bust adjustments.  I also removed the same about from the armhole end of the sleeve, grading into the usual seam at the sleeve hem.

The neck band edge lies flat when she stands straight but if she moves around, it wasn't really snug enough to feel secure as you can see on the pic below.

It's easy to add elastic to necklines and sleeveless armholes.  I control the fabric with my left hand and hold the elastic straight but not stretched with my right hand, the blade is not engaged.  Make sure you leave long tails of elastic at the beginning and end; it is much easier to control the fabric with them!

The  edge with the elastic  (left) is then turned pressed over to the wrong side, lightly pressed  on the right side and hemmed with the double needle (right).
Top Tip- sew the left neck band edge (as you wear the garment) first as the right neck band edge will be the more visible and your stitching will improve on the second edge!

The bodice is quite straight forward.  You need to sew slowly and handle the fabrics carefully so as not to overstretch the fabric and when you sew the sleeves into the armholes, be careful the fabric underneath the sleeve doesn't get trapped as you sew.  I love the fit of the bodice, it's very soft and feminine.

Adding elastic on the neck edge gives the V total security when worn and keeps the V from falling too low.   I used it on the back neck too, it wasn't totally necessary but I think it gives the dress more support if it is hung on a hanger.  The only other change I made was to add twill tape on the back bodice shoulder seams to keep everything stable.

The skirt section is a gentle A-line shape with a gathered waist.  The gathering is created by shirring- zig zag stitching ¼"clear elastic around the skirt waist.  I used clear elastic when I made the Skater dress.  It's great for stability but I find it a nightmare to sew.  I used a Sharpie marker instead of pins to mark it into quadrants following the pattern instructions and zig zagged it into place but it is very tricky to do evenly- as you can see below.

It doesn't seem to matter too much as the right side looked fine and once the skirt is joined to the bodice some of the elastic is sheared off by the overlocker blade.  If I make this again, I think I will gather the skirt in the usual way and join to the bodice without the clear elastic.  The finished waist seam was a little bumpy but pressing helped.  I'm not sure how I could make it totally smooth.

Here's some shoulder and neck edge detail pics-my favourite part of the dress.

My daughter is really happy with it.  Comfortable, easy to wear, casual enough to wear out with her friends- she wore it on a trip to see Suffragette with me last night- and dressy enough to wear for college interviews, to work etc so a useful addition to her wardrobe.  

This pattern is on offer for a short time at Colette and you can find it at the usual UK suppliers here and here.  There's a #wrenfaire competition at the Coletterie- the best part of this are the amazing tips people are passing on in the comments- my favourites are:
 1. Cut drapey knits on a pool table to stop them sliding about and 
2. Wine!  

Read more tips in the comments here. 

sib blog

Wednesday 21 October 2015

October at Plush Addict

Time to look at the latest arrivals at Plush Addict, starting with one of the newest fabric ranges from Riley Blake, Fancy & Fabulous.  It's got fresh colours with a hint of vintage in the rich cream and soft grey toned aquas.

I had noticed this print on Cindy's (of Live a Colourful Life) Instagram feed- I think you can see why and I didi wonder what the design was, turns out it's part of this range!  It's a great text style print!- Fabulous pattern in cream.

There's a good mix of feature, blender and pretty ptinys, I especially liked this sprig coral floral- Fabulous Breath Coral- gorgeous!  Makes me think of summer way before I should be doing, glorious! Also available and just as lovely in mint.

I'm spoilt for choice with this range.  Look at this beauty, Fabulous Loving Life in Mint.

There are matching Kona solid suggestions for Fabulous & Fancy here.

From Moda, there's the retro psychedelic Neco range by MoMo which is typical of the MoMo style and colour choices from previous collections.  There's a glorious eye spy feature print which takes me straight to 1970s children's furnishing fabrics! This is Hide and Seek in Multi/red

Love the eyes on this design!  It comes in another colour way and in a cotton linen blend option too. 

Each month, there are a special offers on different items for a limited time period.  At the moment, there's a special offer on zips so it you are thinking ahead to a mega cushion making session in preparation for Christmas or getting supplies in to make a stack of zip pouches- now's the time.  The 30 % off, discount ends on Sunday and includes lacey zips and metal zips as well as the usual dress and concealed zips, open ended etc.

There's also a discount on all Olfa products now including rotary cutters, blades, rulers, cutting mats and more.  This ends 25th October so you'll need to be quick.  A handy choice is the Olfa 28mm rotary cutter which I bought a few months back.  This is excellent for cutting around tight corners and I also use it if I am making lingerie- again because of the curves.  

For the dressmakers out there, I noticed some new high quality heavy denim described as "exactly the same one as used by Levis", 11 oz so good for more structured clothing- like a Grainline Moss skirt, bags or cushions. 

There's also a stretch denim (2% spandex) which would be softer and forgiving to wear.

For those of you fancying making a winter coat, this wool blend Luxury Italian coating would be great for a simple wrap style coat or cape.  

It's an wool/viscose blend and looks like a very classy fabric indeed, gorgeous colour!  I imagine a good pattern for this would Vogue V9038, the drawing isn't too inspiring but you can imagine how the fabric would work with this, plus not much sewing required.  The high street shops are full of cape/scarf coats in similar styles but not made of such high quality fabric as this.
Here's a similar idea from McCalls, M6209

I feel like there's too much to choose from this month, oh the hardship!  Enjoy perusing! x

sib blog