Friday, 14 October 2016

Pattern Review Sewing Bee Round 2 -Megan Nielsen Brumby Skirt

Well those lovely pink shorts got me through to Round 2 of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee. I was so pleased to get through as there were so many brilliant entries! I was holding off publishing this post as I wanted to get some better photos but each time I've worn this skirt since I've forgotten to take photos so I'm hitting Publish anyway!
Round 2 was another step outside my comfort zone.  This was the challenge -
You will have one week (starting 9/14/2016) to cut, sew and photograph a garment made using fabric cut on the bias (45 degree angle).
I had never sewn anything on the bias before, though I've certainly made plenty bias binding but that doesn't really count. My immediate thought was to make the top from the Rachel Comey Vogue 1247 pattern as I'd been wanting to make it for years and thought it was all cut on the bias. However when I looked at it I realised only one of the panels was cut on the bias. I could have altered it to cut them all on the bias but I wasn't feeling too confident about using a new-to-me pattern along with new-to-me sewing skills so I settled on something I'd made before.  If you've read my last post you'll know what I used - yes, it's another Brumby!

My first fabric choice was a beautiful striped cotton from Faberwood but, after cutting out the first piece and trying to match the stripes to cut the second front panel I decided it wasn't going to work. the stripes were too irregular and it would just have looked like I didn't know how to stripe match. Luckily I also had 2 metres of this gorgeous voile and 2 metres of blue lining that matched perfectly. I don't remember how much the voile cost except that I bought it at Ray Stitch on a day when they had a percentage off all fabrics. But I'd guess it cost me about £20 for the 2 metres. The lining fabric is from Truro Fabrics and cost £19.20 for 2 metres. I bought this years ago with something else in mind but never used it, luckily! It is a really nice lining fabric, much easier to sew with than the last pricey lining I bought, a Bremsilk cupro, and I'll definitely be going back to the Truro website to order more next time I need some lining.
This Threads Magazine article was highlighted by a number of helpful participants in the Pattern Review discussion board and it was very useful too. Again I have to say, if you don't already use the Pattern Review website it really is a brilliant resource for tips and advice, everyone is friendly and very helpful.  You can see all the wonderful entries for Round 2 of the Sewing Bee here, though I'm not sure how long they will stay up for.
I didn't make it through to Round 3 - which isn't surprising given the high standard of the other entries - but I had such good fun taking part!  And I came out with a beautiful skirt that has already had lots of wear.

Here is my review from the competition -

Sewing Bee Round 2 - A Bias Garment Pattern or style, and how it fits the criteria: A gathered skirt with deep scoop pockets and a contoured waistband. This was made for myself. I cut the two main front pieces and the two back pieces on the bias. I chose to add a lining as the main fabric was very sheer. The pocket facing, lining and waistband are cut on the straight grain. The lining pieces were also cut as two front pieces & two back pieces.

Fabric used - material and yardage: Voile fabric by Anna Maria Horner, called 'innocent crush'. 2 metres. The lining fabric is a tri-acetate/polyamide blend and I had 2 metres.

What other components did you use in your garment (closures, pockets, trim, etc): Two big front pockets which I topstitched. Centred zip. The pattern suggests an exposed zip, which I used on my last version. However I have read that the best zip technique to use on bias for a first try is a centred zip so that's what I went with!

Describe how the bias grain was used in your entry, and why:
This pattern has two separate main front & back pieces, with additional pocket facing pieces on the front. I decided to cut the main front & back pieces on the bias because I thought the striped fabric would look brilliant if used to make a chevron. I also thought the added drape from the bias cut might counter the volume of the gathers though it doesn't seem to have made much difference to this, probably because I added a lining. For added contrast I cut the pocket facing & waistband on the straight grain so the stripes go in different directions, vertically on the waistband & horizontally on the pockets. The pocket lining was cut on the straight grain from the lining fabric, as was the waistband facing. I have lined this skirt as the voile is quite sheer. I cut the lining on the bias as well.
Before cutting on the bias I marked up my pattern pieces with the bias grain (following this brilliant tutorial by Liz at Zildred Loh). I have showed my marked pattern pieces in the photo which also shows the fabric being cut on the bias.

Matching stripes on the bias
I made sure to make sure that my front and back pieces made chevrons at the side as down the middle. Likewise with the lining I made sure that the Grainline made a chevron in the middle and at the sides.

Describe the fitting technique(s) you used to achieve shaping:
I've made this skirt twice before so spent some time perfecting the fit on those two. First time round I cut a size S initially then thought the waist was too tight so recut the waistband in a M. It fits but is a bit loose. Second time I cut a size S for waistband and skirt pieces and it fits pretty perfectly though to be on this safe side here I used a 1cm seam allowance on the waistband pieces to give a bit of extra room. I added 1/2" to the side seams and 1" to the hems of the main pattern pieces as I've read that this is advised to allow for the fabric stretching and I also wanted this to be slightly longer than my last version.

Have you included at least 3 pictures, including minimum one on a live model and one photo showing the bias grain? Yes.

Describe what you like most about your entry: Where to start?! I love that taking part in the sewing bee pushed me to try sewing on the bias for the first time. I'm so pleased with the effect of the chevrons and how well I've matched them up - this was pretty painstaking with lots of pinning and hand basting of each seam. I love how luxurious the fabrics feel and how they swish and move around, it feels like a very special skirt!

Describe your biggest challenge in sewing this bias garment: I've never sewn bias cut fabric before, or altered the grain on a pattern so every step was a challenge and a great opportunity to learn something new.
I think the biggest challenge though was matching up all the stripes to make the chevrons. Once I'd cut out my first front piece I then laid this on the fabric to match up the chevrons to cut my second front piece (photo included). Then I did the same matching with both the back pieces, matching them to each other and to the corresponding front piece. In addition I forgot to add the extra seam allowances on my second front piece and had to recut it. Luckily I had enough fabric.

Stripe matching chevrons
That challenge was closely followed by the challenge of sewing an even hem. I decided to machine stitch the hem and did a small hem, basting at a 1/4", folding, then again at 1/8" & folding then trimming the excess, then folding it under and stitching with an ordinary stitch length. (I used this tutorial for the hem)
What other information would you like to share about this project and your process?

As the pockets were cut on the straight grain, to give contrasting stripe direction, I stay-stitched the pockets before sewing the curve of the straight grain to the curve of the bias. You can see the shape of the pockets in the photos - they're big!!

I hand basted & pinned the seams, sewed every seam and the zip from bottom to top, and used a small zig zag stitch on the seams. There are conflicting views about stretching bias seams when sewing, I didn't stretch mine as wanted my stripes to match perfectly.
Pinked all my seams as I thought overlocking using the stitch on my sewing machine would distort them. I hand stitched the waistband facing down on the inside.
I am so pleased with this skirt and with myself for sewing my first item cut on the bias! I feel I've learned so much through this project: patience, when cutting bias pieces & matching stripes as chevrons; how to alter pattern pieces to show the bias; how to sew bias cut fabric, with this fabric a very small zig zag stitch & no stretching of the seam; a new hemming technique; and this skirt looks as neat inside as out. Thanks pattern review for pushing me out of my comfort zone!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Pattern Review Sewing Bee round 1 - Burda shorts

Remember those shorts I made not so long ago? Well I loved them so much that I instantly wanted to make a second pair before the summer ended.  I had only just convinced myself that it was really time to do more winter-appropriate sewing instead when I noticed that the Pattern Review Sewing Bee contest was about to start. And, guess what the first challenge was?! Yes, a pair of shorts or capris. Well fate had intervened, time to sew up Burda Style pleated shorts 02-2013 #129 again. One last summer sew before autumn/winter sewing begins.
Although I've been a member of Pattern Review for over a year I really heard about the competition last year through seeing Hila's gorgeous entries on her blog Saturday Night Stitch. I've started using the Pattern Review website a lot more since I started quilting, it's such a good source of advice and everyone is so friendly. I'm sure most of you have already heard of it and used it but if not I'd highly recommend it for sewing and quilting, it's free to sign up though they do have a paid option too. I've included my review from the contest below as it gives all the relevant information but I've added in a few extra photos.
UPDATE: I got through to Round 2 - yay!! I'm very pleased I got through as the competition was tough! At the moment you can see all the contest entries together but I think this is only up for 6 months after which you can view everything in the general review gallery.

2016 Sewing Bee Round 1 - Shorts or Capris
Pattern or style used and how it fits the criteria: Pleated shorts with hip yoke pockets and side invisible zip.
Fabric Used-Material Content and Yardage:
Just under 1metre of a brocade style cotton fabric gifted to me by a friend. She bought it at a fabric sale of left over sample fabric at her work - a high street fashion store.
Describe your closure: Invisible zip in the left hand side seam.
Describe the other components you used (e.g. buttons, zippers, trim, pockets, contrast, etc): A 9" invisible zip in the side seam. Two yoke pockets, pleats on the front and back darts. I love both sides of the fabric so I used the reverse for the pocket yoke piece and the waistband. I was very short on fabric so I had to piece my pocket facings together from scraps.

Contrast pockets & waistband, and a pretty good invisible zip
Describe the fitting technique(s) you used to achieve shaping: I have made this pattern up before so I knew the shorts fitted as given but I used a facing not a waistband the first time.  So this time I measured my waist and instead of cutting the waistband to one of the lengths given in the instructions I cut it exactly to fit my waist, with added 1.5cm seam allowance (if only I'd remembered to add seam allowance to the width as well). I still basted the side seams first to check fit before sewing them as this fabric has no stretch whereas last time I made these I used a stretch cotton.
waistband interior, with added fabric to make waistband the right length
Indicate here that you included the photos required - Remember one photo MUST be on a live model (although head may be omitted/obscured) and blog links are NOT allowed:
1.            Front [Required]: yes, on model
2.            Photo shown on the model [Required]:yes
3.            Closure detail [Required]: yes, invisible zip
4.            [Back]: yes
5.            [Optional]: pocket detail close-up
Describe what you like most about your entry: I just love this fabric so much and I am really pleased with the look of the contrast waistband and pocket section as I think it really makes the shorts stand out (as if wearing neon shorts wasn't enough!) I am also very pleased I took the time to hand stitch both the waistband and the hems with s blind stitch.
Describe your biggest challenge in sewing these shorts: I've never fitted shorts or trousers before so I was worried about getting them to fit properly. I found the waistband really hard, mostly because I forgot to add the seam allowance so I had to sew on extra fabric to the reverse of the waistband to make it wide enough (I had less than a metre of this fabric so couldn't just recut a new waistband. Also, sewing to such a strict deadline is a huge challenge as I'm usually quite a slow sewer with woven fabrics and, with a toddler and part-time work, don't get much time to sew.
What other information would you like to share about this project and your process?: I had heard how sparse Burda instructions could be and experienced it for myself with this pattern. For a beginner sewer like me you will probably need other resources as well - I found a tutorial someone wrote online on adding the pockets to these shorts, and used my Colette sewing handbook for a refresher on sewing in an invisible zip.  I found the process on this pair more difficult than my first attempt at this pattern, which was with a stretch cotton. It really emphasised to me the differences fabric choice can make to fit and appearance of the finished item. I am so pleased with these and am hoping it will stay warm enough to get some wear out of them before autumn arrives properly!
So, on to Round 2 of the Sewing Bee now - the challenge is to sew an item cut on the bias. I'm going with a skirt, another summer fabric so maybe this will be my last summer sewing?!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

One Week One Pattern 2016

Have you heard of One Week One Pattern? It's a sewing challenge started in 2012, then in 2014 and now, September 2016. This time round it is hosted by Hannah from  Cinderellis Sews. The challenge is to wear a Tried and True pattern - one you've made lots of times, wear all the time etc - every day for a week. Well, I feel I'm cheating a bit, or at least not following the rules really, as I'm using the Megan Nielsen Brumby skirt, which I've only made once. But bear with me please, I do wear the one version I have a LOT! Like at least once or twice a week. So to my view it's already a Tried & True pattern. I've also got my second version halfway sewn, and fabric for my third washed. The fitting took me quite a while to sort out but I think, hope, on this second version it's going to be spot on.  So hopefully this will give me the push to get sewing!

This is my much-loved Brumby. I Blogged about it before but to recap, I won the pattern on a giveaway by Amelia on her blog Veronica Darling and I bought this gorgeous pink twill fabric from Ray Stitch.
I wear it so much, I love the weight of the fabric, the big pockets, and of course the colour (I wear & sew a lot of pink!)

So I'm pretty excited about following along & seeing everyone else's makes. I'm sure they will be a lot more innovative than mine but I'm hoping this gives me a push to finish up the versions I have planned as I'm sure they'll do me into autumn too. Anyone else playing along?!

Monday, 22 August 2016

I made shorts!

I made some shorts!! I am taking this as my first step on my plan to make a pair of trousers - something I said I'd do this year, last year and probably the year before as well. Now I feel a bit more confident it might happen! Despite their imperfections (which I'll get to in a minute) I am so happy with these shorts. They are pink, of course. The cotton is a cotton sateen (I think) with a good bit of stretch and a lovely soft texture so they are very comfy. And they look good enough to wear out in public, not just in the garden. Their first outing was to the Appearing Room Fountains at the Southbank, where they survived getting soaked, and also dried pretty quickly. A win in my book! Apologies for the poor quality photos, I'll try and get a better one next time I wear them out.

The pattern is Burda Pleated Shorts 02/2013 #129. When I mentioned to one of my friends last summer that I wanted to try making some trousers she suggested I start with a shorts pattern and said she had one I could use. So I tried on her toile which fitted me fine and she then very kindly traced me out the pattern and photocopied the instructions from her magazine copy. These are a bit different to the pattern as they have a facing rather than a waistband. This is because my friend made them with a facing and traced me her facing pattern pieces too so I just went with this. Next time I'll try them with a waistband.

I used the guidelines for attaching the facing to the Meringue Skirt in the Colette Sewing Handbook and I also understitched to try and keep the facing flat. It still sticks up though,  I think I should have used a thinner fabric for the facing. I'm reasonable happy with the zip. I tried to put the zip slightly higher up as the instructions say you need to attach a hook & eye above the zip, which I don't like the look of. In my attempt to do this I've ended up making the sides uneven. However I don't really care to be honest, I mean obviously I'll try better next time but I will be wearing these with a t-shirt covering the waist so nobody will ever see it but me. Thinking about it now I think that, with the facing rather than the waistband, the zip would have been fine where it was.  On the plus side the crotch seam (which of course no one will see!) is matched up pretty perfectly. Recently I've really been starting to feel some improvements in my sewing and making these feels like an important step. Trousers no longer seem quite so scary!

You can see the uneven waist here.
Details -
Pattern: Burdastyle Pleated Shorts 02/2013 #129
Size: Not sure as my friend traced out the size she had used.
Fabric & notions: Bright (very bright!) pink cotton (possibly a cotton sateen, definitely with some stretch) was a gift from the same friend who traced me her pattern (aren't I lucky?!).  Pink thread from stash (bought for Brumby skirt). The lovely pink fabric in the pockets is possibly a Rayon, it was a remnant I bought years ago and it's nice to finally use some of it.
Were the instructions clear: Hmmn kind of. I've made so many toddler Sunny Day shorts now that I was confident enough putting them together. Except for the pockets. I've never sewn pockets like this before, I think they're called yoke pockets? Oh and of course I tried to attach the pockets to the back, numerous times! Because the darts are on the back pieces I kept mistaking them for the front (which has pleats) so of course I couldn't get the pockets to fit. Once I realised my mistake though it wasn't too bad. Though I think if I hadn't had my friends toile version to refer to I might have struggled more.
Any changes I'd make next time: Next time I'll try and make them with the waistband.
Total cost: No cost at all!

Perfect seam matching!

Pretty pockets.