Thursday, 3 November 2016

Brumby #2

This post has been sitting written in my drafts folder for over a month. I kept waiting to get better photos of this skirt but I waited so long it's now winter and, as I won't wear this again till the spring, I'm just going to post with the photos I have. I hope you can still see what a gorgeous skirt it is even though I've got no decent close-up images.
Also, this must be a recent record - two makes in a row that aren't pink! It is a repeat pattern though, what you could also called a Tried and True pattern for me, the Megan Nielsen Brumby. I just can't help myself, I love this pattern so much!  This version has fast become a wardrobe staple too and, because I've lined it, I'm sure it will continue to get worn through the autumn/winter as well (EDIT - I've decided I don't really like to wear full skirts like this with tights so chances are I won't wear my Brumby's again till spring).  It is so satisfying to add pieces to my wardrobe that get worn so much so quickly and I am ever so pleased with both my new Brumby's (see my other one here)!

Once I'd sewn up the skirt pieces and got ready to gather it I realised it was much more sheer than I had initially thought so decided I better line it.  Luckily I had enough of the same fabric to line it with as I didn't have anything else suitable.  After some consultation on Instagram I decided to go with advice to gather skirt and lining together to reduce bulk, and ensure the gathers were in the same place.  This all went so smoothly, except that for some reason I never overlocked the seams on the lining (this fabric frays so much!) so of course after a few wears they were coming apart. I had to do some repair work with a tiny zigzag stitch and an overlock stitch and hopefully that's it saved now.  It is so nice to make a pattern up more than once - it is a good way of building sewing confidence and trying out little changes. With this version I decided to have a go at the exposed zip. I used the tutorial on Megan Nielsen's website but had a bit of trouble with the length and ended up with a wee hole at the bottom of the zip, which I darned over. Asides from that I also find that the exposed zip doesn't stay closed at the top so at present have a hidden safety pin at the back which I really should replace with a hook and eye. I'm not sure why it doesn't stay shut, it could be because my zip doesn't quite go to the top, or that the zip is too heavy for the fabric, or that I used a second hand zip that might be a bit faulty? Who knows, who cares?! No one else will notice but me and the safety pin works fine for now.

Details -
Size: S. This time I cut a size S all over, used the recommended 1.5cm seam allowances, except when joining front & back waistband, where I used 1cm. One thing I'd say about the size, it is a very fitted waistband. It sits quite high up so you really are measuring your actual waist as opposed to where a lot of modern trousers and skirts would sit. I always found this quite confusing when I started sewing as it means your waist measurement is usually less than what you would think going by the size of jeans you might normally buy. I think this is why I went with the size M when I made my first version and although I like where it sits I think the intended higher waist position of my second and third versions are much more flattering.
Fabric & notions: This purple fabric has been sitting in my stash so long that I have no idea where it came from or when I got it.  There was about 2 metres and it's quite silky to the touch - maybe a rayon or a cotton/rayon blend? I have no idea really. I wasn't too mad about this shade of purple up close to my face so I vetoed my early plans to make a dress from this and decided a skirt would get more wear anyway.  The pocket fabric is the same as I used for the pockets on my first pair of Burda pleated shorts, possibly a Rayon, a remnant also bought years ago from Ray Stitch.  I used a lovely golden yellow metal zip I picked up in a charity shop for 25p (I bought a bunch of them!) and I bought purple thread.

Close-up of pocket - you can see the nice pocket lining fabric here too.

Were the instructions clear
: Yes. When making my first Brumby I thought the waistband instructions should have been clearer re which end is top and bottom.  However looking at it now I can see it's fairly obvious as it's a contoured waistband so it's narrower at the top than the bottom.
Any changes I'd make next time: I've already made this a third time and the only change I made was to do a centred zip rather than exposed.
Total cost: approx. £15/20 (I have no idea how much the fabric cost but I don't usually spend more than £10 a metre).

Sorry for the headless bathroom shot, but it does show the lovely big pockets and the flattering waistband.

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?!