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.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Bow and arrows quilt

This is the Bow & Arrows quilt pattern from Suzy Quilts and I can't believe this is the best photo I got of the finished quilt as I absolutely love it! I'll need to ask the recipient if I can take some better photos next time I'm back in Scotland. Even from these photos you can see how well it turned out. I had so much fun sewing it up, especially hand-sewing the binding on in the sun in my dad's garden!

Soaking up the sun, ready for hand stitching the binding.
This is the baby quilt size and I totally copied the colour way Suzy gives in the PDF pattern.  I was so pleased when I remembered I had these blue & yellow fabrics in my stash as they look so good together. The backing fabric is brilliant too, Retro Rockets by Michael Miller. It took me a while to find this online and I ordered 2 metres of it from Cloth Ears.  I'm considering buying more as I just love it and it's perfect for baby quilts! The white fabric is a lovely quality sheet from a charity shop which cost the princely sum of £2!

Backing fabric - Retro rocket by Michael Miller
Imperfect lines
One thing I've realised with quilt making - I am so not a perfectionist!! In fact I like imperfections.  When I started machine quilting this I was worried about getting the lines perfectly straight. Then I decided to treat it just as I would if I was drawing - that is just go for it. My lines are not all straight or uniform but I really like how this looks.  My mum used to do really wonderful pen line drawings and I always loved how strong and decisive her lines were even though, or perhaps because, they weren't all uniform.
I followed the pattern exactly (as you can see!) which worked out well mostly. The only issue I had was the lengths given for the border pieces. It instructs you to cut 4 of the same length which obviously isn't' necessary as you have 2 shorter sides, and weirdly the length you are to cut is too long for the short sides and too short for the longer sides! So I ended up having to cut and join a few times. I think next time I'll work out what lengths I need for sides and top & bottom and cut accordingly.  I used 1/4" seam allowance throughout which I think is standard for quilting but it doesn't mention seam allowance in the pattern (though Suzy does discuss it in this great post on advice on quilting). Updated - I just noticed that in the Suzy Quilts shop it does state 1/4" seam allowances for the pattern, I just never noticed this before.

I wasn't very keen on the basic method for making Flying Geese as it creates quite a bit of waste. Well it won't be waste as I intend to try and use them in a scrappy quilt. However I think if I made this again I would try and use the no-waste method, which she explains in the pattern too.
Flying geese - you can see all the wasted fabric on the left.
I also had a few issues this time with machine quilting. I don't have a special foot so I was just using the straight stitch foot with a 2 1/2 - 3 stitch length.  I found that I got quite a bit of gathering of the fabric. This might have been because the fabrics I used were thicker than my last quilt, or maybe because I was quilting more lines but I realised I really need to give my free motion embroidering foot a go for this.  And maybe ask for a walking foot for my Christmas! I've also realised you get special needles for machine quilting, and special threads, so I'll try these out too. Always so many things to learn! If anyone has any tips I'd love to hear them as I'm such a beginner to quilt making! Also if anyone has any particular quilt designers or artists they like please let me know as I'm having such a great time finding out more about improvised quilting, the history of quilt making, and all the different artists out there working in quilts.

Machine quilting