Thursday, 28 April 2016

Leather coat - inspiration. The power of teens.

I am still serious about this authenic-ness or should that be authenticity of being. Whichever!
I am still analysing my own style. Or what I percieve as my own style and as a result am also tempted to attempt to make this or something very similar:

Steampunk trench:
I would not bother with the bondage straps across the back but I really like this jacket. Loads of details and could give me a serious challenge. I reckon I have enough fabric, I just need to bodge together two patterns I already own and be a bit creative with my faux leather before I use it all up on small projects. I could see myself wearing something like this but I simply could not justify the expense of buying it. Maybe 30 years ago when I was an extravagant teenager but not now. It is funny really how you have a higher income as an adult to that of a teen but you do not really have the spending power a teen does simply because by the time you earn more you have rent or mortgage to pay, bills to pay, other people who depend upon you not messing it all up. Really, when you are a teenager, that is when you are weathiest in your entire life. Or so it was for me. I just wish I had realised it then.
I also have some other similar coats saved to my pinterest page:
multi faux leather?:    steampunk:
The first is actually more practical then my dream design above since it fastens up all the way down where-as the top one just does up to the waist. The last coat is basically just a pirate costume and there are lots of patterns for them around like this one:

SIMPLICITY SEWING PATTERN Misses Pirate Costumes  SIZE 6 - 20 3677The coat in this pattern looks quite simple to make but again only does up to the waist.  So what I really want to make is a fusion of the three styles.

So what do I want to make here:
  • I do want it to fasten up all the way down if possible.
  • I like the military looking top of the first pattern
  • I want the back pleats similar to the top jacket 
  • I want to use faux leather
  • I have very little black faux leather so it has to be green leather because I have about 5-6m of that
  • I could have trims done in red or black leather

 I am intending to have a go at making this jacket as soon as I finish making my cullottes: 23: Khaki cullottes
Yes I know I started them ages ago. I just seem to keep getting side tracked into making something else.

To be continued

Thanks for reading and come back soon for how I will make this coat.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

30: Summer coat

 There are several objectives behind this make.
  • I have decided if I am going to keep on blogging I need to be more part of the sewing community and less a lone sewist. 
  • I wanted to take part in the April challenge with The Monthly Stitch.
The problem is I hate wearing florals so what can I do?
  • I have already defined my need to be more authentic in my clothing makes so that I actually want to wear the stuff I am making. 
  • Lastly, I want to make a coat for spring/summer. 
I have loads of upholstery fabric in my stash. Some is very heavy weight but others are lighter weight resembling cottons and silks. Most of the pieces I do not know the fibre content though. Lots of upholstery fabric is based on floral designs when you look at it closely so I can use this and take part in the challenge. Then,  I went through all my huge pattern collection only to decide I do not have enough of the fabric I want to use for any of the patterns so I decided to keep it really simple and self draft. I have made this style of coat several times before so although I am not the best sewist around I am resonably confident I can pull this off.

My outside fabric is a silk like brocade ( I think that is how it would be described) in a dark mustard with burgundy and forest green spots woven through it:

I cut the main fabric into rectangles and decided I want the coat as long as possible - like a duster coat but no back slits since I am not actually a cowboy so will not be using this on a horse! 

I folded the fabric piece in half and then in half again giving four thicknesses with the selvedges together. If this is then cut down the side where there is NO OPEN EDGES this gives me the two front pieces and one back piece. I made the front pieces slightly wider so there are cut on front facings.

Here you can see where the neck is and the shoulders are shaped. The neck is the bigger shaping at the bottom!

Now I needed to make a decision because if I want a hood, and I do, I cannot get both the hood and sleeves from what I have left of this fabric so what to do to make this work? I decided as follows:
I cut a reasonable hood from the Burda style 01/2016 oversized hoody pattern. Having made this pattern several times now I know the hood is a reasonable size. I hate jackets with small hoods because I like to be able to use them when it rains - which is pretty often in the UK. This left me a piece of fabric for the sleeves below:

That did not quite leave me enough fabric for sleeves  (all that was left is shown above) and it makes little difference whether I follow the grain of fabric and use the narrow bit, or go against the grain and use the wide bit. I held the fabric both ways and then made the decision to break all rules ( well this IS my design after all so there are NO RULES) and cut the sleeve bits as wide as posible which means against the grain. Next, I have this faux suede in turquoise which kind of co-ordinates so I cut two traingles from this to make the sleeves the right size.

These are my sleeves:

I cut the mustard spot fabric double so I have a centre fold and the suede single so I will have a seam underneath the sleeve and another seam where the suede joins the brocade.

This leaves me with two smallish bits of fabric that can maybe become patch pockets so I keep them safe till I decide what exactly to use them for.

 Now for the lining:

This is my floral bit: Its a sort of gold shimmery fabric with a print that looks like embroidery in a floral design. I think it will make a nice lining as well as make the coat reasonably warm without being too heavy. I cut identical parts for the front and back and the hood but when it came to the sleeves I have again run out of fabric. Or I do but really was hoping to make a matching skirt so I have reserved a small piece for this. I was hoping though have enough to make turn back cuffs in the floral fabric to take advantage of the loveliness of my fabric then I can co-ordinate it all together. However when I measured I did not have enough without considerably narrowing my sleeves so I had to abandon that idea and just go with normal sleeves.  I do not think it will really matter that much and I would rather have the matching skirt. So because of keeping this small piece for a skirt I am now going to use regular pale green lining fabric for the sleeves since there is really no need for my sleeve lining to match the reast of the coat lining where it will not be seen. So I am going to cheat a bit here. I do need to line my sleeves because my fake suede has a kind of PVC backing which I think is probably waterproof but will not be nice to wear next to my skin.

So having cut everything out I got to sewing up. First the shoulders which I added some top stitching to. Partly to strengthen them but also as decoration. Once the front and back were together I hung onto Harriet ( my dressform) and decided I had cut my neck far too wide. To remedy this I added a back pleat. Maybe should have ironed it! It looked fine at that time but read on. Then I sewed up the back of the hood and did the same with the lining. Then I pinned the hood and hood lining onto the main body fabric. I pinned these in place  and decided where I want to put my button holes which I am going to use for my pull-cord on my hood.

 Not quite even on each side of the pleat!

I have never used my automatic buttonhole foot before so this next bit was a big learning curve. I did several test buttonholes then went for it.

Sadly one of them is slightly off-centre which won't matter but the other is incomplete. I do not know why but it is. I will repair by hand at the end rather than try to redo it. I have no more of either my lining or main fabric for a second hood so this I will have to live with. I doubt it will be noticeable to anyone but me anyway.

Not enough fabric for the turn-back cuffs - see below!

Next sewed up my sleeves so that each sleeve has three panels and is the right shape. At this point I got into trouble. The first sleeve went together fine. No problems whatsoever. The second sleeve was a complete pig and I really do not know why. The fake suede which has a PVC backing decided to ruffle up every time I tried to sew it. I wondered if the fake suede has a direction and had I cut it the opposite way but it did not seem to have and I do not know if I cut it differently. Bearing in mind it is similar to fake leather ( or real leather ) I really do not want to sew and then unpick and re-sew too much. As it happens the stitches I unpicked do not really show on the right side but I wonder about how the fabric will wear having been sewed and unpicked several times. Anyway, having re-sewed several times and tried tissue paper which did not work and changed the tension which did not work, I eventually got it sewed up. I have about 20m of this suede so perhaps I should buy a teflon coated presser foot. Or maybe I should just sell it on Ebay! Anyway after finally getting the sleeves sew together I cut the lining for the sleeves since now I finally have what I hope to be the complete sleeve shapes. 

Then inserted the sleeves onto the shoulders of the main front/back piece. I hung the whole thing back onto Harriet and checked it looked reasonably OK. 

I think it could be wearable. I sewed up sleeve and the side seams and then the sleeve lining seams. Then I attempted to try on to check the sleeve lengths and cut the edge off the sleeve linings to shorted them a bit so they will be inside and not seen. I attached the sleeve lining to the edge of each sleeve and put the whole thing back on Harriet inside out.

 I pinned the sleeve linings to check they would ( hopefully!) go in OK.

Then I sewed up the front and back lining pieces and zigzagged to stop them fraying since this fabric frayed lots.
The main body fabric I skipped zigzagging since I decided it will not be seen and I really do not think this is going to be a heirloom jacket and I want to complete the challenge. I know its a total cheat/bodge.............whatever! Anyway I did zigzag the lining. I am now wondering if my machine may have a problem too since when zigzagging it is skipping stitches but I will just have to wait and see on that score. Eventually, having re-started and re-set my machine I got the zigzagging done. This model re-sets itself each time you turn off and on which is very handy if you have been playing around with the tension. I pinned the lining on top of the main body on Harriet and had to add a centre back pleat here as well. At this point I tried on and showed to my partner who said my (outside - mustard dotty fabric) back pleat looked a bit funny. I was worrying the extra fabric in the lining would make the whole back stick out weird but apparently that is not the problem. So now I did not know what to do next.

 This back pleat on the lining is inverted to the main body bit and I think it looks better.

I am now considering un-doing my original back pleat and hood and re-doing it the other way round. Maybe sew it down so it meets the waist? I am never sure what is an inverted pleat or what isn't but either way I think if I invert the type of pleat I have made, it might look better. The lining back pleat does look better I think than the main body back pleat. Could be the fabric though?


Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

29: Burda 6722 Black dress

Well I am getting better at sewing. No doubt about it! I had a third attempt at the Burda 6722 pattern  
Burda Ladies Easy Sewing Pattern 6722 Tops & Dress (Burda-6722)

and this time it has worked out: My first attempt I managed to rescue to make my
13: Red dress or long top
My second attempt I messed up again and is currently sitting in a bag of fabric waiting for me to get my courage up to have another go at it. Partly it is me not understanding what the pattern is on about but not entirely. I could not get what the instructions were saying about how to do the neck. Suddenly I got it. Well to be completely honest I woke up at about 2am and realised where I am going wrong. Talk about a moment of enlightenment! 
Anyway, having ruined two good pieces of fabric in my two previous attempts, this time I started with really cheap fabric and I competely ignored the sizing chart. If I go by my measurements I need a size 12 but that was huge. I made the red dress in a 12 and then tried to take it in but it just ruined it completely so I then took it appart and recut it into a 10. Then next attempt ( I have not blogged this one yet) I cut lovely purple fabric in a size 10 and again I could not get it to look any good at all. It just did not work. I had gaping necklines and the body was just too huge. Taking it in at the sides simply does not work and I just could not make this pattern fit me. I was completely blaming myself and my inexperience.
Then I read two articles by other bloggers who had had similar problems with fit when using various different pattern brands. It seems every pattern company gives you directions to check your size and to go by your measurements not the size written on your RTW clothing. Fine. That makes sense and we all want to have clothing that fits us and flatters us and really the size on a label is not important. Or it really shouldn't be. Do we not all sew in order to look better and to have greater variety on designs that we have if we went to your average high street clothing store?
But it also seems the problems I am having are widespred enough for me to find two posts when I googled this problem. I suspect there are many others too but I read two and decided to continue sewing but take this on board. I am not alone.  Other bloggers have the same problem. All I need to do is work out which size I am for each pattern company I use and adjust as needed. Well so far I have not attempted any adjustments but eventually I probably will. I am just getting away with the patterns as I buy them. But now I know other people also find their clothing huge if they follow their measurements on the sizing charts I feel much better. The trouble though is if you cannot trust the size charts how do you know what size to make? I really do not want to waste any more fabric and although I managed to salvage my red dress and infact it is lovely to wear I would have liked to have made what I intended first time around and have less stress and not feel so useless when it all went wrong. One thing I have also realised is this pattern must be tight fitting else it simply does not work so a size 8 it is and my fabric was cheap so if I do mess it all up again not so much to lose.
One of the blog posts I read recently was saying to measure your pattern against existing clothing that fits and this makes sense so in future that is how I am going to do it. In this case however, I have already cut a 12 and a 10 so I went down a further size and cut this little black number in an 8 and it works. It fits. I am happy with it and the sense of achievement when it looked ok was just fantastic. Fantastic is not a word I am usually particularly fond of since I think some people just over use it but believe me this time I really did feel fantastic when this dress fitted me. I am not over keen on the fabric but as I said it was cheap and I just needed to do this and not be beaten by what is described as an "Easy" pattern. So here is my finished dress:

All I need to do now is salvage my other attempt at this dress and all will be even more fantastic!
Thanks for reading, 

Sunday, 17 April 2016

What to make next?

Now I am starting to struggle. I have a huge pattern collection. I have a large fabric stash and my list of "to make items" seems to grow bigger by the week. Infact my fabric stash has grown huge so that its now all stored in Ikea under bed storage bags to keep it clean because it doesn't fit in any cupboards. It is not however under the bed but stuck piled up in a corner of my room where it threatens to become an avalanche at any moment. The problem is I have great intentions to make this or that and keep collecting all and anything that may come in useful for this or that project but I simply do not have enough time what with working and just life in general to make even a quarter of what seems to be on my list. I have owned this Simplicity 2757 - Arkivestry Pattern  pattern for years and never got round to trying it. Today I read a review of it:

Its not a new post, its an old one, but still very useful to me. I find most of my hand made ( by me) clothing is simply not being worn so I decided a month or so ago to get to grips with my own style and try and make things I actually want to wear. This is surprisingly difficult when all patterns are so main-stream and frumpy in looks. That is until you look closer at their construction and get a bit arty - for want of a better description.

Anyway I have spent the last few weeks looking at loads of punk, emo, steam punk etc etc clothing and trying to work out how I can produce things for my own style. I do not want teenage clothing since I am certainly far too old for this but I desperately want to make clothing I genuinely want to wear. Not just the functional boring stuff that it seems I am meant to be making. So anyway I read this review about this pattern and have decided to give this a try. After all I already own it so I do not even need to by it and have lots of fabric that will work in this design. What I really want to do is use my faux leather to make some more "me" clothing because I really love my leggings that I made in three different colours of faux leather here: 25: Red faux leather trousers
 and here: 24: Red lace hoody - Burdastyle 01/2016 and black faux leather legging
 and here: 19: Green leather look leggings and have worn them loads but it seems a great shame to use all the faux leather I have just on trousers. I will wear them and love them but its just unadventurous so maybe time to make something a bit more challenging with it now I feel confident I can sew faux leather reasonably well. I am not sure I will ever find anymore of the faux leather fabric at an affordable price again because this was from ebay from Weston fabrics and was a bargain. Don't get me wrong, it still was not cheap but it was definitely cheaper than buying from a fabric store. I was pricing some up the other day and it was coming out at nearly £12 a meter. I have pieces ranging from 2m to 3.6m and never paid more than £6 for any piece I have and the red was really cheap at under £3 I think for 3 meters.

Make it in faux leather but which colour?: I reckon a leather corset top or even over dress would work so I am considering this right now. I just wonder if my sewing skills will be up to this kind of project because even when the pattern is advertised as "easy" I do not always find it to be easy for me to make.

Alternatively I have had this dress on my pinterest page for simply ages and would love to make it but so far have not decided on a pattern

I just love the straps. Very 80's! And quite simple to make. I would prefer to use a pattern though rather than attempt to draft my own because although some things work out fine when I self draft quite a few are mediocre and still others are unwearable and end up scrapped. Sad to waste my precious faux leather. So I am also trying to find a similar pattern from somewhere to recreate this dress.

So have you any ideas? What should I make with the rest of my faux leather? All ideas are welcome.
Thanks for reading:

Monday, 11 April 2016

28: Bug Dress and Mesh Top

I made this dress some time ago now from Ikea bugs fabric. I have never worn it till today. I decided to wear this at last since it seems such a shame to just leave it hanging in my wardrobe. I am also gaining confidence now that the clothes I am making will be wearable and not just fall to pieces once I step out of the house.

Its a basic shift dress with front and back darts. You can see it better here:

It is meant to have an invisible zip but I used a recycled one from another garment so its a normal zip in this dress not an invisible one and to be honest I do not yet kow how to put in an invisible zip. Its on my "to learn" list. I think it was a pattern which I got free with some sewing magazine or other. Possibly with Prima because I bought it for a while just for the free patterns before I discovered Burda which I think is much better value for money. I do not tend to buy "women's" magazines normally and am more likely to shed out my cash for a gardening mag but I do like Burda in recent years.

Anyway this was the very first dress I have made in about 25 years so I think it was quite an achievement. I also made it on a very dodgy old sewing machine which kept losing tension whilst making this. I have a better machine now.

I also made this mesh top: 

Its a kind of lacey ladder design mesh which you can see a bit better here:

It is made in the same way as my:
7: Dark navy top with a step by step tutorial guide to making
so has overlocked edges and hems and is really easy to make but surprisingly warm. I expect its that "string vest" effect where string fabrics are meant to make you warmer by trapping the air in the holey bits.

I think it goes quite well with my Bugs Dress. Means I can wear it on these nice spring days we have been having recently. My dress is a bit too summery really but with an extra layer it is far more wearable.

Thanks for reading. Hope you come back again soon,