Make the fabric your own – The reveal

I started quilting my fabric on Saturday morning. As I went along, it was becoming more and more apparent it wasn’t going to be a skirt. It couldn’t, it was just too stiff, so I had to come up with plan B. The obvious garment for the fabric was a simple jacket, but I didn’t have enough fabric for sleeves, nor did I want such a bulky fabric around my arms. I stopped half way through the quilting and made a trip to Goldhawk Road, entered the first shop and asked for fake leather, they had a perfect dark brown which I bought and ran back home. There went two hours I could’ve spent sewing, but at least the weather was nice and I got to see the sun.

I wanted to finish the jacket and take the pictures on Sunday even though the deadline is Tuesday night, but it was my only chance to take pictures in daylight. I woke up early and started a muslin on Burda 126-08-2014. No collar, no pockets, just the front, back and 2 piece sleeve. I’m really happy I took the time to test the pattern, there were a lot of changes I needed to do – narrow the shoulders, lift the right side at the shoulder front on the neck side, shorten the armscye and sleeve cap (which I think would’ve looked better if I kept the cap sleeve length and changed only the width to make it fit the new armscye length), lengthen the bodice below the waist, widened the neckline, and I think that’s it. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for a 1 day jacket. Next time I’ll do better.

The front pattern had a bust dart but the fabric was too bulky to add a dart. I gathered the wool at the sides around the dart area and steamed it shorter. So even thought there are no darts the bust area is shaped nicely.

I trimmed the neckline, center front and hem with strips of the fake leather I used for the sleeves. The side seams match and the seam allowances are bound with the silk I quilted the wool on.

This felt like a marathon, I am sew exhausted now. I’ll go have another glass of wine and not sew for another week. Here are ‘a few’ pictures of the end result which make me really happy. I think it was worth it.

‘Make the fabric your own’ – the second round of Pattern Review Sewing Bee

The announcement for the second challenge left me stumped. ‘Embellish or alter some fabric to make it your own’. Aha. Ok. What now?

I think painting could’ve been the quickest, and with some decent skills can be pretty impressing (see here). I stress the ‘I think’ because I’ve never done it so I have no idea. I’d like to try it at some point, but a limited time challenge wasn’t the right moment to start.

My mind was set on boiled wool and I wanted to make a jacket. I thought about applique, reverse applique, discreet or full on Alabama Chanin, yarn stitching and needle felting, cross stitching at the hems or around all edges but I couldn’t imagine any of these ending up like something I’d wear.

I then went through my fall sewing list (mentally, I don’t have it on paper) and remembered (this post helped) I wanted to make a tartan half circle skirt. Still with the boiled wool in mind I decided to give it a try. My initial plan as to use dark green, navy and black, to simulate the black watch tartan. But I didn’t find the right colours in the shop (Saeed in Waltamstow, I knew they had boiled wool) and online shopping wasn’t an option given the time constraints. I looked at all the wools for probably half an hour before I picked dark green, brown and cream.

I cut strips of 1/2, 1 and 2 inches and started weaving them. It was a long and tedious project, trying to keep everything square and in place, so a lot of pinning an basting happened. I finally finished tonight and I now have a cosy little blanket, roughly 145cm X 75cm.

more fun awaits, all those basting threads need to disappear

This is going to be quilted tomorrow on a piece of silk, I’m going to topstitch all strips edges, so I expect to go through a lot of bobbins. I’ll load half a dozen before I begin :). I quilted a small sample tonight and it looks like the final fabric might be a little too stiff. I’ll still try a half circle skirt, and if it’s too Judy Jetson, I’ll just chop the flare off and make it a-line. We’ll see!

quilted sample

I’ll have to try and keep the skirt clean for as long as possible. Drying the fabric in one layer took 2 days. I can’t imagine how long it will take now with 2 woven layers and the lining stitched to them.

I’m happy with my idea and how things look so far, but after working on it every night this week my view is meant to be biased. There’s no time to edit though, we just have to go with our gut. I would’ve never tried something like this if it wasn’t for this contest, so there’s a win right there (cliche, I know), I stretched myself to come up with a concept and put it in practice.

Pattern Review Sewing Bee – The JJ made it to round2!!!

My top made it to round two!! There were almost 150 entries, most of them very good, and I’m one of the lucky 50 who were selected to continue.

I have never used such a delicate fabric, I have always avoided it because it’s so daunting. However, I knew that if I wanted to have a chance to go to the next round, I had to challenge myself. I starched the fabric to make it a little stiff and easier to cut and sew. I then carefully stitched the vertical seams to check the fit. I wanted to treat this fabric with the care it deserved, so I finished the seams with the fake french method. All vertical seams and the shoulder seams are finished like that. The neckline and sleeves binding are hand stitched to the back of the blouse and the hem is hand rolled. Because of the gathers, I couldn’t fake french the sleeve seam at the armscye, so I ran a double line of stitching 1/4inch apart and then ran a wide and long zig zag around to prevent unraveling. The blouse closes with 6 bobble buttons spaced ever 2.5 inches. The button bands are cut with the fronts and folded twice. There is no topstiching, the buttonholes, buttons and top binding plus hem hold the bands folded. I chose to do this so the blouse remains as delicate as possible, with no visible seams. The buttonholes are the only stitches that are visible from the right side of the blouse.

I must say it is the nicest blouse I have ever had/worn. It feels very soft against the skin and it flows and moves with the body.

For round 2 we need to make the fabric our own. I thought about applique, reverse applique, couching, quilting, but in the end decided to do some sort of weaving. It’s not something I’ve seen or done before, so I’m not sure how good it will look in the end, but I decided to take this risk. We’ll see how it goes.

A spotty JJ for PR sewing bee

A few weeks ago the new PR Sewing Bee contest was announced and I decided to join. I don’t remember why I didn’t enter last year, but I did watch it and it seemed like a lot of fun. Contests and challenges are big motivators for me, so this year I say ‘Bring it on!’

The first round challenge started yesterday and I did not expect a fitted blouse as the first project. They are supposed to get more complex every week, so I wonder – will a tailored jacket be the last challenge? 😀

I am going to make another BurdaStyle JJ – I’ve made it before and it fits nice. I am a little rounder than last time I made it, but I’ve made it with seam allowances a little larger than 5/8 last time and I am making it with 3/8 SA this time. There are 6 vertical seams adding up to a total difference of 3 inches, enough to fit with 1.5-2 inches of ease around the bust.

The fabric I chose is a very light satin backed silk crepe – it was a gift from a lovely friend I met online and then in real life (Servus, Olga!). I starched it to make cutting and sewing easier. It didn’t transform into quilting cotton, but it is easier to handle after starching. I don’t think the stand collar would look good in this fabric, I lowered the neckline and I will bound it with bias. The neckline is now 2 cm wider, 1 cm lower in the back and 11 cm lower in front. Somebody tried it before me successfully so I can be sure it will look nice.

I was going to make ‘real’ french seams, but I couldn’t sew the fabric with a narrow 1/4” seam allowance without it shifting under the presser foot. I am now slowly going through all the seams fake frenching them.

I want to have no visible seaming on the right side of the blouse, a lot more hand sewing will be needed  – fixing the bias on the back of the neckline, the same for sleeves (I’m not making cuffs) and invisible rolled hem. But I am on holiday and we have to stay around the house, so I have plenty of time for that.

The buttonholes will show though, not sure what I can do about that. I could’ve done loops, but I didn’t think of them early enough and now it’s too late. I have these dainty bobble buttons in red and light purple, I’m not sure which ones I’ll use yet. None of them matches perfectly, but there’s no way I can get to a haberdashery before the challenge closes. I might change them after.

Are you doing this? You can join anytime before the challenge closes on September 7th.