Learning Points from The Shirt (see previous post)

During the 6 month journey of ‘making the shirt’ I learned some really useful tips for clothes sewing clothes.  I don’t want to forget these so I’m documenting them and if only one of them helps another beginner I will be pleased to share.

  • Somewhere on the pattern sleeve (at least for the Simplicity pattern I used) is shown the finished measurements of the garment.  Ta Dah! I can see where it needs adjusting to my requirements e.g. longer in body / arms, looser.
  • Iron the paper pattern pieces on a low setting before pinning them for cutting out.  This removes the folds and does make the pinning and cutting out easier and more accurate.
  • It is worth the time and effort to make a sample, not just for fit and adjustments but to get used to the pattern instructions (destructions as a friend calls them)
  • Make notes for any alterations made – if making a sample by the time I got to the real garment I would not have been able to remember.  And if you are planning to make more garments from the pattern you will need the notes.
  • Personally I don’t like interfacing in my soft cotton shirts – this would have been an expensive experiment on the real material!
  • If you are using iron-on interfacing don’t use tailor tacks as they won’t come out!
  • When top stitching on the outside use a longer stitch length e.g. 3 on my Bernina machine
  • When pinning put the pins vertical with the head outside the material – this makes easing curves more successful and they are easy to remove when sewing (if you’ve not tacked).  And many more pins on curves than you think is needed.
  • Tack with small stitches – on the seam line to check for fit.  Small stitches don’t come undone!  In my youth I hated tacking but now I see the benefit.
  • Layering of seams with more than 2 layers such as the collar and yoke.  The seam closest to the body is the trimmed the most, the next a little less and so on.
  • Trim all seams – for a corner cut off the corner point then take a little more off each side.  This reduces the bulk quite considerably.
  • Buttonhole markings need to be on the outside of the material – I put mine on the inside so had to re-mark.
  • Sew on the buttons with your machine, if it has this program.  They don’t come off!  Most of the buttons I sewed onto the sample came off during trying on! Oh and if your button has a design pay attention to the direction of the button when sewing it on.  Mine had a tree design and I sewed on about half upside down so had to re-sew them.
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The Expensive Shirt Saga

This has been my FIRST excursion into clothes making.  This is a lengthy saga so please read all of it!

Back in the summer (around June) I went to a local knitting afternoon ‘fete’ with a couple of friends.  There were a few stall including a lady advertising her small sewing classes.  I had been toying with attempting to make a shirt and I got really excited about these weekly classes and decided to join.  One of the stalls had really nice buttons so I bought buttons for the shirt, then we visited a local fabric shop to get a pattern and the material.  All seemed well!!.  I started the classes and the tutor explained reading a pattern and agreed to me making a sample (toile) which I started.  I think there were 5 weeks before the summer school holidays when classes stopped.  By the last week the sample was almost finished – having had to adjust the front band so the shirt wasn’t so tight across my body.  I sewed the sleeves in on the last day and tried it on -DISASTER – the sleeves pulled under the arms.  In the last 15 minutes the tutor suggested changing the shape of the sleeve top and drew a diagram.

I knew I couldn’t do this on my own so I hunted out another tutor with weekly classes, and started going on a Wednesday morning, which was convenient for me.  So I turned up with a non-fitting sample – I did feel for the tutor, but she wasn’t fazed and had some alternate suggestions.  First the back collar/yoke was undone and the mid back pleats re-distributed, and sew back together.  That didn’t help.  Then one sleeve was taken out and it’s gathers re-arranged – SEVERAL TIMES!.  Still pulled.  I think at this point (although it could have been elsewhere in the saga) the shoulders were taken up, which did help.  By now we were in about week 5 (I think!).  That sleeve felt alright, so I tried to replicate the changes in the other sleeve.  I think that went fairly smoothly and the sample was OK.

Hooray, I started on the actual material version.  Several weeks later I had the shirt almost finished with the sleeves in, and tried it on.  THE SLEEVES PULLED!! at the front underarm so one sleeve came out again and sewn back in a couple of times (I forget how many) with various versions of distributing the fullness.  Eventually having the fullness evenly distributed seemed to be ok.  On to sleeve 2; several attempts to stitch it back in neatly it was in.  Tried in on the second sleeve PULLED!!.  At this point I really wanted to give up.  The tutor took pity and re-stitched it in and it was OK!!!. That was at the end of October – which is month 5!!!.  I then had a week off for the house decorators.  On return the collar got put on under advice as I couldn’t make sense of the instructions (again).  This week should have been the buttonholes but I’d run out of the correct colour thread and it hadn’t arrived!.  Yesterday I did the buttonholes and today sewed on the button (using the machine which I’ve never done before ) so

IT IS NOW FINISHED – 6 months of paid weekly classes later.

And yes, I am ready to start the next project next week (foolish of me).

Patchwork Woolen Blanket

This was another of the Unstarted Objects that I came across whilst recently tidying up.  Many years ago I bought quite a lot of off-cut woolen strips and made some into 2 large patchwork cushion covers.  I had intended to use the rest for a blanket.  Rather than just put them away again I decided to sew them up – this only took me 2 days elapsed.  There was no real design involved for the centre– I sewed the similar sized strips together then pieced the remainder around the outside.  Then I realised it needed binding.  In amongst the fabric collection was a pair of woolen trousers that turned out a failure as the size was all wrong.  Once dismantled there was more than enough to bind the blanket.  A finished object!!

Peacock Feathers Fused Glass

I am pleased with how my first fused glass creation turned out – thanks to Vitreus Art of course.  I wasn’t motivated to try fusing until I saw a painting in Vitreus Art of a peacock, and ‘bing’ there was my inspiration – peacock feathers.  Not being a natural artist regarding drawing I was unsure how I would be able to replicate my pencil designs (with a lot of rubbing out!) into the fusing techniques.  The day was really relaxing and fortunately my hands didn’t shake too much whist drawing the lines.

Sampler Quilt – My First Quilt

I have just needed to repair one of the corner appliqued hearts on this quilt and realised I never shared it.

I am proud of this quilt – back in 2010 it was the first quilt I sewed on my own, without constant advice and instruction.  The pattern was a ‘block a month’ from Threads and Patches with a choice of colourways, so the elapsed time to make it was over a year.  Following some of block instructions was challenging and I called upon my sewing guru for assistance several times.  The layout was pre-set; if I made this again I would put the blocks together differently.  The binding and backing fabric was my choice.

Strangely not long after my friend had received it (a year after I said I would make her a quilt of course!), one of the American tv programmes showed a scene with a similar quilt!.

 

Appliqued Paper Pieced Hexagon quilt

This project was another ‘memory quilt’ for a friend, whose mother had already made a number of paper pieced hexagon flowers.  She had clearly planned to make more as there were more hexagons already cut out.  I thought it a shame if this didn’t get completed, but after discussion with a sewing friend we thought it would be best finished in a different way.  No least because to make a whole quilt out of just hexagon would take me a LONG time!.   The plan was for

  • a square quilt – approximate end size 44” X 44”
  • The four already constructed ‘flowers’ in a square separated by cream backing (see below) .  These each have 7 rosettes each
  • The additional rosettes made from the loose hexagons around the outside of the central ‘flowers’ separated by cream
  • The ‘flowers’ and rosettes will be appliqued onto cream calico. as white proved to be too stark against the bright colours.
  • Backing – the same cream calico.
  • After arranging the flowers and rosettes, there was one hexagon over which was added to the label.

Quilted in cream thread, around each hexagon with some additional hexagon outlines in-between some. The centre hexagon of most rosettes was quilted inside in the same thread colour as the hexagon.

I used self binding, and had to look up how to do the mitred corners. Machine stitched down in cream thread.

Time taken: 65 hours

Elapsed time was 6 months from April to August.

Making up the additional rosettes took me 25 and a half hours.

Layout:  1 hour 30 minutes

Applique:  12 hours 50 minutes

Quilting:  18 hours 15 minutes

Binding: 2 hours 50 minutes

Label: 4 hours

3 Robins ready to fly

More knitted birdies from Sue Stratford https://www.suestratford.co.uk/ . A friend asked for one but I didn’t have any brown wool.  A sewing friend passed on hers which were in different weights – hence the different sizes!.  I am trying to use up not buy more!. I ran out of the safety eyes so baby has just french knots. One robin has flown.

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