Friday, 16 March 2018

B&W Stripe Knit Skirt

Ahh Molly, what a cruel mistress you are! You look so lovely on Lisa Comfort, but so terrible on me.

After my dreadful experience of the Striped Molly Dress, I am so relieved that I have been able to salvage something that I like from this fabric.
I had a large-ish square of fabric left, maybe 75 x 75 cm. I sewed the edges together into a tube shape (got those stripes matched!) and hemmed the bottom. Then I tried it on, to the length I wanted, and cut off the excess at the top at my natural waist. I then pinched out two darts at either side of the waist, and a small amount at the back seam. I managed to sew these on my overlocker and they came out pretty well. 

After that, I added a length of black elastic as the waistband, and wore it out for the afternoon.
I'm so relieved that I could bounce back quickly from the fail!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

B&W Stripe Jersey Molly Dress

This fabric is an interesting knit. It is a thin, black jersey with stripes of thicker white and grey jersey laid over the top. The stripes make actual tunnels because they are secured at the top and bottom of each stripe, but not in the middle. It gives a nice texture to the fabric, and makes it much weightier than the lightweight jersey underneath.
I bought 1.5m of it, with a Walkely Dress in mind. This pattern was attached to one of my Simply Sewing magazines, and is a simple knit shift, which they have belted for shaping. I am still interested in making this dress, but I need a stable knit, probably with a random geometric pattern, in a neutral colour scheme. 

All this being a long way of saying that I didn't make the intended pattern with this fabric. I have a RTW stripe dress with short sleeves, so I didn't really need two. I turned to the Molly Dress pattern from Sew Over It, but the fabric requirements are over two meters. 

I am so confused about fabric requirements. My 1.5m x 1.5m piece was plenty for the Molly, with leftovers to spare. I lie my pattern pieces upside down from one another and the pattern pieces fit in nicely, with the sleeve pieces fitting in underneath. Even with moving things about to be careful about stripe matching. 

I have cut the Molly pattern down to a size 8 to account for me not using the seam allowance with my overlocker. I like to keep the fabric running at the very edge, so the knife does almost no cutting. I find this gives me a lot better control than trying to hit a 1.5cm seam allowance with a knit fabric floating in the air. I found my previous Molly tops to be very spacious and I didn't think a stripe with some body would be the right sort of fabric with which to make a spacious dress.
After I put the dress together and tried it on, it still came up very large. I am, by no means, teeny tiny but even a size 8 seemed huge to me. I don't want negative ease, but this style should skim the body. I put the dress on inside out and pinned away the side seam ease. Almost an inch on either side, that's 4 inches of ease removed. I also took some ease out of the top of the shoulder. 

I struggled to match the stripes properly. The shoulder seams were the worst. I think parts of the fabric had stretched out so the front shoulder seams needed to be gathered into the back shoulder seams to get the stripes to match up. This means that my neckline is much wider than I wanted. I had to choose between having the seams match up, with the stripes not matching, or have the stripes touching and the front end almost an inch before the edge. I chose the stripes because that top of the shoulder seam is so big and so prominent that it would have been very jarring to have them not match.
Matching the stripes through the straight sides was much easier, especially the sleeves. But I still got one side wrong. I think my overlocker presser foot pressure was set too high and it was feeding the two layers unevenly.
I added about 2 inches to the length of the dress, but I took it all away, plus a bit extra. I think it is better to wear this on the short side, with tights, and give the eye a break from all the stripes.
I cut the neckband on the horizontal stripe. I find the vertical stripes too jarring, especially with the two-directional stripe on the sleeve. Conservative is my middle name here! I attached it with as much fabric as I could, in an effort to make the neckline fit tighter. But it is doing the funny, sitting-up-at-the-sides thing, and those sides are very wide indeed.
Having a pattern go badly is always the reason I lose my sewjo. I often feel like not finishing, or just stopping sewing all together. Lucily, this was quick to finish, and even quicker to get a pencil skirt out of the leftovers!
I am not really very happy with this dress. It seems like a tent on me, and I don't really have the figure to wear a body-con / stripe dress. Perhaps I should shorten it into a top? It would be a stunning dress on a skinny teenager. I can't see myself reaching for this of a morning. #fail

 Fabric: Fabricana, £12.76 
 Pattern: Sew Over It, used previously £0
 Notions: none
Total: £12.76 + a new skirt

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Red Fleece Zip Jacket

After the success of my pattern hacking on the Girl's Coco Dress, I decided to push the pattern even further and go for a zip up jacket. Big Sis needed a non-hoodie top for sports and I had this red fleece and this red separating zip so decided to make up my own pattern to suit them.

I decided to trim this jacket with new silver ribbing, the only thing I bought for this project. I had navy, but red and navy are their school PE kit. I think the silver looks sort of Italian. I have no idea why.

She chose the slightly smoother side for the right side and I used silver thread for the overlocker. 

Unfortunately, the separating zip that I had (bought from a charity shop on the Isle of Wight) wasn't long enough to make a turtleneck, which is what I wanted. This is a v-neck, and is a little too low to be truly practical. But still worth making, considering I had almost all the materials to hand, and no other plans for any of them. 

After studying some of my RTW zip up tops, I decided the order of construction should be:
  1. Sew shoulder seams together
  2. Set sleeves in to armscye
  3. Sew up side seams and under sleeve seams
  4. Add ribbing to cuffs and hem band
  5. Insert zip, leaving a small part not attached at the top of the zip
  6. Add neckline ribbing, reducing width so that it will finish at the top of the zip  
  7. Sew remaining inch of zip into place, meeting at neckline ribbing 
  8. Add band of bias binding to inside of zip seam to hide the raw edge of the ribbing and the top of the zip tape. Where they meet gets quite messy.

I loved putting in the separating zip! Easiest type of zip to insert ever! And I can't believe I changed my thread colour so the topstitching created by the bias binding was red through the body and silver for the ribbing. Too bad it was a terrible mess at the top of the back. I left it as is. 

She has gone on her trip now (sob!), and we didn't have time to get photos of her wearing it, so we will have to do that when she gets back.

 Fabric: very old, purchased 2011 to make Christmas crafts, £0
 Pattern: Simplicity 1584, used 7 times before, £0
  Zip: Charity Shop, 20p
  Ribbing: eBay, £5.25 
  Bias binding: Granny £0
Total: £5.45

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Cruella de Vil Costume

How appropriate that I sit here writing this while wearing a fur coat. It is so cold today that I dug out this coat that I bought from a junk shop in Italy and have been trying to get up the courage to refashion into a throw and cushion covers. But more on that here.

For now, we are working with faux fur and turning the Vampire Cape into something for Cruella de Vil to wear to school on World Book Day. This cape was particularly suitable for two reasons: one, because it has the red lining so is perfectly in keeping with Cruella's signature colours of black, white and red; and two, because it has a lovely large collar, to which I could add some fur trim.

I cut a piece of faux fur to the top collar pattern and sewed it on by hand. I didn't cut out the bottom curve of the collar at the neckline, but left it straight. This makes the collar stand up more at the back of the neck. Then I sewed the edges of the collar right sides together to make more of a Nehru collar which I thought was more in keeping with the times. Cruella needs to fasten it tight about herself and then she can be warm and cosy about her neck.

I trimmed the cuffs of the shirt with scraps of faux fur and she is wearing a spotted cotton dress to represent the Dalmatian skins that she so badly wants to wear. The wig was bought used from eBay and their school gloves are red, so they are being worn too, the pearls are my old beads.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Blush Bamboo Molly Top

I am so excited about this blush bamboo. I realise that it is not a great colour for my skin tone, but it is too pretty, and soft, for me to care (much). 

I got it from Fabricana in Vancouver. I can't resist taking an afternoon to go there when we visit once a year. They have lovely fabrics, at much better prices than in the UK. In advance of a visit this summer, I thought I had better get on and sew a few things from last year's stash (or the year before). This is the first, and it has been top of my queue for many months now. 

I have two bamboo fabrics, this one which is printed with tiny black swallows, and a plain blush. I decided to use the print for a top and the plain for a cardigan. I find the plains too clingy to wear easily. This stuff shows every lump and bump.
I chose the Molly Top from Sew Over It, My Capsule Wardrobe, City Break because it is a brilliant drapey knit top pattern. 
It was very easy, but I sure did dither about cutting into that fabric.
A few notes to remember, and mull over another day:
I had 1.4m of fabric and I could have used as little as 1m, without nap. 
I struggle with the seam allowance on the overlocker. I cut a size 10, and I overlock with almost no seam allowance. I have gone back and re-cut the paper pattern to a size 8 to account for this. There is still quite a lot of ease in the pattern. But in this very drapey fabric, I am happy with the fit of the top.

I mixed some sewing machine threads into the overlocker and used pink for the two upper needles. The loopers had black thread, which didn't show through on the right side at all. Only pink shows at the seam, so I'll definitely do this again, rather than buy more overlocker cones.

I added 1/4 inch to each side of the lower arm pattern piece and I am very happy with the width of the sleeves. I wouldn't want them any narrower. 
For some stupid reason (laziness?) I shortened the waist on the front pattern piece, but not the back. The back has fabric pooling where it is catching on my hips. Fixed the paper pattern now.

Bad neckband
I had to remove the neckband and reduce the width by the amount of the seam allowance. It was standing up, but the re-do made it sit flat. I kept the extra seam allowance on bodice neckline.

I removed 5cm from the hemline and just left a small 1cm hem. I overlocked and then zig zagged the hem.

 Fabric: £16.16 
 Pattern: used previously £0
 Thread: new job lot, £8.69
Total: £24.85

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

American Girl Molly Pyjamas

Emily Bennett is modelling a pair of, her friend, Molly's Pyjamas today.

These are from the back of the internet archives, where the AGD original patterns are available.

It is so much fun to see how different the original company was, before it was sold to Mattel. The clothes are far more historically accurate, but much less commercially appealing.

I have made Molly's Party Dress so I set about making her pyjamas too. These are not the same as the ones that were on sale with the Molly doll at the time she was last withdrawn from sale (Dec 2012). These are red and white stripes that happen to be the exact match with the girls school uniforms. So I have plenty of fabric to hand. I asked my fellow parents who run the second hand uniform sale if I could have any of their cast off shirts and summer dresses. These would normally go in the bin because they are too stained or worn out to sell as used. The winter shirts are especially good because the girls wear a pinafore over the top. The lower back and lower fronts of these are typically completely unmarked.
So I had my fabric and my pattern, and I really did need to get on with these to make the Emily doll some Molly pyjamas. 

I finally got the kick I needed when Youngest told me she was looking forward to seeing which of her dolls would be wearing a new outfit on the morning of her birthday. Oops! Nothing was planned! I realised I needed to get making in September to be on time for Christmas so that the elves could dress the dolls for Christmas morning. (In reality, I completely forgot I had these to give and she got them a month later for her birthday.) 

It is a very fiddly pattern. I find all the doll patterns fiddly, especially because of the 1/4 inch seam allowance. This one was the worst so far! The collar is part of the front bodice piece, so you have to make the notch. I didn't get my reinforcing stitch exactly on top of the first run of stitches, so it wouldn't lie flat until I cut one of the stitches. The back of the collar is not nicely rounded, very pointy. If I did this pattern again, I would create a more curved shape here. Finally, sewing the back to the front, around the collar, took quite a bit of mental energy. The pattern says to stitch all in one line, along the shoulder seam, then back, then the other shoulder seam. No diagram either. I found it easier to join the back neck to the collar piece, then clip the pieces so I could get the shoulder seams to touch each other. I sewed these separately. I would have had to do some fancy folding if I hadn't clipped. I didn't get the curved pocket to curve nicely. I would do a square pocket next time.

As usual, there are no instructions to finish seam allowances. Possibly because these patterns are for experienced sewers, so no hand holding. The fabric doesn't fray too much and the garment won't be washed, so I was tempted to leave them as is. I zig zagged the back neck, side seams and cuff seams, for a neater finish. But it wasn't overlocker-worthy.

The waistband instructions for inserting elastic in the pants didn't work for me. Instructions, as followed: zig zag elastic to top of raw edge. Fold over, sew two rows of straight stitch, while stretching, one to top edge, and one to bottom edge. Maybe I wasn't stretching hard enough, but the two rows of straight stitch made the elastic too loose and wavy. Unpicking them is tedious work.
I tried replacing two straight rows with a second row of zig zag instead. It was still wavy and I don't like how it leaves the raw edge exposed on the inside. Unpicked again and added a waistband to make proper waistband channel. (I also prefer this method because if the elastic goes, it can easily be pulled tighter or replaced.)

The cuffs on the trousers were a bit of a faff, and the finishing wasn't great, so I used the same method as I did for my PJ shorts, thereby enclosing the raw edge inside the cuff. If I made these again, I would attach separate cuffs in the method of the sleeve cuffs. It's much easier to do and I don't like the non-matching cuffs between the top and the bottoms. One of them has the stripe running horizontal, the other vertical. 

I did real buttonholes, the girls are old enough to manage fastening them by themselves. The tie belt was left unfastened and the recipient prefers the pjs without the belt and the belt being used as a hair ribbon!

Cost: free

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Refashioning a vintage fur, Pt 2: Collar

So far, my Vintage Fur Refashion has consisted of unpicking parts of the original fur coat and wearing them as separates. Not very imaginative, but a surprising amount of work nevertheless.

My Fur Stole is something to be worn when it is very cold. This collar is a bit more versatile, and is worn for fashion rather than warmth.

Under collar (before)
The underside of the coat collar was really quite spectacular. The pelts are narrow with quite short hair. I think there might be as many as 24 different pelts joined together. The colour variation is marvellous and the effect is of luxe stripes of black and brown silkiness.

The inside has been lined with horsehair canvas and bound with bias tape around the edges. The cut edges of the skins were visible at the edge of the collar, so I needed something to line the edges. I considered adding a full lining, but decided that my cutting skills were probably not up to the job of getting the lining to not bag out somewhere, and again, this fur is on it's last legs so I didn't want to sink a lot of materials into this project.

A length of black ribbon, fished from the present wrapping bag, did the trick instead. I attached it by hand to the right side of the fur edges, catching both the skin and the bias binding in the edges.

The skin held up pretty well. This part of the coat is not terribly decayed. Some of the edges are a bit wavy where the skin had disappeared and I had to move the stitches inward to find it again. I left two long edges of ribbon to make ties. Sewing the ribbon down to the canvas on the inside is not the prettiest. The edges are curved and the ribbon is not Petersham, so my ribbon is full of pleats and tucks. Plus, you can see the canvas. Maybe after I refashion the rest of the coat, I'll take some of the old lining (which is silk) and line the inside of this collar.

I have worn it over the collar of my leather jacket - again, a fabric that won't hold onto the shedding hairs. I appreciate the bit of extra grip that the canvas gives the underside. I tied the ribbon under the jacket collar. It takes a bit of holding together to put it on, but I managed it. The pile runs the "wrong" way on this collar, in that you stroke it from the edge up to the neckline. But I am going to be the only person stroking my clothing thank-you-very-much.

It also makes a very pretty child's stole/cape, and Cruella de Ville is going to wear it to school as part of her World Book Day costume.

Vintage Fur Refashion

Part 1: original coat and turning the collar into a stole
Part 2: under collar into a new collar



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...