Made by Me!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Deer and Doe Anemone Skirt and the Harrogate Stitching and Knitting Show

Last week was an exciting week of sewing related goodness. I have spent the early part of the week making up the lovely Deer and Doe Anemone Skirt and then went up to Harrogate in Yorkshire for a lovely few days away - handmade Raspberry wool coat and Anemone skirt in hand. I met up with a good friend (the only one who really understands my crafting obsession!) and we went to the Stitching and Knitting show to partake in classes and to have a general mooch around for bargains and bits and bobs that take our fancy. But more of that later!

The Anemone skirt was a pleasure to make and is flattering to wear. Its easy to construct, it has no waistband and only requires various panels to be sewn together for the outer section, peplum and lining I think it would be very easy for a beginner to complete as the only tricky bit is the concealed zip. I managed to sew this up in an afternoon and really enjoyed it. The Deer and Doe patterns are so easy to follow and the instructions for this skirt are only about 3 or 4 pages long so there is not too much to do before you have a lovely finished skirt.

I made some minor alterations to the pattern. The material that I used was very thin and needed to be underlined to bulk it up a little bit and make it suitable for purpose. It was a lovely piece of bluey, black spotted chambray from Robert Kaufman.

I cut out the exact pattern pieces twice, once in the main fabric and once in black poplin, serged the pieces together and sewed the two pieces as one as per the instructions of the pattern. I didn't want to add a lining as I thought this would add too much bulk so I made facings for the top of the skirt and reinforced the facing by stitching in the ditch of the seams of the skirt, which stops the waistband rolling up. Sorry about the awful photo, the light and weather is so awful today I couldn't seem to take a good one.

The main thing I like about this skirt is whilst the design is relatively simple the peplum sides make it look quite quirky. Its a very wearable style.

I have been looking at other peoples versions of the skirt and there are so many lovely examples out there. I think I would like to make the other version which is slightly longer and omits the peplum sides. Its very cute! The picture below is from the Deer and Doe website.

So on to Harrogate. Its such a lovely small spa town and I enjoyed spending some time up there. The one thing you have to do when you go is to spend some time at the Harrogate Turkish Baths. It was renovated about 14 years ago and the interiors are original from over a hundred years ago which is pretty awesome. Its nice to know you are somewhere that hasn't changed for over a century. And its so beautiful. Just take a look at these pictures and the beautiful tiles on the wall and floors.

We spent a couple of hours in the steam room, sauna rooms and plunge pool before a lovely luxuriant spa treatment; exfoliation, massage and facial. Bliss. I totally recommend it to anyone going to Harrogate.

The spa set us up for a lovely time at the Stitching and Knitting show the following day. I missed the one in London as by the time I had got myself round to booking tickets the classes had all sold out, and to be honest its the reason you go as the rest of it is stalls upon stalls of people selling stuff. Don't get me wrong I enjoy shopping as much as the next person but the stalls are generally aimed at knitters or quilters of which I am neither. I did however find a few good things and am very happy with my purchases!

It was a couple of weeks after the London show that my friend invited me to the Harrogate one as she had won complimentary tickets. I booked myself on to a couple of classes - 'making a scarf with dispersable dyes' and 'lovely lacy knickers'. The thing I liked about the show was that you could try out all sorts of different crafts which you have never done before and then excitedly buy all the tools to do it at home from within the show itself. The first class wasn't really my thing - it was essentially using dyes painted on paper and then ironing the paper on to polyester. I didn't really get into it but you can see from the picture below the type of effects people got from it and some really do look pretty interesting.

During the second class I learnt how to sew a pair of lacy knickers which was amazingly easy and quite satisfying. I have to admit to then going upstairs to the merchandise stalls and buying a load of stretchy lace from a Dutch man who had such beautiful items on sale. I also bought some non stretch lace to make a bra. I tried this a long time ago and liked doing it but didn't see it through to the end. I think I would like to perfect my lingerie skills and start making my own. The lace was unbelievably cheap for what you get and I could knock out about 4 or 5 knickers an hour its that quick to do.

Whilst at the show I also bought myself a vintage shirt pattern - a beautiful Butterick wrap shirt shown below.

I also found an online fabric shop that sells beautiful vintage inspired fabrics and silks and actual vintage fabrics and bits and bobs like belt buckles etc.... - Til The Sun Goes Down. I spent so long ogling the fabrics and totally recommend having a look at the online shop. They all look amazing quality and they are just a little bit different - I will be placing an order as soon as I can!!

I am now back home with my feet up in front of the fire thinking about my next sewing project!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Raspberry Wool Coat - It's Finished And I've Fallen In Love!

Yay it's finished!! Now I am not normally one to blow my own trumpet but I am so super proud of this coat. The plaid and stripes match really well all over and I managed to make something without dramatically fluffing it up along the way!

You can see the various stages of the coat making process on my other blog posts - the toile, choosing the lining, matching plaids and stripes, and pad stitching the collar. The one part of the process I haven't spoken about is the making of the skirt and attaching the top and bottom together. The coats only downside is a distinct lack of pockets and I was going to add some to the side seams as I always get cold hands and even with gloves on I need to be able to shove my hands somewhere warm. Oh and its also useful to keep small items in as well. I feel a bit lost without them. I did sew them in to the coat but then realised that the wrap of the coat meant they gaped open horribly so I unpicked the whole lot and got rid of them. I prefer the good line of the coat skirt rather than warm hands. I will just have to get great gloves!!

With all the unpicking I had managed to stretch that lovely wool a little which was a pain but as I realised when sewing the pieces together I had managed to cut the skirt sections so the plaid was a little off and so had to do some jiggery pokery anyway by moving the seams a little and this covered the stretched bit at the top of the skirt. This process did shorten the coat slightly but I am a short arse anyway and so I didn't really loose anything by doing this.

I attached the lining to the skirt by sewing the right sides together and then turning it out the right way. I understiched the skirt lining as well to stop it rolling out. It was then a case of matching seams and sewing the wool together on the top and bottom. I trimmed down all seams and then made sure all loose threads were dealt with inside the coat and then I slipstitched the lining bottom to top at the waist, using a double thread for strength. To make sure the lining was completely flat I laid it out on the floor to smooth it into place before pinning and sewing.

The final bits of stitching were to slipstitch the lining to the wool at the right hand side where the tie goes through the coat. This means you have a much cleaner finish inside. I then also rolled the hem of the sleeve lining up, slipstitched the fabric and then slipstiched it to the coat itself. There is a lot of lining fabric so it means you have to do a tuck in it to make it fit.

The final touch was to add a chain at the neck so that I could hang the coat up. I salvaged this from one of my old winter coats that was about to go on the scrap heap. 

Overall I am so happy with this coat and would totally recommend it. The fabric I have chosen is extremely warm and I think its quite an elegant coat. I love the vintage feel and the colour pop is going to cheer me on a gloomy London winter day, but mainly I love that I made it! It has been one thing that I have been nervous about attempting but I feel ready now to go forth and make another one with button holes!!

Are you planning on making your coat this winter? If so what kind of coat are you going to make? I am looking forward to seeing other winter coat makes on other peoples sewing blogs as it gets chillier outside!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Pad Stitching... And A Half Finished Coat!

Its been a busy week of sewing and I am pleased to say that I have finally finished the top half of my coat. It has been an easy pattern to follow, the instructions are not difficult at all but I felt that they weren't thorough enough, at least not for the sturdy winter coat that I wanted to make. The interfacing was the main factor. The collar was only interfaced through the front section of lining which forms the very front of the coat and the top of the collar when bent over and I didn't believe it would be enough to create a solid collar. I also thought it was weird to interface the lining but maybe it is a normal thing to do, I have just never seen this before. I had also minimally changed the pattern to make the collar out of self fabric instead of part of the lining and so I had a slightly different fabric layout to deal with. I made a couple of changes on this pattern that I think has made the coat better and stronger than before.

The first change I made was to pad stitch the under collar which I understand is a couture finishing technique and a totally new skill for me to learn. I had bought some horse hair sew-in interfacing for a previous project and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to use it. I didn't really have any idea how to do it but I found a few different websites that provided some useful insight, mainly Gertie's blog from a few years ago when she was doing a sew-along for the Colette Patterns Lady Grey coat - you can find the how to here. Basically pad stitching horse hair interfacing on to the item not only provides the garment with strength and stability but it also helps to shape the garment. I used Gertie's tutorial and followed her lead by marking out 1/2 inch rows on the collar and 1/4 inch rows on the collar stand. I also marked out where I wanted to sew. With pad stitching you don't sew into the seam allowances but you can see from my picture that I just cut out a whole piece of horse hair according to the size of my collar pattern piece - I then marked the seam allowance with basting stitches. The most important thing is to mark the roll of the collar as this is where you use different widths of stitches, the smaller stitches marking where the roll occurs and down through the collar stand and the larger stitches on the main part of the collar. This picture shows the roll line in blue. I hope you can make it out.

Now I didn't use the correct waxed thread, I didn't have any and honestly I am not sure what the difference would be. Waxing a thread with wax and a warm iron seemed like a faff and whilst I can see it would help with making sure threads didn't get tangled I noticed a lot of people mention on their blogs that they didn't use anything but normal thread...and it may not be couture but it seemed to work just fine for me. Anyone know why it is meant to be waxed thread? It would be lovely to know.

The stitching as you can see is not perfect, some is much better than others, but I felt as though I was getting just a little bit better as I went along and I actually wouldn't hesitate to use the technique again. It was a little time consuming but what was interesting is that the item started to take some shape as I was working it and you could see how the collar would bend and sit on the coat. The final part of the process when I had finished the pad stitching was to cut away the seam allowance and take away the basting stitches. I put the item on my dummy then wet it and steamed it (not pressing it) with an iron to give it shape. I then left it overnight to dry ready for the next bit in the process.

In the meantime I added a lightweight bondaweb interfacing to the top collar section and front of the coat as this is the part of the garment that will be moved around a lot and pulled by endlessly wrapping and tying the coat on to the body so I wanted to give it extra support. It doesn't change the flexibility of it too much or add too much bulk but it fixes the fabric well.

When it was time to sew the lining to the outer shell I also did a line of understitching under the collar. This wasn't in the pattern instructions but I felt it was necessary to stop the collar moving and showing its underside and it works well. I know you aren't meant to understitch on an outer part of the garment but it isn't noticeable and it helps the collar to look more professional. It doesn't matter about the weight of the fabric more than the way it will move when it is on and I don't want the collar rolling over. Every change I am making is minimal but to add structure, strength and durability to the garment. To be honest I am not sure why but there is no understitching in this garment at all and I think in places it is really necessary - I can see when the lining and the skirt are sewn together if the lining isn't understitched its going to roll out. I guess I will find out whether that's true soon enough!
As you can see I also did some topstitching on the waist ties which wasn't on the original pattern. Again this was to add a little detail but also to flatten the wool out as it was a little tubular without it! I considered topstitching along the collar as well but decided against it in the end.

I am getting so excited about finishing this project and will be on to the skirt of the coat tomorrow. I am beginning to think I will look like a wrapped up sweet in this coat though!! Come back soon to see my progress!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Cutting The Coat Out - Or How To Get Scared By Plaids and Stripes

The coat has moved on to the next level, I have cut out the lining and after the better part of a day of deliberating about pattern placement I have finally managed to cut the self fabric out. It was lucky that on the morning I decided to tackle actually putting a pair scissors to the wool a Colette Patterns 'how to match plaids and stripes' freebie for the new Dahlia pattern popped into my inbox....what lucky, lucky timing. I can tell you that my fabric stared at me for about two weeks before I had the nerve to touch it. It's a high stakes project when you only have just enough fabric to make what you want (which is admittedly silly when you need to match plaids or stripes but its all they had left in the shop) and the fabric cost so much money I really didn't want to make a mistake!! But you cant stay scared all your life and so I tried to put all of that to one side and take it a step at a time...and after about 4 hours of playing around and lots of pensive thinking I felt confident enough to cut it. Ridiculous I know but so far I have only been semi successful at matching my plaids or stripes on previous projects and as Sarai Mitnick from Colette mentions in her booklet, most of the matching happens in the cutting stage... and well to be honest that made me feel a little more nervous about fluffing it up!! So as I really wanted to try hard to make this coat as good as it could be I thought it cant hurt to take more time to make sure I feel confident that I am making the right decisions. Lets face it once its cut, its cut!

Initially I spent about half an hour pushing back everything in the front room to allow space to spread out the fabric fully on the floor, then I matched the selvage edges together and pinned it along its length to make sure all stripes matched. I also smoothed the fabric to make sure there were no lumps and bumps throughout and when I was finally satisfied started laying the pattern pieces down.

As you can see in the images above and below the fabric is striped with a more subtle plaid design - and I hope you agree it blooming gorgeous! I just love the colour and the fluffiness!! I saw it and had to have it!

Sarai makes the point that you have to decide what the most important elements to match are so I decided to think about centring the front and back pieces and the side seams, which would be the most obvious if they were off centre, and then I decided it might be good to try and match up the armhole and sleeve. I wasn't as worried about the waistline as the tie around the middle of the coat would shield anything that wasn't exact.

Now I have to be honest and say that I am not going to try and explain the process that Sarai details in her booklet as she explains everything much better than I can. I wanted to apply all her suggestions in detail but in the end I kind of did it by eye and with occasional use of a tape measure, using her ideas but not really executing them in the way she described. My mind works a lot more visually than marking out and measuring intensely. Potentially that will be my downfall but I just don't compute stuff in that way. So a bit of freehand ensued. I found matching armhole points or bottoms of skirt pieces together and moving the fabric around to emulate how pieces would be placed together worked quite well. You just have to remember that you are matching seam allowances and not the outer edge of the pattern piece. All in all it took a while; I had just enough fabric to make it work and when I felt I could no longer improve the layout I pinned it all down, took a deep breath and started to cut the pattern up.

Does anyone else feel like they come out in a cold sweat at the thought of matching pattern pieces? Is it just me? And why if it makes me so nervous do I have to choose a fabric that I know will make me feel a little intimidated!

And you can see its all done now so there's no turning back!! It really was a very nerve wracking experience but I felt I learned a little something along the way and Sarai's booklet really helped to focus on the important details. I am really excited to be at a point to start sewing the coat up now. Come back in the next few days to see how I am getting on.