Saturday, 17 August 2013

Seeing Red? Zips, Waistbands and Hems...

Hello Ladies and Gents,

This is the second blog on making a circle skirt and they'll be a limited amount of photos... I was merrily taking pictures and when my Husbandy was looking through them when he spotted that they hadn't come out as the camera was on the wrong setting...I wasn't amused to say the least but I will try and explain the best I can and your imagination will also help!

So, I'm about to join the front and the back of the skirt together. I marked a 1.5cm seam along the side of my fabric and pinned the pieces together (right sides facing). I stitched the sides together using my Singer 2250, carefully following the line I had marked on the fabric. With one side done, I then moved onto the other which involved the invisible zip. Now I had been eager to use my invisible zipper foot for a while so now the moment had come! With my blog and Coletterie blog called "Installing an Invisible Zipper" at the ready, I was good to go!

When installing the invisible zip turn the fabric wrong side facing each other and rights sides on the outside. Mark a 1.5cm seam along the length of the zip and marking the bottom of the zip with tailors chalk. Unzip the zip and pin the zip right-side-down onto the right side of the fabric. Take the skirt to the machine and stitch making sure the zip teeth go in the left hand hole in the invisible zipper foot. Once done, do the same to the other side, pinning the right-side-down to the right side of the fabric only this time put zipper teeth into the right hole on the invisible zipper foot. Phew... invisible zip done! I must confess it took me more than one attempt to get right - especially as when doing the right hand side I puckered the fabric so had to do it again...and again. Practice does make perfect and one day I'll be the master of stitching invisible zips but until then I will do my best and not give up! To finish the seam I swapped over the pressure foot, turned the fabric inside out so right sides were facing, placed a pin at the bottom of the zip as well as pinning the two sides together and stitched. 

#selfie #nowaistband
So in theory I had a skirt and all it needed was some tarting up... how hard could it be! Now in my case I found the instructions for inserting the waistband a bit sparse so I went on to You Tube and found this great tutorial by Professor Pincushion called 'How to sew a classic waistband'. This tutorial is great for beginners and it really got me out a jam. 

With my fabric ready, I pinned the waistband to the right side of the fabric along the stay stitch which was stitched earlier. I then sewed along the edge of the waistband as close to the edge I could make it. I then took this to the iron and pressed. Once pressed you then had a nice smooth line to put in the top-stitch. With top-stitch complete, I folded over the fabric onto the wrong side of the fabric and hand sewed the waistband using a slip stitch making sure not to pierce all the way through the fabric. I then hung the skirt up over night.

Well I left it hung for a little longer than a night but it had all hung beautifully
Measuring up the hem

and I was ready to do the hem. I read the pattern and measured from the top to the bottom leaving a 1.5cm hem at the bottom. It was at this point that I could tell I had not been very accurate when cutting out the pattern so instead of measuring 1.5cm from the bottom, I measured from the top and measured at 61.5cm and joined up the marks. I then stitched using the sewing machine all along the tailors chalk mark. After stitching I took the fabric to the ironing board and pressed the fabric along the stitch I had just done. I then folded the fabric under to make a neat role and pressed and pinned - see photo below. Once pinned I did herringbone stitch all the way around to make a neat hem and ta-dah my skirt's complete.

Rolling under to make the hem
I enjoyed making this circle skirt by Simplicity but I will say a few things... 1) the pattern comes up big! When I had stitched it altogether (including the invisible zip) I had a size check and it virtually fell off! So this involved a lot of unpicking and cutting but all this made good practice for me so I saw the positive side. I followed the size 16 pattern (which says a 30" waist) and in the end made a size 12 (which says a 26" waist) so please double check before you stitch. 2) The other thing I would do differently is make the waistband double the thickness and perhaps insert some interfacing. By doing this it won't be so fiddly and make the waistband more firm and 3) The pattern is for beginners but still found the instructions a little confusing and perhaps lacking in detail. I do enjoy a challenge and working things out for myself but sometimes it can take the enjoyment away by not even having enough info to look up about! All this said, I will definitely make the skirt again and next time use a more exciting fabric!

Top Tips:

  • Equipment: Fabric (2m) with matching zip and thread, fabric scissors, paper scissors, tailors chalk, pins, sewing pattern, sewing machine, invisible zipper foot, general purpose zipper foot, tape measure, iron and time!
  • Don't be afraid to research how to do something... if you're like me you like to figure things out for yourself but when you're learning you need to take 5 and research how others have done it to help overcome those little challenges
  • Double check the measurements before taking the fabric to the sewing machine! Although I didn't mind in the long run, if you were using a more delicate fabric it could stretch or damage the fabric which would be a nightmare. Pin the fabric together and make any adjustments with safety pins

Useful Websites: 
Happy Zipping x

Monday, 12 August 2013

Seeing Red? Red Circles of Fabric that is!

Hello Ladies and Gent,

Tools for the job
So I thought I would share with my latest sewing project... which is to attempt to make a circle skirt from a new pattern! When I went to my sewing class earlier this year, Claire-Louise aka The Thrifty Stitcher was kind enough to give me another pattern to try out at home. The pattern she gave me was the Simplicity 2906 which has two skirt patterns to follow but as I had all ready got a pattern for an 'A' line skirt I thought I ought to give the circle skirt a whirl. 

Now the dilemma of what fabric to use! I wanted to get some nice tartan fabric,
Useful hints from Sandra Bardwell
but I thought I would find matching the fabric up rather treaky so thought I better stick within my limits for now so chose a lovely crimson colour. I bought my fabric from Ray Stitch and I can't tell you how impressed I was with my visit. I called the shop the day before to see if they had the crimson fabric in stock along with a red 25cm invisible zip. I was thrilled when they said yes and told them I will see them the next day. When I arrived at 9.05am on Saturday morning they were open and had remembered my call and my goodies were all out ready for me! I was over-joyed that they had remembered and made my trip seamless (no pun intended). Now armed with my fabric (which was washed and pressed) I was ready to start creating!

Cutting lines
The first thing I did was measure myself - sadly my waist was still the same as when I made my skirt in April, but at least I've not grown in size. I took my measurement and I was a size 16 for this pattern. I cut the pattern piece out following the lines carefully and slowly. It was quite tricky as the pattern is large but I persevered  Top Tip: Gently press the pattern to ensure it is at its smoothest. I pressed the pattern when I ironed the fabric or iron it direct on a cool setting. Once cut out I then lined up the pattern on the fabric. This is when I had to remember grainlines and all that good stuff...which at first I had forgotten. I turned to my blog, Tilly and the Buttons blog as well as my good book called 'All you need to know about machine and hand sewing - Sewing Basics' by Sandra Bardwell. Although the pattern came with instructions its written in code for a novice so another Top Tip is always look up something if you are unsure of what it means. Like me I had to remind myself of the selfredge and the grain and I'm pleased I did as I originally pinned the pattern on wrong! 

I prepared my fabric (remembering to put strips of tailors chalk on the wrong
Mark the wrong side of the fabric
side of the fabric) and smoothed it by running my hand over it. Top Tip: Remember that the edge that is cut is not always 100% so don't pin the pattern against the edge. I had to look at this a few times and on the pattern you will have a long arrow which shows the grain line. In this instance the grain line was perpendicular to the selfredge. With my pattern securely pinned to the fabric, I took my fabric scissors and cut around the pattern and snipping a triangle where there were notches. The notches are there to help you line up the fabric pieces. I had to do this twice to make the front and the back piece of my skirt. Top Tip: If possible, this would be easier on a large table. I don't have this luxury but I cleared a large space on my wooden floor and cut carefully around the pattern.

Lining up the grain
Now with my fabric cut I wished I had an overlocker to stop the edges from fraying. However you can make a make-shift overlocker type thing on any sewing machine by using the zig-zag stitch. I set the machine to the longest stitch set on zig-zag and with one side sewn into the fabric and the other side just falling off the edge to catch the thread it secures the edge and helps reduce fraying. I did this to the sides and the bottom of my skirt. Tilly and the Buttons also recommends this but she does it when the hem is complete but I did it before hand - not sure if it makes a difference - time will tell.

I then double checked the instructions and realised I needed to put a 'stay stitch' in the top of the fabric to stop it from stretching. I didn't know what it was so I googled it - it is a long basting stitch that stays in - simple. So for this I set the sewing machine to a straight stitch on the longest setting and ran the stitch 1cm away from the top. Again, following the instructions I marked a 1.5cm hem down the sides with tailoring chalk in preparation for joining the pieces together and that all important invisible zip!

This is where I shall leave it today and tell you in another blog how I get on with the rest of my task! The one thing I will share is that I really enjoy the challenge this pattern is giving me! Its using the skills I have done previously plus being brave enough to try out new ones - lets hope the invisible zip comes as naturally!

Top Tips:

  • Equipment: Fabric (2m) with matching zip and thread, fabric scissors, paper scissors, tailors chalk, pins, sewing pattern, sewing machine, invisible zipper foot, general purpose zipper foot and time!
  • Gently press the pattern to ensure it is at its smoothest. I pressed the pattern when I ironed the fabric or iron it direct on a cool setting.
  • Always look up something if you are unsure of what it means. 
  • Remember that the edge that is cut is not always 100% so don't pin the pattern against the edge.
  • If possible, work on a large table. I don't have this luxury but I cleared a large space on my wooden floor and cut carefully around the pattern.

Useful Websites:

Happy Sewing xx 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

My Vintage Clothes & Accessories Paradises...

Hello Ladies and Gents,

Firstly let me apologies for not blogging for a while...with the absolutely stunning weather the British Isles has been having I have been more outside than in but today is to be a day of relaxation and recovery so an-in day it is... plus I see grey skies! I thought I would share with you my latest vintage finds and where I found them... I love finding out about new hidden gems so thought I would share them with you all. 

Dress & bolero - Vintage Fashion Fair
Vintage Fashion Fair -
A good friend of mine told me of this vintage fair... it takes place once a month at Cecil Sharp House, near Primrose Hill. I went to the fair in May and it sold an assortment of clothes, jewellery, shoes and homewares - plus other bits and pieces. Its a snip to get in at £3 with a select range of original vintage stock with a lovely tearoom and by being indoors you can go come rain or shine - well worth a visit. 

Pop Up Vintage Fairs - Islington
Another great vintage fair is the Pop Up Vintage Fair. I visited an event held in the Islington Town Hall. It has a wide range of original vintage clothes, jewellery, shoes, homewares plus it has pop up hair and make up booth, repro items, artists, card stalls, tea and cake stand and probably other wonderful stalls that I can't remember! From memory I think it was £3 to get in and runs every month, but I'm not sure if it in the same place every month. They have a facebook page with full details and if you goggle 'Pop Up Vintage Fairs' it will tell you when the next one is.

Pepper Lane Vintage, Ludlow -
Dress & bolero - Pepper Lane Vintage

This little gem of a shop was stumbled across by pure accident! Husbandy and I were in Ludlow and I was hunting through the charity shops. One of the ladies in the shop said you would love the shop down the road called 'Pepper Lane Vintage'. I rushed out the shop and went on the hunt...when I found it it was like a vintage dream selling original vintage clothes (for both men and women), jewellery, shoes, homewares and furniture.  They have an online shop but going to the shop itself opens your eyes to all the stock the place has - perhaps Ludlow is now the holiday destination of choice?? 

Cardi - Pop Up Vintage/ Skirt - Blackout II
Blackout II -
This hidden gem in the centre of Covent Garden is a delight for all those original vintage items. This shop is stocked to the rafters of original clothes (mens and womens), jewellery, hats, handbags and shoes ranging from the 1930s to the 1970s. This shop is over two floors and after some hunting you will find an outfit you wondered how you lived without. 

Ooh La La! Vintage Swap and Sell Shop - Facebook
This site is run through Facebook. Lovely people list vintage items of women's clothes, jewellery, shoes and handbags from all over the world  (a picture with some description on the garment) and if you want it you leave the comment 'interested' - this then ensures you get first dibs on the item. I have purchased some ear-rings and handbag from this site and have been delighted with them!

I'm sure you all have you own little favourite places to find your perfect vintage items.... please do feel free to share them with us and if you pop to any of them listed above let me know what you think!

Top Tips when shopping vintage style:

  • Take a tape measure...I always find this useful as original vintage clothes are on the small size and to avoid disappointment I give it a quick measure up
  • Examine the item thoroughly... this takes minutes and can save disappointment and frustration later
  • Take cash... seems a simple thing but the amount of times I've gone with just a £5 in my pocket and then had to scurry the streets is countless!
  • Taking care of the garment... now this is on a case by case basis. If an item is cotton I do risk putting it in the washing machine on a cool, low spin cycle. However this is not the case for everything as my dry cleaning bill proves so make a judgement also what the worth is before washing the garment
  • If buying a vintage item online don't be afraid to ask for more pictures or more information - at the end of the day you need to know the quality and make sure you are happy before buying 
Happy Shopping x