Sunday, 6 October 2013

Preparing for the Tofino Lounge Trousers by Sewaholic... including Button Holes

Tofino Pattern by Sewaholic
Hello Ladies and Gents...

With my sewing machine clean, I could start to prepare the fabric for the Tofino Lounge Trouser pattern. I had been out to my local fabric shop (see link below) to select some gorgeous fabric for this pattern. I hunted through the racks - through gingham and flannel and cottons and spots. I wanted to used gingham for the project and spoke to the lovely shop lady who gave me some great advice. She said that gingham would look good but as I was a novice she thought a repetitive pattern would be best and move on to gingham after a bit of practice. With the hunt still
Tools for the job
on, I spotted a lovely pale blue with pink flowers on - perfect. I purchased the fabric along with a hem gauge and elastic. Happy with my purchases I headed straight home to wash the fabric ready for cutting!

After looking at the instructions on how to lay the fabric with the pattern on it, I had a dilemma on what size to cut. As mentioned in an earlier blog, this pattern is specifically made with pear shape women in mind. I looked at the size chart and could see I fluctuated between an 8 and a 10 and then to confuse me even more I looked at the finished measurements and couldn't fathom out how a 40inch hip would need a 47.5inch when finished. With me starting to worry I hadn't bought enough fabric I remembered that 'Tilly and the Buttons' had a great blog on this (see link below). After reading this (and
Checking the pattern fits!
understanding that although you are a certain measurement you wouldn't want your clothes the same size as otherwise it may stop  you breathing), I opted for a size 10, although this did not stop my dilemma as I bought fabric for a size 8! I lay the fabric on the floor and roughly lay the uncut pattern on the fabric, and phew I had enough! Top Tip: Check sizes before purchasing and also look at how long the finished item is - I was so focused on the bust/waist/hip measurement that this slipped my mind. I was lucky that the finished garment is 33 inches so just long enough for my 32inch pins.

With size selected I got snipping! I snipped all the pattern pieces out (I'm not using the contrast bits this time...I've not made a pair of trousers before and I checked it can be left out but there is always next time) and ironed it on a gentle heat. With my fabric and pattern ready, I pinned the pattern to the fabric and cut out the pieces including the notches. With the pieces all ready to go I referred back to the pattern to see how to put it all together. One of the pieces requires a button holes to thread a belt through (ok, I may do this, but piping is definitely out) and haven't done button holes before so instead of starting out sewing the pieces together, I thought I would practice button holes.

Button Hole Presser Foot
Before I started to sew I checked the manual to see if I had the right presser foot along with how to do it. I was in luck that I had the presser foot but the manual seemed a little unclear so I dug out my sewing book which it explained in better detail. The button hole foot acts as your guide and has a nifty measure lines on it. I don't actually need it for buttons, but if you do measure your buttons and add 0.3mm to ensure the button will slip in and out with ease. With the button hole foot on and fabric ready (using scraps of what I had cut out) I set the stitching in motion. My first attempt, well, was ok but it would be for a massive button. Also as my fabric is thin it made the button hole quite weak. Top Tip: If using a light weight fabric you may need some facing to strengthen it. I don't have any so used a bit of left over
wadding from my quilting project. I made a wadding sandwich and tried again, and again and again and finally the third time was a success. The second time when I went to cut the gap to make the button hole I caught the thread so weakened the button hole. The size of the hole was 1inch x 3 stitches - this was the size specified and now I've practiced I think I will be good for the real thing... best order some facing ASAP!

I can't stress enough how importing preparation is on sewing projects. If you're like me you just want to get on your machine and start stitching away. Sadly though, if you don't prep properly then the actual stitching will become more tricky. I feel now that with my fabric cut and by practicing button holes I'm now ready to move on to stitching the trousers together! Until next time...

Top Tips:

  • Equipment: Fabric, pins, pattern, scissors, sewing machine, button hole presser foot and thread
  • Check sizes before purchasing - this will ensure you buy the right amount of fabric! If in doubt, ask the shop assistant or double check!
  • Look at how long the finished item is - I was so focused on the bust/waist/hip measurement that this slipped my mind. I was lucky that the finished garment is 33 inches so just long enough for my 32inch pins
  • Button holes: If using a light weight fabric you may need some facing to strengthen it. 

Useful Websites/ books:

Happy Prepping x

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Big Clean Up.... Sewing Machine Style

Hello Ladies and Gents...

Sewaholic Pattern
Today was going to be the day I started on my new sewing project - my Tofino Lounge Trousers (aka pyjamas) by Sewaholic. I found this pattern a little while ago and with Sewaholic specifically aiming their patterns at pear shape ladies I bought it and I've been looking forward to making it since then. I finally found some time so dug out the sewing machine. To my disgust I had put away my Singer covered in red fluff and dust (from making my red skirt...Seeing Red... Red Circles of Fabric)... the poor thing. So before I did anything I got the manual out to see how to maintain my machine.

I've cleaned it before, but it was a good four months ago and with the
thought of embarking on a new sewing project I wanted the machine to be lint and dust free and stitching like a pro. Top Tip: please check your manual on how to clean your machine as they are probably all a little different. I got manual, read through it, got all the necessary tools and I was ready to go!

The first thing is not to have the power on just in case - you don't want to electrocute yourself. With the power off, I took off the presser foot and the needle. Once removed, I started to unscrew the needle plate. When I took off the needle plate it was full of lint and grease - yuk. I took the little brush that came with my machine and with a lot of brushing and a few big breathes this part of my machine was clean.

Bobbin House
Now came the tricky part - to clean the bobbin house or hook. Remove the bobbin and flip back the retaining arms. Remove the hook race cover and hook and clean with a damp soft cloth. Top tip: Use one you don't mind getting greasy and also remember to use one that is soft and damp. Once cleaned, place to one side. Gently wipe the inside of the machine to remove any dust or excess grease. To lubricate your machine I use the Singer Super Oil which is specifically for sewing machines. Drop a couple of drops onto the hook race and move handwheel a few times. Once happy insert the hook and the hook race cover. Snap back the two hooks to hold the bits in place. Insert your bobbin, replace the needle plate, re-connect the presser foot and
Hook Race Cover & Hook
needle (it makes sense to replace it with a new needle as you've done all the hard work) and wipe down the whole machine and you are done. 
I couldn't wait to use it so I gave it a test run... it stitched like a dream! 

I'm so pleased I did it because now I know that when I go to use my sewing machine, it is ready to go with a fresh needle and dust free. It literally takes about 15 minutes - 15 minutes well spent in my opinion - so what are you waiting for - get out your sewing machine and manual and get cleaning!

Happy Cleaning x