"" The girl who makes things: March 2015

Monday, 30 March 2015

Odds and ends

Olá lovelies, happy Monday! I hope you've had a good weekend. I've had a lovely few days off, most of which I spent wandering around Lisbon in the sunshine and drinking coffee al fresco. Next week is the Easter holidays and the temperatures are set to rise. All is good in the world.

I have a two for the price one post for you today: two makes in one post. I've called this 'Odds and ends' as the clothes are made out of random off-cuts which I didn't know what to do with. Now that I've made them into something I'm quite pleased with the results and they've become my two most wearable pieces. It's almost as if I planned it!

So let's start with the 'odd', aka the Plantain T-shirt. How nice is this fabric? As you may already know, Feira dos Tecidos is now my stalwart, go-to fabric shop of choice in Lisbon. Seriously, it's my new best friend. The thing I love about it (aside from the rolls of fabulous fabric) is the 'bargain buckets'. They contain odd pieces of fabric cut off from the main rolls due to small imperfections and sold at discounted prices. I found this aztec-y print on sale for just 3€. I didn't have any particular project in mind, but Deer and Doe's Plantain T-shirt was one of the few patterns I brought with me to Portugal and was a good match.

This is my second Plantain. I didn't make any size adjustments as the pattern fits pretty well and knit fabric is fairly forgiving. Stitching up was an absolute breeze. The only tricky part was pattern matching the print, which has never been my strongest suit. But hey, look, I think I just about did it!

Now for the 'end', aka the stretch skirt. I used this fabric to make my Brigitte dress a few weeks ago. I bought too much so I still had a big chunk of it left which I didn't know what to do with. I already had a stretchy skirt which I bought from H&M but it was waaaay too short and tight to be work appropriate, so I decided to use my last scrap of fabric to make a stretchy skirt for work. I love replacing my wardrobe with handmades. I'm totally gearing up for Me Made May.

I used the skirt pattern from Vogue 8766 as I knew it would fit me well. The only adjustment I made was to add 4cm to the top of the skirt to add a 2cm wide piece of elastic. I then folded it down and hand tacked it to the inside of the skirt to make it secure. I also omitted the zip, stitched up the back seam and hand picked the hem.

All in all, these two items took practically no time to make and I wear them all the time. Total value for time and effort. I've also discovered a new found love for knit fabric- why did I spend so many years afraid of it?? It's so easy to use.

So, how about you? Have you ever accidentally made something you love? 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

A White Russain please!

Ola, boa tarde! I hope you're all well this Saturday. Did you see the solar eclipse yesterday? I completely missed it - I was misinformed about the time and woke up too late. So disappointed! Apparently it was maximum strength at 9 in Portugal. (Yep, that's right, I don't have to get up on a Friday as I have the day off. But before you go thinking that I have extended weekends, I do actually work half a day on Saturdays, so swings and roundabouts.) Anyway, I've heard that earth is the only planet in the solar system where we can experience a true solar eclipse. No other planet has a moon the right size and distance from the sun. So we're pretty lucky - huh?
I've had a fairly relaxed, yet productive week. For those of you who were made jealous by my previous post, you'll be pleased to know that the weather has gone back to being cold, cloudy and rainy. However, less time playing in the sun means more time playing in the sewing room. I've well and truly got the sewing bug and most of my free mental hard drive is spent thinking about the next project. To the extent that other (important) aspects in my life such as reading, learning Portuguese and housekeeping have gone in the metaphorical garbage dispenser. I'm sure I'll find a balance one day!
So, this latest make is a White Russian sweatshirt by Capital Chic. Ever since Sally introduced her collection I've had my eye on this pattern and when it came to compiling a birthday wish list, this one made the cut. I like the simple design and I love the name - it reminds me of Moss from the IT crowd and his taste for White Russians. 

The pattern printed off fine, all to scale, no glitches. I'm coming round to PDF patterns now. I like that you will always have a copy saved so you can cut out to your heart's content and mess around with the pieces. Paper patterns will always have a place in my heart though.

Sewing wise, this pattern is an easy win. It's a simple raglan sleeve shape with only three pieces (not counting the neck and waist bands). I cut a size 12 as I wanted the sweatshirt to be relaxed and baggy, but if I make it again I'll shorten the waistband by a couple of inches so that it sits closer to my body.

Attaching the neckband was the easiest thing ever. You simply fold it over, attach it to the neck opening, press and done. I cut and zig zag stitched the raw edges to neaten it up. 

Let's talk about that fabric! Bananas, flowers and tropical birds - genius. I found it in Feira do Tecidos in Rossio before I'd even thought about making a White Russian. I instantly fell in love. Stupidly, I only bought 1m and the long sleeved White Russian needs at least 1.5m so I had to settle on short sleeves. Still, I think it works well as a Tee. It's a loop backed jersey and incredibly easy to handle. The sweatshirt sewed up like a dream.

I'm already thinking about making another sweatshirt as it's such an easy pattern. It only takes a couple of hours and it's a practical wardrobe staple. My verdict: the White Russian is an absolute win. I'm sure that Moss would agree.


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Pineapple Express Alexandria Pants

Hello and happy Sunday everyone! I hope you had a long, chilled weekend. I certainly did. The weather is hotting up here in Portugal. Temperatures are averaging the low 20s and people everywhere are traipsing around Lisbon in their shorts, T-shirts and sandals. I've been lucky enough to spend some time outside in the sun lately. Last weekend we went to Lisbon's national park, Monsanto, for a picnic and it was a glorious feeling to be out and about in bare legs and sandals at the beginning of March. Sadly, though, the weather isn't forecast to last and we'll be back to rain and drizzle next week. Sad face.

That hasn't me stopped thinking about summer clothes though. I love the change of season and the opportunity for new sewing projects. So it was with great interest that I followed the updates on Named's new pattern collection Ticket. I wasn't dissapointed. The collection is full of modern, sporty summer clothes, perfect for seasonal sewing. As it was my birthday last Monday I decided to treat myself to a pattern and chose the Alexandria pants.

This was my first Named PDF pattern so I made a couple of errors. Firstly I clicked on the download too many times and blocked myself out. The fustration! No worries though, the Named team emailed me straight back with new links. Next, I didn't check my printer was printing to scale. Only after I'd printed out the entire pattern and taped it together did I realise that the test block was slightly smaller than intended. As it was too late to go back, I decided to cut out a more generous seam allowance and so far, I seem to have got away with it.

Apparently Named used pattern testers for this collection and you can really tell. The instructions were thorough. Although I'm a fairly experienced sewist and tend to flout the instructions, there were points when I needed to go back and check. I found that all the information was either there or on the website. Also, there was no need to trace the pattern pieces as they didn't overlap. I've heard that Named aren't overlapping anymore on all smaller garments which is a plus for me as I'm pretty lazy and like to cut straight out.

Construction wise the trousers were quite straight forward. The only problems I had were with my fabric choice. I used a rather light and shifty viscose which moved around as I tried to cut it. The result was a boomerang shaped waistband which I had to interface back into a rectangle. The fabric also creases a lot, but seeing as the style is fairly relaxed I don't think this is a problem.

Fabric issues aside, just look at the print - pineapples! Nothing says summer like pineapples. How could I ever be sad with pineapples on my legs? Someone get me a pina colada!

So, those are my birthday trews. I spent a lot of my birthday making them and loved every moment. How about you? Are you sewing for summer?

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

5 things that improved my sewing

I love sewing. I really do. But I have to confess, I ain't no expert. I'm almost entirely self taught and often take short cuts with my sewing projects. Perfectionism is not my personal quality. However, there are certain techniques I always use when I sew. Techniques that at first seemed time consuming and irrelevant, but now seem absolutely essential.  I'd like to share some of these things with you, as they really did change my sewing:

1. Understitching
Ever have problems with pressing the neckline yoke? Can't get it to stay flat? Understitching solves this problem. I know right, why bother with another line of stitching that no one is ever going to see? No, seriously understitching is well worth the extra effort. Trust me. It makes pressing an absolute breeze. A great tutorial is here.

2. Transfer paper
Back in the day (school day) I was taught to transfer pattern markings with the old double thread technique. How inaccurate. These days I use transfer paper and I get much more detailed markings.

3. Quality interfacing
Splash the cash. Unless you want the garment you've been working on for hours to feel like cardboard, buy quality interfacing. You can buy some for every kind of fabric; silk, jersey, cotton... It's worth it.

4. Diagonal corner stitching
I never even knew this was a thing until I went to a sewing workshop last year. "Do a couple of stitches diagonally across the corner" says the teacher. "How is that ever going to work?" thinks me. Yet when it comes to turning out the corner, you get a much cleaner finish. I've used this technique on shirt collars and the results are so much better. Don't ask me how it works, just know it does.

5. Curved hem stitching
How does one press the hem of a curved edge? This is a question I asked myself again and again until I saw this tutorial from By Hand London. Like a revelation I realised that it was easy to press an accurate curved hem, you just need to sew a line of stitching along the edge and use it as a guide when pressing. Circle skirts have never phased me again!

So there we are. Five things. I could go on, but I wouldn't want to bore you. Besides, there's a world of sewing blogs out there with more info than you could ever need. But it's good to let you know about the things that worked for me. So how about you? What things changed your sewing?