"" The girl who makes things: April 2015

Monday, 13 April 2015

Holly Jumpsuit

It was around this time last year that I met By Hand London girls Elisalex and Victoria at the Minerva Crafts open day. While we were chatting I couldn't help but notice that Elisalex was wearing a rather stunning pair of palazzo pants. She told me were adapted from a new pattern. 'A jumpsuit' I guessed. And a few weeks later, Holly was released.

I'd like to take a brief moment, at this point, to mention how sad I was to hear that By Hand London will be down scaling and no longer printing their paper patterns. By Hand London was one of the first indie pattern companies I came across when I got back into sewing and I've always been impressed by their designs and interaction with the sewing community. They are also lovely, lovely people and truly inspiring business women. I wish them the very best with their company and I'm sure that once they're over this bump in the road, they'll continue to grow. In the mean time, I'll try and nab myself a Sophia dress pattern before it runs out of stock!

I'm a big fan playsuits. I thifted one a couple of summers ago and practically lived in it when temperatures went above 20c and I actually made one a year ago in rayon which I wore with tights all winter long. Yes, playsuits are versatile things. 

Yet a playsuit/jumpsuit is a tricky project to master. Especially one as fitted as Holly. Think about how difficult it is to fit a bodice, now think about how difficult it is to fit trousers, now join the two together. For a non expert like me, fit was my biggest demon.

For the first time in my sewing career I made a few toiles before I was happy with the fit. If you follow me on Instagram, I'm afraid I spammed you a little with my progress. Sorry about that! Anyway, as there were so many alterations and changes, I'll write them in list form. They were as follows:

Omitted sleeves and buritoed the bodice
Took 4cm off the centre back neckline
Made a Small Bust Adjustment of 1cm
Lowered the bust darts by 1cm

Added front pockets and patch pockets on the back (I'll write a tutorial about the front pockets in my next post)
Made a Full Butt Adjustment of about 1.5cm
Lowered the crotch by 2cm
Took 2cm off the centre back around the lower spine.

I also graded the size from a UK 8 at the bust to a 10 at the waist and a 12 at the hips.

Wow, that was a whole lotta fitting. I found the By Hand London Sewalong tutorials absolutely invaluable in this project and definitely added a few skills to my set.

Aside from fitting, my other demon was finding a way to insert an invisible zip and make button holes on a very basic John Lewis sewing machine. I managed to achieve both, with a lot of concentration and effort. The invisible zip wasn't too bad as I found I could slide the needle to the left and stitch closer the the zipper teeth. The button holes were harder and I ended up using a variety of zig zag stitches to imitate the stitches of a real button holer. I got there in the end though, and they all function as intended.

The fabric was from Feira dos Tecidos, although I think a lot of places sell it, as I was informed by a fellow Instagrammer. It's a lovely cool printed linen and very easy to work with. I was worried that it might crease too much, but now I quite like the relaxed look.

Pattern matching purists among you might shudder at my complete disregard for matching, but hey, I'm not on the Sewing Bee so I don't care! Besides, I managed to squeeze this make out of 1.5m so I wasted not a scrap.

Making Holly has really given me a lot of practise at some slightly more advanced sewing skills. Now that I have a well fitted pattern, I'd like to take Holly on to some other varations and hybrids such as palazzo pants, shorts, culottes and dresses. Anything seems possible!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Sewing nightmares

In a recent post I wrote about five things which improved my sewing. Let's call those my sewing angels. Now for my devils. The things that make me howl in fustration. You know what I mean. Those little devils that make you feel like throwing your projects out of the window and giving up sewing for life. I want to share these because a) it's good to rant and share the pain and b) I'd like to know if any of you have solutions for these problems and c) I'd like to know if you have any similar or different problems. So here's my top four:

The cutting stage
I seem to dread this part of sewing, unless of course the fabric is a nice plain cotton poplin which is easy to press and doesn't move while you cut. But who wants to always wear cotton poplin?! I want viscose, chiffon and jersey all in different geometric prints. But some how my selvedges don't match, the fabric bubbles up in random places and the print never ever lines up. Grrrrr

Difficult fabric
Leading directly on from cutting, but not quite is bad, is sewing the damn fabric. When it slips around, so you have to pin every centimetre. When the sewing machine decides to eat it. When you turn it all out and the print you spent so long matching up in the cutting stage still doesn't line up! Why is the most beautiful fabric always the most difficult to work with??

I used to hate this stage a lot more than I do now, but it's still a pain. Darts make a big difference to the overall fit of the garment so accuracy is fairly important. Using transfer paper really helped my accuracy with darts, but sometimes, no matter how long I spend pinning them, the sewing machine still decides to undo my good work and I end up with a wonky dart.

The finished item
This is probably the most irritating. Sometimes, the stars just don't align. You've used a gorgeous fabric, you've fitted the garment well, you've sewn every seam and dart accurately, and yet... the overall item doesn't work well together. It doesn't make you feel amazing when you wear it. It gets resigned to the back of the cupboard, never to see the light of day again.

Obviously I still love sewing, and don't have any intention of giving up, but these are my hurdles and if there was any way to minimise them, I'd be a much happier sewist. So, how about you? Do you have the same sewing devils? Do you have any tricks or tips to make swwing easier? Do share!