THE COMPULSIVE SEAMSTRESS.+Add.Feed Info1000FOLLOWERS
It's a compulsion, I just have to sew, sew, sew! Initially this blog was to be all about pattern cutting & no commercial pattern use was to dare grace its hallowed pages. I hope the main focus will still be me sketching & creating my own patterns, especially as all the people I make for have their own figure quirks, but I am certainly not above using commercial patterns.
It seems I just can’t stop making knickers! I’ve made another 4 pairs to add to the previous 7, making that 11 now. They have gone to the daughters and a friend, and they love them. I got a message from the friend after she got hers saying: “I bloody love my pants!!” Daughter no 2 has proclaimed them the best fitting pants ever – no vpl, no digging in. They are a complete success!
Pretty as a picture! Acacia Knickers from Megan Nielsen
Floral edge knicker elastic, found by chance in my stash!
I found some pretty floral edge knicker elastic hidden in a different box, so used that on some blue viscose knickers. I also dug out some bows and ribbon rosebuds. I had intended to use some on all the pants, but forgot… So it’s just these four that have the extra decoration, but they won’t be the only ones. There’s more, pretty coloured elastic on the way to me, and I found a couple of tees I no longer wear to cut up! I might be making these in dribs and drabs all year…
I’ve enjoyed looking out coloured elastics and digging out lingerie decorative items for those finishing touches.
This weekend I made yet another Burda top for my mum. It is her one and only favourite pattern, #143, March 2004. Sewn Bristol had a destash on Instagram a couple of weeks ago and I snapped up just over a metre of each of the red and blue tropical cotton poplin print. It’s got French seams, double turned hems and a bias trimmed neckline. I’ll be running up the red version in the next few weeks too, and then I need to get them shipped safely to South Africa without any pilfering fingers going off with them.
I also tried something new this week… I started knitting!! I know, I’m just as shocked! I found the wool in a charity shop, looked up suitable beginner patterns online, found a non-beginner one and went for it! I remembered how to do the rib part but needed help with the pattern for the rest. I joined a group of local knitters on Friday afternoon and soon was on my way. I ripped out loads, almost dumping it in the bin. But I stuck with it all Sunday and finally today finished it! I made a hat! It’s even wearable…
So in addition to another top for mum, and making more knickers than I could ever have thought possible, I need to decide on stuff for February’s instalment of the BurdaStyle Challenge 2018. I have to admit that this month’s issue is jam packed with perfectly make-able patterns. I’ve had a little browse through previous year’s February issues and this one still tops the numbers in options. So I need to get on with it!!
This project is a brilliant stash-bust! You know when you buy a piece of fabric that you just know can only be used for the perfect project. It’s that piece that may not necessarily have cost a lot of money, but it’s valuable, non the less. I have a couple of those, and this last week I finally used one! It’s a piece of ivory silk satin with grey, black and putty coloured spots. I recon I bought it at least 10 years ago, probably from Rosenberg & Son!
Silk blouse, 114 01/2016
I regularly haul it out of the silk box, pat it, promise it a pattern one day, and return it to the darkness. But it’s been out of the box since the Autumn, I was determined to find something! And that something is Blouse 114 from Burdastyle January 2016. The red version I made a couple of weeks ago has been a welcome addition to my wardrobe, I love the sleeves and the overall feel of the top. So I went for it!
Checking the channel I made is right for the grossgrain ribbon I’ve used for gathering the “shoulder” seam
Gathering the long edge of the sleeve into the narrow (by comparison) cuff takes a little while…
I added 3cm to the length of the original version, which followed the length for version A in the magazine. I also changed the hem depth to 2 cm so it would be easier to double fold. The slit in the centre front was lifted 3cm and I’m much more comfortable with that. Then I added 2cm to the bust depth, inserting a small dart in the side seam to keep the shape and length even. It’s worked pretty well, and for some reason feels roomier, width-ways, than the red top!
Details. Gathered channel on the forward shoulder seam, bias neck binding and tostitched front slit, back yoke with gathers in the lower back piece
It feels amazing to wear, the silk is just so drapey and lovely. The seams are all French seams so there’s no fraying, and that stuff did fray! I hand stitched the bias binding to the inside of the neckline. I figured that was one place I could do without wobbly visible stitching, and if there was a place my stitching would wobble, it would be there!
So that’s it for the January edition of the Burda challenge 2018, I have my sticky little paws on the February edition already (recon my phone calls to the manager of my local WHSmiths must have lit a bit of a fire under her chair) and have grand plans!!! I also have loads of knickers to finish… phew.
Hila has done a round up of some of the challenge projects done so far in January, go and take a look, and join in if you like!
Thanks to everyone who commented on the last post, I really do love that top – and the colour! It has made me re-think the colours I wear. Oh dear! I’m not giving up my nice, safe, easily matchable neutrals just yet, but I don’t see why a spot of red here and there would do any harm.
So, on to the latest stuff! I saw over last weekend, lots of Acacia Knickers being made and shown off on Instagram. It’s the latest pattern by Megan Nielsen and, if you sign up to her newsletter, it’s free! In my current eco-warrior, save the planet with reusing & recycling mode, I signed up and downloaded. I had to wait a few days for hubby to print it out for me. In the mean time I dug out all those small pieces of jersey from the boxes (and bags) in the stash cupboard. You’re always left with bits, the real scrap goes in the scrap bin for recycling, but what to do with the rest?
I had in mind to make more patch tee shirts like this one, but I’ve just not got there. So I decided I’d make knickers instead! Unfortunately, most of the leftover bits weren’t suitable for knickers. Too stretchy, too thin, not enough recovery, not suitable fibre content. But there was enough for me to cut out 10 pairs! I traced the XS, S and M seperately so I could place as many as possible in one go.
Hardly anything left from this fabric!
I also managed to find a fair bit of picot elastic in my lingerie goodies box, as well as several metres of fold over elastic – which I didn’t even know I had!! However, there wasn’t enough in the stash for all the pants I cut out… Knickers might not use much in the way of fabric, but they’re elastic gobblers! So I’ve got some finished, some halfway. I’ve not been partucularly fussy about the mixing and matching of the elastic either. If this is a stashbusting exercise, I’m doing a proper job!
The pattern only takes 6 A4 pages, so it’s a doddle to print and stick together. If you want to save the planet by not printing out the instructions you’ll manage just fine with them on your phone, tablet or laptop. As I said, I traced the sizes I wanted seperately using scraps of pattern paper from other projects. There are only 3 pieces, the gusset you cut twice. I had fun squeezing as many out of the fabric I had, and am considering using mis-matched fabric for those bits that there wasn’t enough for whole pants.
Sewing wise, they’re easy, but surprisingly time consuming. I didn’t use the overlocker, just set my machine to a slight zig zag stitch (it doesn’t have a stretch stitch setting – way to old for that!!) The gusset is sewn, then the side seams, then you attach the elastic. Quartering the waist for the pants and elastic works well, and simply, but for the legs I took it further. The first one I quartered, but found with the curved shapes that I didn’t have enough control. So I marked the leg opening and the corresponding elastic with eighths. It takes longer to do, but it’s worth it for me!
Marking eighths for the leg elastic
I will have to buy more knicker elastic to finish off what I’ve cut, and I am seriously considering making many, many more. There must be tee shirts in the cupboards that I can cut up, right? Something with a little hole in it, or a stain that won’t go away. Or tees that no longer fit… I was also thinking of doing the rounds of the local charity shops for tees that they can’t sell (holes and stains), making more knickers and donating them. I know women’s shelters are always looking for all sorts of clothing. Then again, refugee centres and those collecting clothing to send to war zones and refugee camps could also do with donations of knickers!
Liberty print Cotton jersey from the deepest part of the stash, with mix and match elastic!
What better way to use a free pattern than donating what you make??
The weirdest thing happened to me this weekend. I had traced off the Burda blouse #114 from January 2016 and was ready to toile. In the stash, lurked a length of red and white viscose crepe, kindly swapped by Del almost 2 years ago. I never could think of what to use it for, but I thought this time, try for a wearable toile. I had already checked width measurements etc, so was sure the pattern would be 75% fine, I just needed to know what changes to make to make the pattern 100%.
I cut the straight 44, version A length. The pattern makes up easily enough, there’s nothing complicated in the instructions. I opted not to have the buttonhole in the yoke to allow the drawstrings out, instead I pinned the cord in place until I was ready to bind the neckline. By then I knew how much pulling up I wanted. I’m not sure I really want dangly bits on the final blouse either, to be honest. There’s an awful lot of gathering on the lower sleeve, it’s a good idea to mark the half and quarter and then line that up with the half and quarter on the bias “cuff”. That way you’ll get equal distribution of the fullness.
The finishing touch of adding a loop and buttonhole to the neck binding has been left off, I wanted to see what it would look like without that, and how much the front hangs open! I think I’m more likely to wear it this way than buttoned up anyway, so I’ll raise the point for the slit by about 3-4cm. I like my bras, but I don’t really want to be showing them off to all and sundry when I lean forward!
So, now that the toile is done I know the width is perfect, I do need length in the front though. The front bust depth needs about 3cm added, so I’ll do that on the pattern pieces, adding a dart in the side to control the extra length. I also think it’s a little short for all purposes. While I’m wearing the blouse with my jeans (high waisted Birkin Flares) it’s fine, but with a pair of Morgans or any trouser that sits lower than the natural waist, I’ll be showing off bits no-one needs to see! So the overall length needs to increase by about 5cm to make me happy and comfortable. Apart from that, it’s all good!!
And the weird thing that happened? I’m wearing a red blouse, and I love it!!! Now to make some more versions of this pattern, I’m thinking navy viscose for sure, and I might even finally cut my spotty silk. That’s been hiding in the stash for at least 10 years, only comes out to be patted now and then!
I decided it would be a bit of an overload if I included these projects in the previous post of pyjama gifts. Sometimes less is more. This time I’m showing a couple of tops I’ve made for my Mum. The pattern is one that has been used so very many times, I honestly can say I have lost count of how many versions of this top have been made for her. It’s #134 from the March 2004 issue of Burda magazine.
The magazine version is made with raw edges on neckline, sleeves and hem. They’ve also got bias cut strips sewn diagonally across the front. Now, mum is even less interested in “fluff” on her clothes than I am, so these bias strips have never seen the light of day on one of her tops. She’s also not into raw edges. So I’ve added 1.5cm hems to the sleeves and hem which are double turned and topstitched to keep everything nice and neat.
There are only three main pattern pieces, front, back and sleeves. It’s cut on the bias, but even so you don’t need an awful lot of fabric for this garment, just 1.2m of 150cm wide fabric will do the trick. For finishing off the neckline I add a 4cm wide bias strip, sewn with a 1cm allowance. Sometimes it’s double folded and turned to the inside, sometimes it’s folded up and exposed, as you would a jersey neckband. All depends on how I feel doing it at the time! French seams have been used throughout, it makes for such a neat finish. I’ve also straightened the point at the neck to make it more of an angle than a curve.
The fabrics for these two tops came from Truro Fabrics in September. The red is a cotton voile, that I only realised had flaws after I’d cut out the pieces. Unfortunately they were placed on the fabric so that I wouldn’t have had a chance of avoiding them even if I had noticed them in time. They aren’t obvious and shouldn’t be too weak, but just incase, I reinforced the back of those areas with some fine sheer polyester fusible interfacing.
The blue shell fabric is a lovely crisp cotton lawn, I love the dramatic colour contrast and I hope Mum will too! These will make a good adition to her summer wardrobe, the blue shell top might even make it to winter, to be worn under a cardi or light jumper. It never really gets that cold on the coast where they live. Not like the snow and -7C temperatures we’ve had here in the last few days! But I’m not complaining, I love snow!
For Dad I chose to crochet a throw/lap blanket. Before my local wool shop and haberdashery closes forever on Chrismas eve, I grapped a load of wool on the cheap and proceeded to get busy with the crochet hook. The blanket is about 1m wide and 1.2m long, so big enough as a cover while watching the telly in the winter. I chose dark grey, teal, oatmeal and a lime for a bit of pop and make a few versions of a couple of different granny squares, trying to make the colours as varied as possible. Some of the squares I used can be found on this list.
Crochet throw/lap blanket
It’s lovely to give handmade items as Christmas gifts, but you do have to plan in advance, because if you wait for the beginning of December to wake up, you’ll have to make really quick and easy projects! I might just do this again next year, starting my making in October seems to be about right.
While I haven’t made something from this year’s January Burda, I have finally made something I’d marked from the 2012 January! Yippee! It always wanted the right fabric, and I never really had it. Technically, the “right fabric” this time was intended for another pair of trousers, but as it happened to be out and available and spotted just in time, it’s now a top!
Technical drawing for top 121 01/2012
After listing all my options a few days ago, I thought I might as well start with toiling this pattern, as it was already traced out. I ran it up in a piece of viscose I’d got from a charity shop for toiling purposes. The fabric told me it was too soft and drapey for this particular top, the toile told me it was way too long!! I didn’t want a tunic/short dress, I wanted a top!
Top 121 January 2012
So I shortened the pattern by 11 cm, added length in the front for bust and a small dart to sort the side seam. I had traced the 44, and it has just the right amount of volume for me, so that length and little dart were all I needed for a FBA, no width needed. The original pattern has an exposed zip in the back seam and the front is plain, this wouldn’t work for me. I didn’t want a zip, exposed or otherwise, and needed more detail on the front. I also prefer not to have too high a neckline, so fiddled around a little, dropping the front neckline a bit and adding a front opening. It’s just a little detail that makes it more wearable for me.
You can just see the sleeve dart here, it’s not a narrow sleeve!
More sleeve dart – The back and sleeve pattern piece is rather large.
The fabric I used in the end is a navy and grey windowpane worsted wool suiting I bought in November from Fabworks. It’s quite lightweight, and as a pair of trousers it would have had to have been lined. Luckily, as a top, it’s just fine! The top doesn’t have hems, you cut facings for the sleeves, front and back. I interfaced these with a polyester fine sheer fusible for a bit more stability.
I really like how the top has turned out, the back and sleeves are cut in one, so make sure your fabric is wide enough to cope! The odd shaped pieces meant pattern matching was going to be tricky, so I opted for matching the side seams and left the rest to fall where they may. The large dart in the sleeve narrows the width nicely at the wrist. I like the curved hemline, and the new length is pretty perfect.
Now I have plans to make another item from the list. I said in the review of last year’s sewing that I need a few more tops to go with all the new trousers I’d made, so it will be another top – and I want to use up some of the viscose pieces I have in the stash. So, I will be tracing Blouse 114 from January 2016, I need my sleeve kick!!
That’s round one of the #Burdachallenge2018 done, what’s on your list to make??
So, last year, or it could have been earlier this year, my Instagram feed was chocca block with sewists singing the praises of the Toaster Sweater and the Saunio Cardigan. It seemed every second person was sewing either one or both of these patterns. I didn’t get it, and made a Talvikki instead! However, I’m here to set things right. The Toaster pattern eventually made its way into my pattern collection and now that I’ve finally made it up, I know what all the fuss was about!
There are a lot of pieces, which means it needs a little more fabric than it would if, for instance there was no separate hem band and double folded cuffs. But it still only just needs 1.5m (all depending on how good you are at pattern piece tetris). And it’s quick to make. I start by pinning everything together that I can, the cuff seams, hem band side seam, back seam in the neck band and all the raglan shoulder seams, and feed them through the overlocker in a single long line. After that it’s quick to turn things the right way out, fold along foldlines and pin in place. It probably takes 2 hours, from starting to cut to the last finished stitch, quicker if you don’t topstitch the seams!
The reason why I reached for this pattern was a little post by Lesley (@sew_sleep_deprived) on Instagram. She’d just purchased two fleece throws from Asda, and was going to make Toaster sweaters with them. Good idea thinks me, quickly looking at Asda’s online offering of fleece throws. They have Christmas fleece throws – CHRISTMAS JUMPERS!! It took all of 2 seconds for me to decide I was going to follow her excellent example and get me some Christmas fleece throws! Daughter No1 is addicted to anything Christmassy and the iconic Christmas jumper is right up her street!
Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater
After hustling myself to the nearest Asda, I came away with a pack of two throws, one red with white dear and one plain cream. After ripping out all of the coverstitch hemming all round the red throw I started looking at the off grain pattern and wonky cut edges. Nothing lined up! I decided to sacrifice the pattern being straight for the straight grain and proceeded to lay out my pieces. It just all fits on, and that was the smallest size!
All seams are topstitched with a twin needle
But it’s so cute! And warm! It must be said that these fleece throws are 100% polyester and should be kept well away from open flames, Christmas candles etc! Of course when Daughter No2 saw the finished result, she wanted one too. She was happy to have the plain cream fleece, not being quite as wacky a dresser as her older sister!
Again, the grain and the edges of the throw did not line up, but it wasn’t as bad as the red one so it was easier to get everything on and cut out. She’s really happy with her new sweater, and I didn’t even need to lengthen the sleeves, a first, let me tell you! She has asked me to make it slightly less baggy in the back for the next time, it might just be the fabric though.
Only the cuffs, hem band and neck band were stitched on this version
So now it seems I have another TNT pattern, and have made another for Daughter No2 using a quilted navy jersey! It was run up on Sunday at my sewing group. This time, to make it less baggy I took in the side seams and made a very slight sway back adjustment. We’ll have to see if it worked. I love the fabric, again it’s 100% polyester though, but good colour! I just hope it doesn’t pill. I had hoped to cut two from the 2m length, but it wasn’t to be, so there’s enough for something else. Maybe the padded neckline sweater from the previous post…
I love finding patterns I like the finished look of, and like to make! It makes things quicker and I can almost picture my fabric in the pattern because I’ve used it so often! I have a few TNT patterns, from trousers to jackets to tops, and if this post and the previous one are anything to go by, the Talvikki, Toaster and that padded neckline Burda top have joined the list! I imagine it won’t be too long before she’s visiting from uni to collect the next instalment of additions to her winter wardrobe, there’s a coat toile waiting to be fitted…
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