Sunday, 28 August 2016

Thoughts on Gingham

Hoorah for gingham! It's so fresh, so crisp, so perfectly ordered, it's definitely one of my favourite fabric patterns. I've always loved it, so when Karen announced she was running a Ginghamalong at Did You Make That? I was onto it like a shot.

The big question is, what kind of gingham masterpiece shall I attempt to make? I have a gingham board on Pinterest which is chock-a-block with inspiration. I've also sewn a lot with it over the years, making tops and blouses (here, here and here), dresses (here, here and here) and skirts (here and here). But the gingham item I've worn most by a million miles is my 1950's sleeveless blouse, now sadly deceased. 

I loved that top and it had a good life - I literally wore it until it fell to bits! There's just something about navy gingham that seems to work for me. 

With my gingham twin Scruffy Badger
I've been making a concerted effort recently to only sew things I know I'll actually wear, so a classic navy gingham shirt seems to be the way forward. It's not the most exciting choice in the world but it's certainly chic.

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest
Image from Pinterest
I love the fit on the Sewaholic Granville Shirt, so that's the pattern I'll be using. I'll probably keep the sleeves short or even go sleeveless as I find long sleeved shirts are a massive pain under fitted cardigans. I've ordered my fabric (½' yarn dyed cotton) and can't wait to get started!

That's what I'm up to gingham-wise, how about you? Are you taking part in the Ginghamalong? And, more importantly, what are you making?!! x

Monday, 15 August 2016

Vintage Shoulder Tie Tutorial

My Vintage Pledge Shoulder Tie Top has been such a success I thought I'd whip up another one in a summery fabric for my holiday.

The pattern is a Woman's Own mail order pattern from 1961 and this latest version is made from some lightweight polka dot lawn I received from Cindy a few years ago. I've used quite a lot of it for various linings, but with some imaginative cutting out there was just enough left for this top (I cut the front pattern piece on the fold, which eliminates the front split). The neck and armholes are finished with all-in-one facings, which I had terrible trouble getting to grips with when I used them on my Betty dress. I've since discovered a step-by-step guide to sewing them on the Sew Over It blog which finally made something click in my brain - I'd definitely recommend it for this technique. Everything is finished by machine which gives the facings a clean, professional feel.

The thing I like about this top is that the shoulder ties are removable so it can be worn two ways. It performs valiantly as a plain, no nonsense tank top….

But add the shoulder ties and there's suddenly a suggestion of gathers to the shoulders and a touch of vintage interest, yay!

They're easy to make too. So easy in fact that I've put together a tutorial if you'd like to make your own. Read on if you're interested, otherwise, see you next time! x

Vintage Style Shoulder Ties
The ties can be added to any sleeveless tank or singlet - I simply knot mine once around the shoulder seams and they seem to stay in place all day. If you prefer a smaller tie or have particularly slippery fabric then tying a double knot will make them even more secure.

It's also your choice whether or not you interface your ties. I didn't use interfacing on either of the two versions I've made and I like the resulting drapey effect. Adding interfacing will probably result in a more structured tie.

Please note that the measurements for the ties are taken directly from my vintage pattern piece and are in inches as that's how they were drafted.  The seam allowance for this project is ½".

You will need 
Half a yard/metre of fabric with selvedges folded into the centre so you have two folded edges.
Paper, pencil and ruler

1. Mark a rectangle on your paper 16.5" long x 2 ⅝" wide and cut out.

2. At one end of the rectangle you'll need to mark out three measurements as shown below:

1 ¼" along the top edge
1 ⅝" in along the bottom edge
1 ½" up from bottom left hand corner

3. Join the measurements together and cut along the lines to make a point.

4. Repeat at the other end (you can simply fold your paper in half widthways and draw round the point).

5. Mark a fold line along the top edge.

You should now have a pattern piece that looks like this, with the lower diagonal lines slightly longer than the upper ones.

6. Place your pattern on the fold(s) of your fabric and cut two separate pieces. This is what each piece should look like opened out.

7. Fold the fabric lengthwise with right sides together and place two pins about 2 - 3 inches apart in the middle of the unfolded edge. The pins will mark your turning gap. Pin the rest of the edges together if you need to.

8. Starting at one corner along the folded edge, sew right round the edge using a ½" seam allowance. Stop when you get to the pin marker. Repeat on the other side.

I sewed this sample with black thread so you can see the line of stitches.

9. Trim the seam allowances and snip off the corners on the pointed edge to reduce bulk, then turn your tie the right way round.

10. Poke into your corners with a point turner or similar to ensure you have a nice pointed end.
Give the tie a good press, making sure the seam allowance of the turning gap is pressed under too.

11. Machine stitch across the turning gap close to the edge (or catch stitch by hand if you prefer).  Repeat for the other tie. Ta-da - two lovely shoulder ties!

Don't worry if your pointed edges aren't perfectly symmetrical - as you can see from the examples above, mine certainly aren't! Once they're tied onto the shoulders it's not noticeable at all. Wear with pride! x

As always, if there's anything that doesn't make sense, please let me know in the comments. Have a good week! x

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Maritime Shorts

Oooh look! Lovely new blue shorts! They're the Maritime Shorts by Grainline Studio and I love them to bits, but they weren't an easy sew…

This was mostly down to a silly error I made regarding the instructions (sigh). The area I struggled with most was the zip fly, a few of the steps seemed to be incorrect and some of the diagrams were downright confusing. After eventually working out how it all went together, I decided to email Grainline to point out the errors I'd encountered. It was only when I was looking up Grainline's email address that I discovered an old email from them which included (you guessed it) updated PDF instructions for the fly steps. Nooooooo! When I looked at the new instructions (with gritted teeth I might add), every single point that I'd struggled with was explained more clearly and/or a different diagram used. Grrr I'm so annoyed at myself for not updating my PDF file when I first received it. I still don't think the new fly instructions are absolutely foolproof, but they're a vast improvement on the earlier version.

If you have no prior experience of sewing a zip fly then I'd recommend using the step-by-step tutorial on the Grainline blog alongside the written instructions. It definitely helped me figure out what to do when I was floundering!

Apart from the zip fly, construction of the shorts is relatively straight forward. Just take note that the very first step on the curved side pockets involves sewing convex and concave curves together - once you've figured that bit out, you're laughing.

I like how the rear patch pockets have a nice, clean finish to them once they're topstitched into position. By the way, the top folded edge is actually supposed to be on the inside of the pocket but I prefer it this way round.

For the front pocket lining I used a soft blue cotton, which gives a cute little burst of floral to the insides.

The fit is amazingly good. I was tempted to size up 'just in case', but I knew my fabric had a lot of stretch, so I cut the size that corresponded to my actual measurements - size 6. I fully expected to have to tweak the centre back waistband as I'd read a few reviews mentioning excess room in that area, but they don't gape at all.

I love the fit - they sit snugly just below my natural waistline and are really comfortable. There isn't any digging in at the waist and the width of the thigh is just right. This makes me happy as I've tried on lots of shorter length RTW shorts recently and not one pair did me any favours. To get a comfortable fit at the waist, they're always either too big round the hips or wide in the leg (think Don Estelle).

The fabric is a medium weight stretch cotton sateen from Fabric Godmother with a slight sheen to it. It's perfect for shorts as it's easy to cut out and sew and very robust. If you like the look of this particular pattern and fabric combo then Fabric Godmother also sells a Maritime Shorts Kit which includes the pattern, fabric and notions and works out slightly cheaper than buying everything separately.

As shorts go they're a bit shorter than I'd usually wear out, but for holidays and hot days they're absolutely perfect. This pair are going straight into my suitcase, ready for my holiday in a couple of weeks time! I'm pretty sure I'll make another pair next year too, just as soon as I've put the horror of the zip fly behind me! x

Fabric for the shorts was given to me free of charge by Fabric Godmother for review. All views my own.

Monday, 1 August 2016

OWOP is back!

Hands up who remembers OWOP (One Week, One Pattern)? Of course you do, it's the group sewing challenge where participants wear variations of the same pattern, every day for a week! The original challenge was created by Tilly in 2012, I resurrected it in 2014 and now Hannah from Cinderellis Sews is hosting a new challenge for 2016. Hoorah! 
My favourite part of both challenges was working out all the different mix and match combinations with my chosen pattern. In 2012 I chose the Colette Ginger skirt, a high waisted A-line skirt that proved to be endlessly versatile. For the last challenge I went for a vintage pattern - Simplicity 4238 - a 1950's button up blouse that's become a real wardrobe staple.

The big question is, what to choose this time round? You may have noticed I've been more than a little obsessed with New Look 6217 of late (I have three versions of the top and two versions of the skirt), so that's currently the strongest contender. However, I also absolutely LOVE my Sewaholic Granville shirts and although I only have two versions (here and here) they're both solid colours, so they match absolutely everything. The Granville shirt would certainly be a greater challenge, but may be a bit too similar to the last pattern, what do you think?

If you'd like to join in, One Week, One Pattern 2016 will run from Saturday 10th September until Friday 16th September. You can sign up and find out further details about OWOP on Cinderellis Sews. There will also be a series of exciting guest posts on her blog over the next few weeks (including ME on August 6th!) and fabulous giveaways for every day of the challenge. Wahay! x

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Another New Look 6217 skirt…and top

I told you I wasn't finished with New Look 6217 just yet! After helping my friend Emma to make her Budgie Skirt I had a sudden yearning to make another one for myself. The good thing about this pattern is that both front and back pieces are cut on the fold (the zip's in the side seam). So as long as you have a wideish piece of fabric where the selvedges can be folded into the centre, you only need a very small amount. Gratifyingly I managed to use up the last half metre of stretch polka dot denim from my Ultimate Trousers, yes!

I sewed a straight size 12 again, but could probably have done with sizing down at the waist as the fabric has so much stretch to it. I'm intending to wear this skirt a LOT over the coming months though, so it's nice to know I'll have a bit of a pie eating safety net built in!

To finish the waist I made self bias binding instead of the twill tape the pattern specifies. Because of the stretch in the fabric I cut the binding on the straight grain instead of the bias and it worked a treat. 

But wait, there's more….. I picked up two lovely Swiss Dot cottons (one red, one navy) at the Fabric Godmother Open Day on Saturday and the red one seems to have magically transformed itself into a New Look 6217 top! I've used Swiss Dot fabric once before when I made a sleeveless Granville shirt and it's perfect for summer dressmaking. I underlined the pattern pieces on that occasion as the fabric was very transparent, but didn't bother this time as the colour is much darker. The resulting top is beautifully light and airy for summer, I definitely think this pattern benefits from using a fabric with lots of drape.

As before (here and here) I sewed a size 12 at the bust, grading down to a 10 at the waist and hips. I lengthened the pattern by one inch this time and it's a nice length on me either tucked in or untucked. As the fabric is quite fine I used French seams throughout and finished the neckline with red bias tape from my stash. Easy peasy.

It's also a perfect match with my new skirt! Have a good day!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Exciting announcement!

I'm very proud (and excited!) to announce that I've written a sewing book for children!! Get Into: Sewing will be published by Wayland Books on 8th September 2016. I know!! I can't quite believe it either!!

Wayland is a non-fiction children's publisher and Get Into: Sewing is part of a creative craft series designed to get kids interested in popular hobbies. I was commissioned to write the sewing title and I couldn't be prouder! Other titles in the series are Knitting, Gardening, Baking, Drawing and Photography, all due to be published in the autumn. 

The book starts by demonstrating simple, hand stitching techniques, then guides the reader through eleven easy-to-follow sewing projects. The projects are fun and colourful and are all designed for hand sewing. They gradually increase in difficulty, starting with a simple lavender bag and working up to a drawstring bag and a set of juggling balls! The age range for the series is 8-11 year olds. Here's a sneaky peek of one of the easier projects:

It was great fun putting together the different projects in the book and I can't wait to share more of them nearer the release date. In the meantime, if you like what you see and have any children, nephews, nieces or friends who might enjoy it, it's available to pre-order on Amazon here!! Eeeeekkkkk! I hope you like it!

And finally…. my book doesn't have a printed dedication, so I'm going to give one here on the blog:

To Hannah, with lots of love 

Hannah is our eight year old niece in Australia. She's currently recovering from a serious riding accident and is making the most amazing progress. She's also super crafty: I know she likes sewing and was knitting up a storm when she visited last year! I can't think of anybody more perfectly suited to dedicate my book to. Go Hannah, you're awesome! x

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Vintage Pledge Shoulder Tie Top

July is all about vintage at the moment as stitchers across the land get well and truly involved with the Vintage Pledge July Extravaganza. This has been organised by Vintage Pledge hosts, Marie and Kerry and includes daily guest bloggers, a month long #vpjuly daily photo prompt on Instagram and LOTS of prizes. You can read more about what they have in store throughout the month here.

I was delighted to be one of the guest bloggers and the summer top I made from a vintage pattern was featured on A Stitching Odyssey last week. I'm posting pictures and details on my blog again today, just in case you missed it!

The pattern I chose was Woman's Own 5003 - a mail order pattern from 1961. The pattern is for two different summer tops: a wrap top that can be made with or without sleeves or a boxy top with shoulder ties. By happy coincidence I bought the pattern from Vintage Pattern Pledge's Kerry when she was having a destash earlier this year!

Isn't the envelope illustration adorable?! It's one of the main reasons I bought the pattern. Both tops are quite timeless designs and I could easily see the two styles slotting seamlessly into my wardrobe. 

It took me an age to decide which of the two versions to sew as I was drawn to both, but in the end the decision was dictated by the fabric. I knew I wanted to use this beautiful Liberty lawn Lilac print that I picked up on a day out with Ashley earlier this year.

I absolutely love the colours, especially the contrast between the background red and the green leaves.  It was available in lots of different colours when I bought it, but only seems to be listed in grey/lilac now unfortunately. Actually I think Charlotte used the same fabric (in a different colourway) to make her dressing gown on the Great British Sewing Bee.

As we all know, Liberty lawn is ridiculously expensive, so I only bought a metre. It was only when I was inspecting the pattern that I realised a metre was never going to be enough to make the wrap/tie version, however skilfully I laid out those pieces. So the decision was made for me - the shoulder tie top it was.

This is a very straight forward top to sew: a simple sleeveless tank with bust darts, slightly shaped side seams and a cute, notched bottom edge. The blouse also has separate shoulder ties/bows.

The pattern was for a size 36 bust and the overall fit was pretty good. The only small changes I made were to lower the bust darts by an inch and add 1½" to the overall length. The instructions were brief, but perfectly clear and the whole top sewed together quickly. The necklines and armholes were given a lovely clean finish with an all-in-one facing - very satisfying! 

The shoulder ties are supposed to be threaded through buttonholes made in the shoulder facings. Sadly, my buttonholes foot isn't working at the moment, so I just knotted the bows around each shoulder instead - they seem to be working fine so far!

The blouse has more of a boxy shape than I'm used to, but I still really like it. My favourite part is the shoulder ties - they give an otherwise plain pattern a lovely vintage twist. I'd love to try the sleeveless wrap version too at some point. Overall it's a perfect little blouse for summer and is a great match with my sailor shorts!  

This blouse counts as the second part of my Vintage Pledge for 2016. My pledge was to sew two items from vintage patterns - one suitable for winter and one suitable for summer. The winter part was taken care of when I made my Topper coat, so this here blouse is the summer part!

Joining in with the #vpjuly daily photo prompts on Instagram has been enormous fun. The vintage themed photos posted so far have been truly inspirational and I've discovered some great new bloggers to follow. If you want to check out what I've been posting you can find me on Instagram here (@janemarland).

Have a wonderful week! x


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