Monday, July 20, 2015

Butterick See & Sew B5203 in vintage wool mix.


I made one of the tops of Butterick B5203 (bottom right pattern).  This is a pattern that my friend sent  from the U.S. for me. I like this style when I see it on other people but wouldn't pick it myself, so it's great that a friend picks something a bit different. It's for a floaty woven so I used a stable knit that's about the weight of ponte. It is from my Mum's stash from the '70's. When she saw this top, she remembered the fabric immediately and said she had planned to make a long coat - think '70's long coat. It is excellent quality but when washed it creases as bad as linen (!) but after ironing it springs back good as new (or really old as the case may is).

That scarf I seem to be pulling at due to the timer setting, was made by my friend with finger knitting. I love it as it doubles as a 'necklace' but also is warm enough for a winter's day in Brisbane (mostly). I have three in different colours (two she made and one was Mother's day gift from my son.)
Ok...sorry... shocking iPhone photos. I don't know why they are so bad (although sometimes my son turns some of those filters on). They were inside with a flash due to really bad day outside. Moving on.... you can just see the fine stripe that runs through this fabric...it's woven in which is handy as you can line up the stripes easily and keep everything on grain. Funnily, even with these bad photos the colour is pretty true... it is a very bright tomato red and the stripe is black/navy.


I tried to do a sway back adjustment but cut on the fold. I messed up somehow as the side seam does not run straight but curves to the front. I cut the size 8 at the top to the armscye end and then out to the 14 at the hip. I also cut the neckline a bit deeper as I don't like such a high neckline with a larger bust. It was still so big in the back neckline that I put in two short shoulder darts. This worked out very nicely and were really well done, but alas no photos. I put the sleeves in on the flat and I made use of the red thread in the coverstitch machine and finished the hems and sleeve hems with it and it worked perfectly. I made a band for the neckline and finished that with the coverstitch too. I should have shortened the band a bit as after washing it doesn't sit flat but with pressing it fixes it.


I wore this to a friend's birthday in the park during the school holidays with about 6 other Mums and all the children. I received many compliments and although it is great to have a heavy top for the winter, I think I'll give it to Mum as this orangey red doesn't really suit my sallow skin tone. I really like the pattern however and will use it again, hopefully soon. Incidentally, when I was at Spotlight yesterday, I tried to find this pattern in the pattern book, but it seems there are no See & Sew Patterns listed in there anymore (and I think in the U.S. they have the See & Sew range in a little rack you pick them off) but I find the See & Sew patterns are usually the same pattern used under some other number with more options - does that make sense?

I am still finishing off the Ottobre jacket/sweatshirt because I'm procrastinating putting the zip in. That's all that's left to do and hemming, which will be done with the coverstitch machine. I have to change that thread and move on from the red so I will try to finish it tomorrow after some appointments. Lets see :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

No clever title but "thanks".

I have been sewing and I finished a top yesterday from a pattern that my friend sent from the U.S.  - Butterick 5203 (bottom right with long sleeves). I used a fabric from my mother's stash and I wore it today for a friend's birthday celebration had at the park. Did I get a photo? No, of course not. So no photo today. I really like this pattern. It was easy and even though it is for woven, I made it out of some 1970's wool mix ponte type fabric.  Maybe in a few days.  It's a good pattern. I didn't think I'd like the points; I hated handkerchief hem skirts in the '70's or '80's or whenever they were popular. I have some woven fabrics I'd like to try for summer.  I also have some red wool out for that cape below too, but that's not till I finish the Ottobre jacket.



Remember these tops below. I made them for Alex for Christmas in UK last year. I hadn't seen them since but Alex brought them from his Dad's for our little mini-break to O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat last week. I have to say I am very impressed with the merino. They are like I made them.. no pilling, no fading, no shrinkage. It's great to have such good quality fabric and a garment last. I think they'll fit him next year too, but I'm not worried as, if you look below at the photo of me, you'll see I was wearing the grey one under my green t-shirt as I was so cold, so it fits me so when they don't fit him, they'll be mine. They really come up great - I love merino.



This is at O'Reilly's at the time the birds come in for feeding. My son LOVES the birds. We were there 4 days and I think we spent about 8 hours total with birds on some part of our anatomy. One day they weren't there at all and another there was just a few and one day we were there 3 hours! I'm telling you LOVED the birds.




We'd just come back from a bush walk hence the tired look, I also found it really difficult to sleep there so I was super tired but walking the bush and chatting to my son, looking at the birds and creatures (lucky it's winter so no snakes) was enough to keep me from just having a nap - oh and coffee!




So back to sewing! Thank you to all the comments on the coverstitch help. I took all the advice on board and applied it to my machine. Some things worked.... I pulled the nets off but ended up just keeping it off two spools. I cleaned between the plates and made sure the threads were threaded correctly. It worked! I haven't re tried with three needle threads but I haven't finished the jacket and have started two needle so will stick to that for now. The Butterick top I made also is red so I coverstitched it too with with the needle threads on the outside.

At some point one needle thread broke and I was stitching the pocket and it did this nice chain stitch - it's won't really be visible when it's finished so it's only a surprise for me.


The coverstitch seems to run really fast and have a very unresponsive foot pedal. I've read this with some reviews. I find it's hard to feel the acceleration well - it just seems to kick in after a delay so I find it hard to really control. You'll see from the photos below that I missed the correct spot for the needles to go into. To get this look the needles run on the inside of the garment. When I did the first run I'd missed covering the seam by about 2 mm.
This is the outside of the collar - see the peek or red on the edge.

The is the inside collar. The sleeve cuffs are also lined (opposite grain) in the red scrap from a friend. The cuffs and collar are constructed in a way that has the edge unfinished. I like the look and on the collar I kept the messy edge of the selvage to have a peek of red. The red is a very soft knit and I like the contrast too. 

See ... completely missed the seam line. Partly from speed and partly because I didn't know where to have the needles line up on the inside.

Some skipped stitches.. not noticed till I'd finished.

This is the front left of the jacket and my hand in the pocket.
I like how the jacket is coming along. I like the finish with the coverstitch and really takes knit garments up a notch. The finish on the the top is really professional looking and if you didn't know I'd made it it could pass for RTW. I haven't used it much, but if you like sewing knits and can afford one (even second hand) I recommend it but not necessarily the Brother. This is the only one I have used or seen even and I'm no expert by far!

I wanted to take it the jacket to O'Reilly's with us, and even though I was sewing the morning we left, I would have finished but for having to pick up my niece from the airport. I still have to sew the other side seam/arm seam up, insert the zip and hem it. Hopefully tomorrow. School holidays and lots of family things to do isn't allowing much time for sewing the last few days. Plus, even though it's winter and cold (for us) at night, the days are magical with temps in the 20's celsius so lots of outdoor things to do.  Anyway I did finish the top... even if I have no proof! ... yet ;)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Coverstitich HELP please !!!!


This the the Ottobre zip up sweatshirt I'm making. In the magazine it is made out of two colours but I am testing it with some merino terry backed nylon/lycra i.e. the merino is a terry loop on the wrong side with the right side being a nylon/lyrcra in a charcoal colour. I bought it at The Fabric Store for $8  per metre. It's great - wears well, is soft, spongy, really stretchy and warm. Washes a treat too. 


I wanted a contrasting zip but couldn't find one at my usual haunt of Trad's so shopped the stash and found a red one so decided I'd use the coverstitch (finally) to contrast stitch with red too. Ordinarily I really detest black (or close enough) with colours other than white ..... I'm not really sure why.... but I digress. I tested the three thread which I really like and it worked a treat on some lycra I had in the machine at the first and only test I'd done. Then I started on my panels but the middle needle thread kept breaking. I'm cutting this short. For about a total of 30 minutes of sewing I've either watched or read about threading and finishing on the coverstitch for about 4 hours. It's so frustrating. I've changed thread (sewing thread in the needles and overlocker thread in the looper as per the Pattern Review posts Belinda from the old blog Sew4Fun has recommended), I've changed tensions, and nothing I did worked for the 3 needles so I decided I'd just use 2 needles.



The photo below is the back which should have been cut on the fold but I didn't so I just overlocked it together. The fabric looks black but it's not. I haven't always got the coverstitching in the exact spot but it's my first time and overall I'm pleased with the results but not the process.


It still breaks the 3rd needle (when using only the 1st and 3rd needles) or the looper thread. Any tips anyone? I bought this machine 2nd hand but it was serviced in December so should work. The threads seem very taut between the spools and the start of the threading. 

Then to make it worse,  the overlocker threw a wobbly and one of the loopers jumped out. Is it just me and machines lately. I've spent way, way more time being frustrated, watching You Tube, reading tutorials and hints and unpicking than actually sewing. I want to get this finished for Saturday so if anyone has any tips I'd be grateful :) Anyone else have this much trouble getting something done?


Monday, June 22, 2015

I fought the Elna and I WON!


I finished my shirt last night. This is how I wore it today, with my jacket. I wasn't sure about it like this but at an appointment I had this morning, I had 3 people go WOW great outfit and then they were super surprised that I made the jacket and shirt.

Thank you for all the suggestions in the comments. I took most of them up. I put a strip of interfacing in between the facing and the front and that seemed to do the trick. I also reset the machine every time too, by turing it on and off. A bit annoying but not very time consuming so it wasn't worth not doing it - just in case ;)!




The cuff and button. I thought the shirt would be just too plain so I decided to put some little details like the pink button holes and sewing the buttons on in pink thread too.


This was inspired by the hanging loop and the feature strip on the the collar. This pattern doesn't have a yoke so changed it to with yoke and also a pleat of fabric in the back so it wouldn't be bigger on my shoulders but fit my derriere! Lucky I did this because if I hadn't there is no way it would have fit.

Changing the yoke wasn't even a matter of drafting the piece. I just put a fold where I wanted the yoke to end, added a seam allowance and then did the same to the bottom piece of the shirt adding the  seam allowance again. Easy peasy. Because I wanted the yoke to be on the bias, I had to cut the outer yoke out of scrap and I had to piece it, but I like the look even though there wasn't enough fabric to actually cut it exactly on the bias hence it doesn't meet up nicely but I tried.

The floral feature fabric was scrap from a dress I made years ago, it was way too small even though I made a 12, and recently I gave it to a friend's daughter. (she loves it). Really there was nothing left of the scraps. I wanted to make the one piece (folded) cuff into a faced one with the floral fabric but I just didn't have anywhere near enough for that.



I did have enough for the inside collar stand. I really like the pink highlights with this shirt and I think it really needs it.


Shirt after wearing so is rumpled, sorry.

I don't know if you can see it (and I wasn't trying) but the buttons have some writing on them. It says "QANTAS" Australia's national airline. Funnily, I did work for QANTAS before having my son, but not with a uniform that had buttons so I didn't harvest these. I must have bought buttons at an op shop somewhere and never noticed! Overall I'm very happy with my shirt even though I feel like a "woman wearing comfortable shoes" in it. Thanks again for your hints in overpowering taming the machine.

What's next? I have many things a zip up merino knit jacket from an Ottobre pattern cut out and I'd like to get this made and a pair of jeans (not cut yet) for a little trip we are taking to the mountains not far away in the future, where it will be much colder than our winter daily of about 21 degrees celsius. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My fire is put out.... why do I sew again??

I was really chugging along with my sewing and my shirt, McCall's 8053 modified, was looking good. I was am really pleased with how it has turned out so far, up until I tried to do button holes. That's when my fire was put out.

A bit of history... my first machine had a 4 step button hole, which I think makes it more fiddly to make exact size button holes. When I bought my current daily machine (Elna Elina 40, Aldi branded machine which I am very happy with), all the upgrade I really wanted was a 1 step button hole. Put the button on the button hole foot and it does the exact size to match the button. PERFECT! I've made a few things the last few years with one button hole here or there, but the last time I made something with lots of button holes was about 1994 maybe; a dress, red swiss cotton with 5cm white polka dots and tiny buttons all down the front - about 20 from memory. I need 12 button holes for this shirt. 

The photo is a bit blurry but you get the idea. 
Good seamstress that I am not, I even did a few tests. I tested if I liked the oval end or the standard button hole and tensions and decided the standard one was a much sharper finish. I started with the collar stand button hole.... went well. (oh there is a reason for the pink button holes - I'll tell you when I show the shirt later today I hope).


Then I made the next hole down..... for no apparent reason, it started not getting fed along properly and then it started making a wider row! I checked there was no bunching underneath, I cleaned out the bobbin area, changed bobbin thread. I unpicked it, did another one and it started doing the same thing (there was a lot of bad words at this stage... no, I mean a lot!).  The fabric is getting a bit worn now. Should I change the needle... I haven't done that.


Then I did another one and ended up with one that was perfect but overall too small! Why it did this I have no idea. Instead of unpicking that one, I just moved to the next button hole and it did a small row of tight, very short stitches. To say I was annoyed is really an understatement.

I thought the automatic button hole was supposed to help me along but boy is it frustrating. Anyone else have this problem? I think maybe the machine was unhappy with me for going for a swim instead of doing the button holes during the day. Anyone else anthropomorphise machines? I mean, think if your overlocker doesn't want to play. That's when I normally have trouble. Then you can go back after you give it (the machine and/or the trying) a rest and everything ticks like a clock.

Any tips anyone? Anyone.....