Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Rolling in Clover

Nearly the end of the day and the Clovers are done.
OK OK OK, so you were all right and I was wrong - after the toile (muslin) and fitting and cutting and clipping and trimming and re-sewing that was involved in the first pair, today's just sewed up fine, first time around, including the zip! 
In fact I had time to spare, so I made a few additions to the pattern.

If you're really interested, I cut a 12 on the fronts and a 10 for the backs and did a bit of taking in at the waist, which is normal for me and trousers (pants) that sit at the natural waist line. 

I intended to do a quick sew - couple of hours at most and then concentrate on the vintage jacket, but Frabjous made me feel guilty, so I at least made an attempt at proper sewing and zig-zag stitched the seam allowances. After trying the trousers(pants) on, the fineness of the fabric became clear and I desired a more substantial feel to them. So, also in keeping with proper sewing, I decided to line them and found some cheap stretchy lining fabric in the box. Clover 2 fabric came from My Fabrics - it is quite a fine wool with 3% lycra, an orange pin stripe and looked dark brown on the computer screen but in real life is more khaki. Now I have to make something else to wear with them!
Now, pay attention, I am going to try to explain a brilliant way of attaching lining to a waistband. I read this at Paco's tutorial about his half-circle skirt - it is not my idea but I believe this method is used in RTW. It is simple, easy to do and hides all the stitches. I usually hand stitch lining to the waistband, but today was about quick sewing.

Construct your Clovers as per the step-by-step instructions that Colette have written until you reach attaching the waistband facing.  Attach the waistband facing but do not turn under or finish the raw edge. Sew up the lining pieces, only the legs no waistbands needed.  Sew your lining to this edge, right sides together.  The positioning of this can be a bit tricky making sure that the lining is the correct way. Pin and turn the right way out just to make sure. When happy - sew. On the left is an image of what it should like like: left - trousers, then the interfaced waistband, the facing and the lining. All inside out. Do not trim seam allowances.

Keeping the garment inside out, pinch the seam allowances from the facing and lining with the seam allowance of the trouser (pants) and waistband. Match up the notches etc to avoid twisting the fabrics.
The waistband is now folded over on the outside like the finished garment, but it's a mess inside. That's fine - carry on. You are aiming to trap the interfacing between the seam allowances. Sew.

Now you can trim. Flip the lining right way out and stuff down the legs and voila, all the seams are hidden with invisible stitching. 

The downside is that you might have to figure out another method than Colette recommend for attaching the waistband facing to the zip. I just folded everything to the inside out of the way and slip stitched the facing and lining to the zip tape. See, a real bit of sewing!

The changes I made to Clover 2 are -

  1. Cut the waistband on the cross grain to get a horizontal stripe across the top.
  2. Lined, see above.
  3. Added turn-ups (cuffs).
  4. Did not fret or agonise over a few wrinkles - these are looser that Clover 1 but feel just as secure because of the lining.

My method for making and attaching the turn-ups (cuffs) is not scientific in the least. Here's what I did. Made two bands, on the cross-grain, to match the waistband, folded them over wrong sides together, lining up the the edges with the bottom of the legs and straight sewed them to the leg hem line. Trimmed and zig-zagged. Turned them to the outside (right way out) of the legs and steam pressed them into position. Needle and thread time again - slip stitched the turn-ups(cuffs) to the legs so that they don't fall down when walking. Done.

Now follows some unintentional special effects photography of the finished article. 

Invisible zippers that are gradually becoming invisible!
Turn-up (cuff)
Side view
Front view

Thanks for reading. Ruth

Compensation Clovers

I think I understand the emotional loyalties Clover has created. It was not, and is not, my my intention to ever distress anyone and I know we all have our favourite pattern makers in much the same way that we all have our own personal style preferences. It's what makes the world an interesting place to live. If any of you ever complained about a Vogue pattern I'd delete you from my bloglist and post anonymous comments on your blog! Only joking.....

I know I nerped (moaned) about the fit of Clover but Knitter's Delight was right, the next 1,5m of stretch wool has already been ordered and delivered  in anticipation of the second pair gracing my legs. I suppose pattern companies are a little like RTW, a size 14 in one shop is a completely different fit in another.

So, no more complaining - just sewing.

Today is a strike day for public sector workers in the UK. I am certainly not going to put my tuppence worth in here about the value of strikes or what they achieve - I mean, I was electronically berated about a pair of trousers (pants) only last week! My union called for strike action and as a teacher I am a public sector worker, so I'm playing the conformist.

I'll lose a day's pay but gain a day's sewing. Life's just full of compensations.

So by end of play today I should have another pair of Clovers RTW. And on that subject...... While I'm doing quick, easy things - you know Pants in a Day, sort of thing, I read Frabjous. Oh the guilt and inadequacy is overwhelming - she's doing full haute couture - underlining, seam finishes - the works on a pair of Clovers. Absolutely brilliant!

So I might just line this new pair to make me feel better about myself.

Also, so that I feel I'm contributing something worthwhile to the international sewing community, I thought I'd share this little tip. For some of you this may seem to be the most obvious thing in the world and you're probably already doing it but I only just figured it out recently -

When you find a pattern that you know will be made over and over (TNT), after cutting out, fold all the pieces carefully with the number or letter and piece name facing out - it only takes a few minutes. Then the next time you're making the garment, all the pieces are easy to find and you recover the lost minutes spent folding them in the first place. See, compensations are everywhere.

Thanks for reading. Ruth

Monday, 28 November 2011

Paco's Unique Jacket


(Also check out the previous post about the perils of sewing with napped fabric. Teenage son figured out how to link a PDF to the blog so you can download these instructions and easily print them out - if you really want to. There's a link at the bottom of the post.)(I always knew there was some reason for having children)

Easy – straight seams only
Middling –requires a little thought and effort
Hard – requires concentration (no wine, no demanding children, no whinging husbands or partners, no laundry or ‘what’s for’ dinner thoughts allowed)

The Beginning – MIDDLING

1.      Pattern pieces: cut out in the same direction, ie. top to bottom on your fabric, unless you want to go for an effect for example, vertical on the lower half against horizontal on the front and sleeves.
2.      Cut four pockets, one upper back on fold, one lower back on fold, one back neck facing, two of every front piece. To reduce bulk, cut two of the pocket pieces from a matching lining fabric.
3.      Depending on your fabric, you may want to add extra body and shape to the lapels, in that case cut two front facings of interfacing as well; for a couture finish also add interfacing along the sleeve and jacket hems.
4.      Mark all ‘dots’ with tailor tacking or tailor’s chalk on the fabric – you will need these later. And really, there aren’t that many, so just do it.

Front – lower front, upper front with sleeve, lapel/front facing, pocket

Back – lower back (cut on fold), upper back with sleeve, back/neck facing

5.      EASY: Getting ready - reinforcements prior to construction.

Spend just a little time (I mean really only, 15 minutes or so) on strengthing the joins that will have the most stress when you are wearing the jacket, it will save mending time later and improve the shape!

Sew a strip of cotton tape to the edge of every pocket (four times).

For both upper fronts and upper back reinforce with small stitches where the sleeve meets the body. Set your machine stitch to 1.5mm and just slightly in from the 1.5cm (5/8”) seam allowance [approx 1.3cm/4/8”) sew about 5cm (2”) from the marked ‘dot’, pivot and sew another 5cm (2”) along the edge [see the pink line]. Then cut from the edge to this stitching.

6.      EASY: Whoopee – Sewing!

Back to regular sewing stitch size, probably 2mm or 2.5mm. Right sides together sew the pockets to the lower fronts and lower back (right over the tape) about a stitching foot width (6mm) from the edges, making sure to balance the ‘dots’ across the pockets.

Lower fronts with pockets                                      

7.      EASY BIT.  Sew lower back to upper back, stopping at ‘dots’, close, but NOT to the edges.

     EASY/MIDDLING. Front facings.

      Decide which side you want to button your jacket. Traditionally, for women it’s on the left, so the buttonhole is on the right, this is what I’m doing here.

     Get your upper fronts at the ready: you need both upper front pieces and their facings, right sides together. Remember, the left front in the picture is actually the right, and the right front in the picture is really the left – need to do to a bit of mental rotation for this! See the buttonhole marks?

    Sew the front facing on the vertical outside edge and around the neck to the marked ‘dot’ only on the left front. 


                              On the right hand side, sew only on the vertical edge.


EASY BIT. Open out the facing on the left-hand side, press and trim. Sew the lower front to the upper front, right sides together, from ‘dot’ at arm scythe to edge of front facing. (Don’t worry about my picture and the fact that the two don’t match – that’s my inaccurate cutting)
That is the left front done for the time being so put it aside. Time to focus……..

       MIDDLING: the buttonhole side.
Do the same on the right hand side as you did for the left-hand side joining the upper and lower front BUT, see where you marked those buttonholes? Don’t sew across them. Sew up to the mark, back stitch a bit to secure the seam, lift the needle and sewing foot and start again beyond the hole. Do this twice as marked.

The result is a seam with holes in it. Perfect.

Depending on the fabric you are working with, either catchstitch the unsewn seam allowance to the fabric or try the following method.

Whichever, thread a needle with matching thread  - it’s time to do some handstitching.

     MIDDLING: Buttonholes.

Turn the facing inside out and locate the two seams that match. This is difficult to explain, but if you have your garment in front of you it will be obvious. What we want to do is catch the two inside seams together, so that from the right side it looks like they have been sewn as normal. Right sides together, backstitch, or whatever takes your fancy, these two ‘loose seam allowances’ together. Muck about with the turning fabric as much as you need to get an even seam. Try to line up your hand stitching with the machine seam.         
Now sew around the neck edge of the facing to the dot as you did on the first side. Trim off excess.

Turn the front the right way out and press. Make sure it sort of lies flat and the buttonhole on the front lines up with buttonhole on the facing.
Put this aside – time to go back to the back.                                     

 EASY. Right sides together, sew the back facing to the neck edge of the back, stopping at the ‘dots’. Trim and press.

DIFFICULT moving to EASY. Joining the front and back at upper seam.

This is what you want to end up with, or something akin.

You are aiming to joining the facings (front and back) and upper sleeve seam in one go.
 Line up the upper front with the upper back, right sides together, along the top edge; the upper sleeve edge and facings edge. The aim is to sew in one continuous line from the tip of the neck facing to the sleeve hem.
Get ready.

If you cannot bring yourself to do this in one go, do the facing first, then do the sleeve edge. No big deal, just make sure you catch all the seams within the stitching line or you'll have a hole.
Do both sides.

Facings and lapels folded to the inside. Trim and press well. You might have to do a bit of hand manipulation at the join to flatten the fabric and carefully clip into the seam allowances but not through the stitching. Go ahead, work it.


      EASY, MIDDLING, DIFFICULT – all in that order. Joining the side seams, pockets and under sleeves.

Right sides together, match the raw edges of the front and back along lower sleeves, pockets and side seams. If you are brave or know what you are doing – sew in one continuous seam, from sleeve hem to jacket hem.
NB. Recommend second stitching line at underarm seam and a good bit of back stitching at pocket edges.

Otherwise, take your time.
·       sew from sleeve hem to underarm: breathe.
·       around the bottom arm scythe making sure to catch all previous seams here; breathe
·       down the side to the first  ‘dot’;
·       around the pocket; breathe
·       begin at second ‘dot’
·       finish the last few inches to the hem; gasp

Don’t worry if your pockets don’t line up – there’s physics and hard sums involved here – all about surface area multiplied by direction of the third dimension and calculus and algebra and stuff that really doesn’t matter. Just sew and trim it off.

 MIDDLING. Deciding on the inside finish treatment.

 OK, the jacket is now made and only requires the finishing touches – hemming on sleeves and bottom edge and tidying up the seams.

In this particular case I will have to cover the seams with a bias strip because the wadding is showing, including the front facings and all hems.

It really depends on what fabric you are using as to what finishing you want to use. With all the trimming done on the seam allowances so far I don’t think a Hong Kong finish or a traditional French seam will work here.

If, like me, there’s no fraying, then serger (overlocker) might be fine. A contrasting thread colour could work well with this method.

A double-faced wool would also look good with the contrasting colours pressed open on the inside, but you will have to take extra care with the trimming so that it’s neat.

If you are lucky enough to use sheepskin or some other natural skin, just leave the seams as they are – keep the integrity.

       MIDDLING. Mitering the front corners.
Turn the hem allowance 5cm (2”) to the outside and fold back the front facing along fold line as well. Pin in place and pin the diagonal join. Pinch the fabric tight to get a smooth mitre. Remove the hemming pins and turn to check that the mitre is lying flat in the inside. When happy, sew, trim and press and turn to the inside.

      MIDDLING. Finishing.
In this case I purchased some contrasting quilting cotton and made loads of bias strips. You’ll need about 270”. Measure around the sleeve hems; all the way round the hem, front facings and neck; all exposed seams on the inside – that’s how much bias you will need, and then make some more, just in case.

Alternatives to the bias could be a purchased bias binding or ribbon.

Here is the bias strip method.

The idea is to cover all exposed seams with the bias, creating an unusual and interesting pattern on the inside of the jacket. You could machine stitch this all if your jacket would suit topstitching on the outside. Mine wouldn’t, so this was hand stitched in place.

Hem, facings and neck will be done with one long strip.
Press along one edge of the bias and fold over the beginning of the strip. Right sides together and starting in an inconspicuous place like the back or side seam, pin the bias to the hem, working all the way around until you’re back where you started. Sew 6mm from the edge. When the bias is folded up, the raw edges are hidden.

Do the same on both sleeve edges.

Hem the jacket, 5cm (2”) and sleeves.

Detail of the sleeve, hemmed and seam covered, and a much truer colour impression.

     EASY. Sew on a beautiful button.


I hope that has been of some help to you. I have all of the above saved as a PDF try clicking on the link below.
Teenage son sorted this out. Many thanks go to him and his genius with computers.

Thanks for reading. Ruth

DOWNLOAD:PDF instructions

Paco Peralta - his design & pattern
Tany - in depth tutorial for lined jacket
Pink - for the quilter's cotton inspiration

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Drat That Nap!

Paco's Unique Jacket
Sewing with faux fur
Darwinian December (early)
Thinking that I know what I'm doing

It seems that Friday evening has become my night for cutting out and prepping the next sewing project. So in keeping with this new tradition I cut out and prepped Paco's Unique Jacket pattern and fabric on Friday.

I have a few thoughts running through my mind that must be exorcised before I can begin today's post:

1. When I sit down of(in) an evening and order vast amounts of fabric and stuff on the internet I must try to remember where I've ordered the stuff from. This is important for delivery purposes. If you have been reading, then you know I need organza as an underlining for the vintage tailored jacket - that was actually the real purpose of buying online on the night in question. But.... you know how it is.  While searching for organza I also happened to come across some faux fur that I couldn't resist, so that was ordered too (along with other stuff I won't mention yet). So, some stuff came from England (faux fur) - two day's delivery at most: the rest comes from Europe, five days average delivery time (organza & other stuff).

The organza has yet to arrive (Europe), so to keep myself out of trouble and arguing with the husband this weekend, I took the faux fur and Paco's pattern and made a start on the Unique jacket, instead of the vintage. See No 4 below.

2. As Paco's patterns don't come with instructions you either have to figure them out for yourself or find a blog tutorial on the same garment. Now, lucky for us mortals there is a goddess in Portugal whose job on this earth is to inform and instruct the earth bound beings on construction techniques - her name is Tany. I often wonder why she hasn't given up her day job - she is absolutely brilliant at sewing and I'm somewhat ashamed and abashed  as to try to make the same garments that she has already made.
3. If you have purchased Paco's Unique Jacket pattern and wish to make it like a goddess, then leave this site NOW. Go to Tany. So if you want a really professional garment then follow an excellent and detailed method to make Paco's jacket by stop reading this and go directly to Tany, she is so much better than me. She'll satisfy all your needs. If you are mortal - stay tuned. What follows is the common man's version.........unlined and relatively quick.

4. Finally, I am officially intimidated by Vogue's vintage jacket. See this and say no more. There is more than one goddess out there - beware! I am cognisant of copyrights and so forth so I credit 100% to Lauramae. I have nothing but admiration and awe (with a little bit of jealously) and praise for her work.

Right, now that I am cleansed - down to business. Here is the faux fur (ff) and it is a quite remarkable fabric. The dark brown ff is on one side, but it is lined with a peachskin which is embroidered and sequined. Sandwiched between these two layers is wadding for warmth and adds a luxury to the furry side. All the layers are quilted together with a fancy line of stitching. How could I cover up those sequins with lining? But the Unique jacket is a lined jacket - mmmmm.......

Paco's pattern - as usual, comes with a colour image of what the garment should look like, a Paco Peralta label and a line diagram, along with the hand drafted pattern pieces. This is the extent of the instructions - you're on your own from here on.

A small word about nap....

Some fabrics have "nap" - this is when the fibres on the surface of the fabric have a right way and a wrong way of lying. Velvet, fur, moleskin and some fleeces are the typical fabrics that when the fibres are brushed the wrong way change colour and the lie unevenly. When making clothes in these fabrics the nap must go in the same direction for all pattern pieces, otherwise you end up with a light and dark shaded garment and just doesn't feel right when you run you hand along.

Nap brushed the right direction

Nap brushed the wrong direction.
The problem comes when you fold the fabric to cut out the pieces - depending on how you fold it (selvedge to selvedge) the nap runs the right way on one side, but the wrong way on the other. To correct this, the fabric must be cut into two pieces and these then lain one on top of the other so that the nap runs the same direction on both bits. Take care - do not place fur side up on both pieces and cut or you'll end up with two right-hand sleeves! Either position the pieces right sides together or wrong sides together - or do it the long way and cut one pattern piece at a time for extra insurance.

My fabric was an odd width - neither 115cm(45'), or 150cm (60") but somewhere in between. Added to which there were a few faults at the edges so I had to avoid those when placing the pattern pieces.

The upper front pattern piece is too wide for this fabric when folded, so it had to cut one at a time.

This is the moment when I thought I knew what I was doing - oh a little confidence is a bad, bad thing. And you're reading this blog looking for advice?

I'd cut the fabric in two halves go get the nap thing sorted - fine. Merrily cut out all the pieces apart from the upper front which wouldn't fit and so was leaving this till last to cut twice. All the previous pieces were perfect - straight of grain, nap etc. Took the last piece of ff and placed the last pattern piece on it - NOT ENOUGH FABRIC. No matter which way I turned, flipped, folded or otherwise manipulated the pattern I could not get two fronts with the nap running the same way on both.

Pondering the folly of my ways and how to get two sleeves from one too small piece of fur.

Here is the problem - as the sleeve lies at an angle, half of it is hanging off the fabric: if I angled the pattern then the grain and the nap would be off. I wasn't going to stop now and if I ordered more fabric it would arrive after the organza and everything in the sewing room would be chaos. So, I patched the sleeve with an extra bit left over from the previous cuttings making sure to match the nap and those quilting lines.

 View from the right side.

At least the patch falls to the inside of the sleeve so may not be too noticeable to the unobservant passer-by. If you meet me wearing this jacket please do not point this out.

Dear readers, learn from my mistakes, do not make them yourselves.

Lessons learned.....

1. Order enough fabric in the first place - you need more that the pattern states when working with nap.
2. Lay ALL pattern pieces out BEFORE taking scissors to the fabric.
3. Accept the fact with grace and decorum that you are human - not Tany!

Jacket is progressing otherwise unscathed. I am making a tutorial, hopefully in PDF, for the construction order and things to take care over for this unlined version of the jacket. that's if you trust me after this. Update pictures available soon.

Thanks for reading. Ruth