Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Silks and Sheers Class at Centre Front Studio

I attended two 3 hour classes with Rory at Centre Front Studio, looking at choosing, cutting  and sewing silks and sheers.

First Session

In the first class, we got a number of samples and learned about fabric types. I have a useful set of notes and samples for the future. It's nice to feel and discuss samples. I have the Fabric for Fashion Swatch book which has that advantage too.

Then we cut out the pieces for French knickers. We used the technique of having the fabric sandwiched between two layers of paper and the pattern on top. I had read about it but realised that I hadn’t fully understood. I now understand that I am someone who learns best after seeing something demonstrated - then I like to read about it. We had to cut out singly, of course, so I ended up with a lot of ‘ghost’ paper patterns!
Patterns and Ghost Patterns

I was using floral vintage silk. I had to cut on the straight of grain as there was insufficient fabric to allow a bias cut. I didn’t have too much trouble cutting though would have preferred to use my rotary cutter. That wasn’t possible as there were six of us so space was limited.

After that, we sewed French seams. I had never actually done this other than for a sample in class. I can certainly see them being useful in the future. We used a microtex needle. I was able to get my knickers sewn together but I didn’t have time in class to sew the hems or create the waist treatment. I started doing a baby hem on the legs but really I didn't like that as my stitching was a bit wavy - I realise I rely a lot on guides to keep my stitching straight. My hem isn’t great and too chunky - not a baby hem at all! I didn’t get a chance to do any homework, to finish the knickers, which remain unfinished as I write. I don’t have much intention to finish tbh as they are not my size or that of any of my girls. Too small for me and too big for them and I don't wear them anyway. I will use as a practice piece for hems.
Wavy turned and trimmed hem on left but no final row of stitching; right hasn't been turned stitched or trimmed as yet.
Second session. More samples of silk and sheer fabrics.

This time, Rory had cut out the pieces for a camisole. We were using polyester georgette - as I will be doing for Joanne’s shorts as soon as I get back to garment sewing.

The first step was to sew and turn the rouleau straps for the camisole. I found keeping the same width, and avoiding stretching the bias strips, rather tricky but did manage to produce acceptable and matching straps in the end. We used a kirby grip to turn the loops as Rory finds them much better than proper loop turners. I think I agree! I do have a loop turner but haven’t found it useful.
The straps look better in real life!
Then we sewed ‘couture darts’ on the front of the camisole - that is, darts using the bobbin thread. I had read about this but quite simply didn’t understand the explanation. Now, having had it demonstrated and having sewn two myself I am fine with them. If you only have two darts to sew and the fabric is fine, I think I’d use these darts. However, if there were multiple darts, probably not as you have to rethread the machine for each dart. Importantly, you start sewing the dart at the tip - there are no ends. Rory detests darts with knotted tips! You can back stitch to properly secure at the wide part of the dart which will be in the seam allowance.
Tip of the dart is smooth with no ends or finishing
I quote from ‘The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture sewing Techniques’ by Lynda Maynard - a great book. She says that this is a wonderful method for sewing a dart which works well on all fabrics and is essential when working with sheers. ‘There are no unsightly thread ends at the tip of the dart… just a clean , graceful finish.’

Then we French seamed back to front. This time, I used my rotary cutter to cut off the frayed threads at the edges after I sewed the first seam. That made it much easier and I didn’t get bits of thread sticking out.

Okay - it couldn’t last. I tried and tried to get an acceptable rolled picot hem but failed. I had it demonstrated. I was using the rolled hem foot and a suitable stitch for the picot edge. Considering I haven't got to grips with using this foot with a straight stitch, on a straight piece of easy fabric, it was no wonder I struggled!! I also tried a rolled hem on the overlocker but wasn’t happy with the results. I should say, these were all sample pieces - I haven’t yet tackled the actual hem and neckline treatment on the camisole. One of the other ladies finished her camisole - she used a pin hem, bias binding on the side and back necks and lace on the front and I think I’ll do the same.

I can finish the camisole in sewing bee but again, it won’t fit me or the girls, so I think I’d prefer to get on with some other sewing. However, I will practice these techniques occasionally! One day, I might manage. As I don’t have another project that I can just pick up and take to sewing bee tomorrow, I might possibly take this.

I am using difficult fabrics in the near future

I have already cut out the two layers of georgette for Joanne’s lace edged shorts - the shorts are self lined and bagged and lace inserted in the hem. I’ve made these before but not I realise for 2 years so I will have to remind myself of the steps and take it slowly. As the shorts are double layered, I didn’t worry too much about finishing the seam edges last time but will have to think about that. I’d like to finish for her birthday in one month's time
I have more sandwashed silk to make Helen another dress like her red one, in green this time. Some of the techniques are tricky, and again I’ll need to take it slowly. I haven’t started that yet. That’s for her birthday in November.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Is this still sewing?

I've had to reformat this post as the lines weren't wrapping,a although they seemed to be when I posted it. Well, I've tried again! Please let me know if you read this and the lines are wonky again, thank you.

Gosh where has June - and now nearly July - gone? I haven't done much in the way of sewing as I've spent a while helping my mother move. She has moved into very sheltered accommodation where she will get her meals made for her and most importantly, there are no stairs. I say June but we’re nearly at the end of July as I add to this post. I will be visiting mum this coming week and hope that will be the last of these ‘crisis’ visits - just back to normal visiting. Fingers crossed!

I haven’t been sewing, though I did do a class on silks and sheers which I will post about separately. I've already started the post just need to take some photos maybe.

I did a little machine embroidery earlier in July. I made some pin cushions. A few in one design, which I loved , ‘the sweetest pincushion’, a free design from @sewcanshe via Craftsy and one in another, which I paid for but didn’t like nearly as much (I don't have a photo of that one either). I have given them all away apart from this one which I have earmarked for someone. This could be practice for a Frida Kahlo embroidered huipil! Kate@fabrickated is running a #dresslikefridakahlosal challenge but I won’t be joining in though I would quite like to make the top.

Because I’ve put on weight, I have very few clothes that work for me in this hot, for us, summer. I’ve never really felt the need to have a separate summer wardrobe as many items are all season with the addition of layers. Depends on your lifestyle of course! I don’t go on summer holidays abroad as I really don’t like heat. I would’ve liked to make some things but it wasn’t to be. I have plenty of tee shirts, it’s bottoms that are eluding me.

I had a number of garments waiting for alterations and repairs and concentrated on them rather than on sewing from scratch as I found I didn’t have the concentration and focus required for that.

I had a pair of blue linen trousers - casual, with gathered tie at waistband, that were comfy if not over smart but they developed a linear stress hole in the inside front leg. I was shocked but apparently linen doesn’t wear well. I didn’t know that. I had read it might not be a good idea to tumble dry (though the label on these said it was okay to do so) and I don’t. But a longitudinal hole appeared nevertheless. I put some fusible interfacing behind the rip and sewed over at the front. I should have used a blue and a white thread in the stitching but didn’t even have the right blue. They’ll do a turn. No photo

Next up was a sleeveless top with a peplum. I don't usually wear items with peplums but never say never! The underarm area stuck out in a most unattractive way and last term I took that area in. However, the right underarm was still loose and baggy and had to be taken in more. One tip by sewing tutor was to cut away the excess seam allowance before overlocking the seam allowances. That worked well and I then stitched the top of the seam allowance to the seam at the back. I had hoped to finish for my twp trips to London but it wasn’t to be - I finished it yesterday. I don’t actually like this top - I actually think it’s too big and could do with a reduction at the sides. I wore it today and it’s comfortable. I asked david to take a photo of me wearing it - his response was ‘Are you sure?’ Maybe you can see why!

Where I'm holding my hands on my hips is exactly where this top is too loose - I suppose that makes it cooler though!

Last term I started to alter a plain/striped top in grey and black. I liked the top but there were two issues. The first that the top was the wrong length for me - it is supposed to be a tunic but for me needs to be either longer or shorter. Secondly, the sleeves were too short. Solution - I cut a piece off the bottom and used this as a cuff on the sleeves. I used both straight stitching on my sewing machine for placement and the overlocker to finish. This meant I could use the finished edge of the bottom hem on the cuff bottoms. I don't have a coverstitch machine so used a pin hem and twin needle on the bottom. It looks fine and I’ll get a lot of wear out of it.

I can’t show you any of the steps - though they were so simple they weren’t worth photographing. I tried it on to get a photo and find that the cuffs are a little loose so I may have to take in further - I’ll see. The sleeves are lengthened by a lot and I guess I should have tapered as I went down rather than keeping the whole thing straight.

There is a lot of decorative stitching on the top - I couldn't recreate this

My twin needle hem on the bodice

Overall view. No longer an inbetween length tunic but a top. Sleeves have been lengthened by 2.5"

I have a tunic that had lost two of its buttons. One was lost completely. One was broken but I still had the front. A third button had losts its crystal.  I looked through my stock of buttons (as an aside I remember loving playing with my grandma’s button jar) and to my astonishment, found two identical buttons in a little bag. I hadn’t remembered about them. The loops around the buttons are not big enough to allow the buttons to be fastened so I had to sew these new ones in the same way. David kindly prized out the crystal from the broken button and replaced it (glued it in) in the crystal-less but otherwise intact button. Voila! A wearable tunic!

Next was a pair of golf shorts where the zip stitching had come loose. This is a fly zipper and I didn’t want to remove and replace completely especially since they don’t actually fit me at the moment! I pinned the loose part closed and stitched an extra line of stitching through all layers. Perhaps not the most authentic of solutions but it’s work for me, if they ever fit me gain, that is.

The second line of stitching isn't that obvious!
David mended my box that holds my Bernina feet and some spools. Again. He had mended it once before and I broke it again. I think it’s pretty  fragile and a poor design. I haven’t found anything better to hold my feet (these are on a shelf, hanging down, I had hoped for soft plastic holes/nests) so again, this will last for a while at least. I could buy a new one from Bernina but they are expensive and I don’t think very good.

I have a few other half-written posts from various times that I’ve started or written while  waiting to do other things and will gradually post them over the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Meeting up in London with some fellow 7 Steppers

Sunday 1st July

I'm on the train on the way to London to meet up with some of the 7 steppers (7 Steps to Style) I have got to know online - and Imogen Lamport, the founder, who is here from Australia. Her blog is Inside Out Style. https://insideoutstyleblog.com
where you can get all the details of the different programs.

Last week, LNER took over the running of the trains on the previous Virgin East Coast line. I was a bit concerned that my booking made with Virgin might have gone wrong but I needn't have feared. I always do fear though! I booked first class advance for a bit of extra luxury - the only downside being that my train time is set rather than having an open ticket. That of course gave me another concern - getting to the train on time as David can't drive me. Again I needn't have worried - the taxi arrived in plenty of time and I was able to relax on the train for 20 minutes before it left. At weekends first class doesn't do the excellent weekday menu, sadly, but I am going for lunch so that's not an issue. Plenty of drinks available (no, I'm not referring to alcohol!). The train livery is still Virgin. Outside too though I think some have changed

I've been catching up on some posts and blogs as I haven't had time recently. That's calming my nerves. I'm both excited and nervous about the meetup! I'm looking forward to it. I think.

It's interesting that you can almost immediately tell who wants to talk and who doesn't. My first seat companions did but they got off at York - my new fellow traveller doesn't. I realise I'm glad about that. Generally, I like to find out about other people and am happy to talk - or to sit and write blog posts!

Down the carriage, I can hear some people playing bridge; I don't know how many of them there are. I’d like to join in. I won't of course.

I still haven't completed the personality style analysis as I'm humming and hawing over some of the questions. That and the fact that I have difficulty choosing from a menu (often regretting what I chose) and like to keep options open might suggest one direction but other aspects are firmly in a different direction. Now, however, I'm not sure how much of my need for decision making (yes!!) was to do with business need rather than my personal style. I find it fairly easy to be adaptable and have learned lots of ways of functioning over the years. Be interviewed on national radio? Sure! (Terrified inside and regretting acceptance). Give a talk? A lecture? Okay! (Help!!) Meet a group of people I've never met irl? No problem (only minor anxiety). Last year I accepted an invitation to a weekend sewing session in a small group and to stay overnight with the organiser - I didn't know any of them and only the organiser briefly online. That was fine, I enjoyed it and have made friends. My motto is ‘have car, will travel’ . Having said that I'm a ♋ cancerian (do any of you believe in that?) and a home lover (I'm always desperate to get home) and very soft centred, easily hurt but with a harder outer shell.

Our train is delayed as there is a broken down train ahead so that has caused delay. Fortunately I got an earlier train than necessary so this might work out well. We're near Newark.

We might be stopped for a while - they can't tell us yet how long. But I'll wait a while before putting on my makeup. Oh, we're moving!

What else will I say at the moment? I feel unprepared clothes-wise and style-wise for today's meetup. I've put on weight and have nothing that fits well. It's hot in London so I'm wearing a blue patterned summer dress. It's lined and a little less loose than I'd like! With being up at my mother's helping her move, I haven't had time to get my hair trimmed. Oh well! This is more the real me! Make up will help.

I've remembered to bring my colour swatches. We're shopping after lunch. I'm a RTW Faster so am not intending to buy anything but I would if I saw the ideal item! It would need to be at least a 9 out of 10. I'm sooo short of clothes and just haven't had time to make. I have fit issues and there is still no TNT on the horizon. Losing this extra weight is going to take a while - easy on, difficult to get off. I neeeed clothes!

We've just been told the delay cost us 30 minutes so that is pretty good timing to meet some of the others. There are still some FB messages going back and forth so I have been able to say that I will be at the meet point.

Last night we heard that one stepper coming from Austria had a problem due to her flight being cancelled. I hope she makes itIf everyone makes it, we will be 13 in number. Are you superstitious? I'm not, really.

I'll carry on with this post on the way home.

I'm on the train. On my way back home. I'm glad as I feel quite tired. I have a lovely seat. Just the right temperature and wi-fi.

There were 13 of us. Daniella made it from Austria. I met up with 4 others in King's Cross and we walked to the Granary Square Brasserie and bumped into Daniela on the way. Because it was such a hot and sunny day, they were going to seat us outside. However, we were in favour of sitting indoors with the air conditioning and plenty of cold drinks. One of our party, Alison, is in a wheelchair and needed suitable facilities

It was lovely to chat to people I ‘knew’ but had never met. I had never had my signature colours done because I felt my photos were of such poor quality. I took advantage of Imogen and had them done live; she also confirmed my colour and value contrast and body shape. I have quite a few signature colours - I'm very lucky. Not everyone has so many.

This is my swatch. They're not ask signature colours but there are quite a few!

A signature colour is one that enhances eyes, lips or skin. One of the pinks tones in with the lip gloss I wore today.

Because I have colour in my eyes and skin, I can wear two colours rather than the neutrals plus one colour I previously thought.

It was very interesting seeing the colour swatches of the others there and comparing and contrasting. Some shades overlap, of course.

There was a lot of talk of personality types. I'll work on mine next week. I have a better idea now. Imogen had previously said to contact her but I didn't have time and didn't want to take up more of her time today.

You won't be surprised to learn that by the time we had eaten and chatted and got the bill sorted (thanks Tracey) people were getting ready to return home or to their hotels. No shopping. Well it means I haven't broken my fast!!

Ruth and I had a bit of time to kill before our trains so we sat with a cold drink and poured over the latest issue of Burda and discussed sewing until it was time to leave for our trains.

It was a long and expensive day but worth it! I'm playing in a golf league match tomorrow (the last of the season) but I have time to settle, get to bed at a reasonable time and even have a long lie if the birds and sunshine allow! I will have to wear the golf trousers I showed on my last blog post but hopefully I'll manage to make a nice pair of trousers - I've set September as a target.

I've just moved coach as our air conditioning broke down. This coach is much cooler. I've decided to post this blog if I can - I've never done it entirely on my phone! I didn't ask permission of the others to post their photos.

Update and Continuing with Machine Embroidery Course

I haven’t been sewing anything recently. I’ve managed a few alterations and repairs and a little bit of machine embroidery - though I’ve f...