Saturday, 11 April 2015

Invisible zip in right hand side seam with inseam pocket

As mentioned in my last post, I couldn't get the idea of a pocket in a side seam with an invisible zip out of my head.   Naturally I googled it, but didn't come up with anything - maybe I couldn't think of the right words to search for!  So after some experimenting with scraps, I think I've worked out how to do it.  

I will include my usual disclaimer that I am not an expert, and my how-to's are mainly to remind me of how I ever did something.  If they are helpful to someone else, that's great!  I'm not going to re-invent the wheel by explaining how to sew an invisible zip; instead here is a link to my favourite way to do it.   Here we go... 


-      Invisible/concealed zip –  The bottom of the zip needs to finish below where the lower edge of the pocket will attach to the skirt.

Have a look at the photo in Point 5, and you will see that the end of my zip is about 2" below the bottom of the lower edge of the pocket. 

-          Two pocket pieces

-          Dress to sew them into!


Attach the skirt to the bodice, and finish the edges of the sides.  Also finish the edges of the pocket pieces.  Press the zip teeth with a cool iron.

I appreciate it doesn't help that I used a fabric that doesn't have an obvious right side, so here’s how I have labelled the pieces in the photo below:



The right sides are the sides that your hand will touch when you put your hand in your pocket.  If you have a fabric with an obvious right side, then this side faces up as in the photo above.



The zip is right side up (the side that has the zip pull attached), the FRONT RIGHT HALF will attach to the front of the dress, the BACK LEFT HALF will attach to the back.


One of the pocket pieces needs to be attached to the zip, so that when the zip is undone; both pocket pieces will be at the front of the dress. 

  1. Lay the zip down on top of the side seam of the dress, matching up where the top of the zip will attach to the top of the side seam (blue pin on the left in the photo below).  There is normally a notch on the pattern to mark this. 
On the wrong side of the zip, mark where the zip meets the waist seam.  I have marked the back of my zip with white chalk.  The waist seam is marked  with the red pin on the right in the photo below.  

  1. I like the top of my pockets to be 6cm below the waist seam.  I imagine most people will like a longer length, but I'm quite small.  We now need to mark this length on the zip.
            On the front of the FRONT RIGHT HALF of the zip, measure your preferred length
            down from the chalk waist seam mark.   In the photo below I have marked this with
            the orange pin which is at a right angle to the zip. 

Take pocket piece A, and lay it right side up.  Take the FRONT RIGHT HALF of the zip and lay it right side down on the pocket piece – right side of the zip and right side of the pocket are touching each other.

Line up the pin marking the position of the top of the pocket with the top of the pocket piece.  Pin the zip to the pocket using your seam allowance.

You can see in the photo where the white chalk mark on the zip lines up with the red pin marking the waist seam.

Sew the zip onto the pocket piece using an invisible zip foot.


I like to understitch the edges of my pockets to the side seams as I think it makes the seam sit more neatly.  Feel free to skip this bit if you don’t do that.

Fold the right side of pocket piece A back on itself, so it and FRONT RIGHT HALF of the zip are both right sides up.  Press, using a cool iron so the zip teeth don’t melt, and understitch about ¼” from the edge of the teeth.  I used my wide zip foot for this, and sewed through the pocket, the pocket seam allowance and the zip tape.  In this photo, the pins are roughly where I will stitch.

  1. Take pocket piece B and attach it to the FRONT of the dress as normal.  If the fabric has an obvious right side, then both right sides will be facing up as in the photo below.

  1. Now we will attach the zip and pocket piece A to the front of the dress and pocket piece B in one step.
Pin the FRONT RIGHT HALF of the zip to the front of the dress, lining the two pocket pieces up, one on top of the other.  Mark the seam allowance at the top and bottom of the pockets (I've done this with white chalk).  Pin the two pocket pieces together as in the photo.  Sew, pivoting at the seam allowance at the pocket top and bottom.  I used my invisible zip foot for all of this, including sewing around the pocket, and it worked perfectly.

Here's what it looks like with the zip pulled closed.  You can see the LEFT BACK HALF of the zip on the left.

6. Sew the BACK LEFT HALF of the zip to the back of the dress.  Sew up the seam above and below the zip,and there you have it!

I hope it makes sense, the bit about the distance between the waist seam and the top of the pocket got typed about 15 times!  If anybody has a question, please leave it in the comments and I'll get back to you.


Sunday, 5 April 2015

Hawthorn Lou Dress

This seems to be the year of the pattern mash-up for me, as I have made a few and have some more planned.  As the title suggests, this is a combination of Colette Patterns Hawthorn dress bodice, and Tilly And The Buttons Lilou dress skirt.


The idea of a purple shirt dress has been lurking in the back of my mind for a very long time, and this fabric has been in my stash since last summer when I bought it from Dragonfly Fabrics.  It's Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer, and the colour is just called Purple.  It's a linen/rayon mix, and is lovely and light and drapey.

After the success of my last Hawthorn, I immediately cut this one out.  I used my sleeve block to draft the sleeves, and am pleased with the fit on them.  I have a slight issue with the armscye though.  On the front, there is a small pool of fabric about half way down.  I was wondering if I need to remove a little bit from the cross front of the bodice, or am I straying into the dark and dangerous realms of over-fitting?! 


Also on the back there is a little bit too much fabric at the bottom of the armscye.  I can fix this by taking a bit out of the side seam on the bodice back.  I can live with these on this dress though. 


One thing that I am disappointed with is the collar.  It looks ok from the front, but it's a bit of a dog's dinner at the back.  When I attached the collar, it absolutely refused to sit flat - even after I pressed the bejimminies out of it.  I ended up having to hand-stitch it down, and it's not a pretty sight.  Luckily my cardigan and/or hair will hide it!

Good grief!!  Just, good grief!
I had the same problem with the collar on my Megan dress, and put it down to the unruly fabric.  At first I thought that I should have used a heavier interfacing on the purple collar, but now I'm wondering if it was all in how I drafted it.  I drafted it using the method in Gertie's Book For Better Sewing.  This involves slightly overlapping the shoulder ends of the front and back bodice pieces before tracing the neckline.  From my Craftsy pattern drafting classes, I have learnt that my shoulders are shorter than average pattern drafting standards, and now I'm wondering if the overlap on the bodice shoulders was just too long for my short little shoulders.  This is a pretty convoluted and specific issue!  I did make a toile (and why don't they show up every issue?!), so I'm going to try out the armcye fixes on it, and also make a collar without the shoulder overlap to see how it looks.

But before anybody thinks that I hate this dress, I absolutely don't!  I love the swishy skirt, and am delighted with how the button placket, neckline, sleeves and bodice fit turned out.  The very best thing though is the zip.

There really is a zip in that seam!
Remember how I said that I got a bee in my bonnet about an invisible zip in a side seam with a pocket?  Well, I worked out how to do it.  I will do a separate post about it, because there is a lot to explain, but it totally works!  And also bonus sewing points to me for taking the trouble to make a proper unbuttoning placket and not a faux placket, because I discovered that I wouldn't be able to get the dress over my head with undoing the buttons!


So in celebration, here's a photo of Luke Spookling.  He has recently been convalescing on The Blanket after spending five nights in the vets because he had an infection.  He's normally not allowed to even look at The Blanket, but if I happen to dose off under it on the sofa, I can guarantee that when I wake up, he'll be lying on it.  So he got special permission to use it when he came home, because then I knew he would stay inside for longer.  But he's back to normal now and eating everything in sight.

Happy Easter!


Thursday, 26 March 2015

Hawthorn Dress

This was supposed to be posted about a week and a half ago.  I even had most of this post already written, and then I ran out of thread when I was topstitching!  But I'm getting ahead of myself; let's start at the start.

This dress is the Colette Patterns Hawthorn dress, I've loved this pattern since it was released, but what I don't love is the fit on the first one I made.  That busy fabric print hides a multitude of sins!  I'd been planning to make another one for ages, and when I dug out my pattern I nearly passed out when I saw all the alternations that Past Me had noted to make on the next one.  So I drafted my own version from my block.

I re-drafted the bodice and used the skirt pieces from the pattern.  The only changes that I made were to make a separate placket for the skirt, and to draft a 5/8" seam allowance on the bodice neckline and front.  The original pattern has 1/4" seam allowance there, and I remember having a bit of trouble with it on the first one.

As you can see, this one doesn't have the Peter Pan collar.  I spotted this lovely version by Marie, and that's what inspired me.  Marie is the queen of Hawthorns by the way, she's made so many lovely versions.
My fabric is some cotton sateen from ebay, and was only £3.99 per metre and 145cm wide.  I bought two metres, then kicked myself for not buying three so I could have made sleeves.  I didn't think that the print would need to be matched, but it turned out that it did.  Two and a half hours later, and with sore knees, I finally finished cutting it out.  Oh, and everything had to be cut on a single layer...


I used some cotton lawn for the facings as I thought the sateen would be too thick on the buttonholes, and the buttons are from The Spinning Wheel in Belfast.  I also used bias tape to face the armholes.  After a bit of practising on a fabric scrap, I used the triple stitch for the top stitching, and am pleased with how it turned out.


It went together without a hitch, until the aforementioned running out of thread on the top stitching.  That was two Saturday evenings ago.  I made an Emergency Thread Dash (because that's a bona fide thing in my house) to Dunelm Mill on the Sunday afternoon, but they didn't have the colour I wanted, so I had to order it on ebay.  I didn't get the thread until Thursday because we had no post on Tuesday as it was St Patrick's Day, and then I went to visit Friend in England on Friday where I had a brilliant time.  Fabric purchases were made, but I'll share them another time.  


I have to thank everybody who suggested recycling the skirt on my Sureau of doom.  I think I'm going to make Tilly's Delphine skirt with it, and maybe put a trim beneath the waistband to brighten it up a bit.  I'm so glad I'd just chucked the dress in the corner of the sewing room, and not in the bin!


Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Sureau of doom

My sister bought me this pattern for Christmas (the pattern being Deer and Doe Sureau), and the fabric is some suiting that came from the sale table in The Spinning Wheel in Belfast.  I think I paid about £12 for it.

I'm going to start off by saying that this is an epic fail (hence no modelled photos) - except for two things (I am nothing, if not contrary!).  Let's start with the bad...

1.  The front shoulders.  I made a toile and the shoulders were too high, so I took a bit out at the neck edge of the shoulder seam on the front and back.  On my toile I got some drag lines going from the neck seam to the front underarm.  I hadn't set the sleeves in very well, and though that was the problem.  Turns out I was wrong.  I should have only taken a bit out of the shoulder seam on the bodice back.  Of course I realised this one the dress was finished!

2.  The next problem is that the bodice is too wide between the underarms and waist.  I could take it in, but it has a side zip, and as I'm not going to wear it, there is no point.

3.  The gathers skirt. From past experience I know that the only gathered skirts that suit me are ones' that are made from the width of the fabric, and the fabric is cotton.  Frumpsville anybody?!  What was I thinking?

4.  The colour of the fabric.  A valuable lesson was learnt here.  Up close, ie when I was holding the fabric in the shop and sewing it, this fabric is lovely.  It has little stripes of red, green and purple/blue.  I loved it. 

See what I mean?
But from a distance - blurg!!  It looks like something straight out of a Victorian melodrama!  In future I shall be taking a few steps back from the fabric to see what it looks like from a distance.

The good bits:

1.  The sleeves are great because they fit.  I've working on my Craftsy pattern drafting classes, and had been having trouble trying to get my sleeves to fit.  I have finally (hopefully!) cracked it with these.  After a lot of toiles, these sleeves are a Sureau/self-drafted hybrid; but, crucially they fit.  I can actually reach forward without fear of the back giving way - always a bonus!

2.  I mentioned in this post about trying to come up with a way of attaching an invisible zip into a side seam with a pocket.  I really got a bee in my bonnet about this, and was determined to find a solution - and I think I have!

I've made lots of notes, but want to try it again before I blog about it.  It seems to have worked quite well though.

I did take a bit of a gamble with this dress.  I couldn't decide whether or not to try and draft it myself from my block, but I've found the Deer and Doe patterns fit me pretty well, so I went with the pattern instead.  It also turned out to have a lot of fitting issues with the back which I won't bore you with.  I will try it again at some stage, because it's a lovely pattern, but I will draft the bodice and do something different with the skirt.  Ah well, it's not the end of the world and I don't have many epic fails, so all in all, I can live with this failure.  

I did learn from it though, and drafted my next make from my block.  It's the Colette Patterns Hawthorn dress, but the details are for another post.  It's nearly finished, I did the buttonholes and buttons after lunchtime today, and now I'm waiting for some bias tape that I ordered on ebay so I can do the hem and armholes.  

Have a great week,


Saturday, 28 February 2015

Cameo Shawl

Nearly a year ago I started my Whippoorwill shawl, then you may remember that disaster struck with it!  Well, it lay in the knitting bag until just before christmas, when I decided to have a look at it again.  I really wasn't feeling the love for it because I wanted to make the largest size, but didn't have enough yarn.  So I frogged the lot, and washed the yarn that I had used to get the crinkles out.  Then I hit Ravelry; specifically the snazzy pattern search feature where you can specify the weight and amount of yarn and type of item you want, and came up with the Cameo Shawl (Ravelry link).

This was just what I was looking for; a triangle shawl using two colours, and a bit of lace work and picot edging for added interest.  The thing I really liked about it was that it is knit differently to most triangle shawls.  Most start at the centre of the top edge, and are increased in each row, ending at the bottom point.  This one is started at one end of the long edge, it is then increased on each row, ending on the bottom edge of the lace pattern.  It can then be knit to a longer width, without making it too long in depth.


I made two mods: I didn't do all the stripey repeats in the middle because I ran out of purple yarn (this seemed to be quite a common thing on Ravelry), and I did an extra repeat of the lace pattern because I had enough of the yellow yarn, and also I liked it.

I really enjoyed knitting this; it's all garter stitch, which I appreciate not everybody loves, but I liked it and found it was easy TV knitting.  The big challenge was blocking it.  In fact, I finished it at the end of January, and only blocked it last week!  My fear was that the colours would run, and I didn't want the lovely golden yellow turning into a muddy brown.  When I had washed the frogged yarn from the Whippoorwill shawl, loads of dye came out from both colours.

I started knitting with the purple yarn that hadn't been washed, then joined the washed purple about half way through the purple section.  In the above photo of the unblocked shawl it is obvious to me where the colours change, but I can live with this.  What  I can't live with is the purple dye coming off on other clothes if the shawl gets wet in the rain.

Somewhere at the back of my head I remembered something about setting colours using vinegar.  So I googled it, and came up with a lot of vague-ness which isn't worth linking to.  I couldn't resist the urge to wash it though (I know!), and ended up sort of washing it in sections by trying to only get bits of it into a basin - and unbelievably it worked!  I did the yellow lace pattern bit first. This was yarn that hadn't been washed before, and loads of yellow dye came out of it.  The stripey bit was all pre-washed yarn (I knit it that way on purpose), and it was fine.  Then finally I washed the purple bit, and loads of dye came out of it too.

I left it to dry, and then cracked out the vinegar.  What little I could find about this process involved cold water and vinegar, so I filled a basin with cold water and poured in some white vinegar.  I didn't measure out the vinegar, just poured away in a renegade style!  I used about a quarter of a bottle.  And it wasn't any fancy kind of vinegar, just Tescos own brand white vinegar at 40 something pence a bottle.  I left it to soak for 20 minutes, and not a drop of dye came out.  Now, this could mean one two things: either the vinegar worked like a charm, or the dye doesn't run in cold water - only time will tell...

I rinsed it out in cold water until the vinegar smell was gone - at this point my hands were absolutely freezing and all I could smell was vinegar, so I shoved the shawl in Andrew's direction and bleated, "does this smell of vinegar?".  He said no, so I decided my work was done. I ended up not using my blocking wires, as it looked ok, and just left it to dry on a flat clothes horse.

The yarn that I used is Malabrigo Sock Yarn, the yellow is called Orche and the purple is called Africana Violetta, I had one skein of each.  I think I am a bit over these hand dyed yarns now because I am currently on the first sleeve of my Chuck jumper; I'm using Cascade 220 yarn which is dark red, and the colour is coming off on my hands.  Sigh.

The finished measurements are 24 1/2" deep, and 94" long.  This is indeed pretty long, but it was kind of what I was going for and I love how it turned out, and have been wearing it already.

If anybody has some top tips on fixing colours, please let me know!


Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Thurlows of meh

I had been wanting to make a pair of denim Thurlows for a while after seeing some lovely versions on the blogs, but I'm not in love with mine.  It turned out that I wanted denim jeans, not denim Thurlows - but you win some, you lose some.


Let's talk about the good bits first.  I love the fly zip.  I got the metal zip on ebay, and am delighted with how well it turned out.

I also love the welt pockets, and lengthened the insides of the pockets as I did on my first pair.

I am much happier with the belt loops, as I shortened them a bit;

and the fit at the waist is perfect.

The fabric was easy to work with, it's the denim from Craftswoman Fabrics in Carrickfergus that I mentioned a few weeks' ago.  The facing and pockets are leftovers from this Anna dress.  Sewing them was easy too, again I followed the sewalong by Lauren at Lladybird

Now for the bad bits.  As mentioned above - they aren't jeans.  I love my jeans, I have two pairs that fit beautifully.  They are from New Look (the shop - nothing to do with the patterns), but they have seen better days.  Naturally, when I looked on the New Look website, they don't have them anymore; so I have done the sensible thing and bought Kenneth D King's Craftsy class called Jean-ius which teaches you how to reverse engineer a pair of well fitting jeans.  So far I have only watched it, but it's great (and Kenneth is a hoot!).  What I need to do is source some denim fabric that is suitable for jeans, and available in the UK.  If anybody knows where I can get some, please let me know, as the denim I used for these trousers is a bit lighter weight than jeans denim. 

I started these during the Christmas holidays, then fell out of love with them, and finished them in the middle of January.  The problem with them is that there is too much fabric around the top of the legs.  I had to take them in at the hips twice, and they are baggy under the bum - although, when I looked at these photos, it's not as bad as I thought it was.


In fairness, I had to take in my first pair at the hips too, and I even remembered to make the changes on the pattern.  But the first pair are a lot lighter weight fabric, so they seem like wide leg trousers and the bagginess doesn't show; also this denim has a little bit of stretch to it.  Anyway, they aren't a complete disaster, and are comfy, so I will wear them.  It just goes to show how the same pattern can be so different with different fabrics!

Have a great week,


Monday, 9 February 2015

Baby Star Quilt

As I mentioned in my last post, I did what I said I wouldn't do again and made another quilt.  As with my last quilt, this one was made for Friend's Baby. 

This quilt was actually Plan B.  Plan A was a knitted blanket using the double knitting technique, whereby the blanket would have a front and a back which are knitted together at the same time.  It was going to have the Hogwarts crest on it (I mentioned it in this post), but it turned out my tension was all over the place and I was also the world's slowest double knitter - Baby would have been about nine by the time I'd finished it!  So I went with a quilt instead, because I'd been feeling the urge to quilt again.

And there's nothing quite like a deadline to add to the mix - my deadline being last Thursday afternoon when my sister and I were getting on a plane from Belfast to London to go and visit Friend and Baby.  So, no pressure... 

I didn't use a pattern for this quilt, which makes it sound a lot more impressive than it was - that's not actually true.  I used the instructions from the first quilt, and cut the same width of border and binding.  The idea came from this quilt on Megan Nielsen's blog.  I loved the triangles, they looked easy to put together and are a lovely design; I knew I wanted stars on it, and thought they'd look good together.

I struggled a bit with deciding on the colours.  I had initially wanted dark blues for the background, but then thought it would be too dark, so went with sea green and blue.  I also struggled with picking the fabric, but stumbled upon a flash sale at The Village Haberdashery in the middle of January.  I was very taken with this quilt in the photo below on the website.  I liked that the fabric pattern is the same, but the fabric colours are different - also the circular quilting is amazing.  I had a look at the fabric used in it; but the yellow was too bright for what I wanted, so I ended up with a fabric called  Pearl Bracelets, and the colours I used are Juniper, Basil and Citron.
Source - The Village Haberdashery

Cutting was a breeze, I used my rotary cutter (which now really needs a new blade!), and it was cut out in no time.  Sewing the triangles was also a breeze, after I had the sense to google it.  I found this great tutorial on sewing triangles which basically tells you to put two squares right sides together, draw a diagonal line down the middle, and sew 1/4 inch on either side of the line.  Cut down the line, and dah-dah - two sets of two triangles sewn together!

I attached the stars using fusible web.  I had cut out an extra star to practice on, and was glad that I did; because, as the yellow is so pale in colour, the green and blue showed through underneath it.  I ended up fusing two layers of white cotton lawn under the stars to stop the colours showing though.


I am very pleased with the yellow stitching around the stars.  I attached them using a narrow zig-zag stitch and a satin stitch foot.  My stitch width was 2.0, and stitch length was 0.2, and I narrowed the stitch width slightly when sewing to the point of the stars.  I learnt to do this from a quilting book called Quilting For Dummies, and can definately recommend it.

Sewing the squares together was fine, as there were only 25 squares; but it was after this that it got a bit tedious.  Hand-basting the backing, batting and quilt top was slow going, and the quilting seemed to take forever!  I stitched a 1/4 of an inch from the seam lines, and found myself marvelling at how I ever managed to get the bigger quilt under my machine!  I forgot to measure this one, but I think it's about 30 inches square.  I told Andrew that if I took the notion to quilt again, he was to take my machine off me - but I might amend this to saying that I'll only make cushion covers! 

After a bit of panic sewing, I got it finished and washed in time, and only remembered to take some photos of it on Thursday morning before I left.  Hence the fold creases, as I had to take it out of my suitcase!  The most important thing is that Friend and Baby loved it, and Baby is absolutely gorgeous.  I hadn't seen her, except for photos, but my sister had already visited them before.


Another reason for our trip was that Friend's Mum and I are on christening dress making duty.  It turns out that the patterns for christening dresses are completely underwhelming, and after a lot of emailing, we decided to use New Look 6115, which turned out to be out of print!  Some frantic internetting later, Friend's Mum and I both ended up with a copy each (thank goodness for ebay!), but we were better to have two patterns than none.

Source - Simplicity

Friend wanted to have a dress with sleeves; so I completely winged it, drafted raglan sleeves and made a toile.  I brought it with me, we tried it on Baby, and the sleeves fitted!  The dress was a bit too big, but the christening is at the end of March, so it was grand.  The only other mods we did were to raise the neckline by 1 1/4 inches and lengthen the skirt.  Friend's Mum had already made the skirt and skirt lining, and I made the bodice and sleeves.  We then sewed lace ribbon to the centre front and back panels, and it's just gorgeous!  We didn't hem the skirt because we ran out of time and bias tape, but Friend's Mum can do that.  And I have to show you what we sewed it on - this is Friend's Mum's fancy new machine that she got last year.

Not very good phone photo...
It was just a dream to sew with, and it even has a button that cuts the threads for you!  Naturally Friend's Mum had to take me to the local sewing shop, where she is on first name terms with the ladies who work there.  We went on Friday morning, and we were all chatting about The Great British Sewing Bee that started on Thursday night.  Sister and Friend had no choice but to watch it.  Anyway, here's what I bought.  The top one is called Fuschia Tree by Amy Butler; at £7 per metre reduced from £12.99 it would have been criminal not to buy it.  And the bottom one is called Asian Blossoms by Alfred Shaheen, and it was £8.50 per metre.  They are both going to be summer dresses.

Another rubbish phone photo!
We had a lovely weekend, and get to do it all again at the end of March when we go back for the christening.   Although next time, when we are coming home, my sister and I will try not to have to be called by name on the tanoy in order to get us onto the plane, as we were mooching around the shops in Heathrow...

Have a great week,