Thursday, 16 October 2008

Ruffled Top is Done

So here is the finished top. Cute right?

Well yes, it looks cute FROM THE FRONT. But check out the side and back views:

and tree trunk:Just a bit shapeless for me I'm afraid. I've tried tucking it in and that doesn't really work either so I guess this will have to be put aside for those 'too hot to care' days.

The pattern is V2946, a pattern I have lusted over for ages (my Mum thinks I'm mad and maybe I should listen to her more often). After seeing this review over at Sew Tessuti I decided to buy the pattern and shamelessly rip this top off. I guess you need to be 20 years younger and about 20 kilos lighter to pull off this look! Still I really like the front view and am pleased with myself for all the time I put into french seaming and rolled hemming.

For my next project I have cut out the bow tie version in this pattern from silk yoryu. I will be very put out if this one doesn't work either.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Edging Ruffles

I've been making some ruffles lately and it occurred to me to document some of the edging methods that can be used. The circular edge can be tricky to handle and it very much depends on your fabric as to what technique you would choose. As well as this, the different edgings give different effects, so consider the type of garment you are making - casual or dressy, something you will wear regularly and throw in the washing machine or wear occasionally and dry clean with care.
I have made these samples in contrasting thread so you can see the work clearly, but you should usually choose a matching thread (or blending for a print) as it will help disguise any 'quirks'.
The first sample is the 'stitch and pink' method. This is a pretty casual look that won't take too much hard wear. It's perfect for the 'deconstructed' look and it's also the easiest way to finish an edge. You simply run a straight stitch around the edge and then use pinking shears to trim the raw edge evenly.

The next edging is a method that I learned while I was studying costume. I worked on a set of ballet tutus with organza overskirts. This edging was pretty hard wearing and the stitching disappeared into the net layers underneath, which was great as we didn't want there to be a heavy stripe where the overskirt ended. You simply straight stitch around as before, trim the edge to about 3mm and then zig zag over your straight stitching. Make sure on the zig zag round that the needle falls off the outside edge to really finish it well.

Here's one of the finished tutus.

Next is the rolled hem made on an overlocker (serger). For years this was the only method I used. If your overlocker is set up just right, this can be a really easy and attractive finish on many fabric types. If you pull the edges as you're sewing then you will end up with a really wavy edge, I think they call it a lettuce edge (?).

This next method is my current favourite. I used to try and try to use a rolled hem foot and it drove me mental. So I gave up and used my overlocker for everything. When I started working in bridal I was horrified to learn that almost every dress was finished with a rolled hem - so I needed to learn quick! Running around a full hem on a bias cut skirt in silk charmeuse (on one of those fast, jumpy industrial machines)really cures your fear of this method, although I can't recommend it as a learning technique! But it really is worth mastering.

Below is a hem using a rolled hem foot and a straight stitch. I find it a very polished finish and it doesn't have that home-made feel that an overlocked rolled hem can (sometimes) have. It takes practice though, so be kind to yourself and start on crisp lightweight cottons and straight-ish edges and you'll get it in no time. The trickiest bit is starting and there are lots of tips around about how to get started. To be honest I just sort of push the fabric in and then use a pin to pull it through enough to plant the needle. I sit myself to the left of the machine as I find it easier to feed curved fabric into the roller that way, but really it comes down to practice.

My final sample also uses a rolled hem foot but this time I used zig zag. This is a more casual finish and on the right fabric can create a pretty scalloped effect (you could probably use your blind hem stitch for a similar effect). This method is slightly easier than using the straight stitch too as it's a litle more forgiving if you go off course - your edges are a bit more firmly anchored.

One thing that is always a bit of a fiddle is getting a nice corner. I thread a needle with two strands of thread and pull it through the corner so I have four 'tails'. I use this as a handle to start me off. This stops you getting really stuck on the lump at the corner.

I hope these few techniques are useful to you. I'm not really a 'ruffly' girl but it's always handy to know a few different techniques so you have a choice. I never use the methods in the pattern instructions, seriously I just don't think they work.

Next time I'll show you the top these ruffles are attached to.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Built By Me

I would like to start by saying a sincere thank you to everyone who left comments on my winter coat, both here and over at Pattern Review. It really brightens my day to hear such lovely compliments from people I have never met but who I consider my peers. And yes, I have been fortunate enough to wear it a few times over the past couple of weeks. I don’t mind putting it away until next year now.

I took a few days off after I finished the coat to decide what to do next, cut out three tops and then promptly fell ill with a cold. I feel a lot better now but sound awful (I got sent home from work today for sounding ‘like a chainsaw’), curse the hacking cough that stays with you for ages (mind you, my sister has had fluid on her lungs for weeks so I got off lightly!). My fella has been sick too but fortunately the WII keeps him out from under my feet and I have got little bit of sewing done here and there.

The first of the three tops is Simplicity 3964, a ‘Built by you’ pattern. Even though I am a bit long in the tooth now for junior patterns, I just can’t resist them. I think this is a fairly grown up version though, so I am happy.

Here's the front:

A close up of the front yoke:

And the back:

First the likes.

1. It was cheap. About $3.00 worth of lace, left over lining and polycotton poplin I bought for something else.

2. It will be comfortable. I don’t really go for sleeveless at work, but our summers here are so hot I can’t bear anything under my arms. I love these ‘sleeve on the top, sleeveless underneath’ styles.

3. It’s cute. I like how the colour combination turned out and I think it looks quite fashionable.

4. It’s loose but not too preggy looking – hide my belly but without making people feel the need to stand up for me on the bus, or ask if I am pregnant – both of which have actually happened (the shame!).

Now the dislikes:
1. It’s a little small. I’d already cut the pattern in a 10 some time ago, a 12 would have been better. I’m not sure if you can tell and I’m not encouraging you to perve but the girls are pretty well crammed in!

2. The sleeve are cute but part of me thinks they look a little odd – a bit ‘Lost in Space’ costumey. Or maybe ‘The Jetsons’. I’m a space nerd anyway so I don’t really care too much.

That’s all. Read my review for more technical stuff if you like. I promise I’ll try to get my next projects up a bit quicker.