Showing posts with label Fabric. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fabric. Show all posts

Monday, 12 August 2013

Wrap Around Pinny

The instructions on how to create the pattern pieces are very clear and quite simple.  The garment is made up of three pattern pieces which are easy enough to draft.  I found my 24x6 quilting ruler useful.  I used squared pattern paper but as my instructions were imperial and my grid metric this was a questionable benefit.  Inch square paper doesn't seem to be that easy to find in the UK anymore.  A French curve might have been handy for the armholes and neck line but I made a passable free handed attempt.

One of my sister's neighbours was kind enough to send me a good sized bundle of fabric she no longer wanted.  These two fabrics were included.  The yellow is 100% cotton printed with a design called "Seagull" as well as gulls the motifs include starfish and sea shells.  The blue deck chair stripe feels more like poly-cotton and had been hemmed as [Wendy House?] curtains in the past.  I didn't have enough of either to make anything large but I thought the two designs worked well together in a seaside-y kinda way.  I estimated that I would have enough fabric to piece the pinny with enough of the blue stripe left over to make the bias binding for the armholes and edging.

I elected to use the diminutive Singer 99K for this project.  I hadn't touched it since I altered my ironing board cover so I thought it was owed a spin.  As you will have seen from Saturday's post the designated sewing space is far too messy to use so I opted for the dinning table for this project.  The 99K is also the easiest machine I have to carry over there.  The blue poly-cotton is a good bit lighter than the Seagull cotton and has a tendency to pucker.  I improved matters greatly by backing off the tension about three-quarters of a turn.  The pattern includes a "⅜ inch turning".  I guess that is 1940s speak for seam allowance.  Interestingly my seam guide has a default setting for a perfect ⅜ inch seam allowance when set up as below.  Was this once some kind of dressmaker's standard I wonder?

I tried my hand at directional sewing.  Starting at the hem and sewing toward the waist.  Did I get it right?

Regular readers will know what a fan I am of flat felled and French seams but both of those options felt a little bit over engineered for a pinny so I decided to try a technique I had read about in a few different places on the internet.  I think it was probably a post on someone else's blog, which I now can't find, which put the idea of this kind of seam finish and domestic work wear together in my head.  I gather that this was a common seam finish in the days before zigzag sewing machines or over lockers.  It is very simple to do you just make a line of stitching within the seam allowance.  The stitches are supposed to act as a barrier to fraying.  I used the ⅛  side of the presser foot, against the edge of the seam allowance as a guide for my row of stitches.  On a ⅜ seam allowance this means that the ¼ inch side of the foot was against the middle of the seam.  Neat or what?  I love it when a plan comes together.  A more upmarket looking variation on this theme, which I have yet to try, suggests turning the raw edging of the seam under and then stitching.

The only down side to using this seam finish is that you end up sewing each seam three times.  The skirt of this pinny calls for no fewer than ten (yes ten!) separate panels (or should that be gores?) so I had the little 99K really chattering away to itself.

So now I have to make yards of bias binding and some apron strings.  Watch this space.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Negroni Shirt - Part I

I have finally started my first shirt!

I am using Colette 1014 Negroni. I found out about this pattern over at Male Pattern Boldness a mere two years too late to participate in Peter's Men's Shirt Sew-Along.

I was going to make Vogue 8889, I had bought the pattern, I had read the instructions, I had examined the pattern pieces and I bottled it.  It just didn't feel like a first-timer's pattern.  I still intend to make Vogue 8889 because I think it is a great looking shirt but for the time being I have my ironing board full with Colette 1014!

So where have I got to?


  1. Pre-washed the green (aborted  quilt backing) fabric
  2. Cut up and ironed the paper pattern pieces I need for the short sleeved version of Negroni
  3. Traced size L of the pattern pieces onto some plain tissue I had lying around
  4. Worried about how much the fabric had shrunk and how I would make the cutting layout work


  1. Stopped worrying
  2. Fathomed an alternative cutting layout
  3. Cut most of the pattern out of the green fabric


  1. Bought green thread and fusible interfacing
  2. Soaked interfacing in hottish water to pre-shrink it
  3. Finished cutting
  4. Started sewing!

Look! I made pocket flaps.  One of the things I really like about this pattern are the free pocket options which can be downloaded.  I chose the asymmetrical pocket flap in conference with The-Much-Belovéd.  We both liked the idea of the way they might look with the pointed pocket option.

This is how they look with the pockets.  I made a card template to press the pockets around.  This is a really neat technique that I have only just read about.  I wish I had known about it when I was making the apron for my sister back in December!

The green was not planned for this project so the yardage is a bit touch and go.  To help make it go further I have used some of the owl fabric left over from the fence rail quilt to make the pocket flap facings - cute?  I even remembered to match the bobbin thread to the contrast fabric.

My very first shirt pocket - ever!  How proud am I?

I just haven't been able to bring myself to sully that sleek pocket flap with a button hole.  Is it wearable left as is?

Pocket is edge stitched and the flap is top stitched

Tomorrow I need to make another one to match this and decide whether or not to add buttonholes to the pocket flaps before I go much further with the construction of the shirt.

I am enjoying sewing this pattern. I am going to take my time and savour it.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

PJ Pants

Simplicity 0501 is a free download available here.  It's one of those patterns where you mess about printing it on 25 sheets of paper, match the sheets up, and stick them together with tape.

As this pattern only has two simple pattern pieces this is not too onerous a task but I don't think I'd be up for doing this with anything more complicated. Overlapping printer paper and tape make the pattern rather heavy but it all works.  I used shears to cut out.  I am not too good at curves with the rotary cutter.

The really great thing about this pattern are the lovely clear instructions. They really are written with the beginner in mind. I love the fact that they explain how to cut a double thickness of directional print by folding the fabric in half lengthways, cutting and then rotating one piece by 180 degrees - simple when you think about it right?

Those who have been following events here at Oil and Thread may remember that I wound a class 15 bobbin with navy thread ready for this project back in March! I remembered this and the as the Singer 15K was still out from making the tailor's ham the choice of machine for this project was automatic.

The first step, having cut out the fabric, is to make two button holes, near the waist, for the draw string. I usually like to make button holes with an automatic Singer buttonholer (the kind that takes a template) on my Singer 401G. This attachment (which is fab and I will show you someday) only fits Singer slant shank machines. I didn't want to drag out and set up another machine so I thought it better to try out this buttonholer, also made by Singer, which fits standard low shank sewing machines.

Singer 15 with button hole attachment
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As far as I know this model of buttonholer is more common in the UK and Australia.  It is the cream and red, face-lifted, version of the type where buttonhole length, width, bite and stitch length are all independantly adjustable.  This means that making sample buttonholes is a must!  It's a little scary but I work systematically. Get the lenth right first, then the width and the bite need to be adjusted in close conjunction with each other to produce an acceptable buttonhole. My aim, based on the pattern markings, was a half inch button hole that was wide enough for me to cut with my seam ripper and embroidery scissors.  It took me four goes to produce something I thought garment-worthy.

Button hole, bottom left passed the test!

I remembered to strengthen the button holes with interfacing saved from the cuffs of the white shirt I repurposed to make the log cabin quilt.  It's sew in rather than fusible.  I don't think that this will matter.

I am a happiest working with straight stitch machines and a real fan of flat felled and French seams so I deviated from the pattern instructions which suggested pinking and overcasting the seam allowances.  I sewed the inside leg seams, wrong sides together so that my flat felled seams would appear as a design detail on the outside of the garment.

This leaves the inside, which will be in contact with the wearer, as smooth and flush as possible.

The new tailors ham made pressing the seams so much easier.  I am a convert!

I am really happy with the way these have turned out.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Baby Fence Rail - Pt V

Well I think it is safe to say I have crossed the border with the Baby fence rail quilt top.

Baby fence rail quilt inner border

The first border finishes at two inches.  The pattern instructions are to make the border oversize (both width and length), sew it to the quilt and then trim it down to two and a quarter inches in width.  That's why I have the cutting mat and rotary cutter on the floor (mind the carpet!).  The eagle-eyed amongst you with notice that I added borders to the long sides first and then the shorter ones.  I feel that this makes for more pleasing proportions.

Baby fence rail quilt inner and outer borders

The outer border is made from the darker tone on tone leaf fabric.  The pattern instructions are to trim this down to four and a quarter inches so that when the quilt is bound in (yes you've guessed it) the yellow fabric four inches will be showing.  The effect of adding the darker petrel blue border quite startled me.  I don't think I've made the quilt top too gender specific by doing this?

My progress with project has ground to a halt this week because I have no suitable wadding [batting] or backing materials.

I bought 2.3 meters of plain green cotton which is not only the wrong colour but also slightly too little for the job [silly Mr G] and when I went to buy batting the shop didn't have enough of the cotton/poly blend I liked so much when I made the last quilt.

I am now on the look out for some cotton which is the rusty red colour of the little owls - unless someone can suggest a different (better) colour.

As for the green?  Well at the risk of ending up looking like a stout Robin Hood or a geriatric Peter Pan I may use it to make a shirt... ...or shorts... ...or something...

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Baby Fence Rail - Pt I

Last night I pre-washed the fabric I bought for this project back in March.  It was all dry by the time I got home this evening and ready to be ironed.

With the fabric ironed I got to work with the rotary cutter.  I didn't set out to do all my cutting in one go but I had no idea how quickly this would go when working with new yardage and a new cutting disc.  To date my patch work has all been put together from repurposed garments or left overs from other projects.  This has meant dealing with irregular shapes and a certain amount of patch by patch cutting.  New fabric is regular in shape, easy to fold and it took no time to cut eight, two and a half inch, cross-width strips from each fabric.  I then cut a further six wider strips from two of the fabrics.  These will form narrow and wider borders.  The binding will be made of the third (yellow) fabric.

Don't the cut fabrics look satisfying all laid out and ready to go?

The brand new spool of natural coloured Gutermann's sew all was too much for me to resist so I got to work filling a bobbin.  I have decided, as this project begins with sewing strip sets, to use the 201k to piece this project.  The large level working space provided by the cabinet will be useful.

Filling bobbins is a task I always enjoy and never more so than on my 201k.  The rubber tyre is nearly new so the winder fills bobbins a treat!  This is where I intended to stop for the evening but all that lovely cut fabric was just too tempting.

So here it is - the first strip set I have sewn and pressed.  The ironing board cover is new.  I bought it off the peg but had to do major surgery yesterday afternoon to make it fit my tiny ironing board.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Free Backing Fabric

Now I like a bargain but I like free even more.  I found this duvet cover discarded.  It was dusty and coffee stained but 100% cotton and a nice close weave at that.  I took it in and gave it a soak in  the bath and then a good hot wash and it came up a treat.  There is one tiny hole (a fag burn?) near a corner of one side of it  I suppose it got chucked because of the coffee stain.  Having got it clean I thought it would be great to use as a muslin for a shirt or dressing gown but now I have decided I am going to use some of it to back the log-cabin quilt.

I spread the duvet cover (inside out) on the sitting room floor and got out the trusty Fiskers.  I figured that if I trimmed away the overlocked seams I would be left with two nice large pieces of fabric.

I trimmed as close the the line of overlock stitching as I could so as to make the most of the fabric.  I selected the side of the duvet cover that doesn't have the hole to back the quilt and cut it down to 48 inches by 62 inches that allows for a three inch margin around the finished quilt top.  I will use the off-cuts to play with getting the tension right for straight-line quilting on the 401G.

I then pulled out the left over wadding I was planning to use from my stash and discovered that even if I cut and joined what I had it would be about 25% less than I need.  I knew my luck would run out somewhere along the line.  Oh well shops tomorrow or the next day.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Log Cabin Quilt: Every Last Scrap

A long break from sewing over Easter but I am back in business now with a borrowed camera.  Last time I said I was nearly out of white fabric to finish the piano key border.  After another frantic search through the scrap box I turned up these.

They are the cuffs from one of my old shirts.  Most of the shirt has now been turned into log cabin blocks and piano keys.  Each cuff is double thickness so, between them, there is quite a bit of fabric here.  The middle piece of fabric is in fact bias cut interfacing so it will not be used in the quilt.  I will save it just in case it can be used for something else at some point.  The dark line on the fabric nearest the camera is actually the table showing through a very worn strip.

The cuff has yielded five more piano keys for the border.  I could only get two out of the piece with the worn strip.  I pressed and spray starched the fabric before cutting out the piano keys.

I have one more cuff to "process" and if I run short again I still have the collar as a last resort.

This is how I have decided to solve the problem of my corner stones.

I am happy with this effect.  It feels like these are going together more easily than mitred corners (which I used on my first ever quilt) and I like the way that the stepped strips continue as a variation on the log cabin theme.

I am setting myself the personal target of having this quilt top finished by the weekend.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Saturday Shopping Spree

I haven't done any sewing since Thursday but I have been planning and shopping.  Next best thing?

A few weeks ago my oldest old friend told me the fantastic news that she was expecting her first baby.  Wonderful news for her and just the excuse that I've been looking for to make a cot-sized fence rail quilt.

I had stumbled across a free pattern at Victoriana Quilt Designs a few months back and stored the idea in my memory bank for later.

I imagine something bright, fun and cute but not mawkish for a baby quilt and as we don't know what type of baby we are expecting I am steering clear of pink flowers and Disney Princesses.

I was thrilled to find these fabrics in the shop that is never knowingly undersold.  I spotted the owl print first and fell for it.  I've had a bit of a thing for Owls for ages.  I think it goes back to childhood memories of Blackberry Farm, Winnie the Pooh, The Sword in the Stone and Clash of the Titans (the original one with Larry, Maggie and Burgess).  Wise nocturnal birds seem to me to be appropriate to watch over infant sleep.

The bright yellow leaf print was next to catch my eye.  The yellow is a spot on match for the yellow on the owl print and the leaf is stylistically similar on both fabrics.  I toyed with a few options over the the third fabric.  I wanted to bring out either the red or the blue from the owl print.  I saw some blue with irregular yellow dots that I liked but the yellow wasn't quite right and then, a few bolts down the rack, I spied the petrel blue version of the yellow leaf print.  I hummed and hahhed a bit over it.  I didn't want the thing to look too leafy but The-Much-Beloved and the staff helped me make up my mind.

The pattern I intend to make calls for three fabrics; a dark tone on tone, medium tone on tone, and a light print.  I think I am near enough on that one.

I have one or two things to finish before I go at this project hammer and tongs so I guess I can enjoy the smell of new fabric for a few days more before I get down to washing and preshrinking the new yardage.