Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Sewaholic Robson Trench

My husband: Do you think you could turn my new suit trousers up? 
Me: I don't think I'm skilled enough to do that I'm afraid. 
Also me: Hey, look at my latest make... 
Entering - my new Robson Trench! 

Sewaholic Robson Trench Camel Twill
And check out the details:  
This is my first make as a proud Minerva Maker. Read all about the making of the trench on the Minerva Blog here

And yes, as a loving wife and mother of his child, of course I did turn up the suit trousers. Two pairs! 

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Panda outfit and a flatlock tutorial!

One of my favourite pieces of Freya's ready to wear clothing was a pair of bum panel leggings. From the front, they looked like a cute pair of leggings with sweet polka dots, but as she rolled over, what do you know? There was a ladybug staring right at you. Naturally, once she has outgrown them, I wanted to make my own for the next size. 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorial
One of the details on those ladybug leggings were that the bum panel was flatlocked, so I thought I'd go the whole way and recreate those, too. Since this took a bit of experimentation, and there's not that much out there on this topic, I wanted to do a little tutorial here, too. As a result, this post is going to be a long one, with lots of photos, so please make sure you are sitting comfortably. 


First of all, a few words on the project. I bought this lovely Panda French Terry even before Freya was born, as pandas are obligatory for a half Chinese baby, right? 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorial
I knew I wanted to make a long sleeve Ringer Tee with it, but wanted to complete the outfit without there being pandas everywhere. Then the light bulb moment came - bum panel leggings! 

brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorial
I almost self-drafted the bum panel from the tried and tested leggings pattern, but then I came across the Locksley leggings by Mother Grimm. Having spent 4 years living in Cardiff, I have developed quite a soft spot for the Welsh people, who welcomed me wholeheartedly to their country when I was still a fresh faced teenager. I couldn't pass the chance to support an independent (tick), Welsh (tick), sewing-related (tick) business. 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorial
Both the top and leggings were made straight out of the envelope, so to speak, in size 9-12 months. Both patterns were great, and an easy sew. The only tricky thing was the flatlocking, which I'll get to now! 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorial

What is flatlock? 

Strictly speaking, you need a special, industrial machine to do a proper flatlock. It is a stretch seam with basically no bulk, which is why it's often used in activewear.

What I'm showing you today is a flatlock stitch done on an overlocker (or a serger, for those sewing friends across the pond). As I'm doing a "strong flatlock" (or "lapped flatlock"), it is not completely bulk-free, but as the seam allowance overlaps within the stitching, this seam is much more comfortable against the skin compared to a normal overlock. [*NB - you can achieve a complete bulk-free flatlock on an overlocker, but the resulting seam is much less strong and secure, so I don't like to use it on leggings. See the hemming section below).]

What you'll need
  • An overlocker/serger
  • Its manual
  • Matching/contrasting  thread

Machine settings

Please refer to your machine manual here. What we are doing is a wide, 3-thread flatlock with the left needle, which means that the left needle will need to come out. The tensions depend on your specific machine, and the fabric that you are working with, but for your reference mine are 0.5, n/a, 5 and 7. These are what my machine recommended for medium-weight fabrics, and worked a treat. I also leave my cutting blade engaged.


Before we start flatlocking away, I like to prepare the pattern pieces. The actual sewing part is quick and fun, so let's be patient with the preparation part :)

A key consideration here are the seam allowances, and this comes in two parts.

  • For the seams that you are flatlocking, the seam allowances will end up overlapping. My flatlocked seam is approx 5mm (the same as my wide overlock), and the pattern calls for a 10mm seam allowance. This means that I need to trim an extra 2.5mm (approx 1/8 inch) off these seams to enable me to sew them up as usual. In other words, I am trimming off the 2.5mm now from these seams on my cut pattern pieces before sewing, so that when I serge, I'm able to place the fabric in the "normal" position against the blade, trimming off the "normal" amount. Alternatively, you could do nothing now, and trim and extra 2.5mm as you sew, but this tutorial follows the method above. 
  • Secondly, for the seams that will cross the flatlocked seams, I trimmed the full extra 5mm off the seam allowances before sewing. This is because the flatlocked seams, although strong, are harder to secure. I secure them (as detailed below) with a few steps, but if you end up then cutting the tied ends off as you sewed your next seams, you have a risk of the flatlocked stitch unravelling. This step therefore requires you to consider all the seams that cross the flatlocked seams, and for these leggings, they are the inseams and waistline seams, as well as the waistband seams. 
Let's get sewing!

It goes without saying that you should try this stitch on 2 layers of scrap fabrics of the same weight first, before working on your actual garment. 

For a traditional flatlocked look, pin or clip the pieces with wrong sides together. I'd like the flatlock to be on the panda (rather than pink) side, so the panda side is facing up. This will make sense in a minute, I promise. 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorial
Sew a long thread chain first. Then, place the fabric in the usual position next to the blade (see explanation in the prep section above). Check again that you have the wrong sides together, and start serging as normal. Once the seam is finished, continue sewing until a long thread chain is formed. 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorial
You should have a seam that looks quite similar to an overlock, but a bit more scrunched up. The tension is a bit off, but this is okay as we want the off tension on purpose. 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorialUse your fingers to even out the stitching slightly. This is where the long thread chain comes in handy! You'll be amazed by how much of it unravels as you even out the stitch. If you are flatlocking a long seam - leave an extra, extra long tail. 

This is what my seam looks like. 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorial
Next, the magic step! Pull your fabrics on both sides so that the stitching loosens up. The seam allowances should overlap each other, and the loopers should appear on the right side of the fabric, enclosing the seam allowances on the panda (or your equivalent) side. Note - you must complete this step before sewing your next seams.  

So we have on the right side:
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorial
And wrong side. Note that if you prefer the ladders look, and want this on your right side, this is easy to achieve. Instead of pinning and serging wrong sides together, pin and sew with right sides together. 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorial
You have a flatlocked seam! Now we just need to secure it. I go a bit crazy here, so I tie a knot (top tip - use a pin to position the knot close to the fabric - pictured below), fray check, and I also bar tack it within the seam allowance. And since I've already trim the other pattern pieces that will be intersecting the ends of the flatlocked seams, I know that I won't be trimming the secured ends off. This should make sure that your beautiful seams stay that way. 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorial
That's it! Easy, right? 

Bonus points!

Want more? Sure! Some extra points for you. 
1) Don't have an overlocker? You can fake this with a sewing machine - see Taisia's tutorial here
2) This stitch could be used as a decorative detail, too. For example, it looks great on a raglan tshirt. 
3) It can also be a nice stitch used for mending ready to wear clothing
4) You could have a matching flatlocked hem, too! 

What I've outlined above is where we have the seam allowances overlapping each other (what I'm calling a "strong flatlock"), rather than having them next to each other and meeting in the middle (more of a true flatlock). For 2), 3) and 4) above, we need to aim for less bulk, and therefore the true flatlock. 

Let me demonstrate it on the hem. With hindsight, I'd actually recommend that you hem with a flatlock flat, rather than in the round. In other words, it would be better to sew the hem before the inseams. You could then start and finish in the seam allowance, so that the thread chains/ends will be nicely hidden in the inseams. 

First, fold your hem once to the wrong side as usual. You'll want to fold the full depth of the hem required for your pattern. 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorial
Then fold again to the wrong side, by exactly the same amount. To achieve a neat hem, it's crucial to fold exactly the same amount over in these steps, making sure that the raw edge is right on the second crease/fold. You might find that pressing helps here. 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock tutorial
Next, disengage your cutting blade. Position the fabric slightly to the left so that the left needle catches the fabric, but the loops are hanging off the fabric. Before you sew on the fabric, remember to leave a long thread chain again at the start and end.  
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock hemtutorial
See what I mean? Some of the stitching are on the fabric, and some off. 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock hem tutorial
 Now unfold the second fold, and pull flat. You should have on the outside: 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock hem tutorial
 And inside: 
brindille twig ringer tee mother grimm lockley leggings panda flatlock hemhem tutorial
Isn't it neat? Again, if you prefer the ladders, fold the opposite way - fold hem to the outside, and then again, before sewing as above. Now secure your thread chains, and you are done! 

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Baby jacket with bunny ears

I'm absolutely delighted to share my latest collaboration with Flamingo Fabrics. Since having Freya, it's been one of my favourite websites to browse, drool over, and purchase from (this dandelion French terry used in my latest dungarees was from there). So imagine my response when the lovely Dorota asked me to write a guest blog post.  
ikatee grand'ourse jacket ears
The Ikatee Grand'ourse has been on my to-sew list for quite some time, and I love my first version from it. I say first, because I know that there will be many more.
  ikatee grand'ourse jacket ears

ikatee grand'ourse jacket ears
Read more about the project, and my pattern review on the Flamingo Fabrics blog here! 

Monday, 27 May 2019

Leggings, bummies, and DIY size label

As Freya starts to grow out of her 6-9 clothes, I've been working on some wardrobe essentials for her in 9-12. 
Brindille Twig Bummies Leggings
I made another pair of the trusted leggings by Brindille & Twig, and unlike last time, without drama. 

I also tried out their Bummies pattern, which is available for free!  I opted for the leg bands, and omitted the drawstring. They have been great for the recent warm days, mainly as a neutral-coloured nappy cover under a little sundress. 

The fabric was a combed cotton jersey that I picked up on Black Friday last year from Girl Charlie. 
Brindille Twig Bummies
Both are such easy sews, and let me warn you now that I'll no doubt be making more versions of these in the years to come. 

One thing I have not had to worry about before now was size labels. Apart from when I was sporting a huge bump, my size has been pretty constant. But churning out clothes for a rapidly growing baby is a whole new ball game entirely. Suddenly, we needed to know the size of every item, especially when I'm not the only person that dresses our daughter. 
Brindille Twig Bummies Leggings DIY label

After gathering some bits from my stash, I made a few DIY size labels. I wanted them to be clear, rustic looking, and comfortable against the super soft baby skin. I liked how they turned out, so wanted to share with you what I did in case it helps anyone. 

What I used:
  • 3/4 inch (19mm) wide white cotton twill tape
  • Stamp set with numbers and letters (each stamp here is sized 12x9mm)
  • Inkpad - I used a Versacraft one which is good for fabric
  • An iron

The rest is pretty simple. I cut a 6cm+ long strip of twill tape. Leaving around 1.5cm blank from the top, I did the 3 stamps snugly (and the width of the twill tape was perfect). Once dry, I ironed the strip over a pressing cloth (a bit of silk organza) for 20 seconds, on a cotton setting without steam (some say 2-5 minutes, but even with the iron moving, my tape and the ironing board cover got scorched after less than a minute). Once cool, fold your strip in half, and you should have 1.5cm of seam allowance above the stamp. You can trim down the seam allowance if necessary. Sew into the seam as desired. 

For these bummies and leggings, I sewed the label onto the centre back when topstitching the folded serged waistband elastic, with my normal 3-step zigzag.  I've actually batch made a few labels, including for the next size. If you wanted to do this, just remember to give the stamps a quick wipe after each stamp, so that you don't get too many ink "boxes" around the letter/number. 

Of course, you can get creative with this, playing with the size of tape, stamps, angles etc. I have a few funky stamps in my stash from the wedding planning/thank you card days, and may well experiment with a few designs next! 

Monday, 20 May 2019

Dandelion Dandelion Dungarees

I've got yet another pair of Dandelion Dungarees. New and improved this time! See my last versions here and here
poppy and jazz dandelion dungarees
I found the most fitting fabric for these dungarees. A dandelion print French Terry for Dandelion dungarees. Need I say more? 

Onto the design changes and alterations. 

The last two versions were made in size 3-6m, which saw Freya through the winter months nicely, since they were fully lined and warm. For the summer months (and hopefully warmer weather) to come, I wanted something cooler and lighter, so I went with a bodice lining only this time. 

I also added cuffs at the ankles (shortened legs by 2cm, but added 4cm deep cuffs), in an attempt to maximise the longevity of these 9-12m dungarees whilst minimising any tripping hazard. 

If you were wondering how I constructed the dungarees with the bodice lining only, the very talented Melissa demonstrates it here much better than I ever could. 

poppy and jazz dandelion dungarees

Another change I made was raising the poppers so that they sit 1.5 inches higher, almost on the shoulders. As much as I loved the last 2 makes, if I were to nitpick, I wasn't entirely happy with how the straps were sitting. Also, the way the pattern is drafted is such that the front and back pattern pieces are identical; as a result, if you are using a directional fabric (which, let's face it, many cute children's fabrics are), the print on either front or back part of the strap will end up upside down. Raising the poppers by 1.5 inches (and cutting the straps as part of the back piece) addressed this. I used 2 sets of poppers again this time, again, for longevity of wear. 

Finally, I raised the centre back by an inch, as I prefer the look. 
poppy and jazz dandelion dungarees
I'm really pleased with how these dungarees turned out! I think Freya likes them, too! They are a little big on her at the moment (she's not yet 9 months, and these are extra long 9-12m) but I think she will grow into them nicely. By the way, I have a funny feeling that she's gonna develop a nice habit of "modelling"/wearing clothes that are slightly too big for her in the months and years to come, especially when they are made by mummy! 
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