Sunday, 12 April 2015

My finished Lottie blouses!

As promised, here are my completed Lottie blouses! I made two versions - the red one with a vintage crepe from 1920s, and another in a monochrome semi-sheer cotton voile, which was a piece that I bought a few years ago as a "coupon" from Paris!  

This is going to be short post, as having hosted the sew-along, there is really not much else to say other than to show you a few photos. 




That's it! I'm really happy with both, and think that both will make lovely work blouses, and would be perfect teamed up with trousers and skirts. 

Now I can't wait to see yours ;) 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Lottie Blouse Sew-along week 5 (final week!) - neck tie and hems

This is the final instalment of the Lottie Blouse sew-along, which means after today, you'll have a completely finished blouse! 

Today we will be tackling the neck tie and the hems. I have used a different method than the instructions for the neck tie - I'm inserting it more like a collar so that you won't have any unfinished seams hanging about, and there is minimal hand sewing involved. Sounds good, right?

The first thing to mention about the neck tie is that when you were cutting out, you may have cut the neck tie in more than 1 pieces as described in this post. If so, you will need to assemble the neck tie before we go ahead and attach it to the blouse. The neck tie is the only part where I have not used French seams -- my fabric isn't sheer and when sewn up the seams would be enclosed anyway within the neck tie, and I didn't want the bulk that the French seam could bring. I would advise that you judge this and decide whether you need to use a French seam based on whether the seams would show through on the right side. 

I had cut my neck tie in two pieces, so I need to join them together. As I'm doing a normal seam here, I have pinned the two pieces at the joint with right sides together. Sew along the seam with a 1cm seam allowance (or whatever seam allowance you factored in when you cut the pieces). Press seam allowance open. 

The next step is for everyone, whether you have split the neck tie in more than one pieces or not. We are going to mark the back section where the tie will be attached to the blouse. Still with me?  Let me see if I can explain this better with the help of some pictures. 

Fold your assembled neck tie widthwise in half at the centre back, with the pointy ends matching. For me, the centre back is where my seam was from the previous step. Measure from the centre back, and notch at approx. 28cm on one side (both layers). Note that 28cm was a little bit too wide for me, but I did cut a graded down size 6. Don't worry, as you can always fine tune this later on when you are pinning the tie to the blouse.  







Basically we will leave the back section of the neck tie between notches unsewn, so that later on we can use that opening to "sandwich" the blouse neckline in. 

Next, open the tie back up and fold it lengthwise this time. Again as I'm not using a French seam here, I am folding it with right sides together. Pin from the notches to the ends, leaving the part between notches open. Sew from notch to the ends, without backstitching when you get to the end. 

Tie a double knot by hand for a neat finish. 



Trim the seam allowance. 

Open up the middle, unsewn section, and turn in the seam allowance by 1cm on the unnotched edge. Press. 

Turn the tie right side out, and press. 

Next, we will attach the tie to the neckline. Pin the notched edge (without the pressed down seam allowance) to the neckline with the right sides together, starting from the centre back. Pin around until you get to the notches. As mentioned earlier, as it turned out the opening measured at 28cm on each side was a little too wide for me, so when I was pinning, I turned a small section of the tie wrong side out and rectified this by adding a couple more cm of stitching by machine. Do make sure you leave a bit of room to allow for the seam allowance and the bound neckline though. You could also leave this fine tuning until later on when we "stitch in the ditch". 



Sew as pinned, keeping pressed edge free. Backstitch at start and finish. You may find it helpful to use a walking foot here (see picture below with the hem), especially you are using drapy and mobile fabrics (my first experience with the walking foot here). You should end up with something like this:

Trim the seams and press seam allowance towards the tie (i.e. away from the blouse). Fold the pressed edge onto the inside of the blouse, overlapping the first stitch line slightly. Carefully pin on the outside in the "ditch", making sure you are catching all layers. Take care at both ends, making sure that they lie smoothly and cover the previously bound neckline well. There may be a cm or two where the neck tie is not sewn closed, and hanging loose from the neckline - this is not a problem. We can just slipstitch it closed or topstitch it by machine. 


Stitch slowly "in the ditch", over the previous stitching. I find it helpful to pull the neck tie slightly to reveal the stitching, whilst going very slowly on my machine for accuracy. At both ends here I machine sewed it all, since it was only a small section and my thread matches the fabric pretty well (and I was feeling lazy), but you may choose to slipstitch it by end if you want a more invisible look. 

Then all we need to do is a bit of hemming! We have the sleeves and the blouse hem to do, and for this I would definitely recommend a walking foot if you have one. Alternatively, depending on your fabric choice, you may wish to sew a narrow hem. Here's my experience with using a narrow hem foot. Of course you could also do it by hand,especially if you are using a delicate fabric. The choice is yours!

If you are doing this the old fashioned way, as I am, fold the hem in once (I used 1cm but you can decide based on your desired length), press, and then fold again, press. You can probably tell from the picture that I skipped the pressing (not my favourite part of sewing!), but I made up for it by using lots of pins. Stitch from the right side all around for all 3 hems.  


Give your garment a final press and you are done! Congratulations - you have made yourself a little Lottie! 

This is the end of the Lottie Blouse Sew-along -- I hope you have found the posts helpful, and I can't wait to see your makes! I'll take a few snaps of my versions this weekend and share them with you soon. In the meantime, enjoy your weekends wherever you are! 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

My Pattern Picks!

Remember my silk kimono? That was my first encounter with Love Sewing magazine. I was really impressed with how current and informative this magazine is, and you can probably imagine my excitement when the editor Helen asked me to write a feature on My Pattern Picks! 

This has just been published in the latest issue, issue 12, which has been on sale since 26th March. I'm sure regular readers of this blog will not be surprised by the patterns that I chose below, as I have never shied away from recommending them :)  

Here are the links to my versions of these 5 wonderful patterns:

McCalls 2401 (need I say more?) 
version 1 (blurry)  version 2 (spotty) version 3 (stretchy floral) version 4 (neon lace)

Simplicity 2311 
My wool coat

Simplicity 1368
My 30-minute maxi

Vogue 1137
My unlined version

Sewaholic Alma
View B
View A

Another piece of good news is that I am now a White Tree Fabrics blogger! Watch this space for my makes ;) 

Thank you for allowing me for some self-indulgence! 

Lottie Blouse Sew-along Week 4 - Neckline binding and sleeves


Are you ready for some more steps? I've had a pretty hectic week, so have only managed to get a moment at the sewing table this afternoon - thankfully I managed to squeeze in a few photos when the sun was still up, but you will see that the pictures got darker and darker later on...

Right, today we are going to bind the neckline and also set the sleeves. Let's begin!

The neckline is bound with self-fabric bias binding. You will have cut out a strip of fabric on the bias based on the pattern, and it should be more than enough for the neckline. I made mine using this gadget, but if you don't have one, you can still fold it manually following this tutorial. Do make sure you have the correct way up when it begins the fold. 
  
Next, we are going to pin the right side of the bias tape (with one side unfolded/opened up) to the wrong side of the neckline, matching raw edges. You will see that I'm starting from half way up the neckline, and there's a long tail end on the other side where I will not be sewing. This is because we will be sewing a neck tie next week, so only the bottom part of the neckline will be left exposed. 


Sew in the fold line, or "stitch in the ditch" if you fancied a rhyme. Go extra slowly round the curves. Clip off the tail end. 

Turn the blouse right side out, and fold the bias over the edge on the right side, overlapping ever so slightly the first line of stitching. Pin and sew close to the edge of the bias, and you should end up with something similar to the first photo in this post.  

Make yourself a cup of tea and have a little break, before we start on the sleeves :)  OK, now, set your stitch length as high as possible, and sew a straight line between notches, without backstitching on both ends, and also leaving long tails.

Pin the underarm seams with wrong side together, and sew with a 0.5cm seam. As with last week, we are going to use French Seams here. Trim the seam down, flip over and pin again with the right sides together, enclosing the seams. Sew again with a 0.5cm seam. 

Do the same for the other sleeve. 

Next, let's set the sleeves. For this I'm trying out using French seams also following this tutorial. Because of this, I'm attaching the sleeve to the armhole with wrong sides together, and easing the gathers between notches by pulling the bobbin thread to fit the curvature of the armhole. Pin all around, leaving the side and shoulder seam allowances towards the back. 


Sew a 0.5cm seam, going slowly to avoid puckers. Trim close to the edge - this step is more important than the French seams we have done so far, as this is a curvy seam, and the less bulk, the better. 

Turn the sleeve wrong side out, pinning the seam together with right sides together. 


Sew a 0.5cm seam again. 

Do the same for the other sleeve, and you are done for this week! 

This is what mine looks like with the right side out. 

 I like how my seams are lining up under the arms! 

And on the inside:

We are almost there and should have it all ready before Spring arrives properly :D Have a lovely week ahead my dear readers! 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Lottie blouse sew-along - week 3: darts and bodice assembly

I have some exciting news, as we are beginning the sewing today!

Before we start, I've set up a Flickr group, so do share your fabric choice, in-progress photos and of course the finished garments here

And just one more thing before we begin sewing (I know, I know, but this is very important) - we need to transfer our pattern markings to the fabric pieces. 

I recently started using tailor's tacks, and tend to rely on them a lot more than using pins when it comes to delicate/slippery/mobile fabrics. Want to decide for yourself? Taisia has a wonderful post here

OK, let's sew! :D 

First, pin each dart with right sides together. 

Here I am using glass-headed pins, as the crepe fabric that I'm using isn't hugely delicate (but it sure moves quite a bit), and the main benefit of these pins is that their heads are made of glass, so are iron-proof. 

If you are using more delicate fabric, though, I would highly recommend using fine pins like these, as they will minimise any potential damage to the fabric. They should come with a health warning, though, as pro-longed use would give you finger-aches! 

Sew it as pinned. Backstitch at the start, but do not backstitch at the bust point. If you are working with a delicate and fluid fabric, you might want to check out some tips here for a smooth, pucker-free finish. 

Instead, leave a decent length of thread trail, and tie a double knot by hand.  

Press darts towards the bottom. 

Next, pin bodice front to bodice back with wrong sides together, i.e. like how it would look finished except for the seams, because we are going to use French seams! I have pinned the side seams as well as the shoulder seams as 1) I find it quicker to pin as much as I can, and then sew the seams all in one go, and 2) we are going to set in the sleeves, as opposed to attaching them flat (distinction explained here)

Sew a narrow 0.5cm seam. This is because the built-in seam allowance for this pattern is only 1cm, rather than the usual 1.5cm, which is then halved to allow for the French seams. 

Please excuse the orangy-looking photos. It is hard to get decent photos on a winter weekday evening. Thankfully I found a super clear tutorial here on French seams for you. 

After sewing all four seams (2 sides and 2 shoulders) with a narrow seam allowance, we are going to trim them to make them ever more narrow! This is so that when we sew again with a 0.5cm seam allowance on the other side, the seams won't be poking out. 

Press seams open. 

Next, we are going to turn the blouse inside out. Pin these 4 seams again, but this time with the right sides together, i.e. enclosing the seam allowances.  


Sew all four seams as pinned. 

That'll be all for this week! We almost have a wearable blouse ;) Stay tuned and you'll have your own Lottie blouse very soon! 
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