Thursday, 6 November 2014

Kirsten Kimono Tees

After a few year's break I recently took up Pilates again and have been in need of some comfortable tops to wear to classes. I've followed Maria Denmark's blog for years but only recently realised that you could get her Kirsten Kimono t-shirt pattern free by signing up to her newsletter.

The pattern was exactly what I wanted for Pilates wear - a comfortable and fairly loose fit in a flattering style. Maria posted a tutorial for lengthening the sleeves a few months ago and I followed this, adding 9cm in length. This added coverage for my arms (not my fave feature!) and meant I'd be marginally warmer in the often chilly studio.

Sorry, falling asleep on the job here

The pattern doesn't come with seam allowances included and also gets you to do a bit of maths to work out the length of your neckline binding, but this wasn't too taxing. I cut a size S and didn't bother to add the seam allowances (#lazyseamstress). Other than lengthening the sleeves I made no other changes.

Hmm, bit of sway back action there!
The fabric is some slinky viscose jersey which I had leftover from lining Jon's Finlayson Sweater. It's not the ideal fabric as it creases really easily. I don't iron clothes at the best of times, and certainly not for exercise classes! It was good for a tester though, and very comfortable to wear.

The only problem I had construction wise was with the neckline. I'm pretty sure that the maths for the length of my neck binding was right, but it doesn't want to lie flat at the shoulder seams. I'm not sure if this is because of how long I cut the binding, how much I stretched it, or whether it's because there's a fairly tight corner for it to go around, being a boatneck style. It's not massively noticeable but enough to bother me.

After a bit of research I corrected this in my second version...

This version I made up exactly the same as my first, but just finished the neckline using a different technique. I cut the binding piece in two (making one slightly longer than the other) and before I did anything else, I sewed the binding to the front and back necklines separately. I then flipped the binding pieces to the inside and topstitched them down, before sewing up the top as instructed. This gave a nice neat finish and solved my problem of the neckline not lying flat.

I got the fabric for this top from Utrecht's fabric market, for the whopping price of 3 euros. I think it's also viscose, but is a thicker weight than the blue material. Because it's cheap it also has some quirks - after it's been washed the blue lines in the fabric wrinkle up somewhat, and need a lot of steam to look as flat as they do in the photos. Again, not something I'm going to do for Pilates! I'm just going to call it texture and move on. *sigh*

I didn't do a sway back adjustment, but it's really not as noticeable here

This was my first time working with stripy fabric, so I tried hard to make sure that the stripes at the side seams would match up.

Not a bad job I'd say! (Excuse the ghost hand) This was helped by using a whole load of pins and my walking foot (which I tend to use for most projects because it cost me so much money. Why Bernina, why?!). 

Whilst the side seams are looking good, I kind of forgot it might be nice if the shoulder seams also matched:

To be honest though I think they're off enough that it doesn't matter. I also think it may have been tricky to get them to match as the back sleeve is a different shape to the font.

For both tops I hemmed the sleeves and bodice using a twin needle. I added a strip of stretchy fusible interfacing first to the wrong side, which stabilises the fabric and reduces that 'tunneling' you can get with twin needles.

I really like the fit of these tops and the way they turned out, especially as the pattern was freeee. Plus they were really quick to sew up (especially if you don't make extra work for yourself by adding pattern matching into the mix). After looking at the examples again on Maria's blog I'd quite like to make a few short sleeve versions of these, they look really flattering on her.

Sidenote, whilst taking these pictures my husband commented 'you look really small!'. Well my love, at 5 foot 2 I don't think I'm ever going to look tall.. It's only taken him 9 years to notice!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Birthday sewing

October is not my husband's favourite month. It's birthday overload for him. His brother's is first, followed by his dad's (on the same day as mine!) and then his mum's. And it's also his parents' wedding anniversary! A busy month present wise.

As well as dressmaking, I'll generally have a go at most things sewing-wise and find non-clothes based sewing can be particularly satisfying after you've been knee deep in dress patterns (no fitting, woo!). I was feeling inspired this year so decided to sew presents for my in-laws. I'd spotted Thread Theory's wash bag tutorial on their blog and thought this would fit the bill for the boys.

I made the bags out of canvas cotton as suggested, lining them with the same fabric. I only had some dodgy old and very stiff interfacing on hand, so I only applied this to the lining fabric which seams to have provided the structure needed.

I debated the ethics of what fabric to use for the strap, but in the end went with real leather as there's a guy at the market who sells tonnes of offcuts. You basically just search through the pile and find a bit you like, hold it up and then he shouts a price at you. I tried to haggle with him, but he was either pretending not to understand my Dutch or genuinely didn't know what I was saying (the latter is probably more realistic!). 

Naked, strapless bag

Anyway I couldn't find the Chicago Screws the tutorial calls for and debated for a long time what to use instead as I wanted the handle to be able to move around. My solution actually happened by accident as I eventually gave up and bought what I thought were large rivets, only to get them home and discover they were press studs! These worked well as the strap is still able to move around, with the added bonus that it can be popped off so the bag can be thrown in the wash. It's the first time I've used any kind of 'hammer on' hardware so I'm slightly anxious that they may fall off at some point. I do really like the professional look that they give though.

The innards

I added a tab to one end of the bag to help close the zip, which was just a small piece of leather. I also finished the insides with some bias binding that I had left over from another project. 

The second bag was pretty much the same, except in a red canvas for a Charlton Athletic FC fan (the first was for a Leeds United fan). I also added a tab to the other end of the zip, so the bag is easy to open and close.

Insides were also finished with bias binding...

I really love how these bags turned out. They're a really good size and the construction was very straightforward. A great tutorial.

The next presents I made were for Jon's mum. She's a very talented crocheter (made 120 crochet heart coasters for our wedding, fyi) so I thought she'd like a kit for her hooks and projects.

I promise it doesn't look this wrinkly in real life!

First up I made a roll for her to store her hooks in, with a flap at the top so the hooks don't fall out when it's rolled up.

I didn't use a tutorial for this, but just made up a pattern based on the size of an average hook. I varied the size of the channels for different size hooks.

I also hand embroidered a little tag for the front and added some tree ribbon to tie it shut.

Finally, I made a fabric basket/bag for her works in progress. 

I made this following the Village Haberdashery's basket tutorial, which is pretty fitting as that's where the grey fabric came from! I had no idea what 'fusible fleece' would be in Dutch, and couldn't find anything on the market that looked like it, so I just used a layer of wadding which I glued (yep) to the outer layer. My basket is quite a bit floppier than those in the tutorial, so I kind of wish I'd used two layers of wadding. You live and learn!

I used the same lining fabric as on the hook roll and also added a tag to the front of the bag (it's always just one more row).  I also left off the pockets from the design to keep the look simple.

Such a sweet couple ;)