Tuesday, 1 April 2014

By Hand London Mittens skirt

At last we can share our little secret: we've been pattern testers for the new By Hand London Mittens skirt! It's a big day for fashionable pets all over the world. 

I made view B, the high waisted midi skirt. It's a highly versatile pattern. Excellent for sunbathing:

Or wear it as a maxi skirt for city trips.

Once again the BHL Circle Skirt App proved to be a very useful tool for drafting a 'maths-free' circle skirt.
The seam was pinked and as you can see the pattern includes a sewing label.

What changes would I make? As you can see below there is some risk of wardrobe malfunction on breezy days. Next time we'll go for view C, the pencil skirt.

Finally. On behalf of all canine customers of By Hand London the furry assistant wants to protest against marketing the Mittens skirt as a cat-skirt-only. Come on, girls, don't do that to our doggies!

But today she's wearing her skirt with pride.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

New men's patterns!

Just as I was about to give up on Dutch pattern magazine Knipmode they issued an interesting special edition. Men's wear! Fashionable patterns, nice styling. See for yourself:

Not bad, ey? The issue comes free with Knipmode april 2014. The individual patterns can be downloaded as pdf from the Knipmode shop . Mr Foxgloves already put some of these on his wishlist!

And you know what? There are rumours about a vintage issue of Knipmode too!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Hitchcock's sewing machine

Last week I was at the opening of the Threads exhibition at the Arnhem Museum of modern arts. Here you see me standing in front of an installation featuring an antique sewing machine and acrylic yarn. And yes, I'm wearing my Deer and Doe Plantain.

Life of thread, Chiharu Shiota

Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota creates her own spaces by stretching hundreds of threads through the room. The threads compose a labyrinth, which can be seen as a reflection of the choices one has to make at each intersection. For some, the installations are a threatening presence, but the stability of the structure can also be reassuring and provide protection. Central to the work of Shiota are the themes of memory, dreams and fears. In Life of thread the sewing machine in the middle seems to produce the treads and is simultaneously caught in it's own product.

Walking around it I could both see it as a very cosy sewing cocoon or as a scary scene from a Hitchcock movie. You know, the one where sewing machines take over the world and you get strangled by your own bobbin thread.

A sewn statue

Recycle by Faig Ahmed
This piece shows the sacrifices that have to be made when tradition is being reused or modernised. Ahmed cut a 150 year old carpet in pieces, arranging them in the global symbol of recycling.

 Hand embroidery on found photograph by Julie Cockburn

The exhibition can be seen till August 17, 2014 at Museum Arnhem, the Netherlands


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Testing Lekala 8004

During my search for more knit patterns I discovered the Lekala pattern company. For those of you not familiar with Lekala: you pick a pattern from their large selection, send them your measurements and within minutes you receive a printable PDF of the pattern of your choice. Customized for your size. Sounds too good to be true, right?

Time for some testing. Lekala offers some free patterns, to convince sceptical sewists like me. As it's serger month I kept it simple, though you could also pick a free pattern for a wedding dress, a teddy bear or men's trousers. I selected Lekala 8004, a faux wrap knit top.

The printed pattern was glued together a few weeks ago while I was watching Olympic speed skating.

Some quick tissue fitting told me something was off. The horizontal seam that is supposed to sit under the bust went across my widest part. Needless to say this is not a good look. Hey, wasn't this pattern supposed to be customized?
Well, the blame is on me. I sent Lekala my height, bust, underbust, waist and hip measurements but overlooked the adjustments section. If only I had told them about my 'increased breast width' they would have known what they were dealing with. Since the placement of the underbust seam was my only worry I executed a vertical only FBA, as per Sham's instructions.

From there it was a quick and easy make. I added clear elastic in the shoulder seams and used a twin needle for the hems, just like I did in my Plantain shirt.

I bought a nice plaid for a pencil skirt to go with the top, but it will have to wait in the sewing queue till autumn.

Right now we are enjoying some bright and sunny spring weather, and some surprisingly early polka dotted guests in the garden. 

I will make another Lekala pattern soon, just to see how adding those optional measurements will influence the fit. But for now I'm already impressed. Although at 1.73 m I'm not particularly tall, I'm just slightly taller than the average height most companies draft for. It's nice to have just that little bit of extra length in the arms and bodice and the overall width was spot on.

Happy sewing!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Sunday eye candy

Credits: Mediarun Digital

I know, I know. Strictly serging. Stick to your plans, mrs Foxgloves.
But. Although I have no intentions of serging evening wear anytime soon, that doesn't mean I keep my eyes shut when I see beautiful dresses!

Mediarun, a London based digital marketing agency, created this stunning infographic of every dress worn on the red carpet by Best Actress Academy Award winners since the very first Oscar ceremony in 1929.

Which one is your favourite?

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Deer and Doe Plantain

Each day is full of challenges for the serger newbie! For my second project I chose the Deer and Doe Plantain t-shirt. Fitted at the shoulders, flaring at the hips with contrast neckband and elbow patches. The pattern is a free download and can be found here at the website of the small French pattern company that offers 'jolis patrons de couture'. And nice they are indeed!

The recommended fabric was a light jersey with a stretch percentage of 40-50%. Do I smell trouble? Like wobbly overstretched seams and baggy shoulders? Careful sewing ahead!

To avoid stretching out of shape I stabilized the shoulder by incorporating clear elastic in the seam (pinned in the above picture).

I was quite pleased with my first ever neckline band:

Although it's a little wider than I intended. It turns out I'm not as accurate on the serger as I am on the sewing machine. Something to do with not really knowing the exact spot of the stitching line, but as you can see I'm working on that issue. Testing 1,2,3.

Stitching the elbow patches and sewing the sleeves was an easy job and there were no fitting issues whatsoever.

Time for the scary bits! How would I manage to get nice hems without s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g? 
I bought a twin needle for stretchy fabrics, put the walking foot on my sewing machine and did some test runs. Argh. Skipping stitches. Changed to a universal twin needle. Better. Changed the walking foot for a standard foot. Bingo. Winning combination.

This is how the sleeve hem turned out:

While watching the Craftsy course 'Sewing with knits' I picked up another trick for hemming knits: use Steam-a-Seam to glue the hem in place before stitching. Steam-a-Seam was nowhere to be found in the Netherlands so I used the Dutch equivalent Plakgoed. Not quite the same, but it worked well on the bodice hem as you can see below.

One more picture of the back:

Le Plantain, c'est fini!

I'll be back modeling the shirt, but for now I'd better move on with all those winter fabrics.
Spring is just around the corner!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Start the Serger, day one, first project

I did it! My first serger project: a skirt in black jersey. 

There's not much to tell about the construction: threading the serger took almost twice as long as sewing the skirt. (Room for improvement on the threading part but thanks to all your great tips I hope to set a new personal best time tomorrow). I found a tutorial by Portia but whether it was due to my hip/waist ratio, my fabric or my technical skills, I had to redo the waistband. I cut some extra 4 inches off  and it still feels a bit loose. But it's a promising start!

Next experiment : a Deer & Doe Plantain top. To be continued!