Sunday, 6 July 2014

Procraftination #2 (or how to make a slouch top...)

Like I said in my last Procraftination blog, I try to avoid domesticity in any way possible by choosing the path of sewing (or craft) instead! Now, I don't claim to be a dressmaker, I am not qualified in any way, I learn as I go along but I love to give anything a go. So if you find another easier or more effective way of doing some of my projects then please do let me know! I like projects that are quick and easy. I don't have a huge amount of spare time, so if I am going to start something I need it to be something that can be completed within an hour or so. 

This time, I will be talking you through how to make a slouchy top. Unlike my last post, you will have to kind of make up the measurements yourself! You may (like me) have a top that you want to replicate so you can use that, or you may have to overestimate and see how you get on. I am literally going to show you how to create something wearable out of a couple of pieces of fabric. You can make a dress in this way too - just make the garment longer.

So... without further ado! I had to tidy up my son's bedroom, but I didn't want to. Plus I wanted something new to wear to meet friends and so this is what I did...

Right, like I said I based this pattern on an old t-shirt that I love but is starting to get a little out of shape. It's very wide and baggy and just how I like it! I cut round the t-shirt and cut out the shapes from a lovely piece of floral fabric I sourced at my favourite antique shop! 

Then, I sewed the shoulder and side seams, right sides together.

The trickiest thing is the bias binding. You can buy bias binding but I make my own to match the garment and means it is a nicer finish. I finish all my dresses and tops with home made bias binding, and it is actually very easy to make, just a little time consuming. I will try to explain as best I can (with photos) the procedure involved!

Bias basically means on the diagonal. That way the fabric can stretch to shape and is easy to manipulate around bends (neckline and arm holes) You will need to fold the fabric on the diagonal and then cut strips of the fabric about an inch wide. They then need to be sewn together to make a long length. Remember, right sides together when sewing them, and they need to be attached as on the photo. Press and snip edges off. I hope the pictures are understandable!!

Once you have your long length of bias, you need to edge the neckline and armholes. Remembering right sides together, sew the bias all round the edge of the neckline, approximately 1cm from the edge. Please see the pictures as I'm not great at explaining!! 

Once you have sewn all the way round, you need to fold the bias back on itself and sew a line of stitches as close as you can to the edge of the seam you have just sewn. This helps keep the bias in place and gives a neat edge.

Then you have to tuck the surplus of the bias underneath and again, sew all round to form the seam. From the front you will only see one line of stitching, but on the reverse you will see two lines. As you can see, it gives a really neat edge to the neck. Repeat with the armholes too. This is the fiddliest bit, but once you get the hang of it you will be able to do it so much quicker. You may want to practise on a scrap piece of fabric beforehand, just so you understand the procedure better!

After finishing the bias you just need to hem all the way round the bottom of the garment. Fold in a cm, then fold in again and sew all the way round. 

And ta-daa, you're all finished!! I think when I make my next one I will make it a bit longer, but I was limited on this one due to how much fabric I had. 

I hope you have fun experimenting, and as ever, please please send me pictures of what you have made!! I love to see your creations.

Happy making,

Friday, 27 June 2014

Procraftination #1 (or how to make a wraparound skirt...)

I'm not sure what mornings are like for you, but they kind of go like this for me once the kids have gone to school...

Take in surroundings. Sigh. List everything that needs to be done - be it hoovering, mopping, washing up, hanging washing out, clearing breakfast gubbins away, cleaning bathroom, tidying bedrooms, putting clothes away, sorting piles of paperwork, food shopping, sorting cupboards (although now we are getting REALLY ambitious!!) Anyway - all of it needs to be done. So, what do I do?


Anything, absolutely anything to avoid doing any of it. Normally I check emails, then faff around on facebook for about half an hour clicking buzzfeed links or watching "hilarious" videos people have posted. But what I ALWAYS want to do, and what I mostly can't resist doing, is making. Making anything, but it has to be with fabric. 

I go to my cave, my little fabric haven and make. Make a skirt. Make a lampshade. Cover a chair. Make a cushion. Make a curtain. Sew. Sew. Sew. I don't need any of it, but it's so much more fun, don't you think?!

So, this post is to show you what I made the other day. When my kitchen needed cleaning, when the washing up needed to be done, when there was a billion and one things that HAD to be done. I decided to make a wraparound skirt. I have quite a few shift dresses I have made in various vintage fabrics, but I decided upon a skirt. A simple A-line wraparound skirt. Easy peasy lemon squeezy and can be done in less than an hour. Once you've worked out the mathematics of it!!

So. First things first. You need measurements. This depends on your size and shape, but the beauty is you can make it to YOUR specifications! Decide upon where you want the skirt to sit - whether it is round the waist or hips and measure this. We'll call this measurement X. Next, decide on your length - mini, midi, knee length, it's entirely up to you. We'll call this measurement Y. I am working in inches by the way, so if you prefer cm's then you will need to convert accordingly!

Next, we need to draw a trapezium shape based on our measurements. You can make a pattern piece out of newspaper, or I just draw it onto fabric once I've worked it out.

You need to use these sums...

A = [1.5(X + 3)] x .3
B = Y + 1.5
C = [1.5(X + 3)] x .4

But don't worry, I'll talk you through it using my own measurements.
My X (hips) is 39, and my Y (length) is 24. So here we go.

39 + 3 = 42 x 1.5 = 63 x .3 = 18.9
(I've rounded it up to 19, and this is now A)
24 + 1.5 = 25.5
(this is now B)
39 + 3 = 42 x 1.5 = 63 x .4 = 25.2
(I've rounded this down to 25, and this is now C)

I hope you are still with me!!! Here's a handy (really rushed, rubbishy) drawing as to the shape that needs to be cut out from your fabric, and you need 3 of these shapes.

To mix things up, I've used two different fabrics for my skirt, and a third for the waistband...

So! That was the hardest bit!! Now you've got to cut out the fabric and sew them together! Remember the run of the fabric when you are cutting out - you don't want the pattern upside down or sideways on...

Just to complicate things even more, I fold the fabric and then halve the measurements at the top and bottom and draw a line between the two points. Then cut, and you have the full trapezium. It has to be a symmetrical shape, just remember this, and this technique just makes it easier for me.

And when sewing (right sides together), sew piece A onto piece B and then piece B on to piece C. You can overlock the edges if you so wish, and yes, if I was making these to sell then I wouldn't leave any raw edges, but this is for me, I've got half an hour to make a skirt before I can put the washing up off any longer and so I'm breaking a few rules!!

You can then hem both sides and all along the bottom. Best way to do this is to press a cm in, and then press again. Then sew. (I am presuming while typing this that my readers have a basic knowledge of sewing so please shout if you get stuck at any point!)

Next is the waistband. I made a reeeeaally long one as I wanted it to be a feature, I can tie it in a bow if I like or just let it dangle. So mine is 5" wide by 145", but to be fair I think this is too long even for me! You need to be able to wrap the length round you twice to have a comfortable length to be able to thread through and tie. I had a big vintage sheet so I could cut a couple of really long lengths and sew them together, but you may need to cut quite a lot of lengths and sew them together to get what you need. Just remember to press the seams open when you've sewn the lengths together.

Fold in seams (about a cm) and fold in half, and press. Find the centre point of the waistband and the centre part of your skirt and pin in place with the raw top edge of the skirt tucked inside the band. Pin all along the top of the skirt, making sure you catch both sides of the waistband with the pins. Then sew along the whole looooong length!

Then a buttonhole! This is to thread the waistband through as you wrap it round your waist. Hopefully you will know how to do this on your sewing machine, although you may need to check your machine instructions (which I did!) You will need to wrap your skirt around you to see where you want the buttonhole to be, but it is usually around where two of the first panels meet. Then measure and sew your buttonhole according to the instructions.

Then another press all over and you're done!!



Attempted selfies of front and back in my studio mirror...

...and one taken by daughter... I love the combo of the three fabrics together!

And here's another one I made with some more gorgeous vintage fabric. You could do a double sided one, add pockets and trims if you were feeling really adventurous!! 

I hope it wasn't too complicated - it is very straightforward when I am doing it but when having to write it there seems to be a lot of garbled instructions... maybe I need to do a little video tutorial too!!

Good luck, have fun, and please show me what you make!!

Anyway - now back to that washing up.....