Saturday, September 20, 2014

Perfect coverstitch tutorial

It's been an awfully long time since I first posted a coverstitch tutorial... and I've learned a lot since then! So here is my new and improved quick guide to getting a perfect coverstitch result.

Coverstitch tutorial | Cashmerette

1. Fuse knit interfacing tape to the entire length of your hem, on the wrong side of the fabric.

2. Serge the raw edge of the hem. This is really going to help with getting a perfect finish!

3. Fold up your hem and press.

4. At the side seam junctions, clip into the serging just up to the needle thread. Push the seam allowance in opposite directions - now, when you fold the hem back up there will only be two layers of fabric at the junction rather than three, and it'll be much easier to sew over.

5. Use wonder tape to temporarily baste down the hem. First you stick the tape to the fabric, the peel off the backing tape and press the hem down. 

6. Place the garment right side up on your coverstitch machine, and sew from the right side. Start on a piece of scrap fabric, and then "run on" to the hem (you can cut the scrap fabric off later).You should be stitching directly on top of the serged edge on the other side - you should be able to feel it with your fingers as you feed the fabric through the machine. Optionally, you can first hand baste through the serged edge to give you a guide to follow when you're on the right side, but I find that feeling the serging underneath works well.

Use a tapestry needle to feed through the serger tails back into the stitching to finish.

And you're done!

Coverstitch tutorial | Cashmerette

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Contain yourself ladies, it's coat season!

Much as I like summer fun, my inner (OK, not very inner) geek is mostly excited about back-to-school season. What can I say, I grew up in rural northern Scotland and there was only so much Ceefax you could read in a day, so I just desperately wanted to go back to school by mid August.

Luckily, there's no need to deny myself these pleasures despite my advanced years (technically I was a student until very recently, but I just finished grad school! Huzzah!).  At this time of year I always indulge in new tights (these are the only ones that matter in the world), a duvet cover and a new pair of knee high boots (three sets are winging their way to me from Clarks now for consideration).

But now, thanks to sewing I have an altogether more satisfying early autumn pursuit: coat making!

This year's make was inspired by this gorgeous emerald green number from Marks & Spencer (purveyor of fine tights):

Coat making | Cashmerette

Be still, my heart. As my best friend from Scotland has pointed out many times, I should wear more green. It goes with my hair and whatnot. So this coat was clearly made for me - until I realized that the largest size was a good 3 inches too small for my bust, and as I can't try it on in a store I wouldn't be able to check the ease. Plus, there's no discernible waist shaping. (On a side note: GBP 120 for a cashmere blend coat? It must be made by small children).

I swear it took me a few hours before it occurred to me to MAKE THE DAMN THING. But make it I shall!

So, on my recent trip to NYC I trawled around the garment district looking for coating in just the right colour. Not an easy feat! Twice I found perfect specimens only to find that they only had 2 yards, which is definitely not enough for a coat for a size 22. Finally, nestling in a corner of upstairs at Mood I found the cashmere section... and an amazing bright emerald 100% cashmere. It took a bit of cajoling and mental arithmetic from the ladies (Lauren Lladybird: "but you have to factor in the entertainment value to the cost!") but I took the plunge. Here it is about to be cut - it's a little brighter in reality than it appears here.

For the lining, I'm going to be using this crazily awesome flamingo poly crepe de chine I picked up at EmmaOneSock, which is currently working its way around the interwebs. I was excited when this arrived at the office. Can you tell? 

As for the pattern, I'm going to use good old Simplicity 1759 again because I really loved my coat from last year, and it is already adjusted to me (swayback and FBA) so it seems silly not to. This time though I'm going to go with front view B which is a fairly slim classic lapel, which is meant to stick up but which I may fold down, because I'm a rebel like that. Although will that be a problem as it doesn't have a collar stand? Hmm. Confusing myself. I must also confess that I am a little hesitant about the size of the collar - I'm not sure if it might make my bust larger. What do you reckon? Or I could somehow hack something between the B and C views but working for single breasted... The tyranny of choice and the ability to alter patterns, I tell you.

I'll be going back to my original coat-making tips post, too, because I've sort of forgotten it all and it'll be blissful not to have to do all that research again.

A bright green cashmere coat will be mine. Will I look like Kermit? Only time will tell.

So a question for you, lovelies. Would you like to see in-progress photos of coat-making? I'm never sure how much people are interested in the guts vs. the end product. And, any top coat making tips for me? I'm going to go the fusible tailoring route again because I loved the results last time and figure I won't mess with (limited) success.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ice ice baby (brother)

In response to popular demand, my little brother returns! And in another Thread Theory creation: this time, the Strathcona Henley.

Thread Theory Strathcona Henley

I whipped this up in advance of our Iceland trip, and Tom wore it on our expedition out to see geysers and waterfalls and cairns (oh my!). I made it using gorgeous Robert Kaufmann Laguna jersey, which I highly recommend. It's beautifully soft, has a great weight and is super duper easy to sew with. The placket is a small amount of Atelier Brunette "Cosmic Blue", which I bought ages ago to make an Archer with but have yet to use. And finally, the buttons are lovely pearlescent numbers from Grey's Fabrics. 

I made the medium, and it fits OK, although it's closer fitting through the chest and looser around the waist than designed, because my brother's very "v" shaped (it's a family trait...). Looking at the photos, I also had a bit of puckering at the seams where the cotton joins the jersey - any idea of how I could avoid that in the future?

Tom was most pleased and graciously agreed to an embarrassing photoshoot in front of various random tourists taking their photos by the fun cairns at the entrance to Pingvellir national park, the historic area of Iceland where governments were convened for centuries. There are stunning views over the vast lake and volcanic hills all around... it's like Scotland on steroids!

(Don't those rocks remind you of the stone trolls from Frozen?!)

I must say that sewing for boys is rather thrilling: no darts! no tucks! limited fitting! Quite the opposite of sewing for me. So Tom's slowly building up a Thread Theory wardrobe, and I'm slowly mastering the ways of menswear. Have you tried Thread Theory patterns? Do you have any other recommendations for men's patterns?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wrap dress sewalong

Ever wanted to make a wrap dress of your own? Or turn into a complete obsessive and make ALL THE WRAP DRESSES?!

Then you're in luck. Over September and October I'll be hosting a "Wrapalong" (see what I did there?!) over on the Curvy Sewing Collective. We'll be making a classic wrap dress, and the sewalong will be suitable for all body types, whether you're curvy or not.

It kicks off today and there will be a few posts on patterns, fabric and supplies, and then the sewing starts September 29. There will also be prizes for some lucky wrapalongers... Head on over!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cotton + Steel shirtdress on tour up north

Behold, my first ever shirtdress! 

Believe it or not, I've never owned a shirtdress before. RTW ones were always out of the question: no stores carry shirtdresses that fit my bust and waist, let alone not gape between the buttons. For some reason, they then got relegated to the "items of clothing that will never suit me" mental category (see also: trousers, blazers).

How foolish I was!

This creation, McCall's 6506, came about due to the confluence of two events: firstly, my dear sewing friend Laney managed to accidentally order the pattern in the wrong size for her... but the right size for me, goddamit! Being the generous soul that I am, I took it off her hands. It still sat in the stash for a while though.. until Mary's autumn of 1,000 shirt dresses. I mean, look at that lady! I figured I'd give it a whirl.

I indulged in one of the brand new Cotton + Steel offerings - the Moonlit cotton by Rashida Coleman-Hale. It's really lovely - slightly lighter than quilting cotton but still with some heft, and it softened considerably after pre-washing. 

It worked well for the pattern, which is a fairly classic shirtdress design, with a proper collar,  separate button bands, and pleats strategically placed at the front and back but not at the hips. The collar as designed is comically large - unless you're going for a hardcore 70s look, scaling back is a necessity - I took 1.5 inches off, but may reduce it even more in the future. Unfortunately I messed up by not scaling down the stand accordingly, so the whole thing sits a bit too high on my neck and hits the back of my head...  To stop any gaping I carefully positioned one button at the fullest part of my bust, and I added an internal snap fastening between that button and the one above to secure the gap.

I used a straight 22 with the D cup bodice, and to my delight it fit straight out of the pattern with no FBA! Quite the thing. That said, there's a weird poofiness at the upper back which isn't evident in these pictures but is definitely there in real life. It could be because the size is too big, or maybe I need to do something else... take out a tuck from the upper back?  But if I do that, do I have to change the collar stand as well? And if so, how?! So many questions.


The pattern generally went together quickly but I have a total mare with the buttonholes. My parents generously gave me a new Bernina 580 for my birthday, and despite lovely features like auto thread cutting and a knee lift presser foot, the buttonhole has been on the fritz since I bought it. I ended up having to get my old Brother out of the cupboard to do them (less pretty buttonholes but at least I *get* buttonholes) after ripping out so many that the placket was getting properly damaged. So much for the "perfect Bernina" reputation... Unfortunately it's a 3 hour round trip to my Bernina dealer, and I've already been once for a "fix" which didn't work, and now I have to find time to go again. If they can't fix it this time I'm going to be climbing the walls.

Buttonhole trauma aside, I'm pleased with the end result, although I'm not entirely sure that high-necked (or at least, not scoop-necked), sleeveless garments are the most flattering on me - I feel like they emphasize my top-heaviness. If these photos are to go by, I also have a bit of a hem problem as it appears to be higher at the front than the back, presumably due to my chest hiking the front up. One to fix next time. The skirt is also notably short: I'm 5'6" but the skirt is clearly a few inches above my knees. 

Anyhow, the dress got road tested on my recent trip to Iceland over Labo(u)r Day weekend... such a fun place to go! Only 5 hours by plane from Boston, and it's like being in a different world, full of volcanos and ethereal blonde men with man-bun hairstyles and large hipster beards. My brother and I thoroughly explored Reykjavik (i.e. ate a lot of Icelandic pastries), including multiple visits to the gorgeous Harpa centre, an architectural marvel of a concert hall (and cafe and restaurant and event space) that's perched on the harbour front. How could I not take bloggy photos in front of the volcanic stone walls? 

And in the honeycomb-like massive windows that overlook the boats... (this was taken furtively while watching for security guards - I'm such a rebel, me)

What's your verdict on shirtdresses, dear readers? Yay or nay? I'm pretty sure more will be coming my way next spring... Until then, I have winter sewing plans in the works!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Swimming ladies everywhere

Remember that mental Amy Butler bag I made a while ago? Well I wasn't totally honest with you. Although the instructions were undoubtedly as batty as an extremely crazy bat, it was also frustrating because... I was making 3 at the same time! 

Any sewist can tell you that is madness, with or without nutbags directions. However, I was practically FORCED to do this undertaking by the sudden appearance on my Instagram of the Swim Team collection by Windham Fabrics: 

I mean, really.

Who wouldn't?

So I broke the no-fabric-buying rule that I had arrived upon that very morning in my car, and immediately ordered a bunch of it, to make a birthday bag for my best friend in the UK, and one for myself as well, because this was too good to be entirely selfless. 

Here is the one side with the delightfully rotund front crawling ladies: 

And here's the other with bodacious sunbathing babes!

Needless to say, the Crafty Foxes were *literally* foraging in the scraps bin when I was cutting this out, so expect to see these ladies popping up elsewhere in the future! I also have some little bits left here and there so I have to figure out some little projects that would showcase them in their full beauty. Any ideas, dear ones? 

The final bag came with me to Nantucket, and served well as a beach bag, not to mention being stuffed into my bike basket all day. It was a touch grubby when we got back, but a quick go in the washing machine and it's good as new! Those ladies are invincible.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Shameless plug

Gosh, I got nominated for the BurdaStyle Best 50 bloggers thing! Want to help me out? Then go on over and vote here. Of course, you should also vote for all your other favourite bloggers - there are tons of well known and less well known ones on there.

Merci, moppets!

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