Getting to know my sewing machine better

Hello chums,

I confess this post is shameful on my part. I am ashamed that I did not really bother to know my machine. Recently as I was looking for info on a flat felled foot…..

Let me tell you it all started. So I was doing this pattern drafting class at a local college which also gave me access to an amazing library full of pattern cutting and sewing texts. One Saturday I borrowed the much praised David Page Coffin book on shirtmaking (I was considering it for my personal sewing library). image_173I started reading it with gusto but quickly fizzled out because its is quite an indulgent book. Though the writing style is charming in the same sense of Elizabeth Zimmerman (the knitting goddess) it lacks the conciseness of Zimmerman.

Eventually, I got to the section on flat felled seams. He (Coffin) delivered a very withering critique of my current flat felled technique (the common technique of sewing the seam, trim one side and fold over the other to sew). My one take away from this book was the importance of a flat felling foot to achieve impeccable seams. The game was on.  As I scoured the net searching out said flat felled foot for my Husqvarna Viking H class 100Q (which annoying does not take generic feet ) I came across some YouTube tutorials and on the suggested watch list was a playlist by Heirlooom Creations.

I was surprised to find that they had 39 videos on my machine. Surely that can’t be right – my machine is but a simple one! Out of curiosity I started watching them and OMG! I was only using something like 5% of what my machine is capable of. Never mind the fact that I finally understood what this long shank thing that came with the accessories was.412415101lg_large

1311-photo20115It’s a quilting guide for perfectly parallel stitching!

Yes! I know there is a manual – I swear I read it cover to cover. Somehow I missed out how to use foot D for decorative stitches which has a wider low groove so stitches don’t get stuck (something that happened a lot). Or that the 1/4″ foot is perfect for topstitching. Or the darning function or the blind hem stitch etc…etc…

I see my machine in a different light now and can unreservedly admit that any shortcomings with regards to my machine have been due to me and not it at all!

Now back to the flat felling foot.  I decided against buying it as more research indicated that the 9 mm foot which is the only size available for my machine is only suitable for denim and heavyweight fabrics. Furthermore even if I wanted it for jeans making to get that RTW look, apparently the foot cannot go over seam intersections and you have to stop and jump the intersection and finish it by hand. Meh. Not worth the expense for me.

I did, however, get a narrow rolled hem foot and it does the business really well. I practiced on a slippery fabric and it was doodle to get a really neat and tidy baby hem. That foot was a good investment IMO. The next foot I have my eye on is a narrow zipper foot for centered zip insertions. I don’t always want to use an invisible zipper.

On that long technical note, I bid you adieu and leave you with something to think about – just how well do you know your sewing machine?

Thanks for stopping by,

Peace and love,

Hila

Portuguese Knitting Craftsy Class : A Review

During Black Friday sales last year, I bought a few Craftsy classes. One of them was Portuguese Knitting. The instructor is Andrea Wong, who is a very good and thorough instructor. I enjoyed the class immensely.

I bought this classes because I had read about how Portuguese knitting creates less strain on the hands. It’s widely cited as much better knitting style to prevent hand injuries. I was a continental knitter but it caused a lot of strain on my hands and I couldn’t knit for more than an hour without my hands becoming fatigued and achy the next day.

Because Crafsty has the 30 day guarantee I though I could always return this if it wasn’t delivering (I have returned Craftsy classes which haven’t delivered on their promise). I decided to make the free hat pattern that comes with the class to get practice.20161228_103646_hdr_medium

After a few tries I was up and running. Its much less strain on my hands. The first time I knit for the usual one hour and I had no pain in my hands the next day. On the second night I knit for almost 2 hours watching a film in bed. I had no pain the next morning either – and so on and so on. Gradually I built up my speed. Tensioning was my biggest problem. My tension was all over the place initially but once the new style had settled in it was fine. Like learning any new technique – the key is practice, practice, practice.

With Portuguese knitting you can use  the neck for tensioning or a pin.0c8b8fd302b300cca6e7d7c5929fc17f knittingpinswithbeads

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Magnetic pin option

I didn’t buy one – I made one using a safety-pin and one of my earrings. It works perfectly fine – I just have to be sure I am wearing a top I don’t mind having pin holes in. I knit at night in bed or early morning anyway. When I am out and about at kids activities I rarely bring the pin out and just use my neck.

 

Here is a Youtube clip showing how to purl PK style by Andrea Wong.

I am very happy with this and its given  me hope that my knitting need no longer be tainted by a fear of achy fatigued hands.

The class also shows you how to do colourwork and cables and lacework. Everything you need to know and it well structured.

Definitely one of my favourite classes to date.

Thanks for stopping by.

Peace and love,

Hila

 

BurdaStyle Magazine 10/2014 #105 Cowl Neck Dress Pattern Review

Hello,

Let me preface this by saying that this is possibly my most favourite dress ever! Don’t believe me? Check out this IG video….

Made with some fabric I have been very precious about ever since I bought it at Fletchers Fabrics in Leeds Market.

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Fabric before cutting out

This fabric waited patiently for its partner pattern. In other words, it was a stasher. For a long time. Then I saw this on Burdastyle.com…..

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BurdaStyle 10/2015 #105

 

Like magic, I suddenly remembered the swirly 60’s style jersey knit fabric that was buried somewhere in my stash. It was a perfect marriage of pattern and fabric IMHO and, again, I cant tell you how much I love this dress!!! Pictures first….construction details second…..

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I cut the size 38 which is my Burda size. No alterations at all. I didn’t use the instructions on this one – I just sort of pinned it out and took it from there. So I pinned the overlap how I wanted it to look, not sure if that’s what the designer was going for.

A brief perusal of the instructions had revealed that the sleeve was to be set it – No Burda – much as I love your drafting and style, I will not set in a knit jersey sleeve!!!!! I used the flat construction method instead and its ok.

All seams were overlocked. A simple zigzag finished the hem and the sleeves. I have plans to make this as a top and a shorter dress in a solid knit. I suspect this might become a TNT by the end of 2017 🙂

Thanks for stopping by…and until next time, happy sewing all!

Peace and love,

Hila

Burda Young B6849 Pt. 2 Needlecord

Hello chums,

I sewed up another Burda 6849 in a cotton fine needlecord fabric. This fabric has been a long term stasher so I was glad to finally get it out!

Burda 6849

I have made it in cotton lawn before here….

Burda 6849

I didnt need the instructions this time around as I am quite familiar with shirt construction. Note that this pattern does not have a tower placket so I used the one from the  Angela Kane tutorial. I decided to experiment by adding a velvet ribbon to the undercollar – something I see on OH’s shirts.

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Pocket flaps and repurposed buttons.
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Yoke cut on the bias.
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Very proud of these tower plakets
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Trimmed the undercollar with plush velvet just like some of my OH tailored shirts

 

I actually overlockeed all the seams. I just did not feel like doing flat felled seams. It was lazy. I did wonder if I’d regret it later and frankly speaking I don’t :-).

Working with cord fabric was a revelation. Never has my lint roller been more vital! I had to use it all the time – everything sticks to cord in a most annoying way in the sewing room, thread ends, lint, fluff – you name it and it sticks. My advice is to get loads of the lint roller if you embark on sewing with cord. DOnt even get me started on the amount of cord dust you get when overlocking the stuff!!

And yet I still will sew with cord again. It’s deliciously soft and warm. Cozy and durable 🙂

Here I am on a family night bowling during the Christmas holiday.2016-12-29 18.19.26.jpg

I really ought to make this in a solid colour to really appreciate the wonderful design lines….a chambray blue or a batiste white fabric…..

As always thanks for stopping by. Happy sewing!

Hila

XoX

Burda Young B6719 Mens Casual Pants Pattern Review

My other half is my loudest cheerleader who deserves to benefit from my sewing addiction. So in order to show my appreciation of his support I made him some much needed joggers for lounge-wear.burda-6719-burda-mens-easy-sewing-pattern-6719-casual-pants-shorts

As usual I bought this pattern during a half price sale around November last year. The turnaround on this project was rapid given that both sewing pattern and fabric were purchased in November with pants completed in December #smug :-).

I found the fabric during my first visit to The Shuttle in Shipley. I actually bought 2 colours – grey and black – at £7/meter.

The pattern is quite straight forward to make. The instructions are good on this one. I didn’t add the cord at the waist as hubs said he wasn’t bothered. I didn’t need to make any alterations to the pattern which is always  a win. Based on his waist measurement I traced the size 38. Initially he thought they weren’t baggy enough for him but after he spent a day wearing them he changed his mind. I think its just that he was used to his very old previous joggers which were HUGE on him.

The pattern calls for use of the fashion fabric on the trouser cuff but I opted for black cuffing at the ankles instead. I think that works much better IMHO. The fabric has kept up very well – these get worn all the time and consequently get laundered frequently. However the fabric has yet to pill. Some fabrics pill pretty much straightaway hence why I am impressed enough to pick up more the next time I go to the Shuttle.

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Burda B6719
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Burda B6719

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His verdict is that they are comfy and warm but the pockets should be deeper. I will be making this for him again in the grey, with deeper pockets of course.

Thanks for stopping by and until next time, happy sewing!

Peace and love,

Hila

Colette Laurel Shift dress

Hello everyone,

This was my first White Tree Blogger Network project. For my first project, I decided to fill a gap  in my wardrobe – the shift dress.cp1025-laurel-12-large-818764633d8862d1b4da235e826b82d41eb9dd463e3a1806080ef1627cb793cb

There were many shift dress patterns available but in the end I chose the Laurel dress by Colette patterns. The fit is semi-loose with a fitted bust and back darts to keep the shape streamlined which is what I wanted. It looked to me like a chic and simple shift dress. When it came to the fabric I had a hard time selecting from all the great fabrics on offer from White Tree Fabrics. After hours of browsing I finally settled on this floral printed denim which has a cute floral motif. I liked that the floral motif wasn’t so small that its ditsy.

When I received the fabric I was really impressed by its beauty. It’s a lovely lightweight tightly woven chambray fabric with a beautiful drape. It feels so comfortable and sewing with it was a joy! It irons beautifully and sews like a dream. The blue background is like a lovely denim blue. I prewashed it at 30 degrees and tumble dried it.

Construction wise I cut the size 2 on the Laurel (Version 1) and sensibly made up a toile. The fit at the bust was pretty perfect but the armholes were a tad too tight so I had to reduce the seam allowance for a little bit more ease. That did the trick. The waist and the hip were much too wide for my liking so it was clear I had to take it in. Here is what I did – I started at size 2 on the bust dart and graded to size 0 at waist and hip. This created the look of the shift dress I wanted like in the line drawing

Once my fitting was done I cut into my delicious fabric and made some bias binding for finishing the neckline with. This pattern sewed up very quickly for me. I left out the zipper because I found I could put it on easily without one.

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Colette Laurel Dress

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Colette Laurel Dress

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Colette Laurel Dress – Bias Bound neckline

I love this dress – it will work well in fall with layers underneath and it will be perfect for spring and summer too. I also really love this fabric and will be getting more to make a shirt – this is perfect shirt fabric as well.

Do you like chambray shift dresses for autumn too?

Thanks for reading guys and until next time – Happy Sewing!

Hila

Simplicity 1473 Girls Hooded Dresses

My greatest sewing pleasure is sewing for my little people – but sewing for the twinks is my joy. I love choosing contrasting fabrics to make them garments that are the same but different. I have a soft spot for Simplicity 1473 as it was one of the first garments I made for my son. The top I made then in 2014 is still around and my twins wear it now  <link here>. Here is the pattern cover.1473

I am proud of these makes because the fabric was not a stasher (stasher is long term resident of the stash). I made them within 1 month of buying the fabric.

I bought the fabric from B&M Fabrics. It’s a fleece backed sweater fabric that is very warm. It washes really well. When I took these pictures the dresses had been washed several times already but the colour is still good.

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I have cut out another pair of these dresses already waiting to be sewn up. The new owners love their dresses :-).

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, happy sewing,

Peace and love,

Hila

McCalls M7430 Pattern Review

Hello everyone,

I am so behind with my blogging – though its February I still am blogging things from last year – still better late than never.m7430_a

I purchased this pattern during a half price sale around September last year and got around to sewing this dress up in December.

 

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McCalls M7430

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Pattern Description: Misses’ Knit Side-Panel Dresses with Yokes

McCalls M7430 is a fitted pullover knit dress with side panels (no side seams). It has a front and back yoke with neckline variations. The neck variation is a bound, round neckline or a turtleneck. The hem variation is a shaped hem or a straight hem. The dress may be made sleeveless, three-quarter sleeve or long sleeve.

Pattern Sizing

Pattern sizing combinations are A5(6-14) and E5(14-22). I cut out a size 10 based on finished garment measurements and I thought it was not too far off the mark ease-wise.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

I made view D, using a black contrast stretch pleather with a pink and black cloque fabric. And it looked like what I was expecting based on the pattern cover.

 Were the instructions easy to follow?

I read through the instructions before embarking on this project and they were huge easy to follow diagrams accompanying the written instructions making this beginner friendly. This is a relatively simple dress to make anyway. It scores more points on the beginner friendly scale as there is a YouTUbe sew along by Anita Design . You can’t do much better that! If you don’t like reading instructions it’s worth checking that out. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I like patterns with interesting seam lines. This has princess seams at the front combined with a front yoke as well which gives plenty of colour blocking options. There are endless possibilities.

Fabric Used

I bought the main fabric during SewUpNorth in November last year. It is a bold black & cerise jacquard blister ponte (cloque). I have since found out that composition is viscose, polyester & spandex (which explains why it’s so comfortable). It has a beautifully-soft handle and a firm stretch with good recovery across the width and length of the fabric. This is the same fabric I used for my Lady Skater Dress <link here>.

What really drew me to the fabric was the easy flamboyance of the vibrant rococo-style pattern. In terms of fabric care: I machine washed at 30°C and tumble dried as normal.

For the contrast, I teamed it with fabric I already had in my stash from Leeds Market. The stretch pleather was bought to make leggings but I am glad I didn’t make leggings with it. I didn’t want stretch pleather on my neck so I used what little black ponte I had for the upper body. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough of the black ponte for the side panels.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

I took in the princess seams at the waist line to reduce a swayback issue. Swayback is a standard alteration for me but I skipped it on this because I had princess seams down my back to work with. Though for future makes I will do the adjustment on my paper pattern.

There is a little more ease across the upper back than there should be for a fitted dress- it was also slightly roomy for me around the bust area where I took in about 1” in total.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I am making this again for sure. Its easy to both make and wear. Comfortable and practical. I would definitely reccommend it.

Here’s a tip. The back of the dress is almost identical to the front so much so that when sewing it up its easy to mix up the pattern pieces unless if you make sure to mark them – I didnt and honestly will never not mark them again!

And another thing; my biggest issue was trying to get the sleeve head lines to line up with the yoke. My initial preference would have been to make this in a stripey main fabric. However, I realised that I had a bit of trouble with a solid colour – imagine trying to line up stripes! It is possible but its something to bear in mind when cutting out especially if one is fussy about perfect pattern matching.  

Conclusion:

It’s a good basic wardrobe staple. I may make a more summery one at some point with a shorter length, normal collar and no sleeves . this dress was on the shorter side – its fine for me but if you like more covereage there, pay attention to the finished garment length measurements before cutting so you can add length. I recommend McCalls M7430 if you are looking for a dress that is  well-fitting and easy-to-make. Alternatively, shorten it to make turtleneck top.

Final point about the dress: if made in one solid color, the detail of the princess seam and yoke seam is lost which would be a shame. So if you make this I highly recommend using contrasting fabrics. I also I love the slimming effect of the contrasting side panels (especially when black is used like I did for mine) – but any dark colour will have a similar effect.

Many thanks for stopping by my little corners of the interwebs. Until next time, happy sewing!

Peace and love,

Hila

 

 

 

Ottobre Kids Magazine Sheepish Hooded Jumper

Continuing with the theme of sewing for others, I am happy to share one of my favourite kids makes from last year.

My second little person was a sheep in the Christmas play. I felt the costume he was given to wear by the school was sub-par and inconsistent with his tremendous talent!!! So I took it upon myself to make him a sheep costume. After my zeal and indignation had fizzled out – I came to the conclusion that I wanted to make something that would also get a lot of wear even after the play.

With 48 hours to spare I got this jersey fabric from Fabworks Mill Shop (not available online) which has the most amazing soft texture! It was incredibly pricey for me at 12£/meter (I bought 3/4 of a meter) but I quickly rationalised as follows:

  1. He is number 2, therefore, numbers 3, 4 and 5 will wear this as well and if you calculate the cost then in makes it worth while.
  2. I was with hubs who is my biggest enabler. ” Just buy it and love and let’s go” is always his response (I can’t complain).

I washed it at 30 degrees and tumble dried without noticeable loss of texture or length.

I lined the hoodie with a blue jersey fabric as blue is said little person’s favourite colour too. It sewed up in under 2 hours and he was able to wear it for his production. He loves it and wears it almost everyday. The only issue was that little persons 3, 4 and 5 also wanted their own sheep hoodies too! Baaaa!

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Thanks for stopping by! I’ll be back soon with another non-Hila project :-).

Until next time, happy sewing!

Peace and love,

Hila

Ottobre Kids Design 01/2014 : Birthday Dresses (Funny Faces)

Hello again,

I made some more dresses for my little people’s birthday outfits. This is the pattern that I used.

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Ottobre Design Kids 01/2014

I made one change which was to have a straight skirt rather than a gathered skirt. Much as I’d love to say this was intentional – it was down to poor time management on my part. I wanted to make the dresses with a tulle underskirt as well as the gathered skirt so they could  have swirly twirly dresses.  I arrogantly thought I could whip them up in a couple of hours, however, by the time we got to the eve of their birthday we’d had 60% of the little people ill and I could feel that I was catching it too. Energy was low and I realised I had to make the dresses (because they had been promised) but I altered them to make in the quickest way possible.

I am not proud of myself for this, but I do promise that this year I will do better. The girls loved their dresses though (which made me feel even worse ironically). They turned 3 and had a brilliant day with loads of gifts and games and cake. I cant believe that its been 3 years already!

I bought the jersey from Jacks Fabrics at Leeds Market. Its a lightweight poly jersey at £3 per meter. It pills like mad though so its not something I will use to make day to day clothes. I have about 2 meters left which will make some PJs for the kids. I dont mind pilling on PJs as much.

Here is a picture from their birthday wearing the dresses.

 

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend!

Peace and love,

Hila

Sew It With Love Delia Top

Hello chums,

Today I am sharing my tester version of the Delia top which is a pattern that was released just before or after Christmas last year. I signed up when I saw that it had raglan sleeves.sew-it-with-love-patterns_delia-top_instructions

I decided that I wanted a peplum after I had cut out the hip length variation and saw no reason why I couldn’t add the peplum too :-).

I double-faced the peplum so I wouldn’t have any hemming to do. I also added cuffs to the long sleeves to avoid hemming. Sewing it up was quite easy and I thought the instructions were great making this a beginner friendly pattern.

The fabric has been in my stash for about 2 years now. I had bought it to make a Moneta dress but I fell out of love with the idea of an apple green Moneta. It’s a ponte knit with a lovely sheen. I used just under 1m to make this and my fabric is  57″ wide.

The hip length variation is not supposed to have a peplum – that is one of the 2 design changes I made. The other being the cuffs. In hindsight, I realise that I suck at pattern testing because I should have made it as it was supposed to and report back on that. I will do that in the future if I ever find myself pattern testing again.

Fit wise I thought it was true to size. I cut the size 10 based on my bust measurement and despite the wrinkles, it has a good fit. It’s also very comfortable. The one thing I will change though is the neckline. It’s a bit too high on me – I will lower it by about 1/2″.

I forgot to mention that this is not a sponsored post. I was given the PDF file for free but everything else was bought with my own money. There was no stipulation that testers had to blog about their make. I am sharing it because I like this top and I have been wearing it most weekends.

Pictures

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I like the subtlety of the peplum – I don’t think its too much
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I may need to size up the sleeves and that might reduce those drag lines…
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I need to lower the neckline

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Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time Happy Sewing All!

Peace and love,

Hila

P.S. You can watch me prattling on about it below 🙂