Monday, March 26, 2012

Zip up blouse



 


Visible metal zippers are still a hot trend, and I see them everywhere in the high street stores like H&M and such. I really like the trend, but my taste always run towards a more polished, finished look. So I don't feel like attaching a zipper on top of a garment, I guess I am old fashioned that way, even though it can certainly look cool. I first had this idea of having a zipper the whole way down in the back, but my first attempt didn't work at all. Zippers have a tendency to stretch and curl, and it didn't lie flat in the back. I am also prone to a little sway back which didn't help the matter.

Working with soft jersey, woven silk and zippers in the same garment is a challenge and I am so thankful for the invention of fusible interfacing. After a few trial and horros I came up with this design, which I really like. It looks quite simple in the front, but the back detail makes the blouse feel a bit special. Kathleen Fasanella has written about coffin clothes and while I have been slow to adapt, from now on I will try to keep the back of the garment more in mind when I make stuff. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Kwik Sew's Swim and action wear book

 

Christina asked which pattern I used for the hot pants. Well it's from a book, the Kwik Sew's Swim and action wear to be more precise. This is a book that keeps on giving even though the styles are dated (but I'm sure some are definitely coming back!).
The book contains instructions, full size patterns and ideas for everything from bikinis to leggings. I originally bought it for the swimwear patterns, but these days I own both a bathing suit and a bikini that I love, so I have no pressing needs to make my own.





But the pattern that I keep on using is the leggings/shorts pattern. The hot pants was based on the short version but I lowered the leg a tad bit plus added some width since the sequin knits was less stretchy than lycra fabrics (the patterns in the book are for fabrics with at least 75% stretch). I have done the workout top pattern too, but find the sleeves to be too wide for my preference, plus the pattern is only for a mid riff top, super trendy right now, but I would have loved a hip length version too.

 Cattie in the hot pants.


Even though some styles are dated, the patterns in this book are a good starting point for modifications and the very thorough instructions are invaluable if you want to learn the basics on how to make active wear in stretchy fabrics. Perhaps this book is out of print, but I think it could be worth tracking down. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Knit bias tape


When I blogged about my new blouse the other week some of you mentioned that you've never encountered knit bias tape. It is quite rare in Sweden too, not every sewing store has it. In fact I can only think of one store in my hometown who has a decent selection and I buy most of mine from the Swedish mail order vendor Bibbis textil whom I can highly recommend if you are a Swedish reader, she has a great selection of notions at a good price and her service and knowledge is fantastic.

Knit bias tape is made of cotton that is either matte or mercerized and can be used for all sort of bindings on knits, I use it sometime for arm holes and necklines.

Both the neckline and key hole opening is done with knit bias tape.

But my number one usage is for covering collar seams on knits. As I'm sure you have noticed many ready-to wear-knit tops have the serged seam covered with ribbing, at least the more high end t-shirts and tops has.
Like this t-shirt from Boden:

 



While it's not exactly the same, I think bias tape is a good substitute for this sort of finish.


Here I used back knit bias tape with machine embroidery for the neckline.

Hope you guys who are living in other countries can track down some knit bias tape too!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sequin hot pants





Today my friend and roller derby team mate Cattie has a bash to celebrate her 30th birthday. I joked one training that I should make her a pair of sequin hot pants in our team colours. And since I try to be a person of my word I decided to do just that. I have never sewn anything with sequins before and picked a fairly easy fabric, a knit with the small sequins placed fairly far apart, so I didn't have to remove any sequins when sewing. Normally I think you have to rip off the sequins on the seam allowance since the needle can't work through them, am I right?

It was a fun project and I hope they fit. I'm wearing them in the photo and I'm a bit bigger than her, but they are too snug on me so hopefully they will be okay on her.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A tencel blouse and a wish for spring


This is a blouse design that came to me while I was walking to work. I think my mind works the best when I am walking, I usually get tons of new ideas. Biking is not nearly as good for my thought processes unfortunately, which is how I get to work on most days. I bought this wonderful soft high quality tencel fabric, that I wasn't sure what to with. It is light and and has a fantastic drape, but I don't really do much draped styles. And soft drapey knits ar often hard to work with, in terms of construction. So I was a bit lost on what to do until I thought about combining it with this burnt out poplin, I just love the floral pattern and I have this fabric in white too. As for the tencel it is basically a rayon that is made in a more environmentally sound way and the waste products are recycled. This fabric is also called lyocell sometimes.  

 The neck and keyhole opening is constructed with ready made knit bias tape, I am seriously addicted to this stuff. I got knit bias tape in several different colors and use them for all kinds of projects. 


I hemmed the sleeves using machine blind hem stitches to create a scallop effect. I had to experiment with the settings quite a a bit before I got it right.

Nowhere near bare legs weather here in Sweden yet. We even had snow again tonight. But that too will pass.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A primer on muslins



Although muslin is usually assosicated with (and in fact tradtionally refering to) unbleached cotton, it often makes sense to use other fabrics when making test garments, especially when working with stretchy or drapey designs. I like to source my test fabrics in the bargain bins in fabric stores and Ikea is another favorite, since they often have offers on regular cotton and on some other fabrics too. You don't need a ton of different fabrics, but I think every muslin stash should include some cheap knits (both with and without lycra), a drapey fabric (like slinky polyester), and some regular woven cotton.
Here are some examples on what sort of fabrics I've used for test garments.

The fabric I wanted to use for these pants was a lycra/linen mix, so I  picked a cheap lycra/cotton shirting fabric for the muslin. By using a lycra fabric I was more able to assert the proper fit and ease, since a non stretch fabric would have been too tight.

For my wedding dress I went to Ikea for my muslin fabrics. I knew that they had some cheap chiffon type of fabric, which I needed in order to asses construction issues and drape. The Ikea fabric was a bit stiffer than the silk chiffon I used for the proper dress, but it still worked well.

 Regular muslin fabric (ie unbleached cotton) is great for tailored styles, like the rain coat I made a few years back.

When making test garments for knits, I always use knit fabric of similar quality. For this project I just used some odd t-shirt fabric, that I also scribbled on to mark seam lines and details.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I'm back!


What a weird week this has been, I felt a bit train wrecked after the injury, was in pain and had some trouble sleeping, but on Friday I got the stitches removed and couldn't believe my eyes, in just six days the lip had gone from almost split open to just a small scar! The doctors did say that lips heals great, but I am still floored by the quick improvement. The tiny scar that is left is something I can totally live with.

I also got the okay from the nurse to return to skating and today I went to practice, as I thought it would be good to keep up the momentum, since I got a bit scared after the accident. I took it easier today, normally I'm a bit of a speed freak, and really tried to work on my technique instead. All in all it went well and it was also nice to show how well the lip healed to the team mates who got a bit shocked too, as it looked really bad after the injury.

I have been awful replying to comments lately, but I will address some questions, like what sort of fabrics I use for test garments, in separate posts.