buttons for gingham blouse

Gingham Blouse

I recently joined the Monthly stitch a blog where loads of sewers can post there makes. Each month there is a new category and sewers should make something that fits in with that category. This is a great way to focus all those ideas for new sewing projects and decide which one to make first based on what fits best into the category! This month the theme is Check it out!

Gingham Blouse on HsHandcrafts

I don’t own many checked items of clothing not because I don’t like checks but just that I have never really seen anything recently in the shops that I love. In fact I think the only thing I do own is a top in a tartan-like print and I love it so I thought this challenge would be a great opportunity to add some more checked fabrics to my wardrobe. Since I began sewing I have bought very few ready-to-wear garments and have begun to notice that a lot of my clothes are beginning to look quite tired.

In a couple of months time I will be starting an internship and will need some smarter clothes so its about time I started boosting the smarter end of my wardrobe and so I decided to combine the these two ideas of smart clothes and checked fabric and kill 2 birds with one stone by making a gingham blouse!

I wasn’t too sure that gingham was a good choice to begin with as it always reminds me of school dresses and I really wanted to avoid looking like I had bought my blouse from the back-to-school section of the supermarket when I start the internship in September! However, I spotted this particular gingham in black and decided that it was too nice to pass up – and also there are not many school dresses in black are there?

I used the Fashion with fabrics book again and loved the pattern hack for a sheer sleeveless blouse. Although I don’t feel quite comfortable sewing with sheer fabric yet, and I wanted to use my gingham, so I decided to give it a try! I think it worked out quite well, the only thing that i think would have worked better with a sheer fabric would be the gathering at the shoulder as this is a bit to rigid and so kind of puffs out a bit rather than falling nicely. However, this is a minor detail and still looks fine.

I cut out a size 8 from pattern as this was the closest to my measurements. I could probably have done with a little smaller everywhere except the bust but I made a toile from some cheap cotton I had lying around and it didn’t seem too bad.

Perhaps the way the gathering was falling on the toile should have been a bit of a give-away that cotton was not the perfect fabric for this make.

The sewing went fairly smoothly and the body of the blouse made up really quickly (French seams and all!) Next step was to tackle all the new to me parts.

First the bias binding for the arm holes. This seemed to go really well and without too many issues.

Arm holes finished with bias binding

Arm holes finished with bias binding

Next, the collar. This is where it got more tricky. I fused the interfacing to the top collar piece. Sewed this to the bottom collar piece and then turned them the right way an and topstitched around the edge. So far, so good. Next, I had to attach the collar to the body of the blouse. To my horror the collar piece was about 2 inches longer than the neckline of the blouse. Not to be phased by this I thought I would simply cut a section out from the centre back of the collar and stitch it together again. Simple! What could possibly go wrong? Well, in my haste to put my genius to work I went and stitched it back together again wonky – so now the collar has a step at the back of it. Lucky for me I have long hair so nobody will ever see my mistake!

Step in the back of the collar on my gingham blouse

Step in the back of the collar

The final new-to-me step was to create buttonholes and attach the buttons. Not to be tricked into making another mistake I practiced first! Here is my first attempt at a buttonhole ever:

My first ever buttonhole on my gingham blouse

My first ever buttonhole!

Not to bad, even if I do say myself!

Next on went the buttons, no problems there.

Buttons on gingham blouseAnd ta-dah! My blouse was complete! For something that had so many steps in it that I would have to try for the first time I am really pleased with how it turned out, even the collar with its none-matching abck seam looks fine from the front.

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The details:

Pattern:  Sleeveless Sheer blouse hack from The Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric

Fabric: Mini check gingham cotton poplin

Notions: Black Gütermann thread, lightweight iron-on interfacing, Red Wooden Round Buttons (1.5cm)

Alterations: None

I think it will become a wardrobe staple. I am really pleased I went for red buttons as I think they make it more fun. Black buttons would have just made it an ordinary everyday blouse, not one that is special to me! It is also, the first step towards my new work-wear wardrobe for when I start my internship in September!

H.

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Pattern matching of the front of the trousers

Capri Trousers

I had been really looking forward to making something from the Fashion with Fabric book that came out during the most recent series of the GBSB. It was written by Claire-Louise Hardie of The Thrifty Stitcher and it was there that she did a 30-day challenge to wear something made from the book each day. These trousers were shown on the the first day and I knew that I would have to make some!

Capri Trousers

I feel that this make was an uphill battle right from the very beginning. My favourite pair of trousers had just given up on me and I really need a replacement. The trousers were a polka dot denim and I loved them! I did not want to replicate them exactly but instead wanted to create something of the same spirit and thought this would be just the pattern. I found some polka dot black cotton on ebay that looked up to the job, and as a bonus it was on sale (buy 2 FQs and get 1 free). When the fabric arrived I dutifully put it in the wash and hung it out to dry. However, when I came to iron it before sewing I noticed a number of thin patches in the fabric. Luckily I had bought plenty so I tried to avoid these as best I could when cutting out the pattern pieces.

Thin patches on fabric

Thin patches on fabric

When cutting out the pattern pieces I wanted to make certain the spots were nicely aligned on both legs so I folded the fabric and stuck pins through the dots periodically to check they lined up on each side. I got this idea from a tutorial on sewing with stripes but the principle was just the same for spots. I think it really helped as I am really pleased with how symmetrical the spots are on each leg.

spotty trousers pins

Using pins to match spots on each layer of fabric

Pattern matching of the front of the trousers

Pattern matching of the front of the trousers

The trousers came together really quickly and the instructions in the book were pretty easy to follow. My only issue was in some of the pictures (cartoons, rather than photos) it was sometimes tricky to tell if I was supposed to be looking at the right or wrong side.

Capri Trousers on hshandcrafts

The details:

Pattern: Capri trousers from Fashion with Fabrics (GBSB Book)

Fabric: Cotton – Black with white polka dots

Notions: YKK invisible zip in black, Guterman thread in black, lightweight interfacing.

Alterations: Size 12 waste graded to size 10 hips

I really like the trousers…and then I put them on. I had tried them a few times during the making process and I wasnt quite convinced by the fit but I though if I just carried on it would all even out in the end. It didn’t. The fit is so bad I’m not sure I can wear them. they are so tight around my bum and thighs I’m afraid the seams might burst as i walk, yet the waste just gapes open at the back.

I plan to investigate into some common trouser fit issues and report back once I have figured out what might be wrong!

H.

spotty trousers pins

Spring Bank Holiday Weekend WIPs

Another long weekend is over! I hope everyone made the most of it!

I don’t have a lot to show you for this weekends progress as my dropbox became full without me realising so none of my photos have uploaded but I can tell you about what I got up to and hopefully manage to retrieve a few photos along the way!

Firstly I have been making some slow progress on my knitted shawl, sadly no pictures here. However I have now completed 3 full reps of the pattern. Only 3 more to go and then onto the lace work border! This may sound like great progress but actually I am not even nearly half way as each rep is around 20 rows (I cant remember exactly) and the number of stitches increases by 2 every row so its getting slower and slower! Oh well some progress is better than none!

I also did a fair chunk of sewing as I decided to use my extra day off to have some fun so I played my keyboard and guitar for a bit and then started on some capri trousers. These are from the latest GBSB book “Fashion with Fabric”. I bought this book as soon as it came out but this is the first thing I have tried making from it. It actually seems really straight forward and easy to follow so they are coming together really quickly!

spotty trousers pins

I also spent a chunk of time sorting through my fabric and separating the good size scraps from the useless bits. I also decided to start sewing together all of my offcuts from seam allowances and rolling them up into a great big ball of yarn. I’ve not quite decided what I am going to do with it yet but I just couldn’t let it go to waste! Maybe I will crochet a rag rug.

Book Review: Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking

This book is fantastic! I’m talking about the book written by the great british sewing bee contestant Tilly Walnes. The title: “Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking” could not better describe how I feel about this book. I feel that right from my first attempt at the very first pattern in the book I had fallen in love with sewing, and it certainly has demystified all of the ideas involved that had previously scared me away.

Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking

Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking

If you are new to sewing and want to begin making your own clothes then I cannot reccommend this book highly enough. There are a number of projects that can be made to suit your own style as the garments themselves are quite plain but can be created in a range of fabrics to your own choice.

The instructions are really simple to follow with basic patterns and instructions for the more advanced sewer to in depth tutorials for the beginner. There are pictures to guide you all the way through and the language used is simple enough for anyone to understand but at the same time technical sewing terms are introduced gradually so as to provide you with a basic understanding should you wish to progress to other (less considerate to the beginner) patterns.

So far I have made the first three clothing items out of the book and feel that my sewing skills have improved vastly thanks to the tutorial and I have three perfectly wearable items, something which I would not have expected before beginning!

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myspace styke photo in my upcycled top from old jeans

Alteration Challenge

I feel that I am probably a little bit too excited that the Great British Sewing Bee has returned to our screens. In preparation for tomorrows episode I decided to give it a go myself by taking up last weeks alteration challenge. On the show the contestants were each given a denim shirt and asked to create something new out of it.

Well, I didn’t have an old denim shirt lying around but what I did have was an old pair of skinny jeans

old skinny jeans

So those would have to do.

Now all I needed to do was decide what I was going to turn them into, after a while searching pinterest and none of the hundreds of upcycling projects appealing to me I decided to come up with my own plan. I found a top of mine that has a nice shape to it and decided to use that as a pattern template.

Now it was time to begin…and in true GBSB style – start the clock! Oh yes, I was taking this seriously if they have to do it under pressure in the sewing room then so do I!

First step was to cut down the inside leg seam and along the crotch of the jeans to give me the biggest flat pieces of fabric available to work with.

Jeans cut along inside leg and crotch seams

Then I took my top and laid it out on top of the fabric and marked out where the seams needed to be for the front and back pieces. I cut these out leaving a good 3/4 inch seam allowance all round. The fabric wasnt quite long enough to have the front and back pieces as long as the original top – but so what! Crop tops are cool…right?

Use a top as a pattern template
Next I cut off the waistband

So now I had the front and back pieces for my top, I had to decide what to do about sleeves. I decided to use the remaining part of the jean legs. Only problem was they were a bit too narrow. However, in some beautiful coincidence it turns out that they were too narrow by the width of the jeans waistband so off that came and got attached to the side of the leg!

Attach the jeans waistband to the side of the leg

Now I had all the components of my top it was time to begin construction. First of all I began by pinning and sewing the sleeves onto the front of the top, right sides together and sewing with a 5/8inch seam allowance (although this is smaller than I had allowed for based on the original top I thought it best that the top be roomier than the original considering the denim-style fabric)

Pin the sleeve to the front piece         Front piece of top with sleeves attached

I then folded the sleeves over )along the original seam from the side of the leg) and pinned them to the back piece. I attached them with top stitching to keep the feature of the waist band.
Back of top with sleeves attached

Next task was to sew the front and back of the top together at the side seams. Now its beginning to look like a top!
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It was trying on time and guess what it fit! (kind of). THe sleeves were very baggy which I knew they were going to be given the way they looked compared to the original top so I tapered them at the shoulders and cut them both the the same length
sleeve sew from shoulder to edge to form a taper

I then hemmed the sleeves and neckline as well as the bottom. I decided to keep the cropped look as the way in which the jean leg had tapered gave it a nice loped bottom so it wasn’t to short after all.

finished top made from old jeans

Yes I know its a little wonky and the seams don’t quite match on both sides(I bet Patrick and May would have a field day on this one!)but I did it I turned a pair of old jeans into a wearable(ish) top and all in just 2 and a half hours!

and to prove I did wear it here is a terrible (myspace-style) picture as I had nobody to take it for me!
myspace styke photo in my upcycled top from old jeans

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