2 skirts and a red raglan sweater.

Funny how sometimes when you change jobs, your wardrobe seems to alter a bit – maybe it isn’t that unusual but I was still surprised when I started working in my new job, that I started favouring wearing dresses and skirts more instead of trousers as in my last job. (Although, this is due to change this week as the temperatures have dropped to freezing so I will be in wool trews tomorrow morning for sure).

In November I made 2 new skirts. Both were made from discarded pieces in the Community Sew room discard box.

The Brown tweed skirt was made from a short piece – approx 75cm length It has a black line and some orange and yellow flecks so was fine to wear with a black polo.  I used the reliable vogue pattern – and it pretty much sewed itself. The pattern also uses petersham instead of a waistband so useful when there is little fabric.

 The Black skirt was a half made something and it was all black, it may have been a dress cut in half. It would not be my usual choice of fabric, and it also had some strange laundry instructions (ie do not wash) so I tossed it to the machine before I cut and it seemed to survive.  I recut a basic a-line skirt. I put a seam on the front to the side, so I could embroider some detail, originally it was to have a mock pleat, but in the end I just sewed it as a seam. I was going to embroider a geometric pattern in shades of pink and red but could not find a suitable motif so used this ‘spring’ one.

Both skirts work well with a black sweater, but I often find black a bit severe and thought ‘if I could only find a red sweater to recut….’ and sure enough, same day in the charity shop, I did! I got this ‘vintage’ one. It is a fine knit and was an XL. I had thought there was more wool content but it is 35% wool and 65%  somthing else/orlon (I was shopping without my glasses!)

I drafted a raglan knit block and recut the sweater. I had tried to figure a way to incorporate the neckline, but it did not seem feasible. It sits as a v-neck and was not that flattering. I had originally hoped to put the button placket to the back but it could not sit flat. So in the end, I had to cut it out, and sew a small seam in.

I did a wider slight funnel neck so I can wear a base layer underneath (it is not a warm sweater), and finished the neck and cuffs with a twin needle turn over hem.

I am going to do a scan of the raglan block and put it up with the patterns on craftsy as I am find these remade sweaters so useful, and a very quick sew. As well as which its a style of sweater I find difficult to get in RTW as they tend to be straight up-and-down, where as this one has a small bit of waist definition.

 

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pfaff 91 and quick run up

A few years ago I was teaching sewing and if attendees wished, they could bring in their own sewing machines – which was useful as some had machines they could not use.  Most times its mainly that the machines were family (mother/grandmother) machines and they ended up having them, or the machine was bought with the intention of learning to sew.   One woman had the most gorgeous Pfaff which was over 60 years old.  She was unable to use it, so she brought it along to find out how to use it.  It really was such an advanced machine, and considering its age, it must have been the rolls royce of its day, it had a wonderful sound, and a load of decorative stitches and still managed to look understated.  Anytime I was setting up the machine to show her anything on it, I was loathed to stop sewing on it!

So when I was browsing machines, this caught my eye.  It was not quite like the other pfaff, much simpler, but the look of it was so simple and I thought the simple finish rather appealing and ‘what the hell’ I bought it!  I was also taken by the year of purchase, 1967 – I have a special interest in machines of this time as its my birth year, and subconsciously I am thinking, look how well this machine looks for its age, look how well it works……..The machine had this cute case, like air hostess luggage, and the attachments and original book and receipt.

When it arrived, the plastic pieces had cracked.  – however, as old plastic can be brittle and its only the front plate and button (in the back of my mind I figure it could ultimately be 3d printed and interm fixed with sugru) so I overlooked these as the mechanics were ‘the thing’.  So off to test – and the feed dogs were half frozen – they moved back and forwards, but not up and down.  (I did get a partial refund from seller when I send a video of the feed in action).  I got it serviced (I did look at the mechanism but did not want to mess about with it myself too much) and now its working well.

Its a good machine and the big appeal here was the free arm, as I like the idea of using this one for a lot of sewing.   I have done a few jobs on it and its good.  I am getting used to it, and the only think I am noticing is the feed, while its perfectly fine, its fractionally less than my other machines.  Its a tiny tiny issue, and its really still me getting a feel for the machine, but if I was to compare it the the Elna, the Elna wins re stitch and feed, but then again if I was to compare it to my own Singer Excell that I have had since 1989 they are on a par (the feed of the Excell can be a bit ‘clampy’ whereas the pfaff is a bit light – and Morgan who serviced the machine said he raised the feed dogs slightly so it must have been lighter again).

I really do like the look of this machine (shallow I know), the extension tray is very handy, and although I prefer a top loading bobbin, this one is not fiddly to change so that’s great.  Interestingly it also has a plate that can be turned upside down for darning (ie it covers the feed-dogs)   It doesn’t have a seam guide but I have put some tape there.

One project I did run up on it was this blouse (its a free download).  I had to go to a ‘thing’ last week and it was a bit formal so I wore my grey wool trousers, a yellow cardigan (reworked a few months ago) and figured what would work well with it – would be a white blouse.  I was under a bit of time pressure (needed it the next day) so I figured I would try fabric shop, charity shop, regular shop in that order.  In the fabric shop there was this white fabric and it was perfect (I even bought extra once I found out it was on sale) and ran this one up.  Its a lovely pattern and useful top and I felt rather smug that sewing this took less time than wandering around shops trying stuff on.  The fabric has great weight, but also has a small percentage of spandex which give some softness.

The yellow cardigan was an upcycle I have been messing about with since December and finished last month and worn loads since.  It is a mans knit which I got and used wear (while all the time trying to figure a more flattering cut).  I recut to a round neck cardi with a tie at the neck, and I half lined it – there was the intention to so some beading or embroidery but I as I still seem to favour plain, I left it for the while.  The ties could have been made a bit longer, and I still have fabric, so am wearing as is for the while.  The ties this length are less fussy so I like them this way.  I attached the bands at the front in a slightly clunky way at the neck – as I changed my approach half way.  Its a little off and I think in only a way I would notice, but as its a first time try out with this pattern I am pleased and the main change I would make in the next is to have the back side seams 1cm in.

Clap your hands – say yeah…..

I have a sweater that I wish to embroider, and this is not it!  This DMC motif came up on my facebook feed and I liked it for a sweater, but didn’t want to put it on the other project so thought if I saw a cotton knit in the ‘charity’, I would give it a try as I do little hand embroidery and had never done it on a knit…….

embroidered sweater, before and afterI used the Seamwork Astoria pattern (again) and modified it by lengthening sleeves and body.  This time instead of the crochet edging I hit on the idea of taking the ribbed cuffs and using them as the neckline – and yipee – it worked!  I also whipped it up in no time as I used the sewing room overlocker (I recently started volunteering in a community sewing room – its still in a development phase as only open a few hours here and there but will be interesting to see how it works out).  I still don’t believe I need an overlocker but am definitely finding them super handy for knits.

cutting-out-yeah-sweater

Figuring on transferring the design was a bit of a conundrum, and putting it in a hoop was a disaster.  I enlarged and traced the design on tissue and wanted to see if I could sew through it (of course I could but it kept ripping).  So in the end, I backed the jersey with knit vilene, and used the temporary fabric glue to apply the tissue design and it worked a treat.  (I got this fabric glue to help me machine embroider velvet so its great to find another use for it).  I put a board in the middle so I didn’t pick up fabric from the far side of the sweater.

sewingI did a basic chain stitch, and did Yeah in a paler shade.  I deliberately did not buy new thread as I wanted to use up what I had, but I think I should have done Yeah in more of a contrasting colour.  Some of the red floss, was a 8 strand that I was given with random left over craft bits, and although I got to use it up (I did 2 strands) it was very knotty so glad to see the end of it!

yeah-embroidered-sweaterI forgot how pleasant hand stitching is.  I am hoping the next sweater works well, its a wool knit, and so far the stitches seem to be drowning in it!

 

 

 

 

 

toasty sweaters and plaid skirt

 

I have been sewing quite a bit lately, and as I am easier sewing than writing about it,  I am only getting around to this post now…..(I never liked writing in school – I can touch type, but the minute I start I seem to forget what I meant to say.) Conversely,  this blog has been brilliant for me to have a focus my sewing projects – so I have grouped the last few completed sews!

As usual, my great sewing plan is shifting, which is usual, as sometimes when I take apart items there is less fabric than anticipated (ie what worked out perfectly on paper is compromised in reality).

The first for remake was this fine wool dress.  This dress was on the clearance rail in the charity shop (still can never believe what ends up on this rail).  The dress would have worked perfectly if it was either 1983, or I still had a 23″ waist, and as neither was true, I thought to try out the SewHouse7 Toaster Sweater.  The only cut issue was the sleeves, but I figured I could cut them and sew with minimum seam allowance so I trimed half the seam allowance from the armholes of the arm-scythes also, and I would also have to leave the plackets in place on the sleeves until the end.

purple-toast - sweater upcycle

I don’t know if this is the same for everyone, but sometimes I will sew like its a race to finish…..and not try on till the end (how bright is that) so all was well until I tried it on pre-hemming, and noticed that a sleeve was in backwards….. the placket was the wrong way, but I also noticed the funnel didn’t sit up at all as the knit was so fine, and it was inclined to stretch across, so I decided to pop some iron-on vilene to the neckline facings.  The sleeves are very long so I just hemmed them and put a button to stitch a ‘closure’.  The hems are a herring bone stitch, I tried a few and this one seemed to look best on the fabric.

I was curious how it would look on a heavier fabric, and had been dithering over the re-make of this bobble wool cardigan. It was a cardigan coat which was donated to the charity shop without its collar (poppers for it still in place) and had been much used so it was a bit pilled, a bit pulled and had a few holes.  It is 75% wool and the fabric was still in mainly good shape, despite dragged buttonholes!

bobble-toastOriginally it was to be a simple sleeved a-line shift with patch pockets based on a tunic pattern from 2 years ago, but I wasn’t happy with the way how it would  cut out and patched together.  Luckily I left it fro a day or two as I decided to try the toast pattern again.  Realistically I don’t need this many sweaters, so I was also deciding on who to try and give them to (still working on this) but I also really like these sweaters.  I was well glad I didn’t do the tunic as there would have been too many seams and the bobbles in the fabric shift a bit while sewing.  Toast#2 worked out well with the heavy fabric, both sweaters are lovely and incredibly quick to run up.

And there is fabric left over from both! I am thinking of a tablet sleeve from the bobble leftovers.

I had also ‘pulled’ out the embroidery arm of the machine as I have to do some Irish dance costume tests, so I started messing about with motifs and what else it does.. (and then got even more way-laid by embroidering tea-towels – housewarming gift to a wine sommelier! I have put the photos below).

embroidered tea towels.............

The scallop skirt I made last year I love, but the grey feels a bit severe and ‘work-y’ so I gave it to my sister (so far a hit).  I had this plaid scrap.  Its a funny plaid, originally I thought it was from an old school uniform, but the wool is such a fine quality, I now don’t think so.  It was from a bundle of wool scrap in the charity shop and ther was less than a metre with two chunks missing.  I patched it back together and cut the pattern out.  I did embroidery on the skirt but I really wasn’t sure of what I wanted or what way it would turn out, but I also knew thinking about it would not achieve much either.  Its done now and not what I wanted.  Originally I was going to pattern the motif but changed to a more concentrated motif.  I shoulda / coulda done a more grid or linear one, and think I would have preferred that, but am quite happy with this.  I love the simple shape of the skirt.  Such an effective pattern.

 

plaid-scallop-skirt

 

and finally – I got a new shears! (yipeeeee) The small Janome set I have are still good despite the taped handle, and not retired just yet.   I have been trying to buy a proper shears for some years but never found one I liked that cut right and felt right.  When I saw Ernest and Wright were to be at the Knit and Stitch this year, I hi-tailed it up and bought this…. and 2 other smaller fancy ones (I could have bought everything!).  I had dithered between the 12 and 10inch but as my cutting table is small (160cmx90cm) and my cuts are small (ie, not long lays of fabric) so I would be lifting the scissors more, I settled on the 10inch (which is realistically a better weight for me).  Its gorgeous and incredibly comfortable and love using it.  My brother in law saw it later that day, and called it a ‘colt 45’….. (I was feeling very smug indeed).

Claires Scissors and the Colt 45

 

 

 

 

 

Another Slouch Sweater – Maroon Merino

I hadn’t intended on making another sweater, but the longer the winter goes on, the more sweaters I need, and also this sweater pattern I adapted is perfect for me.  It sews up quickly, and layers well.

I got this sweater a few weeks ago, and only for the label ‘100% fine merino’ I would have left it there!  As it already had a good ribbed polo, I decided to work with what I had rather than take it apart fully.  I cut off the sleeves and cut the sleeves keeping the original seam in the sleeve rather than lose 1cm by resewing.  I cut up the side seams.  Before I cut, I double checked where the centre shoulder was by trying it on over my head, and this corresponded with how it folded when lain flat.

 

I cut around, and sewed the side seams to underarm and inset the sleeve, and I added a pleat to the ‘cuff’.  All of the cut and the sew to this point took less than 30 minutes!  I tacked sleeve hems and sweater hems and pressed them, and finished by using the twin needle.

 

 

Love how it turned out.  Have yet to wear it layered with the floral blouse but know they will make a good match!

I have a few other makes half done, and in between I moved the site to wordpress (so the half makes are still half-made).  Really glad I did as I never got a proper working template with blogger.  My bloglovin profile was updated too, but I was unable to transfer the subscribers from feed-burner.  I don’t know how well the subscriber form works on WordPress yet, as one email worked on it but another didn’t….so if anyone cannot subscribe and would prefer email, just let me know!

 

 

 

pullover to baselayer – raglan sleeve polo

I have this pullover/sweater/jumper in the to-do bag for a bit.  I had deliberated over a sweater dress, using the scarf to make an extension to the length, or Alabama Chainin inspired shrug/bolero (from scarf) and long skirt (from jumper)  As I haven’t really worn the Alabama Chanin makes from earlier in the year it didn’t seem like a practical solution, but what  I really need another base-layer with a funnel or polo neck to wear under dresses.  

The pullover was a funny shape and size, a bit dated and a bit big, and has a scarf attachment. The fabric is a 60% viscose 20% polyester-something and 20% wool so a nice mix of light and warm and perfect for a base-layer..  I get so cold and a base-layer with a polo,  will work under dresses, and over another baselayer (yup, I get that cold), as well as everything else!

upcycle sweater, refashion sweater, sweater remade


The funnel neck pattern I used in September would have been so perfect – except this brown pullover already had raglan sleeves, and I am finding with these remake projects, its better to work with what you have (sounds so obvious but I often forget the properties of the  fabric I am working on – and try to make it fit with the vision in my head).  I had to draft a proper jersey block as I have been using very old and badly drafted bits of paper for the last while.  I then made a raglan block,  and decided it may be best to do a raglan round neck and put a roll collar afterward (I had toyed with the idea of continuing up the seam to make it a funnel neck… )

Below is an Alabama Chanin sweater I made in February.  Its incredibly warm, but also the fit is not great.  I intended to try the idea again but try a boat  or scoop neck raglan sleeve as the round neck is a bit restrictive, the upcycle sweater is a thin wool, with cotton jersey under.  This was the first Chanin inspired piece I tried, and at the time I was gung-ho on making a dress…. until I did some stitch detail on a stenciled skirt – 2nd Chanin piece –  and realised my patience and endurance may not stretch to a dress just yet. 

upcycle sweater, refashion sweater, sweater remade