I’m playing slight catch up with these blog posts as I have recently been back at work, and as you might have seen on my instagram, we have a newbie in the household. His name is Grady, and he is the grand old age of 17 weeks (maybe now 18) adopted from Cats Protection in Derby. We have had cats together now since 2015, adopting our first oddball pair Alfie and Mabel from them and going through a lot of heartache with Mabel. Having lost her in June 2019, we then adopted Raspberry (aka Picks, Pixel, anything but Raspberry!) to join Alfie. We sadly lost Alfie in Lockdown this year and we had said we would leave Picks on her own. That was until we watched the Paul O’Grady ‘For the Love of Dogs’ programme which showed not only the dogs but some of the cats and kittens in Battersea and at that point somehow we decided it was time for another (hence the recent adoption of the aptly named Grady!)
Sad to say the sewing has had to take a bit of a back seat while I readjust to some sort of normality, and also having a kitten in the house who Picks has just met and is grumbling a lot. I’ve decided to come and keep Grady company in the office to write this one and catch up on some life admin.
This blog will cover my favourite new co-ord set that I made in July (yes Mark, co-ord sets ARE fashionable!) with some of the fabric I bought at the pop up shop that I visited back in June. This fabric I concluded with my mum we think was a pure Polyester, and comparing to some other clothes I had seemed to fit the bill. It has a lovely sheer appearance but is not see-through and whilst it feels fine to handle, does not seem to fray easily and is as tough as old boots! A good fabric to choose for continuing to expand my experience!
My first project with it was a skirt using the New Look Easy Skirt Pattern 6437 that I’d been dying to try with a Cotton Poplin fabric. With it being quite hot I decided that I would give the nice floaty polyester a bash, and I could really visualise this fabric in this skirt style. When you know, you know!
With it being quite a slippery fabric, I had attempted to start sewing it with the walking machine foot, and I opted for a smaller sharps needle in a size 10. I did a few practice stitches and all seemed well and so I got to work with the sewing. It seemed to go OK for a while. I managed to get the side pockets in and stitched correctly this time – the New Look instructions are a lot clearer than the McCalls ones for describing fabric sides (although this fabric was not so easy to determine a right and a wrong side so I found pinning labels on to start with was helpful). I had to sew some gathering stitches and this seemed to be ok, but then when I had gathered the top of the skirt, and tried to stitch it with a gather was when I started to encounter some issues.
At this point, from the brief experience I have, I switched out both the walking foot for the standard one, and tried switching up the needle type. I tried with a smaller universal one, and again found this OK for a little while but then still ended up with some more issues. Turning to the manual, I found that I had a 11/75 blue tip needle in with my machine set, and I gave this a try. This seemed to be a lot better (although some occasional skipping but I think some of that was the way I was handling the fabric!)
The biggest issue I had with this pattern was the sizing. According to the measurements, I was one size, but then the actual made garment measurements were a lot different, so I stuck with my usual sizing. The challenge with this was that the skirt does not have any fastenings and is half elasticated in the back of the waistband, but the front is not. I had to play around with the amount of elastic to use in the back, but then found that I had the perfect amount. I had to do some hand stitching to finish encasing the elastic in the waistband and sewing the back and the front of the band together at the sides. I had some issues with this where I had to do a lot of unpicking because of having to adjust the waistband sizing, but as this material is so hard wearing it wasn’t noticeable (and quite therapeutic for me to be able to rip threads out in frustration.) The result with the strange sizing is that it fits beautifully but I have to put it on over my head due to the standard derriere issue!
I really love how the skirt turned out in the end. The fabric didn’t press very easily so for the finishing touches such as the hem, I was having to press with a lot of steam and pin a lot, but I think overall it wasn’t too frustrating a project, despite the initial needle troubles. Plus it had pockets, and I think we all know that any skirt or dress with pockets is a dream! I had finished it in about 3/4 of a day, and then decided that it desperately needed a co-ord top with the fabric that I had left.
For the top pattern, I went back to my trusty New Look 6434 Top Pattern that featured in my Improv Pyjama top blog. This is the one with the top back fastening and the one I avoided sleeves on the last time. This time however, having now handled sleeves on the Pineapple T-Shirt, I cut the sleeves pattern out and decided that this top would need them. I also after the last one wasn’t keen on the 2 part back with the button fastening, so I opted this time to cut the back on the fold of the fabric as I did with the front so that I had 2 solid pieces.
With the front and the back stitched together, I had to do some improvising with the binding on the neckline, but I roughly measured using a tape measure, cut slightly more from my fabric, and then worked to reduce it down to fit. Remembering this time how to finish my binding correctly, I was taking it down in the middle of the back of the top, and pinning heavily due to the nature of the fabric. I think out of all of it, I am actually probably most proud of the binding (bar some slightly wobbly stitching as per usual.)
The sleeves were OK to sew, again because I had a bit of experience now with easing them in and gathering from the skirt. One side I think looks better than the other because I realised that it was better and easier to stitch on the right side once I had sewn my basting stitches on the wrong side, but I have come to accept that this is to be expected as I continue to learn new skills and techniques! Overall, the finish of the top is really nice, and I think I prefer it without the back fastening on this material, but I think it will depend on the material I am using as to which technique I use when I make it again. The sleeves I found are a little tight around the tops of my arms (a sign that I might need to start doing a bit less eating and a bit more exercise) but again like the skirt when it is on it feels lovely, and taking it off is like a workout in itself!
With the scraps of fabric that I had left, and the odd bits of elastic from my ambitious waist measurements, I was messing around with some headband patterns. I am going to make some scrunchies I think too when I have a bit more time to come back to it, but overall, I feel like my skills and techniques are improving, and that the finish of this set is really lovely. I’m rating it a 6/6.5 (maybe even a 7) out of 10!
My next project is revisiting my fear of knit fabrics. Wish me luck!