30 October 2010

Sewaholic tutorial: Drafting a jacket lining

You guys really are the best. When I asked for any pointers in how to go about lining The Betty Draper Suit with no lining pattern and no experience in sewing a lining, Tasia of Sewaholic left a very helpful comment, which led to an email exchange, and before you know it, she'd agreed to write a guest post tutorial on drafting a lining pattern to share her instructions with my readers!  And what an inspired tutorial it is, using little pixie versions of the pattern pieces, simplified diagrams which make it easy to see understand. Over to Tasia...

Tilly's pretty little Betty Draper-inspired pattern is going to be gorgeous! The only thing stopping her from whipping it up is the lining - there aren't any pattern pieces!

Yes, she could just cut the exact body pieces out of the lining and it would work, sort of. She could skip the facings and sew the lining right to the jacket front edge. But if she did, it won't fit properly around the armhole, and it won't be properly reinforced along centre front for the buttons and buttonholes.

Never fear! It's easy to make lining pieces out of her jacket pattern pieces. I'll show you how!

First, carefully cut out the jacket pattern pieces. Since Tilly's jacket has darts not princess seams, that's what I will show in this tutorial. Don't worry if your jacket pattern has princess seams or other design lines! I'll explain what to do.

Here are Tilly's jacket pattern pieces. She sent me a photo and I traced off mini-versions of her pattern for this demo:
D - Jacket Front
E - Jacket Back
G - Front Facing
H - Back Neck Facing
K - Sleeve
She also has "F - Collar" but we don't need it for the lining pattern. We'll need the rest, though!

Let's start with the Jacket Front. Trace off the pattern piece. In my demo, I've traced around the pattern piece because it's tiny, but in real life you could either trace around your pattern piece, or use tracing paper or lightweight white paper to trace over your pattern piece.

Take the facing pattern piece, and line it up along centre front, matching the neckline edges. Mark the facing seamline on your traced jacket front.

The line you've just traced from the facing is going to be the seamline that joins your facing to the lining. To add seam allowance, you'll need to actually add TWO seam allowances to the lining pattern piece - for a total of 1 1/4" added to the lining front piece. I've also marked the jacket hemline on the lining piece. I eyeballed where the hemline should be, but Tilly will mark the real hemline amount when she makes her own lining pieces. Much more accurate than mine!

Now, add 1/2" to the hemline. This allows for a pleat at the hem of the lining. Or if Tilly prefers to leave the lining hanging free, it will make sure it's shorter than the finished jacket so it doesn't hang below the hem!

We'll also add extra to the armhole. Why? Well, have you ever added lining to a jacket and NOT added extra around the armhole? You'll find that the sleeve hem will pull up and pucker all the way up the sleeve seam, and it won't sit comfortably. Adding the extra allows the lining room to go up and over the armhole seam without pulling and straining. It's hard to explain what not to do - so let's add the extra room for Tilly's comfort!

Add 1/4" out from the sideseam, and 5/8" up from the armhole point.

Here's the finished lining pattern below - I've traced it in RED so it's easier to see. Tilly can cut hers out and toss the extra edges.

Next, let's make the lining for the Jacket Back. It's basically the same method as the front, the only difference is adding a pleat to the centre back. We add this pleat for wearing ease and comfort - and also so the lining doesn't rip when Tilly lifts her arms or hugs someone!

Trace off the back in the same manner as the front. Lay the back neck facing on the back and trace off facing line. Add two seam allowances to the facing line for a total of 1 1/4" again. Add the 1/2" to the hemline, and the same allowances around the armhole.

Lastly, add the centre back pleat. We added 1" to the centre back, which will actually work out to 2" on the fold. (Make sense? Just don't forget to cut this piece on the fold!)

Here's Tilly's finished back lining pattern piece, outlined in RED:

Lastly, it's time for the sleeve. Easy! Just add the 1/2" below the hemline, and add the armhole allowances the same way we did on the front and back lining pieces.

Here's the finished sleeve lining piece in RED:

So here they are! Below is a photo showing all three lining pattern pieces, outlined in RED below. Tilly can now follow this easy tutorial to make her own lining pieces, she'll be rocking that cute little suit in no time!

So what happens if you have princess seams to deal with? No problem! Before starting on the steps above, tape the jacket pieces together along the seamlines, overlapping the seam allowances. This way you have one jacket front piece and one jacket back piece to work with. 

Thanks, Tasia! If you don't already read Tasia's blog, this is definitely one to add to your blog role. She's a super talented, gorgeous lady with a colourful style and an impressive blog. And she's currently setting up her own sewing pattern company to boot!

28 October 2010

Sloooowww progress

Sorry I've been relatively quiet recently, I've had a particularly busy few days with house guests, the London Film Festival and, of course, Crafty Christmas Club! CCC now has more than 30 members and has quickly taken on a life of its own, which is ace! Making Christmas prezzies seems much less daunting now I have a support group.

The Betty Draper suit is progressing veeerrrry slooooowwwwly - in fact I haven't done any work on it for a good couple of weeks - but I'm setting aside some dedicated sewing time this weekend. More importantly, I have a brilliant guest post coming up which will be exactly the kick up the backside I need to progress the next stage... Can't wait!

[Soundtrack: 'I'll Try Anything Once' by Julian Casablancas]

22 October 2010

Join Crafty Christmas Club!

Enough of you sounded interested in the idea of a group blog about making Christmas prezzies, so I've set up Crafty Christmas Club - wooooo!

As I explain in the opening post, it's a hub to discuss your Christmas crafty plans with likeminded people, gain inspiration from other craftsters, share tips and tutorials, and perhaps - most importantly - show off your finished goodies without spoiling the surprise to friends and family who may be reading your own blog.

Which reminds me, if you usually get a Christmas gift from me, do not look at Crafty Christmas Club!

Sewing, knitting, paper crafts, crafty food gifts, and lots of other craftiness all welcome.

If you'd like to join the group, email me on craftychristmasclub [at] gmail [dot] com and I'll set you up as a contributor. If you've already got a blog of your own, send me the link in that email and I'll add you to the contributors list. I've created a button that you can add to your blog, whether you're a contributor, follower or just a lurker - code below. Ooh and don't forget to follow the blog so you can see what's going on!

It'd be great if we could get this going. Please help me spread the good tidings!

Ray Stitch organic fabric giveaway - And the winner is...

Thanks to everyone who entered the organic fabric giveaway. Rachel from Ray Stitch was overwhelmed by how helpful your feedback has been. She says:

"This feedback is absolutely fantastic! Thank you, it is so valuable to hear from users of the site. Thanks especially for the compliments (because I’m loving them!) and I’m extremely grateful for time spent in scrutiny of the site. I'll definitely be acting on all the very constructive criticism - my to do list: bigger and clearer text, more detailed descriptions, a bigger range of knitted fabrics, stop calling all yarn 'wool', more draping fabric shots, a much-improved 'about us' page, a more interactive and communicative news page...
The comments relating to the organic fabric debate are very encouraging. It’s hugely important that we act responsibly in our fabric/yarn purchases as in all other aspects of modern life and it’s heartwarming to realise that we are all learning and questioning and making demands together. Lets keep up the momentum. Hope to see you over at the ‘new improved’ Ray Stitch very soon! xx"

And the winner is... Sewing Princess! Wooooooo! Congratulations! Hope you make something lovely.

True Random Number Generator  42Powered by RANDOM.ORG

If this hasn't been enough excitement for you already, I've got a couple of exciting posts lined up for the next week or so... Have a good weekend, y'all!

18 October 2010

Stash Amnesty! featuring Rachel Boo Dogg

It's interview time again, and this month I talk to the effortlessly stylish Rachel of Boo Dogg and Me from Melbourne, Australia. I'm constantly in awe of Rachel's sewing productivity - for every project I finish, this lady produces ten, and they're are consistently chic! So let's hear from Rachel about her sewing stash...

What's your sewing area like?

Rachel: "My sewing area is one half of my study. I have a large table as the sewing table that I only keep my machine and my threads on. Next to that I have my sewing chest that houses my stash in one drawer, various notions in the next drawer, and all my patterns in the top drawer. On top sits my sewing books, my little sewing basket with rulers and other various items, a box with all my scissors and necessities (i.e., unpicker) in it and three boxes that have zippers, trims, and buttons. I got the sewing chest at Ikea – it was only $100 and it really does keep my sewing table much more ‘use-able’ as there is not a great big hodge-podge of everything on the table like before! I used to have a poky little hole in the corner of the kitchen, and move my machine onto the dining room table, so my new space is much improved and much loved!"

You're one of the most productive stitchers on the blogosphere! How do you fit so much sewing around your job and life? Tell us your secret!

Rachel: "At the moment I don’t feel very productive at all! I’ve really hit a brick wall. Usually though, I think there are a few things that work in my favour: I don’t have children; my hubby also works Saturdays at the moment, so this leaves me with a fair bit of spare time to sew if I wish; I don’t really own very many clothing items that I’ve bought - as my sewing skills have improved over the last year I’ve really wanted to update and improve my hand-sewn wardrobe, so I’ve been working like a maniac to do that; until this time, I haven’t chosen projects that have been overly difficult (with a few exceptions) - my plan over the next few months is to sew something more difficult than I’ve sewn before and really challenges myself - I think this will slow me down; I really, really love sewing (most of the time) - it is my number one hobby." 

Talk us through some of your favourite items in your sewing stash...

Rachel: "I don’t have a huge fabric stash. My favourite stashed fabric at the moment though is 4m of checked Japanese cotton that I bought with some birthday money. It is soooo soft and so pretty. I’m planning on making a 60’s dress out of it (think the dresses in Rosemary’s Baby).

I went through a massive stage of buying vintage patterns, soon after I discovered the wonders of etsy. Some of my favourites are: Simplicity 2838 from the 1940s; Advance 5180 from the 1940s; Advance 3929 from 1949; Simplicity 4758 from the 1940s.

I do hoard buttons. I love buttons, but don’t really sew a lot of items that require them. My favourites (there are so many!) include: Gorgeous white flower buttons from the 1950s; lovely green ones from the 1940s; blue and white ones from the 1940s.

Do you tend to hoard or use things up quickly? What pattern or fabric has been sitting untouched in your stash the longest?

Rachel: "I don’t really have a huge stash. It really is just the bottom drawer in my sewing chest. My hubby used to chide me for stashing until I showed him pictures of other seamstress’ and bloggers’ stashes, and then he realized that I really had no stash at all!

I generally buy fabric for a purpose and use it pretty quickly. I do hoard buttons though, and really love them. I think they’re so pretty, and will see ones I love (most often on etsy or in second-hand or antique shops) and buy them thinking 'I’ll make a great shirt-dress (or something similar) with them'… and then they just sit in my button box because I haven’t found the perfect fabric for them!

The pattern sitting in my stash for the longest is the infamous vintage repro Butterick 'Walk Away' dress. It was the first pattern I bought, as I wanted to make something vintage and it was rated 'easy'. Then I looked on Pattern Review and read a huge number of bad reviews and never made it. I don’t think I actually ever will."

How did you learn to sew?

Rachel: "I did do Grade 8 Home Economics where I learnt really basic straight stitching. We made a cushion cover with a felt animal stitched on. Mine was a green cushion with a frog. 

I didn’t sew after the froggy cushion until around 2.5 years ago when I became interested in vintage fashion. I was doing my PhD at the time, and was in an office with a lovely friend of mine, Maree (Maree P on Pattern Review), who always wore very cool clothing. I discovered she sewed these garments, and made vintage frocks for her daughter.

In what was very fortuitous timing, I was living with another lovely friend who owned a sewing machine. One very hot evening, we cut out a simple A-line skirt, and my friend taught me to stitch it together. I sewed in the zip without her there, and it was truly awful. I didn’t know there was a zipper foot.

From there, I took every opportunity to bug Maree with sewing talk. Her wonderful advice and wisdom, amazing online tutorials, and very generous bloggers detailing their sewing adventures taught me how to sew. I bought my own machine, and have never looked back."

What sewing projects have you got planned for the future?

Rachel: "I have a few things floating around in my mind: a fitted jacket; the sixties Rosemary’s Baby dress; a wrap around dress made in cool cotton; a beach cover-up (I have a holiday at the beach coming up); a pair of shorts. I have no real order for these, but I’d like to do them!"


Thank you, Rachel, and keep up the good work! Readers, if you're willing to come clean about your sewing stash and would like to feature in a future Stash Amnesty post, get in touch! (Previous Stash Amnesty interviews here and here.)

15 October 2010

Crafty Christmas... and a meet up

Are you planning on making any Christmas presents this year? If so, I have a proposition for you!

I was pondering how the infinite archive that is the internet can get a little unwieldy and difficult to navigate at times, and that it'd be good to have one site to go to find inspiration for crafted gifts. The other thing I was thinking is that I shouldn't report Christmas crafting on my blog in case the recipients happen to be reading.

So... I thought about starting up a new group platform - maybe a Flickr group or a group blog - for Christmas craftiness, where we could discuss our plans, share ideas, maybe even write tutorials, and post up pictures of the finished goodies without any danger that our loved ones are going to see them. It would be for sewing projects but also for knitting, cards, decorations, crafty food gifts... etc.

Would anyone be interested in joining this group? If we can get a critical mass together, I'll set something up.  (NB. When I say "Christmas" it's shorthand for the whole festive season, so call it Hannukah, Yuletide or whatever you like!) 

In other news, Karen (Did You Make That?) is organising a London meet up at a mulled-wine-sachet-making-workshop (oh yes!) on 1st December. Come! Let Karen know on her blog if you're interested. Karen is one of my favourite bloggers - I'm always excited when I see one of her posts in my blog roll, as they never fail to make me laugh. And I was lucky enough to meet her in person in the Summer so I can attest that she's great, and look forward to seeing her again...

[Soundtrack: 'All I Could Do Is Cry' by Etta James - not that I've got anything to cry about, I just like the song]

13 October 2010

Musings on ethical fabric... and a giveaway!

A few weeks ago I wrote a post lamenting the shortage of - and shortage of information about - ethically produced fabrics. The post prompted Rachel at Ray Stitch - a dreamy haberdashery website that I've mentioned a few times - to get in touch with some thoughts of her own. It was fascinating to hear the point of view of a wholesale buyer who wishes that more organic fabrics were produced in the UK and that there was more awareness of the conditions under which these fabrics are produced.

Rachel very kindly sent me some lovely organic handloom cotton, with which I plan to make another version of the Ceylon dress with red contrast buttons. Plus - more interesting for you lot - she also generously offered some fabric up to give away - 2 metres of any of the gorgeous Cloud 9 or Birch Fabrics organic cotton prints that Ray Stitch stocks! A few images below to whet your appetite. More on the giveaway in a minute, but first, I asked Rachel to share her thoughts on the organic textile industry from her point of view. Over to Rachel:

"Unlike organic food, the popularity of organic textiles has been slow to evolve and has only fairly recently been supported by the fashion industry. This is possibly because the consumption of non-organic textiles is unlikely to damage our health directly and there is actually no discernable difference between, for instance, organic and non-organic cotton. The differences in the environmental impact of its production however are huge. Non-organic cotton production uses more chemicals per unit area than any other crop - only 2% of the world’s cultivated land is planted with cotton but 20% of chemical pesticides and 22% of all insecticides used globally are sprayed on cotton crops. These nasty chemicals have a dangerous effect on the health of those working in the industry and the levels of pollution they create have obvious serious implications for the bio-diversity of the local and global environment.

Cloud 9 - Beyond The Sea

"The benefits of using organic cotton are clear and - hooray! - its production is growing fast. Apparently organic cotton production is one of the few industries that has thus far been resilient to the global recession. Organic farmers are getting heavy subsidies from governments and continually finding clever new methods of production – it seems that using chilli, garlic, soap and black ants are now the ‘nice’ way of deterring pests. More major brands like H+M, Nike, Levis’s and Marks and Spencers (the first major UK clothing retailer to catch on) are using organic textiles for their garments.

Cloud 9 - My Happy Garden

"It’s great news that the big brands are going organic but, to echo a point that Tilly made in her earlier post, without any other information about the clothes being readily available, how do we know the garments are produced ethically? We don’t, and anyway as Tilly says, what we should be doing to reduce our own personal impact on the planet is limiting the amount of new clothing we buy - or using organic fabrics to make our own clothes. There is the small issue of the air/sea miles our worthy cotton will have covered by the time it gets to us but until cotton farms start springing up in the UK, there’s not much we can do about that.

Birch Fabrics - Organic Prints

"The big global organic cotton producers are India, China and Turkey - all the organic plain fabrics we sell at Ray Stitch are supplied by a brilliant UK importer and supporter of small Indian Fairtrade cotton producers. Printed fabrics are more difficult to find. There are several US designers (Cloud 9, Harmony Art, Birch Fabrics…) who print their lovely designs on organic cotton but it would be very nice to find more UK-based designers who produce in large quantities. Know any?

Cloud 9 - My Happy Garden

"Generally though, it looks good for organic and sustainable textiles, more people are starting to care and, as demand grows, prices will inevitably go down. Look out for bamboo, hemp, recycled polyester and even fabric made from pineapples as technology enables clean, new production methods and presents us with more exciting new fabrics to make lovely dresses with!"

Birch Fabrics - Organic Prints

I'm looking forward to being able to make a dress out of pineapple fabric... but in the meantime, on to the giveaway! A reminder of the prize - 2 metres of one of the organic printed cottons by Cloud 9 or Birch Fabrics. Ray Stitch would like some feedback on their website, so:
- To enter the giveaway please take a look at the website, and leave a comment here saying what you like about it or suggestions for improving it
- The deadline is Thursday 21st October, 23:00 GMT
- The winner will be picked at random
- The giveaway is open worldwide
- Don't forget to leave some way for me to contact you if your email isn't on your blogger profile.  
Good luck!

It'd also be great to hear your thoughts on ethically produced fabric. Do you think there is enough information freely available on ethical textiles? Would you buy more organic fabrics if you could? Do you know any other organic textile designers? I look forward to reading your thoughts!

11 October 2010

Auntie Tilly appliqués baby-grows

Unto me a niece is born! To greet the arrival of my brother and sister-in-law's second child, rather than spending days making a complicated outfit that would inevitably only get worn for family visits and would be splurged with puke within two minutes of the baby putting it on, I thought I'd buy some soft and practical baby-grows and make them look pretty.

I've been looking forward to playing with appliqué since Zoe shared her baby clothes video tutorials. I love watching these videos, just like I love watching people do their make up on the tube - Zoe's handiwork is so calm and neat, unlike my slapdash efforts! Check out the state of my kitchen when I'd finished:

The only problem I had was that, as I was appliquéing a baby-grow rather than a bib like in the tutorial, I couldn't follow the tutorial's instructions of interlining the back of the garment to prevent the fabric from puckering, as it would rub against the baby's skin. So I applied the interlining to the fabric shape instead, but that meant I couldn't apply bond-a-web to stick the shape to the baby-grow, so it was moving around while I was trying to sew it. You follow? If you've kept up with those two meandering sentences and have any tips on how to get round this problem, do share! I googled a few different tutorials but got confused between all the brand names for interlining and Bond-a-web, UnderWonder, StickyWicky...

Anyway, I got to see my niece this weekend and she's adorable. My sister-in-law was chuffed with the baby-grows - she said she'd seen similar ones in a boutique but for a million pounds, which was nice of her to say! At that point I pulled the baby-grows away so she couldn't examine the stitching...

[Soundtrack: 'Hotel Yorba' by The White Stripes]

9 October 2010

La Ville Inconnue interviews moi!

Check out the little interview I did over at La Ville inconnue. Carys and Amelia write one of my absolute favourite blogs - they're creative, stylish, witty, beautiful... and a little bit crackers... 

In other news, I was planning to cut out the fabric for The Betty Draper suit today but then I went and spilt my tea on it, so it's back in the wash. Maybe tomorrow...

[Soundtrack: 'To the End' by Blur - for the L'Année dernière à Marienbad homage video, bien sûr]

8 October 2010

After the war: My family home movies, 1949

The final part of my family's home movie reel suddenly jumps from 1933 to 1949 (the 1933 ones are here and here if you missed them). It was filmed in Bournemouth, a seaside town on the South coast of England, where my Nana lived - her cousins, who owned the camera, were visiting from Cardiff.

The ebullient girl on the far left is my great auntie Joan (the baby from the 1933 films), the young lady with braids piled on her head is great auntie Thelma, next to her is their mother Esther, and I don't know who the lady with the victory rolls is. The cheery chap is great uncle Dave, and the old dear in black who brushes her hair back for the camera is - we think - my great-great grandmother.

Now, watch again closely 35 seconds in when the four ladies come galloping down the steps - it was only on the third viewing that my mum recognised the four people behind them, who are glimpsed only for a couple of seconds, as my Nana Eileen, Papa Harry - my grandfather who died when I was little - and my great-grandparents (Nana's parents) Sid and Katie. Here are some screen grabs in case you missed it:

This was before Nana and Papa were married - you can tell that Papa is sucking up to the future in-laws! I love the slacks that my Nana is wearing - she looks so stylish!

And finally, a couple of charming short clips at the beach hut. Thelma in her swimsuit - look at that tiny waist! - and my (disapproving?) great-great-grandmother looking on.

"Want a sweetie?"

I'm so happy to have discovered that these films exist - thank you for indulging me!

4 October 2010

Getting started on The Betty Draper Suit

Thanks for all your suggestions for fabrics for this suit. I ordered a few swatches, including a wool crepe which I very nearly bought. However, this weekend I practised sewing scallops on both the wool crepe swatch and a leftover scrap of gabardine from another project. Contrary to my expectations, the gabardine consented, turning out beautifully crisp and defined scallops, while the wool crepe went rogue! Something to do with the way of the weft or the woof (the what?) perhaps (no, I don't know what I'm talking about), but it did not like small curved stitching or being manipulated into curves with seams inside.

Bad wool crepe scallop! Good gabardine scallop!

More importantly, I find the texture of wool crepe a bit creepy. When the swatch first arrived I think I convinced myself I liked it because I wanted to branch out into unknown fabric territory to expand my repertoire, but to be honest I have to admit that I just don't really like it that much. Plus it's dry clean only - which is only worth the cost and the effort for a fabric you really love!. So today I went and bought some red wine-coloured gabardine (a nice beaujolais, if you will). A wearable muslin - potentially the real thing if it turns out nicely, but if I'm not satisfied I'll give some kind of wool another go. I've got enough new techniques to learn in the meantime, including scalloping, lining, bound buttonholes, and I might even try making some little shoulder pads...

While I was thinking about all this, I traced the fragile pattern onto Swedish tracing paper to make up a muslin. The muslin alerted me to a few fitting issues. I adjusted the side seams so that they were half an inch smaller at the bust, ascending to one inch wider at the hips (I avoided the temptation to take the sides in too much - I want to leave room for winter knits under the jacket). As usual I needed to accentuate the back darts to account for the arch in the small of my back. I also moved the shoulder seam lines to fit my small frame.

That's the new shoulder seam line scrawled messily in blue

Right, next job is to find instructions on lining the jacket (or maybe interlining it as The Wilted Magnolia suggested) - there's no lining in the pattern and I haven't lined anything before. Any leads on reading matter appreciated!

[Soundtrack: 'Peg' by Steely Dan]

1 October 2010

Part 2: My family on film... in 1933!

I'm glad lots of you liked seeing my family's home movies from 1933 (previous post here if you missed it). Here are some more clips...

This is my Nana's cousin's home in Cardiff. We think the old lady in the window is my great-great-grandmother. The man with the bowler hat doesn't seem to have got his head round the fact that it's a moving picture, not a photograph, and seems to be telling the children off for moving! The elegant young lady holding baby Joan's hand is my Nana Eileen. I can't get over her outfit!

Down at the dog track!

Playing in the garden. The lady with the blonde pincurls is my great-great-auntie Esther. The lady with the dark hair, who's name is Nancy, has the most amazing dress with those bows on it. I'm sure I've seen a (repro?) sewing pattern that looks very similar - any clues? Not sure who the frolicking couple at the end of the clip are, but they look like a hoot!

The film then jumps ahead to after the war, to what we think is about 1949 in Bournemouth. Clips to follow!