Saturday, 12 April 2014

A Shirt Fit For a Taco Warrior

A while a go I made this shirt for Mr Needles, which we've named 'The Yoko', after the name found on the selvedge of the fabric: 

He really, REALLY loves this shirt...

Like many seamstresses, I'm never 100% happy with my work, and this is no exception. The arms are a bit snug on him, and I wanted another go at this style to get it right. Then I saw this fabric while pottering around on-line:

'Loteria' by Robert Kaufman
Unlike myself - I'm all about the science - Mr Needles loves tarot, numerology, reading about spells and all things mystical, so I figured this Mexican Lottery print fabric would be perfect for him. I ordered a couple of meters from the lovely people at Fondant Fabrics - great, speedy service! - and got sewing.

A whole shirt in this pattern was going to be a bit too much, so like the Yoko shirt, I decided to break it up with the some solid black on the collar, sleeve cuffs, yoke and pocket. After a few adjustments to the arm scye and sleeve, I got sewing, and here it is:

I finished it just in time for Mr Needles to wear it to Taco Wars a few weekends ago where we sampled 8 amazing tacos, quaffed a few margaritas and tequilas, and voted for the best taco:

Taco War voting card
Good eatin'

Here's a few details:

The collar, yoke and the pocket were in plain black cotton:

Breast pocket


For the sides and arms, I used run and fell seams for strength and neatness:

Run and fell side seam and split at hem

Inside run and fell seam
And that's it! I'll leave you with a picture of Mr Needles hard at work, trying to beat the tacos:

See you soon!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Minerva Bloggers Network - Vogue 8721 Shrug Jacket

Time for April's Minerva Project! This time inspiration comes from the shapes and techniques of Balenciaga and Givenchy in the 50's and 60's. They molded and draped fabric around the body in such a way as to completely transform the silhouette, commonly making the garment stand away from the body in round shapes. 

Givenchy coat

Balenciaga Egg coat, 1960

Balenciaga evening dress, 1960's

That's why Vogue 8721 caught my eye:

Here's my red version, made from a mid weight red twill, with a matching red lining:

This was a really interesting piece to make. It's just 2 large pieces with a seam at the centre back that then join with a horizontal seam at the front. Shaping is added with darts around the neck and at the waist.

Openings in the front seam work as armholes:

Arm openings with lining handstitched around edges

The whole piece has facings and a lining:

Can you see all of the understitching around the edges? What a pain!!!! Don't get me wrong - understitching is great, but this was difficult because you have to squeeze in through the arm openings. And then the lining gets caught underneath, and you have to un-pick it, and it gets REALLY frustrating. I ended up being unconventional and doing it from the wrong side.

But to counteract the annoying understitching, there are these lovely covered buttons!

Covered buttons - I'm gonna put them on everything!
This was a pretty quick and easy piece to make, so much so that I'm probably going to make a few versions for work and for summer as alternatives to the ubiquitous cardigan. Don't forget, you can get everything you need for this project at Minerva.

See you soon!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Minerva Crafts Meet Up - Will You Be There?

Have you heard? Minerva's holding a big meet-up to celebrate their success at the British Sewing Awards. As well as great workshops and talks, the members of its Blogger Network will be there, and since I'm one of those bloggers - I'll be there!

Click here for details

I'll be in great company, with the likes of Jo, Clare, Kathryn, Emmie, Marie, Amy, Rachel and many more (sorry if I forgot anyone), just hanging out and spreading good sewing vibes! There'll also be talks and workshops with great people like the By Hand London gang.

And you get to experience the goodness that is Minerva.

Why are you still reading this - you should be booking those train tickets! If you're thinking of attending, let the good people at Minerva know on Facebook or Twitter, using #MinervaCraftsMeetUp.

See you there!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Pattern Pyramid - Winner Announced!

Evening, all! The Pattern Pyramid contest is now closed, and it's time to send this bundle of joy onwards.

Just a small selection of the patterns

 The winner is...... Made in my Living Room! Just drop me a line at and I'll send this goodness on to you.

Take care and see you soon!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Swingin' Darts! Or, How to Reduce Fullness From a Baggy Neckline

Unusually for me, I made a muslin for the bodice of my last project, Butterick 5747. 

Butterick 5747 from 1960
Seeing that it was a fitted style, and knowing I'm a bit larger than average in the bust region, I wanted to make sure it would fit on the neckline and so I took the extra time and made a trial run in a light poly cotton similar in weight to my dress fabric.

I cut it out the size 14 without any adjustments and stitched it roughly together. And wouldn't you know it - major bagginess around the front neckline:

The waist was fine, the fit around the arms and at the back was good, but as you can see there was lots of floppy, baggy fabric along the 'decolletage', which wasn't going to look good on the finished piece. 

To me, the point of a muslin is to give you the opportunity to 'play around' with the look and fit, ultimately helping you decide if a style will work for you. With this challenge, I thought about moving the centre front, but ultimately I went with a dart. I pinched out the excess along the front and pinned it:

Success! All of the wobbly excess along the front was eliminated, and the shape of the neckline was still retained. For a little while, I considered leaving the darts in the final piece - after all, the wide collar would probably hide the darts. 

Then I decided I was just being lazy and decided to redraft the pattern. Here's the original pattern front, with the new neck dart added:

To get rid of the neck dart I decided to swing it round to the waist dart by closing the neck dart, then slashing open the waist dart to accommodate it, like this:

By closing the neck dart and slashing the waist dart through the middle to the point of the neck dart, the pattern falls open naturally to accommodate the excess, as seen below:

Then I redrafted the pattern with the adjustments, re-drawing the waist dart taking care not to take it all the way to the point of the neck dart or else I'd end up with pointy boobs!

Re-drafted front bodice

At first, the balance of the piece looked slightly 'off' - I decided to keep the centre front on the straight grain for stability, so the rest of the piece curves around quite dramatically. But would it work?

It did!

Sorry about the gratuitous boob shot...
Snug around the neckline, and still fits on the waist and bust.

And here's the finished outfit with the redrafted piece at work:

And that's that! I hope you find this technique useful if you're making this dress, or even if you have fit issues on other projects - the same principal can be used pretty much anywhere there's a dart.

And don't forget to enter the Pattern Pyramid competition that's running until Sunday the 30th - leave a comment here to join in the fun!