Moneta II: (Re)covering a botched hem

Taken at the Botanical Gardens, just before we left Dublin

Taken at the Botanical Gardens, just before we left Dublin

I had all kinds of trouble attaching clear elastic to the waistline of my first Moneta. I got some great tips in response to my plea for assistance on tackling clear elastic and recently decided that enough time had elapsed for me to give it another go. I bought this bamboo jersey at Hickey’s in Dublin when I spotted it on sale several weeks ago, and managed to finish up the Moneta before we left for Shanghai. The jersey is quite thin and has a strong tendency to roll up at the edges – which contributed to things going a bit crazy at the hemline…

Moneta 2 bk Ladystitcher

I used a twin needle around the sleeve cuffs and neckline before working on the hem, so luckily those were already finished before disaster struck: the needles kept chewing up the hem and sucking it into the needle plate. I think this was down to a combination of bad fabric management on my part and having the tension a touch off (though it had seemed ok on the neckline!). Then, when I was trying to straighten things out, I hit a pin and shattered the twin needle. Whoops…

So, I managed to make a complete mess of the hem – it was really puckered and the back of the stitching was all kinds of odd. I didn’t want to cut the fabric and lose the length though, so instead I scouted out some lovely stretch lace from a haberdashery in the Powerscourt Centre, A Rubanesque. She didn’t have enough of the lace I’d picked out left in stock, so instead she suggested cutting this really wide one in half, which worked perfectly for making a nice wide band of lace.

Cutting Lace Ladystitcher

I hand stitched the lace on to make sure I moulded it around the skirt without puckering and so that it covered the hem evenly along the bottom. Here’s a closer photo of the lace being stitched on – and the ‘right’ side of the hem pre-lace:

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Ooof…

It feels like cheating a bit to basically put a band aid over what is a truly disastrous hem, but I quite like how it turned out! I’m not sure how I could have rescued it otherwise, without cutting up the skirt and re-doing the hem with a new twin needle. As it is, I really like this dress and have already worn it several times. The bamboo jersey is a lovely bright blue and is really, really soft, and the lace adds something a little delicate to what would have been a very simple dress.

Have you ever done an emergency patch-up or patch-over on a sewing project? How did it turn out?

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Making Myrtle: Well worth the fiddly bits

Ladystitcher Myrtle

I’m trying to experiment a bit more with sewing different types of fabrics these days, so I was really intrigued to see that the newest release from Colette Patterns – the Myrtle dress – was designed with both knits and wovens in mind.

I actually bought some lovely patterned jersey in London recently to pair with this pattern, but thought I’d give it a first run with a woven. This lovely soft viscose comes from Murphy Sheehy in Dublin (I bought it several months ago but they might have a bit left on the roll). The fabric was so nice to work with – sewing without slipping, ironing easily, draping nicely.

The Myrtle pattern is quite simple, but I did find the shoulder section a bit fiddly. The front piece is self-lined and is basically one long piece folded over at the neckline to make the cowl. When sewing up the bodice seams, you do so with the back bodice piece sandwiched between the other bits.Ladystitcher Myrtle back

The pattern’s sewalong was really helpful, but I still wasn’t quite sure how the back part was supposed to look when lined up for sewing. In the end, I had a bit more back neckline peeping out above the shoulder seam, so I just turned it under and stitched it down afterwards.

Sewing the elastic casing was also a bit fiddly, but am sure I’ll get much quicker (and smoother!) at it with practice, so am planning a few more Myrtles already! I’d really like to make the knit version now, and it could be make for an interesting comparison with the way the woven one comes together.

I was a bit more generous with the length of elastic than the pattern suggests for the waist: the elastic I have is quite sturdy and although there’s great stretch in it, it doesn’t give too easily and I didn’t want to be constricted in an otherwise very comfortable dress.

Have you come across any other lovely knit-and-woven patterns I should check out? Or have you tried Myrtle in a knit fabric?

Foxy Delphine: Love at First Stitch skirt

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The lil’ fox is incredibly difficult to photograph in my poor-lit house, but the gold thread is much more noticeable in real life.

While making my grey Colette Truffle dress recently, I began thinking about different ways to embellish garments to add a special, personal touch. I love that the Truffle has a simple style as it makes it really easy to accessorize for different situations – it’s a very handy go-to dress to have in the wardrobe – but I was also itching to add something more permanent to it to spice it up a bit.

Around that time, Ingrid of We The Sewing posted about embellishing clothing with embroidery. On reading her tips, I knew that this was exactly the technique I wanted to try out.

So when Tilly Walnes released a preview of the lovely projects included in her new book, Love at First Stitch, I immediately thought of making a simple grey Delphine and trying some hand embroidery. Happily, I still had some of the soft suiting fabric I’ve used on my Frankenskirt and Truffle dress, and I traced out the Delphine pattern as soon as I got my hands on the book.

Lady Stitcher Foxy Delphine Prep

I pinned a sketch of the fox to the skirt in different places to check the position I wanted before tracing it on to the fabric.

This is my first time embroidering anything on clothes and I followed Ingrid’s great tips for planning the project, from sourcing a simple line drawing via Pinterest (this fox), to tracing the pattern onto the fabric using a wheel and dressmaker’s tracing paper. Initially, I planned to stitch a bright blue or neon pink animal character onto the skirt, but when I was looking through the skein selections at the beautiful haberdasher A Rubanesque, I discovered some amazing metallic DMC threads and decided that gold (shade: E677) would be perfect for this project.

I used an embroidery hoop to keep the skirt fabric tight enough to stitch without puckering, but clamped it loose enough not to crush and mark the fabric. I divided the skein into two-strand threads for sewing because one strand was too light and I was worried that three would tangle. I should note that this metallic thread was more liable to split and fray during sewing so I found it easier to work with shorter lengths, and I just used backstitch.

Here’s a close-up of the finished fox. He’s imperfect, but I like him:

Fox Finished Lady Stitcher

I’m really happy with how this first foray into embroidery embellishment worked out. I like the simplicity of Delphine’s design and the subtle shine of the little golden fox against the soft grey fabric. There’s a stronger contrast between the yellow of the thread and the skirt fabric in real life than in these photos, and the fox sparkles a little when the light catches him.

I also managed to get the invisible zip in really smoothly using my regular zipper foot (yes, I’m done with that pop-on invisible zipper foot!). The Delphine is a lovely simple skirt to sew and, as with all the projects in her book, Tilly includes a range of simple but inspiring ideas for customising your skirt.

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I already have two excellent sewing books for learning new techniques, The Colette Sewing Handbook and The Complete Photo Guide to Garment Construction by Christine Haynes (I think Tilly’s book sits somewhere between the two) but I was really drawn to the patterns included in Love at First Stitch. I’m currently working on a Clemence skirt with fabric from my stash and hope to try my hand at the Mimi blouse soon too.

I won’t go into outlining the new book at length as there are already plenty of reviews out there from its blog tour (House of Pinheiro has compiled a particularly good overview), but I do think it’s brilliant value for five lovely and very wearable patterns, as well as being a handy sewing guide. There’s no harm in having more than one reference when you need sewing advice in a pinch – sometimes the different descriptions can help something click better.

A second sewing book I bought recently was a beautiful guide to cross stitch by Sophie Simpson called Storyland Cross Stitch – so I might be trying some cross stitch on clothing soon too!

Have you tried any new clothing embellishment techniques? How did they turn out?

Man versus elastic: Moneta by Colette Patterns

Moneta Ladystitcher Front

A few months ago, Colette Patterns announced plans to jointly release new knit patterns alongside a book dedicated to sewing knit fabrics. They also offered an opportunity to sign up via email and receive a free preview chapter of the book shortly prior to the launch date, so I quickly signed up and waited to see what the book would hold.

That one chapter convinced me that the book, The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits, would be an invaluable resource when learning to sew a wider range of knit and jersey fabrics. I feel I’ve gotten off to a good start by sewing a whole bunch of Coco tops and dresses (pattern by Tilly and the Buttons), but have really wanted to get stuck into sewing a broader variety of knit fabrics. I don’t have an overlocker or serger though, so have been really reluctant to give them a try.

After Colette released the new knit patterns, I quickly made up the Mabel skirt in some leftover ponte, but had to wait a bit longer before tackling the Moneta dress as it was impossible to find plastic elastic in Irish sewing stores (between dropping in and looking online, I checked over a dozen shops but just couldn’t find the right elastic!). I had held off from ordering from overseas as the postage was higher than the price of the elastic (!) but I finally ordered it from Minerva and it was delivered really quickly.

Moneta Ladystitcher Back

This fabric is a red baby rib knit from MyFabrics.co.uk which I spotted on sale while waiting for the Colette package to be released, and took a bit of a gamble on it (it looks like it’s sold out by now). I also used some of that remnant light jersey polka dot fabric from my night Coco for the side seam pockets.

I’m not sure whether the red fabric is slightly too light for this project or if my stitch settings were off, but I had a really tough time sewing the plastic elastic in to the waist to shirr the skirt before joining it to the bodice. I felt like I needed at least one more hand to pull the elastic and fabric through behind the needle while keeping the elastic – but not the fabric – stretched in front of the needle. I tried different stitch combinations but the elastic was frequently pulled in to a tight tube shape as I tried to attach it.

Eventually I sent a plea for viable alternative methods out over Twitter, so I have some different techniques to try the next time around! I did persevere with this technique though and managed to get the elastic in as per the pattern instructions, but it looks like a sewing machine vomited on the inside of the waistline.

Apart from the shirring, the rest of the dress came together really quickly and without a hiccup so I will certainly be making more Monetas! I just have a lot of shirring practice to get in before now and then… 🙂

The one thing I really did fall in love with while making Moneta was my new twin needle. I had debuted one already on Mabel, but I felt that maybe the needles were slightly too close together (2.5mm) for a smooth finish so I bought a second one (4mm ‘twin stretch’). This rib knit is prone to fraying but by turning up raw edges by 1cm and stitching at 3/8″ (sorry for mixing the measurements but that’s how I really worked instead of converting everything to the same unit!), the zigzag formed behind the twin stitching perfectly caught and sealed the edges.

The 4mm double needle definitely gives a nice smooth finish to hems and necklines – this neckline turned out much smoother than using a zigzag on my Cocos pre-double needle.

Moneta Dress

Whatever way I’m holding the skirt on the right here, it looks like the side seams are puckered but they’re actually alright in real life! 🙂

Skills learned: ‘working’ with plastic elastic ;), using twin needle to finish raw edges

Recommend pattern?: Shirring issues aside, this was a really quick project and I’ll definitely be scouting out some nice knits to make more. I’ll explore alternative methods for attaching the skirt, or might be able to source some wider plastic elastic online in the hopes that it will be less likely to ‘tube’ than the width called for in the pattern. I have a heap of this red knit left over so I might try some of the collared varieties of Moneta, but make it into a top instead.

Me-Made-May ’14: The halfway point

I, Sue (ladystitcher.wordpress.com), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I will endeavour to wear at least one item made by me each day for the duration of May 2014.

Here we are – it’s the middle of May and we’re already halfway through this year’s Me-Made-May project. I’ve really been enjoying taking part so far and have found it quite challenging to not just keep wearing my five favourite things over and over.

I’ve been sharing daily updates of my pledge progress on Instagram and have pulled those photos together for my first MMM round-up post.

First 5

Day 1: Moonrise Kingdom dress, seed stitch scarf | D2: Easter Mortmain and RTW jacket for a wedding | D3: Grey Coco | D4: Vintage Pledge shirt dress, RTW cardigan | D5: Colette Mabel skirt and Sorbetto top (plus charity race medal – it was a family day out!)

The most notable absences in my handmade wardrobe are tops, trousers and cardigans/sweaters. I don’t plan on chucking out my RTW wardrobe any time soon, so there’s no urgency in making cardigans but I would really like a wider variety of tops that aren’t T-shirts. I also really want to make trousers, too! I have two patterns to hand but haven’t found the right fabric yet.

Second 5

Day 6: Grey and gold Coco, seed scarf | D7: Remnant fabric skirt (not blogged), RTW shirt and vest | D8: Beignet skirt, Simplicity 1693 top, RTW top | D9: Grey Coco, basketweave scarf (not blogged) | D10: Grey and gold Coco, RTW sweater, seed scarf

Since the start of May, I’ve realised just how often I typically reach for jeans, a T-shirt and a sweater in the morning. Looking back over these photos, I’m really surprised to see that I only worse jeans once in the first half of the month. I’ve also realised just how much I was wearing my grey and colour-blocked Coco dresses pre-May; I’ve consciously been limiting their rotation for MMM’14 but have already worn each a couple of times.

My pledge focused on better incorporating my handmade clothing into what I was wearing rather than trying not to repeat any outfits. That said, I’ve been happily surprised at how many outfit combinations I’ve been able to put together from the garments I’ve made.

Third 5

Day 11: Coco #5 | D12: Gingham Japanaese pattern dress (not blogged), RTW cardigan | D13: Sleeveless Mathilde (not blogged), RTW jeans | D14: Sporty Coco, Beignet skirt | D15: Nettie top (not blogged), RTW skirt

The pace of my sewing has slowed down since the start of May. For the first ten days, I was visiting with family in different parts of Ireland and since I’ve come home, I’ve been focusing on finishing my Owls sweater. I fell a bit behind Kat and Sabrina’s knitalong during the sewing frenzy for Sew Dolly Clackett and Sew For Victory and I had a bit of a nightmare with the magic loop method. I’m getting back on track now that I’ve sourced the right sized double pointed needles and am aiming to finish the sweater before the end of MMM.

Of course, having some me-made trousers to put with it would be nice too… 🙂

Making Mabel: Burgundy knit skirt using Colette Patterns

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I bought the Mabel pattern as part of the patterns-and-book package offered by Colette Patterns recently. I really like this style of short, fitted skirt, but didn’t have much luck with the few I’d tried on in shops – they always seemed too tight across my hips and too loose on the waist. The burgundy ponte is left over from my Coco #5 dress.

Despite the simplicity of the pattern and its instructions, I did manage to make a heap of silly mistakes. (This may be why sewing at 2am is a bad idea…) Somehow, I mixed the front and back pieces up and didn’t realise until it was all pretty much together, so I suspect the side seams sit a tad differently on my skirt than they might have otherwise. I also completely forgot to make the waistband lining until I was attaching the waistband, so that was jettisoned. Instead, I used a double needle on the top edge of the waistband to smooth it down. 

When I finished putting all the pieces together and tried it on the first time, I really wasn’t sure about this. But, funnily, once I sewed the shiny metallic buttons on, I loved it! I’m not sure why they made such a difference to me, but I much prefer it now.

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It’s a lot shorter and tighter than the skirts I usually wear, so I’m not sure how brave I’ll be about wearing it when warmer weather arrives and it’s time to discard tights. I think I have enough of this fabric left to make the pencil skirt version, though, which might be a good summer solution!

Skills learned: Working with a double needle

Recommend pattern?: Colette Patterns have a strong reputation for releasing well-drafted patterns with clear instructions and this definitely fits the bill. I’ll be making Mabel again soon in the longer version and would definitely recommend it as an easy pattern for sewing simple knit skirts.

I haven’t been able to get any good shots of Mabel while away from home this week, but I did take one shot of me wearing it with my Sorbetto top and leggings after doing a 5k charity walk with my family over the first weekend of Me-Made-May ’14:

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Simple staple: The grey Truffle

Truffle Dress

The Colette Patterns sewing handbook has been, without doubt, my single most useful sewing resource to date. It’s not an exhaustive guide to sewing techniques and practices, but it is a brilliant beginner’s book and has plenty of photos to help you along the way (something I found sorely lacking in the first sewing books I bought when starting out).

One of the things which drew me to this book was the range of projects it included, especially the dresses. However, while I had some grand plans for these patterns, I didn’t actually get around to trying them!

Recently, I’ve been reviewing my old pins on Pinterest for sewing inspiration and came across this simple Kate Spade dress. I love the softness of that grey, and the simplicity of the silhouette coupled with the more dramatic neckline. It struck me that the Colette book’s Truffle dress would be a good match for this style if you left off the drape/wrap front part.

I have some lovely grey suiting fabric left over from the vintage pattern skirt I made a few months ago. One side is a darker, smoother finish (this is the side I turned out for the skirt) and the other side feels like brushed cotton and is a much softer shade. So I’ve used that side as the right side for this dress.

Truffle Back

This was a really simple make: I cut my size based on the finished garment measurements and find it a good fit. The upper back is a little bit loose so I’d probably take it in a smidgen there when putting in the zip next time around.

One thing this dress could use though is some pockets. I considered adding them but left them out in the end as I thought they’d show through this soft fabric on the outside and make it all lumpy.

I looked into different beading techniques for building a dramatic neckline akin to that Kate Spade dress, but this fabric is really soft and I don’t think it could actually support that kind of finish without sagging.

I’m considering coming back to this dress and adding some embroidery along the neckline or part of the skirt. Ingrid of We The Sewing posted this handy guide to adding embroidery embellishments on her blog recently and I’ve earmarked it for future use. I really want to start adding more finishing techniques to the simpler items I sew to give them a bit more edge or personality.

Truffle Front

Skills learned: I’ve made lined bodices before, but this is the first time I did the push-the-back-through-the-front technique and it does give a lovely smooth finish (if you’ve clipped your curves and graded your seams properly beforehand!).

Recommend pattern?: If you’re starting sewing and looking for a great guide, then I couldn’t recommend the Colette book enough. And if you have the book, then this pattern is great for learning how to line a bodice and insert an invisible zip in a lined bodice. It’s a simple pattern for a nice staple dress and, though probably not worth buying the whole book for alone, it is a brilliant addition to the book.