Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


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#SummerOfBasics Full Outfit

This is my final post for the #SummerOfBasics. The instagram feed has been full of such amazing makes. It has been great to be part of this challenge. This is also such a fantastic contest for providing me with solid everyday clothing and this year I have made a yoga outfit.

The items are a pair of yoga socks using this free Patons pattern on Ravelry, a hoodie using a Burda pattern (Burda #119 01/2018) and the Ruri Sweatpants from Named Clothing.

Now I just needed to model my yoga kit all together – I finally have a yoga kit that I can feel proud to wear! The hoodie and sweatpants are cosy and perfect for the winter months in the yoga studio. The socks keep my feet warm, whilst still allowing me to grip the yoga mat with my toes. I’m super-pleased with the combination of fabrics and yarn too, all sticking to my navy blue / grey theme.

Yoga Outfit

Yoga Pose in my new yoga kit!

Yoga Outfit

…..And time for a rest!

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Sewing The Seventies: 1978

“Now is the winter of our discontent” is the opening line of Shakespeare’s Richard III, but it’s also the phrase applied to the events of the winter of 1978 – 79. In September, the Prime Minister, James Callaghan announced that he would not call a general election despite being ahead in the opinion polls – “I am not proposing to seek your votes because there is a blue sky ahead today.” It was a stance he would regret in the coming months.

Later that month, 23 Ford car plants closed across Britain due to strikes. The Government had introduced pay policies throughout the 1970s in order to combat rampant inflation. Part of this policy was a guideline for pay rises to be capped at 5%. Sanctions would be imposed on companies that chose to breach the pay policy. To bring an end to the strike, Ford offered their workers a 17% pay rise and decided to accept the sanctions. The Ford workers accepted the deal.

This outcome though, seemed to signal that the government had no way of enforcing its pay policy and other industrial disputes quickly followed. Bakers went on strike and bread rationing was brought in as a bread-buying rush got underway in Bristol. The city’s smaller bakers step up their production to meet the demand.

Main brand bakery workers strike

Main brand bakery workers strike

The Times newspaper closed for nearly a year. A smaller 3p edition of the Bristol Post appears towards the end of 1978.

3p edition of the Bristol Post

Large numbers of the lorry drivers working for oil producers, BP and Esso began an overtime ban in support of rises of up to 40% and the army were put on standby to take over from the tanker drivers if the disruption of oil supplies developed into a crisis.

I decided to try to make a cheesecake from the Farmhouse Kitchen book. Now, I must admit that I am renowned for my inability to make a decent cheesecake. I try all sorts of recipes, but it’s usually unsatisfactory. This cheesecake was an Orange Chocolate Cheesecake and on paper had the approval of all the family. It seemed quite easy to make as it was a no-cook type of cheesecake and here it is in the tin:

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Well, sadly it didn’t really set very well, but it was actually rather yummy. The cheese layer had a great citrus flavour and wasn’t too sweet. The chocolate biscuit base was particularly good. I think I can take the blame for the cheese layer not setting properly. I used vegetarian setting agent rather than gelatine. Perhaps with more of this added to the cheese mix it would set, I must have just got the quantity required wrong.

Today has been a little warmer and I chose an outfit that included my Butterick 3065 jeans and a shirred sun top made from a Burda pattern. I think that shirring was quite popular for sun dresses in the seventies. It wasn’t the warmest of outfits to wear even with the cardigan. Apparently the snow is due to arrive again tomorrow, so I’ll be reverting to something warmer.

Hippy Jeans and Shirred Top

Hippy Jeans and Shirred Sun Top

 


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Burda #107A 03/2013 – Lace Cardigan

I seem to be going a bit mad for Burda patterns at the moment. This will be my fourth Burda make this year. This is quite a turnaround from being a pattern company whose patterns used to fill me with fear, to now having enough confidence to tackle them without a second thought. The pattern I chose this time is a simple cardigan with a V-neck opening. The front is gently gathered, which provides a little more shape to the garment.

Burda #107A 03/2013

I have a small length of lace fabric in my stash, which was a bolt-end. It has been lurking in my stash for a few years, but I was reluctant to use it as I knew it would be a tessellation nightmare trying to figure out how to cut out the required pieces from the fabric I have. But finally I plucked up courage and gave this a go. After I’d traced my pattern I spent quite a while positioning my pattern pieces on the fabric to get the best placement. Ultimately, I decided that I didn’t quite have enough. However, going ahead with 3/4  length sleeves, I would just about be able to make a cardigan. I’m quite happy with the reduced sleeve length given that the cardigan is made from a lace fabric and will purely be used as a light layer in summer or perhaps an evening event (should I be invited to one!)

Burda lace cardigan

The construction was relatively simple at the start. It didn’t take long for the body and sleeves to be stitched together. The trickier part was the front. First of all, the front sections have to be gathered. A good while ago I remember using the overlocker to gather, so I got the instruction manual out and tried this out. It essentially requires changing the differential feed and once stitched pulling on the two needle threads to gather the fabric. It worked a treat in getting an even gather.

Burda Cardigan Gathering

When I was trying to tame the front band, I got the iron out and starting on a low temperature ironed the fabric. Much to my surprise, the fabric seem quite happy with the heat, so much so that I took a small piece of left-over fabric (there were only small pieces remaining) and wacked the iron up high. The fabric didn’t melt. I had thought this fabric was just a bit of polyester, but I couldn’t believe anything completely synthetic could survive the full heat from the iron. I was now quite intrigued to find out the fibre content of my fabric. I decided to conduct a burn test. Coming from a scientific background, I just love doing experiments and got quite excited about the idea of lighting pieces of fabric! Anyway, I lit a small remnant in the sink and it continued to burn in the sink once the flame was removed. I used this web page as a guide.

I noticed that the smell wasn’t particularly plastic-like, and indeed it smelled quite natural. I put my burned fabric on a plate and got Mister and Master Steely to smell it too. They declared it a non-plastic smell too. Master Steely said it smelled like rice. I suspect the fabric is viscose. Here’s what the guide said about rayon / viscose:

“Rayon keeps burning after the flame is removed, and although it has an odor similar to cotton or paper, it does not have an afterglow.”

Burda Lace Cardigan

Burda lace cardigan

There are quite a few of these cardigans posted on the Burda website, take a look here and here for versions in lace. I notice that it also looks great made with jersey as well, like in this version and I expect I will try this out too at some point.

 


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Designing December Part 1: Decisions, decisions….

I’ve watched this challenge from the sidelines for a couple of years, and always wanted to join in. Trouble is December is a really manic month for me and there isn’t much sewing time, but I thought with careful planning, and starting the process early I might just squeeze in a make.

Earlier this year, I bought one of the Drape Drape books and was immediately delighted by all the slightly avant-garde, asymmetrical designs. This got me interested in Japanese designers and I started looking at catwalk videos and photos. I’d never been particularly interested in fashion shows before, since I’d always regarded them as somewhat irrelevant to my wardrobe. However, I found that there are wearable styles and interesting ideas if you look beyond the flamboyance. I have been particularly drawn to the Issey Miyake collections. Now here’s a designer who uses interesting lines and doesn’t find trousers boring!

I started collecting a few ideas on Pinterest and planning which of the garments I would make. Here are a few of the garments that I particular like with my notes.

Asymmetrical Ideas

Clockwise from left: Spring / Summer 2016 Resort, Spring/ Summer 2016 Resort, Spring/ Summer 2017 Resort, Spring 2017 Ready To Wear, Spring / Summer 2017 Ready to Wear

After much deliberation, I finally settled on this outfit. It’s from Autumn / Winter 2017 Pre Fall collection. I love the asymmetrical vest. I can see myself wearing that either as a top or perhaps over a long-sleeved jersey top. The culottes are a far more summery item, although I think they could be part of a glamorous party outfit. I’m not entirely sure if I’ll make these yet. Let’s just say that I’ll see how much time I have.

Issey Miyake Outfit

My next step was to establish whether I could use or adapt a pattern from my collection, or even buy one. I found this vest pattern by Burda and downloaded the PDF. The pattern is a cross-over vest, similar in style to the Issey Miyake original. It seems to have been made by a few sewing enthusiasts in denim or linen. I particularly like Ellen’s denim version with its embroidery.

Despite the similarities with the catwalk vest, I will still need to adapt the pattern. I think the cross-over on the catwalk garment is more pronounced with the left and right front pieces overlapping beyond the waist, right across the front of the body. I think also, judging by the photo that the Issy Miyake top has some sort of waist tie that holds the garment in place at the waist. The Burda top has some jacket-style pockets. The photo of the Issey Miyake garment doesn’t show clearly enough whether there are any pockets, but perhaps some sort of welt pocket might look cool?

I’ve now printed out the pattern and I’m just about to trace it onto tracing pattern whilst making some initial changes. These include modifying the lower half of the pattern to make the front left and front right cross over more. I’ve also marked in the waist and waist tie placement. I’m still undecided about pockets.

Next, I’m going to make a toile. I know that I don’t make toiles much; I’m too familiar with the changes I need to make now for fitting reasons to feel it is time worth spent. But I feel it is necessary for this project as I am making some considerable changes to the pattern and I want it to fit well across the shoulders and bust. I’m just going to use an old sheet, and although this is going to be much floppier than my intended fabric I hope that I’ll still be able to make the fit and pattern adjustments with reasonable accuracy.

Next post, I’m sure I’ll be a bit further along with my project and I’ll be able to show you my toile and the fabric I’m going to use for the project.

 

 

 

 


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#SummerOfBasics – The Full Outfit

Summer of Basics Outfit

This is the full outfit for the Summer of Basics, a sewing and knitting challenge where participants sew or knit three items over the summer months to create an outfit that fits the theme of “Basics”. For more information on the challenge, hop over to Fringe Association.

Summer of Basics Outfit

I’m a bit late with my final post (roughly three weeks in actual fact, yikes), but even though the deadline has passed, I’m not unhappy. I have a fantastic new outfit that fulfilled my need for wardrobe basics! I made the knot blouse from a spotted grey double gauze using Burda pattern 11/2016 #105, a pair of black skinny jeans with Burda pattern 03/2014 #115, and a cable hat using a knitting pattern from the Fall 2016 Knit Along from Craftsy from some beautiful Shetland wool.

Summer of Basics Oufit

I’ve described how each of the garments is made, here for the top, here for the jeans and here for the hat. In hindsight, I feel it was quite a challenging outfit to put together – two Burda patterns and a cabled knit hat, when I’d never made a hat before nor knitted cables. There were lots of new skills to be learned and the usual struggles with Burda instructions, but all three were very satisfying makes.

Summer of Basics Outfit

 


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#SummerOfBasics – Black Skinny Jeans and a Feline Friend

Well, time has marched on and we are nearly at the end of August. I tried to get on top of my sewing and knitting this weekend, but despite quite a reasonable amount of time at my disposal (unusual for me) I am admitting defeat. I know that I will not make the Summer of Basics deadline. But all is not lost. I already have a new top. My skinny jeans are finished (see below) and I have started my hat. I had to rip back to a lifeline last night and I know that the hat won’t be finished by the end of the month. However, I am confident that it will fit me – I tried on the ribbed cuff and it was perfect!

Both the grey top and the skinny jeans I’m making for the Summer of Basics use Burda patterns. I’m not exactly sure why I decided to sew two Burda patterns so quickly in succession – bad planning on my part or perhaps once I had the outfit formulated in my mind I couldn’t step away from it. I have a feeling of trepidation at the start of every Burda project. The instructions are generally minimal and often lacking in linguistic clarity. Fortunately, I had shared this pattern with my Mum and she was first off the starting blocks her pair of jeans. This was very handy as when I got to the usual head-scratching stages, I knew we could compare notes. I was in despair over the instructions describing the fly zip insertion and decided to go my own way with some good pointers from my Mum.

Skinny Jeans

I am extremely pleased with the fabric I bought for my jeans from Fabric Godmother. The fabric seems to have gone from their website, but this is similar. It is described as cotton/ spandex mix, with 40% stretch. I’ve found it hard to find stretch woven jeans fabric and certainly nothing with this amount of stretch. I suspect these jeans will replace my current pair of jeggings, which were bought many years ago and are a cotton / polyester / elastane blend. They have stretched out of shape badly at the knees. I’m hoping that the lack of reliance on polyester in the fabric I’ve chosen for my black skinny jeans will circumvent this problem. I’m actually rather disappointed I didn’t decide to make a pair of jeggings out of this fabric – jeggings are so handy for travelling since a belt isn’t a necessity!

In terms of the fit, I made the size 42 straight from the pattern, but I did trim down the leg seams at the hips a little to make a tighter fit across the hips. I also needed to adjust the length as they were somewhat long in the leg.

I did use my jersey interfacing rather than conventional interfacing in the waistband. I wanted to keep some of the stretch in the waistband. Time will tell if this was a wise decision. I’m a little concerned about the amount of wrinkling, but I wonder if this is partly due to rushing out and taking photos without wearing a belt. I think they need more of a road test – I may take in the side seams a smidge more.

All in all, these jeans are a great addition to my wardrobe. They can be worn with almost anything and I wear jeans all year round – a perfect basic!

Skinny jeans

Photo-bomb by all means, but please can you do that bottom-licking thing somewhere else?

I’m off, you’re just not interesting any more!

I almost forgot about the photo-bombing cat. It’s my neighbour’s cat, who has typical feline pretensions around ownership. I often find him lounging on the bench in my back garden and giving me accusing stares when he’s asked to give up an inch or two for me to sit down. Looks like he’s owning my photo shoot now too!


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#SummerOfBasics – Progress Update

It’s now the middle of August and I’ve made some good progress on my outfit for the Summer of Basics. The only spanner in the works (albeit a lovely spanner) is that I’m going on holiday tomorrow for ten days and this will mean that I have under a week to complete my makes on my return. I’m hoping I can pull this off!

The Cable Hat

I ordered some beautiful yarn from Jamieson and Smith in the silver grey colour. The yarn is 100% Shetland wool and is apparently “perfect for cables”. I’m hoping I’ve made a good choice for my hat, I’m no expert on choosing wool.

The hat I have decided to make for this make is from the Craftsy “Fall” (Autumn for us here in the UK) Knit-Along from last year. Although I have only listened so far to the “preparation” parts of the tutorial, I have been really enjoying the course. Kate Atherley explains everything so well.

The reason I chose this project is that I am desperate to make a hat that fits. I have an extremely small head and I have a hard time finding hats that fit in the shops. As a general rule only children’s hats fit well, but can be a bit prone to pinkness and bows. Kate’s guide to swatching is great and I’m confident that after knitting two swatches I have a needle size that suits the wool and is right for the pattern. This should bring the size of the hat to the size suggested by the pattern. However, I’m still tempted to take out one of the cable repeats to achieve the suggested fit of 5cm less than head size, for a snug fit.

I suspect I’m not going to start my hat until I come back from holiday, but I have all my tools ready – circular knitting needles and a cable needle. I’ve never used either so this will be fun.

The Black Jeans

I think a whole post needs to be devoted to my jeans, but I thought a little update might be useful here. I’m using this Burda pattern to make a pair of skinny black jeans.

Front of jaens (unfinished)

I’ve made the front including the fly and the back. These have now been sewn together at the inner and outer leg seams. This just leaves the waistband, the belt loops and hem. Sadly, I’m not going to get to take these on holiday, although I suspect that a pair of black jeans was never in contention for a holiday in 30 – 40 degree heat!

Back of jeans