Friday, 23 January 2015

January at Plush Addict

Time for my January visit to Plush Addict and I have a few project suggestions in amongst my fabric picks for this month.  I love the breadth of what the Plush Addict virtual fabric shelves offer from Cuddlesoft plush through to silk and a lot more between.  For those new to 'plush' fabric- it is a short pile soft fluffy fabric which can be used for blankets, clothes, toys and more.  Also known as 'cuddle' (formerly known as minky) and dominated by the 'Shannon' range of plush fabrics with a few other brands mixed in too, Plush Addict stock almost 400 plush fabrics!  My top picks are:

 This fabric has an extra deep pile, I think it would make a lovely pet bed
I really like the classic dimple plush fabrics too.  

And this is Kiwi

Sewing with Plush is different to quilting cottons.  Plush tends to be 100polyester, doesn't need pressing and doesn't unravel.  It can stretch and as it is thicker and can slip so it needs different handling.  Read Kellie's fabric guide to plush here.  She also recommends Clover Wonder Clips rather than pins and size 90 ballpoint needle (back in stock soon).

New quilting cottons in store include Jeanean Morrison's new collection for Free Spirit, Star Landing.  This print caught my eye:

There are louder prints in the collection but this simple cross hatch is one I would use a lot and it would work very well as strips- sashing, a border or binding. 

Arrows seem to be a lasting motif in the last few years, 

I can imagine this a beautiful simple baby blanket, this print on one side and plain plush in gold or peacock on the other

with bound edges and rounded corners.  It would make a lovely understated new baby gift and be a quick make!  This Windham Follie print, Grey Hopp, would make a wonderful binding print cut on the bias:

The same  basic baby blanket idea would work with this Paddington Print on one side, 

and this floral plush as the backing:

With this Anna Maria Horner print cut on the diagonal for binding:

I noticed this geometric print from Camelot Fabrics which I liked for colours and simplicity:

And this large scale Robert Kaufman floral print grabbed my attention and reminded me a little of the Orla Kierly Hyrdranger print from a few years back:

It would make an amazing lampshade!   Find a lampshade kit here.  A long ¼ yd or metre will be enough for this side lampshade. There are other prints in the Mod tex range
This has to be the perfect fabric for the math's obsessed geeks and Big Bang Theory fans in your life- that could include yourself of course!  I love the computerised font.

I'll finish today with a crisp graphic toy kit, 

It makes one large (38cm) fox and two smaller (16cm) foxes, each with a slightly different facial expression.  

 Enjoy!  Happy Weekend x
sib blog

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Watson Priory Peach Bra

Lingerie making has long been a sewing specialism I have wanted to explore.  After some tentative attempts at knickers I made a cami slip and briefs following Gertie's sew-along last year, I made test garments and altered the fit and the resulting undies have been worn many times.  When I saw Amy Chapman's Watson Bra on instagram last December, I knew this style was for me.

It is the perfect pattern to dip your toe into bra making without yet entering the world of the underwire. There is a sew-along just starting now but you don't necessarily need it.  The pattern was quite detailed and there is lots of info at Clothhabit.

You do need a machine that is happy sewing stretch materials and elastic- happy in terms of tension; the stitches are straight, zig-zag and three step zig-zag so suitable for a standard domestic machine.  I did not use an overlocker/serger.  A multitude of stretch needles is a must.  I always break a minimum of two  when sewing anything with elastic or lycra.

These came in handy: duckbill appliqué scissors.  This pair were a Christmas gift from my brother so I asked for Ginghers!  You can see a more cost conscious pair at Plush Addict awaiting restocking. 

The joy of these scissors is that you can trim away a layer of fabric without harming the layer beneath. I usually do this turning a small pair of scissors on their side which works but is not without hazard. This is a luxury method and makes trimming and grading seams a lot easier and safer for me.

You can see how the duck billed side slides underneath the seam being trimmed and shields the lower layer, allowing you to trim closely. Nice!

This area is the back upper elastic which leads into the bra strap as seen from the wrong side (above) and the right side (below).

Sewing this bra was a teeth clenched experience.  I measured myself as the pattern instructions stated but there is no fitting during construction.  Instead you have to wait for the end product and cross your fingers!  I was lucky, for a first attempt the fit is good, very wearable and I love the longline feeling- it seems to provide the feeling of security of an underwire bra with a lighter weight coverage. None of my shop bought bras fit well- they fit on the band around my ribs but tend to be big at the top of the cup and I worked out with this bra that my cup size is 34A at the lower part of the cup and 34AA at the top part so that will inform the next Watson and the underwired bras that are next on my list.

Size made: 34A
Fabrics: Bra Cups from Priory Square cotton spandex knit (also available here
Bra cradle: lightweight powernet with a light weight non stretch tricot lining
Bra Band: Very firm power net
Elastics: ½" plush back throughout- fancy edged for back, front and sides, satin finish for straps
Alterations: I removed a little fabric at the back to accommodate a 2-hook width fastening rather than a 3-hook.  This is covered in the pattern.
Top Tip: Print the patterns pieces on to card.  It makes drawing round them and cutting out a lot easier.

For more detail about the fabrics involved, look here at Clothhabit. I bought the Craftsy bra making class with Beverly Johnson and found her fabric information invaluable and the whole class is a joy to watch.   Sewing Bras: Construction & Fit (w/ Beverly Johnson) (affiliate link).

Thankyou to Sonia who shared some tips on Instagram (@fabricandflowersuk) and stressed the importance of sewing as close to the edge of the elastic as possible so the edging just peeps through.

This bra seems to work in a huge range of sizes. Look at #watsonbra on Instagram to see the variety.  Obviously the support and coverage is much lighter than foam cups and underwires but I was very happy with the result.  It is the sort of bra I would wear under a shirt or jumper but not under a tighter fitting jersey top-I still prefer foam cups for those!  My daughter has requested one and I definitely want more of these in my undie wardrobe.

A note on supplies: frankly, it is very hard work and a total PITA in the UK to find your supplies in one place.  You can either go to, Vena Cava Designs or English Couture.  Selection varies and postage adds up.  What you really want is a kit to make a Watson bra with the correct fabrics and findings but you may struggle to find that.  I have bought kits from Merckwaerdigh, they tend to be quite brightly coloured but they do include all you need and even with postage from Holland, they work out cheaper than many UK options. You can find a good range of elastics and associated notions at The Bra Shop on Etsy- UK based.  It does make me want to set up my own UK bra hobbyists supply shop but a small house, no spare storage and pets does not seem like a suitable environment!

sib blog

Thursday, 15 January 2015

January at Village Haberdashery

I started off my sewing year with a treat, a class with Lizzy House at Village Haberdashery learning to make a Meadow Quilt.  I missed the same class last year and when I saw it come up near Christmas, I booked straightaway and looked forward to my first visit to the Village Haberdashery shop!

For my January sponsor post, I am going to theme my choices and links around what I saw in the shop as it was such a great opportunity to see all the stock (***-Annie has just added one day flash code discount code here***).  But first,  let's start with the class- Lizzy was a generous and dynamic teacher, plus we had a bonus sneak peak at her next two collections- the first included the samples for mini pearl bracelets, and the second was breath taking, seem on Lizzy's laptop- wow, the colours and the designs were amazing!   I don't want to say too much as no public info is out there but Lizzy fans are going to love it.  Great colours, illustrative style, cuteness.

Lizzy is in full flow here showing us how to stitch the first curved section of the block. The workshop space is a well appointed basement. Five students fitted in comfortably with work space for each of us and there were plenty of machines, scissors, rulers, glue sticks etc to go round. We each made a block and decided our Meadow Quilt  colour schemes plans with Lizzy.  I picked up great techniques and a tonne of inspiration.  I plan to work on my quilt during my next work break in late February so I'll share more then.  Its a comfortable place to experience a class with a quality teacher- you can see Annie's class and workshop timetable here, my top pick would be Zoe's Edwards 'Dolores' knit top/tunic/dress class for those who want to conquer their fear of stretch fabrics.  The pattern is included in the class price and the group size is five.

Upstairs in the main shop is an amazing selection of modern fabrics, patterns and yarn.  I love the website but a bricks and mortar shop is even more temptation.  To see all the fabrics together was a real treat and I could see what was selling from the size of bolt left- the Alison Glass Handcrafted range has been very popular!   I have clothing quantity lengths of Geese in Graphite (skirt-to-be) and Plus in Teal (top-to-be).

The Handcrafted prints have a great drape and flow that I assume comes from the dye process.  I would advise a prewash with these fabrics- my colour catches came out with a good dose of dye on them.

Good greens are so hard to find so I deliberately took a snap whilst I was there. I can see the Michael Miller Dim Dots in Spearmint  that I mentioned a few months back but the Amy Butler green Wallflowers reissue had passed me by- great emerald tones!  You can see how the picture above from the shop captures a little more about that print than the standard online pic.

All around the shop are examples of fabrics sewn up into garments, many (maybe all? beautifully made by Charlotte Newland of Displacement Activity who happened to pop into the shop to get some haberdashery bits for her next display piece. 

 This child size hoodie is sewn in Art Gallery Priory square knit, Cottagely Posy, I am guessing the lining is Interlock knit in Dusty Lavender and the ribbing is cotton/spandex wristband knits in natural- you can check with Annie or Caroline at the shop to make sure.  The rest of this pic shows Jeni Baker's Geometric Bliss range on display- gold graphic prints in a pretty floral palette.  You can see how all the Art Gallery fabrics work together with Priory Square next to Jeni's prints.   The yellow/lime stencil style floral print in the middle- Polygons Bulbinella  (from Geometric Bliss)  is one I've not seen before and really stands out amongst the other prints. 

Trims are something I tend to buy more spontaneously in person and purposely for a specific project on line.  Find ric rac here- it's popular stuff! All twill ribbon is here.

I thoroughly recommend a pilgrimage to West Hampstead.  It is a bright happy shop- especially on a very wet, dark January Saturday.  And for those who can't make it there, here's an eye candy selection of best bits:

For garment makers/bag enthusiasts, this Japanese crosshatch denim practically has me salivating and clicking the paypal button.

By hand London are just about to start a Kim dress sew along- for inspiration see Sara Lawson's (Sew Sweetness) brilliant version complete with a pink voile lining.  You may want to snap up your pattern ready- there are a good range of bodice and skirt variations with this dress pattern.

There are fabric packs in store- warm and cool options which contain all the fabrics you will need for all the blocks  and even classes for those who want more instruction. 

I'm looking forward to some new releases, especially Bespoke double gauze collection from Cotton+ Steel and Cookie Book which looks like retro perfection from Kim Kight, also Cotton+Steel.  YOu can sign up for email alerts via those links.  Enjoy x

sib blog

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Cottagely Posy Coppelia

Pattern: Coppelia by Papercut Patterns, available here (awaiting stock) or from Papercut as PDF or printed pattern. Size XS.  

Fabric: Cottagely Posy knit- 95% cotton, 5% spandex, 150cm wide from Priory Square by Katy Jones for Art Gallery- buy here, and here.  I used 1.25 metres, directional pattern so all pattern pieces placed in the same direction and a little creative placement to cut the hem ties.

Alterations: Added 3 ½" to hemline. Kept neckband to the same length. Cut additional hem ties- 4 in total and made them a little longer so the tie could wrap round to the front if needed. Widened cuff by 1" in total.

This is my first Papercut pattern.  I love the presentation and the thick brown paper and it is worth paying extra for.  It makes tracing so much easier.  The sizing is generous. I started out tracing a Small but quickly realised with a little pattern comparison from well fitting knit patterns that I needed to go down a size and this feeling is replicated on other sewing blogs. My niggle with Papercut is the model aesthetic they choose for their patterns is very young, very slim, many styles are very short and at 44 years old this makes me feel totally out of their target market. Seeing ingénue styled models standing with their toes pointed inwards also irritates me. Maybe I need to get over that or maybe it would be good to see them vary their presentation a little and I don't just mean a blonde model replaced with a brunette.  Whinge over.  It was a well cut pattern, I liked the construction and although I did a test run with some duvet reclaimed jersey and did a few tweaks I can see this is a pattern that I will return to and my daughter saw this and requested her own version. My test run was the cropped wrap view which sits on my natural waist line.   For this version, I extended the hem line so it sat between my waist and hips. The fit was great and definitely makes me want to try other Papercut styles.

Raglan sleeves make for easy construction. You do need to consider how to handle the gap in the seam for the hem tie so I used a combination of lightning bolt stitch (Janome Stretch stitch) and overlocking the seams.  Art Gallery knit fabric is very stretchy which means it recovers well- the jersey bounces back into place- but the elasticity means that they curl a lot when cutting or sewing and are a little tiresome to work with. A stretch needle rather than a  jersey ballpoint is essential.  I also use ballpoint pins. I also find that served seams on this fabric have a tendency to pop open so I used lightning stitch for the seam and the overlocker to finish the edges.  You could stitch the whole top on a standard machine, a serger/overlocker is not essential.  I love the print, so pretty and such vivid colours.

Getting the correct amount of stretch on the neckband to prevent gaping, especially for a small busted/flat chest fitting is hard.  I didn't stretch enough on my test run and I stretched it too much on this version.  You can't tell when I am wearing it but it is a little too tense and I know for next time. The level of stretch is going to vary according to the fabric used and is mainly done by feel and experience.  The most important place to get it right is as the band curves round your neck. I also looked at my better quality ready-to-wear jersey tops e.g. Boden, and many have twill tape stitched across the back neck so I used that method here.  Its a handy technique as it neatens and stabilises a bulky seam.

It's a pattern that benefits from a jersey with a little elastane/spandex/lycra- they are all the same thing.  The lycra helps it cling rather than flop or gape.  Papercut rate the pattern as Rookie/beginner.  I would say intermediate is more accurate. A bit of knit sewing experience is going to help a great deal and the construction of the neck band and hem ties needs a little time to get your head round. Definitely one to make a test version of first. 
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