Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Some bags

I decided to make a tote bag and a matching little bag using Simplicity 9949, which I have used before. It makes for a nice sized tote bag with a zippered top. I'm using the left over fabric from when I recovered my ironing board.
tote pattern
Here, I've got some pieces cut out and I'm deciding on which little bag to make.
tote zipper being installed
When I'm making things like this and using heavy cotton fabric, I don't sew the seam together where the zipper will go. Instead, I just iron over the seam allowances and set the zipper under them.
little bag zipper being pinned
Then I pin down one end of the zipper and the fabric and put pins in along the stitching line, which I will take out as I sew.
little bag bottom
The little matching bag has a separate bottom piece and I oriented the stripes perpendicularly to the body of the bag for contrast. Here is the wrong side, the inside of the bag, before I have sewed the ends. I have pinked all the raw edges so they won't fray and I won't have to finish them in any other way later.
little bag done and tote partly finished
In this photo, I have finished the little bag and have sewn the handles on the large tote. Next will come the side seams and the installation of the zipper and I'll be done.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Collar

I have sandwiched the collar between the two layers of the coat and have turned it the right way out to make sure I have to correct sides touching each other.
making sure
Next, I laid the collar on the ironing board and started pinning the striped side of the coat to it. After pinning the ends, I had to cut small clips into the neck edge of the coat to get it to stretch out to fit the collar.
collar pinned
After I had the striped side roughly pinned, I flipped it over and pinned the red side to the collar too.
coat pinned at collar
Here I have both sides pinned to the collar and am ready to sew.
coat together at collar
Without even trimming or pressing I turned the coat right side out and red side out to see what it will look like and hung it on the door. It looks kind of messy because I haven't sewed the fronts together and I have flipped up the collar on the left side of the photo so you can see its underside. But I think it looks great!
Now it will be on to the loops and buttons. I have a reversible winter coat that I didn't make and I wear it almost every day. I took a photo of the top of it to show that there are buttons on both sides and they are done up using loops sewn into the front edge seam.
reversible coat
The loops are actually elastic and you don't notice them at all really. I haven't decided whether to go with elastic or make loops out of the same fabric as the coat. If I can't get red elastic, I think I will go with fabric loops. Next it will be a matter of choosing some buttons (the last time I was at FabricLand, I didn't see any I liked) and then making sure the loops fit the buttons properly.

Since I am not sure when I am going to go to the store, I may start on that tote bag I was mentioning as an interim project - which I don't usually allow myself but may make an exception in this case. I am pleased with the coat so far and don't want to ruin it by rushing. I am glad I have allowed myself some thinking time so that I could decide on loops, for example.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Red Side

I have now finished the red side of the coat to the same stage as the striped. I have a few photos from the construction that I think I missed on the striped side. The first photo shows the wrong side of the front with the princess seam press open.
front seam
I press seams open first, even when I am flat felling them, because it makes for a flatter finish. On a princess seam, there is extra fabric on the side front piece that has to be eased (blended) into the other front piece. That is one reason why I have trimmed the seam allowance on the main front piece and am using the seam allowance on the side front piece to fold over for the flat fell.
front seam being felled
Here I have folded over a little bit of the seam allowance and am holding it down with my left hand (taking the picture with my right of course). I have a fair bit of fiddly work ahead, as I have to fold under this seam allowance at the same time as work in the folds and wrinkles and not get wrinkles on the right side when I am done sewing.
finished back red
I am pleased with the way the finished seams look on the right side or outside of the coat, especially on this plain red side. It's hard to see in this photo, sorry.

I am still stewing about the buttonholes and reversibility of this coat. I went on the internet to look for anything related and only found stuff about what I already knew. I have a reversible coat that I didn't make and it uses loops and buttons on both sides. Because of the loops, when you button it up in either configuration, the buttons end up on the left side. I am thinking I will make buttonholes using a patch method shown in my couture sewing book (from the folks who bring you Threads publications) and just put up with having the buttons on the "wrong" side (the right hand side, the way men's stuff is buttoned). This will mean I have buttons sewed on top of buttons but I guess I can cope. I'm still stewing. Maybe I will make a couple of tote bags while I think about it.

However, next I will sew the two halves together a the neck edge with the collar and see how it hangs after that. I won't sew down the fronts because I want to leave my options open for loops or other fastenings.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Here is the collar, still not turned right side out:
collar inside out
I have folded it in the middle so you can see both ends and the contrasting sides. I have also interfaced both sides of it.
striped side unfinished
After I attached the sleeves to the shoulders (I will sew up the underarm seam all at once), I hung up the coat to have a look at it. The stripes are maybe a little - mattressy, pyjama-like perhaps? Maybe they should have been bolder? I was thinking that I would alternate every time I wore the coat so it would get even wear but now I am wondering if I will prefer the red side out with the striped side as the accent. Just musings at this point - when I get the whole thing put together, I think I'll have a better idea.
shoulder seam being felled
After I took the photo of the coat as it was hanging up, I folded over the shoulder seam allowances to finish them in the usual flat fell. You can see in this photo that the front piece is interfaced and I have finished the shoulder seam in a modified flat fell. Now I just have the underarm seams left, which I will finish in a modified flat fell. Once that is done, I will put the red side of the coat together to the same stage the striped side is.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Getting started with seams

Yesterday, I got the main body seams on the striped half of the coat finished. I figured I would do the stripe first as the white and the pattern would be more forgiving of error. By the time I sew the red half of the coat, I will be better practised at it, especially around the pockets. There are princess seams where the side back and side fronts attach and for those, I folded the seam allowance over and sewed the seams down in a proper flat fell.
coat back assembled
In this photo of the back, you can see I balanced the centre back seam with a modified flat fell, while the side back seams are the true flat fell.
pocket linings
There are pockets on the front side seam. I cut out four pieces of lining that I had left over from some other projects - plain white for the striped side and red for the red. I am hoping the fact that there will be two pockets on top of each other will not make that section of the coat bulky.
striped pockets
I have both front sections on the ironing board. The far one is wrong side up with the pocket folded over.

I have decided to sew the collar by itself and attach it when I sew the coat together at the neck. I have been stewing over how to do the collar and I was going to attach each piece to each half and then sew round the entire perimeter. But now I think this will be neater and as a plus, I will have the neck edges sewn together firmly.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The layout and the cut

matching stripes
I knew I had bought an uneven stripe (it looks different from right to left) so I thought about how I could make the striped side of the coat look better than the little blouse I just finished with the uneven stripe. I decided to fold the fabric width-wise so that the stripes would line up on the matching pieces (i.e. that two fronts, the two side fronts, etc.). This would not work if the fabric had any nap because then the nap on one front would be opposite to the nap on the other. But with cotton twill, there isn't any nap so I think I am safe.
There are eight main pieces to the body of the coat - two fronts, two side fronts, two backs and two side backs. Here, I have pinned three of the four pattern pieces to the fabric and the fourth piece is off to the left. The fabric is wider than the table because I have folded it along its width. Usually, you fold a fabric along its length. So when I cut out the four pattern pieces, I will get the eight coat pieces.
squaring sleeve bottom
Here, I have made the bottom of the sleeve piece square by measuring the bottom and then measuring up on the body of the sleeve and drawing lines down to make the same measurements line up. In this way, I will be able to hem the sleeve to the proper length without worrying about trying to ease a smaller bottom edge into a wider body of the sleeve.
collar pattern pieces
On the shirts I have been making, the top of the collar is cut with the same pattern piece as the bottom of the collar. In this pattern, the underside of the collar is a slightly different shape from the top and it is supposed to be cut on the bias. Because I am trying to make the coat equally reversible, I am going to cut the top and bottom of the collar using just the top pattern piece.
collar cut
Finally, because of the uneven stripe problem that I suffered with the blouse, I decided I would cut this collar with the stripe running lengthwise down it. I am only cutting one because the other side of the collar will be solid red. And that's the same with the front pieces. Normally, you would cut four front pieces and two would act as facings. In this case, I am cutting two red and two striped. I am also going to interface all four fronts and both collar pieces.

A Reversible Coat

Except for sewing on 16 buttons (two shirts' worth), the shirts are done!
Here is his shirt. Note the straight hem so he can wear it untucked.
his shirt
Now I am on to my reversible coat! I just hope it works. I am using a brand new, untested pattern and I am improvising because it is not supposed to be reversible.
coat pattern and fabric
It's McCall's pattern 5060 and I'm going to make view A, the single-breasted shorter model on the far right but without the belt. I bought two lengths of cotton twill - one in a nice bright red and the other in a stripe (Ack! more stripes!). And sorry about the ironing board cover being so stripey too - didn't think about it much when I got the new fabric.

I plan to make two coats without the lining piece and then sew them together around the perimeter (collar and front edges). Each coat will have the opposite colour collar attached to it so that when you wear it, the same colour will be folded down on top of the collar. In other words, the underside of the collar will have the opposite colour on it. It will be clearer as I get going, I hope. I have also decided to make the sleeves a normal length instead of making them longer and having the opposite colour turned up. Because I usually have to take sleeves up, I am also going to make the bottoms of the sleeves straight so I can cut off the excess there and not worry about trying to make a hem with a slanting underarm seam. Hmm - this will also be clearer as I go.

I'm going to make the small pockets in the front princess seams as the pattern calls for. I'm going to sew the ends of the sleeves together but I'm going to leave the bottom hem hanging freely. The only thing I can't seem to properly conceptualize is the buttons. I have a reversible coat but it uses loops and buttons on both sides and I want to make buttonholes. I may have to end up buttoning the coat one way with red and the other way with the stripe.
pattern pieces
Here are all the pattern pieces. I've ironed them now and will start the layout next.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Rushing to the end so I can start the coat!

His long sleeves are designed to look like a two-piece sleeve and so the seam is positioned at the back. There is only the one seam but because it doesn't line up with the underarm seam on the body of the shirt, I can't do what I have been doing which is to sew the shoulder seam first and then do the underarm seam including the sleeve all in one go. I have to sew up the underarm seam and sew up the sleeve and then put the sleeve onto the shirt the hard way, which is to say, the old-fashioned way.

Since I have to make the sleeve before I put it on the shirt, I also make the cuff. Here, I have put the pattern instructions under the cuff so I can see which way to make the pleats at the bottom of the sleeve go (they fold away from the vent on the right side of the sleeve). I have the right side of the sleeve facing up in the photo. I am going to sew the cuff to the wrong side of the sleeve first (as I did with the collar) and then fold over the other, long edge and machine sew it to the sleeve.
cuff pleats
In the next photo, I have sewed the cuff to the sleeve and I have sewed the ends of the cuff together. Then I have turned it right side out and am starting to pin the folded edge over the stitching line on the right side of the sleeve. I can tell it's the right side because the vent is finished. I also positioned the wrong side of the other end of the cuff under the main end so you could contrast them.
I sewed the folded edge close to the stitching line with the zipper foot. In the next photo, I have sewed a line of topstitching all around the cuff on the right-hand side of the photo and have yet to finish the left-hand cuff. You can also see that I missed making the stripes line up perfectly on the two cuffs by a few threads. If he never holds his hands out together, you might not notice. :)
cuffs matched
In the meantime, I finished my little shirt except for sewing the buttons on. (I know the stripes don't line up but it was an uneven stripe and I was cutting it like a remnant so I wasn't going to fiddle with it.)
my seersucker shirt
So now I have to put the sleeves on his shirt. First I slide the sleeve into the armscye and line up the notches and chalk marks. There isn't a lot of ease to gather (thank goodness) so I just stick pins in all around and sew the thing to the shirt. You can sew around on the inside as shown or go around the outside, it doesn't matter. Just make sure you feel all the way around as you are sewing and make sure no little folds of fabric develop on the bottom layer or that you don't catch some other layer of fabric in the stitching. That can happen easily especially when the fabric is this thin.
armscye sewing
Once the sleeve is sewn to the shirt, trim off one of the seam allowances, preferably the one belonging to the body of the shirt and not the sleeve. The sleeve has more ease in it (except for right at the armpit) and will be easier (no pun intended) to fold over into the flat fell. Then press the seam allowances toward the body.
armscye trimmed
Pinning the flat fell around in a circle is a bit fussy but you just have to be patient and use a sleeve board to help.
sleeve fell pinned
Sewing the flat fell around the armscye is also fussy but again, you have to go slowly and, as I show here, gently pull the extra fabric away from the spot where you are stitching so folds and tucks don't get sewn in.
sleeve fell
Here's what the finished flat fell looks like on the outside of the left sleeve. You can see the edge of the pocket too.
sleeve fell finish

Monday, May 15, 2006

Back to the seersucker shirts

On my side seams, there is also a vent at the bottom. In the next photo, I have pressed open the seam and have folded the seam allowance at the top of the photo over the make the modified flat fell. Both seam allowances will get folded over and stitched down. I also decided to make vents on the bottom of Peter's shirt, as I cut it straight across the bottom (instead of making tails) and he will wear it untucked.
side seam
His shirt has a yoke across the back. I have sewed it on to the main back piece and to the front pieces at the shoulder on the outside. Now I have to fold under the seam allowances on the front shoulder edges of the yoke and then sew the folded edge to the rest of the shirt to enclose all the raw edges within the yoke.
Here, I have taken the two fronts after topstitching the yokes. On the right-hand side is the inside or wrong side of a yoke. You can also see the pink chalk mark for the shoulder point of where the sleeve will go. On the left-hand side is what the topstitching looks like from the outside.
'yoke topstitching
Both collars are two pieces - the collar and the band. This photo shows his shirt collar, with the stripes running lengthwise with the grain. When I sewed the band onto the collar, I folded under the seam allowance on one side in preparation for sewing it onto the shirt with no hand sewing.
collar and band
In the next photo, I have sewed the band onto the shirt on MY shirt (hence the stripes are running the other way). I haven't pressed the seam yet.
band attached
In the next photo, I am showing HIS shirt with the collar attached by its band but the band facing not yet pinned or sewn to the shirt.
collar assembly
Once I've trimmed the seam allowances (including a tiny bit off the band facing seam allowance) and pressed the seam allowances up into the band, I have to fold the band facing seam allowance under and start to pin it to the shirt along the line where I stitched the band to the shirt. I start at the ends and work my way in to the centre (sort of).
band pinning
Here, I've put a couple of pins in the end of the band and then I've pinned the middle where the band is straight and doesn't need much fiddling or easing. Now I can work between these two anchors and pin the rest of the band facing down.
band pinning 2
Finally, using the zipper foot, I sew the band facing down to the band, getting as close to the fold as possible.
band sewing
Here's the front of my shirt. The pattern calls for the use of bias cut bands to finish the armhole edge for the sleeveless shirt. I have sewed them on to the shirt and am starting to press them out.
armhole facing (bias)
I am using a sleeve board to help with the pressing of the bias bands to the inside of the shirt. Next I will sew the bands down to the shirt, thus encasing the raw edges and giving a nice finish.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Emergency pants repair

May 10 - happy birthday Mum!

We interrupt this shirt to bring you a pants repair. And they are not my mother's pants. It just happens to be her birthday.

There is a small hole in the seat of these pants and it is not in a seam.
hole to  be mended
I knew I didn't have any black denim so I cut a small piece of black pinwale corduroy to fit over the hole.
corduroy patch
I basted it around the edges because I am going to sew from the right side of the pants.
zigzaging from the right side
On the outside or right side, I start zigzag stitching over the hole itself. After I lay in a layer of thread at the hole, I zigzag around the perimeter of where I will trim the patch.
Once I am done sewing around and through the patch, I turn the pants to the wrong side and trim around the edge of the stitching.
Although you can see it is a patch, it is located in a part of the pants where you won't see it anyway unless someone slipped and fell on the ice. And it's summer!