Some time ago Jess asked if I could copy a pair of running shorts in one of the FunkiFabrics patterned lycras. She wears shorts most of the year regardless of weather and these were apparently the most comfortable pair she had found.
I did make the pattern and trial pair before Christmas which were tried and declared a success.
They were made in the most basic way possible (no back pocket and little detail) but I did have some variegated Gutterman thread that I wanted to try out in the looper of the coverstitch machine so they got a tiny bit of interest down the front leg. The main reason for these shorts being chosen as ‘favourites’ was, I think, the crotch gusset which allows for much more freedom of movement than the basic leggings pattern that I have used. The side seam has also been moved slightly forward so I presume this is a position that is less likely to cause friction over a long run.
As I wanted to clear this project before starting the orange waistcoat/jacket, and I thought I could clear it in a couple of hours, I got stuck in and cut into the monster fabric which Jess had requested (and approved when she saw it at Christmas!). The only difference this time was that I was to put in the pocket and anchor all the seams so that they wouldn’t rub.
I have put these pockets in several pairs of leggings now – but not this particular style which was cut in one piece across the back, with another full piece behind it to make the pocket back. I had been sent this tape by Linda from Nice Dress, Thanks I made it! and was looking forward to trying it as a stabiliser in this process. As you can see from the photographs I started by drawing a rectangle with my beloved Frixion pen the size of the ‘hole’ I wanted the zipper to fit into. I then surrounded it with tape before cutting the fabric. Once cut it was easy to fold back the fabric onto the sticky tape and create a perfect hole to fit my pocket. I put another line of tape top and bottom to hold the zipper in place whilst I sewed it permanently. This process was a huge success, no wiggling from the fabric so the pocket was sewn in double quick time. Thanks Linda!
I used plain black lycra to back the pocket, and also on the elasticated waistband.
As you can see I used the triple step zig-zag to anchor the seams this time instead of the coverstitcher. I’m still a little uncertain that this was the right decision. Maybe it is just the black thread, which I decided was probably the best choice given the amount of colours inn this barmy pattern. Anyway, Jess will have to decide if these are OK – and I shouldn’t ever struggle to spot her coming in a group when she is racing in these!
I love the pattern – the little monsters just seem so friendly!
This pattern fitted into 50cm of lycra from Funkifabrics with a little left over which I can probably incorporate into another project.
If anyone wants the details of how I intend to alter my basic leggings pattern to make a pair for myself (I get horribly overheated when I ‘run’ so I want to be prepared for when it gets warmer) let me know, and whilst it wont be until after I do the orange garment I will be happy to email the information – or maybe do a blog post if there is a demand.
One less distraction for now!
Since I put my original post out in blogland with the pattern to make this smock I have probably had more blog hits with this search than any other. Several people have asked for more detail as to how to actually make the smock so with apologies to those who don’t need this I will go ahead. This post is of necessity picture heavy – if you aren’t interested in how to make a smock I will have something else to show soon (but it has been such a success that it needs to be laundered before I can get a photograph!).
So, assuming you have cut out your pieces (remembering to add seam allowances to my pattern) we will make a start. Don’t forget to press as you go.
I prepare the pockets first by neatening the sides (overlocker in my case), and turning 1cm then 3cm the opposite way so it is RS together to get a clean finish on the top edge. The little piece of fabric shows this. Seam the top edge, press and turn through like the right hand pocket in the photograph. Stitch the turning to secure if you want (like the left pocket).
Stitch the pockets into place on the front piece, like below.
Next sew your shoulder seams BUT stop the seam width away from the neck edge. Sew the collar piece into a loop. Press seams open. Neaten the shoulder seams if you wish, and now would be a good time to neaten any other edges that need it.
I place the collar seam at the centre back point and pin the collar to secure whilst I see it in place. By keeping the body sides on top you can spread the shoulder like it is shown in the photograph below and sew the collar seam so that you miss the join by a hairs breadth. This ensures you won’t get a hole.
By working the collar seam in this way you will get a nice smooth finish at the join. If you had sewn the whole seam you always end up with tucks at this point.
Turn under 1cm to neaten the collar edge, then fold the collar in half and catch it in place just in the ditch from the right side. If you edge stitch this just inside the collar it should all be secured in place. Feel free to tack this in place if it will enable you to continue with confidence.
While it isn’t essential I like to stitch around the top edge as I think it gives a neater finish.
Grab the sleeves and pin them into place. Again you must start and finish your seam the seam width away from the sleeve edge. Now, the gusset. This seems to be the part that upsets many people but stay strong. Don’t think of this as something that needs to be sewn all at once, it can be broken down into four parts.
I suggest that you buy yourself a Frixion pen and use it to mark the seams into the corners of your gusset. Use a pin as a guide to pin close to the sleeve/body seam and pin the gusset to the sleeve. Again you need to stop your seam at the corner point marked. Once you are happy you have the gusset correctly attached to the sleeve turn the garment through 90* so that you are able to use the pin again to locate the matching point on the body. You might find it easier to sew from the garment side so you can see where the other stitching starts.
This is what it looks like from the right side at this point….
…. and from the wrong side. Now fold the sleeve right sides together and you will see where the third seam must be sewn. Use the techniques you learned on the first two sides to complete all four sides of the gusset.
Once you are satisfied that the four sides have been sewn accurately you can sew the sleeve and body seams. I tend to sew towards the gusset which enables you to see exactly where the seam needs to join the gusset, make sure you don’t catch the gusset edge in the seam.
Once sewn you can see how the gusset makes a triangle shape in the underarm which allows free movement.
All that needs to be done now is to hem the sleeves and the bottom of the body. I clean finished the sleeves (in the same way as the pocket top) but just turned the overlocked bottom edge as the pockets would have made this very thick if turned twice. Press it all tidy, allow to cool and set up your easel!
I made this smock from cotton twill (the first couple of photos give the best representation of the royal blue colour) basically to show the techniques here. If anyone is interested in buying it from me for £40 + postage please let me know.
I would also be able to create a ‘kit’ containing the pattern and sufficient baby cord shown in my original post in either chocolate brown or a beige colour which would cost £15 + postage. When I work out how it is done I can offer PayPal details.
I hope this answers any questions that people have asked but if you have one I have missed please point it out to me!
For a long, long, time now I have been seeing a particular skirt in a number of blogs and really liked it. I loved Carolyns, Winnies, Ruths, and about a gazillion others I have seen. It is a classic. It is simple. I wanted it.
However, I really didn’t want to buy another pattern for a very simple skirt that probably would need ‘tweaking’ to fit me anything like as well as my basic skirt block from good old Winnie Aldrich. Lets face it, if you have been sewing for any length of time you are going to have a basic skirt pattern that you like – and more importantly, that fits you well.
This skirt is made from the very basic pencil skirt pattern, but frankly any simple skirt pattern you have that fits well would probably work. By tracing a pattern you are happy with you can make your own pocket skirt pattern at very little cost – and save you money for that spectacularly complicated pattern you are coveting! No original patterns will be damaged – you can use your favorite pattern again as it wont be cut – you will cut your copy.
If you are using an a-line pattern then your pieces will look more like my red outside line. Simply decide how deep you would like the top of the pockets to be from your waistband and draw a line at right angles across the front and back from the center lines (Shown in red on my diagram). These lines should match at the side seams. Bearing in mind that you want the pockets to be wide enough to get your hand in through the gap, and deep enough so that things don’t fall out (but not so deep that you have to work too hard to get to the bottom – unless it is your turn to buy the drinks!) draw a square/rectangle of the size required, you can round the pocket corners off later. Cut out another pocket piece.
The pocket pieces are then added – one heading up on the skirt bottom section, and one heading down on the yoke section. I work without adding seam allowances to any of the patterns I make myself so the main thing to remember is to make sure you have seam allowances added to the sections that you actually cut!
Once you have the pattern pieces looking like those above you can go ahead and cut out your skirt. My pattern took just under 1m of 150cm wide fabric, but that would vary according to how long your skirt is. This is a pretty short version.
Once you have sewn the yoke onto the back section, and sewn the front by working a wiggly line around the pockets, you press the seams down (so you can put your hands down into the pockets),and you can go ahead and finish it off exactly as you would have done before you fiddled with the pattern.
The beige cord I used has been in my stash for longer than I dare think about, but it has finally been made into something I will wear frequently (and will probably make other incarnations of too!). I made use of all of my machines on this project – straight seams on Patience while I get my treadle action perfected, zip and other ‘fiddly’ bits on the faithful Pfaff, the overlocker did duty tidying up the seams (I’m afraid to say I didn’t do lovely bound seams like I have seen some bloggers make – maybe on a skirt I don’t need to line), and Molly made the buttonhole. A real team effort!
One of the regular complaints I hear from some of my clients about garments they have purchased relates to the buttons. How they have been sewn on to a garment isn’t something many of them think about until it is a difficulty for them. I recently resewed all of the buttons on a coat that were too tight to fit through the ‘turn of cloth’. That made me realise I have another ‘tool’ I use regularly that isn’t really a sewing tool – but is an essential part of my box. Step forward – the toothpick.
This little gem can be used built up to as many ‘picks’ are necessary to make a stalk behind you button long enough to accommodate the cloth. So simple, but another ‘You use what?’ moment for some of my friends.
I am very happy with my skirt. But, you know I did this adjustment to save buying and fiddling with another new pattern? I have been attending a kettlebell class at my gym and I have lost 1.5″ off my waist and ended up having to take the skirt waistband in! I’m not complaining, but honestly……
P.S. I was reading another blog today (Hi Robyn!) and read a fantastic quote which I have to share.
She said ‘Stash is like compost – it fertilizes your mojo, but it’s better if you turn it over once in awhile’.Love it! Robyn makes some fabulous garments – if you aren’t familiar with her work go have a look!
Whats difficult about that I hear you say? NO problems with that exercise. Though sometimes the fabric doesn’t want to feed evenly when you turn that corner. So I give you….. the beer mat solution.
By putting a beer mat (free from most public houses – just buy a drink!) behind the fabric, to support the foot, the feed dogs work well and can feed your work evenly through the machine without that ‘bunched thread’ that sometimes happens when you try to do this. It also helps when crossing a seam that has lots of bulk.
The mats can be stacked up to the height needed to cope with whatever thickness your work is – and they are kinder to your needle if you happen to catch them than a commercial ‘hump jumper’.
And the commercial product (the grey gizmo on the left) is no good for putting your end of day reward on!
Do you have any ‘non standard’ gadgets in your work space that you couldn’t do without?
Sometimes I think my clients think I have elves, or a magic wand, or something similar. Recently one of my ladies brought me this lovely dress – with a bit of a problem:
Thankfully the damage was at centre back rather than front – but still in a critical position. Whilst like this the dress was totally unwearable, and with unshakable faith my client left it with me ‘because I know you will be able to do something’. Oh dear. I left it to mature for a couple of days, I did other jobs, I sharpened all the pencils, I dusted the workroom. That was the cue to say that nothing worthwhile was going to get done whilst this waited.
Perched on the pressing ham to keep the lining out of the way the damage looked awful. I threaded up a number of needles and started to ‘connect’ the bits that were still obvious. And then I checked out the surrounding area to get guidance for what to do next. It was impossible to reconnect all of the lace as it was originally as it was so badly torn but I worked slowly and as methodically as I possibly could. The repair is really just lots of chain/bar tacks holding everything together on faith and prayers but as my dad would have said ‘It looks fine to a man on a galloping horse’. I think it could possibly bear closer (but not really close) scrutiny. She comes for it on Monday – I hope she will be happy.
I hadn’t considered doing any ‘tutorial’ type posts – and I am still not certain that I should – but I had a comment by someone who was having problems turning their rouleau and thought that having made what seems like miles of this spaghetti over the past few weeks I would share my method. I don’t say that it is the right way, certainly not the only way, to make it – but it is the method I have used successfully for a long time. If only one person is helped by this then it is probably worth it – if you feel I am trying to ‘teach my granny to suck eggs’ I apologise.
First step is to put the cat out – even if he is a neighbours cat and shouldn’t really be in at all!
Next cut your strips on the cross grain. I use a very lazy method of cutting a true cross using a book or magazine to get a 90° angle, and then cut strips 4 or 5cm wide. This does mean that you end up cutting away an excess after sewing – but I can’t imagine trying to sew using strips just wide enough to turn through.
Fold the strips in half and find a guide mark on your machine foot that gives the width you want to sew. DON’T SEW THAT DISTANCE ALL THE WAY DOWN! Start off a little away from the guide line so that you sew a ‘funnel’ shape at the very top – this will help you to start the turn. Then sew another line close to your first line of stitching. I think that this helps you to turn more easily, prevents the seam from bursting out along the tube, and also fills the tube nicely so it isn’t too flat.
Once you have done the sewing, press gently and trim away the excess close to your seams. If you now cut the funnel (which will look like the one on the left in the photograph) into a point (like the right) it is easier to turn through. Push the rouleau turner into the narrow end, pushing until it pops up through the funnel. I like to try and save an edge that has the selvedge to it, if you catch that edge with the hook on the turner it is less likely to pull through the edge of the fabric half way through the turn. Ask me how I know. I also like to get the turn started and try to get as much fabric pushed up onto the wire turner just in case it does break part way, that way I can get the leading end out through the hole as quickly as possible and lessen the risk of losing the piece. Unless you need to have a long piece for spaghetti straps I prefer to make several shorter lengths which are less likely to go wrong.
I have made bodices which needed lacing to match the fashion fabric and by far the easiest way is to make your own. It probably takes less time than trying to find a ribbon to match.In this case I use the length of the fabric to cut a strip before I cut out the garment so I don’t need to join it and risk it breaking when worn. As these tubes are wider I find it easier to use the ‘bodkin’ style turners which have an eye that can be used to sew it (securely!) to the end of the tube (with the ball inside) which makes it easy to turn. Once turned you can put on some good music and spend an age with your iron and pressing clapper making it look like tape.
I hope that explanation is clear- it is late and I have been sewing all day. If anyone would like me to clarify anything please ask – I am sure I could have been clearer but at the moment I can’t see where.
I am getting to the point where the work pile is hill sized rather than mountainous now – I am looking forward to being able to have a complete day off soon!
Happy sewing everyone.