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Topics - charlotte

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Patterns Discussion / McCalls 8121
« on: September 20, 2021, 10:33:03 AM »
Just bought McCalls 8121. I have a Liberty print moto jacket which I love, but it is linen mounted on mid-heavy weight cotton twill, and the linen is starting to wear at the cuffs, and it's picked up a good deal of ingrained dirt, which I can't get out with gentle washing, but I think it might start to disintegrate in a hotter wash!

In Liberty at the weekend I saw they now do a Tana Lawn oil cloth, so I'm going to have a go at a new version with that (again mounted on a twill).

The last pattern was self drafted but I've put on a little weight since then, so I thought I'd just buy a pattern this time. I've got McCalls 8121, which looks perfect, except I think the zip is on the wrong side! What does anyone else think? My current jacket has the zip on the other side, and all the pattern and RTW pictures I've looked at have it on the other side. I can easily reverse the pieces to have it on the other side, but should I? Am I overthinking it? Is there a 'rule' for moto jackets?

I've decided I need this for my Scotland honeymoon in June, so I've got plenty of time...

Patterns Discussion / Breastfeeding/Nursing Tops
« on: July 28, 2021, 11:41:00 AM »
Any recommendations for top patterns (or dress patterns I could chop off to make a top) for woven fabric that are suitable for breastfeeding. It needs to be dressy-ish, as it's for my bridesmaid, who I have just found out is pregnant (yay!) and due four weeks before my wedding.

I was wondering about covered buttons and buttonloops down the centre front, or a cross over top, but open to all suggestions. I've seen RTW with invisible zips in princess seams covered with ruffles.

My chief bridesmaid will also have a nine month old, so also likely to still be breastfeeding, so I need a top for her too.

They'll be in long tulle skirts and the one who is due four weeks before I will leave her hem and waistband until the week of the wedding, so she can wear it as an empire line or around her waist, depending on what she's most comfortable in. I do want to make her top in advance though, so ideally something with plenty of ease around the bust to accommodate breasts of unknown dimensions. Tops could be tucked in or worn outside the skirt.

Technical Help / Adjusting back waist length
« on: July 19, 2021, 15:19:41 PM »
New Look 6447

I need to remove 6cm+ length above the waistline for a very short back waist. I can't for the life of me work out where I should be removing it.

My initial thought was to split between the bodice and waistband, but I can't work out where on the bodice I should shorten. Obviously it is not a petites pattern, and there are no shorten/lengthen lines. I tried below the notches but the re-drawn darts looked very odd, and when I tried above the notches the point of the darts ended up on the bust line, so that is not right either.

Any suggestions? It's ages since I adjusted a commercial pattern and I think the heat has melted my brain a bit!  :laughing:

A bit of a 'do' / Mother of the Bride Dress
« on: June 09, 2021, 14:35:15 PM »
Because if you're making seven outfits for your wedding, you might as well make eight, right?

This is our inspiration picture:

We're going for green, with a dress with fitted bodice and A-line skirt underneath, possibly New Look 6447, in a crepe de chine silk:

For the lace, I'm looking at this one from Bridal Fabrics, which is more expensive than the lace for my wedding dress, but at least we won't need as much of it!!

Mum wants sleeves on the overdress, so I'm thinking the Trapeze Dress, from Merchant and Mills, with an added ruffle, obviously.

Technical Help / General Fitting Techniques
« on: May 19, 2021, 10:21:19 AM »
I don't often fit others, but I need to fit my bridesmaids' outfits. I have the Craftsy Class 'Sew the Perfect Fit' with Linda Maynard. She fits toiles (or muslins as she calls them) by folding up the fabric on the model, or cutting it and pinning in additional strips of fabric. In Susan Khalje's Couture Dressmaking Craftsy class, she pins out little tucks of fabric, but her model requires very few adjustments. Both seem to just do it by eye, presumably as a result of experience, but both work from the top down.

I wonder how else people fit toiles? Have your methods changed as you built up your knowledge and experience? What reference materials do you use, or did you use when first starting out? Is working from the top down an established method? My instinct would be to start with the biggest problem area, but this is probably wrong!

I have a couple of books (Vogue and Winifred Alrich's pattern drafting one) which illustrate different fit issues and how to fix them, so I suppose one way would be to look up each issue and read up on how to fix it. I could then use the adding or removing fabric methods above to implement these. Presumably, the more often I fix an issue, the less I will need to refer to the book for it in future!

In the wardrobe / Pink Sequined Dungarees
« on: March 29, 2021, 09:42:17 AM »
I was in need of a quick and easy project to take a break from hand-stitching my wedding dress and boost my mojo. Also, my sewing space was in desperate need of tidying, so I thought if I covered it in sequins I would HAVE to tidy it.  :D

My sister-in-law's hen party in July has a 'summer festival' theme (I'm unclear as to exactly what this means!) so I thought I'd work on an outfit for that.

The fabric is from Minerva. It's a mesh, with stretch in one direction, covered in lines of plastic sequins and then a floral fabric printed on top. I've only seen this once technique once before, on an extortionately-priced Liberty 'special base'.

I was a bit put off by the amount of plastic, but as it is deadstock, I felt justified buying it. (Although I am aware that the sustainability/environmentally-friendly-ness of deadstock is highly debatable.)

As I did not want the stretch, I mounted it on a pale pink cotton lawn, which really makes the colour pop. I just machine-tacked the edges (I would usually attach underlining by hand) and it worked fine with this fabric. I also spray-painted my buckles gold.

I used my third-best scissors and cut straight through the sequins. They also went through both machine and overlocker extremely easily. I added 8cm of width so I didn't need any sort of zip/buttons on the sides and added in-seam pockets.

I machine-understitched the facing as far as possible and just left the bits I couldn't reach! The hem is a machine-blind hem.

I was going to say this was a project without any hand stitching, but I did hand-stitch my 'handmade by Charlotte' label to the facing, as I wanted to stitch it in black, and I couldn't be bothered to rethread my machine. Other than that, no hand-stitching, and I completed the whole project in one day. And them cleaned up all the sequins the next morning...

Access All Accessories / Advice for quick and dirty zip
« on: February 24, 2021, 10:09:18 AM »
Any advice for how to sew in a quick and dirty centred zip?

I'm half way through a batch of garment bags and the long zips are a pain. I've been machine tacking the seam closed, pinning the zip over and topstitching from the wrong side, then ripping the tacking open.

My problems are:
- the longest stitch on my machine is still pretty small, it's really tricky to get all the threads out once the back of the stitching is enclosed, and seems to take ages.
- The stitching sometimes 'runs off' so it's not straight on the front, which is fine, but on a couple of occasions it actually ran to the wrong side of the seam so I had to unpick.
Any suggestions? Should I tack and press the seam and unpick before pinning the zip in? Stitch from the right side? I don't really want to hand tack!

It doesn't need to look especially neat and pretty, it just needs to work.

Technical Help / Invisible Strap Ideas
« on: January 28, 2021, 14:25:20 PM »
I'm looking for some ideas for comfortable invisible straps. I want to sew these into my wedding dress, onto the strapless underbodice, which has a sleeveless lace overlay (see picture below). They don't need to be super-strong, just an added layer of security to make sure there is very little weight on the overlay, which is a delicate silk tulle. The inner corselette will be doing most of the work in this respect, these are just an added bonus.

I don't want those plastic invisible bra straps from the noughties, as they get sweaty and gross.

I thought about tulle (I wouldn't need to finish any edges etc.) but I worry that it will stretch, and also may be scratchy. The silk tulle is way too stretchy and the next softest (polyester) tulle I have, although less stretchy, is a bit prickly.

My current best idea is a stretched bias strip of organza. I used these to stabilise the top of the underbodice, and they really don't stretch once you have pulled and ironed them. Cut on the bias, there will be minimal fraying at the edges, so I can just use one strip and it will be pretty much invisible under the tulle.

Does anyone have any other ideas? Or can you think of any drawbacks to my bias organza strips idea?

I did think about underlining the whole overlay with silk organza, but it wasn't transparent enough.

My dress design, so you can see what I am talking about regarding the overlay:

A Good Yarn / Beaded Lace Wedding Shawl
« on: January 18, 2021, 17:57:11 PM »
I don't normally post about my knitting projects here, but I might need a hand hold with this one!!

As well as sewing my wedding dress, six bridesmaids' outfits and 35+ metres of bunting, I have decided I need a huge beaded lace pi shawl for my wedding next year. Assuming we're allowed out and about again at some point before then, it should be a good portable project - although maybe not one for the bus!

The pattern is the Heliotaxis pi shawl by Renata Brenner and the yarn is Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in magenta.

I've got some purpley glass beads on the way, so I've marked all the bead placement on the pattern, cast on and knit to my first bead round.

Access All Accessories / Men's neckties
« on: October 29, 2020, 10:09:50 AM »
Hoping to make these without having to buy anything new or specialist. Any experts out there?

The ties will be made from a double layer of cotton lawn (I'm underlining because it's white and too see-through otherwise). For the interlining, I was thinking of using cotton flannel, as I hope this will give a nice loft. I also have some calico but I think that will be too stiff and thin. Any tips or suggestions?

A bit of a 'do' / Bridesmaids outfits
« on: September 01, 2020, 11:09:11 AM »
I've decided on my bridesmaids' outfits!

Long tulle skirts in these colours (there are six of them):

With a top (any style, each bridesmaid's choice) in Liberty's Wild Flowers:

I'm imagining something like this for the skirt:

With a maternity option (it's good to be prepared!) like this:

(I will make them in reverse order of likelihood of being pregnant!)

Fun with Fabric / Directional print bunting
« on: August 22, 2020, 00:13:51 AM »
So I have this fabric to make bunting for my wedding:
Obviously flowers grow up so ideally I want them all growing from the pointy tip of each pennant towards the twill tape the pennants hang from.

However, this will almost halve the amount of usable fabric as I will be left with six upside-down isosceles triangles for every seven I cut (plus two right angled triangles at each end, which are also unusable).

So do I:
1. Have (almost) half the pennants with upside-down flowers? (It will be hanging from the barn beams and no one will be looking that closely.)
2. Accept that half the fabric goes in the bin?
3. Use some magical better cutting layout that some genius is about to share with me?

In case it makes a difference, the finished pennants are 18cm in width and 23cm long, the fabric is 140cm wide, I have 4.5m and I will use a 10mm seam allowance.

The Haberdashery / Wax Tracing Paper
« on: June 25, 2020, 12:23:08 PM »
I am absolutely desperate for some white wax tracing paper. Yellow would also do at a push. You only seem to be able to buy it in the US... the most reasonable shipping cost to the UK I have found is the $27 from American Sewing Supply but they aren't shipping orders at the moment - I have an order pending with them because there is nothing to tell you this on their website, but I've been waiting since March. I really don't want to pay $50+ for shipping which is what it seems to be from other retailers. I thought $27 was steep enough! I will even accept it folded, which is not ideal but better than nothing.

This is the stuff I'm looking for.

Any ideas?

What lies beneath... / Knitted bralette
« on: June 22, 2020, 09:52:52 AM »
This is probably a bit 'specialist' but I thought I would ask for advice. I'm doing a bralette knit along with my knit night. I thought I might wear it for sun-bathing - I've got a bit of a 1950s fashion vibe going this summer. I would like to add cut and sew foam cups to my knitted bralette and I am trying to work out the best way to do this.  I will draft the cup pattern from the finished bralette and sew those on the machine. I could just hand-sew the cups to the bralette but I was wondering about sewing them to an elastic band and then somehow attaching the whole thing to the bralette.

Any ideas anyone as to what would work best?

In the wardrobe / Troublesome Dungarees
« on: June 18, 2020, 10:25:56 AM »
This has turned into one of those 'everything goes wrong' projects. But instead of running away and crying and chucking them in the bin, I have actually fixed my mistakes, so I am feeling proud of myself, if still a little frustrated.

Having successfully made up the TATB Cleo dungaree dress in a lovely cerise needlecord with a liberty lawn facing

...I decided I wanted some dungaree shorts.

I found an amazing neon Liberty print needlecord from Sewbox and used my trouser block to trace shorts onto the Cleo pattern (I measured where I wanted the crotch seam first, wearing my finished dress, but they're dungarees so it didn't need much fitting). I also redrafted the front to add cutaway pockets, which meant re-drafting the facing. Apparently this is where I made my first mistake. More on that later.

Interestingly, when my fabric arrived, I thought it was printed upside down, as the nap runs in the opposite direction to the print, but apparently corduroy is traditionally worn with the pile going up and it was just radical fashion designers in the 60s who started cutting it upside down. Every day is a school day.

I decided I needed to bind all the seams, so I measured them and drew out a 30cm square on my facing fabric to make a 3m+ continuous 2.5cm wide bias strip... and snipped straight through the middle of it. I'm still not entirely sure how or why this happened. I cut another one.

Sewing started off smoothly enough. I topstitched one inside leg seam pressed the wrong way and had to unpick, but that felt relatively minor. I also sewed the wrong end of the straps closed, so they have slanted edges at the front instead of perpendicular ones. Not really a problem. It was when I got to the side seams, feeling like I was on the home straight, that 'everything' collided.

1. I realised that my Cleo dress fits perfectly if it goes on over my head. You can't do that with shorts. Fine. I had sewn the right side seam but I could use the left seam allowance to add a button placket. I wanted buttons that match the dungaree ones (which I had already put on, so no chance of a whole new set of matching ones) so ended up having to order two more sets of dungaree buckles to get them as I could only find black buttons separately. I repurposed the snipped bias tape square to cut a facing for the placket. I even found a scrap of interfacing the right size in the scraps bin!
2. One of my dungaree buckles seems to be faulty, as it will not 'click' shut to grip the fabric. I could solve this by turning the strap under and stitching (this is what the Cleo instructions say to do anyway, and what I did on my dress), but as I ordered the two extra sets for the buttons I have a working one on the way. Fine.
3. Somehow, I had removed a seam allowance I should not have from the back/cut out pocket facing. This was relatively simply solved by cutting away the top of the pocket. Except I had already bound it so had to unpick all the binding and resew that too. And then I had to do the other side to match, although this was not strictly necessary, due to re-doing the facing for this side anyway because of the new button placket.
4. I realised I needed about 1.5m more of binding. Not sure how I miscalculated that so badly. I think this was when I was closest to tears. Luckily I had enough facing fabric left to make more.
5. When matching up my makeshift button placket, it was about 0.75cm off at the top. I have no idea why. I unpicked the facing from the back and re-sewed it so that it matched the front. This meant unpicking topstitching and understitching as well. By now I just expected everything to need unpicking anyway.
6. My bobbin thread ran out. I looked at the spool and that was nearly empty too, so all that topstitching and unpicking and re-stitching has used two entire 100m spools of thread, which seems excessive some something with essentially five seams.

In the middle of all this I had tidied my seam ripper into not-its-usual-place and spent about 20 minutes wandering around the sewing room, holding the lid, until I eventually found it. I think this coincided with the almost crying.

So now I am waiting for more thread and my buttons to arrive, then I just need to do the buttonholes, apply the buttons and and bind and hem the raw edge. Until then these are joining my practice wedding dress in the 'almost finished, waiting for supplies' pile. I'll cut out something new this weekend. :D

The fabric is quite hard to photograph, but that is because the seams, pockets etc. all blend in quite nicely with the print. And the yellow is more neon than it looks in the picture!

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