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Topics - Elnnina

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Dress Forms / My dress stand
« on: December 12, 2018, 16:12:45 PM »
I have spent months upon months working on  a princess line sloper, made more toiles than I care to admit to, and with the last efforts, have now padded my dress form out so that she fills the sloper – so no wiggle room – this is deliberate so that I can pin securely into her to get the fit right – oh she is not a pretty sight!!!!

My husband came into my room with a cup of tea and saw what I was doing on the stand and made a comment, why had I not mentioned what I have done on TSP.  So here goes.  On top of my original double made from brown paper parcel tape and moulded to my body – well I have also put on some weight unfortunately, I have several layers of  M&S men’s thermal vests, and in between I have some wadding stitched through to a layer underneath and then covered with a final vest.  As these vests are ribbed, it is easy enough to get a good CB and CF line tacked in place and over this tacking line I have sewn some lead curtain string weights, and left the end dangling but weighted – so these are my plumb lines and I have also got them positioned from the underarms as well – each one carries an extra weight at the  end.  The reason for using these leaded string weights and having them sewn on to the stand is that I can feel the ridges through whatever I am trying to fit.  I have run out of this leaded curtain weight, but intend to get some more and then I will sew these on where the shoulder princess seam is both back and front and also along the shoulder line and probably around the armholes as well

Sewing Machines / ITV's Love your Garden shown 7th August
« on: August 08, 2018, 17:54:53 PM »
Did anyone else notice a turquoise Toyota sewing machine being put in place in the new summerhouse on last night’s programme, and at the very end of the programme when they flash back to seeing how  the person is using the garden - she was using the sewing machine.  Now was this the Toyota Oekaki that Acorn was having all the trouble with?

Fun with Fabric / Linen
« on: July 31, 2018, 11:11:49 AM »
I have just been asked to look at a linen jacket (unlined) that is so comfortable to wear with a view to making a new one.  Where is the best place to go for linen other than Stones Fabrics in Totnes, Devon?  Can anyone help me please?  Thank you so much.

Sewing Machines / Sewing machines out of doors
« on: June 29, 2018, 14:42:34 PM »
A couple of times I have read recently about people taking their machines outdoors in order to sew.  May I please give a warning.  I happen to have my instruction manual out for my Bernina Artista - they call this the Sewing Computer, and thought I ought to read the important safety regulations again as I have read somewhere today that again someone was taking their machine outside.

My instruction manual clearly says DO NOT USE OUTDOORS.

So please if anyone is thinking of sewing with their machine outdoors, please go and read your sewing machine manual - after all it is best to be safe than sorry and a hefty repair bill if insects or the like manage to fly into the vents on the machine.

By all means the good old reliable handcrank and treadle machines  are suitable for taking outside if you can carry them, but today's expensive computer driven machines are another matter all together.

Fun with Fabric / Bamboo Jersey
« on: April 15, 2018, 14:56:22 PM »
Please can anyone help me in my search for some Bamboo Jersey.  I like the sound of this especially as it is gentle on the skin, but I would like to find somewhere that will send a sample.  In particular I am after a white, ivory, cream and perhaps some other colours.  I am also hoping that this lovely sounding fabric will be a bit thicker than the normal single jersey.

If anyone can help in pointing me in the right direction I would be really grateful.  Thanks in advance.

When I saw Twopence on Thursday I happened to mention Bamboo Jersey and the lack of anywhere near here that sells this.  Instead she told me about a place called the Fabric HQ which is a lovely little place set among other craft orientated places at the Bucks Goat Centre near Aylesbury.

So I went out that way to see for myself, and it is a lovely place, I only went to the fabric shop!!!, but I found some knit fabric that is thicker than the normal thin single jersey knit, and generally I was very impressed with their set up.  It was light and airy, plenty of room lots of lovely fabrics, mostly patchwork and quilting, some good haberdashery, some dress patterns not the usual Vogue, Mccalls and Butterick type but others I had heard of but had never seen, Mettler threads, and something called Aurofill which they say is the best thread – but I wouldn’t know, and they do classes in all sorts, and they also do a few dress making fabrics.  However their knit  fabric section was much bigger than other places I have seen, different thicknesses, some patterned and some plain,  I also spotted and bought some Mary Ellen’s  Best Press which is a Clear Starch and Sizing Alternative.

They have a a website  and are found on facebook –, on pinterest – pinterest,com/fabrichq, on twitter – and on instagram –

So whilst other places around us here in Bucks., are closing down  it is nice to know that there are other places opening up.

Sadly I must say that Just Sew that was over in Northwood, Middlesex, has now closed down completely.  Such a shame as I had bought some very nice fabrics over there since I discovered them a couple of years ago.


Someone was asking about adding just a ¼” seam allowance which apparently is what is used in patchwork and quilting.  There is a nifty little gadget called Quilters Wonder Wheel which is  made of brass, so a tiny wheel with a hole in the middle in which you insert a pencil and then position the wheel against your pattern/template edge and just draw around the shape you need, excellent on curves and on straight lines.

It is a product from the USA and I found mine years ago in a quilting and patchwork shop that has now long gone.    From the packaging I will say this is one that was marketed by W.H. Collins, Inc. in the USA.

Just one of those many useful haberdashery items that we see from time to time and buy because we can see a use for this.

Fun with Fabric / Help please - Sewing on knitted fabric
« on: December 17, 2017, 15:43:04 PM »
Oh it is a very long time since I sewed using knitted fabric and then it was on a straight stitch machine.

So why is it now the week before Christmas and I need something made in a hurry, so my question is what is the best way to stitch the seams on a knit top – down to thighs, set in sleeves and a cowl collar?  Think this is single knit as the edges are curling.   I have various stretch stitches on the sewing machine and also the superb triple straight stitch, but that is a tiny stitch and a so and so to unpick if unpicking needs to be done,  I also have a super overlocker.

I know that some of you say whizzing a knit up on the overlocker is a doddle and so quick, but then what have you used, four thread or three thread?  Next what about pressing, I don’t want signs of seams showing through, and I am proposing shoulder princess seaming, so if I use the overlocker then the seams need to be pressed to one side i.e. towards the centre front/centre back.  I will probably use the triple straight stitch for setting in the sleeves as I know around the armhole is the most likely place for any seam to pop.  Next question have any of you used a stretchable interfacing?  I have some from Michele Pye, but as you can guess this will be the first time I have used this.  Have you used some sort of tape on the shoulder seams to stop these from stretching?

Again looking at the various stretch stitches  on  the sewing machine some look as though they are going into the seam allowance, so what about pressing these?

I have a length of some very nice knit fabric in the washing machine at the moment just in case it decides to shrink, but any help anyone can give me would be much appreciated.

Hand Sewn / Hardanger fabric
« on: November 01, 2017, 17:29:18 PM »
Can anyone please tell me where I can get some red Hardanger fabric, would be nice if I could find some dark blue and a Christmas green as well, or am I expecting too much.

I have the tiniest piece of red that came on a New Stitches magazine years ago and this was for a Christmas decoration, and it is so nice that I would like to make some more in the red and perhaps wishful thinking in a dark blue and green.  The stitching is in gold and I do think it would look nice having more than just one decoration.

Thanks in advance for any help.

I have some of the  Sure-fit Designs Pattern System, and guess what has popped up through my e-mail box this morning. News of an essential new gadget

This is called a Line Drafter, for crafting, quilting and dressmaking, and it is a clear wide plastic ruler type gadget with a secure handle on it so when you put pressure on the handle the ruler is going to stay in place and you can draw, or rotary cut safely.

Surefit Designs now have a UK Rep Judith Johnson and she is in Bicester, Oxon, and she has these in stock.  Do go and have a look at the Sure-fit Designs UK website. I am off to use my flexible friend credit card!!

I do remember a few months back there had been a reference to something like this that Quiltysisty had been using, and it did look like a good idea, but expensive.  Yes this new line drafter is again quite expensive but is available here in the UK.  Think I am going to be ordering one as I can see many uses for this.  Have just been told that I can have one for Christmas!!!  and I bet he will find uses for this as well.

I have a huge amount of old dressmaking patterns that were never mine.  They belonged to a friend of mine who has since passed away.  Most have been used, and this lady was very particular as to how she folded up her pattern pieces.  In total there are 52 assorted patterns, Simplicity, Butterick, Style, one New Look, and one McCalls, with 7 being unused.  At a guess I would say they are possibly 70’s and 80’s, maybe a few going into the 90’s.

So my question is would anyone be interested in this bumper bundle, or should I just take them to the nearest Charity Shop.  These patterns fill a chest freezer basket

I know some of you will say please put up photos, well I have never managed to work out how to do this.

In the wardrobe / Feeling Cold? alter a men's Thermal Vest.
« on: September 04, 2017, 15:25:10 PM »
I really feel the cold and living in a 100 year old cottage with solid walls when the fabric of the building gets cold it really does get cold – a bit like today, it is warmer outside than inside. Quite often in the deepest/darkest winter the temperatures up here in the Chilterns is considerably lower than in the lower towns and villages, and of course I live on top of a hill!

I am a generously sized person, and find that lacey thermal vests are far  too skimpy, so my answer to try and keep warm is to wear Marks & Spencer’s men’s thermal vests – the tee shirt type  as these come a long way down right down to the top of my thighs.  However I am not keen on the traditional tee shirt neck.  So I have doctored them and they are a great success.  So if you too feel the cold, why not try these.

The alterations I have made are as follows.  Carefully unpick the neck band, and once off the vest, open up the joining seam and give a good stretch pressing with the iron.  I then cut the neckband in half, along the original fold line,  make a neat little join and then fold this much narrower length of neckband in half.

Next I mark about 5/8” down from the original neck on the vest, and cut this away.  Then take the new neckband and cut to around 30” or 75cm long, make a tiny seam so that the neckband is in the round. To make it easier to handle I fold this narrower strip in half so  it is now probably 5/8” wide and run the sewing machine around the edge, this helps hold it all in place.  I then apply this to the vest, another row of machining stretching as I go, and then overlock this, and finally a final row of machining on the right side of the vest so close to the neck band it keeps it all in place.  The finished neckband is now about 3/8”  so a very nice finish to the garment.

Over the years I have noticed that M&S have changed the rib style of these vests and also the neckband material – once it was a rib neckband.  I find that by only cutting off 5/8” is adequate for me and gives a lovely scoop, not too low, and because of the length of the vest I do not get any draughts around my middle, they stay tucked in all the time.  Of course nobody but myself knows what I am wearing under a sweater and I keep nice and warm.

Following on from a brief mention of a sloper I am trying to use – Connie Crawford’s Shoulder Princess seamed top, after months and months  of messing about trying to get this right for my body, I think I have finally cracked it.  Lost count of how many sheets of tissue paper and  the amount of calico used.  However imagine my elation last Thursday when I asked Twopence to just check my tissue fitting, it is looking so good, and I really am grateful to Twopence for coming and patiently pinning the back of my half tissue garment to my already marked with CF and CB ‘fitting T’.  Where I have been going wrong in the past is to have I think the garment too loose, but this time I have followed Marta Alto’s instructions in Full Busted, and have this fitting much closer than I have ever  done  before and what a difference.  So I am going to venture into my enormous stash and find some fabric, and get this ready for next Thursday when I see Twopence again when we go to hydrotherapy together.

I have my tissue pattern draped on my body double, that is already marked up with strings of curtain weights  marking the CF and CB and side seam, and I can see  clearly just how much weight I have put on since this body double was made.  So another job of getting my box of wadding out of the loft and padding her out more to fit this tissue fit, and see where I go from there.  It is also showing up the importance of the grain being in the right place and hanging straight down and not swinging to the right or left.

I have also ‘transplanted’ a self drafted armhole that I like and feel comfortable in onto this pattern as I found the armhole on the sloper pattern was far too low for me and also it did not come over enough to where the armhole should be on me, I cannot stand seeing an armhole coming part way over the bust area – it just looks horrible.

Once I have made this up in fabric, I am hoping then to be able to change details like adding collars, adding cuffs to the sleeves, or in fact making long sleeves, now I have the shoulders and neck in the right place I am hoping this will open up all sorts of opportunities for me to create different garments but keeping the shoulder princess line.  Then I will turn my attention to the armhole princess line sloper that is waiting for me start working on this.

For those of you that are having fitting problems, especially if like me you have far too many lumps and bumps in places we wish we didn’t have, then do go looking at these Connie Crawford Slopers, I believe only available in the USA, but paper dress patterns seem to come through to the UK without attracting any Customs.

The details of these two patterns are Shoulder Princess  CS1301 Miss sizes 8 – 20 in cup sizes as follows:  A/B, C/D/DD(E), (DDF/G)& H/I.

Woman sizes 1X to 6X and the cup sizes listed above.

Armhole Princess CS1302 in the same categories as the pattern above.

Have a look on Connie’s website ‘Fashion Patterns by Coni.’

I already have the Fit for Real People book, and the Full Busted DVD by Marta Alto, and I must have nearly worn the DVD out the amount of times I have played this.  Towards the end of the DVD Marta is tissue fitting two ladies that are rather amply built, she is using two different patterns, one is what Marta calls a side panel Mccalls Palmer Petsch pattern no, 5335, and she uses a ‘Y’ dart on the main front pattern piece, and the other is McCalls 5242 which has shoulder princess seam.  Whilst both these patterns are now out of print, it is possible to find them in the USA in an uncut/factory folded condition. So I religiously followed Marta as she fitted the shoulder princess pattern, and seeing just how close fitting  to the model she was going encouraged me to do likewise and this has really worked especially for my shaping.  I really would encourage anyone who is well endowed and needing a FBA and having problems fitting, to buy this DVD, it really is worth every penny, you can stop and start as many times as you need, it really is like having a one to one with Marta in your own home, and I found that by following her step by step on the sloper pattern I was trying out has worked.  I did trace off my original sloper pattern so that original is intact and it is just as well I did the amount of times I have started over.

I cannot put up any photos as I just do not know how to do this, perhaps one day Twopence will show me.

Patterns Discussion / Straightening fabric which is off grain
« on: August 29, 2017, 16:15:11 PM »

I have a bolt of American Muslin  called  ‘Wide Perm Press Muslin’ so it is 90” wide which I have bought to use for toiles.

Yes it is lovely having it so wide, BUT I have a problem of the grain being off and not just a little.  I have tried tugging it from corner to corner to no affect.

So my question is this,  I am using this for toiles, and really need the grain on this muslin to line up with the grain lines on my pattern pieces.  If I line up my grain on the muslin with the grain on the pattern tissue, is this going to hang askew?

Please does anyone have any other ideas how to correct the skew on this.

I am rather well endowed with many unwanted lumps and bumps, and trying to get a decent fitting basic top is proving problematical.  In desperation I have been working on a Connie Crawford Sloper pattern for a shoulder princess seam - this sloper was featured in Threads Magazine December 2013/January 2014 and called ‘ Add a Princess Seam’ and the article refers to two of Connie’s Slopers,  one for a shoulder princess seam and one for the armhole princess seam. Having spent weeks/months with tissue and calico, I think I might have finally arrived at a top that might just be right.  I have my pattern tissue at the ‘tissue fitting stage’ and now need to make a toile in calico.  However I am rather concerned that if I go gaily cutting this out in the American muslin fabric which is so off grain, that with all the many seams on this pattern that something is not going to hang straight and hamper me even further.

Having consulted Claire Schaeffer’s Fabric Guide, she is saying ‘That most fabrics cannot be straightened because they have a heat-set finish, but a few woven from cotton and wool have no special finishes and can be straightened.
To straighten the ends of fabrics with heat-set  finishes, spread the fabric on a rectangular table.  Align the selvages or the lengthwise fold with one side of the table.  Using the table end or cutting board as a guide, mark the fabric end, trim on the marked line.

Hint.  If the end has a large slant and you trim it off you may be caught short on fabric.  Use chalk or a temporary marking pen to mark the straight end.’

So on reading Claires advice, and knowing that my Muslin is called Perm Press does this mean that the muslin has been heat treated, and if so how annoying.

I religiously straighten my fabrics, spending time pulling threads so I can get a straight line to cut on, this can be extremely tedious as the fibres tend to break.

Has  anyone got any advice on this?  I really would appreciate their help.  Thanks.

In the wardrobe / Fitting Trousers
« on: May 31, 2017, 12:17:34 PM »

For all you trouser makers who are having problems with  sort of sagginess under the bottom, Sure Fit Designs who happen to have a blog called ‘Sure-fit Designs Blog’ is addressing this problem this week and has written an article and is using princess seams to cure this problem.  Why not go and have a look – might be just what you need.

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