Tuesday, 25 August 2015

More Pfaffing .... Experiments in Texture & Free Motion Embroidery

I still had some fabric scraps left over from the earlier strip patchwork bag I made, so decided to make another tote bag but this time to experiment by wadding the bag lightly & having a go with the free embroidery foot on my new Pfaff Expression 3.5.  The highly recommended free embroidery capabilities of the Pfaff were the reason I chose it over the Husqvarna I was originally about to buy (that & the excellent offer at Sewing Machine World!!)  

I randomly embroidered sections of the bag which I had assembled by the strip & quilt method & am pleased with the effect.  If you look at the lining, you can see my attempts at free embroidery more clearly!

I know this is pretty amateurish, but the free motion on the Pfaff is amazing & I am looking forward to improving!


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Upcycled Vintage 50s Border Print Dress

When is a sheet not a sheet?  When it has been upcycled into a 50s style border print dress.

This "No Iron Muslin Tastemaker made in USA for JP Stevens & Co Inc" sheet was so pretty that it has been sitting in the craft cupboard for a couple of years awaiting transformation.  It has a lovely border print of swirling flowers in aqua, green, blue & mauve so was always destined to be a 50s style frock.  

I am drafting lots of my own patterns these days using instructions from booklets in my vintage sewing library.  I was influenced by some 1950s "And So to Sew" booklets produced by the Needlework Development Scheme in Glasgow and used these as inspiration for the dress.  The skirt was simply the width of the border section of the sheet cut to length.  I have noticed that in lots of the 50s dresses coming into the charity shop the pockets are placed almost on the sides of the skirt (some are even placed diagonally, will try that next time) so I made sure to put the pockets near to the side seams of the dress. 

Buttonholes on the Pfaff are simply magic and it was a good excuse to use some of my vintage buttons (many found by my Dad the Buttoneer!) - these pretty aqua buttons have a frosted appearance.

I haven't done any dressmaking for a long time, mainly concentrating on my needlecrafts (handbags, upcycled tops & skirts etc), but now I am the proud owner of my lovely Pfaff sewing machine & Juki overlocker I decided to attempt a dress.  The combination of the two machines really works for me, even though I am still getting my head round constructing garments using an overlocker (serger).  

Saturday, 22 August 2015

How to Rework a T Shirt with a Vintage Scarf Front

I have seen some great tops this year (mainly in Monsoon & Oasis) which have scarf fronts & knit backs.  & I have seen lots of photos on Pinterest which say how easy it is to do this yourself.  WRONG!  It isn't so easy, but I'll share with you the stitching problems you are likely to face & how I worked around them.

I chose this old T shirt top (which had chiffon type sleeves) as I haven't worn it in ages.  I always recommend that for your initial upcycling projects you stick to garments which you won't cry over if it all goes drastically wrong!  

1. Cut away the front leaving approx. 1.5cm of the "old" front still attached to the seams, including the neckline.  This results in a sort of "skeleton" front shown below

2. Use the front as a pattern to cut out the scarf top.  Allow 2cm all round for seams & adjustments.  NOTE you may find, as I did, that the original top is not cut "square" & that one side is differently shaped than the other.  I made the mistake of deciding to try to "square" the top up by cutting the new front exactly the same on each side.  This led to issues with the hemline so I would recommend you stick with the shape of the piece you have cut away, even if it seems a bit wonky!!

3. First, I overlocked the neckline (with the new Juki!).  Then I overlocked down each side seam - I figured that a bit like sewing curtains, it would be best to stitch the side seams in the same direction.  I had a bit of an issue with the hem of the original T shirt being a bit "out" due to my cutting as described above but was able to rescue it.

4.  The end result.  And guess what?  It is too small!  I had forgotten that replacing a stretch knit with a satin with no "give" would make the top smaller!!!  Doh.  So learn by my mistakes fellow stitchers xx  (PS Juki overlocker is still a dream, it made absolute mincemeat of the jersey of the T shirt, even where I went over the original thicker seams, it is such a little workhorse).

The more upcycling I do, the more I learn that manufactured garments are not stitched together perfectly, evenly or exactly!  The worst offenders have to be 80s full long floral or patterned skirts - the hems are never ever even so if you are shortening & measure from the hemline you are likely to get a wonky hem.  But I feel it is important to share the disasters as well as the triumphs so that we can all stitch & learn together.


Saturday, 15 August 2015

Reconstructed Infinity Scarf

My Juki overlocker is fast, that is, it sews like the clappers .... so trying to learn to manoeuvre it successfully without the unintended deconstruction like the top in my previous post is a challenge .... here I sliced up a damaged vintage scarf & joined the sections to create an infinity scarf & then roll hemmed the edges so that I had a good length of hem to stitch.

More than surprised that this ragbag-ready scarf looks so nice now all the holey bits have been cut away & it has been slenderized! x

Friday, 14 August 2015

Vintage Scarf Tops & The Novice Serger

 OK, I know that an overlocker (serger) is not high on everyone's list of priorities, but I have wanted to get one for ages.  I am all about upcycling, especially vintage scarves, and knew that I could only achieve the finish I wanted on my upcycled scarf garments with an overlocker.  So a few weeks ago I bought a Juki overlocker.  This week I went for my free intro lesson at Sewing Machine World in Kings Lynn and learned how to do my holy grail of sewing - the rolled hem!  The above little bias cut top made from a vintage silk scarf is my second attempt at rolled hems & garment construction using my overlocker.  My first attempt went a bit wrong & ended up (unintentionally) grungy, slouchy & deconstructed :

I think I have just about rescued it though with some gathering at the front & a gorgeous vintage button.  I have learned that you need to think through the construction process carefully as not all the edges can be successfully rolled (overlocked) after the seams have been stitched!  You will see that my attempts at rolling the back neckline resulted in me cutting more & more from the neckline until the back really plunges:

... oh well, remember that grunge aesthetic?  But I was pleased to bits with how the armholes & hemline went "lettuce" frilled:

The second top was made from just one vintage scarf & is a bit smaller, but still fits my size 12 mannequin well, just a bit more of a cropped style.  This time I rolled the back neckline before sewing the seams.  I guess I won't be working in any clothing manufacturing companies any time soon, but still happy with my first attempts! xx

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