Sewaholic Thurlow Shorts

Warning – in this post you’re going to see some reeeeeally unflattering pictures of me in a badly sewn pair of shorts. The most annoying part of this for me, other than having to look at pictures of myself is that they weren’t actually that badly sewn until right at the end. What is it that I’m doing to these Thurlows that causes me to cock them up right at the end?

Anyway.

This is about the least unflattering picture I could share. There are many far worse ones.

I did make a few small mods:

  • Increased the rise by 1″ as I felt they sat too low before. I did this at the lengthen/shorten line around the mid-hip. I now feel they’re pretty much perfect and I’m not at risk of displaying a builder’s bum should I bend or move in any way – this adjusted crotch depth
  • Added a bit more room to the inseam – 0.25″ to each of the 4 seams to increase the crotch depth and to try and stop some of the wrinkles I was getting due to my, er, ample thighs
  • Lengthened the pockets as per Lladybird’s mod on the Thurlow sewalong
  • Took in the centre back seam a bit more towards the top so it followed my hip-waist curve a bit better

I used leftovers from my stash to make these. The navy cotton, which creases like an evil thing is left over from my Minoru Jacket and the black and white gingham from Trev’s Negroni. This is the gingham that keeps on giving as it’s now made a men’s shirt, a pair of boxer shorts for Trev and now my shorts! Love it.

Generally I’m actually super pleased with these despite how they look on me. My welt pockets are better (the welts actually meet in the middle), I have usable pockets, that I can fit a phone in and everything, and the fit is much better – meaning that these shorts have accomplished their purpose as a fitting test.

Pocketses!

So what am I not happy with? Something seems to go reeeeeally wrong when I sew up the centre back seam. Not sure yet if I can be bothered to unpick it all and redo it. I never actually plan to wear these out of the house so I’m not sure if it’s a problem. But look at those welts! Almost perfect.

Also, I had the same problem with running out of waistband that I had on the trousers I made. I’m not sure if the waistband is too small, but I was able to make it work a bit better this time and didn’t have to butcher my fly facing – which incidentally seems too big/wide. I don’t know. I hate not knowing enough about garment construction yet to know where the problem is or the best way to fix it.

Look odd to anyone else?

But yay! I remembered to do the buttonhole the right way round this time.

My welts are by no means perfect, but they are better:

I think my crotch seams match up pretty well?!?

My belt loops however, still suck.

For kicks I’ll share a terrible picture of the back with you, so you can get a feel for how much of a bodge I’ve made. Again.

So there’s weirdness above and below the pockets. Gotta work on that. Or wear a really long top.

But, at least now I’m confident to cut into the nice wool/poly suiting I bought to make some proper smart winter ones that fit me how I want.

I’ve got three other finished makes I’ve got to share and hopefully more, if I can get my mojo back and start something new this weekend.

Anyone else made any shorts? I’m seeing lots of lovely patterns on people’s blogs at the moment so I may have to get over my fear of getting my legs out and make some more!

 

Sewaholic Gabriola Take 2

Ooh this post is long overdue. For some reason I've been putting this one off for weeks despite having worn the finished object numerous times!

The last you saw of this project was a sneak peek of the newly installed invisible zip, done with my shiny new invisible zipper foot. LOVE.

Without further ado, here it is! (Oooh look I have a waist!)

My favourite thing about this second version is that I've managed to avoid most of the mistakes I made with the first one. Behold – no crazy crease at the middle of the centre yoke! It falls so beautifully.

This skirt was made partially to replace a denim skirt I had for years that's gotten a little too worn (and too snug) that had a nice flared shape – it was made of multiple curved panels that gave it a sort of fish-tail effect. It came with a strip of beads that hung from a belt loop on the side. I decided to steal the beads and add a mini belt loop to my finished skirt:

Oooh side panels!

This zip doesn't look too bad from the back! Although what is going on with the shape of my body for it to curve like this?!?

There's a bit of puckering going on with the closures, again. Grrrr. There wasn't quite enough overlap on the waistband for this to work well. Next time, I may length the waistband slightly to make sure there's enough room to add the hook and bar.

I was quite chuffed to see that my seams matched up even at the back by the zip:

Oooh get a close up of my dodgy topstitching on the waistband:

Inside the zip doesn't look too bad:

I french seamed almost all of the inside seams except for the centre front, centre back and the seam where you join the yoke to the skirt panels. I couldn't figure out a better way to do these, so I just zigzagged the edges:

TA-DAH all the insides! With bonus creases as I'd been wearing it :)

But note to self – when french seaming, don't take great big chunks out of your fabric when you're marking your notches. As this happens:

And preferably, trim your first seam before you sew the second – because then you get rogue bits of fabric poking through:

So much skirt! With added beads :)

The skirt is still a bit big in the waist. I'm not sure if it's how the waistband is designed, as it's not curved, or if I should have cut a size 12, but there's a good inch or so extra there that I'm not sure how to deal with.

I'm pretty pleased with how the hem turned out this time. The skirt pieces ended up finishing a much more of a uniform length, so chopping off the excess was much easier. I cut off about 3″ in total I think, before turning the hem by 3/8″ and then 3/8″ again and then stitching.

I decided to use my blind-stitching foot which has an adjustable guide for my edgestitching. I used it for all my topstitching on my Minoru jacket and decided to put it to use here. My machine did struggle a bit with the depth of the fabric I was trying to push through it when it had to go over the seams:

The hem over my centre back seam looks sooooo beautiful! If only all my seams looked like this!

And here it looks mashed again :(

Yay it's beautiful! This is where using the edgestitching foot works out really well:

I topstitched the waistband rather than try to invisibly stitch it. This fabric is a lot heavier than the linen I used for Gabriola #1 so I wanted to make sure it had enough support.

Here's my crappy belt loop! I have to learn how to do better belt loops. I've just done some more on another project and they look awful. Any belt loop tips?

Here's a close-up of the beads!

And finally, showing off some swish! The skirt is very swishy and swooshy – I also nearly tripped on the paving slabs and fell over while trying to twirl enough to get the camera to capture it :)

So there we have it! I've decided that there may be more skirts in my future. But I do need to give dresses a go. I feel very “put together” in a dress. You don't have to worry about matching top and bottom or tying an outfit together. But I don't wear dresses that much at the moment and I have several gaps in my wardrobe I need to fill. I had a bit of a clear out of old/poorly fitting items today and it's highlighted some of the separates I need to replace. The good news is, a couple of these I already have plans for :)

Final question – where do we stand on the beads? Yay or nay? I'm undecided myself but I forgot how easy it is to trap these beads in things. Car doors. Arms of seats on the bus or train… You'll be merrily walking along and then YANK! There's no better way to annoy your fellow commuters when you have to stop and untangle yourself.

I've finished another two projects this weekend I need to share. I had Friday off which was great for making headway on a few things. Tomorrow is a bank holiday but I'm at work as I've got a new starter on Tuesday and it'll be good to have a quiet day to catch up on things.

If you've got the day off tomorrow, I hope you enjoy it!

Tweaking

As threatened in my last post, I did go back a couple of weeks ago and redo some sections of my Sewaholic Gabriola that really aggravated me. I'm pleased I did because as with the small do-over with some of the stitching on my Minoru, I'm much, MUCH happier with the results.

Here's what I did.

Zipper

This is the biggie – it looked awful. I took out the machine-inserted zip I'd put in, and put it back in using a hand-picked method. I did also redo the placement of the hook on the end of the waistband, but that doesn't really look any better.

Before/After:

Not perfect, but better, right? The top part of the zip is awesome – hopefully with practice I'll get better. I used Tasia's tutorial for inserting a hand picked zip and I'll certainly want to do it again on similar garments. I'll probably do it in place of machine stitching in most cases I think.

Plus if you do zips this way they have the cutest little “prick stitches” (if you can't see them, then I did a good job!):

Waistband

In order to redo the zip, I had to take the waistband off, so I could also fix all of the weird puckering it had going on where I hadn't done my hand sewing very well.

Because I'd trimmed my seam allowances after sewing the first time, I had to take a bit more fabric when sewing it on again. As you'll see from the before/after, I don't think it looks too bad now! Instead of hand stitching, I've topstitched the bottom edge to secure everything.

Before/After:

Centre Yoke

Finally, I unpicked the section where the yoke meets the centre front skirt panel to try and get rid of this crazy weird crease. I haven't managed to eliminate it entirely, but it now looks far better.

Before/After:

In other tweaking news, I've finished making the adjustments to my Thurlow pattern pieces so I can cut out my shorts over the weekend. I've only really made two alterations to them so far, which I'm hoping will be sufficient. More news once I've tried to sew them up!

And well done to anyone who guessed that the shiny new toy that arrived in the Gingher tin was a rotary cutter. Here it is:

I look forward to rolling it out (snicker) on some knit fabric in the very near future!

On the subject of knits, I've treated myself to the latest offerings from Colette Patterns – their new Moneta and Mabel patterns and the Colette Guide to Sewing Knits.

This should all go nicely with some newly acquired knit fabric (last time was all stripes – this one mostly birds – what's the deal with that?)

I'm still a little scared of knits. My Renfrew was great as it was a nice stable fabric. These are all super stretchy, like Trev's t-shirt and will be more challenging. But I have need of a summer wardrobe. So I need to get on with it!

I've thought about an overlocker – it would be nice to have one and would potentially save time, but I don't need one right now. Instead, I've decided to spend some of the money I'd put by on new sewing machine feet which will make sewing knits easier, along with other projects too. I've ordered a walking foot, nonstick foot (for sewing on clear elastic etc) and a dedicated edgestitching foot, so I don't have to keep using my blind hem food for the job. I'm determined to give it more of a go with my regular machine and see how I get on first.

Of course this has left me drooling over fancier machines that aren't overlockers.

Some day :)

 

In Pursuit Of Perfection

It turns out it was two months ago yesterday that I purchased my shiny new sewing machine:

I've been busy since then! In that time period I've made:

  • A pair of trousers
  • A knit top
  • Two maxi skirts
  • My coat!
  • A shirt for Trev
  • A basic t-shirt for Trev
  • Some boxers for Trev

That's eight things in around the same number of weeks – not bad! It's funny to notice improvements in different things over that time period. I'm able to cut fabric much quicker and more neatly (although not if it's stretchy knit – woah that was a nightmare); I've gotten the hang of certain feet on my machine so my edgestitching and topstitching is looking much better; my hand basting is better; I've learned how to do invisible zips etc.

None of my garments so far have been without flaws, but I'm spending some time this week fixing a few of things that have irritated me and which are an easy fix. Not that I expect to be able to make something perfect and many of my mistakes I'm able to live with – in several of my garments I wouldn't be able to fix some of the issues – even if I wanted to! But if it's something where a bit of effort to rectify something fixable can make me significantly happier with the garment then I'm going to do it.

For example:

When I showed off my finished jacket at the weekend I shared this picture from where some of the lining had gotten caught when I did the stitch-in-the-ditch phase:

Trev was amazed that I was willing to live with this imperfection and the more I thought about it, the simpler it would be to just unpick that bit and redo it. So I ripped out this bit and two other smaller bits and redid the stitching in those areas.

How so much lining fabric ended up bunched up there I will never know! I'm SO glad I fixed it, for the ten minutes it took.

So what's next? Remember the horrific zip and dodgy waistband on my first Gabriola?

I plan to take off the waistband and take out the zip. I'll then reinsert the zip using a hand-picked method and reattach the waistband – this time I won't slipstitch it – I'll use visible stitching to make it a bit stronger.

I'm also debating unpicking the front of the skirt where it falls weirdly and redoing it – to see if I can eliminate the weird crease. I may decide to not do it, but I think I probably will as it really bugs me. It's probably my most annoying sewing issue so far!

While I love my Thurlow trousers, there's a couple of things I'd like to perfect in terms of fit and it'd be great to practice techniques like the welt pockets again. While I don't have the legs for wearing shorts out in public, I think I have just enough of my Minoru jacket fabric yet to make the shorts view – so I can practice the construction and fitting again on a pair that can be worn kicking around the house and garden as it gets warmer. I've got a zip and hopefully have something suitable for lining fabric lurking around, so I might tackle that in a couple of weeks.

The other area where I need practice is knits! Stable knits are fine, but stretchy knits? Oooh scary. I have everything I need for the Lady Skater dress ready to go, but I've been worried about trying it, particularly butchering the fabric – which is also what puts me off doing some more tops for Trev and myself from the stretchy knit fabric we have is the pain of cutting it.

So… What do you think arrived today? A huge, new cutting mat (that isn't in oppressive green, yay!) and something lovely and special in the tin… Any ideas? :)

Have you ever gone back and redone bits of a project to make yourself happier with it? How do you manage to live with any mistakes?

Sewaholic Minoru – Completed

Let me just start off by saying, I MADE A JACKET!

Phew, just had to get that out of my system, as for all its flaws, I’m very proud of having finished a garment like this. I continue to be amazed when sewing that you start off with what you see in the picture below – a few metres of fabric and a pattern. Plus BRIGHT PINK zips. Let’s not forget those.

Then, one four day Easter Weekend later, we end up with a finished thing! (Plus an extra evening as I couldn’t get it all done by Monday night!)

Be warned, this post is going to be super picture heavy :) But I think this jacket deserves to have loads of photos shown off. So ner!

The pattern is the Sewaholic Minoru – something I’ve always been surprised is only an Intermediate pattern, as with features like a full lining, concealed hood and inner pockets it seemed a lot more complicated. Thankfully, before buying the pattern I was able to take a look at the sewalong which took place a few years back on the Sewaholic blog and was able to assure myself that none of the techniques were beyond me.

This specific version, was intended as a wearable muslin as the fabric was only cheap. I didn’t want to make a basic muslin, as actual coat fabric is so different, a muslin itself might not give the best idea of fit etc. Thanks to having made previous garments though, I know a 14 for my waist and hips at present is my good fit, if slightly loose, while a 12 is a good fit for my shoulders and arms.

Having only made a Renfrew out of knit fabric before, with a Cheater’s FBA, I decided to try and do this jacket properly and include a proper FBA for the front pieces. I needed around an extra 2-3″ of room, so I decided to a 1″ FBA on the pattern piece, to give me 2″ inches extra in total across the bust. I followed this super helpful tutorial by Alana, which shows how to add in the FBA and move the area where there would be a dart, into extra gathers at the neck.

What I hadn’t realised with doing an FBA is that you end up adding room across the whole width of the front piece – essentially widening the waist and hip, not just the bust. If I was to make this again, I’d make a 12 all over, as I’d gain an extra 2″ room from the FBA without needing to cut a larger size. Unless anybody knows how to do an FBA that avoids this?

Ok, so I have lots of info to share, so I’m going to break this post into sub-headings for clarity!

Fabric and sizing

My main fabric is a cotton (I believe gabardine?) that was around £5 a metre from Fabworks. I bought 3 metres of it and had plenty left over. I had considered trying to shower-proof it by using Nikwax or similar, but haven’t done anything with it yet. There’s still time!

My lining, although VERY bright is just a bog standard lining, I believe polyester or similar, also from Fabworks. I bought 3 metres of this also and still have plenty left, despite lining the hood and adding in-seam pockets which required extra fabric.

I had looked at nylon fabrics and mesh linings, but couldn’t find anything I liked to make a waterproof version. As it is, it should still work well for the British spring, summer and autumn!

Size wise, I cut the following

  • Shoulders & arms: 12
  • Waist & hips: 14 (although next time will cut a 12 due to extra room from FBA)
  • Added 1″ FBA to the front and front lining pieces

My zips I bought from Minerva Crafts on eBay – I wanted them both to match, which they do – although both zips are open-ended, even though the one for the hood is meant to be closed. I bought a 30″ zip for the body and 22″ for the hood and paid around £7.50 for them.

There were also extra purchases of interfacing, Velcro and elastic, but all of these can be used on other projects.

Prep

I was very good and did all my prep properly! Tracing and cutting out the pattern took HOURS and it wasn’t until late Saturday that I got to start sewing – it having taken all of Friday and most of Saturday to get ready. Once cut out, I very diligently added tailors tacks to mark the start and end points for my gathers and used thread to mark where the elastic casing would need to go – you can see the basting on the front pieces below:

Stitching

I’d chosen to use a navy thread for most of the sewing, including topstitching, although I’d also purchased some pink thread to be used just when working on the lining. I also ended up using this for basting on my navy coat fabric as the contrast was brilliant – I found myself wishing that I’d decided to topstitch in pink for an amazing contrast, although I’m secretly glad I didn’t as any mistakes would have been super obvious. The basting below gives an idea of how it could have looked:

For topstitching I used the triple stitch on my machine – which most people seemed to favour as an alternative to using dedicated topstitching thread. As each stitch is sewn three times it helps the line of stitching stand out, but is a mighty pain to unpick if you need to (I only had to do it twice!).

Right here shows why it’s a terrible idea to unpick your triple stitch. It takes forever, and when you redo it, you might make a car crash of it like me, when you have two lines of triple stitching that meet, or are supposed to meet:

Lovely. And unfortunately is in a super obvious place on the front band, near my face. Oh yes.

Most of my topstitching did go well though – I followed someone’s tip and used my blind hem foot (foot G I think) to help mark 1/4″ from either the seam, or other line of stitching. The picture two photos up show how good it can look, although the below indicates that you don’t always end up a perfect 1/4″ away… Goodness know what happened here!

Seaming

I had planned to do something special with my seams, to finish them beautifully. After much deliberation though, I decided to just do what the pattern calls for. For the cotton fabric, after finishing a seam, I’d topstitch it and then trim the seam allowance. The only exception to this was the hood, where I french seamed it, and topstitched the seam to the left hand side.

I did also french seam all of my lining seams, as it was very prone to fraying and being a bit see-through, I didn’t want you to see any raw edges. The only lining seams which aren’t done this way are the seams for the pockets I added – these are pinked and zigzagged. Hopefully they won’t fray as they’re hidden inside the lining.

Hood and collar

The hood and collar were quite involved, although I was very glad to take my time on all the steps as I think it’s come out pretty well.

I basted the collar zip in place, as I wanted the gap between the slit and the zip to be even, which it more or less is – yay!

I also sewed a new stop at the end of the zip and hacked off the excess – so it didn’t matter that my zip was a bit long.

The hood tucks away nicely inside the collar:

As mentioned before I did line the hood – once I attached the lining I then tried to understitch the seam allowance to the lining, to stop the lining from rolling out – which it seems to have done.

Alas the edge stitching around my zip shows on the wrong side – it would have been so much cooler if it was pink! But I’m glad I have the bright pink lining inside. I did interface the lining collar piece to make it easier to work with – I don’t think the lining on its own would have pressed well, but with the fusible interface added, it was nice and simple.

A lot of people had talked about how, when the hood is out, you can see the raw edges of the collar/hood/etc. There didn’t seem to be a preferred solution, but I decided to try and use some bias tape to cover up the raw seams. I made my own 2″ double fold tape from some blue cotton I had. It’s not a perfect match, but I thought lining fabric would be too thick. Generally the tape sewed on ok, but there are some instances where it bulges away and looks a bit crap.

But, I tell myself that the tape does its job of enclosing one set of raw seams, while sitting over and hiding another set:

Other than the enclosed hood, my favourite thing about the collar is its tall-ness. It’s lovely for hiding in:

My chunky plastic zip unzips beautifully!

And voila! A lined hood :)

Having worn the jacket for a few days now, including once in a rain shower, I do wish I had some fastener to tighten the outer edge of the hood to my head – the hood does want to fall down, particularly if there’s a breeze. However, since the jacket itself isn’t waterproof, on any seriously rainy days I’ll take an umbrella, rather than rely on the hood, which incidentally, looks lovely even if not rolled away into the collar:

Pockets

I love pockets and like many others who’ve made this pattern, I wanted to add additional pockets on the outside of the jacket. I used Amy’s tutorial to add in-seam pockets from my lining fabric – she even provides a handy printable template to use – thanks Amy!

I placed them 1.25″ down from the lower waistband marker – I didn’t want them too low for my hands, or for them to be caught in the hem – this amount worked out perfectly.

I love the little peek of colour from the side:

Because the pocket bags point forwards, it means that you can’t press the seam to the back and topstitch it like you’re meant to. Because I wanted to still do some topstitching, I started from the armhole and stopped with a bar tack, above and below each pocket. I think it looks ok!

Next time, I don’t think I’ll add in-seam pockets – they’re a touch flimsy being made of my lining and a bit far back. I’ll do patch pockets on the front, or welt pockets or something. But this pattern was already difficult enough without my doing more things and broadly I think the ones I’ve done have worked out well.

I also added internal pockets as per the pattern. I’ve used Velcro to fasten them:

Somehow, despite following all the instructions to the letter, my topstitching isn’t low enough and my Velcro piece looks a bit weird in how it sits. Is my Velcro too tall? Who knows. It bugs me, but I’ll live it with and could fix it next time. On the next time I’d also make the pockets longer – as they’re not big enough to fit my phone.

Waistband

The waistband is another big feature that sits this jacket apart from others. It stops me looking like a sack, yay!

I raised the waistband by 1″ as it didn’t quite hit my natural waist – I debated raising it by more but I think it would have been too much. I also cut off an extra 2.5″ of elastic – more evidence I should have cut a 12 perhaps?

Unsure what the big gather of excess fabric is here. I do wonder if I maybe need a swayback adjustment as I saw something similar on my Renfrew.

Inside, weirdly my waistband ends in different places on the left and right. On the left it’s right next to the pocket:

On the right, there’s still a good inch or so of space. Weird. It looks even from the outside so is probably just how I settled the lining inside before sewing.

Overall though I think it looks good from the inside.

Cuffs

These were quite fun! You do a small amount of gathering and also use elastic – I love the look you get, although they were fiddly to do.

More fiddly was fastening the lining to the cuff. I opted not to slipstitch and used the machine method Tasia shows on her blog. Bit strange to wrap your head around, but I’ll use this whenever I have something similar to do in the future.

Other Stuff

I have some obligatory, stand-with-the-coat-open shots:

I had to do some stitching-in-the-ditch which went ok. On the outside it mostly looks fine:

It also looks good on the inside in places:

And then I spoil it by doing this. I hadn’t considered unpicking it until Trev mentioned it, but we’ll see.

I also wish now that I used pink thread to baste in my zip. It’s not very even, shows on the wrong side and in some cases on the right side. I’ve tried to unpick it, but it makes the zip sit weirdly as there isn’t much else holding it in place. Since I unpicked the first bit and discovered this, I’ve decided to leave it and live with it. Boo!

The other thing I don’t get is why my coat falls better in this picture here. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve since added elastic, or because I’ve worn the finished garment out, or maybe it just needs a good press. But I don’t think mine looks as smart or well finished as other people’s. I guess it isn’t, but that makes me sad :(

Still, overall not bad.

Summary of tweaks

  • Raised waist elastic by 1″
  • Added in-seam pockets 1.25″ down from original lower waistband marking
  • 1″ FBA on front pieces
  • Lined hood
  • Interfaced the collar lining piece
  • Added bias binding to the collar/hood seam
  • French seamed main hood seam
  • French seamed all lining seams
  • Took out some of the zip basting (shouldn’t have done!)
  • Used special cuff instructions instead of slipstitching
  • Used three rows of basting stitches when gathering the body, not two, as per Coletterie post

What I’d do next time

  • Add patch or welt pockets to the front
  • Maybe change the zip round in the collar so it pulls from the other side – would be easier for me
  • Add a zip guard, so there’s something between it and me
  • Finish that hood/collar seam in a different way
  • Cut a 12 all over
  • Add something to the hood so I can fasten it around my face

Thankfully other people have done all of the mods already, so I have people to copy if I make another :)

And there you have it. I’m now pleased to be able to leave the house in a jacket that isn’t my BRIGHT PINK waterproof and instead is a bit smarter, with a subtle hint of pink instead. Plus it looks pretty good open too :)

Hmm I wonder what I shall make next? In the meantime I’ve dug out the miniSpinner and will do some spinning, along with finishing another few bits off. More to report soon!