That moment when you ruin a garment right before the end

Please tell me I’m not the only one who this happens to? When you are almost almost finished and then you just… ruin it? (This is why I hate putting button holes in as the last step. So small, so much potential for disaster…)

I think about two years ago, my birthday present to my older sister was that I would transform a dress of hers that she loved but didn’t wear anymore, into a skirt. It has a lovely borderprint, as you can see here:

IMG_7490It took me ages to get round to it, and I was almost finished when she told me she was pregnant, and I figured I’d somehow adapt it into a maternity skirt. That never happened, so apparently I just waited until now when she’s not pregnant, so I don’t have to adapt it. (I know. I’m a terrible un-selfish-sewer).

Also, we’re moving house in two weeks, and I figured if I can finish the skirt before then, I don’t have to move it. Right? So, I settled down, looked at the project – literally two steps to go – and finished the zipper. So far, so good. Lovely afternoon off work, coffee in hand, Sewing Affair podcast on…

I then decided to stitch down the waistband instead of just leaving it, because, you know, present etc. But the skirt had been lying around for a while, and the waistband wasn’t behaving, so I took it over to iron it into compliance. Which is where it all went wrong. Because either a) my iron is broken and irons wayyy way hotter than it should, or b) I completely forgot that the fabric I used for the waistband wasn’t completely cotton, or heatproof, or whatever, and ironed it too hot. Logic (and a niggling memory) tells me that it was probably b), but there’s a part of me that wants to blame the iron (I’m sure it’s broken. It does weird things to my fabric!). (Also, next time, I will totally write notes about fabric before leaving a project for almost two years. Of course I will…)

So, the front of the waistband facing has shrunk, and because it’s interfaced and the interfacing didn’t shrink, it’s bubbled. Urgh. I mean – really? Right at the very end?


I was very, very close to cutting out the entire waistband facing, but the zip is partially attached to it, and I was worried that the waistband fabric would be see-through. Not ideal. So, as a compromise, I settled on top-stitching the waistband at the top, and will send it off to my sister in the hope that it’s wearable. (I know there are wrinkles. I just don’t really dare go near it with an iron now.)


Dearest, dear sister: if it’s not wearable or comfortable, or it doesn’t fit or wear well, this is your voucher for another summer skirt, or top, or anything of your choice. I’m sorry! And, if it’s wearable: don’t iron it on the cotton setting. Wool should do nicely for the top section.

Anyway, about the finished skirt: I still rather like the idea behind it. Much more than the execution. I used the sewaholic Crescent skirt pattern for the waistband/yoke and facing, and used the skirt section of the dress for the rest.

Not much more to say other than that I feel rather deflated. I’ll have consolation coffee now. And maybe some chocolate. And sew some nephew clothes for instant gratification, where I might skip the last step in the process to avoid ruining it.

Anybody else dread the last steps in the sewing process for forp (fear of ruining project)?


Completed: Minoru!

So, I started writing this post once, then my PC crashed and deleted it. Then I re-wrote it, and couldn’t upload any pictures. Third time lucky? Sorry for the long silence!

I finished my Minoru about two or three weeks ago, but I couldn’t blog about it before because first, I didn’t have any pictures; then I had too much work and too little time, plus I was busy running around and gallivanting and generally being in love with my Minoru, then it was Easter and I had to eat chocolates, and then my PC crashed.

Making a Minoru was my Sewlution for 2013 (see here for Karen’s original post). I dithered for a long time of what material to make it from? Wool? Cotton Twill? Something else? In the end, I settled on a cotton twill, because I wanted quite a heavy jacket that would be perfect for transitioning between summer jackets and my winter coat. It turned out just as I wanted:

Very very snuggly jacket

Very very snuggly jacket

I found the perfect heavy twill on Goldhawk Road (£3/m), then bought some flannel for interlining for added warmth. It was arctic here while I sewed this – I had a hard time persuading myself I didn’t need to add two layers of interlining! The lining is a silk I had in my stash (I thought it might make a blouse/top, then realized just in time I never wear patterned tops, like, ever), also bought at Goldhawk Road for £3/m. I would love to tell you from which shop it was, but I can never remember the name – it’s the one where the cellar is an Aladdin’s cave, and the top floor has the wools and suiting, and the lovely lady answers all my questions with infinite patience. Classic Fabrics, maybe?

Making it took a very long time, and before making it, I planned it in my head for an even longer time. I started it in February, and then sewed in very small increments. I started with the small things – secret pocket, hood, collar and zips – and had a few small hitches where I waited for different zips and a zipper foot to arrive. My original 18” hood zip turned out too short, so I re-ordered, and then also decided, after much dithering, that I didn’t like the idea of a black and metal zip I’d originally bought for the front.

Zipper time!

Zipper time!

Now the front zip is navy-blue that goes with the lining, and opens both ends. Thank you to my friend Ines, who patiently listened to my colour confusion and recommended the blue zip, as well as dispelling my doubts about the buttons.

I did make a few changes.

  1. You might have noticed – I added an additional front placket to hide the zip. I didn’t like the idea of an exposed zipper, that was reason one. Also, did I mention that it was really cold here while I sewed this?The thought of a little bit of extra cold air stealing in through the exposed zip was unbearable. On went the front placket. I cut it exactly twice as wide as the normal ones, interfaced it (not sure it was needed – it’s maybe almost too stable now), sewed three sides shut,
    Front placket, close-up from the inside.

    Front placket, close-up from the inside.

    and understitched the inside of it to make it behave,which worked a treat – the placket is now very well behaved. Therefore, it also got some top stitching. I then added buttonholes before adding it to the jacket together with the front right placket. It worked perfectly fine – I was just extra careful when putting the lining and the jacket together, as there’s a slight danger of stitching the placket to where it shouldn’t be, but it all worked fine. It also changed the topstitching a little bit, but nothing major.

  2. Pocketses!


    There’s pockets in the side seam. They are lined with silk, and make me very very happy everytime I put my hand into them. In the last two weeks, with the cold winds, they’ve been a lifesaver. I used pockets from the Crescent skirt, I think – it was lying around – and just smoothed out the corners. I interlined the silk with cotton to give it some warmth stability.

  3. It’s interlined! Flannel at the front and back, and cotton in the sleeves (I didn’t want it too warm). Beyond adding warmth, they also added some body to the silk – without this, the combination of slippery silk and massively heavy cotton twill would have been weird. Sewing the collar pieces together was hard work without the interlining!
  4. The seam allowance on the sleeve side seam and side seam to just below my breasts is only 1cm, instead of 1.5cm. I basted it first, and realized there was just a touch of not enough room for my massive shoulders  and arms (hello, swimming). Also, with interlining, I was worried about extra thickness. I’m glad I did this – it still doesn’t look massive at the arms, and I can move.

    Bias-taped seam

    Bias-taped seam

  5. Both pieces of the collar are lined (in the lining and the outside), and the seam stitching the hood into the collar and to the body of the jacket, I finished with some left-over bias tape, so that there is no raw seam in the hood (see also Karen’s words of warning about this, here and here).

There’s a lot of things I learned during this project – for example,

  1. I can sew zips into things! My £3 amazon zipperfoot works! I was very skeptical about this when the foot arrived, but it works just fine. I didn’t have to rip out any zips at all. Amazing.
  2. Topstitching is really really hard. I do not like it much. Mainly because I’m a perfectionist and get really upset about small irregularities. I cheated in some areas on this jacket, and added a second row of topstitching, so the irregularities would be hidden more. I think it worked. There’s a few detail shots below where you can see.
  3. My seam ripper is my very best friend, like, ever. Honestly, it did so many minutes with me… so many seams it became acquainted with intimately. There was a lot of ripping out in this jacket, most of it due to my occasional idiocy. I should really stop misplacing the thing, or at least buy two more.
  4. Speaking of which… I learnt that it takes two seconds to mess up a button hole, and half an hour at least to take it out again. I practiced my button holes, to make sure the size was right, and the thread tension and stitch length and overall look… I practised cutting them open, and measured obsessively where they should be. Then, on the first button hole, my machine had a hiccup. The next half hour, my seam ripper and me hung out.
  5. Patience pays off. There were many times I wasn’t convinced it was going to be a jacket I love, but I persevered, put it away when all my wonky topstitching was getting on my nerves, and kept giving myself time and not rushing it. It really worked – I’m glad I took the time over it, for now I absolutely love it. And hey, even the buttonhole turned out fine eventually!

The biggest challenges for me:

  1. Buttonholes. D’oh. They were my first proper ones.
  2. Patience? Cutting out three layers of fabric for ten hours, even though I hate cutting?
  3. Putting in zippers. Again, first ones with new foot – I am amazed!
  4. Topstitching. It’s haaaaaard, did I mention? I also tried a triple stitch for the top stitch, which felt like my sewing machine was cantering, with the results similarly wonky to me trying to sew on a horse cantering. That also took a long time to rip out!
  5. Topstitching curves. My hood almost had me in tears.
  6. Stitching in the ditch for the hood – my lining kept getting caught in this. Eventually I topstitched my first collar topstitching again to keep the lining in check, then added the stitching in the ditch. It’s not perfect – I might go back and change it later on, but for now, it’s ok.
  7. Choosing the buttons. Man, can I dither about the details. Actually, just make that detail obsession/perfectionism.

Enough lists. Here’s more photos.

Lovely details: Stitching in the ditch and the result of the slight failure, topstitching on the hood, also slightly wonky. amazing hood zip which worked, lining and secret pocket, and the hem, with some beautiful, unintended tucks.

Lovely details: Stitching in the ditch and the result of the slight failure, topstitching on the hood, also slightly wonky. amazing hood zip which worked, lining and secret pocket, and the hem, with some beautiful, unintended tucks.

And yes, I love it to bits. When it all came together, it was amazing. I wanted to sleep in it (apparently, that’s not acceptable, said the boyfriend). Also, I’m getting a ton of compliments on it, which is really really nice for my sewing confidence! And now it’s finally a bit warmer, I can wear it without freezing to death 🙂 It’s perfect for the current conditions.

So, in March 2013, I can say that my sewlution is done, and that I’m very very happy with it! Also, though, I’m happy it’s done. I didn’t pick up a project for quite a while afterwards. I needed to recover a bit 🙂

Completed Sewlution

Hollyburn sewalong

Sewalong largeRachel is hosting a Hollyburn skirt sewalong (click on the sewalong picture to get to all of sewalong posts). It’s already started, and I’m just about on time – my pattern arrived on Monday! Having been a student for the last eight and a bit years, I’m only just beginning to work something akin to a normal working week, and since the beginning of this year, sewing during the week has become a bit of a challenge. Hence, I’m really glad for the sewalong – I’m hoping it’ll give me enough impetus to get myself to the sewing machine instead of onto the sofa!

I ummed and aahed for a long time about what kind of fabric to make the skirt from. I need it to be wearable for work (smart-casual). My wardrobe offered some inspiration: mainly in that the choice of pattern is good for me, because I wear those kinds of skirts a lot. Less inspirational for colour though: most of my worky skirts are either black or a shade of dark grey (put in a shades of grey joke here, if you wish). I wanted something a bit more fun to wear, plus when I went fabric shopping I stumbled across a Liberty wool I couldn’t get out of my head for days: It was soft and lovely and colourful, and draped really nicely. So I went back and bought it.

Liberty woll happinessThe guy in the shop (Classic Textiles, I think, on Goldhawk Road) said it was about 80% cotton and 20% wool, which probably explains why it washed so well. It’s £12/m, which is actually the most I’ve ever spent on fabrics I think. I toyed with the idea of making a Cambie out of it first, but I was too impatient – I wanted something made out of it now. It’ll be lined with navy  standard lining fabric (the acetate stuff). I’m not entirely sure yet what I should/could wear with it on my top half – maybe a soft grey colour? What do you think?

Either way, I’ll be making view B: kneelength, with cute button tabs, but will be omitting the pockets and have cut the front piece on the fold, to not have a seam in the front of the skirt. The pattern looked too nice to me to break up.

I was almost a bit late on the sewalong, but since Rachel and the others are sewing the pockets now, and I decided to skip them, I’m all good! Cutting it out was super easy.  There were only six pattern pieces for me to cut:  front, 2 backs, waistband and 2 button tabs. I love the fact that Tasia has printed the pattern in a way that each skirt length has it’s own pattern piece, so you don’t destroy the longer length if you decide to make the shorter length (makes sense, what with different flare of the different lengths, but still, I love it).

I’m almost impatient enough to race ahead with the sewing anyways, but I think I’ll have enough patience to wait for the sewalong: mainly to not kill myself during the week, and learn to sew in small increments rather than killer sessions, and see how the more relaxed sewing will fit in with everything. But also, because Rachel’s posts are superdetailed and I’m sure I’ll learn a ton to make my skirt look even better. This way, by February, I’ll have a supernice nice skirt to share (I hope)! Anybody else making a Hollyburn too? What colour tops would you recommend with this?