A Plethora of New Sewing Skills with Gertie and Twinkle (& a Freebie)

Twinkle Sews and Gertie's Sewing Books OutfitSewing BooksI have completed my makes from Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing by Gretchen Hirsch and Twinkle Sews by Wenlan Chia.  For both of these projects, it was my first time utilizing a variety of sewing techniques, seven to be exact!

New Skills/Techniques

  1. Invisible Zipper
  2. Skirt Yoke
  3. Inverted Box Kick Pleat
  4. Lining a Skirt with an Inverted Box Kick Pleat
  5. Side Lapped Zipper
  6. Hand Picking a Zipper
  7. Hand Stitched Invisible Hem

So, for January’s Monthly Stitch: New Year = New Skill 2014_01_badgechallenge, we are all trying our hand at new (to us) techniques.New SKills Outfit10

Twinkle Twinkle, Little Skirt

I used the Masculin et Feminin pattern from the Twinkle Sews book for my skirt, which I made from a lovely stretch silk fabric that I received from Kristin at Sew Classic.  Thanks Kristin!

Since the fabric was a stretch woven, I opted to also line it with a stretch woven.

Skirt Lining

Skirt Lining

The skirt hem was bound with fold-over elastic before hemming.  This was my first time putting a yoke on a skirt as well as inserting an invisible zip.  Having the zip extend below the yoke meant I had to make sure the fabric change points were exact.

Invisible Zip and Yoke

Invisible Zip and Yoke

This was also the first time I’ve used an inverted box kick pleat.  For the skirt, it was not too difficult, although tricky to remember which way to fold and iron.

Inverted Box Kick Pleat

Inverted Box Kick Pleat

However, when it came to inserting the lining, this is where we entered a bit of a grey area.  The pattern pieces for the lining were different from the skirt and the instructions did not seem to correspond to these pieces.  She wants you to “stay stitch a V of reinforcing stitches the length of the kick pleat as indicated on the pattern piece [it wasn’t].  Carefully cut a slit in the lining to the point of the V.” This somehow did not make sense to me since there were 2 back lining pieces that you sewed a back centre seam.  So, why would you cut a slit?  And where?  And then what on the skirt are you sewing these two sides to, since this is a closed inverted box pleat and not an open vent.  There were no pics of the completed lining in the book. I had help from a volunteer sewing instructor and she did not understand these instructions either.  If anybody has made this skirt, please do share how you did this!

I ended up altering the back lining pattern pieces to be mirror opposites of the skirt back pieces and sewing an inverted box kick pleat in the lining.  I then sewed the line of topstitching that lies horizontal to the top of the pleat to include all the layers of fabric of the lining and skirt, to hold the lining in place.New SKills Outfit Back2The book divides the projects according to difficulty and this skirt was classified as a ‘beginner’ project.  I’m not sure I agree with that as there were many aspects (yoke, lining, inverted box kick pleat, invisible zip, waistband, lace overlay, working with slippery satin fabric) that are not necessarily beginner skills.

Another noteworthy aspect of this book is that there are:  no construction pictures; no technical drawings of any kind; no diagrams, just text.  This does make it more challenging to follow along if you are a beginner or a visual learner.New Skills Outfit8The book includes a cd with all  the patterns included in pdf form.  One thing to watch out for:  sizing.  To find your size, according to the author, you need to measure your hips and then add 2″ for seam allowance and then 1″ to 2″ for ease.  (For tops, you measure your bust, add 2″ for SA, then add 3″ to 5″ for ease.)  Now the thing is, I did not realize nor do either of these measurement add-ons before cutting my skirt!  I found my measurements on the measurement chart and printed out that exact size.  The skirt fits me rather well, and, while it’s true I made the skirt from a two-way stretch woven with a small to moderate stretch and the pattern called for a non stretch, I still think the skirt would have been really huge if I had added on an extra 3″ to 4″!!??

I plan on making one of the tops next, but I don’t think I am going to add the extra 5″ to 7″ (for tops) as specified in the book. This seems really extreme, especially since the skirt fits without my adding any SA or ease.

The book, however, does have some simply beautiful garments in it.  They are all very creative and interesting, constructed from a variety of different fabrics and styled nicely, as well.  This is what immediately appealed to me when I bought the book.

Some exciting news:  Threads magazine has one of the dress patterns from the Twinkle Sews book available for free!

Click here for the free pattern of this dress.

Click here for the free pattern of this dress.

So, if you don’t have the book and are interested in sampling it, here is the link to download the free dress pattern and instructions.

A Portrait of Gretchen’s Blouse

The top I chose to make from Gertie’s book was the Portrait Blouse.  The pattern was fairly easy to put together and included some nice touches, such as hand sewn invisible hems

Hand Sewn Invisible Hem

Hand Sewn Invisible Hem

for the sleeves and bottom as well as a hand picked side lapped zipper.  It is sewn with a wool / cashmere blend, or at least that is what I was told by the vendor at a sewing expo where I purchased it in the ends bin for $5.00.

Hand Sewn Invisible Sleeve Hem and Bound Seams

Hand Sewn Invisible Sleeve Hem and Bound Seams

The instructions for the side lapped zipper did seem a bit lacking, as I could not completely understand how to insert it just using them alone, so researched online to find tutorials.  I noted that each tutorial was a bit different in their approach.  Does anybody have a favourite tutorial or way of inserting a lapped zip?  Please do share it!

Side Lapped Zip

Side Lapped Zip

The zip was ‘hand picked’ or hand sewn using what is really a very tiny back stitch.  I also hand sewed the hems, using a slip stitch.  I really enjoyed the hand sewing aspect; time moved nice and slowly and precision was so much easier to achieve than by machine and the stitching did, indeed look invisible afterwards.

Hand Picked Zip

Hand Picked Zip

Gertie’s book includes drawings for each step within the instructions, as well as a one or two sentence synopsis of the written instructions.  It includes paper patterns for all the garments.

The book also provides a plethora of information regarding pattern alterations, sewing techniques and, because this book is a take on the 1952, Vogue New Book For Better Sewing, it gives you a lot of insight into vintage patterns.

I thought that this top would be ‘untuckable’ due to the zipper at the hem, but actually it tucks in fine and the zip is not bothersome!

Tuck in your shirt!  And, stand up straight!

Tuck in your shirt! And, stand up straight!

Road Testing With the Sewcialists / Spoolettes

I also ‘road tested’ the skirt at a recent Sewcialists / Spoolettes meet-up.

The Twinkle Sews Skirt in Action

The Twinkle Sews Skirt in Action

Spoolette Meetup

Yours Truly, Gillian, Clare, Sara and Andrea. Hi there, Sewing Sisters!!  Cheers Clare! ‘clink’

small spooletteSewcialists

This was not the first time I’d seen these fantastic lovelies in person and each time it gets better and better.  I can’t wait till the next outing.  Who knew that my new-found hobby/past-time would bring me such joy, not only in solitude, when sewing, but socially as well, through social media, the blogs and, the best part, in real life!!

And, look how happy we all are! :)

I leave you with Wonder Woman…

Da na na na na na na Wonder Woman!!

Da na na na na na na Wonder Woman!!

The Hunt For Red October Finds an Innocent BHL Polly Top and…David Bowie’s Pants!?

Red By Hand London Polly Top and CulottesThe Sewcialists on Twitter began chatting about life, love and the pursuit of happiness, as you do, when out of that, came an idea to sew colours.  October then became Sew Red October, and here is the uber-fabulous badge that Gillian made:RedOctober Badge

Polly-By-Hand-London

Free Pattern – By Hand London Polly Top

I also discovered that the lovely ladies from By Hand London created a pattern called the Polly Top.  It’s terrific, a great stash buster, and I will be sewing it again in other colours, for sure.  And, it’s FREE!  You can find the link to download it here.  They’ve also included a how-to video so it’s perfect for beginners or anybody wanting to follow along with visual aid.

The smallest size was a bit too large, so when printing it out in Adobe, instead of selecting ‘actual size’, I reduced it to 94%.  I did not want to lose the length, however, so measured how long the smallest size would be, and added that amount to the reduced pattern pieces.

Printing at 94% & Adding Length

Printing at 94% & Adding Length

The great thing about this top is that you can showcase a colour / pattern or fabric that you may never wear because you don’t like it on you personally, since the piece in front is small and doesn’t touch your neck/face.  You can use either contrasting or matching bias binding for the neck and armholes and I opted to make my own bias tape (my first time) out of the striped fabric.  I used a bias tape maker for this and it was very simple.

Making Your Own Bias Tape Using a Bias Tape Maker Tool

Making Your Own Bias Tape Using a Bias Tape Maker Tool

By Hand London Polly Top different anglesCulottes and Poly Top TwirlingVogue 8136I have always liked the practicality and the swishy factor of culottes, so wanted to make a pair.  I used a vintage pattern from the 1970s, Vogue 8136, which has a yoke, back zip and are high waisted, something I don’t normally wear, but I like the look with the yoke and wide leg.  I believe it is likely we will be seeing more culottes in fashion.  There are dozens of vintage patterns out there, or if you are interested in something more modern, Megan Neilson has recently developed the Tania Culottes.

Sewing Machine Needle Tip:  The fabric I used for the culottes was a tightly woven sueded polyester/microfibre and I kept getting many skipped stitches.  I was using a small size (75/11) Universal needle.  But, for this type of fabric you NEED to use a Sharp or Microtex.  The Universal needle has a slight ballpoint and it was not piercing and catching the fabric so the stitches were not taking.  As soon as I changed to a larger sized (90/14) Sharp, I had no more skipped stitches.  Culottes Gauchos Split Skirt I used the striped fabric from the Polly top to line the yoke and the pockets of the culottes.  So they do match the top, but since it’s all on the inside, only you and I will know it.  Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone. Lined Yoke and PocketsYoke and Pockets LiningThese culottes have quite the leg girth, so if you stand certain ways, It is difficult to tell if it is a skirt or trousers.  I plan on making them again but reducing the size of the leg pieces to emphasize the ‘culotte factor and make it more obvious.

Is It A Skirt??  Nope!! It Is Culottes.

Is It A Skirt?? Nope!! It Is Culottes.

–Do these trousers remind you of anyone?–

That's The One!!

That’s The One!! David Bowie in his infamous trousers designed by Yamamoto Kansai in 1973.

Today’s blogpost has been brought to you by:  The Colour Red!  While doing this Sewalong, I realized that I have absolutely nothing in my wardrobe that is red, except for one winter coat.  What about you?

Red, a primary colour that is the hottest of the warm colours, Rainbow over the Muldrow Glacieris the highest arc of the rainbow and is also the longest wavelength of light.  It is the colour of fire and is associated with heat and warmth. Coals-Heat-FireRed is the color of blood, and as such has strong symbolism as life and vitality. It is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love.

Red is one of the first colours to be used by humans as art such as prehistoric cave drawings or body painting.

Cave Drawing Altamira, Spain

Cave Drawing Altamira, Spain

In an archaeological site in South Africa, Pinnacle Point, ochre coloured iron oxide tools were discovered dating back to 170,000 years ago.  Before synthetic dyes were created, the colour red was produced by drying and crushing tiny insects called Kermes Vermilio (hence, vermillion red).

Being the color of physical movement, the color red awakens our physical life force. It is the color of sexuality and lust while love is expressed with pink.  Red is a very emotionally intense color. Red is energizing.  It excites the emotions and motivates us to take action.Red Tag Sale

It signifies a pioneering spirit and leadership qualities, promoting ambition and determination. Red is the colour most associated with courage and can give confidence to those who are shy or lacking in will power.

It enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure. The color red can stimulate the appetite, often being used in restaurants for this purpose. It also increases craving for food and other stimuli.Red Dining Room Country Living

It has very high visibility, which is why stop signs, stop lights, and fire equipment are usually red.  It is the universal colour for danger.  Danger SignsRed brings text and images to the foreground.

source: Damir Sagolj Reuters

source: Damir Sagolj Reuters

In heraldry, red is used to indicate courage.  It is a colour found in many national flags (77% of all flags include red) and is commonly associated with socialism and communism.

Being surrounded by too much of the colour red can cause us to become irritated, agitated and ultimately angry. Too little and we become cautious, manipulative and fearful.

In Eastern cultures such as China, red is the colour for good luck, prosperity and joy and is traditionally the colour for weddings.  In Indian culture it symbolizes purity and is often used in wedding gowns.  In South Africa, red is the color of mourning, representing death.  In Central Africa, Ndembu warriors rub themselves with red paint during celebrations.  red-roses-photoSince their culture sees the color as a symbol of life and health, sick people are also painted with it.  In Russia, the word for “red” means beautiful.  In the Middle East the colour carries symbolism of Danger and Evil.  According to Greek mythology, the red rose originated from the blood of the slain Adonis, Aphrodite’s lover.  Red became both the universal symbol of lovers, as well as nature’s cycle of life and death.

source: catholicpressphoto.com

source: catholicpressphoto.com

In the Catholic religion, cardinals wear read and its one of the most iconic colours of the clergy.

The colour red can provide:

Energy:  it boosts our physical energy levels, increases our heart rate and blood pressure and prompts the release of adrenalin.  Action:  it is fast moving and promotes a need for action and movement.  Desire:  it relates to physical desire in all its forms- sexual, appetite, cravings.  Passion:  it means a passionate belief in an issue or undertaking, including passionate love or passionate hate or anger.

root chakraRed is the color associated with the Root Chakra, which is the first chakra, located at the base of the spine and groin area.  This chakra deals with life at the level of practicality and allows us to be grounded and connected to universal energies. It is responsible for maintaining the body’s heat and has a relationship with the circulatory system.

Red-Green Colour Blindness Test.  Can you read this?

Red-Green Colour Blindness Test. Can you read this?

Many kinds of mammals, such as dogs and cattle, have dichromacy, which means they can see blues and yellows, but cannot distinguish red and green (both are seen as gray).  Some humans also have what is called red-green colour blindness.

Katherine Hepburn was a ginger

Katherine Hepburn was a Ginger

Red is the rarest hair colour and between 1% and 2%, or 70 to 140 million people around the world, have red hair.  It is caused by a recessive gene and both parents must pass it on.

Put some red in your life when you want:

  • increased enthusiasm and interest
  • more energy
  • action and confidence to go after your dreams
  • protection from fears and anxieties

Kitty has made no appearance in the photoshoot!!!!!  Fear not.  I have compiled collages of him as a baby kitten in a SuperKitty costume with a bright red cape!  Because that’s the kind of Kitty he is.Super Kitty

Kitty.  Super Sewing Hero.

Kitty. Super Sewing Hero.

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Sewing Dare Done: Ikea Fabric + Butterick 5285

Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt FrontI was recently charged with a sewing dare sewing daresby Jagoda from FitNottoFit to sew something for myself to wear out of this Ikea Fabric.  sewing dareYou can see the post here.

I decided to make a skirt from Butterick B5285. butterick 5285 2 I made View B, which has two box pleats in the front and back, a back zipper and side seam pockets.Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt Front 3

It was quite easy to make, (save for my brand new (to me) vintage overlocker eating my first skirt, both front and back pieces.  I had to start all over again.  And, the second skirt, the waistband was too big, so I had to make a new one.)Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt BackThe only real difficulty I found was with the box pleats.  It took so much time, measuring and ironing them, then lining up the next pleat so that it did not overlap the first one, making sure the pleats were the same size, etc.  This actually took longer than constructing the skirt.  It was much more challenging to get these box pleats even and flat from top to bottom than it was for knife pleats, like those found in versions C and D.  Is there a trick / secret to making box pleats?  If you know of one, please share!Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt Front 4I do really like the way the box pleats layer the fabric and allow the large floral print on it to peek through and make all kinds of abstract and colourful designs on the skirt.  I think it really utilized the fabric to its full potential, adds an extra element of design and creates an interesting composition.  I am quite pleased with that aspect.  And, of course, POCKETS!!!!  ‘Nuff said.  I submitted it for my skirt project in sewing class and received 20 out of 20 (100%).  :)Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt and KittyAnd, I have seen so many photos of you lovely garment makers twirling in your skirts, so here goes:

Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt Twirling 4Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt TwirlingTwirling is THE BEST!!!!  And, it really shows the layers of colour and abstract floral patterns underneath the box pleats.

Kitty Likes Measuring Tapes

Kitty Likes Measuring Tapes