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By Di, May 10 2019 10:23AM

First of all I must apologise for not blogging much recently. There's a really good reason for this as I've been writing for other national and international magazines! I feel priviledged to be asked.


So here's a run down of a few things I've been doing.

My first article for Sew Today, the magazine for the major pattern brands, features my Missoni type knit fabric for McCall's 7692 where I altered the top to be more functional.

I might make these trousers again with a self drafted top to make a jumpsuit......


Watch out for future issues as I have a lingerie article already written and been asked what I would like to make next.


I've been pattern testing a Mary Quant inspired dress for Alice and Co to coincide with the Mary Quant exhibition at the V&A.

This simple shift dress has an option for sleeves as well as neckline and pocket variations. It's FREE to download from the V&A website.


My Fibres and Fabrics glossary is beginning to take shape, although it does need formatting and pictures adding. You can see what I'm working on HERE where you'll find a chart identifying how different fibres fall into specific categories, plus a link to an article about cotton and different fabrics made from it (This is defintely a work in progress...)!.


My sewing time has been taken up working on a prom outfit for a relative, I'll look forward to getting pictures of it at the prom. Here it is at the final fitting.... made from shot taffeta and it even has pockets!

The jacket is based on McCall's 7513

I altered the shape of the peplum as well as changing the angle of the roll line so it only has a single rouleau button fastening.


Finally I was extremely excited to have an article commissioned for Threads magazine that should see me being a featured contributor in the August/September issue!


Now to get back to working on my fibres and fabrics glossary ....it's going to take some time, but I'll keep you informed as I add to it.

By Di, Feb 22 2019 05:29PM

I've not updated my blog for ages, but I have been busy writing. I can now tell you about two exciting developments!



Sew Over 50 in Love Sewing Magazine

On a rainy November day I met up with nine other wonderful makers who are part of an Instagram group @sewover50 After a great chat over lunch we headed to the studios of Love Sewing mag where we had our make up done by their professional artists and talked a lot more whilst we had our photos taken. I'd love you to follow me @sewitwithdi

Here we are with Amy, editor of Love Sewing, @almondrock_sews
Here we are with Amy, editor of Love Sewing, @almondrock_sews

Sew Over 50 is all about celebrating that turning a milestone birthday doesn't mean we can't be stylish and derserve to be featured more in publications and on pattern covers! Principally, we into sharing ideas, tips and generally to support each other. We'd love to see more men in the group as well.

Here I am with @sarahguthrie_stitches and @jeanettesewcycle
Here I am with @sarahguthrie_stitches and @jeanettesewcycle

We all turned up with clothes we've made and were proud to wear. I love my Butterick 5891 shirt, it's so different, Katherine and Marcy Tilton create some amazing designs that offer comfort as well as style..


Thanks to everyone who made the day possible and we're all sharing happy memories now the article is in Issue 64, in the shops now and online from the 28th Feb. If you buy Love Sewing from Sainsbury's this month you even get an extra free pattern!


Read My Articles In Bartack Magazine

Issue 2 of the online magazine Bartack is available from 24th Feb. I was really proud to be asked to contribute to the first issue and I have two articles in Issue 2, which I'm hoping will be the start of a series!


The magazine is filling a gap in the market by focussing on men's fashion, men who sew and sewing for them. However many of the magazine's articles are really about sewing clothing and the information and techniques are great advice whoever you sew for.


Fibres and Fabrics - Cotton

Knowing about the many different fabrics and what to use them for is one of the hardest parts of making clothes, epecially with the decline in face to face shoppping.

I'm creating a fabric glossary with plenty of close up pictures to help you. In the first part of this series I'm explaining all about cotton, it's origins, production, properties and characteristics. Read about more than 30 fabrics made from cotton from voile to canvas.

Ever Wanted to Make Your own Active Wear, even if you don't own an overlocker or coverstitch machine?

Many years ago I made and sold leotards to my local aerobics group. Now I make all my own exercise wear, including swimwear.

The first part of this series of articles takes you through different fabrics to use and how to stitch 4 way stretch fabric. Although I use an overlocker for my gear I've included detailed guidance about using your domestic sewing machine.

I've already written a blog about creating flatlock seams on the over locker and this article includes a cheats method for coverstitch seams using an overlocker and a twin needle in your machine.

Look out for finishing armholes, necklines and waists in Issue 3!


By Di, Dec 21 2018 03:09PM

I really don't like trying to stitch both sides of a bound edge at the same time, equally I'm not a fan of preparing the folded and pressed binding either! If I want an edge where you see the binding on both sides I do it in two processes, opening out one edge of the binding, stitching in the crease, then folding the binding and either machining or slip stitching the second edge..


Another problem with applying bias binding is making sure the finished edge is actually on the stitching line. You need to cut off the seam allowance before stitching the bias strip or the armhole or neck edge will be too small.

I'm going to show you the method I prefer for binding an edge on both woven and knit fabrics.


Cut bias strips twice the width of the finished binding plus seam allowances. For knit fabrics cut the strip from across the width of the fabric.


Click HERE to see how to join bias strips together.


Fold the binding in half with the long cut edges together. Press the folded edge.


Machine through both layers of the binding 1mm inside the seam allowance. I use the machine foot to help, keeping the edge an even distance from the fold. If you prefer, you can place the folded edge against the edge of the foot and adjust the needle position.


Place the binding onto the right side of the garment. The line of machining should be about on the stitching line of the garment. Pin in place and tack if you prefer.

Machine through all 3 layers with the needle position immediately to the left of the stay stitching on the binding. Trim the seam to 5mm.

Press the binding and the seam allowance away from the garment. Understitch through the binding and the allowances, very close to the seam.

Press the binding to the inside and stitch close to the folded ede.

This gives a line of top stitching on the right side.

If you want the binding to show on the right side.

Put the binding against the wrong side of the garment. I prefer not to understitch so there's only one line of stitching visible on the binding.

By Di, Dec 10 2018 05:11PM

Today I took the plung into motion capture, donning my ZOZO suit to allow my mobile phone to take my measurements!


I'm going to preface this review. ZOZO is a company primarily selling custom fit clothing, they're not a home garment making service. In order to offer their clothing range they need a consistent method of collecting their customers measurements.


https://zozo.com/gb/en


I decided to try out their measurement system to see if it will help me in choosing pattern sizes and making adjustments to make my own well fitting clothes. I'm already fairly well aware of my measurements and tend to use them to map my changing body shape more acuuratly than just weighing myself. For example; I already know that my right thigh is 1" bigger than my left.


It's really easy to get your free ZOZO suit by setting up an account and giving weight, height and gender information. Mine arrived in a couple of days in an interesting envelope that had my husband intreged as to what I was up to now!

The package contained the 2 piece body suit, more on that later, a dinky phone stand that I'm keeping for when I want to take a quick selfie

Also a basic guide about what to do next.

Once you have your suit you need to install the app on your phone. It costs£4.53 which didn't seem too much for this experiment into using technology.


You need a well lit, unclutterd space which took a bit of organising!.


The suit is a 2 piece made in a fine and very stretchy 68%polyester 32%spandex with white dots that need to be horizontal when worn.

I'd have liked more information about the measuring process before launching the app, however the app was really easy to use. I'm never sure with technology about whats going to happen when I press NEXT! In fact the app takes you through how to position your phone, the correct way to wear the suit, how to stand and uses a clock face to help you understand how to rotate whilst the app takes 12 pictures.


Your phone needs to be about 6' away and approx 30" off the floor, which is the height of most tables. The app actually tells you what to do and there's a simple volume test which asks you to type a number that you hear. This was my first problem as I'd linked my bluetooth shutter and I couldn't type the number. Once I realised the bluetooth wasn't necessary the app's own keyboard popped up.


You're instructed to put your phone on the stand. This took a few attempts as the screen kept minimising so I didn't get the instructions! It took a few attempts to get this to work, but once we got going it was really simple. The instructions tell you if you're the right distance from the camera and gives instructions to move forwards or backwards. There's audible bleeps at each stage and instructions to tell you when to turn to each point on an imaginary clock. The measurements are calculated really quickly and you've already agreed for the company to store your data.

This is my own picture, not something generated in the app. I find it interesting as it clearly shows that my right shoulder drops slightly causing bunching between my armhole and waist, also my right thigh near the hip is more rounded than the left. These were things I was already aware of, but for many people this image of their own might prove really useful. You can take this pic with just the suit that's free....


How Accurate are the Measurements?

I took a screen capture of my measurements as I wasn't sure if this was something I'd find in my account. Actually it's really easy to find your stored measurements as a picture and in a chart.


The thing that jumps out at me is the differrences between right and left sides. I already knew about my right thigh being significantly larger than my left, it's really important when I make trousers. However there's a difference for all my horizontal measurements. I'm right side dominant so perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise, but important to know which side is largest. It doesn't mean I need to make sleeves different sizes, but they must be made to fit the largest measurement with enough ease to fit comfortably..


Once I compared the measurements against the ones I take there isn't a significant difference in most of them, especially as i've always been taught a tape measure shouldn't be pulled tight..


However:

There are 2 waist measurements, upper and lower, neither have any similarity to my waist measurement. The upper waist is accurate for my bra band measurement, just below my bust. The lower waist is accurate for my high hip, level with the top of the hip bones, Neither are much use for clothes I want to fit my waist!

The outer arm length is a bit unclear as one side shows a line to the neck and the other to the shoulder. Once I checked my arm length I suggest this measuremeant is from the shoulder point to the wrist, but for me they come out a bit too long.

The inside leg measurement is also really short, for me it could be 2"!

Conclusion

Can you tell I was a teacher..... conclusion is such a tell tale sign!


I have one major misgiving about this app and the information it provides. There are no vertical measurements that tell us the distance between bust, waist and hips. It presumes we are all the same height and proportion. Many women need to alter the bust height on patterns so the fullest area falls in the right place.

When altering patterns the first thing to do is to get the back neck, waist and hip levels the correct distance apart. Then making sure the bust point is the correct distance from the neck/shoulder point. Once these are accurate it's time to alter the wdith measurements as now they're going to be the right distance apart to match your body.


It's been an interesting exercise, but not sure it's told me anything I didn't already know. However; for those newer to making your own clothes it could be a really useful tool as long as you accept the importance of getting your vertical measurements right first.

By Di, Jul 17 2018 04:58PM

It's never too late to have a new favourite method for doing something!


I always thought invisible zips were my super power. However getting them to join smoothly with the seam at the bottom is always a challenge.


This method stitches the seam first.


The top of the zip pull needs to sit about 2-3mm below the stitching line at the top.

The opening for the zip needs to be long enough to get the garment on and off, but always shorter than the zip. In my experience there's usually only short or long zips, however they're longer than necessary.


Mark a line across the zip tape about 2cm above the bottom stop.

With the top of the zip pull just below the top stitching line use the zip to work out where the zip opening should end. The line you marked is the length of the opening in the seam.

Stitch the seam below this point, reinforcing the stitching at the end of the opening. Then use your longest stitch to close the opening 15mm from the edge.

Press the seam open and draw a line across the seam allowances where the bottom of the opening will be.

With the zip pull down against the wrong side of the garment match the lines you've drawn on the zip tape and the seam.

Sorry I forgot this pic until later, so ignore the machining!
Sorry I forgot this pic until later, so ignore the machining!

Carefully match the centre of the zip to the seam

Pin the zip tape to both seam allowances, but not the main fabric. If you prefer you can use Wonder Tape. This is a double sided tape that eventually washes away.

Machine through the zip tape and the seam allowance. You might need to move the needle position so you can get past the zip pull. Stop level with the line you drew on the zip tape, it makes things easier later.

After stitching both sides of the zip you remove the basting from the zip opening. I prefer to pull this stitching out from one side, if you use an unpicker the cut threads can get caught in the zip.

Open the zip right down to the bottom stop.

Change to your invisible zip foot.


I like to use a pin, but you could tack if you want. Roll the zip teeth open and carefully pin very close to the teeth so the pin matches with the stitching at the top of the seam on the other side.

Use the zip foot stitch from the bottom of the zip towards the top. Note which side of the foot the teeth are under.

Start stitching exactly at the line you marked on the zip tape. You can use a lock stitch or fasten off securely later. Use a finger to roll the teeth open and stitch really close to the teeth.

Repeat with the other side of the zip, starting at the bottom of the zip stitching to the top.

To fasten the zip for the first time you need to push the zip pull between the zip tape and the fabric. I find it best to have the garment with the wrong side on top.

Grab the zip pull in one hand and the bottom of the zip tape with the other. Pull to close the zip.



By Di, May 31 2018 01:55PM

It's easy to make some small adjustments to your overlocker to achieve a flatlock stitch.

2 or 3 Thread Seam?

As far as I know you need a special attachment to only use 2 threads, also the seam won't be as strong. I'm making active wear so need a seam that's both strong and stretchy.

Setting Up Your Machine

I unthreaded the right needle. For a narrower finish you could remove the left needle.

You'll need to experiment with the settings for your machine, this is how I set the tension on my Elna. (the right needle has no thread, so won't affect the stitch). The needle thread needs to be loose as it creates a ladder stitch on the back. This can also be an effect on the right side,

The top looper is the one that shows on the surface, so adjust the tension slightly to get a good effect. The lower tension needs to be tight as it helps create the stitch but hardly shows.


All the threads will be on the surface, so choosing colours that work with your fabric is important. I've use three slightly different colours that blend together.

Stitching the seam

I've experimented with different ways to prepare the fabric.


1. Use a rotary cutter to cut on the stitching line.

Place fabric wrong sides together.

Line up the cut edge with the right needle.

Stitch.

Pull the fabric flat.

This is fine for a decorative seam, but because the cut edges lie in the centre of the seam I wouldn't want this to happen to my yoga pants!


2. This method does make a thicker seam, but it's perfect for my exercise wear.

Make sure you know how wide your seam allowance is.

Put fabric wrong sides together.

To be sure your garment comes out the right size, the fabric is placed so the stitching line is about 5mm to the right of the left needle. That's just a bit to the right of the right needle position that's marked on my overlocker foot.

Stitch the seam.

Pull each piece of fabric really firmly to get the seam to lie flat.

Press.

Flatlock Hem

This is a really stretchy decorative hem.

Fold the hem along the finished hem line. Pin at right angles to the edge, with the points just on the edge of the fabric. This helps with the next stage.

Fold up the hem again with the points of the pins exactly at the foldline. This helps keep the cut edge in exactly the right position.

Move the pins to the otherside of the fabric so you can see them ready for stitching.

With the right side of the fabric on top stitch along the fold without trimming the fabric.

This is the right side and below is the wrong side.

Turn the hem down and pull really hard so it lies flat.

Press.

Ladder Stitch

You can use the same techniques to make a ladder stitch on the right side.

For a seam you place the fabric right sides together.

However; for the hem - fold the hem to the wrong side along the hem line. Fold again right sides together, so the fold is a bit wider than the cut edge.

Stitch along the fold without cutting the fabric. Make sure the left needle is stitching to the left of the cut edge.

Turn down the hem, pull frimly and press.


By Di, Mar 13 2018 01:27PM

Read my guest post on Jamie Kemp's blog. Jamie shares my passion for tailoring and hand crafted garments. He first came to my attention in January 2016 when he invited fellow makers to create a jacket, just as I was completing The Savile Row Coat. Quickly followed by him taking part in the 2016 series of TheGreat British Sewing Bee.


Male Devon Sewing

By Di, Mar 8 2018 01:47PM

McCall's 7357 is a free pattern with Love Sewing magazine. It has a range of sleeve variations and the free copy is size 6-22. One of it's positive features is that it has differnt cup sizes, making the largest finished bust size 52"

I'm a 40" bust and made size 14, 2 sizes smaller than the measurement chart suggests. It's described as Loose fitting, The ease chart shows that a loose fitting top will have 5 1/2 and 8" of additional design ease added to standard wearing ease.

Courtesy of Vogue Patterns and McCalls Pattern Company
Courtesy of Vogue Patterns and McCalls Pattern Company

This is an easy pattern to make except for the front bands.

It's really quite tricky to fold the edge of the inside band to match the outer one and then slip stitch.


I have a quicker and easier way to achieve a great finish.

Start by preparing the front and neck bands. Interface one layer, stitch the shoulder seams. Place the bands right side together, stitch round the neck edge. Trim the seam allowance to 7mm, snip the shorter curves and cut notches out of the longer curves.

Press the seam allowances towards the under band(I've used white for my inside layer so the design doesn't show through the top layer).

Edge stitch close to the seam through the band and the seam allowances.

Fold the band so that the seam is just to the wrong side. Press and machine baste the cut edges together with a long stitch. Snip the curved edges.

Stay stitch the neck edge of the garment. This should be a short stitch very close to the stitching line.

Cut diagonally into the corners, really close to the stay stitching.

Put the band RS to RS of the garment. Keep the cut edges together, match the shoulder seams and notches.

At the bottom the bands should end 3cm lower than the cut edge.

Machine all round the neck edge. Start at the bottom of the opening, roll the garment fabric out of the way so that the stitching is right at the corner formed by the stay stitching.

Neaten the seam. I've overlocked the edge, but you can zig zag. Keep the left edge of the foot against the straight stitch. Zig zag through both layers and trim off the extra fabric very close to the stitching.

Fold the garment exactly at the bottom of the opening, along the stay stitching. Bring the bands to lie flat on each other(They should be edge to edge, but I made mine slightly wider).

The narrow piece at the bottom of the opening needs to lie flat against the bands. Machine across all the layers exactly 15mm from the edge. Don't catch in the folded fabric at either end. Neaten the edges with an overlocker or zig zag/trim.

Fold down the garment front and press.

The opening is very low for me, so I've stitched the two layers together, otherwise I'd need to wear a tank underneath it.



By Di, Mar 2 2018 05:38PM

Have you ever struggled to get a professional finish at the top of a zip?


I have two methods that work well for both linings and facings. One for a standard zip and the other for an invisible zip. I've used marker pens for the samples, but always check it can be removed before marking the RS of your fabric!


Standard zip


This method works for both a lapped and centred zip. I'm going to show the centred zip, however for the lapped zip you only need to prepare the side of the zip that overlaps, usually the front of a skirt or the left back for a centre back opening

Fold the seam allowance to the right side exactly on the fold line. Mark 15mm from the top edge and also a line where you will be stitching in the zip, usually about 7mm from the fold (10mm for a lapped zip).


Machine from the fold to the vertical line, securing both ends.

Cut down the vertical line exactly to the end of the machine stitch. Trim the fabric to reduce the bulk.

Turn the seam allowance to the wrong side and push out the corner.

Press the fold of the zip opening.


For the centred zip prepare the other side of the opening in the same way.

I've used Wonder Tape to temporarily hold the zip, the top of the zip pull needs to be 3mm below the prepared edge.

Machine the zip.


Interface and neaten the outer edge of the facing.

Open the zip. Put the facing RS against the RS of the garment. Match the top edges, the facing should extend 15mm past the zip.

Machine the the facing to the garment along the top edge. Starting and finishing in the right angle at the top of the zip.

Trim the seam , snip across the corner of the zip. Press the facing away from the garment.

Edge stitch by machining close to the seam through the facing and the seam allowances.

Fold the short edge of the facing to the wrong side exactly level with the right angle made earlier. Press the fold, open up and trim the corner.


Fold the facing to the inside of the garment. Fold the edge of the facing under and slip stitch to the machine stitch that holds in the zip.


Invisible Zip


Stitch in the zip.

Put the facing wrong side down against the garment, matchng the top edge, side seams and notches.

Fold under the short edge of the facing, pin or finger press the crease.

Try to hold the seam allowances together, flip the facing over so that it's right sides togther.

Machine through the zip seam allowance and the facing about 5mm from the edge of the seam allowance.

Fold back WS together to check the facing is the correct length.

Trim off the extra fabric next to the zip tape.

Turn the facing RS together with the zip teeth on the fold.

Machine the facing to the garment along the top edge. Check both sides of the zip are level.

Snip across the corner and trim the seam.

Turn the facing to the inside of the garment, push out the corners. Edge stitch through the facing and seam allowances as close as possible to the zip. Press.


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The Savile Row Coat