Bits and Bobbins

Gosh it’s been ages since I last posted.
I get this horrible feeling when I don’t post during a week. Let’s remedy that!

I’ve been sewing like a maniac lately and have a big queue of things to show you in the next few weeks. I’ll start by sharing a few things today.

First up are a couple of work tops that are modest and smart but still a bit fun and go with jeans. It’s the “I’m so cute, don’t you want to let me standardise your product and put it in a media neutral content management system” look. Snappy eh?

almond rock new look 6148 squirrel rabbit crepe

So here we have a yoke-less new look 6148 in ex-Dorothy Perkins crepe with awesome squirrel and rabbit print. I picked this up from Goldhawk Road a couple of summers ago and as soon as I was on the train home regretted only buy 1m.

And my firm favourite, new look 6808 in red and cream polyester. I’m not falling into the trap of calling it tribal, ohhhhhh no. This fabric was one of my bargain Birmingham Rag Market purchases that I recently shared on Instagram.

almond rock new look 6808 tribal polyester

I thought I try the 6808 sleeves on the 6148 as well and wahey they fit all right! Maybe even a bit better than they fit the pattern they came with!?

Moving along… a few weeks ago my friends had the fright of their lives. Their baby who hadn’t quite finished cooking, arrived 8 weeks early weighing in at a teeny 2 lbs. After some love and attention she’s been beefed up enough to be at home with her family.

As a baby gift I made the Dylan Onsie pattern (babygrow to all us Brits) from Spit Up and Stilettos – it was free for some time but appears to now be priced. I also snaffled the Drew leggings pattern while they were free and they also seem pretty cool too for an easy baby gift.

almond rock dylan onesie babygrow spit up and stilettos metallic gold hot pink jersey

The pattern includes “preemie” size for teeny babies just like Baby Amber. I used some garish but fun hot pink and metallic gold jersey from Birmingham rag market with some jersey bias tape and a bit of velcro from Samuel Taylors, and whipped it up on my overlocker. It’s definitely opinion dividing but I knew if anyone would get a kick out of this, it would be Tom and Helen, and I love that Amber is disco-ready.

Finally I made a little tool and pencil case ready for my pattern drafting class! What a geek, I know. This is the “Develop” Pattern Drafting and Garment Design evening course that I’m doing through Leeds Art College just like my Textile printing course.

The notes advise bringing basic sewing supplies, plus basic pencil kit so I had to make the pouch quite big. It’s about A5 sized.

almond rock vintage sewing pattern tshirt transfer paper zipper pouch

I printed a black and white image from a vintage sewing pattern onto tshirt transfer paper. I used some cotton canvas for the pouch and an invisible zipper. Here’s a good tutorial for pouches with regular zips. Easy for anyone to do, whether they’re a newbie or an old pro.

Isn’t she working that dress? She’s giving me Liz Taylor vibes.

Now that I’ve broken the silence, look forward to a few more posts from me soon!

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And now for something different

Today you get to meet my brother Andy (aka Little Fro).

I’ve been promising him a shirt for over a year and I’ve finally delivered!

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

This lovely black and white pin dot brushed cotton is from Stone fabrics and also comes in blue and red.
I presented samples of each to my brother, white was chosen and then we were off!

The shirt is a rub-off of an Austin Reed button up that Andy owned. He picked it as the copy garment because he was happy with the fit and style of the shirt. I used the Steffani Lincecum book that guides you through copying ready to wear clothes. She also has a Craftsy class on this technique but I think the book is sufficient enough to grasp what you need to do. Sunni did a good post which convinced me to get the book.

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

I used a few different sources to understand the logic of sewing a man’s shirt without a pattern; like the MPB Men’s Shirt Sewalong, plus this great Shirt Sewing Blog’s post on two piece plackets that gave me food for thought, and finally this post has a helpful image about the subtle variety in collar shapes which I have to say I was ignorant of before.

Sadly I definitely couldn’t get my head around the burrito method and I’m one of few people who didn’t get on with Andrea’s tutorial for sewing collars in a different order.

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

There were a few  funny things about the source shirt. First, it had different sized front plackets. The side with the buttonholes was wider than the button side, and it wasn’t topstitched.

Also the shirt had a mixture of flat felled seams (down the sides and sleeves) and French seams (at the shoulders and armholes). Is that normal? Plus the seams were a mixture of widths too.

This meant I had to label my pattern pieces really clearly or I would have totally confused myself!

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

It was really nice to learn classic sleeve plackets with this project.

To help myself, I bought an 90s McCall’s Ladies Shirt pattern from a car boot which has amazingly detailed (and rather witty) Palmer Pletsch instructions, while also having the Coletterie Hawthorn sewalong placket post open on my screen to look over their lovely clear photo steps.

Have you ever sewn a shirt? How did you find the topstitching? I’ve worked out I can use my new stitch in the ditch foot to edgestitch if I move the needle position. It made it SO MUCH EASIER. I’ve heard a blind hem foot works too.

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

Don’t the black buttons look like big polka dots? They do have two holes (rather than being shank buttons) but by using black thread to attach them the holes sort of disappear!

I finished the hem with home made bias tape from the same fabric. This technique seems to be getting loads of attention all of a sudden but I’ve been doing it for ages on blouses, glad everyone else it getting on it because it makes hemming a curve so much easier.

We had some fun photographing the shirt. I got Andy to break out his best catalogue poses. Bwahaha.

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

Reminds me of Roger Moore who started out as a knitwear catalogue model and Michael Caine loved to tease him about it, calling him “The Big Knit”!

I wholeheartedly recommend his autobiography; even if you’re not James Bond mad like me, it’s SO much fun to read.

almond rock men's shirt black and white polka dot Steffani Lincecum

So all in all this project involved:

* a collar with separate stand
* a one-piece sleeve with placket
* a yoke
* miles of edgestitching, including a slightly wonky pocket
* curved  and slightly dipped hemline

Now I have orders from three other men in my life to stitch them shirts. Phew! Wish me luck.

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