FO x 2: (well 3 technically!) My perfect boxy tee

One might say that this simple boxy tee was nearly 3 years in the making! Why? Because I discovered an abandoned experiment in my stash from that time period. I picked it up…looked at it quizzically….wondered why it had been cast aside because…it looked like just the kind of tee I’d been looking for recently. So I sewed it up in half an hour and what do you know….it was exactly the shape and proportion I had been hankering after in my wardrobe. So I made 2 more!

self drafted box tee (5)

The first being this incarnation in a pique type knit from Stoff & Stil. I love the irregular sketchy arrows and the monochrome makes it a really versatile addition. The top is self drafted….but very simply so. Rectangles for body and sleeves but with a slight curve for the sleeve heads and armholes, and curves cut out for the front and back neckline. My original experimental one was literally just rectangles but I loved the proportions so much that I drafted a pattern and added in those subtle refinements….self drafted box tee (5)self drafted box tee

Then I liked that one so much that I made another! Also in a Stoff & Stil fabric. This is a slightly looser version. But all 3 (the original, which is black, and these two) are in constant rotation. It’s like I had my holy grail of tees sitting in my WIP pile for 3 years! What the heck?!! Revisit your WIPs people! Seriously….you started them for a reason!self drafted box tee self drafted box tee

So needless to say….I will be making a few more of these.

I also want to direct your attention to the neckbands on these babies. Notice they are perfectly turned in and laying flat? Well in the past this has always been a bit touch and go for me. (wavy neckbands anyone? Ack!) But I have been working on a formula for calculating the exact length of neckband you need, for any given neckline circumference….and any given fabric. (You may have read my initial ruminations here!) Because…it seemed to me that I needed to factor in the stretch percentage of the fabric I was using. A fabric with 40% stretch was not going to turn in the same way as a 60% stretch fabric cut to the same length. Well if my last few knit makes are anything to go by…I’ve nailed it! And there will be a post coming your way soon. So if you ever got frustrated at wavy or puckered neckbands….stay tuned!

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FO: Vogue 9160 & The Eve Appeal + a Giveaway

VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 1960 - PORTIA LAWRIE (3)

 

Cocktails anyone? A couple of weeks back Vogue Patterns (The McCall Pattern company) launched a year long sewalong in aid of The Eve Appeal. Part of this includes a blogger tour which is where your’s truly comes in today. Yep I’m up….and….well….running a liiiiiitle late this morning. Might be to do with all the champagne and peach schnapps I had to drink last night. (My fave cocktail. Dunno what that’s called, lol!) So why the references to cocktails? Well you may remember I took part in last years event The Big Vintage Sewalong….and well….you gotta have a theme right? And this years theme is cocktails! Yum! They’ve even come up with their own recipe and you can sup it while joining in with sewists nationwide, by sewing up one of the patterns from a selection of 20, and raising money for The Eve Appeal in the process. Savvy? Good…here’s me with an empty glass having drunk the house dry…VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE (9)

Soooooo, what did I make then? Not being a cocktail dress kinda gal, (and actually not at ease in any kind of “formal/dressy” attire), this one really pushed me out of my comfort zone. But not one to shy away from a challenge (that would be super hypocritical of me considering what I put you all through every year with The Refashioners , ha!), I duly accepted said challenge and this is what I came up with. You know….if I ever get invited out for cocktails….VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE (9)

My Idea of dressing up is heels and a bold lippy, whilst keeping the outfit itself understated. Indeed this make (in a gorgeous grey washed linen from Ditto fabrics that I’m in love with) would look equally at home with a cropped stripey tee and birkies! I love clothes that do double duty don’t you?

The pattern is Vogue 9160….yep…. a jumpsuit pattern….Now I have been admiring the jumpsuit trend from afar since it emerged. But I’ve steered clear as I KNOW it won’t suit me. I’m too conscious of a tubby middle section right now (I’ve gone up a whle dress size recently!) One piece garments rarely do. So my original intention was always to adapt this into a two piece, with the appearance of a jumpsuit, by making it out of the same fabric.VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE

I knew I didn’t want the scalloped lace or lining elements of this pattern. I wanted to pare it right down and simplify it by just using one fabric for the whole thing. But I really struggled to find a fabric (in time) that would be substantial enough for the bottoms but not too heavy for the top. Crepe would be a good one I think.  Or a mid weight cupro or sandwashed silk. In the end I decided that the linen was not quite right for the top portion, which led me more towards view C.  A Contrast top and bottom with a tie belt. I swapped out the top portion of the pattern for a looser fitting top in a lurex knit (I’m not a fan of anything too close fitting up top), then set about turning the bottom half of the pattern into trousers by adding a simple narrow waistband and back zip fastening.

But what elevates this make to something dressier I think….is the tie belt. I made a slightly longer version than the pattern so I could wrap it round twice and wear it more Obi style…VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE

I like…..NEVER…wear anything tucked in. That’s how conscious I am of my (lack of ) waist. But I do have proportionately narrow hips so from a “glass half full” perspective, I try to focus on those instead. But what I like about this make is what the belt does. Aside from the added interest, it cinches me in at the waist and draws the eye down to hip level where I’m narrowast. The overall effect is actually quite slimming and I don’t feel self conscious at all in these…VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE

VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE

It even camouflages my Mum/crisp/bloaty/bulge at the front! So the obi style tie belt may be a bit of a revelation for me!

Vogue Patterns  are giving one reader the chance to win a copy of this pattern…VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE

To enter,  share this post on social media, then leave me a comment to let me know where you shared. Multiple shares gives multiple entries. Giveaway is open UK only (sorry) and closes at midnight GMT on Friday 24th March! Good luck!

More info on this year long event and the list of patterns can be found here and you can find out more about this fantastic charity and their other awareness and fundraising activities here.

VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE

 

 

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Perfect Pinning (+ a giveaway!!)

Pins. It’s just as simple as sticking them through the fabric right? Well, not quite. Firstly, there’s the type of pin you use. Right tools for the right job applies to pins as much as it applies to any other sewing tool. Some pins are longer/sharper/finer depending on the type of fabric and project you are undertaking. Some excellent info about pin types and their uses here, here, and here….pinning tips

Then there is the question of quality. As with many tools, not all pins are created equal. The best pins will slide smoothly through your fabric without snagging and without force; and they will last you many years without becoming blunt or rusting if used and stored correctly. My personal bug bear are cheap pins with plastic heads. Ack! I only ever use glass headed pins. They tend to be of better quality and most importantly, if you’re pressing around them, they don’t melt if you accidentally touch them with the iron! (I learnt that lesson early!)

But what about how to pin? It’s one of those things that, when I first started sewing, I assumed was a no brainer.  Stick it through the fabric. Job done. Right? Well no. There’re subtleties to pinning, as with any sewing technique. Little things. But things that collectively, can incrementally improve your sewing. So I thought I’d share a few of my “personal pinning protocols” (shameless opportunity for alliteration seized, ha!). Little things that I was taught when I first learnt to sew and stick to still…and the logic behind them…pinning tips

This is the way I pin the most. Always within the seam allowance. So if my pins do end up leaving holes (some fabrics render this likely) then they are not visible on the outside of the garment. It also means that I can leave my pins in place until the very last second as they pass to the side of the presser foot rather than the middle of it. So shifting of fabric is minimised. I will also always pin with the points facing towards the presser foot. It makes them easy to pull out as you go. (If they were facing the other way…well…cack handed!)

pinning tips

When sewing some seams, you’ll be required to stop at a given point and back stitch and/or switch to a different stitch length. (Think preparing a seam for zip insertion for instance). I always mark this point with a different coloured pin, pinned at right angles to my other pins. It just gives me a visual aid and a precise marker as to where I want that needle to stop.

pinning tips

When pattern matching is important I will pin at right angles to the seam that I am sewing. When sewing stripes for instance, I will pin stripe on top of stripe at regular and small intervals.  Pinning at right angles “locks” the fabric more effectively than pinning in a linear way. The difference on a plain and/or stable fabric is negligible. But even minimal shifting will be visually really obvious on stripes. I will also employ this method of pinning on more slippery fabrics. There is an argument for always pinning this way all the time. But I tend to employ it when I want to ramp up the accuracy and precision on seams where the slightest shift would be really obvious either visually or where accurate alignment is vital. (easing in collars, sleeves, necklines etc) If I can get away with just using a few pins, pinned vertically and spaced far apart then I will always default to that. Heck, I have been know to dispense with pins altogether. Some projects are more forgiving than others. But sometimes, when it absolutely has to be accurate, this is the method I go for.

pinning tips

Now I am right handed. And my pin dish sits to the right hand side of my machine. So actually the way that I have pinned in the previous photo is actually a bit illogical.  Because I end up pulling the pins out with my left hand, passing them across to my right hand (or worse, holding them in my mouth as I go!) so I can put them in the pin dish to the right hand side of me. It’s actually a tad cack handed for me. And I have no explanation for that. Used to bug my sewing teacher no end, lol! When pinning at right angles it would make more sense to have the heads facing to the right like this. Just saying. But the cack handed way in which I do it is now so ingrained in my muscle memory, it’s unlikely to change now!

How you pin isn’t just about the direction of pinning of course. It also has to do with how you hold the fabric when you pin. This is how I would automatically put my pins in when I first started sewing. I’d pick the fabric up and stick the pins in like so…pinning tips

That is until my sewing teacher walked up and slapped my hand! (Old school she was!) I will preface this next bit of advice by saying that, as with most rules, there are exceptions. There are times that you can get away with doing this and times you when it will affect the accuracy of your pinning. Depending on the fabric, as you pick it up like this, the layers can shift. On trickier, more slippery fabrics, the more you move them, the more they shift….

pinning tips

As a rule, if you can keep your fabric flat like so…

pinning tips

And pin on the flat, then there will be less chance of layers shifting and therefore, more accuracy across your project.

Talking of keeping things flat…pinning tips

Pins are not always the final step when you absolutely must have a completely flat and secure fabric sandwich before you pass it through the machine…zips are the most obvious example of a situation where it’s vital that everything lies flat and secure before you put a permanent line of stitching in there…

pinning tips

If you’ve ever questioned why you ought to baste a zip rather than just pin it…just look at the photo above and the effect that pinning can have on your seamline, compared to how flat the fabric edge is on the basted section! Now I’m not saying baste everything. Life (and sewing time) is too short for that! But when it absolutely has to be accurate, you’ll be pleased you added in the extra step. Promise!

So, if all of that has you wanting to up your pin game, then here’s a treat for you. The pins featured in this post (above and below) are Hiroshima pins. Japanese pins of superior quality. They come in the most gorgeous packaging (I’m such a sucker for packaging)…hiroshima pins
hiroshima pins

 

And they are like miniature works of art in their own right. In order below are tulip hiroshima glass headed patchwork pins, Akari pins and Shizuku pins…pinning tipshiroshima pinshiroshima pins

Aren’t they STUNNING! They are part of the newly expanded range of hiroshima pins now available at Beyond Measure. Grace has the most exquisite taste. And she is very generously offering one reader the chance to win 4 packs of luxury Hiroshima pins of their choice.

To be in with a chance of winning simply subscribe to Grace’s newsletter here. Additional entries for facebook and instagram follows. Then leave a comment here to let me know how many entries (ie what you’ve followed/subscribed to). Giveaway is open internationally and closes at midnight GMT on Sunday 26th February.

Good luck and happy pinning!!

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How to shorten metal open ended zipper….

Very specific and what you could call “niche” post today. But I cannot be the only one to hit this obstacle so I’m sharing.  On a recent project  I hit a bit of a snag with this metal open ended zipper. (Who am I kidding. I hit a snag on EVERY project. Occupational hazard for a refashioner!) It was about an inch longer than I needed it to be. I’ve marked with chalk where I wanted the stoppers to be…Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

 

Shortening a standard closed and plastic zipper is pretty straightforward.  With this zip though, I couldn’t shorten from the bottom. (Damn). That’s where the fittings are that make this an open ended zipper. It’s chunky and the design I had in mind called for the the zip stops (at the top of the zip) to still be visible on the finished garment.  So simply sewing thread stoppers wasn’t going to cut it.  (double damn).Shorten a metal open ended zipper

In some cases the fabric that encloses the end of the zipper at the top is sufficient to act as a stopper in itself. But in this instance that was not the case either….I couldn’t order another zip as the length I needed was not standard; and in any case, I much prefer to use what I have if I can. (Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn). So, in short (pun intended), I needed to shorten the zip from the top instead…

So if you ever find yourself in a similar position, here’s how to shorten an open ended metal zipper…Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

I needed to move this little sucker (above) down to where that chalk mark is. And this is one chunky metal zipper, so there was some serious brute force involved in this.

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Before doing anything,  unzip the zip about halfway down and create some makeshift stoppers with pins. If you’re anything like me you may inadvertently pull the zip pull straight off the top after you’ve removed the stoppers. Yes I have done that. After the zip was sewn into a garment. (Face palm).

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

You’ll need some jewellery pliers and side cutters for this…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Using the side cutters, and starting with the zipper tooth in front of your chalk mark, snip the end of the zip tooth off… then cut away as much of the rest of it as you can…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Then use the pliers to wiggle and remove what’s left…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Remove 5 or 6 teeth in this way, on both sides of the zip….

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Cut away the excess zipper tape…

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

You’re left with these zipper stops on the parts you cut away. Now you CAN buy zipper repair kits like these. And there will be replacement zipper stops included in those. If those meet your needs you can skip the next couple of steps. But  I didn’t have time to order and wait for a kit to arrive (I was on a deadline and everything is right down to the wire right now). Plus, you know, that “working with what I have” thing in me!

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

This was by far the trickiest step. It’s on there pretty firmly so this is where the brute force part comes in. Use the pliers (A second pair comes in handy if you have them) to wiggle/lever/coax the zipper stop off the zipper tape. Not shown in this pic, but I found cutting away the zipper tape as close to the stopper as possible, and then fraying it, aided the process of loosening it’s grip a little. As did swearing.

shorten a metal zipper - makery.uk

Eventually you’ll get the little sucker off. Open it up slightly (2 sets of pliers again)…

shorten a metal zipper - makery.uk

Slide it onto the zipper tape in the position of the first tooth you removed and use the pliers to clamp it firmly in place. (Repeat for both sides of the zip)

Makery - How to Shorten an open ended metal zipper

Ta dah!

So yeah! Random I know. But someone, someday, is going to find this useful. You’re welcome 😉

 

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