Thursday, 28 November 2013

Winter Sewing Plans, So Zo Vests

I intended this post to go out a long time ago but life had other plans, so it feels as though I am way behind everyone else in getting down to some new season sewing.

I need some basics pieces - I have had a minimal wardrobe for four years and the most worn stuff is getting holey (is that a word?). Last winter I got by on two pairs of jeans, a pair of cords and a black skirt for smarter occasions (obviously I am talking about bottom halves I did have some tops!!), but some days I didn't want to wear trousers again. So a few more feminine bits are (almost) top of my list (see below).

I tried my local charity shops first (quicker than sewing!) but a lot of the clothes looked really well worn so not really an improvement on what I already have. I don't know whether this is because of hard times (more people shopping there), or decline in the quality of donations (or both). We have recently had a Primark open in the nearest city and I know new clothes are very cheap there. Maybe people are buying and discarding them quickly rather than investing in good quality pieces? (Read about all the issues here).


Winter Sewing

1. Necessities - vests, pyjamas, apron.

2. Basics - long sleeve t-shirts, versatile bottom halves for doing chores in and dog walking.

3. Gifts.

4. Bonus sewing - if I can get through the other stuff I have a few patterns I want to try, to expand my skills or because the styles are different/interesting. I am a little bored with beginner stuff although the things I have made are all useful...truthfully I think I'm putting off moving to the next level. Maybe in the depths of winter when Christmas is past, will be a good time to try.

Anyway I have started my necessities! Pictured is one of my winter vests made with So Zo's pattern, which you can download here. (I was trying to make something similar to thermal underwear.)

Vest Front

Vest Back

I apologise for the dreadfulness of these photos. The light is terrible at the moment indoors and I appear to have developed camera shake. Anyway...

I have never used a PDF pattern before (I can just about bear to trace Burda and Ottobre patterns but am generally too impatient/lazy to stick pieces of paper together), this was a great pattern to start with as there weren't many pieces. I actually didn't mind as much as I expected and might buy more PDF patterns in the future.

I used a soft organic cotton jersey from Etsy shop Fabrique Romatique. I think this is the perfect name for a fabric shop! I cut it out in a single layer with a rotary cutter for nice sharp edges. It sewed up easily on the overlocker and I used a jersey needle to attach the elastic. The elastic was a soft non-fold over variety - I have very sensitive skin and wanted a decorative edge. It was a bit too soft in the end - I followed the instructions for construction on Zoe's blog, which recommended stretching the elastic as it was attached, but I had to really stretch this stuff and it still doesn't hug as tightly as I would like. I unpicked the elastic on the first vest and reattached it when it dawned on me it didn't have much stretch at all. The others I assembled production line style doing the same task on each at a time.

Beginners Tips For Attaching Flat Elastic

It may be that it's just my sewing machine who feels it should only be asked to work with the finest quilting cotton, but in case someone else has a similarly capricious machine this might save them a bit of bother:

1. Read Zoe's advice about the correct way up etc. to attach the elastic.
2. Experiment on scraps - my machine, elastic and fabric combination seemed to work and look the best on a 5.0 width and a 3.0 stitch length but this will vary with what you use.
3. If you have a stitch speed setting set it to the slowest until you're feeling more confident as it helps with control.
4. My machine did not like starting off. A few turns of the handwheel at the beginning helped with this.
5. As did holding the threads behind the needle until the elastic had started to feed through.
6. My jersey and elastic combination were a little bit slippy and inclined to part company - I found steadying the fabric at the back with my left hand while feeding in as normal with my right hand really helped.

Attached flat elastic with zig zag stitch
I wanted extra long vests so I added 2 inches and I didn't hem them to reduce bulk (idea copied from a ready to wear thermal vest). I made 4 vests for me and one for my youngest daughter out of the leftover fabric.

There was still a small amount of fabric left, so I downloaded So Zo's pants/knickers pattern and used up the next smallest scrap. When I started reading sewing blogs I used to wonder why anyone would want to put pictures of their pants on the internet (do these people have no pride?!). Now I know why. Sewing these was BRILLIANT. I admit, they are not my best work as I became so over-excited by the simplicity and speed and the fact that I can actually sew my own pants that I got a little carried away. But I can see a lot of possibilities for future refinement/embellishment. If you haven't had a go at making your own, DO IT NOW! It doesn't take long and you can use up jersey scraps or your families old T-shirts (better ask first!). OK, here's the pic:

They would not win prizes for good looks - a thinner jersey would have been more appropriate - but I had so much fun making them I don't care! Oh and in keeping with using every last bit I cut up the remaining scraps for gussets for future pairs.

All pride now gone!!

What's on your winter need/wish list - and are you making any of it yourself?

Happy sewing, 'til next time!