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).

So,

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! 











18 comments:

  1. Nice! I've played with her patterns before, but yet to make a really useable rendition yet. Maybe this winter will inspire me to try them again!

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    1. I did find them really straightforward to use - nothing not to like!

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  2. Great job on the vests! We call them "tanks" lol. So I was a bit confused at first. but they look awesome. I need some of them. I also love the undies. It is so exciting to sew them. I know it sounds weird but really, it is! They are so useful for scraps!

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    1. Mine are just for under jumpers but they would make great basic summer tops..I honestly didn't know it was such fun to sew up little things like knickers. I just loved having a finished product so quickly and they look really professional too. I see a lot of underwear making in my future :)

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  3. We call them camisoles! (if meant to be worn underneath). I just made almost the exact same garment last night for my daughter.

    Your tops and undies look great. In fact, you're undies look so much prettier than mine - I used kiddie print t-shirt scraps and won't be posting photos (:

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    1. I'm sure they will do the job! I am definitely not above using kid's printed fabric, or any fabric I can get my hands on for that matter. I have (perhaps unwisely) a duvet cover lined up to be used for clothing at some point!

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  4. It's always struck me as interesting that what is called a vest in the UK, we (in Canada and the States) call a camisole (or spaghetti strap tank top), where as what we refer to as a vest is a waistcoat on the other side of the pond. It really makes you wonder when and why the original British name got changed over here in North America, doesn't it?

    Big hugs (the first from my new computer :)) and countless happy start of December wishes, my sweet friend!
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. The differences in language are indeed curious and mysterious! Luckily, we understand each other pretty well :) so pleased you are 'back in action'! X

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  5. The new undies and camisoles turned out just lovely! and I smiled at your assessment of those of us who post our new "smalls", it is the opposite of having no pride, but actually that we are very proud of our makes after all :)

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    1. I do completely agree. I started reading sewing blogs long before I started this one, and before I really committed to making my own clothes. I thought it was kind of strange to show one's underwear in public and couldn't imagine doing it myself (being a purchaser rather than a maker). To be truthful I never in my wildest dreams imagined I could make my own underwear! Until recently I would have completely ruled it out as much too complicated. Now I can even see a day when I might make a bra, or a bikini! Just goes to show I suppose, how much a person can change and grow!

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  6. So, I popped over to find out if you'd been making Sew Chic Trousers (re your comment on Tilly's blog) as I'm curious what they'd look like on real person and I find you've been making knickers, how cool is that?! I was just wondering how I could recycle some of my old t shirts the other day. And now I have a search for Fold Over Elastic as an excuse to go to the fabric shop. Thank you!

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    1. I can't deny it - I have been making knickers and plan to make many more pairs (every time I make a t-shirt or get my hands on some jersey tbh!). I am slightly worried about the weirdness of having knickers that match my t-shirts but I suppose no-one will know...I did buy the Sew Chic book and there are a few things I would like to make although I think they are more summer things and I am going for winter stuff at the moment. The trousers are a bit more harem-y than I imagined from the photograph so I am a bit scared as I know my husband will tease me mercilessly if they are Aladdin-like! Please let me know if you make them!

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    2. Oh and I should add I had absolutely no luck in fabric shops trying to get hold of FOE but there is quite a lot on the internet, especially Etsy (but you probably have better shops round your way than me). Good luck with the undies making!

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    3. Found some FOE today, 3rd shop I tried. Now to find time for yet another sewing project....

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    4. If you go for the So Zo... knickers you probably only need half an hour! Good luck x

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  7. It must be deeply satisfying to have a drawer full of knickers that you made yourself. I find that I often match my sock colour to my t shirts so why not knickers too! Feeling inspired, I will add upcycling t shirts to my never ending project list. Looks quick, if I can get appropriate elastic.

    http://prolificprojectstarter.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/sew-chic-pinafore/

    I wasn't sure how the sew chic clothes would look on me (size 16) and was worried they'd be tentlike which isn't flattering. I opted for the kids book as a kind of trial. The first make (completed yesterday) is very popular...

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  8. I can't find any blog posts from someone whose made the trousers. There are loads of book reviews from people who've been sent the book by the publisher but most haven't made anything from it. I did find someone whose made a blouse from a previous edition http://bloglessanna.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/i-am-the-jungle/ and sized down from a 16 to 10 so they must be intended toe extremely baggy?!

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    1. Now that's a cute pinafore! I wish I could get away with some of the clothes kids can wear. I have exactly the same reservations as you with regard to the Japanese style, as I am 'well endowed' and fear the styles might hang straight down from there, but I feel compelled to try them (it will be in the summer). I will post them even if they look hideous in the interests of all concerned. It seems they are extremely generously cut, I am wondering if soft floaty fabric will be key! Btw love your blog name!

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