Category Archives: Adventures in Overlocking

Loco for Coco

Let’s start on a high – me & Mama Coco herself – the inspirational Tilly.

Coco and tilly(I have not cropped this picture – I mean the turquoise wall has its own fame, right?!)   So -  Stripes & spots looking good together- (no not “goof” as my typing is trying malevolently to force me to write)   I am hoping that this marks the Coco highpoint because you see I need to come down from the Coco high or is it more an affliction I’ve got?  Is it contagious?

Tell me people- when you are fabric shopping do you assess fabric against the “could this be a Coco top” criteria?  Do you also have a developing “Coco stash”.

(Introducing evidence reference A1)

coco stashIt is not without cause that Coco has become the panacea to losing one’s sewing mojo.  Not that that has been a problem for me.  However, Coco tempts me with its style & simplicity of construction for “those times when I want a relaxing stylish sew”.  I tell you it is a most reassuring thought to know that I have *a number* of suitable lengths of fabric should I feel the urge and the odd free hour to make it.  My first Coco top has been a stalwart outfit addition for my weekends,and  Merino rocks the Coco.  But where could I go next but with a ponte?

So enter Coco #2.  I made this using some ponte from Plushaddict.  Sucker that I am I saw it on Twitter when my Coco mania was reaching peak purchase potential.  I also bought the black/ cream double knit  (for a nautical dress oh yes.  It is destined for a seaside photo shoot when it is made & the time comes).  But I digress, blame it on fou-de-Coco.  Onto the Coco in hand … still in absolute first throes of love with the funnel neck I just had to make another version.

Coco

I made up as designed, but felt something was missing – in an artistic kind of artist/  gardeners’ smockette- a pocket kanga would want to jump into.  So I cut one freehand & sewed it on, with my trying- ever-so-hard-to-please-me coverstitch machine (our relationship is improving thanks to an intervention from Melissa when she came to stay.  But coverstitch & me – we have a way to go before we are best buds)

kangaroo pockt coco

The kangaroo pocket settled almost nicely (coverstitching needed a bit of rescuing & a fair amount of bar tacking by my regular trusty dependable-knight-in-shining-armour machine at key stress points).  However, I may have located the pocket a bit high & darned if I was going to take it all off.  A bit of playing around in the mirror later & the design decision was taken to shorten Coco to become hip length.  It works.  But now you know the truth.  Some of my design decisions are reactive due to not thinking things through….and there you were thinking that everything was part of the plan …

inside coco

So it’s been a wonderful weekend & evening staple- lounging in style.  So come the Coco party *for real* when I was in such fantastic company for the final of the Great British Sewing Bee, it was the obvious choice.

How many Cocos in this sewing selfie?

It was such a lovely evening watching the final with Coco-wearing sewing blogging pals ( me, Katie, Rachel, Janene, Tilly, Jane, Alana) .  Katie has written up the evening (plus two amazing Cocos), capturing the atmosphere if you are interested in even more.   I was thrilled to get a picture for this blog post with Tilly  – against *the” turquoise wall.

coco tilly and me

So, while we were there we were lucky enough to have a preview of Tilly’s book: Love at First Stitch & if you pop along to Tilly’s blog you will see that she has shared one of the projects from her blog- the sweet Brigitte scarf- for a book launch blogosphere -party on Thursday 8th May.  I’m in, are you?

I should Coco

Folks I present to you my version of Tilly’s dreamchild, Coco.  I did not want to hold back from making it, & downloaded my very own version as soon as it was released, but sewing priorities meant I had to wait ….until…..last week.

coco top

The funnel neck lured me and is suitably alluring.  I had some incredible sky blue Merino jersey that the wonderful Mrs C had sent across to me all the way from New Zealand that had been waiting to be made into a cardigan.  It had waited a while though, partly because I wanted to get it right & honour the gorgeous fabric with a worthy make (my last green cardigan was a bit of a disappointment).

coco

So inspiration kicked in & Coco became Merino, or Merino became Coco.  I just knew that it would be a match made in heaven.    I knew that I would get a lot of use from it & that it’s turning out well was more of a safe bet than a cardigan.

coco top(Oh yes, another classy photo composition.  Just me & the composter)

Once that decision was made I have to say it was a very quick & delightful sewing experience.  I used my lunch hour to sew most of it whilst working at home.  The hems were finished off later that same day.  Bam.  Coco forever.

coco top

I am so not sorry that I used my Merino.  It is a perfect match & ideal spring wear.  I have many more Cocos in my imagination too.

coco top

You see I have always had a Breton shirt in my cupboard ever since I ordered one mailorder from a Sunday supplement when I was 17.  It is one of the few non-me made tops I still wear & I am so looking forward to rectifying that!  And I seem to have timed this just right for the Coco party.  Now how did I manage that?

My Coco party jukebox track is going to be “Too Many Fish in the Sea” by the Marvelletes.

Looking forward to seeing plenty of other inspiration as this Coco will run & run I think :-)

PB Jam Leggings (capri length) with a hint of cheetah

I’ve been promising you these for a while now, haven’t I?  The PB Jam Leggings by Fehr Trade.  I was lucky enough to be involved as a tester & have been timing this blog post to fall outside the initial flurry of excitement when the pattern was released in case any of you have forgotten to go & get it !  You see they are an awesome design & I love them!

pb jam leggings(OK, so next door have a patio with a lovely large table …..)

My first pair are not worth showing due to poor fabric choice on my part (I chose fabric that was far too flimsy for being worn as running leggings.  Maybe as an extra layer in normal use under a skirt, but not for wearing outdoors with nothing to protect others’ eyes against my really visible panty line ! Classy!  )  This pair of PB Jam leggings are made using a magenta wicking fabric from the Sewing Chest which is rather lovely against the skin & has a lovely amount of stretch.  The leopard swishes are just any old lycra – not a technical fabric.  Well I say “any old lycra”  but in truth it just happens to be the same lycra as I made my XYT workout top in – so I now have a coordinating set of running togs that are flaunting more than a hint of cheetah.  Maybe the cheetah will rub off into my psyche & I shall run with grace and break my personal land speed records.    OR kick the pants off some bad dude who is thwarting justice?

(Source)

Anyway, I had tested the pattern using the not-to-be-shown flimsy fabric & so had a grasp of how it all fitted together, along with any adjustments for fit.  I knew that making them shorter as capri length would suit me & the time of year I would be wearing them in, so I just shortened the PB Jams to that they stopped at the end of the back knee contrast – I didn’t cut out the lower back leg piece below this.  I shortened the front lower leg using the knee notches for measuring & comparing against – hem at the bottom of the back knee piece was several inches underneath the knee notch – I made sure the front lower leg’s new hemline was the same distance below its knee notch.

pb jam leggings( & the remains of a clematis which we know will resurrect itself)

As with other Fehr Trade patterns (ie the XYT Top) the instructions are well illustrated & guide you through the construction which just looks more complicated than it actually is.  I mean these leggings are a wondrous jigsaw & the pieces really do fit together !  It’s amazing!  The only step I would urge taking extra care with is transferring notches & matching notches with the swirls to make sure you get them set in the legs the right way up.  I have made that mistake – it’s easily done!

pb jam leggings

I haven’t taken photos to show you, but you do know that there is a canny pocket secreted inside the upper back of the PB Jams that is cleverly constructed don’t you? & just the right size for a phone, or some keys & a gel or two.

pb jam leggings(More of a nose next door – I know you are curious)

So what do you think?  I haven’t actually worn my “lycra suit” out as a pair in public.  I am not really into matchy matchy plus it has not been warm enough yet.  I also think it looks a bit more “Olivia Newton John” than I can pull off.  But guys, I think you’re worth the whole pose.

pb jam leggings

And  in front of the gap in next door’s fence?  I did that for you too.  I had considered drawing some funny stuff on the photo so that there was a rare view of the hanging gardens of Babylon , but in the end my photo editing skills would be far too basic & would look like something a 4 year old could do better at.

pb jam leggings

Anyway, back to the PB Jams.  They have been worn & work well.  OK, so the cheetah legs have not materialised just yet but I am sure it is a matter of time.  You can get them right now as a download!  And you should see other versions that are springing up- clever use of fabrics.  I am planning to make a pair out of the same coloured fabric but use my overlocker’s rolled hem to create faux piping along the swirly seams.  They’d look a bit special I think.

 

Overlocking / serger tips: finishing your seams

Something for the weekend! I’m so thrilled that some of you found my last tip on unpicking overlocker seams useful, but let’s hope that you don’t have to use it too often!!
Today I’ve collected three ways to finish overlocker seams, but this is by no means definitive! These are just the three that I am aware of…

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So the first method must be the most common way to finish serged hems: using a large needle (? Darning needle?) with a large eye to darn your chain back into the seam. It’s quick, effective and easy. But tedious don’t you think? All those hanging chains left after such a quick pass through the overlocker and you’ve got two ends to darn back in for every seam you sew ( or do you see thoughts later)

So another method I’m aware of ( but don’t practice) is to use fray check.

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Now Fray Check is a glue type stuff – thin and solventy. You can tie your chain as close to the seam as you can get. ( use a pin, needle in the middle of your knot as you tie it to position it close). Snip the ends then apply Fray Check.

The third approach requires some familiarity with your overlocker and a degree of comfort using it. You need to meet your ‘stitch fingers’. They are fiendishly difficult to photograph so I have taken off my machine’s foot to get in there for a peep.

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Ok. If you can ( squint through one eye if it helps) look at what’s in the circle. The stitch fingers are the two prongs, really thin, and about 1cm long. Now I am not au fait with the engineering and mechanics of sewing machines and reckon that sewing machines create stitches with a number of threads by *magic*. But I have worked out that the overlocker uses the stitch fingers as part of its magic to wrap the two, three or four threads around that then creates the chain which when around fabric becomes the miracle of the wonderfully secure, bound and neat set of serged stitching.

Ok, so you have now been introduced to the stitch fingers. These guys stay very close to your fabric when you are sewing. Remember that. And now let’s see how this knowledge is useful for finishing the start of your seam.

Get your seam ready to sew with your overlocker and sew very slowly until the needles take their first real stitch into your fabric. Use the hand wheel if you want and leave the needles down in the fabric.

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Lift your foot up and grab the chain at the beginning of the seam. Give the chain a little tug backwards to remove it from the stitch fingers, then bring it forward, in front and underneath the foot. You want the chain to be taught so that there is not any excess hanging around at the beginning of your seam.

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Lower your foot and sew the seam, and you will nicely finish the end in your seam. No darning! Kaboom!
So what about the other end of the seam? Well, ok. It’s got a different technique. Overlock your seam until you get close to the end.

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As soon as you reach the end of your seam stop and raise your foot, I’ve left my needles down.

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Ok, grasp your garment and pull it backwards off the stitch fingers. You want to create a small amount of slack in the threads to do this, but not too much otherwise you’ll end up with a whole load of thread spaghetti and it won’t look neat.

Flip the garment over so that the seam you’ve just sewn is on the right hand side and carefully slide this upside down seam underneath the foot of your machine and butt (?) the edge inside the cutting knife ( we don’t want or need to cut any more of this seam) and position it so that you can sew over your original seam, starting at the original seam’s end ( which is now the beginning!). If that sounds complicated it’s just words. All we are trying to do is to oversew – retrace our steps over the original seam.

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Over sew then, the flipped over side of this seam for a couple of centimetres then veer off to the right to end. Then snip. All done.

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Try it and see?

So what do I actually use most when I’m overlocking? I use a mixture of the first and the third method. I am trying to form a habit to use the third method more as it is the neatest and less faff ( and machine always wins over hand for me). But with the third method you’ll find that the neatness of your finish depends upon how snugly the loose chain is brought back into your finishing- too much excess and as I said above it becomes a spaghetti of birds’ nests.

And here’s the thing. Think about when you are sewing your garment using an overlocker. You do not have to finish every seam. Depending about the order of construction there are seams that you can just leave the chain hanging because that chain will get captured and finished off as it is incorporated into other seams. Eg think of a simple tee shirt.
Leave the chains on the Shoulder seams as both ends will be finished with either a sleeve or the neck band/ facing. Side seams now – depends on what the hem finish is going to be. If a hem band like the Renfrew, then the chain can hang, because there are other pieces to attach and capture those chain ends. If though you will be making a turned up and stitched hem, you need to finish the chains.

But why finish two when you can get away with one plus make it easier to hem? Want to hear another of my cheats? For any folded hem that I need to make on knits I tend to overlock the hem edge, thereby clearing off all of the dangly chains ( even more useful if you’ve made something with a number of different panels as it means even less darning in!). Once I’ve overlocked the hem edge I just have one chain to finish. But overlocking the hem also helps as you can make sure your seam allowances are set towards the back at this stage and also, the stitching sometimes provides a bit more structure for turning your hem. There might be reasons not to do it this way, but so far it’s suited me fine.

So any more finishing methods that anyone else uses? I’m interested to try more!

Overlocker tips: unpicking seams

I haven’t got loads of tips for using overlockers or sergers, but the are a couple of things that for some of you, you’ll think, ‘basic!’ and not read any further. But had I found a few of these things out when I started out my relationship with my overlocker I’m sure we would have had less rows.

So one of the worst things apart from inadvertent cutting through the body of your garment due to enthusiasm and misapplied attention to the wrong part of the seam you are serging is finding out your seam needs to be re sewn. Because that means you’ve already lost your seam allowance right? Now I haven’t got a solution for the lost seam allowance, but what about unpicking serged seams?  Sometimes we make mistakes.  All of us.

Unpicking overlocker or serger seams

Look familiar?? The numbers of times I’ve fought tooth and nail with those irritating threads when I’ve made a mistake. And ended up resorting to doing this

Unpicking overlocker or serger seams

Cheats way out! Desperate absolute last resort. But you never need to get that far if you know how. It just takes a bit of understanding which threads to focus on. So I threaded my overlocker with different colours to show you- orange thread for the left needle, white for the right needle and red woolly nylon for the loopers.  I’m showing you a four thread overlock stitch, but the same principle applies to a three thread stitch too.

And sewing a four thread overlock stitch it looks like this

Unpicking serger seams
This is the top side. You can see that the needle threads show up nicely as the horizontal stitches, whilst this below is the wrong side where the needle threads are not so visible

Unpicking serger seams.

So bearing this in mind, let’s aim to take out those needle threads. There is a way to identify the needle threads in the chain at the beginning or end of your stitching (they are usually the straighter threads whilst the looper threads are loopier, around these straight threads).  So if you can find the needle threads you just pull them together like this with the effect of  “ruffling” the looper threads around your needle threads as you pull them.

Unpicking overlocker seams
And it’s a bit like reluctant gathering ! You’re pulling firmly and hoping for dear life that the threads don’t snap all the while the fabric often resists. But you can see it worked in this instance

Unpicking overlocker seams
You can see that all that’s left once those needle threads are pulled are the remains of the looper threads. They have nothing to keep them attached though and are history.  Just brush them away & into the bin!

But it’s often hard to pick out the needle threads from the chain if you are using four threads the same colour. There is another easier way – the way that I do it. Concentrating only on the needle threads place your seam so that you are looking at the top of it.

Unpicking serger seams

And unpick as you would a normal seam but only focusing on the needle threads.  But keep away from the loopers – that’s where the trouble starts.  Easy if you know!!

Lady skater bandwagon

I fell for it. I caved. It was too much for me seeing the many delightful versions of the lady skater dress by Kitschy Koo. Flirty skirt? Check. Figure flattering bodice? Check. Long sleeves and winter ready? Check. Specially designed for knits? I’m there!

lady skater (3)

I’d bought it before Christmas thinking that it was about time I made a casual comfy cosy winter dress. During January I’d found the perfect fabric- some sweater knit ( same collection as my avocado sweater knit hoodie). It’s another John Louden design from my local fabric shop. But this is the most wonderful vivid jewel coloured gorgeousness. Loud?  To some (eg My Mum who likes muted colours & would blanche at the thought of all of these primaries ;-) ) Sky blue turquoise background with paintbox flowers. Sweater knit. 20% off. Understandable purchase ?  I think so!  I bought 1.5m and had enough to make the long sleeved version in a size 3 (I think…)

lady skater dress

I made it up over a weekend with lots of other things going on.  Not concerted sewing.  I reckon it’s the kind of dress you could make up in a couple of hours.  Everyone has said it’s a well designed pattern and has wonderful instructions with neat tips for sewing knits if you are less familiar. But I wasn’t aware that the pattern when downloaded used rainbow colours to differentiate the different sizes. Wheee!! Rainbows to make it easier and more joyous to the eye when doing the bit that has to be the most boring. I’m not the only one that wants to whizz through the taping and cutting am I?  And I’ve just downloaded a Maria Denmark pattern (the Oversized Olivia Tee) & see that she has introduced rainbows too!! Yippee.  Like.  A lot.

lady skater (2)

So I loved making this dress and the bodice and skirt fit perfectly. (The wrinkles above are just twisty-body wrinkles).  No issues.  It’s got different sleeve lengths which are finished with cuffs.  Having made the long sleeved version I think the sleeves are just the right length & snugness for winter & to also wear under a cardigan.  It can be irritating when sleeves are not long enough or there is too much bulk to slip under a cardigan effortlessly, but the Skater dress passes this practicality test in my view.

lady skater

The use of elastic at the waist is brilliant and something I’ve never had to do before, having only ever made knit dresses that have one piece fronts and backs, (OK, this is a bit of a generalisation based on my Audrey dress which is always close to mind when I think gorgeous knit dresses, I might have made a few others eg cowl neck dress which has a waist – no elastic as does my depressed 70s vintage dress .)

lady skater (4)

OK where was I?  the elastic provides some support and shape maintenance for this dress which has a separate bodice from skirt & a defined waist.  Now it would be awful if over the course of wearing this dress the waist got saggy, wouldn’t it?  It’s certainly a technique I’d use again.

lady skater dress (2)

I don’t know what else I can say about it except that I’m totally enjoying wearing it too. With woolly tights and a cardi. With my polar fleece leggings for après ski on holiday. I’ve worn it to work too and got so many compliments for wearing something so colourful !!

skater dress

This dress, folks, is the stylish way to chill out.  It’s the casual way to be stylish.  It could take you from the sofa to the cinema….a perfect travel dress too.

So all in all I reckon I’ll be making more of these:-)

And a bit of backstory about these photos.  Two things have changed since taking them.  My hair, of course.  The bouffant that needs restraint (which by the way I am suppressing with ease ) plus the fence & clematis.  It has been blown out by the strong winds we’ve suffered recently.  If I manage a photo session before the panel gets replaced I’ll give you a sneaky peek in the neighbours’ garden, would that be fun?!?

Avocado hoodie the third. This one’s for snuggling

So I couldn’t wear hand-made on the slopes, but I surely could hanging around the chalet.  I made my third Avocado Hoodie with apres ski in mind.  I felt a cosy snuggly (but stylish) sweater would go perfectly with my Jamie Jeans.  I’d bought some awesome sweater knit in the January sales at my local fabric store (no online fabric outlet, otherwise I’d post the link).  It’s a John Louden design & I fell for it (but resisted admirably) when I was purchasing fabric to make Christmas presents for my boys (shirts as yet measured for but not cut out!  Gee I am so slack).  So at the time of the January sales I just could not resist & was drawn to this fabric (& another which will be revealed shortly) like a moth to a flame.  Or a badger to a slug?

avocado hoodie 1

So it’s a sweater knit, not overly weighty, but has these brightly coloured flowers sprinkled over it like hundreds & thousands.  It was time to become a hoodie.  I have noted my adventures with the avocado hoodie here (my first “Tron” hoodie) and here (hoodie with a centre lace zip).  Both were for wearing running, this one was most definitely not.

avocado hoodie (2)

A casual hoodie.  A weekend & holiday hoodie.

avocado hoodie (4)

And that’s what’s so great about this pattern.  It is so versatile.  I’ve now got two colour blocked versions and this one using a single fabric.  I’ve used bamboo jersey, supplex & now sweater knit.  I would still love to make a fleecy chunky one !

avocado hoodie (5)

I’ve said before that as with all of Mari’s patterns, it’s design is superb & quirky – shown in my colour blocked versions, but masked in this busier fabric.  It’s a great fit & a reasonably straightforward make.  The most tricky step is the tab pockets, but hey, Mari is hosting a sewalong for the Avocado hoodie – even more resources available to you if you need it.

avocado hoodie

Design options I chose for this version?  The overlapping neck, the extra long cuffs with thumb holes but no back pockets (there is an option to add a “partner pocket” for your beau to keep their hand warm as you walk arm in arm).

avocado hoodie (3)

Lovely long sleeves for cosy times!

What more can I say?  Oh yes.  I’ve had my hair chopped & apparently “I can experiment”.  Today’s look is the “wavy Audrey” look (as in Audrey Tatou, but with silver badger bits).  It really is not hair for being blown around outside with…..think 1980s great aunt.  Talk about embarrassing.  Bouffant of the most unflattering proportions.  I shall be making hats. :-) !

And finally…please could you give me some feedback on the Bloglovin issue – if you were having it – is it any better now that I have changed my blog template?  (Fingers, legs & eyes crossed you say “yes”!)

Challenge response: Dotty Deer & Doe Plantain top

You know me by now.  I love a challenge.  And for some reason I’d been too engaged with other stuff to have seen the challenge to make the Deer & Doe Plantain – free downloadable t-shirt when it was announced…but this week it popped up through social media & I felt compelled to join in.

Plantain

Everyone had said how lovely it is to sew, what a great shape & well, those elbow patches are just adorable.  I had a feeling this was one for an evening, & so I gave myself 2 hours (in all) to cut out & sew my version.  (I had printed & taped the pattern the evening before during my wind-down-before-bed telly time).

plantainAnd I hit the spot.  I seriously took 30 mins to cut it out (& burn my dinner), and then an hour and a half to sew it up.

plantainI also used fabric from my stash.  This is some awesome Patty Young fabric that I bought aeons ago from MisforMake and made this dress here.  There was quite a bit left, but in true badger style, I had to design my top based on my available resources….& therefore the sleeves are one fabric, with the body & elbow patches being the other.  Luckily these two fabrics coordinate like a boss.

plantain I made a size up from what I would usually because a. this fabric shrunk last time I made it up and b. I wasn’t sure just how much stretch-&-return it would give and c. I really wanted it to be slouchy!!

plantain

Sewing?  I used my overlocker for most of it, but opted for a twin needle hem & to secure the seam allowance at the neckline.

plantain

And I did not use a long straight stitch for my elbow patches as instructed, but used a small zig zag, as I liked the idea of it better!!

plantain So how does it differ to my other firm favorite t-shirt patterns, the mighty Sewaholic Renfrew and the Maria Denmark Birgitte Tee?  I shall just compare the long sleeved round neck versions – bear in mind both Birgitte and Renfrew have alternative sleeve lengths & necklines.

  • Well, Plantain is a more fit & flared shape (but not too flared- just right for being a bit slouchy) – Birgitte is the closest fitting with more shaping & negative ease, and the Renfrew is more of a straight-down with slight curves;
  • Plantain and Birgitte both have low scooping necklines;
  • Hemlines on Plantain & Birgitte are turn ups whereas Renfrew has hem bands- so a very different finish;
  • Oh & did you see that Plantain has elbow patches marked out for you?!

plantain So here t’is.  My Plantain & I love it….Thank you for such an awesome freebie Eleonore – you can download the Deer & Doe Plantain here.

Lace zipped Avocado Hoodie

It’s time to show you my version number two of the Avocado Hoodie by Disparate Disciplines.  My first was a colour blocked neon glow in the dark piped bamboo jersey version.  This version?  Why it’s another sports version but with a pretty design twist.

avocado Once again I made it out of my stash fabric – some blue supplex from Tissu Fabrics.  And once again  I utilised the cool piecing of the Avocado hoodie to go down the colour blocked route again (because I was using stash scraps), but I’m pleased with the way that navy & royal blue look together….especially with some yellow….

Avocado Yes this was my cunning plan for using the longest bit of my lace edged zip -(after making a lace topped pocket on these leggings)  a pretty bit of lace to what would otherwise be functional sportswear.   And look you can buy these gorgeous zips at Guthrie & Ghani (UK).

avocado I think just using a centre yellow zip was not quite enough & the design didn’t hang together well enough. To make the yellow trim work out in a balanced way, once I had inserted the zip I had some left that I could use to trim the pocket tabs – purely topstitched on after the event- single pieces of zip.

avocado Like the colour blocking?

avocado And matchee matchee lace zips!!

avocado So, to alter the pattern to bring in a zip front,  all you need to do differently is to cut the front of the avocado hoodie pattern with a seam allowance on both sides of the centre front & cut the non-overlapping hood version.  Using a zip that is meant to be exposed means that the zip is one of the last steps that you do – it’s basically topstitched onto each centre front once the seam allowances have been turned to the inside.  I reckon this is potentially easier than inserting a regular dividing  zip?  But as that’s something I’ve never sewn I could be far out on this .  (If so- apols!)  One of the draw backs though for this particular zip, is that this zip doesn’t separate so it’s not a true jacket – but you can open the zip for some ventilation when you get hot!!

avocado

Now I haven’t had chance to wear this running yet as every time I’ve been out in daylight it’s been raining- therefore fluorescent yellow jacket has been donned.  And then I wouldn’t wear it in the dark (even if the evenings had been warm enough which they haven’t) because it’s not got any visibility (unlike the ‘electric’ or ‘Tron’ avocado I first made).

avocado But I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces – I do so love the long cuffs with the thumb holes :-)

So I was sooo thrilled with the comments made on the last time I made this, that somehow someone implanted the idea of making a non-sportswear avocado hoodie next time….& I just might have!  A more snuggly version ….To be continued :-)

 

 

Fehr Trade sportswear: XYTing! (A Jungle January make)

So come on, who’s excited about the new sewing patterns for workouts  ( for me read running ) from our very own Melissa of Fehr Trade who also writes a most inspiring & informative running blog, River Runner?  And if I use the word ‘proud’ it’s because I can’t think of a better one to use, but it’s not quite right to describe how AWESOME it feels that one of my blogging gurus has taken her eye for style and her sewing skills in general but particularly being the goddess of working with knits, pattern drafting and design to follow a new path, becoming an inde sewing pattern designer.!!!  And for sportswear no less!! (Sorry that was rather a long gush, take a breath !) Three cheers !!

xyt top As this make was such new territory for me, I make no apologies for the number of photos so that you can get an idea of the technical gymnastics that must have been involved in designing this.  More awe.

xyt top Anyway, when I was asked to be a pattern tester of course I said yes. But my attempts were not without challenge, but part of the testing process. Anyway. What you need to know is that after a few test tops, I have an ‘x’ back XYT top to show you ready for Jungle January, because people, I’ve fallen for leopard print Lycra!!  Meeeoooow!

xyt top Oh I love it!! The back is divine. The shape of the top all round is flattering and comfortable. And I am in love with the powermesh lining which means that I never ever have to buy another sports bra.

xyt top I’m thrilled. Yep, it’s been road tested a few times now and even in the longer runs I’m jiggle free. ( not much to jiggle mind you!) And in this current winter weather, whilst I haven’t been able to show it to the world it’s the perfect base layer under a long sleeved top.  And then just a few more degrees & it can be released, my inner cheetah, gliding atop of my running shoes.  (Yeah, right!  More like a cheetah with all four legs in plaster ;-)  )

xyt topSo onto The XYT top pattern. It is called XYT because there are three variations in the back: ‘x’ style, ‘Y’ back and a slinky ‘T’ back. Exciting, no?

The top can be made with the powermesh (or powernet) lining or not. I got mine from the Sewing Chest & talk about a quick turnaround, I was really impressed.  The instructions give plenty of guidance for sorting out the lining, identifying its stretch if necessary to adjust the sizing, however, I suspect that the stretch of most powermesh is standard to Melissa’s standard pattern size.

xyt top I learnt a lot of techniques through sewing this top and Melissa provides all the instructions you need, with great diagrams. And something that I love, she also gives the lengths of elastic for each piece, which I like as, left to my own judgement, I never know if I am giving it enough stretch as I insert it around armholes, necklines etc.

xyt top Melissa also gives different instructions for using a coverstitch machine with a binder, but I’m still getting to grips with my coverstitch machine, so have not thought it worth investing time and money in that attachment (it’s a whopping £70 odd quid, & I’m still too rubbish with my coverstitch to embark on something else even more complicated !).

xyt top (4)
If not using a coverstitch, the armholes and neck edges are kept neat and trim with elastic. Just normal elastic. I made a few of my test tops with elastic following this approach, however I took a leap of faith and used fold over elastic for my jungle January number in cerise, oh yeah. And I think I will use FOE every time now. My local haberdashery ( in the Guildhall market, 2 mins from my office!!) has started to stock all of the FOE colours they can get their hands on. Nice one.  And I seem to get better results using a three step zig zag to attach it, & that’s what I used this time.

xyt top I’ve got a bit more work to do on the fit – there is a bit of extra at the side seams that needs to come out, but it’s totally wearable & I understand what’s needed next time, which is good.  So, that’s the XYTing story, the first chapter in what will be many of these tops to come ( I have to make all the different backs up!! Lots of times ?!) It’s a winner people and you can download it here- in a whole range of sizes.  Serious hats off to Melissa, she’s also designed the PB Jam leggings which also feature clever piecing – certainly not taking the easy design route.  So, my PB Jam leggings are to come….Can’t wait to see what else Melissa comes up with.  GOOD LUCK Melissa.