Saturday, 7 January 2017

Learning to use my New Cover Stitch Machine

Christmas gifts I received recently included a Janome CoverPro 2000CPX cover stitch machine... something I had been dropping lots of hints about in the lead up to Christmas. I also received the clear view foot, as everyone on IG had suggested it was a necessary accessory. I did hubby's Christmas shopping for him and ordered it online from for the sale price of $849.00 with free delivery. This sale price is still current and goes up to $999.00 on 16th January, so if you are after one you had better get in quick. My daughter sent me this adorable Liberty pin cushion shaped like an apple along with a gift card for Spotlight. My son has ordered The Tunic Bible by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr, which was out of stock, so I am looking forward to receiving it mid February. These were all very welcome additions to my sewing room.

I squeezed the CoverPro in between my overlocker and my sewing machine on my sewing desk. I think this set up works ok, even if it is a little crowded. I just have to be careful to use the right foot pedal with the right machine.

I'm so glad I got the clear view foot too. It makes it so much easier to line up the stitches when sewing in the round. I really knew very little about cover stitching so I searched for info on the internet and I discovered that Craftsy had a new course for beginners on sale, at the time, so I bought it straight away. I'm so glad I did, as it was very informative, explaining the basics as well as showing the more decorative ways of using the cover stitch.

I decided to sew a nice simple project for my first go at using the CoverPro. So a Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee fit the bill nicely. I have made this tee before and I have tweaked the pattern to improve the fit on me, by lengthening it and scooping out the neckline.

The fabric is a lovely 100% cotton jersey purchased from Spotlight. As it had no lycra or spandex component I used a scrap of white cotton/lycra for the neckline binding.

I used Bondaweb T10, an iron-on adhesive to secure the hems before cover stitching. I buy this from Knitwit. This resulted in nice even stitching with no tunnelling.

I did find it difficult to keep the stitching straight and wrap over the raw edge consistently. I found that it's better to sew slower rather than faster for the best result. I used a piece of tape as a hem guide which worked just fine. I'm not sure it would be worth the cost of purchasing the accessory specifically for this purpose. I did a pretty rough job of cover stitching the seam allowance of the neckline binding down, completely missing the raw edge in places. It looks ok from the outside so I left it as it is, vowing to improve that on the next one.

I was keen to try again, so I dug this red striped cotton jersey out of the stash. This is another Spotlight purchase from a few years ago, but it was printed terribly off grain. I thought I could make it work in this simple tee, so I cut it out, ignoring the grain and focusing on matching the stripes.

This stripe matching business adds so much time to what should have been a very quick sew. I meticulously pinned every stripe and sewed the side seams on my sewing machine, later finishing the seams on the overlocker once the stripes were matched.

Both pairs of shorts worn with these tees are RTW, purchased from Rockmans in the 50% off sales leading up to Christmas. These are the first RTW garments I have bought in ages but I could not have sewn these myself for less than what I paid for them.

The sleeve hems were cover stitched before the side seams were sewn.  

Knowing the difficulty I had with cover stitching the neckline on the first tee, I took particular care with this one, achieving a much better result.

I can see that my skills will improve with practice. I am so glad that I watched the Craftsy course before I started practicing as I didn't have any significant issues at all with that new found knowledge fresh in my mind.

I have had a lovely two and a bit weeks off work for the holidays. I managed to sew two dresses and two tees, participate in Christmas and New Year festivities, enjoy family visiting and do some gardening. Well, all good things come to an end and it's back to work on Monday.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Style Arc Adeline Dress #2

On Christmas Eve afternoon I got the silly idea to sew up my second Style Arc Adeline Dress to wear on Christmas Day. I did have a bit of a head start, as I had done all the cutting out and fusing the interfacing to the facings the night before. I thought it would only take a couple of hours as I had sewn it before here, but sadly I was a little over ambitious and I didn't finish it until 9pm and then I still had Christmas food to prepare. Anyway, all the stress has now been forgotten and these photos were taken yesterday in my mother's garden during it's second wearing, at a family New Year get together.

The fabric is a cotton linen blend purchased from Spotlight in a very colourful floral print. This fabric behaved very well and was a pleasure to sew and press. It was also nice and wide and I was able to eliminate the centre back seam. Also, wrinkling that is usually an issue with linen has not been a problem. I don't know the percentage of linen to cotton in this blend, but it wears very well with little wrinkling.

I made my usual Style Arc size 12 and I did make a couple of pattern alterations to this one in order to improve the fit. I shortened the length by 3cm at the lengthen/shorten line to give it a more summery vibe and I did a forward shoulder adjustment following this guide from Sew Hopeful.

The shoulder seam on the Adeline Dress is a relatively straight line. I removed a wedge from the front shoulder, 1.5cm at the sleeve edge tapering to nothing at the neckline. I then added this wedge to the back shoulder. This worked very well and the dress sits better on my shoulders, without wanting to slip back all the time. 

It is very important to stabilise the neckline to avoid any distortion or stretching. I did this by sewing some narrow cotton tape to the stitching line on the wrong side. It worked beautifully and the neckline sits perfectly. All the facings (neckline and hem) were under stitched and then top stitched so there is no problem with them flipping out or misbehaving at all.

The photo above was taken as I was attaching the patch pockets to the front. I posted this on IG, not knowing if I was going to be able to finish it in time for Christmas. I was very happy when I did manage to finish it in time as it was perfect for our Christmas Day weather and it was comfortable and stylish...but best of all, there was plenty of room for all that Christmas over indulging that tends to happen on Christmas Day.

I think I have a new favourite dress, and judging by the number of Adeline dresses popping up on my IG feed, it is becoming a very popular pattern. My darling grand daughter wanted to join in the photo shoot and this shot was just so lovely of her that I had to include it.

Wishing all my followers a wonderful 2017 filled with the joy of sewing.


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Style Arc Olivia Dress

According to the Style Arc website: "A great every day dress to have in your wardrobe that is very easy to sew. The flattering extended shoulder line along with the elastic waist makes this dress suitable for different occasions. Dress it up with your favourite designer belt or use the belt pattern to create your own look in a contrast fabric.

Style Arc Olivia Dress

This pattern has been around for quite a while and there are many lovely versions out there in blogland. It has taken me a while to finally purchase the pattern and try it out and I have not been disappointed.

I used this pretty tear drop printed rayon from Spotlight, but it was a nightmare to get those stripes lined up before cutting. Even though I spent quite a lot of time pinning the fabric to ensure the stripes matched, it still managed to shift and not be as perfectly aligned as I had hoped for. Next time I will steer clear of any striped patterns, especially in shifty rayon.

The only alteration I made to the pattern was to add an extra 1.5cm to the bottom edge of the bodice and the top edge of the skirt. I wanted to make sure there was plenty of fabric to be able to overlock the raw edges of the elastic casing with ease. This worked out very well. Some people have commented that the arm holes are too low and their bra is exposed, but I did not have this issue.

The bodice is maybe a little too blousey at the back, and could benefit from a little shortening. This may be due to the extra length I added to accommodate the finishing of the casing. I will need to think on this before I make another one.

I didn't make the belt included with the pattern. This narrow gold belt worked quite well with it. The neckline facing was top stitched down so there are no issues with it flipping out at all. The dress turned out very long and I ended up turning up a 5cm hem twice to achieve this length. This gave a nice weight to the hemline too. These photos were snapped in a hurry on Christmas Eve morning as we were about to head to the shops for our last bit of Christmas grocery shopping. It was cool and comfortable in the rayon and I would recommend this pattern as a nice simple wardrobe staple. Many different looks could be achieved depending on fabric choice and I think this would work well in a knit fabric too.

Happy Sewing

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Style Arc Kate Dress in Leopard Print

Style Arc Kate Dress
This is my third Style Arc Kate Dress. You might say I like this style. A classic wrap dress is flattering on most figures and they always makes me feel all feminine and girly when I wear my Kate dresses. You can see the others here and here.

Style Arc Kate Dress
I did simplify the pattern a little, by eliminating the tucks in the front by cutting the side without the tucks as a pair. I found in my first version that sewing the tucks was tricky in a slippery poly knit and they were not really necessary.

I added 3 cm of length to the bodice area to lower the waistline and kept the length (including the extra 3 cm). The waist ties were lengthened so that they would be long enough to go right around my waist and tie at the front.

I was planning to have short sleeves but after cutting them out I realised that they were a little too close fitting for short sleeves. I will try short sleeves next time, adding some extra width to the pattern before cutting out. I kinda like how these "just above the elbow" length sleeves turned out anyway, and they are fine for my cold air conditioned office at work.

The fabric is a poly/spandex knit in a leopard print, from Spotlight in Queanbeyan and they still have some available, or they did last Friday when I called in. (I love it when I have to drive to Canberra for a work meeting, and the route goes right past Spotlight in Queanbeyan. I usually take full advantage.)

The neckline was finished off with some self fabric binding turned to the inside and secured with a twin needle. I used Bondaweb on all the hems which eliminated skipped stitches and tunnelling when I sewed them with a twin needle. It makes such a difference when working with these slinky poly knits. 

I'm pretty happy with my new dress and I have worn it to work twice already.

Happy Sewing

Friday, 2 December 2016

Style Arc Hazel Dress

Style Arc Hazel Dress

This Style Arc Hazel Dress was actually made way back in May. You may have seen a sneak peep during Me Made May. I think I only got to wear it once before the weather turned cold, so it has taken until now to get some descent photos for the blog.

Style Arc Hazel Combo
From the Style Arc website: "This cocoon-type dress is Style Arc’s take on the exciting new oversized shape of this season. We’ve provided so many options for you with this pattern. Make it with or without sleeves. Make it with or without hidden pockets. You can even choose to make it as a top!"

I chose to make the dress with the sleeves and I also included the pockets. The fabric came from Spotlight. It was some sort of knit, not as heavy as a ponte, had a nice drape and not too much stretch. The two tones are actually the right and wrong sides of the fabric. I decided to use both sides of the fabric to add interest and highlight the design lines of the dress.

The neckline, hemline and sleeves are finished off with a facing. I initially tried to hand stitch the hem facings, but they looked terrible in this fabric, so I resorted to using the twin needle which gave a much better result.

The sleeves are very "bat wing" shaped. This is a bit of an issue if you need to raise your arms above your head as the whole dress lifts up and you can reveal far more than is socially acceptable. The shape of the sleeves also restricts what you can wear over it. I have no cardigans or jackets that would work with this style. I found that the dress tends to slip back off my shoulders, when sitting and the front neckline rides up and chokes me. This may be due to my forward sloping shoulders? but is quite annoying.

I like the look of this dress, but I do find it annoying to wear due to the reasons mentioned above. Not sure if I would make it again.

Happy Sewing

Monday, 28 November 2016

Style Arc Marilyn Dress

If you have been following me on IG you would know that I planned to make Vogue 8945 for my work Christmas function. Well, I chickened out at the last minute because time was running out and I was not sure how the Vogue pattern would fit. The Marilyn Dress by Style Arc caught my attention, and I know Style Arc size 12 usually fits me quite well without needing alteration. So plans were changed.

Style Arc Marilyn Dress

This simple dress is made special by the lovely split sleeve and ties and the elegant V neckline. There are two V necklines to choose from and I went with the lower one. It is a loose and gentle A line shape and is easy to wear.

I used a rayon chirramon from Spotlight which had the perfect drape for this style. The fabric behaved very well and I had no trouble sewing with it. I used a microtex needle (size 70) in my machine and a walking foot. It pressed beautifully and doesn't crease too badly, like some rayon's can do.

I felt great wearing this dress. It was comfortable and felt very elegant and I love the colour of this fabric. The only alteration I made was to lengthen it by 3cm.

The split sleeve makes this simple dress quite special. I have seen a couple of versions out there that have used a contrasting sleeve lining which looks fantastic. I already have a few ideas for future versions.

We had a great night out at a Carnival themed party at Fairground Follies and hubby wore a shirt I had made him too.

Happy Sewing

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Style Arc Marita Knit Dress #2

Style Arc Marita Knit Dress
I have revisited the Style Arc Marita Knit Dress. You can see my first one here made in a printed ponte.

Great easy to wear knit dress
Style Arc Marita Knit Dress

This time I used the suggested fabric ...a two way stretch knit jersey. This fabric is from Knitwit. I cut a size 12 and added an extra 1cm to the side seams below the arm holes. I didn't want the dress to be too clingy.

The fit turned out much better than my first one. It's amazing how using the suggested fabric works so much better. Initially I thought I would run the stripes vertically, as I thought they would be more slimming that way, but then I realised the most stretch ran along the stripes so I would have to run them horizontally. I was very mindful of this when cutting out and I tried to have the darkest stripe positioned around my waist. Unfortunately the mauve stripe is not in the most flattering position.

I am very happy with the fit at the back. I tried to match the stripes at the side seams but they look a little off due to the irregular size of the stripes. They are not a constant width and sort of blend into each other. The sleeve stripes matched up quite well with the body of the dress.

The jersey sits much better than the ponte, but I do find myself fiddling with the cowl a bit. I do like the interesting twist at the waist and I like the way the stripes have changed direction on the front bodice area.

The high back collar is not interfaced and it does collapse a bit in the jersey. It might be worthwhile interfacing this bit to add a bit of structure.

This dress does show off any lumps and bumps but it is very comfortable. I wore it to work with a black cardigan and felt good all day. This is my favourite sort of work dress as it does not require ironing. It would make an ideal travel dress too. It is a quick sew but I don't know about making it in an hour, as it states on the website. I cut this out and sewed it up on a Sunday afternoon and was finished before dinner and I am a slow sewer so I was very pleased with that.

Happy Sewing