Back to School - Sewing Supplies!

After a long time deliberating and actually trying to find any kind of classes in my area...I have enrolled in Community College!

(It worries me which character I might be....there are also only 6 of us in the class)

Its a City & Guilds certified class in dressmaking - it really is back to basics but unfortunately it was the only one running this year, and I figured there's no harm in going right back to scratch and learning the right techniques rather than ones I just acquired over time through books/Internet.

And what is the best thing about a new semester? New supplies!

I thought I would just do a quick run down of a few of my favourites out of this little bundle of essentials. Not only did I treat myself to some class specific needles, glass head pins (don't use plastic they will melt under the iron if you forget one!!) and seam rippers there are also:

Fiskars Fabric Scissors
Looks at these bad boys! Fiskars are amazing sharp fabric scissors and as an alternative to their trademark orange, I managed to a find zebra print on PlushAddict. They are marked as 'designer' scissors and also come with a rotary cutter which is pretty handy. I don't really use rotary cutters all that much but may try it in future for slippery fabrics. I believe you can also get a cheetah print version as well. Whilst it may seem a little indulgent getting 'designer' scissors there is method to the madness - in a sea of orange scissor at least I will know which are mine!

Clover Chaco Pens
I cannot recommend these enough. It has made tracing patterns and markings an absolute dream! The pen style holder makes them easy to handle and draw - however it has a tiny rotary wheel at the end that releases the coloured chalk for marking. The chalk lasts absolutely ages and is also refillable. The lines produced are also very visible, it doesn't come off so easily that you loose your markings, but it does brush off with effort so your finished project is intact. LOVE THEM. I found mine on Amazon.

Tape Measure
Bit of an obvious one however this handily has both centimetres and inches on the same side and in the same direction. I find this very useful as usually there is quite a mix of metric/imperial going on when it comes to sewing.

Thread scissors
So I already have a pair of these for home but a secondary 'class' pair was a necessity - I tried to use some provided last week and it was like cutting thread with a teaspoon. These lovely stork scissors are from eBay.

Pin cushion
Granted, I could have made one but...well this guy is cute and only £3. Again from PlushAddict I just popped him in the basket for instant satisfaction and a place to keep all the pins tidy on the shared tables. The pins do turn him into more of a hedgehog!

What's your bit of essential kit? I'd love to know :-)

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Tilly, Bettine and the Strawberry Thief

Time for a little pattern hacking! Sort of. In a very minor kind of way.

Having tried out the Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress in awesome skull fabric in my earlier post, I decided it would make the perfect match to my Liberty fabric.

Since I bought the 'Strawberry Thief' print in Blue I had always wanted to make something incredibly basic and simple with it - almost replicating their display picture here:

Photo from Liberty website

In walked Bettine! I absolutely love a boat-neck and so a very straightforward neckline adjustment was made to my pattern to achieve this. Once the new pattern piece was created with a different neckline, it was just a case of tracing off another piece for the facing.

Left original version - right altered version

Trace the neckline for facing piece

When stitching the facing to the bodice piece, I stitched very close to the neckline instead of 1" as on the original pattern.

A further minor pattern adjustment was to omit the 'tulip' shape of the skirt and instead just draft straight down from the curve at the hip.

This is the result!

I actually wanted this to wear with tights/cardigan/boots in winter so gave that a whirl aswell. Here I am in Clark Kent-esque disguise. Unfortunately I've been relegated to flat shoes for ages (ever?) due to a pretty serious knee injury a couple of months ago. (If you look carefully in the last few pics I've done my left leg is hovering about 2mm off the ground heehee) Once again I'm not sure its the most flattering thing I've ever made but it was enjoyable and I feel slightly relieved the idea is now out of my head and created! 

Gotta love this Bettine pattern though it is a winner. Scruffy Badger made one in soft knit jersey and that sounds a great idea for a comfort lover like myself. Surely a 3rd version is not out of the question? ;-)

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My man wanted a squid shirt..... McCalls M6044

But an octopus shirt he did get.

Firstly this epic fabric is Tokyo Train Ride Octopus Lawn - by Cotton + Steel. It appears to be readily available in the US but I am having some serious issues locating any more of it her in the UK  if anyone knows a way to get more please can you tell me! I'd like to do a bit of selfish sewing with this one too. The fabric is lovely and lightweight with a bit of a soft silky feel to it, and cut, pressed and sewed up like a dream.

This was my first proper foray into menswear so an 'easy' pattern seemed to be the way forward. I used McCall's M6044  casual shirt pattern and I've got to say, its a winner.

This shirt was cut using size M. I was good and made a muslin first from some Alexander Henry 'Inked Girls' fabric I appear to have reams of which highlighted a mini fitting issue across the middle.

The fit was easily rectified by grading out about an inch from under the arm down to the hemline. This allowed for the all important breathing room.

All in all the instructions were very clear and the construction fairly straightforward. I was ridiculously pleased that my collar actually fit to the neckline without coming up short or having some overhang!

I learnt a great trick along the way with this one - to stop threads bunching at the ends of the collar where you are sewing through 4 layers of fabric - start sewing from the middle of the collar out to the plackets and then swap and do the same thing on the opposite side. The machine can easily grab and start sewing with the nice flat material at the centre and prevents wrinkling and pulls as you go along.

The only real nerve wracking bit about this was the buttons as my machine used to have a tendency to chew up any attempt at a button hole - after a nerve-calming gin I pressed ahead and it worked!!

The rolled hem foot attachment of my machine even got a little test drive - there was a bit of unpicking to be done but generally worked out well.

Most importantly Ric absolutely loves the shirt so it's a winner - however we've opened a can of worms as now any fabric is a possible man's shirt option!

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