Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Sewing a coat (Voltron edition)

Long time no blog?
I have been in a slight sewing rut lately and haven't been sewing much. RL responsibilities have been crazy and there's been a lot going on. I still don't know if I'll have time to sew much in the future, but I try to squeeze out a project every now and then.

So I've recently gotten into Voltron. You know, the animated remake of the 80s mecha alien robot thing.

I wanted to make a piece of clothing that was Voltron inspired but I'd be able to use it in everyday life.

Enter Keith's Blade of Marmora outfit:

And naturally I was like: "You could make a coat out of this!"

I did my initial design with a drawing app:

And set out to gather materials.

I purchased 2.3 meters of black wool blend (on sale for 16 euros!), a 100cm zipper (3.50 euros), a 20x100cm piece of reflective fabric (11 euros but I only used like half and the shipping costs were insane) and 2 meters of iron-on interfacing new (~10 euros). The rest of the coat (the two different shades of gray wool, the red and black lining) was secondhand materials from my stash.

I made the pattern myself. The sleeves are saddle sleeves and consist of six pieces each. A saddle sleeve is kind of like raglan sleeve but the shape of the seams is a bit different.

From top to bottom: black wool, dark gray wool, light gray wool, black wool, reflective fabric, black wool. (So many corners. Never again! :D)

The front and back pieces also had some decorative seams, so they were patched up from several pieces:

The hem was a half circle but with a diamond-shaped light gray block in the side seam. Here's one front piece with the pocket about to be sewn in at the top (regular side seam placement is indicated with red dashes, but instead I chose to sew more corners! gg me!)

The reflective bits on the front were sewn like welt pockets, but instead of adding pocket bags I simply sewed reflective fabric behind the holes I made on the front pieces.

I don't have many pictures of the process because I sewed a lot after nightfall and black fabric does not photograph well in artificial light, but here's a quick run-through of the process: I sewed the front+back+sleeves together (saddle sleeves are sewn like raglan sleeves), sewed pockets on the front hem pieces and assembled the hem. Then I sewed the top and bottom together. After this I assembled the lining, which was easy because the sleeves were one piece instead of six and there was no odd-shaped stuff on the inside of the coat. I attached the lining at the neckline, then at the ends of the sleeves. I then sewed the hem and lastly sandwiched the zipper between the front facing and the front of the main fabric. Had I stopped to think about it, there might have been a better order in which to do this, but I'm not one to rip seams for "nothing", so I finished the zipper last like the idiot I am... But the end result turned out okay so ehh, whatever. :D

So here's the finished result:

To me Keith will always be the Red Paladin:

The hem detail + pocket and sleeve:

Reflective bits photographed with flash:



So that kind of a coat project. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, especially since I didn't do a mock-up and I attached the lining to the coat in the wrong order which complicated things.

This is more or a winter coat and spring is soon here, but perhaps I will still have some use for it in the next weeks, and at least I now have a coat ready for next winter (and I don't have to worry about forgetting a reflector because those are already sewn in the coat itself).

So, what do you think of this sewing project? :)


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Floral vintage curtain into paper-bag waist skirt

Hello everyone,
A while back I found a vintage cotton curtain from a secondhand store.

It's Finnish design from the 1970s or the 1980s, I don't know for sure because apparently there were different color variations of this print and some of them were produced in the 70s and some in the 80s. But either way, the curtain is 30-40 years old, which is really cool! Parts of the backside were sun-bleached (apparently from where it had been exposed to sunlight while hanging over a window), but the right side of the fabric was flawless. I pre-washed it and the colors were still perfectly vibrant and the fabric altogether seemed sturdy and unharmed by time and sunlight.

I wanted to make the curtain into a garment, but I didn't want to cut into the print too much, and I wanted to preserve the selvages at the sides where the name of the designer is written. I haven't had many chances to sew with real vintage fabrics and I felt like it would be blasphemy to slice the fabric too much and make it into something too modern. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I felt like I wanted to make this into something that would be worthy of the fabric.

So I decided to make it into a pleated paper-bag waist skirt. I got my inspiration from this post on Burda Style. I decided that I could easily keep the original selvages and make them into the hem of the skirt, and so I could use the fabric in pretty large pieces and keep the print intact.

So I cut the curtain in half parallel to the selvages. (I am aware that this makes the print run sideways on the skirt, but no one can tell when the garment is finished...)

I don't think I've ever been this scared of cutting into any fabric before. There was a nagging voice in my head telling me that if I failed this project somehow, it would be a waste of a vintage fabric that I probably wouldn't be able to find anywhere ever again... And even if the fabric wasn't that expensive for authentic retro (25€ for 135 x 170cm / 53x67" piece), I was afraid that I wouldn't do it justice somehow. True vintage fabric deserves to be made into something awesome, and I was afraid I was going to mess it up.

I trimmed the ends a bit so the fabric was in three pieces, one of them 110cm (~43") wide and the other two 65cm (~25.5") wide. All three pieces were 67cm (~26.5") tall, or half the curtain width.

Then I cut a long piece of slippery lining fabric that was as wide as all of the curtain pieces together (240cm / 94.5") and 5cm (~2") shorter than the curtain pieces.

Before attaching the curtain pieces together at the sides, I added pocket bags so I could have pockets between the pieces.

(The fabric of the pockets is another piece of vintage fabric I had lying around, it's one of the scrap pieces I got from my grandma-in-law in 2015. The piece was too small to make a whole garment so it became pockets for my skirt.)

I then sewed the side seams so the skirt was one very wide piece with pockets in the seams.

(In the above picture you can see what I meant by the "sun-bleached" parts visible on the wrong side of the fabric. But luckily it didn't have an effect on the right side of the fabric.)

I took the black lining fabric and the skirt pieces, and placed them right sides together and sewed along both of the long edges, leaving the short ends open. As the lining was shorter than the curtain fabric, when I ironed the piece the curtain fabric folded under by an inch both at the top and the bottom. I then had a fully lined skirt piece that was 240cm (94.5") wide and 62cm (~24.5") tall with neat, crisp edges at the top and the bottom and no raw edges visible anywhere except for the ends. So essentially, I had hemmed both the top and the bottom at the same time with minimal effort (the original selvages are still at the hemmed bottom, just hidden).

The next step was to mark and sew 5cm (2") wide inverted pleats along the top edge of the skirt. I made mine so that I sewed the pleats together lengthwise at the center of the pleat. Usually you sew across the pleat to keep in in place, but in this case I wanted the pleat to start 3cm (~1.2") from the top edge to get the paper-bag waist effect and I didn't want any horizontal seams or stitches at the waist.

Here I've sewn the pleats, but not yet ironed the "loops" on the backside into pleats. The yellow dashed lines indicate where I've sewn the pleats together on the wrong side of the fabric.

I ironed the backside of the waist into pleats and pinned them so they stayed in place:

I top-stitched the pleats into place with a staight stitch running down on both sides of every seam I made in the previous step:

So then I had a "waistband" that was pleated so the pleats open up 3cm above where the skirt sits at the waist, and no seams or stitches across the waist at all. This creates a kind of a paper-bag aesthetic, even though paper-bag waist garments are more often gathered than pleated. (But I prefer pleats to gathers, so that's why I chose pleating.)

(Spot the cat hair... they are everywhere these days :D)

I closed the back seam and left a slit for a zipper.

I sewed in the (secondhand) zipper...

...and the skirt was done!

(Pockets! ^_^)

The full lining prevents the skirt from clinging onto tights or legs, and it also makes for a super neat finish at the hem:

(Also, cat hair... *sigh*)

I am very happy with how this turned out. I feel like the result is "worthy" of the amazing vintage fabric.

What do you think? :)

Satu / Sew Scoundrel

Friday, March 10, 2017

A very easy shirt (a sewing tutorial)

Hey there,
this is a tutorial on how to make a very easy shirt like this:

It's basically just two seams and adding cuffs to the neckline, hem and sleeves. And no pattern required; you'll be making your own!

So, to make this type of shirt, you'll need:
- A piece of jersey/stretchy fabric that's twice as long as you want your shirt to be and as wide as the measurement from wrist-to-wrist (with your arms stretched out to the sides), plus maybe some extra for the cuffs (although most likely you'll be able to cut the cuffs from the pieces left over after cutting the shirt piece out).
- A serger or a sewing machine with zigzag/stretch stitch
- A shirt that fits you. It's a bonus if the sleeves of the shirt are dolman or batwing type (they go relatively straight to the sides and don't slope down too much), but it doesn't really matter.
- Some paper to trace your shirt on

Take your shirt and fold it in half onto the paper.

If you want to make the new shirt longer or shorter, adjust the length. I made my new shirt waist-length. When tracing, you want the sleeves to go straight to the sides, so the angle is 90 degrees:

If the sleeves of your original shirt slope down, just draw the line straight to the side and measure the width of your sleeve downward from that, like this:

Draw the shirt to the length you want it to fall. We're snipping the cuffs off after drawing. Draw the neckline as big as you want it in the end, following the finished neckline of your original shirt or making the neckline smaller or bigger if you like. Usually the neckline is lower at the front, but I made mine a boat-neck so it's identical on both sides. You can make the neckline the way you want; you just need to make a separate pattern for the front and back neckline and neckline cuffs if this is the case.

Here I've marked the cuffs into the traced shirt:

Then cut out your shirt pattern:

Fold your fabric half length-wise AND width-wise so you have four layers of fabric. Place your pattern on fold:

(I hope these pictures clarify a bit how it's supposed to go even though the pattern is upside down in the first one...)

Then simply cut the shirt piece out. Don't cut any of the folded edges, just cut the neckline out of the corner and then along the hem, side and underarm. Leave some seam allowance as you cut so you don't end up with a shirt that's too tight.

Cut the cuffs. Cut 2 of each on fold on two sides just like the shirt piece.

Now, if your neckline is lower at the front, you need to make the neckline cuff from two pieces and sew the front and back neckline cuffs together at the shoulders to make them into circles. If you cut the necklines with shoulder seams, cut two of the back and two of the front.

Once you have all your pieces cut, it's time to get sewing!

If you spread out your shirt piece, it looks like this:

Sew the cuffs into loops.

For the sleeve and hem cuffs, fold them in half so the wrong sides are inward and raw edges meet. For the neck cuff also fold it so wrong sides are together (you probably need to iron it so it stays like that).

Next, fold the shirt right sides together length-wise and sew the side / underarm seams.

Turn the shirt right side out and attach cuffs like so:

Same goes for the sleeves, just match the one seam of the sleeve and the cuff.

Do the same for the neck cuff. It's a bit more difficult because it is narrower toward the center, but as the center stretches it's not impossible.

And the shirt is done!

You can leave it simple or add something decorative. I added this iron-on embroidery patch.


I hope you find this tutorial helpful and if there's anything that was unclear, don't hesitate to ask in the comments; I'll do my best to clarify things.

If you make your own shirt using this tutorial, leave me a comment linking to your creation or tag it on instagram using the hashtag #sewscoundrel :)

Satu / Sew Scoundrel