Friday, August 29, 2014

DIY: Contrast color top

I've been sick for the whole week, which has sucked major ass.

I caught a nasty cold sometime during last week, and woke up on Sunday with a sore throat and sneezing like hell. For three days I couldn't do much besides lie in bed and watch Pretty Little Liars (I randomly started watching it and now I'm halfway through the second season, so I'm guessing that tells its sad story about me lying in bed and binge-watching it for three days?)

Yesterday I started feeling a bit better, so I decided to do some sewing.

I have made skirts and dresses and the like, but now I wanted to make a top. I had this thick, stretchy white fabric that I'd bought a while ago, but I hadn't figured out what to do with it. I decided to make the top out of that fabric, but since I shy away from clothes that are all white, I wanted to throw in some black for contrast.

Since my last project included bias tape, I decided to try it for this one as well.

My original sketch looked like this:

I wanted to make a cutout neckline and add black bias tape around the seams.

The original top front part didn't work out at all, so I scrapped it and was left with the bigger front piece and the back piece. I then went in a completely different direction and took a piece of black fabric, deciding to make the top front of just black material.

I finished the top and tried it on, and stretchy as it was, it was waaayyyyy too small for me. Like, I could just squeeze into it, but the seams didn't like it that much, and in the end I had to rip myself out of the top with a seam ripper. :D


I ripped open the other side seam that I hadn't destroyed while trying to get out of the top. I rummaged around my stash to find something to add in between the seams, and found some black lace. I added strips of black lace on white fabric (on white fabric so that the lace wouldn't be see-through) to make more room for my stomach flab. The pieces of lace were actually the sleeves of a button-up lace shirt that I made into a sleeveless button-up during the summer heat.

So then I ended up with this:

Even though the original plan didn't include any side panels, I'm really happy with how the top turned out. The full-black top piece works pretty well, too.

Modeling the top:

(No face in the picture because I've just been sick for the entire week and I look like it, too. :P)

So yeah, now I can't wait to get well so I can wear the top (possibly with my kick-ass leather skirt). And then in like five minutes I will probably spill coffee on the top and that will be the end of that top, and it will remind me why I never wear white clothes. :D

But anyway, that kind of DIY piece of clothing this time. :)

sneezing scoundrel

Thursday, August 21, 2014

DIY tutorial: Piping detailed wool skirt

Hi again! This time I found inspiration from this blog post. It featured a wool skirt with white piping details in the seams, with rough pattern and instructions on how to sew said skirt.

This skirt. (Picture from the abovementioned blog post.)

I fell in love with the pocket design. Such crisp elegance! And did I mention pockets? I definitely have a soft spot for pockets in skirts.

I'd never used piping in sewing before, so I had a few problems. First, it was so late in the evening that no stores were open. And yes, of course I had to try it right then, what are you crazy. I couldn't possibly wait until morning, so I searched google on how to make one's own piping from scratch. Apparently it required fabric (check.) OR bias tape (which I don't have right now) and round string (uh oh. Didn't have that either.)

I managed to hunt down a couple of narrow, round shoelaces that I wasn't going to use anymore, and I made some piping. I tested it on a scrap piece of fabric to get the hang on how to sew piping into seams. It worked out fine, but I wasn't a huge fan of how it made the fabric all stiff. Piping is usually used in the edges of pillows, backpacks and such, and in these items it's all well and fine, stiffening up the fabric and keeping the form of the piece, but in a skirt? Not my thing.

So then I figured, maybe I could use the folded fabric without the string sewn in? As in, makeshift bias tape (folded only once). So I cut up some black fabric I had lying around, on the bias. I then simply folded the narrow strips of fabric over and ironed them.

Like so.

All rolled up and ready to use.

(Of course it's easier to use actual bias tape or piping, but if you're like me and get inspired in the middle of the night and don't have the necessary stuff at hand, then this works just fine. :D)

So now I had the seam details under control in the form of black, narrow strips of fabric folded once over. So what about fabric? I wanted to use wool as in the original skirt, and luckily I had purchased a piece of dark green wool fabric at a flea market for 5 euros. So then I just had to figure out measurements. And draw patterns. And--

--Scrap that, I'll just use the measurements of an existing skirt and then draw the design on a piece of paper.

Looks good enough to me.

I wanted to make a skirt that is a bit longer and more A-lined than in the inspiration blog post, so the skirt lying on top of the fabric was ideal for this purpose. So, I measured the existing skirt a bit and went to drawing.

It was said in the comments of the inspiration post that the front middle section should be a bit wider than the side sections with pockets, so I calculated the measurements according to that. I drew the skirt around 60cm long, knowing it would become a bit shorter with the hemming and all.

First I measured and cut out the back part. I decided to cut it out in one piece and add a zipper in the middle.

The fabric is folded over on the side of the red line.

Then, according my measurements on paper, I cut the two side sections where the pockets would be sewn.

There's two layers of fabric pinned together so I got identical side pieces.

Then I cut the middle front section according to my measurements and pinned the whole thing up to see that the size was correct.

Still looking good.

Then I cut out the pocket parts, the fabric folded so I got four pieces - two big, two small. I just put one of the side sections on folded fabric and marked where to cut to get the pieces to match the side section.

The original instructions stated that the pocket pieces need to be sewn together first, with the piping detail in the seam.

To sew the piping into the seam, you have to first sew the piping on the right side of the fabric with the raw edge towards the edge of the fabric. So if you're sewing piping on a seam it looks like you're sewing it upside down. Then you need to sew the other piece of fabric on top of this, right sides facing.

Here I used the shoelace piping. I pinned it onto the first piece of fabric, the raw edge facing up...

...sewed it on...

...and added the top part of the pocket section like so. I pinned it and then sewed it on the other side, following the first seam that was visible.

For this pocket piece I used the shoelace piping to help the pockets to keep a nice form. Otherwise I'd just use the "bias tape" I made in the beginning.

The original instructions say that you can feel where the thick part of the piping is so you can then follow that when sewing the other layer of fabric on the piping. I found this a bit tedious, and as I wasn't going to use piping except for the very first pocket seams, I had to come up with something different since there wasn't going to be any thicker part in the bias tape I used. I figured out that if you put the pieces of fabric together, right side to right side, and then pinned it up on the other side of the fabric, you could still see the previous seam from when you sewed the piping into the first fabric. Then I just sewed along the same seam to attach the two pieces of fabric and leave the bias tape showing in between.

Next, I added the actual pockets in another fabric to make a nice lining in the pockets.

I first pinned and sewed the bias tape (or piping if you use that) on the top part of the pocket. Raw edge up as previously shown.

Then I cut up some thinner, gray fabric to make the pocket lining. I didn't do anything fancy, I just cut up a rough rectangle that would fit in between the side section of the skirt and the pocket piece I'd just sewn together with the piping detail.

I pinned the gray fabric on the pocket piece, right sides facing.

Again, it's easier to get the piping / bias tape detail to look more even if you sew on the side of the fabric where you can see the previous seam from sewing the bias tape on in the first place (as you can in the above picture, the one on the right.) Sew on top of that seam and the pocket lining is attached to the top of your pocket piece.

When you then flip the pocket lining into the backside of the pocket piece the pocket top should then look like this:

The pocket lining is showing to the ouside rather unattractively... just pin it down, holding onto the visible small edge of the bias tape / piping and pulling down the lining and the wool.

Sew close to the edge and hey presto! A nice pocket opening right there.

Now it's time to attach the pocket onto the bigger side section. Lay the pocket piece onto the side section fabric and pin with two pins on either end of the pocket opening. Then flip the pocket piece over to reveal the lining beneath. Pin the lining onto the side section fabric, as demonstrated here:

Sew along the pinned line to attach the lining into the main skirt fabric. Then it is time to add bias tape / piping detail into the side sections with pockets.

This bias tape / piping will attach the pocket piece into the side block along the side seams. When you have done both side sections like this, you can attach them into the front middle section. Pin the pieces of fabric together at the side seams, right side facing right side. Make sure you're pinning the correct side seam to the front piece so your pockets run diagonally down from the middle section.

The red dashed line shows the pinned side seam, right side against right side of the fabric.

When you have sewn both sides to the front section, your skirt should look like this:

Then you can attach the back section into the side, right side against right side and flip it open to look like this. If you want to add a zipper to the side seam, don't sew the other side. I wanted a zipper in the back, so I sewed both side seams up and made a slit in the back for the zipper.

After you've attached the back to the front, it's time to make a waistband. I used the same method as I use for all my waistbands: cut up a strip of fabric a couple of centimeters longer than your waist measurement. It should be two times as wide as you wish your waistband to be, plus seam allowance. I wanted to do a waistband around 5cm wide, so I cut a strip of fabric that was about 12cm wide. Then I sewed the long edges together, right side against right side, and turned the tube of fabric inside out to reveal the nicer side.

With thicker fabric like wool, it's easier to turn the tube inside out with the help of a big safety pin.

Add bias tape / piping onto the top part of your skirt:

Pin the waistband on top of the bias tape / piping, right sides facing (once again), starting from your zipper slit either on the side or in the back. Sew on.

In the original inspiration post, the skirt was simply hemmed with a lining fabric, but I wanted to add bias tape onto the hem as well, so I did that. Once I'd sewn the bias tape on, I added a strip the same gray lining fabric that I used for the insides of the pockets. I sewed that on the right side of the skirt, making a seam between the wool and the lining with bias tape showing in between. I then flipped the lining back to the inside of the skirt and pinned it in place so that the lining was completely hidden and only the bias tape showing, as with the tops of the pockets:

I sewed the hem about 0.5cm from the bias tape:

That left me with a mass of lining fabric hanging from beneath the hem, so I folded it over, pinned it and sewed it around 2-3 cm from the previous seam.

So then the skirt was pretty much done, aside from adding a zipper in the back. As the wool fabric I used was very thick, I first pinned and sewed the raw edges around the zipper and only then pinned and sewed the zipper. The lower edge of the waistband was a source of many swearwords, as there was such a lump of fabric that my sewing machine almost couldn't get past it. :P

Done and done.

My skirt is subtler as it doesn't have such a contrast between the fabric and the highlighting in the seams as the inspiration, but I like it very much.

Rocking the new look.

I am really, really fond of the pockets in this skirt. And I love how well the whole thing turned out. Although, doing that much detail really takes its toll, time-wise, as it took me altogether about 9 hours to finish this skirt. So this wasn't a walk-in-the-park kind of easy sewing project. Sewing the bias tape on and only then adjoining the pieces of fabric is a massive amount of work in comparison to just slapping two pieces of fabric together and sewing them together. Still, despite the time and effort it took to finish this project, I'm actually thinking about making more stuff with detailed seams in them... They add a nice touch to clothing. ^_^

So, what do you think of the skirt? :)


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Look, I made a fancy dress!

So, I was browsing on the internet, when I came across yet another tutorial on how to make a skater dress. It looked simple enough, so I decided to give it a try, using that fancy fabric I'd snatched from the fabric store sale bin earlier.

This one right here.

The fabric is this thick, glossy black. I'm not exactly sure if it's even meant for clothing purposes, but whatever. It cost me like 6 euros, so I'd only lose that (and a fair amount of my time) if this didn't work out.

Only, as it turns out, it totally did work out.

Wouldn't you say?

So, In addition to lining the fabric as instructed in the video, I also added a diamond-shaped keyhole neckline. The inspiration to that came from this post by the same blogger who made the video tutorial. She's done it on the backside of her dress, but I decided to have a zipper in the back and a keyhole at the front. I didn't actually take my own measurements, but used the measurements of an existing top and just went for it (because I'm lazy). I'm almost surprised I managed to not opt out of lining the top part of the dress. I'm glad that I didn't, because the lining really makes the dress look almost professional.

Such a nice lining.

I had to separate the top from the skirt part once because I'd measured wrong and the top was too long and also bulging at the sides. I took it in, pinned it in place and thank heavens I didn't have to rip the seam open again. Also, I was worried when I added the zipper that it wouldn't zip all the way up (because my shoulders are like the Hulk's, duh), but it fit perfectly. If anything, it's still a bit loose around the waist. Well, at least I can have a huge dinner and don't have to worry about my dress ripping at the seams afterwards, woop woop! :D

So here's me rocking the finished dress:

Photos courtesy of my wonderful husband, who hates taking pictures but still takes them at my request. ❤

Also! I added something that is (sadly) often missing from dresses and skirts.

Seriously, it's not just dudes who want to carry stuff on their person without having to carry a purse or a bag. I have taken a tendency to add pockets into, well, everything. If I refashion a skirt or a dress for some reason, I always add pockets if there are none. With this dress, I just slit the skirt part about halfway down on both sides, added pockets, sewed it all back up and only then added the waistband. Simple as that. There is this wonderful, easy tutorial on how to add pockets into an existing skirt or dress, but the same goes for made-from-scratch skirts and dresses. You just need side seams.


Okay, so now I just need a party where I can actually wear this dress.

...Meaning, who wants to throw a dress-up party? ;)


Saturday, August 16, 2014

DIY: Circle skirt (because a woman can never have too many circle skirts.)

I am a big fan of circle skirts. And they're so easy to make! I was a bit hesitant before I tried to make one a few months back, but I found this tutorial and it made it look so easy.
And it really is easy. Once you've made one, you can make a dozen a day, seriously. I have all kinds of circle skirts, but I didn't have a regular black one... so, off to the fabric store I went!

I rummaged through the scrap fabric bins again (fabric bought by the yard is so damn expensive here). I found these pieces of black and gray fabric and snatched a few 25cm zippers as well. The topmost fabric was a bit expensive, but I liked it so I had to buy it as well. It's this thick glossy black. I'm going to make a more formal skirt out of that one... but first, I decided to make a flowy gray circle skirt.

I have made a pattern of a circle skirt that is 70cm long (a bit below my knee because I am a friggin' giant). This is half the skirt, so you can either cut two pieces or then just fold one piece of fabric where the picture shows. This time I wanted one that falls above my knee, so I only used the pattern for the waistline...

To calculate the radius of the half circle that forms the waistline, measure your waist at the part where you want the skirt to sit. For me this was 70cm. To calculate the radius, divide your waist measurement with 2π. So for me it would be
=11,14. My old pattern has a rounded up waist radius of 12cm, I just used that because I wanted to bunch up the waistline a bit.

If you don't have a pattern, you can just measure the radius from the center of the fold, as I've done with the pins here. Then just cut right outside the pins (dotted line).

Here I wanted to find out how long a skirt this piece of fabric would allow, so I put the end of the measuring tape on the waistline...

...and measured it down to the end of the fabric. 62cm.

So then I measured 62cm in every direction from the waistline, pinning as I went along. This forms the hem of the skirt.

I cut the waistline...

...and then cut the hem along the pinned line I'd just measured. This is what the skirt looks when cut.

Next, I made the waistband. It should measure a good 5cm more than the waistline of your skirt. The width can be whatever you like. I wanted a narrower waistband, so mine was something around 12cm, so the end result would be around 5 centimeters with the seam allowance.

I pinned the waistband lengthwise (right side against right side if your fabric has a pattern or something) and sewed it. I then pulled the long, narrow tube of fabric inside out, so that the nice seam is on the outside.

I pinned the waistband onto my skirt, right side against right side (it looks like you're pinning it upside down but that's the right way to go). I bunched up the skirt fabric in a few places, but that's optional. I then sewed along the pinned line...

...and got this. On the left you can see where the waistband ends. At that part I cut a slit for the zipper.

I pinned the zipper, deciding to go for a contrast color.

I then sewed the zipper on so the zip was open until I got to the very end. Then I zipped up the zipper and sewed down the rest of the way.

Look, it has a zipper! A red zipper, for that matter.

Next up, pinning the hem. Hemming a circle skirt is a bitch, because the hem is, well, a circle shape, so it will not fold nicely. Also, there will be meters and meters of hemline to fold and pin. I made a narrow hem seam, folding the fabric over twice for a nice hem.

I then sewed the hem, choosing a red thread to go with the zipper.

So the skirt was now more or less done. But the skirt looked rather dull on its own, so I wanted to make pockets. I usually add pockets to the side seams of a skirt, but with this circle skirt there are none. So I rummaged through my stash, in search of something red.

I took out a linen shirt I have stashed in my refashion pile and cut off one of the sleeves at the dotted line. I then ripped open the side seam and cut the fabric in two, forming two rectangles with the sleeve's original hem as the top of the pocket. I folded the sides and the bottom of the pocket squares and ironed them (I love how well linen behaves when ironed... it makes such nice, sharp folds). I then pinned the pockets over the sides of the skirt. I decided they looked better slightly angled. I sewed them on...

...and the skirt then looked like this. Not dull any more, no sir.

Here's the back with the red zipper.

Closeup of the hem. I had to iron the hem to get it to settle nicely.

This is what the skirt looks like on me. The length is perfect and I love it how flowy the fabric is.


And the cost of this skirt?
Around 4 euros, zipper and thread included. Nice.

Next, I'll probably make a simple black circle skirt for the winter. :)