Tansy beetle bag competition and top design


Tansy beetle print on black

Tansy beetle

Tiny Tansy beetle

Openwork top

I’m pleased to announce that the winner of Tansy beetle bag giveaway is Julie b. Congratulations, the tansy beetle bag will be winging it’s way to you.  Thanks to everyone who entered it was great to see so much interest.  I also have good news about the Tansy beetle I saw another one very near my house on a green, which is an area of special scientific interest. I haven’t seen them there before so I think it’s a good sign.

I’ve been working on a new design for a woman’s top using fabric with a woven pattern.  It’s organic cotton woven on a hand loom in India and has stripes of openwork, little holes like lace, it’s very pretty and quite fine.  I’m trying a different shape for the top that flows out at the bottom but sewn so it still hangs flat.  If it works I’m hoping it will show the shape when you move in it.  I also had a couple of ideas for decoration around the neckline and bottom but the design on the fabric may be enough as I don’t want to make it look too fussy.  I’ve also got some plans to make the arms longer so that the fabric covers the cuffs, I’m hoping this will make it look really special.

Open work fabric

Shirt


Shirt fitting

Fitting of the check shirt

I had the second fitting for the shirt I’m making yesterday which went well, although some adjustments were needed.  The green check fabric is really nice to work with and hangs well.  I’ve started sewing some of the main seams even though I still haven’t finalised the exact look of the collar.  After reviewing the look of the shirt I have decided to created visible turn up seams on the bottom of the shirt to match the sleeves.  I think this will add some volume to the shirt and creates an extra detail to balance out the decorative buttons.  I also like the style it gives to the shirt, the turn ups on the sleeve remind me of the 50/60s and shirt sleeves being folded to keep cigarette packets in.  I’m hoping to get the hemming done today as I’m looking forward to relaxing for Easter.

Live fitting


Gingham shirt fabric

Gingham pinned and tacked

I think the fabric for the shirt I’m making was a very good choice as it’s tough but light weight which is ideal for summer.  It feels different now it’s been washed and ironed, it’s softer and flows even better.  I had a chance to inspect it closely and it’s really beautiful.  As it was handmade the supplier warns that there may be slight blemishes and I did find a couple but the pattern on the fabric looks better for the lack of total perfection.  The woven dark green and white and dark green thread that are mixed for the lighter stripes work really well.

I finished cutting out the pieces of the shirt yesterday and started pinning them together.  Everything went well until the second front piece and sleeve, I pinned them together and held up the shirt to check and found they were inside out.  I blame the fact I’d had an early morning and it was getting on by this point but I managed to reattach them the right way round in time for the fitting.

The fitting was fun although I had to be careful not to stab the model with the pins.  It looked good on the model and he said he liked the way it felt and how it fitted.  Some adjustments were needed mainly to the length of sleeve and allowing more space when the shirt was buttoned.  Now I’ve checked the general fit I was able to start roughly tacking the seams together which will make the fitting for fine adjustments easier as I won’t have to work around pins. Sewing rather than pinning has given me the chance to examine the look of the shirt again.  I’ve decided to make visible turn ups on the end of the sleeves rather than hide the hem.  It’s given the shirt more definition and broken up the sea of check a bit.  I’m thinking of doing the same with the hem at the bottom of the shirt but think I try it out at the next fitting before I make the final decision.

Fabric, ironing and direction


Bundle of fabric

The fabric arrived

My fabric arrived yesterday afternoon.  Yay!  I had a great time looking through all the textures and colours, the stripy fabric is particularly colourful and the bamboo silk is luxuriously soft.  The bundle also included the green gingham I’ve been waiting for for my shirt project so today that’s what I got started on.

The fabric is 100% organic cotton so there could be problems with shrinkage and in order to minimize these I decided to pre-wash the fabric.  I also wanted to get started on the project as soon as possible so I sketched out the pattern on the fabric to see how much of the fabric I needed.  Having cut the fabric into two pieces I put the amount of fabric I needed for the shirt onto wash and as the fabric’s organic I did the wash without washing powder.  After it was washed I then had to iron the fabric, but to let you into a secret I’m very bad at ironing so I was not looking forward to this.   To my surprise ironing it was easy and I actually enjoyed it!

Then came the fun, and slightly scary, part drawing the sections and cutting the pattern.  This went well for the largest section, the main back piece, and I left plenty of room for adjustment during the fitting.  When I started thinking about the two front panels I realised I’d made a mistake when I’d blocked out the pieces to check how much cloth I’d need.  Pattern, yes pattern tripped me up.   The checked fabric has a directional pattern.  I’d carefully positioned the fabric in the most efficient way to maximise the use of the fabric but not remembered the direction of the two front panels needs to be the same as the back panel.  I put the rest of the fabric onto wash and cut the rest of the pieces, sleeves, neck collar from the original piece.  Now I have more ironing to do before I can finish the cutting but at least I didn’t cut the front pieces and work out later the pattern was the wrong way!

Waiting for deliveries


cotton reels buttons and fabric samples

Cotton reels, buttons and fabric samples

I’m waiting to start my next project, a men’s short sleeved shirt.  The planning has been a lot of fun, especially deciding the design details.  Looking through samples of fair trade and organic cotton gave me a much better feel for the different fabrics available.  For this shirt, after talking to the person the shirt’s for, I ordered the green gingham with large checks.  The colour is the fabric at the front of the photo above but with the design of the blue fabric behind it.

While I’ve been waiting for the fabric to arrive I’ve been working out the details I can add to make the shirt pop.  I always think of check shirts as informal and rugged in style, like lumberjack shirts, so I decided to play on this in an understated way by making the stitching more visible.  Normally the stitching would be in white thread so that it blends in but to enhance the green of the shirts I’m going to highlight some of the stitching in a coppery/brass/goldy brown colour.  I’ve bought two shades of thread for this and I’ll see which one works best.  To go with this I also chose metal brassy buttons, I thought these would look good with a design on them as well.  I’m lucky that York has a great haberdashery with thousands of buttons to choose from so I took a walk to browse their collection.  The ones I picked are shown in the picture and have either a Chinese style dragon or fish which is cool.  Unfortunately I’ve completed all the preparation I can so now all I can do is wait with excitement for the fabric to arrive.