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.

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Earth Day giveaway


Tansy beetle bag for giveaway

Tansy beetle bag for giveaway

I’ve taken the beetle fabric I printed yesterday and created an envelope bag which I’m giving away to celebrate Earth Day on the 22nd April. I’ll put the details about how to enter at the end of this post.

Yesterday I wrote about creating the fabric print that’s featured on the bag and I’d like to tell you a bit more about the beetle that inspired the design. I first saw the iridescent green beetle by the River Ouse a few years ago. I took a couple of photos but didn’t think much of the bug until some time later when I decided to find out what it was. That’s when I found out about the Tansy beetle. The beetle is endangered and extremely rare in the United Kingdom, and it’s shell is so shiny that people say the Victorians used it as sequins.

Tansy beetle

Tansy beetle

It is an endangered species and in decline due to environment changes that effect it’s ecosystem. It is so scarce that the only place in the UK it is known to survive is along some of the River Ouse centered on the stretch that runs by my home in York.

So, this weekend when I was walking by the river and saw a Tansy beetle shining green and gold I was very glad that these beetles were still hanging on. This tenacious Tansy inspired me to create the design as a celebration of its survival. I thought using some of my organic fair trade cotton to create a giveaway for Earth day would be cool and a reminder to everyone about the reaches of the environment just outside our doors as well as across the whole planet.

The bag that I’m giving away is made from organic fair trade cotton and is printed with water based ink. 27 cm by 20 cm. The material is called santeen unbleached and was undyed until I added the pattern. It’s fastened with velcro at the top and although the fabric is sturdy it is probably best not to put anything too heavy in it. The beetles are each individual arranged in a unique pattern and printed in green with a touch of gold. I like to use these sort of bags when I’m shopping to separate smaller items, such as cotton reels, within my bigger bag. It could also be used to store a notebooks, as a kindle sleeve, a clutch bag or to keep an ipad in (although I haven’t check the size as I don’t own one). It’s unique and individually hand made and printed by myself.

To enter comment on this post and include the words “Tansy beetle”. The giveaway ends at midnight (00:00 GMT) on the 26th of April 2011 so only posts before then will be entered. I’ll contact the winner by email so make sure the email address you fill in when you comment is accurate. Only one entry per person and the winner will be chosen randomly from everyone who enters.

Creating Beetles


Green Beatles print

Beetles print

Yesterday I read some sites about earth day and about doing something to celebrate the day.  I decided to use some of the organic fair trade cotton I have to make something and give it away on my blog.  As it’s for earth day I took inspiration from my walks by the river this weekend and decided to feature the Tansy beetle which lives along the river.

I always find drawing from life interesting, observing how creatures move and their foibles leads me to a more creative picture then if I just drew a standard image.  After doing some pencil sketches and looking at the photographs I drew the image I used for the prints.  I chose that picture because I thought it looked more dynamic then the others.  It takes some consideration to make a sketch suitable for printing as it’s the places where the ink doesn’t appear as much as where  does.  Once I’d sorted this out I printing the beetles in green with gold highlights.   Hopefully I’ll have finished sewing by tomorrow and then I can start my first giveaway.

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!