Friday, 12 August 2016

How to measure yourself (or anyone else) for a skirt draft

This is a throwback to a post I did a while ago on how to draft a skirt pattern. A reader messaged me and asked for a post on how to properly measure oneself, so I said I would do one. And here it is :)

The first thing to do is to tie some tape round your waist and your hips to keep a level. This is easier if you have a full-length mirror, which I currently do not. -_-

To get your front and back waist measurements place the end of the tape where you feel the side-most point of your waist it (this is all a matter of what feels right), wrap the tape around your waist and use your thumb nail to mark the other side-most point. Hold that and the waist measurement point (good thing you have two hands) and make a note of them.

Do the same for your hips. Be a little slack on the front of your hips if you like, especially if like so many of us, you have a bit of a tummy. :)

And do the same for your high hip measurement. This is along your pelvis bone line. On me that's 8cm down from my waist at the CF. I know the measuring tape drooped a bit in the photo.
You will use this measurement to check that the darts aren't too hollow and the side seams aren't too curved when you shape them. I once scooped my back darts too much and now I have a high-waist skirt. :)

Measure from the waistline to the hipline front and back.

This is why a mirror helps: my hip tape dropped a bit at the back in the photo. :)

To make this easier/quicker, I've added an Excel file for you to download. It makes it quicker to get your dart measurements and so on ready for drafting your skirt pattern. Click here to access it via Google Sheets.

And here's the link to the original post.

Do post all your makes on the Student Designer FaceBook page; I'd love to see them! :)


Thursday, 28 July 2016

Summertime Shorts

We've been having a heatwave here in Britain, and I needed some more shorts. I had what I thought was a pretty good pattern, but measuring the waistline I wonder how on Earth I ever managed to zip my un-stretched shorts up! I must have made some colossal mistakes when measuring or something because I've had to increase the waist measurement considerably (and, no, I haven't got that much bigger -- as if I could gain weight!).

The inspiration for these shorts is a blend of Audrey Hepburn's shorts in Sabrina, and some shorts I have already designed and made. They are quite short, but not hot pants, and I've flared the legs a bit since toiling so they will hopefully be a bit more elegant.


The initial fit (after adjusting the waist measurement on Illustrator) was pretty good. The waistband pokes out a bit at the front, but I think that's due to the fairly straight waistline on the front pieces. I've corrected that since. The waistline fits actually on my waistline all the way around. They're comfortable.

I did have a 1cm discrepancy on the inseam -- the back needed lengthening there, but now it matches the front. I think that may account for the funny fit on the toile.
I've since flared the back leg pieces so they don't cup the cheeks so. I was working off a photo of Audrey Hepburn:
Audrey Hepburn filming for the film 'Sabrina'
There seemed to be some variable camel toe on the front. It wasn't major and I wasn't sure what to do about it, so I've left it for now. We'll see if it disappears when I use proper fabric. :)


Front of shorts. I will change the pattern so that the pockets start farther from the centre front.

Back. I love how neatly this invisible zip turned out!

That caterpillar thing you can see is the hand-stitched bar for the hook and bar fastening.

Hand chain-stitching along the front pockets

The gusset not only makes these shorts so much more comfortable for cycling,
but it improves the look of the fit too!

The cuffs. I pressed them, but they still need a little help to stay up neatly, so...

... I hand tacked them up at the front and back of each leg.

I was going to have the back pockets match, but I like the lining (Liberty cotton) 
so much that I have it on show! And I used a serpentine stitch along the tops
of the back pockets, just because it's pretty. :)

The hems. Overstitched, herringbone stitched, and topstitched about 3mm
from the cut edge. I will increase the hem allowance on the pattern. :)

Front view

Side view with pocket

Profile view. A somewhat more discreet fit than the toile, I think. 
And I'm glad they didn't turn out to be 'flared'. :)

I'm happy with that fit. One day I will master the back view shot.

Outfit shot. I love this sweater from The Sweater Shop in York, 
and my boots from TKMaxx! I'm not being paid to say that. We'll unless
The Sweater Shop sees my photo and gives me 10% off my next purchase :).

All in all, I LOVE these shorts! They’re so comfy! They fit just right too.


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Lace-Blocked Tee

This is a 'quick' project that has taken me about a month or so because my guitar kept distracting me and begging me to play it ;). It's based on my TNT French Woven Tee pattern (self-drafted), but adapted to have a yoke-kimono cap sleeve, a separate bodice section, and the dart shifted higher up the side seam. I had the fabric in my stash from previous college projects and thought I'd use it up to make a nice summer top.
This was also an opportunity to try to improve my photography/modelling skills and as it is the middle of summer (hottest day of the year so far! Woo!) I could take advantage of the late golden hour.
Lace-blocked tee, front
The idea is that it looks like a bodice and tunic, sort of. A modern version, if you will, that doesn't look like a costume. :)
To begin with the sleeves were huge and I didn't like it. So I took them in at the shoulder seam and considerably reduced the length (about an inch or so). Regrettably I didn't think to take photos as I was too eager to change it and see if I could make the top likeable. Which I did, and I'm happy with it now. There is, however, one slight issue: the back.
Lace-blocked tee, back
You can't see it here, because I put the buttons on the wrong side (that's not the issue).
Lace-blocked tee, back 2
Because of the way I finished the opening, you can see the yellow placket. Ugh. (Side note, the bottom of the placket DOES NOT look like that in real life. This must be a very bad angle).
Lace-blocked tee, details 1
Now for details. The top and bottom of the 'bodice' part are edged with running stitches. You may remember this feature from my FMP at Bishop. This top's style continues from that collection. The neckline was finished by sewing stay tape along the WS, turning the s.a. under, and double-stitching. This allows for the nicest finish from the outside, I feel. The sleeves are hemmed similarly, but sans stay tape. Lace doesn't fray, so neatening the seams is optional.
I chose to make the sleeves kimono sleeves. I thought this would be best. It uses less fabric and gives a cleaner look to the top.
(PS. The safety pin is a political thing as a result of Brexit. It's to show that I won't be racially abusive to you, so you can talk to me. :) )
Lace-blocked tee, details 2
The top button is a cool decorative one from my button jar. The rest are clear ones. I like using clear buttons on light-coloured fabrics. I think it looks more expensive. (Gah! In all these photos the edges of the top don't line up! They did when I was sewing. I'm going to have to ask someone in real life how it looks!)
All in all, I'm quite pleased with this new top. It's comfortable to wear (as it should be, having been drafted from my TNT block) and it looks good.
-- Sabrina

Saturday, 30 January 2016

How to Make a Saddle Cover from a Bag-for-Life

cover image for how to make a saddle cover 2
This is a quick and easy project. I made my saddle cover this afternoon because my old one has holes in it, which renders it somewhat less useful as a way to keep my saddle dry.
You can download the pattern for free here in A4 and here in Letter size. It is 'to cut on the fold' because the pattern is wider than a sheet of paper and I thought it would be easier this way.

You Will Need:

  • A bag-for-life
  • 34cm of 9mm wide elastic
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors (not your fabric scissors)
  • Sewing kit
  • A ball point pen for drawing on the bag

Helpful notes:

  • Use a long stitch length. I used about 3mm, but 4mm would have been better, especially when sewing the elastic on.
  • If you would like to make a saddle cover from something other than a grocery bag, the gusset is 78cm wide (plus 2cm seam allowance) by 8cm deep (including seam allowance.
  • Pins probably won't help and may rip the plastic.

Step One: Cutting out

Once you have printed your pattern lay it on a bag-for-life (a tough grocery bag) and draw round it. I used my old saddle cover cut up as a pattern so I had to add seam allowances. If you are using your half-pattern, mark the fold lines and flip it over to complete it.
Cut off the bottom 8cm of the bag to make the gusset. Trim off one of the side seams.
Saddle cover from grocery bag

Step Two: Sew the gusset to the top

Starting at the CB, sew the gusset to the top until you get to the CF, or a little before if you like. Then sew the other side.
Saddle cover from bag-for-life: gusset to top

Step Three: Join the ends

When you get to the CF, match up the ends of the gusset and sew the CF seam. Then trim it down to a 1cm seam allowance.
Saddle cover from grocery bag

Step Four: Prepare and attach the elastic

Cut 34cm of elastic. That includes a 1cm seam allowance/overlap at each end. Divide it and the gusset into quarters with a pen.
Saddle cover from bag-for-life
Starting at the CB, start sewing the elastic on just to secure it. Then, holding the gusset taut at the back of the needle, and stretching the elastic to match the next mark, sew the elastic to the gusset.
Then turn the elastic to the inside and sew it in place there. This gives a nicer finish. I have an extra line of stitching because when I turned the elastic under the first time I didn't catch it in the stitching. :)
Saddle cover from bag-for-life

And you're done!

There you have your saddle cover: a practical, eco-friendly sewing project for your bike.
How to make a Saddle cover from bag-for-life

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

I've moved to York

I think it's time for a catch-up, don't you? As you can guess from the title, a lot has happened since the last post.
  1. I've moved to York (amazing place - I love it!)
  2. I've got a job at Cycle Heaven (best place ever to work!)
  3. I've started Year 2 in Fashion Design and Production at York College (major stress, but I'm getting into it now)
We'll, that's not a big list, but they're pretty big changes to my life. I'm loving it!

Moving to York

This place is like the Copenhagen of England. I've never seen so many bikes in one place in real life!
I live in a brilliant little flat with my landlord (who is lovely and put up my desk for me because it's heavy). I have my own room and private bathroom. I'm learning to cook (I can now do pizza, home-made bases and sauce). Tesco is across the road. College is literally (really "literally") two minutes bike ride away, so with stairs and everything, it's 10-15 minutes from my door to the classroom.
York Solar System Cycle Route
Part of the York Solar System Cycle Route
I live on the outskirts of York, not in the city centre, so I am not far from the country bike rides. Sometimes I just need to go for a bike ride in the quiet, and I can do that now. I've done the Solar System twice and taken lots of pictures (I'm also doing a Project 365 with my camera and my phone). Tip: tinted sunglasses make great filters for your camera. :)

Working at Cycle Heaven

One or two days after I moved in, I got a call from Cycle Heaven offering me the job for which I had previously applied and been interviewed. I don't think my enthusiasm came across on the phone, but there was some serious fist-pumping going on when I hung up! I did three week's full-time including a week's trial, and got the job. Now I work weekends and I love it! I actually look forward to going into work. I look forward to it from about Monday. Everyone there is so nice; it's like having another family.

Year 2 at York College

Because I have done a foundation degree at Bishop Burton College, I got straight onto Year 2 of the BA(Hons) Fashion Design and Production Degree at York College. After the very long Summer holiday we design students seem to get, it's like being thrown in the deep end when you get back to college. We get three modules at once! At Bishop we got one at a time in the second year. I suppose this might be more reflective of industry practice. I don't know. I think the only thing I can do is get organised and focus. I always say that you learn a lot at university that isn't on the syllabus.
So there are some big changes in my life, and they come with stress and a gigantic learning curve. What can I say? "I'm a damsel, I'm in distress, I can handle this." (Meg, Herucles).

Monday, 21 September 2015

Do You Like Fashion?

Maybe that seems like a funny question on a sewing blog (or maybe it doesn't). Personally, I can't say that I do like fashion. I don't like shopping. I'm not keen on marketing and sales. And yet, I like to look nice. I like some branding. I like designing. I like style.
The other day I went to the shops. It was kind of depressing, and not for the reasons you might think. I kept seeing stuff that was pretty much what I designed in college. I know vintage is on its way out and a more utilitarian, modern aesthetic is trickling down into the mass market, but it was everywhere.
Basically, I don't like the race of fashion. Either keeping up with it or keeping ahead of it. It's exhausting and it's expensive. And that, for me, makes it boring. I can't be bothered with it. It also quickly gets very unenjoyable and uninteresting to care what people think of you and your appearance. And all this is before we even touch the subjects of marketing ploys and corruption.
I'm not going to go into the whole ethical fashion subject. We've been there before. We know there is bad stuff going on and there is only so much we can do about it, which we do.
The next thing is marketing. I know the companies have to make money. They need it to live, the same as we do. They are doing it the way they learned because that's all anyone would teach them. They give us a dream and get us to buy things to build it. Then they change the dream and get us to buy something else. This, of course, only works as long as we succumb to the sales message and/or actually have the money to buy stuff.
Then there is planned obsolescence. A certain "fruit company" (as Forrest Gump put it) is well-known for this. Each phone they release has a different charger fitting, so instantly your previous phone's docks and accessories are obsolete. Lightbulbs are designed to last only so long (really). And there is 'fast fashion'. Impulse buying and things that last neither in wear nor in fashion.
Personally, I would rather spend my time doing something non-consumptive, like riding my bike, or painting (I know you use paints and paper etc. but it's less wasteful and more creative and relaxing than shopping).
Plus, I don't like being told what to do. (This is not necessarily a good thing as I've noticed I sometimes rebel against myself and don't do what I know I ought to do.) "X Must-have items" will meet with more than a raised eyebrow. Possibly a chuckle.
I was in danger of enjoying myself in a shop the other week. It was almost like when I used to make Barbie's outfits from her myriad clothes. Thankfully I have a few powerful reasons not to shop: one being ethics, another being the number of times I've gone on about ethics and thus don't want to be a hypocrite, and another being money. Also, I haven't room for many clothes, let alone shoes and bags.
You may wonder why I even go into shops. Well, sometimes it's just for a look. Sometimes I want to visually reverse-engineer something to see how it's sewn. Sometimes I actually need something (but I won't buy what I can make unless I need it right there and then like when I got caught in a heavy downpour recently and bought a waterproof jacket).
And yet, fashion is a fact of life. It's always been there and it always will be because that is how human civilisation works. People copy each other, then the first people get bored and do something else and everyone copies that. It's not a bad thing. It just depends who's copying whom. If the people at the front are setting a good example then that's good. And as long as that good example is thought to be normal and not a mere trend, then we're headed in the right direction. Like with recycling. People the public looked up to (celebrities) had to do it as part of their everyday lives for the public to first take it as a good thing to do, and then get used to it so they do it all the time. The same is happening with bikes and the CycleChic movement. It helps that Britain has had three Tour de France wins in the past four years. :)
Usually an aesthetic goes with a lifestyle movement. That's just part of getting people to like something. I suppose that's fine. It's just that I don't want to follow. I don't have to anyway. If last week's trip to the shops is anything to by, I'm at least right on time, if not early. But I bet I'm not the only one. How often have you, as a sewist, gone into a shop only to find that instead of getting inspiration, you get maker's déja vu?
Here's a good video:

Monday, 14 September 2015

My Cut21 Jeans -- The Test Ride

Last week I had a job interview at a bike shop in York and made some jeans for it. They were the Cut21 Jeans made over my jeans block, so the fit is a little different, partly because there were some changes I wanted to make, like narrowing the legs.
Cut21 Jeans test ride, worn with Cut21 Jacket Toile and Cut21 handbag.
The jeans are getting more comfortable as I'm breaking them in. I'm used to stretch denim or skirts. Mainly skirts. They were not comfortable to begin with.
Cut21 Jeans front view; they slip down a bit because the waistline stretched a little during sewing. That is why "wad" appears. If I had a belt that wouldn't happen.
Aldrich's jeans and trouser drafts go right to the floor, which is about 8cm longer than a garment's inside legs would be, which is roughly what I have as my turn ups. It's lucky they are this length. When I drafted the pattern months ago I evidently typed in 120cm instead of 102cm, so when I printed out my pattern it were frankly too long. I shortened it and narrowed the leg to get this fit. I've corrected my Illustrator pattern now. :)
Many of the features of these jeans you have already seen on the original Cut21 jeans but, as I said, I changed a few things. Specifically:
  • the narrower leg (measured round my ankle with the tape at an approximated circumference)
  • no yellow hand-topstitching (no time, haven't bothered since)
  • and the belt-loops are now uniform in length and made from the selvedge, which I thought was a nice touch.
Making the belt-loops
Making the belt-loops
The fit is pretty good (bear in mind that they are slightly crumpled here for having been worn while cycling). I can't really say whether the gusset improves comfort because I don't have any jeans without a gusset. It's not as nice as cycling in a skirt anyway.

Things I Would Like To Improve

  • The back pockets are a bit far apart. I think they could do to be 1.5cm nearer to the CB seam.
  • The little pocket that I was going to keep my keys in is too small for that, so it's really just for looks and I don't like that.
  • I still couldn't get the facing to be perfectly aligned at the CF. You can't tell from the outside, but still...
  • The waist is too low, and I think it stretched a bit during sewing. I suppose that is why they fuse waistbands in RTW jeans. I didn't do a higher back waistline either, so the whole waistline needs redesigning if I'm to make another pair.
  • The shape on the front waistline detail is not perfectly round.

Thinks I'm pleased with

  • Not one pin was used to sew these! (I've given up pins for sewing lately; I don't need them).
  • RTW fly front zip like in my brother's jeans (slightly different though as they use a felling attachment and make their patterns accordingly in RTW; you work with what you have)
  • The fit of the legs. It reminds me of Hiut denim (great company; I've never bought anything from them because I make my own, but they look good!)
  • The fit on the crutch -- no monobutt here!
  • They get more comfortable the more I wear them
  • They're real denim, not stretch stuff. It's so nice and the perfect step between weighty denim and soft denim, which is nice for women's wear. It got it from Merchant & Mills.
So they are my Cut21 jeans 2.0. They're going to look so cool with my Cut21 jacket (I'm working on a hack for that now)!
If you could make some dream jeans, what would they be like? Any special features? A particular fabric? Please do share in the comments below!