Pyjama bottoms!

I don’t make a lot clothes-wise for my boyfriend… the thought of making a shirt is quite daunting (he has a lot too).  The only item I have made in ten years is a onesie funnily enough, which I made the day before Christmas Eve manically on my mum’s sewing machine.  It is the biggest gift I’ve made him, and it would be more impressive garment I’ve made… if I hadn’t cut half the pieces the wrong way round on the fleece!

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Making pyjamas for him has been on my list for a while.   However, I found this lovely bear print woven fabric at the stitching, sewing and hobbycrafts show last month which I knew he would like, so I decided that it was time to get this gift idea off the list.

The main issue with making clothes for someone else even – even when you are making something quite simple like elasticated pj bottoms – is making sure they fit right.  Fortunately I knew the inner leg measurement from trouser shopping in the past, but it was tricky to gauge the waist measurement beyond requesting a tactical hug!  Even with the leg length, I ended up making them a little longer out of fear that if they were too short, I couldn’t remedy that scenario as easily as if they ended up too long.

I cut the fabric one afternoon and began stitching the first couple of stages, but had to shut myself away to finish them off the next day.  It was good to have a short time frame to be able to make them as it meant I spent less time worrying and more time making.  I found and bought a suitable top to match on this occasion.

They were well received and I enjoyed making him something practical.  next time, I think I will try out a summer set (at least leg length isn’t required for shorts which eliminates one issue) and perhaps by then I will be confident enough with knits to make the top too!

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The air erasable pen

At the end of September, I bought my first air erasable pen and thought I’d share my first few weeks’ experience with it.

The air erasable pen I got at the  the stitching, sewing and hobbycrafts show at Westpoint, Exeter, was from Barn Yarns.

As you can see from the images, there are two ends to this pen.  There is a fine point and a thicker nib.  the difference between these two nibs can be seen in the image below:

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I like the use of two different thicknesses because it suits the purposes I use it for very well.  I can use the finer point to create much more precision on intricate machine embroidery designs which need to be mapped out on the material before stitching.  However, the thicker nib is useful for making marks dressmaking as it show up better and doesn’t disappear quite so quickly!  However, I have used it for larger embroidery designs.  For example, I have begun making some new tote bag designs for Christmas which include larger stitched words than I normally produce.  I write with the machine freehand in general, but as the words are a lot bigger than I’m comfortable with, it was good to use the thick nib of the pen to draft it out before I began.

The directions for this pen advise that the markings will disappear between 24-48 hours in general, but it depends on the location.  Humidity plays a factor, and I found that the stag design markings with the fine point disappeared within 24 hours.  Cornwall is quite humid, so I expect that other locations may find the markings last longer!  I think it depends on the fabric too.

The time it takes to disappear can be an advantage and disadvantage.  For me, it’s great for a project I am going to make straight away, as the markings are there for as long as I need, and will disappear on their own without the need of water, which removes the risk of shrinking the fabric (if it gets to wet) or causing the thread to run.  However, it would not be so good if you used it for a dressmaking project which you could not complete within a weekend, as there’s a good chance your markings will disappear if you take too long!  In this instance, I’d probably stick to the water soluble pen variety, which tends to last much longer in my experience.

Overall though, this pen has improved the way I make certain items and I have used it a lot in a short space of time.  It will be interesting to see how long it lasts before I need to purchase a new one!

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The Walkley Dress

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While on a bit of a dressmaking roll, I decided to delve back into the realm of knit fabrics.  Having only made one successful garment with knit, I decided that I wanted to keep the pattern as simple as possible.

The simple question for this project was The Walkley Dress by Wendy Ward MIY.

This pattern requires two pieces to be cut out of your fabric, and they come from the same template.  If you’re lucky enough to have 150cm wide fabric, you only need a metre!  In this instance, I already had some fabric ready and waiting – a remnant from a fabric shop!

Setting up the machine proved the most difficult part.  It’s been about six months since I last tried a stretch pattern, and it was a challenge to set up my machine.  Following the advice from the pattern, I opted for the small zigzag stitch for the seams, and the three stitch zigzag for the hems.  In addition, I attached a walking foot to my machine and loosened the pressure of the presser foot; without these adjustments, my machine did not want to stitch!

Originally, I planned to try a twin needle on the hems, but I managed to break my stretch needle one a while ago and haven’t replaced it yet.  It turns out that I keep loosening the needle whenever I attach the walking foot to my machine!

I didn’t colour match the thread for this garment as I had recently acquired a set of threads in different colours (none of which were a perfect match) and I didn’t want to go out and buy more supplies on this occasion.  The downside to this is that the hemming is a lot more noticeable than it would have been.

Also, I stretched the hem a bit while stitching (I did the hem before the neck and armholes).  I didn’t have any stay tape or stabiliser, which could have helped to prevent this, but I did adjust my stitching technique to decrease the amount of stretching after noticing the issue on the hem.

The neckline is quite wide (though this could be in part due to my stitching ability!) but it’s really comfy and it is definitely a pattern which provides you with fast results which are satisfying!  It’s a brilliant ‘first knit’ pattern too as there aren’t too many steps or seams to stitch which means you can focus on working carefully with the knit medium.

I think next time I use this pattern, I will definitely try out some knit stay tape to ensure that the garment lasts a long time.  Also, I think I may opt for a patterned material.

I think I will give this pattern another go with the lessons learnt from this occasion in mind!  As it only requires a metre of fabric to create a whole dress, and can be made in less time than a lot of the other patterns I have, I think another one will be made!  As the pattern says, this make is versatile for all seasons as you can layer it for the winter or wear it as it is for the summer.

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