Black n blue 7017s, and how to fix a broken zip fly

Burda 7017 pants

From multi-camisoles to multi-pants: well, I needed something to wear with them, right? This post contains three pairs of my beloved TNT, Burda 7017, made over the last few months. Teamed with a cami or tee and jauntily rolled at the cuff they’re practically my everyday uniform right now.

Burda 7017 pants

Pair the first was made back in April; you might have seen them cropping up in my Me-Made May. I didn’t blog them at the time because they are pretty zzz, but I wear them loads so they deserve a place here. They’re made of a beautiful cotton twill from Cloth House in Soho. I think it was about £14 a metre and totally worth it as it’s so soft, lovely to work with and to wear. For this pair I converted the front pleats into sewn-down tucks. I tried to take some detail shots of the construction but black = nuh uh. They are very nicely made though, honest!

Burda 7017 pants

This second pair uses a poly from my Ecuador haul. These are kind of secret pyjamas: SO COMFY thanks to a bit of stretch in the fabric, and I love that they look like denim chambray. They look especially nice with this tan tee and shoes, non?

Burda 7017 pants

I used leftover ikat cotton for the inner band which I think looks super sweet and adds a bit of rigidity. I have to give a shout out to the fly front directions in this pattern again: it’s now my default method as it’s very fast and accurate. (Except these and my next pair both turned out the wrong way round, ie crossing right over left, man-style, which feels quite odd!) The facings are integrated into the pattern piece so you simply press them back and stitch the zip to each in turn – soooo easy. However, I did very stupidly pull the zip slider right off the top edge as I was testing it. I don’t usually cut the stops off until I’ve sewn on the waistband, and there’s exactly why. See the bottom of this post for how I got it back on.

Burda 7017 pants

Latest pair! These use a beaaautiful Marc Jacobs cloth that I bought from Mood NYC way back last October. I thought it was denim but working with it made me question that: it’s crosswoven with black and blue-grey yarns, frays a lot and creases/presses readily. A silk mix suiting perhaps? It’s perfect light pants weight and feels very luxurious to wear.

Burda 7017 pants

For this pair I hacked the pattern a bit, lowering the rise by 2″ or so and almost eliminating the front pleats. Having learned what I did on Alice’s class I would have approached this a bit differently now; it turned out ok but the tiny pleats left over look a bit silly so I should have transferred them into the side seams.

Burda 7017 pants

I put welt pockets into the back to break up the expanse of bum. I was a bit cocky and went straight into it without practicing, having done welt pockets once before but quite a while ago. Needless to say they are far from perfect – the corners aren’t nicely squared off and they gape pretty badly. I think I’ll sew them closed to prevent them tearing over time. This pair looks less good tucked in due to the low waist so my top will usually hide this mess, ahem.

Burda 7017 pants

The pocket bags and inner waistband are made from lovely tana lawn scraps. (I wore the pants with its matching cami the other day and had secret sewist joy that my inner waistband matched my top.) The fabric had a lovely pastel-striped selvedge which I’ve left raw on the fly shield and cuff.

Burda 7017 pants

I made the waistband a bit wider and added two buttons, as well as a concealed inner button for a snug fit. I’m going to add belt loops as well – I was feeling lazy after doing the welts so left them off but I miss them.

Fix a broken zip

Now here’s how to fix that pesky slidden-off zip pull.

Fix a broken zip

Locate the very bottom of the zip, just above the stop. Carefully (I used my sharp thread snips) snip out two teeth close to the stop.

Fix a broken zip

Do the same on the other side of the zip. Make sure you remove teeth evenly on both sides (ie two teeth up on each side), so the zip will match up when you slide it back on.

Fix a broken zip

Ease the slider back onto one side, pushing it just one tooth up – you’ll feel it ‘click’. Do the same on the other side.

Fix a broken zip

Slide it up a bit to check it’s properly aligned; if not slide it back off and try again.

Fix a broken zip

Now hand-sew a strong bar tack across the hole where you cut out the teeth.

Fix a broken zip

And quick, sew some bar tacks at the tops to stop you doing it again (which will be covered by your waistband). Phew, crisis averted.

My good old 7017s are real wardrobe winners, a bit more interesting than everyday jeans and so easy to wear and style. I hear a lots of sewists say they hardly ever make repeat patterns, but it makes total sense to me as you have all the boring pattern cutting and fitting done and can just enjoy the process of making and wearing. I am, however, going to put it to one side now and try out my block next time I make pants to see how it compares.

A trip to Merchant & Mills, Rye

Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills

I managed to drag Josh out of town last weekend to go on a daytrip to Rye. I promise there were a couple more reasons than just visiting Merchant & Mills, err honest, but it was a hefty reason for the trip I have to admit.

Merchant & Mills

I’ve had a bit of a sea change around fabric this summer: I’m trying to slowly ditch my poly/synthetic habit and get into buying more natural fibres. You really notice the difference in comfort and stickiness when cycling in the heat! So Merchant and Mills is the perfect place to stock up on beautiful cottons and linens, and there are still enough pretty prints to satisfy me thanks to the Rajasthan handblocked cotton collection.

Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills

They also have the most gorgeous solids, enough to even tempt this pattern fanatic. Slubby, creamy linens and gorgeous denims running the range from silky chambray to rough and tough selvedge, mostly in my favourite shades of drab and sludge.

Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills

Naturally I cooed over all the pretty notions too, all designed in-house.

Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills

Yummy shiny hardware to cap it all off, to make your oikskin tote bag.

Merchant & Mills

What came home with me? A bit of handblocked dotted cotton, some ticking striped linen, the most beautiful silky grey and white linen (I snagged the last 90cm!) and a gorgeous khaki trouser-weight Irish linen. Can’t wait to sew ‘em up.

Rye

As it happens, there actually are more reasons to visit Rye besides the wonders of Merchant & Mills. It’s so pretty: full of cobbled streets, antique shops, cream teas and fish ‘n’ chips, with the fresh tang of the sea in the air. (You can see more about Rye in general in this post from my last visit a year ago.) All that only an hour from St Pancras! I could also catch up with Michelle, who left London for a more idyllic life living in the countryside and working at M&M itself. I heartily recommend a visit to stock up for your autumn sewing.

Pattern Cutting Summer School at Ray Stitch

sewclass0

In a delightful case of right place right time (and a great case of karma from a returned favour), last week Rachel from Ray Stitch invited me to a last-minute place on their Pattern Cutting Summer School course. Three days of learning how to build a bodice, skirt and trouser block exactly to my size, and learn how to adapt it to make any pattern I could dream of? SIGN ME UP! I quickly shuffled some work around and found myself at Ray Stitch bright and early last Monday morning with three more students and our fabulous teacher, Alice Prier.

sewclass1

I’ll give a brief overview of what we covered, but there were so many other hints and tips Alice spoke about that you’d really want to take a class yourself to pick everything up. Day one started with an introduction from Alice to her work and techniques. She’s a self-taught lifelong seamstress who now runs a made to measure business, Alice & Co. She also has a fashion travel blog and is soon to launch some beautiful printed patterns which I got a sneak peek of. From the beginning I was rapt by her vast knowledge, soaking it all in sponge-like and scribbling page after page in my notebook. Each day we tackled a different block, with the morning spent drafting and fitting and the afternoon learning about ways to adapt and add design. We used three different methods: plotting measurements onto a ‘grid’, adapting a standard size block, and fitting a calico toile on the body.

sewclass2

We did the skirt on day one, probably the most straightforward. After pairing up to take hip and waist measurements, we drew the rough sizing onto a folded piece of calico, with the fold forming the centre front of the skirt and then the back next to it. (Alice explained it’s good to draft like this so you can check the side seams are nicely lined up.) Shaping from waist to hip is made via darts and shaping in the top of the side seam. Edges are smoothed off with a French curve then the calico is sewn up for a first fitting. All of our tweaks were pretty minor: lengthening and adding to the darts generally to create a sleek, well-fitting shape. The calico is then cut out flat along the adjusted lines and traced onto dot-and-cross paper. Ta-da, one basic skirt block from which a million variations can spring.

sewclass3

In the afternoon, we played around with half-size paper blocks to learn how to manipulate the darts and add in other design elements like pleats, yokes, godets, and flare. This part was so fun – not just because it included scissors, sticky tape and cake making it feel like preschool – because you could really start to visualise how these basic blocks can be transformed in any kind of design you like, while being sure it will always fit perfectly.

sewclass5

On day two we drafted the bodice by starting with Alice’s standard size blocks. On Alice’s recommendation (after so many years she can read a body size extremely well) I cut a size ten with an FBA – I’ve never done an FBA on a pattern before but apparently I needed one as it solved the issue I always have with bagginess in the upper chest. I had to make a fair few other adjustments, as I knew I’d always needed after making the same adjustments over and over to commercial patterns. As well as the FBA we moved the shoulder forward, took a back neck dart (which got rotated into the waist dart), did a large swayback adjustment and added more ease into the sleeve head.

sewclass6

Again, we spent the afternoon leaning about how to adapt that bodice and turn our block into princess seams, swingy shapes, blouses, jackets and so on. We also compared the bodice to our skirt from yesterday to see how they could be combined to make dresses. The biggest WOW moment for me is that just because the darts aren’t sewn it doesn’t mean they aren’t there, because just like the skirt they can be pivoted downwards and left open to create fullness while still leaving shaping intact. That explains why tops like the Grainline Scout work so well with no visible darts – they are there, just not sewn up!

sewclass4

Day three we tackled trousers. I’ve sewn several pairs of pants now that fit pretty well, but actually starting from scratch and learning the theory behind the fitting means the block should be even better. We drafted these using the classic from-scratch technique, inputting our measurements onto a grid of dot and cross paper. Those are then calico’ed, fitted on the body, and the adjustments transferred back to the paper. I eliminated the front darts, lowered the waist (more at the front than back), slimmed the legs and sucked out some excess under the bum. Afterwards we chatted about converting the back darts to a yoke, pockets, waistbands, pleats, adding and removing ease, and so on. I can’t wait to give these a go in real fabric and see how they compare.

toile

After I got home I did a bit more fine-tuning, and tried attaching the skirt, bodice and sleeve to see how they all worked together. Hopefully you can tell even from the crappy fabric and exposed seams that the fit is pretty great: none of the usual sway-back pooling, gaping shoulders, hip tightness etc, and nice straight perpendicular waist and side seams. The block provides a basic ‘shell’ of your body with minimal ease, so when you alter the block you can calculate how much ease to add (or remove) from this baseline. You do need to alter the bodice pattern a bit depending on if your garment will be sleeved or sleeveless so I think I’ll do another block for when I decide to use sleeves (you can see a bit of pulling around the armsyce so more ease is needed). You can also easily adjust the blocks to use with knit fabrics – one simple tip is to use the back bodice as the front too, with adjustments to the neckline and armsyce. I’m really keen to make my knit blocks as well.

Aside from my blocks, I’ve also been left with a head full of ideas and new techniques to improve my general sewing. I really can’t wait to start using the blocks and Alice’s tips to start designing my own garments. I’ve already started doodling some ideas in Illustrator of some interesting silhouettes to try…

dresses

I can’t recommend Alice’s pattern cutting class highly enough. She was a fantastic teacher, so inspiring and encouraging and happy to share her years of knowledge. Check out upcoming dates here – she also teaches ‘Recreate a favourite garment’ which I’d love to do as well.

If you’ve been thinking of making your own blocks, either in a class or using a tutorial at home, I’d say definitely take the time and DO IT! It will completely change your sewing because you’ll learn even more about your body and how patterns are constructed to turn the 2d fabric into a 3d curve-fitting shape. Even if you’re not interested in designing your own patterns, you can compare the block to commercial patterns to check/adjust the fit before getting started (we covered this in the class as well). So have I sold you?! I’m off to make one more toile of my blocks to check they’re 100% correct, then expect some self-drafts popping up here in the near future.

Ray Stitch offered me a discounted last-minute place on the class; views my own.

Camisole crazy

Hallo! Thanks so much for the kind comments on my swimsuit. In a happy twist of fate, I am unexpectedly taking a pattern-cutting crash course this week (more on that soon – it is blowing my tiny mind) so if you fancied the pattern do watch this space. Now for something silly…

cami gif

Sooo, these projects are all so quick and kinda throwaway that they don’t seem worth a post of their own. But I’ve been rigorously testing out seemingly every cami/tank/singlet pattern under the sun lately (and wearing them almost daily – London is HOT, by the way) so I thought I’d jot down my thoughts on each of them.

(What do you think of my new photo setup by the way? I actually finally found a wall in my flat that’s plain white and gets decent light. Can’t decide if it’s a bit boring, though…)

Camisoles

You probably recognise this first cami from its background role in some other posts – I barely took it off for like two weeks straight when I made it. It’s a Salme double-layer cami made from a slinky viscose remnant from Abakhan. Unfortunately, a quick learning for me was that the seemingly simple camisole proves tricky to fit on my body. I have a very small high chest / overbust measurement compared to full bust and overall frame. That means I get mad gaping through necklines (fixed here with a crafty front box pleat) but then get tightness through the bust and underarms if I size down too much. I’m working to perfect the fit with each cami I make, but luckily I actually rather like the pleat detail here. From what I’ve already learned in pattern class this week, I could/should have pivoted out that excess into the bust dart.

Camisoles

Another Salme one using the offcut from my Anna dress. This time I folded the excess fabric out of the neckline, but forgot that the pattern doesn’t include seam/hem allowance and merrily cut my fabric without it. Luckily it does still fit as I sized up anyway as I always do for woven tops, but it’s a wee bit snugger than I generally like. I like the Salme pattern because the underlayer is attached RS together all around the neckline, meaning you don’t need to finish the raw edges with anything fiddly like bias or facings. I’ve been using my seemingly endless stash of stretch mesh as linings to avoid adding much weight or bulk.

Camisoles

Lucky number three, a plain black self-lined slinky viscose version of the Salme – perfect fit!

Camisoles

Ummmm, this one has tiny tumbling cats on and I have run out of things to say. Cats.

Camisoles

Here’s a different pattern, the free Diana cami from Sewloft, made up in a beautiful Liberty tana lawn that I bought as a pre-cut 1m from Liberty’s sale. (Anyone know the name of this design? I love it so much!) I had exactly the same gaping issue, and pinched it out with a front tuck this time. It doesn’t hang quite as nicely as the Salme one as it has no bust darts – notice the ripples down the sides – but that could also be a side effect of the crisp lawn.

Camisoles

I love the back detailing on this one, even if it’s not so bra-friendly. I lined it in white cotton voile to make the print ‘pop’ a bit more and get the same clean neckline finish as the Salme one (the pattern as written is unlined with self bias to finish the neckline). I treated the lining and main as one when sewing the side seams, but I think I prefer the lining hanging loose inside like the Salme one for an easier drape.

Camisoles

Finally the free By Hand London Polly top. I don’t know why I held off making this so long – it’s so sweet, fast to make, and a really good scrapbuster. This is made in a Ghanaian wax cotton that I scooped up from a lovely lady at Spitalfields market for just £2. It was already half-sewn into a skirt so I had to cut carefully to make it fit; the awkward seam right up the front is an unfortunate effect of that. The fabric has two ‘good’ sides with a nice colour contrast; I think the centre panel is supposed to be the wrong side.

Camisoles

I cut a 10 at the top, grading to a 14 at the hips – next time I will pinch more a bit still out of the front and back necklines and perhaps attempt a sway-back adjustment. I only had enough fabric left to cut self bias binding for the neck; the armsyces are just turned and topstitched which luckily worked fine in this easy-press fabric. I really love this top and can see it becoming a TNT as the potential for colour/print blocking is high and it’s so fast and fun to sew. A Polly dress might be on the horizon too…

Fabric cat

So there you go, a veritable bevy of camis. Be rewarded by my cat lounging inconsiderately on my pile of to-be-photographed tops, the adorable little jerk.

Fabric cat

Which is your favourite, Yoni? No surprises there.

Self-drafted swimsuit

Self-drafted swimsuit

This is how I feel having made a swimsuit – a self-drafted one that I am this happy to be photographed in, no less. However, I do seem to have lost all of the process photos I took while drafting and making it, so that will have to wait for another time. Sorry!

Self-drafted swimsuit

Having reviewed the swimwear pattern options out there and not feeling any of them, I decided to go the self-drafted route. This honestly isn’t as scary or reckless as it sounds; in fact I think it makes perfect sense for swimwear as you can feel more free to tailor it exactly to your specs.

Self-drafted swimsuit

I designed this costume to suit my body type, ie to draw attention upwards with the strap detailing and minimise the lower half by keeping it less fussy and higher coverage. It’s honestly the most flattering and comfortable suit I’ve ever owned. I based it off an old Topshop suit that I took apart to use as a basic block, but made tons of amends and four toiles to get to this point.

Self-drafted swimsuit

I will share more about the construction in the future, but basically it’s four pieces – front, back and separate cups. It’s fully lined and all the raw edges are encased in fold-over elastic which also forms the straps. The bust cups have deep open-legged darts to create shape, and the elastic does a nice job of keeping everything firmly in place. I know bust support is an issue for lots of sewists planning swimwear – my bust is kind of average sized but I think this style of darted cup works great for it, giving good shape and support without the need for foam cups or underwires.

Self-drafted swimsuit
Self-drafted swimsuit

The FOE strapping crosses over in the back and joins the underbust line in a continuous loop. I’m really glad this came together exactly as it did in my head and feels very supportive without cutting into the shoulders.

Self-drafted swimsuit

I cut the bottoms quite low with plenty of seat coverage. Again the FOE keeps everything snug and I’m sure it’ll stand up to serious swimming just fine. I know there are concerns about FOE degrading in chlorine and salt water over time so I’m interested to see how it fares. Unfortunately there are no beach trips on my horizon for a few months yet so the acid use test will have to wait a bit.

Self-drafted swimsuit

In terms of supplies: the main fabric is from Funki Fabrics, who kindly sent me the fabric for free to try. I’m really pleased with it – it was very easy to work with, the print is sharp and vibrant, and though I haven’t used it in water yet I hope it holds up well. They have a million choices of prints and plain swim lycras so it’s a great choice for UK sewists looking to get into swimwear. The lining is from Fabricland (eye-searing website trigger alert – find it in the Swim/Dance section, it’s called ‘Lining Skin Thin Jersey’) and FOE from Plush Addict.

I’m so happy with how this suit came out that I’m thinking of digitising the pattern and instructions, would anyone be interested? Either way, when I make the next one I’ll at least be sure to take some photos and share some of things I learned along the way.

Inspired by… A trip to Manchester

I had a lovely weekend just gone visiting my parents in (an unusually) sunny Manchester. We hit one of my favourite fabric shops, checked out the high street then popped to a fashion exhibition at the Art Gallery.

Abakhan, Manchester

Obviously the first port of call was a trip to remnant superstore Abakhan. It looks pretty unassuming from outside, but I think it’d be impossible to come away from here empty handed: a rummage always turns up some goodies. I think surprisingly it’s actually pretty much the only fabric store in central Manchester, so luckily it’s a goodun.

Abakhan, Manchester

In case you haven’t been, one half of the store has racks with fabrics organised by type. It’s especially good for craft cottons (with some especially brilliant/bananas Americana prints), soft spandex jersey prints, viscose dress prints, swim lycra, plain georgettes and coatings. The pieces are generally 1-3 metres, and the staff will usually cut them down for you if you want less. You pay by the weight, which range from £8-12 per kilo. That works out at roughly £2-5 a metre depending on the fabric type.

Abakhan, Manchester
Abakhan, Manchester

The other half has fabrics by the roll – I usually only skim these, they aren’t that exciting – plus there’s an upstairs with notions/haberdashery. AND there are grab bags of zips, elastic and buttons for super cheap (25 zips for 2 quid), great for stash building. Heaven, in other words, and pretty much worth the trip to Mancs alone for the dedicated sewist. They do sell online as well, but not nearly as much range and you miss out on the joy of the rummage.

This time I was pretty focused in my buying (like with Shaukat, it’s good to go in with a plan) and I came away with a very cohesive little set of black/beige/brown prints. These are mostly nice drapey viscose prints with a couple of spandex blend knits. I’m going to have to be careful to not just make a billion camisoles which will only be seasonally appropriate for another month, so perhaps some sleeved tees and dresses are in order. I can’t wait to get sewing. Oh and my bill for this lot, about 8m of fabric – under 25 quid. My mum and my sister also bought fabrics for me to make things for them. Eek!

Afterwards, I was quite inspired by a nose in Urban Outfitters on Market Street. I hardly ever go into high street stores these days (though I still browse for sewspiration online) but it was nice to go and soak up some ideas for how to use my new fabrics. Here are some things that caught my eye.

uo1

I’m still into playsuits in a big way, and the neckline cut outs here remind me of the Deer and Doe Datura. *plots pattern mashup*

uo2

A slightly grungy button up skirt with lace trim. I did actually buy a dress with trim like this recently because I had some store credit, and I want to make a ton of copies. I think little details like buttons and lace trims help to make me-mades look a bit more rtw, and they don’t take long to do.

uo6

A few variations on the cami/babydoll dress. I’m going to self-draft my own dream version – so much scope for fun strap placements and skirt options.

uo7

Oversize roll-back sleeve Scout? Yup please.

Manchester art gallery

Finally, we popped to the Manchester Art Gallery, where coincidentally there was a temporary show called Cotton Couture, displaying a range of 1950s garments commissioned by the Cotton Board to promote the area’s cotton production and show its versatility as a fibre.

Manchester art gallery
Manchester art gallery
Manchester art gallery

The aim was to show that cotton can be used for everything from suits to ballgowns, not just the traditional workwear and undergarments. All these samples have an 18″ waist by the way, to fit the models of the time – JEEZ. All in all a lovely trip with plenty of sewing inspiration fuel.