Category Archives: Grainline Studio

Overlockfest

overlockfest

Here’s the fruits of one sewist who’s VERY happy to have her working overlocker back. Going Konmari on my wardrobe left me with a very clear idea of what I needed to make immediately to fill some gaps, and luckily I had all the fabrics I needed to fulfil a lot of my needs. Not the most exciting garments to share, but definitely what I wear 90% of the time both for work and weekends. In fact these photos were taken each morning this week as I started wearing my new garments right away.

First up two of Grainline Studio’s free Hemlock, made in wintry sweater knits. The lurvely lofty rust-melange knit is from Tissu Fabrics and the navy slinky knit was a freebie from a studio sale in Shoreditch. Two new sweaters for £6.99 total, score!

Hemlock

The rust one is a very loose/lacy knit so I was worried about it unravelling at the seams. I sewed it all with a zigzag on my normal machine then trimmed and finished the edges with the overlocker afterwards, which seemed more secure than using just the overlocker for construction. The hems are folded up once then stitched right over the raw edge with a zig zag. There’s clear elastic in the shoulder seams to reinforce them too, so I hope all those things will make it last a while.

Hemlock

The navy one was much easier to deal with, just overlocked all over and I added cuff bands to make the sleeves full length (though still nearly always wear them rolled up). One thing about the Hemlock is I can’t seem to get the fit at the top quite right- it tends to slip off my shoulders and pull backwards a little. I tried reducing the width of the front and back neckline/shoulder on the rust one but it didn’t really seem to help. I’m thinking next time I’ll bring the shoulder forward slightly and also try adding a curve along the shoulder seam to try and anchor it in place. No worry though, I’m still going to wear the hell out of both of these.

Plantain

This is a Deer & Doe Plantain (another freebie!) made from some lush tissue-weight knit from Cloth House. I didn’t notice the sparkle running through it until I got it home – it’s subtle in real life. The fit is right off the pattern, except I raised the neckline a bit and cut a mid-upper-arm length sleeve edged with a wide band. The perfect tee pattern in my books.

Zippy top

Ah, my other go-to tee, the Zippy top, for when I can’t even be bothered to set in a sleeve. I especially like it with an added slouchy pocket in a drapey knit, like this lovely rust-coloured crepe jersey I got from Goldhawk Road. Obsessed with this colour right now, though I need to wear a different coat to avoid being orange all over, ha.

Up next, replenishing the lower half side of my wardrobe, which basically means more Gingers. If I can tear myself away from the overlocker for a bit…

Minerva Network: Peacock Archer

Peacock Archer

Phew, finally a non-jersey and non-stashbust make! For this month’s Minerva project, I picked a beautiful peacock-feather printed navy satin to make my first Grainline Archer shirt. (Weirdly my next three upcoming Minerva makes are all varying shades of blue, but unlike the last three months this is the only patterned one.) This satin has a lovely sheen and handle but sewing with it was a new challenge, especially for a shirt. It’s super slippery and slid off-grain at any oppurtunity. Luckily I’d read a tip to cut such fabrics through a layer of tissue paper or newspaper, and this made it much more manageable. I also used thin silk pins to avoid marking the delicate fabric. The pieces were much easier to deal with once interfaced, and a liberal helping of Aqua Glue was my saviour whilst sewing the button placket and collar.

Peacock Archer

The Archer pattern itself was a breeze. It probably helped that I’ve made two shirts for Josh already so the construction steps were very familiar to me. I also cut some big corners by leaving off the pockets and sleeve plackets/cuffs; I just couldn’t imagine getting them remotely accurate in the satin without having a nervous breakdown.

Peacock Archer

Instead I went for an above-elbow length sleeve with a deep cuff to try and mimic the look of the sleeves being rolled-up (how I always wear a long-sleeved shirt anyway). I like how this gives the silky shirt a more laid-back look – almost like that dressy-pyjama trend of last year – and it’s easier to layer up with a cardigan which is pretty essential in February. I tried to do that two-by-two button effect but my spacing’s a bit off, they just look a bit uneven.

Peacock Archer

The size I picked was pretty perfect out of the box and I love the dipped back hem: I want to try the ruffled variation sometime too. I’m glad I persevered with the fabric as I love the final shirt and it’s seen a few wears already.

As ever, you can buy the kit for this make – containing fabric, thread, buttons and interfacing – for just £18 from Minerva here.

Operation knit-stashbust, and overlocker tips

I’m on a bit of a fabric-busting mission at the moment: matching up all my stashed-away fabrics to appropriate patterns and getting them sewn up. I get a bit antsy when there’s too much stuff accumulating in my house, and my fabric pile(s) are getting slightly out of control. I now have a Google spreadsheet so I know exactly what I have and how I want to use it, and I promise I won’t buy any more until it’s significantly reduced. Apart from that Goldhawk Road visit with the Spoolettes last weekend, ahem.

The main things in my stash are printed jerseys (thanks to a few binges at Rolls & Rems, Girl Charlee and Fabulace), and awkward sub-1m pieces left from other projects. Naturally jersey is easier to think of projects for and is also a large component of what I wear day to day, so I’ve been whizzing my way through this pile. I don’t have all that much to say about them though, so I thought I’d dump them all together here. I also thought I’d jot down a few tips for working with knits/an overlocker, in case anyone find it helpful.

Franken-Anna dress

First, a simple elastic-waist frock in a rayon knit from Fabulace. The skirt part is Simplicity 1800 again, like my favourite feather dress, and the bodice is By Hand’s Anna with minor alterations. In retrospect the large geometric print wasn’t the best choice for Anna as it gets chopped up by the waist pleats and you can’t really see the ‘blossoming bust’ detail, but I really just wanted to see if it worked in a knit.

Franken-Anna dress

I had to take a large dart out of the centre back to compensate for the stretchy fabric. Next time I’d do this before actually cutting the piece out, I had to kind of fudge it afterwards. To be honest, this was one of those ‘it’s 9pm on a school night but I really feel like making something NOW’ kind of projects, so it’s a bit rushed and wonky in places, but I still like it a lot. How nice is the green with the black and white? I need more green makes, I think.

Burda 07/11 pants

Next, another pair of Burda 07/2011’s (see more here and here), made in another rayon jersey from Fabulace. Jazzy prints are apparently my Achille’s heel.

Burda 07/11 pants

This time I made a waistband with encased elastic rather than the folded-over ribbing band the pattern recommends. These are basically a copy of a pair of RTW trousers that I wear all the darn time for work-at-home days, and they’re just about outside-acceptable too. Right?!

Hemlock tee

A Grainline Hemlock using some slubby grey knit from Minerva and a scrap of a darker grey. Lovely pattern, takes like an hour, will sew again and again.

Peplum tee

Here’s a peek at what’s been my little project since the new year: a totally self-drafted peplum tee, which I’m going to make available as a free PDF download very soon. I’ve made several during the process of drafting the pattern and think this plain black one is my favourite, even though it was an earlier version and the bust still isn’t quite right. Watch out next week for the pattern release if you like it.

Overlocker tips

Now, here are some of my top tips for working with jerseys, as I know a few people got overlockers for Christmas so might find these useful.

Cutting

Overlocker tips

I use my pleasingly matchy-matchy weights and rotary cutter to cut. I find using scissors and pins can cause distortion and a ‘hacky’ uneven edge, and you want to be as accurate as possible to make life easier when sewing. I only have a small cutting mat, so I have to move it around under the pieces as I cut.

Setting up

Overlocking tips

Buy the big cones of thread in packs of 3 or 4 depending on how many your machine takes (my machine can take 4 but I usually sew with 3). eBay and Jaycotts are good sources, they can be tricky to find in shops. I’ve only ever needed black, white and a medium grey, which seem to blend into nearly everything I’ve made (telling, huh?!), and they last forever – over a year and counting for mine and still nowhere near finished. Rotate the spools often, because the lower loopers use more thread than the upper needles.

Once your machine’s threaded up, you never need rethread it, even when changing colour. Simply snip the threads at the top, tie on the new colour and knot securely. Snip the loose ends short then run the machine in short bursts to pull the threads through, stopping when they get to a tension dial and manually helping them through. You’ll find the lower loopers feed through first as they use up more thread, so I usually run the machine until they are done then pull through the top needle thread manually and rethread the needle (or both needles, if using four threads). This takes under 90 seconds when you’ve done it a few times. Andrea has done a photo tutorial of basically the same technique I use. I can make a video on my process if anyone would find it helpful?!

Sewing

Overlocking kit

If you’re a bit scared of the overlocker, there’s no harm in basting your seams first with a regular sewing machine. Either stitch close to the edge so the stitches are covered by the overlocking, or further in so you can easily pull them out later.

Always do a quick test run on a scrap of fabric before starting each project. Tension can vary quite a bit between different jersey weights.

Sometimes I remove the knife from my overlocker, trim down the seam allowances if necessary (but leaving an allowance the width of the overlocked stitch, in my case about 5mm), and stitch my seams without using the blade to cut off any excess. This can be handy when going around tight corners so you don’t accidentally slice a bit off, and can also create a more stable seam at shoulders as the fabric bunches a little into the stitches. It also means you can unpick and re-sew if you make a mistake!

Unpicking overlocked seams is quite easy – quicker than regular stitching, I think. Here’s a tutorial.

I use Clover wonder clips instead of pins, as I’m terrified of what would happen if I accidentally ran a pin through my overlocker blade *shudders*

A walking foot is a great investment for sewing with knits on your regular machine. Mine is a cheap unbranded snap-on one and does the job fine.

Overlock tips

To finish an edge where an overlocked end is left loose (as opposed to being covered by another seam), I thread the tail ends onto a large darning needle and weave it back into the overlocked seam, cutting after an inch or so and securing with a drop of Fray Check or a small bar tack.

Hemming

Feather dress

My usual technique is to finish the raw edge with the overlocker, fold up once anywhere from 1/2″ (on a sleeve) to 2″ (on a dress hem), press, and stitch directly over the overlocking using a walking foot and zigzag or twin needle stitch. A double-folded up edge can look bulky on some jerseys and affect the drape. You want to catch the very edge, or even tip over, the finished overlocked edge so your seam won’t flip unattractively to the outside. I also love to do a machine blind hem on jersey dresses as it won’t ever flip outside, looks nearly invisible, and doesn’t affect the hang or drape. Press well after stitching.

Neck and cuff bands

Feather dress

I sometimes use this Megan Nielsen technique, which has you stitch the neckband to the inside (wrong side) of the garment, then press to the outside and topstitch. This has the benefit of giving a bit of stability, but can look a bit poor in lighter or loopy knits as the topstitches will just sink in. Or you can sew a band straight to the right side and press upwards, like this tutorial.

Silk Tulip Scout

Silk Tulip Scout

I’m still working through my Mood fabric stash: here’s a twist on a Scout tee, made in a dreamy Oscar de la Renta silk. This is probably the fanciest fabric I’ve sewn with yet and I love the chocolate brown with its wobbly windowpane check pattern. It wasn’t entirely fun to sew with, though…

Silk Tulip Scout
Silk Tulip Scout

The idea for this top came entirely from Laglov’s project that I found on Kollabora. It must be one of the most hearted projects on there so chances are you’ve seen it too. It’s a simple pattern change to the Scout – just cutting two front pieces and taking a curve out from shoulder to hem – but this little hack does lead to quite a lot more fiddly sewing work, especially when made in slippery silk. Still it only took a morning to finish, so I can’t exactly say it was laborious.

Silk Tulip Scout
Silk Tulip Scout
Silk Tulip Scout

I used Jen Grainline’s technique to roll hem all the edges, which worked out well. The curved fronts went a little wavy, but it kind of looks purposefully draped that way. It’s all French seamed, both for strength and to look smart as it’s not fully opaque. The nice thing is the front is effectively self-lined with the two layers crossing over so the coverage is fine.

Silk Tulip Scout

It’s a bit chilly to really show off at this time of year, but layers nicely under a cardi and it’s ever so soft and comfy. I’ll probably use this technique again with some knit fabric.

Checked Scout

Checked Scout

Well, apparently I don’t need my coat just yet, but I made use of the leftover lining in a little Scout tee, perfect for this warm autumnal Thursday. It’s Josh’s birthday so we popped to the new Ace Hotel for breakfast and he snapped these photos for me outside. (His own plaid shirt is finished too so I’m going to blog about it as soon as I can get him to model it!)

Checked Scout

I had an awkward shaped piece of this plaid lining left over from my coat, and luckily the trusty Scout pieces just fitted onto it. I even just about managed to centre and pattern-match the checks, something I’m getting quite obsessive over lately. I would have liked to cut the whole thing on the bias, but there definitely wasn’t enough for that.

Checked Scout
Checked Scout

I had to make it just a little shorter and smaller than my other Scouts, so I left little vents open at the bottom of the side seams to make sure it fitted over my hips. I left the back a little longer and slightly curved. I think it works either tucked in or loose over jeans.

Checked Scout
Checked Scout
Checked Scout

The sleeves are simply press-hemmed and the neckline is finished with bias. I did cut a little pocket but ended up leaving it off as I thought it spoiled the symmetry of the checks.

Checked Scout

For a ‘free’ top I think it turned out pretty cute. It’s soft and cosy so a really nice layering autumnal tee, and the wool doesn’t crease at all with wear. Winner! I’m glad I got to use this fabric again somewhere where you can actually see it as I love the colours.