A chocolate coated Kate!


I finally hit my Goal weight with Weight Watcher's and needed a new winter wardrobe...  Some where in the stash (three stacks back and 4 boxes down!) was a box of various chocolate coloured fabrics...

First out of the box was 4.5m of bitter chocolate coloured plush stretch velour.  And I had some free patterns from a couple of Prima magazines that I wanted to try...

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First things first...  cut out the pattern, lay it out, and cut the garment pieces.  Velour makes a lot of fluff!



The new Bernina is set up on the serger bench.  Testing on scraps showed that I needed to adjust the tension dials and use stretch needles.


nrebernina.JPG (107307 bytes)  tensionadjusted.JPG (81914 bytes)  needles.JPG (92964 bytes)
pins1.JPG (218414 bytes)    It also shows that this velour creeps!  Piled fabrics often do.  To get round this, I use pins, normally anathema to sergers.  But if I put them far enough from the edge to be well away from the foot, they will still hold the fabric in place without endangering the needles and knives!
This is thick fabric, so first I raise the needles and the knife to the highest point by turning the hand-wheel.  Then I lift the toe of the foot and place the fabric right up against the knife... knifeup.JPG (29005 bytes)  toeup.JPG (71888 bytes)  fabricin.JPG (73884 bytes)
seamallowance.JPG (54143 bytes)  pins2.JPG (95837 bytes)  velorfabriatelli.JPG (79552 bytes) I make sure that the raw edge of the fabric is against the mark on the machine for the correct seam allowance (these are based on the LEFT needle position).  Then I can sew down the seam.  See - those pins are well to the left of the foot, but they still prevent the fabric shifting.  If you feel safer doing so, you can always baste the seams. 

The off-cut 'fabriatelli' falls neatly into the scrap collecting box on the front of the machine.

The alterations done to the basic tension settings give me a really neat seam.  Sometimes you may also have to adjust the differential so that the fabric is neither rushed up nor stretched out by the seam.  I also neaten the top and bottom edges of the skirt.

At the end of the seam I tidy up by sliding the chained off ends up the stitches, and burying the thread tail in the seam.

stitches.JPG (123703 bytes)  neatseam1.JPG (116869 bytes)  neatseam2.JPG (149089 bytes)  hemneatening.JPG (68462 bytes)
scrapbox.JPG (52349 bytes)  velorfabriatelli.JPG (79552 bytes)  lintbuildup.JPG (72295 bytes) Sewing velour makes lots of lint!  Time to clean the machine, now that I have finished serging.
Here I have cut the elastic for the waist and joined the ends by overlapping and stitching with a three-step zigzag on the sewing machine.  Again, I'm using a needle for stretch fabric as this is a knit with Lycra in it.

Next I divided the elastic into four sections, pinning to the seams at these four points.

The elastic is lapped over the velour on the right side and stitched with the three step zigzag.  You need to stretch the elastic enough that it is the same length as the fabric, without stretching the fabric.  Let the machine feed the fabric as you sew: if you pull on it more on one side of the needle than the other, or try to 'help' it under the foot, you will deflect the needle and break it.


elastic1.JPG (119285 bytes)  elastic2.JPG (102563 bytes)  elastic3.JPG (85041 bytes)  elastic4.JPG (145366 bytes)
stretchtwins.JPG (62323 bytes)  needlefitted.JPG (72569 bytes)  spoolpin.JPG (92166 bytes) For the hem, quite a few things have to change: first it's the needle, and I have chosen a twin stretch needle for this hem.  This means a second reel of thread, so I fit the auxiliary spool pin.
Then the tension has to change.  You will probably find that you have to tighten the upper tension quite a bit (mine eventually went up to 8!), and slacken off the bobbin tension.  This is a bit of a skiddle on this machine, as I have to remove the bobbin case.  Some drop in bobbins have a more easily accessible adjuster screw.  At least it reminded me to clean out the bobbin race!  Look at that fluff!  IKK!  uppertension.JPG (51475 bytes)  bobbinfluff.JPG (177274 bytes)  bobbinadjust.JPG (81080 bytes)
walkingfoot.JPG (99362 bytes)  velourcurl.JPG (185598 bytes)  twinstitching.JPG (58132 bytes) elasticatch.JPG (170275 bytes)  I also find that on this type of fabric, as with many piled fabrics, the walking or even-feed foot helps greatly.

The last bit of stitching is just to catch the elastic down to all the seams on the inside.

Oops!  even the best of us come unstuck if we hurry!  I managed to pull on the very last stitch, and the needles hit a 4 layer seam meeting and Boing!  bent needles...  I shall need a new stretch twin needle to complete my top! oops.JPG (80255 bytes) 
skirtback.JPG (32153 bytes)  wideskirt.JPG (46356 bytes)  skirtfront.JPG (36365 bytes) And here is the completed skirt!  it swishes beautifully as I walk.

Now, the very last thing I need to do is go back to the machine and readjust that bobbin tension before I forget...

For the top, very few of the basics were any different from sewing the skirt.  One of the major ones was this little dart, which had to be sewn neatly, and finished off.  It's in the top of the sleeve, to give some shape over the shoulder. dart1.JPG (188389 bytes)  dart2.JPG (208528 bytes)  dart3.JPG (128984 bytes)
neatedge.JPG (76102 bytes)  sewing.JPG (63931 bytes)  hems.JPG (84819 bytes) After the dart was sewn I could neaten the top and bottom edges of all the pieces and turn them up, using the double needle again - well, a new double needle, after the disaster with the first one!  Silly me...
When sewing the seams of the top, I lifted the presser foot on the serger right up as I was starting with a pre-hemmed edge that was four layers thick! footup.JPG (66780 bytes)  footdown.JPG (84489 bytes)
seameating.JPG (278948 bytes)  seamend.JPG (97171 bytes)

seamstitching2.JPG (136535 bytes)  seamtop.JPG (72502 bytes)

  The seams need to match up very neatly at neck edge and hem.  Try also to get them to match reasonably well at the armhole...  You can afford a little fudging here, but not too much!  Mind you, anyone getting this close to your armpits shouldn't be interested in how well the seams match up... 
The last bit of sewing was hemming up the sleeves, using the free arm on the sewing machine. freearm.JPG (94415 bytes)
topback.JPG (49961 bytes)  topfront.JPG (62962 bytes) Here we go - the finished top, front and back!  I'm pleased with this.  It feels good and I really like the three-quarter length sleeve.  Long enough to keep my arms warm, short enough to be out of the way for sewing and cooking!
Here's the whole outfit. wholeside.JPG (50452 bytes)  backviewwhole.JPG (54317 bytes)
feelsgood.JPG (57728 bytes)  swirlyskirt.JPG (59337 bytes) This fabric is very touchy-feely!  I'll get lots of cuddles from both husband and son in this! 

And I couldn't help twirling to play with the swirly skirt!


The next thing I did was the burnt orange shrug.  Again this was a Prima free pattern.  I do like their free patterns!  They are very well drafted, even though the shapes are simple.  I have very few problems with them fitting me or with the bits fitting together.  I've had Vogue patterns that were less well drafted than these!

Holes.JPG (112391 bytes)  patternlayout.JPG (80681 bytes)  contrast.JPG (149137 bytes) This was a remnant of fabric given by a friend.  It had a hole in it, a manufacturing fault.  Luckily when I laid out the pattern, there was plenty of fabric for avoiding the hole!  This fabric has a definite right and wrong side, being a poly/Lycra crepe knit.  This makes it VERY stretchy...
The stretch has implications for sewing: I already had ballpoint needles in the machine from the velour sewing, but with everything on the serger set to Normal, we got very wonky seams... seamsexperimental.JPG (136869 bytes)
tensionfix.JPG (92890 bytes)  footpressure.JPG (23592 bytes)  diifadjust.JPG (31190 bytes) This lead to adjustments in needle and looper tensions, in foot pressure, in differential feed, and in stitch length!
After experiments with all of them, I got a decent seam without too much wonkiness, and the edge neatening on the single layer (right picture) was excellent. notwonketseams.JPG (105833 bytes)  edgesorted.JPG (53635 bytes)
tensionsettings.JPG (62003 bytes)  othersettings.JPG (82113 bytes) Having set up the Bernina so well for the actual sewing, I was reluctant to alter the settings to do the edge finishing I wanted, as I'd then have to alter it all back again to do the side seams...  So out came the Brother serger, which I set up on the Lily bench, as it was easier to slip her cover over her and lift her down that it was to prize the Bernina off its little suction hooves!  Here you can see the tension, stitch length, and differential settings I used for a narrow over-edge finish on this stretch Lycra crepe.  I originally wanted a rolled edge, but experimenting with various snapped threads showed me that wasn't going to happen!
The settings gave me a perfect over-edge stitch, and with the maximum differential and stretching the fabric as I sewed, I produced the most darling little lettuce edge! stretchtysewing.JPG (121555 bytes)  overedge.JPG (82262 bytes)  lettucedge.JPG (83781 bytes)
model.JPG (158283 bytes) This Weekender's shrug I bought in the summer had the kind of finish I wanted for the top edge of my shrug, so I just copied it!
I used Wonder tape to help get the look I wanted: first I put just a wee dab right on the point, then all round the top edge.  To reduce bulk, and because the seams and the narrow edge were to be sewn over, I just snipped off the dangling threads rather than threading them up the stitches. shrugturning2.JPG (106969 bytes)  shrugturning1.JPG (171944 bytes)  shrugturning3.JPG (85365 bytes)


shrugturning4.JPG (102814 bytes)  shrugturning5.JPG (133346 bytes) Once folded over and stuck down, I used the double needle and the walking foot again, and it stitched beautifully.  The nice things about the Wonder Tape are  that it sticks firmly for the sewing, doesn't gum up the needle as you stitch, and washes out later, so the edge is soft...
Here it is all done!  I think I like it tied better than loose.  I do love the colour, and that little lettuce edge effect is fab!  Now I need to go and hunt for some more stretchy stuff to do this shrug again...

The last picture shows my cute little new brown shoes, bought to go with this velour kit!


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September 2007

I found the most wonderful chocolate brown needlecord print, with some very 70's style flowers, and a new skirt pattern, so that became the next chocolate fix!  This was made with lapped raw edge seams: a new departure for me, queen of Clean Finishing Everywhere!

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This fabric came from Dots & Stripes.  It's supposed to be a children's print, but why waste it on them?  

Another project in the chocolate theme is this one, from 2008:

Just occasionally...
Despite the customer projects stacking in holding flights round the cutting table, you just HAVE to do a little something for yourself...

The other day I needed to order some fabric.  Ok, look, there may be over 60 boxes of the damned stuff in the loft, but sometimes you just don't have what you need!  I've been on a fabric diet so long, and this bit was calling my name, so I got 3m.  It was on sale at The Remnant House, so pretty cheap!  Two of the other bits were for customer projects, and the 10m length of sheeting was for toiles.

So anyway...  It came today, by carrier, this afternoon.  By midnight, It was all done!  This is the fabric: 3m of viscose jersey with the pattern printed in turquoise.  It'll go with lots of things I already have.

I started by tracing off the pattern...  This is one that came free with Prima magazine a few months back, and the pattern has also been calling to me.  Dunno why!  Not the sort of thing I usually make (I tend to buy things like this rather than make them), but the pattern liked me, and the fabric said Make That!


Then I needed to lay the pattern out as economically as possible.  I only have 3m of the fabric, and there are several things I want to make!


Once it was all cut and stacked, I could turn my attention to the machines...

Bernie the Bernina Serger was given a new set of size 70 Jersey needles, and 4 cones of  120's poly serger thread.  Lily was set uo with similar thread on two smaller cops, and a 6mm twin needle for doing the hems.  These were the only bits sewn on the machine rather than the serger.


(Ooh!  Look what's showing behind Bernie!  My latest sewing machine acquisition - a fabulous little Elna Lotus Stella Air Electronic!  I'm addicted, and now have three different versions of the Lotus!)

Next came the putting together.  Sometimes you just have to give in and baste things!  After sewing the center back seam and folding it in half, I basted the tucks in position on the pointy bits (these end up in the armpits!), and then I basted the pointy bits to the side seams and armscye...


  (This seam goes accross the shoulders at the back... )


The front facing is neatened and folded to the inside, then back and front are basted together at the armscye...

The last lap was sewing the sleeves in and turning up the hems.  All done and ready for wearing the following day!
Back and front views...  I'll add photos of me in it if I can get some done later...


Sometimes it's comforting to do something simple, when everything else is too complicated to think about!

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