Cosy up…

Hot Fix sweater!

So I’ve made a lot of coats recently but what cold days, when the sun is shining, really need is a nice chunky sweater with a cosy neckline. something that can be thrown on over anything from dashing to the gym gear to school run jeans.  
I have also been seeing a fair bit of hot fix vinyl popping up on Instagram and then watching a bit on YouTube recently and really fancied having a play myself…… so the idea for the Hot Fix Sweater came about.  

I put together my shopping list: lovely snuggly fleecy back Jersey in this beautiful dusty pink, teamed with some sporty stretch mesh and Hot Fix Vinyl in black flock and rose gold glitter, obvs used Samantha Claridge’s fantastic thread match service too. Extra bits needed came from my workshop, black zip, black eyelets, black cord and cord stops all reclaimed or accumulated from charity shop finds and old pieces of clothing.   

My starting point for this make was a tried and tested raglan sweatshirt pattern, (McCall’s M6992 cut in a size 14). I now have 4 tops from this pattern, all with sleeve hack variations.   

I wanted four separate bands along the arms plus cuffs. Originally I envisaged having the black mesh as a single layer but with the difference in fabric weight I though it better to layer the mesh over the jersey sections I had cut out. The couple of centimetres lost by cutting and re-joining the sections was easily made up by cutting a slightly deeper cuff section.  

The thin neck band I replaced with a deep band about 14cm deep, leaving the right front arm seam open to about 2/3 of the way down to accommodate the zip I wanted to insert. I attached the neckband simply by cutting it slightly longer than needed then trimming to size once it was on.  

The hemline on the original pattern runs straight round but I quite fancied the idea of a stepped hem so I needed a facing for both front and back hems and these needed to go on before the side seams were sewn. I drafted a little sample to check the turning and how the top stitching and internal finish would turn out before extending the hemline at the back of the sweater to be 10cm lower than the front.  

One more thing to note about the construction of this sweater is that I actually went old school and did the whole thing on my sewing machine, zig zag 1.5/1.5 for the seams, overcasting 2.5/5.0 to neaten the edges, top stitching length 4.  

The reason for this is that my trusty overlocker has for some reason stopped slicing and started chewing anything thicker than a light cotton. ‘Change the blade’ I hear you cry…. Yup, I’ll do that just as soon as I can undo the screw that holds the blade on, it appears to have been welded into place circa 1745 when this overlocker was made!!! Then to find a replacement…. Hey ho, that’s a job for another day…… 

Anyhoo! I digress, back to this lovely sweater. So we have had a chat about what I did and the changes I made to the pattern, now let’s look at the how. 

I started by cutting out all the sweater pieces in the pink jersey, sleeves were cut out in full to be sectioned up later, neck band was cut out longer than needed to be sized up later. Originally I cut out the cuffs according to the pattern but when I decided to re-join the sectioned sleeves instead of inserting the mesh panels I cut a second set a little longer.  

 

I sectioned the sleeves by cutting through both sleeves at the same time (this ensured they were matched symmetrically), sectioning them into four by making three cuts. Working down from the neckline I made one slightly arced cut at roughly where the shoulder would be, another cut straight across about 14cm further down and the third cut was 14cm up from the cuff. I cut a sports mesh shape to match the 14cm sections, and overlayed them before re-joining the seams. I only used about a 0.5cm seam allowance when re-joining them so only lost 3cm from the sleeve length over all and added this back to the cuff to give the same final sleeve length. I top stitched each join to make sure the joins would lay nice and flat and were not too bouncy.  

Next I had a play with the hot fix vinyl. I knew I wanted to use the markings on my sewing machine as a loose reference so created arrows in black flock and lengthening ‘stitches’ in rose gold glitter.  

I worked out that it would be easiest to apply the hot fix vinyl while all pieces were still flat so that was the next job. Glittery stitches went on to the front and back of one sleeve running up from the cuff. An arrow was positioned on the opposite sleeve pointing out from the neckline toward the shoulder and two arrows were positioned pointing inward on the front waistline (I later added a gold glitter section to the end of the waist arrows once the side seams were sewn) 

Once all the vinyl details were in place the sleeves were held in place with clips then sewn together. For this kind of bouncy fabric I find clips a little better to hold the layers together. 

Before the side seams were sewn I went back to my hem sample and attached the front and back hem facings.

Then the side seams running right from cuff to hem were brought together.  

I attached the neck band around the neckline, the zip was next inserted into the front sleeve seam and topstitched into place. Before folding in the top of the neck line (by a nice chunky 4cm) I hammered in an eyelet at each side of the zip top, I popped a small square of jersey attached with fabric glue to stabilise and thicken the area behind where the eyelets were going in. This worked well and they are still in place. I finally top stitched the neck band and folded in and topstitched the hem facings before giving them all a good press. 

I am so chuffed with the overall look of this sweater and can see it being worn constantly this winter, I’ll also be thinking about more projects with hot fix vinyl as now I’ve seen how easy it is I’d love to flex my wings a bit with more complex shapes, lettering and layering…… 

Gingham dreams!

Vintage style ruffle dress project...

 
I have been dreaming of giant gingham for a long time. I’m not sure what started it but I thought it would be a super cute dress when I found the perfect fabric. When I saw this fabric on Samantha Claridge online I knew it was for me, but I NEVER sew dull fabrics especially not black fabrics! After I wrestled with myself a little while I settle on the black and white gingham because I thought I could spice it up a bit with the pattern I used.

I planned on making the Jennifer Lauren handmade Mayberry dress so thought I would use awesome big buttons, but when the fabric arrived I knew I had to reconsider. The fabric arrived with a much thicker texture than I was expecting. It’s got a lovely linen feel to it but with a bit most structure, and less wrinkles too! I thought I would find a dress with a big full skirt and make something really vintage but with the checks being directional I wasn’t sure how that would make my shape look.

Then I saw the Alice & co free pattern in partnership with the V&A. It’s a pattern based on one of Mary Quants dresses to celebrate the exhibition on at the moment at the V&A. The fabric was perfect for the ruffles making them stand up around the neck and fluff out at the elbows, so I made a decision!

This project has almost turned into a zero waste one too! I cut out all my pieces and realised I didn’t have enough fabric to make the skirt three times the width so only made it twice. The only fabric I had left was a small section big enough for pockets, maybe on this dress in the future!

 

The checks made making the pleats super easy as I just used the squares as reference folding the over neatly. I’ve never pleated so much before, and the instructions tell you how to use a form to measure your pleats, which sounded terrifying so I was glad I had the squares already there to use. I had to top stitch the sleeve ruffles down as they were so fluffy they were flouncing in the wrong direction but I think that says more about my elbows than the fabric..! ha!

This fabric is super easy to wash and wear too as I was worried the linen feel would leave it wrinkly. Luckily I washed it and just hug it to dry and didn’t have to do any more to it. The pleats stayed lovely and the bodice didn’t crease so it’s perfect for perhaps packing in a bag or wearing all day and still looking smart at the end of the day!

 

I recently wore this dress to our new nephews christening, and I got lots of compliments. The wrap over front is very flattering on me and the smallest part of the waist hits me just at the right point. I didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern and just made it as it was which was perfect for me. It has a fully lines bodice too, which made it feel even fancier, but helped it come together surprisingly easily!

 

Whilst this dress isn’t the vintage era I’d normally gravitate towards (normally 40’s and 50’s) I think it was a perfect pairing to this fabric and made me a lovely outfit for the christening which I can now wear again and again to the office and know I’ll be smart and comfy!