Uncategorized

Moving Home

Not me, but my blog. Shortly after I created this I discovered that there is software called “Fittingly Sew” and I have been uneasy about the title ever since in case of copyright issues. But apathy & a lack of imagination meant I couldn’t come up with a new name until inspiration finally struck recently.

Please visit my new blog Fabric Engineering where you’ll find all my previous content and if you check out the “About Me” page you’ll find out why I settled on that title.

Uncategorized

Sew Over It Shirt Class Review

I was going through draft blog posts & came across this, which I started a very long time ago. It’s a review of the Sew Over It Intro to Sewing Shirts: Ultimate Shirt & Hackney Shirt, which came with patterns for the Hackney (for men) and the Ultimate (for women). I was not paid to write this review, I paid for the class myself.

There are separate classes for the men’s and women’s shirts. This review refers to the Hackney shirt lessons as that’s what I made first, and that’s all I’ve watched so far. My comments may not apply to the Ultimate Shirt lessons. Although I’ve done a lot of sewing for myself I had never made a shirt before so I thought this would be good for a complete shirt-making novice.

General observations: I got really fed up of of being called “guys” all the way through. Each lesson is very, very short.

In some sections there isn’t enough detail – e.g “press it over to this side” without explaining what “this side” is. Sometimes it doesn’t matter that you don’t know what “this” is, but sometimes it really does! Sometimes you can work out what “this” is by watching, and re-watching (multiple times), the video clip but sometimes you can’t.

In other sections it explains the detail but not the big picture: e.g. which sleeve placket goes with which sleeve? Which way up do you put them together? It isn’t explained and you have to watch very closely as there’s one shot of it on screen for a few seconds so you could easily miss it. The PDF booklet doesn’t really fill in the gaps either. I read a review by someone else who said you only need the booklet or the videos & I suspect that’s probably true. I referred to Google far more than I feel I should have done, just to fill in the gaps.

The instructions say 1.5 cm seam allowance “unless otherwise stated”. But stated where? On the pattern pieces? In the booklet? Note to self for future reference: collar/neckline/collar stand/cuffs all 1 cm.

When setting the sleeve in, she explains it with both sleeve & body of shirt facing up, then when she sets it in I believe she turns the sleeve the other way up – so if you’re not watching really carefully you could get it wrong.

I had never done flat fell seams before & I thought the method for the armscye was over-complicated but I subsequently found that it’s the way Peter Lappin does it, although he does not trim down the neckline edge after folding over the top of the sleeve. Peter Lappin is a true guru for making shirts & his blog is an entertaining read, too! I only discovered him after I’d bought this class.

In summary: do I think this class is good for a complete novice to shirt-making? Sadly, no, at least not for the Hackney shirt. Perhaps if you start with the Ultimate Shirt your mileage may vary, as they say? Do I think this was good value for money? Despite an overall quite negative review, I bought the class when it was discounted so when you take into account the fact that it included 2 patterns then yes, I do feel it was. I did learn from it, just not enough to complete the shirt from this class alone.

I’m obviously no expert on shirts but I feel the Hackney pattern is well drafted & will be a good basis for ‘tweaking’. I don’t know if the same could be said of the Ultimate as I haven’t even printed that out yet.

I did eventually make a shirt for my son with this class but had measured incorrectly & it was too short! Not the fault of the class of course . . . . but I thought it might explain the lack of pictures to accompany this review!

Note: The class has moved to Sew Over It’s Stitch School since I bought it. Just a different format, no change to class content (as you would expect) & at time of publishing this post it is £30.

Self-drafted · Top

Lockdown Learning – Princess Seam Blouse

The lockdown continues in the UK so I’m using the extra free time (after I’ve finished work, of course) to tackle some longstanding projects. This self-drafted blouse was started several months ago & was originally going to be for work. Since I began the process, work now provides me with a uniform so it’s no longer required! But as with many of my sewing projects, I decided to continue but to treat it as a learning experience.

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I had problems with the original collar I had planned so I had to improvise with the collar you see above. It’s not perfect but it will do! The blouse pattern was drafted from my basic Sure-Fit Designs bodice block following the princess seam lessons created by Glenda. I’ve never sewn princess seams before and was surprised to find that I got a better finish on my overlocker than my regular sewing machine.

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The fabric came from the bargain bin at Abakhan but the quality is good and it’s perfect for its intended purpose. The buttons (from Textile Garden) probably cost more than the fabric! That’s not to say the buttons were expensive, just that the fabric was very cheap. I would definitely purchase from Textile Garden again as the choice, price & delivery were all good. (And no, I haven’t been paid to say that).

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The sleeve detail (shown above before I sewed the button on) was inspired by something I saw on the internet and has worked out okay, although I’d probably make the sleeves slightly longer next time, as they’re a bit tight when I bend my elbows. I’d also make the blouse a little more fitted by increasing the shaping on both front & back princess seams.

But overall I’d rate this a success as I’ve already worn it and will definitely wear it again.

Men's

Review: Rogue River Joggers

This is an independent review of the Rogue River Joggers by Toby K Patterns. I paid for the pattern myself & Toby K Patterns did not ask me to write this review.

Several months ago I purchased the very reasonably-priced Rogue River Joggers pattern by Toby K Patterns; it seemed very versatile with lots of options. My 20 year old son loved the knee patches and their general style. I decided to buy some cheap sweatshirt fabric to make a test pair in his size without making any alterations.

I bought the fabric from Abakhan a couple of months ago and made an enthusiastic start, then other projects got in the way until lockdown was declared in the UK last Monday evening. I’m still working full time, albeit from home now, but the current restrictions meant a lot more time on my hands this weekend so no more excuses!

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As you can see above, the experiment was a success! They’re not perfect but that’s the fault of the maker, not the pattern. I found the instructions to be very thorough although there are so many options that I did sometimes get confused over the terminology, particularly when it came to the different types of waistbands (again, my fault). I had intended to make slat pockets but realised they would only work with certain types of waistbands so had to change to inseam pockets.

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My son loves the joggers, despite the fact that I (ahem) stitched one of the knee patches in the wrong direction. In fact that quirkiness is one of the things he loves most about them! The joggers are true to size, both in width & length. For him, I feel the lower legs need shortening & the upper leg needs lengthening so the knee patches would land in the right place. There are markings on the pattern for adjusting both the lower & upper leg, but my son is happy with them as they are. Here’s a blurry photo of the back view:

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Would I make them again? Yes, absolutely, although I would be more careful to mark the direction of the knee pieces next time. I would also make a better job of the waistband but in my defence, I had to make do with my 35 year old Toyota sewing machine (which doesn’t have a lightning stitch) to roughly put the pattern pieces together before overlocking. Sadly, I sent my Janome away for repair a couple of weeks ago & it will now be away for several weeks due to the current restrictions, but that’s a trivial problem compared to what else is going on in the world right now.

Self-drafted · Skirt

It’s a Wrap!

No prizes for the world’s most unoriginal title! This wrap skirt has been a few weeks in the making, and several times I thought it was going to end up in the bin. The pattern was self-drafted from my Sure-Fit Designs skirt block, inspired by the Arielle skirt by Tilly and the Buttons. Since making my first block about a year ago I feel as though I’ve been on a voyage of self-discovery: I now have a better understanding of what suits me, and I knew that the high waist of the TATB skirt would not only look wrong on me, I would find it very uncomfortable.

The fabric (being a bargain at £5 for 1.5 metres from Abakhan) was quite see-through so it needed lining, which I’ve never done before. This was where I almost came unstuck as I had absolutely no idea how to go about drafting the pattern for it. I muddled through and although the wrap ended up on my right instead of the left as intended (don’t ask me how, I’ve no clue), I’m really pleased with the finished result.

The basic pattern was very easy to draft but I was gutted to find out (after I had congratulated myself on fitting the lining!) that the skirt had too much ease both at waist and hips. A rookie mistake which left me defeated for a while until a few days ago, when inspiration finally struck! My trusty Singer overlocker came to the rescue. I felt I had nothing to lose as I opened up the skirt and overlocked all the way from the hem, through the waist and along the lining seam to the lining hem.

It worked perfectly and all that was left was for me to hem the skirt and lining. I hand-stitched the hem then neatened the edge of the lining with my overlocker before finishing it on my sewing machine. Done! A very wearable everyday skirt which I will definitely remake in a thicker fabric.

Overlocker

Lidl Overlocker (Singer 14-78) – One Year On

This blog has now moved, please find this post here.

My posts on the Singer overlocker sold at Lidl are by far my most popular blog posts, so I thought I’d do a very quick update now I’ve had the machine for over a year.

I’ve been having problems with it the last few weeks, the needle tension has been very loose no matter what setting it was on and it has meant that some seams have had to be stitched on my regular sewing machine even after overlocking. No amount of rethreading made any difference so I trawled the internet for anyone with similar issues and have found a couple of YouTubers with very useful videos.

The first is Abi’s Den. This lady has several videos on troubleshooting overlockers, and in some of her easy overlocker project tutorials she uses the Singer overlocker. She has a very clear way of explaining things so definitely worth a look.

However, the video which solved my tension issues was this one which explained a different way of threading the needles, by lifting the presser foot and reducing the tension to 0. I followed this method and voila! My overlocker is now working perfectly again.

I also contacted Singer for advice. They responded within a working day or so, which I think is excellent, and sent me several information sheets about how to check that the machine is threaded correctly etc. They also asked me about whether I still had the original packaging, receipt etc so I’m hopeful they would have honoured the warranty but thankfully I won’t have to test that now!

Dress · Self-drafted

Feeling Blue

This dress has been a long time in the planning and making, but as soon as I purchased the fabric I knew what I wanted to make with it. It’s based on my Sure-Fit Designs dress block and a pattern in the Alice Prier book “Pattern Making Templates for Skirts and Dresses”. I added pockets, of course. The original design didn’t include those but well, you just have to, don’t you?

Apart from the straps, which proved to be the most complicated part of the project and took me several attempts, this was a pretty straightforward sew. One thing I forgot is that my SFD dress block has ease but with a dress like this, there is no ease at all, particularly in the top half. So my overlocker came in very handy to take in the sides and improve the fit.

I first started this way back in June, but then in mid-July life got in the way, as it often does. I was originally planning to wear it for my goddaughter’s 21st birthday party but that’s long gone! It’s unlikely to be worn for real until next summer although the unseasonably lovely weather at the moment means it may just have its inaugural outing over the next few days.

Review

Singer 14-78 Overlocker – 5 months on

My blog has now moved, please find this post here.

Five months have passed since I bought my Singer 14-78 overlocker at Lidl and wrote my original review. A recent comment asked what I thought of its ability to do rolled seams and the differential feed but as I had only ever used the 4 thread overlock stitch, I couldn’t answer the question. I decided it was time I wrote an additional review now I’ve used it more.

In short, I still don’t regret buying it. It can be a little temperamental at times but then I’m sure most overlockers in this price range would be the same (are there any others which are so reasonably priced?)

Its major foible is that I cannot re-thread it by attaching new threads to the existing ones, it must be re-threaded from scratch every time, otherwise it just makes a mess of stitching. It also must be threaded in exactly the order described in the book. Now, I understand why that’s the case for the loopers, but how does it know that I’ve re-threaded the needles in the wrong order? Really, though, that’s no big deal and I’m getting used to re-threading it, referring to the book if I need to.

3 thread narrow edge

Anyway, back to the question from Georgia: I still haven’t played about with the differential feed but I have tested 2 more stitches,: the 3-thread rolled edge and the  3-thread narrow edge, and the results of the latter you can see above.

The 3-thread rolled edge didn’t work nearly as well. I didn’t have any fine, silky fabric to test it on and I think I would have needed to spend a lot more time playing with the tension settings to make it work on this very stretchy knit. But, as you can see, the 3-thread narrow edge worked really well. To set it up I used the standard settings as described in the excellent book which comes with the machine:

The key to the settings above is shown below:

Over the last few months I have referred to the manual many times and I’m still as impressed with it as when I first bought it. You can see from the pictures above that it’s very clear and concise. It’s all in black & white but that doesn’t detract from its usefulness.

Would I still recommend the Singer S14-78? Yes, absolutely.

Self-drafted · Top

Not a Sorbetto!

Front of blouse

Before I discovered Sure-Fit Designs, I decided to try out the free Colette Sorbetto pattern to try to build my skills. Cutting a VERY long story short: it was awful! It became clear half way through making it that it was huge. It would have made a lovely maternity top, but my days of needing such a thing are long gone! Having read (too late, of course!) other bloggers’ reviews it’s clear I’m not the only one with this issue.  I tried various ways to rescue it but ultimately decided that it was never going to work.

So I was left with fabric cut to shape which I didn’t want to waste and I eventually decided that I would use my SFD sleeveless bodice blueprint (sloper) to draft a “wearable muslin” top. This was a bit of a gamble as I hadn’t even drafted my sleeveless blueprint at this point! Another first was the addition of buttonholes, which I hadn’t been brave enough to try since buying my new sewing machine a year ago, but the way the fabric for the front Sorbetto bodice had been cut left me with no option.

Front view of blouse

As you can see, the result was the complete opposite of the Sorbetto! The only change required to my pattern was that of lowering the top of the underarm seam by 1 cm, and redrafting the lower third of the armscye to match. The rest of the fit is exactly as I wanted it to be, and I’m so pleased that I now have a basic blouse pattern that I can adapt. Having just signed up for SFD’s “design a blouse” series of tutorials I’ve got lots of ideas!

ETA: After wearing it for a day I decided I wanted the back to be more fitted, so I modified the darts to make them bigger and longer from the waist up. Much better!

Montage of photos

Review

Review: Lidl Overlocker – Singer S14-78

My blog has now moved, please find this post here.

Firstly, I will state that Lidl has not asked me to do a review, nor did they supply a product for me to test. I paid £139 for my overlocker at my local Lidl, and as it’s what the shopping channels would call a “considered purchase” I looked around for reviews before I bought it but couldn’t find any. This post will, I hope, help people who are dithering about whether or not to purchase if it comes on sale again.

Picture of overlocker

The weekly Lidl email had alerted me that this overlocker was going to become available, so I made sure I needed to call in to buy coffee a few days after the overlockers went on sale! The lack of reviews troubled me, but the very kind assistant in my local Lidl opened one of the boxes for me and it didn’t take me long to decide I was going to take a chance. At £150 less than the model I had been planning to buy, but with all the same features, I decided it was worth the gamble. Read on to find out if I feel it’s paid off!

What features does it have?

12 stitch types

4-thread overlock, 3-thread overlock (wide & narrow), 3-thread narrow edge, 3-thread flatlock (wide & narrow), 3-thread rolled edge, 2-thread overedge (wide & narrow), 2-thread wrapped overlock (wide & narrow), 2-thread rolled edge.

So far, I’ve only used the 4-thread overlock; it stitched perfectly.

Colour coded threading

Here is a picture showing the inside of the machine & the illustration of how to thread it. There are also good instructions in  the manual.

Threading picture

One of the loopers did become unthreaded once, I still don’t know why, but I followed the instructions to re-thread it & it really wasn’t as scary as I’d thought it would be! I remembered general overlocker advice I’d read, which said that you should thread it in the order recommended by the manufacturer to ensure it works properly. I did exactly that, and the machine has been fine ever since.

Built in rolled hem

I haven’t tested this yet, I might make that the subject of another post at some point. There is a switch setting for this next to the needle plate, which can be seen in the picture of the cutting width lever below, just above the red box. There are also good instructions in the book.

Free arm

The free arm is a really useful feature in my opinion. Here’s a picture of the machine showing the free arm in all its glory:

Free arm

Adjustable cutting width

The ability to adjust the cut was one of the features I felt was an absolute must for my overlocker. But have I used it? No! Anyway, this picture shows the slider which adjusts the cutting width:

Overlock cutting width

And here is the machine set to the the 2 extremes of the settings, it’s hard to explain how it works but I hope the following photos will help. The top picture shows it set to the narrowest cutting width, the bottom with it set to 7mm cutting width:

montage showing 2 cutting widths

The stitch width settings are well explained in the manual.

Differential feed

This allows the two sets of feed teeth to be adjusted for different weights of fabric. The manual does explain this in more detail, with suggested settings for different types of fabrics. I haven’t adjusted this at all so far.

You can also adjust the pressure foot pressure to suit the type of fabric you’re cutting (less for lightweight fabrics, more for heavier fabrics).

Ability to overlock without cutting

The upper cutter can be turned off by a switch on the left side of the machine, shown here at the bottom centre of the picture:

Side view

What else is included in the box?

The machine comes with a very good manual. Also included are a pack of extra needles, a screwdriver, tweezers, an Allen key for changing needles, a 2-thread overlock converter and the foot pedal.

What is not included?

It does not come with any kind of cover, or anything to catch the material which has been cut off.

It only comes with a very small amount of thread, but Lidl sell that too at reasonable prices.

The Verdict

Overall I am very happy with my overlocker, and have used it to make a basic t-shirt – my first foray into knit garments! It has features that I didn’t expect to find on a supermarket machine, such as the adjustable cutting width. The manual is very good: clear, concise explanations with line drawings, & tables showing the recommended settings.

The only problem I’ve found so far is that the machine lacks markings on the needle plate to show where to line up the fabric and ensure you don’t cut off more than you planned. This isn’t the first overlocker I’ve used to lack this, though, it isn’t always available on more expensive models either. I’ve used a red marker pen on the presser foot to show where the left needle will stitch, but on taking the photos I realised this has already faded so I will have to come up with another solution.

I was concerned that, as it’s at the very cheap end of the spectrum, the machine would be very noisy. It’s not quiet, but it’s not as noisy as I feared, and I think to buy a quieter overlocker would require a lot more expense. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather buy fabric!

6th April 2019 – Edited to add: my verdict on this machine 5 months on is available here.