Saturday, 20 May 2017

Sewing for friends x2

Most of my sewing recently has been for me but this week there were two alteration projects that I had promised for other people. It is nice to have new clothes but it is also nice to bless other people with our skills, so here are the two challenges. They are both things I have tried for the first time.

A T-shirt alteration for my youngest son

Last Summer my brother took his motorbike on a holiday/expedition to Iceland. He has been before when he took my sister with him to the arctic circle. In my view, he should be old enough to know better, but he enjoys the challenge. He very kindly bought a T-shirt back as a present for his youngest nephew. Either the children in Iceland are truly enormous or the sizing was wrong because this shirt was an ideal fit for me but on my son it looked like a dress - not a popular style amongst 8 year old boys.

Since finding the over-lock stitch on my sewing machine my confidence sewing jersey fabrics has increased a lot. I thought I would have a go at making a smaller T-shirt. After all if youngest son was going to wait to grow into this shirt he would have to wait a long time...

First of all I chose a t-shirt that fitted well with some growing room. As luck would have it this was a gift from his aunty in Australia. I laid the orange Australian T-shirt on top of the black Icelandic one to compare the fit.

The neck was too large but to unpick the ribbing seemed too much for my current skill level and also not really worth the time. Instead I cut out a back and front from the large shirt leaving the binding on at the neck. I have ended up with side seams in the binding but the fabric is soft and this doesn't seem to be a problem when it is on.

Then I cut sleeves using the orange T-shirt sleeves as a guide for the size. I kept the original hems to save work later.

I ended up with 4 pieces to sew together - One front with neck binding, one back with neck binding and 2 sleeves already hemmed.

First I over-locked the shoulder seams starting at the neck edge to be sure that the rib sections would line up well.

Next I sewed in the sleeves still using the over-lock stitch.

I ran one long seam down the sleeves and side seam all in one and again I started at the sleeve end to make sure that the hems would be even all around the sleeve.

Last of all I used a twin needle to hem the bottom of the shirt.

By making something from a ready to wear garment I learnt a few things. RTW is not necessarily well made. This T-shirt was cut across the grain and would have twisted badly in the wash, It is a bit better now. Worst of all the logo wasn't printed in the centre. This is more noticeable now that I have made the shirt smaller, but I think it is hard to see while the shirt is being worn and is moving about.

Ta-da! A lovely new t-shirt that fits well and one very pleased son

If anyone from Iceland reads this perhaps you could let me know whether your children are really so big and strong. I have heard that the climate is bracing, the air is fresh and the food is healthy.

Helping a work colleague by sharing our skills

Leicester is the most multi-cultural city in the UK and also has a proud textiles tradition. This is great if you like fabrics and offers lots of opportunities to learn about how different cultures make and construct their clothes. Just such an opportunity came up when my colleague Sheila asked me if I knew how to set in sleeves. It seems that when you buy a Salwar Kameez or Punjabi Suit it often comes with a sleeveless tunic and optional sleeves already cut out and ready to sew. You can choose whether to have the sleeves added and may have to pay a seamstress to add these if you don't have the skills yourself.
Sheila had bought a new tunic with optional short sleeves. It was quite easy to make up the sleeves and sew them in, but there were no markings or instructions to follow so unless you had sewn sleeves before it would seem daunting.
Unfortunately I didn't think to take any photographs of the dress before I attached the sleeves. The black piping was already sewn in place so I constructed the sleeves, ran an easing stitch along the top edge, tacked the sleeves in place and then stitched in the ditch beside the piping to sew them in from the right side. I removed the top stitching, neatened all of the layers of the armhole seams and last of all put the top stitching back. I was really pleased with how neatly everything came together.

The beading and embroidery on this top is beautiful.

The tunic had a very interesting hemline. This photo is a bit blurred but it does show the dipped hem with its wavy edge.

The skirt is cut on the bias and the hem is finished with a serger over the top of a nylon line, rather like course fishing line. A small piece was sticking out at the join which would need cutting off but made it easy to see how the hem had been constructed. The wave in the hem is created by pulling the fabric as it is hemmed.

I haven't made anything for myself this week but I have been able to use my sewing skills for others and both Shelia and my son were very pleased with what I made for them. I have learnt more about how our clothes are made and increased my skills. Since I started my blog I have sewn more regularly and tried new things and I am sure that all this practice is making me better and more accurate in my sewing and more than anything I am having fun.


  1. It really is nice to share your skills with others. A great collection of projects that have made others smile.