The denim shirt is now finished after two final very frustrating evenings of sewing.
Firstly I had topstitching issues, it took ages to thread the needle and when I finally started sewing threads would get tangled up on the back. I even managed to run out of thread. I was sure I’d have enough to stitch the whole seam. Luckily I had bought 3 reels.
I gave up on the idea of flat felling the underarm and side seams. There was too much fraying going on. In the end I trimmed one side of the seam allowance down, folded over the other side, stitched in the seam allowance and then pressed to one side and topstitched.
Seam allowance trimmed with one side folded over and stitched down
Seam allowance pressed to one side and topstitched, shown from the inside
When I was packing up at the end of the evening I realised I had been using a no.11 topstitch needle rather than the 14. I think this was the problem with getting the thread through the eye as when I did use the 14 threading was fine. I was just wasting loads of thread with having to snip off a few centimetres each time it untwisted with a failed attempt of thread and then all the unpicking… with only 30mts on a reel it just seams to disappear.
The second evening of frustrating sewing was due to the button holes. The night before I had added them to the pocket flaps and they were perfect first time. Now the 1 step button hole on my machine would only stitch one side of the button hole. After about 45 minutes and numerous attempts it started working again. But the stitching of every single one was stressful as I was expecting the machine to play up. Also sewing on the 13 buttons seemed to take an age.
Now it is finished I LOVE it. I want to wear it every day. I’m happy with the fabric, the buttons, the topstitching and the fit.
I didn’t make any adjustments to the fit except that I had to trim the length of the sleeve down by 2.5cm and I reduced the depth of the cuff by 1cm. Because my bottom edge of the sleeve was now wider I had to increase the size of the pleats so that wasn’t too big for the cuff. Also I lost 2.5cm in the length of the cuff placket and with a narrower cuff only used 1 button rather than 2. So if I make this pattern again I’ll take the length out of the sleeve pattern before I cut the fabric out.
I saw this shirt below in the Sunday Times Style magazine, ( I scanned it and now I can’t even read who it is by….) Checked / Plaid shirts are everywhere at the moment, I do have Boden one which after 3 years and a lot of wear is beginning to go at the seams so I think this will be a new year project using this pattern.
I’m making good progress with the denim shirt. So far the topstitching has been a success. It definitely pays to do a bit of research rather than just jumping in and wondering why it’s not working properly.
Of all the topstitching tips from ‘yes I like that’ the ones that stuck in my mind were:-
Use a proper topstitching needle
Use standard sewing thread in the bobbin
Use the hand wheel where necessary
It took a while to get the tension right. The top thread was showing on the bottom. Normally I have the tension wheel at 4 (on a scale of 1-8). So I started at 4 and stitched a sample moving up half a number at a time until the tension was perfect at just over 7. I had the foresight to make a note of this and the stitch size that I was using.
I started with the back yoke seam, I had stitched ¾ of the way when the needle jammed and bent. Luckily there 5 needles in the pack, two size 11 and 3 size 14. I had started with size 11 so I replaced with a size 14 and unpicked and stitched again. Second time it was fine.
The only tricky bit was the collar points. I unpicked the first attempt then I used the hand wheel to slowly go into the point, same with the curved shaping at the front edges of the collar stand. It’s also a good tip to use the hand wheel when sewing over thicker areas like the seam allowance of the back yoke when top stitching the sleeve head. You can go as slow as you like and have a bit more control.
I haven’t put the pocket flaps on yet as they need a buttonhole. The shirt needs 15 in total and I plan to stitch them all in one go.
After the first post I was asked about getting the pockets such a good shape. To make sure I folded and pressed under exactly 1.5cm seam allowance I stitched a line and used this line as a guide. With the fabric being 100% cotton it presses well. To get a good point when bagging out the pocket flaps and the collar I followed the advice of when stitching into a point, take a stitch ACROSS the point, don’t just stitch into the point then out again. It must have worked as I am happy with the way the points are looking.
Next step is the underarm / side seams which I’m planning to flat fell from cuff to body hem in one go. I’m a bit unsure of how this is going to work out with the narrowness of the sleeve and the curve of the waist shaping but I think it can be done.
I’ve been thinking about a denim shirt since the beginning of the year and it’s taken me till November to get around to it.
All pieces waiting for top stitching
I found the lightweight denim at Ditto Fabrics, I was able to get a swatch first just to check it was the right weight for a shirt. The fabric was described as being ‘distressed’ but when it arrived some areas were a bit more distressed than others. There are some quite prominent lines but I’ve been able to cut these near the sleeve seams.
The pattern is Burda Style 7136. It’s styled more as a dress shirt but it had all the features I wanted. Slim fitting, back yoke, darts & chest pockets. I’m putting on two chest pockets and adding flaps. Pearl snaps seem to be the in thing at the moment on denim shirts. I’ve had a look on-line and I could have got some but then I needed a tool to apply as well so I found some buttons on Ebay, £5 for 20 inc P&P, which give a similar appearance which give the added bonus that when pearl buttons on denim shirts go out of fashion I could change them (like I’d ever bother…)
Tacked sleeve placket along with pocket and flap. The ‘distressed’ line looks more prominent in the photo than real life.
When I was transferring the pattern markings I used yellow wax paper. This stuff is great. It doesn’t seem to be available in the UK so I ordered from A Fashionable Stitch in the US. You use it with a serrated edge tracing wheel (not the spiked) and it leaves a perfect mark, but obviously not suitable for all fabrics.
Clover serrated tracing wheel and wax paper
bust dart marked using the wax tracing paper
Sewing is on hold at the moment as I need to buy some topstitching threads which I should be able to do tomorrow. I recently read a great post on topstitching by Yes I like That, 20 tips and before I start I’ll be re-reading all of them.
There was a comment on pattern for the first pair of socks I made ‘WARNING sock knitting is highly addictive’. I think it’s true. I feel like I know how to improve on the first pair and want to prove to myself the next pair will be better. I’ve knitted a pair for my other half using the same yarn from Love Knitting, 75% wool, 25% nylon 4 ply sock yarn but in a different colour. I love the way the stripes knitted up.
The pattern was free download from Ravelry, Rams Wool Basic Socks I picked it mainly because it was simple and sized for men.
I think when it comes to socks staying up rib is the way to go. So the leg and instep are knitted in 2 x 2 rib, which gives quite a skinny looking sock but compared to stocking stitch has much more stretch. The heel, toe and under foot are stocking stitch, actually the heel was a repeat of *k1 slip1* which in itself gives a bit of a rib appearance. There is probably a good reason for this; I think it makes the heel thicker in an area that gets a lot of wear.
I feel like I am getting the hang of grafting the toe ends together, no knobbly bits this time around.
(these have been worn, hence the bits of sawdust attached to the bottom of the foot)
What I really loved about this pattern was the instructions on how to split the stitches between your 3 needles. This is probably basic stuff for a seasoned sock knitter but for me it was a light bulb moment. On my first pair of socks I just divided the stitches evenly between the 3 needles and had to use fiddly stitch markers. This pattern explained to have half the number of stitches on 1 needle and the other half split equally between the other two needles.
So in this case I had 72 stiches
Needle 1 – 36stitches
Needle 2 – 18 stitches
Needle 3 – 18 stitches
This remains constant throughout the sock (except when the amounts increase and decrease when you are turning the heel). When you are knitting the ankle the 36 stitches are the back of sock and extend down to the heel. When you are knitting the foot the stitches get shuffled around and the needle with 36 stitches forms the instep.
The first pair I knitted for myself now look a bit basic in comparison, so I’m starting another pair for myself in rib with a bit of cable thrown in.