BACK IN BLACK

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For this week’s make I revisited the Ralph Pink Saraha shirt (previously here). I really like this pattern, the style is appealing and the construction is quite pleasing, but there were a few things from my first attempt that I wasn’t quite happy with, and I really wanted to be happy!  

Firstly, I chose to make an XS, one size smaller than the first try, and I shortened the length by 10cm to better suit my height.  I also decided to try out the full collar option this time, mainly because I bought a Prym corner and edge shaper that needed testing, but also because I love to wear a buttoned up collar yet so far I've always just made the collar stand!

I wanted to make this shirt in a black lawn weight cotton, but the only thing available in my local fabric shop seemed pretty rough and low quality so I opted for a poplin again which was much softer although stiffer than I would have preferred. I knew I wanted to have a plain fabric so that I could have contrasting buttons and top-stitching, and I had already found the most prefect pink and black buttons for this!

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Since I had made this pattern before I had no concerns about how it went together, and so I could relax and really try to pay attention to making the top-stitching as neat as possible. There are still a few wobbles here and there, but I really think I’m improving!

And because I made a size smaller than before I didn’t need to take in the sides at all, so the side seams at the front and back yoke look pretty darn neat all lined up!

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I read somewhere that a good technique for hemming is to straight stitch two lines around the fabric edge at intervals where you would turn the hem up, so I thought I would give this a try. It actually worked quite well as a guide, and it’s probably the neatest curved hem I’ve achieved so far.

I also think I might be getting the hang of fitting a collar stand to a neck line; those opposite curves can be a beast to sew and I usually find at least one little tuck in the neckline where the fabric has gotten caught under the presser foot. Pinning is probably my least favourite part of the sewing process, but I have to admit defeat on this one as without many (many, many, many) pins the collar would probably not look so good! Maybe part of the problem was that I would usually pin a collar stand horizontally, however it occurred to me that the most effective way would be to pin vertically. This way the pins work with the curve rather than against it, and you can fit more pins in to really hold it in place. I don't know why this took me so long to realise, but I'm glad I finally did.

I know it’s a controversial topic, but I must confess I do use a seam ripper to open up my button holes. It’s really quite a satisfying task. I find that if I insert a pin at the top and bottom edges of the button hole the seam ripper wont slip and rip too far. That doesn’t mean that I don’t hold my breath every time – although I have never ripped the side stitching on the button hole yet, there’s still a chance it’ll happen one day! (I have Google on stand-by to search how to hand stitch a button hole, just in case...)

And thanks to the recommendation of the Love To Sew podcast girls, I bought some fray check to test out on the button hole edges...fingers crossed it works!

K