Hi Sewists!

You may or may not have noticed that my blog schedule has become somewhat… erratic lately. It’s been almost a month since my last post! Apologies. I haven’t had any time to make anything since I got back from holiday, so I haven’t really had anything to blog about!

But I’m here now with a double hit!

Now let me tell you about this great paper – Josie from Song Of The Sewing Machine had mentioned it in a blog post and I made a mental note to try it out next time I needed pattern paper.

I’ve previously used Swedish Tracing Paper (probable favourite but also most expensive) and a big roll of actual Tracing Paper (a better price but stiffer to work with & bulky to store). This stuff is Spiders Web Florists Wrap – I found it on amazon, it behaves much more like Swedish tracing paper but works out more economically. I should note that it is narrower than other papers (this one’s 60 cm) so a creative layout is sometimes needed to avoid wastage.

Anyhow, I’ve been meaning to try out the Freesewing.org Simon Shirt for some time now… I finally got around to printing out the (nearly 50) sheets, and spent 2 hours trimming and taping them together, then tracing them out on my new spiderweb paper. I started tracing with a pencil, but that didn’t cut it… actually it did cut it – right through the paper. Next I used a regular felt tip pen (orange); I found the ink sat on the paper for a while before it dried and I got a lot of it on my hands. The paper seemed to soak up a lot of ink too and my old orange pen dried up before I reached the end. Finally, I reached for the trusted Sharpie*; this was perfect and will be my ‘go-to’ in the future. Just keep the nib moving and don’t press to hard; that way you’ll avoid making the lines too thick, or bleeding through – you’ll still get it on your hands if you have to add seam allowance though…!

(It’s a terrible waste of paper, tracing it out, when I could simply cut out the A4 original – but I hate taped patterns; awkward to use and bulky to store. I have untaped the original pieces and am using the paper as a notepad: I get through a lot doing my tap choreography!)

I found this stuff pretty easy to sew together – I used my longest stitch length (5mm) and no backstitching. It didn’t take much more than 10 minutes to sew up the yoke, shoulder, sleeve, then side & under-sleeve seams. Then I could get a good idea of how it would fit.

You’ll be pleased to know that I had it unpicked again in just five minutes! So the whole exercise took around 20 minutes from start to finish. Definitely quicker & easier than a full muslin…

I should mention here that you probably don’t want to iron the spiderweb paper. It seems ok (but unnecessary) with a cool iron. With a hot iron it burns and sticks. On a medium setting, a 10cm strip shrunk to 9cm. Be warned! You do not want this happening to your pattern pieces! (This also throws up questions like: what’s it made of? If it turns out it’s something horrible that’s eating the planet, I assure you, this will be my last roll!)

I shortened the length of the pattern by 9cm, other than that I made no alterations. The sleeves looked a bit short, but I figured the cuffs would fix that*.

Remember if you’re sewing this shirt, that the shoulder seams and the side/ under-arm seams have extra allowances for flat-felling. I usually French-seam or overlock these seams on my shirts, so this was new for me. I could have cut the excess off and carried on French-seaming as usual but where’s the growth in that…?

I’ve flat-felled on jeans before, but never a shirt. So, I checked the documentation on the freesewing website and it all made sense. I’ll admit, I only read the bits on flat-felling and didn’t worry about the rest. Now, I hadn’t helped myself by setting the seam allowances to 1.5cm (I did this before I knew that it was drafted for flatfell seams) so I had to offset the shoulder seam by 1.5cm, sew at 3cm and tuck the ends in. This was a disaster! I’m sure it would have been fine with 1 & 2 cm seams, but this was a mess. I promptly unpicked it, overlocked the excess seam allowance off and topstitched it down… there’ll be no expanding of my repertoire today!

When I did the mock-up I’d checked how the front buttonhole band was folded. It’s a nice technique, similar to the way I make a false cuff on a short sleeve shirt. The marking and folding has to be spot on, otherwise the collar stand won’t fit properly… and I’m pleased to say the collar fits really well.

Needless to say, I lobbed off the extra side seams with no intention of flat felling them either (I’ll leave that to my jeans for now!) I cut them back to an even 1.5cm each side and French seamed them nice and neatly, before pressing them towards the back.

I was wearing it round my cousins when the light looked really good by the corner table… Mr.A said ‘you should get your shirt picture over there…’ CousinA said ‘you’d better be quick, it’ll change in a second…’ and about half a minute later it was done. To give you some background – I’d just lost 4 out of 5 games of cards, which I think lends something to my apparent Mona Lisa gaze…

Anyhow, let’s get this blog post back on track…

Freesewing.org Simon Shirt:

I’m happy with the general fit, around the body and arm width. But I had to take 15cm off the total length in the end. The arm holes are a bit long and narrow too… this reinforces my suspicion that there’s something amiss in my measurements – maybe it’s my printer…? It feels like the whole pattern has been stretched out by about 1/5th. I should have spotted that when I sewed up the paper – that was the whole point! Still, live & learn.

Spiderweb Floral Wrap:

Easy to see through. Easy to sew & unpick. Roll is a bit narrow – potential wastage. Mark with pen not pencil. Slim to fold. Competitive price. **Unknown composition.

So that’s me for now! I hope you’re all doing great, and, until next time…

Happy sewing!

Notes to self;

  • Don’t iron spiderweb paper.
  • Stick to French seams.
  • Bite the bullet- draft your own damn shirt!
  • * When sewing a pattern-muslin, put together as much of the garment as possible.
  • ** Unknown composition … answers on a postcard…?!