Sewing with a friend.
My son Freddie started Primary school nearly 3 years ago now, and I have made some really good friends whilst standing in the playground waving goodbye to my son each morning. One of my new friendships is with Maria, Max’ mum. We soon discovered that we have more than our sons in common. We have similar childhood memories, life stories, the same eye for design and fashion. We love textiles and we have a passion for sewing. So after lots of sewing conversations before and after school, I invited Maria for a sew along.
I soon discovered that it really is lovely sewing with a friend. Maria and her little new-born baby Minnie came over last week for a sewing session and we are already planning the next session. here’s what we got up to.
Maria decided she wanted to make a kimono. She had 2 metres of linen fabric she picked up at a market for just £5. There wasn’t enough for the neckline band, so I raided my fabric stash and we decided on a contrasting floral print.
I have 4 kimono patterns and Maria liked the Simplicity K1108 pattern the most.
We started by cutting out (on my living room floor). Maria has taught herself to sew and been on a few sewing courses, one being draping on the dress stand, so using paper patterns is quite a new experience. I showed her how to line the pattern pieces up with the straight grain first. Measuring from the grain line to the selvedge edge. She loved my measuring tape lanyard.
This gave me the idea that I would like to add a sewing essentials shop on my website. The tape measure being on the list. It will include all my favourite can’t sew without tools.
We then cut out the contrasting fabric for the neck-band and also the interfacing.
I have a small heat press, I heated it up and pressed the interfacing to all the neck panels. The heat press is a lot hotter than the domestic iron and being that you press rather than iron, the fabric doesn’t move and the interlining is always very secure. Heat presses are used in industry, just on a much bigger press/scale.
The next stage was to start sewing the front panels, back under arm, back seam and then shoulders together. These could be over locked, but Maria wanted to learn how to French seam.
Sew the wrong sides together first only 0.5cm, trim the raw edge a tiny bit. Then press the seam flat, turned to the right side and pin again, enclosing the raw edge inside a channel, then sewing again. If you hold this up to the light you can check that the raw edge is inside and the pins are just beside this. french seams are rarely used in high street stores, as it basically takes twice as long, so time is money. I am seeing french seams more; in mens tailored shirts and blouses, these usually have a higher price tag. Over-lockers are fast and you can finish the edge and sew the seam all in one action, so much more economical to use.
Maria soon discovered that it’s important to make sure the raw edge is inside and not to sew too close, if you do, the raw edge sticks out. This can be trimmed away. This time we sewed again and I unpicked the first attempt. This was quite tricky, as the linen has a very open weave and the thread match was so perfect it was hard to see the thread line.
I pinned all the neck panels together whilst Maria was sewing the seams. I did this by laying them out on the floor first, checking with the instruction pictures to make sure I had each panel the correct way. If I had guessed, it would have been wrong.
Maria sewed these together next, there is 2 pairs, the back interfaced ones and the front without. This prevents the band stretching.
We also needed to gather the back neckline. Maria had never done gathering before, so I showed her how to increase the stitch size and how to do the two rows of stitching, remembering not to back-stitch. Then pulling the top two threads to gather.
We stopped for lunch, which was a delicious tuna salad that Maria had brought with her. Baby Minnie decided to wake up at this point, so Maria managed to eat and breast feed all at the same time. Minnie went straight back to sleep, allowing us to get back to work, again.
The first band was pinned to the top, matching the neck notches. This was then sewn, the second band attached to the first. Once this was done all the seams needed to be pressed and then the neck-band raw edge pinned enclosed, pressed and tacked into position. The reason I tack is totally from experience. The last time I made this I didn’t and I had to unpick it all, it had gathered in places. Not forgetting it’s important to snip all the way around the curved edges too. it’s also important to sew the first panel to the wrong side first, then your top stitching will be on the front.
The day was going quickly and it was nearly time to collect our boys from school. Rather than rush and make mistakes we stopped ahead of time.
I took the kimono with me and did the hand sewing in the car. It’s always hard to park at the primary school and it’s too far to walk, so I like to leave early to get a space close enough. This gave me 15 minutes sitting in the car waiting time, time I usually read or blog. So today it was perfect for hand-sewing. I took a needle, thread and a thimble and managed to finish the hand sewing just in time. I forgot my scissors so it was not easy threading the needle.
My son is allowed an iPad hour a day. This was just enough time for me to top stitch the band in place and press and to stitch the hem of both sleeves. Then it was a trip to the Dentist for Freddie’s 6 month check up, followed by cooking his tea and an hour of monster drawing before bed.
once he was in bed I gave it a good press and it looks really good. I’m really pleased with the result and will give to Maria at school drop off tomorrow morning
Sewing with a friend is so lovely, you get to chat and support each other with your makes. I definitely want to do this again.
If you want to do similar, come along to one of my sewing workshops, have a look at the workshop page on my website. Call a friend and get them along too. I can also do a one to one sew along, just send me an email with dates and what you would like to learn and make.