Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All posted out

Well I am afraid that I have reached burnout stage from writing and photographing the wardrobe garments. Time to move on methinks!

Plus I still have flu brain fog at the moment so am not thinking terribly clearly.
If you are wondering about the last top from the wardrobe though, here is a quick peek.

It is Simplicity 2594 and I highly recommend it.

You can read my review at Pattern Review if you want the nuts and bolts but right now I need to PACK!.

I hope you have a lovely Christmas and New Year.
I am back home on New Years Day and probably won't have much time to blog or read other blogs before then.
So for now my New Years Resolution is to be more diligent at posting pics and info during the sewing stage rather than just post pics of the end result and
to t-a-k-e my t-i-m-e!

Merry Christmas!

Burda Ruffle top

Posting the last two tops from the wardrobe now before I whizz off to New Zealand for Christmas. I still have way too much cleaning and packing to do so unfortunately there won’t be much in the way of Christmas posts from me this year.

Here is the Burda ruffle top (issue 08/2009)from the Wardrobe Contest.

Burda model

This is a great top, I plan on making many more versions of this. It is quick to trace, cut and sew and is quite girly without being sickly sweet.

I bet you're getting sick of that looking at that wall by now!

I did make a few changes to the pattern and the sewing as I didn’t bother to look too closely at the Burda instructions.

Traced a size 38, but really could have gotten away with a 36 as I ended up taking 2cm off at each side seams from the hem and tapering to nothing under the arm.

Shortened length by 5cm.

Added 2 side back darts between side seams and CB, taking in another 4cm in total from the waist.

Curved the facing edge instead of tracing Burda’s corner. You can see the original edge on this pattern piece, it is the dotted black line. A curved edge is much easier to finish than a corner, especially if you are overlocking it.

I attached my button to the front of the top, Burda has you attach it to the inside.
I did a self fabric loop rather than a hand sewn chainstitch loop.

I think that this will be a great transeasonal top, good for under cardis and jackets and even over a turtleneck.

I am even thinking it could be good to extend it into a dress and run some elastic around the waist. So a big yay for Burda patterns from me on this one!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tiptoe through the tulips

I was going to call this post ‘more bottoms’ but thought that might be problematic in ending up in searches where it doesn’t belong ahem!

These are the rest of the ‘bottoms’ from the wardrobe. BWOF tulip skirt from the 05/09 issue and an OOP Vogue pant pattern.

Here is Burda’s version of the skirt.

I very rarely wear my tops tucked in so figured I could do without the waist bow detail (I seem to spend most of my time taking things OFF patterns rather than adding to them. I wonder if this is just subconscious laziness at work?).

Basically I LOVE this skirt pattern. It has only 4 pieces and gives a really great shape and peps up what is basically a straight skirt.

Here’s my version in a printed cotton elastane and a rundown of how I put it together.

Traced a size 38. Took in the waist by 1/2” on front and back and tapered to nothing at hip.
Added 1/2” s.a to side seams and hem.
Added 1/4” s.a to facing and waist edge.
Added 3/4” s.a to CB (Burda has the zip in the side but I prefer it in the CB seam as it is MUCH easier to insert a zip in a straight seam rather than a curved one. Plus I don’t need any extra bulk over the hips thankyouverymuch!).

Burda has an odd way of finishing the hem, instructing you to trace a hem facing for the front only (?!!!!). I am not a big fan of facings on hems and as my fabric had some stretch, I figured I could get away without it (the hem of the front is quite curved due to the pleats at the top).

The construction is very simple, basically a straight skirt with facing, so Burda’s sewing instructions are quite straightforward for a change.

I made a second version in a black linen/rayon blend and it also made up very nicely. I also left off the hem facing for this version and just did a narrow hem by hand and didn’t have any problems with it. So the facing is probably superfluous for this skirt in my opinion.

This skirt has really sold me on wearing skirts again. I think I will make a lot more of these. Now I just need to find a supplier of bulk self tanning lotion.

The other ‘bottom’ was a skinny pant in stretch denim.

This is an OOP Vogue 7481 pattern that has been in the stash for ages. It is an extremely simple pant and luckily for me the fit is perfect. I didn’t need to do any alterations, which is good because it was the last piece that I made for the Contest and I didn’t have time for a toile!

So not much to say on this one, except I made a size 12 (I went down a size due to the stretch factor in the denim) and it is a very snug fit. The pant has a fly front, curved waistband and straight leg (I tapered the leg from the knee to the ankle by about 2” on front and back) but that was the only change I made.

I like the fact that it has minimal detail. I am thinking of taking the time to trace this one off onto a heavyweight card so that I can use it as a pant block as the fit is so good.

But I can’t actually bear to even look at a pattern at the moment so I will see if I am still in love with them after the Christmas frenzy (and hopefully the Christmas kilos) is over.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Burda Vest

Well that title isn’t exactly going to knock your socks off is it!
Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t end becoming a journo!

This is the next item from the wardrobe, from Burda World of Fashion, issue 05/2009.
I have been wanting some kind of a vest or waistcoat for a while. I had a denim one that I wore to death and they are really handy for dressing up a simple outfit. I liked that this one had a collar but fairly minimal details (who has time to sew welt pockets after all!).

Pic from Burda Fashion

The only things that I was bit iffy about were the sleeves; if you look closely the shoulder is cut quite high above where the natural shoulder is, so setting in a sleeve would be a bit odd. I wondered how well the sleeve would actually fit and be comfortable to wear on such a high shoulder line so just left them out.

Pic from Burda Fashion

I also rounded the front edges of the vest, you can see this in this pic, as I thought that a rounded shape would work better design wise with the curved collar.

The only other change was to ditch the lining; I didn’t really have anything in my stash to use for lining, so instead I drafted an all in one facing and chose to finish the inside seams with a commercial bias binding.

I like the facing but I don’t think that I will do that seam finish again in a hurry. While it looks very show offy, it’s fiddly to do and just adds extra thickness to all the enclosed bits. Overlocking the edges would have been fine. It’s not like I go around flashing the inside of my clothes to strangers on the street (except online of course!).

And just to show BWOF that you don’t need weird long winded instructions this is how I put it together.

Traced a size 38. No alterations to pattern sizing at all.
Added 1/4" s.a to all faced edges including neckline, centre front, armholes and collar.
Added 1/2” s.a to all other seams.
Traced front and back facings from front and back vest, making sure that facing was clear of dart points.
Curved CF and hem edges.

Fused collar and facing pieces.
Sew darts in front and back, press.
Sew shoulder seams on vest and facing, press.
Sew collar, leaving neckline edge open. Clip seam, edgestitch on underside, turn through and press.
Finish facing edge.
Stitch collar to vest neckline.
Stitch facing to vest, neckline and armhole seams. Clip seams, edgestitch on facing side, turn through and press.
Sew side seams, press.
Finsh hem edge, turn up hem and sew.
Finish buttonhole and button.

Overall, a very well drafted vest that fits according to Burdas measurement chart.
My fabric (a cotton drill) was just verging on being too thick, so any lightweight fabric like linen, cotton, satin or a lightweight wool would be fine. Although if you go with a lining instead of a facing you could probably get away with a thicker fabric.

Disclaimer: you will note that mine doesn’t have a buttonhole. I am planning on getting this done professionally as my button is quite large and I think professional buttonholes always look better in this instance.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Frankenskirt (or how to turn a pant into a skirt)

Our household has come down with the dreaded lurgy so things have been moving in slow motion for the last few days, but I promised more info on the individual pieces from the wardrobe so here is the first.

In my original plan I had trousers and shorts for all of the bottoms but when we started to get temps of 40 degrees in November (!) it occurred to me that skirts might be a better option.

But as I haven’t worn as skirt in say, at least 15 years, and even then it would have been with thick black tights, I wasn’t quite sure what shape to go for.
I played a lot of sport as a kid and as a result have quite muscular legs, so anything above the knee is out, and full, girly styles don’t work on me. I realised that it is quite difficult finding a skirt that isn’t corporate or a bit nanna or a bit bohemian in style.

Because I like the McCalls harem pant so much, I thought I might be able to bastardise the pattern and make it into a skirt, and whaddayknow it worked!

All I did was find the CF and CB on the pattern at the waistline (which was quite conveniently marked, thank you very much McCalls) and rule a line straight down, parallel to the grainline. Then measured the length I wanted and squared across from CF and CB to the side seam.

I also needed to reshape the side seam as it was tapered in on the pant. Then cut the front on the fold, added seam allowance to CB for the zip and voila a new skirt pattern! All the pieces for the pockets and facings remained unchanged.
I also shortened the waist by 1.5cm as it was a little too high waisted in the pant for my taste.

Here’s the finished result. It’s made up in a dark denim chambray.

Frankenskirt on me

I am sorry that I don’t have any pics of the pattern pieces, as in the whirlwind of getting everything done I just made the adjustments in pencil on the original pattern and hoped for the best!

If you would like more specific instructions on how to turn a pant into a skirt just send me an email.

I am still debating whether to do any topstitching though.

Frankenskirt on the other dummy

I usually avoid topstitching, as if it isn’t perfect it can look very home made, but then again without topstitching it also looks a bit unfinished (denim always seems to need topstitching for some reason). Any thoughts?

Overall I am pretty happy with this one, although it doesn’t quite fit what I was aiming for in a casual denim skirt, as I think the high waist makes it look quite dressy. But I think with a T-shirt and flats I can get around that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I'm done!

Well I did finally manage to complete the 10 required garments for the Wardrobe Contest yay!

Some details were sacrificed in the name of meeting the deadline, like topstitching and buttonholes, but who needs fastenings anyhoo! I am happy that I got to use up some of my pattern and fabric stash and now have some nice new things for the Christmas holidays.

Here’s the composite pic of all the pieces together. I plan on posting info on the individual pieces over the next few days but if you want more info check out the review at Pattern Review.

And just for a laugh, here are some outtakes from the photoshoot, where I am sporting a lovely big cut on my lip and a freshly sprouted pimple on my chin!

Miss C demonstrating this seasons must have accessory...the leg scarf!

Hands on hips Mum, good girl!

Don't forget to show them the back Mum!

Where did my model go?

C'mon Mum, lets see what's on the refreshments trolley!

And what did I do today with all my spare time? Bought more patterns of course!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In a muddle

I just can’t seem to get any sense of order in my life right now – granted the weather has been against me somewhat.

We have had over a week of temperatures hovering around the 40 degrees (Celsius) mark, and on Sunday were hit with the worst bushfires that our area has seen for some time.

Fortunately no lives, property or stock were lost, but when the fire got to within 2 km of town we decided to hightail it out of there. The Bloke stayed behind to defend the property and Miss C and I stocked the car with first aid supplies, thick woollen blankets, 20 litres of water and a fire extinguisher!

Funnily enough, when we made the decision to go, there wasn’t anything that I was desperate to save; people talk of saving photo albums, family heirlooms and the like but when it came to the crunch I was just happy to have a tank full of gas and get to somewhere safe.

I must admit I did feel a bit of a twinge thinking about the pattern and fabric stash, but in the end if it went then so be it.

So after a brief sojourn at Hotel Granma’s we are now back home with lots of cleaning up to do.

I think that this will put a spanner in my plans to enter the Wardrobe Contest; I have completed 5 tops and 1 skirt with one in the works, but that leaves 2 bottoms and the vest to complete in about 6 days.

On paper there is no reason why it can’t be done, I am a pretty fast sewer, but while it will be nice to have these clothes I don’t really NEED them, not like the lounge room NEEDS new curtains and Miss C NEEDS to be toilet trained, so a decision NEEDS to be made I suppose.

Plus on top of this I NEED to turn this

into some kind of suitable room for Miss C, who is still in a cot in our room and has really outgrown this arrangement.

I have managed to complete a quilt for the room but still don’t have the room to put it in! Sigh!

At least I have finished my exams for the year, but as we are heading off for Christmas with the inlaws on the 10th Dec, I am seriously running out of time to get things done. And I have to make/wrap/send Christmas pressies as well. And I don’t think that this post makes any sense at all. Aaaaaargh!

I think a nice glass of Scotch is in order. Maybe a double!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The big blue blouse revisited

I did manage to finish the McCalls top from this post, but after many hot washes and much hand wringing it is still too big! And the chambray is as stiff as a board.

But despite the fact that my fabric choice is completely wrong it is actually a great pattern so here goes with a review.

Here’s McCalls version.

And here’s mine, in the stubborn chambray, kindly modeled by my sis.

I cut a size 14 and really should have gone with a 12 but I have an overriding fear of clothes that are too tight.

It’s just my opinion (and isn’t that what blogs are for) but the majority of folks I see get around in clothing that is just simply too small, its either too tight or too short and considering that most of us are not string beans you would think that we would prefer to hide our flaws rather than flaunt them.
So I tend to err on the side of volume when making my clothes, and I am too lazy to pre shrink my fabric!

I bought the pattern because I was quite taken with the frill detail, and they have to be the easiest frills I have ever done!

I simply rolled hemmed the cut edges (the instructions say to pinstitch, trim, press and pin stitch again but that seemed like way too much work) and the two frills are then placed on top of the front and all gathered as one piece.
My only criticism of the frill is that I think that the proportion is too long in comparison to the top – they tend to give the impression that my boobs are talking to my belly button!

The instructions are super easy and very straightforward, I did use a different method to finish the facing however.
Commercial patterns always say to fold the raw edge under and handstitch which I never do – it makes for too much bulk and machine stitching is always preferable to hand stitching in my book.

Instead I sewed front to back facing at the shoulder seams, then overlocked the lower edge, trimming off about 0.5cm, then once the facing was sewn to the yoke, turned it through, pressed and ditch stitched in the seamline from the front.

I really should try to take more photos of the construction stages – feel free to email me if you are making this pattern and this all sounds like gobbledy gook!

There is a little bit of ease in the sleeve head, which is a bit baffling for a raglan sleeve but I’ll save that rant for another day. I don’t like using gathering stitches to ease in sleeves, so used the pin method instead.

If you haven’t done this before, give it a go because I nearly always find that I end up with little tucks using gathering but never using pins.

The method is to first pin the sleeve to the armhole at any markings such as shoulder seam, underarm seam and notches. Then proceed to pin halfway between the pins, then halfway again and continuing until you have lots of pins about a couple of millimetres apart.

The trick is to make sure that the pins are underneath the fabric at the seam allowance and the pin heads are neatly lined up. Then just sew as usual.
Some people are happy to sew over the pins and then remove at the end but I get nervous doing this, I don’t know why as I have never broken a needle, so I just take them out as I go.

If you do this, make sure that the foot is on top of the pin, don’t lift the foot and just slide out the pin before the needle hits it. If you lift the foot then the ease will be released and you will get a fold.

It’s a bit time consuming making sure the pinning is perfect but then so is sewing and removing gathering threads. This method always works for me and is great for set in sleeves.

I probably won’t ever wear this top, but if I sew it again I promise to
1. Try the size 12
2. Reduce the width of the frills
3. Take out the back gathering – it’s not really needed and just adds to the puffiness
4. Use a very floppy fabric

I am going to make one last effort at saving this top – I am going to try bleaching the heck out of and see if that softens it up!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Self imposed exile.....

I have just returned home after 2 weeks in the wilderness, well not exactly, technology wilderness maybe as there was no internet access, but my parents farm is more Aussie bush than wilderness and seeing that it is only a 10 minute drive to town its hardly remote.

But I did have 3 babysitters (Granma, Granpa and my sis) so I managed to get plenty of uninterrupted sewing time and quite a few projects completed.

So first cab off the rank is Simplicity 2596, a ridiculously easy top that is so simple to put together I almost didn’t bother posting a review as I didn’t think that there was anything that I could add to the pattern instructions.

But seeing as sis kindly volunteered to take some photos here it is.

The fabric is a cotton printed eyelet that has a slight diagonal direction, so I cut the pattern following the nap.

I cut View E with View A length, in a size 12 and made absolutely no changes to the pattern.

The only change I made to the construction was finishing the neckline; instead of a facing I used a ready made (I know I know how lazy can you get!) bias binding as the fabric is very lightweight and I didn’t want to see the facing through the eyelet holes.

I also added a skinny frill in self fabric to the front yoke seam (simply cut a bias strip, roll hem the edges on the overlock, gather and sew on top of seam) as it was looking a bit hospital scrubs like!

Easy peasy, a great summer top that I think I will get loads of wear out of.
It’s not exactly going to set the fashion world on fire but the lady at the library thinks it’s lovely!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Look...up in the sky.....

....it’s a bird, it’s a plane.....it’s a big blue blouse!

Well actually it’s McCalls 5885, just in the wrong fabric and the wrong size.

I have been wanting to make up this pattern ever since I got it a couple of months ago, and was inspired by this pic from The Satorialist to try for a chambray style.

Trouble is my chambray is much too heavy (which I knew even before I cut it but ploughed on ahead anyway) and I cut a size 14 when I should have cut a 12 *sigh*.

Trying to master the mirror shot. Miss C aka The Shadow is of no help whatsoever.

This was going to be for the Wardrobe Contest but it doesn’t really go with my other pieces and I need to do some work to beat it into shape.

The sleeve hem is supposed to be gathered onto a band but I think that this will accentuate the balloon effect so I might give that a miss and go for a straight hem.
And a couple of rounds in a hot wash cycle in the machine might help soften it up.

On the plus side the fabric only cost me $2 and I still have enough left for a pair of summer shorts.

The pattern itself is actually super easy and deserves a proper review so I will post up the details when I can bear to try it on again.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

A big thank you to Eugenia and Josie who both very kindly sent the Kreativ Blogger Award my way recently, and considering my sewing mojo has decided to take a holiday without advising me in advance, it couldn’t have come at a better time!

In keeping with the rules of the award I have to tell you 7 things about me that you don’t already know – be warned!

1. I cut my own hair
2. I have a one eyed dog called Happy. In hindsight he should have been called Homer as he tends to eat too much and bumps into the furniture, hence the one eye.
3. I make most of my own cleaning products including shampoo. I have excema so this is a bit of a forced situation. If I touch soap or detergent things get very painful very quickly.
4. I have an aversion to sliced tomato. No idea why. I am happy to consume tomato in any other form, tinned, diced, quartered etc but sliced tomato makes me queasy.
5. I don’t like cooking but I love eating. This is something I struggle with on a daily basis.
6. I don’t know any party tricks. Sorry.
7. I hate having my photo taken – which is pretty silly considering the nature of this blog!
8. Woops got carried away there!

And in order to pass on the joy here are some other creative type blogs that keep me going - check them out!

Make it perfect
Every Spare Minute
Sweet Emmelie
Pink Lizzy Sews
Lucy and I
Lorelle Sews

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Plugging Away

Trying to sew has been a bit like swimming through quicksand recently.

I have finally managed to finish and submit a 3000 word Uni assignment (albeit a week late) which means I can now spend some of my evening tracing patterns and cutting fabric instead of trying to figure out how to reference my essay to the proper academic standard.

But I did manage to get a top completed but have only just gotten around to photograph it.

It’s Simplicity 2593, the Cynthia Rowley twist top which I know oodles of other sewers have tried and had great success with.

The fabric is more of the stripe seersucker that I used for the harem pant (but they definitely won’t get worn together unless I go to a pajama party!) and it worked really nicely for this design.

I didn’t bother with a toile, and cut a size 12 (even though I should be a 14 going by the envelope measurements) as quite a few reviewers at Pattern Review mentioned that there was plenty of ease.

The top was a pretty good fit except for the extra 6 cm along the front neckline – seen here pinned in to fit.

This could have been due to the pattern or the bias strip may have stretched quite a bit during handling. It was easy to fix though, I just unpicked (shudder) the front neck, gathered the extra in and put a seam in the bias strip at CF and then reattached the bias. Having the seam there doesn’t bother me as the twisty bit covered it up. I also gave the twist band an extra twist to allow for the shorter neckline.

The directions are straightforward, my only bugbear with this pattern is the handsewing required to attach the twist band – I racked my brain trying to think of a way to attach it by machine but gave up – I figured that if I spend my money on a commercial pattern I shouldn’t also have to spend my time redrafting the pattern.

In the end I settled for ditchstitching the shoulder seams and a few key places around the neck as well as handsewing, as I don’t trust that my handsewing will stand up to the rigours of my washing machine!

I just flipped up the twist, machine stitched and then folded the twist back down to cover the stitching.

Sorry about the pics – The Bloke took off with the camera at the crucial moment and these are from my mobile.

The finished result (without the hem - woops!)

Front detail

Back detail (no kidding!)

Overall this is a lovely pattern, very easy to put together, although the bias is a bit fiddly.

If I make it again though I am debating whether to adjust the pattern for the extra 6cm or use a stretch fusing for the bias to prevent any stretching. I have never done this before so not quite sure if it would work.

Oh, and I only JUST got away with the size 12!
Will probably have to resist an extra serve of pav at Christmas time!

Edited to add: artwork in background courtesy Miss C

Friday, September 11, 2009

The (not so) simple top

I thought that this Burda top would be a nice quick garment to knock together, but appearances can be deceiving!

While it is a very basic pattern, with only a CB seam, arm and neck binding and a cute back panel detail, it is essentially a tube and therein lies the problem, because I am not!

I cut a size 40 which generally speaking was a good fit, except for some serious underarm gaping. And as there is no side seam, this presents a bit of a dilemma in terms of how to adjust the pattern.

Here is the original pattern.

What I needed to do was take in the underarm, but without altering the hip too much, so how to go about it?
There were a couple of options:

1. Slash through the pattern where the side seam would be ( Burda very kindly included a notch to indicate this, thank you!) and close out the extra under the arm (in my case I needed to take it in by 4cm under each arm), and widen the hip slightly.

2. As above but pivot the dart into the gathered section of the back so as not to alter the hip width.

The trouble with these 2 options is that the CB is thrown off grain, which in a plain fabric is not too much of a problem, but would look seriously whacky in a stripe or print.

3. Overlap the side seam evenly from underarm to hip and add extra length to the CB back panel to maintain the hip width.

4. Or just whack in a side seam to create some shape from underarm to hip.

After mucking around for far too long with the pattern (and taking dodgy photos of the pattern pieces on my unwashed floor) I came to the conclusion that such a simple pattern shouldn’t need so much major surgery. So I decided to just sew an underarm dart.

It’s not pretty, and it kind of defeats the purpose of the original pattern but it fits, and I will most likely wear this style of top under layers, as the world doesn’t need to see my underarms jiggling around these days (still photography is allowed, it’s amazing what a bit of teeth clenching and arm flexing can achieve!).

So what about the construction?

The instructions seemed way to complex for a simple tank top, so I ignored them and just whizzed it up on the overlocker, substituting self fabric arm and neck bands for the facings.

The Burda instructions advised to sew the hem first, and then apply the back panel, but I didn’t want any visible topstitching in this fabric, so instead I gathered and pinned the back to the panel, keeping the hem allowance free, then turning the allowance up behind the panel and then sewing the top to the panel.

The hem allowance can then be flipped over and you have a nice neat finish.
Because this method secured the hem, and I had a fairly generous allowance (1.5 inches) and the hip fit quite snugly, the hem naturally sits in place without needing any stitching.

I also fused the back panel and this helps it to keep its shape (word of warning, it helps to use stretch fusing, I didn’t as I was being stingy, oops frugal, and as a result the hip fits a little more snugly then it probably should!).

Look Mum, the back panel matches perfectly with my jean pockets (on purpose of course)!!

Another gratutious shot of me pretending to have taut underarms.

All in all I am pretty happy with the result. So much so that I made another in my black and white spotty fabric AND it took less than 2 hours AND that’s with Miss C ‘helping’.

Phew, I think that this has been my longest post ever! Now I had better get back to my real job and pay some attention to that Uni assignment that has been lurking in the background.