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!