Saturday, January 30, 2010

I am having an affair.....

...with Simplicity 2593!

How do I love thee, let me count the have varied seam allowances. Yes that’s right, ¼ inch for the neck and armholes and 3/8 inch for the seams, so no clipping or trimming! You have no fusing to iron on, zips to insert or buttonholes to sew, Hallelujah! And you take only an afternoon to whip up **sigh**.

But you have one failing my love.... you insist on me handsewing that lovely twist detail to your neckline gasp! So, in order to maintain an everlasting relationship that handsewing has to go!

I originally made up this pattern in a stripe for the Wardrobe Contest last year and pretty much went by the book.
But this week, I really craved some cool tops ( I was thinking of dresses but I really am a separates kind of gal) and had a few rolls of some printed voile so thought I might have a fiddle around with the pattern.

Straight off the bat, binding edges is not my favourite way to finish an edge, they can be fiddly and have to be perfect to look good. I had some trouble with the neck sizing in the first top so thought I would try a new technique for the binds.
Here is my version of How to Sew Simplicity 2593 and Make Your Life Easier (word of warning: some people may not like this as it is a production technique rather than a hand constructed couture type of finish!).

1. Sew ONE shoulder seam. I did french seams as the voile is quite lightweight and to be truthful I think this technique works best with french seams.
2. Pin other shoulder seam.
3. Sew gathering stitch to front neck.
4. Fit garment (on a dummy or yourself if you have a willing assistant) and gather neck edge to fit.

5. Sew right side of neck binding to wrong side of neck edge, stretching binding slightly as you go (this helps the bind sit flat when finished). I did not use pins, or match symbols of dots or do any other fiddling around. You may find you have a bit of extra binding left over the edge, but if you gathered the neck to fit this is not an issue.

6. Press seam toward binding, fold over edge, pin and machine stitch bind on right side of neckline.
7. Sew other shoulder seam.
8. Attach armhole binding as per neckline.
9. Sew side seams.
10. Sew hem.

This technique is so quick that I literally whipped up two finished tops in three days, and this included having a play around with the neckline detail.

This version I sewed the neckline pieces into a long tube and then handpleated them onto the neck, topstitched from the front, folded the pleats down and pressed.

This version I did the same, but halved the width of the tube (basically cut 2 neck pieces instead of four) and handpleated them onto the front only.

I liked them both so much I am in the process of making another!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The toughest chambray in the world

It got the better of me with this top, but I have now managed to conquer the Toughest Chambray in the World. Hurrah!

I picked up this piece of chambray, about 3m, from a local op shop for a couple of bucks last year, and while initially, I totally underestimated its surly nature with regards to drape, I have now managed to beat it into submission using this Burda WOF tulip skirt.

BWOF 123-10-2009

If you saw this post, you will remember the lovely light blue denim skirt that Lisa from Tessuti put together as being my reference point.

That skirt however looks quite full, and appears to have a straight waistband, which I have an undying horror of, ever since having to make them at high school using that cheap unwieldy sew in interfacing ( I will NEVER use that stuff again!), so I looked for a pattern that would suit both me and the Toughest Chambray in the World.

The BWOF pattern has a curved waistband (yay!) and a straighter shape, with pleats at the front and darts at the back. I did have to adjust the pattern to get rid of the zip and add a button extension, but this pattern is so quick to run up and easy peasy to sew.

I even tackled using proper topstitching thread which has always given me problems on domestic machines before ( I discovered that if you use regular thread on the bobbin you don’t need to muck around with the tension).

Tostitching in all it's glory

So here is the rundown.
I traced the size 38 and didn’t make any changes to the shape or fit of the pattern.
To change fly front to a button extension
1. Trace front skirt to CF line, ignoring fly front extension.
2. Measure button, in my case they were 1.5cm
3. Add button measurement (1.5cm) to CF and square down. This is now the fold line.
4. Add twice the button measurement (3cm) to the fold line and square down. This is the underlap.
5. Add seam allowance if needed. I added ¼ inch to allow a bit extra even though I overlocked the edge.
6. From front waistband CF, add button measurement (1.5cm) and then ¼ inch s.a.

Front skirt pattern showing new extension

I left out the hip pockets as I didn’t want any extra padding there thank you very much!
Back skirt and waistband pattern were unchanged.
I added ½ inch s.a to side seams and ¼ inch s.a for the waistband and facings.
(Apologies for skipping between imperial and metric. I tend to favour imperial but will switch to metric when it suits me!)

1. Apply iron on fusing to extension (making sure fusing extends past foldline) and waistband ( I didn’t fuse the waistband facings on account of the weight of the fabric).

Front extension and fusing

2. Finish front extension edge, fold under on fold line and press and topstitch.
3. Fold pleats on front skirt and sew darts on back skirt and press.
4. Sew side seams, finish and press.
5. Sew waistband and waistband facings at side seams and press.
6. Sew waistband to skirt, clip and press.
7. Finish waistband facing edge and sew to waistband. Clip seam and turn through.
8. Topstitch waistband.
9. Topstitch hem.
10. Sew buttonholes and buttons.

As the skirt has a curved waistband and sits slightly on the hip, I just used the waistband pattern to make the sash, extending past CF to create extra length for the ties.

Well at least the skirt is in focus

The fit is a little on the big side, I could have taken it in a smidgen, but I still have to run the skirt through a couple of hot wash cycles just to make sure the fabric is well and truly under my thumb, and hopefully it might shrink a bit (bit worried about the thread though, its a reel of scarlet vintage topstitching thread and the colour looks like it can’t wait to bleed all over the place!).

So take that Toughest Chambray in the World.
Now to take on the Trickiest Voile in the World!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sweet relief

Today I am sitting here in my cardigan thanking the weather gods for some sweet relief from the heat. We had a lovely cool change come through last night, which meant a blue lipped swimming lesson this morning but lots of sewing time this arvo. Hurrah!

And to top it off I scored a bonanza at the op shop , a small stash of Top Kids magazines, chock full of patterns for bubs, toddlers and teenagers.

I had never heard of this mag before, these issues were all published around the early 90’s, but it is very much like Burda WOF , with about 30 patterns that you trace from the large pattern sheet.

If you can get past the scary 80s styling (most of the photo spreads look like ad campaigns for Esprit kids!) and fabrics the actual patterns are quite good.

So now Miss C is all set for clothes until well into high school (whether she still lets me dress her after the age of 3 is still to be seen!).

And just for a giggle, here is the back cover of one of the mags. Mum bought me this very same overlocker when I was in high school (and she still has it and uses it) but I never knew you could hook up with a guy and dance around with it! No wonder they called it a funlock!

AND I was able to trace off my pattern and cut out my chambray skirt, and cook dinner and get the washing in, all in one day!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Too hot to sew

It has been so hot here since New Year, and not just your regular summer heat, but I mean wall melting heat, so there has been no sewing action whatsoever, hence my online absence.

I haven’t even been able to think about sewing it’s been so dreadful.

Our house is an old sandstone number, so even though its been insulated to the hilt we don’t have air con, which means closing everything up and keeping it dark inside from pretty much 9am every day. That, and staying as still as possible is the only way I can maintain any kind of good cheer toward my fellow inhabitants.

So instead of sewing, Miss C and I have been learning to swim, which has been great fun but I am still sorely in need of some lightweight summer clothes.

It has got me to thinking that our clothes are miserably unsuitable to our living conditions (how the heck the early settlers managed to survive in heavy woollen garments and corsets I don’t know).

We should be wearing big, billowy kaftans in cotton and linen with nothing underneath (and I mean nothing) to trap cool air and allow body heat to escape. Instead I see people walking around in tight T shirts and jeans, or little strappy singlets and shorts. A lot of people don’t even wear sunglasses or hats in the middle of the day which amazes me. The aim should be to cover as much skin as possible in natural fibres and loose shapes.

But I get odd looks when I wear a shirt over my swimmers at the pool, so I can’t imagine what people would think if I started swanning about in a long sleeve linen caftan ( it does have a bit of a Liz Taylor in the 70’s vibe though which makes the idea seem quite appealing)!

Hmmmm...might try this look next time I need to pop down to the post office for some stamps!

But I digress. What has caught my eye is this post from the Tessuti blog. A great denim skirt which I just happen to have all the bits and bobs for!
I just have to find a suitable pattern.

Chambray, buttons and thread from the stash.....all up about $5 worth!!!Thank you opshop Gods!

Since discovering that skirts do actually suit me, especially the tulip shape, I am thinking that this Burda trouser pattern from the Nov 2009 issue, converted to a skirt could do the trick.

If we get a cool change tonight I might just get the tracing paper out!

Monday, January 4, 2010


...its nice to be home!
Despite being totally spoilt for three weeks over Christmas and New Year, it’s kinda nice to be back in my own space.

This year was Miss C’s first holiday with the inlaws in New Zealand, so lots of firsts; including first flight, first time at the beach and first visit to the zoo which was exciting and exhausting and lots of fun all at the same time. Actually travelling with a nearly three year old was surprisingly easy, no meltdowns or other horror behaviours that you read about with toddlers, she pretty much charmed the pants off everyone we met!

A pair of birds chatting to a pair of birds

We were fortunate to be staying right on the water, so daily trips to the beach were the order of the day and while the temps were sometimes a bit chilly for swimming we did make many ridiculously feeble attempts at building sandcastles and explored rock pools and collected shells.

Feet oysters

Just to prove that I do wear my garments in public; the Burda ruffle top on the Devonport ferry!

And lucky for us we had bucketfuls of rain while we were away so everything looks lush and green for a change!

So now that I have had time to unpack and get back into our daily groove its time to start thinking about sewing. I have a few pressing jobs; like making curtains for the lounge room and some mending but I really want to start planning for the interesting stuff. Namely sewing for me and Miss C!

What I really need is some light summery dresses.
We have finally finished breastfeeding, and I have generally avoided wearing dresses as hoiking up a frock in public is not really a good look, especially when wearing nanna undies as is my general choice of smalls, so I have got through the summer heat in mostly shorts and tees.

So to celebrate nearly three years of feeding I think I might reward myself with some frocks.

Off to hunt through the stash now.
I am pretty sure I have some nice cotton voiles waiting to be found!