Sunday, July 19, 2015

MBM - Sewaholic Granville, Version 2

After my first go at the Sewaholic Granville shirt, I thought it would be a good idea to consolidate some of the shirtmaking techniques I had picked up by making another fairly quickly. I’ve also enjoyed wearing the first Granville, so I had to have another one, soon. And so, here it is..
I was pretty happy with the fit of the first one, so made no fit changes. The only issue I wanted to address was the slight constriction I felt around my bent elbow. This is after adding 4cm in width between bicep and elbow, which seemed to give me plenty of ease. Maybe my elbows are unusually broad. Maybe my arms do weird things when I bend my elbow? Whatever. I cut the sleeve on the bias to facilitate a bit more “give” in the elbow area. It’s a trick I picked up on a Pattern Review course quite a while ago, and it works a treat. You have to be a bit careful handling the pieces as you do with any bias cut piece. And I can see in the picture below  that there is a slight "step" between the bias cut sleeve and the interfaced cuff, but nothing that bothers me overly much:

The sewing of the shirt went well, due in some part to the fabric. This is a fabric I estimate I would have bought in the late 80s, back in the day when Mum was sewing for me regularly, and my sewing skills amounted to sewing on buttons, and handsewing hems (Mum always made me do at least these two jobs on whatever she made). At that time, I was in my first “proper” job out of university, working in the Sydney CBD and would often head over to Flynn’s Fabrics in the Mid City Centre (sadly, both have evaporated into the either)  to purchase fabrics for Mum to sew up. Yes, I was a lucky girl, because as I have said before on the blog, Mum is a super-duper dressmaker. It probably also helped I was the only daughter in her family of five kids.
Anyway, I may not have known much about sewing , but kudos to me for choosing this fabric, which seems to be an especially fine handkerchief linen. There could be some silk there too, I don’t know. Mum never did get around to making this fabric up though, and it has been in her stash ever since. I‘d forgotten about it until she asked me whether I wanted it back not long ago. Did I ever! It just happened to be the sort of fabric I always have my eye out for, and in winter white which likewise is always on my list.

With this second Granville, I have to say I can feel myself becoming addicted to shirtmaking. This is a surprising development for me, being as I enjoy a quick sew as much as anyone. But there is something especially rewarding in executing each part of the shirt jigsaw as well as you can. It doesn’t  bother me that it takes about two weeks of sewing in one hour bursts to complete a shirt. I actually think that shirtmaking is suited to the time I have available for sewing at the moment. I can sew in a placket, or sew up a couple of flat fell seams, and feel like I’ve achieved something. Suffice to say, I have a few Granvilles in the mental sewing queue now.

Anyone else have recollections of Flynn's Fabrics? I  bought my wedding dress fabric there too, and I recollect it always had really nice fabrics. Sigh. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

MBM - Liesl + Co Bento Tee, sweatshirt version

 A simple sweatshirt today. A couple of months ago I bought a few metres of some nylon/merino sweatshirting from The Fabric Store to make some  trackie pants to play tennis in on chilly winter Wednesday nights.  They are a bit too TBTB – too boring to blog –elastic waist pants, what’s to say? I’m stumped, but here’s what I’ve done with the extra fabric:
As I was considering my pattern  options, Lara blogged the sweatshirt variation of Liesl + Co’s Bento Tee recently. It’s easy to forget – L+Co don’t show the sweatshirt option made up at all, it’s only there when you look at the line drawings.
I’ve made the Bento Tee twice before here and here, so had a fair idea of the fit I was going to get. For this sweatshirt, I made a few minor design changes: I cut the back in one piece, not two, and lengthened it to get a high/low hemline happening. I also made splits in the side seams. The only fit change I made was to lengthen the sleeve by 5cm.
It wasn’t until after I cut out the shirt, that I decided to use the reverse loop side on the outside of the front – I’d seen this done on a Roxy sweatshirt, last time I was in a surf shop with my kids (and embarrassing them no end by closely investigating the inside of garments that caught my eye. Hey, just doing  my job J). Heathered grey is not the greatest look against my skin, though, so I’ll definitely have to wear this with some sort of scarf in real life.
The nylon/merino fabric is light  but beautifully  soft and cosy, perfect for the local version of winter.

And lastly, because it’s been a while since he’s appeared on the blog, a cameo from Dash:

Saturday, June 13, 2015

MBM - Sewaholic Granville fitted shirt

Every day is Casual Friday in  my job. In winter, this means I normally wear jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt and jacket of some sort. It wasn’t long before I started to think of the long sleeve shirt option as a way of mixing things up a bit.
I haven’t had much history with the long-sleeve shirt in my wardrobe, in either the me-made or RTW form. Well, nothing at all in the me-made form.  I bought three classic long sleeved shirts from Thomas Pink in London in the mid nineties. I still have them, but rarely  never wear them, despite the wonderful fabric and finish, and the classy French cuffs. Their shape decrees they be tucked in, and being of the short waisted persuasion, I’ve never felt all that comfortable with tucked in tops, even when I was at my skinniest.
I bought the Grainline Archer when it first came out, but haven’t gone there because on reflection I decided I really needed a fitted shirt . The boxy cut of the Archer wouldn’t be all that a great a look on my Cello body type, at least not in a cotton.(It might be ok in a crepe de chine, or something similarly flowing)
Then, last year I bought Vogue 8689 , in a Spotlight $5 sale, but when I researched the pattern I found a lot of  lukewarm reviews on it.  Mainly, issues with the bust fit. So no go there.
Then Sewaholic brought out the Granville: at last,  a shirt pattern  that ticked all the boxes. Onwards and upwards!
This is a cotton lawn I bought on a trip to Bali. I had passed this fabric wholesaler on a street not far from where we were staying for nearly a week before I realised what it was. My fabric shop antennae weren’t working very well there it seems. If you are ever in Bali, it was on the corner of Jalan Nakula and Jalan Legian in Seminyak. It had a security guard post out front, not something I’d never seen in a fabric shop before. It mainly stocked brightly coloured rayons, but there were a few nice cottons to be had at very nice prices!
I really have enjoyed the Sewaholic patterns I’ve made in the past, and this one was no exception. Sewaholic positions itself as a pattern company with the pear-shaped figure in mind, but I’ve never found difficulty with fitting their patterns. For sure, I always go down a size in the hip measurement with Sewaholic (in every other pattern company I go up a size), but apart from that, no issues. So, if the pear shaped thing puts you off Sewaholic – don’t let it!
The fit of this shirt was pretty straightforward. I made an FBA, and dropped the bust dart. I added 5cm length to the body and  3cm to the sleeve.
The sleeve fit warrants special mention. I found it drafted especially slim. I normally add width to the bicep – generally 2.5cm. This time after measuring, I added 4cm to the bicep and the elbow area, and boy am I glad I did. It could probably stand to be even a little wider. There is no pleat at the cuff area, I’m wondering if I should add width and a pleat in future versions to address this? Any thoughts?
The main reason I bought this pattern were princess seams  in the back which made fitting my swayback a breeze. Love the princess seam.
My favourite point of pickiness with patterns is wearing ease. I'm pleased to report that the ease on this pattern is spot on! Go, Sewaholic, you rock!!

This project was only the second time  I’ve attempted a collar and stand, and the first time I’d give  a placket and cuff a go. I did some research and redrafted the collar and cuff, so that the seams were offset and took away layers of fabric from the corners you need to have nice and pointy. I’ll show you what I mean in a future post.
I also enrolled in the Classic Tailored Shirt class on Craftsy, and adopted some of the methods Pam Howard outlined there – mainly sewing the yoke and flat felling  some of the seams. I didn’t flat fell the sleeve seam on this one, but in future versions I’ll attempt one.
I give myself a pass mark on sewing this shirt with all it’s fiddly parts – there are one or two instances of slightly dodgy sewing, but the small busy print does a great job of hiding what needs to be hidden! There’s a tip for first timers in the shirt making game.
I’m very happy with how this has turned out, as my first foray into shirtmaking. There is no getting around the fact that shirtmaking is time-consuming but the upside of having no particular wardrobe gaps to fill is that I could take my time, which  I did. An hour or so sewing on most days over two weeks got me to the finish line.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Breaking a sewing drought - Measure Twice Cut Once Darcy boxers x 2

So I’ve had a little hiatus from the blog for various reasons:
a)            Holidays!
b)            A month long breakdown in my internet connection (egh, don’t get me started on that one – hello Skymesh and the NBN!!), which had me reduced to reading blogs on my phone. And while I was reading blogs, I wasn’t commenting much either– I find typing on my phone something I only do under sufferance. And I always have to find my glasses to do it anyway. Which I keep losing.
c)           I readily admit that (b) is a bit of a furphy, really, because even if I did having a working internet connection, I wouldn't have much content to post due to a persistent  sewing fog settling over the last few months.  I’ve endeavoured to lift this lately with a an easy boxer short make for each the teenagers.

I used Measure Twice, Cut Once’s Darcy boxer pattern to make a pair of boxers each for my son and daughter.

You can see Maria Denmark Olivia muscling in on the right of the photograph

This is a free pattern, and I would have to say that I am very impressed with it.  The draft is good, the amount of ease allowed is spot on and the construction mimics RTW boxers. There are slightly different versions for men (longer, button up fly, exposed elastic waist)  and women (shorter, side vent, mock fly ). The instructions are comprehensive and easy to follow. Altogether a good sewing experience, capped off by the fact that I used remnants from other projects to make these. Game, set , match.

My daughter’s  boxers on the left  are the last of a cotton lawn I used on this Liesl & Co Weekender Blouse .  My son’s  boxers on the right are made from the silk/cotton remnants of my  Sewaholic Yaletown make of last year. Both were wrestled out of constant wearing rotation to get this photo taken, and requests have been made for further boxers.My husband has been looking plaintively at me too.

I am pleased to report that since making these boxers, the sewing drought seems to have broken somewhat and I've been sewing some more lately.  More sewing posts should not be too far off in the future.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

MBM - Burdastyle 09-2011-128, in Liberty print

A couple of years ago, I made Burdastyle 09-2011-128, a sleeveless blouse with neckline pleats in cotton pique. I didn’t wear it much, but over the past few months, it suddenly makes sense in my wardrobe.  I’ve been wearing it a lot and I don’t know why.  Has this ever happened to you?
Anyway, it was time to make another..

Some random thoughts on this make:
·         This project reminded me of one reason I keep a blog. There was no record anywhere of what I encountered in making the first blouse. I didn’t even keep the pattern pieces, which is uncharacteristic of me. I was starting from scratch, albeit with a finished blouse to refer to.
·         Going on my hazy memory and the fit of the first blouse, I made an FBA, and slashed and spread the back and front to deal with a slightly high armseye.
·         This pattern is drafted very long. The photo in Burdastyle shows the model with this blouse  tucked in. Where all that fabric is going, I have no idea.

·         I didn’t have enough fabric to add a 4cm hem, so I did without and planned to use bias binding to make the hem. Didn’t need it. I ended up cutting off 10cm from the length to get to this length, which is still pretty long.
·         I don’t remember dealing with a lot of ease on the first blouse. I did with this. There is certainly more than I have on the first blouse. I took out about 10cm from the side seams, and it is still too loose for my taste. Slightly underwhelmed by this, but on the other hand it will be the sort of loose and airy garment for hot, humid days.
·         Since I had the same experience with my last project, the Colette Patterns Laurel, I wonder if it is time to measure myself again?
·         This blouse could really do with a CB seam, but I didn’t want to interrupt the pattern. It’s a bit blousy at the back.
·         This fabric was a Liberty cotton I purchased from Tessuti just over a year ago. I bought it because of the finely detailed peacock feather print. I love it.

  • The pattern match isn't too bad, given I was really eking this blouse out of the fabric I had.
·         I spotted this fabric in a shirt worn by the character played by Chris O’ Dowd in the movie Cuban Fury. I was very excited. It is the only thing I remember about that film. (I tried to find a picture on the net. Couldn’t. You’ll just have to trust me on that one. From memory it is in a scene at a dance club toward the end.)
·         I’m wearing this with denim capris I found at Vinnies. They cost me $3, brand new with tags. That find was also very exciting. I’m easily excited.

So readers, do you:
  • Dutifully measure yourself before every project, or wing it like me?
  • Get excited when you spot a fabric from your stash out in the real world or in the movies?Have any good "spots"to share?

Let me know!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

MBM - Colette Patterns Laurel in Tuscan Print

Want to know how to kickstart a flagging sewing mojo?  Simple. Enrol in a course of non-sewing study, that has a steady stream of assessments. Then watch how irresistible the pull of the sewing machine becomes. Eureka! Sewing mojo found!
This Tuscany dress project has been on the to-do list for quite a while, and uses both pattern and fabric that have been in the stash for even longer. Naturally, given I had two assessments due on the same day last week, I had to make this dress IMMEDIATELY.
The Tuscan border print cotton was purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics in 2009. I love Italian painted pottery, and this print reminds me of that.  
I made 02-2011-101 from Burdastyle in this fabric in pre-blog days. I only wore the dress once, enough time for me to realise I look ridiculous in a dirndl skirt. What was I thinking, seriously! I unpicked it, and scavenged the zip for this dress.
The Colette Patterns Laurel was purchased on its release in 2013. I muslined it at the time, but put aside for other projects that caught my attention.
There are three main pattern pieces, with bust darts in front, contour darts in back, invisible zip and bias binding at the neckline and sleeves: a simple project
I cut out a Size 8 bust, Size 10 waist and Size 12 hip according to my measurements. I then dropped the bust dart in front about 2cm, and made a full bust adjustment of about 1.5cm, my standard adjustment. I also added 15cm to bring it to my knee. The Laurel is short,and no one needs to see my knees.

I originally muslined this in a product called Trace and Toile which I got from Spotlight, which felt a bit like sew-in interfacing (for all I know it probably was sew-in interfacing) which had absolutely no drape. There was quite a bit of ease between bust and hip on the muslin, and the T and T made it stand out from my body in a very unattractive fashion. It was here I lost interest in the project originally.
But the border print Tuscan print had been looking for a home for ages, and the Laurel was the best option in the pattern stash. Despite my lukewarm reaction to the muslin, its simplicity was ideal for the border print.
Before cutting out the fashion fabric, I made one alteration to address a high, tight armhole. I slashed and spread all the pattern pieces by one centimetre. The neckline was also a tad high, so I dropped it at centre front by 1.5 centimetres, but probably could have done with more here.
Pattern placement took a bit of time.  I duplicated the front pattern so I ended up with a full pattern piece, and made another back piece so I could place the two back simultaneously. I’m pretty happy with what I have achieved, although I had to cut out one sleeve again, when I realised I really should have centred the large motif. I had plenty of fabric so that wasn’t a problem.
I underlined the front and back pieces with cotton batiste to deal with the slight transparency of the fabric. This is the first time I’ve underlined anything, and it was pretty straight forward. There are lots of ways to go about it, but I used the method outlined in Barbara Talbert Weiland’s  Sewing Answer Book (as an aside this little sewing book is one of the best sewing references. It is only small, but is comprehensive. It also fits into the sewing cabinet trays, so I don’t need to leave the sewing machine when I need to remind myself how to go about a technique mid-sewing session) . After cutting out both fabric and underlining, I glue basted the two pieces together at the vertical seams and the shoulder seam (didn’t bother with the neckline and armhole), using No More Pins glue. I love that stuff. Then I machine-basted the through the centre of the darts, and I was away.
With only three pattern pieces, this is a simple sew, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t time consuming. I sewed the scavenged zip in first, then after sewing the shoulder seams, I spent quite a bit of time experimenting with how much to take in the side seams. It ended up being quite a bit.  I reckon I could have cut a straight size 8, because I ended up taking in about 2 inches from the waist, and 4 inches from the hip down. So there is quite a lot of ease there, up there with the best the Big 4 have to offer.
Then, unfortunately, taking the dress in so much made it a bit cumbersome to put on/take off the dress, as the scavenged zip wasn’t quite long enough. It would be a deal breaker if I didn’t fix this, so I had to unpick the zip and back seam and start again with a longer zip. I’m glad I did.
Not being much of a dress wearer until I started sewing for myself, this is the first shift dress I’ve had in my wardrobe since the shift dress we wore for sport in Year 7. True. I feel quite comfy in this dress, so I’m confident there will be more.
I still have a bit of sewing to do on this: the hook and eye above the zip. Sewing hooks and eyes always makes my own eyes roll back in my head. I think it’s because they feel so impossibly tiny in my impossibly large hands. I just feel clumsy when I sew them, and I always do a dodgy job, no matter how hard I try. Sigh.
What about you? Do you have a sewing task you love to hate?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

MBM - Simplicity 1419

Well this make has had a bit of a tortured history, let me tell you. I’ll try and keep it brief.
This project started with my daughter Amelia pointing out the Fit and Flare Halter dress, a variation on the shift dress in Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, as a dress she would like for Christmas. This is the dress in question.
                                        This shift dress is redrafted to make this "fit and flare"dress:

I was kind of keen to make this project after I had written a review of GSVC on the blog, and was on the fence about it, reserving judgement until I’d actually made one of the patterns. Here was the opportunity to put it to the test.
Well, I found trying to convert a French darted shift dress into a dress with a fitted bodice and half circle skirt proved way more problematic than I needed just before Christmas.  I wrestled with it for  a while with little progress. Before too long,  I cut my losses and binned the muslin. The final verdict on GSVC will just have to wait.
I reckon I can pinpoint the recent loss of sewing energy to right about here.
After a lot of reproachful looks and sighs about the non-existent “Christmas dress” in the New Year, I then went looking for another pattern. I came up with Simplicity 1419, a Lisette pattern, which had a similar silhouette to the Gertie dress, with a fitted bodice and swingy skirt, and the all important Peter Pan collar.
                                                             As an aside the jacket in this pattern is pretty sweet too!

So after a six week hiatus from the sewing machine, at last I was back to the sewing machine.
Fitting the bodice taught me a lot.To explain, I haven't sewn a lot for my daughter. I made the Colette Truffle dress over 18 months ago, but she has grown quite a bit since then, so in fitting her I was starting from scratch in coming to terms with her fitting issues. It might sound obvious, but it taught me that my own fitting issues have no particular application when it comes to fitting my daughter. Surprises, hey? 
I found our measurements are actually pretty similar, but the fitting challenges are wholly different.  To put it in a nutshell, I almost always have to address fit around the bust, while I my backs generally benefit from a swayback adjustment. With Amelia , the issues are all about the back. The front of this bodice fit nicely with only minimal tweaking , while  the back was a hot mess.
I’ll spare you a blow-by-blow account of the fitting alleys I stumbled around trying to unlock the mystery of the back fit.  A broad back adjustment of about 3cm overall went some way to improving things.  However, Amelia was still complaining that the muslin was choking her. I fiddled around with the neckline, to no avail. It wasn’t until I was on to the third muslin, when I had an "a-ha!” moment.  I was studying Fit for Real People searching for clues,  when I found it in the pages addressing the forward head.
Amelia, like a lot of the technology generation, has a forward head (aka “poor posture”), despite my constant nagging. This causes the front to ride up as the dress tries to borrow fabric to accommodate the accompanying high round back.  In addition, the shoulder seam was about 1cm too far back.
So  I slashed and spread a wedge across the high back adding about 2cm to centre back, which made all the difference. And then I repositioned the shoulder seam.
Kudos to Amelia for putting up with countless tryons, while I scratched my head and muttered. However, she drew the line at fitting photos. Pity, because I think they would have been interesting to a lot of people.
I should have made another muslin to check those changes, but didn’t. Having by this stage made three muslins, I wanted to crack on with the dress itself. Here it is: 

                                    Will someone please deal with those weeds in the pavement? Oh, that'd be me!

The main fabric was a polished cotton Amelia chose at Spotlight. It looks lovely on the roll and presses nicely, feels nice,  but seems to crumple as soon as you get it off the ironing board. The collar was from a silk/cotton blend I had in the stash.
The dress was pretty easy to put together. Instead of facings, I opted to make a self fabric lining for the bodice. I added interfacing to the neckline and armholes to give them a bit of support, and clean finished the hem with interfacing to beef it up. I also added cotton tape to the pocket openings and waistline seam.
Another style change was to sew the skirt about an inch higher than marked. The waistline seam seems to be slightly dropped on the pattern, and Amelia wanted  the skirt to sit on her waist.
I turned up an 8cm hem on this to bring it a length to please a nearly 15 year old. Amelia is about 5’10”, so it seems that there is plenty of length there in the pattern for an average height person.
I’m not overwhelmingly pleased with the resulting dress. It's ok but because this dress is so simple, there is no place to hide. To be specific:
1) The three muslins should have been four or more, because the fit still needs work, especially in back:

2) I wanted a nice, crisp collar, but opted for a too-stiff interfacing. I’ve always found choosing interfacing to be a bit hit and miss, and have been getting better, but I was way off the mark here.
3) There is a small button loop at the front neckline. I made it according to the instructions, but am not all that pleased with the result. It looks a bit chunky. If I was any good at them, I would have made a thread chain instead. Luckily, that collar does do a pretty good job covering it, so it isn't really noticeable.I just know it's there.
4) And lastly, that front slit. I pressed and graded, and pressed and graded again. I still didn’t get a nice clean opening. There is a bit of rippling there. This is the most disappointing bit.
None of these factors is bad enough to put the dress into the refashion pile. Overall, I give myself a pass. These are a few “could do better” details.

 Thank you Amelia for getting out of bed at 9am on a Saturday morning, and doing your hair so I could take photos for the blog. Love, Mum