Sunday, January 18, 2015

MBM - another Liesl + Co Bento tee, and self-drafted pants.

After the Pine-Lime Splice merino cardi wrap, and the Orange Fanta Style Arc Harper jacket in 2014, here is another junk-food themed make from 2014:  another Liesl + Co Bento tee in Licorice Allsorts chevron stripe. The fabric  was bought from Tessuti online a few months ago.  

This my second go at this tee. The first,  striped pocketed version I blogged here. This is a simpler version, without pockets.
The only hiccup with this project is that I only noticed that the stripe runs with the grain when I came to cutting out. Why would they print with the stripe going lengthways? Mysteries! Anyway, did I want vertical chevron stripes on this tee? No. So I just cut it out with the grain going horizontally, which may or may not affect the wear. Time will tell.
Altogether, this is a quick serger project, done in about 90 minutes from go to done. And the sewing-time:wear ratio has already been gratifying.

While I had black thread in the overlocker, I finally got around to sewing these pants that I cut out months ago. Another quick project, I don’t know what took me so long to get around to it. 
I drafted the pattern from my sloper, added an elastic waist, and vents at the side hem. The fabric is a stretch bengaline from Spotlight. I had a similar pair of RTW pants that I wore until they met  their end after an encounter a too-hot iron.

Probably won’t be wearing these pants too much in this tropical-hot weather we’ve been having lately. Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of bengaline – it has a plastic-y feel that I can only tolerate if it is coolish. But the stretch does have its advantages,  which outweight the less-than-perfect tactile qualities of bengaline.

After a good six weeks away from the sewing machine, I've just started my first project for 2015 - a dress I promised for my daughter before Christmas. I had no choice. Time was passing, my daughter was looking at me beseechingly. I just had to make a start, even though my enthusiasm has been at a low ebb. So I've moved my sewing machine to the little used dining room downstairs. My sewing room is in the loft of this house and it has been getting really hot in the afternoon and evening, my main sewing times.  Hopefully this move, along with the momentum of actually sewing something will help me restart my sewing energy.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Remake/Remodel - Simplicity 2246 Traveler dress to button front mini skirt

I haven’t been near the machine much lately so it’s time to delve into unblogged projects from 2014, while I try and kickstart the mojo for 2015.
Back in February 2014 I made my second Maria Denmark Edith Dress, using the very last of some very fabulous chambray look cotton I bought at Tessuti a long time ago. I’ve waxed lyrical about that fabric before on the blog, and will do so again – it was great stuff!
My first make with this fabric was a Simplicity 2246 Lisette Traveler shirtdress, in pre-blog days. Here’s my very first review on Pattern Review. I've written in that review that I had plans for another dress from this pattern, which never eventuated. Theoretically, I thought this would be perfect for me, but in practice it sat in my wardrobe – I probably only wore it twice. I think this because this dress is straight, with a belt being mandatory to give it some shape. I never found the right belt, and even if I did, I find belt-wearing problematic and uncomfortable with my short-waistedness. The collar was also a bit rough and ready. 
The Edith, another shirtdress but with more shaping, was a better choice for me.

(Amelia has placed an embargo on her head for this post, because she just didn't feel like brushing her hair)

I just did not wear this dress so it was a prime candidate for a wardrobe cull. First I cannibalised the buttons and put them on the Edith. And rather than charity shop the dress and farewell that amazing fabric forever, I decided to remake/remodel some of the dress into a button-front mini skirt for Amelia.
This was simply a matter of chopping off the bottom 55cm of the dress, gathering and making a waistband out of the last little remnant I had left. Then I made another buttonhole at the bottom of the skirt. Done.
I’ve remodelled the top half of the dress but still need to find buttons before I can blog it.

Meanwhile, would anyone like my used (traced not cut) Lisette Traveler pattern? I really like the style, just not for me, it could be yours though. Let me know by Friday this week. If I get more than one taker by then, well, you know the drill. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 - sewn and done

Zip-whoosh, that was the sound of 2014 done and dusted. 

Sewing-wise, it’s been a pretty good year. I haven’t sewn a lot. Just 32 garments in all – I’ve a couple of things unblogged and have spared you  my recent renditions of the Renfrew. The pleasing thing was that what I did sew was either useful, or something I really liked, or a satisfying sew, or all three. The only true wadder was the first attempt at the Maria Denmark Olivia Tee, in which I tried to sew a striped tee with fabric that had stretched off grain. It was never going to work, and it didn’t. Into the ragbag it went without delay.

The highlights of 2014 for me were:

Finding a comfortable dress

  The Maria Denmark Edith was my first make of the year, and I followed it up with another version shortly after. I love both my Ediths – the dress I wear when I don’t feel like wearing a dress.

Making a lined jacket 
I set myself a goal at the beginning of 2014 to make my first lined jacket and the Sewaholic Minoru was it. It ticked all the boxes – a successful sew, to make a jacket I wore a lot.

Wrestled McCalls 6441 into submission
Off the back of Minoru, I set about making another lined jacket, McCalls 6441.  I did whinge a lot on the blog and to McCalls themselves about the ridiculous amount of ease  and the laughably wrong finished pattern measurements. But I gritted my teeth,  and got a nice simple little jacket out of it in the end to wear for those infrequent occasions when a nice simple jacket is the ticket. Not the sewing experience of 2014, but in a perverse way, satisfying.
I’m still never going near a McCalls pattern again, though.

 Liesl + Co Girl Friday culottes

I loved them in 1989, and in 2014 love them still. Making these culottes necessitated some quick sewing to make some matching tops, but once I did, the love affair has rekindled. Just as comfy and practical as I remember (although slightly sobering to realise that I am at an age when I remember fashions the first time around. Eek.)

The last few months have had slim pickings on the sewing front for many reasons – seasonal craziness (my theory is that time goes to double speed once the Melbourne Cup is run until Christmas), another prolonged bout of viral vertigo (the second this year) and just the general feeling of not needing or wanting anything particular. I’m pretty happy with my wardrobe. I don’t often have “what will I wear” moments, which in the past has been a big prompt for me to sew. I see lots of possibilities, lots of patterns I like, but at the moment am not itching to sew them. Strange.

I’m not going to set myself any particular sewing goals in 2015. It’s shaping up to be an interesting year: we’ve just bought a block of land and will probably start the building process this year, and I am returning to study (part-time, still working). Time will be short. We’ll just have to see how things pan out .

Thanks to everyone who takes time to comment in 2014.  We sewing bloggers share such a wonderful, rich interest. I love reading so many sewing blogs, and I enjoy putting together the little contribution I make.

Happy 2015 to all.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Traps for players - and the resulting GIVEAWAY!!!

A couple of weeks ago I was idly clicking through the Book Depository website, paying special attention to the sewing books section (as you do) when I came across this:

         Sew your own stylish clothes with this fabulous Japanese sewing book. Are you a DIY sewer,            with a passion for Japanese style? Look no further, "Happy Homemade: Sew Chic" is the                    Japanese Sewing book you've been waiting for--all new simple and timeless creations of                      Yoshiko Tsukiori, popular Japanese fashion designer and author of "The Stylish Dress Book,"             now available in English in the United States. "Happy Homemade: Sew Chic" features 20                   flexible sewing patterns that boast authentic Japanese style created simply--by you. Etc. etc…

I immediately sat up in my chair. This was up my alley! I already have The Stylish Dress Book and Happy Homemade Treasured Collection No, 1 by the same author, and really like them. Another book by the same author -- even though there was no cover picture on the website the blurb was enough for me.  In no time I’d clicked through to checkout and waited patiently for the book's arrival.

I really wish there was a cover photo now, I might have cottoned on. As soon as I opened the package I was deflated. Here is the cover, which seemed awfully familiar.

That would be because I already have this pattern in Happy Homemade No. 1 Treasured Collection ,  Here's that book alongside Sew Chic:

And here's the pattern in Treasured Collection:

It didn't take long to see that Sew Chic is a re-publishing of Happy Homemade. All the patterns are the same. Only the title and cover have been changed. And what about that red herring "all new" in the blurb? I bought this about three years ago! Nothing to indicate that it is a re-publishing on the Book Depository website. I think I might send them a whingey email.

My disappointment though, is your gain. This is a great book  and there is no point at all in keeping this,  so I’m looking to send this on with love to a new home. Just make a comment before Sunday 21 st December midnight. I'll get it in the post on Monday, and with a lot of luck you'll have it by Christmas,. Or else you'll get it in the Christmas/New Year suspended animation time - perfect time to knock out an easy project.

Edited later: Sewingelle - Sew Chic is yours! Email me at pngall at shoal dot net dot au and I'll post it'to you.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

MBM - Liesl + Co Bento Tee

After making the Liesl + Co Girl Friday culottes I was in need of tops to go with them. First, I made a Grainline Scout Woven Tee in batik . And now I’ve made another Liesl  + Co pattern, the recently released Bento tee.
I didn’t put much creative thought into fabric selection for this one. Here’s my tee:

Here’s the Liesl + Co pattern photograph:

Spot the difference! Not a lot.
Bloggers will recognise this fabric as the Tessuti Jaywalk fabric from their competition earlier this year. That fabric went everywhere, didn’t it? And why not? A good quality knit in classic stripe for a great price. You can’t go wrong. I bought four metres and wish I'd bought more.
Anyway, this stripe is made for this design.
I cut according to my bust measurement on this, and didn’t do an FBA as is normal. There was plenty of ease there to accommodate my bust. I graded out at size for my waist and hip. I also didn’t lengthen, which is what I usually do.

With the Girl Friday culottes

The tee is a bit different in the little pockets which remind me of the pockets on  the Vogue 1247 skirt. They were easy to do. I interfaced the fold, but am still getting pocket droop there. That doesn’t bother me. You might want to put a bit of twill tape on the fold to beef it up if it bothers you.
Overall, this is an easy sew. I like how this is described as a box tee, but it's not overly boxy. This pattern also has a long sleeve for a more of a sweatshirt look – I think I’ll start looking for some suitable fabric to make this version.

And lastly, have a look at my new brooch. Nic featured an Erstwilder dachshund brooch  on her blog a little while ago. I had to have one! I started looking around for stockists of Erstwilder brooches online. Meanwhile, my husband, knowing  I was in the market for dachshund brooches, saw this on in a local store, and bought it as a surprise. He’s a top bloke. And he loves dachshunds too. 

Did anyone mention the word "dinner"?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A bit of a book review - Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

The other day I saw Gretchen Hirsch’s new book “Gertie Sews Vintage Casual” (GSVC)  in the window of my local craft shop, Sew and Tell. And well, as is often the case with sewing books, I had to buy it even though I’m not that into vintage. Well, my reasoning is that I need to make sure Sew and Tell knows there is a market for these books locally, so they keep stocking I can buy them. This is purely selfless, I’m doing the local sewing community a service. Seriously.
“Gertie Sews Vintage Casual” (GSVC) has the same, format, look and structure as the Gertie’s first book “Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing” (GNNBS) . A spiral bound book, in two parts. The first part focuses on inspiration, fabric information, and skills. GSVC has a chapter on knits, as there are three knit patterns in this volume. The second part covers the patterns: eight in all, with instructions on how to vary your pattern to achieve different looks.
Here’s a rundown of what you get for your money, pattern-wise:
40s style blouse – a blouse with two dart tucks front and back, collar and patch pocket, short sleeve with cuff. Variations: sleeveless blouse with tucks converted to darts; zip front long sleeve bomber jacket.
Half circle skirt – a skirt in four pieces with facing. One main pattern piece for skirt pieces front and back. Variations: short A-line skirt; a quilted skirt cut with pattern piece placed on the fold, this skirt is featured on the cover; topstitched skirt with pockets.
Knit sweetheart top – with cap or three quarter sleeves, bound neckline and pleats in centre front to form the sweetheart. Variations: scoop neck sweater; puff sleeve sweater, three quarter sleeve boat neck top.
Cigarette pants – darted, faced waist pants with front hip pockets and cigarette leg.Variations: 40s wide leg pants with waistband and cuffs; pedal pushers; flared shorts; sailor shorts; and jeans with relaxed leg and topstitching.
Easy knit pencil skirt – a tube skirt in two pieces with hidden elastic waist. Variations: flared skirt with gores and waistband; A-line mini skirt
Pin up sweater – a round neck sweater sized for sweater knits. Variation: cropped sweater with button trim; button-front round neck cardigan.
Shift dress – with Peter Pan collar, French darts and all in one facing. Variation: flared summer dress (combination shift dress/half circle skirt pattern); swing top.
Wrap dress – shawl collar wrap dress with waist seam, forward shoulder seam with gathers, gathered  skirt. Variations: one shoulder romper, with bodice of wrap dress drafted with one shoulder combined  with shorts pattern ; Jumpsuit using the wrap dress bodice and pant pattern.
Zip front dress – short kimono sleeve top with zip front and flared skirt from above pattern. Variation: sailor blouse.
Halter – sweetheart neckline halter neck top with bra cups, side panel elastic shirring and boning. Variation  - a romper, halter pattern with shorts.

Stylewise, this is a bit of a mixed bag for me. Some of the patterns appeal,some don't. To be expected.

Gertie writes that the patterns are a lot simpler than the array of patterns provided in GNBBS, which featured patterns for more formal and dressy  occasions that were identifiably vintage.   The separates patterns are indeed simple and it seems to me that most of the patterns would not look out of place in a modern catalogue. The vintage element kicks in with styling and fabric choice. This is not necessarily a criticism.  Vintage is not everyone’s  thing.  If it isn’t yours, there is plenty of potential for some nice makes out of GSVC.
The dresses and halter offer more challenging sews for those who have progressed beyond beginner projects, especially the zip front dress which has the front and back bodice, and kimono sleeve cut in one piece. No shoulder seam. I think the dress is kinda cute but yikes! Fitting alert! Make a muslin!
The clothes are photographed on a variety of models (not just Gertie, as in the first book) against a flat background. While the photography isn’t a reason to buy this book, it doesn’t bother me as much as a lack of technical drawings. A tech drawing is worth a thousand words, and personally, I always check out the technical drawings to help in making a decision as to whether I will make a particular pattern. Without technical drawings I had to read the pattern blurb, go to the back to check out what  the pattern pieces look like, and in some instances read the instructions to get a sense of the technical aspects of the pattern.  Irritating, when a simple drawing gives you so much information.
The book is written in Gertie’s chirpy, chatty style which is a pleasure to read. The first section of GSVC mirrors the first section of GNNBS in a lot of ways, but it not a direct copy. Common topics have been rewritten for GSVC.  I’ve delved into this section on GNNBS, and will probably do the same with the knit chapter in this book.
Bottom line time: should you buy this book? If you are a vintage junkie, I think Gertie’s first book was a lot more interesting, and aspirational. However, the fact that the patterns in GSVC are more classic is not necessarily bad thing, especially to those who aren’t into the vintage aesthetic overly much.  If it sounds as if I’m in the middle of the road on this book, it’s because I am.

Maybe though, the final word on whether books of this nature are worth our money  is in how the patterns perform. On this score,  I haven’t made anything yet, but I have plans to make the shift dress for my daughter. And maybe the 40s style blouse for me.   So I'll reserve my final judgement as to whether GSVC has been a worthwhile investment until after I've completed these projects. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

MBM - Sewaholic Patterns Yaletown, the blouse version

This is a wearable muslin for a dress I had in mind for wedding guest wear. More on that later. First
to the pattern.

This is the latest pattern from Sewaholic. It is a faux wrap dress, with elastic waist, flutter sleeves and tie belt.

I liked the soft silhouette, great for a garden wedding I thought. And I do enjoy a flutter sleeve (I used to work with a boss who never  “liked” something. He always “enjoyed” it. This unusual example of English usage has lodged itself into my brain, and resurfaces every so often, even after 17 years).
The fabric is a silk/cotton blend I bought in Cabramatta a long time ago. It was cheap, from what I remember. It’s been sitting in the stash, because I was never quite sure how to wear that pink-and-red print. Anyway, it’s cheapness makes it a perfect wearable muslin candidate.
I cut an 8 at bust, grading to a 12 at waist and hip. I did a 1” FBA, using the Sandra Betzina “pop” technique which does away with the resulting dart from more usual FBA methods. I lengthened both the peplum and sleeve by 1”.

It was an easy sew. I mostly followed the instructions, apart from doing French seams on the side and shoulder seams. If I made it again, I might replace the facing with a binding, though. That's just personal preference though. This facing is topstitched down, so none of my favourite pet hate, floppy facings, here!

I’m wearing this with my recently made Named Clothing Cameron Flare Pants (you can just make them out). The best part of this outfit is that I am living my childhood dream of wearing pink, red, and purple together.
 So back to the wearable muslin thing.
The Sewaholic Yaletown  was Plan B for my brother’s wedding. Plan A was to make a dress from May 2014 Burdastyle  to wear with a wrap I have, as I wrote about here. Search as I might, I could not locate the fabric to make my plans happen. I envisaged a particular turquoise blue, which I could not find anywhere, and wasn’t in the mood for compromise. Time for another tack.  So I went stash shopping and found this silk/rayon chiffon that was a suitable dressy event candidate. Yaletown came out about the same time. Bingo. I had a plan.

So I had the fabric and China silk lining gelatined* and ready to go. It was literally on the cutting table with the pattern pieces in place, scissors poised. But with 8 days to go until I needed to wear this dress, I baulked.  This is why:
  1. I realised I had neither the time given everything else going on in my life in that 8 days, nor the mental space  to make this dress, especially considering this was to be my first foray into silk chiffon sewing.
  2. The print suddenly struck me as frumpy, especially paired with this particular pattern. When I asked my husband his opinion on this, his response was “yes,  possibly” which I took to mean “yes “. More than anything, this was a sign that perhaps this wasn’t a good idea. He is generally pretty positive about my plans. If he thinks it’s frumpy, it probably is.  

So there it was. If it hadn’t been for factor (2), I probably would have pressed on. But I’d lost my confidence to the point where I was stressed about the dress and hadn’t even cut it out, let alone sewed a stitch. On balance, I decided to skip it, especially as I already had a RTW lurking in the wardrobe that would do the wedding job just fine.
Instant relief!
I’m guessing this scenario is a common one with people who sew. Over the last few years, I’ve got to the place where I make most of what I wear. The only RTW I’ve bought in recent times is exercise gear and underwear. So I am in the mindset that if I wear it, I make it.
This project helped me realise that just because I could make it, doesn’t mean I have to make it, every time, all the time.
I am not meaning to imply that I’m never up for a challenging sew. But I definitely have to be in the right frame of mind, with no time pressure and have 100%,or at least 95%, confidence in what I am setting out to achieve.
So will this Yaletown dress ever get made? Maybe, but not in silk chiffon. More likely a soft cotton  or rayon that will get more frequent wear, in a suitable print.
Will I ever sew that silk chiffon? Who knows? I don’t know if I’m a silk chiffon type of person, actually.
Now I’m off to make a t-shirt!

(*the gelatin trick for light and airy fabrics really does work!)