Sunday, September 13, 2015

MBM - another Sewaholic Granville in Liberty

After making two previous Granvilles here and here, I felt confident enough to make yet another Granville with  some Liberty cotton I’d bought at the last Tessuti online sale in late June.
Unfortunately, that purchase wasn’t quite what I’d hoped, as sometimes happens with online shopping. The colour of the fabric on the monitor looked orangey. When it arrived, it was more pink – not a colour that I wear a lot of. Disappointing, as even at sale prices, Liberty isn’t cheap.  (That order was ill-starred, as I also ordered a length of linen in a colour described as “Denim”. The colour on the monitor looked mid-blue. The colour denim Tessuti was thinking about when they named this linen was a sky-blue . Sigh.)
Anyway, the pinkish Liberty grew on me, so I proceeded with the Granville.
I’d love to say that on the third try, this Granville came together quickly and easily. It did not. The light and airy Liberty cotton was more difficult to deal with that either the cotton or linen I had used before. It didn’t take kindly to being fashioned into the precision details of a shirt, but with the constant use of the seam ripper I came up with an acceptable shirt in the end.
Ok, enough of the long-sleeved Granvilles! There is at least one sleeveless version in the offing for summer, then I will be putting that pattern to bed. It’s such a classic pattern, though, I’m sure I will return to it at some stage.
The stash sees the light of day
In other sewing news, I rearranged my stash! Exciting stuff! I don’t have a big stash, really. It fits in four large bins, and lives in a cedar wardrobe that belonged to my in-laws. To date, I’ve “filed” my fabric by colour. After dragging everything out, charity shopping some shockers, I’ve rearranged to fabric into the four bins as follows: Lights, Darks, Special Occasion/Miscellaneous and Ready Use, in which I’ve put all the fabrics I have plans for summer sewing. I’ve also put all the patterns I intend to use in with the fabric. I’m hoping this system will circumvent my tendency to procrastinate – the thought of locating a particular fabric and pattern is often a good enough reason f or me  to go and find something else to do.
The other exciting thing about sorting the stash was that I found a pashmina scarf I thought I’d lost – it was in a paper bag with a fabric I’d bought just on a year ago. I’d searched for it this winter, and had come to the conclusion it was a goner. But there it was, in time for summer. No matter, I’m just glad to have it back.
Nest, with swallow tail poking out for good measure
Back on the ranch..spring has definitely sprung, and the swallows have returned. We have a swallow nest in the gable above our front door which I am a bit superstitious about after my mother told me that nesting swallows are the sign of a happy home (according to legend in her part of Italy at least). The swallows built this nest about five years ago, and it has stayed there ever since, even though the blighters do make a mess of the front step. I’ve read that the local swallows spend winter in the Northern Territory, then return to their nests in Southern climes in spring. And they pair up for life.  This pair have spent the last week or so doing renovations, and it looks like Mum is now sitting on eggs.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

MBM - Style Arc Misty Pull-on Jean

To tell you truth,  the idea of Style Arc's Misty Pull-On Jean didn't excite me at first. I read "Pull-on jean"and thought "jeggings", then wondered if someone at my time of life was doing themselves a huge favour by wearing them.  
Then again, as someone whose waist measurement is capable of expanding and contracting alarmingly  as I watch, the elasticised waist has it’s attractions.  Then Style Arc offered the pattern bundled with the appropriate yardage of stretch bengaline and elastic for only $30. I figured if I hated them, I would have invested time but  not too much money…
First off I was impressed by the feel of the bengaline. I’d read good things about Style Arc bengaline, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve only sewn Spotlight bengaline before, and this one had a much nicer hand. And the petrol colour I had chosen was pretty close to what I expected.

Worn with Grainline Scout Woven Tee, blogged here and Simplicity 2603, made pre-blog

The yardage provided was bang on what was needed for this pattern, so there was not much room for extra  wide seam allowance insurance, or to accommodate stuffups, so I had to be on my toes. Of course, I made a mistake during cutting. I added 3cm to the length of the pants,  but when I came to cut out one leg.. I started to cut one at the provided length. Fortunately  I realised before I finished, so I only snipped into the leg about an inch, an inch I had to doctor with a bit of interfacing and some discreet  zig zag stitches.
Apart from adding length, the only thing I changed was adding about an inch to the back crotch hook, which is an adjustment I automatically make to pants to accommodate my rounded backside.
Putting these pants together was largely stress free. The only tiresome thing was changing between a universal needle to stitch and a twin needle for the topstitching. Even with this to and fro, the pants didn’t take all that long to put together.
The elastic on the pants is doubled up, and sewn on as is, which is a construction technique I haven’t used before. It certainly precludes tucking in, which is not something I do anyway. It is easy to achieve, but I’m not sure I’d do it again – I think I’d make a casing if I make these pants again.
The other thing I’d do is add a bit to the back curve. It sits a bit low for my liking.

Having started out a bit not entirely sold by the idea of a pull on jean, I have to say the construction was stress free, but I’m a bit unsure of the result. On one hand, my teenage daughter and husband have given the pants the thumbs up. They are also super-comfortable, as promised.  While I think this has potential to be a handy garment, until I get my head around how to style them, and maybe make some tops to go with them,  I think I’ll hold my final judgement.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Fabric stashing

For someone who thinks that one of the best bits of the whole sewing caper is hanging about in fabric stores, it is very sad that in the last 18 months or so I have barely been in one. That is apart from the odd purchase from Spotlight, which to my mind doesn't count. Which tells you a bit about the ambivalent attitude I have to that store.
Anyway, it has come to pass that in the last two weeks I have been to Sydney twice, and have managed fabric store visits on both occasions. And here is the best bit - these forays into fabric stores have been sans offspring. Amazing.
Before I went shopping I made a mental list of what I really needed:

  • Bottom weight fabrics - I'd just about come to the bottom of the stash here.
  • Knits, as always 
  • Denim - I really want to make both jeans and a denim jacket, so this was a priority.

In addition, I gave myself a stern talking to and told myself to stay away from:

  • Big floral prints
  • Cotton sateen
  • Silks
  • Anything obviously destined for formal wear

In short, I needed fabrics to make clothes that I wear every day.
Here is what I came out with:
 I've been wanting to make some activewear for a while, and finally got to visit Metro Textiles last week. I bought 2.5 metres each of cornflower blue and charcoal grey supplex, which should make a couple of pairs of tights and some coordinating tops for yoga and gym.

On the way to Tempe, I stopped off at Pitt Trading in Ramsgate. I normally have some success here, but not much caught my eye as being what I need for everyday wear. There were a lot of very nice fabrics for special things, and quite a lot of scuba knit. Not for me. I came away with two soft knits (possibly rayon? One thing about Pitt Trading is that not all it's fabrics are labelled) and a one metre remnant of shibori print stretch denim. I'll think of something to do with it.

On Friday I took the train into the city. I struck gold almost immediately I entered Tessuti with the stretch denim. There was 5 metres on the roll. I took all of it. Below is a medium weight linen in Charcoal grey to make some summer pants. Both are a lot darker than shown here.
 Still at Tessuti, a soft cotton twill for a summer shell top. Chocolate Ponti to make another pair of Anita Ponti pants. And lastly,  I had been looking at the zig zag print print on the roll, then turned around to find a two metre remnant on the remnant table for quite a lot less. Sold.

 At the Fabric Store I bought 2 metres each of merino knit. The white will probably end up as a long sleeved Renfrew. The mustard merino I am thinking may end up as a Sophie Cardigan by Muse patterns. For purple merino sweatshirting I am considering Paprika Patterns Jasper sweatshirt. Or maybe a zip-front Sophie. Lastly, the mustard corduroy is definitely pants material.

I am really happy with my haul. I have plugged some holes in the stash. Some were on sale, some not, but no buyers remorse here at all.

Meanwhile back at the sewing machine... I have made a dress recently, but it's been too cold to model it for the blog. Hopefully soon.

On the other hand, I have sewn my first true wadder in a long time with a Grainline Studio Morris Blazer. Ugh. I knew it would be boxy, but a less flattering garment would be hard to imagine. Despite careful measuring, I've made it far too big, with the shoulder sleeve seam hanging off the end of my shoulder, not helped by the heavy ponti I used. And the ponti did not want to be eased smoothly into the armhole and was impervious to all the tricks I normally use to set in sleeves. I attempted one sleeve three times with less than average results, but trying the garment on was enough to tell me that this is a project not worth persevering with. Which is a shame, because I had high hopes for this pattern. I might try it again at least two sizes smaller, with a lighter weight stretch woven and see what happens.

Lastly, back on the ranch, today the first of this year's lambs was born. A female who seems healthy, so far, touch wood. It is always a bit of a tense time when the lambs come. So many things can go wrong with feeding - sometimes the mums reject the lamb, some the mums are just clueless about staying still to feed, sometimes the lambs are a bit fragile. Or the mums get mastitis. Then there are the foxes to worry about. We have another two pregnant ewes, so we will go through nervous times with them too.

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.

Edited later to add: more versions of the Granville here and here.

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.