Sunday, February 7, 2016

MBM - useful Tessuti Kate

Two posts ago, I blogged about Tessuti Kate, made up in a textured cotton as a pj top. This was the wearable muslin for a shell top I had in mind, specifically to wear under my Tessuti Silva shirt-jacket.
So here it is..

This is View B of the pattern, which has a higher round neck and a faced back opening.
After making the pyjama top version, I made a few further fit changes:
  • ·        I added another 5cm in length, for an additional 10cm length addition overall from the original draft. I am 5’9” with a rather short waist, and I prefer my tops this length overall.
  • ·        I added another 1cm FBA, for a 2.5cm FBA overall (that is, each side).
  • ·        I lengthened the bust dart an inch.

The fabric is a cotton crepe voile that popped up on the Tessuti website in time for the recent on-line sale.  It was lovely fabric to work with, and had the amount of drape this top needs. I’ve come to  realise I can do slightly boxy shapes if the fabric has drape, so it doesn’t sit out too much from the body.

One thing that didn’t really occur to me before making this is bra-friendliness. This view has some potential  from bra-strap show, so a slight redraw of the shoulder line to add a bit of width is warranted in the next  iteration.

With Style Arc Tessa pants
I also have in mind another version of Kate with sleeves.  I’ve never added sleeves to sleeveless patterns before, so I’m off to investigate. I know Sandra Betzina addresses this in Fast Fit – anyone know of any other resources out there to help me on my way?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

MBM - Maggie + Mabel

First of all, doesn't Maggie + Mabel sound like a chi-chi childrenswear label?  If you are a childrenswear designer in search of a name for your label, you are welcome to it, but remember you heard it here first!

Ok onto the sewing. This pair of projects, Colette Patterns Mabel and Tessuti Maggie, demonstrate the everyday ups and downs of sewing.
Let’s start with the Mabel:
Twice I’ve bemoaned the failure I had last year with the Grainline Morris blazer, made in grey ponti knit. Gee, I was disappointed , made worse by the fact it almost seemed sacriligeous to turf the project, with perfectly good fabric, out altogether.
Anyway, I started thinking, as you do, that maybe, I might be able to scrounge a Mabel skirt out of it. I’d made the Mabel before, so it was just a matter of pulling the jacket apart (no mean feat as I hate unpicking stitches in knits) and seeing if the pattern pieces of the Mabel could be accommodated.
The back of the blazer became the front of the skirt, the fronts of the blazer became the back pieces. The sleeves did not accommodate the waistband pieces, so I decided to the make a wide elastic sandwich, as I did on my Misty pants. Blind hem. Done. The most time consuming part was unpicking the blazer. I’m overjoyed that I saved this fabric from a premature trip to landfill.This  ponti skirt will probably be put away until it is boots-and-tights weather. 
So, yay, victory of sorts snatched from the jaws of defeat.

Tessuti Maggie Tunic
The Tessuti Maggie is a  basic tunic pattern with bust darts, a shaped V slit neckline (I'm not sure how else to describe it), side slits, with mitred finish as seen on the Tessuti Kate, and slightly wide sleeves.
I made a few fit alterations, all normal for me – FBA, drop the bust dart, widen the sleeve by about an inch  (possibly too much) and lengthened by 5cm overall.
As I noted in the last post, Tessuti is very good at showing you how to do simple things to a high standard. In this case, it was sewing in the facing. Normally I’m no fan of the facing as too many seem to fly out. This one doesn’t, and is nice and flat (notwithstanding the slightly dodgy sewing at the point of the “V”, but I’ll take responsibility for that one. ) It seems the combination of using a 1cm seam allowance, and Vilene tearaway to sew in the facing makes a big difference. You might be interested to know that there is no clipping or grading involved in sewing the neckline at all.
Given that this is a nice pattern, it is a bit of a pity that the fabric I chose didn’t have the degree of drape it really needs. This is a cotton poplin I bought off the remnant table at Tessuti, and I love the chevrons and colours so I was keen to make it up. I thought the Maggie was was a good pattern to accommodate the pattern, but the hand doesn't really suit it..Sigh.
And then, I mucked up the pattern placement when I cut it out. (No this is not a case of ablogogising – just statement of fact!) I thought these busy chevrons would be  forgiving, but I was wrong.  They really demanded careful pattern placement for cutting. I would have been well advised to cut this out in a single layer, duplicating both back and front pieces to make full pieces, instead of cutting on the fold. I was slightly off in pattern placement, with the most irritating result being that the point of the “V” doesn’t line up with a chevron. 
I wore this tunic once to the beach, and was so conscious of the "v"pointing to the wrong place that I draped a cotton scarf around my neck to cover it up. Seems ridiculous, but I’m sure most of those reading this would and could relate.
I’m afraid that this version of Maggie is destined to be re-purposed, in the manner of the Morris to Mabel. I definitely would like to keep the fabric, as I  like it a lot. So the search for a suitable pattern for the chevrons continues. And I'm on the look out for fabric with drape for the Maggie.
BTW, I’m only wearing these two items together because they vaguely seem to go together and I sewed them one after the other. I would not wear them together IRL. 

If you appreciate a back view, here you go!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

MBM - Pyjamas, featuring Tessuti Kate top

First of all, I must say it feels slightly odd to be modelling  in my pyjamas for the blog. A bit less odd than modelling this swimsuit, but still..

I'm blending into the background a bit aren''t I?

I started on the pyjama pants back in April, after noting my favourite RTW pjs were heading inexorably for the rag bag.  But then the weather turned cool and I put them to one side. The fabric, both the main fabric and the contrast band fabric, came from Remnant Warehouse.
The pattern was traced from my pants block,
My favourite bit of these pants is the part you don’t see: the contrast fabric used on the inside of the elastic casing. I copied idea this from my RTWs.

Ok now onto the top. Since cutting out the pants I’d been looking around for a top pattern, and was on the verge of cutting out a Sorbetto, when Tessuti brought out the Kate: a woven sleeveless top with side splits. As I mentioned in the last post I’ve been looking to make some sleeveless tops to wear underneath cardigans and jackets, so thought I'd trial Kate as a pj top first. At first glance, there are similarities between Kate and Sorbetto, However, Kate has different shaping at the side seams, has a slightly curved front hem and different shaping around the back around the shoulder area. It is very different from the Sorbetto in fact.
I cut a Medium based on my measurements, then made a few standard adjustments for me: dropping the bust dart an inch, an FBA of about 3cm all up, and lengthening the pattern by 5cm. This top is described as being cropped, and they mean it!

What I really like about Tessuti patterns is that while they may be simple, they give you good instructions on how to sew touches that take the simplest garment up a notch. On this pattern it’s the instructions for the mitred side-splits. Normally the word “mitre” would have me quivering with anxiety, but the excellent instructions take you through step by step, and you end up with beautiful side splits. Love that.
One thing that was a little odd was that the piece for the neck binding was about 15cm too short. I’m pretty sure this is not user error, as there was only one piece for neck and arm binding for both Views A (this one) and B. So I had to sew on another piece of fabric to make the binding long enough. Just watch out for that one. (I emailed Tessuti to query this – perhaps it is user error after all -  but haven’t had a reply).
I was happy to use a small bit of bias binding I’d made in this Liberty print for the armholes. I think they blend in well.
The fit on this first version is ok but needs a few tweaks for the next version:

  • The bust dart is in the right place, but needs to be about an inch longer;
  • There are some slight draglines around the bust, which tells me I’ll need to make a bigger FBA next time
  • I’d like the length to be longer again - I'll probably add another 5 cm to the length. 

Sharon  has also made the Kate and observed that this pattern works best with a fabric with a bit of drape. I agree with her. This cotton is a bit too beefy, though good for pjs. I plan to make another very soon in crepe voile, which I think (hope) will be a better choice.

Monday, January 4, 2016

MBM - Style Arc Evie

I wrote in my last post, my 2015 wrap-up, that I tend to sew to plug holes in the wardrobe. The latest identified hole has been sleeveless tops to wear under jackets and cardigans.
To that end, here’s a nifty little sleeveless top pattern, Style Arc’s Evie, for knits.
I’m finding it hard to think of what to say about this pattern that isn’t obvious from the photos. What you see, is what you get, really: a loose, but not oversize, tank for knits, with bound neckline and armholes, with a bit of the high/low hemline happening. As straightforward a sew as you can ask for.
The only alteration I made to this pattern was to make an FBA. That’s it.
The walking foot did its job of keeping those stripes lined up. That foot was pricey, but every time I use it, I’m reminded it was worth every cent.
One other thing about this pattern is that it is the first knit pattern I’ve come across that instructs you to make a machine blind hem. I quite like a blind hem, and having done as I was told on this make, am a bit puzzled why it’s not used more often on knits. It worked really well here, and gets around the issue of tunnelling that you sometimes get when you use a twin needle on knits.
Style Arc Evie – a useful workhorse pattern. I’ve got some white cotton knit to make another soon.
With the Liesl + Co Girl Friday culottes
Stay tuned for Tessuti Kate, a sleeveless top pattern for wovens, which I have just muslined up to wear as a pj top…

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 wrap up

I always enjoy reading yearly sewing wrap-ups. If you like them too, here’s mine for 2015:
 I’ve had a somewhat quiet sewing year in 2015. A quick look at the blog archives shows that this is only the 19th post of the year, quite a lot down on the previous two years of the blog’s existence. There are two reasons for this: one is I haven’t sewn as much this year. The low productivity rate sits ok with where I am at with my wardrobe. I tend to sew to plug holes in the wardrobe (though not always), and after 7 or so years of sewing, I find I have more clothes than I will ever wear out in the near future. (An aside: My me-mades seem to last so much longer than most RTWs – better quality fabrics and stitching I guess. Plus, now I have some idea of how to make things fit, I don’t have many that get tossed due to fit reasons.) So not sewing as much isn’t a major cause of angst, although it does make for a quiet blog. C’est la vie.
The other reason my blog has been fairly quiet is my increasingly rubbish internet connection. Seriously. Even though I live only 15 minutes from a major regional centre, we rely on satellite internet here, and the speeds we get are getting slower, and slowe….er and s…l…..o….w….e…..r. Netflix? In my dreams.  So I tend to blog, only when I have something to say, and can get up early enough to say it. If I wait until after about 9.00am most days, forget it.
( If you are wondering, the NBN promises no improvement long term, in my opinion. Australia has spent a bunload on a new satellite which is due to come on line next year. I give it 6 months before it too will be completely clogged with people in the bush trying to live their web lives).
Ok. Enough of my internet woes.  Back to sewing.
I don’t have enough sewing under my belt to nominate the blog worlds’customary five hits and misses of the year. One of each will have to do:

Hit of the year – Sewaholic Granville
I made three of these this year, and love them all equally. Button-up shirts have not figured much in my wardrobe, mainly because of fit issues with RTW. Sewing my own is definitely the go. I feel quite accomplished having sewn shirts, and they have all been worn frequently. Some summertime sleeveless versions are high in the queue.

Miss of the year – Grainline Morris

No photos exist of this travesty. You'll just have to take my word on the horror of it.

There have been some great versions of this jacket,  and I could definitely see this type of jacket working well in my everyday wardrobe. Alas, despite what I thought was some careful measuring and attention to finished measurements etc, this jacket came out ridiculously big especially around the shoulders, not normally an area in which I have issues. The excess was not helped by a heavy, unstretchy ponti which just dragged the whole jacket off my shoulders. After one sleeve defied easing into it’s home, I gave up. A complete mess. I would like to try this jacket again, but I’m a bit hesitant going on the first experience.

As with 2015, I don’t really have any plans for 2016. If I sewed what I wear most, I would be sewing activewear and jeans. I have some fabric for both in the stash, so I will probably venture this type of sewing this year at some stage, when I have the need. Apart from that I will sew wherever the sewing wind blows.

Thanks to all who drop by and read my scratchings, and double thanks to everyone who comments. All much appreciated, and I wish you all happy sewing for 2016.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

MBM - Colette Patterns Laurel, in lace

Back in August a friend of mine sent a “save the date” email for her 50th birthday party in October. Anticipating a glam event, as my friend enjoys a bit of glam, I thought, “Excellent! Finally a reason to make that Laurel in lace that’s been hanging around the sewing queue for a while, because I’ve not had a reason to sew it”.
Unfortunately, when we received the official invitation, a week before the party, I found out it was to be an Australian themed costume party. Sigh. 
So, here’s the story of the lace Laurel, the dress with no place to go (yet).
I made my first Laurel back in February. I was pretty happy with the fit, which gave me the headspace to deal with sewing with lace and polyester double georgette underlining for the first time.
I cut out the underlining first, marking the darts. I then sewed a narrow hem on the front and back pieces, attempting to use my narrow hem foot. The trouble with me and the narrow hem foot is that I only use it every so often, so every time I get it out, I have to re-teach myself how to use it. After a few test hems, I remember what to do, and have had good results with it. However, I’ve never used the narrow hem foot on super-fraying fabric like the double georgette and I found it really hard to get a good result. I soon ran out of patience (surprise!), and opted to make a machine narrow hem. That gave me more control, but the hem isn’t as pretty as a nice narrow-hem foot hem. However, sitting under the lace, this is not so obvious, fortunately.
After I did the hems, I used the underlining pieces as pattern pieces and cut out the lace, trying as much as I could to line up the scallops so they ran uninterrupted around the hem. Then I hand basted the underlining and lace pieces together all the way around each piece and through the darts. This took a LONG time.
As this was the first lace item I have ever sewn, I didn’t really know what to expect. I don’t know – I had visions of the lace getting caught on the presser foot, or disappearing down into bobbin-case land (or whatever it is called). It wasn’t as hard as I thought. The georgette proved more of a challenge, mainly because it frayed so abominably. I’m glad I chose a simple pattern like the Laurel for my first foray in georgette – anything harder would have frayed my nerves as well.
I sewed French seams for the shoulder and side seams, and bound the sleeve seams in bias strips of georgette.
I’m pretty happy with this dress. The only quibble is it is slightly longer than I hoped. I altered the pattern to take the lack of a hem into account. Maybe with the slightly stretchy nature of the lace it dropped a bit? Once you cut lace with a scallop edge, there is no going back.

This is the second fuchsia dress this year. I have never, ever worn this colour before, but my colouring seems to be changing as I get older. Colours like red, that I used to gravitate to, suddenly look and feel overwhelming. Indeed, I recently donated my Colette Peony dress in red wool crepe for exactly this reason – quite like the pattern, but the colour is just not me any more.  Meanwhile other colours, like this fuchsia suddenly seem to work.
Anyway, while this dress has nowhere to go at the moment, there are a few milestone events coming up in 2016 (a Significant Birthday for me, a Significant Wedding Anniversary for us, Oldest Child turning 18 and finishing school), so I am confident it won’t languish in the wardrobe.

And what did I wear to the Costume Party? Well, I went as Agnetha from Abba, in the costume she wore on Countdown circa 1976. Even though Abba were Swedish, they were massively popular to the point where they were Australian cultural icons. This outfit is one that Australians of a certain age will remember, I’m sure!!

And for overseas readers, my husband is wearing the distinctive uniform of Australian surf lifesavers.

Friday, December 4, 2015

MBM - Style Arc Pearl Knit top

The Style Arc Pearl top was one of their freebies from a few months ago. It caught my eye as something a bit different, even though it’s not something I’d normally wear.
The fabric is a viscose jersey I purchased at Tessuti a year or so ago. The colour reminds me of Dijon mustard. It has a good drape for this top.
This is a not too demanding sew, but there were a few tricky bits:
 There is a bit of fabric origami going on there with the drapey pocket. Putting it together is not too difficult though. Just follow the directions literally, and try not to overthink it. The most difficult bit is getting a nice corner in the middle of the top. That took a bit of doing.
I had another case of twisting knits doing the hem on this. I guess hemming on the bias was the culprit. The front hem was ok, maybe because it was in two pieces. The back hem though: that twisted quite a bit and took a few goes to get right.
I ignored my sewing mantra “To avoid sewing regret, make an FBA” because I was just too lazy. There’s an admission! It does need one though.
I also ignored the fact that I would probably need to widen the sleeves – another pretty standard alteration for me. Although the sleeves didn’t feel tight, the viscose jersey clung to my upper arms so they resembled tightly filled sausages. Not a good look. I unpicked them, and replaced them with new sleeves, with a 2cm width alteration.
The neckline is a bit high for my taste. If I ever made it again, I’d just copy the neckline from the Renfrew t-shirt. (That could be another mantra for me in making knit tops).
I wore this to lunch at a friend’s place on Sunday. Initially I paired it with my Tessa pants – my daughter, resident style critic, gave me the thumbs down on that combo. She said I looked like I was wearing pyjamas. Replacing the Tessas with the Misty pull-on jean got a pass mark overall and I was allowed to leave the house J .

As I said, this pattern was a little outside the kind of style I'd normally wear. Not sure if it is me, really. Still, I’ve been “meh” about things I’ve made over the years that end up growing on me, so I’m not writing this one off just yet.