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

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.