Saturday, April 30, 2016

Me Made May 2016

So I've decided at the last minute to take part in  Me Made May this year.

Last year I gave it a miss, mostly because the daily documentation of outfits just didn't appeal to me. Also, I work three or four days a week. My work outfits generally consist of RTW jeans, a me-made top and Converse shoes. Repeat. The uniform you wear when you don't have a uniform.  No jewellery, no scarves, no accessories in general for safety reasons. Just too boring to blog, Me Made May or not.

So, I've adjusted to my pledge over on So Zo to gloss over the work days, and concentrate my creativity on the non-work days. It is this:

I, Paola of sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May 16. I will wear at least one me-made item per day, and will wear at least two totally me-made outfits per week. I will post the me-made outfits on my blog weekly, and maybe Instagram too, if I get around to setting up an account. :)

Click on the link to So Zo if you want to find out more about Me-Made-May.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Sewing Room Investigation: Style Arc Madison

Aargh. It gives my sewing ego no joy to post a sewing debacle, especially in a pattern that is ostensibly straightforward. But in a spirit of solidarity with my sewing sisters who have posted sewing fails before me,  I make my own contribution to the oeuvre of work that constitutes Great Wadders of the Sewing Blog World.
Sit back, and enjoy La Sartora: Sewing Room Investigation:
The pattern: Style Arc Madison. A knit pattern with raglan sleeves, bust and sleeve darts. Cuffs. The body has a trapeze shape and a deep hem.
I recall this pattern was a Style Arc freebie from back in January.
The plus points of this project were:
  • ·         A different take on a knit top. As someone who is in danger of thinking the Sewaholic Renfrew the Be All and End All of knit top patterns, I knew that I had to shake things up a bit in this area and do something radical, you know, like try another pattern.
  • ·         It’s Style Arc. These patterns fit me with not too much tweaking.
  • ·         I had what I thought was the perfect fabric – a soft but not too drapey stripey knit I bought from Pitt Trading.

The warning signs:
  • ·         The style – it’s drafted high in the neck, and probably a bit short for me. And I think I suit styles that follow the line of the body more, so a trapeze shape was always going to be risky.

At this point the investigation might come to the conclusion that this project  was destined to go off the rails. If only I’d had the forethought to drop the front neckline and lengthen (as Jean did) it might have had a fighting chance.

 The fact that this project skulked around the sewing rooms for weeks waiting for attention after cutting was probably a good indication of the reservations I had with this pattern.

Anyway, I mustered up some energy to sew this up and here is the result:

(NB. Yep, that hem is pinned up. I started sewing the hem for blogging purposes, but mucked it up. By this time, I’d already mentally relegated the top to the sin bin, so I just went with pins. I just wanted the whole experience to END.)
So, how many types of wrong can we see ?
  1. The neckline.  How many bound necklines have I made over the years? Heaps. How many can I count as fails? This one. The neckline is too wide, particularly at the back, and the binding sits out in a most unbecoming fashion. Yuk. Pressing and fiddling with how the top sits made zero difference. Style Arc mentions checking the binding length. Who didn’t read the instructions? Take that as advice, people.
  2. To make matters worse, due to dodgy cutting or sewing, the raglan sleeve seam angles are different. A bit hard to make out here, but believe me. It's not pretty.
  3. Annoyingly, the sleeve dart sits behind my shoulder line. I have no idea how to redraft to fix this.
  4. The fine stripe lends itself to optical illusions. My daughter said as she did the photos it was a bit like looking at a Bridget Riley painting. Fine in an art gallery. Don't  know that's such a good thing in a top!
  5. As predicted, the silhouette just doesn’t do it for me (but maybe the other problems are colouring my feelings here).

A Bridget Riley and my Madison 

After all that, it probably wouldn't surprise anyone to know that I don't have any immediate plans to revisit this pattern.

Let's change the subject:

A frequent topic of conversation on sewing blogs is the whole area of ethical practice in clothing and footwear industries. Indeed, a lot of sewists sew at least partly to remove themselves from the fraught ethical conundrums consumers seem to have to navigate not to contribute to human misery and environmental degradation. Still, RTW is still a part of most wardrobes, even if only in certain areas of attire (for me, underwear, gym wear and the occasional fashion item).   I thought I'd share a link to Baptist World Aid's Australian Fashion Report 2016. With the subtitle "The Truth Behind the Barcode", it gives marks to a comprehensive list of Australian fashion and footwear brands based on a number of areas of practice that go to the ethics, work practices and sustainability. Interesting reading, even if you are not Australian, as many of the brands listed are global. It will change my spending habits in terms of who I give my money too in one or two respects.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

MBM - Paprika Patterns Jasper Sweatshirt

I bought some merino sweatshirting last July on sale from The Fabric Store, with the intention of making up a Paprika Patterns Jasper sweatshirt almost straight away. Unfortunately, as July tipped into August, still allegedly winter, we were treated to increasingly mild days of over 20C interspersed with 30C+  stinkers. The wool sweatshirt project got shelved.
I knew  that I had to get my ducks in a row early in the winter sewing season, if I wanted to make and wear a merino sweatshirt in 2016 (This goes for all my winter sewing really). Hooray! I did it! Added bonus: I match the tibouchina currently in flower in the front garden.
Paprika Patterns is a new-to-me pattern company, so I spent a bit of time contemplating which size to cut, particularly the bust size, and  the question of whether or not to make my customary FBA. In the end, after taking note of the finished sizes, and comparing them to similar RTW sweatshirts in my wardrobe, I went for Size 6 with no FBA. (Note: Sizes 6 and below are drafted for a B cup. Sizes 7 and above drafted for a C cup.)

I made  a 7cm length addition on the body pieces to make it a tunic length sweatshirt. Let’s not beat around the bush here – I feel the cold in my backside most, and a couple of layers of wool in this region is very attractive to me! I also added length to the sleeves, mainly because that is what I always do. I have longish arms. However, I ended up  cutting off the added length, and then some.
The pattern goes together easily. There are good instructions for the welt pockets on both the printed instructions and on the Paprika patterns website, so don’t be intimidated by them.
Oh dear, this could have done with another press, but I was in a rush to get photos done before my photographer sloped off to the gym.
I’m happy with this make. The fit is pretty good and I’m happy with the amount of ease. I don’t regret not making an FBA.
And can I say how much I love sewing wool - this sweatshirting behaved itself under the presser foot, pressed well and felt lovely between the fingers as you sew. And I love the smell of wool when you iron it. 
To conclude, as someone who could wear sweatshirts for work and play, I predict that this will be a high rotation garment. That sweatshirting is lovely to wear too – light, but warm.  If I can find some decent cotton sweatshirting or good quality fleece, I’d like to make the hooded version of this pattern too - any suggestions for sources would be welcomed.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

200 Years of Australian Fashion at the NGV, Melbourne

It's been relatively quiet on the sewing front lately. After finishing the Yaletown of a month ago, I sat down to finish my son's scrapbooks in time for his18th birthday at the beginning of April. Then a few days were taken up in preparation for the party for said birthday and the aftermath.(Fortunately, the dire warnings of those who knew we were having an 18th birthday party at home did not come to pass. Everyone had a good time, with no collateral damage to person or property!).

We've just come back from a few days' city break in Melbourne. Living in regional Australia, a couple of days' break in a city is a welcome novelty. We get our fill of shows, shops and restaurants in a few days, then head back to the tranquility. Brilliant.

My daughter and I made a beeline for the 200 Years of Australian Fashion Exhibition at the NGV. It was a great little exhibition. The stuff that fascinated me was the late 19th Century and fashion until the late 1950s. I spent  quite a while marvelling at the workmanship, and wondering "How in the heck did they make that?" Here are some of my highlights (I only wish I'd taken notes)

This dress was made to wear to the wedding of the wearer's daughter in a heavy satin. The black signifies that the wearer was in mourning for a close family member. The workmanship in those chevrons - made in layers of fabric - was something to behold, as was the trim at the bottom of the skirt, and the tiny pleats at centre front.

I wish I could remember something about this dress, other than to say there was an amazing amount of work in it.

Skipping a few decades...

This was perhaps my favourite dress, from the 1930s - simple but sumptuous with bias cut skirt made in peices, and shirring at the shoulder. The fabric was to die for. Just gorgeous.

This ensemble was made in linen - true!

Beaded dress from the 1950s

A wedding dress by Sydney couturier, Beril Jents from 1953. The hand made roses were just beautiful.

I could picture any of the above three dresses worn today. Absolute classics. My favourite is the halter dress above.

 And again, skipping a few decades. My daughter asked me whether this outfit was supposed to be for men or for women. Well, its for men, but I totally dig that corduruoy jacket! I remember blokes wearing ruffled shirts like this to dressy events when I was a young one.

In other news... today's picture-heavy post comes to you courtesy of my brand shiny new NBN connection. I've moaned about the prehistoric speeds of my late and unlamented satellite internet connection. By some miracle the National Broadband Network project has bestowed on us Wireless Broadband, and verily, our lives have changed, technologically speaking. The slow  speeds of our satellite connection were a major disincentive to post to the blog. I would read books while I waited for pictures to upload. Today I loaded these pictures in a matter of seconds. Yay! I will finally get to watch the Craftsy videos that I've subscribed to but got too frustrated with slow speeds to watch. Amazing.

I have been sewing too, with various levels of success, so a couple of sewing posts are in the offing.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

MBM - Sewaholic Yaletown, dress version

I first made the blouse version of Sewaholic Yaletown in late 2014, and have been waiting for a reason to make a dress version ever since. It finally came in the form of an invitation to a 50th birthday lunch.
First of all, the fabric. I found this polyester of digitally printed and pixelated hydrangeas during a flying visit to Pitt Trading about two months ago. I was under serious time pressure, and was looking for some light cotton batiste to use as an underlining for another project. No go on the cotton, but this caught my eye, as well as a knit. In under ten minutes I was out the door with this. It was on sale too, so double bonus. Quite proud of my fabric shopping efforts here! (The project that needs underlining fabric has been relegated to the bench for now).
As soon as I had the invitation, this fabric suggested itself. At first, I was thinking of make Style Arc Olivia, another pull on dress with an elastic waist. But I quite like the Yaletown mock-wrap and the sleeves on my blouse version, and I had heaps of fabric – I might be able to squeeze an Olivia out of it in due course anyway.
Because the hydrangeas were printed lengthways on the fabric, and I didn’t want them on their side, I had to cut out crossways, which meant cutting out on the flat in a single layer, basically. That took a bit of time. Apart from that, Yaletown is a pattern that comes together pretty quickly and painlessly.
As for fit: I'd already made an FBA for the blouse version. For this version I lengthened the sleeves and skirt by two centimetres each. That was it as far as fit alterations were concerned.
I considered underlining or lining the skirt to give the fabric a bit of heft and to counteract static, but in the end decided I wanted the skirt to sit in soft folds, so I went for a separate slip made from cotton voile  instead. Nothing special there, just two seams, elastic waist and a hem, but it did the job.
Sewaholic suggests two ways of anchoring the wrap – a thread chain and button, or some judicious tacks. I went with the tacks on the blouse, but didn’t find them that successful – it was difficult to get the blouse over my head . So this time I went for the thread chain and button, even though if I had to name one sewing skill I don't have it is sewing thread chains. My mother is the Mistress of the Thread Chain, but I haven't inherited her facility here, sadly (An aside - Mum did a lot of embroidery as a child and teenager, and I suspect her superior hand sewing skills stem from a lot of practice at a young age). So I cranked out a few bumbling thread chains, for the front closure and as belt keepers, so I could wear this to lunch. If I ask nicely, maybe Mum will replace my efforts with  some proper thread chains for me instead!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

MBM - sleeveless Sewaholic Granville x 2

Last year I made three Sewaholic Granvilles which I counted as the most successful projects of 2015. A couple of sleeveless Granvilles were therefore inevitably in the priority queue for summer. I sewed these two as back-to-back projects a while ago, and both have had several outings since being made, especially during the long run of  monotonously hot days we've been having lately .
The ivory Granville is made from a silk-cotton blend I bought at Tessuti quite a while ago now. My intention for this one in particular is to wear it under cardis and jumpers as we head into the cooler months.
The blue Granville is made from a cotton shirting, again from Tessuti. I think it was called Bahamas, and the colour certainly reminded me of the blue of the Caribbean. Love it, although I found the print somewhat uneven – in some sections, the print was brighter and more distinct and the background colour deeper than others. A bit disappointing when the shirting was on the expensive side. Still, the hand is great, and it didn’t stop me using it, obviously.
I knew that making a sleeveless version of the Granville wasn’t just a matter of leaving the sleeves off. I redrew some of the pattern pieces, following these directions from the Sewaholic website (which in turn link to directions on the Grainline website).
Unfortunately, I didn’t check the fit on sewing the side seams as I was sewing the first version, the ivory. I should have, and taken the side seams in about an inch overall under the arm. As it is, there is a bit of armhole gape there, which I addressed somewhat in the blue version. Still, there is a bit of  armhole gape there too. So not a 100% fitting success, although the gape doesn't worry me much wearing it out and about. 

Apart from that there isn’t too much I’d like to add, that I haven’t already mentioned in previous posts on the Granville here, here and here. So I’ll just leave it there, suffice to say I’m pretty happy to have these versions in the wardrobe and they are already earning their keep
I think I'll retire the Granville to the stash, for now .

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?