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.
(Sorry, for postage cost reasons, I’m going to limit this to Aussies and Kiwis.) 

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!) 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rerun - Grainline Scout Woven Tee, in batik

Even though I should be cracking on with a wedding guest outfit, my Liesl + Co Girl Friday culottes have caused me to veer off the planned course in the quest of tops to go with them. That, and the fact that I’d recently purchased a remnant of batik that I was itching to make up. I love ethnic prints and the colour of this batik was perfect for the culottes.

This is a rerun of the Grainline classic Scout Woven Tee. I’ve made two I’ve written about before here and here.

The batik was a sizeable remnant. I probably could have squeezed some sleeves out of the remnant too, but decided to go with contrast sleeves. The sleeves are from the dregs of a lovely drapey cotton chambray I’ve used here, here and here. I only have shards of this fabric left, but am holding on to them. Even as shards, it is too nice to toss.
There is not much to say about the Scout that I haven’t already said. As the sewing blog world well knows, it’s a great basic, and I’m pretty happy with the fit I’ve developed : FBA, swayback adjustment, bicep adjustment and lengthening all round. I really should investigate making up some long sleeve versions for days in the sun.
 I’m particularly pleased with this batik version with the culottes.  It will also go well with my jeans.

Sydney and Canberra sewists may already know about Loom Fabrics in Bowral where I picked up this remnant. I was in Bowral a few weeks ago, when I stumbled across this relatively new shop. Small, but chockful of beautiful designer fabrics apparently unavailable anywhere else in Australia. The shop has a web presence here, and the owner told me she is happy to mail swatches of whatever takes your fancy.
With Fabric Finesse just around the corner, Bowral is a bit of a fabric destination. But bring your money with you!

 With the Girl Friday culottes. And photobombed. Again.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

MBM - Liesl +Co Girl Friday Culottes

It is not normal for me to see a new pattern, purchase it, and clear the sewing queue to make it immediately. But this is what I did with Liesl + Co Girl Friday Culottes pattern recently released.
It was with a start that I realised that I last owned a pair of culottes, pretty similar to these, 25 years ago.  I loved those culottes. I wore them to the office. I wore them on the weekend. I wore them on the first date with my husband on December 2, 1989. I loved how the fullness  looked  feminine , but I could also do stuff in them, like run for the bus and sit on the grass in Hyde Park (Sydney) in the sun at lunchtime. Ah, yes, I still have a soft spot for culottes which I didn’t realise I had until I saw this pattern. So, this is a nostalgia make, big time.
This is my second Liesl + Co make and I have to say (not counting a Lisette Traveler dress) I am impressed with their draft and the instructions. 



Culottes, gotta love ém, you can do this in them:

Getting on a horse – no problem

And practice your curtsey with confidence

I used a length of soft cotton twill I bought from Tessuti aeons ago. It has good weight and drape for these culottes, but colour… dear oh dear.I had to make these culottes immediately, but with no prospect of a fabric store visit in the near future I settled for this sand/stone/putty colour  which does me no favours. That's why it was in the stash for so long. At least it’s away from my face. If I find that I wear these a lot, I will definitely remake them in another colour.
The volume on these culottes comes from box pleats centre front and back, ordinary pleats in front and darts in back. This photo gives an idea of how they look in their entirety, but also serve to remind me (not that I need it) how truly horrendous I look when I tuck in my tops. If I make this again, I might make the stitching on the pleats longer, to give a flatter line around the tummy - these poof out a bit at the waiston me.

One thing my 1989 culottes didn’t have, which these do, is pockets. The side zip is concealed within the pocket, which wasn’t difficult to do (again, the instructions were exemplary) and gives a nice clean look.

Construction was very straight forward, and fit is not a big issue – the only point the requires a bit of attention to fit is the waist, and length, of course. I cut the waist according to my measurements - there is a good amount of ease there, but it's not ridiculous. I added my customary 5cm length to these culottes. I made no other alterations.

Overall, a happy experience to make.

The issue I have now is that making culottes has opened up the whole vexed question of, as they say, styling them. I’m wearing one of my Mandy boat neck tees with these. The shape is ok I think, but this pattern probably has a bit too much ease, and it's too long.  Liesl + Co has put out a new t-shirt pattern the Bento, which seems to have teaming with these culottes in mind, so I will probably check these out.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

MBM - Named Clothing Cameron Flare Pants

My plans in July were to make a pant suit by the end of August. Didn't make that deadline, sadly. 
Still managed to complete the pant suit a few weeks ago, the blogging has taken a while, yes!

The pattern I chose was Named Clothing Cameron Flare Pants, because my fabric, a wool/rayon blend, has a lot of drape, and I was looking for a pattern to show this off.

Named Clothing Cameron Flare Pants, with dachshund on patrol

Same pants, this time dachshund is on sentry duty

This was my first foray into working with Named Clothing.  As a newcomer to Named Clothing patterns, here are some things you might find useful to know:
  • This pattern (and from what I can gather reading reviews of other Named Patterns their other patterns) is drafted for a height of 5’8” (I am 5’9”). Instead of adding 7cm as normal, I only added 2.5cm length, and could probably have gotten away with not adding length at all, as the pattern is designed to be worn with “Sky high heels”.
  • 1cm seam allowances used throughout. Style Arc does this too, and I am starting to think I prefer this seam allowance – I find them easier to work with. Does anyone else find this?
  • This pattern is a pdf download. (I don’t think Named Patterns does paper patterns, I could be wrong). The pattern was printed over 20 sheets. However, the two main pants pieces, back and front, were overlaid on one another, so after taping together all those sheets, you still had to trace. This was a teensy bit annoying. I just traced the back pattern piece, and cut out the front.
  • When you purchase this pattern, you get 4 files: one instruction file and three pattern files, each with two sizes.

These pants feature a “wrap” front, and back patch pockets. Apart from that this pattern is identical to my pants sloper. I was a bit bemused with myself when I realised upon purchase I had spent $20 on a variation of a pants sloper.(Sometimes it’s hard to get a handle on how things are constructed until you actually look at the pattern pieces, in my own defence). On the other hand, could I be bothered figuring out how to draft that triangular bit? Answer: No.  On balance I’m more than happy to pay someone to do this stuff, although I do think that $20 is getting on the outer edge of acceptable for a pdf download.

My measurements had me at a straight 42 in Named. I got out my pants sloper to compare, and happily saw that the sloper and pattern were pretty  similar – the pertinent points at waist and hip were identical, as was the crotch seam curve. The changes I made were to reposition the darts, lengthen the back crotch hook (My pants sloper features a a VERY long back crotch hook – I added 7cm here), change the shape of the front crotch from a J shape to an L and shorten, and redraw the waistline edge – all to match my sloper.

I really had to scrounge out these pants from my available fabric: that extra long back crotch hook takes up a lot of space, and was one of the reasons I had to cut out using a single layer of fabric. And honestly, a 1cm seam allowance was all I would have been able to do anyway. It was piece against piece on the layout. But I managed.

Named Clothing has the order of construction as follows: construct pants, insert zip, make buttonholes, which I thought was a bit weird, not to mention difficult. However, to give them their due, they do make a point that their instructions aren’t the last word, and if you have another way of going about sewing up these pants, do it, which I did. I inserted the zip and made buttonholes on the front pieces first. Then, I constructed the pants, applied the facing and hemmed using my blind hem foot.  This just seems much easier to me.
This is a very easy sew. If you can sew a dart, you can sew these pants. That wrap front is easy to construct, and does away with the need to make a fly front, which I find to be the most time consuming bit of sewing pants. I didn’t bother with the patch pockets, because I seriously don’t need patch pockets on my backside. It is prominent enough all on its own.

The only issue I have with this pattern is how the front triangular wrap does not sit flat- the diagonal edge sits out from the body.  See this in the photo above? I repositioned the buttons, but this only made a slight difference. The bottom edge of the wrap front is on the bias, and I think this has stretched out a bit. The lovely drape of my fabric is great for the pants, but not so great for the stability here. And if I'm honest, my rounded tummy is not helping matters. If I did this again, I would sew some twill tape along this fold line, and add some topstitching to try and stop this happening. Or interface. Or take some length out of that fold. Not to worry,  I rarely  never tuck in my tops, not a major problem, really (I'm tucked in here for blogging purposes only). But you might be a tucker-innerer, so be warned. (You might ask why went  for this pattern at all, since the one design feature will be covered? My answer to this is, sometimes you just have to sew something different well,  just because) .

Not convinced by the metal buttons I’ve used. I might change these one day.

Happy with how these look pants with my 6441 jacket. This was taken a few weeks ago, on my way to a family lunch.

Obligatory back view

Goal of making a pant suit in 2014 ? Tick.