Friday, November 7, 2014

Whittling down the stash.

October was a busy month for me, with three family birthdays and quite a bit of sewing and I have finally made myself sit down and write about the sewing part of it.

First off I made my Style Arc Slip on Suzie dress which I introduced at the end of September. This is a very nice dress which caused very little trouble except for a bit of gaposis at the crossover neckline. This I managed with a few stitches to hold the wrap in place and will take a tuck out of the pattern before the next time it is made.
Thinking that it looks a little shapeless on my shapeless body I made a tie with the excess I cut off the hemline. Not sure if it looks much different.
Either way I like the dress and found it very easy and comfortable to wear. The fabric is a Retro printed stretch poly which is very stretchy, easy to get into and out of.

Next I dipped into my lucky dip basket and came up with, you guessed it, another jersey. This time a nice lemony yellow which was labelled as Colorado Cotton Jersey, colour Butter. The pattern I had matched with it was an old Vogue 9904. Both pattern and fabric are from my stash. I have had the pattern for several years and have used it once before, so I was quite happy to cut it out without hesitation. The only alteration I made from the original was to straighten the side seams as they curved out to fit an hourglass shape, which I am not! However I should have allowed a little more ease as it is a bit snug across my tummy.
 I really must do something about getting a remote for my camera as these mirror shots are not wonderful.

On to the next item. The inspiration for these was a Craftsy Sewing Kit, a pair of linen pants.

Coastline Linen Pants Kit - None

This outfit really caught my eye, especially with the navy top and I thought I might buy the kit which was half price at the time. Well the postage was more than the sewing kit and made the total over $60. As Spotlight was selling McCalls patterns for about $6 and I had some natural colour cotton linen blend in my stash which had been there since forever, I said forget it, I'll make my own version.

The pattern is McCalls 6843 and while the picture on the envelope looks like pyjama pants the finished pants look something like my inspiration.

M6843, Misses' Shorts and Pants
It's a pity McCall's didn't get their sample maker to press the seams before the photo shoot.

The slight bulge in my side seams has been removed since the photo was taken. I trimmed the seams twice before I was satisfied with the end result. I don't know why I didn't cut the legs to a smaller size in the first place. Anyway I am quite satisfied with the finished pants and think they will be quite pleasant to wear in warm weather. The cotton component stops them from wrinkling too much. I made a pair of shorts from the same fabric some years ago and they have worn well.

I have bought some nice navy linen for a top after the style of my inspiration pic but have yet to find a suitable pattern so November's sewing project is another Vogue 1247 skirt in a print fabric.

Until then....

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lucky dip.

A few weeks ago I looked at all my patterns and all my fabric and couldn't decide what to sew next. I always have trouble deciding which pattern would be the best match with that particular piece of fabric and if I went with that one maybe I would be sorry and wish I had gone with the other one. So I started to match up some of the fabric with patterns I thought would go nicely together and ended up with twelve pairings. A couple of these had an alternate pattern or fabric. These I wrote down on a Project Planner sheet that I printed off from the Craftsy website. I can't supply a link as I can't find it anymore. Luckily I downloaded the pdf.

Next step was to decide which project to make first so I wrote them all down on bits of paper, put them in a basket and drew one out. The winner was...

A striped top made from a Japanese premium knit jersey using New Look 6779 OOP, my sort-of-TNT top. I have made this top 4 or 5 times before and I like how it fits but the neckline has been changed a few times. I cut a size 12 but should have added a little extra ease around the tummy.It's a bit snug but not tight and it clings to the knit fabric of my skirt.

I had a few problems while making this top. First, jersey curls (and curls and curls). Second the pattern has 5/8" seams so in the interests of accuracy I had to pin the seams every 1/2" to make the fabric lie flat enough to sew. Finally I wanted to overlock the seams and trim them back to 1/4". While doing the back seam and concentrating on keeping those pesky curls under control, suddenly disaster struck. Ohh nooo! I'd caught a fold of the back under the knife and cut a half inch slice in my top.

I cut a scrap of material and a piece of fusible webbing and patched the cut from the wrong side matching the stripes. Can you see the repair?

I'm so relieved that I was able to save this top.I think I will give jersey a miss for a while.

Next one out of the hat is Style Arc's Slip on Suzie a faux wrap dress in a Retro Printed Knit Polyester, another Spotlight special from a few years ago. The minute I saw this pattern I knew it had to be made in this fabric. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 8, 2014

August stashbusting

The theme for August was stashbusting, so I took the opportunity to scrounge among those pesky remnants that we all manage to collect and came up with a couple of "colour blocked garments".
Naturally I couldn't find any pieces that were big enough to make something that looked reasonable so I just hacked a bit off here and there and came up with this for my granddaughter.
Kwik Sew 3234

The pattern is a girl's pyjama top but I figured a top is a top and it was the only kids pattern I have anyway.
Kwik Sew 2965

Next I salvaged a few pieces in 3 colours and cobbled together this top for myself. Suitable for around the house in summer.What else can I say.

While I was in salvage mode I lopped the bodice off the house dress I made last year. I only wore it twice. It had an acute case of gaposis at the back neckline and the long back zipper was more than my bad shoulder could cope with.
It will be much more useful as a summer skirt. I finished the waist with some pale blue bias tape from my collection.

Let's hope September will be more inspiring.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Catching up

My husband and I have just returned from a holiday in England and a Mediterranean cruise. Before we left I completed my May garment, a pair of Style Arc Barb pants, and then dived straight into a top for June. Kwik Sew 3740 View A.

The Barb's were made from a khaki/brownish stretch gabardine on sale at Spotlight some time ago. (fancy that!) I got this pattern because it was advertised as Linda pants with a slimmer leg. While the legs are indeed slimmer than Linda I feel the rest of the pants don't fit me as well. Comparing the two patterns I noticed a difference in the shape of the crotch, but decided to go ahead and use Barb as it came. I wore them a few times while we were overseas but although they look nice they don't feel as comfortable as Linda. The crotch is shorter and there is a bit of bagginess under the bottom at the back. I pinched out a fold of fabric and they looked much better so the pattern will need to be altered before I use it again.

That's not dust on the mirror, my camera seems to have developed a strange spotty overlay.

On to Kwik Sew 3740. I have made this top twice before. First time View A with the cowl and long sleeves, size medium, which required an incredible amount of "taking in" before it fit me. I feel the the stretchiness of the fabric had a lot to do with that problem. Next time I made view B size small with the neckline raised 5cm and with short sleeves. A much better fit.

This time I made view A again but raised the neckline 3 cm, used small size instead of medium, cut extra small sleeves (I have skinny arms) and the cowl in extra small to fit the altered neckline. It turned out well. The fabric is a poly/lycra knit another sale special from Spotlight and the colours aren't me at all, but it was cheap!!! You have to buy it when they're practically giving it away, don't you? It was originally intended for a dress but the weaving terrazzo path pattern was very difficult to place without giving me bulbous hips or weird shaped bosoms, so a top it became with the pattern pieces placed randomly to avoid the snakelike design.

Both of these garments accompanied us on our 5 week holiday to England and Europe, but wouldn't you know it, we had the first hot summer I have ever encountered in 5 previous trips. Long sleeved tops were not the most useful things to have packed. Luckily I packed short sleeves as well.

After we got home and the jet lag had worn off, I started sewing the Style Arc Simone cardi I had cut out before leaving. I had had visions of taking it with me but time ran out so it was ready and waiting when I got back.
The strange pucker is caused by my hand tilting, not a quirky pattern design.
What a treasure! It went together smoothly, it has drape without dangles and the most intriguing pockets. Built in pockets! I'm in love. The fabric is a wool/acrylic knit in navy blue, again from Spotlight but I think I paid a bit more for this. I got a size 10 but if I have one complaint it is I should have got a size 12 as I could do with a bit more ease. I usually get tops in a 12 from Style Arc so not sure why I made that mistake. Even so, it is a lovely cardigan and I shall get a lot of wear out of it.

I'm still debating what to make for August. So much fabric, so many patterns. Something for summer, perhaps?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

...and sometimes I do alterations

My husband has great faith in my sewing abilities (I suppose I should be flattered) and often calls on me to sew or alter various items of clothing. Mainly making his shorts and shortening the legs of jeans, pants etc. However this last little job has almost done me in.

He has a cream jacket and the sleeves are a bit too long. He has worn it a few times but decided the sleeves just had to be shortened before our next overseas trip. What!!!  The sleeves have a mitred vent and four buttons with false buttonholes. "It'll be easy" he says. "Just turn them up an inch." I don't think so!

Original sleeves

I remembered an article by  Judith Turner in Australian Stitches magazine. I looked up the index and found three articles (thanks Sharon). Hmmm. Fairly comprehensive step by step instructions. What does you tube have to offer? A wonderful array of videos. I settled on hem suit coat sleeves by Phyllis Smith and sewing mitre and bagging side on jacket sleeve  by Judith Turner.

One week later and after much whimpering, unpicking and tearing of hair the job was finished. It's not perfect and I sincerely hope no one ever inspects the work closely, but my husband professed himself satisfied. The biggest problem I had was with the mitre as the vertical and horizontal hems were of uneven width. Much folding and pressing and refolding and pressing was needed and eventually a lot of secret hand stitches were used to finish off the mitres.

The false buttonholes have been discarded as there is no way I could do them and my husband said two buttons were enough, although I may add the rest later. The stitching marks of the false buttonholes are proving difficult to remove. Any ideas anyone? I could try some white vinegar, perhaps.

The purpose of this post is to remind myself never, never, never to attempt this again. Also to issue the warning that while doable, it is not easy! But I must admit I'm rather proud of my effort.

The next job will be to choose a pattern for my May MAGAM. Something I can wear on our trip, I think.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Daffodil yellow jeans

For April's MAGAM challenge, Sarah Liz suggested  "maybe this month you can learn a new technique, expand your sewing knowledge, or just make something you like for the new season"
I love wearing jeans, but buying them RTW is a bit of a hit and miss affair. If they fit in the waist they are too big in the hips and if they fit my hips I can't get them buttoned up. Making my own pair would also expand my sewing knowledge.

I bought this Jalie 2908 jeans pattern in 2009 when everyone else was making "jeans that fit". I always intended to try it for myself and five years on I have. At the time I read almost every review on and made copious notes, which is a good thing as I had forgotten most of them.

I used some daffodil yellow stretch drill purchased a couple of years ago to make a muslin first. The stretch factor was much the same as the stretch gauge on the pattern so I traced off  the size that matches my hips and increased the waist two sizes. 

Because these were a trial pair for fitting mainly,  I omitted a lot of the traditional jeans features. I only did minimal topstitching and skipped the rivets and belt loops. My pocket design leaves a lot to be desired - there isn't one - and the pattern gives no clues as to what would be suitable. I also feel the pocket is a bit too long for me. I have made a note to shorten it by 2cm. The bias waistband fits me well but it twisted somewhat as I was stitching it on.

 This is a very good pattern, the instructions are easy to follow and the diagrams very clear. I printed the separate pattern instructions from the Jalie website for easy reference and all the pieces went together smoothly. I did add a pocket stay and this may be why they didn't stretch quite so well around my middle, but I got the button done up and after wearing them on Sunday they loosened up and needed hitching occasionally.


 Not too sure how often I will wear these in public as they are a bit colourful, but I will tackle another pair in more traditional denim soon. Meanwhile, I have conquered another "never thought I could do it" demon

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vogue 1250 and the fabric from hell.

I started off in March with a simple dress that I had made before, as I knew the month would be busy. I had a trip to Melbourne planned for the end of the month but the dress wasn't finished so it went with me. I'm sure it enjoyed the plane trip but somehow, in between catching up with my sister, seeing her new grandson and celebrating her birthday, the dress languished in my case and came back home in the same unfinished state.

When I finally settled down to sew it I found I had the fabric from hell. Every time I stitched it, it slipped and stretched and skewed all over the place. This required a lot of work with my favourite tool the seam ripper. Not that any ripping was being done. Tiny zigzag in fabric that snagged and tried to run with each unpicked stitch needed very careful handling. Added to that black thread on the black roses made it almost impossible to see the stitches in places.

Eventually the thing was done and I'm very happy with the finished result.

I really like this pattern. I made it two years or so ago and I don't recall any problems with the pattern or the fabric at the time. It goes together easily and although I did find it was a bit too long in the bodice then, this time I took a tuck front and back which solved the problem.

The previous dress, above, enjoyed several dinners aboard ship on our last cruise so I'm expecting both of them to accompany me in July when we go cruising again.

Now to tackle my April challenge which is a pair of jeans. I'm using the Jalie 2908 which has been made by just about every sewer in the blogosphere and I'm hoping it will be kind to me. To be on the safe side I'm using some yellow stretch drill which I purchased from Spotlight a couple of years ago for the grand sum of $3 per metre.

I might be a year behind the trend for coloured jeans but they are not going to be expensive.

Cheers everyone.

Monday, March 3, 2014

February top

Most of last month was taken up by making a fitted muslin from a very loose boxy OOP Simplicity pattern dating from 1994
Simplicity 9086
My inspiration for this idea was the talented Sharon of Petite and Sewing.  Her Vogue pattern is very similar in style to my pattern, so I thought "I can do that".

When I first made this top back in 1998 I made size 12. It was a bit loose but wearable. It finished up at the op shop though because the facings showed through the white fabric and I didn't like that. The pattern has languished in my stash since then.

Well I made the muslin and I fitted it and trimmed it and fitted it some more and it was enormous. Then I looked at the finished measurements on the pattern. (I've learned a lot since 1998) size 12  is 42-1/2 inches (108cm.) Even size 8 is 40 inches (102cm) Help!! My bust measurement is 92cm. So I lopped more off and finally reached something that felt reasonable.

By this time I wasn't going to risk any fabric that I really liked so I found some poly jacquard that I bought back when Spotlight still had a store in Perth (for those of you not in Perth that's a long long time ago)

With March breathing down my neck, did I knock up something quick? Oh no! I decided to do something I've never done before - french seams. Then I fancied a side invisible zipper like Sharon did so I put that in too. And I hated those facings first time round so I bound the neckline with a bias strip and finally it was finished.
It's still a little on the big side so will need a further nip and tuck.
Side seam invisible zip.

This one is pinned up to a shorter length. Unsure which is better.

I would like to finish by thanking Sharon for inspiring me to try this. I will make another now I know where to make the changes. My aim is to have a blouse that fits as beautifully as hers does.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

January MAGM skirt finished.

Finally finished my navy Vogue 1247 skirt yesterday. Not before time. Don't really have an excuse for my tardiness except for grandson's quilt and No.1 son's 50th birthday but really I just couldn't get motivated. Anyway it's done now.

I took a few shortcuts this time and only bound the horizontal hip and pocket seams and overlocked the rest.

I used a scrap of pretty poly-cotton for the pocket linings and binding. I didn't have an invisible zip so did a lapped opening with a navy zip from my stash. Not as neat nor as pretty as my previous effort so I won't be showing it.

The fabric is navy blue although it doesn't look like it, another 80cm remnant of cast iron polyester I have had for years.  I don't think these skirts will ever wear out.

Again I added extra length to the skirt and even made the pockets a little shallower in an endeavour to fit the pattern onto the fabric but alas I had to face the hemline with some 1 inch wide bias binding to conceal my knees and preserve my dignity.

The top I'm wearing is Kwik Sew 3378 made in February 2010 and which is still one of my favourite tops. I must make it again sometime.

Now to tackle February's garment. The toile (muslin) I am working on isn't complete yet so I will have to think of something else to make.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Plans change

Here it is the 1st February and I haven't finished anything. I'm still slip-stitching the binding on my grandson's quilt, which turned out nothing like my original idea and I only cut out my January skirt yesterday and started sewing it today.

When I placed the coloured blocks around the calico art work it looked OK but I wasn't really happy with it. Then I realized that this wasn't meant to be a showcase for my dubious quilting skills but simply a way of preserving a memento. So I went with the maxim that less is more and just added a simple brown border and binding.

It's very plain, but it is for an eight-year old boy, so I don't think he will be too worried. When I finish slip-stitching the binding I will just randomly tie the main area as I don't have any free-motion quilting skills at all and this is not the piece to practice on.

With luck the skirt should be finished tomorrow.

I haven't any specific plans for February. At present I'm toiling a fitted shell and if it is successful I may make a blue print top to go with January's skirt.