Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Look 6025 - a very generous fit

I'm pretty happy to report that I've already cut into my Spotlight fabric. I purchased this rayon, which I'm still undecided if I like, to make another Pendrell blouse and the lovely sales person decided to throw in the end of the roll for me. So for the cost of an 80cm cut, I received a little over 2 meters - score!
New Look 6025 is a simple top pattern with different sleeve variations, which is far more generously sized than I thought it would be. Looking at the envelop image though, I should have realised it was big. I cut a size 8, the smallest in the envelop, and I think it would be hard to wear without an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. It is very , very low cut and the sleeves are huge.
Massively gaping sleeves!

I certainly don't think this quick sew was a waste of time though. After finishing the top I realised that simply modifying the shoulder seams, sewing them a little more generously than you are supposed to, would raise the neckline and solve the gaping sleeve issue.
This is the same top with the shoulder seams pinned an extra inch and a half. Perfect! Now the next time I make this I'll just need to trim 1.5 inches from the front and back shoulder, and modify the neck binding to fit. Easy peasy!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

It's a disease

Rachel always says that sewing, and it's 'spendy' cousin, stashing, is like a disease. Even though I don't need anything, I still found myself at Spotlight today, with three kids in tow, to take advantage of their 40% off fabric sale. I walked away with a healthy pile of fabric to add to my ever-growing stash. It's so hard to fight it!
In addition to two stretch sateens that I've been eyeing off for a while (second and third bottom), I also now have two knits to experiment with (top two), some rayon that I may have already been playing with (third from top) and some black twill and gaberdine for various pants and skirts that I've been toying with making.

I really must get to the machine. I'm still waiting for the husband to move it and the rest of my sewing supplies into my new space after all the room shuffling that's been happening around here.

Have you been tempted by the Spotlight or Lincraft sales recently?? Please tell me it's not just me!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fast Sewing: Vogue 1236 in Liberty

I needed to knock that 'poor me' post off the top of this blog as quickly as possible, so chose Vogue 1236 to sew, as it really is a 'no brainer' pattern. There's nothing particularly exciting about this pattern. It's a simple sack dress with a pleated neckline, but in my experience you rely on these dresses most as they are so easy to wear anywhere.
Clearly, this dress is not very winter appropriate, but it was quite warm in Sydney today, about 19 degrees, so I wore it with tights and a cardi and survived comfortably.

The dress came together very quickly. The pleats are nice and no closures means an easy sew. The dress is surprisingly tulip shape, with a much wider middle than top or bottom, but it works.
I really love this Liberty fabric too and this un-fussy dress design suits it. I fully lined this dress in batiste by extended the facings, but probably didn't need to. The lining does add a little extra bulk to the waist area when you wear a belt, but I kinda like that it appears that I have a waist.

All in all, this was a good, quick, pick-me-up sew, which is just what I needed.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sick, broken and in chaos

"Gee, you must be sick if you haven't sewn for three days!"
The words spoken by my husband on Saturday.

Yep, I've been sick. Very sick. Coughing and spluttering all over the joint. Worse though, now that I am feeling better, I am also now broken. We decided yesterday to shift rooms in our house. I've been enjoying the luxury of a HUGE sewing space for about 2 years and it was always going to come to an end one day. Unfortunately, moving furniture up and down the stairs hasn't agreed with my back. According to my physiotherapist, I'm not very strong. This probably means that we should have asked for help to get the mattress and chest of drawers upstairs, rather than lugging it up ourselves. Worse again, is that my sewing space is in a woeful state of chaos. Crap on top of crap, on top of fabric, on top of patterns. It makes me want to cry looking at it!

But enough about me. How about the kids? Well, Adele is now sick and horribly clingy. James is just his regular middle child self and Ollie, well he's broken too.
Just his arm though. It only took four hours in Emergency last night to confirm that the reason why he hadn't moved  his arm for over a day, was because it was broken. Talk about mummy guilt! Not realising the kid had a broken arm for over a day! He only fell a very short distance off an empty cardboard box at mum and dad's house, but clearly it was bad enough to warrant a cast. It's just a hairline fracture though, so probably won't be in a cast for long.

So there is my sad and sorry situation right now.

The good things right now that are stopping me from getting too down:
 - Ollie is happy about his plaster cast.
 - Adele went straight to bed tonight
 - The boys love their new room
 - My husband is being extremely sympathetic about my back
 - My physiotherapist is pretty awesome and I was able to celebrate my visit to him by tying my shoelaces before I left his office.
 - I got into the university tutorials that I wanted
 - I won a cute retro sewing pattern from Justine
 - I'm heading out to dinner with some good girlfriends tomorrow night
 - Tomorrow is a daycare day and even though Adele will be with me, one is easier than three!

I am hopeful that the rest of the week will be undramatic and easy. How are you tracking right now? Any dramas to speak of?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sewing Jeans

Sewing jeans isn't hard, but it is time consuming. There are many little steps along the way, lots of changing of thread, pressing and finishing. This is my first attempt at sewing jeans and I am quite happy with them.
I should point out that I always intended for these to be more trouser jeans than regular jeans. I never wanted to make jeans to replace my Levi's or Sass and Bides, but rather make a dressier, 70's vibe, high waisted, flare jeans and with that in mind, I think I've kind of succeeded.
I'm not 100% happy with my choice in denim though. I wish they were less dark and more blue. I also think they possibly have slightly too much stretch and I am worried about how they will wear over time. I purchased the denim on sale from Tessuti.
Before beginning this project there were a number of things about sewing jeans that I was quite intimidated by, but am happy to report that I didn't find any of them much of a problem at all. I was extremely concerned about my ability to top stitch neatly, so chose a black top stitching thread so it wouldn't be too much of a feature. The top stitching wasn't hard though. You just have to concentrate and stitch slowly. The thread wasn't difficult to work with, I just used regular thread in my bobbin and played around with the tension a bit. I was also quite concerned about breaking  needles, but only used two No.14 needles on  my machine and two on my over locker with no breaks.
I used a Burda pattern No. 127 from 8/2009. I made a number of modifications to the pattern, including omitting the front side pockets, as I wanted patch pockets, increasing the rise at the back, reducing the yoke size and flow on changes to the back pant from this and I also flared the pant leg from the knee down.  I made three muslins of these pants before I cut the denim, mostly to check sizing and the leg shape.
As I didn't have a jeans pattern to work from, I used a number of resources to pull these together including and old Calvin Klein Vogue sewing pattern for jeans V2442, which I'd picked up from the Op Shop. It wasn't in my size, but was handy to refer to. I also referred heavily to a pant sewing tutorial in Burda 9/2009, my vintage Readers Digest Guide to Sewing and this video tutorial for sewing a flat fly front, but I added a fly facing too. I also had about three pairs of jeans on hand to analyse before deciding what to top stitch or where to place pockets. I also read through a bunch of info on the Pattern Review forums about sewing jeans.
I drafted the pockets size and stitching detail myself and positioned them after basting the centre seam to ensure they were flattering.

The only thing I wasn't able to figure out during researching the jean sewing thing, was how to centre the back pockets. When you mock flat fell the centre seam, the top stitching appears more to one side of the jeans. How do you centre the pockets? Mine are a little off, but as the top stitching doesn't stand out you can't really see. I'd appreciate any tips, as I think I will make another pair.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Christmas in July

I'm normally not one to celebrate non-events like Christmas in July, but this past week has been a little Christmassy. First up, mum cooked a turkey on Sunday - yum! Then on Monday, the postman arrived with an arm full of parcels for me. This was then followed by a small shopping trip to help a friend purchase some fabric, during which time, one of two very small items may have accidentally fallen on the counter, followed by some cash - eek! I'm so glad my husband doesn't read this blog often, although I think I may have blabbed about all of these purchases.

So, do you want to see the goods? First up, some Liberty love!
I mentioned a while back that hubby had OK'd a purchase of Liberty and this is some of the haul. I just love the dark willow tree print on the top. It's so deep and rich. I am planning on making Simplicity 2180 with it, the sleeveless version with a full back. I'm hoping to pipe the yoke or some other details.

The next print down, the black one with flowers, will be used to make Vogue 1236, which is a DKNY design. Look, this dress isn't exciting, but it is my style, you know, loose fitting, pleats or gathers and worn with a belt. I have two similar summer dresses that are on high rotation during warmer weather, so I think this will be a winner.

The next fabric was a cart filler. I had picked something else but it was out of stock. I think I'll use it to line a jacket, possibly Vintage Simplicity 7032, if I ever get my hands on it, or something else. I'm not 100% on the colours of this, but I'm OK with that.

I have no plans for the grey Mitsi pictured on the bottom, but it's grey with a small scale, non-directional print, so I'm sure it will be put to use for summer.

This is the second lot of fabric. Some pieces were from Shaukat the others from The Fabric Store.
The top striped fabric was a remnant from The Fabric Store. It's a lovely lightweight cotton, which I think will be a lovely summer tank or top. Just something easy, like the tiny pocket tank or maybe the Collette Sorbetto.

The next print with the charcoal squiggly lines is from The Fabric Store. It's a silk cotton blend and is far, far nicer in real life. I'm thinking about making Burda 7517 with it or possibly something like this dress on the Tessuti blog, but using a pattern without all the seam lines on the bodice. I'll have to start researching.

The next print down is a silk cotton fabric from Shaukat. It's really quite light and drapey. I was planning on making a shift with a self drafted pattern inspired by Vintage Vogue 7165, but we'll see.

The last fabric, the blue swirly one is a Liberty jersey, which I am hoping to make New Look 6697.

So if my list of projects wasn't long enough before these recent shopping trips, then it definitely is now!

The postman also dropped off some lovely yarn and a new crochet hook so that I can also create some accessories for my summer wardrobe including the Short n Sweet cardi from the Happy Hooker.
So that's about all. Clearly it is a might big haul of goodies. Certainly enough to keep me busy!

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Homemade Toddler Style

Adele received this knitted poncho in summer from Aunty Margaret, my husbands aunt. I had completely forgotten about it until this morning.
just love it and going by Adele's massive over smile, I'm pretty sure she loves it too!

Aunty Margaret said that it was easy to knit,  but I don't believe her. Adele is also wearing handmade jodhpurs, which I blogged about here.
That's it - photo shoot over!

I've had a far more successful time in front of the machine today, so hopefully I'll have something to show you tomorrow.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sewing Disasters

I mentioned a few days ago that I had some bad news on the sewing front. In an effort to keep it real and not pretend like I'm some sort of sewing genius that only produces successful garments, I'm going to show you these fails.

First up, Vogue 1025, which is an Anne Klein pattern that I've had for a while and I really don't know why I bought it, as it's really not my style. I've read about many sewers who substitute woven fabrics for stretch in some patterns. They appear to create good dresses and everything works, so I thought I would try.

I picked some ponti from my stash and went about making a few mods. I cut the smallest size and lengthened the waist to fall just about my natural waist, as I assumed the weight of the skirt would pull it down to sit right on my waist, which it did. The main reason I lengthened the bodice was because I don't own any thick belts, which I think you would need to wear on an empire bodice dress. I cut facings for the neck and strips of fabric to bind the sleeves and this is what I got.
Some people may look at this photo and think, 'It's alright', but trust me, it looks better in the photo than in real life! The bodice is too large and unflattering, and the style is not me at all! The arm binding is possibly passable, but still not good enough for my critical eye. I will never wear this, so I haven't even hemmed it. I will however, recycle the fabric. I have Simplicity 2443 on my list for summer sewing, so this ponti will not go to waste.

Disaster number 2 is considerably more tragic than the first. Now, if  you sew, you will read this and at various times you will think "What a waste!', "She's such a goose!", "What was she thinking?" and you know what, I still am saying those things to myself!

A few weeks back I picked up some lovely silk from a local cheapie fabric shop. It was identical to a silk fabric in a much more expensive fabric store. I intended to make Vintage Vogue 8728, which I think it completely adorable, but as the project progressed, I realised there were three major problems standing in the way of me producing a cute dress: bad judgement, challenging fabric and dress style.
 - Bad judgement: I didn't make a muslin of this dress. NUTS! I make muslins for pretty much everything I make, but for some reason I seemed to think that as I was doing so well on the sewing front, I didn't need to make them any more. I don't know what I was thinking!
 - Challenging fabric: It is silk and it ravels and slips and slides. I'm not an expert as sewing with slinky fabrics, yet still chose a pattern which involved curves, gathers and self bias neck binding, all of which are super duper tricky with this type of fabric. Just plain silly of me really!
 - Dress style: The gathers on the bust DO NOT flatter those with little bust. Seriously, they don't make you look larger or more busty, but rather more empty than normal - boo hoo!
Not a good photo. I blame the gloomy weather in Sydney.

I seriously don't know what I was thinking! Here's a photo of the dress bodice and again, it doesnt' look too bad in the pictures, but trust me, it's not good.

Thankfully, I did manage to stop myself at this point. I did not cut the skirt, so I still have a large enough pieces of this fabric to make something nice. Possibly a top, which is far better use of this fabric given the life I have - you know, three grubby kids and all.

Tis all for now. Tomorrow, I plan to make my second muslin for my jeans BEFORE I leap into cutting the fabric!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Purple Lacy Gloves

I'm currently waiting for yarn to be delivered for my next crochet project. While I wait, I could be working on medallions for my blanket, but anyone who has worked on a slow burn project knows how hard it is to stay motivated.
I'm not sure how much wear these gloves will get, they don't actually keep my hands particularly warm, but they were quick and fun to make. Better yet, I managed to use a small scrap of yarn that I've been holding on to for about a year. In fact, I made two baby cardigans from this one ball, so I'm very happy to have enough for these.
I showed my husband these gloves when he got home from work. He requested I that perhaps I not wear them when we go out together. He didn't quite say it as politely as that though.
Regardless, it was something to do and the kids like them. Details ravelled here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Salted Caper South Bay Shawl

I started crocheting this little shawl the second I finished my Jitterbug Angel Scarf. I've never been much of a fan or variegated yarn, but the colours in this one caught my eye at the Quilt Show and I couldn't decide between this or the Wasabi Squeeze colour from my Angel Scarf, so I purchased both!
Apologies for the crapola photo and there's no modelled shot as my camera battery is dead!
I'm very happy with this sweet little shawl and even more happy that I've made something weather appropriate!
More sewing progress will come in the next couple of days and it's not good news....
Details ravelled here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Have You Seen?

Jessica from Running with Scissors kindly offered to review my little bonnet pattern. How adorable is little Ellaria in her bonnet!
Jessica modified the pattern, using elastic and big wooden button, rather than fabric or ribbon ties to keep the bonnet on.
You can buy your own pdf little bonnet pattern from my Etsy shop or maybe just pick out a finished bonnet and I'll whip it up for you.

Happy Sewing!

Vintage Simplicity 7882

This is dress No.3 from the list. I'm super happy with how this turned out, but it was quite fiddly to get neat.
Gosh I really need to pretty up my photo area.

The pattern is Simplicity 7882 from 1977. The double gauze by Nani Iro is lovely and light, perfect for summer, but I will wear it in winter as pictured, with thick tights plus a cardigan.
Even though I had a size 12 pattern, which is normally close to my size, the bust was quite a bit larger than I needed so I feel like I had to modify it significantly to fit. In doing so, I think I may have slightly changed the shape of the sleeve as on the envelop they look like they drape down more. Maybe mine will drape more after it is washed. The only other changes I made to the pattern was to extend the waist ties, so that they tied at the back rather than the sides and I shortened the skirt.
The zipper caused me a little frustration yesterday. Initially, I tried to put in an invisible zipper, as that was what I had on hand, but the double gauze kept getting stuck in the teeth. I guess I may have stitched too close to the coil. So I ripped that zipper out. Then I ducked out to the shops and purchased a regular dress zipper and attempted to sew centre lapped zipper as instructed by the pattern, but the fabric kept puckering. Again, I think it's because the fabric is so light. I possibly could have stabilized the area, but choose instead to just hand pick the zipper. This worked out even better than I imagined, as it is now quite discreet. I'm not a fan of centre lapped zippers, but I think hand stitching, makes them better.
I wish I could have aligned the dots a little more, but found the cutting very tight as there were two solid, un-dotted strips along each selvedge which limited my pattern placement.

So that's all for now. I have two more dresses to make, but I'm hoping to achieve a little more than that in my last two weeks of holidays. Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Liberty Tova

Three whole days without a post! That's certainly my longest stretch without blogging for a while. I've been a little frazzled these last couple of days. Taking care of Adele last week, when she had both tonsillitis and bronchialitis (double whammy!), certainly took it's toll. Worse though, the boys appeared to get jealous of the attention she was getting and chose to whinge far more than usual, really testing my patience. They are all at daycare today though, so I finally get a little time to re charge and I do really need it!

I'm not sure why I felt a need to make a Tova out of Liberty tana lawn in winter, but I did. This top is rather lovely though. I'm not a floral fabric person, but this print, Emilia's Flowers, is super sweet and not overly girly.
Clearly this top is not suited to the chilly weather we are enjoying in Sydney. So for today, it will be worn with a long sleeve merino top, a vibrant crochet scarf and a lovely new, charcoal bag from Valhalla Brooklyn.
If you ever have a few spare dollars and need a new leather bag, I can't recommend Valhalla Brooklyn bags enough. I LOVE them!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

UFO Management

Just trying to work through my list of UFOs.

I finally finished Adele's winter coat. I used the Make It Perfect Uptown Girl pattern, which I think is quite simple and sweet. I made her jacket in wide wale corduroy, that I picked up from Spotlight last year on sale, and some Anna Maria Horner quilting cotton for the lining. I didn't add the pellon inner, mostly because I couldn't be bothered buying any, but also because I think a lined corduroy jacked, with warm clothes underneath is really all we need here in Sydney. If it's any colder then we just stay inside.
The pattern came together nicely but I think it may run a little small. I made a size 1 and it fits Adele well, but she is quite small for her age, still under 10 kilos.
I also finished my cushion, which has been sitting in pieces for quite some time. Originally this project was inspired by this Anthropologie cushion. While mine looks nothing like the original, I think it looks quite nice on my retro rocking chair.
I used some Kristen Doran screen printed fabric on the reverse and added a little stitching for interest. I was too lazy to add a zip, so added a couple of buttons to keep the envelop closed.

So, originally I had nine projects on my 'to do' list. Five have been completed, one has been placed in the wardrobe to forget about for now and the others are still in progress. I'm getting there, which is just as well, as I think my sewing room will be changing to a much smaller space very soon.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Spreading the word.

I find telling people about my obsession hobby, kinda uncomfortable. Some people find it interesting, others intimidating, others find it just plain weird. 'Really you sew? knit? crochet? How old are you?'

Sometimes though, there are benefits to letting people in on the secret. Like one of my regular customers who last night that informed me of a large stash of vintage patterns at a local Op Shop (I had only raided that particular stash just a few days earlier, but didn't tell her that for fear of loosing any future tips). Then there's the friends who very kindly forward the stash of patterns and fabric that they've received from relatives. While some are more size 18, than size 10, and some smell so terribly of mothballs that they need to be left out of the porch for a month, others include a great selection of super cute kiddy patterns.
This haul of goodies came via my mum and is from one of her quilting group friends. This friend has forwarded a number of goodies to me in the past, including a massive stash of fleece and ribbing which, going by the amount of fluoro yellow and green in it, is from the late 80's. Seriously, if you live near me and need any ribbing in any colour, just shoot me an email.
This haul also included a few super sweet pieces of eyelet cotton fabric.
Then there's this book. It's a monogrammed copy of The Cutters Guide, a very technical tailoring book from 1934. Seriously, this is so technical I feel like it's written in a different language. I'll hold onto it though because you never know if you'll be able to refer to it for something one day.

So tell me, do you tell others about your hobby?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Crafting for the weather: Jitterbug Angel Scarf

I gravitated toward this yarn from across the aisle at the recent Sydney Craft and Quilting Fair. It's so vibrant!
Keeping in mind Kate's scarf from a while back, I was on the look out for nice, light weight yarn. Then when I got home to check her Ravelry details, I realised that I'd bought the exact same yarn as her. I'm totally ripping her style! I guess imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
The yarn is Colinette Jitterbug in Wasabi Squeeze. Now, while this is a lovely finished scarf and the yarn was nice to work with, I really didn't enjoy making it. The whole scarf is made with double trebles and it took about one third of the scarf to form nice rhythm, yarn over, two, three, pull through, hook one, two, three, four, repeat.

I'm currently hooking a lovely shawl also made with Jitterbug in Salted Caper and thoroughly enjoying how well it's coming together. Maybe more weather appropriate creating will follow?

Details Ravelled here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Cape: McCalls 5913. Stash Bustin' Success?

Just a small distraction on the way to achieving my uni holiday sewing goal. What do you think of my new cape?? I quite like it. I think I may even wear it. Better yet, it was made entirely from items in my stash excluding the pattern,  but including buttons and thread. I love stash management projects!

I've spent far too much time this past week, thinking about my plans to make a cape. While I like the modern styling of the Tessuti cape, I'm not a big enough fan to part with the $$ to buy the pattern. I had a range of styles in my Etsy faves from 1960's to 1980's, but in the end I settled on McCalls 5913.
Now, while this pattern clearly has a more modern style, I was quite concerned about the volume built into it. I don't think I would wear a cape if it felt too costumey. I also like the styling in the Tessuti cape, that has shorter 3/4 length arms with a button to control the volume. So I set about changing this myself and it was really quite easy.

You can see my modifications below. I reduced the volume on each side seam by chopping off about 4 inches from the notch near the shoulder down to the bottom. I then redrew the shape of the cape to allow 3/4 length arms, maintaining the original curve of the cape by using the bit that I chopped off  at the bottom as a guide. These modifications were then transferred to the back piece. I checked my sizing throughout to make sure there was enough ease for movement around the body and arms, while also ensuring it still look cape-like.

Despite the reduced volume and other changes, I'm pretty sure it still looks like a cape.
Following Tasia's guide to matching plaids and I pinned and pinned and pinned my fabric before cutting. I'm quite pleased with the matching.
As this cape was made with wool or a wool blend (I can't remember what it was), I chose to line the cape with some Anna Maria Horner voile from my stash. It is quite lovely and silky and mostly goes with the wool outer. Well at least it's obscure enough that it's not too dominating.

I kinda followed the instructions from Meg Made for lining the cape, but left the bottom edge of the cape till last, turning it up, right sides together to stitch the hem, leaving a gap to pull the cape back through.
Exciting lining

The last change made to the cape was to the collar. On the pattern it shows it worn up, but I chose not to interface the collar and it sits down just as nicely as up.

So that's that for now. I do quite like it and will hopefully test it in public soon, maybe even to pick up the kids today. Well two kids anyway. Adele is horribly sick at the moment with both tonsillitis and bronchialitis - blah!

The only thing I need to figure out is how I hold my bag while wearing this cape...