Saturday, December 24, 2011

End of year post 2011

My main goals for this year were to keep sewing plenty of things for myself and to use more fabric than I bought.

In 2011, I made 73 items, including 41 pieces of clothing for me and 23 for the kids. I made the same amount of things for myself last year. Considering I am working an additional day each fortnight and am volunteering slightly more, this result is pleasing.

Woven tops/blouse: 7
Knit tops: 9
Jumpers: 3
Jackets; 2
Shorts: 3
Pants: 4
Dresses: 2
Skirts: 3
Other: 8

Favourite item: Chantilly dress – maybe because it is fresh on my mind. I spent a lot of time on it, and was pleased to take it from something I was too scared to start to an elegant, swishy delight.

Most unexpected enjoyment: pink Swiss-dot Taffy top. I actually made it as a muslin but love to wear it.

Biggest flop – a tee that stretched out of shape straightaway. Honourable mention goes to a lovely sheath dress with the shrinking lining – twice i have washed it and twice the lining has pulled at the hem funny.

Most time consuming: I was going to say my fuchsia wool jacket, but I actually think the Chantilly dress took longer.

Most frustrating project: jeans. They launched a real desire to acquire a vintage beauty to do the tough stuff.

Okay, so how much fabric did I buy, and how much did I use? In the end, I bought 81.55 metres. Wow, and that was trying to be careful. My biggest downfalls was a 40% off sale and some fabrics on ebay that came in 5m lots.
Of that 81.55m, I used 60.2m of it this year. That is a conversion rate of more than 73%. It makes it seem less bad that only 21.35m was added to the stash from the fabric I bought this year.
I sewed up 94 metres in 2011.that includes fabric for 5 muslins. I worked out that 63% of the fabric I used came from the fabric I had bought this year and 37% came from the stash. There is one UFO of 90cm plus I donated 7.3 metres to my daughter's class for costumes, so that brings the total up to 102.2m.

Keeping tabs of how much I bought and used was a useful motivation tool,so I plan to keep it up but it will not be my main goal for next year. I will have to think about what I want to achieve next year. I have a few ideas of what to enter into competitions, and need to start earlier than normal to meet the deadline.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My favourite project of the year, and the last one

We are off on our annual beach holiday following Christmas celebrations, so this is the last sewn thing I will make for 2011. The husband and I are invited to a NYE wedding and I wanted to make something really special to wear that could be worn to a variety of events. I already had the Colette Chantilly pattern sitting around for ever and a day,  and I bought some silk rayon chiffon to use for the shell.
The dress is underlined in black cotton batiste and lined in a purple rayon lining. The lining is left over from the bridesmaid outfits from my wedding 8 years ago. Speaking of my wedding, these shoes are the ones I wore for my wedding and I will probably wear them to this wedding. My only other heels are the shoes I wore to my formal in 1998!

 I plan to write up a review and pop it onto pattern review because I did experience some "glitches" with the pattern. Let's just say I wasn't as impressed with the pattern as other people have been. I felt like there were options for working with sheer fabrics that were not included in the pattern, and that I would have appreciated someone doing all the work sourcing the correct techniques for me.
 Still, I am happy with the final result. The dress is swishy, feminine and oh so lovely. It feels delightful to the touch and brings a smile to my face. It took a huge amount of hours, not that I was counting, and I took the easy option in many instances!
 As it is a lot shorter than I am used to, I used a narrow turned hem to keep as much length as possible.
As I was dealing with a very sheer fabric, I elected to underline all parts of the dress so that none of the seams would show through. The underlining technique I used for the skirt created a faux Hong Kong finish at the seams which is particularly pleasing. I remembered the technique was used by the Slapdash sewist but I first read about the technique in Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing. It is a method I am keep to try again, not just for sheer fabric, as it makes a great lined garment.

 The lining finished were the skirt starts, so all gathers are neatly contained and there is no show through. I like my linings to be fully attached, so this change satisfied that as well.
 Here is the inside shot. It could almost be worn inside out.
 It even looks great on a hanger.
Thanks for looking!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Jalie 2908 - shorts length in cream

There was a gap in my wardrobe for a pair of cream/stone coloured shorts. I decided to make the Jalie jeans pattern again when I found a stretch brushed cotton twill fabric at a local fabric store.

This is the third time I have made this pattern. However, I still learn things each time I make it. I guess it really depends on the thickness and stretchiness of individual fabrics. This cream fabric was super stretchy and really thick. Even princess struggled through topstitching the corner of the waistband. Thankfully I have found a tutorial for a different waistband method, so I will try to remember to use it (it is from page 31 of the Jeans sew along on Pattern review)
As I was sewing these up, I thought they might end up in the bin. Everything was going wrong. I had topstitching problems (turns out I had the needle in wrong, whoops). I had cut out part of the Jalie 2909 pattern and I had to re-cut. The thick layers of fabric wouldn't fit under princess's presser feet (I found that if I dropped the feed dogs, I had a enough room to manipulate the seam into place before raising the feed dogs again). And the dramas of topstitching on a machine who's straight stitch is left of centre. I ended up using a rolled hem foot that I bought from eBay for topstitching, because it gave me a good reference.

I wasn't particularly happy with the topstitching on the pockets, but I think I got better as I went along. Being super stretchy, I had to reduce the width of the pants - they were a little too baggy with too many wrinkles at the back. The good news was I just took the side seams in another 5mm. The shorts are really comfortable, easy to move in and will be perfect for work (check out my method for whipping children into shape)
Hmm, the only thing wrong with the super stretchy fabric combine with Jalie's instruction of sewing the leg seams is there is a mighty big camel toe happening down there. Oh dear!
Yes, I just put a photo of myself with a camel toe on the web.

Friday, December 02, 2011

My croquis

Inspired by Joanne from Stitch and Witter, I too have made myself a croquis. The Colette sewing handbook has you trace a photo of yourself, but I decided to play around with with some programs I have on my computer to get a similar result. Here is me in all my pear shaped goodness.

To do it on the computer with no fancy software, I did the following:
  1. Take photo against plain background in tight fitting clothing
  2. Open photo in Picasso 3
  3. Crop photo (Basic fixes)
  4. Chose B&W in Effects
  5. Save
  6. Open in
  7. Select pencil sketch in Artistic (in Effects tab)
  8. Play around with the pencil width - I chose 2
  9. Select the Paint bucket and colour black
  10. Invert colours under Adjustments tab
  11. Save

Or instead of steps 9 and 10, open in Paint and clean up with the eraser.

I could have cleaned it up some more, but I am pretty happy with the results.

Now I think I will ponder my wonky body. No more denial.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Colette Taffy top

It took awhile to get these photos, but I finally got some taken. Having another occasion to wear version 2 of the Taffy top helped, but I had limited time to get ready for church and put dinner on the table, get the kids ready etc.
This Taffy blouse is made from a silk cotton voile that I have been hoarding in the stash for the perfect pattern. Since it is a very fine fabric with a fab print, I wanted a top with limited seams to break up the pattern. I had earmarked it for a kimono style top, but when I found this in the Colette book, I knew that this fabric would be perfect for it.

I made a size 4-6 and the sizing is good. I found it a little long for my liking, so I just made the hems a little deeper. Oh, and the only other change was applying the bias so that it was on the inside only. It probably made the neckline a tiny bit deeper than drafted, but the difference was only slight it probably is not worth mentioning.

The flutter sleeves are the highlight of the top. The really help to broaden my shoulders.

The fabric was being gobbled by my sewing machine, so I tried an old trick and started sewing from the middle of the seam. This is the first time in a long time I have done french seams and they really are a simple luxery. And it doesn't really add to the construction time.

Princess has been having a workout today. I am making some Chino coloured shorts from the Jalie jeans pattern and there has been plenty of topstitching to do. Using such an old machine has been taking me back to learning to sew on my Mum's 70s era Elna.. It has been a weird experience because Princess is just as cranky as the Elna (such as having a whinge when the needle is not down when starting to sew). Makes me appreciate that I sew in the modern era, with being able to move the needle position and adjustable speed. Still, Princess is breezing through the topstitching, which is her only function for me.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fairy Floss Taffy blouse and my new baby

The Colette Sewing handbook arrived in perfect timing for me. Not only is it the busiest time for me professionally, I have been busy with many social outings. Other introverted people will understand how tiring it is to have additional social occassions. This weekend we had a work Christmas party, 21st party and a games day. Plus I had to do my normal chores and Sunday school commitments.
The Taffy top is delightfully simple yet elegant enough for an evening out in the big smoke.

 The pink swiss dot cotton is my test garment. I wore it today to the games day at my house, and Sunday school. I will post my other version soon. It never made it to the big smoke but I wore it out last night to the golf club for the 21st.

I am tired. Two late nights plus socialising have zapped my energy. I actually dyed this fabric. It was a off white and I was aiming for a fuchsia, but ended up with a fairy floss pink. It was been sitting around my sewing room since it is a little girly for the blouses I wear to work. Now that I ahve made it up, I am really enjoying the colour.

And here is my new baby - a HG Palmer Princess. This baby was originally used at a uni in Brisbane, but was rescused by DH's BIL from being sent to the dump. I sent it in for a service and am told she is in fantastic condition, hardly used. I was delighted that she is a rebadged Janome machine, making all my machines made by Janome. She sews through 8 layers of denim withhout noticing, so perfect for the jeans I plan to make.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I found my sewjo - hooray

This was my first project in a while. I kinda lost my sewjo when I went back to work.  It is hard to believe that I hadn’t touched my machines in nearly a month.
I tried a few things to find the mojo – I traced a few patterns, reviewed my sewing list and I even measured all my fabrics (just over 200 metres, not too bad). I just couldn’t seem to settle on a project and cut out some fabric.
Part of the reason I decided to start a database was because I couldn’t remember if I had washed the fabrics or not. I used to have a stash list on my old, old computer details length, width, fabric content etc as well as whether it had been pre-laundered or not. I am not one of those organised ones that take their fabric straight to the laundry room. Maybe I should make this a new habit.

Burda #126 from 3/2005 was one of the patterns I traced. It is a straight-ish skirt with an inverted box pleat at the centre front, big patch pockets, belt loops, jeans style yoke and curved waistband. I used a straight size 40 and the fit is spot on. I used the same colour stretch drill as my last jacket – I ended up having to buy another cut of the fabric because the first time the staff member did not give me enough for a jacket. I don’t plan to wear the skirt and the jacket at the same time though.

The skirt went together well – the instructions were very confusing and I still have no idea what they are talking about with the hem at the pleat. I ended up leaving the tabs off since they were wonky and I just wanted to move forward with the skirt rather than go back and recut the interfacing etc. Lazy I know.

This was the first time I had just the interfacing I ordered from Fashion Sewing  Supply. It is a great as everyone has said. Because of the stretch of the fabric, I also applied interfacing tape to the pockets and the hem, to stop any rippling of the stitches. If I make this skirt again, I will sew the pockets on and then sew the side seams. The pockets abut the side seam so sewing the pockets within the side seam would prevent the slight gap that happens when the fabric is stretched.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Keeping it real

The thing I like about getting older is that I can be more realistic because I have more self awareness and am not afraid to be in denial about things. For example, I am aware of certain alterations that I need to make to patterns for a better fit – having sloping shoulders for instance is not a bad thing in the whole scheme of things and garments can look better if I actually make the alteration!
One thing I am trying to be more realistic about is my wardrobe and thus what I sew. At heart, I am a very practical person. I don’t get dressed up at home if I am not going out (actually, I wear old comfortable clothes). I don’t go out very much either, so not much need for those lovely dressy clothes that are so fun to plan and sew. I like to make stuff to wear for work, but if I am being real, I get fussy about what I will wear to work. It needs to be practical and comfortable
I am a special education teacher, working in a primary school in a low socio-economic area. The school is somewhat overcrowded and I don’t actually have a teaching space of my own. I go into other teacher’s classes and have to work within their space the best that I can. So I might be sitting on a chair next to a student’s desk, or I might have to kneel next to a student (and then move across the room to help other students) or I might sit on the floor with a group of students (I find it easier to sit on the floor with some of the work I do, since there are lots of flashcards and games and it is hard on my neck to bend down to make sure students are attending to the right information. I would like a big table for all of us to sit around, but there isn’t the space this year).
My point is, I need pants to sit and kneel on the floor. And with the weather the way it is in summer, I like light airy cotton tops so I don’t faint while on duty. The classrooms may be air-conditioned, but it is disgusting outside.

I have styled the new tops I have made with likely coordinates from my wardrobe. I wish I was more stylish but I got into the habit of not wearing dangly jewellery and putting my hair in a pony tail while at uni doing pracs and then working at a special school setting.

Red polka dot blouse #107 from Burda 6/2008

I have made this previously and since it was so a comfortable fit, I thought I would make it again. The red polka dot fabric was a recent purchase, and has a lovely smooth feel to it. I made the pleats in the bodice, but omitted the elastic (last time I did shirring here and it made it a little too tight for my liking).

As expected, it went together very nicely. I followed Gigi’s tutorial for a clean finish inside the collar stand. I chose white pearly shank buttons. I love this pattern for the lovely pleated sleeve as well as the pleats on the bodice. It makes the waist nip in nicely.

Pinstripe blouse

This is another Burda #107 from 6/2008. I was going to make it sleeveless (like Solvi's shirtdress and because I was a little short on fabric) but I found the semi-raglan sleeves cut in too much, and I realised I had just enough to cut the sleeves if I cut them out separately.

I love getting the nice finish on the collar stand. Outside is left, inside is pictured right.


Anthropologie inspired trapeze top

My last Anthro knockoff was a dud but this one is a little better. Only because it has a belt to cinch it in correctly. The fabric store actually on cut a metre rather than the metre and a half I wanted for this top. I was able squeeze it in, with a back seam but there wasn’t enough to make some binding for the neck and underarms. I ended up using store bought stuff, but I was reminded why I hate using it. In the future, I will make my own again. I don’t really use it much and when I have needed it I have been able to use from the stash of handmade bias I had made when I was younger and obsessed with binding everything.

I used this pattern as a basis for the trapeze shape, and the other pattern for the neckline. The sleeves are from another Burda pattern. I didn’t want to add the sleeves but the straps where too thin without them. I suppose it looks more like the top I was trying to knock off. 

Spotty skirt and Swiss dot blouse (#125 from 05/2009, skirt a mishmash of patterns and drafting)

I love using my tried and tested patterns over and over, but I wanted something that would look similar to my fave twirly skirt pattern but was a little less time consuming to sew. I kept the front yoke piece and using a vintage Kwik Sew pattern at a guide, made a 6 gore flared skirt pattern. I made the pattern quite a while back, so I am not sure why I chose 6 gores over say 8. Maybe the Kwik Sew one has 6 gores?

Because I had used the same yoke piece for front and back, the back sits a little funny. And the gores stick out too much for my liking. I am not sure if it because the fabric I used is not drapey enough or because the amount of gores doesn’t distribute the flare the way my other gored skirts do. I was a little sad when I first sewed it (weeks ago) but now I am feeling pretty happy about the skirt.

The blouse pattern is actually a pattern for a shirtwaister. I loved the pleated sleeves and cuff but did not want it as a dress, so I stopped tracing the pattern after 55cm (which was based on another blouse pattern that I had recently traced). I am not sure what I was thinking when I cut it out the pattern for the first time from some expensive fabric. I must have figured that my last blouse had a collar and stand so this one would be a cinch.

The thing is, I traced it some time ago from a borrowed Burda and I had misplaced the directions. The other issue was I have lengthen blouse that I based the length of this blouse on, when I should have lengthened this one too before cutting out.

I love love love how the cuffs worked out. I used Gigi’s method for a clean finish here too. I am so glad a could apply buttonholes here too. When I first had it pinned, I thought my arms were too wide. I then realised that I was overlapping it too much plus I could use smaller buttons here.

 I also used a method for a clean finish facing - sew the interfacing to the right side of the facing, turn and fuse to the inside. I also topstitched.

I love the results of this blouse and while probably use it again with some changes (change the front facing a little, plus the length). There is just enough puff in the sleeve for my liking and it will be great when I can use a wider hem.