Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Summing up sewing in 2012

This year, I managed to sew 61 items – 27 for the kids and 34 for me. Compared to last year, I made more items for the kids but less for me.
For myself:


Favourite item: The trench coat – pretty colour, great for coolish weather.
Most unexpected enjoyment: pencil skirt – I have avoided the shape thinking it was unflattering but it actually a rather flattering silhouette. And the Sorbettos that I made are worn a lot.

Most worn items: I pretty much wear the blue and red shorts I made weekly and the yellow tee and black and white striped tee as well. What can I say – I love my basics and have been experimenting with colour more this year.


Biggest flop: my first project of the year, which was a little too tight, the straps a little too short and the fabric a tad too sheer. Ooops.

Most time consuming: Trench coat

Most frustrating project: getting some decent fitting pants. Thankfully, thanks to StephC, it is now a breeze and I have lots of plans for pants and shorts in the new year.
This year, I acquired 96.7m of fabric. This includes nearly 17 metres of lining plus fabric that I won and fabric that was given to me. I managed to convert 45.5m(47%) of that fabric to clothing.

56.1m of fabric was from online vs. 40.6m from bricks and mortar stores (58% vs. 42%). 4m of dud fabric was purchased, 100% online from ebay!

I used a total of 85.7 metres of fabric this year, including lining and 1 UFO of a pair of leggings I am too lazy to sew. 45.5m (53%)came from the new fabrics I bought and the other 40.2m (47%) came from old stash.

As you can see, I acquired much more fabric than I used (11m). However, in my mind it is a lot more even because of all the lining fabric I bought.

I haven’t thought a great deal about sewing goals for next year. I am reluctantly returning to work full-time (I say reluctantly because it was the school that preferred me full-time). The last time I worked 5 days a week was before I had children and back then I only sewed on the holidays as my weekends were busy socialising.

I guess my main goal will be to sew a little bit each day, maybe working on easier projects during the week and keeping challenging ones to the weekend or holidays. I am going to be pushing myself to hit the machines rather than the couch at night.

The other goal will be to wear more colour. Someone made a comment on my blog last year when I made a black Colette Chantilly dress about why I had not chosen a colour and I guess on some level that stuck with me. I have trying to dress with less black and more colour lately.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sparkling new dress

I wanted to sew a new dress to wear out to dinner while we are on holidays. Every year DH’s family and my parents, who are mostly all down the coast holidaying, go out to dinner the night before New Year’s Eve.


I had bought this gorgeous blue fabric online intending to make Burda 05-2008-115, which is a flared sheath dress with a twist front. When the fabric arrived, the width was a lot narrower that I had thought (107cm wide) and I did not think I had enough for that particular pattern. Well, I sure did not feel like tracing a pattern to check out whether there was enough. Cue getting out the patterns and searching for something different.
In my mind, I wanted something fitted through the bodice and flared in the skirt. The fabric was thin and drapey but I only had 2.5m of it. I remembered about a pattern I had already used, the bodice of 107 with the skirt of 116 from the 05/2009 Burda. Being lazy, it was lovely being able to see that I had enough fabric without tracing a new pattern. The only other change I wanted was to ditch the sleeves. After trying on the dress that I had previously made, I saw that it would be easy to change the sleeve pattern.

The fabric is a linen/cotton/lurex blend. It is quite silky and likes to misbehaves. You know, you look at it and it crushes...or stretches out of shape. Even with stabilising interfacing tape, the fabric near the zipper looks puckered. And I am not talking about the hem (which seems much longer in the back but fine when I look in the mirror.) But is it such a delightful colour and the perfect fabric for high summer.

In hindsight, I would have bound the entire armhole rather than lining the “sleeve” and sewing the rest of the armhole seam with bias. It would have created a cleaner finish. And if I would do it again, I would have chosen a slightly thicker fabric without a mind of its own.

Here is how I did the sleeve alteration. First I pinned the pattern together.

Then I eyeballed where I thought the armcyce should go, using the rest of the armcyce as a basis.

 Trace a new pattern and see how it looks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Tiramisu

This pattern made me realise I am a bit stuck in my ways, sewing wise. I was put out of my comfort zone a couple times and it wasn't in regards to the sewing portion at all.
#1: I am not a huge fan of paper tissue patterns. I always trace my patterns now and I hate am used to tracing on thick paper. Okay, so I got over that. It is not too hard, especially as the pattern pieces do not overlap. The tissue has also compacted back down to normal size.
#2: Cutting layout. I have been sewing knits for oodles of years. Have always folded along the grain - find the rib and fold along it. Easy. I found it hard to trust that the knit was okay folding it a different way, especially as the cutter had made a mess of the cut edge and it was way crooked.
#3: I had to cut it on the floor, as that is the only space I had wide enough. I hate intensely dislike cutting on the floor. the only other place wide enough would have been my dining table but I don't cut there in case of scratches.
My bindings were way off grain so I ended up recutting by first folding along the grain to make sure both sides of the fold were on grain.
According to the measurements, I was a 35A. When I test fitted, it was very loose, so I took the side seams in around 2cm on each side. Without the skirt, the top portion seemed to fit fine. It was still a little loose but according to the instructions, the dress ease was designed with a relaxed fit.
When I attached the skirt, I was underwhelmed with the result. The weight of the skirt drastically pulled down the bodice but at the same time there was bagginess to the side of the bust and in the armpit area.  This was mainly because of the very stretchy rayon elastane fabric I had used. It was a far from flattering look.

 I compared the 35A pattern I had used to the 30, and worked out the 30A was closest to the adjustments I had made/needed (narrower, less length). Luckily I had extra fabric to recut a new bodice.

The fit is now spot of and much more flattering and comfortable. The bustline is where it should be, there is no puffiness in the armpit area and the arm bindings are fitted how I like them.
 My favourite part would have to be the skirt. I love the drape the bias creates.
  I hardly ever buy patterns, let alone new and current ones but I had been super impressed with Steph's dedication and work ethic and of course the design and couldn't wait to try this pattern. Steph has done an awesome job with her first printed pattern. I love that she experimented and broke a lot of the traditional "rules" for sewing with knits. It challenged my mindset and I am excited about her future patterns.

Monday, December 03, 2012

A typical day at school

A typical day at work during the summer is me wearing a pair of Jalie 2909 with a light cotton top or tee. I like the pants cut to knee level. This is my latest pair, in a navy bengaline. I can't think of anything navy that I have sewn, probably because I had a navy uniform at school. I am not so troubled by navy at the moment, and these might actually go with the new staff polo shirt as well. 
We were playing hangman as a lead in to the book I was about to read. I think I have played hangman twice this year, I record for me! And yes, that is a blackboard. The school has invested in interactive whiteboards (and I have an interactive screen in this spare room) but sadly, I pretty much get chalk dust on me everytime I work. There are only so many things you can show on the interactive screen.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Yellow pleated dress

Yellow is Jalisa's new favourite colour, so I was excited to find a white and yellow print to go with her white shoes. Finally the photos I have taken look good. Jalisa with wet hair does not a good picture make.
 I love this little dress and being a Burda pattern (#143 from 5/2005) I thought it would be a great pattern. It has been while since I completed this dress but I can still remember the frustration I felt sewing it.  Firstly it is much too short. Almost indecently short. Maybe some people would consider it indecently short as it is.
The designer has decided to have fold on facing. I wasn't thinking, but if you want a neat finish when sewing on straps, you really need sewn on facings to hide the ends of the straps. I decided to just go ahead do it as per the directions rather than recutting a new facing. Big mistake but I am pretty lazy!

Jalisa loves it and it is a good fit, apart from the length.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Red tee and face.

Who doesn't love reading sewing blogs that have fabulous photos. Carolyn's blog is so wonderful for this. So inspirational. Every now and then, I decide to take a photo somewhere in the yard to try to make something a little more interesting. You know, something other than standing in front of a brick wall. Spots are very limited because my husband and I are not gardeners. He hates trees and I can't keep plants alive when I try.
Today, like many other days, it did not work out. I thought that I would go out near our mango tree but realised as I was halfway down there that my neighbours are making the most of the breeze and sitting out on their deck. There is no way that I can take photos of myself, by myself when they are there.
So I go out the front and take a few photos. After a while, I realise that the people up the road are out on their deck taking turns to look my way. While they may or may not be looking at me, I am just paralysed. And my facce turns red Luckily I can count on my daughter to come out and take some photos with me so I don't feel so bashful.

 I made up Jalie 2905 (with the scooped neckline from 2906 - I think that is right) in a red cotton lycra on Friday. Felt great to be sewing again since I had been struck down with a vertigo causing virus that left me couch/bed bound for days (oh, and I should be marking tests and writing reports too!)
I had been wanting to try a twist neckline for sometime. Not sure if it looks twisted enough so that it looks like a deliberate design features, rather than being a poor seamstress! It will still be worn - I have been wearing it today at my daughter's school fete.

Monday, November 05, 2012

I need a hero

As I was thinking about writing this post, I had a song running through my head. A quick search and I realised it was from one of the shrek movies.
Isn't the fabric for the shirt super cute? I originally purchased it from the crafty mamas store but I do believe it would be found at the sister site. Well, having said that, I can only see another colourway now. The pattern is an old fave, Ottobre #21 from 2/2005.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Melbourne Cup day dress - school suitable

Most people at work dress up a little on Melbourne Cup day. We even have a hat competition and a lovely lunch. This year, I wanted to make a new dress but use fabric from my stash. While I may have a lot of stashed fabric, most of it is suitable for garments other than dresses. Nothing very bright or cheerful in there at the moment that is not otherwise earmarked (like the red wool crepe).
 The fabric is a sheer rayon polyester blend from John  Kaldor. I decided to underline in a midweight cotton as the pattern had a couple of seams where it would be difficult to use french seams.

The pattern is Burda #118 from 07/2007

I chose this pattern for a few reasons. One being the 'cut in' armhole at the back. Even with sewing the seam line towards the centre more, it is hardly noticable. The other feature was the A-line skirt, which I would would make fitting easier and be slightly more suitable for wearing to work.
The only slightly tricky part was the seams at the front. I had no idea what the instructions were saying so I just plodded along doing my own thing.
I had nicely set in the zipper and sewn the back seam when I realised I would have to unpick them so I could sew the facings on. The Slapdash Sewist has this tute which works well for facings as well. I remember learning this method from a New Look pattern in the 90s, and being the first way I learnt to sew facings/lining on a dress, this is the only method I have ever used.

I need to have a looksie for a fasinator tute. I want to make something up over the weekend for the competition.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Red shorts this time

I followed up my blue shorts with some red ones. I have had this 1 metre piece of red stretch cotton sateen in the fabric stash for sometime. The fabric store cut it wrong and so I thought I ended up with a piece only suitable for the kids. A little while ago I dug this out and thought I might be able to manage a pair of shorts for me. I am selfish like that (besides, I made a pair of red shorts for J last year and they still fit).
 I have used a stretch sateen for shorts before and it is not really that great for pants designed for non-stretch wovens. One of two things can happen. The pants get the baggy, saggy elephant look. Or they constantly slide down and you are forever hitching them up. So I cut this on the cross grain for stability.
I did not have enough yardage for pockets, so I pinned the pocket piece to the front, matching the pocket seam lines.
 I really, really wanted a pair of red shorts to match my new red sandels. I have been hooked on buying Dansko shoes ever since reading about them on one of my favourite blogs (the slapdash sewist).
The pattern is exactly the same as the blue pair. I have retraced it into a shorts pattern, and adjusted the hem so that the hemline is the same circumference as the fold up portion of the hem. Makes a huge difference when it is not tapered in.

Thanks for the feedback from my last post. I also posted at my regular forum site (Crafty Mamas) and there does not seem to be a general consensus. There was suggestion for a darker belt, so I may make that in the near future. I have already moved on to my next dress for J, so have to remember to look for some next time I am at the fabric store.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Pale pink lace dress - feedback required

This dress is a case of when the fabric and pattern marriage doesn't work out as hoped.  I saw some lace dresses at the shops and practically raced to the fabric store to see what kind of laces they had. As it turned out, they had exactly what I was looking for - a pale pink cotton lace. Well, it is a cotton nylon blend. I thought that a very simple shift would be the way to go to let the fabric shine. 
Maybe it is the longer length. Maybe it is the colour. The basic pattern doesn't help. The resulting dress is pretty but very plain.
I felt I had two options. Dyeing the dress or adding a belt. I have finally gotten around to making one from satin. It helps a little, but I am not sure if it is the answer. I think it is the colour of the dress. I am used to my daughter wearing bright, strong colours. I wanted a pale pink because I thought it would work well with her new white shoes.

 The belt is not fastened to the dress at the moment. I need feedback - should I keep the colour as is and wear with or without a belt, maybe of a different colour? Or should I dye it?

BTW, the pattern is Ottobre #12 from 4/2004, with the neckline from #23 16/09 and the sleeves shortened. The lace is  underlined with a pale pink cotton broadcloth and I used an invisible zipper at the back.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Shorter shorts

Even though it is school holidays, I managed to sew one garment this week. I did have a very busy three days helping run a camp at church and also caught up with a friend for lunch, shopping  and a movie. That is my excuse anyway.
 I have been meaning to make myself some shorter shorts for some time now. These are my tester pair to get a feel for wearing short shorts. I was thinking these would end up a little shorter but the fabric would not cooperate and looked  horrible every time I looked in the mirror.
 The pattern I have used it Burda #120 from 10/2005. An oldie but a goodie. I measured the shorts so they would be 47cm long when finished, but I think these sit lower and so are longer than I measured. I think in future I will cut it to a 42cm length.
 I have plans for a few more pairs of pants and this pattern worked out pretty well with using my pants block. I think I will trace a seperate pattern and make sure the hem are even when turned up. I ended up easing in the shorts because it was slightly tapered and therefore a little to short when turned in.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sorbetto in lace

Even though I was feeling a little burnt out (work and stresses at home) I decided to make my lace Sorbetto rather than hitting the couch on Friday.

The lace is underlined in a cotton broadcloth that I purchased at the same time as buying this lace.  Next time I underline, I will look in the other fabric store in town for a nicer underlining fabric. Underlining this lace was a lot trickier than my black and white Sorbetto as well as a yet to be blogged lace dress for my daughter. It stretched out and I had to recut it before I basted it to the underlining.
 I had meant to cut the fabric the other way but it deson't look so bad this way either. I only bought 1m so not enough to recut. I cut the top without the pleat.
 I finished the edges with bias binding on the inside. I prefer the binding on the inside but it does make it easier for my bra strap to show.
If I do decide to make the Sorbetto again, I will add some flutter "sleeves" I think, for a little more sun protection at work.