Monday, March 30, 2009

So long, sew along

Monday March 30, NZ time.

Well, it's that time folks, time to display the pants in all their g(l)ory. First let's recap the changes made to the pattern (Burda World of Fashion 09-2008-125). There's vanity sizing, and there's German sizing. I started with a 16 and had to grade them up to a 20! A 20! I'm deeply shocked, but not to the point where I avoided the Toberone in the pantry.

So I traced off the 16 (42) and basically added 3 inches to the waist and 2 to the hip and thighs. Now partly this is just because I prefer more wearable ease than 1 inch. 1 inch is not wearable ease, 1 inch is unwearable ease. You can not bend down to pick up a child with 1 inch ease, not unless you are sewing something with elastine or lycra. Now I know why they had their model saunter down the driveway. There's no way she could have got out of the car in those pants. Who needs a safety belt with trousers that tight? I tell you she's going NOWHERE.

So here in very crude form is the summary of changes. There were 13 major and a few minor. Some of the major were done twice, sometimes I added too much and had to trim back. Sometimes not quite enough and had to add more. It wasn't hugely time-consuming though, just fiddly.

As I mentioned previously I used wool suiting that I bought at a charity shop for the outer. Now this is a top quality fabric, but it's very masculine looking, and it gives the impression of earnestness and conservatism, like it's hiding something but presenting a respectable face : fabric for a dodgy accountant or lawyer for the mob.

I was going to make another pair in something more feminine and tweedy, but everything conspired against me. Benjy went ape in the fabric shop and I had to leave almost immediately. My sewing scissors suddenly went blunt. I am very careful to use them only for fabric, so that was really really weird. I ordered in a new Bernina but it won't arrive till next week. How many signs do you want? I just knew that the powers that look after weary mothers make sure they cannot overdo it on last minute sewing binges.

Anyway, I'm not 100 % sure of the silhouette. Can a not-very-skinny person really wear skinny pants? On the one hand, the vents create a flare at the bottom which balances out the thighs, so it's not too much like a house on stilts. The pockets are handy, but finish at the widest point of the hip. The full pant top is useful if you wear your briefs bigger than Rocketboy's, but they double your crotch length, which inevitably makes your butt look bigger. For me the biggest worry is all the extra fabric around the waist line.

The back view, pretty good:

And look at that thigh!

Here are the vents in more detail:

When all's said and done, I'm quite happy with these pants, so we'll say a success. I thoroughly enjoyed the sew-along, visiting new blogs and hearing about others going cross-eyed because they've been looking at their pants too long trying to work out how to fix all the pulls and gapes. Thanks to Antionette for managing this so ably and professionally and having the energy and enthusiasm to carry it along, and to Diana for getting the whole thing on the road.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I wore my pants out for the first time yesterday. I swear this is true, 3 different people said to me, "hey, great top, did you make that?"

I answered all in the negative, but to one I mentioned that I sewed the pants. "Oh" she said, "gosh you must be getting a lot of clothes in your wardrobe now."

Actually, overall I'm pretty pleased with pants, I just don't like the fabric much. It is pure wool grey suiting, with a black pinstripe, and I bought it at the op shop (charity shop) all 3.5 metres for $8 (that's $4 US). So it was a bargain, but its a blah bargain, because if I really thought about it I really see these pants in an a granny tweed - something with a loose weave and flecks of something else to give it a bit of texture. My inner cheap-skate short changed my vision.

So then I thought I might sew a shirt to go with it, something formalish to go with my lawyer-look pants. I found a nice shirt pattern and then matched it up with a white floral cotton from stash. Which I bought at the op shop for $3. Some people will never learn and I appear to be one of them.

Then I thought about it some more, "why not just go out and buy some fashion fabric of my choice. Live a little, go on, you can do it, you can pay full price for a lovely fabric."

Anyway, here's the tunic top Newlook 6752 made up. I bought the fabric (silk chiffon, let's just not go into details about how horrendous it was to sew) at Global Fabrics end of season half price sale.

But of course.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The modest reveal

I knew my sense of humour had returned to me when I laughed at the thought I had been insulted AND scammed. Since then a few other things have been resolved and my stress levels are back to the point where sewing becomes feasible again. I finished my pants last night and just have to give them a good press and then they'll be ready for the big reveal.

Although after seeing Rocket Boy on Pattern review this week I'm quickly revising my definition of the "big reveal". I think, Antionette, you'll agree with me that we'll have to change the name of the finale of our pant sew-along to "the modest reveal."

Now it's on to the silk chiffon top. I've cut and pinned it, so now I just have to sew it. Just have to sew it. Just have to sew silk chiffon.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Your good opinion not required.

Last night a guy came to our door collecting for Cancer research. He asked for a donation, I gave him the petty cash we had in our change bowl by the door. He looked at the money and he looked at me and said, "oh well, if that's all you think you can afford.." and his voiced trailed off into silence.

I remembered that in ancient Greek there is a single verb which means, "I have lost face in front of my community and now they think worse of me." It's amazing to think there is a language that can put that all into one word.

But I didn't lose face, because his opinion of me is unimportant to me. The single best thing about entering middle age is that although it's nice to have other people's good opinions, it's no longer required.

There's so much going on in my life at the moment that I have no energy to sew. Here are my trousers, mid seam. They have been sitting like that, in exactly that position, for the last couple of days.

I suspect they will sit like that for some time more.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

70's retro tunic

I did, of course, make a few more adjustments to the pants after looking at the photos. I took in the front crotch below the zipper and took in the front thigh area where there is a slight "jodpur" look. I always get that, it's another by-product of flat derriere - the sides get pushed out.

I did not, of course, get all the sewing done that I hoped for. I took Benjy for his inoculations to the doctor on Thursday and he left with every other child's illness in the waiting room. We have had a weekend of diarrhoea, vomiting and sleepless nights.

I sewed this a week or so ago and I'm really enjoying wearing it. I borrowed the pattern from my sister (blogged about here) It's a shame you can't see the details of the panel construction. I made it out of my $3 70's op shop remnant so it has a truly retro feel. I opened the neckline slightly - just cut and turned under with bias tape because I couldn't figure out how to make a facing with all those seams coming into centre front.

Anyway, I notice Simplicity has revived the style, (Simplicity 2927) and I'd like to give the modern version a crack because it means I can use a big button. I love big buttons.

The retro pattern I used was from 1970 (excellent year) and I made the fatal mistake of not checking the sloper size used. It is designed for smaller, leaner, Pre-McDonalds years. It turns out they have graded the sloper up a whole inch - which is almost another size, so I got caught out and had to let out all the seams.

The bust darts are interesting. They take a western trail up to the bust summit. I can see that a direct assault would have worked better and I might have to go out and buy myself a french curve to move the dart over to a northern ascent.

I also discovered that Murphy's rule of nursing applies here: if you had a small bust before nursing it will disappear afterwards, if you started with too much you will get more. I have discovered to my horror that I now fit into Palmer/Pletsch's definition of "very full bust."

Long weary sigh.

Happy sewing everyone.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pant sew along, final fittings.

Diary of Sew along to date:

Diana and Antoinette decide to make pair of pants. Invite me along for ride. Think about disaster of A + O pants and decide is good idea.

Choose Burda World of Fashion pattern. Decide is time to loose Burda virginity after years of untouched magazines.

Trace off pattern. Compare with sloper. Horrified by one inch ease throughout. Warning bells go off.

Fit tissue. Serious shortfall registered from hip to waist. Add half an inch to sides. Have to redraft pockets as no longer fit. Square off front and add tissue to zipper. Divide back dart in two. Slope second dart away from grainline towards "fluff." Make low flat dierriere adjustment.

Fit lining. Quibble with husband about coming onto deck in my see-through lining where neighbours can see. Husband points out photos destined for internet so better get used to publicity.

Lining reveals back and front crotch too short. Try pinning deeper seam in back. Still too short, so lengthen back crotch top and bottom. Size of tummy problem revealed. New shelving gone in below tummy button. Suspect baby souvenir. Realise front trouser zipper with pockets bad style choice for tummy protusion. Redo zipper to put more space into waist at centre front.

Sew trousers in pant fabric. Realise pant fabric has too much body. Darts pucker at bottom. Should have reduced stitch length to minimum. Consider redoing but suddenly feel very tired.

Front pockets gape because of tummy protusion. Decide good idea to sew silk chiffon knee length tunic to wear over top: got myself 'get of jail free' card.

Waist too large. Realise real problem is protusion below waist, not waist itself. Can't face redoing zipper for third time, think laterally: go to cupboards and find chocolate, open freezer for icecream.

Try on pants again. Trousers very baggy below seat. Problem low flat dierriere and full thighs. Pull in to remove excess fabric from butt, thighs too tight, loosen off inseam, seat too loose. Cannot win. However, compromise by taking in back inseam 5 mms.

Draft waistband by placing tissue round tummy. Sew wasitband but do not turn and finish. Allow room to unpick for refitting.

Adopt philosophy that perfection in pants is for gods or people who make 7 muslins.

Perfection very lonely place, prefer stick with crowds.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sisterhood blogging award

A few days ago I received this sisterhood blogging award from Cindy.

Thanks, Cindy that was so sweet of you. What's more she got it from Lindsay T. Now if you don't follow Pattern Review you won't know she is, but if you do, you'll know she is a BIG name in the sewing world.

There are people on Pattern Review that have sewing celebrity status. You can guarantee if they make something about 20 people will comment. Sometimes the coolest things get a couple of comments but if Amanda S or Erica B or Lindsay T or the very unfortunately named Kaye Y (say her name aloud and you'll get what I mean) made it you can guarantee that there will be a flurry of comments.

It always makes me laugh, but then again, when you look at what they make you can see why. They have got their style sorted and the standard of their workmanship is outstanding. (Bias taped armholes anyone? Embroidered bagged linings? How about a couture finished coat? )

I was thinking about who to nominate, but I always come up with the same problem. I don't like leaving anybody out, because I read a lot of blogs and everyone's got something to offer.

It did make me think about what I value in a blog, and so I am passing on the spirit of the award. So here it is, I would like to show my appreciation for all blogs out there that:

have a sense of fun
show an enjoyment in the creative process
reveal a sense of the person and their life in an honest and real way

Lots of sewing to show in the weekend, when my photographer is home from work... have sewn a retro tunic, have sewn my trousers and the fit is very good, ...working on my silk chiffon top.

And best of all, none of it will involve me standing in my lining, with underwear revealed, pointing out my lumps of fat.

I think we can now all breathe a sigh of relief.

Happy sewing everyone.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hello pants sew along, bye bye pride.

Here I am, standing in the lining of my pants, in my nana knickers, with muffin tin in unadorned glory.

Since it's heading into autumn, I decided to sew some woolen pants, so I figured I may as well use the lining as my muslin. It makes sense. Think of a hot dog. It doesn't matter if the outer bread is soft and accommodating it's the sausage skin that splits.

But I feel, shall we say, somewhat exposed standing here in my lining. It's the most unforgiving fabric. It won't behave the same way as the outer, but hey, if you can get sateen to look good then the outer is going to be a cinch.

I tried on my pants inside out, so that I could pin up centre front once on. The good news is that it's more or less OK.

Pant sew along buddies, you can click on the photos to make them bigger. Friends and family ... don't go there, trust me, it's too much information.

For the front I have had to let out the centre front seam in the upper hip area. I think the smile on the front right indicates I need to increase the front crotch/thigh area.

For the side, wrinkes to point to the thigh area. I can see I'm probably going to have to make a full thigh adjustment.

For the back, actually not as bad as it looks. Definitely too short through the back crotch, the seam doesn't reach the elastic marking the waistline. Looks to me like it's too tight through the dierriere and thigh. I'm thinking I'll lengthen the crotch depth, tapering out through the inseam to assist the thigh area as well. I've already adjusted for a flat dierriere, so I don't think scooping more out will help.

I'm going to scale back the vents 1/2 inch - they look funny inside out but they're really great worn the right way out. The fullness at the bottom really helps to balance the thighs.

Pant buddies, do my alterations seem right?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The sewing room, done, but not dusted

Never dusted.

When the room got so disorganised I could barely stand to be in it, I just knew the time had come to make a more functional space. In my mind, I think I was dreaming of something straight out of a Freedom or Ikea catalogue, smart and new, wood and glass, Scandanavian simple but elegant style.

In the end my inner tight wad got the better of me. Just about everything I bought at an op shop and the shelving units were bottom of the line from the local Mitre 10. I just couldn't help myself. But you know what, it just has so much personality. I love it. More than if it had been designer brand new. I love my baskets from the Bangladesh women's weaving co-operative for my sewing odds and ends, and my kauri tray with ceramic tiles for my threads, and my art deco inspired magazine rack for all those Burda pattern books, and the empty marmalade jars for buttons and haberdashery and the op shop baskets for bigger sewing supplies and the little wood turned bowls and ceramic vases for scissors and markers. It's all there, and organised.

I also really love how I got to reuse just about everything I already had. Even an old laundry hamper got rejigged as another home for fabric scraps. (See how full it is, the scale of my fabric scrap problem can not easily be ignored. I sew around 20 garments a year and we moved here 5 years ago. That's a 100 garments worth of scraps folks)

And let's remind ourselves of what it was like before:

And here's the happy ever after:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thank you Iris

One of the few surprising pleasures of blogging is how incredibly interactive it can be. 2 days ago I received this delightful package in the mail from Iris. We had organised to do a craft swap. I sewed something for her for 2 hours, and she made some things for me: these Artist trading cards, now housed happily on my new sewing notice board. Everything is nicely packaged up and there was a lovely little card filled with thoughtful and appreciative comments. Sigh. it was a beautiful moment discovering them all.

My favourites are shown above, the fabric and hand sewn one, simply because it is fabric and hand sewn, and the one made from a book withdrawn from her library, because she blogged about it, and there I was holding something in my hand that I had seen on a blog! It could only have been more perfect if it had been a picture from this withdrawn book.

Also from Iris earlier in the week was a photo tag. It runs like this: take the 6th photo from your 6th folder and tag 6 people. 666 isn't that the devil's number? I think it might be a little unlucky to keep this tag as it is, but as the mistress of compromise here is my solution. My sixth photo from sixth folder is this one of Benjy, all freshly washed just after he was born. Now anyone out there reading this who would like to be tagged, consider yourself tagged!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pant progress

Yesterday saw the start of the pant sew along and I have got off to a good start by tracing the pattern and doing the first tissue fit. After comparing the draft with my trouser sloper it became apparent that there was less than an inch ease allowance through the thigh. When Burda say fitted, they MEAN IT. In fact, there is about an inch ease throughout (the usual amount is 3-4 inches). Morning tea is strictly off the agenda for the next month.

Still bruised from the A+O pant debacle, I opted for a 16 (42) and did a full waist adjustment by squaring off the front fly. It soon became apparent that this would not be enough, and I have since added another 5/8 inch from mid hip to waist.

I chuckled to myself a lot as I was doing my adjustments because I could hear Palmer/Plesch's kind euphemisms in my ears. "Add 1 inch -just in case - seams through the waist and hip." .... Just in case you bust out of 'em. "Move the dart over towards the side where you need it to slide over your fluff" Fluff? That would be 'fat' to you or me.

Anyway, it ended up being quite a time consuming process. I had to redraft the pockets because I had adjusted all the seams they fed into. I left a few things off in the tracing - key sewing and placement lines, and had to go back to put them on. I also broke the large 1 1/2 inch back dart down into 2 small darts so they would slide more easily over my fluff.

Anyway, I have an unfair advantage over my sew-along buddies. I have one child who sleeps for several hours every afternoon, and I don't have any paid employment to swallow up my free time. To even up the stakes, I have decided to give myself a handicap, and sew a matching top to go with the trousers, also to complete by the end of the month.

If I wanted to give myself a real handicap, I would sew it in silk chiffon.