Monday, June 29, 2009

Micro polyester. Macro pain in the ..

...didn't want to complete the title because I thought it might bring the wrong kind of browser here on a google search, but you get the drift.

I knew when I started this project that it would be a learning journey for me. And is has been. A big one. One with close calls between the scissors and the rubbish bin. I also knew that a muslin was a waste of time, that I would learn best by doing, and making mistakes, and unpicking and redoing and researching and getting help.

So now I offer you what I found out - by trial (many) and error (bags). Still, I love a challenge and I'm so glad I gave it a crack.

Once punctured there is a permanent hole.

Think through the implications of this:
- unpicking and resewing weakens the fabric
- no pinning except within the seam allowances (that goes for cutting out too)
- no fitting alterations that involve letting out the seams
- big stitch to keep the holes far apart -sew at around 3
- use tailors chalk to mark the fabric (not a tracing wheel, for obvious reasons)

The fabric has 2 sides with 2 different ways of sewing it! My fingers are on the bonded side.

The polyester side requires a moderately cool iron
- fabric scalds under steam leaving permanent wrinkles
- fusible interfacing needs to be high quality, low iron setting kind (I found exactly 10 seconds with the iron set at 1.5 gave the best results - by best I don't always mean good though)
- you can topstitch as normal, but I found I had to tighten off both top and bottom tension

The bonded side (waterproof coating) sticks to the presser foot
- use a walking foot or teflon foot or roller foot if sewing with right sides together - I tried winging it, the tension goes haywire if you use a normal foot. But as soon as I changed over to a walking foot - easy peasy! No problemo.

The waterproof coating bonds to the polyester so that there is no give - the fabric has no movement.
- doesn't turn corners well, the fabric has no give or stretch - try to keep to straight line styles.
- Ever wondered why this fabric is made up into ponchos? Wonder no more.
- Revere collars need a lot of stretch to attach through the back neck. Very difficult to get to sit correctly. Best plan is to stay stitch neck edges at 1.3 and then clip like crazy. (I will never ever sew a revere collar in this fabric again by the way, it was very very difficult)
- ordinary needle, ordinary thread work just fine.
- with an unlined coat, the coated side isn't slick enough to easily slide on. Lining recommended.

My advice overall? Wing now, cuss later.

Now that I know what I'm doing, things are coming together at a fair clop. Just have to attach the buttons (I checked, you can sew buttons with holes quite close together without ripping the fabric) and do the hems (which will have to machine stitched, of course, there are no fibres to attach hand stitches to) and then I'll start making Benjy's wet weather gear.

I'm so enjoying learning new things on this coat - like making my own belt with eyelets. I also love the top stitching and the pockets. They are such a cool retro feature.

I think this coat is going to do me proud in the sandpit.

Acknowlegements: thanks to Johanna for her comments on sewing this fabric. The tutorial from Gorgeous things for sewing leather was very helpful. This fabric is stronger than leather though, so it is more tolerant of puncture marks (thank goodness!)

If you have anything to add about sewing this fabric, I welcome your comments.

Coat - Burda 03-2009-115
Fabric - Micro polyester.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Play clothes

My name is Mary Nanna and I am a sewaholic.

I have to have a fix everyday. I read BWOF in bed. I think about my next project in the middle of the current one. I wake up in the morning and think about what to sew next. Even between projects my time is not idle. I'm collecting ideas, doing research, thinking up themes. I really enjoyed sewing on a theme last month. Our Playcentre is closed for the next month for renovations so I thought my theme for the next month would be play clothes.

For those of you who don't know what Playcentre is, it's a parent co-operative early childhood education centre. You take your child there and play with them. Basically its daycare without the break, which many will claim completely defeats the purpose, and there will be times when I totally agree.

Anyway, it's very important to wear easy care fabrics. Things you don't mind getting paint or play dough or clay or sand on. Most people wear their oldest most hated clothes, things they don't mind getting trashed. Now there are many days when I look in the mirror and am less than inspired by what I see but I never set out purposefully to look terrible. Some mothers combat the "I know I look awful in this," by wearing a full set of make-up but I've been thinking I'd like to make a few nice things that can just be chucked straight in the washing machine.

Top of the list of things to sew are waterproof coats for me and Benjy. If there's a puddle he'll find it. If there's sand he'll want to be out in the pouring rain to throw it. I've tried to distract him with indoor activities but he won't be fooled. He knows the best fun is to be had outside where he can thoroughly soaked and then get sick and make us all sick for weeks afterwards.

I had a hard time sourcing waterproof fabric. I couldn't find a single retailer in Auckland who would sell it. I found shower proof parka nylon at Smart Fabrics in MT Albert but I couldn't find any completely waterproof fabric. Finally a friend put me on to Chris Barlow fabrics (shop 9, 101 Diana Drive, Glenfield) which sells outdoor and sportswear fabric to trade.

They very kindly agreed to sell me a one off small quantity of 3 and a half metres. They will sell small one offs to others, but only if they're not busy and it's cash or cheque only. It's a huge wharehouse, you can't wander looking at the fabrics, you can just look at small swatches in the reception area. Anyway, it's very reasonable at $8 (US, $5) a metre, so for others in the Auckland area wanting to make their own parkas, it's the place to go.

The fabric is light and has great drape, as well as being wind and waterproof.

I chose "Marine" and I think I'll probably make this BWOF trench 03-2009-115. It's only got 2 and a half stars but that's Burda just lulling you into a false sense of security because it's got no lining. Fortunately, I'll just use my instructions (with pictures!!) from my last trench pattern. The thing I like is the flaps on the pockets to keep rain out, and I'll make a detachable hood. I may add a strap to the lapel, and the whole thing should fasten up to the neck in heavy rain, but be worn open most of them time. Anyway, a few design issues for me to resolve there, but the overall shape should work well for a rain coat.

So that'll keep me out of trouble for a while.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Burda 10-2008-116 blouson jacket

My favourite colour is copper. I found that out quite by chance. If you asked me, "what is your favourite colour?" I would have said, "blue."

Here's how I found out. When the place where I worked wanted to lay off a whole lot of staff, they brought in a "change management" consultant. 5 of us signed up for the workshop. One of the activities was to imagine yourself surrounded by a colour that made you feel warm, secure and alive. And what colour did I see? Copper! I think it's because it so closely resembles a well made cup of coffee. Anyway, funnily enough, not one of us 5 attendees actually got made redundant, but we all left within a year to follow a new path that we had planned out that day in the workshop.

It's not a colour that suits me, but I love it, which is why I didn't mind making up this blouson jacket to match my ugly skirt in it.

I super-burda-ed this time, with belt and buttonhole. I even had some nice wooden bracelets so I could uber-super-burda it but I forgot to put them on.

Now you can see "ugly" skirt on. It's a pencil skirt - I have now officially entered it into the contest. I was going to ask you all to take a vote, but really, when I first saw this fabric I thought it was absolutely hideous.

You just can't top that ... I knew in my hearts of hearts that this was my entry.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Burda 10-2008-107 aka "ugly fabric entry # 2"

We are good to go with skirt. Sneak preview here, with zippers on pockets undone to prove that they are fully functioning pockets behind and centre front zipper slipped up to show lolly pink lining. Disclaimer: centre front zipper has been pulled high for lining viewing purposes only and should be worn zipped down, unless you are Julia Roberts having a pretty woman moment.

Today I purchased the fabric for the blouson jacket. It is a beautiful coffee coloured bonded merino wool. It has 2 sides, the merino wool side is latte, the bonded back is espresso. I'm thinking of going espresso side.

So that's my project for this week, then I will put the whole look together for my official entry shot.

Out of curiosity, does anyone actually like this fabric?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Another "crack" at M5142

Sorry about the pun in the above title. Couldn't resist. Let's recap the problems that lead to the ditching of the first version of these cords:

Here's my next attempt at resolving these issues.

Now we're good through the inseams, no more Michael Jackson nasty 90's crotch grabbing. But we have another problem - my waistline drops centre front causing the waistband to rise too high which makes the belt sit too high, excess fabric to gape round my shelf and the front thigh to drag. So I'll have to give these pants ANOTHER crack, lowering the centre front a good inch. Madam cannot have enough pairs of snugly cords and these ones are totally wearable so we are at least making progress.

I'm now beavering away on my second ugly fabric entry, which features this fabric, lining and zippers.

I'm making this skirt from Burda World of Fashion October 2008 - Antoinette's suggestion of going "modern stoneage" really appealed, so after a lot of humming and haaing I finally decided to make the sporty skirt, without cargo pockets but with Dutch deconstruction zipper outerwear on the pockets and centrefront. Then I'm going to team it with the blouson/jacket of the same issue, in one of the rich colours in the palate.

Let's face it, I have plenty to choose from - lolly pink, canary, magenta, fluro yellow, aqua, sapphire blue, emerald green, bronze, white, orange, ruby, russet red, gold, black. There are 14 different colours in this print. Should be able to find something to match, eh?

Thank you to Norma and Gail for the beautiful blog nominations, and Megan Rose and Nana's lady for the "meme" tag. Thank you for thinking of me and including me in your blogging community.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ugly fabric entry #1

It won't surprise you to learn that I have several ugly fabric entries on my mind. I thought I'd see how many I got done, and end of the month I'd get you all to vote and the winning entry will be my official entry into the competition. After all, if you like it, you might actually vote for it, and if enough people felt the same I could actually get somewhere!

So first up, all my ugly fabric entries come from my mother-in-law or the Sally Army. I actually do not go out seeking ugly fabric, it comes looking for me.

Look at this beauty. $2 - a remnant of some description. Wool something, I suspect from the slight waxy surface and furry bits it's a blend. What I think is truly hideous about the fabric is the aqua and black grid pattern. The aqua is not consistent in its coverage so it has a true watery quality. In reality it reminds me of nasty tie die.

But it's a wool/blend, only two smackeroos, and a fabric orphan in need of a new home.

First up, just as some people's true beauty lies on the inside, some fabric looks a whole lot better from the wrong side. Turn the fabric over and it becomes a fun polka dot. And what do you know? I found a matching acetate lining from Nick's fabrics and with a supermarket zipper I made the whole skirt for $5. That's about $3 US dollars.

I used this Burda pattern from the December 2008 issue of Burda World of Fashion.

I lengthened it, and decided to put a frill underneath. Polka dots and frills were made for each other. Actually, frills also neatly cover that gap between boot and knee length skirt.

Eh voila! Here we have my first ugly foray. From the back:

And from the front - I thought I'd burda it and wacked on a big belt.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

100 posts, a retrospective.

Today is the first day in more than 3 weeks that it hasn't been terribly painful to swalllow. I'm on the mend! Harruh!

Looking through my recent charity shop fabric finds, I realise I've got a couple of contenders for the ugly fabric contest so I'm going to be real busy this month. I'm in the middle of a second pair of mccalls cords, the last pair were unwearable, even with crotch adjustments. They were anatomically unsound, biologically unstainstable, they were such a threat to my health and safety if I'd continued wearing them I'd have had to pay an ACC levy.

Here are a couple of outfits pulled together from my blogging journey of the last 100 posts. You can find details of all patterns by searching through my labels. If there's something you can't find, leave a message and I'll hunt out the pattern number for you.

First up, the Otago tartan, an ugly fabric winner right there. The fact that a single bolt was still on the shelves after 10 years speaks for itself. But what fun I had with the skirt in-pleat and my own dear wee sportan. The black vogue jumper has been such a useful little number, goes with a lot of things.

My attempts at milk bar chic were marred by those awful pockets, handy, but completely ruin the line. They're welt, so I can't remove them. Harrumph! However, fun on a summer's day. Only I don't wear it at the supermarket in case someone asks me if we stock sultanas or to open the register.

The sew along pants with a retro seersucker blouse and my knitted cardy! Yes, the 'wearable rug' is finished! It's very warm, but rug like, yes, very thick and straight.

The trench, a complete winner. Those pockets have been more helpful than I could ever describe. Seen here with hand made glass beads (Sally Army $5) and a bag I made out of recycled handles and some fabric scraps.

Well, that's it for me for a while folks, got a lot of sewing this month. Better get on with it, choppity chop.