Friday, July 31, 2009

Simplicity 4097

I'm working on my jeans and have finished my pockets. It's the palmer/pletsch one I've stuffed up twice before. I know what you're thinking, "will you never learn?" Aah, let me think about that. No.

I'm thinking goldilocks, first time too small, second time too big, 3 times the trick. We'll see. If they're wadders I'll let you say, "told you so," and take it in good grace. Anyway, this time we're going for heartbeats on the butt. Kind of fun, that is, if I ever get to wear them. (the blue line is just a wash out marker used to trace out the pattern)

When people know you sew, good things and bad things happen. Bad things, "can you just take up / take in / mend this for me, won't take you a sec." Good things, "I've got these fabrics lying round, do you think you could use them? A friend gave me this tweed tunic she'd cut out for herself but a quick pin fit proved the maximum "compared finished measurements and your own very carefully." So I made it up. Simplicity 4097. It's not really my style but it's warm and fun. Seen here with merino wool House of G (Glassons) stripey top. Worn with jeans it's a fun ensemble. I wouldn't say the line running over the bust was in my best interests though. And the tucks underneath are a little maternity.

Still, won't look a gift horse in the bodice.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

PC coat.

PC stands for Play Centre, but given the floral lining (no gender stereotyping) and decoration (an embroidered motif honouring our bilingual commitment to Te Tiriti) PC could easily stand for something else in this little jacket I made for my son to wear to Play Centre. When my husband saw it he laughed and said, "let's move to Grey Lynn." (Sorry, will have to kill the joke by explaining it to non-Aucklanders ...Grey Lynn is where the trendy liberal yuppies live.)

I have learned my lesson with micro-polyester and stay stitched and clipped the neckline before sewing it. Much better! Still, I was reminded afresh that it is really hard to sew something without any pins, anywhere. Next time I will just buy my son's wet weather gear, and consider it money well spent.

It's been a week of lessons actually. As I watched Gok's Fashion fix on Friday I was reminded afresh how important it is to have your own personal style. Gok's got a passion for fashion, and his kindness and bonhomie are endearing, but really, who wants to look like they've been dressed by a flamboyant stylist? Everything's so big - big hair, big belts, big bags, it made me grateful that no matter how badly I dress on any particular day, I always look like I dressed myself.

Like everyone struggling to create a workable wardrobe, I've read my fair share of planning books. I had an "ah ha" moment when reading "Women's wardrobe" by K Gross and J Stone . "Imagine you go on holiday and the airline loses your luggage, what do you need to replace? Those are your basics". I thought about my wardrobe and I realised that I buy basics, but I sew decoration. I sew things to go with the basics. The coats, the jackets, the skirts. That's because basics are really boring to sew.

Another "ah ha" moment - I like sewing details. I love: yolks, buttons, top stitching, piping, collars, pockets, placats, pintucks, bias trims, ribbons, fur, anything that makes something look interesting. Unless I can find a way to smarten up a basic, I'm just too bored to even bother starting it. Which is why I end up with a closet of clothes, but nothing to wear.

So next month's sewing theme is "not-very-basic basics."

Coat: outside, micro polyester, lining brushed cotton courtesy of Nana's Lady
Pattern: Burda 9828

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is it a coat, or is it a dress?

From the back

I love the way the bodice swings down the front to the natural waist at the back, and the hem line mirrors it. The hem at the front has been drafted to slope through to the back.

A peek at the lining

Darn, forgot to turn out the collar under the button - don't worry, it is perfectly symmetrical in real life...

McCalls Coat dress 4769, (1975).

I did a lot of fitting and refitting on this pattern, but I learned lots of very useful things. The best thing is that it has given me the confidence to grade a pattern up or down, which means a whole new world of retro sewing has become possible. Let me show you just a fraction of what this pattern has been through. Here's the upper bodice piece with a 2 inch FBA moved 4 times, a sliced side seam, a forward shoulder alteration, a tuck taken out through to the shoulder and a dropped arm hole.

I bought my fabric for the Palmer/Pletsch 3 day tailoring workshop I am doing at the end of next month, thought I may as well buy it on sale. I am not very excited about my fabric to be honest, but exactly what does a stay at home mum need with a tailored wool jacket anyway? At least I'll get to have some fun with the lining. it's a suit wool, the perfect weight and hand for this project, BWOF 03-2009-110. Three and a half dots. The pattern that will make me a sewing guru.

But ...I've been thinking of making this one instead. It doesn't have a welt pocket, but I am quite happy to learn the technique on a scrap of fabric anyway. This is more my style, with a faux fur collar option and the petersham ribbon trim. And it's only a 3 dot pattern (7728), which means I will stay a sewing mortal.

Oh by the way, have I introduced you to my sock ham? Socks make great pressing hams. Just go through your drawers and find an odd wool one (in my case, that's also been shrunk in the wash) fill it with scraps to the heel and tie it off. Works brilliantly.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Questions and Answers

Well, I'm working hard on my coat, but as you know, coats are not sewn in a week. Here's how it's going. Resolved the dart issue by putting in a second dart to take the fullness, the same size and length as the original, but running from the lower bodice piece. How many attempts, um, well 2 muslins, and 2 attempts with the fashion fabric that got ditched. (shifted the dart a number of times to find the best spot) Oh and to answer your question Gail, this is a 1975 retro McCalls pattern, long since out of print, sent to me by blogging buddy Geek Sewing.

Antoinette asked how the jacket fastened at the top. I used cotton twill, but now I know what webbing is, (Thanks Katherine) I can see why you'd need something more robust. Doesn't matter, will never get used anyway. Oh and no, I did not quilt it myself, the fabric comes like that. (Also from Global fabrics, and I highly recommend it as being very warm and shower proof)

Jenni from across the road asked about my lining. It's from Global Fabrics, who are now having their 40% off sale. It's not specifically lining acetate, but one acetate is as good, if not more expensive as the other. Will never sew polyester linings again, they wear out too quick and of all mending chores, replacing lining is the most onerous.

The sausage dog header? Well, it will not surprise you to learn that I have an extensive hand crafted (by me) collection of Wiener craft. Here's another piece, a pot plate. And yes, it's a boy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Muslin underway

Ok, it feels appropriate to say I whipped this muslin up because on a pride scale of 1-10 in the sewing stakes, 10 being made with great care and attention, this was about a 2 for effort.

I hate making muslins. Such a waste of time and resources. And the guilt! Where do you think this baby is headed. No one say landfill.

But in this case, it was essential. Overall not too bad. I love the back, I love how it drops down to the waist and all the dart shaping. It's a bit loose, but I'm intending to wear this as an evening coat. (Yes, that's right, every stay at home mum needs an evening coat for all those night-time social engagements).

I knew I could not pull off a single front dart, I just needed to know much to take off and how much to add back in. Fit wise it's ok, but I'm going to have to play round until I can find a way to make my darts work.

The key for me to pull of this style will be to use fabric with really good drape and to get the fit and shaping spot on. Now that'll need a 10 for effort.

My fabric. I'm going all out nana chic with this: wool/silk tweed, and a poene lavender acetate lining.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Burda 12 -2008 -123

Thank you to all of you who voted (for me, in particular) in the ugly fabric contest, the winners have been announced, of which I was not one. It reminds me of that joke about the Jewish guy who gets a hole-in-one on the Sabbath, God's revenge being he can't boast to his mates about it. Similar awkward conversations were thus averted with my mother in law, "hey, you know that fabric you gave me, well I won, ...oh um, nothing, I mean I feel wonderful in this BEAUTIFUL skirt I made with it."

Congratulations to Johanna of the last stitch who was placed for her raincoat. Personally I have new respect for anyone who does anything with raincoat fabric and for that alone she is tops in my books.

Actually it never occured to me I might be a competitive person but those competitions are a great way to channel the sewing energy and provide some focus. So I'm all up for the little black dress and the lined jacket ones later in the year.

Yes, I am definitely feeling the sewing love at the moment but my productivity has received a big kick in the pants by a little boy who has decided that 4:30 am is THE time to get up and play for the day, and that an afternoon's sleep of an hour is all that is required. Harruph!

The less time I have, the more I want to do. I want to do a lot at present, but I've put another winter coat on the back burner because sewing a coat half an hour at a time is too painful to even contemplate.

When I worked in education with school holidays I'd loaf about at home sewing for a week at a time. Then because we had flexi hours at work I reduced to a 4 day week and had 3 day sewing weekends.

Aaaaaaahhhhh those were the days my friends. Finished the jacket yesterday. Verrrry pleased with it. Perfect stay at home Auckland mum wear. Warm enough to take the chill, casual enough to look in keeping with the playground, fun enough to keep a smile on my very tired face.

Bagged the lining, came out well, call me old fashioned, but I actually prefer hand sewing my hems.

I am now set to work (half a painful hour at a time) on my retro pattern. I bought some cheap 'n' nasty fabric to muslin it - I don't usually bother but I have never graded a pattern down before so I'm allowing for plenty of room for error. The good news was that it wasn't that hard to do, the bad news is because I didn't have to change that much (it's a size 20 1/2).

Three cheers for modern vanity sizing, personally can't get enough of it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What is advanced anyway?

After my recent quip to promote myself to advanced if I could pull off a 3 and a half dot BWOF pattern I began to wonder just what would it take to get to advanced on Pattern Review.

Have a look at these guidelines from Pattern Review - to classify as "Intermediate" you need to do 5 of these proficiently:

A. Zippers (lapped, slot, fly, invisible)
B. Buttonholes
C. Facing
D. Lining
E. Curved seams (such as princess seams)
F. Collars
G. Set-in sleeves
H. Welt pockets
I. Sewing with knits
J. Various hand stitches, including but not limited to: hemstitch, fell stitch, hand rolled hem, catch stitch.

I have never sewn a welt pocket that I've been proud of, so that's definitely something on my list to improve.

Interesting eh? My thoughts on advanced is that you'd need to do all of the above proficiently, have a high standard of finish on all garments, plus say 5 of the following

1 modify a pattern to include new design features
2 draft a pattern
3 make clothes that fit well
4 cut and sew any of the following difficult fabrics: silk anything, satin anything, synthetic chiffon or georgette, raincoat fabric, leather, 4 way stretch
5 sew bias garments
6 revere collars or buttoned cuffs, shirts on a stand
7 basic tailoring
8 design a garment
9 some experience in one of the following: wedding/prom or cocktail/evening dresses, swimwear, lingerie, costumes
10 construct a garment on a dress form using draping
11 be able to sew a garment without instructions
12 complete a Burda 3 1/2 dot pattern, or a big 4 pattern labelled "average" or "advanced" with a high standard of finish

The thing to remember is that Pattern Review is primarily a site for home sewing enthusiasts so an advanced home sewer does not have to meet the same level of finish as a professional sewer. That's why they have their "couture/expert" level, which is for people who sew for a living and whose knowledge of construction and finish is of the highest order and is recognised as such by earning money for it. They also can clock up the kind of hours doing it for a living that we can only dream about. So in that case, it's unfair to compare the home sewer with a professional in the industry.

As for some of my blogging buddies, I know you can do all of the above and more. I can think of a number of people who need a promotion!

What do you think makes someone "advanced" on Pattern Review?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Nearly finished. Lining to go - I thought I'd try my hand at bagging it, nice to add a few new skills to my repertoire.

I have mostly sewed this jacket without instructions, not for want of trying. I just could not understand them. At all.

"Separate zip. Place zip face down to right front on lengthwise edge of self facing, right side of fabric so that zip tape is centred on marked seam line. Stitch zip tape in place. Stitch on remainder of right facing piece. Lay facing forward over joining seam and topstitch close to seam."

Right. Did you get that? Good. Was I supposed to sew the zip to the right front or the right front facing? Where is the remainder of the right facing piece please? If I press the seam forward then I am actually topstitching next to the zipper. Is that where you mean?

I liked the breast pockets, so enlarged them and put them on my hips and took out the zipper pockets - let's face it, I need quilted fabric on my bust line like Dolly Parton needs a padded bra.

They also want you to attach this mysterious thing called webbing to your belt and sleeve tabs. I think they mean cotton twill tape. Anyway, I didn't want anything to mess with my dots, so left it off.

I get a lot of fun out of joyful fabrics like polka dots. You can't take yourself too seriously in a dotted dacron jacket. It's good therapy for picky sewers like myself, who need to lighten up big time when it comes to their own sewing projects.

This jacket has lots and lots of details. It is 3 dots, and had 17 pieces to draft or trace out - which is a record for me. By far and away the hardest part of this project has been working with the instructions.

I think I've just found my dream job - writing instructions for Burda magazine.

Some of the details: belt, tabbed sleeves and patch pockets

The collar is designed to stand, and has a tab closure. I can't imagine me wearing it closed though.

Burda WOF magazine: 12 -2008- 123
Quilted Fabric (polyester with dacron inner) : Global fabrics

pssst (Auckland blog buddies, Smart Dress Fabrics in Mt Albert has got quilted fabrics on special)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Burda 03-2009-115

Watch out Christabelle. Roll over Nigel. TMB and Mary Nanna are in the garden for a photoshoot.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with how this came out. Things I like? I love the pockets, the belt, the overall fit and the practicality of having a rain coat in a climate with 1200+ (50 inches) rainfall a year.

Things I don't? The revere. It's been a long time since I messed one up quite like this. Fortunately you are all too polite to comment. The revere has made me seriously think about sewing the whole thing again just to get it right. Fortunately I only have a Virgo rising, so perfectionistic tendencies get quickly subsumed by laziness.

The darts are another bone of contention, it looks like the front is too big. It's not. I think the I should have made two darts, shortened them off and sewn them down. Oh alright then, you've twisted my arm, I'm just going to have to sew another one, a good one, for non-playcentre use and in forest green. I'm already eyeing up some wooden buttons and a wooden belt prong and bar from Salvage (a retro fabric and notions shop on Mt Eden Rd). So we can have woods and the trees. Pa ha ha.

The ugly fabric contest is now open for voting. I had a surprisingly hard time actually, I'll be honest. Part of me thought it would be bad form not to vote for myself because I thought and worked hard on my project, part of me just really enjoyed what some other people had made and wanted to acknowledge that. But here's a weird thing - frankly, mine was the only fabric I thought was ugly! And I know lots of people thought mine was actually really interesting, and funky and not ugly at all!

Taste? There's no accounting for it. Oh well, I'm not particularly bothered one way or the other, for me, the whole joy was in the entering.

Speaking of joy, I have enrolled in a tailoring workshop. The Palmer/Pletsch 3 day affair, where we do with interfacing what tailors do with a lot of hand stitching. We have to bring along a pattern to make up, with a revere collar and welt pockets. Do you think I could find one among the big 4? Only really old daggy ones, nana chit, not nana chic. The pockets on nearly all of them were faux welt or patch. Are patterns being dumbed down?

So I went to good old BWOF and there is a very attractive revere collar with welts in the march issue, number 110. It is 3 and a half dots. (Advanced level sewing, with special features.) And you know what people? If I pull this off, I'm going straight to Pattern Review and changing my level to advanced. I will have earned it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Leading myself astray

When me and my sister were kids I had the brilliant idea that we would pool our pocket money and save it to buy something special for me, with the idea that we would then pool it to buy something special for her. When it came my sister's turn I didn't think it was such a great idea anymore. She wasn't too obliging about the change of contract from memory.

Something kind of similar has happened with Benjy's play clothes. Now that I've finished my waterproof coat (photographer will oblige at the weekend) I've suddenly lost interest in the idea of his wet weather gear.

What's worse, I have a new piece of fabric and some new patterns to entice me away from good intentions. The retro patterns from Geek Sewing arrived today and they are even more fabulous in the flesh.

The front and back shaping on the dress and jacket pattern is really interesting and I think this will look great made up.

The shirt dress with tie is very clever. The tie covers the centre front zipper. This pattern was meant for my sister, but hey, why break with tradition? She'll have to fight me for it.

Then I bought this fabric I fell in love with at Global Fabrics. Polyester polka dots with dacron fill anyone? Yes please. OK I'm doubting the wisdom of this purchase but it seemed like a fun idea at the time. I'm thinking of making it up into Burda 12-2008-123 because now that I've traced off one Burda coat pattern I'm not scared of them anymore. (Do I need to say without breast pockets? No I didn't think so)

Does anyone have any special tricks for making it easier to apply sewing self discipline?