Friday, March 26, 2010

This is not Project Runway. I don't have to make it work.

Well who would have believed that I have found the time to make two things from the much mocked January issue of Burda Style?

The first was pure necessity. A winter toddler sized sleep sack for a "little boy who wakes for many reasons at night but let's not make cold one of them" . In fact this is just 01-2010-125 minus the hood and with a lining for comfort and a central zipper wacked in. The outer is merino from Global fabrics which I bought in their 40% sale end of last season. It was supposed to be for me, but then I remembered two things I hate about 100% merino - pilling and endless stretch. Who cares in this emsemble?

The next was a toddler sized emergency services play vest which I agreed to make for our play centre. Dumb, because then I got lots of orders for them, thus increasing my sewing-for-others time in what are already very endangered hours. However, this is also 01-2010-125 with just the front and back and a few closure details.

Then I decided that was certainly enough sewing for others and have embarked on the much loved Simplicity 2508 coat. Big mistake. I truly truly do not have the time and energy for such a big project. I have really learned that now. But still the coat must be finished.... and if you are wondering where the title of this post came from, it's what I told myself as I went back to Global fabrics to buy another metre of fabric for the coat because I had forgotten to cut out the facings and there was no fabric left.

Toddler safety vest: fabric $2, Nicks. Velcro 50 cents, visibility strip - grey fabric left over from another project, thread 50 cents = $3.
Sleepsack: wool, $25, lining $2, zipper $8 = $35.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Questions and Answers

Isaspacey asked to see the front of the skirt (BurdaStyle 12-2009-123) to see what all the pouf hype was about. Fair enough, and I would have posted this sooner but I had to wait until the neighbour's car was out of the driveway and I could be sure mocking children were far away. (Give me sexy, give me cool, give me fierce smiley eyes).

Katherine asked about strong thread. Here is a comparison of the two: strong thread on the left is, well, stronger and the thread is a consistent thickness. Top - stitching thread seams to be thinner and the threads aren't as evenly spun.

Annette from the Bernina shop says that strong thread flows through the tension disks more evenly, and stops that horrible straining clunky noise that your machine can make with the other thread, especially if you use your edge stitch/ blind hemmer foot. She says if you use top-stitching thread with a Bernina, you need to use a top-stitching foot which has a gouged out bottom to facilitate the tension. Now those of us with Bernina machines know that novelty feet are expensive. Ka-ching!

Strong thread is easily available, so why don't you give it a try next time you want some fancy stitch work on your jeans and don't want to fork out for a new foot?

Judy asked how I sewed my motifs on jeans' pockets etc. Answer: the easiest way I know how- I simply draw on the design with wash out pen or tailor's chalk and then use my open-toed embroidery foot so I can see the design as I'm sewing it. I don't do anything professional, I'll leave that to her (check out her baby trench progress, unbelievable!)

Well people, I am being so humbled by my toddler these days. What with the loss of his day time sleeps and now a lot of night waking (he wakes up and shrieks hysterically for an hour or more at 3 am ) there's just not too much left of me in the day. I will continue to comment as much as I can on all your blogs, which I enjoy so much, but sewing progress for the next wee while will be slow and postings sporadic.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lady like

Sorry about the scowl, the neighbours' kids are mocking me from over the fence.

I do prefer a slightly dressier every day style and in fact this skirt is totally practical. The skirt can be worn with boots - it's long enough not to require leggings with boots, and wool is a great dirt repellent.

The skirt is great fun, the only thing I was really worried about were the poufy bits at the side which I thought could look a little silly. But with Burda, you have just got to learn to live with a little kook. I think the shorter version is slightly risque, or maybe it's just the weird looking fella she's disappearing into the woods with.

At any rate, I put in some welt pockets from the shorter style, and used bias tape to hem the skirt because it is so full and the fabric so bulky I wanted the slimmest, lightest finish possible.

From the front, technical view, it was those boufy bits that gave cause for concern:

Welt pocket, with lining fabric both sides of pocket to reduce bulk:

Hem, the bias tape left to hang on show, too bulky to turn and stitch, or those poufy bits would be flying all over the place.

And now it's time to exercise a little discipline and do some mending and alterations. yawn. But I shall reward myself at the end of it by allowing myself to sew another coat.

Burda WOF 12-2009-123
Fabric, Global, Marc Jacobs wool, $22.50, zipper $3, bias tape $4, lining, Nick's $4, tracing paper $2, thread $2 = $37.50

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Burda "sporty" parka 01-2009-104

I totally love the expression "loving hands at home" and I'd call my blog it if I didn't think it would attract all sorts of creepy google searches looking for a very different kind of loving home front action. (For non-sewing friends who read my blog, it's an ironic way of saying, "it looks home-made." )

Of course, if you are a sewer, saying something looks home-made is a bad thing, a very bad thing. The goal is to make something look as professional as possible. Still, I wonder about this. We don't try to make home cooking look like restaurant food, we value the irregular stitches of a home knit garment, handcraft revels in the individuality of its creator and is valued for it, so why is the ultimate accolade of home made clothes the comment, "I would never have guessed you made it."

I've been thinking about this because it seems to me that home sewing needs to forge its own identity and be valued for what it is without unfavourable comparisons to high end designer wear. I say this to myself mostly, mistakes in sewing bug me greatly - some clothes I can't wear because the mistakes bug me so much.

There has not been a great deal of journeying here of late - not for want of wishing but a busy fortnight has put paid to usual recreational activities. We've had a lot of friends come back from northern hemisphere winters to catch up with, and we got a very nasty tummy bug that laid us all low for a couple of days and made us grateful that we had 2 bathrooms.

I also took on what in hindsight has proven to be a very challenging project, made more challenging by sewing it piecemeal and never getting a good couple of hours free to sit down and whack it out. Deeply, deeply mourning the loss of Benjy's afternoon sleep.

The back view:

I picked up some Gore-tex for $4 a metre from Nicks, who got all of the Line 7 liquidation stock. I decided to sew one of the Burda parkas from last autumn, but wanted to put a hood in it. There'a no doubt the original design was much chic-er, but Auckland has a seriously high winter rainfall and that nice ruffled collar, adorable as it is, will not keep head dry in sheet rain.

Sometimes it's worth looking a little dorky to stay dry:

I chose this parka from Burda 01-2009-104, but substituting the hood from #126 and adding in a thermal mesh lining. Despite careful measuring of the existing neckline and the hood, I still could not ease the fabric into the space without a great deal of puckering. Gore-tex is too stiff and the weave is of course very tight to ensure it stays waterproof so easing is not something it wants to do. After stay stitching and clipping hard I managed to get it in, but I strongly suspect that the neckline on #104 has been lowered by an inch or so, making a longer seam line on the front.

Then I had all sorts of issues inserting the 4 way stretch lining into a fabric with no give whatsoever. Lots of unpicking first of all, then a big sigh, and thereafter a lot of hand basting.

Also challenging was working out how to insert a lining into an unlined jacket pattern. The lining part was easy - just trace off the facings and add seam allowances - I didn't even have to draft an ease pleat in the back because of the stretch lining - but how was I going to get access to the draw strings? How was I going to line the hood and turn the whole thing out through the sleeves? What to do about the drawstring hem and the elasticated wrist bands?

Added to all of this, about half way through I lost the instruction section of the magazine - not that that was a huge loss - they were more basic than usual. The instructions for the poacher's pockets left out the vital piece of information that the flap had to be attached to the pocket WRONG sides together and so there was a lot of head scratching going on there until I figured it out.

In the end the solutions to the construction process were quite simple. I added eyelets to thread the drawstrings from the waist casing though. I added the hood to the top of the facings and sewed the whole lot together in one continuous seam from one end of the zipper to the other. The sleeves I decided to do by catching the lining inside the hem and simply sewing the casing over the top of all layers.

The bottom hem casing was the only really tricky part but I threaded the elastic by reaching the casing through the hole in the sleeve.

Getting a good fit was another challenge. I never know what to do about bust alterations on loose styles like these. The front was still about an inch too small - but - there's so much room in the back I could easy borrow fabric from there to reach the front. The side seams would be off though, which I decided would bug me. I could cut the front piece at the waist, do an FBA and pivot out the dart to the waist and then slash the lower part to fit the new piece. Then I'd just use the waistband casing to pull it back in again - but then I decided it was already quite gathered and the bulky fabric would just take the whole look too far. So in the end I settled on darts, but they never sit that well, because of the loose back and the bulky fabric.

I am curious to know how other people resolve this dart dilemna - ignore, eliminate, shift or sew? If you have an thoughts, please share.

For my next project I was going to sew a full muslin for a jacket that I was then going to make up in suede in April for the Pattern Review lined jacket competition. I am very good at sewing long projects bit by bit (think 2 years hand piecing a quilt if you want the evidence) but frankly I'm worried. Sewing a suede jacket is a huge challenge, and if I had some decent time to do it I'd be up for it, but an hour's sewing at the end of day when I'm exhausted is just asking for trouble. Suede cannot be unpicked. There can be no errors. There's no way I have the mental energy for this kind of project.


Burda parka: 01-2009-104, hood #126
Gore-tex, $14, thermal mesh lining $6, washers,$3, thread,$3, elastic $3, tracing paper,$2, zipper and buttons $7 = $38.

To sew Gore-tex:

- microtex needle 70/10
- stay stitch then clip into corners and bends, fabric has no ease.
- moderate iron, use a clapper to flatten seams
- top stitch down anything that will "poof" up. Raglan sleeve seams, hood central seam etc.
- the fabric is naturally stiff - no need for interfacing
- fabric does not fray
- lining is recommended for comfort and protection of the gore-tex layer - usual linings are microfleece or mesh - anything quick to dry and breathable. However, in NZ purchased gore-tex clothing is more often than not left unlined.
- to seal the seams, Pack'n'Pedal in Albany sells seam sealant and waterproofing spray.They will do a credit card phone order and courier service.