Monday, November 29, 2010

Applying some discipline

I have been having an internal war. It goes something like this:
"I need some summer clothing."
"So go out and buy it."
"I can't."
"Why not."
"It would be expensive and professionally sewn and it would look nice. I don't like "nice", I like odd and kooky and home sewn looking."
"that's just as well then. But you still don't have any summer clothes."
"I'll make some."
"no you won't."
"well if I won't go shopping then I'll just have to, won't I?"

And on it goes. I have decided that the only way to resolve this little battle is to set myself a task, and a deadline. The task is to sew myself some summer clothes before Christmas. If I have not done so, then I will let my sister take me shopping and force me to buy something lovely from the shops.

So then, the challenge was to find things that had a little bit of kook, but were wearable and summery. For wearable styles you can't beat Ottobre magazine, and if you have never checked them out before, let me be your enabler.

They publish only twice a year for women, and you can get a "women's" only subscription by scrolling down the subscription bar on the site. Once you have subscribed they roll it forever but at only twice a year it's hardly a huge outlay. They use ordinary women, nicely made up, in easy to wear every day styles and - my personal favourite - they complete the look with sensible shoes. Those shoes were made for walking - hardly a heel in sight. (on a side note, on the first date I had with my husband, he looked at my Kumfs trainer and said, "those look like good shoes for walking." I knew then that the relationship had potential.)

They also give their patterns adorably old fashioned names, like "vera," "lucinda" "Bertie" "Ethel" "Nanette" which makes me wonder about what's going on in Finland these days. The English translations are excellent, fluent and full, no talk of "front slits" and "abuttment lines" these instructions actually make sense.

The drafting - so far- is as I would expect. I cut this at a 44 with a 3 cm FBA and it's just right through the bust, too big in the back neck and shoulders which is exactly what I'd expect from a 44. I do enjoy the fact that it grazes over my lumps rather than committing them to the camera for all to see, but I will experiment with sizing a bit to see if I can bring in the upper chest area. The hip is also too big, and so the tee doesn't hold to the sides. Still, who's going to be looking at that? I bet you're all just rivetted to that crazy sleeve:

Righty ho, a piece of summer sewing completed. We are on our way! The big challenge will be December 1 when the winter sewing Pattern Review contest starts. If I can get past that little piece of temptation without sewing a coat, we know we are on the road to recovery.

Ottobre 02-2010- 9 "Katherine" top

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ta Da!

BurdaStyle 09-2010#113

The welt pockets are set into the front dart. I added a second dart from the waist to add a little more room to the bust:

The back has a large pleat that emerges from the storm flap - the storm flap is flared to allow for a generous front reach:

Lining with vintage viscose:

Well, it did take me 3 weeks to make this coat, so I was right about that. These days sewing for me happens between 7:30- 8:30pm with the last vestiges of energy remaining to me from the day. So I potter about on the machine, making bite sized progress. An hour a day, most days, gives me a coat in 3 weeks.

I really enjoyed the first part of this coat, got bogged down in the middle, and coasted through to the end. Surely the middle part of a long project is the time when most projects languish, when the first flush of energy is gone and the end is nowhere in sight.

This coat was very easy for me to make, but it is without question the most detailed, of all detailed Burda projects, that I have ever made. We have 1) collar with stand 2) decorative top stitching 3) storm flap 4) belt 5) wrist bands with 2 length settings 6) gun flap 7) 18 buttons 8) epaulets with carriers 9) lining 10) welt pockets set into front darts.

That is a lot of detail, blog friends. Funnily enough the details made it easier for me to sew because I could break my sewing sessions into completing a single detail. This is not a coat for people who want the smell of victory after a minor skirmish.

On me, yes I know, leggings and Birkenstocks .... but need I remind you it is the middle of summer here, and I refuse to boil for the sake of a photo shoot:

I am now really desperate for some summer clothing and if I was wise I'd make some. I hate shopping and like to make my own clothes, but at the end of the day I am a hobby seamstress first and foremost, which means I must make whatever I feel like, without reference to when and how it will be worn. That's just the way it is. I've tried fighting it but it's no good: for me it's all about the journey, and the destination is forever a mystery.

I will have to force myself to do something: some shopping or some summer sewing. Hmmm, I wonder which will win?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A bit of this, and a lot of that.

I have been busy sewing blog friends, but I have been sewing a big project and so it will be a while before I will have a "ta da" moment.

First off, I did a Palmer/Pletsch knit weekend course with the lovely Carol Mill, which is always a treat, not the least because it involves spending quality sewing time with fellow enthusiasts, child free time and Carol's delicious lunches. I do have some things to show from that, but not today because the knits I chose to work with were wool, and it is very humid today.

Following on from that with some more inappropriate seasonal sewing choices, I am in the midst of sewing the Trench from the September issue of Burda (09-2010-113). I have mostly finished the outer, with lining to cut and sew and buttons and belt to finish. It has details for Africa, some of which are partially finished and I can show you here:

collar with stand and top stitching detail, epaulet with carrier and top stitching detail etc etc ...

I have also been trying to de-clutter my sewing room with better storage solutions. Instead of lumping everything in together, I have been collecting beautiful containers from the Sally Army to house each notion individually, thus making it easier for me to find things, once they are labelled.

For safety pins:

For my sets of retro buttons on cards, this biscuit tin:

Threads with ends taped down and stored thus:

To house my needle selection:

And this holds all my elastic:

Well, I have lots to get on with, so I'd best get back to it - see you in another week or two with a new trench!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shirt dress by night.

Today the sun is so impossibly bright I have resorted to deep shadow, and lo! I caught a breeze:

Burda 06-2008-108

I fell in love with this piece of silk satin when I saw it at Centrepoint. Originally I thought 'tunic' but the thing about tunics is that they do shorten your legs, which is not so good when you are short already. So then I thought, "it's just got that nerd appeal of a shirt dress, but it would have to be one without too many seams, because I don't fancy matching that check."

Because I purchased the fabric first, and counted on making a tunic, I did not have enough to make the dress and match the check at the side seams. That's when I said to myself, "this will be a lesson in "good enough" sewing, because even now, even before I cut it, I know that with mismatched side seams it can never be perfect."

It's not just mismatched side seams - it's mismatched everything - I didn't even have enough fabric to single cut the facings - they are all joined by a centre back seam.

We'll call this "considered rebellion" - a mis-confluence of lines and patterns. It adds to the nerd appeal by being slightly disconcerting.

Despite the mismatch of lines, I did make this rather carefully - I hand sewed bias strips, hems, and collar stand. I hand basted sleeves and collar into position. I used tissue to stabilise the buttonholes and very carefully placed the buttons to ensure the front lines met.

Making sure the front lines meet:

hand sewing all the hems and edges:

( I figured in the long run hand basting would save me time - think of all that unpicking I avoided when I got impossibly wonky seams from such slippery slithery fabric.)

I used buttons from my box of a thousand buttons that I bought online. I never thought I'd have occasion to use these ochre ones, not being a colour I usually use, but they look just right with both this and the previous dress.

And so now my imperfect dress is done, and I'm perfectly happy with it. To quote Voltaire, the enemy of the good is the best.