Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mum on beach duty check: comfy tee yes, birkenstocks, yes, sun hat hair, yes, bermudas, yes, lots of wet towels, yes OK take the photo.

I really hope you managed to get your free download bermuda shorts in time because when I went back to the Mane-ladies-privates (thanks Miss Smith for enriching our vocabulary!) site I noticed they'd removed well over half their free downloads. Including aforementioned shorts and a beautiful jacket I was intending to make but now I can see it's just not to be. Nevermind, I took solace by downloading a very cute knit dress that I hope to be brave enough to attempt some time soon (the bravery including no instructions and working with knits)

Fortunately, I am about to get some home grown help on the knit front soon. Palmer/pletsch have now added "fitting knits" to their weekend workshop options. Woo hoo! (Here is the list of instructors for Australia and New Zealand)

Gail mentioned in a comment that knits don't really need to be fitted - and some knits definitely don't - but some really do - an unforgiving knit on me will be saggy at the shoulder and back, but pull very tightly across the bust in a look best described as "hello Dolly!"

Anyway, I refitted my shorts grading them up a whole size and a bit extra to be on the safe side because I was sewing a cotton drill that tends to hold its shape - more than you'd like it to sometimes. They are now a good fit, although I will tweak the pattern a bit more adding a bit more to the front crotch length.

The reason I ended up with the drill is that I went to Global Fabrics and came away with 2 Merino knits, completely forgetting the reason I went there in the first place. This is a scrap from another project and I hunted for something to finish the facings and pockets with as I didn't have quite enough fabric.

I decided to sew the back welt pockets this time, using this tutorial kindly forwarded to me by EmilyKate. However, due to my loathing of fake pockets I made real pockets by adding a button loop closure and sewing in a pocket bag. One thing I didn't do but should have is topstitched around the edges of the pocket like you often see in commercial shorts. That reduces the stress on the seams and helps the pocket to hold its shape over the course of a day.

I also for the first time used the blind hem foot for the bottom of the turn ups. Since I plan to sew a few knits shortly I thought I'd really best get my head around it.

ratings out of 5

sewing enjoyment **** the welt pockets were a nice detail
wearing enjoyment *** comfy fit, very practical with ALL those pockets - a great mum-at-work short but cotton drill is hardly a pulse raiser in the fashion stakes.

Overall I'd say I'll get a lot of wear out of these shorts as we enter our hottest month but I'd be looking to remake them in some heart singing linen for the next summer season.

Costings: cotton drill Nicks, $2, contrast fabric men's shirting from Working Style discounted at Nick's, $1, buttons $1 Salvage, zipper 65c from Geoff's cotton $1, interfacing $1 $6.65

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty moma

I kept thinking of that song as I was sewing these bermuda shorts, a free download from Manequim magazine. I kept thinking of it because these shorts are not just pretty mama, they are latino hot mama.

A little too hot for this mama. They are so fitted that I can barely do them up. I sewed a 42 (size 16) which is my usual bottom size. However, what I failed to appreciate is there is no ease, finished measurements are actual body measurements. They want these shorts to hug you like a second skin, a second sausage skin, or even a sausage skin that splits under pressure and allows all sorts of soft fluffy stuff to ooze out.

The back view, I hope you don't mind the VPL (visible panty line) but I actually find evidence of panties quite reassuring. (Do you remember that episode of "what not to wear" where Susannah put her hands up under the dress of the woman and wretched off her undies saying through clenched jaws "I can't bear the sight of panties." ?)

Anyway, the pattern comes with a little sash to tie through those big belt loops but since I knew these were headed to the op shop I couldn't be bothered doing all the finishing for someone else. So that was bye bye sash, bye bye cuff turn ups, and bye bye hand sewn hems.

However, I think this pattern has huge potential. I can really see these shorts being a great addition to my wardrobe, a size larger.

This is officially a wadder but we'll call it a "wearable muslin" - a "wearable by someone else" muslin, that is.


- This pattern is in Portuguese as Manequim is a Brazilian magazine
- Google translate doesn't do a great job of adding clarity to the Portuguese. Sample translation:

"una them funds internal and external do pocket right of right with one sewing skirting the edges.Hold the edges of the funds of the pockets with patching on the back of the upper and side edges of the front."

Right. Got that? I sewed these shorts without instructions. I sew Burda, I'm used to it.
- like Burda, you need to add your own seam and hem allowances to the pieces, but not the self drafted pieces which are given in finished measurements.

Burmuda shorts from Manequim magazine. Sizes 38, 42, 46 available for free download here
Fabric: cotton/linen blend from Global Fabrics
Costings $12 fabric, zipper recycled, scraps of interfacing, thread $1, tissue $1, buttons 60 cents from Salvage = $14.60

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The not-so-quick-sew Kwik Sew 3338

Here's the deal:when it comes to wovens I have good theory and sound practice. When it comes to knits I have a little theory and virtually no practice. When I sew a knit, I remember what it is like to be a floundering beginner. I am even a little nervous, certainly hesitant and with wavering confidence.

I started with the Kwik Sew pattern so beautifully made up by EmilyKate. I had no idea what to do about size, so I started with a large and pinned it in fabric. Far too tight across the bust, too loose across the back. Did a FBA on the front, removed the excess through waist and hip. Shoulder and upper body still too large - the scoop neck will not sit flat, there is not enough tension in the sizing to force it to hold its shape. Now I know, I need to start with a medium and grade up, not start with a large and grade down.

I love the colour and the stripe is not so pronounced in its contrast as to create too unforgiving a vertical line. TMB says it looks nice, and about such matters he does not lie, subjected as he is to forced appraisals about every single thing I sew. He has learned over the years that a frank opinion is what is required: he gets hounded far more with "are you sure it looks nice" if he says it all looks nice, but the occasional "it's not your best look" buys him a little respite.

Cost: Fabric - cotton/lycra Global fabrics 40% off VIP price $12, Kwik sew pattern $18, thread $1 = $31.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Burda 08-2009-106 "tummy tuck" pants.

I knew the first thing on my agenda post christmas would have to be something that involved a girdle and what luck that Burda should have designed this pair of jeans with one handily built in!

It had a number of details that interested me greatly - the high waist with two layers of heavy duty denim interfaced within an inch of their lives are not going to let those wobbles spill anywhere - top stitching, and I broke out a fresh reel of top stitching thread in my favourite shade of coffee - rivets and vintage buttons.

So all in all, fussy enough to keep me interested but simple enough to pull off in a week. They were pretty easy to sew but I have got a few gripes: the pattern is a variation on #105, which is designed for wool/blends. The thing is, wool/blends drape nicely and 1 and half inches of ease makes for a good fit. Denim has no drape, and 1 1/2 inches of ease is too much. Denim starts tight and eases out as the warmth of the body loosens up the weave. Denim is like its good friend linen: it grows a size on wearing.

All of this means that the jeans were too big. I ended up running them down a size.

Also, the burda blurb about these pants says something like "you'll be all legs with these pants" and you know why? Because they drafted them 2 inches longer than standard leg measurement - even though I shortened them my usual amount, and then some, with a 2 inch wedge they still dust the floor.

Oh well, better all legs than all tummy.

Costings: Denim, Global Fabrics, $30, Rivets $1.50, Tissue $2, Top stitching thread, thread, zipper, $6.50 Bernina shop, Buttons $1.50, Salvage, Interfacing, scraps, nothing. Total: $41.50

Ratings: (out of 5 stars)

sewing fun: ***** rivets, top stitching, mock flat fell seams at front, unusual cuff construction
wearing fun ***** very fun to wear, nice to have a break from my usual look, very 70's throw back with bell bottom shape
practicality ** must be worn with 2 inch heels, will probably scuff on the back, will need belt loops and a belt to keep in place long term. On plus size, easy care denim, very comfortable, relaxed fit.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sewing past, present and future.

Thank you for joining me today. The thing I love about blogging is being able to share an otherwise solitary hobby with sewing friends who understand there is many a slip between the cut and the fit, who have seen their dreams land in the bin with pins still in and tissue intact, who have failed and triumphed and failed again and still sit down to the machine and rethread.

I've been really enjoying reading about everyone's sewing goals for this year. I have several projects lined up and I'd thought I'd share with you what I'm thinking and where I am going.

I never set out to sew all my own clothes. Between 1-3 my son has a sleep and I slip off to the sewing room for a little "creative me" time. I need it. I have also realised that I do not want to sew all my own clothes. I just want to make what I want to make, when I want to make it. There's actually a kind of practicality to it: if I need something but don't want to make it, it never gets made - I can never overcome the inertia and a kind of energy black hole sits over the project so I never get much further than sharpening the pencil to trace the pattern.

"Follow the energy" has become my mantra. Before I show you where I'm headed, I thought I'd show you where I've been.

Just before Xmas I won a couple of things in a giveaway from Miss Flossy. A wonderful coffee bag, seen here at a seaside cafe, and a wonderful brooch.

I totally love this brooch, because it's a minuture "grandmother's flower garden." I made the full sized version myself, in my wild and reckless youth - all 1400 hand pieced hexagons.

Several people have already commented on the brooch. I have worn it as a little lapel interest in my jacket. I had to laugh, as I was standing in outfits head to toe made by me, complete strangers would stop me and say, 'oh what a lovely brooch, did you make that?'

I have just finished this skirt, made with a retro (1976) style pattern that I picked up at the Sally Army for a buck. I piped the pockets to give it a bit of a lift, and it's really comfy to wear now that the humidity is up. It's a "back wrap" skirt, you know one of those skirts that wraps round at the back -since Auckland can be quite windy I also thought it prudent to invest in some new underwear.

Overall, it was a bit of a yawn to sew and I hate to admit it but it's a bit of a yawn to wear as well.

To lift my game a little, and to look more glam mumsy, I am planning to do a homage to this outfit from Lilli at Frocks and Frou Frou.

I have a nice denim and silk/cotton voile and I'm going to use these patterns from BWOF.

Melody did a fabulous version of this (09 -2009-106) with fewer ruffles, so I feel confident of pulling something similar off.

Although you have got to admit, the technical view is pretty scary:

Teamed with these tummy tuck pants (08-2009-106) so perfect for those post christmas moments - I am so excited about these jeans I have bought the rivets and top stitching thread and am just itching to go.

Then I am going to make something utterly utterly ridiculous and you can't stop me. Instead, I'm going to prepare you gentley for some very silly sewing by leaving you with the following quote:

What is the difference between beauty and ugly?

"the line is super subtle, and sometimes ugly is more beautiful than what we think of as classical beauty."
Riccardo Tisci, the head designer from Givenchy.

Skirt: pattern $1, fabric $8, Nicks, Piping $1, thread $1 = $11 and it looks it too.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's raining coats.

If I could call last year anything, I'd call it the year of the coat. I made a lot of them - it was only natural then that I'd put all that expertise into my two finales - helping my sister make a coat for herself, and the "Jonah Coat" for myself, the crazy difficult BWOF 11-2008-107.

Here's my sister's coat. (Butterick 5295) Didn't she do well? Helping someone create a nice coat? Satisfying. Being able to boss about my older sister? Priceless.

The Jonah coat was the hardest thing, by a long long shot, that I have ever sewn. It would have been fine if my figure was closer to the norm: but with multiple adjustments I could barely keep track of what I had added to where - it became very hard to figure out.

I'm not the only one having a tanty:

It is never my intention to wear this coat done up, but I put on the domes and buckles just in case.

The lining - a beautiful sage green acetate (Bemberg) from Nicks.

Because I made a side panel bust adjustment, a front panel bust adjustment, a waist and hip adjustment, a narrow shoulder adjustment, a full bicep adjustment, a low bust apex adjustment, a sloping shoulder adjustment, a forward shoulder adjustment and an arm length adjustment. Most of those adjustments where "slash and spread" adjustments, and not a matter of adding to or taking out of side seams.

I have a new definition of envy: it's someone who says, "I sewed a standard 40 grading out a little from bust to waist."

For all its crazy look and fitting nightmares I really feel good wearing this coat. I'll feel even better wearing it when it's winter instead of high summer and when I've forgotten a little bit about how hard it was to make.

Yes, in another 5 months it'll be perfect.

Costings: Fabric, Sally Army, wool gabardine, $5, lining, Acetate (bemberg) Nick's $5, domes, thread, inside buttons, petersham ribbon and buckles, tailor's shoulder pads $22, interfacing $10 = $42