Friday, May 28, 2010

Thank God for the Sallies

Of all 36 pattern reviews written about this bag, the Amy Butler weekender bag, not one of them said, "this bag costs an absolute fortune to make."

We start with a $30 pattern and then we add several metres of bag interfacing (Fast 2 Fuse) at $42 a metre and finish with lining priced out at $35 per metre. I worked out if you used the recommended Amy Butler home decorator fabric with the recommended bag stabilising interfacing you would spend upwards of $300. I did not, of course, do that.

Actually how I came by the fabric is a cautionary tale for anyone who likes op-shopping (that'd be goodwill shopping to my American friends). I sorted through a box of the usual debris at the local Sally Army and sorted two possible contenders - this, a piece of vintage bark cloth and another piece of hand beaded silk sari. I put the fabrics on a chair next to me as I was rifling through the box. A woman approached the chair picked up the fabrics and said, "ooh lovely fabrics."
"Put. the. fabrics. down. Step. away. from. the. fabrics." No of course I didn't say that, but I gave her a look that said it for me.
"oh? Are these yours?"

This flurry of bag activity was set about by the decision to have a weekend away in my hometown this weekend. It is very satisfying to return to the city of my youth with the skills of the last two decades away in evidence about me. Such a simple thing - to make your own clothes, such a big satisfaction to create something totally unique.

The piping is made with the lining lurex, not the easiest fabric to work with:

Fabric outer: Sally Army, from their litter bin mascarading as fabric box $10
Lining: Nick's upholstery weight lurex $20
Notions: Smart Dress Fabrics - 1 and half metres bag weight interfacing $18, 4 and 1/2 metres piping $7, Thread $3, Jeans needles $4.50 Bernina shop: Interfacing, 1 metre wisperweft, $12, 1 patchwork template plastic $7
Pattern: purchased on line $30 from All Things Patchwork - Cheryl the owner delivered the pattern personally because she knew I wanted to finish it this week .. is that service or is that service?

Grand total: $112 (that's around $75 US), and that people, was making it on the cheap.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pussy bow blouse

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you have a full bust you generally do not want to be drawing attention to it. However, there is another truth that says that pussy bow blouses are simply adorable and no matter what the state of your decollete you will want to make yourself one, especially one as easy as New look 6831.

The bow:

The buttons - clear, thought it best to keep it simple as I think you'll agree there is an AWFUL lot going on.

The back:

This blouse is fitted and cap sleeved, made of vintage fabric and buttons. I'm not sure what type of fabric it is but it feels like a cotton/wool blend of the Viyella persuasion. It is super comfy and super fun.

Toned down a little with a plain cardy and a dorky smile:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Game, set, matchy matchy match

I made these jeans (Burda 7738) to match my merino top - since I bought the fabric at the same time it seemed like a good idea and the closest I would ever get to wardrobe planning.

I feel better about wearing the merino top now (Burda 7760). I did a bit of "mall therapy" - where I looked at the other badly dressed people with ill fitting clothes at the shopping centre and didn't feel too bad. It just goes to prove the theory that if you are going to compare yourself with others, you'll feel a lot happier if you choose someone worse off than yourself.

The light is fading so these photos are the best I can do.

I sorted out most, but not all, of the problems with the back. In the case of my cords, I "over-fitted" - meaning I did one erroneous adjustment that threw everything else out. Normally I have to lengthen the back crotch by 2 cms, is there a worse feeling that having your pants ride your butt? There are things worse than watching people pick there knickers out of their back wedgies but bad as it looks, if feels much much worse. At any rate, the short answer is that I did not need to lengthen the back crotch at all - it was already quite long by Burda standards.

There is still something wrong happening on the yoke - can you see that pull. What am I doing wrong people? Is it because I pulled in the top of the yoke for a minor sway back - should I have left it completely alone ? There will be an expert reading this - go on, sign in as anonymous and tell me all about it.

But let's now look at what's going right. For these jeans I took in the bottom 1.5 cms on all sides, front and back, tapering at nothing at the knee to create a bootleg rather than flare. The denim was so heavy and thick I thought it wouldn't suit the bell bottom shape of the original design.

Then this is the treatment for the back baggies. If you are familiar with "Fit for Real People" you'll know there is a full bicep alteration. The same method can be applied to the back to collapse out a large wedge. It does add width, so you need to take that out through the side seam. Here's how the pattern piece looks.

So basically I did virtually nothing to alter these pants - they fit really well straight out of the packet and I love love love them. I have got my denim pre washed and ready for my next version where I get to do ALL the top stitching -this time I had to leave off the stitching on any seam that may require re-fitting.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Carol for sharing the information about the back baggy alteration and to Jackie for sharing her jeans making expertise.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

From "nice" to "interesting" - Burda 7760

When I have a sewing disaster I remember some of the things my sister has told me "if you're not making mistakes, you're not making anything," and "sewing is a journey," and "every garment is a learning experience."

And all of the above applies to Burda's version of the Jalie sweet heart top. I made a full muslin in viscose, which has similar properties to merino wool - it's spongey and slips around a bit and doesn't have great recovery. Only I did not bother finishing my hems, which proved to be my undoing.

The most important alteration with Burda: raising the neckline. They would have us sport a whole lot of cleavage. I take a tuck at the neckline reducing to nothing at the armhole and do the same to the facing.

After a number of other small alterations, I made what was supposed to be my final version in a rib knit merino. All was going beautifully - I used vilene bias tape to secure the edges, used a walking foot and a ball point needle, used a very narrow zigzag stitch for the seam to hold their elasticity and sewed it all up beautifully. When I got to the hems I decided I would use hemming web to secure the hem, and the super stretchy stitch. Well, the hem super stretchyied out - until I had a huge wavering mess. In a panic I took in the side seams, but this only contorted the fabric further, pulling the whole front further and further off grain.

When I tried it on, and looked in the mirror I said to myself, "no, not even for the Sally Army."

If you've ever tried to unpick the super stretchy stitch you'll know that is an exercise in vanity, and because I had to cut in to the fabric to take in the side seams there wasn't much left for me to fix.

I went out and bought some more merino, this time with some lycra to aid recovery. Oh yes that lycra sure does bounce back, it stretches and hugs every curve... and every bulge. Now the fabric was too tight, clinging ungraciously to every fault. I used a twin needle on the hems, as the pattern insisted, and it came out as planned, only I will never be comfortable sporting this degree of anatomical detail to the world.

At this point I considered my options: a fourth attempt, in merino without lycra and praying to the twin needle gods? Could I cut off the worst of the hemming mess on the second top and add a band? Could I wear the third top with a cardigan over the top and shapewear underneath? Should I take a "back fat be damned" attitude and wear it anyway? Or should I remove the bow and turn it into underwear given that this merino is a super soft and snuggly baby weight?

I decided I'd try the middle options. And that is what we have: Burda 7760 with hip band and Burda 7760 sweetheart top with back fat.

Overall I've learned a lot about sewing merino, and stretch, and fitting stretch, but I think the two previous reviewers on Pattern Review who said, "the Jalie one is better" are probably right.

However, there are two advantages to the Burda one: because it is constructed with a front facing instead of small bands to finish the neckline it works well with unstable knits, like merino. Secondly, the bow is super adorable. It's sweet and a little provocative - at the end of the day, it's the details on Burda that keep me coming back. They just know how to take a garment and add a little spice. And spice is what takes a garment from "nice" to "interesting."

The inside of the sleeve is gathered:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Burda 7738.

They are supposedly low rise but does that look low to you??? They are also both fitted and flared, which gives them a distinct retro feel.

From Jackie, jeans guru of the Auckland branch of the Australian sewing guild, I heard about this pattern. This is my first version, aka wearable muslin, in cord. I love love love it.

But I totally stuffed up the back. I am almost too embarrassed to show you the enormous back wedgie. However, in the interests of sewing honesty I am braving my backside.

It's not all bad news though- I got rid of the back baggies by following the method suggested to me by Carol, who runs the ASG. You cut and collapse a wedge out at the bottom of the crotch. I'll show you the pattern piece when I've sorted out the other problems in my next version of these.

It's Me- Made - May and call me perverse, but I've been out shopping and buying lots of new clothes. For me it's way more of a challenge to stop wearing the things I make and go out and buy myself some basics.

I need to shop for clothes though, it's no good me having 'sewing shoulds' - I have to face the facts that with a life regimented by family demands, my sewing time must remain unfettered.

It has been a great thrill to see everyone else's MMM efforts, and to see all the mini wardrobes unfolding - thank you all for sharing. It just goes to show though, what's one person's challenge is another person's TORTURE.

Fabric: wide wale cord from Smart Dress $25, zipper +thread = $6 = $31