Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Jonah coat - BWOF - 11-2008-107 part one

You remember that bible story about Jonah? He had a mission from on high and he decided to ignore it and do his own thing. Every time he went off to do his own thing, God sabotaged his activities until he had to give up and follow the voice from on high.

Well, I had a similar experience with this coat. My intuition was to make this winter coat. I ignored that intuition for many reasons but top of the list would be the hot summer sun and high humidity that comes with it being MID-SUMMER here. But every time I tried to start a sensible project - a summery tunic or dress or skirt I'd either lose energy, or in the case of the tunic, lose a whole pattern page with 2 vital pieces on it. I decided that for some unfathomable reason, this coat just wanted to be made by me, right now.

And since Burda had yet to start their pattern naming escapades (they started that 09), I have taken the liberty of calling this "the Jonah coat."

This is the most challenging project I have sewn to date - the fit through the bust took several hours of tissue fitting and I ended up retracing the bodice piece 3 times before I could get it right. Also challenging those pleats - almost gynecological in shape - they need to fall exactly from the corner of the front bodice piece.

I got the fabric from my local Sally Army - they only wanted $5 for it - can you believe it? 3 1/2 metres of 100% wool gabardine in perfect condition. Someone obviously did a stash trash. Or died, more likely, because no-one could get pure wool out of my house except over my dead body.

Anyway, I thought I'd show you what I'm doing and where I'm at because I won't get this coat finished before my holiday down south and then I will be helping my sister sew her coat. It'll be New Year before this coat makes its blog debut.

The coat has this cute little neck band, that when you fold it up, it forms a kind of scarf around your neck.

See, all folded up, now you just have the big floppy collar:

The back pleats mimic the front. It's a whole lot of look, but hey, I really felt it was OK to take a risk on a 5 buck coat.

And if you feel like sharing, tell me, how do you decide what to sew? More importantly, how do you resolve the tension between sewing what you feel like sewing, and sewing what your wardrobe requires?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The mademoiselle dress, Burda 05-2009-122

On the dress form so you can see the detail

The balloon sleeves

On me

Don't you love the way Burda give all their patterns names? This dress is called the "madamemoiselle" dress, and it is fresh and feminine. It's not often I have to think hard about whether a style might be a little young for me, but in this case I followed my "do I feel like making it and will it be fun?" mantra and with a "oui" to both I was off!

Every time I buy a new issue of Burda I think the patterns look a little wierd, so if it was up to me to be namin' them, sometimes it would be more like the "ew" dress, the "yuk" top and the "what were they thinking" pants. But, as they say, the eye adjusts, and soon I start thinking about making the yuk top to go with the what were they thinking pants and look for the foul coat to top it off.

Anyway, madam will slip into her mademoiselle dress ready to celebrate her wedding anniversary this week, for which aforesaid frock was sewn.

Bonne anniversaire!

Costings: vintage silk $30 from a shop in Nelson, thread $3.20 recycled zipper, tissue paper $2, lining 100% acetate Charles Parson lining from Nicks $6 - read it and weep - = $41.20

a note about the lining - if you go to Nick's on Sunday the guy that does Nick's day off is in charge of handling the stock, ask him to show you the best quality lining and he'll sort you out - lining fabrics are only $2 a metre. Not only does this lining have great drape, it's also very cool and comfortable.

Co-incidently, sometimes the fabric buyers are allowed to tell you where they got their stock - sometimes they are not able to because they are obligated to protect the designer from knock-offs.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Finally, Burda 07-2009-102

Let's recap the many twists and turns on this sewing journey. We start with fabric with 30% crosswise stretch. We continue with replacement fabric with 30% crosswise stretch. We buy new fabric whose label only lists cotton and lurex as fibre content but has 10% crosswise stretch so at the very least must have some elastane. We buy replacement for the replacement of the replacement which is linen and cotton after triple checking absolutely NO crosswise stretch but on the first fitting discover that the linen is very scratchy, even though it comes from a reputable source.

Very important lesson learnt: hands are rough and poor indicator of how fabric is going to feel on tender princess-like thighs. Best indicator? The area of skin between the nose and lips is very sensitive and if you can sneak a piece of fabric to your lips and give it a light brush (you might try to find a private space for this) you'll have a pretty good indicator of how this will feel on your thighs. That is, if you really find lining things tedious like I do and want to just get something nice and comfy from the outset. There was nothing for it but to line it, and that I did, with some cotton lawn from Nick's.

I like the idea of these pants - the straight leg, the pockets, the waistband finishing on the waist with the extended flap - but I forgot that linen needs ironing and so it isn't exactly lazy friendly wash'n'wear.

Technical drawing from Burda: (NB - I added half and inch from the outer front hip to the ankle to make the leg a bit straighter as this style is too slim in the front for me)

Costings: cotton/linen from Nick's (Line 7 manufacturers liquidation sale) $10. Thread 50c for overlocking thread, outer thread used leftovers from other projects. Pattern already costed first time round. Lining $6 Interfacing $1. Total: $17

I'm not totally in love with these pants, mainly because I really don't like linen that much. It has to be said though, as the humidity rises linen really comes into its own, so we'll call it a draw.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

There are no mistakes, only opportunities for hobo bags.

Post editing note: The very talented Judy Ross is the author of the following quote (Sorry Judy! Katherine, you are still fabulous)

If you read the fabulous Blooms Fabric Obsesssion blog, you'll remember Katherine used to have a sub header that read, "there are no mistakes, only opportunities for design features." Well, I can tell you, I have been sewing design features for a long time now.

I couldn't let those lovely pockets go to waste, and worked out how to cut the pants to get the "Hobo bag" Kwik Sew 3312 out of it. That bag needed more pockets anyway, and why let a good single welt go to waste?

From the back, I lined up the pattern along the back crotch length so that I could include all of the back yolk piece. I also LOVE the way it's just got a little bit of butt crack where the back crotch started to veer in. Pa ha ha. Sorry, very juvenile.

Anyway, I have learned my lesson about buying cheap fabric. I went to Global Fabrics and bought some beautiful lovely quality fabric. It was 30% off however, which eased the pain.

Costings: Actually, nothing. The lining was scrap from another project, and I already had the pattern.

Acknnowledgments: The idea to turn trousers into a bag came from Miss Flossy
Her students did some great jeans refashion bags.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Not a bargain, just cheap.

My sister was nearly wetting herself when she heard about my latest project.
"I can't WAIT to see them," she said. This was not meant in a kind and supportive sisterly way, blog friends. She was high on sewing schadenfreude and was looking forward to viewing my nemesis.

The fact is, I went back to Nick's to get some fabric to remake last wadder pants and you just would not credit it but the replacement fabric also had 30% crosswise stretch. Because the fibre content is not labelled, and it looked like a loose cotton weave, I just didn't think to check. Until after he had cut it.

So this time I thought I'd look for a pattern for summer pants that actually required crosswise stretch, and settle on Burda 02-2009-117. I was curious about the pocket detail, and thought I'd enjoy sewing it. I did, as a matter of fact.

And look how nicely I did it too.

The fact is, not all cheap fabric is a bargain. Sometimes, it's just cheap. The fabric is too uncomfortable to wear - it's really rough on my delicate skin, and lining won't work.

So it's welcome to wadderville, population:me.

Costings: fabric, $4, zipper + cotton, $3 = $7.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rag doll

The thing I totally love about this design is that the weighting provided by the chin and the way the arms prop the body means this doll can sit up all by herself.

Whenever I find myself saying something like, "how hard can it be?" I always end up with a project that has me swearing like a sailor.

I decided to make a rag doll out of fabric scraps, with the idea that if it was successful I'd give it to a friend's daughter who is turning 2. You'll notice I gave myself lots of room to bow out of the project, because I do have a sewing policy about sewing for friends that goes something like this: never do it.

But the possibility of making something for free appealed to my inner tight wad and being between projects it seemed the timing was right too.

Now the mother of Miss 2 is one of those parents who has a lovely home and wears beautiful clothes, so I also accepted the possibility that if the doll looked a little too "loving hands at home," then the mother would probably lose it before her daughter.

I found a doll pattern I thought looked pretty cool and easy enough for a novice doll maker. It came with printable pattern pieces but no instructions. That's when I said to myself, "hey, I sew BWOF, how hard can it be?"

Doll making is a very precise form of sewing. You are working with tiny seams and tiny seam allowances. It takes a really meticulous steady hand and a lot of practice. Clearly I had underrated the skill involved.

Twice I pulled the doll from the bin. The third time, when I said, "no, really, I've had enough of this" and was just about to finally bin her she looked at me all forlorn in her brodiere anglaise knickers and then I knew it was too late.

If you are going to ditch a doll, you have to do it before you sew on baby blue eyes.

costings: nothing

acknowledgements: many thanks to Michele for making this pattern available.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yes, there is such a thing as sewing I don't like. For me it consists of:

1) sewing for other people
2) sewing for other things
3) mending and alterations

So it was with some reluctance that I agreed to sew a new cover for our ironing board at TMB's request. (note that this is all 3 things I hate sewing rolled into one task). He actually uses the ironing board for his clothes, I just use it for pressing. Once I sew something, it rarely sees the back of an iron again.

I happened to have a piece of upholstery fabric that I scored at the Hospice shop for a couple of bucks, so I traced round the edges of the board, added some piping, then sewed a bias "skirt" on the bottom. I recycled the drawstring from the old cover and zig zagged it in place on the edges. When you pull it tight it holds the skirt and secures the cover tightly to the frame.

A long hour and a half of my sewing life. Precision measurement, precision sewing. Mildly resentful thoughts.

And here it is, ready for another round of action packed pressing with all my lovely pressing equipment: (iron, pressing cloth, point presser, sock ham and professional ham, sleeve board.)

Cost: half a piece of upholstery fabric from Hospice shop in the village, $2.00, piping 10c. Yes, that's right. I got about a hundred metres of it on sale for a couple of bucks. I have piping for life.

Now the reason I get to make so much stuff is that my son very obligingly has a lovely long (3 hrs) afternoon nap. However, lest you think everything is too cruisey on this home front, he also starts the day at 5:30 am, which is quite a bit less pleasant.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What does your colour say about you?

Post editing note: the back elastic looked a bit wonky to me so I redid it and made one of those back waist band thingies while I was about it.

Or so a chalk written question on a blackboard outside a hairdressers' asked all who passed its premises. My colour says I am going grey, and recently my hairdresser broached the subject.

HD: Now I see we are getting a little salt in there with the pepper, would you like to talk colour possibilites?

Me: You know, Dutch painters used to paint still-lifes with decaying fruit and bones to remind us that we are all going to die. Let's call my grey my little piece of "memento mori."

HD: (pause) aah that would be a "no" then?

I went looking for fabric for my pants and came back with this instead.

I fell in love with the sky blue with gold glitter. As soon as I saw it I thought, "wow, that's real Queen Mother material." And then I thought about it a bit more and thought, "no, hey, it's more Camilla Parka Bowles."

I've always been meaning to get back to this pattern BWOF 03-2009-115. I've been thinking recently it's really a good idea to make Burda patterns more than once - the first time most of your time is spent tracing and trying to figure out the instructions - second time is a breeze and you can fix all those annoying first time round mistakes.

So what does this colour say about me? It says I am a fabric magpie who can't resist a bit of glitter; it says for some inexplicable reason I am drawn to dress like an old lady; it says my sense of humour finds its way into everything I do and everything I wear.

Costings: fabric $12 (Nick's) Interfacing $10, thread $4.50, elastic 50 c (only used a tiny bit) retro buttons 4 for $2 (Salvage). = $29.00

I'm sorry that the sun has bleached out the fabulous glitter quality to this coat and you can't see many of the details, which is a pity, but we have to take our child free photo opportunities when we have them.

Look at that great 70's collar

And from the back, I inserted elastic to pull in the back waist fullness rather than make the belt.

Hopefully you can make out the pockets in this photo, as they are a central design feature to this coat.

Here are the vintage buttons and you can see a better representation of the colour of this coat.

The technical drawing, courtesy of Burda:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Making lemonade out of a lemon.

We all know what the lemon was.

Here's the lemonade: Burda 9828. Cut one piece out of each leg. This fabric is so perfect for this use because we use cloth nappies with our son and commercially purchased trousers are often too small in the butt. With 30% crosswise stretch everything fits very nicely. The green is a little bit pastelly so I manned the pattern up by adding their optional cargo pockets and adding some navy blue buttons.

Righty ho that's enough sewing for someone else let's get back to more important matters: sewing for me.

It has been said several times, and in a manner not meant to be flattering, that I am a person who always has to have the last word. So this is not the last you have heard of Burda 07-2009-102. I have already sized it up with another straight-legged pattern that works well for me and added about an inch an half to the front leg so we are good to remake this number as soon as I get some appropriate fabric.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

If you enjoy other people's wadders, check these out.

Worst. Project. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever.

However, I have to say I learned some very useful lessons and you know the saying, "what doesn't kill you, only makes you a better sewer." Or words to that effect.

I learned that

1) not all stretch corduroys are created equal
2) the primary use of stretch corduroy is for skinny jeans, and skinny jeans are for skinny people.

Can you see what made me fall in love with the pattern though (BWOF 07-2009-102)? It was this dinky little flap extension and the slanted squared off pockets. I also felt the straight leg had potential, but it is a very narrow straight leg and I prefer something a little wider.

But because I realised very early on I had a wadder on my hands, I experimented with finish, and practised edgestitching and catching the inside facing of the waistband at the same time. Normally that produces horrendous results for me. One side is always wonky. The secret, blog sewing friends, is the edge foot on your machine.

Sewing on the inside, you run the bar along the joining seam and position the needle slightly to the left. It automatically catches it evenly on both sides.

The Wadder Wallet:
fabric - 8 bucks, zip+cotton 4 bucks, 1 piece of tissue 2 bucks, Interfacing 1 buck = $15 bucks of landfill liner.

ps Miri, not even for gardening, or mucking the cows.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The "f" words.

To a home sewer, the big 4 "f" words for successful projects are:

- fit: tailoring the pattern to your body
- finish: sewing everything nicely and neatly and accurately
- fashion: choosing a style that suits you
- fabric: matching the weight and hand of the fabric to the design of the garment

I fell down BIG time on the last one. I decided to make a pair of cords in Burda 07-2009-102, and sewed them in a stretch corduroy. Since I have sewed stretch corduroy before, I was lulled into a false sense of security about its properties, thinking they were all alike.

Wrong. Only after I sewed these pockets and they stretched out did I stop to measure exactly how much stretch was in them. 30%. That's HUGE. That's MASSIVE. That's like, this is so wrong, so very wrong, for this pattern.

So I added a few more "f" words to my repertoire and thought about what to do.

In comes TMB to the kitchen to find me chortling away to myself.
"what are you laughing about?"
"oh I was just remembering my last pair of green cords."
"they were given to me by my sister for my birthday. They were hideous. She realised she'd made a blunder after buying them and decided to "regift" them to me."
"so why is that so funny?"
"I've just remembered it's her birthday at the end of this month."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Still wearing the pants.

If you thought the bargains I got at Nick's looked too good to be true, they were. The shipment was meant for the more up market Global Fabrics across town, and there they have been rehoused, with a new and improved price tag.

In the meantime, I've made up the first of the fabrics - this pretty green cotton drill in the same pattern as the previous post (BWOF 05-2009-101) - here I am chanelling my inner air hostess. I'm fond of good flare, me I am.

You know how Gok says the average British woman spends 2000 pounds a year on clothes? I don't know if that's true because a google search told me that is was closer to 800 pounds. And US women spend on average $1800 (US).

In the interests of research I'm going to start totalling how much it costs me to sew a garment.

Air hostess trousers in Nick's special green: fabric 1.8@ $4 a metre = 7.20 + interfacing 2.0 + zipper 50c on special + thread 2.0 + tracing paper - half a packet $3.50

I'm not counting Burda into the cost - that's just for entertainment, making something out of it is a bonus.

= 12.30 NZ dollars. That's what, about 7-8 US dollars.

PS fly on correct side this time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I really do wear the BWOF 05-2009-101 pants.

The pockets are quite high up - that's because these pants reach to your natural waist - a woman's best friend when it comes to combatting the 'muffin tin' effect.

I once said to my husband, "it's not so much that I wear the pants in this relationship, it's that you wear the skirt." Anyway, he took one look at these pants, and so, "no, you definitely wear the pants." Yes I sewed the front fly man style on the right instead of left.

Now I blame BWOF for this. When they say left, they don't mean left as you are looking at it sewing, they want you to imagine you are the fabric, and if you were the fabric what would be your left fabric self.

Hence the fly sewn man-style. No-one's going to notice and I'm sure not going to bother re-setting it because it's a fancy hidden facings / fly shield number. Fly shields are a nice detail but so unnecessary in womanswear don't you think? It's not like we drop our drawers to use a communal public toilet and need the extra coverage.

You may also have noticed the cotton batiste lining to protect the inevitable thigh chaffing courtesy of lurex threads. I have Kbenco to thank for that handy piece of advice. Funnily enough she then left me another message directing me to a thread where people were discussing the merits of using batiste as lining.

Naturally, the ones who had never done it before were the most sure it shouldn't be done. Well in the privacy of my own blog I get to say that they were wrong - it makes a lovely soft cushion from nasty pointy threads and is impreccably behaved falling nicely without skewing or bulking seams. Any bulk you see in these seams is one hundred percent natural. So there!

I made a couple of changes from the pattern - I eliminated the button and ran the zipper full length. I also added a double belt tab for centre back - a feature I copied from a pair of RTW jeans I had.

Finally, bless me father for I have sinned. I've stashed up big time. When Jenni-from-across-the-road rang to tell me that Nick's fabrics had a shipment of Karen Walker fabrics in for $4 a metre I knew this was the moment to break all the rules. For 60 bucks (about $40 US) I bought this selection of cotton drill, corduroy, silk cupron, silk satin with lycra, cotton lawn and denim. Peacock colours - aren't they stunning?

Trousers - BWOF 05-2009-101
Fabric: cotton lurex from Smart Dress Fabrics, Mt Albert.

Friday, October 16, 2009

the 49th instruction:

Post editing note: here it is finished, and worn with protective long sleeved rayon tunic...

You remember me quipping that an easy pattern did not need 48 fully illustrated instructions: actually I'm going to add another - wear this garment with a full slip, and here's the illustration:

Yep, you are one gust of wind away from a Marilyn moment with this full skirt and unsecured cross over. This dress sure wouldn't pass any "modesty meter" tests. Anyway, privacy of my back yard and the internet, no-one's going to mind but I can tell you I'm going shopping before this baby goes public.

It's actually not finished: I've got to hand sew the hems on both sleeve and hem, but I thought I'd save that treat for America's Next Top Model tonight - then my evening has not been completely wasted on vacuous television.

This dress goes live at our Playcentre fundraiser movie night on Monday. With a week to go and only half the tickets sold it looked like our fundraiser was about to become a fundloser but a last minute shove from the organiser got everyone to sell off their tickets and we sold out.

I am of course, already thinking about my next sewing project, and I've got to a bit of a dead end. I bought this fabric in anticipation of making some pants for summer. It's cotton, but with some lurex in with the weft threads. I wrapped it round my arm and wore it round the house and within 5 minutes I had my answer: it's not comfortable enough to be worn at close quarters. Trousers are out. I toyed with the idea of lining them but then who wants to wear lined pants through a hot sticky summer?

Dress: Butterick 5030
Fabric: Vintage viscose (rayon) from Salvage

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kreativ Blogger - it could be you!

Thanks to Sue who nominated me for the Kreativ blogger award. I saw it was going around, but you never know you luck. (Could be your lucky day blog friends too, stay tuned).

One part is to share 7 things about yourself that blog readers wouldn't know.

1) I have a degree in Classics. The old fashioned kind, Greek and Latin. People always used to ask me, "how are you going to get a job with that? Well, the longest I've ever been unemployed is 6 weeks, ever. It's about education and opportunity and maximizing both.

2) I was raised as one of nine children.

3) I have a volunteer flower arranging job which I do every second Tuesday.

4) My last job was teaching adult literacy. That's when I learned that you teach a person first, and a curriculum second.

5) I meet 2 friends for dinner every Thursday. We have been doing it for years, despite serious illness and major life changes.

6) I am "housekeeping challenged."

7) My husband does not read my blog, and if he must read one, he'll read my sister's in preference. "Yours is just about sewing." JUST ABOUT SEWING. Like that's a bad thing???

He is a very good husband in other respects though so I'm not complaining.

Right now one of the things about being raised as one of nine children is that everything has to be fair and equitable, so I can't just choose 7 people, that would mean leaving worthy people out. So instead I invite anyone who is reading this who would like this to be their lucky day, I nominate you!

I bought back some treasures from my Nelson holiday. My sister gave me "the twins" for my son but he's not allowed to put a sucky licky toothy paw on them, they sit guard in my sewing room. Some toys are just too good to be trashed so early in their lives.

And I got this gorgeous vintage silk. It's so beautiful the only way I'll be brave enough to use it is if I make a muslin of a muslin and then another muslin just to be triple sure.

I am currently working on Butterick 5030 with some other vintage fabric. It's so long that I've sewn anything other than BWOF that I've forgotten quite how easy a pattern already traced and pictorial instructions are.

In fact, I'm looking at all 48 fully illustrated instructions and thinking, "what? do you think I'm a moron?"