Thursday, 26 December 2013

Make a Garment a Month - My December Garment

Ottobre 5/2013 No. 3 Leo Bohemian blouse

I used to wear peasant style tops in my younger days and when I saw this one it immediately went on my want list. I have been subscribing to Ottobre for over a year now, and though each issue has designs that seem very "me" I haven't yet summoned up the courage to trace a pattern off and test the Ottobre fit.
Picture from the magazine
Now, my body looks nothing like the model in the book, so I was a bit worried, but I have learned quite a bit about pattern adjusting lately, so I traced off a size 42 (European sizing) at the shoulders, which corresponds to my high bust measurements, and graded it out to a size 46 at the underarm and hips. When I measured the pattern pieces there seemed to be enough ease for me.

I chose a sheer polyester print from Darn Cheap Fabrics for my test garment. The pattern recommends poplin. This poly was tricky to cut out - very slippery.
The first thing to do is the placket. I've never done piping before. I used a gold lycra from my dance stash and fussy cut the red from the print. It turned out better than I expected!!! So I carried on. Ottobre instructions are succinct, but not too hard to follow.
The pattern has a few other features that are new to me. Sleeve plackets are a first. The fabric made this trickier than it needed to be. It was impossible to distinguish right side from wrong, so even though I thought hard, I sewed the plackets on the same way!! You can't tell with this print and fabric, so I didn't unpick, but I'll make sure I mark the wrong sides next time.....

It's been ages since I did a yoke, and I did quite a bit of spatial gymnastics before I was game enough to sew front to back to enclose the yoke. It was simple in the end, but I wanted to make sure no unpicking would be required. Once I had joined front to back, I was starting to really like this top, and wished I'd taken more care with finishing off the seams. Because it was a test garment, I was being lazy. I tried sewing French seams for the sideseams and sleeves - another first. I was happy with the result and will do this next time I'm working with a sheer fabric.

The sleeve cuffs are buttoned. The buttonholes were a disaster! There is plenty of room in the cuffs for my hands, so I just sewed the buttons on through the cuffs. The print covers it all up so it's not even a "Design Feature".

The instructions called for a narrow hem, but when I finished it, parts of the hem were flared out, so I decided to overlock a rolled hem. Thread choice was tricky as the print is large areas of different colours, and I settled on a tan colour in the upper looper, a grey in the lower looper and the steel blue thread I had been using in the sewing maching for the needle. It turned out very nicely.

I was so happy with this top that I wore it on Christmas Day (with my new denim skirt from my Sure-Fit Designs dress kit). In the photos I'm wearing a navy cami under it. I'm looking forward to experimenting with other colours underneath.
I'm thinking of making another one. I have some bone coloured viscose in mind, which will look totally different. I might also see how it looks loosely belted.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas Cutie

I hadn't planned on making this. I've been subscribing to Ottobre for over a year now and, though I love receiving the magazines in the post and flicking through looking at the pictures, I've never sewn anything! Then Pattern Review held a holiday sewing contest, and I knew I had scraps of Christmas fabric in my stash waiting to be used, so I measured up my wriggly toddler and set to it!

Ottobre 3/2013 Designs 13 Vichy Bow sleeveless top and 14 Surprise flounce skirt
Tracing off the pattern is quite a challenge. They certainly do pack a lot of designs onto the page, and then you get to add your seam allowances. You need to read the instructions carefully to make sure you haven't missed any notches, or added seam allowances where you needn't.
This little top came together really quickly. The pointy hem and bow are quite cute.
I made the smallest size. My toddler was smaller on all the measurements except height, and I wouldn't want this to be any smaller. The red knit fabric I used is not super stretchy, but it had the minimum amount of stretch stated on the pattern. It also is quite short on her. On the model, it's a bit short, but she is wearing her skirt higher. On my daughter, there's quite a gap between skirt and top.
The little skirt was fun to make. I had just watched a lesson on Janet Pray's Craftsy class Sew Better Sew Faster about crimping to help turn the fabric under for patch pockets. This technique worked like a dream. Unfortunately, the lace I chose from stash to top the pockets was a bit heavy. In hindsight I should have trimmed the lace off the heavier edge it was attached to. Never mind.
The back of the skirt is great. I had fun deciding which fabric to put where. I'm delighted with the result, even if it did mean rethreading the overlocker between red and green for the rolled hems.
If I make this up again (in a more "normal" fabric) I'll need to be more accurate with the flounce lines, as the flounces are sewn into the side seams. On one side I needed to go back and trim away a little of the flounce (which meant threading the overlocker in green again to do the rolled hem) as I needed more space to sew the hem.

You can see from the side view how the front and back contrast so nicely. Ottobre didn't call it the "Surprise" flounce skirt for nothing!

She certainly looked very cute in her Christmas outfit today!
Now I need to work out how to enter it in the contest.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

November Wrap-Up

Firstly, a very big thank you to everyone who has stopped by this month. I love visitors, and really appreciate your comments.

It's been a busy month in the sewing cave. I finished my gorgeous brown stretch linen skirt......., then washed it in the washing machine and had to redo the hem.......... I made 2 pairs of legging for my daughter from stash - unplanned sewing. And I've drawn up the pattern for a tee shirt from my SFD master. This was supposed to be my November MAGAM garment. If I can get it sewn up today, maybe I can squeeze it into my November sewing.

Mostly in the sewing cave this month I've been embellishing dance costumes. These are troupe costumes for the end of year concert, so are made by the costume makers, and the trim is sewn on by the mums. The concert was wonderful. My daughter was in 9 items - so lots of quick changes!

I've also spent many pleasant cuppas mulling over my plan for SWAP. I haven't participated in one before, but I just might this year. The rules are quite flexible this year, and I should be able to sew the wardrobe I need within the rules. I'm hoping to give my Ottobre magazines a workout.

There's also a holiday sewing competition on Pattern Review that I've decided to have a go at. Having a toddler in the house has got me all festive.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Update on the Brown Linen Skirt

I'm the kind of person who likes to test a theory. I don't like to do something this way or that way just because someone tells me to, even if that someone is an expert in that field. In my Underlining course Sarah Veblen did say that underlined garments should be either carefully hand washed or dry cleaned to keep the layers happily together. I avoid dry cleaning due to the hassle and cost, and hand washing? Not sure when I last hand washed a garment. I thought I'd try the delicates cycle on my front loader.

Well, the layers separated in the hem, and since it was a 5cm hem, I couldn't get them to play nicely without unpicking the hem altogether. I had no one to blame but myself.

I'm not the only one who knows how to use the washing machine, so it is likely that this garment will find itself in a spin cycle again. What I decided to do was baste around just on the inside of the fold line for the hem. This is a loose baste as the fabric is stretch woven and I want the hem to have that give. I also took the opportunity to fix up the edge. I had over-locked it, but in hindsight, it wasn't the best finish I could do. I cut a strip of the remaining linen (several, actually, and joined them together) and bound the edge. I used the lightning stitch as this one gave the most stretch when I tested a range of stitches. This meant I was unable to do a tidy stitch in the ditch, but the result is a much better finish than before. The hem was sewn with a catch stitch, again, to allow for a bit of stretch.

Lesson learnt.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Jalie 2920 Leggings

Those who don't sew think we're mad. Why have a cupboard full of fabric? Why not just buy for a particular project, sew it up immediately, throw out the scraps and move on? There's no point in trying to explain The stash. No point.

My daughter needed some full length black leggings for a dance costume. Of course, she'd grown out of everything. I made a quick trip to the shops, but since it's coming into summer here, full length anything is hard to get, unless you are willing to pay the exorbitant prices at the fancy dance stores.

So it was stash, and Jalie 2920 to the rescue! These are a very quick and easy sew. I made them while my toddler had her afternoon nap. I managed to get 2 pairs cut side by side, so very economical too. Jalie patterns are a slim fit, so if you're in between sizes, go up. I added about 8cm to the length to be sure they were long enough, and for growing room. When I made this pattern up for myself, they were not full length as the pattern picture suggests, but this could also have been due to the amount of lengthwise stretch in the fabric I chose.

It's funny how things turn out sometimes. This black cotton lycra has been in my stash since I was pregnant with this child. I bought it to make maternity leggings for myself!!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Make a Garment a Month - My October Garment

Yes, I know it's well into November, but I finally finished my underlined stretch linen skirt!! I wore it all day today and felt great in it.
The fabric is a stretch linen I that's been in my stash for over 2 years.  I love the feel and colour and wanted to make something really nice with it - so there it sat for a while.... Last month I took Sarah Veblen's underlining class and I then I knew what I wanted to do with my fabric. As it's a stretch woven I needed to underline it with a compatible fabric, so chose a brown stretch cotton sateen from Spotlight. Both fabrics have a similar amount of stretch, and will breathe nicely.

The hand basting did take some time. I used the Japanese silk basting thread from my class kit. Lovely. I then finished off the edges with a 3 thread overlock stitch. Basting around the darts helps keep both layers of fabric in place. The silk thread slips out easily when the darts are done.
It may not seem like much to you, but this is my very first invisible zip!! I followed the instructions from my Craftsy class - Design Sew and A-Line Skirt.  I watched the video several times to psych myself up to it - and am very pleased with the result. I just used my regular sewing foot. Unfortunately, as you can see, the zip is about 2mm out, but I thought I could fix this when I applied the waistband.
Somehow, despite careful measuring, the waistband went on wonky, perhaps because I had to stretch it a bit to fit (the skirt had stretched out a little). I didn't see this until I'd sewn and clipped the waistband ends, so had to decide whether to leave it or try to fix it. I decided to try to fix it. The waistband now meets in line, but I have a pucker and some not great hand sewing instead. I'm not sure if it was worth the effort, but who will see it at the back?
The hem and waistband are hand finished with a catch stitch. For the waistband, I toyed with the idea of stitch in the ditch, but, firstly, I'm not very accurate at it and can get a bit wobbly, and secondly, at the moment my weight fluctuates and I want the waistband to be able to stretch a bit for comfort. The catch stitch for the hem only catches the underlining fabric, so is totally invisible from the right side. The catch stitch also allows the fabric to move and won't restrict the stretch. I wore the skirt all day today and never felt restricted or constricted.

I drew the skirt pattern from my Sure-Fit Designs Dress Kit using the directions from the downloadable Pencil Skirt leaflet. I'm really glad I downloaded the leaflet. The instructions explain how to remove the wearing ease for a dress to make a more fitted skirt. It would have taken me many muslins to work this out for myself! I didn't do a straight pencil skirt, I flared it out just a little bit, partly as I think a slight flare suits me, and partly because I didn't want to do a pleat or other feature. I was hoping there was enough stretch in the fabric for movement.

There are a couple of minor tune-ups for next time. I will straighten the hip curve towards the waist - just a matter of finding which curve on the stylus best reflects my body. Also, the front darts need shortening just a little.
Today I wore my skirt with my empire line top - made from my SFD Empire line dress . I fell in love with this double sided print and made a twist dress with it last summer. Keen to show off both prints, I have used the different sides for the upper and lower sections of this top. While I was making it a little voice inside my head was telling me that it's not a great idea this time and that it might be less flattering than, say, the floral print all over. I could remove the lower section and turn it the other way. Even though fabric will be lost in the conversion, there is just enough ease and stretch for it to work. What do you think?

Friday, 1 November 2013

November Goals

November is very busy in our house. My daughter has her end of year dance concert, so I'll be busy embellishing 7 costumes (don't have to make them, though), as well as getting her to extra rehearsals, photo day, ....... and trying to keep in touch with everyone else in the household!

Firstly, I need to say a big "Thank You" to all who have come by my blog and spent the time to read and maybe even comment on my posts. It is much appreciated. We all live busy lives. Blogging and discovering other bloggers who share similar interests means we can pursue our passion individually, but not on our own. This is very special.

I would also like to apologise for not commenting on your blogs as freely as I would like to. I don't know what's going on, but lately, the majority of my comments get locked up in Explorer and sometimes I make it back, but mostly after 2 attempts, I give up. Sorry. Does anyone know if there's anything I can do from this end to fix it?

Now to my goals.

1. Finish the underlined linen skirt.
2. Try to make a garment for me for the Make A Garment A Month Challenge. I'm tossing a few ideas around at the moment. I'd like to have a go at the Bombshell Swimsuit, but as I'll need to add an underwire bra, I may not get it completed during this busy month. My wardrobe gaps are knit tops, so maybe I'll have a go at one from Ottobre, or do another gathered tee from my Sure-Fit Designs system. The neckline needs a bit of tweaking from my first version, but that's probably the quickest option, and I know I'll be very busy this month.

Happy Sewing everyone. I look forward to seeing what others make this month.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

October Wrap-Up

I made four garments this month. They're all teddy bear sized, but skirt is a skirt, no matter how big or small! I'm proud of my work in the sewing cave this month. Did I complete all my goals? No. But I did learn a lot along the way.

I did the Understanding Interfacings class, and I completed both sample projects. I also took the Underlining class, and again completed both sample projects. While my daughter's teddy bear is now the best dressed on the block, my skills have definitely improved and I'm sure the garments on my to-do list will benefit.

I know October has come to an end, and I have not yet completed my October garment for SarahLiz's Make a Garment a Month Challenge but it is definitely looking like a skirt. I have chosen a dark brown stretch linen from stash, but had to purchase a stretch cotton for the underlining fabric. I'm using my Sure-Fit Designs Dress Kit with the pencil skirt downloadable instructions. As you can see, I'm half way through the basting process.
Hopefully I can get stuck in tonight and finish in time for Sarah's October wrap-up.
It's been a busy month in our house (Aren't they all?) so I haven't had a chance to politely ask my husband to take photos of me wearing my September tops. Maybe I'll get to share them next month.

Sewing Class Review - The Technique of Underlining Garments

Time for more learning. I have done several of Sarah Veblen's Pattern Review classes and I believe my sewing has markedly improved. This class has been on my wish list for a while now, so I enrolled as soon as it became available. This is another class which has a kit. This time it includes 2 hand sewing needles and some lovely Japanese silk basting thread, and small scale patterns to make a little skirt from wool underlined with silk organza, and a blouse from silk charmeuse underlined with silk georgette.

The class is delivered by pdf lessons, 2 class chats with Sarah Veblen, and the class message board. There are no video lessons with this class. As usual, Sarah's notes are clear and well written, with plenty of information including pictures. There is a lot of information on fabrics - how to choose an appropriate underlining fabric for your fashion fabric with lots of combinations she herself regularly uses. She also discusses preparing the fabrics (pre-shrinking etc) and garment care.

If you've done any of her classes, you'll know that Sarah is very meticulous and methodical. She talks about the "process" of making a garment, and looking at it that way had helped me be less impatient and to spend the time to be accurate and get the best results I can, rather than cutting corners and omitting steps.

I made the effort to make both sample projects in this class. I haven't worked with these fabrics in real garments (I did make the wool bodice in the interfacings class) so I was learning how these fabrics behave as well as about underlining.

The wool skirt underlined with silk organza was the best one to begin with. These fabrics are much easier to control, both on their own and together. Her tip in the construction instructions to baste around the dart sections made sewing the darts a dream. They came together beautifully, and the silk thread just slips out when you're done (unless you, ahem, catch a little bit in the dart - which I did when sewing the bodice). I even installed a zipper. My zipper technique is rather dodgy, so I need to practise, and this was a good opportunity because the result really didn't matter.

I created a facing pattern from the skirt pattern and interfaced it. As you can see, I didn't bother to finish the edges on this garment. I didn't do it for the silks, either, and they frayed quite a bit - info to store for when I make a "real" garment.  The hem is done by hand with a catch stitch. I love my blind hemming foot, but I've got to admit, a catch stitch onto the underlining fabric only gives a very nice clean look on the fashion side.

I think Bella looks quite fetching in her new skirt!

The blouse was much tricker to make. These silks are much less obedient! Both silks easily moved out of shape, the georgette most of all. It was a challenge lining them up and pinning to baste, and even basting took longer. Because the fabrics are so light and fluid, my basting stitches were not as even.

Sewing the darts was a learning experience too - slippery fabric!  The trickiest part was setting in the underlined sleeves. I got a few puckers on the fashion side which weren't in the underlining fabric. Sarah suggested I do an extra basting line in the other side of the seam line next time to stabilize that area - like basting around the darts.
I decided to take the opportunity to practise sewing bias binding on the jewel neckline. My stitching in the ditch is rather wobbly. My edge foot tends to dig in to the fabric and get caught, so I just eyeball it with the regular foot. I'm getting better at this, unless, like this time, I get impatient to finish and speed up!

Bella is quite pleased with her silk blouse. 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Adding to the Empire

There's nothing like a deadline to get some action in the sewing cave! We recently had a family holiday on the Gold Coast and I had nothing to wear. After my success with my empire line pattern I knew I could  quickly run up another dress and know it would fit. I've had this fabric in my stash for about a year. It's a printed viscose/spandex knit from Knitwit called "Padua".  I'm still a little bit unsure of prints and which styles and scale of prints really suit me, but since I had my personal colour analysis earlier this year, I knew the colours in this fabric were spot on.

The only change I made to this version is the sleeve. I used the regular knit short sleeve this time. Cutting out took much longer than I expected. The printed stripes are not totally straight and even, so graining up took me ages. I thought the stripes would help! After I got over the fact that perfect stripe matching wasn't going to happen, the rest was a very pleasant afternoon in my sewing cave. I finished the neckline with a self fabric binding using a technique I learned in a recent Craftsy class - Sewing on the Edge. (I probably should review this class soon as I really loved this class.)

I love everything about this dress. The fabric feels lovely on. It's soft and fine, and will be very comfortable over the summer. I also love the print, which is a pleasant surprise! The fit is perfect - thank you Sure-Fit Designs!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Sewing Class Review - Understanding Interfacings

Does anyone else wonder if there's a better way? If there's a better interfacing to use instead of the one you have in your stash? Do you get overwhelmed at the fabric store and don't know what's what? I do.
I've been waiting for this class to reappear on Pattern Review. Sarah Veblen is a fantastic teacher and her courses are very well thought out and give heaps of technical information.
Sarah's courses are usually run with a kit. This interfacing kit was quite a revelation to me! It includes 22 large samples of interfacings from fusible to sew-in, light to heavy, drapey to quite stiff. There is also a length of crepe de chine and one of medium weight wool, with sufficient interfacings for two small scale bodices.
The course has a few videos, but is primarily delivered in PDF format. There's also the class discussion board, and 2 chat sessions. In the course notes each interfacing is described in detail. She gives information on manufacturers, fibre content and construction, available colours, laundering tips, suggested fabrics and uses.
I also learned about hand basting. I have never hand basted an interfacing before. Is that bad?? Should I admit this in public? The woven interfacings I have used have always been machine stitched on to the facing. I think I might be persuaded to hand baste in the future.

The real learning began with sewing the bodices. The interfacings included are a soft fusible knit and a stiff woven sew-in. Sarah suggests you use one on each side of each bodice front so you can see for yourself the difference they make.

I'd never sewn with silk crepe de chine before, and have been mainly sewing with knits for years, so this was an adventure in itself. This bodice taught me that a soft, light interfacing can be perfect to give just enough support and shape without being obvious. The side with the stiff woven was just wrong. It was pulling the bodice down because it was so heavy in comparison.

In yet another first, here's my wool bodice! What a difference. The stiff woven interfacing was just right for this garment. If I saw this product in the shop, I would have thought it was too stiff, but with this fabric, it worked really well. The bodice is supported at the front and back neck. The side with the softer fusible interfacing is drooping, so it is not getting enough support. I learned something!!

For me, this course was fabulous. I went to my two local chain stores and checked out their interfacing stocks with a more educated eye. My local Spotlight had a better and more varied selection than Lincraft. I also now know that there's much, much more available, so I don't have to settle for an almost right. I can look further afield, knowing what to search for.

With the kits, these classes are not cheap. However, the kits are such a valuable resource to keep and to refer to again and again. I thoroughly enjoyed this class and am looking forward to her Underlining class which begins tomorrow.

Monday, 30 September 2013

October Goals

This month I'm keeping it simple. Have I said that before?

1. Review the 3 tops and dress I made in September (sneak peek pics in previous post). I had this wild idea that my husband could take photos of me in my new things during our holiday. Kind of like a fashion shoot in a tropical resort. Me playing tennis in my sporty blue V-neck, me jauntily holding my wine glass so you can see how lovely my new dress is.... Like that was going to happen on a family holiday!!! So when I do get some photos of me wearing my tops and dress, I'll post them.

2. Make the 2 skirts I was going to make for Scary September using my Sure-Fit Designs dress kit. I downloaded Glenda's fashion leaflet on how to adapt the dress kit for a pencil skirt. It details how much ease to take out of the dress pattern to make a more fitted skirt. It will certainly take a lot more guesswork out of drafting the pattern.

3. Complete the tasks for my online classes. This month I have enrolled in two of Sarah Veblen's classes on Pattern Review.
I have been waiting for the Interfacing class to come back for a while. I'm hoping I'll have a much better idea about interfacings in a week or so and will make much better choices, both in-store, and in the sewing room. Sarah's classes usually have a project to do to consolidate the information. I have never done the project in the previous 5(?) classes of hers. This time I think I need to.
I'm also enrolled in her Underlining class. It also comes with a kit and projects. I'll be a busy little learner this month.
And of course, when I have completed each course, I will share my experience here!

OK. This seems do-able. What could possibly go wrong!!

September Wrap-Up

I thought I had set some very achievable goals this month. I have been sewing up a storm, but have managed to get side-tracked and have not met the September deadlines.

1. Mini-Wardrobe competition.
The goal was to sew 4 items (2 tops and 2 bottoms) and enter them in the Pattern Review competition. I did sew 4 items, but they were 3 tops and a dress. I took a lot of time making the Blue V-neck tee as I was trying out some new techniques, but I'm not sure this one's really "me", so after the peach top, I decided to make an empire top from my now TNT dress pattern. And while I had that pattern out, why not make another dress? I knew those would fit, and I had a holiday looming!

So I still haven't entered a sewing competition.

2. Scary September.
My personal challenge for BeaJay's scary sew-along was to enter my first sewing competition with garments that included very scary zippers. Well, as you can see, none of my work contains zippers and the garments I have made do not satisfy the competition rules.

BeaJay - please forgive me! If you allow September to merge into October, just slightly, I will get to those zips, I promise!

One of my other goals was to engage more in Blog Land, and through Scary September I have discovered more sewists who love to share their work and encourage others who do the same. It has been quite fascinating to see what others find challenging and how they have worked through their fears.

Thank you to all who have stopped by this blog, especially those who have been kind enough to comment or add me to your reading list. It's lovely to be a part of such a supportive community.