Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Nice Little Knit Tee Top

Last week I had an appointment and didn't have a little top to wear that was really suitable - lots of shirts and t-shirts in t-shirt casual sort of fabric, but nothing t-shirty, stretch top sort of garment in a slightly nicer knit in a nice colour.  So this week I decided to make one.

I raided my stash and found another piece of the purple unidentified nice soft knit I found on sale at Spotlight last year - one of their job lots.  I'm pretty sure this is mostly viscose - it has a nice feel and handle and is soft and lovely to wear.

I'm still new to sewing knits and am not really sure if I like sewing knits yet.  I suspect not, I really like to sew structured garments.  Knit garments are useful though, so I am going to persevere with learning how to handle this type of sewing.  I think basically you have to forget everything you know about sewing with wovens and adopt a totally different mindset for knit fabrics.  You sort of have to flow with them, I think.

Anyway, I used my modified New Look 6216 top - if you are interested in the pattern and the modifications over time, you can find them here.

This version is just a short sleeve shell.  I cut a self fabric band, serged all seams and used a zig- zag stitch for the hems of the sleeves and bodice.

The views of the front:

The side - I always find New Look very roomy around the hips and tummy - so this top is a little big around that part, but this doesn't bother me - it is supposed to be a relaxed fit top, and you do see plenty around at the moment with this loose shaping.

And the back:

Although it took time to make the alterations for this pattern, I am glad I did, because this is a useful basis for making more tops - I might take some of the fullness out in due course.  Depending on the fabric I choose to use.

Next week I plan to use the remains of this length of fabric and make a second top - there does seem to be a need in my wardrobe.  It doesn't bother me if they are the same colour - I like it and it suits me, so why not have lots of tops in it?

I want to try Kwik Sew 3036, another dolman sleeve top.

Kwik Sew  3036

Until then, happy sewing everyone,

Sarah Liz :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A little Summer Skirt - Simplicity 2258

This week I kept it simple and made the last of the bottoms for my very casual house wardrobe.  I will need to make a smarter casual wardrobe in due course, but the essentials for the last two years have been to make the clothes for house wear - you know, the sort of clothes for the domestic everyday, not the casual going out with family and friends type of casual clothing.

The last edition is a little cotton chambray skirt with pockets and elastic waist.  I used Simplicity 2258:

 I have tried for months to buy this pattern in size 6-8-10-12, but my local shop just has not stocked it for as long as I have looked (months).   Many people in this town are quite large boned and I suspect the local Spotlight  stocks mostly the larger sizes.  In the end I purchased size 14 - 22.  As this is just a straight skirt with elastic, I knew that I could just move the pieces at the CB and CF  and take out the extra width there. The pockets did not need to be altered.  I cut my standard just below the knee length - I have discolouration on my knees and prefer to keep that hidden.  I also omitted the drawstring tie - it just adds bulk at the front, and usually I wear a top over my skirt, not under it.  I only do this to show you what the garment is like.

The skirt has side slits, but I decided to put a split at the back as I wanted the side seams to have a flat fell finished look.  As the skirt had side slits, the back and front were cut on the CB and CF fold respectively.  I only cut the front out on the fold, with the back I added a seam so I could place the  back split at the bottom of it.

The pattern had the waistband in two pieces, with joins at the side seams.  I cut the waistband in one piece.

Just in case you are wondering, the fabric came from Spotlight years ago - I stash when they have anything remotely good.  I still have a few metres of this put away - it's a nice weight for summer clothes.  It is not easy to get these very nice fabrics nowadays in Australia.

Now the front, side and back views:

I'll quickly show you some of the inside of this garment:

The pocket (yes, I know this is still the outside of the garment):

Flipping the skirt over, you can see the pocket was cut in one piece and folded to the side - I really like this method - it eliminates the extra (and curved) seam of the traditional pocket bag:

Isn't that a neat way of making a pocket?

And with the back flap facing for the split at the back of the skirt, I always alter pattern pieces to a curved shape, instead of the usual sharp angled shapes.  I do this as I usually overlock (serge) the edges and overlockers prefer curves to sharp corners.  I know you can cut into corners, but this method also works - and is great if you can't cut into corners.  Have a look inside RTW skirts and you will often see curved edges instead of angular ones for seams that are going to be overlocked (serged).

For the false flat fell seam - by which I mean a seam finish that looks like a flat fell seam without the turning in of the seam, which adds bulk - especially around pockets where there is also the pocket stay tape to consider- I use this method.

 I trim the back seam allowance to about 1/4 inch (about 2/3 cm). 

Then I press the seam, first this way:

And then this way:

So you get this:

Then I overlock (serge)  the wider edge:

Next I top stitch the seam - I am going to do this outside so that a slight channel effect occurs:

(Yes, I do move my finger out of the way!! and normally I don't hold a seam like this, but I had stopped to take the photo, and the seam was wanting to roll back :).  My foot was off the pedal).

And voila:  The result:

Simplicity 2258 is a nice little pattern.  The only problem potentially is the curve on the pockets - it feels a little deep - I did tension it, but I think in future I will redraw this curve and make is a little straighter.

That's it for Simplicity 2258.  This is a pattern that will certainly use again :).


I received an email today from the university.  I have passed my two subjects at Credit level.  I am more relieved than anything else.  I have not studied for a eighteen months and was a little out of touch, plus all the changes over the last 18 months have had their effect as well - so I am happy with this mark, all things considered- I can sit higher on the mark scale , but I did have some study  adjustments to make.  A break from study, a  new institution and  new subjects - one that I really did not want to do (hideously boring) and one totally new to me (psychometric testing) but not to anyone from that institution.   Not all institutions seem to do Psychometric Testing, but this one does, so I had not done the preliminaries - this always sets you back. The other subject was just plain boring but essential -assessing research,  the rules (ethics)  of the game, how we are supposed to behave etc.   Dry as a bone, but behind me now.  Phew, as I say, relief.  Over now until next year.  Just have all the practice work to get in order now :)

A nice stir fry tonight to celebrate I think.  I am not known to be much of a party animal :)

Do have a good week everyone, wherever you are,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Two new striped skirts

As I had a run of mistakes last week, I think as much as anything because I was tired, I decided to keep it simple this week and have a success :).

I was also determined not to let two lengths of material leftover from an earlier project be added to the stash.  some fabrics are of the moment and these pieces are in that category.  I used my TNT elastic waist pattern, Kwik Sew 3765, as I knew I would get a quick, simple, successful sewing exercise completed.

So, a few hours and then two smart skirts for casual wear.  The first is in a teal stripe:

And the second is in a blue stripe:

Well, there is not much to say on this blog post - a quick simple sew, and two new skirts that will work for errands or dressed up with a jacket.

Over the last two years I have been working on a wardrobe of casual basics as I really didn't have much in the way of casual clothes.  I had shabby remains of working clothes, but really, they don't make you feel good when you wear them.  My new casual wardrobe is designed for a more relaxed lifestyle that is the norm in the regional town were I live, but is  smart enough for my classic tendencies.

I have one more gap in my casual skirt wardrobe, and that is a little chambray skirt.  Next week I plan to make Simplicity 2258, with a slight variation of back split instead of side splits.  I'll be making a knee length skirt.

Don't the pockets look great?

I had a gorgeous lucky find this week - a beautiful wool flannel in a local Op Shop (thrift store).  It is a lovely pink /grey colouring - it is more pink, and is just the right shade to suit me.  I checked it and it had no moth holes and didn't even smell musty, so it came home with me:

I was quite thrilled to find this - isn't it a lovely  feeling when you unexpectedly happen upon a great fabric at a really nice price in an unexpected place? 

I hope I can spread the luck around and wish you all the best with your sewing and fabric finds :)

Sarah Liz

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Dress that Never Was and Other Sewing Adventures

Sometimes you have one of those sewing weeks where all you attempt to make are want to be wadders.

I know there are some sewers out there in the blogosphere that always turn out perfect garments every time.


I am not one of those sewers.

I have my up and down sewing weeks.

I suspect I am in good company :).

And I run an honest blog, where I share my successes and failures - because we all feel better knowing we are not the only ones that have less than optimal sewing weeks.


I guess I should have known better than to even attempt sewing this week as I  had a lot of chores to do, and fragmented sewing time is not always a recipe for success.

I need a couple of hours each week to totally concentrate on planning, pattern modification and cutting.

Then I can work in a fragmented fashion.

Anyway, this is the story so far this week:

Unfortunately I lost this time this week due to the unfortunate incident occasioned by DH, who accidentally poked me in the eye.  It was painful and didn't settle, so I realised after an hour or so that he had actually scratched the eye and I had an abrasion.

It was red and painful.  I knew what the problem was, and knew what to look out for, so decided not to have it looked at on a Sunday.  The main risk was infection and scarring, but I thought the scratch was in a safe area from how it felt.  

On Monday, it was more settled, but still not good with use, so that was Monday's sewing time gone.  I also couldn't go to work as I was photo-phobic and couldn't use the computer.  Or read more than two columns in the paper without problem.  Or sew. Frustration!

So I sorted out my patterns, which have been scattered in baskets through the house and put them all in a filing cabinet - previously I had only filled one drawer, but now there are two filled and only two neat baskets of patterns in my sewing space:

By Tuesday my eye was feeling much better (thank goodness) and I decided to make a muslin for a dress I thought I liked, Vogue 1400.  Then DH cheered up enormously, because he had felt rather bad.

Vogue Patterns Misses' Dress 1400

This was a weird dress with sleeves detached from the shoulder.  Now, I am not a lover of exposed shoulders on me.  It can look lovely on some people, but it is not a look that I like for me.

It was also shaped like a big round bag - it actually has a curve going out from bust to hips.  I have a waist that goes in.

So I decided to alter the pattern a bit, and took the sleeves up to the shoulder, and took in the waist.

I made a calico.  It still looked like a bag.  I belted the bag.  It looked like a belted bag.

Very unflattering.  I know I have made two loose house dresses this year, but they at least were sort of flattering for what they were.

This wasn't.

I also think the style is just not me.

So, I binned the project.

While I was at it, I also binned the idea of making  Rebecca Taylor's colour blocked dress, Vogue 1316:

 I had made a calico a few months ago, and when I reviewed it this week, decided that the problem was there was far too much busyness in the seaming and in the colour blocking to look good on my figure.  It is also far too dramatic a style for my taste.  I think I just had sewing blog fever when I bought this pattern (luckily for $5.00, not $28.00 - and the same for V1400).

So, both of these have gone in the bin, and I feel a surge of relief that I don't have to bother with these dresses again. 

That tells me something.

That tells me to choose styles I like and that will be flattering on me.

So, I decided to make Burda 7201, a dress I have long liked, and it got my Mojo excited:

I had a piece of fabric in the stash, and it was just enough for this dress.  Just enough, not a millimetre to spare.

I pre-washed the fabric only to find this flaw when I ironed it:

Not only that, but I found little discoloured marks along one edge, as if bleach had got in the water.  I berated myself over this, as I had used bleach to clean the sink, but this was in a bowl that had no bleach near it.  Nevertheless, I assumed I had been careless.

So, I couldn't make the dress after all.  So I decided to be positive, and make the top instead.

That evening, while checking that I could perhaps get the top out with all the flaws to avoid, I turned the fabric over to find this:

It wasn't me at all - the dye problem is quite obvious on the back and actually runs in a line that the camera isn't quite showing - you can also see all sorts of other areas.

By now I was getting extremely frustrated.  I pinned all the flawed areas that I could find, and then cut out the top without making my usual muslin to check fit and so on.

Only to find when I started sewing it today that I had forgotten to cut the back of the garment.

Now this had turned into the Top that Never Was.  The Mojo was not pleased.

Of course, if I had been more patient, I would have made a muslin and this would never have happened.

You live and learn. Only to live and learn again when you skip a step, or sew when tired and frustrated.

So, all into the rubbish bin.


Moving right along (as I do) I then decided to tidy up a little more and rethink my position.  I don't feel like starting anything today because it will probably be jinxed.

The new position (rethought, and probably said many times before ) is that I will always muslin first - just to catch errors with fit, or even missing pattern pieces!

 As a final note to this sad and sorry saga, I decided to toss all my old muslins that never eventuated into garments as they did not fit, needed work, I lost interest, learnt what I needed to learn,  or whatever.

It's a good feeling tossing out things are redundant.  I now have one calico left, which is the only one I want to play with.

Doesn't that look better?

  I am now  ready for a brand new sewing week, where, as we all know in sewing land, there is happiness ever after, perfection reigns, and there is no such thing as a wadder.

Have a great week everyone, wherever you are :)

Sarah Liz


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What's in the Pot?

A few weeks ago I dyed a dress that was faded with RIT dye.  RIT claimed that the dye was permanent, and it might be, but it certainly wasn't colourfast.  I looked everywhere on the packet and on RIT's website but could not find any information to say that a fixative was needed.  Mary from Biblioblog kindly left me a comment to say I must use a fixative.

The next day I was on the internet finding out all about fixatives.  Many products cannot be imported into Australia, but this product was available for delivery to Australia via fishpond.

The product is called Retayne and it is for use with cotton fabrics only. It prevents colour bleed in dyed fabrics, whether from your own dying or from commercially purchased cottons.  It seems that it is used by quilters for treating patchwork cottons as well.

You use 1 teaspoon per yard of fabric, hot water, and soak for 20 minutes.   So I fixed my dress and another garment as well.  The second garment bled on being immersed but soon stopped.

You are advised to wash treated garments in cool/cold water after fixing, so one assumes there is still a tiny bit of colour run potential left.  I understand that after treating with this product, the treated fabric will be more light sensitive, so it is best to then dry them out of the sun and light.

I hope this helps anyone else that wants to dye fabrics, or has fabrics that bleed, or wants to do patchwork.

Thanks Mary for your helpful comment :)

Sarah Liz.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Starry Night Top.

I have recently made a top from a dress pattern in an off white linen and cheesecloth - you can see it here.

 It was quick and simple to make, so I decided to make number 2 this week, which you can see above.

The pattern I used was Vogue 1390, a Sandra Betzina pattern.  I've always thought of Sandra Betzina's styles as a little mature, but really they are quite nice.  Or am I getting a little mature?  Or is it a mixture of old and nice?

That pattern appealed because I had a half metre of 112 craft fabric.  What on earth was I thinking, given this would nowhere near make a top, even for a small person.


Well, actually, I was thinking Prada, when she was adding this sort of print to denim jackets,  but I never got around to making that, and then I went off the idea.   Next,  I saw a little shell top in an  Armani Spring/Summer 2013 collection (I am not sure which of his two collections it was in)  that was made in a fabric with a pattern similar to this -only probably silk, not a very wearable everyday cotton type of fabric.  But not even I was going to eek out this small amount of fabric into a shell top, so when I saw this pattern, I knew exactly how to use it.
I had some lovely navy poplin in my stash  and used a very small amount - it's such a gorgeous and well behaved poplin that it has been earmarked for something special, but I don't now what yet.  I lined the bodice, and made the armhole binding from a piece of lawn (also in the stash).

All fabrics were originally from Spotlight.

This is a quick and simple make - especially as the pattern is loose fitting, so no time consuming fitting.

I cut size B, which is about 12 or 34 inch bust.  There is a lot of ease, which I like in summer tops.

Isn't it a super little top - even if I do say so myself :)

The side view shows the straight panels - I did not think these would work, but they do :)

You can certainly see the side panels here, and the overall shape, which is loose. But that is fine for casual summer wear.

And the back view:

I eked out the poplin by adding a seam in the centre back of the yoke instead of cutting it on the fold: 

And although Betzina did not specify top-stitching, I like it, and I think for casual clothes it is a good finish - it looks a little sportier.  Betzina suggested hand stitching the bias armhole facing in place, but I machine stitched it carefully down-  it holds the binding down firmly onto the lining and bodice pieces, instead of being stitched only onto the lining.  Nothing will move or go astray now:

The only other alteration I made was to raise the neckline a tiny bit - I did this by decreasing the seam allowance.  Of course, I tested the size of the hole before finishing the bodice- it's most important with a pull over the head garment like this to make sure it actually does go over the head.  I find that if the hole is too large, garments move around too much and show bra straps. I think this neckline is probably okay if cut to the size of the pattern, but I have made sure :).

For those of you looking forward to seeing the dress I am going to make, that will happen by Christmas, but a few other garments are in the queue first :).

That's it for now, do have a lovely weekend everyone, stay happy and healthy.

Sarah Liz