Sunday, December 14, 2014

Is it a New Duster Coat?

 Is this a New Duster Coat?

No, it's a Christmas gift for DH - a Nightshirt made my me :).  I noticed that DH's nightshirts were looking a little old and tired.  I was also trying to find a present for him.  Now, he is at the age and stage (as am I) where he does not need anything more - we really need to start getting rid of stuff. So I thought that making him a new nightshirt would solve two problems - no more unneeded junk coming into the house, and a useful present to boot.

Luckily DH is doing the medical cover this weekend - he doesnt think he is so lucky, but I am, because I could get busy sewing all weekend to finish the Nightshirt Job:).

The fabric used was one of the Spots and Stripes range of cotton poplin that Spotlight sells. I used Simplicity pattern 2317:

 I found one of DH's old nightshirts and measured that and decided to use XL as my size.  It's always better to have larger rather than smaller, tighter nightshirts - more comfortable.  I added an inch in length..  The pattern was different from the old nightshirt in that it had a lapel.

The pocket on the pattern was smaller than that on the old nightshirt, so I made the seams smaller and that rectified that problem :).

Otherwise, I made the pattern up as instructed, except I omitted interfacing the collars, cuffs and facings.  This is because the old RTW nightshirt did not have any.   I did not think the added layer was needed - in a nightshirt, softness is needed.  The only problem DH has had with the RTW nightshirt is buttons pulling through the un-interfaced fabric, or a buttonhole tearing through.  I patch these with some ingenuity.

So, for this nightshirt I did place interfacing into the button and buttonhole areas.  That should solve the problem of tearing and pulling through.

I wasn't sure where to start the buttons or if the pocket placement would be okay:

Old nightshirt:

 New nightshirt:

I think that the placement of top button and pocket should meet with approval - I also think the lapel should meet with approval as well :).

The sleeves on the old nightshirt are narrower at the cuff than the new nightshirt; however, some of DH's nightshirts have this width of sleeve.

The only part that was tricky was the collar.  I was blithely sewing along when I realised I had not made a collar that did not have a back facing before. I was not entirely happy with the method that the pattern used, but made the most of it - lots of poking and prodding of bits that did not want to go in, and a hefty sewing down solved the situation:

Next time (although while making this I swore there would not be a next time) I will put the shoulder seam to the back and then do the collar, or even finish the facing below the shoulder seam like the RTW one:

I also seamed the front/front facing seam in a 3/8 inch seam so I did not have to trim it back.  The extra width on the lapel does not seem to obvious, and it was a lot less work.

Now, for the views:

Okay, not a flattering fit on me!!

Sleeves a bit long on me :)

A bit large for me, but I think this will be just right for DH .

The lapel and collar:

Which look fine without interfacing - and poplin is a very tight, close, firm fabric as well.

The pocket:

And yes, the stripes do match up!

And a cuff - and the stripes are even at the seam and at the turn.  Not sure how I managed that for all cuffs, but I did.

Before I did the buttonholes and sewed on the buttons I applied interfacing to those areas:

(I also used bigger buttons than the pattern and respaced the buttonholes to match the RTW nightshirt).

Then did the buttonholes and the buttons:


I made TWO!!  That was quite a sewing effort for this weekend.

(I forgot to crop the top of this picture - now you can see why I use a screen - bookcases are not the best backdrop for photos - and the picture is downright distracting as well - its a place we went to in New Zealand - DH is very sentimental and likes holiday souvenirs.  He's the romantic in our household, and I am the more practical romantic, if you know what I mean...).

 I think DH should like these nightshirts - if not, I suppose I could always revert to using them as big duster coats:)

I hope you all have a happy, healthy week, wherever you are.

Sarah Liz.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A few days away...

I go to Adelaide once a year for business and personal reasons.  DH sometimes comes, but sometimes doesn't, depending on his responsibilities, obligations and demands.  This year he could.  I suggested we call into Melbourne for a day or so, on the way, so I could buy some stash and look at the Gaultier exhibition.

This trip was spontaneously planned, so apologies to anyone in Melbourne - I did not have time to let anyone know, and not much time there in any case to meet you.  Next time - Melbourne is only a short flight away from Newcastle :).  It takes longer to get into Melbourne from the Tullamarine Airport than it does to fly there :).

Stash was purchased from three discount shops on Sydney Road, Brunswick.  These were Anne's Discount Fabrics @ 363 Sydney Road, Brunswick Fabrics @ 383 Sydney Road, and  Unique Fabrics @ 396 Sydney Road.

I purchased viscose  knits in colours that suited me :

Thick plain cotton  knits (some with lycra)  for winter:

And some three patterned  knits, also in cotton (some with lycra):

Some lovely linen:

And a length of lightweight dress/blouse fabric in colours that suit me:

Plus a small amount of wool, I bought 1.2 thinking it would be good for the popular Rachel Comey skirt (V1247).

We also visited the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition that is currently showing at the National Gallery of Victoria.
This was an immersive exhibition with the dummies appearing to come to life and talk.  DH worked out how - there is a projector projecting the images onto the mannequins, presumably with sound track.

Phone photos seemed to be allowed.  Gaultier "Himself" welcomed you to the show - you can't see it here on a moment in time photo, but the eyes and mouths of these mannequins appeared to open and close.  Quite a few of the exhibits were staged this way.
 Gaultier loved his grandmere very much, and was quite intrigued by her clothes and underwear, and that started a long fascination with corsetry.   This is one of them - finished with bits of raffia and wheat:

 Gaultier has plundered so many ideas and made them his - in this picture you can see the "Can Can dress" - the ruffled petticoat is on the outside, with the inside showing multiple images of kicking legs.  Behind this you can see one of his men's suits - just look at the cut and hang - perfect.  His workshop certainly knows what it is doing.
Well, after this immersive experience, it was time to fly off to quiet, quaint Adelaide... 
The piece de resistance awaited  in little old Adelaide, the small  city in the provinces, frequently scorned but much loved by all of us who have lived there.  It's such a nice place to live in - small, easy to get around, friendly.
The Art Gallery of South Australia is currently collaborating with the Musee les Arts decoratifs and is hosting an exhibition called "Fashion Icons".  Ninety outfits are currently on exhibition - according to a friendly gallery guide, two had their own passports, but he had no idea how or why!  Adelaide's exhibition was a lot more conventional than the interactive Gaultier exhibition, but then this was a story of high couture and it's evolution into forms we currently know - how couture has merged and morphed with RTW.  Gaultier of course was a lot more streetwise and entered the scene during this trajectory, and plunders from the street and the mass,  from old techniques and historical clothing including corsets, and utilising new materials.  The Fashion Icons exhibition traces the main ideas that would also have influenced Gaultier, through the 50's to today. 
For those of you interested in the details of this exhibition, here is a pdf  catalogue I found on the internet:  .

There is also a dedicated site hosted by the AGSA about the exhibition that can be found here:
Unfortunately, I could not take any photos as this was not allowed.  There are some on the internet, so just to give you a flavour:
 And a Christian Lacroix dress I have always wanted to see:

 And now I have!

Before I go, I just want to share with you this thought.  Most of us who sew at home tend to be overly critical of ourselves, and even think of ourselves as lesser beings in the fashion hierarchy.  Not so - the fashion world in Paris lists the four levels as Haute Couture, Couture, Paper patterns and Dressmaking (US!!!!) and Pret a Porter (Ready to wear).

Do have a lovely weekend everyone, wherever you are.

Sarah Liz.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Another Nice Little Knit Tee Top.

This week I made Kwik Sew 3036.  The plan was to make View B, but that plan got modified as the sewing proceeded.
 Kwik Sew  3036
 I used a piece of leftover knit from last week's project.  I purchased it from Spotlight last year for $5.00 per metre - it was one of their unidentified job lots.  Most pieces were polyester and nylon, but this was a good quality piece - I'd say it is a viscose, as it drapes and handles nicely and is lovely to wear.

I broke from my normal habit and didn't make a muslin to check the fit.  I did lay the pattern out against one that does fit, so I knew that the top was somewhere around right.  And as this was a quick simple project, as far as I was concerned, I just wanted to get on with it :).

I cut size Small, and added 1 inch (2 cms) to the sleeve length as I don't like sleeves that are very short.

When I had sewn the shoulder seams and tried the top on,  I could see that the neck was going to be far too wide for me.  The pattern suggests turning the neck edge in and stitching, which would have made the neckline even larger.  A small neckband was not going to solve the problem.   

I did have about six inches (15 cms) of fabric leftover.  You will see from the pattern photo that view C has a cowl neckband.  I decided to use the neck edge of the cowl to work out what size to cut my strip, and then used to full width of my leftover and made a roll collar.  This fills in the neck hole nicely and allows me to wear this top instead of putting it into the wadder pile.

It's a little heavy for the top, but I don't mind -it's a salvaged project, so I'm pleased :).
Otherwise this is a straightforward sew and serge/overlock project.

Now for the views:


There is some pooling in the back from my narrow back, but then I was only trialling the pattern so I am unconcerned.  As I have to take out for a narrow back, this is quite tricky and not an easy alteration.  I only do this alteration for garments that I really want to fit well.

A close up of the roll neckband:

The strange wrinkles and sideways tilt of the top are due to the fact that I am actually kneeling on the floor for this picture, with the camera on a stool.  It's the only way I can do a close up at the moment - my tripod is not tall enough for a standing shot.  So the pose  distorts my upper body and the sit of clothing.  Still, the picture does give you and idea of how the roll band/collar filled in the neckline that was far too large :).

By the way, those of you that left comments last week about using Kwik Sew and New Look for knit garments - I quite agree, Kwik Sew always seem to nail  a knit garment.   I haven't used New Look patterns enough to be able to consider what I think of them.

That's it for this week. Take care everyone, wherever you are...

Sarah Liz :)

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