Sunday, October 9, 2016

Back Blogging The Perfect Purple Ponte Dress - Burda 6694

I have been busy this week with replacing my old car and cleaning my old one ready to sell.  So I have had limited time to sew this week.  Just as well I have a dress to blog about that I made earlier this year before winter set in.  I'm not sure why, but I never got around to blogging about it. It probably had something to do with lack of time.

The pattern is Burda 6694:

Before I made the dress I made a top (version A ) .  I was planning to insert the higher neck into this dress, but after making it up, realised it would be far too tight.  So I made the square neckline insert, only raised it as it was far too low on me.

The fabric I used was a thick ponte (polyester, viscose and spandex mix). It was not too stretchy and certainly was thick enough to skim the body nicely.   It was purchased from Spotlight - I was lucky, and found just enough in the remmant bin with a price of about $2.50 :).  Just right!

I made some alterations to the pattern - the sleeves were shortened 1 inch at the L/S line and another 1 inch came off the hem.  I shortened the front 1 inch along the L/S line.  I altered the back as I have a narrow and straight back - 1/2 inch at the upper back and through the sleeve, and 1/2 inch at the L/S line.  This removed most of the pooling that usually occurs in my middle back without this alteration.  I added about 4 inches in length and added a back vent.  As I have already mentioned, the insert was made deeper - two inches.  Any more than that, and the dress would not go over my head.

The neck is bound by a strip of knit bias.  I did not use the ponte, as it was far too thick.  I used a piece of leftover cotton jersey. I did widen the bias strip by 5/8 inch, as it was just not wide enough to accommodate the thick layer of ponte:

I added a feature button at the bottom of the insert.  And as for sewing, I just used a slight zig zag stitch - I find that my overlocker does not like to sew thick knits together, so I don't argue the case. I also like the look of the slight zig zag !

As my overlocker balks at very thick knits, I decided to bind the armhole seam with stretch lace:

One day I will pull out my old Babylock machine (about 25 years old) and see if that likes thicker knits.  I just keep forgetting...

Now for some quick views of this very simple but very nice looking dress:

While I am happy with this dress, I notice I still have the dress dipping at the back and rising at the front.  Have you noticed that the Duchess of Cambridge also has this problem?   I think it may be something to do with small backs and bottoms, so, if her dresses act in this fashion, I think it is okay if mine do!  Until I can work out the solution, that is.  I may need to take out more through the back, but I don't like to overdo things, or you end up with the opposite problem.

I'm thrilled I mad this dress because I did not have a practical and smart dress that was easy wear and easy care.  While I don't wear dresses much, I do feel much happier having one in the wardrobe for those occasions when I need it.

Until next week, everyone, wishing you a great week ahead,

Sarah Liz

Friday, September 30, 2016

Back Blogging Burda 6696 and Burda 6694.

I'm having an at home day today, you know, doing all those scintillating tasks like cleaning the bath and so on.  In between I do a seam or two of sewing.  And I thought I would also post knit two knit tops that were made some months ago, as wearable muslins. As I am very much at home today, the photos sort of reflect that.  Ordinary life sort of photos. Complete with my too short RTW pants that are worse than any me made pant I have ever made. Good for bath cleaning and that sort of thing though!

The first tip is Burda 6696:

I like the look of the pleated neck area in this top, but was not sure how the pleats would really work in practice.  Only one way to find out, and that was to try the pattern.  I found one of my Spotlight clearance knits - goodness knows what it is, it was labelled "cotton/polyester/nylon/spandex".  Take you pick.  I think it has some viscose in it, as it does wrinkle quite a bit, and it also has a softness about it.  There was a slight residue left when I burnt a piece.  It does have polyester in it as well, as it dries quickly.

I cut size 12 and added a small amount through the waist, as it had a very definite waist, and I don't.  I took out 1 inch (2 cm) in the bodice along  the L/S line, and took in the back and front neck area - my muslin from old t shirts indicated that the neck area was far too big for me.  I shortened the sleeves, and used some stretch interfacing along the neck facing area. The pattern did not suggest this, but I thought it was essential, or that neckline was going to grow and gape enormously.  I actually had to take in the CF seam through the chest area and seamed all seams at 3/8 inch (1cm approx) instead of the 5/8 inch suggested.  I also added buttons to the pleated area, because it somehow just looked wrong and pointless without them.

I found the pleating was quite bulky - one area had twelve layers!  I am not sure if it is my technique, but this is my finished pleating:

See how bulky this is - and the neck wants to sit away a little from my upper chest.  However, I don't think anyone but me will notice, so I am going to happily wear this top in any case.

Even though I do think the pleats look a little silly and not quite right.  But maybe I will get used to them:

That's it for Burda 6696.  I probably won't make it again, but I'm glad I tried the pattern out.

Now for Burda 6694.  I am actually wearing this top today, and the wrinkles reflect that - it's been tucked into my pants, with an old fleecy top worn on top (again, for cleaning baths and the like).

It's actually a favourite at home top because it is so comfortable. The fabric is soft and cosy, one of the softest knits I have ever worn next to my skin. I'm not sure what it is, again, another Spotlight special that was labelled assorted knits.  I think it's a cotton/polyester mix, judging by the softness, wrinkles and burn test residue.  It gets a slightly faded  look quickly, but that sort of adds to the appeal:

I love the high neck band - actually, the pattern is twice this width as they did not turn the band down, but just finished it.  I did not like the look of that at all, too high and didn't sit well, so I turned it down and made a band instead.  Just right - a bit of warmth without that double chin look you get with real polo/roll necks.

Oh, I haven't shown you the pattern so you know what I am talking about:

I made view A, but without the contrast lace insert.  I actually found the insert went in quite nicely:

And of course, in my usual fashion, I topstitched the edge to hold things in place and because I like the look.

I cut size 12 again (and yes, I made a muslin out of an old nightie... ).  I took out 1 inch from bodice and sleeve along the L/S line, and then a further .5 inch through the upper back area as the pooling in the middle of my back was more extreme than the first top I showed you.

I took a further .5 inch off the sleeve and bodice hems.

I found the neckband marginally too tight but it sort of goes on, and there is slight pooling off the fabric below the neckband.  Not a problem for a casual wearable muslin, but would be something I would address if making this for a really nice top.

Okay, some quick photos of my soft, squashy, worn and lived in top:

And this is a pattern I will use again.  It works, and I like it.  And, I can tell you, the dress works as well.

How do I know that?  Because I have made it :).  But that post will have to wait for another day...

And, I think that is quite enough for today, two blog posts in one is tiring to write, and probably tedious to read!

Wishing you all well,

Sarah Liz

Friday, September 23, 2016

Behind the Scenes at SLSS...

Hello everyone,

When I sew, I tend to go through quite a process from concept to finished garment.  Usually there are lots of hiccups and changes of direction during this time, but that's all part of sewing.

So, for the last two weeks, my sewing has considered of:

I will not be blogging about these muslins for some time, because, quite honestly I am a bit over these trouser muslins.   But, I think I have worked out exactly how to alter a pattern to get something close to the fit I want.   And to understanding the sort of styles that work for me.  When I feel more motivated to revisit these trouser muslins, I'll share my process with you.

After I did the trouser muslins, I was fed up, so I quickly made up a muslin for the Lottie blouse.  I had a lovely fabric find in an Op Shop, and the old fashioned texture on the fabric sort of went with the old fashioned look of the Lottie Blouse (by Simple Sew patterns).

And, this is the finished blouse, waiting for me to take photographs and to blog about it.  Those of you who follow me on Instagram, already know about this blouse of course.  I will take photos when the weather warms up - we are having a cool start to Spring, and I don't feel at all inclined to wear this from photographs yet.  Model material I am not :)

(and yes, that is stash you can see hiding behind the blouse...)

The next job I tackled was to make a muslin of the Lottie Skirt.  I don't really have a straight skirt pattern that works well for me, so I decided to try this one.  It is actually a pencil skirt.  I know pencil skirts do not suit me at all, so I changed the shape to a straight skirt.  I have made the muslin, which sort of works, and now I will test it on some cheap cotton I have lying around in the stash, already washed:

Then I decided to do a muslin for a jacket that I have wanted to make for a while now - before it goes out of fashion.  I had traced the pattern last year, so it was not too hard to quickly make up the muslin.

The muslin worked out nicely, but I am not sure what to make it in.  So I have placed it in my box of completed muslins that are okay to go, or just need some adjustment.  I put things away so that I am not overwhelmed by bits and pieces on the go all around me.  Ialso put a note on the pattern, so I know what stage I am at ( you can see that in the picture above).

I also made a muslin for a dress that I really like:

I had a piece of lovely blue knit in the stash, and had fantasies of a rather smart dress.  However, a few things concerned me:

1/ the dress has very short sleeves and is very fitted. It's a summer dress, and our summers are quite warm, so I was a little concerned that the fabric might be too warm.  On the other hand, I loved the idea of this dress !

2/  The pattern states that the dress suits an inverted triangle or an hour glass.  I am a rectangle.  The dress is also fitted.  I have not made a fitted Vogue pattern before so have no idea how it will work on me.

So, another muslin.  I straight away worked out that the entire shape was too curved for me, so altered the pattern at the darts and side to add more to the waist.  The front seemed very narrow, and the back quite wide.  Now, I have a narrow back, and a wider front. The muslin confirmed all this.  I haven't tried it on yet, but will later this evening:

That front barely meets.  And I have decided that I don't like bright blue for this dress now.  I think I will need to alter the front, add more ease to make the dress semi-fitted, and choose a new fabric.  I think this light weight stretch woven will be perfect for a more relaxed dress that still has elements of the original:

So, there is a bit more work to do with this pattern, and a check muslin of course...I'll put this project on the back burner for now.  I've put my pattern away, with, of course, a note to remind me of what I have done:

Then I rummaged through my catalogue of stash, because I was still wanting to make the New Look Jacket, and came up with a few more ideas:

From the top - marine blue cotton duck for jacket, then cotton wide leg pants, which will go with the jacket (as will lots of things in my wardrobe), then a black linen look fabric for a jacket to go with the last piece of fabric, shot cotton in blue and black - I have a Burda dress I love that will look perfect in this fabric.

Then I found this pattern which I think will work with the blue knit fabric that originally started this whole train of thought!

With the longer sleeves, this dress is perfect for cooler summer days.  And will suit this fabric nicely- the colour is dramatic enough without the need for buttons, pockets and other details that were on the original shirtdress idea.  

This is how I tend to conceive of my ideas.  Sometimes of course, it is a matter of just picking a pattern and fabric, but more often than not, quite a process has happened in the evolution of my ideas!  Mind you, I sometimes don't enjoy this process - seemingly never-endless muslin making can get really tedious sometimes.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of my sewing process... if you did, and want to read more about what I do behind the scenes with my sewing projects, please let me know.

Bye for now, 

Sarah Liz

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Bomber Jacket that Bombed out.

I decided to start my September sewing by making a garment that is a little out of my comfort zone.  Butterick 6181 is not the sort of jacket I would normally make, but I thought a fashion garment might lift my rather plain and simple style.  

I found a remnant of polyester shantung for $3.00 at Spotlight, and thought this might make an interesting version of the pattern. I had some buttons in my stash that would work.  I thought the soft grey would be flattering, and would go with all my clothes.

I only had a small amount, but as summer is coming, I though I could modify the jacket to a short sleeve version.  The muslin looked nice with the short sleeves, and I worked out I needed to shorten the bodice by 1.5 inches.  I was a little unsure about the look of the collar, but decided that my objection was more to do with it being something different that I was not used to, more than actual dislike.

Then I started to sew the jacket.  As this was going to be a jacket, a nice finish inside was a must for me.  Jackets get taken off, and I like to see nice seams.

Seams were simple for sides and the raglan sleeves.  As the fabric frayed a lot, I used french seams for the side seams. The seams in the sleeves were finished with a bias binding.

Then I made the collar up.  I decided to line the collar with a poly/cotton fabric.  The shantung was quite stiff and thick, and I thought two layers would be too thick.  I also wanted something softer against my neck.   And the poly cotton toned with the grey bias tape I was using.

The collar was extremely curved.  The pattern told you to trim the collar seam allowances, but did not mention that you also would need to notch the seam allowance so it would sit properly.  Of course, I did that, and came out with a nice curved collar.  I also edge-stitched the collar, although there were no instructions for edge or under-stitching to hold the seam in place.

Then I attached the collar - the longer curved edge went to the neck of the garment, so I clipped the neck edge at frequent intervals so that the curve would fit.  Then I read what to do next.  Trim the collar seam allowances and finish:

And that is it - the finished edge.  Not a pretty sight.  I had a vague feeling that there was something not quite right, I sensed that this was more the sort of finish for a knit fabric. The seam was also supposed to be pressed down, but it really wanted to sit up. I'll show you in a minute.

So I bound the neck edge, because I wanted the inside to look good, and lets face it, the finish shown above does not look good.

Now, isn't that much nicer.  But you can see how the seam wants to sit up and roll in.

Now, the pattern's solution to this, as one of the last steps, is to top stitch the seam down. Again I got the vague feeling the construction method was more suited to a knit.

The next day I checked the 2 reviews on Pattern Review. One had no problem making the jacket, but the second also had the sense that the construction methods for this jacket were "messy".

Then I checked McCall's blog - this pattern is being used in a sew a long this month.  The first post discussed fabrics suitable for the collar.  Only knit fabrics were suggested.  The pattern envelope states quite clearly that this jacket or shirt is for wovens.  But I was already sensing that the construction was written for knit fabrics.

Then I started the band. Again, the band was sewn on and finished with a trimmed seam.   Again, a finish more appropriated for knits, not a nice finish for a blouse or jacket.

 Now, I wanted a band that was more like a casing - nice and finished on the inside.  This was no easy task, and I figured in the end that I really needed to have a cut on casing, and not a separate band.

After lots of undoing and rethinking the square, I sort of got a band worked out that I could finish inside.

But by then I was totally not in love with this jacket.  You see, I had seen a pastel colour bomber jacket on someone - a pale apricot polyester. And I hated it.  I did not like the look at all, and did not want to look like this lady.

So, I am going to call it quits.  But on the plus side:

*  I have well and truly gotten over my dislike of sewing bias binding - just look how nice my sewing is, in the photo above, says me modestly.

*  I problem solved how to finish the garment nicely.  And could have achieved a really nicely finished band as well, if I chose to continue.

*  I have re-clarified my ideas about my style.  I was in two minds about a Bomber jacket, because it is not really what I tend to go for.  But because I don't want to limit myself too much at the moment while I am redefining my style, it was a good idea to try something new.  It didn't cost much as I purchased the fabric for $3-00, the pattern for $5-00, the thread and the bias, probably another $10.00 total.  To go to a shopping centre to try styles on and come home empty handed would have cost no less, after fuel, parking, coffee and food.  And I would have come home empty handed.  With this project, even though it was not finished, I honed my sewing skills a little further, and am rather pleased with my critical analysis of the construction methods.  I really am being very modest today!!!

This morning I disposed of the garment and the pattern went to the Op Shop.

So, Good Bye Butterick 6181.

Now I am off to go through my patterns and see what I will attempt next.  I'm feeling I need to recharge my batteries, so maybe trousers.  I sort of know what to expect with them.

All for now, good luck with all your sewing attempts,

Sarah Liz

P.S.  I have since seen other sewer's versions of Bomber jackets - and I really don't like them.  Isn't it funny how we sometimes choose a style we don't like, just because it is the trend.  

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Trousers, Tencel and Troubles - McCall's 6568 again.

Well, I might be smiling in this picture, but I think it is because I am relieved that I have finished these trousers.

Of course, with trousers, there is always a back story.  I planned to make a more tailored pant out of a piece of Tencel that I had in the stash.  The Tencel had been prewashed, but I think my technique of hot water dipping did not agree with it, and there were dye runs here and there.  Plus a flaw one end of the fabric that I found after I washed the fabric, so I could not return it.  Careful cutting eliminated most of the problem areas, and the style of pant also works with an imperfect sort of dye - a little reminiscent of how denim also fades.

I picked a more tailored trouser pattern that suggested Tencel as a fabric.  I  did a muslin and the trouser looked awful on me.  Then I did a muslin of another pant, and that looked awful too.  By now, I was thoroughly fed up.  I wanted the Tencel out of the stash, so I thumbed through my patterns and decided to make another version of McCalls 6568.

I had previously made this up before, with no real problems.  So I thought it would be a straightforward job to make them again.  I omit the drawstring and the buttonholes from the pockets, as I didn't want buttoning pockets.  The pants are extraordinarily long in the leg, and I removed about 3 inches.

Only I hadn't sewn with Tencel before.  Like other cellulose based fabrics, it was slippery.  This made features such as the patch pockets a little tricky to press and topstitch. They took ages. But they sort of turned out all right.  For some reason, the back pockets wanted to droop - not the front ones, which are actually bigger. So I just secured them with a button. Which looks okay - and the front pockets are still unbuttoned, which means I can easily use them. 

 I had the same problem with trying to make the waistband casing - try as I might, it would not co-operate, and came out far too wide for the patterns suggested 1 inch (2 cm) elastic.  So I threaded a wider elastic through (that's why you stash all sorts of widths of elastic).  As it so happens, because of the extra drape of this fabric and I suspect it is a slightly looser weave than the cotton pants I had previously made, this was a good thing because the crotch was a little lower.  A wider band sort of pulled everything back in place. Also, it looks better - if an elastic waist pant can ever be said to look good uncovered.  And as Tencel is a bit slippery, the wider elastic will hold the pants up better. 

Because the fabric frays a lot, I turned the casing under to finish. And added a bit of ribbon so I can quickly tell front from back when dressing.

Even though I shortened the leg length, I found that because the fabric was very drape-ey, I needed to stitch a deeper hem. Which I think suits this fabric. 

My pictures are as usual up to my standard poor practice :)  ...

Now, as you know, I am wanting to change my style.  These pants are not at all my new style, but seem to be remarkably like my old Pollyanna Practical style. Once again, they are another pair of house pants, not the smart, casual look that I want to move too.  And floppy fabrics like this do not suit me at all.  I think the denim look also looks dated and old lady.

Crisper fabrics work for me - here is my first version of this pant:

Having said that, I did want to get the Tencel out of the stash.  And I had not sewn with it before and had no idea how it handled or what it would do. I have a bit more in the stash, and will have to be careful what I make with it.

So, overall, I have learnt to sew Tencel and am familiar now with it's feel and handle.  I have worked out that this sort of casual style is not me.  And I have got the flawed fabric out of my stash.

And I am well up with my goal of sewing for 30 minutes a day for the month of September.

Before I go, I just want to thank you for your comments on my last blog post. As you know, I usually reply to everyone, but this week I worked all week catching up with accounts that did not get done when the roof was replaced.  Plus my husband is a little unwell after his mishap.  And as far as my posts on style are concerned, for those of you who are interested, they will come, but it may take me a few weeks.  I have lots on my plate still in real life - it certainly has been one of those years.  I have  a fence repair to sort out long distance now -my Adelaide cottage had an old fence that did not make it through the last storm.  Unfortunately, the cottage has been declared heritage, so I have to deal with council red tape and nonsense - real time wasting stuff.  And I really must sort out my new car before my 22 year old one unceremoniously decides for me.

I'd rather spend all day sewing...

All for now, 

Sarah Liz