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

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Sewing, Style and Spring Summer Ideas

Hello everyone,

A new season always seems to get the sewing ideas flowing again.  And I also want to change my style and sew garments that are a little better than the casual wear around the house basics I have been sewing.  Mind you, I am glad I have, because at least I have this part of my wardrobe under control - and it is never the most inspirational sewing, is it?

So, my ideas so far are to

1.  Keep sewing up new patterns

2. Tackle the stash - and sew up the stash that needs to go.

3.  Work out a new sense of style for my next style decade (I turned 60 last month, unbelievable!).

4.  Work out a new life direction that will work with the new life challenges the next decade will
     inevitably bring. There are a few arriving on the plate at the moment!

5.  And of course, a new sense of style should go with this new life direction (whatever it is!).

Well, that's flexible enough for me to decide things as I go along.

I may even sew more patterned fabric - as you know, I have concentrated on sewing very boring black and navy basics.   But look what I have been busy stashing:

Time will tell what that stash will become.  I plan a skirt out of the navy and white floral stretch cotton sateen, and a shirtdress out  of the red, pink, purple, green and black geometric poplin.

And this month I will also be taking part in September Sew for 30. You can find out more about this on Star Thread's blog:

My mojo has been low recently, so I thought this would be a good way to get it rekindled. Right now though, I have to go and get some dinner and help my husband with redressing a nasty cut he gave himself the other day.  He is also not well, so it looks like I am going to have to catch up some of
 today's 30 minutes tomorrow.  But I did do some sewing activities today -  marked a pair of pants that have been cut, and prepped the pocket pieces ready for sewing. Oh, and threaded the overlocker, adjusted and tested, and chose the thread that I will be using for sewing the pants.

One last thing before I go. For those of you that were interested in knowing more about the recent Style course I did, I shall share that with you over the next few weeks.  It didn't cover any new ground for me, but probably was beneficial for those new to the whole area of style. More later though...

All for now, back Saturday.

Sarah Liz

Friday, August 26, 2016

New Trousers and the Last of my Old Style.

Hello everyone, my mojo is not quite restored yet, but I have managed to finish these pants and do a whole lot of essential tasks that have been sitting ignored for ages, you know, the sort of jobs no-one wants to do.  Things like paperwork and decluttering stuff.  Lots more to go, but sometimes it is the starting on tedium that is the hardest part.

Well, the new trousers are the last of my old Sarah Liz Sew Style.  Over the three years since I have been blogging, I have gradually re-learnt forgotten skills in making ordinary clothes.  I deliberately started on making a very casual wardrobe for two reasons.  The first was because I needed it, and the second was that it did not matter much if there were problems with the sewing or fit. And I learnt the basics of sewing with knits.  Along the way I learnt, of course, and now feel ready to take my sewing to a new level - which will of course mean more learning.

In order to start to develop a less casual for around the house type of wardrobe, I decided that I needed to update my style knowledge. So I have just undertaken another style course, which I hope will equip me to choose garments that work well for me.  I haven't really worried too much with my casual house wear, because I was at that stage worrying more about just covering my body reasonably adequately.

I followed this tradition when I made my August Make a Garment a Month garment.  I really needed some hardy casual pants for doing things around the house, running chores, shopping and so on.  And I wanted pockets in them.  I used a combination of three patterns, all by Kwik Sew in order to make a pair of straight leg elastic waist trousers with pockets in them.

Kwik Sew 2960 on the left has been used before - I use the straight leg version and eliminate the zip, add a little to the sides and then use elastic in a casing.  For the pockets, I used the curved shape of 3315, and then the pocket pouch shape from 3540.  I shaped the side front insert to match the side of the front trouser pattern (2960).  And then I went ahead and cut and stitched these trousers.
I used a 1.45 of 130 wide stretch cotton twill purchased from Spotlight.

(Kwik Sew 2960 has been made up a number of times - if you are interested, click here. )

The front has worked nicely, and you can see the pockets. Now, normally I do not wear a white t-shirt worn over a vest, tucked into pants. I have a non existent waist, and am short waisted, so this is certainly a very non flattering look.  We non waisted rectangles with tums know that we have to wear a garment that skims our mid section outside our pants.  Still, we sewing bloggers know what we must do for our art:

Here goes:

Yes, pockets!! Now, the side view:

I have lightened the side view photo so that I can show you the diagonal wrinkles that are occurring from my high hip area to under my bottom.  I am very flat here, and always get these wrinkles, even with RTW pants.  Most fit alterations seem to remove under the bottom fullness that is horizontal, not diagonal. I have done those alterations and mostly eliminated under the bottom wrinkles, but I still have this problem that I have not yet solved.  Mostly because I think I was just glad to get pants that fitted me better than RTW, which were always voluminous on my very slim hips and thighs.

I have lightened the back view as well.  This clearly shows the diagonal formation of wrinkles.  In fact, looking at my very neat derriere, it is almost a neat triangle - no cheek curves going south and filling out the trousers.  That is why the wrinkling.  Also, with no thighs to speak of, and very straight, slim, legs, I need to adjust and shorten the side leg of this type of pants. RTW look worse - I have about 5 inches of fabric flopping around my thighs, so my pants are a marked improvement.  But I could improve them more, I think.

But not now.  I urgently needed these, and in those situations, I will settle for my better than RTW fit but needs improvement when I have time.

And after all, when they are being worn, no-one except a dedicated sewer, notices these things.  And a lot of the time, when you are moving and sitting in them, none of these fitting issues will be obvious at all.

Well, that's it for the show and tell.  I still have about three winter garments unblogged, but for now, it is time to think about my new style requirements, which just happens to coincide with a new season to sew for.  I think I am feeling my mojo slowly return, even though it is still really cold here.

Bye for now,

Sarah Liz

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Misplaced Mojo - So a Remake and a Muslin.

I have been struggling with motivation in most areas of life for the last few weeks - mid winter blues, post cold or whatever the nasty thing was that went on and on for ever, followed by another that went on and on etc - or maybe it was the same one, followed by yet another cold.  So I am not surprised that I have been feeling flat.  I have not been interested in much at all, even sewing.  Of course, I do what is needed everyday, but without any sparkle.  You know, a bit like that sad glass of flat bubbly water.

When I am in the doldrums, I still sew.  I can be very slow, but honestly, it is better to do something than to sit around feeling sorry for yourself.  Mind you, I found that I made quite a lot of silly mistakes although I had made this pattern up before and and should have known what I was doing.

I used Simplicity 2599 as my base:

The neckline is raised of course, and the sleeves have been altered to a short sleeve. On this variation I shortened the sleeves again. This was because I was using a scrap of fabric I found in an Op Shop.
Just 85cms (112 wide) of poly/cotton gingham.  Lovely and soft and lightweight.  I could just squeeze the top out.  I had to cut the sleeves on the crossgrain, but you can't tell.  And I ran out of fabric for the facings, so I just used a scrap of leftovers from the last little top for the facing.

I made the button loop too big - don't ask me how, just a vagary of not feeling up to par.  I turned this into an advantage by fastening with a larger silver button - so now I have a feature button.

I managed to sew it in the wrong place the first time around (it was not a good week) and when I unpicked the stitches, managed to make a tiny hole in the facing.  I was not going to let this defeat me, so I sealed it with a bit of clear nail polish and then put a daisy on the top.  I think this is a real fun touch and it brings a smile to my face when I see it:

So much so that I had to put a little daisy on the facing of the tiny gingham check top (also Simplicity 2599):

Well, enough of the cute problem solving :).  I do like to share my mishaps with you, because I know all sewers have problems sometimes, and it is sort of nice knowing you have company.

Here are some quick views - again, photos did not co-operate again.  Oh, and reading your comments from last week, I see I am not alone in the dread of the blog photo sessions.

Now I have two wash and wear gingham tops.  Which is fine by me, because I tend to be a bit of a uniform type of dresser sometimes.  If you want to see the earlier versions of this top, you can find them by clicking here.

My motivation was a little better today so I decided to make a muslin.  I usually do, although I don't always post them here.  But I thought maybe it is a good idea to actually show you what I do.  And why I do it.

I rather liked the look of   Simplicity 8053:

I rather liked the shorter looking top shown on the bottom right hand side.  This looks as though it sits at high hip level.  I saw myself in a nice, bright, cheerful little top.  I thought the v neck made a change, as does the jacket look of this blouse.  Now, I like to test any pattern quickly before I waste fabric.  So I used bits and pieces of unwanted fabric and quickly tried the pattern out.  I cut of the hem allowance, and also added the front facing to get an accurate view of what this top would look like.


I think this is not the most flattering look for me - and I haven't shown you this side view, for very good reason. Even Sarah Liz has her limits.  Some of you may think it looks okay, but to me it just sort of looks as though this is a cut off bodice, especially the front view.  Not a nice, snazzy, crop top.  It just looks wrong.

So this lot will go in the bin, where it belongs.  On the plus side, I have had the fun of making up this pattern and I know what it looks like.  I am also not about to waste a piece of fabric.  I don't even like wasting my less stellar fabric, because I find that this still makes okay house clothes and first runs of a pattern.

I will keep the pattern though, because I like the collared, long line version. Which will look better on me, and the dipped front will work better, because I have a pouter pigeon chest which lifts the fronts of all my garments.  But with the dipped hem you can't tell. Much easier having a dipped hem than fiddling with altering a pattern so the hemline is straight.

All for now, hope you all have a good week, and for those of you whose sewjo is waning, I hope it returns soon.

Sarah Liz

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Little Work Top - Simplicity 2599 again.

 I really find it difficult to motivate myself to sew when it is close to the end of a season.  It hardly seems worthwhile sewing a garment for winter when winter is coming to an end, and the garment may not be worn until next winter (all supposing it fits).  It's hard to get motivated to sew for the next season, because again, you may not wear the garment for a few months.

So I was stuck in a demotivated sewing rut.  So I decided I better make myself sew something I might need in summer, but really didn't want to make - a fairly boring little shell top I can wear to work on very hot days.  

So I made another version of Simplicity 2599:

This little top is very simple little top, very generous over the tummy region.  I made this version in a poly-cotton gingham, purchased from Spotlight.   The gingham has very tiny checks and I can't get a good photo as the flash just washed the pattern out.  

The poly-cotton was lightweight 80 poly/20 cotton.  Not my favourite mix - I prefer at least 35% cotton.  Te higher polyester content meant that my sleeve heads did not want to ease well.  But with such a lot of polyester, the top is drip dry, no iron, so perfect for work and also travel.  Especially as it dries so quickly.

I have previously adjusted the pattern so that I have longer short sleeves, if that makes sense.  You can see that post by clicking here.

I'll quickly post my photos, which have to be some of the more poorly lit ones I have taken.  And these were the best.  I have to admit I hate taking blog photos, especially as I do not have a good light space.  The overhead lights are on, and the photos are still dark.  And this is with another bright light shining on them.  And self timing is never fun - most photos turn out to be unusable.  I took about 40 today, and these are the best handful.  And if I look fed up, it was because I was :)

Well, that's  a wardrobe need ticked off the list!  A good feeling, because I won't have to make this in the future!  It's nice to get the needed but I don't want to sew it garments ticked off the list.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting garments that have been made but not yet blogged.  And also, I will be taking part in Star Thread's  Sew for 30 2016.  The concept is simple - sew for 30 minutes a day during the month of September.  Visit Star's blog for more information, if you are interested.

Now, I attempt to sew for a few minutes every day.  Sometimes I can only manage to do something like iron on interfacing - today I cut something out.  But it is the small steps that lead to a finished garment.  I might even document my process during September, to show you how it is possible to sew a little every day, and come up with a finished garment quite quickly.

That's it for now, 

Have a happy and healthy week, wherever you are,

Sarah Liz