Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Remaining Plaid - now made into Vogue 9018.

Hello everyone,

My latest make is a rather rustic and homespun looking PollyAnna Practical meets Margaret Howell, but I rather like it! I'm wearing leggings and socks, but I think really, except for Autumn layering, I would  wear tights.  Except on those really homespun and cosy sort of days, of course.  I mean, Margaret Howell often puts socks on her models, quite unashamedly.

I am still a bit behind in replying to your comments but hope one day to be a little more disciplined in transition in the SLSS household, so I am a bit preoccupied with what that will mean in practical terms.  I will tell you more next week. 

But for now, on with this weeks post:

Last week I showed you my recently made plaid shirt (post here):

The backstory - I had purchased a piece of cotton flannelette from Spotlight when it was on sale - $2.50 per metre.  I purchased 2.5 metres (150 wide).  After I made the shirt, I had a leftover 1 metre piece plus a piece about 25 wide by 60 long.  I don't like having leftovers that are not really big enough for much, because invariably they go to the bottom of the stash, never to be see the light of day again.  So I decided to use it. Rummaging though my patterns, I though I might just squeeze out a tunic dress or something.  When I spied Vogue 9018 I figured that I might just about squeeze the garment out:

I figured I never have anything to wear in Autumn, where it gets warm in the day, but cool in the afternoon and evening.  And so you take off and put on leggings as the day changes.  Plus, I never have the right garments for Me Made May, as I don't really focus much on transitional wear.  Or cold weather clothes, our season is not cold or long enough.  So I thought a layering piece might come in handy.

The first thing I noticed about this pattern was how shapeless it was - no darts of any sort.  And it was oneof those two size increment type of patterns.

I settled on size M with size S shoulders and neck.  I  wisely made a quick toile, which showed the garment to be as shapeless as I thought it would be.  While I liked the idea of a roomy pinafore so I can move around and put any sort of layer under it, I did not want it to be totally shapeless. I took in about 1 cm  on the side seams  and added front and back  darts - which makes the waist  about 3.5inches smaller in total - and the finished garment is still very roomy!  Right side in this picture is the pinned side:

I also did a half inch total horizontal narrow back adjustment across the upper back area.

I didn't have enough fabric for the inseam pockets so I used a piece of navy poly cotton for them.  My small strip of fabric was enough for the front and back facings - with a seam through the CB of the back facing.  The pattern suggested facings for the armholes, but I had no spare fabric for that, so used binding instead.  It's a bit of a contrast and much more voilet than it seems in this picture but it was in the stash, so it got used! :

Otherwise it was a straight forward make.  I must show you the front dart, which is barely visible except for the indentation of the pattern:

Buttons and buttonholes to finish, plus a snap at the top as the neckline wanted to pull open a little:

That's it.  Very few scraps left, which is what I like!

I'll quickly show you the front, side and back views.  Got to love those pockets:

Actually, I quite like my Pollyanna Practical Pinafore.  It's quite fun, really, and certainly looks nicer than lots of things I could wear for doing chores.:

But then, I always did look a bit like an overgrown schoolgirl...

That's it for now, will share more with you all next week.

Take care everyone,

Sarah Liz. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I'm back blogging - In Praise of Imperfect Shirtmaking - Burda 2561.

Hello Everyone,

I'm back blogging after a tedious patch in life that my husband and I had to navigate.  Not interpersonal issues, but a staff problem.  My husband works solo, and his secretary was ill.  100% staff absence is not really a very good way of operating.  Plus he is overloaded at the moment.  I stepped into the breach where I could.

Anyway, for now, the problem is resolved, and I have thought of a number of ways we can function should this situation arise again. As I suspect it will, in one shape or another.

So, by the time I got back sewing I was quite stressed and frustrated.  And decided to make a plaid shirt is a loose weave flannelette.  Nothing quite like adding to the frustration levels!

So thank you all for your lovely comments. This week I hope to get back to normal and actually reply again to your comments.

So, on with the shirt:

I decided to use a simple style with minimal seamlines and a bit of shaping, so rummaged through my patterns and settled on Burda 2561:

I usually always make a muslin to check fit, but I know that Burda size 38 usually works quite well.  So on this occasion I settled for a wearable muslin, basically because I wanted to get on and ease my sewing frustration.

The first problem happened cutting out the shirt.  I could not get the side seams to easily match, no matter how I tried.  I later figured out that it was because the dart was on the diagonal, not straight.  That was after I had cut the shirt fronts out - I had decided that I would be a little RTW and not worry about the plaid matching.  I just wanted to sew.

I also noted that the shirt was designed to have a small shoulder pad, but the depth was not specified. I did not want a shoulder pad, but I also did not know how much to take out, so I decided that as this shirt was just a really casual wearable muslin, that I would proceed and work out how much to remove if I make this again.

I did notice the the shoulder seam was way over the shoulder on the picture - so I removed 1/8 inch from that.

I also made a narrow, erect back adjustment of 1/2 inch.

Now, when I came to sew the front dart, I think that was really the point that I worked out why I was having problems with the side seam matching back and front : the diagonal slant of the dart out towards the side was quite marked, although they look quite straight on the trade sketch:

So I sort of straightened the dart up as much as I could.  I used the loose weave of the fabric to help, and eased the slightly longer side to the slightly shorter side.  I was prepared to have slightly mismatched side seams, but the front darts really had to look seamless as they would be so noticeable - side seams are more hidden. After a few attempts, I succeeded:

Other than that, the shirt was an easy sew,  but the fabric did want to stretch and move a lot. The shirt has taken on a life of it's own, though, with an interesting droopy effect.  Partly because of the way I manipulated the front dart, and partly because of the excess fabric in the shoulder and sleeve head that I did not remove because I did not know how deep the shoulder pads were.  If I make this shirt again, I think 3/8 inch needs removing.

But the other reason the shirt droops is because I am very straight through sides and have a very high chest.  So I need to split the chest, alter any dart point, and perhaps even lift through the sides.  So the straight lines of fabric have made this an ideal fitting muslin - it shows just what I need to do in the future for all patterns.  

Strangely, for all the hassles and imperfections in this shirt, I love it!  Maybe because of those imperfections.  And I am going to wear this a lot around the house.  I'll even wear it out in the right situation - I doubt anyone will notice the droops, which are not so obvious if I choose to wear this as a jacket shirt:

(and, I can see that worn open, the shirt is not catching on the high point of my sternum, so does not look so droopy).

Before I show all views, I will just show you the button detail:

Before I go, I'll just show you the front, back and side views:

As you can see, the back lines are fairly straight, with a slight droop to the side. So I think altering the high chest area will pretty much fix any fit issues with my high chest/erect and narrow back.

So, I shall wear this imperfect shirt with pride.  It has taught me a lot.

The fabric used was a cotton flannelette.  I had 2.5 metres of 150 wide.  I was left with a 1 metre piece and a strip about 25 by 60 cm.  

So, next week, I am going to show you what I did with the remainder...

Until then, bye for now,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Hand Knit Time.

Hello Everyone,

The smile on my face is not quite how I feel at the moment.  My husband and I have a very distracting problem at the moment, and I have to admit to two very sleepless nights this week wondering how to solve it.  I will tell you more about this when the problem has resolved, which it will, either in days, weeks or potential months.  

Because I am busy in real life, I really do not have time to reply to your weekly comments. They have all been read and appreciated though.  Many of you were interested in last weeks post about drafting trousers.   Some of you have expressed interest in knowing more, and I will enjoy sharing that with you one day, but for the moment I have put this class aside as I do not have the time and energy to dedicate to it. For now I must do Tried and True techniques and plan Simple Sewing projects.  For the same reason, learning about Bra making is also on hold. 

I have pulled out some knitting though, because that is simple to do and relaxes me in the evening.

I usually have knitting on the go, but I take a long time to finish a garment because I only do a few rows at night.  Recently I finished the burgundy top that is shown above.  I used a Patons pattern - I can't remember where I found it:

I loved the relaxed boxy look of the jumper. The yarn recommended was Paton's Souffle, a mohair/acrylic mix, 8 ply.  I wanted a plain colour though, not stripes, and settled for a lovely rich burgundy colour.  I also wanted longer sleeves. When I checked the instructions for the boat neckline, I realised it was not going to work - the garment was cast off straight through the shoulder and neck, and then sewn up at quite a wide interval.  I knew that this sort of neck would fall off my shoulders.  I also thought it might sit too high up on my neck and irritate me. So I modified the neckline to a little square neckline at the front.  I don't think I quite got the shaping correct and the front is a bit saggy, but it works, and on a handknit it really doesn't matter.  It still looks lovely, or so I think.  

I took these pictures in a hurry, and am wearing a pair of RTW jeggings.  I do not look good in jeggings, and also you can see what happens when I wear RTW pants of any sort.  I just don't have enough bulk in my legs to fill these out, so they are a mass of wrinkles.  Still, I am just in the house today, doing chores, so it doesn't matter.  I thought about putting different pants on and taking the photos again, but that seemed a little excessive.  I mean, we are all sewers here, and are all interested in fit, so I thought I would just go ahead with these.

I think this little Hand Knit is going to be a useful addition to my wardrobe - a dress up or dress down top, and warmth without weight.  And just in Time for our cooler days and nights.

That's it for today. I'm not sure what I will sew next given my pre-occupation with our personal personal affairs  So I may have to take a break from blogging.  Hopefully not sewing, but at least I have my next knitting project organised. That at least will help me destress.

Bye for now,

Sarah Liz. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Fitting Tail...

 Hello Everyone,

I have to admit that at the moment I have limited time for blogging and social media, due to the annoying disruptions of that thing called Real Life.  Still, this happens to all hobby sewing bloggers, so I just fit in what I can when I can.  I think I've kept up to date with most of your blogs.

This week I just wanted to share pictures of my tail.  And tell you a fitting tale, in extremely brief form.

The above picture is a quick muslin of a Burda tapered pant pattern.  It is designed to sit lower on the mid section than the waist. I can't wear that sort of style - that sort of style just falls down on me.

I also nowhere near fit the measurements of any commercial pattern.  A 28 inch waist, to 34 hip, and 34 high hip just is not going to be easy to adapt from any pattern.  Plus I also get a saggy backside and something not quite right about the crotch area.

Tracing and making pattern modifications took about 3 hours.

But, look at this:

Yes, that's my bottom again, in another pattern.  Perfect!

So how did I get to this stage.  Frustration. Frustration with spending hours altering patterns to still get a poor fit.  The front of the Burda pants is not great either.

So, when Craftsy sent a marketing email saying that they had a special, all classes US$20, I decided to enrol in a Pants Drafting Course by Suzy Furrer.

Now, as it so happens, this was not a good week to do this class.  I put Thursday aside for a whole day session so I could concentrate, but that was the day a few problems appeared, that also needed attention over the weekend.

So I quickly rushed through, a bit here, and bit there inbetween interruptions (not a good way to learn anything new).  And quickly stitched up the result.

I am very pleased with the back of this self draft. The front has problems, but I can easily sort those out as they are easy  and deal with when self fitting.

And, I think I made a few mistakes with the draft in any case, due to my lack of dedicated attention time.

Still, the self draft concept is going to work.  For now, I am satisfied with what I have achieved.

When life settles down, I will go back to this class, check my draft is correct.  If not, I will alter.  If it is, I just have to modify this toile and then learn how to adapt for different styles.

What I did learn though was that the crotch shape of commercial patterns is completely the wrong shape for my measurements.

As for Me Made May, I'm afraid I have had little time to participate.  I have decided to abandon Me Made May this year, as it is a stressor for me at the moment, not fun.

But I have had fun in finishing a handknit, which I shall share with you next week.  That will be a fitting end to May.

See you next week,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A New Top for Sew Merry May, Simplicity 8216.

I've been having a strange life over the last few months and it has affected my sewing time quite a bit.  But on Thursday, I decided to just have a day to myself to sew.  And I worked on my May garment for the Make a Garment a Month project.  Our theme this month is Sew Merry May, and I thought this lovely cheerful fabric was Merry enough. The fabric also reminded me of the sort of fabrics I liked years ago as a teenager.  And the flowing style was also reminiscent of teenage memories.

The sewing of this top, though, was anything but Merry.  The fabric is a slippery rayon twill like fabric, and it misbehaved the whole way through.  Plus my attention was not good - if I have had things in real life that are draining, I find that it takes me a while to fire up my sewing brain again.

But, with lots of sighing and unpicking and what not, I got there!

The pattern I used was Simplicity 8216:

I had previously done a quick toile of this top.  I usually use size 8 around the arm, neck and shoulder area, and then go out to a 12.  I haven't made many Simplicity garments, and found this approach to size was wrong as the 8 was far too small. So I cut out a size 12 in all areas.  I think Simplicity paterns are going to fit me well with little alteration.

I measure the top ( I made version C) and found it very long - more tunic length, although the picture shows it to finish at hip/crotch height.  I am 5'4", or about 162 cms, so not over short.  I shortened the top by about 3 inches /10 cm.

As I knew the fabric I was working with was going to be a little difficult, I decided to omit the cuff and use an elastic casing instead at the bottom of the sleeve.  Sleeves are usually far to long on me, so I thought that by doing this I would have the sleeve finishing at about the right point.  I made the casing too deep, so edged it, which I think looks good. Then my elastic wouldn't fit, so I found another which happened to be softer which is just perfect for this sleeve finish:

I also added an inside yoke - the pattern just uses a single piece so seams are exposed. The pattern had a facing for the back neck but I thought that I would get annoyed at seeing the exposed seams with a facing above it.  I wanted a nice, neat, finish, plus I thought the double yoke would help to brace this drapey blouse- more body at the shoulder for it to hang from.  I interfaced the lining yoke at the neck edge.

I don't use the Burrito method as I find that a bit tedious - all the rolling, when with a yoke this deep you can just get right in there and sew by going through an armhole.   Much simpler.

I used the front facing and sewed that into the yoke - and realised later, that I had made a mistake - the pattern had the tie coming right down the front.  But when I thought about it, I prefered my version as it comes straight from the neck /facing join and that is already low enough for me.  So if I make this again, I am going to repeat my mistake.

The hem was just a standard 5/8 inch /1.5 cm turn twice and stitch sort of hem:

Disaster nearly struck as I was finishing this garment - I was very careful overlocking the armhole seam, flipping the sleeve neatly out of the way, or so I thought.  I was just threading my ends through, when I notice - I had just caught the sleeve into the overlocking.  It didn't look as though I had cut the sleeve, so I carefully unpicked the overlocking - and this fabric is dreadful to unpick, if you catch a thread it pulls dreadfully.  I got back to the caught bit, and released that.  I had pulled and torn/cut a thread, but as it was right under the armhole, I knew it would not be noticed. I blobbed some clear nail polish on the thread and area under it - just a small blob.  That will stop any further damage.

Of course, then I was upset, so I had to give myself a good talking too, and the top and I had to make friends with each other again.  Today, all is forgiven, and I am very Merry about this top.

And it even works nicely with my serious looking glasses, which I wear on serious sorts of occasions:

Oh, and I do plan to wear this over a black t-shirt.  I have some with a lower neckline, which I will wear under this - I am wearing a high neck one today and notice that it doesn't quite work.  I do need a layer under this, because the key hole is just a bit low for my liking.  I also get very cold, so need the extra layers.  

That's it for now, and if any of you want to join our group, do email me, stylishsarah251@gmail to join the Facebook group (you need a Facebook account) or if you are on Instagram and want to take part on Instagram, you will find me here .

Bye for now, and wishing you the best of sewing luck this week.

Sarah Liz

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Back Blogging - Grey Lisette Pants and A Skirt and a bit of Fitting Trivia.

Today I want to bring my blog up to date - I have two unblogged garments. They are both quite simple garments, and the pants and skirt are both using patterns I have tried before.

The pants were made from Butterick 6331.

 I have already written a post about the making of these trousers, which you can find here., so I shan't talk more about this here.

What I do want to talk about is the dreaded issue of fitting pants.  Some people have bottoms that seem to be the right shape for whatever pattern it is that has been chosen.

I am not one of those people, and I suspect many of you are not in the pants patterns fit me category either.

I think most patterns are drafted for more generous bottoms than I have.  Perhaps with slighter larger and curvier bottoms, hips and thighs.  Incidentally, I just read the other day that standard measurements were set years ago using a small sample (25,000) of white, lower middle class women.  I am not sure what country, but am assuming this was the U.S. This is hardly a representative sample statistically (and I am not going to go into the rules that govern what a representative sample is, but take it from me, this cannot be a generalisable sample, so it is not really an accurate model for all female shapes globally).

Now, I do not come from that group (family history, so I am probably not even an outlier in this group. So I can take it that these standards are not going to work for me.  Take a look at my rear end in these trousers. Strangely, these turned out not to fit as well as my earlier pair - it may have been the different fabric:

But this is nowhere near as bad as a RTW pants usually are on me:

Now, I think you would agree, that really is a sad look!   The moral here of course, is that if you are having trouble with the fit of your pants, especially in the area of self criticism, a more balanced perspective may be needed.

Anyway, what I am gradually learning is that I have a small tail, and I don't think anyone really designs for those.  These pants were an Australian brand, again, catering to the more pear shaped figure.

The French, though, in some RTW brands I have browsed, do have two styles of pants or skirt - those that are more like the dimensions of the Big 4 patterns (bigger hip to waist ratio) and some designed for the straighter waist to hip ratio and flatter thighs and bottom.  


I had enough fabric leftover (well, I made sure of it, I got cunning and did contrast waistbands in the on both pants and skirt, and could just about eke out the two garments....).

There isn't much to say about this skirt, except that it is the skirt shape that has evolved and morphed over time.  I used to have just as much trouble with straight skirts as I did with pants, but I seem to have mastered a reasonable okay fit with this straight skirt.  I added side pockets - this is a simple thing to do.

That's it for now, my blog is not up to date.  Now I have to start thinking about warmer clothes, with our short winter just around the corner.

Bye for now

Sarah Liz

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Little Knit Whimsy: Marcy Tilton Cardigan, Vogue 8975.

A few weeks ago I made this little Whimsy out of a cotton knit that was in my stash.  It had lived there for some years, mostly because it was a strange sort of colour, ostensibly navy, but it looked very red when seen with navy.    And so it didn't quite go with navy, or many other blues for that matter.    And when I pre-washed it, the red factor was confirmed, because the knit bled quite a bit -  there was  a lot of bluey- red in the water.  I wondered if I should toss it, but decided to try and fix the dye. It took me two attempts to fix the dye, so that I could actually use this fabric without fear of it accidentally tainting another garment in the wash.

The knit was also awkward in that it had lots of holes in it. Deliberate holes I mean, knitted into the fabric in diamond pattern at quite frequent intervals. So I couldn't use it for a top, without it needing something underneath. And there was the problem of the strange colour, not navy, not purple, not black. So I was not sure what I would layer it over. It was not really going to work with anything.

Then one day, while rummaging through my patterns I noticed this:

I thought this little Marcy Tilton cardigan might just work with the fabric. The pattern suggests using a mesh knit, and of course my knit is more of a medium weight. Still, I thought it was worth playing around with.

It was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to put together, with strange side panels:

  The ribbon tie goes through buttonholes, also a challenge with my knit. I should think it would be just as much of a challenge, if not more so, with a mesh.:  

And I had to alter the facing/collar as my fabric was too thick to do what the pattern suggested. The collar was supposed to be the mesh folded back on itself to make a little pleat.  So I just made a soft roll to get the facing in the right place, and used the seam and roll as my finish.  Perhaps not the best solution, but it sort of works: 

(You can clearly see the red hued navy in the above picture).

Now, I have to admit that this little Whimsy is not quite my style. But it works during a month with non stop rain.  Our March was the wettest start to Autumn since 1972.  It poured and poured and poured.  I got quite fed up. And on the day I took these photos, I had enjoyed a thorough sub tropical drencing.  Hence my rather relaxed garb.  I had just changed out of my wet clothes, and pulled on some comfy and comforting house things.  The Whimsy seems to suit the relaxed slightly holiday boho feel, to the point that the colour also didn't really matter:

And the tartan ribbon was about the only ribbon that worked with this. The navy was too navy, the purple was too purple, the black was too black. Then I noticed this tartan, which has blues, greens, reds and black in it, which means I can easily wear the Whimsy with my blue and black bottoms. And, I think it adds another touch of whimsy to the Whimsy.

On another note, the knit was reasonably easy to sew with an ordinary zipper foot, but did walk a bit.  It didn't seem to matter, I just pushed and manipulated the fabric so things sort of worked. This was really an experimental and play sew. But, I decide that when I am not experimenting and playing with a knit, but wanting perhaps to sew without the knit walking it was time to buy a walking foot:

So, now I can get serious about sewing with knits.  The time has come...

That's it for now, I hope I haven't posted too many photos, but I know a lot of you love Marcy Tilton garments.