Thursday, 29 January 2015

Another Shirt For Tim: Negroni Archer Hack #2

Another shirt for Tim. I cut this one out ages ago after seeing a man on a tram wearing a similar black and white gingham contrast shirt.

I again used my hacked Negroni Archer pattern pieces. See this post for more details on that. I made one further mod by taking out a further 1/2"of fabric from the width of each sleeve and the fit is better in this shirt than the previous versions.

I made a few mistakes at the time of cutting out. I some how cut the front bodice pieces with a thinner centre front. To solve this issue I used tiny seam allowances and cut slightly wider button plackets. Thankfully, it doesnt seem to have affected the fit. 

When attaching the collar I found that the collar stand was a good half an inch larger than it should have been. I had absolutely no spare fabric so I eased those collar stands in like crazy. You can't really tell from the outside but the centre back inside is a mess! By this time I considered binning the shirt but Tim convinced me that some of his RTW shirts have wrinkly collar stands from excess fabric and that it really didn't look that bad.

I used the contrasting fabric for the back yoke, inner collar stand, button placket, cuff placket and cuff facings. Because this shirt was looking to be on the dodgy side I simply faux felled the seams by sewing the seam allowance, overlocking the edges and top stitching them to one side at the side and sleeve seams.  I don't regret this, it still looks nice inside and out. 

The final shirt fit great and you can't see any of my terrible mistakes. The fabric contrast is really fun but still professional enough for work.

The Negroni bodice really fits Tim very well but I'm keen to try other shirt patterns that don't require as much hacking to get the look he's after. Next up is a Simplicity 1544 with short sleeves. I've even gone to the effort of making a muslin. I have some gorgeous Tessuti shirting I'm going to use for the real thing and after that I might take a little break from men's shirt making.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Vogue 8901 Or The Dress With Room For Your Cat

First up let me say this post is going to be photo heavy as I wanted to show the dress in it's best and worst light. V8901 is a dress pattern with maxi or knee length options, a lined bodice front and back that overlap around the sides and a pleated skirt. The pattern provides either a centre back zip or long key hole back option. There have been mixed reviews about the fit of this dress and all versions I've seen have had at least some underarm gaping where the bodice overlaps. Perhaps you're thinking how lovely and smooth my dress looks? No gape in sight.

Yeah, right! And then I stand with my usual bad posture and the gape appears. However, it is a thousand times better than what it started out as. 

I cut a straight size 12 of version A. There are only a couple of pattern pieces however the bodice pieces are cut twice as it is self-lined. The fabric is a very pretty cotton Lawn from The Cloth Shop. It's very like liberty in its soft feel and ability to take a really crisp press. I adore it! 

I made the bodice and tried it on for size. In the below photo the left side has had the excess fabric pinned down around the side overlap. On the right side you can see that the mighty gape is a suitable pocket for keeping your pet (or pincushion) cat. The gape is oh so unflattering, revealing and just plain silly.

I pinned the excess fabric out of the sides which caused the front sides to drop below the waist line by about 3cm. I then basted the bodice pieces together and trimmed the fabric to re-balance the waistline. I had to hack quite a bit of fabric off to make it even and I was concerned about the loss in bodice length. To combat this I cut a waistband to insert between the bodice and skirt and I actually really like the look of it.  I tacked the overlapped bodice together just under the arm hole for modesty.

Regarding fitting, I also took 1/2" from the shoulders and fitted the zipper with a 1"S/A at the centre back neckline ease down to the 5/8" allowance. I still have excess gape in my centre back and centre front, but this was the best I could do while keeping this dress wearable. 

Fitting aside, the dress was a simple and fast project. The bodice and lining is constructed first with the lining pulled right side out through the bodice shoulders. A self lined bodice looks so neat and may actually be faster than neckline and armhole binding.

The pleats took some time to carefully press and sew, but I have so many gathered skirts that the pleats are a nice change. I sewed a really narrow hem (I'm 5'4). Taller ladies, add length if you want more coverage. The instructions were clear and easy to follow.

I would like to make a fancy maxi version of V8901 but I'd need to smooth out some of the above fitting issues first. Though, I had a lot of fun making this dress. It's far from perfect but I'll definitely get wear out of it over summer.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Denim K & L Tap Shorts

I'm in love with the Katy & Laney Tap Short Pattern and this pair of shorts in particular!

I wasn't, however, in love with this Tessuti Alice top on me. It may have been something to do with my atrocious hair at the time, but I just didn't feel it flattered me. Even so, I've reached for this top a heap this summer as it's so darn comfy and easy to wear. One lovely sewing friend mentioned that it would look great with denim shorts and I was a girl possessed after that. Must make denim shorts! Short story: I did, they are awesome, and they look awesome with Alice. 

It was an obvious decision to make the pockets/facings etc with the leftover cotton/ linen blend from my Alice top. The main fabric is a 3% stretch dark denim from Tessuti. It's a really nice weight and was very affordable. I'm not sure how it would perform for jeans but it's gorgeous for these shorts.

I've previously made the Tap Short's in version B Front (pleats) with Back 2 (Welt pockets) in size 8. The fit was spot on last time. This time I made version C front with a zip fly front and angled side pockets. I used a hook and bar instead of a button to fasten the shorts and finished all the insides with my overclocker. I flat felled the crotch seam for a more traditional jeans look, and stitched in the ditch to secure the waist band rather than catch stitching down. The instructions suggest interfacing the waistband and the facing, but given the weight of the denim I only interfaced the facings.

The pieces came together beutifully and the instructions were excellent. The fly went in really well. My only complaint is that some how my fly shield ended up about 1/2"  too thin but it doesn't affect the shorts at all.
Update: A friend pondered whether I had a small fitting issue around the hips that resulted in the pockets poofing open as seen above. Thanks for the constructive feedback Rachel! I definitely have enough ease around my hips and the pockets mostly sit perfectly flat. I think the photo above is the result of me rushing to stuff the thick denim and linen pocket lining back in so Tim could take some quick snaps. Not to say the shorts fit perfectly but they are pretty darn close.

After making my first pair of Tap Shorts I wasn't sure about the high waisted look. I now realise that they are actually some of the most flattering and comfortable shorts I own and I'm so glad to have added another comfy pair to my wardrobe. These shorts are going to be flogged this summer.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Catherine's Alice top

This year I sewed a present for Tim's mum, Catherine, for Christmas. 

When I made up my first Tessuti Alice Top I knew it would suit her perfectly so put away in my mind the idea that I might make her a version at some point. In November I saw this gorgeous red and white textured cotton Japanese lawn in The Cloth Shop and knew it had to be for Cathy. This fabric just looks like her. The yoke and armbands are lined with a cotton  / silk blend. 

I wanted the present to be a surprise so I had some drama's trying to figure out appropriate sizing in discussions with Tim and his Dad. I tried visually sizing her up (which was weird) but one thing sewing will teach you is that actual body measurements are different from RTW and what you think someone looks like. In the end I took a gamble and made up the top in the XS (same size as me). Thank goodness, it fits! The size is spot on and Cathy wore the top Christmas evening.

I was very nervous and excited to give this gift and so relieved when it fit. Cathy looked fantastic in this style top and the beautiful fabric. For a review on making up this top, including printing tips check out my first and second versions. That's the last of my hand made 2014 Christmas gifts. Better get started on next years. Jokes, it's going to be all about me me me for a while!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Floral Colette Iris Shorts

Last Summer I made my butcher Orange Iris Shorts. The fit wasn't perfect but what annoyed me more was that the linen rayon stretched strangely and wrinkled badly. I cut another pair at the time, then came 9 months of cool weather in Melbourne. I finally made up that second pair. 

Again, I made version 1, cutting a size 8 but with the length extended to a size 18. The only change I made was to exclude the front in seam pockets as I found them really annoyingly positioned. The fabric is a Darn Cheap Fabrics cotton sateen. When cutting out the pieces last summer I went to the effort to pattern match the front leg seam - see below. Pretty happy with my efforts! 

The fit is slightly better in this sturdy fabric without the front pockets. I sewed the crotch with a smaller seam allowance and that also helped to improve the fit. The crotch on my last pair was well too high. This pair is passable - just. But I find the waist band sits at an uncomfortable level for me. It's not on my hips or at my waist. It sits right across by stomach / food baby. For highwaisted shorts I'd prefer the K & L Tap shorts which sits comfortable on my natural waist. 

Tim really likes these shorts but I was worried the dark floral looked more like PJ shorts. I took the vote to Instagram and was convinced otherwise, thanks friends! 

I will wear these shorts this summer and I do think they are fun but I don't know that I'll be sewing up the Iris Shorts pattern again. Summer shorts need to be comfy and the mid waist rise just isn't. I think I'll go on a short sewing bender this summer. I've just sewn up another pair of K & L Tap shorts and I really want to try the Grainline Studio Maritime Shorts for a low rise short pattern. Does anyone have any other favourite Short patterns they'd recommend?

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Playing Teacher: Another Tate Top

We gifted my sister Gen a sewing machine for her 18th birthday. I knew she was interested in sewing and I kind of assumed she had some very basic sewing knowledge just because, well, why not? She didn't, because, well, why would she (silly me!)? I promised her a sewing lesson on Boxing day and arrived with a few bits and pieces that she wouldn't already have. I sat in front of her sewing machine with her. She knew nothing, and I realised just how much there was to learn before even turning the machine on!

I took her through the basics: thread the needle, fill the bobbin, straight stitch, zig zag stitch, stitch lengths and back stitching. She practiced for a few minutes on some scrap fabrics. Gen was keen to get straight into trying a pattern after this despite knowing nothing -  really nothing! I told her the first step was to iron the fabric before we can cut out the pattern pieces. She said she didn't know how to iron...

I chose the Tate Top for Gen because its an incredibly simple pattern with no tricky closures, it only requires fitting around the bust and I had it on hand. Gen cut a size 0, after talking through taking measurements, pattern sizing and ease. I ran through how to cut the pieces from the fabric and we got started with the sewing. 

By the end of the day she had a finished top, made from some spotlight cotton lawn I'd gifted her and she knew how to sew darts, finish her seams with zig zag and do french seams, make a hem, use bias binding, hand sew a hook and eye, and, get this, iron!

The top isn't perfect but it looks great and no one would be able to tell that some of stitching is a little wonky or that it was hand made. I think Gen did an absolutely amazing job and it was lovely to teach someone so keen to learn. In hindsight, maybe I should have started her on a tote bag or something similar but I think she's more interested in sewing clothes, so why not jump straight in to it?

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Sewing in 2014

It's time to look back on the year that was. This is my version of Gillian's wonderful Top 5 in 2014, but I'm going to try and keep it short and sweet and fit everything into one post.

What I've Sewn in 2014:
I've recorded 132 Garments in my sewing notebook, not including a few half makes / WIPs.
Of these, 95 were made for myself. It feels like I sewed a lot more for others than I actually I did. I guess that says something about the extra mental effort and time it takes to sew for others. The below pie chart shows the number of garments I made by recipient.

Suffice to say my wardrobe is pretty full! Focusing only on me, me, me the below pie charts shorts the number of each type of garment I sewed for my own wardrobe. One quarter of everything I sewed for myself was dresses! No surprises there. 

I mostly sewed up Indie Patterns with only 10 garments made from Vogue, Simplicity or McCall's Patterns. The Indie Pattern Companies I made most garments from were Colette (15 garments) and Grainline Studio (12). Overall I sewed up garments from 38 different designers!

Highlights of 2014:
This is super hard to narrow down. I've sewn so many things I love this year. So, I've chosen a few most made and worn patterns that fitted effortlessly into my wardrobe and I constantly reach for: Coppelia Cardy
Alder Shirtdresses and Moss Skirts. I'm so darn chuffed with the way my colour blocked Jackie coat turned out and I feel proud every time Tim wears shorts, shirts or the Albion Coat I made him.

Left to right, top to bottom: Grainline Studio Alder Shirtdress; Iconic patterns Jackie Coat; Colette Albion coat; Grainline Studio Moss mini; Papercut Pattern Coppelia cardigan; Colette Negroni Shirt

Misses of 2014:
While quite a few items didn't turn out as planned these are four that I finished that have had least wear. The Elisalex dress took me almost the whole year to complete and now I cant stand to look at it and the grumpy gathered skirt was much the same. I made a few mistakes and now cant stand to wear it. Knit dresses are just are not for me! I'll probably pass my Moneta dress pattern on to someone who will get more use from it.

Reflections of past goals:
  1. I'm amazed at how much I've learnt this year. I sewed like a maniac, particularly at the beginning of the year when I took a few months off my studies and work. I don't think I'll ever have the drive to sew as much and as quickly as I did at that time and that's ok with me. It was a great experience to learn as much as I could in a short period of time.
  2. Slowing down and enjoying each sewing process: I found a nice balance. I really took my time on certain projects like my colour blocked Jackie coat but I also enjoy racing through an easy project from time to time.
  3. Get social with my sewing buddies:  Success! I attended Social sewing days, fabric shop crawls, coffee/lunch catch up, Mocktails and Sewaway. 
  4. Participate in Me-Made-May: I participated, wore me-made everyday and blogged all about it. I really enjoyed MMM '14 and look forward to doing it again next year.
  5. Sew Cheap Challenge: In January I blogged about my Tips and Tricks for Sewing on the cheap and a taste of some of the great free patterns available online. I also made a goal to Make 12 new-to-me free patterns during 2014, one for each month, and review them here. I achieved this goal and have some of my favourite garments because of it. I also have a few wadders. I wont be continuing with this monthly challenge in 2014 but I will continue to make up and review free patterns as the urge hits.
New Goals:
  1. Pants: yeah...I should make pants. I don't wear pants much as I don't like the way RTW pants fit around pretty much any of my lower region. But perhaps making my own will change my pants wearing world. Or perhaps it will be terrible awful experience?
  2. Winter coat/jacket: I'd like to make a yearly tradition of making myself a new winter coat. I'm pretty keen to try out the Minoru jacket and a women's version of the Albion.
  3. Sew more things I don't have to iron! I'm wearing dresses all the time because I just cant be bothered ironing my blouses. I need to iron more, and make more tops I don't have to iron.
That's it, thanks for sticking with me. Wishing everyone a happy and sewing-filled New Year. 

Christmas Gifts For Nieces & Nephews

Another installment in Christmas gift sewing 2014. This time, the gifts I sewed for some of my nieces and Nephews.

For my youngest niece, V, I made the free Pleated Playsuit Pattern by Elegance & Elephants out of some left over quilting cotton and bird linen from her mum's Alice top. I cut a size 2 and followed the instructions baring two changes: I extended the short cuffs so they could be folded up and tacked down and used two rows of 1/4"elastic instead of 1/2"elastic because that's what I had on hand.

I love this pattern and will definitely make it up again some time. If only it cam in my size!

I made V and two older nieces, A & A, drawstring skirts using Melly Sews tutorial. I've made up this skirt before and I think it's a great pattern to sew for kids who you don't have the exact measurements of. The drawstring means they can always draw the skirt tighter or looser.

I made the girls skirts in various cotton drills and poplins from spotlight. They are super bright and fun. Hopefully the girls think so too. I especially like the way the folded over pocket flaps look on the stripey version. V striped down to get straight into her skirt during Christmas lunch. She seemed particularly keen on the pockets.

My nephews J and R received new MADE Kid Shorts as they have grown out of last years versions. I have definitely gotten my moneys worth from this pattern. I think I would've sewn at least 30 pairs now. 

I made these shorts from some cotton drills (green stars and black and white geometirc print) and cotton poplin (hot air balloons). I asked Tim to come help me pick out the fabrics for the boys as I really struggle to see "manly" fabrics among the sea of floral's, pinks and purples. I'm not sure if we hit the mark, but we tried.

Like last time, I added welt zipper pockets for the boys shorts in addition to back patch pockets. I used fabrics left over from Tim's Pooch PJ Shorts for the pocket linings so there is a little bit of fun in each pocket! I also added cuffs to J's pair of shorts as they are popular at the moment and I thought he might like them.

Thanks goodness another year of Christmas sewing is over! While these are all simple patterns they do take a bit of time to come together each year from planning to gifting. It is super fun sewing up clothes in such bright and sturdy fabrics though and I love seeing the kids in their gifted clothes during the year.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Spotty Jed's and Pooch Darcy Boxers

First up in blogging Christmas gifts are Tim's Jed's and Darcy Shorts.

I made a pair of Thread Theory Jedediah Shorts for Tim last November and he wears them all the time. As a part of his Christmas gift I decided to make another pair, this time from some navy and white spotty drill from Spotlight. I left sewing Tim's gifts until I'd finished sewing for my nieces, nephews and others. I was putting these shorts off as they were quite a big project last November. Turns out, after another year of sewing experience they were relatively simple and quick!

I made up size 32 again and they fit great. I followed the instructions exactly except for the bias binding the seams. I made the binding, but piked out deciding that the overlocker looked neater than the bias. For this version I rolled up the hem and sewed them down at the side seams. Even with the rolled hem I cut 2" of the shorts. I need to remember to make this change to the pattern next time so as not to waist the fabric.

This time around I took the time to add the decorational stitching on the back pocket, although you can't really see it, and I also used this method to reinforce the pocket and hide all raw seams. My only other change was to fold under the waistband seam allowance and stitch in the ditch rather than leaving the bound edge exposed.

The instructions are reasonably good and where they lack the sew along holds your hand. Two things I love about this pattern/instructions are the fly insertion instruction and also the way the waist band centre front is attached. The instructions really simplify the methods and provide a very professional look I think. Tim wore these Christmas day and looked fabulous in them if I do say so myself!

I also made up the Measure Twice Cut Once Darcy Shorts for some PJ shorts for Tim. They have a functional button fly and an exposed waistband. I cut a size large which looked ginormous before adding the waistband but the fit turned out perfect.  I made them from some Dog cotton from Spotlight and they are pretty darn cute. 

The instructions have a women's and a men's variation. I followed the Men's in addition to adding 7cm of length to each short leg so that the hems hit just above the knees. The instructions were very detailed and easy to follow. However the elastic length and button placement is left for you to decide. Tim really likes these Jammie shorts and they are perfect for out summer nights.