Thursday, 26 March 2015

Named Nascha Mini skirt

For my birthday last year my lovely sister bought me the Named Nascha Mini Skirt pattern. I've been wanting to make it up for quite a while but the warm weather prevented me. I see this skirt as a winter mini to be paired with tights. I offered to make a wonderful friend a garment for her birthday and she asked for a Nascha Mini Skirt. As I hadn't made the pattern yet I decided to make myself a version to iron out any issues first.

I traced the pattern in size 40, which matched my hip measurement perfectly. I then proceeded to cut out some wool fabric and lining I had in my stash only to remember that I hadn't added seam allowances! Argh! I then recut some wool blend fabric from Clegs and the lining from the last of this silk. I was careful to check whether pattern matching was possible as Jess chose a tartan wool. It's a surprisingly simple pattern for pattern matching.

At first sight the instructions appeared be detailed. however, quite a few steps were challenging and written in confusing ways. I felt that they often missed key words. For example an instruction read "Finish bottom front edge" and I'm left asking "of what?" The skirt? the waist facing? the hem facing? Thankfully the diagrams are generally good so with a few re-reads of each instruction they can be made sense of.

In terms of the construction, I really enjoyed sewing this skirt. I've never made a lined skirt where the lining is fully encased by the waist and hem facings. The way the front diagonal pieces came together was a lovely piece of origami and the finish is excellent! In fact there were times when the instructions called for finishing seams that seemed unnecessary. For example, finishing the waist seam which is hidden inside the waist facing.

My only issues were topstitching the diagonal front folds, there is a lot of bulk at these seams, and topstitching the zipper to hold the lining in place. Next time I will hand sew the lining to the zipper. Next time I'd also consider inserting welt pockets in the back. I wont try this in Jess' skirt though, to much to lose if I fudge it up.

The fit is good, perhaps just slightly too loose. It tends to want to creep down at the back. In the below photo you can see that the skirt sits very low on me. Otherwise I'm super happy with this new addition to my winter wardrobe and I think it pairs really well with my recently made bow blouse. Now to make Jess' version.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Night Dress

Tim's mum lent me some of her patterns recently, one of which was this 1981 Style 3420 elasticised dress/jumpsuit pattern. I thought about making the dress but summer has come to an end here and the days are already too crisp to wear a lightweight relaxed fit dress. But I really needed some nighties, and this pattern was pretty much perfect for a nighty. Does anyone else use day time wear patterns to make PJ's or nighties?

The only changes I made were to remove 2" from the bodice so that the elastic was at the empire waist rather than the natural waist. For some reason empire line styles seem more appropriate and comfortable for nighties (I don't know why, they just do). I also took about 6" off the length and overlocked the hem using the rolled hem function.

The instructions were easy to follow and the construction couldn't be simpler. Construction involves creating a faux centre front facing using the seam allowance, adding an under arm facing and creating casings at the neckline and waist. Done!

I used some spotlight cotton lawn I'd bought over a year ago, and the elastic and ribbon came from Tim's Gma's stash. This means that the nighty cost me $0 as everything was in the stash/ given to me. 

PJ's are a great choice for using up cotton fabrics that are just a little too sweet or girly. I have a couple more fabrics in my stash which would make gorgeous nighties, or PJs. Sewing jammies is pretty boring but it's useful AND uses up fabrics which makes space for NEW fabrics. It's a win-win!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

An Update On My Sewing Space

Recently my sewing space has been getting out of control. It has been taking over the room it shares with a shelf, storage boxes, a clothes drying area, guitars, and our bikes. I needed to overhaul the space and make some rules (let's think of them more as guidelines) to avoid the space becoming this crazy again. The top photo is how the space looked in December of 2013 and how the below photo is how it looked last week.

In the last year I've obtained A LOT more patterns, fabrics, notions as well as an overlocker. I've also  been recently gifted bags full of trims, fabrics, threads and every other sewing related item you can think of by Tim's Grandma who is down-sizing. I love everything she has passed on to me and feel very lucky to have access to vintage bias binding, zippers and lace trims that she used. But how to make it fit tidily in my sewing space?  I hear Ikea calling!

I bought another Alex storage unit, this time a cupboard. Tim and I put this one together in record time! I moved all my traced patterns into the lower shelf, organised by garment type. The upper shelf will items that I plan to refashion. If it becomes too full then I'll have choose some garments to take to the opshop (Rule 1). I'm using the space above the units to store works in progress and my pressing cloths, ham and sausage. If I have more WIPs than will fit I wont allow myself to start any new projects untill I finish some (Rule 2).

Buying a storage unit freed up my drawers so that I could sort through my existing and newly acquired sewing notions and dedicate each drawer to one type. The above photo shows just some of the sewing things Tim's Grandma gave me and the photos below that show them sorted, with my existing items in my drawers. I have an entire drawer dedicated just to thread (LOVE those bobbin trays!), one for trims, bias, ribbons and lace, and one for elastics and zippers. I am yet to go through my 5 tins of buttons but there is a draw for those too when I'm feeling up to it.

I had been hoarding two bags of fabric scraps thinking that one day they might come in use. They had to go, along with three more bags of slightly larger fabric scraps and fabrics I knew I'd never use. The only scraps I'll allow myself to keep from now on are those big enough to make another garment or bias binding from (Rule 3). I'll be taking my scraps to kinders/schools or textile recyclers more often. I wont be making a rule around fabric purchases - I'd only break it.

On my sewing table I keep all my paper patterns, although I don't think it's a long term solution. Under the table is one shopping bag where I will keep all "to fix" garments. If the bag gets full I'll have to either fix stuff (no thanks!) or consider whether some garments need to be refashioned, recycled or opshopped (Rule 4).

I like the minimalist look but I have hoarding tendencies. I'm so glad my sewing space is back under control and all of my mess has a place to call home.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Simplicity 1544: Short Sleeve Shirt for Tim

After making Tim three Negroni's, two of which I hacked to include a collar stand and button plackets, it was time to try a different pattern. Hopefully one that "had it all".

The Simplicity 1544 shirt has pockets, back yokes, collar and stand, button plackets and placket cuffs. But I'd bought some gorgeous shirting from Tessuti with a short sleeves shirt in mind so I needed to make a shorter sleeve. Unsurprisingly, creating a short sleeve is 100% easier than hacking button plackets and collar bands etc. Phew! I simply measured the Negroni short sleeve and marked it on the Simplicity sleeve pattern.

I made a muslin from some yucky poly striped fabric that made Tim look like he stole the Banana's In Pajamas shirt. This was my first time making a muslin that I didn't hope to make wearable. It was incredibly liberating being able to make something up so fast and with so little care for the finishing's. No finished seams, clipped curves, or pretty top stitching here. It took me just 45 minutes to sew it up! 

From the muslin we decided that the fit was fine except for needing to take a small amount of width from the sleeve and shortening it a lot. I took 4" off the Negroni sleeve length, created a 1" hem, and then folded it outward 1" and tacked it down to create a cuff look. I also took 1/4" from the sleeve width grading to nothing at the shoulders. The only other changes I made were to omit the yoke tab, and additional country style top stitching.

The fit of this shirt is definitely a looser around the torso than the Negroni Shirts but that's fine for casual summer shirt. For a more formal or business wear shirt you could easily add some back darts where most of the excess room is. Next time I make the shirt, probably a long sleeve, I'll fold out a little more width in the sleeves as well.

The instructions were reasonably clear and easy to follow. There's no suggestion to flat fell the seams. Instead the instructions have you overclock the edges of the shoulder seams and then turn them inside for top stitching. I also did this down the sleeve and side seams.  

The collar stand and collar are sewn on very similar to the Archer shirt, but the button bands are both wide separate pattern pieces that are interfaced, attached to the body,  folded inwards and then top stitched down. The hem is created before the button band and then the band bottoms are sewn wrong sides out and then turned inwards so that they are even with the hem. I quite liked this process but they do create very thick button bands.

I absolutely loved working with this fabric. It was sturdy and forgiving. The button holes and top stitching went in like a dream. Summer is officially over but I hope we have a few warm days left so that Tim has the chance to wear his new shirt and I can get some more wear out of all the dresses!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Simplicity 2154 Pussy Bow Blouse

I really like the Pussy Bow Blouse look. Strangely I've only made one bow blouse before - Gertie's bow tie blouse. I wear that blouse a bit but can sometimes find it restrictive around my neck so I liked the idea of trying out a pattern with a lower neckline. I bought Simplicity 2154 in a spotty sale, sold on the idea of getting a cardigan and a skirt in the same pattern envelope.

I cut the pattern in a size 12 from a stunning Black cotton voile from The Cloth Shop which has a pattern woven through it. I love the fabric, it's interesting while still being a solid colour. I really need more solid colour tops to wear with patterned skirts.

The instructions were reasonably easy to follow, but there were quite a few more steps than I expected and it ended up taking a couple of afternoons to sew up. The facings are bias tape which is sewn over, and under, the collar. The thickness around the neck does make the collar and bow sit a bit chunkily, despite trimming and clipping into the neck seam.

I used a normal, non-lapped invisible zip purely because I'm more comfortable with this style. I do aim to to sew some lapped zipper this year, though.

The instructions state to add a button and thread loop but no detail is provided on how to make the loop. I used a tutorial Tessuti recently posted to make the button loop; the video is fantastic! I will definitely be making more button loops in the future. Tiny hook and eyes at the back neckline can some times be a nuisance to open and close, and I often need a hand from Tim. 

Note that the bow is not a self-tie bow. It is gathered at the centre and then sewn on. I found it very difficult to gather up the bow and ended up doing this with a hand needle and thread. The thickness around the bow and neckline can be tricky to handle. 

The fit is slightly off, but not enough to bother me. There's room to go down a size all over next time, but I do like the comfort of the larger fit. I think the top looks good untucked with pants too.

This pattern has been made up a lot in the sewing blog world, and I'm not surprised. It's a fun, no-fuss blouse to wear. I will get heaps of wear out of this one and may make another in the future in a different colour. Perhaps white. I wore it work on Monday with my pocketless cord V1247. I would also like to make a few more of these skirts for myself before winter as they are great with tights.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Bluegingerdoll Alicia Shorts

I pattern tested the Bluegingerdoll Alicia Shorts which were recently released as part of the "A team" collection. I really like shorts, in particular high waisted shorts that flare out at the leg and finish mid thigh. Based off the line drawings I adore these shorts.

I made up a size 12 in some slightly stretchy blue and white striped twill fabric from GJ's. I love how the fabric looks on this pattern. Very summery (speaking of Summer, please come back!)

The instructions are clear and the shorts came together incredibly quickly as there are no tricky closures (just an invisible zip) or any pockets or belt loops to construct. I think belt loops would be a sweet addition however so you can keep a belt secure around the waist.

The fit around the waist and hips is spot on and I love the look of my shorts on the hanger. Unfortunately, I don't love the way they fit around the crotch. There seems to be excessive fabric around the front region which is being pulled every which way and bunches up as I walk around. The crotch curve seems like it fits well but I wonder if I dropped the crotch lower it could help the fabric sit better at the front.

Above and below is how the shorts sit after walking around for a few seconds. They really bunch up and the resulting look is very different to how they look when smoothed down.

Overall, I love the style of the shorts, the fabric and the fit around the waist but, sadly, I'm a little disappointed about the front fit on me. 

I received the Alicia Shorts pattern for free, in exchange for pattern testing. 

Friday, 6 February 2015

Nat's Miette Skirt

I've just given my sister a Tilly and the buttons Miette Skirt after saying I would make it about 2 months ago. Thankfully there is still some summer left to wear it.

first made the made up a miette skirt in 2013. It was one of my very first sewn garments. I remember it taking a while to sew but coming out lovely and giving me a huge confidence boost. I wore it a lot for about 6 months. I made up another skirt for myself and one for Nat in black drill with green contrast ties around the same time. Over 12 months later, I found myself making another version for Nat in a gorgeous denim chambray from the Cloth Shop, and finding it to be one of the fastest and simplest garments I've sewn in months.

Sewing Nat's Miette took no more than an afternoon, plus a tv show to hand sew down the waistband facing. On my first attempts at this skirt I followed the detailed online tutorials exactly. This time I glanced at the 1 page checklist and, if I'm honest, I could have easily sewn the skirt without it. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, I'm just quite shocked to find something I found tricky to now seem ridiculously easy.

I don't wear my Miette's much anymore, as they're a bit faded and ratty, but I suddenly feel the need for another one just like this. Nat wear's her miette's around her hips so I cut her the same size that I would wear around my waist and it fits us both perfectly. But, of course, a wrap skirt is a lot more forgiving to size differences. Below is the same skirt but tied around the waist. Hmmm, yes, I may need a matching one!

There are plenty of similar vintage patterns out there for a nice A-line wrap skirt but for a beginner I absolutely recommend this pattern purely for the instructions alone.

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.