Saturday, October 28, 2017

October Slow Sewing - and What I Found Out.

October  has been a strange sort of month - both on the personal front and the sewing front.   The personal front is not that interesting to write about - just that our transition from a secure contract to full self employment has been a little tedious.  So I settled on a simple hand sewn skirt for the month of October, thinking that slow sewing Alabama Chanin style would sooth my soul.

I found a picture that rather appealed to me as it is geometric.  I happen to like geometric patterns.


The randomness of the shapes I thought would work well with cotton jersey, because it is not easy to cut straight.  Some easy hand stitching, nice and relaxing, and voila, a nice me made Alabama Chanin  inspired skirt.

I notice that my inspiration design had stencilled stripes applied to the background fabric.  So I decided to draw on some stripes with a wax dye crayon. I then ironed them to fix the dye (with of course paper on top of the wax to protect the iron and sop up residue).

Then I set to work stitching on shapes.  A nice cuppa, some hand sewing, should be bliss.

Only it wasn't.  I soon got very, very, bored.  I have always like hand sewing and embroidery, but this was just too basic for me.  However, I thought this was just a mood due to life stresses. So I thought that I should proceed and a stitched  quite a few patches on the front of the skirt:

At this stage I thought I should hold it up and admire my handiwork and think how great this will look as a casual skirt.

So I held it up (in front of a mirror of course, so I could see what it looked like) and tried to like it, I really did.  I tried hard.

Only I did not like it.  I did not like the rustic, first time I have ever attempted hand sewing look.  I know this look works for some people, but I just did not like it.   I think it just looked too handhewn and casual for me.

I thought about this for a while, and decided that yes, I do like the Alabama Chanin  look, but really, I prefer a much more polished look.  I think I would like to revisit a hand worked technique on cotton jersey, but in a much more complex and refined way. I am quite capable of that - beading and lots of work. And to only attempt to do a small amount every day to relax, and not as an activity in itself.    This sort of slow but quick handhewn sewing is just not me.   I like my needlework and embroidery to be detailed and exquisite.  Even if it takes ages to finish.  So I shall revisit the Alabama Chanin techniques outlined  in her book "Studio Sewing and Design" at some future point in time and aim for something a little more detailed.  I also like her takes on  classic garments - things like jackets for instance, that are hand sewn and sometimes embroidered.

I also had to think about my personal style.  I think with sewing, we can get swayed by all the wonderful ideas floating around the sewing community.  And it is good to try a few of them, because you can get stuck in a bit of a sewing and style rut.  But sometimes, we just stray away from our core likes, and forget what really suits us.

And really, what suits me?  I think  at heart I am a classic style type.  And I really should make sure that I stick to a classic base for all my sewing.   I can push the edges, so long as I don't go over the sides in the future!

That's it for now, back with my next mishap story (yes, there is another!) soon...

Sarah Liz

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Back Blogging: The Saved Top, Artwear August.

Hello Everyone,

Yes, I am looking pretty pleased with myself. That's because this little knit top was a save from a garment that I made that I did not really like, and that at the last moment I cut a hole in while trimming back the neckband seam.  Yes, quite accidentally, but deep down I was quite pleased because I would not have to wear a top I did not really like.

The original plan was to make a Marcy Tilton knit top, Butterick 6218:

Image result for butterick 6218

Image result for butterick 6218

This was also my challenge top for " Make a Garment a Month Artwear August ".

(For those of you that don't know, Make a Garment a Month is a monthly sew-a-long that I facilitate both on Facebook and Instagram. ).

I planned to use a leftover piece of black combed cotton jersey, a small piece of purple combed cotton jersey living in the stash, and I purchased a small piece of midnight blue combed cotton jersey ( all combed cotton from Spotlight).

I made the colour block version of the top.  I cut size 8  - and the finished measurements for that were 40 inches bust - in a knit!!!  The neck shape was really strange - a semi circle front and back.  I always make sure the neck fits over my head - and test the band before I sew it on as well.  Let's say it was a firm fit, unlike the look in the photo.  Maybe this was because I cut a small size, but I have never had a problem like this before.  As it was, I found the top way too voluminous and didn't really like the tail at the back.  I was relieved to finish it, and was trimming away the excess fabric after finishing the neckband the pattern's way - and I hate this method - when, snip, I accidentally cut the fabric of the garment.  

Secretly relieved that the top was now ruined, so I would not have to wear it, I pondered what to do next.  You see, I hate wasting fabric.  I looked at the pieces, and thought I could recut the front and keep the asymetrical look and button band. I recut the back out of the rest of the black leftover fabric, along with the sleeves. I used my favourite T-shirt pattern, Kwik Sew 3766.

 I added blue sleeve bands, recut from the top  to tie the garment together and make a three quarter sleeve for spring and autumn wearing.  

I also became very familiar with my coverstitch with this garment, using it wherever I could.  Except the new neckband, cut from polycotton ribbing.  I overlocked this on, and then zig zagged the seam down.  I am not yet confident about doing neckbands with the coverstitch, I will need to do some practice runs first.

Close up of mock opening :

Inside the hem - narrow two stitch coverstitch - and I managed to even cover the hem!

Sleeve band - I used the coverstitch for the seamline double top-stitching effect and for the hem:

The buttons - five happy buttons, I always re-use the buttons from my husband's shirts.

And now, pictures of me wearing it, as usual, a Front, Side and Back view:

I think this is a smart looking knit top, much better for me because it is much more my style.  Only, I would not wear a longer sleeve top like this with thongs - I took all my back blogging picture on the same day, and it was quite warm.  I just wanted to get the photos done, and as you all probably realise, I only show the garment, not how it would be worn, or "styled" as they say now, in my everyday life.  I really should start taking some real life pictures of me made garments being worn.

That's it for now, next week I will be back to show you what I did with the rest of the fabric along with leftover pieces.  

See you then...

Sarah Liz

Sunday, October 8, 2017

My New Floral Trousers - New Look 6216 again.

Hello everyone,

I know I said I was going to back blog a selection of knit tops I have made, but I changed my mind because I have made another pair of trousers this week.  I wanted to blog them straight away and not put them on the back blog list as well.

I have wanted to make a pair of floral pants for about three years now, and had long ago stashed the fabric.  I decided it was time to actually make the things.  I had originally been inspired by a New Look Pattern:

This is an elastic waist pant with tapered leg, with or without ties.  I liked the ties, but it is really tedious trying to iron into gathers.  The side pockets are neither here nor there style wise, so I decided that I would use my TNT New Look elastic waist trouser pattern, New Look 6216:

I dare say it is exactly the same pattern with pocket and ankle modifications.  And I like the pockets in New Look 6216. 

The fabric is cotton sheeting, 240 wide.  It was purchased from Spotlight, for the grand sum of $9.99 per metre.  I got about 1.2 metres, so I have plenty left over for a skirt one day. 

Now, you would think that cotton sheeting would be easy to sew.  This piece wasn't.  I think it has some sort of finish on it because it rustles a bit.  Of course I had washed the fabric, but I think the finish is sort of designed to stay for a while.  I also think it was a very dense weave.  There was zero give in it - I could tell, when I did the pockets.  So, whether dense weave or a special finish, the end result was a piece of fabric that my needle (I used a sharp) did not want to penetrate easily. Sometimes it did, but often the fabric was resistant to piercing, and just pushed down into the feeddog.   And occasionally of course, this led to skipped stitches.  I just stitched back and forth to fix this problem.  Okay, not stellar sewing, but we home sewers have to solve these little problems. I am dead against perfectionism in sewing.  Problems arise and they have to be solved.  For a home garment, it really does not matter if the seam inside had problems - no one is going to know.  In any case, I did a false flat fell seam on the outer leg, so all looks good.  My overlocker also did not like this fabric. 

All that being said, and the pants now completed, I am really happy with them.

Before I show you the photos, just a note on fit.  Some of you commented that my trousers always fit nicely, and that my elastic waist pants do not look baggy. Well, when I use a dark fabric, they do not look baggy, because dark colours minimize any baggy oversized look. This pair are a lighter colour, and stiffer fabric, and as you can see, they are quite baggy.  Now, I am very thin through the legs, so I don't mind a bit of baggy volume - it gives the illusion of a shape.  Plus I can move in them.  And, being a straight figure type, I can wear almost any sort of trouser shape.  I am lucky that way. 

Anyway, the following photos will show lots of roominess!  But these will be my relaxing trousers, sort of a dressed up PJ pant!

I think it is floral trouser love - I just have to put up a few more photos!

That's it for now.  Next week I really will start showing you the knit tops. I am also playing around with my first attempts at patternmaking a bodice block.  This takes a lot of time and has to be fitted in around more pressing demands. But i n time I will share that with you too.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Back to Basics - Trousers. New Look 6216.

Hello everyone,

I took a week off blogging last week as I was not feeling well.  I have one of the autoimmune rheumatoid disorders, and from time to time have flares.  Probably why I was very tired and irritable when I was away - more so than usual.  Not only do you get pain and stiffness, but also cognitive interference - I could not remember how to thread one of my machines! My husband (who is a Medical Doctor and I often feel a bit like the female actor in Doc Marten!! ) even gave me sick leave the week before last.  I am improving this week and was able to work again. I guess this is one reason I have done the #sewphotohop challenge on Instagram - better to post that to sit there sore and sorry!  Normally I am too busy to do a daily challenge - I always fizzle in Me Made May, but have thought of a way to do this next year...

But I digress...back to sewing and these pants.

 Sewing was hard work, but I have managed to make two pairs of very simple elastic waist trousers. Boring as, and very simple but just right for a slightly befuddled mind and sore body to tackle.  A seam a day got a pair made each week.   I made a pair each of black cotton broadcloth and drill  trousers - fabric purchased from good old Spotlight.

These will be everyday basics for wearing at home.  You can do all your chores, sew in them, and look reasonable all at the same time.  A change of top and you can go out in them.

I used a pattern that I have made up before. New Look 6216. My navy broadcloth pair  are  still going strong and can be seen here.

 A basic pattern, pockets and elastic waist in a casing.  The pattern shows a drawstring, but I never bother with those because I wear tops over pants and don't want a lump over my tummy where the drawstring would tie up.  Or tails dangling, which always annoy me and end up getting caught in things.

I cut size 8 and these are plenty large enough on me. I didn't need to alter anything, except for shortening by 1inch/2 cm and by doing an underbottom fold.

So, I will just show you the photos, because there is so little to say about the making.

The first set of photos are the pants made in cotton broadcloth. I look rather unsmiling, but that was still when I was in my most unwell period:

And this set is of the black drill pants. With more smiles as I am starting to feel better.  Pain gone, just seedy and slow:

Well, that's it for this week, I am off to catch up with chores.  I also have lots of back blogs to post - oh, and one day, a post on my initial foray into pattern drafting.  More next week, but before I go, a taste of what's to come:

Bye for now

Sarah Liz

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Cardigan-ey sort of Jacket. New Look 6351.

Hello everyone,

It might be hard to believe from my smile in the photo above that I am tired and irritable, but in reality I am tired and irritable!  You see, I went away for a week, and I always find that

1/. You are flat out busy before you go away doing all the things that have to be done.

2/. You are flat out busy while you are away, in my case sometimes doing things that had to be done.

3/. You are flat out busy when you come back doing things that have to be done, plus all the catch up washing, plus get back to work.

4/. And sewing has to be even more fitted in around the edges of life, and while away has to, horrors, be stopped completely.

And, if that was not enough, I am an introvert and get very tired and irritable when doing a lot of things that make extroverts sing for joy.

So, I am tired and irritable!  And my photos are a little careworn looking - especially as I did not pay much attention to detail, having tired myself out cleaning up the back garden and carport and other jobs like that.  I just came in, threw on a new white tee, found some me made pants, and threw on the subject of this blog post, my new cardigan-ey sort of jacket.  And my hair is sort of a bit wild, after being worn under a hat. That's Saturday at my place, not a place of high glamour.

The pattern I used was New Look 6351:

 This had been lurking in my stash for at least two years, and I really wanted to make this up before it sort of went out of date.  As often happens with my stashed patterns.  Last year I made a muslin out of a woven fabric, and did not like the way it sat.  At the same time I also made a muslin out of some leftover soft polar fleece. That version sat a lot better.

I had a remnant of unbrushed poly-cotton fleece (Spotlight) and used this to make the jacket.  I cut size 10 around the shoulders and arms, and 12 for the body.  I added 1.5 inches to the bottom of the jacket as it was just a little too cropped for my liking.  I added 1.5 inches to the sleeves - I had to do this by adding a small extra band to the sleeve - but I have not taken a photo of this.

The pattern was pretty basic as far as sewing was concerned, so I added a few details of my own - namely, false flat fell seam at the front, and I also top-stitched the collar turn back, back neck and front.  It just looks more finished.  The pattern suggested understitching to the corner of the collar, but this would just have looked awful when turned back, so I understitched the back neck edge only before topstitching.

Inside, I just caught with a few stitches in the ditch  the front facings down with a few stitches in the ditch   at a couple of points down the front.  I also tacked the neck facing down at shoulders and at the centre back - the facing wanted to flop out at the back, and as I had a back seam, I just did a neat stitch in the ditch to anchor it.  I overlocked all seams and edges, but found that my overlocking just did not look fantastic around the armholes, so I bound them with nylon raschel lace.  I added a hook and eye closure to the front as suggested by the pattern, but it just kept unhooking itself, so it has now been removed.  I think I would use a loop and button for a closure if I made this again.

As for the back seam - see above and below, I topstitched either side of the seam to hold the seam in place.  I then coverstitched the hem.  Now, I am still getting used to the coverstitch, and while I carefully measured the hem and tacked in place, I noticed that I had gone on a bit of a wavy ride.  Now, normally I am always manipulating fabric as I sew, and do a lot by eye/hand co-ordination and not by measurement.  And because I was thinking measurement, I forgot to roll the centre of the hem down - so it measures less inside, but looks great on the outside when sewn. Sewing is often about little bits of pushing and pulling, but they don't teach you that in the books. So, I did it the way we are taught - measure. And this was the result:

 I hummed and hahhed about this for a while, then decided that I could live with it.  I knew that undoing a finished and locked coverstitch hem would take quite some doing and in the doing I would likely make a hole.  I decided against that, and as this hem does ride up quite symetrically (see, I told you I measured perfectly inside!) into the seam, that I would call this a deliberate design feature.  The sleeves are also a bit wobbly for the same reason, but as I have already mentioned, I forgot to take picture of the sleeves.

And, for a hack jacket made out of a $2.40 remnant probably worn for chores and for quickly popping out to shops, bank, etc, I am quite pleased.  You have to learn new techniques on garments - yes, you can do samples, but until you work on a real garment with real seams and lumps and bumps, you are not going to know what to do.  I have mastered coverstitching hems on t shirts, but going over  a bulky centre back seam is new to me. So, I have learnt something - all for the price of a pattern, some thread, and a $2.40 remnant.

I nearly forgot -   I should show you some pictures of the jacket - as usual, the back - (and as I don't have a stylist or photographer, I usually find my clothes have moved in between running back and forth to reset the timer on the camera )- the side, and front.  Unfortunately, the collare rever's do not show much in the photo, dark navy blue being no more helpful in showing photo detail than black.

Before I go,  I know this little learner garment will be much tougher than a little cardigan I bought last year that I thought would be okay for the garden and chores. Well, it's already got a hole in it, after about two wears.

So, wavy hem and all, I have a little me made wardrobe winner, I think.

Got to look on the bright side, even when you are tired and irritable...

That's it for now, take care everyone,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Bra Break from Sewing - The Watson Bra

The SLSS household has not been well this week.  I did not even feel like sewing a garment.  I had to do something though, so I decided to play around with making another bra.  And unfortunately I made it in a black fabric, so the photos are a little dark and do not easily show detail.  And in keeping with the 70's retro vibe of the Watson Bra, I have changed my photo to black and white.

Earlier this year I made a bra using a Kwik Sew pattern.  This was more an exercise in learning the techniques needed to make a bra.  Unlike some sewers, I actually have to practice a few times in order to understand what to do.  I can't just blindly follow instructions as I am not an aural.  I have to immerse and understand from inside out what to do and why.

I also need to understand principles behind what I do.  It helps to explain the process.

In due course, as I become more proficient in both principle and process in bra making, I shall share more here.  For now, though, this is the bra I made:

This is a wirefree bralette pattern.  It is to be made from stretch fabrics - with quite a lot of stretch, such as lycra blends.  The patternmaker suggests that the bralette has a forgiving fit, due to the use of quite stretchy fabrics.  This made me wonder how much support this little bralette had.  Some people who have made it claim it supports nicely, others say it is not so supportive.

The front band is interlined with a firm tricot to give some support.  The back band is powernet or stretch lycra blend.

I looked at the construction notes and could see that the two inner cups just met at the centre, and the seams of the cups themselves were just stitched down under the cups. This made the front corner of the bralette untidy looking.  I also know (from previous reading about bramaking) that a plush casing that wires go through can be used to offer a little more support.  I had some casing like stuff - not the proper plush casing, but something that would do -  in my stash, so I experimented with that to cover the seams and to cover the front part of the bra on the inside:

As this is only a test and fitting bra, I used up bits in my stash that were odds and ends.  I found a white elastic that I used on the neck and arm edges.  I had no inclination to keep changing bobbins - usually I would, but my head cold got the better of me - so I used black throughout. Still, it does show you the stitching process, which is two fold.

(and the white marks you see are my marking pen marks - they erase with water very easily).

The back is fastened with a three hook and eye set:

I could write a book already on fitting a bra pattern, but I will keep it simple. Basically, there are a number of different sizing  systems - U.S.A has one, Europe a different one, United Kingdom, different again, and Australia has it's own as well. Plus there are a number of different ways of measuring.  I don't get too stressed out about this,  I just measure, and quickly do a muslin - which again, is not too involved:

I thought that 34B was about right, and so the muslin confirmed.  I did think I needed to alter on the outer curve.  I also thought that the seam allowances had been miscalculated near the strap - so I added a bit more. The xxxx's mark the spots.

It's a bit unglamourous, and so is the attempt at seeing whether this would fit.  I tie the elastic round my neck in a halter fashion, and then sort of hold things up, round or together to see whether things are about right.  

As it so happens, the fit is about right:

As far as fit when worn is concerned, it could be more supportive.  I think I will use a firmer fabric for the cups next time.  I also think that I need to pull the elastic in more firmly around the outer arm curve - the pattern instructions were a little vague here - just a gentle stretch, whatever that means.  I will also use a firmer elastic.  I'll probably take out a small amount at the side too as I am a straight frame figure.  I could also add more to the armcurve area. The casing under the breasts is certainly a good idea.

So, now I will wear this as a summer time after work lounging bra, just to get the feel of the fit. Adn then, when I feel a little more inclined, make myself a "for real" version of this bralette. And I will look at finishing the exposed seams in a more RTW fashion.

That's it for now,

Sarah Liz