Saturday, July 22, 2017

Winter Warmth Knit Dress, based on Burda 8998.

It's been a couple of weeks since I last blogged. Suffice it to say, real life needed attention, and there has been little  time for blogging or social media.

Whenever I have a full plate of responsibilities, I tend to choose easy sewing projects.  And when we had a cold snap (it has been quite cold for Newcastle) and concurrently Spotlight had a sale of a knit that I have been watching all winter, I put the "easy sewing" and "knit I want" and "it's cold and I want a warm dress" together and decided to make a warm, woolly looking knit dress.

I have always wanted to knit a dress, but I don't think I will get around to that for about a decade yet, so this dress also addressed that reality.

Before I continue with this post about the dress, though, I just want to reply to some comments that some of you left on my last post:

This was a Burda Miss Petite pattern.  I am a petite, and Anne asked if this pants fitted me well.  The answer is that they do, much better than the normal sizing.  And Catherine and Irene mentioned products to stop Fraying.  I have tried Fray Check, and Fray Stoppa, and found that they washed out!  So, in places that don't matter, such as the flaw found inside the pants pocket, I just dab on clear nail polish.  I'll try other brands and see if I can find a better quality product.  Ebay often seems to have all sorts of sewing goodies, so I will look there, instead of Spotlight.

Back to the post:

The fabric I used was a very spongy and thick knit, a mix of polyester, acrylic and wool. It was originally priced at $49.99, which was a bit too much for me, but when it was reduced to half price, I swooped.

As it was so dense, I knew it would be tricky to sew:

Not easy to see, but I hope the above two pictures give an idea of the loft of this fabric!

I looked through my patterns for something simple to make and settled on this Burda pattern:

It's a loose tunic top, and I thought that it would work as a dress.  I chose size 10, with finished bust measurement of 38inches.  I thought that with the bulky seams, and with wearing things underneath, this would give me the fit I wanted - not too tight, not too loose.  I just extended the side seams of the pattern to dress length and added side splits (which were also on the tunic).  I always add a button at my side splits for days when I am more vigorous in my strides:

Now, this was a really tricky fabric to sew.  I decided to use my big machine and used a small zig zag stitch - there is no way my overlocker would have sewn two layers of this together.   And hems were done by the same technique.  The fabric was naughty, and really wanted to walk down the length of the stitch of course, but I countered that by holding the underlayer taut.  And it wanted to walk sideways too, so I had to really push, pull, and hold in all directions at once to get a reasonable seam.  Not perfect, but reasonable.  Seams had to be redone, and the neckband I did a couple of times to get it looking neat.  In the end, the seam allowances were tacked down, the band was tacked on and sewn on, and then I folded it down and stitched in the ditch from the right side - and that was tacked down too!  But I got the inside of the band looking passably neat.  Not perfect, but good enough:

(I also made the neckband much wider than the pattern stipulated - this chunky knit needed a chunky sort of neckband).

Anyway, after a few frustrations, and a little more time than I expected - but not nearly as much as handknitting a dress :) - I am now the proud owner of a smart, warm, woolly knit dress.  I love it!  Even if I am not smiling much - I am really tired today after finishing the quarterly tax business yesterday. Mind you, the photo's turned out a bit fuzzy too, so maybe it doesn't matter.  Anyway, you will get the idea of the dress, I hope.  I've kept the pictures small, because they are too blurry otherwise.

Now, I purchased 1.45metres of this knit, and there was a bit left over - next week I will tell you what I did with that....

That's it for now,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Sorry Sewing Saga Success - Burda 6889.

I managed to make these trousers this week.  It doesn't take me long to make trousers, because I sort of know what to do automatically now.  I often sew in the morning and evening before and after the days activities as well, so if I am familiar with the construction of a simple garment it is a fairly quick process.

(Before I continue, the pictures on this post are quite small - partly because there are quite a few, and partly because when I make them larger, the resolution was very poor).

I decided to make up a Burda Miss Petite pattern.  I do find that most trouser patterns don't fit me well, and look a bit woeful from the rear end.  As I am a petite I wondered if this range of patterns would work better for my shape.  I chose Burda 6889.

I chose the tapered pant version. As this is my official July Make a Garment a Month garment, I also chose a piece of black corduroy (from Spotlight) that had been washed and stashed some years ago - our them this month is Seasonal Stashbusting.

The pattern has quite different measurements for this range - a larger waist to hip ratio, and a very different hip and crotch shape.  I chose size 10  and widened the waist to size 12.  As many trouser patterns now sit below the waist, with no waistline therefor marked, I had no idea where the pants where going to sit.  I raised the rise at the back and front and added to the waist height - less at the sides.  This seemed to work, although I may have added a bit much.  I shall wear the pants and see what they feel like - I have to admit they feel really comfortable, and I like a high waist on my pants as otherwise they tend to slide down my slim hips, and I have to yank them up  frequently.

As it so happens, I was probably a bit generous in the waist measurement because I wanted these trousers to fit over layers of tops in winter.  So, I added some elastic to the back of the waistband, something I like to do in any case as this allows for a bit more give with movement.  I also had to widen the waistband in order to accomodate the elastic - I did this by reducing the seam allowances.  So the trousers are also a little higher than planned because of the wider waistband

I was happily advanced with sewing, when I noticed a flaw in the pocket bag.  I blobbed some clear nail polish on it - you can see the nail polish mark and flaw in the picture below:

Of course, like all sewers, I grapple with perfection sometimes, and I was a bit cross about this. Especially as I had checked the fabric for flaws and couldn't see any obvious ones. But then this is black, and it does get bits of fluff on it, so I obviously had not noticed.  So after a bit of self talk I put in the zip, and added the waistband  - with elastic in the back:



Happy with my pants, I then did the hems. I finished one - machine hemmed.  I finished the second and noticed a piece of fluff inside just above the hem  I flicked it away, or tried to.  But you know what I am going to tell you - I found another flaw.  Which was not hidden inside.

I blobbed some nail polish on it and decided that perhaps, just perhaps, I could live with it.  It was late, so I thought it was time to call it a day.


I woke up, decided that I could just not live with it.  I made a cup of tea,  and went to my pattern and traced the bottom of the legs of the pants.  I worked out where the hem should go, and then drew a line, and then did a mirror image of the leg extension below the line:

Then I thought I really should check that there were no more flaws in the trousers. should have done that before drawing the alterations, but didn't think of it.  It was early...

After three checks with a bright torch I decided the rest of the pants were okay.  I checked the remains of my fabric, and found that down one end near the selvedge were a few flaws, about three inches in. This was the end I cut my pocket bags from.  Most of the pants were cut the other end, so they were fine.  I made sure that I avoided the remaining flaws and cut out the new trouser bottoms:

Sewed them on, overlocked them, turned them up, and topstitched the outside:

So now my trousers have a designed hem - in fact, I really like this finish and have kept my alteration pattern pieces in case I want to do this again (if I use this pattern again).

There is also a plus in that I can fold this hem back into a little cuff if I want to.

So, quite a saga, but success in the end.  I thought I would share what I had done, just in case any of you ever have a similar problem.

Anyway, I now have a nice pair of pants, with lovely pockets, which are comfortable to wear and that I can live with :). And corduroy is not cheap, so it was worth the effort of fixing these.

And they are easy to move in - that rise is not too high after all, and I like plenty of ease in a woven. These are casual, corduroy trousers, after all.

So, I am happy with these - and they fill a gap in my wardrobe.

I'm not sure what my next project will be - I am still getting over this one.

That's it for now, back another week,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Finally, a New Direction

New directions come in many forms, and often they are inter related.   In my case, it is that my husband is changing direction with his career, and will be self employed only, instead of having a steady income from public hospital work.  Of course, he is at an age and stage where he should have a lighter  workload.  He has built up a medical and palliative unit in a local hospital.  But of course  his change of course also affects me.    On one hand, I am quite please about it, because we may finally have time to sort out a lot of things that need sorting out.  On the other hand, will my sewing time decrease???  Because I will have to increase my practice work to make sure the income is there.  In short, manage the business properly and get the accounts out.  This is not Really my Thing at All. My previous lives have been 1/ Nursing. 2/ Degree in Creative Arts.  3/ Degree in Psychology.  Clerical work  bores me to tears, I am much more interested in the big picture and concepts.  I have to play all sorts of games to get myself to do any sort of admin type of work!

So, with a change in the big picture of life, I have decided it is time to perhaps change my life a bit as well.  So, I am tossing out my old study books, which was a bit strange at first, but now it feels right.  I certainly do not buy the Kondo claim that you toss first and then the new will be shown to you.  I am too logical for that.  I have been thinking about what to do next, and now I am investigating avenues of interest. While I have not yet made up my mind (but I am working on it) , I do know that these books will not be needed again:

So, slowly I am taking books up to a quirky little second hand bookshop, which just happens to be opposite Spotlight.  And the owner of said quirky shop says he will find a good home for them.

It's strange how long it can take you to decide to offload, but it starts to feel good after.

The other thing I have done is to review my sewing and style direction.  I am starting to be aware that I really only need casual clothes now, but I want to look stylish at the same time.  In my own way, of course.  I also mostly like to wear natural fibres and comfortable styles.  I have also  figured out that most commercial patterns are just way too much not my shape.  Indies often even more so, geared as they often are to pear shaped figures - fair enough, since many people have this type of figure. Finally it dawned on me that I should explore Japanese patterns, as Japanese ladies are petite (short) and have straight figure types.  I have long tried to get hold of a publication called Mrs. Style Book, but it has been very difficult to order in Australia.  But there is a wonderful lady in Japan who now carries this publication:

The magazine is written in Japanese but is very logical in layout and numbering. Most of the patterns are self drafted, but again, as numbers are universal, language is not an issue.  And if you know how to construct a garment, then sewing instructions are not necessary.  Anyway, to cut a long story short, I love all the outfits in this magazine. They are easy to wear, and will be flattering to my shape.  And they look good.  So I will be making things from this publication in due course.

For those of you who are interested in sourcing this book, the name of the shop is  

I have also subscribed to Vogue Collections, just to keep abreast of the trends:

Many of the fashions are far too over the top, but some are really quite wearable. And you can pick up trends such as pattern and colour, and then raid your stash for the ancient fabric that never got made years ago when it was first in...

And I really enjoy reading it.  I used to subscribe to fashion mags in my youth, but real life and other priorities for spending took over.

As for sewing, I have hit my mid winter slump.  Partly because it is winter, and I hate the cold, and partly because I have been making pants muslins that have not worked out well.  However, I think I am now working out what some of the problems are.  So, I have made a toile today of Burda 6889:

Now, this pattern is not the regular size range, but is sized for Petites. The crotch shape is a little different, and the hip curve is much flatter.  Just maybe this might work:

And yes, it does!  As you can see, the foundation is quite straight through the hip - just like me.  I did add to the waist, because I am still straighter than a regular petite.  And lo, I put it on, and it is "good enough".   Which means a lot better than ordinary sizes!

So, I have found a piece of corduroy in the stash, already washed, and will be making these up as my July garment for the Make a Garment a Month Challenge - find us on Instagram, use #magamsewalong@sarahlizsewstyle.

And feel my mid winter sewing slump slightly dissipating...

Bye for now, need to go and cut these out ...

Sarah Liz

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