2020 – already!?

This is the post that should have greeted you at least a week and a half ago!  😀

Well Christmas went fast this time, didn’t it?  Presents wrapped, food ready, party clothes prepared…  And now we’re a week into January and I feel I haven’t quite touched base yet!  The visitors went home just before New Years to celebrate with their friends, leaving us oldies to drink the rest of the wine and eat the remaining mince pies on our own.  I had grand plans to do some sewing, but they never got started!

I have decided that this year I really do need to actually do some of the things I’ve been saying for years that I will do.  Like make that *^&%££%*&) coat!  Correction, THOSE coats!  (I have a pile of patterns I want to make, and the fabric is sitting in the stash.  We all know how much space coatings take up, so I’m very keen to get them out!)  And join in with other online activities.  And learn something new.  And crack on with the stashbusting.  Further to that I bought myself, at a special price, two quilt patterns for my birthday.

Quilts??  I hear you gasp!  I’m not talking traditional quilts here, although they’re very nice and all.  They’re just not me.  I think it’s more the patchwork side that’s not me than the quilting.  But I do love the modern quilts, all geometric and dramatic and bold.  So when I saw a new quilt pattern on Instagram, I sort of fell…  Soo – I have made a patchwork quilt top, still need to finish the rest of it, and I’ll show you all that later.

On the joining in side, Stephanie at Sea of Teal has launched a project to Sew Your Wardrobe Basics.  It does what it says on the tin, to act as encouragement to get those “unexciting” projects sewn.  I say unexciting, but when you’ve made a new pair of jeans, it’s pretty exciting!  This month’s theme is denim and I really needed to get more jeans made.  After last year’s slim leg Ash jeans debacle, I’m ready to give them another shot, and hopefully this time I’ve got the sizing right…

So here we go, into the new year with promise and purpose!  See you on the other side!

 

The Misses of 2019

To be fair, there haven’t been that many items I made this year that haven’t made the grade, for whatever reason.  So this might be a short list!  Of course, if the project was that bad a miss, there won’t be photos, or many, and maybe not even a blog post…

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The first project that springs to mind is the black and white gingham top made back in January.  I have not worn that top.  At all.  In fact, I cut it up and turned it into a cute little dress for a 3 year old.  It was a case of wrong fabric, wrong pattern and wrong adjustment.

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Second is another top, and another case of wrong fabric for the pattern.  I’d thought the Kabuki Tee from Paper Theory would look good in viscose.  I was wrong.  And the pattern wasn’t for me, I had liked the colour and thought I could get away with the pattern because of the colour, but it felt all wrong to wear.  It felt like it was wearing me, rather than the other way around.  It’s another project that’s been cut up to make something for a cute little girl.

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That’s the only photo I have of me wearing the top.  And that’s only because all my other clothes were in the wash after coming home from 3 weeks away!

And the only other fail I can think of is the pair of Ash Jeans I made at the end of November, in the wrong size!  But are they really a fail?  They made up really well and looked good, and I managed to sell them to someone who (hopefully) was the right size.  So I’ve bought replacement denim and plan to make another pair as soon as.

It was at this try-on stage that I realised things weren’t going as well as I thought.

Honestly, they’re the only projects I can think of that fit the fail bill, I seem to have had good luck this year!!  How about you?  Has it been a plus or a minus year for your projects?  I do enjoy looking back over the year at everyone’s projects, and seeing how you all feel about the projects you’ve put your time and effort into.

Top 5 Hits of 2019

I can’t quite believe it’s that time of year again, December, christmas, and the time to review what has worked well, and what didn’t.  The end of another sewing year, this is when I start looking at all those projects that I’d intended to make and haven’t quite got round to.  Joining the Socialists in reliving the best and “worst” projects of the year, I still start on a high!  Of course!

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There have been many highs this year, my favourite pattern has been the Paper Theory Zadie.  Although I’ve “only” made two jumpsuits from it, I have loved wearing them so much.  I’ve actually started making a fancy Zadie for my Christmas outfit!  I don’t usually bother with a specific, purpose made Christmas outfit, but this year, I’ve decided to give it a go.  So my Zadie jumpsuits are definitely on the top 5 hits list!

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The Style Arc Teddy Designer Pants are another pattern that’s hit the mark with me, and having made 3 pairs this year, I really can say it’s a fabulous pattern.  I always get compliments when I wear them.

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black teddy 3

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For Daughter No2, the best loved projects have been the skirts make using 117 from Burda February 2017, again, used three times.  I have a pile of fabrics waiting to be used for this pattern, so I know this is a hit!  Two of the skirts made for Daughter No2 were in summer fabrics and she’s loved them.  Now she has a canvas print that’s good for winter and she loves that too.

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Skirt 117 from February Burda 2017

I haven’t been able to make much for Daughter No1 this year, it’s tricky when we don’t get to see each other that often, so fitting is tricky.  I have, however, managed to make her the trousers so so wanted earlier in the year, although I don’t have blogable photographs of them yet.  But I know she loves them, and when she wore them to work, she got many complients.  And I could have had many orders!

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1987 Vogue 1199, much altered!!

Last has to be my corduroy jacket, the most recent of a whole string of jackets made from the jacket pattern 116 from April Burda 2009.  Everyone loves the colour so much, it’s quite unique in a sea of black, grey and beige in the winter!   Until I get to make my Peppernoot and Tosti and Sienna Maker Jacket and nameless other Burda patterns, this is my favourite winter jacket so far!

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Next up will be those projects that, for some reason or other, didn’t quite make the grade.

 

 

 

 

Reclaimed

A year or two ago, I made a pair of Stride pants from the Merchant and Mills Workbook.  I’d made the largest size and shortened them a bit, but I cannot remember just how much right now.  The pattern was fine and instructions did the job, but I never liked the finished trousers.  I was really disappointed because I’d used a beautiful piece of black and blue plaid wool from Fabworks.  I was annoyed that such a lovely piece of fabric was now a very unliked pair of trousers.  I never even took photos of those pants!

So why didn’t I like them?  They were too wide, too floppy and the pleated front with waistband on the natural waist just didn’t suit me.  And I love wide, floppy trousers!!  So I wore them around the house for the first year, last winter I didn’t wear them at all, and this winter I decided I’d put them in the adjust or remake pile.  I had 6 pairs of wool trousers to make two sizes smaller before I got to these, and at that point I had no ideas of how to make these better.

Then, last weekend, when I was clearing the piles to make way for a visitor, I had a brainwave after dropping a piece of fabric.  It was the toile for Burda trousers 107 08/2019.  I’d traced the 44 – after making the 42 in the last pair of Burda trousers and finding them to be just a little on the small side!  But the toile for these was way too big!  So I needed to go down a size, definitely, and shorten the leg by 3-4cm to get the finished cuff to sit in the right place (to look the same as the model in the magazine).  The adjustments to the pattern were already made & I thought I had the right fabric to make a proper pair.

But – I was sort of reluctant to cut that fabric – see previous post!  The pattern can be made in fabrics with or without stretch, and the one in the magazine is made in ponte (that’s a good idea for next time!)  Back to that brainwave – could there be enough fabric in the Strides to be able to recut this pattern??  So I got cracking with the seam ripper, carefully unpicking all the seams, taking off the waistband and removing the zip.  After a good press to flatten the hems and seam allowances, I pinned the two fronts and two backs together, making sure the plaid was lining up too.  Then I took a deep breath and tried to get the new pattern pieces onto the existing trouser pieces.

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Burda trousers 107 08/2019

The back fitted perfectly, the front needed the grown-on zip facing to be removed, so I cut that as a seperate piece and attached it later.  Pockets and facings were going to be tricky, but, here’s the good part.  I had saved all the left-over bits of fabric from the original cutting out in the wool box!  Woohoo for scrap-stashing!  So, hip yoke pockets, waistbands, cuffs and the fly facing were cut from the left-overs, and a scrap of lining sorted the pocket bags.  I also managed to line up the plaid, high five!  I reused the zip and found a good button in the button box, I bought nothing to make these new trousers.

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Hip yoke pockets are lined with a scrap of lining fabric.

The making went well, instructions didn’t need much altering.  I usually insert the fly zip immediately after making the pockets up, it’s so much better to do without all the extra legs in the way.  The other thing I changed was to sew the pleats in the trouser cuffs first.  Darts and pleats first, whether at the waistline or at the hem!  I just knew that if I left it to the end when the instructions finally have you do them, I’d have lost more than half of the tailor’s tacks, and as both the leg seams are sewn up, you have more fabric hanging around than you’d really want.

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Centre back seam in the waistband to help with alterations (if required) later on

I rather like these!  I’m keen to make a pair in ponte now, I think they’d be so comfy.  They’re admittedly a little loose on the waist still, but I have a secret trick to fix that quickly.  I don’t cut back waistbands on the fold, I add a centre back seam.  Then, when sewing the crotch seam, I leave the last 15cm of the back open.  Then the waistbands are added, in halves (one front and one back).  Add the waistband facings, press, understitch, etc and then sew that back seam, all in one go!  This means that if you need to take in, or let out, the back seam, there’s very little to have to unpick, and it’s so, so easy to adjust!!  Men’s trousers are sewn this way, so why not ours??

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Anyway, I’m off to enjoy wearing this gorgeous fabric now, and I might have to find a good colour ponte for another pair, some secret tracksuit pants!

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Apologies for not noticing when taking the photos that the camera had decided that the teak chest of drawers was far more interesting to focus on than my trousers!!

Seasonally Inappropriate

There’s something about January that has me thinking of what to make for the summer, although we’re still 5 months (at least) off being able to wear anything!  I had the opportunity to test the Morningside Shirt pattern by French Navy last year.  I made a small size for Daughter No1 in a soft black linen and she loved it.  I had always intended to make one for myself, I just needed to fit it into the list!

Eventually in January I managed to trace the XXL, which is where my measurements put me.  However, this did mean a finished measurement of 133cm! That’s a good 26cm extra and 13cm more than I usually go for.  I toiled it in some white cotton poplin from the leftovers stash.  Halfway though cutting I thought if it worked, I could just wear it as is.  But there wasn’t enough of the poplin to cut all the pieces.  Typical!  So I found a floral “burnout” cotton voile in the stash and cut the collar, sleeve cuffs and outer yoke.

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The Morningside Shirt by French Navy

I probably ought to mention which version I am making!  Not being a ruffle fan, I chose the Style A with the back pleat.  It all went together really well, the instructions are clear.  I left certain bits out, figuring I could go back and add them later, ie buttonholes etc.  On putting the toile on, I realised I really could do with going down a size, and making the pattern in a fabric that has less body than the poplin.  I also needed to add length across the bust, about 2cm would probably be enough.  I certainly didn’t need any width.  So, next time I’ll make the XL and add the length to the front.

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The pleat in the back

Unfortunately, I won’t get to wear this shirt.  Why?  Because Daughter No2 stole it!  She saw it on Peggy the dressmaker’s dummy when she came home after New Year and tried it on.  She loves it all big and oversized!  She honestly nicked it, it’s gone back to uni with her.  I offered to add the buttons and buttonholes, but that was declined, she likes it just as it is.  But maybe with something underneath so bra etc doesn’t show.  How about a cami?  An Ogden cami?

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True Bias Ogden Cami

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I had enough of the floral voile to cut a size 4 in the Cami, even though her measurements put her in the 2.  I’d made the size 0 for Daughter No1 last year and found it came up a little small, uncomfortably tight on the upper/high bust area.  So I played it safe and went up a size for Daughter No2.  Which, as it turned out, was the right decision!  It was also the right decision to use the rest of that voile, the two work perfectly together.

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The cuff detail on the Morningside Shirt

The Ogden Cami is quick and easy to make, I just find it odd that the facings are so big/deep.  Daughter No2 has ordered another in black silk, but without the facings and wide straps.  So I guess that means I have to make bias strips with that slippery fabric.  Nice…  I also cut out a version in some leftover Liberty lawn.  I’d used the fabric for a top for my Mum about 3 years ago, and there was enough to cut an Ogden, carefully!  So that will be 3 camis in her wardrobe, in time for the coldest part of the winter so far.  Timing! 😛

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Work in Progress Wednesday 2/19

Last week I found a bargain at a local charity shop – 3m of what I suspect is a wool and silk herringbone fabric in sage green and off white.  It was just hanging on a hanger in the curtains and duvet covers section, looking sad and unwanted.  Well, not by me!  It didn’t take me long to decide I was having it, even though all I’d gone in for was a couple of books.

I popped it in the washing machine straight away and let it dry.  It was when I ironed it that I thought it might have a silk content, and a bleach test on the fibres confirmed that.  Woo!  But what to make??  I didn’t think too long, I realised it would be perfect to make another pair of Kana’s Standard trousers B-a.  Not for now, it’s too cold, but for the spring they’d be great!  I though I could line them, or have a Hong Kong finish on the seams, put in jetted or welt pockets at the back instead of the patch pockets – and generally just fancy them up a bit.  All because the fabric was so nice!

The fabric frays quite badly, so the first thing was to overlock all the edges and then interface where necessary asap.  I don’t always interface the hip yoke pocket opening, but on this stuff with it’s tendency to wiggle around, interfacing was definitely called for.  The pocket facing in understitched and then I topstitched too – just to make sure it was all secure and wouldn’t stretch out when I over use the pockets.

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Interfacing on the opening edges of the hip yoke pockets

Hong Kong finish was scrapped, this fabric is too drapey and that would stiffen the seams too much.  I also didn’t line them in the end because the colour needed didn’t exist in the stash with enough meterage.  I didn’t want to buy anything, it would cause delays (shock – horror!) and I’m trying (not very hard!) not to buy stuff!!  Oh dear, that didn’t last long, did it??

But I did make fancy pockets on the back!  I cut the standard patch pocket out of the outer fabric, and another from the limited lining.  Then I cut 2 bias strips 6cm wide by 16cm long.  I wanted narrow jetted pockets, possibly with a loop and button to hold them closed.  For the loop I cut a bias strip 15cm long and 3cm wide.  This I fed through a bias tape gadget and then folded double and topstitched shut.  Much easier than making a strip and then trying to turn through.  I just knew this fabric wouldn’t like that very much.

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Starting the jetted pocket

To construct the pocket, these are the steps I followed.  First, interface the bias strip for the welts, then interface the fabric on the trouser piece, wider and longer than the pocket opening.  I drew a line with blue chalk down the middle of the bias strip – on the wrong side, marking the begining and end of the pocket opening.  Then I stitched, starting and ending exactly on those markings with the edge of my sewing machine foot on the blue line, one line on either side of the centre marking.  Next, I cut down that centre line and cut diagonally to the end of the stitching.  Make sure you cut straight!  You don’t need to stitch a box, in fact, that can hamper things.

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Making the welts

Now turn one side at a time up and press well, all along the fold.  Once that’s done, turn the bias strip to the inside and press those little triangles back well. Now you have to use the “seam allowance” as the “stuffing” for the welt, and fold the bias strip down to the inside over it.  Make sure you’re folding straight and accurately, it will show on the outside if you don’t.  Pin and press and baste as you feel necessary to get the right shape/line.  Make sure the welts aren’t overlapping or smiling at you, the folded edges should be touching “kissing”, as my tutor used to say.  Now you can stitch in the ditch along the length of the welts.  Then turn it all upside down, fold back those triangles and stitch along the fold, securing the edges in well.  Now you’re ready for the pocket bags.

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Finishing off the welts

Start with the lining, line the fabric up with the bottom edge of the bias strip on the lower welt, right side of lining to wrong side of trouser.  Lift the seam allowance up and pin and stitch from the welt side, not the lining side.  I tend to stitch twice, once roughtly down the middle of the allowance, this could be called either a holding stitch, or a reinforcement stitch, it does both jobs!  Then I go back and stitch again as close to the welt stitchline as I can.  Fold the lining down and press well.  If you’re going to use a button loop, now’s the time to get it in.

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Adding the pocket lining

Mark the centre of the pocket opening and pin the loop to the inside of the welt, centred on that marking.  (I usually use a pin to mark.)  Again, lift up the allowance and stitch the loop to the bias strip.  Now you need to whipstitch the welts together.  This keeps the pocket closed while you fiddle in the inside sewing the pocket bags together.  Now line up the pocket fabric with that allowance and stitch as you did for the lining, right side of pocket fabric to wrong side of trousers.  Once you’re done, smooth the pocket bags down and line up the sides.  You will have a longer lining piece than pocket bag, just trim it to the same length, pin all round and stitch.  I then overlocked the pocket bags together.

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Finishing off

All that’s left is to sew on your button, and voila!  You have a fancy pocket!  Now I just need weather suitable to wear these in, it’s a bit chilly here at the mooment, but not half as cold as it is in the States!  Keep warm guys!!

Sewing Japapese in January – Part 3

 

On a roll here!!  This time I’m using the Clean & Natural book and making the puffed sleeve pullover, pattern S.  It’s a loose fitting top with boat-neck(ish) that finishes mid hip and has a yummy, puffed sleeve.  The fullness in the sleeve is at the hem, rather than the sleeve head.  This book has a handy size table and the pattern sizes are S to LL.  I graded the LL up two sizes, going by the body measurements and the finished measurements of the top.  Remember, I don’t like too baggy…

 

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I toiled the pattern in some remnant cotton sheeting and made the following conclusions.  I needed more ease across the bust and length of about 2-3cm.  I also wanted the top to finish at the length it was un-hemmed.  So I needed an FBA of 3cm and to lengthen the top 3cm.  The sleeves are ok, finished at the right place and weren’t tight at the hem.  On creating the dart and FBA, I rotated it all out and am left with a no-dart top, just like the original.

Fabric is newly in the stash, after being bought last year at the NEC in March/April.  To be fair, I’d sort of allocated it to this top from the beginning, I just never got round to the grading and tracing and toiling last year.  The cotton is a woven gingham check, black and white.  I thought it would look pretty good with all the linen trousers in my summer wardrobe, and now I’m thinking it might be worn in the winter with a long sleeve layering tee underneath too…

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Construction is fairly straightforward, I overlocked everything first, and used ordinary seams.  The seam and hem allowances have to be added, by the way.  The facings are interfaced with fine sheer fusible.  The sleeve is pretty big, and only just fitted on the width of the fabric!  You gather the long curved of the oversleeve onto a pleated straight undersleeve.  This is what creates and holds the puff.  That’s the only time consuming part, gathering and evenly spreading all the gathers!

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I like how the back looks here, as if I’ve used a contrast neckband.  Maybe that’s the answer.

I had a quick try-on before hemming and decided it was too long!  I’m blaming the fabric here, the pattern.  It blinded me…  So I duly chopped off the 3cm I’d added to the length and turned up a 3cm hem.  Then I popped it back on over my head and – whoa!  I shouldn’t have done that…  I probably didn’t need to remove the whole 3cm.

I also had a problem with the neckline.  On the toile I didn’t add the facings and I was happy with where it sat.  On this garment, with facings added, it was too high!  I don’t like feeling crowded against my neck, and the other issue was all that pattern!  I think I could have done with less.  So I decided to change the shape of the neckline in the front, put the toile back on and drew a scoop to the depth I wanted and transferred that to the gingham.  I added seam allowance and chopped again.  Then I realised I didn’t have enough fabric to cut new facings.  Not going well, right?  Anyway, I cut bias strips and sewed them together and made a bias trim for the neck.  I actually like this better than the original facings anyway.

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I think there’s just tooo much patterned fabric here for me.

As it’s ever so slightly chilly here in the UK this week, I decided to wear it today with a long sleeve scoop neck tee, and I rather like it like this.  I think it would also look good with a rounder neck tee, or even a floppy poloneck.  I also think it needs slim fitting pants, looks good with the Birkin Flares, not so pretty with pleated, fuller trousers.  It’s the second Japanese pattern that hasn’t turned out quite the way I had imagined in my head.  I know I’m not the same shape and size, but I thought I was picking patterns that are similar to those I like in the Burdas, so I was hoping they’d come out the same too.  Guess I’ll be sticking to the trouser patterns! 😀