Monday, March 10, 2014

Two simple tops

I was able to cut out this Sorbetto tank top (sans the front pleat) when I was cutting out this skirt. It sat around for weeks because I did not have any fabric suitable for using as bias binding. The sateen is very lightweight and I did not have any black voile or similar lying around. The fabric that I found I also used to make the next top.
I made my first  (unblogged) version of Burdastyle magazine #103 from 5/2011 last year. I am always on the look out for pull on woven tops as I seem to wear these a lot for work. It has raglan sleeves and 4 small pleats at the centre front.

When I made it last year, I actually made it in a length between #102 and #103 (which are essentially the same pattern, as well as #104 the dress - no idea why these are deemed three separate patterns). Version 1 had the split sleeves but for this version I just sewed the seam shut.
The top can be worn belted or not. You can see how it blouses over the belt in the photo above. It does look a little maternity when not belted but I like how cool and comfortable it is this way.
These were very quick makes. I made both of them in a couple of hours. I found the world's easiest way of getting the perfect length of bias tape - I just sewed on most of the way around and then followed the directions here - just without the glue. No idea how I was doing it previously - just bumbling along until it looked right

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Cherry blouse of doom

This shirt started off as Burda #119 from Burda magazine 7/2007. I was looking for something to use up a cherry print cotton voile that had sat in my stash for years and was crying out to be made into a shirt.

This was one of those tops. It was extra time consuming because I decided to underline each piece (the fabric was too sheer and I don't really want to wear a singlet in summer). As I was pressing out a stubborn crease mark (years of sitting folded in the stash) , the dye from the cherries bled in some places. This was after a rigorous pre-wash. The placket band turned out looking rubbish so I changed the front to have the placket running all the way and recut the band.

 I originally made this top to wear to work. However, it has been sitting in my wardrobe for weeks. The blouse is also a little short because I made adjustments to the length above the waist and did not think to add some length back in. There is a gap between the bottom of my blouse and the shorts. Ain't nobody got time for that. These pants are a slightly different coloured red but there is not gap so I may still be able to make it work.
There are two things I don't like about the pattern. Firstly is the weird pleats on the back neckline - I did not pay much attention when I traced the pattern. I really think some darts would look better. It looks like an error in sewing rather than a design element. The other is a felt like the gathers ended too low. I really don't need gathering over my stomach. It needs to start and finish at least 5cm higher up.
My solution for the not enough button problem was to not make buttonholes in the collar. I never button this bit up anyway. I am sure you could understand I did not want to waste more time running to the shops to buy a couple of buttons for a top that was taking much more time than it should have.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Shorts and skirts

My blog is really limping along at the moment. I seem to have no desire to take the time to photograph my sewing but at the same time I want to keep a visual record of what I have created. I expect to blog in dribs and drabs again this year and I will be happy if I can photograph most of my sewn items.
First up is this striped ponte skirt. I have always followed the rule of no vertical stripes on my lower half because of my pear shape. However, I just want to get on with sewing this year without overthinking and I thought this fabric (and the amount I had) would make a great skirt.
 I wore it to work and received tons of compliments so I think I did okay with my choice. This is such an easy make but it is so comfortable being a knit. I bought this fabric last year and my aim was to use all of pieces before their next sale. The pattern is an adapted Kwik Sew 3032.

Next up is some shorts for my daughter. I made a huge error when tracing and used my son's pattern size. This is the first time I have ever done that and was not fun to realise when I had spent hours on the topstitching! Ooops. They do still fit her - the funny thing is I traced the exact same size as her other ones from 2011 that I was trying to replace. I am still debating whether I pass these on to a friend's daughter or not. I  had already cut out the cord version so made those a little bigger with a smaller seam allowance.
This yellow linen was another designer sale item. I used my tried and true woven shorts pattern based on an 2005 Burda magazine pattern. The linen was too see through for my liking so I underlined it with a cotton fabric.
 The underlining helped with wrinkling although these photos were taken before I sat down at home.
I made this skirt spur of the moment when my plans for the day fell through. I had bought the fabric online intending it to be a dress but it was more lightweight than I expected and was not really suitable for a sheath dress. I thought it would make a good skirt or tank top. When I was laying out my skirt pattern, I realised a could cut out both, so I did. The pattern is one I drafted myself, with 6 flared panels and a yoke style waistband.
 I have made a couple of other garments, including a blouse that caused me so much grief, but I will need to take those photos again. I forgot to put the memory card in my camera.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Hits and misses of 2013

I am finally getting around joining Gillian in reflecting on my Top 5 of 2013. A little late but our annual beach holiday began earlier than normal and went for longer and I ran out of time to post before we left.
2013 was a challenging year for me sewing wise. Returning to work full-time after only working part-time since having kids was sure to cut in on my sewing time. I did manage to sew 51 garments, only 10 less than 2012.  Surprisingly, I did sew more garments for me (and way less for the kids!).
Here is a breakdown of garments:
Sewing for kids - 13
Dresses - 9
Skirts -2
Pants and shorts - 5
Tops, tees and jumpers - 8
PJs - 4
Undies -10


1. Black sheath dress - I finally had an occasion to wear this. It fits perfectly.
2. Black white and yellow dress - I received so many compliments when I wore this to the awards ceremony at work, it was wonderful.

3. Ponte dress - While not the best quality in fabric, this was my first taste at ponte and I was impressed.
4. Green knit dress - love the colour and a step out of my comfort zone style wise.
5. Blue knit skorts for my daughter -  it feels good to draft a pattern again.


Oops, there are a number of projects I never got around to blogging about, and some of them belong here!
1. Grey linen shorts - Really fabulous apart from the waistband stretching out during the day.
2. Purple printed tee - this worked out okay, but after a year of not that much use, the fabric is becoming limp.
3. Blue and white PJ top - this is a little too big, the straps fall down constantly and it reveals way too much. It would be relegated to sleepwear if it wasn't already a PJ top. I have realised how much I like knit PJs now.
4. Grainline Tiny Pocket tank - I really like the look of this but it just isn't right for me. The dart was way too low and even after raising it for a second go, the bust area just sits funny on me. Kind of pointy-outy. Besides, it is very low cut and I felt exposed when I trialled it at work. I prefer my Sorbetto pattern for my body. I where this tanks to bed now.
5. Grey wool pants - another photo-less garment. The pattern I used was quite loose. I had to take the side seams in a heap and then the pockets were no longer functional. I wore them once and then gained some weight and they were too tight. Blah.
One of my on going goals each year is to use more fabric than I acquire. This year I bought 68.45m, with 68.25m sewn. After cleaning my sewing room, I donated a further 8m of fabric, not including remnants. I sewed 13.5m of fabric from stash, and added back 13.7m. This equates to using approximately 80% of fabric bought being sewn. Last year I converted 47% to completed garments, so maybe I was considering my purchases more carefully in 2013.
In 2014 I will be challenging myself to be more organised with my sewing. I made way too many trips to the fabric store to pick up zippers, thread etc mid way through a project. Not only is it a time waste, it gives me an opportunity to procrastinate (of which I am fabulous at) and also tempts me to buy more fabric while at the store.
I also find that I can over analyse exactly what pattern I want to use with what fabric. This makes me overwhelmed and again wastes time. While I don't want to end up with lots of duds, I generally go with my first idea anyway, so this year I want to just get on and sew rather than over think the planning process.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A few projects to share

I have packed this post with all the projects I have sewn lately. I have really lost the sewing and blogging mojo. Can you believe I had two weeks holiday and only sewed 2 projects (4 if you could the things the kids sewed). Am I the only person who doesn't sew when they are stressed. I tend to vege out and sleep instead.
First up is a maxi skirt in the peacock knit I purchased back in August. My goal was to sew everything before next year's sale. So far - 1m! The pattern is based on Kwik Sew 3032 - I just lengthened it and added slits to each side. These are super comfy and perfect for work. Not sure why this is only my third make using this pattern.

Next up is some PJs from a Burda magazine. The pattern number is 128 from 12/2008. I intended to make the nightie but did not quite purchase enough fabric. I love the colours in these PJs - reminds me of a holiday or something. I had to redo the elastic in the back so that it sits snug against my back. As you can see, the top is loose compared to the shorts - I am actually a size smaller on the top. I used the Burda boxer shorts pattern but had to make it a little bigger than my normal size. It is pretty tight as it is so next time I will probably go back to my regular pattern from Kwik Sew. The fabric is actually a seersucker. I normally wear knit top PJs in Summer, so will see how I go.
 The next pattern is Burda magazine 111 from 09/2007 again, but this time with a slightly altered neck. This dress was intended to be a weekend at home type dress because I did not have enough fabric to match the pattern, but I actually don't mind wearing it out. I think I was drawn to the lovely blues in this fabric, as I actually dislike the print.
 When I made this, I was slightly disappointed because it was sitting around the waist. I had put on a little weight around my thighs and butt and it was pushing the dress upwards. It is hard to tell but it is not really following the curve of my back either, something I will need to address in the future.

 My next dress is a Frankenpattern of 2 new to me patterns. The bodice is from dress 101 02/2011 Burdastyle magazine and the skirt is from dress 107 11/2007 Burda magazine. I loved the neckline and the cut on sleeves of the first dress but did not want a gathered skirt.
When I made a muslin of the bodice, I deemed that it was not too low cut for work and kept the neckline as it was. However, with the addition of the weight of the skirt, I feel it is a tad too low. I did staystitch the neckline, but it gapes at the front.
 The fabric is a stretch sateen print that I picked up at Spotlight on the sales table. I bought the end of the roll (2.25m) but found was enough to work with. I found the bodice was too wide when sewn up, unlike my muslin which was tight. Must be the stretch of the fabric. I took in 2cm from each side s a quick fix.
 I edgestitched the tops of the pleats down. I wanted soft pleats but thought it needed a little more structure at the top where it meets the seam.

 I am going to make this dress or a form of the dress again. This is really my style of dress. Although I realised that I would never wear this style to work  like I intended. I just feel too dressed up! I think I will stick to knit dresses - just waiting for my Red Velvet to arrive.
 Jalisa needs some new shorts and skirts so I made  her a pair of skorts. I have drafted these myself before so I was pleased that I remembered what I did last time. I made just one pair to see that they looked right. I intend to make a few more now that I know it fits right.
 Skorts are great for my girl. She is active but likes skirts and prefers knits. Her last lot have been in constant rotation and have lasted for years but it was time for new ones. (Goodness, I made the last lot in around 2009/2010)
 Finally, my kids have been wanting to sew more and I thought shorts would be a good project. We were going to sew cushions but they painted the fabric and it became really hard, so it was scraped for these. I think they turned out really well. Both shorts are based on the Bert pattern from Ottobre pattern 03/2009. I extended at the top to have a cut on elastic casing, and morphed the two back pieces and just left off the pockets. They both wore them yesterday, which was cute.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kwik Sew 3472 - another green knit dress

There are some really cute Lady Skater dresses out there in the blog world. I was going to give the pattern a go when I saw the line drawing and recalled a Kwik Sew pattern that has been in my pattern stash for years. I can't even recall when I bought this it was that long ago.
Kwik Sew 3472 has two views. View A is a turtleneck, long sleeved, longer skirt version. I made view B, the half sleeved, shorter skirt with the jewel neck. Obviously you can mix up the views as you like.

I used a rayon elastane knit which my coverstitch hated. I actually had to sew strips of fabric to beef up the sleeve hemlines, so that it would not skip the stitches. I actually left the hem raw because I did not want to have the same problem with the hem.


Below is how the pattern sewed up. What a let down. the pattern is described as having a drop waist, but it was not was I was envisioning.
I sought feedback from the ladies over at the Crafty Mamas Forum who suggested taking in the side seams as well raising the waist seam and taking up the hem. Well, first I chopped 10cm off the bottom hem before deciding to bite the bullet and cut the waist seam out, shorten the bodice, reduce the width and reattach the skirt. Hardly rocket science, I just prefer to unpick and keep the integrity of the pattern as much as possible. The side seams of the skirt had to be fudged to match up with the smaller bodice piece.

I will be transferring the changes to the pattern for next time though, it ended up being a great little dress for work althought it was a little windy today. This is how I wore it to work.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Vogue 1194 in emerald knit

In a quest to try new things, I bought a couple of $5 patterns in a certain Australian chain craft store. I think I bought 3 of the Vogue designer ones, since they are so exxy. I have admired many knit dresses across many blogs, so I picked up a couple with some interesting details.
This is Vogue 1194, which has gathers and pleats on the bodice, pleats at the front skirt, gathering at the back skir and a twisted front band. Hmm, I am just studying the desription on the back of the pattern and the pattern describes the bodice as being loose fitting. That makes me feel better. When I tried it on, the wedding dress fitting scene from The Proposal movie came into my head. It is a little looser that I would normally go for, but it is not too bad (I don't think).

 I roughly compared my basic tee pattern to the bodice patterns and I decided to trace a size smaller than indicated on the pattern. If I made it again, I would have to do something about the bodice front, as it fits great everywhere else. I am actually thinking about adding a plain top and using the pleated/gathered skirt for next time.

I really love the twisted front band - the pattern says to match notches but unless I traced the wrong ones, I could not match the notches without it being in the wrong place. I just made sure that the front and back bands met at the side seam.
Green is my favourite colour and apart from this in a very similar fabric, I don't have many other green garments. I do have some other green fabrics, including a very recent fabric purchase, so maybe I should change that soon.

It has been very spring-like weather here the last few days. It has made me think of spring sewing, which I hope to include some more dresses.  As long as the skirt is fairly full and has some type of shoulder coverage, I plan to wear more dresses to work. I have been in a real pants/shorts for work rut and I just need to have more fun with my clothes.

Having said that, I do have plans to make some shorts from the yellow linen I bought recently, inspired by Carolyn and Bernice. And a white blouse.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Simplicity 1802

I rarely buy patterns from the larger companies. I actually find the pattern books overwhelming and just have to walk away. I bought this pattern after seeing Sew Brusnwick's wonderful version. This dress was actually completed in May, but I was only finished it the night before I had to hand it into the local show so never had time to do get decent photos. For some years now, I have been entering a competition held through the local show, with the finals held at the Ekka (Brisbane Show). The judging at the Ekka was held on Saturday, and I am pleased to have placed Second in the Adult Daywear.
 I actually hadn't planned to enter this year. However, the steward phoned me and asked me whether I was planning to put something in this year, so at the last minute (with less than a fortnight to go), I started planning my entry. I was drawn to the piping and the rounded godets in this pattern. I was really hoping to find a black, white and one other colour cotton print to use for the dress, and I found this print at the local fabric shop.

At the time when I bought it, I did not realise how sheer it was and I had to go back to the shop to buy some fabric to underline it. By this stage, I had 5 days until the dress had to be in, and all I had was fabric. I cleared my weekend (and DH cleared the house of children). I was hoping for a smooth ride but ended up with a lot more challenges.
I muslined the bodice and decided I would make it in a size 10, a size or two less than the size my measurements should have been. I had read there was plenty of ease but I ahd my fingers crossed that the skirt had enough ease for my pear shape. I made a trip to the fabric store to buy rat's tail and piping cord for the piping. I bought I few different widths to experiement with. To be honest, I can't even remember what I went with. It was black and with the ribbons if that helps. It was not piping cord though. I had to make another trip to the fabric store to buy more since I had not bought nearly enough (I was not piping the godets, so had to estimate what I needed - I was off my a lot!). This is the first time making piping, so I am glad the seams were straight. I can't remember but I think it was from the Cherub's Kiss blog or maybe a tip L from Cherub's Kiss put on a sewing forum, but it was useful. You sew the piping to one side of the fabric right next to the piping cord, then stitch along the stitch line when sewing the other side of the fabric. Perfect piping. Well, it is a little lumpy at the neckline since I found I did not remove enough of the ends of the cord. Lesson learnt for next time. That was just amatuer hour from me.

The dress has a small zipper inserted into the side seam. I found the was not adequate and just could not get the dress on. I had no idea what to do, since the side seam finishes at the waist. I seriously considered binning the dress at this point. I could not wear it. After some frustrated crying and discussion with my husband, I went to see if I had enough fabric and underlining to cut a half godet plus seam allowance. I cut the other half godet from the original godet. I had to buy another zipper but I could choose a long one that would make it easy for me to fit into without too much trouble. I actually did not have enough underlining, I had to use the original underlining cut int half and not have a seam allowance. I finished the edge with the overlocker and you couldn't really tell when the side seam was folded back.

the zipper was probably the most shoddy I have put in, ever. It is not invisible but at least I can do the dress up past the piping/thick seams. The hem is finished with purchased bias binding. I  had just enough from the 5m packet. The hem is invisible as the slip stithes are attached to the underlining. I sewed the dress across a weekend and hemmed it over three nights. A lot of work went into this sucker and time does heal my pride, which was hurt over this dress. Not my greatest work but the competition is about the impact of the design as well the the workmanship. I promised the competition coordinator that I would be entering next year, I just need to start a little earlier I think.