Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Ruffles and Tweed

A while ago I was given a box of fabric bits and pieces from a friend’s mother, who is now in her nineties and hasn’t sewn for years.   

As well as some lovely vintage prints she had started making herself a pair of trousers out of this wool.
It’s a heavy wool and almost a bit scratchy, but I love the tweedy look.  The lady is a lot smaller than me, so there was no way I was going to be able to simply complete the trousers for me, so I carefully unpicked the half made trousers and assessed the fabric that I was left with, with a view to making a skirt.

The pieces that I had weren’t wide enough to make a straight skirt, so I had to be a bit more creative.  The back was a simple fix – I put a curved godet in the centre back seam, drafted from my skirt block using the same technique that I used here.

Although it is a very subtle effect, I also added a little embroidery to the two back panels – just because I can!

At this point I stalled slightly, while I figured out what to do with the gap in the front.  Eventually I added a panel to the front lining and attached layer upon layer of stone coloured chiffon ruffles from the $1 stash.  It sort of looks as though I’ve vomited chiffon down the front of the skirt.  

Or maybe it’s just a cute play on the hard and soft of the tweed and the ruffles?

Here’s my dilemma:  When my daughter was living at home she would sometimes come home from school, look at my current project on the dummy and yell “STOP! Move away from the fabric Mum.”  This was her sign that I had gone, or was about to go, over the top.  With no resident daughter to rein me in I wonder whether I’ve gone too far with the ruffles and embroidery here?

What do you think? 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

A green evolution

Me:  Dear internet, I have sinned.  It has been a whole month since my last blog post. 
Internet: We’d hardly noticed, and anyway, you’ve probably got a really good excuse, like, you got a job!
Me: Well no, I still haven’t got a job.
Internet: Well sometimes life gets in the way and you just don’t have any sewing projects to show us?
Me: I have twenty-seven finish garments that I haven’t blogged about, nineteen of which I have sewed in the last month.
Internet: So what’s the problem?  Why no posts?
Me: I’m not sure. 
Internet:  Well you’re here now, so get on with it.

OK, I decided that I needed a new suit but this post covers several garments that evolved out of the suit that sort of go together, so I guess you could call it a collection.

As is frequently the case with me, this collection started with the fabric; a textured bottle green of unknown origin (more cheap fabric off trade me).   

I’m not sure what appealed to me about this fabric, since I have no other bottle green in my wardrobe, probably because my high school uniform was bottle green, so I have an irrational prejudice against the colour.  I can only assume I had a momentary flash of clarity that suggested that thirty years was long enough to hold a grudge against the colour.

Anyhow, I bought the fabric and from the moment that it arrived in the post it said “trouser suit”.  At least it said “suit”, but the soft handle spoke of an elegant trouser suit.    

I do like smart trousers, but the only appearance in my wardrobe at the moment is a pair of black pants, so the green pants came first.
I used my pant block, and didn’t add any additional features like pockets and stuff.  I love pockets in trousers, and I always use them.  In fact I use them so much that I typically stretch the fabric at my hips so that I get additional saddle bags with only a few months of wear.  The reason that I still have the black pants in my wardrobe is that they have no pockets, so I haven’t pulled them out of shape.   

Learning from the black pants, these trousers have no pockets, so I can’t over stuff them out of shape.

I first used them to go out to dinner to a friend whose garden backs onto a slow running river.  It’s so slow running that it’s more a sort of mobile lake, and there are always insects around her place.  Since the local mosquito population rings the dinner bell when I expose flesh at her place, I decided that smart pant were the way to go.

Unfortunately, since I have no other bottle green in my wardrobe, I didn’t have anything to wear with it, so I resurrected Project 40, from my 2013 sewing list, a white flowered sleeveless blouse.  The flowers on this fabric have bottle green leaves, so I dusted off an old Burda pattern (which I drafted before I had so many Burda patterns that I have to label them properly, so I can’t tell you which one)  Allowing for a little extra weight since I drafted it, it came together easily.   

In retrospect I should’ve checked the fit before I started as it came out rather loose, and although I added bra cups it didn’t offer any support, and a bra wasn’t an option.   
While this might not have bothered me twenty years ago, it bothers me now, so I ended up taking it in.  The end result is that it looks rather snug, but at least I didn’t fall out of it.

At this point progress sort of stalled, until I was called to an interview for a job that I knew was going to require a fair amount of mobility, so I decided I needed a pant suit for the occasion.

Although I have numerous TNT  jacket patterns I had fallen in love with this one from Burda April 2013.
I wanted something a little softer than a classic tailored jacket, and I felt that this would go with the trousers.

I really enjoyed this project.  It came together really easily (As usual I didn’t actually ready Burda’s instructions so I can’t comment on them) and I like the softer feel of this jacket.   

To lift it out of the ordinary I added a paua shell lining, and I love it, even though I’m the only person to see it.
(Since the top I made to go with the trousers wasn’t office appropriate, I paired the suit with a plain white blouse for the interview.)

A few weeks ago I was sorting through my stash, and I came across a green drill labelled “Project 41” in a bag with a zip and waistband interfacing.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I had no idea what I had intended to do with this fabric, but I must have had a plan, since it had made it to my 2013 plans, if not the sewing machine.

I’m sure you can imagine my horror when I discovered that project was a pair of tailored green pants.  I had bought fabric when I didn’t need it!  Rather than admit this sin to the world at large, I decided that I had to destroy the evidence immediately and get this fabric out of my stash.  I also wanted to demonstrate how I put a lined dress together so this bottle green fabric became a lined dress.

I used my TNT princess line dress
… and remembered to document how I put the lining and dress together.
The dress works rather well with the jacket from the trouser suit.

So there I have a few more work outfits for that dream job.  Now all I need is the dream job!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Sewing double... or triple

The Monthly Stitch challenge for April is "sewing double".  The exact interpetation of this wa left pretty open, so my first interpretation is sewing my version of a ready to wear, and sewing two garments from the same pattern:
I saw this T-shirt, over-priced, in Farmers.

I had a go and drafting a copy and came up with a more-or-less wearable muslin.

The embroidery is misplaced and not properly interfaced, but I was happy that the pattern incorporated all the features that I loved about the Farmers’ version.

I had plenty of black knit from the $1 stash, but didn’t have anything for the feature print.  I found a stretch mesh.  It has a suitable pattern, but it is see through.  I faced the first version, but I lined the next one with a lightweight black knit, which solve the see-through problem, and meant that I didn’t need facing. Other than that, I made it the same as the wearable muslin.

I think that this is reasonable copy of the Farmers’ T and I can see it working well with black or grey in a professional environment, and the muslin makes a flattering casual top.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Heather's pin dog

I’ve been watching The Great British Sewing Bee on line.  One of the season 2 competitors, Heather, uses a stuffed dog as a pin cushion.   

I was in LOVE with this pin cushion, and decided that I need one.

There are, literally, hundreds of free patterns for stuffed animal on the internet.  I wanted one as close as possible to Heather’s, and found this Dachshund, which looks pretty close in structure 

I haven’t made stuffed toys since primary school, but really, how hard could it be?   

The pattern was shown made up in a fake fur.  While this makes a more realistic dog, realistic wasn’t what I was aiming for.  Like many sewers I have piles of left over fabric which is too small for a garment, so I pulled out a tweedy fabric in pale brown and some scraps of a paisley print and an orange furnishing fabric. 

Unfortunately I underestimated the task.  I rushed in and wasn’t as careful cutting and stitching as I would have been had I been sewing a new garment, and it showed.  This finished dog was lumpy, lopsided and doesn’t stand up.

While it would function as a pin cushion, I was not happy – I wasn’t ever going to love it.  In fact, every time I looked at it I was going to be reminded of my own sloppy workmanship.  :(

Not to be deterred, I went back to the pattern and the instructions.  The instructions have clearly been written by someone who speaks English as a second language, and although they are mostly understandable I had misinterpreted the phrase “Required the seam allowance of 5-7 millimeters.”  I assume it meant that there were seam allowances of 5-7 mm included on the pattern pieces.  With hindsight I now realise that seam allowance need to be added to the pattern pieces when cutting.  Since the pattern includes several inserts to give the dog a three dimensional shape, without seam allowances the pieces didn’t fit together properly.  Forcing them to fit together had distorted the finished dog.   

Once I added seam allowances, and slowed down, the pattern fit together perfectly.  It’s not a beginner’s pattern because of the curves and inserts, not to mention the slightly jinglish instructions, but that said, it’s fiddly but not technically difficult.

Tackling it for the second time I used a chambray that I had spilt coffee on, but I was able to cut round the stained parts.  I also used some royal blue cotton and a small amount of a dolphin craft print.    

Heather’s original pin dog was made of a variety of fabrics, so I was happy with a mix of fabric.   

I used a different fabric altogether for the tail, and stuffed it with two pipe cleaners to encourage it to stand up.

For the first dog, I stuffed it with fabric pieces,( mostly spewed out of the overlocker).  Convinced that this had contributed to the lumpiness of the finished dog, I bought a half kilo of proper stuffing for this one.  I took quite a bit of time stuffing, making sure that the feet, legs and head were tightly packed before stuffing the body.

The result this time is more pleasing.  

He’s not perfect, but he’s much better.  His head is permanently cocked on one side... 

...but I’ve met real dogs like that!  He stands up most of the time, and I love the way his tail sticks up!