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Monday, 29 November 2010

Winter Berries Collection: Black Herringbone Trousers

I'm on to my next piece from the Winter Berries Collection, a pair of Black Herringbone Trousers. I'm using my current favourite Burda magazine pattern for these - BurdaStyle Magazine 02-2010-102 pants.
I've made these quite a few times now so not too much of a surprise really.

They have a wideshaped leg, side pockets, side or back invisible zip and curved faced waistband. They are currently my go to work trousers, and the side pockets have a nice slanted opening which doesn't poof open when sitting and lets you put stuff in it which is helpful. All those pocketless purchased trousers annoy me.

Snow permitting I am due to go away on Wednesday morning for 2 days, so you may not get a finished pair of trousers here on the blog until the weekend. Obviously if it snows a lot and I can't travel I shall work from home and sew every evening.

Progress so far is that I have cut everything but the pocket linings out, and ran out of steam!

Making a Complete Wardrobe from 4 Basic Patterns by Rusty Bensussen

I ordered the book 'Making a Complete Wardrobe from 4 Basic Patterns' by Rusty Bensussen as a used book and it came today.


I thought that I sort of sew in that way already, since I seem to have a favourite knit top, trousers, skirt etc. but that it would be nice to have some more ideas.
The book was published in 1987 and uses self drafted patterns that are very simple for a loose top, an A line skirt, a circle skirt and drawstring trousers. As such I probably wouldn't want to use the actual patterns.
What I do like about it is the way it encourages you to think a little more widely about the patterns you do have and how they could be made in different fabrics, and have changes applied to them.
Especially if you have to make a lot of alterations this is a really good approach as you are just adding details onto your already fitted patterns.


Sunday, 28 November 2010

Winter Berries Collection: Black Velvet Shrug

Here's the completed black velvet shrug. I've held it together with a silver celtic brooch, a gift some years back and perfect for this I think.
The shrug is mainly made from New Look 6535 view C, though I curved the front neckline. The draped sleeve cap is taken from Simplicity 2956 and then morphed back onto the long bell sleeve of New Look 6535.



New: Winter Berries Collection

I'm about to kick off my second 6 piece Winter collection, which is going to be in red and black and a little white, so I think its going to be called the Winter Berries Collection, imagine the dark stems of a leafless bush, with some small red berries and a touch of white frost.

I'm starting with a bolero cardigan with draped sleeve heads in a slightly stretchy soft black velvet. This needs to be the first piece as I am going to wear it over a sleeveless purchased red dress for a party on Wednesday night, I've not started cutting it out yet, so had better get shifting!

Collections versus Clothing

When sewing for myself (which is mostly the sort of sewing I do, being a bit selfish!) there is always some tension between an individual garment which is inspired by the fabric and pattern and where that garment sits in my wardrobe. The seasonal 6 piece sew alongs on Stichers' Guild and contests like SWAP encourage me to thing about a garment in the context of other garments I already have or am sewing.
My desire for these sorts of volumes of garments each season can however be counter productive, as I tend to sew a lot of simple things, rather than making the effort to have better construction and more detail. I am particualrly poor with regards to jackets, which is frustrating as I wear jackets a lot for work.
Even if you don't want to go the whole hog and have a collection for the season, you need at least to look at outfits, and how things work together. Will the collar on a blouse sit nicely under the collar on a jacket? Will a front fastening on skirt/trousers cause an unsightly bulge underneath a thin knit top? How do the lengths and proportiosn play together, the textures, the prints/plains/colours? And then don't ruin the whole look with a giant bag or inappropriate footwear.
Since as sewists we can sew anything we can find the fabric and pattern for, this can lead to over embellishment or poor choices. My aim is always to look like my clothes are current and came from one of the higher end High Street stores, but no-one can tell exactly which one. I am not one to have something so unique that its all about the artistry and creativity, my clothes are for wearing in my real life.

The plus of a collection for a particualr season is that a few accessories, a new pair of shoes, a smart bag, some costume jewellery will work with most of the pieces and it makes getting dressed easier in the morning. I do like to have several colour schemes available but to have options for an alternative top to wear with those trousers if the usual top is in the laundry cycle.

I like to give my collections names, though it doesn't always happen. I also allow myself to pass items on if they didn't quite work out. I must be getting a little better at this as more of the items from recent collections seem to still be in rotation.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

What next?

Well I came back from Jenni's today and am a bit too tired to sew this evening, but have been thinking about what I would like to sew next.
The Endless Combinations contest is on, and although I can't win anything as I just won the previous contest I might still enter as Wardrobe style sewing is what I like best.
Endless combinations works a little differently
How to create an Endless Combination:
Start with one garment, and then each subsequent Combination garment you sew goes with one of the Combination garments that you have already sewn. No chance of stranded garments with this method! The more you sew, the easier it is to match up to a previously sewn item.

And in fact I largely sew like this anyway, becuase it lets you wear your new thing straight away, which always works for me.
So I am planning something in black and red which currently includes the following, though who knows how far I will get with packing, work and Christmas parties coming up over the next 3 weeks.
  • black pencil skirt
  • black herringbone trousers
  • red knit skirt
  • red knit jacket
  • black/red/pink/white knit dress
  • black/white lace print top
I could also do with some winter PJs but for some reason don't seem to have any brushed flannel or warm knits skulking in the fabric cupboard, and I could start early on SWAP, since 3 things can be pre-made.
When I am in this mood, Jenni says I ususally sew something completely different...... so watch this space :P

Twisted Thread goodies

Twisted Thread Show Report
We had a great day when we finally got to the show yesterday (I wasn't too well in the morning and Jenni let me sleep a little until the sinus medication kicked in). Funnily enough once we got to the show I felt a lot better, and managed to make it round the 3 main halls. I think we were there for nearly 4 hours, and had no money left at the end so that's about right.
Anyway I am sure you would like to hear about all the goodies we bought, because being able to see other people's purchases is nearly as good as being there yourself right??? LOL OK maybe not but we still wanted to share. :-)
You can see Jenni's haul here.
And here are some shots of my things spread out on Jenni's living room floor (different pictures of the same stuff).




What I have above are
7 Butterick/McCall's patterns
4 Vogue patterns
navy variegated tweed (about 2 metres)
plain dark navy wool trouser fabric (about 2.5 metres)
whole leather hide in dark brown
navy dots and brown abstract print are both 1.5 metre samples of John Kaldor jersey
brown and orange floral is 3.5m of John Kaldor jersey
brown and teal print is 1.5m of John Kaldor pure silk

so I came away happy but penniliess.
I have plans for everything, but who knows how long it will take to sew them all up.
I am going back to Cheshire this afternoon, but have had a great time.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Twisted Thread here we come

I have made it to Yorkshire (via 3 trains) to go the Twisted Thread show and even managed to get my computer to work at the lovely YorkshireLass's house. ( No mention of how long that took us to do!!!).
Jenni has already been to the show once and showed me her LOOT wich included many drool worthy fabrics and yarns.
But tomorrow she's agreed to go back again, apparently this will be pure torture but she'll do it for my sake.

There may or may not be pictures depending on whether we can master the technology.
Until tomorrow..... apparently we do need to sleep before we can go and shouldn't talk about sewing all night.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Wow I won the PR Challenge Contest: One Pattern Wardrobe

I am thrilled and quite humbled that I won the PR Challenge Contest: One Pattern Wardrobe with an astonishing 248 votes, despite my indoor flash with no makeup photos.
I really got a buzz out of doing the contest and am enjoying wearing my pieces.
I appreciate each and every vote, and that people took the trouble to click for me - THANK YOU!
Hey and guess what there is apparently even a prize of One Online Sewing Class on PatternReview.com which will be a great opportunity for me to learn some new technique at some point.
I've been having quite a tough time recently so this is a really lovely thing to have happened for me.
The first thing I knew of it was an email this morning from Jenni letting me know (she had been on PR to see if the contest had finished) so that was a nice start to the week.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

BBC Archive: what we wore

No sewing, but have started packing for my move.
In between sorting bouts I have enjoyed watching the littlevideos in the BBC fashion archives.
The 1950s ones, the presenter has the most astonishing cut class accent, but I love the way she unfolded the topic in the programmes.
BBC Archive What We Wore

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Little shrug required

I need a little black shrug to wear over my party dress for Christmas and can't find anything I like in the shops. I might need to sew my own, I wonder what suitable fabric I have.

Meanwhile have started packing for my move in the spring.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Simplicity 2938 free in UK Sew magazine

This month's Sew magazine has a free pattern - Simplicity 2938.
Ironically this would have been ideal to use for the PR One Pattern contest, though I'm not sure how much I'd wear a sleeveless dress or top and if the raglan jacket would be flattering on me.
Anyway if you like it and you are in the UK you might want to buy a copy - the magazine costs £5.99 in major newsagents.
Simplicity 2938 has quite a few positive reviews here on Pattern Review.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

PR Challenge Contest: One Pattern Wardrobe, voting has begun

Hi, the voting has now begun for the 'Pattern Review Challenge : One Pattern Wardrobe'

Click here to go to Pattern Review and see all the entries, and then I'd really like it if you clicked on my entry and voted for me, though I understand if you love another entry even more.

My entry looks like this (you have to be a Pattern review member to vote)

Thank you, RuthieK :D

Sunday, 14 November 2010

New Look 6735 One Pattern Contest: Wearing all the pieces

Here I am wearing all the pieces.

New Look 6735 One Pattern Contest: All the pieces

Here are all 7 pieces from the New Look 6735 pattern.
I have two dresses, two knit tops, a skirt, a pair of pants and a cardigan jacket.
They all mix and match with each other and I am really pleased with how it all came out.
I have been trying them on and do still need to do some photos to share how cute they are when being worn.

New Look 6735 One Pattern Contest: Tweed Cardigan

Here's the tweed cardigan finished. Its made from a soft woven with the front band cut on the bias. I used the fringed selvedge for the hems. It needs a little press but I really like it and it makes a sweet suit with the flippy skirt.

New Look 6735 One Pattern Contest: Black Knit Pants

I wanted to add some more bottoms to the wardrobe so far, so have made up the knit pants in a plain black knit (v similar to the enevelope pattern). I have done invisible machine hemming on these and zigged elastic to the waist and turned over, as I wanted to avoid them looking to sporty. We'll see how they do in reality.
In other news I have shortened the lining of the skirt, hemmed the lining and hemmed the skirt.
I've also completely recut and resewn the black rib knit top.
Next I am going to have a go at using the cardigan pattern to sew a tweed cardigan. This time with the bright side out. Watch this space!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Singer: Sewing with Knits Book

I ordered a used copy of the 'Sewing with Knits' book from the Singer series. I have a few of these books, but not the knits one, and thought it would be good to expand my knit techniques a bit for the SWAP contest.
It was published in 1992 so is a little bit dated, but with more modern fitted shapes the techniques would still work, so I hope to try out a few things like plackets, pockets etc on future knit garments.

Monday, 8 November 2010

New Look 6735 One Pattern Contest so far

Here's where I've got so far.
Quite a lot still to do
1. Remove elastic from skirt, take in about 5 inches and reattach for a snugger fit.
2. Hem the dresses and the drape sleeve top.
3. Recut the black rib top to a neater fit and resew from scratch.
4. Model everything instead of hanger shots.
5. Write a review

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Inspired by Desigual

My local department store carries some Desigual brand clothing. I'm quite inspired by the way they mix fabrics together, espeically in their knit tops and dresses.
They are quite careful about their brand and I can't find anywhere where you can save their pictures, but you can see the styles here on the Desigual Website.
One of the KnipMode magazines I have tries something similar to their styles, and in the spirit of using leftovers of knit fabrics I have been thinking about this for a while.
Basically you need a number of different fabrics - at least 3 - which have a common base colour. They are often dark or a strong colour but don't tend to have light backgrounds. I fancy one using black based items, though I think it would actually be quite tough to find enough suitable fabrics from my already existing scrap box. I think also that Desigual have some large graphic prints which are not found elsewhere. I must say I love the idea of all different fabrics used for front, back, each sleeve and the neckband. A lot of their tees have one sleev in a different print than to the other. I think it has to be done very deliberately though or else it ends up looking a little crazy.

Red Boiled Wool Jacket

I cheated and bought it!
I already have a very similar jacket in spring green and also in purple, and they really give a POP of colour :-)

SWAP 2011 Official Rules: Thoughts

This year the twist in SWAP is
Every garment should be made with a technique or feature that you haven't tried, or haven't mastered.  

It seems to me that this is about construction rather than embelishment and I see why improving technique is the goal this year, its about using SWAP sewing to move on to the next level in your own sewing. Its a good aim, because I have no trouble churning out volumes of simple items in different colourways and prints, but I'm only pushing myself there in terms of colour selection not the actual underlying skills.
Interestingly original SWAP was about the sort of sewing I do in my capsules, co-ordinating but fairly quick and simple.
I managed last year to do a simple 10 piece wardrobe in a month for a PR contest where I missed the start, and as it was all knit tops, a simple jacket and faced waist pants this was quite doable. For a newcomer to SWAP and a person with relatively beginner skills thats the sort of thing that would be ideal for them for SWAP this year.
But the SWAP contests have been going for a few years now, and some of us have done quite a few of them, so I can see that DL wanted each of us to develop from where we are at now. Its very clever in that means new stuff for all of us.

BUT, and this is where I am struggling with my own personal challenges, I can clearly see how I can move on in my sewing with tailored pants, jackets etc. I obviously have to learn a lot there, and those are garments I want to sew and wear. Over the years I've moved from elastic waist pants with plain machined hems, to faced waists and invisible zippers, and now on to curved waistbands and front pockets. The next logical step for me is to add in welt pockets. (I am loathe to add fly zipper in becuase I have a little fat belly, and avoid front zippers to reduce the bulk in this area).

Jackets similarly I have a lot ahead of me in terms of techniques to learn and improve, and I wear jackets for work all the time, and cardigans/soft jackets/casual jackets at home and the rest of the time. So improving my skills in those areas also makes sense.

Shirts and blouses have been stymied a little by fitting problems, but some recent discoveries about forward head alterations (which came out of the London sewing weekend) may help there. I don't wear a lot of shirts and blouses, and I'm not sure if this is just becuase I've had so much trouble getting a nice fit, or whether even of they fit I would choose knits for comfort and my own personal preference.

I am planning on adding at least one structured shirt style blouse and a more drapey tie neck style blouse into the SWAP. Again lots of opprtunities for improving skills in plackets, collars, cuffs, plackets etc.
However I am still going to want to have the majority of my tops from nice knits. And because I've already seen a lot of improvement in my knit sewing, and I do a lot of it, its harder to find technique improvements in this area. Maybe they can be small things like new neckband finishes, working out how to add a buckle to a knot front top, adding an integral cami to aforementioned knot front top etc. And of course mastering the coverstitch machine, since she and I have a tricky relationship still.

Fitting and embellishments don't seem to be in the spirit of the 'new techniques', though for me the fitting problems often block improvements in other areas. I have had a few revelations in the last year or two which seems to show that due to my 'S' spine, where I am tipped forward or backwards instead of being straight, almost all of my alterations imvolve adding or removing wedge shapes rather than simple length or width alterations. Interestingly I have not lost any more weight recently but a few people have asked if I've lost weight, I think my clothes just fit a little better!

Apologies for the long post, but I am thinking as I type :-)

PR Challenge Contest: One Pattern Wardrobe, Tweed Skirt

Obviously still needing further work - hemming, shortening of lining, securing of waist elastic, this little skirt is cut from tweed on the bias instead of the intended knit specified by the pattern. However I think its going to work out fairly well once I've sorted the lining so it doesn't show.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

PR Challenge Contest: One Pattern Wardrobe, Camo dress

Not sure whether this will go in the contest as well as its yet another scoop neck t shirt dress. I just love these so much at the moment, they are great with boots and a cardi and you are off.
The print is a sort of green camo on black, with tiny gold dots on the sections between the green areas.
This also needs coverhemming. The fabric is poly so we'll have to see how comfortable it is to wear in reality.
Please note the previous two posts NOW have pictures due to readers requests!
And yes I know they are hanger shots, but folks come on, its still better than nowt right?

PR Challenge Contest: One Pattern Wardrobe

You may recall I decided to take part in the PR Challenge Contest: One Pattern Wardrobe. This is atwo week contest from 1 to 14 November to sew 3 items (or more) from the same pattern. I chose New Look 6735 as my starting point.

So far I have cut out and partially sewn up 3 items from this pattern, the first is a dress in a black print with green flowers. This is the knit top lengthened and flared out a bit. I used a scrap of plain black for the neckband, and am pretty pleased with it. Still needs lots of coverhemming.
 The second item uses the leftovers of the same print fabric, also with a black neckband, but I wanted to change things a little so although I used the lower part of the sleeves, I overlayed the sleeve cap from the draped sleeve from Simplicity 2956. I think doing this invalidates the use for the contest, but I wanted something fresh, and these draped sleeves are a really current look here and I wanted to incorporate them.
This is wonderful, though slightly costumey, but I think its a very wearable look. This also needs coverhemming.

The third item was made assuming the first would be disallowed, so this is the classic knit top made in a black rib knit. I'm a bit disappointed with this as its come out loose and bulky not sleek and figure skimming, so I might see if it shrinks up a bit after a hot wash, if not I might have to recut or donate it. The fabric was from the bottom of the stash when I bought stuff cheaply and isn't a great knit fabric hence the issues so if it does turn into a wadder I can live with that, except I would then have only one piece for the contest which would be a bit of a shame.

Next up coverhemming the top and dress, and then cutting out and sewing up a black cardigan and a bias cut lined tweed skirt. I have some black poly charmeuse which would make a delectable lining for the skirt.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

New Patterns and Fabrics

My 'about to be discontinued Simplicity/New Look' patterns arrived today. I'm very happy with them. I also went to Leeds market at lunchtime and bought some fabric from Jacks Fabrics. So whilst not exactly sewing I am indulging the sewing whims.

---------------
For those wanting pics, click on the grey words above to see the patterns, and here are the fabrics I bought.
Left is a nice stretchy cotton knit printed in mid blue, turquoise, aqua, lime and spring green on white.
It is a really mad Ruthie print, and whilst I bought it thinking to make a top to wear with blue jeans I am very very tempted to make it into a summer knit dress. Its pretty loud though! This does however seem to be ME and I am exploring more at the moment what I actually like and makes me happy.
Centre is a black linen/viscose woven printed with white. This is lovely though apparently not colourfast. I was recommended to wash it with salt, which I have done, though whether this will have fixed the colour I don't know. This says drapey summer skirt to me.
Right is an emerald green crinkled knit printed in a similar colour. The stretch goes the opposite way to the crinkles/pattern stripes though, so this would have to have the stripes going horizontally around the body which is visually less than ideal. This also says summer knit dress to me.
So although I bought these in November, they are really summer fabrics and will go away in the cupboard for another day.

Monday, 1 November 2010

November dawns

November dawns and for the next two weeks I am going to try to mentally park the SWAP and instead do the PR Challenge Contest: One Pattern Wardrobe which lasts from November 1st to 14th, 2010.

I decided to make a dress (lengthened top), top and skirt from this pattern (New Look 6735) as my starting point. If I have time I might add the jacket as well. I had other plans beyond that but they might just morph off into the Pattern Review Endless Wardrobe contest which follows on straight after becuase actually 2 weeks is not very long and I'm away a couple of days a week both weeks.