Black Lives Matter

Saturday 31 January 2009

Skirt pattern lengthening

The challenge to lengthen this pattern from 28" to something longer - at least 33".
So I set about with a red pen and a ruler.

I have managed to add 6 1/4" which I think will make the finished length something like 34 1/2", a little bit long maybe even for me (I am 5' 6") so that will be quite long on me.
It seemed simple enough adding on at the top and bottom of the first panel (1" each), 1 3/4" at the bottom of the centre panel and 1" at the top,. and then 1 1/2" at the hem. I left the upper curved seam of the lower panel alone. The tricky bit was adding the appropriate amounts on the corners of the centre panel - where it joins the hem and the waist - to make it come out level.
I think this is maybe where its confusing (it sure was for me) and there is a LOT of sellotape sticking little pieces of paper back there! I think I have got it right now, though I am having great trouble taking a photo of it all to show what the result looks like.

Having done that I am seriously wondering whether the simplest way would have been to just make the centre panel wider by cutting it in half on the cross grain (90 degrees to the grainline) and spreading it the required amount - that would have left the waist and hem un-messed with, though would change the visual proportions of the skirt if that centre panel is larger. Marked in green on diagram at left.

What next?

I am honestly not quite sure what to sew next, and so I downloaded some of my CDs to my ipod and had a think.
This has not produced any decision, but at least there is more music on the ipod :-)

I would quite like to sew Burda 8407 skirt in a pinstripe fabric but I can't find it. And I'm not prepared to buy it again.
I have three Hotpatterns - they recommend a muslin first though - so maybe I pick one of them and have a go.
Or I could try to replicate a very flattering RTW knit top for my SWAP.

Maybe I'll make some phone calls and pair socks whilst watching TV.....

Saturday 24 January 2009

Shoulder Pads

Well the shoulder pads are sewn in, but this has not yet produced the magic I was hoping for, as I have not yet found the shoulder pad stash. Its gotta be in the sewing room somewhere, but who knows?
I tried the jacket on and it hangs much better with the pads in.
I am not sure what to do about closures though, to have it sit properly across the bust it looks to need a fastening at bust level, but will also need another at the waist.
I wonder if its visually OK to have two sets of frogs? If I need three I'll have to go back next week and buy some more (they come in packs of two).

I suppose I could just have hooks on the inside which didn't show. I don't want buttons and loops.

Still not found the pattern for the Burda 8407 skirt. I think I cut the pattern pieces out for last year's SWAP but never made it up.

Maybe I'll spend 1/2 hr tidying boxes in the sewing room and then head off to bed.

Notions for jacket

Since I usually find that the best way to find something you have mislaid is to replace it, I went and bought a pair of shoulder pads for the jacket. Hopefully as soon as I have sewn them in, the box with the multiple pairs of spare shoulder pads will magically appear, and if not at least the jacket will have made progress.
I also bought some frog closures for the jacket as well as some tape and peterstretch (a cross between Petersham and elastic used in waistbands which Janet Moville uses on her courses).

I am trying to buy whatever I can from my local haberdashery shop (a permanent covered stall on the market) becuase otherwise it won't be there when I need something in future and I'll have to go to the next town or further.

'Shirtmaking' Arrived

Well I am happy to say that the copy of 'Shirtmaking' I ordered on Wednesday evening arrived this morning in immaculate condition.
Bought from Hay-On-Wye Booksellers. Very happy customer!
Its mostly orientated to men's shirts which I suppose is fair enough, but as I am barely a B cup a lot of the drafting stuff would probably work for me too.
For some reason he doesn't like darts (or I guess princess seams), but there are some vintage inspired women's shirts which have some waist shaping.
I am so over the big shapeless shirt of the early 90s, but I not yet managed to sew a fitted blouse which actually fits me.
Anyway I think I will get the most out of this book in terms of small details - interesting cuffs etc.
But we will see. The DVD which goes with the book is also on order but I think has to come form the US so might take weeks.
Sewing ladies in the US often recommend looking in the library for sewing books but I have never seen any worth having in the libraries in the UK, so I read a few reviews and then go ahead and order the books online. I have built quite a nice library of style/colour/sewing books now and often reference them.

Friday 23 January 2009

Lining and collar

This evening I turned the collar as per the method in David Page Coffin's Shirtmaking book, attached it to the jacket, put the sleeves into the lining, inserted the lining and layered the seam.
I've turned the lining through now (via side seam) but not pressed, sewn the sleeve hems or inserted the shoulder pads.
One reason is because its gone 10pm now and I am pretty tired, and the other is that I can't seem to find the shoulder pads. The jacket isn't bad without them (I tried it on) it just doesn't hang the same way from the shoulders, so I am going to pause there for tonight and have another sewing session on it tomorrow.
After that I might try it on with the matching trousers and one of the tops and take a photo to post here.

Thursday 22 January 2009

Today's progress

This evening I sewed up the body of the lining and inserted the sleeves into the jacket.
I ordered 'Shirtmaking' by David Coffin for some collar tips.
Anyway here's what the jacket looks like with sleeves, obviously still got a lot to do.
Does show that an hour or maybe a bit more a few evenings in a week and you can accomplish quite a lot.
(Didn't manage anything yesterday evening as too tired after a long day).

Tuesday 20 January 2009

jacket progress

Today I cut out the lining for the jacket, sewed up the main jacket sleeves and pressed them and stitched up the collar. I've not turned it through yet as I want to find some tips on how to get really crisp corners.
But that's about it as I came home from work late and am a bit tired now.

Tomorrow I am travelling for work which will be a long day so may not manage any sewing when I get home.
Sewing when tired is usually stupid anyway as I just have to un pick it all the next day as I have messed up somewhere along the line!

Off for a lavender scented bubble bath and bed.
Happy Sewing!!

Monday 19 January 2009

Turquoise jacket started

I've sewn up the body of the jacket this evening and pressed it and hung it on a hanger.
I am trying to be good and follow the instructions which seem OK so far.
I top stitched the front and back princess seams to emphasise them and they came out a little wrinkly and needed a lot of pressing, so I might not do that again when I make the stripe version.
Trying to do the approach of doing a few steps every night, so I might have an actual garment to share by the weekend.

Sunday 18 January 2009

Turquoise Pants are done

Hems are now done on the turquoise pants. I used the blind hem foot and stitch as I am fed up of hand sewing pant hems.
They are OK but the stitch does show a little, I guess I should have practised on the curtains first!

I also cut out the turquoise jacket, though still need to do the lining.

The turquoise fabric has a black slub running through it crosswise, which I have chosen to have running up and down the garments rather than across, so I have cut everything out at right angles to the selvedges. Its worked out fine but has made the cutting out (particularly of the jacket) harder, especially as I have been trying to make the best use of my fabric, so I have a huge piece hanging off the edge of the cutting board all the time :-).

The plus is that I still have 2 metres of 150cm wide fabric left, so can make some sort of cool skirt to match the jacket as well- not sure what I am going to do. I rather fancy a self drafted waterfall skirt. I've also been cutting off the selvedge as I go because its got a pretty fringed effect from the turquoise and black threads mixed together, not sure what I'll do with it though.

Turquoise pants almost done

The turquoise pants are done except for the hems. I tried them on and the fit on these is as good as the other 2 pairs from this pattern.

I have enjoyed sewing them, the colour has been a real boost in the arm as the weather is miserable here at the moment. Part of me did wonder if turquoise pants are just too crazy and if I will wear them, but when I tried them on I went to my wardrobe and pulled out a few items to see what I had to wear with them (if anything). And without too much hunting I found 5 tops which work with the pants - both the knit tops I sewed already for the SWAP, two RTW knit tops I already own plus a sweater, so I dare say they are not such a crazy item after all. Real life will show if I reach for them out of the wardrobe when getting dressed :-) I suspect they will see more use for dressy occasions (e.g. weddings) or in the summer than this time of year. I can see them working well with a white top and brown leather sandals, bag, belt etc, so maybe I will add belt loops for said belt.

Anyway hems and picture tomorrow and then I will start on the matching jacket, which will give me a funky suit if worn together but also be wearable as separates too I hope.

Friday 16 January 2009

Turquoise pants

I loved those Burda WOF pants so much I am cutting out a third pair - in the turquoise textured fabric. Making me very happy to sew them :-)

And in other news the arrival of the latest HotPatterns newsletter in my mailbox encouraged me to place an order for the Plain and Simple Everyday pants, since I have to try that crotch curve for myself.
Also the Miss Moneypenny Pussycat Blouse because its a shape I would wear, especially for work.

My fabric tastes

It has been interesting going through almost all of my fabric in one evening.
Lots of plain fabric but that has surface texture - self stripes, cord, denim, flecks or woven from 2 colours. Also quite a lot of pinstripes. Not a lot in the way of prints, though I did not go through the knits - as the knits are for tops I have a few more prints in there I think.

Once I go through and cut swatches of everything, and get a bit more realistic about what I am keeping from the home dec remnants and scraps I shall have everything in order.

I think going forwards I need to get into consulting my swatch cards before sewing since I have lots of very usable fabric in there.
I'm also going to try and be a bit more sensible about some of my UFOs (unfinished objects) - partly made or gone wrong projects. Some of these need to be thrown away or made into shopping bags rather than continue to be housed.
Interestingly a few of my UFOs are prints - harder to be 'me' I think.

Recycle idea

Two years ago I made this reversible elastic waist skirt. Since I've now lost over 2 stone (30lbs) its a bit big and I thought I'd like to recycle it into something the new trimmer me could wear.

Thursday 15 January 2009

Fabric Sort

I had my initial quick go through my fabric today and put 2 large boxes of fabric to go which I am pleased about. One is home dec stuff for a friend who makes and sells bags, and the other for a dressmaking friend who can wear pink, navy and grey (which are not great colours on me)

There were two bags of home dec I did not tackle but most of that will go to the bag making friend once I have checked its not needed.

I've not swatched anything more yet, and there are surely some scraps that can go but I was pleased with my first pass.
I did get a little sidetracked petting some of the fabric which I greeted as a lost friend when I found it.
There were also a few pieces I have no recollection of buying so most of those are being given away.

There is scope to get rid of more but today was a quick sort of stuff I could definitely live life without, so thats good. I can go through being more picky on another day.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

button themed drawing pins

How to make your own
Collect drawing pins from drawers, noticeboards and pots of bits and pieces around the house.
Push the drawing pins into a cork coaster and place level on a table surface.
Leave a gap between each pin.
Now rifle through your button tin (I am sure you have one) and find buttons that match your sewing room decor, I chose white, green, pink and a few metallics/browns.
Find a tube of superglue.
**be careful not to stick your fingers together, ask me how I know****
Drip superglue onto the head of the drawingpin. Now drop a button carefully onto the glue and press lightly. Do NOT get any superglue on you.
Repeat with all the pins and buttons you can find.
resist the temptation to mess with any of the buttons, leave to dry overnight.
Laugh with glee and pin stuff to the cork board above your sewing machine. Now you will never lose the pattern instructions again.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Used buttons, sewing themed and FUN!!!!
Fabric Used:
Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
Would be even better with those little sewing themed buttons (scheming where to find some)
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I have made 40 button topped drawing pins and I think that is way more than enough :-)
I know its a crafty thing, but it was fun.
P.S. Washing up liquid and hot water will unstick your fingers, whilst your DH tuts in the background.
I'm a brit, so I think some of the words are different. I think drawingpins are thumbtacks, but I bet your superglue is just as sticky as mine so be careful.

Sunday 11 January 2009

Swatching the stash - the materials

I went to WHSmith and bought a card index box and several packets of 6 inch by 4 inch record cards. they don't have them online, but I am sure everyone knows what these things look like.
I was briefly excited when I noticed they had some coloured pastel cards as well - yellow/green/pink/blue I think but then I thought that would subtract from the colour of the swatches and it was best to stick with plain white, if a little boring.

So the idea is to cut a swatch from each fabric, staple it to the card and write on the card
colour and type of fabric, fibre content if I can tell, size of the piece ie 150cm wide, 3.5 m and any other stuff. Most of mine I can't recall what I paid for it, and not always where I bought it though I will start to add this for new stuff going forwards.

I have not started yet, so we'll have to see if it comes to anything after all.

Sew Hip magazine

I picked up a copy of the new UK sewing magazine 'Sew Hip' - this is the February 2009 edition.
The sewing level in it is pretty basic, and it is rather Cath Kidson florals but I like the fact that it had a variety of fabric based projects including some for little boys. I don't have kids myself but do have nephews and a godson so could see myself making up as little gifts for them.

If going forward there is one project each edition I would do, I am going to buy it, just to encourage the magazine. More and more these days if I want a store or magazine to still be there I go and buy it or something from the store.

Projects I really liked - There is a Joli Cube Bag by Heidi Messinghall which is fun, but my sort of handcrafted and a Union Jack cushion by Janet Clare which is fun but not too flowery.

There are some other interesting projects, but none where I am wondering if I can rearrange what I planned for this evening to have a go at them though I might revisit at a later date.

There's a nice emphasis on recycling old clothing and fabric into new stuff which fits with my personal ethos and makes sense in the current economic climate.

Blind hem foot for Janome Memory Craft 4000

I promised DH that I would sew curtains for the living room in the new house - it currently has annoying dark yet see through blinds which get jammed on the window catches and are going to be replaced by curtains in old gold with script writing. In the past my curtains have been low tech with a plain machined hem, but in the new house, and generally in my sewing now, I am trying to step up a level and produce a better quality product.
Since I am unwilling to hand sew curtian hems I thought I had better learn how to use a blind hem.
So I watched to a video on youtube from a link on 'http://sewingontheedge.blogspot.com/'
If you want to see the link it is 'http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdKe9crSHac'.
Then I went off searching for the blind hem foot for my machine (Janome Memory Craft 4000) online only to find that it comes as standard with the machine!
If you have a Janome Memory Craft 4000, the blind hem foot looks like this (see pic). So I will have a go with a few samples first and then work round shortening some of the existing curtains (from the other house) which are way too long, and are just hanging down covering half of the radiators here. By the time I actually make the new curtains I should be quite good at using the foot.

Saturday 10 January 2009

My cat loves shoes too

Where else would you sleep, if you were a cat, among all the shoes your owner has been trying on, of course.

Next garment

My next planned garment is to test New Look 6516 in stash fabric (turquoise/textured) before I go ahead and make it up in my striped suiting.
So far I have read the pattern instructions and nothing more. I was pleased to see that the instructions are for a bagged lining - wo hoo! the pattern companies have joined modern times!

The jacket is going to be made from a textured fabric which is bright turquoise woven with black - the result a slightly flecked turquoise (still pretty bright) which I love. It'll also have a turquoise lining, because hey if its gonna be turquoise it might as well be stonkingly turquoise!

And I think I am going to add a centre back seam too, because I really need to be able to fine tune the fit at the back neck and just below the waist. I plan to do view E without the ribbon trim (too much fuss for me) and with a frog fastening of some sort.

I have loads of the turquoise fabric, so could have a whole turquoise suit - not sure if that would just be scary bright and too much, or of actually that's quite me and the office will just have to get used to it.....

Friday 9 January 2009

Fabrics close up

Fabrics close up

Burda 10-2008-132 Stripe Pants

Here are some photos of the recently made Burda 10-2008-132 Stripe Pants. I must admit I did not see the back wrinkles until I saw the photos!
I have worn these all day in the car and the office, so I think they have held up quite well :-)

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Sewing With A Plan - in practice

I was musing to myself about the whole idea of Sewing With A Plan, as I know I sometime feel guilty when I have to (or want to) deviate from 'THE PLAN'.
But it seems to me like this I am sewing with a plan in mind rather than whatever I fancy (the old disorganised way), and that has to be a good idea right? And it is not intended I believe to be Sewing TO the Plan.
I am sure a few of us have hit obstacles, a pattern we liked online is unavailable, fabric yardage turns out to be too little to make what we planned and we can't get any more, we make something up for the plan and somehow it doesn't look quite how we hoped or imagined it would do and we have to find something else. Stuff doesn't match how we thought, necklines don't work together and etc etc.

One of my items was a cap sleeve top and in the cool winter weather I decided to change it to having long sleeves. I am still very unsure about my original first item - the teal crinkle gore skirt - why wear an item that makes me look like i gained all the weight back again?

Anyway I concluded that I am not going to beat myself up over this and as long as my final wardrobe satisfies all the rules and has many of the original components then I reckon that's OK. As sewers we can sometimes be too hard on ourselves, striving for perfection when sometimes, really a lot better than good enough is perfectly OK.
I'm trying to regain the joy of the possibilities of the patterns, the feel of the different fabrics, that moment when I try something on and it fits me better than any RTW - those moments are worth it and are why I sew.

Sunday 4 January 2009

Stash reorg and more box unpacking...

I have to take a sewing break for a little while to deal with my fabric stash (pre sorting so a couple of friends can have some of my excess yardage) and also the nightmare that is my study.
(well we'll see hey, I always say I am going to go and do X first and then I pop up and show something I have been sewing!!)
I am hoping to get the spare room suitable for guests by the end of the month, which means dealing with a whole load of boxes before then.

Saturday 3 January 2009

Fabric Inventory

I had a little count up of my fabric boxes today, in the hope of getting a handle on it a bit more.

I have 2 tea chests (triple thickness cardboard) and 4 medium boxes in the garage.
1 tea chest size and 6 medium size in the sewing room cupboard and 7 smaller boxes in what should be the guest room.
Plus a suitcase, 2 large bags and another box of recent purchases (since October).
Hmm I think I have it pretty bad!
(I am going to repack it all into the medium sized boxes to be more manageable)

Friday 2 January 2009


The pinstripe pants are looking good, need the facing stitching down by hand, and the pant legs hand hemming (which takes me ages, but I know looks good, and I am trying to up my presentation a notch this year.)

I brought my fabric stash back from offsite storage today though I have not been through it at all yet. It is stacked in boxes in the garage so at least I can access it.
I am going to go through it and put some stuff as give away to my sewing friends, some for muslins, and everything in generally smaller boxes so they are more manageable.
Some less exciting fabric had been stored elsewhere so I will amalgamate it all (which I am sure will horrify poor DH).

Meanwhile the bedroom wall which was dark blue is now 'Old Gold' which I like much better, though it needed four coats of paint to get to that (two magnolia to cover the dark blue, and two gold to get even coverage).

I think my next item will be the jacket pattern sewn up in turquoise slubbed fabric to test if I want to use that pattern for the final pinstripe fabric. I kinda fancy doing matching pants but I probably would not wear them!

Thursday 1 January 2009

Stash Contest item

Since I had such good results with the Burda WOF pants pattern, I think I will try it again in a stash fabric - I have a dark charcoal pinstripe fabric I think would be great, and would also fit in to my larger plan for the ongoing SWAP I am sewing with Stitchers Guild.

But first I need to go and paint a wall in the bedroom :-)

January Contests on PR

There are 3 contests running on pattern review during January. All ones I would love to be part of.
They are refashioning, Stash and UFOs.

The refashioning is something new to me but I really like the idea of it. This is where you take an existing fabric item- curtains, a dress, a long skirt etc and treat the fabric in it as yardage to cut out and sew something else. I am sure that generations ago we would have all been great at this but its now cool again as being green.

Stash is sewing fabric that you have had for more than 6 months, this is to encourage you to use stuff you have already bought. I tend to be most enthusiastic about new purchases, but have quite a large stash.

UFOs, this is unfinished objects and encourages you to complete items which have been left half done.
Most of my half done things are like that for a reason though (horrid fabric, terrible style, appalling fit), so maybe they should be thrown out (something I find hard to do).