Black Lives Matter

Friday 31 December 2010


Having just emptied my sewing room prior to moving in February, I found a lot of UFOs, half done projects, things I want to recut etc, and I wonder if this should be the season of doing that stuff rather than the SWAP and 12 jackets......
I love sewing new stuff, but maybe this year I should finish some old projects off.

Sunday 26 December 2010

Shearling update

I've finished my little faux shearling jacket though it needs hooks and eyes or some other sort of closure that works on an edge to edge jacket.
In the end I edged it with strips of the fur side removed from the backing as the raw edges didn't look too nice. I like the furry edges, but it does need some of those jacket clips or something to do the front up nicely. Its very warm and if nothing else will be great for late night surfing or reading.
It's rather late here tonight, so I'll do a photo of it tomorrow.
I'd like to lightly press it, but no idea what that would do to the shearling, quite possibly not anything good. Perhaps the edges will flatten out with wear?

Shearling dilemma

I have a dilemma, I can't decide if the piece of coral pink embroidered faux shearling should be a waistcoat or cropped jacket.
As a casual fabric I'm unlikely to wear it over dresses, and I'm not sure I'd wear a bolero length jacket with a longer top and trousers and feel comfortable. But I don't wear sleeveless jackets at all as my arms get cold.
I do only have one metre of fabric though......
My latest thoughts are to change the front to a two piece shaped style and see if I can get a longer body and still keep the sleeves. Some little patch pockets would be cute too and would not need much fabric.
Let me see what I can come up with. I do love the sleeves on the bolero jacket from Burda, the shaped two piece gives a really nice sleeve.

edited to add I morphed the sleeve of the Burda with the bodice of a favourite waistcoat pattern and have a little short jacket. Just need to insert the sleeves, trim the edges neatly and topstitch the edges and I'm done!

Classic brown boots

I was given some money for Christmas and decided to use it to buy these lovely classic brown boots.
They are the 'Grace' brown leather boots from The Bootmakers and I was very happy that they had my size (foot and calf width) in the sale.  As you can see they are a very plain classic style, and have a low heel so practical for actually walking about the place. (P.S. I know heels look great, but hey my knees hurt if I wear even a mid heel all day so I've gone for wearability!).
I'm a 'Clear Spring' in colouring and the signature neutral for a Clear spring is apparently a very dark brown, so I try to pick up dark brown leather goods when I see them, as anything which doesn't work with black seems to work with brown instead.

The sewing I have planned for the Spring is also based around brown, so I will have some boots to wear with any new creations!
(I ordered online, so they've not actually come yet, I hope they are as lovely in person as the pictures. I am pleased with the simple lines, lots of other boots had buckles and faux brogue detailing and other nonsense, I just wanted PLAIN boots!)

Saturday 25 December 2010

A Jacket a Month for 2011: January Burda

I'd like to participate in 'A Jacket a Month for 2011' but I'll need to see how life works out over the next year or so.

January Burda is great and has a lot of very wearable clothes, which makes a nice change.
I was so entralled that I traced off the little bolero jacket 117 this evening and made a muslin.
The muslin showed it needed to be longer (if fabric allowed) and have the back neck taken in at the top for my forward head.
My fabric will be a coral embroidered faux shearling (From last year's Harrogate show), but I am not quite sure what to do about the edges. I could just cut them raw and then top stitch the edges to stop the layers separating too much.
I think I got my layout sorted this evening, but I'll save the cutting for when I am a bit fresher.
Pictures below show the bolero

Friday 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, with love from Ruthie.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Vogue Wardrobe V2989

I'm quite inspired by Vogue 2989 which I bought at the BMV stand at the Harrogate show.
The model even wears jewellery like some pieces I have.
Not sure I'd make the knit pants tbh, and the skirts would need to be a smidge longer, but its quite wearable don't you think?

Project pack up the sewing room has begun and of course has left the remaining stuff unusable for the moment, though I am having a look at the fabrics as I sort and pack them and some are getting left out to be sewn :-)
The jacket LOOKS like its sewn from a sweater knit, though that's not listed on the envelope. Sewing with sweater knits is new to me, so could fit with the new techniques IF I can work out how to sew the fabric.

I think I'll make a bit of time to read the instructions through a few times and see what I think.

Here are the current reviews of V2989 on Pattern Review.

Sewing With A Plan : Dec 26th 2010 to April 30th 2011

The annual Sewing With A Plan contest hosted at Stitchers Guild kicks off on December 26th. This has the short name of SWAP, but its the initials of the contest and not about swapping anything, you get to keep everything you sew.
To participate you don't have to buy anything from anyone, just go and become a member of Stitchers Guild, and post on the SWAP discussion thread.

As Pattern Review are NOT doing a full wardrobe contest this year, this is the only contest out there that I know of to sew your own whole collection. Obviously you can use any commercial sewing patterns, tried and tested old favourites, self drafted etc and any fabric of your choice as long as you meet the requirements of garments in the rules. The twist this year is to push yourself slightly on techniques, and to perfect or learn new techniques which you use on 8 of the 11 garments.
Go read up the rules and the replies by the fabulous DragonLady to see the details of what's in scope for the techniques area.

I'm packing up and moving during the early part of this contest (and potentially again at the very end) so will probably not be able to participate all the way through, though I shall still have a good go, making sure that laptop and sewing machines get unpacked first at every location!

If you'd like to see more the photos of the last 2 years entries are in Ann Rowley's Flickr set
SWAP 2010
SWAP 2009

Sunday 12 December 2010

Knit dress - timed out for now

I was hoping to make the crazy print knit into a dress, but other life stuff needing doing and I've not had chance to sew.
Instead I've pulled various bits out of the wardrobe to assemble a suitable outfit based around a plain black RTW knit dress. The dress is boring but I am planning on wearing it with the black velvet bolero, black velvet heeled knee boots, my red leather jacket, a red pashmina and 3 red necklaces - they are all different lengths but have similar colours/ bead shapes, and make an overall nice chunky look. I have a red flower for my hair as well, and will make a bit of effort with makeup. The print dress will have to do for another occasion I suppose.

To SWAP or not to SWAP?

As you know I love sewing co-ordinated wardrobes and SWAP (sewing with a plan) is the classic home of this. Even though Julie Culshaw of Timmel fabrics closed her business, the SWAP lives on at Stitcher's Guild and 2011 is the 8th year of the SWAP contest.
Each year there is a new twist on the original approach, which go in different directions and are meant to take the challenge on further. I have participated for multiple years in a row.
SWAP on stitchers guild

I'm probably not going to particiapte this year as I am moving in February, and between Christmas and Easter will have just a table in the bedroom for the sewing space. I will still be sewing I am sure as its a great stress buster and creative outlet but I need to be able to sew at my own pace the things I want to sew.
Anyway if I find that after Feb I have loads of time to sew then maybe I'll suddenly catch up and be producing garments but somehow I doubt it.

Interestingly in 2011 Pattern Review have left out their full wardrobe contest from the list. Theirs had 10 pieces not 11, but I think it was still too many for a lot of people to participate. They will still be running the mini-wardrobe contest in 2011 (in March), though they are not repeating the Endless Combinations in 2011, the 2010 Endless Combinations is running now and finishes on Tuesday 14th December.

Open to anyone with no prizes other than camerarderie and the garments you produce is Elizabeth's 6 piece collection sew along on Stitchers Guild. I try to play along with this every season if nothing else, though I bend the rules to suit me something shocking, making dresses in winter and leaving out the coat etc as I fancy. Elizabeth is very understanding about this, which I appreciate, and I may even come into line one season.

I have been slowly working on a small collection I call 'Winter Berries', but so far have only made 2 black items (shrug, trousers), not really seeing much of the Berries yet. It's supposed to have a black skirt, a print dress, a knit top and some other stuff which will be red, but I'm not getting a huge amount of sewing time at the moment.

I am away with work 4 days next week, so there may well be a big lot of nothing on the blog for a while.

Friday 10 December 2010

Winter Berries Collection: Print Dress musings

The print fabric is begging to be made up next, and I wanted a change from the usual scoop neck dresses I've been doing, and thought maybe a knot front would be nice. I could morph my Kwik Sew knot front pattern into a dress by adding sleeves and a skirt. Here was what it looked like with sleeves so imagine that with a skirt as well. I'm going to take some length out of the that front neckline as well as its quite low.
Well that's if it'll all bit on the fabric of course which is never a give. I might let myself have some play time today and see what seems to work

Thursday 9 December 2010

Winter Berries Collection: Black Herringbone Trousers hanger shot

Here are the black herringbone trousers. They are cut quite long and fit neatly on the waist. Slightly ironic really since I added belt loops on this version but the waist came out a bit snugger.
Not room to wear thermals underneath, but OK for normal wear.

The pattern is slightly adapted from Burda magazine Feb 2010 #102.

Err there is really not a lot more to say about them, other than that I noticed from these that I am wider and flattish at the front, but have a narrow back waist, and am very curved out to my bottom.
This makes for some pants which look a bit wierd on the hanger it must be said but fit quite nicely when worn.
They are not perfect as this pattern still has some fabric pooling under the butt, but I seem to need that as spread room when I sit down so am willing to live with it I think.

I've got a couple of days off work (Fri and Mon), and could use the mental break. Might not manage much sewing though as I am supposed to be packing for the move.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Burda December arrived

December's Burda Style Magazine arrived, on 7th December so not too terrible I suppose.
Its been in the shops for weeks though which makes me slightly grumpy.
I only have one more magazine left and then am not going to renew my subscription despite the begging letters.
Apparently it would be E82.27 (Euros) though whether that is a saving on the cover price of £4.75 I am not sure. The poor delivery times are more of an issue to me.

I also to need brush up on my German a bit so I can read the Burda website instead of having to go on the completely rubbish Burda Style English language one which has different stuff!

Anyway enough of that, what things do I like..... well I am really liking draped sleeves from View 102.

The boiled wool (loden) skirt view 124
The plus Fur Bolero view 125
Maybe THE design for the red faux fur.......

Monday 6 December 2010

Winter Berries Collection: Black Herringbone Trousers completed

The Black Herringbone Trousers from the Winter Berries Collection are completed but not photographed yet.
They've come out quite well and I am pleased with them. I hope they will be a workhorse item in the wardrobe.
I think the black pencil skirt will be up next or maybe the mad print dress, actually yes the mad print dress would be good.

I now have less than 10 weeks until I move so I should be thinking more about packing and less about mad print dresses, but there you are.....

Here's the fabric for the mad print dress so you can see why it is so called.
 The coin is a British 50 pence coin, and I dare say as useful to any American readers as a quarter is to me when shown to indicate scale. The 50p is quite a big coin, so I think you can tell that its a huge and crazy print, and therefore strangely suitable for a Ruthie.
I might even wear it to one of my up coming Christmas meals out with black velvet knee boots, red lipstick and quite a lot of attitude.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Serger woes: resolved

After several cups of coffee and a trip to the storage unit with some suprisingly heavy boxes of books I was sufficiently alert to have another go at rethreading the serger.
This time I was successful and I have now finished the edges of the main parts of the black herringbone trousers. This is good as its a very fraying fabric, and I wanted to serge the edges before I handled the pieces too much.
I realised that I am in fact using the wrong side of the fabric (and will continue to do so) and the right side is actually grey with black herringbone and a bright blue pinstripe. The wrong side is black herringbone, with less of the grey, and the blue stripe being less obvious.
(A few times recently I have chosen to use the wrong side of the fabric deliberately, and I will continue to be fearless in this, if the effect is more what I want).
I'll be careful when assembling to make sure I have all the black sides out.
The fabric is a mystery remnant from the stash and I can't recall where I bought it, and have no idea of the fabric content. Its not 100% poly as it presses quite nicely. From the slight damp animal small when pressing it wet I am guessing it has some wool content, though it doesn't have any itchy feel to it. (So myabe its viscose/rayon then and its a damp vegetation smell not a damp animal smell.....)
Good progress made on the trousers today. They now only need inner leg seams, waist facing and hems, I gave the outer leg seams a good press and left them on the ironing board to cool and dry.
I decided that tonight was not the night to burn the midnight oil and try to finish the trousers off.
I think I'll have a nicer finish if I take a little time tomorrow and finish them nicely.

The only thing I've done differently on this pair is to add 4 belt loops and a slightly deeper shaped waistband, otherwise they are the same as the previous pairs made from this pattern.
Hopefully as a pair of black trousers, but with the slight interest from the textured fabric they will be useful in the wardrobe.
No pictures as half sewn up trousers are not very inspiring IMHO.
But I will post a hanger shot once they are done.

Saturday 4 December 2010

Serger woes

I AM supposed to be sewing, but on my last garment I stupidly allowed the serger to run out of thread on one of the spools. This evening I decided just to thread the missing spool up, and then to replace the other low spools, and ended up in a terrible mess. After 6 rethreadings (the last two with the book in front of me) I still cannot get it to make the stitch.
After a long and tiring week I think I am just going to call it quits for today, but am frustrated becuase I had an hour to sew this evening, which is now lost.
The plan is to make the black herringbone trousers as I have now cut the missing pocket linings out.
Maybe I should fuse the interfacing to the waistband pieces and have a hot bath with Lavender bath salts and go to bed early. I might wake up a bit more with it and be able to get the darn thing to sew.
Obviously no more garments will be produced until this gets resolved, or I return to the old serger in a fit of pique.
(The older serger is still in the sewing room and has threads attached to make it easy to rethread.
Perhaps if I went back to using it the new serger would feel bad and start co-operating again?
I fear that it is actually operator error and not the fault of any of the machines.

Friday 3 December 2010

Winner's Cup

Pattern Review Challenge : One Pattern Wardrobe Large

Apparently this should show my winners cup.
How cool is that :-)
I've not picked a course just yet as life is in chaos a bit with packing and work and stuff.

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.

Sunday 31 October 2010

SWAP 2011: possible fabrics.

My stash cupboard search for stuff in brown, teal, cream or a combination thereof has resulted in a HUGE number of fabrics (over 40) puthering on the table and floor and I still didn't find the gorgeous silk blouse fabric that I bought at the show last year with Jenni.
So I obviously need to narrow that down a bit more. Quite a few of them are alternatives to each other for example teal, mint and cream shirtings, would only result it one or two garments which might make it into the actual SWAP itself. It was quick and dirty initial sort, for instance pulling out all the teal and turquoise knits, which don't necessary co-ordinate with each other and so on. Some are one offs - for example a nice dark brown faux leather, a cream sweater knit; others probably don't match properly with the dark brown boiled wool (pin stripe trousering) and will go back in the cupboard for another day.
It does show that this colourway is likely to work quite well for a SWAP collection, and as it also works with stuff I already have in the wardrobe should be wearable in my real life, so I think I will do another sort whilst its daylight to try and remove the fabrics which don't work with the boiled wool at all (ie the brown in them in warmer etc).
Having talked through these with Jenni there is now a smaller box full for the SWAP (some choices still depending on mood, wadders and fabric lenghts), and a big pile which need slotting back into the cupboard.
I seem to have mislaid the teal silk I bought at the show last year from M Rosenberg and son, and also some teal linen (not that I was going to use the linen) so I must've put them somewhere together when inspiration struck at some point. They'll turn up, probably when I am looking for something else, so I'm not too traumatised.

SWAP 2011

As mentioned before the SWAP 2011 Official Rules have been announced which is very exciting. As a person I am inspired more by fabric and colours/textures first and then have the patterns to fit with that.
So having had a very excited chat on the phone with Jenni, I am now going to go and destroy the stash cupboard by pulling out my dark chocolate brown boiled wool from Germany (this is going to be my key piece which everything else has to work with) and anything else which looks like its going to co-ordinate with it.
I think this year I am going to go back to one of my favourite colour combinations of chocolate brown, teal and cream as I have loads of gorgeous fabrics already in these colourways, wonderful wools and silks, faux leather, cotton shirting etc.
I will take a photo of the fabrics once they are pulled out and assembled, then I will park them in a box and tomorrow start on the Pattern Review challenge in black and spring green (a mini winter collection, that will then morph on itno the Endless Combinations contest as well).

Possible techniques for the SWAP
  • silk blouse
  • leather or faux leather skirt
  • boiled wool with lapped seams
  • welt pockets
  • fly front zipper
  • hand picked top stitching
  • hand made thread loops
  • using woven and knit fabrics in the same garment
  • a buckle on a knit top
  • perfecting coverstitching
  • zipped pockets
  • flat felled seams and other traditional shirt construction techniques
  • working with non-stretch lace
  • classic lined wool pencil skirt, with the back vent properly handled with the lining (this always gets me in a tangle)

I am sure some other techniques will come up as I do some research.
I'm going to be moving in March, but I've moved mid SWAP before so should be able to cope with that again! I just leave my sewing stuff out until the very last moment possible!

New techniques for knits: any suggestions

I'd like to extend my sewing with knits to the next level and am open to ideas for new techniques.
I have an overlocker and a coverstitch machine (as well as a 'normal' machine) and tend to sew a knit garments with all 3 machines.

My basics tend to be knit tops or knit dresses which have set in sleeves, applied band at the neckline, or the edge turned under and cover hemmed. The hems are cover hemmed, the sleeves either coverhemmed as well or have an applied cuff.

I've never done binding thats sewn on, collars on knits, mixing woven with knit in the same garment. I tend to make the same few simple patterns up over and over in different fabrics. That's great for strong prints but it would be nice to do some things that have a bit more detail/interest to them. Perhaps make tops which look like they came from a more expensive store (only no-one can figure out where!)

SWAP 2011 Official Rules

The SWAP rules are up at Stitchers Guild!

Option #1:
6 tops  - t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
4 bottoms - jeans, pants, shorts, skirts or kilts.
1 your choice (not an accesory)

Option #2:
2 dresses -single pieces consisting of top and bottom that can be worn alone.
6 tops  - t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
2 bottoms - jeans, pants, shorts, skirts or kilts.
1 your choice (not an accesory)

Option #3:
5 dresses -single pieces consisting of top and bottom that can be worn alone.
4 tops  - t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
1 bottom  - jeans, pants, shorts, skirt or kilt.
1 your choice (not an accesory)

3 garments may be purchased or previously sewn.
1 may be knitted or crocheted.

Now here's your twist:

Every garment should be made with a technique or feature that you haven't tried, or haven't mastered.  My personal Waterloo is zippers -hate 'em, because I have to take them out and redo them at least once, every time.  And there are several things I've sampled, but have never used on a garment -slotted seams, for one. 

That doesn't mean every garment should have a zipper, if that's what you have trouble with.  But at least one should.  And if you never mastered buttonholes, at least one garment should have one.  If you've never made a flat-felled seam, now's the time. Smiley

Because this will be more challenging, I'm allowing one more garment to be puchased so that everyone can be pretty sure to finish in time.  I know last year was more fussy, but this year will be more apt to have pieces that need to be redone, or may even cause a wadder or two.  So to offset that, the total number of garments to be made is one less.

Sewing will begin December 26th, and all garments must be finished by April 30th, 2010.  Because this is a shorter time frame, pattern fitting and cutting may be done whenever you're ready.

I might actually have to make a technique sample book as I work on new techniques! Argh.
I have a lot to choose from welt pockets, front fly zippers, collars with a stand, flat felled seams, hong kong finish, tailored fitted jacket, working with boiled wool and doing lapped seams, making a woven dress that actually fits! etc
As I love to sew with knits I need to come up with some things I've not done with knits to extend my skills there too, but although I have been using my coverstitch we have an uneasy relationship which I can't be said to have mastered.
I wonder what else I can learn to make my knit sewing move to the next level?