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Monday 30 July 2012

Collection Planning

I do have quite a large fabric stash, and quite a lot of it was bought deliberately with SWAP type wardrobes in mind, only I didn't really follow through and sew them all up at the time. So I can often find co-ordinating fabrics when the muse strikes me. This is good :-) but does require storage space. I am currently on a fabric diet, and really trying to not buy anything new. This is fairly easily done by not going near fabric shops, which is fairly doable in my normal life.

When I want to sew a collection I think about the main colours - normally a base and a colour - e.g. black and red or brown and orange. I then go off into the stash and pull more pieces than I need which match those colours, refine it a bit later in daylight when I can see if things really 'go', and put some of them back. I then sew up a few co-ordinating garments without changing the thread in the machines.
The plan often morphs as it goes along, and recently I've been doing several garments from the same fabric, rather than putting small remants back, but that may just be a phase.

I am definitely driven by the fabric, which then dictates the pattern, I very rarely work the other way round interestingly.

Sunday 29 July 2012

Sewing Olympics: 5 Garment Challenge - the third completed garment

The third garment is complete. This is the simple scoop neck tank from New Look 6414. I lengthened it by about 2 inches as I want to tuck it in as an underlayer piece. I can always shorten it if I decide its too long. I did a standard (for me) forward head adjustment, and flared out from a 16 round the neck/airmhole/bust to an 18 at the hip. All the hems are coverhemmed which worked quite well except at the most curved parts of the underarm where the stitching did not quite catch for a short distance.
Also in this fabric I have cut out New Look 6071 dress, with long sleeves and the skirt lengthened by 3.5" to bring it just below the knee. I'll probably start sewing that later in the week, but am very happy with the progress so far.

Next piece - simple tank from New Look 6414

I like New Look patterns, I read somewhere the designer is British and the block is slightly different,  from Simplicity. Whatever it is I have had good success with tops, skirts etc from New Look.

Skirts I just take the back waist in a bit.
Tops I do a forward head adjustment, made easy by the fact they often include a slightly shaped centre back seam, I just shape it a bit more - add the wedge in for the forward head to my back piece and take it away from the front piece.
Trousers (pants) don't work too well for me from New Look unless they are super wide leg, I have to do a big alteration to the crotch curve, which ends up with them looking a lot like Burda, so I just skip all that and make Burda pants instead!

Anyway my next item, is something I hope will become a new TNT, a simple sleeveless tank which will be a cami/singlet type underlayer in those colder months. Rather than trying to make little skinny straps found in RTW camis, I'm going to go for the tank style. This should be easier to sew as I'll just coverhem all the hems, and might turn out to be a great way to use up all those small pieces of knit, as well as make some of my knot front tops and dresses wearable again!

For this version I am going to use the lovely leaf print fabric again, but I am going to look a little at the pattern pieces before I cut out, and see what alterations I might want to make.

Here's the pattern I am planning to use - New Look 6414 View C.

Cowl neckline tutorial

Rhonda asked in one of the comments for a tutorial for the neckline on the top, and I'm a little embrassed to give one as it is just so simple.

It took me a little bit to work it out but I loved it so much I made a paper pattern for it, and keep it in the enevelope with all the other variations.

The piece is the same length as the original neckband piece (which it replaces), but then is 45cm wide (approx 18"), and is just a rectangle without any shaping. I usually cut it on the fold, but have made the whole piece in case I need to cut it single layer. This does alter the cutting layout, but doesn't cause me too many problems as the collar and front are on the fold, but the sleeves and back are not (as I have a centre back seam).

This works as its a scoop neckline that's not too deep, so the collar goes over my head with ease - in fact the paper tissue goes round my head fine. The collar is already double in construction, and then is folded over again when worn. This gives 4 layers of knit round the neck, so check that is OK from a fabric thickness perspective and your own personal comfort. In UK Autumn and Winter this is exactly what I want, and replaces the need for me to wear a big scarf (pashmina style) draped around my neck all the time, but may be too hot for other people/climates.

When I come to attach the collar I do the following construction order
1. centre back seam
2. shoulder seams
3. collar centre back seam, to make a tall tube, then fold this in half, WRONG side together.
4. quarter the neckline, quarter the collar and pin on the quarters, keeping the seam at the back - stitch collar to neck starting on one shoulder. Serge.
5. insert sleeves flat
6. sew up sleeve seams and side seams in one go.
7. cover hem the hem of the body and sleeves.

I have coverhem, sewing machine and overlocker (serger) all threaded up in dark brown right now, so maybe should sew a few things which need that colour thread!

Saturday 28 July 2012

Sewing Olympics: 5 Garment Challenge - the second completed garment

I've had a really good run with my second garment.  This is made from the textured tweedy fabric of unknown fibre content bought from a discount fabric shop in NW England. It has a dark brown background and orange and ivory threads woven in randomly. I love the way this style plays with the grain of the fabric.
This is another TNT pattern though not one I've made for a little while this is a flared bias cut skirt made from 3 shaped panels.
Prima is a UK women's magazine which contains a simple sewing pattern for subscribers. Because they are simple patterns they are often really quick to make up and I save them all.
This pattern is from September 2005, so ideal for an Autumn collection.

Sewing Olympics: 5 Garment challenge - the first completed garment

Here's the first garment of my Autumn wardrobe which I am sewing whilst the Olympics are on TV!
It is too warm here to wear this yet, but I shall be glad of it when the weather starts to cool in Autumn.
The fabric is a lovely soft viscose knit by John Kaldor, bought at the Harrogate Show a while back. I planned to sew it up for last Autumn but didn't quite realise my plans.
The pattern is an adaptation of New Look 6735, with a forward head alteration, the sleeves lengthened by 4" and the neckband replaced with a soft roll neck collar.

I've made this exact style twice before and its a great alterative to a roll neck for those of us strangled by a normal roll neck. Its a great good if you are a bit sensitive to wool, to wear under under wool V neck sweaters or wool jackets which would normally chafe on the neck.

I plan to make myself a pile of these for this coming winter to wear under boiled wool jackets, but this is probably the only one for the Olympic Challenge!

Sewing Olympics: 5 Garment Challenge - after Day 1

I moved my furniture around a bit in the living room so I could open my gateleg table out and still see the TV. This worked even better than I expected and seems pretty stable with the sewing machine and overlocker on.

The print jersey top with cowl neck just needs coverhemming and it'll be complete. Then I will have completed my first ring!

 As a Brit I found the opening ceremony very moving, and loved the suffragists, the celebration of children's literaure and the National Health Service. Nearly every reference rang true (some of the more modern music left me a bit cold, but perhaps just showing my age!).

It was on suprisingly late, and sorry everyone after Canada, I'll have to watch you from the recording!

I'll hem the top this evening, and share a picture, before moving on to ring 2, a jersey knit dress.

Friday 27 July 2012

Sewing Olympics - 5 garment challenge

I do have a few things planned this weekend, but I would also like to make a start on my Autumn Collection sewing plans whilst I am excited by them. Perhaps I can drag my gateleg table in front of the TV and cut out whilst the Olympic Opening Ceremony is on. I know Ravelry are having something to do with knitting whilst the Olympics are on, maybe I'll have my own little sewing olympics.

I drew up a little plan of my Autumn Collection last night and its already 11 pieces without even trying. Having said that I'm great at planning all kinds of garments on paper, but they don't always make it through to actual reality.So I am going to stick to simple patterns, so I can complete things in the available time.

My little challenge to myself is to sew one garment for each Olympic ring, during the time the Olympics are on (until I go away on holiday). That's 5 garments in the 27 July – 12 August window.

Anyone want to join me?

My 5 pieces are going to be
1. A cowl neck knit top from the leaf print jersey.
2. A scoop neck flared dress from the leaf print jersey
(I'll cut these out together to make best use of the fabric).
3. A skirt of the brown, orange and cream tweed.
4. A pair of wide legged trousers with side pockets from the brown, orange and cream tweed.
5. A cardigan jacket from the brown, orange and cream tweed.
I've chosen to use the fabrics with more than one colour in them for the Olympic challenge, and then will sew up the plain brown, orange and cream pieces separately afterwards.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Autumn 6 piece collection

Having not participated in the Summer 6 piece collection on Stitchers Guild at all, I would like to do the Autumn one again this year.
Somehow for me Autumn doesn't start until September when school in most of the UK starts for children, so I probably won't sew until then. My favourite dark neutrals are dark chocolate brown or an inky navy, so I will go one way or the other  - probably with the brown.

I thrifted a rather nice 'per una' jacket in a textured brown stripe, so may use that as the starting point for my collection, and build other peices to work with it. Very dark brown would work well as would cream or coral tops, and I really want to sew all from my huge stash.

    Jacket or cardigan in a dark neutral.  - Thrifted 'per una' tailored Jacket
    Bottom in the same dark neutral.  - Dark chocolate wide leg trousers
    Top in same dark neutral.  - Dark chocolate knit top with self decoration e.g self fabric frill, ruching or other detailing.
    Jacket/cardigan in alternative colour.   - I fancy a rich coral pink, or maybe a burgundy found some burnt orange wool that could be a great winter jacket.
    Top in this same alternative colour/neutral.  - ditto coral or burgundy I have orange jersey in the stash too.
    Print top that contains both colours/neutrals - chocolate and coral? (must check in stash) the print below just says Autumn to me!

Maybe Chocolate, Taupe and Burnt Orange? I have a great jersey leaf print......

Saturday 14 July 2012

Sewing/Craft room organisation

When I moved to this house over a year ago, the second bedroom was set up as a shared sewing room and study. It didn't work terribly well though, and particularly when I changed jobs in February and wanted to work at home more often it was really quite distracting being in the sewing room.

So I had a move round, got rid of the big old desk, bought some new shelves for the sewing room, set up the study in the dining room and purchased a second hand drop leaf table for dining to use in the living room. The folding guest bed moved from the dining room to the sewing room. It needs a nice cover making.

I've used the new study a lot and the layout works great, though I have shoved some boxes of papers on the shelves which really need sorting. I've had a couple of sorting sessions, and have made some progress. My computer workstation, filing cabinet etc are all accessible and it makes a practical if slightly boring work area. I have a small folding table and several folding laundry racks which are also used in there sometimes as well. There's a lot to be said for folding furniture for making rooms do double duty.

Meanwhile back in the sewing room I unpacked all the fabric onto the new shelves, stored speciality fabrics in boxes on top of the shelving unit and pretty much left everything as it was. I do however have some empty cupboard space which I want to use for sewing and craft notions currently in boxes, but I just never got round to doing anything about it.
I invested in some zip lock bags from Lakeland Limited, a great shop selling things you didn't know you needed to have particularly kitchen gadgets, cleaning stuff and organizing solutions. Some of their stuff is genius and other things are white elephants, and they are not cheap either, but I find the sensible things I buy from them do actually make my life better.

So I am planning to spend some time this evening getting things organised into the bags, to make them easier to find when doing sewing or craft projects!

Saturday 7 July 2012

Wardrobe reassessment

I am seriously thinking of having quite a deep cull of my wardrobe. I have two double wardrobes full plus shelving and drawers and yet wear the same stuff over and over.
Sadly this would mean parting with some of my homemade things hence some of the caution.
Ironically despite having quite so much stuff I still could do with some very specific things but don't have them thre to choose from.
I think I will start one of those wardrobe door lists and try to fill it over the next 6 months or so with judicious shopping.

When it was very hot I wanted to find a floaty cotton blouse and co-ordinating summer skirt in my wardrobe - no such luck unfortunately!
I also want some wide leg black dress trousers with a side zip and a coral pink linen jacket.
Also a dressy dress one size larger than the one I currently have.
Plus some smart jeans which fit nicely and some comfortable brown leather sandals.

Friday 6 July 2012

Singer 185K

I picked this up last weekend and its very dirty and not in great condition, missing the bobbin cover.
I've wiped it over with a damp cloth, and left it to air as it doesn't smell great. It did seem to run the motor though, so we'll see.

I'm planning to leave them both until my dad's next here and get him to take a bit of a look and give me a verdict. See if he can get them running.