Sunday, 28 June 2015

An end-of-June, halfway-through-the-year, good-grief-where-has-the-time-gone post

Ah, the end of another month in which I totally ignored any plans I made at the start, spent money I didn't intend to spend, bought fabric that I didn't mean to buy, and sewed things I didn't know I wanted or needed until I was actually making them. You know, I often wonder whether my incessant goal setting is more stressful than useful a lot of the time. How fortunate there are no resolution police or sewing police to take issue with me when I inevitably fail to achieve any of the things I claim I want to do!

At any rate, I did get two woven tops made this month -- one very mediocre New Look 6407 (which did not improve with the closer acquaintance of wear, but isn't so bad that I have flung it out the window (yet)) and one more successful Kwik Sew 3555. In the latter case, I must admit to the calamity that followed the first wear: one of the yoke seams shredded in the wash and I have had to cobble it back together in a very messy way. I think I was over-enthusiastic in my seam grading which, combined with highly-prone-to-shred linen and my viciously efficient washing machine spin cycle resulted in disaster. :( I am very disheartened because it was such expensive fabric and I really liked my shirt when it was done. I have fixed it for now but I am concerned that more seams will come apart in future washes.

This month I also made some PJs and some striped tops, both of which, thankfully, have survived wash & wear with my previous good opinion of them intact. I also finished (!!) my Roman blinds, except for a little bit of hand-sewing for the stringing process, but I haven't put them up yet so no photo. Not that anyone cares because, no, really, it's a Giant Rectangle. Even I'm not interested in them and I made them.

HP Weekender Sunshine mark 2. That is the residue of my recent sunburn on my neck/chest, honest, I am not just really grubby. Also, for some reason I decided to twist and stare off into the middle distance to one side when the timer went off, hence the strange diagonal lines. Model error rather than fit error, promise!
I did make one other quick repeat this month: I went back to the HotPatterns Weekender Sunshine tee, which I previously made in April. At the time I said that it was a wearable muslin, despite the very low, very wide neckline, but actually, after I wore it the first time: LOL NO, it was a TOTALLY unwearable muslin unless I wanted to flash everyone my bra ALL THE TIME. So, that got pitched. However, I still liked the idea of the pattern and this weekend I used 1m of a grey and black animal print (a bit of a departure for me, I am not very much into animal prints in the normal run of things) to make a second version.

Neckline comparison, new and old tops. They look remarkably similar, given the size of my adjustment, but through conscientious freckle location comparison (no, really) I can confirm that the grey one IS higher and less wide, but just... not high enough to not show off my bra. :|
On the plus side, though very hard to tell from photos because of the print fabric, I did about a 3000% better job with the front gathering this time. \o/ Minus side: .... everything else. I raised the neckline by 6cm (by chopping off the upper part of the bodice, redrawing new armholes and making sure the side-seams still worked). My unfortunate (and lop-sided) sunburn/tan line on the image above, while stupid looking, actually helps because it shows where one of my current favourite scoop-neck tops, with the neckline depth I prefer, lies compared to this HP Sunshine top. As you can see, despite my adjustment it's still wide and it's still pretty low.  If I bend over even a little bit: bra, fully on show.

Overall, this is frustrating. Looking at the fit of the grey one up close, I wonder if I could do with also dropping a size (from a 12 to a 10) through the shoulder, as the seam is over the point of my shoulder. I'm not sure whether I will try AGAIN to fix the pattern, however. I do really like the idea of neckline, but I don't know if I love it enough to go through round three when there are so many other knit patterns in the world.

Since it's also the middle of the year, a tiny update on my 2015 sewing goals:
  • Stick to my 2015 budget. /o\ I am about 10% over for the first 6 months.
  • Sew more fabric than I buy, reduce garment stash by 50m, bag stash by 20m. /o\ I've bought way too much garment fabric already this year, so much that in fact I am +5m compared to where I was on January 1st. There's still time to improve on this though, and, tiny positive point (very tiny) I am -2m on bag stash.
  • Reduce my yarn stash by half (by weight). \o/ Definite progress here: I am down from 4000g of yarn to 3225g, even though I bought 450g new for my current project.
  • My favourite thing so far this year!
  • Maintain and stick to my wardrobe plan. \o/ It probably doesn't LOOK like it, because my blog only shows the new things I make, not the larger wardrobe it fits into. As a result it probably looks kind of scattershot overall. However, I haven't made a single thing this year that wasn't already in my wardrobe plan and that I hadn't consciously thought about how I would wear it in multiple different outfits. As a result, apart from the handful of things where the sewing/fit has let me down, everything I've made so far this year has gone into medium-to-high rotation in my wardrobe and been genuinely useful. Not everything is equally successful or heavily worn, of course. My absolute best/favourite/highest rotation thing so far (other than PJs) is the blue gingham shirt I made at the start of May using Burda 03-2013-124. I LOVE this shirt and since I made it it has basically never actually been in my closet: I'm either wearing it, or it's in the wash.
I had some more specific skill-building sort of goals in my list as well, but I haven't made any real progress on any of them since my last update at the end of March.

A lot of the non-goal-meeting going on in my life is to do with illness, again. It's been very up and down the last three months: April was pretty good, May I went through a short-lived but unfortunate flare-up, and June I've mainly been recovering from the relapse and coping with going back on a high dose of the medication with all the side effects. Meanwhile, my case is stuck in some kind of committee hell where, because what I have is super rare and expensive to treat, and because I am not actively dying or hospitalized, I keep getting pushed to the end of the queue for consideration. Then the committee has questions and has to wait for a response from the one doctor in the UK who is an expert in my condition, and then it's another month before the committee meets again, and then it gets passed to the NEXT committee.... and so on and so on, until now when it's just a week short of 6 months from between being told what I need to have prescribed and today, and I still haven't got the prescription. I mean, I won't hear a word against the NHS, and of course I do entirely agree that of course sicker people who ARE actively dying should have their cases reviewed first, but in practice it's hard not to get frustrated and fed-up about the whole situation. Obviously, what I talk about here on my blog is my sewing, but I'm also not able to work, or continue with writing up my PhD, and I'm rarely well enough to leave my house for more than a couple of hours at a time, and some weeks not even that.

So, that's all pretty depressing stuff, but also it's my reason why I haven't made too much progress on the stuff on my skills-building list that needs e.g. a lot of fitting work or concentration/effort. Once I get better -- and I am determinedly optimistic that something will happen SOON on the committee side of things, and that I will get better once treated -- then the sky is the limit! Though, er, also I do need to finish my PhD as a serious matter of urgency, and find a job and all that kind of normal-life-again stuff. But sewing will be a part of that too. Although I'm all \o/ and /o\ about my goals, in reality I know that at the moment I can only do what I can do, and I don't let any of it really stress me out. I do hope that I will eventually make a bit more consistent and interesting progress in my sewing, though. I follow a lot of blogs of sewers who consistently make so many gorgeous, beautifully executed complex garments and I'm like /o\ /o\ ahaha, why do people even READ my blog (hello, all 190 of you who read my blog on Bloglovin' alone, why are you here) when all I make is like, shirts and t-shirts and endless pyjamas. (I do know ~200 readers is not really very many, but it's about 199 more than I ever thought would bother, and the 1 loyal reader I expected is a long-suffering RL friend of mine.)

This is what a HEATWAVE OMG! weather forecast looks like if you live in Manchester, UK :D I know, I know, I've lived places with a proper changeable climate too, I know how funny our HEATWAVE OMG!! thing is. :D
Finally, next up on my sewing table for July: I have a maxi skirt all cut out and waiting to be sewed up. I am hoping to make some more summery woven tops and will be tracing patterns for that this week while we have a (British) HEATWAVE. (Note for people from actually hot places: you can stop laughing now.) I still have some simple dresses on my list of things to make for summer. I am waiting on a knit top pattern from the new Simplicity collection arriving in the post that I will be making the MINUTE it arrives. I have started a new knitting project and have decided to try to knit a small amount each day this month in order to make some consistent progress. And I have some minor bag-making plans. No doubt I will start next month having made precisely none of these planned objects and lamenting it, but why break the habit of my blog lifetime? :D

Friday, 26 June 2015

Bits and pieces

  • I have been quiet here because I am STILL sewing Giant Rectangles in the name of home decor (specifically, roman blinds for my hall and landing windows). Truly, this is the most boring of all sewing activities. I am also mildly allergic to something the fabric manufacturer has put on the fabric (probably chloroform, which is widely used to stop creasing) so after I've been sewing for an half an hour or so I start to come out in hives. This does not make getting on with an already-tedious sewing task any more appealing, let me tell you. At any rate, I am done with the first blind and the second should be faster because it is smaller and also, I know what I am doing. Although, once it's done I still have to sew on rings and string them and hang them and oh, lord, it'll be Christmas before I have window coverings, won't it.
  • I have succumbed to Instagram. At the moment I have not actually posted anything but you should tell me your account name so I can follow you and ogle your sewing creations & other photos. Also I will start taking photos myself forthwith, now that I have a regular data plan for my phone, although I can't claim that the content will be in any way exciting or visually spectacular. (In fact, the likelihood that it will be exciting or visually spectacular approaches nil, if I'm honest.)
  • I did manage to cut out a quick project -- another knit top -- and hope to sew it up this weekend. However, my last planned June project, a maxi skirt from Burda, has been somewhat stymied by (a) boringly, my long-running, wish-it-would-just-go-away illness, which I can't even discuss without wanting to scream with frustration; (b) the aforementioned blinds taking all my sewing time; and (c) the enormousness of the pattern pieces, which are proving challenging to trace. I think I might have to clear off my dining room table in order to trace it properly, and you know, when you start adding in even one more little thing you have to do before you can get started on something it all suddenly starts to seem like a lot of effort. Or maybe I am just extremely lazy. One of the two.
  •  I came to the realization, as I paged through my "summer sewing inspiration" Pinterest board, that my major stumbling block is that apparently I am strongly drawn to an aesthetic best suited to someone with an A/B-cup bust. This is unfortunate, since I don't think my G-cup bust is going anywhere. Boobs are a trial, seriously.
  • Also, wow, browsing Pinterest is depressing after a while. It is 90% different women who are basically the same archetype over and over: very thin, young, white affluent (or affluent-faking) Americans with long "beachy waves" hair and Michael Kors bags. The other 10% is "everyone else", which is kind of a shitty level of representation for anyone let along the diversity of "everyone else". There are some images of plus-sized women, but Pinterest is a study of extremes: there are images of lots of women who are like, a size 0, and a smattering of women who are a size 20+, and nobody much in between. And if you intersect any two of the less represented groups -- let's say, you're over 25 and a woman of colour -- then you could look for HOURS and not see any images that even remotely resemble you. Which, you could argue that maybe Pinterest reflects the user base, except that the sheer size of the user base precludes that. Also depressing: how many of the photos are annotated with glum little comments: "I don't know that I could wear this"; "I couldn't pull this off but it's so cute"; "Maybe if I were 20lbs lighter!"; "#fitspo dress!" and so on. I wish we were kinder to ourselves, fellow women.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Stripes

Although I have never quite got the hang of fashion, I apparently absorbed one particular fashion "rule" like it was divine law. At some point in my life, I became convinced that horizontal stripes were a privilege accorded only to the few whose figures were most suited to wearing of them, of whom I was not one. I could actually say a lot about the underlying rhetoric of "stripes make you look fat!", not least about how annoyed I am by any suggestion that every woman's goal when dressing should at all times be to take up as little visual space as possible. However, I will refrain, mainly because you've heard all my ranting on the subject before. I will say, however, that even as I blindly and unthinkingly obeyed the No Stripes, Because Fatness! rule for lo, these many years, I regretted the necessity of doing so. I LIKE stripes. I am a big fan of geometrics in general, actually, and it's always a major disappointment to me that there are relatively few interesting geometric prints in the world in amidst an endless sea of florals and animal prints.

All of which is a (inevitably long-winded) way of saying that when I found myself wistfully examining stripy fabric the other day, I had a sudden epiphany. I decided that damn it, I really like stripes and moreover it really ISN'T my job in life to carefully calibrate everything I wear to make sure I look as small as possible at all times. And thus, I bought some stripes, and I will doubtless buy and make up some more stripy garments in the future, and overall, yes: let there be stripy goodness all round.

Navy striped NL 6150 - I swear to you that the sleeves are actually the same length in person!!
First up was this navy and white striped top, my 6th rendition of a much-revised version of New Look 6150 View D. I am now thoroughly sick of making this pattern, but I do like the shape and fit of it that I've achieved through these multiple versions. There is nothing much interesting to say about this except that the stripe matching on this wobbly 4-way stretch fabric was rather a pain and I am a couple of mm out on the side seams (which I cunningly forgot to photograph, and since my shirt is now in the wash, cannot show you. Feel free to imagine it being utterly perfect!). As far as I can tell this is due to the way my overlocker feeds, as no matter how carefully I pinned and basted I couldn't keep it lining up once I started sewing. The only thing I didn't try was glue (suggested by a helpful commenter recently, thank you) because when I tested my glue on this particular fabric it didn't seem to want to come out again in the wash. D: Overall, it's not a very exciting top, but I love it because I love the fabric/stripes.

Here is a terrible bedroom mirror selfie of me wearing my navy top
Since I am utterly fed-up of NL6150 now, I have decreed that my next few knit tops should all be, as far as possible within the constraints of what I need/want in my wardrobe, more interesting than the very basic tees I've been turning out.

Line drawing, Ottobre 05-2012-11"Stormy Grey"
My second stripy top therefore used a new-to-me pattern: Ottobre 05-2012-11 "Stormy Grey", with the minor change that I attached short rather than long sleeves to it. I previously made up the minor variation (Ottobre 05-2012-13, which is gathered horizontally at the centre front of the necline) and it was an epic disaster (mainly because I made it about 3 sizes too big, I now realize). This time I picked my size using my knit sloper and ended up with something like a 40 through the shoulder, 44-ish through the bust, 42-ish through the waist and hips.

I didn't change much in the pattern. Short sleeves, obviously. Also, for reasons, I used a small piece of black cotton to cover my gathering (the pattern calls for you to use a self fabric strip). I am in two minds about how this looks. I was originally intent on putting a couple of little buttons on this placket, but I haven't decided yet whether to do so. Other than that I did my standard adjustment for square shoulders and made sure it was the right length on me.

Ottobre 05-2012-11 made up in black and white stripes

The main feature of the top is the gathered section at centre front. Once I started sewing, I realized I had to extend this lower down the top than suggested in the instructions because I have a low bust and it looked completely ridiculous to have the gathering perched on the upper slopes of my boobs. I don't like gathering ordinarily, but this was, for me, a rather good gathering outcome. However, because I gathered rather extensively and for a longer section than the pattern called for: (a) I ended up with a kind of stripe vortex over my bust, like a Boob Optical Illusion. (If we are all sucked into a black hole as a result of this vortex, I will take full responsibility, I promise); and (b) more pragmatically, it yanked up the hem at centre front. Since part of the reason I love stripes is the possibility of manipulating them in interesting ways, I find I very much like the Boob Optical Illusion effect. I can live with the hem problem it produced on this version. However, if I were making this top again I'd have to fix it.

The side view -- on the plus side, only look at my beee-yoo-ti-ful stripe matching at the side seam! On the minus side, yikes, the centre front!
Overall, I quite like this top and it IS a tiny bit different to the interminable parade of scoop neck tees I've been making, so I'm glad I tried this pattern out.

As modelled by yours truly. Observe my horrible neckline sunburn, which is what happens when someone as pasty white and pale as me remembers to put sunscreen everywhere EXCEPT  in the scoop neckline of her new stripy navy and white top and sits outside for 30 minutes.
For the next few days I will very tediously be sewing blinds for my hallway. I don't dislike the idea of home dec sewing, but in practice it's not very interesting to sew giant rectangles. Still, I've been living here almost a year and still have no blinds for my hall and landing so something must be done!

PS. I am sorry I am such a terrible replier-to-comments this week. I very much appreciated everyone's helpful suggestions for how to fix my New Look 6407 blouse and have formulated a Plan to try it again some time soon :D

Thursday, 11 June 2015

More mediocrity (New Look 6407)

This is one of those projects where I have gone back and forth between: this is going well! No, wait, this is going really badly! Argh, this a total wadder! No, maybe I CAN finish it and get something useful out of this! Oh, no, maybe I can't... etc, ad nauseum.

New Look 6407 in navy cotton

In the end, I think this particular garment is mediocre at best. I still like a lot of things about the pattern, but I'm just not sure how to fix the problems I've encountered if I were to make it again.



The pattern is New Look 6407, which is one of those patterns that's (a) been very widely reviewed; (b) been around a long time; and (c) is legitimately a shape and style I have bought and worn a million times in my life. I like the fitted shape, the V shaped neckline and (some of) the sleeve options. What put me off buying it for ages was the way it is fitted (waist and bust darts) since all my previous attempts at this kind of shaping have ended up with weird and profoundly unflattering kangaroo pouches where my bust is supposed to go. This is not due to any particular special snowflake-ness of my body shape, or only like 5% that at the most. It is 95% due my inability to figure out the right length, width and positioning of the vertical darts to work with my figure.

However, despite these qualms eventually I succumbed, bought the pattern in a New Look sale, and, in my current quest to make summer-y woven tops, dug it out to muslin and make up this month. I had a piece of cotton just big enough to make view E, in yellow in the pattern illustration above, with a neckband (no collar) and cap sleeves.

New Look 6407 back view
The fabric in question was actually a freebie. It turned up with some fabric I had ordered, having been included in my package by mistake. The vendor didn't want it back when I asked, so this shirt was mine for the cost of the thread and buttons in the end. This is probably just as well as it would have been a shame to use something nice on mediocrity. Sadly, the fabric did not cope well with the extensive amount of handling it received when I was making this (mainly my own fault -- lots of unpicking) and it creases like you wouldn't believe. I pressed this shirt for AGES before I took the photos and it still looks like a rag.

New Look 6407 on me
Fit-wise the muslin seemed to go quite well. I messed about with the darts endlessly, but I thought I had it all figured out and transferred back to the pattern. However, when I sewed the darts and put the bodice together: kangaroo pouches. Again. Argh. Every time I go through this I think to myself that I should make a fitting shell and get this figured out once and for all, and then I contemplate the actual effort involved in making a fitting shell and get no further with the process.

New Look 6407 rear view on me
At any rate, at the kangaroo pouch discovery point I decided this navy shirt was going to be a wadder, folded it all up and put it away. Last week it occurred to me that it might be worth seeing what would happen if I unpicked and pressed out the problematic vertical darts on the front bodice. This produced something MUCH more wearable, with no kangaroo pouch effect! I was very pleased for about 3 minutes, but then I proceeded to make an absolute pig's ear of the neckband (NOBODY else reports problems putting the neckband on, so I can only assume I am stupid because I could not even remotely understand what the pattern wanted me to do, at all, in any way for what felt like HOURS), and the facings (which I dislike anyway), prompting yet more time frowning at this garment. Eventually, though I pulled myself together enough to get the thing finished, which is much more than I ever though I would achieve.
Even on Flossie the neckline is too wide and splays outward at the top. IDK how to fix that.
There are, however, so many problems with this particular garment:
  • The fit at the neck is WAY off. It's way off on Flossie too, (see above) so I think it's some combination of body shape and maybe also overworking the neckline so significantly when I was trying to put the neckband on.
  • The bust darts did not come out well. I feel like I maybe stretched the fabric weirdly somehow when I was sewing and/or pressing the bust area? Or maybe it's the result of how I pressed the (now removed) vertical darts I sewed in? Whatever I did wrong, there's something weird and unpleasant going on with the darts.
  • There's so much visible bad sewing ugh. I didn't think it was too bad when I was actually making it, but wow, yuck, there's a lot of bad sewing here.
  • The neckband is not set evenly on the neckline. It's out by no more than 3-4mm but it's enough to annoy me. By the time I realized how bad it was I was in danger of shredding the neck/collar altogether due to all the unpicking I'd already done, so I had to live with it.
  • I do not love this sleeve length on me. 
  • I do not love the facings because I never like facings
I don't know if/when I will make this pattern again. On the one hand, I really do like the idea of the neckline very much indeed. On the other hand, there are just so many fitting problems with this version and some of them I just don't know how to fix at the moment.

In conclusion: boo! I wanted so much to like this pattern and this shirt, but I just don't think I can say it was successful at all.

I am going to take a break from shirts for my next few projects. I still want to add a couple more to my summer wardrobe, but I have other fish to fry as well. Next up, some very boring t-shirts, and then maybe a maxi skirt if I can summon up the mental fortitude to cut out the massive amounts of fabric needed!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Nothing But Repeats (Kwik Sew 3555 and Ottobre 05-2011-02)

This was my week last week in drastically summarized format: endless nausea, crisis, flailing, bad news, panic, really really bad news, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Vile.

On Friday night, I decided that such an appalling week merited a whole weekend of sewing for as much time as I felt well. I also decided that life is too short and uncertain to mess around hoarding fabric until some ~~magical moment arrives when I am definitely good enough at sewing to cut into it. Happily, I then felt well almost all weekend, and as a consequence I got THREE separate things finished, and used some of my favourite stashed fabric. I know there are people who can't bear to make the same pattern twice, but when I just want to SEW and not faff about with tracing/fitting/etc, repeats, and especially EASY repeats, always seem like an excellent idea to me.

Kwik Sew 3555: The short-sleeved linen plaid edition

I have used this pattern once before, back in March, when I made a stripy blue shirt with long sleeves. At the time I made it, I was not entirely excited about the pattern or the outcome -- I liked it, sure, but I wasn't sure I'd use the pattern again -- but it's actually turned out to be something I really enjoy wearing. When I decided to cut into my gorgeous shirt-weight linen I have been hoarding since November 2013, this pattern instantly came to mind to use again since I knew it worked for me.

KS 3555
I made several changes. On the fitting front, when I made it in March I accidentally omitted a small square shoulder adjustment, which I fixed this time around.

Other than that, the changes are all cosmetic. I decided I wanted a short, sqaure-ish shirt this time, to match some the boxy shirts I've seen in shops. I therefore cut 11cm of the length at the hem compared to the previous version. This was maybe a little too much -- maybe 9cm would have been better. I decided to fold the facing back the other way from the instructions and top stitch near the edge, so it looks like a fake button band (which you can see in the detail shot below). I cut the short-sleeve option and folded back the sleeve hems to the front to make a fake cuff. I also used poppers with pearl tops rather than buttons. On the plus side: no button-holing drama! On the minus side: popper installation drama! I have 4 poppers on my shirt but I used 7 in total because of testing/screw-ups.

KS 3555 close-up
The shirt went together really well -- I got a nice finish on most of the details, and was particularly happy with the collar, though it's not perfect. I doubt I will ever get a perfect collar/collar band. It always seems like just when I think it is going absolutely smoothly and have just started to pat my own back and imagine myself writing a very smug "this collar is SO PERFECT" blog post, something immediately goes wrong and screws up all my hard work. I am also annoyed that the hem went very wavy when I was pressing/sewing it. I tried to steam it back into shape, but it's still a bit stretched out. I had the same problem with my chambray shirt though, and it seemed to sort itself out when it went through the wash, so I will keep my fingers crossed this does the same.

For the rest of the construction, it was just the usual shirt stuff i.e. flat felling everywhere. The inside of this shirt is actually gorgeous -- the only way you can really tell inside from outside is the dart and the hem at the bottom. I haven't 100% got the hang of flat felling the tight curve at the top of the sleeve head -- it looks OK, but it's not as nice as the rest of my flat-felling by any means. However, overall I'm pretty happy with the finish!

KS3555
The big problem with making this shirt, of course, was pattern matching. The fabric is 100% linen and it is HORRIBLY prone to stretching as you sew, even with my walking foot. I managed to get the front and side seams to match really well, but the yoke! D: Nightmare. In the end, I had a choice between two yoke pieces, one of which didn't match at all (see above) and one of which ALMOST matched, but was always just a BIT off. I ended up using the totally non-matchy version because somehow I found that less annoying, but I have been second guessing that decision ever since. I saw somebody once who said the best thing to do is cut the yoke in two and put it on the bias (an example), so you just don't even have to deal with the match/no match problem, but that occurred to me too late to do anything. I may try that next time I have a stripe or plaid. I also really need to look up how to get sleeve seams to match with checks. I managed to get the major stripe element to match horizontally on the sleeves, but the top of the sleeve head is otherwise a total hodge-podge of a non-matching mess.

However, I'm not really sure how much I really TRULY care about the inadequacies of my plaid matching. There's nothing eye-searingly wrong (other than the yoke, potentially) like the sides or centre front not matching up, which always drives me mad in cheap RTW. I guess the yoke might make some people twitch, but as it's on my back I won't see it to be bothered by it!

Other than the matching problem, this was a LOVELY fabric. I sort of worried that I actually wouldn't like it after I'd built it up into The Perfect Fabric in my head, but no such thing! I bought it at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin in November 2013 from a little company called Fabric Affair, who weave it in Northern Ireland. They seem to want to sell to quilters, but I bought 2m of this fabric and 2.5m of blue and white stripe for €10/m (actually, I bought 2m of the blue stripe as well, but they threw in 0.5m because it was the end of the bolt!). At the moment it's still feeling quite buoyant and crisp, but I suspect that after more washing it will become more limp and drapey.

PJ Shorts -- Ottobre 05-2011-02

As my shirt only required 1.4m of fabric and I had 2m, I had a 60cm piece left, which is not a very useful length in my experience. Rather than put it back in stash I decided to use it immediately to make some linen PJs shorts. The pattern was already out because I previously I had a brainwave and decided to make up my elephant fabric, which I mentioned last week, into PJ shorts as well.

I really appreciated people's suggestions in my blog comments for how to use my 1m of elephants as a top, but I kept finding myself wondering when exactly I would wear an elephant top. The truth is, I think I like novelty prints more on the bolt than on my person. The only time I whole-heartedly embrace wacky prints is in my nightwear. Thus whereas I might only have worn an elephant top a couple of times this summer, these will probably be in the washing basket every week between now and the autumn. I have a bit left over too that I plan to use for pockets bags and facings for something else later in the year. The pattern is just my usual: Ottobre 05-2011-02, "Sweet Dreams" shorts, for the umpteenth time. Also as usual, in an attempt to pre-empt the over-laundered disintegration of my PJs, I french seamed everything in sight.

Ottobre 05-2011-02 in blue elephants and plaid linen



Next up: I am going to see if I can finish my New Look 6407 blouse. It's about half done, but ugh, very problematic on the fitting side of things. I may have figured out a way to rescue this particular version, but if I make it again it's going to need a LOT of work on fitting at the bust. Also, some boring but necessary t-shirts, assuming that the boring but necessary fabric I ordered arrives!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Ugh

At the end of last month I was all yay, I am feeling really well again! and I was all about the Big Plans for the summer. Alas, I jinxed myself. I relapsed again mid-May and have been struggling to get well enough to do more than creep pathetically around my house ever since. Luckily it was only a mini-relapse, or I caught it quickly, or some combination of the two. I am already pain-free again and starting to feel better, though I am only up and about in the morning as the side effects of my medication wipe out my afternoons, yuck. The relapse totally ruined my May sewing schedule, my optimistic hope of making a really dent in my fabric stash this summer, and other best laid plans of mice and men. On the plus side, I only bought 1m of fabric this month and used almost 6m. I know, I know, I oughtn't to have even bought 1m, but it was so fabulously ridiculous (elephants!) and only £3 for 1m, that I had to have it. It's cotton voile and apparently ex-Zara and I have no idea what to make with it, which is the WORST kind of stashing.

Cotton voile elephants
If you could see the weather outside you'd understand the other reason for my summer sewing apathy - it's about 12C (54F), raining, and blowing a gale out there. Although, to be fair, this is one of the nastier days we've had recently, May was definitely not anything like summery. Hard to get enthusiastic about summer clothes when you're still wearing a fleecy jumper around the house to keep warm. Apparently it is going to start getting better this week though, so fingers crossed the sun comes out and re-invigorates my interest in my summer plans.

All that said, and health, weather and other nuisances permitting, my sewing plans this month are:
  • Finish up that New Look 6407 shirt I was working on when I got sick. I'm really not sure at all that it's going to work out, but I feel like I ought to persevere a little bit longer with it.
  • I have a couple of other woven summer tops in mind - I may bravely cut into my favourite checked shirtweight linen this month.
  • The maxi skirt of epic fabric consumption. It needs 3m of fashion fabric, 3m of lining!
  • If I have time and the weather seems propitious, an easy summer dress (or two).

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Bits and pieces

New Look 6407
  • I have been kind of quiet lately because I am working on a short-sleeved blouse using New Look 6407 (view E, the one in yellow above) and it's not going at all well. I made a muslin because it's a lot more fitted than previous shirts I've made, but having made the bodice of the actual version... well, I don't know that my fitting changes worked. I fear it might end up being a total wadder. Luckily the fabric I used wasn't anything special or precious. I'm frustrated though because I felt like I was doing really well with shirt-making, but as soon as I stepped up a level in terms of fitting it all went downhill very quickly. :( The big problem is that I have an 18cm (7") difference between bust and under bust. I'm finding it really difficult to wrangle the darts that I need to achieve anything like a fitted look through both bust and waist/hips. I think I might need to find a similar closely-fitted pattern that uses princess seams for my purposes, because I just don't think darts cut it when you're working with such a huge bust/underbust difference.
  • I recently bought a double tracing wheel which is something I've had on my wishlist for a loooong time. I put off buying it because my old (enormous, lasted me 2+ years) package of tissue paper I was using to trace patterns onto was very thin. It wasn't at all difficult to see through it to trace off patterns from Burda/Ottobre, so I just did that and then added seam allowances by hand. However, I finally ran out of the thin paper and the new paper I bought is impossible to see through -- you can only just see that there are lines on the pattern sheet underneath, but no details -- so I had to do something different. I wish I'd bought the tracing wheel ages ago now. Being able to add my preferred seam allowance at the same that I trace is A++++. Definitely worth thinking about it you're a big magazine pattern user and you don't already use one.
  • Speaking of pattern magazines, I just renewed my Burda subscription for another 6 months and for the first time since I started getting it I really considered not doing so. The problem is not so much Burda itself as the fact that I really, seriously don't like most of the trends at the moment, which Burda faithfully reflects. I was in a massive shopping centre the other week window shopping and yes, it's all totally on trend in the UK at least, but I no more want to make it than I want to buy it. There's probably been enough patterns I like in the last few issues that I can just about justify continuing to buy the magazine... but only just.
  • I do use my back issues a lot for inspiration, but also apparently to drive myself nuts. I briefly drove myself actualfax crazy-faced looking for "perfect" dress patterns to match the fabrics I pulled out of my stash for casual summer dresses this year. I got so far past over-thinking what I wanted to make that I gave myself a blinding headache one day and had to put myself to bed for a couple of hours. Rationality has been restored now, but wow, yeah, that was a nutty, mildly obsessive rabbit hole that I fell down of ~figure-flattery and ~age-approriate dress styles.
  •  So much left on my sewing plan for May, and we're already half-way through the month!