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!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Mistake recovery (New Look 6890)

I have been sorting out my envelope patterns over the last few days in preparation for maybe selling a few of the ones that I'm pretty sure I'll never make. Some of them are the wrong size and I can't see myself grading, but some of them (many of them, in fact) date from when I first started sewing garments, when the nicest thing I can say about some of my purchases, both fabric and patterns, is that Mistakes Were Made and Lessons Were Learned.

New Look 6890 was one such rookie error.

New Look 6890

This was the third pattern I bought. It seemed like a great idea at the precise moment in time when I ordered it: a "two hour" pattern, that looked very easy! No zips or other difficult bits, just straight seams and a bit of bias tape, and one button! Plus I thought the model on the cover looked pretty cute in her little floral dress despite the weird accompanying pink beret. That is, the very young, thin model who probably looks pretty cute if she wears a bag...

Here of course is where my original reasoning all starts to fall apart. I wouldn't EVER buy a dress that looks like this from a shop, not least because I am in my late 30s and not my late teens. I am not convinced this kind of ultra wide-necked peasant blouse look has ever suited me, in fact, teenager or not, nor have I ever preferred this totally unfitted style of dress. The merest minutes of reflection after the pattern arrived in the post led to the inevitable Buyer's Remorse, and I sort of shoved it in the back of my pattern box and then forgot about it as it filled up with other (not necessarily any more wise) purchases.

Since then, with a more experienced eye, I've glanced at the pattern a couple of times in an effort to determine whether it is in any way useful. Every single time without fail I've sputtered over the fact that this pattern has SEVEN AND A HALF INCHES (19cm) of ease built in at the bust. I realize it's meant to be a loose-fitting pullover dress, but that's insane. The last time I looked at it I sort of scoffed and went "it would be like wearing a nightdress out of the house!"

Meanwhile, unrelatedly and as documented over the last year or so, I've been combining my desire to have some easy, restful sewing projects in my sewing queue with a complete overhaul of my PJ drawer. I tend to wear PJs and t-shirts to bed, but I've always had one thin nightdress in my drawer for really warm nights. That hit the top of the list to replace this summer sewing season. I considered making a nightshirt from the 12/2014 issue of Burda that I liked the look of, but that pattern is so voluminous that I realized even before I started tracing that it wouldn't fit on my piece of fabric, which was only 110cm wide. Casting about for an alternative, I suddenly remembered my disparaging thoughts about New Look 6890...

New Look 6890 in pale blue polka dots, as modelled by Flossie
The front cover of the pattern does not lie: it took me just a little more than two hours to make this after I'd done the cutting out part. It only took that long because, as usual with my nightwear, I used French seams as I think it does a little bit for the longevity of frequently-laundered garments.

I made a straight size 16 with no alterations, though really I should have cut a 14 based on my measurements. If I wanted it to wear as a dress outside of my house where people might see me, I am really not sure what size I would have to start with. Something with less than 7.5" of bust ease, for sure. At any rate, the fabric is barely opaque so I'm not modelling it for this blog. You'll have to take my word for it that it is AMAZINGLY voluminous on, and it looks quite like something a granny might wear, particularly since I made it in this demure pastel blue polka dot polycotton (try saying THAT 10 times quickly). The neck is elasticated, which I find slightly weird, and the elastic is threaded through a bias tape casing. I used home-made bias tape that I made last year. It was just a little narrower than the pattern called for, which I thought would be fine, but eesh, this made threading the elastic a big faff. That was the most difficult thing about the pattern however, and it only too a few minutes. That said, I think an absolute beginner would actually find the bias tape application at the neckline quite challenging as well.

If I'd ever needed convincing that I was never going to want a dress made from this pattern, this nightdress has confirmed it. It's not even really very attractive as nightwear, but I prioritize a lot of other things over attractiveness in my PJs so I don't really care. I almost didn't blog about it at all, because after all, who cares about my sad frumpy nightdress? However, I am quite proud of myself for finding a use for this otherwise deadweight pattern, and I like to document everything I make, no matter how terrible or disastrous. And so, in conclusion: voluminous nightie from rookie mistake pattern is a win. :D

Monday, 4 May 2015

A plan that came together (Burda 03-2013-124 in blue gingham)


Late last year, around December, I had a sudden yen for a blue gingham shirt, pinned about 30 images of people wearing them on Pinterest, and then went in search of suitable fabric. Sadly, most gingham fabric available seems to be very cheap but rather nasty heavy-on-the-poly polycotton or else very expensive named brand quilting cotton. Eventually, however, I turned up a seller with a range of inexpensive 100% cotton ginghams, including a rather nice dark blue. The problem was that it was only 110cm wide. Actually, the problem was not that it is 110cm wide, it's more than I kind of hand-waved the question of how much I needed without checking, all "if I can get a shirt out of 1.6m of 150cm wide, then 2m of 110cm wide will be completely fine!". Then it turned out none of my existing shirt patterns actually did fit on the fabric and I was briefly stymied.

Burda 03-2013-124, taken from the magazine
Meanwhile, I also have a lovely piece of hoarded linen to make a shirt from for this summer. I had picked out Burda 03-2013-124 as a possible pattern for that fabric, but while I am pretty confident about new shirt patterns now as I have a handle on fitting them, I also didn't want to cut into my treasured linen fabric with an untried pattern. As it would be trivial to replace the gingham and since the pattern is for various reasons relatively undemanding for fabric length (overall length, one piece collar, full length sleeves but made for rolling without plackets or cuffs) it was a perfect combination. I managed JUST BARELY to squeeze the pattern onto my 2m of gingham. I had so little left after I cut the main pieces that I had to cut the collar on the cross-grain and piece the bias binding for the inner collar. There was zero possibility that I could do any fancy matching on the shoulder/sleeve seams (which is something I'd been reading about), but I did get it all out somehow with matched front and side-seams.

My version of Burda 03-2013-124
The main reason I was particularly keen to test run this pattern with the gingham is that, as mentioned in previous blog posts, my weight has been dropping recently for various (mainly medication related) reasons. I'm presently towards the low-middle end of what I consider to be my normal range. Quite a few of my larger sized garments are looking just a little too big on me and since this top is for immediate wear over the next couple of months, I decided it behooved upon me to take some measurements and potentially start from a smaller size than I have normally with Burda.

Side view -- you can see the side and sleeve tabs on this shot (and just barely, the matched side-seams), and also the way the front swings forward
I ended up with the usual hodge podge of sizes after my adjustments, but overall about 1-2 sizes smaller than usual. The back is the most straightforward: it's a 40 at the shoulder, tapering to a 42 through the waist and hip, with a 1cm square shoulder adjustment. The sleeves are a straight size 44 but my elbows are still wider (how is it possible that my elbows are 3 sizes larger than my shoulders!?) than a size 44 and I may need to adjust the lower arm slightly. The front is a size 40 at the shoulder, with a 1cm square shoulder adjustment and a 2.5cm FBA. I created a bust dart, which is just about visible if you look for it on the shot above, and I left the width in rather than tapering the extra out at the waist and hip. This is fine as far as it goes. I am not a size 40 at the waist/hip, after all, but nor am I am a size 40 + 2.5cm, it turns out, and as a result there's just a little bit too much volume at the front hip that swings forward.

Back view
Normally, I would probably have changed the length of the top a little and I was a bit concerned that this was going to end up too short. However, I really didn't have enough fabric to change it by even 1cm in length. As it turns out, I really like this length, so I'm happy! I do like a shirt-tail hem, as well which this mimics with the buttoned side-tabs.

Front view on me
Although I feel really comfortable with the bust fit -- i.e. it doesn't pull or gape and I have plenty of wearing ease as far as movement is concerned -- the photos on me show a certain amount of "you need a larger FBA!" wrinklage going on. I also noticed that the bust dart ended up just a smidgeon too low -- just about 1cm or so -- which might help. I've managed to accidentally cut off the evidence in my side on shot, but I also definitely also need a small-ish high round back adjustment -- my collar is pulling away from the back of my neck just a touch. Other than that I'm pretty pleased! (To be fair, my standards for fit are probably not all that high. I'll still make those little alterations before I made this again, however.)

Back view on me

Side view on me

I also really love some of the details of this shirt. This was a great reminder why I love Burda and own so many of the magazines -- the fact that the pattern goes together so well, and that there are so many great little construction and design details. Of course you can do anything you like with buttons, but personally I probably don't think to change things up too much from pattern directions. I love the groups of three that this pattern suggests, and for once they were perfectly lined up for me so that I got right depth of neckline wearing the shirt open and good button coverage at the bust. I admit I was a bit doubtful about the collar -- I've only made two-piece collars up to now, except for that one decidedly underwhelming Butterick top, where, I must admit, the collar is a perpetual source of annoyance. This one came up lovely, even though I had had to resort to cutting it on the cross-grain.

Collar and button detail
I was exceedingly puzzled by the instructions initially for how to finish the inside of the collar with the bias strip, but actually LOVE the finish this gave me when I figured out what Burda wanted me to do. The main thing is that you have to trim as much excess as possible -- I ended up with like 4mm seam allowances left under the bias strip -- in order to sew the strip nicely and avoid a massive lumpy seam. My other seam finishes were just the usual shirt-making stuff -- flat-felled everywhere, including, for only the second time, the shoulder seams, and narrow-ish hems.

View of inner collar bound with bias strip
The one construction detail that, in retrospect, I wish I had done differently, is the sleeves. I don't think I had enough fabric for any reasonable kind of cuff, but if I HAD, I think I would have been more annoyed by the plain hemmed sleeves. They're meant to be rolled up, and they do look fine that way. However, it looks a bit odd if you wear them unrolled and they are sort of 7/8th length on me, which I loathe. Luckily, pattern #125 is the same shirt but longer and with true cuffs (with a bound placket) as well as a pocket, so if I did want to make this again as a true long-sleeved shirt it wouldn't be at all problematic to do so.

And that's my gingham shirt! I love how it came out and I'm really pleased that I decided to make this as my first summer-y garment. I never bother to "style" my fit photos for this blog, but I plan to wear this with white or navy linen trousers or shorts this summer.

Next up: I am not entirely sure! I feel a bit like a centipede on roller-skates -- trying to go in too many directions at once. I may start on a long-planned bag project next while I contemplate my next garment project.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Summer sewing plans

Let's not even talk about how I am sublimating my extreme frustration with the continuing medical drama of my life by (a) buying fabric; and (b) pretending I have an unlimited budget (spoiler: I don't) and the effect this has had on my fabric stash numbers in April and my budget for the year to date. Okay? Okay.

Instead, let's talk about the fact that no matter what I didn't get done from my Spring sewing plans, since tomorrow is the start of May, I can now feign amnesia about previous plans and move on blithely to some summer sewing. Well, I did in fact get several things done that I wanted in April: I made a pintucked shirt, finished my faux leather/faux suede bag (which I have been using regularly -- it is great!), and made a pair of PJ shorts. I also made a supposedly wearable muslin of the HotPatterns Weekender Sunshine Tee, and, just as an update, I must confess to you that it's turned out not really be all that wearable. In normal wear the low neckline turned out to be positively indecent unless I wear something underneath it. However, I like almost everything else about it and since I received some very useful suggestions on how to fix the neckline I might revisit the pattern at a later stage. Probably not this summer though, since my recent spring cleaning efforts and subsequent summer wardrobe planning suggested to me that although I have several knit tops on the cusp of needing to be replaced, I should probably be all right for this season and don't need to make more.

As always, I like to start my sewing plan from my actual life and what my normal wardrobe needs are. I've FINALLY recovered enough from my November relapse (hurray!) that I am getting out of my house a lot more and therefore spending less time in PJs/almost-PJs. However, I'm unlikely to even start looking for a job until the autumn at the earliest. For now I am better, but I'm not actually well, and the serious possibility of another relapse is ever present. A return to actual normal life depends on how/if/when the new medication I am waiting for is finally made available to me and starts to actually make me well again. From a practical perspective, I don't therefore need any more summer work wear for this year -- I have just enough garments that fit and are in good condition to get me through any kind of one-off requirement for that kind of outfit. I won't be travelling this summer so I won't need anything out of the ordinary like beachwear. Although my weight is actively in flux (manly due to medication changes plus being able to take up exercise again) many of the things I made last summer still fit pretty well, plus I have a decent pile of clothes left from other summers when I was a similar weight.

All that leaves me with then is filling in holes in my casual wardrobe for a summer probably spent pretty much entirely in the north of England. Barring a freak summer, that means temperatures that generally hover around 20-22C (around 70F) with occasional warmer days, and plenty of days when it rains, especially in August. Most summers I live in linen trousers with a knit or woven top and a cardigan, or a maxi skirt and the same. On warmer days I break out shorts or knee-length skirts.

The green shirt on the right is one of my sleeveless shirt options I am considering (from Ottobre 02/2013)
The biggest hole in my wardrobe by far is a total lack of short-sleeved and/or sleeveless woven tops or shirts. Since I'm very into shirt-making at the moment my present plans include at least a couple of classic button fronted shirts with collars but short-sleeves or no sleeves. I've also been digging through my pattern collection for some other woven top options. Fabric wise, I have some drapey viscose to use and I've earmarked a couple of smaller pieces of crisper plain cotton that are the perfect length and fabric for sleeveless classic shirts. I also have one piece of seriously gorgeous green and blue checked shirt-weight linen that I bought in Ireland for the express purpose of making a summer shirt and then never dared to cut into last year. This summer I am determined to use it!

Maxi skirt from Burda Classics 2013
I don't need much in the way of clothes for my bottom half -- I made shorts last year that still fit, and I was able to thrift several great pairs of linen trousers earlier in the year when nobody else was buying them. I do want one maxi skirt, and I'm thinking about maybe using a pattern from Burda Style Special: Classics from 2013. The pattern uses an insane amount of fabric -- even more so since my fabric is at best semi-opaque and I therefore had to buy something to use as a lining -- but I love how full it is and also that it has a wide yoked waistband. I also have one piece of burgundy cotton sateen fabric just right for a knee length skirt, but no idea about pattern yet.

Style Arc Stacie


I'm still thinking about outerwear patterns. I do want to make the Grainline Morris blazer, as previously mentioned, and now they are popping up all over on a variety of figure types I am more determined than ever as people are getting really nice results. I've also got a yen for little red jacket in corduroy. I was thinking seriously enough about pairing my fabric with the StyleArc Stacie jacket that I dug out my pattern and did a ton of measuring (it's the only paper StyleArc pattern I have ever bought, though I have a couple I received for free and a couple of e-patterns -- I can't say I'm overly excited by single-size patterns). The other possible outerwear project is the navy trenchcoat I've been talking about for what, 2 years now? However, I'm not even thinking about that with any real intent until towards the end of my summer sewing season, if then.

This dress from Burda (03-2015-127A) is my front-runner for a wrap dress as I've been in love with this pattern since I first saw it
The other category I am contemplating dipping a toe into is woven dresses. I have so many hesitations about wearing dresses (and therefore about making them), and yet at the same time it's the single largest category of patterns that I own. The mismatch is kind of ridiculous. I picked out a handful of fabrics from my stash and now I am trying to match them to simple, casual summer dress patterns that I hope I won't feel too self-conscious to wear. My current plans are to make some kind of shirtdress (my obsession with shirts is never-ending!), some kind of wrap dress, and maybe one other. My fabric choices run the gamut from "I don't care what happens to this" to "this is one of my favourite fabrics that I own so I will probably wear anything I make from it no matter what".

I made this satchel in 2013, and I plan to use the same pattern again (Lisa Lam's Too Cool For School Satchel)
Also in my sewing queue for the summer: a satchel bag in turquoise; woven nightdresses for summer; a bag made with a metal closure that I've been hoarding for years; some smaller bag projects including some embroidery projects; and, if I can work up any enthusiasm for the dull sewing, some Roman blinds for my hallway and landing. I've been taking a break from knitting partly because I felt my hands needed it, but partly because I got bogged down in an incredibly tedious knitting project that consisted of an actual stocking stitch rectangle (which is still not finished, but almost) for felting/bag-making purposes. However, my summer knitting project is a solid (non-stripy) Backshore jumper (Ravelry link). I cast on a month ago but then got no further than my cast-on row, so I am planning to really concentrate on getting moving on it over the next few weeks. Of course, with my knitting luck, I'll finish just as the weather gets too cold to wear an elbow-length sleeved jumper!

Phew, all that sounds like a lot of work, but all things that I am actually quite excited to have in my wardrobe by the end of my sewing season! :D For May itself, I am thinking that I'll most probably work on woven shirts and the last pieces of replacement nightwear that I'll be doing. One thing you might notice is that I am NOT doing Me Made May. I thought about it last year but I was too sick, and this year, eh. I get why people do this, but for me personally, I wear the things I make all the time anyway, and I feel like I already understand my make/buy mix and how my wardrobe fits together. Plus, I have to be honest, the people doing the daily/weekly outfit photos are beyond boring by the end of the month and I therefore feel no need to emulate them!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Made: The "Fake Everything" Snazzy Slouch

This is the first more-complicated-than-a-tote bag that I've made in ages.

Despite adjusting the lighting, the details of this bag are, in fact, invisible in this photo
I also started it ages ago, back at the end of February. Then I hit a construction problem due to the fabric and ground to an unenthusiastic halt. When I picked it up again yesterday I suddenly realized that the problem was extremely fixable and promptly finished the bag in three hours. So often the way with sewing -- if you leave your finished item for a few weeks often you can't remember why you thought it was so terrible/unfixable in the first place!

More visible details! The outer pocket is a fake leather with a pindot pattern stamped into it
 The pattern is the Snazzy Slouch by ChrisW. She is one of my favourite bag pattern makers because her bags patterns, even the easy ones, are definitely a good step above most of what is available in terms of complexity and cleanness of finish. This bag at the easy end of her pattern spectrum, and it is not one that I have made before. However, I would definitely make it again. The only issue I have is the way the outer pockets (here in fake leather with a stamped pindot) are constructed. Whether this was because of the combination of materials or sewing error on my part, I ended up with a line of the lining fabric visible at the lower edge of the pocket. As it happens, I kind of like how it looks -- sort of like a piped edge  -- but I am pretty sure it is not supposed to look like that! On the other hand, not that it's visible in my photos, I really love the way the zipper and strap tabs go together at the end of making this bag -- it makes for a really great finished product.

I made only the very tiniest of changes to the design. I chose to use a long plastic strap harvested from a (hideous) RTW crochet bag I bought many years ago and never used rather than making my own. The strap on this bag is the perfect length to allow me to wear it cross-body. I also put in a plastic base rather than a peltex base, just because I like it when bags have firm base to sit on.

Simplified interior of bag
I also chose to simplify the interior of the bag (which should have a dividing, zipped pocket in the centre) for two reasons. Mainly, I just didn't have enough of my lining fabric (which is called Love City, and which my friend T gave me a yard of for my birthday a couple of years ago and that I have been hoarding ever since.) Secondly, though, I prefer just having one big cavernous space in which to throw things. I am not the most organized of handbag carriers -- I just fling everything in!

Overall, I found the bag really easy to put together (bearing in mind that if I have any claim to any kind of expertise in sewing, it is in making bags, as I have made a metric tonne of them) and all and any problems that I encountered were really due to the fabrics I chose. The biggest issue was with the faux suede. Some of this was stabilized using interfacing, but the bag is intentionally quite slouchy and thus some sections (the yoke pieces in particular) are left uninterfaced. Alas, stitching together the fake suede, which stretched in weird ways, and the faux leather, which also stretched in weird ways was not a dream come true in any way! I tried my (newly purchased) roller foot. I tried a teflon foot. I tried my walking foot. Nothing really helped, and my big construction drama that made me abandon the bag part way through was precisely because the faux suede distorted so horribly that I was struggling to match my seam lines at an important point. However, I was able to fudge it and it had no real effect on the finished bag, so whatever, manufactured drama I guess!

This is the biggest visible construction error: the bottom edge of the pockets WOULD NOT match >:( and I KNOW they were the same size!
Of course there are a bunch of imperfections, but I am quite pleased with my bag overall, and it's made me realize all over again how much I do enjoy bag making. For a while I went off it entirely, probably because I made so many millions of bags back when I first started sewing.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

This indecision's buggin' me

I would like to report to you all that I have made substantial coat progress, but in fact I've made none whatsoever. In fact, I have been in a glump, and have neither sewn nor knitted anything in over a week while I waited out my glumpishness. 

Really, the problem was that I just couldn't decide whether I really WANTED the coat I would be making with the Ottobre pattern I chose, or if I would just find it to be wardrobe deadweight. This was not helped by my recent wardrobe spring cleaning efforts, when I hit upon a method to clean my old raincoat. It came up beautifully and doesn't therefore need to be replaced, and, as is well established, I am not generally in favour of making things I don't need. Moreover, there's a large part of me that thinks that fabric would make a much better trenchcoat type coat, rather than a casual coat. However, I really don't feel like I want to sew a trenchcoat right now.

Yesterday, though, I decided life is WAY too short for all this wibbling, and since I am mostly just not feeling the coat project at all in any way, I folded everything up and put it away again. That fabric will get made up into something eventually, I am sure, but today is not that day.

In order to kickstart myself back into actually doing something, I decided to spend my sewing time yesterday and today on a couple of little easy projects, plus some fabric re-organization. I spent some time hemming some too-long linen trousers I bought a few weeks ago. This isn't a particularly fun job but the trousers were unwearably long without this alteration and it actually doesn't take too long once I get started. So dull though, ugh, so I gave myself a couple of hours to re-organize my fabric as a reward. I am definitely someone who enjoys petting the fabric stash and seeing if I can find interesting matches between fabrics I own for future outfits. I came up with a couple of new ideas while I was folding and sorting my fabric tubs this time, plus everything is now tidy again after the recent influx of fabrics that I bought that probably I shouldn't have bought (do not even think about asking about my fabric fast!)

Obnoxiously floral PJ shorts (Ottobre 05-2011-02)
Finally, in the interests of actually making something, I cut out and sewed some PJ shorts for the summer. I used a fake Liberty print in rather nice pima cotton. I have to admit I wouldn't be seen dead in anything this flowery and bright in public, but I kind of love using it for PJs. I accidentally (well, "accidentally" -- due to stupidity more like) bought only 1m of this fabric towards the end of 2014, having originally intended to buy 2m for long PJ trousers, and it's been lurking in stash waiting for warm weather ever since. The pattern is Ottobre 05-2011-02, a simple elasticated waist PJ short pattern that I have used several times before. It should really only take an hour to make at this point, but I've discovered that I really like my PJs sewn with French seams for both neatness and longevity, which basically doubles the time it takes to make them.

Morris Blazer by Grainline
At the risk of jinxing myself, I think I have dragged myself out of my glump, and I am now contemplating with some considerable interest (a) my existing summer sewing plans; and also (b) the new Morris blazer pattern from Grainline, which I bought when it came out yesterday.  Generally speaking, the Grainline aesthetic and I are not the best match -- so many boxy unfitted things! -- although I have a couple of the patterns and made the Linden sweatshirt twice already. The Morris blazer though really grabbed me -- mainly because I really like the collar -- and I have been looking for a while for a really interesting pattern to make with a particular piece of ponte knit. I'd sort of settled on a Kwik Sew pattern, but this Grainline pattern is a great deal more interesting to me. If I can summon up the enthusiasm to put together the PDF pattern, I might try making a muslin of this quite soon!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Spring cleaning

In light of the springiness that is currently springing here in the north of England, this weekend I spent some time going through my wardrobe pretty thoroughly before I switch it over for the summer.

As I went through my clothes, I found I continue to have a hard time determining whether or not something is actually at the point where it should no longer be worn in public or I am just really bored of it. There's always a part of my brain thinking that if something is not actually falling apart at the seams/full of holes/trailing pulls then it's fine! Totally wearable! And I shouldn't throw it away just because I am bored of it. On the other hand, there's definitely a tipping point when I suddenly realize (usually while at some kind of professional gathering where I'd like to look at least presentable) that no, really, this garment has had one wash too many, it looks terrible. I'm trying to keep a closer eye on my clothes so that I figure that out at N-1 wears, rather than N, but there are a few things in my wardrobe that I just honestly can't tell if they're done or if I'm just done with them.

At any rate, the weekend cull resulted in me shedding 33 items of clothing. Of those, about half were so decrepit, badly made or heavily worn that they went straight into recycling. Saddest loss on this front: the Ottobre zipper hoodie I made in November 2014. Loved the idea and outcome when first made. Did not love the fabric which developed hundreds and hundreds of pulls up and down the inside of the sleeves from the first day I wore it. I can't even work out how or why it was happening -- I thought maybe it was catching on the zip somehow, but I never saw it do so. So frustrating, especially as it was one of the most expensive fabrics I have bought and used so far! Also sad was the culling of the last thing in my active wardrobe from the very first garments I made in 2012 (a pair of PJ shorts). In that blog post, I'm all "I didn't finish the seams at the right time!". Alas, past!me, that is what doomed the shorts to the bin in the end - all the overlocking came unravelled and the seam allowances followed suit.

The other half of the culled clothes were mainly decent quality RTW and went into a charity box because they were still in good condition. Most of the things that went to charity were from 2012 and early 2013, which was a period when my weight hit an intermediate high following treatment for a thyroid condition. I kept the nicest/ best quality/ favourite pieces of my wardrobe from that weight, just in case I need them again, but got rid of anything I didn't love. I only have so much storage space, so I try to keep my collection of too big/too small clothes down to the things that most make me wish I had a grow/shrink ray gun. Due to these selection criteria, and because my shoddy sewing skills means there wasn't a lot of quality to the first garments I made, I really don't have much left to show for the first two years of my garment sewing attempts except the photos I took for this blog. Of the 12 garments I made in 2012, I have only one thing (a navy skirt) in storage, and of the 21 garments I made in 2013, I have one skirt in storage, and two pairs of PJs and a red and white t-shirt I now wear as a PJ top in active rotation. Everything else is dead and caput, some of it long since.

Overall, it felt like a pretty productive cull, and I updated my wardrobe and sewing plans today as a result quite extensively. On the one hand, I reckon I have a season more in enough of my summer-y knits to last for this year, so I've crossed out plans to replace them. On the other hand, I was able to add all kinds of (more interesting to make!) things in their place. (I also realized that I really, REALLY have to fabric fast for the summer. I am allowing myself two specific pieces of fabric that I've already decided on, and NOTHING ELSE. I need to stop even LOOKING at fabric other than that!)

Meanwhile, while clothes were going out the door and plans were being made for summer, I have also been working on making one of the last projects on my sewing plan for spring, a raincoat. Luckily(!), it rains all the time here where I live, so it's actually not all that season dependent.

In the end, after endless pattern deliberation, I've gone with a casual style anorak from Ottobre 02-2007:

Ottobre 02-2007-18 Anorak
I probably won't do the welt pockets because they're awkwardly placed more or less exactly at bust level, and I think it looks weird if I lower them. Despite avoiding the welts, though, there are still a couple of new things for me in the pattern: (a) a two part sleeve, which I've not done before, (and actually just easing the sleeve cap in a firm shower-resistant cotton may be challenging);  (b) it's fully lined. I'm using a slippery poly fabric for lining, which is always exciting from a fabric perspective, and a full lining means some construction bits I've never done before to fully enclose the shell and lining (though as you can see from the diagram, the hem and sleeve hem are topstitched closed).

So far all I've done is prepare the pattern and tissue fit (surprisingly good, as far as you can tell from paper) but I will hopefully have a working muslin this week. I was almost tempted not to muslin after the tissue fit seemed so reasonable since this is not a fitted style. However, I think it's probably a good idea for a first outerwear project, just because I don't really have a sense of how much ease I want across e.g. my upper back in a coat, none of my RTW fits well enough to measure from, and tissue fitting is hopeless for that kind of thing.