Saturday, 30 April 2016

April round-up, Summer sewing ahead

I am mostly pleased with my sewing this month! I made a bodywarmer (vest), a whole pile of t-shirts, a pink boucle jacket, and an extremely frustrating navy viscose button-front shirt.

Stash reduction-wise, I actually used quite a lot of fabric this month, but alas, the fabric buying gremlins were awake and active and I have ended April more or less at parity for where I started on the first of January. Still, I have plenty of year left to do some stash reduction and lots of sewing plans for fabric I already own, so I am not giving up on the idea that one day I could have less. Yet. /o\

One thing I am managing to do is whittle down my bag fabric stash a little. Over the last couple of days I made further strides in this direction of having less bag fabric by making two simple bags. The first, in blue paisley with a plain blue lining, is literally just some rectangles of pretty fabric sewed together with a boxed bottom -- truly the simplest of bags! I made a little zippered pouch for it to get stuffed in when not in use, and both are going to my mum as a gift as she has unfortunately misplaced the previous version of the same bag & pouch combo that I made for her.

The second bag I made is a pink tote -- because I already made a pink jacket this month, so why not? This is (very) slightly more interesting bag, from a construction perspective. I used a pattern called the LilyBeth Tote (Etsy link, I am not affiliated in any way). It turned out pretty well! The lining of the pink bag is just a plain cream. I've had the pattern for years but never used it, though I've made up pretty much all of the pattern writer's other patterns at one point or another. I really like the LilyBeth and might make some more, as it's a really nice size. It's fun to do a little bit of fussy cutting for the fabric panels as well.
Some tote bags I made over the last couple of days
So that's April all done, and with it all of the sewing I'd earmarked to make and wear this spring that I'm going to get done.

Since it's May tomorrow, it's time to move on to sewing for the summer! :D This seems really optimistic when the temperature is like 8C, it keeps pouring with rain and there's snow on the hills. However, the defining characteristics of the British summer are that it is often short and always unpredictable. You have to have your warm weather wear READY, in case the sudden week of sunshine and warmth in like, mid-June, turns out to be the only summer you get. This is why I like to sew a few weeks ahead of the actual weather, even though then I get all impatient for opportunities to actually wear things!

At any rate, I am pretty well supplied for the essentials of my summer wardrobe (linen trousers, lightweight cardigans, t-shirts since I made a pile of them this month, etc). What I haven't got even one of is summer dresses, mainly because of my continued ambivalence about wearing summer dresses. However, I am determined to make an attempt to both make and wear some summer weight dresses, including shirtdresses which, if you have followed this blog for a while, you will understand appeal to me a LOT since I do love both making and wearing button-front shirts. I also want one more pair of shorts and some summer skirts, some woven short-sleeved tops and blouses, and at least one lightweight jacket.

The first thing up on my sewing table next week though will be a three-quarter sleeve top using a recent Burda pattern, 03-2016-104.
Burda 03-2016-104, images from Burdastyle.ru
The reason I am making a hi-lo hem top is that I will be using a new-to-me fabric, double gauze, and I want something that will show off the inside colour of the fabric as well as the outside. This swingy top seemed just the right thing, though I've had to lengthen it a little because I am very much of the just say no to crop tops opinion for my own body. After my experience with my Ottobre shirt I am also paranoid about the sleeves and must double check it will fit before I cut anything out!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

My shirtmaking frustration (or, Deja Vu with Ottobre 05-2012-07)

So, back in September 2014 I made my first button-fronted shirt using Ottobre 05-2012-07 in a navy fabric. And here it is again! Well, not quite, this is my new April 2016 version.
Finished shirt before sleeve surgery. The exposure of this photo is ramped all the way up to show the details in the dark navy colour.
I really loved the original 2014 shirt and wore it loads and loads despite the fact it was very far from perfectly made. I am pleased to say that the actual sewing survived hard wear and frequent wash over the last 18 months. The inexpensive fabric, however, not so much. When it came out of the wash last it was looking really rough, especially around the cuffs, so I decided to replace it. I thought hard about whether I wanted to make up a new pattern, but the fact is that this shirt and the chambray shirt I made from the same pattern in October 2014 (which is still going strong despite even more frequent wear than the navy version) are among my favourite and most frequently worn things I've ever made. Why mess with success, was my thinking... except it kind of didn't work out that way.

My starting point then was Ottobre 05-2012-07, without the pockets or the colour blocking options provided by the pattern. (I do not like pockets over my bust at all and always leave them off everything.)

Ottobre 05-2012-07 "Gardener shirt"

The big change between the October 2014 version and this version is the fabric. The 2014 shirt was made in an easy-to-sew, stable cotton, and this new one is a very soft viscose. I love this new fabric in the abstract: it drapes and hangs absolutely beautifully and it's very nice to wear. On the other hand, wow, I really did not like making a fiddly detailed shirt with it.

Collar points made with new-to-me "thread pull" method, which I like a lot
Let me lead with the one construction thing that I was really pleased with: I tried out the "thread pull" method described in this tutorial for my collar points. I have always tried quite hard to get good points on my collars, but my success in the past with achieving good pointiness has varied and it's always been quite a time-consuming task. I absolutely loved this new-to-me method -- my collar points on this shirt are about as pointy as I've ever managed and it really took no time at all. Definitely a technique I'll use again! That is literally the only detail of the shirt I would say I was 100% happy with, however.

Many of my issues came from struggling with the fabric.

Here you can see the problem I had with my button bands -- yes, my "straight lines" really are THAT wobbly
Problem 1:  The viscose was very shifty when I was cutting and although the larger pattern pieces turned out okay, the smaller pieces like the collar, cuffs and button band were really difficult to cut well. I had to re-cut the collar stand three times. I should also have cut the button bands again because I just couldn't seem to get good rectangles, but I didn't have enough fabric. I really really regretted this later. Although I tried really hard to compensate for the imperfect shape of the fabric pieces, my button bands turned out absolutely shitty, to be frank. They make it look like I can't sew a straight line. It's the sort of thing that I don't think is too noticeable from 1m away, but still, ugh. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I hate when things like this go wrong because I think it makes the things I make look really Becky-Home-Ecky and cheap. For next time, I think a cut-on-and-folded button band would be much easier to work with if I want to make a button-front shirt with a drapey fabric.

Problem 2: The difference in texture and stretchiness under the presser foot between the fabric on its own and the fabric fused to interfacing was extremely pronounced. I really don't like at all how heavy the interfaced button band turned out as a result, although fortunately the collar and collar stand, despite being interfaced just the same, turned out quite well. I'm not sure fusible interfacing was overall a good idea though -- maybe self-fabric as interfacing next time?

Problem 3: The fabric shredded like mad at the cut lines and barely holds a crease. Ordinarily I flat-fell shirt construction seams -- I just like how this looks and I've found it has really good laundry longevity. However, there was no way in hell I was going to flat fell this slippery viscose, especially when I realized it really doesn't take a crease well, so I French seamed it instead. This is fine, I don't mind french seaming, but because the fabric was super shreddy no matter how carefully I trimmed and seamed, I still ended up with hairy French seams, which, ugh. I might have been better off just overlocking even if I don't find that it lasts as well for wovens in the wash.

Problem 4: The fabric puckered when I sewed any line that wasn't either straight along the grain line or perpendicular to it, which is to say, almost every seam and the darts. The bust darts and shoulder seams in particular are hideous. I need to look up how to improve my stitching on this type of shifty fabric so I don't continue to have this problem.

Finished shirt after sleeve surgery
The biggest problem though, I can't blame on the fabric, because it's down to fit. I didn't do as many adjustments to this version as the last as since I last made the shirt my measurements have changed a bit to be slightly smaller. So, the last time I made the shirt in Octobre 2014 I made a 44 with, among other adjustments, an FBA. This time I made a 44 without an FBA, because my bust measurement has decreased but I felt that the original shirt still fit well at the neck and shoulders. However, last time I also did a small upper back adjustment, and I also omitted that this time. This turned out to be a mistake -- the shirt is just a little tighter through the upper back than I like.

I could probably have lived with it not being a great fit at the back, but it's exacerbated by the bigger fit problem around my upper arm. Last time I did an overly large bicep adjustment and then had all sorts of problems with the sleeves twisting. This time, I used the pattern as written as, according to the Ottobre size chart, a size 44 uses a measurement of 31.4cm for the upper arm and my actual current upper arm is 31cm. However, the full length sleeves on this shirt were just not at all comfortable. This cements my opinion that the Ottobre sleeve draft is overall just slimmer than I prefer to wear, no matter whether I am allegedly the right measurement or not. I've had this problem before with knits and wovens alike in Ottobre. They tend to bind all the way down the bicep to just below the elbow on me.

Finished shirt as modelled by me -- I really had to mess with the colour settings to get anything to show
Anyway, between the back being a little tight and the upper arms being too tight, the fit felt miles off, definitely enough for me to feel really fed-up with it as a long-sleeved shirt. I decided to cut the sleeves down to short sleeves and that really improved the situation a lot, as it turned out. It's not the best fit across the back I've ever worn, but it's entirely wearable now that my arms don't feel constricted from shoulder to below the elbow.

As far as the rest of the shirt goes, button band horror notwithstanding, the fit is generally good, I love how the collar turned out, and how the bodice hangs at my hips. I am a size 40 hip in Ottobre but I didn't taper from the size 44 I used at the bust -- I rarely do taper unless something has to actually fit at the hip and I definitely wasn't interested in doing so with this shirt. The extra space gives the hem a nice full, floaty feel to it and I like how it fits a lot.

In conclusion: Well, I didn't particularly set out out to end up with a short sleeved navy shirt, but I am pretty sure I will wear this one a lot over the summer. Overall, the experience was extremely frustrating though -- mainly because I feel like I should be getting better outcomes in the details of shirtmaking at this point than I am. Quite a lot of my problems were down to the fabric/pattern combination. I'll know next time I use a very drapey viscose that I need to pick a different sort of pattern, or at least be more prepared for the problems I'll have in construction!

Next up: I have no idea. I mean, I have a list, but I am really not sure where to start with it at all! Since May begins this weekend I am going to be fully into summer sewing in the next month, despite the forecast for snow overnight tonight! D:

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Seemed like a good idea at the time (Burda 08-2015-132 cardigan/jacket)

As much as I like to talk about my "sewing plan", I can't honestly say my sewing proceeds in an orderly fashion. I tend to change my plans about fifty eight times before I actually do anything, and quite often end up making things in quite a different order than originally intended, in a different fabric, and with different details. I figure I spend about five times as much time "planning" as I do sewing, but I'm OK with that since that's about par for my course in life in general. It's therefore quite unusual for me to buy a new fabric, find a pattern and start (and finish) a garment in the space of a week.

The story begins last Friday when, as an antidote to feeling very miserable, I decided to peruse fabric online, which led, inevitably, to buying some of said fabric. (I know, I know, this is a slippery slope to hideous levels of stash accumulation. It's still better for me as stress relief than some of the alternatives!) One of the fabrics I bought was at the more unusual end of my purchasing spectrum, being a pink and white boucle poly/viscose blend. Boucle is something I am generally ambivalent about, so the fabric type at least is a definite departure.

Pink and white boucle fabric (with pattern pieces)
As even a cursory glance at my collected sewing output shows (and my 2015 completed garments page shows this off perfectly) I tend to wear a pretty limited colour palette. I like black and white and a little bit of grey, lots of blue, green and turquoise, and for variety I'll throw in some red and brown (though the latter never for my upper body). My RTW wardrobe is basically more of the same with one notable colour addition that, somehow, I've never previously had occasion to sew -- hot pink or fuchsia. Actually, the reason I haven't ever sewn it is that I never have much of it, usually just one or two pieces and a couple of accessories. However, it is something I own and wear, so while this looks kind of random as a wardrobe addition, it's not really quite as odd as it seems.

I hit purchase on two metres of this fabric (among other things) without really looking for a pattern. My first stop to rectify that was my Burda collection which, can I just say, is easily the best investment of my sewing life. You can always find something that works if you have a few years of Burda in your pattern stash! By the time the fabric arrived in the mail mid-week, I'd more or less fixed on the idea of making an easy unlined jacket from Burda Easy A/W 2015, and had even gone so far as to cut the pattern out (Burda Easy provides pattern sheets rather than a "road map" to trace). I was a little frustrated however, because I'd turned up what I thought was better pattern but it needed 2.3m of fabric. Then I had the happy surprise when the fabric arrived on Wednesday that the vendor sent me 2.65m not 2m! I have no idea why. I can only assume it was the end of the roll or something and they decided to send the whole piece rather than have 0.65m hanging about. Anyway, with 2.65m I went back to the pattern I liked better, Burda 08-2015-132, a Plus, open, unlined coat pattern designed to use the fringed selvedge of the fabric on the shawl collar, which is what I really liked about it.

Burda 08-2015-132 Open boucle coat (images from Burdastyle.com)
I traced out the pattern in a straight size 44 on Wednesday -- only my usual minor Burda corrections of a very small square shoulder adjustmnt and lowering the bust dart by 2.5cm required -- and started work on it on Thursday. Here it is pinned together on Thursday evening, and then on Flossie with the side seams done and the sleeves attached on Friday morning this week:

Pink boucle coat at the original length
When I took the photo on the left on Thursday I didn't precisely dislike the coat at this length, but eh, I really didn't love it either. I persevered for a while but once I got to the point of construction on the right by Friday lunchtime, I was starting to feel like it looked a bit like a giant pink boucle blanket and I wasn't really into it. On a whim, I tried pinning up some of the length to see if it looked better shorter, and then, after a break to think about it and eat lunch, that is what I decided to do. I chopped 22cm off the length in total.

Finished boucle jacket on Flossie
This is how the jacket ended up. I left off the pockets because although I cut them down to fit the new length of the garment, I didn't like the proportions of large patch pockets on this length of jacket.

Back of pink boucle jacket
The pattern calls for you to tape over the seams with 3cm wide twill tape. A quick search for this revealed that 3cm wide pink cotton twill tape in the amount required for this jacket was going to cost me far more than the fabric (which was, to be fair, pretty cheap), so I wasn't thrilled with that idea. Two summers ago though I went through a phase of making bias tape from random bits of fabric from my bag stash, including one in white with little pink flowers. I had 11m of it and I figured this would be enough to tape at least the visible seams and hem on the jacket.

Inside construction
As you can see from this photo, I did indeed manage to tape the majority of the seams -- the front band, hems, shoulder and armscye seams. I did the shoulders and armscye because I felt like they would benefit the most from the extra structure of the bias tape. I didn't have enough for the side seams or the insides of the sleeves, so I just overlocked those seams. It looks fine, if not quite as pretty as the taped seams, and being at the sides is much less likely to be on show as the hem and front band seams.

Close up of taping and how the fringed selvedge of the fabric is used
Of course, bias taping every seam seems like a good idea at two points in time: before you start, and after you finish. At every point in between you realize that it is a TERRIBLE idea, as you go over the same seam for the third time, fighting with what feels like four miles of recalcitrant bias tape as you sew. I mean, it looks great now it's done, but oh my god, the swearing I was doing while I sewed this.

One of the big draws of this pattern was the way it used the fringed selvedge. You can see it in the photo above on the right. It's a really great detail on the pattern and I am really pleased with how the shawl collar looks with the fringed edge.

Pink cardigan as modelled by me
Overall, though, I think I like this jacket better on Flossie and on a hanger than I like it on me. I took a hasty photo flung over my normal Saturday morning attire, so, you know, not necessarily how I'd wear it in real life. On the fit front, there's not much to worry about with such a loosely fitting style. I have been making a lot of Burda size 44s lately and I am not convinced I am entirely right to be doing so. Yes, the fit through the bust is great without an FBA, but I think I really need a 42 at the shoulder. (Not that this was an option on this pattern, since it is a Plus pattern and only starts at a 44.) In this particular case, one size smaller at the shoulder wouldn't have helped me I don't think: the garment is designed with big dropped shoulders. That never looks good on me and I hate how the low hang of the shoulder makes the upper arms twist.

I don't know, I am just not crazy about the outcome. I am definitely second guessing my decision on length, even though this length (75cm at the centre back) is one I normally like a lot in a jacket.

Maybe it will grow on me. Or something.

Striped t-shirt made using my basic tee pattern (based on New Look 6150). I added a sleeve band this time for some interest
While I am waiting for that to happen, here is my very last t-shirt for this summer. As I mentioned in my previous t-shirt roundup post I had temporarily mislaid this piece of fabric when I was making the others but a more thorough search turned it up eventually. This is just my basic t-shirt pattern, iteration number 9. I do like sewing with stripes, if only because little details like cutting the neckband in the other direction and adding a little contrast stripe sleeve band are so easily done and look really cool.

Monday, 18 April 2016

A fistful of t-shirts

This weekend I was a t-shirt making machine! I made four in total from three different patterns.

Cozy Little World Jasmin line drawing (because the details are all but invisible on my versions!)
First up, let me introduce what is possibly going to be my new favourite t-shirt pattern. I saw someone's version of this pattern, the Cozy Little World Jasmin T-shirt, on Instagram last June and liked the look of it so much I bought it immediately even though I knew I wouldn't be making it up until this spring. The pattern maker is French, but this particular pattern is also available in English (her other patterns seem to be French only). It's a bit limited in sizes -- 34-44 with similar measurements to Burda -- but otherwise it's a decent pattern. It's only a few pages so not too much sticky-taping nonsense is required and the PDF goes together well. Also, it's only 3 Euros so it's kind of a bargain in these days of US$15-18 t-shirt patterns from indies.

The two Jasmin t-shirts I made this weekend
I made the size 44 and I can therefore inform you that yes, it is perfectly possible to get the largest size out of a single metre of fabric with just a few little scraps remaining, even when you have to lay out your pattern in such a way as to make sure you don't end up with big circular blobs directly over your bust, as I did with the blue and white version.

I made this pattern up more or less unadjusted except for adding 2.5cm in length to the body. On the navy polka dot version I made the sleeves a little longer than the cap sleeves in the pattern (about 4cm extra) but because of the way I had to cut the tie-dye version (due to the aforementioned giant blobs over bust issue) I barely squeaked the cap sleeves out of the fabric.

What I really like about this tee is the shape. I've made a lot of reasonably close fitting tees, but I hadn't found a loose-fitting tee pattern that I really liked yet. It's hard to tell from static shots on Flossie, but this top has such a great shape. Made up in the right knit this top is just about the perfect summer top for me -- swingy and comfortable but not ridiculously voluminous. You can just about see the fullness at the front hem, and of course the back is even looser due to the gathers, but somehow it doesn't have that 'giant square tee' feel that a lot of full hemmed tops can have. It also just hangs really nicely. As you can tell, I'm definitely very smitten with this top and might end up making a million of them, though I think it's definitely one to make only with the drapier end of your knit stash. (Also, I saw some versions made up with striped fabric and eh, I'm not convinced by that at all. I think it's better in non-geometric patterns or plains.)

(A minor digression: I was originally going to make up a MyImage pattern (M1504 from the spring/summer 2015 issue) with the blue tie dye fabric, but I got half way through tracing out the pattern and was like, okay, no, this is STUPID. Why is it asking me to cut massive bias strips in a knit? What do the instructions even MEAN? What the hell are all these 5cm wide heavily interfaced facings doing on a simple t-shirt? Ugh! I have basically given up on the idea that I'll ever make anything from most of my MyImage magazines because so many of the patterns seem to have these sorts of problems. Life is too short and I have plenty of other, less painful, patterns.)

Burda 06-2004-114 -- very dull and not wholly successful navy V-neck tee
My third tee uses an extremely boring Burda knit pattern 06-2004-114. I picked it simply because I wanted to try out another V-neck pattern. Normally what I do is graft any new necklines onto my much adjusted basic t-shirt pattern sloper. However, I decided I would try out the fit of this top as it was. Big mistake! It's not a good fit at all compared to my sloper tee. The sleeve is particularly weird -- it has the highest, most pointy sleeve cap I have ever seen in a knit. As far as the reason for making this -- the V neckband -- was concerned, I found sewing the point of the V-neck neckband onto the t-shirt body very tricky and despite considerable unpicking and resewing (or maybe because of this) it's still not perfect now. It's probably a minor improvement on the previous Ottobre V-neck-without-a-V I made, though. I might try this neckband again grafted onto my sloper next time.

Ottobre 02-2013-13 'Lemon Juice' tee in black and cream stripy knit
And finally, my last t-shirt from this weekend is made with a pattern I have used before, the "Lemon Juice" tee, Ottobre 02-2013-13. I made this up previously in 2014 in a blue and white stripe and wore that version to death over two summers. It's cut on the bias and, as I'm extremely fond of a diagonal stripe, when I decided it was time to replace it I immediately started looking for interesting striped fabrics with which to make version 2. I eventually came up with this variable width black and ivory stripe in December and it's been lurking in my stash waiting for spring ever since. It's quite an odd pattern -- you cut it on the fold to get the side drape (on the right in the front view) and then it narrows at the hip so it clings there and hangs as shown on Flossie --  but I really like how it turned out and I always enjoyed wearing the previous version. I think this version is probably better than the original one I made because the variable width stripe fabric is more interesting and dramatic.

In conclusion: t-shirts galore for the summer!

Next up: I have one more t-shirt to make, but the fabric has gone missing in my sewing room somewhere (!) so that will have to wait until it turns up. In the meantime, I was all excited in my last post about my planned grey denim jacket... except that I suddenly thought to check whether that pattern requires a stretch fabric (it does) since my denim is not at all stretchy. I'm a bit frustrated because I had a whole list of possible Burda patterns to fall back on and when I checked them they were ALL written for stretch! So that is going on the back burner for a bit because I'm annoyed with the whole thing (and with 2012!me for buying non-stretch denim, which is actually very hard to find a use for, it turns out).

Friday, 15 April 2016

Bits and pieces

  • As usual, the cause of me vanishing from sewing social media for a fortnight is that I've been too sick to sew. Believe me, I am as bored of writing that as you must be of reading it. Happily, I've been feeling marginally less like death for the last couple of days so I've picked up the threads of some of my sewing activities. 
  • I was planning to make another shirt next but to be quite honest right now I can't face the plaid matching this would involve at all, no matter how much I like the idea of the finished garment. I've stuffed the fabric back on the shelf for now and I'm going to make some much less complicated t-shirts next instead. I'll be making a mix of ordinary tees and slightly more interesting knit top patterns. At the moment I am trying to figure out the most efficient order in which to sew them all to minimize thread changing on my overlocker!

Burda 03-2006-130A (technical drawing and modelled photo) and my grey denim
  •  My next "big" project is another piece of outerwear, of course. I'm planning on using this 2006 Burda pattern and some grey denim that has been lurking in my stash for an age. I can't decide at all which side of the denim to use -- neither is an obvious "wrong side" so I could use either. I am thinking maybe the dark grey because it suits my colouring better than the pale grey and would also probably be more versatile. I am also contemplating what buttons to buy -- I'm currently thinking some kind of metal.
  • I've never bought or made a pattern by Victory Patterns but today I coughed up for their new Hannah dress pattern. I am not at all sure that the sack dress/sleeveless look is a good choice for me at all but I'm nuts about that folded/pleated back detail, and I had an amazing idea for colour blocking with some fabrics I already have, so I thought, well, what the hell, I'll give it a try.
  •  I am so into mentally planning my summer wardrobe right now that it's a shock when I look up and it's like, oh yeah, it's still only mid-April, there's actually a few flakes of SNOW on the forecast for tonight (!!) and my tulips aren't even out yet in the garden (though they're ALMOST out -- maybe another 48 hours!). I don't really need sundresses yet...

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Warmer (New Look 6251)

This little zip sleeveless top, which I would call a bodywarmer and Americans would probably call a vest, has been in my sewing queue for a few months now. I had bagged everything I needed for it -- 1m of quilted knit from stash, pattern (New Look 6251), zip, etc. -- up  together, and then, I don't know, I sort of put it on one side and forgot it while I made other things. However, I thought it might come in useful this spring as an extra layer and dug it all out again the other day. It's taken me a few days to make, not because it's complicated but because I've only been able to work on it in very short bursts.

Knit bodywarmer (New Look 6251 view B) in navy quilted knit - the floral bias bound underarms aren't visible in wear. The light was TERRIBLE today so my photos are also kind of terrible, sorry about that.
There's a seller on eBay in the UK who has quite a few of these quilted/embossed knits for sale. I bought a little 1m piece in navy with a floral quilted pattern way back in December 2014 because I was intrigued by them and wanted to see what they were like. Originally, I thought I might make a quilted front raglan jumper, using a regular cotton/lyrca for the sleeves and hem band, but when it arrived I decided the rather stiff hand of the fabric and the boxy shape of the raglan pattern I had in mind would not be a flattering mix. (This is a nice way of saying it would have made me look like a brick wall, ha.)

Close-up of the fabric at the back
Although not useful for my original plan, it's an interesting fabric: it's a thick poly knit quilted to a separate backing. It's more stretchy than it looks too. Overall, I found it very easy to work with though I did have to play with my overlocker settings to get it to stitch nicely and pressing was a real problem. I wish I could have got a nicer pressed look on my seams but it didn't like heat and it didn't like steam and just overall, getting pressed looking seams without melting, crushing or making the fabric shiny was a bit tricky.

I'd definitely buy more of it though. I'm not wildly enamoured of the polyester backing -- I don't mind on this top because it's always going to be a top layer but no way would I want it against my skin -- but I think it would make a nice lined garment if you put a lightweight cotton knit on the inside. It also worked really well with a little bit of structure from the princess seams on this pattern. The only real problem I had with it was that it didn't cut well. I rotary cut it and I had to do so many passes to cut through the fabric and backing, and the backing still didn't cut cleanly. I ended up overlocking all my raw edges so I didn't have little fuzzy bits hanging off the edge.

New Look 6251
The pattern is very straightforward. I made a straight size 16 with no alterations at all, based on the finished garment measurements. The only change I made to the pattern is that view B, the ladies' bodywarmer top that I made, has twill tape sewn over the princess seams, which I didn't want. In retrospect I kind of wish I'd put in the pockets from view A, and I would probably do so if I make up this pattern again.

At the last minute I had to do surgery on the shoulder width. When I tried it on I was taken aback at how far over my shoulder point the outer edge of the fabric was. We're not talking "oh, maybe I should have used a size down for shoulder size!": I trimmed 4cm (just over 1.5") (!!) off the width at the shoulder seam, tapering to nothing at the top of the princess seam. This is definitely something I should have looked at in the pattern. Trimming the finished garment rather than adjusting before I cut out didn't really do the shape of the bodice and the overall fit above the bust and through the shoulder any favours but, eh, I'm happy enough with it for being what it is.

The instructions are the usual thing where you wonder if anyone at New Look has ever actually sewn with a knit. I largely followed the instructions for construction order, but I did almost all my sewing on the overlocker, hemmed it with the coverstitch, and really only put the zip in and did the armhole binding with my regular machine.

On me. The shoulders are actually the same, I'm not quite sure why it looks like one side is wider than the other! Isn't it always the way with modelled photos? I'm always having to disclaim some weird looking fit detail.
For all I am like zips in knits! ugh ugh, least favourite thing! it actually went in perfectly and very easily. I used fusible bias tape to stabilize the fabric where I sewed the zip in and I really didn't have any problems at all. The biggest zip problem I had was that it was way too short. I ended up leaving a bit of a space at the hem (probably just as well given how thick my folded hem is) and at the top of the standing collar because my zip wasn't long enough. I did buy exactly the length of zip described in the notions list, so I'm at a loss to explain the problem. Again, I don't really care too much, though I suppose aesthetically the collar would look nicer if it zipped all the way to the very top.

And that is that! This was a nice little sew in between woven shirts, which are so much more time-consuming and fiddly. My next project is the plaid shirt I've been putting off and putting off because I have a horrible feeling the plaid is off grain so I am dreading cutting out! D:

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Next up...


I can't believe it's April tomorrow! The weather has been quite spring-like here, where by spring-like I mean so changeable that it frequently pours with rain while being blindingly sunny at one and the same time. My daffodils are out in force though and things are generally looking a bit more green and cheerful, so I don't mind too much.

It's also the end of the first quarter of the year, so I had a squint at my sewing goals for the year to see how I'm doing.
  • Budget: Uh, well. /o\ I am about 20% over right now. At least there is plenty of year left to claw that back. On the plus side, I have been super careful about my pattern buying so far this year and have managed to keep spending on them to a bare minimum.
  • Reduce garment stash to under 150m. I mentioned at the end of February that unfortunately in the middle of a really terrible couple of weeks I went kind of mad on the fabric buying. I mean, I don't really regret it, precisely, because there are much worse ways to relieve stress. However, it does mean that even though I've done quite a lot of sewing (by my standards) over the last three months, I haven't made that much of a dent in my stash -- I am a mere 3.75m down on where I started the year. On the other hand, nearly everything I bought is for use in the next few months, so that's an improvement on last year. My 2016 stash reduction AND use-what-I-buy-in-2016 goals are definitely still achievable with 9 months to go and a sewing queue that mostly uses stash.
  • Among my specific skill-building type goals, I actually ticked one off! I made a piece of outerwear, my red raincoat, and after 2 weeks of wear I can report I am still thoroughly delighted with it.

New Look 6251 -- I am making view B
My plans for March start out pretty specific and then get all vague. I am in the middle of making New Look 6251, a knit bodywarmer type thing -- I guess Americans would say a 'vest', though that means something entirely different to me! - with a zip. When I say "in the middle of making", I mean I cut it out last weekend but then so far have had a week of total sewing apathy so it's still just in pieces on my cutting mat. I have barely walked into my sewing room this week, let alone got around to re-threading my serger in suitable thread. Some weeks are just like that.

Once that is done, I have another shirt on my list (using my old favourite Ottobre 05-2012-07) but it's a plaid so of course I've been putting off cutting it out because urgh, plaid matching. I also want to replace some of my older and more worn t-shirts before summer arrives. I'm planning to make four in total in a mix of patterns, some of which are new and some of which I've used before.

After that, there are more question marks than firm plans. I want to make some kind of cardigan with the expensive striped knit that didn't (and won't) end up being a Grainline Morris, but I am not at all sure what pattern to use. I'm also sort of thinking about making a grey denim jacket, or working on the unlined jacket I'm planning to make with the blue/green linen I dyed in February, but I also can't decide what patterns to use for either the denim or the linen or which I want to make first. I urgently need a tote bag with a zip but I need to resize the pattern I plan to use, and I'd like to make a new handbag for this summer but have so far no opinion on fabric, pattern or anything else.