Tuesday, 2 September 2014

This is all too much like hard work

I have felt rather glumpish the last week or so about sewing. Just last month I was feeling all joyful over making some progress with my sewing, but this week I just kind of want to sit around whining about how haaaaaaard everything is, omg, and why can't I just make stuff without having to unpick every darned thing a million times? >:( This has been exacerbated by making up a pattern with very inadequate instructions, which means spending a lot of time pondering the written directions and the pattern pieces and trying to imagine how things fit together.

At any rate, glumpishness aside, I AM actually making slow progress on my two current WIPs -- both tops, one from Patrones, and the other the much-discussed Ottobre button down. I might have something to show for this activity later in the week, though this in part depends on external forces a.k.a. WILL MY KITCHEN FINALLY BE FITTED?! Allegedly, a (new, improved) kitchen installer will be at my new house bright and early TOMORROW to commence work! I might actually be able to unpack my remaining belongings and MOVE IN!  If I can, then I will be absent from my sewing machine for a bit while I unpack the remainder of my belongings and sort myself out, but to be honest, I'd give up a LOT of time at my sewing machine right now for the promise of actually being able to move in!

In the meantime, I leave you with two tiny projects that I finished in late August: an Oyster card holder for my friend B made with fabric covered in sinister looking flamingoes (you may well ask why I even OWNED a fabric covered in sinister looking flamingoes, but I have no answer for you, really, other than they I bought it at the height of my fabric related delirium); and the other was the minor make-over of the turquoise Lady Skater dress I made back in June. In the end (and with many thanks to MULTIPLE commenters who offered excellent advice) I raised the waistline considerably, and unpicked the (hideous) cap sleeves and added elbow length sleeves instead. I don't think I'm ever going to love this dress, but it's now MUCH more wearable.

Sinister flamingo Oyster card holder; Lady Skater dress

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Another post of bullet points

  • I mailed things off to people all over the world today :D Yay for far-flung sewing ppl \o/ It seems to take 1-2 weeks for most things to get to people in the countries I posted to, so, ppl expecting things from me, keep an eye out for envelopes from the UK in that time frame :D (Except for B, because I sent your thing on a 2nd class stamp and it should therefore be on your doormat on Thursday <3.)
05-2012-07
  • I am in the throes of making my first collared, button up shirt using Ottobre 05-2012-07, which I have mentioned before. I did loads of flat pattern adjustments using my darted bodice sloper (which was based on the Ottobre woven tee I made a couple of times earlier this year) and cut out an inexpensive cotton version today. I'm torn on seam finishing. The fabric seems to fray quite a lot and I want the shirt to have sturdy seams. David Coffin's Shirtmaking book is all FLAT FELLING OR DEATH! but I don't know if it wouldn't be easier to just French seam it on this occasion.
  •  I also found a woven top I really want to make in a recent Patrones and I traced most of it off today. This is in addition to my previous autumn plans, but it should be a pretty quick sew -- it has a polo placket a lot like the Carme and I'll probably do simple seam finishes etc. If I like it, I might buy a couple of metres of this inexpensive fabric I have been eyeing online for MONTHS, but didn't have a pattern I wanted to use with it. In my mind's eye, it would be awesome with this Patrones pattern, but I want to see how it works out in a different fabric I already own before I buy anything.
Burberry jacket
  •  As if I didn't already have crazy outerwear plans for this autumn, I'm OBSESSED with the idea of making a simple armhole princess jacket with pre-quilted fabric. I was flicking through images in my HUGENORMOUS sewing inspiration board on Pinterest and kept coming back to these images of gorgeous, insanely expensive (£325) quilted jackets from Burberry. I found some nice, not very expensive fabric (allegedly ex Burberry, even, though I take such claims with a major pinch of salt!) on the internet and I have some pattern ideas. I keep thinking maybe I should make a MUCH simpler jacket instead of the black moleskin coat I had planned. I am still not convinced by the vintage Vogue pattern I thought I was going to use with that fabric (too plain, too boxy, not even any buttons to break up the unrelieved black) and this way I could push any pattern decision into my winter sewing later in the year or early next year, even. But then I'd have to buy fabric rather than use stash. On the other hand, I haven't bought ANYTHING this month except v. cheap buttons and 1.5m of lining for a specific project. DECISIONS, DECISIONS. 
  •  There's a big family-related party happening unexpectedly mid-September and I was invited at the weekend. The question is: do I make something to wear? I don't have the time or energy at present to figure out the fit of a woven dress, so I either need to make separates or a knit dress. So there's THAT to add to my autumn sewing list as well! It's an ever-expanding List Of Doom!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Bits and Pieces

1. Delayed by illness the last couple of days, sorry, but my giveaway (as determined by your requests and random draw on random.org) of Patrones magazines go to: Lyndle (Plus); Michelle (Kids); Nakisha (Dos Piezas) and MaryMary86 (regular edition straight sizes). Could those people all e-mail me their snail-mail addresses to westmoon243 at gmail.com and I will post them off ASAP. Some people offered to pay postage, and while I greatly appreciate the thought it isn't at all necessary as I am happy to fork out a few quid to spread some pattern entertainment around the sewing world. :D

2. Previously unconvinced by the brightly coloured Burda 07-2012-114 blouse I made, I have become more convinced having decided to sew on some poppers to the placket. It does look much better with the neck partly done up, and I am more enthusiastic about it overall as a result. Sometimes I think I shouldn't make any comment on a newly finished item until at least 72 hours have passed as I always change my mind about what I think about things in that time.

Asymmetrical zipped hoodie from Ottobre 05-2014

3. The new Ottobre is out! For once Ottobre did no sneak previews or anything for this issue -- the previews went up online and then my magazine turned up on my doorstep the very next day. I have made SO MANY Ottobre patterns over the last six months, I was super excited to get the latest issue. Alas, I had sort of daydreamed that they might have included the Perfect Winter Coat pattern that I was looking for (and, see below, have since more or less found) but the only coat pattern wasn't what I am looking for (to clarify: I didn't really know what I'm looking for, except for a woolly sense that I Would Know It When I Saw It, apparently).  At any rate, for me the standout pattern in this issue is the asymmetrical zipped hoodie, which I have already incorporated into my autumn sewing plans. I have the perfect fabric for it already and I should JUST be able to squeak the pattern out of it :D I also like the long shirt and the jersey tunic with the built in pockets, AND the sack dress with the built in pockets as well, although I fear it might not flatter me at all. In fact, the only pattern I don't like at all is the little blouse with the SLEEVE RUFFLE and ruffled peplum and ruffled neck and oh, lord, how many ruffles can you fit in one garment? (Also, dear pattern makers, WHY THE SLEEVE RUFFLE EPIDEMIC D:) Any other Ottobre fans with immediate plans from the new issue? :D?

My Very Ambitious Sewing Plan for Autumn 2014
4. Personally, I have MANY PLANS for this autumn. I put my very ambitious list into the sewing plan above. Things of note: SHIRTS. COATS. TROUSERS. In other words: EVERYTHING THAT I AM MOST FRIGHTENED OF SEWING. Yay? :D? That little Vogue envelope was a brainwave for my winter jacket-to-wear-with-jeans, so now I just have to remember that I've PICKED a pattern and not keep gazing pathetically at every issue of Burda etc going BUT WHERE IS MY DREAM COAT PATTERN.

I have some sort of order of sewing in mind: start with shirts, so I can try out some collars etc before I embark on outerwear patterns. I figure the Burda coat and the Ottobre jacket, being both armhole princess, will have some shared characteristics so that once I've done one the second of them should be easier. I think I might do the Burda coat first because the Ottobre jacket has the more difficult fabric (corduroy, rather than the plain navy coated cotton) although of course I'll be muslining both extensively anyway. I'm going to make some full length PJ trousers (because I've only made shorts up to now) before I embark on real trousers, and everything else is a knit or a skirt and will probably be easy (PROBABLY). Can I just mention that with the exception of the knit tops and the black trousers, absolutely all the fabric is from stash? I am NOWHERE NEAR my stash-busting goal for the year, so I must redouble my efforts over the last third of the year.

5. Heaven forfend I stop buying patterns though. My 'to buy' list now includes New Look 6303 which came out yesterday (although it won't arrive in the UK shops for AGES, sadly). I also kind of want to buy New Look 6301 when it's available, although I'll probably hang on for a sale for that one. I'm STILL on the fence about buying the Pauline Alice Cami dress. I really love my Carme blouses, but I wonder if the Cami dress is just a little too 50s-style for my taste. Also, I have this weird fascination with the Pauline Alice Malvarosa dress. It's a style I would never normally even consider but something about it makes me go back to the PA website and just stare at it over and over. I am torn between buying it, making it in some fabric I don't care about (I have QUITE A LOT of fabric I don't care about) and then if it's terrible I can just go shrug and move on, or focussing instead on the immense and complicated list of things I KNOW I want to make (see point 4). Why don't I have uncountable hours of leisure time so that I could do both? >:(

Saturday, 16 August 2014

In which I am unconvinced by Burda 07-2012-114 (and an Ottobre 05-2011-02 from the scraps)

Quick reminder: if you want to throw your name in the hat for a Patrones magazine, please see my post earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, the last item on my summer sewing list was another loose/unfitted blouse. I picked Burda 07-2012-114 because I had seen several made (mainly on the Burda Russia site) that I thought looked really nice. I am... unconvinced by the outcome, for several reasons. 
Burda 07-2012-114 (from the magazine)
Part of the reason I am so unconvinced is that I made a couple of adjustments and then wished I hadn't. I looked at the length and didn't think it was long enough so I added 5cm, but then when I came to try on realized I didn't like the extra length and ended up whacking off the same 5cm from the hem... except then when I hemmed it properly I'm still not convinced by the length. I also did a 2.5cm FBA with a side dart but I am not sure I needed quite that much or that the outcome is what I wanted. Then, on top of the adjustments I made and didn't like, I DIDN'T make some adjustments that I wish I had, notably the depth of that neckline split and the width of the neckline. It makes for a top that can't possibly be worn without something underneath and falls off my shoulders at the slightest/no provocation.

The bigger problem though is the shape of the pattern in combination with the fabric. I really like the fabric as a fabric: it's a very drapey viscose/cotton mix, a great summer weight and although it's rather outside my normal comfort zone for prints (I usually wear mainly solids and the occasional more sedate print) I really like the colours. However, the print proved very problematic to position on the pattern. It was actually worse when the top was 5cm longer, but I really don't like that white line mid-way down the top. It wasn't avoidable short of cutting on the cross grain, and I don't think there was anything I could have made with this fabric that wouldn't have had the same problem, but I just don't like it.

Burda 07-2012-114 (my version)
Overall, I am not sure how I feel about the top beyond unconvinced. In my head it was going to be a great thing to wear in bright sunshine as a top layer over a white tee and the white shorts I made for my mini-wardrobe but then I've spent most of the last two weeks in jeans and sweaters due to summer apparently abruptly coming to a halt in the British isles. Both sunshine and shorts are a distant memory, alas, so it's not like I was likely to wear it in the next few days, anyway. (Incidentally, amusingly, I came in second to last in the wardrobe competition. Better than last, I guess? I don't really care, I've already worn everything several times before the clouds rolled back in. It does remind me why I don't bother with the PR competitions though! :D )

Mid-way through making this top, when I realized that the print and the length were going to be a problem, I abandoned it for a few hours and cut out a quick second project from the scraps, namely a pair of PJ shorts using Ottobre 05-2011-02, which I have used a couple of times before. The piece I had left over from the 2m cut I bought was a rather strangely shaped 70cm and I had to make something where matching the print at the side seams was not a priority at all (in fact, I cut to the back in the opposite direction to the front) thus: PJs.

Ottobre 05-2011-02 "Sweet Dream" PJ shorts
The pattern is extremely uncomplicated. I last made it a year ago and so I did have to retrace two sizes smaller in a 44 rather than a 48. Other than that, I did french seams because PJs tend to get washed and worn a MILLION times and I think it gives the seams on a lightweight fabric a bit more change of longevity. I missed off the decorative elements of the pique around the leg openings and the button hole/tie at the front. A handy use of a funny shaped scrap and the fabric is very soft and well suited to PJs as well as a blouse. :D

Thursday, 14 August 2014

A little unselfish sewing

My mum rarely asks me to make things for her, but the other day she asked if she could have a bag like my fold-up pink stripey bag that I use all the time. It lives in my handbag in the matching pouch and I seem to end up unfolding and using it every time I go out. I made this one for my mum in a combination of plain brown and a little piece of a brown and orange print with a bird in it. The inside is just plain cream. It turned out pretty cute although the pouch is a bit of a tight fit for the bag folded up and I should have made it a bit wider. This kind of thing only takes an hour to make because there's no lining or interfacing or anything, but my mum was pretty pleased with it. I also have another even tinier unselfish project to finish up soon but it will have to wait to be posted for a bit.

In the meantime, I'm working on what I think is going to be my last really summery item of clothing. I'm hoping to get it done and photographed in the next couple of days, and then I will probably tell you all about my plans for my half-season-ahead sewing for this autumn :D

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Sewingversary, Year 3 (and a giveaway!)

Three years ago today, in 2011, a shiny new sewing machine was delivered to my house. I choose to celebrate my "sewingversary" rather than a blogging anniversary because for me the defining moment was that day where I broke my machine out of the box and went: right then, I guess I'm sewing now?!? D: (They're both daft anniversaries to celebrate, though, let's be honest!) Last year, I told the story of why I decided I wanted to start sewing so I won't recap again. Suffice to say, one of my better decisions, and I have very few regrets about how my interest in sewing has developed since!

I guess if you read this blog at all regularly you know that the 12 months pretty much since immediately after my last sewingversary in August 2013 have been a bit tough from a health perspective. I have to say that in grinding through the last year, having a hobby like sewing has been an absolute godsend. It has been something different I could read about and think about when I felt too crappy to get out of bed, and when I felt well enough to do something but not really well enough to leave the house, sewing kept me from going (too) stir-crazy. Although I still have bad days, I cautiously think things are improving a bit on the health front and I'm really keen to start putting some of my reading and thinking into practice. Alas, my theoretical knowledge out-runs my actual abilities by MILES at this point!

I have probably not made enormous strides in my actual sewing this year, by which I mean I have not really done a lot to increase the complexity of my skillset. I have picked up a handful of slightly more complicated skills, like one or two seam finishing techniques and one or two fitting tricks, but really the last year what I've done is a lot of things at approximately the same level of difficulty. And that's OK with me! It's not a race to see who can build their skills the fastest and this wasn't a year when I could take on a million challenges.

However, I do feel like some of the absolute basic skills that I've been working on now for three whole years have really started to come together. I'm beginning to be more competent at the base level of sewing skill, and feel more confidence in my competence. Even little things like figuring out exactly how to press my projects properly, and learning how to do some simple but pretty seam finishes that make the insides look neat, and finally more or less getting to grips with a method that works for me for installing an invisible zip make a BIG difference to my finished garments. Of course none of it is perfect. It's so FAR from perfect, you can't see perfect from here without the Hubble telescope. It's BETTER though, and I can definitely live with progress over perfection. I'm weirdly ambitious all the time and about everything, so I do want to get better and better at sewing. I'd kind of like to look back on this post one day and be like wow, you thought THAT was competence, ha, delusional! However, for now, I am pretty happy with this year.

So that's my helpful summary of Year 3: marginally more competent at the end of it, happier than ever that I took sewing up as a hobby.

And now, a giveaway to share my celebration! I've mentioned several times that I had a Patrones subscription this year. It's not rocked my world, but it's been a fun extra pattern mag to peruse and I do have quite a few patterns bookmarked for future use. I know there's quite a lot of curiosity about the European magazines but they're often prohibitively expensive to buy even a single copy to try out a pattern or two. Well, my subscriptions included some issues that were not of much interest to me but that I knew might be fun for someone else to have a go with, and so I have hoarded them for this very occasion. They're totally intact, all I've done is keep them on my shelf in my sewing room.

The Giveaway:
  • Drop me a comment that says which of the magazines (Plus, Kids, Separates) you'd like to win (you can put your name in for two at most) before midnight BST on Sunday 17th August. I'll pick and announce the winners on Monday 18th.
  • I'm not exerting any pressure on people to suddenly emerge from lurkerdom, however, sometimes a giveaway might entice someone who usually lurks from silence for a moment. I know it feels awkward to be like Hi! I've never spoken to you, please give me something for free! even when you'd REALLY like to put your name in for something. I am giving you explicit permission right now to do that exact thing if you wish, even if you've never breathed a word to me before.
  • I will post to you anywhere in the world.

First up, Patrones Extra 35, the Plus edition

Now, you might be wondering, as I am quite open about the fact that I straddle the straight/plus line in say, Burda, why I would not keep the Plus edition for myself. The short answer is: because Patrones' Plus patterns are more geared to the middle/upper part of the typical plus range and I tend to fall more towards the lower end of Plus and/or the top end of straight size most of the time. The Patrones Plus patterns are available in either sizes 48-52-56 or 50-54-58 (see below for how you use this if you fall into a middle size). A 48, for quick reference, is Bust=104cm (41") Hips= 110cm (43.5"), and a 58 is Bust=130cm (51.25") Hip=134cm (52.75"). Here's a size chart (with translations) for more info. The big difference between Patrones and Burda Plus sizing is in the waist measurements, they seem to assume woman are more hourglass/pear than Burda do. Honestly, I have no idea how good their Plus draft is, so I can't really tell you any more than that. (I would be delighted to hear back from you if you win & make a pattern up, just out of interest!)

There are 58 patterns in the magazine. Here's a scan of the teeny tiny overview pages: page 1, page 2. The nice thing about this magazine is while yes, there are a couple of your standard plus-size tent-like tunics and one of the dresses is a TOTAL circus marquee design, most of the patterns aren't like that at all. There are plenty of jackets, blouses, skirts and tops that are just like the straight-sized patterns in Patrones just in plus sizes. I rather like the coats and jackets in particular. On the other hand, you might sprain something rolling your eyes at their idea of "Plus" models because: no.

Next: Patrones Extra 36, the Kids edition

I don't sew for children at all, but if you have any kids in your life, you might find this fun. Here's a link to someone's scan of the sizing chart. There are 60 patterns in the magazine: 11 for babies (6 are size 3-9-18 months and 5 are for 6-12-24 months); 16 for boys (various size groups from 4-6-8 to 10-12-14) and the rest are all for girls (various size groups from 2-4-6 to 10-12-14). I would say the best served group is probably girls in the 4-8 age range, but I think that's pretty normal for kids clothes. I know jack about what's interesting in children's patterns so I probably can't pick out the best things, but I think it's a nice diverse mix. There's everything from little formal outfits and occasion dresses to play wear for tween boys or girls. I didn't have a chance to scan in the overview page and nobody else on the net seems to have done so either -- sorry about that.






Finally, two (mainly) straight sized issues: Patrones Extra 32 "Dos Piezas" (Separates) and Patrones 330 (the regular monthly magazine for August 2013 "Autumn Basics"). These I acquired two copies of by mistake so they are surplus to my requirements as well.




Dos Piezas is all straight sized 40-44-48 (see below for size explanation and here for a size chart). Here's the teeny tiny overview (page 1, page 2). As the name suggests, the Dos Piezas (Two Pieces) magazine is mainly tailoring: jackets and coats, trousers, skirts and blouses, although there's a sprinkling of dresses as well among the 58 patterns. There is a certain amount of crack-tastic stuff in here too. You too can have contrast tweed eyepatches over your boobs, worn with plus fours! Or, you know, not. D:

The regular edition is quite a nice issue. Here's the teeny tiny overview. There are 40 patterns in total, including 1 child's coat pattern, and 5 plus (50-54-58) patterns (they use non-Plus models -- in the teeny tiny overview, the plus patterns are in the top right corner in a group of four). The others are all 40-44-48. There's a section on blouses and skirts with some decent basics that I've had bookmarked since I got my original copy, some tailored jackets and trousers, and some dresses.

A few things to keep in mind for all the magazines:
  • They're in Spanish (obviously). I speak conversational Spanish, and that plus Google translate gets me to something I am fully able to recognize as a sewing instruction. The instructions are extremely terse, not dissimilar to Burda. I recently did a rough and ready translation of a simple blouse pattern and it's basically: "Stitch the darts. Stitch the shoulder seams. Stitch the side seams." and no illustrations at all.
  • Not every size is provided. The typical womenswear size range is say 40-48. But in reality this means that there are only three lines: 40, 44 and 48. If you take a size in the middle (say a 42), you need to draw in your size between the two closest to your size. On the plus side, the pattern pages are less crowded as a result. I don't find it overly painful, but if you hate tracing/blending/whatever from magazines, you might hate Patrones even more than you hate other magazines!
  • For tracing purposes, other than the size issue described above, I would describe the clarity as most similar to Ottobre, with the most significant similarity being that they both use coloured lines on slightly thicker white paper, rather than Burda's all black on newsprint approach.
And that's it, I think! Any questions, ask me in the comments. Otherwise, happy anniversary to me and yay for another year ahead full of fun sewing things! :D

Monday, 11 August 2014

A very quick post of a second Carme

I've had a rubbish day but at least I could wear the first garment I have completed since I moved back to the UK. It's another Pauline Alice Carme, because I enjoy wearing the first one so much.  I finished it yesterday and though I really didn't feel like it I also sewed the buttons on immediately rather than leaving them for ages like usual. I don't have a proper photography set up yet, so here is a crummy camera phone photo taken in my bedroom mirror.


Really love this fabric, even though it turned out to be entirely too see through to wear without a t-shirt underneath!  You can't really tell from this photo, but it's a lovely 100% cotton with a floral print and embroidery. It's a little outside of my usual taste, but I love it for summer with the linen trousers I am wearing (not hand made, sadly, from Next) I got it from a favourite UK fabric eBay vendor I haven't been able to buy from while I was living in Ireland -- it is 2m of the 4m I bought as soon as I got back as a present to myself for surviving the move. I'll make up the other 2m this week if I feel well enough.

I made a couple of extra changes to the pattern: 4cm on the sleeves (STILL not enough, apparently I have monkey arms), 2cm width to the cuffs and a little rounded back alteration. There's also still some sort of alteration needed that will give me some extra width right across my shoulder blades, though heaven knows what that needs to be. Other than that though, the second try with this pattern was very easy and successful. I just overlocked my seams again, though, and I think it would probably have benefited from some skinny french seams given how see through it is.

I definitely think I will make another Carme. I went to London a couple of weeks ago and wore my black one and my friend B suggested making a plain white version that would look sort of tuxedo shirt-ish. Since then I've been obsessed with the idea of making one in white silk crepe de chine. Only, er, maybe not right now, since that's a bit of a fabric challenge with those pin tucks for my current state of health/sanity.