Wednesday, 10 September 2014

In which I make some progress on all fronts

I'll start with the best, if not at all sewing-related, news: MY KITCHEN IS ALMOST FINISHED. Hopefully by this weekend, all that will stand between me and ACTUALLY MOVING IN is cleaning everything up and then the horrifying prospect of unpacking my kitchen-related belongings from their boxes. \o/ \o/ \o/ The knock on effect will be that I will finally be living in the same house as my sewing stuff, so I will get more done, and also actually I will be able to finish setting up my sewing room (currently partly occupied by things that are waiting to go elsewhere, but can't until the kitchen is finished). It will be SO GREAT when everything is done! \o/

Alas, I've made less progress on my autumn sewing this months so far than I would have liked. I had a major medication change and the last 10-14 days have been pretty miserable from a health perspective as a result. Any kind of close work, including both reading on my computer and sewing, was kind of unpleasant. And then just as I started to recover, my laptop died and I had to run around, buy a new one and set myself up again. Sewing time was in short supply as a result. I feel much better now though AND I have a shiny new laptop, so all is well in my world.

Ottobre 05-2012-07
I did get a few short sewing sessions in and as a result I am about a third of the way through constructing my first Ottobre 05-2012-07 blouse. I am making a version with no colour blocking and I've managed to put together the bodice with flat-felled seams and I'm working on the details of the sleeves at the moment. I am cautiously optimistic about the shirt so far, although all the fiddly details (collar, cuffs, button band, button holes, etc) are all still ahead of me so there's plenty of time for me to change my mind about that! D:

My last project was a total fail, in part because I was using such unpleasant and badly behaved fabric. It's made me appreciate the very nice and easy-to-sew 100% cotton I picked out for this shirt SO MUCH MORE, let me tell you.  The next few things I'm planning on making are all in lovely high quality cottons too. More than ever I am determined that as I work towards having a smaller and higher quality fabric stash that I buy fabrics that I really love, and increasingly I think making sure there's plenty of natural fibres in the mix is going to be key.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


Despite yesterday's sewing-related glumpishness, I carried on with my current project off and on all day, right up until about 4pm I looked at it and went: you know what? Nope! and slung it in the bin.

This project was a last minute addition to my fall plans. It started with perusing a catalogue that came to my mum's house and me spying this Esprit shirt:

I did actually consider buying it, because this isn't actually an expensive shirt, but there were a couple of things I don't like about it. In particular, I have no time for the pleats at the bottom of the placket which I'm afraid would lead inevitably to being asked if I'm pregnant. Also, it seemed like a style I could make more than once if it turned out well. I was very taken by the idea of it in a bright checked fabric, as I have had a similar bookmarked for lo these many weeks on one of my favourite fabric shopping sites but had no excuse to buy it pattern in mind.

First though, I needed a pattern. It's a little bit like the Carme, insofar as it's a pullover blouse with button placket and tabbed sleeves, but the neckline is quite different and that isn't something I have the skills to change on the Carme myself, so I didn't think I could do a straightfoward mod of that pattern.

Patrones 339-2
Having checked my stash and my magazine collection, I decided I didn't have a pattern, as unlikely as that sounds given the size of my Burda mag stash. The closest, but also HIDEOUSLY EXPENSIVE option is a Vogue pattern,
Vogue 1323. Hideously expensive doesn't always stop me, but hideously expensive AND only one useful view because I think the trouser pattern that comes it is vile and would never make it: no. I found a few other alternatives, but the most practical alternative was Butterick 5826, which was MUCH cheaper. I don't like a few things about that top (the D ring sleeve tabs, the sleeves full stop), but I was poised to buy it nevertheless. Then a new issue of Patrones arrived and magically a similar top was in it. This picture is actually NOT the top I made (Patrones 338-19) but from the NEXT issue, as Patrones is nothing if not tediously repetitive. The one I made was very similar except it had bust darts, a tiny bit of gathering at the shoulder and a back yoke, very similar to the Vogue pattern, but the important bit is that the collar/placket etc was like this photo. When I made it I just copied across the shirt-tail hem from the Carme blouse to make it a little more like what I wanted.

However, since I haven't made any tops from Patrones before I decided not to buy the fabric I was thinking about but make it up in some tiny blue and white gingham stuff from my stash.
Not my best idea. It turned out that I HATE this fabric. I've always been dubious about it since I bought it (on eBay second-hand in a huge 6m piece, but for very little money) because it's either 100% polyester or close to it. It has a slight crinkle to it that has an interesting effect in the gingham of making it look slightly stripy from different angles, and I thought, when I tried it, that for polyester it pressed reasonably well. What I didn't realize though until actually sewing was that every time I pressed it, the crinkles flattened out erratically, changing the shape of the fabric pieces after I'd cut them out. I had to cut the collar band out three times and even then it was not quite right. Also, when I went to try it on, it took mere minutes in front on the mirror for the plastic-y polyester texture to grate on my nerves. I hate wearing all poly fabric, it's like wearing a black plastic rubbish bag.

Even if I hadn't hated the fabric... I hated the fit I got from the pattern. The shoulders are WAY off on me, even though I ostensibly cut to size, and at the same time the collar was uncomfortable. I did an OK but not brilliant job with the placket (the Carme instructions give you a MUCH nicer finish) but the several layers of fabric in the placket were too heavy for the fabric and the neckline sagged unattractively -- and I didn't even interface it!

So, lots of rarrrrgh noises later, I tossed the half-made shirt, tossed the remaining fabric (a LOT of remaining fabric, I feel quite guilty) in the pile to go to the fabric recycling box, and abandoned the whole idea for a couple of hours.

Butterick 5826

Since then, I decided that the best plan was to buy the Butterick pattern. I think my actual plan is just to frankenpattern the neckline of view A (or possibly B) onto the basic Carme bodice, because I know that (mostly) fits at the shoulder and I like the sleeve better.

Meanwhile, other news in brief:
- STILL NO KITCHEN. The (second) installation guy is due in the morning tomorrow, now, having been "delayed". I will believe it when I see it at this point.
- I am still thinking about whether I want to make something to wear to this family event. I got as far as laying out pattern pieces on fabric for a new skirt today but then was distracted by the fact that I didn't have a matching zip for it, and ground to a halt again. :| I don't have much time left so I REALLY need to make up my mind.

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.)
  • 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 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 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