Monday, 15 April 2013

Made: A-line skirt (Ottobre Woman 05-2007-03)

I am not dead, I've just been absent from blogging for a bit for a variety of reasons, beginning with a series of killer headaches that I just couldn't shake and certainly couldn't sew or knit through, and ending with a distinct lack of sewing inspiration.

On Friday evening, I decided to get my patterns in order for my next few projects and somehow, this turned into making a skirt. I actually finished it all in a late afternoon/evening session and I am very happy with the outcome, which is yet another point in favour of the TNT pattern.

Ottobre 05-2007-03 A-line skirt
The pattern for this skirt is one that I have made before, from Ottobre Woman 05-2007-03, a straightforward A-line skirt. There are all kinds of variations -- pockets, belt loops, trim, cutting it on the bias, etc -- but I made the absolute simplest version because I had such a busy print and not very much fabric. Last time I made a size 48 but it's always been a bit too big. This time I made a 46 and it's a better fit.

The fabric is a turquoise cotton with a silver-y blue feather pattern. I think it might be a quilting cotton, as it's simultaneously a bit thinner than I really like and has more body that I find convenient. It is way too stiff to use for a top (the original plan when I bought it), that is for sure, but it's a nice weight for a summer skirt provided it's lined and the extra body gives the A-line shape a bit of oomph. It was 1.10cm wide and I used all but a scrap of the 1.3m that I had.

Badly lit photo of the recycled skirt

The lining is made from the lining of an old Marks & Spencer skirt that I was going to throw away. I never liked the original skirt -- it was an unflattering length, practically see-through when worn, and all those applique flowers were decidedly not me. However, it seemed like something I could usefully recycle, in parts at least. I salvaged the invisible zip, used the main part of the lining for this skirt and cut into the body of the skirt to get the lining yoke.

Skirt recycled into a lining -- I used the underskirt plus some of the main skirt for the yoke at the top

"Invisible" zip -- perfectly visible, as you can see :(
Otherwise, I don't have a lot to say about this skirt. This is now officially my A-line TNT pattern -- I love a yoked skirt and this one fits me just how I like it to. The only changes I made on this attempt were that I did a rolled hem with my rolled hem foot because my lining was a smidgeon too long and because it has a ruffly bit at the hem I didn't want to mess with it. I'm pleased with how it came out in all respects except the zip. I did a better job on this one than my last version of this same skirt, and since I rarely wear anything with the waistband on show I'm not overly concerned, but I wish my invisible zips were more invisible!

Total cost of the skirt: About £5.25, which is mainly fabric (£4.50 for the outer) plus a zip and overheads. I'm counting the lining as free as it was salvaged from something that otherwise was going in the charity bin. I've had it years and years and to be honest I think I bought it as a factory second to start with.

Time to make: About half an hour to fix the pattern pieces and re-trace the yoke pieces in a new size, half an hour to cut out, and then three hours, give or take, to construct it.

You might be thinking to yourself "But isn't she meant to be making a jacket? In brown?" and yes, you would absolutely be right. However, I had a week of a combination of fear about how much time I had left to make The Wedding Outfit, terror at starting the jacket I have planned and a general lack of inspiration. I decided I needed to make something easy and familiar to get myself going again, and nothing left in the Earth & Spring collection was either of those things. So, I decided to jump ahead and do a little work on the next 6PAC, codenamed Wedding Belles. Here's the Wedding Belles 6PAC plan, which is as always subject to change:

It is mostly familiar patterns, as you can see! This is deliberate -- most of the Earth and Spring collection is a practice run for the "real thing" Wedding Outfit. It's not that I haven't got an imagination, honest! The only new pattern is in fact so new I haven't even got it yet -- it is in the latest Burda mag, which should hit my doormat tomorrow. I haven't seen a difficulty rating yet. If it's very hard it's subject to change, as always.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Made: Two tops for Earth and Spring 6PAC (Ottobre 02-2013-02 and New Look 6025)

This week so far I've made two tops that are part of my Earth and Spring 6PAC. They're both patterns that I've used before.

Ottobre 02-2013-02 "Summer Basic Top" in red and white fan print cotton jersey, front and back view

First, I made another Ottobre 02-2013-02, the "Summer Basics Top" that is currently my Very Favouritest Pattern Of All. This is my fourth version! It took me basically the entire time my Easter Monday dinner cooked to make it from pressing the fabric to snipping the last thread -- about 1hr 40min in total. I had a problem with my binding strip not being as stretchy as I expected so I had to recut it longer but other than that it was easy.

The red and white jersey I used was from eBay at a price of £4/m including p&p, plus the usual overheads, and as usual this top took pretty much exactly 1m. I'm going to say abou £4.50 for this top in total. The fabric is a little bit thinner than I would like but it's fine for warmer weather (should we ever have any, that is). I've nothing else to say about this really -- this is the joy of a TNT, I guess: you can just crank out yet another version without really having to think about it.

New Look 6025 in pink floral print, front and back view. The hem is straight in real life, honest.
This woven top is more or less view B of New Look 6025, except at the shorter length (like view C). This a very simple, almost-a-TNT pattern that I like a lot. I've used it once before, the same view/length and everything, right at the very beginning of my garment sewing adventures. When I made the first one I used a size 18 and did a (dodgy) FBA that somehow resulted in me cutting the armholes strangely. I actually still like that top as long as it's tucked in, weird armhole shape notwithstanding. If I wear it untucked the hemline looks terrible -- it rises in the centre front because of some combination of the dodgy FBA and futzing with the shoulders to raise the neckline, and also the fabric REALLY didn't like being folded twice and top-stitched at the hem. It made the hem weirdly inflexible and causes the top to stand away from my body. This time I overlocked, folded up once and topstitched the hem, which worked much better.

New Look 6025 side view and inside view of French seam and overlocked/folded hem
On this occasion I made a size 18 straight out the envelope. It fits OK -- it's comfortable and it doesn't pull over the bust -- but probably would have fit even more nicely with a bust dart, if I'm honest. I don't know why I persist in pretending anything without bust shaping is going to work for me. That said, I don't mind the fit on this one and I did manage to improve the neckline considerably compared to the first time I made it. Last time I ended up pulling the shoulders up because once I cut it I realized it was far too wide and low at the neckline. This time I cut the neckline 4cm narrower. I left the depth as designed at centre back but raised the centre front by 4cm as well. I think it might have been even better if I had made the neckline slightly narrower still because it still peek-a-boos my bra strap a tiny bit, but it's quite wearable.

This fabric has been in my stash almost as long as I've had a stash. I bought in May 2012 from eBay. It was only 110cm wide and I had just under 2m. The reason I was clinging to it was that, well, first, it is maybe a little more pink than I was totally prepared for, and second, the drape and texture of this fabric is divine. It's sort of soft and fuzzy, I love it, and I've had it long enough now that the pink has grown on me. It's some kind of cotton blend, nothing extraordinary I'm sure, but it really goes brilliantly well with the beige straight skirt from this collection, drapes beautifully and is generally a great piece of fabric to use in this 6PAC. I actually wasn't going to use it because I was doing that thing where I wanted to "save it" for something better, but since my motto at the moment is JUST SEW IT, I did.

Kimono sleeved tops are super wasteful on 110cm wide fabric, though. I can fit both sides of this pattern onto a 150cm wide fabric, but with 110cm I just end up with a big empty space left over that isn't really big enough for anything. The pattern envelope claims you need at least 2m of 110cm wide fabric. I started with only 1.8m ish but I had more than enough fabric. I ended up with a few scraps just about big enough for waistband facings or pocket linings. I'm going to write the whole cost of the fabric off to this top though, so that's about £5.90 inc. p&p plus overheads, so about £6.50 overall. Time-wise, it took me about an hour to trace the pattern and cut out the fabric and two hours to sew, hem and finish it off -- I did French seams which always takes some extra time and I really took my time over the neckline binding to get a nice finish. French seams are my favourite seam treatment in little tops like this. It makes the inside so neat.

So that's two more pieces of my Earth and Spring collection ticked off! I have made a decision on the final top to go into this collection -- I'll be using Burda 01-2013-130. I also decided against doing the second Ottobre tee that was in my plan for the time being -- I feel like I have enough for now. Here's the updated collection image:

I've traced out the pattern for the jacket (New Look 6911) now, but I keep staring with horror at the pieces. It's not that it's unduly complicated, it's that I'm really kind of terrified of the princess seam FBA. Luckily I have done ONE before, semi-successfully, so I'm not starting from zero. It's still unnerving though. I will probably end up doing the Burda blouse first just out of fear of the jacket. I do need to get on with it though, because I want to be able to make the same jacket pattern for The Wedding Outfit in a few weeks.

Monday, 1 April 2013

A plan for April

I had quite a few goals for March and they were only slightly thrown off track by losing a week to the Worst Cold Ever. My goals were:

1. Knitting. Get on with my knitting of the purple jumper. This has been quite successful. I've knitted about half the body and I've done the bits that are (relatively) complicated so it should be pretty plain sailing from here. However, I also did some unscheduled knitting and made my two kit scarves, so I am actually ahead of myself on the knitting goals for the year front.

2. Bags. Make the Wedding Clutch, which I just posted about yesterday.

3. Garments. Make some items of my Earth and Spring 6PAC. So far I've finished Skirt #1 and Skirt #2. I'd hoped to be a bit further on with it all now but this is where the week I lost with the cold was a problem for me. However, I did also make two unplanned tops with my new most favourite pattern in the world.

I call that a pretty successful month, overall!

As far as my Plan For April is concerned, it's really more of the same.

1. Knitting. Keep on going with the purple jumper. I'd like to think I might finish this month, but I'm not worried if it spills over to May.

2. Bags. No major bag projects this month. I'm having a bit of a lull in sales on my shop, which is mildly distressing, but on the plus side it's also meant not having to make anything to restock. Now that the wedding clutch is done, the only big bag project on the horizon is the waterproof Olivia and I'm planning to make that one of my summer projects.

3.  Garments. Finish the Earth and Spring 6PAC and, if I have the time, get started on the Wedding Outfit that goes with the Wedding Clutch.

I've actually made massive revisions to the Earth and Spring 6PAC ideas, so the collection now looks like this:

Earth and Spring collection overview
Obviously, the two skirts I've already made. The two tees are to my new most favourite pattern ever from Ottobre 02-2013 and will be quick to make. I've also made New Look 6025 before. I want to make quite a few changes to the pattern this time -- fix the neckline, add bust darts, etc. -- but it's also a really easy pattern, changes notwithstanding. The fabric description ("pink floral") is underwhelming but the fabric is great: it's a perfect colour match to go with the beige cotton skirt as well as having the most beautiful texture to it. I've left in a question mark for another top as well. I know what fabric I want to use but I haven't quite managed to settle on a pattern yet.

The big project is of course the unlined jacket. On reflection I decided to go for a very easy, fitted jacket and settled on New Look 6911. I'm kind of scared to start it, though, to be honest.  More on this over the next few weeks, I'm sure.

If I have time, I'm also going to get started on the Wedding Outfit, but I'll post more about that if I really get close to making it. I've got the whole of May to work on it if I need to.