Friday, 30 May 2014

Summer Sewing Week: Skirts

Next up for my week of sewing: a couple of Burda skirts.

Skirts for summer: Burda 03-2010-123 (beige) and Burda 02-2014-109 (purple)
One of my favourite staples of my wardrobe every summer is beige or neutral coloured shorts and skirts. Last year I made a skirt from Ottobre 02-2010, which I loved and wore a lot even though it had various problems/flaws. However, I wanted a new one as that no longer fits. I was going to make another straight skirt, but then I saw this photo from an old issue of Burda and was really taken with the skirt the model is wearing. Unfortunately, this is one of those Burda images where the pattern is for the other part of the outfit, in this case the blouse.
Burda image of the skirt I wanted & technical image Burda 03-2010-123
However, it's hardly a revolutionary skirt concept, and in fact an extremely similar, although not identical, pattern was available in Burda 03-2010, #123. First though I couldn't seem to get the back issue for love or money. Then I got it, just recently, only to discover that the eBay seller didn't send the exact pattern sheet I most wanted. ARGH. I am still REALLY ANNOYED about that, let me tell you. In the end, I bought the specific pattern online, which is still annoying but at least I got to make it. I am still deciding whether I need to buy YET ANOTHER back issue of 3/2010 for completeness, ugh.

Front, back and inside view of Burda 03-2010-123. I swear the front looks better normally :(
Here's my review on PR of the pattern, which was easy and straightforward except that it involved doing my first ever fly front. I originally started with 2m of this beige cotton drill which I got very cheap on eBay 2 years ago and after I made last year's skirt I had just a smidgeon over 1m left -- like, 1.06m at the selvedge and a bit more in the centre of the piece. The Burda pattern says you need 1.25m, and if you cut it out on the fold you definitely do. I was able to JUST squeeze the skirt out of my weirdly-shaped-and-a-bit-more-than-a-metre piece by using the full length where I had the extra and cutting it out as a single layer, even though I also intended to lengthen it. Subsequently, however, having carefully cut the fabric leaving room for a longer hem, while doing my final neatening cut with my rotary, I cheerfully (and stupidly) cut the hem off at the original, too-short for me hemline by mistake. /o\ As it happens, I don't hate the length at all, although I had to finish the hem with ribbon in order to keep as much length as humanly possible, and it's an inch or so shorter than I would normally wear a skirt, even in summer. Still, I won't die from exposing an extra inch of leg.

Fabric costs were around £3.25, plus a £1 zip, plus ribbon for the hem, which I have no recollection of the price, plus overheads, so probably around £5-6? Ish? Not very much, anyway, for a skirt I'll probably wear loads. I really like this pattern too, so even though I went all round the houses trying to get it, it's probably been worth it.

This was my first attempt at a fly front and it's... not great? But it's also not TERRIBLE, so I don't know really how I feel about it overall. Honestly, I could not make ANY SENSE AT ALL of the Burda directions, not helped by the fact that unfortunately, despite all of my extensive education, I struggle to remember which is my left and which is my right. The Burda instructions were all like "line up the reverse right side of the zip with the left side of the right facing" and my eyes were rolling back in my head. The only way that kind of sentence could be worse for me is if someone yelled it at me (hence: any exercise class, like aerobics, where people shout directions at you, is my idea of hell). Luckily, I found a couple of good illustrated descriptions in my sewing reference books and figured it out, but yeesh.

My second summer skirt I've talked about before in one of my posts about planned makes: Burda 02-2014-109. Also a fly front

Burda 02-2014-109
Some time between mentioning it and actually making it, I saw that Nakisha had already made up this pattern, and hers seemed to turn out really well, which encouraged me to continue with my plan. Mine turned out... less well. Here's my actual review, though to be honest mostly I didn't go into the ins and outs of my travails (fully documented below)

Burda 02-2014-109, front, inside and the funky pocket lining I used
My purple fabric is a streeeeetchy purple cotton sateen twill from Croft Mill. I bought 1m for £7.60 including postage to Ireland and just BARELY squeezed out a size 42. I wanted the back pockets and stuff from another variation on this pattern in the 02-2014 magazine, but I had basically nothing left of the fabric after I cut out the skirt except for a few strips.

At first all the sewing went well, although I wasn't entirely convinced by the yoke as I couldn't for love or money get it to line up right at the centre seam. After three attempts, I gave up and decided I could live with it. Then I gave up for the day, got up the next morning and did the fly front. I sort of thought it would be easier to do my second fly, but no, it was not at all easier. In fact, it's a complete mess! It doesn't look TOO horrendous but it took like fifteen attempts and doesn't hold up to close scrutiny at all.

And then I went to put on the waistband, and discovered that my stretchy fabric had either stretched out horribly or the waistband had always been the wrong size, and it was now never going to work. The waistband was actually the right size for my body, and moreover, see above: I had nothing left but scraps. So recutting it was out. I tried easing in the back but there was just too much fabric and I ended up with a huge bubble of excess fabric above my butt. I tried darts and they looked terrible. In the end, I took a MASSIVE wedge out of the centre back seam and lived with even more of a mess from a matching perspecting at the centre yoke seam. Ugh. Then I realized that on my last attempt I had sewn the waistband on wrong and had to hurriedly improvise with some bias binding to conceal the raw edges. Double ugh!

In the end, the whole waist and hip ended up kind of a mess and does not have the best of fit either. I will get definitely some wear out of it with tops that are untucked, but it's not my favourite outcome. I'm not sure if it was the stretchy fabric or the fit of the pattern that was the problem. I also have the Grainline Moss Mini which is a similar pattern and which I might try another time when I want a skirt that is this shape. I think though I might also take a break from fly fronts for a while, because they're really a struggle.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Summer Sewing Week: T-shirts

Somehow (I am really not sure how) I survived marking thousands of pages of exams and essays and got all my grades submitted fully 18 hours ahead of schedule on Sunday. Go team me. \o/ That meant that Monday morning was the Morning of Freedom, which I celebrated by washing up all the millions of things that had stacked up in my kitchen while I focussed on marking -- let us never speak again of the bizarre combination of dishes I had to use to actually make breakfast on Monday -- starting my laundry and then sitting down and SEWING.

I started with t-shirts. I used one new-to-me pattern and two I used for the second time each.

From left to right: a turquoise Kirsten Kimono Tee; a Trifecta Tee and Ottobre 02-2013-13, bizarrely called the "Lemon Juice Tee" in the magazine.

Turquoise Kirsten Kimono Tee with cuffs

I've reviewed the Kirsten Kimono Tee before. In fact, it's the first pattern for knits I ever used. The only changes I made for this version was to redraw the neckline, as I did not really like the original, and I made wide binding strips for the sleeves as otherwise it's a very high cap sleeve on me. Despite the fact I am notionally a couple of sizes smaller than when I made my first one, I even made this tee in the same size as last time (XL). I still wear the old purple version as PJs and I like the fit of the XL at my current size, even though obviously it has more ease than the pattern creator intended.

Really, such an utterly basic tee is hardly worth making. However, I made this one simply because as it turned out, a previous little turquoise tee using this fabric is one of my most worn EVER makes. I used the same fabric to make my first muslin of my all-time favourite Ottobre 02-2013-02 Summer Basics tee pattern last summer and I wore it to DEATH even though the sewing was rubbish, and when it got too big for me when I lost weight I moved it into my PJ drawer and am STILL wearing it to death. The fabric is nice and soft, it washes really well, and I just love the colour, so I'll probably end up wearing this new turquoise tee a million squillion times. It has less than £2 of fabric in it (bought 2 years ago on eBay from the lady liquidating her late mother's stash) and under an hour of work. I still have something like 1.5m of this fabric left, too. :D

Kitschy Koo Trifecta Tee as ~inspired by J Crew
Next up, another really simple tee. A few weeks ago, I made a Trifecta Tee muslin in lilac spotty cotton jersey which turned out so well, albeit a bit tight in the sleeves (curse my fat arms), that I have worn it every time it's come out the wash ever since. Here's my (new) review of the pattern on PR, now that I've adjusted it to fit better.

J Crew "Inspiration" for Trifecta Top
This version, however, is ~~~inspired by a RTW piece I saw on the internet. My inspiration piece is made of wool and silk jersey and was sold by J. Crew, all of which means it is hilariously out of my budget -- something over US$120 originally I think -- even if I were inclined to buy unwashable silk tops with giant flowers on them, which I am most certainly not.

My version is made with two cotton/lycra fabrics from Tia Knight (formerly Tissu), probably my favourite online knit fabric shop in the UK. Both of these were from the upper end of the price range, plus I had them posted to Ireland which was stupidly expensive. The price came in at somewhere around £17 total for the package of 1m of each fabric delivered. However, I still have about half of each in my scrap bag and will use them for something else one of these days.

I really like how this turned out, although the pattern placement of the (allegedly) Japanese garden design did not quite work out how I had hoped and interacts rather unfortunately with my bust. However, now that I've got the sleeve to fit the way I like I am really happy to add this pattern to my pile of "make as many times as you like" knit top patterns -- personally, I seem to get good fit from the Kitschy Koo pattern draft, so I hope she makes more. (I have seen several people say the opposite: that the draft could not possibly be worse for them, so, you know, YMMV.)

Ottobre 02-2013-13 "Lemon Juice" Tee (draped tee)

Ottobre 02-2013-13 "Lemon Juice" tech drawing
And finally, an Ottobre tee, specifically 02-2013-13, the "Lemon Juice" tee, because I love all things Ottobre and knit. My PR review is here. Hardly anyone seems to have made and reviewed this particular Ottobre tee -- there's just one review on the whole internet, seemingly! -- which I think is a shame because I love what I ended up with. I can understand why it's not been popular, though, because it's sort of peculiar. For a start, it's cut on the bias and on a crosswise fold, so that's immediately bizarre. The fact that it's on the bias though IMMEDIATELY made me want to make it in a stripe since I've been obsessed with having a diagonal stripe knit top for ages -- I even tried it once, but it all went horribly wrong.

I have been planning this t-shirt for about a year, and I am delighted with how it turned out even if it's honestly kind of a weird shirt and I can't imagine really ever wanting to make another one (or at least, not while this one is in my wardrobe). Worth mentioning: it's a real fabric hog. I needed a 2m piece to get it cut out, it takes up more than half the width of the fabric (and would even at a smaller size) and because I am an idiot and had to recut my sleeves, I don't even have as much length left over as I hoped, probably only enough for part of a t-shirt rather than a whole t-shirt. The fabric was expensive too, £16 for two metres including shipping to Ireland from Croft Mill. It's nice enough, but it's not amazing -- I wouldn't have spent £8/m if I had seen it in the flesh before I bought it. Honestly, though, I kind of love this top, even if it's weird and stripy and worked out expensive.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Something like sewing activity

So, that lengthy break in blogging happened. Oops. I felt really horrible for most of it due to this on-going illness thing and now I am a bit better I am DROWNING in all the marking I should have been doing for the last fortnight. I have six days until my grades are due and I have 184 papers left to mark. No, that's not a typo. No, I am not exaggerating for effect. 184 papers. DDDDD: It's the absolute worst. I don't like marking at the best of times, but 9 hours a day of it to get through this backlog is the absolute pits.

However, I will survive! And prevail! And I probably won't eat ALL the chocolate in Ireland to get me through it (just most of it).

More pertinently for this blog, one of the ways I am making sure I live through it is by spending all my little breaks in the day doing small productive tasks that will (hopefully) set me up so I can spend most of NEXT week, after my grading deadline has passed, sew, sew, sewing my little heart out. I am taking a few days off and I fully intend to spend as much of that time sewing as my health permits.

I am not, however, even going to pretend I am likely to do anything complicated. I want some summer skirts -- today I cut the first of three out in a pleasingly grape-like shade of purple stretch twill, shortly to be followed by one in boring beige cotton and another in burgundy stretch twill. I also want to make a handful of tee-shirts, including a stripy one, and maybe a pair of shorts, and a cardigan. I sound like I am gearing up for summer except actually Ireland is actually still not remotely summery. It was like 13C (55F) today, so definitely not shorts weather! (Not that I am highly optimistic about getting to the shorts part of my sewing programme. I might very well spend more of the week in a post-marking puddle than I am presently anticipating.)

Friday, 2 May 2014

More bits and pieces

1. Originally, before I was felled by illness, I was going to do Me Made May for sure this year, photos and all. However, it's not going to happen this year. To be honest, though, pretty much every month is Me Made Whenever Possible. True, I don't have a 100% Me Made wardrobe, and I doubt I ever will, but even if it's just my PJs or a bag I'm carrying I use or wear something Me Made almost every day. So, I am kind of doing Me Made May this year in spirit but not really with any effort behind it.

2. I'm kind of obsessed with the idea of making a knit maxi skirt. I mentioned this in a previous post. I probably have a pattern somewhere in all my millions of Burdas that I could adapt, but a quick search on the internet turned up a dozen easy tutorials as well, although they seem to be of varying quality as usual. Has anyone made a knit maxi from a free tutorial that they can recommend? Or a very cheap pattern? I don't want to pay £10+ for a Big4 but on the other hand the urge to do something really easy is quite strong.

3. I am also obsessed with making a Deer & Doe Chardon in denim chambray for summer. D&D patterns are stupidly expensive for what you get and I wasn't wholly impressed with the dress I made from the one other pattern I have, but I looked at the Chardon and looked at it and looked at it for MONTHS and when I decided to buy myself a mini-gift at the end of April for surviving all my teaching hours, I decided I had wanted it for long enough that I should buy it as an indulgence. There have been quite a few chambray versions made and posted and I just fell in love with the idea. I have some chambray and it's perfect for the skirt -- although it's going to crease like hell, I can tell already -- except it's just a TINY bit too lightweight. So I was going to line it with blue polka dot cotton, but I am struggling, in my currently fuzzy mental state, to visualize how to line a pleated skirt (it doesn't come with a lining pattern). I have a great little e-book about adding linings but I read the instructions on adding a lining to a pleated skirt and then everything I'd just read all leaked immediately out my ears again, so I suppose I'll have to read it again when I feel less fuzzy.

4. That skirt is probably too complicated to work on right now, so I've been trying to think of really genuinely easy projects I could make and spend 15-30 minutes on every day for May. So far, if my replacement sock knitting needles ever turn up (I put my bamboo needles in my bag on a recent flight and they snapped :( and then nobody had any metal 2.25mm locally so I had to order them from the internet and they are taking FOREVER to arrive :( ) I have my sock knitting on the list. Also: some PJ shorts and the knit maxi skirt already mentioned, and also maybe a little tote bag. I've been sort of thinking of buying one of the Alabama Chanin books and doing some handwork on a project like that as well. Anybody made anything from those books?

5.  Also not arrived: my May Burda magazine. I swear the delivery to Ireland gets slower every month. It's actually May! The previews for June are already up! WHERE IS MY MAGAZINE. I WANT IT NOW. Actually, I have no idea why I'm being so vehement because there is nothing in there that I had to make NOW NOW NOW and I'm too sick even if there is. Mainly it just annoys me when it takes like 2 weeks for stuff to arrive. The June issue, meanwhile, looks pretty good for a change, too. I can't decide whether to be cautiously optimistic that Burda might not be having the usual outbreak of insanity that it suffers in summer or whether this means July will be twice as goofy and ridiculous to make up for June being halfway decent.