Sunday, January 31, 2010

BWOF 7-2009-113


Fortunately, in spite of my reservations, these shorts didn't end up looking too much like something Steve Irwin would wear whilst pushing an airline drinks trolley. Bit of a relief, really, as the zookeeper said to the air hostess.


The pattern is BWOF 7-2009-113. I cut a 36, and in retrospect could have probably got away with cutting a 34 and adding a bit at the hips. In an attempt to avoid a repeat of the Great Wedgie Disaster of 2009, I redrew the crotch line deeper and added length at the top and bottom end of the crotch curve. I sloped the CB seam at quite an acute angle, shaving off about an inch of pattern to accommodate my sway back. In fabric, with the help of Maryanna-from-across-the-road, I also sewed the back darts considerably deeper. It's most excellent indeed having an expert seamstress friend living so handy - pin fitting those darts myself was a fiddly business, what with having no eyes in the back of my head n' all, so it was great to have help.



All in all, I'm really pleased with the outcome. For the first time ever, really, I have pants (well, shorts) that aren't pulled in like a paper bag at the waist with a belt. I'm really enjoying learning more about fitting - the only problem being that the more I tweak my patterns, the more picky I am about RTW clothes. I've always worn pants with phone-book sized gaps at the back and tops with bust fullness 3 cm or so lower than my requirements, and not thought all that much of it, but now I guess I'm getting fussier.
In a different style, I think I need to take some fullness out across the back, somewhere - these back crotch of these shorts has stretched a bit in fabric, and while it's completely fine (and really comfy) for casual shorts, if these were funkier jeans type pants I think I'd want a bit less ease. In the photo of the back it looks like there's still some wedgie going on, but there really isn't - this was just the best photo of a bad bunch.
There's also a bit of excess fullness in the front, just below the topstitching for the fly - I'm still not entirely sure what this is from, but I'm tossing up between needing to shorten the front crotch or take in the front inseam a bit. Any ideas welcome :-)

This project was also my first foray into using proper topstitching thread and needle - and my machine wasn't at all happy about the experience. There was something whacky going on with the tension and no amount of fiddling could get the machine to purr happily along. I love topstitching, but I think I'm just going to stick with regular thread. Not only was it a teeth-clenchingly stressful experience waiting for the machine to get irrepperably snarled, but changing needles and thread every time I needed to top stitch took up precious "getting it finished" time.

And the stingeometer: cotton drill, $4 (Nick's); Zipper from stash, but probably 25 cents at Geoff's at some point; interfacing from stash; button from Karen Walker sale, just a few cents. Can't complain too much about 4 buck shorts, I reckon.

Anyway, I'll definitely make another pair, at some point - I've just got a few more projects to tick off the list first. None of which, I hope, are inspired by croc-wrestling Australians.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mojo rehab: part 2


One of the very loose sewing goals I set for myself this year was to sort myself out with some well-fitting, easily-assembled TNT patterns so that I can get a quick, stress-free sewing fix anytime. I've only got a couple of patterns so far in my stash that I've made more than once: a basic a-line skirt, and this one: Simplicity 3835. I've made it four times as a top and once as a dress, and have been pleased with the outcome each time (except for the wadder where I cut the fabric slightly off grain and tried to fiddle around with the sleeve shape. That one didn't last long before being biffed.)
Anyway, I wanted to make something quick and easy, and since the weather has been so hot lately, a loose fitting t-shirt seemed like the answer. This style is only recently one that I've become comfortable wearing - I've previously been more of a stretchy-tight-singlet kinda girl; but I'm becoming quite a convert to the idea of wearing looser clothing in hot weather. The fabric is a beautifully lightweight cotton voile that I bought (full price! Gasp!) at The Fabric Warehouse in Auckland.
Sewing-wise, there's not much to report - straight seams and a bit of overlocking, really. I'd had a bit of trouble previously getting an even amount pressed down around the neck for the elastic channel: this time, I staystitched the edge at 1cm, and used this as a guide to fold down the edge. I'm also very much infatuated with my seam gauge (a relatively recent acquisition, and well worth the grand sum $5 or so that it cost me) for getting hems even.
I did a small swayback adjustment, and added a bit to the sleeve width to give me a bit more room to move my arms (what's that adjustment called?) but other than that, it was straight out of the envelope.

Next up: a pair of shorts from a BWOF whose number I can't currently remember. I'm stalled a little on this one, since the pattern/fabric combo that seemed so good in my head is coming out like some crazy hybrid of workshorts and an Air New Zealand uniform. You never know, though, do you? And anyway, "zookeeper/air hostess chic" could be the next big thing.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mojo rehab: part 1.



I've come to the realisation that right now, with two preschoolers at home, and sewing time limited to the evenings that I can be bothered getting off the couch, I need to focus on simple projects. I have a huge line up of coats and jackets I'd love to try my hand at, but the reality of the situation is that right now I have neither the time nor the energy to devote to them, and chipping away at something for weeks on end is not the type of sewing fix I'm in need of right now. I do need some sort of fix, though; and this is something that I'm really coming to realise after such a long sewing drought - I'm a far happier person when I make the time to sew. Soooo much happier - I don't go to bed resentful about the fact that I haven't done anything for myself (other than eat chocolate biscuits...ahem...) and so I'm an all-round more pleasant person for my family to be around.
So...with this in mind, I traced out BWOF 09-2009-131. I used a buttery-soft stretch denim that has been maturing nicely in my stash for...erm....maybe about 12 years? I remember buying it for a Vogue pencil skirt pattern, on a huge city-wide fabric buying mission with my sewing friend Ange many years ago. I'm pretty sure the same fabric buying mission also saw us buying a whole lot of shiny black faux leathery stuff to make ridiculously tight pants for a party we were going to that night. Fuelled by far too much coffee (me) and far too many cigarettes (her) we sewed up 3 pairs: hers, mine, and another friend's, before heading out for a great night. It frightens me enormously to imagine what those pants would look like on me now.....

Anyway, enough of the trip down memory lane. The skirt sewed up easily, and would have been even easier (and looked more like the original) if I'd paid attention to the instructions and not presumed that I knew what I was doing. After I'd attached what I thought was a waistband facing, I looked at the diagram and realised that my facing was in fact supposed to be a contour waistband with belt loops. Oops. Anyway, it transpires that it fits as a facing too, so that wasn't a big drama. I also put the zipper in the centre back purely out of habit, but according to Burda, it's supposed to go in the side seam. Meh...

I cut a 36, and ended up taking in the sides at the waist by about an inch each side, tapering to nothing at the hip. The fit's ok, but I need to tweak something to stop my butt stealing fabric from the front and making the side seams pull to the back. It's not really noticeable unless you're a sewing geek, so it's really just an observation for next time.
I edged the pockets with bias strips of a green japanesey print cotton I had in stash; and used the same fabric to face the waistband and line the pocket flaps. Since I accidentally ommitted the waistband, I played around with top stitching at the waist and hem to give the skirt a bit more visual interest.

All in all, a pretty good pattern; slightly strangely drafted in that the front skirt piece is wider than the front, meaning that the side seams are ever so slightly pushed towards the back of the body. I'm still undecided about buttons - you can see the chalk lines on the pockets where I pondered doing buttonholes, but I quite like the flaps unadorned.

Anyway, sewing-mojo-rehab part one completed. I've got a few more quick and easy projects in the works, so hopefully I'll be back in blogland on a more regular basis. Onwards and upwards!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rediscovering the mojo.


More than two months. Man, really? Has it been that long?
Unfortunately my sewing time has been cut rather short (read: to nil) by a combination of DIY (husband building shed = me having to watch the kids so they don't play with the power tools = no sewing time); house-hunting (open homes all weekend + stressing about putting in offers = no sewing time, nor sewing mojo); and one half-finished Burda jacket sitting on the dressform awaiting a collar and a lining (= complete and utter sewing intertia.) I don't want to do the jacket, cos it's wool and we're now well and truly heading towards summer, and I don't want to start anything else, cos the jacket is sitting there staring at me saying "finish me...finish me....get me off the dressform and into the wardrobe before a small child spreads yoghurt or weetbix or kiwifruit over my woolly self."

Sigh. I really should suck it up and just sew a little A-line skirt or something, to break the drought, but I've got myself well and truly into a rut.

Anyhoo...enough complaints. I do have something to show; this is a top I made a couple of months ago using New Look 6648 and some very lightweight, floaty rayon (I think) knit from stash. The colour is a bit dark for this time of year, but in the interests of using up stash, it's fine, and the hand of the fabric is right for the style of top. I'm mostly happy with it; the kimono sleeves are really comfortable and breezy; and I'd probably make it again in a more summery fabric, as it sews up really quickly. My only complaint is that the gathering of the band is a bit of a pain; next time I might just gather it onto clear elastic rather than faffing around with gathering threads. I've broken the blogging drought, I'm all set to break the sewing one. What do you do when you hit the wall? I'm open to any and all suggestions :-)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Milo for pudding


The other day, I counted all my knitting UFOs. Well, I started to, and then I was so mortified I stopped, shoved them all in back in their various bags and boxes and went off to partake of that age-old art of procrastination, the Cup of Tea.
Me and casting on new projects: great buddies. Me and finishing things off, sewing in ends, or doing-the-boring-bits: not so much. So, when I came across this groovy little pattern on Ravelry, I had to (of course) abandon whatever was on my needles and cast on.
The pattern is "Milo", available from Ravelry as a downloadable .pdf (how good is that for an instant-gratification-monster like myself? Not even any waiting for the post...just exercise the credit card and wham! new stuff. Cool indeed.) If you haven't already, check out the pattern designer's blog at for more knitty goodness. (the link is in my sidebar, too.)
The pattern is clear, comprehensive, and beautifully presented, and I really enjoyed knitting this vest - it's the perfect combination of meditative stocking stitch, with the added piquancy of a funky little cable, and the bonus at the end of not having to sew anything other than a few ends.
I knit the 2 y.o. size, and it fits - just - my exceptionally rotund 2-and-a-bit year old. Entirely my own fault, though - the pattern instructions are very clear about using chest measurements rather than age to determine the right size... I'm just a lazy knitter. Ahem. Gauge? Measurements? yeah...nah. I'm more of a "cast on and hope for the best and if it doesn't fit then ah's a good thing knitting's stretchy, aye?" kinda knitter. That, and my two year old is a wee bit of a pudding. Hence the post title ;-) (I mean that in the nicest possible way. As far as puddings go, he's pretty darn cute ;-) )

The yarn is Twilley's Freedom Spirit, bought a year or so ago in an earthquake sale (there are still a few bits of wall and dust in the bag with the wool), and I used two and a bit balls.

Sewing-wise, I'm itching to finish the jacket that I started with Maryanna at the PP tailoring course we both attended. Progress has been slightly thwarted on that, however, by the aforementioned, delightful child traipsing through the house, across the carpet, and across part of my cut out and stitched jacket lining, pouring enthusiastically from a can of olive oil from the kitchen. Right. Through. The. House. Yeah. Not impressed. Luckily, the most excellent people at Smart Dress Fabrics in Mt Albert still had more lining on the bolt, so a complete disaster on the fabric front was averted. The carpet, I fear, is a different story.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Simplicity 3692


I recently discovered a new (to me, at any rate) fabric shop, only about 10 minutes drive from where I live. They mostly specialise in hand-painted silks and velvets, which are of course wildly inappropriate for standard mum-wear. Anyway, I decided to pay them a visit one day since they had a 50% off pattern sale, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that as well as the silks (which are beautiful, if perhaps a little bright for my personal taste) they are also starting to stock a variety of other natural fibre and organic fabrics. The colour range isn't huge at this stage, but I ended up buying some beautiful avocado-green bamboo knit. The fabric has a lovely drape, feels amazingly soft against the skin, has a four-way stretch so has really good recovery, and is just generally pretty darn cool. The sustainability factor of bamboo fits well with my inner Green Party voter, too ;-)
It sat on my shelf for ages waiting for the right pattern, one that wasn't fitted but would show of the drape of the fabric. I ended up deciding on Simplicity 3692, and I'm really pleased I did. The gathers and the sleeve shape really show off the fabric, and it's immensely comfortable to wear.
I toyed with the idea of elasticating the bottom edge, like in the sleeveless version, but in the end, laziness and the desire to be finished won, so I just hemmed it instead. I like it tucked in, and left out, and also worn with a belt (which I didn't get a picture of.)

All in all, a success, I long as I don't wear it with a brown belt or brown boots...cos then I end up looking like a wood elf, according to my Lord of the Rings-obsessed four year old.