Saturday, June 30, 2012

Project 8 & 9 of 50: Monkey Pyjamas

My daughter and my husband have a running joke about monkeys. Hence the monkey flannel for these pyjamas.

I looked hard through my collection for a really simple shirt that I could use for a pyjama top. Ottobre didn't have one in all the issues I own. I didn't have one in any of the envelope patterns I own, so I turned to Burda. I found one potential winner, but it was probably going to be too small. I was ALMOST going to buy a pattern just so I could make up this monkey flannel and get it out of the stash, but I held strong and stayed true to my original goal (not to buy any fabric or patterns until I've sewn 50 projects). I came close, I had all the justifications happening in my head, but, thankfully, didn't follow through on that impulse.

So, here's the next two projects (and I'm totally counting these as two projects):

PJ Top

Pattern: Burda Style Magazine 12-2010-135
Size: 128, with added 1.5cm width at hip, blending up to armscye
Fabric: Monkey Flannel

The pattern worked well for a simple PJ top. The instructions weren't even too bad, for Burda. They are too short in the body, but that's my fault. I normally sew a 134 in length for DD, but forgot to make that adjustment on these PJs. It's OK, though, she always wears a t-shirt under these kind of tops when she goes to bed anyway.

I made some piping from the chocolate Stella knit that I used for the yoga band on the pants, just to tie in the two pieces more effectively. I hadn't made piping with a knit before, so I was pleasantly surprised how well it worked.

PJ Bottoms

Pattern: Ottobre 06-2011-40 (TNT pattern for 2012)
Size: 134
Fabric: Monkey Flannel

I didn't have quite enough fabric to cut these according to the pattern, so I folded out 2" at the top of the front and back pieces. I then sewed a yoga style waistband made from stretchy cotton lycra to the top.

Lessons Learned

I learned a couple of lessons while sewing these PJs...

1.     Just because there are SOME elements of the pattern printed both ways, it doesn't mean the print is multi-directional. It pays to take notice of how many go each way. I think there are three or four monkeys in total on both garments who are right way up.

 2.     Life is TOO SHORT to sew button-up PJ tops, but I wanted this fabric out of my stash and my DD wanted some monkey pyjamas. Going forward, there will be PJ pants sewn and paired with a long-sleeved t-shirt - more comfortable and easier to sew. :-)

Just to show that I wasn't kidding yesterday about my DD always climbing! Apparently, the monkey pyjamas are highly appropriate! Sometimes, I really wish we had trees in our yard. Unfortunately, DD has to settle for climbing up these pillars unless we go to the park.

This is what makes it all worthwhile. She is still at that age where she loves the clothes I sew for her. I'm milking it for all it's worth at the moment. I know it won't last forever.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Project 7 of 50: Another coat

If I thought I was going to whip up 50 quick projects to satisfy my goal, my daughter had other ideas.

In the wake of my niece's coat success, my daughter decided that she wanted one "exactly the same". Well, there was no more of the red floral fabric, and the pattern didn't come in her size. Thankfully, she was willing to 'settle' for one of the other cute corduroys I had in my stash, and I could easily grade the pattern up. This was her final selection.

The coat pattern: Ottobre 06-2008-17

When I went to cut out the main pieces, I realised I actually didn't have enough of the corduroy! Oh No! In the end, I had to buy some coordinating quilting fabric to cut the facings from. Believe me, I shopped the stash first. I did have a piece that could have been OK, but it wasn't quite long enough and DD didn't like it anyway. If it was a smaller project, I probably would have used it anyway, but I figured that I was putting in some serious (for me) hours on this coat, I wanted it to be just right. So a small purchase was made.

I took this project along to a couple of sewing lessons. I'd already made this pattern before, so it was the perfect vehicle for learning a few new techniques. Normally, I'm a bit slap-happy when it comes to the actual sewing of garments (I tend to obsess over fit), but this time, I was more careful.

For this version of the coat, I learned how to attach a coat lining properly (leave it loose at the bottome! Whoops!), how to join the lining, facing and coat neatly at the bottom of the coat, how to attach the sleeve lining and the coat sleeve easily and how to apply a Hong Kong finish to the coat hem.

Get ready for the picture show. We took a LOT! And, for your reading pleasure, the captions have been written by Captain Obvious!

Proving that the coat was a success, it was on with seconds of her arriving home and hasn't been off for hours! :-)

Front view

Back view

Front view (with hood up)

Back view (with hood up)

Demonstrating the use of pockets (and leaning on a post!)

Just generally looking cool!

Now that's the kid I know! :-)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sure Fit Designs: Pants Kit - Part 3

Slowly, but surely, I'm getting to Fitting Nirvana. I must say, Glenda has been very helpful and encouraging through this process. I've taken it fairly carefully, not wanting to "do what I've always done". That clearly hasn't worked so well for me in the past, otherwise I'd have well fitted pants, wouldn't I?

I think I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to try taking the wedge out lower down the leg, to avoid messing with the crotch area. Well, Glenda confirmed my opinion this morning, so I've gone ahead and pinned in that change. As you can see in the photos below, this was obviously a good move.

The large dragline has gone from the front.

The back is looking much better than it did yesterday with the higher wedge. I suspect there are still some wrinkles in there, but I'm not sure which ones are caused by the pins and which ones will need pattern alteration.

From here, I will transfer this change to my blueprint, then cut another test pair. I'm fairly happy with the fit of these pair, so I'll use some reasonable fabric so they will (hopefully) be wearable in public when I'm done.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sure Fit Designs: Pants Kit - Part 2

I heard back from Glenda this morning. My goodness, people aren't kidding when they talk about the excellent customer service Sure Fit offers. Glenda has been very prompt and generous with her personal assistance when drafting and sewing these test pants.

After looking at the photos from the first test pair, it was decided that I pin out a horizontal wedge across the hip area to reposition the legs in a more centred position. This worked fairly well on the front, but then threw out my beautifully fitting back! Waa!

In the photos above, I've only pinned the wedge in the right hand leg. There are a mess of wrinkles on the pinned front leg, but I'm fairly certain this is due to the rough nature of the pinning.

But have a look at the back! Now they feel majorly uncomfortable and I have a massive wedgie going on. I'm thinking I may need to scoop out the back crotch seam, but I've (yet again) asked Glenda for advice. The pant leg is definitely more centred, but the back crotch is pulling. That's a bit weird to me because the back crotch length hasn't changed. It's almost like I need to take a wedge out of the front, but not the back.

I'm also wondering whether I need to add a little to the inseam in the thigh area. There is a little bit of pulling happening there, too.

Or, maybe, I've pinned the horizontal wedge in the wrong spot. What would happen if I pinned the wedge lower down, barely under the crotch line? I might try that in the morning and see if that makes a difference.

Sure Fit Designs: Pants Kit - Part 1

On the recommendation of one of my fellow PR members, I bought the pants kit from Sure Fit Designs. It's a drafting system that allows you to develop a range of slopers (depending on what kits you buy) which you can then modify to make a whole raft of different designs. The other use (and this is what got me) was that you can use the slopers to help you fit your commercial patterns to your body. Sold!

Anyway, I did a bit of research and there was a LOT of positive talk about this Sure Fit Designs, particularly with regard to the fit of the pants pattern and the customer service offered by the owner, Glenda Sparling. So I placed an order.  It took a little while for it to get here, but nothing extraordinary when you compare it to other orders coming from America.

In my order, I received the Pants kit, the Dress kit, the Stylus and the Pants that Mix'n'Multiply booklet. I opted to start with the Pants kit, as I'm really keen to develop a reliable pants sloper that I can modify to make a range of different styles.

After watching the relevant videos in the Learning Center, I got my husband to help me take my measurements. The kit comes with a DVD which leads you through the process of drafting the pattern. It's terribly dated, but the information is still good. However, I do best with written instructions so I mainly used the instruction booklet which is quite comprehensive.

I did run into one problem as I was drafting up the pattern. I have a large, tilted waist. When establishing the CF point, you are meant to find the intersection between your waist measurement and your front crotch measurement. Well, mine didn't intersect. That's OK, after confirming with Glenda that I was on the right track, I extended the lines downwards until they did intersect.

After drafting the pattern, I added seam allowances and cut and sewed my first pair of test pants. I have to say, I am impressed. The back is virtually wrinkle free. The front, however, has a big dragline and the legs are swinging inwards.

There are some suggestions in the instruction book about fine-tuning your pants pattern. I think I know what I need to do to these to remove the draglines, but I've just asked Glenda for some advice, just to make sure. I obviously need some hand-holding through this process.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Project 6 of 50: Perfect Plus Pants

I have been on (and am still on) an epic journey of finding a TNT pants pattern. I'm getting close, but I'm still not there.

I had been fiddling with the Style Arc Linda Stretch Pants that everyone is raving about, but I just couldn't get them to work on my body. This was after months of trying by myself and two sewing lessons where my fabulous sewing teacher helped me make adjustments. I'm retiring them for the moment. I may return. It bothers me that everyone else says how good they are - I must be doing something wrong.

Happily, these Perfect Plus Fly Front pants are the closest I've found so far.

The pants are drafted for a shorter, rounder (plus sized) figure. That fits my body shape perfectly. Do I want it to? No. But it is what it is. For now. And I need clothes for my body right now. Enter the Fly Front Pants. These brown pants are my (wearable) muslin.

Amazingly, I didn't have to do too many alterations. In fact, I just shortened the rise in both the front and the back and removed the front darts. I'm fairly happy with the fit. There are still a couple of drag lines in the back that I want to work on and and they are baggier overall than I'd like, but they're wearable. For a 'real' pair, I'd definitely make them out of a drapier fabric. This fabric is just too stiff. I'd also add a couple of inches to the length. These were already so short, I had to sew a hem facing rather than just turning up a hem.

I converted this pair to elastic waist (using the waistband from the Style Arc Linda Pants) and sewed a false fly front. I wasn't going to be fiddling around with a proper fly front on my muslin.

I'll definitely be making another pair of these, but I really want a slimmer leg pair of pants that I can wear with loose tops. These are just too baggy, however, they'll look fine with a more fitted top.

I'll have to work on a top to wear with these. This ensemble is the best I could come up with. LOL. I was trying to work the 'inner column'.

Where to from here? Just last week, my Sure-Fit Designs Pants Kit has arrived. My plan is to draft a pants sloper that fits me beautifully, that I can then use to adjust my commercial patterns. That's my dream, anyway. We'll see if it works out. My husband helped me take my measurements the other night and I'm ready to draft up my pattern this weekend.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Project 5 of 50: Emergency Zippered Pouches

I always carry bandaids and panadol, but they tend to get lost and knocked around in the bottom of my huge handbag. So, my daughter and I found this fabulous little tutorial to make some zippered bags to carry some basic first aid supplies in your handbag. I thought they looked so cute and would come in very handy.

This weekend, we had lunch with my in-laws. My mother-in-law had her sisters visiting from Melbourne, so my daughter and I made one of these first aid pouches as a gift for all the girls (4 in total). It would be stretching it to call each one of these a project in itself, but I DID use up some things in the sewing room, so I'm going to lump them all together and count the whole group as one project.

Of course, because I used up bits and pieces to make these pouches, they don't look anywhere near as cute as the one in the picture. Oh well. They look OK and will serve their purpose well. The sad things is that I still have the scraps (and zips) remaining to make about another 20!

One change we made to the tutorial was to use felt for the red cross patch, rather than piecing together little squares. This enabled my daughter to participate and do some stitching on the 'big machine'. She only lasted 3 patches, though, before declaring 'no offence, Mum, but sewing's not really my thing.' LOL.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Projects 3 & 4 (of 50)

All of a sudden, it's become very cold here (in relative QLD terms). I know it won't last too long, so I needed to make my daughter's winter pyjamas sooner rather than later.

Here is her new set:

PJ Bottoms:
Pattern: Ottobre 06-2011-40: Sleep Well Pyjama Pants (for plus-size girls)
Size: 134
Fabric: Printed flannelette (purchased from Spotlight in 2011)

No fit adjustments made this time. While this pattern is designed for plus-sized girls, I didn't think it was overly large. DD isn't plus-sized and you can see how they fit her - a bit loose, but that's how I would expect PJ pants to fit.

There's supposed to be a buttonhole and drawstring, but I didn't bother. I just used elastic threaded through a casing.

This is a super-easy pattern for beginner's - only 2 pattern pieces and some basic sewing skills.

PJ Top:
Pattern: Ottobre 04-2009-35 - "Striped Yoke" T-shirt
Size: 128, blending out to 134 at waist and hips, with a 140 length.
Fabric: A not very stretchy cotton knit which has been in the stash for so long I can't even remember where I bought it. The binding is some beautiful beefy cotton interlock which works SO well in the binder attachments for my CS machine.

I found the instructions to make this top a bit confusing when it came to constructing the neck/shoulder area. The instructions tell you to place the front and back 'wrong sides together', stitch the shoulder area, then bind the back neckline. I can't see how that would work. I ended up binding the back neckline first, then placing the wrong side of the back on top of the right side of the front, lining up the notches and basting together. I think it's turned out how it's meant to.

DD doesn't love this top, so I doubt if I'll be making it again. I have a feeling it's because of the fabric, but she's saying she doesn't like the way the back wraps over to the front. It also feels a bit tight through the sleeves (again, I think it's a fabric issue).
I've been wanting to make this t-shirt ever since this edition came out, so I'm a bit disappointed that she doesn't like it that much. I think it looks cute, but I guess, comfort is more important. Anyway, it's not like there's a shortage of cute tops to make for her.

Onwards to the next project...I've got a couple brewing - a pair of pants to finish off for me, a set of Monkey print flannelette pyjamas for DD, as well as the mock-ups for the flowergirl dresses. At least I've got enough to keep me busy for the next few days! I kind of get next week off work as well, seeing as though Monday is a public holiday. Unfortunately, because this is Graduation week at my school, I actually have to go in twice on my days off. Oh well, the price you have to pay for enjoying a great job.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Project 2 of 50

After sorting through my daughter's winter clothes on the weekend, we determined that she has VERY few things that fit her. This prompted today's sewing - a long-sleeved t-shirt in her (2nd) favourite colour. Apparently, this week, her favourite is orange, but I only have one piece of orange knit and I'm selfishly keeping it for me, so red it was.

Pattern: Ottobre 01-2008-29 in size 128.

Fabric: Red Stella from Crafty Mamas

Alterations (for fit):
  • morphed to size 140 at waist and hips.
  • lengthened by 1" at hemline.
Alterations (for design):
  • added 4.5" to sleeve, just above vent (as drafted, this pattern is 3/4 sleeved, and we wanted long sleeves).
Other info:
  • all binding was done on coverstitch machine - 3/8" single fold for sleeve vents and 1/2" double fold for neckline and sleeve edges.
  • hem done on coverstitch machine.