Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Endless Summer SWAP

Living in Queensland means I have an almost constant need for hot weather clothing. I thought I might have a crack at next year's SWAP, but I'm keen to start adding pieces to my wardrobe right now. The weather is heating up quickly and I don't have anything to wear! So, I'm going to make a start now and see where the plan takes me. Maybe I'll be able to make something work for the time constraints, maybe not. But at least I'll have some clothes to wear this summer!

This is my plan. I'm going to start on the tops first as I have the greatest need for those. 

The colour scheme I'd like to try to work with is navy, green and off-white. I'm going to sew from stash as much as possible, so that might mean a few things aren't as perfectly co-ordinated as they could be. I'm OK with that. 

This is my 'vision' for the SWAP - as close as I could get anyway. ☺
I've already made the grey/white top and have purchased the navy shorts. I'm going to start on the navy top next (after a quick project for my daughter).

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

30 Minutes a Day for October - Part 1

Main focus this week:
  • Muslin for Pocahontas costume (purple nightie)
  • Style Arc Susan Skirt 
  • Pocahontas costume
  • Honey Cowl

Tracking Tasks:

1st - 30 minutes sewing, 20 minutes knitting
  • Made alterations to Pocahontas pattern
  • Cut muslin 
  • Fused stabilizer to back shoulder seams 
  • Changed machine to OL and rethreaded 
  • Pressed bias strip to stop curling (didn't work!) 
  • Worked on Honey cowl - 2 rows

2nd - 45 minutes sewing, 40 minutes knitting
  • Stitched and topstitched left shoulder seam
  • Applied bias strip to neckline and pressed
  • Overlocked to control curling (worked!)
  • Pinned and topstitched neck binding
  • Stitched and topstitched right shoulder seam
  • Stitched in sleeves
  • Stitched side seams
  • Worked on Honey cowl - 6 rows

3rd - 60 minutes sewing, 15 minutes knitting
  • Finished stitching Honey Cowl - blocked
  • Nightie: Pinned hem and sleeve hem
  • Susan Skirt: Stitched front side panels to front centre panel
  • Susan Skirt: Stitched back to back yoke
  • Susan Skirt: Stitched side seams
  • Nightie: Coverstitched hem and sleeve hems, pressed and trimmed excess hem allowance
  • Susan Skirt: Cut and inserted elastic
  • Susan Skirt: Turned down and topstitched elastic
  • Susan Skirt: Measured and cut hem
  • Susan Skirt: Pinned and coverstitched hem, pressed
  • Wove in ends on Baby Lucy hat

4th - 30 minutes sewing (went away for the weekend)
  • Cut Pocahontas costume out
  • Changed machine to OL, rethreaded all machines in brown
  • Fused stabiliser to shoulder seams
  • Tidied up in sewing room

5th - 30 minutes sewing (went away for the weekend)
  • Sewed shoulder seam
  • Cut binding and applied to neckline
  • Sewed second shoulder seam
  • Sewed in sleeves

6th - 60 minutes sewing, 30 minutes 'knitting'
  • Overlocked sleeve seams
  • Stitched one side seam
  • Stabilised hem
  • Use Vliesofix to attach trim along hem
  • Stitched trim along hem
  • Stitched second side seam
  • Tried on Erin and marked where remaining trim is to go
  • Used Vliesofix to attach trim along marked lines
  • Stitched trim to dress, pressed
  • Made headband from plaited trim (rejected trim from dress)
  • Made and attached pompom for Baby Lucy hat

7th - 30 minutes of sewing (Work Day)
  • Tried on UFO tank and assessed for alterations
  • Tried on Navy tennis skort (rarely worn) and assessed for alterations
  • Unpicked the elastic from the legs of my Navy tennis skort

Did pretty well to fit in at least 30 minutes of sewing each day, given that we went away for the weekend and I had to go to work one day. Typically, I don't do ANYTHING crafty on a work day, but because I was tracking, I didn't want to ruin my streak, so I forced myself to do something very low key. Still, it counts!

I think this method has been a success this week as I have three completed garments and have made progress on another. It's been a long time since I've felt this productive!

Next week: 
Need to tackle that Honey Cowl, and get those ends woven in. I've also set my sights on getting that tennis outfit finished and tidying up the loose ends of the Halloween costumes so I don't need to think about them again. Unfortunately, that requires a shopping trip, and I really don't like shopping.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

30 Minutes a Day for September

This month, I have been trying to ensure that I spend 30 minutes a day in the sewing room actually doing something to move projects forward. I found that I would head into the sewing room but get distracted by the computer and leave an hour later having accomplished nothing. It's only been the last few days that I have kept track of the actual tasks that I accomplished, but I have found that it's keeping me on track so I'll probably keep doing that through October.

If anyone's interested, here's what I managed to get done over the last 5 days:

26th: Cut out Lady Macbeth costume, fused interfacing to back shoulder seam, started to lay out skirt pattern

27th: Cut out Style Arc skirt pattern from LM costume leftovers, worked on LM costume: stitched centre back seam and one shoulder seam, pinned down trim around neckline

28th: Worked on LM costume: stitched down trim around neckline, closed other shoulder seam, sewed in sleeves, sewed side seams and tried on!

29th: Worked on LM costume: eased top edge of trim, turned and stitched neckline, pinned trim to sleeves; Chose pattern for Pocahontas costume

30th: Finished Lady Macbeth costume: stitched down trim on sleeves, trimmed hem to right length. Worked on Pocahontas costume: prepped fabric, traced and altered pattern.

Goals for October: 

Continue to spend 30 minutes a day working on actual projects

  1. Pocahontas costume
  2. Buy some gold cord to use as a 'waist' tie for my Lady Macbeth costume 
  3. Take photos of the costumes! 
  4. Style Arc Susan Skirt
  5. Tennis Outfit
  6. White Long shorts for me
  7. (Yarn-related) Honey Cowl - Nearly done
  8. (Yarn-related) Marigold Cardigan - Half done
  9. White Burda Plus Top 
  10. Navy HP Blouse Back Tee
I know it looks ridiculous, but most of the stuff is half done already - or dead simple. Anyway, we'll see how far I get through my list.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Wrap Dress Muslin

I've been working on this wrap dress muslin for a while now. I find that when I run into significant fit issues it can make my mojo dry up faster than the speed of light. I've been consciously 'forcing' myself to sew for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, so that I can push past this point. Once I have these issues worked out, then I know I'll be fine. I have a number of knit pieces that would work beautifully in a dress like this, so it's worth it to me to get the pattern adjusted properly.

Initially I was inspired by dresses like this Diane Von Furstenberg dress (which I know is sewn from a woven):

DIANE VON FURSTENBERG Starred Clouds Coral Silk Valencia Dress

Pattern: Ottobre 05/2013 #17
Size: 52 (although I may need to be sewing a smaller size in future)
Muslin made from Peacock poly-knit

Alterations made BEFORE cutting muslin: 
  • Added 1" to sleeve width at bicep
  • Extended front to be a full width piece (faux wrap) and cropped the under layer
  • Added 1.25" to back side seam at butt level

  • Dress is far too wide at neckline, bra straps are showing. 
  • Dress is FAR too low at neckline - entire front of bra is showing
  • It just feels too big overall - especially around the neck and shoulder area
  • When I pulled the front crossover tighter, it pulled the side seams to the front, so I can't just do that...there is a chance that I pulled too much across. Perhaps I could do this if I only shaved off a little. 
  • It almost feels as though I want to make a honking great dart on the underlayer to pull it in tighter. 

Alterations which still need to be made: 
  • Raise neckline (ie. insertion point at side seam) by about 3 - 4"
  • Bring in shoulders (reduce neck width)
  • Remove length from skirt - not too much, but it is currently at granny level for me
  • Bring in side seams, particularly at bust level
  • Perhaps sew a smaller size, especially around the neck/shoulder area?
  • For summer, sew a short sleeve, perhaps flare the skirt and the sleeve?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Achievable Plans for September

Apparently, goals are meant to be I've pruned my original list and have settled on these items I'd like to get done by the end of this month.

I'm kind of cheating a little, because I'm fairly certain I'm going to buy the shorts, at least I HOPE I can buy the shorts. My DD is firmly in that stage where she's being very picky about her clothing, and the rules seem to be arbitrary.

The rest is all simple sewing (as you'd expect from me). I do want to tackle some more complex projects next month, but these garments are more urgently required.

Garment Sewing: 
1.  Knit Wrap Dress - Muslin UNDERWAY - AND THROWN IN BIN. Will start this one again next month with some further modifications.

This is the pattern I'm using - Ottobre 5/2013 - with some modifications to ensure modesty for work.

2.  Long shorts for DD (3 pairs - CHEATER ALERT - DID END UP BUYING THESE)
3.  Halloween costume for me - NEARLY DONE
4.  Halloween costume for DD - HAVE BOUGHT THE SUPPLIES
5.  Tennis skirt for me

Incorporate a minimum of 30 minutes of sewing each day

Shopping list: 
Seam tape

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Another Basic T-Shirt - Inspired by fabric...and what to sew next?

So, I picked up this gorgeous printed knit at Spotlight not that long ago. It was perfect for another 'Tilton Tee'...or so I thought. In my excitement over the colours and design, I neglected to think about the stretch.

For the most part it was OK; I've fitted my pattern to need minimal stretch in the knit. But when combining different fabrics, some with obviously more stretch than others, sewing in the sleeve becomes problematic. It took me several attempts to get it halfway decent, and so I left it and moved on.

It's not perfect, but I was over it by this stage, and couldn't see how I could get it any better. It feels nice to wear and I'm pretty happy with the fabric combination, too.

 I've got nothing further to say...same pattern as the previous 2 versions, used techniques learnt in the Tilton sisters' class on Craftsy, yada yada...

Up next is a wrap dress made from (appropriately stretchy) knit. I'm currently deciding between this pattern (Ottobre 05/2013/07)

and this pattern (Petite Plus Easy Wrap Dress) - with a 3/4 sleeve

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Basic T-Shirt: Version 2 - Inspired by RTW

I've had a piece of white floral (almost) burnout knit in my stash since my daughter was quite young. Initially, I thought I'd make a knit top for her, but those plans obviously never got off the ground. By the time she started to voice an opinion on fabric choice, she gave it the thumbs down. I still really liked it but it always seemed too small for a project for me. Enter the wonderous world of Marcy and Katherine Tilton...and THIS t-shirt.

The link on Pinterest is broken now, but it did take me to the Tees and Tanks section of the Anthropologie website...where I promptly pinned a few others for t-shirt inspiration. :-)

And this is what I came up with.

Obviously, I'm not using a raglan sleeve pattern (it's on my list), but I think I got pretty close with the vibe of the top. And, while I've still got some fiddling to do with the pattern for the next version, I'm happy with the fit of this top. It's certainly not a TIGHT t-shirt fit, but it IS one I'm comfortable wearing.

Changes I made for this version:

  • Performed a 1" FBA (following the 'Fit for Real People' method) - this added about 1" to the length at centre front, too. That has brought the hemline level. 
  • Added 1" to the length of the hem - now I'm wondering if it's too much. I need to see it in a full length photo. Unfortunately, the battery in my camera remote died as I took the photo below. I'm just grateful that I got the photos I did. 
  • Sewed the side seams a little deeper (mayne 1/2" max) through the bust area and top of the sleeve.
  • Again, I didn't need the 1" fit insurance so trimmed it away after trying on. I do like the confidence it gives me, but I may trim it away from the pattern if I don't need it on the next few versions.

For next time:

The main issue I have with the fit is the sleeves. The drag lines that I'm experiencing are causing me a little consternation, so I've looked into that. Apparently, they can be caused by the sleeve head not being high enough. When I pull up the sleeve a little at the underarm seam (perpendicular to the seam line), the drag lines decrease noticeably, so I think I'm on to something there. For Version 3, I've dropped down the armhole seam at the sides by 1/2" on each side, blending to nothing by the (non-existent) notches. Effectively, this is raising the height of the sleeve head.

Looking at the photos of the back of this garment, I'm also wondering if I made it a little too tight through the back at the bust level. I did take in the garment there about 1/2" at the side seams. I'll have to be a little more observant at the basting stage next time.

I've already got the fabrics selected for Version 3, with a couple more in the wash. So, I'll be able to test out this pattern alteration very soon.

A Basic T-Shirt: Version 1 - My Attempt at Colour Blocking

For the first version of the new t-shirt pattern, I chose a knit I've had in the stash for a while. It's not my favourite print, but it actually turned out a lot better than I had anticipated. So I decided, at the last moment, that I would try to lift it a little by throwing in some grey/white stripe to make it a bit more interesting. It was a difficult print to try to match with - it's not a black in there, it's a dark brown.

Anyway, as far as the fit goes, I'm pretty happy with it in the lower section. It's pulling a bit around my bust although there's certainly enough room to go around. It appears as though the fabric is in the wrong place - more off to the sides, rather than in the front. So, an FBA will be done for the next one. And it's a bit too short. I'll be adding 1" to the hem.

I'm getting diagonal drag lines on the sleeves so will look into what's potentially causing that and see if I can address that on the next t-shirt, too.

I'm super happy with how the neckband has worked out - it's SO flat. And the construction method (using a straight stitch on the sewing machine - basting - a million try ons) seems to have worked really well, too. I'll definitely be sticking with that for a while.

In Search of a TNT T-Shirt Pattern

I really like the style of t-shirt that Marcy and Katherine Tilton design and sew. I've had my eye on their Craftsy class for a long time and, when it was half price last weekend, I bit the bullet. Unlike any other Craftsy class I've bought, I binge watched all episodes and had the whole thing finished by the end of the weekend.

The Ultimate T-Shirt Craftsy Class

Some facts about knits and me:

  • I'm not scared of knits.
  • I've sewn with many different types over the course of 20+ years.
  • I have the appropriate equipment to construct knit garments with a professional finish.
  • I love to wear knits.

BUT, I don't currently have a reliable TNT pattern for a basic t-shirt.

That is going to change.

The class comes with a pattern, but I just couldn't wait for it to arrive. I was too excited to get started. I'm using Ottobre 02-2007-02 in Size 52 to perfect a basic pattern which I can then use to make all kinds of variations.

Preparing the Pattern

In The Ultimate T-Shirt class on Craftsy, Marcy Tilton recommends pin-fitting the pattern tissue. While this may seem a bit ridiculous, given that a t-shirt often has negative ease, I figured I hated tight t-shirts anyway so I was prepared to give it a go.

After pin-fitting the tissue, I ended up making a few alterations to the pattern (all in line with the information presented in the Craftsy class):

  • adding about 1" (at the bust) - 1 3/8" (at the hips) to the side seams of both the front and back body, and about 5/8" to the side seams of the sleeves. I'm pretty sure the t-shirt would have 'fit' without this, but it would have been a firm fit - with zero ease. Not a look I like for me. 
  • The Tilton sisters also sew their t-shirts largely on the sewing machine with a 5/8" seam allowance. I've always constructed mine on the overlocker with a 3/8" seam allowance, but I thought, since I had paid for this class I may as well follow their instructions at least once. So I added 5/8" seam allowances to my pattern. 
  • 1/2" was added to the length of the front to allow for the front of the body being larger than the back.
  • I also, at the advice of the Tilton sisters, added a 1" insurance seam allowance at the front and back body, and the sides of the sleeves. I didn't end up needing those in the first fabric I chose, but they'll stay for the next few versions...just in case! 
  • (Not in the class) In anticipation of problems with the sleeve cap depth, I added a 1/2" to the height of the sleeve cap, blending to nothing by the end of the curve. I still am having issues with the sleeve/armhole, so maybe this wasn't the right thing to do. 

The reason there are two different outlines is because my measurements put me in a size 50, but when I compared the flat pattern measurements to my own, I realised I wasn't going to like the fit of the size 50.

Constructing the Garment

I'd committed, in my mind, to following all the advice given in The Ultimate T-Shirt class I'd taken on Craftsy. In this case, this meant sewing my t-shirt largely on the sewing machine. With 5/8" seam allowance.

There were lots of little tips that I picked
  • Staystitching the neckline of the t-shirt. I'd never bothered with that before - on a knit garment. 
  • Staystitch Plus on the sleeve cap helped to prepare the sleeve for easing it in to the armhole. 
  • Preparing the hem BEFORE sewing up the side seams
I typed up a list of the construction I plan to make many of these. I'd love for it to become automatic - and it nearly is, but there are a few extra steps that the Tilton sisters suggest, that I'd like to trial for a while.

The biggest difference, I believe, is the number of times they had you try on the garment before the finish. I think, even though fit is of paramount importance to me, I'd become lazy with this aspect of knit sewing.

Hemming Tip! Use a piece of tearaway stabilizer under the seams as you are hemming on the coverstitch machine. Finally, I'm able to maintain a straight stitching line in this bulky area without snipping (and weakening) seams.

Friday, March 7, 2014

I AM alive and I have been sewing...

Nothing flash, but wanted to keep a bit of a visual record of what I've been sewing lately...

First up is a series of tops I made based on a RTW top I bought from Autograph last year. I loved the style, but unfortunately, the original top developed little holes all over it after only a month or two. It really just confirmed why I sew.

Anyway, I've actually made 4 tops but one of them was a wadder due to poor fabric choice. It was a mystery cotton blend that just grew widthways until the neckline would have fit over my hips! Yikes!

I look REALLY cranky here, don't I? I'm not that unhappy, my 'photographer' took the shot before I was ready. There's a reason I usually use a tripod and timer! LOL.

I love this version best of all. It's made from a slightly stretchy mesh fabric I bought at Spotlight late last year. Obviously it's very transparent and, rather than waiting until I had the motivation to sew a cream tank to wear under it, I just bought one.


It's not been ALL selfish sewing - I've been working on a very involved patchwork floor cushion for my daughter (I'm NOT a quilter and have the lack of skills to show for it!). When I hit a roadblock in that project (lack of black continuous zipper), I decided to dig through the UFO bin and found these PJ shorts that I'd cut out in December 2012. Time clearly wasn't on my side, but I just sewed them up with tiny seam allowances and they fit fine.

Then I quickly traced off an Ottobre pattern (04-2013-33 - 'Ruler' raglan t-shirt) and made a matching top from some scraps I had lying around. I really was using this as a wearable muslin for this year's winter t-shirts. She has nothing to wear for winter! Nothing! And I'm too tight to pay for plain t-shirts when, with a good pattern, they can be made so quickly and with a much higher quality. I loathe twisted seams and that's all it seems you get with store bought t-shirts these days.

I'm fairly sure there's been other sewing, but I can't remember right at the moment. I may update once it comes back to me. Until then, I'm back to work on the Minecraft cushion.