Saturday, 24 January 2015

Birthday Polka Dots! La Slyphide, again!

You guys, I had the best birthday this year! And I made this dress just in time to wear it on said occasion! Hmm, combining nearly all my favourite things. Dresses, pink, polka dots, and bows. What could be better? I've already made this dress twice before, but one more couldn't hurt. This is a delightful silk cotton blend that my dear sewing friend who blogs at A Charm of Magpies convinced me to get, and she was SO RIGHT.

Speaking of friends, I went out for lunch with my friends, and I'm so glad that I have friends now! Is that weird? Well, when I was so sick with CFS/ME (for 10 years), I had no social life, and I guess it's still pretty novel for me, even 3 years after recovering. Heh. I'm at the point now where I feel like an honest-to-goodness real person in the world. Spooky! Anyway, I digress. Pretty clothes.

I neglected to get close ups of the fabric, but I hope you can see the polka dots! I went with buttons to match the yellow dots. So cute! I don't normally do contrast buttons but here they are just right, I think.

Oh! And I also swapped out the usual semi-circular skirt for a gathered A-line. I always use the same one from New Look 6799, cos I don't want to reinvent the wheel! But I use the largest size, for more fullness. ALWAYS more fullness. More fullness, more bows, and more pink please. Also, less bias on the skirt means it's easier to hem, hooray!

Back view and OMG shoulder blades

As you can see, we are finding sun here in Wellington, which is a nice change, so I got out my ridiculously floppy hat.


I don't have a bunch to say about this pattern, having made it a few times already! Hooray for no fitting! One thing that still bugs me when I make it though, is how you have to clip right into the seam at the neckline at the collar to get everything sitting right. Eeeeeew, I hate clipping that close, it makes me feel like it's going to fray to pieces, so I shoved some Fray Stoppa stuff on there (it's this liquid you apply and it stops it fraying. It's my paranoid crutch). I know Sonya mentioned she hates this too recently, so I'm not alone!! 

One other thing I've noticed (I think this has happened on all three makes), is that when top-stitching the placket, the top (uninterfaced) layer wants to bubble a bit, like it's longer than the fused placket underneath. The placket is just turned under, not seamed on with a separate pattern piece. I'm not sure what causes it, but I'm thinking it could be some of these:

-my machine just wants to feed the bottom layer through faster because it's a jerk like that
-maybe the different weights of the top and bottom layer exacerbate the above process?
-the interfacing shrunk the fabric a little when fusing it?

Anyway, I managed to ease it in without puckers, but I'm just curious why it happens!

Requisite "I have a bow" photo:


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Jacket for my Mum (kinda)

So, this jacket has been finished for... quite a few months, and I'm finally blogging it!
Do not be deceived by appearances though, I am not as unselfish as you may think. Yep, this was originally for me! But who's the gorgeous model? Why, my Mum of course!

I made this jacket as part of a class. I'd decided to take a class for both the social aspect, and for the learning too. I thought as this class was about making a jacket, that I'd learn about tailoring, but well, my assumption was wrong (it's a simple untailored style). Also, the friend I was going to do the class with couldn't come because life happened, so I ended up taking a class for none of the reasons I'd signed up for!
Also, this style of garment isn't really me, but I thought it'd be worth doing anyway for the aforementioned reasons. Fail!

I don't often see my family, as they live in a different city, but I took the opportunity to get these photos in my Mum's garden when I visited. I should have got some more pics of her garden- she's a terrific gardener (unlike myself, who has killed a cactus before).

I had to sew a snap on to keep the collar closed, but it's not strong enough. It's just a small plastic snap and needs to be replaced with something heavier duty.

I didn't get any pics on myself, but it definitely didn't suit me, just trust me on that. lol! I'm happy to see it going to a good home. It has a lining and everything. I think I'll have to make a million lined garments before I feel competent at them!
It's also got quite a lot of hand-stitching (this was just part of the class). I want to learn to do it by machine though! I think in many cases, hand-sewing is a bit of a crutch.

My Mum found being a model highly amusing, and I couldn't stop laughing when looking at these photos!

She does make a great model though, don't you think?
I don't have a whole bunch to say about this make. I feel like a bit of a lazy blogger lately; I don't feel very compelled to blog at the moment!
So have some pics.

Ooh dear, looks like I'll have to do some more unselfish sewing soon. It's much more fun to photograph others!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Happy New Year! (a little late)

I wasn't sure if I could be bothered doing a year-end post (well technically I'm a little late anyway), but well, I am doing one!

I'm going to keep it brief though. Here are 5 of my favourite garments this year.


My floral Pendrell Blouse because the fabric is beautiful, and ruffles. And because I got it to fit really well!

My burgundy Beignet because I was super scared of it and got there in the end. Also, I finally got a skirt to fit my butt, no mean feat for me!

My Washington Square cardigan. To be honest, this is a little bit of a token knit project in my top list. I guess none of my knitting projects are my favourites this year! I still like it though.

La Slyphide because I made chiffon do my bidding, and it was yet another successful make based on my bodice block, which I fully intend to thrash for the next year too. I'm at five makes using it so far.

I know I posted this recently, but my shirt dress too! Seems like a theme of ALL of my favourite makes are "Wow, it took me a lot of effort to get the pattern sorted, but I finally got there!".

Note: I don't feel like counting how many things I made. I've noticed a lot of people do this, but I prefer to stay away from these numbers. It makes my brain want to make unnecessary comparisons and judgements,which is something I'm trying to get away from! I want to not care how many things I made, as long as I made things!


Do I want to do these? Well, why not. It's good to learn from them.

Definitely at the head of the fails list is this cardigan:

The pattern was rotten from the start, and my fumbles to save it were unsuccessful. It's current sitting in balls. Yep, I pulled it apart!

The next I would say is my Cambie dress. Successful overall, but I spent waaaay too much time trying to get away from nipply bust darts, and the fit still isn't good enough for me. I still like it and have worn it, but I may re-attempt Cambie this year.

I think that's the extent of the garments I made that I was QUITE unsatisfied with. The rest of my fails are projects I never finished (which I might blog about), and all the fussing around I did in general over sewing. I tend towards analysis paralysis and it prevents me from powering through and getting stuff done. HOWEVER, it also means I don't make as many fails, because I think things through. I'm proud to say most of my garments this year are wearable successes! Though I definitely wear some more than others.

Bonus "fails":

My velvet skirt, which I like overall, gets on the list because I'm planning to shorten the hem this year! That hand-stitched hem (sob) has to be re-done!

Brennan cardigan. I didn't like the styling in my photos, I thought I looked very "old" and not in a cool vintage way. This is a totally cute cardigan (I want to make another, I looove the bobbles!), but it is too long to look cute with skirts and dresses. It looks good with pants, and I've worn it a bunch anyway, but I would like to improve it. I also find that the shoulders droop, so I'm considering reinforcing it somehow (if I ever get around to it). This was SO close to being just right, but it's just a little off!

Goals and Thoughts:

How did I do with last year's goals?

-Last year my goal was to break away from my own self-criticism. Did I achieve that? No. I tried though! I'm going to keep trying... if only I knew where the magic switch was to turn it off! I've got a little better though- or am I just deluding myself? lol!

-Another goal: Work with more tried-and-true patterns to reduce the time spent in muslin-town. This was a success! I made lots from my bodice block, and multiples of several garments.

-This tied into another goal: Making more mods from base patterns. I achieved this too, and hope to go on from here with more drafting!

-With life changes, I wanted to be okay with doing less sewing and blogging. I feel I did blog less, but yes, I am okay with this. I feel I may reduce my blogging even further this year (sad face), but that's sometimes what life demands.

-I also wanted to keep a tidier, better organised creative space. I sort of did this, but there's still a long way to go. Heh. No photos allowed, lol!!

This year I broke away from sewalongs and new patterns. I'm no longer interested in being one of the "cool kids", always testing new patterns and running promotions. I'm just going to pootle away doing my own thing, at my own pace (which is sometimes totally slow).
I still get frustrated at how slow and useless I feel sometimes, but there's only one way to improve, and that's practice.

It's been great continuing to do social sewing and have some silly sewing too, like my dress covered in cats :)

Me and Joy in cat-themed garments

I feel like I can totally justify stealing last years goals and using them again! Haha! If I had to add anything, it would be to be okay with being slow.
Because when I'm drafting my own stuff, of COURSE it's going to be slower than taking someone else's pattern and sewing it up per the instructions!

So there, I jumped on the bandwagon and did my round-up! Here's to another year of creativity guys! I really enjoy you sharing your creations and will endeavour to continue to share mine! :)

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Completed: Top Thing

Hello! I made a top! Oh yeah, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and all that.

So this top, believe it or not, is Butterick 5526.

Except you may have noticed it's nothing like it. Don't worry, it's just because I'm a crazy person.

I really want to make a shirt, and have wanted to for ages, but I wanted to make up this pattern to test the fit first. So I took the button placket off, and made this top first to see if I was happy to proceed. Let me say first though, that this is not "straight from the packet". Heck no! That always looks beyond abysmal. Prior to this, I'd already made two muslins.

My usual set of adjustments is:
-Rounded upper back (this adds shoulder darts in the back)
-Large hips
-Huge sway back adjustment
-Forward shoulder
-Removal of stupid amounts of ease that plague modern patterns (although for this one, I really did overfit. I took a pattern designed to be only moderately fitted, and made it fitted.)
-Reshaping the armhole.
-Other little fiddly bits because I can't just leave well enough alone.

SO boring, right? Every time I make a new pattern I end up thinking "This would probably have been easier to draft from an existing pattern that already fits me!" Anyway, live and learn. I essentially just recreated the Pendrell blouse here, but with armhole princess seams instead of shoulder. Duh.

I also fiddled with the front princess seams in a not-entirely-successful way, so I will fix that when I make the pattern up again. I'll probably add back in a little ease too. I put in a zip on the side seam, but I could totally make it a pullover blouse with just a skodge more width at the side seams. Zips just don't seem right or necessary in a garment like this.

And my penchant for over-fitting really isn't necessary here either. If I'm planning to usually tuck it in anyway, it's going to bunch up, and no-one really sees the fit!

I drafted the little gathered cap sleeves by making it up and then fiddling with it. One of those things that starts out like "Oh, this will be super easy!" and then you have to keep fiddling with it to make it look right. This is not the best way to do things, but I guess it works eventually! I'm going to try it again another time to refine it further. I sort of lost patience at the end and bodged them in. Quality workmanship, not so much.

I also "drafted" (not sure such a fancy term is needed for something so simple) the keyhole. I basically did it, then found that Colette's free Laurel extras download contains everything you need to make this. Gosh, I'm just SO good at reinventing the wheel, right?? Lol.

The bias strips on the neckline and armholes went okay, though I do find getting very curved areas such as the keyhole to sit nicely when they have a bias facing. For now, aggressive pressing before and after gets me MOST of the way there. This bugs me on the curviest part of armholes too. I'll let you know when I find a magic trick... but I DO find comfort in seeing Tilly's yellow Fran├žoise sample seemingly showing the same effect around the armholes that annoys me when I do mine. Well, from what I can see, at least.
It may be best to stick with proper facings when possible, but that just doesn't work well for sheer and lightweight fabric.

Guts shot: I used a combo of bought bias tape and self-made.

Thanks to the Dreamstress for taking these photos at a Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network  Christmas get-together :) I neglected to get shots of it from the back, AND untucked though, naughty blogger! But, I got a photo with her cute cat, so obviously you'll forgive me :)

Sunday, 14 December 2014

I'm back! With a Shirtdress!

Hello guys! I took a little break from blogging due to life, and I'm back!

This shirtdress.... wow. It wasn't an easy road!
I first attempted it about a year ago, when I decided to make the Shirtwaist dress from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. WOW, it was a huge disaster on so many levels. I never got past the "muslin hell" stage, due to a series of wrong fitting decisions (also, the pattern seems oddly drafted. Mine was about an inch too wide in the shoulders, and I have seen others mention this too). This meant I spent loads of time on making ill-fitting, sad, muslins. I set it aside, defeated.

Recently my determination was renewed so I tried again. (I can somewhat blame Mary from Idle Fancy with her rad shirt dresses and the sewing challenge she created too!) My idea was to frankenpattern Gertie's shirt dress with my new bodice block, thus circumventing the "muslin hell" stage. It did NOT work- I simply couldn't figure it out, and then I actually realised that the collar on Gertie's shirtdress is actually.... really weird looking. The floral sample in her book disguises it, but split of the collar seems to sit on top of the shoulders and just looks odd to me. I've looked at people's makes around the internet and yeah, just weird. Don't like it.

This pattern is my nemesis.

Plan B: A shirt dress with a GOOD-looking collar. 

The lovely Juliet lent me Simplicity 1880 because I decided the collar was nice-looking. I did have to spend a bit of time figuring out how to frankenpattern the collar onto my bodice block though! I had to compare the back and front necklines and change my block's necklines to match the Simplicity pattern. I essentially just made it up and fudged it, so I wasn't sure of myself.  I was really happy when I sewed it up and it totally looked like a REAL COLLAR OMG!

Small note on deceptive pattern art: Look at how different the short sleeve in the fashion drawing 2nd from the left is, to the photo of the same sleeve in yellow.

So this is a frankenpattern of three patterns. 
The first pattern is Vogue 8766, the pattern I used to create my fitted bodice block (which took a lot of effort and 3 muslins to get fitting right). This is my fifth dress using this base pattern. Why reinvent the wheel?  Banish muslins to hell where they belong!!

The second pattern is Simplicity 1880 (shown above) which I took the collar and sleeves from.

The third pattern is the Shirtwaist dress from Gertie's Book, which I took the skirt and pockets from.

I have my hands in the pockets in pretty much all these pictures, pockets are so good!

Mine is a lot more fitted than both of the shirt dress patterns I stole from; I used plain darts, while the others use gathers, pleats, and shirring to create a more voluminous bodice. Maybe I'll give it a try sometime in a softer fabric. But seriously, look how those darts fit! Like a dream! No pointy boobies today. Linen, you are so kind (enough that I'll forgive you for the rumpling! It's especially bad after you sit down for a while).

I forgot line up the pleats on the skirt with my bodice darts while frankenpatterning, but I've fixed it on the pattern for next time. It doesn't stand out in this fabric anyway.

Oh yeah, and I made this flower headband thingy out of fake flowers I sewed onto elastic! Sorry, I forgot to get better pics. Hopefully I'll remember for next time.

Construction thoughts:

I feel like I stretched out the bias on the side seams when dealing with the pockets. I sewed them on (without getting as far as sewing up the side seams), but then ripped them off when they looked super low. I compared them to the pockets on my Cambie pattern, and those are 5" higher. What the heck, Gertie? Ya got me again!! I moved them up by 4" as a compromise (just to be different, I dunno). For the record, the top of these are 2.5" below the waist seam. I think they would have been awkward if I'd left them low.

Regardless of the trouble these caused me, pockets are SO worth it! Whenever I make a dress or skirt without them, my hands keep searching for them!

I messed up soooo many times while sewing this, but I kept charging ahead. Many seams were ripped. I also messed up the hem (out of both mistakes and then laziness)- it's super uneven on the inside but it looks fine on the outside, so whatever.

The collar instructions weren't the best, but I got there in the end, albeit not as perfectly sewn as I'd like. I think next time I'll draft an undercollar too so the facing will hopefully roll under perfectly.

I sewed the buttons on by machine with my new button foot! Wow, that made life a LOT easier. Now I just hope they stay on! A button popped off my corduroy Beignet skirt while I was wearing it this week. Oops, shoddy workmanship....

I decided to use the cuffs from Gertie's sleeves on these sleeves. I quite like it, but I might shorten them and perhaps snug the sleeves in a bit more at the bottom too if I make it again. Oh yeah, and they are supposed to be eased in to the shoulder, but I just gathered them. Haha! Hey, I'd had way too much troubleshooting to do already so I decided to pick my battles. Plus, I like gathers!

My next shirt dress will be so much easier (well, I'd hope so anyway)! Puff sleeves make layering a little awkward (cardigans look odd on top!), so I might try plainer sleeves next time? Anyway, I'm so happy I persisted after all the trouble I had. Victory is mine!!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Completed Knit: Chuck!

Ahh, a nice wooly, long-sleeved Chuck, just in time for Summer. Hmmm.

Anyway, I'm finally getting around to blogging this! Yay! This has been on my to-make list for ages, and Lauren can take credit for adding fuel to the fire with her dang cute version.

I don't have a whole heap to say about it, as it wasn't too involved! I chose about 3" of negative ease. I also am now (due to my love of/compulsion for fitting modifications) addicted to adding bust darts to knits. So there are bust darts, which keep the waistline more level and really, just satisfy my knitting nerdyness. I wrote more about them in my last knitting project, if you want the dirt.

I also lengthened it, as I wanted it slightly past the waist. Why? I hate that awkward situation that arises when you wear something cropped with a skirt that sits at the waist, and the top is just a little toooo cropped, so it rises up and flashes whatever you're wearing underneath. It simply won't do! Plus, I think it's flattering sitting below the waist.

In order to lengthen it, I added an extra cable twist in between the two main cabled repeats.

As usual, I lengthened the sleeves to full length. I just don't see the point in 3/4 sleeves when you're trying to cozy up in wool. Plus, I'm extremely cold-blooded so will get much more wear out of it this way.


Back view + well hidden camera remote (lol)

I always end up looking cheesy for the self-timer!
Also, I'll probably be blogging less for the next wee while. I'll miss it though! I have some big time-sucks coming up, so no time to sew unfortunately. Oh well, that's life! I'll still be around though :D

Friday, 31 October 2014

Cat Lady Sewing Challenge!

OMG CATS!! I jumped on Erin's Cat Lady Sewing Challenge as a great excuse to get a crazy cat dress into my life.

The awesome ladies of the WSBN pounced on this idea too, and we themed a meet up around it. Cats everywhere! If you want to stalk their blogs, they are all listed in that link ;)

Check out the cute fabric! I got it from fabric pixie, an Australian website.

We went to the botanical gardens, so here I am in a greenhouse pretending to know things about flowers (I don't know anything about flowers).

This is a pattern which may be becoming familiar to you all- my bodice block created from Vogue 8766. It took forever to fit, so now I'm going to thrash it! And a flared, gathered skirt from New Look 6799 which I've used several times now too.  If it ain't broke, right??

I changed the neckline and drafted a Peter Pan collar.
The thing about self-drafting is that you can't blame some designer if it looks funny. I was quite relieved that the collar looked quite "collar-y" by the end of it.  Teresa reassured me that it definitely "looked like a thing".
It took me ages to sew though. I have new respect for the Peter Pan collar. I had to trim, clip, and press quite aggressively to get it looking rounded! I think I also need to work on my sewing precision next time.  I drafted an undercollar with turn of cloth factored in, but you can see in this close-up, it's rolling out a tiny bit at the fronts.

Do you have any pointers for the shape of my collar or its construction?

Also, shoulder wrinkles! It might just be the way I'm standing, or I might need a sloping shoulder adjustment.
I underlined the bodice, as I felt the cotton was a little lightweight. I also lined the skirt, and I made up my own way of getting it in, because I'm sick of trying to look up the "right" way to do things, and wasting hours on the internet. lol! One day I'll know!

Lining, lining hem. lining is hand-stitched to invisible zip, but hangs freely below it.

Underlining is fancy times, because you can hand stitch the facing to it invisibly! No top-stitching here! I cut my own bias strips to face the neckline and armholes. I screwed it up the first time I did it, by using the collar fabric, which was a bit stiff, and not very malleable. The next time, I used the soft underlining fabric which worked much better. I also took the opportunity to scoop the armhole lower, as well as scooping the armholes a bit at the front and back too. What confused me about that was I've already made a sleeveless bodice using this pattern before, and it didn't seem to need that! Maybe my body has changed, or it's just the different fabric.

Bias tape armholes!

I didn't enjoy the process of stitching the collar with the binding on top. It was fiddly. I'm thinking next time a facing would be a better option for a neckline like that. Or I just need to get better sewing skillz!

I used an invisible zip, something which I don't have a lot of experience with. It didn't go well. Shall we leave it at that? Haha. I need more practice. It is however, in, and functional. It was just very annoying getting it there!

I didn't bother to pattern match anywhere, and instead of having a centre back seam, I cut it on the fold and placed the zip in the side seam. I had thought of having a keyhole opening in the neckline at the back, but decided against it. I can JUST wiggle my head into it without it, but a keyhole would be ideal. I'll know next time!

I added a pocket... but only to one side, as I didn't want to bother putting one in the zip side. I nicked it from the Sewaholic Cambie pattern!

The hem is machine blind-stitched. This is a great alternative to painstaking hand-stitches! I turned it up and pressed (after getting an awesome person to level it!), overlocked the raw edge, and did the blind hem.

Oops, all that construction ramble distracted me from the fact that I made a dress covered in CATS. It all ties into my plan to dress more ludicrously... I like to have fun with clothes.

Thanks to Joy for taking pics!

And here we have a... some kind of flower. Orchid?

"All I care about is dresses, sorry."

Of course, there was time for more photos:

OMG, isn't Joy's top amazing??

Cat ears, not devil horns by the way!
Joy told me to look serious here, which as I'm sure you know, is very difficult in a cat-print dress.

Much more appropriate:

Also, bonus lady in the background who probably thought we were crazy. Which is accurate I suppose!
So, would you ever wear a novelty print dress? This is my first one, and I believe it was a great life decision. More please!