Tuesday, February 17, 2015

McCalls 6319 Dress Times Two

Another repeat of a favourite pattern.  I have a trip to Australia coming up to see friends and family and I wanted to make some new things for it.  Although it looks like it is going to be warmer in Hong Kong than Aus so I might get more wear out of the cardigan from my last post than these dresses - oh well at least I am getting a head start for summer!

I've made this dress twice before so there isn't a lot more to say.  It is an easy pattern and again I made view A (the white one on the pattern envelope) even easier by leaving off the shoulder zipper and not lining the bodice.  I like the zip detail, I can just never find a nice one in the right length, but even if I added it I don't think I would make it functional, this dress goes on over the head easily.

My last version used a border print so I had to modify the skirt to keep a straight hem, but for these versions I went with the original pattern.  These are size 12, with 3cm length added to the bodice at the shorten/lengthen lines marked on the pattern as it seems a bit short otherwise to get the blousing effect shown.

This version is in a snakeprint jersey which I found at the street market in Sham Shui Po.  It has an ombre effect from pale grey at the top through beige and into a darker brown that is a bit difficult to see in the dressform photos.

This second version is in a very loud swirly print that a friend got me from the fabric market in Shanghai. The fabric is on the thin side so I lined the skirt in a very lightweight sheer knit, it's just enough to make sure the skirt isn't see through (I think and hope!).  I had a go at keeping the pattern broadly matched across the waist seam, more successfully in the back than the front.

I already know that these will get worn a lot, the style and prints make these two really versatile and easy to dress up or down.  This is a knit dress that can easily be made in a few hours, I really recommend it and I'm sure these won't be my last.

Friday, February 13, 2015

McCall's 6844 Cardigan / Jacket

I recently started getting adverts coming into my gmail account along with a message that I could go into my account settings to change them.  When I went into my profile, where I had only input the bare minimum of details, I saw that "based on the websites that I visit" they have decided I am in the over 65's age group!  Well thank you google!  I find it kind of hilarious and also a bit sad that sewing is still stereotyped that way, but I figure over 65's get sent less email adverts than the over 40's so I'm leaving my profile unchanged.


I've previously made view C of this deservedly popular pattern and this time tried out view B, the longer length straight version.

I used a hefty doubleknit for this, slightly unsure how it would work out to be honest, but I love the end result which looks like a blazer, but has all the practical advantages of a jersey cardigan. Plus it is so much quicker and easier to sew than a blazer, I made this in an evening (and I am no speedy sewer).

While flitting around the internet (looking at sites suited to 65+ ladies naturally!) I found this similar looking Donna Karan jacket made from a stretch linen blend (and costing 1,335 pounds, though that does include the leather belt!).

Again I made the small size, although I did add a little extra to the side seams below the waist and also to the width of the arms as my heavy fabric has less stretch.  I had a bit of fabric left over so I made a tie belt in case I want to go with a different, more casual look and of course there is the Donna Karan option of a proper belt.

I have one small tip to share - often when I am sewing a corner I do not trim off the seam allowances, but instead press them in the shape of the corner, then hold them with my fingers as I turn the fabric right side out.  The seam allowances kind of fill the shape of the corner and I get a much better result than trimming.  The photos below show this on bottom edge of the neckband.

I often wear a blazer jacket with jeans, either dressed up with a dressy top or dressed down with a tshirt and I think this knit jacket is going to be a favourite, I'll definitely be looking out for more jersey like this so I can make it in more colours.  Colours that are easier to take photos of.  I've had to really adjust the exposure in these so you can see the jacket which has done weird things to my skin, don't worry I am ok!


With tie belt

With leather belt

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sewing for Men - Thread Theory Jedediah Shorts

It was my husbands birthday soon after Christmas (30th December, such a pain!!) and as we were going to be in Thailand on a big family holiday and buying shorts in winter is almost impossible I decided to make him some as a gift.

I tried a new to me pattern company that specialises in menswear sewing patterns.  This pattern looked to have a modern cut, had good reviews and was available as a pdf, because of course I had left it late to get started.

Thread Theory Jedediah Pants

Link to Thread Theory Jedediah Sewalong

I wanted these to be a surprise so I had to wing it on the sizing.  Going through my husbands wardrobe was no help at all, he has shorts in size 30, 32 and 34 so I made 2 pairs - a 32 and 34.  Our family trip included my father in law, 2 brothers in law and 4 grown up nephews so I figured they would fit somebody!

Actually they both fit my husband quite well, when I asked for some feedback all I got was "one pair is closer fitting than the other".  This was not news to me!  Further investigation only yielded that the looser ones are better for doing activities in, the smaller pair are smarter and which he prefers depends on whether he's having a fat day or not!  So I can't give you much advice on sizing but I think if I make them again that I will go with the larger size.  The image above makes the red ones look much bigger, but there isn't a huge difference between the 32 and 34, really hard to get them to lie flat so this isn't very scientific.  I deliberately made the larger, red ones a bit longer.

The instructions are pretty good and there is also a sewalong on the blog.  The only change I made to the pattern was to straighten off the legs a bit instead of having them slightly tapered and shortened them and left the hems plain instead of cuffed.

I deviated a bit from the instructions when it came to finishing the waistband.  The instructions have you fold the waistband back on itself, tuck as much of the shorts out of the way and machine stitch.  It's a bit tricky, but is well documented on day 7 of the sewalong if you want to do it properly.  However I copied some RTW trousers of mine and simplified it by serging (instead of binding) the exposed waistband edge, folding it in by the zipper before topstitching the waistband, it's not at all bulky and is easy to do.

This is how Thread Theory's look on the inside compared to mine which you can see on the inside views.

Monday, January 12, 2015

BurdaStyle 04/2011 - 118 Top

I had some scraps of polka dot jersey left over from my Style Arc Marita dress, too small to do anything proper with, but too big to just throw away also so I decided to make a top using plain black as a contrast.

Somewhere in my mind I remembered this pattern though it took a while to track it down, it's from the 4/2011 issue of Burda.  It was the colourblocked dress I remembered, but I used the top pattern.

With it's batwing (or are they dolman, is there a difference?) sleeves, it is a bit 1980's, but I am lacking in long sleeve tops and this is super quick and easy to make.

It should be possible to whip this top up in about an hour, but I ran into problems with the overly wide neckline.  Much as I am a fan of Burda I often have problems with their necklines being too wide or low, I should know better by now, but I didn't realise until I tried on the top quite how wide the neck was - on me it was ridiculous and only just balanced on the edge of my shoulders!

I messed about with adding a neckband but that didn't look right so in the end opted for the quick fix of changing the shoulder line as you can see from the row of pins in the photos below.

The original neckline is just turned and stitched, but after making the change above I found it difficult to get a nice finish at the corners so I faced the neckline with a strip of the jersey instead and topstitched that down with a twin needle.  The hems are just turned and twin needled.

The only other change I made was to shorten the sleeves because my scrap piece wasn't wide enough.  I could have added contrast bands, but just wanted to get it finished after the neckline hoo ha so I have 7/8 sleeves.  The original pattern sleeves are very long, I'd have needed to shorten them in any case.

So, it took much longer than it should have to make this simple top, but I like how this turned out.  It's a good pattern for using up smaller pieces of jersey, just beware of the neckline width.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

BurdaStyle 08/2014 - 132 Knit Top and BurdaStyle 03/2014 - 115 Jeans

Happy New Year!  I started drafting the next few posts before Christmas so there won't be any end of year round ups or resolutions from me, I'm just going to keep rolling on!  However as a New Year special it's 2 garments in one post today.

First up - BurdaStyle 08/14-132 Top

I'm always drawn to knit tops with a bit of detailing and Burda often have these kinds of patterns in their magazine.

This one is from the August 2014 issue and is really straightforward to put together.  It is however quite oversized so I would recommend going down at least a size if not two, I cut my usual 38 and took in the side seams, including the sleeves by around 2 inches each side and it is still loose.  You can see from the line drawing though that it is quite boxy so I think it is supposed to be this way, but I found the waist pleating to be way below my waist as well.

Kristy made this in a ponte knit and took it in even more to get a much closer fitting top.  My knit is very lightweight so I have stuck with a drapy tunic style this time (also my pleats would disappear into the side seams if I took it in anymore).  It's fine, there is definitely a place in my wardrobe for this kind of top, but if I made it again I would try and add a bit more waist definition and raise the line of pleats up higher.  It does however work well with skinny pants which is good because I also made some of those....

BurdaStyle 03/2014 - 115 Five Pocket Trousers

I found some stretch fabric on one of my recent trips to Sham Shui Po, it was very cheap and has a faux suede texture with a sort of croc pattern on it and it immediately said skinny pants to me.

I went through my more recent Burda magazines and picked this classic jean style pant which also happens to be the illustrated sewing course in the March 2014 issue.

Given the fabric was so inexpensive I didn't bother with a muslin, I started with a size 40 and added extra seam allowances at the sides so I could tweak the fit later, Burda's pants draft does seem to fit me quite well so this seemed a good place to start.  I ended up taking the waist in quite a bit at the sides and centre back and trimmed the outer legs down till I got the fit I wanted.  Learning from my last pant making experience I redrafted a curved waistband and facing instead of the straight strip.

The instructions are pretty good, even for the fly front.  I tried to get clever though and catch my belt loops in the waistband which was all well and good until I realised that I then couldn't topstitch the waistband.  Oops, I don't intend to wear these with the waist showing, but the topstitching would help give the waistband more structure.  Next time I will follow the instructions!

You can see I really struggled to get these to lie flat or get the right light for photos, but the end result is exactly how I pictured them in the fabric store and while black skinny pants will go with many things, I really like them with my new top.