Saturday 27 December 2008

Two knit tops to round off the year

Oh gosh where did the time go? I hope you all had a very happy Christmas - certainly a very white one for lots of you by the sounds of things.

I am still plodding along with the jacket so thank you for the encouraging comments! However I wanted to make a couple of quick tops before the end of the year, so with the bargain knit fabrics I bought recently I tried two new BWOF knit patterns. Both are black so I have lightened the photos so you can see the details.

BWOF 11/2006 - 116
This is made from cotton sweatshirting. It's incredibly quick and easy to make. The collar is cut on so you need to be aware that the wrong side of the fabric will show. My fabric was ribbed on one side so I turned my seam allowances outward and serged and zig zagged for a sort of coverstitch finish to make it look intentional (it wasn't!). I normally avoid sweatshirts as they make me look like a shapeless blob but the shaping and fit on this one are great. If you have this issue and are wanting to justify all that cupboard space the back issues take up I highly recommend trying it out.

Edit : Thanks to Melissa who has pointed out that Burda have released this pattern as 7890 in case you don't have the back issue.

BWOF 11/2008 - 103A
Another fairly simple top, provided you make sure that you sew your front bands to each other at the centre front to make one band rather than trying to attach them separately like this ninny did at first. You can see from the magazine photo that the neckline on this one is very low so on a less model-like figure (especially post Christmas!) I knew this would be far too low without some alterations. I raised the neckline and also took the shoulder seam in - probably at least 2 inches in total in the end.

I've found it so interesting reading through everyones reviews of their sewing year. Back in last January when this blog had just started I set some sewing goals - lets see how I did.

1) Keep up with this blog, recording all my projects successful or otherwise. I think it will be interesting to look back over the year and see what I have achieved.
- Well I'm not going to win any prizes for frequency of blogging, but I've definitely kept it up and I've really enjoyed the process.

2) Make a piece each month from BWOF, unless I hate everything in an issue obviously
 - Erm no, I started the year well and it's gone a bit haywire for the recent issues.  To be fair this is because it's been hot here until a few weeks ago and I just can't get excited about making fall/winter clothes when I am wearing summer dresses.  Here's the rollcall for 2008;
Jan - 3 patterns.  120 blouse, 116 wrap top, 127 pencil skirt
Feb - 3 patterns.  113 dress, 117 coat, 103 dress
Mar - 2 patterns .  105 skirt, 117 blouse
Apr - 2 patterns.  107 jacket, 116 dress
Jun - 2 patterns.  121 skirt, 105 shirt
Oct - 1 pattern.  114 top
Nov - 1 pattern.  103 top

3) Make something, anything, from the Patrones magazines my Spanish sister in law has been kindly sending to me.  
 - Well I've got my feet wet by making a few simple patterns, definitely something to build on next year.  Slideshow Link

4) Complete a co-ordinating summer mini wardrobe or collection. My sewing tends to be a bit random and while I am not ready for a full blown SWAP this will be a good introduction to better planning.
 - I completed a mini wardrobe for a PR contest this summer and in addition made quite a few summer basics that I've got a lot of wear out of.  In my heart though I know I will always be a bit of a haphazard sewer and I've decided that's OK, as long as I am enjoying it.
I'm off on holiday in Australia tomorrow for a week so let me wish you all a very Happy New Year and a happy and healthy 2009.

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Black Peacock Suit part 2

Black tortoise suit more like. My sewing mojo took an early Christmas vacation and only came back last night so sorry for the total lack of posts here. I think it only returned because I spent the afternoon showing a colleague's wife (who sews, hooray!) around town. We had a great time and I got lots of bargain fabrics, mainly plain coloured knits so I will be playing with those next. They're all in the washing machine right now!

Anyway, the skirt is complete, really happy with this pattern (BWOF 01/2008 127). The panelled front and back pieces make it easy to fit. The only changes I made were to swap the waistband for a faced waist, just because that is my personal preference and to interline the skirt with some leftover silk organza that matched. Why make a simple skirt when you can make a complicated one. Here I am wearing it with the RTW black jacket that will surely have fallen apart before I have got around to finishing it's replacement! The photo is a little dark I'll try and get better ones when the suit is finished.

Edited to add better skirt pics :

The jacket has been giving me lots of problems, all caused by the same thing. This is blindingly obvious to me now, and will be to all of you, especially quilters, but if you apply thick interfacing and canvas to a piece of fabric and then add multiple lines of topstitching, it shrinks! I should have started with bigger pieces and trimmed them after "quilting". I've had to really fiddle with the cuffs and collar to get them to work properly (no fabric left to redo those pieces) and only now is it starting to look like a real jacket. I also managed to find some interesting zips shopping today so I really do hope to get this finished soon. Yeah yeah I know thats what I said in my last post about a hundred years ago.....

The row of pins is marking where the multiple rows of topstitching will start. The instructions have you topstitch the pieces before joining them, but I knew it would be impossible for me to match the lines so I ignored that. Usually I ignore BWOF instructions at my peril so I hope this doesn't come back to haunt me later.

Friday 5 December 2008

Black Peacock Suit

This is my latest project - actually it's more likely that I will wear the pieces as separates rather than a suit.  I like wearing my brown brocade skirt with brown boots so much that I decided to make a black version to wear with my black boots.  Also my RTW short black jacket is really on it's last legs so I decided a new one was in order.

The skirt is almost complete, I just need to hem it.  I used BWOF 01/2008 127, a panelled pencil skirt, omitting the back welt pockets.  It's a great pattern, I'm sure I will use it again. Here is a picture of the fabric I am using - a black brocade with blue and green peacock feathers.

For the jacket I am using an old BWOF pattern - 02/2004 - 112, a sort of biker jacket.  
I'm making this in black wool with brocade topstitched collar and cuffs.  There is a lot of prep needed for this pattern as it requires all the jacket pieces to have batting applied to the topstitched areas.  I decided to sandwich a piece of canvas between the fabric and fusible interfacing, with the fusible interfacing covering the whole jacket piece.  
For the brocade areas I used a thicker interfacing so these parts are slightly more padded.  Now all that is done I have started topstitching the brocade areas.  

Hopefully it will start to come together quickly now the boring but necessary prep work is out of the way - more soon.....

Monday 24 November 2008

The Pucci Dress Saga

Thank you all for your supportive posts regarding my Pucci print dress - I feel much better now, but trust me the dress did look terrible on me, maybe if I were a foot taller or 30lbs lighter it would be OK. I think you are all right that someone with a small bust would be fine in it. Lindsay T summed it up quite well in her hilarious comment;

"Your dressform looks like Mrs. Doubtfire. Tee hee hee."

So what is the best thing to do after a wadder when your confidence has taken a big knock?  Make something easy? No of course not - I decided to make another Pucci print dress - this time as a surprise for a friends birthday. I know, certifiable aren't I? 

I decided to make the jersey dress from BWOF 02/2008 - 103. 
I love this pattern although I don't know if it would work on me, my friend though is very petite and I am really pleased with how it came out. I was really careful cutting it out to make sure one of the large yellow dots didn't end up in the wrong place!

 This was quite an easy pattern to put together once I had figured out with the paper pattern pieces how the twist part needed to be assembled. The BWOF instructions were quite good except for the first part which read "between the asterisks..." Well there are no asterisks which was exceedingly annoying!

The finished dress

Top detail

Skirt detail (I have no idea how the pattern matched so well - a happy accident!

Twist detail

I also turned my dress into a skirt. I just reshaped the back skirt panel to make it a little less full and used one of the front wraps as the skirt front. I added some elastic at the waistband and a narrow hem and voila - one expensive, simple, comfortable elastic waist skirt. Mrs Doubtfire would be proud. Emilio Pucci, not so much!

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Dress Disaster!

I had such high hopes for this dress while making it and I feel so stupid for not spotting the glaring error earlier. I was making the popular Vogue wrap dress, 8379 in some (admittedly loud) print jersey, really nice fabric.

Here is a picture of the fabric.

Here is a picture of the back of the incomplete dress. So far so good. Now this is a pretty random geometric print and I only just managed to cut all the pattern pieces with the fabric I had - other than cutting the back skirt on the fold in place of a seam, I didn't think about layout at all.

Well I should have. Here is the sad state of the front of the dress - seriously I could not have placed those white bands there if I had tried! It looks even more noticeable on me than on the dressform. The fabric is too good to waste so I'm going to ditch the top and turn it into a skirt, hopefully I will manage not to mess that up.

Sunday 2 November 2008

Wedding Pictures

I was working in Vietnam all last week, only getting back on Saturday so I have really missed my sewing machine. Still, a little break after the marathon wedding outfit is probably no bad thing. Would you believe HK had freakishly warm weather throughout October and it turned out to be way to hot to wear the coat! I carried it around for the wedding and then checked it in over dinner. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble and whizzed up a wrap. Never mind, we have been invited to another wedding later this month so I'll try again! The purple shoes won in the end and matched the bridesmaids outfits!

Next on the list I have 2 jersey dresses planned, I just have to decide which to attempt first;
The very popular Vogue 8379 wrap dress in a grey/purple/black/white Pucci print jersey;

The newish McCalls pattern 5752 in a purple butterfly print silk jersey;

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Finished Halloween Wedding Outfit

These are not the worlds greatest photos, but I am so excited to have finished on time that I couldn't wait! I will try and get some better ones when I am at the wedding on Friday.

To recap;

Coat - BWOF 02/2008-125 in silk dupioni interlined with silk organza and topstitched in a red/brown thread to co-ordinate with the crosswise threads running through the turquoise silk. The coat is unlined so all the seam allowances are turned under and slipstitched to the organza interlining. The coat is unlined and other people have made this very successfully with a Hong Kong seam finish, but since I was underlining with silk organza to minimise wrinkling in my fabric I made use of that. It took an age before I could even start sewing pieces together but was well worth the time, I really love the finished coat. I wish I had taken some photos during construction, it was amazing how it completely changed the look of the coat when adding the topstitching on the hem and also adding in the shirring at the waist.

Top - bodice of dress BWOF 11/2007-125 in silk brocade. This is a vintage inspired pattern and has sleeve gussets at the underarm - pretty tricky to do in a very ravelly fabric I can tell you. I also added a centre front seam and put the invisible zipper in so it opens from the bottom of the garment.

Skirt - OOP Vogue 2218, just a basic pencil skirt - also in the silk brocade.

The shoe obsessed among you may notice that I am having a shoe dilemma. I found the perfect style shoe at Vicki's favourite HK shoe shop - Vickie's! Now if I had got my act together 2 weeks ago they could have made me some in brown and they didn't have any in stock so I bought 2 pairs in completely clashing colours that I know I will wear with other things. I actually quite like both, but please let me have your votes - purple or grey?

Sunday 26 October 2008

Halloween Wedding Coat

The coat of this outfit is BWOF 02/2008 - 117. I've loved all the versions of this that I have seen and have been wanting to make it for ages. It's almost done and I can say that I absolutely love this pattern. Was it the smartest pattern to pick when you have a tight deadline? NO! It's not particularly difficult, but it is incredibly time consuming. I just have some topstitching threads to tidy up and the snaps to attach, but I really needed a break & a coffee so here is a sneak preview. You can see the colours of the silk better in these photos - the topstitching is in the same red-brown that is shot through the silk.

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Halloween Wedding Outfit Update

I've made some progress on my ambitious plans to make a dress and coat to wear to a wedding on Halloween, though I still have a lot to do.

I decided to start with the dress since I figured that would be less time consuming and at least I would be sure of having something to wear. I chose the BWOF dress pattern 125 from 11/2007 issue, but planned to change the skirt to something a bit less puffy.

As usual my "organic" process led me to make a pencil skirt to attach to the dress and finally to a separate top and skirt instead of a dress. I really love this brocade fabric and wanted to be able to get more wear out of it. The skirt looks good with a brown jacket and boots I already have so that sealed my decision. It's an OOP TNT pattern Vogue 2218, I seem to have lost my photo of it, but it doesn't look terribly exciting on the hanger and you'll see it being worn soon.

The dress pattern is based on an original Burda vintage design and I think typically of vintage dresses, has a sleeve gusset piece under the arm. I stitched this part by hand to get better control in these small very triangular areas. The only other changes I made after trying a quick muslin were an FBA, a centre front seam so I could get a nice sharp v there and I also cut wide seam allowances so I could fine tune the fit later. I also put the zip in upside down once I decided it was going to be a top to make it easier to get into.

Sleeve gusset detail

The skirt just needs hemming and the top needs lining and hemming. I know I can get this done quickly and wanted to make a start on the more time consuming coat. I know it should not make any difference what order I sew the pieces in but psychologically it does! I'll show you where I am with the coat next time.

I'd like to give a huge thank you to Melody for nominating me for a blog award. I have no clue how to get the image onto my blog though (no awards for smart blogging for me!). Do check out Melody's blog and fabric store if you haven't already.

Thank you for the comments on my top in the last post, I'm definitly inspired to make the dress after seeing Toy's and Christina's fabulous versions. E asked where I got the brocade fabric - I'm afraid it was from a local store in Hong Kong - Yuen Fat fabrics in Li Yuen Street, Central if you are ever down that way! Avid Embroiderer, I tried to send you an email, not sure if you received it, let me know if not.

Saturday 11 October 2008

BWOF 10/2008-114 Top - in person!

Here is the top on me as promised, not that I am much more presentable today and the photos are rubbishy self timer ones but you can get the general idea and you can see the batwing sleeves which are going to take a bit of getting used to. I think I could lower the neckline a little now I see these photos and I definitely think putting back the missing gathers will be an improvement too.

Yesterday I bought the fabrics for the outfit I'm making for the wedding on 31/10 (Halloween! I'm almost tempted to go in costume...). I am so excited about these I can't tell you, and the photo does not do them justice. I bought some turquoise dupioni for the coat - it's hard to see but it is shot with brown - and some brown and turquoise brocade with birds on it for a dress. I'll keep my blog updated with progress on them, got to get moving or I really will be going to the wedding in a pumpkin outfit.

Friday 10 October 2008

BWOF 10/2008-114 Top

I really like the latest issue of BWOF and felt compelled to make something quick and easy from it straightaway. I plan to make the jersey dress 115 so decided to make up the top 114 to see how the pattern would work for me.
It's really easy to sew, the sleeves are cut on which speeds things up although it does use a lot of fabric, or you need very wide jersey. I had to add a centre back seam to fit the pieces on my fabric, but that worked fine. 

Even the photo in the magazine makes this top look low cut so I knew some adjustments would be necessary. Fortunately this is easy to do - I simply sewed the centre fronts together about 1.5 inches higher than marked. However, this meant that the tab at the empire seam then looked a bit strange so I left it off.  For my dress I may consider raising the empire seam a bit at the centre.

It was only when it was all finished that I thought "hmm why does it look so different to the picture?" and realised that I had totally forgotten to put in the gathers on the lower part of the upper front pieces. Oops! That explained why the sideseams didn't match up very well! Still, it goes to show how easy to make and fit this top is that despite my silly mistake it still works.  

Excuse the wrinkles, and also no pictures of me wearing it yet because I look a complete mess right now, but definitely next time. I do like it although I feel a bit like a cross between Krystal Carrington or a bat wearing it! 

For now you have Lindsay T to thank for this instead. She wanted to see a picture of me twirling my baton. Clearly my parents were not as delusional as me in thinking I was super glamorous and I cannot find any photos. I think this is from my pre baton twirling days, I'm on the left with my kid sister. Don't ask about the outfits, I don't have any answers!

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Patrones Issue 272, 12 Hallhuber Jacket Finished!

Sorry for the lack of postings lately, we've just had a couple of public holidays which you think would leave more time for sewing and blogging, but the opposite seems to be the case.

The jacket is finished, thank you for all your comments. In the end, although I drafted a facing pattern piece, I used Vicki's suggestion of finishing the neck with some spare fabric on the bias because I was really down to a few last scraps, even then I had to have 2 joins to make it long enough. But it worked - here are some pictures.

I do still want to make a purple version of this, but my sewing plans have been distracted by my October BWOF which I just LOVE plus I have an invitation to a wedding at the end of this month and I have been looking for an excuse to make this coat from BWOF 02/2008 for ages....

I've also been tagged by Sandy to come up with 7 random facts, so here goes;
1) I have developed a phobia of boats in recent years, it started with sailboats and has spread!
2) I have 2 cats, one of them is called Piglet because like many HK moggies she has a deformed tail. It looks like a short fluffy stump but if you touch it (which I only recommend if wearing full Kevlar body armour) it is all curled up like a piglet tail. Not that she was named by me.
3) It took me 3 goes to pass my driving test since and since then I have driven precisely twice - once in Spain and once in Canada, both on the other side of the road than I learned to drive. I'm not sure I could find the steering wheel in a car now!
4) I have a degree in Theoretical Physics which has gone the way of my driving knowledge. I can't remember a thing. That Hadron collider thingy that was in the news recently? - made no sense at all!
5) I can't stand milk - not a bad thing with all the recent news about tainted milk from China.
6) When I was a kid I was a member of our town's majorette troupe, I thought baton twirling was just the most glamorous thing ever.
7) I was brought up by my dad and my Nan. She is now 92 and lives in the Uk, it's hard being all the way over here sometimes.

I am fairly sure everyone else has already been tagged so I won't pass it on this time.