Wednesday 30 January 2008

Next project BWOF 01/2008 120 blouse

I've reached a decision on my next project - it's going to be this blouse for the Pattern Review BWOF January sewalong. I'm swapping the long sleeves to the short ones shown on dress 121 though (I'm ever hopeful that this winter is going to end soon!) - the basic pattern pieces are the same so this is an easy change to make.

I traced the pattern last night and maybe it was too late at night but I had lots of difficulty with it. The problems started when I traced a piece from sheet E instead of sheet F and once I spotted that, I had problems finding which lines were for 120 and which were for 121. Hopefully I won't end up with something too weird! I still need to make adjustments to the pattern for an FBA, but that will have to wait for another week until I get back from my trip to Australia.

I'm planning on making this in a white self striped stretch cotton from my stash and will keep an eye out for some trim for the collar and something for the side closure.

By the way I finished off the brown pants last night and will post a separate review for them when I get back, they're going in my suitcase now! See you in a week, sunshine here I come!

Monday 28 January 2008

Butterick 4985 Top - Finished

Here is my completed top/jacket. It's freezing here at the moment (well relatively at least since we don't have any central heating here) and the idea of even trying on this short sleeve top is not fun so the photo of me wearing it was taken rather quickly. I am really happy with the top and am looking forward to wearing it when I go to lovely, hot Australia on Thursday for the Chinese New Year holiday. Here is a clearer photo.

The fabric originally came from Spotlight (the Aussie homeware store) in Singapore last year. The hardest part of making this top was matching the pattern on the fabric. I cut in a single layer, piece by piece, with the centre of the pattern running down the centre front and back of the top. I made no attempt to try and match at the side, shoulder and armhole seams - I think it would be impossible to match everywhere and it was making my head hurt thinking about it! You can see the final placement of the ribbon is slightly different to my earlier little sketch. I decided to keep to vertical lines only, including on the sleeve which gives it a more sporty look than most asian style tops.

I hit my usual problem of trying to find fastenings I was happy with. I considered using some Chinese buttons, but felt it looked too similar to tops readily available in the markets here (nothing wrong with that, but if I am going to the effort of making it, it may as well look a bit different). Finally I settled on cover buttons and I did my best to match the buttons to the fabric they ended up sitting on to keep the closure as invisible as possible (wrinkly photo below). The advantage of doing all that pattern matching means that when I wear this shirt as a jacket, the buttons also sort of match the fabric underneath. I again swapped the sleeve of the pattern to Vogue jacket 8331 which keeps the volume without quite as much puffiness!

I really like this pattern, it's very versatile. This is the 3rd time I have made it and I'm sure there will be more.

Thursday 24 January 2008

Sewing update 25/1/08

I generally don't get much time to sew during the week and tend to get most done at the weekend. However I am lucky enough to have a room that I have taken over as a sewing room so I can leave projects out and even if I can only manage half an hour in the evening it's better than nothing. So this week I've been playing with the ribbon trim idea for my top and this is where I am with that at the moment. The ribbon picks out the orange in the print, although it is shinier than I had planned (I didn't want to wait till the weekend to continue with the top so just purchased the ribbon at a store near my office). Actually I had planned on brown ribbon with orange topstitching, but it's good to stay flexible! To dull the shininess of the ribbon a bit I've added multiple rows of brown topstitching. It's going to take a while to do and will test my ability to sew in a straight line, but I like the sort of eastern feel it gives to the fabric.

I have decided that I need to remove the back facing from the pants and recut it. The pattern piece is straight and with the excess fabric that I have taken in at the back waist I now really need a curved back waistband. I was being lazy and thought I could get away with the straight one, but I'm not happy with it. Lesson learnt for the future.......maybe......

Finally, I've ordered a new toy - a gorillapod, which I hope will enable me to take photos using the self timer on the camera without assembling towers of books. It's on it's way so I'll be able to put it to the test soon.

Sunday 20 January 2008

Brown basics update & what next?

The brown pants are coming along nicely, just need to do some hand finishing on the waistband and hem them. The print shirt is cut out and a few seams sewn. I have decided to experiment with strips of ribbon on the vertical seams with contrasting topstitching so I can't get any further with this until I buy some matching ribbon. While sewing I was pondering on what to do next and have a lot of ideas flying round my head at the moment. Maybe writing them down will help me make some decisions;

Looking at my stash, I have a lot of brown fabrics and it might be interesting - and practical to make new garments from these so I end up with some complete outfits, if not quite a mini wardrobe.

I also want to participate in the BWOF January 08 sewalong on Pattern review which will take place in February. I've already made the wrap top 116 from this issue but I also like dresses 113 and 121 and blouses 120 and 125.

Lastly I was looking at the Nordstrom website today and found some gorgeous, inspirational things - this is my current favourite by Armani.
I've seen similar brocade fabric on sale here and I don't think it would be too hard to find a pattern that has a similar look to this kimono jacket style, even a wrap blouse would give a similar look.

Thursday 17 January 2008

Next projects - brown basics

My next 2 projects I'm planning on doing together. They are basic wardrobe pieces that I know I will get a lot of wear out of so although they will not be the most exciting or challenging projects they are the kind of item I need to make now and then. I've made both pieces before so I'm hoping to make quite quick (for me at least!) progress.

First up is a pair of BWOF pants - 2005/10 - 104. I really didn't notice these pants the first time I looked at the magazine, and it was only when I was flicking through my file of line drawings almost 2 years later that I did. The great thing about these pants is that they have seams on the centre front and back legs which, although take up more fabric, makes tweaking the fit much easier since you have more seams to play with. I'm making these in a brown stretch fabric and they are already cut out and the waistband pieces interfaced.

I'm also making a co-ordinating blouse from Butterick 4985. I've made this twice before, both with modified sleeves since the puffed sleeves per the pattern seem to look silly on me. I love the bodice shaping though, and find this works as a blouse and also as a little jacket over a camisole.

Here is a version that I made before and will be copying in a brown cotton print.

So the pants should go with both this shirt and the wrap top that I have just made. Hope to have an update on those soon. 

I'm also rather pleased that I have learnt, with the help of Sigrid (well a comment on Sigrid's blog to be precise, but she pointed me in the right direction) to insert an image. Hooray. I have also learnt that I hate our Mac which regularly just drops connection to the internet for no apparent reason. Thank goodness for autosave on blogger or there would be a laptop shaped hole in my window right now. Off to the sewing room to unwind............

Monday 14 January 2008

BWOF 2008/01 - 116 Wrap Top

Yay I made something from January BWOF in January.  Admittedly it is probably the quickest and easiest thing to make from the magazine.

My resident photographer is in Beijing this week and I could not get a useful picture on my dressform, so with the camera on self timer and balancing on a pile of books (the camera, not me) this is the best I could do....

The fabric is a Missoni inspired print from my recent splurge at Gorgeous Fabrics.  I made my usual size 38 and I have to say it is a little snug even with reduced seam allowances on the sleeves and sideseams.  This is either because
  • Burda have not been as consistent as usual in sizing
  • My fabric is thicker or less stretchy than it should be  
  • I have some post Christmas "baggage" to get rid of
Sadly I think I know the answer!  

Overall it was very easy to put together and the instructions were pretty straightforward too. The only thing I did differently to the instructions was to sew the sleeves in flat and then sew the sleeve and side seam as one.  I also lengthened the ties by around 4 inches.  I think once I have dealt with my little problem above I will be happier with this top.  I love the colours in the fabric which make it really versatile and I like the fact this top has a built in camisole front to make it easy to wear.  I'll post some better photos when I have some.

Friday 11 January 2008

Vogue 8096 Mens Shirt

As I mentioned in my previous post I decided to make my husband a shirt for his 40th birthday which falls at the end of December.  I decided this months ago, ordered the pattern months ago, found some fabric months ago, then life took over and I started making this mid December and finished it in the nick of time.

I have to say the selection of mens patterns out there is pretty underwhelming and I only settled on this one because Vogue had a free pattern offer on so this only cost me the shipping.  Still at the end of the day I suppose mens clothing is fairly standard.  This lack of variation and details that you find in womenswear also means that the construction and sewing really do need to be immaculate.  I'm not saying my work on this shirt is perfect by any means but I think it was a useful challenge that I can apply to my own future projects.

Overall the pattern instructions were very good and the pattern was well drafted.  I made a few minor changes;
  • The instructions as usual offered no suggestions for finishing the exposed seam allowances so I used flat fell seams on the sleeves and side seams.  You can see an example of the finished sleeve seam below.
  • I shaped the side seams slightly to copy one of my husbands RTW casual shirts.
  • I cut the back yoke on the bias because I thought this would be easier than trying to match the yoke seam to the lower back since the lower back has a couple of pleats. However matching the print at the centre back yoke seam was also impossible so I added a small strip of fabric centered on the fabric pattern and topstitched it over the seam to disguise the mismatch a bit.  It's still not perfect but I like the idea of this feature.  
I confess to one big screw up making the collar which I didn't notice until I tried to do up the top button and realised I had cut the collar too big so that it finished at the ends of the collarband (totally my fault) which makes it impossible to button up!  The only way to fix it was to cut a whole new collar and band and by then I had only scraps to work with so the pattern at the collar front does not match as I would like it to - or as it did originally in fact.   I shall console myself with the fact that most people probably won't notice....

Below are some more pictures.  If anyone can tell me an easy way (without having photoshop or an IT degree) to arrange photos please let me know!

We were on holiday on the big day so tonight we are having a party to celebrate here in HK.  My hubby is planning on wearing his birthday shirt, bless him, which I have to say makes me feel incredibly nervous!

Wednesday 9 January 2008

2008 here we come

I'm back from my holidays and desperate to get back into my sewing room this weekend.  For Christmas I got a new lamp which should make sewing in the evenings much easier, my lighting was terrible in there before and probably did my eyes no good.

At the very end of 2007 I -just- managed to complete a shirt for my husbands 40th birthday which very inconveniently falls just between Christmas and New Year.  This was my first attempt at menswear and I am pretty pleased with how I did.  I'll post about this separately when I've taken some more photos.  I didn't want to post about it before in case he somehow read about it - as if he might be surfing around sewing sites!!

So for 2008 my sewing goals are;

  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.
  2. Make a piece each month from BWOF, unless I hate everything in an issue obviously
  3. Make something, anything, from the Patrones magazines my Spanish sister in law has been kindly sending to me.  
  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.