Tuesday 29 April 2008

BWOF 2008-03 117 Top/Jacket

I finally finished my BWOF March project. I have to say that I wasn't feeling too excited about it at the time, but now I have just done my little photo session this top/jacket has really grown on me - despite the awful unflattering pictures taken late at night! (at the risk of sounding like a broken record, my camera has been in the repair shop for a month now, argh!). Anyway I think this is one of those patterns that you need to see on a real person to see how it looks so I'll just put my vanities to one side.....

Part of the problem with making this jacket was my fabric choice, which is a cotton with a bit of stretch in it (you don't need the stretch at all, but I decided I wanted a red one and this was what was in the stash). This pattern would work much better with something a little softer and drapier. As it was I had big problems getting the very curved seams to lie flat and not look puckered - you can probably see that they are not perfect, but I think this is still very wearable.

I absolutely love the sleeves and I was a little nervous whether I would even like them - generally I'm not into anything puffy! I hope this will make me a bit braver to try new details - BWOF is great for these so I have no excuses.

The only change I made to this pattern was to draft a separate interfaced hem facing as I didn't think I would get a satisfactory finish just turning up the hem allowance with my fabric.

I also popped into a local fabric store at lunchtime today and picked up these goodies for some summer pieces, clockwise from bottom left;
- border embroidered cotton voile, 2 yards - skirt or dress, will need lining
- stretch print cotton, 3 yards - dress?
- denim (good to use on either side, the dark side is the reverse), 4 yards. This is wide fabric so should get a few pieces from this - jeans & skirt at least
- print linen, 3 yards - skirt?

I have no idea yet what I'll be making next, we have a public holiday here on Thursday and I'm off on a short vacation the following week so even though I may not get much sewing done for a couple of weeks, I'll certainly be thinking about it!

Sunday 27 April 2008

New Look 6729 knit top

Woo hoo go me, another afternoon, another knit top!  This is another easy pattern, the envelope picture is a couple of posts below.  I made View B, the short sleeved, longer length version with ties.  I love how this one came out, I made a size 12 straight out of the envelope and didn't need to make any fitting alterations.  I think if I wear the top to the office I will put a cami under it, but otherwise it is fine.  I really should have used some clear elastic in the front neckline as this helps to keep this kind of top where it should be, but I have run out and I didn't want to wait!

The only other change I made was to cut an extra set of ties (i.e. 4 pieces instead of 2) so that I could sew them together and turn them right sides out.  the pattern simply has you cut two and hem the edges - since the wrong side will show when you knot the ties and wrap them round your back, I think it is neater to do it my way unless your fabric is particularly bulky.  I also left off the thread chains in the side seams to hold the ties in place, they just don't seem to really be necessary.

Finally I have a sewing with knits tip - do not be lazy and try on the top with pins in the side seams when checking the final fit before permanently stitching.  I did and while I was machining the seams felt my arm stinging and was horrified to look down and see that I had managed to do this!  

Vogue 2980 knit top

One top down!  This was an easy pattern to make, it only took a couple of hours and I am no speed sewer!  The hardest part was choosing which size to make.  This top is one of Sandra Betzina's "today's fit" patterns, so the sizing is not the usual number system but letters A to J.  Based on the pattern envelope I was between a C and a D and when I flicked through a random selection of the many reviews on Pattern Review most reviewers indicated that it was very close fitting so I went with the D.  

As it turned out this was fine through the hips and waist but I found the shoulder and bust area to be a bit large although I was able to fix the front just by taking in the side seams.  The collar is however still a bit too long but I was committed by this stage and really didn't want to unpick it all so I think there is a bit of excess fabric in the underarm area.  The photo and pattern illustration have this too though so I think this may just be the way the pattern is drafted. If I make it again though I will go down a size.  The instructions and illustrations were fantastic I have to say, a real breath of fresh air after BWOF!  Overall I'm pretty happy with the finished top, I'm not madly in love, but I will still get plenty of wear out of it.

Friday 25 April 2008

T shirts, coming soon...

Well last week was a bit of a write off sewing wise, but I have finally got rid of my cold so hopefully something will get done soon.  Laura has been sick too and made a lovely silk blouse. I just felt sorry for myself and only managed to cut out a couple of easy tops;

New Look 6729 in black knit from my stash
Vogue 2980 in the same fabric 
Perhaps I should have held off on cutting them out as today I received my new Hot Patterns, both t-shirts;
 - Weekender sunshine tops
 - Riviera designer knock off t shirts (not the official name of the pattern, but you know the one I mean)

Still there is plenty more fabric where the black knit came from and you can't have too many knit tops.

I've also just about finished BWOF 2008/03-117 and now I have seen Reethi's finished version I am determined to get it done today, so I hope I am posting about that next time.  It's red cotton which reminds me that so far my mission to find the perfect red shoes has been unsuccessful.  I haven't been to the scarily expensive places yet though - of course I am bound to find them there!

Wednesday 16 April 2008

BWOF 2008-04 116 Dress

This is my BWOF project for April's issue (I know, I know - February and March are still in progress). I made this jersey dress;
Although this is a very easy pattern to sew I was slightly worried that it might be a bit narrow in the hips so as soon as I had finished the shoulder seams and finished the neckline I basted it together and tried it on. It was a disaster! The neckline was extremely, indecently low! No one else (well neither Adrienne or Toy) seemed to have these problems with the neckline. It is possible that my lightweight jersey stretched out a bit with the weight of the long dress, but I have had this problem to some degree with the last 3 garments I have made. Excellent - a new figure problem to add to my list! I fixed this in a rather quick and dirty, but effective way and literally took around 3 inches off the front shoulder seam and 2 off the back and restitched the shoulder seams together (with a piece of fusible tape along the seamline for support). 

This changed the shape of the armscye but since the dress has a cap sleeve it was easy to fit in, although my version is now somewhere between a regular and raglan sleeve.  What is that expression about there being no mistakes, just design opportunities?Overall it all worked just fine and I am really happy with how the dress looks now. I used a border print jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics (again!) and used the band placement shown on dress 117 as inspiration for using the border on the sleeves as well as the bottom of the dress. As it turned out that was the only problem and the fit elsewhere was good.

(Those weird lumps on the hips are just where the padding on my dressform comes to an abrupt halt!  Not that the real thing is much better, ha).

Thank you to my lovely enabling readers regarding the need for red shoes. Not that I needed much more encouragement, but they would also go nicely with this dress too so are definitely on my shopping list now. Somehow I seem to have suddenly caught a cold so unfortunately they will also match my nose rather well at the moment too!

Sunday 13 April 2008

Summer Sewing Begins - New Look 6429

Sorry there haven't been any posts all week, I have been holding out for my camera to come back from the repair shop, but still no sign of it so more blurry, hastily taken pictures here I'm afraid.

I have a few projects on the go - it's starting to get warm and humid here now and every year I just never have enough suitable clothes for this season so I am focusing on summer now. I'm in a dress mood at the is the first completed item.

New Look 6429

This is an extremely popular mock wrap dress - there are currently 39 reviews of it over at Pattern Review, and I'm not sure there is any point in adding mine to the list. I made View C (the one in the photo) in some herringbone tweed print jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics (really I do buy fabric from other places too!). The pattern is easy to follow, there are a few different variations of the pattern as you can see from the image above.

It's a very cleverly cut pattern, there are no side seams, the back pieces extend round the front. The only problem I had with this dress was that I found the neckline a bit low so I chose to bind the neck edges, effectively raising them by a seam allowance which was all it needed. This also replaced the facings which are a bit silly in a knit garment - I think most people who have made this pattern have omitted the facings anyway and just turned and stitched.

I usually wear skirts and dresses much much longer than this because I don't really like my legs, but I am getting a bit tired of the same look. So I will slap on the fake tan and will need to wear this dress with sky high heels. That's OK I found 2 pairs in my wardrobe that will work, but I'm thinking I NEED a red pair too!

On a totally unrelated note I relived my teenage years last night and went to see Duran Duran in concert. It was a blast, I had such a good time. Off to sing along in my sewing room now!!

Sunday 6 April 2008

Inspirational Blogs

Following on from my earlier post regarding the Excellent blog award that Vicki (Hong Kong Shopper) nominated me for, I have been thinking about who I should nominate. This award seems to have been very popular so I thought I would simply list those blogs which really inspired me to start my own. I would love to just refer you to the bloglist over on the right hand side there, but I am hopelessly out of date with this now that I have discovered Bloglines so please be aware that I avidly read a LOT more blogs than are listed here.

So onto the original inspirers - I cannot believe there are any readers who don't already follow these blogs themselves, but you never know. In alphabetical order;

Couture et Tricot - Tany
I think the first time I found this blog my jaw fell open (I believe it was the Orwell coat). Tany's work is just impeccable and the detailed step by step photos of her projects in progress are inspiring - even if I know I will never have the patience, never mind the skills to produce anything to this kind of level.
Erica B's DIY style
Erica can take a pattern and show you it's full potential, with tons of style. Sometimes this is made easy (did you see the recent post on the new Hot Patterns - so interesting) and sometimes it takes her vision and knowledge of trends to spot a great "DIY style" pattern. Really Erica should be on the payroll of the Big 4 pattern companies, more patterns would fly out of the door if she was styling the pattern envelopes!
Laura's Sewing Room
Another example of impeccable sewing, what makes Laura's clothes so special and inspiring are the couture details she adds to even the simplest of garments, elevating them to luxury items. The finishing is also so amazing you could almost wear her clothes inside out and they would still look great!
Real Life - Live & Unscripted - Adrienne
Adrienne posts about all kinds of things other than sewing, but whenever I read anything she has written I instantly feel uplifted and energised (or maybe exhausted!). As a photographer she has a great eye for selecting fabric/pattern combinations so the sewing posts are a real bonus too.
Pins and Needles - Summerset
Summerset makes the most incredible wearable art garments using vintage patterns. Her work is award winning and yet she generously posts all her techniques and design processes. Even though this is unlikely to ever be the kind of work that I do there are great ideas to adapt for everyday use and seeing the project come to life through her posts is fascinating.
Sewing Fanatic Diary - Carolyn
The queen of TNT's and Embellishing (both subjects of her recent posts funnily enough), this site is an inspiration for taking great patterns that fit and suit your figure/lifestyle and using those as a jumping off point to creating a stunning wardrobe.

Thank you so much ladies for inspiring me to start this blogging adventure and of course, along with all my other blog feeds, for helping me continue my sewing education. With the latter in mind I also want to bring your attention to Sigrid's blog. Sigrid has just added links to a large number of really useful internet tutorials as well as her own, a fantastic resource. Puts me to shame for not even managing to keep updating my bloglist!

I've also been continuing to sew - I'm working on something from BWOF 03/2008, and I received my April issue yesterday and can't wait to get started on a couple of things from that. More soon!

Friday 4 April 2008

Two Jersey Tops

I finished making Butterick 5185 - the side twist/wrap top. I really like the pattern and will definitely be making it again, however I will need to adjust the neckline next time as it is dangerously low! I'll be wearing this version with a camisole underneath, which is fine. It's very quick and easy to sew, especially if you have made a twist top before. I'm not 100% happy with the sleeves at the moment and may take them off and redo them. I'll try wearing it first and see how I feel then. We all know how it is though, generally if you are not happy with a part of a garment it will drive you crazy until you do something about it - I'm just putting off the inevitable. The colour is more teal than the turquoise it appears to be here.

The second top is another version of BWOF 01/2008 - 116, the wrap top. I cut this out a couple of weeks ago in some printed slinky jersey and as I began to sew it today I started to think that it was not a brilliant pattern choice for the fabric. In particular I thought the ties would not work very well in such a thin fabric and would end up looking too narrow and roll up round my back - not a great look. So I decided to get all experimental, eliminate the ties and fix the wrapover fronts into the side seams. I used my dressform to pin the various layers in place;

First I stitched the shoulder seams, finished the neck edge and the lower edge of the front wrap pieces. Then with the garment inside out on my dressform I decided to gather the top wrapped layer and pinned it in place at the side seam.

Next I wrapped the other front, keeping this one flat and pinned at the opposite side seam.

I hand basted the pieces in place at this stage as trying to pin the front panel layer on top required dexterity I do not possess! Here it is stitched up.

In the spirit of experimentation I swapped the sleeves for the flounced sleeves of Butterick 4985 that I made recently. And voila!

I really like this version, the layers that you can see on the front would look interesting with some kind of trim or embellishment or alternatively you could do the layers in different shades of the same colour. This was a really fun project!

Mega modelling session to follow when I get my decent camera back!

Wednesday 2 April 2008

Firstly a huge thank you to Vicki who nominated my blog for an Excellent Blog award.

I am really honoured, I'm pretty new to blogging and I'm learning all the time so thank you for the encouragement. I did see your blog post, but my name was linked to Laura's blog so I am glad you left me a comment too - how embarrassing would it have been to accept my award only to find you meant another Allison!!! Now I'm supposed to nominate 10 more blogs - I will have to do a bit of research and see which ones have not already been nominated. Oh, and Vicki, next time you live up to your blog name and come over here for some retail therapy you must let me know!

Everyone seems to have been doing some Spring cleaning of their sewing rooms and stashes lately. I have passed on those 2 copies of Patrones , but otherwise my stash has been going in the other direction! Look what I got from Gorgeous Fabrics yesterday. I have a thing about butterfly prints all of a sudden so couldn't resist purchasing the silk jersey and to make best use of the shipping costs I added in a few other pieces and totally forgot what I ordered. So it was a pleasant surprise to see I'd purchased some of the same border print that Adrienne recently used to make her fab dress.

As well as shopping I've even done a bit of sewing - this is a twist on the twist top - Butterick 5185, made up in a lovely weight of jersey, again from Gorgeous Fabrics. Super easy to sew, especially if you have made any one of the popular twist patterns out there. I just have the sleeves and hem to do so I will post about that next time.

I hope I get my camera back from the repair shop soon, boy do I miss it!