Thursday 24 July 2008

Saffron Safari Jacket Finished

I know - - - about time too!

My blog title - sewing gallery - has not been very appropriate of late. It's rather less of a regular gallery and more like one of those modern art installation with a big empty room containing a small and useless object artfully arranged in the middle of the floor. But all that is going to change soon I hope - from August I will only be working 3 days a week so I will have a whole extra day to get some pieces hanging up in my gallery.

Let's start now - here is the final jacket. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

The only changes I made to the original pattern (shown below in case you need a refresher as it's been so long in the making) were to add a lining, omit the pockets and shorten the jacket by around 4 inches. I left off the top row of buttons since I will only ever wear this jacket with the collar open. I also only did one row of topstitching instead of 2 because I misinterpreted the instructions at the beginning and once the seams were enclosed I didn't want to go back and fix that.

Amazingly, with the other pieces I have completed recently I have created an accidental mini wardrobe :

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Instant Gratification Project & SSJ Saga

OK, well not quite an instant project, but pretty fast for me. I decided against a jersey dress in the end and instead made something I can wear with the SSJ. Radical idea hey!? One of the cotton prints I bought recently at Spotlight matches the jacket perfectly and I decided I wanted to make a simple a line skirt. I probably could have drafted one myself, but I went through my folder of BWOF line drawings and found this pattern - BWOF 03/2008-105.
There is very little to say about it that you can't see from the photos and line drawing. It is super easy and the fact that it has a faced waistband, centre back zip, back darts and side front panels makes it really easy to fit too. It could have gone horribly wrong - I looked at the instructions after cutting out and saw that it is for stretch fabrics, but it worked out fine with no stretch. I will definitely be making this one again and the pattern will work for summer and winter fabrics. Theres also scope for adding piping, topstitching and different belt details. The magazine photo is not desperately exciting and even Burda, not known for their restrained vocabulary basically says it is a boring pattern ("The cut of this skirt is rather unspectacular..........."), but it's a great basic.

For this version I added a China silk lining as the fashion fabric is a bit see through. I bought a gold ring fastening in a local market to use on the belt feature. The pattern has you add buttons to hold the folded back ends of the belt in place, but I just topstitched, hopefully the ring will survive in the washing machine. The pattern has pockets in the front panel seams but I left these off on the basis that I don't need them.

So in case anyone is hanging on waiting for the SSJ Great Pocket Decision here is what I decided to do. Firstly, taking photos was hugely beneficial, I think it helps you to view the garment more objectively. When I looked at the photos I decided that it did need some pockets. Thank you to everyone who commented although I think I had a vote for every option! That is the wonderful thing about sewing, we can all have unique pieces exactly the way we want them.

Anyway then I had my second radical idea of the week - thinking about what I would actually wear with this jacket (a-line skirts and my TNT pants mostly). After lots of trying on and pinning various hem and pocket combinations I decided to significantly shorten the jacket and omit the pockets. I think it looks really cute and this shape will work better with the garments I'm planning on wearing it with.  Still finishing it off, stay tuned for the next post.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

SSJ - slow and steady progress

Did I really write a few posts ago that I was ready for a challenging project? Did I really write that the instructions for this jacket were pretty good? I must have had mild hysteria from waiting for my serger.

It's been a while since I made anything with a notched collar and it took me two goes before I was happy with how it turned out. Then I reached the instructions for the "bellows" pockets and really came unstuck, they just aren't making any sense to me. However I'm not sure it matters because I may leave them off anyhow - I don't really need extra bellows on my hips thank you! I suppose I could make them as patch pockets - in the photos below I have pinned the pockets on so you can get a rough idea how it will look with and without pockets - any views on which is better (I know it's hard with the hastily pinned on pockets and rushed photos) - none, patch or the original "bellows"?

I wish I had more dedicated blocks of time to spend on this project - just having the odd hour here and there during the week makes it feel like it is taking forever and I still have to add beltloops, buttons, buttonholes, hem and lining. And decide on those pesky pockets.

Of course there is also the fact that I want to put my new serger through it's paces and a lined jacket is not going to do that. I have threaded and tested the new toy and love it so far, I think I will whizz up a jersey dress or top from a pattern that I have made before this weekend so that I get the chance to use it and satisfy those instant gratification urges I am feeling.

It probably sounds like I am unhappy with the jacket, but actually as soon as I had made the sleeves I totally fell in love with it - the pleated detail is lovely - here is a close up photo.

Saturday 12 July 2008

It's here, it's here!

Well maybe I did scare the Spotlight salesman (Carolyn, your comment made me laugh out loud) because this morning (Saturday) I received a call from a Chinese delivery guy - the only word we could both understand was Spotlight and sure enough a couple of hours later my serger has just arrived.

Now I just have to turf the cat off and go and play!

Friday 11 July 2008

Retail Therapy & Saffron Safari Jacket Progress

Following on from my previous post I did indeed take advantage of the 20% off Spotlight sale to buy a new serger. Clearly they just aren't really in demand here in HK so I had a choice of only 2 models - a Brother and a Janome. In the end I went with the Brother 3034D since my sewing machine is also a Brother and - dare I type this and jinx myself - has been a fantastically reliable machine. It's purchased now so if you have any horror stories or are big Janome fans please don't tell me! After finally making my decision the salesman told me it would have to be ordered and would take a month. I think a wounded noise came out of my mouth because he looked very worried and asked "is it urgent?" Well of course it is - don't these people understand anything!?! However today I got a call and it is being delivered on Monday, so I am pretty happy now.

Spotlight (which is I guess an Aussie version of Hancock's?) hasn't been open here for long and it is really inconvenient to get to, so having trekked out there I also filled up my shopping basket with lots of notions and some fabric sneaked in there too.

Speaking of Aussies, Vicki and her sister Cheryl were visiting Hong Kong last week and we managed to meet up twice, once in my lunchbreak and again last night for a few drinks and a bite to eat. Seriously if anyone is ever shopping over here these are your girls, they know everywhere to go and really make the most of the time - Vicki's blog is well named! It was fabulous meeting up with them, really more like catching up with old friends, so thank you Vicki & Cheryl for taking time out of your holiday to get together with me - see you in Australia soon! Vicki has a photo because I of course forgot my camera. You know what else - they both look so young and I have (optimistically) decided the secret to eternal youth is shopping, sewing and the odd glass of champagne. Consider yourselves all enabled!

Finally I have made some progress with my saffron safari jacket (let's call it SSJ) - this is BWOF 04/2008-107. Interestingly it is designed for petites and based on measurements I did not need to make any adjustments, just cut a 19 (basically a petite 38). This is something Marji suggested a while back when I made a BWOF jersey dress where the neckline originally ended up near my waist, so thank you Marji, I think you are spot on and I may need to make petite adjustments to some patterns in the future. So far the drafting is fabulous and after trying a Patrones even the instructions are pretty good. Of course I have all the fiddly details still to come. Here are some progress shots.

Monday 7 July 2008

Sewing bits and pieces

I think my serger has finally given up on me, I can change the needles and thread and get a few seams out of it, but that is all before I have to go through the whole process again which is somewhat frustrating! I've been thinking about getting a new one for a while and at the weekend received a flyer for Spotlight promoting 20% off everything on Wednesday so I will toddle over there after work and treat myself. I'm pretty excited about getting a new machine.

Having no serger has messed up my sewing plans though, so instead I have been doing lots of tracing and preparation. Here's what's in progress;

1) Another version of Butterick 5186, in a brown rayon fabric, more casual than the black silk one I made recently. This will be really quick to finish up once I have a working serger to clean up the inside seams.

2) I'm trying out my first Patrones pattern, dress 15 by Laserre from issue 266 (the red dress on the top right here). (Thank you to Christina who identified that the Russian site has the best photos). The original dress is a formal 2 layered silk dress, mine is in a summer print so it looks completely different. Just cutting this out was a huge challenge since Patrones is in Spanish and I don't speak a word of it. Here it is just pinned on the dressform, I'm liking how it is turning out.

3) Finally the BWOF 02/2008-107 safari jacket is all cut out and ready to start sewing. I think the colour is more saffron than burnt orange now so Saffron Safari it is!

Finally thanks to the wonders of the internet, I am really excited to be meeting up with Vicki (HongKongShopper) tomorrow who is living up to her blog name and is currently in Hong Kong for a week of shopping. We are meeting up at Western Market, a fabric paradise in Sheung Wan. Just for a look you understand....