Wednesday 28 April 2010

Sewing news, bad news and good news

Sewing News

After the madness of making a mini wardrobe in 2 weeks, it's been a bit quiet on the sewing front and to ease myself back into it I made a simple knit top - McCalls 6078.

I made View A with the cap sleeve, but much as I love the look of the crossover back, I changed it to a plain back as the chances of it falling off are extremely high! I think it would be OK with some strap retainers sewn in? This pattern sews up large, I made a small, ha ha. Otherwise it's an easy top to make, more details in my pattern review.

The fabric feels lovely, but was one of those "oh that's pretty, I'll have it" purchases without really thinking it through and I can't help feeling that the print is a little "old". But that could be paranoia on my part due to my bad news....

Bad News

I'll just spill it - I'm going to be 40 in June - argh, how did that happen, why do I not feel grown up yet? I don't know if anyone in the US pays any attention to this (lucky you!), but my birthday coincides with the start of the football world cup in South Africa and for some reason there are various countdown markers here in HK telling me in flashing neon exactly how many days I have to go. How thoughtful, thanks!

Good News

The good news is that my birthday also coincides with the hubby's business trip. I am going to join him in New York for a weekend and then we'll head off to Bermuda. Woo hoo! I have planned my flight so I have a completely free day on my own in New York on Friday 4th June so if anyone is free to meet for a coffee, lunch, shopping, whatever, I would love to meet up. I plan on packing an empty bag and hitting the fashion district, anything after that is just a bonus birthday as far as I'm concerned.

Friday 16 April 2010

Another version of Simplicity 2497 by Cynthia Rowley

Originally I made the sleeveless version with the ruffle neck in green silk dupioni (see here). (Slapdash Sewist, Trena made a stunning version of this recently, go here if you haven't seen it).

I also like the look of the drawings for the other views so thought I would test it in a remnant of embroidered cotton I had in my stash. I was a little short on fabric so I had to skip the puffy sleeves and just used the sleeve lining piece. I also added a band of plain black cotton around the hem (the pattern is the right length, I just didn't have enough fabric). If I had planned this ahead I probably would have done the neckband in black also but this was whizzed up just before my easter holidays and I was in no mood to do any unpicking.

Since I had made this before I only tried it on in the final stages and found that it was too big on the waist which made it look really frumpy and sad - the cotton has a lot more "give" than the dupioni I used in my first version. If I didn't want to unpick the neckline you can bet there was no way I was unpicking the zipper and waistband so I just added a couple of tucks in the front of the waistband.

Then in an attempt to make it look intentional I sewed some black sequins in the middle of the waistband and inbetween some of the embroidery lines on the neckline - basically until I ran out of sequins. Of course it would have been much quicker to do the unpicking I was avoiding than to handsew all those sequins, but I quite enjoyed doing it.

Despite the sequins this cotton dress will be great for hot summer days, not that it feels like we are ever going to have any. These pictures were taken on my easter vacation which seems a long long time ago!

Thursday 15 April 2010

Final Mini Wardrobe Entry

Done! I think my favourite outfit is the pants and the silk ruffle top, but I am happy with how everything turned out and I think there are a lot of possibilities for extending this wardrobe further into a summer wardrobe.

Speaking of the ruffle top, Carolyn commented that my ruffle looks quite "bouncy" - I think that the edge technique Burda recommended adds a bit of stiffness and makes it that way, I guess different combinations of fabric, thread and stitch dimensions will have different effects.

Anyway here is the composite photo and the individual, more detailed shots, not very imaginative with my poses am I!?

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Burda 07/2008 - 115 Skirt

Yippee the final piece of my mini wardrobe entry is finished!
This is made in a terracotta crepe. To be honest, crepe is not the best choice for this skirt - it's springy texture makes it difficult to get a sharp press on the pleats, but it does drape really nicely - swings and roundabouts I suppose!

While I love the look of wrap skirts, they can be problematic to wear. I am hoping that the side slit/pleats detail will add a decent amount of walking ease and limit any wardrobe malfunctions. We will see when I give it a real life road test, I probably will not be brave enough to wear this out in a typhoon though!

I love the side pleat detail although I had a little trouble understanding the directions so I took a few shots during construction:

(Ignore the fact that my seam allowances are different on the front and back of skirt in these photos, my error, they should both be wider than usual, but I forgot when cutting out the second piece). The right hand line of stitching is the basting holding the pleat in place to be removed later, and the left hand line of stitching is permanent and extends from the top of the pleat to the slit marking.

Remove basting, flatten out and press the pleat as shown below.

Close up of bottom of the pleat - I did manage to press them in with lots of steam and a clapper.

Pictures of me wearing it will follow in my mini wardrobe shoot in a separate post. I just took zillions of photos on what must be the wettest, gloomiest day of the year.

Burda 08/2009 - 117 Top

This is the second top of my mini wardrobe, made up in a silk charmeuse print.

I may not have picked out this print if I had not been forced down a specific colour palette by my other top, but I love it. It has a lot of great colours so I think it will really work in my wardrobe - current and future. One side of the selvedge is extra wide and helpfully has little boxes showing all the colours in the print so I have trimmed this off to take fabric shopping with me. Don't worry I won't be succumbing to bubblegum pink pants, but most of the colours are really workable.

The only change I made to this top was to add two long, narrow ties in the side seams as it is quite a boxy top.

The edges of the flounce are finished with a narrow zig zag which turned out to be a great technique ;

First, straight stitch on the seamline, fold and press. Use a narrow zig zag right on the folded edge of the fabric - experiment with samples to determine the size of the stitch you prefer.

Trim close to the stitching (very carefully!).

View from right side.

I will take some pictures of me wearing it tomorrow when I prepare my mini wardrobe contest entry at the 11th hour no doubt. I just have a skirt hem to finish and that's all the sewing done, but I do find that the reviews and taking half decent photos can take a while so I hope I can get it all done in time.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Half a Mini Wardrobe

I am planning on entering the Pattern Review mini wardrobe contest that is going on - to make 4 pieces to create 4 outfits. The timing isn't great for me so I will be keeping the 4 pieces fairly simple and as such it is not going to be an earth shattering collection, but hopefully the beginnings of a summer wardrobe plan. Always good to have a kick start!

These are the 2 pieces I managed to finish before my trip to the Philippines - the photos were taken at the resort we stayed at, early in the morning before many people were around, but I still felt pretty silly!

Top - BWOF 07/2007 - 122

This was made from a panel print chiffon and this fabric was the inspiration behind the mini wardrobe - as well as black there are some great colours in there, plus a little gold. I had to add a centre back seam to get the placement that I wanted. I also bound the neckline for a neater finish (although I stuck to traditional double folded narrow hem for the sleeves) and used french seams throughout. For the shirred hem, the magazine instructions advise sewing a line of zig zag stitching over shirring elastic, but instead I hand wound the elastic onto a bobbin and used a long length straight stitch which was much faster and worked well. Overall an easy top to make and wear.

Capri Pants - BWOF 02/2006 105A

Black cotton sateen capri's. The wide yoke and centre front and back seams help to get a good fit, otherwise these are very plain which is usually all I want in a pair of pants. I even left off the front buttons. I folded the bottom to create a false cuff and cut a size larger than I needed on the legs (to make sure they would fit my hips rather than any fashion reasons, but actually I like how they ended up). Super easy to sew and with the reliable fit Burda pants are known for.

The other half of the mini wardrobe currently in flat fabric and unknown pattern form;

A skirt in this crepe

And a top in this silk charmeuse

No idea on patterns yet, I will have a look over the weekend.