Tuesday 23 December 2014

Style Arc Marita Dress

I've made this before so I won't repeat myself by talking about the construction - my original post is here.  It is a really quick to make dress that looks a lot more complicated than it is (oh, I just saw I wrote the same thing last time!).

Now that I've worn it a lot I can definitely say it is most successful in lightweight jerseys, which to be fair to Style Arc is what they suggest.  This is a polka dot print ITY jersey and is ideal for this dress.

I found on my previous version that the cowl neckline has a tendency to show the wrong side of the fabric so for this one I extended the cowl facing, not really understanding the pattern so the facing is asymmetrical and a right mess on the inside, but it seems to work!

Sunday 7 December 2014

BurdaStyle 10/2014 - 101 Dress

Well it looks like the sequin cardi is a hit, must be that sparkly time of year!  In case I have inspired any similar makes, Nancy asked a good question in the comments about whether the sequins bother me at the neck.  To be honest I hadn't even thought about that, my sequins really are tiny so I think it will be OK when I wear it for more than 15 minutes!  I guess a solution would be to bind the edge with something or try the other pattern I featured and make the collar band in a plain fabric, could look fabulous, sort of like a tuxedo look!  Carolyn recently made the short version of 6844 with a contrast pleather band for example.

Back to todays post....

This dress is a bit of a departure to the shape I've worn lately, but I like trying new things and this pattern appealed to me - at least the line drawing did.

Burda showed two versions of this pattern, one in a lovely ombre matellasse fabric which let's face it is all about the fabric that I have zero chance of finding and one in fabrics that look like they were pulled out of the stash while blindfolded!  Still, at least we can see the pattern lines in the fashion photo.

The latter put me off doing full on colour blocking, but I still wanted to mark out the different sections somehow.  I decided to add rows of topstitching in matching thread.  After the first couple of panels I felt it was a bit too subtle and that I was wasting my time, not to mention thread, but the thought of unpicking anything was worse so I soldiered on.  I'm glad I did, once the pieces were put together they looked much better and I like the sort of sporty look it gives the dress.

I used a cranberry doubleknit fabric for this dress, you don't need such a stretchy fabric although Burda does say fabrics with some stretch are ideal, I think either works.  Since I added horizontal topstitching on the hip yoke I decided to keep the zipper to avoid popping any stitches.

It proved to be really difficult to photograph this dress, the colour reads as a bright red and it was hard to capture the details.

Doing all the top stitching was boring and quite time consuming, but other than that the dress went together pretty easily.  Those inset corners can be a bit tricky, but if you take your time, mark the fabric properly and use a friendly fabric they should be ok.  This pattern is the illustrated course for the month so the instructions are detailed, I always do my inset corners in two stages, stopping and starting at the corner rather than trying to pivot the fabric, Burda suggests the same method.

The end result is a really comfy and cosy dress in a cheery colour perfect for gloomy chilly days.

Saturday 6 December 2014

McCall's 6996 and 6844 Cardigans

I am probably the last person in the sewing universe to make these popular cardigan patterns.  I couldn't decide which one to get so I decided to try both of them.



These are both great patterns and quick to sew, but the instructions especially for 6844, are awful, everything that the Big 4 get criticised for is here.  I can deal with the fact that the existence of sergers is completely ignored, but given these patterns are for knits, the instructions to ease stitch shoulder seams, staystitch necklines, double stitch seams and gather sleeve caps are all just unnecessary time wasters that won't produce better results.

So here are the versions I made, largely ignoring the instructions naturally though these are so striaghtforward to put together that there isn't a lot to say about the construction.  I have a horrible cold so don't be alarmed that I look like a ghost, I was determined to get photos this weekend whatever.

This is the simpler of the two cardigan patterns so I chose this one for two busier pieces of sweaterknit in my stash.

This black sequin number in view A will be ideal for those casual events when I want a bit of sparkle.  The sequins were small enough that I didn't use any special techniques, just cut, sewed and serged like any fabric.  It did make an almighty mess though!

The second Missoni-esque version is in the view B longer length,I love the colours in this this fabric : teal, brown, taupe.  I need to make some coordinating tanks I think.  I used the sleeve notches to match the pattern.  It is quite a floaty fabric though and might have been better suited to the more substantial 6844 pattern.

I think the banded 6844 is the better pattern, there is a bit more to it and the collar band gives it more structure so it can substitute a jacket.  I made view C (sorry peplum haters!) in a teal doubleknit.  Interestingly there are two photos of this version on the website, one belted and one not and the description states that the cardigans do not meet at centre front which I find a bit confusing, it just depends how you wear it.

I went down a size to a small based on reviews - the fit is fine except in the arms which are pretty narrow on me and in my doubleknit fabric.  I like the look, but it means I won't be layering this over another sweater.

I had trouble attaching the collar band, the layers kept shifting as I tried to sew them so I removed the interfacing that was preventing the band facing from stretching with the collar band and then it went in perfectly.  Perhaps with a softer fabric the interfacing is needed, but my doubleknit has enough structure by itself.

These are all great additions to my winter wardrobe and I am sure I will be making more and trying the other options soon, especially as they are so quick and easy.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

BurdaStyle 08/2014 - 120/121 T Shirt with shoulder pleat

It wasn't so long ago I would have thought making a white t shirt instead of buying one to be bonkers, but increasingly I find they are either made from poor quality see through material or they are expensive.  So when I found some decent white jersey at a great price I picked some up.

Still I couldn't make myself make a plain white t and wanted something with a bit of interesting detail - enter BurdaStyle 08/2014 - 120 / 121.  I made a mix of the 2 views, the curved hem from 120 with the short sleeves from 121.

I really enjoyed making this, the drape detail and back shoulder seams are great details.  However wearing it, the extra fabric in the drape tends to distort the neckline as you can see below and even on the dressform now I look at these pictures, which is a shame.  (Or perhaps I stretched it out while sewing?)  Maybe this is one t shirt that would benefit from a more lightweight fabric.  Oh well, it's a white t shirt, it will get worn!

Friday 7 November 2014

Burda Style 05/2013 - 103 twist top

Generally when I see fabric I have a vague idea what I want to do with it, even if it's only the type of garment.  However I also have a bit of a magpie tendency and will pick something up simply because it is pretty or unusual.  The places I shop for fabric here are cheap enough that taking a bit of a risk is not going to break the bank.  (Incidentally next time I go fabric shopping in the best place in HK - Sham Shui Po, I will document my favourite shops and do a post on it.  I'm also more than happy to meet and shop with anyone visiting, please just drop me a note!).

Anyway that was the case with this thin burnout jersey, once I got it home I wasn't sure how to use it, there is a lot of transparency and underlining would be tricky because it is so drapy.  Finally I decided to try this Burda top which is designed to be worn layered.  I will grow out of twist tops one of these days....

This is a very simple top to put together especially if you have made a twist style before.  I think it is a good use of this fabric but I must admit I am tempted to fuss with this top a lot when I am wearing it.  It's a very deep neckline which shifts around and the lower wrap layer has a tendency to hang down.  The best solution would be to add retainer straps at the shoulder seam to wrap around the straps of the camisole under layer to deal with the first problem and to just get used to the second!

Thursday 6 November 2014

Catch Up and Blog Hop

Well I've had an awful few weeks, can you believe my other cat, Barney, got sick and also had to be put to sleep.  We estimate he was around 18 years old which is great going for a cat, but the timing is terrible and I have been incredibly upset about it.

Barney in his younger and fatter days, RIP my friend x
I've just returned from a fitness retreat weekend in Koh Samui, Thailand (thank goodness for all the workout gear I managed to make recently!) which proved to be a good tonic and I hope I can move on now.  All in all 2014 has not been a great year and this has definitely showed in my blogging and sewing output and quality - while doing something I love should provide comfort it seems that I need to be in a place where I can properly focus and enjoy the process.

There are worse places to do a workout!

Fabric shopping in Hong Kong (where I live in case you don't know!) is another matter though so I am all set to welcome the return of my sewing mojo.  On that note "couture a la mode" asked where my print workout fabric came from - this is not helpful I'm sure, but it was from the fabric stalls on Ki Lung St in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong.  It's total pot luck what you will find and tends to be mill ends so you have to get it while you can, that one has already gone I'm afraid.

Before I get on and post the things I have made this seems a good time to respond to the meme that is going round (or gone by now!) on blog writing and reflect on the process a bit.  I was nominated by two bloggers I follow - Tia Dia at Mezzocouture and Elle from He Cooks She Sews.

What am I working on now?

Right now I am just finishing up more Fehr Trade workout gear and have traced a dress - Burda 10/2014-101 and pulled fabrics for a bunch of cardigans.  The weather here is starting to cool down so I am thinking about garments for fall, but with a summer holiday planned over New Year I want to make some resort wear too.  Be warned my blog will be all over the place in the next few months!

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

I'm not sure it does really, I'm certainly not trying to be different, teach, or to monetise my blog.  I focus on the finished product with a few details here and there if I think it might be useful. I mainly use Burda magazine patterns with a sprinkling of Vogue designer patterns.

Why do I write what I do?

I remember when I first discovered Pattern Review years ago, 10?, I loved seeing other interpretations of patterns.  From there I found sewing blogs which I loved even more because you could get to know the personality and style of the sewer behind the blog a bit.  After a few years lurking around I decided I wanted to give a bit back to the community and my little blog was born and I started commenting ang getting involved on a small scale.  Through this and despite living a long way from most of the bloggers I follow, over the years I have been lucky enough to meet many fellow sewers which has been fantastic.  On a more practical level, thinking about the blog post is in the back of my mind while I sew which I think helps me when I am problem solving or find something particularly brilliant - or stupid!

How does my writing process work?

Ah, I started answering that above! In addition, I might take photos mid construction, otherwise it's usually all about the finished garment.  While I don't use a template, my finished garment posts tend to all have the same basic structure - I am not a creative writer at all so this helps me get off the starting blocks.  The post title is always the pattern name or number, there is always a picture and link of the pattern and photos both on the dress form and on me.  My photography skills are down there with my writing skills so this last step is what always holds my posts up, but I think it is invaluable to show most garments on a body, I certainly appreciate it in other blogs.  Then I slot the words in around that, sometimes I will have jotted down some notes while I was sewing, other times I refer to the mid construction and detail photos to remind me of key points I want to get across.  

In summary it's just "I made this and here it is, I do/ don't like it"!  Thank you all for reading it and making me feel a part of this great internet community.

Friday 10 October 2014

BurdaStyle 07/2014 - 114 Top & Fehr Trade Duathlon Capris /VNA Top

Not the snappiest of titles, but I like to go for descriptive!

Immediately after writing my last post stating that I was back and had lots to post, events conspired against me.  Firstly my camera had to go in for repair which took a week and the repair centre also happened to be located right in an area where huge numbers of pro democracy protesters had gathered causing several major roads in HK to be closed.  They are still closed, but the number of protesters is dramatically lower and it is possible to get around, just takes an age.  Then would you believe soon after I had picked up the camera, Google decided to disable my account due to suspicious activity.  I never found out what happened, but today I was able to reset my password so finally finally I can get going.

First I'm going to knock out 4 garments in one post, they are 2 workout sets, although they don't have to be worn as sets necessarily.

This is the Fehr Trade VNA top and Duathlon capris, both of which I have made before and reviewed in more detail here.  The fabric is a panel print so I wanted to utilise both parts - the crazy coloured bit and the black and cream section.  It's a slightly thinner fabric than I like to wear at the gym (TMI, but I sweat a lot and the wet t shirt look is not good on me!) so I underlined the whole thing with some powernet.  I thought it might be too hot, but I've worn it a couple of times and it works well.  Maria bought the same fabric when she visited recently so it will be interesting to see what she does with it.  I still have some left so I can copy her anyway!

I lengthened the VNA top following the instructions included in the pattern.  The shaping and point at the back means that you can't just add onto the hem so I appreciated that the method was included.

For the second set I started with another pair of Duathlon capris, I ended up taking in the pair above enough at the side seams that I decided to cut a size small for these.   

The top is BurdaStyle 07/2014 114 and although not specifically a gym top the magazine showed it in a sporty section and I liked the colourblocking so decided to give it a try.  

I made my usual Burda size 38 and it went together really easily.  The drafting is excellent and even the instructions are pretty good so you get a nice finish on the v neckline.  But.....

I think you can immediately see the problem I had with this pattern!  Now I really don't care if a bit of my sports bra shows when I am working out, but this was ridiculous!  I often have this issue when others don't so I think I have a short upper chest, but it's something to watch out for if you make this pattern.  I was really happy with the rest of the top though so I just stitched on a kind of modestly panel at the neckline.  

Here is the inside view of the modesty panel, you can see I did a rather slapdash job, but I cut a scrap of fabric, hemmed the top edge, pinned it in place before topstitching the whole neckline and then trimmed away the excess.

I wasn't going to post photos of me wearing this stuff, but I always find it invaluable on other blogs and reviews so here you go.  Bear in mind I decided to do this on Friday evening 15 minutes before I'm supposed to be leaving the house so this was a real rush job, probably the best way in retrospect, don't think about it, just do it!