Thursday, 29 January 2015

Tea for two

When I first started this blog I thought I’d never post any pictures of me in anything other than clothes I would wear out of the house; there would be no underwear pics, no unflattering photos showing ill-fitting issues and maybe I would stick to being headless. Headless and unrecognisable. I’m sure that every blogger out there has toyed with the idea of being headless on their blog. Do we sewists really want hundreds of pictures out there in the ether standing in front of backdrops and walls, looking like something interesting on said wall has captivated our attention? Showing off each and every angle of our latest make? The front, the side, the back, the detail…..

It starts with posting head pics, and then suddenly you find yourself adding an obligatory arse pic in each post. All in the name of sewing! The belfie. Here’s a question: does a picture taken of my arse with a remote and tripod classify as a belfie? Or is a belfie only those bad ones where you take a pic over your shoulder of your arse in the mirror? Did you know some smart arse (haha) has recently produced a belfie stick?  Anyway, I recently reached a level of insouciance when my arse pic was my opening blog post shot. Classy Myra.


So I guess it is time to say goodbye to the line in the sand of pictures I thought I would never post. The tide must have washed away that line, because alas, here is a post full of pictures of me in outrageous pyjamas. What’s more I convinced my sister to pose and feature in this post, all in the name of sewing. And when you put two sisters in pyjamas in front of a camera, things get cray cray.

Trying not to show too much skin while showing off the top of the shorts...


While talking all things cray cray, I admit that on the day these pics were taken, my sister and I decided to try and balance a champagne glass on our derriere's. Kardashian  style. In public! Luckily those pictures will remain in the vault. And before you ask, no, we weren’t successful. Obviously our derriere’s are not as full and perky as Kim’s.

Books are for practicing good posture, aren't they?


So what to tell you about these makes? I decided to make the Grainline Lakeside pyjamas after Amanda sewed up a pair at our recent social sewing afternoon. I picked up enough of this Japanese cotton lawn in Bali with these pyjamas in mind and thought I would surprise my sister with matching pyjamas on an upcoming holiday we had planned. We are both tea crazy so it seemed apt.




I started with my pair of pyjamas and sewed up the pattern unaltered. I measured a 2 in the top and 4 in the shorts, but opted to go for a size 6 in the shorts so that they were a little roomier to sleep in. However, I think I could have gone up another size in the shorts. I did read on various blogs that these shorts run small! What else? I do like the design of the top with its cross over winged back but it has absolutely no shape through the waist and appears a little… umm… maternity?


Winged crossed over back
For my sisters pair I took a good inch or so off the bottom of each side seam of the top and blended this to the current size under the arms. I decided that even with my sisters expanding belly (yep she’s preggers), some of the excess fabric needed to be shaved off. I also went up another size in the shorts and loosened the elastic in the waist band as I wanted to make sure she could wear these under her belly, as well as after the bub was born. & the fabric very aptly has milk jugs on them. I wonder if my sister noticed them?


I’m pretty happy with both pairs. The fabric is a tad cray cray, but hey, they are good for home pyjamas. They’re definitely not sexy lingerie, and I definitely won’t be wearing them around the new bf, but they are perfect for lounging around… and they do make me smile and think of my sis.


Maybe I might make another pair that are more… umm…. adult? Perhaps some without teacups or milk jugs?

Monday, 1 December 2014

A stripey No-Co

With the onset on warmer weather, I decided on a whim that I needed some lightweight summer dresses. I thought about the patterns I had and decided finally on a mish mash of the Nettie and the Coco. The Nettie is sexy, but it is made with negative ease and is tighty tight… and that’s not what I want on a hot summers day. The Coco on the other hand is a little roomier, but I wanted it a tad more fitted, and with less of a drastic A lined skirt. My No-Co (as in not a coco, but a little bit a N-ettie), is a completely altered Coco with Nettie tendencies.


I started by altering the side seams to be more fitted, coming in an additional 1 ½ inches on each side. I also curved the seam in beneath the hip, making the A line a little less wide. Hmm, what else? I scooped out the neck, and chopped the sleeves to make them short. To be honest, most of the modifications were done because the parsimonious part of me didn’t want to part with more than $30 on this make. The fabric wasn’t too expensive ($25 a metre), but I thought I could get a simple summer dress out of a metre despite the Coco requirements saying I needed 2 metres. I’m a bit stubborn like that – I always think I can make it work with the smallest meterage! I do admit I have had to abort sewing projects due to my frugal fabric purchases, but I never learn.

 
Stripe matching like a boss.

There are a few things that irk me about this dress: Firstly I didn’t have enough fabric to match the stripes as well as I would have liked at the armscyes. Secondly the sleeves, while I have now come to like the length were as long as they possibly could be, as is the length of the dress. I had to compromise between the length of the dress and the length of the sleeves…. I think I did ok but I’m not entirely sure. I also didn’t have any fabric left over to make a neck binding… and I really did want to finish the neck line off with one (like the Nettie). Instead I was forced to turn over the neck line, sleeves and skirt hem and finish them off with a simple straight stitch.

 

I’m still not the greatest at finishing these edges (hence probably why I like the Nettie’s overlocked neck binding) – I did attempt a twin stitch, and also a zig zag as I was worried I might pop these straight stitches (you should see the hem of my two ponte mini’s).  I ended up unpicking these other attempts and went back to my original option of a slightly longer straight stitch.

 
Hello Dalmatian - whatcha looking at?

I have worn this dress out multiple times now. It is such a summery classic. Guess what though? - I did pop the hem stitches the other night while pulling this dress over my head. Bugger! I guess I really should perfect finishing hems (or take a little more care undressing?)
 
'Til next time lovely sewing friends. x

Saturday, 1 November 2014

These things take time

These shorts have been on my sewing table for a good three months, but they are finally finished, and what a marathon effort they were. They might even get the award for the longest project this year! I had one very good friend comment week after week that these shorts did not seem to be progressing. Ha. Thanks for that!
 
Starting off with an arse pic. Ha. But check out the welt pockets!
 
Anyway, I think the reason they took so long wasn’t in fact that the sewing of them was particularly tricky, but that there were sooo many pattern pieces – over 20 if I remember rightly – and there were a lot of techniques I hadn’t attempted before. So I took the project slow and steady… like a tortoise. So slow that they were on my before holiday sewing list, but weren’t quite finished by the time I boarded the plane. Oh well – we’re heading into summer now so they can get plenty of wear soon.

 


Where shall I start with these? Firstly the fabric is a beautiful soft French linen that my sister bought me when she was over in France earlier in the year. When I first saw the fabric I had no idea what I was going to make with it. I’m not an overly floral girl but the fabric was beautiful. I was a bit stumped, but finally decided a pair of cuffed summer shorts. I had the sewaholic thurlow pattern in my stash (thanks to the stitcher and the gatherer) and thought this pattern would do the fabric justice.
 

The instructions were a tad brief for my liking. Some of the steps came together really well, but other parts had me stumped. There were many a time when I looked at the pattern pieces and just couldn’t quite work out how it would all fit together, but then it would come together in a ta-da moment: like when the pocket bag folded on itself and produced the most beautiful front pockets. Or when the back welt pockets folded up on themselves to create the back pocket bag. Genius! This pattern was so cleverly drafted, but I definitely could have done with a few more steps and pictures.
 


One thing that I didn’t like was that there was sooo much excess fabric at the back seam of the shorts which was intentionally drafted to easily adjust the waist size. I had thought that this would be a really clever design, but in reality, there was just way too much fabric back there and getting the stitching line right was a little tricky. I ended up taking the shorts in even further then the stitching line on the pattern, but that may be because I have a sway back. Either way, I hacked off a good inch of excess fabric off each back panel at this point, and even then I was still left with an inch seam allowance for future adjustments (in case my waist measurements increase but my hips and thighs stay the same??)

I also made a slight mistake on the inside trouser flap and ended up having to over lock the excess fabric off as my waist band piece didn’t line up with the front trouser piece. I must have somehow misread one of the instructions for the seam allowance when attaching the trouser flap. Oh well. Luckily this bit can’t be seen.

 
I just think this pic is funny - so unladylike Myra!

All in all I am super happy with the construction and fit of these. I love the welt pockets (they’re square and straight!) and I am pretty impressed with myself that I pulled off welt pockets, front pockets and a trouser zip in one garment. I also think I’m a floral convert – these shorts are pretty yet not overly girly. I did wear these for the day today and I would say that the only negative is that the linen relaxes a bit too much over the course of the day, resulting in a slight sag of the welt pockets and a sag across the front zip section. That is completely my fault for choosing a soft linen, but on the positive, they are uber comfy. I think I’ll make these shorts again in a stiffer material – maybe a solid linen blend? And I may even attempt the trouser version in a light wool suit blend for work? I think I may have found a shorts pattern that rival my love: move over Iris, the Thurlow is here.

I am definitely channelling tortoises in my sewing life at the moment. Every sewing project seems to be taking much longer than anticipated. I really need to start a baby quilt for my friends' first child - she's about to pop and I haven't even cut out the fabric, and I want to sew another DD#2 top and a Kielo dress. Argh. These things definitely take time.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

I ROBOT




I know it is has been yonks since my last blog post (over 6 weeks in fact) - I apologise, but I have been friggin busy. Like, totally run off my feet busy. With what I hear you ask? What is it that has taken me away from my beloved sewing machine? – I’ve gone back to uni for a complete career change. As excited as I am about returning to study, this change has GREATLY reduced my sewing hours. And a reduction of sewing = a reduction of blogging.
That said nothing was going to stop me from attending this year’s frocktails. I needed a new dress. Stat. With 7 days on the clock before the event I decided another Sigma would do the trick; not just any sigma - a metallic one made from fabric I found in the remnants bin. My Robot Sigma.

I bought the fabric from Addicted to Fabric, and it is some kind of polyester blend. It’s a navy blue base with a metallic thread running on the diagonal. It isn’t as stiff as it looks in the photos, but it would go up in flames (or melt) if I stood too close to an open fire.  Oh, and apologies for the standard of the pics – it’s really quite hard to take good pics in the dark.
I’m not going to talk too much about the construction of this dress as I have made plenty previously. The only difference with this one is that it is fully lined with a luscious cotton silk blend as the metallic fabric is scratchy as all hell. I omitted the facing and hand stitched the lining to the inside of the zipper tape. I also hand stitched the hem and the sleeves (luckily I finished this very late the night before the event – hand stitching on the bus to Sydney was my ‘down to the wire’ option).


The obligatory back view :)
I also graded out the skirt to accommodate my winter hips, and played with the curve between the waist and hips. I hadn’t factored in how long this step would take and ended up unpicking this seam three times damnit. The rest of the dress is exactly the same as each of my others.
I was so excited to attend frocktails this year. It was my first frocktails and I was a bundle of nerves! I was worried my dress wouldn’t match up to the standard of the other sewers, but I needn’t have worried – sewists are the most encouraging, welcoming people I know. My dress was well received and people actually LIKED my dress. To all who commented on the night – thank you! You have lit the fire in my belly to find more time in my day to sew.



To anyone who hasn’t heard of frocktails, let me tell you a little about it. It is an annual event where sewers get together to eat, drink cocktails and meet other sewists in their hand-made frocks. This year the lovely Kat (All the whimsical things) organised the event and I bussed up with a few of my Canberra sewing crew - Amanda (bimble and pimble), Jen (the stitcher and gatherer) and Kirsty (top notch). It was a wonderful weekend of new friendships, scrumptious food, expresso martinis and fabric shopping. What more could a girl want??? I’m already looking forward to next year.

The Canberra crew (from left): Jen, Kirsty, Amanda and me

On that note, I will get back to the drudgery of work, back to the uni books and back to the reality of single parenthood. But I will find a few minutes here and there to devote to my sewing because sewing (and the sewing community) make me happy.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

One word: Pleather

Pleather. Not leather, but faux leather. We're talking some kind of chemically treated, PVC coated fabric. I never thought I would want to wear (or sew) this stuff, but I convinced myself a little accent of pleather was a good thing. A damn good thing. Don't get me wrong, I'll never channel Sandy and dress head to toe in the stuff, but I'm all for a little pleather edging, a contrasting piece, or the odd elbow patch. There's something pleasing about pleather.


My experiment in pleather? I decided to stuck with a pattern I knew inside out: the Papercut ensis tee. I originally modified the pattern to have two wedge shaped shoulder sections of pleather, but decided I didn't really know how this stuff would sew up and it could prove to be tricky to ease over the shoulder ..... so I took the easy way. I opted for an as-per-the-instructions back yoke (although I shortened the height of the yoke by a couple of inches). I omitted both the contrasting front yoke and the top part of the sleeves as I didn't want to overdo the pleather: a little accent, not an exclamation.



I was about to say that other than the latter the pattern was by the book, but then I remembered that I added uber cool pleather elbow patches! These were self drafted (ha – I actually traced around an oval I found at our sewing sess and then proceeded to make my sewing friends help me with resizing and pinning said patches onto my already sewed up sleeves). Yep, I added these patches to the sleeves POST sewing it all up. A bright spark of an idea after finishing the top – could I have thought about it when the sleeves were still flat? Nope. Stupid really, as I had to bunch up the sleeve and top-stitch the patch on through the neck opening. I'm not going to lie – this part sucked balls. But I love the finished result. And the resulting patches align perfectly with my elbows!


 
Oh, I also omitted the cuffs that ALL my other ensis tops have. There is an option in the pattern for a curved variation, but I struggle like all hell to hem curved edges (especially on knits) so I lengthened the top to where I thought I wanted it and cut it straight. Foresight! See I knew that if I attempted a curved hem and made a dog's breakfast of it, I'd be forever looking down at my hem and I'd be embarrassed. I'd either tuck the top in, or it would be hidden at the back of my wardrobe never to be worn.... or, I'd chop it off and it'd become slightly midriffed and a little bit awkward. Comprendre? Much easier to just admit defeat and chop it straight to start with. Maybe next time I'll brave the curve.

Ah the flash is reflecting light in all directions on this - sorry.


Just a few finer details to mention: I was initially concerned with how my over locker would cope with the pleather, but it tackled it like a boss and had no issues at all. I sewed the patch on using a straight stitch instead of appliquing it as the edges of pleather don't fray. I changed to a size 90/14 universal needle when top stitching the pleather, compared to my 80/12 jersey ball point for top-stitching the knit. I also lengthened my stitch length to 4mm for all my top-stitching as I find this a little neater.



I don't think I have anything else to say about this make. I like the fact that I have some pleather interest from my posterior (ha – I'm studying anatomy at the mo – that's the back view for everyone else), while from the anterior (aka front view) it just looks like a plain ol' boring cream top. Pleather experiment – big tick.
 
(One final note: big apologies for the over exposed pics - it was a cold but very sunny Canberra day)

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

One funky hoodie

One funky hoodie. Two funky thumb holes. Three degrees outside. Yep, it is friggin freezing at the moment in Canberra. 3 degrees and it’s almost lunch time. In fact, it only reached 0 degrees at 10am! Minus 5 when I was supposed to meet the lovely Amanda from bimble and pimble for our Sunday run.  Let me point out the obvious - this weather is not at all conducive to run! As a result, my running program has been put on ice until it thaws out. Nevertheless, I made a funky, asymmetrical hoodie in an attempt to brave the outdoors.
 
 
 
My hoodie is based on Papercut’s undercover hood – and yes, I have made one previously (here). I decided to incorporate thumb holes in this one as my hands are frozen icebergs (although here’s a thought - I think I need an all-in-one gloves-hoodie – do you think people might stare if I made sleeves with fingers? I do understand the impracticability of this suggestion but I am still contemplating it. Laugh all you want, but there won’t be any cold air creeping in).
Not sure what's going on with the fabric pulling across my bust -
doesn't look like this usually (maybe a result of my running bra underneath?)
Back to the subject at hand - after studying a few of my other thumb-holed tops, I decided that I could replicate these by lengthening the cuff and creating the holes within the seamline. I really should have taken some progress shots as it would have been way easier to describe – sorry. Hindsight is a wonderful thing + this really was a bit of an experiment.
 
Haha - check out those bright white socks!
I should have coordinated my socks with my shoes. Next time!

So here’s what I did: I had already decided I wanted the lining fabric of my hood to be black, so I made a lining for my pocket in black too to tie it altogether. But more on the pocket later. I halved the cuff pattern and added an additional 2 inches of length on to incorporate the seam allowance and an additional 1 ½ inches of length so that the cuff ended just after my thumb joint. I overlocked the two pieces together so that I had a long rectangle (similar to the original cuff pattern piece but longer in the length direction). I then overlocked the edges, pinned and measured where I wanted my thumb holes. I decided on 3/8 inch from the fold line with a 1 ¾ inch hole. My first attempt I only gave myself 1 inch thumb holes and it just wasn’t enough. Anyway, after measuring it all up, I sewed up the side seams, leaving open the ‘holes’. I ironed the seams, and folded the cuffs with wrong sides facing, aligning  the holes. I then topstitched the holes (which was a tad fiddly as there aint much space). I sewed two lines of top stitching, the first just a few mm from the edge, and the next a few mm from that. I finished it off by reinforcing the bottom edges with a small zig zag stich. Finally, I attached the cuff to the sleeve as per the instructions, rotating the seamline 2 inches towards the top of the sleeve (rotating anticlockwise on the left, clockwise on the right). Voila.
 
Close up of the thumb hole.... wonky top stitching and all.
 

The pocket. This was really simple. I altered the pattern piece, cutting off the extra tringle sections as I wasn’t going to fold those pocket edges under. I then cut a lining piece, sewed the two pieces together (right sides facing), leaving the bottom edge unsewn. Turned the whole thing right side out, ironed, played with my asymmetrical angle on one edge, and top stitched the pocket down. I had originally thought to have two openings, but the pocket gaped like hell, so it top stitched the left hand side down. Asymmetrical goodness. Yeeha.
 
Asymmetrical pocket goodness
 
That’s it really. The rest of the hoodie is as per the instructions. I made this out of a thin merino wool so it is super comfy and snuggly. Now all I need is for the weather to warm up just a smidge so I can face the outdoors.

Oh, and I'm not sure about my choice of photo shoot for these pics. I saw this graffiti storm drain on the way to the gym and thought I'd stop for an impromptu shoot... thought it screamed "in the hood", but on reflection think it depicts "sad and homeless" (or maybe that's my lack of smiling). I'll aim for a happy photo shoot next time.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Hear me roar


After completing my third pair of Papercut anima pants and sending a pic of them to my sister, I received a message back from her stating I depicted a mountain lion. At first I was taken aback: I am not one that likes animal prints, in fact, I loathe animal prints. I also have quite an aversion to camouflage. I did hear someone refer to camouflage as a soldiers animal print (Red Foo on X factor maybe?). To me, camo should not be considered casual city wear – camo only belongs on soldiers as a strategy to hide from the enemy. Animal prints belong in the same category – unless you are trying to blend in on an African safari, animal prints are a definite no go. Hence you can understand my shock and horror when I received her message: ROAR. How did I get my fabric choice so wrong?

But then I had a thought: if I’m going to be any animal, a mountain lion is definitely one animal I’d like to depict. They are FIERCE. STRONG. TERRITORIAL. And a little bit SHY. In an instant, I decided to break away from my no animal print moto and wear these pants as hell, I am a mountain lion. I’m no meek little mouse. Hear me ROAR.
And so I’ve worn these pants out multiple times since they’ve been completed. I must admit to receiving a few weird looks from my work colleagues and the young, way-too-hip check-out chick at my local Coles, but screw you peeps – I am fierce.

Shall I say something actually about the sewing of these things? They are Papercut’s anima pants and they are my new favourite pattern. They are quick to sew up (once you master the waistband), and let’s face it, they’re funked up trackies. Plus, it doesn’t matter if you eat like a lion because these babies will stretch in all the right places. Score.

Sewing the waistband casing on
(without elastic - I leave a 2" gap at the back to
insert afterwards)
I did make a few changes to this pair. I decided to omit the top-stitching through the waistband and elastic as I liked the clean look of a straight black waistband (I looked at a fair few pairs of similar dressy pants in a Style mag (while at the hairdresser) and realised that the top-stitching seemed to be more prevalent on exercise pants). I also shortened the length of the cuff on these as my other pairs were super long. Oh, and I somehow made the faux fly face the opposite way, but that wasn’t intentional. 
Sewing the elastic together
(elastic pulled through the gap in the waistband)
That’s it really. I’m done now. I’ve made 4 pairs of these – the first my wearable muslin (a bright red pair that do not leave the house), my out of the ordinary pair, these ones, and a special slippery blue pair that are in a post bag making their way across the Nullarbor to my sister. As much as I love this anima pattern, it’s time to move on. What next? I just received a birthday package of French linen from my sister while she sauntered around Europe – maybe a French linen pair of Iris’s for my upcoming Bali holiday?

Oh, and a quick reminder about Papercut's anima comp in collaboration with the Fabric Store. The comp closes at the end of July so get your entries in.