Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A Colette Laurel and another Iris

I finished my second pair of Colette Iris shorts over the past few days. I made this pair out of stretch denim that I purchased from Addicted to Fabric at their recent bi-annual sale. I actually only picked up half a metre as I had read on some other blogs that people out there had made a pair of Iris’s out of a half metre scrap! So I bought just 50cm (even though the lady at the counter didn’t believe me that I could swindle a pair out of it), and justified spending a little bit more on some beautiful new Liberty of London cotton lawn. Oh, that is definitely the logic of a fabric obsessed sewer.
I managed to cut out all the pieces out of my 50cm, however, I had to cut the back waist band in two pieces and sew them together as my denim wasn’t cut square (I swear the fabric lady did this to spite me). I also cut both the main fabric and lining fabric of the pockets out of a Paris road-map quilting material that I bought online from the US. I was going to just blog about these shorts and title the post ‘Paris in my pocket’, but it just happened that I was wearing the Colette Laurel as well in the pic, so I thought I’d better change the title.
The shorts did not come together as easy as the first pair. But this was entirely my fault, and not the fault of the instructions. I flew into sewing these up without really following the instructions as I thought I could remember what I did the previous time, and when I did go back to the instructions for a bit of a refresher, I accidentally had the instructions (PDF printed out) all muddled up and somehow sewed the zipper in BEFORE sewing the waist band. But it gets worse! I actually sewed the waist band on after I inserted the zipper and then looked at the shorts in bewilderment, wondering what the heck I had done wrong. Woops. I spent an hour or so unpicking the damn zipper and reinserting it to include the waist band. Lesson learnt: Do not get cocky! Read and follow the instructions even when it is the second time around. I must add that I did have a head cold at the time, so maybe this added to my sewing fail.
I did modify these slightly, as I mentioned in my previous Iris shorts post that I might: I took about an inch off in the width of the shorts at the hem, and tapered them in (in line with the lower pocket join as this is where they were fitted on me). I also sewed version 1 – the shorts without the buttons, however I did sew the edge of the pockets into the centre crotch seam to ensure the pockets didn’t flap around. To be honest though, I think I like my blue linen pair better.
The Colette Laurel top I completed maybe a month ago in a size 0. I used a cotton voile that I picked up at Addicted to Fabric. I removed the zipper in the back of the top as I knew I could get this over my head without the zipper. I also moved the bust darts down about an inch and I took out about 2 inches of excess from each of the side seams, tapering it into the underarm.
I finished the edges using a white bias tape, however, I am not sold on the edging. I kind of think it looks a bit 'home-made'. I do love this top though - I love the boldness of the fabric and it has got me away from wearing solid colours. It's a perfect summer top: light weight, a little loose but still stylish and it has a nice shape.

I might make another Laurel in Liberty of London cotton lawn, but I might shorten the sleeves, maybe add a peter pan collar, and maybe add some piping around turned up cuffs. As for the Iris - I think I'm done. It's back to skirts and dresses for me.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Finished: Papercut Ensis tee

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a few patterns from Papercut. Papercut patterns had been mentioned a few times in a few of the sewing blogs that I follow, so I jumped on board and thought I’d give this new(ish) designer a try. And oh-my-goodness, I am so glad I did. The designer behind the Papercut Collective is one seriously clever kiwi. To start with the patterns are AMAZING. The envelope is laser cut card and converts into a hanger to hang your pattern, ensuring you don’t lose the cut out pattern pieces. Ingenious! The pattern pieces are sturdy instead of flimsy tissue paper and the whole thing is made out of 100% recycled products. But more than anything, they look beautiful and they make me smile. Receiving a bunch of these patterns in the mail last week made me beam for hours.
After much deliberation, I decided to make the Ensis tee first as I am really trying to make some everyday staples for my wardrobe. I decided to convert it into a short sleeved number by omitting the bottom section of the sleeve and adding a binding, just like the neck-line. I bought some cotton jersey from Addicted to Fabric during their sale, and made this up in navy and cream.
I can’t talk up the pattern enough. It was simple to follow and sewing the sleeves in flat made sewing the whole thing so easy and straightforward. I did make a small adjustment at the hem, but more because I had a change of heart than anything to do with the pattern. I had originally cut out version 2 with the curved hemline, but when I tried it on it looked odd with the sleeve and neck-line binding, so I chopped it off and replaced it with the same sort of edging. Only problem is that it ended up a tad on the short side.
The only thing that I would change is to take out a bit of fullness from the width in the bottom section of the tee making it a little more fitted. I made the XXS and it’s a bit billowy on me, so maybe I’ll take out an inch or two in the side seam at the bottom and taper it into the underarm.
I wore this to work yesterday and got a compliment from one of my friends – in fact, she asked me if I’d consider making one for her. That’s the ultimate compliment to both Papercut and me. Big smiles.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Finished: Blue linen Colette iris shorts

I’ve finally finished my Colette iris shorts that have been sitting on my sewing table for a few weeks. I sewed them up in a navy blue pinstripe linen that I bought from Addicted to Fabric with the intention of making a panelled dress (using the stripes as a feature in the bodice panel). But I decided I didn’t like the dress pattern I had in mind so a chunk of the linen became these shorts.

The shorts came together quite easily and they would have been quick to make if I hadn’t kept getting distracted doing other things. The instructions were easy to follow – I love Colette patterns for their diagrams with each step and their inserted descriptions on top-stitching, under-stitching etc. It really makes sewing a new pattern much easier.

I made these up in a straight size 4, and although they fit, I’d say that they are a little on the loose side and that maybe I should try the 2. I think they are supposed to sit further up on the waist but mine definitely sit lower down. I also think that they are a little too flared at the bottom of the legs – I received a comment yesterday when I was wearing these out and about that they were a cute pair of culottes. I definitely wasn’t going for the culottes look… or even the ‘cute’ look but I appreciated the compliment. The next pair I make I might reduce the amount of flare by taking in an inch from the bottom side seam and tapering it into the waist.
The pockets of these are a nice feature but not really practical – I don’t think I could get my phone or even a few coins in the pocket without them looking bulky in the crotch region (definitely not a good look). I made the facing of the waist band and the pockets out of a mustard cotton voile – the fabric peeks out of the pockets even with the buttons done up, but I love the fabric so that doesn’t really bother me. In fact, I like that the mustard breaks up the blue.
All in all I’m happy with the finished garment. Although I’m still a little unsure as to if they actually look ok on me. I’m a skirt and dress girl really, so to me shorts just look odd. Oh, and the fabric was probably a bad choice – it crumples and creases like a b*tch. No amount of steam and ironing seems to flatten these babies. But I must like them because I’ve worn them twice in the last week. And I have many plans for them over the Christmas break – lunch out with the fam, a winery visit. Maybe I need another pair - maybe in denim? Hmm, with or without pockets?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

When you find a good thing

A while ago I came across a jersey knit dress at Material Pleasures and fell in love with it. I loved the simplicity of design: a lace yoke panel which was simply two rectangular panels across the shoulders and chest. I think this is known as a ‘kimono’ sleeve (a sleeve cut in one piece with the bodice?) Anyway, I knew I could replicate it. Setting sleeves is my sewing nemesis, so when I realised I could recreate the dress without having to worry about setting sleeves or trying to adjust the amount of ease across the sleeve-head, I knew I was onto a good thing. And when I find a good thing, I run with it. Over and over again.

First came a red dress made out of red jersey knit bought from Tessuti. I pretty much copied the design one for one and sewed it up quick as a flash on my overlocker. I even included a fabric tie at the back of the dress. I’ll photograph it next time I wear it.

Next came the abstract ¾ sleeve dress that I blogged about previously. This was really an experiment piece as I was trying to draft a dress loosely using this design. As I wasn’t really happy with the sleeve ‘puff’, I returned to the kimono design and knocked out this lace yoke top.  The lace I bought as a remnant from spotlight at the bargain price of $5 for about 2m, and the jersey is a soft blend of bamboo and cotton from Tessuti. I’ve never worked with lace before and thought it would be a nightmare to sew, but it was relatively easy. I overlocked the shoulders and then top-stitched the seam down to lie flat. I made the edging out of the same jersey material (like bias binding, but not on the bias) and was super careful sewing that on so that the back and front edges of the binding lined up.

I’m happy with this top and wear it to work ALL the time. The lace fabric and the jersey knit are a perfect colour match and the fit is great (maybe a tiny bit tight).  After the success of this top, I decided to knock out another in a grey bamboo jersey, omitting the lace yoke and cutting the yoke and body of the top in one piece (a true kimono sleeve). And my sister asked for a replica lace top for Christmas so I’d better get onto that as Christmas is only a few weeks away.
I think I’m done with this design now. Variety is supposed to be the spice of life. Or maybe I’ll just make one more top for summer – a nautical one with a red and white stripe and maybe a navy blue yoke??  And I do have a pile of white jersey knit with black damask fabric in my sewing room – I’m sure that would make a cute top. Ahh, I just need to stop and find another pattern…. it’s just so damn easy to make something that I know will work out in the end.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Self-drafted abstract dress

First off, let me apologise for the blurriness and quality of the photos. I took these as I was heading off to work this morning and balanced the camera on the front door steps and raced in front of the camera, hoping that the camera was focused in the right vicinity of where I’d be standing and didn’t chop off my head in the pics. The photos are all wrong – wrong angle, wrong composition, wrong lighting. But they show the dress, so I guess that’s all that matters.
I made this dress quite a while ago, but thought I would retrospectively blog it. It is self-drafted, loosely copied from a kimono short sleeved knit dress I bought. I drafted a ¾ sleeve set-in with a slight gather around the sleeve-cap. I’m not entirely happy with the amount of gather at the top and back of the sleeves, and think they look a bit puffy, but no one has commented on them, so I guess they don’t look too ridiculous.
The fabric is an abstract stretch fabric that I found on sale at spotlight. I’m not really a spotlight fan and the fabric doesn’t feel anywhere as nice as the stuff I buy from Tessuti or Addicted to Fabric, but it was cheap and I was attempting to draft a pattern with set-in ¾ sleeves, so I was nonchalant if it didn’t work out and ended up in the bin. I think it’s some sort of polyester blend.

This dress is wearable – I wore it to work today, but as mentioned, I didn’t get the sleeve fit or design right. I’m yet to design or find a pattern with the perfect amount of ease across the sleeve head, especially for knit fabrics (I think Sarai in the Colette blog mentioned that the armscye for the bodice and the sleeve are generally the same measurements for knit fabrics). I’ll keep you posted.

Monday, 25 November 2013

The beginning of my Colette Iris shorts

I didn’t get much sewing done over the weekend, but finished my grey t-shirt with kimono sleeves (I'll blog about this one soon), and cut out the pattern pieces for my Colette Iris shorts. I’m about a year behind every other seamstress in sewing up these shorts as the pattern was released about a year ago, but I think (hope) they will be a staple for summer. My wardrobe is lacking in the ‘nice’ shorts department – I have shorts: the ones that I garden in, exercise and walk the dog … and they are ok to wear to the supermarket, but not out to lunch.
Fingers crossed these Iris shorts exceed (or just meet) my expectations and I can dress them up with a nice shirt and wear them out. I’ve decided to make them in blue linen fabric with a subtle pin-stripe - I picked up the fabric from Addicted to Fabric a while ago with the intention to make a linen dress. I’m a tad worried that the fabric has no stretch in it (I’m pretty sure the Colette website suggests a fabric with about a 1-2% stretch component), but we’ll just have to wait and see. I also cannot be bothered making a muslin for these, which I’ll probably regret.

Talking about the stages of sewing, I recently came across Kathryn’s blog from Yes I like that. It was one of those 'Ah ha' moments where I totally agreed with everything she was writing – the joy of planning a project, the absolutely hatred at cutting the damn thing out and marking darts, notches etc, the excitement when the garment comes together, the demotivation when you realise things are not going as well as you expected, and the high when you’re finished, and you walk out the house strutting your stuff in your newly made garment. It’s no wonder that I have so many unfinished sewing projects as I get to that demotivation stage and think ‘crap, I screwed up the facing/seam/neck-line/zipper…. I’ll just put that aside and dream about the next project or look through my pattern books and plan that dress/top that I’ve been dreaming about’.
I must admit, my favourite bit about being a seamstress is wandering around fabric stores feeling the drape and weight of fabric (oh and picking out buttons... don’t get me started on how much I love buttons). I don’t have to have an idea in mind about what I want to sew, the beauty of the fabric makes me smile and I want (need) to have it in my sewing room for when that perfect pattern comes along that warrants its use. I do wonder if other seamstresses feel the same way? And are there comparisons to other hobbies? Both my partner and my son play video games – does wandering around EB games and picking up the newest game invoke up the same elation in them that fabric does to me? I hope not as I am constantly battling my son to put down that damn PS3 remote and to do something constructive.

Monday, 11 November 2013

The first

What should I write in my first ever blog? Where should I start? There appears to be a myriad of sewing blogs out there and I have no false belief that I have any more to offer than any other sewing enthusiast. I scroll through my favourite handful of sewing blogs each morning and have learnt the tricks of the seamstress trade through my sewing blog friends (hmm, maybe ‘friends’ is a little far-fetched – truth of the matter is they don’t know I exist. I follow them relentlessly, but in the shadows like some weird sewing blog stalker. I have even been known to talk about these ‘friends’ with my real-life friends. Oh dear, now that is sad).

My thinking behind starting my own blog is actually quite selfish – I sew, I alter patterns on the fly to fit my body shape… I rejig the pattern, create a muslin and then once the final outfit is finished, I forget what I modified. Months down the track I pick up the pattern and make the very same mistakes as the first time around! I must have a memory like a goldfish. This blog is my own memory jogger: somewhere to document my sewing journey through each hand-made outfit and somewhere I can look back and remind myself that I moved the bust darts down 1 inch on the Colette Laurel top or that Ottobre patterns do not include seam allowance. And maybe, just maybe my blog might be of interest to other sewing enthusiasts.