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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Style Gallery - January's Skirt

As part of my New Years Sewing Resolution, each garment I make must go with two or three garments that I already own.  If not I have to make the matching garments straight away, or be prepared to buy them.  That's usually not possible because Lady Luck usually decrees that when you want or need it , it is not likely to be available in the shops.  That's why it is so important to have a basic wardrobe plan with clothes that work with each other.  So, I quickly rummaged through my drawers  and came up with 3 garments to create three quick and simple variations.



With camisole top and necklace

I'd find this a bit bare for everyday, but it looks more like the pattern envelope.  I would wear a small, light, cardigan over the top of this look.

With a plain black T-shirt

This is a sort of everyday look I would probably wear for running errands.  I'm sorry the picture is a little haphazard - my studio was "outside" where the light is good!  However, the wind was blowing quite a lot, so the dummy and screen kept wobbling - and I was trying to take pictures in between holding them both up :)  So much for the en plein air approach.  (french term for painting out of doors).

With a cardigan and pearls
I'd probably put some pearls on if I was going somewhere, and a cardigan if it was cooler.  So this skirt seems to work in lots of situations.  I'd wear it out at night too, and dress it up a little more.  This will be a useful addition to my wardrobe.

With nail polishes
It even goes with all the sorts of nail polish colours I would wear.  This range of nail polishes is by Mode - a budget brand, but I love budget brands because you can play with a new nail colour without breaking the budget.

In due course, I will try and organise a picture of me wearing this skirt - my husband will help me with this job, but his time is rather tied up at the moment.  I'll post it when it is available. 

New Skirt Finally Finished (part 2)

In part one of this blog I showed you the inside story of this skirt.  If this is the first blog about this skirt you have accessed, I am making a skirt based on New Look 6103 but with a waistband instead of a separate cut on yoke and faced waistband.

New Look 6103

Sarah Liz Jan 2103

Now that darts and zip are completed it's time to sew the side seams ready for check fitting.  I found that there was a little too much extra at the waist to high hip area. I also sheered a small amount off the side seams to compensate for the stretch of the fabric. I'm never precious about marking my alterations - I use a blue wash out marker if it shows up - apparently you are supposed to test on every fabric first, but I usually throw caution to the winds.  I'll get caught one day, probably when I'm making something really special out of a really divine fabric. I'm not precious about drawing on my traced patterns either - when they are close to "right" I usually trace a master copy for the next garment as well, so its ready for the next skirt I might make out of stretch fabric.

Skirt alteration.
Now on to the finishing.  Overlock side seams, add interfacing to waistband, overlock edge, attach waistband, overlock hem, finish kick pleat hem and hem garment (blind hem by hand).  Add hook and eye closure and a press stud to waistband.

Finished hem edge of skirt showing kickpleat
Finished waistband showing skirt hook and eye and press stud closure.
All finished and ready to wear.  The next blog will show the skirt with 2 or 3 different garments I already own.

New Skirt Finally Finished (part 1)

It was a really wet day yesterday but I used it to my advantage and spent the time sewing and finishing my first sewing project for 2013.  I based the skirt on a New Look pattern (6103) but made some adaptions.  The pattern was for a small faced yoke style waistband, with  long pleat at the centre back that extended up about 25-  30  cms  from the hem (about 10 to 12 inches) As I only had 80 cm of 127 wide fabric to play with (less than a yard of just under 50 inch fabric) I decided to alter the pattern and add a waistband, remove the pleat and replace with a kick pleat. This was the pattern and fabric I used:

New Look 6103.  Fabric: stretch cotton sateen


And this is what my version looks like:

Sarah Liz  




My design decisions for this skirt were based not only on the fact that I had a small amount of material to make it from, but also because a waistband suits me more than a facing or slightly dropped waist.   Because I am rectangular/slightly inverted in shape  My biggest visual body part is my Tummy and not my Bottom, Hip and Thigh area - on bad tummy days there is not much difference in measurement between my high hip and tummy area and my hip measurement.  Rectangles don't have much difference in measurement between bust and hips, but inverted triangles can have a waist indentation, which I try and use.  Because I am too slim at the moment, a waistband helps to hold the skirt up, and being a little loose can accommodate a little more middle, or can have a winter t-shirt tucked in (underneath a jumper).   If I make a low waist skirt, there is a risk that it might sit around the visually largest part of my body - my tummy - and accentuate that, without showing off my slim hips.  A waistband also allows me to ease a little extra into the front of the garment.  The kick pleat of course was because I only had enough fabric width to make this instead of a conventional pleat.

The fabric was chosen because it is shades of grey, black and white - all colours in my current wardrobe, so the skirt will go with at least two, if not three or more garments I already own.  The colours also work for winter 2013 (which we Australians aren't yet enjoying) but has plenty of black and white in it, which is on trend for Spring 2013 (we Australians are lucky because we can start planning out Spring Summer 2013 and wear it before you do. Conversely winter - in mid winter I will be able to start working on trends from Autumn/Winter 2013/2014).  It's also a mid weight cotton sateen so I can wear it on cooler summer days and in winter over tights.

To adapt the skirt I lay a traced sloper of my shape over the New Look pattern by matching grainlines.  I raised the waist and redrew it according to my sloper so that the shape fits a waistband, and not a facing.  I added extra width for the kick pleat.  I tend to add plenty and then cut back when the garment is being made - that way I see what looks best.

I also tested my interfacing and decided on what thread to use - I settled on grey for overlocking and a dark charcoal for the seams.  Black was too heavy looking.  I also decided on a grey zip, because grey thread on a black zip would annoy me greatly.



Interfacing  trial

Overlocked edge - grey chosen

I tested a various pieces of interfacing.  On woven fabric skirts I usually use vilene ( a non-woven interfacing unless it is a really good skirt, in which case I use McCalls sheerweft.  Sheerweft is a woven interfacing  has some give in it and is suitable for knits.  I used it because this is a stretch fabric and if I get bigger the stretch might be handy.  If I wanted a non-give waist band I would use a non-woven interfacing.  But woe betide if you try and stretch vilene - it pulls off and you will get bubbles and ripples.

Next comes the fun bit - putting the skirt together.  Sew darts, insert zip and put in kick pleat.  Then fit.

Lapped insertion of zipper
Inside view of zipper
Kick pleat -edges finished
Kick pleat being turned

(Cont'd  part two of this blog)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pins and Progress

I am very lucky to have a very nice husband who has recently found these lovely pins for me - I woke up this morning to find them on the table. 

Pearl Head Pins about 310 cms long/ 1 and 1/2 inch long


Its extremely wet here and a public holiday - which means an indoor day - so that allows me to finish my first blog project for January.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What To Make First - the Big Question

I don't know if you are like me, but I find it hard to make up my sewing mind - so many ideas, so many possibilities that sometimes inertia is the consequence and starting doesn't happen.  Knowing my own faults in this direction I decided to find a pattern I like, and, of course, (although I am not supposed to add to the stash, but this is purpose bought, so that surely doesn't count)  buy a fabric to make it in. 


The version I have chosen is the longer length and the fabric is a stretch cotton sateen.  I haven't made many stretch fabric garments before so this will be a small challenge in itself.

Before I do make the skirt I want to actually make a sloper that is close to my body shape to lay over this pattern.

That's my next job...

Ready, Steady, Sew

The first step in starting anything, I say, is to get organised, although, like most people, I find this sometimes rather tedious and best left to another day.  Unfortunately though, I find it hard to find the things I need, so before I start my first sewing project - a good tidy up is needed.

First, all the patterns were in a filing cabinet, where I flipped through them periodically.  I could never find what I wanted and the envelopes where getting dog-eared.  I would frequently pull them out and put them in another pile to make but never did.  So they would go back into the cabinet and the process would continue.  I thought a catalogue of patterns would be a better way to go, so that at least I could flip through and see everything I have easily. So I put the pattern envelopes in a clear plastic holders, and the pattern pieces in envelopes and labelled them with the pattern company's name (or initial for - so M for McCalls, Butt for Butterick etc, V for Vogue, etc.).  I then put the plastic holders with pattern envelopes into folders and voila! a catalogue.  The patterns themselves in new envelopes went back into the filing cabinet.



New Pattern Catalogue!


As you can see, in this format, you can easily see the front and the back of the pattern for all the information you need about the garment and fabric requirements.

  
Patterns filed
And easy to find the pattern.  Now all that's needed is an easy way to work out what is in the fabric stash.

Stash as far as the eye can see



I did mention on my previous blog that I had a big stash (and there's more than this as well, but not too much more).  As you can see, each piece of fabric I have in the stash has a small piece cut off .  I attach this to a small white card and write down the details of the fabric - type of fabric, amount, width and so on.  I just found it rather hard to easily see at a glance what I needed - so, another catalogue was made. 

 
A very neat and organised stash catalogue
The folder is one that is made to take business cards but I could see this use for it!  I have the fabrics back to back, and in total, this folder is holding 160 cards (yes, that means I have 160 pieces of fabric in my stash - and a few more that do not fit into the catalogue.  I really have purchased fabric for sanity - I used to sew all my clothes many years ago, and frustration upon frustration, life intervened - I'm sure you are familiar with this sort of thing.  Different stories, same outcome -sewing gets sidelined.  So, with a good bit of rationalisation, that's only ten pieces of fabric a year, give or take a bit.  With 12 garments a year planned, I guess it will take me as many years to use (especially if I add little bits here and there - but really, my main goal is to use this stash up before it turns to dust - or I do!).

So now I guess I'm one step closer to organised sewing for my January project

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

from Drab to Fab - and a Guilty Confession

I have been fascinated by sewing stylish clothes  for most of my life,  although I have to admit that my attempts to both sew and wear stylish clothes have been rather hit and miss over the last decade (longer if I'm really honest) and randomly and haphazardly fitted in around other demands that life and work tend to bring - along with the inevitable haphazard results.  This year I am going to attempt to resolve this situation and actually make my  sewing and styling attempts work.

Like many other sewers I go through periods of wanting to make all my own clothes. Advantages of sewing your own garments are that they tend to be more what you want, not what you can get - better fabrics, better fit,  and with a style and colour that suit you personally.  I also need to make sure that what I make goes with what I already own, or what I can easily buy or make in a short space of time.  In short, no more making (or buying) a garment  with nothing else that goes with it. It's a good basic idea to make sure each garment goes with a minimum of two others, if not three that are already owned. And for me, it's unrealistic to make all my clothes as I have other demands in life.  In any case, sometimes a great little white t-shirt from your local store is a fantastic buy, or, in some situations, a store garment or accessory can transform a garment that is otherwise a sewing mistake!

Sewers, unlike "ordinary people" who admittedly have the usual style challenges, have another style issue - that of the fabric stash. Fabric stashes are wonderful hoards of potential and possible (or impossible?) dream garments unmade and unworn.  Languishing fabrics put away in storage somewhere  and waiting for their own textile life to begin.  Stashes usually contain  lots of fabric that is  no longer fashionable or suitable for the wearer for whatever reason - perhaps too young, dated, wrong colour, or just not liked any more.  I have gone through my stash and removed the worst offenders - they have been used either as sample garments or have gone to charity. There remains a have a large stash, and a wardrobe  full of hit and miss sewing projects along with an assortment of store brought clothing.  Some garments  go with other garments and and some garments don't go with anything at all.   Its time for a disciplined sewing approach so that everything in my wardrobe can be worn with something else.

Sewers also accumulate patterns - usually lots of them, for usually the same reasons the stash was accumulated.  Often fabric in the stash was purchased for a particular pattern, and sometimes a particular pattern was purchased for something in the stash.  Or sometimes, the pattern was just purchased because it was liked, or for ideas, or for one day, when you finally get around to it. Fabric stashes grow like that too - one fabric entices you and leads you to another, and before you know it, you are surrounded by stash.  Which is lovely, but when the time comes, its always too tempting to buy something just perfect for the project that once again never seems to quite start. I'm guilty of all these  sewing sins  that have resulted in a large pattern hoard and fabric stash.

So, a disciplined approach to using fabrics from the stash and pattern collection is also needed.  I'm going to document my progress on this blog  to see if I can actually achieve this goal.

My stash is a good stash (in terms of both quality and quantity) consisting of  very classic fabrics in very classic colours like black, grey, navy and white. Most of my current clothes are also, well, classic, but, perhaps really, more honestly, quite safe and drab.  So, I also resolve to make some garments that are a little more fab and a little less drab.

And, wouldn't you know, as luck would have it today, I had to call into a local supermarket, which just happens to be close to a fabric store - and - a guilty confession - a quick detour to the fabric store just to have a look - but as luck would have it - more fabric for the stash - but at least a with more colour and vivacity.  More for the stash - although the dream of an eventual sewing session always keeps me sane - and sanity comes at a price, n'est-ce-pas? But this purchase was justified because the fabric pieces are fab and not drab.  Just what I need, after all - and this is how the stash grows.

So, my  sewing goals for the year are:

 1:  Make one garment a month which must go with at least two other garments I already own or am prepared to buy or make to go with it - in a reasonable time frame (which means straight away or it will likely never happen).

 2:  Start wearing these garments instead of my usual default of plain black pants and top or whatever else is lying around.

3: Use fabric in my stash before I buy anymore - it can be used for garments or if I don't really like it anymore, for a trial of the planned garment.  Of course, there are umpteen proviso's here- obviously, if I need some fabric to go with some fabric, that would have to be okay, or to make garment to go with something I already have, that would have to be okay as well.  Or if you see something absolutely divine, of course, there is always a proviso for that. Or if one is in a place where there is a wonderful fabric store that they just don't have where you live - well, you couldn't miss that opportunity, could you?

4. To actually use some of my pattern library and to actually use my Burda magazine patterns instead of just drooling over ideas I like.

5. And to do some knitting as well. 

That's it for today, but before I go - my (pleasurably) guilty fabric purchases:

Stetch Cotton Sateen, black and white print

Certainly more fab than drab.  Can't wait!! Stretch Cotton Sateen.