Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March review.


No, I have not disappeared into the dark nether regions of the blogosphere, never to be heard or seen again.  It's just that I haven't posted for the last two weeks because I have been so busy  sewing   studying hard.    There is a lot of writing we have to submit early next week.  I have made two things, and of course, my usual sewing substitute when studying, stashing on the side.


A piece of knit, and a lovely wool/polyester blend tweed.
Poplin, for when I next need to make DH a nightshirt.
Polyester ponte and ?acrylic rib knit from Op Shop.
Stashed: 1 metre of cotton, nylon/ Spandex knit
2 metres of black and white tweed
2.5 metres of polyester knit from op shop
2 metres  of polyester ponte weight knit, op ship

8 metres of nightshirt fabric for replacements, DH. This doesn't really count as it is not for me!

Purchased and used - 2 meters of fleecy
Used from stash - 2.1 of poly/nylon rib (jacket) 

So, the stash has increased again! by 3.5 metres approximately.
I only purchased one pattern, and that is to replace one that has been cut and not able to be easily re-used.  No Burda Magazines, no PDF's. I have been quite restrained  virtuously studying.

I've converted this pattern

to this jacket, first made as a wearable muslin in a polyester-nylon rib knit fabric. 

And a second version in a tracksuit fleece, polyester and cotton.  Warm and snuggly.

And I have also started work on this shirt.  I hope to have a post about this in a few days time:

A very hasty post, a very quick review of the month, now back to study.  Groan.  Still, the semester will be over in a few months, and then I will be having a holiday in the second half of the year.  Well deserved,   after all the hassle of sorting out  problems with  DH's practice in the last two years.  Who would have thought my early training would have come back to help and haunt me at this stage in life!    More later :)

I hope you are all happy and sewing,

Sarah Liz

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Butterick 5926 Jacket - The Fleecy Version

It's done - I have finally made the planned fleece jacket.  It was a little hard going as I have not sewn sweatshirt fleece before (tracksuit fleece) and I did not know it's little ways.  Plus I came down with the most awful head cold.  That's why I have cut my face out of the picture - I have a red nose, and then underneath that, a large cold sore that erupted.  Normally I am quite relaxed about photos, but even I have limits!.

Anyway, back to the jacket.  The pattern is Butterick 5926, designed for knit fabrics:


I made the test version immediately prior to this one and have blogged about the process and any pattern alterations here, if you are interested in finding out about this.

I made this version out of polycotton sweatshirt (tracksuit) fleece, purchased from Spotlight.

I cut just a smidge more on the jacket side and sleeve seams as I thought the turn of cloth may take up a bit of room.  I did not want a tight jacket as I may wear it over cardigans and sweaters.

The fabric  seemed to have about the same amount of stretch as the fabric in my test version, but did in fact have just a bit more give.  I also found it very bouncy to sew.  I was a little worried about how the collar would sit, but with top stitching all the layers were forced into place quite well:

(Hmm, I didn't hang the jacket on the coat hanger straight!  In fact, things do line up properly.  I always check lapel lengths and collar lengths and turns each step of the way, so that there are no hidden surprises like a the front edges being vastly different lengths).

I also stitched the top edge of the pocket down.  The pattern just has this folded over, which worked with last weeks version, but was not going to stay put in fleece.  I stabilised the edge with a strip of interfacing first:

The hem cause me some grief - I overlocked it and then stitched it in place, but it was terribly stretched and distorted.  Out with the stitch unpicker...

I undid it and resorted to cheating.  Yes, Sarah Liz used a product.  I find this almost tantamount to taking an easy shortcut, given that I have had to learn how to do things without such things and believe that to be the hallmark of good sewing!

I used a lightweight fusible something that is quite cobwebby and sticks edges together.   It still seems to have a bit of give, but the fabric is stable when it is sewn.  I am not sure what the equivalent is overseas (I'm in Australia) but this is what I used:

And the finished hem lies flat:

I also used a bit of stretch lace on the edge, just to make things look a little nicer along the hem edge.

My overlocker seems to balk at thick layers, and it did not want to co-operate with overlocking the sleeve/armscye edges, so I bound them with lace, so that they looked finished:

And button, again, the button and snap trick:

(On the jacket that was not lined up properly on the hanger and so looks uneven at the hem.  Not so in real life when adjusted correctly).

(That's the sort of inattention to detail that happens when recovering from a head cold!).

I did find that the jacket stretched a little across the back/neck, so the shoulders are just a little over the edge of my shoulders.  Next time I will work out a way to stabilise the neck in this jacket - which is unfaced at the back. Maybe I'll cut the undercollar on the non stretchy direction.  I'll figure out a way...

But as my DH says, this is an unstructured jacket, and just what I want for a smart casual throw on thing that can take some punishment.

Okay, pictures now - I've taken care to not quite show my face in most of these, due to the huge red thing that is not very photogenic :).  I'm probably exaggerating, but you probably all know how I feel...

 And, finally just to show you that the jacket does line up - I'm standing at a slight angle in this headless shot:

So that's it for this week.  I'm not sure what next weeks sewing plans are - I got a bit behind with study this week due to the under the weather effect, so I will have to catch up.  I'll see what happens.

For now, all the best to you all, wherever you are in the world.

Sarah Liz

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Great Wearable Muslin Jacket - Butterick 5926.

I want to make a fleecy jacket (sweatshirt fleecy in the U.S., tracksuit fleecy here ) for smart casual wear for the cooler months. 

The pattern I think would work for this is Butterick 5926:

This is a simple, unlined jacket sized for knits.  It has a centre back seam and front darts, and one piece sleeves:

Two lengths with patch pockets and two sleeve lengths.  I chose the shorter jacket, with long sleeves.  I rummaged through the stash and found this piece of knit, a polyester/nylon rib knit that I didn't like (I'm not a polyester person) purchased on one of Spotlight's special buy tables for $5.00 a metre.  I thought it would be ideal for trialing this jacket:

First I made a quick muslin - even fabrics I don't like and am going to make into a test/muslin garment get a quick fitting muslin:

I cut size 10 for most of the garment, with size 12 through the sides as I found that the jacket was just too fitted for my mid section.  The darts were fine, the waist needed to be raised - which I did just by changing the shape of the jacket to more of an A-line from the point where my waist was.  I also took in the shoulder by half an inch.  I shortened the sleeves along the lower L/S line by one inch/2 cm approx.  I was unsure where the elbow dart would end ; in the finished garment it looked low but when I bent my elbow was in the right place.

Then I made my trial jacket, which made up quickly and easily.  I do not like sewing with knits, but this fabric was a dream to sew.  I interfaced the facings and collars with a lightweight stretch interfacing:

 I topstitched all edges about 1 cm in - I liked the defined chunkiness of this amount as it went with the textured rib pattern:

I made a small mistake cutting the jacket and did not properly align my stripes on the jacket fronts, which didn't matter because I realised my mistake and did cut the facings properly.  But it did mean that if I cut the pockets with the stripes running down, the mistake would be obvious. So I cut them horizontally instead, which actually looks really good:

I decided to close the jacket with snaps and then put a button on the side you expect the button.  I can do good buttonholes on knits ( I have my own way of stabilising the inside of the buttonhole which I will teach you one day).  The snaps and buttons do line up, but I didn't do a good job of aligning them when dressing my dummy:

The inside was just overlocked, hem overlocked and turned up.  Hard to see on black, of course:

Now for pictures of moi wearing the jacket:

I hate the standing still poses, especially the showing you the back shots, because in real life, you actually move and clothes look quite different:

So, that is my new wearable muslin jacket, made out of a fabric I do not like.   Strangely, I now like this jacket a lot, and am already wearing it.  It has a bit of warmth for wearing in air-condititoning or cooler days, and it is comfortable.  So from a fabric in my stash that I did not like to a jacket in my wardrobe I love.

Sewing doesn't get much better than that!

I love this little pattern and it will go into my will make again TNT's.  I think this will make a great alternative to cardigans - I can see many versions in all sorts of different knits.

But first, the fleece jacket, as planned....and which I hope to show you soon :)

Have a great week everyone, wherever you are,

Sarah Liz

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sewing for my lifestyle...

Why have I started this post with the image of a small plane?  Well, I was prompted to think about my style identity a little this week after reading a blog post written by an image consultant.  While I often read her posts I often identify very little.  One statement she made this week was that she was adventurous.  Now I have never claimed to be adventurous, but then I thought I a little more about my life, and why my style identity can be somewhat eclectic.

 I was born in England, so I have an  underlying  English style identity (classic, elegant clothes) but it is also very Australian (much more casual and I have had limited opportunities for elegance!) as I have lived here for most of my life.  We migrated to Australia when I was 10 after my father was headhunted for a position in Sydney, We found that we had been a bit misled and that my father's vision was not going to work-  so off we went, overland, to Adelaide - and no job in sight.  My father did get the contract through that was required - he had the key to all the key people in the UK and Europe  (and the company managed to lose it after my father left, after only twelve months!)  while my mother  and her family lived in a caravan for months in Adelaide.  I found that a great adventure - my mother made it fun, but imagine how difficult it must have been for her - alone, in a new country with no support, and a young baby. So from a young age I grew up very quickly, learning to adjust to new environments.

As our fortunes as a family had changed, (not helped by my mother's wicked stepmother embezzling my mother's inheritance) I decided to train as a nurse.  This was in the good old days of hospital based training, and we worked hard - and style was not a big thing in that job!  So I developed a very practical attitude to life, and choose clothes that work for my lifestyle.

  And as an adult, I have also lived in many places in Australia - Adelaide (bottom of South Australia and my Australian hometown), Perth (south west part of Western Australia), Perth, Alice Springs (now that's adventurous - not many people will go there - but it is a wonderful place to live, a real sense of community - not even showing on this map - which just goes to show how most people are unaware of the place - it's just above the mid point of the line dividing South Australia from the Northern Territory, ), now Newcastle - just north of Sydney, on the east of New South Wales.  And I thought nothing of any of these moves - it must have been my early migration experiences that allow me to upstumps and relocated more easily than some people.  So I think I am more adventurous than the style blogger I was reading who had lived in one spot all her life and went on holidays where she had adventures.  I seem to have lived them instead!  Mind you, not so much nowadays.

Although   in a few weeks time I will be going to Wagga Wagga - isn't that a great name.  Wagga Wagga is south west of Sydney, one of Australia's larger regional centres.  Most people in Australia live in the major cities, and the population thins right out in the rural areas.  In Australia, large is a little different from large in some other countries  in that our large regional centres often have populations of 25,000 or less. This would be tiny in many countries, but rates as a large city in rural areas in Australia!   Wagga (we all tend to shorten the name) is about 75,000 people - it grew a lot a few years ago when the College of Higher Education became a University and drew more people to the area.  And that is where my study is based - I study by distance. I do have to do a residential school later this year and will be travelling by plane to Wagga Wagga.  I could drive, but this is no more expensive. My husband is a little little protective and  likes to make things easy for me and he likes to book these flights for me.  AND I like flying in  turbo prop planes.  (My father was an engineer who worked in the production of many of the worlds earliest planes, including running a factory at age 19 during WW2  that produced the Merlin engine, and setting up the factory for the first commercially successful jet, the ill fated Comet - the more recently known planes that belong in this  family tree is the Airbus,  so I grew up with a  a slight fascination with planes and globalisation - for of course, the technogies of communication and transportation are all harbingers of the global era, but I digress enormously...). 

So, back  to the Wagga Wagga airport in the middle of the Riverina area (main river the Murrumbidgee - wonderful Australia names).

 Getting of the plane, kitted out in fairly practical clothes like these people:

Going into a very small regional airport where the University bus will pick me up.

(and if you are curious about the origins of the name Wagga Wagga,  it has been inspired by words in from the language of the indigenous Wiradjuri people.  There is some conjecture are to whether it means crow, or dancing.  I guess a place rich in crow food would also be a good place for celebrations and dancing, so maybe there is a linguistic trail there that someone will work out one day).

 And staying maybe in one of the University residences or maybe one of the Halls - or if booked out, in a motel in "town"as we say in Australia:

 And going to classes up the hill:

The temperatures will be around 22 degrees C during the day and go down to about 9 degrees at night.  I decided I needed a warm fleecy jacket for both the travel and the campus,  that is casual but looks smart.  So that is what I am going to make next:

First I will make a muslin out of a cheap knit I have saved for muslin purposes, then I hope, if the pattern works, to make a second version in a warm tracksuit fleece - or sweater fleece, as I think it is called in the U.S.

So, I think my style identity is a very practical sort of classic casual with an elegant edge,  which I adapt to whatever environment I happen to be in.   Because you can never be elegant if you are not dressed for the lifestyle or culture of the people you are mixing with - and you must always take an  interest in them too :). 

Best of wishes to all of you, wherever you are in the world

Sarah Liz

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Finished Nightshirts and February Review

February has been a bit of a blah month with a visit from my old friend, chronic sinusitis.  After some assertive management, I seem to be on the mend, which is just as well, because I officially start study tomorrow.  So for the next few months sewing will be focused on simple projects that I can sew each day as a reward for doing my study. 

This month I managed to make four garments - and two of these were nightshirts for DH.  They will be a gift for his birthday in May. 

I had to do quite a few buttonholes, and did not use my domestic machine  which does an automatic computerised buttonhole, but opted for operator skill on my heavy duty machine.  I thought it would do a better job of making a buttonhole that has to last a few years:

Not easy to do when you  have a sore face and head :).  Everything has to be measured and drawn, but the stitching is always very even - but you do have to be careful  not to accidentally move left or right of the line you have drawn.  I always use this machine for very thick fabrics like coating wool that tends to be too thick for some machines.   So - I like to keep in practice on garments like nightshirts that don't matter so much, just for when I need to use this skill on something that does matter.

As I have had time over the last few weeks to solve sewing problems, I decided to go back to solving my pants fitting dilemma.  I'm starting to get there.

Pattern used was McCall's 6711.


In total, 4 garments.  I used up 11.1 metres of stash.

Now, About the Stash.  I may have used up 11.1 metres - but also purchased a  lot of stash. 22.5metres  in fact.  Double the amount I used. Quite justifiably though (isn't that what we all say ??)

8 metres of flannelette to replace DH's nightshirts in a few years time.  Why stash now?  Because usually when I go to buy something even as basic as a plain flannelette, it will not be in stock.  So the scarcity principle operates.  buy it now while it is in stock and stash it.

AND  5 metres of pure cotton knit, going out cheaply, to stash for replacement nighties for myself one day.  I stashed this,because my local store does not have cheap cotton knit often, and if I order it by mail, the freight costs quite a bit.

Yellow for me, Blue for him

I also stashed some cotton/nylon/elastane knit - 5 metres.  Why? Because it is similar to a ponte weight and was only $3.00 per metre.  It was also in a colour I like.  I'll use this for wearable muslins - knits can be quite expensive, so if I find something cheap I tend to stash it so I have something that is not too expensive  to use as a muslin fabric.  

I also stashed 3.5 metres of cotton poplin, navy with white polka dots.  Why?  Because I have not seen this in stock for about three years.  I stashed then, but that bit of stash has been whittled down, so I thought I would stash this  while it is around.  The scarcity principle again.

I also decided that I did not like this top at all:

Yes, the Twee Top has gone.  I feel relieved that I won't have to wear it or pretend to like it.  I do think that I can modify this top to make something that I do like.  One of the main problems was ironing the sleeves - cotton lawn and puffy, pleated sleeves are an ironing nightmare.  Fifteen minutes of ironing and just as many wrinkles as ever. But now it has Gone from my life.  Hooray :)

And I fixed a garment.  This knit cardigan was purchased some time ago and I had not worn it.  I pulled it out to wear the other day and noticed that there was a ladder all down the back.  Because the pattern was so busy, I did not notice when I bought it.  I don't have the receipt anymore, so I couldn't take it back.  So I improved the cardigan instead by adding a designer feature down the back - a strip of cotton lace that matches the lace ruffles:

That's my February roundup. I find it quite helpful to write these, because it forces you to think more about what you want to achieve with sewing.  Besides stashing.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week....

Sarah Liz