Saturday, November 26, 2016

Finally - Cynthia Rowley Dress (a.k.a. Simplicity 1314).

I finally found some time to tackle the backlog of blog pictures. A mammoth session with six garments finally photographed.  I can't say they are great photos (they never are with me, and I keep telling myself I must do something about this, but then, I remind myself that really, I am not interested in this aspect of sewing at all, because it is not sewing, if that makes sense.  But I like to show you what I have made, and I know lots of you like to see a pattern made up, especially if you are considering making it), especially as I took lots at once, which was just so boring!

I know you have been waiting for this dress to appear on my blog.  Cynthia Rowley, Simplicity 1314:

This dress is designed for stretch knits only, and has about a one third stretch, if you get my meaning.  My knit was a lot firmer than this, and I don't think a stretch knit would do me much justice, as it would just cling to the wrong places with me.  I'm small, but I do have a tummy, so a firmer knit is better for my tummy area.  It's a princess seamed garment, with an invisible zip at the back  and a seam at the waist area in the front and back panel.  And the seams are curved in quite a flattering shape, as I later found out.

As for size, I chose size 12, with size 10 shoulders.  I made a quick muslin of the dress out of old t-shirts - I keep them for this purpose.  Although the waist should be higher, according to the sketch and the pattern marking, I decided to go with where it was as it was and see what happened. Not that I was lazy, of course.   And this strategy worked well as the dress looks okay and the waist seam looks fine.  I lengthened the dress by 2.75 inches and added a split at the back.  I raised the neckline at the front and back - more at the front, less at the back.  When I was sewing the garment, I eased the back neckline into the facing to help it sit nicely.  I seamed the armhole/sleeve with a 3/8 inch seam, as it looked as though the 5/8 was going to be too high on my shoulder.

The fabric was a polyester/cotton knit, with a Lacoste look.  I had been wondering what to make with it, and this  sporty but still classic dress was the perfect choice.  I thought the fabric would be easy to work with, but it was a pain to sew.  Not any of my machines or needles liked it, but I ploughed on regardless. I chose to sew the seams first, which was just as well, because  the overlocker hated the fabric, and skipped stitches, but that doesn't matter.  You have to really go searching for the imperfections inside, and really, I don't think I encourage people to look inside my clothes.  What's in there is my business!  But I don't mind showing you some features.

The zip - I don't have a special foot, but you can get by with the ordinary zipper foot on an industrial machine - you have to really work at unfolding the zip a bit, but it is doable:

You can also see the waistline seam in the back, and the curved seams of the panels.  I actually matched the waist seams well when I inserted the zip - not easy on a knit.  I also had to use a black zip, so it was quite important that it went in well.  I thought black toned better with the very saturated blue I was using. The blue invisible zips at Spotlight are a strange colour and just looked wrong with this fabric.

And the back, inside, I managed to get those facings exactly even and everything looking neat. The instructions were good:

Beat in mind I was working with quite a thick knit, so I was pleased with the zipper insertion.

And the front seam curve, also shows the waistline seam across the front panel:

I made the dress as per the instructions and it went together simply and easily - excepting my battles with the fabric which really was a tough sort of knit to deal with.  Strangely, it feels okay on.

I took heaps of pictures of this dress, but only a handful turned out.  Self timed photos are just so awkward as you never know quite what you have until you load them into the computer. So, I have found the best - so you can only guess how bad the others where!  Eyes shut, scowling, out of focus, too dark, etc etc.

Well, that is hardly my best photo - no smile, poor posture and sticking my tummy out!

The back and side views are better:

Well, I do like this dress, and although some aspects could be tweaked, this is a very wearable new addition to my wardrobe.  Smart, able to be worn as a transitional garment as well as on cooler summer day,s and best of all, wash and wear.

I think this dress would look stunning in a stretch cotton sateen.  Maybe one day. And I certainly would not want to make it in anything stretchier or clingier (is that a word?)  as that just would not suit me.

Well, I will finish with my opening photo, because my posture is so much better and shows the dress to be much more flattering. And I am smiling.

I had some fabric left over, enough to make a skirt:

But that will be the subject of next weeks blog post.  Which means I am back to regular blogging and commenting from this week.  Things are settling down a bit.  Hooray :)

That's it for now, take care everyone, and see you all next week,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Curtains For Sarah Liz - Burda 6732.

Some fast and furious sewing with a quick and simple pattern eased the frustrations of a very tedious paperwork week.  Such a satisfying sew - a lovely new dress in the minimum of time.

I used Burda 6732:

I bought this pattern for $5.00 this year during one of Spotlight's pattern sales.  While the dress is too short, I do like simple kimono sleeve dresses as they are nice and cool in the heat.  I also like empire lines.  I did not like the length, and was a bit worried about the shape, but decided that I would like to see how it worked in real life.  The pattern recommends cotton fabrics, linen and linen blends.

The fabric I used was a cotton furnishing fabric, probably for curtains, once again from Spotlight.  I often check the cheap cottons in the furnishing section because some of them are really nice.  I saw this and instantly knew it would work for the Burda dress.  A couple of metres of cotton tape saw me rushing home to wash the fabric and make the dress. The fabric was $2.99 per metre, just the right price for a dress that I was not sure about.

Of course, I did a quick muslin of the upper part of the dress, to check the neckline first...

I made the neckline slightly smaller by using a 3/8 inch seam allowance instead of 5/8 inch.  I added 1.5 inches to the length.  I decided that I did not want the turn back cuff of the short sleeve version, nor did I want the longer sleeve of the blue dress.  So I extended the sleeve of the dress to make a short sleeve.  The blue dress has pockets but they are huge - very deep and wide, and they wrap around the side seam to the back.  I made smaller pockets and attached only to the front.  Unfortunately, the photos that showed the pockets turned out blurry (isn't that always the way?), but if you look hard, you can see them. You'll have to look hard, because my pattern matching was pretty good, says she modestly.

If I make this again, I would drop the CF of the neckline a little as it is a bit snug to get on and off (and yes, I did test to make sure I could before finishing the rest of the dress).  And I would put some elastic in the back and attach the ties to this, so that the dress can be tied firmly but still  have some give.

Okay, the pictures - and I have found a spot to stand that is just right - I moved to the right of where I normally stand, and it seems to be in line with the optimum path of the lights, if that makes sense.  It does tend to throw shadows especially around my face - and I look a strange colour sometimes- but at least you can see the sewing.

Well, I thnk this is a great dress for summer - and at about $20.00 total beats the cotton dresses in my local boutique, which set you back quite a bit more.  And are no nicer and don't have pockets!

Next week I should start getting back to normalwith blogging. This year has been quite awkward, very disrupted and not at all enjoyable. I still have quite a bit of backlog to work through with our problem accounts, but I think I have broken the back of the problem.  I tend to just get on with it, so I have not been good at replying to comments.  I  also sensibly pull back from some aspects of social media when life has other more pressing demands.   So I hope to be getting back on track soon - and I haven't forgotten that quite a few of you are waiting to see the Cynthia Rowley dress.  Soon, I promise :)

Take care everyone,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Nostalgic Folkloric, New Look 6461 Top.

I'm having a bit of a rayon run at the moment.  Summer will soon be here, and in our hot and humid climate the best sort of clothing is loose and baggy in a fabric that breathes and absorbs moisture.  Rayon is ideal, although I hate sewing with it.

I fell in love with this pretty printed rayon, which came from good old Spotlight.  I'm not sure that this folkloric look is quite me, but it has some sort of nostalgic feel to it, because I used to wear prints like this during 1974-1977, when I was doing my training to become a Registered Nurse. I think I should have left the look behind, but still, rayon tops don't last forever, so I might as well enjoy the re-emergence of this type of print.

I used New Look 6461:

I shortened both the front and the back, because I don't really like sitting on long shirt tails - they get so wrinkled.  And I am not a lover of extreme styles.  Funnily, I had a top like this during my nurse training days - complete with ties at the side.  Certainly won't be revisiting that again!

I cut size 12, which gives me a lot of ease, but believe me, I need it when I bend over, which I do frequently as I am that sort of person.  I actually fill the back out when I bend my cross my arms to the shoulders.

I used the size 12 armholes, but I think these would have been better as a 10.  I raised the back neck slightly and reshaped the front to make it less wide.  By my standards, it is still fairly wide.

The pattern is an A line shape, but the hem is cut straight across.  On this drapey fabric the result is drooping sides, but I see a lot of drooping sides in the shops at the moment, so wonder if it is a "thing".  In any case, with the side splits, it seems to work.  And certainly, as the border print is straight as well, it is just the right sort of line.

Although my big machine is back working, I decided to make the top on my computerised machine. My DH gave this to me as I spent a lot of time grumbling about buttonholes and wanting to be able to do them automatically. He wanted to solve the problem for me (good man that he is).  I waited until this model was half price, and then suggested it.  It also does stitches that are handy with knits, and has some embroidery patterns as well.   But I had never used it to sew a woven garment, so decided to give it a test run.

It took a bit of getting used to, as the CPU seems to have a small delay between programming and action.  But it did sew quite nicely.  I didn't like the reverse function, because with the delay, it wanted to take another stitch forward before reversing.    I also didn't like the way it didn't allow me to crimp when I attempted to ease the sleeve.  I ended up having to pull the threads up myself.  And then I found that there were puckers when I sewed the sleeve, sleeve side down, on the free arm.  So I put the sleeves in sleeve side up so I could see what I was doing.  Then they went in perfectly!

But, this little machine failed at what I call the hem corner test, even when using another piece of fabric to level the foot with.  The cheap mechanical Brother managed this with ease on the last top.  So, I got frustrated and used the big machine to quickly finish the hem.  Ahh, the bliss of the big engine sound, and the let's get on with it stitching.

However, I do now know how both these machines perform, and they will have their uses for things that I want to make on them.  Perhaps things like lingerie and knits, because I now have a walking foot that can be attached to these little machines!!  You can't put them on industrial machines, you have to buy a walking foot machine instead, and I draw the line at that!

I'll quickly post the pictures, and then it is time for me to get some dinner.  Life is still busy here, but is starting to get more manageable again.  I even had a few hours to get a new garment cut out today - including assessing pattern and working out what to modify,  doing a quick toile, and  cutting the main garment out. That means my sanity sewing for the week is now organised.

Some quick pictures for the record - still dark, I really do have to solve the photo problem one day. Even though I look shadowed, the colour of the top has turned out well!

Well, that's my Summertime Nostalgic Folkloric Resort Style Top.   It's also my chosen garment for the Make a Garment a Month Challenge. And, if you are wondering, the pants are also made by me - in a lovely cotton dobby.

I might retire this pattern now, but then again, I just had an idea. This would look fantastic in the longer length tunic in a cheesecloth over matching loose pants.  With a little cotton cami underneath.  Maybe next summer...

That's all for now, I'm hoping to get back to blogging normal next week and get back to replying to your comments promptly.


Sarah Liz

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Happy Ever After Follows a Very Frustrating Sewing Week.

Before I start this post, I just want to thank you all for your comments on my last two posts.  Unfortunately I am just too busy at the moment to reply to comments.  Next week things will start settling down again, and hopefully my usual blog habits will resume.

As you know, my big sewing machine declared itself unable to sew last Friday, with the reverse and stitch length lever firmly stuck:

I had no idea how to fix this, nor did I want to force the lever or cause any further damage. So I called in the sewing machine mechanic - luckily there is one in town that does home visits, and as this machine weighs 35 kilos, the man comes to the machine, the machine does not go to the man.  I had to wait all week, because he was busy servicing the machines in the schools this week.  He was due Friday afternoon, and finally came about 5:30 pm. Well, I am not sure what he did, other than giving it some sort of robust shake around and it "came good".  He said the machine will probably last all my life, barring mishaps that might need spare parts - this machine is not made anymore.  He noted that I was oiling well, and said that he did not need to service this as I was doing all that was needed. He showed me where I was not clearing lint out well enough, and also showed me how to take the bobbin apart if I needed to - sometimes things can get caught in the bobbin holder.  I don't think I would want to do that, it looks fiddly!  

He asked if I had any other problems - apparently, domestic machines are much more likely to cause problems!  Also, he taught me how to check whether my overlocker blade is still sharp - mine failed the test. I'll organise a service and blade resharpening in due cours - after I have dug out my retired overlocker so that it can go to work again during the absence of my current overlocker.

I did find that I was really agitated during the week, with my big machine out of action. I really do need to sew - I have been sewing since age 5, self taught.  I could not be stopped - I'll tell you one day about my sewing history. So I looked at the options available should this ever stop. This chewed up quite some time, but I know a lot about machines on the market now!  I can get an industrial lockstitch/zig zag in Australia, and the mechanic says he can put it together if I ever need to replace mine.

So, I was reduced to my domestic machines, which I really only purchased for sewing buttonholes or for the elastic stretch stitch or other stitch capabilities.  Not for my everyday sewing.  I don't tend to use them much, except for buttonholes and sometimes the stretch stitches.

This week I decided it was a good idea to start exploring these machines and figure out how to use them.  I decided to start with my mechanical cheap machine, I pulled out my Brother JS 1400, which retails about $269.00 but you can often get it for $149.00 .  I purchased mine for $99.00 about three years ago.  I usually use it for the 4 step buttonhole, when I want to make more secure buttonholes with more bartacking than is the norm with the automatic buttonhole function on my electronic Janome.  I also purchased this as an emergency back up machine, and for travelling.  I have only used it for buttonholes so far, so this week it got a work out!

I decided to make a rayon top - I had a $1.60 remnant so decided that was a good piece to use - no loss if I mucked things up.  It was sold as 80 cm, but this was because the piece was cut so crookedly, that only 80 cm lined up - it was a rhombus shape, about 105 each side.  I thought with some judicious juggling I could cut a top with little sleeves.

I used New Look 6461 as the basis for the top.  I shortened the bodice quite considerably.  I thought the hem was curved, and was too lazy to redraw a new hem line, so I just folded the length out. This made my finished A line shape very wide and swingy. The front had to be quite short so that I had enough for the sleeves. I added 5/8 inch to the length of the sleeves- I find the cap sleeves are just a bit short otherwise. I didn't bother with any sort of pattern arrangement as there was not enough material. As it so happens, the resulting pattern layout actually looks a little planned, which is just luck.

The sewing process was an Exercise in Frustration.  I found the machine very small to use, and very slow.  The presser foot does not have the weight and hold that I am used to.  I thought I would adjust to the machine quickly, because 25 years ago I had to use a small machine like this.  However, I don't remember the foot being quite the shape of the Brother foot.  It obscures the sewing line, which is okay if you are lining up with the markings on the plate, but not if you want to stitch back over your stitching.  And, I also like to see where I am going!.  Eventually I twigged, and changed the foot to the clear one supplied with the Janone.  I don't think it helped that I was sewing this top on Wednesday, with arborists outide cutting down and pruning trees and mulching the remains - here - 8 hours of noise and diesel fumes.  I got a nasty headache and felt  very drained  the next day too!  Still, that big  tree job is now done, ready for replanting with things I want. I am tired of maintaining a garden I dislike.

Anyway, I don't think I gave the Brother a fair trial with all this going on, but it did manage to make this top.  It's full of mistakes as I was not always right with the stitching and it is a bit wonky, but somehow wonkiness was the theme of the week. So this is my wonky top, but I love it anyway and it will make a great weekend who cares, I'm relaxing, sort of top.  Life's too short to worry about a bit of wonky sewing.  I even managed to get the back right hemline half an inch longer thant the left.  Not a mistake I normally make, but it sort of goes with the up and down-ness of the wonky top, so I am not going to let it bother me.  

It swings up at the front, or rather I think it dips quite a bit at the side- I did figure out later that the hem was cut straight, which means the A line was created by adding to the sides, and not slashing and spreading.  I'm seeing quite a bit of this look out and about, so I assume this is deliberate. 

I am going to make a second rayon top on the Janome, just to see how that operates next.  This is also my November Make a Garment a Month project:

Then I will be glad to get back to my beloved noisy big old Bernina 217N.  She can do 2800 stitches a minute, so I find sewing a little quicker!  I am starting to plan what to make, but with lots of choices, that can take time!

Thank you for your comments, and again, I apologise for not replying at the moment.  Any time I have for comments I would rather use commenting on your blogs at the moment.

Have a great week everyone, 

Sarah Liz