Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 Make a Garment A Month Guidelines

Hello everyone,

This is a slightly different post from my usual posts about garments I have made.  I will resume those next year...And I hope to get back to commenting and posting regularly.  2017 was a bit topsy turvy
and challenging so I really found it hard to blog.

This post is  a long and wordy post, quite unlike my usual picture and quick notational style that I use for my sewing posts. But sometimes lots of words are necessary...

Anyway, without further ado, To Business

Some of you know that I facilitate the Make a Garment a Month Challenge on both Facebook (closed group) and Instagram.

And some of you don't.  Some of you are visiting this post because you found out about this challenge on Instagram and want to see what we are doing this year.

And some of you may be regular readers of this blog but not know that I run this challenge.  And some of you will want to join in.

Make a Garment a Month has been running for some years now.  It started with me mentioning on one of my blog posts that I was going to get quite busy and that I would aim to make a garment a month. Other people thought that was a good idea, and wanted to join in.  That led to us writing a communal blog during 2013 and 2014 called, yes, you guessed it,  Make a Garment a Month.  (click on the link if you want to see what we got up to...)

Running a group blog got a little too demanding for poor old me, who works, studied at the time, runs a domestic world (doesn't that sound grand) and tries to sew and write her own blog too.  So we moved to Facebook and work within a closed group.

And then Instagram started to become quite the place to also be, so I let the IG sewing world know about this challenge.  Many of us post on the Facebook page as well as Instagram...the two approaches are quite different and also some people only do Facebook or Instagram, so it is a way of opening up the challenge.

Of course, when I first uttered my thought about Making a Garment a Month I had no idea it was going to become a global sewing challenge.   It still amazes me.  And is wonderful to see such dedicated and talented sewists all coming together to share and sew.

My original themes were always rather fun and abstract and many of you got the hang of it and had a lot of fun, and made some great theme suggestions.  I have continued this idea, but I think that as we are now entering our fifth full year, it is time to freshen up the concept and get a new focus.  Especially as so many more of you are taking part.

My original concept was to encourage sewers to set aside a small amount of time to regularly sew.  So often life suggests we give up sewing, even though we love it, as if it was not important.  But to most of us it is important and helps to restore calm and balance in our lives.  I also made it a rule that sewing was to be Selfish Sewing only, because, well,  in a nutshell, you are important and deserve your own Me Made Clothes and you deserve your well earned sewing time.

I always encouraged sewers to make garments that worked for many challenges are not always what you want to wear.  Also, I find that we are so influenced by what is going on in the social media world of sewing, that we sometimes make things that look good on other people and for other lifestyles that do not work for us!  So, first and foremost, I always said sew what works for you.

This year I want to up the ante a bit and change the challenge slightly:

Over the years, I have discovered that there are consistent themes that keep recurring with sewers...the need for basics, the need to use up stash, and the need to use up a hoard of sewing patterns that you keep adding to...And consistently, we get sidetracked and still need to make up those basics, use the stash, and tackle that backlog of patterns waiting for us.

In addition, there are all sorts of stimulating challenges on the wonderful internet sewing world, from the #makenine2018 on Instagram, #2018rtwfast on Instagram and also see Sarah's blog Goodbye Valentino, Sewing Pattern Reviews   various contests, stashbusting challenges, and all sorts of other wonderful sewing events that are hosted by the internet sewing community.

Now this is all very well, wonderful fun but for 2018 for 2018 I will be asking you to think about your main sewing needs and objectives. As you probably already know, I never want you to make something that does not fit your lifestyle and wardrobe needs. So, I want you to sit down and work out what you want to do this year.  You also have limited time, so I want you to think about what time you have and how you want to tackle your wardrobe and sewing needs this year.

Make More Basics? Make Mini Capsule Wardrobes? Explore the Pattern Stash? Sew the Stash? Are you doing other challenger such as Makenine ?

Do you have a pile of UFOs you want to tackle?  Or USI's (unrealized sewing ideas)?

Are you doing the RTW fast – in which case you may need to check what is missing in your wardrobe and prioritize that.

And are you one of these people that loves to combine all the challenges going around into one garment? That's okay too.  Or do you like to just join in everything?  Yes, that's okay too, just make sure one of them works for the Make a Garment a Month Challenge.

Some of you have commented that you make more than one garment a month...and yes, that is okay, I am not going to discourage you there! I often sew more than one garment a month as well, or am in the stages of toiling a garment behind the scenes.  But sometimes I don't have much time to those months I always make sure though to make one garment a month for myself just to stay sane.

 What Make A Garment a Month is about is making sure you commit to one garment a month that you actually make specifically for that month. It's about regular, selfish sewing time. It's also about interacting with other sewers, and making new friends, and new ideas and all the other lovely things that come with being involved.

Each month I will have a theme that you are to use along with your 2018 Sewing Plan. I use the theme to keep us motivated.

This month I will be asking you to post your 2018 MAGAM plans...this will help you focus and it will help my set my themes this will be so interesting to see how other sewers think and plan!  And I will also ask you to post your plans as you normally do.  Instructions are always on the monthly button that I publish.

Some of you will be wanting to know how to join in. If you are on Instagram, you use your own account and publish on that, and just use the #makeagarmentamonth@sarahlizsewstyle.  That way I will be able to find your posts.  I also use my own account, not a dedicated account for Make a Garment a Month.  It just becomes too much work for me...I volunteer my time to co-ordinate this, and it does have limits.

And if you want to join our Facebook group, you must have a Facebook account.  Email me and I will send you an invite.

Here's to a great new Make a Garment a Month Sewing Year...

Sarah Liz

P.S.  My plans are somewhat scatty at the moment, but I think I will be focused on making basics every month that plug wardrobe gaps.  I am choosing simple basics because I know that I have a lot of responsibilities and demands in 2018.  I also need to finish some started projects and USI's.  AS for the stash...and the patterns that I need to use...the Indies I need to explore...Like you, I need to focus and write my MAGAM 2018 sewing plan and post it!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Summertime and the dresses are easy...McCall's 7120.

I say every summer that I need to make some loose throw on dresses to wear on very hot days. Trouble is, I don't like this sort of dress, so I procrastinate on making them.  A few days ago, the annual script started again, only this time I pulled out a remnant of rayon and made a wearable muslin.  

Now, pull on dresses by their very nature are a bit sack like - they do, after all have to pull on.  I wasn't sure which pull on sack like dress pattern I should choose, but eventually settled on McCall's 7120, a learn to sew pattern:

 Picture 1 of 2

I wasn't sure what size to make, because I do find I need quite a bit of ease across my back - I am quite an active person and also need to be able to bend over fully as I do back stretches during the day or my back will get stiff and sore.

So I settled on my bust size of 34 inches.  I did a quick muslin of my shoulder and arm area and established I needed small shoulders.  As for the neckline, it was nearly down to my navel.  So I spent quite some time altering that - first I made a little neckline shape to make sure that the eventual neckline would fit over my head.  It does, with a little to clear.  But as you can see from the photos, any larger and it would be too large and slide all over the place.

For the body, I cut size M but altered the bust point in to close to the small point.  I chose to cut the dress quite long as the oversized flowal print needed this.  I was guided by how much fabric I had, but I think the length turned out about right for the large scale of the pattern.

I cut the shorter sleeve - I needed to cut this on the crosswise grain, as I only had 1.1 metres of rayon (137 wide).  Facings were made from scraps of voile and pockets from some muslin I had left from something.  They only need to hold tissues so don't need to be too thick and weigh the dress down.

Sleeves are just a tiny bit shorter than the pattern as I had run out of material.  But I think this is about right as I can move my arms freely. Any longer and range of movement may be more restricted.

Then I sewed it up - the bulk of the time really was in changing the pattern and fiddling with the neckline.  Hems were turned over twice ( /1.5 cm total) and stitched.

As usual, McCall's runs quite large, and the final result is no exception.  Still, for a hot and humid day, I think this may be a virtue.  We are expecting 40 tomorrow...

Can I go now???  At least I can move and walk briskly in my floral frangipani dress:

Yes, generous and loose and floppy and so cool to wear.  I will be ready for 40 degrees and high humidity tomorrow.  A really fantastic use of $2.20 worth of a remnant of floral rayon that I didn't really like.  I collect remnants for making wearable muslins...sometimes also a nice garment!

As for the pattern, now I have the neckline sorted out, I might make a loose dress again.  But I would probably make the Small size.  Or look for a pattern that is loose and generous but a little nicer in shape. 

I think that a beginner would be very disappointed with this pattern - neck too low, and far too generous in size.   But for me, for now, it's a tick off the list...

Take care everyone, it's a busy and stressful time in the lead up to Christmas...

Bye for now,

Sarah Liz

UPDATE:  I am wearing the dress today.  It is a very hot day (up to 39C already) and the dress is just perfect for the weather.  In very hot weather you need really loose clothes, so although my first thoughts were that this dress was too large, it is actually just right for this sort of weather as it allows air to circulate around the body, so sweat can evaporate and cool the body down.  Very important in hot climates.  There is no cling at all and it is really comfortable!  

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Going Dotty - Burda 6671

Hello everyone,

I finally think I am getting back to weekly blogging.  It sadly went by the way over the last few months while pre-occupied with things in life.  Not that the things in life have disappeared, but are more now a known quantity.

So,  I am sorry I have not had time to reply to any of your comments.  I should be back doing that this week.  I did enjoy your thoughts about social media though - and I am sure this will be a subject for discussion in the future.  This week I have curtailed my activity on Instagram, and plan to use it more for chatting to established IG sewing friends and to post blog notices, and of  course, to facilitate the Make a Garment a Month Challenge.   So blogging will be my preferred medium.

And I think my colourful knit dress surprised you - you are so used to my rather practical sewing.  I may have more surprises in store for you in the future...


The photos I took this week are fairly natural I'm looking tired and without my normal twinkle and sparkle- not surprising, since I got up at 0430 today after a thunderstorm well and truly woke me up.  I also  have lines around legs where I had socks on while doing a few odd jobs outside - I like to protect my ankles from scratches.  Sock marks go, scratches in our humid climate are still looking unsightly weeks later as they do not heal quickly.  And my hair needs trimming and tidying up - I'm due to go before Xmas.  So, hardly model material today!!

But, that doesn't matter, because we are here to discuss THE  DRESS. My spotty, dotty Burda 6671:

I loved this dress as soon as I saw it and knew it was absolutely perfect for my type of figure.  It is also a Miss Petite pattern, and I am about 160 cm, so fit into the Miss Petite category.

I made view B, but used the tabs from view A.  The dress is unlined...and I kept it that way, because in our climate, less is more.  And this is also the first dress I have made from this pattern, and as such is more a test dress.

I used a cotton poplin, 1.3 metres (112 wide)  purchased from Spotlight.  It is black with small off white dots.  Why I purchased such a small amount, I have not idea.  Maybe I was thinking a shirt.  But, because I have very slim hips, I can occasionally squeeze garments out of not very much. To help matters, I used a poly cotton facing, and lined  the tabs with this as well. A quick lay out convinced me that with some compromises such as using the selvedge edge and losing the odd snip of a corner here and there, I would just about manage. I did take 1/4 inch of the hem and hemmed with a slightly smaller hem allowance.  And the sleeves were also cut shorter and the hem was halved to 3/4 inch.

The final dress is half an inch shorter and the sleeves are 3/4 inch shorter. I also seamed the dropped waist seam at about 1/2 inch instead of 5/8 inch, which just makes the bodice a touch longer.

I did of course make a toile.  I cut size 38, which is my starting point with Burda patterns.  I found that it was too tight over the bust - it was quite a triangular shape - wider over the hips and smaller at the bust.  I added extra to the side of the front piece and altered the bust dart slightly, and retoiled the bodice.  This worked well, except I had fullness in the back.  I removed this by doing an upright, narrow back adjustment.

And, I added pockets (poly cotton)  at the side, nestling under the tab:

The dress is fastened by an invisible zip at the back:

Somehow I got that back waist seam meeting perfectly at the zipper!

I did have trouble easing the sleeves in.  I didn't on the muslin, but of course poplin is a really firm weave.  I pushed and pulled, but still had small puckers in areas.  So I undid them - and I hate broken seams at the sleeve cos you can see them if you look hard. But, I was not going to undo what worked, and figured it was more important to look good on the outside.  More pushing and pulling - I really pulled hard on the body...and I got the sleeve in perfectly.  I have decided not to press it because it sits quite well, and any curved ease is just not going to press nicely, it will also pucker.  I know, I have learnt that before with poplin.  So if I use poplin again, I will remove just a tiny bit of ease.  A looser weave will be fine.

I consider this dress a  test dress and as such, is a great success.  The colour is not that flattering for me, but if I was not quite so tired, I think I would get away with it! And, the style is Just So Me!

Here are the front, side and back views:

Well, that's it for today, I'll be back next week with one of my large backlog of unblogged garments.

Best wishes for you all,

Sarah Liz

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Back with BURDA 7646.

 It seems weeks since I last blogged, because it has been weeks since I last blogged.  I have been really busy recently and also very tired.   The two probably go hand in hand.  And the tiredness really shows in today's pictures.

 And any social media time seems to have been taken up by Instagram.

And I find that really, although Instagram is quite addictive - and there are sound psychological reasons why this is so, which I will not go into here - I do not enjoy it that much.  And it is very intrusive, in it's own way.

But I do enjoy blogging. So after I have finished my current Instagram challenge, I will use Instagram sparingly and as an add to my blogging, not the other way around.

Today I am quickly going to show you my latest make.  It's a simple dress made out of a Spotlight remnant of a very fine rayon knit.  I think it also has elastane in it, because it is rather stretchy.

I wanted a dress that I could wear on very hot, humid evenings at home.  I thought this rather bright remnant would do the job nicely.  I chose a Burda pattern,   BURDA 7646:

As you can see, it is a very simple pattern, a front and a back.  I didn't like the V neckline so changed it to a scoop neckline.  The neckline is faced.  I wasn't sure about this on a knit, but decided to try it and see what happened.   What happened is that it is okay, but I don't really like it.  With the fabric I was using though, it probably helps to keep the neckline stable.  

While the dress is certainly as shown on the picture, if you make allowances for the fact that the fabric I used is a lot more flimsy and floppy, and for my altered neckline -  the dress is just like the picture.  I don't think this bright, colourful  and large pattern suits me me, but I  knew that - but thought it would be perfect for the planned activity. And sometimes it's fun to wear something quite different! 

The dress certainly feels like wearing nothing much at all, it is so soft and silky and roomy.  I'm ready for that first really hot night - or day, if it comes to that!

It was also the first time I had sewn this type of knit, and I knew I would probably have problems - and I did.  I could not sew the facing to the neckline easily - the machine did not like this fabric.  So I got out the Coverstitch machine and used a chainstitch for the first time.  And I top stitched with the chainstitch as well.  First time I have done that, so the results are not perfect, but quite passable.

The seams were not problematic, the overlocker had no trouble with them.

Then I did the hem.  I did a sample two thread coverstitch hem and it looked okay.  So I then did the hem - and it tunnelled.  I played with the tension and this still happened.  And the sleeve hems, which go against the direction of stretch, tunnelled so much that I seem to have achieved a pin tuck effect!  So I am calling that a unique design feature.

Puzzled by why this had happened, I played around with the machine settings.  I later discovered that the differential feed needed to be altered.  However, you don't really find examples in books anymore - visuals to show you what various settings do - it's trial and error with these machines.

I am also still having trouble with sewing a hem blind, but that will come with time and practice.

So the dress was a learning experience - which is why I used a remnant piece in a pattern that I was not sure about - so that if the learning experience turned out to be more so, the end result could be binned (or re-used more likely) with nothing lost and much gained.

Now my pictures:

That's it for today, it's nice to be back with you all...

Sarah Liz

Saturday, October 28, 2017

October Slow Sewing - and What I Found Out.

October  has been a strange sort of month - both on the personal front and the sewing front.   The personal front is not that interesting to write about - just that our transition from a secure contract to full self employment has been a little tedious.  So I settled on a simple hand sewn skirt for the month of October, thinking that slow sewing Alabama Chanin style would sooth my soul.

I found a picture that rather appealed to me as it is geometric.  I happen to like geometric patterns.


The randomness of the shapes I thought would work well with cotton jersey, because it is not easy to cut straight.  Some easy hand stitching, nice and relaxing, and voila, a nice me made Alabama Chanin  inspired skirt.

I notice that my inspiration design had stencilled stripes applied to the background fabric.  So I decided to draw on some stripes with a wax dye crayon. I then ironed them to fix the dye (with of course paper on top of the wax to protect the iron and sop up residue).

Then I set to work stitching on shapes.  A nice cuppa, some hand sewing, should be bliss.

Only it wasn't.  I soon got very, very, bored.  I have always like hand sewing and embroidery, but this was just too basic for me.  However, I thought this was just a mood due to life stresses. So I thought that I should proceed and a stitched  quite a few patches on the front of the skirt:

At this stage I thought I should hold it up and admire my handiwork and think how great this will look as a casual skirt.

So I held it up (in front of a mirror of course, so I could see what it looked like) and tried to like it, I really did.  I tried hard.

Only I did not like it.  I did not like the rustic, first time I have ever attempted hand sewing look.  I know this look works for some people, but I just did not like it.   I think it just looked too handhewn and casual for me.

I thought about this for a while, and decided that yes, I do like the Alabama Chanin  look, but really, I prefer a much more polished look.  I think I would like to revisit a hand worked technique on cotton jersey, but in a much more complex and refined way. I am quite capable of that - beading and lots of work. And to only attempt to do a small amount every day to relax, and not as an activity in itself.    This sort of slow but quick handhewn sewing is just not me.   I like my needlework and embroidery to be detailed and exquisite.  Even if it takes ages to finish.  So I shall revisit the Alabama Chanin techniques outlined  in her book "Studio Sewing and Design" at some future point in time and aim for something a little more detailed.  I also like her takes on  classic garments - things like jackets for instance, that are hand sewn and sometimes embroidered.

I also had to think about my personal style.  I think with sewing, we can get swayed by all the wonderful ideas floating around the sewing community.  And it is good to try a few of them, because you can get stuck in a bit of a sewing and style rut.  But sometimes, we just stray away from our core likes, and forget what really suits us.

And really, what suits me?  I think  at heart I am a classic style type.  And I really should make sure that I stick to a classic base for all my sewing.   I can push the edges, so long as I don't go over the sides in the future!

That's it for now, back with my next mishap story (yes, there is another!) soon...

Sarah Liz

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Back Blogging: The Saved Top, Artwear August.

Hello Everyone,

Yes, I am looking pretty pleased with myself. That's because this little knit top was a save from a garment that I made that I did not really like, and that at the last moment I cut a hole in while trimming back the neckband seam.  Yes, quite accidentally, but deep down I was quite pleased because I would not have to wear a top I did not really like.

The original plan was to make a Marcy Tilton knit top, Butterick 6218:

Image result for butterick 6218

Image result for butterick 6218

This was also my challenge top for " Make a Garment a Month Artwear August ".

(For those of you that don't know, Make a Garment a Month is a monthly sew-a-long that I facilitate both on Facebook and Instagram. ).

I planned to use a leftover piece of black combed cotton jersey, a small piece of purple combed cotton jersey living in the stash, and I purchased a small piece of midnight blue combed cotton jersey ( all combed cotton from Spotlight).

I made the colour block version of the top.  I cut size 8  - and the finished measurements for that were 40 inches bust - in a knit!!!  The neck shape was really strange - a semi circle front and back.  I always make sure the neck fits over my head - and test the band before I sew it on as well.  Let's say it was a firm fit, unlike the look in the photo.  Maybe this was because I cut a small size, but I have never had a problem like this before.  As it was, I found the top way too voluminous and didn't really like the tail at the back.  I was relieved to finish it, and was trimming away the excess fabric after finishing the neckband the pattern's way - and I hate this method - when, snip, I accidentally cut the fabric of the garment.  

Secretly relieved that the top was now ruined, so I would not have to wear it, I pondered what to do next.  You see, I hate wasting fabric.  I looked at the pieces, and thought I could recut the front and keep the asymetrical look and button band. I recut the back out of the rest of the black leftover fabric, along with the sleeves. I used my favourite T-shirt pattern, Kwik Sew 3766.

 I added blue sleeve bands, recut from the top  to tie the garment together and make a three quarter sleeve for spring and autumn wearing.  

I also became very familiar with my coverstitch with this garment, using it wherever I could.  Except the new neckband, cut from polycotton ribbing.  I overlocked this on, and then zig zagged the seam down.  I am not yet confident about doing neckbands with the coverstitch, I will need to do some practice runs first.

Close up of mock opening :

Inside the hem - narrow two stitch coverstitch - and I managed to even cover the hem!

Sleeve band - I used the coverstitch for the seamline double top-stitching effect and for the hem:

The buttons - five happy buttons, I always re-use the buttons from my husband's shirts.

And now, pictures of me wearing it, as usual, a Front, Side and Back view:

I think this is a smart looking knit top, much better for me because it is much more my style.  Only, I would not wear a longer sleeve top like this with thongs - I took all my back blogging picture on the same day, and it was quite warm.  I just wanted to get the photos done, and as you all probably realise, I only show the garment, not how it would be worn, or "styled" as they say now, in my everyday life.  I really should start taking some real life pictures of me made garments being worn.

That's it for now, next week I will be back to show you what I did with the rest of the fabric along with leftover pieces.  

See you then...

Sarah Liz

Sunday, October 8, 2017

My New Floral Trousers - New Look 6216 again.

Hello everyone,

I know I said I was going to back blog a selection of knit tops I have made, but I changed my mind because I have made another pair of trousers this week.  I wanted to blog them straight away and not put them on the back blog list as well.

I have wanted to make a pair of floral pants for about three years now, and had long ago stashed the fabric.  I decided it was time to actually make the things.  I had originally been inspired by a New Look Pattern:

This is an elastic waist pant with tapered leg, with or without ties.  I liked the ties, but it is really tedious trying to iron into gathers.  The side pockets are neither here nor there style wise, so I decided that I would use my TNT New Look elastic waist trouser pattern, New Look 6216:

I dare say it is exactly the same pattern with pocket and ankle modifications.  And I like the pockets in New Look 6216. 

The fabric is cotton sheeting, 240 wide.  It was purchased from Spotlight, for the grand sum of $9.99 per metre.  I got about 1.2 metres, so I have plenty left over for a skirt one day. 

Now, you would think that cotton sheeting would be easy to sew.  This piece wasn't.  I think it has some sort of finish on it because it rustles a bit.  Of course I had washed the fabric, but I think the finish is sort of designed to stay for a while.  I also think it was a very dense weave.  There was zero give in it - I could tell, when I did the pockets.  So, whether dense weave or a special finish, the end result was a piece of fabric that my needle (I used a sharp) did not want to penetrate easily. Sometimes it did, but often the fabric was resistant to piercing, and just pushed down into the feeddog.   And occasionally of course, this led to skipped stitches.  I just stitched back and forth to fix this problem.  Okay, not stellar sewing, but we home sewers have to solve these little problems. I am dead against perfectionism in sewing.  Problems arise and they have to be solved.  For a home garment, it really does not matter if the seam inside had problems - no one is going to know.  In any case, I did a false flat fell seam on the outer leg, so all looks good.  My overlocker also did not like this fabric. 

All that being said, and the pants now completed, I am really happy with them.

Before I show you the photos, just a note on fit.  Some of you commented that my trousers always fit nicely, and that my elastic waist pants do not look baggy. Well, when I use a dark fabric, they do not look baggy, because dark colours minimize any baggy oversized look. This pair are a lighter colour, and stiffer fabric, and as you can see, they are quite baggy.  Now, I am very thin through the legs, so I don't mind a bit of baggy volume - it gives the illusion of a shape.  Plus I can move in them.  And, being a straight figure type, I can wear almost any sort of trouser shape.  I am lucky that way. 

Anyway, the following photos will show lots of roominess!  But these will be my relaxing trousers, sort of a dressed up PJ pant!

I think it is floral trouser love - I just have to put up a few more photos!

That's it for now.  Next week I really will start showing you the knit tops. I am also playing around with my first attempts at patternmaking a bodice block.  This takes a lot of time and has to be fitted in around more pressing demands. But i n time I will share that with you too.