Sunday, April 30, 2017

Back Blogging - Grey Lisette Pants and A Skirt and a bit of Fitting Trivia.

Today I want to bring my blog up to date - I have two unblogged garments. They are both quite simple garments, and the pants and skirt are both using patterns I have tried before.

The pants were made from Butterick 6331.

 I have already written a post about the making of these trousers, which you can find here., so I shan't talk more about this here.

What I do want to talk about is the dreaded issue of fitting pants.  Some people have bottoms that seem to be the right shape for whatever pattern it is that has been chosen.

I am not one of those people, and I suspect many of you are not in the pants patterns fit me category either.

I think most patterns are drafted for more generous bottoms than I have.  Perhaps with slighter larger and curvier bottoms, hips and thighs.  Incidentally, I just read the other day that standard measurements were set years ago using a small sample (25,000) of white, lower middle class women.  I am not sure what country, but am assuming this was the U.S. This is hardly a representative sample statistically (and I am not going to go into the rules that govern what a representative sample is, but take it from me, this cannot be a generalisable sample, so it is not really an accurate model for all female shapes globally).

Now, I do not come from that group (family history, so I am probably not even an outlier in this group. So I can take it that these standards are not going to work for me.  Take a look at my rear end in these trousers. Strangely, these turned out not to fit as well as my earlier pair - it may have been the different fabric:

But this is nowhere near as bad as a RTW pants usually are on me:

Now, I think you would agree, that really is a sad look!   The moral here of course, is that if you are having trouble with the fit of your pants, especially in the area of self criticism, a more balanced perspective may be needed.

Anyway, what I am gradually learning is that I have a small tail, and I don't think anyone really designs for those.  These pants were an Australian brand, again, catering to the more pear shaped figure.

The French, though, in some RTW brands I have browsed, do have two styles of pants or skirt - those that are more like the dimensions of the Big 4 patterns (bigger hip to waist ratio) and some designed for the straighter waist to hip ratio and flatter thighs and bottom.  


I had enough fabric leftover (well, I made sure of it, I got cunning and did contrast waistbands in the on both pants and skirt, and could just about eke out the two garments....).

There isn't much to say about this skirt, except that it is the skirt shape that has evolved and morphed over time.  I used to have just as much trouble with straight skirts as I did with pants, but I seem to have mastered a reasonable okay fit with this straight skirt.  I added side pockets - this is a simple thing to do.

That's it for now, my blog is not up to date.  Now I have to start thinking about warmer clothes, with our short winter just around the corner.

Bye for now

Sarah Liz

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Little Knit Whimsy: Marcy Tilton Cardigan, Vogue 8975.

A few weeks ago I made this little Whimsy out of a cotton knit that was in my stash.  It had lived there for some years, mostly because it was a strange sort of colour, ostensibly navy, but it looked very red when seen with navy.    And so it didn't quite go with navy, or many other blues for that matter.    And when I pre-washed it, the red factor was confirmed, because the knit bled quite a bit -  there was  a lot of bluey- red in the water.  I wondered if I should toss it, but decided to try and fix the dye. It took me two attempts to fix the dye, so that I could actually use this fabric without fear of it accidentally tainting another garment in the wash.

The knit was also awkward in that it had lots of holes in it. Deliberate holes I mean, knitted into the fabric in diamond pattern at quite frequent intervals. So I couldn't use it for a top, without it needing something underneath. And there was the problem of the strange colour, not navy, not purple, not black. So I was not sure what I would layer it over. It was not really going to work with anything.

Then one day, while rummaging through my patterns I noticed this:

I thought this little Marcy Tilton cardigan might just work with the fabric. The pattern suggests using a mesh knit, and of course my knit is more of a medium weight. Still, I thought it was worth playing around with.

It was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to put together, with strange side panels:

  The ribbon tie goes through buttonholes, also a challenge with my knit. I should think it would be just as much of a challenge, if not more so, with a mesh.:  

And I had to alter the facing/collar as my fabric was too thick to do what the pattern suggested. The collar was supposed to be the mesh folded back on itself to make a little pleat.  So I just made a soft roll to get the facing in the right place, and used the seam and roll as my finish.  Perhaps not the best solution, but it sort of works: 

(You can clearly see the red hued navy in the above picture).

Now, I have to admit that this little Whimsy is not quite my style. But it works during a month with non stop rain.  Our March was the wettest start to Autumn since 1972.  It poured and poured and poured.  I got quite fed up. And on the day I took these photos, I had enjoyed a thorough sub tropical drencing.  Hence my rather relaxed garb.  I had just changed out of my wet clothes, and pulled on some comfy and comforting house things.  The Whimsy seems to suit the relaxed slightly holiday boho feel, to the point that the colour also didn't really matter:

And the tartan ribbon was about the only ribbon that worked with this. The navy was too navy, the purple was too purple, the black was too black. Then I noticed this tartan, which has blues, greens, reds and black in it, which means I can easily wear the Whimsy with my blue and black bottoms. And, I think it adds another touch of whimsy to the Whimsy.

On another note, the knit was reasonably easy to sew with an ordinary zipper foot, but did walk a bit.  It didn't seem to matter, I just pushed and manipulated the fabric so things sort of worked. This was really an experimental and play sew. But, I decide that when I am not experimenting and playing with a knit, but wanting perhaps to sew without the knit walking it was time to buy a walking foot:

So, now I can get serious about sewing with knits.  The time has come...

That's it for now, I hope I haven't posted too many photos, but I know a lot of you love Marcy Tilton garments. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Fitting Post...

 Hello everyone,

Before I start todays short post, I would like to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and blessed Easter time, whatever your spiritual tradition.

Today I am going to talk about fitting because in my post last week I wrote  that I did not always bother to fit what I call my hack garments. Things quickly made that are going to be worn around the house and for chores. That look smart, and are quick to make.  Of course, amongst sewers, this is not always the done thing, because we do like to look good.

And, sometimes, fitting is not what I want to do.  If I have a lot of frustrations in real life, I sometimes need to make something quick and easy with minimal fuss to restore emotional equilibrium.  I just sometimes need to sew things out of my system.

As you know, I often do take care with fitting, but not always with t-shirts!  With regards to last weeks t-shirts,  many of you felt that taking out fabric in the middle of the back was the sort of alteration that would work.  I never use this alteration for my shape, but this one because I have an erect and narrow back, which automatically shortens my back.  I have the corresponding high chest.  Often you do see alteration suggestions which take out fabric where the fullness falls, but I prefer this method.  Diane mentioned splitting the yoke in an arc, and this is on the right track, but both are needed.  A better result happens if you do the back alteration in the upper thoracic area if you have an erect back.  Sandra Betzina recommends this.  I have only found one article about altering for my shape!  So no wonder those of us that need this alteration revert to taking the pooling out as a swayback type of alteration.  And with an upper back alteration, I then have to alter the back part of the sleeve.  For a t shirt I do not bother, as with movement, the thing is going to ride up anyway.

The above diagram and text comes from this book, published I think in the 60's.  I found a moth eaten version in an op shop, and it really is a gem:

Nothing like a fitting discussion to get us sewers animated, is there?

And some garments I do take a lot of time and effort to fit. At the moment, I am exploring bra making, and have made up a few sizes.   This first set , Pin Up Girls Classic full frame bra)  has a 32B (too small) , a 30 band and 34 A, and a 30 band and 34 B cup - all Canadian sizes.  One of them fits, but I will tell you all about that when I make the bra.  I am still not quite sure how to explain bra fitting - I'm starting to get the gist of it, but need to work back through again to make sense of the different sizes and combinations.  The first colourful toile is from remnants, the rest are from an old nightie and t-shirts - I thought I should save my remnants for better things, once I established I was going to be making quite a few of these.

Then I worked on Booby Traps B003, another classic full frame bra.   Sizing was different in this bra, and I first made an Australian size 12A .  I thought it was not quite there, so then I made up Australian size 12B. And you may all remember I made up a bra just to practice technique - Kwik Sew 3594.  This was a little large in the cup size, but the band was okay, so I quickly ran up a 12A, which I think is better. I'm not sure what sizing system this pattern uses.

 And why am I mentioning the country of origin of the pattern and the sizing used?  It's because they vary, as do methods of measurement. Confused?  Yes, so was I, and I am still working it out, so I shan't try to explain what I think it all means at the moment!

As for the patterned fabric, a few of you have liked that on Instagram.  I was playing with pattern placement here, and trying to understand how it worked with bra pieces, because pieces run in different directions.

I have to admit it has all been an enormous learning experience.  Did I get headaches trying to figure all this out?  Yes, I did, but it was also enormously satisfying. DH commented that I really enjoyed working with 3D forms and shapes, and that I liked the technical aspects of this craft.  So, yes, I really do focus on fitting, especially where it matters.  Just not always with t-shirts!

I'm not sure when I will make the next bra because I am waiting for the correct fabrics to arrive by mail order. While I am small enough to be able to wear any fabric, I want to feel the correct fabrics and test the stretch and so on, so I know what I should be substituting or how to alter fit to accomodate different fabrics, perhaps with appropriate stabilisation.

And, as some of you know, I have already collected elastics.  You need all sorts for bra making - strap, arm, band are all different types or widths. And you need to have a range of colours, because as we all know, when you are a domestic sewer, you have to mix and match and hope it all looks okay. Whereas in industry, they often order the colours they want and have it dyed specially.  Still, I like the creative aspects of trying to make something look as though it is meant to be out of oddments of different things.

That's it for now.  Once again, thank you for your comments.  I am finding it hard to reply at the moment as I really have a lot to attend to in real life.  The same with Instagram - I don't have time to spare at the moment.  Sometimes you have to set prioritied. I do make sure I visit your blogs though and comment on them.

That's it for this week, back next week with I am not sure what.  Until then, once again, a happy, health and blessed Easter to all of you.

Sarah Liz

Saturday, April 8, 2017

T Shirt DeStashification and a Fitting Discussion.

Every so often, I get annoyed with small pieces of fabric gathering dust in the small pieces of stash basket.  I add to it regularly when I see remnants that I like, all too small, of course, to make anything with, but ostensibly purchased to do muslins with to check fit.

That's what I purchased the red stripe knit and the raspberry coloured knit for. But I thought they were were deserving of a better fate, and they both became garments to be worn.

As many of you know, I don't really like sewing knits, more because I am not very experienced with sewing knits.  I did find that these two tops were a little easier to sew than some of my previous knit garments were, so I guess I'm starting to get the hang of them.

My first make was the little red striped t shirt, my Make a Garment a Month garment:

The stripe fabric was a 0.50 x 112 cm remnant, a cotton stable knit jersey.  I had a small piece of red cotton jersey in my leftover bits and pieces.  I thought I could put them together to make a jaunty little top.

The pattern I used was Kwik Sew 3766:

This is a classic t-shirt pattern, and my favourite.  Plain and simple, which is just what I like.  I've made it up a few times before, if you want to look at earlier versions do click here.

I wanted to make the sleeves at least elbow length, as our weather is starting to cool down and I like an inbetween length sleeve length for transitional seasons.  Luckily I had just enough, but I had to use the striped fabric for the neckband.  It doesn't sit that well, but I don't think anyone will notice.  Plenty of RTW t-shirts have bands that also do not sit well, so I keep "flaws" like this in perspective.

All seams were stitched with the overlocker.  I did topstitch the yoke seam as it did not want to lie down properly otherwise.  I did the same at the neckline.  I used a narrow zig zag stitch for this.  I also used a narrow zig zag on the hems, as I sort of thought it went with the stripes and overall energetic look.

As there is little to be said, I'll show you the pictures:

As you can see, the fit is not brilliant, in that the tee is sitting high at the front, and has pooling of fabric at the back.  I have had some people comment that I need a FBA and a sway back adjustment. But I think these pictures clearly show that these are not the alterations I need.  If you look at the profile picture, you will see I have a high, prominent chest  with a small bust and a very flat back.  I do not have a lordosis or big bottom - this is where one needs to do a sway back adjustment.  And looking at the picture of the back, you can see that I have a narrow back.  The pooling is due to the upright, flat, narrow back - fabric just gathers in the middle.  Alterations needed for this are to take out at upper back level, and to add at the upper front chest, and adjust the sleeves to match.

I never bother to make alterations on this scale for something like a simple t-shirt that is just going to be worn casually.  It's just not worth the effort.  Yes, for some garments it is worth the effort. But when you have to make most of your own clothes because you can't buy much that fits, you do have to decide how to invest your sewing time and energy for maximum mileage and output.  As far as t-shirts are concerned, these are minimal effort and maximum mileage type of garment.

As for the red top, I found a 0.50 by 150 of very stretchy poly/rayone/elastane remnant at Spotlight.  I was determined to make something from it, and paired it with a few long scraps of  ivory knit I had leftover from another garment.  The ivory knit is extremely stretch, well over 100%.  It worked nicely for the neckband, but I think the cuffs look a little bulky - I probably should have cut them a little narrower.

As in the red striped t shirt, I wanted longer sleeves for wearing in transitional seasons.

Again, all seams were serged, including the cuffs and hem of the top:

This very stretch top looks quite different from the striped stable knit top.  Nowhere near as fitted, but sort of nice and languid in fit:

Imperfections do not bother me if they are not screamingly obvious, and I think these two garments are going to be much loved tops for wearing around the house.

Thank you everyone for your comments on my post about recent bra making efforts  I am flat out at the moment and not able to reply to comments again.  I am also not posting much on Instagram at the moment as I had too much to do.  Just so you know I am not ignoring you all...

Bye for now,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fool's Day - A Surprise Post...

Hello everyone,

Yes, I have a cheeky smile on my face, because today is April Fool's Day.  And this post looks like it is going to be about a t-shirt, but no, I'm actually doing my first post about lingerie.  I've just completed my first bra, and was not going to post my opening picture showing me in a bathroom selfie,  wearing my first bra attempt:

I've actually change the picture a bit, by using photoshop - this is a water colour rendering of my original photo, which was a little too candid for my liking!

The pattern I used was one I stashed some years ago, with the idea that one day I would be made enough to attempt to make these things!  It's Kwik Sew 3594.

As you can see, it has been drafted by Kerstin Martensson, so it is a nice little make.  Before I made this bra, I watched a Craftsy course called Sewing Bras: Construction and Fit, by Beverly Johnson.  This class really takes you through the materials and steps needed to make a bra.

I had already purchased a few odds and ends a few years ago - elastic, closures, and so on.  I used a cotton lycra knit for the band, and scraps of cotton jersey for the cups and self fabric straps.

Now, I do not always learn things easily, so I had a bit of a practice run with pink scraps:

Now, the stitching across the bust and down the centre of the front is my adaption - I used a stretch stitch here, you are supposed to use a straight stitch.  But as I was playing around, I wanted to see what this stitch would do.  Yes, a poor student of technique I know, but I love the idea of this stitch for use somewhere one day!

I'm glad I did this practice, because I hadn't quite got the gist of what Beverly had shown us. So then I did my first practice run to completion.

Measuring and fitting a bra is quite complex.  I could be a 32A, 32C, 34A,34B or 36A depending on a number of factors - you can use high bust, full bust, underbust and cup depth measurements.  In the end I plumped for 34B as a starting point.  It has come out a little too large, I think too deep in the lower cup, and I could take a tuck out of the centre of the cup.  The band feels right.  So I think I should try an A cup, but stay with the same band size.  However, the bra is quite wearable, and just oh so comfortable, so I think it will be worn in the evening when I want to wear something comfortable.  I also need to test how it wears for a day, and how it stands up to wash and wear.

I'll quickly show you what the bra looked like - and bear in mind that I am a beginner, so this is not my greatest work:

I find that this is very fiddly sort of sewing, but I sort of enjoy it, as I often get what I call fragmented time.  Much of my sewing is done 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there, which is not a very enjoyable way of sewing and gets frustrating.  So I think sewing little things like this will actually be good way for me to keep a sewing rhythm.  I think I would also get fed up doing little seams for a long stretch of time, but a small run while having morning coffee will be really nice way to tackle this sort of sewing. And ordinary garments can be done when I have half hour blocks.

So, with this plan in mind, I have purchase bits of similar stretch and weight cotton jerseys in different colours, along with lots of elastics, casings, closures etc from a supplier in Australia called - wait for it - "Booby Traps".    They are the number one in Australia for lingerie supplies, but I have not found this on any of the blogs I have read about bra making.

And next week I will tell you about the striped t-shirt :)

Bye for now,

Sarah Liz