Friday, 12 January 2018

New Look 6106: The Big Ease

After seeing some great versions of summery a-line skirts made from New Look 6106 on IG in the last few months, I decided to buy a copy of the pattern during a recent pattern sale at Spotlight. For those of you not familiar with this one, it looks like this:

I quite like New Look patterns and have had good outcomes with them in the past. In fact, New Look 6968 is my TNT sheath dress pattern that I've made many times with no problems. So it baffled me when I saw the finished pattern measurements on this pattern:

After having a mini rant about this on IG, it was confirmed that the pattern is a misprint and where it states the finished bust measurements it should actually state hip measurements. But the amount of ease and finished garment measurements is correct though - this skirt has a whopping 19cm/7.5in of ease! I'm currently muslining a New Look pencil skirt pattern which has 5cm of ease and have nearly finished a New Look semi fitted dress (11.5cm of ease at the hips), so clearly there is no consistency and the amount of ease depends on the type of garment, but 19cm is far too excessive. At that much ease the skirt would just slip off the hips? Surely this is a pattern drafting error?

Anyway, after reading many reviews of this pattern and doing some flat pattern measurements I decided to size way way down. My body measurements put me at size 16, but I made a size 10 instead and it fits perfectly. I also added 5cm length to view A because it's a bit too short for my liking and I didn't want to sew on the band of view B.

I really like those cut in pockets at the front, they are far more flattering and streamlined to my figure than side seam pockets because I really don't need anymore bulk around my hips. However I don't like the pocket bags loosely flapping around inside and if I make this skirt again I would draft an extension to the pockets so the pocket bags are joined.

I used some contrasting cotton in a bright mustard colour for the pocket lining and waistband facing. It peeks out a little bit at the pockets, but I don't mind as this is meant to be a casual skirt.

I also really like the wide waistband as it sits below my natural waistline and is very comfortable. Looking at the side and back profiles I can see a little fold of fabric just below the waistband which is probably due to my swayback and would be something to change for the next version.

The a-line shape of this skirt is really pronounced, although it's probably exaggerated by my choice of a heavy linen/cotton tweed fabric that has no drape whatsoever. This shape has plenty of room for movement though, so it's a comfortable choice. And the fabric is leftover from a pair of maternity pants I made back 2011 when I was pregnant with Toby, so yay for stash sewing and yay for using up remnants!

I also chose to do a centred zip instead of a lapped zipper application which the pattern suggests or an invisible zip which is what I would usually do, purely because my fabric is quite thick and there would be too much bulk at the waistband seamlines.

It's still school holidays here in Australia, and I've been busy ferrying the kids around from one activity to another. To keep them quiet whilst I was doing a bit of fabric shopping in the Fabric Cave I let them play with my phone, so here's a cheeky photo they took of me doing some serious browsing! I've mentioned the Fabric Cave on here before - it's a volunteer run shop raising funds for Achieve Australia which provide disability support services. The shop is stocked entirely with donated fabric, haberdashery, knitting and crochet wools, patterns, books and magazines so it's unknown what you'll find there on any given day but it's always fun having a dig through the treasures! Plus the ladies (and odd gentleman) that work in there are friendly - they also plied my kids with biscuits while we were there.

Of course I purchased some fabric while I was there - 2m of maroon drill, two 2m lengths of white lawn (already used for lining) and two 1.5m stripe cotton shirting pieces all for the grand total of $21.

My verdict - I like this pattern once the fitting issues are sorted out. You just need to be aware of the excessive ease and choose a size accordingly, but after that it's a pretty simple skirt to sew. I also think the pattern instructions with this pattern are pretty good - it illustrates how to do a lapped zipper quite clearly so this pattern would be great for a beginner (but only if they pick the right size!).

Monday, 8 January 2018

Nine birthday dresses

Another January means another birthday dress I've sewn for my daughter. Since she turned 9 this year I decided to let her choose the fabric and the pattern - this way I know she'll like it and wear it. Although I was a bit sad because it didn't feel like I was giving her a surprise gift but rather just another dress of the many I've made for her, but at 9 she has strong opinions (which is a good thing!) and knows her own mind so I decided to play it safe.

She chose Simplicity 1702, which is a Project Runway pattern that comes with a few different variations. It looks like it's now out of print, but you can find it from various ebay and etsy sellers.

Anna chose the view with the asymmetrical neckline, but wanted the bow to be detachable in case she decided she didn't like it. So I've sewn the bow to a brooch pin so it can be easily removed, although the two times she has worn this so far she's kept it on.

Simplicity's kids patterns, actually nearly all the Big 4 patterns, have a ton of ease. I find Burda and Ottobre to be far better fitting, but because I knew to ignore the pattern sizes and instead check the finished measurements on the pattern I made a size 6 with a size 8 length and it turned out perfectly.

The fabric is a cotton broderie anglaise that I bought in Melbourne on our Easter holiday last year from Darn Cheap Fabrics, and is fully lined with some white cotton lawn.

The neckline at the back matches the front - it's a little bit different without being age inappropriate or completely off the shoulder.

And I even managed to convince her little brother to sit still for one short moment so I could snap this photo. He's only giving a half smile though, he's too cool for mum's photos these days!

My how time flies when you have small children in your life growing up before your eyes. I cannot believe that the years have just flown by!

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Post cards from Nepal

I hadn't planned on posting many photos from my holidays because this is a sewing blog after all and looking at other people's holiday snaps can get a little boring! But in the comments to the last post AllisonC asked for more photos and I finally finished sorting through them all, so here are a few photos of the key spots I went to in Nepal.

Kathmandu City

Kathmandu is pretty much like any other third world major city I've been in - it's noisy, smelly, dirty and extremely built up with little green space. It's also spread out over a very large area so it takes forever to travel from one side of the city to another. It's probably the town planner in me, but I found the maze of back streets, the jumble of land uses and hodge podge of built forms so fascinating.

There are lots of religious sites in the city, with small alters and shrines on nearly every corner. The Boudhanath Stupa is a large Buddhist site with one of the largest stupas in the world. It was severely damaged in the 2015 earthquake but has since been rebuilt. Buddhists visiting this site walk around in a clockwise direction turning the prayer wheels while chanting.

Pashupatinath Temple on the other hand is a Hindu site which is a very large complex comprising temples, spaces for cremations and a hospice. The cremations are carried out alongside the river in a very open and public fashion - on one side of this river there were crowds of tourists watching and taking photos whilst on the other side of the river were grieving families preparing bodies openly and funeral pyres alight cremating the bodies. It was quite morbid and completely different to the very private manner in which we deal with death in western society.

The after effects of the devastating 2015 earthquake are still highly visible everywhere in the city. Rebuilding work is occurring on the main heritage sites in the city with financial assistance from foreign governments, but work is progressing slowly.

Everest Base Camp Trail

To start the trail to Everest Base Camp, you first fly in a small aircraft to Lukla airport which is one of the most dangerous airports in the world. The runway is very short, steep and ends abruptly with a stone wall - if you google Lukla airport landings you'll see many plane crashes! Luckily my flights in and out were fine. The terminal itself is quite basic, and essentially when your plane arrives you get the signal to run out and get on the plane as fast as you can - there is such a turn around in planes that there's no time to hang about.

The town of Lukla is one main street with shops selling hiking equipment, lodges and cafes. The animals in Lukla give new meaning to a traffic jam though!

The Everest Base Camp trail is quite busy and I wasn't even there in peak season. The trail is rocky, dusty and pretty much steeply up or down at all times. It's usually referred to as the national highway, because on this trail are the hikers, porters carrying immense loads, donkeys, dzopkos (cow cross yak) and yaks in the higher altitude only because the yaks get too hot lower down.

The trail crosses the Dudh Kosi river many times, each time across long suspension bridges that get higher and higher above the river the along the trail you get. Everyone crosses these bridges, including the animals!

Funnily enough you can only get glimpses of Mt Everest here and there along the trail. Even though it's the highest peak in the world, from the Nepalese side it's hidden behind other mountains so you mostly only see the very top of it and it's usually hidden behind cloud from late morning onwards as well!

Everest Base Camp

The hike to Base Camp starts in a village called Gorek Shep which frankly was an awful place. The septic system in our lodge had frozen over so we had to use the town drop toilets which was far from pleasant, and when the sun went down it got absolutely freezing. Apparently 15 or so years ago there used to be a lake in Gorek Shep, but now it's this big sandy space you can see in the photo below.

Base Camp itself is completley underwhelming. It's literally that litte hump in the photo below - you have to walk through miles of rock and ice just to get to it and outside of climbing season there isn't anything there except a spot to take a photo! The Khumbu Icefall behind the camp is the start of the Everest climb and apparently is extremely dangerous to cross. And you can't even see Mt Everest from here because it's hidden behind the Western Cwm and other peaks.

Along the trail there is a particular site with memorials to the many people that have died attempting to climb Mt Everest - both the Sherpas and foolhardy westerners. Those planning to climb Mt Everset have to walk past this but even that is not enough to put them off I guess judging the by the numbers that attempt each year. The photos below show the simple stone stacks for the Sherpas, and the more elaborate monuments to the foreign climbers.

Namche Bazar

Enroute to Base Camp is the large village of Namche Bazar. Everyone stops here for at least a day on the way up to acclimatise, and the village is quite bustling with cafes, bars and shops. It is literally built on the side of a mountain so there are steep stairs everywhere and it's not very easy to get from the bottom to the top!

On my returnn trip we stopped in Namche Bazar for another night. By this stage it had been about 18 days since I had showered or washed my hair (we just had bowls of hot water each day to do "washy washy"of the important parts), so when I spied a hairdressing salon I simply had to try it out. I felt amazing after a wash and blowdry!

Gokyo Lakes

The main route to Base Camp goes straight there from Lukla, but the trek I went on detoured off to the east to a more remote part to travel through the amazingly beautiful Gokyo Lakes. The lakes are such a deep turquoise blue, surrounded by rocky mountains and snowy peaks - these photos and my words just cannot depict how beautiful it was. This was definitely the highlight of my trip, even if ascending to the top of Gokyo Ri was physically exhausting.

My accommodation on most of the trek was in tents, which were actually quite comfortable, clean and warmish. In Gokyo though we stayed in a teahouse which like most of them was really cold and with paper thin walls I could hear every cough, vomit and explosive bowel movement of the other guests. Yes it was really gross. In this teahouse, my drink bottle that was full of hot water at bedtime had frozen solid by the morning it was that cold!

Cho La Pass

To get from Gokyo Lakes area back over to the Everest Base Camp trail we had to cross the Cho La Pass, which essentially is up and over the lowest part of the mountain range. The ascent involved scrambling up loose gravel and large boulders, almost vertically in places, in the hot sun whereas the other side meant climbing down ice and rock and crossing a large snow field in the freezing cold! The trail meandered off far into the distance so this was a very long and very tiring day.

Of course there were prayer flags marking the peak - they were the signal that you had reached the top and the hardest bit was behind you.

Chitwan National Park

After I finished the trek and spent a day in Kathmandu recovering, I headed down to the Chitwan National Park. This is the complete opposite of the Himalaya region - it's pretty flat, warm and humid and jungle like. I went on a jeep safari and spotted elephants, rhinoceros, crocodiles, birds and monkeys but not any tigers.

So that's Nepal in a nutshell. Even though I spent four weeks there and went from one extreme of the country to another I still feel like there is so much more to see.