Sunday, 28 June 2015

So, I've been busily sewing....

At the risk of sounding like a trashy 1980s style souvenir t-shirt (you know the ones: my grandma went to Singapore and all I got was this lousy t-shirt), but I have to say it: I've been sewing like a crazy woman and all I've got to show for it is a few lousy blog photos because it's all for other people!

My daughter's school held its annual fete recently which took an enormous amount of time and effort before the day in terms of organising, selling raffle tickets let alone on the actual day. I was the stall co-ordinator for my daughter's class, and we were allocated the second hand clothing stall so I spent about 3 months lugging home bags of donated clothes from school to sort, wash and store in a large pile in my sewing room. The fete was a huge success though - we made nearly $60,000 and my stall made nearly $900 which is a great result and will go towards installing air conditioning in all our classrooms, upgrading computers and replenishing the library. All things you would think the government would provide (it's a public school) but they don't.

Being a little too quick to volunteer my sewing talents, I ended up hemming tablecloths, making drawstring bags and sewing bunting. Oh the bunting! It took way longer to make than I could ever have imagined:

fabric bunting

fabric bunting

fabric bunting

That's about 70 metres of bunting altogether. The actual sewing of triangles to the bias tape wasn't the longest bit, but cutting out all those triangles and sewing them together took many, many hours. Luckily it looked great, we can reuse it next year and all the fabric I used from stash to make it (about 8m) has now balanced out a recent on-line fabric purchase binge!

Next up I offered to make Anna and her friends matching t-shirts for the sports carnival that was scheduled for last Thursday. Her school decided to have a retro themed sports carnival (in the early years it's all about fun and not competition) so I thought a 1970s style raglan t-shirt worn with some sweatbands would be extremely funny in a cute way. Unfortunately the sports carnival was postponed until mid July due to bad weather, but I did finish all these t-shirts:

1970s style raglan sleeve sports t-shirt

I used Kwik Sew 2893 (now OOP) which is just a basic tshirt pattern but is drafted really well (all the notches lined up and the pattern piece for the neckband was spot on) and the sizing of the pattern is quite accurate which in itself is somewhat amazing for a child sewing pattern. I made sizes small and medium for 6 and 7 year old kids and all the tshirts fit very well.

I thought the curved hems, and contrasting sleeves and neckbinding were very retro. The different colours are for their different teams. The lettering on the front is made from iron on transfer paper and each t-shirt has their name and year of birth which the kids thought was very cool so the effort was worth it, even if I ended up making these really quickly for no reason.

Finally I had to make an emergency pair of pyjamas for Anna. Anna's school was holding a wear your pyjamas to school day to raise money for some good cause, and it wasn't until the night before that I realised that Anna has had a spectacular growth spurt and all of her pyjamas were way too short. And here's where the value of having a large stash of fabrics and patterns really proves it worth: I was able to dig out a lovely soft piece of pink check flannelette and some textured knit (like the fabric used for spencers) and made a simple pair of pants and raglan tee using the same Kwik Sew pattern again since it was still out on my cutting table:

pink check flannelette pyjamas and white knit raglan top

Pyjama disaster averted, more fabric used from the stash and all done in about the same amount of time it would have taken me to to get to the shops!

So now that's all over and done with, I can get back to my regular sewing projects. I have a blazer for myself about 85% done which I want to finish very soon and I do need to get cracking on my June and July Burda projects because if I let that get too far behind I'm sure I'll never catch up again. Hopefully I have something more exciting to share next time I post

Monday, 1 June 2015

Simplicity 1467: from 15 year old UFO to wearable muslin

After my disappointment with the fit of the blue jacket from a few posts back (which I've pulled apart but haven't finished yet) I decided the wise thing would be to make muslins for jacket patterns at the very least, even if I continue being lazy towards other projects. Ironically this one needed only a few minor tweaks for it to turn out to be very wearable, and it's made from a very old UFO so it's a winner all round!

Jacket - Simplicity 1460, Skirt Burda 9/2013 #130, Top Vogue 1826
A bit of back story: I started making a knee length princess seamed coat from this fabric to wear to the horse races one spring Saturday back in 2000ish. In the tradition of all projects destined to fail, I started making this a few days before it was needed and once the occasion passed without the jacket finished in time all motivation was lost and it has sat in my UFO box ever since. I was using one of those multi sized New Look patterns and didn't realise I had cut a size 22 for the side pieces and a size 8 for the rest until I had sewn and overlocked the seams - unpicking the seams in a loose woven fabric like this just was not appealing so it didn't get done! And then I realised I would probably never wear a knee length coat in this fabric, it would be just too much pink for me so as a result it never got finished but yet I couldn't bring myself to throw it away.


So here we are 15 years later, I wanted to make a muslin of Simplicity 1467 because there are no pattern reviews of the jacket pattern and I decided to cut into this sad, half made project because it closely resembled the final fabric I wanted to use. The fabric is a poly wool tweed, certainly not expensive but still quite pretty and deserving of a second chance at becoming a finished project.

image from Simplicity
First version - aside from making full length sleeves and my usual narrow shoulder adjustment I made the pattern exactly as per the envelope. No photos of this version (I sew late at night) but let me just say that the gathers at the centre back in this lofty and thick fabric gave me a bit of a Kim Kardashian bubble butt look - aka not good! I also had a bit of extra fabric along the princess seam at the bust line.

Second version - I changed the gathers at the centre back into an inverted pleat to get it to sit a bit flatter and I flattened the curve of the princess seam on the side front pieces (basically a small bust adjustment). I thought at this stage it was pretty good, until I took some photos of it! Uneven hem:


Gathers at the side sticking out:


And that pleat at the back was not such a good idea after all:


Verdict: out came the unpicker once again!

Third and final version: I recut the peplum pieces to take out the excess fabric so the jacket sits smoothly all around the waistline now. I let down the hem as much as I could so it has barely a 1cm hem now but because I had clipped the corners of the yoke at the bottom centre fronts I couldn't let the hem down there, so I cut off the yoke at the waist and continued the peplum to the centre front. So basically the final version looks quite different from the original pattern.




Final thoughts - I really like this jacket so it was worth the effort in the end. In fact I like this version so much I decided not to make a version from the fabric I had intended to use which is a white textured wool because I figure two winter weight jackets from this pattern might be a little too much since it's rather distinctive.

But I will make this pattern again in spring or summer in a lightweight fabric - in a future version I'll leave off the gathers at the back because I really don't need any extra fabric in that particular spot. I'll also put separating zipper down the front because not having a closure annoys me - the fronts never sit evenly and it makes the hem look rather uneven although they are straight. I'll also lengthen the peplum so I can make a decent hem on the jacket.  

And that's one less UFO in my big box of shamefully unfinished projects and one more finished garment.