The fabric tornado, and What’s the deal with all the teal part 1

Wow time really does fly when you have a baby in your mist. I can not believe it has been since early August when i last put up a post, ooops. Never fear, I think I will just squeeze this post in before the end of September and stick to my goal of one a month!

So, what have I been sewing since my last post? I finished The Husband’s bag (blog post on that soon), had an epic fabric tidy up, and sewed teal with the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network…. The fabric tidy up was a dire necessity as this was proving hard to navigate while sewing:

The fabric tornado: the closed cupboard was full of unsorted fabric too

The fabric tornado: the closed cupboard was full of unsorted fabric too

Sofa? What sofa?

Sofa? What sofa?

And it has now become this:

Beauty of organisation! On the left side from top to bottom we have: sewing machine and overlocker storage, printer, a box for 'current' projects alongside my 'sewing machine toolbox', then a shelf of stretch knits and other fabrics with any stretch, above that cottons, and above that heavy weight fabrics. On the right we have just the top two shelves for sewing stuff...

Beauty of organisation!

On the left side from top to bottom we have: sewing machine and overlocker storage, printer, a box for ‘current’ projects alongside my ‘sewing machine toolbox’, then a shelf of stretch knits and other fabrics with any stretch, above that cottons, and above that heavy weight fabrics.

Close up of left hand side

Close up of left hand side with the largest lengths of fabric neatly folded (there’s fabric behind the boxes)

On the right we have just the two shelves for sewing stuff…

Right hand side.....

Right hand side…..

Which has boxes grouping together all my enclosures (zips, steam a seam, buttons etc), a box for things like lace, binding, ribbon and elastic, and then a box for applique, patches, belt fastenings etc etc. The big blue boxes then contain 1) interfacing & muslin, 2) fabric for kids clothes, 3) craft cotton, 4) laces, silks and satins, and 5) a box of all the crazy fabric for fancy dress and any party outfits in The Little Lady’s future…..

Yay! I feel so much more inspired to sew in the office sewing room now🙂 I didn’t send as much fabric in to the wellington sewing community as I would have liked, but I had a good review of my fabric and now have lots of ideas for clothes to make, including skirts, shorts and tops….

So, what about that teal fabric? It has been the focus of my sewing over the last few months – the lovely ladies of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network have had this September challenge lined up since early 2013. The long and the short of it is: all challenge peeps bought the same silk/cotton teal fabric from Global Fabrics (sorry I can’t give it it’s new name, I get it confused with Fabric Warehouse when I do that!), and we all sew a garment in this fabric and then pose for “the ultimate matchy-matchy photo”!

pretty teal!

pretty teal!

Now I love teal, just love it – I made my wedding dress out of a beautiful multi-layered satin and crushed chiffon teal (definitely will blog about that some time!). So when I saw this challenge I jumped at the chance to get my hands on some teal… But what to sew with it? Initially, when I joined this challenge, Global had run out of this fabric and so I had this crazy awesome idea to use other people’s scraps to make a multi-pannelled self drafted top. I love this idea. However, Global got some more fabric in in August so I jumped at the chance to get some ‘virgin’ fabric and choose a pattern. I’ll definitely do the multi-pannelled top soon — but for now I chose to sew Colette’s Hawthorn:

I love pattern deliveries :)

I love pattern deliveries🙂

I really like the simplicity of this pattern, and I find tops with a peplum (that’s the circle type bottom from the waist down peeps) are really flattering on me.  I have a major shortage of shirts and blouses due to my shape not being suited to the high street offerings (that’s why i got in to sewing!), so I chose the blouse version with short sleeves…

As this design only has one set of darts at the waist for the front of the bodice, I knew I would have to do a full bust alteration and most likely add a side dart – but I had NO idea I would have to make the trillion alterations I would have to do to get it to fit…. I ended up making two muslins… baha… I will now explain these corrections via photos – but I started to loose the will to live and stopped taking photos after a while!!

First I cut it out in a thin interfacing fabric that I use as a tracing 'paper' and tried it on

First I cut it out in a thin interfacing fabric that I use as a tracing ‘paper’ and tried it on

From that I lowered the bust point

From that I lowered the bust point

From that I did a FBA which added a side dart, widened the waist dart and added length to the front, I then added a bit at the side seam and centre front (the latter of which I shouldn't have done - it messed with the neckline)

From that I did an FBA which added a side dart, widened the waist dart and added length to the front, I then added a bit at the side seam and centre front (the latter of which I shouldn’t have done – it messed with the neckline). Colette explain one way to do a FBA – my way is a bit different, I’ll explain in a future post!

From this i made the first muslin

From this i made the first muslin

The first muslin - i used a zip down the front so i could quickly take it off to make small adjustments to the darts etc

The first muslin – i used a zip down the front so i could quickly take it off to make small adjustments to the darts etc

the back of the first muslin - had to make some changes to these darts

the back of the first muslin – had to make some changes to these darts

I also did a ‘narrow shoulder adjustment‘ to this version of the muslin, and realised I needed to do something about the length of the pattern between the bust point and the shoulders. At first I thought about taking height off the shoulders, but that messed with the shape of the shoulders and neck too much. So instead I explored the interweb and decided to shorten the pattern along the line between the bottom of the two arm scyes – i.e. above the bust. This meant I had to redraw the neckline (and later the collar pieces and the facing), but it was the best way to remove length above the bust without messing up the arm holes and shoulders too much… I took out 2 inches in length at the front (!!!) and 1 inch in the back — I wonder is this because I lowered the bust point too much in the first step??? Who knows! I was getting pretty darn confused!

In this update, the shortening line can be seen above the bust, as well as the narrow shoulder adjustment - i also messed around with the darts more.....

In this update, the shortening line can be seen above the bust, as well as the narrow shoulder adjustment – i also messed around with the darts more…..

But there was a bit of a change to the armhole, so I had to make corresponding changes to the sleeve

sleeve adjustment through tucks in the pattern for the 'shorter' armhole

sleeve adjustment through tucks in the pattern for the ‘shorter’ armhole

I decided i should make a second muslin to make sure that the shortening hadn’t messed with the entire pattern

muslin number 2

muslin number 2

which needed changes made to the armhole as it was too tight when the sleeve was put on — with some tips from Caroline at the Fabric Hoarders meetup we decided we needed to make the arm hole bigger and add that difference to the sleeve itself

new arm hole in red -- the smaller version would be ideal for a sleeveless or capped sleeve garment, but needs to be bigger for sleeves so i can raise my arms!

new arm hole in red — the smaller version would be ideal for a sleeveless or capped sleeve garment, but needs to be bigger for sleeves so i can raise my arms!

Around this point I was finally happy with the muslin and ready to cut into the gorgeous teal…. Alas i stopped taking photos – doh!!! I’d also used up nearly all my sewing time before the challenge meetup on 22nd Sept, so I was madly cutting and sewing to get the garment finished (including a rapid basting of sleeves just 30 minutes before heading out) and photos didn’t even enter my mind. Unfortunately i didn’t complete the buttonholes, buttons or the hem — hence why this is part 1 of the ‘what’s the deal with all the teal’ blog! I’m hoping to get them done over the next week so I can take some decent photos of the top and blog a bit about the construction🙂

In the mean time, here’s a sneak peak of the back of our teal garments:

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it was a bit windy! Thank you to Sarah Wheaton for the awesome photos on the day!!

From left to right we have Juliet, Nikki, Holly, Me, Joy and Jo. More WSBN ladies have sewn the teal too, but they couldn’t make the day – so we will have a second photo another day!!

What have i taken away from this crazy alteration experience? that I may ditch patterns for now (as much as I love them), update my block/sloper from 2009 (which I drafted in an awesome pattern drafting class), and use that as a base from which I adjust patterns. My Reader’s Digest book of sewing has a nice little description of this process here:

from the Reader's Digest book of sewing

from the Reader’s Digest book of sewing

I’m also planning to use patterns as inspiration for self-drafts from my block. I mean really why go through all this alteration for a relatively simple blouse, when I could have drawn it up from scratch from my block in a tenth of the time??  I have learnt my lesson!!!  What have you guys learnt from an epic sewing misadventure??

PS: does anyone know how to easily rotate photos in wordpress??!!! sorry if your neck is a bit crooked!

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Making my cake, and eating it too!

As mentioned in my last blog post, the awesome ladies of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network had a Sew Cake sew along throughout July. This involved us all sewing a Cake pattern and then getting together to eat Cake while wearing Cake. Originally we were all going to sew the Tiramisu. But Steph at Cake patterns has some lovely other patterns too, from the Hummingbird to the Carbarita and the Pavlova.

I elected for the Pavlova……

My first challenge was deciding which fabric to make it from…. I am currently in a Fabric Buying Ban. Yup, you read that right: A Fabric Buying Ban – this is a 6 month ban from the April Fabric-a-brac, with the goal being for me to work through my stash, actually use the lovely fabrics I’ve collected, and hopefully not bury myself, The Husband and The Little Lady under a mountain of Fabric (I am a Fabric Hoarder after all). One wonders: will I be drowned by my fabric stash in the next big Wellington shake? (it’s been a shakey old few weeks here).

Anyway, my stash unearthed this beauty:

Photo 6-07-13 11 41 59 AM

A lovely wool suiting fabric which has been sitting there for about 3 years. I elected to cut it with the soft ‘furry’ side out – it’s not as sharp as the proper side which means you don’t see all the fine lines in the pattern, but I like the more muted ‘softer’ side, especially for a skirt.

Cutting it out meant wasting a lot of fabric while I tried to pattern match – this proved annoying as the skirt was too big and too long (more on that below) – which if I’d know was going to happen would have meant I could have been more frugal with the gorgeous fabric, for another simple skirt later on…

Photo 11-07-13 2 46 11 PM

A little trick I use for tracing patterns: get a big roll of sew-in interfacing or Violene. Much cheaper than tracing paper – and hangs like fabric when you hold it up to yourself (for fit checks). Just be careful not to stretch it!!

Photo 11-07-13 3 44 42 PM

Trying to pattern match

Photo 11-07-13 4 06 11 PM (3)

Think I succeeded!

All cut out and ready to go!

All cut out and ready to go!

Inspired by this woolen Pavlova, I decided to do Hong Kong Seam finishing using beautiful bias binding I bought in the recent Starfish closing down sale.   It is a little skinny (1/2 inch to make a 1/4 inch when folded) which was a bit fiddly to sew over the fabric edges – especially with a thick wool. It was constantly sliding off the wool. After a few expletives here and a few more rude words over there, I remembered I had found some ‘Steam-a-seam’ in Stitchbird which Steph of Cake Patterns raves about.

It was conveniently 1/4 inch, and lo and behold it helped me make beautiful Hong Kong Seam finishes:

Photo 21-07-13 12 28 38 PM

First I put the steam-a-seam on the wool (with a tepid iron) and peeled back the backing….

Photo 21-07-13 12 29 17 PM

… ready for the bias binding to be ironed on on one side for sewing on the other…

Photo 21-07-13 12 37 20 PM

But after a few runs, I realised it was easier to put the tape on the bias binding first, and then iron it on to the fabric….

Photo 21-07-13 12 41 59 PM

… for sewing closed after.

Photo 21-07-13 12 42 39 PM

Produces beautiful Hong Kong seams!

After finishing the seams, this skirt should be pretty simple to make. First I made one of these beautiful pin tuck pockets:

Photo 21-07-13 3 07 40 PM

I found it easier to fold under the edges and stitch them in place, and then use steam-a-seam to position on the skirt before sewing on. Trying to hold the edges under while sewing onto the skirt direct would have been a nightmare! Here is the finished pocket:

Photo 21-07-13 3 54 48 PM

Alas it’s a bit small for my hand! Didn’t think to check that!

Next up I attached all the panels together, only to realise that the completed skirt (minus the waist band) was WAY TOO BIG! I compared it to the waistband I had cut out (which fit) and it was 4 inches bigger. That’s a lot too big. Having done my Hong Kong seams already, I decided to do a lazy fix of bringing in the side seams by 4 inches in total and taper them down to the original seam position by the bottom of the skirt while leaving the Hong Kong’s untouched, like so:

Measuring out the new seam line - fortunately didn't cross the pocket!

Measuring out the new seam line – fortunately didn’t cross the pocket!

This was a good fix. I also elected to not turn the waistband down after initally attaching it as I wanted a thicker band. The end result looked like this:

Photo 21-07-13 7 57 04 PM

I didn’t do the last fold down on the waistband as I liked it at this thickness…

Photo 21-07-13 8 12 42 PM

Finished skirt ready for hemming!

Which I am pretty happy with. But what about that size difference? Well over at Cake, Steph talks about this errata where the waistband is too small. But that wasn’t my problem as the waistband was fine (unless there is just a ridiculous amount of ease and I need to have made it up a few sizes smaller). There’s another errata (which I can’t find now) which suggests the skirt pieces are too big as they have double seam allowances printed. Which errata applies? I have no idea – when I cut the pieces I measured the waistband to check it fit – but didn’t think to measure the skirt pieces to check they fit the waistband!! Something to double check in future…. So. If you are making this pattern, make sure to check lots of measurements before cutting!

Photo 30-06-13 2 27 44 PM

Top: All cut out and ready to go!

Next up was the top. I won’t go into too much detail here, except to say I found this tutorial  over at Cake really helpful. The neckline is fiddly, but really nice when finished. If it helps, this is a nice perspective of the top draped over a chair inside out:Photo 23-07-13 10 22 02 PM (1)

At this stage in the photo I’ve stuck on the interfacing, sewn the stay stitches, done the shoulder darts and it’s awaiting the neck band… I think it would help to have a photo like this on the tutorial or an equivalent sketch on the pattern instructions — they are all a bit too ‘zoomed’ in, and I felt it helpful to take a step back look like this.

After the fiddly neckline:

Photo 24-07-13 8 38 46 PM

How many pins??

and the longest hems in the world (it wraps round the body twice!), it was time for High Tea with the WSBN. There was lots of baked Cake:

Photo 28-07-13 3 45 30 PMand lots of sewn Cake:

All the cake! I see Pavlova, Tiramisu and Hummingbird and Carbarita. Photo courtesy of Sandra Mabey :-)

All the cake! I see Pavlova, Tiramisu and Hummingbird and Carbarita. Photo courtesy of Sandra M🙂

Description shamefully stolen from Melissa R at thecuriouskiwi :

Back row, left to right: Nicola, MaryLouise, Sandra M, Zara (new member, yay!), Myself, Emma, Johanna, Joy, Holly, MaryAnne and Sandra J (new member, yay!)

Front row, left to right: Nikki, Wendy and Gemma (new member, yay!)

Here are the Pavlova’s:

4 Pavlova tops and one Pavlova skirt! Thank you Sandra Mabey for the photos!

4 Pavlova tops and one Pavlova skirt! Thank you Sandra M for the photos!

Here’s me posing in my Pavlova, holding a Pavlova!

IMG_8093

Thanks to Melissa for the awesome photo, and MaryAnne for the amazing mini Pavlova (it was you who made them?)

Alas at this stage I did not like the Skirt, or the top. The skirt was not yet hemmed (I ran out of time before High Tea) and it is WAY too long, so I took it home and lopped off lots of hem:

Photo 1-08-13 9 14 53 PM

Measuring and marking to cut ALOT off

Turns out I needed to cut off 7 cm more from the front than the back – don’t you love a tilted waist and sway back?! This meant I needed a little diagram to work out how much to take off around the skirt to keep it level:

Photo 1-08-13 9 27 16 PM

Glad I had The Husband to help me measure this!

So, finally after all that – this is my finished Pavlova:

IMG_5653

I prefer the top tied loose otherwise it’s just too much of a big block of colour (as seen in the High Tea photos!)

I LOVE the skirt. But I still don’t love the top. I think the style is wrong for my shape up top, and the colour washes me out. I have a few bits of fabric and tops I will be dyeing a dark blue or plum soon – I’m thinking I’ll throw this top in too and see what happens! In the meantime it looks better tied more loosely.

Crazy long ties!

Crazy long ties!

and here are some final photos with The Little Lady – who was all dressed up to enjoy Warhol!

Warhol here we come!

Warhol here we come!

IMG_5639

Is this a new toy, Mum?

Categories: Uncategorized | 10 Comments

The tale of two bags – from Flower Power to Biba

Apologies all – it has been far too long since I started this blog until my first blog post! I will blame it on increasing hours at work, the June storm where we lost power for four days (video of the south coast damage here), and jury duty. Anyway excuses, excuses I hear you say! Fear not, I will endeavour to post up a minimum of once a month – hopefully more….

So what have I been working on? I’m currently sewing a cool record bag for the Husband!

Working on the Husband's new record bag: made completely from upcycled and swapped fabric!

Working on the Husband’s new record bag: made completely from upcycled and swapped fabric!

Which will feature in a future blog post! I’m also working on my Cake Pavlova top and skirt – I’m sewing along with the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network girls (read about them here) so we can all wear our Cake patterns together, while eating Cake! More on that at the end of the month🙂

So how about these bags? Well the very first thing I completed on my machine back in 2008 was this bag:

Flower power bag! The first completed item

Flower power bag! The first completed item

Which I like to call my flower power bag. It was a lovely project for a beginner sewer – I had such a feeling of accomplishment as I brandished it around town showing it to all and sundry! Just don’t look at the hand sewn clasps – the less said about them the better – my hand sewing is shocking (I’ve taken up embroidery to improve it!). I believe it was from this pattern online: (ric-rac), but its been a while and grey cells are fading…..

Fast forward 5 and a bit years (gulp!) and I found myself admiring the buttercup bag (made-by-rae) that a few people had brought along to The Fabric Hoarders‘ sewing Sundays. It’s such a cute pattern, and I love how everyone had their own version and interpretation. So, I decided to make another bag – the first since my first! 

What material to use? Well, around the time I was brandishing my flower power bag – I was wearing THE BEST TROUSERS IN THE WORLD. Apologies for the caps – but seriously they were. I lived in them in a way I shouldn’t for years, mourned when they were in the wash, and rejoiced when they were clean to be worn again. I loved these trousers (a brand new with tags op shop find from my student days) – but alas I wore them until they died in that place jeans die (ahem). But I stashed them with my fabric for future projects – and they were perfect for my Buttercup bag. Here they are:

From a trouser leg to a bag

From a trouser leg to a bag – alas I forgot to take a photo pre-chop, so you get this advanced preview picture of the bag itself😉

I really love the Buttercup bag, but one thing I don’t like is that it uses a clasp closing mechanism. This bugs me for two reasons: 1) I chuck my bags around a bit and don’t want stuff falling out, 2) the Little Lady’s hands could easily squeeze through the gap and grab contents not for her! So I reached into the interwebs and lo and behold someone had designed the perfect zip adaptation (see here). So long story short, I followed the Buttercup guide (pdf here) and the zip alteration, to produce my new favourite bag here:

Notice how I aligned the side seam of the trousers as a centre seam on the bag? That was a suggestion from someone at Fabric Hoarders sewing sunday - and it meant I only had to use one trouser leg :)

Notice how I aligned the side seam of the trousers as a centre seam on the bag? That was a suggestion from someone at Fabric Hoarders sewing sunday – and it meant I only had to use one trouser leg🙂

IMG_5306

View of the zip adjustment - very happy with how this has turned out. Beautiful fabric from a fabric swap...

View of the zip adjustment – very happy with how this has turned out. Beautiful fabric from a fabric swap…

Upcycled buttons from an old shirt

Upcycled buttons from an old shirt

The completed Buttercup Biba Bag

The completed Buttercup Biba Bag

 

Action shot! Also a nice shot of the wool skirt I recently finished (self drafted)

Action shot! Also a nice shot of the wool skirt I recently finished (self drafted)

Another action shot!

Another action shot!

A few things I noticed about this bag. Lots of bloggers have commented that it is too small. I wondered about making it at 125% or 150% – but decided to make it true to size the first time round (I checked my wallet would fit first). I love that this bag is small, it can go inside bigger bags (read work bag, or nappy bag) – and is small enough to ONLY be Mummy’s bag. It only holds my phone, my keys, my wallet, my lipstick. No nappies, no snacks, no toys. My bag – which I love taking out on nights out without the Little lady – it’s emphasises that I am having a night off! And the best thing of all? I realised when i finished that it was very Biba-esque, so it is now named my Biba Buttercup Bag. I will be making more of these Buttercup bags. And actually I may also scale it up to 300% and turn it into a nappy bag. haha.  I may also also add lots of funky pockets (look at Mel‘s of thecuriouskiwi)

So, on that note – what shall I make from the other leg of THE BEST TROUSERS IN THE WORLD? 
🙂

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Hello, Kia Ora, Dia Dhuit …

Hello and welcome to my new blog🙂

I’m hoping you will enjoy my posts and random rambles about sewing, life, and the universe. I’m still building this site, but am looking forward to sharing some of my previous projects with you (including my wedding dress), my current projects (including some fun sew alongs), and some of my planned projects for the future (as well as some fabric hoarding thrown in for good measure).

In the mean time, you can learn all about me and my sewing here and my dreamlist of sewing projects here, discover the origins about this blog and it’s name here, explore the internet universe as I see it here, while picking up some sewing tricks here.

Looking forward to sharing my sewing adventures misadventures with you all!

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