‘Well that didn’t work’

13 Nov

Let’s take a look at makes that didn’t work! I did a similar exercise years ago, and discovered every single make that didn’t work came down to either poor finishing or poor fitting, so I took some proper lessons. Best sewing thing I’ve done since actually learning to sew!

Ever since then I’ve keep a list of what I make and how it worked, but it’s good to take a specific look at what doesn’t work, to see what’s to be learnt. Feel free to comment honestly, whether to point out things I’ve missed, or just tell me I’m over-analysing :-P (And please excuse the mirror-selfies. My christmas wish list is basically ‘GOOD CAMERA‘)

Oh noes! My beautiful jacket? I’m so pleased with myself for having pulled the jacket off, but not so pleased with the actual jacket. Important distinction!

The fit just … Not Happy! Too big in the waist, and I’m not sure I can actually fit it close enough to look good either. The huge waist is the pattern itself. What looks like an hourglass pattern from the line drawings …

Photo

is, when you look at the actual pattern pieces, a box with godets at the waist. And I’m not a box with hips. Look at these piccies  – boxes with godets (with apologies to the women who were so kind to do pattern reviews on it). Gah!

I also adjusted the neckline, the original long rectangular neckline was going to look awful when I wore it open.

The peplum-effect is off too. I based the shape on this Burdastyle top, that I’ve made before and found it quite pleasing, but I didn’t pull it off in the jacket. (May not be clear from the pictures.)

113_0812_b_large

Lessons – good

  • I can actually sew with cotton velveteen in this climate! Weehee!
  • A colour that suits me so beautifully draws attention away from poor fit and shape.

Lessons – bad

  • I’m mad at myself for not going with my gut instinct about the fit not being good for my body.
  • More than two major changes to a pattern (waist, peplum, neckline) … might be better looking for a pattern closer to what I actually want?

The A-line knit skirt in the jacket picture got chopped up to make t-shirt yarn. Why? The style was stupidly hard to style nicely on my figure, and the fabric faded badly.

Lesson:

Green dress with roses 

Disclaimer: I ADORE this dress. It’s easy to wear, cool, comfortable, pretty pretty fabric. Looks gorgeous irl, takes me anywhere.

It just isn’t what I intended! It was supposed to be a loose slouchy casual dress, but irl it’s rather dressy. The slouchy look on the pattern envelope isn’t the style, it’s that it doesn’t fit properly on the model. *sigh* Caught out.

I drafted the collar myself. The shoulders ended up too wide – I have to push my bra straps to the edge so they don’t show. (And if they show they look terrible) The collar doesn’t sit well over the buttons.

Lessons:

  • Pretty pretty fabric (especially poplin) is hard to make slouchy and casual! It is extra-important to use a casual pattern to pull it off. Or casual fabric. Perfectly matching hand-crochet trim and buttons aren’t gonna help either.
  • Duh, necklines duh. I made this one up myself, so it was my bad.

No idea about the collar. Use a proper pattern? Only extend the collar to the beginning of the button placket?

A fitting issue -

Guess what it is! (It isn’t the waist being too tight, trust me, these fit me in the waist.)

Lesson:

I still don’t know how to fit my little short back (or back waist?) properly! However, looking at other photos where it is fitted nicely they can be summed up in one word: Empire line.

I think it might be worth a post unto itself actually, comparing what is well-fitted, and what billows, and try to figure out WHY!

Beautiful! But …

I even managed to fit the back nicely!

What’s wrong? The damned thing kept creeping up over my bust and towards the back. The front nearly choked me. And yes, the shoulder seam was supposedly in the right place.

Lesson:

I don’t know! Another top, from this pattern, did it too. (Yeah, vintage, from an op-shop, why do you ask? :-D)

What was happening with the above pattern was not enough fabric across the front shoulders, so it was ‘borrowing’ from the wider bust area, which of course was lower down, so the whole thing slid backwards. Is this what my lovely white top did? I don’t know. I just know I wish I did know to avoid it ever again! Because a similar thing happened with my ‘walkaway dress’ muslin which was actually a top.

That’s enough! I might do more in my sewing visual diary, see what I come up with. I think I’ll do the opposite next blog post and look at why things work!

ETA: Just saw this post on the Sew Sorry So Fat blog. I might use that template (being nice and asking first because I’m just a naturally courteous person so they ain’t got nothing to snark at ;-P )

Charlie’s Aunt retro handbag

31 Oct

Someone complimented me on my handbag today, and I realised I hadn’t reviewed the pattern, Charlie’s Aunt’s ‘Brideshead Bag’ like I’ve been meaning to. So here it is.

I fell head over heels in love with this bag! I mean, hey LOOK at it. Isn’t it gorgeous? Such beautiful style lines!

Let’s be totally honest: I’ve been very wary of Indie patterns for various reasons that have been well-explored by other people in the sewing community; no need to go into them here. So it took a lot of umming and ah-ing to decide whether to risk wasting money on a potentially lousy pattern, or just develop my own based on the pictures.

In the end I decided to buy it in the hopes a formal pattern might actually get me making a bag. Thing is, I don’t like bagmaking but I really needed a new handbag as the old one was falling apart. I couldn’t find one that suited my needs for a price I could afford, in any bag shop. And we won’t talk about the Amazon vendors who refuse to post beyond the US.

What also weighed in the decision to buy the pattern was that I did feel pretty strongly that if I liked the design enough to copy it, the designer ought to be getting some credit and financial recompense for it.

 

Alterations The silly thing in the end was that I actually did end up ‘designing’ most of the bag myself. The pattern size was just too big for my needs. I asked the designer before I bought the pattern if it would downsize ok. She said no, because everything was drawn up in correct proportion to each other and the seam allowances etc.

Pah! Proportion and readjusting seam allowances are bread and butter for me! No worries! So I bought the pattern and made it a good 5-10cm smaller and it did indeed come out just fine :-) I also added in a million more pockets as there were only the one shown on the front, and a similar one with no fastening inside.

The fastening in the pattern was for a magnetic clip between the front and back right at the top. Instead, I chose to put a zip along the top because I have a habit of throwing my bag into the back of the car or onto a chair when I get home and I didn’t want things to fall out. Yes yes I know, similar to my lack of respect for jackets. I expect a lot of my handbags!

I lengthened the strap as I prefer over-the-shoulder bags and widened them for comfort.

 

My biggest regret with the bag is that I didn’t interface the pattern because I like slouchy bags. But then of course the top was soft. making it hard to open and close the zip. *facepalm* Ok, ‘fessing up here, I almost never use interfacing. It’s just one extra layer to make clothes hotter. And the softer the better when the humidity is up, which is like most of the year here. But duh, I should have interfaced the bag. I talked it over (after the bag was made, not before, of course :-P) with a friend who makes a lot of bags and she said interfacing really helps a zip be zippy. Note to self: interfacing a bag won’t make your clothes hotter to wear and will make the bag’s zips work better.

The other negative issue is that the flap is also fastened with velcro. However the velcro disintegrated quickly and hasn’t gripped since not long after I made the bag. The pattern says to use a magnetic clasp, but I went with velcro because I wanted to keep the bag’s weight down. With the zip-top it’s really only decorative anyway, but yeah, I’d go the magnetic clasp next time, regardless of the extra weight.

 

Front (like my little polar bear zip-pull from a friend in Canada? His name is Little Polar Bear :-) I used two different but matching tapestry fabrics from Spotlight. I knew from the wear such tapestry stood up to with this hat, that it would last the distance.

A close-up of the front. The pockets (black tapestry on the lower half of the bag) close with velcro strips I kinda cut and spread to match the curving top. I added the velcro before sewing the side seams. The velcro works really well and stands up to heavy wear as I use them every time I use the bag. I’m pretty pleased with them, and also amused because I get so many comments from people about how they too need a bag with velcro-closing pockets!

Back I’m pretty sure there weren’t back pockets on the original pattern. I just cut two mirroring pocket pieces, then created the back pocket in the same way as the front pockets.

Yeah yeah, the base might have benefitted from some interfacing too! But I do like slouchy bags…

There’s no piccies of the inside because there’s nothing of excitement in there. The outside pockets are enough, and so very convenient to use that I am glad I didn’t bother with doing the inside ones, and they probably wouldn’t have been used.

I’m very happy with my bag! I’ve even gotten used to the soft zip. Little Polar Bear helps with the zipping, too.

Yes I would love to sew it again! I keep thinking I’d love it in a green leather, and it’s a simple enough style I think it would work very well.

But then again, I’m also so very much in love with The kitchen Bag from the same place …

Sewing pattern to make the Kitchen Garden Bag - PDF pattern INSTANT DOWNLOAD

 

Vintage pattern pledge – where I’m at so far

25 Oct

The Bolivian milkmaid’s jacket – done! hehe I’m VERY pleased with myself with that one. I made a jacket! Having said that, I’m planning to refit it before it gets its next outing. But yeah, it’s been sewn and been worn and I love it. Yeah!

Nothing else is finished yet, but there have certainly been developments, like oh you know, a whole lot more patterns I’m planning to make up *sheepish* But I just couldn’t resist …

I signed up to a Swirl Dress sew-along. I’d never even heard of Swirl Dresses, they sound like they might be a purely American phenomena? But the moment I saw the pattern I realised I needed one – you know how it goes ;-) I’ve bought some baby blue gingham for it. I’m looking forward to the sew-along. I’ve never done a sew-along, not my thing, but it’s turning out to be fun, so I may end up actually doing this one. If not I’ll just sew it up on my own.

The next addition came about as a result of a terrible terrible wardrobe tragedy. Sadly one of my most favourite dresses EVAR fell apart on me. Noooooooo!!! Worse still, it’s just the time of year where a loose style of dress is mandatory, weatherwise. I really need to replace it asap, so I desperately searched stashes of fabric and patterns, and came up with this 1974 dress pattern. (My sister’s vintage, aw cute!) The loosish fit through the torso looked good, weatherwise, especially if fitted on the looser side.

Here’s the almost-made dress, donchya love the pretty cotton/lycra satteen fabric?! And see the three pleats at the shoulder? The original pattern has two but I added another pleat as part of my customary FBA adjustment. The seaming details made it so easy to fine-tune the fit, and I can happily report it looks beautifully while still being suitably loose. It’s even a bit swishy, mmm! (It surprised me as sateen doesn’t usually swish.) Now I just have to finish it off. Not my forte, starting projects is so much more fun :-P, but the awful weather is driving me …

I thought the pattern might work on mum, too. I’ve realised recently things that look good on one of us will often work on the other. Only took me 38 yrs to notice mum and I have the same figure, just in different sizes, DUH!!! Her style’s vastly different though, for eg she wouldn’t be seen dead wearing something like this :-D But the 1974 dress? Right up her alley, I suspected. She agreed, so I drafted her size, then cut it out in this fabric. A selfless sewing make could be part of the vintage sewing pattern pledge?

Another addition came about by a much happier incident! Ever since I bought this lovely pattern I’ve been trying to find just the right fabric for it.

1940s Inspired Misses Princess Seam Peplum Blouse Sewing Pattern, Simplicity 1590 or 0229 Sizes 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 uncut

I found it the other day! The fabric colour is actually shades of navy blue through to white,no idea why it came out so grey. *facepalm* It’s much more beautiful irl! So of course this pattern has been added to 2014 sewing list.

The last addition I found in the op-shop the other week. Is it beautiful or beautiful?

V9230

Not needing a swimsuit (I SO hate swimming, I know, so un-Aussie of me *hangs head in shame*) I’ve graded up the knickers part of the ensemble, and cut them out in soft (woven) cotton for undies. Fun! One day, not necessarily as part of the vintage pattern pledge, I wouldn’t mind trying to convert the top/overdress into a proper dress while keeping the overall feel of the style. As for the hat omgsoperfect for a woman with stupidly fair skin living in the tropics! Must make! I haz Big Plans for this pattern!

 

Blue velvet jacket!

15 Oct

I finished it! I wore it! It’s awesome!

See?! See?! Isn’t it beautiful?!

… ok ok enough with the ! and onto some substance… Warm clothes pose problems when you live in the tropics. Unless you never go anywhere else, you not only need warm clothes, you need seriously GOOD warm clothes because you get cold long before people living in a temperate climate do. It’s worse coming from Darwin, because unlike northern Queensland, we never, not even in the depths of ‘winter’, get very cold. 16C is a freezing night for us, with the days still getting up around 30C. Your body just doesn’t get practise at coping with the cold.

Some people simply leave a box of warm stuff with their relatives for when they visit. As kids, our Granny lived in Hobart. Yes, indeed, an entire continent away from all the tropical warmth of Darwin:

Map of Aust + antarctica

 

Granny kept all our warm clothes. Hobart airport was tiny, smaller even than the old Darwin airport back then. We’d shiver our way off the plane, onto the tarmac and finally finally through the doors into the waiting arms of our Granny, who had this comical but deliciously warm hug-while-wrapping-the-grandkid-up-in-a-parker greeting perfected. Next came the ordeal of waiting in a breezy freezing shed for the luggage to be brought in on trailers dragged by tractors. (I wonder if there’s finally got a proper luggage conveyor belt yet?! And if so, is it in that draughty shed?)

However, this approach only works if you visit only one place. But as an adult I have friends and family all over the country, so I need to keep a warm wardrobe here.

A huge hole in my warm-clothes wardrobe has been the lack of a light jacket. I’ve got a big winter one for the times I’m insane enough to visit my brother’s family in NSW Southern Highlands between May and November. But I also need a light jacket cutting out a cold wind and giving just a bit of warmth.

So that’s what this velvet jacket is for.

It also needs to look good (not dated) in 10 years time, because that’s the other thing about living in the tropics, your warm clothes don’t have a chance to wear out. I still have yummy woolen skivvies I bought in NZ over 15 yrs ago. I’ve focussed on building a wardrobe of classics. Ok so a Bolivian Milkmaid’s Jacket isn’t exactly a classic. But a simple princess-line jacket with nipped-in waist, flairing out over the hips is one of MY classic sillouhettes. So is dark blue.

I decided I wanted the jacket longer than the pattern, so I cut one godet per section (The pattern has two) and lengthened it. To be honest, having it the original length might make the jacket more useful. Less warm. The blue velvet is pretty warm.

Looking at the pattern reviews on sewingpatternreview.com the jacket looks nowhere near as shapely as it does in the line-drawing. I tried to bring the waist in a bit on mine, but I didn’t really manage it. It’s the only issue I have with it. In the first photo in this post, I was cheating and pulling it in round the waist, to see whether that is what it needed. I think that and the photos below confirm it would be worth refitting it before my next trip.

The jacket is lovely and soft and unstructured, which is just how I wanted it. It was so soft and comforting to my feet when it was stashed under the seat in front of me while flying. (hey I needed some comfort. I was flying Jetstar. ‘Nuff said?) I really meant it when I said here that I needed a scrunchable jacket :-P Old backpacking habits die hard…

Taken on the path over the dunes to the beach, I’m ‘striking the pose’ here as my friend taking the photos told me to do :-D (She’s a jazz singer, I’m a dancer. We’re such a pair of show-ponies :-D) Like my socks? They’re from Sock Dreams. The blue lace headscarf is a length of fabric from Kerryn’s Fabric World. That tiny width was all I could afford. Fortunately fluffy curly hair looks great with hair-scarves.

Hopeless phone camera is hopeless. *sigh* But you get the idea :-) I love the big sleeves. Although they’re literally half as full as the pattern. I didn’t have enough fabric to do the full deal.

And when it comes to timeless warm clothes, that scruffy-looking skirt is letting the side down. REALLY need to do something about that!

I thought the blue flowers (lobelia I think) would highlight the blue in the jacket but I think as far as achieving that, this photo is a sad FAIL. But hey…

Just a little peak at one of the divine places we visited, this is a beach that went on forever, along the Sunshine Coast. So beautiful! So odd to have the sun set behind the dunes, too…

A comfortable-sized stash

10 Oct

I’m officially on a Fabric Diet, after my er, being honest, delicious fabric binge while visiting Kerryn’s Fabric World. This was on top of my best friend going over to Bali with $50 of mine, and came back with a sizeable pile of gorgeous batiks and hand-woven cottons for me:

About half of them. Mmm!

AND my sister, in India for a friend’s wedding, sent me another sizeable pile of fabric (*drools at what she got me* No photos though. How terribly remiss of me *shakes head sadly*).

I’m overstashed!  It’s HUGE at the moment. Too huge. It isn’t fitting into little wooden chest it lives in that fits so well under my sewing table. (The chest takes a LOT more fabric than you’d think. In fact it may well be a TARDIS.) (And if the cat my faithful sewing companion, Madame Hat, looks grumpy, yes she is. She loves being grumpy! She adores parking herself right behind my sewing machine, swishing her tail grumpily as she gets covered in fabric and threads.)

My stash has overflowed into two linen cupboard shelves, fighting with the towels for space. It’s too big. I really can’t justify buying more fabric. Although I did fall off the wagon when I had to go to Spotlight to get some thread in a certain colour, and found these two delicious fabrics. Ah well, I’m human…

Cotton/lycra sateen floral on white, in the perfect dress-weight. And pure linen in a much nicer purple than it photographed as, vastly on special for $12pm.

 

Buy Nothing New Month thinks it has the answer. A few years ago I joined ‘Buy nothing new month’ which happens every October. I totally didn’t manage it, I felt restricted and, well, poor. Poverty isn’t nice. And I’ve been poor too much of my life to feel inspired by not buying things. I figure it’s like a friend of mine who was homeless as a kid, who can’t handle restricting her diet. Yeah if I had been homeless I would feel like that about food, too.

Luckily for me I’ve never been homeless. But poverty bites. I LIKE being able to buy something I need when I need it. I LIKE being able to get my hair cut when my fringe is getting too long, not having to save up for a few months to be able to afford it. I LIKE being able to replace old lingerie before it literally falls apart on me.

However, trying to follow the Buy Nothing New challenge that year, did help me see I don’t really over-consume. Apart from fabric! Seriously, some of the stories they linked to were of people having like 200 items of clothing in their closet O_O. Woah! totally not me.

I’m still getting emails about it though, and checking out a few links this year I came across this one about a guy who ‘donated 90%’ of his Stuff.

He suggests his readers ask themselves questions such as ‘Why did I buy this?’ ‘What could I have used the money for instead?‘ By this time I was considering my too-big stash. Next question ‘What would happen if I didn’t have this anymore?’

ARGH!!! I’d run off and buy every bit of nice fabric I could find asap!!!

And that has nothing to do with poverty. I LOVE fabric!

Why does the thought of no stash make me freak out? Well I think it’s a pretty basic creativity issue. If I had no lead pencils to draw with, I’d go out and buy them asap. I don’t draw often but when I do, it’s at the behest of a creative urge inside me to express something with lines, with shadow and light. I rarely play my violin anymore but I don’t sell it, because when I want to play it, I really want to play it.

And really, the same with fabric. I need a stash of fabrics I love, that I want to work with, that I want to wear, so that when my creative mind comes up with the absolutely perfect ‘make’ for it, I have the stuff needed to sew it up.

As for too much fabric, well the obvious answer is to sew some of it up. I’ve been cutting out (my least fave bit of sewing, the bit that tends to stall me on a project) all those ‘Icing’ projects I’ve been putting off till I make some more BORING cake. *happy sigh* So much delicious sweet, buttery icingy sewing to do!

 

Cake, judicious op-shopping, and a challenge

21 Sep

A story of cake and icing …

I had a wonderful time visiting  Kerryn’s Fabric World, of Australian Dressmaking with Stitches fame, when in South East Queensland the other week!

A few years ago I had my ‘colours done’ by Kerryn. I’m a Summer who is ‘cool, muted and light’ in Kerryn’s system. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered the concept of seasonal colouring. At age 14 I read Colour Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson, (I loves me my local library!) and ascertained I’m a Summer. It’s informative to go through my photo albums and see the difference this book made. Before 14, the colours I wore were a bit hit-and-miss. I’m naturally drawn to blue, purple and green, which are so plentiful in the Summer palette, so a lot of clothes were in colours that suited me, but there were some real doozies too O_O. But from 14 onwards, I’m consistently in colours that suit me. It makes such a difference!

The Colour Me Beautiful author said Summers in particular, benefit from learning what colours suit them. From observing myself in different colours over the years, I think this is because I either look great in a colour, or so ill people have an urge to call an ambulance and cart me off to hospital. There’s very few colours that are ho hum on me, not great but not terrible. It’s either/or! So I’m very grateful I went through the worst of my teenage body-cringe-years in colours that really flattered me!

My ‘basic’ colours in my colour-swatch palette booklet. The idea with these basic colours is that they’re a bit boring, kinda non-entity colours, so people won’t notice if you wear clothes in these colours day in, day out, so they work well to form the basis of your wardrobe. Cake colours, if you will. I find them calming and soothing, which I like :-)

These are the ‘Icing’ colours, the bright, fun accent colours, but they’re also the ones where most of my extra-flattering colours come from, like eye colour or eye or hair intensifiing colours.

Some of what I learnt from having a colour consultation with Kerryn:

  • A more refined understanding of how to interpret the Summer palette for my own colouring – Kerryn works with 16 different palettes. My palette in her system is ‘cool (as in cool tones,) muted and light. There were a number of colours I’d never thought of wearing, but that do indeed look great on me, like coral pink, and the ‘basic’ beigey browns.
  • What colours are extra-fab on me, and why, for eg, the reason I gather compliments wearing a slightly warm red is that my eyes are a cool blue. A warm red is the complimentary (opposite on the colour wheel) of greeny-blue. Of course, complimentary colours intensify each other, so the blue in my eyes brings out the beauty of the red I’m wearing. The red brings out the beauty of my eyes. Basic colour theory, but I’d never thought of applying it to my own colouring!
  • How to ‘break’ the guidelines and wear colours not in my palette without my friends calling an ambulance. (eg, keep it away from your face, or wear prints with no more than 25% non-palette colours, use them in accessories – pumpkin-orange shoes anyone?!Chinese Laundry Moving On Pumpkin Suede Women ShoesMy own additions are using them in soft furnishings and my garden too!)
  • How to use your palette to assess if a non-palette colour will also look nice on you (for eg, if it’s a bit lighter or darker than a colour swatch, or in between two of them, it should work well too.)
  • Ideas for working with my short stature such as using diagonal or curved hemlines rather than horizontal.
  • Realise my preference  for organic prints – florals, spirals, paisleys, butterflies! which also work well with my curly hair. (Great money-saver. I might adore a super-geometrical pattern, but I no longer am drawn into buying it because I know I just won’t wear it. Unless it’s gingham ;-))
  • Some great tips for working with my slightly-pear-ish hourglass shape.

But … identifying my style preference was much harder. Kerryn gave me good guidance and a booklet detailing different style preferences, such as classic, natural, romantic, dramatic, along with how to work out which yours are. I just kept coming up with ‘a bit of all of them.’

Ok, don’t get me (or Kerryn!) wrong. It isn’t like there’s a Rule to say you have to be predominantly one or the other style, just like you don’t have to wear colours and shapes that suit you. But I was at a total loss as to how to draw so many style preferences together into an actual wardrobe. One suggestion Kerryn had was using accessories to reflect different styles, but even so, I struggled.

Pinterest came to my rescue a couple of years ago. I created My colour boards (below the sewing ones :-) to explore my style preferences.

For example, my Pink and Black board is full of romantic, feminine clothes like this:

dress

 

Baby Blue is full of creative clothes, often with a dash of dramatic.

~

Verdigris has mostly classic lines with a bit of a retro feel, and subtle fabrics:

jacket and dress

It took time, but I’ve figured out some important things:

  • Accessories really do help express a certain style. And best of all, that there are far more wonderful accessories in the world than those I can find in Darwin. *cough* Etsy *cough*
  • Some colours (the ones my pinboards are named for) are very important to my moods. Even a simple t-shirt or pretty necklace in one of these colours allows me utilise its effect on my mood.

However my wardrobe was still chaotic. I hate dealing with a chaotic wardrobe. I want to be able to open it, feel for a few moments what style I want to reflect for the day, grab something suitable, stick it on, then close the wardrobe again. 1 minute max!

It wasn’t until I went back to Kerryn’s shop again a few weeks ago (She remembered me! How awesome! That curly-haired summer-coloured girl from Darwin must be memorable :-D) that she helped get everything into the right perspective. I told her my pinterest style adventures, and she said ‘Ah yes, summers do tend to prefer a classic style.’

And DUH!!! I suddenly could see that the basis underlying all those different styles, IS, for me, a classic style.

I prefer to wear cake!

A few more day’s thought and I realised why I’m struggling to have a mostly-classic wardrobe.

I hate sewing cake!

It’s so incredibly BORING.

I love sewing the dramatic, the delicate, the natural, the retro/vintage, creative … anything but classic. And no matter how many ‘classic’ styled clothes I cut out ready to sew, it takes years to finish them or, more likely, they become UFOs because sewing them is a real chore :-( It’s also exacerbated by the fact that if I do finish a classic garment, I wear it all the time so it dies more quickly than my ‘icing’ clothes.

So … I did what any sensible, planet-loving girl does. I hit the op-shops and got myself some jeans suitable for shortening to clam-digger or 3/4 length, every white shirt in a natural fibre (anything else is just too hot) that fit, and stocked up on cute little t-shirts and singlets.

Oh boy, *heaves a huge sigh* I can’t tell you the sense of relief I have! The backbone of my wardrobe is now classic. Thank goodness! I don’t have to sew anything boring anymore! I can use all my creative energy into making accent clothes of creative/dramatic style, delicate style, natural, romantic, feminine and and and …! Yippeeeee!

That’s where the challenge part comes in. I need to let my bank balance recuperate after my shopping trip to Kerryns store. Her store is incredible. It’s carefully curated to have something for everyone. Every colouring, in every style preference, in fabric suitable for many different climate and lifestyle needs. *drool drool* Needless to say I had a much fuller suitcase on the way home than there :-D

Now I’ve freed myself up to sew as much cake as I want, I am hungry to sew up all the icing fabrics I bought at Kerryns, and icing fabrics in my stash that I haven’t been sewing because oh dear I really need to make some bermuda-style shorts and basic shirts first. But, no longer! Weeeeheeeee! Freedom!

So I’ve decided to go on a Fabric Diet till christmas, not buying any more and really focussing on what the beautiful icing fabrics I’ve been collecting but not sewing. My fabric storage space and bank balance will appreciate this. So will my creativity :-)

As my reward for doing this challenge successfully, after christmas I’m going to email Kerryn and say ‘hey, I wanna make a (very very icing-y!) ‘hunting jacket’ in the style of this pinboard, classic/natural, organic, plain, or maybe plain with a highlight in matching print. Natural colours in my palette in fabric weight suitable to disgustingly hot and humid weather.’

Much as I love Spotlight, with all its flaws, I’ve never found quite the right fabric for it. I am very sure Kerryn will be able to help me!

Capuche médiévalelove the shape of this surcoat.Ranger Short Dress

Pretty white tops or: omgitworked!!!

16 Sep

What worked? Well…. Let me tell you the story. I am SO pleased with myself :-) although possibly I should just be pleased that the person who drew up the pattern draft was very competent? *ponders* Nah, there was a lot of my own cleverness in there too!

This, this! I made this! From Tudorlinks, a wonderful site with a number of original patterns for historical clothing.

Front View, Lady's Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893

 

And that’s as big a picture of the finished product you get. It’s called ‘Lady’s old-fashioned chemise‘.

Now see why I’m so proud of myself. I made one that actually works, fits me well, and that regular readers of my blog will already have seen before. These meagre pictures are solely what I created my pretty white linen top from:

Front Piece, Lady's Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893Back Piece, Lady's Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893Front & Back Yokes, Sleeve & Sleeve Band, Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893

And these instructions:

This 1889 pattern was reprinted in 1893 and it can be used at least as late as that date, though this yoked style was in use from the crinoline era.

Note also that there is a misprint on the back yoke. The part marked “Top” is actually the centre back. We have correctly labelled Top and CB in red.

We do not have the scale measures for drafting this garment, so draft to the size given and then alter to fit.

That’s all I had to go on. I’d like you, dear readers, to note that these are inches, and I’m Australian. I am not too bad at working with inches as my mum, when teaching me to sew used imperial or metric in a kinda random manner, (although she learnt in inches, as a science teacher she quickly learnt metric when it was brought into Australia). I ended up using either kinda randomly too, but for the difficult stuff I always use cm because they make the most sense, and besides everything else in my life has been done in metric so of course I’m by far the best at metric, and this project was difficult!

Measuring systems aside, I managed to get this out of this meagre pattern! (I love the way linen creases so I’m making no apology for its unironed state :-).

So how did I do it?

I printed out the pattern pieces given, and the line drawing, and worked my way through each piece, drafting it onto paper. I added in a bit more of a bust dart and length into the front yoke piece, seeing how I usually need an FBA, and I concentrated the gathered sections to be over the bust at front and in the middle of the back. My experience from sewing old-fashioned nighties showed me that’s where it’s most flattering to add gathered ease in. In the original chemise draft it is evenly gathered along the yoke, front and back. Then I added in my seam allowance. (1.5cm coz I cut my sewing teeth on the Big 4, and that’s what they use.)

I had about 80cm of white linen left over from another project, and I decided to try for a wearable muslin. I love wearable muslins! I’ve also learnt if I’m aiming for a wearable muslin to make it up in fabric I like. Using fabric lying around unused because I don’t like it kinda defeats the purpose of the ‘wearable’ bit.)

Fitting

Initially I figured the yoke section would be too small across the shoulders on the general principle of people being smaller back then, but took a punt on it as drafted, because when I measured my shoulders and the pattern yoke width, they seemed to match up pretty well. And … it fits perfectly :-) I suspect it would fit well over a range of sizes actually. On someone smaller across the shoulders it would just sit further out. On me the edge of the yoke hits the tip of my shoulder right where it should in a properly fitted shirt.

The sides fall shorter than the centre front and back, which is very obvious in the second and third photo.  But the length for both front and back pieces are even, so I think that is just the pattern. That they are even suggests to me I got the proportions of the ‘FBA’ right and that this pattern is just drafted to be shorter at the sides. I like it. It’s a flattering gentle curve. I also think at a more chemise-y length it would work nicely as well. If it doesn’t appeal, you could just lengthen it at the side a bit.

The length of the chemise I squeezed out of my fabric was just odd, neither top nor tunic nor dress, so I sewed in some wide horizontal tucks to bring it up to a definite shirt length. I then found some pretty gathered broderie anglaise style lace in my stash that I finished the hem with. It’s so pretty! All feminine and soft and gently sitting round my body in a way that is comfortable and loose and floaty, or all pretty and flattering to my little waist with a belt or sash round the waist.

 

Construction notes

Rather than sewing the yoke together at the centre front, I sewed the pieces separately (I lined the yoke with some cotton batiste) and put some fake pearl buttons on it. I didn’t bother with doing them to properly button and unbutton because I didn’t need it to open to get it over my head. I just sewed the front yoke together with the buttons.

 

The biggest issue I had in putting the whole thing together was the sleeves. Honestly? I’m used to sleeves being cut INTO, not set OUT from the bodice. My modern perspective meant it took me a while to work out what to do with them, what bit to attach to what other bit. The sleeve band is shaped too. Another thing to confuse the uninitiated. It took a few goes and lots of unpicking to get it right. *phew*

My arm is waaay bigger than the sleeve band so I didn’t sew it together at the underarm, and then left the sleeve bit open far enough down to accommodate my modern-sized frame and bowhunter-y arm muscles. It’s really comfortable, which I’m glad of. I really didn’t know how comfortable adding a supposedly sleeve-like affair OUT from the straight edge of bodice would be. But yeah, it works! It’s actually similar in feel when wearing to this chemise pattern (Which, although this silk chemise got sent to my sister, I made the pattern up in cotton as nightie for myself as well. YUM!)

Here it is inside out. The sleeve opening goes down to the bit of a corner in the fabric near the 4 corners of the ceramic tiles at low right. The band only goes for 2/3rd that distance. Did women have tiny arms back then? The sleeve piece itself goes down to the bottom of the picture. You can also see where the batiste inside yoke has pulled away a bit near the shoulder. Oops!

 

The right way out: The seam joining the band to the sleeve is messy and folds out to show on the outside at the bottom of the band where it’s narrower than my seam allowance. If I made it again, I’d make lengthen the sleeve band to fit my actual arm properly, and if it was too narrow to hide the seam properly I’d either widen the band a bit or handsew the inside band down. I hate handsewing so it would be the first option, being entirely honest :-P

I do, however like the way the band is shaped to be wider at the top than the bottom. Just looks nice when the seam is behaving itself :-)

Conclusion

LOVE it! And I’m keen to try some other vintage and historical pattern drafts floating round the internet, some of which I’ve outlined in this post here.And oh boy am I proud of myself for working out how to draft and make this chemise!

What sewing achievement are you particularly proud of? I’d love to hear :-)