Birthday cake!

29 Aug

Happy Birthday Monthly Stitch! 

And happy birthday to me too, as my cake sewing is my own birthday cake too. Mmmm!

For my birthday this year, a very close and beloved friend demonstrated just how well she knows me by giving me gift voucher to my most fave shop in all of Darwin. The moment I saw this fabric I knew it was for me. Butterflies! Coral-coloured allover butterflies at that. *swoons*

Technically although it’s a craft cotton, it’s a very fine weave, making it feel more like a soft poplin. Very nice! though a touch too light for shorts. But hey, I got them to work and I love them! I love love love love LOVE them!

So thankyou Kite, for my gorgeous birthday present :-)

Here I am in my coral-coloured butterflies shorts.

(As a total aside, this photo totally cracks me up, coz I look exactly like my mum in shorts from the back :-) Who, when you think about it, was intrinsically involved in my birth day :-D)

All ready to go for a walk on the beach, paired with my latest favourite top, a white linen affair I drafted myself from a 1890’s chemise pattern diagram.

Of course, no beach walk is right without a cute doggie to share it with.

Pretty seafoam-coloured fabric for the inner yoke.:

Pretty red buttons, an exact colour match to the red in the butterfly wings, that I found in my stash:

For info on construction, check out this blog post :-)

Happy birthday cake all round! 

Birthday cake. Mmmm!

29 Aug

Butterfly birthday cake even! I recently joined The Monthly Stitch, which is having its birthday this month. Happy Birthday Monthly Stitch! So lots of TMS members are sewing cake.

My TMS cake sewing is birthday cake too. A very close and beloved friend demonstrated just how well she knows me by giving me a birthday gift voucher to my most fave shop in all of Darwin. The moment I saw this fabric I knew it was for me. Technically although it’s a craft cotton, it’s a very fine weave, making it feel more like a soft poplin. Very nice! though a touch too light for shorts. But hey, I got them to work and I love them! I love love love love LOVE them!

So thankyou Kite, for my gorgeous birthday present :-)

Covered in coral-coloured butterflies…

(As a total aside, this photo totally cracks me up, coz I look exactly like my mum in shorts from the back :-) Guess which side of the family I take after huh?)

All ready to go for a walk on the beach, paired with my favourite top that I haven’t really blogged about yet:

Of course, no beach walk is right without a cute doggie to share it with.

Construction notes:

The pattern is from an old Burda mag, 4/2004. Simple but elegant wide trousers with pleat and yoke. I’ve made them a number of times and they’re definitely a TNT pattern.

My weight/size has been going up and down like a yoyo lately. I’ve found over the years the crotch curve doesn’t really change with weight changes, it’s really only the total circumference that does. So I built in some easily-accessible wiggle-room by increasing the seam allowance to 2cm, then sewing each yoke section to the corresponding main trouser piece. I then sewed the side seams of both main piece and yoke all in one seam. I did the same for the back, pictured below. (A trick I learnt from RTW men’s trousers when my beloved but presumptuous younger brother bought a pair of trousers that needed letting out at the back seam. Rather than cough up $20 to have the store tailor do it, he said ‘oh no, my sister’s a seamstress, she can do it.’ Ahem. Well ok, so I learnt how to construct trousers in a way that made them easy to adjust, and coz he was my bro I kindly didn’t charge him $20 to do the job myself…)

Also note the pretty ‘seafoam’-coloured inner yoke. I didn’t have enough of the main fabric, and this co-ordinated very nicely.

I’ve found top edges of yokes can stretch and become too big during the day’s wear, even with some interfacing, so I added in some waistband stabilizer into the top edge stitching line. This doesn’t stretch and it really helps to minimise the yoke top edge stretching.

Pretty buttons! From my stash even :-) They work beautifully, which surprised me, as red and coral pink aren’t obvious bedfellows, until I realised there’s just a touch of the same red in the butterfly wings.

Here’s the front pleat that makes them so slouchy and comfortable. (The back has a dart.)

My thighs are quite full on the inner thigh, and I can have problems with shorts creeping up when I walk. Usually employing all these tips I gave Laurwyn of Quirkyprettycute works well enough. But this fabric was just too light for them to work. I tried adding interfacing along the inner seam. It was an experiment and I can report that it worked. Too easy! I’ll be doing that with all my lighter-fabric shorts from now on!

(As a side note, if you want to learn how to be quirky yourself,  this wiki that came up when I was looking for Laurwyn’s blog, tells you how :-D)

Conclusion:

I’m so in love with these shorts :-) Happy Birthday me!

Jacket sewing is hard work! :-P And a question on jacket hemming.

26 Aug

Can’t please me! It’s scary or it’s hard work! Sheesh, any other complaints, Imogheena???

Actually I have a question to the more seasoned jacket-sewers out there. How do you hem the jacket and lining? Is it best to sew the lining to the jacket hem somehow, or better to hem jacket and lining separately with the lining able to swing free? I am worried if I sewed it to the jacket hem it would sag down below the hem of the jacket over time. If I sew it separately then I can sew it a bit shorter than the jacket hem, and if it sags I can fix it easily.

Which is best? or some other option this jacket-sewing novice doesn’t know of?

Anyway, I have been finding sewing this a bit of hard slog. It’s such a BIG project, bigger than most of the things I sew and I’m starting to never want to see blue velvet ever again. Oops! That wasn’t my intention… I’m getting through it though, I’ve just today joined the lining and the jacket. That was big stuff. To do from now on:

Press the front/neckline jacket and lining seam.
Cut the armscye lower, adjust sleeve, set sleeve in, bind sleeve seam.
Put cuffs on the sleeve. (Maybe do that before setting sleeve in?)
Make buttonholes for front and sleeve cuff.
Make back belt to pull waist in. Sew it on, and two extra buttons to allow for weight changes.
Hem jacket and lining.

Tomorrow I’ll focus on the sleeves. If I could have them finished by the end of the day (Can’t really sew once it’s dark as the fabric is so dark it needs natural light to enable me to see properly) then I’d be a Very Happy Vegemite!

I’ve got a week to finish because I’m flying out monday afternoon in a week. Oh oh oh! how exciting!

Here are piccies taken just before I sewing the lining to the outer fabric.
Outer jacket:

Lining:

This is the sleeve and the cuff above it. Not very exciting, but it gives a pretty good example of the true colour of the velvet and also how it reflects the light. Oh ok, I’m not reeeelly never wanting to see it again, no not reeeelly. It IS gorgeous gorgeous fabric :-)

The jacket was making me look terribly short and squat, but then when I put the sleeve on my arm and held it in the right position against the jacket armscye, it suddenly looked fantastic. The sleeve defined the waist beautifully, probably because you could then see there was a gap between the waist and the sleeve.

I’m rather relieved – I know if I don’t feel comfortable in my clothes I’ll never pick them to wear when I’m bleary-eyed and sleepy in the morning. Short and squat doesn’t do much for my confidence, and I’ve put a LOT of effort into this jacket. Too much to throw it away by not wearing it coz I feel ugly in it. Or only wearing it because I’m cold but have nothing nicer. So yay for sleeves helping to define the waist!

I think too, I’m just not used to seeing 2 layers of clothing on me. So much bulk…

Eh, who cares! I’m on holiday next week!

Back to the sewing machine…

Frilly knickers! or: Granny Undies aren’t actually comfortable.

18 Aug

Carolyn is right. Lingerie sewing is addictive!

The latest addition to my lingerie drawer is too cute for words. The photos don’t the cuteness full justice, but rest assured they look incredibly cute on me. (They were hard to photo. The elastic round the legs would not sit nicely. I ended up ironing the leg openings on a low heat to get them to look this good. That’s right. I ironed my undies. OMG someone call an ambulance O_o )

Pretty frilly legs.

The inspiration

These knickers by Free People via Pinterest.

Free People booty shorts

And these too via pinterest. Oh so pretty! I just wanted my own pair :-D Have sewing machine, will sew!

Amazon.com: Undrest Signature Bloomer Short Natural/Watermelon: Clothing

Mine look just as pretty on!

But they started life far less glamorously

They used to be a pair of the wonderfully old-fashioned Bonds Cottontails Full Briefs.

 

I am still not sure why I bought the pair. An experiment I think. I blame Sewveravenus and her wonderful Grannypannie pattern (below). It gave me the idea that Granny Undies could be funky, chic, and comfy. After all, you can see the resemblance between the cottontails and the Sewveravenus Grannypannies, right? Right? Sure you can!

There were sadly three things wrong with the cottontails Real Granny Undies

1) The elastic round the waist was so strong it cut into my poor tummy and made me feel very ill. It’s not a size issue, it’s the elastic. It was so strong it could have been used successfully to catapult huge rocks in ancient Roman war machines.

2) The legs are finished with a thick band of non-elastic rib. A bit less elastic in the waist and a bit more in the legs would have helped.

3) When my partner saw me wearing them he said ‘They look … comfortable…’

Oh dear.

Hey I swear if there had been no problem number 1 or 2 I would have smiled sweetly at my partner and been too embarrassed to wear them around him ever again and worn them proudly, refusing to sacrifice comfort for any man, not even my beloved. And in his defence I know he’d have just been amused at them, and that would have been that. But … the existance of problems 1 and 2 could not be denied.

What I did to massacre refashion the Real Grannie Undies

I chopped off the leg bindings and waist elastic.

I cut two rounds of fabric about 4 cm wide from the top of the waist.

I sewed one round onto each leg opening using a 4mm seam allowance, to form the frill. The frill was about 1 1/3 longer than the leg openings so I just stretched the leg openings to fit the frill. (Basically I was using the stretch inherent in the knit to gather the excess length in.)

I folded the seam allowance back  toward the main bit of the undies and stretched elastic (decent, normal knicker elastic of the non-catapult kind) round the seam, sewing it down with pretty pique side facing the frill. I wasn’t sure if this would actually work but it did. YAY! And so easy!

I used the same kind of elastic to redo the now-hipster waistline.

Here is the leg-elastic application in progress. Elastic on the left,  frill on the right, the seam allowance folded back towards the main part of the undies.

I haven’t found out my partner’s reaction yet. But if (in the now very unlikely event) it  involves the word ‘comfortable’ I’m going to smile sweetly and say ‘Yes, indeed they are!’ because… they are!

Jacket sewing is scary!

12 Aug

The expression on my face in the above picture captures the scary-bit really well!

And then, bit more confident but starting to realise photographing dark blue velvet is ridiculously hard.

And even harder to do a back-view-mirror-selfie of dark blue velvet.

So uh, just what are these pictures supposedly showing? Well, glad you asked!

The Bolivian Milkmaid Jacket in dark blue velvet, (oh yum! *dies of happiness*) the bottom view, which is the ‘traditional’ version, adapted to my needs in a jacket – well what I fondly hope are my needs.

Why is jacket-sewing scary?

I have made a grand total of two jackets in my entire life. One from this cat-eaten Style pattern (I adore Style patterns) in a bottle green, that I took with me backpacking, and used for three years and yet have no photo of me in it. Go figure eh?

(I also made the trousers for my sister once in a soft crepe of a dark background with little green flowers on it, that draped like a dream. She looked fabulous in them if I do say so myself! Anyone that tells you 5 foot nothing is too short for wide-legged trousers is using the wrong fabric.)

The second was a lovely little bolero jacket out of black silk noir. Simple and beautiful. And very easy!

I’ve tried to do a few more and they became UFO’s for various reasons like the one I explain about below. I think the Scary Bit is partly because I have so little experience making jackets, and partly because the only jackets I have made were made when I was young and knew everything :-P However, the technique I employed with both jackets, was to gather my courage up and jump in the deep end – and do something I rarely do – follow the instructions exactly. It worked! (And those are double-welt pockets lurking under those innocent-looking flaps) So I’m doing the same again. So far so good…

What I need in this jacket:

  • Look good (yeah of course, right?!)
  • Be able to be worn with anything at any time, anywhere. Kinda like The Goodies :-D (Seriously though, I’m not asking too much. I have a black woolen coat I bought from Max 17 yrs ago in Auckland, (Italian wool because it’s somehow better than either NZ or Australian???) It fufills these needs, except for the minor detail that it’s a coat and thus a bit hot for like ooh say my upcoming trip to SE Queensland. I want all that but in a jacket that is more about cutting out cold wind in a Brisbane winter, or a temperate climate spring or autumn, than suitable for a NZ or southern Australian winter.)
  • Scrunchable. Looking after jackets isn’t my forte – I’ve got almost zilch experience!
  • Something I can actually sew in the tropics without getting either heat exhaustion or prickly heat rash. (Mmm prickly heat rash, such fun. *shudders*)

I know from sewing a couple of pairs of cotton corduroy trousers for mum that I can sew that fabric without dying. I have the most divine red boiled wool from the then Global Fabrics in Wellington 10 yrs ago. It was to be the fabled go everywhere do anything jacket. But I couldn’t do more with it than sew up the main seams before I got so hot and bothered and prickly and irritated by little bits of red wool dust that I scrunched it up (see what I mean about not knowing how to look after these kinds of things?) and threw it in the back of the top cupboard behind all my winter gear. (It’s still there. It’s too beautiful to get rid of and too hot to sew. Impasse.)

Just to explain why mum and I have winter gear when we live in a climate where 18C is a freezing cold night, I have a brother, sister-in-law and a gorgeous little nephew who live in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Fellow Aussies will know that has very cold winters. If we visit from late Autumn through to about mid-spring, I need every soft warm fuzzy thing I own, and then some! Same with Mum. My nephew’s birthday is late August; a few years ago mum and I went down for it, and Oh My GOD I almost died of ice-blockedness. I swore that no matter how much I love my nephew, I’ll have miss his birthdays :-(

Anyway, cotton velvet is very similar to handle and sew as cotton corduroy, and I’m not overheating! And what is more, I’m actually enjoying sewing it. Nice huh?

Construction notes:

After looking at reviews on sewing pattern review I decided the jacket was too short for the look I wanted, so I lengthened it. I also felt the amount of flair over the hips created by godets set into the seams and darts was just too much with the longer length. In the pattern, each seam has two godets in it, so I simply only used one. This also meant I only had 7 godets to sew in, not 14. Always a bonus :-D

This is the godet set into the centre back. Wow, appreciate for a moment you can actually see something in this photo!

Here’s the one set into the front dart. It was actually harder to do than setting the godets into a seam. Technically it shouldn’t have, but in reality it was just harder and more fiddly to get right. Fortunately, I’ve discovered, velvet is fairly forgiving of things like a bit more or less fabric in a seam allowance than is supposed to be there. I hadn’t expected that, but I’m happy to take it!

To line or not to line?

Originally I wanted a lining, one of those nice slithery things that make putting a jacket on extra-easy. I’m not that good at putting heavy clothes on. Yes, a velvet jacket is heavy! But I didn’t want acetate. Sticky. Doesn’t breathe. I tried to track down some rayon bemburg lining in a dark blue, but just didn’t find any, either in my local Spotlight (though they had signs up for the price of it. Typical Spotlight huh?) or online anywhere. I wanted dark blue because it’s BORING. Yes boring but will mean the jacket is more likely to still be in use in 17 yrs time. (I didn’t think of silk till it was too late to get any sent here)

I gave up on trying to line it, and bought some navy bias binding (yes yes, BORING, I know) to do hong kong seams.

However… after trying it on for these photos, the silly thing stuck to my clothes and seemed more to resemble velcro than anything else. So that’s it. I’ve just gone and got the nicest dark blue lining I could find in my local Spotlight, a thick viscose/polyester affair that is apparently both Italian, and anti-static.

Well, I supposed I’d better go and sew some more :-)

Vintage pattern pledge: late but doing it anyway!

5 Aug

I’m joining in the Vintage Pattern Pledge, for the same reason A Stitching Odyssey created the pledge – I love collecting vintage patterns, (mostly from the local op-shops here) but don’t use many of them. The few I have used have been really good, and ended up in some cases becoming TNTs. It’s kind of silly to collect them all and then not use them. Especially when I’ve had such great luck with the few I have used. (might find some more TNTs in there!

I’m going for 5 by the end of this year, but won’t beat myself up if I manage less. And I’ve decided to add in three little clauses of my own to the pledge.

1) Use vintage patterns (or vintage repro, I’m not fussy) that I haven’t used before.

2 Use fabrics I’ve had sitting in my stash forever, that are too good for any pattern! You know, the ones you look at and think ‘one day I’ll find a pattern that does justice to this fabric.’ And you’re still thinking it 5 yrs later. Uh, 10 in some cases… *sheepish* (Well, when your brother sends you 1.5m of silk georgette from Como in Italy, specifically chosen as a present because legend has it that Como was the first place in the west that produced silks, in a stunning green and blue floral pattern, what pattern IS good enough for that???) (I’ve long ago accepted I’ll never cut it. I just take it out every time I ‘shop my stash’ and pet it lovingly.)

3) Make things that fit in with my wardrobe plan, so I’ll actually end up wearing them.

Well, here’s the patterns I’m intending to use:

I’m working on learning the skills to be able to sew my own underwear. I’m good with the stretch-knit undies. I’m working on the woven undies (They’re so similar I don’t really ‘need’ to work on them but I am having fun and gaining experience, so hey!). After that I’m going to work on ‘bralettes’ given a lot of my life is spent in them. Lastly will be full-on underwire bras.

This comes under the bralette category. I’m thinking the red halter second from the top, and/or the one right at the bottom. I’ll probably use up some scraps rather than cutting in to a bigger piece of fabric. That’s still very Virtuous though, I feel.

Simplicity Creative Group - Misses' Vintage 1950's Bra Tops

While I’m still on the bralette subject, I have this pattern from Mrs Depew Vintage. It’s on my bralette-sewing list. I may get to it this year. So pretty!

Vintage Sewing Pattern 1940's Pauline Matching Bra and Tap Panties PDF Print at Home -INSTANT DOWNLOAD-

 

I want to make some of this style of french knickers, just out of curiousity as to how those gussets work, and how comfortable they might be. Don’t know what fabric yet, either. I’d love to make them up in silk I have had for three or four years, but realistically I’ll use something less expensive to tral it.

These lovlies are from New Vintage Lady on Etsy. I love her shop!

NVL 1940s bra and tap panties pattern set 46 by NewVintageLady

 

However for my pair, I’m going to draw up this pattern I found through pinterest. Just the undies – unless I go totally nuts and make them all up :-P (Actually… that’s not a bad idea! They look so light, easy to wear and cool. It’s lovely and cold and dry today, but it’s August. October and the ‘build up’ *are Looming O_O )

*The Build Up is the build up to the wet season. It’s very hot, extremely humid and the only saving graces are the magnificent and awe-inspiring storms we get during this season, and – mangoes! YUM!

 

This one I found through pinterest too. Oh how I <3 pinterest! I drew it up full-sized, based on the schema given, last night. I was presuming it would be too small for me and I’d have to make it bigger, but measuring the flat pattern, it is bigger than it looks. Worth muslining as is, at anyrate. I love that collar…

Fabric? No idea! I do have some ‘my vintage’ fabric I’ve been meaning to make up into a simple top. Like you know, meaning to for 4 yrs, heading fast towards 5! But it’s quite busy and I wonder if the details might obscure the lovely simple lines of the blouse. Or would it work if I had the inside of the collar in a plain co-ordinating fabric?

 

 

Another pinterest find. I’m planning on drafting it to my own measurements – short-sleeved of course! I’m loving the style lines of this top, however I’m not entirely sure how I’ll work my bigger-than-A cup-bust. An FBA that still keeps these style lines intact? Hmmm.

I’m not so interested in the trim. The fabric I’m planning to use (some beautiful soft satin cotton sent to my by my ‘Auntie’ Josie a few years ago) is also quite busy. Perhaps the neckline would look good in a co-ordinating plain fabric? *ponders*

Miss Conover's blouse, 1921 | via blueprairie

Lastly, I can’t decide between making a blouse like this (short sleeved and the bow lower so it’s cooler, of course)

Lovely blouse

using this pattern. 1986 IS vintage, right? The fabric that jumps out at me for this is a simple very light grey op-shop find that a burn test suggested was either pure cotten, or cotton/linen mix. It’s a soft fabric. I’m quite in love with it. And being from the op shop it’s of unknown vintage. Perfect!

Butteric 4032

 

Or do I want to do this one, using a cotton sateen of blue roses on white? Lovely! Both the pattern and fabric have been in my stash at least 4 yrs.

I think that’s all too far in the future to worry about. I may not even get there this year.

 

However what I have to start on right after finishing this post, is a jacket in blue velvet from this Bolivian Milkmaid’s Jacket from Folkwear – the bottom view, which is the traditional one. Though I cut down some of the excesses of godets, and the width of the sleeves coz I didn’t have enough fabric for the full jacket. Yikes! It took a lot O_O.

I’m heading south at the end of August and I’ll need something nice and warm. Mmm dark blue velvet Mmmm!

McCalls 6470 or: a matter of proportion?

28 Jul

I made McCalls 6470 up in a soft craft cotton. The pattern looks designed for a more flowing fabric, like a satin, say. But it worked fine, I think.

McCall's 6470

I got mum to take some photos. She hates taking photos, but I batted my lashes nicely and she did it for me. Aw! The things mothers do for their children! (Thanks mum!) I took a look at the resulting photo (I only get one chance. She doesn’t do repeat shots! so you get a silly expression coz mum had said something that made me laugh.)

Anyway, photo. I was like … what happened??? I look like I have a ‘triangle’ figure instead of my actual hourglass one. Huh???

 

Was it the belt? Was it the fact that there is a huge amount of fabric around the shoulders and bust in this pattern, that then narrows to the hips?

Or is it that I used a soft craft cotton that stands out more than the slithery drapy satin reccomended would have?

Or is this just how I look in a straight skirt and I’m not used to it coz I hardly ever wear straight skirts?

Here’s the back shot. Again I think it’s top-heavy.

So I went experimenting on my own, inside, with some mirror-selfies. I apologise for the crap photos. I know my photos aren’t usually that great anyway, but my new phone’s photo capacity is really lousy. *facepalm*

Back to the proportions, here is the outfit without the belt. I think it does seem more balanced top and bottom. Funny a belt round the waist changes the emphasis so much.

With both the skirt and the top shortened, (below) I still think it’s more top-heavy, though the width of my thighs revealed by the top’s higher hem balance it a bit. Or maybe it just makes me look chunky all over? O_o

And with something entirely different – bloomers inspired by these from Phonograph Fashions made with my TNT retro jammies pattern, burda 7109 (I just want to buy that entire shop out, to be honest!)

Hmmm. Still emphasises the top, but the bloomers help balance the bottom a bit.

 

Yup, that’s definitely making me look broad across the shoulders. Gosh, IS it possible to look like I have (relatively) slim hips??? I wouldn’t know myself if that happened too often!

After all that experimentation and photography, the conclusion I’ve come to is that it does bring quite an emphasis to the shoulders. Or I could just be seeing things that aren’t there.

What do you guys think?