Monday, 8 December 2014

Rachel Comey Skirt and Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee Take Two.

Front in seam pockets.
After reading the many rave reviews of Vogue 1247, and seeing the multitude of various takes on this pattern in the blogging community...I was persuaded to try it for myself. I will only be discussing the skirt as I have not made the top yet.

Line Art

Invisible zip

This skirt is super short. I added 10cm (almost 4 inches) to the length. This has still resulted in the skirt being quite short, and I will add more length before I make this again. I also added a bit of flare to the side seams to exaggerate the A-line shape.

Side view

Originally I cut a size 16 which fitted well in the waist but was quite loose at hip level. I took the side seams in quite a bit to fit better at the hip line. In hindsight I should have cut size 14 and graded the waist up to size 16.

Inside front showing pocket bags.

I didn't bother with using bias binding to bind the raw edges as instructed. I just overlocked the raw edges to finish them off which has worked out fine, just not as pretty.

Inside back

The fabric used was a non stretch denim purchased from Spotlight quite a while ago. It was really too heavy for this skirt. It is quite stiff and tends to ride up a lot when sitting, and is not very comfortable to wear. The waistband was cut with one edge along the selvedge of the fabric. You can see the green stripe along the edge of the waistband. I secured it by stitching in the ditch from the right side and because the raw edge did not require turning under, this method eliminated some bulk. The hem was hand stitched.

Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee
With the remaining white cotton lycra from my quest to find the perfect white T-Shirt, I have made another Kirsten Kimono Tee by Maria Denmark. 

Side view
I have made a few adjustments to the pattern to improve the look and the fit. Firstly, I lowered the neckline by 5cm (2 inches) at the centre front, using a french curve to redraw the neckline. When laying the front pattern piece on the fold of the fabric, I skewed the centre front slightly so that it pinched out about 1cm from the neckline and added 1.5cm width to the centre front at the hem line. I also did a swayback alteration according to the last method in this tutorial. To balance the extra width added to the hemline of the front, I added 1.5 cm to the side seam width of the back at hem level, blending back up to the waistline. 

Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tees

In the photo collage above you can compare my first version with my second version, after my alterations. I think the second version definitely looks and fits better. 

These two additions to my summer casual wardrobe work well together and can be combined with many other tops and bottoms as well, making these very useful garments.

Happy Sewing

Monday, 1 December 2014

Anne Klein Shift Dress

I have made a colour blocked shift dress. This is Vogue 1382 designed by Anne Klein. 

I have been wanting to try this pattern for a while now after seeing a few others around that have inspired me. Sue from FadanistaKnitting Jenny and Binding Off have all made lovely versions. I have been trying to choose patterns that suit my figure rather than just making patterns that appeal to me.

Vogue 1382 Line Art
According to the pattern envelope this is a semi fitted, lined dress (fitted through bust) has yokes, side front seams, pockets and invisible back zipper. It is classed as easy and is suitable for all figure types.

I cut a straight size 14. The only alteration I made to the pattern was to add 4cm to the length at the hemline.

The fabric is a linen/cotton blend in natural and khaki, purchased from Spotlight at Rockingham on my recent visit to Perth. The lining is a mystery 100% cotton purchased from Bargain Box Fabrics in Batemans Bay. This is the first time I have sewed with linen and I love it. It pressed beautifully and was very easy to work with. These photos were taken after a day at work in the office and it hasn't creased as badly as I was expecting.

After taking this dress for a wearing test run at work today, I have decided it is a little too snug around the hip/bottom area. When sitting it really rides up (especially in the car) and there was a lot of strain put on the centre back seam around the seating area.

The photos above show the details: the seams have been top stitched where the contrasting fabrics join; the pockets have been top stitched (the pattern instructions said to hand sew the pockets to the dress?) and the invisible zip at centre back (notice the strained seam at the lower centre back).

For next time I think I might cut size 14 in the neck/shoulder area and grade up to a size 16 below the armsceye to give me a little more wiggle room. 

The dress is fully lined with 100% cotton. I thought this would be cooler for the summer than a slippery poly lining. I really out smarted myself and made a terrible blunder during the construction of this dress. I was determined to eliminate any hand sewing and attach the lining entirely by machine...but I rushed ahead without fully thinking it through. I inserted the zip in the centre back and finished the centre back seam. Then I joined the front to the back at the shoulder seams. Then I sewed the lining together at the shoulder seams too. Next step was to attach the lining to the dress (all the side seams are left open at this stage). I sewed the lining to the neck and armholes and also to the zip. The seam allowances were graded and clipped and under stitched.I was super pleased with myself and proceeded to turn it all right side out through the shoulder. After a lot of pulling and wriggling I got it all pulled through...only to find that I was right back where I started, with an inside out dress.

It was late at night and I was tired and not thinking straight so I put it aside till the following night. After a bit of googling, I realized my mistake. You must have three seams open for this to work. My mistake was that I had sewed the centre back seam (and inserted the zip). I think if I had left this seam open it would have worked. I think the centre back seam should be sewn after the dress has been turned right side out. Anyway, I will be referring to this post before I attempt this again.

In order to fix my dilemma, I worked out that if I unpicked the shoulder seams of both the dress and the lining I could turn it right side out. After some very tedious unpicking (remember I had graded and clipped and under stitched) I made it work. Such a relief! I then proceeded to resew the shoulder seams by hand. This was quite fiddly due to the seams being graded and clipped, but I was saved by this lovely fabric that presses so beautifully. 

Despite all my troubles with the construction of this dress, I feel that I have stretched my sewing skills and learned a lot. I am quite pleased with the standard of finishing that I achieved on this dress and I am so glad that I figured out how to make it work. 

Unfortunately, I just don't really like it on me. I think it is the colour. I am usually drawn to bright colours and this dress is just a little too drab for me. Anyway, I would like to try it again maybe with a looser fit and some brighter colours.

Happy Sewing 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

A Tale of Three White Tees

My wardrobe was seriously lacking some basic white Tee shirts so I set about to remedy the situation. I had four metres of a lovely quality cotton lycra jersey purchased from Spotlight back in July. I really splurged on this fabric, paying $20.00 per metre with the idea of making some good quality T-Shirts that would stand up to lots of wear. I had several patterns to choose from in my pattern stash and first I chose the popular Kirsten Kimono Tee by Maria Denmark.

This is a great pattern...simple design, easy to sew and comfortable to wear. I cut a straight size BL based on my bust measurement.

There does seem to be excess fabric pooling at the lower back. Probably should do some sort of sway back adjustment before I make the next one.

Although the front is sitting nicely in this photo, it was a little too firm around the tummy and did gape slightly at the front neckline. To fix this problem for the next one, I thought I would angle the centre front edge of the pattern when positioning it on the fold for cutting, so that the neckline is reduced and the hem line is widened. I love the kimono sleeves (no sleeves to set in). I finished off the neckline with the binding as instructed in the pattern. All seams were sewn first on my sewing machine and then finished off with the overlocker. Hems were all sewn with a twin needle. This fabric was easy to sew and behaved very well.

My second choice was the Style Arc Ann T-Top

I cut a straight size 12 which is my usual Style Arc size. I got over confident and overlocked the neckband on without first attaching it with the sewing machine. This would have been fine if it had been the right length but it was way too long and resulted in a very loose neckband. This involved a lot of very tedious unpicking. I reduced the length of the neckband and resewed it, (I may have been a tad over zealous as it looks a little too short now, creating a slight gathered look). I am happy with the fit through the shoulders and chest but the lower portion of the shirt is too loose and saggy...bordering on frumpyville.

The back fits nicely apart from being a little clingy to the lower back fat. (I was very disappointed when I saw this view, better get back on the treadmill)

The sleeves are a nice length too and there is plenty of fabric to do a decent 2cm hem which looks nice. I do like how the shirt is loose around the ribcage area which does camouflage a bit of excess padding in that area. The gathering at the side seam is done by sewing on some clear elastic (stretching as you go) to the seam allowance before sewing the side seams. This step was quite tricky to do neatly. 

For the next one I will need to add some width to the lower back piece and reduce some width from the lower front piece. Then I think I will have a flattering fit and remove the frumpy factor.

The third pattern I used was another one from Style Arc. The Style Arc Polly Top

This was probably not the most ideal fabric choice for this pattern. Something with a bit more drape would have worked better. I made a straight size 12 as usual for Style Arc patterns, cutting the short sleeves which are a cute shape but only allow for a very narrow hem. This pattern was a bit of a brain teaser to work out the front pleat but if you really study the line drawings in the instructions it does work out. 

I was a little concerned that this looked like a maternity top but after looking at the photos, it's not too bad. I like the way it skims over my fat rolls. I had read that this top had quite a low neckline...not on me however. Maybe this is due to the effects of age and gravity?

I am super happy with the back view...not a fat roll in site. Maybe I should substitute this back pattern piece in the Ann T-Top. 

In the photo above you can see the neck band more closely. It is quite narrow and initially I had planned to turn it completely to the inside, but with the very bulky seam allowance this was impossible. The gathering doesn't sit quite right and this may be because my bust is sitting lower than the pattern was designed for.

In the photo above I am trying to show you how the pleat is constructed. There is a triangular piece that is stitched to the neck binding and is then hidden by the extended pleat section being folded over the top and secured to the inside of the neckline.

This has been an interesting exercise and I have learned a lot from comparing these three patterns and studying the photos and the way they fit me. I have a little over a metre of this fabric left so hopefully I can apply these lessons learned and create the perfect white tee for me.

The skirt I am wearing in the photos was made pre blog and it is McCalls 3341 sewn in a cotton sateen.

Happy Sewing

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Another Tropical Scout Woven Tee

Here is Tropical Scout Woven Tee number two.

This is exactly the same as my previous Tropical Scout Woven Tee. The fabric is a very bright tropical print spun rayon purchased from Spotlight. I noticed that Sew Busy Lizzy used this exact same fabric for her second Holly Jumpsuit, By Hand London. She described the fabric as "This is a very soft drapey rayon… feels like heaven – looks like a Hawaiian riot!" which I found quite amusing. I tend to be drawn to bright colours and it hadn't even occurred to me that this print may be a bit over the top.

I am wearing it here with my navy Style Arc Elle Pants. These have been a great match and I have worn this outfit a lot already.

I travelled over to Perth last week to visit my daughter and grandson and I managed to pack only me made clothes (except for one pair of Capri jeans and underwear). I felt this was quite an achievement and made me realise just how much of my wardrobe I am sewing myself.

The photo above was taken at the top of Lesmurdie Falls overlooking the city of Perth. We had a lovely morning hiking down to the bottom of the falls and then back up to the top. 

I did manage a quick visit to Spotlight at Rockingham, but was a little disappointed with the choice of fabrics. I picked up a couple of pieces of a linen/cotton blend which I am planning to make Vogue 1382, and an outrageously bright floral print scuba knit, which I have yet to decide what to make. I also got a Buttersuede in khaki which will match my Style Arc Stacie Jeans Jacket beautifully. I'm thinking of making this into a skirt. Back to work tomorrow and hopefully, back to sewing very soon.

Happy sewing

Monday, 3 November 2014

Tilly's Coco in Chevron Stripes

Here is my third Coco by Tilly and the Buttons. 

I am really loving this pattern for it's versatility. It's such a blank canvas that's so easy to make your own. Here are my first and second Coco's.

For this one I used the same shape with the narrowed skirt, as I did in version two.

I chopped the sleeves off short because I wanted this dress to be suitable to wear to work during the warmer months. In hindsight, I should have added a little width to the sleeves to make them a little looser fitting and improve the look. I did make the underarm length of the sleeve about 2cm shorter than the outer side. Hope that made sense?

The back does have a little wrinkling going on at the waistline. I didn't have this issue with Coco number two, so I am hoping the fabric will relax and drape better after a couple of washes.

The fabric is a chevron printed ponte, in navy and white, purchased from Spotlight back in July. The chevron stripes actually ran parallel to the selvedges. I was quite disappointed when I realized this, because I had pictured this dress with the stripes running horizontally. This fabric was very stable and there was little difference in the amount of stretch running either way, so I took a chance and cut the pattern so that the stripes ran horizontally as I wanted. This worked out fine. I tried to position the darkest part of the print to the waist area, to create a slimming effect, with the lighter parts at the shoulders and hemline.

I sewed this dress on my sewing machine using a very narrow zig zag stitch. This gives the stitching enough give so that it doesn't snap when put under a bit of pressure. I could have just used my overlocker, (but I would rather unpick a single line of stitching than an overlocked seam) if I make a mistake. I did go back and finish off the seams with the overlocker after I was happy with the fit.

Chevrons were impossible to match at side seams.
During the cutting out stage, I thought long and hard about matching the chevron stripes at the side seams. After much head scratching and Googling, I decided that it is impossible to match chevron stripes on curved seams. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) I did the best I could and made sure that at least I had the same width chevrons continuing from front to back. I was pretty chuffed with my seam matching at the underarm intersection.

I turned the hems up 2.5 cm and top stitched with a twin needle. I really like this finish, and if you measure accurately you can position the top stitching right on top of the raw edge, making a very neat finish on the inside.

The neckline looked like it might gape a bit, so I stitched some clear elastic (slightly stretching it as I sewed) to the neckline, using a zig zag stitch. The edge was then turned under (enclosing the elastic) and stitched down using the same twin needle finish as the hem lines.

This has worked well and the neckline sits nice and close to the body.

I omitted the pockets for this one. I thought the print was busy enough without pockets.

 I don't think you have seen the last of this pattern yet. I still have quite a few other ideas I want to try out and this is a great comfy dress suitable to wear to the office too.

Happy Sewing

Sunday, 26 October 2014

My Archer of Tribulation

I have finally finished my second Archer Button Up Shirt by Grainline Studio. This was my Archer of tribulation. I had difficulties at every stage, and it is nothing short of a miracle that it has reached completion and is not laying discarded in the corner of my sewing room.

I blame most of my issues with this shirt on my fabric choice. I wanted a fine gingham so that I wouldn't have to be too careful with pattern matching. Unfortunately, the only fabric available in the fine gingham at Spotlight at the time, was a poly/cotton blend. I think it was 80% polyester and 20% cotton.

My first issue was with the fusible interfacing. I just used the same interfacing that I always use, purchased from my local Bargain Box Fabrics. They sell two types of fusible interfacing...a cheap and nasty lightweight interfacing, and a cheap and nasty medium weight interfacing. The minute I fused the interfacing to the fabric the fabric wrinkled and bubbled and shrank. I had to re-cut the collar. I did some testing on scraps but I couldn't stop the bubbling effect. In the end I decided to underline the collar and cuff pieces with another white poly/cotton fabric I had left over from another project which didn't wrinkle and bubble when I fused on the interfacing.

This fabric did not like to be sewn. The seams puckered and I had terrible trouble getting them to lie nice and flat. For this reason I decided not to faux flat fell the seams. I just finished them off with the overlocker and left good enough alone. You can see in the photo above there is something weird going on with the yoke. It wants to pull up in the centre and is creating a fold of fabric at the base of the neck. I didn't have this issue with my first Archer which I made out of a cotton voile, so can only attribute this to the fabric.

I did make a couple of minor changes for my second Archer, based on what I learned during the construction of my first one. I cut a size twelve, as before, but I cut the sleeves in a size 8. These fitted perfectly into the armsceye and are a much more pleasing width and length. I also added 5cm (approx 2 inches) to the length of the front and back, at the waistline. To try and take away the boxy shape of the shirt I tapered the side seams slightly by 1cm (approx 3/8ths of an inch) at the waistline curving back to nothing at the armsceye and hemline. I am pleased with the shape of the shirt now, still loose but a little more figure flattering.

Two piece undercollar and collar stand
As you can see I didn't give any thought to pattern matching the two piece under collar which is a bit of a shame because it would have looked really good. Must keep that in mind for the next one. Due to underlining the collar and cuff pieces there was quite a lot of bulk in these areas. Luckily my trusty Bernina powered through all the layers without a problem.

Angled cuffs
I think the angled cuffs are a nice feature. I sewed continuous plackets as instructed in the pattern but they puckered terribly. I did the best I could and tried to press the puckering out but I didn't have great success.

The pockets also gave me grief. When I pressed the pockets before attaching them, the fabric skewed strangely. At least they did this symmetrically. I was really worried that this would be very obvious and ruin the look of the shirt, but I don't think it is too noticeable if you don't look too hard. The last job was the button holes and buttons. I had every confidence that this would go well as my Bernina has an automatic buttonhole foot and setting so that once you set the button hole length it will reproduce identical button holes over and over. Well, how wrong I was. I think I spent about three hours on these button holes and I unpicked nearly as many as I sewed. The fabric puckered so I started using a tearaway stabilizer on the back which eliminated the puckering. Then my button holes were sewing with each side offset from the other by a few mm each side. I got very good at unpicking buttonholes. In the end, I started again and reset the buttonhole length. This, combined with the tearaway stabilizer worked a treat and I was able to go ahead and complete the remaining button holes without a hitch.

Despite all my problems during the construction of this shirt, I am glad I persevered and finished it. Probably not my best sewing but at least it is a wearable garment and I have learned never to bother making this in a poly/cotton again. Next one will be a nice soft cotton shirting or maybe a linen.

Happy Sewing