Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Me Made June 2011....and Restyle # 16!

 "I, Miss P, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-June ’11. I will aim to wear one me-made item each day for the duration of June 2011"

Yep, I'm a little late to the party but that will be no surprise to anyone who knows me well! I'd been ummm'ing and ah'ing about the whole thing. I know there are massive gaps in my wardrobe still. After all it's only a matter of weeks since we finished Me Made March. I'm still not entirely convinced I can pull this off BUT I did find that the last challenge was a great motivator for using my imagination both in terms of putting outfits together AND whipping up some quick fix Me Made garments at speed. So I'm in(sane).....Plus I ran myself up a little fail safe out of a vintage kitchen curtain, that I can turn to in times of need and housework.....;)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I've been a bad, bad girl...

I'm pretty sure if it came to it that I could cite extreme provocation. Temporary insanity arising from the common affliction known as Stircrazyitis resulting in justifiable internet Shopacide. Yes, I have been stuck at home without transport for far too long and cannot be held responsible for the fact that I have just purchased MORE patterns when I already have a whole load of projects on my "to do" list  and many more patterns than I could reasonably get through in an entire year. No matter because....

Simplicity 2245 - I TOtally blame Karen for this one. I then went on to see this and decided I had no choice but to buy it. Soooooo not my fault.
Vintage Vogue 8078 - I have some denim that I bought at Goldhawk Road that these will be perfect for (come to think of it, that was down to Karen too, so not my fault either)
Simplicity 2654 - I've seen some really fab versions of this. (Here and here for instance. Although I think Casey's are a Wearing History pattern??) It's a shape I've been on the lookout for for quite a while, and I love that it has that vintage feel to it.  All things being equal, should definately get my money's worth out of this one 
Vintage Simplicity 9334 - I am most likely ASKing for trouble buying a maternity pattern (no I don't mean the pitter patter of tiny feet! More the appearance of being pregnant when actually not!) but this pattern just screams 70's air hostess. There's just something about it I really like. The collar, double breasted details. This is an impulse purchase for sure. But like I said, I'm not in full control of my impulses. It's just not my fault. (I think I'd better hurry up and get a a car!)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thrifty Finds # 25 - Withdrawal Symptoms!

Since J went back to work (and took the car with him!) I've been a wee bit restricted in getting out and about. (Rural bus services can be a little tricky!)Which has put the brakes on my thrifting somewhat. But I've still managed to turn up theses lovelies for the shop over the past few weeks...
 I'm looking forward to being able to get out and about again for some full throttle thrifting. Sigh....;)
Found any treasures recently?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Top Draftalong # 16 - Regrouping....

So how is everyone doing? I'm about to sew up my toile/muslin. Before I post any more though, I thought this would be a good point to review where we're at. Here's a round up of the posts so far

Top Draftalong # 15 - Stay Stitching
Top Draftalong # 14 - Transferring Toile Markings
Top Draftalong # 13 - Adding Seam Allowance
Top Draftalong # 12 - Not a Happy Bunny
Top Draftalong # 11 - Making the Toile/Muslin
Top Draftalong # 10 - Handy Little Helpers
Top Draftalong # 9 - Assembling the PDF Pattern
Top Draftalong # 8 - Basic Block Patterns
Top Draftalong # 7 - Cracked it!
Top Draftalong # 6 - Bear with me!
Top Draftalong # 5 - Over to You
Top Draftalong # 4 - Body Measurements
Top Draftalong # 3 - Odds & Ends
Top Draftalong # 2 - Rough Schedule
Top Draftalong # 1 - Preliminary post

Of the few comments I've received on the draft-along posts recently, most have been that, like me, some of you feel you are falling behind. (Not that you can as such, since these post are here to use as and when you choose). When I say some of you, for all I know it could be all of you. I don't actually know how many of "you" there are. I don't actually know if anyone has a muslin cut out  or not yet.  So, if you are/have been/are intending to follow the draftalong, would you mind awfully dropping by the comments section of this post? I'd just like to know where you're at really so I know how to pitch the rest of the draftalong. Whether I'm going to fast/too slow. Whether the posts are easy to follow/clear as mud. You know the sort of thing. A kind of roll call with feedback really. Please don't be shy, I can take it ;)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Getting around...

I think it's fair to say that I have the refashioning bug. There's definately something fun and slightly addictive about seeing past the frumpy shapes and dodgy details of a thrifted "horror" and finding the hidden gem. At least that's what I hope to do, (with varying degrees of success)! There are some ah-ma-zing refashioners and recyclers out there. Just take a look through the Project Restyle Flickr pool or the archives of the newly formed Refashion Co-op to see what I mean. How chuffed was I then, when li'l ole P, got a li'l mention here!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sewaholic Crescent Skirt - Too good to muslin!

Last week I finished my toile/muslin for Sewaholic's latest pattern, The Crescent Skirt. As soon as Tasia sent the first marketing email for this pattern and I saw the working drawings, I knew it was a must have for me. Firstly because I love Tasia's style of sewing. She's very precise, ordered, logical. Right up my alley. But I didn't feel The Pendrell was quite right for me, so I missed out on her last sewalong. I certainly wasn't disapointed with this sewalong. Tasia's guidance and tutorials have been nothing short of fabulous. Each time I found myself wondering about something, I'd scroll down and there was a full size close up or the element I was puzzling over. The lady is a bona fide mind reader. Phenomenal.
Secondly, during my first year of college in 2010 we were asked to design and draft a skirt that we would like to make for ourselves. I never finished drafting mine but here it is at the design sketch and working drawing stage. I know!! Spooky right?!  I got as far as sewing up a 1/4 scale toile of my first draft, and let me tell you the central point of the yoke was a total mess! My drafting skills were not yet up to it and it became a drafting UFO. You can imagine my delight then, when I first saw The Crescent Skirt pop up in my email. Now I had a chance to see how it should be done! I loved the seaming details on the Crescent skirt's waistband too, and of course, pockets. Gotta have pockets.
I used a mystery fabric that I'd acquired some time ago from the stash at college. It has a kind of light weight chambray/denim feel to it but theres a very slight stretch to it as well. I decided on view C.  I was puzzling a bit over sizing. I knew this pattern was built for curvier hips than mine but probably smaller waists in proportion.  I was inbetween a 14 and 16 at the waist but an 8 when it came to the hips. I opted to cut the 14 and (after seeking Tasia's guidance) sew the straight edges of the waistband pieces with a smaller seam allowance to add in the extra I needed.  To be honest, I won't bother adding the extra in when I make this up again  Having road tested this for a whole day, it felt a little looser than I'd wanted. I suspect there's enough ease built into the pattern already, and it kept slipping below my hips every so often. So I'll leave well alone next time and it will be just perfect! I may reduce the flare a little bit. As it's larger in the hips than my proportions, there is quite a bit of flare. But to be clear, I TOTALLY love this pattern.

It sews up like an absolute dream and I liked it so much from the outset that I decided to employ all of the finishing and construction tecniques to make this a wearable muslin. It was going too well  to waste it on something I wouldn't be able to wear! Aside from messing up the alignment of the point at the front I'm so pleased with how the waistband turned out. I NEVER tuck things into a waistband, but in some respects it's a shame not to as it really is the star of the show in my opinion. I also bodged my gathers a bit but even that didn't bother me as the overall effect was so pleasing. Although Tasia designed this skirt for pear shaped figures, it truly is more versatile than that. In fact I'm glad the pear shaped angle isn't overstated as I think this would be selling The Crescent Skirt short. I liked the idea of a snug fitting yoke that flared at the hips. I have a large waist compared to my hips and can look as if I have no waist at all. For me, it's not about accomodating curvy hips. It's more about making my waist look smaller by comparison. The Crescent skirt achieves that too in my view.
Here are some close ups on the detail....
Top stitching along all the waistband seams. My point is a bit off centre so will need to pay attention to this when I make this pattern up again.  (Sorry for the weird camera angles!)

I tried out a different fabric for the pocket sections. Pretty pleased  with the effect so will have to work out some nice fabric combos for future versions.. BTW these pockets are pretty posh. They are French seamed and have the coolest reinforcement technique thanks to Tasia's tutorials on this particular element. I love the overall construction of them too.
Don't laugh!! I thought I'd try out the hand picked zipper method seeing as this was a toile. Actually, I really like the technique as I hate machine sewing zips. Somehow they always look like a 5 year old has sewn them in (wait, I'm probably being unfair to 5 year olds). This one is a bit messy for my liking, but I've since tried this out again on a different project with great success. Much neater and not somuch zip on show! I've yet to try out Tasia's interesting method for zip insertion as I'd finished this before that part of the sewalong was posted. Looks intriguing. Has a touch of genius about it on first impressions.
One of the things I'm beginning to love about "sewing your own" is the little extra finishes you can add, that only you know about. I enclosed the raw edge of the hem behind this pretty satin ribbon. There's a double row of stitching visible at the hem on the RS which I quite like.
So in summary, love, love love it. Tasia's sewalong posts for this pattern were a massive help. Especially if, like me, there are techniques that you haven't used before (like the zip insertion and pocket reinforcement) then I'd say they are a must as they go into much clearer detail than the pattern instructions. I shall definately be sewing this up again. Maybe a lengthened version of View A this time??
Have you been following the sewalong for the Crescent Skirt? How are you finding it?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fandango Fabulous!!

If you have not already heard about it, well, where on earth have you been for heaven's sake?! Oh, I see. Well yes, I see your point. The whole world doesn't revolve around London W12. True.
But for a few hours on Saturday afternoon it WAS the centre of the whirwhind of bloggers and sewists that was Karen's Fabulous Fabric Fandango. A  blogger meet up extravaganza which, when it collided with Sew Weekly's UK Sewing Circle meet up, (same time,same place! I know! Serendipity was on the ball that day!) turned London's Goldhawk Road into a squealing mass of super excited sewists, chomping at the bit to be let loose on unsuspecting shopkeepers. I'm not sure they knew quite what had hit them. Towards the latter part of the day, I saw more than one shop assistant with that "please make it stop" look of quiet desperation etched on their faces.
After a few hours of shopping in a dozen or so fabric shops literally full to the rafters with roll upon roll of every conceivable fabric, I must confess I was all shopped out and happy to retire to Vesbar for a glass of wine, a natter, and to compare our fabric finds.(I was amazingly restrained by the way) It truly was a sensory overload. So if you go, go with a list! I went without any specific plan in mind and I barely dragged myself away with my bank balance intact. I splurged on some retro mid blue denim (well £16.50 for 3 metres of 150cm wide ;) that I only decided I desperately needed when I saw it. I "broke my duck" with some gorgeous polka dot cotton and nabbed some cheap and cheerful sailor'esque stripe polyester crepe at £3 a metre. I'm planning some retro flared jeans, a cute top in the polka dot and some loose fitting trousers in the crepe.

Thanks are not enough for the lovely Karen for organising the day. I had the chance to meet in person, so many lovely bloggers and sewists. Some of whom I've enjoyed stalking for time, and other whom I shall be stalking from now on! Oh, and I had my purchases pre washed and hung on the line the following morning. How good am I?!
A big shout out and a cheesy "whoop whoop" to all the lovely ladies I met.I'm still floating from the fabulousness of it. :) You can read more here, here, here, here and here!

Top Draftalong # 15 - Stay Stitching

Staying on our little detour from  the book for now, I wanted to go over stay stitching the neckline and armhole curves. Now, from bitter experience, I can tell you it is soooo not worth skipping this step. This toile may be sewn up, tried on, pulled about, pinned, picked apart, pressed, sewn up again, tried on again; several times yet. This will put stress on the fabric and especially on the curved edges at the neckline and armholes and can distort the shape and therefore the fit of the toile to a suprising degree. If you are familiar with the ongoing drafting of my Go To dress, it is exactly this distortion that has stalled my progress and led to much clenching of fists and Grrrrr'ing.  Just when I thought I was almost at the end of the process, I'll have to re-draft the neck and armholes, which I just haven't been able to face yet. So in the hope that I can save someone else from this trauma, onto stay stitching....

Definition: Stay stitching is a single line of stitching, through one layer of fabric, to stabilize the fabric, preventing it from becoming stretched or distorted. Stay stitching is usually called for on the edge of a piece of fabric that has a bias cut to it which would allow the fabric to easily become distorted. (source)

Ok, so now we've got that cleared up, sew around each neckline and armhole curve using a standard straight machine stitch....I forgot and just sewed from one end of the curve to the other. But the correct way to do it is to sew from one end of the curve to the centre and stop. Then sew from the other end of the curve to the centre again, until the 2 rows of stitching meet. This is to limit the amount of pull on the fabric as it goes through the machine as even the process of stay stitching could potentially distort a bias curve. Whichever you choose, go careful ad try not to stretch the fabric! Backstitch at the beginning and end of each row of stitching...
 Repeat for each curve...
Back soon with the next post. Don't forget you can now start adding your own pictures to the Flickr group.

Top Draftalong # 14 - Transferring Toile Markings

Ok. So right now, if we're on the same page, You should have 3 toile pieces. A Front/Back cut as one piece then the other side cut as 2 pieces. You'll either have seam allowance all the way round each piece, or, (if you're a corner cutter like me!) seam allowance added to the side and shoulder seams only. I'm taking a little detour from the instructions in the book for the next couple of posts. (I know, totally out of character). I wanted to cover a couple of bits that the book doesn't touch on, but that I feel, from past experience, would be beneficial. For this post I wanted to make some points on marking the toile.  We traced around the block pattern, transferred the pattern markings, then drew in our seam allowance. However, since we cut one piece on the fold and the other in duplicate out of a double layer of calico, only half our toile/muslin has the pattern markings. We now need to transfer the markings to the blank/duplicate parts of the toile/muslin.

X marks the side with the original tracing of the block pattern. Y marks the blank side where I've transferred over the dart and waistline makings...
I used this simple technique to transfer the points of the dart....With your toile piece(s) folded/doubled up, stick a pin through the point you want to transfer to the other side (make sure the pin is square to/at right angles to the fabric)....
 Turn the fabric pieces over and mark where the pin comes through....
 Repeat for each of the dart and waistline points....
 Then join them all up with a ruler...
Repeat this process on the back piece(s) then mark each toile piece with the amount of seam allowance, Centre Back, Centre Front etc...(Believe me, you may forget how much seam allowance you added in a couple of weeks once a few more lines are drawn onto this toile ;)
I'll be right back with the next post....

Monday, May 16, 2011

Restyles # 14 &15 - Nautical Top + Broderie Skirt

Ok, so, been pretty behind with blogging anything other than our Draft-along lately. But that doesn't mean to say I haven't been refashioning away when I can. Just don't seem to have been able to get myself together enough to photograph my finished garments. I've so totally NOT been in a camera mood of late either, which probably doesn't help matters. Anyhow, with all of that in mind this is a double whammy post.

First up is this 90's long dress in a navy crepe style fabric. It's not an awful dress by any means. Just not really my style plus it had shrunk a little in the wash. So it was ripe for a bit of attention. I've been inspired by some of the "skirt to top" refashions I've been seeing, so thought I'd have a go too.
Essentially the hem of the dress in the first photo has become the neckline of the top in the second photo. The seam you can see down the front of the top was the centre backseam of the skirt, but I quite liked the effect of having it run down the centre front.
Having cut the top portion of the dress off completely I turned the skirt portion inside out. I cut all along the side seams on both sides so I was essentially left with 2 pieces of fabric. One for the front and one for the back. Using chalk, I marked where I wanted the armholes to finish then drew in new, shaped side seams and cut the two layers of fabric along these lines and pinned them together.
For the neckline I marked a 12" section in the centre of the old hemline. This was to become my neck hole. After sewing the hem closed either side of the neck hole, I topstitched all around the neckline and shoulder seams. Partly for decorative reasons but mostly to stop the seam allowance around the neck edge from rolling back out. I then pressed under the raw edges of the sleeves and stitched these and then the side seams; finishing the hem last of all. The buttons from my stash (and the slash/bateau neckline) add a little nautical touch..

All in all, this took just over an hour from start to finish and I'm especially pleased with the result of this one. Here it is, worn with another skirt restyle I did recently. This was a size 8 maxi skirt. I was totally drawn to the gorgeous broderie and scalloped hem. It's fully lined (always a plus with cream/white skirts!) I could no more fit into a size 8 than I could settle for just the one slice of ginger cake (nom,nom! My only real cakey downfall!). However, because of it's A line shape it of course gets wider and wider all the way down. A no brainer then that at some point it would be wide enough to go around my waist. Cue fabric scissors, waistband elastic and a sewing machine. I just loved the chunky broderie border on this skirt too much to pass it up even if it was 3 sizes too small. It's a really nice length for me. Kinda tea length I guess you'd call it. Which is great when you're not a fan of flashing too much leg but want to stay cool. Hurrah for sewing machines!
Have you refashioned anything recently? Would love to take a peak so please feel free to leave a link in the comments section.
Happy stitching!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Top Draftalong # 13 - Adding seam allowance

(Blogger sent me my content back! Yay for Blogger!) So how is everyone doing? I'm afraid these posts are coming in short bursts as I'm trying to snatch time in between entertaining the Little Tornado, college, and household stuff. (Plus Blogger was down during my one big window of opportunity this morning. Typical) I'm guessing this is ok though because judging from most of your comments and emails, we're all snatching little bits of time for this project. Trying to squeeze it in, between all the enticing ideas and inspiration calling to us as we wander through the blogosphere! Taking on too much and then....gah!....can't keep up with it all...(or is that just me, lol!) Fear not, my fellow "over-doers"...it seems we are in no immediate danger of the pace of this draft-along getting any quicker any time soon (apologies to the organiszed and efficient among us!). So, moving (not so swiftly) onto how to add seam allowances...

"Because this toile must be sewn together so that you can try it on, 1.6cm (5/8 in) seam allowances must be added to all edges using the cardboard gauge and a pencil"    
There are quite a few ways to go about adding a seam allowance. The cardboard gauge is one. (a strip of cardboard cut to the width of the desired seam allowance) This is the one I like to use around anything other than a straight line. It works just as well with the end of a ruler or tape measure as it does with a seam gauge....
I'm adding a bit extra to my seam allowances just in case I need it so I set my gauge to 1".  Then it's a question of working your way along the outline, lining up the blue marker and using the tip of the gauge to draw a dashed line to mark out the seam allowance...

I find this the easiest technique for getting an even seam allowance around curves.
Note: I am only adding seam allowance to my side and shoulder seams at this stage (I went a little over onto the armhole curve just to demonstrate). My reasoning is, that these are the only seams I need to sew initially to fit my toile (the sleeves will come a bit later) and I don't really see the point in adding a seam allowance to the hem or neckline at this stage. They will serve no purpose as we will not be sewing the hem or the neckline. Of course, you can either do as I am doing (I may be missing something and doing it totally wrong, lol!) or you can do exactly as the book instructs and add seam allowance to all edges. It's entirely your call.
The seam gauge technique is great on curves but it's alot quicker to use a transparent quilters ruler or dressmaker's curve/square along straight edges.....
Other options:
  • Let the width of your ruler dictate the width of your seam allowance. As long as it's at least 5/8 it doesn't really matter if you add extra,as long as it's the same all the way around
  • Use your sewing machine to mark out your seam allowance. You have a ready made gauge on the throat plate and can use your stitching line to mark your cutting line and to stop the edges from fraying once you cut it out
  • What about this nifty little gadget:

Cute!! How about you? Any pearls of wisdom? How do you add your seam allowances??

Top Draftalong # 12 - Not a happy bunny

Hello there. Not a happy bunny. I posted our next draftalong post last night. Blogger had been down all day but seemed to have got sorted by yesterday evening, so I spent a couple of hours putting our post together and it seemed to publish fine and I went to bed a happy bunny. However,  Blogger has since gone down again, been down all day today, and has taken my last post (and those of many other bloggers) along with it. GAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So you find me now, not such a happy bunny after all. Our already tattered schedule has taken another bashing (albeit not my fault this time, lol!). Sometimes it's just best to regroup and reschedule. So those of you that have emailed to say you're running behind...so am I. I will be back on Monday, without fail, with the next draftalong post. I'm giving myself the weekend off. I shall be foraging away in fabric shops tomorrow, flourishing  my castanets and clicking my fingers (along with around 30 other sewist and bloggers), as part of Karen's Fabric Fandango....anyone else coming? See you there perhaps...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Top Draftalong # 11 - Making the Toile/Muslin

I'll fess up right now. I jumped ahead of the game a little bit and didn't refer to the book when I wrote the schedule for this draftalong, assuming that the book followed the usual order of things. It doesn't. It makes no mention of initial alterations to the basic block pattern before making up the first toile/muslin (see week 3 of our schedule). It dives straight into making the toile. The idea of this draftalong, was to follow the instructions in the book. So you find me at this moment, torn between resisting my inner voice telling me it would be better to do it slightly differently; and my other inner voice (oh my inner voices, they are many!) telling me that I should stick to what it says in the book to the letter, as that was the whole point, right?
So I'm going with the latter, and skipping week 3, and moving obediently  straight to week 4.  Making the toile. Here's what the book says:

"Having cut around your paper block pattern, press the calico, fold it in half and pin the block pattern pieces in position on the calico with the centre front, the centre back and the sleeves all on the grain"

The book then refers us to page 60 (we're currently only on page 11) for an explanation of the grain. I can tell you that page 60 offers very little explanation of how to lay the pattern pieces on the grain. Essentially,the book pre-supposes a certain degree of understanding of sewing terms. If anyone needs further clarification of the grainline, click here and here.

Note: UK and US definitions of calico are different. Referred to as muslin in the US, (thank you Sheri) Calico is someting else entirely in US terminology. When I, and indeed this book (as a British publication), refer to calico, it's the unbleached cotton fabric in the photos that you guys in the US call muslin.

This image from the book (I've added the turquoise writing!)shows the front pattern piece being cut as two pieces, and the back pattern piece being cut on the fold in one piece. When trying the toile on for fitting in this case, it will be pinned together along the seam allowance at the centre front.
It is possible to do the reverse (which I have done) and have the front piece cut as one piece on the fold and the back piece cut as 2. You'll end up pinning the toile along the centre back seam allowance in this case(a bit like those back to front hairdresser's gowns)when you come to try it on. It's really up to you. I prefer having my pins down the back as this is just what I've been used to doing at college and a centre front seam is one less thing to consider when assessing and addressing the fit at the front. On the down side it's pretty fiddly to pin the back seam if you're on your own! Once you've decided whether you want to end up pinning down the front or back, you can lay your pieces out on the calico accordingly then proceed as follows:

Pin or weight down your pattern piece. This is my front piece which I'll be cutting on the fold once I've lined it up and traced it...
Trace around your block pattern using a pencil or biro...
Poke a hole through the dart point on the front piece (just like you did on the mini block/sloper) I used a seam ripper again..
Then poke your pen through and mark the dart point onto the calico below...

Mark where the dart edge, waistline and arm notch are along the edge of the piece...

You should end up with the outline, and all the pattern markings marked around the edge...
 Join up the dart points and the waistline marks with a ruler...
 You should end up with something like this...
Quick tip: Always worth checking before you cut out, that the neckline curve starts at right angles to the fold/centre front so that you don't end up with a peak when you cut it..
Repeat this process for all 3 pattern pieces. Here's my back piece ready to trace....

Next up, once all 3 piecesare traced onto the calico, the book states:

" Because this toile must be sewn together so that you can try it on, 1.6cm (5/8 in) seam allowances must be added to all edges using the cardboard gauge and a pencil"    

Surprise,surprise, I have a few points to cover on adding the seam allowances. More on that tomorrow. Baby bedtime and bathtime has caught up on me for now. I have casserole to dish up and college in the morning. (The new series of The Apprentice starts in 45 minutes too!) Ciao for now ;)