Monday, 23 March 2015

Left over fabric to flowy blouse

Despite my dismal 1 post / month on average since November, I have been doing some sewing. I guess winter time is just not that sewing-inducing for me at all. I have started to get back into sewing in February, and I'm stash busting.

OK, actually I don't believe in stash busting at all, and have promptly ordered more fabric to offset the loss. I have lovely stuff that came from Mood to my friend's desk in California. More on that in the following months.

Today, I want to show you my second edition of the Belacarra:

This is all silk crepe, left over from my party dress from last year, and I obsessed over what to make with it for a long time until I settled on this pattern. It's Liberty silk crepe, and just as amazing to sew with as last time I used it. I got it at Truro fabrics but they no longer have this pattern - they have others though, this weight is the one called "Liberty crepe" (rather than crepe de chine or something else) . The brown contrast is crepe de chine, acquired from Britex. It's nice but nowhere near as nice as the Liberty one. :)

Truth be told, I'm not that enamored with the fit on this one. There are two main issues: first, there is a lot of extra fabric at the sleeve join, and the drape of the fabric makes this obvious. To be honest, I have NO idea how to fix this. The good news is that despite (or because?) the masses of fabric, it is quite comfortable to wear. I do wish someone knew how to fix.

The second issue is my own stupidity - I narrowed the hips without realizing when I did the sway back last time. This is of little consequence - it means the blouse looks a lot better tucked into my trousers, but it's still annoying as hell.

I do like the blousiness though, and I think this pattern is much better in this drapey fabric than my first version. If you're wondering what happened to that one, I managed to rip a hole in it when I was putting it on a few weeks back, so into the bin it went. Sad but true :0

Here's a side shot:

And dress form / hanger photos:

Construction wise, I used french seams everywhere. I find that I now have the patience to treat french seams properly - that is, sew right sides together, press, trim the seam, press open, then press together right-sides together, then sew, then press stitching, then press open. I never used to do that before, but I really love taking my time and doing this now. Especially with so much expensive fabric, it would be a let down to not do it properly.

I also did some edge stitching on the sleeves. I didn't follow construction instructions on the sleeves, as I thought that would result in raw edges on the inside. Instead, I did a regular cuff - press 5/8" in, stitch other side, fold / press / trim, baste pressed edge over stitched edge then edge stitch from the outside.

For the neckline, I followed instructions - it's just finished with bias (fold bias strip, sew raw edges together, trim and sew from outside):

Finally, I attached a tag:

I keep meaning to order custom-made tags, but yeah, it's lazyness inc at auxetically nowadays. So I got this paw ribbon instead.

So, what do you think of my new Belacarra? Yay or nay? Do you know what I should do to improve fit at the sleeves? Tell me, I love hearing from you!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Crochet central: wintery headband

I haven't had much sewing mojo lately, I guess it's just winter time. I have done some crochet, which I'm partially posting today and partially later in the week.

My dad was complaining recently that he can't find a nice headband to buy. He really prefers headbands to caps in winter for some reason. Since I had some yard around, I decided to help him and I crochet a super quick one for him. I took pictures with my phone this morning before work:

It's really quite big for me, but I think it's going to look better for him. The pattern is a simple single crochet, with the hook going through the back edge of the stitch only - that's what creates the ribbed effect.

I also did a massive zig-zag in a contrasting color, this was pretty easy to do - I just worked with two yarns - the blue was my main one, and the orange/autumn one was just used for a single stitch in each row.

I did 3 rows of double crochet with both yarns at the end. Since using two yarns for the dc was quite thick, I skipped each second sc, and only did half the number of dc as sc. I mostly did this because I needed some more width but the zig zag-shape was ending - this way, I could finish the zig zag in a way that looked intentional, and the rows of dc look ok. Plus, this allows you to know which is the back of the band and which the front.

Finally, when I was done with the body of the headband, I added two rows of normal sc on both top and bottom, and another row of sc in the brown contrasting color. The brown was a specific request!

Fun fact: the blue yarn is the very first yarn I bought, when I started learning to crochet, it's great to finally see it put to good use. I'm mailing this to him this week, hopefully he will like and wear it!

Monday, 19 January 2015

An outlook to 2015

Hello everyone... it's been quite radio silence here lately because I haven't been sewing much. I ended up rushing to make a blouse on new year's eve, which ended in near disaster, so I think for me 2015 will be marked by slow sewing. Taking my time and making sure everything is right makes for things I will wear.

December and January have also been impossibly busy at the weekend, which is still my major sewing time. For one, I have taken up skiing, since I live in Switzerland now after all:

Not really taken up as much as "done a couple of hours of ski school" but we'll see how it goes. Ideally, I'd like to try cross country skiing at some point too, but I'm not sure if that will be this year or the next. Downhill skiing is probably what I'll do this year.

In crafting news, I started some crochet work in early January:

I'm making the Mirror Lake Scarf, which I found Ravelry. I'm making this for my mom, whose birthday is soon, although I don't know if I'll finish & block in time for that - the squares are an 8-row repeat and rows 6-8 are quite slow going for whatever reason.

Once I'm done with that, I'd like to go back to those wristlets I started last year and got stuck on. Then, maybe I'll work up the momentum to try the cardigan in Jennifer Hansen's Craftsy class.

Sewing-wise, other than taking it slowly, I have a few plans.

Skirts - Another Vogue 1247, this time in a dark grey suiting and a V1357 in camel wool suiting, since this type of skirt is very popular this season (like this one).

Tops - I have a bunch of very drapey silk voile and crepe fabric which I'd like to make up into tops in the first half year. I'll start with V1387 pattern, move on to another Sewaholic Belcarra blouse. Finally, I have two shirt patterns from Bootstrap fashion, one of which I'd really like to make up at some point.

Dresses - Before the holidays I bought some wool double knit, and then ordered the Uptown/Downtown dress in January - I'd very much like to make up this dress for the winter season.
Then, I would like to try my hand at a wool suiting dress, this Bootstrap fashion pattern. Finally, I want to mess around with colorblocking on Vogue 1316.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Autumn / Winter Hiatus

Soo.. I just haven't been feeling like blogging much recently. Well, to be honest I haven't been sewing much either. Or feeling like doing much of anything except reading and looking out the window at the grey immensity that's outside (ok ok in truth it's not that bad - this has been a good autumn for me, and this temporary meh is just due to tiredness)

Still, I did finish a couple of things and it just so happens that I took phone pics so I figured I'd share.

First off, this dress will get a proper post when I take pictures:

Yes, I look like a dork trying to take that photo, but hey at least no phone selfie. It's Vogue 1329:

And I have obviously put the color blocking on the wrong side. It also feels a bit wide around my hips, so I might just take it in before I take real pictures :)

As an aside, looking back at this pic, this dress looks really rather ridiculous (it might also be the shoes). I just don't have much success sewing dresses I guess :/

Then I did a bit of selfless sewing, and made a baby quilt as a present.

 I used this tutorial:, although I guess I didn't follow it exactly. I chose the center piece cat fabric, then I got the rest to match.

The back is a very nice "garland" grey - you can't see it, but it is striped and has these tiny circles with color inside (not sure that makes much sense, but it's pretty so that's that).

I got all the fabrics from I really like this store for quilting stuff, because they're super quick and they have a great shipping deal to Switzerland (they're not paying me to say this: I genuinely like the store). They also have a color matching service - the brown below was chosen by them as the shade I had picked wasn't a good match.

I also added tags to this quilt as per the tutorial, cause I thought that was a cool idea, here's a picture with all of them. I just used random bits of ribbon I had around in the stash, but hopefully the kid will like it.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Silk Crepe Bellini Blouse

I can't believe I've been sitting on these photos for two three weeks already. Time does fly doesn't it! I also don't seem to have been sewing at all in the past two weeks, though I am working on a dress currently.

This is a picture heavy post.

I made another Bellini blouse, this time in silk crepe which I got in the remnant bin at Britex. It was a good 2 yards as well, so I have enough for a sleeveless top or accents on another top or something similar!

As mentioned last time, the pattern needed some changes. I was too lazy to retape the pattern together, so instead I modified the existing one: I extended the bust circumference by about 1 inch, and increased a bit more at the hips. I did this by keeping the shoulders the same and cutting and extending into the armhole. Then, I remade the armhole curve. It worked ok, especially in the back. I should have made the armhole deeper in the front though.

I'm standing crooked in this picture, but the back flows nicely I think. As before, no swayback necessary. Side view and another front view below.  I'm not sure about the drag lines - whether they're because of how I'm standing or not. Now, I'm not the thinnest person around, but I think part of the drag lines also come from the belt I am wearing. I'm always wear jeans with a belt, and it seems like I need to account for that in my makes from now on.

I'd appreciate some feedback otherwise if you have any. I wonder if I should have made a proper FBA on this pattern - I don't think so, but any inputs are welcome!

Construction wise, I used french seams everywhere, and this time I overcast the edges of the front facing, since I didn't want the blouse to ravel at all.

I made bias binding as before, and I also used it to finish the hem, since I wanted something easy - no one will know anyway, and it's not more bulky in this fabric. Also, otherwise I would have been left with a perfectly usable length of bias binding :)

The only embellishment I made was to add 3 buttons on top instead of following the placement.

I saw this in a pretty shirt one of my friends has, and thought I'd replicate. In hindsight, they could have been closer together, but it's always hard to tell with buttons.

Unlike before, making the collar was a lot easier - I knew what to expect, so that was part of it. Come to think of it, making it was very easy overall - no issues with slipping silk or anything.

I wore it a few times already!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Sewing #throughglass #1

It's a bit silly that the first videos I took through Glass were of a mistake... but I did a whole video of it nonetheless. The problem was that I sewed the pockets on the wrong side of the skirt.

Here's the full video below. I also published the individual videos that make this one up on my YouTube channel in a playlist, which you can access here.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Wearability Report: Silver Afternoon Blouse

I'm looking at clothes I made after I got a chance to wear them a few times, and report on how it went. I'm calling this the wearability report, where I'm listing the good & bad workmanship, the pattern merits & faults, the fitting strengths & failures, and following up with a general wearability score for the garment on a 1 to 10 scale, and general thoughts on it, a few months after it was made.

This summer I made two Afternoon blouses, with fixing some fitting issues between the two makes. The second version, in silver linen, I blogged about here.

Let me start by saying - I love this version of the blouse, and it has been one of my most successful makes this summer. The first version I'm not super happy about, with the dreaded front-sway/bib issues, but I managed to fix that problem. It's also lucky that this one has enough ease and my strength training this summer hasn't really been a problem in terms of fit. It is one of the first things I reach out for in my closet.

I have mostly good things to say about this make:

1. (pattern, fitting) It fits - this is all sorts of amazing - no swayback issue, no swayfront issue, enough room to move in; you'll note I made the corner-y version of the pattern, not the one that looks like a potato
2. (pattern) The pattern works well for my lifestyle - I get to wear a woven with jeans but not look too out of place at work. Bonus points that this version works well with my recent V1247.
3. (workmanship) I really took my time with this one, and it shows. Virtually every seam is topstitched, and the topstitching looks good.
4. (workmanship)  I could have done better with the facings: I didn't catch stitch the facing down to the fabric, and I should have - the floppy facing bothers me when I iron it after washing. Not a big thing, but really helps in terms of finishing.
5. (workmanship) I overcast the facing edges, which I ended up not liking - the fabric doesn't ravel as it is, and it has fusible interfacing too.
6. (fabric, cutting layout) I made this from a fabric remnant, which is why I had to use another fabric for the facing, and also cut part of the front slightly off grain (maybe 15 degrees?). This is not visible or noticeable, but I know that with wear the off grain side shifts a bit. I didn't have a choice and I knew it would happen: I'm lucky that it's not visible, but want to point it out as something where I got lucky.
7. (fabric) This fabric is of very good quality, and withstands washing amazingly well. It's also well suited for this pattern. I wish I could say fabric type&characteristics were a conscious choice when matching with the pattern, but they weren't - I got lucky.

Lessons learned: - it's worth spending some time at the end to make sure the inside is as nice as the outside
- not all raw edges need special treatment
- the right fabric makes a garment

Quality score: 8 (3 good - 2 neutral - 1 unavoidable - 1 lucky)
Conclusion: This pattern works very well for me, and I did a better job than average on workmanship this time around. Most of the quality minuses come from how I did things - I took enough time with the process that everything that bothers me right now can be fixed. 

Friday, 31 October 2014

Winter wear: V1247, maybe better this time?

I made another Vogue 1247 skirt. Hopefully this one will wear better than the last one.

Obligatory Auto Awesome
You see, I saw this on someone (I'm sorry, I have no idea who you were! but it was short and black and white checks or something!) at one of the London meetups I joined when I was still living there. I thought it was lovely, although as far as I remember the wearer was wearing it quite short.

This time, I lengthened the pattern quite a lot, and also added the waistband that came with the pattern sheet:

Now I have an office appropriate (for me!) winter skirt. I have been told after my last post that I am crazy and the length for the black skirt was perfectly appropriate :) heh

I used some checked wool I bought in Romania a couple of years back - it was going to be a dress, so I still have about a meter of this fabric left I think. I was thinking a 60s style square top maybe. I'll think about it some more.

I initially wanted this to be an easy project, but then I realized I was sewing with wool, and it was checked, so this really deserves some proper techniques, so I went all couture on this one, so it took a whole weekend + a bunch of extra sewing evenings.

I mostly followed the instructions in Susan Khaljie's Craftsy class - because in this situation the material matched well with the class.

I started off with underlining in silk organza, then cutting the pattern just right. I traced the stitching lines. I hand basted. I catch stitched allowances. I trimmed bulk and used a clapper dilligently.

This skirt has in total 4 visible seams (2xside, 1back, and a horizontal line where the pockets are). I am massively proud of how well I got the pattern to match. In fact, because I will wear it with even longer blouses than the one in these pictures, you usually won't even be able to see the non-matching bits.

I wasn't really able to fully match the waistband, but I did my best for it to match at the back and at the front. I used a lapped zipper (first time ever!) instead of the recommended invisible zipper because I thought the fabric was just too thick for a invisible zipper.

I also changed the waistband, for the same reason. In the original pattern, the waistband folds over itself, but I thought that wouldn't be great since the material was too heavy. Instead, I just cut the front, and a facing. 

I stitched the front to the skirt, then folded the 5/8" at the top. I then applied petersham ribbon. Sadly here I didn't have wide enough, so the waistband top is actually wavy in places because the ribbon only extends about 70% into the waistband width. I then hand stitched the facing using fell stitches:

I used silk habotai for the lining, the pattern for which came from the main skirt pieces. I mostly eyeballed where I had to cut (bad Laura!). 

I like the two-color effect. The white habotai is from London and not great quality. The brown one is the one I was raving about in my coat post - this is the rest from lining the coat sleeves, it just about fit. The lining is attached with fell stitches to the waistband and zipper:

I realized when I took the pictures how badly I matched the lining edges at the zipper. Sob.
For the hem, I used the same treatment that Susan Khaljie uses in the Craftsy class - skirt band turned up and secured to the underlining with catch stitches. Because the wool is heavy and I wanted a hefty hem allowance, I used two rows of catch stitches. 

For the lining, I left a bit  of room at the bottom and folded it as you would a coat lining - maybe about 1" turned up or so. Then, I used tiny fell stitches to attach it. This is good, because it gives me some extra ease in the lining for sitting down:

I'm very pleased (for now) with this result, and I wore it out once already. Hopefully it will last the winter!

I have a bunch of "Through Glass" videos from construction, I'll sift through them and post them online soon.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Wearability Report: Vogue 1247, A Not-So-Perfect Little Skirt

I'm looking at clothes I made after I got a chance to wear them a few times, and report on how it went. I'm calling this the wearability report, where I'm listing the good & bad workmanship, the pattern merits & faults, the fitting strengths & failures, and following up with a general wearability score for the garment on a 1 to 10 scale, and general thoughts on it, a few months after it was made.

Earlier this summer, I made this skirt, from Vogue 1247, blogged about here.

I loved the pattern, actually I still do and I currently have another version on my sewing table (this time for winter - it's in danger of turning up a bit squee as it stands, but we will see how it goes!).

A  few good things, and several issues:

1. (workmanship) All the seams align well, I'm mega proud of this.
2. (pattern) Pockets gape, especially when having a phone inside. To fix I just catch stitched them to the skirt front - which worked very well, and was an easy and unobtrusive fix. Should have been in the pattern instructions.
3. (pattern, fitting) It's really short, which makes it unusable for work. I wore it for a while at home, but the shortness makes it uncomfortable even there. I tried to wear it at my high hip for extra length but it's just too snug for that - the size I made is the right size if the skirt sits at the waist.
4. (workmanship) The back zipper - a normal zipper since I didn't have a black invisible one on hand - was quite shoddy and didn't look very straight. It basically ended up as an exposed zipper that had that frightful homemade look. Unfixable:

4. (workmanship) The crooked waistband, where I went off pattern and invented my thing. At least no one could see this one - I wrote about it in the original post.
5. (fabric quality, workmanship) I'm afraid I don't have a picture for this. The linen got really nasty after washing, with all topstitched seams bunching up. No amount of pressing helped. I think part of this was my underlining in silk organza and then throwing it in the wash.
6. (workmanship) The piping worked and looked nice, even though it limited the color options for the top.

Lessons learned: 
   1. spend more time sewing up the waistband correctly.
   2. underlining has a time and place; summer garments are not it

Quality score: 5  (2 good - 1 neutral - 3 bad, out of 6)
Conclusion: Pattern too short as designed, very very poor workmanship. Because of the fabric quality issues and my faults while sewing it up, I have relegated this to the wadder pile, and will be throwing it out soon.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Blog direction

Not a massive change, but I had some ideas about series to write and wanted to explain them before they magically appear on the blog.

First, the internet has been brewing with wadders lately. I really appreciate these posts, because let's admit it - who doesn't have wadders! But I feel that more interesting would be to know what happened to the good / almost there clothes later. Were they really good? Did you end up wearing them? Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic does this sometimes, most recently here. I think I want to do this too, and the format I'm thinking of is in two acts:

Act 1 - Wearability Report. I'd write this 4 to 6 months after the make, or at the end of the season (of example, most my makes this summer would get one of these) - did it work, did it not work? Did I end up using it? How did it fare among my other stuff?

Act 2 - Whatever happened to... Report.  I'd write this about 1-2 years later. Are they still in the rotation? Did I wear the thing to death?

I think it's important to do this in two acts, especially because I tend to wear the things I really like a lot, so they deserve two updates (instead of just one). We'll see how it works.

Then, I just got a Google Glass from a friend. I got this with the express purpose of doing a series titled Sewing Through Glass (see here for my very first one!). I'm not quire sure how this will go, but I would like to just video the stuff I make step by step. I'm getting ready to sew Vogue 1381 for example, and that will be interesting to see. It's also going to be cool to see just how often you do mess up while making something. Then, if I do take all these little videos along the way, I can add a "making of" video when I write up the make at the end.

Since I want to make many small videos, I'm not sure I'll end up posting them on the main blog feed - I might just add a new RSS feed for the videos and make a weekly round up or something. It will be interesting to see how that turns out.

Thirdly, what I was considering for a while, but haven't given it much thought in a few weeks, was to do weekly or bi-weekly What I'm wearing posts. This would be more interesting to me than to any of you, but someone told me on a recent work offsite that I wear things I make quite a lot and I really liked hearing that! Then I wondered if it was really true. Now, actually doing this requires me taking a picture each morning before I go to work, which doesn't always happen, but I am considering setting up my camera in a semi-permanent position and programming one of the remotes to do auto-picture taking. It will also be an interesting effort in finding out wether tshirt + jeans really is the tech uniform! Actually maybe I should just call the series Tech Uniform :D

I'm leaving you with a picture of my current project - a winter version of Vogue 1247:

What do you think about my plans? Good? Bad? Let me know!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Rain coat: construction

I have a bunch of pictures with details about my rain coat. This was my original construction plan. This is a very picture heavy post.

I'll start one by one. First, interfacing. The Robson coat pattern suggests less interfacing than I ended up using. I mostly used a very lightweight fusible interfacing (to match my very lightweight silk), but also silk organza.

I forget what the pattern asks for (I will edit this later), but I did the following:
* front facing - fusible
* front of jacket - lightweight organza
* everything floppy (lapels, epaulettes, back rain guard) - fusible
* collar / undercollar - fusible
* top of sleeve - fusible
* hems - a slightly stiffer lightweight organza

The pattern doesn't suggest interfacing the belt, and I didn't have enough interfacing left for it, but I think that would have been useful as well.

The top of sleeve and hem interfacing was an idea from Nordheim's Vintage Couture Tailoring. The top of sleeve is very simple - just cut a matching fusible piece and fuse.

The hems are using bias silk organza:

The process here is that you have wide strips of organza and you overlay them from seam to seam:

Then, you pad stitch them to the seam allowance:

Then they are turned up along the seam line.

I also sewed a lightweight chain inside the bottom hem, along the hemline. It helps with making it a bit of a round shape when I wear it closed.

I didn't bias-bind all seams, but I instead I used the hot pink for the pockets and lower hem. I then used a chocolate for the facing.

This way, there's less of a pink peek when you see the insides. The seams are flat felled and topstitched in pink:

Construction went together well, and I am pretty happy with it. It does need a good press often though.