Friday, 2 December 2011

The ultimate Sewing Experience (for me ) .

The Ultimate Sewing Experience - sewing a wedding dress for myself or one of my DDs?  sewing a bias cut silk chiffon evening dress ? sewing a couture technique fitted jacket?  Nah !  For me the ultimate sewing experience are PJ shorts.
Cheap and Cheerful Polyester Satin remant.

Sewing PJ Shorts are quick. easy and brainless sewing - like sewing meditation or yoga - it is totally relaxing.

Japanese cotton -only 40cm wide fabric but the roll had over 12 metres on it ! ? traditional Kimono fabric. Brought home from Japan by my daughter - a gift from her host family.

You can use up small remnants of fabric not big enough to sew anything else with but too big to discard. I also get to use little bits of ribbons , even almost empty bobbins and spools of threads that have been  hanging around forever.  

Polycotton remnant - white with small navy stars. Very soft !

                     Best of all they get used heaps of times. ( Also alleviates sewing guilt for not sewing for significant others and can be used for future  bribes - I sewed you some PJ shorts so you should take the dog for walks  for the next month etc etc . ) ( Not that the bribes work but worth a try .)

Liberty of London Tana Lawn - I got this from my mother - she bought this in the 80s for only $5.00/metre when Buckley`s and Nunn a department store in Melbourne was closing down.

I used New Look 6928 an OOP pattern for sleepwear. A pretty standard one seam pants pattern. I took off several cms from both the waist and the leg length - my daughter`s preferences. This pattern has both an elastic waist and a narrow tie inserted in the waist - helps to tell the front from the back and looks a little bit more upmarket !
Overall I find sewing PJ shorts VERY satisfying.
 Anyway all of this sewing `meditation` has helped me decide on the pattern for my next project. Until then Cheers Janine.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Vogue 2033 - The Geoffrey Beene Designer Band-aid Top.

I reckon it is pretty important to have a good sense of humour - it helps to  get  you through the tricky bits in life and there are lots of those and to not take yourself too seriously. I think I have a healthy sense of humour hence why I am posting this top I made.

I was given quite a few patterns back in the early 90s and through successive culls only a couple remain including this Vogue 2033 - a Geoffrey Beene designer pattern for three quite different and classical styled tops / shirts including the dropped shoulder loose fitting version . Lately I have seen tops around like this and delved into my pattern stash and thought it was time to give it a try - I mean
I have only had it for about 17 years.
 The fabric is a soft gold paisley jacquard with small white polka dots . It looks and feels like silk but it is not - I will not lie. I very pleased with this fabric and imagined wearing this top out to romantic dinners  and other such soirees .  I altered the pattern to add in bias cut bands for the sleeves  and added store bought white satin bias binding for the neck. I used french seams twice ( I took a too big a bite the first time and the top was too small for my liking ) and added a self fabric belt  .
Once finished,  with great excitement I tried on the finished garment and looked in the mirror and then A GREAT BIG OHH moment . - I`d just sewn a really large bandaid. The soft gold colour suddenly looked like a  flesh / beige tone and even the little white polka dots resembled  those tiny perforations you see on bandaids.
So learn from my mistakes - Do Not sew flesh coloured fabrics unless you are in need of bandaids.
PS - I quite like the pattern - I will use it again - perhaps in bright green or blue or pink  or anything but beige. Cheers Janine

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The 80 Year Old Burda Skirt .

Headless shot today - just out of the shower and early in the morning - you know what I mean.

Finally complete - this skirt seems to have taken so long . I started this in mid-October and finally finished two days ago. I wore it all day yesterday at work and can say it was a success.
Why am I calling this the 80 year old skirt?
Well,the  fabric is at least 40 years old, the buttons are 30 years old , the pattern is 6 years old and the lining I `ve had for a few years as well. Only the zip and thread were new.
I was given this linen ( along with various other dress and craft and home dec fabrics )  from my (ex) neighbour Steph when she moved. Steph tells me this came from  mother`s stash and she can remember it from when she was quite young ( Steph is in her mid 60`s) so I feel really honoured to be given this . This heavy weight linen is really lovely and was very easy to work with. I can see how people become very fastidious about fabric after working with this stuff.
Burda skirt 107 from April 2005.

I used an old Burda WOF pattern -Issue April 2005 which includes the infamous twist top ( yes I have made it !) . I needed a simple skirt as the fabric is heavy weight but did not want the skirt to be completely plain . Burda is great for providing patterns which are bit different to the Big 4.
 This is a straight skirt with forward placed side seams and includes a belt which is sewn into the back darts. I eliminated the fly front and inserted a lapped zipper in the back seam. I also did not add in the pockets and walking vent but top stitched the front seams .Despite eliminating the walking vent I did not have any restrictions in walking , bending over etc at work.
 This time I remembered to add a lining to ( hopefully) reduce the linen wrinkling but forgot to insert the lining inside out ! Oh well what`s a sewing project without some kind of mistake hey . Anyway I love my new skirt - it is very summery and fruity and I can`t ever remember having a pink skirt before ( unless I was six years old or thereabouts ). I would recommend this pattern to anyone ( oh and the chance to sew with linen too ).
Close up hanger shot of skirt front.
back view showing belt insertion.

Next up are some quick and easy PJ shorts for my two older daughters while I ponder on a pattern to use with another special fabric - Liberty of London cotton given to me by another friend !
Have a nice day. Cheers Janine.

Monday, 14 November 2011

DIY Top Stitching Thread and a Sneak Peak.

Sewing time has been severely  restricted in my little sewing world leading to symptoms of withdrawal - buying fabric when one already has more than enough , thinking and dreaming sewing and sometimes getting a little crabby . I have however been sewing a skirt in small increments over the last couple of weeks and today being a `real` day off I have made quite a bit more progress.
Now about top stitching thread - I am aware that this stuff exists but either the shops I frequent do not sell it or I am doing a `man` look ( a thinly veiled reference to my husband who can not find things even if they are right under his nose ) . A few years ago a sewed a Kwik Sew jeans jacket and it had this great little easy tip for top stitching . You simply thread your machine with two spools of thread.
This provides a subtle but definite difference to the top stitching. It also means that there are more choices with the colours you can use.I have obviously used a very closely coloured matched thread which is more forgiving of any wonky stitches.
 I have been really enjoying sewing my skirt because the fabric is such a pretty summery peachy pink colour and a divine heavy weight vintage linen with all its slight variations in texture and colour.It is also very easy to sew . I hope to finish this soon because our weather is warming up now and I am looking forward to enjoying my new skirt. Until then, Cheers Janine.

Monday, 31 October 2011

October 2011 - The Good and The Bad and a Retrospective - Simplicity 2724.

Unfortunately most of October involved work and little play - meaning not much sewing. I finished my Simplicity `Fabric from Hell` Dress and one other simple top which I will blog about later. I am not complaining though because the tragic and terrible health circumstances of my co-workers loved ones meant they could not work and I had to fill in whenever possible.

On a bright note though at the end of October my husband and I had a long weekend in Hobart , Tasmania. This was our first weekend away without children in 18 years ( and previously we have only had 2 other single nights away ) made even better because the trip was free - I was very lucky and won a competition.

The trip included 2 nights accomodation at the Islington Hotel - a small boutique hotel in Hobart and by far the most beautiful , luxurious place we have stayed at , meals and a boat  trip to Bruny Island. We also went to Mona , an amazing art gallery and took a self -guided trip around Battery Point and the city looking at the historical buildings . To make you feel better the weather on the day of the boat trip was appalling and I was very sea-sick although managed not to be sick. At one stage we were surrounded by a ` superpod` of 100 dolphins and I didn`t even care - the view of the horizon was absolutely enchanting !

Anyway the relevance to sewing is that I finally had a chance to wear a dress I sewed last December - Simplicity 2724.
The top part is made of some scrap cream fabric and skirt from a chartreuse silk/linen blend - the latter is absolutely luscious.

My only regret with this dress is that I did not line the skirt portion . I am not completely sure about the pleated  sleeves and  may  remove them later ( however looking at this photo, the sleeves look OK ) . I love this pattern because the various top / skirt variations that can create entirely different looking garments.The top takes very little material so is a good way to use up scraps that are too small for anything else and too good to discard. I would highly recommend this pattern and definitely want to sew it again .   Unfortunately it is OOP. I am now off to see what horse won the Melbourne Cup this year. Cheers until next time, Janine .

Friday, 14 October 2011

Simplicity 2369 - The Fabric from Hell into the Dress from Heaven.

Siimplicity pattern 2369 with fabric .
Simplicity 2369 showing sleeve, pleat and buckles details.

I finally completed this dress last week and I am VERY happy with the result. It almost ended up a wadder and in the rubbish because initially the fabric was from hell and trying to sew the seams and pleats etc ended up with LOTS of skipped stitches. However, persistence and internet help prevailed and the finished dress is  a SUCCESS.
Last school holidays I bought a British magazine called Sew which came with this `free` pattern.  . Simplicity 2369 is a wardrobe pattern for tops, pants and dresses -there are three sleeve options included . Obviously I sewed the dress, using View C sleeves and cut the dress length in the middle between Views A and B . Apart from fabric and thread, the only other notion was a belt buckle and I found a black buckle that was exactly the right size for only 50cents from the op shop ! A very lucky find.
The instructions were really good - so I think even a fairly new sewist could tackle this. I love the front pleated wrap along with the attached band which pulls the front inwards and provides coverage and prevents  gaping. I think the front wrap is also flattering and help to conceal less than flat tummies
Overall I would highly recommend this pattern .
Cheers until next time Janine.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Difficult to Sew Knit Fabric - and how I tamed the wild beast.

I am currently sewing Simplicity 2369 - a knit dress with a wrap front with tie and buckle details. I bought the fabric from Ebay using a store I have previously purchased from. I have been generally happy with these buys and hence why I have gone back for more. The fabric is a wild and loud royal blue, grey, black and white abstract knit and I really like the design .
However when I went to sew with this , it was the fabric from hell- stitch repellant material. I was trying to sew using a slight zig-zag stitch as I have done previously and has been recommended innumerable times. But the stitches would not take. I changed the ( new ) ballpoint needle to a ( new ) stretch needle and still no luck.I also used some tear away stabilizer but not all the stitches worked and when I tore away the stabilizer it really pulled at the stitches ( besides you really can not use this on all those seams ) . I ended up sewing the initial seams with 2-3 rows until enough stitches were staying. I then came to sew the pleats in the front wrap detail and it was just a mess and looked horrible. I had ( evil ) thoughts of chucking this project away but I was determined to succeed.
The internet really can be wonderful and I came across a simple tip from Threads and gave this a try. It worked and the previously stitch repellant fabric from hell became putty in my hands.

Set the sewing machine stitch length to 3 and stitch width to zero. As you sew the seams,  gently stretch the fabric and it worked - ALL the stitches took , no skipped stitches.

The above photo shows what the stitching looks like - zig-zaggy and springy. On the other side the stitches look more `normal`. When you stretch the fabric, the stitches  straighten up . Having stitches that can stretch and move with knit fabric is of course important to prevent broken stitches. So thankyou to  the sewist who wrote this article and thankyou to Threads for publishing this on the internet. You have saved this dress from the rubbish. Cheers Janine .

P.S - We saw the Australian movie Red Dog and we highly recommend it- lovely and quirky but gosh at the end I had to use all my willpower not to sob out loud. ( I am a sook though - I cried at Walt Disney`s A Little Mermaid when she married her handsome Prince Eric ! ) . I was surprised to see at the end credits it was based on a book written by Louis deBernieres  who also wrote Captain Corelli`s Mandolin and Birds Without Wings.