Thursday, 29 March 2012

Not Better , Just DIfferent .

I have been stewing quite a bit in the last few weeks over a comment I read in response to a blogpost on anothers sewing blog. The comment quite dismayed me and I felt discouraged and disparaged ( enough dis`s for now ) .I should point out the comment was not  directed at me personally at all  it was just a generalized comment. I don`t want to say at all what the comment was or the blogspot etc just that the comment was well, not nice. I wish I could say that I totally misinterpreted the comment but there was no mistaking the disdainful/superior  tone .

So everyone is different. We all have different style aesthetics, different budgets, different blogging ethos , different opportunites to sew, different clothing needs, different opinions on the importance of fashion,   etc etc. That doesn`t mean one is better , just different.

That`s all I wanted to say now. I think I feel better for getting that off my chest.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Cheesecake and Slippery Fabrics. - a sewing experiment.

How are cheesecakes and slippery fabric related ? I suppose you might want to eat some cheesecake after the nightmare of cutting and sewing that contortionist fabric . The real answer though is gelantine. My next project is for a semi-formal dress for my middle DD using the fabric above.
It is a very sheer and quite slippery georgette - off white with very large black feather motifs. It is the last of my ebay purchases from September 2010 - positively an infantile piece of fabric in my stash!
It was not quite what I was expecting - I don`t remember the site saying it was sheer and the size of the feathers was not mentioned but I was happy with this fabric as I have nothing else like it in my stash. Last year ( but it only feels like a couple of months ago ) I read in Belinda`s Sew-4-Fun a link for a tip to control slippery fabric. This tip was discussed in Patternreview`s forum and also is found in Lena Merrin`s blog who is the originator of this idea  ( and she said she was happy for this tip to be shared ) .

The tip is to make up a gelantine mixture and soak your fabric in this. THe end result is fabric that is easier to cut and sew. Use three teaspoons of gelantine and put this in a glass of cold water and leave for 30minutes. Then bring this mixture to the boil and then take off the stove ( do not boil the mixture ) . Add this gelantine mixture to three litres of cool water and then add your fabric. Leave for one hour and then drip dry your fabric. Iron and then you are ready to go.
It takes a bit of faith to put your precious fabric in gelantinous water so using a small scrap of chiffon I experimented. I used the above technique and soaked some fabric but cut off some chiffon and left this untreated. The resulting fabric still felt soft but pliable . It only smelt very faintly of gelantine - not at all unpleasant or overpowering.  I cut out three bias cut strips of chiffon  . The top strip is the gelantine treated chiffon and cut out with paper underneath ( another tip for cutting out slippery fabrics ). The middle strip is gelantine treated but cut out with no underlying paper and the last chiffon strip is untreated and cut out using paper. The top strip is definitely the best and the others are a bit wonky ( but the untreated fabric was definitely the hardest to deal with ).
I then practised some gathering, straight stitching and zigzags on the treated fabric and it sewed up nicely. Lastly I washed the gelantinous chiffon and it came up to its previously soft and silky condition. I can now march forth into my sewing room and tackle this fabric without trepidation ( until I get to the next step of ? underlining or ? lining it - lol ).
 Many thanks to the talented seamstresses who share their expert knowledge .

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Kwik Sew 3343 - Dreaming of Roses Nightgown.

Not much really to say about a nightgown .
This is a birthday present for my mother-in-law as I know she needs these, so every few years I sew a new one. Hanger shots only - I have a sneaking suspicion that it would be hard to get my MIL to model this for the blog 8-).
My favourite pattern for nightgowns is Kwik Sew 3343.

I am on a roll sewing Kwik Sew Patterns .I have made this pattern several times. This pattern is quick and easy. It has a front and back lined yoke with a slightly gathered body . The lower armholes are finished with self made bias binding.   I used a predominately pink floral cotton on a beige background. The pattern says this nightgown takes 2.65m or 2 7/8 yards of 115cm wide ( 45") . I managed to sew this using only 1.9m or 2 1/8 yards by judicious pattern placement, eliminating the ruffle and using a small remnant to line the back and front yokes and make the lower armhole bias binding.
I added some really lovely vintage lace ( found at an op shop - 11metres for $8.00 ) to the front yoke - to make it easier to work out which is the front when one is bleary eyed and tired. Overall I highly recommend this pattern if you want to sew a night gown - it is quick. and simple. The instructions and drafting are excellent as per usual. The ways the yokes are made and finished is fantastic.
I`m happy for a quick and easy sew because my next project is more involved and I want to do the best job I can. I am sewing a semi-formal dress for my middle DD - she has an event in July so I have left plenty of time to make this. It is to be made of sheer, slippery off white textured chiffon with a large black repeating feather motif on it ( to be lined of course ) . I would take a photo but I have just pretreated the fabric and it is hanging in my shower drying.
Happy Sewing , Janine.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Kwik Sew 3422 - Ebony and Ivory Silver Anniversary Shirt.

A spruced up post title for a black and white striped shirt !
Good in some ways and bad in others , my wardrobe has reached saturation point. I have a handful of summer clothes I have not even worn and it seems that our summer weather is now truly over with all the rain and sadly flooding that is going on . That means I have turned my sewing attention to others and I completed a shirt for my husband.
The last time I sewed anything for my husband ( apart from repairs and hems ) was 25 years ago - hence the silver anniversary shirt. I was  about 19 at the time so had only been sewing occasionally ( during long school/ uni holidays ) for a a few years . He was only my boyfriend at the time but I sewed him a similar button front , collared striped cotton  shirt .However he told me it wasn`t very professional so he never really wore it.
Just to prove that I don`t hold onto grudges :) I decided to have another go at sewing for my now husband ! Now either my sewing skills have improved somewhat or my husband`s diplomacy skills have been refined but this time he said it looked professional and that he liked it and he wore it to work the very next day . ( I suspect that both the sewing and diplomacy skills have improved by the way ) .

I used Kwik Sew 3422 - a pattern for both long and short sleeved shirts with the option of either a one piece or two piece collar. It was printed in 2006 but is still in the current catalogue.
I really like how the front band is cut on - you turn the front band inside and then fold this under creating a self interfaced band with three layers of fabric - so easy -no separate interfacing involved here ( but you do interface the collar and collar stand ) . Also this pattern has a really neat yoke - I took pictures of the process and hopefully will be able to explain more next week  . The seam allowance is only 6mm which is really helpful in applying the collar nicely but I was not able to do flat felled seams with this small allowance so I used a mock flat felled seams instead when you just top stitch the seams on the outside. I was very careful to match up stripes with the pocket placement and where the yoke meets the sleeves. ( Ironically the yokes and sleeves stripes are slightly out despite trying very hard and using my unpicker three time but where I sewed the under and top collar the stripes match perfectly even though I didn`t try and no-one sees this bit .)
I used some shirting cotton that I bought while on holidays in Cairns 18 months ago ( see I had honorable intentions way before the quarter of a century was up ) that was really good  quality - it sewed easily and ironed up nice and crisp which really helps to improve the whole sewing experience.
I was quite chuffed that my husband really liked his shirt so I won`t wait another 25 years to make another one .The other good thing about man sewing is that I will only need the one shirt pattern to satisfy his shirt needs.  I really have to thank Karen of Kbenco because she inspired me to sew this - she makes divine shirts for her husband with really special extra touches .
Also  big shoutout to the Rosedale ASG ( Australian Sewing Guild) . Bruna thankyou so much for inviting me - I had alot of fun being around others who also love sewing and amazingly sewing was done amongst the chatter ! You are all an amazing talented bunch of sewists ( Bruna , Anne, Sue, Lorna and Barbara ) and I look forward to improving my skills and knowledge as well as your camaraderie.
My next project is a nightie for my mother-in-law so until then Cheers .

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Kwik Sew 3670 - To Be or Not To Be.

That is the question and I just do not know the answer.
I am unsure if it is the pattern or the fabric or just both  that is not quite jelling with me. Here is the pattern below. 
Pattern front KS 3670 .
Pattern back showing up details.
KS 3670 is a tunic /top where the front and back yokes extend into slightly gathered sleeves with a narrow band. The front of the tunic extends up in a small rectangle which is gathered and sewn to the bottom inside edge of the front yoke forming a pleat. Because of that front pleat this patterns needs a very drapy fabric or else. I have too much grey hair now to be asked if I am expecting but I want to avoid the Irritable Bowel/ bloated look. The back neck is finished with self fabric bias binding. It looked quite an interesting pattern and I had nothing else like it in my wardrobe.

A close up of the front yoke , pleat and back bias binding.
   The fabric is a georgette - rectangles of yellow, black, fawn , olive green and white. I bought it from an Australian Ebay fabric store and I had thought the olive green was going to be grey although it is really hard to tell really. I was a bit disappointed when it arrived because of the colour discrepancies between computer moniters and real life. However it was one of those I don`t  have anything to lose  fabrics so it was perfect for trialling my new pattern. The fabric was moderately slippery but by using lots of pins and cutting carefully with sharp scissors it wasn`t too bad.
  The front yoke pattern piece is very interesting and confusing but of course by following the excellent instructions it all works out at the end. I doubled my fabric for the front and back yokes since my fabric is so sheer but this did nothing to aid in modesty as the yoke finishes above the bust line .However it did mean that I had no remnants left to feed that scrap bag ( which has a life of its own I am sure )  :) . 8 cms are allowed for this hem so I turned up the hem 4 cms and then another 4 cms and stitched. Overall the pattern is well drafted and the instructions are excellent as per usual with Kwik Sew.
 The tunic is relatively long and could even be worn as a short dress . I have only one suitable bottom piece of clothing to wear with this which is part of reason why I am unsure about this top although I have possible plans to make some slim fitting olive green linen pants . The photos look OK though so I think I will put this in that magic wardrobe made famous  by Mary Nanna and stew on it for a bit.
Any opinions good or bad  ( I won`t sulk - I think ) or styling suggestions would be welcomed.
Until next time , Cheers Janine.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Kwik Sew 3573 - My Sewing Bucket List.

I have been procrasting sewing my Liberty fabric as I am not entirely sure I want to make a dress. So instead I pulled out this pattern above  I bought last month and cut into some fabric I purchased  when we visited China in 2008. I was told it was silk at the time but having just bought some `genuine` Gucci handbags for my daughters for a few dollars I was quite cynical about this. However I loved the print and didn`t really care  . I bought some black  `satin` from Darn Cheap Fabrics in Melbourne recently to complete this top and as I was cutting into the fake satin I realised there was quite a difference between this and the satin from China. Shame on me! - it was real silk satin and I had just unknowingly ticked off one of my bucket list wishes - to sew a real silk satin piece of clothing. It was just as well I didn`t realise it was silk as this would still be folded up in my cupboard!

As per usual the Kwik Sew pattern was drafted beautifully and the instructions were so easy you could be half asleep and still do a really good job. It is a kimono styled top with a contrast sleeve and waist bands. There is some gentle gathering of the front and back pieces into the waist band and the neckline is finished with their wonderful bias binding / instructions. I am really happy with the result and I would highly recommend this pattern .  It just goes to show I shouldn`t be scared  to use my too precious fabric in case something goes wrong. Perhaps now I should look at that Liberty lawn and treat it  just as some cheap quilting cotton from Spotlight.

Back view showing the kimono type sleeves. I love how the wideness of the shoulders makes my waist and hips look small - it is not like that in real life .
There is something that amuses me about the last two patterns I have sewn. Usually burda necklines go down to your navel and Kwik Sew is quite demure. However the last Burda dress neckline was  conservative and this Kwik Sew Top does show alot ! Perhaps there were some pattern maker spooks who infiltrated Burda/ Kwik Sew camp . Anyway here`s to sewing our good stuff. Cheers Janine.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Burda 7808 - Summer Dress Nirvana

An outside front view .

I have finished Burda 7808 and I am  pleased with the results . It did meet my expectations of a `perfect` summer dress - good coverage, touching my body in minimal areas but doesn`t look like a sack ( in my opinion anyway ) . The mystery fabric I used is soft and drapey , a very  pretty  green colour  and feels very smooth. It does wrinkle fairly easily but irons beautifully . I would highly recommend this pattern for others to try for a cool summer dress. The pattern comes together easily especially as I was able to eliminate the side zipper ( anything to make life simpler!) The dress is easy to get into and out without calling for the fire brigade  . The front and back inserts were a little tricky to get really nice corners so this pattern would not be suitable for an absolute beginner. However the insert is what makes this dress - they are shaped so the dress is not too baggy on the top . I think the yoke would be nice in lace or a contrast fabric or even velvet for a winter version. The other odd thing about these inserts are the neck line does not reach your belly button ( the usual burda designers must have been on strike or sedated or something ! )I have added lace and buttons for this version. At the bottom of the front yoke there is some slight gathering so the bottom of the dress is loose and floaty providing a bit of circulation for air .
Anyway not too bad for a free dress! 
Cheers until next time. Janine

Back Insert  showing princess seamed shaping.

Front Insert  with lace and buttons.

An inside back view !