Monday, 14 April 2014

Hallelujah ! New Look 6356 Parisian Ombre Lace Top .

Finally ! I finished something .
This `simple ` top only took 6 months - that is three different patterns, four toiles , goodness knows how many trial sleeves and lots ( and lots ) of adjustments to get the final finished product.
I feel almost embarrassed to say all of the above.
The problem ( well two problems) was that the top was for my daughter and we bought the lace in Paris so I have never felt so nervous before in sewing anything - ever .

My daughter is quite petite - the top she wanted me to base this lace on was only size 4 ! None of my patterns get close so I looked at every pattern company and could not find anything suitable. I traced off an old Burda magazine pattern from 2004 and even a Top Kids pattern but for some reason they did not suit .
I settled on New Look 6356- a very basic top pattern  and started the long , seemingly never ending fitting process.
In the end I had to take out several cms from the back, fix a gaping neckline, raise the bust darts several cms and work out how to stop the `sleeves that bind` .
Do you know how hard it is to coordinate getting a teenager to try on toiles with a mother who can be bothered to then analyze the fitting problems ? In the meantime while you are doing this my youngest DD has the affrontery to keep on growing so your toiles are then getting too small .

However in the end I did it. I don`t think this top is perfect but we are both pretty happy ( and relieved ) with it.

Cutting and sewing the  actual lace was easier than I thought after all the toiles.
I sewed the sides and shoulders with french seams  but just sewed the back seam and sleeves the` usual` way.  I pondered how to finish the back/armscye  seams and in the end thought it was just all getting crazy so just overlocked the edges.We had decided to not line the lace because she has a few matching camisoles.
The final act of madness was to make my own bias binding out of some satin charmeuse which I finished both the neckline and sleeve hems with  .

And now guess what. I have to do it all over again for my middle daughter with fabric we bought in Tokyo !
( I know I know - I can`t complain )
Cheers Janine.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Liebster Award !

Thankyou so much Paola for your Liebster Award. I am always seriously surprised when this happens because my blog is so small and haphazard and I seriously do not sew cool or trendy stuff .
So as part of this I answer 5 questions posted by Paola and then 5 random facts.

1. What is your greatest achievement ? Being a mother to three daughters the first question is easy - they are!
2. What motivates you ?  Currently my main motivation is to help my children get through their schooling and hopefully develop into happy and confident adults. We are also trying to live our lives in a way that has the least impact on our current environmental concerns.
3. What is number one on your bucket list ? Hmm to be honest it is just to get through the current year ! I currently have three jobs, my middle daughter is doing her final year of secondary school and my husband intends to run for parliament again !
4.You find $100 on the pavement .What do you spend it on ?  OK assuming that I don`t take it to the police station I think I would take my family out to dinner . Or possibly there might be a cheap one way fare to New Zealand and then because there was no money left I would have to stay there - now that`s an idea . If I took my family to McDonalds for dinner I might be able to do both !
5. Summer or Winter ? Which do you prefer ? That`s another  easy one - Winter ! I am such a downer but to me summer means bush fires, snakes, intolerable hot weather and too many flies . Winter never gets too cold where I live , you can snuggle up in front of the fire and once it snowed where I live and it was such a pretty site -but it only lasted a few hours.

OK 5 Random facts
 1. I am a general practitioner so I can never ever talk about work on my blog. My husband is also a doctor.
Our eldest daughter is now studying medicine at the same university we went to which really makes me proud and weird to think she will be sitting in the same lecture theatres  that we did .
2. I live in a straw bale, rammed earth home - our last house was mudbrick. The house is so well insulated it is like living in the cone of silence - very quiet . We live on 2 acres and currently have 5 sheep, 12 chooks and one dog. This is a down grade from 57 acres, 12 sheep , and a horse( and chooks and dog ). Sadly we sold our horse last year.
3. I have only sewn one item for myself this year ( the T shirt project was completed last year ) but made curtains for my eldest DD and  a T shirt for my husband and  multiple toiles for my youngest DD . I am missing selfish sewing .
4. When we got our dog from the dog shelter I wanted a female dog with short hair. We came home with a male dog with long ( shedding ) hair. He was going to be an outside dog but now spends most of the time on the end of our bed !!
5. We just bought an all electric car which is really cool but we can only use it for local trips ( which is most of our driving anyway ) because it only has a 150km range before the battery runs out.

OK That was more more than 5 random facts but I should add in that I am hopeless at computers and passing on this award is beyond my skills. Also I love all the blogs I read so it is hard to choose .
Again many thanks Paola and I am so sorry it took so long to reply !

Cheers Janine.
PS I have just finished sewing a top for my daughter and I am very excited about this .

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

My Stash.

What is the saying - If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
My eldest daughter left home last week to start university after a gap year mostly spent overseas - in Japan and Peru.
I am very happy for her - It is a wonderful thing for a parent to see their children mature into adults . My daughter is happy and confident and has a very bright future ahead of her. I could say a lot more about her but she would not like it so I will respect her wishes here.
However it does leave a gap at home and I am missing her .
So I took over the central part of her wardrobe and for the first time ever I have all my fabrics together placed on shelves.

I have sorted my stash according to fabric types . It is far from being a SABLE but with my current snail paced sewing this will keep  me out of trouble for a few years.
On the top shelf  I have a few pieces of flannelette , sweater type knits and garment toiles.
The second shelf has bottom or jacket weight fabrics on the left and various types of knits ( including another sweater knit proving I am not as organised as I think I am ) on the right. In the middle are some polys ( with one rolled up piece of cashmere wool on top !)
The third shelf has various cottons on the left, silks in the middle ( with some Japanese cottons on top ) and again proving my organisational skills are lacking pale fabrics of all sorts on the right .
The second bottom shelf has bags of remnants divided into small pieces and large pieces. There is a plastic tub and another bag of patchwork /crafty type material.
The bottom shelf holds my old sewing machine and over locker and the embroidery attachments for my Pfaff.

The rest of the wardrobe still has some of her clothes and bits and bobs she does not need so I have not been entirely awful in taking over the wardrobe :)

Work and helping my daughter move has taken up more time than I expected. SO far this year I have only sewn two garments ( my T shirt project was actually all completed in 2013). I have also made toile after toile for my youngest daughter to sew up some gorgeous ombre lace bought in Paris last year . I am so nervous to cut into this but we almost have the toile right - I am waiting for her to try on the latest version . I tell you trying to fit her simple top has almost made me want to give up sewing - except then I look at the above photo ! I have also made some home dec projects for my eldest DD and have just started on curtains as well - ugh.  I have four more projects to blog about - I would like this blog to be fairly complete sewing diary for me but I have just spent ages trying to get that above photo upright ! I think I may have learnt how to rotate photos so they stay rotated in blogger - fingers crossed.
Anyway Cheers Janine.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

The T-Shirt Project -Part 3 . The Cross Your Heart KnipMode T .

KnipMode Feb 2012 - pattern  27.

This is by far the best of a bad bunch of photos . My photographer charges by the nanosecond so you have to be quick. But it is clear and does show off the style lines of the T shirt ( and my double chin ).
When I set out to replace my sad Tshirts  I wanted to try sew something different to what you can buy and to what I already have (  which are basically large and boxy and shapeless ) .
I also wanted to actually use some of my knipmode magazines rather than just look at them  so I found this pattern in the  February 2012 issue. It was actually a dress (jurk) pattern but certainly different to anything I have and a bit of a challenge as well .
In my stash I have some remainder of a mid blue soft , fine , drapey knit which is what this design needs . Anything too firm or beefy and the pleats and gathered cross over pieces would not work.

 This T shirt was a challenge though . I started this in late November and finished on about the last day of December last year . I procrastinated at different points and went and did some xmas pressie sewing ( aprons ) and then later the easiest thing in the world to sew , new short PJs , for my newly arrived back at home from 9 months OS eldest DD ) . I have previously used google translate with my first Knipmode make but it is sooo slooow and the translations do not always make sense anyway and this  make  seemed to have a lot of instructions. So I just sewed intuitively and it worked out . I have to say Knipmode has very clear fabric  layouts which was incredibly helpful and the patterns are much easier to  trace out than  Burda because they have fewer patterns per sheet and nice thick differently coloured lines  .

So I started  by making the pleats along the square neckline which are clearly  marked so you don`t need to read Dutch to work this out. Then I added the square facing as seen as above ( but I later overlocked over the wider horizontal part to even out the facing width. There was a rather um interesting discussion on Stitches and Seams about knit facings and also what stitches to use on knits . I have never used a facing on a knit top before but could not see what the alternative was with this unusual neckline. Anyway this all turned out well.

The next step was to gather the shaped cross over pieces , turn under the wide facings along the long edges ( after overlocking them )and attach them to the sides and armscyes . This was the point that confused me because I actually thought they might attach along the neck line but in the end I worked it out ( and actually got my xmas sewing done - so all`s well that ends well ). After this the sewing was easy. I attached the narrow binding strip to finish off the back neckline , sewed the back and front together , attached the sleeves and then sewed the sleeve and side seams in one go. However the neckline facing kept on flipping out as it is in their job description to do so I tempted fate and stitched them down using a lightning stitch. I used a slight zigzag for the  rest of the seams and overlocked  the edges because I find with time that straight stitches tend to break.

Despite my expression on the photo I am happy with the finished top . What can I say but this top is great for us ladies who get high marks in the bust department ( if you know what I mean ) and the gentle pleats in the front make it quite comfy.  Once I adjust the cross over pieces after putting on the T they generally stay put( they are only attached at the sides , not on the neckline) . They do not feel binding like the photo suggests. The sleeves are firm fitting but not uncomfortable because the knit is soft and stretchy. I did elevate the neckline by an inch but apart from shortening the pattern from a dress to a top I did not alter the pattern.

And thus concludes my T shirt Project for now. Ciao !

Sunday, 5 January 2014

The T-Shirt Project - Part 2. The Cross Your Eyes T . New

New Look 6405.

 The second of the Ts as a result of the T Shirt Marathon Project .
New Look 6405 combined with what I call the hypnotist* fabric or the I am going cross eyed fabric.
I have wanted to sew this pattern for a while - obviously quite a  long while because this pattern is 10 years old ( and here I thought I was sewing up a modern pattern and being trendy for a change )
Whatever - I really like the result .

I used some poly knit from the opshop , a scrap of red ribbed knit and to tart it up a bit and use up some of my BABLE ( Button Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy )5 black buttons at the left neckline .
According to other reviews of this T shirt it is very close fitting and short so I went up one size and added 6 cm to the length after comparing the pattern pieces to my other Ts. Thankyou so much to people who do reviews of patterns otherwise I would have ended up with another fail .
I reckon the fit and length are just right . I like the little cap sleeves and high cross over style. It is a very easy project to sew as well.

Verdict- SUCCESS - complete. ( And I will definitely sew this pattern again ) .
(* I have an evil plan to wear this top   frequently thus hypnotizing my family into doing whatever , probably I will only end up tormenting them though. )

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The T-Shirt Project - Part One . Burda Feb 2013.

One thing I really do need are T shirts - I have a sparse collection and all have stains or holes except one ( which is only about 15 years old ! )  so the situation was getting a little desperate hence the T shirt project  was born. And since I have fabric and patterns stashed I got the sewing machines buzzing .
I started with a popular pattern from Burda magazine  February 2013 - the gathered raglan sleeve top.
Fact- this is the only pattern I sewed in 2013 from a pattern dated 2013 !
Fact - I only bought one ready to wear top in 2013 - and it was exactly the same pattern as this , in blue !

This is a very easy pattern but I managed to muck it up by sewing the back of the sleeve to the front bodice piece . Simple  enough to unpick though.
I sewed a size 38 but it was too small through the abdomen area. I have sewed just shy of a dozen projects from Burda over the years and size 38 has always served me well so I think this pattern may run small. However it may also have been my fabric choice - a good quality cotton lycra knit but quite hefty so perhaps a lighter weight fabric would have worked better?? It did fit well around the arms and bust though  . I found the neckline gaped a bit even though I shortened the neck band as advised by others who have made this up. Finally I do not think the horizontal stripes are doing me any favours  .I did manage to match the stripes but in the completely opposite way !

Verdict - FAIL- sort of.  (  given to my eldest daughter who likes it , fits her better  and has worn it )

PS - The T-Shirt project also refers to a book called The Rosie Project - highly recommended if you want to read a laugh out loud book to cheer you up - it is also set in Melbourne- a little nostalgic bonus for me .

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Simplicity 9915- A Trip Down Memory lane.

Standing in front of our new rammed earth wall in our straw bale/ rammed earth home !

My favourite project of the year has been this little white top.
I was given this white/ off white seersucker . I had 1.5 metres ( 1.6 yards )  but is was only 90 cm ( 35 inches ) wide . I initially wanted to make a top along the lines of Louise Cutting`s Ebb design. In my dreams ! I was really short of fabric . Then I tried Simplicity 5683 because I have made it twice before and it doesn`t take much fabric. Again I was way off the mark. I was getting a bit desperate now because I had also set my heart on using  these 4 vintage buttons which in my mind matched my vintage fabric perfectly  .
So it was quite fitting that I found this vintage pattern which matched my fabric allowance .

 Simplicity 9915 - It is dated 1981 and dusting off my memories this is the third pattern I ever sewed . And it is also the most made pattern I own ( apart from PJs ) . I love this pattern but it has been well and truly over a decade since I visited it. I think I have made it at least 8 times using all views in fabrics from pink butterflies, black and white gingham , coloured dotted swiss cotton , terracotta silk and taupe dots.
Once I made the little bow tie version in fabric that Princess Diana had a shirt from ( hers was black and white and mine was red but it was the exact same pattern ! )

photo courtesy  from Diana`s jewels website  - photo taken in 1983.

This is also my best sewn version of this particular view. According to the pattern description it has a funnel neck line and shoulder tucks and getting those right was tricky- the shoulder tucks are adjacent to the neck line . Apart from that the top is simple . The big difference this time ( apart from 20-30 years literally ! ) was thread tracing the shoulder tuck marks . This then allowed absolute sewing accuracy and everything came together really nicely . Because there has been a fair bit of chocolate , cakes and three children since my teenage years I also  did not add the waist darts ! The top has simple dropped shoulders and has just the right amount of ease.

A close up of the neckline, shoulder tucks  , fantastic textured seersucker and my vintage buttons. 
 This top will go with just about everything and since my favourite handsewn  white tunic has bitten the dust this is a much needed replacement . I have worn it several times already and my friend`s daughter commented that it was just like a burda style pattern she had recently downloaded .
Have a good day , Janine.