Thursday, 10 April 2014

Burda 9505: birthday shirt

So as I said last post, it was Toby's second birthday last Saturday. It sort of snuck up on me with all that's been going on lately, but I did manage to make his birthday shirt last Friday night. Luckily I've made this pattern before so it took less than 3 hours which isn't too bad for the fiddliness that little people clothing involves!

I used view B of Burda 9505, which was gifted to me by Steph and I used View A for Toby's first birthday shirt too (here). This will probably be the last time I use it too since it only goes up to 18 months in size and this shirt is rather a slim fit on him. It's actually quite a good pattern, drafting wise, because I have found that kids patterns are usually way too big but this one is spot on. Unfortunately it's now out of print, but if you have this in your stash I can highly recommend you use it if you have a little one in your life.

I chose to use an elephant print cotton poplin that I bought from Spotlight a while ago mainly because I figure he has the rest of his life to wear stripes or plaid or solid colours and when you're two you should wear a really fun print! Plus I wanted to use up the rest of this fabric in case there wasn't another occasion for it in the future and it stayed in the stash forever.

The pattern is pretty straightforward - it's just a normal shirt sewn on a smaller scale. I noticed that the instructions for view B aren't as detailed as the instructions for view A - there aren't any instructions to finish the sleeve or the tab other than doing a narrow hem to the edge. It wasn't difficult to figure out, but it just seemed odd to leave it out given that the other steps are spelled out. I also French seamed the sleeve edge because the seam edge would be visible when the sleeve is rolled up, which the pattern also didn't suggest but looks much better than having a serged edge showing.

I used snaps instead of buttons because they not only took less time than buttons but they also make it easier to get Toby into and out of this shirt because he can be very squirmy sometimes. I left off the back yoke and instead cut the back as one single piece so that I didn't have to match those elephants at the back - pure laziness but it's not really a noticeable feature in this fabric anyway:

And how good is my pattern matching at the front edge! The birthday boy seems pretty happy with his shirt and his birthday presents - he's a bit obsessed with Peppa Pig, dinosaurs and soccer balls at the moment so he was quite easy to satisfy. If only they stayed so innocent and little for longer!

And this is last year's shirt when he turned one - I can't believe how much he's changed!

Friday, 4 April 2014

February Burda of the month: 3/2014 #117 pleated skirt

At the very beginning of February I traced off three patterns thinking that I'd get not one but three February Burda projects done. Ha ha wishful thinking! Real life got in the way last month and here we are few days into April and I've only just finished one and it was such a simple skirt that I managed to cut it out and sew it last night and took photos of it today. In the end I made a skirt (3/2014 #117) from the "Pretty Grunge" collection of the March issue - having lived through grunge the first time around I was a bit hesitant but without Burda's crazy styling (socks and high heels, really?) it doesn't look too bad:


I did trace off a double breasted blazer with ginormous lapels in this issue too (3/2014 #101) which I thought looked interesting in a nice way and even made two muslins because it was a size 36 and I knew I needed to grade down a size. But when it came time to making it I discovered the fabric I wanted to use was too small a piece - it was left over from another project and I wanted this jacket to make a matching suit. So I've set it aside until I can decide on another piece of fabric (no shortage of that around here, I just need to wait until inspiration strikes). The other pattern I also traced is just a pair of tracksuit pants (3/2014 #112) which I haven't made yet because it's just so hot here still, and they possibly won't warrant a blog post anyway.

I used a piece of fabric from deep within the stash - literally it was at the very back of the shelf and I had to dig through to piles of other fabrics to get it out. I can't remember it's origin, probably an opshop I'd say. It's a crisp cotton in dark tan with a weird print. I was careful not to place one of those dark pink bits of the print at ahem, crotch level on the front:

but didn't give the same careful print placement consideration for the back view, so now it looks like I have a target on my butt:

And for the side seams I didn't even attempt pattern matching, or the waistband either out of pure laziness:

Ah well, I'm convinced that absolutely no one except for us sewists pay any attention to matching patterns at seams or print placement. Have a look at this lovely lady wearing a jumpsuit with questionable pattern placement that I pinned from just because it made me laugh out loud:

image source here
Obviously this pattern placement was very deliberate but I'm not convinced it's a look. So we should all be a bit easier on ourselves I think!

Overall I found this pattern to be pretty good. It has inseam pockets on both sides seams which are useful, the back is fitted with two darts so it's a sleek fit at the back but the slightly angled pleats on the front don't add an unsightly amount of volume either. I don't think the skirt is as narrow as the one worn by model in the photo suggests but any narrower and you wouldn't be able to walk because the skirt doesn't have a walking vent.  I also lopped about 5cm off the hem but looking at these photos it could probably be a bit shorter. You do need to remember to flare the hem allowance out because the skirt is quite pegged, which I forgot to do and so have made a super narrow hem instead - I've made many skirts like this in the past so I really should have known better.

And speaking of my past creations, can you believe it that Toby is 2 years old tomorrow? The time has just flown by. Tonight I need to put in some hours to make him a birthday shirt, I don't want him to feel neglected as the second child!

I caved in and went to the Fabric Cave sale today - so did a lot of people too judging by how busy the store was! The funniest thing was seeing the fabrics I donated a few weeks ago on the shelves, but I made sure I didn't buy any of them back. Unfortunately Toby fell asleep in my arms just as I arrived in the store so I was rather restricted in what I could get having to lug his 13kg around in one arm and dig through their packed shelves with the other. In the end I picked up these pieces for the bargain price of $15.80:

I do actually have plans for these pieces so I feel no shame in picking up yet more fabrics, especially as the proceeds are going to such a good cause and it's much less than my recent donation to them.

Monday, 31 March 2014

The last summer dress: Vogue 2738 in graphic navy and white

Happy news - my order arrived the day after the last post which was a speedy 7 days delivery, very impressive! The fabric colours are exactly what I wanted, and the fabric quality is not too bad either.

And even happier news is that my father in law has improved - he's gone from being unconscious on life support with only a few days to live after having a heart attack and a mini stroke on top of the pneumonia he was already in hospital for to now being awake, lucid and surprising everyone with his recovery. He can't walk at the moment, and eating and drinking is very difficult because he can't swallow properly, so we're in a bit of limbo now waiting to see if he improves enough to go home or into a lower level of care or whether he'll take a turn for the worse. Either way we all got to see him at the weekend and spend some quality time with him, and I think the children cheered up a little - hospitals are so incredibly boring when you've been there a while!

And I even managed to get some sewing done. Since we are slowly but surely slipping into the cooler weather (finally) I thought I'd squeeze in one last summer dress using the rest of the cotton fabric I bought from Tessuti and used for the Burda pants two posts ago.

I actually started this dress several weeks ago, at the same I cut out the Burda pants but it took a while to finish off the hem. Happily though it's completed, and here you are:

I decided to use Vogue 2783 again, a pattern which sat in my stash for many years uncut and unloved until last November when I made it in a cotton floral sateen to wear to a Pattern Review high tea organised by the lovely Maria and discovered that it's actually quite a nice pattern after a bit of fitting work of course. And since I had made quite a lot of fitting changes - taking it in substantially and shortening he dress it made sense to make it again.

I had planned to make this version slightly different to the previous one by adding cap sleeves, a piped waistband and changing the flared skirt to a pencil skirt so that this version would be more corporate than casual - there's just something about a sleeveless dress with a flared skirt that says 'sun dress' more than 'work dress' to me. But as you can see I only got as far as adding cap sleeves to it before my enthusiasm for drafting pattern changes wore out!

I figured that a belt around the waist would do instead of a piped waistband and also be more versatile in terms of being able to wear different colours. I've worn it here with red accessories but I actually think the yellow shoes from the previous post look better against this fabric.

Although the fabric is fairly densely woven I fully lined this version with a white cotton batiste to prevent any risk of sheerness, which also neatly finished the neckline and underarm area without having to fiddle about with bias binding.

I used some nylon piping along the front and back vertical seams but the fabric is so busy you can barely see it - the piping is more noticeable in real life though. I think the previous version I made with navy blue piping against the floral fabric was more striking but I still think it's an interesting touch:

I can see this working in the office worn with a white blazer (which I happen to have one about 75% made!) to make it look a bit more serious but it would also be a nice dress worn casually, so in the end my laziness paid off and making it like this is probably more versatile.

And now to get on to making some clothes from my recent delivery - I'm really looking forward to making some cozy autumn and winter clothes.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

When not more fabric!

I have hardly sewn a stitch in the last two weeks, which is highly unusual for me. Sadly my father in law is critically ill and my husband has been interstate visiting him, so it's just been me and the kids. Let me tell you it's exhausting looking after kids by yourself - single parents you definitely have my respect. And since my sewing room is above our garage which is separate to our house I can't go in there when the kids are finally in bed asleep. But I haven't been completely slack - I have cut out and pinned four projects and have unpicked several previous makes for a reworking (ie fixing up previous shockers!) so hopefully I can start being more productive soon.

But like any frustrated sewist who isn't sewing I've instead been buying more fabrics and adding to my already extremely long to do list. In order to shame myself in to using them soon and not just adding them to the stash I thought I'd confess here on my blog.

First up I bought several pieces from because I discovered the postage cost for four pieces wasn't much more than it was for one (around $25). I haven't purchased from them before so fingers crossed the quality is decent and it doesn't take too long to deliver.

I have been searching in all the fabric stores here in Sydney for a dark denim chambray to make a shirt, but have only been able to find really light blues. So I purchased this Robert Kaufman dark indigo chambray:
image via Pinterest
image via Pinterest
After seeing so many great pieces during Jungle January I decided to buy my first ever piece of animal print fabric, this leopard print cotton that I intend to make a pencil skirt:

image via Pinterest
I also bought some navy blue and white jumbo polka dot cotton fabric (well I hope it's more navy blue than the colour of the photo below) also to make a pencil skirt:

image via Pinterest
The final piece is this mint green and white mini polka dot cotton possibly to make something for the kids but more than likely a shirt for myself!

Image via Sportscraft

Then of course there's been a little bit of real life shopping. I broke my cardinal rule of never buying anything from Spotlight full price because I saw some gorgeous tan and black chevron stripe cotton Japanese duck fabric that only had a little bit left on the bolt. I didn't want to risk it selling out so I bought it then and there - and of course less than a week later they had a 30% off sale! It wasn't too expensive though, and I do love the fabric so no harm done I guess. I've already cut this out so hopefully I'll have something awesome made soon from it:

And the final act of fabric gluttony occurred a few weeks at a pre sewing bloggers lunch meet up at the Remnant Warehouse. I swear I wasn't going to buy anything (unless I found the mythical dark chambray) but after I spotted some bizarre but cute ponte knit with puffy giant polka dots and some dark charcoal 100% wool suiting both for only $9.95/m I decided to pick up a few metres of each.

I was going to end by saying I think that's enough fabric purchasing for now (ha! as if), but I've just received an email from one of the ASG ladies revealing that the Fabric Cave is having a sale on the 4th - 11th April. Their prices are insanely good value to begin with, so I cannot imagine the bargains that will be had at one of their sales. And since I dropped off a huge bag there recently I'm sure I can rehome some other pieces instead!

And a big hello to Gabrielle from Up Sew Late - we met up today in the city to take some photos of her lovely new silk top and had a great chat/rant about sewing, blogging and children who are too unfocused to learn how to sew from their mums. I love meeting up with bloggers and fellow sewists in real life, I feel like we're all part of a secret society!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Goldilocks pants: Burda 10/2013 #127

Everyone has their sewing nemesis - for some people it's installing zippers or doing buttonholes, for me it's sewing pants! It's not difficult to sew pants, it's just that I haven't had the energy to do all the muslins and fitting required to make a decent fitting pair to be honest. I have however signed up for a two days pants fitting and sewing course at the Australian Sewing Guild convention later this year which hopefully should set me on the right path.

In the meantime however I've had reasonable success with Burda 10/2013 #127 given that I've done next to no fitting changes to it. The pattern looks like this:

The first pair I made last October were from a cotton linen blend that stretch and bag out so much after wearing them for barely an hour so it was lucky I added belt loops otherwise the pants would end up around my ankles! The legs were also much wider than the model's photograph or the line drawing suggest. I still wear them though, in a casual slouchy kind of way.

The second pair I made last December were cut off at the knee to make shorts out of a stretch cotton drill I bought from Spotlight. I made these a little smaller to account for the stretch fabric but it turns out the drill doesn't stretch out or sag so these fit a little firmly and are a bit high waisted for my liking. Once again though I still wear them! They are good for getting around the playground and being high waisted there's no display of underwear when I kneel down.

But the third pair have turned out not too big and not too small but just right (hence the goldilocks reference in the title!).

blue and white graphic printed narrow pants

I think the fabric is a cotton twill (can't quite remember the exact fabric type or composition now) that I bought from Tessuti in January when I had a sewing day there. The print is actually a dark navy blue on cream.  Both Beverley and I had our eyes on this fabric the entire day and between the two of us we bought the last 5 or 6 metres of it.

For this pair I narrowed the legs to make them look more like the Burda model's version rather than what the pattern actually makes but not so narrow that they are too tight because this fabric doesn't have any stretch. I also lowered the front rise a little because I just can't stand things sitting anywhere near my waistline.

blue and white graphic print narrow leg pants

The very busy pattern hides the fitting faults which aren't significant, just a bit of excess fabric underneath the seat but if I walk around with my hands in my pockets you can't tell anyway!

blue and white graphic print narrow leg pants

I love this fabric so much that I've already cut out a dress from the remaining piece of this fabric and I think my case of the sewing blahs have gone away!

Friday, 7 March 2014

A serious case of the blahs: Vogue 7937 skirt in blah brown.....

I've sat down to write a blog post this week several times but I am feeling rather unexcited about my latest completed garment so it's been hard to actually write anything! So I'm hoping that by putting it here on my blog I can get some 'closure' (to use a silly cliché) and move onto a more exciting phase in my sewing.

Two weeks ago, when I was in the middle of sewing that annoying-but-turned-out-good cream linen jacket I had my sewing day at my local ASG for which I needed a simple project that I actually wanted to sew. So I decided to make a pencil skirt out of some stretch cotton I had in my stash in brown to go with the cream jacket, using Vogue 7937 mainly because I've sewn it several times before and I knew it fitted (most recently this blue floral version which turned out great) but also because it has six narrow pieces that I could squeeze out of the fabric which was left over from another project.
vogue very easy pencil skirt

The reason I chose to use the brown cotton is because it matched some brown and cream stripe grosgrain ribbon that I was going to sew on the cream jacket as trim. I ended up leaving the jacket plain but made a ribbon belt instead from the grosgrain ribbon, and here is the finished outfit:

brown pencil skirt and cream jacket
brown pencil skirt and cream linen jacket

There's not much to be said about the skirt - it has three panels across the front and back, with two walking vents at the back. The overall outfit looks ok in these photos, but nothing great (probably better if I stood up straight and took a photo at the beginning of the day rather than the end!). The fabric is a bit stiffer and heavier than the fabric I used for previous versions, so the fit isn't as slim or close fitting but mainly it's the colour. I've seen Sharon of Petite and Sewing sew and wear many clothes in brown (because she religiously sticks to her colours) and always looks wonderful but I find it very difficult to pair clothes with it or get excited about it unfortunately.

Anyway, more fabric out of the stash and into the wardrobe which is always a good thing. And speaking of the stash, I finally committed to purging the fabrics that I didn't like so much that have been sitting in a big pile on the floor in the corner of my sewing room for months now. I kept alternating between wanting to declutter the stash on one hand and on the other hand keeping every bit of fabric I have 'just in case', but in the end I kept some basic cotton pieces for future muslins and got rid of those pieces that were lovely and other people may like but I know I would never sew. I took this big and extremely heavy bag full of fabric to donate to the Fabric Cave at Meadowbank this morning and what's more I didn't go in the shop and bring home anymore fabric either!

big bag of fabric to donate to the Fabric Cave

That big bag is only the first part of the purge of my stash - it was too heavy to add anymore to it and I think I have at least one more bag of that size to go as well! Mind you there is hardly a noticeable dent in the stash and I'm still only half way through folding and measuring the stash.....

Last weekend I had a fantastic lunch with other lovely sewing bloggers, chatting about all things sewing and doing only the smallest bit of fabric shopping - I limited myself to two pieces only! I must be changing my hoarder ways, although I'm not deliberately on a fabric diet I do have a long line of projects I want to make completely from stash items, so now I look at new purchases as being more obstacles in the way of those projects which helps me buy more prudently.
So I hope to be back next post with a more enthusiastic write up of a finished garment - since I'm not sewing out of necessity sewing should be fun and enjoyable so I need to get over myself and back into the groove.

Friday, 28 February 2014

February Burda of the month done: Burda 2/2014 #115 cap sleeved jacket - the close enough is good enough version

So here we are on the last day of February and I've finally finished by Burda of the month project. It feels like I've been sewing this jacket for the entire month, and it was basically clogging up my sewing time and enthusiasm for anything else so I had to get it done. And in this case I'm settling for the close enough version - sure there could be more improvements but I think it's ok. As a reminder here is the pattern I used:

I didn't actually make the silver satin version, mainly because I couldn't be bothered making yet another version of this pattern but also because the second muslin I made was actually in a rather nice linen that I was hoping would work out as a wearable muslin. So I did the best I could to improve on the version you saw in the last post, and this is what I've come up with:

Sure the fabric is a boring cream colour, but it feels quite nice and I think the jacket has turned out to be a simple and lightweight jacket that I can wear over some of my more colourful summer dresses. I ended up letting out the seams a little because it was really tight when I wore it over various clothes which means I've got a bit of excess fabric appearing again at the back but there's no point wearing a supremely fitting jacket if you move as stiffly as a robot!

I didn't have enough fabric left to re-cut the sleeves, so instead I just took in the sleeve seams slightly and let out the cap sleeve dart as much as I could to try to make that cap sleeve stand out more.

For the front closure instead of doing a row of hooks and eyes I chose to use a zipper instead - I just thought that hooks and eye might slip open and they would be too fussy to do up. I found at Spotlight a lightweight separating zip in a cream colour that was perfect for this fabric. It looks like an invisible zip but the tape wouldn't roll over so I couldn't sew exactly next to the zip coils which means a little bit of the zipper tape is showing but it looks ok.

And because I was really really over it by the end I didn't even bother to line this jacket but I didn't make that decision until the very end so nor did I do any neat finishing of the internal seams like binding them or making French seams. The inside seams are fully overlocked so it's ok, but it's not a particularly professional finish on the inside I'm afraid!

This fabric has been in my stash for about 14 years - it's lovely fabric and it's only crime was to be unbelievably bland and boring. I thought about adding some trim or decorative stitching to this jacket to liven it up and to emphasize those seam lines but in the end I figure accessories would probably do a good enough job. I quite like this classic black on cream look:

I particularly like how the belt makes the peplum bit stick out and gather a bit more, this jacket has quite a lovely shape really.

Conclusion: a pretty good pattern - sure it needed a fair bit of fitting work to fit my very narrow, rounded and forward shoulders but it is a pretty simple pattern to sew, the sleeves are interesting and the waistline + peplum are quite flattering. If you're up for a possibly fiddly fitting experience I'd say go for it!