Sunday, 19 October 2014

July Burda of the Month: 7/2014 #114 Sporty top for the non sporty type

Powering on with my catch up of Burda of the month projects, I made a quick knit top from the July issue. Admittedly I did trace this pattern out a few months ago, but as we all know actually getting started is what takes the most time sometimes!

Similar to the June issue, not much in this issue caught my eye but I always seem to be in need of short sleeved tops in summer, especially those that are little bit different from the standard tee:


I made the contrast v-neck raglan tee 7/2014 #114:


Burda has styled this pattern as a sporty look and I did see that Allison C recently made this pattern in a funky black and purple for gymwear. Unfortunately the closest I get to sporty is tying my hair up in a pony tail - I don't even own a pair of exercise shoes! But this top goes well with a pair of shorts I made last year for hanging out barefoot around the house on a lazy Sunday afternoon:


Burda rates this as an intermediate skill level pattern which I'd agree with. It's essentially a raglan tee which is simple to construct, but getting that bottom point of the v shaped band at the front was really difficult. I re-did it several times before it got close to being acceptable, and whilst I'm calling this top done there is still a little bit of bulging there at the point:


This could be due to the difference in stiffness between the solid fabric (a thick ponte knit) and the stripe fabric (a thinner ponte knit), but is probably just the way I sewed it. In her review Allison mentions that the instrucitons are really good to get a nice finish on that point, but I have to admit to not reading the instructions - the magazine is in storage somewhere with the rest of my sewing stuff so I had to wing it. Lesson learnt - one should at least glance at the instructions before sewing, even if they are Burda instructions!

Because I used a striped fabric I decided to cut the back on a fold rather than have a centre back seam to save on stripe matching. Of course this means that I have a lot of fabric pooling in my sway back which sewing that centre back seam would have resolved, but I realised that all of my RTW tshirts do the same so I'm not bothered by it:



I didn't find this too low at the front which Allison mentioned in her review and which also seems to be the case in this version made by an attractive Russian sewist over at the Russian Burda Style site, but looking at these photos my band seems extraordinarily large, particularly there at the front. Maybe it was a case of dodgy tracing on my behalf but it seems to have avoided that problem for me at least.

Overall I don't mind this pattern at all, and will make it again if I can find two complementary fabrics - I'm hopeless at colour and print matching. If I make this again I will read the instructions to do that centre v neck point a bit better, and would also cut the v neck of the band on a fold rather than have a centre front seam there - I couldn't see the purpose of it at all. I would also use a softer knit than a ponte knit, because the band is doubled it gets quite thick and didn't press well at all so I had to topstitch around the edge of the band to get it to sit flat.

And now onto my next project - I feel a dress coming on, since it's been a while that I've made a dress and now that it's spring I definitely need something cute and comfortable to wear.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

June Burda of the Month: 6/2014 #123 - the not so cheeky shorts

June Burda issue - am I glad to see the back of you! Nothing in particular caught my attention in the June issue, and I was having a real mental block in trying to visualise something to make for my Burda of the month challenge. Honestly, if I wasn't making myself do one from each issue this one would have been put on the bookshelf and forgotten about. But it's not you Burda, it's me! I've come to realise how incredibly difficult it must be for the Burda designers to come up with so many patterns each month that cater for people of varying ages, sizes, styles, sewing skills, seasons, and whether they are new to Burda magazine or whether they have been collecting them for years.

So when I received the June issue we were in the depths of winter, which probably didn't help me pick a project from it. But now we are heading into summer with a few hot days already, I finally decided to make a pair of shorts, because every summer I need a few pairs of shorts to survive hanging out at the playground and yet I never seem to have any! Here's my interpretation of Burda 6/2014 #123 sailor shorts:


The pattern and model photo looks like this:


Kwik Sew do a similar version which I've seen made up by a few people around the internets and I really quite like the look. It's an interesting pattern because essentially the outside front section is a decorative flap that is attached at the inside leg seams and the side seams below the buttons, and underneath is another layer that is basically a short band across the front only as long as that zipper:



There are no pockets which is not very useful in shorts, especially when it looks like there are side pockets. I guess you could put some pockets in the side seam, but it might add extra bulk of which I certainly don't need. I think the back could certainly use some welt pockets to break up that expanse of fabric, because the back view is quite plain:


Now obviously I do not possess long, lithe or tanned legs such as Burda's model, so I took the sensible option of adding quite a bit of length to the shorts, about 10cm I think.  These are still pretty short by my standards, but they are almost veering into frumpy territory, as the front view is not always very flattering:


I'll just have to make sure I stand around posing instead, and develop my own "blue steel" type pose!


The fabric I've used is a heavy stretch cotton bought some time ago from possbily the Remnant Warehouse. It's a printed fabric, light grey with a black cross hatching that gives the impression of a linen type weave, minus the annoying wrinkles. And it goes great with my favourite Liberty cotton shirt too, which is a summer staple for me.


Now onto the July issue - I've already traced out the pattern and cut out the fabric so I'm well on the way to catching up on my missed issues.  

And thanks for the well wishes on selling our house - there has already been a great deal of interest in it, with a lot of people attending the first open for inspection. One down and three more weeks to go before the auction......

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Burda of the Month: 10/2014 # 111 Cowl Neck Dress

Spring is in the air around these parts and a spring is finally back in my step! The return of my sewing mojo has coincided with me finishing up a few things that have been keeping me  busy lately so I'm hoping I can now get busy on my sewing once again. We've finally finished the work on our house and it's now on the market for the next month before being auctioned in early November (the link is here is if you want to have a look at what the rest of my house beyond my often photographed lounge room looks like). It's going to be a challenge keeping it clean for the next month, but at least the hard work is over and done with.

So if you've been paying attention, you've probably realised that I haven't made a Burda pattern for quite a while and yet here I am skipping ahead to the October issue. Very true, I haven't made my Burda of the month project since the June issue. My love for order and logic means that I really wanted to go back to the June issue and make them in order, but the October issue is such a great issue that I wanted to make this dress right away:


This is pattern #111 from 10/2014 issue, which is a super simple knit dress with an interesting cowl neckline - the drapes are stitched down in three little folds on either side of the neckline.


I used a stretch polyester crepe in a black and cream print that I picked up from Spotlight last week (during one of their sales of course!):


Usually I prefer dresses made out of woven fabric because I like the structure and crispness, but I have to profess my love for this dress. It was really difficult to get a flattering photo of this dress though, and it does look better in real life. I think I need a dressier pair of heels, perhaps something high and strappy to wear with it (but all my non-necessary shoes and accessories are packed away at the moment too!).

Being small busted I quite like having a bit of excess fabric draping across the front, although mine doesn't seem to drape nearly as much as the dress worn by the model in the photo in the magazine.


I made this mostly on my overlocker so it was really quick to make, being just a front, back and sleeves. The neckline is wide enough to not need a zipper, and I cheated by using that iron on Steam-a-Seam tape to do the hems and the back neckline mainly because I couldn't find a twin needle abut also because it looks neater.

The only change I made to the pattern was to sew two vertical darts in the back to reduce the amount of fabric pooling in my swayback. I didn't want to do a centre back seam so I could make a sway back adjustment, but the darts seem to take care of most of the excess fabric so I could get a neat fit.


I contemplated making this dress with short sleeves since we are now coming in to summer, but in the end I stuck with the long sleeve option because the fabric is stretchy enough to scrunch the sleeves up above my elbow for those hotter days.


So overall I can highly recommend this pattern - it's really simple to make and has lovely lines and drape. There's also a pattern in this issue for this style as a top which has a slight variation at the neckline by including tabs to hold the cowl back at the sides which I can also see me making in the near future if I can find the right fabric.

Speaking of fabric, I popped by The Remnant Warehouse to buy some black jersey to make a Halloween costume for Anna and since they are having a 25% off sale I may have accidentally picked up a few extra pieces!

I really don't know how that happened, honestly!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

A cosy dressing gown

Hello dear blog readers - it has been a long time hasn't it? It's amazing how easy it has been for me to fall out of the habit of blogging when I've had so many other things on at the moment. I've always found people who carry on about how busy they are incredibly tedious because they're usually speaking in code for "I'm so important/so popular" - but in my case life is just so incredibly busy at the moment with incredibly tedious things! The good thing is that our house will be on the market in a few short weeks with a sale hopefully by the end of October so the end is in sight.

Of course I've managed to fit in a little bit of sewing in my now dismantled sewing room. I hemmed some curtains that I purchased (yes, purchased!), made a dress for my sister who went to a theme party as Wednesday Addams and made some boring black track suit pants for Toby who seems to have shot up several inches over the last month.

Our winter was rather late in coming this year - so warm and sunny for more than the first half of it, and we now seem to be back in warm weather again. But the previous few weeks were very windy, cold and rainy and the perfect weather for staying indoors wearing cosy dressing gowns.
And to use a cliche, here's one I prepared earlier!

This was another project made on my sewing weekend away many months ago now, and it turned out to be super quick to make which is good because she only really got a few weeks wear out of it this winter! I used a vintage sewing pattern, Simplicity 2320, which is from the 1960s I think:

The fabric is a polar fleece by Prints Charming, which is a Sydney based design company that make the most wonderful designs. Spotlight stock quite a large range of their fabrics in cottons as well, and they are all really cool. I let Anna pick out the fabric herself during one of their many frequent sales. Even with the fabric on sale this cost more to make than a dressing gown I could have bought from Kmart, but we all know that we don't sew to save money don't we? But I did make this dressing gown is pretty big so hopefully it should last a few winters.

She likes it I think!

And now on to some spring sewing I think.  I didn't even get started on my winter sewing list this year, and I'm 4 issues behind now on my Burda challenge so I've got a lot of catching up to do there but fingers crossed I'm back in the blogging habit!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The authentic Cinderella

The arrival of the August Burda magazine in my letter box the other day quickly made me realise that not only had July slipped by in blur of sickness, lethargy and general busyness, but I hadn't made a project from either the June or July issues of Burda! Even worse is that I have actually traced out the patterns from each, but haven't got as far as actually making them - but the good thing with self imposed challenges that it matters to no one else if I'm a little late.

My sewing room is now pretty much completely deconstructed and all that remains in there is my sewing desk with my machines and a box of fabrics and notions I think I'll need frequently. The rest of my sewing stuff is stored at my parents house - an hour and a half away so I need to get organised with my projects now! My sewing room is now a shared sewing space and children's playroom - a recipe for disaster I'm sure. But to sell our house we had to turn the kid's playroom back into a fourth bedroom so it's for a good reason even if it is annoying to have my sewing supplies so spread about the place.

Of course there has been sewing though - birthday party dresses for my social butterfly, as well as a dress up costume for Anna's school Education Week book character parade. I have to admit to being pretty excited about sewing a costume for the dress up parade, because I have fond memories of my parents getting very creative with costumes for me as a child. I tried to talk her into a cool or quirky character, but unfortunately for the kindergarten set it seems that Disney characters rule the day.

Anna demanded a Cinderella dress - not just any Cinderella dress though, it had to be a faithful reproduction of her Golden Book version. The ones available for purchase just weren't good enough for Anna's liking because they weren't authentic enough! So instead I spent just as much money on ice blue and white satin to make this:

Happily though Anna really loves it and it is better quality than the costumes available in the stores - those were so plasticky they looked like they would spontaneously combust! 

My version met with approval because the skirt is full length and very full - look at it twirl:

I got another tick for making the waistband at the centre front come down in a point and not straight across, which was very important:

Although I did get a little reprimand for adding that trim to the neckline and princess seams because it wasn't on the picture in her book.

And the pouffy hip thingies are made of white satin to match the sleeves, and not of tulle like the ones we saw in the shop:

I wasn't sure how to make those hip things, so in the end I just made them a rectangle the full width of the fabric with rounded edges, and then just folded it and pleated it to fit the waist (leaving a little gap in the front of course!). Seems to work I think.

Of course I had to make the black choker necklace and headband to complete the outfit:

All in all I think someone really enjoyed their day as a princess!

Very handily I managed to find a girls dress sewing pattern in my stash that was perfectly designed for this style, although it wasn't a costume pattern. Sewing was rather fiddly dealing with all that slippery fabric and trying to get my hands in small spaces like the sleeve head and hem. Annoyingly the fabric puckered a little bit even though I used a sharps needle, which is most obvious at the neckline, but it's only a dress up costume so I can live with it.

Now to get on with some sewing for me! I've got a few fabrics and patterns out so it's time to get productive.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Fabric Stash, refined

Thanks everyone for the great tips on pants fitting - it's all very useful which I will have to try out. I shouldn't be surprised that my pants had such huge fitting issues since I've never really put any effort into sorting them out and I don't have a particularly easy body shape to fit. I have watched others blogged their slow and steady progress towards pants fitting nirvana, now I guess I need to find the energy to do the same.

Not this week though, I've come down with the 'flu and have taken up a position on the lounge under a fluffy blanket drinking lemon and ginger tea. But last weekend before getting sick I started dismantling my sewing room so we can move the kids playroom into it and then the playroom will revert back to being a bedroom when we sell the house.

Some of you may remember when I posted a picture of my fabric stash - some people IRL still mention it to me so I know it was memorable! This is how it looked a few months back before I started the Great Fabric Stash Refinement (aka a massive cull):

On Sunday I took this photo:

Look Jane - there's that red and white cotton sateen from Spotlight from the New Look 6968 pattern cover peeking out!
Astonishing, right? I managed to further cull fabrics by holding each piece trying to visualise it made up into something and being honest with myself as to whether I would ever wear something made from it. And the answer to a lot of the prints and colours in my stash was a surprising no, and so a third big bag which has some really nice, quality fabrics will also go out to the Fabric Cave shortly:

So what has happened to the rest? You didn't think I had gotten rid of all that fabric did you? The answer is that 24 jumbo size vacuum space saver bags later, my stash is now packed and ready to go into storage before our upcoming house sale:

Even when I've vacuumed all the air out and shrunk those bags down as much as possible, it's still an impressive pile (which of course fell over a few seconds before I took this photo):

To be totally honest though, this isn't my full stash in those space saver bags. There is still a big bag of fabric scraps to deal with, two boxes of UFOs/refashions, lengths of curtain lining and these rolls of fabric too:

Those fabrics still left on the shelving I've kept out with the intentions of sewing them in the next 6 months or so. No particular projects in mind, just a general desire to use the fabric - sort of sewing with half a plan I guess! I can still access the fabrics in storage but it will take some pre-planning since my parents live over an hour away. And yes, I'm aware that the small amount of fabric I've kept out is actually larger than some people's entire stashes!

But overall my stash is now greatly reduced and I'm actually feeling good about that. I've never really felt any guilt about my fabric stash, mainly because I had the space to store it, I had the money to purchase it, and I do use stash fabrics frequently. Plus I really liked being able to find an appropriate fabric in my stash no matter the project, and I cannot recall the last time I had to purchase fabric particularly for a project for myself. But I must admit that while I was packing this all up I was feeling slightly overwhelmed and a little bit disgusted at my greedy hoard of fabrics! And questioning whether we really should sell our house and move.....

Anyway I've shared this with you all as a public service - for those of you with a small but growing stash you can take comfort that you're not as bad as me yet! And for those of you with a sizeable stash too, well at least you know you're not alone. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

When a TNT is no longer your friend.....

I'm slowly coming around to the idea of tried and true (TNT) pattern. I own so many patterns that I like using a different one each time and I do have my Burda challenge which also means using a new pattern each month, but I do see the value in using a pattern that you've got the fitting issues worked out and know the finished garment will fit without having to make a muslin. And of course it doesn't mean making the same thing over and over again - you just have to see the amazing variety of dresses that Carolyn over at Diary of  a Sewing Fanatic has made from her TNT dress pattern as proof of that.

New Look 6968 is my favourite pattern for a fitted sheath dress - I can't believe it's now OOP because it really is a great pattern. The waistline seam means I can get a perfect fit on my swayback and pear shape, and it has a number of different  neckline and sleeve variations as well. I've made it five times already (from left to right, here, here, here, here and a version not shown here), and since I own some red and white fabric exactly like view D on the envelope I'll probably make it again! In fact if you google New Look 6968 my happy face features quite prominently in the results.

Burda 11/2012 #124 is my go to pattern for an a-line skirt - simple but with interesting details such as welt pockets on the front and a topstitched centre front seam. I've made it in denim, velveteen, cotton drill and cotton sateen, and I still wear all the versions quite regularly:

And I thought that Burda 10/2013 #127 going to become my TNT for my achilles heel - a perfect pants pattern. I've made it three times so far, and even though I don't particularly sewing or even wearing pants I quite like these:

The first time I made this pattern in a cotton linen, it was very baggy to begin with and stretched out terribly, meaning the waistline and crotch hung very low. The second time I made them into shorts using a stretch cotton drill that didn't stretch out so the pants fit well but a bit too high waisted for my liking. Third time lucky with some gorgeous cotton from Tessuti and the fit is pretty good, and the fabric wears well.

So when I had a recent girls night out planned in wild and windy weather (ie not dress wearing weather) and Pattern Review were having their pants competition I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and make this pattern in a dressier fabric, with slim legs, ankle length and exposed metal zips at the hem. And I figured I'd be able to get this done two nights before the night out and the competition closed.

Well the sewing gods decided to teach me a lesson because this is what happened:

Way too much excess fabric there in the back legs that looks really bad (but probably no different to RTW pants though!). I've read somewhere that the wrinkles in clothes point to the problem - clearly my problem is the way the pant legs are hanging from my saddlebag thighs, although the front doesn't look too tight:

Actually when I look closely at the photo above I can see the fabric at the back rippling at those inside leg seams. I pinned the excess fabric in a long dart at the top of my thigh on my left leg which makes the pant leg seem to straighten and sit much better:

A change like this really needs to be done pre cutting out the pattern though because the excess taken out needs to be distributed around the pant leg. But the danger in over-fitting is creating a pair of pants that you can't bend or sit in. Since I don't walk around stiffly like robots it is a problem and nor do I stand posing like a model all day, I do need some ease there but I don't want too much either - I'm not sure I know how to fix this problem to be honest. The fabric I used is a metallic jacquard, which is quite firm with no stretch so I don't think I will be able to get such a close fit in a fabric without stretch. It's a pity because it's a fabric that's been in my stash for a long time just waiting for the right use to come along, and now I've wasted it on this wadder.

I think this fabric sits differently to the cotton versions I've made previously, which draped better and hid this problem which is why I was fooled that this pattern was really good on me. But I've come to the conclusion that this pattern is not my TNT, and it's back to the drawing board for the perfect pants pattern. Luckily I have a two day course on pants fitting in October at the ASG sewing convention so (maybe) I'll get there in the end I hope. I'm just definitely not there yet!