Sunday, 7 June 2015

Nothing But Repeats (Kwik Sew 3555 and Ottobre 05-2011-02)

This was my week last week in drastically summarized format: endless nausea, crisis, flailing, bad news, panic, really really bad news, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Vile.

On Friday night, I decided that such an appalling week merited a whole weekend of sewing for as much time as I felt well. I also decided that life is too short and uncertain to mess around hoarding fabric until some ~~magical moment arrives when I am definitely good enough at sewing to cut into it. Happily, I then felt well almost all weekend, and as a consequence I got THREE separate things finished, and used some of my favourite stashed fabric. I know there are people who can't bear to make the same pattern twice, but when I just want to SEW and not faff about with tracing/fitting/etc, repeats, and especially EASY repeats, always seem like an excellent idea to me.

Kwik Sew 3555: The short-sleeved linen plaid edition

I have used this pattern once before, back in March, when I made a stripy blue shirt with long sleeves. At the time I made it, I was not entirely excited about the pattern or the outcome -- I liked it, sure, but I wasn't sure I'd use the pattern again -- but it's actually turned out to be something I really enjoy wearing. When I decided to cut into my gorgeous shirt-weight linen I have been hoarding since November 2013, this pattern instantly came to mind to use again since I knew it worked for me.

KS 3555
I made several changes. On the fitting front, when I made it in March I accidentally omitted a small square shoulder adjustment, which I fixed this time around.

Other than that, the changes are all cosmetic. I decided I wanted a short, sqaure-ish shirt this time, to match some the boxy shirts I've seen in shops. I therefore cut 11cm of the length at the hem compared to the previous version. This was maybe a little too much -- maybe 9cm would have been better. I decided to fold the facing back the other way from the instructions and top stitch near the edge, so it looks like a fake button band (which you can see in the detail shot below). I cut the short-sleeve option and folded back the sleeve hems to the front to make a fake cuff. I also used poppers with pearl tops rather than buttons. On the plus side: no button-holing drama! On the minus side: popper installation drama! I have 4 poppers on my shirt but I used 7 in total because of testing/screw-ups.

KS 3555 close-up
The shirt went together really well -- I got a nice finish on most of the details, and was particularly happy with the collar, though it's not perfect. I doubt I will ever get a perfect collar/collar band. It always seems like just when I think it is going absolutely smoothly and have just started to pat my own back and imagine myself writing a very smug "this collar is SO PERFECT" blog post, something immediately goes wrong and screws up all my hard work. I am also annoyed that the hem went very wavy when I was pressing/sewing it. I tried to steam it back into shape, but it's still a bit stretched out. I had the same problem with my chambray shirt though, and it seemed to sort itself out when it went through the wash, so I will keep my fingers crossed this does the same.

For the rest of the construction, it was just the usual shirt stuff i.e. flat felling everywhere. The inside of this shirt is actually gorgeous -- the only way you can really tell inside from outside is the dart and the hem at the bottom. I haven't 100% got the hang of flat felling the tight curve at the top of the sleeve head -- it looks OK, but it's not as nice as the rest of my flat-felling by any means. However, overall I'm pretty happy with the finish!

The big problem with making this shirt, of course, was pattern matching. The fabric is 100% linen and it is HORRIBLY prone to stretching as you sew, even with my walking foot. I managed to get the front and side seams to match really well, but the yoke! D: Nightmare. In the end, I had a choice between two yoke pieces, one of which didn't match at all (see above) and one of which ALMOST matched, but was always just a BIT off. I ended up using the totally non-matchy version because somehow I found that less annoying, but I have been second guessing that decision ever since. I saw somebody once who said the best thing to do is cut the yoke in two and put it on the bias (an example), so you just don't even have to deal with the match/no match problem, but that occurred to me too late to do anything. I may try that next time I have a stripe or plaid. I also really need to look up how to get sleeve seams to match with checks. I managed to get the major stripe element to match horizontally on the sleeves, but the top of the sleeve head is otherwise a total hodge-podge of a non-matching mess.

However, I'm not really sure how much I really TRULY care about the inadequacies of my plaid matching. There's nothing eye-searingly wrong (other than the yoke, potentially) like the sides or centre front not matching up, which always drives me mad in cheap RTW. I guess the yoke might make some people twitch, but as it's on my back I won't see it to be bothered by it!

Other than the matching problem, this was a LOVELY fabric. I sort of worried that I actually wouldn't like it after I'd built it up into The Perfect Fabric in my head, but no such thing! I bought it at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin in November 2013 from a little company called Fabric Affair, who weave it in Northern Ireland. They seem to want to sell to quilters, but I bought 2m of this fabric and 2.5m of blue and white stripe for €10/m (actually, I bought 2m of the blue stripe as well, but they threw in 0.5m because it was the end of the bolt!). At the moment it's still feeling quite buoyant and crisp, but I suspect that after more washing it will become more limp and drapey.

PJ Shorts -- Ottobre 05-2011-02

As my shirt only required 1.4m of fabric and I had 2m, I had a 60cm piece left, which is not a very useful length in my experience. Rather than put it back in stash I decided to use it immediately to make some linen PJs shorts. The pattern was already out because I previously I had a brainwave and decided to make up my elephant fabric, which I mentioned last week, into PJ shorts as well.

I really appreciated people's suggestions in my blog comments for how to use my 1m of elephants as a top, but I kept finding myself wondering when exactly I would wear an elephant top. The truth is, I think I like novelty prints more on the bolt than on my person. The only time I whole-heartedly embrace wacky prints is in my nightwear. Thus whereas I might only have worn an elephant top a couple of times this summer, these will probably be in the washing basket every week between now and the autumn. I have a bit left over too that I plan to use for pockets bags and facings for something else later in the year. The pattern is just my usual: Ottobre 05-2011-02, "Sweet Dreams" shorts, for the umpteenth time. Also as usual, in an attempt to pre-empt the over-laundered disintegration of my PJs, I french seamed everything in sight.

Ottobre 05-2011-02 in blue elephants and plaid linen

Next up: I am going to see if I can finish my New Look 6407 blouse. It's about half done, but ugh, very problematic on the fitting side of things. I may have figured out a way to rescue this particular version, but if I make it again it's going to need a LOT of work on fitting at the bust. Also, some boring but necessary t-shirts, assuming that the boring but necessary fabric I ordered arrives!


  1. "I also decided that life is too short and uncertain to mess around hoarding fabric until some ~~magical moment arrives when I am definitely good enough at sewing to cut into it."

    THIS! Thank you for the reminder. =)

    I'm sorry to hear about last week; I am glad that you were able to push through and get some sewing done.

    I had the same problem with sewing some silk plaid. Would you believe that the walking foot made things WORSE?! In a fit of frustration, I took it off and replaced it with my regular zig zag foot. The fabric didn't bunch or shift at all. Weird.

    1. I think it is worth the risk of using your nicest fabric! I am determined not to hoard any more this year.

      I alternated between the walking foot and the regular foot, because walking feet are AWFUL for flat felling. Plaid is the worst. Someone else has suggested glue basting though, and I must try that!

  2. Sorry to hear about your crappy week. I know that a few of us in the land of the sewing blogosphere have had pretty rough years on a personal level--I hope that the bad news and really bad news that you got this week wasn't on that same level.

    But YAY for a weekend of sewing! The shirt is cute as are both pairs of PJ shorts, and I'm glad that you made something with your elephant fabric that you know you'll wear!

    1. My really bad news was just more crappy health stuff, which I just didn't need this week on top of everything else. :| However, my weekend of sewing did a LOT to restore my equilibrium! :D

  3. WIN! All three pieces look great and life is indeed too short!

    So glad your week got better in the end

    1. Thanks! Sewing was a great mood improver :D

  4. I like using a glue stick to baste the fabric together before sewing when I match plaids and work with zippers. It has always come out in the first wash. But like you most of the time I good with

    1. Oh, that's a great idea, thanks! I have read about people using glue with very shifty fabrics but using it to baste plaids hadn't occurred to me.