Thursday, 28 February 2013

Marching on

Can you believe it's the beginning of March tomorrow? This year is going way too fast, though I won't be sorry to see the back of February at all. Roll on spring time (and if we could get some warmer weather, that would be great).

My goals for February were pretty simple: get my shop restocked (done!); do a little work on woven tops and knit tops (done and done!); and cast on a new knitting project (only done last night, but done!).

March is going to be busy again, so I am still going to keep my goals on the simple side.

The purple DK I'm using
1. Knitting! My circular needles only arrived last weekend, which is why it's taken me so long to cast on my next project, although I did do the gauge switch at the beginning of the month. It's not that I couldn't cast on something else while I was waiting, I just didn't really find anything that grabbed me among the pattern/wool/needle combinations I had at hand. It's now underway though. As a reminder, I'm attempting a jumper, specifically the Ladies Classic Raglan Pullover by Jane Richmond, in purple DK-weight. I've really no set goal for how far I get on the jumper this month -- just that I'd like to make progress with it. It's actually a really easy pattern once you get past the increases and decreases and a lot of it is just mindless knit knit knit, so I'm sort of hoping that I get quite a lot done without really dedicating a million hours of my life to it.
Everything Wristlet

2. Bags! There are two bags on my private make-for-myself list -- an Amy Butler Everything Wristlet (really a clutch) from her Style Stitches book, and an Olivia bag for me like the one I made my sister-in-law. The Olivia is a huge project -- the one for my SIL took me upwards of 20 hours -- and I don't want to start it yet, but the Amy Butler wristlet should be doable and also, because it's for a specific thing, has marginally more urgency to it (by urgency, I only mean "I'd like to have it by a specific date" as opposed to it being, you know, actually urgent in any way). Also, this bullet point needs a place-holder to say I'll make any bags needed to keep my stock levels in my shop.

3. Clothes! Here things get a little more interesting. I've decided to steal adopt the idea of the 6PAC from the Stitcher's Guild boards. Basically, their 6PAC idea is 6 coordinated items of workhorse, everyday clothing that form a mini-wardrobe. On Stitcher's Guild, they do a sort of 3-month organized sew-along, where there is a thread with specific guidelines for the current 6PAC. At the moment, for example, people are working on spring 6PACs.

There's a lot about this that appeals to me: the co-ordination, the number of garments, the "everyday workhorse" aspect of it. However, I am... really not good at being told what to do by other people (see also: the entire rest of my life) so the organized group thing is not going to work for me. What I did do is try to re-arrange my previously chaotic sewing queue (actually, a page in my crafting Excel spreadsheet) and fabrics and ideas and wants into some kind of order, and I came up with a few different 6PAC ideas that I've sorted into a vague and flexible plan for the year. Now that I write that down it sounds ridiculous. I just like structure and planning, okay, leave me alone. /o\ I also like giving things pretentious names, apparently. My first 6PAC, which is intended to be sewed through March and April, is called Earth and Spring. Because it's spring, you see, and there's a lot of brown in it, and brown is the colour of dirt, but Dirt and Spring does not have the same ring to it. No, really, leave me alone, I can't help how ridiculous I am. /o\ (And the names get worse as the year continues.)

The Earth and Spring 6PAC has a purpose beyond the obvious "fill wardrobe holes": all the garments represent a chance to try out a pattern that is being trialled as a TNT. There are 2 bottoms (skirts), 3 tops (with an option for a fourth), and one jacket. Going from easy to hard, here is my list of what I plan to make:

By Hand London Tutorial
Bottom #1: A half-circle skirt (using the By Hand London online tutorial)

The fabric for this is a sort of mid-weight synthetic in dark brown, with a woven self-coloured crocodile print, plus seriously the most lush bronze coloured lining ever. Like the example in the By Hand London photo, it's going to be around knee length, although I am not putting a contrast band on it. I'm lining it and I'll be doing some french seams and extra bits and pieces, but fundamentally this is a pretty simple project.

Burda 04/2009

Bottom #2: A khaki skirt (pattern TBD)

My inspiration for this is the photo on the right from Burda 04/2009, plus a skirt I owned years ago and loved to death. The actual pattern in the magazine is for the white blouse, but I am in love with the skirt/belt combination. I happen to already have a 2m piece of khaki fabric, I just now need to work out the right pattern to put it with. The front runners right now are a couple of possibilities in Burda and a couple in Ottobre, or the Moss skirt by Grainline. Although I like the latter though, I think it might be easier to do a regular zip than a fly front on this occasion.

Tops #1 and #2: Woven Tees (pattern(s) TBD)

What I am looking for is a nice, drapy woven tee pattern that can go on under a cardigan throughout spring. I'm not sure I've found the right pattern quite yet -- I'm definitely auditioning the Scout Woven Tee, but I'm also considering a couple of other possibilities that have a little more structure to them -- a simple blouse from Burda, and a vintage New Look pattern with cut on sleeves -- because I don't know how much I like woven tops without some structural features.

Top(s) #3 (and possibly 4): Knit tops (Ottobre Rose Tee, Ottobre Lemon Juice)

Lemon Juice (in yellow on the left)
In the 02/2013 Ottobre there's a pattern called Lemon Juice. It's such a WEIRD pattern, with a side drape, cut in a single piece on the fold on the bias in a knit, and I don't know, I just really want to make it just to see how barking mad it is in real life. It's a real fabric hog for a t-shirt, calling for 1.8m, so it's going to be in a knit fabric I don't really care about, and only if I have time for it. More definitely, I am also going to make another Ottobre Rose Tee, with some pattern changes, in red. I just need to locate an appropriate woven for the neckband.

KS 3334
Jacket (Kwik Sew 3334)

This is supposed to be one of the easiest jackets possible. It's unlined, the collar is very simple, it's shoulder princess, and it's original-style Kwik Sew so the instructions are very good. It's still nerve-wracking to even contemplate. I do have the "make a jacket muslin" PR class available to me, though, and I am planning to spend a LOT of time on this over a period of weeks. The fashion fabric, if I end up cutting into it, is a beige linen with multi-coloured red and brown embroidery. I figure you can only get to the point of being able to make a jacket by trying to make jackets, so that's what I'm going to do.

As for how much of this I get done in March, well, that's anyone's guess really. This is what I will be working on though when I can snatch the time. The half-circle skirt and the Rose Tee are relatively easy projects and I should be able to get them done quite quickly, at least.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Reviewed: Ottobre Woman 02-2007 #5: Rose Tee

I made ANOTHER thing. I didn't really have any intention of making it this weekend. Then yesterday I had family visiting, and when they left in the evening I felt kind of blue. So I grabbed a pattern I traced out earlier in the week from Ottobre Woman and got down to cutting it out. I only meant to get part way through but ended up all-but-finishing it last night, with only the hems to sew this morning.

My overall conclusion: this is definitely, with a bit more work, going to be one of my TNTs. The version I made last night has all kinds of flaws, but it's definitely wearable around the house and I really feel like it has potential as a pattern even if I didn't get it quite right this time around.

I've done a detailed pattern review is over on PR or below, with some extra details:

Ottobre 02-2007-05 in cream and grey jersey as modelled by Flossie
Pattern Description: From the magazine: "The rose-patterned viscose-jersey top has puffed sleeves and its V-neck and sleeve edges are trimmed with bands cut from satin-finish viscose -blend fabric." It is one of several variations on a simple t-shirt theme in the 02-2007 issue.

Pattern Sizing: 34-52. I made a 44, widening to a 48 at the bust waist and hip (see below).

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Not quite, due to a couple of little design changes, but certainly very similar.

Were the instructions easy to follow? As easy as Ottobre's terse and non-illustrated instructions ever are easy to follow. Unfortunately you also need to read them properly first, which I utterly failed to do. As a consequence I used the wrong fabric for the contrast neckband.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I chose the pattern because I liked three things about it: I liked the contrast neckline in a deep V; I liked that this was one of a set of patterns that are a variation on a theme, so I was able to swap out the small puffed shoulder sleeve for a regular t-shirt sleeve (I hate puffed shoulders); and I liked that in the larger sizes it had some bust easing built into the pattern. I had no dislikes!

Fabric Used: Cotton jersey in cream with little grey square dots, and for the contrast another cotton stretch fabric of which I had a scrap just big enough for the neckline. The cream fabric was a horror -- the whole piece of fabric seems to be warped off grain. Unfortunately, I discovered very belatedly that I should have used a woven for the neckband. The fact I used the wrong fabric explains one of my major subsequent fit failures.

A modelled by me. Please excuse my long sleeved tee underneath, it is brass monkey weather here.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I adjusted the length of the top for my height, as always. In this case, this meant adding 6cm to reach my preferred length. I also swapped the little puff sleeve shown with this pattern with the sleeve from pattern #3 as my shoulders are far too big to look good in puff sleeves. I had intended to add a grey contrast band to the regular short sleeves but due to making a mistake with the neckline and having to recut one of the V-shaped pieces, I ran out of fabric.

I decided to have a go at Debbie Cook's Cheater FBA in order to add some width at the bust. As a consequence my top is a sort of size 44/48 hybrid -- 44 at the neck and shoulders and 48 from the base of the armscye downward. This wasn't totally unsuccessful -- I've had much worse fit from RTW -- but it wasn't totally successful either. I need to do a little more tweaking before I get exactly the bust fit I am looking for.

My other "design change", which in this case means "place where I screwed up" is that I used a stretch instead of a woven for the neckline. One of my fit issues with this version of the top is an excess of fabric at the back neckline which I think might handily be resolved by using the right fabric in the first place.

Neckline details, which mainly illustrate some of my mistakes. That's supposed to be a v neckline that matches at the seams!
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I made this top as part of my efforts to find easy and attractive TNT tops. Although there are all kinds of problems with my top, especially since my V-neck ended up a sort of pointy-ish scoop rather than a proper V due to my own sewing inadequacies, I still really like this pattern and plan to work on it some more. I think it's also one of the most reviewed patterns from Ottobre Woman and I am not at all surprised.

Conclusion: With a little more work, this is going to be my TNT basic jersey tee. (And next time, I might even use the right fabric!)


Cost: This was a wearable muslin. The cream fabric is part of a much bigger piece (the rest of which is earmarked for PJs) and cost just under £3/m. I used a piece just about 1.25m, so about £3.75 worth. The scrap of grey jersey was, stupidly, the most expensive thing per m and therefore cost about as much for just this neckline trip. Worse, it wasn't even the right thing to use. All told, for materials and overheads this cost about £8. Not great for a muslin, but a useful learning experience.


+ My twin needle stitching is AWESOME. And actually, even though it subsequently went pear-shaped for various reasons, I actually didn't do a terrible job in the initial stages of the neckline. The V-shape is not pointy enough but I don't dislike the shape it came out, and it will be much easier to get a point on it when I actually use a woven rather than a knit.

+ It's wearable. In fact, I'm wearing it right now. I wouldn't go to work in it, but for a wearable muslin to actually be wearable is a decent outcome, in my opinion.

- Fit. It isn't TERRIBLE -- as I said, I've worn way worse RTW -- but it's not good! Part of the problem is that this fabric did not stretch as much as I expected once I had it on but remained rather stiff. This is a problem when it comes to fitting over my bust. I think it could have used a smidge more space there. However, the BIG problem on the front are those huge horizontal wrinkles above the bust. I have looked through everything and I am getting really conflicting information about what causes that. It could be that it's too tight because of underarm fat and my upper bust. Or, it could be caused by "a prominent chest bone" (I can't remotely imagine it is this on account of how there are no bones that can be described as "prominent" in my body under all the fat). Or, possible, it could be a square shoulder problem. Now, I did at one point do a fix on my woven loper for a square shoulder for a similar reason and it fixed this kind of thing like magic. I can't really test it on this top because I serged the shoulder seam and have no seam allowance to play with.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Bits and Pieces #6: Dye jobs, Ottobre 02/2013

1. I've dyed a couple of things before but mainly stuff I didn't care much about -- some old white t-shirts that I died red, and some old sheets that I dyed blue just after Christmas but then used mainly for muslins because (even dyed) it was the cheapest fabric in my stash. Yesterday was the first time I dyed anything I actually really wanted to come out well.

It started life as 2m of really nice quality needlecord. It was one of those thing where through no fault of the vendor (who was someone I bought from a lot while she liquidated her late mother's fabric stash) I expected something different, colour-wise, from what turned up. I expected a sort of pale turquoise and what I got was a shade of mint green that I just would never wear. I was mulling over what I could do with it the other night before bed, and woke up with a full formed plan: dye it dark green.

I chose Dylon Olive. I dyed the 2m piece of fabric in my washing machine at the same time as an old cream polycotton king sized sheet. The sheet, being polycotton, dyed to a much lighter shade. I am going to use it to make bias binding for my quilt project. The corduroy is going to be an autumn jacket, I think, or possibly a Moss Skirt (the non-mini version!) also in the autumn.

Dying really isn't a very economical option if you're buying fabric. It was £5.50 for a box of Olive Green from eBay. The fabric was on the cheap end to begin, though, and it really made the difference between a fabric I couldn't ever see myself using and one that I will definitely use.

Before on the left. Neither is completely accurate compared to real life colour -- they're both less blue irl.

2. More on Ottobre Woman 02-2013: the full preview is up. Here's my favourite pattern:

Moto jacket! I like this one because it's armhole princess. As usual though, not sure I'd get through the sewing on this one as a 3 dot pattern. Another for that pile of jackets I might make someday, I suppose. I liked quite a few other patterns, although to be honest I never like anyone's summer patterns as much as winter patterns. My fault for living in such a cold, rainy country I guess. From the rest of the magazine my favourites are probably the mid-thigh coat on page 4, and the cardigan (although, that's a lot of darts for a knit) on page 3. I know a lot of people were excited for the twist front dress and top but eh, it's a lot of fabric where I need no extra volume, so I am never super excited by twist front anything. Also, having said I am emphatically OVER colour blocking, I find myself quite liking the colour blocked dress and the two colour tee the model is wearing under the moto jacket above. At any rate, I am still happy I have bought it, although there's nothing in it that I'm determined to make immediately.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Bits and Pieces #5

1. Voting on the Handbag Contest on PR has started and I encourage you to go vote if you're a member! My blue and white stripy bag is in there, but there are some really lovely bags on the list. NGL, I did vote for myself, mainly so I could be certain of ONE vote at least. Meanwhile the bag itself is on the way to become a prize in a raffle as planned. Well, originally I was supposed to go with it to attend the event where it's being raffled, but the never-ending symptoms from being ill have carried on being never-ending and all my deadlines got shifted so I couldn't. Alas :(

2. In the most recent Craftsy sale I pulled the trigger on buying Barbara Deckert's Plus Size Sewing class. I've seen it recommended all over PR and blogs and thought it sounded like it would be really good. I've watched maybe a third of it so far -- not in order, because heaven forfend I do anything in order -- and I absolutely love it. I actually bought her book some months ago which has some of the same information, but the videos are an excellent resource and I love the matter-of-fact and non-judgemental way she presents her information. Going on past experience the pattern that comes with the class might turn up any time in the next six months, but the value of the class is far beyond the ability to work with that one specific pattern. In fact, I've been using it to consider how I need to alter the pattern of my next project. So, if you've been wondering whether to get it or not, I do recommend it.

3. My next sewing project is the Deer & Doe Sureau dress. I am more than a little dubious about whether this will make it out of the muslin stage since I sort of wonder if it's going to be totally unflattering. Still, it's only a bit of cheap muslin to try it out and still more good experience of pattern adjustments. Plus, if I am going to continue to be so ridiculously obsessed with dresses I need to start MAKING them, not just mooning over the patterns. My fear with the Sureau is that the ruching at the bust is going to make me look even more top heavy than usual, and just in general that the styling is maybe a little too young for my age.

4. I'm expecting the new Burda (03/2013) next week in the post. I have not been overwhelmed by the preview except for one item. Depending on how complicated that item turns out to be, it could prove to be my next-but-one project. However, more excitingly, Ottobre announced their preview for their Spring/Summer Ottobre Woman magazine and the pictures look promising. I pre-ordered straight away, because I am ridiculous like that. Ottobre is still my favourite pattern magazine by a long way, even though I am well aware that other people thing the patterns and styling are frumpy.

5. On the knitting front, I am waiting for circular needles. I ended up ordering them from Hong Kong because they were a quarter of the price of buying exactly the same thing from an eBay vendor based in the UK, which means the wait for them to arrive could be quite long, or they could turn up tomorrow. You can never tell with buying stuff from Asia. I can't really do anything until they arrive, so I am in limbo with my first jumper. In the meantime I cast on a scarf called Bark, but then lost motivation so the little bit I've done is just lurking around on the coffee table.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Reviewed: Burda Plus 01-2013-433 Raglan Top

I made a thing! And it was successful! It's practically a miracle. And I made it with a pattern out of a magazine I just bought as well, which somehow restores my faith that my purchases are not entirely in vain.

01-2013-433 Line drawing
Top: Burda Plus 01-2013-433
More specifically, what I made was one of the things I highlighted in my review of Burda Plus 01/2013. Is it the most exciting pattern to ever exist? No, it most certainly is not. It's a simple woven raglan tee with four pattern pieces -- front, back and a two piece sleeve with a shoulder sleeve. However, it's absolutely the sort of pattern I want to audition as a possible TNT. I pictured this in less shiny fabrics as an ideal spring/summer layering top that could be worn to work over a camisole and under a cardigan. It's simple enough that I thought it would be good for prints where you don't want a lot of design details obscuring the fabric. It's rated 1.5 dots so it was also entirely within my skills range. This is kind of a wearable muslin, in the sense than I made it up straight into fashion fabric, just admittedly not a fabric I love.

You can read my pattern review over at PR or below, plus some extra bits I only put in my blog at the very end. My photos are basically terrible because I had to take them this evening and there is, of course, no natural light.

Burda Plus 01-2013-433  -- Top
Pattern Description: "... [this top] looks simply terrific with its wide round neckline and short raglan sleeves."

Pattern Sizing: Burda sizes 44-52. I used a 44.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
 Yes, remarkably similar except for a couple of minor changes detailed below.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, very straightforward. Burda may sometimes be as clear as mud as far as instructions are concerned but I will say this for them: their difficulty rating is spot on. This was rated a 1.5 dot pattern and there was nothing complicated about it. There were not many construction steps and they were all described perfectly adequately.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? As I'm in search of simple tops to become TNTs, I liked the simplicity of it, which I thought was well-suited to a variety of prints. I found I disliked the neckline and the length, both of which I adjusted.

Fabric Used: Polyester georgette in an abstract print in a mix of blues, greys and purples. I have to admit I bought this before I really knew what I was buying, fabric wise, and I've kind of regretted it ever since. Overall, I prefer natural fibres, but I don't hate it. My major concern was not ending up with a spirally bit of the pattern over my bust! I bound it with the remains of a pack of navy satin bias tape and this turned out not to be my best idea as it's too stiff and heavy for the georgette. I didn't get the best finish on the binding because of this.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: It's not obvious from the sample in the magazine, but the top was originally designed as tunic length. I don't generally wear a lot of tunic-length tops, so I therefore took about 13cm (~5") off the total length. I added neck darts (belatedly, which meant unpicking the binding on the neckline, ugh) and reshaped the neckline in order to get a more flattering cut. I also added a small width adjustment across the back.

FBA via darts into the raglan seam -- view of the inside since it's invisible on the outside!
I will always need an FBA in everything. I had never done an FBA on a raglan top before and in my wanderings around the internet in search of information I found several vintage patterns that positioned a dart coming from the shoulder seam in raglan style tops. For some reason this really appealed to me and I decided to give it a go. In this fabric with the swirling abstract print, the dart is nearly invisible irrespective of where it is positioned. Although I really like the shaping this dart gives me, I probably would default back to a regular bust dart if I were using a fabric where it would be very visible, like the shiny satin in the sample in the magazine. Finally, my fabric shredded horribly and is semi-opaque at best, so I did french seams throughout, and overlocked it before folding up a tiny hem.

Neck darts on the back neckline, also the french seams are just about visible
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don't know whether I will sew it again. I was auditioning it as a possible TNT. I do like some things about it very much, especially how quickly and easily I was able to make this top. However, there were some small fit issues that I need to fix before making it again, manly to do with the sleeve. Perhaps more of a killer though is that I'm not totally convinced this is the most flattering style for me. I'll wear it, but whether I want more than one is a different question. As far as recommending it to others, this is one of those "if you already have the magazine..." patterns. I don't think it's a pattern to make people rush to find their own copy, but if you have it already, it's a well-drafted, easy pattern that will produce a top in very little time.

Conclusion: I like this top, but I don't LOVE this top.



I used 1.5m of the georgette, which cost me £4/m including p&p, so about £6. The only other thing in this top was some purchased satin bias binding, which I had left over from a previous bag project. I have absolutely no idea how much it cost me, so I'm arbitrarily going to say £1 for the piece I had left. So, allowing for thread and other overheads, probably about £8 for this top.


- The neckline really isn't perfect and the most annoying this is that the bias binding will not lie flat. I think it's an issue of the binding being heavier than the fabric. This is the second time I've used satin bias binding on a flimsy fabric top and the second time it's gone wrong. Maybe I should stop repeating the same errors and hoping for a different outcome?

- Some of the seams are a bit puckery, especially down the long side seams. Nothing that would stop me wearing it, but annoying nevertheless. I think it's the way the georgette feeds through the machine.

+ This is by far my most successful FBA and I outright love the darts that terminate in the seam with the raglan sleeve. I feel like this is Armhole Princess Is The Best! epiphany all over again  because everytime I do anything with shaping from the armhole it seems SO MUCH easier than bust darts and so much more flattering too.

+ Other than the neckline, which is legitimately terrible, the finish I got on this was great. I love French seams for the way they make the insides look so nicely finished. I mean, I had no actual choice with this top because the fabric just disintegrated as I sewed, but still.

Friday, 15 February 2013


I'm all over the place at the moment, or at least I feel that way. There's a ton of stuff going on in my non-sewing, non-internet life, none of it very interesting but still having the effect of scattering my focus among many different projects.

First, a quick update on my work on the top block. I am kind of disheartened, if I'm honest. I did identify some fitting issues in addition to the inevitable gigantic FBA, which was a given -- the boobs of doom are impossible to overlook. I also apparently have a broad upper back (not really a surprise), a moderately square shoulder, minor sway back (I think) and so on. The sloper ends up being really REALLY tapered at the waist and hip compared to the upper body. I have always gone back and forth on whether I have more of an inverted triangle or rectangle body shape. On this evidence I'd have to say inverted triangle all the way. Plus, I was looking at photos of myself at lower weights and when I look at them with an eye to discerning body shape, wow, yes, the lower my weight, the more obvious an inverted triangle I am.

The problem I was finding though is that it's really, really hard to get a good fit when you're tailoring around the boobs of doom. The darts on my sloper are HUGE -- 14cm take up at the bust -- which makes for ugly, pointy darts. However, the bigger problem is how hard it is to fit below the bust so you're not wearing a tent and not introducing drag lines across the back either. I can't say I've been wholly successful at any of it yet, and after 4 muslins already I'm feeling a bit glum about ever getting to something satisfactory. I feel like a lot of my remaining problems are about my back and it's incredibly hard to fit your own back. Anyway, version 5 is up next, and I will, somehow, carry on going with it until I have something useful. One good thing is that I feel increasingly confident about the FFRP FBA method, to the point where I just whizzed through one in another project without any trouble at all. So that's a definitely win.

That other project was an attempt to apply what I'd learned so far to a Colette Sorbetto top. Alas, not successfully! I fundamentally misunderstood what I was doing transferring from the block to a commercial pattern and ended up making a top four sizes too big. I was so disappointed when I went to try the top on. I immediately trashed the first altered pattern and tried again. I haven't made it up yet though because I feel like the dart placement is weird. One good thing though is that while trying on the terrible non-fitting top I realized that (a) I hate the pleat detail; and (b) I need to make sure I make this in a drapey fabric. My muslin was in a very soft old cotton sheet and even it was a little too inclined to stand on its own away from my body for my taste. So possibly I think that overall it was a moderately helpful experience, even if I didn't end up with a working muslin.

Other than that, though, I've been consumed with thinking about four different future projects, most of them MONTHS into the future. I want two maxi skirts for the summer, and I have my fabrics all picked out. I want to make a 3/4 circle skirt for next autumn (why am I even VAGUELY thinking about next autumn right now?!) and again, I have a fabric in mind. And I've been thinking (still, again) about my outfit for a wedding. I think I may have come up with something, except, probably not really. And more imminently, I decided I DO want to make the woven raglan top from the latest issue of Burda Plus and I traced it this evening. It looks easy enough, except then I lost an hour reading about doing an FBA on that style.

And now it's 2:15am and I should be in bed.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Yet more bags

It's been a bit ALL BAGS, ALL THE TIME on here for a bit. I've completely restocked the shop though now, so bag production will slow down a bit, barring a sudden surge of sales.

First up, a 1930s style clutch using a new-to-me pattern by Charlie's Aunt. The clutch pattern is called the High Tea Clutch and it's being sold by my favourite pattern maker, Michelle of Michelle Patterns on her website. I made mine in a combination of vintage wool and a synthetic shiny abstract floral lining. I quite like this pattern, especially the big floppy bow, although it's probably not my personal style to actually carry it. It's super easy and quick to make though.
Vintage wool High Tea Clutch -- for sale on Etsy

The other bag I made was WAY less successful, and I ended up gifting it to a friend as it isn't really saleable.

Caliti Clutch by Sew Sweetness

It started life as a Caliti Clutch. I've had it cut out for literally MONTHS, and the reason I was delaying making it were that I could NOT imagine how to get a good finish on the circular handles. Actually, if you click through to the website, you can see that the actual pattern author didn't get a fantastic finish on it herself. Looks good from a distance, close up it's not really great. However, I thought I would give it a try because it is really cute. I used some very small pieces of fabric I had lurking about so the costs were pretty minimal. The most expensive thing was that I had to interface it.

My version -- suspiciously lacking in circular handles as you can see!
I did TRY the circular handles, but even before I started stitching them on the clutch, they looked completely pants. I just couldn't get a clean circle on the inside of the handle at all. I ended up just slapping a sparkly buckle on it and calling it done. Luckily as I complained on twitter about it, a friend decided she liked it so I'll post it off to her.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Finding the right thing

I've been driving myself mad for the last three days, and all because I'm frantically searching for The Perfect Thing for two projects. I even know, intellectually, that the perfect thing does not exist, but I keep getting caught up in it anyway, which is both pointless and anxiety inducing.

The first thing I've been obsessing over is the sweater I want to knit. I pulled the trigger on the yarn purchase I've been considering, picking up an inexpensive but really pretty purple acrylic DK weight from Deramores. It's King Cole Big Value DK in Heather. I know, I know, the point of knitting is not to make my own inferior plastic-based jumpers but to upgrade my jumper wardrobe. However, when you're making your first jumper AND you're pretty much broke, acrylic seems like such a good idea, and actually knitting a test swatch has been so pleasant that I don't care at all. I'll knit with fancier yarn when I have a job again.

Classic Raglan
Unfortunately, picking the yarn is only half the battle. Now I've got to work out what pattern to make, and I've been driving myself mad trying to find a simple, pretty pattern that I could conceivable use. I think I've finally come up with one -- the Classic Raglan by Jane Richmond.

Actually, one of my friends has recommended (based on my description of what I want to knit, which is very functional as lists of such things go) that I read Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears, so I've also ordered that. All I want from my knitting life is really some patterns I can make over and over in really nice yarns and colours, so this seems a good place to start. Like with sewing, I really want knitting to be a thing I do. However, whereas I long to be fancy with my sewing, with knitting I just want to be able to churn out lovely simple basics.

The other thing I am getting worked up about is an outfit for a wedding. It is ages and ages away, even, but it's causing me no end of stress thinking about it. Why is getting an outfit for a special occasion such an ordeal? Even if I weren't in fluctuating weight mode and planning an international move between now and the wedding, it would still be a giant nightmare trying to find just the right outfit. I wouldn't care, but in reality NOBODY CARES what a guest is wearing (except the guest herself) so long as you are at least mostly appropriately dressed. So far, I've gone from "MAKE A DRESS!" (because, as is well chronicled here, I am obsessed with the idea of dresses) to "make separates!" (because it's easier) and now I am well into "maybe those cream trousers I already own would work and maybe make a top or something and get some great shoes?". Ugh. You know things are bad when you find yourself looking at crazy Burda WTF tops and thinking "now, would THAT work for a wedding?".

Monday, 4 February 2013

Blocks and Bags

I took some time this weekend to (a) get some bags finished for my shop restock, which was soothing; but also (b) work some more on my basic darted top block.

The block is a real challenge. To remind you, I am using the Connie Crawford pre-FBA'd basic top block.  I bought the F/G sloper rather than the more comprehensive blouse block that has everything from A to I because, to be quite frank, it was half the price. I am, strictly speaking, an H cup not a G, but when I looked at the measurements I thought I could work with the F/G block perfectly well.

So far, I am pretty pleased with my progress. My big adjustments so far have been lowering the bust point a long way and straightening out the shoulder. I've never thought of myself as having a square shoulder but when I adjusted the seam at the shoulder it was almost magical how it smoothed out a whole mess of bad fit at the shoulder and between the neckline and the bust. I also ended up pivoting in a little extra width at the bust. In fabric, I was letting out the side seams by about 1.5cm just around the bust point, but I couldn't quite work out how to do that on paper except to draw in a weird bulge. To be honest, I'm not sure my flat pattern alteration with the pivot will actually work when I put it into fabric, so that's the test with my next version. If it doesn't work, I'm going to do a classic FFRP FBA and add in the extra 1.5cm that way, even though I know it's going to screw up the waist and hip fit.

The big problem is fitting myself. It's really hard to get any idea of back fit. Last night I was too tired to drag out my camera and tripod to try taking photos but I will do the next time I work on it. I also haven't really touched the sleeves yet. I'm a bit concerned that I need a width adjustment at the back just based on the sleeveless version. I also haven't really 100% worked out the waist and hip fit either, having been mainly pre-occupied with the boobs of doom.

In between fighting with the blouse block though, I did get some bags made for the shop. This time they are both little bags, using Michelle Patterns' Half-Moon Handbag pattern. I could make these in my sleep, they are so easy, and yet they are so cute! I went mad and used giraffe fabric for one of them as well, which I unironically love. I still have two clutch patterns all cut out and interfaced ready to make, so hopefully I will be fully restocked at the end of this week.

New bags for my etsy shop.