Sunday, 31 March 2013

Made: The Wedding Clutch

As I've mentioned several times, I'm making my outfit for a wedding in the summer. The easiest part of doing this was supposed to be making the bag I was going to take. I decided to use the Everything Wristlet pattern by Amy Butler from her Style Stitches book, although in the end really the only part of it I used was the general idea and the flap pattern piece. I'm really torn about this bag. I kind of like it, I think, but it did not live up to the image I'd developed in my mind of how this bag would look and feel. I wonder if maybe I'll come to like it more as I get a little distance from the actual making of it. Fortunately, the wedding is not for another couple of months so I have time to reconcile myself to it.

My new bag with (one of) the pair of shoes I bought to go with it -- these are not actually the wedding shoes
The actual Amy Butler pattern has three features that mine is missing: she sews an edge into the base of the bag, which I omitted not because of anything sensible but because I was so worried about sewing the leather I decided against it; inside the original bag pattern were three inner pockets -- one built into the lining that I left off because I quilted the lining, and two "card holder" pockets that you're supposed to insert into the bag as hanging central dividers (sewing them into the side seams) that I left off because (a) having them in massively reduced the functionality of the bag, and (b) my fabric choices made them impractical. Finally, the original pattern was supposed to have a wristlet strap, but I didn't like how it looked and left it off.

Front view of bag
I made my clutch from the most expensive fabrics I have ever bought. The turquoise body is made of a piece of dyed pigskin leather. It has a lovely furry, suede-y feel to it but it was insanely expensive. I paid £15 inc. p&p on eBay for a small piece and used about half of it.

The flap and the interior is 100% silk dupion. It was £15/m on eBay and I used a little more than half of it. That price also doesn't cover the fact it took two tries to get a decent colour match to the other pair of shoes I bought, and so I also have a second, fortunately less expensive, pieces of blue silk left over from making this bag.

I like silk dupion because it has a pleasingly slubbed, imperfect look about it. However, there's no denying that it's far too thin for bag making purposes. In order to make the bag stand up to any kind of wear I ended up quilting the flap and lining with a layer of black quilt batting. The flap has so many layers -- silk, batting, muslin backing so I could draw on my quilting pattern, then two layers of interfacing: sew-in heavy weight, fused to fusible ultra heavy weight (a cheap alternative to Peltex) and then another layer of muslin and finally the lining, which was the same silk.

Inside the bag
The lining of the main body of the bag is also quilted, and there's a layer of the heavy-weight-fused-to-ultra-heavy-weight interfacing used like sew-in interlining with the suede body of the bag. It gives it some shape, but even though there's a pleasing amount of bulk to the bag between the quilted lining and the interfacing, it's still not quite as rigid as I might have liked. I think the only way to have achieved that was to use a heavier leather product to begin with, but then I doubt my machine would have sewed through it. At any rate, when it's filled with the necessary items of wedding attendance it will probably not be so annoying that it's more squashy than I wanted.

Pattern illustration
All of the illustrations of the original pattern show these bags with some kind of brooch attached to the bag in the rounded section of the flap. I bought the brooch I've used from an eBay seller in China for £3.50. It took almost 5 weeks to be delivered, but it's hard to beat that kind of price for exactly the brooch I wanted. I also used a regular gold magnetic snap, which isn't really worth talking about.

Overall, when you figure in the costs of all the extra bits (interfacing, the magnetic snap, the batting, thread, etc) this bag probably cost £25, which is kind of a lot for a home-made bag. My original inspiration for making a two tone bag was a bag I found on Polyvore that originally retailed for around £26. However, that bag was made of plastic, not leather and silk, and it didn't have the brooch attached. Once you start looking online for actual leather and/or silk clutches it's hard to find anything for under £80-100. This is back to that discussion I posted the other week: what's the fair comparison for things I make? I would never in a million years buy an £80+ bag for a wedding but I might have bought the plastic one for £25. By making the bag, I paid the same as I would have for a plastic bag but with the quality materials that would have gone into a bag three times the price.

It didn't take me long at all to make because this is one of the most basic styles imaginable, really. The most time consuming thing was drawing out the quilting pattern and then quilting the flap and lining pieces. If I had done the card holder inserts as the pattern suggested that would have added more time, but I really can't see the point of them in this bag given what I am planning to use it for. To be honest, a few hours of mostly enjoyable work to make this bag is no real concern to me when I contemplate how long it would have taken me to find a bag to buy that I liked in the right colours -- if I had ever found one!

I am kind of talking myself into liking this bag more and more, and it's hard to remember why I was so unhappy with it last night when I finished it!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Made: Kit Scarves

That virus I mentioned in my last entry? It wiped me out completely for the rest of the week. I basically just dragged myself from bed to sofa and back again and that was it. Today, though, I finally made it home from my mum's house and had a chance to take a photo of the tiny knitting projects I finished while ill.

Scarves from kits!
These scarves were each made using a simple kit on sale at Aldi for £3 each. The kit came with three 50g balls of acrylic fashion yarn in a couple of different chunky, bobbly styles, plus a set of fat plastic needles, plus ultra basic instructions. It was really the easiest scarf ever -- 16 stitches of garter stitch and keep going until you run out of yarn, basically. However, for all they were stupidly easy, the soft fluffy yarns and the interesting textures make for a really cute scarf and I'd have paid £3 or more for them if they'd been for sale as finished objects rather than kits, for sure. They didn't take long at all to make despite the fact that I picked them up and put them down constantly over the course of the week in between bouts of coughing and blowing my nose. I bought them last Friday, finished the first at the weekend and the second on Wednesday. I kind of wish I'd bought the third one I picked up, which was similar to the blue scarf but in red, but at the time I thought it was overkill to get three.

I've got two different projects lined up for this Easter weekend, but it kind of depends how I get on with recovering from this virus.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Travel, work wardrobes and knitting

I've had a busy yet strangely unproductive few days. First at the end of last week I was over in Ireland visiting my new job and ironing out some of the details of starting work. I had the most exhausting day ever -- out on the 8am flight and back on a (delayed) flight that arrived in the UK just before midnight. Lots of standing around in the HORRENDOUS weather we're having at the moment -- it was cold, it was wet, it was basically vile. And then since then I've been at my mum's house for a visit where I have been sickening for something which really hit me last night. Ugh, winter viruses, I hate you. >:(

While I was in Ireland I made a special effort to eyeball what the (very few) other women I met were wearing. Like most women who work in massively male dominated environments (my new department is on the high end of the mix spectrum, at only 80% male) I'm probably more accustomed to trying to translate what the men around me wear into what I should wear, but with there being actually a good two dozen women in the school I decided I should be able to get some hints from the women. In reality, academia tends to be a little "anything goes" (within reason) -- I was at a seminar once where the first speaker was wearing a three piece suit and the second was wearing actual lederhosen and an AC/DC t-shirt. However, I have not, historically, always got my work wardrobe right and it's always been a bit of a traumatic issue for me as a result, so I was careful to look around at what people were wearing while I was there. I'm pretty confident the wardrobe I have/want/want to make is going to be just fine as a result though.

Since I'm away, all I've really been doing crafty-wise though at the moment is knitting scarves from kits. I've finished one and I'm about half way through a second. I'll take photos and post them when I'm home again, but I have to say, it really was exactly the project I needed: quick, easy, with a really satisfying result :D Sometimes we just need the easy stuff, you know?

Monday, 18 March 2013

On Sewing Your Whole Wardrobe

Today in my lunch break I ended up writing a whole screed that probably most people will TL;DR out of on Pattern Review, so I wanted to reproduce it here, not because more people will read it (though I see you, you dozen people who have subscribed to this blog through various RSS readers. Hello!) but because I wanted to put the screed somewhere I can find it again.

It was part of a conversation about the disposable nature of current design. This comes up all the time on PR and it's basically an excuse for people who sew to complain to each other about how trashy RTW clothes are these days and feel self-satisfied that they do sew. Someone remarked, as a part of this conversation that it's just not practical for most people to sew a total wardrobe, and this, on top of a discussion about Overdressed, caused me to write the following about my ambition to one day have a mainly hand-sewn wardrobe:

I think part of the problem with the question "who has time to make an entire wardrobe?" is that in part it depends on how many clothes you think you're going to need to make. If Overdressed is correct, women in the US (and I am pretty sure on average in the UK as well) buy 50-60+ items of clothing per year. If you wanted to match that but sewing your own then yes, that's a really major time investment that most of us just can't make. If you were going to buy 50-60 high quality pieces of fabric and lining and thread and notions and everything else it will also get very expensive very fast.

What I think about my personal wardrobe though -- and I'm not at all saying this is generalizable, but it's what I have noticed about my own clothes -- is that when I was a 50-60+ item a year purchaser, it was never because I was buying all the latest trends or colours. In fact, I am actually a pretty bland dresser -- I am not very fashionable, I tend to wear very similar outfits and colours all the time, adjusted for weather and supplemented with a few trendy items and special occasion outfits. If you're the kind of person who buys 95%+ one-off, very fashionable items with few repeats and few things in your wardrobe that you consider "classic" or "basics" then I don't think sewing your own wardrobe works the same way. You might still do it because you love it, but the hard fact is that it's not cheaper or easier than shopping. But then, not everything needs to be cheaper or easier to be worthwhile, does it?

For me though, my discovery was that what I was actually doing to end up buying 50-60+ items per year was shopping over and over for what I consider to be classic, foundation pieces of clothing. I'd buy the same same basic black work trousers three or four times a year from mid-range high street shops. They just wouldn't stand up to regular wear and regular wash and would look shabby in months. Or they would just never fit quite right to begin with, and I'd end up replacing them with another pair in the (vain) hope that a new pair would fit better. Considering seasonal variations and buying different basic colours (black, navy, etc), I easily bought 10-12 pairs of work trousers every year.

At one point, however, I owned a very expensive pair of black wool lined trousers, beautifully tailored and constructed and happily an absolute perfect fit straight off the hanger. They were CRAZY expensive -- I could have bought 10 pairs of trousers from my usual outlets for the price of that one pair. I bought them but it felt horribly extravagant. Then I wore them. And wore them. And wore them. I wore them twice a week, every week, all autumn/winter/spring for FOUR YEARS and they just did not wear out, ever, or even start to look shabby. One pair of perfect black trousers, insanely expensive though they were, meant not buying 12-16 pairs of cheap black trousers over those four years. I only stopped wearing them when I had a drastic weight change and they no longer fit.

I do think that if I could learn to make trousers like that one perfect pair, I'd be better off overall AND I would not need to make all that many clothes per year. Yes, I'd have to buy high quality fabric, which isn't cheap. I'd also have to invest a lot of my time in fitting, sewing, learning construction techniques, and so on. However, if I made one pair of trousers with great care and good fabric, the cost comparison would not be to one cheap pair I could pick up on the high street, but to 10+ pairs of cheap high street trousers. Or to one pair of crazy expensive trousers that you might have to look for for a YEAR before you find them (if you ever do -- how lucky was I to find a perfect-fit-on-the-hanger pair of trousers to begin with? I've never managed it before or since!)

And, if I could sew my perfect trousers, and considering the longevity of well constructed items, gradually I'd reach a point where I made only 2-3 pairs of trousers per year -- replacing pairs that came to the end of a (hopefully long) life, maybe adding a new colour occasionally, and so on. So I would need to sew a lot less than I bought: 10-12 pairs of work trousers per year that I used to buy versus 2-3 pairs I would make myself. Even better if I found a TNT that I could use regularly or incorporate into new patterns that I was interested in: the big time investment of fitting and adjustment would be behind me.

My dream wardrobe is full of high quality, long-lasting, hard-wearing classics, beautifully fitted and constructed. I aspire to producing 95% of that dream wardrobe myself, by sewing. I am nowhere near achieving that, and it will probably take me years and years to get there. Given how much I fail at sewing and the present relatively poor quality of my output, it could be a very long time indeed before I'm making anything at the standard of those perfect trousers. Maybe it would be cheaper and easier to go out and try to find high quality basics, no matter how crazy expensive they are, and build my dream wardrobe by shopping. But as I said before, "cheaper" and "easier" are not the only definitions of worthwhile.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Reviewed: Ottobre 02-2010-15 "Debra" Skirt (Earth & Spring 6PAC)

If I look like I'm on a roll with making things, it's really more that I'm on a roll with finishing things.

Ottobre 02-2010-15 "Debra"
This is another of the pieces of my Earth and Spring 6PAC that I am working on. I've talked about choosing this pattern before, the upshot of which was that I wanted a something with pockets or other details, found loads of possible patterns and went for this particular pattern because it was the one that I wouldn't have to grade for size.

I have experience of doing bellows or gusset pockets like this from bag-making, and I expected that to be an awkward thing to sew to a skirt, and yes, I was right. In the end though, I'm really pleased with how this skirt came out. I know it's not at all exciting to look at, but it's EXACTLY what I imagined when I set out to make it, and it's the perfect spring/summer neutral-coloured skirt that I wanted.

Ottobre 02-2010-15: Front, side and back view (the turqoise top, btw, is my wearable muslin of Ottobre 02-2013-02)
My review (also, minus my extra notes, at PR):

Pattern Description: From the magazine: "The linen skirt has roomy side pockets and a waistband. The waistline is shaped by gathered sections instead of darts. There is an invisible zipper and a kick vent in the centre back seam."
Front view on Flossie

Pattern Sizing: 34-52. I made my normal Ottobre size: a 46 straight from the pattern.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Hard to say about the photo, since the one photograph of the pattern in the magazine is beyond pitiful. However, this is actually the same pattern as 02-2010-04 "Zaffiro" but just with gathers rather than darts and pockets. It looks very like that image. I think the technical drawing makes the skirt look more A-line than it really is -- it teeters on the brink between straight and slightly A-line.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, very, although I had to read the instructions for the waistband a couple of times before I could figure out what it was I was supposed to be doing. The pattern itself is typically well-drafted and easy to use.
Side view -- check out my pockets!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I chose the pattern because I wanted a casual looking skirt with some 'safari' details. I liked the side pockets, the top-stitching and the length. As it turned out, I severely disliked the way the pattern had you apply the velcro to keep the pockets closed. It is very difficult to get perfect rectangles when you are sewing through velcro and anything other than perfect looks dreadful. In the end I took the velcro off altogether and I am just waiting for some large sew-on poppers to replace them.

Fabric Used:
A medium weight beige cotton twill from eBay. I used exactly 1m of fabric to make the skirt.
Back view, showing the topstitched kick vent.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I removed the velcro from the pockets and replaced them with poppers. On the "design changes I wish I'd made, I don't object to the (small) gathers on the front of the skirt, but in order to get a good fit on the back I had to gather the skirt quite a lot and I don't think this looks as nice as a dart would have done.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don't particularly intend to sew this skirt again -- I like it a lot, but it's quite distinctive. It is a nice, well-drafted pattern though and if you're looking at it with an eye to sewing it, I would recommend it.

Conclusion: I got exactly the skirt I wanted from this pattern, and I'm really pleased with it!


Costs: I bought this fabric on eBay for £3.25/m including p&p and used exactly 1m. I actually bought 2m because originally I was going to use a different pattern. I'm not really sure how I'll use the rest. Plus an invisible zip and poppers, thread and overheads, this skirt cost me about £4.25 ish to make. (My button was free from my mother's collection.)

Time:  New heading! Excluding tracing the pattern and cutting out, I spent more or less 7 hours making this skirt. I would say at least an hour and a half of that was spent sewing and unpicking and sewing and unpicking the pockets, pocket flaps and velcro. I have probably 15 minutes left to do on the skirt -- sew on the back button and the pocket poppers when they arrive, and make the button hole.


+ I love the finished product. I love how it looks on me, I love how it fits, and I love above all that the finished product matches up exactly with what I had in my head before I started.

+ I spent a lot of time on the pockets and sewing and re-sewing them, but it paid off insofar as I really quite like them and I think they look good. I am glad I abandoned the velcro and did something different.

- I wish I had been a little bit more accurate with my contrast thread topstitching on the kick vent. I also wish I had been a little more mindful of the size of the belt loops, since they are actually just slightly too small for my favourite brown belt. These are tiny nit-picks though.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Reviewed: Ottobre 02-2013-02 "Summer Basic" Top

Ottobre 02-2013-02 "Summer Basics"
On my list of TNT patterns and possible TNT patterns one of my easier decisions was that the Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee, which among other things has the advantage of being free, would be my kimono sleeved knit TNT. I like the pattern, I've made it twice and can easily imagine making it many more times. However, it is close fitting and while I like that about it, sometimes I want a t-shirt with more volume to it. Enter the spring/summer 2013 issue of Ottobre Woman, where among the many patterns I liked was a very simple kimono sleeved tee with a relaxed shape called the Summer Basic top.

I made a wearable muslin in turquoise cotton jersey earlier this week and fell in love. It ended up very rough and ready (just turned and zig-zagged the neck and arms, no hem at all on the bottom, some weird seams because I had to do some reshaping of the armhole, etc.) but I wore it on Wednesday all day and loved it. On Thursday, I therefore made two more in black and white to go with my black straight skirt. I'm going to make another in red to go in my Earth and Spring 6PAC. I also went through my queue for the year and slapped this pattern in anywhere where I had thought I might want a simple knit top, so I'm expecting to make MANY more this year. Each top is about an hour long process from uncut fabric to the last threads snipped (sewn mainly on the overlocker) -- the most time consuming part is sewing the bindings.

Two Ottobre Woman 02-2013-02 "Summer Basic" tops
Pattern review (also on PR):

Pattern Description: From the magazine: "The look of the cap-sleeve jersey top can be easily modified by he choice of colour, material and fabric pattern. The top is fairly loose around the waist but fits snugly at the hips." In addition to 02-2013-02, this t-shirt is also listed as 02-2013-16 in a colour blocked version with a small pocket.

This one is my absolute favourite -- the jersey is drapy

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 34-52. Normally my Ottobre size is a 44 top with a large FBA and a 46 waist and hips. As this is a kimono sleeved top and the shoulder size is less important, I decided to go with a cheater's approach. I used a size 48 through the shoulder and bust and tapered down to a 46 waist and hip. It's important to get the waist and hip right in you want the top to fit as the pattern is designed.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Apart from my design changes, yes, very like.


Check out my non-matchy side-seams though /o\

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, they are brief but perfectly adequate. The top is so simple though there's hardly any need to read them if you've made at least one knit top before.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
What appealed to me about this top was principally the shaping of the pattern pieces, skimming the upper body, loose over the midriff and then blousing at the hip. I had no dislikes.

Fabric Used:
A cotton jersey and a viscose jersey with lycra. The absolute best thing about this top is that you only need a little piece of 150cm wide fabric even if you're using the largest sizes of the pattern. You certainly don't need more than 1m and I squeezed my original wearable muslin out of an 80cm scrap.

This is what it looks like "unscrunched" -- long even on me!
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: The neckline of this pattern is wider than I like and risks being the sort of top where you spend the whole day pulling it back over your bra straps. I therefore redrew the neckline 4cm closer to the neck but kept the depth of the scoop intact. I made only one alteration for fit, increasing the armhole by 2.5cm in depth to accommodate my large upper arms. It's notable that I DIDN'T make my standard length adjustment to this top. Ordinarily I add 4-6cm in length to Ottobre patterns because I'm 5'8" and Ottobre's patterns are designed for a height of 5'6". In this case I didn't need to add any length at all even though the top naturally scrunches up around the hip. Shorter sewists might find that the length, unadjusted, produces a lot of fabric around the waist and hip. Note that the shape of the pattern pieces means it would be a bit awkward to take the top up at the hem if you dislike the length after you have cut the fabric.


Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I'm absolutely in love with this pattern and how the finished garment looks on me. I suspect this may become my all-time favourite tee pattern. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a simple relaxed fit t-shirt.

Conclusion: For me, this is the ultimate potato chip pattern: I really can't just make one!
Floral version! Managed to avoid a flower/boob combination!


Costs: I made three versions, each using 1m of fabric -- a wearable muslin in turquoise (not shown) at £2.15/m from eBay; a black and white floral cotton jersey at £4/m from Tissu; and a white and black check viscose and lycra jersey at £5/m also from Tissu. The only other thing I needed was a little bit of cotton stay tape and thread, so these were very inexpensive tops to make.

Back of the floral version. My side seams don't match on this either.


+ You have to love finding a pattern that you want to make a million times. I definitely got better at making it by version 3 as well.

- The only really hard part is the neck and armhole binding, and yeah, that's really not perfect on ANY of the tops I made, but got better as I went along. The problem is stopping the necklines from stretching, which I find annoyingly difficult.

+/- The hardest thing about this pattern is actually that I just want to keep making it. I do not really need to make every piece of jersey I own into a little kimono sleeved tee. Really, I don't.

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Purple Proto-sweater

I managed to get to a turning point on my sweater knitting project this evening -- I took the sleeve stitches off and put them on waste yarn. It kind of looks like a sweater! Sort of. It's not perfect and unfortunately my one big error is right at centre front and unfixable, but I'm pretty pleased with it nevertheless! :D

I also spent my credit card cashback bonus on fabric. I am the worst stashbuster IN THE WORLD, EVER.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Reviewed: McCall's 5431 Skirt (Earth & Spring 6PAC)

I have managed to finish the first of my spring 6PAC, a full twirly skirt made with McCall's 5431. I'm really pleased with it overall! Here's the pattern review (also on PR) as well as some extra photos:

McCall's 5431 in brown -- please excuse my ridiculous shoes, they were the first pair of heels I came across!

McCall's 5431
Pattern Description: From pattern envelope: "Flared skirt has yoke and back zipper closure; skirts A, B have lower edge band contrasts; skirts B, C, D have pocket and pocket band variations; skirt C has belt carriers; skirts C, D have machine-stitched narrow hems."

Pattern Sizing: 6-20. I made a straight 20 but I think I probably should have made an 18.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Except for a couple of design changes, yes, absolutely.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very. This is part of McCall's "Quick and Easy" range and is very straightforward. Even though I made a full lining, I finished everything but the hem in a single afternoon.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I've been thinking about a very simple, full skirt pattern for a while as it's a favourite shape of mine. Originally I'd planned to draft my own semi-circle skirt, but I happened on this pattern going cheap on eBay and jumped on it because I liked the contrast band options and thought I might make the version with pockets at some point as well. I do wish the yoke was just a little bit wider.

The fabric before I made the skirt up
Fabric Used: Mystery synthetic bought inexpensively on eBay in brown with a slightly shiny self-coloured scale/animal print pattern. It's heavier than blouse weight, but really too light on its own for a skirt so I chose to line it. For the lining I used a shot bronze coloured taffeta. I love the fluidity of the two fabrics and think they're a good match to this flared, twirly skirt pattern, but unfortunately the outer fabric creases like crazy whenever I sit down in it.

Shot bronze full lining that I added

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I didn't really make any of the views specifically -- my version is closest to view C, although I omitted the very large pockets that are the most notable feature of that view. My other changes were all trivial. The length of the original pattern is particularly unflattering on me so I adjusted the length of the pattern before I cut out, shortening it by 6cm so it hit exactly at mid-knee when hemmed. As described above, the fabric wasn't really heavy enough on its own and so I chose to do a full lining with a hem 2.5cm shorter than the skirt. I also decided to try out an invisible zip on the skirt and installed it using the Colette tutorial rather than doing a lapped zip as suggested in the instructions.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes to both. I like this pattern a lot and plan to use it several more times. I would definitely recommend it to anyone look for a full twirly skirt pattern.

Conclusion: A great, simple pattern that I am certain to use again.


Costs: The outer fabric was £2.50/m from eBay, so around £3.50 for the piece I used. The lining was £4/m, also from eBay, so around £5.60 for the piece I used. I used an invisible zip (60p) and a hook an eye (5p). Total cost: around £11.50, allowing for thread and other overheads. You might have noticed I never count the cost of the pattern, which I should do really as I had to pay for it -- in this case the pattern cost me £2.80. The main reason I don't usually include the pattern cost though is that I haven't recorded what I paid for all my patterns and I don't know how I'd account for pattern magazines.

Nit-pickery and other comments:

+ I really did wake up one morning with the idea for this skirt fully formed in my mind, and having made it up I can only say that my subconscious clearly has all the best ideas. I bought this fabric because I had bought the same exact fabric in navy and loved it, but I don't actually wear all that much brown.

Totally coincidental almost-matchy side seam
+ I made zero attempt to pattern match at the seams because it was already such a trial even getting the pattern pieces onto the fabric and matching the grainline. However, somehow the side seams still look awesomely matchy. I would like to claim accidental credit for this, but actually it's a consequence of the type of pattern in the fabric. It does make me nervous about the next version I'm planning to make, which has a large pattern, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it I think.

+/- I am really pleased with the fact I managed to install an invisible zip with a minimum of fuss and unpicking, using my new invisible zipper foot for the very first time. On the down side, it's not actually quite as invisible as I might have liked. Still, I am pleased overall with it for a first invisible zipper attempt.

Almost everything I did wrong in one photo :|
- Most of the execution of this skirt is actually pretty great, but I went really really wrong on the yoke. It doesn't match at the zipper, which is annoying enough, but also in general I did a really poor job of getting a nice, even seam when I was connecting the yoke to the main body of the skirt. Part of the problem was the slippery, drapy, stretchy fabric, but more of it was that I just didn't take enough time to sew it well.

- The skirt is just barely the right size, and I only realized this too late to make any alterations. It fits, but it's loose and slides down to hang on my hips. That's fine, but if my weight continues to trend downwards it limits the useful life of the skirt unless I can work out how to alter it. Note to self: use no more than an 18 for the next version!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Earth & Spring 6PAC: Items #1 and #2 plans

Argh, time is just flying past me. I haven't managed to do much for my Earth & Spring 6PAC yet other than assemble some patterns and notions and spend time Thinking Seriously about it, which has resulted in MULTIPLE changes from my original plans, for various reasons.  I have to admit it's not all quite as colour co-ordinated as I would like. I got kind of worked up about that until I remembered that, oh yes, I have a whole existing wardrobe that the 6PAC can fit into and also, while it's preferable not to make a whole pile wardrobe orphans, there are no actual wardrobe police to come get me if it's not all totally co-ordinated. So maybe it's not going to be the perfect co-ordinated "capsule", who cares? I'm better off sewing SOMETHING, partially co-ordinated, than nothing at all because of inertia/freaking out. (If you're thinking 'you're taking this too seriously!', yes. Yes, I am. Apparently I am not constitutionally capable of anything else.) I have managed to settle on the first two items I'm going to sew, and so here are more specifics on those plans.

Item #1: Skirt (McCalls 5431)
McCall's 5431; fabric choice; View C line drawing (which I will be making minus the giant pocketses)
The Earth & Spring 6PAC is really built around my desire to have more brown-as-a-neutral in my spring/summer wardrobe. It started with an idea that apparently ~~~came to me in a dream. I woke up one morning and realized I knew exactly what to do with some brown self-patterned fabric I had bought, loved, but had never really worked out what I was going to do with: make a full, floaty skirt. I have already made a brown skirt but eh, it's wool and not really a spring/summer item and also, I hate how the hem turned out on that skirt and so it's presently in the ugh basket waiting for inspiration on how to fix it. Item #1 is therefore my key item, around which everything else was chosen.

Originally I planned to use the By Hand London tutorial for a simple half-circle skirt, but I prefer skirts with yokes and I also really want a contrast band full skirt for another 6PAC later in the year. I was kind of pondering this problem when I happened across McCall's 5431 second-hand but unused and uncut and in my size on eBay for a really good price. It's the perfect pattern for both of my two planned full-skirt projects and it gets good reviews as well. For this first version I'm not quite making any of the views. It's going to be basically view C, but a little bit shorter and without the giant pockets. I am a little nervous about sewing The World's Longest Hem in my slightly slippery fabric, but I'll figure it out. I'm also going to be lining the skirt, though, so although McCall's call it a "quick and easy" pattern I doubt it will be quite that straightforward.

Item #2: Skirt (Ottobre 02-2010-15 "Debra")

Ottobre 02-2010-15 (terrible shot, srsly); my fabric, looking dingier than it really is; the (mis-leading) line drawing
The second item is a wardrobe staple that I currently don't have, a khaki skirt. I wanted a more casual style, only because the last khaki skirt I owned was also a casual-looking skirt and I was ultra sad when it finally bit the dust.  I had already bought this fabric in anticipation of making a skirt of this type at some point. It is not really that murky colour, the light was terrible when I took that photo. Actually, all the photos of the pattern I've chosen are terrible. That is the only photo in the magazine, and the line drawing makes it look A-line while the pattern pieces suggest it is straight. Fail, Ottobre.

Actually choosing this pattern was harder than I expected. In my original notes I wrote "khaki safari skirt" and I had an image in my mind of what I wanted: something straight-ish, with some details like pockets, topstitching or straps. Then I had to try to match my mental image to patterns that were actually available and came unstuck. It's not that my perfect pattern doesn't exist -- I had too many choices! However, a lot of them involved a lot of extra work, particularly since the many really nice Burda patterns I found were all in size 34-42 only and would therefore need grading up. Grading is fine in the ordinary run of things, but I wasn't excited, particularly, at the idea of repositioning a lot of pockets and other details. In the interests of not driving myself crazy I've settled on something at the simple end of the spectrum that needs no grading. I figure I can always make a more complicated version some other time. For this version, I'm using Ottobre 02-2010-15, the "Debra" skirt. This review is way better for showing what the skirt will look like, and is also in a similar colour. It's just a straight skirt with some side pockets, really, with an invisible zip and a bunch of topstitching.
Amy Butler Everything Wristlet

In other news, I've assembled all the parts for what might well be the most expensive bag I've ever made. I mentioned last time that I plan to make an Everything Wristlet, the larger version, for the wedding I am going to in June. I also decided I wanted to make it in leather and silk. I've worked a little with silk, but never with leather before, so that should be exciting. I am still trying to decide whether to make a trial version and then shove it on my shop, just to see whether there are any challenging construction steps before I cut into the leather. It's really not that challenging a pattern, from a read-through, but the leather was so relatively expensive that I'm nervous about it.

And in OTHER other news, my knitting is going really well. I'm still doing the increases for the shoulders at the moment (I am knitting top down) but I whizz around my circular needle a few times every day and it seems to get the job done. Watch this space for jumper news, I guess!