Saturday, 25 May 2013

Make or Buy?

When I think about what I want to sew for myself rather than buy, I usually end up with a long list that basically boil down to "everything!" It's actually probably faster to list the things I DON'T want to make, based on what is in my closet right now:

  1. Denim blue jeans. I'm ambivalent about this, actually. On the one hand, I really like the little details you get on jeans from shops: the leather label, the rivets and metal buttons, the embroidered pockets, the dye/bleach treatments etc. It seems like it would be a lot of effort for the home sewer to replicate most of that. On the other hand, the fit I get from store bought jeans is... not great. Probably not something I'll make in a hurry though, even if I do decide to try. However, other trousers/fabrics made in the general style of jeans: a distinct possibility, see below about trousers.
  2. Underwear. I know there are people who love making knickers, but I can't be bothered. I made one pair and was pretty much done with the whole idea.
  3. Knitted socks. I hate socks anyway, but if I must wear them I don't want chunky knit socks at all. This is a shame because everyone I know who makes socks finds it endlessly amusing, but I just wouldn't wear them.
  4. Swimsuits. I buy the kind with the built in bra anyway, see below, and I don't have a clue where you get the fabric.
  5. Bras. Yes, store-bought bras are expensive and often don't last very long, but the sheer volume of stuff you need to make bras is also expensive. Also, all the patterns I've see online are for underwired (I refuse to wear underwired except for rare moments when I need some kind of special occasion bra) and for regular sizes rather than my ridiculous size. I think bra making makes more sense if you're super into pretty pretty underwear and you're a standard size. I'm such a crazy size to begin with and I only like really basic colours and styles, so it's not worth it.
  6. Sportswear. Again, this is a fabric problem as much as anything.
  7. Polo shirts. Fabric problem, again.
  8. Sweaters. My need for sweaters is probably always going to exceed my knitting speed, so I am never going to switch to 100% hand-knitted.
That leaves, well, pretty much everything else that comprises my normal wardrobe -- shirts, tops, skirts, t-shirts, jackets, coats etc etc. The big exception is trousers, which are on my dither list.

The thing is I have always felt like I get a decent fit from shops for trousers -- occasionally I'll find brands that have a hip/waist ratio that doesn't work for me (as in, it assumes I have a waist, which I don't, much). However, normally I have felt like I get moderately good fit from a couple of high street shops and I've been happy with that. But then recently, it seems like EVERY SINGLE pair of trousers has gone for pockets that open vertically down the side of the trouser, which I hate. It looks fine standing at first, then I sit down and the pockets sag sideways and open out, and then stay there when I get up again. Plus, the pocket opening is so huge and angled in such a way that nothing stays IN my pocket. I prefer pockets that open on the horizontal plane, or else, and I know this is heresy to the pocket-loving, in formal trousers, no pockets at all (jeans or casual trousers with no pockets are stupid; tailored trousers with no pockets I don't mind).

Also, the more I sew, the more I realize that the fit I thought was okay is actually just "better than the fit I get for tops" which is not saying very much at all. Finally, probably my most worn items in my work wardrobe are trousers, every time. I have made a lot of skirts and I plan to wear them more than I have in previous jobs. However, if I am reaching for my favourite, easiest to wear, most comfortable work clothes, it's probably always going to be a well-fitting pair of trousers no matter how many skirts and dresses I make.

Lurking in the background though is my recollection of how many stories of nightmare-ish trouser fitting have I read. More than enough to make me scared of trying! So trousers are on my dither list. Apart from sewing flies, which I wouldn't necessarily have to do as I could always do an invisible side zip sort of trouser, and which I am hoping to try out this summer anyway with a fly front skirt, there isn't really any massive *technical* sewing involved with trousers, as far as I can tell. When you look at Burda, almost all the trouser patterns are rated 2 dots, with a few 2.5s and a handful of 3s. I'm tempted to use an Ottobre pattern to try trousers, for the possibly ridiculous reason that my Ottobre PJ shorts seem to fit really well (unlike the New Look PJ shorts, which look ridiculous. I don't care, I wear them to bed, but it doesn't make me excited about New Look trouser patterns). If I make them at all, though, it's not going to be right at the end of the year -- this summer I've already got planned out, September is the mini-wardrobe competition on PR that I am determined to at least try to go in for (and, no surprises, I've more than halfway planned it already), so it would be October at the earliest.

What about you? Do you have a list of "no, never" or a list of "convince me I'm wrong about this" or a list of "I would, but I am scared!" for your sewing?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The fabric stash of doom

This is my nightmare
I am not, ordinarily, a person who is hugely excited by shopping or acquiring things. In fact, just the opposite -- I often have these crises where I feel like I just have too much stuff, too many things that I don't need and serve no productive purpose. I don't like knick-knacks, I don't collect things -- I don't even like the idea of collecting things. I'm by no means a minimalist or an ascetic, though. I do have a lot of books, partly because I'm an academic and books are kind of part of my job, and partly because reading is my major form of entertainment other than sewing, but I don't collect them exactly. My books are beaten to hell, and I only keep what I'm likely to re-read. It's just that I like to re-read a lot of my books. I would hate to collect first editions, where you can't read them in the bath and have to keep them in a special cabinet and only look at them once a year.

Anyway, the upshot of all of this is: I am not really a big collector of stuff. Or I wasn't, right up to the day where I decided to start sewing, and then suddenly I started collecting things: fabric, first and foremost, but also notions like buttons and thread and trim. I've been sewing almost exactly two years now, and I've gone from having my sewing machine and a little box of fabric to having eight tubs of fabric, two boxes of patterns and pattern magazines, boxes of notions, an overlocker, a sewing box full of thread, and what feels like a million other things. It's SO MUCH stuff.

The worst offender is the fabric. I have just over 200m of garment fabric and about the same amount of home dec remnants and quilting fabrics that I use for bags. It's a huge investment in monetary terms, it takes up a huge amount of space. I started a thread on PR because as I've been getting ready to move I actually put all of my stash, previously distributed around the house, into one place, and the sheer size and scale of it filled me with horror. As a result of the thread I had a PM conversation with another PR user about stash and hoarding, and as part of it I tried to describe my dream fabric stash, which I am reproducing below for the sake of posterity (and actually, so I remember I said it).

The first thing to say is that, OK, look, I doubt my little "collections" of clothes I've taken to making impress anyone but me (and I am fine with that) but I am LOVING making my little diagrams with the descriptions and putting together little capsules of clothing that go together. Initially I sort of felt it was a bit stifling, but then I realized the problem was I was trying to look too far ahead. I am quite happy to be working on one collection and planning the next, but if I try to look further out it all feels overwhelmingly like work, like I have a schedule and I have to stick to it or else the sewing productivity police will come and beat me up.

At any rate, when thinking about how these collections and the idea of stashing fabric interact, this is what I said:
Mostly the way I've been [putting together my collections] is figuring out one item that I really really want to make from a specific fabric in my stash, and then co-ordinating other clothes around it. ... I'm finding it's almost as entertaining imagining my "collections" as it was to fabric shop, and I am drawing mainly from my stash plus just a few extra things.

As a result, my stash preference is probably not just "one project ahead". I like the idea of having a few fabrics in my stash that I've bought just because I see them and love them to pieces, fabrics that can become an "inspiration" fabric for a collection. That would satisfy my desire to browse fabric shops, but it also means I should limit my purchases to things that really are different and special and inspiring.

So my ideal stash (which is not at all what I actually have!) is probably as follows: some amount of amazing, unusual, gorgeous "inspiration" fabrics -- something really special that later become the cornerstone of a collection. Plus, whatever fabrics I need for the collection I am working on at that point. Based on my experience to date, that is probably about 15-20m of fabric in total, depending on what specific items are in my plan.

And finally, probably [I'd also have in stash] some things I am getting together as I plan the next collection, so that when I finish the current one I have everything I need for the next one.

What I DON'T want to do is stash fabrics that are e.g: really boring and that I am always going to be able to go out and pick up at any time, like basic fabrics in solid colours (cotton, or wool, or jersey); lining fabrics; or fabrics that aren't really inspiring and also don't fit with other things I already have. The last one is probably the most important: I either want to buy fabrics where they are truly something special, or else that are immediately functional for something I will be making in the next few weeks. At the moment, I have quite a lot of fabrics that don't really speak to me all that strongly and also that I don't know when I will use, and that to me is really quite wasteful and depressing to have around the house.
In my two capsules so far, my cornerstone fabrics were (a) the brown crocodile woven I made into a skirt for the Earth and Spring collection; and (b) the floral print I used for the skirt in the Wedding Belles collection. However, when I look at the rest of my fabric stash, I'm disappointed by how few such cornerstone fabrics I have in amongst the 200+m I have stashed. There are some, don't get me wrong, but there are far more very ordinary fabrics. Some of them are kind of building block fabrics: they're good, useful fabrics, but nothing special. There are some that it makes no sense for me to have in stash at all. I can buy plain red jersey anywhere, why did I feel the need to buy 3m and hoard it? It's a really nice colour and all, but it's not special in any way.

After confronting my epic fabric stash, I initially told myself that I was not to buy any fabric, at all, for the rest of 2013 except for (a) one tiny piece of white sateen I need for a knock off of that blue and white skirt and (b) lining fabrics. However, I'm going to add one more clause. On a "one in, one out" basis, I can buy cornerstone fabrics -- really amazing, special, inspiring fabrics that are going to make special amazing garments (insofar as my sewing skills hold up to that description) -- but it has to be a really mindful purchase, not just a random grab from a fabric shop. Other than that, I really do want to reduce my stash. I'd like to finish the three years in Ireland that I am about to embark on with a totally different sort of stash, one that is much closer to my ideal. Or, that is what I think right now. Ask me again in 6 months if I still think that!

Above all though, I want to let go of worrying about any particular fabric I use and whether the pattern I pick is the right one, or how sad it would be if I ruined the fabric. There will always be more beautiful fabric. I'm in the privileged financial situation that ruining one piece of fabric is not going to really have any effect on my wallet. And above all, it's far more fun to sew fabric than to hoard it and have it hanging about the house in tubs.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

One Last Project & Summer Plans

I had one last little sewing project I wanted to get done before I packed up my sewing room for good in this house. My last project is something very familiar: an Ottobre Woman 02-2013-02. No, I'm not tired of this pattern yet, even though this is my fifth that I have made, including the wearable muslin that I wear every week without fail (I love the colour, even if the actual sewing leaves a lot to be desired).

The fabric is this rather nice self-patterned synthetic jersey. You can actually see the pattern in the fabric better in the detail shots -- it's quite subtle. I bought this fabric from eBay, from the woman who was selling her late mother's fabric stash for months before last Christmas (I bought a LOT of fabric from her. A LOT. At one point I felt like maybe I should just empty my bank account into hers, is what I'm saying.) It was one of those things where I was buying two or three other pieces from her auctions that week and nobody else had bid on this piece, and my bid on it sort of... snuck in there /o\. The reason I originally hesitated was the piece is so HUGE -- 5.25m -- but at £2/m including p&p it was so cheap I thought I might as well get it. I used just a metre for this top.

I changed the pattern a little. The first change was unintentional -- the pattern was still folded back from where I'd changed it to be narrower at the waist for the wedding outfit top and I didn't notice until I'd already cut it out. Oops. The other thing I did was add a 5cm wide sleeve band (using a 10cm wide piece of fabric and folding it in half) instead of just binding the sleeves.  I think this turned out really nicely and I will definitely be using it again.

I also tried a different method of attaching the neck band and LOOK! It isn't stretched out! I am MADE OF GLEE that I might finally have cracked my neck binding problem. \o/

This top was part of the Wedding Belles 6PAC. I had planned to scratch it but it only took an hour to whip it up today. I could not be more pleased to have it available to wear with some of my other items. Overall, this was a great note to end my sewing in this house.

In two weeks exactly I'll be settling into a temporary home in Dublin. A small selection of projects plus my sewing machine are all coming with me to Ireland for the summer, but the rest of my stuff including my serger and my excessively vast fabric stash are going into storage until I find a proper place to live and get my belongings shipped over. I don't have a lot of space in my car so spontaneity with my sewing plans has had to be exchanged for careful planning and organizing.

Here then are my summer sewing plans:
The first order of business: finish off my two collections from earlier in the year.

The Earth & Spring collection was all browns and reds. I have another lovely linen fabric to use to make a second jacket using New Look 6911. That will finish off the "collection" since I am scratching one piece of it altogether  (a red jersey top) making it a 5PAC rather than a 6PAC. This jacket is really intended most of all to go with the semi-circle skirt I made from McCall's 5431 in darker brown.

The second piece is a skirt using the remnant of the fabrics I used for my wedding outfit jacket which will finish off my Wedding Belles collection (instead of another jersey top as I'd originally planned). I don't have a huge amount of either the linen or the lining I picked out, so it had to be a simple skirt. I've picked Simplicity 8664, which I've made a couple of times before. That will give me the option of wearing the jacket and skirt as a suit, or wearing the skirt with some white linen blouses I already own or the top I made for the wedding.

Moving on from my 6PACs, I also need some PJ shorts for summer. This is kind of the most boring project ever, but if you need PJs, you have to make PJs! I've made this Ottobre pattern before and I really like them.  I'm going to make one pair of shorts and then see if I can play with the pattern and make one pair knee length. The fabric for this is cute -- a blue and white border print.

Also a border print is the fabric I've picked out for the Lorenna Buck Maxi Skirt. This is a free pattern I found while idly surfing the net. I am going to have to grade it, but since it's not so much a pattern as a tutorial it shouldn't be a problem. The fabric is, ugh, a georgette, so I'm already anticipating weeping buckets over it, but it's such a great print/colour and I so want a floaty maxi skirt like that for a hot summer day (assuming we HAVE a hot summer day ever) that I am willing to suck it up.

Finally, I've included a mini collection of three items: a skirt and two blouses. Here is my inspiration for the skirt:

From Alterations Needed
This is from the blog Alterations Needed. I love her outfits, even though the blogger and I could not be further apart in terms of size, body shape, and clothing budget. I saw this outfit and was smitten by the skirt. Investigating further, I found that it is from Nordstrom's and costs a horrifying £170 (plus postage!). Also, even if I had that sort of cash (spoiler: I will NEVER have this kind of cash to spend on a skirt) this blogger is very petite and on me, as on the Nordstrom's model, the skirt would hit mid-thigh which, no.

I'm not going to make an exact copy, because those kind of pleats at the waist do me no favours. Instead, I picked out a Burda pattern and I'll fiddle it to make a two colour skirt. The other reason for picking that particular pattern (Burda 03-2010-123) is that it includes a fly front, and fly fronts are on my list of skills to learn this summer.

Also on my list of things to learn how to do: collars, cuffs and general shirt-making techniques, and so to go with the skirt I've got a blue glazed cotton and a white cotton herringbone shirting fabric to make up as blouses using a Burda pattern from 05-2012. I can never have too many white and blue blouses and those will go with various other things already in my wardrobe in addition to this skirt.
Overall, I feel like I have a good mix of projects planned for the summer: some easy, some more time-consuming; some repeats and some new skills. Enough to keep me going this summer, anyway!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Wedding Outfit! (New Look 6911, McCalls 5431, Ottobre 02-2013-02)

In exactly a month I am going to be in London getting ready to celebrate my friends N and L who are having a civil partnership ceremony. I always say they are getting married but unfortunately they will actually miss the transfer from the "civil partnership" to being "married" by a few months, which is a shame. Anyway, it's not a traditional sort of wedding, but I wanted to wear something floofy and summer-wedding-y, and the bigger challenge was I also wanted to make it 100% myself. Since I am moving to Ireland in 2 weeks and will not have Flossie (my dressmaker's dummy) or my camera with me, I had to take photos today:

The Wedding Outfit: Jacket (New Look 6911), skirt (McCall's 5431) and top (Ottobre 02-2013-02 hack)
This oufit is made of three pieces: a turquoise 100% linen jacket made with New Look 6911, my first ever piece of clothing that could even remotely be described as 'tailored'; a semi-circle skirt made with McCall's 5431 in white taffeta and white and turquoise georgette, with a white polycotton lining; and a white 'silk touch' jersey with stretch lace in white, made with a hack of my favourite jersey top pattern, Ottobre 02-2013-02. I also previously made the clutch I will be carrying.

I made the skirt first. It's a pattern I've made and reviewed before and liked a lot the first time. Since the size 20 was a little bit big, this time I made the size 18 which fits much better. As before I made the skirt up straight out of the envelope with no pattern adjustments. However, this time, I upped the complexity quite a bit in terms of fabrics used and the number of layers.
Skirt: Clockwise from upper left: front view, side view with ruching, textured taffeta layer, lace hem on taffeta layer with cotton interlining
There are basically three layers of fabric. The top layer is a lightweight polyester georgette in white with turquoise flowers, bought as a remnant from eBay. The waistband and the second layer are made of textured white taffeta, also bought from eBay though this time by the metre. It's officially curtain fabric, apparently, but eh, whatever. I bought the textured taffeta rather than plain because I wanted a fall back plan in case the georgette overlay didn't work. As it is, it's very pretty but you can't really see it.

The taffeta was also polyester which is gross against the skin and also even the two top layers together weren't totally opaque, so I decided to underline the taffeta layer in inexpensive white polycotton (using my favourite underlining/bound seam method, which produced gorgeous results every single time). At the end I hemmed the taffeta layer with white lace on the inside. The overlay is loose over the top of the skirt (rather than sewn into the seams), so it has a bound slit where the zip is so you can take the skirt off, and I used french seams throughout. I used 48mm wide lace on the hem of the overlay and ruched the bottom 13cm (including the lace) up the side seams in order to create the frothiest skirt I could.

Inside: white polycotton underlining with bound seams
Sounds great, right? But actually, oh my god, that OVERLAY. I am NEVER EVER doing anything with georgette again. It was a nightmare from start to finish. It slid around when I was pinning the pattern and trying to cut it and I ended up having to recut one panel from a very scant amount of fabric. It shredded every time I tried to manipulate it. When I hung the skirt overnight, the bias stretch went crazy and the hem ended up all over the place (hence the deep lace at the hem, it covers a lot of wavy hem sins). To be honest, I was so sick of the overlay at the end that only the fact that I would be deeply uncomfortable in a plain white skirt at a wedding and didn't have the time or money to make a whole new skirt saved this skirt from being a wadder. In the end though, I am pretty happy with it. It's twirly and frothy and wedding-y in the extreme!

For a break, the next thing I made was the much easier top. This is just the same Ottobre Woman pattern I've made several times already but again with a little bit of a hack for wedding purposes.

Wedding top, hacked Ottobre 02-2013-02 (front and back view)
The standout feature of the Ottobre top is the relaxed curve of the side seam and the fact it's intended to puddle at the hips. I wanted to make the top so it would not be quite so full at the waist so that it would fit better under my jacket. I just re-drew the side seam to be straighter and sewed it up. The big hack was a reprise of my previous Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee hack. I moved the seams at the shoulder and introduced a second fabric that covers the top of the shoulder to about the shoulder blade.

Fabric wise, I really wanted silk jersey for this top. Then I saw the actual price of silk jersey (£30/m, anyone?) and went with something a little less bank account breaking. The fabric is called "silk touch" and it's a very nice lycra jersey that does, indeed, feel like silk. On the back, I used a floral stretch lace in white, having learned from the previous attempt to do a yoke that it would work better with a stretch fabric. Both fabrics are from Tissu, easily my favourite online shop for knits.

The top went together really easily and quickly except for the neck binding. I am in despair over my neck binding problems. They always stretch out and I just don't know how to prevent it when I'm sewing. It drives me insane.

The very last thing I made was the jacket, mainly because I really had to work up my courage to make it. And yet, it was way easier than I ever expected and I looooove the outcome, even if it's not without problems. You can read my Pattern Review here, but here are some extra thoughts. Also, totally co-incidentally, I happened to make this while the Natural Fibre competition is on, and while I have exactly zero expectation of getting even 1 vote, I decided to put it into the competition
just for a laugh.

I am really pleased with the pattern I chose because, as mentioned previously, it allowed me to use a previous attempt at an armhole princess pattern as a starting point. It's also really really simple -- there's literally nothing to do except construction seams and seam binding. I am kind of amazed at how good my life decisions were as far as this jacket is concerned.

Seam binding on the inside of the jacket.

For instructions, I did use the New Look instructions, but I also used two PR courses for further assistance: Create a Jacket Muslin and Sew a Designer Unlined Jacket, both by Angela Wolf. I got them ages ago in the sale (and they are on sale right now as well!). I wouldn't pay full price for them, but I am happy with what I got for the lower price I paid back in January-ish.

Is it weird that I almost like the inside more than the outside? The seam binding is all done with a Liberty cotton print that I got from the factory shop in Lancaster. I am no fan of Liberty in the ordinary run of things -- I tend to find the prints fussy and old-fashioned -- but there's no denying that it makes some gorgeous bias tape for seam binding.

The main fabric is 100% linen from Fabrix, which is my actual local-ish fabric shop also in Lancaster. I have to admit I squealed when I found the perfect linen to match the georgette skirt, and not even too painfully expensive. The linen was GORGEOUS to work with, except for a slight tendency to shred that the seam binding happily covers up. The only problem is that oh my GOODNESS does it ever crease. It's going to look like a RAG by the end of the day at the actual wedding. The photos above were taken STRAIGHT after I ironed it, and it still looks creased like you wouldn't believe.
Without buttons; the sleeve problem
The buttons in the main shot are not actually sewn on yet. I don't think they are the buttons I am going to use in the end. Too big, not the right colour. I'm tempted to go for something other than buttons -- maybe snaps? Or hooks? Still thinking about this, anyway.

As far as problems go, I really only had one, and that was easing one of the sleeves in. One of he sleeves went in PERFECTLY, but the other kept getting tiny snags, which you can see above on the right. I unpicked the worst of it and managed to massage it down to just these two tiny pleats, but the fabric was starting to fray very badly so I couldn't risk unpicking it again. You really can't see it on the finished garment, but I know it's there and it annoys me. However, it's a HUGE boost to my confidence that I got the sleeves in as well as I did -- I had visions of being there for multiple hours just setting the sleeves, but it really wasn't anywhere near as time consuming or difficult as I thought.

Gosh, this has been a mammoth post. Overall, despite all the problems with the skirt and the nerves I had about making a jacket, I'm really genuinely thrilled with my wedding outfit. It's not perfect, but it's good enough that I won't have any qualms about wearing it. One last note: the cost. Definitely not cheap, is all I am going to say. For just the fabrics plus the lace for the skirt, it hit around £60, and that's without taking into account patterns, the muslin for my jacket, overheads, etc. I was kind of aghast at this until I started thinking about what I would have had to pay for an outfit if I had bought it. Bear in mind I can rarely get fitted jackets that actually FIT unless I go to Pepperberry. The closest thing they have to my jacket is this little lightweight blazer, which I guarantee would not be made with half the care that I put into mine, and oh, by the way, costs £65. So, I am calling my outfit a win, even at £60+. :D

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Be not afraid (because it just wastes time); or, New Look 6911

I had a sudden surge of Wedding Outfit related productivity since my last post. First of all, let me remind you what the wedding outfit consists of:

Ignore the clothes on the right for time being -- I've made the skirt already but the two tops I am taking out of my plan. I am definitely not taking my overlocker to Ireland when I move in a fortnight as I won't have room. It will have to follow when I move all the rest of my belongings in August/September. Therefore, I will not be sewing any knits for the next few weeks. (Yes, I know you can sew knits on a regular machine but I much prefer to overlock, and I can live without those tops.)

On the left though is The Wedding Outfit. So far I've made the skirt and the knit top. The top was really easy -- it's just a hack of my favourite Ottobre pattern, adding in a lace back panel. I like how it turned out a lot, although as usual my neck binding is not quite perfect.

The outstanding item was the jacket, and I have to be honest, I've been terrified of it from the outset. This fear turned out to be totally groundless, and actually I am kind of annoyed with myself, because I stopped sewing for a few weeks because I was feeling so intimidated by the jacket. What a waste of time!

As you can see from the image, it's an armhole princess jacket pattern, New Look 6911. I'm using view B, just like the model is wearing. It's ultra simple -- unlined, no collar, no detailing, nothing to do at all really except sew construction seams. It's really about as basic as you can get with a jacket pattern, which made it seem like a great first jacket to make.

My main worry has been fitting, and also setting in the sleeves. Fitting-wise, I've made up a muslin over the last couple of days and it was... actually pretty easy. For one, I have actually done the armhole princess seam adjustment before, when I tried to make an empire waist tunic. I just slapped the boob portion of that pattern on top of the side front pattern piece and adjusted it to the same size. I had to play about a little bit with the width of the pattern pieces at waist and hip to get a decent fit, and it's still not quite perfect, but that's pretty trivial and I can live with where I'm at. I also made a couple of other minor adjustments, mainly rounded back, full upper arm and a bit of a shoulder adjustment.

Is the fit perfect? No, not at all, and I'm sure I'll find ways to improve the fit of jackets and princess seams as I make more and refine my fitting. However, it is definitely good enough for a first jacket attempt. Less positively, I'm still really struggling to set in a sleeve without getting that annoying puff of fabric at the sleeve head. I need to do a search and see if there are any recommendations for how to deal with that.

However, my big epiphany is this: the fit of the muslin, however imperfect, is already better than BOTH of the RTW tailored items (one jacket, one coat) I have bought in the last six months. The armhole of the muslin is sort of frustrating me because it's a bit wrinkled at the back and not quite the right shape at the bottom, but it's already better than the armhole of the formal jacket I bought from Long Tall Sally, which is so low that any time I move my arm the whole jacket pulls completely out of shape. The fit of the waist/hip versus the bust is not perfect on my muslin, but it's already better than the waist/hip fit of the Pepperberry trench coat I bought, which fits through the bust and waist but flares out ridiculously at the hip. I have the perfect fabric. I have a pattern I like. The finished product isn't going to be perfect, but I am more and more certain that it's going to be better than anything I could buy, no matter how imperfect it is. Plus, I'm planning to make the inside really pretty in a way that no shop is going to. I made some gorgeous cotton print bias binding to bind my seams for a start.

More construction details about the jacket over the next couple of weeks. I have to say though, so far making the muslin has been an enormous boost to my confidence. Let's hope that stays true as I start cutting out the "real" fabric!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Not dead

Well. That was a totally unplanned hiatus.

What happened was that I had a series of illnesses, problems, crises and other dramas and sewing and blogging were among the casualties. I'm sort of back -- for a bit. However, all the drama is now ramping up to THREE WEEKS TO GO until I move countries. I still haven't worked out if I am going to be able to fit my sewing machine and whatnot into my car when I go over travelling light for the summer. I am going to try, but the problem is you can't just take the machine, you've got to take all your other stuff as well. If I can't fit it in, it'll be a forced 3 months off all craftiness until I find a permanent place to live and my sewing machine is shipped over. If I do manage to take it, I might try to put together packages of specific projects with me so that I don't end up trying to take my entire sewing room with me. Also, I am going to put my knitting bag in as well and try to get that done.

Needless to say, the whole 6PAC thing has fallen by the wayside. I have managed to get part of The Wedding Outfit finished, but I've decided to hold off photos and discussion until after the wedding. It's going to be a bit frantic trying to get the rest of it finished before I leave, but I will give it my best shot.

One thing I am really glad of: I didn't even try to do Me Made May. I'll definitely try to do it next year if it runs again though. In the meantime, I'm really loving seeing everyone else's Me Made May posts. It kind of makes me excited for when I am able to do the same.

In the meantime, I am doing a kind of Project 33 for June-August while I am travelling light -- more on this in another post. :D