Friday, 28 November 2014

Patrones Plus

Is anyone among my readers interested in obtaining this very recent Patrones Extra Plus Size "Party Special" from me for the price of postage to your location? It's allegedly a special party clothes version. I actually think it is rather nice and as always there are a good number of patterns. As a reminder, Patrones' size range for their plus clothes is from size 50 to 58, and here is their size chart (in cm). I would offer to give this away entirely for free, but I have to be honest, the postage to the various corners of the world when I did my sewing anniversary giveaway in August was rather stunningly expensive so I'm afraid I can't. Alternatively, I am sure I could reach some kind of pattern swap arrangement if preferred. (I will also, of course, provide more details on the magazine if you would like. Also, please do not be shy if you interested but have never commented/spoken to me before, I am always lurker friendly.)

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

In which I binge on patterns

As it turned out, my illness last week turned into a full-blown and generally grim relapse. Since this is a sewing blog and not a boring-you-to-death-with-my-health-issues blog, I will just say: I really hate this illness, and I really hate the side-effects of the medication I take (I had to triple my dose to get myself back into something like a non-relapsed state, which is appalling) and I could really do without any of this. >:( Ugh.

However, I have now recovered sufficiently to at least blog about sewing, if not actually sew quite yet, and I am very sad (or at least, my bank balance is very sad) to inform you that one of the ways I distracted myself from misery over the last 10 days or so was to buy a great many patterns, mainly on eBay. Most of them were cheap vintage patterns costing only a couple of quid each including postage, or back issues of Burda from a few years ago. The vintage envelope patterns are mainly jackets (in my never ending and probably fruitless pursuit of an ideal that I have yet to abandon) and blouses, because I'm also kind of obsessed with the idea of continuing to make my own woven tops. I may not have made many of them, by volume, but I really love the tops I've made and I'm imagining a lot of similar sewing in the future.

One exception to my vintage jacket/blouse purchases: this older Vogue wrap dress pattern (Vogue 2764, probably from the 70s, based on the hair). I might give the GIANT RUFFLES a miss, but I like the understated look in view A and I think the non-contrast shawl collar version (B, on the left) is pretty cute too.

I also really love my Burda back issues. I only buy magazines from the last 10 years, and I always look at the images/tech drawings on that one Russian site to make sure I actually want the issue, but even though I have a LOT of back issues now and I still manage to pick up one or two more when they come up for sale. Generally speaking, I find I don't want to buy the midsummer issues. Apart from the June/July issues I've received as part of my regular subscriptions since 2012, I've only ever bought 1 July issue. This is because, as is well-established, Burda summer issues tend to be much more ridiculous than other times of the year, and also living in the UK does not incline me towards owning a lot of beachwear anyway.

At any rate, in pursuit of a project I may or may not follow through on in 2015, I was looking through a whole pile of Burda magazines last night. There are seriously so many gorgeous patterns in those magazines, it really made me want to sew ALL THE THINGS, forever and ever. I feel like more sewing from Burda in 2015 is called for.

I love these trousers from a recently-acquired back issue of Burda (01-2005-120, to be specific). Some really nice, albeit barely visible in this photo, details especially in the way the belt carriers/waist are put together.)

In more contemporary pattern news, something I have dearly wanted to happen for ages has come to pass, and Style Arc have started to sell their patterns as e-patterns via Etsy.  I was immediately BESIDE MYSELF with glee because I have wanted their Nina cardigan pattern forever and ever but could not make myself pull the trigger given the price/shipping thing. And now it's for sale electronically, hurrah! Needless to say, I bought it immediately. At the moment they don't have all their patterns up, but given the shop has been up for 10 days and they've made 250 sales already, I am pretty sure it is going to stick around and grow. I feel like a LOT of Style Arc's recent top patterns would make for fantastic e-patterns and I have everything crossed that those will start to go up online. There have been several recently that I've really wanted to buy but couldn't justify paying for the paper version + shipping. I am more than happy to pay the digital prices they are charging right now.

I don't often buy Big 4 because they're expensive here but also exciting to me is that this week (until November 30th) that Leanne Marshall coat that everyone went nuts for is the Simplicity/New Look UK pattern of the week (i.e. for sale for £2.95 instead of £8.15). I jumped on that so fast I almost sprained my mouse finger in my eagerness to click BUY IT NOW. I don't have anything like a suitable fabric for this and I am rather put off by the fact that every review so far is like, "it's fine until you get to the zip and then DDDD:". However, I just love that collar/hood and had to have it.

Technical drawing of My Image S/S 2015

By contrast, something I am not sure at all I have to have is the latest My Image S/S 2015. I saw the announcement on Facebook last night that it was out (or is due to come out very soon and is available to view/pre-order). You can browse the magazine to see the garments, but the technical drawings kind of speak for themselves. For me personally, I feel like this is rather repetitive of previous Spring/Summer issues of My Image, and there's nothing in there that I feel like I have to have. I probably most like M1507 in the magazine images, but I am thoroughly underwhelmed by the technical drawings.

And thus concludes my pattern binge! Or, that concludes it for now at least. /o\

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

I am stuck

This is a Minecraft creeper face
I'm in a sewing slump at the moment, and it's because I'm stuck. I'm kind of sick at the moment (the annoying return of the Medical Mystery Illness, which is, alas, still mysterious over a year later) so I can't really get on with the (easy) gift sewing that I need to finish up before early December. I'm making a Swoon Scarf Neck Cardigan for my sister-in-law (my own purple one being a MAJOR hit with me, as wearer, and also receiving many unsolicited compliments from other people) and backpacks with Minecraft patches for the kids. (They are OBSESSED with Minecraft, so I am making them Creeper backpacks using patches I ordered from the internet.) Neither project is particularly difficult, but I'm a bit movement restricted this week due to illness and so I can't busy myself with those projects while I mull over the thing I am stuck on.

Part of the problem is that at the moment I only need a very limited wardrobe. I try to be quite strict with myself and keep my wardrobe inside a maximum number of items, and only make things that I need and know I'll wear. At the moment, as I spend most of my time at home, all I really need is stuff to lounge around in, plus jeans and sweaters for when I go out to the shops etc. I am reasonably well supplied with most of the above, especially after making a whole pile of knit tops and trousers suitable for lounging recently. I really don't need to make any of the kinds of things I made through the first half of the year (skirts and dresses for work) or any other more formal wear. Plus, while I do love the two Ottobre 05-2012-07 and the Carme blouses I made and wear them all the time, I really don't need to make any more, even though I have some nice fabrics in stash ear-marked for exactly that.

What that leaves me with in terms of active projects is: making a casual winter jacket or coat to wear with jeans; finding a couple of great casual stretch and non-stretch trouser patterns suitable for stretch denim and cord, and non-stretch cord and twill; and making two new bags, one for day-to-day and one to take to the gym. I figure I can only work on two out of the three of these projects in what remains of the year, and, as I have almost no bottom weight fabric and would need to buy some, and I already have 90% of what I'd need to make the coat and bags, I've decided to push any consideration of trousers to next year. (I've already decided to use that Jalie pattern that everyone loves for the stretch fabric version, but I am still in search of a great non-stretch bootcut pattern -- there is one in Ottobre, for sure, and loads in Burda...).

I'll talk more about the bags another time. For now, where this leaves me is thinking about coats, and this is where I am stuck.

Here are my constraints/thoughts/ideas.

I have a great cotton moleskin fabric in... well, it's either navy so dark it's almost black or actual black, I honestly can't tell. Moleskin, if you're not too familiar, is a densely woven napped fabric and it's often used for outerwear and/or alarming hunting trousers (which I will not be making!). I also have a really nice lining fabric in dark green and purple which has a sort of furry backing. It's heavier than a regular satin lining, just enough to add a bit of extra warmth. I have 3m of each, which should be plenty for any kind of coat pattern, nap notwithstanding. I still need to buy buttons, but I'm holding off until I know what I need.

My new coat has to add something to my coat wardrobe. It's definitely going to be a cold weather coat, and at the moment my cold weather coats consist of:
a. A grey wool fit and flare coat, which is more on the dressy/formal side of things.  It looks a lot like Burda 6921 view A (except slightly longer, falling to about knee length. I actually bought that pattern because I'd like to make a raincoat version).
b. A long black coat that is also fit and flare. It's super dramatically cut -- really tight through the bodice and then a wide skirt -- and it's definitely also on the formal/dressy side of things. (Think Vogue 8346 View C, except mine is single-breasted). I don't wear this too often but I adore it because it flares around me dramatically when I walk. Why yes, I am a total drama queen.
c. I have a heavily insulated ski jacket (hip length) that I wear on the (very rare) occasions that it's really very cold in the UK. It's very casual and far too heavy most of the time for the UK weather, so I wear it maybe two days a year at most at home and also if I go skiing, obviously.

I feel like the most useful addition to my wardrobe would be something that fit somewhere on the formality spectrum between my fit and flare coats and my ski jacket. I'm kind of envisioning it as being a coat that looks really great with jeans or cords, over a sweater. I'm thinking sort of just below the hip in length, and probably not fit and flare. I'm not crazy about belting coats, especially when the coat is made of a heavy fabric, so it either needs to take shape from the side seams or else be a boxy shape I can live with. I kind of love the classic pea-coat look, but I can't be doing with double-breasted anything, as top heavy as I am. I am finding it really difficult to take inspiration from the high street because everyone is into these 80s style over-sized cocoon coats, and they're somehow not quite what I want.

My current top contenders are:

Ottobre 05-2009-18 Coat
This is probably my top choice at the moment (to nobody's surprise at all, it's an Ottobre pattern). I like the upper yoke detail, the A-line shape and the pockets. However, I can only find a couple of reviews of it and both people were making it in a much smaller size than me, and that's a little concerning. Another downside is that the bust shaping is from a single side dart. I'm not sure how well that will work for me. It's also a bit longer than I wanted.

Vintage Vogue pattern

I bought this 1960s Vogue pattern a while back now. The big plus of this for me is that I LOVE the back of the coat and it's the kind of length I was looking for. Downsides: the equally vintage instructions (full of pad-stitching etc and therefore significantly more complex than the Ottobre pattern to work with. I don't love the very plain and unadorned front of the coat and I am not a fan of in-seam pockets in jackets -- they tend to bulge oddly when you put anything in them. Again, bust shaping is with a dart only, and that dart is from the armhole, just to complicate things.

Burda 7735 (the yellow version, except obviously NEVER IN YELLOW, omg)
I picked this pattern up for £1 from my local fabric shop from their discontinued table. While its double breasted, it looked like the wrap over was quite minimal. When I got home I checked the reviews and found this fantastic version in a review on PR, which looks amazing. Obviously, again, the sewist in question is making 2-3 sizes smaller and has a very different figure type to me, but I really love her version of it. And MEGA plus, it's a shoulder princess seam, so fitting would be more straight forward. However, I am a little put off by the double breasted-ness of the pattern, and also concerned that this is a MUCH more demanding project than the Ottobre coat (bound button-holes, the cuffs are really complicated, etc etc.)

Other than that, I have a half a million patterns in Burda and Patrones (Patrones is really big on coat/jacket/blazer patterns) but I feel like I can see the woods for the trees in the magazines at the moment.

So, overall, that is where I'm stuck. I need to make some kind of decision soon, just so that I can get a muslin started at least, but I really don't know what to do.

What coats has anyone else made? Am I insane for even WANTING to make a coat?

Sunday, 9 November 2014

In which there are many frustrations but I like the end product (Ottobre 05-2014-03 zipper hoodie)

Ever since the latest issue of Ottobre Woman came out in August, I have been talking and thinking about making pattern #3, the asymmetrical hoodie with a zip.

Image from Ottobre 05-2014

Technical drawing of Ottobre 05-2014-03
It's actually a very straightforward knit garment, when you look at the technical drawing, with only two complications: 1. that asymmetrical zip; and 2. the welt pockets. There's no actual reason that I've left it so long to make except that I had to change out the thread in my overlocker (why I make such a DRAMA out of this when I can change the thread over in less than ten minutes, I don't know, but EVERY TIME I am like, urgh, I have to change my overlocker thread, woe, grumble, moan, etc.) My only other reason for delaying was that I needed to buy all sorts of little notions (twill tape, grommets, the zip -- and I wanted a NICE zip with metal teeth) in order to make it and I kept being lazy about ordering them.

At any rate, everything came together for me to make it this week, at last, and so I did. Unfortunately, that's where the frustrations started.

Ottobre 05-2014-03 my version, on Flossie

The fabric was, to say the least, problematic. It's GREAT to look at, and when I bought it (back in January from Croft Mill) I thought it would make a great ponte jacket to wear to work. However, whatever chemical had been put on the fabric to make it stay nice on the roll triggered my allergies like CRAZY and I therefore flung it into the washing machine having only just handled it enough to think yes, this WILL make a good jacket. Not so much when it came OUT the washing machine. It went from feeling quite firm and jacket-like to being a VERY soft and unstructured feeling.

Plan B was some kind of loose cardigan, but due to the way it had been cut I had a very scant 2m of fabric and couldn't find a pattern I liked that worked with that amount of fabric. (These plans predate my discovery and love of my first Swoon Scarf Neck Cardigan which would have worked with the fabric, but oh well!) Plan C (prompted by the similarity of my fabric to the picture in the magazine because I am really that unimaginative) was this hoodie.

It was not a perfect matchup of fabric and pattern. I didn't have enough fabric to pattern match on ANY seam (though, having abandoned the idea and cut however fit, by coincidence the side seams actually come so close to matching anyway!). The fabric is so squashy and plush that it just swallows thread, so unpicking anything was a COMPLETE nightmare. I unpicked about 1cm of one seam and was like, yeah, no, I can't make any more mistakes. Also, the squashiness and... looseness? I don't know how to describe it! At any rate, the qualities of the fabric that make it plush and warm also meant that it was SHIFTY AS FUCK when it came to sew. Like, no matter how many million pins I pinned it with, and even hand basting, the seams rippled like crazy and shifted out of alignment on my overlocker, to a MUCH greater extent than with other knit garments I have used. However, other than that it's actually quite nice as it stands today, with half a day of wear, but I can tell it's going to be a horror for pilling and pulled threads. I mean, I can tell because it's ALREADY a horror for pulled threads, at least. Ugh. On the plus side, I used fusible bias tape for the zipper and that worked brilliantly to stabilize the edges when I was sewing.

Ottobre 05-2014-03 Open to show wrong side
The next problem was the welt pockets. OK, so I have not made welt pockets on garments before, but I've made loads on bag patterns. I know for some reason the sewing blog world wants people to be TERRIFIED of welt pockets, but I wasn't at all worried about it, except insofar as I was sewing it on this squashy, shifty, badly behaved fabric.

So, I made the first welt pocket, and it was PERFECT. I mean, not really perfect, but pretty damn close given the nature of the fabric and so on. I did an actual little dance around my sewing room, because I am a dork, and THEN, THREE SECONDS LATER, I REALIZED I HAD SEWED IT ALL ON BACKWARDS. BACKWARDS. ARGH. I may have flung everything on the floor and run away from the sewing room in a tantrum, but you can't prove that I did.

Recall that unpicking 1cm of seam had previously made me throw my hands up and declare I could not possibly make another mistake. There was absolutely no way in hell that I was going to unpick an entire welt pocket. So in the end I sewed it shut and cut off the actual interior pocket pieces using my overlocker. All that is left is a ~~~~design feature backwards pocket that you can't see (it's "visible" in the first of the two photographs above, but I really don't think unless you know it's there that you can see it at all) and a sort of vestigial interior piece of pocket which really nobody would know about unless I told them. I didn't bother to put the second pocket in because I decided it would annoy me much more to have one working pocket and one sad non-pocket than no pockets at all.

As modelled by yours truly, open
Sadly, the other frustration is that I made some HUGE assumptions about how well this would fit me. I made an Ottobre size 44, which is a pretty usual size for me. However, it's toooooo big through the shoulders and too long through the sleeves. Rolling up the cuffs resolves the sleeve issue but I think I just need to admit that a size 44 is TOO big at the shoulder for me in Ottobre and I need smaller size + FBA :| And oh my god, why so many weird wrinkles when I wear it? (The sleeves are because I pushed up for the shot.)

My version, zipped up
I also REALLY DISLIKE the fact that the edge of the lower layer of the asymmetrical closure, which DOESN'T hang down on Flossie, hangs down when I wear it. SO ANNOYING. I might have to put a little popper on to stop it doing that, ugh.

However, all my MANY MANY complaints notwithstanding, and acknowledging that the fit is really not that great, I really like this! It's REALLY comfortable, and it does look just as I expected with black trousers. Plus, I wore it round to dinner with my parents tonight and they really loved it and thought it was great. So, that cheered me up about the finished product.

In conclusion, I mean, I really love Ottobre patterns and none of my problems were with the pattern AT ALL, except for picking probably the wrong size. And I'll probably wear it LOADS just because it's warm  and cuddly.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Clothes for yoga (including Burda 11-2014-113)

I recently felt sufficiently well that I decided to join the gym near where I am now living. I am not a HUGE fan of the gym in the ordinary run of things, but the big appeal to me was that, unlike running or walking outside, there was no danger that I would get stranded feeling ill halfway through and a long way from home. At least with the gym if I don't feel well I can just sit down for a bit.

My VERY RED Simplicity 2369s
One of my favourite gym things is yoga, which I've done on and off for about 12 years now. In the last few years I've had little opportunity to do anything other than videos and yoga podcasts at home, which I tend to do more or less in PJs or some ratty and mis-matched exercise clothes. Now I'm going to two classes a week at the gym because they come free with membership and I actually need to look at least somewhat presentable. I repurposed the two purple pairs of purple knit trousers I made last month as yoga-class-suitable, but I decided I also needed one more pair, due to laundry-related laziness. Very boringly I made another pair of Simplicity 2369 (the previous pair being one of the afore-mentioned purple pants) about which I will say no more than: still very wide-legged, and in this case VERY RED. VERY VERY RED. I wore them to class on Tuesday and there was everyone else in sober and serious black and me in my VERY RED trousers and a top with lurex sparkles. My commitment to sparkle motion yoga is INTENSE, you guys.

My VERY RED fabric is just a cotton blend jersey with a not-very-exciting amount of stretch and poor recovery. I've been putting off sewing it for ages because I was pretty sure that I'd struggle with the lack of recovery if I tried anything at all fancy with it. In fact, wearing my very red yoga pants to class revealed that yes, they are going to sag out at the knees and butt when I do yoga in them. However, while I'm willing to put in a certain amount of effort to have a respectable outfit to wear to class, it doesn't extend to caring if I have saggy butt pants by the time I leave.

I used about half of my 3m piece (bought from Croft Mill in 2012) for Simplicity 2369 and decided to use the rest to make a close fitting top, also for yoga (although NOT for wearing with the red pants, as otherwise I look like Father Christmas Does Yoga, which, no). I knew from the outset that I was going to struggle to bind the neckline without stretching it, so, in a spirit of experimentation, I decided to make up a pattern that was kind of off-beat for me, because I was prepared already for it all to go wrong. Which, you know, on reflection kind of doesn't make sense from a logic point of view, but there you have it: my thought processes, ladies and gentlemen.

The top I picked is from the most recent issue of Burda 11-2014-113. People were really divided on this top on the PR forum. Some were like: YUCK WHY. Some were enthusiastic. I really liked it, but then I also really like wearing layers including the sort of sad 1990s skater boy thing of wearing a t-shirt over a long-sleeved t-shirt, which this sort of mimics. I was most doubtful about the puffy sleeves, since I need no extra help in the shoulder width department and certainly none at all in bicep size.

Burda 11-2014-113 sample and tech drawing from Burda
 The top actually comes in sizes 34-42, and on my current measurements I am about a 44. I was prepared to grade up, but when I compared my current knit sloper to the pattern, the 42 was a pretty good match to my size without any change. I made mine just a tiny but bigger through the bust -- 0.5cm on each seam line -- but that's about it. I actually wanted the hip to be quite close fitting so it wouldn't slide up while I am in upside-down poses, but this was less successful. I'm always a good size smaller through the hip in Burda and Ottobre than I am in the shoulder/bust but I couldn't mentally process needing a size 40 hip so I used the 42 as drafted... and it's very slightly bigger than I wanted. f

Burda 11-2014-113 my version in red cotton jersey
As you can see from my photo, the fit is a BIT snug through the bust -- those tell-tale folds at the armpits in addition to a bit of obvious strain over the apex -- but I am not overly concerned. You can also see from the photo on me (more so than the photo on Flossie) that I did indeed have a problem with the binding the neckline and it ended up more stretched out than I like. It's also REALLY WIDE at the neckline. SO VERY VERY WIDE. Like, I had to take a bunch of shots so I didn't get my bra strap showing. Also, I'll have to wear something under it for yoga because, um, leaning over shows off my ENTIRE BUST to the world. Not ideal.

Other than that, even though half way through I was like WHY AM I MAKING THIS THING WITH PUFFED SLEEVES OH MY GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME, I really like it! The sleeves below the puffs are really close fitting which I like a lot (and also really long, I am so glad Burd draft for people with monkey arms like me). I do need to figure out at some point how to do a square shoulder adjustment with a raglan pattern. As you can see on the right hand as you look at the photo, I tend to get that gape at the shoulder line if I don't. I have fixed it on the Kitschy Coo raglan tee (actual pattern name escapes me) but I forgot to make the alteration on this one.

In conclusion: I plan to be outstandingly visible in my yoga classes in these.

Next up on my sewing table is the Ottobre zipper hoodie I've been saying I'm going to make for two months now, followed by a bunch of gift sewing.