Saturday, 26 August 2017

Bags, a wadder and plans for Autumn

I've been a bit distracted from crafty things this last month by (a) the continued roller coaster of my recovery; and also (b) the landscape gardeners hired to come to do major work in my garden in June actually turning up and landscaping my garden. On the plus side, the garden landscaping is now DONE and it looks fabulous, and I get to do the really fun part of buying plants and putting them in the ground. :D On the minus side, there was a week in there where I was dealing constantly with workmen, which has to be one of my least favourite things in the world, and I got almost nothing done about anything else at all.

As it happens, I didn't have too much left in my Summer 2017 sewing queue. Wardrobe-wise I had already plugged all my major wardrobe gaps bar one by the end of July. The one thing I really needed to make and didn't even start on was shorts. Luckily (?) since the temperature has rarely gone above 18-20C (that's about 65-68F, or "not nearly hot enough for shorts") and it's rained with great frequency for most of the last month, I can't say I suffered for their lack! I did have some wishlist type items that I considered working on this month, and I even got as far as tracing/cutting patterns in a couple of cases. In the end though, I neither had the time nor felt well enough to make anything complicated this month, so I have shelved all of those projects for another summer.

What I did make was, (a) a bunch of random little things that I have no photos of and that you wouldn't care about if I did, like a needle book and a thread catcher bag and similar small items; and (b) two bags. This latter is very timely since the very first things I sewed back in August 2011 were bags. Happy 6th Sewing Anniversary to me! :D

A "Daphne" Tote, in an over-sized floral
First, I made one really simple tote bag that was really all about the fabric. I had a small piece of this designer home dec fabric in my stash for years waiting for me to use it for a tote bag. The big multi-coloured flowers fit perfectly on this pattern (which is the Daphne Tote, by artsycraftsybabe, available to buy on Etsy and Craftsy). This is one of my favourite basic tote bag patterns because it's a really nice shape and size, and it takes very little time to make.

The second bag I made was marginally more complicated. I decided to use the last of a large piece of red fake suede fabric I had to make a shoulder bag with (purchased) plastic handles. I woke up the other day with a brainwave and decided it would be really interesting to quilt the fabric. I therefore dragged out my quilt batting and sewed an easy diamond pattern into the fabric.
Left -- one quilted outer, one as-yet-unquilted above it. Right -- the quilting on the finished bag
The pattern is a free PDF, the City Tote from a blog called Stashmania, that doesn't seem to be available online any more. I've made this pattern once before and I carried that bag for ages, so I knew it worked for me. I used red plastic handles I bought aeons ago, and a cotton print with butterflies for the lining. I also added a plastic bag base, which I sew into the boxed seams between the lining and outer. This gives the bag some shape when you have stuff in it and makes it less sad and saggy. I do like how this turned out (although if I'd thought about it, I might not have tried to pleat quilted fabric!) but I don't know that I LOVE it. It turned out OK though, and I do like the extra weight that the quilting gives it.

Outside and inside of the finished red fake suede City Tote
My final summer project was to look at the blue ponte blazer using Burda 08-2016-134 that I started back in March. I left it then with only one sleeve set in because I felt very dubious about the fit and how it looked on me. I decided to put it away for a few months and come back to it. This month I finished the sleeves and did one or two other little things, up to the point where most of the outer was done except the patch pockets. I am still really proud of some of the sewing. I really worked on the lapels to get all the seams perfectly rolled to the inside and all the top stitching really neat. That said, I tried it on a LOT and tried to tweak the fit for a while, but in the end I went with: no, this is not worth finishing. I hate wadders, but there was no point to keeping on fighting with this and throwing more resources (time, lining fabric, etc) when I already knew it wasn't really working.
Wadder ponte jacket (Burda 08-2016-134)
Fit-wise, you can actually see the problem a bit on Flossie -- there just seemed to be an odd pouch above the bust between the shoulder seam and the lapel. I do have a somewhat lower bust than the Burda draft, but your boobs would need to be attached to your collarbones to fill out that space. The pattern had a armhole princess seam so I tried to see if there was a quick fix by reshaping that seam/adding shoulder pads/etc but didn't have much success.

On the style side of things, I liked the IDEA of this cutaway style, where the lapels meet at centre front but don't overlap, and then below the lapels the shape cuts back over the abdomen and hips. In practice though, I didn't like it very much on me. I felt it looked less like a deliberate style decision and more like I was wearing a jacket that was too small for me. I made a size 44 and by Burda's measurements I'm currently a size 42 at the hip. If anything I therefore had more ease than the designer intended. IDK, it just didn't work for me.

This experience has given me a couple of specific pointers for the future: (a) it's definitely better for me to make a muslin of something like outerwear where there's a LOT of time and materials involved. I mean, I don't really care too much about this fabric, because it was an inexpensive ponte knit that I bought as a remnant for about £2/m. But if I am cutting into wool or anything precious, I don't want to make a fit/style mistake like this too often! And then there's also the interfacing I used and the buttons and lining fabric I bought for the jacket that now have had to go into stash and... you know, it all adds up. Also (b) I think I need to go back to the drawing board a bit with woven fitting. For a while now I've been using Burda size 44's more or less straight off the pattern sheet or with some minor alterations, but I'm increasingly dissatisfied with the shoulder width and some other little fitting issues that seem to crop up over and over. So that's something I've added to my autumn/winter plans.

Speaking of which, it's time to move on from summer sewing for me! My Autumn planning has three parts so far. First up: Boring But Necessary which I am going to be working on fairly immediately. This is half a dozen basic items for my wardrobe that I need to replace for the new season, using mainly repeat patterns. Not the most exciting sewing, but also all straightforward and hopefully quick and trouble free. Second: Loungewear, mainly knit tunics to wear with leggings, for which I will be using mainly new-to-me patterns and several from recent magazines. And third: A Whole Pile Of More Interesting Things. This is all the "nice to have but I don't NEED it" sewing that I'd like to do -- some fitting work, some wishlist type patterns, and so on. I'll be back with more specifics on that when I've worked my way through the more necessary parts of my sewing queue!


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  2. Good luck, sounds like you have some solid plans... I am just cutting and hoping! 😂