Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sewing Plans for 2015

Well, I've started as I mean to go on. I'm a person who works better if there is accountability. Even though I know how to lose weight and keep it off, I do so much better attending a group, for example. So, to help me achieve some of my sewing goals, I have linked up with others.

Last year was my first year of sewing and I really lost my way a bit, joining in on PR competitions which were for things I didn't want to do at that time in the time scale given and didn't have the experience to do. This year, I won't preclude the idea of joining in but any competition must fit my personal goals and my time scale. I'm more interested in quality than quantity.

I did join in the Make a Garment a Month Challenge last year. That is, making time to make a garment for yourself each month. Again, I got a bit waylaid with sewing for other people or following other agendas.  I am going to continue this year and do hope that I can pull off one personal garment per month or so. I'm rather slow. There is no penalty if I don't achieve this. Sarah Liz has moved MAGAM to Facebook, so I also need to work out how to use it - and I'm not sure how to link it, as it is a closed group. I am on Facebook but an extremely limited user of it! There are details on the previous blog page of how to join in if you want to.
Blog as a Learning Log

I intend to keep up my blog. Time constraints have meant that my blog is less of the sewing journal and learning log for me than I intended it to be. Even at this stage, I find it difficult to remember exactly what I found difficult and how I solved a problem, without having pictures or words to help me. They say a picture paints a thousand words - I do need to improve my blog photography and have more in progress pictures. Even so, I can see that my sewing is improving.

PR Groups
I said I wasn't necessarily going to join in any PR competitions - however, I have joined a couple (no, wait - 3!!) of the groups. I've committed to 30 Minutes a Day in 2015 - sewing and related activities for an average of 30 minutes per day. This shouldn't be difficult as I am continuing next year with the dressmaking techniques class and the pattern cutting course I started in September. There will be some days I won't do anything but on others I'll be well over that limit. I've also committed to Monthly Sew Along for 2015  which is about any sewing not just garments, and includes restyling etc. The other I've committed to is the Style Along - a Stylish Closet. This doesn't necessarily involve any sewing whatsoever.

Re-evaluate, Restyle and Declutter
Last year, I realised that I was sewing for the sake of it without considering properly gaps in my wardrobe, or my style. I had already started reviewing this so this challenge fits in nicely. The first step will be to go through my wardrobe and declutter, which also fits into the 30 minutes per day. I'm a fairly tidy person in some respects - my wardrobe garments are organised by type and by colour. However, I have far too many and as many know, this means I haven't anything to wear! I still have quite a few items from my professional career, which really aren't suitable for my retired lifestyle, so I feel that I will have to let many of them go, even though they're good quality and wearable, under different circumstances. A bigger issue is the number of shoes I have! I do look after my clothes and shoes and have them dating back a long time. Some are very old fashioned looking, even at my age, there are too many 'dressy' shoes, many are too high for comfort these days, some really aren't comfortable - it's certainly true that extra weight shows in shoe fit, whatever some people say. Also, I have big feet, though not excessively so for my height. One challenge will be to find a comfortable, well-fitting , stylish low shoe.

I find it very difficult to buy clothes and shoes. Partly this is because of my height - being tall, many sleeves are too short, for example. Dresses have always been a particular problem as any dress with a waist seam fits much too high on me and even those without don't have the waist shaping in the correct place and the dress is overall too short. When I was younger, I didn't mind above the knee skirts and dresses but don't like them now. Because dresses were so difficult to buy, they were underrepresented in my wardrobe in comparison to separates. I have lots of skirts - some too business like for current use, but these days I prefer to wear trousers. Unfortunately they are particularly difficult to buy. I have a long crotch so it's not just leg length that's the issue; I also have large hips and thighs in comparison to a smaller waist. I don't have any well fitting pants. So, one of my challenges for 2015 is to create a perfectly fitting block for trousers which I can then modify and use to create as many pants as I want! This fits in nicely with my dressmaking techniques class this next term, which is trouser making techniques for 5 weeks (2 hour class each week) followed by 5 weeks in which to fit and make trousers, with help available. Strangely, the pattern fitting course is out of synch and the trouser block isn't until the following term, we'll be doing a skirt block and a sleeve block in that.

RTW Fast 2015
So, a combination of too many clothes and shoes, inability to buy clothes and need to change style? This leads very nicely into my commitment to the RTW Fast 2015, hosted once more by Sarah from Goodbye Valentino. I shouldn't think I'll need to make very much! Just commit to not buying unnecessary and inappropriate garments. If I do identify any gaps, I should be able to deal with that.

Style Blogs
I'm following InsideOut Style and the Vivienne Files which are giving some great style ideas. The Vivienne Files' Starting from Scratch starts with thinking about colours and then going for a pair of trousers in a basic colour, to begin with, and then building on that. That, of course, fits very nicely with my personal plans - and with the PR groups. The style group on PR has a load of other useful links, which I'm working my way through.

The other important thing is garment redesign rather than garment construction. It's possible that some of my many inadequately fitting trousers could be modified. I have some that are too big - especially too wide in the waist - and in general, when I have trousers that are long enough in the crotch, they are too long in the front. Otherwise, usually a 'correct size' fits at the front and is much too short in the back. Along crotch and tilted waist/pelvis. So, some of those that are larger could perhaps have the waistband removed, front shortened, waist taken in and waistband re-attached. Also, it's likely that the legs need narrowed a bit. It's only worthwhile doing this with any that are reasonable quality. It's possible that in some cases the fabric could be re-used - I'm not sure about that. I'm also repairing my clothes (and those of DD3 who really needs some new togs)

Finish WIPs - or decide whether to finish or just get rid of them
Last year, before the summer break, I was attending a monthly dressmaking class and had started fitting and making a pair of trousers. The class decided against muslin fitting (!). As the class went on break (for 3 months), I thought I'd continue myself. The fit was truly awful (although there was no muslin, there was a tissue fit with some adjustments made). It was suggested I might do better to start from scratch with a smaller size. However, these were Palmer Pletsch trousers with a 1" fitting seam and I need to make sure that was being taken into account. So I'll have another look at these. Not sure wadder or finish.

My recent grey wool wrap-over skirt. I did this skirt alongside the skirt dressmaking techniques class. It doesn't really fit into my lifestyle but the colour and fabric are good. It was too big when completed (despite muslining it). I have had it pinned to size and need to finish that. Hopefully finish.

In the same vein as the monthly class I used to attend (I didn't go back after the summer break and have no plans to return), the teacher did a day class making a skirt. She hadn't intended to focus on fit just making but a skirt that doesn't fit isn't much use to anyone so lip service was paid to fitting. Again, tissue fitting but no muslin. Mine is huge. I've pinned it in but had difficulty with pattern matching. I need to look at it again. Its fabric is more suitable for summer. Not sure wadder or finish.

My white dress made for PR's Little White Dress Competition. I had problems with the central panel which had a permanent crease down the centre. Nothing I did got rid of it. I was just about to get rid of the dress when I realised I had enough fabric to replace the centre front portion, so I did this. Slight problem in that I replaced it with fabric upside down but it's really not a great issue. However, the colours were different and so more laundering ... all the washing etc has further shrunk the dress and now the lining is too long. I need to adjust that. At the moment the dress is too tight what with it shrinking and me expanding but that, the latter,  should be rectified over the course of the next few months.


This was after I inserted a new centre front piece - difference in colour and in direction noticeable.
Right way up.
I'm not quite sure if this counts as a Work in Progress or not. My youngest daughter gave me a number of garments to repair. One, a Bershka top, was irreparable but I agreed (why did I offer?) to re-make the top, taking out the embroidered panel from the original. I wasn't able to buy suitable lightweight cotton lawn in black but have bought white and plan to dye it. I'm in the process of deconstructing the garment to use the pieces as a pattern. I have no immediate plans to finish this.

You can't actually see the rips in the fabric in this view. Not just the seams, unfortunately.

I've already blogged about DD3 wanting a skirt made with our family tartan. I do have some heavy weight tartan which is likely, I think, to be okay for a mini skirt - but I learned tonight that she wants a pleated skirt but definitely not a kilt. So not sure. I had thought a simple shape would have been okay for me:

I have had no joy trying to get more tartan woven for us. Claire Kennedy of Sewing Artistry spoke in her blog about printing tartan and I asked her about that. She sent me a very helpful and comprehensive reply. However, there are problems with that route and I don't want to pursue it just for the moment, though I will do later. I won't necessarily make the skirt myself - if the fabric is suitable but the skirt is beyond my abilities, DD3 can take the skirt to a dressmaker. There must be many of those in London, though they are an endangered even extinct species in our area.

I want to make DH a jacket from the Burberry fabric I bought at Harrogate in November. We haven't agreed on a style and I haven't found a pattern yet so that is not in any priority list. I still haven't found any source of men's patterns. I will discuss this with D on Tuesday at my sewing bee as I know she recently purchased a pattern drafting for men book.

So how am I getting on so far, 4 days into January?

Well, I've been tidying and sorting my sewing room - it was regrettably taken over by our dining room over Christmas and New Year! Before I moved my fabric out, I sorted it by type and likelihood of usage time into clear boxes and not everything will be coming back in. I have a partial database of my stash but need to add the new wools that I bought in November.

I have sorted my sewing books, which remained in the dining room, and realise that some of those I bought are just not what I want so need to work out what to do with them.

I also re-sorted through my patterns. I list these on PR but have a few which I missed so need to add those. I got a couple of Craftsy classes for Christmas and now have some duplicate patterns as one class came with a pattern I already had. Also, Sew magazine, which I subscribe to, has, a couple of times, repeated a pattern I already have. So I have about 3 repeats. One pattern I have is in the too small size range - it's a Chanel type jacket and I don't have the skills to grade it up.

All of this fits into my PR challenges.

I have read quite a few blog posts. This can become time wasting rather than productive quite quickly, so I need to be careful. So far, it's been useful. I also took the opportunity to change my profile picture 
Old Profile Photo
I've had my hair cut again since then.

New Profile Photo

and add the 'follow me on Bloglovin' icon which I hadn't been able to add before. I did some searching and managed to solve that problem - Bloglovin didn't have my blog as mine because I'm listed under two separate email addresses and several different profiles. I've just taken one baby step today. I'm not sure how I'll proceed. I don't want to make my Google+ or Facebook profiles public.

I managed to sort out my overdue golf minutes - obviously this is not sewing related but I couldn't commit to a project with that hanging over me. I have started but not finished my tax return, ditto.

I haven't started any actual sewing although tonight I'm going to sit and try to start to repair the strap, which is way too short, on my daughter's strange top dress (!) and she'd like the flap removed (my sewing teacher says the flap is sewn to be flapping outside but DD doesn't like that and always tucked it in, then strap didn't lie correctly) so it's still a bit of a puzzle. I might have to ask D's advice at the sewing be on Tuesday.

Front of the dress
Back - where does flap go?

What's the loop? Flap is supposed to be out
apparently I already tried to repair

I haven't identified a January personal garment for MAGAM as yet. I'll think about that later in the month when I've gone through things a bit more. I think maybe a Style Arc cardigan as that would be useful over short sleeved tops and trousers and would also be a new to me pattern company, to fit in with January's MAGAM theme.

I tend to have a year-round wardrobe. We never get very warm or really that cold, especially not this year so far. So tops I wear in the summer, I can wear in the winter with a cardigan - though I don't even need that when I go to bridge as the room is very hot. The biggest change summer to winter is footwear and outerwear.

DD3 is going to send me some photos of skirts she likes and her measurements and I might try to make a muslin for size on Tuesday at my sewing bee. I'll be seeing her this coming weekend. As I was finishing this post , my daughter emailed to say she couldn't find the picture she had of the perfect skirt but sent me some inspiration, none of which are quite right, and none of which she's seen in real life:

  She would like it "waist high, with a waistband. Short, but not too short. Probably a bit pleated but not very pleated. A bit like a mix between a pleated school skirt and a skater skirt." "Short but not too short - about 16" she says and she's 6' tall. Well, she's slim, has endless legs  and can carry it.

I don't know if the thick fabric would work for these, At least I can start to look for a suitable pattern. I don't think it would be too difficult to make this, though. Just so long as she doesn't want it for Burns' Night!

All in all, I'm feeling quite happy. Everything I have committed to fits in with my plans and I don't feel any pressure, even though written down it sounds like a lot. Anyway, sewing isn't life or death!



  1. I live by the 30-minutes a day sewing -- this is how I get sewing done as I do not have large chunks of time. Good luck in 2015!


  2. Thank you, Annie. I'm seeing the value of this approach - I haven't sewn yet though last night I unpicked the flap from my daughter's green dress. Now I've no idea what to do, but hey ho, what's new. We are fellow fasters. Good luck. Anne

  3. Wishing you the best of luck with the 2015 sewing plans! Looking forward to seeing the progress of DD3's skirt x

  4. Thank you. Same to you - looking forward to seeing your makes. I've looked at some tartan and plaid skirts of the type I think my daughter wants and see that many have very wonky matching and lines that are neither parallel to ground nor bias. I'm not sure if the basis is a straight skirt block or circular. I'm anxious about making it, even though the skirt looks simple. The fabric was extremely expensive - on the other hand, better to use it then have it in long term storage. There isn't enough left to get another kilt made for my husband. Good luck with your plans x

  5. I sew 30 minutes a day as well - sometimes first thing in the morning.

    A very comprehensive outline of all your goals - you've got to know what you want to achieve, although I have to admit I take a more intuitive approach.

    With old work clothes, can they be upcycled in some way to go with more casual clothes?

    And regarding the Facebook MAGAM - I don't think you can link directly to the group page. And with your own page, you can still keep that private - change the settings so that other people cannot see it unless they are friends. You are in the group, so you just have to click on the icon - left hand side of the page when you are on your home page. The only way to work out how any of these sites work is to play with them, I think. But that is the method that works for me - everyone has their own way of working.

    The blue skirt - pin it and see if it looks okay taken in.

  6. I've found I need to take a more structured approach as least as far as sewing is concerned or I was being blown from one thing to another. My half hour a day is regrettably not purely sewing - but I'll get there. It's not a race against time. I thought your goals were fairly comprehensive too and I look forward to seeing you achieve them.
    I discussed the skirt for my daughter today and had a look at how soft inverted pleats would look with the tartan. I think our tartan is too heavy to work properly. For my daughter, the tartan is more important than the skirt so she'll modify the style if we don't succeed in finding a source in the next few months. I started the repair of the green dress and was almost pulling my hair out!
    I am having a struggle with all the different sites even though I was always considered pretty computer literate, bit that wasn't for social media which is something else again! As long as I get to a point where I can use, even if not expertly, that will do me fine, as my main goal is still to improve my sewing.
    I've still to look at how work clothes can be used differently, apart from trousers which I was able to use more casually immediately, though the problem with them is fit, which comes back to sewing ...


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