Friday, 30 September 2016

Simplicity Sewing Challenge - part 3. final part

This is the final part of my blog posts for the Simplicity sewing Challenge. Please read the other 2. Part 1 here and part 2 here. Then this one continues on.

I'd now sewn two toiles/muslins. My last post detailed the changes I made following the first toile.
I made the second toile from a patterned cotton,  for a change and to distinguish between the two.

David was my fitting buddy.
  • Excess fabric was pinned from bust point up to shoulder and from bust point down to waist
  • Excess fabric was pinned at back princess seam line between back and side back
  • The lengths of the side panels didn't match - extra fabric was turned under in back upper side panel, making it shorter.
  • When the front was pinned to the correct length,  fabric was about ½” shorter than it needed to be
  • I didn't pin the back length - or rather,  didn't get David to pin it. I decided to remove the excess length later.
Really,  there were now no major fitting issues, though quite a few tweaks were still necessary. Lenght issues were sorted out, or at least I hoped they were! The toile had been made up with 1” side seams

I altered the pattern:
  • Taking in excess fabric as detailed above, ensuring the front central panel stayed straight,  so most of the excess fabric taken from very curved side upper panel.
  • Reducing front side princess seam allowances to ⅜” for easier sewing later
  • Reducing side seams to ⅝” (though I ended up using the 1" allowance, anyway)
  • While modifying line of bust,  I slightly lowered bust point and added more fullness there as I thought from the toile this was necessary (see later - this was a mistake)
  • Lengthening front length
  • Truing upper side panels
  • I still wasn't 100% sure about the fitting at the side. i had lost the instructions (I still haven't found them and I'm sure this would have helped!)
I was at my tailoring class tonight (Wednesday 28th September) and took the opportunity to ask Dan if she agreed with my steps and whether she thought crepe-back satin or crepe rather than cotton would be best to make it up with. She felt this was the case.

So the next step is actually making up the pattern in the real fabric. Make or break moment, really!

The real deal
Front view. It looks better in real life!
Well, I was running way behind, as you are well aware. Unfortunately, too, I had a minor bug for a couple of days which stopped me sewing.

I made up the pattern pieces cut out of my single crepe in turquoise, used before, as I felt that as I had experience of that, it would be easier than trying out a new pattern in crepe back satin (which in any case hadn't been washed - I assume you wash it?) At this stage, I decided to go with the 1" side seams as recommended in the pattern as I still wasn't sure about the junction at the sides.

There was too much space at the bust apex (my mistaken alteration earlier) and just below and the back princess seam was too wide over the bodice.

I pinned (or rather got David to pin) the sides at an appropriate point. I was disappointed to see that the end of the front upper side panel didn’t meet exactly with the front upper side panel. I resolved to change that and made some alterations to the pattern.

I then took the tacked dress to pieces again. I should say that I tacked/basted the dress together using the basting stitch on my machine, after I had hand basted on the bust panels only. I had never used this stitch in earnest. It basically stitches every 4th stitch so the stitches are 4 times longer than you would normally get. Easier to get out but doesn’t hold as well as it might otherwise. The seams look a bit puckered. But much faster than hand basting.

I marked the dress where it needed altered and made these alterations when the dress had been taken to pieces.

I feel that one potentially big disadvantage of this method is that the fabric is inclined to get a bit overworked and could stretch or distort. I'm not sure really how big a problem that was with me, but I think it was a part of my issue.

I went ahead and sewed the dress up using the final stitching. Last night (Thursday 29th) I went into town and bought new thread and a zipper of a better colour than I had in my stash. This was the same zipper that I had problems with before - the teeth were a little bit chunky for my invisible zipper foot. I resolved that I might have to put in differently or just use a transparent zipper and use nail varnish on the tab (I bought some specially for this purpose). I put some interfacing on the wrong side where the zipper goes. The zipper ended up going in okay though it needed more than a little persuasion! If it hadn’t been for the colour, I wouldn’t have bought this brand and will steer clear in future if I can.

As an aside, I found that I could actually take the dress on and off without using the zipper, so there you go! I guess that shows that the dress is really too big for me?

Back view. My zip was pretty good but I see that kink at the bottom of the zip. I did pres and then iron it before I wore it, but I was sitting around before these photos.

I decided against narrowing the dress at the sides at this stage (I had marked on the pattern but not transferred to fabric), though I do feel that on me it would be more flattering narrower - that is, straighter rather than A-line. Again, at this stage I was just trying to get it finished.

My biggest issue by far was  the side where the upper side front and back meet at the side seam line. I really struggled to get the two sides lying properly and matched. This was not helped by the fact that I have lost the instructions for the pattern!

I eventually managed but then had to take some in at the side after the event as the dress was just too roomy in the bodice section at this point. To be honest, it probably needs more taken out here. In the photo the match doesn't look at all good. That front seam looks pretty bad. I'll improve that in a future version.
Close up of junction at side

I had decided to make a full lining but had problems cutting out my lining. I won’t go into that! All to do with trying to do it too quickly! I decided I didn’t have time to redo and would just go with bias binding at the neck and armholes. Fortunately I still had some left of the perfect colour. The actual pattern uses facings but I felt my fabric had needed a lining, though unlike many people I do like me a facing! I no longer had time to do the facings.

Out of focus photo of bias binding. Sorry, too tired to redo

Another point I will make is that the pressing took ages. There is considerably more shaping in each of these princess seams that there appears to be at first sight. More on the back, even, than the front.

I'm trying to show the marked difference between edges to be joined (back of dress)

Next time, if I was starting again, I would be tempted to use the 'average' body parts rather than the 'curvy' as I didn't need some of the extra space allowed where it was given.

I found the dress was a little shorter than I had planned so rather than the 1.25" hem allowance, I folded up by 5/8" ans folded in the raw edge, then top stitched. I felt top stitching would be okay as there was the same at neckline and armholes.

I will enter this dress into the challenge as that is why I was making it at this stage and in this way. You might feel I shouldn't have entered it or posted here as there are still too many issues with the dress. I agree but decided to go ahead anyway. Please do make comments about how you feel I could imprve a future version - or comment on whther you feel \I should make a future version! It won’t do anything in the competition, however. I ran out of time to insert the piping I was going to make (not made so no chance of doing this at the last minute!). Piping had to be inserted only if you were sure of the fit, which I wasn't and am still not happy with it. A future version will have piping, probably.


I think this pattern has real potential. You will remember that I wasn’t at all sure about it to start with as I didn’t feel the dress on the pattern envelope fitted the model (I thought the shoulders were too wide for her) and didn’t look good. I wondered if it was fit or whether this wasn’t a good style for someone of my build.

What did I do to the pattern?
  • I had to lengthen the front to drop the bust point and the waist.
  • Note that this was the most difficult part. If I hadn't had to do this, the pattern would have fitted together perfectly and I wouldn't have had difficulty at the side seam. I think my changes are incorrectly trued or presumably it would still have fitted together okay.
  • I increased the bust shaping by moving the outside princess seam in towards the bust point and adding to the side.
  • I made the front princess seams less A-line shape, taking away fabric from the front centre and adding to the side front. I have posted about these already. I didn't, however, reduce the side seams in the dress, though drew in my referred line on the pattern for a future occasion.
  • I used a bigger size for the 'skirt' section.
I think I will regard this dress as a ‘wearable muslin’ for a future try with a few changes made. If I had been able to find my nice heavy crepe (hangs head in shame - I’m afraid my stash is completely disorganised; that must change), I would likely have used the facings. Otherwise, I’d do a better lining than I achieved today. This fabric I used today is too thin not to have a lining. I really don't like this fabric - fortunately, I don't have enough left now to do anything significant with it. True, it would have looked much better with the lining.

I need to get some photos and get them posted quickly. I want to see some of the Ryder Cup though Europe is doing very poorly, sadly. My photos are pretty poor, sadly. Late at night, poor light, unwell model who doesn't want to dilly dally! On the positive side, Europe has picked up this session, after the whitewash by the USA team in the first session. I don't think I can stay up to watch the end (US 6 hours behind us) as I'm too tired - but hope to wake up to good news.

I have edited the post to correct a couple of typos and add a touch of detail. I had to get it in quickly or forget about it. As I received the pattern free of charge from Simplicity for the challenge, I felt I was duty bound to go ahead to post. Quite a few people have read the original post but I don't have any comments. Please don't be afraid to criticise!! I'm a big girl and value observations and helpful tips. I'm well aware of the deficiencies of my dress here. I think this dress was much harder to fit than I anticipated.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Simplicity Sewing Challenge - part 2

I've been busy doing other things - okay, and procrastinating - and I may not get this challenge finished. I've really fallen down on taking photos during the process. Too bad, can't be changed now! I looked really bad and pretty miserable in the photos I took for the PR Sewing Bee because of pain from a dry socket, funny name. It's getting a bit better, less painful with antibiotics and painkillers but I still don't feel at all photogenic - then I never am! I'll take photos of the pattern pieces tomorrow in the daylight.

I've found fitting much more difficult than I anticipated (as predicated by Kate). I did take it to my sewing bee a few weeks ago to get an opinion but unfortunately, I haven't had it back since - and I don't have any more sewing bees left before the dress is due in.

Taken from the Simplicity website. The other photo, of the same girl, with piped princess seams on the dress as per pattern envelope, wasn't on the site. This version appears to fit her a little better.
I didn't like the photograph on the envelope of the plus size pattern I am using. 

I don't think the dress fits the model. Or maybe this style of dress isn't suitable for a plus size person? The line drawings look great and the photo on the regular sized envelope looks good as far as I can see. I am extremely wary about the dress's suitability for my figure.

This is the pattern envelope from the smaller size range

I rather like the line drawings. It's the same pieces whether a sleeve is added or not

I was pretty good and read all the instructions before I changed things!

My pattern is sizes 20W - 28W+. By high bust measurement, I fit into the size 20W, although I often use a size 18 if I am making from the smaller size range, even if there is a 20 available. I am quite wide shouldered. There isn't much difference between my high bust and my full bust - only 2" - which means that I should fit into the regular cup size in regular patterns and here. I know I don't, though. My bra size is 36DD. The suggestion from the pattern was that I cut the 20 cup size C (based on difference between full bust and high bust in the plus size range) - I decided to go for the D, not the DD which was also an option. The instructions do point out that you have to consider your body shape when making your choices.The cup sizes refer to the front only.

The back pattern pieces come in slim, average and curvy. My hips measure at two sizes above the pattern piece given measurements, which means that I am a 'curvy' person and so used the curvy fit pieces. I've only once before used an Amazing Fit pattern (a skirt) and found the curvy hip pieces too curvy but I did as recommended.

Okay then. I started to trace the pattern pieces but realised I really didn't have enough time so have cut directly into and altered the pattern tissue. Terrible!

The next instruction is to lengthen the pattern pieces as necessary. I had big problems here. I needed to lengthen the shoulder to bust point by 2.25". I've been reading Joi Mahon's 'Create the Perfect Fit' and tried her methods.

This is a nice spiral bound book inside the hardcover

So I altered the front and back independently.


I cut across the upper side front pattern piece and added in the required amount - 2.25" By Joi's method, this adds a lot of depth to the armscye. The Palmer Pletsch method would cut out a box and slide down keeping everything properly aligned. This method does not alter the armhole depth. However, because I am longer from my shoulder to the armscye (I'm 5'11" not 5'6" which is what patterns are designed for) I do actually need to drop the armscye anyway. So I went with Joi's method and waited until later to build the armscye back up to an appropriate place.

Raised and altered armscye on upper side front

Here you can see the lengthening affecting the armscye, the altered armscye and the area above the bust point

Because I have lengthened by quite a bit - this of course is the same alteration used to lower the bust point, though my bust point is not disproportionately low, or just a little as I get older - the upper chest line is rather distorted. I was going to follow the Palmer Pletsch method to draw the curve but in the end, didn't at that stage as at the sewing bee Dan said I could take that in later if required - extra fabric would be added which could easily be removed later. Easier to take fabric away than add it!
The purple line is the line that I would have cut following the PP method.
I went with the cut area in the meantime. Quite a difference!

The alteration the way I did it, following Joi's method, lowers the whole of the dress below the cut and also brings the waistline into a more reasonable position. The Palmer Pletsch method actually reduces the distance from bust point to waist. I am also long bust to waist. More of my extra length is in my torso rather than my legs. My front waistline is rather lower than the back.

I also had to alter the front and side front to match.

Originally, I also lengthened a little below the waist to add to the skirt length. Not by much at the front. The length back and front does not match.


By Joi's method, I worked out where my 'full back' was and lengthened the upper part of the back to suit. However, in this case, I had to raise the waistline point by a little, to get it falling in the correct place.
Slight lengthening of back piece

All back pieces were altered similarly.

However, the waist points need to match at the side seam. I looked at the upper side panels. Now the front panel was considerably longer than the back. I decided I liked the length of the longer one better. I therefore lengthened the back upper side panel. This meant also altering the curve into which it fitted.

Altered side back curve. I had to add to side seam as I had tapered to larger size at hips too late, I thought


I adjusted the armscyes to match front and back. This meant raising the front armscye quite a bit. I think the armscye in the original pattern was a little low for me - I don't want to be showing the side of my bra! This pattern has the same basic armhole shape whether or not you are making the sleeveless version, as I am, or the version with sleeves.

Princess seam lines

In my sewing bee I had discussed the princess seam lines. Now I love princess seams - they are great for fitting and I think the long lines are fairly slimming.

However, in this case I disliked the shaping of the front seams and discussed this with Dan. They flared out much too much for my liking. I pinned the tissue pieces together to try to judge fit and how they would lie. When I pinned the front tissue piece to the side front tissue piece, it appeared as if there was no shaping whatsoever. This seemed very strange at that position but was not so surprising on another level as there didn't appear to be much bustline shaping on the model, judging by the photo. Dan suggested pinning these two pattern pieces together, cutting as one when I made the toile and later deciding on the princess design line as that is what it appeared to be, rather than a true princess seam with integral shaping.

Surprisingly, there was quite a bit of shaping included in the rear princess seam and the same option was not available. These were going to be cut as per pattern. I was a little concerned that the dress would look rather odd, being so different front to back, but was reassured that this would be fine. I was also a little worried about altering the front by too much so that it didn't resemble the original pattern at all.

Tissue Fitting

It looked as if I needed additional fabric at the front upper side seam so I added additional here.

First toile/muslin

I went ahead with my first toile, using plain calico.

As recommended by the Amazing Fit pattern instructions, I used 1" seam allowances on all side seams and 5/8" seam allowances elsewhere - in other words, as per pattern.

I found that there was actually some shaping built into the front/side front pattern pieces so decided to cut them separately. They didn't lie as smoothly as it seemed they had originally.
I don't have a photo of me wearing this first toile. Apart from length changes, this is pretty much as per pattern.

The fit wasn't too bad. Certainly better than I thought it was going to be.

I did make a number of changes to the pattern following this:
  • I really didn't like where the front princess seam was lying and got David to draw in a more pleasing, for me, line.
  • I felt the skirt was too flared for my liking and I decided I wanted it slimmed down a little - not to a straight skirt as this would perhaps take too much away from the original design concept.
  • The front length was too long by quite a bit so I took away the length I had added to the pattern and more - I had to tuck up on a shorten line which I had to draw. Again I had to do this on all pattern pieces. I didn't change the back length at this stage.

As I realised that I was going to make quite major changes to the pattern following this, I didn't go too far with fit and just made the above changes to the pattern with a view to making another toile.

Pattern changes

This almost all was on the front pieces.
  • I moved the princess seam on the front closer to the centre below the upper side panel. This meant that I had to take away from the centre front and add to the side front at their junction. I still had to keep a smooth line.
    Not easy to see. This shows the side front panel with the added portion taken from the front panel to alter the princess seam. The pieces had been shortened by folding the fabric, independently hence the odd folding, which I am in the process of removing as I need an extra 1/2" in front length.
  • I took in a little at the hem of the sides (front and back) and tapered back to zero at the top of that piece (which joined to upper side front). I didn't take in as much as we had measured as I reckoned I would be better altering to suit later.

Second (and final) toile

I'll do that in the next post - I'm still making the pattern changes necessary but am taking a break away from sewing to write this post. I should say this toile has already been dismantled so you won't see me in it!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Round 3 sewing Bee - no entry for me! New starts

Sadly, I didn't make it through to round 3 of the PR sewing bee. I didn't expect to, as my bias cut top was very simple and I hadn't added any f my personality by making tweaks - I showed no creativity whatsoever! Nevertheless, I was absolutely gutted not to get through! How stupid am I?

To be honest, if I had got through , that would have caused a monumental logistical nightmare! It was really just as well.

The challenge for round 3 is Colette's new Rue dress. This dress takes Colette back to its more vintage roots. There is one version on the Colette blog, in a plaid , that I like but otherwise, this pattern is not my style. Too vintagy! Also, I understand there are some major fitting issues, so realistically , I would have no chance to produce a dress which fitted me well and had some creative spark in the time available (indeed, at all!)

So again, it's really just as well!

I really look forward to seeing all the makes.

Today, tomorrow and Monday I am playing golf in big events. Today and tomorrow are all day events at my home course and tomorrow is at a course in Scotland, 3 hours away, with the Vets. Good fun but very exhausting!

I have reluctantly decided not to rejoin my course next week when membership is due and am deciding where I should move to. This is nothing to do with the quality of the course - we have 2 courses which are the best in the area, with great facilities - and not to do with the cost even though it is the highest in the area. The focus of the club is on corporate activity and professional events, rather than common or garden members. No, a good course doesn't make a good club and there just aren't enough ladies in my club to provide golfing stimulation and variety, not to mention challenge and competition. We haven't managed to field a team in my handicap area (I have a medium/high handicap - so I'm not good but not bad either! In the County,  there are team knockout events, playing against other clubs,  for this handicap range and we used to have a team)  for the last two years as we just don't have enough women. As I am very active in the Vets (Veteran Lady Golfers), this is less of an issue than it would otherwise have been. I didn't leave last year as I might have been moving but that looks like it has temporarily been put on hold because of house price uncertainty following the Brexit vote. So, exciting but a little scary. Fortunately, I do know a lot of clubs and a lot of people in them.

I have made a couple of toiles for the dress for the Simplicity Sewing Challenge - rather put on hold for the PR Sewing Bee. I haven't quite decided whether to push on. I only have until Friday to complete the dress. I have a little time during the day on Tuesday and on Thursday I return to my daytime sewing bee - if our tutor has recovered - unfortunately, this week's class was cancelled as she was ill. This gave me the chance to finish the bias top at home. I've had to make quite a few changes to the dress already and I am running short of patience! I may yet abandon it. I'll do a separate post.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Simplicity 2594 - bias top. Entry to PR Sewing Bee Round 2

After some procrastination, I finally got around to making a garment for Round 2 of the PR Sewing Bee.

Because of family visiting Friday to Sunday and 3 important golf matches during this time, including today, and a tooth infection,I didn't have a great deal of time. I couldn't just decide not to do it, as then I would have deprived someone who might otherwise have got through of a place.

I looked through all my patterns - and there are a few! I looked through all my fabric of which there is quite a bit. I didn't come up with anything.

I had a pattern for a short formal dress cut on the bias - and even suitable fabric (crepe back satin) to make it but realised that really  I just didn't have time as fitting too would be crucial.

At this stage, stupidly, I decided to hack a RTW top I had. Well, it would have been okay if the top had been a perfect fit, but it wasn't. I was then going to swap the grain to the bias. The idea has merit but not when there are under 10 hours to sew.

Pattern envelope image of shorter view

I found the pattern for the above top - only two of the views are cut on the bias. I went shopping to try to buy some fabric with a large check or stripe. I didn't come up with anything.

So I decided to use a silky woven patterned fabric I had in my stash - I believe I bought this as a potential MOB fabric, because I love the colours. I thought it was viscose but then realised that it probably wasn't when it wasn't going to take more than a cool iron without melting. I asked Rory at class if she could identify the fabric - she did a burn test and concluded that while it looked like a polyester crepe de chine, it wasn't polyester or viscose but rather a monofilament polyamide.

I did quite a bit of reading about bias.

One of the important photos for the contest was a photo showing bias cut. They ask if someone who didn't know could look at your garment and know it was bias cut. You can't see the grain on my fabric. The best I could do was to take a photo during cutting out. This may not meet the criteria and I may be disqualified but I've finished the top and entered it into the competition, anyway, so I'm happy whatever happens.
Trying to show bias placement and cut. I do use a rotary cutter.
I managed to cut out on Friday night before the family arrived. I got some sewing done on Sunday evening after they left, managed a little on Monday and worked on it this evening, which is the last night it can go in.

Construction was relatively simple. It is labelled as an easy-to-sew pattern. I did struggle a bit with the yoke but really I think it's the same as a shirt yoke. I didn't use the burrito method - as I was so short of time, I followed the instructions to the letter. Next time I would have a go to see if it still works when the front is not split. Everything went swimmingly. In fact, the hardest part was getting the photos. David was out and in any case I hadn't finished the top - so the photos had to be taken in artificial light very late tonight. I don't look very happy in the photos, do I? I had to go to the dentist earlier this evening - I had a tooth out last week and there is infection now. I'm in quite a bit of pain but have started on antibiotics now.
Trying to show the back yoke and gathering beneath this.

I followed the instructions on the pattern The only modifications I made to it was to lengthen above the waist to bring the waist down lower and to cut to a larger size below the waist. I made the longer tunic to be worn with the belt but now think I'd actually prefer the shorter version. I might modify later or make another. I will wear this.
Front view without belt
Front view with belt
If I do make another, I will have to do a FBA. I will try to reduce bulk where the shoulder seams are turned under.
Back view with belt
Neckline detail
Here is my sewing bee entry:

Sewing Bee Round 2 - A Bias Garment 

Pattern or style, and how it fits the criteria: 
This is a woven top with the back and the front cut on the bias. There is a back yoke, which is cut on the straight of grain. I used a commercial pattern for which lighter weight woven fabrics such as charmeuse, crepe back satin, crepe de chine, double georgette etc. are recommended.
Fabric used - material and yardage:
I thought this was a woven viscose I bought online while I was gathering fabric to make a MOB dress (never made). I wanted a breathable fabric as I get very hot. I began to doubt that it was viscose, though, as it could only take a cool iron - a warmer iron and the fabric melted. I took it to my class and asked the tutor to try to help me identify it. She did a burn test and concluded that it was polyamide, which I couldn't list on the drop down menu. It did not burn like polyester or like viscose for that matter. My tutor thought it was a bit like a polyester crepe de chine, though not polyester from the burn test! There were strings of melted nylon like material. It is quite silky, light to medium weight, and has a nice drape. I used around 2 metres.
What other components did you use in your garment (closures, pockets, trim, etc): 
My garment has a draped neck and the bias cut allows the top to go over the head without the need for a separate closure. There is a self-faced yoke on the shoulder and to the back. I have also made a belt to go with the top. I made this extra long as I fancied tying it in a bow. I'm not sure I like the belt on, though.
Describe how the bias grain was used in your entry, and why:
The front and the back of the top were cut on the bias. The yoke is cut on the straight of grain, for stability. The use of bias cut fabric allows for greater drape, particularly for the neckline, and greater shaping.
Describe the fitting technique(s) you used to achieve shaping:/
Shaping is achieved by:
·       The use of a yoke
·       Small pleats at the front shoulder
·       Gathers in the back centre, below the yoke
·       Waistline contouring; I had to lengthen the pattern to bring the waist to a better position.
·       I had to give a little extra space at the hips and shaped the pattern outwards to a bigger size.
Have you included at least 3 pictures, including minimum one on a live model and one photo showing the bias grain? 
Yes. I found it impossible to actually show the bias grain as the fabric is print and quite fine and silky. I have shown pieces laid out ready to cut, clearly showing the fabric selvedge.
Describe what you like most about your entry:
I love the fabric! I think the bias top shows off the fabric rather nicely, although of course being a pattern rather than a directional print, stripe or check means that the fabric doesn't use some of the bias directional variations. I like the simplicity of the top. I also like that it is very cleanly finished on the inside. One advantage of using the bias was that the seam edges did not fray. I wasn't sure about this top and love that it looks like I can actually wear it.
Describe your biggest challenge in sewing this bias garment:
My absolutely biggest challenge was being realistic about what I could achieve in the very limited time I had available. I haven't sewn on the bias previously. I read through a number of articles and got a number of tips - including what fabrics NOT to use when you are starting out. Unfortunately, I couldn't buy suitable fabric locally so had to go with what I had - and that is one of the fabrics they suggest avoiding. Another challenge was finding a suitable pattern. I didn't have time to fit and make the bias dress I have planned for 'one day' (I even have the fabric for it) and decided to make a pattern for a simple top based on a RTW one I have and like - I started to pin it to make a pattern to change to bias but gave up through lack of time. Recommendations, however, when starting out are to use a commercial pattern - this was one of only two I had. Unfortunately this is not a TNT pattern.
What other information would you like to share about this project and your process?
I chose a pretty simple top for my first attempt at bias sewing. I didn't expect to get through to round 2 of the sewing bee - I only entered round 1 because of the garment required. However, having made it through, I was completely committed to following through - I certainly didn't want to deprive someone else of the opportunity. The sewing bee certainly stretches me. It also makes me do things faster!! In addition, I tend to procrastinate and there isn't time to do that in the sewing bee! That must help me in the long run.
I have read quite a bit and looked at a lot of info on bias sewing and will feel more confident about it on a future occasion. To be honest, I didn't find it that difficult.
I followed instructions to hang the top for a while before hemming it as I understand that hems can drop unevenly.
Overall, I am delighted that I have made a wearable garment within a very tight timeframe (due to other commitments), without first making a toile and getting totally tied up by and turned off by what is usually an interminable fitting process for me. That's not to say I think this top is perfect - I will make it again and alter a few things about fit and about the construction order.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

PR Sewing Bee Round 2 Challenge

My challenge:
We have to sew a garment made with a woven fabric (no stretch) cut on the bias, for an adult, male or female, by 11.59pm EST on Tuesday next.
So it's not the creativity challenge, after all! I'm almost disappointed!

I'm not sure what to make. 25 of the 60 who graduated from the first round will go through to the second and anything I make needs to stands out (but I'm not keen on doing stripes, though they show the bias better). It stands to reason it must be well done. It must fit - me or my husband to avoid the issues I had in the first round. The two necessary photos are one on the person and one close up showing that the grain is cut on the bias - this can be during or after construction.

Shirt? A plaid shirt is often on the straight grain with a bias yoke. I'm wondering if it could be the other way around?
I don't think a top? I have done a bias camisole in the past but I didn't like it and it looked pretty unexciting.

I need to raid my pattern stash and my fabric stash and if nothing comes to hand, go shopping before the shops close tonight as I'm away tomorrow. It's nearly 4pm here.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

I'm through to the PR Sewing Bee round 2!

This is very brief post.

With 59 others, I'm through to the next round of Pattern Review's Sewing Bee.
There were 104 completed entries, of which the majority were shorts - capris were also possible.

My entry, from my last post, was another pair of lace edged lined georgette  shorts for Joanne. She has received them now and she likes them as much as the first pair. I don't have a photo of her in them as yet. She's visiting in 3 weeks so I'll take some then. I won't be making another pair for her by then though I will make more. Joanne joked that as the two pairs I made have the same lace and this is very similar to the original RTW pair, that people will think there is only one pair. I fancy making some dark purple ones if I can source the lace.

I'm very grateful to Dan for modelling for me. One of the contest criteria was fit, so I'm glad that they fitted well enough even though Dan and Joanne are different heights. Perhaps this type of shorts is more forgiving in fit.

I will find out tomorrow afternoon what I have to do for the second round. As the contest is modelled on GBSB, this is likely to be an alteration or embellishment challenge - certainly one to show some creativity which,  I'm afraid, is certainly not my strong point! I'll let you know what I plan to do! Fortunately, the time scale is not the same as GBSB and we'll  have just short of a week - but that's still too short for me!

While I was waiting for the results, I worked on my Simplicity dress. There are problems with the style and I'm not sure I will continue with it. I have written  a post and will put it up in a few days.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

A Surrogate Model and a Deadline Made

You will no doubt remember that I made a pair of shorts for Joanne,  hacked from a disintegrating RTW pair that she had worn to death.  I didn't get them made in time for her birthday, 3rd week in August, but posted them off shortly afterwards and wrote a post here and a review on PR.

The new shorts - lace edging (shown two layered here0
Original damaged RTW shorts

What with helping my mother move and my plans to enter the Simplicity Sewing Challenge plus a busy golf season with a major deadline Thursday 8th September for which I had a very large printing job, I had no intentions of entering the PR Sewing Bee.  Just a week to make something?  Maybe something that wasn't my style?  No thanks. But then the challenge was posted - a pair of shorts! I just had to make another pair for Joanne!
The latest version, hanging on a hanger

Time differences and an all day into the evening golf match meant that I didn't find out about the challenge until late on Thursday 1 SeptemberThe closing date for this contest was 11.59pm EST on Wednesday 7th September. That's probably about 5am on Thursday morning here. So I didn't have much time (for me - for others it might be no problem!).

On Friday 2nd September, I decided to enter it, making another pair of shorts for Joanne. I haven't seen her in the ones I made, other than a pretty bad photo, but she says they fit and she loves them. Okay then. 
Photo of Joanne wearing the previous shorts I made
I first tried to seek clarification  on the forum that these counted as shorts and therefore meet the contest criteria. The consensus was that they did. I had previously called them culottes, not allowed in contest, but these had a number of specific criteria and mine were not culottes.

Same day, I went to Dainty Supplies in Washington (Tyne and Wear not DC) and bought single georgette in black and guipure lace in black. 
I wanted to use the top lace but there wasn't enough
This new georgette was much thinner and drapier than the double georgette I used last time, which was a very nice fabric available in a range of colours. I didn't have time to buy again. Anyway,  although I'd like to make in a different colour, I don't know of a stockist of coloured lace. I'm sure there must be one. I saw a black lace in Dainty I loved (the top one in photo above) but it was the end of the role and there wasn't enough, though I bought it just in case. I bought the only other suitable lace they had which turned out to be identical to the one I'd  used previously (in the shop,  I thought it was different). They didn't have a lovely flexible lightweight invisible zip so I had to make do with an ordinary one.

I got home and washed my fabric and lace.

I looked out my pattern pieces (easier said than done!!)  and slightly tidied my sewing room aka dining room. I cut out pieces in the later evening once the fabric was dry.

 Here I met my first problem!  Trying to be frugal with the fabric, I didn't notice I was cutting out over a slash. Two front pieces had to be redone. I interfaced the facing of the shaped waistband.  I sewed the pockets on the front and then interfaced the left back piece ready for zip insertion. I melted the fabric of this piece while fusing the interfacing and ruined my brand new ironing cover! It was really too late to carry on. Don't sew when tired!
Melted fabric

My brand new ironing board cover!

Saturday 3rd September and Sunday 4th September, I was in Scotland helping my mother. No sewing. When I got back late on Sunday I was really too tired to start. I did some of the golf printing  preparation

Monday 5th September - busy part of day and sewing bee in the evening. I spent ages looking for a lost back - realising eventually this was the one I'd melted but I hadn't re-cut! Re-cut it. No problem with making up lining this time, got the opening on the correct side! I have major problems with that. I overlocked the edges of all pieces to minimise fraying, except the crotch seam which I sewed together and then overlocked the two sides together, on the lining only. 

I found that despite having only made these shorts a couple of weeks previously, I didn't find it that easy. My unpicker saw a lot of business. I took to the sewing bee to continue working on it. Dan felt this fabric was closer to the original RTW than the double georgette, but I know which one I prefer!  I found it helpful to look at my toile from the previous time to help me with the steps. I asked Dan if she would model the shorts for a live model photo of the toile fitted. It did and she agreed. When I returned home I had to work on the golf stuff.

I had arranged to post to my daughter who had set up with a friend to take a photo when the shorts arrived. That meant I had to post special delivery on Tuesday and hope and pray her shifts would allow her to be in when they arrived, she wasn't busy,  the friend would be available etc. The more I thought about it, I reckoned it wouldn't work. I was rather a long way from finishing on Monday and the shorts would really need to be posted by 3.30 pm on Tuesday.

David suggested I may as well finish them anyway as Joanne would want them but forget about the sewing bee.

Tuesday 6th September - golf committee meeting in morning and busy in evening. I managed to finish the in-seam pockets and insert the zip. 

I'm trying to show the pocket in front of the zip here

and here

First side of zip pinned next to pocket, onto back pocket piece, pinned but not yet tacked

My short pieces did not have pocket extensions - this was the pocket shape

I decided to insert the lace at this stage. I sewed the lace right side to fabric right side, facing in towards legs, using my edge stitch foot to position the stitching carefully. 
Lace tacked right side of lace to right side of fabric, facing towards legs. Funny colour!

Using edge stitch foot to sew on lace

Lining layer is added here - this shows sewing along the original stitching, fabric side up

Understitching the lace
The inside of the lace edging showing the understitching
I had just enough lace and no more!  I stitched the lace at the junction by hand. I then positioned the lining to sandwich the lace between the lining and lace and sewed along my previous stitching line and then understitched. The first leg was easy but the second leg was slightly trickier because of the crotch. Overall, still easier than the way I did it last time which involved turning through the zip opening in the lining 

I really struggled with the waistband. I'm not sure why I have this problem but I find it difficult to get waistbands opening on the correct side and not be the wrong way out. My first waistband didn't work,  yep,  cut wrong way around. I made up a new waistband,  this time interfacing both sides and sewed on to shorts.  Bedtime.
My curved waistband
Way past last posting date for Joanne! Plan B now in operation!

Wednesday 7th September (D-Day) - I was due to have been busy most of day playing in my medal but woke up so sore and stiff I didn't play, fortunately for these shorts, if not for my handicap.  I had the first session of my new tailoring course in the evening and I had to get my major printing job done for Thursday. 

I found that my waistband of Tuesday night was also wrong! I'm still not sure what the problem was, believe it or not. The side seam was in the wrong place that is not matching the side seam on the shorts  so I thought I had sewed on inside out or rather made the wrong side the right side (I had a definite right side and wrong side as I had understitched) but that wasn't it. I must have put the underlap on the wrong side, though I didn't pick that up before I unpicked it. Anyway, I decided the outside had been changed too much by the interfacing and unpicked the whole band, made a new front without interfacing and made up a new waistband.  This time it went in okay. It looked much better than the interfaced outside. I must try to source some better, finer, black fusible interfacing for future projects. I simply overlocked the inside as I had run out of patience with this.

After this, it was plain sailing. Hand stitched the lining to the zip tape; sewed on waistband fastenings.
Showing zip, waistband inside and fastenings. You can see that I have simply overlocked the inside of the waistband

I took the shorts to my tailoring class and Dan kindly modelled them for me to take the required photo on a live model (I had already taken the other necessary photos and saved in a review as a work in progress), despite the fact that I was late and she had forgotten to tkae leggings to wear under the shorts. She is not a shorts person and didn't want to show her knees. Joanne is quite a bit taller than Dan so the shorts are rather longer on her than Joanne. I should say that Dan sportingly agreed to be identified in this blog post.

In class we were doing jetted pockets as part of jacket construction. More of the class at a later date.

I had a lot of difficulty putting in the review to PR. It seems that saving a contest entry as a WIP (a review of a piece of work in progress) leads to problems. It took me ages but I got there. I even managed to get my pre-AGM printing done for distribution on Thursday.

Today there was a major problem with our Internet server - not just us,  a big area was affected but this was fixed fairly quickly. However my PC is no longer working to link to the internet. Fortunately I got my linking and printing done last night! I'm trying to upload this post from my phone. I have some photos from construction on my phone (unedited) and I downloaded the 5 photos from my PR onto my phone here. So here goes! I managed to do some but then found that the problem was probably with my browser - I'm now on my PC with a different browser and not having the same problem. Whew!

I entered this contest only because I had recently made shorts for Joanne and was going to repeat them, anyway. After telling her I was doing this,  at this stage, I felt I had to carry it through. The timing was all wrong but I got them made. They look good - at first glance,  identical to the previous pair I made. David posted them off to Joanne for me today.

Fingers crossed for progression to Round 2!
My hope is that I will get through to Round 2 of the PR Sewing Bee this year.  I entered last year but was eliminated in the first round. Fingers crossed! I'll find out at the beginning of next week. Assuming I get through, which is a huge assumption considering all the wonderful entries, I will only go forward if I reasonably feel I can.

Sewing for Children Contest
Voting is still underway. Please vote for me!! I certainly don't expect to win but would like to come in the top half. Results should be out in a couple of days

Simplicity Sewing Challenge
As far as the Simplicity Sewing Challenge is concerned, I'd hoped to start that tomorrow (Friday) but now I'm going to my mother's for two days, so perhaps I might get to start on Sunday! I'm very busy for the rest of the month but still hope to achieve this. I should do, really, just as long as I'm not too much of a perfectionist and instead follow the mantra 'finished is better than perfect' or something like that, the implication being that I can spend so much time trying to perfect I don't get it done and lose my sewjo into the bargain. That's so true in my case. Rory has spent ages trying to get me to be faster, to just 'do it', to allow creativity to flow. I fear she's fighting a losing battle, but I'm trying and entry into these contests helps with that.

Update and Continuing with Machine Embroidery Course

I haven’t been sewing anything recently. I’ve managed a few alterations and repairs and a little bit of machine embroidery - though I’ve f...