Monday, 31 October 2016

A productive week and a visit to South Shields market for fabric

I've been surprisingly productive this week.

I've read a couple of blog posts about wasting what you have,  not wearing or using clothes you have made for yourself because perhaps of minor faults which mean you can't bear to wear it. I recognised that description.

We've been sorting out some things (in the course of which I've been gathering together my stash fabric which had been in different places - I couldn't believe I had so much!).  David brought me a large blue IKEA bag of what he thought was fabric for me to sort through. In fact, it turned out to be Joanne's stuff, which I assume she had left behind by mistake during one of her moves. There were some garments clearly hers including unworn items, still with labels plus sheets, duvet covers and a jacket. Also in there were some items I had made. As this has been in the garage, I did a lot of washing.

Simplicity 1542 for Joanne

There were two skirts I had made for Joanne. These were made before I had a blog, (January 2014) so no blog post. The photo here is not of the skirt I found - I had made 3 skirts in all. One was perfectly okay - a cotton skirt in a maroon patterned cotton with a waistband. 
It was too late to take a photo of the skirt. This is the fabric
I made the other quickly and did a simple casing with elastic as a waistband but I found that the elastic had twisted. I stretched the elastic to the length of the casing and stitched through the fabric and elastic in two rows. The elastic should be secure now.  That didn't take long. I think the skirt is much more functional now.

I really lie the jacket - but this project was skirt only

This is similar to the maroon skirt I found

You can just see the black elasticated waist skirt in the background, before my quick alteration

Pyjama Jacket using McCall's 4979

Also in there was a pyjama jacket that I made for myself originally (also January 2014) using this pattern and a yellow brushed cotton to tome in with the spotted yellow lightweight cotton I used for the trousers and top. I didn't review the jacket on PR so I don't have a photo from then. I did review the pyjamas, with me wearing them, but that's not for today! (If you really want to see me wearing them, you'll have to look for yourself on my PR projects!!) Here are the pyjamas:

I can't remember if I gave the jacket to Joanne after she borrowed it. The facing was not attached to the jacket and seemed determined to turn exposing the interfacing side.
Even after I washed and ironed these, the facing wanted to turn
In addition, this was one of my early makes and the shoulder and armhole seams were unfinished and fraying somewhat.
Shoulder/armhole seam - fraying fabric

The side seams were overlocked. I don't think I had a working overlocker at the time so assume I did this in the once monthly sewing class that I attended at the time, before I found my current more local classes. That was certainly where I made the pyjamas - trousers and bias top with shoe string straps and toning jacket. Everyone made the same pyjamas as a class project. I remember being scared of the overlocker but we were all ‘forced’ to use it.  I got over my fear but at the time I still had no idea how to determine seam width on an overlocker.

I decided to unpick the top of the armhole at the shoulder seam. This allowed me to get into and overlock the edges of the shoulder seams, changing to a set of threads a close as possible to the fabric shade.  I also overlock finished the armholes as much as possible - I didn't deconstruct enough to do this 100%. I then resewed the shoulder/armhole seam.  

Shoulder seams and armhole seam now overlocked. Much tidier.
Rough edging at neckline seam hidden by facing (top of photo)
The facing had been understitched etc so I certainly didn't plan to unpick that to get every last part of shoulder seam edge overlocked. No matter, this would be covered by the facing. I decided to top stitch the facing to hold it down. The thread I used is not the same thread as I used previously but it's fine for this project. The two top stitching rows certainly don't match. Nevertheless, I think it does look better, but more importantly I think this has improved both the function and the longevity of the pyjama jacket. Less ironing required too. Do the young iron?

The original row of topstitching at edge of jacket and new row at side of buttons, holding facing down. This follows edge all the way around at an even distance

Joanne is welcome to the jacket but if she doesn't want it, then I'll reclaim it as lounge wear. 

M&S Top alteration

Not a great photo but the best I could do tonight
Next was a sweatshirt top I bought quite cheaply. The sizing was rather strange which is why I think it was so markedly reduced (M&S). I bought a top 2 sizes bigger than my usual size in M&S but this just fitted me in the arms and at the bottom hip band. However, it was huge at the side seams. I pinned out the excess fabric, though not as much as I would have liked as I was constrained by not wanting to alter the armhole. So zero at the top of the side seam, quickly changing to a 1" plus reduction, staying at that for a while and then tapering out to zero again for the hip band which I didn't want to unpick. I first basted to try it out and asked David to check. He pinned it tighter but the sides were uneven so I stayed looser rather than tighter to match them up. I then sewed the new seam on the sewing machine and finished off by overlocking in white thread, cutting off the excess fabric. Result is not perfect but perfectly satisfactory and a top I will have no hesitation in wearing.
The removed part, against a scale.

Concord Tee toile and AGM preparation

This is a dress made with the fabric I used as my latest toile for the Concord tee. 
I've just tonight discovered that this is a Pont de Roma fabric

I made a new Concord tee toile with some of the fabric I found, leftover from a previous make, using the bigger bust size pattern. I'm still not happy with the fit, so I'm not finishing it completely and will ask for advice about it next week. It's not yet photographed as I want to alter further first.

Edited to add -  I took to class tonight and I got advice to alter the sleeve and to take in part of the fullness across the back - that is, more fullness. I've more to say on this but I'll wait until I post a specific post.

Unfortunately, I'll miss my Thursday sewing bee because of our Vets’ AGM; I'm secretary so I've got to be there! I've got 95% of what I need ready for that. It's taken quite a while so I'm glad to get the back of that broken. That's something else I've been very productive doing this week.

Preparing to make a Morris Blazer

I chose some stash fabric to make a Morris blazer, found a source for stretch lining and printed out and taped the PDF pattern, read some helpful reviews on PR and watched the sew along tutorial. I will have to make some changes for fit but it seems a fairly straightforward make. Not all the reviews are positive, in fact some far from it. I'm not sure when I'll start that. It's probably the wrong season now. I've wanted a casual stretch fabric blazer for a while. The fabric I've chosen is striped - is that too difficult to use, do you think?

Edited to add - I also took this to class tonight, as I needed to do a full bust adjustment. There are no darts on this blazer. Dan gave me some advice. Advice on the site ends up adding a side bust dart, so I'm not so sure that a stripe will be ideal. Rotating the dart just didn't work.

Some new fabrics and cataloguing the old

I carried on washing fabric. Stash and new. I had a delivery of fabric for specific purposes but I've only so far washed one, a bright yellow cotton twill intended as cargo pants for one sil. 
This doesn't begin to show the colour, I'm afraid

Another, not yet washed,  is a quilted self patterned fairly heavy jersey. I originally had this in mind for a kimono for Joanne's Christmas if I can't find a more exciting and suitable fabric, but I'm not sure this will work - it's too heavy and spongy, but I really like it. It's black, so not really my colour (though I think it would make a nice Morris blazer!)

I really like this. It's a black rather than the dark grey showing here
I didn't do much proper tidying of my sewing cave this week so that's still to do - I certainly can't leave it much longer! I've decided that I can't face cataloguing each piece of fabric but I've divided into boxes by type (wool;  stretch; woven;  linings and interfacing;  crafts) and hope a simple title will suffice for the present.

South Shields - market and library

For over 20 years, I worked in South Shields but never visited the market.  I didn't sew in those days, of course, as I didn't take up dressmaking until after I retired . I was aware that there was fabric at the market on a Saturday but even after taking up sewing I didn't visit as I played golf on a Saturday. So one of the unexpected side effects of not playing golf at the moment was that I could visit the market. I knew that I had already bought from one set of fabric vendors as they attend the Chester le Street market,  which I had visited. I heard that one of the regulars in Shields was giving up so I realised I had to visit sooner rather than later.

The lady, who is running down and buying less but not giving up just yet, has been there for 30 years and previously had a brick and mortar store. I had heard she had some ethnic fabrics and hoped to pick up some fabric suitable for making Joanne a kimono for Christmas. I didn't find what I expected, some African wax prints,  but I did pick up some fabric (I'm afraid! Or am I?).  For Joanne I found a black based floral-patterned Chinese silk. 
This is a Chinese silk (not pure silk)

I also bought turquoise dragonfly Chinese silk, for Alison - she loves dragonflies and her favourite colour is turquoise, so I couldn't resist it. She doesn't like kimonos so to be honest I'm not sure what I'm going to make with it! Probably a dress. I asked her what she might like and she surprisingly responded a long open cardigan,  so not unlike a kimono really. 

Turquoise. Dragonflies. Dan suggested a chinese top - don't know how to spell it. Q'pai?

I did buy a couple of other little bits but I'll talk about them another time. There's only so much I can admit to you at any one time! David approved the purchases so that's okay. No secrets from him!

A mounted lace

A fairly thick rather stable knit with lace added

A pleather (?)

Earlier in the week, I got a delivery of fabric, including some brushed cotton for making a shirt for David. Not surprisingly, it's a green-based plaid, which David chose himself. I'm hoping I have a suitable shirt pattern.  

Again, the colour is not right despite waiting until daylight to take photo.It's a lovely fabric.
I had originally thought I'd make a shacket but we've now decided on a shirt after all.  One of the other stalls in the Shields market consists of a small square of tables where the vendors stand apparently trapped in the middle. They sell interfacing, trimmings, thread, zips and buttons galore, with no room to move. I bought some buttons for David's shirt. I think the buttons look good with the fabric. I hadn't taken the fabric so wasn't able to buy thread but have some that is excellent for the buttons, though I think I need a darker shade for all the topstitching.

Last week, The Word, South Shields’ new library and The National Centre for the Written Word, opened and so we went in for a coffee, overlooking the Tyne. We also went up to the viewing area for a better view.  They have an exhibition area - a Ridley Scott exhibition is on at present, until May, I believe. In two weeks time they have a Gothic for Girls event with fashion and story so I may visit that. It's a great building. It has some fabulous areas inside.

Fabric and Haberdashery in Blaydon

We have had a broken shade on a triple pendant light fitting for some considerable time which we have been unable to replace, either just the shade or all 3 shades. We have looked all over and searched on the internet to no avail. It's one of a pair, one upstairs and one downstairs. We finally decided we'd need to replace the whole fitting. Last week we noticed a new lighting store so decided to visit on the way home today. This is in a store called the Curtain Store in Blaydon. I used to shop there when it was an old dingy warehouse used as a remnant warehouse by its sister store around the corner. As well as home ware and curtain fabric, I bought some cheap fabrics I used for  dressmaking toiles. That closed for refitting and is now a lovely store with cafe and toilets etc. We didn't buy lights - but they do now have a whole dressmaking and haberdashery section! I didn't buy anything but I know where it is!  They did have some fabric I liked but I had already bought enough.  I can show some control!

Domestic DIY - fridge problem

We were on our way to Maplin. Our tall larder fridge appeared to die - it was flashing and giving audible warnings and not keeping temperature. David searched online and came up with our problem as a common issue.  The replacement circuit board is £189 (ex labour) but the likely culprit capacitors are much cheaper and David is very handy. We got the capacitors from Maplin but then when he dismantled the fridge to replace them, found that our board is somewhat different from the ones described in the tutorials (for want of a better word) David found. We've ordered a likely replacement. In the meantime, the fridge is working again - apparently these capacitors are 'self-healing' so we've possibly bought a respite. If /When the fridge plays up again and the new capacitor ext doesn't work, we may consider a new fridge to get the guarantee. We can buy a fridge for not much more than the cost of the circuit board, but a replacement fridge of the same type is over £600. Is it worth getting the circuit board replaced when necessary? Mmm.

Tailoring Class and McCall's jacket tissue fitting

I've mentioned my tailoring class in passing, really. This coming week I think we're starting to work on our personal blocks. I decided to cut out and tissue fit a Palmer Pletsch jacket McCall's 6172. I used the high bust measurement to choose my size, as advised, despite my HB-FB difference being just 2", as I always need an FBA. I don't need a narrow back or broad back adjustment, I don't think, anyway - David was helping me with the fitting. I do need a 2.25" FBA and I'm in the process of doing that and then will enlarge arm by 1.5". Then I need to check to see what's that's done to hip room and bust position. They may need altered. They do on the tissue at the moment but I think I need to wait see. I do plan a toile. I know that PP feel that you can go straight from tissue fitting to adjusting on your fashion fabric, but I'm not happy with that concept.

Edited to add - Rory had a look at the humongous FBA I ended up doing on the tissue. She tissue fitted it and felt that it was okay but needed some work at the shoulder which she felt would be better done in calico. So that's my plan - I'd like to ge tit cut out before the tailoring class on Wednesday.

(Written Sunday)

I was taken by surprise by it being so dark so early today, thanks to the clock change. I haven't got the photos I wanted to take for this post, which has been written in dribs and drabs. I'm busy tomorrow  but  I might sneak in some photos before I go out tomorrow morning or in the evening after  I come back from the Sewing Bee.. (Edited to add - yes, they're there!)

Halloween tomorrow. We bought some goodies for possible guisers. We weren't brought up on Trick or Treat, which is getting more common here. I did have Halloween parties as a child and dressed up - we dooked for apples, tried to eat candy apples blindfolded etc. A long time ago!! I'm not at all sure about the 'trick' part of it - does that include egging houses if the householder doesn't provide money? Sounds unpleasant. The guisers who tend to come to our house are young children accompanied in the background by  a parent or older sibling. An occasional much older group, but we haven't had issues with them. We have had our house egged, twice. Not because we refused to provide - it wasn't even Halloween and we didn't see the people involved. Like ringing a doorbell and running away, but much nastier. 

Edited to add - we had a number of pleasant guisers. Usually wishing a Happy Halloween. Children. Dan was late for class tonight - she got her car egged. First time she's ever been the victim of egging.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Cashmerette Concord - part 1

I was delighted when I won this PDF pattern from Carolyn of Diary of A Sewing Fanatic, a part of a giveaway for National Sewing Month in the US. I wanted to sew up a simple pattern after my recent hair-tearing makes!

This is a tee shirt with a choice of necklines, sleeves and sleeve lengths and body lengths. It is designed for fabric with 20% stretch and is described as having a ‘modern RTW fit’. There is over 2” of negative ease at the bust,  and minimal ease at the hips, about ½” - this is described as just skimming the hips.

The first step was to decide what size to make. Cashmerette patterns are sized by full bust size and come in cup sizes C/D, E/F and G/H. That's great, no full bust adjustment! After you take your bust size, you check that size on a chart which gives you the size to make, or a choice of two sizes. If there is a choice of two sizes, the one closest to the size containing your waist size is used (smaller cup size if your waist is bigger, as mine was). I understood this. With a 42" bust and larger waist, I needed to make a 14C/D. I would, however, need to grade out significantly at waist to a 16 and hips, to an 18.

However, I wasn't keen on that much negative ease at the bust. I wasn't sure whether to increase cup size,  bust size,  or both. I contacted Jenny, who responded very quickly (thank you) suggesting, after getting all my measurements, that I cut the 18C/D, changing to a 16G/H if the shoulders were too wide. My measurements are, for the sake of completeness - 42 - 36/38(!!) - 47 and I'm 5'11"

I needed to know this before printing as the choice at home is to print C/D, E/F or G/H - all sizes 12 - 28 are on one printout but not all cup sizes. I therefore printed out the 31 pattern pages, after checking that the test size square measured correctly. It did.

When I went to start taping my pattern together,  I realised that a thin sliver was missing from the side and top of each sheet. I couldn't work out what was going on and again contacted Jenny who hadn't had this problem previously. Again she responded very quickly indeed despite it being a weekend evening.  Just before I sent off the screen shots she requested, I discovered that changing a particular orientation setting solved the problem. The pattern now printed centred on the page from side to side and top to bottom, instead of being skewed as previously. I have never had to use this particular setting on previous PDFs. I don't know to what extent this was related to me printing on A4 paper, which is our standard here, when the pattern is sized to letter size - though it can certainly print on A4 paper, just leaving quite a large margin around the printed area. Another 31 pages printed.

Putting the pattern together was fine. There is a 1” grid throughout the pieces which helps with alignment. I like trimming my edges using a trimmer.

I cut out a straight 18C/D and went ahead and used this to cut out the tee with long body,  side slits, high neckline and long sleeves. Actually,  I changed to short sleeves (less fabric) when I realised I probably needed a full biceps adjustment and I hadn't done that. This was not intended as a toile as I used some pretty nice fabric. I didn't have any suitable cheaper fabric for a toile. (I'm doing a stash tidy and have discovered some fabrics...)

I started to make up the top but found that it didn't fit as I would like. The neckline was too wide. I felt the whole top was a bit tighter than it should be. There was gaping at the front of the armhole (no sleeves attached) suggesting the need for a FBA. I should say, though, that this was in class and the try-on was less well done than it should have been! Over a tee-shirt...

I had read a few reviews but none was particularly critical. After starting to make up my top and finding it didn't fit as I would like, I looked at further reviews. I found that in general the necklines are wide, the fit is very slim, many of those who made it went up in size or in cup size or both. These are not criticisms but I do need to know that as this affects choices. Clearly, too, the fabric used impacts on that. Personal taste comes into this,  too. At my age I don't want a body-hugging tee. I'm not sure I ever did!

Marianne of Foxgloves and Thimbles reckoned it's worth persisting through initial fitting issues, which she also had, so I decided I would.

I reprinted the front in the G/H size,  have narrowed the neck a little, though I could get away with the width without adjustment (the shoulder fit is fine), did a nearly 2” full biceps adjustment, which involves the sleeve, sleeve cap and the armscye; this amount of change caused a marked dipping in the sleeve cap, which had to be restored - amount decided by drawing original cap before the manipulation and comparing.
I made the adjustment on the full sleeve length but then cut the pattern pieces to the short length I wanted

For this, I used Palmer Pletsch Fit for Real People, but Jenny also sent me a link to a tutorial on the Curvy Sewing Collective. I compared  the sleeve to the armscye (walked) to work out how much that required to be adjusted. I will/may add a touch to the hip circumference for the next tee (depending on how successful my cake fast is!!) I found that not much in the way of length adjustment is required. I made a 1" lengthening but am not sure whether I really need it. I'll leave that to see how it looks when made up.

Comparing the two fronts,  I can see the extra space that I feel I need at the bust level. Jenny told me that the sleeve doesn't change. That's why I only printed out the pieces for the front.
The purple mark and arrow between purple and orange lines shows the difference between the C/D and G/H cups. The extra marks were where I was deciding to add to armscye following the sleeve adjustment
The actual sewing will be quick.

However, in the meantime, I wondered about salvaging my fabric, for me. I'm planning to add a gusset. The options I had -
  1. I could re-cut the short sleeves, wider by the extra 2” I need. The sleeve band would also need to be re-cut wider (I haven't already cut it in the smaller width). I would then add a triangular shape in the top of the side seams. Although I think the underarm could benefit from being raised, I won't alter at this stage.
  2. I could add a gusset extending from bodice up through into sleeve. Triangular in bodice, parallel sides in sleeve.
I decided the first method would be easier easier for this hopefully quick fix.
The triangular addition to the bodice will also give a bit of extra space at the bust,  provided I make it long enough

Both methods involve a different stitching order. The original instructions have you put the sleeve in flat and then sew up bodice sides and sleeves. I would have to do this differently and set the sleeve in after the bodice is sewn. No problem.

I'm planning to leave this until my next sewing bee so that there is advice on hand if I need it. Mid term break is next week, so that's this Thursday with Lyn (This was on Thursday past, so I will update with a post later) or in two weeks with Dan. Yes, I attend 2 bees weekly,  when I can (I do miss quite a few because of other commitments) . In addition, I'm attending a tailoring module with Rory - again, I'll have to miss some sessions but I can catch up in the sewing bee. I'm very lucky!

Any comments?

I hope to do the update post later in the week

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Dan to the Rescue!

Dan to the rescue! Part 1

I wasn’t happy with the dress, Simplicity 1458, I entered for the Simplicity Sewing Challenge, as those who read my blog know. I ran out of time to complete it more satisfactorily. I did decide in the end that the dress had a lot more going for it than I originally gave it credit for, though, even though my iteration was poor.  To make it a challenge, I really couldn’t ask for help with it before submission. I don’t count David pinning me into it as helping with the construction etc however invaluable that was.

These are photos of the dress at the point of entry, last Friday. At this stage, the armholes and neckline are finished, so not directly comparable with the later photos.

 Fitting remained the big issue. The dress was unflattering, didn’t have enough shape and was overall too big - I could get it on and off without using the zip. I wasn't sure how much of this was due to me having altered the pattern bodice length and hence the upper side panel lengths, perhaps reducing the amount of shaping they were providing. I assumed that the main problem was in how I had sewn together the junctions at the side - that is the junction between upper and side panels, back and front and junction between back and front. I knew the way I had done this didn’t look as good as it should have done and couldn’t be correct but I had tried several times to improve without any success. I have still not found the instructions but remain hopeful.

Dan reads my blog so is aware of all the issues I was having and my thoughts on the matter.  I took it into her sewing bee last night and asked advice. She agreed it was shapeless and needed to fit into my curves better. She pinned the front princess seams in around the bust and immediately the whole thing looked so much better! She also pinned the back princess seam tighter.

Dan also thought the shoulders looked a bit wide but I had already taken out the finishing , so they are ⅝” wider than finished width and when she turned in on the marks which are still present, she thought it was fine.

I needed to use the zip to get it off! Much better already.

David kindly took some photos of the pinned dress. He thinks it is too tight now, which in part explains why he pinned it less tightly originally. I like it much better, though

This is simply pinned, so there are some drag lines and it's crushed as was in my bag.
Armholes and neckline are raw edges with full seam allowance of 5/8"

It's sunny outside - you can see how thin the fabric is

You can see that I wasn't comfortable standing in this position!

It now seems to be shorter at the back

These are not vanity photos!!

A number of the other bees commented that they liked the dress, particularly the colour, which is lovely, but also the style. I thought the fabric was too thin and needed a lining but the others said that it had looked fine in class - in the sunshine in my photos, that's not the case!

I also asked Dan about the zipper. I noticed that when I was doing the neckline finishing (which by this time I had taken out again ready to dismantle the dress) that I couldn’t turn the full seam allowance at the zipper area. I asked Dan if I had put the zip in too high and she agreed that this was the case - there just wasn’t the full seam allowance available. So I will take the zip out too. It doesn’t need dropped that much but will also give me a chance to get rid of that little kink at the bottom of the zip. Practice always helps.

We didn’t actually touch the side seams at this stage. I will alter things the way we have discussed and eventually I’ll be able to alter the side junctions with a bit more faith that things will work.

The other question I had was whether the dress would be better on me with a little less flare. Dan helpfully pointed out that this would depend on the fabric used. A flowy, drapey fabric could take this amount of flare, a stiffer fabric less so. So I haven’t changed this.

I will also make it a little longer - perhaps more so at the back. I'll need to look at what the problem there is, though I suspect it's me filling it out too much!

I’ve posted a picture of the dress before Dan’s pinning and after her pinning and eventually hopefully I’ll be able to post a much more finished version.

I will be treating this as fitting toile so I won't be making the facings or a lining at this stage as that’s really not necessary. A lining should be pretty straightforward. If I do the facings, I know of course that the pattern for them will  need to modified as I have modified the dress. Which fabric I use will determine which method I go for, I think.

Tartan skirt McCall’s 7022
In the sewing bee, I cut out the skirt pattern in calico to make a toile for Helen. I was interested that both Dan and Rory are anticipating that I might be very pernickety with matching etc (yes, I do plan to be!). I got the impression that Dan might be more up for this than Rory, though I expect to do most of this at home. I’d like to get a first fitting toile ready to post to Helen soonish. She can pin and let me know what needs to be done. I can’t really use Missy as I don’t think she is close enough to Helen now. I’m not worried about the sides, but obviously a bias yoke needs to fit well to look good. Rory suggested I’d be better cutting in gingham rather than plain calico as it would be easier to see how things lie - the pleats are not parallel with the grainline, particularly as I'll be using tartan for the final version and will need to adjust the pleat width to fit in with the tartan sett. I don’t have any gingham at present so I’ll make do with the calico for the first toile. My next fabric shopping trip will include buying some gingham.


I also discussed with Dan that I wanted to make a pair of trousers to fit me and we explored the different ways to do this. I will be pursuing this in the sewing bee over the course of several weeks. It seems to me that concentrating all my fitting issues into a very short space of time is very off-putting so I’ll dilute this with other projects! For this, though, I definitely need her help. I might be ready to start this in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Pie crust promises?

I’ve decided I’m not going to enter any more competitions/contests!  Well, that’s not no more, ever - just no more unless I was planning to make whatever, in any case. I feel a lot happier.

I've been so caught up in contests that I've lost sight of what I wanted to do for myself. David pulled me up on this over this weekend. He's quite right of course.

PR Sewing Bee

I couldn’t cope with the time pressures of the PR Sewing Bee. You’ll certainly never find me on GBSB!! I hadn't intended to enter the Sewing Bee but I had to when the required make was  apir of shorts! The first round was fine as I was going to sew Joanne another pair of shorts using the pattern I had made for her and which led to well fitting shorts, anyway. So it was no great problem to make up a pair in a short time scale. I knew how to do it and had completed a pair just a couple if weeks earlier. The biggest problems were getting the materials and my carelessness. Joanne was certainly pleased to get another pair, though she might have preferred them to be more different from the first pair so that everyone would stop thinking she wears the one pair all the time! I tried to get a different colour of double georgette (possible online, not locally) but haven’t been able to resource matching guipure lace. In any case, Joanne likes black! She has to wear black to work, too.

I didn’t expect to get through to the second round, though of course I was delighted. I had real problems with this round - finding a pattern, getting materials, getting any inspiration whatsoever, and finding the time to sew (when I didn't really want to!). In the end, my garment was pretty simple and lacked any inspiration, being made up exactly as per pattern. It’s no wonder it didn’t make it to the third round! I have worn it, though! I love the fabric.

I was disappointed, sure, when I didn't make it through - but mighty relieved as my time has been particularly short this last week. That and that I didn’t like the pattern chosen - the Colette Rue. Initially the contestants had to make a dress putting their own spin on it but keeping it clearly a Rue but that has changed slightly and they can now make any garment. However, I’ve been reading some posts about this pattern. It seems to be very badly drafted and there are all sorts of fitting problems with it. People who don’t usually make toiles have been making 5 even 7 toiles! There is a lot of activity on the forum. I have such problems with fitting anyway that I am very glad not to be trying this one. Also, I think the Colette patterns are aimed at a younger clientele. I can’t see me suiting this design. Most of the Colette patterns I have seen made up appear to have fitting issues so I’ve never been eager to make any - though I do have the Colette book.

Simplicity Sewing Challenge

I had months to enter the Simplicity Challenge - and kept procrastinating or getting involved with other things. I feel bad (embarrassed) that I have blogged about a dress when I am far from happy with it. I ended up doing it as quickly as one of the PR sewing bee rounds, when that wasn’t necessary, rather shouldn’t have been necessary, except that I had completely run out of time. What I have is a toile. Yes, I can wear it - around the house, certainly not outside! Given a while longer, and some help from my sewing tutor, I could make this into a very acceptable dress. I may well try this. I may well  post  a review on PR if I take it to the next stage. Obviously, I ‘d have to use a fabric with more body

Sewing Dare

I still have to complete the sewing dare - mine is to remake a previous garment. I still plan to remake my ‘white dress’. I have got as far as altering the pattern after making adjustments to the pattern. Yes, this is something I want to do.

Toile for modification. It's not far away.
I prefer this shape on me to the A-line skirt I made in the sma efabric for the last challenge I entered

 Helen wants me to give her a pattern that fits me perfectly - she wants to make up a dress for me in the fabric she has bought, as a thank you for making her wedding dress. No, Helen doesn’t sew and doesn’t go to a class, so I’m not sure how well this will work out, but the thought is there! So I need to move on with this fitting. I think my white dress (shown above as a toile in turquoise!) will be a nice shape for her though I don't know what the fabric is like, so a non-princess seamed dress could be better.

What I really want to do

However, what I want to do for myself/family is
  • I have been distracted by contests and haven't got around to sorting out my blocks properly, given that I have gained weight (I plan to lose it again but I find this hard). I want to sort out at least a bodice block.
  • Make a well fitting pair of trousers (pants). It’ll take a while. I have some fitting patterns, a Craftsy class, any number of books and help from my tutor at the sewing bee, hopefully.
  • Make a jacket following my tailoring course. I’ll get help in class with fitting and any constructional issues. As I’m retired, I prefer a smart casual jacket rather than a tailored suit jacket. I took some patterns in and my tutor has approved two. I rather favour Vogue 1036, view B, in a nice wool, not the denim recommended. All the reviews I have seen have used denim - this is seen very much as a Jeans jacket but seeing the lines, I hope to create something less casual but still with the casual vibe and the lovely sleeve seaming 
I love the seaming on the sleeve of the white version B

B is my choice

  • Before this, though, I want to make up what I think should be an easy pattern - the Cashmerette Concord T shirt. I won this in a giveaway run by Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic.  It comes with FBAs already done in C/D, E/F and G/H so sewing it should be easy.I finally managed to get it printed out today (I've had some home network problems recently). It’s for a knit fabric so I’ll get that washed some time next week. I have plenty of suitable fabrics in my out-of-hand stash! Looking at their sizing recommendations, I plan to make the  16C/D. The recommendations are based on full bust size and I could have gone for a smaller size but there is a fair bit of negative ease and I feel a bit wary about that. I wondered about the next cup size up but in the end decided to go with the recommendations.
Joanne likes the pink version (in black of course) while I prefer the other

Various versions are available
  • Joanne arrived for a visit today and she quite fancies a Concord tee shirt in the short sleeved, scoop necked version - in black, of course! I don’t have any black stretch fabric (black isn’t one of my colours) but I’ll see what I can do.
  • Last year I was going to make Helen a fully pleated skirt in our family tartan but because of the wedding didn’t get past the test garment. I had a few issues with that test garment and wasn’t sure how to resolve them. We have now chosen a pattern with two box pleats on each side, front and back, and a bias yoke and I think fitting will be easier with this. Also, a fully pleated skirt in heavy tartan is quite a weight and this will be lighter.

Helen likes the shorter version. This will either be for her birthday in November or for Christmas.

Helen likes version A
  • Note - other than Helen's skirt I am not setting any time scales - realistic or otherwise!

So, I’m not going to enter the PR handbag contest (I don’t have a pattern for the golf handbag I want to replace and don’t feel up to making one up) or the outerwear contest (I’ve never done anything along these lines and feel I need a bit of help - not possible of course in the contest; and fitting!), though I may do the menswear contest later in the year. Just maybe! The one good thing to be said about contests is that they really give me a time frame.

This weekend, I have done virtually nothing. Watched the Ryder Cup - the USA team won, deservedly so. Wrote this blog post, edited my last. I’m starting to feel a bit better after the bug I’ve had. I’ve cancelled the game of golf I had tomorrow, just 9 holes followed by afternoon tea - but I’m still going for afternoon tea. I think I was trying to push too much into too little time. Joanne is here for a few days and that’s lovely. I did a bit of cooking today, she’ll do a bit, we’ll have some board games and some trips and it will be very relaxing - we all need that.

Patternmaking Made Easy by Connie Amaden Crawford; balancing patterns

I bought a new old book. That's no surprise to those of you who know of my book addiction, of course. What might surprise you is h...