Thursday, 25 April 2013

Project 20, re-branded

I obviously needed to cut down on the number of Burda Magazine patterns that I’m considering, so I’ve removed this one from the list:

The right fabric for this was originally tagged for a wrap top from Butterick, which I’ve used before.  I like the shape of the top and I have a gap in my wardrobe in terms of a red top.  However, the more I looked at the Burda magazine version the more I loved it.  I quit smoking just before Christmas and have put on a few kilos since then and I figured that the flowing/draping style might be more flattering until I’ve got rid of them.  The downside of using the red to make this Burda top is that I’ve already committed to the red top as project twenty of my fifty-two projects.  Not that I really committed to the fifty-two, but I am keeping an eye on the list, even if only to discipline me to use existing fabrics.

Re-thinking the fifty-two projects, if I consider the list as motivation to use existing fabric, then it is the fabric, rather than the pattern that I intended to use that is important. 

So I decided to re-brand project twenty “Red Lycra mock wrap top” as “Red Lycra top” and give myself permission to use the Burda pattern.

In fact, I’m glad I did as I really like this top. 

Compared to a simple T shirt it wasn’t difficult and I knocked it up in a morning.  I did change the pattern slightly, using a thin strip of Lycra, folded over, to bind the neck line rather than the facing that the magazine suggested.  I’ve never had much success with lycra facing.  It’s such a slippery fabric that it just doesn’t give the neckline any body and doesn’t take well to iron on interfacing.  In contract, binding the neck line with a slightly stretched strip of the same fabric tends to hold it close to the body and prevent any unintentional underwear displays.

Historical Burda Magazines?

Ok, my last attempt at sussing out a Burda pattern for the Burda sew-a-long didn’t get further than the very recent ones. 
Today is a public holiday in NZ and it’s windy, pouring with rain and I’ve got a cold, so I can’t go diving.
 Sounds like a good excuse to make a coffee and get my older magazines out.  I know that there are several patterns that I have always wanted to get around to making.

I've been getting Burda regularly for about six years, but on and off for a lot longer.  My Oldest Burda?  September 1989.  

My oldest Burda is actually older than my oldest child!
Not all the outfits would be out of place today.  

These shorts from May 1991 are not fundamentally different from what the younger set are wearing now.  Although the lingerie feature in the June 1990 issue did have a dated feel about it:

 In terms of what would I like to sew now?

I loved this when the magazine came out in May 1991 and I still do.  Today I'd probably pick a different colour for the side panels, rather than just a different texture, with a nod to the colour blocking trend, but I would wear this as a top, or as a waistcoat in the cooler months. 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Not really fabric buying?

In theory I’m trying to not buy Fabric at the moment.  I identified 52 Projects for 2013, all from my current fabric stash!  I figured that if I already have at least 52 fabrics that need sewing, I really need to start sewing them, not buying more.   BUT this wasn’t really “buying”, I mean, not really...

There was no reserve on this auction, so I put a $1 bid in, just to see what happened... and I won it!  Really, $1? That’s not really fabric “buying”is it?

2 ½ metres of a very thin white fleece
4 metres of a peachy coloured tweed
2 metres of a two tone brown and gold curtain type fabric
4 metres of a pink body mesh
1.2 metres of a butter colours silk

1.3 metres of a georgeous aqua and tan tye-die type print
1.5 of a grey/creamy lycra
4 metres of a pale stone coloured chifon
3 metres of a vanilla cream embossed furnishing fabric

90 cm of a white denim weight daisy print
2.2 metres of  a black and gold print
1.4 metres of white lining

2 metres black chiffon

1.6 metres of a yellow and black print

2 metres of a navy and rasberry pink floral print

And more T shirting than I cared to measure – mostly black, but with some white, brown, red and green (all with matching ribbing)

There was alos about 10 lengths of less than a metre which will become trimming, bags and practice peices.

This was almost like Christmas!  Three boxes of fabric, and at only a dollar I figure it doesn’t really count as “buying” fabric, so I don’t need to feel guilty. 

Burda Sew-a-long

The curious kiwi and other Wellington bloggers have had a great idea! A Burda magazine sew-a-long. 
This got me thinking about all the Burda Magazine patterns that I wanted to try.  I love the Burda magazine, get the newsagent to save me a copy every month, and at least half my sewing projects are from the magazine. If you haven't tried sewing from here this is a great opportunity to give it a go.  Drafting the patterns from the magazine can be intimidating, but once you've done it you'll wonder why you were worried about it.  The instructions are not always as clear as they could be, but if you follow the numbers and apply a little common sense anyone can sew them.
Last weekend was wet and windy, so it seemed an ideal time to make myself a pot of coffee and sit down with my pile of Burda magazines.  My goal was to identify five possible candidates for the Burda sew-a-long and put their pictures on my studio wall, so that by the time the Wellington bloggers launched the sew a long I would be able to select the pattern that I wanted to do.  Of course, the biggest challenge was identifying only five, as I have copies of the magazine going back over ten years!  Starting with the more recent ones I got to five:
 I’m having a bit of crisis about the jumpsuit from February 2013. I do like it, and can see me wearing it, but...
I remember being told that one shouldn’t do a fashion if one remembers it the first time round, and I do remember the jumpsuits in the early eighties ...(Charlie’s angels anyone???)  I’m embarrassed to admit that I wore jump suits like theirs. 

Well not exactly like these, more like...

...but the Burda version does look more modern and I have a few fabric options, including a really vibrant tie-dyed sort of look, a soft grey crinkle fabric, a black and cream print or a plain brown tencel.

(Project 28) Away from the jump suit option I do have a lovely drapy black merino knit that would really lend itself to a drapy cardigan like...

I’ve got heaps of T shirting from my $1 haul, but to prevent it becoming a boring I’m in search of slightly different T shirt cuts...

And I soooo fell in love with this ... from the latest Burda (at least, the latest to us here in NZ).

and I do have a lovely red lycra that would look great in this.  I did have this fabric ear marked for Project 20, but I think it might look better in this pattern
Here's another one that I (just) remember last time, but I have a strange urge to do again; the hippy Kaftan.  It just looks so easy and relaxed.  I can see me lounging on the couch reading a book, listening to music in this:
All these patterns are from very recent mags, but I also know there are patterns I'd love to do in the older magazines too.  The Wellington bloggers are looking at kicking the sew-a-long in May, so I haven't got long to settle on a pattern.  I haven't even looked at the really old magazines.  The very old ones are written German, with my translation notes scribbled in the margins.  I wonder whether I should look for an original version of the kaftan and the jumpsuit to compare them...
I'd be interested to know if anyone else has older Burda Magazines?

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

drafting a skirt inspired by simplicity 1802

I have had my eye on Simplicity 1802 for a while.  

Some of the comments on Pattern Review are a little critical of the drafting for this dress, and I wasn't 100% sure about the bodice on my body.  

When the curious kiwi decided that it  wasn't going to work I figured that the sewing Gods had spoken - this was not the dress for me.  

I still hankered a little and decided that I'd like to try a skirt with those fancy godet things even if the whole dress wasn't for me.  Try as though I might I couldn't find a pattern for a comparable skirt, I resent buying a pattern that the Internet sewing community in general seems to regard as badly drafted, especially just to hack it about and turn it into a skirt.

Eventually a friend asked why I'd spent numerous evenings and several hundred dollars on pattern drafting classes and still seemed tied to the limitations of commercial patterns.  

OK, I can take a hint - I'll have a go at drafting my own skirt inspired by the Simplicity Cynthia Rowley dress.

I started with my basic skirt block.  This is simply a pattern for a straight tailored skirt that is drafted to my measurements and I've been through the whole muslin-fitting circuit enough times to know that it is a perfect fit.  In fact, any well fitting straight skirt pattern would do.  (note, there are NO seam allowances on the pieces in these pictures)
So, I traced my basic front piece with the centre front fold on a folded piece of tracing paper. 

I then drew two identical arches on either side of the pattern piece.  (I actually drew one, cut it out and drew round it to produce a second identical one). I then separated the arches from the main skirt front.

The remaining piece became my front skirt piece, and I removed the folded over section by cutting up the centre front fold. This left me with a front piece to cut on the fold.  In case you're wondering why I put it on a folded piece in the first place....

I wanted the godet piece whole, not a half piece.

I then unfolded the godet piece and made two cuts, not quite to the top of the godet...
I was able to spread out the three "legs" of the godet piece and pin them onto another sheet of tracing paper all spread out.  I then drew round the spread out pieces to produce a more flared godet piece, joining up the "legs" with a slightly curved line.

I then had a pattern for a godet piece to fit into the arch that I had cut out of the skirt front. (remember I haven't changed the outer edge of the arched pieces at all, so they should still fit into the same arch shaped gaps that they came out of.)

I cut the same pieces out of the back skirt so that I would have a skirt with four arches cut out of it.

Since I prefer a centre back zip I ensured that I left enough centre back seam to insert a zip before the godets start.

I then sat on the idea for a good  month.  There was an element of procrastination in the month, but also having a guest sleeping in my studio did make it a little harder to get into sewing projects  Last weekend I got my studio back and jumped into the skirt project.  I'm not 100% sure about the outcome.  I suspect that a check might not have been the best fabric, but I've already made a jacket, pants and skirt out of the fabric, so a second skirt seemed to make sense.  One of the jackets and the skirt have some red detaiing I added piping round the edge of the godets
Although the photos came out looking rather fussy the skirt works.  In real life it didn't look as un-ironed as the photos and was comfortable depite not being lined.  If I was doing it again I might make the godgets a little wider, but other than that I can see this skirt getting used on a regular basis, especially with the matching jacket as a slightly unusual suit (which also happens to match my favourite large handbag)

Since I can't resist using it , I still had to let my embroidery machine loose on a little of this project so I made a T shirt and added a tuatara in the black and white check

This was project 16 on my lists for 2013.  I'm still a little behind, but I know what I'm doing at the moment.
I now have a suit with two posible jackets, two skirts and a pair of trousers.  I also have a good couple of metres of the fabric left.

I'll pack it up and take it to the Auckland bloggers sewing Meet up that dresses and me is arranging and see if I can find it a new home. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Project one

Project one was a case for my medication.  In theory this was just for when I was travelling, but it’s also useful for popping into my hand bag.  I don’t necessarily want to have pills floating around my handbag, or be advertising them to everyone, so I felt that a neat little bag to keep them in would be useful, and a fun project.

I’ve been busy following Amy Gibson’s block of the month and have almost completed all 20 blocks.  Looking ahead I watched her video on the actual quilting bit and thought it might be fun to try out a little quilting. 

 A quilted a couple of pieces, one just following the pattern on the fabric with my ordinary sewing machine,...
And another using my embroidery machine.  Having got this swept up machine, I figure that I might as well use it to do some, if not all the quilting...


Getting the fabric, backing and wadding into the hoop was challenging, but I did manage it with a little swearing and used a simple daisy design...


My gut feeling – standard embroidery designs are too fussy for quilting.  Both the design and  the quilting managed to get lost.

I bound both pieces together and added a clip from Spotlight to complete the bag.

I also learned a little more about quilting.  If I’m going to use my embroidery machine I need to get a simpler design (possibly designed for quilting rather than embroidery) and find an easier way to hoop a quilt up.  If I’m going to use my straight sewing machine I need to get a massive delivery of patience!!! 

The case for my medication is complete, but the lesson is still in progress

Project 4

Project number 4 on my 2013 grand plans was a black and yellow bikini.

I bought a couple of pieces of reasonable quality Lycra off Trade-me (a new Zealand auction site) for eight dollars.  There was a blue, black and white, graphic print, and the same thing in yellow, black and white.  I used the yellow one to make a circular skirt before Christmas.  It was a casual item, shorter at the front than the back with an elastic waist.  Yellow really does me no favours, but I wanted an easy, quick skirt to take to Queensland and I made it the night before I flew out.

Despite my reservations about yellow I wore the skirt a lot, and decided that it was a perfect addition to a travel wardrobe for the tropics – flexible fit, never needs ironing and dries really quickly.  Knowing that I had a little of the yellow print left, I decided that I needed a bikini to wear with it. 

I did procrastinate a little when I got home, but at the beginning of March I was invited to a fancy dress  “Caribbean Carnival” evening.  Now I’m a sucker for fancy dress – it seems like a great excuse to dress up in a manner that would probably be considered inappropriate at any other time.  I little research suggested that beachwear with colour too much jewellery and a bizarre head dress with lots of feathers would probably hit the theme on the head.  This was the push I needed to get  the bikini done, so I could add the skirt I’d already done and accessories to transform myself into a “Caribbean Carnival Queen” for the evening.

This turned out reasonably well, and I had serious fun with the head dress (a cheap Alice band with feathers, beads and sequins glued on at random).  It was it a fun evening, although my limbo dancing clearly needs work.  I was also awarded a bunch of roses for the best fancy dress! 
Am I the only sewer who jumps into fancy dress with such enthusiasm? 
Having done the bikini top, I don’t have enough fabric to make the bottom half, but I have a couple of pairs of plain black briefs that would work fine. 

 The process of making this was a massive learning experience.

1)    Beach wear needs a very heavy weight lycra – I actually sewed this double throughout in an attempt to replicate heavy lycra and I’m still not sure how it will stand up to getting wet.

2)   Standard patterns do not provide coverage for anything more than a B cup.  The same applies to ready-to-wear of course, and that’s why I wanted to make my own.

3)   Finishing the edges with a Lycra fabric are fiddly and if I was doing it again I’d hand tack all the seams before trying to sew them.  Lycra slips something horrible and a bikini doesn’t have enough fabric to hold on to while sewing it.

Whether I ever wear it as a bikini, it made a lovely fancy dress, and would certainly do as a poolside outfit.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Simpliity Bias Tape Maker

This isn’t something that I would have bought myself, but Mum is real gadget junkie, and since she knows that I am a keen sewer she bought me a Bias Tape Maker for Xmas. I’ve used it a few times for small projects (including my hat rescue) but I thought I should document my experiences with it.


It’s a small gadget that folds up into a box with a standard power cable.  To use it the box simply folds out.  It came with the fitting for one inch wide bias binding; although other sizes are easily available (I’ve bought a smaller one and a large one for quilt binding).

I selected a piece of fabric from my $1stash to make up into a batch of binding, cutting it into bias strips with a rotary cutter and stitching the strips together on the straight grain. 

While the machine was heating up I wound the strips round the feeder and passed one end through the one inch tip.

From there the machine sort of did it itself!  Once it was started the binding was fed through the attachment, across a heated plate and out the other side, ready pressed bias binding, ready to use!

I didn’t press the seams in the binding before running it through the machine, but the machine seemed to press them as it went without a drama, and the finished binding is a good as the bought stuff.

Verdict?  I’m not sure I’d buy it, but now I’ve got it I am using it.  Not only will it be useful for binding my quilt, but I’m thinking about all sorts of other potential uses, such as binding seams in unlined garments)