Monday, April 27, 2015

Patterns I Own - a disturbing exercise...

A couple of weeks ago I got a new little file drawer thing to keep sewing patterns in (not all of them, because it's little, more the "working set" or queue).  It was a bit of an impulse buy but it's soooo pretty:



Anyway, the purchase led to some sewing room reorganisation.  That sounds very grand, but "sewing room" is actually part of our bedroom, and "reorganisation" means I swapped one shelving unit and the chest of drawers around :)

The "reorg" led to me deciding on a whim to catalogue all the patterns I have.  Because that wouldn't take long right?  I figured I would use Pinterest, as it's visual, and when Sara Lawson (Sew Sweetness) starting doing this a while back I was jealous.

Many hours passed...



WHAT???  I own 93 patterns for women alone (note - this is now 94 as I realised when writing this I had missed one).  You can see them all here.  This doesn't even really capture it because several of those pins are entire books, with multiple patterns in.  Plus there are other boards with substantial numbers on (bags and childrens patterns, I am looking at you...).

I decided to do some analysis.


We can ignore "Other" in the graph - this is mostly knitting patterns which I decided not to further categorise.

My stand out in the above is that out of 94 pins, I have 18 dress patterns.  Why?  I don't wear dresses very often and I don't think they are ever the most flattering choice for me, yet nearly 20% of my patterns are dresses.  It gets even worse if we included books in the tally, because one of the books is actually called "Little Green Dresses", so my dress pattern count is in fact artificially low.

[As an aside, I am a bit shamed by the books as I have made seriously little from them - perhaps that's a challenge to take on in the future...]

Oddly, when I look at what I have actually made from the patterns I own, the dresses are well represented there also.


So.  I wear trousers pretty much all the time and have made 1 pair (Tessuti Chloe Pants), but have made 8 dresses.  To be fair, there are several pairs of Alexandria Peg Shorts which aren't shown in here because I forgot to count them and was too lazy to go back and add them in...but STILL.

I think this shows where I am going wrong with sewing and the things I have made - I have made a lot of clothes for me now, but could never attempt me-made-May as I am not making things I want to wear in high rotation or that I even wear at all.

To illustrate how successful my dress making is not - here are the 8 dresses and their status:


One of the first things I ever tried to make.  I never finished it.

I found this the other day and it doesn't fit so now I will never finish it.

FAIL

The second and fourth dresses I made.  By far the most successful dress pattern and results - I love these dresses and find them flattering!    I will probably make more of these - it's a TNT pattern for me :)

SUCCESS!

The third dress I made, when everyone else was too.  I wore this once.  Made me feel so self-conscious and ridiculous.  Not me at all!

Then I cut it off into a top and wore it a few more times, though I need to go back and fix a wavy hem issue.  Maybe I will or maybe I should just abandon it?

FAIL

This one was my favourite in "concept" (colours, stripes - yay!) but every time I wore it I felt it made me look pregnant.

It's now a maxi-skirt and gets a fair bit of wear, though probably doesn't count as a successful dress.

FAIL

Again - made when it was the dress de jour in the blogosphere. Similar pregnancy vibes to the above and never got worn very often.

I had plans to make this a skirt but can't recall where it is or whether I did that...

FAIL

One of the more successful efforts - I have worn this a few times.  I definitely have a shoulder / chest fit issue with this one, though most versions I have seen have a similar issue, so perhaps it's the pattern (see the little crease coming from the armhole on the stripey version?).

Worth working on further and possibly making again - as its comfortable and fairly flattering.

PARTIAL SUCCESS

The work in progress eighth dress.  This is a craftsy kit so I am actually making the dress she is wearing in the same fabric.

Stay tuned for results!

PENDING
Out of 8 makes, 2 are still worn a lot, 1 is not perfect but worth adjustment and another is still on the sewing table.  It's not really a high strike rate, but for some reason I am making a type of garment I don't usually reach for.

Despite this realisation that I don't wear the dresses I make, my current work in progress is a dress :(  The law of not creating UFOs means I must press on until the end, but my new mission statement is to MAKE SOME DAMN TROUSERS ALREADY!

On a final note, I was interested in the breakdown between indie and non-indie patterns.  I believed I had more indie than others and was happy to see I was right.  The Big 4 patterns are mostly dresses (godammit...) and shirts, which is something I seemingly want to make more of, as I have at least three rather similar patterns there :)



Go indie!  And hello pant-making :)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Princess Jasmine / Bollywood Costume

A little while back Issy got invited to a Bollywood party.  I saw this as an excellent challenge and way to use up some of the more garish fabrics I bought when I thought I might make her a gymnastics outfit


I used the Made by Rae Flashback Skinny Tee in the 6-10 version and my first ever Burda pattern for the pants.  I think I tightened the tee a bit more after this shot.  For the tee I just made the flashback with short sleeves and cropped it, then added a band around the bottom (using the same method for the sleeve / neck bands).


For the pants, I used a pattern out of a Burda magazine (no idea which one as I have since tidied up).  It was a pattern for kids woven pants with an elasticated waist.  I made two versions (kind of).  The first was a shorts version which was sized to be very close (actually slightly under) her actual measurements .  I made these in a super stretchy spandex dance-wear fabric and these are the little shorts underneath the massive trousers.  Then I made a version which was a couple of sizes too big for her and redrafted the led to be straight instead of tapered and quite long (aiming for maximum "pouffiness").  I gathered the bottom of the legs onto an elastic cuff, then put the shorts inside the pants and gathered / stretched them both onto the waistband.


You can see the shorts a bit in the picture above.  Overall the effect was exactly what she and I were after.  I did also have a chiffon wrap / headscarf thing but that was swiftly abandoned.  The client suggested we rework that into a kind of half circle half overskirt (i.e. a skirt which wasn't at the front but was a the back - like a pants-cape???  They must have a name....).  The dressmaker suggested she had reached the limits of effort she was willing to expend on a costume for a single party, so that never happened.

I did make a matching hairband though, because I am a sap.  Plus she wears that in normal circulation so it's arguably the most useful part of the costume :)


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Thread Theory Camas in Fantasia from Art Gallery Fabrics

Note:  I received the Camas Blouse for free to review and the Fantasia fabric as a gift from Sara Lawson, the designer.  All opinions are my own :)

Sara Lawson recently offered to send out some of her new line Fantasia (for Art Gallery Fabrics),  It seemed from her email that she really just wanted to get the fabric out there and experience the joy of seeing what people made with the fabric, so she cut it all up and sent it out to people who were happy to make something over the next few weeks.  I put my hand up for some of the knits and she sent me a couple of yards of the Kokka Sprites (Teal) knit:


I have to confess, I am not usually drawn to patterns, particularly larger scale ones (the sprites are probably about 6 inches tall, for reference).  I don't dislike them, I just never feel I know what to do with them or how to wear them.

I would have picked this, given the choice - which is about as close to a non-pattern print as you can get!!!


Happily for me, Sara had Sprites left and sent me the teal ones.  When they arrived I was so pleased she had - the teal colour is beautiful and the little accents of mustard and greyish greens in the fabric are gorgeous (web colour rendering does not do this fabric justice!).

I used the fabric to make another Camas:


I used the Sprites as the main fabric, with a very light chambray as the yoke area.

The first time I made the Camas, I added a strip into the side seam as a "design feature".  I think it turned out pretty awesome (the strip was sequins, so it's hard to fault!) but I really needed to have done an FBA on the blouse.   This time, I did a proper FBA using this tutorial from Jennifer Lauren Vintage.  This tutorial is amazing - I have only ever done an FBA where you introduce a dart, or an FBA on a shirt which already has a side dart.  In this tutorial you do a normal (dart-inducing) FBA, then rotate that dart out.  I just worked through the steps and aside from some nerves about how much the pattern piece had to be hacked and taped, it was clear and easy to do.  It's my new go-to instruction set for this adjustment.


Aside from my awkward arm placement adding a crease where there isn't one, this blouse is perfect.  The fabric is bright and the pattern is pattern-y but as a print-o-phobe I don't feel odd wearing it.  The fabric is also extremely soft and has a good amount of spandex in, which is crucial for good recovery.  I had been wearing this top all day by the time we took these pictures and it retained it's shape very well.


I don't think this will be my last Camas, especially with the new adjustment for a dartless FBA.  Similarly I have some of the fabric left, so my daughter might get lucky and have a new skirt in the near future.  She LOVES the idea of matching outfits (heaven help me!) so there might be a "Mummy and Me" feature in the near future...!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Jasper Sweater Dress Review (Paprika Patterns)

You can find my review of the Jasper Sweater Dress from Paprika Patterns at the Curvy Sewing Collective blog.  There is also a giveaway to win a copy of the pattern.

You can find my full review here:  http://curvysewingcollective.com/jasper-sweater-review-and-giveaway/ and a sneak peak of my version below:


Monday, March 23, 2015

Hey June Evergreen Jacket (Pattern Test)

I can't believe I didn't post this sooner - it's been on the bloggy backlog for too long!  I put my hand up to test Hey June Handmade's Evergreen Jacket back in February.

This was perfect timing for me as my old winter coat is looking very shabby.  I originally wanted to make a copy of it, but since moving to warmer climes that probably isn't a good idea as it wouldn't get much wear.  My version of the Evergreen Jacket is a great lighter weight option instead:



The Evergreen is an asymmetrical "biker" jacket with ribbed cuffs and waistband.  I had to put "biker" in air quotes, because it seemed odd any other way, given the semi-floral print I used :)

The pattern is designed for stretch fabrics and can be made in anything from sweatshirt fleece to a woven (assuming you are careful about sizing appropriately).  I really want to make another in a ponte, though I feel like even that might be too warm for Sydney...



I used a cotton sateen (from Spotlight again!) which had a fairly minimal stretch.  I think the recommendation was no less than 10%, though the advice was there to size up and go for a woven if that was your preference.  As my fabric did have some stretch I got away with sticking to size, though I wouldn't have been able to if I wanted to wear big jumpers underneath or similar.

I made this a while ago but don't recall anything confusing or off in the instructions or construction. I did muck up and miss the step where you interface the collar, so mine is a little floppy but otherwise I like this jacket!  It's not lined, though that probably suits me as I wanted to keep it light.  I am planning to go back and bind the seams inside so it looks pretty, given I think I might get some wear out of this one.

The only thing I would change if I made this again would be to add a little to the length, but as I am nearly 6 foot this would be a me-thing and not a comment on the pattern itself.  The size range of the pattern wasn't remarkable (I was near the top end) which is about standard for most.

I leave you with a rather disturbing picture in which I look like either I know all your secrets, or I am about to calmly murder you.  You decide which...


Nice jacket though :)


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Named Alexandria Peg Trousers (Shorts) - Pattern Test

It's been a while since I got to blog much of what I have been making - a few pattern tests recently and a lot of other life going on!

When Named (Uber-cool Finnish pattern company) asked for testers for their SS15 pattern range Ticket, I jumped at the chance (I literally jumped up and down when they sent my pattern to test!).  In particular, I was excited to see they included 5 plus size patterns in their range (actually 6, as one is a two-in-one).

I tested the shorts version of the Alexandria Peg Trousers and Shorts:

http://www.namedclothing.com/product/alexandria-track-shorts/?lang=en

I didn't have many issues with the pattern - it was mostly very straightforward and a pretty quick make.  The pattern is a "three scissors", which means average difficulty - I would say that was accurate.  I had some trouble the first time I sewed the facing onto the edge - the advice in the pattern to handstitch at the top of the vent is a good suggestion!  Once I did that it fitted very well and lay nicely.

I actually made three versions of these shorts (and am looking forward to cooler weather so I can make the trousers!).  The first didn't really work - I used a very lightweight woven and I managed to stretch out the curve of the hem in a most upsetting way.  My bad :(

My second version however, are one of my favourite things I have ever made:



I love them so very much.  The fabric is a very drapey interlock (from Spotlight) which makes them feel more dressy as they are slinky :)  I also like the "sporty" hem, though this version feels smart enough to me that I have worn them out for dinner with heels and felt good.

I look a bit startled in this picture...
I should note that these might be a slightly more relaxed fit on me than if your measurements are true to the sizing - I am between sizes so just cut the larger and was happy with the amount of ease, particularly in the drapey fabric.

My other note would be that these are SHORT!  For me anyway...I am nearly 6 foot tall, so I added some to the length (I think about 1.5 inches from memory).  The curve of the hem means they are still pretty short at the sides.



I then made another version because I live in Sydney and it was summer, so shorts are definitely a good thing.  This pair was out of the Birch Organic Jersey ("Flight").

Annoyingly my hands in pockets thing here is actually pulling them up heaps so they look a bit dodge...

I love this pair for more for daytime, though I wish I had used a jersey which was not light on the underside, as you do see a lot of the back of the fabric, given the side vents.



Here I am again looking pleased with myself :)

I guess my only other comment would be on the rest of the collection itself.  I really love several items in the collection, and I am really pleased to see the company including some plus sized patterns in their range for the first time.  I hope they continue to expand that range!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes - Review for Curvy Sewing Collective

In a fit of summer-weather inspired Sunday sewing, I recently decided to buy and alter the Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes pattern.

I had previously stayed away from this pattern as I when I lived in Tassie I didn't think I would get enough wear out of them (it can be on the chilly side down there!).  Now I live in Sydney and I have to stop myself wearing them every day...I must make more :)

Anyway, head over to the Curvy Sewing Collective to see my review, plus all the awesome other reviews and tips!  There aren't many of us who don't have to adjust patterns in some way, so it's a great set of resources.

I will leave you with the picture I didn't include in my review for someone else's site (I was pretending to be grown-up!).  Me proving they really are culottes: