Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lateral thinking on pants, books and ties

I have two new projects underway. I started on a muslin of that Vogue top I have been obsessing about, but am now reconsidering the design of the sleeves. Its a little too Carmen Miranda for me. I came across this version by Nibbles and Byte and think I may downplay the sleeves in a similar way.

Meanwhile while watching the pants sewalong from the sidelines I noticed that people were having difficulty achieving a perfect fit. My right brain solution was to start with a pair of pants that did fit well and unpick them. I had the perfect pair in my closet - simple cut, great fit but tragic sparkly fabric from the 1980s. It took over an hour to unpick all the seams. Some of you may regard this as cheating, but I now have a perfect fit trouser block. My only concern about the trousers that I made is that the original pants were in much lighter weight fabric. Mine are jeans weight stretch demin, so may need to be taken in a little more at the back of the thighs. Anyway I'm withholding my verdict for now. The block can also be used to check and adjust other commercial patterns.
You might call this cheating too, but one of the things that I've missed since I started my sewing venture is reading. Now while I love sewing, reading is one pleasure that I can't live without. My lateral solution was to borrow three 'talking books' from the local library. This works well as I can 'read' and sew at the same time. But it does raise the question why this section of the library is so limited.
Finally the young sewist in the family has a school holiday project in mind. A skirt dress made from old ties. She has ratted her fathers closet and the local thrift shop and nearly has enough. With the global downturn we all should put ties (and suits?) to good use. Maybe a suits and ties remake sewalong? The original inspiration was this dress worn by Aussie pop princess Gabriella Cilmi and made by her Mum.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Skirt Resurrected

It amazes me what I can achieve with a little persistence. My skirt is finally completed and judging by the photos, it survived a day of meetings in the city better than I did. Thank you to everyone who helped with the invisible zip.

The best explanation of how to sew an invisible zip can be found on Youtube at I did not know that an invisible zip needs to be sewn on a completely open seam and requires a special foot. I should have twigged from the pattern which is illustrated with a lapped zip on the centre back seam. There is a box pleat at the base of this seam which will not enable a completely open seam.

So my corrections go as follows:

1) I unpicked the waistband, zip, side seams and hem.

2) I reduced the front the waistband which was too large and caused the garment to bulge out.

3) I redid my waist band with the overlocker to minimize the bulk in the seam width.

4) I installed the invisible zip on the side seam and closed up the back seam.

5) I overlocked (serged for the US readers) the side seams to reduce bulk.

6) I redid the hem.

My husband thinks I'm mad. The conversation went along these lines.

He "You unpick more than I sew."

She "But I'm learning from it. I won't do it again" (plaintively)

He "You don't learn to drive by crashing your car!"

She (unspoken) ...perhaps he is right. grey and cream blouse based on Vogue pattern 8392 I'm making version C but with only 2 layers on the sleeve. I saw this pattern on Erica B's site and loved it. My fabric is a viscose (imitation silk) and very light weight. Watch this space.
Also I am soooo excited to have a few followers. This really does motivate me when things get difficult! thank you sisters.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Guilty pleasures

I haven't given up. Just been working too hard at finishing a report for one of my clients to find time to do anything more than stalk a few sewers on their blogs! Worked all weekend and have been up till 1.30am trying to get the darn thing finished. I'm almost ready to start sewing again...just as soon as I remove the toothpicks that have been keeping my eyes open. Lindsay T wants to know what our guilty pleasures are. Mine are keeping this blog in the first place - shhh...nobody knows - and jumping out of writing reporting to see what the sewing sisterhood are up to. I'm totally addicted.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Haste makes waste!

I tried to finish my skirt quickly and made a total mess of it. No pictures, it is far too ugly.

I have two choices. 1) skirt RIP or 2) skirt RIP the seams apart and start again. My mistakes include but are not limited to:
  • trying to insert an invisible zip without looking at a tutorial. As a result my zip is not invisible!
  • using the dress fabric rather than a lighter lining fabric on the waistband lining. As a result my waistband is bulky and frankly, horrible.
  • not trimming my side seams down enough. As a result there is unwanted bulk on the side of the garment.
  • and perhaps, attempting to use woven techniques on a stretch fabric. I'm tempted to overlock the side seams.

I'm opting for the remedial approach. If anyone can point to a good tutorial on invisible zippers, I'd appreciate your support.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Maya makes a mini

Progress has been made on the skirt. Followed a tutorial on Hong Kong seams and finished this unlined skirt really nicely. I used cotton tape rather than lining fabric cut on the bias. I think on a coat I'd definitely use lining fabric or satin ribbon bias tape, but it was fine for a skirt.

I had a lot of difficulty getting the size right. I initially enlarged the pattern based on the measurements on the envelope. Then took it in on muslin. As you can see, when I made up in the stretch fabric, it needed to be take in a whole lot more for a snug fit. The skirt is dark black (not grey as in the photos) made from a viscose, nylon, spandex mix. I'm definitely influenced by an Australian designer Mela Purdie who cuts a lot of garments in stretch fabrics that are traditionally cut in a woven material.

Maybe I just hate ironing? Hope to finish it soon.

This weekend I was distracted by teaching my 13 year old daughter to make her first dress. We went to The Remnant Warehouse in Alexandria to buy some cheap fabric in different weights for muslins and linings. I bought six rolls of fabric for $33! Maya came with me and was totally captured by FABRIC LUST! So I told my dear one that fabric lust must be followed by some hard work at the sewing machine. She bought some hot pink stretch lace @ $8 a metre and backed it with some cheap black nylon that I have from a previous expedition to TRW. Maya trimmed her garment with black satin bias tape. Her design features included a raw edge around the neck and a scalloped hem line. I think the results speak for themselves. Another sewer has joined the sisterhood!

Big sister is so not interested. Trekked off to Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras...a bit like New Orleans...everyone joins in...wearing a terrific little flapper style mini, killer heels and bright red feathered angel wings. Being young is so wonderful.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Road, Debt and a Skirt

Spent the weekend reading Cormick McCarthy's unrelentlessly bleak book The Road about an unnamed man and his son travelling through a post-apocalyptic America. It is spare, compelling, frightening and makes you want to hug your children and love the planet more. I've also been listening to Margaret Attwood's lectures based on her amazingly prescient new book, “Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth”. Written before the global financial meltdown, it basically is an argument that the developed world needs to change the way in which we conceptualise debt and in doing do may create a better future for ourselves and our children. Attwood is intelligent and witty - an easy listen.
Sewing - just a bit. I completed the muslin for my skirt based on view A of and cut it out. My husband was reading in the upstairs lounge were I do my sewing, so haven't begun yet.