Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A collection of collages and another sad summer

This is a long post, grab a cuppa, try not to fall asleep! I have noted before that my blog gets a lot more attention from me during MMM as it tends to highlight all my un-blogged makes, even with semi-regular posts I still don't seem to have caught up yet! I wanted to do individual posts for these but I seem to be running out of oomph and have other things to think about - more of that at the end. I have been sewing a lot so have quite a few things to mention here - they are in no particular order.

Self drafted trousers
I mentioned these in a post a little while ago.  In my pattern cutting class we transformed our skirt block into a trouser block. Had I written this at the time I made the trousers, there would be a lot more info on how we did this. Right now, I can't really remember! I had been desperate to learn how to make trousers to fit rather than faff about with a pattern and an assortment of alterations, but it took me a good 4 or 5 months to put my pattern into use - and this was all about a year ago. I used an interesting mystery fabric from a local charity shop - £4 for nearly 4mtrs and I think it is a wool blend. I have washed the fabric several times and the resulting trousers. The fabric shrank lengthwise a little the first time it was washed but not since, and the trousers have shrunk a little in the leg nearly every time I have washed them. They were hemmed to be the perfect length for a specific pair of shoes, but now they are a fraction short with not much hem to let down, sigh.
too big; too tight; waist ok - dodgy legs; spot on!
Eldest's dress
Eldest was keen for me to make her a dress a little while ago - she is a happy recipient of mum-made clothes. The pattern I used was Simplicity 1699 which came free with a sewing magazine I picked up one day. As noted before, Eldest is much bustier than me so I thought this would be a good dress style-wise because of the princess seams on the bodice - they would make any fit changes a bit easier. She is also quite petite so I had to shorten the bodice. I bought the fabric at Backstitch when we visited for for the shop's first birthday back in March. There is very annoyingly, a seam down the centre front, which I totally didn't take into account so there is a slightly dodgy pattern running down the skirt. Eldest and I have agreed to ignore it. A sneak peak of the dress was seen in this post. You will see that she opted for the more discrete sleeve edge. She has already asked me for another dress using the same pattern. I have cut it out and remembered to cut the skirt front on the fold!

Indecision averted
A little while ago I was berating myself for being indecisive when it came to choosing a pattern for a dress for me. I ended up making the BurdaStyle dress which I had had my eye on for some time. I chose it because it was a bit different and thought it would go with my fabric well. I have only worn it once on a night out with some friends - none of whom could believe that I had made it! and I didn't get any photos of it on. Middlest had thought it was too trendy for her Mum, but thought it looked much better on me than she thought it would....

True Bias Hudson pants x 2
I made the first pair of these during MMM - I have worn them to lounge in and to go to the gym in. I wasn't sure about the style but having seen loads on the 'net I thought I'd give it a go. Rather than waste some fabric if I didn't like them I decided to use a pair of Husband's jersey PJ's that he no longer wears, There was just the right amount of fabric to cut out the legs from the pj legs, then I used the co-ordinating t-shirt to cut the waistband, pocket edges and the cuffs.  I really like this pair and would make them in again jersey.  The second pair - hhmmm, not so sure about these. They are also made from Husbands cast-offs - this time some Boden lounging trousers. These are woven and totally the wrong fabric - it is thickish and stiff with no drape at all. I left the cuff off. I haven't worn these once other than for photos, which probably says it all. I think in a softer drapey-er fabric they would be lovely...
jersey pair vs woven pair

Purl Bee City gym shorts x 3
My girls like to wear shorts under their school skirts. For Middlest I had whipped up a jersey pair using a pair of her leggings as a guide. That was fine, but I realised that she was also using another pair of shorts as an alternative. This was a pair of Primark's finest, quite sporty in cut and using a thin silky fabric.  I had been checking Kollabora at around the same time and seen quite a few of these City Gym Shorts which is a free pattern from Purl Soho. They looked to be pretty similar to the Primark shorts so I offered to whip some up. I used a couple of Husbands old work shirts, again if the pattern didn't work or the girls didn't like them it wouldn't be a waste of 'good fabric'. I used the Women's sizes for both girls (aged 9 and 13) and found that the pair I made for Youngest didn't fit at all. I inserted a panel between the front and back pieces and she likes this better than the original. Middlest's fit ok, but they both said that they got a bit of a wedgie at the back - but not enough to not wear them.
I then made another pair, possibly for me, out of an old White stuff skirt that no longer fitted me. I scooped out the crotch curve a bit at the back on this pair, using the Hudson Pant pattern as a guide. Eldest saw them on my sewing table and asked who they were for.  I said she could have them if she wanted and they promptly disappeared (I don't currently have a photo of this pair).

Self drafted skirt
This is again using one of the patterns drawn up in my class. I wanted a shortish linen skirt with a little kick/flip at the hem. I used a pattern for an eight panelled skirt, but mashed it together to make it four panelled. It kind of worked, but I didn't quite get the flippiness I wanted. It's close enough though. Because most of the ladies in my class are beyond 'a certain age', all the skirts that we drafted are very modest in length. To get this skirt the length I wanted, I had to take out nearly 6 inches/15cm and could probably have taken a bit more. To keep the flare, the length taken all came from the area between the bottom of the pocket and where the flare started. It sounds more complicated than it was - I basically folded out the excess and hoped for the best!. I am very pleased with it and have worn it a lot.
Linen = creases!

Sad summer
Amongst all of this I have had other things to think about - namely I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in May. Since the diagnosis I have sentinel node biopsy as part of a research project, a lumpectomy and sentinel node removal operation including repositioning of my nipple to keep things looking nice in the future, a contrast MRI to check for signs in my other boob, and a further lumpectomy to remove cancer cells that were not removed in the first op. This is probably not the best time to be writing this as it is not even a week since the last operation and I am feeling pretty wobbly about the whole thing. The nice tidy job that was pretty much healed and looking ok, is not looking quite so tidy now. The surgeon said I will probably need some sort of reconstruction at some point, but we get the results from this op next week and then we will find out what the next stage of treatment will be. I will keep sewing as I find making stuff is important to being me. There may be more selfless sewing, although I think I am pretty good at that! I am not sure what effect the next stages of treatment are going to have on my body so I don't know what I will be sewing for me - I may just move the focus away from my top half and make a few more bottom half items - who knows.

Monday, 20 July 2015

FO: sleeveless cowl #2 and a (very simple) refashion

I made this top last week to boost my summer top selection.  Whilst I have sewn a lot of tops over time (more than anything else), they mostly seem to be long sleeved/cooler weather tops.

This is another version of the MyImage Cowl neck top from the Autumn/Winter2012 magazine. I left the sleeves off again and did pretty much the same as I did for my last sleeveless version. I got a new sewing machine for Christmas (lucky me!) so everything I have made since has been with this machine.  I found a great stitch on my old machine when I did the hem on my black version, but there doesn't appear to be the same/similar stitch on my new one, so I just did a zigzag stitch.

Now that I have made this top a few times (2 long sleeved, 2 sleeveless) I find that it is a very quick and satisfactory make. I *love* the cowl neck and the way that it fits at the back. I think the back piece is marginally slimmer than the front piece, which gets rid of some of the pooling of excess fabric that I sometimes get.

I have linked to it before, but I use the tutorial from Melissa at FehrTrade for the neck line finish.

The long shorts/cropped trousers that I am wearing in these pictures were refashioned in MeMadeMay. A few years ago I bought some long tracksuit trousers that were too long. I then shortened them, but it was too much and they looked ridiculous.  I put them away to deal with later and promptly forgot all about them. In my effort to go through some of my stuff during MMM I found them again and very quickly sorted them out. I put them on, pinned roughly where I wanted to cut them and checked in the mirror before I cut them.  I used the cut-off section of each leg to create a cuff using the calf band pattern piece form the Hudson pants, and ended up with a quick pair of lounging/casual trousers.  I was a bit concerned that even with my careful checking of where I cut the legs, the finished seam attaching the cuff might be a bit irritating as it is right in the crook of my knee.

Happily, having worn these quite a few times now, they are very comfortable. The fabric is incredibly soft so the seam is not irritating at all.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

FO: Lou Box top pattern test

Back in November, Beth from Sew DIY put a call out for pattern testers for a loose fitting top that she has since released as her first pattern.

I had never done anything like pattern testing before, but decided to offer and see what happened.  I got an email a few days later saying that I was selected along with a copy of the pdf of the pattern. There was no obligation to blog about the make, which is probably a good job considering how long ago it was and my lack of blogging mojo.  I really enjoyed the make having a nice fairly drapey remnant from another garment, to use. I haven't sewn to a specific timescale before, other than my sister's wedding dress and the time frame for that was a bit longer! I made notes on my pattern, filled in the feedback form, and initially forgot to send photos of the finished garment.

Bias bound neckline

Hem and side split
The pattern is for either knits or wovens and I chose to use a woven. There were separate instructions for the different types of fabric.

I have enjoyed seeing Beth's own versions of this top and those made by other people, but am not too sure about the top on me. I think I am so used to wearing more form fitting jersey tops, that anything waftey feels a bit strange...

Given the test period was in the run up to Christmas, the photos I took make me feel cold when I look at them! It was quite an overcast day, and pretty chilly in my kitchen.

The top would have been quite useful in the recent hot spell we have experienced in the UK, but being unsure of the style on me, means that I haven't actually worn it yet.  Having looked at the photos I took whilst writing this post, I think it is the fit of the jeans I should be more concerned with - talk about about a saggy bottom!

Beth has since released her Lou Box Top pattern and has just recently asked for testers for a second pattern, although I think the test period is nearly over. I would happily do pattern testing again on this experience, but  can't commit to anything like that at the moment - but give it a go if you can!

Monday, 13 July 2015

FO: Kirsten Kimono Tee Hack

I have been following Aleah from no time to sew for a while now and really like alot of her makes.  A while ago (I just checked, it was almost exactly a year ago) she posted about a Kirsten Kimono colour block hack that she had made, inspired by a Boden top she had seen. The Boden top isn't available any more, but I remembered having seen the same top top and thinking it would be easy to do.

The Kirsten Kimono top pattern is free when you sign up to Maria Denmark's newsletter and I have used it before for me and Eldest. I made a size XS this time as I have lost some weight since I made the last one. Maria describes the top as having negative ease at the bust which mine definitely didn't have, but I think that was partly that my fabric was very drapey.  I had a bit of a brain freeze when cutting this out and it took me ages to work out where to cut for the colour block yoke. Aleah used the paper joint on the printed out pattern but I made my yoke section a fraction deeper, then I added a seam allowance.

This whole top was free, as not only was the pattern free, but I used navy jersey that I got at a fabric swap a couple of years ago, and the stripy fabric was a t-shirt of Youngest's.

 She grew out of it before she had much chance to wear it, so it was in pretty good nick.

Youngest aged around 4

I have made other things from the navy fabric so had a bit of a puzzle getting the main pieces of the tee cut out - I ended up having a seam at the centre front, but as I had to have a seam at the centre front of the yoke I thought it could be a design feature!

Centre seams on the front

I did not use the neck binding - I put it on, then took it off again. I much prefer the neckline on this top without the binding. I overlocked all the edges then used my lovely wonder tape (it sticks fabric together then washes away!) to do the neck, arms and hem. The wonder tape that I have is the perfect width for turning under for a narrow hem, but it does mean that you need to wash the item before you can wear it.

Having worn it a few times during MMMay15 I think it is a fraction too small - I made XS but I am pretty sure that I forgot to add seam allowances to the side seams which would make it even smaller! It is only noticable where the top sits on my hips and the hem rolls up a little, but it is not enough to make it unwearable.

This is another of my catching up posts, I think I only have a few more garments to go then I will be up to date!

Friday, 12 June 2015

FO: Burda Raglan top 2/2013 #127, again!

How many times have you made one pattern? This pattern is my most used pattern - I used it for OWOP (One Week One Pattern) last year. I have made 2 long sleeve versions, a short sleeve one, a short sleeve dress length version and now this one.

I bought the fabric from Geoff Rosenberg at Trumpingtion Village Hall a few months ago.
The fabric in the middle

It is a John Kaldor Jersey so good quality, but it is 100% man made fibre and feels like it is a bit clammy when I first put it on.  Apart from that I really like it. It is quite stretchy and the arms are designed to be extra long, but in this fabric they were comedy long. I cut some of the length off and maybe took a fraction too much off, but not enough to be irritating, thankfully.

It is quite hard to take pictures of the fabric as the pattern makes it seem out of focus.
I think this one is in focus!

sleeve gathers - my favourite part of this pattern
This is the fifth time I have made this top so I didn't really use the instructions. I wore it several times during MMMay15.

I am trying out larger photos today - what do you think?

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

FO: Coral Bronte Top

Bronte Knit Top Ladies PDF Sewing Pattern Multi Size 6 to 24

Still catching up with unblogged makes!

This pattern has been around for a while and I eventually bought it as part of a Pattern Bundle last summer, along with the True Bias Hudson Pants and the Mouse House Creations Julia Cardigan amongst others.

I hadn't been that taken with the Bronte top when it first came out, but as ever, once other people's versions start popping up on the internet I began to warm to it.  I realise now that my top is almost the same as one of the ones Jennifer made for her pattern photos.

Around the same time, I was re-watching the series Castle with my two older girls and had noticed that the female lead, Kate Beckett, had a top that she wore (I think in series 3) that had a similar neckline. She had a couple of these in different colours:

Beckett's top is in a much stretchier fabric and the back neck is much higher. An idea began to form....

The fabric for this came from one of my first visits to Goldhawk Road and my intention was to make a copy of a summer top that I had. That never happened, and the fabric would have been too thick for that particular top any way.

I cut the top out in a single layer in order to get all the pieces on the fabric, at which point I nearly had a disaster. I had pinned along the centre back with a view to flipping the pattern piece over and cutting the other side... and I started cutting up the centre back..... I tried to rescue it by zig-zagging the cut bit together, but it didn't really work

Fortunately I had added extra length to the top and I ended up just sacrificing that extra length without compromising the top, phew! I also added a band at the bottom to add back some of the length that I lost.

It's a while since I made this top, but seemed pretty straight forward.  There is a lot of information in the instructions about working with knits and how to choose the best type of knit for this pattern. I think that my fabric is just on the limit of suitable.  My machine struggled with the thickness of sewing through multiple layers of binding when attaching the sleeves. I overlocked the armhole seams after sewing with a narrow zigzag, but I ended up unpicking the overlocking as it made the seam quite stiff and uncomfortable and really noticeable on the outside. The knit is pretty stable so I didn't bother trying to finish any of the other seams.

Unusually I haven't got any 'hanger shots' for detail, but here are a couple of different shots of me wearing it - the one with the skirt was taken not long after I made it in January, and the other photo is from my Me-Made-May photos.


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Last Me-Made-May15 review

So, May is well and truly over and here are my last few days

Friday 29th May day 25

I am wearing my favourite pattern, the Burda raglan top as a dress. Youngest is wearing a skirt for twirling
 And dolly is wearing shoes that Youngest made - with a bit of help from me

Saturday 30th May day 26

Hudson Pants with Bronte Top, both currently unblogged 

Sunday 31st May day 27

Unblogged self drafted trousers and Bronte top

I think it is pretty clear that I wear me-made something quite easily for most days of the week, but it is equally clear that I need to make some more bottom half items. These pictures have shown me that I get better pictures if someone else takes the photo and that I shouldn't leave it so long between colouring my hair. My blog gets more attention from me during me-made-May as I try to blog all the things that I have not got round to writing up, and I have actually done quite a bit of sewing this month too.

Heres to next May, and thanks as ever to Zoe for organizing it!