Tuesday, 3 April 2018

First Quarter Update 2018 - RTW Fast 2018, EYS/7STS, 2018makenine

I’m involved in the RTW Fast 2018 meaning that I have pledged not to buy RTW (Ready To Wear) garments (with certain exclusions including underwear) in 2018.

I am also involved in the Evolve Your Style(EYS)/7 Steps to Style (7STS) Programmes which involves me examining what suits me, what I might need, the right shades and colours etc to fit my personality, shape and lifestyle. This means that eventually I would get rid of those items in my wardrobe which are doing me no favours and purchase (or in my case make) items which suit. I originally started 7STS 3 years ago but didn't complete for a variety of reasons. I am just starting to look at it again. I didn't do the EYS part previously for some reason; I purchased the programme last autumn, got started but as I got overstretched I side-lined it but am again looking at it. It involves posting photos and this is an element I'm struggling with.

Both groups have very active and supportive Facebook communities

RTW purchases - zero.

It isn’t difficult for me to avoid buying RTW for myself as I found little that fitted me in any case even when I was actively trying. The challenge is to make one more thoughtful about our clothing in view of environmental concerns in our throwaway society.

As this is a sewing (and knitting) group, primarily, there is a focus on identifying what you might need and making it. There is no necessity to make anything, though. There is an active and supportive community.

Remakes of existing clothes (but not those specially purchased e.g. from charity shops) are allowed.

Remakes - in progress (none completed)
  • Lengthen sleeve of teal raincoat by adding facing. I need to buy suitable fabric for the facing. All I've done so far is release the existing hem and lining. I need  to decide whether I need raincoat fabric or whether cotton would do - perhaps mercerised cotton

Garments discarded
  • 1 cotton rib sweater - didn't fit well, tight, sleeves too short and fabric rather harsh
  • 1 blouse - didn't fit well, tight, sleeves too short
  • Various tops discarded as sleeves too tight and short. These did appear to fit when originally purchased. I think the garments shrink on an ongoing basis when washed - or am I deluding myself?
  • One chambray/denim shirt with embroidered detail. Nice shirt and in a suitable colour but too tight and short in sleeves
  • Various tops discarded as too short for my body. They ride up exposing too low trouser tops - worse with excess weight as I have at present.
  • PR Winter Street dress as too tight around high hip - pleats look awful and rides up at back. Fits the much slimmer friend I gave it to beautifully.
  • There might possibly have been a few others
  • As yet, I haven't discarded much because it's the wrong colour or intensity for me. I am a 7 Steps to Style ‘Serene’ palette - cool, light and smoky with medium value contrast and low to medium colour contrast meaning that I am best in neutrals plus a (suitable, preferably signature) colour and not too much tonal contrast. I'm aware that some of the colours I previously loved are too intense for me now, really (but I still love them!) - this is because of ageing. They'd be better greyed down a bit. There are several items I can't afford to throw out until I identify suitable replacements.

Garment plan
  • I intend to focus on basics where I have a gap in my wardrobe plus trousers/pants which I really need as the ones I have are on their last legs. I still have several black pairs which will have to stay for the time being. Navy and grey are better neutrals for me. I haven't been able to buy RTW trousers/pants in any case.
  • I intended to make a mini capsule wardrobe and enter in PR Wardrobe Contest (3 tops, 2 bottoms and 1 topper) but not managing the trousers meant I abandoned the idea.

What I have made

Kimono - using pattern and fabric I had left over from daughter's kimono - Simplicity 1108. Success. This wasn’t so much a basic but with the fabric and pattern to hand, I had to make it. I've had good use from it so far, even though it's not in my best colours. I do still have black RTW trousers though. Blogged here

Paprika Patterns Jasper sweatshirt - bought fabric specially. I already had the pattern, from some considerable time ago. Successful. This was intended to go with jeans that I hoped to make. They're on back boiler until I sort out a trouser block. Blogged here

Helen's Closet Blackwood cardigan - I bought pattern and fabric specially. Success. I want to make more. I especially like my New Look/Helen's Closet twin set. Blogged here

3 tops  - New Look 6481 ‘free’ with sewing magazine. Two are successful. Matching tee for Blackwood cardigan and 2 others from same pattern. One is too tight as I failed to take into account that the fabric had less stretch. One of my daughters is visiting at the moment and was pleased to be given the top as she likes grey and the top fitted (I thought it was rather loose for her but she was happy with the fit also it may shrink further with laundering). I hadn't been sure if she'd like the style. Blogged here

Garments started but abandoned - at least they're not UFOs! No photos on blog.
  • PR Winter Street Dress - previous version was a bit tight overall and at high hip specifically and it rode up at the back  because of my FB so I modified the pattern and made a new dress with sister fabric. I hated it. It was intensely unflattering and frumpy. Discarded unfinished.
  • Waterfall coat by Lisette for Butterick - B6244 - I like this on others but it just isn’t my style. Abandoned at toile stage. Positive - I learned a few new things and didn’t waste my good fabric. I have identified a jacket I want to make with the fabric but not until the end of summer.



Finished Chanel-style jacket - successful. It hadn’t been abandoned, I had just run out of time to complete before Christmas because of all the hand work required and put it away until January. Blogged here

Finished gilet I was knitting - okayish I suppose. I might yet redo the shoulders as I feel they are too wide. Blogged here


Culottes started last year. I had high hopes for these. I liked the fabric. I worked on them a bit last week. They fitted not too badly but were incredibly unflattering on me - too much fabric. I gave away both pattern and fabric. I forget the pattern number - another ‘freebie’ with a sewing magazine. No photos.

In progress

Skirt I made - last year I think. I needed to alter as it didn’t fit - I had taken in at the side seams as it was a bit loose and it still needed the waistband adjusted. Unfortunately, it was now too tight! I’ve taken the side seams back out - they’re okay and I now need to insert zip and adjust contour waistband. Previously blogged, maybe, but I'll wait until it's finished.

Garments not yet started
  • A further top or cardigan from specially bought fabric - but fabric is off grain and I'm trying to work out how or if I can use it. I can’t return the fabric as I had cut into it. No hurry
  • A further Blackwood cardigan from fabric left over from the second New Look top above - I want another twin set. I found the cardigan a speedy make. Again, no hurry
Garments in progress

Knitted gilet (different pattern from first one); chunky yarn. Back knitted and first side front is at armhole level. My knitting skills are struggling a little with decreases while keeping cable pattern correct. I'm not sure if I'm doing it properly but when class starts again after Easter, I have someone I can ask.

Major task of this quarter and probably of the next too but hopefully not of one after that!

Trying to get pants to fit!! I've made so many toiles it’s untrue! I'm not sure I'm much nearer as yet.

Thoughts  this quarter so far
  • I really don’t like waterfall styles or styles with lots of volume. I have a few waterfall cardigans that I never wear - time to get rid of them!
  • For some reason many of my cardigans have very narrow sleeves so don't fit over anything other than a sleeveless tank. There's a place for this but I mainly prefer tops with sleeves. I think they'll be going too
  • I'm better in dresses without a waistband or waistline seam.
  • I don't suit pleats or gathers at the waist because my full high hip distorts
  • I'm better in straighter skirts rather than full skirts.
  • I prefer a sleeker, more tailored look.
  • I like classic styles with a bit of a twist
  • I know my skirt length preferences
  • I need to find a smart casual style that fits my style recipe and of course my lifestyle.


I haven't entirely identified my ‘style recipe’. I asked the daughter who is visiting at the moment to complete the style questionnaire which is part of an early section.
Like me she identified classic and elegant chic as the key elements but also a strong creative element - a surprise to me. My husband added feminine and I added relaxed. I do have elements in each of the areas. I can identify with classic relaxed elegant chic but less so with creative and feminine, until I researched what those mean a bit more. I think these two components have become stronger since I retired.

However, I know what I like! I believe I have a reasonable idea of what I suit though age related figure and colouring changes have meant some necessary modifications. I have made mistakes with RTW purchases and of course it's a much bigger deal if I spend time making something to find that it's just not me. Ideally I would have tried on a RTW version but this isn't always possible, sadly.

I think part of the issue is my inability so far to include the 'twist’ into my ‘classic with a twist’ wardrobe. Many of the added twists just haven't worked for me. I reckon this is me trying to express my creative element. I haven't got there yet in a way that satisfies the rest of me!

Feminine is more to do with colours and fabrics with me rather than frills or flounces which are so not me. I have been feeling the need to add a bit more of a feminine element to my wardrobe.

Future plans

I'm afraid that I have a couple of family issues which are impacting severely on my time and which are causing worry. I still intend to include sewing and planning (for the sake of my sanity!) but just won't have as much time as previously.

I reread planning post for 2018 - if I can manage a quarter of what I listed I'll be doing well!!

I did commit to 2018 make nine and the garments I've made contribute to that. Pants/trousers are a key component of that too, though. I'm still hoping! One of the 9 was the PR Winter Street Dress or other dress - it will now have to be ‘other’. I like shirt dresses and wrap dresses so I'll have a think.

Friday, 30 March 2018

New Look 6481 top times 3

I finished the Blackwood cardigan from Helen's Closet and found that a lot of the tops I had to wear under it were not quite right. Many had too big a contrast for me - my style palette isn't high contrast. Neither white not black are my preferred colours. I had a couple of suitable patterned tops but didn't like them with the variegated cardigan. I had loads of the fabric left over from the cardigan - you guessed it! Enough to make a top (see photo at bottom of post)

This is the second top. it of numbers one and two are very similar as they are sister fabrics.

One possibility was to use my Nettie bodysuit and add sleeves to the pattern. The original pattern comes with sleeves. I'd need to alter them. However, I realised that the Nettie uses 2 way (4 way) stretch fabric with a lot of stretch and the fabric I want to use didn't have as much as that and had very little longitudinal stretch.

Although I have quite a lot of patterns (understatement) I had difficulty finding a suitable pattern for a stretch fabric. I did find this New Look pattern 6481 which includes a top, skirt, jacket and trousers. I love the jacket too. This was the only top pattern I could find that I already owned that was both for stretch fabric and in my size. I originally had two copies of this pattern (it came with two different magazines) and gave one to a fellow sewer, R, who had made several successful tops from the pattern. So that was a positive review, worth quite a few more. On Pattern Review, I found reviews for the jacket but not the top.

I lengthened the body by 2” as I am tall.

I have large biceps and did a standard large biceps adjustment to add 1”. I had originally traced the sleeve cap shape and height and because the biceps adjustment lowers that, brought it up to the original. 

Sleeves are my bĂȘte noire.

The sleeve is set in in the round, which I prefer. I set this one in and noticed there was a LOT of easing required but I managed. However, when I tried on the top (no problems making up to this point; directions were fine) the sleeves looked awful. A mess of wrinkles.

Fortunately, I was doing this in my sewing bee and I sought advice from Rory. She pinned out a huge amount from the back sleeve and we realised this is ALWAYS required. Much less was removed at the front - practically nothing. She also slightly rotated the sleeve cap so that it would fall straight - less than ¼” and it made all the difference! She also lowered the sleeve at the underarm seam. These changes made the sleeve shorter, so I slightly lengthened to make up for this. The higher sleeve cap also compensates.

Anyway, I adjusted the sleeve, made up the top and finished it after checking that the sleeves were okay. I transferred the changes to the paper pattern.

I had already started a second version of this top so also had to alter those sleeves. The fabric was a similar grey rib, with less contrast and variegation. The degree of stretch was very similar and the two tops are virtually interchangeable as far as fit is concerned.

Back to the sleeve pattern.
I need in my sleeve
  • Extra sleeve cap height - many sleeve caps just don't reach
  • Extra biceps room
  • Extra length both above and below elbow; these are short sleeves, elbow length.
I don't need
  • Extra fabric at sleeve cap back (or front indeed)
The standard adjustment where a cross shaped cut is made
  • Also widens sleeve cap (not required) and arm of sleeve (that's fine)
  • Also lowers sleeve cap and lowers it more the bigger the adjustment (bad news for me)
  • Shortens sleeve length
I wanted to know if there was another way to make changes.

Don't tell anyone but I had altered my sleeve directly on the pattern piece!! I traced around and made a proper final version (fortunately I had stopped myself before cutting off redundant portions). I then painstakingly put the sleeve pattern back to the original shape - except it's all taped up. Note to self - you would have been quicker tracing in the first place!

I then traced an original sleeve pattern too. So now I had the original and what I wanted it to be ie the final garment sleeve. Rory had briefly commented on cutting off the cap and working on the rest so I asked her to explore that with me.

The sleeve cap was cut off and put aside.
A vertical cut was made down the sleeve, stopping at bottom SA. This part of the pattern was then pulled apart by 1”, the same adjustment made originally.
This widened the biceps area which is good and also lowered the underarm area - which had been done on the modified pattern. The sleeve cap was then placed at the original cap height. There was a significant gap - this was filled in. I drew in the gap in the armscye shape making a suitable shape but NOT widening it at all.

Did this work? Not entirely. Comparing this version to the required version showed that the back sleeve still had too much. It's a better starting point (as well as easier to do!). Rory said that I needed to recognise my back armscye shape and modify.

An interesting exercise. I was going to post photos of the pattern pieces but decided that's probably not relevent to others.

Nevertheless, I think I have a TNT pattern and have already cut out a third using the final sleeve pattern. All these tops are in shades of grey as I was originally planning to enter Pattern Review's wardrobe contest and that was one of my key colours.

Anyway, I decided to wear my first top and the Blackwood cardigan together, which I thought was  sensible. I didn't wear my pearls as I thought that would lead to adverse comments in some quarters! However R in class who is young, slim and beautiful dared me to, suggesting this would be an ironical statement. I suggested, sadly, that at my age it would not be - though it might be on her. She agreed but of course these finished items are much too large for her.
On my bridge weekend on my hotel balcony, Morcambe Bay in the background It was windy and very cold.
This is my first top and Blackwood cardigan as a 'twin set'. The first top is my favourite of the three.

Two wearable tops. Third cut out. A TNT pattern for stretch fabric. I think I could easily change this top up but don't feel the need to as yet. I have been told it's a good idea to make things multiple times so that's what I'm doing.

I wore the set at the first night of my bridge weekend and felt very comfortable both with the cardigan on and off. I didn't feel people were looking at my outfit and criticising it as I often feel - in fact I was quite clear that the RTW trousers were the poorest part of the outfit. (I still need to conquer trousers)

I've worn the first two tops quite a number of times now.

I finished the third top and it's too tight! Less stretch, sadly. I failed to take that into account. I used a fine plain grey jersey and it was both less stretchy and more difficult to use. I think it's easier to use wovens than to take all the different stretches into account! It's not too far off though and I'm supposed to be losing weight….
First top at front (my favourite), third top in middle and second top at back

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Blackwood cardigan from Helen's Closet - it's a winner!

Unusually, I’ve actually finished the garment before I start writing a blog post! Also, unusually, I have no problems to report!

I decided to make the Blackwood cardigan from Helen’s Closet based on all the excellent reviews and so bought the PDF. No problems with purchase or with download. No problems taping together – though this will never be something I enjoy! I read the excellent sew-a-long and tutorial and used the excellent information to make a ‘cheater’ FBA and to enlarge the biceps width. I’ve never actually done this type of FBA so the instructions were very helpful. I usually have to widen for my biceps so I had done that before – but I still need to refer to instructions. In case. I also gave a little extra in the hip area because I usually need that.

I had bought some interesting jersey fabric but found it was seriously off grain so I decided not to use it for this.

After finishing the Jasper sweatshirt and being stuck in the house because of the snow and bad driving conditions, I wanted to do more sewing. I chose a different fabric - Variegated Thread Stretch Jersey Knit Rib Dress Fabric in grey from Minerva Crafts, which I bought on their club 20% off day recently – it was also a sale fabric, so this was a very good buy. Originally, I hadn’t considered using it for the Blackwood because I thought it didn’t have enough vertical stretch, though I’m not clear why this cardigan needs any vertical stretch – but 20% stretch was asked for, and 40% across the width.

I hadn’t quite decided which version of the cardigan to do – there is a short version, no pockets (above right) and a longer, mid thigh or longer version with pockets (above, left). Both have a bottom band and sleeve bands. The sleeves are very long, to keep hands warm.  I didn’t want the pockets. I read that a lot of people were shortening the longer length and even though I’m 5’11”, I would also have shortened it. However, in the end I decided to go for the short version, lengthened. Maybe there’s not much difference as it’s the same pattern pieces. Please note that I did NOT lengthen the sleeves and they are still a bit on the long side for an old fogey like me!

I had to do a little bit of calculation to work out what length to cut the front band and what width to cut the bottom band. I’m glad to say my calculations worked out. I added 3” to the cardigan length, so added 3” to each side of the front band – not exactly rocket science!  I used the bottom band from the longer cardigan ready to trim if necessary. I was happy to have a little extra as I wanted to match the rib – that was the trickiest part. Only a small amount of trimming was required.

I had no problems laying out the pattern or cutting the fabric. I did that on Saturday and started sewing up the cardigan following the excellent instructions. No problems – so I have nothing to say here, really! I overlocked all the inside seams, so it looks nice inside as well as outside. The bit that took the longest was actually trying to match my ribs at shoulder and at bands on sleeves and bottom hem.

The only issue I had was mine and not the pattern’s. I sewed on my band with a smaller seam allowance than recommended – partly for pattern matching reasons and partly because I hoped for just a little more cover though of course I was aware that this cardigan isn’t designed to close. My band was just  a little wider than in the pattern – this because it was easier to cut out using the vertical ribs. Anyway, this was my last step in the construction. I overlocked the front band seam – but was then unable to top stitch as in the instructions. My machine said ‘no!’.  I think the overlocked area was the issue.  I tried a few times using different methods but then decided it wasn’t really necessary. I hand sewed junctions to keep them from flipping,though I don't think they would.

In conclusion, this was an easy to make cardigan and the instructions were good. I like it and think I’ll get a lot of use from it.

This is version B, slightly lengthened in body for height and personal preference. No change to sleeve length.

It’s a winner.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Jasper Sweatshirt with collar fastening with epaulet and button

I had admired the styling of  both versions of the Jasper sweatshirt/dress from Paprika Patterns for a long time and finally decided I’d make the sweatshirt length with the collar and epaulet with button - view B but at view A's length.

Should I go outside to take photo?
Probably not at the moment!

I like the hood too, but would have less use for that version. Originally I was thinking of Pattern Review’s wardrobe contest but I had already abandoned that idea by the time I started.  I’d had the pattern for a long time – in fact, I discovered I had 2 copies – one from a Perfect Patterns Parcel (remember the bundles of Indies?) and one I had bought from Pattern Review. There were loads of positive reviews. I didn't read every review but it seems I should have as even some of the highly positive reviews mention some of the problems I experienced. Too late for me, though.

I bought lovely grey ‘Boucle Sweatshirt Knit Dress Fabric’ from Minerva Fabrics. I love the fabric and it sews nicely but I was thinking that perhaps it was too bulky for this design, despite fitting the criteria given in the pattern instructions. I say that because my seams are very bulky. However, I have had communication from a number of people who gave up on this pattern because of that very issue – two of them broke overlocker needles.

The pattern, in PDF form, comes in two sizes 1- 7 with B cup fitting and 7 – 10 with C cup fitting. I made size 8 on top, grading out on the hips to 9. I also made a small FBA following Paprika’s excellent online instructions for both a small and a large FBA. The top is described as close fitting and I wanted to keep that.

The pattern pieces taped together well. I had no issues with this.

I then cut out the fabric with no problem. (It’s lovely fabric!). I found the fabric quite difficult to mark and I think I could have done better in that area. I accidentally missed/lost a couple of important points and had to redo at a later point.

I quickly machine basted the main pieces (front, sides, back, sleeves) together to test for fit. At this stage, I inserted the sleeves in the round. It was fine, though too short in the body, but there is a band which could be increased if necessary.

The very first task given in the pattern instructions - well second, the first is to stay stitch neckline – is to create the welt pockets – the welt lies  between the front and the side in a princess seam and connecting tube pocket. I had rather hoped to build up to that! I’ll cut the story short and say I messed the welts up as I cut in the wrong direction and couldn’t rescue the hole or raw exposed fabric. Inexperience.
The pencil is pointing to the raw hole

My welts are also rather bowed

I was in class but tried to do this myself as the tutor was busy. Later, she tried to help me rescue it. At home, I decided I had to redo. This time I followed Paprika’s online tutorial on the welt pocket and managed okay.

Much better!

I don’t have experience of these but apparently the method is rather unusual, according to some experienced reviewers. I guess my tutor thought that, too, as she said she’d like to have another go at it. No class this week because of snow but I’ll take along the finished version for her to see – and the abandoned sweatshirt front.

The pockets work and are at nice length for me
The sweatshirt is lovely and cosy

My tutor and I both thought that there was a mistake in the pattern as the pocket pieces were much larger horizontally than the piece they were attaching to – at that stage I hadn't seen anyone mention this. However, I cut a bit off the pocket lining and this worked – but I retained the full size of the pocket self fabric. At the end the seams need graded. There are quite a few layers!

Since than,  I read a 5 star review by a reviewer who contacted Paprika about this and learned it was a mistake in the pattern in the larger sizes.  It's possible that this may have been corrected in the latest version of the pattern which came out last week.  That same person made the same observations about the pocket bottom as I did. I learned that it's not always my mistake!

I think that was the only really tricky part, really. Next was attaching sides to front – no problem – the fabric eased in beautifully. Then shoulders, then I attached sleeves flat. I had made a small increase to the biceps earlier, by the way. It was fairly straightforward after this – sides seams and sleeves joined; collar inserted (double thickness) in the round; bands (double thickness) added to sleeves and hemline in the round. Then epaulet and button. The button took me the longest as I mislaid it and took a long time to find it - right next to where it should have been all along. I had looked there several times so it must have been caught up in something. 

What did cause me problems/what don't I like?

Firstly – the seams are very bulky. Very very bulky in parts. Grading only helps a bit. In one part, I’m convinced I was told to grade in the wrong way as the fabric wants to lie with the graded layers exposed. Unfortunately, I carried out the instructions as advised.  I have seen now online a number of people complaining about this and some who have abandoned the project after breaking overlocker needles.

On a side note – this is why I talk about my failures and like to read reviews both positive and negative – if I had read that, I might not have made this sweatshirt. It’s only as I’ve mentioned on IG or FB or via DM that others have said – oh that happened to me too etc. Apparently, there are many better patterns around – I saw Jalie mentioned a lot.

There is some mention in the pattern instructions of topstitching the seams flat but a warning that this might make the fabric too stiff. I didn’t but may have to. I’ll see what happens in the wearing.

The other bit that caused me a problem was that the pocket lining and pocket, which extends across the front as a tube from princess seam to princess seam, is longer than the sweatshirt body.
This is the tube pocket from the inside
Tube pocket from inside - bottom covers the start of the band

There is no mention at all in the instructions as to what you should do with this. I chose to ignore it and carry on attaching the band. Others cut to the same length (shortening pocket – I need the length) – but I’m not sure whether they then sewed in or left loose. If loose, it might as well have been the same length as mine. If sewn in – oh the bulk!!!! What I’ve ended up with is a loose tube across the inside of the sweatshirt. I reckon it will be unnoticeable in wear though I might find it a bit tricky to put on. Only time will tell! I don’t think I’ll really use the pocket, in any case

Looking inside a pocket


Okay – I love the appearance of the finished garment. I rather like the slimmer fit and don’t think it’s too short. The pattern is for 5’7” and I’m 5’11” but no lengthening of sleeves or body was required. I’m sure it will be worn, and I think it is a little more stylish than some of the other sweatshirts I have. I’m concerned as to how well it will last. My clothes generally last a long time. This though?

I don’t love the inside finish. That might not be too important to some but it is to me – especially when I show to my sewing tutor! I’m concerned, though, that the sweatshirt might wear less well. The biggest issue is really with the bands - I feel they might have been attached differently to avoid this issue. There are 3 layers of fabric here and it becomes quite thick. This is where I thought I had chosen my fabric unwisely (even though it seemed to match criteria perfectly) – however, two others who made this, and who had used thinner fabric than advised, still had problems and broken overlocker needles.

I don’t think I’ll sew this again. I’d have to find a better way of making the pockets and attaching the bands. Maybe the bands need to be in a different, finer fabric - or I could just have hems.

I'm hoping to get this photographed tomorrow. It's bright enough in all the snow. The sweatshirt is warm and cosy

Sorry, I copped out of an outdoor shot today. It's still snowing on and off .
I took the bulk of the photos on the other side of this glass, inside the conservatory

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

February Fails!

Camellia flowering in snowy branches (it was thawing earlier)
I'm not now entering the PR wardrobe contest. No real surprise there! I thought that to make 1 topper, 2 bottoms and 3 tops that coordinate was both achievable and desirable, that is it fitted in well with my plans. I had time to test fit before the start of the real sewing, TNT patterns were of course allowed, and there was/is six weeks after the start of the actual sewing (the end date is 15 March). So not too difficult! Yeah, right.

I thought I'd start with the bottoms. As mentioned elsewhere, I'm doing a PR Sarah Veblen pant class, have her book and read her article in Threads last month. In the PR class, Sarah does post some replies to your queries but is clear that she will not give individualised or personalised answers. She does provide this via her personal platform but of course you have to pay extra for that.  I haven't achieved a suitable fit yet. David is helping me, which isn’t ideal as he really doesn’t understand/agree with the process. I'm sure I'll get there. I hope. I'm not going to rush for an artificial deadline.

I did not want to substitute skirts.

I also made a top from what I thought was a TNT pattern but it didn't work. I think I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, probably with a photo on IG as it didn’t merit a blog post - briefly, it was too tight as the fabric I was using had much less give and drape and I have put on weight. I modified the pattern and tops are on my (near?) horizon.
I'm in the middle of a Paprika Patterns Jasper sweatshirt. I messed up the welt pockets and was forced to redo.

I cut into the welt in the totally wrong direction and couldn't salvage it, though I tried.
The pencil is pointing to a raw end and hole through to the inside of the sweatshirt

Overall view didn't look awful but wasn't right - I would have left but for the hole, above
They look great now but I'm not going to finish in my timescale as there are too many other things going on.

Poor photo on my phone tonight - take my word for it the welts are much better!

I was due back at class tomorrow after midterm holiday, but I can't go as I'm in Scotland with my mother. (I was as I wrote that, last week) Anyway, the sweatshirt would be better with jeans. I have RTW jeans that it will work with - but of course that's no good for the PR contest! Until I get my pant block right, jeans are not on my horizon.

I bought some nice but rather heavy double cloth wool in navy/grey for the topper part, which I've shown before, again on IG, though I also have a Blackwood cardigan ready to cut out. I thought in the end that the cardigan would be better for the wardrobe contest (read speedier!) but the wool would be great in a reversible version of Butterick 6244 to showcase the double cloth nature of it - when I noticed that there was a PR reversible garment contest coming up on 15 March, I thought okay I'd enter. I thought I'd make a toile, though, to get a bit ahead (this is permissible) partly to get the right size and eventually to practice on the fabric to work on the reversible seams before working on the real thing. I thought that getting it truly reversible could be tricky. 

Butterick 6244. A nice pattern, great reviews but just not my style and the fabric was just too heavy, too

Anyway, I modified the pattern for larger hips and larger biceps, cut out from calico and sewed up the toile - and hated the result! I'm not showing you a photo! I did learn a few things from sewing it up - don't forget any of the notches for one thing!! Another thing I learned was to trust my first judgement. I hadn't been at all sure about the pattern for me, or for the fabric, but couldn't find anything more suitable. When I said this to Rory and showed her me wearing the toile, she said she had hoped to find some redeeming feature to mention but couldn’t! She said there was nothing flattering about it for me. She sees me as someone who suits more tailored garments (that’s true) and that normally we’re pulled towards things we suit, particularly as we get older and we know what suits us. Things outside our usual, with a few exceptions (she’s not advocating in the rut thinking) are generally not for us. I also thought this was going to be an easy pattern, but I didn't find it so. I have abandoned this idea. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with the pattern, which came together nicely once I had marked the notches correctly.

At least I still have all the lovely fabric left, unharmed! As I started preparing this post in Scotland, the sun had quite a lot of warmth in it, so I reckoned I'm really thinking about next winter before I use the fabric. Today we have thick snow with more forecast all this week because of the ‘Beast from the East’. It’s chilly outside too so more sewing forecast!

I did get to Sew Club last night (Monday), before the snow proper hit.

I bought some jersey fabric and decided to make a Blackwood cardigan from Helen's Closet, among other things (my originally planned fabric probably wasn't going to work as it had less stretch than the pattern suggested). I planned a matching tank and cardigan. I know matchy matchy isn't ideal these days, but I thought the style wouldn't look like the old style twin set so would work okay.

The fabric was pre-washed and dried. Did I do this incorrectly I wonder?

I sorted out the Blackwood cardigan pattern. I did a small FBA following the excellent instructions given on the sew-a-long. Although I'm tall, I didn't think I needed to lengthen arms or body as it seemed long enough as it is designed super long. I cut out the pattern paper ready to apply to fabric and cut out proper.

I took the fabric to Sew Club as there is a bigger cutting table there.

I found the printed pattern on the fabric is WAY off. As the pattern will be lying horizontally on my body, this is important. 

Yes, it's that far off!

Trying to fold the fabric using patterns as guide - well, you can see the twisted folded edge.
To fold with a nice fold created very off ends

Rory showed me how to try to try to get the fabric on grain (block square and steam). This improved the small piece we were able to do (space, time) and Rory felt it was workable with. She advised cutting out pieces larger than each pattern piece and blocking the pieces individually.

I think I can do that at home as I think I have a cardboard cutting board somewhere. I normally use a cutting mat and rotary cutter but Rory advised against this in this instance. I found that the piece from class had sprung back to the wrong shape.

I wish I had just returned the fabric. This is a lot of effort. I have emailed the company I bought it from to complain, but as the fabric is washed and dried and now has a chunk cut off, I won’t get anywhere. Still, I didn’t want to just let it go. It’s a lot of money even if bought in a sale.

I can't say anything about the Blackwood cardigan as this fabric is a long way from being ready for it! Lots of good reviews so I'm hopeful. Good instructions. I might see if another fabric I have would work - the first I looked at had insufficient stretch. I’ve gone off this fabric big style!!

Current plans

  • Complete pant fitting process - then there's no limit! I wanted to make some winter weight pants but by the time this is finished, I'll need to use lighter weight fabrics so those fabrics will get stored away too. I had planned to use navy and burgundy wools. (On that note, Fabworks online has some fabulous wools in a snap sale lasting until next week I think. I don't need any so have resisted the temptation. There are some great buys though)
  • Complete Jasper sweatshirt - I’ll post separately about that.
  • Make a Blackwood cardigan (plus or minus tank, depending on fabric chosen)
  • I do have need, not urgent, for a workout top to go with my workout trousers. The top I tried to wear last time is no use.
Then, who knows? I'd still like to complete the wardrobe contest garments but in my own time.

I've had a few things I've abandoned this year so far for one reason or another (they don't fit the FLF description - Fit; Like; Flatter) but I don't feel bad about them (though I do feel bad about that off-grain fabric - and I have a coordinating piece from the same range which I finally dared to check and it’s off too!).

I'll have to re-look at what I want to do.

Friday, 26 January 2018

My Chanel-type jacket - part 3. It's finished.

My last post about this jacket was over 4 months ago as I was busy with family things and making the outfits for the murder mystery weekend (with of course the exception of David’s Franciscan monk’s outfit that he made entirely by himself), posted earlier. However, I hadn’t completely forgotten about the jacket.

This post has been part written on each of several days. Today I just wanted to get it posted (I'm still feeling rather unwell). The quality of the photos could be better (understatement!)

After my last post, I removed the sleeves, reduced the size of the seam allowance in order to give a bit more space for my biceps and re-attached to the armscye. Previously, my pattern matching was absolutely perfect but for some reason I couldn’t get it perfect this time - strange as the sleeve attachment previously was very wonky as I discovered when I was removing - the seam width changed a few times and in places I had double or even triple stitched as I was having issues inserting the sleeves originally. I had to consider how many times it was appropriate to redo and took advice from Rory and Dan (Gillian's classes were finished) - their advice was that the sleeves hung beautifully and the pattern matching was fine so to leave. I took their advice. I also had to take into account that while this jacket will work for me, the sleeves are too short and although the fringe will hopefully disguise that, I’m not really a fringe person!! So this could be a really fancy wearable toile! No, not a toile as I will consider it a finished jacket but it will highlight any future changes required.

The next step was to create the fringe. As suggested by both Mary (Cloning Couture) in comment on my last blog post and Kate at my weekend sewing trip, I did try cutting the fabric strips on the bias and compared this to straight stitching. However, I preferred the appearance of the straight fabric strips. In addition, I had originally auditioned two fabric strips on top of the lining but found I preferred only one as it was less full - as I said above, I’m not really a fringe/frilly person and I found the two layers to be a bit ‘too much’. Anyway, I told myself, Chanel actually used the selvedge from the fabric (I considered that too) and one layer appeared closer to that. I used the lining fabric cut on the bias to allow it to go around corners more readily. Some people have asked me about this and how I did it. I'll have a look to see if I have any photos - I think I do but my computer is in intensive care and I've bought a new one which I haven't got set up as yet. I might have some on my phone. I'll post if I can - or perhaps post at a later date. I can't check at the moment.

I created the fringe strips in my sewing bee with Rory. Sorry Rory for the incredible mess this made (glad I wasn’t doing it at home!!). I couldn’t believe how many threads and the amount of lint from my fabric strips! I did have to trim the strips afterwards as they were a little too wide. Even more mess. I attached the strips to the bias cut lining and was ready to go.

I had already marked my jacket just inside the seam allowance with machine stitching, which would also act as stay stitching. Gillian had said to put tape around the neckline but as I was adding two layers of lining underneath into the neckline turnover, I decided, rightly or wrongly, that I didn’t need to do this.

I attached the lining part of the strips to the jacket fronts and neckline, just like you do with piping, carefully ensuring that the junction between the lining and the fabric lay along the stitching line. This was more difficult than it sounds as I could scarcely see my staystitching. Maybe I should have used a contrast colour of thread. I pinned and then tacked. I quite enjoy the process of tacking (basting) by hand and feel that it made it more likely for the horizontal patterns on the fringe and the jacket to match. I then machine stitched the fringe to the right side of the fabric. I did this at my last class of the year with Lyn, who helped me with the corners. I found it very difficult to sew with the bulk of the fabric on my right as was required for one of the corners. I didn't add fringing to the bottom hem. Despite my care, the pattern between jacket fronts and fringe doesn't exactly match but I’ve decided to leave it as I don’t want to carry the jacket unfinished over to 2018!

Ha! It's now 2018. Don't say you're surprised that I didn't get the jacket finished! In December, I started and completed the long-promised red silk dress for Helen, made a few Christmas presents and finished my knitted waistcoat. I did a little on the jacket but I'm unfortunately not someone who can watch TV while working and I usually watch with David in the latter part of the evening. If I'm really pushed, I'll sew right up to bedtime but I prefer not to do that.

Next step was to turn up the jacket hem and stitch it in place. I placed curtain chain weight in the hem fold and secured that at seam lines and the ends. This was the process if there is no fringing - I'm not completely sure how I would have done this with fringing. Just a minor modification to the process, I feel.

I said I didn't like the double fringing but the single seems a bit scrappy. I think maybe I'm just not a fringing person. I decided I'd continue, though. Next time I'd go for braiding - I would've done with this one if the sleeves had been long enough. I bought a choice of braid and of buttons but haven't used either.

Next, the lining seams. Sleeves first. The under layer of lining is smoothed across the seam and pinned in place down the seam line. It's then cut level with the fabric edge (forgot to say seam allowances were trimmed). Then the other side is smoothed across and folded under level with the seam line and the first pin taken out and transferred to keep the two lining areas in place. In some cases, I had stitched my quilting lines too close to the seam lines - I needed more side than I had anticipated. So I had to unpick a fair bit of my quilting and re-tie my threads. This is an ongoing task. Next time, I would be aware of just how far away from the edges I need to stay and this would save quite a bit of time.

It isn't too difficult - but, boy, is it tedious! I do hope it will be strong enough! I'd hate my lining to start falling apart.

I continued in this vein, a little bit each day. Things did move on and the hand sewing was often a relief from the day. Today (Thursday 25 January), I had just the sleeve lining/jacket lining armscye junction to do. I took it to class with Lyn - I haven't been well, not yet recovered and wanted a simple almost mindless task. Lyn advised folding the jacket seam allowances towards the sleeve rather than opening them out as elsewhere. She felt this would give a nice shape. I did this, then smoothed the under layer of lining over, pinned then tacked them in place, identifying the stitching line. Here Lyn offered an important piece of advice - the need to ensure the lining is not pulled too tight. I had been pulling too tight so adjusted that. After I pinned the over lining over, I tacked and removed the pins so I could try the jacket on. I think it looks pretty good. When I tried on, the tacking stitch was under pressure in one area so I added a little extra there.

I finished stitching one sleeve in place and managed to get the other stitched in place tonight.

I'm not putting pockets - or mock pockets, as you no doubt guessed.

So that's it finished!
I'm quite excited now that I see it finished!

It's rather crushed so I'll hang on Madame and steam tomorrow. David liked it when I tried it on and said he'll take some photos tomorrow.

I didn't steam before I took the photos as I was worried about losing what little light there was available. I also realised just now as I was finishing this post, that I didn't put the chain on around the lining/hem junction - after all that searching for suitable chain!! I'll probably leave it off.

Summary of resources used:
Chanel jacket class by Gillian Hargreaves - 2 days. I attended with Margaret (The Crafty Creek), who has blogged about the course. I'm not sure if she has finished the jacket as there has been no further blog post.
The Iconic Tweed Jacket by Lorna Knight (Craftsy class) I bought this a while ago and hadn't watched. I found it a great class and enjoyed the instructor but her methods were slightly different from those I was following from Gillian.
Books by Claire Schaefer
Assistance in class from Rory (Centre Front Studios) and from Lyn (WEA) as mentioned in body of text.

Then on to other projects!

First Quarter Update 2018 - RTW Fast 2018, EYS/7STS, 2018makenine

I’m involved in the RTW Fast 2018 meaning that I have pledged not to buy RTW (Ready To Wear) garments (with certain exclusions including...