Balenciaga Museum, Spain

Hey there!

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When we decided we’d spend our holiday in Northern Spain this summer, I was keen to make sure we would be able to visit the Cristobel Balenciaga museum in Getaria, a small village on the coast where Balenciaga was born, and where he was eventually buried in 1972.

The village itself is worth a visit for the pintxos bars alone (yum!) (which supply the local version of tapas) and in which I seem to have eaten my own bodyweight whilst here, but I digress.  The museum building (on the right) was specially commissioned and is impressive in its own right.

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The inside was pretty impressive too, and very quiet, that day, which was great for taking photos.

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I didn’t know much about him before I went, but he does seem to be having a renaissance at the moment, with the V & A also putting on an exhibition of his works, which I hope to be able to visit too.

The current display focused on the wardrobe of Rachel L. Mellon, an American society heiress,  philanthropist, loyal customer of Balenciaga’s work, and also his friend. For over 10 years she clothed herself in haute couture from his studio and it is this collection that was on show when I visited.

Here she is (on the right) with her good friend Jacqueline Kennedy.

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Balenciaga was born in Spain in 1895, and followed his seamstress mother into producing and designing clothing for the Spanish upper classes, opening his own studio in 1919 in San Sebastian, Spain, initially, before moving eventually to Paris and opening his own couture house in 1937. He was trained as a tailor and was one of the only designers in that time who could cut their own designs by hand.

He is most well known for his post-war work, and was a true innovator, designing the first sack dress, the empire-line babydoll dress and the balloon jacket.

The tour started with a 20 minute video explaining his life and work, with other designers being interviewed to help understand his approach, since he only ever gave one interview himself, throughout his whole career. It was well worth seeing this, since I knew so little about him and it set the scene for the rest of the tour.

Most of the clothing was behind glass, so not great to take photos of,  especially with the low level lighting to help preserve the pieces. Despite that I got reasonable shots of some of the lovely outfits, which were displayed very straightforwardly. So,  I’ll shut up now, and let the photos speak for themselves.

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DSC02990DSC02984DSC02978DSC02960DSC02961IMG_2846DSC02964DSC02976I found the designs were very much of their time, of course, but the sheer simplicity of the silhouettes and the restrained details felt very much of the “less is more” ethos, which I loved. I’ve seen the quite a few designer exhibitions over the years and this was one of the most understated, simple and classic collections I’ve ever been to. It was bit of a shame that there were no descriptions for each outfit.

If you’re a lover of fashion history, or in the area and have a spare half a day I’d highly recommend visiting.

 

Trousers – starting from scratch

If you follow me on Instagram then you’ve probably seen photos of my recent trouser-making endeavours, so I thought a more in-depth post was worthwhile for those of you who like to make, or are thinking of making them for yourself and are interested in exploring fit issues.

In previous posts I’ve rambled and wrangled over trouser fitting so I won’t bore you with my woes again, just suffice to say that after spending time over the winter honing my TNT jeans pattern I realised that it really didn’t look like a proper trouser pattern should any more, and that I’d lost all confidence in it continuing to work for me.

Which is frustrating, as most of my sewing life I’ve enjoyed amending and altering, slashing and hacking away at what others have designed. I know some people love to sew and draft from their own slopers/blocks, but I tried that a few years ago and decided it wasn’t for me. It just felt like too much work, and time, to get to an item of clothing, especially when there are hundreds if not thousands of clothing patterns already drafted out there.

I eventually decided, after looking at my options, that I needed help. So as a big fan of Craftsy, I went to see what they had and found Suzy’s Ferrer’s class, Pattern Making & Design, the Pants Sloper. I waited until it went  on sale before I bought it, which is not too hard if you’re patient, which I’m not, but I’m stingy, so that worked for me.

I don’t plan to give you a blow-by-blow review of the class, there’s a good preview on Craftsy if you want to look further into it, but hopefully I can help you understand better how a block/sloper is developed using her method. This review is also my own personal opinion and no money or freebies have exchanged hands.

Not surprisingly, the class starts, straightforwardly enough by you taking some basic measurements of your lower body (preferably with someone you know and trust, because crotches are involved!) and follow a series of steps, which does involve a little bit of maths,  to get to your first trouser draft. You just need a tape measure, pen, paper, calculator and ruler with the only downside being the ability to work in inches (and fractions of inches) not cm. I’m not used to working in inches, so converted everything to cm, which was a bit of a pain, but not impossible. Also it is really helpful to have someone else measure you as it’s not so easy to get everything you need yourself.

As I’ve done a little drafting already, and Suzy walks you very clearly through the steps involved, it wasn’t too tricky, and it didn’t take too long before I was ready to make them up in a  stable woven fabric, as recommended. Which reminds me, Suzy doesn’t give any instructions on how to sew trousers so you really do have to know that part already. The class is classified as advanced, and I think that’s right, although an adventurous intermediate might also enjoy it..

So, this was my first attempt, front view.

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As you can see the crotch area is really baggy and they are too loose all down the leg.

The Side

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Not bad. I didn’t have enough fabric for the toile, so had to use two  different colours of linen. My side seam looks lovely and straight but the legs are a bit too loose fitting.

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A decent fit over my bum and crotch, if a little too loose all over, especially at the waist and a needing a closer fit on the legs and crotch.

So, overall, they are the right length, and fit reasonably well over my upper rear,  but are too big through the leg and crotch.

Now, everyone has different ideas of good fit and in this class the block/sloper is meant to be pretty snug over the waist, bum and hips, because, as Suzy points out trousers will always stretch out a little with wear. The leg however is meant to be a little looser, to give some ease for walking/moving.   Suzy explains that it usually takes a minimum of three mock-ups before you get a good result, so I was ready to try and make these work better.

I could at this point have jumped in and started trying to fix the problems myself, however based on my previous experience I didn’t feel confident to do that, so I went back to her class to see what to do next, and quickly found that I had of the common  fitting issues she’s come across.

I also posted her some pictures and questions and she came back to me within a few days with some helpful tips.

The first alteration I tackled was removing a little excess width at the centre front seam, above the crotch,  to address the bagginess around there. I pinned out just a few mm at each side  and already the trousers looked to fit a little better above the legs.

Secondly I went on to remove excess width down the sides, mostly on the legs. Again, this wasn’t a big change, but I could now really see them starting to look like they should. Again I only took out about half a cm each side seam, which removes 2 cm overall.

I then shortened the front crotch, taking off 3-4mm only by chopping off the excess at the crotch extension, to get it to fit closer to the body.

The back crotch I scooped out just a tad, flattening out the curve lower down, to get a closer fit in there.

I then went back, altered my pattern and made them up again to see how they fit this time.

The front

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Much better! All the bagginess around the hip and crotch has been eliminated. The legs are still a little loose but not overly so.

The side. You can really see my swayback here, which is just basically a forward tilted pelvis, apparently.

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The side seam is pretty straight with a tiny amount of pulling towards the back at low hip level.

The back.

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This is pretty good.  I did have to pinch out some excess at the waist at centre back, which is something I’m used to doing.  There’s also a little bubbling below the right dart too for my high hip on that side.

All of this might sound like a lot of work, but I did all this in a couple of sessions. Trouser blocks are really very easy to sew up as they’re only 2 basic pieces at this stage, so the only real time consuming bit is altering the pattern and truing up the seams.

As I was pretty happy with my last toile I decided I’d go ahead and make up some trousers direct from my block, as is. I don’t think you can really evaluate fit properly until you’ve worn your item a good few times, so I wanted to do that before making any further tweaks to the pattern.

I found a medium weight linen for the purpose and went back to Suzy’s class to get the details on drafting pockets and waistband. Her class explains how to make a more slim fit trouser from your block, with a flat front, as well as a wider-leg version, with lowered waist and pockets so you’ve got options to turn your block into something wearable.She also has another class I believe which shows you how to develop your block into more styles, including drawstring and jeans versions.

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I need to go back and take a wedge out of the waistband at centre back, and make the pockets a bit bigger, but other than that I’m pretty happy with them. After wearing the linen did bag out a lot, so I may go for a tighter fit next time, but that would alter with a different fabric so I wouldn’t change my block.

Since then, I’ve made a pair of flares in a woven, and am already planning more trousers, but this time with stretch fabric.   Suzy recommends you make a new block for stretch fabrics, starting by taking half an inch off the sides first and altering from there, if necessary. There’s a beautiful chocolate stretch cotton satin in my stash waiting to be made into something gorgeous, as well as some baby blue corduroy.

So, do you make your own trousers? Have you found a good fit using standard patterns or did you make your own block/sloper? Did you have to update it often? Do you enjoy drafting your own patterns?

 

 

 

 

Sewing for Mr TSM

Hey everyone, or Ey Up as they say around these parts!

In a change to regular programming, I’d like to share with you some of the sewing I’ve done for my lovely, husband, as I do actually do it on a reasonably regular basis, but have never blogged my results. Also, when I say a regular basis, I really mean only once or twice a year, and only shirts 😉 So, if you’re only here for the women stuff, then please feel free to move on.

So, Mr TSM has always liked a nice fitting shirt and wears them regularly at work and for going out.  He dresses quite smart most of the time and is very careful about co-ordinating the things he wears. He likes a shirt with a slim fit, and is very particular about fabric. He loves the warmer colours and is drawn to small patterned or quirky designs,  but no checks or stripes please.

He is also very slim and small framed so finding good fitting shirts isn’t impossible, but means he regularly has to deal with too long arms and baggy fit from RTW. I therefore knew I’d be able to do better for him, but he took some persuading initially to see the benefits.  His view was that it would be a lot of effort for me to make him a shirt and that there were plenty in the shops, so why?  However I was getting twitchy just looking at the bad-fit stuff he was wearing, and really couldn’t wait to try my hand at improving it. I’m pleased to say he’s now a convert and loves to wear the shirts I made him.

Now, if you’ve made shirts already you’ll know there aren’t that too many patterns around. The Colette Negroni is popular, but I needed one which went down to a size 34. So far, I’ve used a couple of patterns, with differing results, and thought it might be useful to compare and contrast them, for the sake of sewing research.

First up, and the one I’ve used most,  good old Burda 7767, which has been around a while and has 2 views, with 3 different collar sizes, plus a stand collar style.

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I’ve only made the non-dressy version, but first the good.  It’s reasonably slim fitting (which my husband likes) but which might not suit everyone. The choice of collars is very useful if you want to change it up slightly, although I’ve only ever done the one size.  The instructions are clear and well written and the pattern is mostly well drafted (in the size I did)

The bad – It doesn’t have a shirt-tail hem, so the shirt doesn’t look too good untucked, but you can change that yourself very easily. The sleeve placket instructions leave a small raw edge.

Here is the first shirt I made, in a lovely Liberty tana lawn. The only alteration I made being to shorten the sleeves somewhat. It has been worn loads.

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Did you see the pocket? Me neither!

The back.

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I flat-felled everything and topstitched too, but it was probably wasted due to a busy fabric.

The second pattern I’ve used is Vogue 8889, not a recent pattern again, but which has more interesting style lines than the Burda.

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The good –  the pattern is well drafted and the sleeve placket works well, without raw edges. I like the hidden placket front too. Also it has a nice shirt-tail hem.

The bad –  the fit is slightly odd, imo.  The chest is true to size however the waist and hips have massive amounts of ease, as others have noted.  Also those lovely style lines at the side seam are so narrow that they’re hardly noticeable, rendering them almost obsolete. Also, no pockets.

Here is the last shirt I made from this pattern, again in another busy print, chosen specially by his nibs when we were in the Liberty shop in London after Christmas.

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I chose the smallest size but after trying on it was too tight in the chest, so I used up all my seam allowances to get it to fit better. I also took in the sides below the chest quite a bit to get a slimmer fit.

The back

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Not too bad. The side insert is hardly noticeable, however, especially in this fabric.

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I flat felled all the seams using Janet Pray’s method, which avoids trimming, and topstitched everywhere too. The Liberty tana lawn behaved impeccably, as always.

In other news,  I’ve been busy back sewing for myself of late, although the warmer weather and garden do beckon.  I’ve been posting regularly for Me Made May on Instagram and have enjoyed seeing what everyone’s up to and getting to know people a little better through their daily posts. I still love reading blog posts though, and they will always be my favourite way of catching up.

I’m still busy stash-busting too and, although I’ve made a couple of small purchases now, I’ve reduced my hoard by over 43 metres since January. It’s been hard not to buy anything but I think I’ve tackled my squirrely habits pretty well. There’s  plenty of fabric remaining on my shelves though, so when June is over I think I might continue to see if I can do a full year. We’ll see.

I’m also hoping I’ll be able to share with you how I finally got a trouser block that really works for me, after buying Suzy Ferrer’s class on Craftsy.

Thanks for stopping by

 

Cord love them!

Hey there!

Before the warm weather hit us I decided I needed to copy a lovely shirt-dress I saw this lady wearing on Instagram a few months back. It was made in corduroy, and after making my  cord jeans I was looking for more projects in one of my favourite fabrics, and had managed to source a lovely Liberty needlecord, from memory from Sewbox too.

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The dress itself had been bought from Laura Ashley, I established, so I needed to find a pattern for it and was lucky enough to find a very similar design on the StyleArc website. I don’t know about you, but very often  I know the design I want, and can spend ages tracking down the right pattern on the various websites. I really wish I could just search each website by design components e.g. raglan sleeve, v neck, gathered skirt etc, but they never seem to offer this option. If I had the time, the inclination, the finances and the skill, I’d would just go ahead build a website that would do all that for me 🙂

Anyway, the Style Arc Italia was pretty spot-on with it’s loose fit, darts front and back and with the added bonus of cute inserts at the hem.

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It all came together pretty well, the fabric behaved beautifully and I’ve made quite a few shirts in my time too. As usual, I made some fit adjustments. The length I didn’t change so tall ladies take note, I’m only 5’4″.

  • 1cm broad back adjustment (probably should had added another 1cm)
  • lowered the darts 0.5cm
  • shortened arms 5cm
  • shortened darts at back and moved out 1cm
  • lowered pockets 2cm
  • positioned buttons where they best went (I almost never put them where they say!)

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I’ve got to say I did have some quibbles with the pattern though.

  • the instructions for the sleeve placket were very poor and even after referring to their website I had an extra piece I wasn’t sure what to do with
  • the pockets are small and proportionally would only suit the smaller-breasted lady

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On the positive side I loved the whole design and the cute little hem insert, which unfortunately is somewhat lost in this fabric.

The dress is probably better suited to a plain fabric to show off all the topstitching details, and I may do that one day.

I’ve sewn a lot of Style Arc and love their drafting but am coming to the conclusion that they mostly don’t draft for my body shape, so haven’t been tempted by their designs of late. I’m getting rather tired of seeing lots of baggy/voluminous tent like styles everywhere, but definitely have been inspired elsewhere.

Cos have opened a shop in Leeds and I’ve been very tempted to scoop up a few of their designs.

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I do like a good plain garment with strong style lines, so my next projects will definitely incorporate some of these details this Summer.

Hope you’re all having a great Spring/Autumn. Until soon…..

Greek Cats have 0 lives

Thank you Alex Horne, for the fabulous punchline!

Hey everyone,

Despite the lack of posting I’ve been busy sewing away like mad of late. The weather in Northern England is proving to be my best dressmaking ally at the moment, so I’ve got a few recent items to share with you.

I’m still trying to sew to a kind of loose plan, around my colours, and as one of my  core neutrals is olive, and I haven’t got very many basics in this colour, they’ve been on my “to sew” list for a while now.

My core colours.

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Before I stopped buying fabric, I bought a few metres which would fit the bill. It’s not an easy colour to source but I’m always well up for any fabric buying challenge 😉 And yes, before you ask,  I have already have broken the “no fabric until July ” pledge I made in January. Boo! The fabric was in the “too good to miss” category. An ivory hammered silk satin which was a reasonable price and had been on my fabric bucket list for years. I’m still aiming not to buy any more and am pleased to report that I’ve reduced my stash by a satisfying 29.5 metres overall so far, despite the purchase.  Yay!

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(Beautiful hammered silk satin, yum!)

So, first up is a pair of wide-legged cropped trousers, or culottes as they’re described,  from Burda’s February issue this year,  no 104.

I’ve seen a lot of this style around lately and it’s very work appropriate for me, as well as being comfortable and flattering.

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The fabric is a gorgeous marled green/brown wool I bought from Cohen’s at the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate at the end of last year. It’s a medium weight, with plenty of drape, which this style definitely needs imho.

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The style is very forgiving of fit issues, although I did my fair share of alterations. The pleats allow you to increase/decrease the waistline area easily and the wide leg fit helps too. I did my usual fit alterations, swayback, moved the pleats over for my high hips and usual crotch alterations. The length was reduced too by a couple of inches. The back pocket flaps are non-functional and they are hand sewn down to stop them from moving.

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Because it was Burdastyle I ignored the sewing instructions and did my own thing. Bad move! The waistband facing needs to be sewn in on the overlap before the zip fly is inserted, otherwise you can’t pull the zip up. In my defence I’ve never sewn a waistband facing on fly-front trousers. This meant I had to rip out my zip to resolve it, but was lazy and just did a partial fix. The trousers zip up now but the insides aren’t quite as pretty.

I also made a new top to go with them.

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I used my faithful Vogue 8939 t shirt, altered for a round neck, and I just added the ruffle myself to perk it up. The fabric is from Fabworks and is a lightweight jersey, slightly sheer, so the ruffle helps with coverage as well as being decorative.

The ruffle was easy to make, if you have enough fabric. You need just 2 measurements before you start ;  the length, and the width of your desired ruffle. The length you use to draw a circle of the same circumference (I measured a pan and drew round that)  You then draw a second, outer circle, the width away from the first circle that you want your ruffle to be. Cut round both circles and then in-between to open it up.The diagram shows it best.

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I think I might have a few more ruffles in my life now 🙂

I’ve a few other items to share with you, when I get the chance to take some decent photos. Until then…

 

 

 

Style arc stella

Hey everyone,

When I first saw the fabulous Sewing Engineer’s version of the Style Arc Stella coat recently it went straight to the top of my queue.  Her review, as usual,  was very comprehensive so I knew she had my back too. Don’t you just love the sewing community?

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(The line drawing is slightly incorrect, as it fails to show the centre back seam)

The real star of the show is Fabworks’ Rich Chocolate twill melton. Their description is pretty spot on, but I went to the shop to check it out for myself. Still in stock, it’s a gorgeous, firm, 100% heavyweight wool with a slight sheen and is lovely and soft. It doesn’t fray, eases beautifully, but needs a lot of pressure and the use of a clapper to iron flat. I wasn’t entirely successful with my pressing either, later on that ,and the coat has a few wearing creases too as I couldn’t wait to try it out.

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The lining is Liberty Silk Satin in pattern Manning, which I had sourced already, bought when it was on sale.  It’s still available here.  I know silk is not the most durable of linings but this coat won’t be worn all the time, so I thought it was worth it. It really elevates a fairly plain coat in my opinion. And I’m not allowed to buy new fabric until July either.

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(that pose is not a great one out in public, ha!)

I debated whether to use any interfacing at all, because the fabric is pretty heavy and firmly woven already, but went with advice from the Fashion Incubator. As I’ve used this before with success I went with Silky Touch Couture fusible from  English Couture and used it on all hems, facings, sleeve heads and across the whole of the front. It’s very lightweight. For perfection I might have used an additional layer across the chest but I was wary of making the coat too stiff.

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Sizing wise I went with my normal 10 from Style Arc, which in hindsight was probably definitely a bit small in this pattern. This was most noticeable across my shoulders, unusually for me.  I often find Style Arc to be generously sized around the waist area and this was the case with this pattern, so no adjustments there.  The hips also are snug, but not overly so and I didn’t end up adjusting them, although I would normally expect to.

I did make a few alterations, as usual

  • small upper broad back adjustment 1cm
  • Forward shoulder adjustment 1cm

I also gave myself a tiny bit extra room width wise (there’s plenty of seams here to adjust) when sewing up for extra ease.

My toile also lied as I had quite a bit of trouble getting the sleeve to hang right after adjusting it for the forward shoulder. I fiddled about with it and eventually got it somewhere close but there wasn’t quite enough room width wise across the upper cap which could have been because it was too small in the shoulders.

The length of the coat is as drafted, and I’m 5’4″

No adjustments were made for sleeve length, which is unheard of round these parts. I usually lop off a couple of inches on every pattern I make for my T rex arms.

I topstitched all the seams to help them lay flat and to add a little extra interest.

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This pattern would be great for an adventurous intermediate as it’s a fairly simple sew, for a lined coat. There’s no buttonholes or notched lapels to worry about and plenty of seams to adjust for tweaking fit. The pattern is beautifully drafted, despite an odd notch or 2 missing on the lining. Style Arc’s instructions are pretty sparse though, but if you’re prepared to look up how to do things then I think you’re good to go.

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A sewing friend mentioned that she alway has had her coats professionally pressed, and I’m still considering whether to do that or not. Looking at these photos I’m quite tempted, as it was the most unsatisfactory part of the process of putting it together. I just need to find someone I can trust enough to hand over my precious coat.

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I’ve never owned a wrap coat and I don’t know why. It’s very versatile, easy to slip into, and out, and feels super smart. My version is lovely and warm and even feels classy, not normally something I aim for when I dress. Seriously.

Stay Classy San Diego.

One big one and five small ones please Rachel

Hi sewing chickens!

So, I’m on a bit of a casual, comfortable and classic jag at the moment and for the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a new sweatshirt and some more jeans for the cold Winter days we’re getting.

First up the Cords, using my trusty Burdastyle Floral Skinny Jeans 03/2014 in some lovely stretch corduroy I bought from Cohen’s at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate last November.

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These almost went in the bin, as after I tacked them together to check on the fit I found the legs had twisted at the bottom, and the inseam was all the way round to the front. After some investigating I realised that my adjusted pattern was at fault, so I got my lovely, patient husband to re-pin them and they were just about saved. They are just a little tighter over the calves than I’d like as a result and this shows as wrinkles at the knees and back due to my extended calves.

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I did all the usual topstitching but it doesn’t really show well in corduroy.

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Construction wise I didn’t do anything different than the last pair of jeans. I did however interface the waistband as the fabric is stretchy and I didn’t want them to fall down! They are  super comfy and soft and are a useful neutral in my wardrobe.

Since then I’ve gone back and totally revamped my jeans pattern, as I was still dis-satisfied with back leg wrinkles and after 4 muslins, phew, I think they’re pretty good, although I’ve yet to make a proper pair from them yet. Well fitting jeans are, to me, almost the holy grail of sewing.

I’ve since learned a lot about my fitting issues whilst doing this, so for the record the following changes to the pattern were made.

  • extended calf adjustment (tuck upper thigh at front to nothing at inseam)
  • Flat bottom adjustment (tuck upper thigh at back to nothing at inseam)
  • Low posterior adjustment (Scoop out and lower back crotch curve)
  • Swayback adjustment (take out wedge at centre back waist)
  • Widened inseams for large thigh/calf

I found the Itch to Stitch Liana jeans fitting sew along useful, as Kennis seems to have a similar shape to me in trousers. I do also use the Palmer Pletsch Pants for Real People fitting book but find the examples and patterns they use a bit dated. My best resource for problem diagnosis has been the Fitting and Pattern Alteration by Liechty/Rasband & Pottberg-Steineckert, my go-to guide these days. Expensive, but comprehensive on fitting.

And now, my new sweatshirt, another Burdastyle pattern I’ve used before but not blogged,  in some lovely Liberty loop-backed sweat- shirting, or French terry, I think it’s called.

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Apologies for the selfie. I got the fabric from Ebay after missing out on some over at Guthrie and Ghani in the Autumn and it’s lovely and sturdy, but has very little stretch. I used some ribbing I had already to finish it off and other than that there’s not much more to say. It’s perfect for pulling on over a vest top on casual days and after exercise classes to stay warm.

I also got the chance to meet up with fellow sewer and blogger Ali at a new shop which opened last week in our area, Fabricate. (Thanks for the photo, Ali, looking very stylish in her Tilly Cleo)

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They stock  a small, but quality selection of fabrics, craft kits, habby and other crafting items, and it’s only 20 minutes from where I live. I was gifted a lovely goody bag and treated myself to some cute pattern weights too.

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Ali’s organising #SewDownDewsbury , a meet-up for fellow sewers on the 25th February, and I’m really looking forward to catching up with everyone, and also bracing myself to resist the temptations of all the fabric shopping.

And how’s my New Year pledge doing too, you ask? Well, Carol, I mean Rachel, is keeping an eye on the numbers these days and here’s the results, so far.

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So, I record fabric purchases,(the 7 metres in column 1 were a Liberty sale purchase made in December before my pledge) fabric out (either used or donated) and the Sum shows I’m 15 metres better off than this time last month. Admittedly some of them were toiles, however I’m pretty pleased so far, though it’s early days.

I’ve just blown the dust off the knitting machine in the teenagers room, which usually means radio silence will ensue as the great big metal-teethed monster battles the determined,wily and effervescent Yorkshire seamstress. Who will win? No one can predict!

Until then,  you have fun!

 

How long can 6 months be?

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Around my work I’m usually pretty focused, setting myself deadlines, working towards long-term goals, making plans and being organised and scheduled. I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet, it’s just the lot of a small business owner, so in my sewing I usually try to avoid too many more commitments, and I certainly don’t want to put any timelines on them. It does make life more spontaneous and enjoyable,  and I really like the freedom.

I don’t therefore join in many sewalongs, or participate in competitions or Secret Santa exchanges because as soon as someone puts a deadline on me, it will often kill any pleasure in it. I hold my hands up. There must be something in it for me before I will join in, you’ve definitely got me there, selfish sewer in the room! Very occasionally there’s a brand new technique or item I covet or someone very special in my life who will appreciate the input that goes into making something. Only then I will make the effort. But occasionally frustrating consequences occur too.

Therefore, I’m hoping 2017 will be a little different, because this year I do actually want to set myself a longer-term goal in my sewing, one which will take me a whole 6 months to achieve. It does feel like a bit of a big deal and I’ll admit that I’m slightly scared about it too, which is a good thing, hopefully, in that it will challenge and stretch me.

I’ve really built this up haven’t I? You’re probably thinking that she’s going to say she’s only going to wear me-made clothes or make a whole wardrobe out of only chicken feathers. Nope and nope, although both of those are less challenging to me than what I’m hoping to do.

I’m actually just going to do all my sewing,  only,  from the existing fabrics that I already own (my husband told me to call it the large mountain of existing fabrics, but he doesn’t read other people’s sewing blogs, so he thinks it’s just me, ha!)

Of course, as soon as I thought I might commit to this, I went straight out and bought four metres of fabric to make a coat and some cushion covers!

But that’s it. No more fabric until July 2017. Dead simple. I have committed. Or should be!

 

 

 

 

 

When all around you is in turmoil, make jeans!

Happy New Year to you all! Aren’t you glad 2016 is behind you? I sure am. So many troubling and sad events it’s hardly comprehensible, and in my personal life things were mostly drama-free, thankfully, other than going through a very challenging time at work, as my small business deals with the very difficult economical circumstances we’re facing.

Anyway, that’s what the sewing is for, and making jeans is always a really good distraction when things round you are unpredictable and the future uncertain. Sometimes you want to be told exactly what to do and how to do it, so you can just concentrate on doing a good job  without too much thinking, and jeans are pretty perfect for that.

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I used a pattern I’ve sewn previously, but not blogged,  the Floral Skinny Jeans pattern from Burdastyle March 2014.   I had made a tonne of alterations to the pattern previously, including inward knee, flat seat, large calf and thigh adjustments and had cut them out a while back, then I got side-tracked. Since then, I’d  lost a few pounds then put some of it back on,  so when I got round to sewing them I wasn’t sure whether they’d fit or not. I don’t normally cut things out in advance, and that’s why, but once I tacked them together for a test fit I was relieved to see that they were fairly close. Each fabric is slightly different so it’s a good idea to do this, even when you’ve got a good fitting pattern.

For some reason I had bought denim  ( I think it was from Fabworks) which had ZERO stretch, but that is lovely and sturdy, which meant I had to plan plenty of extra ease for them to be comfortable. I’m hoping that means they’ll soften up and wear in really nicely as they age.

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I went full on with traditional gold topstitching and rivets, following the wonderful Ginger jeans Sewalong from Closet Case Files although the Burda magazine has fully illustrated instructions, which are pretty good too. I didn’t interface my waistband, as I like it softer and more comfortable and I went for the standard-ish back pocket embellishment although I made them slightly bigger since my derriere is rather wide and bigger pockets seem to look better somehow.

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I set up by old Bernina 830 to do all the topstitching, to save time re-threading machines, but it was struggling with all the layers so I switched it to doing the normal sewing and my Bernina 350PE did the topstitching instead. I used Gutterman topstitching thread throughout and had bought the rivets previously from TaylorTailor in the USA.

And I put in the fly the wrong way round! It seems lots of RTW jeans do this so at least I’m in good company but I didn’t realise this until I’d finished all the topstitching, and I wasn’t about to unpick all that, nope.img_8364

 

I think that’s all to say about my jeans making. As usual I’m raring to make some more, but this time I think they’ll be in Corduroy.

Until next time, friends.

 

 

 

2016 Review

I’m quite behind on blogging my sewing efforts, and this post won’t get me much further ahead either, however I didn’t want to leave 2016 behind without marking it in some way so I thought I’d do a mini review of my hits and misses this year. I hope you enjoy it.

So, let’s dive right in!

THE HITS

 

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This Burdastyle dress was on my list for so long and I’m so glad I finally made it. I love the design and the fabric, from Fabworks, is a perfect match.

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This Vogue 1465 Donna Karan jacket paired with a Style Arc Emily skirt  is in regular rotation at work and I feel stylish and cosy in it.  The jacket seams were left unfinished and I don’t think I’d do it again as they’re now fraying slightly, however I’m considering making the jacket again as it’s a good shape for me and one up on my normal cardigan/skirt look.

 

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A bit of a surprise, this, as I didn’t care for it much after I’d made it. My first Makers Atelier pattern is an oversized cocoon shape, not particularly flattering, however it’s loose enough and the colour versatile enough to wear over most of my outfits, so it gets taken out of the wardrobe regularly.

 

My Named Jamie jeans are being worn as I type although sadly they have shrunk a little lengthwise so, not for best any more. I loved making them too. I’m  going off the low rise style lately but will definitely be making more jeans in the future.

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The semi-self drafted dress was a real labour of love and I’ve worn it a quite a few times and absolutely love it! It’s that rare combination of comfortable, beautiful and versatile.

This Burdastyle outfit got worn quite a bit over the Summer and I got a few compliments from people too. The Liberty Tana Lawn fabric really is the star but the culottes are very easy to wear and the top has a few nice touches too. I’d like to make some Winter culottes from this pattern and have some fabric lined up all ready.

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I didn’t blog this Butterick 5926 jacket as I thought it was too boring but it’s worn regularly and has proved to be a very useful basic. It does make a change from wearing cardigans to the office too.

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Lastly, my Simplicity 1504, Liberty Tana lawn PJ’s are oh so comfortable and luxurious. They were a lot of work tho,  so I certainly won’t be rushing to make more.

THE MISSES

 

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I only recently made this Named Helmi dress but it was just a bit too snug across the back and one of the seams has already ripped.  Due to it only having 1cm seam allowances it’s not repairable. I do like the pattern though so will probably be making more, once I adjust it properly.

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This Butterick B6168 is just a little bit too revealing to be worn regularly. I might donate it sometime in the future.

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This StyleArc Ethel top  is just a bit too boxy for me and doesn’t feel very flattering on so I’ve hardly worn it. The Burdastyle jeans are keepers though!

In summary, I feel my skills are now practised enough that I can sew most things confidently to a good standard. Fit is something I can struggle with, but I’ve got a reasonable handle on my issues and because I don’t like doing toiles, or repeating patterns it’s something I have to live with.

Also, after a few years of making my own clothes, I’m at the stage where I’ve sewn enough variety to have a good few patterns that fit well and that flatter, and that I should really use again.  So in 2017 I’m going to try and aim for a few pattern repeats. Sorry?  Not sorry! I’ve already started making another pair of jeans using a pattern that I’ve used before and my list of to do’s is a mix of TNT and new patterns. I must also use some of the “special” fabrics I can’t bear to cut into too.

I’m really looking forward to some extended sewing time as well as sharing a few weeks off work with friends and family over Xmas. Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful holiday,  wherever you are,  and hope to see you back in 2017!