My 19th birthday present

Yes, my Mum and Dad were kind enough to get this beauty for me all those years ago. Like over 30 years ago – yikes! And now she has come home with me for the first time in decades.

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For many reasons she has been living with my Mum but now I’ve brought her home. I was recently visiting my family and offered to make my sister a pair of jeans so out she came. What a joy! Denim in multiple layers – no problem. Terrific topstitching – but of course. This machine is sooo much better than my Janome, even though they are both quite basic machines. So I had no choice – into the suitcase she went.

You can almost make out my Janome lurking behind and look at how little she is. (The Janome has a cream cover on her). There is so much more room to work with the Singer. It is also obvious how much more metal is in the Singer, she certainly is heavier so there won’t be so much annoying bouncing around. And she is so much smoother and quieter and that is without ever having been serviced. (Admittedly she hasn’t seen a lot of use in recent years). So she is off to the sewing machine repair man tomorrow because I know that if I start using her she’ll never get the service she deserves.

I did also have a bit of a pre-holiday sewing frenzy so will be back with some finished garments as soon as I take some photos. Hopefully only a day or two. See you then.

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A shirt and a bit of navel gazing

Sorry, this is a bit of a rambling post but I am tired of chasing thoughts around in my own head. I need to share:) So apparently I can’t sew when it’s too hot. Or at least I can only sew very slowly for a short time. Seriously, it is 40 degrees here and it is a slow process actually getting anything made. The sweat drops made the ink run on the pattern pieces as I was cutting out. And don’t talk to me about tearing pattern pieces that have become wet (more sweat) and then stick to your already sticky hands (with yes, more sweat).

I have made a Sutton blouse for both my Mum and my sister but as they are gifts no pics for now. Although I  must say that it is a great pattern for gifts as the fit is quite forgiving, which makes fitting so much easier when you live on different continents.

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My Sutton blouse

Making these also gave me the opportunity to try the size 16. If you remember, when I made it for myself I was unsure about the sizing and the extra length which I added. So the size 16 is too small. It fits but would need an FBA and the 18 is better anyway I think. But the length of the 16 was also ok (not lengthened). So next time I make it, I will use the straight size 18. So that’s good to know.

I also have a shirt for H which is nearly finished but then I’ve thought it has been nearly finished for several days now. Like I said  whined earlier, it’s hard to sew in the heat. I actually cut out two shirts and chose fabrics based on the ability to use the same thread so that I could sew them production line style. We decided on these two;

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Cotton/linen for shirts

Both gorgeous lightweight, cotton/linen mix. (Yes, there is similar in the shop) H is the understated type so prefers matching topstitching rather than contrast, so cream thread was good for both. From what I’ve read about production sewing, I would have these whipped up in no time. Or not. Apparently, production line sewing doesn’t work for me. Apparently I need the steady sense of accomplishment as each step is completed. Quickly, as in one shirt, not slowly as in two shirts. So now I’m just focused on getting one finished by Friday. It’s our wedding anniversary – 22 years – how is that possible already?

UPDATE: The shirt was finished on time so here it is.

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Not much to say about this pattern that I haven’t said before either here or here. I did narrow the collar and stand by 3mm and will hopefully remember to narrow the front placket next time as well. I also used muslin instead of interfacing on the placket, collar and collar stand, and I must admit I will do that again. I really like it.

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A very invisible pocket and a small glimpse of the sleeve cuff. Not that you can really see it. Because this fabric is nearly identical on both sides, I turned up a narrow cuff and topstitched it down. Perhaps you can see a little more in this photo.

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I also changed the centre back pleat to two side pleats. I simply copied a RTW shirt for placement.

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As well as not sewing, I have been spending an awful lot of time trying to decide just what I might like to sew for myself. You see I’m at something of a crossroads style wise. It has only just dawned on me, well I’ve had an inkling for a while but it has now completely hit me, that I can make anything I like. I know, for an intelligent woman, I can be awfully slow sometimes:) And then I realised that I am making bog-standard copies of bog-standard RTW because that is what I would otherwise have bought. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Except that for years my criteria has been

a) available in my size (Thailand and then enormous steroid-related weight gain) or

b) suitable for where I was living (The Middle East) or

c) covered the eczema on my arms and legs.

It has literally been years since I have thought about what I would wear if I could wear anything I wanted. And I can now wear anything I want . I’m back in Thailand, but can sew, and I am well. I still have steroid-stomach but most of the other excess weight is gone and no eczema. I repeat, I can now wear anything I want. That is both fantastically liberating and at the same time fantastically terrifying. There are now no excuses. I have to decide what I want to be wearing, how I want to present myself to the world, what look I desire, what impact am I looking to make.

With that in mind I have decided to take my time and actually work out what I want to wear. But then I shall be back with some pretty fabulous sewing. I am determined… no more boring, no more, it’ll do, definitely no more well that’s what everyone’s wearing or making. I’m looking forward to this….

UPDATE: We have finally had some thunderstorms and now it is only 36 or 37 degrees so I am sewing again! And Style Arc are having a 25% off sale until end of April in their Etsy store.  Now I really think I will be back soon with something a little more interesting.

Amazing creases

I just saw this really interesting piece on feather workers and creasers working on the Chanel show. I had no idea that that was how they make those stunning geometric creases. I guess they are called creases, since pleats are actually created by creasers apparently. Who knew?

Just thought you might enjoy it too. It is only about 6 min long too.

http://www.france24.com/en/20150306-you-are-here-fashion-secrets-haute-couture-chanel-france/

Kimono Tees

I’m on a bit of a top making mission at the moment. I’ve had some success with my two pairs of Flo jeans that I just love wearing, plus the shorts that I made as first versions of both the Barbs and the Flos. And now I really want to replace a lot of my RTW tops.

As well as being cool (it’s bloody hot here already at 38 degrees), they need to be cycling friendly. I’ve been riding a lot lately, both for exercise most mornings for an hour or so (go me), but also just as transport around town.

 

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I made the first version in local cotton, which is an ok print but has no drape at all.

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Just to add some style to what is an oh so basic design, I added sleeve bands.

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Just a simple rectangle added to the sleeve hems and then turned up.

The second version is from yet another piece of exceedingly cheap rayon. I love this one.

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I’m really pleased with how the irregular stripe worked out, even on the shoulder seams.

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Looking at these now, I think I might try a small FBA on this. It is definitely rising a little. I also need to remember to take a little bit out of the front neckline. It isn’t obvious at all in the stiffer cotton but I do notice it in the rayon. But boy, doesn’t this show just how much I am all front and no back. Speaking of back…

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I added sleeve bands to this too but they are not quite as successful. This is largely due to the drape of the rayon. Although they were better when first made. I think I might press much more diligently than I iron;)  I might end up stitching them in place at the sleeve seam as they tend to fall down a bit.

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Both of these also have very slightly curved hems. I’ve found the trick to sewing these is to hem first. I just run a quick line of stitching one presser foot width from the hem (because I’m precise like that)), which gives a nice line to press up the 7mm or so, then turn again and stitch. Because it is narrow it lies flat. Then I stitch the side seams starting at the hem. If I’m a couple of mm out, I can always fudge it at the sleeve end and it means that they definitely match at the hem.

It is nice to have a really basic blank canvas for some interesting fabric, that is also cool, comfortable and cycling friendly. Although unfortunately not with my absolutely favourite denim skirt, which now sadly does not get worn as often.

Now I am investigating cycle friendly dresses. Any suggestions?

Sutton and Flo UPDATED

UPDATED 13/2/15 Because I really shouldn’t have rushed it quite so much and left out a couple of things that I want to include.

Well that turned into a longer break than I expected. I have been doing lots of not very interesting sewing, including lots of alterations, which are most definitely not my favourite thing to do. I’ll come back to some of the not so interesting things in another post since I do want to remind myself of my thoughts on them.

But I finally made something worth a look. This is the True Bias Sutton Blouse teamed with another pair of Style Arc Flat Bottomed Flo.

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And yes that is the best pic I managed to get of the front. This was the second attempt to photograph these and I’m not doing a third so this is what we have.

But back to the clothes. Thanks to Lara’s post, among others, I knew that the Sutton blouse ran large. Which is a good thing since my bust measurement is 3 cm bigger than the largest size. Of course this had to be a bit of a guess since I couldn’t find finished garment measurements anywhere. This is my pet peeve with patterns.

So I effectively went down one size and I added 3 inches since I am taller than the 5’5″ the pattern is drafted for. And I don’t know that either were the right choice.

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I could definitely go smaller. Although I don’t know that I would want to go an entire size smaller in the hips. Which would then mean that I would be going from a 16 out to an 18 at the hips. Which would be weird because generally I go down a hip size compared to my bust.

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And with the 3 inches added to the length, I made a deeper hem, 1 inch turned twice, instead of the recommended 5/8″ (if I remember correctly). Anyway I probably could have made it the length as drafted and it would have been fine.

I followed the instructions during construction except for two points. I used store bought bias binding instead of making my own. This was purely as I now have enough fabric left for another top so I was just being miserly with my fabric. Which I forgot to mention is rayon bought for the princely sum of just over one dollar a metre from a pop-up fabric sale. The yoke is local black cotton which is why the sleeves stand out a little.

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UPDATE I thought I should include a better view if the fabric and my nearly pattern matched centre front seam. I didn’t attempt to pattern match – I don’t know why because it wouldn’t really have been that difficult.

One change I did make was to also use French seams on the side seams. The pattern has French seams everywhere else but then a ‘normal’ seam with the finish of your choice on the side seams. I presume this is because French seams are slightly more complicated with the side slits. But this pattern is listed as Intermediate so I do think they should have included French seams everywhere. It just seemed such a pity to have zigzagged side seams but I would probably feel differently if I had an overlocker.

Anyway, I used this excellent tutorial from Handmade By Carolyn. I thought I remembered that she had done this with French seams but the only one I could find  was for Flat felled seams with slits. But the principle is the same and it works well.

I know I don’t sound overly enthusiastic but I do like this. It’s exceedingly comfortable and looks good with jeans and shorts. There will be more once I ponder the sizing some more. Which brings me nicely to my jeans.

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I made another pair of jeans from the Flat Bottomed Flo pattern. Not that you can see anything of them in these pictures.

This time I used black denim which is a little less stretchy than my first pair. This is a good thing. They fit really firmly when first on but soon relax and fit fabulously. The blue denim pair tend to get a little large after a couple of wears, while these hold up better. Mind you that does mean that I’ll be able to wear the blue denim pair for longer as that bit of room makes them much cooler

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UPDATED A close up of the pockets and yoke topstitching. I used grey cotton thread which isn’t quite topstitching thread but works well. The pockets are smaller than my first pair but now I think they are too busy. And don’t mind the dodgy bartacks, I am going to add rivets to the top corners when I get some the right colour.

I don’t really have much to say about this pattern that I didn’t say the first time. I love it. There will be more. I am going to move the side seam back to well … the side. But only so that every pair of pants I wear don’t have this same design feature. I have more of both the blue and black denim so I’m planning on capri length or shorts depending on how much fabric I have. Then I have some bottomweight black cotton/spandex that will make a slightly dressier pair. I also thought I might use the crotch curve and flat bottom draft from the Flos on the Style Arc Barb pattern for some less fitting shorts. Again more room for air means cooler once the temps top 40 degrees.

Sorry this post is a bit of a ramble but I just need to get this posted.

So please chime in with your thoughts re the sizing on the Sutton blouse.

Flat bottomed Flos

Like many others I was very excited to see Style Arc release this pattern and I am very pleased to say that it has lived up to expectation.

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First I made a pair of shorts in the same blackish denim that I used for my Barb jeans. After wearing these for a while I decided that the only change needed was to take 1.5cm from the centre front down to nothing at the side seams. (Or what would be the side seams if they weren’t moved forward as they are on the Flos.) This is not because the front crotch length is too long (that fit was great from the start) but because I am very short waisted and the waistband was creasing and folding over.

As a a comparison here are the Barbs next to the Flos so that you can see just how much less fabric there is under the bum.

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I then made a full length pair of in navy cotton spandex. And they were a complete FAIL. No photos because I can hardly get them on. Completely my fault due to poor fabric choice. I thought that the navy was the same as the red cotton spandex that I used for my first Barb shorts. But it wasn’t. It was much lighter weight and with considerably less stretch. But I did not let that defeat me.

I bought some lovely very dark indigo stretch denim. It is great fabric. Really soft and black on the wrong side so that you don’t get that light look when the denim is stretched.

IMGP3442_Fotor_Fotor_CollageAnd let me just say that I love these Flo jeans. They are hands down the most comfortable jeans I’ve had in years. i think I may have said that about the Barb jeans but these are even better. My husband was like “Wow, they fit you better in the bum than other pants you’ve ever had”. Actually he said that when I first made the shorts and it was completely unprompted. It seems he is paying more attention than I perhaps give him credit for 🙂

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I used gold topstitching thread on the yoke,waist seam, pockets and side seams.

Some of the topstitching on the pockets is a little dodgy. Largely because I added the pockets to the already sewn up jeans, which is not a good idea. I was so eager to confirm that these would fit that I forgot that I intended to baste the side seams and then undo the side seams and add the pockets. After realising that they fit really well I went straight to finishing the side seams. I won’t make that mistake again.

 

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But really I know that the whole point of the pattern is the back view.

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I’ve had to really overexpose these so that you can see at least some detail. On the next pairs (there will be several more) I will make the pockets smaller.

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UPDATE: I’ve changed the photos to some slightly better ones. Apologies for the all round terrible photos. I’ve got a bit of a cold and wasn’t in the mood to muck around for more than 2 minutes (as you can see from my expressions in the front view). But you will be seeing these again with the new tops I’m making to go with my fab new jeans. And then you’ll be seeing the next versions of these. I have some great black denim up next and I’m planning some capri length and next summer there’ll be more shorts.

So if you’re flat bottomed I can’t recommend this enough.

Is this your fitting issue? Have you tried the Flos yet or do you plan to?

I’ve moved….

Hi all

Well it looks like you found your way here. As you can tell, I have moved from Blogger to WordPress. Those of you following on Bloglovin should be automatically redirected. Those of you who follow on feedly can use the button at
the top to follow. I have also added buttons for other social media. Now hopefully these are all working, but if you run into any problems please let me know.

From now on there won’t be any etsy shop updates on the blog. If you are interested in what’s new, then please follow on facebook, twitter or pinterest.

I’ll be back soon with some sewing – now that I think I have all this sorted.