Thursday 29 September 2016

VACC part 1a: a birthday present

So despite the fact that I have made AT LEAST four garments for other people (so generous), I have so far not featured any other models on this blog. Mostly that's because I get all excited about giving things to people and then forget I have to take pictures. After I gave my grandmother her jacket (long story, but I did eventually manage to remake it in time for her birthday), I caught myself thinking "it's okay, I can just take the photos when I get home" because I apparently think I still have access to things after I give them as presents to people who live in other cities. Anyway, I was determined not to do that this time, and so this post will contain actual photos of another person. Organised Jen!

I offered to make my mother two garments as a birthday present this year. Well, I offered to make one, but then she picked out two bolts of fabric and I didn't have the heart to make her pick between them. I don't begrudge extra sewing for my mum; she does far more than she should for me and also is one of my best friends in a sharing-far-more-than-we-should way. She picked material for a jacket and a skirt, and I decided to start with the jacket. I still had some reservations about the skirt pattern I was planning to use, so starting with the other one to give me more time to think seemed like the safer option.

And here it is:

The pattern is Simplicity 1467, which seemed to fit most of her requirements. Light, no closures, enough detail to make it interesting without crossing over into weird. It has princess seams, a lightly gathered peplum, and optional shoulder pads that I quickly opted against, because Mum doesn't need any extra structure there. The fabric is an embroidered cotton that we got from Fabric Land.

The jacket is unlined, and I didn't want ugly-looking seams showing on the inside, so I flat felled them. I've never flat felled a seam before this jacket and I really like it as a finish, though I wanted them to be the other way round (flatter part on the outside) and I thought that's what the tutorial I was following was directing me to do, but apparently not. I tried asking some questions online and I am none the wiser about this, so I will need to do a bit of experimenting before I try this again.

Hey, look, an insides shot! Other people seem to do this a lot, so I'm going to try doing it occasionally too because I am a giant copy cat who doesn't really know what she's doing.

Also, this was the first garment I took the iron to after moving. The iron I've been using for the past year was my former landlord's, and it was the WORST. It couldn't press worth a damn but would imprint the pattern on the bottom of the ironing board permanently onto the fabric, the steam function only worked once in every twelve times, and filling the water tank would result in one giant gush of steam and several days of leaking on everything before going back to being way too dry. I never ironed stuff before I started sewing, so this was basically my only experience of irons. Using Patrick's iron, which is just a bog standard one he bought because it was purple, is quite a different experience and I managed to actually press the jacket seams. I could not get the collar to do what I wanted it to do, though, and it's my one regret about this jacket. I did interface it, but I feel like it needs something else and I'm not sure what. Mum doesn't seem to mind, though.

She was really happy with it. It's versatile, casual but still pulled together, and it fits her well (hooray for guesswork grading!). Mostly I think she's happy that she can now stop going jacket shopping and hating everything she tries on. Jackets are really hard to find. Everything that isn't super casual is a blazer, and I'm sure I don't see blazers on enough people for them to be the only jacket available. Maybe clothes shops and I just don't understand each other. 

More insides! Flat felled seams and invisible hem. Yes, the invisible hem is a bit wonky on the inside, but it's on the inside so nobody's going to see it unless I put a photo of it up on a blog for some reason. 

Overall, a success. Hopefully birthday present Round Two will be equally successful. I did the fitting this week, so it should be ready soon. Timing wise I'm not sure if I can get photos of her wearing it, but we shall see. Yay unselfish sewing!

Monday 26 September 2016

Stashbusting: 1920s top

Since I had a ton of fabric left over from making my bodice blocks, I thought I'd dip back into that well again.

This is the 1920s tie top from Sew Over It Vintage. I keep looking for ways introduce 20s stuff to my wardrobe despite the fact that it doesn't suit my body at all, so obviously this was the first thing in the book that I was drawn to. 

I did make a few alterations. The instructions tell you to eliminate the underarm curve entirely for a looser fit, which I didn't do (though I did make it slightly looser than my original block). I also put in a couple of small pleats at the waistline instead of gathering it.

The instructions for making the pattern tell you to cut two pairs of the hem band, so I did, but reading on further reveals that you only actually need one pair. It also reveals that the hem band isn't actually meant to be a hem band, just another panel, and you do a turn-and-stitch hem on it at the end. Since I already had the extra pieces I decided not to do that and just made a hem band. If I can alter a pattern so as not to need to finish an exposed seam, I will do. However, I did end up turning and hand stitching the neckline instead of adding a band because this material did NOT want to be a neck band. It refused to do most of the things I wanted it to do and I began to understand why it was only £1 per metre.

I really like the concept of this top, but I'm not sure it'll get much wear. That may be because I haven't got the fit the way I like it, or just because it won't go with a whole lot. I'm still determined to make the 1920s work for me somehow, and there will be more of this coming very soon. I shall find a way to make myself into a somewhat chubbier version of Miss Fisher. I shall.

This is what we call "determined face".

Thursday 22 September 2016

a Lupin suit

The final part of my initial Deer and Doe haul! I have loved everything and will be making more of all of it (I made the mistake of going back to their website and seeing a new picture of the shorts in an amazing tan suedette and I'm afraid I may have to copy those in the autumn as well). But for now, my final new pattern, and the only one to actual fill a necessary gap in my wardrobe:

This is the Lupin jacket, and I adore it. It's one of my new favourite things.

I went about making this in rather an ill-advised way. As in, I cut it out the week before I had to move out and started sewing it up the night before I moved out. Despite the fact that my outerwear-making experience is minimal, I had never sewn welt pockets before in my life, and I still had quite a lot of packing to do. I was an enormous stressbucket while making this jacket.

Here, have an extremely attractive face-full-of-hair shot. It wasn't even windy out but EVERY attempt at this photo looks like this. Confusing breezes! 

The fabric is a dark green crepe I bought months ago, intending to make a pair of high-waisted 1940s trousers. I kept putting off buying the pattern because I have a lot of patterns and I knew it would be a fairly intensive project, and about a month before the move I acknowledged that I didn't have the time, the inclination, or the resources to buy a vintage pattern, make a toile, make adjustments, probably make another toile, and make the final pair of trousers. I considered using the fabric for a 1940s wrap dress but decided this colour wouldn't be great on me as a solid dress, and hit on the idea of making the jacket a few days before I cut it out. I knew it would work but was also a bit annoyed that I'd thought of it, because jacket making is a lot more intense than just bashing out eighteen more tulip skirts.

You may have spotted, however, that I did have enough left over to make a tulip skirt. I had absolutely no intention of wearing them together when I made the skirt and only really put them both on for a laugh, but looking at it now I think there is a worrying chance that I actually might go out like this. I made the skirt knee-length originally thinking it would be a good work skirt, but when I tried it on before hemming I realised I wouldn't wear it. It's slightly the wrong colour green to look good with many other colours, and I suspected that wearing a knee-length skirt in this colour with a black top would just feel drab and a bit frumpy. That's why I cut it shorter; the reason it's quite this short is that I asked my boyfriend for advice on the length. I don't know how wise that is as a strategy.

My welt pocket making didn't go quite as it should. The instructions assumed you basically knew the mechanics of a welt pocket and were just reminding you of the steps, but I did not know the mechanics of a welt pocket and was too stressed to remember to look up an in-depth tutorial. I will be doing so at the nearest opportunity and practising before I make anything else which requires them, but these look basically OK. They don't look like double welt pockets, but they look like pockets.

I used the remaining fabric from my Patrick dress for the lining. It's Liberty tana lawn so it feels lovely. I also had just about enough left over to make pockets for the tulip skirt, making this the hardest-working piece of fabric in recent memory. I like the surprise pretty lining and I like that if I wear this jacket with that dress it secretly matches. At some point I want to get some bright silk and make a top and a jacket/cape lining with it because I saw Phryne Fisher do that once and I thought it was amazing. (Inspiration post forthcoming.)

[Marge Simpson voice] Your lifelong dream was to be a 1980s catalogue model, and you did it in September this year, remember? 

In terms of differing from the instructions, I didn't do all the recommended topstitching because I didn't have any appropriately-coloured thread, and I stitched down the cuffs by hand (I couldn't get them to fit under my presser foot). I also haven't sewn buttons on the tabs. I was planning to, but I'm weird about buttons and hate 99.9% of them. I had a vision of basically the only buttons I would accept and I couldn't find them. If I do happen upon them at some point, I will go back and put them on this jacket because I think a little bit of silver at the shoulders would be nice.

In conclusion, YES. This pattern is exactly what I was looking for. It's not going to become tulip skirt common around here or anything, but as a default light jacket pattern it's perfect. I have plans for one more in a light neutral, probably pale grey or blush, and I'm debating whether my wardrobe would be better for the inclusion of a jacket that's bright turquoise or bright red or bright fuchsia. I suspect that it might be.


Monday 19 September 2016


We're on a Madonna kick today!

I got into a bit of a sewing funk after we moved. I hadn't been able to use my machine for three weeks at Patrick's, and it was another week again before the desk for my sewing corner arrived (it was a flatpack desk and I put it together ALL BY MYSELF, thank you very much). After a month of no sewing, I found it hard to get back into the groove. I just about managed to put together a skirt I'd already cut out, but I'd also given myself a project queue full of new skills, complicated fitting, and things for other people that would require a bit more care than I usually put into my own stuff, and it all felt a bit overwhelming.

Patrick was a bit concerned about my lack of sewjo, particularly as I was going to have to stay in the house all day waiting for the Virgin Media guy (gaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh), and so he offered to buy me some fabric and a pattern to get me going again and give me something to do. We went to Ray Stitch and decided on the Papercut Patterns Bowline sweater, which I've been considering for ages. It intersects my need for more tops, more basics, and more interesting stuff. Also I was convinced I'd lost my favourite black jumper in the move and I realised just how many clothes I have that I cannot wear without that jumper. In the interests of not having a broken wardrobe, I need to be less reliant on it. (The jumper has since reappeared - it turned up in a bag of Patrick's old Goth clothes - so at some point soon I'm going to try making a pattern from it.)

This was a fun thing to sew up. I've not made a top with raglan sleeves before so I don't know what the normal construction process is like, but it was interesting to get halfway through and find yourself with a line of sweater with neck binding on three out of four pieces.

I am also super impressed with my stripe matching. I always get slightly grumpy about having to cut on a single layer (mostly because I always forget I have to flip the pattern piece over the second time), but it really does make the pattern matching easier. I'm not that bothered about pattern matching generally, but mismatched stripes REALLY bug me and I wanted to make sure I had it right, particularly at the front raglan sleeve seams. I couldn't get one of the back seams to line up because I did all my stripe matching before I read the part of the instructions telling you to cut half an inch off the top of one sleeve, but it's at the back so I care less.

The way I've finished the pleat is almost certainly not the way it's meant to be finished, but I was confused. I don't know if I missed something during the whole burrito roll bit, but what I ended up with definitely wasn't right. So I just unpicked a seam and sewed the end of the pleat into it. I'll definitely have another go at this and see if I can work it out, but if I can't, it doesn't really matter. The effect is much the same.

There is one other thing I'll say about making this top. I was between two sizes and decided to size up, since the whole point of it was to have something that wasn't a completely form-fitting cropped sweater, but when I tried it on before attaching the hem band, it was HUGE. Not huge in a stylish oversized sweater way either; it looked really sloppy and like something I'd put on when I was depressed. I took it in at the sides a bit, which didn't make a whole lot of difference, and then I spent half an hour pinning, trying on, stabbing myself in the side with said pins, taking off and repinning. This is what I eventually ended up with:

On the far left (next to my thumb), the original stitching line. In the middle, my first attempt at taking it in. On the right, the pins that represent the line I eventually sewed to get the top to fit. Overall I took the whole thing in by more than five inches at the sides, and it's not exactly a tight fit. I'm not really sure what happened here; I've read a bunch of reviews and nobody else mentioned the pattern coming up large, so I don't know if there was a mistake, if I stretched my fabric hugely, or if this is just the normal wearing ease and it happens to look really odd on me. Either way, I'll be seriously downsizing next time.

So, this top had three jobs:

Get my sewjo back - yes. I made most of it on the Monday morning and was inspired enough to have a sewing day on the Tuesday where I finished this and three other garments in my WIP pile, made another project start to finish and started two more.

Keep me entertained while waiting for the internet to turn up - it's hard to judge this. I was quite happy making it, but then I got a message saying my router had been delivered when it hadn't and I had to spend all afternoon arguing with Virgin and with the courier, worked myself into a total state and stress-ate Doritos until 6pm, when a complete stranger showed up with my router which had been delivered to his office about fifteen minutes away from here. So the day was basically a Faith in Humanity Rollercoaster, but that really can't be attributed to the pattern in any way. There is a chance that some day soon I will stop complaining about this through every platform available to me.

Be a top I'd like to wear: I would like to wear this top. I think the pleat detail is great and I am unexpectedly a huge fan of the super-wide cuffs. The one thing I'm not sure about is whether the shape of the sweater will work with anything else I have. The looser shape combined with the grey and black stripes probably isn't going to be very versatile. I think I'd like to try it in a lighter colour and/or a sweater knit. I've been a bit obsessed with sweater knit lately. I am slightly concerned that when autumn hits properly I am going to purchase eight hundred yards of sweater knit and make some kind of tiny fabric house out of it. Yes, fabric house. What?

I leave you with a very short photo series I like to call "Very Pleased About Seeing A Plane":

Thursday 15 September 2016

PAPMAP part four: Tania


Technically this isn't a legitimate PAPMAP post because I made these on Tuesday. I had every intention of rushing through making them as soon as we moved in so they were done in August, but then my printer refused to work without internet even when it was attached to my laptop with a cable so I couldn't print the pattern. Sigh. But these woes are behind us, and I now present to you my amazing palm tree garden:

Look at it. Look at that. That is our actual garden. I may have been living out of boxes for three weeks and without the internet for another two and a half, but we are pretty damn lucky, all things considered.

Anyway. Sewing. Tania culottes! These were a really quick make, probably not more than a couple of hours overall. The zip and waistband construction were exactly the same as my beloved tulip skirt pattern, so I can basically do that in my sleep at this point. Other than that it was a couple of pleats, a couple of crotch and side seams, and then eight miles of hemming. Just one of the reasons I haven't made a circle skirt in nearly a year and have no plans to do so again. Ugh, hemming.

I like being able to swish around and still be protected from chub rub (though of course I would like it more if there were pockets. Everything is better with pockets). It's way more floofy than I generally go, but I wanted to make these for the specific purpose of being comfortable, practical and non-restrictive on really hot days. Since they fit that bill, I will deal with the floof. Swishing away my reservations. 

Frond fondling. 

My major concern was "I don't know what on earth I can wear with these." I'm having a bit of wardrobe dissatisfaction at the moment, which I'll go into in another post, and I'm lacking in tops especially. With something really full like this, I don't want any extra material around my waist, but I don't feel especially comfortable in vest tops right now.

This is a toile for an Anna T-shirt that I whipped up at 11pm on Tuesday from a remnant I'd decided I could justify bringing with me. It suddenly struck me as a great idea - I love the way the shape looks in jersey and if I could have a few T-shirts in that shape to wear with high-waisted stuff, it would be a pretty cost-effective way of making my existing clothes a bit more useful to me.

I would want to add a bit of length for the actual T-shirts, but in an interesting development I reshot these pictures with an actual T-shirt and didn't like any of the photos enough to use them, so I might need to do a bit of experimenting.

It is entirely possible that yesterday was the last nice day of the year, so these might not get a huge amount more wear. However, we have finally booked our ridiculous trip-of-a-lifetime holiday, so in November they will definitely be in my suitcase and coming to the insane mountainside resort in St Lucia. I am VERY excited.

In conclusion: yay everything! Especially palm trees. 

Thursday 1 September 2016

Vintage Autumn Clothing Collection (VACC)

So! It is September, and I am in my completely beautiful new flat, which I love in every way except for the bit where it doesn't have any internet. The internet people of course cannot send us internet paraphernalia for another two weeks, so I am getting what little access I can by tethering Patrick's phone to my laptop for short periods. I'm going to continue with posting once a week until we have working internet, whereupon I shall bombard you with ALL THE THINGS. For now, have my list of slightly complicated autumn projects, and the customary Simpsons gif.

1. A pair of trousers

We are coming into autumn, which means that if I want to keep wearing me-made stuff as often as I have been, I need to get a grip on this whole trouser thing. I'm aiming for a pair of really well-fitting trousers, but I'll settle for a pair of wearable trousers and a good understanding of what alterations I need to make. I'm going to use the Sewaholic Thurlow pattern, which seems to be tailored exactly to my particular needs, and some grey suiting fabric which I bought mostly because the label said "Cods Wallop".

2. A 1940s wrap dress

I'm dying to have one of these I can actually wear after dreaming about this pattern for so long. I haven't picked my fabric yet but I want to keep it quite simple - either a deep solid colour, a monochrome pattern or possibly just plain black.

3. A birthday present for my mum

Since money is a bit of a thing at the moment, I told my mum we'd go fabric shopping and I'd make whatever she'd like from what we bought. She picked two things, because why not take advantage if you can, right? I'm making her a slightly elongated Colette Selene skirt, and a Simplicity 1467 jacket. I'm not completely sure about the timeline for these, but given that she's already had her birthday I'd like to get at least one of them made in September.

4. A 1920s coat and cape

This is kind of a cheat because I've already started, but I'd like some motivation to get it finished. The patterns is McCall's Archive Collection 7259, which consists of a coat part and a cape part. I started the coat part back in June and I've just acquired some more of the fabric for the cape. It is bright purple and I am going to look gloriously ridiculous.

Next up: some actual new garment photos in front of my massive goddamn palm tree. Seriously.