Tuesday, 30 December 2008

I love being on holiday

First a big shout out to Danuta who very kindly offered to buy BWOF in Melbourne and post it over to me. In the end I did find a copy, but not at either of my usual suppliers, which is a worry.

Here is a cute and casual skirt I whipped up in about two and a half hours total. I realised that my casual wardrobe has been badly neglected and I was finding it difficult to find clothes I could wear outside the house. Cotton a-line skirts are great in the heat (it's forecast to be in the high 30's today and for most of the week). I used the same Mrs Stylebook pattern that I used to make this skirt.
There is not much to say about this skirt - it was super easy and a cute style. I just topstitched the pockets on this time rather that use the invisible method I demonstrated in the previous post. It's a casual skirt so it wasn't necessary.
I received a terrific gift this week. My gorgeous, clever, talented friend Claire is visiting from Melbourne and brought me these buttons. How cute are they? They are from a designer sample sale (sorry Claire, I've forgotten the name already - it is someone I know of). There are 35. Now I have to come up with a project that will use them all!
I have finished another project and have several on the go (oh, how I love holidays!). I'll post as soon as it's not too hot to model them.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

A Plea for Help!

Hi all,

I know I must be the last person in the world that still buys BWOF at the shops, but for various reasons mainly related to a non-standard letterbox and a cranky postie it is not practical for me to subscribe. Anyway, I cannot find the September issue anywhere! By my calculations, it should have been in the shops at the end of November and I have been checking everywhere I know that stocks it since. I asked my newsagent and he said he couldn't remember seeing one for ages either. What I'd like to know from my Australian readers is: Have you seen BWOF 09-2008 at your local newsagent? Or, alternatively do you know of a shipping problem that's holding things up? I am suffering withdrawals, I even have my fella staking out newsagencies just in case a lone copy shows up!

I never realised what an addict I am (hangs head in shame).

Friday, 26 December 2008

The Optimistic Christmas Dress Part 3

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season, whichever variety of holiday you celebrate! My festivities are over for the year and they have been great but exhausting. I experienced a variety of different Christmases over the past couple of days, from a vegetarian feast on Christmas Eve to a barbeque breakfast and traditional roast on Christmas day. Now I just have to start burning all these extra calories off! The weather has been fantastic - not too hot, not too cold, around 30 degrees on Christmas day. Today, Boxing Day, is forecast to be 29 degrees. By comparison, last Boxing Day was 44 (I don't even know what that is in farenheit, maybe around 110-115)! Last year was tough.

I did finish and wear my optimistic dress and I am happy to report no major stuff-ups, although the cap sleeves are a little snug so driving and reaching across the dinner table were a challenge. Here is the finished product:
It was cool on Christmas Eve evening so I wore a cardi over the top:
Some reviewers wondered how this dress would work with a more prominent butt. I just so happen to be 'blessed' with one of those so in the interests of science, here's a side view. Not the most flattering style for my body type, but I really like the girly, fifities vibe.
All in all, a pretty successful exercise, especially given that I only traced off the pattern and pre-washed the fabric on the 20th.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Optimistic Christmas Dress Part 2

Today was my last day at work until 12 January. And not a moment too soon! To be honest I've been having a pretty rough time the last couple of months and some time away to get my (mental and emotional) strength back is just what I need. I feel really fortunate that I have my sewing to look forward to, even just thinking about projects when I'm too tired to actually do anything has really kept me going.

But enough of that. I am pleased to report that the optimistic dress is going very well so far. I made up the lining for fitting and I ended up not needing to do much to it...

The lining is 100% cotton voile and is a little see-through, which is why I am not modelling it. You'll just have to take my word for it that the fit isn't too bad. I took 3cm off the centre back neck edge, tapering to nothing at the bottom edge of the bodice, something I almost always have to do. Where I graded from a 42 to a 44 at the hip ended up looking a little exaggerated and I didn't need the room so I shaved that off the sides. The only other thing I needed to change was that I had added too much length in the vertical part of my FBA. I just took out the excess length in the lining and it worked fine. I made all these changes to the pattern before I cut out my fabric.

I have now sewed the main parts of the fabric together and the zip is in. I just need to sew in the lining and the sleeves and I'm done. I realise now that I haven't shown you the fabric. I don't have a photo but it is a 100% cotton, black with white pin dots. It has a deep embroidered border along both edges, which I've used on the bottom edge of the skirt and on the sleeves - no hems yay! You'll just have to be patient until I show you the finished thing.

I have a couple of appointments early tomorrow, then home for washing, cleaning, sewing (of course!) and cooking before my new dress gets its debut at my Mum's for Christmas Eve dinner. I'll be wearing it again on Christmas day for breakfast at my Dad's then lunch at my fella's family's house. The best part of all? It can go straight into the washing machine and will dry in about 5 seconds flat! The downside of course being that it will need ironing.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Optimistic Christmas Dress Part One, the Pattern

I am calling this the optimistic dress because there are four days till Christmas and I have to work two of them and I am still planning to make a new dress! Last year I was completely broke and made ALL of my Christmas gifts, and I had to wear old clothes on Christmas day. This year I made nothing for others and really, really want something new to wear for myself.
The chosen pattern is BWOF 10-07-105. Luckily I always check Pattern Review before starting a new project and I discovered there are some issues with this dress, specifically in the boobage area. Since I am wearing a D these days, I knew I'd better address this rather than take my usual course of action, namely 'hope for the best'.
First I took my measurements - high bust, full bust, waist, hip, plus the length from my shoulder over the fullest part of the bust to where I wanted the empire seam to sit (I hate it when the seam hits the wrong point and just looks dowdy!). I chose the size(s) to trace from my high bust (38 to the under arm), waist (42) and hip (44) - aargh, these numbers are creeping up and I am not happy! Anyhoo, I traced off the pattern, adding 5cm to the skirt length so it would hit just below my kneecap, and then set about dealing with the bodice pattern.
I decided that I would get rid of the bust dart and convert it to gathers under the bust. When you do an FBA you create extra fullness that you need to get rid of in a dart or similar, and I am not a fan of enormous darts.
The next thing was to measure the side seam of the bodice. At only 9cm, this was not going to be deep enough to hit where I think it should (around the bottom of my bra band) so I added 2cm in length to the whole bodice, front and back. Remember if you do this not to just continue the side seam line down - because it's tapered you'll make the bottom edge shorter which will cause problems later. Measure the bottom edge and make sure it's the same as the original, swing the side seam out a little if you need to.
The first step in an FBA is to find the bust point. When I learned pattern drafting, we were always told to shorten the dart to about an inch away from the bust point, I'm not convinced this always happens in commercial patterns as I see a lot of 'pointy boobs', but that's what should be done. I guesstimated the bust point to be about 2 cm from the end of the bust dart in this particular pattern so I extended the mid line of the dart to this point. Then I joined the shoulder, lower edge and centre front to the same point. I also marked notches 2cm either side of the line from bust point to lower edge. These will be my gathering guides - all the new fullness will end up between these marks and then I'll just gather the area back to 4cm.

I swung the dart closed and allowed the bottom edge to open up. I taped it temporarily as I'll use the dart line again later! Thanks to my fella for providing a finger in need - he is fascinated with how I do this stuff and is always willing to help - bless him.
Next I sliced up to the shoulder and open up the amount needed. My full bust measurement is 4cm bigger than my high bust measurement (which doesn't technically make me a 'D' I know, but it's what I need to wear anyway!). This means I need to add 2cm on each side of the bodice, so I opened up the pattern by 2cm.

Still with me? Okay, good. The next step is to take into account the added length of a full bust (the previous step took care of the width). I measured the pattern from the shoulder, through the bust point to the bottom edge and worked out what I needed to add based on the measurement I took earlier. This was 3.5cm. I opened the dart again and this time opened it up at the bust point instead of the side edge, by 3.5cm.

Oh, I really hope this is helping, I'm starting to feel confused on your behalf! Next I cut through to the centre front and dropped this piece down by the same amount.

Finally, I patched all the gaps and re-drew around the pattern piece. Remember on the bottom edge don't just join the gap with a straight line, you need to measure the cut edges and keep this length consistent in the new section (sorry, that's not really clear but I don't know how to write it). You can see how my bottom edge has a curve in the new section. Try to visualise how that will look in three dimensions and I think you'll see why it needs to be this way.

I would normally re-trace the pattern but I've run out of butter paper so this is my actual pattern piece for the time being. Must remember to get to an art supply shop before Christmas!

I'll cut and sew the lining today as a kind of toille, then if all goes well I'll get cracking on the main dress. Wish me luck!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Project Runway Top

Okay, so I am ashamed of myself with this top. It took way longer than necessary to make! I cut it out on a Friday night, sewed all but the hem on the Saturday. Then it took me a week to do the hem and take photos. THEN I decided to make a minor alteration and it took me another week to get around to that! Anyway, here it is...The pattern is Simplicity 3504, from the Project Runway series. It's a pretty cute little tunic. I picked it because of the options, and in the end I made something that looks pretty much exactly like one of the pictures on the envelope.

I used a very fine cotton voile with a burnout stripe in it. It was cheap, maybe $7 or $8 per metre (that's cheap here!) and I know it won't last past summer but that's okay. There's not much point making summer tops to last here you just sweat all over them anyway and they go all gross, so it's not worth getting attached.

The next photo demonstrates one of the problems of this top - the fabric is so fine that the edges show through. I did french seams on everything except the armholes, so they are quite neat, but the edges of the inset really bugged me:

So I turned in the inset edges and ran a running stitch around by hand to keep them out of the way. I hadn't done this when the photo below was taken, but it is done by the last picture.

The other thing I noticed after this next picture was taken is the drags on the shoulders. I thought originally that it was a full bust issue and there was nothing I could do, but it turned out that all I needed to do was take in the back neck by about an inch on each side. I just took it out of the centre back seam. I make this adjustment pretty often and particularly in Simplicity and Butterick patterns for some strange reason.

Here's a close up with showing through edges and drag lines:

And here is a full length of the complete outfit. Apologies for the 'after work face'.

Is it just me or do I look like a giant pin head? I need a bit of lift in the upper body to compensate for my ample derriere but these sleeves are not really doing me any favours. Ah well never mind. It's comfy and will be great for the hot weather, and it's not too ugly!
Three more days of work until I have two and a half weeks off. Yay for the sewcation! Oh yeah, and Christmas.

Friday, 5 December 2008

New Work Skirt

Here is my new work skirt, part of my 'very small closet' plan. My lovely burmese cat Desmo is not part of the plan but she insisted on being involved in the photo session!The pattern is Mcall M5184, now out of print. The fabric is a light suit weight, bought at Spotlight (no matter how much I hate the place, I still seem to buy a lot of stuff there!). It have a subtle plaid design in grey/fawn/cream. I managed to match the pattern pretty well on the main part of the skirt, OK on the yoke but on the flounce - not so much. Here's the back.
Hmm, I've just realised that photo highlights where I didn't quite match the yoke seamline at the zip - I never seem to get that right no matter how hard I try! I added a lining, and 5cm to the length of the skirt but that's all I had to do. I cut a size larger than usual - principally because I AM a size bigger than usual at the moment. I am optimistically hoping to need to take the skirt in before too long, which should be pretty easy.
I finished the lining with some lace and used bias binding to finish the hem. I suspect I will need to re-do the hem sooner or later because even though the fabric is very light and I hung it for a couple of days before hemming, the flounce is still dropping a bit in the bias sections - probably from the weight of the bias binding I suppose.

So that's it. I am making two tops to go with this as I don't have anything suitable in my current wardrobe. I am making a white pin stripe top and a coral silk satin top. This will mean I can retire a pencil skirt that is a little (OK for real, a lot) snug and two fairly scabby t-shirts I've had for ages!
Now I have to somehow child proof my house this evening. I am babysitting a friend's three year old in the morning! He's a lovely child though and the house does need a good clean! No sewing for me tonight though :( .

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

And the winner is...


Congratulations Joyce. My trusty photographer/chef/competition moderator/fella picked your name at random from the bowl. Please email me your address details and I'll get the package in the post. I hope you enjoy them.

Sorry to Carla and coolobreeze who missed out this time. Please check back as I will do this again when I have more spare magazines.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Still Alive and a Give Away

Hi everyone (she says, optimistically hoping ‘everyone’ hasn’t given up on her!). Boy I’ve really missed sewing and blogging the past few weeks. We have had a big couple of weeks at work, where everyone from our offices all around the world have flown in. We have had our staff conference, days on end of presentations and meetings, all culminating in a big industry event all day today. The preparations have been enormous and my section I have to say has been pretty hard hit, being responsible for providing statistics, performance figures and other information that’s needed to all these presenters – nightmare. That’s not to mention we are two people down in our team and likely to stay that way, thanks to budget cuts (don’t you love a change of government?). Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I was interviewed for my job last week! I am reasonably confident having actually done the job on contract for the past 7 months, and it will be nice to have a permanent job, but it is an extra stressor in my life that I would rather not have! So I apologise but I have just been TOO TIRED to blog (yeah yeah poor me – I do realise there are a lot of people worse off than I am, so don’t think I am a martyr!).

Anyway, I have been doing what I can, when I can – usually half an hour here and there so I have a couple of almost finished projects that I will be able to show you soon. I’ve also been planning again. Summer is coming (although you wouldn’t know it by the mild and rainy weather) and I have nothing office appropriate to wear.

I’ve recently been reading Jennifer Skinner’s blog ‘The Very Small Closet’, and I really like her ideas. You can get the full run down at her website, but essentially it is based around individual outfits, rather than fully interchangeable separates. This idea works for me for a couple of reasons:

  • I wear different styles of tops with different bottoms – for my body shape an empire line works with straight pants, a fitted T works with wide pants or a-line skirts and fuller styles of top work tucked into a pencil skirt.

  • I get bored really easily - I love bright colours but in small doses. I want green and coral and aqua and teal in my wardrobe but not together! In this plan I can have a wide variety of clothes that don’t have to all coordinate – as long as I can make two outfits from each bottom garment.

However, I still love looking at other people’s SWAPs!

So the very small closet principle consists of six bottoms, each with two tops, and up to six layering garments (jackets, cardigans or whatever). I will add to this three work appropriate dresses. This will give me three working weeks of outfits without repeating – that’s good enough for me! I have been through my existing clothes and thrown away everything that’s trashed, given away everything I hate, and packed away everything that I love but is too small (a depressingly large pile!) and I have pulled together enough outfits to start along with a clear list of priorities that need replacing!

It’s working pretty well so far and I kid you not when I say I am getting out of the house at least 15 minutes earlier every morning! I won’t be able to sew on a whim so much, but then I shouldn’t end up with so many orphans either. This plan doesn’t include casual or special occasion clothes, which I also need so I will definitely be busy! It will also keep my storage needs under control as it’s a one in – one out kinda deal. I am just hoping that work settles a bit soon and I am having some time off at Christmas so as always I’m optimistic.

Finally, I have a give away. I’ve noticed a few of these cropping up around the place and I am such a joiner! Australian Stitches is the one sewing magazine that’s easy for me to access. Burda is quite exclusive (I have to go out of my way to get it) and Patrones – no way (I’ve never even seen one in real life)! Each issue I buy comes with extra magazines and since I’ve been reading it for so long I generally already have the bonus issues. Here are two extra copies that I have and I am more than happy to find them a loving home. Simply leave a comment and I’ll draw a name at random on Tuesday night, the 2nd of December my time (which is 9 hours ahead of GMT – you do the math). I’ll cover postage to wherever in the world the winner is from so don’t be shy – I’d love to hear from you.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

I fixed it!

Thanks again for the encouraging comments on my ruffled top. I doubt I would have found the motivation to fix it if it wasn't for people urging me not to give up. I probably would have just thrown it in the bin. Boy am I glad now that I didn't. And the solution was incredibly simple in the end. I was inspired by kbenco's fabulous smocked solution to a bwof dress and here is the result:

Here's a close up:

And the back:

I might actually wear it now!

Since I've never smocked before I kept it simple. I ruled four lines in the appropriate place 1cm apart and used the stripes as a guide for gathering. Then I worked two rows of honeycomb stitch, following the instructions in my trusty Reader's Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing (aka my bible). I made a long tie belt, anchored it to the back of the pleats (on the inside) with a few hand stitches then passed the belt to the outside through buttonholes on either side of the smocked panel that are concealed by the ruffle. Here's a blurry close up of the smocking:

I didn't finish my Melbourne Cup dress yet, but it was so wintery last week I wouldn't have been able to wear it anyway. But here is my finished hat - sorry for the mug shot! Sadly I didn't win the competition - the popular vote went to the novelty hats - but I had fun anyway.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Melbourne Cup Hat

The Melbourne Cup is a huge deal in Australia. Of course it's biggest in Victoria, where they get a public holiday, but even all the way over here in Perth we get pretty excited. I'm not a big gambler, five years working as a croupier in a casino cured me of any urges of that nature I might have had, but even I will lay down a couple of dollars on cup day - just to be involved.

My work social club is putting on a lunch and there will be a hat competition. I thought I'd make one just for something different.

Here's what I started with - a mini pill-box hat made from sinamay, a bunch of feathers that came from a kit to make a hair clip, and some braid. I think I spent up to $25 tops. Everything came from Spotlight - that place can deliver sometimes even though the experience of going there is almost always a nightmare.

I started by sewing 5 ostrich plumes in a fan shape to the edge of the hat with the curve going over the base. Make sure you give each feather a good tug to make sure it's attached. If your sewing isn't secure the feathers will slide right out.

Here it is from the front. Apologies for the photos, it took me a while to twig that the hat is the same colour as my wall (is it weird that in the nearly four years I've lived here, the only room I've got around to renovating is my sewing room?)

And from the 'hat' side.
Next I sewed turkey feathers pointing downwards, I allowed them to twist a bit as I did it.

Then I added some stripped feathers to the ostrich feathers to give it more dimension.
Finally I added a sinamay flower to hide all my workings.

It's Cup day on Tuesday and while I would have loved to make a new dress, I am taking things really slow at the moment. Wish me luck in the competition! I have no idea what the prize is, I just like being part of it!

Oh yes, and a little bit of good news came today. I have an interview for my job - it's in two weeks. I think my mojo is coming back so I should be okay to make at least a garment, if not a whole outfit.

The Date Dress Disaster

Ok. So just when I thought I was back up and running, my sheer exhaustion comes back to haunt me again. On Thursday night I cut out my date dress, the dress I was hoping to wear for mine and my fella's two-year anniversary on Monday.

The pattern is one I've made before Simplicity 3678, the Threads collection knit dress. I'm not sure what the deal is with the threads dresses. I've made two of their coats and one of their skirts and they seemed true to size, but the two dresses I've made have been ginormous! I would normally cut a 12 with an FBA (sometimes) at the top and a 14 in the waist and hips, but in the threads dresses I can cut a straight 10! I found this particular style was big in the back too (my back is a little narrow). Here is my previous effort.

To prepare my pattern I took 3cm out of the centre back of the bodice and midriff piece. On the front skirt I took the 3cm out at the top, tapering it to nothing at the hemline and I made a 2.5cm sway back alteration. Hang on, what was that you say - the front skirt? Yes, I made all my back alterations to the front skirt! But I only noticed after I'd spent half an hour setting up my bloody overlocker this morning. Unfortunately I couldn't salvage the pieces and now I am one date dress short, but it's okay I'm sure I'll find something to wear and, after all, it's the company not the clothes that count most.

I can look back with humour now and I consider it a lesson learned about being aware of my own limits but at the time, let's just say I didn't have quite such an 'adult' perspective on it. I suppose it's one quick way of reducing my stash!

The Meatball Cardigan

Hi everyone,

Please excuse my absence. Work has been completely mental lately. We’re horrendously busy getting some big projects off the ground, plus we are short-handed by two people, who are not likely to be replaced in the near future. On top of that I am in the midst of having to apply for my own job, which is a peculiarity of working in the public service – at least in Australia, I don’t know about other places. It is starting to get on top of me and I’m feeling very stressed but never fear I am busy in my creative life too – it’s the only thing that keeps me sane!

Thank you for all the helpful suggestions on my ruffled top. Don’t worry I am not going to abandon it. You can probably tell from the post that I was feeling a little discouraged at the time. I have tried back darts but they didn’t work on their own, I think it will be a combination of back (and possibly front) darts and side seam shaping. I have the seed of an idea on a tie belt and it may also require some narrowing in the centre back (even though it’s my normal size it just seems too big). I promise I will work on it and will post the result, I just need to have a clear mind to do it.

I haven’t been doing any sewing, not only due to lack of time but I’ve been pushing myself to get a knitting project finished. And guess what? I’m not happy! My fella said I look like a meatball pizza. I wouldn’t go that far, but it doesn’t really suit my personal style. I became concerned about the bobbles while knitting it, but pressed on regardless. In hindsight I could have easily just done the lace pattern without the bobbles, but live and learn as they say! It actually fits really well and is comfy, so it will be perfect to throw on at work when the air conditioning gets a bit chilly. Maybe the bobbles will grow on me and I won’t feel quite so much like a clown in it.
The pattern is a Debbie Bliss pattern that was published free on the web, but I don't think it's available anymore. If anyone wants a copy, I'll be happy to send it if you just drop me an email. I did a search for the pattern and came up with this link which shows the cardigan made up without bobbles, it looks really nice.
The cardigan is knit in one piece. You do one front and sleeve, then the other front and sleeve, join them together, knit the rest of the sleeves and down the back then knit on the bands. Finally you sew the underarm seams and that's it. Aside from having to knit with a lot of stitches, it's really very easy.
Here it is before sewing up.
The mitred corner on the front - I could not find a satisfactory way to work the increases here so it looks a bit rough.
Here's the 'meatball' pattern up close.
My posting this project has been delayed a couple of days due to the photos of me wearing it. I looked so tired and cross that when I saw them I seriously considered getting botox! I guess, the whole work thing is wearing me down a bit so I'll make more of an effort to relax so I don't start to frighten people! Anyway, here are some new photos, taken today (Saturday) so I don't look so tired and cross.
I have set a huge goal for myself this weekend to make a date dress (cut out already) a work dress for Melbourne Cup day and a hat for a Melbourne Cup lunch. I have all the materials and as long as I can convince the fella to have a boys night on at least Friday or Saturday I think I’ll be okay. After that I will need a job interview outfit – I know everyone at work already knows what I look like but any excuse right?

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Ruffled Top is Done

So here is the finished top. Cute right?

Well yes, it looks cute FROM THE FRONT. But check out the side and back views:

and tree trunk:Just a bit shapeless for me I'm afraid. I've tried tucking it in and that doesn't really work either so I guess this will have to be put aside for those 'too hot to care' days.

The pattern is V2946, a pattern I have lusted over for ages (my Mum thinks I'm mad and maybe I should listen to her more often). After seeing this review over at Sew Tessuti I decided to buy the pattern and shamelessly rip this top off. I guess you need to be 20 years younger and about 20 kilos lighter to pull off this look! Still I really like the front view and am pleased with myself for all the time I put into french seaming and rolled hemming.

For my next project I have cut out the bow tie version in this pattern from silk yoryu. I will be very put out if this one doesn't work either.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Edging Ruffles

I've been making some ruffles lately and it occurred to me to document some of the edging methods that can be used. The circular edge can be tricky to handle and it very much depends on your fabric as to what technique you would choose. As well as this, the different edgings give different effects, so consider the type of garment you are making - casual or dressy, something you will wear regularly and throw in the washing machine or wear occasionally and dry clean with care.
I have made these samples in contrasting thread so you can see the work clearly, but you should usually choose a matching thread (or blending for a print) as it will help disguise any 'quirks'.
The first sample is the 'stitch and pink' method. This is a pretty casual look that won't take too much hard wear. It's perfect for the 'deconstructed' look and it's also the easiest way to finish an edge. You simply run a straight stitch around the edge and then use pinking shears to trim the raw edge evenly.

The next edging is a method that I learned while I was studying costume. I worked on a set of ballet tutus with organza overskirts. This edging was pretty hard wearing and the stitching disappeared into the net layers underneath, which was great as we didn't want there to be a heavy stripe where the overskirt ended. You simply straight stitch around as before, trim the edge to about 3mm and then zig zag over your straight stitching. Make sure on the zig zag round that the needle falls off the outside edge to really finish it well.

Here's one of the finished tutus.

Next is the rolled hem made on an overlocker (serger). For years this was the only method I used. If your overlocker is set up just right, this can be a really easy and attractive finish on many fabric types. If you pull the edges as you're sewing then you will end up with a really wavy edge, I think they call it a lettuce edge (?).

This next method is my current favourite. I used to try and try to use a rolled hem foot and it drove me mental. So I gave up and used my overlocker for everything. When I started working in bridal I was horrified to learn that almost every dress was finished with a rolled hem - so I needed to learn quick! Running around a full hem on a bias cut skirt in silk charmeuse (on one of those fast, jumpy industrial machines)really cures your fear of this method, although I can't recommend it as a learning technique! But it really is worth mastering.

Below is a hem using a rolled hem foot and a straight stitch. I find it a very polished finish and it doesn't have that home-made feel that an overlocked rolled hem can (sometimes) have. It takes practice though, so be kind to yourself and start on crisp lightweight cottons and straight-ish edges and you'll get it in no time. The trickiest bit is starting and there are lots of tips around about how to get started. To be honest I just sort of push the fabric in and then use a pin to pull it through enough to plant the needle. I sit myself to the left of the machine as I find it easier to feed curved fabric into the roller that way, but really it comes down to practice.

My final sample also uses a rolled hem foot but this time I used zig zag. This is a more casual finish and on the right fabric can create a pretty scalloped effect (you could probably use your blind hem stitch for a similar effect). This method is slightly easier than using the straight stitch too as it's a litle more forgiving if you go off course - your edges are a bit more firmly anchored.

One thing that is always a bit of a fiddle is getting a nice corner. I thread a needle with two strands of thread and pull it through the corner so I have four 'tails'. I use this as a handle to start me off. This stops you getting really stuck on the lump at the corner.

I hope these few techniques are useful to you. I'm not really a 'ruffly' girl but it's always handy to know a few different techniques so you have a choice. I never use the methods in the pattern instructions, seriously I just don't think they work.

Next time I'll show you the top these ruffles are attached to.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Built By Me

I would like to start by saying a sincere thank you to everyone who left comments on my winter coat, both here and over at Pattern Review. It really brightens my day to hear such lovely compliments from people I have never met but who I consider my peers. And yes, I have been fortunate enough to wear it a few times over the past couple of weeks. I don’t mind putting it away until next year now.

I took a few days off after I finished the coat to decide what to do next, cut out three tops and then promptly fell ill with a cold. I feel a lot better now but sound awful (I got sent home from work today for sounding ‘like a chainsaw’), curse the hacking cough that stays with you for ages (mind you, my sister has had fluid on her lungs for weeks so I got off lightly!). My fella has been sick too but fortunately the WII keeps him out from under my feet and I have got little bit of sewing done here and there.

The first of the three tops is Simplicity 3964, a ‘Built by you’ pattern. Even though I am a bit long in the tooth now for junior patterns, I just can’t resist them. I think this is a fairly grown up version though, so I am happy.

Here's the front:

A close up of the front yoke:

And the back:

First the likes.

1. It was cheap. About $3.00 worth of lace, left over lining and polycotton poplin I bought for something else.

2. It will be comfortable. I don’t really go for sleeveless at work, but our summers here are so hot I can’t bear anything under my arms. I love these ‘sleeve on the top, sleeveless underneath’ styles.

3. It’s cute. I like how the colour combination turned out and I think it looks quite fashionable.

4. It’s loose but not too preggy looking – hide my belly but without making people feel the need to stand up for me on the bus, or ask if I am pregnant – both of which have actually happened (the shame!).

Now the dislikes:
1. It’s a little small. I’d already cut the pattern in a 10 some time ago, a 12 would have been better. I’m not sure if you can tell and I’m not encouraging you to perve but the girls are pretty well crammed in!

2. The sleeve are cute but part of me thinks they look a little odd – a bit ‘Lost in Space’ costumey. Or maybe ‘The Jetsons’. I’m a space nerd anyway so I don’t really care too much.

That’s all. Read my review for more technical stuff if you like. I promise I’ll try to get my next projects up a bit quicker.