Thursday, 29 May 2008

BWOF 01-08-109 Pencil skirt

Now, I am a hippy girl. And by that I don’t mean peace love and mung beans – I’m far too uptight for that! I do mean that I have child bearing hips, a low-slung behind and jodhpur thighs. Not to be self critical, it’s not that bad, but it is a reality.

Current thinking (for example Trinny and Susannah) would probably slap me about the head if I even thought about wearing a pencil skirt, but this was not always the case. If you go back to the early 90’s, most people believed that tapered skirts were slimming on bottom heavy figures. Even a recent BWOF (sorry can’t remember which one off hand) stated that ‘pencil skirts look better on those with a bit more figure’. Ha, I love that ‘a bit more figure’. It reminds me of a newspaper article from the Edwardian period that I read about fashion which made suggestions for ladies with ‘an abundance of figure’ how polite.

But I digress. All this got me thinking that I might try a pencil skirt. A style that I haven’t worn since I was about 17 years old and a size 8-10 (that’s Australian sizes, I think it’s a 2-4 in the US) ie a long time ago. If my experiment works it might just get me out of the rut I’ve been in with clothes. This pattern really got my imagination going, even though I worried that the panel lines angling the way they do might make me look ENORMOUS, but it seemed to be such a nice construction challenge that I’d just go for it and see what happened.

This is the result:

Please ignore the strange hip lump on the back photo - it's one of the dials on my dummy. I am hoping to convince my fella to take a pic of me wearing the skirt but it could be a little while before it happens!

I’m pretty happy with this overall. The only alteration I made to the pattern was to lengthen it by 7cm. As usual there were a couple of issues, but seriously tiny ones that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of making the skirt at all.

1. According to my measurements I am a 42 in burda sizes. In fact one of the key selling points of this pattern for me is that I was a consistent size from waist to hips – not usually the case at all! In practice I had to take a truckload off the side seams. Like 2cm off each side, front and back from the waist down to mid thigh. Luckily this was really easy to do and I’d rather take in than have to let out. Next time I think I’ll cut a 40.

2. The pockets don’t lie flat at all and I get a slightly strange belly look. I followed the (quirky) directions which weren’t hard at all but I think next time I’d ignore the part where you sew the top of the pocket from the top to the top marking(!) essentially joining the pocket and facing to the side front panel of the skirt but down the pocket opening edge for a little bit. I’d rather have the opportunity to correct the lie of the pocket in fittings a bit further down the construction path. I can live with this though – especially now I’ve joined a gym and will very soon have abs of steel (lol).

3. The 12 cm zip is a touch too short for the opening. I managed to get away with it, but next time I would buy a 15cm zip and shorten it.

4. This is just a note on construction. I didn't follow the instructions for hemming the back vents. Threads #137 FINALLY got to Australia (we have to wait so long and pay so much but it's worth it! I am still waiting for the March BWOF to show up in the shops :( but I digress again). I followed the Threads instructions to mitre the corners. I was super easy and looks great, vent hems can often look bulky and amateurish, but the mitre give a really professional finish.

Actually that’s all I can think of. Everything else was really smooth and I love the way the skirt looks. I’ve never bothered much with BWOF patterns as I am essentially lazy and I always figured I may as well draft my own patterns rather than trace off, then add seam allowance. I am now converted, it hardly took any time and the result is way more stylish than most of the skirts the big 4 put out. I have a pair of BWOF pants cut out too, so they are next up. I cut these in a 42 as well, but I think it will be okay.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The Black Birthday Jacket

Even though I was sick for my birthday party, at least I finished my jacket (although I think I already mentioned that I finished it about 10 minutes AFTER I was supposed to leave home and half the buttons are tied on - for now!).

The pattern I used was McCalls 5525, view B with the belt from the other views. The fabric is a black paisley-ish flock fabric with a little stretch. This was not the ideal fabric because of the stretch and it is quite lightweight but I just loved it so I went ahead and I am pretty happy with the result. The jacket is lined in a beige/brown/cream floral satin.

I had no major construction issues with the pattern only two small niggles.

As usual, the pattern instructions only included interfacing one layer of the collar - this is almost never enough. I used two layers of fairly lightweight interfacing - one sew in and one fused (long story!) and I still would prefer the collar to have a bit more body. This is my fault as I didn't have any heavier interfacing on hand - but I still think most collars look better with both sides interfaced.

My second niggle is that the sleeve flounce/frill thing isn't lined. What the! I'm not really sure why you would go to the trouble of fully lining a jacket and then miss the one part that is almost certain to show. Anyhow, I added a lining to the sleeve flounce/frill thing.

Small note: See how the back vent doesn't hang closed - I hate that, but I neglected to cut the back 'off grain' to compensate. Note to self: MUST ALWAYS DO THIS!
The belt and covered buttons I had made.
The (not quite stiff enough) collar
The sleeve with band.

I am planning to send this jacket to the dry cleaner for a proper press as I was just not able to get a really good finish without rubbing off the flock (although there is a risk the dry cleaner will do this too). Overall, it's a cute jacket and I'll probably get a fair bit of use from it.
Up next a couple of patterns from BWOF

Friday, 23 May 2008

Another week goes by...

Well, not much time for sewing this week! And it’s starting to show. Does anyone else find they get cranky and tense when they can’t sew? I think that when we get really busy, it’s more important than ever to make the time to do something for yourself; and for me that’s sewing.

My new job is going well, it’s taking a lot out of me but I am settling in okay. On top of that my fella has been pretty sick for the past few weeks. We’re not sure what’s wrong but he’s had a bunch of tests now and I hope we’ll have the solution soon. My birthday was on Tuesday and it was a bit of a non-event, I had a tough day at work and fella wasn’t well so the day just went by like any other. Then to cap it all off, I have fallen quite ill with a cold. My birthday party was last night and I was dosed to the eyeballs just to get out of the house. I had a great time but am very unwell today.

One thing I did manage to do was add to my stash without breaking my pact! My dad gives me cash for my birthday every year and this year was no different. I went down to the shop to pick up the buttons and belt for the coat I wore to my birthday party (which weren’t there as I had mis-calculated the timings) and lo and behold some fab new suitings were in. I bought two – a houndstooth and a window pane plaid and since the money was a gift, technically I wasn’t doing anything wrong!!!
I got my coat finished in the nick of time (a couple of the buttons are literally tied on!). I don't have a finished picture yet, but I'll try and write up the project tomorrow.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Cute top and what's next

Here is a quick and easy top I made during my week off, but I was only able to finish it this weekend because I needed to buy narrow elastic to go in the sleeves (I could have sworn I had metres of the stuff lying around)! I really like the leopard print, it’s fun and not too ‘barmaidy’. The pattern is McCalls 5388. It went together super-easily and there were no construction issues at all – and only 4 pieces to cut!

I’ve also written up a sort of plan/inventory of current projects.

As you can see there are a lot (and in terms of my stash it is the tip of the iceberg!). My plan is to work on only these projects until they are all finished. I may allow myself a little break to make simple tops and the like but I'm sticking to my promise to not buy any new fabric until June 30.

My only disappointment so far is that I didn’t have enough chocolate suiting to make the jacket I had chosen to complete a three piece suit, but that’s ok. Once I put together the skirt and pants I’ll judge if a more abbreviated jacket will suit and if not I’ll make a waistcoat or something. It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of jackets on my list!

I’ve never been much of a planner with my sewing – I usually react to need or special events – but I must say I feel very motivated by being able to tick things off. I have been so inspired by the blogs I read. Some of the wardrobes and mini wardrobes look amazing. I've also been inspired to make some patterns from BWOF. It always seemed too much trouble before, but I think it's worth it for the results having seen garments posted in blogs.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

My name is Jo and I'm a fabriholic

The wedding was last Saturday and it all went off well. The bridal party all looked stunning, especially the beautiful bride and the service and reception were both lovely. Unfortunately, with all the excitement I didn’t manage to get a photo of me in my outfit – so you’ll have to wait until it comes back from the dry cleaners – sorry about that.

My new job is great so far, everyone has been really friendly and welcoming. I have been given three pretty interesting projects to work on but at the moment I’m mainly reading old reports and trying to acquaint myself with the Department.

On the sewing front, I’ve done nothing this week except plan in my head. I think my next project will be Kasia (6012) from the Burdastyle website. I’ll use the same black suiting I used for my previous skirt and I have enough to make this jacket as well. I am hoping to get just a little bit more to make these pants. If I can’t get any more (there’s only 7 metres left at the manufacturer so I have to be quick as soon as it comes into the shop!) then I’ll make the skirt in grey and try to squeeze the pants and jacket out of what I have left. Also, out of the same fabric but in its brown colour I intend to make a three piece suit comprised of this jacket, these pants and this skirt. As if all that wasn’t enough, it’s my birthday in just over a week and I am hoping to make this short coat (view B) out of a black flock printed fabric.

I am in the process pf preparing a status update of my current and pending projects. I wonder if this is what it’s like for addicts when they have to confess the depths they’ve sunk to? Seriously, my stash is out of control so I have decided to make a little pact with myself. No new fabric except linings, interfacings, trims and other essentials to finish existing projects until the end of the financial year (June 30). Shouldn’t be a problem(!).

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Silk jacket - done

Ta Da…

ooooh shiny!

The finished silk jacket... I must say I’m really happy with the result, not to mention being happy with finishing it more than 5 minutes before I walk out of the door! Here are some photos and I promise I will post a picture or two of me actually wearing the whole outfit. I will have had my hair and eyebrows attended to by then so I’ll be looking presentable – I hope.

On to my other project for the week – my new work wardrobe, lets just say FAILED! Well to be fair I have spent the time going through my existing wardrobe and seeing what I have that’s useable, altering some stuff that was almost okay, and finishing some projects that I cut out ages ago. I also bought a couple of basics to get me through in the short term. I realised I’d rather spend my time sewing more challenging and fashionable styles than rush things I ultimately won’t be happy with; and it’s actually cheaper for me to buy the basics. I have prepared a few patterns so I’ll post soon about my upcoming work.