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.