Tuesday, 24 February 2009

My Mojo Went on Holiday and Left me Behind

I have a confession to make.

I have not sewn a stitch in over three weeks! This is very unlike me and I am itching to make something, but I am just totally exhausted right now.

I remember writing before Christmas about how I was looking forward to getting my workload under control in the new year. Sadly that has not happened. In fact, it is worse! I am feeling so stressed out that I have developed eczema on my back (I’ve never had eczema before) and the week before last I got a sty in my eye. Since stys (is that how you spell it/them?) are not contagious I ended up having to go to work with my left eye all swollen and purple, and VERY painful! I just have to slog through this really busy time until it gets sorted out – although I’m not sure how that will happen. Please be patient with me in the meantime.

I am a little bored with summer clothes and even though I didn’t get through everything on my list (who ever does that?) I think I will move on to some Autumn and Winter garments to re-ignite my interest. I have been putting a fair amount of thought into what I’d like to make for the coming cooler months and I just need to get a final plan together. I am still working with the very small closet concept for my work wear so I need to make sure that I have two complete looks for each bottom piece. There are also some casual pieces I need, chiefly jeans - so a couple of pairs are definitely on the cards.

The other sewing related job I’ve been doing is cataloguing my stash. I’ve never done this before and it’s kinda fun, if a little overwhelming. I don’t have a problem with an enormous stash – when I see nice, good quality fabric, I’ll buy it whether or not I have a project in mind. Some years there just doesn’t seem to be anything I like in the shops and others I just go mad! Having said that though, I am having a few “What the…” moments! I can’t wait to finally tally up how much fabric I own. I dare say it will be a scary figure!

I’ve been doing a little knitting (it’s about as much as I can manage at the moment) so I hope I will have a new knitted project to show off soon.

On the up side it is a long weekend in Western Australia this week so, fingers crossed, I will find my mojo and get cracking on a fab new project soon.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Vogue 8392 - Voile Top

My latest summer top is from Vogue 8392, a pattern that it's fair to say has had mixed reviews. I love the ruffled sleeve versions made by others but I bought this fabric as a remnant so I had no hope of making that view. I was concerned the plain sleeves would be a dowdy length but they're okay. I don't love it, but I don't hate it either.

The fabric is, as mentioned, a remnant. It's cotton voile that I bought from Tessuti when I was in Sydney (the same trip I bought my black coat fabric - and another piece that I haven't used yet). It is a very nice quality, not like the cheap stuff you buy that just shrivels up in the wash - after pre-washing in the machine I didn't even need to press it before cutting out the pattern.

I made a 2cm fba which resulted in a small bust dart on the side seam. I wanted that, I thought it would make the top a bit less boxy.

I used french seams throughout except the armhole. Rather than bind the armhole seam as I normally would, I stitched 6mm away from the seamline then trimmed the excess seam allowance. I then ran a row of zigzag over the second stitching line to neaten it. The resulting finish doesn't add any bulk to the armhole seam so it sits smoothly and isn't too stiff.

Like several other reviewers, wasn't happy with the slit, hook and eye solution at the back neck. I toyed with adding a placket and tiny buttons - which would have been cute, but in the end I didn't bother. What I did do was follow the instructions in Roberta Carr's book to add a little bow to conceal the hook. I also made a thread eye (instead of using the metal one) as I find they stay shut better.
Look very closely and you might be able to see the little bow! Of course it will always be hidden under my hair anyway but that's not the point is it?
Here is a detail shot of the front pleats and neck binding, I have to say I wish the pleats were a bit more distinctive. If I make this again it will be in a slightly thicker fabric and a plain colour. It would look great in a silk crepe or similar.

It's forecast to be very hot this week (41C on Thursday) so I'll probably be very grateful for such a lightweight top.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Simplicity 3838, Floral Silk Top

I was a little dubious about this project for three reasons:
  1. The print, which is a little bolder than I'd normally choose.
  2. The style, which could look a bit maternity if I was unlucky.
  3. The fabric, which is very lightweight and may not have had enough drape and therefore stick out in the front.
Overall though I am really happy with this top...
Back view...
Hmm, you can see the invisible zip a little in the band section - I'll have to go back and get a bit closer there!
The pattern is Simplicity 3838, which I have just realised is OOP. I'm not sure how I managed to look past the hideous photo on the pattern envelope, but I'm glad I did.
I made a 2cm FBA but other than that it's a straight size 12.
The main fabric is silk (china silk weight) and the bands are made from black linen.
Rather than turn under the edges of the bands and topstitch them down I used my interfacing to make a neater edge. I sewed the centre seam on the fabric and interfacing (overlap and stitch the interfacing), then I trimmed the full seam allowance off everywhere except the outside edge. I laid the pieces right sides (non-sticky side of the interfacing) together and then stitched around the outside edge. I trimmed carefully and clipped the seam then turned the piece right side out. I very carefully pressed around the edge to make sure it fused nicely, then I fused the whole piece.
I then attached the band to the top as per the instructions, hand basting it in place first.
The other thing I did differently (and I forgot to take a picture) is the way I treated the midriff band. On the facing piece I turned under the ends about 2cm (and trimmed) before joining it to the top part - this is to reduce bulk when inserting the zip. Next I turned in the seam allowance on the bottom of the midriff band and hand stitched it in place. The pattern has the raw edges exposed on the bottom part of the band - not pretty.
Invisible zips are a real challenge for me, I don't know why. Maybe I am too much of a perfectionist or I just don't have the knack. Whatever it is I can never insert an invisible zip without some swear words! This one was no exception, I just couldn't get the bottom part of the seam to match up nicely and after unpicking several times the fabric started to look very fragile. I ended up have to make a couple of hand stitches but sssh, don't tell anyone!
Because I like the inside to look as pretty as the outside (unless I'm being lazy) I made all the seams french except the armhole and centre back, which I bound. I then hand stitched the bound seam to the midriff facing to hide the bit that I turned under earlier. Here's the inside (before I had done the hem - which is just double turned and machine stitched).

So that's it, what do you think? I was a bit worried it would 'wear me' rather than the other way around but I actually think it's quite cute and cheerful.