Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Roswell Week part 2!

Well, as is very clear, the last few weeks I have not been feeling the sewing love. I pulled myself out of the slump with the Flamingo tee, but the following week just involved me starting about 4 different things, only to abandon them after about half an hour. So all I have done is create a big pile of UFOs. But that doesn’t matter! Because the Sew Weekly’s theme this week is UFOs-so bring it on! ROSWELL WEEK PART 2! For anyone who didn’t notice my previous Roswell Week (my most productive week ever!), it is a weekly challenge that I made up where over a period of 7 days (ish) you try and finish as many UFOs as possible, posting every day. It’s actually quite motivational and you get a huge buzz from finishing things, and you can finish something every day if not more often (as frequently you don’t actually have that much left to do so it’s very quick).

This will hopefully give me a chance to finish the few items I failed to finish last time, and I shall be similarly industrious this time. It is perhaps a slight concern that it is only about a month since the last Roswell Week, and I have added many more items… I have such a short attention span. Never mind. It is also very appropriate to connect to the Sew Weekly’s UFO week, as most of my recent UFOs are half finished Sew Weekly projects!

So, the new list (which does contain some old favourites..)
The Glee Dress for Charlotte. Only about 6 months so far on this one.
The Pendrell Homage Blouse. Similar, and not even cut out yet, just years and years of fitting. Frankly I have to finish this soon, as it is starting to be a serious mental drain on my motivation and confidence levels!
Shifting Skies skirt. Not too bad, I have at least kept doing things to this. And it’s a Sew Weekly inspired item, so is very appropriate.
Shrug. I said I would test out a shrug pattern for the maker and have not made a huge amount of progress on it!
Red jersey vest refashion. This was the first thing I started to hack about for the Sew Weekly refashion theme last week, I didn’t get very far.
Men’s shirt refashions. After giving up the red vest I then started pulling some shirts apart, and then gave up on them..
Spotty vest. I sort of stalled on this but I have fitted half of it.. it is made from two pillow cases so another Sew Weekly UFO.
Chair jazzying. Ok not entirely sewing but I started making a cushion and reconsidering painting a chair in my room the other week.
Cushion covers. And I have been meaning to make some additional cushions for the kitchen chairs for ages and have only done half of one.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Flamingo kimono tee

I haven't posted anything in a week or so, as I had got stuck in a bit of a slump. I just wasn't feeling in the mood for sewing for a variety of low level reasons. After meeting with the lovely Debi of My Happy Sewing Place-Fashions of the Past (and the Sew Weekly) to drink Gin and Tonics and talk about sewing, I found my sew-jo returning slightly, mainly about trying to finish the hemming on my Shifting Skies skirt, which has about 25m of hem in the petticoat. However, after about 2 hours of applying white bias binding to one bit of hem, I decided that it was both tedious, and looked bad. So that knocked that on the head a bit (I will finish it, I am just going to hem it normally!). 

So I drifted on, and then, spurred on by my flatmate needing me to clear the airing cupboard which currently housed my now dry prewashed jersey that I had purchased in a mammoth charity shop/fabric shop binge the other week, and spurred on by Casey's recent post, I decided to venture where  had never ventured successfully before. KNITS! 

I had tried to make a T-short once before, when I first started, but it was a horrible failure, pulling all the wrong places and just looking irretrievably awful. I think retrospectively it was the type of jersey I used, as it was like conventional chunky tshirting, and I never wear tshirts made from that as they don't fit. For some reason, I figured if I made it myself it would, an important fabric lesson.

The jersey I used for this was a much softer drapier jersey (presumably with more polyester or something?). As I mentioned in my plan the other week, I had spotted a pattern and tutorial on Burdastyle for a kimono sleeve tee, which is all in one piece, you just sew the sides together and add a collar piece. I decided to go for the kimono sleeve as I was sick of all my tops being identical. 

So I printed it off and stuck all the piece of paper together to make the pattern. It then looked absolutely enormous, particularly for something that was meant to be stretchy. The pattern has small, medium large on it but they all seemed pretty massive, especially when compared to existing t shirts I have. I cut the smallest size (and yes everyone who says this-I concur- slippery knits are a pain to cut!) and then doubled the seam allowance to make it a bit smaller. It was still too big when I tried it on, so I took a 2 inch chunk of each side and it fit perfectly! I think, having looked in more detail at the burdastyle page, that this is again a reflection on the type of jersey. Most of the finished projects on there used the unstretchy chunky jersey, and therefore don't stretch as much. This pattern works very well with the more stretchy jersey but you do have to make it smaller (to put this in perspective if anyone is going to make one, I took about 3 inches off each side on the back and front, after cutting the small, and I have a 43 inch bust..). I also added 3 inches to the bottom to make it longer as I tend to find t shirts too short, however that was not necessary, as it is now very long, and if I wasn't 5ft 8.5 would probably work pretty well as a dress. 

The neckline was more of a challenge. The pattern has a quite high neckline, and I wanted to lower it. Again, ignoring everything I know about t shirts and sewing in general, I decided to just cut it bigger. This obviously made it huge and gapey. sigh. The instructions are more aimed at people with sergers, so I winged attaching the neckline, which actually worked quite well with just the narrow zig zag and then topstitching with normal stitch (there isnt any problem with the not fitting over my head without stretching!) Though the whole thing is super droopy and doesn't sit quite flat, I am actually pretty pleased with it for a first attempt. Due to the drapiness of the whole top, it looks quite plausible in a slip off your shoulder top sort of way.  

All in all I like it a lot. I didn't bother hemming the bottom or the sleeves, as the jersey just rolls about and looks alright as it is. It is nice and cosy to wear and it pretty flattering. YAY! I am no longer scared of knits! (OK I am but now its a more informed scared that hopefully wont stop me trying to use them!)

my neckline, looks pretty bad form the inside, but OK from the outside- and the the part that really counts!)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

TOPping up my wardrobe - the plan

OK, so for anyone who managed to stagger through my boring and self involved post yesterday (and those who didn't (can't blame you) I now bring you my plan for my new tops. 

Having realised that all my tops are the same, I perused a popular on-line inspiration retailer (rather excitingly Anthropologie has actually opened an Edinburgh store! I was invited to have my dog's portrait painted as part of the opening festivities (shame I don't have a dog, or an urge for a portrait of someone else's)). But anyway, I had a look through and found some tops that whilst they are not necessarily following the rules, they do inspire tops that could. 

Top left to bottom right, (sorry I couldn't be bothered to put all the links in for these but they are all super easy to find if you go to the main site and click tops or blouses as appropriate)
Colourful, bright print with kimono-esque sleeves; cute casual shirt with covered buttons and sleeve tabs; fun bird print-I have tended to avoid prints that need to "placed"; tie/dip dye (OK I prob wont do this but its pretty) and an interesting rolled neckline/straps; another nice rolled neckline, with a cowly feel, also stripy-I dont own a stripy top; pretty print with a nice wrap, fluttery sleeves and elasticated waist; cut out detail (no idea how I would do this but some lace or something would be nice); elastic smocking; cowl neck, swooshy folds; fitted vest that doesn't have to be stretchy with a nice button/neckline detail.

I also had a look at some jumpers and cardigans (the ones against the white background are from modcloth)

stripy fun again-all my jumpers are plain, and I like how the stripes are vertical at the front and horiz on the sleeves; structured detailing; spots and kimono sleeves; cowls and fun edging; lace appliqué embellishments; crazy jolly embellishments.

Now for the plan:
  • Fitted vest, hopefully from a white with tiny navy spotted pillow case I have, inspired by this weeks Sew Weekly challenge-pillowcases! I shall have to see if there is enough material.
  • Pendrell homage (one day I will finish this, I just got so demoralised after all the pattern fitting!) -bright blue button back scoop neck blouse with collar detail.
  • Purple jersey smocked top refashion (I have an oversized top my flatmate gave me that I've been wondering what to do with)
  • Colette Patterns Sorbetto blouse (lovely free pattern-though I am going to tweak the darts and bit and FBA based on some comments I've seen), possibly in a pale pink cotton with big white spots that I have a remnant of in the stash
  • Jersey cowl neck-I have a massive blue jersey dress thing I could cut up
  • Jersey kimono sleeve top, there's a tutorial on Burdastyle I'm considering. 
  • Casual shirt like the navy one above, but possibly in a more interesting colour. 
  • I am also going to look for some patterned jumpers and knitwear to have a play with, depending on what I fond in the charity shops, sadly my knitting just isn't up to making anything from scratch!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

TOPping up my wardrobe

As I explained the other day, I do not wear interesting tops. They are pretty much all stretchy vests or t-shirts, with tight coloured cardigans over them. Since I had a bit of a cull recently, I have been more aware that the top selection is a little boring.  Of course the problem with jazzing it up is that my top drawer is like that for several reasons, and if I am going to be able to make it more exciting I am either going to have to abandon these reasons (unlikely – they are quite sensible), or learn to twist the outcome a little. In an attempt to go with option 2, here are the rules that must be obeyed, and the habits that do not. In a subsequent (probably far more interesting) post, I am going to look at some of the sort of things I ought to be making and plan some projects.

  1. Slim fitting – I don’t wear baggy tops. Ever. I have large boobs, and broad shoulders, and big hips, and a small waist. If I don’t show my waist (and quite a lot of it), the tops hang straight from the shoulder to the hip and I just look about 3 stone heavier than I am, and utterly shapeless.
  2. No excess fabric - As described on some style blog I have forgotten the name of and can’t find again-I am an 8 shaped hourglass rather than an X shaped one, so my hips jut out pretty high up. Therefore the “baggy things with belts” look doesn’t really work either as the additional fabric poofs out all over the place and I feel like I’m wearing a poorly assembled tent. My underbust area is the thinnest bit and I don’t like padding it out with masses of extra material either.
  3. I like a tighter top with a belt but I must be able to wear it without. I tend to eat too much pizza/chocolate/beer and have to take the belt off.
  4. I need to be able to wear a normal bra. No strapless, no halters (and definitely no braless!). It’s just too painful otherwise. I don’t care if you can see the bra straps, but ideally there are other straps involved in the top nearby.
  5. I don’t wear high necks. Ever. Other people with boobs seem to manage it, but I always feel like I look terrible. Deep Vs and scoops only.
  6. If there is an underbust seam, it must sit UNDER THE BUST. I absolutely loathe it when people wear them with the seam halfway over their boobs-the top doesn’t fit, so don’t wear it.
  7. Even though my figure means they ought to work-I look like a fool in peasant tops. I look like I’m in a costume, frequently laughably so.
  8. I don’t wear ruffles around the bust area. I start to look like some kind of parade float.

  1. I tend to wear stretchy. This isn’t really a choice for stretchy (comfy and flattering though they are), but RTW tops that aren’t stretchy don’t fit . Now that I am making them however, there is no reason at all why they have to be stretchy (plus I can’t sew with knits!)
  2. Almost all my tops are plain colours with no embellishment. This partly due to the type of RTW tops that have patterns and embellishment (the non-stretchy ones that aren’t flattering and don’t fit) and partly due to me just being a bit boring. But I like patterns, so I should have some.
  3. I just keep buying the same top. In different colours. I am going to have to be more original.
  4. My tops are all very tight, partly for the reasons outlined above but mainly because they are stretchy, and semi baggy stretchy is just a bit weird looking. But again, if they aren’t stretchy, problem solved.