Thursday, 26 March 2015

Named Nascha Mini skirt

For my birthday last year my lovely sister bought me the Named Nascha Mini Skirt pattern. I've been wanting to make it up for quite a while but the warm weather prevented me. I see this skirt as a winter mini to be paired with tights. I offered to make a wonderful friend a garment for her birthday and she asked for a Nascha Mini Skirt. As I hadn't made the pattern yet I decided to make myself a version to iron out any issues first.

I traced the pattern in size 40, which matched my hip measurement perfectly. I then proceeded to cut out some wool fabric and lining I had in my stash only to remember that I hadn't added seam allowances! Argh! I then recut some wool blend fabric from Clegs and the lining from the last of this silk. I was careful to check whether pattern matching was possible as Jess chose a tartan wool. It's a surprisingly simple pattern for pattern matching.

At first sight the instructions appeared be detailed. however, quite a few steps were challenging and written in confusing ways. I felt that they often missed key words. For example an instruction read "Finish bottom front edge" and I'm left asking "of what?" The skirt? the waist facing? the hem facing? Thankfully the diagrams are generally good so with a few re-reads of each instruction they can be made sense of.

In terms of the construction, I really enjoyed sewing this skirt. I've never made a lined skirt where the lining is fully encased by the waist and hem facings. The way the front diagonal pieces came together was a lovely piece of origami and the finish is excellent! In fact there were times when the instructions called for finishing seams that seemed unnecessary. For example, finishing the waist seam which is hidden inside the waist facing.

My only issues were topstitching the diagonal front folds, there is a lot of bulk at these seams, and topstitching the zipper to hold the lining in place. Next time I will hand sew the lining to the zipper. Next time I'd also consider inserting welt pockets in the back. I wont try this in Jess' skirt though, to much to lose if I fudge it up.

The fit is good, perhaps just slightly too loose. It tends to want to creep down at the back. In the below photo you can see that the skirt sits very low on me. Otherwise I'm super happy with this new addition to my winter wardrobe and I think it pairs really well with my recently made bow blouse. Now to make Jess' version.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Night Dress

Tim's mum lent me some of her patterns recently, one of which was this 1981 Style 3420 elasticised dress/jumpsuit pattern. I thought about making the dress but summer has come to an end here and the days are already too crisp to wear a lightweight relaxed fit dress. But I really needed some nighties, and this pattern was pretty much perfect for a nighty. Does anyone else use day time wear patterns to make PJ's or nighties?

The only changes I made were to remove 2" from the bodice so that the elastic was at the empire waist rather than the natural waist. For some reason empire line styles seem more appropriate and comfortable for nighties (I don't know why, they just do). I also took about 6" off the length and overlocked the hem using the rolled hem function.

The instructions were easy to follow and the construction couldn't be simpler. Construction involves creating a faux centre front facing using the seam allowance, adding an under arm facing and creating casings at the neckline and waist. Done!

I used some spotlight cotton lawn I'd bought over a year ago, and the elastic and ribbon came from Tim's Gma's stash. This means that the nighty cost me $0 as everything was in the stash/ given to me. 

PJ's are a great choice for using up cotton fabrics that are just a little too sweet or girly. I have a couple more fabrics in my stash which would make gorgeous nighties, or PJs. Sewing jammies is pretty boring but it's useful AND uses up fabrics which makes space for NEW fabrics. It's a win-win!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

An Update On My Sewing Space

Recently my sewing space has been getting out of control. It has been taking over the room it shares with a shelf, storage boxes, a clothes drying area, guitars, and our bikes. I needed to overhaul the space and make some rules (let's think of them more as guidelines) to avoid the space becoming this crazy again. The top photo is how the space looked in December of 2013 and how the below photo is how it looked last week.

In the last year I've obtained A LOT more patterns, fabrics, notions as well as an overlocker. I've also  been recently gifted bags full of trims, fabrics, threads and every other sewing related item you can think of by Tim's Grandma who is down-sizing. I love everything she has passed on to me and feel very lucky to have access to vintage bias binding, zippers and lace trims that she used. But how to make it fit tidily in my sewing space?  I hear Ikea calling!

I bought another Alex storage unit, this time a cupboard. Tim and I put this one together in record time! I moved all my traced patterns into the lower shelf, organised by garment type. The upper shelf will items that I plan to refashion. If it becomes too full then I'll have choose some garments to take to the opshop (Rule 1). I'm using the space above the units to store works in progress and my pressing cloths, ham and sausage. If I have more WIPs than will fit I wont allow myself to start any new projects untill I finish some (Rule 2).

Buying a storage unit freed up my drawers so that I could sort through my existing and newly acquired sewing notions and dedicate each drawer to one type. The above photo shows just some of the sewing things Tim's Grandma gave me and the photos below that show them sorted, with my existing items in my drawers. I have an entire drawer dedicated just to thread (LOVE those bobbin trays!), one for trims, bias, ribbons and lace, and one for elastics and zippers. I am yet to go through my 5 tins of buttons but there is a draw for those too when I'm feeling up to it.

I had been hoarding two bags of fabric scraps thinking that one day they might come in use. They had to go, along with three more bags of slightly larger fabric scraps and fabrics I knew I'd never use. The only scraps I'll allow myself to keep from now on are those big enough to make another garment or bias binding from (Rule 3). I'll be taking my scraps to kinders/schools or textile recyclers more often. I wont be making a rule around fabric purchases - I'd only break it.

On my sewing table I keep all my paper patterns, although I don't think it's a long term solution. Under the table is one shopping bag where I will keep all "to fix" garments. If the bag gets full I'll have to either fix stuff (no thanks!) or consider whether some garments need to be refashioned, recycled or opshopped (Rule 4).

I like the minimalist look but I have hoarding tendencies. I'm so glad my sewing space is back under control and all of my mess has a place to call home.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Simplicity 1544: Short Sleeve Shirt for Tim

After making Tim three Negroni's, two of which I hacked to include a collar stand and button plackets, it was time to try a different pattern. Hopefully one that "had it all".

The Simplicity 1544 shirt has pockets, back yokes, collar and stand, button plackets and placket cuffs. But I'd bought some gorgeous shirting from Tessuti with a short sleeves shirt in mind so I needed to make a shorter sleeve. Unsurprisingly, creating a short sleeve is 100% easier than hacking button plackets and collar bands etc. Phew! I simply measured the Negroni short sleeve and marked it on the Simplicity sleeve pattern.

I made a muslin from some yucky poly striped fabric that made Tim look like he stole the Banana's In Pajamas shirt. This was my first time making a muslin that I didn't hope to make wearable. It was incredibly liberating being able to make something up so fast and with so little care for the finishing's. No finished seams, clipped curves, or pretty top stitching here. It took me just 45 minutes to sew it up! 

From the muslin we decided that the fit was fine except for needing to take a small amount of width from the sleeve and shortening it a lot. I took 4" off the Negroni sleeve length, created a 1" hem, and then folded it outward 1" and tacked it down to create a cuff look. I also took 1/4" from the sleeve width grading to nothing at the shoulders. The only other changes I made were to omit the yoke tab, and additional country style top stitching.

The fit of this shirt is definitely a looser around the torso than the Negroni Shirts but that's fine for casual summer shirt. For a more formal or business wear shirt you could easily add some back darts where most of the excess room is. Next time I make the shirt, probably a long sleeve, I'll fold out a little more width in the sleeves as well.

The instructions were reasonably clear and easy to follow. There's no suggestion to flat fell the seams. Instead the instructions have you overclock the edges of the shoulder seams and then turn them inside for top stitching. I also did this down the sleeve and side seams.  

The collar stand and collar are sewn on very similar to the Archer shirt, but the button bands are both wide separate pattern pieces that are interfaced, attached to the body,  folded inwards and then top stitched down. The hem is created before the button band and then the band bottoms are sewn wrong sides out and then turned inwards so that they are even with the hem. I quite liked this process but they do create very thick button bands.

I absolutely loved working with this fabric. It was sturdy and forgiving. The button holes and top stitching went in like a dream. Summer is officially over but I hope we have a few warm days left so that Tim has the chance to wear his new shirt and I can get some more wear out of all the dresses!