Friday, 31 January 2014

Tight Whites aka Muslin #2

On Saturday I went to a pants fitting class at Tessuti Fabrics, and started learning how to make pants fit properly.  There were just four of us in the class, and our instructor Megan was both lovely and terrific.

I've made pants before - V1098 here, here and here, also as a pair of shorts here, the ginormous V2289 here, the very red V1293 here - and Anita pants here and here, but when I've achieved a decent fit it's felt like I've either lucked out with the pattern (V1098, that's you) or played it safe with ponte! Hence the class :).

To try to maximise my education I chose a very fitted pants pattern designed for a woven fabric, V1204 by Issey Miyake. It's essentially a designer version of a jeans pattern:

I figured that if I could get the fit sorted on fitted pants, I'd be able to apply this to looser pants too - and of course the fit on a loose pair of pants wouldn't give me all the answers if I subsequently wanted to make fitted pants. And I've found that stretch fabric can smooth over fitting problems, so it made sense to learn about fit with a woven fabric. 

Megan showed me where to remove bucket loads of excess fabric from my initial muslin, and I came away from the class with a new pattern for muslin #2. It's now sewn up - with just a couple of post-class adjustments (removing a little width at centre back from about hip level and up, and very slightly raising the crotch). It's SUCH an improvement on muslin #1, which was like a calico wrinkle-magnet, but I took a lot of photos of muslin #2 to help myself work out what still needs to be done.

Do you want to see how it's looking? This is muslin #2 with the couple of extra tweaks made after class:

There's still some fabric wrinkling on the backs of my thighs... so I thought I would try pinching out a dart from the back to pull the crotch curve up:

This seems to at least alter if not completely remove the wrinkles:


My next idea was to pinch out some fabric in the front, to pull the fabric up - the photo on the left shows just one side pinned in place, and the photo on the right shows both sides pinned in place:
I wasn't sure if this was working, so I unpinned those darts and tried pinching out some excess fabric from the inseam (this gets pinched out in the back too):


Yes, I think this is progress!

Next up I want to check what the crotch curve on these pants is looking like (I might need more room in the back curve), and I'm going to go on a pants fitting internet trawl.

And over to you - I know there are so many bloggers and sewists out there who've cracked the pants fitting problem for themselves! Do you think any of those darts in the photos have potential to improve the fit? Is there a completely different adjustment I should be making?

Thank you - and good night!

- Gabrielle x

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Rashie 1

We went to the beach a few times over Christmas, and I usually relied on my trusty one-piece.

One afternoon, about to hit the beach, I put on my trusty one-piece, and found it was itchy. It must have had sand in it! Alternative? My mismatched bikini, hot pink florals on top and wild orange florals on bottom :). BUT I have a mummy tummy, and I didn't want to flaunt it. Easy solution, I thought - add a t-shirt! So I did. But that afternoon, as I got wetter I got heavier. My t-shirt dragged and flopped uncomfortably in the waves, and out of the sea stayed sodden. Enviously I stared at another woman's cute rashie top - loud florals with contrasting black panels - it looked comfortable and cute.

I went to my nearest department store for inspiration, and was not inspired: the rash tops were conservative and expensive. And then I searched for rash tops on the sewing blogosphere. I didn't find much, but what I found convinced me a rash top would be an easy make.

Enter Rashie 1:)

Rashie 1 nearly succeeds - it meets the comfort criterion, but I'm unconvinced about the cute criterion. Rashie 1 is a wearable muslin:

I wore it to the pool recently to test its performance; here it is after a swim:

Sorry about the photos - not very crisp or interesting, I know, but the kids weren't in the mood for photo-taking and I wasn't in the mood for posing in front of lots of strangers. I do love the backdrop though - filed away ages ago without much thought about the multiplicative embarrassment of swimwear in public, no war paint, wet hair, and thighs!

Although the top looked and felt like a snug fit when dry, in the water it stretched a bit - you can see some looseness all over in the photo above, but the looseness at hip level is what I really noticed in the water. In fact, I think it needs to be taken down a size all over to achieve the snug fit I wanted.  I probably should have realised it was too big as compared against the bikini bottoms (which are snug) - see how much wider the top is in the photo below? Mind you, this is another wet photo, and since the bottoms are fully lined and their waist stabilised with a frill :) they didn't stretch as much in the water:

The fabric is a pretty amazing match for my RTW wild orange floral bikini bottoms, isn't it! Just a cheapo from Lincraft, so perhaps it's a knockoff:

Only a fellow sewist would venture this far into the blog post, so here are a few more pics of the rash top on.  This is the best back view I have, but I don't think you can really see the main design change I made to the original pattern - omitting the centre back seam and invisible zip.  I can't imagine using an invisible zip in swimwear!

And just one more - yes, I really do need to take it in:

Now for the Sewing Info

I couldn't find a rashie pattern per se, but I found a pattern I could work with: BurdaStyle pattern 120 06/2011. It's a pattern for a fitted t-shirt with a high neckline and short sleeves, as well as centre back seam with an invisible zip.  

I cut out the pattern in a size 38, with about 3cm extra length and with both back and front cut on the fold - I ignored the pattern's centre back seam. On sewing front and back together at shoulder seams and trying it on, I found that the armscyes were too low for the fit you want with a rashie, so I took in the shoulder seam by about 1.5 cm to raise the armscye. This also lifted the neckline - fine because a rashie is supposed to cover you all the way up to your neck. The sleeves then had too much fabric to fit well so I just did a quick and dirty removal of (3+cm) excess fabric from the sleeve cap before serging the edges:  

The sleeves look fine in the end... instead of using a twin needle straight stitch for hems (as I'd usually do with swimwear or knits), I finished the hems with a three-step zig-zag. I think I recall Katherine using this finish on some of her swimwear ages ago:

And although rashie tops usually have a short funnel neck to protect the lowest part of your neck, I decided to try something different. Using the sewn top as a guide I cut out 7cm wide facings, top sewn again with a three-step zig-zag: 

And that's all!

If you need a rashie for yourself, it's a really easy make - go on!

See you soon

- Gabrielle x

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Denim Moss Mini

Wow, what an unimaginative blog post title - sorry, going back to work has made my brain tired. Lucky then that I finished this skirt on Saturday, while I was still on holiday and getting loads of sleep!

Finished up on Saturday morning, worn straight away. I think it goes well with the slouchy yellow top I was already wearing, and hey! I've got coloured shoes to match too!

The skirt is the Moss Mini by Grainline patterns. If you've been reading this blog for a while you'll know I don't sew many independent patterns*, but this pattern is one that I've been seeing around the internet for a long time (d'oh! the pattern was released a long time ago!) and it's one that looked like it could easily find friends in my wardrobe. I've been wanting a plain denim skirt for YEARS!

* Why don't I sew more independents? Well I know Vogue patterns fit my height and dimensions pretty well 'out of the envelope', but independent pattern makers use different size and height standards depending on their target markets. I don't really have the time to make the kind of hardcore adjustments needed to translate a pattern intended for a short curvacious woman with lovely shoulders to something that would fit me... so even when a Colette pattern looks gorgeous, I'll try to resist. That's the main reason - but I also have a ginormous Vogue pattern archive stash!

Anyway, back to the skirt. Based on just a few of the measurements I'd been using to play around with swimming costume patterns, the Moss Mini size chart put me at a 12 in the waist and a 10 in the hips. As the length looked way too short for me, I also added 11cm to the skirt (that's 4.3"). I cut the skirt, pocket and fly pieces out as a size 12, and left the waistband to cut out once I'd confirmed the size that worked for me - depending on the amount of ease I wanted.

This skirt is probably intended to be worn low and loose on the hips, but I decided I wanted it to be fitted and to sit at my natural waist. My denim jeans always seems to bag out a lot, so I thought it'd be better to go tighter than looser! And so the size 12 proved to be too big. I took the skirt in on side seams to about a size 10 (waist, hips, all the way down), then found some remaining gap-osis in the back so took in a wedge that tapered to nothing at the fullest area of b-um. I think I should have done something more radical to improve the fit in the back, as the lower back skirt has a bit of bagging - I'm guessing because I'm not filling out the skirt as intended.  As the bagging in the back doesn't seem significant I'm pretty happy with the fit, and I think this skirt is going to be an absolute wardrobe staple.

Below are a couple more of the pretty seaside pics that my mother-in-law took for me on Saturday afternoon... I've applied absolutely minimal cropping to all of them and a drop of 'warming' to a couple of them, but seriously, can you believe she did this well with only 6 photos? [I normally take hundreds in burst mode to get a couple that are presentable! Maybe I need to go to the beach more often... ]

Moving right along - let's talk about The Sewing Details.

  • My measurements put me as a 12 in the waist and a 10 in the hips, but the skirt is probably intended to be worn below the waist whereas I'm wearing it on the natural waist.
  • Cut out as a size 12, but sewed it as a size 10 after checking the fit, then removed a wedge from upper centre back, taking care to keep yoke seams and top stitching aligned. This makes for a fitted skirt for me, and I'm currently a small size 12 in Australian RTW. 
  • Only cut the curved waistband once I'd fit the skirt. I then matched centre back of the waistband pattern piece to centre back of the skirt and worked around to the front of the skirt in both directions to determine which size to cut out. I ended up cutting the waistband halfway between a size 8 and a size 10 because the wedge I took out of centre back brought the size down a bit from a 10 at the waist. 
  • Lengthened by 11cm or 4.3". I'm not sure what height this skirt was drafted for, but by lengthening the skirt by 11cm I got an above knee skirt - and I'm about 173cm or 5'8". 

I don't know if you can see this properly in the photo above, but the top stitching was sewn with yellow Gutermann top stitching thread, with stitch length set to about 2.8 - I find this looks much better than the automatic (shorter) stitch length. 

For pocket linings I used a striped quilting cotton that I bought heaps of when I discovered a local fabric shop - and it was having a sale to boot.

I followed the instructions as written, but the colour coding of right and wrong sides of the fabric initially threw me (just different to what I'm used to!), so I ended up with left and right sides mixed up and my fly consequently does up the wrong way around. Since denim jeans and denim skirts tend to have a unisex fly, that means I inserted a female fly when I shouldn't have! Speaking of the fly, I wasn't entirely happy with the Moss Mini methodology... because you sew up to the lowest point of the fly then fold the front skirt back to sew in the zip one side at a time, there's a lot of stress on the lowest point of the fly (around where you can see a bit of a bar tack). Hmm this is perhaps only an issue if you're using a thick fabric that has a lot of cloth to be folded out of the way. If I make this skirt again (and I well might - maybe in a linen next time) I'll investigate fly methodologies - the tutorial here looks brilliant but I haven't tried it.

Overall I found the Moss Mini pattern to be a great little pattern; it's well drafted, and it makes for a classic wardrobe staple. The instructions explain all the steps comprehensively with clear line drawings. Interestingly, despite Jen's evident training and experience, the pricing is a lot gentler than that of many other indy patterns. I'm guessing this has something to do with the pattern only being available as a download? Maybe the relatively more expensive downloadable versions of other patterns are subsiding the production costs of the paper patterns?   

One thing that would be useful on the pattern is an indication of the height of woman the skirt was designed for - is this usually included in indy patterns?  

And finally I've got a comment about the pattern that's just for me!  The pockets have been drafted with some room in them, but next time I'd cut the pocket and skirt pattern pieces without room to keep the front of the skirt flatter. I don't need any extra volume there ;).

Let me finish up with a photo I took, 'borrowing' my mother-in-law's camera as our beach outing came to an end. This is a view across the salt water pool - where we moved when bluebottles turned up in the surf - back towards the beach. I love summer!

See you soon!

- Gabrielle x

Sunday, 5 January 2014

New Year's Eve - Little Dress

The last day of 2013, and I was at home with my partner and kids. No playdate for my daughter and she was bored - so we made her a dress. 

The red and white check polycottton is from my daughter's tiny stash, a 1 metre piece of fabric I bought years ago at Lincraft.  The relatively straightforward old dress pattern is from my huge stash and probably comes from a second hand store. We made a size 6, lengthened and taken in but still too wide - apparently my daughter is very tall and very skinny for her age, but I do generally find the Big 4 kid's patterns far too wide for my skinny kids.  

Simplicity 7050
We laid out pattern pieces, pinned them down and cut them out together. I pinned the fabric together and my daughter sewed side seams and skirt to bodice seams on the machine my mum gave her (the one I learnt to sew on!). The zip is pretty dodgy looking, but I sewed that part and it was sewn under extreme verbal and physical impatience!  It was all pretty quick except for those daisies on the join between front skirt and bodice - sewing them on by hand took me well over an hour. 

The dress was ready for New Year's Eve when we went off to meet up with rellies to see the 9pm fireworks. Someone was very proud: 

Not perfect sewing, but I think it's cute... a grownup version would be equally easy, and would be pretty comfortable in the heat. 

So that was the last project for 2013 - a little bit of unselfish sewing.  And today I finished up the first project of 2014 - a Moss Mini for myself!  I think it fits and looks pretty good, but I probably need to wait to see the photographic evidence from our beach outing this afternoon... 

Hope you're having a great weekend!

See you anon

- Gabrielle x

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year, and here's to an amazing 2014!

Thank you to all of you lovely readers, commenters, Sydney sewists and fellow online sewcialists for all the inspiration and encouragement you've provided me with this year.  I hope 2014 is a happy, healthy and fulfiling year for you all.

Here's a little gif from photos I took of the early fireworks (9pm edition) last night in Sydney, viewed from a large rock in the bush (!) on one of the harbour headlands.  I hope it works - I've never tried this before!

Onto the new year's resolutions. I have three resolutions relating to sewing and blogging - well, not so much resolutions as reminders - for the year:

1. It's a blog, not a popularity contest
This blog is just for fun. I don't have to try to be more amusing or knowledgeable or pretty or prolific. Abslutely no pressure.

2. Dance to the beat of your own drum
I don't have to join in with the sew-alongs, I don't have to try all the indies. It's OK to like Vogue patterns too (it's true, I do).

3. Be nice
Do unto others etc etc. That includes taking time to reply to comments, and to write comments on all of my the blog posts I've 'liked' in bloglovin'.  

And that's it!

See you soon

- Gabrielle x
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