Monday, January 21, 2013

Introducing...The Shirt

It resists being named... :)
My darling David loves his new shirt! He wore it to the shop on Saturday and apparently got heaps of compliments (I was elsewhere - more later)
The shirt with no one inside him, all pressed and waiting for its photoshoot. Please note pattern matched pockets!

My Man!! Strikin' a pose. All 6' 3" of him. The shirt is a slim fit. This is a polite way of saying that I kind of made it a little snug. But apparently it is very comfortable anyway.

Because he was smiling in this one. He has a lovely smile but like most of us, the minute a camera comes close, it turns into a  rictus!

Close up to show the pattern, the detailing (piping everywhere!) contrast inner collar stay, and the amazing, enormous collar of win!! We decided it had to stay, and the Peacock shirt is having the same sized one.The underside has the contrast fabric too. Unlikely anyone will see it, but we know!
Cuff turned back to show the contrast fabric. Hmm, should I have used a dark green thread? As I had to unpick all of the front buttonholes, having put them down the wrong side, I couldn't face it!

We love it. It suits my man's flamboyant personality. It was a big job - but nothing compared to the Peacock, which took a record five hours to cut out!!!! More on that beastie later...

So, thank you again to Oobop for bringing the beauty of this pattern to my attention. I wish I had your photographic skills though! :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Finally, Burda 7396, with bonus hack!

The most beloved Burda 7396.

Here it is at last! Those of you who have watched my Youtube video about making crackers have seen this baby live in action. I bought the fabric, which is a stretch cotton sateen, at Arthur Toyes in Wellington. I am absolutely unable to pass up painterly rose anything, and even though this fabric is unusually neutral for my taste, in this pattern I just love it.I teamed it up with some contrast pinstriped linen.
My first outing of this pattern early last year, was a black, striped number, remember? It has since been gussied up to be my go-to Steampunk top:

In the original I missed out the faux pocket flaps, but I like them against the rose fabric. (Goodness me, photos can change a person can't they! I look like I've been yoyo dieting and taking my clothes in and out!)
Because I had cut the latest version out very soon after making the first, I remembered all the adjustments I needed to make. So even though it took me a year to get around to finishing it, it went together like a dream.
I LOVE this top. It has been way too hot to wear it, however - anything with a sleeve is too hot right now.

And so to The Hack.
I want to love this but I don't. I hacked the pattern by taking out the front closure and making it into a tunic, and using the one piece, shorter, sleeve option. The first time I put it together it was so ugly, I pulled it apart. The bust seam was too far over, the sleeves too full in the top, and the bodice too long. And yet, same pattern, same stretch cotton sateen. Weird! Oh yes, and the neckline was too high.
So, after cutting the neckline lower, cutting heaps out of it everywhere and reassembling, I found that the neckline was too low and showed the top of my new bras. Grrrr. So, I added a drape of lace on each side.
I don't like this and it annoys me that I made such a newb mistake.
I think my issue with this top is that I want to love this red rose fabric, because it is red painterly roses on a black background. So of course I love it right? But I just don't care for the lined up roses all the same size, they look blobby.
But it is done at least. And when I add a little clear elastic to the lace insets so they sit better, I will like it more. But it kind of reminds me of the trouble it has caused and I am not convinced it was worth it.
What I do like though is that the hack is very different from the original. And I will use this pattern again, never fear! Today I fell for some black linen with huge gold roses on it that I want to make into a short peplum jacket, and I'll use the bodice pattern for it.
Yes, yes, yes, I know that there are fabrics out there that do not feature large roses on them. Otherwise what would everyone else wear? ;-)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Tutorial: Matching a pattern for a pocket

Dear ones, The Shirt is coming along nicely. I matched the rather wild pattern on the patch pockets and thought it might be useful to others to know how I do it. My method, which I first used 33 years ago to make a leopard print shirt for a friend, is super easy and quick and it works!
Matching patterns on a busy fabric is not just a showoffy thing to do, it also stops the garment from being cluttered and busy in a bad way.

1. Separate the two shirt fronts and pin the pattern tissue back onto one of them, with the fabric right side facing the tissue. In the photos, the pattern is upside down-whereas for the other side it would be right side up.
2. Now pin the pocket pattern piece over the pattern, matching the markings. In this case, I've matched the inner edge only because of the folded adjustment, but if you can, match all the placement lines.
3. Now using a chalk pencil (because it rubs out), carefully trace over a few key reference points in the fabric pattern. Not all of them, just a few. I'm using a purple chalk and you may be able to make out that I've traced a leaf and a flower just above where my hand is in this photo.
4. Now unpin everything. Place your pocket piece onto the remaining fabric and carefully line up your chalk marks with the pattern. It takes a teency bit of patience but not too much :) It's hard to see in the photo, but this stage is simpler because you only have one layer of tissue to see through. Cut your pocket out.
5. Rub the chalk marks off the pattern piece (I brushed them off with a dry microfibre cloth) and repeat the whole process for the other side of the garment.
This is my piped pocket all lined up on the shirt front ready to sew. You don't even have to match the placement lines - use the pattern matching to place them, it ought to be just right. This works just as well without piping, of course.
I thought about it but in the end decided I wasn't going to match the patterns on the pocket tabs - instead I cut them on the bias. But I wouldn't have not matched the pockets themselves as with the pockets and tabs unmatched, it would have churned up the front too much.
So, I hope that was useful for anyone who has ever wondered how to do the matching thang.
If your pattern is too faint to see through the two layers of tissue, you can trace your pattern onto the front pattern piece in something a little easier to see, then put the pocket piece over it and trace THOSE lines instead. But hey, I'd only do that if I really had to :)
This pattern is a one size 42, and the hubster is really a 40 at most, maybe even a 38. Thus, I have folded out a little width in the collar, collar stay, fronts, yokes and backs to reduce the width. It's an easy enough adjustment to make, but unlikely to work for dramatic decrease in size. And I've left the folds pinned as the peacocks are yet to come, and I just ordered ANOTHER fabric for him. I just hope I don't run out of this creative productivity phase before I get them all finished! :)
UPDATE: Turns out the excessive ease of modern patterns did not happen in 1980! The shirt fits but only just. So, I'm going to have to rethink the adjustments for the next one!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A camera, some cushions and a shirt walked into a bar...

Finally, a camera again! Just a little one, but it IS red. So it takes photos faster ;-)
Sorry peops but it is so hot here, I cannot be arsed bothered getting all prettied up in my new makes for you. In the meantime, by means of apology, here are the other things going down:
 Out in the Square is on 19 January - last year, I sold some cushions made of hunks and heroes fabrics, and could have sold twice as many. SO this year, I've MADE twice as many. In this higgledy piggeldey pile are 19 cushions. featuring cowboys, firemen, Hawaiian maidens, Frida Kahlo and many more. Lots of fun. And if they don't all sell, I will unstuff the remainder and pack them away for next year.

Aren't they a riot of colour!

Next up is the sensory experience of MrC's going-to-be-shirt. We found the green, ochre and black fabric in my fat quarter box, a perfect contrast. It looks a bit tooo black in this photo, but in real life, it does an excellent job of balancing this busy pattern and adding a touch of the masculine to it.
A longer shot taking in the pattern.
Seeing - thick lines, one size only, seam allowance marked in, takes me straight back to the first years of my sewing - WELL before this pattern was ever printed. Opening up this pattern and spreading it out was such a thrill!
Hearing - the instruction papers are so crisp, they make a wondrous rustle. The tissue rustles too, in a much deeper, more mature way than the young new patterns being born these days.
Smelling - Oh the smell! The dry, cuminy spicy scent of old patterns is one of my favourite smells. It smells of possibilities, like books do. things on paper are so exciting because they are only the beginning of the experience to come - the pattern yet to be made is like the story yet to be read.
Touch - the tissue is thicker, the paper thinner than new patterns. It is far easier to handle as it settles quickly, not floating all over the place like modern tissue. 
Taste - Aha! I am not nibbling on it to find out! Instead I will refer to taste in the sense of style, not flavour. This pattern is ornery, and yet it has the prettiest rose embroider transfer that I may have to try somewhere some time. With piping in the dark as well as cuff and collar linings, I think it will rock any party.
And now, to the cutting table! AKA the kitchen bench!! :)

This and That

Hello readers! I've lost the camera again! Mildly concerning if it doesn't turn up, but mostly really annoying as I can't post pics.
The star of this post is MrC. He has been renovating and painting in the shop after hours and before opening, transforming rather dated cream pegboard into white slat board - SUCH an improvement!
He is very much looking forward to his new shirts, and due to me thinking that today was the 19th not the 12th, I have all of my cushions made for next weekend's fair, and thusly, I have time to make his nibs a shirt.
I love it when that happens! Like being gifted a whole week of extra time.
Tonight we chose a contrast fabric for piping and lining the collar and stay -  a fat quarter from my stash, So, nothing is stopping me from starting except a strong desire to take photos of the process.
Also today, we received a copy of Love kills Slowly, a book of tattoo art cross stitch patterns. I've suggested that MrC might like to choose one as his first foray into the art. There's nothing like first hand experience to understand a skill, and counted cross stitch is a good one for Mr Math Brain.
So behold my beloved - working like a skivvy, stitching and dressing flamboyantly. And soon to be bald - he is playing John the husband who dies of leukaemia in the stage version of Calsndar Girls soon.
I shall miss his sideburns...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What's on my Ironing Board

Well, for a supposed sewing blogger who is always putting her tuppence in on others' blogs, I don't post much about my own sewing. Mainly because I don't get much time to sew. However, I am on a ROLL, people! I've set up on the dining room table downstairs as upstairs is like a sauna, and so it is super easy just to go do some sewing any time I'm home. My ironing board is, I feel, an appropriate place to take photos, given this blog is sent from my iRon ;-)
I've made two things already, but these projects are still WIP:
Ruffle neck smock in Bellagio pattern quilt cotton. I fell hard for this fabric and simply HAD to have a garment in it. I nearly finished it while away on retreat on 2-3 December, but it was way too big. Cut from a voile one I made a few years ago that could handle the extra volume, but this heavier cotton just couldn't.

 This frill is hand hemmed in a tiny roll. I love doing that stuff! I have cut it down considerably and just have to put the sleeves back in and the side seams and bottom hem and buttons, should be done by the time I go to bed this evening. Fingers crossed :)
A better shot of this fab fabric. I am no match for any black fabric with red flowers on it - half my wardrobe is based upon that singular passion. And with some nice olivey greens, mmmm!

Far less advanced - all that has happened so far is fabric prewashed and pattern ordered from afar, is MrC's shirts. The new trend for men's shirts to be in candy colored checks is so dull. My extroverted hubby who works in his own business half of the week loves a bit of flamboyance, and inspired by a combo of a dear friend's recent shirt purchases in Sydney and the wonderful Oobop's adventures with Butterick 5007, I've decided it is time to put my sewing machine where my mouth is and make the lovely MrC some shirts.
Honestly without Oobop's make of this scary pattern, I'd never look at it twice! It is winging its way here from afar as I type.
Exhibit #1, yummy autumny colours with enormous peacocks. It will be a fun extra challenge to match this big pattern across a shirt placket...
Exhibit #2 - A shabby chic Jacobean print by my much loved Jason Yenter. 
I have a few other summer weights to make up - a lighter version of the ruffle smock to truly replace the cool (in both senses) original, and a couple more maxi dresses. I am living in lightweight maxis in this crazy heat!
My other sewing task right now is a big pile of cushions for a fair next weekend. 5 down, 18 to go! arrgh!!
I just realised that all of these makes, cushions included, are in quilting cottons. Excellent quality one with a good drape, and perfect for these types of garments.
So what's on your ironing board, apart from scorch marks? ;-)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Plus Size Pattern Pyramid

STOP PRESS - BeaJay at On The Road to Sew Wear is launching a Plus Size Pattern Pyramid. Hooray, what a stunning idea!
So, if you left size 12-14 behind a while back (ahem), click here to find out more!

Image pinched from Beajay!

Looking back, then forward

 I am enjoying reading all of the end of year wrap ups and looking forward to this year posts on others' blogs, so I feel I should have a go too.
Looking Back
2012 has been the most profoundly life changing year of my whole life. It is the year I got a grip on what matters to me, and jumped in. Starting on 29 December 2011 when I went to buy 5 zips, and bought the whole shop. Well, it was at least the beginning of the process which on 1 April had us take over the keys.
 Our first artwork, starring Oobop's scissors!

So, what has this meant? It means working in partnership with David, MrC, which we love to do and which works really well. He is SO happy now, and that makes me happy too.
It means that every day magic happens. Yesterday, a young lady came in asking for a safety pin to stop her blouse gaping. We were not too busy so I offered her a kimono and a chair, and fixed it for her instead. While I reinforced her buttonhole, she told Madame O (who was visiting) and me about herself - she is an opera singer! We had a wonderful 20 minutes of sharing dreams and laughter, and made a new friend. This kind of thing happens every day, and I never tire of it :)
It means that I have only one day off, a Tuesday, and so I miss out on all kinds of social activities on the weekend. My friends have been amazingly supportive of this and have incorporated the shop into their regular visiting routines but it isn't the same and getting some time back for the people I care about is on my 2013 resolutions list.
 It is the year I got invited to do a TV segment. This was a huge extra workload on top of a very busy Christmas rush, but so worth it. It was lots of fun too, and has inspired me on all kinds of creative levels.
And what have I made?  Well, mostly crafty stuff for shop samples. However, lately I've been getting in some wardrobe makes - nothing like having to appear on national television to speed up the wardrobe replenishment process! :) (in fact, just now I put the netbook down and finished a top. Score one to FO ing UFOs!) I shall blog about these soon, promise!
Another big thing that happened was the Craft and Textile Lovers' Guide to Wellington. This was a major project and I have never blogged about it, sorry! I had the idea that maybe all of the groovy independent shops in Wellington could get together a map - and a quick ring around confirmed that there were takers. In three weeks, we went from an idea to 20,000 copies, just in time for the World of Wearable Arts show that brings thousands of textile fans into the area. It was great because now we all have a closer relationship than ever, and there is a healthy and happy attitude of co-opposition. And customers love it too. :)

Looking Forward
So far, I am finding 2013 really creative. We are overhauling the shop - new fittings, paint etc, while still trading which is great actually as people enjoy seeing it happen and pitch in ideas. This means we are finally putting our own stamp on it - and this I find inspiring. 
I am making new products and working on patterns, so finally some of our own product. Mostly this involves needle cases, pin cushions, knitting needle rolls and cases - that kind of thing. People want to buy them but noone supplies really nice ones so why not.
I am looking into other lines as well - it was always our intention to create our own products, but 2012 was too focussed on Keeping Calm and Carrying On. Now I have some headspace, and it feels wonderful. 
I may have more TV to make, and now I have tasted it, I have a few ideas in that direction. More as this unfolds. It also broke the vlog ice for me and I want to look into more of that.
E-commerce is also on the cards. Oooh!
This all sounds like it's shop related, but we two are inseparable. It is an expression of myself and  so it is the lynch pin for most of what I am doing in life. I hope that's OK!
Writing this reminds me how stingy I've been about sharing my makes and breakthroughs. Of course the paradox of blogging is that when there is plenty to blog about, there is less time to do so!
So, my resolutions for 2013 include:
  • Make more stuff for me. Clothes, quilts - things I want to make for myself and others, including MrC, for whom I have ordered two delicious shirt lengths of fabric!
  • Post about these makes. Catch up on the 2012 ones and keep up in 2013.
  • Learn more about my camera. Its complexity defeat me so far. And/or, buy a simpler one. And use it to capture more moments.


Shirt fabrics for MrC

 If you've kept reading this far, thank you for indulging me! And Happy New Year!