Creation: Alma the Third

Alma the third. I think I can call this a TNT pattern for me now. Perhaps TNT is just another way of saying “OK, I’ve muslined, fitted and perfected this pattern and I’m too lazy to do it to another pattern, so let’s just go for the one I’ve already fitted”. No? Just me, then.

This blouse needs a belt or big necklace.

This blouse needs a belt or big necklace.

Seriously, I am very pleased with the fit of my two Sewaholic Alma blouses (Starry and Striped) so why not make a third one? To change things up, this time I opted to make view C with long sleeves and rounded neckline. OK,OK, it’s not view C. I took the bodice from view A and just took out the notch. I don’t know if there are any other differences but it was easier than retracing a whole new bodice. Wasn’t that what TNTs were all about? I do think this neckline is a bit more narrow than a proper view C, but to me it doesn’t matter. Plus I could probably lower the darts just a little bit, but again it’s not that bad.

Back view. Great fit. (The skirt could have used some ironing, though)

Back view. Great fit. (The skirt could have used some ironing, though)

The construction of this blouse is pretty straight-forward. The most nerve-racking moment was sewing the sleeves, complete with cuffs and a placket – something I had never done before. I have tried and failed. And this time I *drumroll* failed again. I couldn’t figure out how to do the placket. It felt as if there was too much information stored in the one placket step in the instructions. With too much information the instructions became sparse. Anyway, after fiddling for a while trying to read slowly and thoroughly whilst trying to understand the pictures, I just stitched it down as it made sense to me. It’s not the right way, but it’s OK. I doubt anyone will notice.

Self-constructed placket. And buttons to match my grey/purple theme for fall.

Self-constructed placket. And buttons to match my grey/purple theme for fall.

I used the same bodice as I had modified before. FBA, adding length, grading gown. After I’d traced and cut the sleeves I realised that these sleeves were also drafted for a 5’4” person. As I stand at 5’6” I was a bit worried, but I hoped my short arms would take care of it and make it a non-issue. Plan B was just view B, to chop the sleeves off. Well if I ever doubted that I have proportionally short arms I now have been refuted. RTW reaches down to my fingers (I hardly ever wear gloves in the winter since the sleeve covers my hand) and this sleeve, drafted for someone 2” shorter than me is great length (or is it too long? I really don’t know how long sleeves are supposed to be). No plan B needed! I must say that whenever I wear an Alma I am filled with confidence and pride over my well-fitting blouse. I love wearing it!

It works tucked too, but then I definitely need something colourful to accessorise.

It works tucked too, but then I definitely need something colourful to accessorise.

The fabric is a cotton poplin that has been sitting in my stash for a while, 2 years I think. I did buy it to make shirt, not this one, so in the end it fulfilled its purpose. It is part of my FW 2014 sewing plan and it’s one of those basic pieces. Some of those are needed. I didn’t make the self-fabric belt for this blouse as I won’t belt it with a grey belt, it needs something flashier. I also think I need to find myself some long necklaces to go with this blouse – I’ll be hitting the jewelry section at the flea markets!

First piece of my sewing plan FW 2014 done! Now I really feel I need those fun skirts to match it with to avoid being boring. I have great hopes!

Are you a TNT person or do you make each pattern just once? How do you feel about making cake pieces? Do you have an unusual adjustment to make (such as needing to add 2” to a bodice and nothing to the sleeves)?

Creation: The Bow Top

As I mentioned previously I’m in a rut of low fabric confidence. I feel that I am getting the hang of wovens, but the knits continue to throw me off my game. I don’t know what different types of knit are, throw words like ITY, interlock and ponte at me and my expression will be that of a question mark. I also haven’t mastered finishing knits and combined with not using the right fabric, well, disaster strikes.

Frumpy Front

Frumpy Front

 

I bought the Simplicity 1539 as I love the bow top and think it’s a great twist on a basic knit top. In the remnant bin at the fabric store I found a piece of purple (favourite colour!) interlock, the right amount, and I set out to work on what I thought was a match made in heaven. I made sure to take my time cutting and lining up the pieces. However, in retrospect, some mistakes were made on my part

 

Wouldn't be so big in front and back with an FBA.

Wouldn’t be so big in front and back with an FBA.

Mistake 1 – No FBA.
Even though I sewed this in February, in the midst of my FBA awakening I lazily thought “well, it’s a knit, it stretches to fit me, right?” WRONG! Well, not completely wrong since it does fit over my chest, but it made the whole top bigger, the sleeves feel particularly big and pyjama-like. With an FBA I would have chosen a smaller size, that would have fitted better everywhere else and been adjusted for the bust.

Lesson learnt: Knits may be forgiving in fitting issues, but they can’t work miracles, especially not when too big. I must go down in size and adjust the bust properly.

 

Wobbly hem

Wobbly hem

Mistake 2 – Stretching the fabric

The overlap for the bow is, obviously, supposed to be hemmed. I did this on my regular machine. It could be that the settings were off or that I stretched the fabric while hemming and the hem turned all wobbly on me. It couldn’t be salvaged at all, but I still went ahead and put it in. It. Does. Not. Look. Good. I didn’t have enough fabric to cut a new piece, but at the very least I could have unpicked that hem or even cut it off to make a new one. But with the rest of the fit issues, it didn’t seem worthwhile.

Lessons learnt: I should learn my settings. And not pull the fabric.

 

Not flattering. At all. Like the colour though.

Not flattering. At all. Like the colour though.

I finished this top in February and have since worn it… once. For the photo shoot. It sits badly and the whole thing feels very pyjama. Even though interlock is a recommended fabric for this top, I can’t help but feel that it might be a little on the heavy side for this top. Or for any type of clothing require sleekness and shape (considering the fact that I know nothing, nothing, about knits I may very well be wrong. It’s just that this fabric doesn’t feel like something I would wear in a more formal (i.e. my casual office) setting). Bottom line: I need to learn more about knits, how they behave and fabric type to pattern matching. I’m not too keen on my matching interlock to this pattern.

 

I like the pattern. I have seen lovely versions of it. I am not ready to give up after one failed attempt. (I am not quite sure if I will give interlock a second try though). I like the colour of the fabric. I just need to get to know knits.

 

Do you acknowledge your sewing fails or are they destined to a dark place never to be spoken of again? I find that sewing blogs always are positive in makes, the bad ones are not blogged, but isn’t it true that we can learn from our mistakes?

(BTW, I know that the photography and styling totally sucks, but frankly my dears, I don’t give a damn as I’m not that into this top)

Sewing Plan Fall/Winter 2014

I have a plan, a seam to sew… (to be sung to the melody of ABBA’s I Have A Dream)

 

Yes, for the first time in my sewing career I have an actual sewing plan. This is huge, as I’ve before aimlessly have wondered through the fabric store isles, picking up whatever appeals to me without much thought if the fabric actually goes with anything in my wardrobe (resulting in my low fabric confidence). With the help of my stash, the new fabric catalogue and interesting patterns I present to you, my sewing plan for FW 2014! (Cheers are in order)

Bomullspoplin, stone - Copy

First up (which is pretty much completed as I type this) is another Alma blouse (number 1, number 2). Why change a winning, well-fitting concept? This time I made view C, with the long sleeves and rounded neckline. It has been made in a greyish poplin, which will make it a perfect base to match with prints.

Aubergine, partysatin - Copy

Next up; a skirt which I will make to match the Alma. The fabric comes from a lovely bolt of purple poly satin, it’s quite stiff, dubbed “Party Satin” in the store. I will make the Michelle skirt from Burdastyle, yes another pattern used for the third time (number 1, number 2). I will buy some matching fabric in grey to make the contrast bits and I hope that will make a cool outfit paired with the Alma blouse. Plus, making a skirt in shiny polyester I hope it will be, you know, actually wearable.

Svart Denim - Copy

Another skirt, I do have a need for them this fall. And another skirt, another re-make. This one will be a black denim skirt inspired by the lovely and inspirational Zooey Deschanel (the skirt looks very much like Colette’s Ginger, but I am not paying that price for an A-line skirt. Just sayin’). The Daily Mail has dubbed this a pencil skirt. Is my fashion terminology way off? To me that is not a pencil skirt. In that spirit, that it’s not a pencil skirt, I will use Burda 10-2011-119, modified of course, I used this pattern for my Lessons Learnt Skirt. I will remove the pockets and copy Zooey’s (I hope this works out, it could be disastrous otherwise). I’ll leave the waistband as is, I daren’t try to redraft it.

Jade satin - Copy

Hopefully, the fall and winter will have some parties to it. Cause if this dress meets my vision, it will be my go to party dress for the season. It’s Gather’s Mortmain dress, which I won over at The Monthly Stitch, in a teal satin. It has a bit of stretch to it (cotton/lycra blend) and I think if I get it right it will be both comfortable and gorgeous. Yes, I have high hopes. I have made my first muslin and it needs some more work. I’m hoping to finish this for Frocktober. I have bought a black silver metallic zipper for the back and am now pondering if I should buy some silver metallic thread to do matching decorative topstitching. Decisions, decisions…

The projects above are those for which I have fabrics and patterns. For the next three projects in my plan I have ordered patterns, but I have no fabrics. Therefor they are subject to change as I haven’t felt the fabrics yet, I always want to feel and touch before committing.

First up: another blouse. I have realised that I am more drawn to blouses than jersey tops so I will make those. I have ordered New Look 6945 and for my version I will do view C, the long-sleeved version. I really like this floral cotton so I hope it feels as lovely, cause I’m sure it will make a perfect fall blouse!

And yes, skirt number three. It may be a bit juvenile, but I really like this purple twill. The pattern will be decided based on weight but if it works I am leaning towards the Olga skirt by Jenny Hellström.

Finally I will venture in to new territory, blazers. I have never ever sewn a blazer or hardly ever wore one, so I thought I’d ease myself into the concept and world of blazers. I’ve ordered Simplicity 4032 and although it says it’s for fleeces I plan to do it in a sweatshirt fabric. I haven’t decided on which fabric I’ll use since I really do want to feel them, avoid getting a too bulky blazer. Plus many of the fashion sweatshirts have polyester, which makes me want to feel them even more. I am suspect of polyester. My plan is to make view D, which is oddly placed first. If it’s a success I can see myself making some of the other views as well, but probably never in fleece.

There you have it; my FW sewing plan for 2014. I will stick to this list, using The Monthly stitch challenges to guide me. The only interruptions I’ll accept are sewing for the kids. Seven pieces in total which I think I can mix and match. Getting ready for a well-dressed autumn and winter.

Do you set a plan for your sewing or is it freestyle all the way? Are you drawn to the same looks/colours as me or is my plan totally out of your style? How would your plan look?

AFSM: August 2014

Another month has passed and it’s time for my second installment in my Away From Sewing Machine Series. As you are about to learn, much of the things I do away from the sewing machine revolve around the kids. But most of the times they are so darn cute that I can’t help it. Plus I want to get them involved in doing what we do, not just us parents getting involved in their stuff.

2014-08-09, Skrea (42) - Copy

The first week of August was vacation. I had almost five weeks of vacation this year, soooo relaxing! The last weekend was spent at the in-laws. For the last evening of our vacation we sat on their porch, with a glass of wine, planning our winter trip to Malaga, Spain. The perfect way to end our vacation. Before that the kiddo was out in the back yard, playing with his grandma and the ever so popular bubbles.

2014-08-09, Skrea (23)

As for little E, she started walking in May and hasn’t stopped since. Seriously, she has amazing walking capabilities. One evening she walked what must have been 1 km. On those little legs! So a common site at the playground, or anywhere else for that matter, is her walking away. We must keep an eye on her at all times. It’s quite fun when she walks far off from us, under our watch, and other people wonder if it’s a lost little toddler. Nope just a fearless toddler who loves to walk! (note that she is in her very cool mum-made Cassette Leggings)

2014-08-23, Dalby (9) - Copy

For the last part of August it was back to work. It’s the same old, same old. Little E has begun in pre-school/daycare with her older brother and so far it’s going great. It’s a pre-school with focus on nature so they’re outside a lot. Given her enjoyment to walk and being outdoors she loves it! We will have setbacks I’m sure, but so far, so good. We had friends stay over for a weekend and we made them work for food. The dessert planned was blackberry pie so we all set out to pick the blackberries. Everyone helped, although I think most of what the three kids picked ended up being eaten right away.

My August when I wasn’t sewing; work, friends and family, with dreams and plans of travelling. The perfect mix.

 

Sew For A Change – August

For the month of August the theme in Sew For A Change was recycling. We were to set ourselves three goals on how to improve our recycling. I must admit that it was difficult to find three challenges as we already have so much in order (we have organised a great system, the kiddo knows what to do (or asks if he’s unsure), our food waste is turned into biogas by the waste company). But I wanted those ten points… My challenges were:

 

  • Recycle textile

I did not know that textiles could be recycled. So far for me they have only gone in the waste bin. Another lesson learnt during Sew For a Change! I have not investigated if our recycling station has textile recycling (since everything is picked up at home, we hardly ever go there) . However, I did learn that there’s a home décor store, Hemtex, who has textile refashion and gives a voucher to be used in the store on your next purchase for each bag you hand in (50 SEK on a 300 SEK purchase). As someone in the Facebook group mentioned, I don’t think they considered a bunch of sewers seeing this. I have now organized (not very well at the moment, two bags in my sewing room, one with scraps and small bits to go to textile recycling and one with bigger pieces to be donated to the kids’ pre-school (if they want it, otherwise it will be recycled the old fashioned way).

Coolest cassette leggings for coolest toddler

Coolest cassette leggings for coolest toddler

 

  • Refashion usable textiles

You know those garments you’ve made that you for some reason don’t really like or have no more use of? We all have those, right? Even if I don’t want to wear them myself, there’s something difficult about throwing out the clothes I’ve made with my own two hands. However, I found no difficulties in chopping them up for clothing for the kids. It was quite liberating actually, making a new home for my discarded clothes. The nursing top, along with the remnants of the fabric, became the coolest leggings ever for Little E, she also got a new fall cap in the dress fabric. I have always taken out zips and buttons, now if I discard something I will see if I can make use of the fabric as well. Also, I cut off a torn pair of the kiddo’s jeans to make shorts. As for the back of the cut off jeans, I made patches for another pair of torn jeans. Recycling at its best!

Jeans recycling

Jeans recycling

 

  • Reduce waste.

Even if we have a pretty good recycling system, it is always better to reduce waste altogether. In order to reduce glass waste and transport I have filled the freezer with blackberries, for my winter needs of berries and I have pickled beets (ecological and very locally produced (our backyard)). It was all put in jars and containers we already had, thus reducing waste. I have bought myself a moon cup, let’s I hope I’ll like it as much as many others! I held on to the plastic bags that the kiddo’s underwear came in, perfect for hanging on the desk while sewing and using for threads. Before throwing something out in the future I will see if I can find other use for it.

Yum, blackberries!

Yum, blackberries!

 

As for shopping: Nothing! To be honest I don’t miss browsing the chain stores anymore. I don’t want to look like everyone else. However, I find thrift stores extremely inspiring and it’s a good thing they’re quite inaccessible for me otherwise I’d shop till I dropped, which is not the point of a consumption challenge. Now I feel I’m at a point where I can dress fun and varying, while adding pieces one by one through sewing. Thrift shopping has allowed me to try new silhouettes and shapes and has given me a clearer view of what I want and wear. Win-win! I also gotten into buying household items at flea markets, especially things that I don’t have an urgent need for (on my fall list I have lemonade pitcher, a cake plate, pearl necklaces (for crafting pearls) and kitchen towels to make fabric napkins).

 

My new thread collector, used to hold underwear

My new thread collector, used to hold underwear

Ingoing points: 48 p

Star challenge: +10 p

Outgoing points: 58 p

One last confession before I leave you. In my teens I used to watch The Bold And The Beautiful. Yes. Therefore I cannot think about recycling without thinking of Sally.

Creation: Cake Tee

Happy  first birthday to The Monthly Stitch! I may have just joined in June for Indie month and have only posted once, but I wanted in on the celebrations as well. We were tasked to sew Cake, in any interpertation we wished.

Starry Cake Tee (1)

Comfy casual Tee

I decided to use the opportunity to break my Cake virginity, by sewing the free Tee pattern. I had never sewed a Cake pattern before and being on team FBA I was intriguied by the sizing system (I have the Tiramisu pattern in my stash, but haven’t sewn it…yet). For this pattern you base the shoulders and kimono sleeves on bust width and then you choose your own length and hip measurements and play connect the dots. Ah, childhood memories.

After a Twitter exchange with Steph of Cake, I decided to take in the side seams a bit, so the Tee would get some more shape and not just being straight from bust to hip. I was a bit worried about the fabric bunching up under the arm, but it wasn’t that bad.

No fabric bunching!

No fabric bunching!

Speaking of the fabric, this one is lovely, let me tell you! It’s a cotton jersey from Stoff och Stil’s organic collection in cotton and lycra (too bad the other fabrics from the collection are quite juvenile). It is incredibly soft to wear and a joy to work with now that I’ve mastered the overlocker to the extent where I can actually use it (still need to learn about thread tension and differential feeding better).

I usually don’t wear t-shirts to work, but hey there are weekends too and this t-shirt will be perfect for lounging around the house, chasing the kids around. Plus I’ve already established that I need to up my lounging wear.

Finished with hem band at the bottom

Finished with hem band at the bottom

I enjoyed the customable aspect of the pattern. I made the v-neck and was a bit confused by the instructions to do it, mine ended up way wrong. I don’t know if the instructions are lacking or I was just lost in translation (even though I’m pretty fluent in English, sometimes I get lost). But still I liked the pattern and it is perfect for using small pieces of jersey. It is also possible that the Tee might be a little too tight on me, but I don’t mind. I wore it to the kids’ pre-school when I visited with Little E and the kids there didn’t seem to mind either.

Low Fabric Confidence

A few weeks ago Heather B wrote a post about a dress that wasn’t really her. She described her in post her inspiration and modifications for her dress. In the end she got a dress with many technical skills and it fitted her like a glove, but she wasn’t happy with it because she didn’t feel good in it. Somewhere along the line a cute dress had become too cutesy dress with too many distractions and a shape that wasn’t her.

I can relate.

Sewing has kind of become a cult, of which I am part. I no longer feel that sewing is my hobby, somewhere along the line it became a lifestyle. For me that has meant a much more conscious way of thinking about building a wardrobe in terms of colour and style, as well as a big turn-off towards the fast fashion industry and must-haves. I have turned to sewing and thrifting as my main resources of clothing. I have realised that I don’t look like anyone else, style wise, that I don’t know what’s in trend and I’ve come to accept this and embrace my own look.

So, why is it that I made a dress in colours that don’t look good on me and in a shape that is totally unflattering for me? I remember buying that fabric. It was in the home textile department, so I was a bit unsure of it, but it felt soft enough to use as a dress. I was just getting into using colours more and this seemed colourful enough without being too much. I liked the fabric, I still do, but it’s not suitable for adult apparel. As cushion or maybe even children’s clothes it would come to its best.

And the pattern? Ugh! Was I so eager to get a quick project in, joining a sew-along that I completely forgot what shapes I should wear. I was feeling optimistic, that by adding a belt all problems would go away, but in the end I feel as if I was delusional more than anything else. And it shows in the rushed sewing, for example the shoulder straps on the back pieces are wider than those of the front giving my shoulder seams a discrepancy. At the point of sewing the shoulder seams I was already over this project (subconsciously) and made no effort to fix it.

You know you don’t like a project when you don’t bother fixing issues like this

What does this tell me? I need to make things I like, I need to focus when fabric shopping, I need to not jump at any opportunity to join a sew-along, a contest, whatever, if it’s not something I would do anyway. There. If I didn’t already have plans to make a summer sundress, I shouldn’t join a summer sun dress sew-along. I didn’t join Sew Dolly Clackett or Oonapallooza as I wouldn’t get wearable pieces out of it. I should stick to my guns, which I usually do well. I need to see a pattern made up several times before I buy it, I stalk the fabric store website before visiting making sure I like the colours, in the store it’s all about texture. Also, I will be more devoted to The Monthly Stitch. That will allow me to join a community of sewers while still having guidelines to what to sew. Guidelines that are wide and not very restrictive, letting me do things that are me and still fit in with a theme.

When I went to the fabric store recently I was haunted by my past fabric mistakes. I saw plenty of pretty fabrics, including the infamous tape measure fabric, but I couldn’t see them made up as garments. In my mind they were all too boring, too much or not me. I need to get some fabric confidence back!

Now, I’m awaiting the release of fall fabrics, perhaps that can get me back in the saddle!