Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Alexander McQueen jacket

I dug this one out of the back of my wardrobe to show today. I love it, but the colour makes it a bit difficult to wear with many things. (I've always been a bit guilty of creating wardrobe orphans. I really need to plan more.)

The pattern is available as a free download from Showstudio, and has to be printed out and taped together. I think the instructions have been improved a bit, which is great because they were a bit sparse when I made this!

The front is interesting....

....but all the drama is at the back
I should have pressed this before I photographed it. Oops.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dear Mary Nanna

Reading the comment you left on my last post, I think I know the pants you mean. I haven't worn them for ages! I'd almost forgotten them, which is sad because I really like them. I made the top that goes with them too. And here it is:

Finding the exact pattern details for this would entail me moving a bunch of stuff off the chest my Burdas are kept in, so might have to wait till I can be bothered or someone asks ;-)

I was blog surfing a week or so ago and came across a reference to the free Alexander McQueen jacket pattern download. I made that a while ago too! I thought I might post a pic of it now, and have a rummage through my wardrobe for some of the more interesting or unusual things I've made to show as well. Anyone interested in a bit of show and tell?

Editted to add - I couldn't help myself, and had to go and find the exact pattern details. I'm pretty sure I found the right mag (how many designs have "galloons" I wonder?!) and it's actually Sept '03, #137 for the pants, and #136 for the top above. Now I want to make that top again.....

Monday, March 29, 2010

I give up!

I'll have to content myself with being a decent seamstress and budding designer, because nobody is ever going to mistake me for a photographer.

My latest attempt was to photograph the new dress I'd spent a decent portion of Saturday making for Isabella. I loved the last one I'd made so much that I HAD to make another one for her. Unfortunately there wasn't enough fabric to make it the length I wanted, so this is about 5cm shorter than it should be. To my (overly picky) eye the proportions are just slightly off, but that may be because I know how long it's supposed to be. It's a size two, which should give her plenty of growing room, and it'll look cute as a tunic over pants.

Isabella wasn't keen to cooperate on Sunday morning so we got Georgia in on the act to encourage her to stand still and look cute. Normally she beams away at anyone who smiles at her but this was all I got - right after I snapped this she took off and refused to play nicely. Overexposed, dodgy focus and slightly petulant expression on my model. I can hear the advice not to quit my day job! Anyway, at least you can see the dress on a real child, and I love it even more. I get a huge buzz from seeing MY design, made from MY pattern, drafted from MY blocks and it's just what I wanted it to look like.
I then figured that since I had the camera out and Nicholas was wandering around in his new pants that I could try again. He was quite happy to stand next to Daddy for exactly as long as it took to take one photo. Much cuter expression than he had in my last attempt to photograph these pants!

ps, he's now three for three on the pants. Worn them three times, made Mummy scrub and napisan them three times. I'm not sure if he's protesting the photography or the pants themselves?
And now I have to rant on a totally unrelated topic - mis-labelled fabric! I bought what I am sure was labelled 100% cotton from the sale table at Spotlight. It didn't feel lovely, but I thought that might just be the finish in the fabric. Till I went to press it and it SHRIVELLED under the iron! A quick burn test confirmed that it has a very healthy proportion of synthetic in it. I'm not great at interpreting the results of burn tests to determine the exact fibre content, but I do know that a hard lump aint a natural fibre! It's pretty though, so I'm going to give it a proper pre-shrink in the washing machine and dryer and see how it turns out. It may end up being used for pattern trials because I refuse to waste fabric.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The vagaries of photography and children.

I don't feature in a lot of photos - I'm almost always the one behind the camera. But as the kids have got older they've been allowed to have a go. Georgia (who is 10) has always been one to rush on ahead without preparing first, so the photos she takes are sometimes blurred or have bits of the subject cut off. However, purely by accident she has taken some absolutely beautiful photos where the blur only adds to the photo. (The one above is currently our computer's desktop, and I absolutely love it. Even though it did force me to notice that my Jalie top is hanging very unattractively and should be taken in if I'm going to keep on wearing it!)

She also took this one of me and the twins playing with duplo. We play with duplo a lot. It's just as well I really like the stuff because every morning they drag out the box. So it's kind of nice to have a photo of something I do so much with them. (Same Jalie top, different day.)

And then I decided that I'd like to photograph pants I made for the twins a couple of weeks ago. I didn't get a snap the first time they wore them because Nicholas - well, let's just say the result required a bit of scrubbing and a soak in Napisan before a trip through the washing machine! So this time I thought I'd try again, but I did it before the big kids (ie, the twin wranglers) got home from school, so it was just me. I should know better.

Isabella is remarkably amenable to being told to go and stand by the window so I can take her picture.

Then Nicholas got in on the act. He wanted Isabella's book. Or cup maybe, despite having his own in his hand!

Being Nicholas he really wanted it. Usually he just wanders over and removes the desired item from her hands, but occasionally she tries to hang onto it. Despite the disparity in their sizes, he is most definitely The Boss. (He looks a LOT shorter than her here, but he has bent knees. Really she's only a little bit taller.)

At this point I finally noticed the drying rack and moved it so I could keep trying for the Perfect Photo. At which point what little cooperation I'd been getting finished.

And shortly after that Nicholas did the same thing in his trousers. He hardly ever squelches out of his nappy, so I can only assume that he was striking a blow for unwilling photographic subjects everywhere! Oh well, next time....
Just for the record, Nicholas' trousers are my own draft in a size 1 with added length, and I just love love love the fit on him. I added a very simple dog embroidery to one leg from one of my Ottobre mags. Isabella's pants I'm less pleased with. They're an Ottobre legging pattern I've used for pants for her before, but since I was using a stretch woven rather than knit I added to the width, and added too much. There is too much fabric around her bum, but there's also growing room in the length, so they may fit better later (although I rather doubt it). I love the leg shape of these, so I might just use the Ottobre pattern on my own draft for her size and see how that works. Isabella of course doesn't care. She's only 22 months old and hasn't realised that Mum made her pants that Make Her Bum Look Big.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It came!

I made my first auction purchase from Trademe last week (I made one other purchase a few months ago, but that was accepting a fixed price offer - this was the stessful kind!) and today my purchase came! I got this very pretty parcel in the mail:

After cutting into one very well wrapped parcel (no stray raindrops were going to get into this) I got to this:
I like Winifred Aldrich's books. And now I have editions of the whole family. Oops, glare on the books.

Being me, I got the fourth edition out of the library last weekend so that I could compare the two and see if my very own (insert "Mine, all mine!" evil genius type hand-rubbing cackle here) copy is missing anything important.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Baby trench part 7: Hems and stuff.

So where had I got to? Oh yes, topstitching the armhole seam. I decided to get clever here and instead of just binding the seam as intended I'd use binding to cover the seam allowances and still topstitch them. I wanted a lot of topstitching on this coat, and the armhole seam needed it, in my opinion.

And here it is. Much better than not done I think. Not sure about those puckers in the sleeve - I swear they weren't there when I sewed it in!

On the inside it looks like this. I was a bit generous when I applied the binding, so there was just a bit too much and it went a little wonky in places. I can live with it. That's what you get for making stuff up as you go along! This had to be pinned on the inside and sewn from the outside, removing pins as I went. I really made it hard for myself, so next time (hell yeah there'll be a next time!) I'll do a bit of thinking first. It helps, I find. (Oh, and I'm showing you the tidiest bit of course. There is some way wonkier binding on the other sleeve!)

And on to the hem. Another thing better thought about before you start. It would have saved my any number of headaches if I'd done some prep work before I got here, but again, that's what you get when you make stuff up as you go along.

I did a very cheaty hem. The outer fabric is very thin, and could use a bit of support. The lining is comparitively much bulkier and needed to be minimised. So I cut away 4cm from the bottom of the lining (my hem allowance) and folded the hem up over it - stabilised and beefed up hem, smooth and lump free. Since the lining was hanging very slightly below the outer fabric (due to turn of cloth at the upper end of the coat) there was a built in ease allowance of just a smidge to prevent the lining pulling up the outer. If they'd been level before I trimmed the lining I'd have trimmed less. The lining needs to be just a bit longer than the outer.

Here's the lining cut away.

Here's the facing folded back and sewn to give a clean front edge.

And then it got fun - I had to work the lining under the facing and make everything lie flat. If I'd worked out what I was doing before I did it I could have done some preliminary pressing which would have made the whole job a lot easier. I also had to go back and edgestitch the front facing. That was almost impossible with sleeves already in!

It looks so innocent doesn't it? All neat and flat and tidy. Yeah, there were a few curses uttered to get it like that! At some point I topstitched the front egde too. Obviously after I took this pic.

I hate making excuses, but by this point I was pretty over it. I had an utterly crap nights sleep last night with both twins playing up - on (fortunately) rare occasions they set each other off and it is Bloody Horrible. Last night was one of those nights. I didn't get to sleep till just after 4am. So now that you all feel nice and sorry for me, here's my sewn hem from the inside (before pressing). Again, vanity decrees that I show the best bit!

Which gets me to the so-nearly-finished-I-can-taste-it! point - only buttons to go!!!

I was showing David my progress last night. He is always pretty interested in what I'm doing, and can follow quite well when I rabbit on about some obscure point or other, but I try not to inflict my enthusiasm on him too much. So I haven't given him chapter and verse on this coat (saved that for here). So he hasn't really seen it that much. When I showed it to him last night (after I'd sewn on the 2nd sleeve and topstitched both of them) he said "That's Isabella's size isn't it?" Um, yeah. We might not be selling this one! I tried it on her very quickly this morning and it fits just as a size 2 should - still a bit big on her, but wearable. Might have to make another one.....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Bayby trench part 6: Lining

Ok, so now I'm on to the lining. I needed to cut the sleeves from satin because I didn't have enough of the plaid cotton, but I like satin lined sleeves anyway as it is so much easier to slide them on over clothing. Dealing with a small child this is even more necessary!

To create a pattern for the sleeve lining I folded up the hem allowance on the pattern pieces and traced the stitching line with a dotted line, then added seam allowance and drew that with a solid line. Thanks to the sunlight on my desk it's hard to see the folded up allowance on the larger piece, but it does show up on the smaller one.

When pinning the pattern to the fabric I just overlapped the two pieces along their seamlines and folded up the bottom to my new marked cutting line. Couldn't be easier!

Here's where it gets interesting. I have long been a fan of sewing the sleeve seam, sewing the lining seam, and then joining them in the round. I knew it gives a flatter finish, but hadn't thought about why till last night when I stumbled across two brilliant blog posts regarding dominant seams. One from the ever-informative Fashion Incubator and one from The Bitchin' Stitch . I have always preferred to sew my seams the way Kathleen does it, but seeing her examples was still an eye opener!

Anyway, sewing small tubes together can be fiddly so I've figured out a method that works well for me. Simple really, I place my pins perpendicular to the seam on the outside, and sew on the inside (since that little tube won't fit over my free arm.) The pins don't catch on the inside of the tube as I'm sewing it this way, and I just find it easier. If anyone has a better idea, I would dearly love them to share!

When finished and pressed the sleeve looks like this. Nice and smooth and flat.

On to the lining for the body. I cut the back lining from the same pattern as the coat, so it needs to have a bit chopped out for the facing. To do this I marked a new cutting line on the opposite side of the stitching line on the facing piece, folded carefully along it and pinned it in place on the back. I don't bother trying to pin the folded up edge flat, because around a curve this gets fiddly. I just crease on the line and let it stand up. Then I just cut around it, following the creased line, starting at the folded edge (on the left). The fabric there is the pleat allowance for the back.

Dominant seams come into play here too. I'd joined my facings before attaching the lining and ended up edgestitching the back facing after I'd sewn the lining to it to help it sit nice and flat.

I'm ignoring the bottom edge of the facing/lining and hem for the moment while I move on to the sleeves. I have a lot of layers of fabric at the sleeve seam, so I basted each edge first. Why make life hard when a couple of extra minutes will ensure each layer stays where it should?

In a coat for myself I'd have sewn the sleeve (without the lining) to the body of the coat and then slipstitched the sleeve lining over it for a perfect finish, but this is a coat for a two year old. I'm going to bind the armhole seam, which will look lovely, but is easy and quicker to do.

And here's the bit I was dying to get to - one set-in sleeve means I can almost see how the coat is going to look!

After I set in the other sleeve I still have quite a lot of finishing to do - the wrinkly looking neck edge is bothering me, but won't be topstitched till I've organised the hem.
But it's getting there!

Beangirl, you ask if I sleep. The answer for last night is "No, not really" but that was thanks to one small person who thought that midnight till 3.45am was playtime. I'm so used to nights like this that I can carry on sewing regardless. I'm too tired to do the vacuuming though.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Baby trench part 5: The collar

Now that I've got the embellishment sorted I've been steaming away on the baby trench! Today's mission was the collar. I used the same folding trick described in this post to give the turn-of-cloth allowance to the upper collar. (Why does my camera focus so much better on this type of photo than one looking directly down I wonder?)

See those dark dots on my fingernail? I hit myself with a hammer as I was hammering in domes on something. What makes it irritating is that it was THE SAME DAY as I'd cleaned the last of the last one out of the same fingernail. I may not be accurate, but at least I'm consistent ;-)

Just before I forget to mention it, I interfaced only one piece of the upper collar so it stays softer, but both pieces of the collar stand to give it the needed support. I used a nice soft interfacing, because I really don't want this ending up feeling like cardboard!

After the upper collar was sewn I sewed it into the stand. Since the stand was to be inserted between the body of the coat and the facing I topstitched it at this point. Look how nice and wrinkly it looks - if I'd stuck with my original draft it would have been a flat one piece collar. This lovely shapely two piece one gives me great satisfaction.

Next up was sewing the shoulder seams. Since the flaps are lined with a fairly bulky fabric I trimmed that away in the seam allowance after I'd stitched the shoulder seams but before I'd topstitched them. (And another lovely sharp photo. I clearly need to have words with my camera)

To attach the collar I like to pin a lot, and perpendicular to the seam so that I can sew very close to the pins, over them if necessary. It makes sewing a convex curve to a concave one more controllable I think.

I usually sew the collar to the body of the coat first, then sew the facing to that. Since the curves have been anchored together I can use fewer pins and place them parallel to the seam. I sew this from the body side of the coat, sewing right over my first line of stitching.

A quick check to make sure I don't have any puckers in my seam.....

And on to clipping the concave curves (and a bit of the collar's convex curve too) so everything will lie smoothly. I always offset my clips as it helps give a smoother curve when turned, and there's always at least one layer of seam allowance in any given spot. You can see the clips offset in this photo.

By this time my sister was about to arrive for a visit, so sewing was over for the day. I tossed the coat on a hanger so I could get the first glimpse of how it will look when finished.

I am so happy with my proper collar!
Since I took this photo I've sewn on the belt loops, made the belt, and sewn and topstitched the side seams (I like topstitched side seams). But there is no way my camera will play nicely at night, so that's all for today folks!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Baby trench part 4: Lining pattern and embellishment.

I seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment! After mulling over embellishment options for weeks I found the answer in a book I already own. So I'm out of excuses for procrastination! I needed to make the lining patterns so that I could cut the front and back lining pieces so that I could see how much I had left, since I wanted to use the same lining to line the front and back flaps. Just for a tiny extra pop if anyone peeps.

My photos are terrible - my camera is pretty basic, and doesn't like to focus under artificial light, and I was doing this yesterday evening. This one is the best I could do to illustrate making the front lining pattern. It's very straightforward anyway, so it's no big deal.

First I folded the front pattern piece on it's fold line, and lay tracing paper (good old cheap lunch wrap from the supermarket) over it. I just traced around the front, excluding the facing. I am always very careful to trace the stitching line, not the cutting line, and remember to add seam allowance to this edge. Anyone like to guess why I am now so careful about this step?

After adding it's seam allowance and cutting it out, here it is. I cheated for the back and just used the existing pattern piece. It will be strategically trimmed during construction.

Having cut these pieces from my chosen lining I was able to cut linings for the flaps from the scraps, which was handy since I'd embellished them already. I used exactly the same technique explained in this post and this post.

I'm annoyed with how the colour looks in these photos. The fabric is much more sandy than grey, and the contrasting fabric is the same burgundy I used on the external facings on my pleated dress.
I also made up the front pockets and sewed them on. When laid out as they will be when constructed, the front looks a little like this:

Still lots to do, but I'm liking how it's looking so far. I did draft this one in Isabella's size, just in case....

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Baby trench part 3: Assembling the sleeve.

For some reason I've been avoiding the baby trench. Probably because I know I want to add something to one of the front flaps, but I'm not yet sure what I want that to be. Since flap assembly is pretty close to the top of the construction order, that leaves me a bit stuck. So I decided to make the sleeves and post a Lesson-I-Learnt-The-Hard-Way-Many-Years-Ago for the benefit of anyone else who might need it! (Being almost entirely self-taught, most of what I now know was learnt the hard way.)

So, sleeves. I'd added a purely decorative back seam at the drafting stage, so step one was to sew front and back sleeve together and topstitch the seam. Then I added carriers for the sleeve belts. This very crappy photo (sorry, I didn't realise how fuzzy it was till I'd moved on about four steps) shows the carriers sewn on, and you can still just see the chalk lines I'd drawn on to position them. The hem is folded up to give an idea of the proportions of the finished sleeve.

Now for the lesson bit. If you insert the sleeve belt and anchor it at the raw edges of the seams while flat, when you sew the seam and turn the sleeve right side out, it will look like this:

Not the end of the world, and if you want a bit of pulling in there to slightly bring the sleeve in, then that's fine. I, however, being way too particular about these things, want it to sit flat when the sleeve is finished.

To do that is very simple. I anchored it at one end and folded over the seam allowance as though the seam had been sewn, and held it with a bulldog clip (I don't want to do any unnecessary pinning of this coated fabric). Then I folded the sleeve and wriggled the belt so that it sat flat, and did the same thing for the other seam allowance. As shown in this photo the belt is now sitting flat, as it will be on the finished sleeve.

(Please also note how I shaped the seam so that it will line up with itself when the sleeve is sewn. After I'd drafted the pattern and cut the pieces I realised that that was totally unnecessary - the seam has no shaping and doesn't have to line up with itself, so it could have been straight all the way to the edge. DOH! I do make work for myself sometimes. Lets just pretend that it is actually a Very Important Mark Of Quality that this seam does this shall we? Thanks for your cooperation.)

When you open the sleeve out flat you can just see the required excess length in the belt as a bump in the middle. Because I like to be sure about things, I anchor the other end as well before sewing the sleeve seam.

And when the sleeve seam is sewn and the sleeve is turned right side out and the hem is folded up, it looks like this:

Not a big deal, but it satisfies my "Everything Just Sew" anal nature!

Now I have a feeling I wll be unable to focus on anything else till the book I just bought from Trademe arrives - I got a copy the the third edition of Winifred Aldrich's Metric Patterncutting for Womenswear for $20! I already have the latest edition of her childrenswear book and the 2nd edition of her menswear book, but no womenswear ones. I know she's up to the 5th ed of this book but they're all worth having, so I am Very Happy Indeed, and now will have to wait probably till late week for my internet payment to show up the the seller to post the book to me. Naturally this means I will be unable to concentrate on anything else in the meantime!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In which I change my blog's title to "Dear Beangirl...."

I am enormously, immeasurably flattered by anyone who says they Must Have one of my designs. So, since I was going to draft it again anyway (I find drafting easier than grading a lot of the time), I photographed the process. With very-slightly-malicious intent. Can't WAIT to see yours made up Beangirl.

But before we get to that, here's the obligatory shot of my-latest-creation. It's exactly the same pattern as the blue one from a couple of posts ago, which my aunt has taken back to England for her god daughter. (So now I'm international!) I like these rather rustic colours. I may add buttons to the front yoke.

Anyway, on to the patternmaking. This dress (the one in my previous post, not the one above) is based on a bodice block. (For the record, this is a size 80 flat body block from my favourite book)
The basic block is lengthened to desired finished length, which I decided would be 5cm below the knee.

1cm is trimmed off armhole and neckline edges. I wanted it to be suitable to wear something under, or not.

A cut line for the side pleats is drawn in. I placed this exactly half way along the shoulder line, and perpendicular to it till that line was about 6cm away from the CF, (No science to this, just my choices) then ran it parallel to the CF.

A second cut line was marked in about where I thought it should go - closer to the side seam, roughly equal distance from the first cut line.

After cutting the first line to completely separate the pieces, and the second leaving a tiny hinge, I taped them to a new piece of paper. I drew a new CF line angled so that it was 5cm from the paper's edge at the top, and 6cm at the bottom. The original CF was placed on this line.

I then drew a line angled from the waistline (on the working pattern, not the new paper) by 5 degrees (which I'd worked out by measuring the angle the waistline had shifted to on the first piece) and spread the pieces by 11cm. Taping down the 2nd piece at that point I just swung out the third by a bit to give it a nice line.

At this point it looks like this:

Unfortunately some of my lines are pretty faint and hard to see in this photo. Sorry about that.

After taking off the working pattern pieces and adding seam allowances and such, the finished pattern piece looks like this.
This is for the back, but the front is exactly the same - I made the front by tracing the back, swapping the neckline for the right one and raising the point to which the middle pleat is sewn. (I was going to photograph the facings as I drafted them, but my camera batteries died and I couldn't, but facings are pretty straightforward anyway.)
So there you go Beangirl, have at it!