Monday, January 30, 2012

Measure twice, cut HOW many times?

My sister and a couple of her friends commissioned me to make a jean style jacket for another friend's new baby. They wanted a size two (to grow into), and for it to have a hood so you'd see some of the very cute lining they'd chosen. No problem I said, and began by drafting a hood from Aldrich and using that as a guide to graft on the hood from Jalie 2795, which I really like.

I was not happy with the height of my draft, and added height to the Jalie hood. Fortunately I have a pretty good size two fit model at hand and he was most obliging in modelling for me and allowing me to photograph the results as I tweaked the pattern.

Here's toile #3, mostly covers his head, but still pulling up the back and not coming far enough forward.

And toile #4, finally happy with it after redrawing the back neckline to make it sit lower and further forward.

Very concerned about WHY my original draft was so short when I've always had great success drafting from Aldrich I consulted all my other drafting texts, to no avail, before going back to Aldrich and my original draft and re-checking my work (which I do as I go, meticulously). Yup, I'd mis-measured the height of my hood while drafting. Once that was corrected it looked much better. Just out of interest I toiled it.

Toile #5. Perfect. At this point I swore a bit.

That one mistake in the drafting process (still don't know HOW I did that) led to an untold amount of work later. And to add insult to injury I like the basic hood better than my grafted Jalie, so I'm going with that after All.That.Work.

Lessons learnt:
1) If a draft looks wrong, check it from the beginning till you find out why.

2) Be sure of a draft before you use it to establish a design.

3) Toiles of questionable designs are invaluable as a learning tool.

I knew the last one anyway, but I would so much rather waste time and a bit of calico working this out than the nice fabric my sister and her friends bought and still end up with a too-small hood.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Jinx Dress

I don't name my creations as a rule, but some acquire a moniker as I go along. This is most definitely the Jinx Dress. It felt like the entire process was jinxed from the get go! Looks pretty innocuous doesn't it?

I am very pleased with the fern, but I would prefer it a little lower I think.

Yet another item created from other people's discards. In this case, cast off jeans from David and my BIL. Worn through in the butt so they weren't worth mending, the legs were good enough to piece into this dress. After I got over this hurdle.

Once I persuaded Nicholas that it would be much more comfy to snuggle on the sofa I was able to cut the pieces from the jeans. And then they fought being made in every way!

My worst problem was when I sewed the dress shoulder seams and facing shoulder seams, joined the pieces at armholes and necklines with the intention of turning them right side out through the shoulders before sewing side seams and finishing armholes. The point at which I realised I had not turned the dress right side out was after sewing and overlocking both side seams and doing two rows of topstitching on one of them. Yep, said some bad words.

I had multiple thread hassles - not enough topstitching thread (I had some more in a different brand which was close enough that I figured to h*** with it, it's not for sale and open to public scrutiny!), running out of bobbin thread 10cm from the end of the last row of hem stitching, and most intriguingly, going to the ironing board to give the completed hem a final press and finding a section of hem with no bobbin thread. I assume it broke and somehow caught up a new loop, but I've never had that happen before! I had limited topstitching thread for the hem so I couldn't just redo the whole thing (which I would prefer) and it has so many starts and stops in it! The teeth were gritted so hard by this point I expect the surfaces are flat.

Anyway, it was always intended to be a trial, to be worn by Isabella. Good sturdy Kindy dress which cost nothing but my time. Here's her verdict.

And here's my last teeth-gritting realisation.

It's more obvious in real life that the denims for back and front are too different. The back is heavier, which I don't mind, but it's blue blue while the front is made from two pairs which were more black blue. Damn! I like the original side seams on the back pieces but after the dress was made and on her the glaring difference in tone between front and back jumped out at me. Next time I should have some of each fabric in the front and the back if the contrast is too great.

Repeat to self: it cost nothing but my time, it's for kindy, it'll be covered in paint in five minutes, she loves it......

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Showing my roots

No, not the ever-increasing collection of grey ones on my head, these roots:

My Mum is English, as is my paternal grandfather, but really that's just an excuse for the fact that I've always liked the Union Jack (which I vaguely recall hearing on a Dr Who episode is really the Union Flag unless it's at sea) as a graphic image. And I like how it looks on clothes. The NZ flag is a Union Jack in the corner of a navy blue flag, so it's pretty much my flag too. The idea of appliqueing the flag onto a simple dress has been percolating for a while, and yesterday was the day.

This one is for Isabella. I'm trying out my size four A-line dress block on her(104cm height). As she won't be four till May, I'm very happy with how this fits her. The slight rise at the armhole edge of her left shoulder is the most obvious sign that the dress is a bit big, and within my "I can live with it" tolerance. She is a very enthusiastic and willing model.

But "stand still" pretty much doesn't register at all. That blur to the left of her visible leg in the pic below is her other leg.

Being the stickler for accuracy that I am I didn't want my Union Jack to be reminiscent of the flag, I wanted it to be precisely correct in it's proportions. (Yeah, accuracy in proportion is one thing, colour is another!) It took three seconds on Google to find how to accurately draw the flag, and from there I made a full-scale diagram on a full-front pattern outline. The photo is a bit faint, sorry.


After cutting the fabric strips and stitching them on the front looked like this.

I spent as much time with the iron as I did with the machine I think - making sure all the fabrics were perfectly wrinkle free before marking and cutting the strips (with scissors because I keep forgetting to get new rotary cutter blades) and after applying each strip, none of which are fused in any way. Not to have pressed every time would have invited distortions, which would magnify with each successive layer. If you want to know more about why pressing is so essential, go read the Pressinatrix.

I could reduce the thickness of the appliqued layers by stencilling the red areas onto a single cut out of the white areas, which I think would be sensible for smaller sizes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Alabama Chanin #3

After an estimated 80 hours work, all by hand, here it is.

What, the sunshine is too bright to show it up? Sorry, I'll go inside.

Is this better?

Profile shot. My only alteration to the pattern (from the Alabama Stitch Book, corset top pattern, size S) was to lower the hem at the front so it's more level with the back.

Gratuitous parting shot of the twins being cute. I swear if I hadn't given birth to them I would NOT believe they are twins!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The first casualty

Remember these guys?

This morning Isabella handed me this.

The white patches at neck and butt are stuffing. On the bright side the twins love the mice. On the not-so-bright side they had a tug of war over this one. With bitter irony, it's me. I'm too battered to repair, so I'll have to make myself again.

To cheer myself up I photographed my injuries on my Alabama Chanin corset top, which I am now starting to seam together! Over his Christmas break David has been helping my wonderful brother in law on our bathroom renovation. My job is to keep the twins out of their hair, and with water turned off for the whole day a couple of times, housework possibilities were limited (yeah, hard I know) so I did get through quite a lot of the beading and running stitching this week, in short bursts between twin wrangling. Should be wearing it soon!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Other peoples cast offs

There seems to have been a theme to my sewing lately - everything I've made has been whipped up in double quick time from fabric I have acquired from someone else's stash reduction. Exhibit 4) (or 5, or whatever) A much needed pair of togs for Isabella. Keely has been in major decluttering mode and gave me some cast off fabric to rummage through. A small piece of this swimsuit fabric jumped out and yelled "Isabella needs some togs! Dunedin has just had it's driest December since records began in 1913!" I hadn't found any I liked on my one attempt to do so, so whipped these up. Size four bottoms are perfect, but I had to add extra strips to the sides and a band at the bottom on the top to make it big enough. There was only just enough fabric to eke them out! Pattern is KS2884, which appears to be out of print. Shame - it's a great basic two piece bathing suit pattern.

She needed them to wear while doing this.

And another friend decluttered this from her house to mine.

My very own, much longed for treadle sewing machine. It was painted this colour when she got it, and I suspect that returning it to its original appearance is going to be a fair bit of work.

I had a very quick go at sewing with it, and to my delight, it goes! The mechanism moves freely and it forms stitches. The tension was WAY out of whack, but I was very restrained and went back to the tog sewing instead of spending all evening playing. Its time will come....

Oh, and I've just started the LAST piece of my Alabama Chanin corset top. Another couple of weeks should see it done, depending on distractions.