Wednesday, August 29, 2012

With Military Precision

My most recent creation: a jacket! made using pattern 104 from the Burdastyle magazine 09/2008 from the Pattern Pyramid giveaway.  Uber cool, yes?  I think so.
Flicking through the magazine; the military style of this jacket with the double breasted front, the rows of buttons, the high collar and the little buttoned-down belt really caught my eye, but not until looking at the fine print did I notice the cool knitted wristbands that are attached to the sleeve lining inside the sleeves ...  sold!!  I immediately knew this was The One.  I totally love it; even though there is hardly any winter left here... shhh.  I should be able to squeeze in a few more wears at least, and I've always found it fab to have something sorta new-ish in the wardrobe for next year, the next time winter starts to creep up and you're not quite ready  :)
Even better, I made the jacket using all leftover fabrics and yarns from my stash; small-ish quantities that were too titchy tiny for any one thing alone, but still too much and too good quality to even dream of ditching.  I've noticed a few smartly tailored jackets in Vogue magazine lately, made from combinations of very different materials and the idea of following suit really appealed to me.
Above: both these ads taken from Vogue Australia.  At left; Burberry Prorsum, at right; JBrand. 

I used a browny-grey polyurethane laminate, originally from Fabulous Fabrics and leftover from this skirt, and a grey wool, originally from Spotlight and leftover from this coat.  Whoar, it felt gooood to use up that fabric!!  The knitted wristwarmers are knitted from Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed in colour Peppercorn, the leftover yarn from this cardigan.  I didn't have quite enough of the wool to knit the full length required, but I think they turned out quite long enough anyway.
I cut the back, sides and fronts of the jacket from the PU laminate: and the centre fronts, shoulders, collar, sleeves and the belt from the wool fabric.  Even though I did not have enough of either fabric to cut the whole jacket, I did have enough of both together to make the jacket 15cm longer than stipulated in the pattern, which suited me to a T.  I prefer a hip-length to a cropped jacket, particularly when in a very fitted style like this.  I left off the gathered peplum, and instead cut the back piece as one long piece.
The pattern directs for two short belts to be sewn in with the side/back seams; instead I made mine as one completely separate longer belt.  It still buttons onto the lower two front buttons, just like in the pattern.  I like the way the belt pulls in the back of the jacket, and gives me more of a "shape".  I think it might have looked a little boxy for my tastes otherwise.
I topstitched onto the wool portion of the jacket, but avoided any topstitching on the PU laminate; because I know from brief experiments when making my skirt from this fabric that topstitching looks tres hidous on this stuff.
The collar is faced with a lightweight elephant-grey cotton rather than with self-fabric; this is because that wool is thick!  It was pretty hard to get all those double thickness shoulder and collar seams all sitting down on the inside nice and flat as it was, without the extra bulk of a woollen facing... for that reason I did not button the collar ends back on themselves as suggested in the pattern because the grey cotton facing fabric would have showed.  Instead my collar just crosses and buttons right end over the left.
The jacket is lined completely with a coffee-coloured polyacetate lining, from Fabulous Fabrics.  This, along with the buttons, also from Fabulous Fabrics, are the only things I had to buy!

Details:
Jacket; Burdastyle magazine 09/2008, 104, with minor modifications; made of wool, PU laminate, Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed
Jeans; Burda 7863, khaki stretch gabardine, details and my review of this pattern here, and see these jeans styled in 6 different ways here
Shoes; Francesco Morichetti from Zomp shoes

Pattern Description:
Masculine, lady-like or sporty?  This jacket fulfils all three requirements!  The front in severe military style, the back with a feminine peplum, and the sleeves with long, hand-knitted cuffs that are attached to the lining.
Pattern Sizing:
European 36 to 44,  I made the size 38.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished sewing it?
I made mine 15cm longer; but otherwise yes
Were the instructions easy to follow?
They're ok.  Burdastyle are well known for their challenging pattern instructions!  The instruction to sew the facing pieces together seems to be missing so if you have not made a lined jacket before you might get pretty confused in this section.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I just love the style!  Very interesting and quite unique.  I was particularly drawn to the knitted wrist-warmers feature; I just love combining different bits and bobs together in one garment like this!!
Fabric Used:
I used a combination of several fabrics; a PU-laminate and a charcoal wool for the jacket pieces, and Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed for the wristwarmers.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
My jacket is 15cm longer than stipulated, and I left off the gathered peplum and instead cut the back as one piece, as per jacket 105.  I made the belt as one long and completely separate belt, that encircles my waist so it nips in the back of the jacket, and gives me more shape.  My wool fabric used for the collar is very thick, so I faced the collar with a lightweight cotton.  For this reason I did not fold back the collar ends to button on themselves, but instead laid them over each other, so the ends button onto each other.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I might sew this again! and I definitely recommend this interesting and fashion forward pattern to others!
Conclusion:
Well, I'm completely chuffed with my new jacket!  I really love trench coats and military style jackets, which is why I fell for this one; a nice combination of the two styles.  The double breasted front and high stand-up collar look smart and will be nice and cosy on a cold day.  I really love the belt, to nip in the waist.  I particularly adore the knitted wristwarmers.  All round a unique and very cool little jacket, and a really good choice for a cold weather jacket.

the Pattern Pyramid is heading over to...

Roobeedoo, I shall be contacting you for your mailing address!
Thank you to everyone taking part, I had the biggest response to a giveaway ever which just goes to show what a popular concept it is  :)
Thank you Karen!

Monday, August 27, 2012

An olive and a skull

I've made some necklaces.
Cassie discovered the Bead Post in the old Post Office in Fremantle, just across from the railway station, and we paid them a visit.  Oh my gosh, so many beautiful beads!
A few years ago a group of my friends and I were fully into making costume jewellery, it was a bit of a fad.  My enthusiasm has waned somewhat, but it only takes one room full of beautiful beads to re-awaken the sleeping beading beast within, mwahaha.  I recalled that my sister-in-law had a birthday coming up, hehehe.  Yes.  My family are often the innocent victims of my passion for making stuff, and they are always such gracious recipients too.
As soon as I saw that glossy oval mossy-green bead I thought "olive!" and bought two little miniature red beads to be the pimiento in the middle, and some leather cord.  I made this one for my sister-in-law for her birthday.  I think this olive is very "her".  Luckily she thought so too and put it on straight away, which I thought very kind and sweet of her.  I have a very high regard for good giftees.  My family are fantastic that way  :)
I also fell utterly in love with a little skull bead.  I had the red bead and the clear teardrop already; so I made another pendant, fashioning the charms with organic twists of silver wire.  I like the way the little red bead is like a droplet of blood and the glass teardrop is like... well, a teardrop.
Sorta cute/modern-gothic, no?  I think so.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ultramarine corduroy skirt; 6 different ways

Y'know, sometimes you add something to your wardrobe purely on a crazy whim and you have a teeny niggling doubt about how well it is actually going to work?  This ultramarine corduroy skirt, made using Vogue 1170 and first posted here; is one of those things.  I grabbed the fabric without thinking about it very much during a mad Spotlight sale.. you know, one of those instinctive "ooh, pretty colour" moments when you are rushing past a table of fabrics on your way to the cutting counter and your brain is on autopilot, really focused on getting in the queue before it builds up too much. 
I think one of the reasons I really like doing these 6 different ways posts for myself is because of that old old wardrobe rule of thumb taught to me when I was growing up... every new thing you add to your wardrobe must go with at least six other things.  I am a very whimsical seamster, but once I've got something I do still like to mix and match and make sure a thing has several good options to partner up with; not just one other thing.  One must be practical  (sigh)
Luckily bright blue has slotted in very well after all, and I've grown to love its punchy shock of colour against my traditional pale and/or sludgy neutrals!  I have worn each of these outfits over the past month or so, and taken each photo on the day that I wore it.  With the exception of the first very summery one; I just put that outfit in there to show a bit of seasonal variety so to speak.  The weather is still coldish here... well it is for me anyway.  I am such a wuss in that regard.  But things are warming up very nicely lately.  Spring is in the air!

Below: at left; the skirt worn with the pretty knotted blouse that is from that very same Vogue pattern.  They are designed to go together and I do think they look very nice together.  I like the textural clash of decadent glossy silk against the homely corduroy.  I will wear this outfit on a much warmer day  :)  At right; the blue holds its own when worn as part of a trio of bright colours.  Colourblocking!  Still a trendy concept, yes?  According to the shop windows here-abouts it sure is anyway.  Brights are gonna be "in" for the down-under spring.
Below: at left; these muddy mossy shades of green against bright bright blue felt "wrong" at first but then I really loved them and was pleased I had forced them together.  Such an unexpected combination, it worked beautifully!  I felt sorta "art student" or "urban hipster" in this ensemble.  I felt cool.  In my book that is a very good thing.  At right; on a colder rainy day I wore a warm and cosy, all-charcoal-grey outfit with just one slice of bright blue corduroy showing to add a peep of colour.
Below: at left; playing it safe, letting the brilliant blue colour take centre stage and be the prima donna against neutrals of black and cream.  A nice outfit, I liked it.  It is plain, but then again maybe this is very me.  I am plain!  At right; worn along with all the other bright blue garments in my collection, and with just wine-red leggings to break up the colour scheme and add another shade to the mix.

What am I wearing today? well, actually yesterday I wore the last all-ultramine-blue-with-the-red-leggings outfit, just above.  I meant to post this yesterday, but got distracted with writing my review for shape shape, hehe.  Today I am still wearing the skirt, but with something completely different!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shape shape, by Natsuno Hiraiwa; a review

above; top "b" and skirt "d"

I was very flattered to receive some requests (well, two, hehe  :)  ) for my thoughts on the Japanese pattern book Shape Shape (formerly known as Unique Clothes Any Way You Like) by Natsuno Hiraiwa.  I have only used six out of the nineteen patterns in the book, and made a total of eight garments.  So I haven't made everything in the book yet.  But two ladies alerted me to the fact that there were negative reviews of the book on Amazon, and I popped over to have a look and was pretty amazed to see that some of the most negative reviews were from people who hadn't yet attempted anything at all from the book!  Which made me realise that maybe I did have something concrete and useful to offer after all  :)  
I was equally amazed and equally flattered to see that someone had written something very nice indeed about my blog in a review of the book, which totally made my day!!!!  
A big thank you to Nancy Bowron and jenniferp for asking for my opinion, and to A. Badus for those kind words on Amazon!
above; top "a" and skirt "m"

So:
Description:
Shape Shape (formerly known as Unique Clothes Any Way You Like) by Natsuno Hiraiwa, is a book containing nineteen patterns for some tops, skirts, wraps, scarves, one pair of loose trousers and one bag.
Sizes:
The patterns are for two sizes, medium and large, with the Medium being very roughly equivalent to a European 36, and the Large to a European 38.  Now these sizes might seem too restrictive to the average Western body type, but nearly all the garments are very loose-fitting and flowy in that easy comfortable Japanese style that is much admired by Westerners, me included.  They could very easily be adapted to larger sizes, particularly if you have sewing experience.  Very few of the designs are close-fitting or body hugging, or would require a lot of fitting.  I use the Large  :)
The Patterns:
The patterns are printed on one large loose sheet of paper within the book, just exactly like how Burdastyle magazine supplies its patterns.  The user traces the patterns of interest, keeping the master sheet intact for use of the other patterns.  If you are familiar with Burdastyle magazine then you know how it works!
Some of the most extreme negativity of the reviews on Amazon were directed at the pattern sheet, and how difficult the reviewers found the tracing.  Personally I did not find it tricky at all.  A twelve year old could do it, easily.
Once upon a time I wrote a post on my method for tracing patterns and used this book in my pictures, here
Sewing Instructions:
I own the Japanese language version of the book; so my copy has literally not an English word in the entire publication, save for the author's name.  So I cannot comment on the written content, since I am sadly very ignorant in Japanese  :)  However; I do not feel that has been a hindrance in this excellently illustrated book.  I have found the drawings and diagrams for constructing the clothes are excellent; very good, very clear and helpful and very easy to decipher which step follows which.   The book does assume some basic sewing skills, so is probably not suitable for an absolute first-timer.  There is no hand holding, like you would get with a conventional pattern from say Simplicity or McCalls, but if you have been sewing for a few years and know already about interfacing, clipping curves, how to sew buttonholes, how to finish hems and edges; generally how to construct clothing: then I think you would cope just fine. 
above; "top "p"

The Designs:
I would describe them as simple and minimalist, with a twist.  The designs are in my opinion, unique and cool.  Natsuno Hiraiwa has take some organic shapes and turned them into interesting patterns for comfortable clothes.  I love them, and some of the designs have been the most versatile garments in my wardrobe.  Skirt "d" has half the skirt on the straight grain, half on the bias, so hangs differently depending which way you wear it.  I wore my version styled in 6 different ways here.   The design of skirt "m" is also stunning in its simplicity, but is an insanely unique garment that looks nothing like any other skirt pattern I've ever seen.  I wore my version of this skirt styled in 6 different ways here.  Complaints on Amazon about not enough pictures showing off the versatility show a sad lack of imagination on the part of the complainers, and are not the fault of the designer, in my opinion!   My view is, make something and have a bit of a play and experiment with it yourself, you may be surprised and learn a few things about manipulating your wardrobe yourself!
Skill Level:
I would rate this book overall to be a bit more difficult that your standard average big 4 pattern... I am basing that rating solely on the level of autonomy required in sewing up the garments, and the fact that there are no entry-level instructions to help the beginner in the basics.  However, some of the projects, such as the wraps "f" and "j", and say, the scarf "o" are uncomplicated and are well within the scope of a beginner.  These would make good projects to start with, to get a feel for tracing the patterns and nutting out the gist of the instructions.  Then one could move on to some of the more complex projects.
Do I recommend this book to others:
of course!!  In fact, just flicking through the book again to write this review whetted my appetite to try out some other of the designs, as well as to re-visit my favourites too  :)


below; wrap "f"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Pattern Pyramid, and shape shape...

I was thrilled to find in the post box a package sent over to me by TJ of the perfect nose; thank you so much TJ!
The Pattern Pyramid is a terrific idea dreamed up by the clever and gorgeous Karen, with the aim of tying us all together as one big happy global sewing family and spreading the sewing bloggy love by sharing a bunch of patterns and all making something out of a common pattern pool... cool idea, no?  I just love group challenges... so of course I jumped on the bandwagon immediamente...
Karen had the plan that we would select a pattern from the pool to keep, and TJ had the additional brilliant idea to send on all the patterns in her batch, which I agree is a very nice improvisation so I shall be doing the same.... plus I chose my pattern from the Burda magazine and I would feel like a right selfish meanie if I kept that magazine with all its fantabulous selection of patterns all for my very own  :D
you even get a cute label  :)
I can promise you, my own choice is an interesting one... and results will appear here in due course... stay tuned!
In the meantime and as stipulated in the rules I am offering up the above batch of patterns to another interested seamster, so if you want to join in the worldwide, bloggy, sewing, love-fest of fun then please leave a comment on this post.  I'll draw a winner at random in a week's time, and announce it here next Wednesday, 29th August.
That should give me enough time to trace out all just one or two more of the Burda patterns, mwahaha...

In other news, it's come to my attention (thank you Pattern Review) that the Japanese pattern book by Natsuno Hiraiwa is now available in English and is known as "shape shape".  Joy!  Long term readers of my blog will know that I have had the Japanese language version of this book for a few years now and have made a whole heap of things using it, and it is a firm favourite of mine.  At the time that I received it from my friend J, its English translated title on the net was "Unique Clothes Any Way You Like".  Yes I agree, not quite so catchy.  But I accepted its rather unwieldy moniker and dutifully applied it to all my makes from this book.
So:  I am pleased that the book now has a nice simple little easy-to-roll-off-the-tongue-as-well-as-type-on-the-keyboard title, because this will make one of my favourite pattern books a heap more popular in the sewing world too.  However; the abbreviated new title now renders all my posts on the book hopelessly out-of-date.  Yay.
But moving with the times and all that....  consequently the other night I went back and amended all my Unique Clothes etc posts to be labeled "shape shape"... but I didn't rewrite any content of the posts themselves so my descriptions within all those old posts still refer to the book by its original translated name of Unique Clothes Any Way You Like.  But from now on; I shall refer to the book as "shape shape" too.
Clear as mud?  I thought so  :D  Not to worry... but the long and short is that my past projects from this book can be located by searching for shape shape in the label's bar below  :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sparkle-osity

I had some fabric; fabric that I loved but that intimidated me with its gorgeousness.  It is beautiful and luxurious, and I used to take it out of my stash periodically and smile and sigh over it, admire its intricacy, its texture, bask in its golden glow, and dream of the beautiful garment locked away inside it.  I wanted it to fulfil its promise but I was frightened of ruining it.  I wasn't sure that I had the skills to make something worthy of it.  Finally I got the courage to release it from years of imprisonment in the stash and allow it to shine...
And now it is: a gold sparkly cardigan!
The fabric is light stretchy jersey knit, that has been fully sewn all over with miniature gold sequins.  It has been in my stash for several years, ever since those happy golden sparkles seduced me during Fabulous Fabric's annual 50% off all sequinned and beaded fabrics Christmas sale ...
The shell of the cardigan is entirely hand-sewn, since very shortly into the project ie. the cutting stage; I realised that no sewing machine needle was ever going to cope with those little metal sequins.
Whilst I was sewing it I found myself chanting in my head a pointless monotonous mantra "I am my own sweatshop; I am my own sweatshop" with a mixture of wonder and disbelief that I was even going down this path.  I mean, I don't mind hand-sewing.  I even would say I like hand-sewing, I like it a lot! but I have to admit this was a very time consuming project.  A labour of love  :)
The sequinned fabric was quite scratchy and uncomfortable on the wrong side; so I lined the cardigan completely with a soft, primrose yellow cotton jersey.  This was much quicker to construct, being entirely run up on my overlocker! in fact I had a little chuckle to myself at the difference in time to make the two  :)  but attaching the cardigan to the lining was also done completely by hand.  They are sewn together around the neckline, the front edges and lower edge, and the two sleeve edges.
Stitch techniques:
Sewing the shell; I stabbed the needle up and down for each stitch in a quilting stitch configuration (two stitches forward, one little stitch back), searching with my needle each time for a gap between sequins or a hole in the sequins.
Sewing the shell to the lining;  the edges of the sequinned shell are turned in over the edges of the lining, encasing it, and slip stitched in place, again searching for the holes in the sequins for each stitch.
For the entire hand-sewing component; I would do a triple stitch repeated in the one sequin for every 5cm of stitching or so, to lessen the chances of the whole thing unravelling if (heaven forbid) a thread does break.  This is not a completely unlikely scenario, since the fabric is, of course; very heavy! which does place strain on the seams.
I have been working on this cardigan on and off for a full month... and I have a massive re-awakened respect for the hand-sewing and beading specialists of India.
Both the cardigan and the liner were cut using my own custom-fit Tshirt pattern, cut with a centre front opening and with a deep Vneck.
I hand-sewed brass press-studs down each front, so I can close the cardigan so it looks like a little Tshirt or jumper, if I want to.

Some might think this a silly and frivolous cardigan, in fact I am a bit nervous about the reaction it is going to get... the last time I posted a sparkly garment on my blog here I received a very back-handed comment  :(  but I love it and it is going to be a lifelong player in my wardrobe.  This might sound nerdy; but I feel quite exhilarated that this super-exotic thing is now hanging in my wardrobe.  To have something as impractical and fabulous as this in my possession... I feel like an exotic butterfly has flown in through the window and chosen to alight on a hanger in my wardrobe...!
I just hope I can live up to its gorgeousness!

Details:
Cardigan; self-drafted, made of gold sequinned stretch fabric, lined with pale yellow cotton jersey knit
Tshirt; self-drafted, actually the very same pattern as the cardigan! made of white cotton jersey dyed red and brown, details here
Skirt; Vogue 1247, of purple stretch denim dyed brown, details and my review of this pattern here, and this skirt styled in 6 different ways here
Tights; Kolotex
Boots; Sempre di, from Zomp shoes

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Macarons!

I'm feeling so clever, right about now  :)
Please let me affirm, I am NOT a good cook, in fact I am truly disastrous in the kitchen, hehe.
But LOOK!
I found this terrific recipe on homerunballerina (I love her blog, even though I am a horrendously bad cook her recipes are ab fab) and felt emboldened to give it a go.
Now, confession time, my first batch following the linked recipe exactly and to the letter was pretty horrible...  I am thinking though it might have been due to the difference between Australian ingredients and US ingredients, maybe? maybe not?  When we lived in the US I did find that some common ingredients were very very different from ours with the same name.  Some ingredients commonly used here in Australia, for example self-raising flour and golden syrup (and that is just a few of many) are simply not available at all.  A lot of my recipes that worked a charm here at home just did not work in the US.  Particularly baking and cake-y sorts of things.
Anyhoo I made a few minor changes to Audrey's recipe, both to the macarons, and I made a much thicker ganache too; and my second batch looks and tastes pretty darn goooood if I say so myself! so this might be a good recipe for other Aussies and New Zealanders to try out.
The original recipe specified egg white powder, and I have no idea where or even if one can get such a thing here in sleepy lil' Perth.  I substituted this stuff called Pavlova Magic, which contains powdered egg white along with other things.  It seemed to do the trick.  It is still a gluten free product, which makes the whole entire recipe gluten free; a definite plus!
My modified version of Audrey's recipe...

Vanilla macarons with dark chocolate ganache 

3 egg whites, allowed to sit for at least an hour
30g castor sugar
5g powdered egg white (if you can't get it, Pavlova Magic works)
125g almond meal
200g pure icing sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp pure vanilla essence

Sift the icing sugar and baking powder and stir through the almond meal.  Combine castor sugar and powdered egg white (or Pavlova Magic) in a separate little bowl.
Whisk the egg whites until firm and stiff enough to keep its shape when you turn the bowl upside down, I prefer to whisk by hand.  Gradually add the castor sugar/powdered egg white mix whisking continuously and vigorously after each addition.
Add the icing sugar/baking powder/almond meal mix in five batches, stirring until mixed each time.  Lastly, stir in the vanilla essence.
Transfer mixture to a piping bag and pipe rounds onto a baking sheet or baking paper, leaving an inch between each round, and let them sit on the bench for at least another hour or until they have developed a "skin" and do not feel sticky to the touch.  I accidentally forgot mine and left them sitting for over two hours, but apparently that is a good thing  :)
Bake at 130C for 5 minutes, turn the tray around, bake for another 5 minutes then remove from the oven.  Slide the baking sheet off the tray and onto the bench; partly so you can cook the next batch, but also the cold bench stops the cooking process in its tracks.  When they are completely cold, peel them carefully off the paper.

For the ganache:
150g dark chocolate
75mL whipping cream
Bring the cream to a boil, then take off the heat and add the broken up chocolate, let it sit for a minute then stir in thoroughly to melt.  When it is lukewarm, spread a little onto a macaron like spreading jam thickly on bread, then stick another macaron on top.

Let the ganache set before you let everybody loose onto them.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sometimes, doing nothing...

... is all that is needed.
This is a bit of nothingness really, but I am wearing something for the first time here: my floaty cloud of a scarf.  This is one of my Parisian fabric purchases about which I promised to show results... so; ta da!  Fabric in action.
I bought this as a pre-cut piece of divine, very finely woven wool from Sacre Coupons in Paris and showed a close-up of the beautifully wispy, feather-fine weave here.
I didn't do anything at all; didn't need to do anything at all to this length of fabric, I reckoned it was simply perfect just as is.
Oui?

Details:
Scarf; a length of finely woven pure new wool, with the edges slightly frayed
Dress; the "hole" dress from the Japanese pattern book Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi, of charcoal wool mix, details here
Top; sexy woman (second hand)
Tights; Spencer Lacy
Shoes; Django and Juliette, from Zomp shoes

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Man-hoodie

I sew mostly for myself :)  Now my children are all grown up they select and buy their own clothes, of course.  It's a rare occasion for anyone to make a request  :( although I do so love it when they do.
My husband also doesn't ever ask for very much for himself either, so when he does then I pay attention because I know it is because he really really wants it.
He had a favourite RTW Tshirt hoodie thing, and he wanted one to replace it.  The new one had to be as close to the old one as humanly possible, please.  The old one was thin and brittle from washing and all stretched out and sad, and had some stains on it since as it was truly his favourite favourite Tshirt of all time, he has worn it for everything, including the day he applied wood stain to a set of jarrah chairs.  Woops!  And there were holes too.
Finding the perfect fabric for Craig's Tshirt has become something of a quest over the past few months.  Seriously, I have searched and searched, and so has he.  In the meantime the old Tshirt got even more truly horrible....
When we were in Europe and visiting the occasional fabric store together, I set him the task of finding fabric for his shirt.  Have you ever asked a non-sewing person to choose a fabric for some garment?  It is at these times that one starts to realise that one has actually learnt some fundamentally important things after years of sewing after all... like that a knit is a knit and that a woven is not going to ever do the job of a knit, no matter how gorgeous it is.  He had a thing for the lovely pin-striped linens in Milan and kept choosing these as the fabric for his new Tshirt.  I explained the difference, and sent him back off to look for cotton jersey knits.  He would come back, triumphantly bearing another bolt of pin-striped linen.  Sigh.
I think we had both started to wonder if I would ever make the Tshirt, when I spotted it.  In Spotlight, of all places.  The perfect fabric.  Really nice quality cotton jersey, in a nice manly pinstripe, in nice manly shades of charcoal and black.  Sheer unadulterated perfection!  I couldn't believe my luck and I reacted like a frog's tongue to a passing fly...  pow! the fabric was snatched up and clutched in a death grip to my chest and I rushed straight over to the cutting counter (maniacal witch-cackle mentally sounding in my head)
I drafted a pattern by laying down the old Tshirt and drawing around it.
It does have a pretty cool hood actually... I was intrigued when I inspected it closely and pretty excited to see it drawn out flat.  The hoodie has three pieces; the conventional two "hoodie" pieces cut somewhat shallower than normal, and another self-faced front piece shaped like the letter "U", that becomes a sort of casing/collar on the front.  I really like this feature, and will probably use it over again.  There are two little holes in it for the drawstring, and I finished the edges of each hole with miniature blanket stitches, having newly re-discovered my latent embroidery skills, hehe  :)
The self fabric spaghetti drawstring is a long strip of fabric; I folded the two long sides in evenly as I was going along, guiding it through the machine on zig-zag stitch.  The fabric wanted to curl in on itself anyway.
There is a kangaroo pocket on the front, and a deep "Metalicus" band around the lower edge.  The sleeve hems are finished with my twin needle.  I stabilised the shoulder seams with strips of Seams Great (thank you velosewer!) and double stitched the neckline seam down to the back for stability and to lessen the chances of the back neckline stretching out.
Now the favourite old Tshirt looks tired and bagged-out and kinda disgusting compared to the svelte new one in nice new firm fabric!  
the clone and the clone-ee
He is very happy with the new shirt, therefore I am very happy too!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bees on white cotton

(to be sung to the tune of Knights in White Satin, of course  ;)  )
I was quite taken with the grub roses kbenco has been embroidering onto her knits, and was inspired to follow suit...  so for my latest lingerie set I delved deep into my memory banks and dredged up a few rusty ol embroidery skills...  
There is a single fat little bumblebee on each item.
Tres cute, no?!

The bra pattern is KwikSew 3300 (my review of this pattern here), and the two pairs of matching undies are made using my swimwear pattern, McCalls 2772 view E.  Yup, exactly the same as my previous set.

I used a soft ivory cotton knit from Spotlight.  It is absolutely lovely stuff, but I have only the smallest issue, in that the fabric only stretches one way, so while it all fits just fine it is ever so slightly less easy and comfy than my grey jersey set.   I positioned the pieces so the stretch went where it counts, but I definitely feel a bit more firmly held in place, so to speak.  Maybe that's a good thing.... :)
The fabric is quite soft and spongy, almost with a brushed quality; so to embroider my bees onto those fronts of the undies with just that single layer of the fabric, I ironed a small square of iron-on interfacing onto the back where I wanted my bees positioned.  Then I embroidered the bees, and then ironed a second small square of iron-on interfacing over the back for a neat finished look, ironing carefully so as not to squash the embroidery too much.  I realise the second squares will probably disappear in the wash some day, that iron-on stuff is notoriously prone to unsticking pretty quick.  But it will be fine for a while and I can always iron on a new patch.  The bra joiner bit, having a piece of woven cotton as interfacing sandwiched between the two layers of knit, was easy to embroider on just as is.
For the top-stitching I tried out another of my machine's decorative stitches... I like how those jagged spikes sorta references a row of bee's stings.  It's funny, I use these decorative stitches on my machine like, barely once in a blue moon? and now I've used them twice in the past month!  A record!
Oh, and in response to an email question from Sue...  thank you for the interest Sue!  I do all my sewing on these two machines, and in the picture of my Janome in that post you might just be able to make out the small selection of embroidery stitches I have on my machine.  It's not a fancy machine at all, but it has served me very well for me for many many years and has everything I could want in a sewing machine  :)