Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Me Made May - Days 23 - 28

Having just worked the weekend my MMM outfits are getting fairly boring and repetitious but documented they have been, some very very badly.....

Day 23 - Work day - So excited by my new Renfrew Boatneck I had to wear it that day! Worn with Jag jeans, brogues and poser expression.

Day 24 - Work day - Grey cowl Renfrew (unblogged), green Witchery Cords, puffa jacket, brogues and Bonds stripey armwarmers. 

Day 25 - Work day. Long work day. Self made linen stripey Burdastyle dolman sleeve top with silk scarf and wool spencer. Probably same green cords and very tired eyes. 

Day 26 - Another work day - working weekends sucks! Grey wool/cotton Renfrew worn as underlay due to mega pilling, plus self knitted Pustard to Mustard cowl, worn with black Country Road jeans, black and white stripe Susan cardigan and brogues.

Day 27 - Work day - Grey unblogged Renfrew, Metalicus singlet,  black Jag jeans and in this picture Pard slippers, but I did actually wear brogues to work.

Day 28 - Day off - yay! By Hand London Charlotte denim skirt, and Renfrew grey boatneck, with Country Road jumper, Target stockings, Diana Ferrari boots and Creswick Mills scarf. This was my first test run of my By Hand London Charlotte in public. That wrinkle did seem to settle once I had been sitting in a while - maybe it stretched the denim and relaxed it. I did still find it very restrictive walking despite my kick pleat, so a higher kick pleat would have been heaps better. Still felt very chichi in it!

Day 29 - Work day - Renfrew grey boatneck (there is a very high chance I actually stayed in my PJ's till about 3pm yesterday, and I felt no unhygienic remorse in recycling the Renfrew) plus ...... wait for it...... refashioned maroon wool top as spencer! Yay! I finally have worn something, 2 days before the end of MMM, that I have refashioned! Full disclosure - my refashioning only involved chopping off sleeves and reattaching a band 'a la Renfrew' to make it 3/4 sleeve. But it was cutting, pinning and sewing and made an unwearable top wearable, so I am taking it! Also worn Jag jeans, and brogues. 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Fab find!

I spend a lot of time down the internet rabbit hole - I follow a lot of blogs, mostly sewing/crafty/DIY ones, and its not uncommon for me to get completely sidetracked, sniffing out a trail of awesomeness and finding the most wonderful things that people have created. So I've decided I'm going to have a regular Fab Find! post showcasing some wonderful sewing/knitting/DIY/arty find that I would love to be able to make/own etc if I had unlimited skills, resources, time and money!

My first Fab Find was via Made By Rae. Rae is a very clever lady who has a great range of kiddie clothing patterns, and is the creator of the famous Washi dress. Last week she posted a very cute skirt she had made for herself out of the most beautiful Rashida Coleman-Hale 1000 Cranes fabric:

Source: Made by Rae

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Renfrew hack - boat neck!

One of the things I love most about sewing is imagining just want I want in my minds eye, and then the stars aligning and being able to achieve exactly what I want (and what nobody else has!). And that happened with my latest Renfrew. I've gone a little crazy making Renfrews the last few weeks, mostly because my wardrobe was in desperate need of some longer sleeved tops with winter approaching, and Me Made May was also looming - it was time to get cracking. I've made both the scoop neck and the cowl neck versions and really like them, but my absolute favourite neckline for a winter top is the boat or bateau neck line. I know its not for everyone - its not flattering for those with a generous bust, and I know some people don't like the wide neck because it can flash one's bra straps. I think its just so chic, whether its a striped breton bateau or a single colour or polka dot - I can't go past one. I was devastated late last year when I split balsamic vinegar on a white stripe of my favourite RTW striped boat-neck, (right in the front!) and vowed I'd somehow work out how to replace it!

One of the reasons I decided to purchase Sew U Home Stretch by Wendy Mullin was that it contained a basic tee pattern block that included very simple instructions on how to turn it into a variety of tee styles including....... a boat neck! Yay!

So my original plan was to use the pattern from this book and alter it according to the instructions. Then I bought the Renfrew and kind of forgot about it until the other day when I tried (AGAIN!) to remove my vinegar stain from my beloved striped bateau and remembered my Sew U book. A little reading of the book and research on the net revealed the block tee pattern wasn't very fitted through the waist, and most ladies who had made the Sew U tee hadn't liked the wider sleeves and had had to taper in the waist. That put me off a little, but I thought I could use the basic alteration principles on the Renfrew to hopefully achieve a similar a result.


 Voila! C'est chic, non?

I am just so very pleased with how this has turned out. If you're interested in how I did it, I've a bit of a basic step-by-step tutorial below..... Of course this will work with any basic tee pattern, Renfrew or otherwise!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Me Made May - Days 18-22

It's hard to believe that it's nearly the end of May - only a week till Winter officially starts (oh but today so so cold in Melbourne), and only 7 weeks till we get married and only 7 weeks till we visit New York City!

The last 5 days of MMM have had a little bit of variation, but I am starting to get a bit over some of my items, particularly work outfits! Anyway, first world problem.....

Day 18 - Self made Wiksten skirt, Metalicus top, Cotton On scarf, cashmere cardi from Savers (still undecided on whether to dye this or not), boots from Dianna Ferrari. This is not my normal style outfit - its a bit gypsy for me but I quite liked it in the end.....

Day 19 - Self made grey Renfrew top (so disappointing though the fabric is balling horribly - I think because of the small wool content - its now destined to be an under layer), self made Cowl just recently blogged, Sussan pard card, Country Road jeans and new Clarks brogues (officially for work, breaking them in, and I LOVE THEM).

Day 20 - Work day - Self made Laurel top, altered navy and white spotty wool scarf (and by altered I mean the two ends sewn up to make an infinity scarf but its sewing and I'm taking it!), Jag jeans and lovely new Clarks Brogues again. So comfy!

Day 21 - Day off - Sunshine! Plus new unblogged light grey Renfrew, red wooden bead Elk necklace, Country Road skirt (not technically op shopped but bought secondhand off Ebay), red Gino Vittori ballet flats.
Day 22 - Work day - Red Renfrew (nice and warm on this most frigid of days), black Jag jeans, brogues there but not seen.  
I'm pretty happy I've been able to wear at least one self made item each day, but I have not done so well on the upcycled/refashioned part of the pledge. I've 3 lovely wool tops sitting in my ironing/UFO basket just waiting to be turned into singlets due to a moth problem I had last year..... Got to get onto them (but like a magpie with shiny things I keep getting distracted - Renfrews! Clovers! Beignets! Charlottes!)!!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Finished - The Mega Moss Cowl

Quite a few months ago now I saw an hilariously over-the-top enormous knitted cowl by the Wool and The Gang, and instantly knew I also needed a giant chunky cowl for winter, but costing about $40, and not over 100 euros.... I still classify myself very much as a beginner knitter, and my repertoire to date involves scarves, cowls and a WIP 3D Kombi van, but it was obviously a simple tube, knitted in nice chunky yarn, in moss stitch on quite chunky needles. This is the first project where I have used moss (or seed) stitch and it creates the most luscious waffly spongy texture, especially with the yarn I used.....

I used 4 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino in black that I found on eBay - the seller was destashing her yarn stash and it was great value at about $40 posted. It's just the most beautiful yarn, super chunky and so very soft - it almost feels like soft felted noodles. I think from memory it is 80% merino and 20% cashmere.  I found 12mm wooden needles in an opshop for $2, cast on 30 stitches and just kept knitting until I finished the 4 balls, leaving enough to sew up the 2 ends to form a lovely warm squidgy cowl. It's really quite big as seen at the blocking stage:

It's quite versatile depending on whether you want just a chic neck warmer, or your shoulders warmed too, or if you want to keep your ears warm on a windy wintery Melbourne day and don't mind looking like a babushka Granny .....

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Finished project - Denim By Hand London Charlotte Skirt

So it's finished, and very stylish if I do say so myself. It still has the funny fold of fabric across the middle at times, but after some intensive pencil skirt image researching I think this is a combination of the style and the stiff denim - hopefully a combination of wear and fabric softener will settle things down - unless someone thinks this is a fit issue? I do have some lovely green tweedy wool that would be great as another Charlotte that I picked up from Savers....

As mentioned in my previous WIP post I did have to take in the hips a little - maybe this is making it ride up and create the ridge of fabric? Anyway, I think its rockin' and particularly with the stripes and my boots quite frenchie.

I added an inverted kick pleat, which ended up being a little shorter than what I would have liked because I removed about 15cm of length - next time I will make the kick pleat a little higher. I say it's finished, but to be completely truthful I still haven't finished off the tab on the waistband - I'm still vacillating between a button vs a press-stud or snap. I really really hate sewing on press-studs but I think it will probably be a nicer finish. I bound the seams in rayon hem tape - but its a bit of a mess especially around the zip. Next time I think I will finish the back seam edges completely before installing the zip - its next to impossible to finish them once the zip has been put in!

It is a lovely styled pencil skirt, one I will definitely make again. It was very easy to make and I do love the double dart detailing.... But this number is tight! Making the super-tuck of tops and VPL a bit of an issue. I do hope it softens up with wear.....

Action shot - time to get ready for Eurovision!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Me Made May - days 12-17

Another week, another bunch of MMM outfits photographed in a very average manner..... I make no promises of anything exciting! It's been a long, cold, beige week. I'm too embarrassed to add to the MMM 13 Flickr Group!

Day 12 - Sunday - still unseasonably warm until about 4pm- self made Maria Denmark kimono tee (unblogged), skirt from Witchery, necklace from Etsy, tights from Target, shoes.... Can't remember!
Day 13 - Work day - self made linen Burdastyle top with yesterdays Maria Denmark black tee getting a second turn.  Worn with black Jag jeans

Day 14 - Day off - self made Cowl Renfrew recently blogged,  and self made stripey tank, with Wrangler jeans and Ziera Pard flats

Day 15 - A work day - self made Grey Renfrew recently blogged, Witchery Cords, vile hair. MMM has taught me fluoro lights plus beige walls plus iPhone camera = appalling photos. 

Day 16 - A work day. A bloody awful work day.  Couldn't face the camera! Self made stripy tank, black Burdastyle dolman top (unblogged) and Witchery cords again.
Day 17 - A work day - better today! Red Renfrew Cowl top,  wool spencer, Jag jeans. 
TGIF. Just saying.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Fabric Tragic Vs Trousers, Round 1 - Colette Clover

In which I show many unflattering photographs of my bottom and abdomen.....

All in the name of learning of course!

First up in my mega trouser initiative of Autumn 2013 I am attempting the Colette Clover pattern - a slim fitting straight leg trouser, very easy to construct, with a side zipper.

From Colette Patterns

This pattern should be made with a woven fabric that has a little stretch in it, apparently about 3%. I can tell you its not easy finding an inexpensive fabric where that 3% is actually stated (most just say cotton-spandex or cotton-lycra) - I ended up finding a stretch gaberdine in a very sexy golf pant check - I was thinking if the muslin was actually wearable I could wear them in a cute 50's style or maybe with brogues for that 'ironically ugly' hipster look (because one look at me just screams hipster, doesn't it?). I actually took time to match the checks up and all.

It does seem the last week or so I have been doing nothing but sewing and blogging - smashing out hit after hit, but in actual fact a few weeks ago we went away for the weekend to my in-laws beach house in Torquay and I took several patterns to trace off and cut out - my grey Renfrew, my Charlotte skirt and these Clover trousers amongst them. So it's been very easy to just whip out a project when one has anally retentively traced, cut, marked and packed up fabric with pattern into little bags ready to go! Its actually a great way to get some sewing done when one has no access to a machine.....and I don't know which is my least favourite sewing task - cutting out or hemming....

Yesterday was my day off, and despite not quite finishing my Charlotte skirt I was determined to start these golf Clover's and try to nut out any fitting issues. I had hoped that because the Iris shorts fit me so well straight out of the envelope that I wouldn't have too many problems with fitting these trousers, and my theory worked out reasonably well. I hope.

My Iris shorts (similar style but more generous cut) were an 8, and the only slight niggle I have with them is they are just a tiny bit snug in the crotch at the front. Just a smidge - enough to notice, not enough to be a big deal or cause mumble pants*. Based on my measurements I cut an 8 in the Clovers, made up as directed without the pockets, and had a squizz before inserting the zip:

Too tight over hips and bum. But otherwise not bad. Definitely too tight and causing distortion of the checks esp over my bum. Not too much bad news in the crotch department. So before adding the zip I let out the side seams from 5/8 of an inch each side to about 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch each side extra room in total if one counts the front and back. I didn't do anything with the inner leg seam or crotch seams at this point, mostly because I didn't think to! 

Not so much straining over the bum, but now some horizontal drag lines at the crotch area.... But at this point quite comfortable and not completely hideous! I was allowing myself to feel hopeful that these might actually be a wearable muslin, so I went ahead and finished them, evening finishing the waistband facing in a funky bright orange bias just to be snazzy. Then a frustrating development after I had finished the waistband off and was preparing to hem - too tight in the crotch! Mumble pants! Noooooooo!

I mucked around with the crotch seam, thinking if I decreased the seam allowance I'd get a little extra room down there and be a bit more comfortable, and it did help a bit, but I just think I need to go up a size all over - according to some of the fitting advice on the Colette website horizontal lines at the crotch mean the side seams are too tight - so I figure if I went up a size I'd have more room at the side seams, more room in the crotch length etc etc, plus I think I need to add a little extra length for hemming. After sitting around in the pants for half an hour to Google trouser fitting they just are not great down there**. I have to say I am a little disappointed that my golf pants wont see the light of day BUT I am very hopeful that going up to a size 10 will produce me some awesome mumble-free pants! 

Round 1 results - Fabric Tragic is in the lead!

*mumble pants - phrase coined by my friend Christine as an alternative description to camel toe. I'm leaving it at that.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Bread and Butter - The Renfrew

As previously mentioned in my MMM posts I have finally made up my Sewaholic Renfrew pattern, and like many before me I think that its great! I've attempted quite a few knit tops now, some self drafted tanks, others from Burdastyle or free downloads from such generous ladies as Maria Denmark, and where I seemed to run into a bit of general construction crappiness is the neckline bands. I think I have finally perfected my technique and am very pleased with my first two Renfrews. These are fantastic wardrobe 'bread and butter' staples - 3 necklines and 3 sleeve lengths. The sleeves and hem are finished with bands rather than a regular hem, and I think this works most of the time (and is very easy for a knit beginner), but my next couple (oh yes, there will be more) I am going to experiment a little with different hem/cuff finishes.

So, to the pattern and construction. I made a size 2 based on the measurements of a top I already had that was quite close fitted. I think its an OK size, but I think for further versions I am going to go up a size in the chest/shoulders, and grade down to a 2 in the hips as it is has plenty of room down there (but in the below photos I am also wearing a singlet underneath both versions). I did the recommended 5/8 inch seam allowance in the shoulder seams, but for every other seam I reduced it to about 3/8 inch, mostly because my machine has a nifty stitch that seams and overcasts the edge at the same time, and a 3/8 inch seam allowance means I don't have to trim anything (I have an awful habit of cutting into the garment when trimming seam allowances - it makes me want to be ill just thinking about how often I've done it!). Its just as well I did that because I think I needed that extra room around the bust - there are some diagonal folds there at times, which I do see on a lot of RTW knit tops on ladies. The only other thing I did differently was to cut the waist band in 2 pieces rather than on the fold - this was for fabric economy. I just added 3/8 inch to each piece and hemmed the end at the same time as the normal join, and matched (crappily) the seams to the side seams.

To the finished product!

My first version was the scoop neck with 3/4 sleeves in a completely luscious dark charcoal cotton and wool blend (80% cotton, 20% wool) that I snapped up from Darn Cheap Fabrics last year. Its hard to describe how lovely this fabric is - it's spongy, soft and warm. When I wore it to work last week I had everyone stroking it (in a non creepy way) because it was just so soft. And it does't seem to have shrunk (I do preshrink everything I buy but I normally do it on the handwash cycle and this went into the general wash by mistake).

Version 2 is a fabulous double layered cotton with a cute little almost-heart pointelle design that I bought in the Fabric Store Christmas sale. I think from memory it is a Marc Jacobs fabric (it also came in black and there was HEAPS of it. Just saying). This time I went with the cowl neckline and 3/4 sleeves.

So cold. Apologies for strange face

Because this is a 2-layered fabric, it turned out that the cowl ended up being 4 layers thick - which meant at some of the seam lines my poor Husky was having to go through 8 layers of fabric - she munched through it pretty well though. And because the cowl is 4 layers thick it is more of a stand up structured turtle neck rather than a drapey cowl neckline - but I love it, it's warm and snuggly, and worth remembering to layer 4 pieces of fabric for future versions if I wanted a similar collar.

The drag lines are most obvious in the above pic - they aren't there all the time, but I think I need to try to eliminate them.

My tip for first time users of this pattern and/or those inexperienced with knits - don't skip the step where the neck band/hem band edges are basted to each other before attaching to the body of the garment. It's hard enough stitching 2 pieces of knit together let alone 3 - if you miss this step you are likely to not catch one edge of the band. This is particularly important with the scoop neckline because if that neck band is not even it will be very obvious and look crapola. I basted mine with a short wide  zigzag (too close zigzag may make the edges ripple a bit). Also with the cowl my pattern had the printing error in the instructions where it says to put the wrong sides together and it's meant to be right sides.

I have many more of these planned - fine black wool, longer sleeves, different cuff finishes, and I'd LOVE one in mustard wool. I reckon you could even go up one or two sizes and make one out of a heavier jumper or sweater weight knit too!