Crafty updates

I have been away from blogging all week, busy in the real world, but I am back with lots of exciting updates.

Apart from working and sleeping, I have spent most of this week sewing my Sewaholic Minoru and it is finished! Of course that means the weekend has been super sunny, but I did test it in a light shower on the way home/to the pub on Friday. I forgot to get someone to take action shots so here are some close ups of my favourite details.

I LOVE the pink lining – it is such a cheery colour (and I read something this weekend that said navy and pink were one of the new “in” combos) – and the fleecy pocket lining. The piping was a pain to do (piping + shiny fabric + gathers + elastic = nightmare) but it does make the jacket look more finished and less homemade. My favourite part is the elastic waist as it makes the jacket fit and look good, which is not normally something you would associate with cagoules! I got some good compliments about the fitted waist when I did a bit of a fashion show at work. There are a few tweaks I would make if I made this again – the adjusted muslin pieces are safely tucked away in my pattern file.

I also meant to get a proper photo of my finished corduroy Ginger, but I have been wearing it too much and getting paint on it at school., so please excuse this slanted self-portrait. There were an awful lot of headaches making this, despite having already made the pattern before, but it was definitely worth the time spent as I have worn it three times this week. It is warm, comfortable, black and has super-sized practical pockets, so it will be worn to death over the winter.
Oh, and I am wearing my skirt with a new blouse! It is the French dart Burda blouse made from a £1 vintage skirt and jersey contrast sleeves (I couldn’t get the sleeves from the skirt, but I’m liking the effect the jersey adds).

I have been so busy that I totally forgot that I had hosted my first giveaway and was supposed to have chosen a winner! Oops! Lets see who the winner will be…
…. it is Tania! Email me your address or I will get in touch (whichever comes first) and I will try and send your goodies to you this week!

Minoru raincoat

As well as collecting a parcel of yarn yesterday, I also acquired a little bit of fabric from the glorious Goldhawk Road. I was on official school business to get fabrics for displays (I hope my headteacher is impressed that half was bargain remnants, and I even I got a discount on some remnants!) but I also picked up a couple of things for me. I got some fabric to make another Burda French-darted top, some stretch wool for trousers, regular wool for a winter skirt and everything I needed to make my Minoru jacket.

Unsurprisingly I couldn’t find any really exciting waterproof fabrics, so I decided to go for plain navy and line it with the most amazing bright hot pink! When buying a zipper (wow! long zips get pricey!) in the haberdashery section I saw some pink bias-binding – perfect for piping and adding a touch of fun to a plain jacket.

I had finished fitting the muslin, so today I used the muslin as my pattern and got cutting. I marked my new stitching lines with a pen, traced these onto the fabric and used them as my guidelines when sewing. Yes, I did trace a whole pattern piece with the tracing paper upside-down!

After a whole day of cutting, pinning and sewing in front of tv/radio (with breaks for food of course) I have almost finished the outer shell. I lined the hood and made some patch pockets (lined in scraps of fleece for cosy-warm hands) but other than that have stuck to the basic pattern (after a FBA during the fitting stage).

The colour of the jacket in these pictures looks really grey, but in reality it is definitely navy blue and the pink looks even better and brighter (the pink lining has made me squeal with delight). I loved the flash of pink so much I decided to tweak the hood pattern so I could have an extra line of piping 🙂 All that is needed now is the zip, front plackets, linings and hems.

The hair clip is to give an idea of the waist gathers. I’m slightly apprehensive about this, but luckily there are so many good sew-along posts on Tasia’s blog I am sure it will be fine. My big dilemma now is what to do about cuffs – I am tempted to knit some ribbed cuffs from some soft yarn but I’m not sure they would be practical when it rains!


A spot of impulsive sewing

I have to change at Oxford Circus on my way home from work, and on Friday evening it was packed. I couldn’t even get near the platform, so there was no chance of getting a tube for a while. What could I do, but wait for the crowds to clear in the comfort of John Lewis? Well, I needed some ribbon for school to colour-code my new class’ bookbags (in an effort to get them to do more jobs for me  become more independent – each key group will have a different colour of ribbon on the handle so a child can hopefully grab everything for their group). See, I had a real reason to go into John Lewis!

When in there I got slightly side-tracked by the new layout of all the displays, the new cutting table and, of course, all the new fabrics. In my confused state I accidentally headed towards the new display of fabrics and a navy dotty fabric (I want to call it crepe, but I’m not sure) caught my eye. I picked up the ribbons (seriously tricky getting the three colours I wanted in the same width) and some hand embroidery needles, but felt drawn back to the dots.

I had been planning on spending Saturday making the muslin for my Minoru, but ended up tracing, adjusting, cutting and sewing this…

It isn’t the Burda blouse I showed in my last post, it is actually pattern 106 from the September issue (my August issue was temporarily missing, so I thought I’d give this one a go). The pattern is actually meant for jersey, but after tracing the pattern onto garden fleece (cheap, transparent and robust) I tissue-fitted it to do a FBA. I really like to fit of this top and the french darts, even if they could still do with a bit of tweaking.

As the pattern was designed for jersey, I graded up a size before tracing then marked the stitching lines on as I traced using my double-wheel tool. I have just remembered, while looking for the link to the pattern, that Burda doesn’t do seam allowances – so effectively I didn’t go up a size at all! This could explain the fitting difficulties I later had!

After tweaking the darts the top had a good fit, but when it was time to add the sleeves I found I could barely move them. Luckily I remembered last weekend’s reading – Gertie’s new book – and how she inserted underarm gussets to allow for movement. This took a bit of trial and error, not to mention time with my seam ripper (I had some lovely french side seams!), but I managed to get something that works (luckily the print hides it pretty well).

Other modifications I made were:
– lengthen the bodice by a very precise “two ruler widths” (chunky craft ruler approx 2″ wide) so it is a great length to wear over trousers or tucked in.
– add little 2″ long side slits (I should have graded out more for my hips, but this was a satisfactory fix)
– lower the neckline slightly as the tissue felt like it would choke me
– deepen the back neckline. Looking at the photos, I could have made the back v-neck even deeper if I had wanted to, for more impact.
The next photo doesn’t show it, but the back is actually a really good fit with just the right amount of curve for me (the wrinkles are the way I am trying to pose)

Even though things went wrong and there are a few issues to be fixed, I love this blouse! I tried it on when all the hems were finished and it just felt good (I ended up having a little fashion show in front of my mirror trying it on with different bottoms and accessories). Being quite curvy I never used to wear woven tops as they didn’t fit or look good, but I think I am just so excited to be able to wear a fitted blouse that is comfy! After the arm gusset drama, I can now move my arms and have test-driven the top while changing bed sheets, doing a supermarket shop, and pattern cutting – all activities involved lots of arm movement and the blouse has passed the test.

Oh, did I mention pattern cutting? I may not have done any of my Minoru yesterday, but today I made the first muslin. I did a FBA and moved the dart to the shoulder for extra gathers, which seems to fit well so far. Using the couture tricks I learned at the beginning of the year, I marked the stitching line onto the muslin, with generous seam allowances. It is a good job I did because the way it is leaves no room for winter jumpers at all! I will let out the sleeve and side seams and try it on again.The only thing that is confusing my is the hood – how is it SO big? I hate it when hoods are too tight and don’t sit properly on your head, but this seems a bit too big. Or is my head a few sizes smaller than my body?!

A/W 2012 Sewing Plans

I’ve been a bit quiet around here due to being back to school and totally exhausted, and a busy weekend in which the only time I was home involved sleeping or napping! I have lots on my to-sew-list when I have the energy to trace some sewing patterns. Yup, you read that right – I’m going to try some new patterns instead of reinventing my tatty tried-and-tested ones.

The two Burda designs come from August and September issues of Burda Style (I’m not sure which is which without getting up and looking) and the Ohhh Lulu pattern was recommended by Gertie during the summer. The fabric colours and designs are some of what are lurking in my stash – I have lots of different black and white jersey prints which I really want to mix-and-match. I don’t have lace in my stash, but I’d really like to have a go at adding some to a simple top – I am imagining a black top with black lace collar or something subtle like that…

I have some calico ready to make a muslin of the Minoru jacket at the weekend, but I am already thinking ahead to fashion fabrics. I already own a purple coat and a red and white dotty coat, so I think blue would be a practical make but that is as much as I have decided.My decision will depend on whether I want my jacket to be water-resistant or not (it has a hood so I am leaning towards yes) and whether fun prints exist in these types of fabrics. I also need to decide how warm I want the jacket to be – do I underline the fashion fabric with some wool for warmth? Should I make a big feature of the zip? I know I definitely want a fun silky lining! Too many decisions! I will definitely be spending the weekend reading all Tasia’s sew-along posts.

Does anyone have any jacket-sewing tips?

p.s. I never knew I used my little finger so much when I type, but am realising just how much after trapping my finger in a door at school (how many times have I told kids not to play with the door?!) It was too sore to knit on my journey home but I am hoping it will calm down and not affect my sewing (it does look better now I have removed my purple nail varnish!)