Plans and goals for 2013 – A Review

Do you remember Karen started the sewlution jar in January? Well I threw my name into the jar with this main goal: I am going to make less but what I make will be better. Lets see how I did…

couture couture jacket liberty hawthorn Floral Cambie

I learnt some more couture techniques from reading and online tutorials, which I used to make my turquoise couture jacket; The majority of this was finished by hand, which took lots of time, but was to a finish I’m really proud of. I took my time making dresses this year, using higher quality fabrics, and spending much more time on the muslin process and using better pressing techniques to get a better finished garment. I’m not sure if I have really made less, but most of what I have made will be worn for years to come. I’ve made more classic quality pieces and less impulsive fast fashion garments, so I think I can say my Sewlution was achieved, oh Mistress of the Jar!

Other goals I set were:

  • I will not need to be so sentimental and protective of my creations.
    Did you see the giant bag of clothes I took to the charity shops at the end of Me-Made-May? It included many me-made garments that just weren’t getting worn. A couple of garments were kept for recycling, but these are still in the to-sew pile.
  • donationsI will finish what I have started (or get rid of it/recycle it). Errr… not as much success for this. When I moved house I did get rid of loads of scraps and pieces, but I also had to buy more storage for my stash :-S oops.
  • I will do some of the Craftsy courses I have signed up for! I have used the Block of the Month and Free Motion Quilting courses to make my Black and White and Red All Over quilt,  and I’ve been watching knitting classes to learn how to get a better fit in knitting garments (finished cardigan is still drying, must turn heating up!).
  • I really want to make bunting! I made some bunting for the Crafty magazine fox competition, but sadly I didn’t win (I think my tutorial was much too long for a magazine). But that means that I can now share my super cute tutorial with you all instead!
  • I am going to learn to take better pictures. I have a tripod and a remote control, and have been taking hundreds of pictures to get 5 decent ones for the blog. I set up a proper background to take photos of my girly cupcakes.
  • girly cupcakesI am going to be a better blog-reader. I am better at commenting using twitter, but there is still the issue of getting past comment validation systems on a phone. Still a point to work on as I have loved all the great comments I’ve recieved this week.

retro recipes

  • I am going to explore new recipes. I only made 5 recipes as part of my retro recipe plan, but they were all great dishes that I know I will return to. I will carry on trying the classic recipes, but found it tricky this year with my wrists bandaged up.

I think I had a pretty good go at those plans, but the main change has been my attitude to my crafting; more planning and precision has led to more successes. If you want to read my plans for 2014 you can see them here.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been reading and commenting this year 🙂 Hope you have a fantastic new year and I’ll see you in 2014!

Constructing a couture-style jacket

You may remember that one of my Sewlutions this year, inspired by the lovely Karen, was

I am going to try to make less but make those things better (with more focus on fitting, finishing and doing things properly).

Well I think my next almost-finished garment should certainly meet the goal; my Burda Style jacket has taken almost 3 months to plan and make, so I hope all the extra time invested has made it a better make. Since the jacket will be fully-lined, I remembered to take some pictures of the couture style techniques I have been using, before they get hidden from sight. You might call it a behind the seams (geddit?!) look at my most recent sewing project.

I spent a few weeks making a muslin of the pattern, doing a Full Bust Adjustment on the princess seams, and then used the muslin as my pattern. I underlined the whole piece in silk organza (to give the loosely-woven cotton bouclé some structure), so transferred all the markings onto the organza before using this to cut out the main fabric. All the pattern pieces were then hand-basted along the stitching lines before I then hand-basted them together.

organza b

Despite having made a muslin I was happy with, the fit around the bust took a lot of tweaking to get right. I remember spending 2-3hours one night unpicking and re-basting the same 4″ of seam to get it right, and it took a week from cutting before I felt confident to sew on my machine.seams b

One of the main benefits of using a silk organza underlining is that it is so easy to catch-stitch the seam allowances to it, without touching the main fashion fabric at all. All the seams (I mean ALL, not just the important ones) were pressed flat then open, over a rolled up towel (my makeshift tailor’s ham) where necessary. Seams were clipped or notched before I sewed them flat against the jacket.

Once I had sewn the jacket together I had the next panic – welt pockets. Having never made them before, I did a practise on some scraps and found it wasn’t as tricky as I imagined. I measured the markings a million times before I sewed the welts in place, and then sat staring at the pockets for ages before I was brave enough to cut holes in my jacket. I finished the welts by hand, and fortunately the texture of the bouclé camouflaged any minor imperfections.
welt pockets bI read that a couture jacket takes 70-80 hours to construct, including 17 hours to set-in the sleeves by hand, so the sleeves went in surprisingly smoothly. I basted the underarm and fitted the sleeve cap (must remember, fit left sleeve if right-handed!) in the mirror, before transferring the markings to the other sleeve. I took a bit off the height of the sleeve cap, which meant it fitted well with just a little easing by hand needed. I added a sleeve head after sewing the seam to be sure of the seam accuracy; the sleeve head made such a difference to my lumpy shoulders and I almost considered omitting the shoulder pads, but decided they gave a slightly better silhouette. The shoulder pads are raglan pads and were pad-stitched in place, again just to the underlining of the jacket.shoulders bWith the shoulders in place I could add the lining. The lining was cut the same as the jacket, except with an extra couple of inches at the centre back for movement ease and slightly lowered shoulders/sleeve cap to accommodate the shoulder pads. It is joined to the jacket at the contrast band; first I hand basted the lining in place to the jacket seam allowances, then I pressed and stitched the band over the lining.
hand sewing b

This has been a lot of work, more than I would normally go into, but the jacket should hopefully be worn for many years. I got rather frustrated with the time needed to hand-baste the seams and hand sew all the seam-allowances, but yesterday I was rather glad of the hand-sewing as it meant I could work on my jacket AND enjoy the rare sunshine. I took my jacket and a sewing kit to the park near my house and sat sewing while tourists wandered past. It was a much nicer environment than my living room, which is currently covered in a million little threads; if you haven’t used it before, I should warn you that bouclé can fray.pros and cons b

All that is left to do is decide on the sleeve length and finish the sleeve/lining hems, and attach the poppers/press-studs. Hopefully there will be a finished outfit post before the week is over…

 

Self-Portrait Blouse

Do you remember I said I had some silk I wanted to use this half-term? And Gertie’s book was in my reading list… well here is my muslin of the Portrait Blouse.

self-portrait blouse 2

A muslin in Liberty lawn?! Am I crazy?! Well yes, but in this particular case I’m not – this wasn’t meant to be a muslin, however after wearing around the house there are a few more tweaks I will make before I make the silk version. I will definitely be wearing it, but its not quite perfect yet (although I’m sure a non-sewist wouldn’t notice). Also, as much as I LOVE the print (pink and purple scottie dogs!) I’m not sure its the most flattering on me – too much cream when worn alone, although it goes perfectly with all my cardigans.

self-portrait blouse 4

Gertie’s sizes are bigger on the hips than on normal patterns. Yay! I exactly matched up with the measurements for once! Hoorah! Except that was using my full bust measurement, so I still had to adjust the pattern and do a FBA. I use the Palmer & Pletsch Fit For Real People method. Amazon tells me I purchased the book in July 2010 however it is only recently (within the past 6 months) have I flipped over the page and seen the “Y” alteration for when you need to add more than 1 1/2″ which makes for a much better fit for me around the shoulders. I can’t believe it has taken me a couple of years to read that properly, but I know how to do it now (instead of adding all the extra fullness at once, it gets spread over two slashes).

self-portrait blouse 1

When I was making the muslin-muslin and this version everything fitted nicely, however when I actually wore the blouse to do things other than stand and pose I noticed it wasn’t quite right. When I moved around the blouse kept shifting up a little, so next time I’m going to move the bust darts down about an inch.

Other changes I made were to add 4 or 5 inches to the length (I like tops to be slightly longer anyway, but the instructions said it was a short top). I kept the dart/tucks the same length so there is a sort of peplum/flare going on that looks good over jeans.

self-portrait blouse 5

Speaking of jeans, these are the pair I started in the summer (do you remember this teaser back in July?) I still need to adjust the waist (too high waisted at the front, but the back is fine) before the pattern is perfect and I can show detailed pictures of my denim-clad derriere. They are totally wearable with a belt and a hip-length top and this time I even added some metal rivets on the pockets.

self-portrait blouse 3

But back to the Portrait Blouse. I also omitted the facings for the neckline and used…

self-portrait blouse binding

HANDMADE bias-binding! I used the Coletterie’s tutorial for making continuous bias binding so I could save a decent-sized and shaped piece of fabric (it is Liberty lawn after all). Then I applied it using Tasia’s method which was AMAZING. I didn’t quite do it in the same way as Tasia as I had already spent time pressing my bias-binding but I finally get how binding is supposed to be applied!inside out

The inside almost looks at good as the outside (although in need of a press after being worn all day) and has French seams everywhere. This make definitely counts towards my Sewlution to make things properly in case Karen does another check on us soon!

My flat is super-insulated and warm (I only have one radiator heating the whole place and I’m sat at the computer wearing just one layer) so I kinda forgot it was still winter outside as I was making this. I think it will be a little while before I can actually wear it in real life. Meanwhile the silk has been pre-washed and ironed and is waiting for a fresh rotary cutter blade before it can be cut.

self-portrait blouse

The excessive amount of photos is courtesy of my new remote clicker thingamabob. 80 pictures taken in a few minutes. I still need to get the hang of sorting the settings before I jump in front of the camera, but the remote made it so much easier to pose.

 

 

 

 

 

Plans and goals for 2013

I have just the one row of scallops (and darning in ends on some squares, I had to sew them together first as they were taking up too much/all of my floor space) so fingers-crossed I will be able to take some proper pictures tomorrow.

IMAG0682

In the meantime I thought I should get up and stop sitting around in my pjs (just one more row of crochet is currently a couple of hours!) so here are my crafty plans for the year. The first few goals are what I submitted for the sewlution I posted on Karen’s blog – she is going to check we keep them at the end of the year – and the rest will have to be checked by my lovely readers.

  • I am going to make less but what I make will be better. I’m specifically thinking of seam finishes, precise measuring and cutting, perfect fitting. I have enough cheap and cheerful tops I have made and worn but some of the most recent ones are starting to look shabby – it is okay to make a few fun tops in a crazy print but, after jumping on the blogging bandwagon and reading Overdressed, I think my wardrobe should be built to last. I want to make a proper winter coat by the end of the year and make more hand-knitted items.
  • I will not need to be so sentimental and protective of my creations. If I don’t have a wearable garment I will still have enjoyed myself and learned skills, so I need to stop being so protective of the unwearable garments and actually turn them into something else! At school one of the current trends is how children view learning – do they feel success when they have got 10/10 or is the challenge and learning experience more important for them? Which is more important – the finished garment, or the lessons learned in the process?
  • I will finish what I have started (or get rid of it/recycle it). (see above) At the moment I have 2 blouses, a skirt and some jeans cut and partially made – the jeans were left until I lost a bit of weight before fitting them, the skirt went horribly wrong (how can 2 makes with the same pattern differ so much?!) and the blouses have slight sleeve fitting issues. No wonder my pin-cushion looks rather empty!
  • I will do some of the Craftsy courses I have signed up for! This year I did the Couture Dress and Jeanius courses and they were amazing and I learned SO much. I have other courses lined up in my account that I need to find time to do, plus I have lots of techniques in my pile of Threads magazines and books waiting to be used.
  • I really want to make bunting! I’m very surprised I haven’t actually made any yet, so this year I will get around to making some to jazz up my little flat. I have some crochet books that could be perfect for making little things to hang on garlands, or I could recycle and reuse all the fabric/projects going spare.
  • I am going to learn to take better pictures. The blogs I love reading are the ones with great pictures, and I want that to be true for this little crafty place. I think my pictures have improved, but they are not always as good as they could be, so I am going to learn to use all the settings on my camera properly and make the most of natural light. I suppose I should include taking better action shots.
  • I am going to be a better blog-reader. I LOVE reading comments from readers on my blog but I am not great at commenting on other blogs. I catch up on blogs on my reader apps on my phone or iPad, but there is no comment option on them, and by the time I have got home via the supermarket and made dinner etc then I have forgotten what and where I wanted to comment! I am going to try to star the blogs I want to comment on so I remember when I get home and can have a comment session, however I am finding some blog platforms wont let me comment from the iPad – if anyone has any apps to help me keep in touch please let me know.
  • I am going to explore new recipes. When I say new I mean new-to-me. I acquired some of my Grandma’s old recipe books but haven’t tried any of the recipes yet. Instead of looking online for recipe ideas I will look for inspiration in books! In my snazzy blog button you can see my Grandma’s old red binder (full of cuttings and handwritten recipes) and The Radiation Cookery Book (the 35th edition printed in January 1949, designed for fancy new gas ovens!)

retro recipes