Tuesday, 14 September 2010

On presents, and stuff in the mail

Today is my birthday. Happy birthday to me (I have to say that, I've found that birthdays are increasingly not very pleasant as I get older, so I'd better make them as nice as possible!).

As if they had known, there was mail from both Gwyn Hug (who makes the "How Much Fabric" reference cards) and Spoonflower (I think my favourite design your own fabric-site, so far anyway).

I helped translate a text about the Fabric Reference Cards for their website, and in return I got a set of cards, yey! I love freebies. Or should I say favours and returns! Win win situations.

First, the cards. I love them, I'm the typical user. I never know what I'm looking for when I go fabric shopping. I always find fabrics that I LOVE, and of course never know how much of them I need since I haven't decided what exactily I want to make, even though I often have a vision or idea. I can now simply check the charts on the cards in my purse and that way make a much more educated guess than ever before about how much I should get (it will be really interesting to see if it makes me buy more or less yardage than before!).

That tint in the picture is blue morning light for you, I didn't set the white balance (I usually never photograph indoors that early in the morning). Interesting. I must find the white balance-button on my camera (too tired to photoshop it now)!

The Spoonflower "gift" was a fabric colour chart (that made me very keen on ordering their fabric, the colours are brilliant!), and a set of fabric swatches.

I ordered them both through their website several weeks ago, and do I hope the shipping is faster when it comes to their fabrics (they would take a few days to produce too... that + this amount of delay in shipping and I would get very restless from waiting!).

But look at all the colours...  beautiful. I might have to frame it!

As I mentioned, I also got a set of fabric swatches. I miss a thin, organic cotton in the set, but the Organic Cotton Interlock Knit, the Quilting Weight Cotton and the Cotton Lawn are all very pretty, and very nice to the touch. I just wish the last two ones were organic too. I'm quite sure I'll either order a print by someone else, or design one myself in the near future.

I think user designed fabrics is a brilliant, brilliant idea, one that makes the future look very bright! I've said it before; I love the internet!

Naturally, since it's self-stitched september, I had to wear something self-made today. So, here's the first proof that I actually do try to be a dedicated follower though not member of the movement; my drape drape pleat tuck dress. It worked well (but the fabric stretched quite a lot in the "skirt". The boots may not be my first choice for work (more so for parties), but my work boots are having an autumn makeover at my favourite shoemaker's (is that how you write that, really?).

The red hook on the door was an early birthday present from myself to me, it's a metal branch-shaped hook called Branch. I fell in love with it and had to buy it. I also needed a handle on my closet door, so it was kind of a perfect excuse to get one...

I'm considering getting myself a second birthday gift too, Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers, by Julie Cole and Sharon Czachor. I saw it in a shop, really liked it (it's full of sewing techniques, as the title indicates, that are very well explained from what I could see) but was put off by the very heavy price-tag. I've now found it a lot cheaper on the internet (amazon.co.uk).

It seems like the perfect book for me, I really don't know how to sew, at least not how to sew the correct way! 

Does anyone own it, or have any other experience of using it as a reference? If so, is it as good as it seems?

Monday, 6 September 2010

drape drape vol. 2, no.6, drape dress

Now, this dress was a nightmare to sew!

There are only three pattern-pieces, and it looks simple enough, but I actually had to wear it to be able to figure out how to sew the draped cowl-collar. Loads of pinning, not easy when you're wearing a half finished, interestingly constructed garment in a material with loads of drape.

I then took it off, put it on my (almost finished) dressform and was lost again! Wore it once more, pinned a bit more, put it back on the dressform and eventually got it right, phew!

The front piece is one long piece that is wider in the bottom front (with two seams there, the side-seams), wraps around the neck (with one seam all around the neck and center front) to make the collar and is tucked underneath itself and attached to the side seam again in the front, to form the front cowl. Comprehensible?

It's actually a bit difficult to even put the dress on now that it's finished, it looks like nothing when not worn, and totally comes to life when you wear it. I like that about draped clothes, they need a body in them to look good, it's a bit like everyday magic!

The only change I did to the pattern is that I took it in at the side-seams, quite a bit, to make it more fitted. For anyone planning to make it, I recommend comparing the back piece to a jersey dress or a pattern that you like before sewing, to get an idea if it's fitted enough for you. It did look a bit sack-like before I took it in.

Here's the original version in the book. The material I used is a viscose/lycra jersey with a bit of drape, the version in the book is made of silk.

I do wish it would be easier to buy silk-jersey here, I love silk and would be prepared to pay for it once in a while. I guess I'll have to start buying fabric online!

Something I've forgotten to mention about the drape drape-patterns is that you're supposed to mark the material on the right side. I don't like to, so I've marked it on the wrong side so far, which makes following the instructions in the book quite difficult.

I think from now on I'll make all the marks on both sides of my traced patterns (ie transfer them to the back side) so that my projects don't become mirrored compared to the pictures in the books, and I don't have to go through brain-exercise every time I sew drape drape-clothes...

Update: Here's a link to an excellent list of Japanese sewing-terms. I'm going to use it myself!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The easiest shirt ever

This was a bit of an experiment. But I like the result, as simple as it is.

After making 5 pieces of clothing from my new aquisition "drape drape 2" (that I love), out of which 2 were easy, one was reasonable, one was a bit of a challenge and one almost impossible to figure out the construction of, I needed something uncomplicated!
I wanted to try to make as simple as possible a pattern for a jersey shirt, to see how it would fit/hang on the body. The result is a very 1980's, very relaxed but quite versatile t-shirt.

Sorry about the silly hairdo, but I got overwhelmed with a sudden urge to make an assymetric do as I tried the shirt on! Must be a side-effect from growing up in the 80's...(nostalgia is a powerful force)!
The pattern is basically a square, 60x60cm's, with a 30 cm long neck opening and 20cm long sleeve openings. The neckline is lowered 2,5cm's in the front and 1,5 cm's in the back to make it more comfortable. Click on the picture to see a larger version of the diagram!

If you want to make one, you can either make a pattern first, or cut the fabric straight away.

When you cut the material, make sure the greatest direction of stretch is across the chest (it should stretch more horizontally than vertically when worn).

If you’re a larger or smaller size it’s easy to grade it up or down. Every step on the size-chart is 4cm’s in the bust (the most important measurement here), so if you’re a size 36 you should add 1cm on each side and make the square 61×61 cm’s (=4cm’s bigger in total) and if you’re a 42 you should add 4cm’s so that the square is 64×64 cm’s (=16 cm’s bigger in total). Check out a size-chart HERE

Time to sew. First sew the shoulder- and side-seams.

Then fold the edges on the sleeve- and neck-openings and topstitch from the right side of the fabric, etiher with a twin needle (on an ordinary sewing machine), or with a cover stitch if you’ve got a coverstitch machine or a convertible overlocker.

I reinforced the neckline (because of the direction of stretch that makes the neckline stretch more than the sleeve openings) with a strip of fabric (f.ex. the selvage) cut along the ribbing of the fabric, to make it as non-stretchy as possible, that I put underneath the folded edge. I cut it the same width as the fabric I folded around the neckline and a couple of centimeters shorter (I stretched the ribbon a bit to keep the neckline neat and not stretched out).

And that’s it, you’re done!

drape drape vol.2, no.14, gather drape skirt

First, a word of warning: if you decide to make this skirt, do check the size very carefully. It's very fitted, which it should be, but if your hips are 92cm's (like mine) and you decide to make it a size right in between M (88 cm hips) and M/L  (92cm hips) because that size has worked well for you with other patterns from the same book, then think again. Make a M/L.

I actually really like that the sizing of the patterns correspond exactily to the measurements in the size chart. Even though it meant I had to do quite a bit of extra work on it.

Correct size-tables are such a rare thing in the world of sewing (a fact I find incomprehensible).
I had to cut a new - quite big - backpiece because I simply didn't fit into it at first, and I didn't have enough material to make an entirely new skirt. Fortunately it worked quite well! I don't think anyone can tell.

Now that I've overcome that little problem, I love this skirt! It looks almost identical to the skirt in the book, it's really flattering to wear (believe me, I look really bad in some pencil skirts) and despite being narrow it's actually comfortable.

 Here's the original skirt in the book. The only real difference I can see is that it looks a bit more gathered at the hips. I did measure, it said gather to 20cm's, and I did, so it might be due to different weights of material.

And finally, the Acne Lanvin that it totally resembles. Fun. I live in the Acne capital of the world, people will believe I've copied them, but oh, no...

drape drape vol. 2, no.7, tuck drape dress

I can't decide on my feelings about this dress. I really like the drapes on the skirt-bit, but it feels a bit like a pajama with the very wide top-part. That might very well have to do with my choice of material though, which was quite unvoluntary as I had failed to see that it requires a 165 cm's wide fabric. The one I bought for it (a viscose jersey with thin stripes in two shades of red) was only 140cm's wide.

This was the only material in big enough a piece I had at home. I plan to dye it a dark grey or deep blue shade.
The sewing was rather straight forward, not too difficult, but I had to sew the side-seams twice for two reasons: it was way too wide for me at first, and I made the top fold the wrong way at first and ended up with a bit of a bag in the back of it. It was a bit lucky that I had to take it in, that meant I didn't have to unpick any seams to correct the back fold (I just cut it all off)!

There are only two pattern pieces, the sleeves, upper back an front piece are one piece, and the lower back is another.

I do plan to copy the draping on the skirt-bit. I've tried on fabulous Vivienne Westwood-dresses with a very similar drape all over them, I want one! I even bought one on sale that I returned, it wasn't perfect for me (a bit too wide, a bit too short and a nice but not very discreet = wearable pink colour) and still quite expensive, so I was sensible, cried a tear and parted with it...

Update: This is the dress as it looks in the book. I forgot to mention that I omitted the slits in the sleeves. I thought it might be a bit too flirtatious for me to be able to wear it at work, and cold in winter.

Odd. When I look at the pictures of my dress, I quite like that it's black and white and not darker. I may have to wait a bit and actually wear it a few times before dying it.

I'll keep you posted on that one!

drape drape vol. 2, no 4, drape top

This has to be one of my favourite t-shirts! It's SO comfortable, SO easy to sew, and SO not your standard t-shirt! It's the first project I made from my recent purchase, Japanese pattern-book  "drape drape 2".

Other reasons why it's fabulous: there is only one pattern piece, only three seams and you can fold it perfectly flat to store it, despite the drape on one side when worn.

I made one to try the pattern out (the solid grey one), wore it for two days in a stretch (which I normally wouldn't, but it's loose enough to stay fresh for quite a bit longer than normal t-shirts) and made a second one on the third day. Then I stopped myself for a while. Overdoing things is not good!

I can't promise I won't make more of it though! It takes about an hour and a half to make one, perfect.

The first version is made of a rather ordinary cotton jersey, a remnant that I like better and better the more I use it. I only have enough left for one more project now, I wish I had more of it. 

I made the second version in a striped Viscose/Lycra jersey that I bought specifically for this top (auch a rare occasion for me to buy a fabric for a specific garment and actually make it! I must do that more often), I wanted to see how the stripes would end up to get a better idea of how the pattern is constructed. And I thought id would look good (of course...). I made the neckline a bit less deep than in the original version since there's quite a high risk of my bra showing with the first one I made... I still love it. Comfy.

Both tops are made in a size in between M and M/L, which is where I am according the size-table in the book. Actually I'm a M up top and M/L at the bottom, and I'm a bit scared of too baggy clothes so I figured I'd make it a in-between size. It worked for jersey, more about that in a later post!

I'm really glad I bought this book, I've already made a few things from it so: more to follow! And I got a card-reader for the SDHD-card in my new camera that my computer refuses to read, so posting pictures is suddenly a whole lot easier!

I also had the ambition to photograph my clothes in the daylight, it failed, I might just have to accept the fact that I am a nocturnal creature...

Update: Here's what it looks like in the book. This original version is in silk.I think both cotton and viscose worked really well comparatively (especially regarding the fact that the's almost no silk jersey in the shops here, though I do love it).
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