Thursday, 21 June 2012

Mac Thoughts

You may, or may not, be aware of the fact that it rains a lot in Ireland. There is a perfectly good meteorological explanation for the preposterous amounts of precipitation that fall here - we are the fire wall for anything nasty that heads east across the Atlantic - it breaks on Ireland; the first land mass it comes to and by the time the low pressures hit Great Britain and Europe they are all used up: the crazy Europeans get the sun, we get the rain - c'est la vie!

So it should come as no surprise that I've been thinking about making a summer raincoat.

I have exacting demands:

  • Not a traditional trench - don't want epaulettes and buttons and buttonholes - too fussy for what I have in mind
  • Must have one piece fronts and backs - no waist seams
  • Semi-fitted - not swinging like the 1950s or maternity wear but loose enough to close without having to suck it in
  • No Belts - sway back girls like me don't suit belted coats, we are forever adjusting the gathers and pleats at the back.
  • Buttons are OK but not a million of them
  • Double breasted - maybe
  • Pockets - without a doubt
  • Preferably just above knee length
  • Lined in a fancy quilters cotton type of colourful fabric
  • No zips - I have enough trouble putting in a 7" skirt zip let alone a 22" or longer coat one
And this is where you, dear readers, come in. I've done some research, searched the world, and found some designs I'd like your opinions on, furthermore I warmly welcome any suggestions of patterns that meet the above criteria.

Here goes:

First Burda downloadable. Problem here is the printing and tiling and adding seam allowances and so on and so on yawn......

1. The dreaded waist seams but maybe I could patch the pattern pieces together?

2. Good

3.  Eurofashionweb Also downloadable, would have to lengthen this and I'm concerned the back pleat will be too swingy.

Then I found a German site simply called Pattern Company. Absolutely gorgeous stuff, all the usual and some really unusual pieces too. I'm guessing the instructions will be in German though.

4. I know it's belted but if left off do you think the coat moves into swingy mode?

5. Too plain?

 6. Stunning, but as a raincoat?

7. Nearly there, but the belt is built in....and it's raglan sleeves so no easing required - yippee! Need to lengthen


A Danish company called Onion

8. Fairly traditional rain coat style, but the instructions are in Danish and that's a tad more difficult than German

9.  This one has a tie at one side so I'm not too sure what it would look like open.

My usual - Vogue

10. Sandra Bettzina - Kimono sleeves but lots of darts.

 11. I actually have this pattern and have made the dress but never the coat. It's reversible. Would it look good as a raincoat?

Lots and lots to choose from and maybe some others I haven't even found yet. However, I have failed to mention one thing..... I should be doing this......

No room for sewing for the next few weeks. Ah well, by the time this lot is marked and sent away I'll have my raincoat fabric, pattern and sewing room back - and then, only then, will the sun be shining!

Thanks for reading. Ruth

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Parole for Prisoner 101

You may remember my prisoner smock - Burda May 101/2012 and how disappointed I was with the sack-like look. Many of you very kindly offered commiserations and some great styling tips and improvements I could try. Most of these included creating a waist line. Oh yes you know me well and this is what I need. I really don't suit straight up and down looks. But my enthusiasm waned so the smock was rolled up into a little ball and tossed into the stash box - out of sight - while I contemplated its fate and got on with real life.
I love the cross weave cotton though - organic, a muted blue tone, casual and yet classy - I didn't want to not use it, if you know what I mean?

Then Prttynpnk posted this .........................       

Classic and simple pencil skirt with colour complimentary blouse - just beautiful. 

So the smock was dragged out of the box followed by a swift snip snip snip of the scissors. The front and back seams were ripped apart, the pocket openings sewn closed and this is what is left of my original 2m of organic cross-weave cotton. It is a quite narrow fabric and having already cut it I was going to be limited in what I could make.

 Thankfully the smock fronts and backs were cut on the lengthwise grain without any shaping at waist or hips, so I had 4 rectangular pieces, already underlined.
It's a bit of a mess inside where the pockets used to be but the clipping required for the pockets to work left me with very little fabric to tidy up with.

I dug out an old pattern for a pencil skirt free from a magazine that my mother gave me ages ago: self-facing waist with long darts front and back which are exactly the same shape on both by the way. The colour matching lace was put to good use too and slip stitched around the hem to look like my petticoat was hanging down. 

I had to make a side split to enable normal walking and ran the lace up to the point of the split. I mitred the corners to make it sit sit nice and flat too.

So, parole has been granted to Burda 101. She showed unremitting remorse at the hearing and the parole board granted her a second chance. She has been warned to behave well and contribute to society like a good citizen should and she promised she would, except she acts more like linen with those wrinkles.

The top is my first RTW item in almost three years. It's from TK Maxx and the colours went so well with the skirt that I couldn't resist. Nor could I resist mucking about with either - it didn't look like this when I bought it. It was two rectangles with seams on the outside and a belt threaded through buttonholes on either side - like a beach cover-up. I created sleeves and removed the excess fabric that was floating around the outside of the blouse so that it could be tucked in when required. I kept the belt to use as such or maybe a scarf or maybe a twilly round my wrist.

We don't have the warm, golden light of the south of France here - too far north - but what I do have is a wearable skirt.
Have you ever re-hashed an already made garment or just admitted that despite the hours of work you've put into something that it just doesn't work?

Thanks for reading. Ruth

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Parallel Lines

My eyes are going together......all that black and white, big stripes, little stripes, spots and dots and parallel lines. See here if you've no idea what I'm talking about.

Tunic 3 done

Cardigan tunic to match done. Exact same pattern pieces except all the front bits were cut on the selvedge edges and trimmed with a bias strip of spots: all the back pieces cut on the fold. I added another piece to the sleeves to make them full length instead of 3/4 - no closures though - think I'll use a brooch.

And a bonus draped T-shirt into the bargain. 
So that's three tunics, a cardigan (which is really another tunic), a T-shirt and two pair of trousers (not the white ones in the pic - they're very old RTW). Not bad for about £35, a bit of time and lots of experimenting with fabric patterns.

Katherine Tilton Vogue V8817 
Just had to do it......... thank you Vogue stylist.

And Debbie still lookin' good and wearing black & white parallel lines!
Thanks for reading. Ruth

Monday, 11 June 2012

Mix 'n' Match

This is part of my recent Vogue $3.99 sale mass pattern purchase and I have been thinking long and hard about the mix and match fabrics that I could use. I finally decided and selected a range of black and whites and a few greys - all stretch, some cotton, some lycra - all from Tissu.  

The pattern is Katherine Tilton V8817 classified as easy and comes with 2 distinct tops each with 2 variations. I made view C: a tunic with asymmetric hem line, and three different fabrics.
It is an easy and quick tunic to make although I have written some alternative cutting and construction instructions below to make it even easier and more economical. So far I've made 2.

This is the black and white zebra tunic. The body and lower sleeves were cut in a solid black 4-way stretch lycra; the middle sleeves and top were cut in in black & white polka dot cotton stretch; the top and upper sleeves cut in a lycra zebra print.

The instructions with the pattern tell you explicitly which bits to cut in what fabric so it's not that difficult - the hard part is choosing the fabrics! I tried this version with black leggings - not something I would normally wear but the long tunic covers all the areas that you would rather the public don't see. I asked DH if I looked like I should be in Las Vegas - but he said it looked alright - yeah but we know what he has said about other things too!

The first one I actually made was the grey version.

Again a solid fabric for the main body with a patterned lycra for the uppers. However I didn't buy a third grey - I got confused when ordering - but did think the greys were rather dull when put together. I had this bit of orange cotton jersey in the box which wasn't used for the Stash Attack and used it to lift the colours. I like grey with bright colours like lime green, pink and, of course, orange.

There is no contrast middle bit in the pattern so I added a folded piece of orange and sewed it in between the upper and lower back to create a continuity from front to back.

With clever cutting of your fabric you can get tonnes out of this pattern. When ordering from Tissu you have to buy full metres, no halves allowed, so I bought 2m of the solid grey (the pattern calls for 1.4m for size 14).
I had enough left over to make a matching pair of pull on simple, simple trousers.

This pattern is McCalls M6247 by Nancy Zieman and each item in the envelope only takes 30mins to sew (give or take). Great, step by step instructions with tips and tricks thrown in. There's no tailoring or fitting with these pants - they are really just two tubes sewed together in the middle with an elastic waist. Again this something I wouldn't normally wear but once again a long tunic covers a multitude of sins. I cut a 14 in the trousers but really could have gone down a size - the crotch hangs a bit low!

Now onto the nitty gritty and possibly some good advice if you plan to make this tunic.

The pattern calls for
1.4m of fabric
0.6m contrast 1
0.5m contrast 2

All pieces are cut on the fold except for middle and lower sleeves and the neck band.
Now look at the layout recommendation......
There's a lot of wasted fabric there.

So here's what I did. Firstly I could only order full metre lengths so I got in total:
2m fabric grey
2m fabric black
2m fabric fine B&W stripes
1m contrast zebra
1m contrast grey leaves
1m contrast broad B& W stripes
1m contrast B&W polka dots

I placed the lower front on the fold but reversed the lower back pattern piece (heads to tails) and so that the fold edge was 1.5cm from the selvedge. This meant I had a centre back seam but that's OK especially as I was saving so much fabric.
I placed all the other pieces for the contrasts making sure of straight of grains and cut these into tight 'squares' but not cutting the pieces out yet.

Then I positioned these prepared bits on top of the remaining contrasts lining up the folds, hence knowing that the grains were straight. Pinned through all thicknesses and cut the two fabrics in one go.

In reality, for a few pennies more and a few extra cms, I get two tunics for the price and effort of one.

Now the alternative construction technique. We are using the properties of the fabric here as it is stretch to make sewing much easier and quicker. As always - press as you go.

1. Sew the middle front to the upper front as per instructions. You can either topstitch or serge the seam.

2. Sew the shoulder seams - upper front to back. Finish this seam with a zig-zag or serge.

3. Attach the neck band. Either use your preferred method or follow the pattern instructions. Doing this now instead of at the end means you are working with a much smaller item and so it is easier to manipulate and you get the hardest part of sewing out of the way early.

4. Now sew the upper sleeves to the upper top. Use the shirt method - keep the whole thing flat - no need to ease the sleeve heads - just match the centres with the shoulder seams and the edges with the edges and gently stretch the sleeve into place.
Do not sew the sides yet.

This is what the upper half looks like at this stage - and lying flat on the table.

5. Sew the sleeve bands to each other and then to the upper sleeves, finishing the seams in your usual way.

6. Sew the centre back seam - if you cut out like I did. I didn't bother to finish this seam as it was cut on the selvedges and won't fray.

7. Sew the lower front to the front.

8. If you wish to use a contrast strip at the back, cut 1" wide long enough to fit the back and press in two lengthwise. Position the raw edges to the raw edges of the upper back - place the lower back piece on the top and sew in place. Finish the seam.

9. Now you can sew the sides in one go - starting a the sleeve hem and finishing at the tunic hem. Take extra care at the contrast joins. Pin perpendicular to the seam to hold the fabric together so that you get a nice even join at the sides.

Sew side seam again from upper arm to upper body for extra strength under the arm.

10. Finally hem the sleeves and the tunic.

With this cutting method I have enough plain black left over to make another pair of speedy trousers to wear with the zebra tunic.

And this one is ready to go. I now have 1m of fine striped black & white,  a 0.5m of zebra, a little bit of polka dot and 0.6m of thick striped black and white leftover - I'm thinking of making a cardigan based on this pattern but instead of cutting the fronts on the fold, cut them on the selvedge edge and then simply turn in the selvedge as the front opening.  I'll keep you posted.

Hope this has been of help.

Thanks for reading. Ruth

PS - I've completed this tunic now - go to Parallel Lines posting for the finished view. 13th June 2012