Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Making an A-line skirt pattern from a straight skirt pattern

This is the pattern I used for the skirt in the cling wrap bodice dress and both of the Vogue 8728 dresses. I started out with the skirt pattern from my Vogue 8555 Hibiscus dress. I'd spent ages mucking around to get the darts right and lowering the waist for my sway back, so I knew it fitted (as well as I could get it to, anyway). I remembered seeing this tip somewhere and from what I could remember it made sense that it would work, so I had a search through some of my books. There it was in Enid Gilchrist's 70's Styles.

Basically, you just slash from the hem up to the bottom of each dart, close the darts and viola! Perfectly fitting A-line.

I didn't add the suggested extensions to the sides, which means that mine are kind of slim fitting through the hips but that was what I wanted.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The stash

How did my stash grow so big? (Although, let's be honest, it's quite modest compared to what some people have.)

My Mother finally realised that all of those fabrics etc. that she bought when we were kids (I'm over 40) were never going to be sewn by her - she doesn't even like sewing! Bam! Her stash decreases, mine increases.

A couple of trips a year back to Sydney where I can buy ultra cheap and different fabric (compared to Brisbane) and feel obligated to take advantage of the fact while I am there - tigerboy even encourages this!

Finding PR and deciding that if I can buy a pattern for $5 or less from o'seas it is not worth my time drafting it (then of course, I need to take advantage of the fact that the cost per pattern decreases as you buy more because of the international shipping).

The odd find of 6 metres of satin for $2 or a large silk dress for $3 at the charity shop ........... the very occassional time I go to Spotlight and actually find something I really like on their clearance table ......... you get the picture.

As for machines - I have six. My first overlocker (ebay purchase years ago) which was a PITA for me to use and was replaced with a new one from Aldi a few years ago which has definately been worth what I paid. My first machine which was a hand-me-down from my Grandmother in my late teens (still gets used). A new Brother (fairly basic) that I bought a few years ago because they had a good sale on and Mum thought I really deserved a new machine - in a lot of respects I still prefer my old Janome. I've got one of those little dinky 'toy' sewing machines that only does straight stitch - Spotlight was clearing them out for $15 ea. - surprisingly, it actually sews quite well. And of course there's the old Singer that a teacher gave me as the school was getting rid of some of their old machines - it doesn't get used, it's a back up (I brought it home and put it downstairs in the rumpus room, which we never use. Tigerboy happened to go in there and almost in a panic tells me there's another sewing machine!
"Is there?"
"Yes! It's in the rumpus room!"
"Huh! Fancy that."
"Honey, they're breeding! How did it get there?"
"Guess they are breeding"

He was perplexed.) The Brother, Janome and Aldi overlocker are permanently set up.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Butterick 5672 - what a wadder!!

You know the beginning of the story I'm sure: You see a great dress Pattern Review, the reviewer says it was really easy but you kind of doubt that that style will work on you. You see the same dress again and again - they all look fantastic, on every           single          body           shape. Joy, oh joy, I've even got that pattern! A couple of people say that they had to take the side seams in because of the Big4's ease but apart from that it was a piece of cake and wow, it looks great on all of them! Ok, you'll have to do a sway back alteration but that's standard, no    big     deal - I'm whipping this baby up this afternoon!

Well, here's the end of the story: You are the one person in the world that this dress does not work on!!!! You knew it deep down but you went ahead anyway. When will you learn? This is not the first time this has happened either - wise up!

Now for the middle of the story: I removed the ridiculous amount of ease that Butterick has put into the pattern for this dress - I think I ended up with a size -58 for the waist by the time I was done, and it was still too big in the waist. I thought I'd get away with not doing an FBA - as you can see from the pics, I was dead wrong on that score.  As if all of that wasn't enough, I made so many incredibly stupid mistakes making this dress (and often, the same one, over and over and over) that I started to wonder if I had early onset alzheimers - oh, you have no idea.

And looky, looky - what a droopy mess it is. (Not to mention that the sway back adjustment that I'd had pinned and marked perfectly and then took out in a flash of idiocy I could not replicate.)  Those side views .......... I'm ready for a joey. I could say I was going for the juxtaposition of tight and droopy in the same garment but I'd be telling a lie.

However, I am me and decided, I can fix this. Delusional! After some more marathon pinning to try to determine if pulling it up here and across there and generally all over the place would work, this is what I ended up with (no, I didn't even bother to turn the machine on this time, I wasn't that delusional).

It's kind of hard to see but I've taken more than an inch (prob. closer to two) out of the waist and down the hip - it's sticking out but you can kind of see a line down the right side. A lot less marsupialesque from the side but still adding weird bulges where I don't need them. Incredible amounts of strain around the left bossom (it looks like it's staging a break out). Those side seams are creeping around to the front. A bit too tight across the derrriere. I know the pics are a bit crooked but I think the back hemline is coming up. All that and and it is still a bit droopy at the front.

I finally, officially give up on this dress, it is just not for me and I don't think there is any saving it. I think this is the first time I have admitted defeat without even planning to reuse the fabric for something else. Bye bye maroon dress, it wasn't a pleasure and I never want to see you again.

Maybe I need to start looking for patterns that didn't work for anyone?

EDIT: Apparently one other PR review had a similar experience, so I'm not alone.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Palin bag is FINISHED (at last)

This project has been in the works for a long time. Tigerboy and I are complete doco nerds intellectually well rounded and he has a penchant for Michael Palin, Ray Meers and Jeremy Wade doco's in particular. At some point in time he will decide that he needs x (insert anything a person would be likely to use or wear), just like y (insert documentary star's name) has in the show. Late last year he decided that he needed a travel bag, just like Michael Palin. Just in case you aren't familiar with his travel bag (I've watched the doco's but I wasn't), here are some pics.

I did some research online, surprisingly there are quite a few people with the same feelings that tigerboy has about the bag, odd sycophants intellectually well rounded people. There are several ongoing discussions on which bag it actually is - everyone's an expert on this subject it seems (except me, obviously) - some of the (rather firm) suggestions didn't look anything like it. Here were the top contenders from those discussions:

Barbour Cotton Canvas Tarras Bag GBP 99.95
Hadley Large Khaki GBP 137.50
Billingham Classic GBP 466.77 -
Brady Bag - Large Ariel Trout with liner from Brady Gelderburn GBP 155.00
Whitehouse Cox - Gamekeepers Bag GBP 466.67

Most of those aren't what you'd call budget friendly - I could just see him continually fretting about his bag getting dirty, wet etc. Then he tells me that he wants it made out of denim jeans with all kinds of changes. I got him to do a sketch of what he wanted (he now considers himself a designer - move over Louis Vuitton) then I added some features for him and generally got it to make sense. I reiterated that this will not be a 'good' bag, for one, it's made out of denim, secondly, it will always look like a bag made from a pair of jeans!

 You might wonder where he got the idea - I made myself a big bag out of jeans years ago (over there on the left) and it gets a lot of use (roomy with lots of handy pockets) and quite a few comments, for some reason he's really proud of that bag (that I made and I use). (Subconciously, I think he wants something that generates comments - maybe he'd already delved into the online discussions on Michael Palin's bag and thought he could get a twofer? Who knows, there's a Y chromosome at work here.)

I finally realised that not only did he have a bag (that he uses everyday) that fit his criteria, he actually had two, ok, they weren't made from jeans but they had most of the other things that he had assured me were features severely lacking in bags that he'd looked at to buy.  According to him, one was too businessy, the other too casual (because denim jeans made into a bag just screams dressy?). I showed him some great messenger bags on Etsy, at really good prices I might add. No, no, no tigergirl, he wants it to be individual and made out of jeans, by you (there you go, now we've finally gotten to the crux of the matter). The final result?

I know what you're thinking - "Oh, look at that, it's an exact replica." You can see that it's a dead ringer for the one in the pic with Michael Palin can't you? Yes, so can I, if I squeeze my eyes shut and hold my breath until I pass out while watching a doco.

 On to the the features:

 Personally, I think the flap is a bit long but c'est la vie, tigerboy doesn't.

 Under the flap is a gusseted mobile phone carrier (closes with velcro, which unexpectedly didn't give me problems to sew on) , pen pocket and of course the straps that are extendable for when he wants to shove a jacket through there. I used jeans hems to keep the straps up - I detest hanging straps. The original jeans pockets and zipper still work, so basically that zipper is the entrance to the secret compartment between the lining and the outer shell (so very Get Smart). I took the black snap attachments off an old backpack of mine that had a disintegrating lining - my packrat tendencies actually paid off.

The back has of course the original pockets but it is also a full depth, full width pocket itself (apparently there is a need for a compartment that can hold A4 documents - when you're backpacking?). I added a gusseted zipper pocket to the strap for mp3 player, loose change etc. I also made the padded bit (no idea what it is called) from that same old back pack's straps. The strap is actually luggage webbing covered in denim and goes right down the sides between the lining and the outer, into the bottom of the bag where it is also secured - the rest of the bag will come apart before that strap gives way.

Snap securing the document pocket - he had a choice of fastenings, this was what he wanted. There's some dodgy stitching there, you would not believe the nightmare I had putting in the 'lid' of the bag. Initially the plan was to only have the lid attached to the lining but I was concerned that it wouldn't be strong enough. I'll have a rant later about some of the obstacles in the making of this bag. The back document pocket also has a zipper compartment in it. I'd never done this type of zipper before and used these instructions at ikat bag.

This is the shoulder strap padding from that same old back pack's straps - cut it to the right size and shape, sandwiched it between three pieces of denim (an extra piece so that it slides along the strap and is adjustable) and then bound the edges with more denim.

I added an extra bottom to the bag. The butt on these jeans had had some wear and it didn't seem like a good idea to start off with a worn out bottom. I left one side open to be closed with velcro and donated an old flexible chopping board to be the removable insert for the bottom (it was nearly 10 years old - time for the kitchen to get some new ones and retire the old ones anyway).

Inside the bag:
Since this picture was taken I have tacked down the lining in all of the seams, here it was still all loose which is why it's flopping all over the place. On the left edge of the pic you can just barely see a D-ring - it's attached to a tab sewn in to the top between the lining and the outer. I put in some elasticised water bottle carriers on the left of the pic too. More pockets! This is basically a big pocket that's nearly the height of the bag and is the full width, divided into two - the larger one is secured with a snap. On the outside of that is the pocket with the zipper, the other side has a pocket that contains yet another little pocket the D-ring on the tab from above sits in. Below are pics that might explain that mess better.

The only things I had to buy for this project were the lining fabric and the luggage strap - everything else was on hand. Tigerboy is nutty about birds, parrots in particular which is why I bought this fabric when I saw it (one of his main goals in Ecuador was to see macaws in the wild, thankfully, it happened). When I saw this parrot fabric I hadn't worked out how much lining I'd need, just that it was perfect for him. At $16.95 pm I didn't want to get more than I needed (I rarely pay that much for the outer fabric of something I'll wear, let alone a lining for a bag), so I just got 1/2 a metre - I ended up with a couple of slivers of fabric where I'd cut off the ripped edge to make it square and a 5cm x 3cm piece left, that was it. All of the other lining fabric for secret pockets and under the flap came from leftovers. There's some of the lining of my girlfriend's dress lining the lid, left overs from making a summer bathrobe for an ex-boyfriend line one of the secret zippered pockets and other random scraps used here and there. I used at least three pairs of jeans for this project, I'm pretty sure it was more but I'm not sure. With all of that denim, webbing and metal, this bag is heavy - I think it was nearly 1kg! And that's before anything is put in it. Another reason for doing away with any batting, aside from weight, is that this is for travelling, so it needs to be as 'compactable' as possible.

The problems:
  • Lots of layers of denim = thickness - nearly all of my pins are bent. Normally, I throw away bent pins, early on in the project I realised that I would end up in the poor house due to buying pins if I continued with that practice while making this bag - they just got reused. I ended up using bull dog clips and old fashioned nappy pins in some places.
  • Next time just go and get more of the lining fabric instead of spending so much time figuring how best to make use of not enough (eg. actually have some of the parrots show instead of random backs and tails) - the time saved will easily offset the cost you cheapskate!
  • Dealing with jeans in this instance is such a pain - nothing is square. When I made my bag it was easy because all I was doing was making a rough lining and a strap, I didn't have to deal with all of the other things like extra pockets and lids etc.
  • Well worn stretch denim will do what it wants, not what you want it to do. There will be some parts that have lost their stretch and others that haven't, it's potluck. Thank your lucky stars when things actually line up the way you intended.

Regardless of the fact that the only thing this bag and Michael Palin's bag have in common is that they're both bags with straps, this is tigerboy's "Palin bag" and he spent the rest of the afternoon and evening proudly wearing it around the house declaring that he now has a better bag than that Michael Palin, all the while planning on the trips that he and THE Palin bag will take together. (Since it's inception, whenever we went somewhere I'd have to hear "Next time we come here, I can bring my Palin bag." or "Normally I'll be able to use my Palin bag for this kind of thing.", until I countered with "There won't be one if I have to hear that one more time.")  Oh, just in case you're wondering, no tigerboy is not my child and he has lived for more than four decades, yes, four. Of course, being him, he couldn't help but comment on the lengthy wait - I told him that, if I were him, I would most definately take it up with the maker and punish them by never, ever allowing them to make me something again because they clearly don't deserve the honour. Unfortunately he thought that was going a bit far, probably due to the fact that he now has a pair of linen pants on order.

Now that that nightmare is over, I'll continue with the other ones in the line up.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Travel shorts & bla bla

I made these little black shorts years ago, specifically for travelling overseas (where no one I know will see me). I copied the pattern of some pyjama shorts, modified it heavily so that they weren't actually gathered at the waist and the inside legs were perpendicular to the ground (I've discovered that that curve on the inside leg generally doesn't work for me - it needs some serious readjustment). I even lengthened them but not really enough - there's no way I'd be wearing these anywhere except places where the odds of me running into someone I know are slim (Panama, Cuba, Ecuador etc.).

Tigerboy was suitably scandalised that I was going to wear something so revealing out in public (suck it up baby, my entire reason for living is to have you fear for what I'll wear next ~rolling my eyes~). The waist band is actually just a piece of the knit doubled over and serged to the body of the shorts - no elastic, no rope. I had my doubts that this waistband arrangement would stand the test of time but it's still fine. They're great for travel, comfy, crease proof and can scrumple up to fit in my two hands (bras take up a lot more room).

I don't have any good pics that feature them but you can actually see them in these pics (two of them, anyway).

Heron Island - ha, see the shorts? Oh, you can't even see me?

Ecuador - I would have to say that I am accomplished in the art of falconry (cough, cough, cough) - just ignore that concerned look on the assistant's face.

Hawaii - just look at that glowing skin lol

In other news:
  • The Palin bag is finally finished - that thing is like the cockroaches, it'll survive a nuclear disaster (it had better after all of the blood, sweat and tears)
  • Butterick 5672 - many people have made it and it looks awesome on them. I had a feeling that it wouldn't go so well for me, I could see those pleats drooping but really, how can so many people (all with different body shapes) get such great results and not me? Well, I've managed to sucessfully go against the crowd - droopy mess. I'm undecided as to whether I'll put MORE frustration into it or not.
  • Burda scoop neck dress - late last night I realised that I'd cut it out without the s.a.'s - what can I say? I have had some serious brain malfunctions lately, B5672 actually had me concerned for my sanity at one point.
  • The size 22 dress refashion is done, it's also been worn - I imagine that in a couple of months there will even be pics.
  • Of course there's also been the (seemingly) endless but incredibly exciting (no, not so much) mending and fixing jobs eg. 
"Hon, these pyjama pants keep coming undone and falling down."
"Tie the waist tighter." (Yes, I am very sympathetic to these situations.)
"I tried, they keep coming undone, is there anything you can do?"
"There's a lot of things I can do - water ski, shoot, cook - I don't think any of that will help though." (Ok, I didn't actually say that, I took the path of least resistance and offered the elastic solution - I'm a saint.)