Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Wearable Muslin

I wanted to make a pair of Thurlow pants but decided to try the pattern first on some left over fabric.  I chose some grey stretch suiting left over from this pair of Jalie Jeans. 
I drafted on pattern off to a size 6.  My measurements actually fell between a size 4 and 6 but I chose the size 6 to be on the safe side.
Because my chosen fabric is stretchy, I opted to use a woven cotton to line the waistband and pockets.  To give it a bit of colour I chose a lovely pink gingham.
The making of these shorts proved to be quite a time consuming exercise.  I think largely because the instructions are not very clear and parts of it I had to put two and two together.  For reasons beyond my control, my commercial overlocker was out of service which meant I had to drag out my domestic one which I do not have a very good relationship with.
I did make a couple of changes as I constructed these.  I found the adjustable back seam to be pulling the back of the shorts out of shape so I removed it.  I also ran the legs in quite a bit because I knew that the shorts, being synthetic would not hold a folded cuff hem.  I also had to run the back seam in a little to get them to fit  and even now, they are a little on the generous side....the sort of shorts you want to wear after a large barbeque lunch.
Next time I make this pattern, I will construct them slightly differently and not leave the back seam until last.  In fact, I will not add the back extension at all and fit them before adding the waistband.  The curved waistband is designed to have the seam at the back instead of at the sides, so I may need to change this as well.  I found it quite difficult to get the finish nice and flat with this method of finishing and in my opinion it does make fitting more difficult, although it is probably more of an issue of my inexperience with this form of construction.
As you can see, Courteney has claimed these shorts.  She had been looking for a comfortable pair of synthetic shorts to wear for tramping and these fit the bill perfectly.  In reality if I was making this pattern for her I would actually need to make a size 2.  She has already chosen two pieces of fabric for said pairs of shorts so I best get busy....
It was a stroke of luck that Courteney is wearing this particular top today, as it was one of my makes this time last year.  She had a rtw top in the same style that she asked me to replicate.  She chose her fabric, and fortunately it cost a fraction of the rtw version.  It is a very simple top with a racer back and bound armholes and neck opening with a decorative front placket.  Although the placket is decorative it is fully functioning if required (although I can't imagine why you would need to use it with a neck opening that large).  This top hasn't had much use which is why I haven't blogged about it before, but as luck would have it she now owns a pair of jeans in the perfect shade of green and the shorts look pretty good with it as well.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Megan Neilsen Kelly Skirt....Take Two

After mixed results with my previous version, I could have thrown my hands up in disgust but, oh no, I wasn't going to let this pattern beat me so I thought I would give it another go.  This time I chose my intended fabric, a beautiful piece of stretch cotton sateen with a lovely spring like tulip print.  Making up this skirt in fabric I adore was a risk, I know but I backed myself that I would actually beat this pattern.  This time, as with the last, I added about 3cm to the length and slimmed down the waistband.  I then made the back pleats a little smaller and the front a little wider in an attempt to pull the side seam around to my actual side.  I actually believe I achieved it (patting myself on the back).  Because the fabric is stretch, the fabric did throw another problem at me, in the way of an unsightly horizontal pleat just under the waistband at the back.  I put this down to both the stretchiness of the fabric and my sway back, that is what I am assuming anyway.
I have developed quite a close relationship with my seam ripper this week and this skirt wasn't immune.  I had to unpick the finished waistband between the back pleats and push some of the excess fabric into the waistband in a somewhat banana shape before top stitching it closed.  This seemed to help but I still need to wear the skirt quite high on my waist to avoid all traces of the dreaded pleat. 
I put my issues with this skirt down to the difference in measurement between my waist and my hips.  I could be wrong, but given that this pattern is really only a series of rectangles and near impossible to get wrong, I am picking that this pattern is actually best suited to a less curvy shape. 

I actually really like my new skirt.  I love the fabric, I love the buttons and I love how easy this skirt is to wear.  I also love how easily my new sewing machine whipped through the six buttonholes on this skirt without missing a beat. What I don't love is the slight pleat at my waist (which for the record I couldn't photograph clearly or I would have posted it).  It is a good thing that the pleat is at the back so I don't have to look at it. 

They say you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince and while this pattern isn't quite a frog, I think it will be relegated to the place where all of my less princely patterns go and that is Trademe.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Megan Nielsen Kelly Skirt

I have admired this skirt for a while, and this skirt by sewbusylizzy was what sold it for me.  Now with my shape, i.e. hips, full skirts can be a little hit and miss, so it was with some trepidation that I actually made this.  I chose a piece of the softest baby cord in navy blue that had been languishing in my stash since my teenage son was a preschooler.  It has been sitting there unloved for so long that it is amazing it is still intact, let alone as deliciously soft as it is.

I drafted off my pattern and chose a small based on my measurements and added a couple of centimetres to the length so as to have some choice over the finished length.  The waistband I cut without measuring, just trusting that it would actually fit, but this is where I came unstuck.  I think the waistband on this pattern isn't overly generous with the amount of ease it allows for wear, so unless I was fond of not breathing while wearing the skirt, it would prove to be unworkable.   It was as I was unpicking my now finished waistband complete with buttonholes, that I realised that I didn't actually like the width of the waistband either.  As a vertically challenged person, I felt that the wide waistband just wasn't me, so I cut this down as well. 

I am quite pleased with the final skirt but if I was being picky, which we dressmakers (sewists whatever you call us)  tend to be, I wouldn't be 100% happy with the side seam.  It doesn't line up exactly down my side, the back is a little skimpy and the front a little big comparatively.  Now don't get me wrong, this skirt is perfectly wearable and I do like it, but I am pleased that I chose to make this out of some fabric that I didn't have an attachment to, first.  Because this is such a simple and easy skirt, I wasn't going to, but sometimes it just pays to trust your instincts.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Reproducing An Old Favourite

Original tee shirt

Master 8's favourite tee shirt was too small and has been passed on to a smaller person to cherish.  Before it left, however, I decided to replicate it using the second of these tee shirts.  At the time it didn't actually occur to me to unpick the decal off the front of my sons old tee shirt and just stitch it onto the new one...oh no, I decided to take the difficult road and reproduce it.

I started with the new men's shirt and laid one that fitted my son on top and re cut a new shirt.  I reused the neck and sleeve hems so this was actually quite a simple process.

It then used Meg's tutorial to stencil the wording on a left over piece of fabric.  I carefully cut out my desired wording using a craft knife and cover seal and then smoothed the sticky side down on the piece of fabric.  Make sure  you cut the wording around the right do not want a mirror image of your words!  I purchased some fabric medium at Spotlight for $2 and added this in equal quantities to regular artists acrylic paint which fortunately I had on hand.  I then dabbed the paint and medium mixture onto my fabric and then placed it in the sun to dry.  Once touch dry, I carefully peeled the sticky clear seal from my fabric, taking care not to peel any paint off.  Once it was completely dry, I ironed the print using a piece of baking paper to protect my iron.

The final step with my print was to iron a small piece of interfacing to the back for stability and then decorative stitched around the lettering.

I then peeled the interfacing off the back and stitched the fabric containing the lettering to the shirt.  After washing this will "curl" nicely.

The final touch was to stitch on the monogram that I had rescued off the neck of the original shirt and decorate it in the manner of the original.

Hey presto, finished tee shirt just in time for a spot of baseball after school.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


The youngest member of the household required a pair of shorts.  Not any shorts, mind you, they had to be the right shorts.  After an exhaustive trip around all the children's wear stores we came home empty handed.  It's not that we couldn't find shorts, but these had to be the 'right' shorts.  You see, master 8 is rather fussy and prides himself on being somewhat stylish...think Justin Bieber meets One Direction, kind of stylish!  He had a pair of shorts from last summer that we bought from Just Jeans, that both he and I agree, fit the bill but you see, one pair of shorts is never enough for the average active 8 year old boy.  This is where my master plan came in....

I took last years favourite shorts and dug through the cupboard to reveal my collection of Top Kids magazines that actually predate said 8 year old boy and gave him the entire collection to peruse.  In issue 57, we came across a pair of golf shorts in the correct size with a flat front.  I agree, they weren't the most stylish pair of shorts in their 1990's golf tartan but the cut was right and the size was right...we were on to something!

Because master 8 is slender, I wanted to avoid the whole waistband thing.  He grows like a weed and I wanted to avoid replacing these until he wore them out and not when he grew out of them.  Elastic was then, essential.  He doesn't like the button up elastic on rtw shorts because he finds the buttons dig into his hips and fitted rtw shorts simply don't stay up.  The best option then was a fly and half elastic.

I found a piece of suiting in olive with a faint check pattern in it, that I had picked up on the sale table at Fabric Vision for the princely sum of $4.40 and was originally intended for shorts for myself, but I think you would agree, that this is a much better use of this fabric.   The zip came from my recycled zip collection and the button was a spare that came with another item of rtw clothing.
To ensure a professional look, I added slant pockets at the front and welt pockets at the back.  Although time consuming the welt pockets do make the shorts look well finished.  I then added a facing at the waist and elastic three quarters of the way around the waist before stitching on some belt loops. For the finishing touch I added a mock turn up on the hem by stitching a false hem on the bottom and turning and top stitching it to the outside.   We left off the cargo pockets, because he felt these weren't essential and who was I to complain because that meant less work!
Master 8 is rather pleased with his new shorts, so much so that I may have to rustle up some more fabric and make another pair. 


This is how I start my day....

It is a different world out here.  Just me, my sneakers, my Ipod and my thoughts!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Colour 'Blocking'

This dress takes colour blocking to a whole new level.  It was made using some block printed stretch poplin from this op shop fabric haul.  I have this thing for shirt dresses.  I am not quite sure why but I really like these dresses by Kayce Hughes.  I know, they are nothing like my own but did inspire this dress in their own way. 
I used Vogue 1220 as the pattern.  It is part of the Donna Karan Collection.  I originally had different fabric intended for this dress but at the last minute realised that it needed to be stretch.  I still can't work out why so this dress may indeed end up made in a non stretch fabric at some point.
My change of fabric did throw up a problem though and this came in the form of a lack of fabric.  I didn't have enough for the belt, which really isn't a big problem but it also meant I had to cut the sleeves around the wrong way and add a seam into the fly which also didn't present a big problem.  I was going to leave out the pockets but because of the placement at the front, I really wanted to include them.  I found a piece of black drill in the scraps box and this ended up being the pockets. 
I cut the dress to a size 10 because although my measurements indicate otherwise, I find this to be the most accurate size on me.  Usually I would grade to a size 12 in the skirt but because the seams are actually at the front, this was not possible so I just cut the 10 and hoped that all of the running I have been doing meant the skirt would actually fit and thankfully  it does!
I rescued the buttons off an old work shirt of my husbands so this dress ended up costing me not much more than the cost of the pattern....score!
After giving the dress it's inaugural wearing this afternoon, I have decided it needs a hook and eye at chest level for modesty reasons.  It is fine when I am standing up but when I sit down, it is a little risky so this will be on my to do list before I wear it again.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Retail Therapy

Yesterday was my birthday, so Courteney who was on study leave this week, took me out for morning tea.  I had already been for a run earlier in the morning so didn't take much convincing to indulge in a mochacino and a nice big piece of cheese cake....yum!
Afterwards we indulged in one of my other favourite pass times and that is op shopping for fabric.  I came away with some huge pieces that were still on the roll.  They included the largest roll of nylon elastin in a lovely blue stripe, hot pink unbrushed cotton sweatshirting, white cotton interlock,  red wool suiting, aqua ribbing (to go with the cotton sweatshirting already in my stash), emerald green unbrushed cotton sweatshirting and beige cotton rugby knit.  There really is way too much fabric here for any project that I may want to make but I am sure Courteney will also use this fabric for her own projects.

We arrived home to find this little lot in the letter box.  Happy Birthday to me!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ahhhh That's Better!

Life has been a little manic around here of late, leaving little time for sewing.  My daughter returned from her sports tournament on Friday just in time to wave off her father and brother on a similar trip leaving me, once again holding the fort.  Unfortunately my son picked up some sort of virus on his travels which means that I am now playing nurse and you guessed it, no time for sewing today either.  So for today, I am writing the "one I prepared earlier" post.

I was given these two men's tee shirts, both unworn but not suitable for anyone around here.  They did however contain a good amount of fabric for re purposing.  Because the fabric is a rugby knit type fabric, they were unsuitable for cutting of bands, so I managed to re purpose yet another shirt for the bands and make this.....

Yup, you guessed it...I made another Renfrew.  It isn't very exciting, I know but a white tee shirt is a staple in any ones wardrobe.  So this is version number seven of this most versatile of patterns.  It will not be my last.  I know this for a fact as I have since completed one more!

Like the last versions, I have added bands and top stitched.  The one thing I have found however with this pattern is the need to remove around 5cm from the neckband to get it to sit nice and flat.  I don't know if this is a design fault or perhaps just because of the fabric I am using. 

I also had problems with the original tee and the fact it wasn't cut on the grain.  Why do manufacturers do this? It is really sloppy and results with wonky seams and hems.  It is most frustrating.  If it wasn't for this, I would have reused both the hem on the bottom of the shirt and the sleeve.

Not surprisingly, this shirt has already had it's first outing and I am sure there will be many more.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Breath Of Fresh Air

Okay, so this probably wasn't the best choice of dress to wear on a blustery day, but it is nice to have a warm day to try out some lighter layers.  I have admired this dress since I saw it on Leith of Sew Brunswick.  I have had it in my collection for quite a while and had in mind a completely different piece of fabric for it.  One day while shopping my own fabric, I stumbled across this lovely piece of green tee shirting knit from this op shop fabric haul and although not a lycra as suggested on the pattern, I had to give it a go.

I cut the pattern, Vogue 1027 to a size 10 as this seems to work best on me even though the measurements on the pattern say otherwise.  The only change I made was to cut 10cm off the length.  This dress is quite long and I prefer a shorter dress for summer.

I am really pleased I took the risk with this fabric because this style works in tee shirting knit and I like the results so much I may even make it up again in my original choice of fabric.  The wrap front has plenty of coverage and the mock tie belt just adds something to an otherwise simple dress.  I can see this dress getting plenty of wear although probably on a less windy day.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


After two days of over twenty degrees celcius and no rain in the last two plus weeks apart from a brief thunderstorm and downpour the other night, I am scratching my head as to what I actually wear at this time of the year.  I find myself trawling through my Me Made May photographs for inspiration.  But that was Autumn and although the weather is similar, I feel the dark colours look a little odd in spring.  I really need to participate in a Self Stitched September to inspire myself.  For a little inspiration, I visited the Op Shop.  It didn't turn out quite as I hoped, with only winter fabric available.  I did however end up with some lovely wool fabrics, and some nice cotton rib knit that may well come in useful for spring.  The wool on the top of the pile I have earmarked for a Sewaholic Minoru next winter, with the printed synthetic fabric below as the lining.  The striped fabric was actually a scarf that had the most divine beaded tassels that I have removed for use with a bag using the red lizard print vinyl in the bottom picture.  The royal blue is a wool suiting that I am sure I will find a use for and the bottom is a wool ponti type fabric which is always useful for any number of projects.

The bottom picture is my non Op Shopped fabric and includes said lizard vinyl, some gorgeous cotton sateen which is ear marked for a Megan Nielsen Kelly skirt, the pattern of which is winging it's way to me as we speak, and the most gorgeous vibrant knit which  reminds me of the lovely stripes I have seen in Country Road recently.  The jury is out as to whether this becomes a tee or a maxi dress....hmmm, decisions, decisions!

Since the sun is supposed to be out, I do have something to reveal tomorrow.  The problem is I don't currently have suitable shoes to wear with it.  I have a pair on order, but really can't wait until they arrive to reveal.  I shall just have to improvise!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Baby Steps

Two years ago today, I sat outside in the freezing cold, sipping coffee made on the barbeque while the world shook around me.  My up ended daffodils were discarded to the green waste never to return.  Last year my daffodils were admired from afar.  I could look but not touch.  The coffee however was made indoors and the shaking had reduced.  This year the daffodils have returned to their rightful place on the table and I am reasonably confident they will stay there.  I would however think twice before leaving anything valuable within spill distance though!

There have been 99 earthquakes in the last 30 days.  None of which I have felt.  We have endured in excess of 10,000 earthquakes in 2 years.  The earthquakes have been the largest insured disaster in the world.  These things take a long time to fix.  My house is still broken.

So how am I going to mark such an anniversary?  To start with I am going to drink that coffee and eat the banana cake.  I am then going to go for a walk and help my youngest do his sisters paper round.  It sounds boring doesn't it, but I prefer it that way, thank you very much!


Monday, September 3, 2012

End Of August Wrap Up

I would have had this posted on Friday or even Saturday but life around here has been hectic.  My daughter went to the coast caving for the weekend so Friday was spent getting her ready and out the door for her trip.  Also on Friday, my Father in law had his birthday party which involved me providing a bacon and egg pie plus the prerequisite birthday cake.  Although the cake was made and partly iced by my oldest son and I just cleaned up after him.  Mr Epiphany took both boys to the rugby on Saturday giving me a bit of breathing space and then of course Sunday was Fathers Day and also my sons end of season rugby break up....Phew!  It has been busy!  This morning Mr Epiphany has taken my daughter to Timaru, some 2 hours drive away, for a school sports tournament.  He should be back about lunch time hopefully!  As for me, I plan to go for a run before it starts to rain.

This months collection has been a mixed bag seasonally wise, a bit like the weather, but hey that is spring for you!
Green Blazer
Pattern $10.95
Fabric $4.00
Lining $12.00
Button $0.90
Interfacing $8.00
Thread $5.00
Total $39.85
Black Wool Hoodie
Pattern Reused $0.00
Zip Rescued $0.00
Fabric $7.00
Total $7.00
Tardis Cardigan
Fabric Remnants $0.00
Pattern Reused $0.00
Snaps Nappy Stash $0.85
Total $0.85
Blue Dress
Pattern $21.50
Fabric $8.00
Invisible Zip $3.99
Lining Gifted $0.00
Total $33.49
Grey/Black Striped Dress
Pattern $10.95
Fabric $16.00
Total $26.95
Green Jeans
Pattern Used Before $0.00
Fabric $16.00
Thread $2.79
Button Kit $4.99
Zip $2.49
Total $26.27
Bikini Bottoms
Pattern $5.00
Fabric Remnant $0.00
Elastic Left Over $0.00
Total $5.00
Blue Short Sleeve Renfrew
Fabric Remnant $0.00
Pattern Used Before $0.00
Total $0.00
Swim Shorts
Pattern Self Drafted $0.00
Fabric Left Over $0.00
Elastic Gifted $0.00
Total $0.00
August Total $139.41