Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cardigan-fest! Swoon and Nina

I love my Swoon (free pattern) merino wool cardigan. It is big enough to go on over jumpers and small enough to go under a trench coat for extra warmth. Exactly what I'll be needing for London winters (or summers even)! I find this a really simple pattern to make. For some reason I didn't use the overlocker on the seams but doubt it will fray.

The only problem I find is the hem. I just rolled it over twice and sewed - but there must be ways of making those points a bit less bulky. I read about mitred corners and tried it - but the angles are not 90 degrees so were not quite as successful as my practice ones. Nevertheless I am pleased with my second swoon cardigan. My first was a trial one and was worn nearly every day in the winter. It is now worn out because the fabric is pilling and it really looks as though it's had its day!

Swoon cardigan in grey merino (from the Drapery) over Tessuti Eva in Liberty

 However, as much as I love the Swoon cardigan I wanted to try Style Arc Nina cardigan. It looked just a little bit more stylish.

I have some lovely merino from The Fabric Store in a powder blue and  black. However a type of soft viscose ponte (I do believe it is clay pot mix from Tessuti) was crying out to be a light summery/autumn kind of Nina. I didn't think I'd have a problem with the size. Style Arc tend to fit me around the shoulders at a 16 and sometimes I make hips wider in tops. I left this one alone as it is a waterfall style cardigan and I thought it would have lots of room.

I looked and looked at some blogs of Nina cardigans and not one person said it was complicated to sew. However I was looking at the pictures of the pattern and could make little sense of it. I followed each instruction in order - pinning first to check, then sewing (no overlocking in this one just in case I had it all horribly wrong). And surprise, surprise - it went together beautifully. Style Arc patterns are wonderfully drafted and so long as all the right notches match up you can't go wrong! Well, in this case anyway! Mind you I have only dabbled in the easier patterns - don't give me zips, linings or buttonholes yet or my sewing world will be turned upside down!

Nina cardi over Tessuti Pia in pink linen from a very unflattering angle!

Pattern: Style Arc Nina Cardi - PDF from Etsy shop (14, 16, 18 not nested). I used the 16.
Fabric: 2 metres of Tessuti Viscose jersey - Clay pot mix (still available at time of writing). A beautifully soft material - feels lovely to wear.

Best features of pattern: Easy to put together (don't be put off by the pictures - just follow the instructions)

What I didn't like: Wasn't quite sure how to go about hemming (not into rolled hems yet), so instead of leaving it completely raw-edged I zig-zagged around the outside edge. And I'm very happy with the way it turned out. It's not a fabric that will fray so it should be okay - must learn the rolled hem!

Photos: Forgive the angle - all my photos are taken with my phone - 10 sec delay propped up against various things - drinking glasses to name one of them. The angles are a bit weird but i hope the photos are enough to give the right idea.

I will definitely try one of these in my black merino - or even the powder blue. It's quite light and would be useful for most of the year - just not those summer months in Adelaide! And I'll probably be brave enough to overlock the next one!

I am working hard to replace all the cardigans I keep leaving behind in hire cars and on aeroplanes. I must be more careful on my next trips!

What is your favourite cardigan pattern? There are just too many to choose from!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Tessuti Pia and pink linen

Family catch-up for brunch.
Hmmm - a weird angle - but the photographer is my phone taped to something on the table.  

The Pia dress by Tessuti has been a favourite of mine for a long time. I have admired the dresses and the pattern from afar. How to do those pockets though? They looked a bit complicated so I left the pattern download in my usb drive and forgot about it. Then I looked at every blog about it that I could - wondering, wondering whether or not it would look okay on me. While still deciding I had the pattern printed out at Officeworks and kept it safe with all my other patterns.

One of my favourite pastimes is to imagine fabrics and patterns together and then to re-imagine other combinations:

Eva in linen?

Pia in linen or even Liberty?

Eva in Liberty?

Suzy pants in rayon?

Suzy pants in Liberty - black?

And so on. I spend much more time on this than actually sewing but at least I usually feel I have the pattern that fits the fabric (that is usually - not always)!

My decision was to cut the size 16 Pia adding a few centimetres to the length and about I cm to the width at the hips (which would give me an extra 4 cm width). I measured the pattern and myself several times and made up a quick toile in some horribly unwearable polyester. I then cut out my pink linen bought in Dalston, London

a couple of years ago. All I  know about it is I liked the colour and the gentleman serving me had to go up a ladder to pull out the rolls of linen.

This particular shop was stacked high with every fabric imaginable but I didn't feel comfortable asking anyone to climb up too many times. I have a fear of heights obviously not shared! I did also come away with a small piece (about 1.5 m) of lovely soft blue-flecked linen that I made up into a scout tee. This I have worn on numerous occasions. It is so pretty!

The pink was another story. I wasn't sure when I first got back to Adelaide just what I would use this 3+m piece for.  Of course, the Pia! It turned out well and I even got the pockets right. I have had compliments every time I've worn it. Winner!

I was wearing it while supermarket shopping and saw a woman with an identical dress in a lighter linen (thankfully not pink)! I wanted to say something to her because I very rarely get to speak to other sewists, but I don't like to intrude.

I had zero problems with the pockets. I followed the instructions from Tessuti, which are very clear, and they worked out as the illustration. Quite a surprise for me!

One thing that I had to fix was the hem length. The weight of the material and the way the pockets hang makes the front droop. It is not as noticeable in a lighter weight fabric. I cut quite a chunk of hem from the front to make it even. I had altered both the back and the front of the pattern for length before cutting out. This extra length and weight could have been the problem. It was all sorted and I'm not that fussy about hems - could be I want an asymmetrical hem! I don't have the luxury of someone measuring from the ground up and pinning my hem for me as I was taught to do a few years ago. This is just a complete time-waster for me.

 I love doing hems because I'm usually at the end of the project and can wear it. Pants are a different matter as I have one leg that appears to be considerably longer than the other. I'd never have known this if I'd never worn pants! I have to pin and fit several times to get them right. I think it's because one hip sticks out a bit more than the other and holds the pants up higher on one side (true)!

Back to my linen Pia - final words - I will make more!

What do you plan to sew more of?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Eva in linen - with a touch of Liberty

I bought some blue washed linen from The Drapery a few weeks ago - with the idea of making the Tessuti Eva dress. Just for a change I made up the fabric in the intended pattern.

I had the pattern printed out at Officeworks (much easier than taping the pages together) and cut out a 16. Most Tessuti patterns that I've tried (the stretch Anita pants and Gabby dress) seem to be quite roomy. This turned out to be the case - too roomy around the armholes in fact! I didn't do a muslin so had to put darts into the sleeve. I think next time (and there will be a next time) I'll cut out a size 14 graded to 16 top - and do it in a muslin first. I'm not wasting anymore good fabric! Not that this has been wasted - it's a very wearable dress and good for the hot weather we're having in Adelaide right now. I added a few (I think 8) centimetres to the length - I love longer dresses so long as the material is right for a longer length.

I used some scraps of Liberty fabric around the neck and arms and turned over a hem. I like to hand sew hems. It's a soothing way to finish off a project!

I have since made a Liberty version which I absolutely love wearing - it will be my go-to dress for this summer. I didn't put pockets in either dress but will probably put them in the next one (I can see at least two more - perhaps one with the Pia neckline). I must say that linens and Liberty are my favourite fabrics to sew with. I often buy Liberty from Shaukat in England - even with postage and our poor exchange rate it works out cheaper than anywhere else I can find!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Packing for a long trip and home at last

I've been away for awhile visiting family on the other side of the world. I want to keep up with my blog and not abandon it after a few posts as I've done with other blogs before!

Before I get back to sewing, I thought I'd put down some of my thoughts on what to pack! This I will review when I pack next time!

What to pack:
I took about ten times more than I needed! I found that some of my cotton woven tops could be hand-washed and dried really quickly. One of my scout tops I wore every day for about 10 days (washed every night of course)! This of course made me realise how little I really need to take on a trip - even if it is a long one.

I think I wanted to take everything that I'd made. I couldn't bear to leave my precious clothes
behind! What if I needed something I had left out of the suitcase???

Next time I'm going to take a small bag (carry-on size), and when it's full it will be closed. That's it. There will be no arguments (with myself) as to what to take.

Useful clothes:
I found that my slightly lengthened (in body and sleeves) Scout top and my Style Arc Fiona cardigan became the most important items in my wardrobe along with my Anita ponti pants in a lovely Tessuti material, my green Linden top for cooler weather and some oyster bengaline Style Arc (slightly widened and lengthened legs) Tori capri pants.  Oh and my Swoon cardigan that I almost didn't take with me because it was only the muslin (one that I'd come to wear a lot in the cold weather at home though). I wore my Plantain tee with the 3/4 length sleeves a few times too.

My own design simple A-line skirt and my tiny pocket tank cotton tops were great for the hot weather in Portugal. And did I need all those shoes??? Really - no!

I just need a bit of willpower and realise that I don't need to go on a sewing frenzy before I leave home - I honestly do have enough clothes for day to day wear. If I keep telling myself this it might just sink in!

How to start sewing again - I just don't know where to start! This always happens when I get back from a holiday. Any ideas???

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Up late with Grainline Linden

I had my Linden ready and waiting to be made up all day yesterday. So what did I do? Started sewing at 11 pm - what else?

It mostly seemed to go well (apart from the missing wristbands and associated pattern piece - had I even cut them out?) and by 2 am I was finished, cutting some more wristbands in the process. There was one little error. When I join the neckband on the flat, as I did here, well.... join shouldn't be at the front - agreed?

And it was. As much as I tried to convince myself in my dreams that there was a quick fix there wasn't. I just can't wear it that way - it bothers me too much. So I began taking the overlocked/serged neckband off in the afternoon.

 Starting the tedious process of 'unserging'!

A bit later - going a lot faster now I've got the hang of it! 

All done - now to cut out a slightly wider neckband. Luckily I have enough fabric for it! 
Ta da!! Finished - baggy neck and all. 

This is my second Linden (first seen by me on Jane at The Drapery). The neck is loose fitting on both mine, but I don't mind it that way. I have also lengthened the body by 6 cm - I'm 5' 8" and need the extra length in most things. The Linden sleeves, however, are quite long enough - even for me! But that's how I want them.

Have you ever made anything with just a little error that you couldn't live with? Did you fix it or leave it and wear it or just put it in the corner to attend to later???

Fabric: used nearly 2m of Knitwit Dunedin Rugby knit, cream

For my first Linden (not posted): beautifully soft Japanese French terry in 'Lagoon' - 2m approximately - can't remember exactly how much. The material is 170cm wide so probably less than 2m. Jane and Fiona at The Drapery always try to make sure I have enough, but not too much!

 What a day with my Linden - might have a cuppa now!

This blog post has been written whilst repairs to garment were in progress. That's hard work!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Fun with Fiona (Style Arc that is)!

I'm planning a trip away soon and it includes a cruise with two formal evening meals. I'm not really into the formal wear at all - I just love comfy no fuss clothes. With this in mind I put together everything I had that was suitable for cruise evenings and found that I had everything except a Style Arc Fiona cardigan. 'Shrug' had come to mind, so looking through the Style Arc website I found exactly what I needed. A little longer than a shrug but not a big heavy cardigan.

I had been saving some Affinity wool jersey from Knitwit for something special. I had two lots of 1.8m - black and blue. I thought the black would be ideal. I practised on some polycotton (I can't remember the name) from Knitwit and it all went together perfectly. Fitted so well that I'm keeping that one (a plus) - even though it has polyester in it!

Hanging up over one of a few tiny pocket tanks (without the pocket).

I photographed the cutting layout to help me - it's a little bit light here but it might just be possible to see! 

It was hard to get the layout all in one. You can get the idea that with the sleeves and body in one it takes a lot of planning! 

Now to the cutting out of my black Fiona. Well let's just say that it didn't go perfectly at all. The material was so soft and floaty that it was difficult to cut out or keep on my granite cutting table (otherwise known as the kitchen bench/depository of all things useful). As I had made sure that all the pieces fit (it can be quite hard but it is possible) I cut out a pair of the collar pieces. Then somehow or other I discovered that the stretch on this fabric did not go selvedge to selvedge and I hadn't checked first. Lesson learned here - always, always always check. This meant rearranging the material and the pattern pieces. Quel horreur! The pair I had already cut out with stretch going the wrong way were useless to me and I didn't have room for another pair on my wool jersey.

This is where I decided to use the blue for that piece. I had no choice if I wanted the stretch the right way. Thinking about it now I suppose I could have used the pieces with the stretch going the wrong way - it might not have made much difference! Oh well - I ended up with a pair of blue collar pieces and a pair of black. Everything would be fine.

All the band pieces (collar and back) have to be joined together in two almost circles. Now Style Arc patterns don't give many instructions but this top has great coloured pictures - it was easy to follow - the first one I made proved that. But I sewed some pieces together the wrong way round and had to unpick on this soft, delicate fabric. In the end I thought to myself that it was ruined so I might as well just go ahead and finish it anyway. What did I have to lose?

It turns out nothing, because I'm quite pleased with my two Style Arc Fiona cardigans now.

Excuse the selfies - no choice for now!

And I have enough blue fabric for a three-quarter sleeved Deer and Doe plantain top - already cut out and waiting to be sewn. What do you think of the blue collar? Mr SLTS (who isn't very patient when taking photos of my clothes but I'm working on it) thought that it looked pretty good (high praise indeed because he hardly ever says anything about my sewing)! Thank you Knitwit and Style Arc!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fabric choices and me

I have spent the last couple of weeks sewing with three massive fails - with expensive fabric

Have I learned anything from these?

 1. Measuring the paper pattern is not good enough - especially when it's pants and you forget that the waist has to fit over the hips. You can't put them on over your head like a skirt.

2. Some fabrics with wool content might be itchy to wear so it doesn't matter how good the fit, you can't wear it anyway.

3. Don't make an elastic gathered waist skirt with stiff material when you have a big waist - it really doesn't work. Wait until the right material comes along for the A-line skirt you were going to make.

4. Always do a toile/muslin with a zip - don't sew up the back thinking you can get away with no zip, causing you to think you need a much bigger top to the dress than you really do.

For me, all these disasters have been with woven materials - my good ones! I think I'm being given a sign that I should be sewing with knits - because I'm rubbish at fit.

I had a couple of successes too - they were in stretch ponte material with patterns I had already used and knew would fit. And ponte with a bit of stretch will probably fit anyway!

This is what my brain feels like - time to pack away my dining table sewing room and put everything back into the actual sewing room. I'm going to do it right now - just after I pin that Style Arc top together and ......... .