Friday, 25 April 2014

Yellow Stripy Mandy Boat Tee #2

My overlocker and I got together and whipped up this lovely, cozy Mandy Boat Tee using some fabric I picked up from The Fabric Cave last month.

The fabric was a little tricky to work with as it was quite stretched and the selvedges were nowhere near parallel. I spent about an hour crawling around on the floor trying to smooth out the fabric and line up the stripes...and I think I did a pretty good job *take that stripes* (just don't look too closely at the other side as things are a tad wonky over there).

With my first Mandy Boat Tee I lengthened it by 5"...probably a tad too long, so I just increased the hem on this by "two stripes worth", so about 3". Sadly, not quite long enough to cover my caboose in my favourite jeggings but if I can't see my butt jiggling about behind me sans long top then I can pretend it's not happening, right?

I'm also finding the neckline of my first Mandy Boat Tee a tad too high so I cut a small wedge out of the neckline this time around. Still a bit too high so I'll lower it more next time around (yes, there'll be a next time).

I made quite a wide hem (one stripes worth - loving the ease of measuring this "by the stripe") but stitched it down twice as I didn't want any bubbling.  I quite like the way this looks.

Things went a bit haywire with the sleeve hem as I was hurrying to finish the top so I could wear it out to coffee. I didn't stitch close enough to the edge to catch the sleeve hem down properly and the flappy edge was pretty annoying.

I already know that unpicking twin-needling is a bit of a pain (plus this fabric was prone to "fraying" and I didn't want to put a hole in it, so I just went around the hem a few times for some crazy "free style" stitching that I actually love.

I wore my new top out for coffee and I was loving myself sick the whole time! Despite being a tad too short in the butt region I felt really good in this's slouchy, big and comfy and looks good with slim pants.  I so happy to be finally sewing things that I want to wear!

Go team Mel!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Getting my "L plates" with the overlocker!

A few weeks I decided to drop off some unwanted fabric scraps to the Fabric Cave. I totally can't be held responsible for the fact that they were having a BIG FAT SALE at the same time. Coincidence? Totally!

I had every intention of dropping my stuff off and making a mad dash for the door before the fabric could lure me in. What can I say...I'm weak. I fondled a A LOT of fabric but in the end only came home with three meters of this knit jersey jumper type material. Guess how much? Go on....yes, $5! For THREE METERS of fabric. MINE!

I new exactly what I was going to make with this fabric - another Mandy Boat Tee.

I decided this was a low risk way to see if my new (30 year old) overlocker and I would get along! I was given this overlocker by my father-in-law a little while ago - it had belonged to his wife who was an avid quilter. Confession: I was terrified of it so it sat in a corner in our flat for...ages. I just felt a bit overwhelmed by something that had the potential to slice my finger off if I got too near the blade...or slice a hole in my garment...or that requires a PhD to thread...or is so old it looks like it should be hand-cranked to work.

I really had no confidence in ever being able to use an overlocker...until my Mandy Boat Tee class over at Tessuti! Neurosis aside I was still wary as they just look so dang complicated to thread. I mean LOOK at this thing. WHAT is going on in there?  I was told by one of the sewing teachers over at Sew Make Create that she NEVER re-threads her machine...she simple ties on the new thread to the old thread and feeds it through the loops/needles until the new colour is there. Apparently Singer agrees with this method as that's what their instruction book says too.

OK. No more excuses!

I'm pleased to say that everything went pretty well with me and the dramas to report. I'm not sure that the tension is quite right but the tee I made is still in one piece, so hooray. The tension dials are pretty tough to adjust - they're quite stiff and to dial the tension up (or down) a notch you need to turn the dial for a full 360o rotation. My thumb muscles are too weak for that nonsense!

Now that I've used the overlocker I really love it. Despite my initial gut feel about this "old thing" I actually really like the look and feel of it. I hope she's got a lot more life in her yet.

Oh...and watch this space for my new Mandy Boat Tee. Coming right up!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Mandy Boat Tee + a Tessuti Class

When I VERY first started sewing (which is exactly 46 weeks ago in case we're keeping tabs...which I am) I REALLY only wanted to sew clothes made from stretch fabrics. It's what I mostly wear so it's what I was hell bent on sewing. Why would I sew anything else?

During my first foray's in sewing I did a few "knit sewing" classes and whilst the sewing went OK in class the garments were too small for me. This coupled with the fact that I didn't have the equipment at home to be sewing knits properly really got me down. My machine doesn't like knits all that much and I didn't have an over-locker. I also had no idea that there are special needles for sewing knits - so it was fail fail fail.

Not one to give up, when Tessuti announced new sewing classes at their Chatswood store I enrolled in the "Mandy Boat Tee" class - a loose fitting knit t-shirt. There is also new Udon Noodle restaurant just up the road from their store that I was desperate to try so it was a two birds:one stone kinda situation.

The class was taught by Silva who drafts the patterns for Tessuti. She literally has decades of experience so I really felt in safe hands. Silva also brought along a few completed Mandy Boat Tees for us to try on. This was FANTASTIC as I could see before we even started that the "one size fits all" top was too small on my arms. Not to worry as Silva made a few quick adjustments to my pattern before we started.  I knew from the outset that my top was going to fit - what a great feeling. We also added 5" to the hem so I could wear the top with beloved jeggings and safely cover my caboose. It's a tad long so I'm going to chop it off by 1" (or so) and re-hem it.

Ta-da! I cannot tell you how chuffed I am with this top. We used the overlocker for most of the assembly and this really gave me the kick I needed to put the old Singer overlocker I inherited in for a service. The overlocker wasn't as scary as I thought it would be and I didn't chop a hole in my shirt as I went nice and slow.

I finished most of the top in class - I just had to take it home and do the hem using the twin needle on my Elna.

I may be smiling, but I was getting a bit stressed throughout the lesson as people were racing ahead of the teacher and others had come to class with their pattern all cut out and were eager to get a wriggle on with the sewing (we're all supposed to cut out together)! I'm VERY lucky that Silva was hanging around the store for an hour after the class so myself and another student got our tops to a stage that we could finish off at home. THANK YOU SILVA!

How GREAT is this fabric. It's a cotton knit from The Fabric Store which I think it may have some wool in it as it's quite warm to wear (so I won't be donning this until winter arrives). I have enough left over to make another tee from it - using this as the front panel and a contrasting fabric for the back/sleeves.

Back patting and gushing aside...have you noticed that the birds on my sleeve are upside down? I didn't even notice that I'd cut the sleeves out the wrong way until I got home and put the t-shirt on to show Dave. Whoopsie! Let's call it a "design feature" shall we?

I can HIGHLY recommend this class - especially if you're new to sewing knits and/or want to have a go sewing a garment on the overlocker. I'm already booked in for another class at Tessuti Chatswood (and another Udon lunch). Cannot wait!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Thank you for a frightening, confusing, strange and dangerous time. What more could a girl ask for?

This is my second dress for the #sewDollyClackett challenge. I've gone ahead and used my lovely palm tree fabric I bought in Tokyo as I figure an Irish lass like Miss Clackett, who's living in grey old England, must long for a bit of sunshine and palm trees every now and then.

You know what? I feel like I am making the same dress over and over and over again. A little tweaking on each version should, by all rights, be making it perfect. But instead it's making me totally CRAZY!

Yes folks this is my 823rd Party Peplum Dress by April Rhodes. And yes, like the last one...and the one before it...and the one before that, it still bunches up a bit on my butt. I'm finally going to bite the bullet and go full-on with my FBA (Full Butt Adjustment) and shorten the bodice to the smallest size available, XS. So in the space of 4 dresses I've gone from XXL to XS. Makes sense. Or not?

Whilst I'm not a small person I have a very bad habit of thinking that I am bigger than I actually am...bloggers in the rear-view mirror may appear larger than the actually are. I always end up buying clothes that are just too big and not all that well fitted (and I feel like a frump in them)...and now I'm making them too big as well. Le sigh. I think I'm afraid to make this dress in a size smaller than what I think I should case it doesn't fit and all that effort (and fabric) is for nothing.

Even after all this self-psychological analysis aside it's pretty obvious that this dress is WAY too big. Especially as I've lost 6kgs and 2" off my waist since I first started sewing last year. Clearly...I can downsize.

If you ever see me out and about in the dress do not flip up my hem for a look at the seams as I did some REALLY dodgy "taking in at the seams" after I'd fully completed the dress. The dress is smaller now, and fits better, but it's also a total dogs breakfast on the inside. Unlike people though, it's not really what's on the inside that counts with dresses (well, that's what I'm telling myself anyway). It looks "ok" from the outside, and still gives good twirl.

I think I'm going to make ONE more version of this dress, in the next size down and I'm feeling well and truly ready to move onto something else...perhaps something with a zipper. I have the Colette Truffle Dress pattern at home so I might have a go at that...not sure if my brain can work out the lining component of that or not, but we'll cross the bridge when we come to it.