Sunday, 21 June 2015

Sydney Jacket

The Sydney Jacket is the latest pattern release from Tessuti, a short sleeved, unlined, woolen jacket made from wool that won't fray allowing the seams to go unfinished.  I wasn't going to make this jacket at first (I'm holding out for a sleeveless woolen vest pattern or simple cape pattern to come my way) but when I started seeing versions popping up on Instagram I HAD to have a Sydney Jacket!

The fabric is from Spotlight, although I did go to both Tessuti and The Fabric Store looking for a grey boiled wool to no avail (my fabric hunt cost me over $20 in tolls, $15 in parking and 80kms in driving that day - that's dedication)! The label on the fabric says it's a "Wool Boucle" which cannot be right as isn't that the fabric Coco Chanel makes her trademark jackets from (ie the fabric that frays like crazy)? After some deliberation I decided to wash the fabric in cold water...Spotlight Castle Hill is like an old man's backyard shed and I just felt that this fabric NEEDED to be washed. It shrunk by 20cms which is OK as I actually bought 20cm too much.

I was a little nervous about sewing this pattern as it has a few new techniques for me. The seams are sewn by overlaping the right side onto the right side. In order to make sure I had my seam allowance right I marked every seam with tailors chalk before pinning. I wanted to be extra sure that I had enough fabric on the underside of the seam so that the jacket wouldn't fall apart on me.

I was also a bit nervous about the pockets. It took all my spatial abilities (of which I have few) to figure out which way was "up" for the pockets. Whilst the pattern instructions are good, I think one or two more pictures of how the pattern piece was meant to "fit" wouldn't have gone astray.  Close ups are fine for detail but I need to see the bigger picture also.  Cutting a hole into the fabric once the pocket was ready to become a pocket was a bit nerve-wracking - I was extra careful and went VERY slow to ensure that I didn't cut beyond where I was supposed to.

All in all I'm pretty pleased with my Sydney Jacket. I thought I'd have a million problems trying to sew this, but things went pretty much OK. My machine did have a few dramas - it couldn't seem to be get going and the needle would just go up and down on the same spot. Some percussive maintenance soon sorted that out. I also found out that I'm unable to raise my presser foot to help fit bulky fabric underneath it...I know some machines have this function, but mine annoyingly does not which is surprising as it's a quilting machine.

For this version of the jacket I've sewn an XL. After wearing it for a week I think it is too big and next time I'll try an L. Last night I washed my jacket in hot water and chucked it in the drier which was made it a tad smaller, but really only succeeded in making it shorter and making the short sleeves even shorter. Now that I've sewn the jacket once and know which pattern pieces belong to the sleeve (the pattern pieces are a bit mind-bending) I'm going to lengthen the sleeves to at least below elbow if my fabric allows. Whilst the jacket is "warm-ish" I want my sleeves longer...Sydney winter isn't freezing by any means but I do want longer sleeves.

Pattern: "Sydney Jacket" by Tessuti
Size: XL, sewn with 3/8" seam allowance.
Modifications: None.
Fabric: Mystery wool(ish) fabric from Spotlight
 Changes for next time: Sew an XL and make the sleeves longer!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Me-Made-Made...the finish line

By the end of May I was pretty over selfies, sewing and wearing me-made, but I well and truly smashed my challenge of one me-made garment per week. Lots of repeats in here, but I don't believe in having a huge wardrobe and owning lots of "stuff"...I am the Queen of the wardrobe clean out!

Week 3

"Our Fave Top" by Tessuti - worn for a day battling the local shopping centre, ARRRGH! Next time I make this I'll use a knit with 4-way stretch as the sleeves on this could be a bit more lose/comfy.
Linden sweatshirt in my beloved fabric from Kyoto - worn out to breakfast at our favourite local cafe. Very cozy, but a bit too warm for the hot Autumn day that we turned out having.
Monday = blergh! New Mabel Skirt made from a lovely ponti from Tessuti. Quite comfy, but I think all of these skirts will be nicer to wear sans stockings as it's just too much bulk for my liking.
Casual Lady Dress - worn to work. LOVE this dress and I've finally found some ponti that I like to whip up another one soon(ish). One of my colleagues asked me a few times to make her one as she liked it so much.  If only people new a) how hard it is to sew our own garments and to get them to fit our own body let alone to try and fit a body you don't know and b) how annoying it is to be asked that and c) you "could" make this you self, you just need to learn to sew like I had to - I didn't come out of the womb with the ability to make this, rather averagely sewn, dress. <end rant/>

Hump day = I'm tired, though I am still loving my very first Mabel Skirt. Always get a compliment or two when I wear this as the fabric is quite striking. This is actually the back of the skirt - I like the pattern placement better this way so I wear it back to front.
Mandy Boat Tee - worn to work for "casual Friday" though every day in my office is casual. Still wish this top was longer...I've another half made, but the sleeves have gone pear shaped so I'm stalling on finishing it as I don't love it and I'm sad about that as the fabric was $70 AND it was the last of the fabric that Tessuti had. It's all gone...vamoosh.
Newly finished ponti Gabby Dress - worn out to dinner at one of Sydney's poshest restaurants, darling! I got lazy on this one and paid to have a dressmaker finish the hem/sleeves for me on their coverstitch machine.
Sunday - slobbing around the house in my badly made, but lovely Mandy Boat Tee.

Week 4 (and the final few days of May)

Monday AGAIN (wtf) - loving this newly finished knit Gabby Dress. Definitely like wearing secret PJs to work AND I got a compliment from a colleague on my "pretty dress". BOOM
Coco Dress - worn to work with my favourite scarf from Paris. Love the pattern on this fabric, but not really a huge fan of the Coco Dress in hindsight. Very glad I'm making the Gabby Dress work for me in knits.
Leopard Print Mabel Skirt - worn to work where I got called "Miss Leopard" by one colleague and told by another I look like the old Lebanese ladies in his suburb who LOVE themselves a bit of animal print. Ah, OK? I made sure both of them knew I made this skirt myself...can the little old Lebanese ladies say the same?
and...repeat for the end of the week!
I confess I dug this top out of the wash to wear again on Saturday. I've NEVER done that before and when I did wash this I stupidly shoved it into the drier with some other stuff and shrunk it. WAH!
Last day of Me-Made-May - I MADE it to the end. Wearing my snuggly Linden sweatshirt
June 1st - not a me-made garment to be seen.
Thoughts: a lot of people are wrapping up their Me-Made-May posts with some thoughts on what they learned from the experience.

I'm not really sure what I learned from participating in Me-Made-May. I guess I've taken away that I can wear my handmade garments out into the real world and that they look OK and they won't fall apart as I'm bending down to restock the photocopier at work with paper.

I learned that, when I have items that I like, it's not hard to wear me-made more than once a week. If I sew things I like and I find comfortable adding me-made into my everyday wardrobe is easy.

I can also see how sewing my own clothes has had me branch out into different outfits than I was wearing a year or two ago. Before this winter all I wore to work in cooler weather was dresses with I've added in skirts and pants/tops, so that's been fun.

I don't think I'll ever have a 100% me-made wardrobe and I'm fine with that. I'm still not all that confident with my skills and I'd rather buy a bra or pair of jeans or coat and just sew up simple things that are easy to make and I find enjoyable to make.

Seems like I've learned quite a lot . Who knew?

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Wintertime knit Gabby dress

This fabric (from Girl Charlee) was originally bought for a Coco dress which I was all set to make...until I re-read my blog posts about my attempts at sewing Coco and some of the fitting issues I had along the way (not to mention many many neckband woes).  It just seemed easier to sew another knit Gaby Dress. So I did...

Because we're firmly in the grips of winter I made this Gaby with long sleeves...and finished it with a cuff, of course. To get the length right I copied the length from the Coco sleeve pattern piece.  I'm really happy with how the sleeves have turned out. Shoulder seams are finished with clear elastic.

This fabric is definitely not what we'd call Ponti in Australia. It's quite thin, and very drapey - perfect for this dress but I wouldn't want to be making a Mabel Skirt out of it as it's just too thin for that sort of thing. I have no idea what we would call this fabric's 45% Rayon/50% Polyester/5% Spandex (so I won't stand too close to any open fires).

I am also really chuffed with the way the neck turned out on this dress.  I attached the neckband "in the round" this time as I like the way it looks more than when I only sew up one shoulder seam, add the neckband and then sew up the second shoulder seam. It also tucks away the scratchy clear elastic on the shoulder seam.  I used the neck binding pattern piece from the Gabby Dress and make it shorter so it stretched enough to pull the neckline nice and tight. I always struggle with how long...or make the neckband. Neckband lottery.

I am also proud that I paid attention to pattern match the side seams.  The pattern matching may look a bit skew-if but I'm sure that's only because the dress is a-line and not straight.

As per my last Gabby I sewed the L with 1.5" seam allowance and then shaved off the overlocker seam (so maybe 1/2"); and same again from the bust down. I should probably just cut a smaller size, but I'd have to retrace the pattern as I don't have a soft copy of it and I'm too lazy (also, what size would I make...)?

Honestly EVERYTHING went right with this make (unlike my next make which went totally belly up). When I sew I've realized I'm holding my breath...just waiting for things to go wrong, so it was really nice to make something where everything went smoothly.

Pattern: "Gabby Dress" by Tessuti
Size: L, sewn with 1.5" seam allowance and then shaved off the overlocker seam (so maybe 1/2"); and same again from the bust down.
Modifications: Added a neckband.
Fabric: Ponti Girl Charlee (doesn't feel like Aussie Ponti though...more thin and slinky)
Changes for next time: none!