A year has passed …….

Time flies when you are having fun.

And I’ve had fun!

I ran and finished the Perth Marathon in June 2013 – granted, I didn’t finish in a very good time – but even so, I was the second woman in my age group 60-65. I’ve got to be happy with that. This was my first ever marathon.

No, I’m not doing another! All those months of training? No, definitely NO!

This was just something I’ve had on my Bucket List for many years. Tick!

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I am not an artist, far from it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t play around with a pencil and paper, pretending….. I have taken a couple of workshops/classes in portraiture and even ventured out joining a life drawing group for a couple of months.

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I won’t be specific. Just know that I did a lot of travelling this last year, both within Australia and overseas.

Have you ever wished you could play the piano?

Me too, so I have been talking lessons and …. I don’t practice enough …. but it is fun trying. I have never played a musical instrument before and therefore can’t read music ……. so there is a lot to learn! I can’t tick this one off the list just yet, if ever!

I did, however, managed to tick off another item on my Bucket List. I walked the Camino de Santiago in May and June this year. I wrote a blog along the way, and if you are interested go and look here.

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I also did a little sewing as an invitation to a wedding came in and of course, I had nothing to wear.

This is from the latest Marfy catalog, pattern number 0303.

I had never heard of Marfy till I read some blogs and I became interested. I like a lot of their designs. The postage from Italy to Australia for a heavy catalog is steep and although I initially wanted catalogs from the last three or four years, I soon changed my mind. The catalogs are also available in the US, but they don’t ship to other continents.

As usual I had a lot of trouble with fitting and ended up doing three muslins before I had an acceptable pattern to work with. I used a Thai silk, which I underlined with silk organza and basically followed the couture method as demonstrated by Susan Khalje in her Craftsy course The Couture Dress.

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I am reasonably happy with the end result although there is definitely room for improvement.

I still haven’t conqured the perfect fit.

BUT, I’m back working on it!

Chasing the perfect fit #1

I have been trying to achieve a fit that I can be proud of for many years. The difficulty I have is the reason that I have had many on and off again love affairs with my sewing machine. I am now retired and have more time. Therefore this is the time for me to overcome my fitting problems.

I expect it could be quite a journey, so I have labelled this post #1. Lets see if I can achieve, if not a perfect fit at least one that is acceptable – but of course I would love perfection – wouldn’t you?

I have been following many blogs over the last year and I have learnt so much from other people. Thank you everyone. I think I would have given up were it not for your amazing creativity and inspiration. Many of you have difficult fitting issues too, but you overcame those hurdles – congratulations! I want to get there too.

I saw Bunny of La Sewista! giving pants fitting a go using the Sure-fit Design system. I deeply admire Bunny’s creations, so when I saw she wanted to improve her pants fitting using SFD, I was sold. I ordered the three kit package – pants, dress and shirt.

I have now had a couple of days to work on my first muslins and I will post the pictures although such photos never look good, hopefully something can be learnt.

First the pants. I have achieved acceptable fit for jeans and stretchy pull on pants, but I want to make more dressy pants too.

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I emailed these exact photos to Glenda of SFD last night, and this morning I had the following answer (I also emailed other photos dealing with the bodice and skirt, and I will cover that in a separate post). I must say I am very impressed with her speedy reply and attention to my specific issues – thank you Glenda:

“I’ll address the pants first. Initially, you are off to a good start.  If these are supposed to be ‘regular’ pants vs. jeans fit – they are too tight.  Even though you are pretty straight from your waist down, you are getting drag lines toward your high hip and at the bottom of the back dart.  Go to the next size high hip dot, and you can test this by simply letting out the seam a little from the high to the low hip.  They are a little tight there too.

 

The back crotch needs to be scooped out and re-shaped.  If you have the new Jeans DVD this scooping is covered in the fitting section of the DVD.  If you don’t have that, watch this video – P.6.6 How To Refine the Back Crotch Fit for a Dropped Buttocks – Droopy Butt

 

Also, if that doesn’t eliminate all the folds under your butt, then you may want to consider doing this Fish Eye Dart for a Flat butt – P.6.5 Drawing a Fish-Eye Dart in Pants Back for a Flat Backside

 

Another reason why they are looking so bunchy in the leg is that the fabric looks to be a little stiff and you don’t have your hem in or the creases in place.  This all makes a difference to how that leg will look.  If you have the Pants Fitting Course on DVD, please watch that.”

I will now work on Glenda’s suggestions and follow-up with more photos when that is done.

Lene

Easy pants and tops

I am working on different styles of pants in the hope that I will eventually have a set of block patterns for any type of pants I want to make.

This time I tried the Style Arc Linda pants.

This is the second time I am trying Style Arc and the first time did not go well. I attempted to make the Robin design, a simple top for summer, but the pattern didn’t fit me and there were too many changes needed to keep me going. It ended up in the scrap heap.

This time I had a lot more success I think.

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The Linda pants are simple pull on pants made from stretch fabric. I had some lovely firm dark blue fabric in my stash – and there was just enough.

Instead of making a muslin – how do you make a muslin for stretch fabric when you only have woven fabric that you are prepared to sacrifice? – I cut wide seam allowances. My pattern was in a size 12, but apart from the waist, the pattern fitted quite well and the waist was easy to fix with the wider seam allowance.

The pattern suggests that you insert a wide elastic in the waistband, but that is optional. I didn’t have any suitable elastic on hand so opted to go without. I am now sorry I didn’t hold out. After wearing the pants a few times, the waistband has stretched a little and they don’t feel as secure. I think I will fix that.

I am also wearing a new top. This is Vogue 8323, which I have had hidden in a shoebox for a long time. It was time to get it out. I have a broad back and wide forward sloping shoulders which gives me a lot of grief when making any top or dress in woven fabric. Knits are so much easier to fit. I fit the shoulders first, allow a very generous side seam allowance and then pin it in little by little till I get a good fit. This pattern was easier than usual, as the princess seams gives room for an easy FBA. I am very happy with the result, although I think the waist still needs taking in.

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Finally, I dug out a top that I cut out about a year ago and never finished. It was hidden away in a box with other questionable projects. I sewed it up and decided to add a collar to bring the neckline in a bit and to make it a little more cosy. The fabric is a sweater knit that looks very matted close up (which I no longer like), and the collar is from a remnant of cotton knit. I used Vogue 8771 which is a large loose design, so no fitting issues here. I added the bow to make it a little more interesting.

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As I said – I don’t love it but it is nice and warm, so it will probably get some wear.

I used a total of 4.90 m from my stash.

PS: I ran my first ever marathon last Sunday week and although I didn’t finish in any fantastic time, I still managed to come second of women in my age group :)

PPS: How do you like my new hair style? It is meant to be straight, but all the blow drying and ironing only lasts a few hours before the natural curls kick in. At least it is soft against my face.

Jeans – or not?

I have never attempted jeans before, but looking at my stash – there is a lot of denim as well as other lengths suitable for jeans. As you have all seen on my Jacket post - my current jeans are in a sore need of replacement.

So I grabbed my stash of Burda magazines and found a pattern that looks a lot like jeans – although they were not named as such. It was issue April 2010 – 120.

Pants never fit me straight out – I expect many other people have the same problem – so I made muslins. This is my first one:

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I won’t bore you with all my adjustments. Instead here is my first pair of jeans style pants. They are by no means perfect, but I feel they are good enough to wear. I think I need a little more fabric across the front, and I also feel I need to lower the waistband a little more in the front. I would really value your comments regarding fit, as that is always my problem.

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I am happy with the top stitching – the design on the pocket is VW – a nickname my husband gave me meaning Viking Woman – not the car!!!!!!

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I forgot to give the centre back seam the jeans treatment – oh well, next time :)

I have a new Jacket

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I made this jacket as a test of the Butterick pattern 4610.

This pattern was included in the Craftsy class The Fashionably Quilted Jacket, which I enrolled in a couple of months ago. Now – I am not into quilting. In fact I have never quilted anything in my life, so why would I enrol in a lesson involving quilting?

I was really impressed with the jacket made by Mary Ray, which was featured in Threads September 2012 issue. The jacket was made from a mesh knit fabric, which I have in my stash.

So when I discovered that Mary Ray was actually running a class on making such a jacket, my interest was caught.

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I have sloping and forwarded rotated shoulders so I made adjustments to accommodate those issues. My right shoulder is also lower than the left – another adjustment, and finally my right shoulder blade is flatter and further forward than my left, so I had to take in the back princess seams by different amounts at each side. These alterations around the armscye meant that corresponding adjustments had to be made to the sleeve. It took me some time to figure out, but I am quite pleased with the end result.

I made a bound buttonhole, handstitched the patchpockets to the jacket from the back and fully lined the jacket with a navy bemsilk.

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I still think I have some a fitting issues on the back – see the folds below the arms? Even though I lowered the armscye on the back bodice after lowering the shoulders, I don’t think I took enough out. I inserted shoulder pads to even out my shoulders somewhat, but I think I could improve here. What do you think? I also now note a fold across the top of the sleeve when viewed from the back. How would I fix that?

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Sigh! I really would love to make myself some jackets, but I just can’t seem to achieve a good fit.

This fabric is from my stash, and although I started making the jacket before I joined the Style the Stash Sew Along, I will count it in. Two metres of wool/synthetic stash was used up for this make.

My total stash beginning of June 2013 was 167.7metres.
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My jeans have seen better days – I think it is time I attempt making a pair of new jeans. That will be a new sewing experience for me.

Happy sewing!

Finally …. a view of Lene’s stash

It took me a while …. but finally I got my stash into the kind of order I am happy for other people to see.

Before I do that, however, I want to thank Sarah Liz for dreaming up the forum of ‘2013 Style The Stash Sew Along’ for all of us to contribute to, but also for actually putting her idea into being. This idea of ‘Styling our stash’ is so inspirational. Rather than simply using up our stashes, the focus is now more on creating something really special. Well, that is how I see it anyway.

Because of this shift of focus, in my mind, I decided to really go through my stash. I mean really go through it, and I am amazed at what I found that I had forgotten about. I also looked at my fabrics with new eyes and started dreaming of what they could become – given time :)

I thought I had a lot of fabrics, but after seeing what everyone else has posted, I no longer feel quite so bad.

above is the top of my cupboard, with some of my sewing books and here is the bottom of the cupboard with a couple of shoe boxes full of patterns.

In addition I have four and a half years worth of Burda Style Magazines. I find that I can usually find a pattern in one of those mags that are similar to patterns from the big 4 or independent pattern makers.

I have sorted and folded my fabrics and placed into piles that make sense to me. I also measured each piece and used old business cards (being retired, I no longer need them) to record the width and measurement as well as composition, if known. In addition I attached a little cutting of each fabric to the card. I have yet to add up how many metres of fabric I have, but I think there is a lot.

Finally I must confess that I have quite a few garments in my cupboard that are never worn due to bad fit, style or colour. I plan to modify or recreate something with those garments as well.

Must get on with my sewing, I have a lot to do :)

Birthday dress – or vintage overkill?

My birthday was nearly a month ago, and the dress was ready in time for a great night out, but I have been very slow in taking photos.

My birthday dress

I was the lucky winner of a giveaway by Winnie at Scruffy Badger Time. The prize was New Look 6000 …… but that happened in February! It has taken me a few months to actually make a dress from that pattern.

Actually, I started making a dress from a lovely cotton to wear in summer, but then the autumn and winter came and it was put aside as a UO. It is nearly there though, and soon :-) I will be able to post about that dress too.

Back to what is finished. The birthday dress. I made it from a stable knit and I decided to line the dress. It is not something I normally do with knit fabrics, but I have noticed that expensive designer knit garments are lined.

I decided to omit the pleats as the fabric was too thick to get a nice outcome. I added the collar and longer sleeves but omitted the cuffs. Those cuffs are too much retro for me. Being of vintage age I don’t feel comfortable dressing in clothes that are too vintage inspired. I fear I would look like someone who has been asleep for 50 years and just woken up! One bit of vintage (me) is OK but add the clothes and it would be overkill in my opinion.

It turned out to be a very comfortable and warm winter dress. Great for our cold evenings in Perth.